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Luckovich nails it today

Al Gore: ‘Our democracy has been hacked’

Al Gore: ‘Our democracy has been hacked’
by ROGER SIMON | 5/13/14 3:34 PM EDT

CHICAGO — You think Al Gore is upset about global warming? You ought to hear him on American politics.

“The American political system is an utter catastrophe,” he said. “Our democracy has been hacked. The country is utterly and completely paralyzed. Hog-tied. And on a measure that will mean countless deaths in the future.”

“Why?” Gore asked. “The influence of money. The average member of the House and Senate has to spend five hours per day begging rich people for money. Begging rich interests for money!”

And those rich people and rich interests don’t give you money with no strings attached. No way. In return for their money, they want votes that will benefit them. “The piper is paid,” Gore said.



MSNBC's The Last Word: Richard Clarke: Benghazi committee a ‘stunt’

THE LAST WORD 05/12/14

Richard Clarke: Benghazi committee a ‘stunt’

Former Bush official Richard Clarke called the Benghazi committee a political ploy to “smear” former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. Richard Wolffe also joins.

Video here: http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/watch/richard-clarke-benghazi-cmte-a-stunt-254406723755

Michael Tomasky: Beirut Barracks vs. Benghazi

Beirut Barracks vs. Benghazi

POLITICS 05.09.14
Michael Tomasky

Republicans are trying to criminalize a tragedy—wholly unprecedented, even after 241 Marines died because of a massive U.S. intelligence failure.

One of the most maddening things about this Benghazi nonsense is the way Republicans have gotten a lot of Americans to go along with the idea that 10 investigations of something is normal; that as long as there’s one unanswered question, one area where the administration’s position is ambiguous or where its cooperation has been anything other than the immediate handing over of any conceivably related document, we still need to get to the bottom of matters.

People believe this because—first of all, partisans in heat believe it because they want to pin some kind of blame on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But even some people who aren’t diehard partisans believe it because, well, it seems to make sense. That’s what we do. We get to the bottom of things.

That’s what we do, that is, when it comes to the law. When there’s a question of legal guilt or innocence, of course we want all the facts needed to make the proper legal determination. But what about when there is no question of legal guilt or innocence, and it’s just a political matter? Of course we still want to know what happened, but in these cases it’s not chiefly to determine guilt or innocence, since there is none; it’s to get an honest accounting of what happened to try to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

I’m trying to explain as calmly as I can here, to readers with no allegiance to either party, why what the Republicans are doing with Benghazi is so out of bounds. They are turning a political situation into a legal case. They’re trying to impose the standards of the courtroom onto a place where they clearly don’t belong. It’s an awful, poisonous precedent, especially given that the incident in question was a tragedy. Using a national tragedy, the kind of event that used to unite Americans, to turn a political matter into a legal one is just a shocking thing to do, wholly outside the American tradition.



Luckovich: Dark as a Dungeon

Michael Tomasky: The B Is Back: The Benghazi Hearings Are Bullsh*t

The B Is Back: The Benghazi Hearings Are Bullsh*t

Michael Tomasky
May 7, 2014

Instead of demanding a bipartisan Benghazi committee, the Democrats must boycott this farce, whose sole aim is to humiliate Obama and Clinton.

So House Republicans are zeroing in on the particulars of how the Select Committee to Mention the Words Clinton and Benghazi in the Same Sentence for as Long as Possible (I think that’s the official name) is going to work. On Tuesday morning, Nancy Pelosi issued a statement on the question: The panel has to be 50-50 bipartisan, she insisted, and all information must be shared on a bipartisan basis. Then, she seemed to imply, maybe the Democrats would play ball.

News broke Tuesday night that the Republicans were rejecting that and insisting on seven Republicans and five Democrats. Whatever. I don’t care if the Republicans had accepted Pelosi’s conditions and then agreed to bake cookies with the likeness of Franklin Roosevelt on top. There is no way on earth the Democrats should lend this committee the least bit of legitimacy. They absolutely must boycott this absurd, insane, sickening, repulsive, shameful, and at the same time shame-less circus.

Benghazi is and has been for some time a witch hunt that perverts all notions of democratic accountability and that obviously carries one purpose and one purpose only—the humiliation or worse of as many Democrats as possible, preferably the big cheeses (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton). Ever since Watergate, the Republicans have wanted one of their own, one in which they’re the good guys, forcing a Democratic president to resign in disgrace. They tried it with Bill Clinton, but he just kept getting more and more popular as more and more Americans came to see the Republicans’ coup d’etat, their attempt to criminalize errant but perfectly legal behavior, for what it was—an affair.



Luckovich: At a loss for words

As former Justice Stevens said this week to Congress, 'Money is not speech.'

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens tells Congress 'money is not speech'

Daniel Rothberg
April 30, 2014, 1:36 p.m.

Reporting from Washington—

Unlimited campaign expenditures “impair” the democratic process, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens told senators Wednesday, urging Congress to amend the Constitution to allow “reasonable limits” on election spending.

The Republican-appointed justice, who last testified before the Senate in his 1975 confirmation hearing, stressed the importance of creating a “level playing field” in elections. Stevens offered five points for enacting an amendment to correct what he views as an "error" in campaign finance jurisprudence originating from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn limits on campaign spending in its 1976 Buckley vs. Valeo ruling.

“While money is used to finance speech, money is not speech,” Stevens said. “After all, campaign funds were used to finance the Watergate burglaries -- actions that clearly were not protected by the First Amendment.”

Stevens, who led the court’s liberal wing, cast campaign finance rules as a nonpartisan issue and said they would allow elected officials to better serve the public. While Stevens did not mention any recent cases by name, the former associate justice criticized Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, a 2010 decision preventing Congress from restricting independent political expenditures made by corporations and unions. Stevens argued regulations should distinguish between funding from constituents and contributions from corporations or out-of-state donors.



The Hill: 56 senators back new Keystone bill

56 senators back new Keystone bill

By Laura Barron-Lopez -
05/01/14 01:03 PM EDT

Keystone XL supporters on Thursday introduced legislation they said was backed by 56 senators that would immediately greenlight the controversial oil pipeline.

"I have 56 hard yeses," Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who introduced the bill with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), told reporters Thursday.

"Beyond that I've got six or seven maybes. Our challenge is going to be to get to 60 votes," he said.

"The decision has already been made — we are moving forward on a vote on Keystone, and we are going to move forward on the energy efficiency bill," Landrieu said.

The bill will likely get severe pushback from the White House, Hoeven said.

“That is exactly what happened before,” he said. “At that time, we had more than 60 votes. By the time they were done, they actually pushed us down below 60. I don’t know if they’ve started that effort yet.”


Clueless voters prefer Congress in Republican hands--yet overwhelmingly trust Dems on the issues!

President Obama and the Dems have their work cut out for them in the mid-terms. President Obama must lead the way and speak frankly to the American people about what is at stake in November. Too many voters obviously do not understand what is at stake.

Emphasis mine.

Post-ABC News poll shows Democrats at risk in November as Obama’s approval rating falls

By Dan Balz and Peyton M. Craighill
Published: April 29 | Updated: Monday, April 28, 11:59 PM

Democrats face serious obstacles as they look to the November elections, with President Obama’s approval rating at a new low and a majority of voters saying they prefer a Congress in Republican hands to check the president’s agenda, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Democrats are not without assets as the midterm election campaigns intensify. Americans trust Democrats over Republicans by 40 to 34 percent to handle the country’s main problems. By significant margins, Americans see Democrats as better for the middle class and on women’s issues. Americans favor the Democrats’ positions on raising the minimum wage, same-sex marriage and on the broad issue of dealing with global climate change.

The Post-ABC survey sheds light on what they are. Democrats have a significant advantage on eight issues, from health care to climate change to abortion and same-sex marriage. Democrats have a smaller advantage on immigration, and the two parties are roughly equal on the economy. Republicans have the edge on three — guns, the deficit and striking the right balance on which government programs to cut.

Where Democrats have the biggest advantages are on the same contrasts that helped Obama win reelection in 2012 — indicators of which party voters believe is on their side. By 52 to 32 percent, those surveyed say they trust Democrats to do a better job helping the middle class, and by 55 to 25 percent, they trust Democrats on issues that are especially important to women.

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