immigration reform

Futility (Boehner Repeat Rehash Remix)

Don't ask me, I'm just the Speaker of the Fucking House

“He’s never wanted to just be speaker. He’s wanted to be a historically significant speaker.”

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK04)

It seemed a strange enough thing to say at the time. Consider that John Boehner’s historical significance as Speaker of the House might well be that he is the worst Speaker in history, at least until another Republican holds the job. Mr. Cole spoke of his friend and colleague just last November; Republicans had won a bicameral majority, and the article from Carle Hulse and Jeremy W. Peters is significant to this moment, opening:

John A. Boehner does not want to be remembered as the Shutdown Speaker.

As Congress returns from recess on Monday facing a Dec. 11 deadline for funding the government, Mr. Boehner and his fellow Republican leaders are working to persuade the rank and file — furious over President Obama’s executive action on immigration — that engaging in a spending confrontation is the wrong way to counter the White House. That would set the wrong tone, they argue, as Republicans prepare to take over Congress and fulfill promises to govern responsibly.

And, well, as matters of House leadership go, kicking the can so we can do this for another week works, but the question of tone and avoiding a spending confrontation over immigration worked out just about as well as you might expect.

That is to say, Nancy Pelosi bailed Mr. Boehner out, and all she really gets in exchange is to do this again later this week.

And all of this leading to Josh Hicks’ headline today explaining “Why a DHS shutdown won’t stop Obama’s immigration orders”.

While Boehner’s allies in the House explain, as Jesse Byrnes reported yesterday, that the Speaker’s job is not in jeopardy, it’s worth noting that when Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH04) “repeatedly denied” the prospect of an ouster, it would seem someone was asking him directly.

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The Worst Speaker of the House of Representatives Ever

U.S. Capitol building at dusk on a winter's eve. (Photo credit: Peterson)

Ladies and gentlemen, the worst Speaker of the House of Representatives ever:

CNN’s Dana Bash asked Boehner whether he is concerned that, if he passes a Homeland Security bill without the immigration provisions, “it will be the end of your speakership.”

Unredited photo of Speaker of the House John Boehner.“I’m waiting for the Senate to act,” Boehner replied.

Bash persisted: But was he concerned about a rebellion in his own ranks?

“I’m waiting for the Senate to pass a bill.”

NBC’s Luke Russert asked him why he hadn’t spoken with his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in two weeks.

Boehner reiterated his position that “we’re waiting for the Senate to act.”

Politico’s Jake Sherman asked what he thought about the merits of McConnell’s plan to split the immigration issue from the funding of DHS.

“I’m waiting for the Senate to pass a bill,” Boehner repeated.

Will Congress avoid a government shutdown?

“I’m waiting for the Senate to act.”

Boehner began to walk away. “Do you think the Senate should act?” Bash teased.

The speaker gave a brave smile.

Yet perhaps the funniest line in Dana Milbank’s column goes to the author himself: “So the House speaker is leading from behind.”

This is more a convention of politics than anything else, a stab at Republican rhetoric about President Obama leading from the front or back in various crises domestic and international.

After all, nobody can justly call Boehner’s approach “leadership”.

And perhaps it is worth noting that the headline, “John Boehner, waiting for the punch” appears to be a second choice. Observing the online version address, it would seem the original headline was, “John Boehner is a spectator at his own hanging”.

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Milbank, Dana. “John Boehner, waiting for the punch”. The Washington Post. 25 February 2015.

Our Best Wishes for the Happiest of Genocide Days

Easter in the nation's capital was a dark and gloomy day with a chill breeze blowing, but U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.

In honor of our American Feast of the Genocide, how about some thematically-related cartoons?

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 28 November 2014.Adam Huber leads off, giving thanks to the internet that he might post tomorrow’s cartoon today, that in turn he might spend tomorrow either hung over or tryptocomatose.

Lalo Alcaraz, like many others, reflects on the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

• Speaking of true meanings, Adam Huber took a shot at it earlier this week.

• Or maybe Brian McFadden puts forward a more appropriate reflection on the true meaning of “Thanksgiving Day”.

―No, really. Steve Benen offered a vignette earlier this week explaining one of the great political controversies surrounding the idea of “Thanksgiving Day” that is worth the two minutes it takes the average literate American to read. It is also where we got the photo of FDR on Easter. Go figure; go fish.

Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, 25 November 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.Jen Sorensen attempts to summarize the crazy, tinfoil relative who reminds us why we need to keep the fact of attempted genocide in mind as a fundamental component of our Thanksgiving Day rituals.

Reuben Bolling offers a glimpse at Genocide Day Thanksgiving Day in Chagrin Falls.

• #TBT the time Adam Huber won the Genocide Day Cartoon Parade by starting in April.

In re the above, to the one we promise that is the last of the Huber cartoons for today. Prolific about genocide? Genocide-prolific? Can we just go with genolific? At any rate, our apologies for this post in general; we’ve known it was coming for months, having filed this cartoon away for this year’s celebration.

• We might note that Matt Tarpley managed an actual feelgood cartoon in honor of “Thanksgiving Day”. It is also worth pointing out that apparently Death closes his eyes when swinging. And yet, Death bats a thousand.

• Not to disparage the fine artists above, but Zach Weiner deserves some sort of award for skipping the holiday edition altogether. Thus, a cartoon from earlier this week that reminds us to give thanks for consumerism, undereducation, and paranoia, which really are the thematic components of what we Americans make of this day.

And while the wannabe patriots and pragmatists might moan about how people just won’t forget history and celebrate the glorious triumph of all that came after the attempted genocide, it is equally appropriate to remind them to go screw and give thanks that nobody is trading them death blankets as an act of biological warfare disguised in alleged commerce.

Otherwise, give thanks like you would for any other day, that we are still here and get to experience it, and perhaps take a moment to wonder why we put ourselves through this ritual that nobody seems to like, since we’re always muttering about the Turkey Pardon, the banality of parades, fretting over how to get the best Black Friday deals (Hint: Do your shopping last Monday, at least until next year when the new statistics show us which day actually has the best prices), or complaining that anyone would spend this miserable day of family gatherings—over tasteless ritual food and football games that more often than not have nothing to do with your favorite team—getting drunk.

But make sure to raise a wrist for genocide.

Your Republican Party: Policy Outlook Edition

GOP-logo-banner-bw

Sometimes the message couldn’t be any more clear:

With negotiators nearing an accord on permanent tax breaks for businesses worth $440 billion over 10 years, President Obama rallied Democratic opposition on Tuesday and promised a veto.

“The president would veto the proposed deal because it would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families,” said Jennifer Friedman, a White House spokeswoman.

† † †

Left off were the two tax breaks valued most by liberal Democrats: a permanently expanded earned-income credit and a child tax credit for the working poor. Friday night, Republican negotiators announced they would exclude those measures as payback for the president’s executive order on immigration, saying a surge of newly legalized workers would claim the credit, tax aides from both parties said.

(Weisman)

Really, this is what it comes to.

Then again, this is what Americans wanted, right? It’s what they voted for.

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Weisman, Jonathan. “Obama Threatens to Veto $440 Billion Tax Deal”. The New York Times. 25 November 2014.

A Long Note on Political Tradition in These United States

President Barack Obama, delivers his State of the Union speech at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 12, 2013 in Washington, DC.  (Charles Dharapak/AP)

By now of course we have become accustomed to the proposition that Republicans, once elected, would rather sit around. To some it actually seems a very sick idea; not only did the Speaker of the House demonstrate that Republicans conisder their job description to include going on vacation instead of actually working because, well, the most important part of the job is election and re-election, but in recent months the GOP has shown more and more willingness to simply admit that the inherent failure of government is more of a conservative goal than anything else.

Boehner and the band skipped out on gigs that might need Congressional attention, such as the Daa’ish question, the Ebola question, and the Immigration Reform question; despite their howls of rage regarding the latter, the fact of executive action occasionally arises when Congress refuses to pass a bill and the Speaker of the House calls on the President to use his executive authority. They could have skipped screeching themselves hoarse by simply sticking around and doing their jobs. Then again, the prior statement is controversial if only because it would appear that Congressional Republicans appear to believe their first, last, and only job is to win votes. Given their reluctance to undertake day-to-day Constitutional functions of Congress, such as advising and consenting to presidential appointments—or, as such, formally refusing the nomination—we ought not be surprised that the latest duty Republicans wish to shirk is sitting through an annual speech.

Nearly 16 years later, another Democratic president, also hated by his Republican attackers, is poised to deliver his penultimate State of the Union address. And like Pat Robertson, the idea of denying the president a SOTU invitation is once again on the right’s mind.

“Yes, there’s a risk to overreacting, but there’s a risk to underreacting as well,” said Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review. “And I fear that’s the way the congressional leadership is leaning.”

Mr. Lowry suggested one way Congress could react. “If I were John Boehner,” he said, referring to the House speaker, “I’d say to the president: ‘Send us your State of the Union in writing. You’re not welcome in our chamber.'”

Lowry may not dictate GOP decision making the way Limbaugh and Fox News do, but it’s important to note that he isn’t the only one publicly pushing the idea.

Politico reported yesterday that congressional Republicans are weighing a variety of tactics to “address” their disgust over Obama’s immigration policy, and “GOP aides and lawmakers” are considering the idea of “refusing to invite the president to give his State of the Union address.”

Late last week, Breitbart News also ran a piece of its own on the subject: “Congress should indicate to President Obama that his presence is not welcome on Capitol Hill as long as his ‘executive amnesty’ remains in place. The gesture would, no doubt, be perceived as rude, but it is appropriate.”

(Benen)

Wait, wait, wait—sixteen years ago?

Yes. Like impeachment chatter and stonewalling, Republicans want to make refusing to hear the State of the Union Address part of their standard response to any Democratic president.

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A Lion Flipping Off a Turtle

Detail of 'Animal Nuz #2261 by Eric Lewis, 22 November 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.Because how can we resist?

(Detail of Animal Nuz #226 by Eric Lewis, 22 November 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.)

The Logic of Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL05)

Chris Hayes discusses immigration reform with Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL05), who cannot explain why he thinks President Obama, out of several presidents who undertook the issue within executive purview, is the only one who ever broke the law in doing so.  On Hayes' msnbc show, "All In" (21 Nov. 2014), the Alabama congressman was incapable of even recognizing that President Ronald Reagan had granted amnesty to undocumented immigrants.

Any number of questions come to mind. There are the humorous musings about whether we might include political conservatism under the spectrum of disorders and disabilities requiring reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. And, yes, that sounds cruel for any number of reasons; first, let us clear up that yes, one of the problems with such a joke is that it trivializes much more established and objective disabilities; but then we might also point out that we are already bending over backwards to accommodate delusional behavior from many Republicans, and yes, there are mental health issues that land squarely within the ADA.

Denial can be a powerful emotional response, can’t it? If the right believes President Obama’s economic policies have failed, and they’re confronted with evidence of a falling unemployment rate, then there must be a conspiracy involving the jobless numbers. If the right believes Benghazi conspiracies are real, and they’re confronted with proof to the contrary, then the proof must be rejected.

But on Friday’s “All in with Chris Hayes,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) took this to a whole new level.

Brooks, you’ll recall, believes President Obama’s executive actions on immigration may be criminal acts that could land the president in prison. With this in mind, Chris asked a good question: “When President Reagan granted deferred action from 200,000 people from El Salvador who come here illegally, was he breaking the law in the same way?” It led to this exchange:

BROOKS: I have not examined what Bill Clinton did. This is a very serious manner. The Constitution imposes a heavy burden on us–

HAYES: No, no, no, I’m sorry. President Ronald Reagan. President Ronald Reagan, sir?

BROOKS: I think the individual facts are important, the mental intent of the actor. That case, Bill Clinton, now Barack Obama, those factors are important.

It really is a smooth evasion. He does not even try to deflect the point, just moves past it as if it doesn’t exist. One wonders how much calculation and practice goes into that maneuver, or if it is just pathological.

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Benen, Steve. “Mo Brooks and the power of denial”. msnbc. 24 November 2014.

Hayes, Chris. “Rep. Mo Brooks: Obama encouraging illegal immigration”. All In with Chris Hayes. msnbc. 21 November 2014.

A Note on Voters’ Values

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI01), promoting his budget agenda.

“It takes a truly talented individual to pack in this many falsehoods into a single paragraph.”

Steve Benen

The thing about Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI01) is that this sort of thing keeps happening. And while it certainly provides some sense of sport for commentators like Steve Benen of msnbc, there is only so much genuine laughter we might muster; the consequences of such dishonesty (ahem!) “innocent, forgetful mistakes” can be severe.

“Give us time to do immigration reform”? Well, Republicans have controlled the House for four years, during which time they haven’t even held so much as a hearing on a piece of legislation. More to the point, the Senate passed a popular, bipartisan immigration bill 512 days ago, and soon after, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised the lower chamber would act on the issue. The Republican leader then broke his word and killed the reform effort.

In other words, Obama gave Republican lawmakers “time to do immigration reform,” and the GOP did nothing. Does Ryan not remember this?

“He had two years with a super-majority of his own party”? Actually, no, Democrats had a super majority in the Senate for four months, not two years. It’s a big difference.

And it goes on.

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The Evolution of Language (Americopolitik Mix)

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

Three paragraphs. Actually, the rest of Betsy Woodruff’s article for Slate would be hilarious as long as we account for the modifier, “morbidly”.

If there is one issue that will creep into everything that happens on Capitol Hill right now, it is immigration. Whether you’re interested in spending, national security, the next attorney general, or the 2016 presidential contest, immigration will be deeply involved. And where there’s talk of immigration, there’s talk of amnesty. When Republicans use that term—and, for the most part, only Republicans use it—the word is typically shorthand for “bad immigration policy.” Asking if a Republican supports amnesty is akin to asking if someone is beating his or her spouse; it’s a loaded term, and the correct answer is always no. For conservatives, amnesty is bad. Nobody likes amnesty.

But there’s a hitch: Some of the top legislators who frequently use the term can’t actually explain what amnesty is. I spent the past few days asking Republican senators what they meant when they referred to amnesty in terms of immigration policy. The answers I got were intriguing. That’s because while Republican congressional leaders are always eager to discuss their opposition to this vague, amorphous concept, many of them are downright befuddled when asked to explain what that concept looks like in real life. Their responses ranged from straightforward to nonsensical.

When I asked Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, what specific immigration policies he was referring to when he used the term amnesty, he said, “I don’t understand the question.”

It is a vaudeville routine: What do you mean what do I mean?

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) might win the prize, though: “I think trying to talk about specific definitions that happen in a framework where nothing is working to conclusion is just not a very good way to spend time.”

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Hypocridiocy

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH8)

Hey did you hear the one about how Speaker Boehner, unwilling to draft articles of impeachment for lack of anything to impeach President Obama over, decided to assuage the hardliners in his party by filing a lawsuit?

All these months later, some might have forgotten, as the Speaker has been unable to actually manage to figure out how to actually build a complaint that won’t be thrown out of court. Indeed, did you hear the one about how the law firm the House hired backed out last month, citing political pressure, which, in the end amounted to the damage the firm would do to its reputation by attempting such a ridiculous stunt?

It is time for an update, and that comes from Josh Gerstein and Maggie Haberman of Politico:

House Speaker John Boehner’s still-unfiled lawsuit against President Barack Obama for exceeding his constitutional power is in more trouble.

For the second time in two months, a major law firm has ceased work on the lawsuit, sources say.

Attorney Bill Burck and the Quinn Emanuel firm halted preparations for the proposed suit in recent weeks, according to two sources familiar with the situation. Last month, the lawyer originally hired to pursue the case, David Rivkin of Baker Hostetler, made a similar abrupt exit.

A spokesman for Boehner declined to discuss the status of the House’s relationship with Burck and Quinn Emanuel. However, spokesman Kevin Smith said Wednesday evening that House leaders are considering having the lawsuit filed by lawyers already on the House payroll.

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