Mainstream Media Joins GOP in Abandoning Syrian Refugees

Syria

“I am not even going to try to parse the nonsense that flows through [Ben] Carson’s hateful rhetoric. It’s disproven by facts – a group of inconvenient truths members of the doctor’s party run farther from each election cycle. My issue is with mainstream media outlets. Are you not required to do more than just nod your heads and record words when potential leaders of our democracy engage in treasonous dialogue? Because you know what’s really a threat to America’s safety? Bigotry pumped throughout the Internet, the television and print for all the world to see. Reinforcing the notion in the minds of fringe groups that would destroy us that they are merely returning hate with hate.”

Read the full post on the Contemptor website.

 

The Unasked GOP Debate Question: Will Someone, Anyone, Please Drop Out of This Race?

Contempt

“So many questions in the aftermath of an ongoing exercise in excruciating national embarrassment. But the most important one remains unanswered today. With 14 candidates left in the field and the actual primaries just a couple months away, is anyone going to make like Scott Walker and go back to screwing up his or her regular day job?”

Read the full post on the Contemptor website.

 

Will Kevin McCarthy Be Able to Benghazi Bungle His Way to the Speakership?

kevin mccarthy sean hannity

Last week when Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner announced the intention to resign his post at the end of this month, I indulged in a few moments’ worth of delicious schadenfreude. They were almost painful in their sweetness – the Party of No’s Grand Marshal driven out by the lunatic fringe that looks suspiciously mainstream in 2015. But once my giddy synapses ceased firing, a horrifying realization set in. The replacement Speaker is bound to be even worse for governance, and the country in general, than the weepy tangerine. Emboldened by a mandate of GOP crazy, and possibly even one of the embedded insurrectionists, the already halting wheels of Washington democracy seem likely to come to full stop.

And then I learned who Boehner’s replacement is likely to be – House Majority Leader and California congressman Kevin McCarthy. Oy. McCarthy’s meteoric rise through the ranks began with his election to the House in 2006. From there he became Republican Chief Deputy Whip (2009-2011) and House Majority Whip (2011-2014), before replacing Eric Cantor as Leader after he was “primaried” by the Tea Party toward the back end of 2014.

Short tenure in the national legislature notwithstanding, we already know that McCarthy is no better equipped than Boehner to keep the monkeys from overrunning the zoo. In July of 2011, writer Robert Draper of The New York Times Magazine published How Kevin McCarthy Wrangles the Tea Party in Washington. He noted in the piece, “To hold the caucus together, McCarthy’s delicate approach has been to acknowledge the independence of the hot-blooded new charges while instilling in them a sense of team loyalty — and thereby moving them, ever so gently, to a victory that will be enduring rather than Pyrrhic.”

Boehner’s resignation confirms that McCarthy’s leadership approach over the last leap year has been a dismal, crushing failure. The party has continued its gleeful cannibalization. He’s also from a blue state and the GOP caucus still seems to like him. That’s even more concerning. Brimming with confidence, a smug McCarthy made the media rounds this week, apparently dismissing all those earlier dreams of enduring, cooperative victory. And then he stepped in it immediately.

MSNBC’s Steven Benen writes, “On Tuesday night, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) acknowledged a fact that everyone knows, but which Republicans aren’t supposed to admit out loud: the GOP’s taxpayer-financed Benghazi committee is all about the Republicans’ ‘strategy to fight and win’ against Hillary Clinton. It’s not, in other words, about investigating an attack that left four Americans dead.”

It was all well and good when the mockery that is the Benghazi hearings was America’s worst kept secret. But for God’s sake McCarthy, you’re not supposed to say it. Suddenly, waking from a willful coma, some members of the party admit a Leadership Void Has Hill Republicans worried about 2016. CNN journalist Manu Raju observes that “Coming on the heels of Ben Carson’s criticism of Muslims, Donald Trump’s repudiation of undocumented immigrants from Mexico and a presidential race where personal insults are flying, the sudden resignation of House Speaker John Boehner is creating an unease the party establishment has not experienced in years.”

The article goes on to feature the concerns of Senator John Cornyn of Texas. I could not offer a better assessment of these comments than that of my younger sister (I swear one day I’ll stop quoting her, but the woman is a soundbite wunderkind): “When a Republican from TEXAS says the racist rhetoric and political infighting is a problem, either hell has frozen over or somehow reality is actually penetrating the fog.”

So what now? Benen notes of McCarthy’s continuing Benghazi committee overshare fallout, “Behind the scenes, some Republican insiders are quietly starting to refer to McCarthy as ‘the new Dan Quayle.’ I don’t think they mean it as a compliment.” But the party may not have any other viable Speaker options given the short timeline. Representative Daniel Webster of Florida challenged Boehner for the gavel last year – and netted only 12 votes.

It’s a cognitively dissonant tightrope the democratically-minded of us must walk before this coming Thursday’s vote. To delight in the continued implosion of a hysterical, irresponsible party while furtively hoping they actually select a functional, honest human being to lead the team. We can’t avoid the latter. For now at least, Republicans have too much power.

Ben Carson and the Alan Keyes Cautionary Tale

Ben Carson

In February of 2013, author and retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson gave President Barack Obama a piece of his mind on issues ranging from health care to political correctness, during the National Prayer Breakfast. And a Republican star was born. Earlier this month in a column entitled The Soft Bigotry of Ben Carson, New York Times Op-Ed writer Charles Blow offered this assessment of the confrontation:

“It’s not that others have not criticized the president before or since, but it was the particularity of the racial imagery of Carson’s critique — one smart, accomplished black man undressing another in public — that gave it particular power. It insulated the attack from racial characterization. He said things from the lips of a black conservative that roiled the minds of white ones. And it represented a prominent breaking of ranks, a slicing off of black solidarity from not only Democratic loyalty but also from fidelity with this president.”

The accomplished, soft-spoken Carson currently sits just five points below 2016 Republican front-runner Donald Trump in a recent release from Public Policy Polling. That is a sentence I’d never thought I’d write in my lifetime, but I digress. Carson may be a brilliant physician but as my sister Jennifer recently and astutely observed, he’s also “frankly, one of the smartest dumb dudes alive.”

In a 2016 Republican primary campaign depressingly rife with distortions, inflammatory hate speech and blatant cynicism, Carson has not been the voice of class and reason for which many undecideds hoped. No matter how accomplished his resume or soft his tenor, the good doctor has disqualified himself over and again for the nation’s highest office – even as “progressive” Republicans and conservative media pundits enjoy their latest mainstream alienating love affair.

I’m quite sure the party’s base would love him to go on talking. Because no matter how outrageous the right has grown in its free political ignorance, as Blow highlights, there are still things white candidates (Donald Trump notwithstanding) can’t allow themselves to say. Such as these gems from the Sunday, September 20 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press:

“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

“Congress is a different story, but it depends on who that Muslim is and what their policies are, just like it depends on what anybody else is. If there’s somebody who is of any faith but they say things and their life has been consistent with things that will elevate this nation and make it possible for everybody to succeed and bring peace and harmony, then I’m with them.”

To quote Bart Simpson, Ay caramba. This was not gotcha journalism (my thoughts on the investigative dereliction of Meet the Pressmoderator Chuck Todd will be happily shared another time). This is an unqualified, racist crackpot speaking with the authority and support (silent or otherwise) of his partymates, trying to convince the rest of us that he is wizened and thoughtful enough to lead a nation of disparate peoples.

23 percent of Muslim Americans identify as black. Most of the remainder are other persons of color. Carson is a person of color, therefore untouchable no matter how hurtful and discriminatory his statements. An ironic carte blanche. See Carson shoot up the polls.

The only qualification Ben Carson seems to possess as a legitimate politician is the ability to talk (or mumble) out of both sides of his mouth. He wants everyone to succeed, peace and harmony for all, but he also wants to exclude an entire group of citizens from the White House against explicit Constitutional decree. Because 9/11 y’all. MD and skin color aside, Carson’s neck is just as red as Mike Huckabee’s.

As a longtime Illinois resident, the Republican and mainstream media’s pathetically forced Carson/Obama symmetry brings to mind the 2004 Senate contest between the future president and political activist, author and former diplomat Alan Keyes. Keyes, an African-American, demonstrated to his party’s caucus that being educated and black was far from enough to counteract Obama’s stride to Washington. The Free Republic reported at the time:

“He’s alienated almost all of the Republican party operatives throughout the state, starting with his wild-eyed rhetoric about Barack Obama’s pro-abortion stance (the ‘slaveholders’ position, similar to a terrorist, etc) and his attack on Dick Cheney’s gay daughter (Keyes called Mary Cheney a ‘selfish hedonist’).”

One has to talk a lot of crazy to alienate the Cheney family. 11 years later, Keyes exists as a frightening, if somewhat humorous political footnote. I eagerly await Carson’s similar recession from the public consciousness.