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Archive for the ‘Grand Obstructionist Party’ Category

In the wake of the ruling yesterday by Florida Judge Roger Vinson against the Affordable Care Act as “unconstitutional,” the Republican Party is absolutely beside itself with joy and cheering that the health care law is now all but defeated. Nothing to see here, move along. But as they happily bow at the feet of the health insurance companies and the lobbyists that they serve, let’s put some of this into the perspective of reality for a moment.

Yes, the ruling was troubling for those who were going to benefit from it with affordable health care that has eluded their grasp for so long. Yes, the ruling is just what the health insurance companies ordered over the recommendations of actual doctors, which is also the point. But is the Affordable Care Act really “over” as many are running victory laps are predicting? No, not necessarily. I will defer to those with more expertise on the many details of the ruling and the law like Ezra Klein does so well here.

But there’s one little thing I would like to point out here. After the ruling came out yesterday every Republican official in Florida was racing to be the first to declare the ACA a defeat and the true death panels, the health insurance companies and the Republicans who carry out their wishes, the clear winners. From our newly elected Gov. Rick “Who was Never Charged With Medicare Fraud” Scott, right down to every local Tea Bagger wannabe GOP involved in government in any way, they all rushed to crow about the ruling.

One in particular gave me pause. Newly elected Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. In her news release declaring victory, she said this:

“Today’s ruling by Judge Vinson is an important victory for every person who believes in the freedoms granted to us by our Constitution,” said Attorney General Bondi. “This proves that the federal government requiring Americans to purchase health insurance is in fact unconstitutional. In addition, the bipartisan effort from Attorneys General across the country shows the federal government that we will not back down from protecting the constitutional rights of our citizens.”

Really? This proves that the federal government requiring Americans to purchase health insurance is in fact unconstitutional.” Actually it “proves” no such thing. (Perhaps we should ask for proof of Bondi’s law degree.) What it “proves” is that one more Republican judge ruled against it. Two Democratic judges also upheld the ACA. Yet Bondi needs no more proof than this one ruling. She’s good! Thanks for playing!
That aside, it also shows that the The Family Research Council and the religious right found a judge who agrees with them so much that he used some of the very language in that ruling that they use. What a coincidence, huh?
Even beyond that, it appears that groups like The Family Research Council (also branded as a hate group by the SPLC, mind you) can have great influence on judges. Furthermore, it also appears that the religious right and The Tea Party and their corporate funders with big pockets also have “great influence”  in elections, thanks to that other court ruling: Citizens United.
Of course, there’s no “proof” of that, it just looks that way.  But hey, what do I know? I’m no Attorney General.

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Well, here’s something you don’t see every day, an “honest” Republican. So honest in fact that he’s leaving the Party, but not before he states his reasons in a column published in the Tallahassee Democrat. He’s former Florida Rep. Randy Ball of Miami, and former criminal justice adviser for former Gov. Charlie Crist who left before new Gov. Rick Scott had a chance to ask him to resign.

As for his reasons? Well, his words speak for themselves:

“Republican leaders live in a fairy land where everything good — sunshine and bright blue skies, leprechauns and laughing daffodils — is bestowed by the wise Republican king, while everything bad — mold, dark nights and dragons — is inflicted by the Democrats and their snow queen,” Ball writes. “The dark must be thrown back, the evil crushed. And Republicans in their gleaming armor are the ones to do it. By golly, we will not vote for a Mother’s Day resolution if a Democrat submits it!”

Not only would Republicans “not vote for a Mother’s Day resolution if  Democrat submits it,” they would even go so far as to redefine rape to restrict abortions which are already restricted under existing federal law (and convince at least one Democrat to go along with them.) Let’s hope those “wise Republican kings” never have to face the consequences of this law they want to impose on “Mom” and all women.

To Randy Ball, I’ve got to say this: good call.

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The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched it’s “Drive To 25″ advertising campaign “to hold 19 vulnerable House Republicans accountable for choosing a partisan plan that will cost jobs and make America less competitive over the President’s common sense solutions to create jobs and get the economy moving again.”

During the campaign the DCCC will run radio ads, web ads, automated and live phone calls and e-mails in the targeted districts.

Well, here’s a shocker! Florida’s own controversial Republicans Allen West and David Rivera are listed among the 19 “vulnerable” Republicans targeted by the campaign. Why, who could have guessed?

David Rivera, in addition to jobs policy, has other problems as well, because of all the financial disclosure scandals which surfaced both before the election and since, the latest being that Rivera paid himself nearly $60,000 in unexplained campaign reimbursements over the eight years he served in the state Legislature. That’s in addition to the probe over “Millennium Marketing, a company owned by Rivera’s mother and godmother that received $510,000 from the Flagler Dog Track as part of a deal for Rivera to lead a pro-slots political campaign on behalf of the parimutuel.” Rivera “denied receiving any money from the dog track, earlier this month admitted to receiving $132,000 in undisclosed loans from Millennium — loans Rivera says he has since repaid.” Then there’s “Rivera’s campaign expenses, including $30,000 he paid to Millennium for consulting in 2006, and $75,000 he paid last year to a now-defunct consulting company owned by the daughter of a longtime aide. Rivera has denied any wrongdoing.”

As for Allen West, among his problems aside from jobs policy? Well, that he’s Allen West. Need I say more?

Here’s the full list of those “vulnerable” members of the GOP:

Lou Barletta (PA-11)
Charlie Bass (NH-02)
Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25)
Steve Chabot (OH-01)
Chip Cravaack (MN-08)
Robert Dold (IL-10)
Sean Duffy (WI-07)
Blake Farenhold (TX-27)
Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)
Nan Hayworth (NY-19)
Joe Heck (NV-03)
Robert Hurt (VA-05)
Thad McCotter (MI-11)
Patrick Meehan (PA-07)
Dave Reichert (WA-08)
David Rivera (FL-25)
Jon Runyan (NJ-03)
Joe Walsh (IL-08)
Allen West (FL-22)

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Yesterday the U.S. House voted to abolish public financing for presidential campaigns.

Democrat Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) proposed an amendment to the bill saying “it would have safeguarded our security funds for local law enforcement.” She was referring to the security budget for the upcoming 2012 Republican convention in her city, Tampa, Florida. She went on to say:

“I’m waving some red flags here with the help of my hometown to say this is expensive and we’re going to fight tooth and nail to have it covered,” she told the Buzz. “We’re not going to have the local taxpayers foot that bill.”

Well, her amendment was quickly killed, the voting commenced, and abolished public financing.

Voting in favor of the bill was Rep. Mike Bilirakis (R-FL). Well, later in the day, the following details came out concerning Rep. Bilirakis:

A spokesman for Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, notes that the lawmaker has been working with the governor’s office to get the convention designated as a National Special Security Event and obtain federal funding that way.

“Rep. Bilirakis is acutely aware of the security needs of the upcoming political conventions, especially in the aftermath of the Rep. (Gabrielle) Giffords shooting,” Creighton Welch said.

So Rep. Bilirakis gets to vote “against the cake” but eat it too.

Sounds like a big old slice of hypocrisy to me. But then Rep. Bilirakis is an old pro in that department. Just check his Twitter feed sometime for starters.

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Marco Rubio and David Rivera are making their respective debuts as two of the newest members in the House and Senate in Washington. How are they doing? What have they done for you lately? Well, today I thought we should play a little catch up, so here we go.

Tea Party? What Tea Party?

Starting his career in Washington, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-U-Kidding-Me-FL) made news right off the bat by giving a big brush-off to the Tea Party that were largely responsible for putting him there in the first place. When asked if he would now be joining the Tea Party Caucus, Rubio said “not so much.”

“Really what I think the strength of the tea party is that it comes from the grass-roots,” Rubio told a group of Florida reporters Wednesday in an interview in his temporary Senate office. “That it is not a political organization, it’s not something run by politicians or people seeking higher office, but rather it is a movement of every day citizens from all walks of life. That’s the strength of the tea party: that it’s not a political organization run by people out of Washington. My concern is a tea party caucus could intrude on that.”

So in other words, the Tea Baggers are a grass-roots movement to get candidates like Rubio elected, but they shouldn’t necessarily have a voice in policy making in Washington?

“Some activists have taken note of Rubio’s reluctance to join the caucus — which meets for the first time Thursday — and expressed concern; others have said he’ll be judged on how he votes.”

Just how much of an observation the Tea Party will have from their vantage point under his bus remains to be seen, but here’s a hint of things to come. One of his first announcements on Wed. was that he will co-sponsor his first bill, one which will repeal the health care law. So if the Tea Baggers really don’t want a “government takeover” of their health care, well then enjoy the symbolic gesture Rubio made yesterday. In his quest to go backwards, Rubio proves once again that he’s all about talking points and little substance.

“Thanks Mom!”

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio’s bud from South Florida, newly elected Rep. David Rivera (Re-Writing-Disclosure-Forms-FL) is in a bit of a pickle. He has begun his career in the House with lots of “splainin’ to do” over campaign donations, disclosures, “thank-you campaigns,” and hiding behind his mother and godmother’s skirts. It’s quite an involved little tale, so rather than try to bring you up to speed here, I’ll refer you to a couple of timeline summaries:

Investigators look into Rep. Rivera’s `thank you’ spending

Do The Right Thing-Step Aside

Meanwhile, new Republican House Speaker John Boehner doesn’t want so much to get involved. When asked about Rep. Rivera’s “problems” he basically washed his hands of it all.

“As I understand the allegations against Mr. Rivera, they don’t involve any of his congressional service,” Boehner said. “These were activities that took place before he was elected. And I think we’re waiting to see how this plays out.”

When asked similar questions, Marco Rubio said pretty much the same thing, in almost the same words. (Shocking, I know that Rubio would spew mere talking points from the Speaker!)

Rivera’s close friend, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, reacted similarly to Boehner: “I’m aware of the issue that’s out there but when something like that is happening, it’s always appropriate not to just comment on it and let it play itself through.”

So there you go. The month of January and the progress made by two of the newly elected members from the Republican Party of Florida. If you like corruption and going backwards in time, then they’re doing a bang up job, wouldn’t you say?

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While we listen in on the second day of the Republicans in the House making their arguments in the charade of “repealing” the health care reform law passed last year, it’s important to point out one more development in the lawsuit filed originally by former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. The lawsuit argues that the law is unconstitutional. In his run for the Governor’s mansion McCollum ran largely on the promise of “protecting Floridians” from health care reform. Never mind the cost to taxpayers from that very lawsuit which threatened to take away reforms that were popular among Florida voters. 20 other states joined in the lawsuit, along with business interests with a stake in the fight. Of course, McCollum lost the election to someone even worse as far as health care laws are concerned, Rick Scott, formerly known from Columbia/HCA, of Medicare fraud fame. (Scott himself was never charged with a crime.)

Today we learned that six more states have joined the lawsuit challenging the health care legislation that Republicans claim they want to “repeal and replace.” Or as some have said, actually “repeal and forget.” That’s now a total of 26 states jumping on the lawsuit bandwagon: Iowa, Ohio, Kansas, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Maine.

Not exactly surprising, many state officials who joined the lawsuit may have pretty good reasons for doing so. Like their Republican colleagues in the House who, as I write are grandstanding in their effort for “repeal,” they are big beneficiaries of campaign contributions from, wait for it….the health care industry!

From The Center For Public Integrity:

The state officials who joined together to file a lawsuit challenging federal health care reform have collectively received at least $5 million in campaign contributions from the health industry over the course of their political careers, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis.

Using data compiled by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, the Center found that top recipients of industry money include Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has received more than $1 million from health care professionals since 1996, and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, who took in at least $970,163 from the industry starting in 1992, when he was a state senator, until he left the governor’s office this week. Other major recipients involved in the lawsuit include former Pennsylvania Attorney General and newly-elected Governor Tom Corbett, who has received about $830,000, and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, with more than $770,000.

The money has flowed from a variety of interests ranging from hospitals and drug companies to health care insurers and doctors. Many oppose the mandate in the new law requiring Americans to buy health care coverage.

Florida Attorney General, Republican Pam Bondi has now continued with the lawsuit, saying she is taking up the fight “in the interests of families.” As those six states joined the lawsuit, Bondi said “It sends a strong message that more than half of the states consider the health care law unconstitutional and are willing to fight it in court. “I look forward to continuing to defend Florida’s families and businesses against this unconstitutional law and upholding the Constitution.”

In the interest of families? Bondi has also received campaign contributions from the health care industry:

Pam Bondi, who succeeded McCollum as attorney general and will take up his cause in the lawsuit, received about $75,000 from the industry, some $64,000 of which came from health professionals. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece this month, she said “our lawsuit, together with a similar lawsuit filed by Virginia’s attorney general, has exposed the health-care law’s threat to individual liberty and to the constitutional structure that the Founders designed as a means of protecting that liberty.”

As far the claim that the law is unconstitutional? Not necessarily according to The Center For American Progress, who issued a statement Tuesday signed by more than 125 legal scholars saying the law is constitutional.

As the Republicans in the House pull their “repeal Obamacare” stunt in front of the cameras for political gain, it’s pretty clear they’re acting on behalf of the health insurance companies they meet with behind closed doors who help them craft their arguments. Just like their colleagues in the House, state officials who have joined Bondi’s lawsuit have their own agendas as well.

Agendas so far to the tune of $5 million.

h/t Progress Florida

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(UPDATED BELOW)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) the “Darling Of The Tea Party?” Maybe not so much.

Rubio rose in the Republican Party and on to the U.S. Senate largely by appealing to the Tea Party, with his fiscally conservative mantras (never mind those pesky investigations!) that gained him popularity from Tea Bagger types.

Now that he’s got their votes, it looks as though he, like many of his newly crowned Tea Party colleagues may be abandoning the very constituents he made all those promises to. Just as predicted, his Tea Bagger persona may have begun morphing back into the Republican mold he was fitting himself into all along.

Sorry Tea Baggers, looks like the joke’s on you.

No, Marco Rubio isn’t letting any “grassroots” grow under his feet.

From Politico:

An aide to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told POLITICO that he’s still mulling whether to join the official Tea Party caucus on Capitol Hill.
“Senator Rubio is proud of his relationship with the tea party movement and shares its commitment to tackling the debt, defending the free enterprise system and restoring our limited government tradition,” said Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos. “He simply has not made any decisions about any caucus memberships.”

Shorter Rubio: “Talking point, talking point, hey it’s been great, thanks for the votes and the cash memories! Now excuse me while I join the good old Washington insiders, politics as usual boys club. See you around!”

Wow! Bummer for those of you in the Tea Party, but hey, can’t say we didn’t try to warn you.

It sure looks like you’ve bagged yourself a big ole’ heap of buyer’s remorse.

h/t: Senatus

UPDATE:

Also not part of his Tea Party fans plans, there’s this on Afghanistan:

Sen. Marco Rubio spent the weekend in Pakistan and Afghanistan and said he found encouraging signs, but he criticized the Obama administration’s goal of beginning to withdraw U.S. troops this summer.

“I think we are on the timeline this year to have some real good news and make some significant progress,” the Florida Republican said Monday in a conference call with reporters from Kabul. “But I think if you attach a date to it … you are really creating a difficult situation. The bad guys, the Taliban and even al-Qaida, must know all they have to do is wait.”

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