Thursday, October 29, 2015

Last Call For Ay, Carly! Con't.

Carly Fiorina spoke the most in last night's GOP debate trainwreck into the sun on CNBC, but while much as been made on her misleading attacks on Hillary Clinton, very few people noticed what Ian Millhiser picked up last night: Fiorina is an even better example than Trump of the dire consequences of the false "government must be run like a business" mentality that Republican corporatists espouse.

The minimum wage and Social Security are both unconstitutional, according to Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina — a view that puts her at odds with both longstanding precedents and the text of the Constitution. 
Fiorina revealed her unusual understanding of the nation’s founding text during Wednesday night’s Republican presidential candidates’ debate. In response to a question on whether the federal government should help workers set up retirement plans, Fiorina offered two sweeping declarations about what the nation’s leaders can and cannot do. “There is no Constitutional role for the federal government in setting up retirement plans. There is no Constitutional role for the federal government to be setting minimum wages,” according to the former corporate CEO.

Now Fiorina is held up as some sort of great moderate hope for the GOP that will atract women back to the GOP, but the reality is she admits that she thinks both the minimum wage and Social Security are unconstitutional, and nobody bothered to call her on this.  It's even more depressing when you take a look at her entire response in context to CNBC's Sharon Epperson.

EPPERSON: So you wouldn't agree -- you wouldn't agree with a start for 401(k) for businesses or anything like that? 
FIORINA: I think it's a wonderful that that businesses start a 401(k). The point I'm making is this, the Federal Government should not be in a lot of things. 
There is no Constitutional role for the Federal Government in setting up -- retirement plans. There is no Constitutional role for the Federal Government to be setting minimum wages... 
EPPERSON: Thank you very much. 
FIORINA: ... The more the Government gets engaged in the economy, the slower the economy becomes. The more the Government gets engaged in the economy, it is demonstrably true... 
EPPERSON: Thank you, the rules say one minute. 
FIORINA: ... The more the big, the powerful, the wealthy and the well-connected are advantaged. 
EPPERSON: Thank you, Ms. Fiorina. We appreciate it. Thank you, thank you.

Understand that the Fiorina perspective is that it's government regulation that is causing income inequality in America and not corporate greed, which is a bit like saying firefighters (those dastardly government employees that they are and all) are responsible for arsonists.  In fact, the whole "Democrats are socialists" thing gets advanced here to the rampant corruption of Soviet era government officials who exist only to empower oligarchs.

This would be funny if it wasn't primarily Republican lawmakers actually doing this, but Fiorina is arguing that government itself only exists to make the rich richer, and that efforts to stop that only make it worse.

It's arguably the nastiest arrow in the "GOP making sure government oversight can never work" quiver and it's the heart of her campaign.  But understand what Fiorina wants is a world where corporations rule the planet with her at the helm.

Dirty Deeds Done Relatively Expensively

In 2014, Republican Thom Tillis beat Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina, helped in no small part by a flood of super-PAC commercials championing Tillis's leadership in the NC state Senate.  Now we find out that one single super-PAC donor gave $4.7 million dollars to help buy Tillis his seat, and we'll never know who that wealthy donor is who used that PAC to get around campaign finance limits.

A recent tax filing by Carolina Rising, a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, shows that in 2014 the group spent $4.7 million on ads that had one thing in common: touting the legislative accomplishments of Thom Tillis, who was then North Carolina’s speaker of the House. That year, Mr. Tillis also happened to be trying to unseat Kay Hagan, the incumbent Democratic senator. 
Carolina Rising spent the money in a three-month blitz leading up to Election Day, but we may never learn where these millions came from. The partial disclosure required of 501(c)(4) outfits means that while we do know that 98.7 percent of the group’s revenue came from a single donor and that virtually every penny of it was used to further the cause of Mr. Tillis’s campaign, we don’t know who Carolina Rising’s secret benefactor was
John Koskinen, the I.R.S. commissioner, is scheduled to testify today before the Senate Finance Committee at yet another hearing on the agency’s heightened scrutiny of certain politically active 501(c)(4) groups in 2010-12. But what we should really be paying attention to is the increasing use of dark money to influence our elections, and the rising number of groups that devote themselves to a single candidate (including several, already, in this cycle’s presidential campaign). Before the 2014 campaign, nonprofits like that didn’t exist.

This is what a post-Citizens United America means: a single donor can give unlimited money anonymously in order to influence elections, and we have to call it Constitutionally-protected free speech.

Still, groups like these are obliged to follow some basic rules: 501(c)(4) organizations are not supposed to spend a majority of their resources on political activity, a requirement that leads to impressive accounting and definitional acrobatics. More important, these groups are not supposed to function for the private benefit of an individual or a select group. 
Carolina Rising appears to have broken both rules. Within five months of being formed, and just three months before the general election, Carolina Rising kicked off an onslaught of television ads applauding Mr. Tillis for his work on education and health care in North Carolina. The ads never asked viewers to vote for Mr. Tillis. 
Perhaps this framing was meant to allow the group to claim that it was talking about issues, rather than supporting the candidate outright. But the firm buying the ads on behalf of Carolina Rising, Crossroads Media, repeatedly described the “issue” in its ads as some variation of being pro-Thom Tillis. In at least one contract, the stated issue was “supporting Thom Tillis, senatorial candidate for N.C. (R) - election on 11/4/14.” 
Dallas Woodhouse, the Republican consultant who ran Carolina Rising, did away with any further pretense when he was interviewed live by a local news channel at the Tillis campaign’s election-night victory celebration. Sporting a Thom Tillis hat, Mr. Woodhouse, who was named executive director of the state’s Republican Party last month, was asked about his group’s spending “a whole lot of money to get this man elected.” 
Mr. Woodhouse responded, “$4.7 million. We did it.” 
Yet less than a year later, when it came time for Carolina Rising to report its activities to the I.R.S., it said it had not engaged in “direct or indirect political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office.”

And this is why I have little hope about winning the House back anytime soon, and I'm very worried about retaking the Senate.  Republicans have billions to spend on congressional and state elections next year through these dark money groups that Democrats simply can't compete with, and the GOP will certainly continue to attack the IRS for doing its job to try to prevent these abuses.

Once the primaries for the states are settled, you can bet we'll see the full onslaught of the billions in dark money on the airwaves heading for November 2016, and I'm not at all sure if the Dems can weather the tide, or if we'll be drowned by it.

Should the GOP get full control of our government, it's over.

Stopped Clock Is Right Alert

Hey look, even Chuckles Krauthammer can be correct once in a century or so.

Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer on Tuesday dismissed House Republicans resolution to begin impeachment proceedings for IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, noting that none of the Republican investigations into the Obama administration have been successful. 
"This is not going to end well," he said on Fox's "Special Report." "Republicans in the Congress have shown that they have no ability to conduct successful investigations of this administration. Everything they have touched has failed or backfired, even Benghazi."

Krauthammer said that even though he thinks that House Republicans found "prima facie evidence" showing that Hillary Clinton made misleading statements about what sparked the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, the latest House hearing with Clinton was unsuccessful. 
"If you can't score on that, you're not going to score on this," he said. "This is a waste of energy."

I have to agree with Chuck on both points:  House Republicans have failed time and time again to score any real damage on the Democrats since 2010, because they're a bunch of morons. (We keep electing them though, so what does that say about us?)

Still, unless Koskinen is even more incompetent than the House GOP, he'll be fine, and after Benghazi, and with Planned Parenthood hearings coming next year, it's impossible for the House GOP to shake charges of political witch hunts heading into the 2016 elections.

Hell's bells, they actually might make a hero out of the damned IRS chief.  Imagine that.


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