The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 6, 2016: Stumbling Bloc

When catching up on recent political issues yesterday (after having been focused a bit too much on that goddamned Bundy clan and their terrorist cohorts), I ran across this piece on ThinkProgress about the House “Freedom” Caucus. One of my first thoughts while reading it was “the term  ‘Freedom’ has absolutely no connection with the group’s raison d’etre“; after reading it, I grokked that ‘raison’ – reason – didn’t enter into the equation either. An excerpt:

[House Speaker Paul] Ryan spoke about the divisions in the Republican Party at a policy forum hosted by Heritage Action in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, pointing to groups within the party which demand things that are unachievable and refuse to work across the aisle in any way.
“When voices in the conservative movement demand things that they know we can’t achieve with a Democrat in the White House, all that does is depress our base and in turn help Democrats stay in the White House,” Ryan said. “We can’t do that anymore.”

Just a few hours later, four members of the roughly 40-person House Freedom Caucus, a faction of hardline Republicans, said that they will not work with the president and that realism and compromise will cause Republicans to lose elections.

Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) directly addressed Ryan’s comments, saying that the measures the Speaker thinks are “unachievable” are actually just practical, “small things.”

“On the omnibus, the big spending legislation that happened at the end of last calendar year, our group went to leadership and we asked for a couple small things,” he said. “We said do something on this pro-life issue — after all we have this organization that gets your tax dollars and does all kinds of disgusting things. We said it doesn’t have to be defunded completely, but let’s just do something that’s going to protect the sanctity of life.”

According to a Roll Call piece from September 10th, 2015:

“The House Freedom Caucus has spoken.
On Thursday, the conservative HFC took their seventh official position: They will oppose any spending bill that doesn’t defund Planned Parenthood.

“Given the appalling revelations surrounding Planned Parenthood, we cannot in good moral conscience vote to send taxpayer money to this organization while still fulfilling our duty to represent our constituents. We must therefore oppose any spending measure that contains funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Apparently Rep. Jordan and his group are unaware – or willfully ignorant – of the fact that every investigation into the alleged “disgusting things” Planned Parenthood has been wrongfully accused of have found absolutely no evidence to back up those allegations. FFS, even Texas, after exonerating PP, is now prosecuting the criminals who produced the doctored video “proof” that Planned Parenthood was ‘selling baby parts for fun and profit.’ We all know that Texas HATES Planned Parenthood, so one would think that the turn of events there would give the Caucus pause. But, again, ‘reason’ doesn’t seem to enter into the collective mind of the Freedumb Caucus. But I digress…

The ThinkProgress excerpt continues:

“Another “small thing” Jordan pointed to was a request that legislation to reject Syrian refugees be tucked inside the must-pass omnibus spending measure. The bill would have temporarily halted Obama’s plan to bring roughly 10,000 refugees to the United States because of the persistent threats they face in Syria…
…Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) also implied Wednesday that he is not willing to compromise with others in his party, let alone with Democrats. He said that while he knows he has to be realistic with his expectations, “when you have the will of the people and their voice behind you, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.”

I love the way these (in reality) extreme policy shifts are described as “small things.” And it’s particularly ironic that what the House Freedom Caucus considers to be “small things”, which Speaker Ryan called “unrealistic”, are the same things that the current Republican Presidential candidates are running their campaigns on: overturning Roe v Wade, immigration – along with their favorite hopeless cause, repealing Obamacare. Yes, they’re still wasting time trying to overturn Obamacare, now for the 63rd time. I guess that the Repubican’s motto is “if at first you don’t succeed, keep trying and the hell with real governing.”

Pew Research has an interesting piece from October of 2015 on Congress’s “Freedom Caucus.” Here’s a snippet that I found insightful:

“…the Freedom Caucus does not officially disclose who belongs to it (aside from its nine founding members)[**], though various unofficial lists have circulated. Membership is by invitation only, and meetings are not public.”
What most distinguishes the Freedom Caucus from other House Republicans has been their willingness to defy the wishes of leadership…and to band together with like-minded Republicans who threaten to block any temporary measure to fund the government that didn’t also defund Planned Parenthood.”

**Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ) issued a “press release” on January 26th, 2015, announcing the formation of the House Freedom Caucus and its mission statement:

“The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.
The HFC’s founding members are Rep. Scott Garrett, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. John Fleming, Rep. Matt Salmon, Rep. Justin Amash, Rep. Raúl Labrador, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Rep. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Mark Meadows.”

Along with another 30-odd (very odd!) hard-right Republicans who joined the HFC, after John Boehner decided to give up the position (I suspect mainly so that he could just go home and get drunk,) this small bloc of ultra-conservatives nearly derailed their own party’s contest for the House Speakership by issuing a list of demands questions for Speaker hopefuls. A couple of their “questions” include:

“Would you ensure that the House-passed appropriations bill do not contain funding for Planned Parenthood, unconstitutional amnesty, the Iran deal, and Obamacare?”

~ and ~

“Would you commit to impeach IRS commissioner John Koskisen and pressure the Senate to take it up?”

So they also still believe that the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative groups, despite investigations showing that both religious-right AND non-religious left tax-exempt organizations were audited by the IRS? Paul Ryan is right, they DO need to be “realistic.”

This “freedumb” caucus apparently has zero interest in actual freedom, or governing, or anything beyond their own pseudo-christian-induced tunnel vision. And they’re more than happy to not only fuck with their own party, they’re delighted to fuck with the entire country. As many parents have said to erring children, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

This is our daily Open Thread–have at it!

15 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 6, 2016: Stumbling Bloc

  1. . . . let’s just do something that’s going to protect the sanctity of life.”

    In re that particular premise, I have a great idea! How about this: subtract, say, 200 billion from the “defense” budget allocation and spend it on protecting “the sanctity of life” of those millions who have fled Syria in order to save themselves and esp. their children from the horrors of the joint Assad/ISIL holocaust that’s underway in their country. Thousands of refugee children are actually starving, and will soon die without adequate nutrition — 200 billion would buy LOTS of food!

    Sanctity of life is a YUUGGE unbrella, seems to me, and if our wingnuts were something other than shallow-minded idiots, they might be able to figure that out all by themselves (btw, I well remember Matt Salmon from AZ — Napolitano kicked his ass in her first gubernatorial election — and the word “salmon” adequately describes the limits of his mentality. He’s probably good at swimming upstream).

    Bombs and guns have nothing to do with protecting anyone’s Sanctity of life; unfortunately, far too many ‘righteous’ Amurkkkans are too freaking stupid to realize it. And too greedy, too fear-laden as well. If ‘they’ seriously gave a shit, they’d argue to WAGE PEACE, NOT WAR!

    But they’ll never do that, of course, because they don’t have the brains to give a shit.

    • And what about all those children from Central America? From Mexico? From Amurkkka’s inner cities? From Chicago, even? What about people everywhere whose lives are messed up because of vicious gangs and/or corrupt politics? Sanctity of life my ass. Conservative Republicans have only one single concern, and that’s for their own self-service, their own enrichment. They care less about the life/lives any other earthly creature(s) whether Human or one of the Higher Animals from which they’ve all descended.

  2. During this weekend when many Americans will watch their only pro football game of the year I ask everyone to remember a young football player and patriot named Pat Tillman. Corp. Tillman went to war and became a killer because he was lied to. When he began to realize he had been lied to and started to speak about it he was murdered by his “comrades in arms” because he was famous enough that a lot of people would hear what he had to say. There is some doubt whether said “comrades” acted on their own or under orders but the coverup of the details of Corp. Tillman’s death was directed from above.

    Shortly after his death there was a leaked report by the only U.S. Army doctor who saw his body. Said doctor reported that Corp. Tillman was killed by three shots fired from a “comrade’s” gun, placed within a 1.5 inch group, in his forehead. There is only one way that this could have happened. The murderer, or executioner(?), took deliberate aim at his forehead while he was sitting or lying still and deliberately ended his life.

    This weekend I will toast the memory of Corp. Tillman every chance I get. I will remember and I will hope with all my heart that the events leading to his death are not carried out again.


    • The story of Pat Tillman has stuck with me, too. A rising football star left the distinct possibility of fame and fortune to serve his country. And his country murdered him. I actually think about him almost every day, because I pass a road called Tillman Drive–it’s a newish road into a small subdivision. When I first noted the name, I wondered if it’s named for him, or is it just wishful thinking on my part.

    • Tillman played his college ball at my alma mater, Arizona State Univ. and then was an AZ Cardinal. I was never that much of a football fan, but Tillman stood out locally for more than just football. He was, I thought, a whole lot more “human” than are oh, so many football players these days.

  3. We lost another today at the age of 74. He and his band always brought a smile and an occasional guffaw. R.I.P. Dan Hicks.

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