The Latest, Greatest Obama Scandal – UmbrellaGate

The Latest, Greatest Obama Scandal

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President Obama is now under fire for not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR scandals. By now, you’re probably familiar with Benghazi and the IRS bullying, and perhaps you’ve heard about the Associate Press scandal, but that’s pretty boring fare beyond the Beltway.

In the Heartland, however, average Americans are incensed about UmbrellaGate. Perhaps you haven’t heard the details yet – word in the Midwest is that Obama is so lowdown and dirty that he makes MARINES hold his umbrella for him, out of sheer spite. Can you believe his audacity?!? 

<Hyperventilates into brown paper bag>

“So what really happened?,” you may ask. On Thursday, President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan held a joint press conference in the Rose Garden. It began to rain during the press conference, but they weren’t quite finished, and so – rather than allow the visiting diplomat to stand in the rain – Obama signaled for umbrellas for the Prime Minister and himself. Because of the diplomatic significance of this international event, two Marines held the umbrellas over President Obama and the Prime Minister while they concluded their business.

You might also ask, “Why were the Marines present at a press conference in the first place?” That is a fair question, and one that the New York Daily’s Dan Friedman explains admirably in Thursday’s “When Marines Hold Umbrellas”:

There are usually four Marines detailed to the White House at any given time. They volunteer for what is considered the exclusive duty. Their main duty is to act as (mostly ceremonial) guards outside the West Wing lobby, where they open and close the door for White House officials.

They work in 30-minute shifts for as long as the president is working in the West Wing, finishing when he retires to his private quarters. They are familiar sight to people who visit the White House and visible to tourists outside the gates on the Pennsylvania Avenue. They aim to be solemn an unflinching. Colleagues lauded a Marine who didn’t react when a Christmas tree feel next to him in 2006 as example for successors.

The Marines work while the President is at work in the West Wing, and finish he retires to his private quarters. Attending events like Obama’s Rose Garden presser with Erdogan Thursday is another part of the Marines’ duties.

Neither the White House press office, nor a Marine Corp spokesman, Capt. Gregg Wolf, could immediately cite another example of Marine’s holding up umbrellas for a president and visiting dignitary. But Wolf said it is “extremely rare.”

Well, that all sounds pretty legitimate, but much of Middle America – especially our conservatives – requires more evidence before absolving any Chief Executive accused of misconduct. They just need to see it with their own eyes. Thankfully, there is a 31-second video clip available for viewing on YouTube.

<Breathes big sigh of relief>

This doesn’t seem like much of a scandal, does it? Enter the right-wing spin that dominates discourse in the Heartland, and it becomes – without any shred of doubt or disbelief – a debacle on the grandest scale, one that confirms the long-simmering suspicions of many that our president secretly harbors some diabolical desire to grind the white man and his culture beneath his Socialist, Commie, Kenyan, Black Power-loving boots.

<Groans, reaches for the Rolaids>

Because I have an intelligent audience, whom I can trust to apply the appropriate critical frame of reference befitting a liberal, please find below several photographs and memes revolving around the UmbrellaGate “incident,” presented without comment.

Thanks for reading, and please, do enjoy the irony. 🙂

Corey McLaughlin

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The Tea Party and Immigration Reform: What Positions Are They Taking?

The Tea Party and Immigration Reform: What Positions Are They Taking?

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We are seeing the various Tea Party organizations voicing their views on immigration reform this week, so I thought it might be beneficial to provide a snapshot of their arguments at this point in the process. Below, please find five articles outlining the positions advocated by various Tea Party groups.

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Corey McLaughlin

1)   Tea Party Patriots op-ed on May 1st:

“On Wednesday, Tea Party Patriots’ co-founder Jenny Beth Martin penned an op-ed on Breitbart.com decrying the immigration bill as “Obamacare Redux…

 “This is not about amnesty,” she wrote. “It is not about illegals. It is about how government has gone off the rails. Just like Obamacare that was negotiated behind closed doors, any legislation cooked up in a secretive gang-like attitude among D.C. politicians is not the kind of system the forefathers had in mind.”

Source:Tea Party Leader Labels Immigration Bill ‘Obamacare Redux’,” written by Benjy Sarlin for Talking Points Memo and published on 05/02/13.

2)   Tea Party Unity conference call on May 2nd:

“Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies and a GOP witness at last month’s Senate hearings on immigration reform, laid out his strategy for stopping the reform bill on a Tea Party Unity conference call Thursday.”

Source:Krikorian Lays Out Strategy to ‘Kill’ Immigration Bill, Attacks ‘Big Religion’ SBC, ‘Jerk’ Graham, ‘Water Boy’ Rubio,” written by Miranda Blue for Right Wing Watch and published on 05/07/13.

3)   Heritage Foundation report on May 6th:

“Even though the 2012 presidential election put an end to Mitt Romney’s idea that 47 percent of Americans were moochers “who are dependent upon government,” the Heritage Foundation on Monday doubled down on that thinking, releasing a report that claimed that immigration reform could cost the country $6.3 trillion.”

Source:Heritage’s Fatally Flawed Study Doubles Down on Romney’s 47 Percent,” written by Marshall Fitz for Think Progress and published on 05/06/13.

4)   Tea Party Express, TheTeaParty.Net, Revive America, and Americans For Tax Reform’s on May 6th:

“Several conservative activists and tea party group leaders are meeting with Sen. Marco Rubio Tuesday afternoon to discuss immigration reform, including a list of what they support – and don’t.

Tea Party Express, TheTeaParty.Net and Revive America leaders as well as Americans For Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist are expected to be among the more than two dozen grassroots conservative leaders huddling with the Florida Republican. The groups in the meeting support immigration reform.

[The Heritage Foundation opposes immigration reform.] Other key conservative groups like Freedom Works and Club for Growth — two that supporters have tried to get to step up support for immigration reform — have maintained their silence on the issue.”

Source:Immigration’s new ally: Tea partiers,” written by Anna Palmer for Politico and published on 05/07/13.

5)   True the Vote on May 7th:

“True the Vote, a Tea Party group purporting to combat voter fraud, is now rallying against the Senate’s immigration bill. In a fundraising email to supporters, True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht warned that the bill presents a “golden opportunity” to allow “millions of newly legalized immigrants” to “undermine our electoral system.”

Source:Voter Suppression Group Fear Mongers Over Immigration Reform: It Will Allow ‘Millions’ To Vote,” written by Aviva Shen for Think Progress and published on 05/07/13.

Will Midwestern Senators Face Electoral Repercussions for Yesterday’s Failed Vote?

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Will Midwestern Senators Face Electoral Repercussions for Yesterday’s Failed Vote?

The American electorate, who in polls demonstrated a 90% preference for enhanced background checks, will have their first opportunity to choose new representatives in next fall’s midterms elections. How likely are Midwestern progressives and moderates to make such changes, and when?

Time is on their Side

Voter sentiment regarding the Manchin-Toomey amendment can be expected to fade as time passes, therefore anger over the vote can be expected to yield its maximum influence in the 2014 midterm elections, and to decline in subsequent elections.

The problem is that most of our region’s senators – 17 out of 24 – still have four years or more to sit back and let their constituents forget about the whole thing, regardless of how they voted.

For Democrats, this isn’t much of a problem. Half of the Midwestern (and Democratic) senators who voted Yea won’t seek reelection again until 2018, so they have plenty of time yet.

Republicans, however, benefit equally from fading memories. The majority of the senators who voted Nay on the amendment – 10 out of 12 – will enjoy at least four years before they will face reelection. Disgruntled voters will have to wait for 2016 to see their best opportunity to effect change, when two-thirds of the senators who voted Nay on the amendment – 8 out of 12 – will seek reelection.

The 2014 Midterms

In the 2014 Midterms, the big question appears to be “Can the Democrats hold the line?” Five of the seven Midwestern Senate seats that will come up for reelection in 2014 are currently held by Democrats. At least one of those seats is in danger of flipping to Republican.

  • Only one Midwestern senator who voted Nay on the amendment will be up for reelection in 2014 – Pat Roberts (R-KS). Roberts is extremely likely to win reelection.
  • Two Midwestern senators who voted Yea will be seeking reelection in 2014 – Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Al Franken (D-MN). Both Durbin and Franken are expected to retain their seats.
  • Complicating the matter, four of the seven current senators have publicly stated that they will retire after this term – Mike Johanns (R-NE), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Carl Levin (D-MI), and Tim Johnson (D-SD). The Nebraska seat is likely to remain Republican. Iowa could be very competitive, depending upon the quality of the Republican nominee. Michigan leans Democratic, but could also be rather competitive. The South Dakota seat seems likely to flip to Republican.

The Senate seats of Roberts, Durbin, and Franken look safe for the incumbents, so in the Midwest the Democrats chances in 2014 are riding entirely on who wins the seats of three of the four retiring senators. Will the Democrats be able to hold Harkin’s seat in Iowa and Levin’s seat in Michigan, while successfully defending Johnson’s seat in South Dakota?

Bottom Line in 2014:

Best Case Scenario – Democrats hold the line, and the region’s Senate seats remain balanced, 12 – 12.

Most Likely Scenario – Republicans pick up a seat in South Dakota, and the region’s Senate representation leans GOP, 13 – 11.

My Advice – Midwestern Democrats should fight hard to hold the line in the Senate, but look to the House of Representatives for electoral gains.

The 2016 Election

In 2016, Midwestern voters will see nine of their 24 senators come up for reelection. All nine are Republicans. The 2016 election will be the Democrats best chance at shifting their Senate representation to a more moderate view.

  • Eight of these nine senators voted Nay on the amendment – Dan Coats (R-IN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Hoeven (R-ND), Rob Portman (R-OH), John Thune (R-SD), and Ron Johnson (R-WI).
  • Only one of the senators who voted Yea will be seeking reelection – Mark Kirk (R-IL). 

Bottom Line in 2016: It is conceivable that Democrats could pick up several of the open seats in 2016. At least half of these Senate races should prove to be competitive, though it is far too soon to prognosticate.

Conclusion

If Midwestern Democrats are going to harness the voters’ outrage over yesterday’s failed Senate vote, they will need to be both patient and pragmatic. In the midterms, that energy is likely to affect the composition of the House of Representatives more than the actual Senate, where the vote took place. Still, if Democrats can play defense in the Senate while pursuing gains in the House in 2014, the party’s prospects in 2016 appear to be much brighter.

Corey McLaughlin

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Background Check Amendment Fails in Senate – Midwestern Analysis

Background Check Amendment Fails in Senate – Midwestern Analysis

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Well, The Manchin-Toomey amendment failed to pass in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 54 – 46, just six votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome the promised Republican filibuster. The amendment might be dead, but this fight is far from over; gun control is certain to be a central issue in the coming 2014 midterm elections.

 

How Did the Midwestern Senators Vote?

Each of the twelve states of the Midwest holds two Senate seats, for a total of 24. Believe it or not, Democrats and Republicans each hold twelve. The vote on the Manchin-Toomey amendment was largely along party lines, and split evenly, 12 – 12.

 

How Did your Senator Vote?

Of the twelve Midwestern Republican Senators, only one voted yes – Mark Kirk of Illinois. If you live in Illinois, please contact Sen. Kirk and voice your approval.

http://www.kirk.senate.gov/?p=offices

Of the twelve Midwestern Democratic Senators, only one voted no –Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. If you live in North Dakota, please voice your disapproval. Let her know that you vote, and you are not pleased.

http://www.heitkamp.senate.gov/contact.cfm

 

Additional Observations

Two-thirds of the Midwest’s Nay votes were cast by senators who will be up for reelection in 2016 (8 out of 12).

Five of the Midwest’s twelve Yea votes were cast by senators who are up for reelection in 2014.

Six of the Midwest’s twelve Yea votes were cast by senators who will be up for reelection in 2018.

 

State by State Breakdown (12 Nays – 12 Yeas)

Illinois:            Dick Durbin (D)       Yea              Mark Kirk (R)                    Yea

Indiana:           Donnelly (D)            Yea              Dan Coats (R)                  Nay

Iowa:               Chuck Grassley (R)  Nay              Tom Harkin (D)                Yea

Kansas:             Pat Roberts (R)            Nay            Jerry Moran (R)                Nay

Michigan:         Carl Levin (D)              Yea            Debbie Stabenow (D)      Yea

Minnesota:       Amy Klobuchar (D)  Yea            Al Franken (D)                   Yea

Missouri:          Claire McCaskill (D)  Yea            Roy Blunt (R)                      Nay

Nebraska:         Deb Fischer (R)          Nay            Mike Johanns (R)              Nay

Ohio:                   Sherrod Brown (D)   Yea             Rob Portman (R)              Nay

South Dakota:  Tim Johnson (D)      Yea              John Thune (R)                 Nay

North Dakota:  Heidi Heitkamp (D) Nay             John Hoeven (R)              Nay

Wisconsin:       Tammy Baldwin (D) Yea              Ron Johnson (R)              Nay

 

The Nays

Two of the Nay votes in the Midwest are up for reelection in 2014.

Eight of the Nay votes in the Midwest are up for reelection in 2016.

Two of the Nay votes in the Midwest are up for reelection in 2018.

 

Daniel Coats (R-IN) – will be up for reelection in 2016.

http://www.coats.senate.gov/contact/

Chuck Grassley (R-IA) – will be up for reelection in 2016.

http://www.grassley.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm

Jerry Moran (R-KS) – will be up for reelection in 2016.

http://www.moran.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-info

Pat Roberts (R-KS) – will be seeking reelection in 2014.

http://www.roberts.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=EmailPat

Roy Blunt (R-MO) – will be up for reelection in 2016.

http://www.blunt.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-roy

Deb Fischer (R-NE) – will be up for reelection in 2018.

http://debfischer2012.com/contact/

Mike Johanns (R-NE) – will be retiring in 2014.

http://www.johanns.senate.gov/public/?p=EmailSenatorJohanns

Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) – will be up for reelection in 2018.

http://www.heitkamp.senate.gov/contact.cfm

John Hoeven (R-ND) – will be up for reelection in 2016.

http://www.hoeven.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-the-senator

Rob Portman (R-OH) – will be up for reelection in 2016.

https://www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form

John Thune (R-SD) – will be up for reelection in 2016.

http://www.thune.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Ron Johnson (R-WI) – will be up for reelection in 2016.

http://www.ronjohnson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

 

The Yeas

Five of the Yea votes in the Midwest are up for reelection in 2014.

One of the Yea votes in the Midwest is up for reelection in 2016.

Six of the Yea votes in the Midwest are up for reelection in 2018.

 

Dick Durbin (D-IL) – will be seeking reelection in 2014.

http://www.durbin.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Mark Kirk (R-IL) – will be up for reelection in 2016.

http://www.kirk.senate.gov/?p=contact

Joe Donnelly (D-IN) – will be up for reelection in 2018.

http://www.donnelly.senate.gov/contact.cfm

Tom Harkin (D-IA) – will be retiring in 2014.

http://www.harkin.senate.gov/contact.cfm

 

Carl Levin (D-MI) – will be retiring in 2014.

http://www.levin.senate.gov/contact/

Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) – will be up for reelection in 2018.

http://www.stabenow.senate.gov/?p=contact

Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) – will be up for reelection in 2018.

http://www.klobuchar.senate.gov/emailamy.cfm

Al Franken (D-MN) – will be seeking reelection in 2014.

http://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=email_al

Claire McCaskill (D-MO) – will be up for reelection in 2018.

http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/?p=contact

http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/?p=office_locations

Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – will be up for reelection in 2018.

http://www.brown.senate.gov/contact/

Tim Johnson (D-SD) – will be retiring in 2014.

http://www.johnson.senate.gov/public/?p=Contact

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) – will be up for reelection in 2018.

http://www.baldwin.senate.gov/contact.cfm