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Cory Fritz to become John Boehners press secretary


Cory Fritz, a longtime aide to Speaker John Boehner, will join the Ohio Republican’s Capitol Hill leadership team.

Fritz will become Boehner’s press secretary, with responsibility for dealing with the White House press corps. The job was previously held by Brendan Buck, who will be the communications director for Ways and Means Committee, to be chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

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“I am thrilled that Cory will be working full time to help us hold President Obama accountable next year,” Boehner said in a statement to POLITICO. “He’s been a smart, sharp, and dogged member of our political team, and he’ll bring that same focus to bear on dealing with the White House press.”

Fritz was most recently Boehner’s political press secretary, responsible for the speaker’s campaign apparatus. The new job will be high profile, as a GOP Capitol Hill begins to tussle with President Barack Obama.




Article source: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/cory-fritz-john-boehner-press-secretary-113738.html

Cory Fritz to become John Boehners press secretary


Cory Fritz, a longtime aide to Speaker John Boehner, will join the Ohio Republican’s Capitol Hill leadership team.

Fritz will become Boehner’s press secretary, with responsibility for dealing with the White House press corps. The job was previously held by Brendan Buck, who will be the communications director for Ways and Means Committee, to be chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Story Continued Below

“I am thrilled that Cory will be working full time to help us hold President Obama accountable next year,” Boehner said in a statement to POLITICO. “He’s been a smart, sharp, and dogged member of our political team, and he’ll bring that same focus to bear on dealing with the White House press.”

Fritz was most recently Boehner’s political press secretary, responsible for the speaker’s campaign apparatus. The new job will be high profile, as a GOP Capitol Hill begins to tussle with President Barack Obama.




Article source: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/cory-fritz-john-boehner-press-secretary-113738.html

John Boehner wont say if Michael Grimm has to go

FILE - In this April 28, 2014, file photo, U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm leaves a news conference outside federal court in New York. The Staten Island Republican was arrested earlier in the day and pleaded not guilty to a 20-count federal indictment that includes charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and tax fraud. Whether it's geography, demography, politics, or a certain chip-on-the shoulder attitude these differences that set Staten Island apart from other boroughs fuel both resentment and pride on the island, and they're now in the spotlight as all five boroughs wrestle with the fractious aftermath of a grand jury's decision Wednesday to clear a white police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man.  (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

AP Photo


New York GOP Rep. Michael Grimm is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to tax evasion charges, throwing into question the political future of the former FBI agent.

Grimm is scheduled to appear at a plea hearing in a federal court in Brooklyn, according to court documents.

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The two-term lawmaker’s decision to plead guilty was reported by the New York Daily News .

Grimm’s defense team declined to comment on the report, and the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn — which is overseeing the case — offered no further details. Justice Department officials also declined to comment.

Grimm was hit with a 20-count federal indictment in April, including allegations that he skimmed more than $1 million from a restaurant he owned before he came to Congress.

The case against Grimm — the first sitting lawmaker to be indicted in nearly six years — was brought by Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn. Lynch has since been nominated by President Barack Obama to be attorney general.

Grimm adamantly denied any wrongdoing, and he easily won reelection in November despite the federal case hanging over him.

But a guilty plea by Grimm would make it hard for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other top Republicans to support his continued tenure in the House. The Ethics Committee has held off from moving against Grimm while the federal criminal case unfolds. However, if Grimm admitted to a crime in federal court, then Ethics could begin proceedings against him, which could include expulsion, among other sanctions.

Democrats are likely to put heavy pressure on the GOP leadership to call for Grimm’s resignation, hoping they can win that seat in a special election.

Boehner’s office declined to comment, and an aide to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not respond to a request for comment.




Article source: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/michael-grimm-to-plead-guilty-113745.html

Obama Defends Immigration Action

U.S. President Barack Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on “felons, not families; criminals, not children.”  

The president said Saturday in his weekly address that his immigration plan will “bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can play by the rules, pay their full share of taxes, pass a criminal background check, and get right with the law.”

On Friday, Obama said the American immigration system has been broken for a long time as he defended taking executive action to overhaul the system.

The president told a rally Friday in Las Vegas that he has been committed to solving the immigration problem since he took office, and he said today he is doing something about it. He also said he will not give up on his efforts to work with Congress to make his actions permanent.

Obama’s plan will offer temporary work permits and lift the threat of deportation for nearly five million undocumented immigrants. It is set to take effect in about six months. He noted Congress had 512 days to pass an immigration reform bill that could have been signed into law by now.

Obama said, “Our immigration system has been broken for a very long time, and everybody knows it. … I will not give up. I want to keep working with Members of Congress to make reform a reality.”

The president then repeatedly called on Congress to pass an immigration bill, saying the issue “deserves more than politics” and that deporting millions “is not realistic.”

During his speech, some criticized the president for not going far enough to help undocumented immigrants. Others said he went too far, including protesters outside the Las Vegas High school, who held signs saying, “Impeach Obama” and “No amnesty.”

Aboard Air Force One Friday, Obama signed two memorandums — one streamlining the visa process, and the other creating a White House Task Force for New Americans.

Watch related video report by VOA’s Victoria Macchi:

Congressional reaction

Earlier Friday, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said Obama “is damaging the presidency” by bypassing Congress to take executive action on immigration.

Boehner vowed that House Republicans will “not stand idle” and will fight the unilateral action. As proof, the House on the same day filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over his earlier signature health care reform legislation. 

5 Republican presidents who used executive orders to change immigration policy5 Republican presidents who used executive orders to change immigration policy5 Republican presidents who used executive orders to change immigration policy5 Republican presidents who used executive orders to change immigration policy

The House speaker said the immigration reforms Obama laid out Thursday evening in an emotional speech from the White House “will only encourage more people to come here illegally” and risk their lives. He said the executive order also sabotages “any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms.”

 

Obama also discussed immigration when he arrived in Las Vegas, before his address to a rally at a high school.

“If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes — you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law,” he said.

Constitutionality questioned

Republicans have slammed the order as amnesty and say it is unconstitutional.

But it is not clear how Republicans will choose to fight back. Some have threatened to shut down the government, while others are looking for ways to ban funding for just the plan itself.

Many have said they will challenge the order in court, but numerous legal experts have said the president’s moves have legal precedent.

Obama defended the move’s legality, saying both Democratic and Republican presidents have for decades passed similar orders. He blamed gridlock in Congress for making such action necessary.


“To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill. I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution,” said the president.

Immigration reform bill on hold

The Democratic-controlled Senate passed an immigration reform bill more than a year ago, which was supported by both parties. But leaders in the Republican-controlled House have refused to bring a bill up for a vote.

It became even more unlikely that Congress would pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill after this month’s mid-term elections, which saw Republicans hold onto control of the House and gain a majority in the Senate. The new Congress takes office in January.

Relief imminent

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It’s not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally.

One young man benefited from an earlier presidential order, and his parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.

At 21 years old, Bati Tsogtsaikhan is one of an estimated nine million people in the United States who lives in a mixed-status family.

The George Mason University junior was born in Mongolia and until two years ago, was undocumented. His little brother is a U.S. citizen. And his parents still have no legal status.

“They’re always afraid something will happen. They always have a backup plan for if they’re deported,” said Tsogtsaikhan

That could change next year under Obama’s temporary reprieve ordered Thursday.

Just Neighbors is a non-profit organization in northern Virginia that offers low-cost legal aid to immigrants. Legal Services Director Dominique Poirier said the threat of separation for mixed status families like Bati’s is very real.

“It’s pervasive, and it creates depression and anxiety,” she said, adding that uneasiness infiltrates daily life for undocumented immigrants.

Bati lived that fear until he was protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program two years ago. Now he can work legally, drive, and avoid deportation as long as he keeps a clean criminal record. That plan, known as DACA, is the basis for the new decision for parents.

And he expects his parents’ life to improve the same way his has.  

“Now that they can work legally, it means they can get better paying jobs. Work less hours. Take care of my brother. So it means that life is going to get better for all of us, as a whole.”

VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande and VOA’s Victoria Macchi contributed to this report.

Article source: http://www.voanews.com/content/obama-unveils-immigration-reform/2528892.html

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

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The American people have spoken loudly – shouted actually – that they want Barack Obama’s policies and his lawless imperial presidency stopped cold. They sent that message in November by giving Republicans control of the U.S. Senate and a stronger grip on the House. The people are our STRONGEST link.

The GOP – under the leadership of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell – is still being run over by Obama. He seems to cast a strange spell over weak people. These “leaders” care only about the perks of power. They’re not interested in stopping this tyrannical president. That’s obvious. They are our WEAKEST link.

So it’s clear that the people’s will must be allowed to move forth unfettered. The bottleneck is the GOP leadership. So the blockage that is stopping those who are willing to stand up against Obama must be removed and replaced – it’s simple physics.

The Republicans’ recent cave-in on the budget clearly demonstrated a shocking leadership crisis. And we have only so many choices available now to deal with this bold nullification of our Constitution, which is allowing amnesty and Obamacare to move through unscathed, among a multitude of other illegalities:

  1. Acceptance and submission. We simply accept that the GOP leadership is too weak and intimidated to act; therefore, we waive the white flag of surrender and lose our beloved America forever. Not a good option!
  2. Impeach Obama: Impractical – he and his minions, with the help of the misinformation propaganda hacks in the media, will make Obama into a victim and make the Ferguson/New York City anti-police riots look like child’s play.
  3. Defund Obama: Now that’s a good choice!
  4. Get rid of bad Republican leaders: Yes, I like that, too.
  5. Leave the GOP and form a new party. That may be the way to go in the future, but we’re not there yet. A solid argument has been made that people need to exhaust all possibilities to work within the Republican Party to affect change. Reason: The organizational structure, experience and money is already there. It’s taken years to build that up, and it’s an effective route to power.
  6. Physical action – i.e. measures beyond the electoral process. We always hear these kinds of things when the political leadership fails. I believe the people who talk like this are mostly weak reactionary people who have given up their power in every imaginable arena: the family, community, culture, educational system, and especially in politics! And now they want to lash out with violence – but that’s the easy and cowardly way out.We have the experience of the Civil War as a warning. It resulted in the deaths of some 620,000 Americans. It was bloody, and it split Americans apart like nothing else in our history. Since we couldn’t solve our own problem, it also empowered the federal government and became a precedent for future usurpations of the people’s power.

So I think you can see that most of the “solutions” noted above are not good. But No. 3 and No. 4 are.

Which brings me to Joseph Farah’s “Dump Boehner” campaign. This is an innovative way for the people to have their voice heard and to reach and encourage all the Republican House members – with minimal cost and hassle – to stand against Boehner’s concessions and stand with the American people. The pressure will grow from within the GOP to oust him.

WND will do all the heavy lifting. They buy the paper, pay for printing, notify the media and make sure your 247 separate letters are delivered to the 247 Republican members of Congress when they return to Washington in January. Your only obligation is paying a nominal amount (less than $30) that covers the Fed-Ex mailing and handling expenses of 247 letters sent on your behalf. That’s money well spent!

Will it get attention? You bet!

Will it ultimately work and give us the result we seek? No one knows for sure. But it’s worth a shot, and we’ll never know unless we try. Joseph Farah has made a compelling case in his recent column.

I’m behind Joseph Farah 100 percent on this one. I like using wisdom to get results, and this idea leverages a small amount of time and money to get a potentially huge payoff.

What about Sen. Mitch McConnell – shouldn’t he go, too? Joseph has dealt with this – he senses that people are more fed up with John Boehner now, and I agree. And once we get Boehner’s attention, McConnell will sit up and take notice.

Conservative members need to consider who would be good replacements for the good ol’ boys. Imagine, for instance, someone like Ted Cruz, Trey Gowdy, or Steve King being a new Republican leader!

These are the possibilities that are open to us when we throw off the pessimism, open our minds and think big! Yes, these kinds of things are possible, and the time to act is now.

Stand with WND, Joseph Farah, me and thousands of other like-minded Americans and JOIN THE DUMP BOEHNER CAMPAIGN NOW.

Media wishing to interview Jesse Lee Peterson, please contact media@wnd.com.

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Article source: http://www.wnd.com/2014/12/the-people-vs-john-boehner/

400000 messages to House GOP: Lose Boehner

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Shortly after American voters in the midterms expanded the GOP majority in the U.S. House and gave the party a control over the U.S. Senate, tossing Democrat Sen. Harry Reid from his leadership post, there was little fanfare as House GOP members renewed their leadership team, including Speaker John Boehner.

But heading into the first weekend after a “Don’t be Yellow: Dump Boehner Now Campaign” was launched, more than 400,000 messages are being lined up to deliver to House GOP members when the y convene in the new year.

The voters are telling House members to reject Boehner and elect new leadership.

The 400,000 letters are being facilitated through the “Don’t be Yellow: Dump Boehner Now Campaign” effort launched by WND CEO Joseph Farah.

In a commentary in the Washington Times, tea party activist Judson Phillips, without mentioning the campaign to remove Boehner, suggested Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., as a replacement for Boehner.

“On Jan. 3, a new Congress begins and one of the first orders of business in the House of Representatives is to pick a new speaker. The conventional wisdom is Mr. Boehner will be re-elected speaker. That may well happen and if it does it will be a disaster for the Republican Party,” he wrote. “The conservative base of the party is pretty much in open revolt and without the base, the losses of 2006 and 2008 will seem mild compared to what is coming in 2016.”

Phillips wrote Boehner “cannot lead” and “will not fight.”

“The Republicans will have 247 members in the next Congress. If 30 of these members vote against Mr. Boehner, he will not have the majority he needs to be elected speaker. At that point, anything is possible, including Mr. Boehner stepping aside. Every conservative should spend the time between now and Jan. 3 calling their Republican representatives and telling them to vote for Marsha Blackburn instead of John Boehner.”

At left-leaning MSNBC, there was a sudden defense of Boehner.

“Boehner will prevail, and this new round of chatter, like the previous rounds of chatter, will amount to nothing,” wrote Steve Benen.

And at the Buzzfeed blog there was a discussion the 16 to 18 Republicans who already plan to challenge Boehner’s re-election as speaker.

“Right now, I’ve been meeting with a small group, and we – about 16, 18 – and we’re hoping to have a name of a sitting members of Congress that we can call out their name,” said Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. “I’ve already said I cannot vote in good conscience for John Boehner.”

Whatever impact the letters are having, or will have, they certainly will get the attention of members of the House.

At about two inches per 500-page ream, there’s already a stack of letters more than 13 stories tall destined for House GOP members.

“While the news cycle has forgotten about Boehner’s betrayal of Republican voters in November, the grass-roots electorate has not,” said Farah.

“Even while Americans are busy Christmas shopping and getting ready for the holiday season, they are angry enough at the Republican establishment to put their money where their mouth is – investing in this unusual lobbying effort to wake up House members as to the state of their leadership crisis,” said Farah.

“Will Republican House members respond in January? At the very least, they won’t be able to ignore the deluge of mail that awaits them,” he said.

Another warning that the GOP needs to stand up came from outgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who recently was profiled at the conclusion of her service in the House.

She said the GOP majority needs to fulfill its promise to voters.

“Ask yourself, would the GOP have voted to fund Obama’s illegal amnesty the week before the pivotal 2014 elections?” she said. “Not in this universe.

“Republican congressional leadership need to open their eyes and ears and listen to the voters who gave them historic access to power some six short weeks ago.”

JOIN THE DON’T BE YELLOW, DUMP BOEHNER NOW CAMPAIGN.

Farah believes the most effective method of reaching out to Congress is individual letters to members.

His plan lets constituents send letters to all GOP members of the U.S. House through one quick online transaction.

You can order your letters sent today, and they will be ready for delivery when the new Congress reconvenes in January. It would be great to see thousands or, better yet, tens of thousands flooding in that first week. That will make an impression that cannot be ignored by Republican members of the House,” he said.

“I’m excited. Now it’s up to you. I’ve already ordered my letters. I’ve even secured the domain names DumpBoehnerCampaign.com and DumpBoehnerNow.com for social media dissemination. Tell your friends,” he wrote.

Recruit your friends, neighbors, and fellow commuters to the “Don’t Be Yellow: Dump Boehner Now” campaign with this exclusive bumper sticker.

The letter explains to members of the U.S. House that two issues have “prompted Americans to turn in droves to the Republican Party in November 2014 – Barack Obama’s blatantly unconstitutional executive action to provide amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, and the deliberately deceptive restructuring of America’s health-care system through Obamacare, which threatens to unravel the greatest health delivery system in the world.”

Pointing out that Republicans before the election “solemnly vowed to STOP this lame-duck president,” the letter states: “Now you have the power, right and duty to stop him.

“But it won’t happen with John Boehner leading you. You know this to be true. The trillion-dollar budget deal is just the latest proof that Boehner is not capable of leading the House to victory during this critical period.”

It calls on members to replace him.

On Twitter, the hashtags #BoehnerMustGo and #DumpBoehner were surging, and other commentators, while not adopting the specific letter-writing campaign, agreed with the goal.

At the American Thinker blog, editorialist Layne Hansen wrote, “It is time to stop thinking of John Boehner and the rest of the Republican congressional leadership as being cowardly and recognize them for what they are: part of The Ruling Class that believes it has the right to tell the rest of us how to live.

“The current GOP leadership has got to go; this has ceased to be an arguable point. We cannot count on these people to do what is right. Conservatives did not give them majorities in both chambers for them to keep playing the same game,” he wrote.

At RedState.com, Editor Erick Erickson also delivered a “no-other-options” message.

JOIN THE DON’T BE YELLOW, DUMP BOEHNER NOW CAMPAIGN.

“House conservatives must summon the courage to oppose Boehner’s nomination on the floor in January. It is a moral imperative. You cannot consistently complain about leadership’s many failures – and the treachery involved with a speaker fresh off a successful wave election conspiring with President Obama to fund amnesty and enjoy a celebratory phone call in the aftermath – and then vote for him to continue in this role. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, that is the definition of insanity, and it is enabled by a vote for Rep. John Boehner,” he wrote.

Farah noted that the launch of the program rivals the historic “Pink Slip Campaign” in 2010 that generated some 9.5 million letters to Congress.

“Americans are angry about Boehner’s betrayal of the voters who gave him a bigger majority in the House and Republicans control of the Senate. This could prove to be Boehner’s undoing,” he said.

The campaign allows people to send letters, with their own names and addresses via FedEx, all for the one price of $29.95, to each of the House GOP members.

Farah said, “From previous campaigns we know this approach prompts members to talk about the boxes of letters that are coming into their offices each day. And that’s exactly what we want to do with the DUMP BOEHNER CAMPAIGN – a grass-roots lobbying effort that can channel your outrage into effective and meaningful action.”

He said what can be guaranteed is that members “will see, hear and feel your participation in it.”

“We saw the same thing in 2010,” recalled Farah. “People were angry then. They may be angrier now. It is as if elections have no consequences when Republicans vote.”

A sampling of just how upset people are has been posted online, with abundant promises of “I’m in,” and “Do it.”

JOIN THE DON’T BE YELLOW, DUMP BOEHNER NOW CAMPAIGN.

 

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Article source: http://www.wnd.com/2014/12/400000-messages-to-house-gop-lose-boehner/

350000 letters tell House GOP members Boehner must go

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A pile of letters as tall as an 11-story building has been prepared for delivery to GOP House members when they convene in January, urging them to remove Speaker John Boehner from leadership, just as a retiring congresswoman is calling on her former colleagues to “draw the line” with President Obama.

Only three days after the launch of the “Don’t be Yellow: Dump Boehner Now Campaign,” more than 350,000 letters have been ordered.

At about two inches per 500-page ream, that’s a pile almost 117 feet tall – all to get the attention of GOP members who have it within their power to pick new leadership for the House and Senate for the next two years.

“While the news cycle has forgotten about Boehner’s betrayal of Republican voters in November, the grass-roots electorate has not,” said WND CEO Joseph Farah, who started the campaign.

“Even while Americans are busy Christmas shopping and getting ready for the holiday season, they are angry enough at the Republican establishment to put their money where their mouth is – investing in this unusual lobbying effort to wake up House members as to the state of their leadership crisis.

“Will Republican House members respond in January? At the very least, they won’t be able to ignore the deluge of mail that awaits them,” he said.

The warning that the GOP needs to stand up now comes from outgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who recently was profiled at the conclusion of her service in the House.

She aid the GOP majority needs to fulfill its promise to voters.

“Ask yourself, would the GOP have voted to fund Obama’s illegal amnesty the week before the pivotal 2014 elections?” she said. “Not in this universe.”

Bachmann said “every elected official should ask themselves: Would I vote for this bill the week before an election?”

“Republican congressional leadership need to open their eyes and ears and listen to the voters who gave them historic access to power some six short weeks ago.”

JOIN THE DON’T BE YELLOW, DUMP BOEHNER NOW CAMPAIGN.

The campaign to remove Boehner from House leadership was announced earlier this week when Farah asserted that the most effective method of reaching out to Congress is individual letters to members.

His plan lets constituents send letters to all GOP members of the U.S. House, with one quick online transaction.

“And when you send one, you send it to every Republican member of the House – including John Boehner!” he wrote.

You can order your letters sent today, and they will be ready for delivery when the new Congress reconvenes in January. It would be great to see thousands or, better yet, tens of thousands flooding in that first week. That will make an impression that cannot be ignored by Republican members of the House,” he said.

“I’m excited. Now it’s up to you. I’ve already ordered my letters. I’ve even secured the domain names DumpBoehnerCampaign.com and DumpBoehnerNow.com for social media dissemination. Tell your friends,” he wrote.

Recruit your friends, neighbors, and fellow commuters to the “Don’t Be Yellow: Dump Boehner Now” campaign with this exclusive bumper sticker.

The letter explains to members of the U.S. House that two issues have “prompted Americans to turn in droves to the Republican Party in November 2014 – Barack Obama’s blatantly unconstitutional executive action to provide amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, and the deliberately deceptive restructuring of America’s health-care system through Obamacare, which threatens to unravel the greatest health delivery system in the world.”

Pointing out that Republicans before the election “solemnly vowed to STOP this lame-duck president,” the letter states: “Now you have the power, right and duty to stop him.

“But it won’t happen with John Boehner leading you. You know this to be true. The trillion-dollar budget deal is just the latest proof that Boehner is not capable of leading the House to victory during this critical period.”

It calls on members to replace him.

On Twitter, the hashtags #BoehnerMustGo and #DumpBoehner were surging, and other commentators, while not adopting the specific letter-writing campaign, agreed with the goal.

At the American Thinker blog, editorialist Layne Hansen wrote, “It is time to stop thinking of John Boehner and the rest of the Republican congressional leadership as being cowardly and recognize them for what they are: part of The Ruling Class that believes it has the right to tell the rest of us how to live.

“The current GOP leadership has got to go; this has ceased to be an arguable point. We cannot count on these people to do what is right. Conservatives did not give them majorities in both chambers for them to keep playing the same game,” he wrote.

“To retain his position as speaker of the House, John Boehner must receive 218 votes, which is a simple majority. There will be 246 Republicans in the House in the 114th Congress. This means that 29 Republicans must state that under no circumstances will they vote for John Boehner for the speakership. Yes, there are stories of bribery and intimidation by the leadership, but this point in history has to be the conservative caucus’s Alamo. They must stand here.”

Now, after a recount in Arizona that gave a contested seat to retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally, a Republican, over Democrat incumbent Ron Barber, the GOP total is 247 seats.

At RedState.com, Editor Erick Erickson also delivered a “no-other-options” message.

JOIN THE DON’T BE YELLOW, DUMP BOEHNER NOW CAMPAIGN.

“House conservatives must summon the courage to oppose Boehner’s nomination on the floor in January. It is a moral imperative. You cannot consistently complain about leadership’s many failures – and the treachery involved with a speaker fresh off a successful wave election conspiring with President Obama to fund amnesty and enjoy a celebratory phone call in the aftermath – and then vote for him to continue in this role. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, that is the definition of insanity, and it is enabled by a vote for Rep. John Boehner,” he wrote.

“One of the main obstacles to unseating Boehner is that House conservatives sort of like him. You hear them say, ‘He really is a good guy. He just has the worst job in the world.’ What they do not realize is that at all times, Boehner and the entire leadership team are looking to screw and distract conservatives. Leadership has a phrase for this – it’s called ‘member management.’ It is code to themselves for outright deception towards those they lead. Most of the time they don’t get caught, but occasionally the corruption is exposed,” he continued.

“Boehner’s team lied to Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., to get his vote on the all-important procedural ‘rule’ setting up the debate on the cromnibus. He promised to pull the cromnibus if Stutzman voted for the rule. Stutzman gave his vote, and Boehner went back on his word,” he wrote. “House conservatives need to understand that they are not conspiring against a family member or team member. They are conspiring against an adversary intent on thwarting the change they came to Washington to bring. It is that simple.”

Farah noted that the launch of the program rivals the historic “Pink Slip Campaign” in 2010 that generated some 9.5 million letters to Congress.

“Americans are angry about Boehner’s betrayal of the voters who gave him a bigger majority in the House and Republicans control of the Senate. This could prove to be Boehner’s undoing,” he said.

The campaign allows people to send letters, with their own names and addresses via FedEx, all for the one price of $29.95, to each of the House GOP members.

Farah said, “From previous campaigns we know this approach prompts members to talk about the boxes of letters that are coming into their offices each day. And that’s exactly what we want to do with the DUMP BOEHNER CAMPAIGN – a grass-roots lobbying effort that can channel your outrage into effective and meaningful action.”

He said what can be guaranteed is that members “will see, hear and feel your participation in it.”

“We saw the same thing in 2010,” recalled Farah. “People were angry then. They may be angrier now. It is as if elections have no consequences when Republicans vote.”

A sampling of just how upset people are has been posted online, with abundant promises of “I’m in,” and “Do it.”

The campaign says the political state in America is worse than any time since the Civil War, with a broken economy, piled up national debt, abuse of executive power, the judiciary out of control and the moral framework under attack.

However, the campaign explains, “the American people have demonstrated twice in four years that they realize something has gone awry – overwhelmingly voting for the Republican Party in two midterm elections because it clearly campaigned on returning to first principles.”

Only to be betrayed by Republican leaders.

The campaign, it explains, is the way to get hard-copy letters to every Republican in the House of Representatives.

JOIN THE DON’T BE YELLOW, DUMP BOEHNER NOW CAMPAIGN.

 

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Article source: http://www.wnd.com/2014/12/350000-letters-tell-house-gop-members-boehner-must-go/

House Speaker John Boehner, Sen. Mitch McConnell must collaborate in new …

WASHINGTON — About a two-hour drive separates House Speaker John Boehner’s hometown from that of
incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. But people close to both men say that in that
distance is a lot of common ground.

Stylistically, the two are different. Boehner is jovial, quick with a joke; McConnell, quieter,
more serious-minded. But the relationship they’ve carved out leaves many in the GOP hopeful that
beginning in January, Boehner, 65, of West Chester, Ohio, and McConnell, 72, of Louisville, Ky.,
will lead a more-productive Congress than the nation has seen in recent years.

“They are as closely aligned as any majority leader and speaker had been in the last 30 years,
ideologically and professionally,” said Washington-based GOP consultant John Feehery. The two “
understand each other and understand the challenges, and I think they’ll also be pretty strategic
in how they work through the process.”

Others say that the same pressures that the two men faced before Republicans won control of the
Senate haven’t disappeared and might be exacerbated by the new dynamic.

“When push comes to shove, I’m not sure how successful they’ll be,” said Washington-based
Democratic consultant Jim Manley. “This is the most important relationship in Washington for the
next two years.”

The two men have earned each other’s trust over the years. Regardless of whether they’re the
type to belly up to the bar together, those close to the men say the two have a history of working
well together.

“They both have considerable experience, and they both are realistic, and I think they both
understand what can get done and what can’t get done,” said Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, whose
district is between their hometowns.

“Neither one is going to waste a lot of time and energy on things which are just political
points … or things which are never going to happen.”

That their relationship would be collaborative was evident from the start: On Nov. 5, the
morning after Republicans took control of the Senate and expanded their majority in the House, a
joint editorial by the two was published in
The Wall Street Journal.

“January will bring the opportunity to begin anew. Republicans will return the focus to the
issues at the top of your priority list,” they wrote to voters. “Your concerns will be our
concerns. That’s our pledge.”

But the challenges — even before the new Republicans take office in January — are evident.

In what could be considered foreshadowing, both men in December dealt with some of the more
rebellious elements of their caucuses who were irked that the massive $1 trillion spending bill,
agreed on by the leaders of House Republicans and Democrats, did not rebuke President Barack Obama
for his executive actions on immigration.

In the House, that meant that Boehner had to briefly pull the bill from the floor and call a
recess after the narrow success of a procedural vote indicated scant support for the bill.

In the Senate, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, held up the vote via procedural
measures. That move backfired when it enabled Senate Democrats to pass more of Obama’s nominations
than anticipated.

Tom Zawistowski, a tea party leader from Ohio, said the GOP agreeing to vote on a 1,700-page
bill that no one had read was “just fundamentally wrong.”

“Our biggest worry is that they haven’t gotten the message that the American people have had
enough,” he said of congressional Republicans. “This game we play — ‘we’re on your side but don’t
vote the way you want to’ … that’s coming to an end in 2016.”

It’s that dynamic, said Manley, that both leaders must worry about next year. Last year, he
said, the tea party conservatives in the House had to accept that, regardless of what the chamber
passed, the Senate wouldn’t take it up because of its Democratic leadership. Now, he said, that
excuse might not fly.

The Senate still needs 60 votes to pass most legislation, and Manley predicts that many of the
bills the House sends over will “never get 60 votes.” Republicans in the House, he said, are
unlikely to be placated by this.

“I continue to question whether the speaker will be able to corral the worst impulses of many in
his caucus,” Manley said. “They think the whole idea of compromise is a dirty word.”

But Terry Holt, a Washington-based GOP consultant with close ties to Boehner, said the speaker
and McConnell strongly believe that Congress should pass bills that do things, and that if they do
that, then American voters will reward them by supporting even more Republicans.

“Both of these men are grownups,” he said. “They’ve been in Congress long enough to know how it
should work and how it has failed to work over the last 10 years or so.”

What it means for southern Ohio and northern Kentucky, however, might be a little more
complicated.

Neither man has been known to embrace “pork” — money spent on a particular region or House
district — and both have been loath to show a preference for their state or region at the expense
of others.

“On appearance, it would look like a great opportunity, right? But we don’t live in a time of
earmarks or anything like that anymore, so I don’t know,” said Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati. “I
really don’t know how it will play out.”

“I think it certainly benefits the region,” said Chabot, who said it bodes well for the
dilapidated Brent Spence Bridge that carries I-75/71 over the Ohio River at Cincinnati.

“But I think that both Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell have always looked at what’s in the
best interest of the country. I don’t think that they would do anything which other parts of the
country ought to think is unfair.”

David Pepper, newly elected as chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party and a former Hamilton
County commissioner, is hopeful the two politicians will benefit southwestern Ohio and northwestern
Kentucky. They could push for federal dollars to benefit big projects such as the $2.5 billion
Brett Spence Bridge, he said.

“In the end, part of the job of a congressman and senator is to help the area they’re from, and
my hope is that they do that,” Pepper said.

jwehrman@dispatch.com

Article source: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/12/20/house-speaker-john-boehner-sen--mitch-mcconnell-must-collaborate-in-new-congress.html

John Boehner Invites Obama To Deliver State Of The Union

WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker John Boehner has invited President Barack Obama to deliver the State of the Union speech on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

The House Republican leader sent a letter to Obama on Friday formally inviting him to deliver the prime-time speech.

Obama will face an all-Republican Congress next month as the GOP takes charge of both the House and Senate for the final two years of the presidency.

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/19/john-boehner-obama-state-of-the-union_n_6354448.html

My 2014 ‘McLaughlin Awards’ [Part 1]

Welcome everyone to our year-end awards columns!

As we do every year, we are pre-empting our “Friday Talking Points” columns for the next two weeks, to bring you our best and worst of 2014. And, yes, we are going to continue our supercilious and no-doubt-annoying habit of using the editorial “we” throughout these two columns, so thanks for asking! Heh.

As always, we are using a slightly-modified version of a category list created by the The McLaughlin Group for their own year-end shows, as an homage (which sounds ever so much better than saying we’re just ripping off McLaughlin’s categories… ahem).

This will be a very long column (just to warn everyone) with lots of short little awards explanations, so let’s get right to it. Feel free to disagree with any or all of these picks in the comments, as usual, and propose your own winners for everyone’s consideration. I will admit that there is a sort of running theme to this year’s awards, due to one issue that remained in the background for most Americans but on which such significant political progress was made this year that it deserved multiple awards. Enough of a teaser for you to read all the way through to Person Of The Year? We certainly hope so.

 

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   Biggest Winner Of 2014

Loath as we are to admit it, there was no single Biggest Winner Of 2014, because the award must be handed, collectively, to the Republican Party. A case could be made for Mitch McConnell, since he will win the biggest prize of any Republican next year: control of the United States Senate. But this would leave out other Republican victories, such as holding more House of Representative seats than at any time since Herbert Hoover was president, or their increase in control of governors’ offices and state legislatures.

The GOP won big this November. Really big. So big that this award was one of the easiest to call. The Biggest Winner Of 2014 was the entire Republican Party.

 

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   Biggest Loser Of 2014

Hmm… let’s see… Scottish independence?

Kidding aside, you’d think this would also be an easy one to pick. The converse award should go to the Democratic Party, for their ineffectual campaign about nothing. Or perhaps Harry Reid, for losing the Senate.

But we’re going to tack in a different direction, and give the Biggest Loser award to the Tea Party, for the second year running. The Tea Party lost almost every important primary challenge (with the notable exception of Eric Cantor’s takedown), and they lost a huge amount of power within the corridors of Capitol Hill as well. Oh, sure, folks like Ted Cruz still get lots of camera time bloviating about this or that, but when the votes are counted, the Tea Party has lost significant support from within the Republican ranks. For instance, although there was a raise in the debt ceiling and extensions of the federal budget this year, there was no government shutdown. That right there is a measure of their waning support within Congress.

There was even a period this year, during primary season, when the conventional Washington wisdom (an oxymoron if ever there was one) was that the Tea Party was over and done with. This was nonsense, of course. The Tea Party will be around in some form or another for years to come, but it is impossible to ignore how much real power they lost this year. Making them the Biggest Losers Of 2014. The Tea Party’s highest point will likely be measured as the shutdown last October — since then, it’s all been downhill.

 

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   Best Politician

Again, it brings us no personal pleasure, but we have to give Best Politician to Mitch McConnell. Mitch was in big trouble heading into this election. His approval ratings were in the toilet in Kentucky, and he faced a Tea Party primary challenge and then a formidable Democrat in the general. He did what politicians often do in such situations — he raised a mountain of cash. He used this war chest to win the nomination handily, and then chalk up a comfortable margin in the general election.

McConnell has led his fellow Senate Republicans on a very risky path, that of delaying and obstructing Harry Reid at levels never before seen in all of American history. Back in the day, a few bills per year would be filibustered. Under McConnell, pretty much every bill was subjected to a 60-vote minimum. And — the important reason why McConnell wins this award — he paid no real political price for doing so. Other than the backlash against last year’s government shutdown, Republicans were able to raise the obstructionism level to sky-high limits, and the public largely never noticed.

McConnell will have a tough job ahead of him trying to get anything done, especially considering the fact that at least three members of his Republican Senate caucus are gearing up to run for president — and will thus have no interest in “toning things down” or “getting things done.” We’ll see how good a politician he really is in the next two years, but for 2014 he was indeed the Best Politician.

 

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   Worst Politician

This is a tough one, because there are so many to choose from. Sigh.

On the Republican side, there was Monica Wehby and Terry Lynn Land, who ran for the Senate from Oregon and Michigan, respectively. Both were hailed early on as candidates with excellent chances for stealing seats away from Democrats. Both ran disastrous campaigns, and lost — in a big Republican year, no less. On the Democratic side, we had Bruce Braley, who blew an easily-winnable Senate race in Iowa with one bad comment disparaging farmers.

On the crazy side, we had all sorts of wackadoodles. Edwin “live boy or dead girl” Edwards thought the time was ripe for his comeback (he was wrong). Erick Wright, who put a campaign video out of himself sitting on the toilet expounding on politics (“Politics on the Throne”), or maybe the Tea Party candidate in Kansas who had a disgraceful hobby of posting X-rays of gunshot victims online with witty comments about how they died.

We almost handed this award to Darrell Issa, because he had a purely political job — uncover a juicy scandal (ANY scandal!) in the Obama administration — and he failed at it so spectacularly. He held hearing after hearing, but never got anywhere close to a “smoking gun” in any of his trumped-up scandals. That’s a pretty bad record, measured purely on politics.

But we’re going to give the award to Scott Brown, the peripatetic Senate candidate who has now lost in two New England states (watch out, Connecticut — you may be next!). Carpetbaggers are not exactly welcome in New Hampshire, especially those arriving from Massachusetts. They even have a word for such folks, and it begins with “Mass” and ends with “holes,” but we are too polite to repeat such slurs here, of course. Ahem.

Scott lost the only Senate seat that Republicans really should have picked up this year — in a GOP wave election, his loss was pretty much the only sour note on Election Night for Republicans. Not only did Scott occasionally forget what state he was running in (whoops!), he also seemed confused about one of New Hampshire’s counties at a very late date in the race. Now, this might be understandable in, say, Iowa, with its 99 counties — but New Hampshire only has a total of ten counties. Ten! That’s it. And Scott Brown had trouble remembering one of them.

For his entire performance during the campaign, and for giving Democrats their only bright spot in the 2014 midterms, Scott Brown was 2014′s Worst Politician.

 

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   Most Defining Political Moment

Well, the moment that was not the most defining was probably when Democrats rolled out their “Middle Class Jumpstart” campaign theme, and then went precisely nowhere with it.

When looking back historically, President Obama’s opening up Cuba may very well be the moment that is remembered. But somehow it seems to fresh right now to call it “most defining” for the whole year.

Either “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” or “I Can’t Breathe” may also well be seen later as the most defining moment, but that would only become reality if things actually changed as a result of all the protesting — which is a longshot at best, sad to say.

For the time being, the Most Defining Political Moment of 2014 has to be none other than the midterm elections. The shift in power is going to redefine Washington for the next two years in a big way, making it by definition the “most defining.”

 

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   Turncoat Of The Year

This is an interesting category, because you can see it in a positive light or a negative one. Positively, you could give it to (for instance) the New York Times for their stunning reversal of editorial policy on legalizing marijuana. They not only charted a new course, they backed it up with both an extensive series explaining every aspect of their decision and their endorsement of pro-marijuana ballot measures in the midterm election.

On the negative side, consider Leon Panetta’s book. A great example of the “I was right, everybody else including Obama was wrong” style of literature (which is always popular in Washington).

But we’re going positive this year, and handing the Turncoat of the Year award to Chad Taylor, who briefly ran as a Democrat for the Senate seat from Kansas. The “briefly” refers to why Taylor won this award. Pat Roberts was looking vulnerable in Kansas during the campaign, but the problem was the opposition to him was split between the Democrat, Taylor, and independent candidate Greg Orman. So Taylor bowed out of the race, to give Orman a better shot at taking Roberts’s seat. Such acts of selflessness are incredibly rare in politics — so rare as to almost be non-existent, in fact. It even led to an amusing period when the Republicans were suing to keep a Democrat on the ballot who didn’t want to run, which ultimately failed.

Unfortunately, Orman also ultimately failed. Pat Roberts will return to the Senate. But Orman had a much better shot at winning this race than he ever would have if Taylor had stayed in. For pulling out of a race to give another guy a better shot at winning, Chad Taylor is our Turncoat of the Year.

 

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   Most Boring

While we normally hand this one out to a person, our only candidates this year were two intangibles. We considered “Republicans running on an all-anti-Obamacare platform in the midterms,” since the change was so noticeable over the year — Republicans began 2014 proudly predicting that Obamacare would be the winning issue for them, but by the time the campaign really got going, more and more good Obamacare news stories had wiped away the potency of the issue for the GOP, and they all but stopped talking about it by October. The whole “anti-Obamacare” platform was downright boring to voters, to put it another way.

But we’re going to give this award out in a very positive way, instead. Because 2014 was the year that gay marriage became boring. Not the marriages themselves — each a wonderful expression of an individual couple’s joy — but the continuous nature of all the marriage equality political and court victories over the course of the year. Think about it — it has been only 18 months since the Supreme Court issued their landmark ruling. In that short time, news like the recent headline “Florida Grants First Gay Divorce” has become not only routine, but downright boring.

The opponents of marriage equality are so demoralized, they barely put up a fight anymore. The wiser Republicans have all but stopped talking about it. Most of the country sees it as an inevitability. The Supreme Court still has to issue one more ruling on the matter, but that is really only a question of when it will happen (not, notably, “if it will happen” or “which way the ruling will go”).

Boredom, in this instance, is not a negative quality. It is an enormous victory. Marriage equality is now almost taken for granted by most Americans. That is a stunning, monumental turnaround in outlook. So gay rights activists and everyone who supported and still supports marriage equality should wear the Most Boring award with pride. Lots of pride. Because boring, in this instance, means mainstream. And that’s what the battle has really been for, all along.

 

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   Most Charismatic

She doesn’t fit the category in a conventional way, but we’re going to go out on a limb and give Most Charismatic to Senator Elizabeth Warren. If anything, Warren exudes a soft and understated charisma; but to the populist left, she is nothing short of a rock star.

Warren not only continues to be the best Democrat since Bill Clinton at (as Bill puts it) “explainin’ stuff,” she also continues to gain followers among her fellow Democrats. Warren can put together a speech like no other Democrat out there right now, and it’s not really that she’s saying anything all that new (she’s basically just recommitting Democrats to traditional Democratic principles), but the way she says it cuts through all the Washingtonese and lays it out for everyone to easily understand.

Warren does have brilliant policy ideas — ones that more Democrats in the Senate should really get behind. The best example was her very first bill, which would have offered student loans at the same rock-bottom prices that the federal government gives when it lends money to big banks. What could be fairer? Investing in our country’s future versus fattening Wall Street’s pockets? A no-brainer!

At the end of the year, Harry Reid announced Warren will have a new leadership position in the Senate next year, which means she’ll be a voice at the big table for Main Street. This is precisely what the party needs right now. And my guess is that she’ll be the most-requested guest speaker during the 2016 campaign season. While Warren doesn’t have some of the raw bluster of other charismatic politicians (Chris Christie or Vladimir Putin, for instance), her quiet version of charisma is going to win over a lot of converts in the next two years.

 

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   Bummest Rap

This one is pretty easy. All the thousands of headlines and repetitions of a talking point that was just flat-out wrong in 2014: “Obama’s poll numbers are sinking fast!”

Obama’s job approval poll numbers were, admittedly, pretty low in 2014. Not once did he crack even 45 percent approval on the RealClearPolitics rolling daily average. That’s dangerous territory for any politician to be in, and did contribute to the Democratic losses in the midterms. Fair enough. But to say his poll numbers were “sinking” or “diving” or “cratering” or any other similar term was just wrong.

Obama started the year with a job approval rating, on the first of January, of 42.6 percent. Throughout the year this number fluctuated between a low of 40.9 percent to a high of 44.7 percent. That is a difference of only 3.8 percent — for the entire year. And these are daily numbers, which often fluctuate wildly. Not this year, though. Obama’s job approval daily rating, as I write this, is 42.0 percent — only 0.6 percent off the exact point where he started this year. His poll numbers have stayed remarkably stable all year long, in fact — rising a few points, falling a few points, but never really changing dramatically one way or the other.

Obama’s poll numbers did take a serious dive — but it happened last October. The Obamacare website disaster did hit his polling hard. And he’s never really recovered from it. His poll numbers hovered around 42 percent all year — a pretty low area to be in. All of this is true. But what is not true is that Obama’s poll numbers were “sinking” or “plummeting” at any point during the year. But that didn’t stop thousands of references from the punditocracy about “Obama’s plummeting poll numbers” — the Bummest Rap of the year.

 

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   Fairest Rap

Well, let’s see, there was Dinesh D’Souza pleading guilty to violating campaign finance laws.

There was also the Republicans engaging in widespread attempts to suppress votes from voters they didn’t like — that’s a pretty fair rap.

There was the sorry saga of John Walsh, who had to stop his efforts to be elected (he was initially appointed, so “re-elected” would be wrong) to the Senate in Montana, and had his diploma stripped from him by the Army War College for plagiarizing his way through a final paper. That was indeed a fair rap, and Walsh (deservedly) paid a heavy price for it.

The rap of “Democrats didn’t really run on anything” is a pretty fair one, too.

But the fairest rap of 2014 was best expressed by President Obama: “We tortured some folks.” Yes, we did. Senator Dianne Feinstein is to be commended for following through on this shameful period of American behavior, and fighting hard (even against the White House) to get the summary of her report released to the public. You can argue all you want to about the political implications of her report (and what we did), but the truth of the matter is now plain for all to see.

American tortured. It’s a fair rap. Just ask John McCain — he’ll tell you.

 

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   Best Comeback

There were a lot of possibilities here, most notably all those Republican politicians who won their races handily, when they were supposed to be close (Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts of Kansas, for instance, or maybe Rick Scott or Scott Walker). There was the overall comeback of the Republican Party after the disaster of shutting down the government late last year — that was pretty impressive.

We toyed with going comedic on this one, as in “best snappy comeback.” The obvious contender was John Boehner making the inevitable “boner” joke about his own last name to a reporter (the video of which has been endlessly played on late-night television).

But, in the end, we have to give Best Comeback to none other than the much-maligned HealthCare.gov website. The comeback really started last December, but it continued throughout 2014 in spectacular fashion. The bugs got fixed. The site started working. Millions signed up for health care on it. This year, when the open enrollment period began, there were no problems whatsoever, even with incredibly high traffic.

The Obamacare website will doubtlessly be taught in computer programming classes for years to come as “the best bad example of how not to do a website rollout.” Nothing can change that. But it also now may be taught in those same classes as the best example of how to quickly fix bad programming. The turnaround was spectacular, in fact. Look at the volume of media stories last October, November, and December about how broken the site was. The coverage was overwhelming. Now compare it to this year’s coverage — mostly a big yawn. No stories about how bad things were. “Everything still up and running” wasn’t newsworthy enough to cover.

That is a spectacular comeback, and indeed HealthCare.gov wins the Best Comeback of 2014.

 

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   Most Original Thinker

This one’s pretty easy, once you look beyond America’s shores.

Pope Francis I is the Most Original Thinker the Vatican has seen in a very long time. Francis is faced with the world’s biggest bureaucracy and the most ingrained thinking on the planet. He is going to remold the Catholic Church in a different image, by the time he’s done — of that, there can be no doubt.

The resistance he faces is daunting, from the Church’s hierarchy. Nevertheless, he is determined to force change on a very moribund institution. Being in the middle of the recent thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba was just the icing on the cake, at year’s end. Pope Francis I will hopefully continue to astonish the Catholic world for years to come, and is our easy choice for Most Original Thinker this year.

 

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   Most Stagnant Thinker

There were a few candidates that caught our eye here from America: Dick Cheney (for obvious reasons), the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (also, for obvious reasons), and the big push by some Republican state legislatures to pass “Turn Away The Gays” laws, under the pretense of freedom of religion (some stagnant thinking indeed).

But, once again, we must look overseas for this award. Because Vladimir Putin was undoubtedly the Most Stagnant Thinker of the year. Even on the big world’s stage of sports and entertainment — the Sochi Winter Olympics — Putin portrayed a deep nostalgia for the Cold War and Soviet eras. After the athletes went home, Putin grabbed Crimea in a naked display of empire not seen for quite some time. His minions then shot down a commercial airliner in the Ukrainian fighting.

Putin seems bent on charting a course for Russia that leads straight back to the worst excesses of the Soviet Union. The economic sanctions and the plummeting price of oil may eventually force him to moderate his behavior, but in 2014 Putin seems an easy pick for Most Stagnant Thinker.

 

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   Best Photo Op

Kim Kardashian’s butt breaks the internet?

Nah, too easy.

We’re going to return to our overarching theme here, and call the best photo op for two photos of Republican politicians that never would have happened in earlier times.

The first is an amusing photograph of Representative John Mica, at a House hearing on marijuana policy. From the story:

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) brought a fake joint to a House oversight hearing on Friday on Washington, D.C.’s new law decriminalizing marijuana.

“I have this joint here,” Mica said. “Don’t get too excited out there, some of you, this is not a real one, it’s a mock one.”

Mica, who opposes marijuana legalization generally, says the law will allow D.C. residents to possess up to 20 joints, and he brought the fake one to make his point.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) asked Mica whether he’d rolled it himself.

“No, I had staff do it,” Mica said in response. “They have more experience.”

Can anyone imagine this happening five or ten years ago? We certainly can’t.

Our second Best Photo Op from last year is this even-more-amusing photograph (the second one down, in the article), which shows Republican Tom Tancredo of Colorado with a documentary filmmaker who created the film Mile High: The Comeback of Cannabis (in which Tancredo is interviewed in, yes, a smoke-filled room).

Tancredo, who is normally to the right of Attila The Hun on most issues, castigates his fellow conservatives for not getting behind legalization on ideological grounds:

What really does make me feel a little bit discouraged is this, everybody talks about the importance of freedom, individual responsibility. I’m talking both left and right, because I think the left comes off just as constrictive of people’s liberty. But in this case, you’ve got people who call themselves, think of themselves as true conservatives and they want freedom for everybody except for people they don’t like or for people that do things they don’t think they should do. That is not freedom, in any way, shape or form. We may have won a political battle with legalization, but the philosophical battle continues to be waged.

Again, as Dylan might say, the times they are a-changin’. As these two Best Photo Op winners show.

 

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   Worst Photo Op

Kim Kardashian’s butt breaks the internet? Heh… we seem to be repeating ourselves….

All kidding aside, there are certain photos which were certainly newsworthy this year. The “I can’t breathe” video and the Islamic State beheadings videos, for instance. But it’s hard to call them “photo ops” since they weren’t staged events for political reasons.

A candidate for a local race in Fresno, California stepped in it big time while trying to use a message about urban blight against his opponent. A decent message, but somebody decided to use a “broken windows” example photo without checking where it was from — which turned out to be Auschwitz. That was pretty bad.

Right after the State Of The Union speech last year, Republican Michael Grimm threatened to throw a reporter over a balcony for daring to ask him a question — that was also pretty bad optics (although the worst part was the audio of his threats).

But the Worst Photo Op, for all kinds of reasons, was what was done by a Tea Partier’s campaign down in Mississippi. The longtime Republican senator, Thad Cochran, was challenged from the right in the primaries. It was a brutal fight, with charges of vote-buying and a sore-loser court case by the Tea Partier when he lost the primary. But just before the election, someone in the Tea Partier’s campaign decided it’d be a good idea to sneak into the care facility where Cochran’s disabled wife lives and snap a few pathetic photos of her, to use in mudslinging.

This is the dirtiest of dirty pool, folks. The lowest of the low. We’re no fans of Thad Cochran, but have to say for the sake of decency that this crossed a few major ethical lines (and legal ones). We refuse to link to the photos themselves (we think they were taken down, but we refused to even search for them on the grounds of awfulness) but even sight unseen, we can easily say this was the Worst Photo Op of the year.

 

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   Enough Already!

This category is a complete free-for-all, as always.

Ted Cruz — Enough already!

Turn Away The Gays laws — Enough already!

Benghazi conspiracy theories — Enough already!

The Washington (Ethnic Slurs) football team — Enough already!

Torture — Enough already!

Dick Cheney — Enough already!

Torture apologists — Enough already!

Michele Leonhart, head of the D.E.A. — Enough already!

 

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   Worst Lie

We had quite a few entries in this category, sadly.

First, a whole category of Republican conspiracy theory lies: “Benghazi!”

Maybe (as a corollary): “Anything that comes out of Darrell Issa’s mouth.”

Or how about: “Obamacare will kill jobs and the economy!”

PolitiFact nailed a big one: “Fearmongering by politicians and media over Ebola.”

But instead of all these, we’re going with a big lie that lasted throughout a goodly portion of the year: “Republicans are ready to pass immigration reform.” No, seriously, remember that knee-slapper?

At the beginning of the year, House Republicans were going to put forth their own immigration bills — many of them, starting with “secure the borders.” Speculation abounded (including quite a bit of my own) over when the correct window would be for John Boehner to introduce such bills (after primary filing season, after the first big primaries, after primary season ends, while the kids-at-the-border crisis was happening, maybe in the fall, etc., etc.). Obama even gave them an extra few months before he announced his own reforms. All of it for naught.

Nothing happened. No bills moved. The Republicans have been in charge of the House since 2010, they’ve been promising “any day now” that they’ll be tackling immigration reform, and they are completely incapable of doing so.

But every time Boehner stands in front of a microphone and repeats the same tired promise — we’re getting right on that, expect a vote soon — the media buys into it once again. Over and over and over. With absolutely nothing to show for it. This year was the worst, in terms of broken promises. Which makes the House Republicans “We’re going to have our own immigration bills” easily the Worst Lie of 2014.

 

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   Capitalist Of The Year

The Capitalist Of The Year award goes to none other than marijuana. The cannabis plant. Grass. Weed. Pot. Dope. Mary Jane. Reefer. Tetrahydrocannabinol and all its merry cannabinoid cousins.

This was the year marijuana grew up and joined the big leagues. Literally, in fact — the 2014 Super Bowl was played between two teams from states with legal recreational marijuana, the first Super Bowl Of Weed in history. How cool is that?

But it wasn’t just marijuana reform or efforts to change laws that won weed this honor. Marijuana is about to spring into being as a multi-billion dollar industry. There is currently a “Green Rush” (akin to a Gold Rush) happening, as more and more companies dive in to the peripheral markets for marijuana — growing apparatus, purity testing companies, technological advances in processing, and all the rest of it.

The federal government has placed an official order for almost three-quarters of a ton of legal weed for the next year, anticipating the rush of scientific studies which can finally actually study the substance without anti-scientific pre-conceived political agendas. This is a new thing, because to do any such studies in the past, you had to be trying to prove how evil marijuana is. Marijuana reform opponents will soon no longer be able to use the convenient “it hasn’t been rigorously tested” excuse. The state of Colorado just approved millions of dollars in state money to support such scientific analysis. In Canada, the first marijuana television ad appeared.

Washington and Colorado have a legal market for marijuana now. Oregon and Alaska will soon join them. This bell’s never going to be unrung, folks. Some fear the future, because it will indeed mean marijuana will become a gigantic industry, with all the corporate baggage that implies. There are already marijuana lobbyists on Capitol Hill, for instance. Yes, at some point the tobacco companies will likely get interested. There will be a marijuana mass market, soon. But just as there is today Pabst Blue Ribbon, there is also Dom Perignon. There will always be an elite marketplace for the best of the best, and marijuana is no different, the fearful should really calm down a bit.

Marijuana is about to become just another commodity. There really is no turning back. It’s about to become big business. In fact, it’s about to become Big Marijuana, worthy of capitalization in the same way Big Banks or the Big Three automakers are capitalized. Not only is this nothing to fear, it is also the reason why marijuana wins Capitalist Of The Year. Nothing else comes close, because the marijuana marketplace is being created from scratch — meaning the growth in this industry will be off the charts for the next few years to come.

 

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   Honorable Mention

This is another one of those anything-goes categories.

First and foremost (to me, at least), an Honorable Mention goes to Craig Ferguson, who helped keep me sane for the past ten years. Craig’s last show is tonight, so don’t miss it!

I’d also like to give an Honorable Mention to Betty Medsger, author of The Burglary, the best book I read all year long. This fascinating story is all but unknown, even to people who recognize such terms as COINTELPRO, the Pentagon Papers, and the Church Committee. I strongly encourage everyone to buy a copy today to put under the tree of your favorite political wonk — they’ll thank you for it later, I promise!

The retiring Democrat John Dingell deserves an Honorable Mention, for being the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives in all our history (he served 29 terms, and was first sworn in when American had only 48 states), and the longest-serving current member of Congress.

Dianne Humetewa, the first Native American woman to sit as a federal judge, deserves an Honorable Mention as well.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, former emergency room doctor, who saved the life of a stranger while on his way to dinner.

Joe Biden, for sending a nice note and a red-white-and-blue corsage to a woman who asked him to be her prom date. A classy response, Joe!

The nameless guy in a Colorado bar who, in a friendly gesture, offered President Barack Obama a toke of his joint (captured on video), with the immortal words “You want a hit of this?” The amazing thing was what happened immediately afterwards — Obama laughed it off, and nothing else happened. The guy wasn’t wrestled to the ground, he wasn’t arrested by the Secret Service (they’ve certainly arrested people near presidents for less), and he wasn’t charged with any crime. That is progress, my friends.

Me (can’t resist), for coining a fun word that won’t be used for another 35 years — “selenofriggatriskaidekaphobia,” the fear of the full moon on Friday the 13th. Heh.

And, out of the hidden annals of history, Buzz Aldrin. An auction revealed a story I certainly had never heard before: Buzz Aldrin officially celebrated communion on the moon. That’s got to be worth at least an Honorable Mention at the very least, right?

 

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   Person Of The Year

If that Capitalist Of The Year award weren’t enough of a shock, our 2014 Person Of The Year was none other than the outgoing Attorney General, Eric Holder.

Holder wins Person Of The Year for being the point man on reversing the federal government’s disastrous War On Weed. Sure, you can argue that Holder didn’t act without approval from his boss, but President Obama has largely been content to let Holder take the lead (and the heat) for all the new marijuana policies. Since Holder took the risks, he also is entitled to the reward.

Holder has done much this year on his own to chart a new course for marijuana policy. Most notably, he allowed the Colorado and Washington experiment to proceed without heavy-handed interference by the feds. He moved to allow banks to deal with above-board marijuana businesses, he stunningly has changed sentencing policy (even retroactively applying it to current prisoners), and he has spoken out on the racial disparities evident in who gets arrested, charged, and sentenced for low-level drug crimes.

He’s got plenty of high-level support (and, no, that is not a pun). Treasury Secretary Jack Lew helped out with the banking rule changes. Five Nobel Prize winners and George Shultz signed a letter in support of ending the worldwide Drug War. Prosecutors are getting on board with the idea. Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens expressed his support. President Obama — the third American president in a row to admit smoking pot earlier in his life — admitted in an interview that smoking pot was less dangerous than drinking alcohol.

The War On Weed is crumbling. We are approaching the end game of this pointless decades-long failed experiment. When the history of legalization is finally written, though, there will be plenty of people responsible for turning points along the way. But Eric Holder will hold a special place as the pioneer who began the efforts to dismantle the federal government’s failed policies on marijuana. Yes, he could have gone further, and he could have gotten there quicker. Yes, injustices still happen on a daily basis. Yes, there are some federal prosecutors who are still way too gung-ho about marijuana prosecutions. Yes, the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency really needs to be fired. There are plenty of caveats — including the biggest: Eric Holder could reschedule marijuana on the “controlled substances” list himself, with the stroke of a pen. Even having said all of that, however, Eric Holder took the first steps on a path that has now changed from being unthinkable to being almost inevitable. For bravely doing what he managed to accomplish, Eric Holder is our Person Of The Year.

 

[See you next week, for the conclusion of our 2014 awards!]

 

If you’re interested in traveling down Memory Lane, here are all the previous years of this awards column:

2013 — [Part 1] [Part 2]
2012 — [Part 1] [Part 2]
2011 — [Part 1] [Part 2]
2010 — [Part 1] [Part 2]
2009 — [Part 1] [Part 2]
2008 — [Part 1] [Part 2]
2007 — [Part 1] [Part 2]
2006 — [Part 1] [Part 2]

 

Chris Weigant blogs at:
ChrisWeigant.com

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-weigant/my-2014-mclaughlin-awards_b_6358276.html