Republicans Admit Voter ID Laws About Helping Romney Win Election

“The Pennsylvania House majority leader says voter ID “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win” the presidency.”* Will a voter suppression effort from Republicans push Mitt Romney past President Obama in 2012? The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

Published on Jun 27, 2012 by 

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The Plot to “De-Fund” The Left

Hovering towards the top of the US Chamber of Commerce’s anti-everything agenda is their attempt to block US citizens from being able to take mega corporations to court when those corporations kill, cripple, and maim consumers with their products. They claim that so-called frivolous lawsuits filed by consumers are causing our court systems to become backlogged, and that they make costs go up for everyone. But behind closed doors, the Chamber is actually helping some of their favorite corporations file frivolous lawsuits against anyone they can. Mike Papantonio talks about the Chamber’s lawsuit hypocrisy with Linda Lipsen, CEO of the American Association for Justice.

Uploaded by  on Dec 5, 2011

Romney and Bibi: Something stinks up in here!

Something stinks up in here! Can it just be a coincidence? What are the chances of Israel ramping up its anti Iran rhetoric just in time for the US election and in particular the presidential debates.

It’s not news that Israel has been after the Iranian’s scalps for a while now. They’re shit scared and based on Iranian rhetoric coupled with decades of pissing off myriad Arab people’s have every right to be. Also Lets not forget the fact that few israeli leaders stay in power long without looking strong on defence. There are a bunch of reasons.

The smart money I think is on the likely surreptitious intervention by an unnamed republican candidate. Sounds like the sort if thing the GOP would do just for fun doesn’t it? I say if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck then in so far as ducks can talk…it’s probably a duck. It’s just so consistent with the GOP’s, “I couldn’t give a rats ass about anyone else” mentality.

So look at Romney’s movements to date. Not only does it turn out that he’s an old work mate of Bibi from back in the day but one of Romney’s first orders of business in his campaign was to go clear across Israel to meet formally with Netanyahu. I know the candidates are all after that key jewish vote and so have to be seen sidling up to israel but for the record i hear thats like never happened! Totally unprecedented!

That was just about 1 month and a half ago. Now that the economic message is faltering an Romney’s campaign is collapsing around him all of a sudden(stroking chin thoughtfully) there’s pressure on Obama to act in the defence of Israel. Yeah and whats with the fricking urgent countdown clock ticking so loudly in the background? If Iran’s so bloody close to building a bomb, i’m sure the matter will keep tell after November 6 (election day). Whats the rush guys?

Im always suspicious of that “almighty rush”. Politicians always rush when they don’t want us to linger and look at any pesky facts. Add all this to Romney’s use of this whole issue and in particular, Bibi’s comments about Israel as the latest thrust in his campaign message mash up. You’re just gotta wonder.

It’s just really troubling that the party of Lincoln have become so sociopathic that they would solicit external forces to destabilise their own government just so they can put some millionaire in power. Wow!

Really patriotic guys. Honest Abe would be so proud of you!

Even Republicans are Lining up to throw “Mittens” under the Bus.

Neocon “talking head” Bill Kristol could hardly restrain himself on the matter of Romney’s most recent revelations. He  made a few crucial points in his Weekly Standard.

It’s worth recalling that a good chunk of the 47 percent who don’t pay income taxes are Romney supporters—especially of course seniors (who might well “believe they are entitled to heath care,” a position Romney agrees with), as well as many lower-income Americans (including men and women serving in the military) who think conservative policies are better for the country even if they’re not getting a tax cut under the Romney plan. So Romney seems to have contempt not just for the Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions who intend to vote for him.

Romney’s most recent “Gaffe”: The Truth Hurts Doesn’t it?

Pundits suggest this bit from Romney was a gaffe but ain’t he just telling the truth?  Listen to how smooth he is telling this crowd how cynically he’s considered his election strategy.  Essentially, to paraphrase the point he’s making to his donors, “Hey you see all that stuff in the press about me being behind, don’t even sweat it. I got this!” . He’s just really reassuring his donors that he he’s not even going to worry about doing anything for the 99%…he’s all focused on that all important 1%. Makes sense. Why throw good money after bad?

I hope no one is surprised by any of this though since  Conservatives have shown over time through their deeds that they’re interests lie only with the 1%. Look at the contrast in the handling of  Katrina recovery, where the poor were basically left to rot in the streets versus the deference shown to bankers and other special interests, cosseted with tax breaks, lax regulation and bailout packages at the expense of tax payers in stimulus after humongous stimulus.

Probably the key bit that was missing from this piece was the rest of Mitts strategy where the GOP plans to disenfranchise swathes of likely democratic voters through new and complicated voter regulations.

Don’t sweat this Mitt, we understand where you’re coming from. You’re almost ready for a presidency…I think Libya may be looking for someone with your “turnaround skills”

The IPhone 5 | is Apple now at the bottom of the well


What an absolute downer. IPhone fans like myself have put off getting any other new smartphone like the Samsung galaxy and even the 4S with the much trumpeted Siri. We all waited patiently and expectantly for the iPhone 5. When the curtains were drawn last Thursday, I felt so let down. Its as if I had been waiting all year for that blockbuster movie which was absolutely “guaranteed” to be a smash hit and then blech, it turns out to be an absolutely stinker. Now that’s not to say that that the IPhone 5 is a dud but compared to the expectations…it might as well had been.

Yes consumer expectations are a bitch. Over the past few months I’ve seen and have eagerly looked out for so many different mock ups of what the phone could be expected to look like. All the while “Apple-philes” like myself confidently believed that whatever we saw on YouTube, those über-gurus at Apple would be sure to top it. Of course they would! After all they always had. But there were hints that we maybe should have known better. Remember the 4S?

The 4S was the last “big thing” that the public actually associated Steve Jobs with. We waited with baited breath for what felt like ages after his death to see what the new smartphone could do. When it did come out I bet we all cried out in unison, “is that it”. It feels as if Steve didn’t live long enough to “finish” the IPhone 5 and then sadly…no one else could. That was it now seems just the start of slide and now it seems like the “idea bank” just may be overdrawn.

Since then competitors like Google, with it’s pugilist proxy, Samsung have been matching and in some cases if I’m being honest, topping a lot of the now expected Smartphone features pioneered by Apple. Even Nokia/windows now actually has a halfway decent “dog in the fight”. Who’d have thunk it? Call me impatient but it feels a lot like the Cupertino crowd is seriously doing some “laurel resting.” It had to happen I guess. After all Steve Jobs had spoiled us all with years of mind blowing improvements ladled out in dramatic style at Macworld expos. So dramatic were these presentations that they would actually give you goosebumps as you counted the seconds to the big reveals. Absolutely surreal!

I remember thinking when jobs was in his last days and sometime after, I started having the feeling that it all couldn’t last. Like all good things it had to end, It was too good. Apple tried desperately to reassure us all that it could continue. That this rate of innovation was now firmly baked into Apple’s DNA(no pun intended) but somehow most of us knew better. After all he was, although part of a huge company still one in a million. The new normal seems now to be moving incrementally rather than boldly. Instead of the fancy bells and whistles of the past we’re now into lengthening screens and shrinking plugs. Now a few years ago when i was still rocking a Blackberry that may have been impressive In that marketplace. However now with the wide range of gadgetry out there I really don’t think that’s going to cut it.

Romney Response on Raids Backfires | NY Times

By Geoff Dyer and Anna Fifield in Washington

Mitt Romney’s attempt to make political capital from the attacks on US missions in Libya and Egypt appeared to backfire on Wednesday when even members of his own party criticised his intervention.

The Republican presidential candidate used the attacks to launch a stinging rebuke of the Obama administration, accusing it of being “disgraceful” after the US embassy in Cairo condemned the “misguided individuals who hurt the religious feelings of Muslims” rather than the attacks.

The state department said the embassy had made the statement before the attacks and was actually responding to the growing protests against an inflammatory US-produced film that portrayed the Prophet Mohammed as a womaniser and child molester.

Speaking in between solemn televised statements by President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, about the death of the US ambassador to Libya, Mr Romney sought to cast the Obama administration as weak because of its response to the protests in Egypt.

“It is a terrible course for America to apologise for our values,” said Mr Romney, referring to the statement by the embassy in Cairo that was critical of anti-Muslim sentiments, which he said was contrary to the idea of freedom of speech.

“They clearly sent mixed messages to the world. And the statement that came from the administration . . . was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a severe miscalculation.”

Mr Obama made no mention of politics when he spoke about the attacks from the White House lawn, but later on Wednesday characterised his Republican rival as ill-equipped to be commander-in-chief.

“There’s a broader lesson to be learnt here: Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later,” Mr Obama said in a pre-scheduled interview with CBS television. “And as president, one of the things I’ve learnt is . . . it’s important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you’ve thought through the ramifications before you make them.”

Mr Obama has sought to portray his Republican rival as inexperienced on international matters – dismissing him last week as “new to foreign policy” – while playing up his own successes abroad, including ending the combat mission in Iraq and ordering the killing of Osama bin Laden.

John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and chairman of the Senate’s foreign relations committee, hit out more directly at the Republican.

“Frankly I don’t think he knows what he is talking about,” said Mr Kerry, who last week accused Mr Romney of being a “neocon”.

The incident has brought foreign policy issues to the fore in an election campaign where Mr Obama is enjoying a bounce in the polls following last week’s Democratic national convention. The Republican team has talked little about foreign policy and Mr Romney was sharply criticised for not even mentioning the war in Afghanistan during his speech to last month’s Republican convention.

His attempt to score political points from the events in Egypt and Libya was immediately condemned by Democrats and also some Republicans.

One Republican foreign policy heavyweight called it “campaign malpractice of the worst form”.

“At a time when foreign policy is coming to the forefront of the campaign, when we have a huge opening on foreign policy with the [Netanyahu] visit, the Romney campaign is instead talking about this,” he said, citing the Obama administration’s decision not to arrange a meeting between Mr Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister who is visiting the US next week.

Richard Armitage, a former Bush administration official and a foreign policy adviser to Republican John McCain during his 2008 presidential bid, said: “I bet the Romney camp wishes it had those initial statements back so they could now express the proper condolences for the loss of life of our diplomats.”

Notably, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, the Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, issued statements condemning the attacks without reference to partisan politics.

Although the economy remains the number one issue for the election, analysts said that Mr Romney’s missteps could hurt him in a race where Mr Obama appeared to be gaining a slight edge.

“There had been a perception that Romney was a moderate and had a chance of winning swing voters,” said David Rothkopf, editor-at-large of Foreign Policy magazine and a former Clinton administration adviser.

“But there is a now lot of evidence that he is like other voices on the far right of the party. I don’t think that the American people are ready to re-elect Dick Cheney,” he said, referring to George W. Bush’s vice-president, who pushed for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Indeed, one of the few people to defend Mr Romney on Wednesday was Donald Rumsfeld, the Bush administration defence secretary.

“The attacks on our embassies & diplomats are a result of perceived American weakness,” Mr Rumsfeld wrote in a tweet. “Mitt Romney is right to point that out.”

Economics developments in the U.S., Europe, and China could trip up Obama’s re-election campaign – T he Daily Beast

In the afterglow of Bill Clinton’s masterful speech, which defended the Obama economy and panned the Romney-Ryan economic vision, Democrats were exultant, and Republicans a little downcast on Thursday morning. The financial news added to the growing sense of euphoria, as the stock market soared to multiyear highs on positive developments in Europe and the U.S.

But those who are ready to declare the election over—prepared to deem the next several weeks moot—should remember one of the early maxims from Clinton’s 1992 campaign: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Yes, things seem to be going better. And the question as to whether people are better off today than they were four years ago may be losing some currency. But the next several weeks present a minefield for President Obama and his reelection campaign. In fact, there are three major sources of danger.

First, jobs. Forget about GDP, or car sales, or the stock market. Jobs and the unemployment rate remain the most politically potent economic indicators. And while the trend has generally been positive in recent months, the levels are still troubling. The unemployment rate remains at an unacceptably high rate of 8.3 percent. The tale of jobs growth under Obama is a tangled one that defies a simple slogan. More than 4 million private-sector jobs have been added since early 2010. But relentless cuts in public-sector jobs, combined with the steep employment drops in 2008 and early 2009, mean the country has a massive jobs deficit. The economy has been adding jobs, but not at a pace sufficient to bring down the unemployment rate.

Now recent signs have been positive. On Thursday, ADP, the payroll-processing company, said the private sector created 201,000 jobs in August—much better than expected. The same day, the Labor Department reported first-time unemployment claims fell, and Challenger reported that announced job cuts in August were at a 20-month low.

Construction Job Fair in New York

Job seekers wait in line at a construction job fair in New York in August 2012. (Seth Wenig / AP Photo)

That’s great. But it doesn’t mean we’re going to get a blow-out positive number when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the August jobs report Friday morning. The much-bruited report is always a statistical mishmash, full of seasonal adjustment and subject to revision. Given the size of the U.S. population, the difference between adding 150,000 payroll jobs and losing 150,000 payroll jobs is statistically insignificant. Just because unemployment claims are down and the ADP report was positive doesn’t mean the BLS jobs report will be. It’s entirely possible that the report will show the economy added only 30,000 jobs, or lost 30,000 jobs in the month. A poor jobs report—and another one in early October—would undercut the Democrats’ narrative of recovery and provide a new opening for Romney.

But those who are ready to declare the election over—prepared to deem the next several weeks moot—should remember one of the early maxims from Clinton’s 1992 campaign: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Second, Europe. In August, as we all know, Europe takes a vacation. So did the European financial crisis. For a few weeks all was quiet on the continent’s fiscal fronts, with a general absence of bad news. And when the European Central Bank reconvened after its holiday, it seemed to do something positive. Thursday morning the ECB announced a new program under which it would buy the government bonds of troubled countries provided they would abide by reform programs. The markets responded favorably.

But that doesn’t mean a European crisis is off the table. Far from it. Nothing fundamental has changed about Greece, or Spain—countries with 24 percent unemployment and shrinking economies. The rest of Europe seems to lack a sense of urgency about its poor growth prospects. On Thursday the ECB announced it wouldn’t be cutting interest rates, and the U.K.’s central bank, evidently pleased with the country’s depression, also announced it would leave interest rates where they are. The European Central Bank can temporarily halt a panic in the markets. But only a combination of aggressive reform and growth can help reduce the underlying factors that feed the intermittent panics. That’s not happening. All of which means the potential for European debt crises to affect the American banking system, and hence our markets and economy, is very much a factor for the next two months.

Third, China. China may be on the way to becoming the world’s largest economy and leaving the U.S. in the dust. In the meantime, however, it remains a relatively opaque, authoritarian, nondemocratic country with brittle infrastructure and a frail political and legal system. For years rampant Chinese growth was a basic assumption—for companies, for commodity producers, for the world’s economies, including America’s. China isn’t in any danger of going into recession, but its growth rate has been slowing. An index that tracks China’s manufacturing sector is registering its lowest reading since 2009. My colleague Dan Levin recently reported on China’s slowdown.

The world has yet to grapple with a China of this size that slows down. And neither has China. Should China’s economy continue to slow in the next several weeks, it could manifest itself in several ways—reduced demand for commodities, declining sales for multinationals, social unrest in China, increased foreign belligerence with neighbors and the U.S. (Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was dissed during her visit). Each of these factors has the potential to disrupt the U.S. economy.

So, yes, the campaign is growing shorter. The flow of data has generally been positive and is making it harder for Romney to make his case that the nation needs a new economic steward. But consider this. Four years ago a financial crisis in the U.S. that manifested itself in unusual and unexpected ways played havoc with the presidential campaigns. Things may seem more placid in the U.S. now than they were four years ago, but the potential for a September or October economic surprise still exists.

CBS’ Norah O’Donnell Grills Paul Ryan On Hypocritical Criticism Of Defense Cuts He Voted For | Mediaite

by Meenal Vamburkar

On Sunday’s Face the Nation, Norah O’Donnell took Paul Ryan to task regarding his past voting record when it came to cuts in defense spending. Reminding Ryan that he’s criticizing the president for a measure that he, too, voted for, O’Donnell pressed the GOP vice presidential nominee on his stance.

O’Donnell noted that Mitt Romney said Republicans were wrong to agree to a debt deal last summer that included automatic cuts to defense spending. “He’s talking about you because you voted for those cuts, correct?” she asked Ryan.

“I did,” Ryan said, adding that he voted for them because he was working to reach common ground with the president and Democrats to “get a down payment on deficit reduction.” He went on to note that he authored and passed a bill “to prevent the president’s irresponsible, devastating defense cuts that were occurring, by cutting wasteful Washington spending in other areas of government.”

O’Donnell reiterated that the defense cuts are part of the Budget Control Act, and that Ryan voted for that act. She then dug up a statement Ryan put out following the legislation, in which he called it a “victory” and a “positive step forward.”

“So, you voted for defense cuts, and now you’re criticizing the president for those same defense cuts that you voted for and called a victory,” she pressed. Ryan disagreed, again noting that the House passed a bill to prevent the cuts, but the Senate didn’t do anything about it.

They got a bipartisan agreement, Ryan said, but the president hasn’t fulfilled his end of that agreement. “The goal was never that these defense cuts actually occur,” he said. O’Donnell then went in to more specifics, breaking down the cuts that were in the legislation, noting that the $1 trillion cuts included those for defense spending, which Ryan voted for. Ryan defensively said that wasn’t the case, as the two sparred back and forth with the specific numbers.

The reason the defense cuts are in the legislation, he said, is because of the Obama administration, whose budget plan he does not support.

The Republicans’ Unprecedented Obstructionism by the Numbers | Crooks and Liars

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“Congressional historians said Mr. Boehner’s move was unprecedented.” A month before Senate Republicans blocked Barack Obama’s popular jobs bill, that’s how the New York Times described Speaker John Boehner’s refusal to grant the President’s request for a September 7 address to joint session of Congress to present the American Jobs Act. As it turns out, “unprecedented” is apt description for almost every boulder in the stone wall of Republican obstructionism Barack Obama has faced from the moment he took the oath of office. From the GOP’s record-setting use of the filibuster and its united front against Obama’s legislative agenda to blocking judicial nominees and its admitted hostage-taking of the U.S. debt ceiling, the Republican Party has broken new ground in its perpetual quest to ensure that Barack Obama will be a one-term president.

Even before Barack Obama took the oath office, Republicans leaders, conservative think-tanks and right-wing pundits were calling for total obstruction of the new president’s agenda. Bill Kristol, who helped block Bill Clinton’s health care reform attempt in 1993, called for history to repeat on the Obama stimulus – and everything else. Pointing with pride to the Clinton economic program which received exactly zero GOP votes in either House, Kristol in January 2009 advised:

“That it made, that it made it so much easier to then defeat his health care initiative. So, it’s very important for Republicans who think they’re going to have to fight later on health care, fight later on maybe on some of the bank bailout legislation, fight later on on all kinds of issues.”

And so, as the chart above reveals, it came to pass.

Time after time, President Obama could count the votes he received from Congressional Republicans on the fingers (usually the middle one) of one hand. The expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) to four million more American kids earned the backing of a whopping eight GOP Senators. (One of them, Arlen Specter, later became a Democrat.) Badly needed Wall Street reform eventually overcame GOP filibusters to pass with the support of just three Republicans in the House and Senate, respectively. Last summer, it took 50 days for President Obama to get past Republican filibusters of extended unemployment benefits and the Small Business Jobs Act. As for the DISCLOSE Act, legislation designed to limit the torrent of secret campaign cash unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, in September Republican Senators prevented it from ever coming to a vote.

The one-way street that is bipartisanship in Washington was most clearly on display during each party’s attempts to pass tax cuts and economic stimulus. While some turncoat Democrats (like debt super committee member Max Baucus) helped Reagan and Bush sell their supply-side snake oil, Republicans were determined to torpedo new Democratic presidents:

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Consider the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act now credited with saving up to three millions jobs and preventing what McCain economic adviser Mark Zandi called “Depression 2.0.” Obama’s margins in the passage of the final $787 billion conference bill were almost unchanged from the earlier versions produced by the House and Senate. Despite then Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s earlier claim that Obama’s bipartisan outreach was a “very efficient process,” the President was shut out again by Republicans in the House. In the Senate, the stimulus actually lost ground, as Ted Kennedy’s absence and the no-vote of aborted Commerce Secretary Judd Gregg made the final tally 60-38. So much for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s January 2009 statement that the Obama stimulus proposal “could well have broad Republican appeal.”

(If that all-out Republican obstructionism sounds familiar, it should. When Clinton’s 1993 economic program scraped by without capturing the support of even one GOP lawmaker, the New York Times remarked, “Historians believe that no other important legislation, at least since World War II, has been enacted without at least one vote in either house from each major party.”)

Sadly, President Obama’s obsession with bipartisan consensus only served to produce more political masochism when it came to his health care initiative. In the House, exactly one Republican voted for a health care reform bill which first passed by a 220-215 margin. Contrary to John McCain’s mythology that in the Senate, there had been “no effort that I know of — of serious across the table negotiations,” Obama repeatedly reached out to GOP Senators like Olympia Snowe and left the writing of the Senate health bill to the bipartisan “Gang of Six.” For that, President Obama only got what Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) called a “holy war” – and zero Republican votes.

But if Barack Obama’s legislative agenda ran into endless Republican obstacles in Congress, his judicial nominees hit a brick wall. The same Republicans who decried the judicial filibuster and demanded an “up or down vote” for President Bush’s selections to the federal bench have stymied Obama’s choices at a record rate.

Citing research by the Alliance for Justice, in June ThinkProgress reported:

[T]he Senate confirmed fewer of [Obama’s] district and circuit nominees than every president back to Jimmy Carter, and the lowest percentage of nominees – 58% – than any president in American history at this point in a President’s first term. By comparison, Presidents George W. Bush, Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Reagan and Carter had 77%, 90%, 96%, 98%, and 97% of their nominees confirmed after two years, respectively.

Senate Republicans’ mass obstruction of Obama’s judges stands in stark contrast to the treatment afforded to past presidents. Indeed, the Senate confirmed fewer judges during Obama’s first two years in office than it did during the same period in the Carter Administration, even though the judiciary was 40 percent smaller while Carter was in office.

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As dismal as that record is, it’s actually an improvement from a year earlier, when only 43& of President Obama’s judicial appointments had been confirmed:

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Not content that federal judges are now retiring at twice the rate that replacements are being confirmed, Congressional Republicans headed off to their five-week August recess without taking action on 20 Obama judicial nominees (16 of them approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee). As ThinkProgress also noted, the rapidly growing caseload for the under-sized federal judiciary means that “even if all judicial vacancies were filled, we’d still need more judges.” It’s no wonder Chief Justice John Roberts – certainly no friend of Barack Obama and the Democracy Party – urged action to address “the persistent problem of judicial vacancies.”

Republican obstructionism hasn’t merely destroyed the nominations of judicial standouts like Goodwin Liu, who this week assumed his new position on the Supreme Court of California. High profile Obama administration nominees like Dawn Johnson and Peter Diamond, the latter a Nobel Prize-winning economist, never saw the light of day in the Senate. And having already dissuaded President Obama from choosing Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by Congress last year, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the GOP would block any and all comers put forward by the White House:

“It’s not sexist. It’s not Elizabeth Warren-specific,” McConnell spokesman Donald Stewart said. “It’s any nominee.”

Just to be on the safe side, Republicans maneuvered to ensure that President Obama could make no recess appointments during the current Congressional recess.

As Ian Millhiser reported in April, Republicans blocked scores of Obama nominees over matters large and small. Often, very small:

Following in the footsteps of Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who placed a hold on over 70 of President Obama’s nominees last year in order to extort tens of billions of dollars worth of pork for his state, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threw a similar tantrum yesterday over a mere $50,000. Graham (R-SC) promised to shut down all executive branch and judicial confirmations in the Senate until he gets $50,000 to conduct a study on deepening the Port of Charleston.

Since House Republicans assumed their new House majority in January 2011, President Obama’s agenda has been effectively shut down. But even before their successful hostage-taking of the federal budget and U.S. debt ceiling, Senate Republicans for years had been shattering filibuster records to stop Democratic legislation dead in its tracks.

As it turns out, the Roadblock Republicans started their work when Democrats recaptured the Senate in 2007, only to redouble their efforts when Barack Obama walked into the Oval Office in 2009.
Back in 2007, former Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott explained the successful Republican strategy for derailing the new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate:

“The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail. So far it’s working for us.”

And the Republicans of the 110th Congress were just getting warmed up. The Senate GOP hadn’t merely shattered the previous records for filibusters. As McClatchy reported in February 2010, the Republicans of the 111th Congress vowed to block virtually everything, counting on voters to blame Democrats for the GOP’s own roadblocks:

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As even Robert Samuelson (no friend of Democrats) acknowledged, “From 2003 to 2006, when Republicans controlled the Senate, they filed cloture 130 times to break Democratic filibusters. Since 2007, when Democrats took charge, they’ve filed 257 cloture motions.” The Senate’s own records reveal obstructionism is the new normal for Republicans:

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The Republicans didn’t merely eviscerate the old mark for cloture motions and filibusters after their descent into the minority in 2007. As Paul Krugman detailed, the GOP’s obstructionism has fundamentally altered how the Senate does – or more accurately, doesn’t do – business:

The political scientist Barbara Sinclair has done the math. In the 1960s, she finds, “extended-debate-related problems” — threatened or actual filibusters — affected only 8 percent of major legislation. By the 1980s, that had risen to 27 percent. But after Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006 and Republicans found themselves in the minority, it soared to 70 percent.

Earlier this year, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow put those numbers of threatened or actual filibusters into an easy-to-read chart so simple that even John McCain could understand it:

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By the time Congressional Republicans brought the United States to the brink of default over the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling last month, GOP obstructionism had become the new normal. But even that gambit was unprecedented. While members of both parties (including then-Senator Obama in 2006) have historically cast symbolic votes against a debt ceiling increase to protest the majority’s agenda, never in recent times has the majority itself had the power to block a boost in the America’s borrowing authority. If anyone had any lingering doubts that the Republican Party and its Tea Party hardliners were responsible for the recent downgrading of the U.S. credit rating, S&P itself left no doubt on the matter:

A Standard & Poor’s director said for the first time Thursday that one reason the United States lost its triple-A credit rating was that several lawmakers expressed skepticism about the serious consequences of a credit default — a position put forth by some Republicans. Without specifically mentioning Republicans, S&P senior director Joydeep Mukherji said the stability and effectiveness of American political institutions were undermined by the fact that “people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default,” Mukherji said. “That a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable,” he added. “This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns.”

Especially among ones who are responsible for most of the debt now facing the country.

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Leave aside for the moment that small government icon Ronald Reagan tripled the national debt and signed 17 debt ceiling increases into law. (That might explain why the Gipper repeatedly demanded Congress boost his borrowing authority and called the oceans of red ink he bequeathed to America his greatest regret.) As it turns out, Republican majorities voted seven times to raise the debt ceiling under President Bush and the current GOP leadership team voted a combined 19 times to bump the debt limit $4 trillion during his tenure. (That vote tally included a “clean” debt ceiling increase in 2004, backed by 98 current House Republicans and 31 sitting GOP Senators.)

Of course, they had to. After all, the two unfunded wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the budget-busting Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 (the first war-time tax cut in modern U.S. history) and the Medicare prescription drug program drained the U.S. Treasury. Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Eric Cantor voted for all of it.

That’s why Eric Cantor’s July statement is so laughable:

“I don’t think the White House understands is how difficult it is for fiscal conservatives to say they’re going to vote for a debt ceiling increase.”

Just not when a Republican is in the White House. As Vice Cheney famously put it in 2002, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” But now that a Democrat is sitting in the Oval Office, Republicans have had a change of heart -and tactics. Now, GOP obstructionism and brinksmanship is not only routine. It’s unprecedented.

Of course, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a different explanation for the failure of the American Jobs Act and so much else of Obama’s agenda to budge the Republicans’ immovable object in Congress. What Team Obama only now calls sabotage, McConnell pretends, instead is all the President’s fault:

“[T]hat’s their explicit strategy — to make people believe that Congress can’t get anything done.

“And how do you make sure of it? By proposing legislation you know the other side won’t support — even when there’s an entire menu of bipartisan proposals the President could choose to pursue instead. The President can govern as though this is the congress he wants or he can deal with the congress he has. Along the first path lies gridlock and along the second lies the kind of legislative progress Americans want. And as for Republicans, well, we’ve been crystal clear from the outset that we prefer the latter route.”