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Democratic Committee Meeting

Monday, October 12, 2015

2 Million, 006 thousand, 669 Visitors Ago, The Amherst Democratic News is Born

2,006,669 VISITORS and READERS
360 issues

Dear Friends, Readers and Visitors,  

Thank You for years of Support.

The published output of the  Amherst Democratic News is available online and consists of 360 issues beginning June 9th, 2009 and may be researched in the Amherst Democratic News Blog Archive.  (entry to archive is at the bottom of each sheet by year, month, day and article title)    It is a complete record containing photos and text.

The very first issue covered the Agenda for the Amherst County Democrats monthly meeting on June 9th, 2009 at the Madison Heights Library at 7 pm.
David Burford was our chair, Betty Zieger read the Secretaries report and Roscoe "Skipper" Fitts was the Treasurer.  


Wright Shop........... Magnolia Braxton

Monroe................... Suzanne Chambers

Temperance............. M&M Gilbert

Court House............. Mary Ann Hostetier

Glasgow..................... Ned & Lynn Kable

Amelon...................... Robert Perry

Elon........................... Mary Truitt
PL. View.....................James Willie Rucker

Madison......................Linda Cocke

C'Well/ LON................Francis Wayne

Leon Parrish and Chair, Ned Kable at Ellen Arthur Kick  Off in Amherst.

The Summer Soltice Festival was approaching and Jeff Price was readying for a run for State Representative.       The Amherst Democratic News was a couple of days old and few if any thought it would still be publishing in  October of 2015.    Barack Obama had been elected President of the United States and all things were possible.

                    " May the blessings of God be upon you. "

Many Thanks for All Your Help

Amherst Democratic News

Fired Benghazi staffer says desire to get Hillary Clinton trumps search for truth

Maj. Bradley Podliska is preparing a lawsuit against the House Select Committee on Benghazi for firing him, alleging that the panel has unfairly targeted Hillary Clinton in its investigation of the 2012 attacks.

The Republican-led House committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks disproportionately targets former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a fired staffer says, an 
accusation that the committee itself vehemently denies.

"I knew that we needed to get to the truth to the victims' families. And the victims' families, they deserve the truth – whether or not Hillary Clinton was involved, whether or not other individuals were involved," Podliska says on CNN’s "State of the Union" Sunday.    "The victims' families are not going to get the truth and that's the  most unfortunate thing about this."

Recommended:   CIA-Senate dispute 101: 9 questions about who's spying on whom.

The former investigator, currently on active duty in Germany, was fired 10 months after joining the committee, which has spent $4.6 million on the investigation so far. 

Podliska is now preparing to sue the select committee, alleging that he was unjustly fired for his efforts to push for a comprehensive investigation, opposing the biased probe into Clinton. The partisan efforts, he explains, intensified after news broke that Clinton was using her private email server instead of the government-issued one.

"Hillary Clinton has a lot of explaining to do. We, however, did not need to shift resources to hyper focus on Hillary Clinton.   We didn't need to de-emphasize and in some cases drop the investigation on different agencies, different organizations and different individuals," Podliska told CNN.   "There's wrongdoing here and I think it needs to stop."

Podliska, a longtime Republican, says he was also fired for taking leave from the committee for active duty in the military, which would violate the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, The New York Times reports.

In a statement Sunday, chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, denied all of Podliska’s allegations on behalf of the committee. He said Podliska never acknowledged his concern over Clinton or partisan opportunism when he was dismissed this summer.

"Because I do not know him, and cannot recall ever speaking to him, I can say for certain he was never instructed by me to focus on Clinton, nor would he be a credible person to speak on my behalf," Gowdy says in the statement.

Gowdy says Podliska had actually been the one eager to scrutinize Clinton.

“Until his Friday conversations with media, this staffer has never mentioned Secretary Clinton as a cause of his termination, and he did not cite Clinton’s name in a legally mandated mediation,” Gowdy continues.   “The record makes it clear he himself was focused on Clinton improperly and was instructed to stop, and that issues with his conduct were noted on the record as far back as April.”

The Washington Post reports that Podliska had delegated to interns a PowerPoint assignment that looked into Clinton’s location and initial responses to the attacks that left four dead.

Democrats say Podliska’s accusations attest to what they have long suspected – that the committee’s Republicans do sustain a partiality against Clinton in their analysis of Benghazi. 

"It’s been clear that Secretary Clinton has been the true target of this investigation,  theRepublican whistle blower who has come forward only provides further evidence of what has been long evident,"  Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a senior Democrat on the Benghazi panel, said Saturday in a statement.   "It’s time to shut down the Benghazi Select Committee."

Clinton herself will testify before the committee for the first time on Oct. 22.


Jeb Bush appears to have paid the price in the eyes of Republican voters for a number of gaffes that included him saying in the aftermath of a college massacre that "stuff happens."

He may be the ultimate establishment Republican, but Bush -- brother and son to former presidents -- has seen his political ambitions stutter in the months since Donald Trump entered the race for the party nomination for the White House.

Bush's low energy style littered with gaffes doesn't seem to fit in today's campaign world.    Don't count Jeb out though cause he's got over 100 Million dollars to buy ads with and to hire someone else to speak for him.     None of the Bushes showed any real talent for the office but huge backing and money did the job for them.    Don't be surprised if it happens again.     You can teach a monkey to debate, the GOP got Sarah Palin over the hump and Jeb seems to be a few IQ points smarter than Sarah.

Bush's plummeting fortunes were confirmed in a CBS News poll released Sunday which said his favorable rating among Republican primary voters has dived 11 points since August.

Trump, with 27 percent, remains in the lead in the race for the Republican nomination, with Ben Carson (21 percent) in second place, according to the poll.

   5th Place, GW said "Thats good for Jeb"

Next are Ted Cruz (nine percent), Marco Rubio (eight percent).    Bush was in fifth in the crowded field of 15 Republican presidential hopefuls with six percent.

He was on 13 percent just two months ago.

The Bush campaign has shown a puzzling lack of traction against brash real-estate mogul Trump as he seeks to break out from the rest of the crowded field, reinforcing American voter skepticism about him following his father's and brother's footsteps into the White House.

The former Florida governor invited opprobrium for his reaction to the October 1 college shooting that left nine people dead and for his comments in August about women's health.

Hillary Clinton, with 46 percent, continues to lead in the race for the Democratic nomination, the poll said.

Trey Gowdy is right. The House is basically ungovernable.

In an interview with NBC's Kristen Welker, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy (R) offered his honest — and correct — assessment of his party in Congress.   Here's the key bit:

I think the House is bordering on ungovernable right now. ... Being speaker is a very difficult job. We need to have a family conversation and sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before that conversation starts.    We're getting close.

Now, Gowdy was explaining to Welker why he wouldn't be interested in the soon-to-be vacant job as speaker of the House.   But his reasoning is almost certainly why Paul Ryan isn't jumping at the job either, despite basically every establishment Republican in the country urging him to do it.

The problem for Ryan, Gowdy and anyone else who is thinking about being speaker can be explained in a very simple math problem. Republicans currently control 247 seats.  

There are, roughly, 40 Republican members — the vast majority of whom identify with the tea party-affiliated Freedom Caucus — who will vote against the wishes of leadership on almost any major measure unless the leadership adopts a very conservative stance.    If you subtract 40 from 247, you get 207 -- 11 votes short of what a speaker would need to pass a piece of legislation without relying on any Democratic votes.

A Republican speaker who needs to always lean on Democrats to pass anything doesn't really have all that much power.    And every time he (or she) leans on Democrats to pass something, that power erodes even more. 

But, you say, if Ryan was speaker, the Freedom Caucus wouldn't rebel!   They like Ryan!   He is conservatives' favorite establishment guy!

And you'd be right (sort of).    “Paul Ryan is a good man,”   Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, chair of the Freedom Caucus, said on “Fox News Sunday."   “If he gets in the race, certainly our group would look favorably on him."

So yes, Ryan would — as we noted in this space last week — almost certainly be the only member of the GOP conference who could get the 218 votes needed to be speaker in a floor vote.    But getting elected speaker — while a real accomplishment — is not the same thing as running the House effectively.

And that's where Ryan and the Freedom Caucus would almost certainly part ways.    If past is prologue, what the tea party-aligned GOP members of the House want on any given piece of legislation is absolute adherence to conservative principles.   So no raising of the debt ceiling.   No budget if federal dollars for Planned Parenthood are included.

In fact, no compromise — with Senate Republicans, with the White House, with anyone — at all.    And that is where Ryan would run into trouble.   At the core of being the leader of either the House or Senate is compromise — especially when the current occupant of the White House isn't in the same party that you are.

Ryan, Gowdy or anyone else who tried to "run" the House would, inevitably, be drawn into talks with Obama about how to cut a deal to keep the government open, or raise (or not) the debt ceiling. 

Being speaker is a powerful position, but you don't get the last and only word on how legislation turns out.    There is a group in the House three dozen 
or so strong that chooses not to understand that dynamic or simply doesn't care.

That was the problem Boehner was confronted with again and again during his time as speaker.    He would hold firm on the preferred conservative outcome and refuse to budge in negotiations with the White House.    But as deadlines drew near — and things like shutting down the government over a dispute over funding Obamacare loomed — Boehner would always advocate for talking to Senate Democrats and the White House in hopes of cutting the most advantageous deal possible.   But the tea party wing wanted no conversations, 
no deals.   Boehner's hands were tied.    The end.

It's hard to imagine the House under Ryan's control being all that much different.   I think he might get some honeymoon period from the tea partiers, but they are simply not a go-along-to-get-along bunch by nature.    And with some major fights coming up soon in Congress, it seems likely that the Freedom Caucus would revert back to their oppositional ways sooner rather than later.

The question for House Republicans — and again, Gowdy hit the nail on the head — is what "rock bottom" looks like.   Rock bottom at the presidential level for the party came in 1964 when Barry Goldwater won the Republican nomination but proved too conservative for the country as a whole and won only 52 electoral votes against Lyndon Johnson.

Given how heavily gerrymandered most House districts are (along with the GOP's significant natural advantage on the House map, given the concentration of Democrats in urban areas), it's hard to imagine House Republicans suffering broad-scale electoral losses (or losing control of the majority) before the national redrawing of congressional lines in 2021.   The one thing I can imagine that might meet the standards of "rock bottom" is if Ryan decides not to run for speaker and what follows is a protracted, nasty fight — 
the result of which is some sort of power-sharing deal within the GOP or, even more remarkably, with Democrats.

Those scenarios — especially a power-sharing deal with Democrats — seem very unlikely to me, which may mean that House Republicans are still a ways from rock bottom.   But even if they haven't bottomed out just yet, that doesn't mean there is anyone in the party who can lead it in its current form.   There isn't.

Ben Carson Loses Brain Surgeon License After Making Numerous Brainless Comments

The Medical Boards for all 50 States in the Union announced today that they have revoked Ben Carson's medical license and will no longer allow him to operate as a brain surgeon any where in the U.S.    And they cited as their reason Carson's mental and intellectual challenges -- otherwise known as the propensity to sound like a total and utter nutcase.

In a joint statement, the Medical Boards said:  We have been increasingly concerned about the gibberish emanating from Mr. Carson's cerebrum.    
We cite by way of example his belief that the holocaust could have been prevented by armed German citizens, that straight people go into prison and come out gay, and that Obamacare is the worse thing to happen to the country since slavery.

We are therefore suspending his medical license in any state where he is qualified to practice.   And should he choose to come out of retirement and re-apply for credentials, we will not allow him to operate on people's cerebrums, or indeed cerebellums, limbic systems and brain stems, until he can demonstrate that his own are in fully working 

While appearing on The Really Bad Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Ben Carson said:  "I'm very disappointed to hear this news and I categorically deny I'm crazy.    I think this 
is a concerted effort by Dr. Gregory House, Dr. No, Dr. Who and Dr. Doolittle to undermine my candidacy for the Presidency and I am therefore going to ignore it and carry on 
with my campaign regardless."

In his defense, Carson also highlighted comments made by other Republican candidates for the Presidency too.   "Listen, Donald Trump thinks he can deport 11 million people back to Mexico and then get Mexico to pay for a wall to stop them coming back in.

Carly Fiorina believes she can run the entire United States of America even after running little old HP into the ground.

And Ted Cruz doesn't want to work with Democrats to get things done, and yet he told Fox News in 2012 that he's prepared to work with Martians!    I mean seriously, if I'm a loony tune, these folks must be too."

Unfortunately for the Republican party, Carson's assertions have been borne out by the latest Real Clear Polidicks opinion poll.   On the question of which Republican candidate is the most  "bat shit crazy",  Ben Carson is tied in equal first place with Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Rand Paul.

The poll was conducted earlier this week, it had 330 million respondents and no margin for error.

Monday, October 5, 2015

House To Fight It Out for Leader, The Speaker Throwdown.

McCarthy Blows Election

With Kevin McCarthy's recent response to the simplest question about GOP accomplishments in Congress, from the friendliest interviewer,  Sean Hannity,  a GOPer could hope for, the future may as well be called Democrat. 

Here's what McCarthy offered if you happened to be away exploring conspiracies about liquid water on Mars: "Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?" he said.   "But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today?   Her numbers are dropping.   Why? Because she's untrustable."

The consequences of McCarthy's sleight of tongue can't be overstated.  It wasn't just a Washington gaffe, when someone accidentally tells the truth.   It was a self-inflicted, potentially fatal wound, not just to McCarthy but to Republicans more broadly, including those running for president.

One minute McCarthy was the near-certain next speaker of the House;  the next he was persona non grata as GOP colleagues, their own minds hurtling through various apocalyptic scenarios, hammered him.    Will they support him after he gave their secrets away?

McCarthy has since tried to cram the bad genie back into the bottle, but the damage has been done and can't be undone. 

Essentially, he had handed Clinton the keys to her prison cell.   Held hostage these past three years by a series of Republican interrogators about the September 2012 attack in Libya that killed our ambassador and three others, she has been liberated.     The only thing McCarthy didn't speak up on was that the GOP blocked money for extra security at the site, and this is already well known.

The Benghazi hearings that led to the private server, that led to the missing 30,000 emails, that led to the FBI investigation that thus far has led only to the conclusion that she was "hackable" have been reduced in the public mind to a political hit job organized to damage her chances of becoming the Democratic presidential nominee.   This is now the longest investigation in history and it is all a part of the republican quest for the presidency in 2016.   

This isn't necessarily the whole of it — House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy and others certainly believe there's more to know — but the cement has set on what McCarthy implied.   At the very least, any previous suspicions that Republicans were just out to get Clinton have cleared the bar of reasonable doubt.   The republicans are still just out to get Clinton and one of their dumb members has given the secret away.     Thank you Kevin McCarthy for getting so caught up in the games you play that you forgot it was a game.

GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah presented himself as a new face who can unite the House in the wake of Speaker John Boehner's sudden resignation last month. Boehner's deputy, 

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, remains the favorite, but Chaffetz's candidacy ensures there will be no coronation.

The House GOP will vote by secret ballot on Thursday, following by a floor vote in the full House later in the month.

"I can bridge that divide between our more centrist members and some of the more far-right-wing members.   That's why I've entered this race," Chaffetz told "Fox News Sunday."

"The American public wants to see a change.   They want a fresh start, " Chaffetz said.   "There's a reason why we see this phenomenon across the country, and you don't just give an automatic promotion to the existing leadership team.   That doesn't signal change."

Chaffetz, the 48-year-old chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has used that post to launch high-profile investigations of the Secret Service, Planned Parenthood and other issues.

His candidacy, which took most lawmakers by surprise when news began to emerge Friday, underscores chaos in the House little more than a week after Boehner, R-Ohio, announced he would resign rather than face a possible floor vote to depose him pushed by hard-line conservatives.

In the days immediately following, McCarthy was viewed as the presumptive favorite to replace the outgoing speaker, who quickly endorsed his No. 2.

But that dynamic began to shift, particularly following McCarthy's gaffe last week suggesting that the purpose of a special House committee investigating the deadly attacks in 2012 of the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, was to drive down Hillary Rodham Clinton's poll numbers. Clinton, secretary of state at that time, is now the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.

McCarthy retracted the comment and said he regrets telling the truth, but it's given a potent weapon to Democrats ahead of a high-profile Oct. 22 appearance by Clinton before the committee.     This is considered a rookie mistake as republicans are well trained to avoid the truth at all costs.

The Benghazi attacks killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

Chaffetz acknowledged that McCarthy has the support of a majority of House Republicans, making Boehner's deputy the likely winner in secret-ballot elections set for Thursday.

But under House rules, that outcome does not guarantee that McCarthy will become speaker.   He also has to win a public vote of the full House later in October.   That outcome is less certain because of potential opposition to McCarthy from the same 30-plus hard-line conservatives who pushed Boehner out.

"You might have another one or two that step in the race to get their names in the race and I wouldn't be surprised by that,"  Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who is supporting McCarthy, said on CNN's  "State of the Union."    ''I do think McCarthy has the votes for it.    He did speak inartfully this week.    There's no doubt, that's something that has hurt him and I'm sure he wishes he could take it back and reposition."    Marsha can dance a jig around a cow pattie, she took her never tell the truth lesions seriously.

There are 247 Republicans and 188 Democrats in the House, and Democrats would be certain to vote against McCarthy.   That means McCarthy could lose only 29 Republicans and still come out with majority support.

Chaffetz asserted that it's a vote McCarthy cannot win.   "He's going to fall short,"  Chaffetz said.

Indeed, so far McCarthy has not claimed he has the needed 218 votes locked up.   But Chaffetz' ability to get 218 votes in the House seems even less certain.   Nor is it clear that the House GOP's hard-line faction will embrace him, especially because of an episode where he briefly revoked a subcommittee chairman's gavel to try to enforce obedience to leadership.

That suggests ongoing tumult ahead in the weeks leading up to the floor vote, even as Congress is confronting a weighty to-do list, starting with raising the government's borrowing limit in early November.    At the same time the presidential contest is riding an anti-establishment wave that's seen some of the leading candidates denounce 
Congress' Republican leaders.

Amid the disarray some lawmakers are seeking more time to consider their options. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., planned to send a letter seeking a delay in elections to lower-level leadership posts.    But Rep. Steve Scalise's camp claimed Sunday he already had enough votes to win the race for House majority leader.

McCarthy's spokesman declined comment on Chaffetz's announcement.    Republicans don't have time for their own games much less govern the country.

But Republicans friendly to McCarthy began circulating material to reporters intended to discredit Chaffetz by pointing out some of his own occasionally controversial comments, such as refusing to rule out impeachment of President Barack Obama over Benghazi.    It is just wonderful when republicans attack each other, it makes Ronnie smile.

A hearing on Planned Parenthood that Chaffetz presided over last week also drew criticism from Republicans for failing to effectively prosecute the organization's practice of providing fetal tissues for research.    Republicans need fewer issues because they never settle one, they use it over and over and forget about it when they are in control.    Then the next time they are out of office they knock the dust off of it and talk it up big time.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., another McCarthy supporter, said on ABC's "This Week" that McCarthy's comments over Benghazi amounted to "a tempest in a teapot."

"I think some people are using it as an opening to get in the race.  That's fine.   This is politics. Hardball sport,"   Cole said.   "But I don't think it's going to change how anybody votes."   " I don't know if any of this will change a republicans mind but is is well known that facts will not change how they vote."

"I guess you folks see what I was dealing with now.    How could I keep all the idiots you elected in line and govern this country.    It is time for the voters to wake up and accept responsibility for the mess they have created.    Thanks to the Democrats for the many times they saved the country and me from the folly the radical house republicans had forced us to face."

"John Boehner"

Meet the Republicans who ousted John Boehner. They're just getting started

When the House broke for its August recess, Republican Rep. John Fleming went home to Louisiana to connect with voters.   He got an earful.

Fleming says his constituents see a GOP-controlled Congress failing to check President Obama, even as federal regulations are hurting them personally.   It doesn’t matter to them that the president has veto power, or that Democrats can still block Republicans in the GOP-controlled Senate.

“They just don’t want to hear that.   That’s an excuse to them,”  he says in an interview.   “They at least want a fight.”

Fleming is doing his darndest.

In January, he and eight other hard-line Republicans formed the House Freedom Caucus to challenge the GOP leadership, which they claim is not fighting hard enough for Republican priorities.    Now they’re bigger and they're emboldened.  They just succeeded in driving out Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio, who recently stunned Washington with the news that he will retire from Congress on Oct. 30.

In the weeks ahead, the Freedom Caucus will have plentiful opportunities to push the fight further – from the speaker's race to a combustible mix of fiscal deadlines this fall.   Though members say they have not yet settled on a strategy, one thing is certain:   They are not afraid of government shutdowns, fiscal cliffs, or any other hardline tactics that typically made Boehner wince.

Republicans have not gotten what they wanted, they say, not because these gambits failed, but rather because leadership didn't commit to them, heart and soul. 

And they want that to end now.


For this invitation-only group of about 40 members, which meets regularly at a Capitol Hill restaurant called the Tortilla Coast, the fight starts with the GOP's election for the speakership and other GOP leadership offices, which will take place in a secret ballot on Thursday.

Mr. Boehner said he wanted to spare his members and the institution the “turmoil” of an expected attempt to oust him.   But to many conservatives, like the members of the Freedom Caucus, turmoil is not the problem.   They want real change in the top-down way the House is run and are making demands.

That pressure bubbled over Sunday when Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) of Utah suddenly joined the race, challenging Boehner’s presumed successor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R) of California. 

Congressman Chaffetz says he was "recruited" as an alternative to majority leader McCarthy.   He doubts Boehner’s right-hand man can get enough conservatives to win a final floor vote for speaker without having to rely on Democrats.   That vote will occur at the end of the month.

"You don't just give an automatic promotion to the existing leadership team,"  Chaffetz said Fox News Sunday.   Voters “want us to take that fight to the Senate.   They want us to take that fight to the president.”

Beyond the race for the speakership, the House has a to-do list chock full of pressure points for the Freedom Caucus, including debt, budget, and tax deadlines.   Many in Washington are quaking over the deadlines.   They remember previous cliff-hanger negotiations between the Obama administration and Republicans in Congress.   They wonder whether the Freedom Caucus will trigger a government shutdown over federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the way hardliners did over Obamacare in 2013.

Caucus members see the coming weeks as an opportunity.   Exactly what their fight will look like  “is kind of fluid,” says Rep. Matt Salmon (R) of Arizona, another caucus founder.   But “as we go forward, we’re going to consider anything and everything,” he said last week.

Whether Republicans are fighting hard enough for their priorities is a matter of opinion, and forms a dividing line in the party that runs from voters, to Congress, to the presidential race.

Sixty percent of Republican voters say they feel “betrayed” by their political party, according to a September Fox News poll.   Two-thirds of GOP primary voters do not believe Republican majorities have done enough to block Obama’s agenda, the poll finds. 


“It’s somewhat subjective,  'Did you fight hard enough for your priorities?'   With Boehner, the answer is,  ‘No, you didn’t,’ ”  says Matt Kibbe, the former head of the tea party advocacy group Freedom Works.

Mr. Kibbe is the kind of person Boehner means when he rails against “false prophets” who gin up the base with unrealistic promises.   The speaker blames outside groups such as Freedom Works and Heritage Action for egging on the 2013 shutdown, a strategy he says was doomed to fail.   He and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky have since vowed not to repeat a shutdown.

But Kibbe says it is Boehner who is the false prophet, promising in the 2010 GOP  “Pledge to America”  to roll back spending to 2008 levels and to repeal Obamacare if the Republicans won the House.

“You have to believe that they never meant it,” says Kibbe, who is now a senior adviser to Concerned American Voters, a super political action committee for GOP presidential candidate and libertarian,  Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

“This idea that shutting down the government is a fundamental loser for Republicans – I just don’t buy it,” Kibbe continues.   He notes that it was only after the shutdowns of 1995 and early ’96 that Republicans, under the leadership of Speaker Newt Gingrich, were able to strike a deal on welfare reform with President Clinton.

“Clinton took Gingrich seriously;  Obama has never taken Boehner seriously.”

Fleming couldn’t agree more.   He points to the stunning midterm election of 2014, which returned a historic number of Republicans to the House and handed the Senate to GOP control – despite the shutdown the year before.

Republicans rarely put a bill on the president’s desk that he doesn’t like, Fleming complains. Indeed, the president has only vetoed four bills in his seven years in office – though he’s made plenty of veto threats.

“We could be getting more than we’re getting now,”  Fleming says.   “By raising the white flag before the discussion debate even begins, we’ve already lost.”


Other Republicans – hardly moderates – don’t see it that way.

Take Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform.   He’s famous for his Taxpayer Protection Pledge to oppose tax increases.   Most Republicans in Congress have signed it.

Ideologically, Republicans are more united today than ever, he says.   What Republican is for Obamacare?   Or for tax increases?

Under Boehner’s leadership, he notes, the House scrapped earmarks.   Republicans negotiated permanent tax cuts for most Americans.   They got budget caps and the first real spending cuts since the end of World War II.   They reformed a part of Medicare in what’s known as the “Doc Fix.”   They even sued the president.

“People take progress for granted,” says Mr. Norquist.   "What you would like is not the question.    I would like rubies and diamonds.... It's, 'What can you accomplish?' "

In Congress, a backlash may be building against Freedom Caucus hardball tactics.   Last month, a caucus member quit, saying tactics were harming, not helping, the GOP cause.   Over in the Senate, Republican colleagues shouted down tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas last week over his procedural move related to spending and Planned Parenthood.

“There’s a lot of frustration.   In some sense, this group treats Republicans like they’re their enemy,”  says Rep. Tom Cole (R) of Oklahoma, a Boehner supporter.   “It’s always inappropriate to try and blackmail your teammates.”

The Oklahoman understands the anger of Freedom Caucus members.   The political roadblocks to the GOP agenda frustrate him, too, but anger clouds their judgment, he says.   The caucus pursues things that  “demonstrably don’t work,”  such as threatening to shut down the Department of Homeland Security over the president’s immigration policy.

Cole hopes that a new speaker can help calm the waters.   “I think we’ve got an opportunity for a little bit of a new beginning.”

Could we survive as a country with republicans running the whole show?

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