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Friday, October 21, 2016

By Jay Bookman, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In an interview on Fox News over the weekend, incoming House Majority Whip Steven Scalise of Lousiana was asked repeatedly by Chris Wallace about the prospect of impeaching President Barack Obama. The exchange was illuminating, both for the lack of illumination that Scalise was willing to offer, and for his sheer mendacity.

After Wallace pressed him on the impeachment issue, here’s how Scalise responded:

SCALISE: You know, this might be the first White House in history that’s trying to start the narrative of impeaching their own president. Ultimately, what we want to do is see the president follow his own laws. But the president took an oath to faithfully execute the laws of this land and he’s not. In fact, the Supreme Court unanimously more than 12 times, unanimously said the president overreached and actually did things he doesn’t have the legal authority to do.

WALLACE: Again, on executive action to defer more deportations, what will the House do?

SCALISE: We’ve made it clear. We’re going to put options on the table to allow — to allow the House to take legal action against the president when he overreaches his authority. Others have already done that. Cases are going to the Supreme Court. Like I said, more than a dozen times the Supreme Court unanimously — I’m not talking about a 5-4 decision — 9-0, unanimously said the president overreached.

So, we’re going to continue to be a check and a balance against this administration.

WALLACE: But impeachment is off the table?

SCALISE: Well, the White House wants to talk about impeachment, and, ironically, they’re going out and trying to fundraise off that, too.

WALLACE: I’m asking you, sir.

SCALISE: Look, the White House will do anything they can to change the topic away from the president’s failed agenda — people paying higher costs for food, for health care, for gas at the pump. The president isn’t solving those problems. So, he wants to try to change the subject.

Some points to consider:

1) By my count, Wallace asked the impeachment question four times. Scalise evaded it four times. Yes, politicians evade questions all the time. Yes, Democrats are attempting to fundraise off the impeachment possibility. But Scalise could have pulled the rug from beneath that effort with a simple statement that the House would not consider impeachment. Despite repeated opportunities, he did not. He pointedly left the option on the table and tried to change the subject, ironically by accusing the president of trying to change the subject.

2) Scalise claimed that instead of impeachment, the topic should be what he called “the president’s failed agenda — people paying higher costs for food, for health care, for gas at the pump.” OK, let’s take a look at those issues.

People are not paying higher costs for food, with a few notable exceptions such as pork and fresh produce. Those costs spikes are temporary, driven by widespread drought perhaps associated with climate change, as well as by a virus that killed millions of piglets last year. I’m not sure how Obama might have intervened with those problems. Maybe he should have issued an executive order banning piglet-killing viruses, but then again, the House would have added it to the list of impeachable offenses.

Gasoline prices are dropping, not rising, falling nine cents a gallon in the last two weeks. They have recently been 9.5 cents below what they were a year ago. If the president is to be blamed when prices increase, I suppose Scalise is willing to give him credit when they fall. Or maybe not.

—Contrary to Scalise’s claims, health care inflation also remains at near-record-low levels.

3) In an effort to document the conservative narrative that Obama has become some sort of tyrant run amok, Scalise twice repeated the claim that “more than a dozen times the Supreme Court unanimously — I’m not talking about a 5-4 decision — 9-0, unanimously said the president overreached.”

That too is a complete fabrication, and Scalise knows it.

As Politifact documented a month ago, eight of the 13 Supreme Court cases referenced by Scalise were initiated by actions taken in the administration of President George W. Bush and were inherited under Obama. also studied the claim; it too rejected it as false.

In addition, most of the 13 cases had nothing to do with presidential overreach. “For example, in United States v. Jones, the court was ruling on whether the FBI had the power to use a GPS to track a suspect and gather evidence,” Politifact points out. A second case involved a court ruling that “police could not search your cell phone without a warrant if you were arrested.” A third case involved a state law in Massachusetts that regulated protests outside abortion clinics. A fourth case — begun under Bush — involved tax law on overseas income. A fifth — also a Bush case — involved the statute of limitations in securities law.

In other words, the core piece of evidence behind the GOP’s narrative of executive overreach by Obama — evidence cited by Ted Cruz, by National Review, by the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and now by Scalise — is fraudulent. But those spreading it do not care. They have fed the base this “Obama-is-an unconstitutional-tyrant” line to keep it riled up, fearful and distracted, and it has worked. That is all they care about.

And if by creating this image of Obama as tyrannical threat to constitutional government, they create a groundswell for impeachment that they cannot control? Like little boys playing with fire, they don’t seem worried by that either.

Jay Bookman writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Readers may send him email at [email protected]

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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  • Liars. Psycho’s. Crazies. Office holders. Deniers of reality & proven science. How many more mental & psychological inconsistencies must we HAVE TO BE FORCED TO CONFIRM before we realize that not a single Republican has any business in Washington, except in the capacity as garbage man or animal waste cleaner? They have lots of experience w/these chores & this article proves it w/out a doubt…

    • TZToronto

      Garbage collectors and animal waste cleaners work very hard to do their job well. The same can’t be said about Congressional Republicans.

      • … well, at the very least, forcing them to do a real & HONEST days work, would be a vast improvement to what they’re doing now – but yes, U are so correct…

        • DAK27

          A Republican cannot do an honest days work… they are, above all else, dishonest and if given the choice between honest and anything else, they would always pick the least honest way. It is in their nature, just as a dog will chase anything that runs, a Republican will lie about anything even if they KNOW IT IS A LIE.

    • Not even. As waste cleaners, they would first refuse to do their jobs, then throw the waste all of the place and insist they saw Obama do it.

      The problem is that you only got it half right. They are liars, but they are not crazy; they know EXACTLY what they are doing. Their problem is that they are counting on we, the American people, to be ignorant and not have the time to constantly fact-check them on it.

      They are not crazy, but they are undeniably dangerous and have no business doing anything, not even collecting our trash.

      • charleo1

        You are exactly correct. Ignorance is an essential element in
        all they claim to hold dear. Without public ignorance in the mix, nothing works. Nothing makes any sense. One could say, ignorance is the foundation on which they attempt to bring down a President, and rebuild their political fortunes.

      • stcroixcarp

        I agree, they know exactly what they are doing. They are following through on Nixon and Reagan’s “Southern Strategy” based on racism. Lee Atwood was the architect of this GOP policy. Although he repented of his “Willie Horton” ad, the Republicans have not. They are only getting worse.

        • Allan Richardson

          Lincoln said “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” Today’s party “of Lincoln” says, “But 51 percent of each gerrymandered district every two years is enough.”

      • … the way these bums operate, not even a Union could keep them on the payroll, as the negative influence would impact the entirety of the body. This is why it’s more important now than ever to get rid of the whole lot of them, as Senator Harry Reid has even failed to protect the Senate body from the miserable ineptitude of Republicans! He’s waiting on their ‘good conscience’ to kick-in, when in reality, he should be kicking a@$ & enforcing the rule of a simple majority for bill passage, w/no negotiations or rider-attachments allowed. This is what ‘conciliation’ has gotten Democrats & why conservatives feel emboldened to lie, cheat, steal & injure on the American citizenry – no matter that their own constituents are maimed & killed by their irrational & intentional negligence…

        • DAK27

          I agree with everything you said but the last sentence “no matter that their own constituents are maimed & killed by their irrational & intentional negligence…”

          The Koch brothers and the other upper 1%’ers are doing very, very well and I haven’t heard of any of those assholes being maimed or killed.

      • dana becker

        Well, as Twain once said give or take…”Never underestimate the stupidity of the American voter”. It still holds true today.

  • charleo1

    Laughable? In a morbid way. But, the GOP is morphing into a dark, radical,
    potentially very dangerous organization. Whether we like to think about it, or not. These nut jobs, liars, and certifiable lunatics weld a lot of power. And I don’t see an honest adult, with a lick of sense among them.

    • Steven Webster

      liar of the year award.

      • charleo1

        Fuck you! How about that?

        • jointerjohn

          What’s more, the fool called you a liar when you were stating opinion, not fact. Their little paranoid minions don’t even understand the English language nor how to use it. I too am concerned over the number of their followers who can’t sort fantasy from reality, fact from fiction. The modern republican party is selling a concept that truth is whatever you want it to be. I thought it was funny a few years ago but it has become their trademark and that is worrisome.

        • DAK27

          And if you’ll notice, Steven Webster has gotten an “upvote” from a Guest… Who also did not try and present any facts to back up the liar claim.

          Birds of a feather I guess. Neither knows shit but what FOX tells them and since FOX had to go to court to “win” the right to lie to the public… seems to debunk their claim that only they know the truth.

      • DAK27

        Why don’t you identify the lie (pick one since you claim there are so many) and present the facts required to prove it is a lie? Is it because you cannot (which means what Charleo said was the truth) or is it because you are just parroting stuff you heard on FOX and have no idea how logical adults debate?

        • Steven Webster

          Really, you cannot think of one lie the current POTUS verbalized. I heard the current POTUS lie to the whole world from the UN. Another 1st for the USA. Or can you find another speech from the POTUS to the world from the UN that everyone knew was lie as did he.

      • ralphkr

        I take it, Steven, that you are posting this while looking in a mirror.

  • Daniel Jones

    I wonder how Germans saw a certain political party before 1923..
    I know, I just ran afoul of Godwin’s Law, but they really are going down that dark path.

    • Allan Richardson

      Depends on who ends up in control of their party. If they can keep it down to the “moderate crazies” like … sorry I can’t think of anybody who is a “moderate crazy.” But if the REALLY crazy take over, like … almost ALL of their hate radio and Faux Nooz crew, well … pray for the United States of America to wake up. Then after praying, WORK to elect Democrats; even the WORST Democrat, at this time, is a better choice than the best Republican, because the have a much more benign party line for the country’s future than the GOP.

      • DAK27

        I don’t know if there are any sane Republicans left. Look what happened to Huntsman when he tried to talk a little sense and now I think the TEA party crazies has taken over the GOP lock, stock and barrel. The TEA party IS the Republican party and the Republican party IS the TEA party and the only way out is a third political party.

        • Allan Richardson

          Since third parties seldom last, you could also try to UNLEARN the stuff Republicans say about the Democrats that isn’t really so. Then you may find that you want to vote for Democrats for the next few elections until the GOP recovers its sanity or is replaced by another party.

        • jmprint

          We can start calling it the CRUZ regime.

    • Genevievev

      They do not support the American people and they are not even hiding this fact. Have you called any GOP/TP congress member?They are rude. They don’t care and are working for the wealthy few who have short term vision of pure greed. Their crazy supporters do not know they are just being used as tools. If we do not stop them, our children will never forgive us. We all need to vote in Nov.

  • DAK27

    Once again the GOP takes Party over Country and spreads lies and half-truths. If Obama was even HALF as bad as they say, why are they resorting to lies? There should be plenty of factual statements, with verifiable data to prove to even the most ardent Obama supporter what they say is true, that lying would not be required. However, the GOP went the other way. They lie about EVERYTHING and have since day one of Obama’s Presidency. Now it is like the boy who cried wolf, even if they find something bad, I for one will never believe them. NEVER, NOT EVER and sorry to say but by this point, all Republicans get painted by the same brush. From the local to the federal level, I have yet to hear even ONE REPUBLICAN call out the GOP for these lies, so I must conclude that every single Republican is a liar, a cheat, and a thief who is more interested in their political party than this country and I will vote accordingly.

    • Allan Richardson

      “Facts? We don’t need no stinkin’ FACTS!”

      • DAK27

        The motto of the GOP, right before their other one:
        Why tell the truth when you can lie and since lies need no research, no memory of what was said yesterday or by whom, a lie is so much easier to tell.

        Guess today’s Republican is above all else, lazy.

  • BOC

    Who taught this guy how to lie? Oh! Eric Cantor.

  • ExRadioGuy15

    rustacus21 is merely saying the same things I have, just using different words, about the GOP….they are:
    GOP Cons are Fascist psychopaths;
    GOP Tea Partiers are Fascist sociopaths;
    GOP Libertarians are Fascism-suborning sociopaths.
    Until the voting majority of the GOP, the Progressives and Moderates, realize those sad truths and act accordingly, aka, vote for Democrats (because they’re truly represented by the Demos now), more of that psychopathy and sociopathy from the GOP minority will continue to rule American politics, and not just in DC, either…..

    • charleo1

      The Country just moved closer to what you’ve been saying, my friend, for a long time now. Yesterday. 7/30/2014. With the vote to
      file a lawsuit against the sitting two term President of the United States! Forced on the Nation by a cabal of only 60/70 extremists
      that are driving the House of Representatives. With a total of 435.
      Or, put another way, are leading the House, with a deficit of more than 7-1. That’s not democracy my friend. And that’s exactly what you’re talking about.

  • Genevievev

    Vote in Nov. Help others get to the polls.

    • charleo1

      Best answer!!!!

  • dana becker

    “….should be what he called “the president’s failed agenda — people paying higher costs for food, for health care, for gas at the pump.” OK, let’s take a look at those issues.”

    “Scalise twice repeated the claim that “more than a dozen times the Supreme Court unanimously — I’m not talking about a 5-4 decision — 9-0, unanimously said the president overreached.”

    “In other words, the core piece of evidence behind the GOP’s narrative of executive overreach by Obama — evidence cited by Ted Cruz, by National Review, by the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and now by Scalise — is fraudulent. But those spreading it do not care.”

    It would be nice if this party had anything constructive to offer besides lying talking points and fabricated scandals.