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The New York Times takes on the Republican Benghazi sideshow:
The hottest competition in Washington this week is among House Republicans vying for a seat on the Benghazi kangaroo court, also known as the Select House Committee to Inflate a Tragedy Into a Scandal. Half the House has asked to “serve” on the committee, which is understandable since it’s the perfect opportunity to avoid any real work while waving frantically to right-wing voters stomping their feet in the grandstand.

They won’t pass a serious jobs bill, or raise the minimum wage, or reform immigration, but House Republicans think they can earn their pay for the rest of the year by exposing nonexistent malfeasance on the part of the Obama administration. On Thursday, they voted to create a committee to spend “such sums as may be necessary” to conduct an investigation of the 2012 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The day before, they voted to hold in contempt Lois Lerner, the former Internal Revenue Service official whom they would love to blame for the administration’s crackdown on conservative groups, if only they could prove there was a crackdown, which they can’t, because there wasn’t.

James Fuller:
Today's Daily Digit is brought to you by the fine folks up on Capitol Hill, who have mentioned the word "Benghazi" 72 times during floor speeches in the past eight days, according to data compiled by the Sunlight Foundation.

Ninety-eight percent of the mentions since January have come from Republicans.

Meanwhile, the word formerly known as the hottest buzzword of 2014 has gone incognito. Earlier in the year, Republicans stubbornly insisted that if they said Obamacare three (million) times, their 50+ senate seats would appear. However, "Obamacare" has been mentioned a paltry 19 times in floor speeches in those eight days.

Republicans seem to have found a new word to hang their 2014 hopes on.

Much more below the fold.

Charlie Cook highlights Republican hypocrisy on the issue:

[O]n Oct. 23, 1983, when the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, were bombed during Ronald Reagan's administration. In the latest New Yorker, Jane Mayer writes about having been in Beirut as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal at the time of the horrible bombing, when 241 American military personnel, including 220 Marines, were killed in the largest single-day loss of Marines since Iwo Jima in World War II. Although Democrats controlled the House and Tip O'Neill was speaker, there was little partisan grandstanding over the tragedy, even though mistakes were made. As Mayer notes, a gate was left open, and the personnel on guard were under orders to keep their weapons unloaded. Congress conducted a matter-of-fact, brief investigation, recommendations were made, and everyone moved on. Scoring political points was not the name of the game, even though the loss of American lives was more than 50 times greater than in Benghazi. It was a different era.

One wonders how some of these conservatives would have reacted to such circumstances. Selective outrage is rampant in our political process today. The facts are too often swept to one side, or under the rug, for political purposes.

The renewed circus on Benghazi is directly related to the fact that the Affordable Health Care Act has been proven successful. And Dean Clancy analyzes why the Republicans are cracking up over Obamacare:
New polling by McLaughlin & Associates confirms that, if GOP candidates want to make health care resonate with voters, they need more than a slogan, they need a specific alternative. These new numbers show that, “By a three-to-one margin, 48 percent to 17 percent, voters were more likely to vote for Republicans who would repeal and replace Obamacare if they also proposed a new plan of their own to improve health care.” A hypothetical Republican candidate running on “repeal and replace” beats a Democratic candidate running on “retain but fix,” 47 percent to 43 percent, if he also offers a “replace” plan that voters find appealing and credible.

Individually, a few Republicans have tried to do this; collectively, the GOP has not. Do you know what the Republican health care plan is? Me neither.

Switching topics, Peter J. Hammer writes on the critical topic of the erosion of voting rights in America:
Many states are passing laws making it harder for their citizens to vote. At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court is dismantling existing federal civil rights protections with one hand, while opening the doors to torrents of distorting corporate dollars with the other. These events should make us all pause and remember our past, as we contemplate our future.
Finally, the latest column by Paul Krugman is, of course, a must-read:
[M]odern inequality isn’t about graduates. It’s about oligarchs. Apologists for soaring inequality almost always try to disguise the gigantic incomes of the truly rich by hiding them in a crowd of the merely affluent. Instead of talking about the 1 percent or the 0.1 percent, they talk about the rising incomes of college graduates, or maybe the top 5 percent. The goal of this misdirection is to soften the picture, to make it seem as if we’re talking about ordinary white-collar professionals who get ahead through education and hard work.

But many Americans are well-educated and work hard. For example, schoolteachers. Yet they don’t get the big bucks. Last year, those 25 hedge fund managers made more than twice as much as all the kindergarten teachers in America combined. And, no, it wasn’t always thus: The vast gulf that now exists between the upper-middle-class and the truly rich didn’t emerge until the Reagan years.

Second, ignore the rhetoric about “job creators” and all that. Conservatives want you to believe that the big rewards in modern America go to innovators and entrepreneurs, people who build businesses and push technology forward. But that’s not what those hedge fund managers do for a living; they’re in the business of financial speculation, which John Maynard Keynes characterized as “anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be.” Or since they make much of their income from fees, they’re actually in the business of convincing other people that they can anticipate average opinion about average opinion.

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