Archive for National
In 2008, these would have been Obama voters (except Obama encouraged them). In 2016?
Politico put it succinctly:
House Republicans are in a historic state of chaos, torn between two ideological poles with no clear sense of who will serve as their next leader, and no idea of their governing agenda with several legislative battles in the coming weeks.
The House Freedom Caucus, a relatively new group of about 40 Republicans loosely associated with the Tea Party, has an extraordinary amount of power in this process. Any potential speaker needs the support of 218 Republicans on the floor of the House. There are currently 247 Republicans in the House. That’s a large majority but without the Freedom Caucus, no candidate can get to 218.
But the internecine Speaker battle is a Mad Magazine-ish case of “What They Say…and What They Really Mean”. According to Jud Legum, “The Freedom Caucus says they are just fighting for arcane rule changes that will enhance ‘democracy’ in the House.” But what do they really want?
Yesterday, Politico published the House Freedom Caucus “questionnaire” which it described as pushing for “House rule changes.” The document does do that. But it also does a lot more. It seeks substantive commitments from the next speaker that would effectively send the entire country into a tailspin.
We haven’t heard that much about “entitlements” in the press lately. There’s been too much extremist lunacy to cover on Capitol Hill, on the campaign trail, in state capitols, and in Idaho, of course.
Speaking of Idaho, Mother Jones celebrates victory in court in a defamation lawsuit brought against the pulication by [“He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”], a billionaire Republican political donor from Idaho:
Litigation like this, Bergman said, is “being used to tame the press, to cause publishers and broadcasters to decide whether to stand up or stand down, to self-censor.”
You really should read the whole thing. It is a Byzantine tale with a touch of Spanish Inquisition. Like some other billionaires we know, “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” apparently feels entitled to be free from examination by the press and goes to some extreme lengths to punish transgressors. At least those who might be easily subjugated by the prospect of a mountain of legal fees.
It reminds one of the tantrums thrown on Wall Street after the financial meltdown, of the “pathological” environment and “sense of impunity” the rich feel, and of thin-skinned, short-fingered vulgarians who never forget a slight even after a quarter of a century. Do the peasants still not realize they must kowtow before their long suffering betters?
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
In some documentary about the band Heart, a band member holds up two shoes in the dressing room before a show. One is the shoe he wore to the theater. The other is a knee-high, leather boot that screams rock and roll. “This is reality,” he says, holding up an ordinary desert boot. Holding up the knee-high, leather model, he says, “This is fantasy.”
Now, I answer voice mail about once a week at the local Democratic Party headquarters. Our county is one of the handful in the state that actually has one (and a land line). It’s amazing the expectations the uninitiated have when they call for the first time, the way independent-leaning noobs did because of Barack Obama in 2008, or Bernie Sanders now. They imagine they are calling the DNC headquarters or the White House, and that a full-time, paid staff is just waiting to pick up the phone 24/7/365. This is fantasy.
Unmute in lower right corner. Then stand back.
Which brings up massive tax cuts that pay for themselves. Sen. Marco Rubio expects Republican primary voters will fall for it again. Ezra Klein explains the Rubio tax plan succinctly at Vox:
The basic idea here is that massive tax cuts boost growth so much that they pay for themselves, and so there’s no actual trade-off between lower taxes and balanced budgets. In this telling, eating your cake leads your body to burn calories so fast that it’s like you end up thinner than you started!
Basically no serious economists believe this. Careful efforts to quantify whether tax cuts boost growth have led to estimates that they have a modest negative effect, a modest positive effect, or not much effect at all, depending on what assumptions you use. Mankiw, the former Bush adviser, described the idea that cuts boost growth so much that they pay for themselves as the province of “cranks and charlatans” in his economic textbook.
What is more amazing is that Cranks and Charlatans is not already the name of a popular Washington, D.C. watering hole. (Have at it.) Maybe near the offices of the Tax Foundation. Klein continues:
So now the Hillary Clinton campaign gets to shout Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. TBogg:
If the GOP planned on making Beghazi [sic] one of the centerpieces of their eventual nominee’s campaign, they might want to shred those attack ad storyboards and think again after Hillary Clinton struck first with a devastating ad featuring House Speaker front runner Kevin McCarthy shooting his mouth off.
In a brilliant preemptive strike, Clinton released the ad, called “Admit,” excerpting comments by McCarthy fessing up that the latest GOP-led Benghazi investigative committee was designed to harm her presidential chances.
But wait! There’s more. Politico:
Peter Daou, like the rest of us, is processing the latest mass shooting in this country. Growing up amidst a war in Lebanon, he brings to the subject a perspective few raised here can: a childhood collecting shrapnel and stray bullets in the street, and a sharp appreciation that none of them had claimed or maimed a family member. Yet also a hunter and a marksman:
My military service quickly taught me that there was an inextricable link between the weapon I carried on my shoulder and the suffering to which I bore daily witness. I was trained to use guns against others before I was old enough to be considered a man.
In Lebanese culture, “manhood” was an issue teenage boys were taught to think about. What did it mean to be a man, to be respected as a man? A gun was an instant pathway to respect – or as I more accurately understand now, fear masquerading as respect.
America’s obsessive relationship with firearms is familiar to me; I know the intoxicating sense of power that a gun bestows, particularly to a young man. But in the aftermath of the terrible violence I witnessed and with the passage of time, I know that guns are dangerous and illusory shortcuts to strength and maturity and no guarantee of personal safety.
Daou considers guns “the ultimate drug” for treating feelings of powerlessness. “Those of us who advocate for stronger gun control measures,” he writes, “must understand that we are dealing not just with an obsession, but an addiction. And addictions are notoriously hard to break.”
Discontent is simmering out there. Donald Trump is one proof. Bernie Sanders is another. The New York Times’ Patrick Healy looks at how discontent manifests itself among liberal-leaning voters:
Interviews with three dozen Democrats in key early states — a mix of undecided voters and Sanders and Clinton supporters — laid bare a sense of hopelessness that their leaders had answers to problems like income inequality and gun violence. It is frustration that Mr. Sanders, a senator from Vermont, and other progressive candidates are channeling and that Mrs. Clinton has addressed with increasing passion, as when she responded to Thursday’s massacre at an Oregon college by saying she was “just sick of this.”
Healy reports that similar insurgencies against party-blessed candidates have also popped up in Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Why? Because gun violence is not the only thing Democratic voters are sick of.
The disaffection among Democrats flows mainly from three sources, according to interviews with voters and strategists. Disappointment lingers with President Obama over the failure to break up big banks after the Great Recession and fight for single-payer health insurance, among other liberal causes. Fatigue with Mrs. Clinton’s controversies endures, as does distaste with her connections to the rich. And anger abounds at party leaders for not pursuing an ideologically pure, economically populist agenda.
So much I miss by going to bed early: