Archive for Presidential Race


Charlatans and cranks

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Paul Krugman this morning smacks down three of the right’s preeminent purveyors of supply-side voodoo. The column is sure to leave them fuming.

“Charlatans and cranks,” Krugman suggests, invoking a phrase used by former George W. Bush chief economic adviser, Greg Mankiw. The occasion was Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s appearance at a New York dinner featuring supply-siders Art Laffer (of the eponymous curve), CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, and Stephen Moore, chief economist of the Heritage Foundation. Making obeisance before the high priests of bunk – like questioning climate change, evolution, and the current president’s American bona fides – has become a “right” of passage for Republican presidential contenders.

Reality takes a holiday. Ideology takes precedence. Because, to riff on a song, it’s all about that base. But we’ll come back to Krugman later.

The New York Times also reports this morning on something I’ve mentioned before. The University of North Carolina’s Republican-appointed Board of Governors is closing several academic enters on its campuses dedicated to studying poverty, climate, and social change. It couldn’t also be about ideology, could it? The Times writes:

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Is it something in the water?

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Is there something in London’s water? From the Not Gonna Happen Here Dept.:

The Conservative party needs to break its dependence on millionaires, the former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke has told the Observer, amid a growing furore over the tax affairs of the party’s donors.

After a week of some of the most intense fighting between the parties in recent years, Clarke said the Conservatives would be strengthened by loosening the hold of rich men on their financial survival.

He called on David Cameron to cap political donations and increase state funding of political parties to put an end to damaging scandals and rows. The Conservatives have been rocked in the past week by a potentially toxic combination of allegations of tax evasion by clients of the HSBC bank, whose chairman, Lord Green, became a Tory minister; tax avoidance by party donors; and leaked details of the secretive black and white fundraising ball.

Meanwhile here in the Colonies, The Man Who Would Be Bush III is looking to lock in Mitt Romney’s network of presidential campaign donors from the “private equity and investment worlds.” It’s a trick Jeb Bush learned from his no-accountability brother, George. Suck all the air out of the GOP candidates’ Green Room room along with the money:

“It’s absolutely a kind of aggressive shock-and-awe strategy to vacuum up as much of the fund-raising network as you possibly can,” said Dirk Van Dongen, the president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and a prolific Romney fund-raiser now helping Bush. “And they’re having a large measure of success.”

On the other side of the pond, however, the conservative Ken Clarke has had the scales fall from his eyes:

“What happens is that the Conservatives attack the Labour party for being ever more dependent on rather unrepresentative leftwing trade union leaders, and the Labour party spends all its time attacking the Conservative party for being dependent on rather unrepresentative wealthy businessmen. In a way both criticisms are true. And the media sends both up.

“The solution is for the party leaders to get together to agree, put on their tin hats and move to a more sensible and ultimately more defensible system.”

As previously noted, Clarke wants to see a cap on political donations. And it’s not just Tories having attacks of common sense:

Announcing that a Labour government would launch an independent investigation into the culture and practices of HMRC [Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs service] with regard to tax avoidance, [Labour leader Ed] Miliband told a Welsh Labour conference in Swansea: “The government’s failure to tackle tax avoidance is no accident. It has turned a blind eye to tax avoidance because it thinks that so long as a few at the top do well, the country succeeds. It thinks that wealth and power fence people off from responsibility. It thinks the rules only apply to everybody else.”

Imagine that.

Could any of this be contagious? Maybe there’s a vaccine they’re not taking in London that Villagers can not take here.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Gonna soak up the sums

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If nothing else, Sarah Palin’s “bizarro” speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit this weekend warmed up the crowd for the real cowboys.

But even as Republican presidential wannabes tried to out-right each other in Iowa, the people who count most in this country — those with the most to count — held their annual donors’ summit at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Rancho Mirage, CA. John Nichols, writing for The Nation:

“Americans used to think Iowa and New Hampshire held the first caucus and primary in the nation every four years. Not anymore,” explains Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. “Now the ‘Koch brothers primary’ goes first to determine who wins the blessing and financial backing of the billionaire class. This is truly sad and shows us how far Citizens United has gone to undermine American democracy.”

Sanders was referencing the five-year-old US Supreme Court ruling that struck down barriers to corporate spending to buy elections—one of a series of decisions that have dramatically increased the influence of not just of corporations but of billionaires like the Koch brothers.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida chose not to attend the Iowa event, instead reserving their time for supplication at the Koch brothers’ event, along with another unofficial 2016 presidential contender, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker:

An hourlong panel discussion featuring U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida will take place at 8:30 p.m. Sunday. [PST, presumably]

ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl will moderate it, and the network will livestream part of it.

Perhaps Cruz will again repeat the Churchill’s bust nonsense as he did again in Iowa on Saturday. Debunked three years ago? No obstacle in this alternate universe.

Update: More detail on bustgate.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Stepping boldly into the past

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Mitt Romney is back. As a bored Sir John Gielgud once said on screen, “I’ll alert the media.” In his prospective 2016 presidential run, the private-equity multimillionaire wants to tackle poverty. The Daily Beast announced with a yawn, The Romney Third Act Nobody Wanted.

The Washington Post reports:

Mitt Romney is moving quickly to reassemble his national political network, calling former aides, donors and other supporters over the weekend and on Monday in a concerted push to signal his seriousness about possibly launching a 2016 presidential campaign.

Romney’s message, as he told one senior Republican, was that he “almost certainly will” make what would be his third bid for the White House. His aggressive outreach came as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — Romney’s 2012 vice presidential running mate and the newly installed chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee — announced Monday that he would not seek the presidency in 2016.

The WaPo’s Eugene Robinson, however, has high hopes for another Romney run for the White House:

Run, Mitt, run! You too, Jeb, and please bring along the whole roadshow of perennial Republican also-rans. Across the aisle: Go for it, Hillary! What all of you see so clearly is that the nation desperately wants to be led forward into the past, or back to the future, or something.


Why is this good news for scribes? Because the jokes are already written — the dog strapped to the roof of his car, the automotive elevator in one of his mansions, the compassionate vision of corporate personhood, the conviction that 47 percent of Americans are deadbeats. Just dust off this material, freshen it up a bit and you’re done before lunch.

Hell, I’m done before morning coffee.

(Cross-posted from Hullabloo.)

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Damn, she’s good

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Just last night we were breathing a sigh of relief to hear that Notorious R.B.G. had left the hospital after a stent procedure. I still remember watching Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Senate confirmation hearings and thinking, damn, she’s good.

But these are more troubled times. It is odd to think the fate of the nation may hang on the 81 year-old Ginsburg staying for now right where she is.

During this fall’s campaign, we had a time convincing people to get off their couches to vote because the Supreme Court was at stake in the Senate race. The workings of the unelected court are that much more removed from the way people think about issue- and personality-driven electoral politics. The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman might agree.

Ordinarily, the Supreme Court is brought up almost as an afterthought in presidential campaigns. The potential for a swing in the court is used to motivate activists to volunteer and work hard, and the candidates usually have to answer a debate question or two about it, which they do in utterly predictable ways (“I’m just going to look for the best person for the job”). We don’t usually spend a great deal of time talking about what a change in the court is likely to mean. But the next president is highly likely to have the chance to engineer a swing in the court. The consequences for Americans’ lives will probably be more consequential and far-reaching than any other issue the candidates will be arguing about.

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Fixing Elections

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It’s possible (though rare) for a candidate to become president of the United States without winning the popular vote. Americans complain that it is a bug in the Electoral College system.

Republicans wants to turn that bug into a feature.

At The Atlantic, David Graham suggests:

Let’s play a game. Let’s say, hypothetically, that your party has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Even worse, long-term demographic trends suggest that your chances are only going to get worse. What do you do?

One option might be to revamp your policy proposals, improve the technical operational side of your party, and think about ways to improve your candidate pool.

Or you could try to find ways to make sure fewer people’s votes matter.

Care to guess what Republicans chose? Here’s the plan.

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Creating Their Own Enemies

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Did they really think only old white men would hear the dogwhistles?
— David Atkins, Hullabaloo, offering a four-year litany of Republican insults to non-white, non-male Americans

In last week’s election, the 47% spoke.

Matt Taibbi listened to Rush Limbaugh the morning after so you didn’t have to. Limbaugh blathered on about how Republicans might win back the votes of women and minorities, and like most on the right, without “even a hint of self-examination, self-criticism.” Taibbi concludes, “[T]he Rushes of the world are too clueless to realize that it’s their attitude, not their policies, that is screwing them most with minority voters.” By that Taibbi means the relentless sarcasm and condescension towards women, minorities and the poor that Rush’s listeners tune in for each day. That attitude drives his ratings up with conservative white men and drives other voters away. Gosh, wonder why?

Rush: Let’s start our own abortion industry. Let’s go out and get the women’s vote. I just want you to think, would that work?

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What We Are Not Going to See

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Even as Fox News wrung its hands Tuesday over images of a New Black Panther opening doors for voters at a polling place in Philadelphia, calling his presence “intimidating,” the character at right stood guard in a Confederate Great Coat outside the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. – Southside Center in an African-American neighborhood in Asheville, NC. He stood there not opening doors — or doing much of anything — for much of the day.

Rachel Maddow has more of what we are not going to see going forward.

Enjoy your relevancy while it lasts, NCGOP.

Lesson One from Election Night — Dog whistles no longer get a pass. Insist they explain themselves.


The Day After

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What a night. Congratulations to all of the winners. I’m looking forward to working with you. It takes a lot to stand for election, so great respect to those who ran whether they won or not.

Congratulations to President Barack Obama on his re-election. He won Buncombe County by over 25,000 votes though we weren’t enough to hold North Carolina for him. That huge Buncombe County Democratic advantage didn’t show up in our local races due, in no small part, to recent redistricting that boxed Buncombe’s Democrats.

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Today’s the Day

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I’ll be outside a voting precinct today advocating for the candidates I support. Over 40% of Buncombe County’s eligible voters already cast a ballot during early voting. The weather today is cool to cold and a threat of rain all day. Americans for Prosperity (a.k.a. Koch Bros.) are paying people to work the polls, even here in Buncombe. Democrats, meanwhile, have volunteers out helping.

If you have any time today, help out at your polling place. An hour or two can make an enormous difference. Here’s a handy list of Democratic candidates if you need it. It tends to be the case that a lot of Election Day voters come in not necessarily knowing about downticket races like Register of Deeds, County Commission, or the referendum. That’s where your presence makes a big, big difference.

Whether or not you work a poll, here are some other things you can do today to help:

1) Email all of your contacts urging them to vote.
2) Text all of your contacts urging them to vote.
3) Call the slackers in your life and urge them to vote.
4) Offer rides to the polls to people who need them.
5) If you’re using social media like Facebook and Twitter, be sure to link people to the above list of candidates.

It’s gonna be a nail biter, folks. No matter what happens, we’ll get through it together.