Archive for Parties
This morning E.J. Dionne takes on income redistribution as a conservative wedge issue. In particular, Rep. Paul Ryan’s lame attempt to brand non-GOP-approved economic policies as morally suspect with his recent coinage of “envy economics.” To be sure, it’s less insulting than “makers vs. takers.” And it’s more suitable for Sunday morning chat fests than Conrad Hilton III’s “f_cking peasants,” if no more mature. But it’s the thought that counts.
You’ve gotta hand it to the GOP intelligentsia. They seem to have an endless supply-side of these arguments. Dog whistles for the clickbait generation.
Dionne asks, as long as we’re branding opponents’ policies, why not brand Ryan’s “greed economics“?
Ryan’s opening rhetorical bid is unfortunate because there are signs that at least some conservatives (including, sometimes, Ryan himself) seem open to policies that would redistribute income to Americans who have too little of it.
Yes, conservatives and just about everybody else — except, perhaps, for truly austere libertarians — are for redistribution. But almost everyone on the right and many of the more timid Democrats want to deny it. This form of intellectual dishonesty hampers a candid debate about solving the interlocking problems of stagnating wages, rising inequality and declining social mobility.
Ryan attempted over the weekend to paint the president’s economic proposals as unAmerican, unfit for an “aspirational” and “optimistic” people. Besides, they don’t work, according to Ryan. Dionne counters:
Well. Regiments of Republicans claimed that Obama’s policies, and especially Obamacare, would be “job killers.” In the face of 58 straight months of private-sector job growth, will they ever admit their claims were absolutely wrong? Will anyone even ask them? And like them or not, aren’t Obama’s proposals on higher education, child care and pre-kindergarten programs all about aspiration and optimism?
The irony—usually lost on champions of “trickle down” such as Ryan—is that where once he argued that Obama’s policies pitted class against class and would stifle “the job creators,” as Jonathan Weisman observed, now Ryan argues that those same policies have “exacerbated inequality” and made things worse, saying, “The wealthy are doing really well. They’re practicing trickle-down economics now.”
For your enjoyment, found on Pinterest:
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
If nothing else, Sarah Palin’s “bizarro” speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit this weekend warmed up the crowd for the real cowboys.
Sarah Palin is now the rodeo clown sent out to get the crowd riled and make the real cowboys look better in comparison.
— Bob Schooley (@Rschooley) January 24, 2015
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.
Update: More detail on bustgate.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
The State of the Union address last night did not disappoint as entertainment (although the president’s pitch for “middle-class economics” didn’t exactly sing to me). President Obama was surprisingly buoyant for a leader whose party got hammered in the fall elections and now occupies less of the House chambers than in a generation. (Transcript here.)
The zinger of the night came when Obama remarked, “I have no more campaigns to run,” and scattered Republicans applauded. The president grinned and shot back, “I know, because I won both of them.”
And maybe that’s Obama’s secret. Freedom’s just another thing…, you know. With his recent in-your-face executive actions, he looks like a leader and the country is responding. His approval ratings hit 50 percent for the first time since the spring of 2013.
Joan Walsh described the speech as “an epic combination of sweet-talking and trash-talking, cajoling and trolling.” Speaker John Boehner, looking darker than ever, sat through the speech, looking sickly. Walsh:
The T-party will again provide its own response to President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, Rachel Maddow reports. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa will give the official Republican response. She may be about the only member of the Senate to the right of Sen. Ted Cruz, Maddow observed. Just not right enough.
The T-party response will come from the same smirking freshman congressman, Rep. Curt Clawson of Florida, who, in a subcommittee hearing last July, mistook two senior American officials from the State Department and from Commerce for Indian nationals. Guess why:
“I’m familiar with your country; I love your country,” the freshman congressman said. “Anything I can do to make the relationship with India better, I’m willing and enthusiastic about doing so.”
“Just as your capital is welcome here to produce good-paying jobs in the U.S., I’d like our capital to be welcome there,” he added. “I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?”
“I think your question is to the Indian government,” Nisha Biswal said. “We certainly share your sentiment, and we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the U.S.” Working for the State Department, Biswal is a diplomat. Can you tell?
Clawson won his seat in a special election to replace Rep. Trey Radel, who resigned after a conviction for cocaine possession.
If we’re in luck, Clawson will display the same smug, false confidence again. As Maddow said, tonight’s SOTU should be fun.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
Funny, it’s usually bad news they hold until Friday. From the WaPo:
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without proving that a crime occurred.
Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs.
Since 2008, thousands of local and state police agencies have made more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion under a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing.
Digby’s right. This is a BFD:
This program was a huge incentive to what can only be called outright theft of private property by police authorities. It’s actually hard to believe they got away with it for so long. But interestingly, the alleged anti-federal right (along with the pro-police center) had no problem with it. They get very angry about any kind of taxes on rich people but had no problem with police targeting innocent people and just taking everything they own to fund their own activities. Odd that.
Amazing, the freedom politicians feel to take gutsy stands when they’ve got nothing left to lose. There’s a song about that right? I’m looking at you North Carolina Democrats.
Republicans are flinging aside their crutches and shouting hallelujah. President Obama’s executive powers have cured them of judicial activism sensitivity. In ingratitude, they’re filing legal briefs across the country, hoping to stop Obama from exercising executive power to direct federal agencies:
On health care, Republicans in Washington have sued the president and joined state lawsuits urging the Supreme Court to declare major parts of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. On climate change, state attorneys general and coal industry groups are urging federal courts to block the president’s plan to regulate power plants. And on immigration, conservative lawmakers and state officials have demanded that federal judges overturn Mr. Obama’s plan to prevent millions of deportations.
Now that a Democratic president is flexing the executive power the Bush-Cheney administration deployed so expansively, checks and balances are back in fashion with Republicans. And trial lawyers. Coming up: leisure suits.
“What they cannot win in the legislative body, they now seek and hope to achieve through judicial activism,” said Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia. “That is such delicious irony, it makes one’s head spin.”
No, no, no, no, says West Virginia’s attorney general, Patrick Morrisey:
Mr. Morrisey, a Republican, disputed the view of many liberals that conservatives are now looking for help from the activist judges they once derided. “Quite the opposite, it’s a call for adhering to the rule of law,” he said.
Call me when they sue the Department of Justice to prosecute Dick Cheney and the rest of the Bush cabal. Morrisey’s statement rings as hollow as the Tin Man’s chest.
Scarecrow: Beautiful! What an echo!
Tin Man: It’s empty. The tinsmith forgot to give me a heart.
Dorothy & Scarecrow: [in unison] No heart?
Tin Man: No heart.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
A week ago I wrote about a suspected lynching under investigation along the coast in North Carolina. Eerie stuff. Up here in the mountains, we’ve got this Scot-Irish thing happening that defines local attitudes (the kind of thing Sara Robinson has written about for years). But things are hardly static. Inmigration is changing the South. In the wake of Michael Tomasky’s recent “dump Dixie” column, Chris Kromm at the Institute for Southern Studies counters with why that’s a bad idea.
Southern clout is expected to grow with population, he writes. “Southern states are projected to gain another five Congressional seats and Electoral College votes in 2020. Ignoring the South just isn’t an option if Democrats want to be relevant in national politics.”
And the South is not Democrats’ biggest problem. Democrats’ Senate candidates may have lost by an average of 18 points in the South, but they lost by an average of 26 points in the Great Plains. “But for some reason,” Kromm writes, “we’re never treated to post-Election Day screeds from Northern pundits about the Great Plains being a cesspool of ‘prejudice’ and ‘resentment.'”
“The Republican message was ‘We’re not Obama,’ no substance whatsoever. What was the Democrats’ message? ‘Oh, we’re not either.’ You cannot win if you are afraid! Where was the Democratic party? You gotta stand for something if you’re gonna win!” – Howard Dean on Meet the Press, November 9, 2014
That message from Howard Dean has stuck with me ever since. After so many episodes of yelling at Democrats on TV to “Stand for something!” it was validating. At long last, are they taking Dean’s advice? This from the Guardian about the aftermath of recent budget fight:
“I’m walking out of this meeting feeling very proud of my caucus because there was moral clarity, there was conviction”, said freshman California congressman Jared Huffman at the height of the great Democratic revolt of 2014. “I had the feeling a few moments ago that we stood for something. I hope it holds.”
Less than 60 minutes later, after that hopeful party meeting wrapped up last Thursday evening, such optimism already seemed naive. Backroom pressure from the White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough, had quickly killed off an attempt by Democrats in the House of Representatives to draw a line in the sand against a federal budget that favoured Wall Street and wealthy donors.
So don’t hold your breath. Fifty-seven Democrats eventually joined Republicans in passing the spending bill.
Just a quick thought or two about tactics. I ran across yet another Koch-funded astroturf website this week aimed at Millennials. It was a spinoff of Generation Opportunity. Plus, there was an article featuring an eighteen year-old Republican legislator from West Virginia. It’s StateWrek: The Next Generation.
I have written extensively on the right’s push to promote photo identity cards by hyping the threat of fraud at the polls. The GOP “plowed cash into state legislative efforts in 2010” to wrest control of redistricting. We’ve seen the results of the Republican State Leadership Committee’s (RSLC) REDMAP efforts up close and personal here. The result is, as Charlie Pierce calls it, the newly insane state of North Carolina.
And if you really want to get into the weeds, there is the continuing saga of the RNC’s efforts to void the 1982 consent decree forbidding it from engaging in election protection efforts in the states without preclearance from a federal judge. They apparently want, you know, FREEDOM to use caging lists and to place off-duty cops wearing armbands reading “National Ballot Security Task Force” outside polling places in minority precincts.
With an aging base and facing unfavorable demographics, Republicans aren’t looking for a silver bullet to keep them politically viable. They know there isn’t one. They’re investing in a scattershot of initiatives that buy them a fraction of a point here, a couple of percentage points there, a slice of this demographic, a judgeship or two, etc. Pretty soon any demographic or coalition advantage Democrats think they have going forward is gone.
They’re not looking for a silver bullet. They’re using silver buckshot.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)