Archive for Parties
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.
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.
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:
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.
As a kid, I watched Superman on TV in black and white fighting his never-ending battle for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” All three have since fallen out of fashion. Carly the Fabulist’s tales of Planned Parenthood reminded us just how far we have fallen. Her “willingness to unrepentantly and repeatedly” look into the camera and lie to our faces recalls Dick Cheney’s talent for that, Digby reminded this week at Salon.
Digby references a post (in part about Mitt Romney) by Rick Perlstein that I want to revisit. While his books might bear pictures of presidents to please the marketers, Perlstein writes, he is much more interested in how “both the rank-and-file voters and the governing elites of a major American political party chose as their standardbearer a pathological liar. What does that reveal about them?”
Indeed. Direct-mail maven Richard Viguerie is one of his Perlstein’s touchstones for seeing into the conservative mind. Perlstein’s insights also come in part from examining the snake-oil ads in conservative publications such as Human Events and Townhall, as well as the more plebian Newsmax. My viewport is the conservative pass-it-on spams that land in my in-box. I collect them. I lost count somewhere around 200.
Perlstein contrasts the ubiquitous “get rich quick” appeals in these publications to one he noticed in the liberal The American Prospect for donations to help starving children in the Third World. I contrast them with the lack of appeals found in pass-it-on spam. They are lies, smears, distortions, propaganda — passed along dutifully by the parents who warned us about communist propaganda as kids:
(background on the video posted earlier)
When you start hearing “efficiency” used around the office, watch your back and update your resume. It’s like “shareholder value” that way. When Republicans in government start using “efficiency,” same difference.
On Election Day 2014 while Democrats across the country were getting clobbered, there were a couple of bright spots in North Carolina (believe it or not). Democrats picked up a net 3 seats in the state legislature, including sending home an ALEC board member. But in a sweep election where Republicans should have won it all, Democrats won 3 of 3 contested state Supreme Court seats and 2 of 3 contested Appeals Court races. Republicans couldn’t have that. The GOP-controlled legislature responded in 2015 by changing the way judges are elected.
It was just one of many tweaks they have made to change how elections run. Some of them are not so obvious. At the Daily Kos Connects Asheville Conference last weekend, DocDawg, aka Bill Busa, presented findings on how Boards of Elections across the state began “to reshuffle the polling places in the name of ‘efficiency’ and ‘cost-savings’.” Busa’s presentation last Saturday revealed how elimination of early voting places disproportionately increased the distance black voters have to travel to the polls.
Your next Speaker of the House, ladies and gentlemen.
Either McCarthy writes this stuff himself, or he hired someone this illiterate to write it for him and he doesn’t know the difference.
North Carolina legislators were cooking up some particularly noxious potions yesterday here in one of Charlie Pierce’s Laboratories of Democracy. Pay attention. North Carolina has become wingnut DARPA for this stuff.
The NC state legislature adjourned for the year about the time I got up to write this. Twitter and email lit up last night after all the turds they’d kept plugged up in the legislative pipeline until the very last all spewed out into public view at once. Much like the infamous “motorcycle vagina” bill of 2013, some of the worst appeared as surprise revisions to other bills.
Ironically, a colleague yesterday noticed that sometime after September 2012 our local GOP website had quietly removed its “Principles” page from its website. They included “I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.” Well, yesterday the “closest to the people” people in the state capitol attempted to prevent local governments in North Carolina from doing anything remotely progressive:
Outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner called some congressional colleagues “false prophets” for raising unrealistic expectations about what could be accomplished during recent sessions:
“Absolutely, they’re unrealistic!” he exclaimed. “You know the Bible says beware of false prophets. And there are people out there, y’know, spreading noise about how much can get done. I mean this whole idea about shutting down government to get rid of Obamacare in 2013 — I mean, this plan never had a chance.”
Asked if Cruz was one of the “false prophets,” Boehner smirked and became coy, saying, “I’ll refer you to a remark I made at a fundraiser in August, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado,” where the GOP leader called the Texas senator a “jackass.”
Boehner was vague about just what he means to do with the weeks he has left:
The outgoing speaker pledged to try to “get as much finished as possible” before he steps down. “I don’t want to leave my successor a dirty barn,” Boehner said. “So I want to clean the barn up a little bit before the next person gets here.”
Having taken a swipe at one Senate jackass, one wonders what “clean the barn” might mean for false prophets in the House.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)