Archive for Republicans
You knew right away America was in trouble when the branding for CNBC’s GOP debate coverage last night read “YOUR MONEY * YOUR VOTE” — echoes of Jack Benny’s tightwad character getting mugged:
Thug: Don’t make a move. This is a stickup! Now come on. Your money or your life.
Thug: [repeating] Look, bud, I said ‘Your money or your life.’
Jack Benny: I’m thinking it over!
The rest of the night, too, was one, long punchline. The full transcript is here. Sean Illing has a candidate-by-candidate summary at Salon. But the moderators were “mostly awful” and it was “two and a half hours of political gas.”
CNBC’s moderators were so awful they might have asked candidates what costumes they were wearing for Halloween. (Maybe they just didn’t get around to it.) But it meant candidates garnered easy applause in attacking the “liberal” media whenever asked a question they didn’t like, or just to fill time. Think Progress observed that the network that launched the T-party was “too liberal to host the Republican debate on Wednesday.”
Bernie Sanders got his close-up last night with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. There was nothing new policy-wise.
However, Sanders and Maddow discussed at length his 1996 vote on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which then-President Clinton signed. Sanders challenged Hillary Clinton’s claim last week that President Clinton signed DOMA because he believed there was “enough political momentum” to amend the constitution [with regard to marriage], and that signing DOMA (as well as “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and the crime bill headed off worse outcomes. “You can’t say that DOMA was passed in order to prevent something worse,” Sanders said. In an indirect swipe at Hillary Clinton (who was not an elected official at the time), Sanders asserted that he made the tough choices when they were tough choices.
Watching last night’s Hillary Clinton interview with Rachel Maddow this morning. Particularly interested with her concern for regaining Democratic control in the states ahead of the 2020 census. Asked what she did after eleven straight hours of testimony before “Tea Party Trey” Gowdy’s Benghazi committee, she replied, “I had my whole team come over to my house, and we sat around eating Indian food and drinking wine and beer.” And talking about sports and TV. Unwinding. Behaving in private as if they were real people. Diabolical.
But of course, painting Clinton as unfeeling and Other was the point of the hearings, wasn’t it?
Matt Taibbi had some juicy comments on that at Rolling Stone. Never a fan of the kind of Clintonian “transactional politics” that triangulates on policy in service to “keeping Republicans out of office,” Taibbi nonetheless conceded that Trey Gowdy made a pretty good case for that strategy on Thursday. “It’s hard to imagine a political compromise that wouldn’t be justified if its true aim would be to keep people like those jackasses out of power.”
What used to be called movement conservatism took off [under] Ronald Reagan’s presidency. “Real Americans” decided that any Democrat in the White House is illegitimate – and any law, and any court ruling with which they disagree. Members insist on calling the Democratic Party the Democrat Party – emphasis on RAT. Looking to take down Bill Clinton, they paid investigators in Arkansas to dig dirt on him soon after he took office. They ginned up a score of faux scandals, allegations, and internet rumors, culminating with Clinton’s impeachment in 1998. Clinton presided over an economy about which Republicans should have crowed, but because it wasn’t one of their own in the White House, that too was illegitimate.
Top Republican leaders held a private dinner at the Caucus Room in Georgetown to discuss how to destroy Barack Obama’s presidency on the night of his inauguration in 2009. Next came Birtherism, racist images, slurs, the Tea Party, and new voting restrictions in nearly two dozen states. A half dozen GOP lawmakers and Sarah Palin suggested impeachment for Obama.
A year before the 2016 election, a Texas Republican congressman suggested that Hillary Clinton is “subject to impeachment” the day she takes office. This movement has no use for democracy if it cannot control the outcome.
Rep. Paul Ryan seems to have cleared the hurdles to replacing John Boehner as Speaker now that a “supermajority” of the House Freedom Caucus has agreed to support Ryan for the job, if not to endorse him outright. Ryan is not far right enough for enough of them to prevent that. So uncertainties remain reports the Washington Post:
Ryan could still decide not to serve as speaker, and some conservative activists have engaged in a vigorous campaign to cast doubt on his record, which might give some members cold feet before votes are cast next week.
This was not the job Ryan wanted, after all. Perhaps, as Shakespeare put it, Ryan will have greatness thrust upon him. Peter Dreier disabuses Salon readers of any notion that the selfie-admiring Ryan was either born great or achieved greatness:
Let’s start with Ryan’s outrageous hypocrisy. Ryan worships at the altar of novelist Ayn Rand, the philosopher of you’re-on-your-own selfishness, whose books have been required reading for his Congressional staffers. Like Rand, he consistently demonizes people who improve their lives with the help of government. Ryan seems to be unaware of how much his own family and his own financial success has been influenced by “big government.”
People ask me, Bernie or Hillary? I tell them I don’t care. My fight is not in Washington, D.C. It is here. I care that someone from the left side of the aisle wins the presidency in November 2016. I need those next 2-3 Supreme Court picks. I’m just not that particular which left-leaning president gets to pick them. And good luck getting them approved by a Republican-controlled Senate. (More on that later.)
The old saying goes: Democrats want to fall in love; Republicans just fall in line. You might have trouble convincing John Boehner of the latter, but the former still seems operative. Bernie-mania is this year’s Obama-mania. It is as if the left’s disappointments with the Obama administration never happened. They’ve found a brand new lover and it will be totally different this time. For a movement confident of its intellectual heft, we are really slow learners.
Matthew Yglesias points out the obvious:
The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands. And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Indeed, even the House infighting reflects, in some ways, the health of the GOP coalition. Republicans are confident they won’t lose power in the House and are hungry for a vigorous argument about how best to use the power they have.
I’m sorry, ‘He kept us safe’ is incorrect and was not in the form of a question. The correct response: Who is George W. Bush?
It is the Final Jeopardy clue that stumps Republicans every time. Even brother Jeb! has trouble with it.
Surprisingly, Donald Trump does not:
The controversy began Friday morning when Trump implied that the former president could share some blame for the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans, as he was in office at the time.
“When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time,” Trump said on Bloomberg TV.
Bloomberg anchor Stephanie Ruhle interjected, “Hold on, you can’t blame George Bush for that,” before Trump stood by his comments.
“He was president, OK? … Blame him, or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign,” Trump said.
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.
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.