Archive for Republicans


You sues, you lose

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Republicans lost a major foreign policy fight yesterday when Democrats in the Senate filibustered a resolution to disapprove President Obama’s nuclear treaty with Iran. Over in the Animal House, Speaker John Boehner stood up and declared that the situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part: Frivolous lawsuit!

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised Thursday that House Republicans will “use every tool at our disposal to stop, slow and delay this agreement from being fully implemented” up to and including suing President Obama to keep him from enforcing the agreement.

Maybe someone else is keeping better count, but that would make at least three times Boehner has gone to the judicial bench after being humiliated in the Congress. The Washington Post report continues:

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Don’t victimize me, bro

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from Pinterest

Plenty of victimhood going around on this Labor Day.

“Being a conservative is all about grievances,” LOLGOP writes at Electablog. That is why Donald Trump’s complaints about Hugh Hewitt’s gotcha questions, rather than hurting him, play right into the sentiments of his base:

To be a conservative enduring the regime of Barack Obama and facing the end of the end of white Americans making up the majority of population is to be a person who is justifiably pissed at everything.

Jonah Goldberg is pissed at the Trump “cargo cult” masquerading as conservatism. He’s got a list of grievances about how Trump represents “the corrupting of conservatives.” The movement isn’t about politicians or even about self-interest. It is about “shaping a conservative electorate that lines up the incentives so that politicians define their self-interest in a conservative way.”

Except the conservative movement has suckered shaped the electorate for decades by feeding its base a steady diet of bluster and bullshit (as Paul Krugman again points out this morning). It’s what the base has been taught to like. It’s what they’ve been taught to want. Trump is just better at delivering it than mainstream conservatives (if that term has any meaning left).

By riding instead of manipulating public opinion like a proper conservative, Trump makes a mockery of conservatism. Goldberg complains: Trump the populist is running on popularity rather than principle; the megalomaniac has no character; he doesn’t care enough about the country to even do his homework, as if homework is for losers.

In this, Trump’s cargo cult seems to have embraced the supposed attitude towards education among “inner city” youth that conservatives have condemned for years. In this, conservatives are on track to elect a president in the mold of the famous pool hustler, Minnesota Fats. “Practice is for suckers.” “Modesty is for suckers.” “Keeping score is for suckers.” Feeling pressure? “Pressure’s for suckers.”

Movement conservatives have long capitalized on low-information voters to get what they want. Matt Taibbi looks at how that is coming back to bite them:

Republicans won middle American votes for years by taking advantage of the fact that their voters didn’t know the difference between an elitist and the actual elite, between a snob and an oligarch. They made sure their voters’ idea of an elitist was Sean Penn hanging out with Hugo Chavez, instead of a Wall Street bank financing the construction of Chinese factories.

Trump similarly is scoring points with voters who don’t know the difference between feeling sorry for themselves and actually being victims. We live in a society that is changing for a lot of reasons, and some of those changes feel annoying to certain kinds of people, particularly older white folks who don’t like language-policing and other aspects of political correctness.

The 2016 election may be, at least for conservatives, Taibbi writes, a “referendum on white victimhood.” Well, there are plenty of victims to go around.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Poseur for president

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During one sequence in Buster Keaton’s comedy The General, the hapless train engineer Johnnie Gray (Keaton) finds himself caught in a battle between Union forces and Confederate Army friendlies. Finding a sword, Johnnie discovers that when he brandishes it (the way officers do) Confederate soldiers mistake him for someone actually in charge.

That also works for Donald Trump: posture as if you are a leader and people will think you are. He’s just better at it than his fellow poseurs.

Washington Monthly‘s Nancy LeTourneau believes Trump is what you get when you follow Republican rhetoric “to its logical (?) conclusion“:

What is it that Trump is suggesting he would do on the issues the Republicans are so concerned about. When it comes to Obamacare, he’d “repeal it and replace it with something terrific.” Sounds good, huh?

And when it comes to the 11 million undocumented workers in this country, just round ‘em up and get rid of them. If you think that Mexican immigrants are nothing more than rapists and murderers, that sounds good too, doesn’t it? But don’t bother fretting your pretty little head about how to go about doing that. Donald will “manage” it.

As I said, this is the “logical” conclusion of the path Republicans have taken. Climate change…deny it. Iran nuclear deal…oppose it. Terrorism…talk tough, but don’t get into specifics. Their own party leaders are admitting that their agenda is being set by a conservative media that “doesn’t give a damn about governing.

Governing requires compromise, and compromise is for wusses like Alexander Hamilton, the subject of a new musical:

Ron Chernow, whose biography of Hamilton inspired the musical, said that compromise was the timeliest theme in the musical. “What Lin is showing is that it’s very easy when you’re in the political opposition to take extreme ideological positions, but when you’re dealing with real power, you have to engage in messy realities and compromises to move forward,” Mr. Chernow said.

Trump supporters such as last week’s New Hampshire focus group don’t want leaders who school them in messy realities. They want to feel “strength and power.” They want a wise-cracking, Daddy Warbucks action figure, someone to step in, talk tough, and solve problems with a punch or a roundhouse kick. They don’t just want to vote for Trump; they want to be him.

LeTourneau writes, “They have an idealized view of America where white men are in charge, authority is unquestioned, and the world bows to our dominance. The fact that things are more complicated than that pisses them off.” Trump is the big, swinging d*ck who can fix anything with a wave of his, uh, hand.

Daddy Donald is just the ticket, a more manly version of these kiddie-show problem solvers: [above]

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Next come the phony quotes

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Donald Trump continues to wow the GOP’s nativist base. Jeff Tiedrich explained why yesterday in a Tweet:

Michael Savage interviewed Donald Trump on his radio show yesterday, declaring, “I’m for Trump. Point-blank. Best choice we have.” The two discussed voter identification laws, immigration and the Iran nuclear agreement.

Savage called Trump the “Winston Churchill of our time.”

Next come the phony Trump quotes, I guess: “You can always count on Americans to pick the right president – after they’ve tried everybody else.”

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Clown car or musical chairs?

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This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license”.
Attribution: Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons

There are only 10 chairs onstage for the first GOP presidential debate on August 6 in Cleveland. The clowns are circling, circling, circling, tripping over their big shoes and eyeing each other, listening for Katie Perry to stop singing “Roar.” Several are going to be left without a chair.

Politico calls the GOP race for 10th place a “Darwinian struggle for survival.” Couldn’t happen to a better bunch of social Darwinists:

Debate host Fox News has decided that only the top 10 contenders, determined by an average of national polls out by Aug. 4, will merit a spot onstage — setting off a Darwinian struggle that has some candidates taking desperate measures to try to move their numbers, and others spinning away their near-certain failure to qualify. Several campaigns also are already spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV ads to boost their profiles, even though the Iowa caucuses are six months away.

So who will be left when the music stops?

According to POLITICO’s latest average of national polls, eight candidates are looking like a lock for the debate: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson. Perry and Chris Christie are in for now, but only barely. Those still with a chance to make the stage are John Kasich, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal. For the other candidates — Carly Fiorina, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham and Jim Gilmore — it will be very difficult to get to Cleveland.

It’s not looking good for Graham:

“I think it sucks,” the South Carolina senator said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Gentlemen, start your blenders.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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The last competent man in America

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Something noticed in watching Donald Trump’s interview with NBC News correspondent Katy Tur the other night: he rarely closes his lips except to make certain consonant sounds.

Perhaps it’s just to signal everyone that he’s not done talking, as if he ever is. According to Donald Trump, he gets the biggest crowds, he gets the most standing ovations, he gets great reviews, he’s made a lot of money, and he has great relations with other countries. Furthermore, we have leaders that don’t know what they’re doing, we have stupid negotiators, he knows how to negotiate, etc. He’s the last competent man in America.

“Trump makes demagoguery his campaign strategy” reads a later headline at All In with Chris Hayes. He’s an oratorical train wreck from which the public and the press cannot look away.

Two polls this week put Trump at the head of the Republican pack, and with a four-point lead over Jeb Bush in North Carolina.

GOP primary voters will love this guy. He can out-bluster Fox talking heads. When Tur cited Pew research data on illegal immigrants, that they commit less crime than others, Trump trumps with “You’re a very naive person” and “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” The Donald is right. The data is wrong. Full speed ahead.

Which was Dana Milbank’s point the other day. “Trump is the Republican Party,” he wrote:

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Ich bin ein Tar Heel

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Atlantic‘s Emma Green cites attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson on the effect Citizens United has had on local races across the country. The two debated the effects at the Aspen Ideas Festival this week. But let’s begin, as she does, quoting Norm Ornstein:

Loads of money—mostly conservative—went into judicial-retention elections in the last cycle in Florida, following a similar experience in 2010 in Iowa and Illinois. We saw similar efforts on a smaller scale in other states, including Wisconsin and Michigan. All had a ton of attack ads. Those efforts have exploded in the 2014 elections. In North Carolina, where repeal of the state’s Judicial Campaign Reform Act by the right-wing legislature opened the door to a further explosion of campaign spending, and where the GOP sees retaining a majority on the court (ostensibly, but risibly, nonpartisan) as a key to their continued hegemony in politics, the Republican State Leadership Committee spent $900,000 on an unsuccessful primary campaign to unseat Justice Robin Hudson, and will target Court of Appeals Judge Sam Ervin IV in his second attempt to move to the Supreme Court (the first one, in 2012, cost $4.5 million or more).

Ervin won that Supreme Court seat (defeating incumbent Robert N. Hunter, Jr.) as did incumbent Democrats Hudson and Cheri Beasley in these officially nonpartisan elections.

In Aspen, Ted Olson, who represented Citizens United lobbying firm, began:

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Another day, another boondoggle

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Stick a fork in it. Another of those public-private partnership deals is done. Investors are ready to bail:

Barely 10 years after paying the city $1.83 billion for the right to run the Chicago Skyway for 99 years, a Spanish-Australian group of investors has put the historic tollroad concession deal up for sale.

The Skyway concession company’s executives have informed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration they’re trying to sell their interest in running and collecting tolls from the 7.8-mile-long road on Chicago’s South Side, city officials said Monday.

And right on schedule, too. I described how these go down in December:

US and state taxpayers are left paying off billions in debt to bondholders who have received amazing returns on their money, as much as 13 per cent, as virtually all – if not all – of these private P3 toll operators go bankrupt within 15 years of what is usually a five-plus decade contract.

A “staggering” number go bankrupt, Salzman continues.

Of course, no executive comes forward and says, “We’re planning to go bankrupt,” but an analysis of the data is shocking. There do not appear to be any American private toll firms still in operation under the same management 15 years after construction closed. The original toll firms seem consistently to have gone bankrupt or “zeroed their assets” and walked away, leaving taxpayers a highway now needing repair and having to pay off the bonds and absorb the loans and the depreciation.

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Great balls of jello

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Frank Rich takes aim at the gutlessness of the GOP’s 2016 presidential hopefuls:

Say this about the Old Confederacy: At least its leaders had the courage of their own bad convictions. Today’s neo-Confederate GOP politicians, vying for primary votes in Dixie 150 years after Appomattox, proved themselves to be laughable cowards. Confronted with the simplest of questions – should a state capitol display a flag that stands for slavery, racism, and treason? – they hedged (all of them), spouted gibberish (Ted Cruz), or went into hiding (Rand Paul). If they’d been the Rebel generals in the Civil War, it would have been over in a week.

This was, Rich writes, “the second time in three months we’ve seen GOP presidential contenders unwilling to stand up to the unreconstructed bigots still infesting their party’s base.” In April, they had caved or hedged over “religious freedom” bills passed to sanction discrimination against gay families. They then retreated faster than Lee at Gettysburg after civil rights groups and the NCAA condemned Indiana’s version, and influential CEOs objected to the states dissing their customers.

Seems like only yesterday that Gov. Bobby Jindal and his legislative tigers were lying down like the Siegfried and Roy cats before the once enfant terrible, Grover Norquist. They wrote asking his and Americans for Tax Reform’s permission to sorta kinda raise state taxes after Republican economic dogma had driven Louisiana’s balance sheet (like Kansas’ before it) deep into the red.*

But boy howdy, whichever of these bowls of jello survives being a debate contestant on the RNC’s “Who Wants To Be The Next War President,” you can be sure we will be treated to months of tough-sounding ads telling us that only he (it will be a he) has the balls to protect Uh-murca from the jihadis’ long, curved knives.

* Meanwhile in Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton’s Democratic leadership led the state to the top of CNBC’s list of best states for business in 2015.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Bobby Jindal in the land of dinosaurs

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Even as Jeb! Bush and Hillary Clinton prepare for their close-ups, out in bayou country a GOP presidential wannabe is trying to keep from being the next Sam Brownback.

Republicans’ approach to taxes is not unlike Biblical literalists’ approach to confronting evolution. Christian fundamentalists will construct an elaborate house of cards on the shakiest of foundations and spend enormous time and effort trying to keep a puff of breeze from knocking it over before they will question their crappy theology. (Visit the Creation Museum on Bullittsburg Church Rd.
in Petersburg, Kentucky, and don’t forget to stop by the gift shop.)

Republicans — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, for example — will concoct an elaborate edifice of nonsense to create the illusion that they are not raising taxes, you know, to pay for services their constituent public actually wants. Like funding universities and hospitals. Facing a potential $1.6 billion budget shortfall (that’s another story), Jindal has gone to Creation Museum lengths to keep from offending Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Fairness.

Here’s how the local paper explained it last week:

State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, and 10 other Louisiana House members sent Norquist a letter (PDF) Sunday night, asking Norquist to rethink his approach to Louisiana’s budget and the “no tax” pledge….

The governor has threatened to veto any budget plan or tax bills that don’t meet Norquist’s “no tax” requirements. Currently, the governor is pushing the Legislature to adopt a controversial higher education tax credit — commonly called SAVE — that Jindal says will make the budget comply with Norquist’s wishes.

These are leaders, mind you, elected by the people of Louisiana, sending a mother-may-I letter to a gadfly in Washington, DC for permission to do their jobs. And their governor wants to be president of the United States and stand up to terr’ists.

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