Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Friday, May 22, 2015

This REALLY Matters

All of the GOP Governors kurrently krowding into the Klown Kar to run for President have huge budget shortfalls.

This should come as a surprise to no one who has a rudimentary understanding of addition and subtraction.  If you slash taxes as much as they have been doing, you are going to have to make that up somehow.  You will either have to essential end the existence of some public goods, raise more revenues or run a deficit.  Since it is illegal in some states to run a deficit and Republicans cannot under any circumstances raise taxes because it would make the Baby Reagan Jesus cry, the result are draconian cuts to programs.

This should be the most important story of the 2016 primary and general election season.  This is a real-world application of the policies that a Republican President - working with a Republican Congress - would put into place.  Marco Rubio wants to cut taxes in a way that is frankly insane and innumerate.

How the winner of the Presidential election would actually govern is what an election "season" should be about.  Here we have really important data points - and you can throw in places like Kansas, too - to demonstrate what GOP fiscal policy looks like.  In some ways, having a Clinton lead the Democratic ticket is a great opportunity in this regards, because after Clinton raised taxes, the economy took off.  Obama has raised taxes and the economy is growing again.

But in the states where they have pursued the logic of Grover Norquist's pledge, they are staring at fiscal disasters.

It's not that hard, but I have zero faith that our news media will make this clear.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Two Reasons For This

There are two reasons why legislators think that their constituents are more conservative than they actually are.

The article correctly identifies the proximity of wealthy donors to legislators.  If you are running for office, you need money and the money at the state level is most likely to come from the sort of entrepreneurial characters that make up the Main Street Republicans.

But I think the other reason has to do with the vocal nature of conservatives.  They write their local newspapers.  They call into talk shows.  They astro-turf their representatives offices.  Check out the comment thread of a local newspaper or even Yahoo!

I have no idea why conservatives tend to be disproportionately vocal, but it's likely tied to their increased presence in the midterm elections.  Whether it is because they feel under siege or feel their positions more strongly than others, they are certainly more visible.


To My New Readers...

Welcome.

Now go away...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Boobio

Jon Chait has noted that Marco Rubio has decided to run a Neo-Con campaign of fear mongering.

He notes within that Rubio is good at finding the popular positions within the GOP and quickly jettisoning his own beliefs to adopt to the preferred positions of his base.  And I guess running on a combination of Ted Cruz's "The world is on fire" and Huckleberry Closetcase's "I will kill you with a drone for thought crimes" isn't a TERRIBLE idea.  Rubio is one of the least obviously insane GOP candidates, so if he can take a safely insane idea (unlike his idea to eliminate all taxes on wealth) like killing scary people, he could seize the nomination.

At this point, finding a credible presidential candidate in the Klown Kar is pretty hard.  Nobody seems to like Jeb "JEB!" Bush, NOBODY likes the Outlaw Jersey Whale.  Nobody like Ted Cruz...

At this point, Scott Walker's strategy is simply to not shoot himself in the face.

But running on fear seems inevitable these days.  Hillary will run on the fear of the repeal of Obamacare.  I do hope she finds a positive theme, however, because fear works better on the Right than on the Left.

And fear makes you stupid, but I repeat myself.

Crazy Days

This time of year, there is no rhythm to the days.  My classes meet infrequently and there are a hundred little fires to put out.  There are simultaneously too many things to do and too much time to force me to do any of them.

Spending two days doing professional development and curriculum work doesn't help.

But I guess it's better than writing about how Christie is doomed and Bush is right behind him.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Contrast

Much has been said and written about the different reactions to the motorcycle gang shootings in Waco and the treatment of civil protesters in Ferguson and Baltimore.  Much sarcasm has been employed and too good effect.

But ultimately, it just makes me sad.  Because despite this critically different response from police to a known threat and a largely peaceful protest, it won't make a damned bit of difference on those whom they don't want it to make a damned bit of difference.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Hive Mind

Bruce Bartlett is an apostate.  He worked for Dubya but is now much more independent minded in his politics.

He has written a fairly authoritative history of how Fox News has not only taken over conservative news, but how it essentially took over the Republican party.

He notes extensively and with great care how malinformed Fox viewers are about the news.  He then notes how that has an effect on both candidates and electorate.  Simply put, Fox news creates conservatives who are trying to fight imaginary problems.  The Benghazi nonsense or the birth certificate nontroversy are good examples of this.

He begins - interestingly -  by describing the liberal tilt of journalism prior to Fox and talk radio.  Part of the liberal tilt of both journalism and historians is that we reward change with our attention.  And liberal embrace change.

But as Fox falls down it's own rabbit hole of bullshit, it diverges further and further from facts.  And facts - as Stephen Colbert reminded us - have a well-known liberal bias.

Fox viewers are older.  Their average age is 68.  That's Nixon's Silent Majority generation.  And they are leaving this earth.  Just recently, our town budget passed on its first try, which is unusual.  Too often the elderly residents vote down the school budget.

As the Fox demographic dies out and is replaced with more and more Millenials in the electorate, how will Fox react?  Given that they are high on their own supply of lies, I can't imagine it will be pretty.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Reunions

Had a nice 30th high school reunion.  Interesting how people you perhaps didn't know 30 years ago can suddenly become boon companions based on a few years together 3 decades ago.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Republicans vs. History

Jon Chait makes an interesting point about the Cult of Reagan and how that Cult demonstrates a distortion in Republican thinking.

It has been well-established that Republican veneration of Reagan bares little resemblance to the actual president.  Reagan raised taxes.  Reagan negotiated with the Soviets and gave arms to Iran.  Reagan saved Social Security by compromising with Democrats.  Reagan offered amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Chait notes that George W. Bush provides a strange litmus test for Republicans, because Bush ultimately was the president that Republicans thought Reagan actually was.

And it was a disaster.

Jeb "JEB!" Bush is merely the most awkwardly placed Republican to wrestle with this question.  He has family ties to his father - who was falsely considered a squish - and his brother - who palpably demonstrated the folly of Republican mythology translated into policy.  Jeb winds up with very little room to maneuver, and so he is stuck trying to thread a very small needle.

The broader question of how could he be so unprepared for that question is a good one.  But I think the more profound implication of Jeb's stumbles on the Iraq question is that he represents a cognitive dissonance surrounding his family name.  As several people have noted, few conservative voices have rushed to Jeb's defense over his fumbling answer on whether he would have invaded Iraq.  Usually, Fox News can be counted on to rally around the front-runner, which suggests maybe Bush isn't the front-runner.

The implication has always been that Jeb was saddled by being associated with his father in the minds of Republican primary voters - as a RINO, as a squish - whereas he will be associated with his brother by independent voters - as a war mongering incompetent bent on destroying the global economy.

The reality might be that Jeb reinforces Digby's famous assertion that "conservatism never fails, it can only BE failed."  And Dubya was the Man Who Failed Conservatism.  He brought the perfect crystalline ideals of Pure Conservatism into disrepute by flubbing Iraq and Katrina.  And he expanded Medicare and wanted to start a guest worker program, so maybe he's a squishy RINO like his dad.

So for conservative primary voters, Jeb represents a combination of his father's sins and his brother's incompetency.  And rather than wrestle whether their IDEAS are bad, they will simply reject that man who bears the sins of his family.

Conservatism - unlike liberalism - is intensely wedded to personages.  Reagan was popular, so he is Ronaldus Magnus.  Bush 41 was not popular, so he was a RINO.  Bush 43 wasn't, so he betrayed conservatism.  When Scott Walker goes down, they will find a way to blame it on his lack of charisma or some other exigent factor.

Their ideas are terrible.  They don't know how to or want to govern.

And they will continue to misread their own history.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bacevich!

I heard Andrew Bacevich speak at an AP reading once.  I think the loss of his son in Iraq fundamentally opened his eyes to the way America operates in the world and the Middle East in particular and how that form of operation is unsustainable.

His argument here is one I've been circling around, too.  Obama is trying to "re-set" US-Iranian relations.  And that could be a remarkable moment in the contemporary Middle East.  Since 1990, the United States has suffered much more irreparable harm from Sunni extremists than it ever did from Iranian-backed Shi'ite extremists, the Beirut Marine Barracks bombing notwithstanding.

I remain unreasonably optimistic that Iran can become a regional partner with the United States, as long as we can move beyond the Hostage Crisis of 35 years ago.  The Iranian populace no longer hates us as they once did - in fact, they are remarkably pro-American for the Middle East today.  In Egypt, Turkey and Jordan, favorable opinions of the US range from 10-20%.  Meanwhile, in Iran, favorable feelings towards the US run at around 30%.  And that's with us slapping sanctions on them and treating them as pariahs.

Ayatollah Khameini is not going to live forever.  While it's unlikely that Iran has a "Pope Francis" moment, it's not impossible - especially if the US-Iranian deal holds.

The fact that this discomfits American allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia is actually a good thing.

It's time for the US to stop writing blank checks and start writing a new history.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

TPP Fast Track Goes Down

Probably a good thing.  Fast track means that the deal can only be voted up or down, which I guess could have happened even if Fast Track was approved yesterday.

I can't understand why ostensibly Democratic politicians continue to see merits in free trade.  It's not good for American workers.  If you wanted to condition TPP on raising the minimum wage and expanding Medicaid, then I can see why you would do this.

But overall, the TPP debacle was a return to the days when Obama wanted to negotiate with himself and always wound up losing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Stupid Yale

Stupid rich people.

http://www.vox.com/2015/5/12/8590639/stephen-schwarzman-yale-donation

TPP

I have to say, I'm falling on to the Elizabeth Warren side of this debate.

Free trade agreements have been pretty much disastrous for American manufacturing workers.  They have been great for consumers, and obviously those two overlap.  But there have been environmental issues with free trade, labor practices, copyright issues...At this point I think the track record of unfettered free trade is pretty bad.  The EU could be about to crack up, so I'm not sure that now is the time to head in the opposite direction.

What I can't discern is why Obama thinks this is a good idea.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Always amusing to walk into the CVS and see all the men picking over the last remaining cards.