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

Monday, December 18, 2017

The "Moderates" Always Cave

TPM walks through the Kick America In the Nuts Act of 2017, and it clearly illustrates the great truth of American politics: the GOP moderates always cave.

Bob Corker, who showed real spine in voting against the bill when it didn't matter, will vote FOR the bill now that it does.  All the while, his concerns about the deficit that allegedly lead to his "no" vote the first time have evaporated, even though the deficit looks to be made even worse by this bill.  There is also a provision that will personally enrich him.  Corker is a prime example of a Republican who talks the talk, but simply can't walk the walk. 

Susan Collins and Jeff Flake are going to vote for it based on nebulous promises from the world's biggest cynic, Mitch McConnell, and then Collins whines when people note that she's getting played by saying she's tired of the cynical press.  We know, for historical fact, that in a similar situation 8 years ago, Republicans demanded that Scott Brown be seated before there was a vote on ACA.  Now, they are rushing this bill through before Doug Jones can be seated.  Gee, Susan, why are people cynical about McConnell?

Here's my question.  This odious piece of plutocratic fellation, will pass in the next few days.  At that point, Flake and Collins lose all leverage.  Maybe Collins could become an independent and caucus with the Democrats, but that's about as likely as flowers in Maine in January.  What happens to Flake and Collins when the GOP ignores their demands?

We've seen time and time again that Republicans are craven before the demands of power and wealth.  They know they are likely going to see major defeats next November, and they simply don't care. 

We are governed by the worst people.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

American Plutocracy

The Times notes that the Kick America In The Balls Act of 2017, which will be "rammed down our throats" in the next few days, isn't creating inequality, it is a product of it.  The only people who really want this bill are a slice of the 1% and the Deplorables who will support, simply because "suk it libtards harharhar."

It's not even ALL the 1%, as this video demonstrates.  You have a millionaire somewhat bravely explaining how we have warped the tax code to reward wealth over work.  By the way, "Putting Work Over Wealth" is a nice bumpersticker, Democrats.  You're welcome.

But the donor class is whom this Congress serves.  We've had Republican members of Congress basically say that their donors won't pick up the phone if they aren't showered with money. 

We are governed by the worst people.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Coming Crisis

All the signs point to the GOP killing the Mueller probe.  They are about to get their precious tax cuts for the super-rich, presumably whatever use they have had for Trump is close to over.  Trumpism has cost them a Senate seat in Alabama and a shot at the Virginia governor's mansion.  Yet, there are growing signs that the GOP is gearing up to delegitimize Mueller's probe by the usual bullshit conspiracy crap that has already turned their party into an intellectual and moral wasteland. 

Firing Mueller would be the Saturday Night Massacre on steroids, and it certainly seems that the Republican Congress is perfectly fine to go along with it.  When Nixon did it, it was the beginning of the end for him.  That is unlikely to be the case here.  Roughly 40% of Americans would cheer them on in eviscerating the rule of law in this country, because libtards suck it harharhar.

I honestly wonder if we don't wind up with political violence on the left if this happens.  That would be very, very bad, as it would allow Trump the opportunity to go full Reichstag Fire.


Suicide Squad

Matthew Yglesias basically says that the GOP is floundering its way off the deep end.  As they get pummeled in places like Virginia, losing the suburban vote.  As they lose narrowly in Alabama, of all places.  As they see their poll numbers decline below head lice...

Their decision seems to be to go "all in" on being shitty.

Tax breaks for billionaires?  What a compelling message to voters!

Ending net neutrality?  People LOVE their cable companies!

Depriving children of health insurance?  Who doesn't love making kids sicker!

Deporting DREAMers?  Who cares about kids (see above)!

It seems the thinking goes something like this: Republicans are likely going to get creamed next November.  They will still have Trump's veto pen, should they lose control of both chambers, so these horrible decisions will stay on the books until 2021.  Maybe they will "sink in" like Obamacare.  Except, no.

The minute Democrats get control of all three bodies of government, you can expect that Kick America In the Ball Act of 2017 to be repealed.  In fact, Democrats (should?) will run hard against it, so I would expect even higher rates of taxation on capital.  Efforts to screw around with healthcare will simply lead to more expansion of health care coverage.  Immigration reform will top the docket.

I guess all these Republican Congressmen who are about to get tossed out of office are preparing a place for themselves in the private sector.  Seven figure annual paydays for selling out the rest of us.

UPDATE: Krugman believes in the K Street angle, too.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Day America Forfeited It's Claims To Justice

I can't look at this without weeping.

Shivving The Refs

As they quiver in the wake of Alabama's election results, Republicans have to worry about their connection to the toxic politics of Trump.  As Scott Lemieux points out, Trump did not repeal the laws of gravity.  He won because he won an improbably close set of elections in a unique electoral environment.  The specific weaknesses of Hillary Clinton matched up well with the specific strengths of Donald Trump.

Yet, for some reasons, Republicans still feel compelled to defend this Cheetoh colored fart cloud.

The attacks on Robert Mueller's investigation are the latest example of how far Republicans will go to defend the indefensible.  A calm exemplar of this is Andrew McCarthy's piece that gently hints that maybe Mueller's probe is fatally flawed because some of the people who worked for him had...opinions.  The Editorial Board corrects this.  We know, for instance, that FBI agents in the NY office had a very low opinion of Hillary Clinton.  This may have contributed to the email nontroversy, but the FBI didn't file charges in the end, because they are the FBI, not the Stasi. 

In the debate over Al Franken, I've argued that Democrats have to defend our expectations of what we want from our institutions.  The Republicans have become a party of nihilists, wrecking the fabric of our civic life in the pursuit of power in the service of great wealth.  Now they are turning their sights on the institutions of law enforcement.

We are ruled by the worst people.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Read More David Roberts

Roberts writes a piece where he catalogs how the Right has cauterized themselves off from reality, and how that plays out in our institutions.  In particular, he looks at the Al Franken case where the Democrats have held themselves to standards of morality that Republicans reject on some levels. I do think however, the resignation of Trent Franks is a counterargument to the idea that Republicans don't care at all.

What often goes unargued in these pieces is the fact that basic institutions and norms are under attack from Hair Furor on a daily basis.  When Democrats step up and have a liberal lion like Franken resign, they aren't simply clarifying their political message against Trump and Moore (though that helps).  They are also standing up for institutions that don't have sexual offenders in them. 

That's important, too.

Ready! Fire! Aim!

The Democratic Republican party is in disarrayTrump of course, is claiming he was right all along.  In fact, McConnell and the establishment GOP was right that Roy Moore was unelectable. That won't stop the recriminations from flowing against Steve Bannon's plan to unleash the id of the GOP - naked and foaming at the mouth - upon an unsuspecting electorate.

There were a few reasons to accept a Roy Moore victory - mainly that Republicans would have to spend quite a lot of time defending his presence in the Senate.  A Jones victory brings several positives to the Democrats.

First, any win is precious for a party still reeling from Clinton's loss.

Second, Jones is a reliable vote against Republican legislation in a Senate body that is already a struggle to find 50 votes for an unpopular legislative agenda.  Tax reform might have died last night.

Third, Jones opens the door to Democrats taking control of the Senate next fall.  That would give them subpoena power and the possibility that they could block radical appointees.

But most importantly, Jones' win in crimson Alabama should unleash a war between Bannon's populist wing and the establishment GOP.  To a degree, that establishment is capturing Trump via legislation.  If an open rupture occurs over candidates like Moore, that could greatly advantage Democrats.

My fondest hope is that Bannon leads his moronic followers out of the GOP into a quixotic third party bid for white supremacists. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Thank You, Black People

Doug Jones just won the Alabama Senate seat.  In some ways, Roy Moore was a win-win for Democrats, as his presence in the Senate would be a millstone around the neck of the GOP.  Doug Jones winning means that the Democrats now have a legitimate chance to at least get to 50-50 in the Senate next November.  The building Blue Wave should protect most Democratic incumbents, and it should result in a win in Nevada.  Arizona and Tennessee are kind of interesting, as is -  don't laugh - Texas.

Doug Jones will almost certainly lose re-election in 2020, because Roy Moore is unlikely to be the Republican nominee.  Of course, my fondest hope and dream is that Steve Bannon looks at how the institutional GOP - guys like Richard Shelby - turned their back on dear sweet Roy and his one Jewish lawyer and that cost him victory in a very tight race.  As of now, the write-ins look to be within the margin of victory.

I think Steve Bannon should form a third party made up of real, gawd feerin Muricans like Roy Moore and run against those DC establishment types.  This is a great idea, Steve.  Start recruiting by Ammon Bundy for Nevada and Joe Arpaio for Arizona to run for Senate on the Murican Party line!  That will show those cucks who's boss!

Anyway... I want to take a moment and sincerely thank black people.  I want to thank you for so many things, not least of all our 44th president.  But I also want to note that it was literally Selma, Alabama's vote returners that pushed Doug Jones ahead of Roy Moore to stay.  (I saw it on Twitter, I don't care if it's true.)  African American voters, especially women, are the reason - the only reason - a credibly accused child molester, a religious bigot, a man opposed to the Constitution, civil rights and basic human decency is not going to be a US Senator.

Fifty-four years ago, Alabama governor, George Wallace, stood in the school house door to oppose desegregation and equal rights.

Today, African Americans stood in lines at the polling place doors to oppose a different but equally poisonous form of bigotry.  Everyone - black or white or brown - who voted for Doug Jones today is a fucking hero in my book.

So, thank you.

Loopholes! We Got Loopholes!

Jon Chait makes a point I've been making.  The GOP Kick America In The Nuts Bill of 2017 is so poorly written, so shoddily put together that it will create a massive wave of tax avoidance that would make the Greeks blush.

Once item of good news: We could get hammered by the end of the SALT deduction (State And Local Tax), but Connecticut could simply change from an income tax to a payroll tax, raise the same amount of money, protect its citizens and the services those taxes pay for....and punch an even bigger hole in the deficit.

Monday, December 11, 2017

My Theory

Jennifer Rubin is ostensibly a conservative blogger at WaPo.  Yet I'm hard pressed to find a more vitriolic anti-Trump voice.  Today, she takes on two targets: the Know Nothing Trump Voter and the media who can't stop going on Cleetus Safaris.  You've no doubt read a few Cleetus Safari pieces, where the intrepid NYTimes reporter heads to some godforsaken, dying mill town and comes back with the revelation that white people who don't know shit about shit voted for Trump.

What Rubin explores at the end of her piece is the counterpoint.  For every embittered WWC male who blames his lack of employment on coloreds instead of Wall Street there's a pissed off suburban woman or two who has had enough. 

It's been interesting to see the divisions on Twitter and blogs about Franken stepping down.  Roughly there are two schools: "He had to go, because you can't tolerate that behavior" and "How come only our guys are held accountable, why don't Democrats play hardball."  The calculus of jettisoning Franken is driven, I think, by the anger among a very sizable portion of the population and one that could swing dramatically in Democrat's direction.  Roy Moore, should he win tomorrow, becomes a cudgel for Democrats to pummel the hypocrisy and greed for power at the expense of decency of the Republican Party. 

Rubin - who was an avid supported of Mitt Romney - is one of millions of Republican leaning women who are abandoning the GOP in the Age of Trump.  If Democrats catch a wave next November, it will be on the wind of millions of angry sighs from exasperated women.

Not Quite Surrounded

Very good article about the long standing prevalence of white supremacists and authoritarians in America.  However, I don't like the word "surrounded."  This is about 27-35% of the population that has managed to distribute themselves advantageously around the country.  I'm hopeful the actuarial table carries most of them away, but they will always be there.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Le Sigh....

Time for the monthly "Democrats Are In Disarray" story from a major news source.  Democrats have always been a fractious bunch, but the idea that they don't have a coherent message is irrelevant.  My comment below the story:

Here's a question: Why do Democrats need one message? Why shouldn't a Democrat running in a Philly suburb run on one thing, and another in rural Nebraska run on another? Why shouldn't one candidate stress economic fairness while another focuses on criminal justice and immigration reform? That's not to say the latter candidate isn't for economic fairness, too, but rather each candidate should run an authentic campaign for them and their constituencies.

I don't see why Democrats need to produce one bumper sticker for Arizona and Upstate New York simultaneously.  Stand for economic fairness.  Stand for minorities.  But until you have a presidential candidate, you don't need a national message.  You need hundreds of local ones, providing they fit within the bigger tent.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them

Al Franken began his political career by writing about the mendacity of the Right Wing Wurlitzer in the book with the same title as this post. 

How sad that the day he had to resign saw this little nugget from the WaPo.  Trump is a profoundly, profoundly dishonest person.  As the story notes, he is also a liar who uses his lies to be cruel and belittle people.

I'll say again and as many times as I need to.  Donald Trump is the logical end point of two decades of the Right creating a narrative about the world that is false and divisive.  The tax "plan" worming its way through Congress is proof enough that the entire Republican Party lives in a world of lies and ignorance.

Sorry, Comity Police, but that's just how it is.  And, no, David Brooks, it wasn't caused by Trump.  It has been there all along.

Friday, December 8, 2017

FFS Alabama

Roy Moore like Vladimir Putin more than Ronald Reagan.  While the Cult of Reagan is ridiculous, it appears to be dying.  Many have quipped that Reagan would be called a RINO by today's Republicans, but this is an amazing quote.

I haven't heard anything, but it's an appalling missed opportunity if Democratically aligned independent groups weren't trying to convince Alabama Republicans to write-in ANYONE but Moore.  They should've thrown resources behind Lee Busby.  All they need at this point is about 10% of the electorate who can't vote for either guy, but might vote for Moore because of the R next to his name, to stay home next week.  Or vote for a write-in. 

There is an excellent chance that Roy Moore becomes a gift to Democrats as a foil, but there is another argument.  I think Franken had to resign, because he had lost public confidence.  Some Democrats are pissed, because Trump is still in office despite doing much worse.  But Democrats need to be the party that stands for the institutions of this country.  That means Franken needed to go and Roy Moore needs to be defeated by any means necessary, including a little ratfucking.