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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Terrorists Have Won

The Taliban have won the World Series....


Because I Was Busy

I will outsource the blog again:

The conclusion?

This is exactly why the actual Republican Party health-care plan is not repeal and replace, but repeal and cackle. Republicans are on strong ground exploiting fear of change. They have understood perfectly well that they must avoid having to defend a different set of changes to the status quo. They have kept their various replace ideas safely to the side for exactly that reason.
And nothing that has happened since has fundamentally changed that. Republicans in red states have tools at their disposal to block insurance subsidies for the poorest Americans. They have political tools to embarrass Obama and his allies. They lack the votes to repeal Obamacare, and will continue to lack them for at least three more years. And by that point, a large number of the people whose interests they have so intently ignored — the uninsured — will be within the system, and will have joined the ranks of those benefiting from the status quo and resisting change to it.
The GOP is always working for overreach.  This should be no different.

And the important thing to note about Americans is that they are temperamentally conservative in that they are averse to change, especially change by the government.  And a lot of the fear is compounded by some of the glitches with the website.

But a lot of the people freaking out over their "cancellations" will be pretty pleased by what they wind up with. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Just Get Me To Friday

Will "Being an American" be considered a pre-existing condition?

It appears we will be lurching from Obamacare scandal to Obamacare scandal until everyone sort of runs out of ink pixels.

The current iteration of this is the revelation that Obamacare will - surprise - roil the individual insurance market.

As Chait notes in the piece above, ACA was supposed to roil the individual insurance markets.  Those markets are pretty much broken.  Insurance companies cherry picked the healthy and denied the poor schmucks who actually - you know - needed health insurance.

So the whole point of the mandate was to get EVERYONE into the individual market (who wasn't covered by employer-based insurance or Medicare/Medicaid) and to regulate that market more effectively.

And one thing that happened - again, on purpose - was to make those individual plans more comprehensive and fair than they were before.

It should be noted that this was the primary appeal of the public option: getting these individual buyers access to something like Medicare.

Chait and others tend to come down hard on Obama for saying "Your current plan won't change."  For the vast majority of Americans, this is true.  Employer based insurance and Medicare won't change much at all, except maybe having more benefits and less overhead.

But there are some people who will be moved off old crappy plans and on to better plans.

And yet this is somehow a problem.

Alternately, I like what Josh Marshall is doing.  He's compiling stories of people who either have no insurance or have to buy through the individual markets.

It's a bracing reminder for everyone who has the luxury of good employer-based health insurance.

A nurse who has to buy private insurance at huge costs.

A guy with a good plan, but who will save thousands of dollars a year.

A farmer in Wisconsin who had to choose between working more and losing his kids health insurance.

I know anecdotes are not data, but what's good for the goose...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Emo Progs Haz A Sad

Fascinating bit of navel gazing sadness, especially the comments.

Basically, the leftist bloggers (I'd call them that, more than progressives) were all stoked in 2005 when everyone was reading them and saying, "F%ck yeah! Right on!"  But then Democrats came to power and had to, like, govern and everything.  And the leftist bloggers were all confused that Democrats didn't do things like shut down the government over Iraq or impeach Bush over Katrina.

In other words, the leftist bloggers were upset that the Democrats didn't behave like the Tea Party.

And this makes them sad.  Marginalized.  Abandoned.

The single greatest strength of the Democratic Party right now is that it listens to its base, but doesn't cater to it.  It will draw from the left and the center (and even center right) in order to hold on to power.  This is a lesson the Left never learned in the '70s and the Tea Party hasn't learned today.  It's something the party of Reagan understood really well (Reagan's Eleventh Commandment).

A few decades in the wilderness have taught Democrats that being in power beats the shit out of being out of power.

Yes, there are the inevitable intramural squabbles on the Democratic side, but they pale in comparison to what the party was like in the '80s or the GOP is today.

I will let TBogg take it away:

Let me see if I can explain it this way:

Every year in Happy Gumdrop Fairy-Tale Land all of the sprites and elves and woodland creatures gather together to pick the Rainbow Sunshine Queen. Everyone is there: the Lollipop Guild, the Star-Twinkle Toddlers, the Sparkly Unicorns, the Cookie Baking Apple-cheeked Grandmothers, the Fluffy Bunny Bund, the Rumbly-Tumbly Pupperoos, the Snowflake Princesses, the Baby Duckies All-In-A-Row, the Laughing Babies, and the Dykes on Bikes. They have a big picnic with cupcakes and gumdrops and pudding pops, stopping only to cast their votes by throwing Magic Wishing Rocks into the Well of Laughter, Comity, and Good Intentions. Afterward they spend the rest of the night dancing and singing and waving glow sticks until dawn when they tumble sleepy-eyed into beds made of the purest and whitest goose down where they dream of angels and clouds of spun sugar.

You don’t live there.

Grow the fuck up.

Twenty Newtowns A Year


I Want To Reprint This In Full

Yes, the website is glitchy.

But all the people wringing their hands are either disingenuous, in that they want the ACA to fail anyway, or they are attacking this from a place of privilege they can't even see.

So here is the letter to TPM:

But here's the thing for us: we don't make that much money. We pay the bills, we live within our means and our family is happy. We don't buy much stuff, and we don't do vacations. We have cut expenses to the bone: no cell phones, clothes get made our bought second hand, we make our own detergent, we preserve a lot of food when it's cheapest, our car totally sucks, and we simply do not eat out. But we're happy and we feel blessed. One person is always working and the other is at home with the children. And we do just okay enough to get by, unless something goes big-time wrong. And that's how it's likely to be until the kids are in school. But the thing is that if we both worked full time plus, it would all go to cover childcare and our income would dictate that we'd loose BadgerCare. Essentially, we'd make just enough to not be able to afford insurance. That's absurd.

So the options we've been left with are this: both of us to work as much as possible, put the kids in daycare and loose healthcare, or keep our income at a level that at once facilitates a stay at home parent, ensures BadgerCare and excludes our true earning potential, just for the sake of insurance of some kind. All in the name of if something should go wrong. Because if something big goes wrong or something bad happens, it's not going to eat the savings -- there isn't any. We'll go bankrupt and loose what little we have.
With ACA, at least when we get our children into school, (gettin' there), and our income essentially doubles, enough to, 1) loose BadgerCare, 2) gain some economic stability and, 3) generate some savings, it won't all get eaten by health insurance costs because we will be able to access the ACA. We didn't set out looking for this set of options, but like a lot of other people, we were young, uninsured, and in love. We got married, had children and then realized just what we were up against..
I think any discussion of ACA needs to address the fact that a lot of families out there, (I know many), have been forced to earn less to prevent the worst. My hope is that since the ACA addresses this dilemma it might be the bedrock of it's success.

Millions of Americans fall into this category.  They are called the working class in most countries, but we pretend they don't exist when it comes to discussing policy.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Final Word

The Final Word on last night's infield fly rule defensive interference fiasco belongs to Old Hoss Radbourn.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Money Quote On NSA Snooping

"The magnitude of the eavesdropping is what shocked us," former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in a radio interview. "Let's be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else. But we don't have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous."

I don't understand why we need to do all this.  Some of it clearly traces itself back to Total Information Awareness under Bush.  And a power once claimed is hard to give up.  Hopefully, we eventually force the NSA back under some sort of control.

But spare me the outrage that we are spying on our allies.  All we are doing is spying on them better than they are spying on us.

Whereas This Is Facinating

This Is Hilarious


The Fam Damily went 3-0 today, including an overtime thriller from Coach of the Year.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Some Good Reads On The ACA Website

I like this take.  First of all it notes - as should be noted - how hard it is to launch any new tech.  We renovated two classrooms this summer, and we still can't get the ENO board projectors to work properly.  I've already had to patch the new iPhone operating system I installed last month.

The piece does a good job explaining why is such an IT nightmare.

But it goes further and describes what this could mean philosophically, both for Democrats and Republicans.  The big glitch is the means-testing of applicants.  If it was a universal, single payer system, none of these tech issues would be happening.  Obamacare - as created by the Heritage Foundation and Mitt Romney - was always a patchwork of public and private insurance.  And patchworks tend to fray at the seams.

Norm Ornstein of AEI has another interesting take about Obama's management style.  It basically describes a dearth of technocrats in key places that know how to get things done.  The piece also references an important point echoed by Howard Dean.  The MIA states who failed to set up their own exchanges put a lot of stress on the national government to cover a lot more ground than it might otherwise have had to.

Dean mentions a great solution, namely that there should have been regional exchanges (as opposed to one national exchange) each with its own contractor.  That way if one IT company screws up, the focus is on that IT company, providing the other exchanges work well.

Of course, there's always a nice simple single payer system...

UPDATE: I went to click through an article on ESPN and it sent me to the wrong article.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Damn, That's Creepy

I clicked on Google and their home page had birthday cakes and shit.

Google knows my birthday...

Self Fulfilling Misery

Jon Chait notes something I've noted before.  The current Tea Party movement is much closer to the New Left of the Sixties than to what we think of as conservatism.

This is similar to the argument about Middle American Radicalism.  But he makes the point about the Teaturds being primarily an expression of grievance rather than a cohesive political movement centered around policy goals.  He writes (the reference to the video is about the Weathermen):

If you watch the video above, you’ll see familiar echoes of the recent events in Washington: far-fetched scenarios, confessions that the effort was worthwhile even if it was doomed, even the Gadsden Flag. Its adherents may have wanted to believe they would achieve their goal, but the lack of any plausible path by which the end might follow the means did not trouble them. The demonstration of outrage was a form of politics well suited for a movement that views itself as a hopeless minority in a democratic process rigged against them. It is a (notthe, but a) logical culmination of a movement that loses its now-or-never moment. Everything that has happened since then in Washington: the backlash against Republican efforts at accommodation, the ever greater frenzies of protest, the rejection of traditional notions of compromise and attainability — this is what never looks like.

Seen as a quixotic protest against a changing American, the Teaturd makes sense.  The political nihilism and the pointlessness of the shutdown becomes logical within the framework of protest.

The question is, will those who have policy goals from the political process put up with this nonsense?

Certainly, we've seen the collapse of support for both the Tea Party and the Republican party.  We've even seen guys like Mike Lee get in trouble at home in Utah.  Utah!  Will the Big Money change over to Democrats?  Probably not. But it could stay home or simply support Wall Street Republicans in primaries.  But 2012 showed that money can't buy everything and there is a critical mass of Teaturd voters in the GOP.

This is perhaps the real measure of the GOP civil war.  The Tea Party is already a losing protest against a changing world.  Will they drag the GOP down with them?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


If we can count on anything, it's for Republicans to overplay their hand.  (see Benghazi, IRS scandal, Lewinsky, the shutdown, you name it).

The interesting thing is that the roll-out of the Obamacare website has been widely derided as a maiden voyage only moderately less sucky than the Titanic's.

But my guess is that this has been exaggerated.

First, I give you Booman, who notes that unlike Fox News, the "liberal media" has been reporting the shortcomings of the website.  Ezra Klein notably called it a disaster.  The result of this has been that a press that typical takes a "one side says A, the other says B, therefore the truth lies exactly between the two points" has been starved of that technique.  If Ezra Klein and the President both say it's awful, my God, it must be even worse than that.  Logging onto must give you malware.

But TPM has actually tried to use the website and found it frustrating but hardly disastrous.  In other words, not unlike quite a few human-internet interfaces that the average person has.

So, having stepped all over the website rollout with the shutdown, expect the GOP to now go overboard in condemning the website ("How dare the government make it harder for people to sign up for a plan we want to get rid of!").

And once again, their apocalyptic rhetoric will not match up with the average person's reality.

The GOP is like shampoo: work yourself into a lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blue Jersey

So, Jersey just legalized gay marriage via the courts.  I prefer it when it happens via the legislature, but unlike - say - Roe v Wade this is not a court decision that will polarize America for years.  This will stick, it's a good thing and it's important.

But I'm fascinated by the fact that Chris Christie will likely be re-elected governor of New Jersey.  I know Jersey is kind of idiosyncratic.  They have a large Italian-American population that I tend to think leans GOP nationally and in the Northeast in particular.  African-Americans are an important voting bloc, but not a determinant one.

Still, I would love to see Christie either go down in flames (insert Hindenburg joke) or at least come very close.  Christie is a bully and an asshole.  And that's not necessarily a detriment in New Jersey.  In fact, co-assholes are probably his base.

We are going to be hearing a lot in the next two years about the GOP's need to find a moderate presidential candidate, and Christie is kind of all they have.

It would be hilarious if he got upset.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Walking Dead Liveblog

So, the Voice of Phineas (or is it Ferb) died in the shower for no apparent reason.

Whence do we go from here? Oh, yes, rats at the fence.  Delicious artisanal rats plated en fur, with a chain link remoulade.

Episode one of this season was just a taste to give us a sense of what they are about to lose.  Because this show is as sadistic as the Governor without enough sleep.

And the pretty girl is always the one they kill first.  Not that they aren't milking it for all it's worth.

Well, I guess they passed on subtlety...
Well, I'm no longer hungry.

Oh, Glenn and Maggie have their own place!  It's a one room walk-up, but nice views.

I got it!  The food is contaminated!  That's why the pig died.  The worms!

You know, skulls don't crush that easily.

D block?  More like Dead block.  Amirite?
Bald, bearded fat guy reminds me why this is a good show and not just a horror show.

Great.  Everyone is both infected and now liable to die from a completely unrelated illness.

That girl is kind of twisted.

Carol has become a certified badass.

Not much Tamiflu in the apocalypse.
Little sister speaks the truth.

Again, where are all these Walkers coming from?  There aren't enough people in Georgia to create all these Walkers.

Could be the return of the Ricktatorship?

So, I'm guessing Michonne had a child...

The eyes have it...
Rick - like Cincinnatus, must leave his fig and vine for some slaughter.

Carl has become the good kid he once was, but I imagine he will morph pretty quickly back to Kick Ass Carl.

Whoa.  Teared up completely at that scene with Michonne and Lil Asskicker.  Never seen that actress before this, but she's something else.

Pork is the other white meat.  Human is the other other white meat.

And the pig scene is pretty damned emotional, too.

I know that Walking Dead has zombies and a lot of gross-out stuff, but that last fifteen minutes had me in tears.  I can't say the same for Game of Thrones or most episodes of Breaking Bad.  But all the Kewl Kids love irony more than tears, so...
Good luck, Carol.  She's nuts and your luck with little girls isn't so good.

A little Shane moment there.

Just a little medical tip: if you think the pigs have flu, don't stand around with their blood all over you.

Um... damn.
Talking Dead makes me want to never listen to another Paramour song.

The American Sphinx

Frank Rich writes an extended version of the GOP as the party of nullification schtick we've heard for a while now.

The only thing is he forgets who came up with the theory of nullification in the first place: Thomas Jefferson.

We have so hallowed Jefferson in the American pantheon, we forget his role as a fairly radical political philosopher.  He was skeptical of the Constitution and actually preferred the anarchic Articles of Confederation.  His later doctrine of nullification was justified, because of the odious law it nullified, except that once you justify nullification, you don't know where it will end.

I doubt Jefferson would have approved of what Calhoun did with it, but I'm not entirely sure.  Jefferson may have found slavery morally repellent, but unlike Washington, he never freed his slaves - even after his death.  And Jefferson was nothing if not a man of the agrarian South.  Would that solidarity with Calhoun have trumped any feelings of national unity?

With Jefferson, you can never know.

On The Other Hand, Who Needs Autopsies?

So yesterday, I wondered how many pieces we need to read and write about the death of the GOP.

But how do the nihilists in the Kompletely Krazy Kaucus read the past few weeks?

They want to primary those that compromised.

They think they won.

And they are going to put money where their big fat mouths are.

So, to recap.

Sensible Republicans, which apparently includes people like Orrin Hatch these days, know that this was a disaster.

But the ones who caused the disaster truly seem to believe that the only flaw in their plan was that they compromised.

See you in January!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

How Many Autopsies Do We Need?

We've been writing autopsies for the GOP since November 2012 and yet - zombie like, if you will - they keep shambling around the Capitol building eating everyone's brains.

Both Sides...

Tiger Beat on the Potomac weighs in with its first draft of history.

Interesting to note the little efforts to imply that "both sides are to blame".

Because... yeah.

Friday, October 18, 2013

From The Pinkos At Crain's Chicago Business

In the past few election cycles, conservative political action committees, corporations and wealthy individuals claiming to favor liberty and limited government have shoveled money into the pockets of tea party-style candidates running for office at all levels of government. Along the way, these interests helped to elevate an assortment ofideologues, carnival barkers and self-aggrandizing hucksters into positions of real power — people whose influence previously extended only as far as banning a book via their local library board or writing science out of the curriculum at their neighborhood school.
As the just-concluded government shutdown and debt-ceiling standoff vividly demonstrated, the House GOP went on a bender and didn't name a designated driver. The drunkards behind the congressional wheel nearly drove world financial markets into a ditch, draining $24 billion from the U.S. economy in the process. And there's every indication that they'll take the keys andrepeat the process in January, when the debt-ceiling timer goes off again.
It's time for Republicans to sober up and get to work doing the country's business. That means reckoning with the outcome of elections that put Democrats in charge of the Senate and, yes, the White House. That means setting realistic goals and hammering out compromises that advance conservative ideas, however incrementally.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Why Did Obummer Shut Down The Government?"

The right wing echo chamber is nothing if not consistent.  Their detachment from reality is complete.

We are already hearing the echo chamber say that they "won" the shutdown.  My guess is even that is a delusion too far.

In the final days, they tried to pin the unpopular shutdown in Obama for "not negotiating".  Over the next couple of months, we will see - presumably - negotiations between the Senate and House.  The House has never really wanted to propose the cuts necessary to make their budget a reality, so I don't see this ending well.

So, as we move towards a NEW shutdown in January, expect them to talk about how the Democrats won't negotiate on... something something something... and therefore it is the Democrats fault.

It would be helpful if David Gregory and Bob Schiefer and the rest consult this handy chart:

The only GOP reps to vote against re-opening government from outside the Confederacy and the Great Plains/Basin are: Justin Amash (MI), Michelle Bachmann (Insane), Kerry Bentivolio (MI), Larry Bucshon (IN), John Campbell (CA), Steve Chabot (OH), Chris Collins (NY), Jeff Denham (CA), Sean Duffy (WI), Scott Garrett (NJ), Bob Gibbs (OH), Andy Harris (MD),  Bill Huizenga (MI), Randy Hultgreen (IL), Duncan Hunter (CA), Bill Johnson (OH), Steve King (Moron), Doug Lamalfa (CA), Bob Latta (OH), Tom Marino (PA), Tom McClintock (CA), Luke Messer (IN), Candice Miller (MI), Scott Perry (PA), Tom Petri (WI), Joe Pitts (PA), Tom Reed (NY), Jim Renacci (OH), Dana Rohrbacher (CA), Todd Rokita (IN), Keith Rothfus (PA), Ed Royce (CA), Paul Ryan (Galt's Gulch), Jim Sensenbrenner (WI), Marlin Stutzman (IN), Mike Turner (OH), Tim Walberg (MI), Greg Walden (OR), Jackie Walorski (IN) and Brad Wenstrup (OH).

So, the Shutdown Caucus consists of the old Slave holding states, the Great Plains/Great Basin and a few other locales.  Notably, Indiana, which is culturally Southern outside of Indianapolis and Gary, the inland valleys of California, rural Wisconsin and the gerrymandered states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsyltucky.

Conversely, just looking at the STATES that GOP reps came from who voted to re-open the government are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Idaho, North Dakota, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, California, Colorado,  Montana, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Washington, Nevada, Minnesota, Iowa, and Alaska.

This is the contour of the current GOP civil war.  Even in the Red States listed first, there are GOP reps who realize the insanity of the current "governance by apocalypse that the Tea Party embraces.  But the majority of "yes" votes came from whatever representation the GOP has outside of the Red States.

Some Teatards threatened a third party after this.  We can only hope.  But more likely they will stay put and continue to argue against reality.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Way To Go Shitbirds

The shutdown cost the US $24,000,000,000 in lost growth and retarded GDP growth by 0.6%. Say the liberal pinko commies that make up Standard and Poors.

The 9/11 attacks trimmed $500,000,000,000 from the GDP, so better luck next time, you neo-confederate asshats.

UPDATE: Jon Chait's sentence offered without context:
We are pretty far from okay, but it beats spending the rest of your life getting raped in a dungeon, which is more or less what the House Republicans had planned.

This Is Really Remarkable

This whole shutdown shitstorm was basically caused by the Heritage Foundation and Jim DeMint.  Cruz, yeah, he was part of it, but he was working with various outside groups to make the Teatards dance.

And now basically they say, "Yeah it was never going to happen."

We know that!  We knew that weeks ago!

And yet, we could still enter a short period of default because Congress is still full of whackaloons.


Militant, aggressive, ignorant, harmful assholes.

Wall Street Is Not Amused

And John McCain wants the Tea Party to get off his lawn.

So, basically, Republicans with a nodding acquaintance with reality know the game is up.

But are there enough of those in the House to get out of this mess?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

John Boehner's Ultimate Achievement

He has made Mitch McConnell look like a statesman by comparison.

Why Does The GOP Hate America?

If this really happens, if we default on our debt, then the GOP will have removed America as the world's indispensable power in economic affairs.

Well done, shit heads.

The Kompletely Krazy Kaucus

The Senate looks to be near a deal.  It will reopen government, raise the debt ceiling and make two small changes in ACA, one for each side.  Sadly, they will not address the on going IT disaster that is the ACA website.

But while people like Booman are confident that this means the end of the House intransigence, I still can't see it.

UPDATE: And now, predictably, the House plan is DOA in the Senate for carrying ransom demands and DOA in the Krazy Kaucus for being just to gosh darned liberal.

Yes, we are truly and deeply screwed.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Serious Question

It is long been "known" that Lindsay Graham is currently America's foremost closeted gay person.  He's a politician from South Carolina.  Fine, we get it.

But now he's joined on to David Vitter's Screw My Congressional Staff bill.  This bill seeks to... hell if I know, basically it kicks congressional staffers into the exchanges and doesn't give them subsidies when they do.

It's literally an attempt to kick all the Hill staffers in the nuts.  And I have no idea why it's popular among Republican congressfolks.

But here's what I think is interesting, and here is my question:

Why would a guy who asks prostitutes to diaper him and America's foremost closeted gay person go out of their way to piss off the people who know their deepest personal secrets?

Caribou Barbie, Constitutional Scholar

I was going to write about Sarah Palin and others saying that the President was nearing impeachment for.... um.... winning elections... or something.

But when TBogg gets there first...

This Week In Nullification

So, over the weekend,  a bunch of whackaloon, John Bircher, neo-Confederate nutjobs met in DC to make asses of themselves.

What began as a showdown over the Affordable Care Act has really morphed into an epic tantrum that threatens the full faith and credit of the United States.  Well played.

To sum up, the GOP decided that they were going to extort policy concessions from the President and the Senate majority that ran counter to the results of the 2012 election.  Having lost, they were going to use a new form of nullification to get their way.

Where do we stand today?  John Boehner has been sidelined, because he is simply so ineffective, that including him would be as relevant as including Newt Gingrich.  The Senate is working on a deal that could reopen the government for a few weeks and extend the debt ceiling for a few months.

Buuuuuut, given that it's the Senate, a single Senator worried about his right flank could gum up the works and push us accidentally into default because of the various time wasting procedures that make the US Senate "the finest deliberative body on earth".

And even if it does pass the Senate before Thursday, the House has to pass it, which means Boehner has to go ask the Crazy Caucus for his balls back.

Basically, we are in a place where everyone agrees that default should not and will not happen, but no one knows exactly how it will be prevented.  Noam Scheiber thinks Boehner will swallow the pill, but I just don't see it based on his actions of the past seven months.

Scheiber writes:
because the House GOP was so insulated from public opinion—because the average GOP congressman is much more concerned about a Tea-Party challenger than a general-election opponent—conservative Republicans couldn’t see that this tactic was completely counterproductive. Which is to say, the very forces that made Republicans better able to withstand a public backlash drove them to pursue the one tactic guaranteed to produce a backlash so intense even they couldn’t withstand it.

But that begs the question: if the average GOP congressman is more concerned with a Tea Party challenger than a general election opponent, why change now?

Scheiber (and others) have not explained to me why Boehner would accept a Reid-McConnell deal that re-opens the government, eases sequestration and raises the debt ceiling for a non-trivial amount of time.

First, let's see if the Senate can act in a timely manner.  That alone would impress me.

Then, let me see Boehner act with courage and resolve.  That would smack my gob.

UPDATE:  Jon Chait notes that maybe both sides are creating the prevarication that Democrats are trying to end Sequester in order to sell the compromise to the GOP members.  If Democrats seem to be suggesting a "ransom", then maybe neither side having a ransom would constitute "middle ground".

The danger is that Democrats will then co-own a debt ceiling breach.  Not substantively, but in the media.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Walking Dead Liveblog

From the opening, are we to believe Rick has beaten his sword into a plowshare?

Because I can't imagine that lasting too long.
Who is "Mr. Dixon"?

I'm starting to wonder where all the walkers are coming from.  There simply aren't enough people in Georgia to create the population density of these walker hordes.

Wow, all sorts of romance happening in the prison.

And I guess we're also employing as many actors from The Wire as we can.

Hmm, they always start the season with a huge jump in story.  Certainly no exception here.
Why is there a blue Scottish woman in the Georgia woods?

Even after the apocalypse, kids are still assholes.

Even after the apocalypse, there are still nerds.
D'Angelo Barksdale is always causing problems.

At this point "It's Raining Men" should probably start playing.
I kind of dread seeing the blue Scottish woman's husband.

Why would the ceiling start falling in all over the place?  That doesn't make sense.

Beth looks like she needs a new boyfriend.

Rick is one seriously tormented soul.
How did THAT guy survive this long?

I always wondered if animals "turned".  I guess not.

Tyrese is kind of a big baby.

When is Daryl going to get romance?

Hm.  What killed nerd boy?

Should Be An Interesting Week

Thursday is Defaultaggedon.  My guess is that they don't allow it to happen, but my guess when it comes to the Crazy Caucus is pretty shaky.

If I had to guess, I'd say we temporarily enter default on Thursday and Friday, the markets tank, we tip into a recession, but they raise the debt ceiling on Friday night.

And the Republicans still retain the House in 2014, because people are stupid.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Civil War

James Fallows has written a lot about how the modern GOP is pursuing a course of nullification.

But it's also worth noting that the GOP itself is currently undergoing a civil war between Wall Street and it could have far reaching ramification for the Republican Party.

John Judis explains:

Since the late 1960s, America has seen the growth of what the late Donald Warren in a 1976 book The Radical Center called “middle American radicalism.” It’s anti-establishment, anti-Washington, anti-big business and anti-labor; it’s pro-free market. It’s also prone to scapegoating immigrants and minorities. It’s a species of right-wing populism. It ebbed during the Reagan years, but began to emerge again under the patrician George H.W. Bush and found expression in support for Ross Perot and for Pat Buchanan with his “peasants with pitchforks.” And it undergirded the Republican takeovers of Congress in 1994. It ebbed during George W. Bush’s war on terror, but has re-emerged with a vengeance in the wake of the Great Recession, Obama’s election and expansion of government, and continuing economic stagnation.
In his current column in The New York Times, Tom Edsall cites the extensive polling evidence for this rising anger. According to a Pew survey in late September, anger against the government “is most palpable among conservative Republicans” and overlaps with Republicans who “support the Tea Party.” But as with the Perot and Buchanan voters, these conservatives direct their anger equally at Republican and Democratic leaders. According to another Pew survey, 65 percent of the Republicans vote in primaries “disapprove of Republican leaders in Congress.” They see Republican leaders as being complicit in whatever they find wrong with Washington

The new grassroots Republicans are Warren’s middle American radicals. They don’t necessarily have clear overall objectives. They do want to blow up government—whether by eliminating the debt or repealing Obama’s Affordable Care Act. And whatever they want to do, they want done immediately and without compromise. And they regard those like Boehner who compromise and are willing to settle for incremental changes as “RINOs”—Republicans in name only

How is this inaccurate?

UPDATE: Louis Gohmert, the stupidest man in America, called John McCain an Al Qaeda supporter.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Speaking Of Apostates

Sensible, Burkean Conservative David Frum takes on the Tea Party.

David Frum - who like Ted Cruz is a Republican from Canada but unlike Ted Cruz is not an insane, raging asshole - has some sage words about how the GOP has gone off the rails.

I give you some nuggets if you're just too tired to click through:

Republicans were not content merely to replace one president with another. They also campaigned on the most radical platform the party since 1964. They wanted the biggest possible mandate. Instead they got whomped.
Republicans have insisted on maximal goals because they fear they face a truly apocalyptic moment: an irrevocable fork in the road, with one path leading to socialist tyranny, the other to the restoration of the constitutional republic. There sometimes are such moments in history of nations. This is not one. If the United States has remained a constitutional republic despite a government guarantee of health care for people over 65, it will remain a constitutional republic with a government guarantee of health care for people under 65. 
 But effective parties make conflict work for them. Hate leads to rage, and rage makes you stupid. Republicans have convinced themselves both that President Obama is a revolutionary radical hell-bent upon destroying America as we know it and that he's so feckless and weak-willed that he'll always yield to pressure. It's that contradictory, angry assessment that has brought the GOP to a place where it must either abjectly surrender or force a national default. 
 Large organizations are inherently vulnerable to capture by tightly organized militant tendencies. This is how a great political party was impelled to base a presidential campaign on the Ryan plan—a plan that has now replaced the 1983 manifesto of the British Labour Party as “the longest suicide note in history.”
 Non-politicians say what they believe. Politicians sooner or later arrive at the point where they believe what they say. They have become prisoners of their own artificial reality, with no easy access to the larger truths outside. This entombment in their own artificial reality was revealed to the entire TV-watching world in Karl Rove’s Fox News election night outburst against the Ohio 2012 ballot results.
 Americans understand that the business of the nation is ultimately settled by a roomful of tired people negotiating their differences in the small hours of the morning: everybody gets something, nobody gets everything. It’s a grubby business, unavoidably, and most of the time, Americans understand that. They build statues to Martin Luther King. They elect Lyndon Johnson.
It’s a tempting shortcut to throw up one’s hands and say, “I’ve seen the best of it. The future holds only darkness.” It’s especially tempting for a party that disproportionately draws its support from older voters. The fact is that for those of us over 50, the future offers us as individuals only decline leading to extinction. It’s natural to believe that what happens to us must happen to the world around us. Who wants to hear that things will become much, much better for humanity shortly after we ourselves shuffle off the scene? 

I think the word that sums this up is: "Damn!"

I Can Still Hate Joe Lieberman

Have I mentioned how much I like having Chris Murphy as my Senator recently?

Joe Lieberman remains a festering canker sore on the body politic.  The idea that anyone who once called himself a Democrat - hell, he was a Veep candidate once - could participate in a roasting of Dick Cheney that did not involve a flamethrower is beyond my feeble reasoning skills.

Dick Cheney is - and this is not hyperbole, I really believe this - a war criminal.  He launched a war against a country that did not attack us and killed hundreds of thousands of citizens of that country as a result.

Roast Dick Cheney?

In hell maybe.

Senator Joe Lieberman “said something to the effect that it’s nice that we’re all here at the Plaza instead of in cages after some war crimes trial,” recalled one person who was there.

Monday, October 7, 2013


What Happens In A Debt Default?

Worker's World Daily Bloomberg News is on the case:

Legitimately Interesting

An interesting take, very gussied up with high falutin book larnin'.

Basically, yes, the GOP are Neo-Confederates.

It's All About The Big Lebowski

As we confront the nihilists in the House, I offer you Walter Sobchak:

"Are these the Nazis, Walter?"

"No, Donnie, these men are nihilists.  There's nothing to be afraid of."

Clearly, Walter never imagined nihilists would gain veto power over the entire functions of government.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Well, This Is Terrifying

Away On The Weekend

Family goes 2-0-1 in games, so I'm thinking maybe the Braves make it an undefeated weekend.

Not so much.

We were in NYC and walked into a random restaurant and had a great lunch.  Just some place.  In Watertown it would have lines around the block.

Friday, October 4, 2013

I Think I Need To Just Cut And Paste This Whole

From Dan Amira:

Murphy's Law famously states that "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." But many are unaware of the lesser-known corollary to Murphy's Law, known as Fox & Friends Law, which states that "anything that can be derped onFox & Friends, will be derped." Consequently, from the moment it was decided to pair the hosts of Fox & Friends with Hispanic meteorologist Maria Molina for a segment on National Taco Day this morning, the derp was inevitable.
It was inevitable that Brian Kilmeade would ask Molina, "What are tips we need to know to do it correctly? You grew up on tacos, correct?"
It was inevitable that Steve Doocy would pause from stuffing his face to chide, "She did not grow — she's Colombian." 
It was inevitable that Molina would inform both hosts that she was Nicaraguan and tacos are not a Nicaraguan food. 
And it was inevitable that Elisabeth Hasselbeck would chime in, "But if youdid — if you did grow up on tacos ..."
Such are the laws of the physical universe.
As they say on the Internets: FFS

She Blinded Me With (Political) Science

In seeking to trump a lawful vote of both houses of Congress, a Supreme Court ruling and a reaffirming national presidential election, they tread on extremist ground. Their hubris is radical and nothing in modern American history provides a fair counterpart.

Here's a graph from Chait that I think is really important:

But the bigger problem here is that conservatives are not acknowledging the Democrats’ belief. It’s not a pose. They genuinely think, regardless of the merits of the ransom demand, they can’t give in, both for the national long-term interest and on moral principle. Conservatives are acting like the problem here is that they asked for a bit too much to begin with, and want to start haggling down the price. The price isn’t the issue. If the conservative goal is to create the illusion of winning something for the debt ceiling, then they’ll come back next time to win more, and Democrats can’t allow that.

Emphasis mine.

The new Democratic talking point should be about preserving the Constitutional order of the United States.  Forget arguing about conference committees, the ACA and National Parks.  This is about deciding whether government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth,

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Some Good News

As the Braves continue to be the Barves in postseason, as the federal government remains in the thrall of nihilists, as I feel like I work so hard and get so little done...

I think we need something to make us smile.

Ed at Gin and Tacos notes that conservatives are defined by their fears.  In fact, they are little more than the expression of their accumulated fears.

And the steady advance of acceptance of gays and lesbian is altering their world in a way that is fast, profound and irreversible.

Take A Stroll With Me

Peruse these editorials, including work by Robert Costa and Ross Douthat show that sentient Republicans know this is not redounding well to their benefit.

Even Grover Norquist is pissed at these nihilists.

But as public opinion solidifies against the GOP, I still can't see an incentive structure that brings the GOP leadership back to sanity.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Even The National Review

Robert Costa of the National Review - that mouthpiece of communist, Muslim socialists - explains what is happening in the House:

What we're seeing is the collapse of institutional Republican power. It’s not so much about Boehner. It’s things like the end of earmarks. They move away from Tom DeLay and they think they're improving the House, but now they have nothing to offer their members. The outside groups don't always move votes directly but they create an atmosphere of fear among the members. And so many of these members now live in the conservative world of talk radio and tea party conventions and Fox News invitations. And so the conservative strategy of the moment, no matter how unrealistic it might be, catches fire. The members begin to believe they can achieve things in divided government that most objective observers would believe is impossible. Leaders are dealing with these expectations that wouldn't exist in a normal environment.

Let that sink in...

This is not a partisan source seeking to create a straw man about the Right to easily tear apart.  This is the National Review explaining exactly why a handful of nihilists believe they can extort things from the government of the United States.

He goes on to basically agree with every charge leveled against the House:

When you get the members off the talking points you come to a simple conclusion: They don't face consequences for taking these hardline positions. When you hear members talk candidly about their biggest victory, it wasn’t winning the House in 2010. It was winning the state legislatures in 2010 because they were able to redraw their districts so they had many more conservative voters. The members get heat from the press but they don't get heat from back home.

Rick Perry Is Jealous Of Louis Gohmert

Louie Gohmert is the Stupidest Man In America.

Or Texas.

Kind of the same applicant pool.

Because here comes Governor Goodhair to challenge Gohmert for his Stupid Crown.

Here, we learn that Perry thinks that implementing Obamacare would be not only unconstitutional, but criminal.

Because when both houses of Congress create a bill, send it to the President who signs it and then the Supreme Court gives it the okey-dokey, that's the same as knocking over a liquor store.

Perry has also decided to help out Wendy Davis' campaign by doing a little mansplaining.

High on their own supply or stuffed full of their own bullshit?


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Speaking Of Great Writers...

tbogg is BACK.

Sing, Choir

I stopped reading Charlie Pierce, because I got sick of the moralizing over drones and Snowden and Syria.

But I really need to read him more often:

But there has never been in a single Congress -- or, more precisely, in a single House of the Congress -- a more lethal combination of political ambition, political stupidity, and political vainglory than exists in this one, which has arranged to shut down the federal government because it disapproves of a law passed by a previous Congress, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court, a law that does nothing more than extend the possibility of health insurance to the millions of Americans who do not presently have it, a law based on a proposal from a conservative think-tank and taken out on the test track in Massachusetts by a Republican governor who also happens to have been the party's 2012 nominee for president of the United States. That is why the government of the United States is, in large measure, closed this morning.

We have elected the people sitting on hold, waiting for their moment on an evening drive-time radio talk show.

We have elected an ungovernable collection of snake-handlers, Bible-bangers, ignorami, bagmen and outright frauds, a collection so ungovernable that it insists the nation be ungovernable, too. We have elected people to govern us who do not believe in government.

We have elected a national legislature in which Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann have more power than does the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who has been made a piteous spectacle in the eyes of the country and doesn't seem to mind that at all. We have elected a national legislature in which the true power resides in a cabal of vandals, a nihilistic brigade that believes that its opposition to a bill directing millions of new customers to the nation's insurance companies is the equivalent of standing up the the Nazis in 1938, to the bravery of the passengers on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, and to Mel Gibson's account of the Scottish Wars of Independence in the 13th Century. We have elected a national legislature that looks into the mirror and sees itself already cast in marble.

We did this. We looked at our great legacy of self-government and we handed ourselves over to the reign of morons.

There's more:

Read more: Government Shutdown - The Reign Of Morons Is Here - Esquire 
Follow us: @Esquiremag on Twitter | Esquire on Facebook 
Visit us at

Banana Republicans

Chait is once again demonstrating why he's one of the more astute commentators on the current state of American governance.

What he has done repeatedly since 2011 is to simply catalog what the Republicans are saying and take them at their word.  So when the GOP says they are going to force concessions by shutting down the government and refusing to raise the debt ceiling - and they say this for months ahead of time - it's reasonable to assume that this is not a "lack of bipartisan compromise" that High Broderism calls for, but is instead a predictable outcome from a negotiating strategy that could be called hostage taking, but is really closer to extortion.

If this wasn't imperiling the economy and causing real hardships across the land - including the 800,000 people who were furloughed this morning - it would be a fascinating case study in motivations.

Right now, it is widely acknowledged by everyone but the hard right, that the GOP maintains control of the House because of safe districts.  We know objectively that Democrats won over a million more votes in House races than did Republicans.  We know that Republicans in 2010 made winning state houses a main goal for this purpose.

We also know that the public will overwhelmingly blame the party that professes to hate government for shutting down that government. We are already seeing that number in polls.

But what is the incentive for Boehner to allow a clean CR to come to the floor?  It would likely pass, ending this farce.

But why should Boehner allow that to happen?  What does he get for it?  A large part of his caucus will despise him for it, and they already hate him.  It would require an act of real statesmanship from a man who has demonstrated no discernible aptitude for it.

Ideally, this governing-by-extortion will only last a few days, but I am having trouble seeing how the incentives line up to end this.  Not because the votes aren't there, but because the political will and rewards are absent.


I woke, checked out NPR's website, listened in and sure enough, the current government shutdown is being called a "partisan" fight.


It's not a partisan fight.

A faction within one party wants to wreck the US government because they don't like the fact that they keep losing elections.


And until the media report this fundamental truth, then there is no incentive for the 40 or so sane Republicans left to do anything about it.

Then again, the one thing that has changed from 1996 is the presence of social media and the internet.  While this has led to a lack of diversity of viewpoints being read, it also means bypassing some of the traditional filters for news.

On the one hand, the Fox News bubble is stronger than ever.

On the other, I just saw a tumblr thread from someone who is completely apolitical that mocks the shutdown mercilessly (it's where I got the picture above).