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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Trump Is A Great Argument For Hillary

Trump is a target-rich environment for negative campaigning. And Clinton isn't afraid of using a machine gun. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Why Trump Will Not Be President

This is why.

The Collapse Of The Reagan Coalition

The two American political parties are coalition parties.  Because our electoral system only require a plurality rather than a majority, the idea of a permanent third party is folly.  So, both of the two parties try and cobble together a broad coalition of different groups in order to win elections and set policy.

Franklin Roosevelt created an enduring coalition when he wedded working class whites, Southern yellow dogs and Progressive reformers into a coalition that controlled either the White House or the House from 1932-2000, with the exception of 1952-54. Ronald Reagan's political legacy was in creating a coalition that included evangelical voters, traditional Republican business interests, neo-conservatives and racially disgruntled working class whites.  The latter category were known as "Reagan Democrats."  This coalition controlled either the White House or the House from 1980-today, with the exception of 1992-94 and 2008-2010.

What is clear from both parties nominating process is that these old coalitions are dead, and this is especially true on the Republican side.  Obama proved conclusively that a Democrat can win without winning Southern states (though he did win a few).  He created a new coalition of Millennials, college educated whites, liberal city dwellers, the remnants of the unions, non-whites and women, especially single women.  The Democratic nominating convention has been a contest between Sanders - who is mobilizing Millennials, unions and liberals - against Clinton - who is mobilizing women and minorities.  What's significant is that there is overlap between both camps.  With the exceptions of the more radical left wing of the party, it looks like there is decent acceptance of a Clinton nomination.

On the Republican side, what we are witnessing is the collapse of the Reagan Coalition.  Philip Klein does a nice job categorizing this collapse.  The fact is that the Chamber of Commerce Republicans never really cared about the priorities of the evangelicals; they only wanted their votes.  With the loss of the White House, the social conservatives have used their leverage in the House to bring this schism into the opening.

What Trump has done is to latch on the Declension Faction within the GOP.  Fueled by the non-stop doomsaying of Fox News, this group of conservatives believes that everything is shitty and getting worse by the minute.  And for many of the white working class, this isn't really an exaggeration.  Things have been getting worse for them.  And they see advances by minorities and women as an assault in a zero-sum game of economic warfare.  This leads to the profound irony of Donald Trump feeding off the hysteria created by Fox News, but then turning around and using that cultural resentment in his attacks on Megyn Kelly.  Trump has been compared to Frankenstein's monster on more than one occasion, and it's apt.

The Chamber of Commerce/Establishment Republicans have been ginning up outrage and fear over social and economic change to mobilize voters to vote for economic policies that violate their basic self-interest.  Bernie Sanders - naively - believes he can win those voters back without acknowledging that their economic circumstances have effectively become a status anxiety crisis divorced from economics.  It's NOT just the economy, stupid.   The problem the GOP is waking up to is that they have unleashed this angry, dysfunctional part of their coalition, and it is devouring them.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Youth Voters

Booman has a piece about young voters getting disillusioned with democracy.

I wrote the following comment, which I am cutting and pasting because I'm lazy:

I've been teaching for two decades, and I have to say - with all the grumpy, get-off-my-lawn crustiness I can muster - that young people are really self-centered.  Not in the same way that a self-centered asshole like Ted Cruz is self-centered, but they are basically rooted in their own experiences and little beyond that.  And their own experience is very narrow.
So, when Obama comes along, he's the first ever of his kind, because they didn't live through Kennedy or Clinton or even Reagan who could light up a room with charisma.  I remember telling my students in 2009, "Given what you've invested in him, get ready for Obama to disappoint you."  I've spent my adult life studying and teaching history and government, so when I come face to face with the institutional constraints of a presidential-congressional system, I'm not disillusioned, because I've seen that movie.
When my kid was three, he'd freak out when you cut his hairs and nails, because he thought they would never grow back.  Growing up is realizing that what you think are traumas at 16 are just Thursdays when you're 46.  As Phil Connor says in Groundhog Day, "Maybe God's not omniscient.  Maybe he's just been around so long, nothing surprises him."
I haven't been around that long, but I know enough to realize that this song has been played before.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ezra Klein On Clinton

Ezra Klein writes a good piece summarizing the differences between Clinton and Sanders and how Obama fits into that dynamic.

The one issue I have with it, is that Klein is fairly sloppy with his use of "liberal" and "progressive" treating them as essentially interchangeable with each other and with Sanders supporters.  The use of "liberal" and "progressive" by the more leftward reaches of the Democratic party is an interesting and complex one.  "Liberal" had been made toxic by the politics of the '80s and '90s, so many liberals adopted progressive as a label that was both accurate and fresh.  Liberals wanted progress.

Sanders supporters don't want progress, they want a revolution.  They are sick of the institutional limits that bind and degrade progressive change.  Liberals - like Clinton and her defenders, including Jon Chait and Paul Krugman - believe in the slow and steady grind of generational change.  Obama, for the most part, has come to believe this, too.  He certainly believed this after 2011.

But there are those on the Left - cosseted in their insular groups in much the same way the Far Right is - who believe that with just a little more bully pulpit the nation will reveal its radical roots.  That way of thinking strikes me as being historically and politically illiterate.  Klein perhaps doesn't stress that point, but it needs to be stressed.

The Left - as opposed to liberals - imagines they live in a country that does not, in fact, exist.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Remember The Arab Spring?

This is a really good take on why it failed.

Shorter version: Democracy is not "elections" or the absence of a dictator.  Democracy is civil society and an independent bureaucracy and judiciary.  These things did not exist in the Arab world (outside of Tunisia) and do not exist there.  They don't exist in Russia either, and China wants to make sure that they don't exist there, too.

When the Saudi regime collapses - and it will collapse someday - it will create a howling wasteland.

Good times.


While I am glad that federal authorities have finally acted in the case of the Malheur felons, I am not happy that Lavoy Finicum was killed.  While he was a crank and potentially used foster children for income, he didn't deserve death.  He deserved a jail cell.

This becomes one of those cases where perspective and proportion are badly needed and will likely be sorely lacking.

Lavoy Finicum is not Tamir Rice or Sandra Bland.  Finicum was actively and brazenly breaking the law.  While the circumstances of his death are not clear, the fact that shots were exchanged makes him and his situation categorically different from Rice or Bland or Michael Brown or Walter Scott or John Crawford.  I have no doubt that the presence of better trained FBI agents as opposed to trigger happy local PD with anger issues had a great deal to do with that.

When Deray McKesson spoke out our school, he distilled the basic message of Black Lives Matter: "We want fewer people killed by cops."  That should be a message that everyone can agree on.  Seven people were arrested, one was killed.  That one death is sad for his family and his friends, and I wish it hadn't happened.

But I am glad that this particular brand of right wing anarchism has finally been confronted by law enforcement.  The Bundy brand of armed defiance of the law can't be allowed to continue.  If this is the first step in ending it, then so be it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Read This

Tell me it's wrong.

Where Sanders Lost Me

There are things to like about Bernie Sanders.  His strengths - a blunt candor that is equal parts Brooklyn and Vermont - are Clinton's weaknesses.  But his weakness is Clinton's strength.  The problem is that her strengths are not the sort of thing that soar with the lyricism of the base of the party.

Sanders lost me when he started talking about revolution.

I've spent a fair amount of time studying revolutions - from the American to the French, the Mexican, the Russian, the Chinese and the Iranian.  I have come to one inescapable conclusion: Revolutions don't work.

"But the American Revolution worked!"

The War for Independence was won, but the more revolutionary impulses were sidelined at the Constitutional Convention.  What happened instead was 50 years of democratic evolution, culminating in the Age of Jackson and the rise of popular democracy - that was evolutionary rather than revolutionary.  And evolutionary change is precisely the change that Obama and now Clinton have promised.  Evolutionary change is at the heart of liberal philosophy.

The other revolutions fall into the same pattern: dramatic, violent and profound change that engenders a backlash and eventually becomes the thing it tried to overthrow.  Louis XVI becomes the Reign of Terror.  The Porfiriato becomes the PRI.  The czar becomes the Party Secretary.  The emperor becomes Mao.  The Shah becomes the Ayatollah.

Even evolutionary change creates its own backlash, but just as evolutionary change entails more moderate change, it entails a more moderate backlash.  Evolutionary change is two steps forward, one step back.  Revolutionary change is ten steps forward, ten steps back.

The most revolutionary period in this country was likely Reconstruction.  And while the persistent obstruction and racism of Andrew Johnson subverted any hope of positive change, the fact is, that change happened at a speed that the political system had difficulty coping with.  It did, obviously, set the stage for the civil rights movement a hundred years later, but few would argue that it enjoyed immediate success.

Sanders has invested this campaign with needed left wing populism to counterbalance the right wing populism of Il Douche and the Trumpenproletariat.  But he should not be allowed to be the nominee, because his basic political idea of change is beyond suspect.  It is non-functional.

And Sometimes The Universe Smiles

A fascinating tactic has characterized right wing media groups in the Obama years: doctored video.  Mostly associated with Breitbart's Mausoleum of Otherwise Unemployables and bottom-feeding sewer dweller James O'Keefe, this tactic recently surfaced with regards to Planned Parenthood and their disposal of fetal tissue after abortion.

Governor Greg Abbot - the latest troglodyte coughed up by the fever swamps of Texas conservatism - demanded an investigation of whether Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue in violation of the law.  Unsurprisingly, given Planned Parenthood's reputation, no wrong doing by this group was found.  However, the idiots who conducted this "video sting" have been indicted.

That's just so perfect on so many levels....

Monday, January 25, 2016


As we approach the Iowa Caucus, some ink is being spilled - as it is every four years - about why in the world we let this state have such an outsized influence on our selection of President.  Iowa is representative of...well, Iowa.  And caucuses are lunatic carnivals.

Hillary Clinton has to sweat out Iowa, because if Sanders wins there, he wins in New Hampshire.  And she will need not just wins, but dominant wins in South Carolina and Nevada to right the ship.  I hope that the Democratic process goes on for a while, because Clinton needs the work on her campaign tactics - her recent jabs at Sanders have been characteristically clumsy. But I worry about Sanders' viability as a general election candidate.  If it's Sanders vs Trump, then Bloomberg jumps in and suddenly a Trump presidency becomes thinkable.

On the GOP side, the caucus might actually start to winnow the field, which would be helpful.  But what if Ted Cruz wins?  A number of outlets have tried to create a database of articles and interviews that catalog just how big an asshole Ted Cruz is.  It's proved so overwhelming a task, it might require a full time team just to keep up.

But if Cruz doesn't win Iowa (or at least run a really strong second), I'm not sure how he remains viable as a candidate.

So, Iowa - irrelevant and incredibly relevant all at once.  Personally, I would love it if Iowa moved to a primary and held their contest on the same day as New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.  That way you represent the Northeast, Midwest, South and West all in one day, all in small states.  That would be infinitely more interesting, representative and fair.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Police State

German Lopez has written really well about the issues with policing in America.  This piece does a nice job explaining why the problems that we have with police are not entirely the fault of bad policing but bad policy.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Perils Of The Bubble

The RNC is disinviting The National Review from their next debate....after disinviting NBC.  Let's face it, The National Review is just too screamingly leftist for the Klown Kar known as the Republican field.

Trump has proven remarkably immune from attack.  Most candidates seemed to think he will flame out, so they didn't attack him.  Now he's in a commanding position, and they are afraid of him.

But once he emerges into the open field of competition, he's going to get ripped to pieces for being the vulgarian, incoherent, ignorant, incompetent blowhard that he is.  He's simply not ready for this.  He will have the undying loyalty of his 30% of the population, and many other Republicans will fall in line, but shielding him from The National Review is just postponing the inevitable.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Falling In Line

James Carville famously said that "Democrats need to fall in love, Republicans just need to fall in line."  There is increasingly mounting evidence that the GOP is falling in line behind Donald Trump. Since they hate Ted Cruz with a white-hot passion and Marco Rubio seems to be sleepwalking through his campaign, there are fewer and fewer options.  If Trump rides the endorsement of Caribou Barbie and Phyllis Schlafly to a win in Iowa, then Cruz is toast.  A win in New Hampshire and suddenly Trump is looking like the nominee.

As I wrote yesterday, I think a Trump nomination is legitimately scary for the fabric of American civil society, which is already so frayed.  While I doubt that he would govern from the extreme positions he has staked out from the stump, I'm also convinced he's a blithering idiot.  If Dubya was C+ Augustus, then Trump is Nero without the musical ability.

What will bear watching is how the GOP accommodates itself to the Donald's extreme positions on immigration and other civil rights' issues.  Will Trump move to the center if he wins the nomination?  Can he?  He has fairly heterodox positions for a Republican on issues such as Social Security and taxing the rich. Trump said in the past that if he ever ran for President it would be as a Republican, because the GOP voters are stupid.  (I'm not making that up.)  If he still believes that, then whatever he's saying now might be jettisoned by the convention.

But the damage is done in large parts of America.  And this is before anyone has really laid into him, at least on substantive issues.  Attacks on Trump have all come from the fantasy lands of the GOP fever swamps.  The fact that he literally has no idea what he's talking about has to hurt him when he's on a stage with Hillary Clinton....doesn't it?  And what might a Trump-Sanders contest look like?  Both are "shouting at the right buildings" but can Sanders lay the wood on Trump?  Can he be as nasty as he needs to be?

Ultimately, it comes down to the electoral math.  If you look at this electoral college map,  they list the following states as "swing states": NH, PA, OH, WI, IA, VA, NC, FL, CO and NV.

First off, Pennsylvania isn't a swing state anymore.  Not in Presidential elections.  So, if we give PA to the Dems, that gives them 237 of a needed 270 electoral votes.  Maybe Trump's unique appeal makes PA competitive, but Philly and Pittsburgh will vote overwhelmingly against Trump.

Second, if Trump runs the following states are going to move to the Dems: CO and NV.  There just isn't any way that the Hispanic voters in those states don't crawl over ground glass to vote against Trump.

Which brings us to Florida.  Florida's fastest growing demographic is non-Cuban Hispanics.  And frankly, Trump might even flip younger Cubans over to the Democrats.

That means Clinton - if it's her - can win the Presidency without winning Ohio, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia or North Carolina.  The reality is that she will probably do quite well in Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Hampshire.  I could see Trump winning Ohio, though.  He should outperform Romney in the Rust Belt and underperform Romney in the Hispanic heavy electorates.

The question is: What damage does he do to the country and the GOP before he is done?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Trump Isn't Funny Anymore

You should go read this story about a guy who went to a Trump rally.  It's funny in a sardonic, can-you-believe-this-shit sort of way.  A lot of the people at the rally were easily mockable, so they were mocked.

But as the author slowly realizes, this really isn't funny.  First of all, Trump is literally incoherent.  His remarks have no cohesion, no progression from point to point, no facts, no basis in reality and no basic grammatical structure.  He should be a joke.  To paraphrase Henry Adams, Trump should have been an impossibility, he should have lived in a cave and worn skins.

But right now, he's about as plausible a GOP nominee as you can imagine.  Does anyone really thing Tailgunner Ted Cruz can unify the party around him?  Does Marco Rubio have a plan?  Is Jeb Bush awake yet?

And the tone of these rallies is really, really disturbing.  And that's why Trump isn't funny anymore.  He's basically giving license to the worst impulses of the angry white guys who got screwed over by Wall Street and blames it on the Mexicans and blacks.  He's channeling their racial resentment into a movement that is perfectly OK beating up protesters.

It's no longer hyperbolic to compare these things to fascism.

And with the endorsement of fellow grifter and mental incompetent Sarah "Bible Spice" Palin, Trump is really in a place where he might actually win Iowa.  And then New Hampshire.  Ezra Klein has written persuasively that a Trump defeat would happen because Trump loses.  And since his campaign is based on being a winner, defeat might have the effect of undermining his entire appeal.  But he has to lose first, and locking up the Talibangelicals would go a long way towards putting him on a winning streak.

And what's truly scary in the short run is that Trump's willingness to violate every taboo, ignore every norm will combine with the Republican tendency to back whatever their nominee or party supports.  Once Trump rips the lid off the racially infused white resentment and gives it full flower and voice, that will become the positions of one of America's major political parties.

The GOP has already demonstrated that it is barely more than a coalesced tantrum against the 21st century.  Cleek's Law is in full force.  Anything Democrats do is inherently wrong.  Negotiate the release of American sailors and political prisoners in Iran?  That's weakness!  And as much as you want to scream WTF! at these people, they constitute about 45% of the American public.

Trump can't win.  I believe that.  But he can do damage simply being who he is and having the GOP follow his lead.  In the end, a Trump nomination will cement the doom of the Republican party among millenials, Hispanics and women.

But he could do real damage to our already fraying social fabric before he is done.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Lead Poisoning

The situation in Flint makes me sick to my stomach. As someone who has a child who may have been exposed to lead as a toddler and has some educational impairments, the idea of an entire city being lead poisoned is just mind boggling.

Of course, inner cities have always have elevated levels of lead, and those elevated lead levels could be a significant factor in lower test scores, violent behavior and thus poverty.  Add in a little mercury and you're creating brain damage in generations of kids.

But I'm sure drug testing food stamp recipient will solve all that.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Children Are Our Future

We are in the middle of a really interesting day and week.  Last Monday, we had a provocative and remarkably respectful school discussion on race and white privilege.  Today, obviously, we are observing Martin Luther King Day.  I just left a discussion over what it meant to be Muslim in America and how we should view Muslims.

Change comes slowly.  It is often generational.

While there is nothing especially virtuous about these young people, they are at least wrestling with questions of respect and inclusion and empathy that are so alien to the Trumpenproletariat, that these ideas might as well be from Mars.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

American Politics In A Nutshell

Iran released four prisoners who had joint US-Iranian citizenship, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian.

GOP: Why is Iran humiliating us by arresting people in Iran!?!

Rest of the World: WTF?

Seriously...Thanks, Obama.

The Internet Makes Us Angry

This is completely anecdotal and unscientific, but over the past six weeks or so the message board that I frequented to talk/complain about the Braves has been shut down for some reason.

And even though nothing has changed about the Braves situation in that time period, I am considerably less angry about the state of my favorite team.  I'm no longer angrily shouting into the void about their decision to tear everything down and be cheap with free agents.  I'm no longer engaged in hours long, pointless arguments that usually succeed only in reinforcing my positions rather than expanding them.

A lot has been written about how angry America is right now.

I wonder if the Internet isn't changing the way we process anger.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Fact Free

The amount of calumny, distortion, ignorance and outright lying on display in the GOP debates is truly terrifying to behold.

The idea that Obama created the financial crisis of 2008...The idea that Iran humiliated us by handing back our sailors who were in their territorial waters before the snacks that the Iranians gave them were fully digested....The idea that illegal immigration is worse than ever, when it's at historic lows....The idea that Obamacare is costing jobs, when unemployment is approaching '90s levels....The idea that Obamacare isn't making health care cheaper and more accessible....The idea our military is in decline, or that we are less respected in the world.

These are all false and objectively so.  The World is NOT on fire.

I could say that this is a manifestation of Trumpism, but really Trump is simply the GOP's indoor voice shouting out loud.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

That Escalated Quickly

Turns out there are serious questions as to whether Ted Cruz really is eligible to become President.

Personally, I feel that we should more permissive of who we allow to be President rather than stricter, but this feel like two things.  First, the hatred everyone in DC has of Ted Cruz.  Second, an interesting case of historical irony.  The same mouthbreathers who peddled nonsense about Obama are suddenly caught with their preferred candidate ACTUALLY having his status in doubt.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Feel The Bern!

Reading this profile of Sanders' voters in Iowa, I can only marvel that so many Nader voters are still around.

Politics isn't dysfunctional because Obama didn't do grassroot organizing.  Politics is dysfunctional because of polarization and people putting party over country and hard evidence.  Politics is dysfunctional because of the Republicans.

Obama is disappointing to the Left, because the Left will always be disappointed.  Because no one can meet their impossibly high standards.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Obama has done a shitload.

It will be interesting to see the bounce he gets once he leaves office.  All Presidents get it, once they leave the partisan battlefield, but are we too polarized to see what an extraordinary legacy this man has created?

Monday, January 11, 2016


I wake up every morning to Lyle Lovett's If You Were To Wake Up, and yet this morning, as soon as I hit the off button, I had the tune Starman in my head.

And then I read the news.

That was weird.

Like a great many people, I imagine, I liked to David Bowie without really loving him.  I don't think I ever bought an album of his, back when people bought albums.  But when iTunes came out, I wound up buying a lot of his songs.

The world is a little less strange today, and that's legitimately sad.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Live By The Birther, Die By The Birther

There is some reportage out there that Ted Cruz's mom was a Canadian citizen.  The reporting is not conclusive, however, and raises some interesting questions, few of which can have a definitive answer.

The basic gist is that Raphael Cruz - Ted's dad - was a Cuban emigre to Canada, but he married an American - Eleanor - and she gave birth to Ted in Calgary.  As long as she remained an American citizen, Ted was an American citizen.  But if she was Canadian, then Cruz is Canadian, and thus can't be President.

Generally speaking, this is a small, small issue.  It's not like they were living in the Soviet Union; it was Canada.  And the "proof" is simply a Canadian official going door to door asking questions.

But there is someone pushing this story.  Cruz has vaulted into the "Not Trump" candidate of the moment.  Could this be Trump's people?  If Trump can win Iowa, he looks very strong in New Hampshire.  South Carolina looks plausible, too.  Trump had gone Birther before with Obama, why not again?

But the GOP establishment also hates Cruz.  However, knee-capping Cruz would only seem to empower Trump.

Personally, I think Cruz is the plausible candidate that Democrats would most like to run against.  He's a hard right ideologue with the personality of a raspberry seed that gets stuck in your teeth.  To know Ted Cruz is to hate Ted Cruz.

But someone seems to be trying to proactively delegitimize him.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Cleek's Law

Cleek's Law is an internet thing from Balloon Juice that basically says: "Conservative beliefs consist entirely of the opposite of what liberals believe, updated hourly."

While that's glib, it's hard not to believe it when you read that an Arizona Republican - the home of Barry Goldwater - wants to ban videotaping within 20 feet of police.

Because why else would the party of small government and libertarian impulses be interested in this, except that liberal believe the opposite.

The modern GOP: A sustained tantrum against the 21st Century.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Consequential Man

Ta-Nahesi Coates once said - as an African American - of Barack Obama: "We never had to apologize for him."  Unlike Bill Clinton's personal faults and Jimmy Carter's policy problems, Barack Obama has not done anything that would normally heap contumely upon him.  Unless you watch Fox and then all bets are off.  I mean really.

Assessing a president's legacy during his term in office is inherently difficult.  Take George Dubya.  By an objective measure, his invasion of Iraq only looks worse over time, as it has lead to the disintegration of the Middle East into a sectarian war zone.  That is a direct consequence of his invasion of Iraq, and it makes him look worse.  Same goes for the Crash of '08.

So assessing Obama's presidency while he's still in office is inherently tricky.  But Michael Grunwald at Politico gives it a shot.  He restricts himself - wisely - to domestic policy, since foreign policy can often take years to play out properly.  Eisenhower, for instance, looks much better in foreign policy given the perspective of time.

What Grunwald chronicles is a really impressive array of policy that has dramatically shifted a great deal of American society.  Without really grappling with whether these changes are good or not - they are framed in a way to let you draw your own conclusions - there is no doubt that they are profound.

And largely invisible.

One program Grunwald cites is a regulatory change that will increase the efficiency of commercial air conditioners.  Once implemented, this measure alone will reduce US energy consumption by 1%.  Just one measure, and, yes, just 1%.  But the US is the world's largest energy consumer, so 1% is a huge deal from one small measure.

And there are many more.  Not just the big stuff like ACA or the pricing changes it has wrought in the health care industry.  Not just beginning to wrest the Supreme Court from the hands of ideologues.  Not just preventing the collapse of the global economy.  In fact, the article digs into the small aspects of the Stimulus that have made a tremendous difference in our lives since 2009, from the revitalization of the auto industry to the boom in alternative energy.

It's really an impressive and comprehensive read.

And it won't change a single mind.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Please To Go Away

Debbie Wasserman Schultz is arguably the worst DNC chair in my lifetime, and that list includes Terry McAuliffe.

The DNC won't get a dime of my money until it becomes a vehicle for creating and empowering state parties to compete at all levels of elections and gets on the right side of issues.  DWS is a disgrace.

The Idiot Chorus

I have read that the reason North Korea exploded a nuclear device (apparently NOT an H bomb, according to seismic experts) is that Obama....  Iran, maybe?  I dunno.

Obama's perceived weakness among Republicans is such an article of faith that ANYTHING that happens in the world is assumed to be caused by his weakness.  The current escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are actually being laid at the feet of the Iran nuke deal, which conservatives are saying is failing - even as Iran turned over all the required enriched uranium to Russia.

So, Iran turns over its enriched uranium.

Saudi Arabia executes a political dissident to prove that it's just as butch as ISIS.

Iranians riot at the Saudi embassy.

The Saudis break off diplomatic relations with Iran.

And it's Obama's fault?

North Korea developed their nuclear program under George W. Bush, by the way, but it's Obama's foreign policy that....allowed them to build a different nuclear weapon?

I don't know, I don't speak Pants Wetting Coward.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Two Stories

The big story is, of course, Yokel Haram seizing a federal building in Oregon. The guys of VanillaISIS have basically taken all the language of white grievance and turned it into a lesson of white privilege.  As many have said, imagine if these guys were Black Panthers.

This morning, on my wife's NPR, they were interviewing an immigration activist protesting the rounding up on Central Americans for deportation.  These immigrants had been given a certain amount of time to justify why they should be allowed to stay, and having failed to do so, are being deported.  The immigration activist called this police state tactics and tyranny.

Which is exactly the language that the Yall Qaeda yahoos are using.

In an age of a la carte television, Uber apps and Amazon overnight shipping, we have increasingly frayed the edges of the shared experience of community.  We no longer think of the whole, but rather our individual place and privilege.  This is reflected in the naked selfishness of those who oppose Obamacare but love Medicare as well as those college activists who want to strip away names and history because an ancient name carries ancient sins that upset these individuals.

What this means in terms of Malheur and immigration is that there is no longer an even basic respect for the rule of law.  And that's really troubling.

Yes, the federal land bureaucracy is maddeningly lodge in inertial stasis.  Yes, it's sad that we can't accept these families fleeing the violence of Central America.  But there are laws, people.  And those laws apply to all of us.  We don't get to pick which laws we abide by.  That's not part of the deal.

Monday, January 4, 2016

In Case You Missed It

While we are all focused on Yokel Haram taking over government buildings, Saudi Arabia and Iran have broken off diplomatic relations, which is kind of surprising, since I didn't know that HAD diplomatic relations.

This sort of move is typically a prelude to war, and everyone loses if that is the case. If you are trying to weigh which regime is more evil, less liberal and crueler to its subjects, it's VERY hard to declare a definitive bad guy.  We have historical ties with Saudi Arabia and historical enmity with Iran stretching back to 1979, but in recent years, it has been the Saudis who have propped up Al Qaeda and ISIL.

If it weren't for the havoc that might be wreaked on the global economy, this is like a Saints-Panthers game: I would be rooting for injuries.  As it is, we will undoubtedly be pulled in on the side of the House of Saud, which is a damned shame, because those guys are awful.

The Saudi decision to execute yet another political dissident - this time a Shia cleric - is what has prompted this.  That decision is not doubt based on the Saudis continued fear of their "right flank" with the religious extremists that they have crawled into bed with.  They killed that guy to look tough for ISIL and other Sunni extremists, now they may touch off a sectarian war that will stretch from Syria to the Straits of Hormuz.

Maybe this is an inevitable end result of the toppling of Saddam Hussein, but we are once again being dragged back into the sand box.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Riddle Me This

Would this story turn out any differently if the guys with guns had been Black Panthers?  Or Islamists?

Why should we allow lawlessness on this scale, just because this yahoos are armed and white?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Well. This Should Be Interesting

Apparently the NSA has been snooping on Bibi Netanyahu. And apparently this led to them overhearing the Israelis plotting with members of Congress to scuttle the Iran deal. 

The NSA blacked out any references that would've identified the members of Congress, but the current story on the Right is that the White House was spying on Congress. 

Seems to me, the real story is that some in Congress were conspiring with a foreign government against the Executive Branch. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

This Is A Big F-ing Deal

If Matt Bevin discovers that he can't eliminate the Medicaid expansion in Kentucky, that will go a long way towards proving that ACA is here to stay.  Republicans can still screw it up if they get complete control of the national government - making it an even bigger giveaway towards insurance companies, for instance, or ruining its finances because the GOP don't do math - but this is a possible big test of the survivability of the act.

Turns out it works. Turns out it's popular.