Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MAYBE BEING A REPUBLICAN IS MORE OF A PROBLEM FOR JEB BUSH THAN BEING A BUSH

The conventional wisdom about Jeb Bush, at least in some circles, is that he'd be an extremely strong candidate for Republicans in 2016 ... if only it weren't for that darn surname. He'd be a shoo-in if he weren't a Bush!

Well, a new Washington Post/ABC poll -- the second part of a survey in which, as we learned yesterday, President Obama gets low marks -- tells us not only that Hillary Clinton would beat Jeb by double digits if the 2016 presidential election were held today, she wouldn't win because he's a Bush:
In a hypothetical matchup, Clinton leads former Florida governor Jeb Bush -- seen by many GOP establishment figures as the party's strongest general-election candidate -- 53 percent to 41 percent.

Clinton's commanding position is fueled by large leads over Bush with female, non-white and young voters. The poll found that neither Clinton nor Bush appears to be weighed down by a dynastic family name. Sixty-six percent of all Americans say they view the Clinton family favorably, while 54 percent have a favorable opinion of the Bushes.
So there goes the lie that Jeb is the guy we really want as president, but we foolishly refuse to vote for him because we hold the actions of his relatives against him. We don't -- we just don't want him.

Or at least the Democratic coalition doesn't, by a considerable margin:
Non-white voters overwhelmingly favor Clinton, 74 percent to 20 percent. Clinton also holds substantial leads among women (59 percent to 36 percent) and among voters between ages 18 and 39 (61 percent to 33 percent).
So much for the notion that the coalition is turning away from Democrats because of Obama.

Oh, and Jeb, in order to win the nomination, would probably have to overcorrect for previous moderate positions, and pick an unpalatable extremist as a running mate -- y'know, just like McCain and Romney. So I feel pretty good about this matchup.

*****

There's a lot in this poll about the race for the 2016 GOP nomination. (Short summary: the race is really wide open.) What amuses me is the huge gender gap in Rand Paul's support:





Paul is 7 points ahead of the rest of the field among men -- and tied for fourth, 8 points behind the leader, among women.

This isn't the first time there's been a big gender gap in his polling numbers. As the site Prez16 noted last April:
In this month's Public Policy Polling survey of national GOP primary voters, Paul win 22% of men (tied for first place) but only 12% of women (fifth place).

The story was the same in last month's Quinnipiac University poll of national GOP primary voters. Paul nabbed 18% of men (2nd place) but only 11% of women.

In limited state polling, we're seeing the same thing. For example, in PPP's poll of Pennsylvania, Paul won, once again, 22% of men, but only 11% of women.

In PPP's survey of Wisconsin, he took 12% of men and only 5% of women.
Prez16 noted that the gender gap appeared only after Paul's drone filibuster. But that was a long time ago, and it's still in place.

So Rand Paul really is a dude phenomenon. (Dudebro phenomenon?) Yeah, shocking, I know.
MORE ON THE CULTURE OF LIFE IN OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma: it's home not only to botched executions, but also to this:
ELK CITY, Okla., April 28 (UPI) -- The way a Little League team in Oklahoma is raising money for equipment and travel hasn't been a hit with many members of the local community.

The Elk City Outlaws have come under fire for raffling off an AR-15 rifle....
If you've got a problem with that, you're just a damn city slicker:
"I can see where those parents have concerns especially if they weren't brought up around here," said parent Andy Shelton. "For some people guns are just not their thing, but for people out here it's a popular sport, hobby and activity that a lot of families enjoy."
Yeah -- an AR-15 Del-Ton? Why, they should sell that baby at Toys "R" Us!





My favorite comment from a parent:
"I ended up getting my son a little bitty 22 when he was four years old," Christy Ham said. "We enjoy guns and teach our kids safety."
It's a heartland thing. You just don't understand.

Here's a TV news report from local station KFOR:





Well, a few days ago we had a guy in Georgia with a visibly holdstered gun taunting Little Leaguers and their parents in Georgia.
"He's just walking around [saying] 'See my gun? Look, I got a gun and there's nothing you can do about it.' He knew he was frightening people. He knew exactly what he was doing," said parent Karen Rabb.
I guess the only thing that stops a Little Leaguer-taunting bad man with a handgun is a good Little League parent with an assault weapon ... right?
SO I GUESS NO ONE ON THE RIGHT IS COMPARING V. STIVIANO TO GANDHI
(updated)


I'm amused to see that the fallback argument of the right in the Donald Sterling case is that we should be more concerned about the violation of Sterling's privacy than about his remarks and his conduct. Yes, it seems likely that Sterling was taped in violation of California's two-party consent law. If that leads to a criminal punishment comparable to whatever's happened in similar situations, fine. (I imagine there aren't a lot of folks doing hard time in San Quentin on a taping-my-scumbag-significant-other rap.)

But, um, aren't right-wingers the folks who made James O'Keefe a hero? And Linda Tripp a heroine? And don't they love lawbreaking when it serves a higher law? One right-wing commentator compared Cliven Bundy to King, Gandhi, Jefferson, FDR, Washington, Thoreau, Paul Revere, and the guys who died at the Alamo. Donald Sterling's remarks were abhorrent, as even right-wing commntators piously note when they talk about the story -- but I guess that doesn't mean V. Stiviano is Gandhi. Have I got that correct, righties?

So there's this:

And at NBA commissioner Adam Silver's press conference yesterday there was Jovan Lien, a producer for Megyn Kelly's show on Fox News. Lien echoed remarks made by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban:
"Should someone lose their team for remarks shared in private?" she asked. "Is this a slippery slope?"

"Whether or not these remarks were initially shared in private, they are now public," Silver explained. "And they represent his views."
And, ultimately, there was Megyn Kelly herself, on her show last night.





A couple of highlights:
MEGYN KELLY: The question tonight: No one is defending the remarks. Nobody is defending the remarks. The question is whether the deprivation of his property rights, in terms of his ownership rights of a sports team, you know, his financial livelihood, and the swift condemnation by every corner, basically taking away his livelihood, is a slippery slope, as Mark Cuban suggested.
His livelihood? Donald Sterling is one of the thousand richest men in the world, with a net worth of $1.9 billion. If he's forced to sell the Clippers, he's selling a team he bought for $12 million in 1981 and that's now valued at $575 billion million, with some speculating that its price tag could be $1 billion. His livelihood? Seriously, Megyn?
KELLY: ... is this the future of America, where private conversations between two people who are supposedly in a relationship wind up going public and then somebody who makes clearly inappropriate remarks, to put it charitably, has everything taken away from him?
Everything! Everything is being taken away from Sterling! With no compensation! (Apart from, y'know, that billion or so.)

Kelly addresses this question to sports agent Steve Olenick, who replies.
STEVE OLENICK: Megyn, I think you're spot-on. I think this potentially becomes the norm. I mean, look at this. If this happens to Mr. Sterling, this potentially could happen to anybody.
Anybody! This could happen to any ordinary schlubby American couple, because TMZ would be equally interested in our arguments!

Donald Sterling is a public figure. People like Sterling have had their dirty laundry aired in public for as long as there's been mass media. You want to deal with the legal ramifications on this? Fine. You want to put real teeth in the taping law, or in its enforcement, so people genuinely fear the consequences of doing something like this? Sure, let's have that conversation. But as long as we don't severely punish the making and publishing of tapes like this, information about the rich and famous that we weren't supposed to know will get out, as it always has. And the court of public opinion doesn't have the same rules of evidence as courts of law -- which is fine.

****

UPDATE: Oh, this is rich -- a blooger blogger is upset about privacy at The American Spectator, which still exists only because it's dining out on its reputation as the media epicenter of Clinton-era panty-sniffing. So, Emmett Tyrrell, do we get a do-over on the '90s now, with you guys declaring Clinton a privacy martyr? (Via Clark Stooksbury.)


****

UPDATE: I wonder how far the right would be willing to go on privacy. How about that Texas family law judge whose brutal beating of his daughter was secretly videotaped by the daughter, then posted online? The video went viral, and the judge was suspended for a time, then lost his judgeship in an election last month. Should we have fretted about that sadist's right to privacy, according to conservatives? Wait, never mind -- I think I know the answer.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A LAW UNTO THEMSELVES

This is creepy:
Sheriff urged to clamp down on armed militiamen around Bundy ranch

A growing number of Bunkerville residents want to see the armed militiamen guarding rancher Cliven Bundy leave Nevada, according to a letter from Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., to Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie.

Horsford, whose congressional district includes Bunkerville, wrote that his constituents are concerned about Bundy supporters carrying weapons near local churches, schools and elsewhere....
Wait, it gets worse.
The letter also says militiamen have a presence on state and local roads as well as federal highways. In some areas, according to the letter, militiamen have set up checkpoints where drivers are stopped and asked to provide a proof of residency....
There's no government for these people, except what suits them. There's no law, except what they agree with. Even if you think border enforcement is the absolute #1 priority for the U.S. government, with everything else a distant second, which one of us got to vote on designating these clowns as our new Border Patrol?

You can argue that these self-appointed substitutes for legally constituted law enforcement agencies are taking the Declaration of Independence seriously -- "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it" and all that -- but they decide who constitutes "the people," and they don't care that the majority of us, however dissatisfied we might be, didn't ask for a revolution, and certainly didn't ask them to be our vanguard army, or to choose the issues over which the fighting should take place.

There's going to more of this until they finally get a GOP government -- Republican presidents always make a point of attacking whatever liberals like, or whatever they think we like; that calms the self-appointed revolutionaries down, quenching the revanchist thirst. Until they get that, though, they're going to keep doing things like this.


(Via Joshua Holland.)
IF ONLY OBAMA WERE AS POPULAR AS THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

So ... that Washington Post/ABC poll that's so horrible for the Democrats going into this year's midterms? Let's look at some of its results:
Overall, which party, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans), do you trust to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years?

* Democrats by 6.

Which political party, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans), do you trust to do a better job handling The economy? (half sample)


* Democrats by 3.

Which political party, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans), do you trust to do a better job handling Health care? (half sample)

* Democrats by 8.

Which political party, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans), do you trust to do a better job handling Immigration issues? (half sample)

* Democrats by 6.

Which political party, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans), do you trust to do a better job handling Helping the middle class? (half sample)

* Democrats by 20.

Which political party, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans), do you trust to do a better job handling Issues that are especially important to women? (half sample)

* Democrats by 30.

Which political party is closer to your own opinion on the issue of abortion, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans)?

* Democrats by 8.

Which political party is closer to your own opinion on the issue of gay marriage, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans)?

* Democrats by 14.

Which political party is closer to your own opinion on the issue of whether or not to raise the minimum wage, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans)?

* Democrats by 16.

Which political party is closer to your own opinion on the issue of global warming, also known as climate change, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans)?

* Democrats by 18.
Yes, this is being called a bad poll for Democrats. It would be understandable if you wondered what would constitute a good poll for Democrats.

Unfortunately for Democrats, President Obama gets weak numbers (41% approval, 52% disapproval). He gets lousy marks on the economy (42%/54%), Russia and Ukraine (34%/46%), and health care (37%/57%).

But ponder that last data point for a second -- Obama is at –20 on health care, but Democrats are favored over Republicans on health care by 8 points (see above). That tells me that a lot of people don't think Obama is doing a great job, but still prefer a Democratic approach to health care. (Another new poll, from Kaiser, says 58% of Americans want Obamacare improved and only 35% want it repealed and replaced).

Yes, Democrats are in some trouble this year, based on the Post/ABC poll -- Republican voters are much more motivated to vote, and Republicans get higher marks on spending, the deficit, and guns.

Much is being made of this question:
(Among registered voters) Do you think it's more important (to have the Democrats in charge of Congress, to help support Obama's policies), or (to have the Republicans in charge of Congress, to act as a check on Obama's policies)?

* Republicans 53%, Democrats 39%
But elsewhere in the same poll, Democrats actually have a tiny lead on the generic ballot, 45%/44%.

So when you mention Obama, the six-year blues kick in and voters get restless. When you mention the two parties generically, Democratic ideas mostly still win. That's where we are.
"FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BETTER"

Remember when we thought that Ted Cruz guy, for all his crazy talk, had a fresh, modern approach to conservatism? Remember when we believed he represented a serious break with GOP orthodoxy?

Hey,whatever happened to that guy?
Sen. Ted Cruz called for the resignation of Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday afternoon, criticizing Kerry for reportedly telling world leaders that he fears Israel could become an "apartheid state."

The secretary said in a closed door meeting last week that Israel might transform into an "apartheid state" without a two-state solution to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, according to the Daily Beast. The Texas GOP senator said he read Kerry's comments with "great sadness" ...
Was it really only a year or so ago that we were saying things like this?
But after they relentlessly attacked liberals for their alleged lack of patriotism, neocons must now deal with a conservative movement increasingly led by isolationist liberal haters Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) -- leaders who don't particularly care about Israel, only about the destruction of liberalism.
Ahhh, memories....

Monday, April 28, 2014

HIGH ON THEIR OWN SUPPLY: WHY "DONALD STERLING IS A DEMOCRAT!!!1!1!1" MATTERS

Did I screw up big time over the weekend when I said I'd found political contributions to the RNC by Donald Sterling? Sure I did. Did I make Donald Douglas's weekend? Yeah, you bet.

But I was closer to the truth than Douglas was when he was shrieking that Sterling is a Democrat -- we now know that Sterling has been a registered Republican for at least sixteen years.

I wouldn't care what a blowhard like Douglas thinks if his over-the-top propaganda didn't achieve wide circulation on the right. The problem with Douglas is that supposedly serious people actually take his cranked-past-11 rhetoric seriously. This is the modern right's biggest problem in microcosm.

We had this over the weekend in a National Review post originally titled "Racist Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Is a Democrat":
At the American Power blog, Donald Douglas has an extended discussion of Sterling's donations to liberal causes and the left-leaning commentators who have lauded him in the past.
Actually, that's not what's in Douglas's post -- that's what he says is in it, but the content doesn't match the description. Douglas quotes a deeply skeptical article about Sterling from the L.A. Times, an opinion piece by Earl Ofari Hutchinson urging the NAACP not to give Sterling an award, and a Sports Illustrated story that finds Sterling throwing lavish parties and stiffing a charity. There are no "left-leaning commentators who have lauded him in the past." And Douglas's post doesn't list Sterling's donations to liberal causes, apart from the references to the NAACP -- the SI story tells us,
[Sterling] also enjoys the publicity he's received as a philanthropist. Southern California charities routinely fete Sterling as their Humanitarian of the Year. Since 1997, the title has been accorded him by the Vista Del Mar Orphanage, the Special Olympics, the Los Angeles Yeshiva, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation and the L.A. Police Historical Society.
The L.A. Police Historical Society? The Special Olympics? Liberal?

The charities listed in the L.A. Times article include a couple of inner-city schools, as well as an organization called Para Los Ninos that has investment bankers and white-shoe lawyers on its board. And wait -- it's now liberal to give money to poor schools? I thought private charity was the only kind of additional aid right-wingers thought was appropriate for those schools (in the absence of tax-funded vouchers, of course).

I think the National Review blogger, Tim Cavanaugh, believes he was reading "an extended discussion of Sterling's donations to liberal causes and the left-leaning commentators who have lauded him in the past" because Douglas embeds his quotes in a thick sludge of demagogic bombast that says that's what we're reading, which it isn't, while also telling us that Sterling is the quintessential lefty Dem, even though he obviously isn't. A taste of that demagoguery:
I say it all the time: the Democrat Party is the country's natural home to racists and ethnic eliminationists. And now we have über liberal real estate mogul and sports owner, Democrat Party contributor and philanthropist, Donald T. Sterling in the news with yet another case of vile leftist racial hatred....

Of course! Sterling's a liberal leftist Democrat of the first order!

... Sterling's far-left racist bigotry has been on the public record for a long time.

... the Clippers owner indeed has a long history of philanthropy for a litany of left-wing causes. Sports Illustrated, back in 2000, ran a major feature story on Sterling, critical of his success as an NBA owner but highlighting his liberal philanthropy....

Again, this is just one more case of leftist racism and bigotry....
It's fine if Douglas wants to write like this -- this is a free country. But supposedly serious people should not be treating this kind of hyperbolic, rube-gulling nonsense as credible.

Modern right-wingers actually believe their own distortions of reality. Donald Sterling in't just a bigot who gave a couple of donations to Democrats more than a decade ago -- he's the epitome of the "Democrat" Party! Barack Obama isn't just a somewhat greater believer in government than the average Republican -- he's a card-carrying communist, ideologically indistinguishable from Karl Marx! And so on. The pumped-up nonsense uttered to rev up the base is treated as literal fact. It's group hysteria.

From Douglas to Douglas's retransmitters, the message makes its way to Rush Limbaugh:
Look, this Donald Sterling business, I have to tell you something, folks, this is not news to anybody who has known of this guy. I was telling Mr. Snerdley this morning, this guy's a big Democrat. The only reason he's in trouble right now is he did not give enough money to Obama. This guy was gonna get a leadership award from the NAALCP LA chapter, the second one. This guy is a typical Hollywood Democrat.
How dos a country function when it has two major parties, and one is built on mass delusion?
PALIN PROBABLY GOT HER WATERBOARDING REMARK THE SAME WAY YOUR UNCLE GETS ALL THOSE E-MAIL FORWARDS

I'm sure you've heard about this:
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) says she wouldn't be afraid to torture terrorists if she were president.

"C'mon! Enemies who would utterly annihilate America, they would obviously have information on plots. They carry out jihad. Oh, but you can’t offend them. Can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen," Palin said on Saturday during a speech at the National Rifle Association's "Stand And Fight" rally. "Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists."
The idea that waterboarding is like baptism is not original to Palin, or even to her speechwriters. The only question is where Team Palin got the comparison.

I suppose it's conceivable that they know this history:
In his 2008 article "Torture and Religious Practice," William Schweiker traces the Christian roots of waterboarding, which was used, for example, during the Spanish Inquisition and in the persecution of Anabaptists during the Protestant Reformation. Schweiker argues that waterboarding is religious violence not only due to its pedigree, but because it carries a particularly religious meaning: that it functioned as a kind of baptism.

Since the Anabapists rejected infant baptism in favor of adult baptism, to take one example, King Ferdinand declared drowning a "Third Baptism,” and an appropriate response to their heretical practices. Schweiker writes that waterboarding-as-baptism was presented as a way to "save" the person being tortured by delivering the accused from his or her sins. Torture became punishment for sins, and punishment became an act of mercy and salvation.
Alternately, Palin or one of her writers might have stumbled across this last year:



See also this Tumblr post, this Pinterest post, this post at MemeCollection.net, this post (from "American Pride Eagle") at MemeGenerator.net, et cetera. All of them include the same graphic; all are from sometime last year. (The Religion Dispatches post quoted above is from 2010.)

Hmmm ... which of these is more likely to be Palin's source?

Thinking, thinking...


WOULD ROMNEY RUN AGAIN? I WOULDN'T BE SURPRISED IF HE'S CONSIDERING IT

Him again? Really?
Mitt Romney has said time and time again that he has no interest in running for president a third time.

But, on Sunday morning, CBS' Bob Schieffer said not to write off the idea of a 2016 campaign by Romney so quickly.

"I have a source that told me that if Jeb Bush decides not to run, that Mitt Romney may actually try it again," Schieffer said.

During a political panel discussion, the "Face the Nation" host said that he has been told that Romney will consider seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2016 if former Florida governor Jeb Bush chooses to sit the race out.
Oliver Willis is so skeptical of this that he's vowing to re-register as a Republican and vote for Romney in the Maryland primary if it happens. And, yeah, it does seem implausible.

People who are going to run in 2016 are already laying groundwork, and I don't see Romney doing that. But I bet the idea nags at him. A lot of people overlook the fact that Romney's an angry guy, a Nixonian collector of grievances. Clearly, he still thinks he was robbed. He's still angry that he was mocked on Russia. He's still angry at Harry Reid for saying he didn't pay taxes. You look at his life and you know he's never learned how to lose, because losing is something that hasn't happened to him very often, at least until 2008 and 2012.

And what is he doing with his life? Other people leave public life and find solace in either activity or leisure. Gerald Ford played golf. George W. Bush paints. Dick Cheney trolls Democrats and revels in memories of his own sociopathy. Jimmy Carter builds houses, observes elections, and writes books. Al Gore took a climate change lecture on the road. Romney sometimes pretends to be the happy suburban-dad retiree enjoying his extended family and the simple tasks of ordinary life, but the notion that he's at peace with that is never believable.

I'm sure no one in the party wants the old retread to run. But if there's more trouble among party-establishment contenders -- Scott Walker and his aides remain under Christie-like scrutiny, Paul Ryan decides he'd rather pursue power positions in the House, Jeb decides to stay out of the race -- the party bigwigs are going to want somebody to step up. No doubt they'd prefer someone other than Romney. But the trial balloon will be floated again, as it's being floated now.

****

Alan Colmes has been somewhat better as a blogger than he was as a TV personality and Fox News dunkable clown, but what he says about this is ridiculous:
If Romney does run, he'd be smart to do it as a moderate this time, and not pander to the extreme elements of his party.
Stop, Alan. Please, just stop. There's no place in the Republican Party for moderates. Why the hell would Romney deliberately choose to transform himself into Jon Huntsman? Republicans now come in two flavors: very conservative and extremely conservative. You can be artificially flavored, as Romney demonstrated in 2012, but you'd better taste like one or the other.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

AMY CHOZICK VS. AMERICA'S REAL ELITISTS

Amy Chozick reviewed Elizabeth Warren's book for The New York Times, mostly favorably, but this sentence annoyed me:
Warren mostly avoids the overheated rhetoric associated with some well-heeled progressives; her vernacular is more Nick at Nite than The Nation.
What is "well-heeled" doing in that sentence, and what the hell does it have to do with prose, or at least the prose of progressives?

I mean, obviously Chozick is thinking of Katrina vanden Heuvel, whose maternal grandfather was an entertainment mogul, and whose parents were, respectively, a businessman/ambassador/JFK aide and a writer who, most notably, worked with George Plimpton. But what does Chozick know about the typical Nation writer?

I'm looking at the bylines on The Nation's homepage. Let's see -- Gary Younge?
Younge was born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, UK, to immigrant parents from Barbados and grew up in Stevenage. When he was 17, he went to teach English in a United Nations Eritrean refugee school in Sudan with Project Trust. On his return, he went to Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, where he studied French and Russian, Translating and Interpreting. He went on to study at City University, London, gaining a post-graduate Diploma in Journalism in 1993.
Sounds like a real one-percenter, no? How about John Nichols?
John Harrison Nichols was born Feb. 3, 1959, in Racine, Wisconsin, the oldest of three children. The family lived in nearby Union Grove, where his parents still reside. He had club feet, which the local pediatrician treated successfully with casts before age two....

Dad was the Union Grove village attorney; Mom was a former teacher and librarian....

Nichols' fellow students were mostly either farm kids or had parents working at Kenosha's American Motors plant or the Case plant in Racine....

Nichols elected to go to college at nearby UW-Parkside, in part because it had an excellent program in labor history. He also lived at home, having no desire to escape the homestead....
Another one-percenter! (Union Grove, by the way, is a village of under 5,000 people. I suspect you didn't have to be a white-shoe lawyer to be the town attorney.)

Oh, I know: Chris Hayes! What about that guy?
Hayes hails from the Bronx, where his Italian-American mother grew up, the daughter of a delicatessen owner. His father found his way to New York from Chicago via the Jesuits, while studying for the priesthood. While in seminary, his Irish-American father, Roger Hayes, did his first community organizing "for people who had trained with Alinsky," Hayes says with a chuckle....

Today his parents both work for the City of New York: Geri, a former schoolteacher, works for the NYC Department of Education, and Roger, after many years of community organizing, does health advocacy work in East Harlem for the NYC Department of Health.
Hayes may make nice money now that he's on Tv, but I wouldn't say that about the others. In any case, it's an odd criticism, particularly from a writer who's married to a Goldman Sachs vice president. How would Chozick say that affects her "rhetoric"?

NEITHER ONE OF THEM WANTS TO BE THE FIRST TO SAY GOODBYE

Before I stumbled down a rabbit hole last night, I was going to write about this ridiculous Chris Cillizza post:
What if the tea party decides to walk away from the GOP in 2016? It could happen.
Cillizza quotes by a Republican strategist named Reed Galen:
While parties typically have a hard-core, somewhat disaffected minority, they are usually swept along with the current of a larger movement.

However, in the case of the Tea Party, their lack of central organization and strict adherence to ideology over politics makes them a potent ingredient tossed into the evolutionary soup.
This is nonsense. The tea party has a "central organization" -- it's called Fox News. Fox, backed up by talk radio, will continue to stir up tea party anger, some of it against establishment Republicans. But as general election time approaches, the message will be, as usual, that evil Democrats are an existential threat to American civilization and must be destroyed. And the sheep will return to the fold, because destroying the liberal enemy trumps any of the supposedly inviolate tea party principles that the Galens and Cillizzas focus on so much.

The GOP establishment may not give the tea party 100% of what it wants -- yes, these days the debt ceiling gets raised when it needs to be raised -- but now that Chamber of Commerce types know enough to fund establishment Republicans rather than the craziest of the crazies, by November there's only one candidate left in ever race who can smite the Democrat Antichrist, and that's the Republican, even if it's, say, Lindsey Graham.

Cillizza's Reed Galen quote continues:
That the Establishment wing of the party is either unwilling or unable to co-opt them for the larger goal of winning major elections shows just how exotic an addition to the mix the Tea Party is.
That's silly -- whine about Benghazi a lot, block a few Obama appointees, and you've got them co-opted enough to win a general election. They don't require much.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

(Update Monday: Choke on it, wingnuts -- Donald Sterling is a registered Republican and has been for more than fifteen years.)

(This was updated on Sunday morning.)

I had a post up here about Donald Sterling, and about blogger Donald Douglas's accounting of his political contributions. I don't think either one of us had the facts straight. Several Donald Sterlings have appeared on the FEC's list of campaign contributors, but none seem to be Donald Tokowitz Sterling of California:





Is the donation to Bill Bradley reported by Douglas really from the Clippers' Donald Sterling? It's not clear -- his ultimate source is this site, which says Sterling gave to Bradley and to former California governor Gray Davis in the early 1990s, but there's no backup documentation. The donation to Bradley listed on the FEC site from the late 1990s is from another Donald Sterling. The two donations to the Republican National Committee that I cited weren't from him, either.

I regret my error. I'd like to see more backup for what Douglas wrote. In any case, even Douglas can't find evidence for a Sterling contribution to a Democrat in roughly the last two decades.

****

And since Douglas is cackling over the fact that I pulled the post, I'm restoring what I wrote about about his selective reading of the electoral history of Frazier Glenn Miller, the Klansman who was arrested for the murders of three people at Jewish centers in Kansas City. Douglas wrote:
Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr., Kansas Jewish Murder Suspect, Made Democrat Congressional Bid in 2006

The suspect ran for office numerous times, but he started as a Democrat in 1984, running in the North Carolina gubernatorial primary. After a number of other attempts at elected office, he returned home to the Democrat/Ku Klux Klan/Party in 2006, running in the Democrat primary for Missouri's 7th congressional district in 2006. His candidacy had the far-left hate site Daily Kos freaking out, "Racist felon running for the Dem nomination in MO-7."

Frazier Glenn Miller is a Democrat to the core....
I stand by every word of what I wrote in response to that:
Douglas's post doesn't even make sense -- if Miller were "a Democrat to the core," why would a Daily Kos blogger be "freaking out" about his candidacy? Why would the Kos post be urging someone else to file for candidacy as a Democrat in that race?

In fact, Miller didn't make it onto the ballot as a Democrat in that primary, according to election results on the Missouri secretary of state's website, or at least he didn't get a single vote. He did get a whopping 23 votes in the general election, but as a write-in candidate. (Where were all the Democrats flocking to vote for this guy if he was a "Democrat to the core"?)

And, of course, he's never had a particular party affiliation -- he ran in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in North Carolina in 1984 and finished eighth, with 0.56% of the vote, then ran in Republican U.S. Senate primary in North Carolina two years later and finished third, with 3.17% of the vote. He got 7 votes as an unaffiliated write-in candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri in 2010.

But, of course, Glenn Reynolds catapulted Douglas's propaganda back then, as I'm sure he'll catapult the latest example.

No honest Democrat denies that the party has accommodated racists within what is, for us oldsters, living memory. The segregationists of the civil era were Democrats until LBJ signed away the South when he signed the Civil Rights Act. The 1970s anti-busing racists in my hometown of Boston -- Louise Day Hicks and others -- were Democrats. Both Frazier Glenn Miller (born 1940) and Donald Sterling (born 1933) are old enough to remember when racists were welcome in both major parties. So Miller ran as a member of both major parties and Sterling gave to candidates from both parties.

But those days are long gone. Donald Douglas knows that, but he wants to help sustain the ignorance of readers who don't. On his deathbed, I hope he asks himself why he squandered so much of his life trying to make so many people believe things that are untrue.
Donald Sterling: rarely a Democratic donor, and not a Democratic donor for many years. Frazier Glenn Miller: not on a Democratic ballot line in the past three decades. Those are the facts.
DONALD DOUGLAS GETS ANOTHER SET OF CURIOUSLY INCOMPLETE SEARCH RESULTS

Post deleted. But see the update here.

(Update Monday: Donald Sterling is a registered Republican and has been for more than fifteen years.
DON'T CALL IT A RETURN -- CLIVEN BUNDY'S IDEOLOGY WAS NEVER REALLY REPRESSED

David Firestone of The New York Times reminds us that what he calls Cliven Bundy's "slavery nostalgia" is hardly unique to Bundy, and isn't always expressed privately, especially in the redder states:
... in the South, such sentiments are hardly unheard of, even if they are usually muttered in private over a few bourbons rather than spoken at a news conference.

Occasionally, in fact, they are expressed or embraced by public figures. A particularly relevant case started about 14 years ago, when Maurice Bessinger, owner of a chain of South Carolina barbecue restaurants called Maurice’s Piggie Park, began distributing pro-slavery tracts in his stores. One of the tracts, called the "Biblical View of Slavery," said the practice wasn't really so bad, because it was permitted in the Bible. It argued that many black slaves in the South "blessed the Lord" for their condition, because it was better than their life in Africa.

When the tract was discovered, Mr. Bessinger was denounced and his restaurants boycotted. Many retail stores pulled his distinctive (to be kind) yellow mustardy barbecue sauce from their shelves.

But one prominent South Carolinian decided to stand up for Mr. Bessinger. Glenn McConnell, then a state senator from Charleston, stocked the sauce in his Confederate "art gallery," which was loaded with secessionist flags and uniforms, as well as toilet paper bearing the image of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. When a local power utility banned its trucks from the parking lots of Piggie Park, Mr. McConnell threatened a legislative vendetta against the company.
And the upshot? Wait for it:
Mr. Bessinger died in February. Mr. McConnell is now the lieutenant governor of South Carolina.
And not only is McConnell the lieutenant governor now -- as Firestone notes, McConnell has been handed the presidency of the College of Charleston, despite the fact that he has no relevant academic experience. There he's expected to rein in a dangerous strain of contemporary thinking, which has led to the placement of (gasp!) a lesbian-themed memoir on a voluntary reading list, and to plans for a campus performance of a play based on that memoir.

Glenn McConnell's thriving career is a reminder to me of why I automatically tune out any argument that contains the phrase "political correctness." I grant that there are things you simply "can't say," according to America's "official culture." But outside America's political and media centers, these "incorrect" ideas are loving cultivated, valorized, and carefully transmitted to future generations. That's why there are still Klansmen and neo-Nazis. That's why well-educated young men still think sexual penetration after the administration of Rohypnol or a few too many drinks is perfectly OK. That's why Silicon Valley and Internet comments sections are still hotbeds of virulent sexism. And so on. Cliven Bundy isn't a throwback. He's just a guy whose ideology usually flies under the radar. We just ignore the precincts where that ideology thrives.

Friday, April 25, 2014

LIVE BY THE FOX, DIE BY THE FOX

Oh, boo freaking hoo:
A top spokesman for the Republican National Committee got heated during an interview Friday on CNN, saying Republicans have been unfairly linked to Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his racist remarks....

"I think the comments that Mr. Bundy made with respect to race and other things were inappropriate and wrong, 100 percent out of line and not part of the discourse we need to have," [RNC communications director Sean] Spicer said. "But that being said, what I find fascinating as the chief spokesman for the Republican Party is that when a guy has a problem with cattle grazing and has a discussion about the size of the federal government and the overreach of the federal government, makes a comment every reporter calls the Republican National Committee asking for comment."

... Spicer stressed again and again that the GOP was being too closely linked with Bundy and his comments.

"The issue with Cliven Bundy has absolutely nothing to do with his party, zero," Spicer said. "He is a Nevada rancher that had a beef with the federal government's continued overreach and suddenly this became a question when he made some inappropriate comments about what every Republican needs to answer for. That's absolutely ridiculous."
Sorry, Sean, but this is what you get when your party takes full advantage of Fox News's choice to make itself a round-the-clock propaganda operation for Republicanism and conservatism.

It was noted a couple of years ago that Republicans who criticized Rush Limbaugh invariably had to recant within a day or two. Well, that doesn't quite happen with Fox -- but does any Republican candidate or official ever criticize anything that appears on on Fox News?

No. The GOP just sits back and reaps the rewards of 24/7 free publicity for its message. It's understood by everyone in the world of politics that Fox is a Republican mouthpiece. So when Fox wanders further into the fringes of the right and no Republican utters a word of protest, why the hell should we shed a tear when it all blows up in the face of Fox and the GOP gets scorched?

The Obama White House has sometimes gotten crosswise with media lefties -- remember Robert Gibbs denouncing the "professional left"? As for the GOP, I don't recall a peep of protest about anything Fox has ever done.

So pick a fight with Fox once in a while, Sean -- or shut the hell up.
SUPPORT FOR THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT: INCREASINGLY OPTIONAL IN THE REPUBLICAN MAINSTREAM?

We all know that Cliven Bundy has said, “I don't recognize [the] United States Government as even existing." But heck, he's just a racist rancher from the lunatic fringe, someone mainstream conservatives embraced in a moment of weakness -- right?

Well, as we're reminded in this New York Times story about Rand Paul's efforts to assemble a donor base of rich libertarians, you don't have to be a fringy racist rancher to be accepted in the GOP establishment despite questionable loyalty to the notion of the United States of America:
Mr. Paul's nascent finance team includes Joe Lonsdale, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who helped start an organization dedicated to building new sovereign cities on floating ocean platforms.
Yes, that's "building new sovereign cities" as in building cities off the coast of the U.S. that are self-declared independent nations. In other words, the guy some consider to be the Republican presidential front-runner, i.e., the guy who seriously could become president of the United States, has a finance team that includes a rich guy who wants to set up his own country apart from and independent of the United States.

This isn't a new development by any means -- Lonsdale's mentor, fellow libertarian and PayPal founder Peter Thiel, is a big financial backer of Lonsdale's organization, which is called the Seasteading Institute. Thiel gave lots of money to Rand Paul's dad in 2008 and 2012 (although Ron Paul was never a plausible winner of the GOP nomination). Thiel has also donated to McCain/Palin, Romney/Ryan, and dozens of GOP gubernatorial and congressional candidates (as well as to one libertarian Democrat).

And maybe I shouldn't regard the funding of a possible independent libertarian country as a rejection of America. I guess I ought to see it as like a musician's side project. But it still seems kind of disloyal. I suppose I'm old-fashioned that way.

Here's an August 2008 clip of a pre-Fox Glenn Beck interviewing Lonsdale, who was then a very rich 25-year-old, about the Seasteading Institute. What's amusing is that Beck can't decide whether the whole idea is wonderful or ridiculous -- and he seems to lean toward the latter.





I know these techies think that the only thing preventing them from solving all the world's problems -- and making a huge profit doing so -- is that they have an albatross around their necks consisting of the rest of us lesser mortals, with our ridiculous taxes, regulations, and other restraints on their limitless brilliance. I'm sorry the existence of our nation-state is harshing their mellow.
DAVID BROOKS: BOBOS IN A FOX NEWS TWO MINUTES' HATE

If you doubt that modern right-wing propagandists are evil geniuses, just look at the effectiveness with which they've contained class anger in the heartland. They've done this by rechanneling it: out in the heartland, people have bad feelings about the upper crust, but they're conditioned to believe that the upper crust consists of cultural elites -- college professors, unionized teachers, Prius drivers (formerly known as quiche eaters), rappers and Hollywood stars (and, of course, Democratic politicians). The actual upper crust -- the richest and most powerful people in America -- are deemed "job creators"; heartlanders are told that they don't do anything that harms the folks in the middle.

The heartland actually believes this, and votes accordingly, at least in non-presidential elections.

Today's David Brooks column repurposes this line of propaganda for Brooks's own upscale audience. The column seems like an updating of what Brooks wrote a decade ago in Bobos in Paradise, but now the Bobos are angry revolutionaries who, in effect, want to march on the mansions of the rich and burn them down -- no, really.

Brooks begins this way:
Many people join the political left driven by a concern for the poor. But, over the past several years, the Democratic Party has talked much more about the middle class than the poor. Meanwhile, progressive political movements like Occupy Wall Street directed their fervor at the top 1 percent. Progressive movies and books have focused their attention on conspiracy and oligarchy at the top, not "Grapes of Wrath" or "How the Other Half Lives" stories at the bottom.
Really? Progressive movies and books don't focus on the real have-nots? Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed? Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow? The films of Michael Moore, starting with Roger & Me? (Even Fahrenheit 9/11 focused on the class divide in military recruitment.) Matt Taibbi's new book, The Divide, which is about the two-tiered system of justice for the extremely rich and the very poor? Is the campaign to raise the minimum wage not on Brooks's radar? Or the liberal outrage at states' rejection of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion?

And so we come to Brooks's thesis, which is straight out of the right-wing propaganda handbook:
... The modern left is led by smart professionals -- academics, activists, people in the news media, the arts and so on -- who tend to live in and around coastal cities.

If you are a young professional in a major city, you experience inequality firsthand. But the inequality you experience most acutely is not inequality down, toward the poor; it's inequality up, toward the rich.

You go to fund-raisers or school functions and there are always hedge fund managers and private equity people around. You get more attention than them at parties, but your whole apartment could fit in their dining room. You struggle with tuition, but their kids go off on ski weekends. You wait in line at the post office, but they have staff to do it for them....

The situation is ripe for the sort of class conflict the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu used to describe: pitting those who are rich in cultural capital against those who are rich in financial capital.
"Those who are rich in cultural capital": that's precisely the group Fox News and other right-wing propagandists have turned into the evil elite, in the eyes of the heartland. Brooks echoes this worldview. And in doing so, he denies the existence of every liberal west of the Acela Corridor and east of Marin County (apart from, I guess, a few in Chicago).

According to Brooks, liberals are embracing Thomas Piketty's new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, not because they want economic fairness, but because they want what the superrich have:
... up until now they have described a big problem but they have no big proposal to address it. Now they do: a global wealth tax. Piketty proposes that all the governments in the world, or at least the big ones, get together, find all the major wealth in the world and then tax capital progressively.

Piketty wouldn't raise taxes on income, which thriving professionals have a lot of; he would tax investment capital, which they don't have enough of. Think of what would happen to the Manhattan or Bay Area real estate markets if the financiers had to sell their stray apartments in order to get liquid assets to pay the tax bill. Think of how much more affordable fine art would be. Think of how much more equal the upper class would be.
There you have it. The superrich, who maintain armies of lobbyists to ensure that they and their heirs will keep all of their money forever and pay as little tax as possible, aren't the people seeking to rig the system -- it's upper-middle-class liberals who are the real system-riggers! Or at least they will be if given half the chance!

And there's something repugnant about the image of the envious members of the upper middle class making off with superrich people's apartments and paintings. Is it an accident that this brings to mind the taking of property and art in the Nazi era? Did Brooks intend for us to make that association? Would Tom Perkins regard the popularity of the Piketty book as a cultural Kristallnacht?

****

Brooks thinks his fellow conservatives could provide a better alternative:
This is a moment when progressives have found their worldview and their agenda. This move opens up a huge opportunity for the rest of us in the center and on the right. First, acknowledge that the concentration of wealth is a concern with a beefed up inheritance tax.
A beffed-up inheritance tax? Championed by conservatives? Stop, David, you're killing me.

Also:
... emphasize that the historically proven way to reduce inequality is lifting people from the bottom with human capital reform, not pushing down the top.
He's joking again, right? I assume "human capital reform" is investment in the education of less-well-off young people. That's going to come from the right?Seriously? Yes, yes, I know: Paul Ryan and Rand Paul are looking toward the 2016 presidential election, which they can't win unless they get the votes of people who don't watch Fox News, so they're making noises about this sort of thing. But any idiot knows that right-wingers care about education only until the teachers' unions are broken. Then they lose interest.

Brooks, of course, would never look for a sinister ulterior motive in conservatives' professions of economic populism. Suspicion is reserved for liberals. Conservatives are always just on the brink of moving America forward with a compassionate program of healing, even though that moment, somehow, never arrives.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

HERE'S HOW BUNDY COULD BECOME A RIGHT-WING MARTYR/HERO AGAIN

Right-wingers are now distancing themselves from Cliven Bundy's racist remarks about "the Negro." But even if his conservative supporters in the media and in public office now want to hold him at arm's length, I assume his armed followers will stand by him, given the likelihood that many of them feel exactly the way he does about African-Americans, or at least don't consider his opinions a dealbreaker.

But will the right-wing media continue to keep its distance if there's another attempt to bring him to justice? No. Let me tell you what the right-wing noise machine's line will be in that case: Cliven Bundy was a martyr to political correctness. Yes, that's right: Sean Hannity and others will ignore his decades of defying the law and say he was fined/arrested/deprived of his cattle because of what he said about black people. He'll be a free-speech martyr.

He'll be compared to the Innocence of Muslims filmmaker and others the Obama administration is supposedly trying to "silence," including Dinesh D'Souza (charged with violating campaign finance laws by a federal prosecutor) and the tea party groups who had trouble getting tax-exempt status from the IRS. Conservatives such as Ted Cruz and Victor Davis Hanson have lumped those folks together as a class of people punished for speech in the Obama years, and Bundy will be added to the list.

Or there might be a different, non-Obama-centric list: Phil Robertson, Paula Deen, Brendan Eich. The liberal fascists destroyed all of them -- for speech! Bundy will be said to be the latest victim.

Trust me on this. If there's any attempt to hold Bundy accountable now, it will be said that his racist remarks were the real reason. Sean Hannity will be his biggest supporter again.

*****

(This and an earlier post are now edited to remove references to "Cliven Bunker." I'm not sure why I keep making that mistake -- maybe because much of the action in this story takes place in Bunkerville? I'm thinking of Archie Bunker? Or of end-of-the-worlders hunkering down in bunkers? Anyway, I think I've got his name right everywhere now.)

*****

Oh crap, I was probably confusing Bundy with Jethro Tull's old drummer. You cn tak the boy out of the '70s....)
GEORGE WILL'S PARALLEL-UNIVERSE REAGAN

Here are the opening paragraphs of today's column by George Will. It's titled "Barack Obama, the Adolescent President":
Recently, Barack Obama -- a Demosthenes determined to elevate our politics from coarseness to elegance; a Pericles sent to ameliorate our rhetorical impoverishment -- spoke at the University of Michigan. He came to that very friendly venue -- in 2012, he received 67 percent of the vote in Ann Arbor's county -- after visiting a local sandwich shop, where a muse must have whispered in the presidential ear. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had recently released his budget, so Obama expressed his disapproval by calling it, for the benefit of his academic audience, a "meanwich" and a "stinkburger."

Try to imagine Franklin Roosevelt or Dwight Eisenhower or John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan talking like that. It is unimaginable that those grown-ups would resort to japes that fourth-graders would not consider sufficiently clever for use on a playground.
Reagan? Will actually included Reagan on that list?

Yeah, right -- Reagan was way too mature to say anything like that:




5/18/83 During a speech to the White House News Photographers dinner, President Reagan sticks his thumbs in his ears and wiggles his fingers. Says the leader of the free world, "I've been waiting years to do this."

And Reagan would never have stooped to Obama's level rhetorically, as is abundantly clear from these excerpts from his speeches (hat tip: Paul Slansky's 1989 book on the Reagan era, The Clothes Have No Emperor):

1987:
You know, when it comes to this yearly budget process, I keep thinking of that current movie hit, "The Little Shop of Horrors." [Laughter] Now, the budget isn't exactly like the man-eating plant in that movie. It isn't mean, and it isn't green. It doesn't come from outer space. But it does only say one thing: "Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!" [Laughter]
1985:
And the way I see it, if our current tax structure were a TV show, it would either be "Foul-ups, Bleeps, and Blunders," or "Gimme a Break." If it were a record album, it would be "Gimme Shelter." If it were a movie, it would be "Revenge of the Nerds" or maybe "Take the Money and Run." And if the IRS, Internal Revenue Service, ever wants a theme song, maybe they'll get Sting to do, "Every breath you take, every move you make, I'll be watching you."
1984:
...we were being led by a team with good intentions and bad ideas -- people with all the common sense of Huey, Dewey, and Louie.
1982:
You know, when we got to Washington, this country was in the fast lane headed toward economic oblivion. The folks who'd been at the wheel were more reckless than the Dukes of Hazzard....
And let's not forget one of his most revered quips, which doesn't involve popular culture, but does involve, er, stink:
If you will forgive me, you know someone has likened government to a baby. It is an alimentary canal with an appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.
Dear George Will: Yes, presidents talk like this now. They speak in a way you find vulgar and immature and degrading. Do you know why? Because they're trying to follow Reagan's example. He changed the tone of American political rhetoric -- while you were cheering him on. It's his fault.

(Quotes repurposed from a post I did a few years ago.)
CLIVEN BUNDY IS THE VICTIM OF A RACIAL DOUBLE STANDARD!

Poor Cliven Bundy. The freeloading insurrectionist-wannabe turned right-wing superstar has put his foot in his mouth:
"I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro," he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, "and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids -- and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch -- they didn't have nothing to do. They didn't have nothing for their kids to do. They didn't have nothing for their young girls to do.

"And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?" he asked. "They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I've often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn't get no more freedom. They got less freedom."
Politicians who'd supported Bundy backtracked quickly:
A spokesman for [Senator Rand] Paul, informed of Mr. Bundy's remarks, said the senator was not available for immediate comment. Chandler Smith, a spokesman for [Senator Dean] Heller, said that the senator "completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy's appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way."
But ... but that's unfair! Do you know why Bundy is really in trouble? Because he's white! If he were a black conservative and he said something like that, he'd be acclaimed for it by right-wingers!

Consider Thomas Sowell:
The black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow, but it has disintegrated in the wake of the liberals' expansion of the welfare state. Most black children grew up in homes with two parents during all that time but most grow up with only one parent today.
Or Ben Carson:
Dr. Ben Carson, a rising star in conservative circles, on Friday compared President Obama's health-care law to slavery.

"You know Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery," Carson, who is African American, said Friday in remarks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington. "And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control."
Or E.W. Jackson:
Virginia Republican lieutenant governor candidate E. W. Jackson said that the American government has been worse for "the black family" than slavery was during an event on Wednesday to celebrate Juneteenth, the holiday marking the end of slavery. "In 1960 most black children were raised in two parent monogamous families," Jackson said, according to the Virginia Daily Press. "By now, by this time, we only have 20 percent of black children being raised in two-parent monogamous families with a married man and woman raising those children. It wasn't slavery that did that. It was government that did that trying to solve problems that only God can solve, and that only we as human beings can solve."
Or Allen West:
Rep. Allen West is accusing President Barack Obama of making Americans increasingly dependent on social programs, blasting Social Security disability insurance as "a form of modern, 21st-century slavery."

"Since June of 2009 or so, we have seen 2.4 million private sector jobs created, but we've had 3.1 million people going on Social Security disability and, as we said just this past month, the 85,000 went on Social Security disability as opposed to 80,000 jobs created," the Florida Republican said Sunday on Fox News. "So once again we are creating the sense of economic dependence which, to me is a form of modern, 21st-century slavery."
Or Janice Rogers Brown, a George W. Bush federal appeals court appointee:
"In the heyday of liberal democracy, all roads lead to slavery," she has warned in speeches. Society and the courts have turned away from the founders' emphasis on personal responsibility, she has argued, toward a culture of government regulation and dependency that threatens fundamental freedoms.

"We no longer find slavery abhorrent," she told the conservative Federalist Society a few years ago. "We embrace it."
So, heck, you really can't blame Cliven Bundy for saying stuff like this, right? After all, he must hear black conservatives talk like this on Fox all the time!

(UPDATE: Jamelle Bouie quotes a few more black conservatives who might have influenced Bundy.)

****

One person The New York Times asked for a comment on Bundy's remarks was Texas attorney general (and gubernatorial candidate) Greg Abbott -- who, as I noted yesterday, is helping to gin up another made-for-Fox story about alleged Bureau of Land Management overreach. Abbott's office responded to the Times:
A spokeswoman for Mr. Abbott, Laura Bean, said that the letter he wrote “was regarding a dispute in Texas and is in no way related to the dispute in Nevada.”
I bring this up because I don't believe Fox is just going to drop its anti-BLM jihad as a result of Bundy's remarks -- Fox will probably just shift the story to Texas. Take a look at Fox Nation right now. Lead item:

* "'A Federal Government Run Amok': Texas AG Abbott Slams Potential BLM Land Grab Along Red River"

Also on the front page:

* "Rick Perry to Feds ''Come & Take It' Not a Dare, It's a Promise'"

And

* "Texas AG Greg Abbott to BLM: 'Stay Out of Texas'"

Nothing on the front page about Bundy. Why, you'd think the center of this story had been Texas all along.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

HOW REAGAN CRITICISM IS SORT OF LIKE THE N-WORD

You'd think this, from Mother Jones, would be devastating for Rand Paul in the 2016 primaries:
In a variety of campaign appearances that were captured on video, Paul repeatedly compared Reagan unfavorably to Carter on one of Paul's top policy priorities: government spending. When Paul was a surrogate speaker for his father, then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), during the elder Paul's 2008 presidential quest, his sales pitch included dumping on Reagan for failing to rein in federal budget deficits. Standing on the back of a truck and addressing the crowd at the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers picnic in July 2007, Rand Paul complained about Reagan and praised his father for having opposed Reagan's budget:
The deficit went through the roof under Reagan. So how long did it take Ron Paul to figure out that the guy he had liked, endorsed, campaigned for, campaigned for him? The very first [Reagan] budget. Ron Paul voted "no" against the very first Reagan budget... Everybody loved this "great" budget. It was a $100 billion in debt. This was three times greater than Jimmy Carter's worst deficit.
That and other Rand Paul attacks on Reagan's spending are in the Mother Jones article, and in the video supercut below. Rand can't possibly survive this in 2016 ... right?





Don't be so sure. A lot of the right-wing reaction will undoubtedly resemble this, from Hot Air's Allahpundit:
David Corn and Mother Jones are out with another gotcha piece on Paul this morning citing his (mild) criticism of Reagan in the past for not cutting spending more as president.... Knocking the Gipper for not doing enough to shrink government is Libertarianism 101; even mainstream conservatives who venerate him will grudgingly concede that they wish he'd done better before quickly adding that he did what he could with a liberal Congress. And needless to say, no one's going to stand onstage next to Paul at the 2015 primary debates and rip him for criticizing deficit spending. It’s okay to criticize Reagan as long as you're respectful and as long as you're doing it from the right.
So there you have it. You and I can't criticize Ronald Reagan, who was the greatest American of our era and whose cowboy boots we're not fit to polish -- but conservatives can critique him, if they're "respectful" and they're "doing it from the right." So Reagan criticism is sort of like using the N-word -- permitted within the group, but declared utterly taboo by the group if done by others. (Presumably this is because of conservatives' long history of suffering at non-conversatives' hands. Sorry, that was sarcasm.)

****

Is it true that "no one's going to stand onstage next to Paul at the 2015 primary debates and rip him for criticizing deficit spending"? Hard to say. During the 2012 campaign, his father was criticized for a similar refusal to genuflect before Reagan -- but primarily by Rick Perry, who, in turn, was attacked by Paul the Elder as a 1988 backer of Al Gore (which was back when Perry was still a Democrat):
Paul called Perry "Al Gore's Texas cheerleader" for once working in support of the Democrat. Perry's team, in turn, released Paul's 1987 resignation from the GOP.
The elder Paul was worried enough about the criticism that he reached back to his support for Reagan's 1976 presidential campaign and put out this ad:





But Rick Perry, the guy who played the Reagan card against Ron Paul, ran a flop campaign, so I don't think anyone's going to emulate anything he did. For that reason as well as for the fact that Reagan criticism from the right seems acceptable to the right, I think Rand will be allowed to slide on this.
TELL ME AGAIN HOW MUCH CONSERVATIVES HATE BIG BUSINESS THESE DAYS

The Tea Party Express just posted this:
Tea Party-Backed CEO Curt Clawson Wins in Landside

... Tea Party Express, the nation's largest Tea Party political action committee, is celebrating the movement's first victory of 2014 in Florida's 19th Congressional District tonight with Tea Party-supported Curt Clawson.

Tea Party Express Chief Strategist Sal Russo said, "Tonight, Southwest Florida voted to send a bold Tea Party conservative to D.C. Curt Clawson's unique background as a former CEO of a multi-billion dollar international company will be a powerful addition to Congress...."

...Following Tea Party Express' endorsement in March, Clawson earned endorsements from Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, Tea Party Nation, Senator Rand Paul, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Eagle Forum, and a number of local Tea Party Activists.
But ... but ... but I thought tea party types hated big business as much as they do big government! Didn't The New York Times repeat that assertion just a few days ago, in a story about opposition to the Common Core education standards?
The opposition to the Common Core also captures another shift since the Bush administration: While long contemptuous of an expanding federal government, some Republican activists are growing wary of big business, too, including figures like Bill Gates, the billionaire Microsoft founder whose foundation supported the development of the standards.
Funny -- that didn't seem to affect Clawson during his primary campaign. None of this seemed to cut into his vote totals:
... on the campaign trail and in his ads, Clawson never mentions a former employee, Shawn Boone, who died in a fiery blast in the Hayes Lemmerz automotive plant in Indiana that Clawson's company ran.

"I think the most important thing for people ... to realize was that when he [Clawson] was working at Hayes, they shut down a lot of plants that were good jobs," Boone’s sister, Tammy Miser told The Naples Daily News in a must-read piece.

Beyond Boone's death and the company's apparently spotty safety record, the Daily News exposes how the company filed for bankruptcy under Clawson's leadership.

It shut down factories.

It outsourced jobs.

And it even relied on an Obamacare bailout. Today, Clawson wants to repeal Obamacare.

And Clawson got rich, the Daily News reports:

During his nine years as a top executive for Hayes Lemmerz, the company laid off more than 1,300 workers, shuttered seven plants in the U.S., and taxpayers covered hundreds of millions of dollars in pension and health-care costs shortly before selling to a Brazilian company in 2011, according to filings with industry regulators and media reports.

Over that time, Clawson brought in annual seven-figure incomes, including bonuses....

Clawson's salary ranged from a low of $1.3 million in 2001 to a peak of $12.3 million in 2003....
You'd think people who were "growing wary of big business" would have a problem with all that, or with the fact that Clawson apparently bought the primary victory with $3.4 million of his own money.

Gee, I guess not.


RABBLE-ROUSING RIGHT-WINGERS WANT TO TURN A BUREAUCRATIC PROCESS INTO A WAR

Breitbart is trying to open a second front in the newly nationalized wingnut war against the Bureau of Land Management with this story:
BLM EYES 90,000 ACRES OF TEXAS LAND

After the recent Bundy Ranch episode by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Texans are becoming more concerned about the BLM’s focus on 90,000 acres along a 116 mile stretch of the Texas/Oklahoma boundary. The BLM is reviewing the possible federal takeover and ownership of privately-held lands which have been deeded property for generations of Texas landowners.
Breitbart has posted follow-up stories, one featuring state attorney general (and gubernatorial front-runner) Greg Abbott daring the BLM to "come and take it!" Fox News, naturally, is also on the case.

Abbott is talking tough:
"I am about ready," General Abbott told Breitbart Texas, "to go to the Red River and raise a 'Come and Take It' flag to tell the feds to stay out of Texas." ...

As to the timeline of how this matter moves forward Abbott explained that it is hard to tell how quickly or slowly the BLM might move on this matter. "One of the problems is, we can't tell what they're doing other than trying to operate in very suspicious ways. We want to make sure they are going to be open and transparent about what they are doing and that constitutional due process rights are going to be protected."
But BLM is being open and transparent. Nearly a year ago, it issued a Notice of Intent regarding its revision of the resource management plan for Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas. It's been holding public hearings on this issue. Yes, a Republican congressman from Texas, Mac Throneberry, has complained that the one in Wichita Falls "was poorly advertised" -- but, really, you can't have it both ways, can you? If land management issues are worth having a Second American Revolution over, and the BLM is the new King George, then shouldn't the True Patriots be paying attention to what the tyrant is up to? Especially when the tyrant actually invites the public to weigh in?

This is a crazy situation, and has been for a long, long time. Attorney General Abbott's ranting and raving suggests that President Obama is causing all the trouble, but that's nonsense:
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas, General Abbott said, "This is the latest line of attack by the Obama Administration where it seems like they have a complete disregard for the rule of law in this country ..."

... "What Barack Obama's BLM is doing," Abbott continued, "is so out of bounds and so offensive that we should have quick and successful legal action if they dare attempt to tread on Texas land and take it from private property owners in this state."
But this dispute goes back long before Barack Obama was born:
The border between Texas and Oklahoma meanders peacefully along 540 miles of twists and bends of the storied Red River. Peacefully, that is, except for an area within Lake Texoma, about 60 miles north of Dallas, that has been in hot dispute between the two states for almost 200 years....

For years, both states have agreed that the border would run along the south bank (Texas side) of the Red River. But, the exact location of the river's south bank within Lake Texoma has never been determined.

The lack of a clearly defined border through the lake has resulted in years of disputes over property taxes, water and mineral rights, court jurisdictions, and hunting and fishing licenses....

The original Texas-Oklahoma border was based on an 1821 treaty between Spain and the United State which was upheld in 1896 by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1923 (Okalahoma v. Texas), the Supreme Court attempted to settle the dispute by ruling that the boundary between Oklahoma and Texas be identified by wooden stakes set on the river bank. But, any surveyor will tell you that wooden stakes are easy to move and don't last very long at all -- especially along a river....
It once led to armed conflict:
... nearly two centuries of squabbling [have] fueled two U.S. Supreme Court cases and spurred a revolver-toting Oklahoma governor to declare martial law and "invade," as 1930s newspapers put it, a narrow strip of disputed territory. (No shots were fired.)
Texas passed a law in 2013 establishing a boundary commission to settle this question -- but Governor Rick Perry dawdled before finally naming members to this commission in December. Any resolution of the border dispute has to be approved by Texas, Oklahoma, and the U.S. Congress.

In the meantime, the BLM is working from current law, including Supreme Court rulings that are still in effect. Yes, it's true that that may result in 90,000 acres of land being declared federal property -- but that's based on current law (and Texas's interpretation of where the border is is disputred not just by the feds but by Oklahoma).

What's going on is proceeding very slowly. BLM says any changes would require new surveys -- which BLM isn't planning, and wouldn't take place without prior notification.

Oh, and President Obama? This is a peripheral issue, but he actually signed legislation that exempted Texans from provisions of a 2008 amendment to the 1900 Lacey Act that would have prohibited certain water use practices because of the presence of an invasive species in water on the border.

Meanwhile, do you know when the best-known martyr in this story was martyred? During the presidency of St. Reagan:
Sid Miller, former Texas State Representative and Republican candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, has ... made the matter a campaign issue to Breitbart Texas.

"In Texas," Miller says, "“the BLM is attempting a repeat of an action taken over 30 years ago along the Red River when Tommy Henderson lost a federal lawsuit. The Bureau of Land Management took 140 acres of his property and didn’t pay him one cent."

Miller referred to a 1986 case where the BLM attempted to seize some of Henderson's land. Henderson sued the BLM and lost 140 acres that had been in his family for generations.
Goodness -- why didn't the Greatest American of All Time mount his steed and ride to Henderson's rescue back in 1986, at the head of an armed posse of True Patriots? It's a mystery.

This is a border issue that mature people would solve in a mature way. But it's in Texas and Oklahoma, where lots of people daydream that they're living in a Louis L'Amour novel. So I guess that's not possible.