Monday, April 20, 2015

THE NEW STATUS ACCESSORY: YOUR OWN PERSONAL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

You haven't really made it in this country until you personally own a Republican presidential candidate. Ask Norman Braman:
Braman, a former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles football franchise, is poised to occupy the sugar-daddy role for [Marco] Rubio....

The Miami businessman, Braman’s friends say, is considering spending anywhere from $10 million to $25 million -- and possibly even more -- on Rubio’s behalf, a cash stake that could potentially alter the course of the Republican race by enabling the Florida senator to wage a protracted fight for the nomination.
Braman doesn't like Jeb Bush because Bush, as governor, vetoed $2 million in state funding for the Braman Breast Cancer Institute. So he bought Marco, and Marco loves being owned:
Braman is both a benefactor and a friend to Rubio, and their close relationship dates back to when the now-presidential candidate was ascending the ranks of the state Legislature.... He employs Rubio’s wife, Jeannette, part time through his charity, the Braman Family Foundation. After Rubio was elected to the Senate in 2010 -- a race that Braman and his wife Irma poured nearly $10,000 into -- the two families traveled together to Israel.

In his recently published memoir, Rubio dedicated an entire paragraph of the acknowledgments to Braman and suggested that he’d become a father-like figure to him.
Ted Cruz is similarly owned:
... Robert Mercer, a Wall Street hedge-fund magnate ... who started at I.B.M. and made his fortune using computer patterns to outsmart the stock market, emerged this week as a key early bankroller of Mr. Cruz’s surprisingly fast campaign start. He is believed to be the main donor behind a network of four “super PACs” supporting Mr. Cruz that reported raising $31 million just a few weeks into his campaign.
But the Koch brothers are still the alpha dogs at this, because they've just declared ownership of a presidential candidate and they haven't put up a cent:
On Monday, at a fund-raising event in Manhattan for the New York State Republican Party, David Koch told donors that he and his brother, who oversee one of the biggest private political organizations in the country, believed that Mr. Walker would be the Republican nominee....

Two people who attended the event said they heard Mr. Koch go even further, indicating that Mr. Walker should be the Republican nominee.

... Mr. Koch’s remark left little doubt among attendees of where his heart is, and could effectively end one of the most closely watched contests in the “invisible primary,” a period where candidates crisscross the country seeking not the support of voters but the blessing of their party’s biggest donors and fund-raisers.
But:
Mr. Koch’s remarks suggested that the political organizations they oversee -- which include Americans for Prosperity, a grass-roots organization, and Freedom Partners, a donor trade group with an affiliated super PAC -- would not intervene in the Republican primary process on behalf of a single candidate.
So (even though a Koch spokesman denied this report) here were the Kochs declaring Walker their boy without promising a dime to him -- but because they have so much money they could give him, he's owned.

And if he falters in the primaries, others will line up to be owned by the Kochs, even though they'll know that the Kochs would have preferred to own someone else.

Hey, I guess you could call this the Ownership Society.

ARE WE TAKING DICK MORRIS SERIOUSLY?

There's a Fred Dicker story in the New York Post right now that's being taken very, very seriously. Did I say in the headline that Dicker's source for this story is Dick Morris? Actually, I have no idea who the source is. I just made the headline up -- which is appropriate, because Dicker, or his source, almost certainly made the story up:
De Blasio in secret bid to be Dems’ 2016 pick

Despite repeated claims to the contrary, Mayor Bill de Blasio is positioning himself to be the leftist “progressive” alternative to Wall Street-friendly Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Democratic candidate for president, a national party operative told The Post.

De Blasio’s hope, the operative said, is a “Draft de Blasio" movement will develop among progressive activists over the next several months that will lead to the mayor being able to defeat Clinton in the primary elections next year in much the same way leftist Sen. George McGovern successfully challenged the initially front-running establishment Democratic candidate, Sen. Edmund Muskie, more than 40 years ago.
Why is this ridiculous? Let Ed Kilgore count the ways:
... you have to wonder exactly why anyone would think Bill de Blasio has a legitimate shot at displacing Hillary Clinton and becoming president, especially via a “draft,” which hasn’t really happened since 1952 if even then. The number of mayors of New York who have gone from Gracie Mansion to the White House, directly or indirectly, is exactly zero. The McGovern analogy Dicker offers is flawed by the fact that it’s, well, wrong; McGovern wasn’t some late entry who upset Ed Muskie; he carefully built a grass-roots organization while Muskie collected endorsements, and Muskie started falling apart the minute voters became involved.
(And Dicker is old enough to know that.)

It's true that de Blasio visited the key primary state of Iowa last week. But that was at the invitation of a fellow progressive, former senator Tom Harkin. At the urging of another progressive friend, de Blasio also visited Nebraska, which -- to put it mildly -- is not a key primary state, and he also plans to visit Wisconsin (again, not a key primary state) later in the month.

This is not the itinerary of a guy who's running for president in this cycle, though it's possibly the itinerary of someone who wants to build a national progressive movement (and wants to influence the eventual Democratic nominee's platform). Republicans do this kind of thing all the time. My first thought when I heard that de Blasio was in Iowa was that he's trying to be a Democratic Steve King -- a guy who uses a high profile and clout within his party in order to try to keep prominent members from drifting to the center.

I guessed that Dick Morris was the "national party operative" in Dicker's story because he's made it his life's work to stir up trouble for Democrats. But the "operative" could be anybody -- or nobody.

The story is phony, but here's New York magazine taking it seriously, and here's The Week doing the same.

And that's because most of the media doesn't grasp what's self-evident to Josh Marshall:
... 100 to 1 it's another consciously made up New York Post story. Because this is what the Post does. For those outside New York, remember, the Post isn't a real newspaper in the sense of publishing accurate stories. And I say that as someone who used to write columns for them.
If there's a group that really needs to be told that the Post "isn't a real newspaper in the sense of publishing accurate stories," it's not "those outside New York," it's those inside the rest of the media. The rest of the media think the Post is a paper that tries at all times to present facts and opinions the same way other papers do, albeit with a more conservative slant and a greater taste for the lurid. But the Post is perfectly willing to just publish fairytales -- the same is true, of course, for Fox News -- as long as the fairytales come with some deniability.

This story isn't a big deal in the long run. It'll be obvious soon enough that it's ridiculous, and it won't have any effect the presidential race. But the rest of the press needs to start noticing that the Murdoch empire flouts the rules other media outlets play by. In bigger things, that matters. Murdoch should be a pariah and all his properties should be under a cloud of suspicion whenever they publish. But we're not even close to that yet.

SO, HOW OFTEN DO WE REALLY VOTE AGAINST POLS BECAUSE OF CORRUPTION?

If pollsters ask, Americans say they don't like money in politics. But name me some recent politicians who've been turned out of office by voters because they engaged in quid pro quos in exchange for cash. No, I don't mean Scott Brown, who lost to a candidate angry about corruption in general but who wasn't defeated specifically because of his dirty deeds. And no, I don't mean pols who've been brought up on charges. Who gets in trouble with voters for this sort of thing?

There ought to be a point at which doing the bidding of your donors raises such a stink of corruption that it's counterproductive at the polls -- but I don't see that, for members of either party. Which is why I think this New York Times story could just be breathless hype:
... “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer -- a 186-page investigation of donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities -- is proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy.

The book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return.

“We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Mr. Schweizer writes.

His examples include a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department....
And in the general election Hillary's opponent will be ... who? Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? No. Her opponent will be a Republican who's very much bought and paid for. (Here, for instance, is a new Politico story about Norman Braman, a self-made billionaire who's prepared to give Marco Rubio $10 million to $25 million -- surely out of pure altruism, right?)

Oh, but this is foreign. Well, that will inspire voter outrage if it goes beyond the usual bounds, with foreigners we consider truly hostile, not merely unsavory. Remember, we had a president not long ago who literally held hands with a Saudi prince. And the guy behind Iran-contra a few decades ago is spoken of with religious reverence by every Republican in America. So we have a high tolerance for deals with foreigners as well. (Remember, it was Reagan's vice president who succeeded in winning a third presidential term for their party, so we obviously didn't hold an Iran-contra grudge for very long.)

Of course, the press can treat the Clinton revelations as so unspeakably awful that they're shocking even by our usual standards, even if they're not particularly remarkable, and the public may buy that narrative. Ask Brian Williams and Bill O'Reilly about how press double standards can tailor public perceptions. We can see from the Times story that the plan is to make this seem worse than the usual run of mutual back-scratching:
But “Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling, both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book.
We need to clean house politically -- but we haven't done it up to now, and we routinely reelect pols who take a lot of money from a lot of sources for a lot of favors, so this should just be more of the same.

Here's the thing: We will elect a corrupt president in 2016. That's simply a fact. The question is whether we'll elect a corrupt president who'll take a wrecking ball to what's left of the social safety apparatus, to voting rights, to reproductive rights, to progressive taxation, and so on.

I say: Vote for the left-centrist crook, as opposed to one of the other crooks. It's important.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

CAN RUBIO GET AWAY WITH SAYING (IN SPANISH!) THAT HE'LL RETAIN DACA AS PRESIDENT (EVEN TEMPORARILY)?

The GOP Establishment's alterna-Jeb, Marco Rubio, will let the DREAMers stay in America as president, at least for a while, says Breitbart. Can a guy win the Republican nomination if he says that and lacks Jeb Bush's money and connections?
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, said he believes that President Barack Obama’s first executive amnesty for so-called DREAMers -- the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) -- is “important” and he won’t reverse it himself if elected president. He delivered these remarks in a Spanish-language interview he gave to Univision’s Jorge Ramos.

“I believe DACA is important. It can’t be terminated from one moment to the next, because there are already people benefiting from it,” Rubio said in Spanish on Ramos’s television program, according to an English translation provided by the media service Grabien. “But yes, it is going to have to end. It can’t be the permanent policy of the United States, and I don’t think that’s what they’re asking either. I think everyone prefers immigration reform.”

Ramos followed up, according to the translation, by asking: “But then, to clarify, you would put an end to DACA once immigration reform is approved, but what would happen, Senator, if there is no immigration reform; would you cancel DACA anyway?”
What Rubio said, according to the Grabien translation, is that no one should worry because he'll get immigration reform done as president, on a piece-by-piece basis.
Well, at some point it is going to have to end, that is to say, it can’t continue being the permanent policy of the United States. I believe, if I become President, it is going to be possible to achieve immigration reform. It is not going to be comprehensive, that is to say, it is not going to all be in one massive bill.
Really? That's the message that's going to get Rubio the nomination -- We'll keep the Obama status quo in place until we achieve our goal of immigration refor slowly and incrementally, passing bill after bill? Every right-winger thinks every immigration proposal is "amnesty." Why would the base support him on this? Can he even be a running mate after saying this?

And he said it in Spanish:



Maybe I'm wrong to think there's an audience for this in the GOP electorate. I just don't see it. I think this clip is toxic for him.

NO, CHRIS CHRISTIE IS NOT GOING TO MAKE A COMEBACK

Byron York has been watching the latest GOP cattle call in New Hampshire, and he thinks Chris Christie is poised for a comeback:
Chris Christie is poised to re-emerge after a number of early death pronouncements. There is a reason people liked the New Jersey governor before he became mired in the bridge scandal. Once a favorite of a lot of establishment GOP poobahs, Christie went down, down, down after problems at home and his decision (hesitation?) to hold off on campaigning while rivals got the jump on him. But Christie has an undeniable appeal to voters on the stump, and now that he is finally out on the stump, they're getting a chance to see it. Look for his stock to rise.
I've told you why I think Christie is toast -- primarily the embrace of President Obama after Sandy, and, beyond that, not so much Bridgegate itself as the fact that Bridgegate made him a laughingstock in "the liberal media" rather than a guy who verbally slapped down liberal critics and thwarted unions. But if all that's not enough to sink him in the Republican primaries, there's this:
Chris Christie took a centrist tone on guns Wednesday, calling for the “right balance” between gun control and the Second Amendment.

“We’ve got to make sure we have public safety, but on the other hand we have to protect people’s rights both as sportsmen and hunters and for self protection too, find the right balance,” Christie told a group of New Hampshire voters at Chez Vachon in Manchester, according to New Jersey newspaper The Record.

The comments came just over a week after news broke that the New Jersey Republican governor was not invited to address the NRA’s annual conference in Nashville last weekend.
As Jazz Shaw writes at Hot Air:
Christie hasn’t been a simple bystander. He signed a raft of gun bills in 2013, one of which required the state to turn over New Jersey mental health records to the feds. Others were just as disturbing. If he felt that this is what he had to do in order to “go along to get along” in the Garden State, that was his choice, but that’s something he’ll be held accountable for in the national race he’s pondering now. And when he answers questions like this when discussing gun control on the national stage, well... I wouldn’t expect his NRA “C” rating to be going up any time soon.
Christie has a "C" rating from the NRA? And, unlike, say, John Kasich, who once backed an assault weapons ban but now does what the NRA wants him to do, Christie hasn't become significantly more conservative on guns over the years? Then why have we ever talked about him as a potential Republican presidential nominee?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

RANDREW DICE CLAY?

Every Republican in the presidential race is going to say unkind things about Hillary Clinton, but is it a surprise that the nastiest zinger of the race so far came from the guy with a (deserved) reputation for snapping at journalists, particularly those who are women?
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) dinged Hillary Clinton during a speech in New Hampshire on Saturday, suggesting the Democratic presidential candidate could face a serious primary challenge.

"I'm starting to worry that when Hillary Clinton travels, there's gonna need to be two planes – one for her and her entourage, and one for her baggage," Paul, himself a presidential candidate, said to laughs and applause at the Republican Leadership Summit.

"I'm concerned that the plane with the baggage is really getting heavy and teetering," Paul added.
I get the feeling Paul is just getting warmed up. His confrontations with reporters suggest that he's not just running a tough campaign -- he viscerally has a mean streak, and we're going to see more of it as the months progress. I think that's really going to help him in the primary race, although I think there are too many hawks with too much money for him to actually to actually win the nomination. If he does somehow emerge victorious, I think most Americans are going to think he's too nasty to be president. But meanwhile, his party will cheer, which will only encourage him. So expect a lot more of this, and expect the insults to get a lot uglier.

DEATH PANELS! DID JEB JUST LOSE THE PRIMARIES?

I can't tell what the reaction in the GOP base is going to be to this:
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Jeb Bush, defending his efforts to keep alive Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman, when he was governor of Florida, suggested on Friday that patients on Medicare should be required to sign advance directives dictating their care if they become incapacitated.

A similar proposal by President Obama -- that doctors should be paid to advise patients on end-of-life decisions -- became a political firestorm in 2009, when Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate, claimed that the legislation would give bureaucrats the power to decide if some frail or disabled people were deserving of medical care. The assertion was shown to be false.

In 2010, Medicare tried to add a regulation that would permit “voluntary advance care planning” during yearly checkups. But after an uproar, President Obama’s administration pushed to drop that provision....
Well, Republicans won't let Obama get away with anything in this area, and if Hillary Clinton is elected president she'll undoubtedly get the same treatment. But what about Jeb? GOP base voters don't trust him. Won't they attack him for this?

I can't tell. The Big Lie that Republicans originally spread about this started with Betsey McCaughey, with Sarah Palin weighing in later, as PolitiFact noted in 2009:
On July 16, Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York and a conservative health care commentator, suggested that the Democratic plan included a measure requiring seniors be told how to end their lives. "Congress would make it mandatory — absolutely require -- that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner," she said on a radio show hosted by conservative Fred Thompson.

PolitiFact gave McCaughey a Pants on Fire rating for that statement. There were no mandatory sessions proposed. Instead, for the first time, Medicare would pay for doctors' appointments for patients to discuss living wills, health care directives and other end-of-life issues. The appointments were optional, and the AARP supported the measure.
Palin wrote later on Facebook:
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
So Republicans think there used to be (or still are!) mandatory "death panels" in Obamacare, in which people in life-or-death situations have to beg for their lives before heartless experts in a scene that could have come out of The Hunger Games. Many Democrats probably believe this, too.

Will the GOP base decide that Jeb's proposal is similar because it's mandatory? Or will the base conclude that, since no one from the evil government will tell you what to write on your end-of-life directive, it's freedom?

So far, I'm not seeing much noise on the right about this. Maybe Rick Santorum or Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee is saving it up as a later attack line to use on Jeb. But maybe not. Maybe there's a sense that Jeb's version of an end-of-life mandate is totally different.

Jeb did say this while talking about Terri Schiavo. I think the crazies probably admire what Jeb did in the Schiavo case, because (a) it's "pro-life" and (b) he scored a few momentary victories against us evil lefties for a while. This is one of the few area in which his record gives him an advantage over all the other candidates in wingnut voters' eyes -- he's squandering some of that, but he has some to squander.

If Jeb is the general election candidate, supporters of what he did in the Schiavo case will probably remember what he did (because conservatives have long memories). The rest of, alas, probably won't (we have shot memories). I'd love to think the Schiavo case would hurt him in a general election -- but it probably won't.

Friday, April 17, 2015

STOP TRYING TO MAKE JOHN KASICH HAPPEN. HE'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

Here comes Kasichmania?
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Gov. John Kasich is about to launch a national political committee that would allow him to raise money and his profile as he considers a run for president in 2016, sources close to the Republican said Thursday.

The effort, first reported on cleveland.com, has been in the works since Kasich's well-received visit last month to New Hampshire, which holds the first primary....
I think a lot of non-conservatives feel this way:



And there may be some truth to that. But I don't think he'll get that far. If he runs, plenty of people in the base are going to react the way Mofo Politics reacted when he put forth a plan to expand Medicaid in Ohio under Obamacare:
Kasich justifies his “very conservative” decision to expand Medicaid and implement Obamacare...
I mean, that’s what we’re supposed to do in life, right? Help our neighbor. Help people…that’s my whole philosophy in the state.

Medicaid is another one we did…making sure that people could get health care.

...

There’s a, kind of a big faith-based component of the conservative movement...so, to me, that’s very conservative.
On issue after issue, Kasich is severely conservative.

Guns

Kasich received an “F” rating from the NRA after voting for Bill Clinton’s 1994 Assault Weapons Ban (AWB).

Taxes

Kasich claims to be for lower taxes, but as Governor, he proposed “fee increases” on bank service, overnight trailer parks, bowling alleys, billiard parlors, hunting and fishing guides, racing events, and admission to museums, amusement parks, circuses, fairs, concerts, and sporting events.

Amnesty

On the topic of Obama’s Executive Amnesty, Kasich conceded that his immigration stance has “evolved” because he is “a little smarter now”...
The country needs healing...I wouldn’t ever be one to tell you that I don’t change my mind or that my thinking doesn’t evolve... I’m also a different guy than I was years ago.

This was accompanied by a subtle bit of Photoshop:



And here are a few skeptical Free Republic threads, in case you think that Mofo post is anomalous.

Meanwhile, as Joan Walsh has noted, many of the big-money boys don't like him either:
... why is [Scott] Walker still considered Bush’s top primary challenger, especially for the donor class, while Kasich can’t get started?

There’s an important glimpse of an answer in this dispatch from a Kasich meeting with big New York donors.

... Kasich left the crowd unwowed ... says the National Review’s Eliana Johnson....

Apparently Kasich turned them off with his “prickly” answer to a question from conservative intellectual powerhouse Avik Roy, about whether he wants to repeal Obamacare yet maintain its expansion of Medicaid. When pushed, Kasich defended Medicaid recipients: “Maybe you think we should put them in prison. I don’t. I don’t think that’s a conservative position. Because the reality is, if you don’t treat the drug addicted and the mentally ill and the working poor, you’re gonna have them and they’re gonna be a big cost to society.”

Another turn-off for the big New York money guys? “He also talked about the need for a renewed bipartisan spirit on both sides of the aisle, citing Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, and Jack Kemp and Charlie Rangel, as models for contemporary lawmakers to emulate,” Johnson reports. She concludes: “At the dinner’s close, there was little appetite for a Kasich presidency among those who’d assembled to hear him.”
Bipartisanship? Can't have that!

I don't know what's going on in the GOP. The fat cats cleared Mitt Romney out to make way for Jeb Bush, but now it looks as if Rubio, Christie, and Kasich will all run; they won't be able to dominate, but they will pick off votes from Jeb, thus possibly clearing the way for ... who? Walker? Cruz? Paul?

I know the thinking is that Kasich is running for VP because he's from electoral-vote-rich Ohio. But I think Jeb and Marco will be afraid to run with someone deemed a RINO, and, ideologically, Walker, Cruz, and Paul won't want to.

So I'm not seeing much upside for Kasich -- even though, yeah, he might win a general election, among non-crazy voters. (Though he does support the craziest idea ever, a balanced budget amendment, which would have made the New Deal illegal. So I'll be very happy if he's not on the ticket.)

JUST GIVE HER RICHARD COHEN'S JOB AND GET IT OVER WITH

Liz Mair was a Republican operative who was hired to be Scott Walker's digital strategist, but she had to resign after it was revealed that she'd posted a couple of Iowaphobic tweets:
“Morons across America are astounded to learn that people from *IOWA* grow up rather government-dependent. #agsubsidies #ethanol #brainless,” she tweeted on Jan. 22.

Two days later, she fired another missive against the Hawkeye State’s political status.

“The sooner we remove Iowa’s frontrunning status, the better off American politics and policy will be,” Mair tweeted on Jan. 24.
A visit to the "fact sheet" about herself on her website suggests that she regards herself as a young free-thinker with an attitude:
6. You hate gay people.

I'm actually a long-time gay rights supporter. I am on the board of the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry. I was on the board of GOProud. I've been on the record as supporting same-sex marriage for far longer than the vast majority of Democrats or liberals....

9. You're a racist/xenophobe.

This is true, actually. I am not a fan of Belgium and have met very few Belgians I like. I have a bias against Belgium and Belgians.

But I do like people of Latino, African and Asian extraction, as well as White people -- except if they're from Belgium.

10. You're a lesbian.

No, but I get that some people think any woman with short hair is a lesbian. I'm actually married to the guy I've been with since I was 18 and we have a kid. And yes, my husband was born a man with all the relevant bits, and still lives as a man with all the relevant bits.
So why, now that she's parlayed her fifteen minutes of hired-then-fired fame into a writing gig for the Daily Beast, does this seemingly edgy young conservative come off at the Beast like an old, tired sixtysomething op-ed writer?
[Hillary Clinton's campaign is] all so dull, so bland, so scripted, so planned, so typically political. And perhaps, just perhaps, it’s what American voters deserve.

Americans want to believe that we’re a nation of risk-takers, pioneers, people willing to cast comfort and safety aside to achieve a dream, tell the truth, and change the world. Some of us still are those things, too. But in reality, a lot of us have become something else in recent years: narcissistic, overly-cautious, superficial, reality-disconnected, and above all, very, very boring.

Even among those of us who loathe the former Madam Secretary, we have become in so many ways just like her campaign promises to be. We are, in effect, Ready for Hillary.

We have fallen in love with so-called “reality television,” which -- surprise! -- is often scripted and directed. We freak out about allowing 10-year-olds to play in the park unsupervised. We are obsessed with social media, posting selfies, and racking up followers, friends, and fans.

We frequently reject fully experiencing events and occasions in favor of documenting them, or more accurately documenting ourselves looking hot or cool at or during them. We veer toward what is comfortable and easy, just like Hillary and the Chipotle visit.

We avoid expressing any opinions that could be deemed “controversial” because it could impede our quest for popularity and acceptance. When someone ruffles feathers even just a little, our tendency is toward outrage, boycotts (or buy-ins), public humiliation, and pushing for firings.

We reject substance, preferring to focus on things like the optics of taking a sip of water, or being photographed looking at a smartphone. We wear modern versions of girdles and package-accentuating underwear so we can show off our “best selves.”

Many of us are concerned less with actual learning than just getting a good grade or diploma that we can show off. We think we deserve automatic promotions just for having been around or putting up with some nonsense or other...
Please! Enough! For the love of God, turn it off! I'll talk!

If you puréed the gray matter of Richard Cohen, Maureen Dowd, and David Brooks, threw in the preserved cerebellum of Andy Rooney, then formed the slurry into a new brain, it would write precisely this passage. I'm really amazed that she managed to leave out complaints about Kim 'n' Kanye, or "everybody gets a trophy" days.

Now, do you want an alternate theory for why the Hillary Clinton campaign is trying to be low-key? Maybe it's because Hillry's spent nearly a quarter of a century in the national spotlight being accused of murder, totalitarianism, fomenting jihad with her clandestine lesbian lover, and a host of other high crimes. Um, Liz, maybe she decided to let your side engage in all the nostril-flaring excess for a while.

WAIT -- WHY IS THIS SUCH GREAT NEWS FOR MARCO RUBIO?

The political press is reporting this breathlessly:
Sen. Marco Rubio’s splashy presidential-campaign announcement and his subsequent media blitz has likely helped him catch up with friend and former mentor Jeb Bush in their home state of Florida, according to a new poll of 400 registered Republican voters.

Rubio garnered 31 percent support from Republicans and essentially tied Bush’s 30 percent, according to a Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey conducted Tuesday through Thursday and shared exclusively with POLITICO.
At The American Spectator, which has a gushy feature story on Rubio ("Ignore the low poll numbers. Rubio has seen worse. He is an effective candidate, with a strong campaign team around him, and will almost certainly exceed expectations once again"), there are hosannas on the house blog:
RUBIO ROLLS

It didn’t take long. Mere days after Marco Rubio announced he would seek the Republican nomination for president with a right-populist message, a Mason-Dixon poll shows him slightly ahead of Jeb Bush in Florida.

Rubio’s 31 to 30 Florida lead is within the margin of error. But these numbers, as well as Bush’s sinking polls in New Hampshire, are blows to the conventional view that Bush III is the inevitable Republican nominee.
How is this poll a blow to the conventional wisdom? Rubio had a splashy candidate announcement and garnered a lot of positive press, which gave him a post-rollout bounce -- and that bounce still didn't give him more than parity in Florida with Jeb, who still hasn't made his formal announcement (and hasn't started spending much of the bajillion-dollar war chest he's likely to amass). What's going to happen to Rubio after this bounce dissipates and he's just one more guy with a rubber nose in the clown car?

Yes, Rubio was way behind Bush for quite a while in Florida, so this is an improvement -- but he actually was even with Bush in Florida early in 2014, according to several polls. So he's just making up lost ground. He actually has to win Florida (and a few other states) to be the nominee, no?

Scott Walker blew past Bush in a number of polls after his big CPAC speech, and he's still leading in a lot of polls (like the national Fox poll released two weeks ago). That's been a blow to the Bush-is-inevitable conventional wisdom. Wake me when Rubio is beating Bush anywhere.

RIGHT-WING GRIEVANCE HOARDERS ADD TO THEIR COLLECTION



Oh dear ... what has Hitlery KlintOOOOOOn, wannabe dictator of the United States of America, said now?



Really? She said the family shouldn't be involved in education?

Well, no, of course not, though you'd think so from stories like this one, from the Federalist:
During her first official campaign event in Iowa earlier this week, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton praised Common Core and referred to children’s education as a “non-family enterprise.” ...
And what exactly did she say? Here's the Federalist's transcript, from a C-SPAN video clip:
Hillary Clinton: You know, what I think about the really unfortunate argument that has been going on around Common Core, it’s very painful because the Common Core started off as a bipartisan effort. It was actually nonpartisan. It wasn’t politicized. It was to try to come up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country, no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was, that there wouldn’t be two tiers of education. Everybody would be looking at what would be learned doing their best to achieve that

I think part of the reason Iowa may be more understanding of this is you have had the Iowa core for years. The U.S. had a system plus the Iowa Assessment Test. I think I’m right in saying that I took those when I was in elementary school. The Iowa tests. So that Iowa has had a testing system based on a core curriculum for a really long time. You see the value of it. You understand why that helps you organize your whole education system.

And a lot of states, unfortunately, haven’t had that. They do not understand the value of a core in the sense, a Common Core, yes, of course, you can figure out the best way in your community to try to reach -- but your question is a larger one. How do we end up at a point where we are so negative about the most important non-family enterprise in the raising of the next generation which is how our kids are educated?
Yes, she's sticking up for national or statewide standards worked out under the aegis of the Evil Government. But did you catch the bit near the end of that transcript about how "you can figure out the best way in your community" to implement standards? Aren't parents part of the "community"?

And is her reference to school as a "non-family enterprise" really confusing? Isn't it obvious to anyone who's not an insane right-wing zealot that what she means is that the mot important things in a child's upbringing happen within the family, except school, which takes place in school buildings that aren't the home, at the hands of people who aren't family members? Is this really that difficult to grasp?

Well, yes, on the right it is -- or at least the right-wing media wants its target audience to misconstrue this. So, at PJ Media, we get this:
Just a reminder that Hillary’s “It Takes a Village” theme from the 1990s is her polite and folksy way of saying that in her socialist worldview, your children belong to the state, not to you.
A Red State blogger writes this:
Parents who send their children to school and expecting the school to “fix” them are the ones who do the most harm to their children and the education system in general. Why are we so negative about education, Mrs. Clinton? Because we see the results of where education has brought us since the movement began to make them do everything in place of parents.
Bizpac Review finds John Stossel stirring up outrage on Twitter:



See also National Review, the Medkia Research Council, Caffeinated Thoughts, Twitchy ...

You can criticize Hillary Clinton or endorsing Common Core if you don't like Common Core. But that's not what's going on here. These folks are trying to turn "non-family enterprise" into "you didn't build that" or "what difference, at this point, does it make?" -- phrases ripped from their original context so they mean, to conservatives, what they were never intended to mean.

And so the rage increases and the grievances pile up on the right.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

MARCO RUBIO FAILS TO GRASP THE IMPLICATIONS

I'm told that this is Marco Rubio trying to "find the middle ground on same-sex marriage":
When it comes to same-sex marriage, Marco Rubio is trying to stake out a position somewhere between Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz.

A day after being called the “candidate of yesterday” by CNN's Jake Tapper over his opposition to same-sex marriage during a CNN interview, Rubio told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos on Wednesday that he would participate in a gay wedding involving someone he loves. At the same time, he ... compared a gay wedding to a divorcee’s second marriage

“I’m a member of the Catholic faith,” the Florida senator said. “It teaches that marriages -- after you get married the first time, if you’ve been divorced you can’t be remarried, and yet people attend second marriages all the time.”
Right, Marco. So why not take that a step further? Because I've noticed an interesting thing: Even though you think they're immoral, you and your fellow Catholics aren't trying to make divorce and remarriage illegal. You folks live with reasonable level of contentment in a world in which all sorts of things that are forbidden in your faith are legal: contraception (yes, some religious conservatives want to ban that, but you don't seem to be one of them, Marco), premarital sex, in vitro fertilization, divorce. You guys are free not to indulge in any of these things -- but they're legal, and somehow you tolerate that. So why not same-sex marriage as well, even for people you don't love?

By the way, I'm wondering how many Catholic bakers and florists refuse to provide services for remarriages. Are there any? Maybe there are. I'd like to know.

I'M NOT SURE I HAVE MY FOREBEARS' STORIES STRAIGHT, EITHER

This is today's Hillary scandal:
Hillary Clinton’s statements that all her grandparents immigrated to the U.S. are in conflict with public records, a report says.

According to Buzzfeed, Clinton spoke in Norwalk, Iowa, on Wednesday about her family’s arrival in the country. “All my grandparents, you know, came over here,” she said.

Only her paternal grandfather, Hugh Rodham Sr., immigrated to the United States, according to Buzzfeed. Her paternal grandmother, Hanna Jones Rodham, was born in Pennsylvania, records show.

Clinton’s maternal grandparents, Della Howell and Edwin Howell, were both born in Illinois, according to records.

Clinton gave similar comments in a speech in Louisville, Ky., last April, saying her paternal grandmother “immigrated with her family as a young girl to Scranton and went to work -- very young -- in a silk mill.”
I think I understand this. I'm a dozen years younger than Hillary Clinton, but I'm of similar ancestry -- my grandparents are a mix of immigrants and children of immigrants. My maternal grandfather (who died before I was born) and grandmother were both born in America, the children of immigrants. My father's parents were immigrants -- or so I've been told. I'm not 100% sure I have their story straight. My father died when I was nine. These grandparents moved down to Florida in my childhood, and my mother's relationship with my father's family was never very good, so I lost touch with them. I never discussed this with them, or with any cousins. (I lost touch with them as well.) And my mother, while still sharp in her late eighties, has never been focused on nailing down the specifics.

I'm not sure what Hillary Clinton knew about her maternal grandparents from family lore. Hillary's mother's father died before Hillary was born. Hillary's mother's mother "essentially abandoned" the family when Hillary's mother was young, according to Hillary's memoir Living History. Hillary's mother spent several years of her childhood being raised by her grandparents. It doesn't sound like a cozy extended-family situation in which Little Hillary would say, "Grandma, tell me about the Old Country."

And remember that, in those generations of immigrants and children of immigrants, it was common not to talk about the past. (The story in my wife's family is that her father and his siblings literally didn't know which Mitteleuropean country their immigrant grandfather came from or what his first language was.) So some of us whose ancestors immigrated to America in that era don't necessarily have their stories straight.

I find this in a Mediaite story:
Now, second generation experiences are a fairly legitimate subject to discuss in America, but they’re wildly different from the first generation -- a.k.a. “the immigrant” -- experience.
I don't think that's necessarily true. Culturally, there didn't seem to be much difference between my immigrant paternal grandparents and my non-immigrant grandmother. They all spoke English without an Italian accent, because they'd all been speaking English since childhood (the immigrant grandparents came here when they were young) -- yet they were all children of immigrants, which meant they experienced their parents' sense of being outsiders.

Hillary Clinton has only occasionally talked about her grandparents, and she could have told the stories she's told with accurate information without really losing the point of the anecdotes. Her grandparents grew up as both Americans and outsiders -- that's true for the one born in Wales and for the ones who were born here as children of recent immigrants, just as it's true of my U.S.-born grandparents and the grandparents who came here from Italy as children. So I give her a pass on this.

CAN THESE SECRETIVE RIGHT-WING CREEPS THWART THE OTHER SECRETIVE RIGHT-WING CREEPS? (A: PROBABLY NOT.)

This National Journal story suggests that there could be a punishing intraconservative war in the 2016 campaign, though I'm not going to cook up too much popcorn in anticipation:
A secretive group that serves as the umbrella operation for leaders and activists within the conservative movement will host two meetings in the coming months, National Journal has learned, the first to vet Republican presidential candidates and the second to discuss coalescing behind one of them.

The Council for National Policy, a shadowy organization of several hundred dues-paying members, typically meets three times a year in various locations around the country. But with the 2016 cycle accelerating, and many conservative leaders intent on rallying behind a single candidate, CNP's leadership is taking extraordinary measures -- scheduling two top-priority meetings outside of Washington -- and inviting a large number of nonmembers to both....

This sequence of events will be the manifestation of a year's worth of private meetings around the country ... in which leaders from the faith and tea-party communities have agreed on the importance of rallying their followers behind a single conservative candidate who might stand a chance of defeating the "establishment" favorite in the GOP primary....
So who are these folks?
CNP is known to represent all three legs of the conservative "stool" -- social, fiscal, and national security -- but there has always been a special emphasis on the first. CNP is currently led by Tony Perkins, who also serves in a much more visible role as president of the Family Research Council in Washington.
See, I want to believe that these people can gum up the works for Jeb Bush, and for the Establishmentarians who want to force him on the GOP base. I want to believe that they can get an unelectable religious-right zealot nominated. But I don't think they have the juice.

If it were ten, twenty, or thirty years ago, I'd say a group like this would have real clout:
CNP was conceived in 1981 by at least five fathers, including the Rev. Tim LaHaye, an evangelical preacher who was then the head of the Moral Majority. (LaHaye is the co-author of the popular Left Behind series that predicts and subsequently depicts the Apocalypse). Nelson Baker Hunt, billionaire son of billionaire oilman H.L. Hunt (connected to both the John Birch Society and to Ronald Reagan's political network), businessman and one-time murder suspect T. Cullen Davis, and wealthy John Bircher William Cies provided the seed money.

... Christian activist Paul Weyrich took responsibility for bringing together the best minds of conservatism, and his imprint on the group's mission is unmistakable....

... the CNP has functioned as a sausage factory for conservative ideas of a particular goût: strong affirmations of military power, Christian heritage, traditional values, and leave-us-alone-get-off-our-backs legislation.

The group has (or used to have) a kingmaker reputation, primarily for this reason:
In 1999, candidate George W. Bush spoke before a closed-press CNP session in San Antonio. His speech, contemporaneously described as a typical mid-campaign ministration to conservatives, was recorded on audio tape.

(Depending on whose account you believe, Bush promised to appoint only anti-abortion-rights judges to the Supreme Court, or he stuck to his campaign "strict constructionist" phrase. Or he took a tough stance against gays and lesbians, or maybe he didn't).

... Shortly thereafter, magisterial conservatives pronounced the allegedly moderate younger Bush fit for the mantle of Republican leadership.

The two events might not be connected. But since none of the participants would say what Bush said, the CNP's kingmaking role mushroomed in the mind's eye, at least to the Democratic National Committee....
More recently, the CNP gained notoriety for putting up fierce resistance to Rudy Giuliani in his pursuit of the 2008 nomination, and for opposing Mitt Romney in that same campaign.

But John McCain wasn't a favorite in this crowd, and he won the '08 nomination. Then Romney won it four years later, even though the group helped raise $1.8 million for Rick Santorum (late in the process, which probably helps explain why there's an effort under way by the group to pick a candidate early this time).

It's been widely reported that Sarah Palin was vetted by CNP before John McCain put her on his ticket in 2008. But I don't see anything similar about Paul Ryan in 2012, although you can find praise for him on CNP's website (here's David Limbaugh saying "thank God for Paul Ryan" in a 2012 speech to CNP).

I suspect you can't challenge these guys too forcefully if you want to be on the GOP ticket, but I think Jeb and the fillers of his war chest can probably roll right over them. The most I'll say is that if he wins the nomination he'll probably have to mollify them with his VP choice, and since they're also defense hard-liners, he's not going to pick Rand Paul as his running mate. But I would be delighted to be wrong about this. I hope these folks make a lot of mischief.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

ANN COULTER: SO DESPERATE FOR MATERIAL SHE'S CANNIBALIZING HER OLD RANTS

Talking Points Memo reports:
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter advocated for the administration of literacy tests as a prerequisite for voting on Wednesday during an appearance on "Fox & Friends."

During a segment on how poorly informed American voters are, Fox News host Brian Kilmeade asked Coulter whether it bothered her that her vote counted just as much as someone who knew nothing about politics.

"More than I can say," Coulter said. "I just think it should be, well for one thing, a little more difficult to vote. There's nothing unconstitutional about literacy tests."
Hmm, let's see: On August 17, 1999, Coulter said this on Fox's Hannity & Colmes:
I think there should be a literacy test and a poll tax for people to vote.
On September 29, 2006, again on Fox, she told Neil Cavuto:
Way too many people vote. We should have fewer people voting. There ought to be a poll tax to take the literacy test before voting.



New material, Ann: try writing some.

In the Fox & Friends appearance today, there was also this:
Throughout the discussion, Coulter maintained that voting was too easy.

"We have ballots being given in 124 different languages," Coulter said. "And I'm pretty sure Senate debates will not be taking place in Urdu. So what are they voting on?"
I'd love to know where she got that number. The Voting Rights Act requires ballots to be printed in languages other than English when a certain percentage of voters in a voting subdivision are insufficiently fluent in English but fluent in another language -- but the number of other languages in which ballots are required to be printed isn't 124, according to this 2011 notice from the Federal Register -- it's only 21. And 12 of those 21 languages are Native American languages.

Maybe Coulter has a source for that 124 figure that I don't know about. I'll stand corrected if so. But I'm skeptical.

Oh, and let me note for the record that this bilingual ballot requirement was expanded by Congress in 1992, and the expansion was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. It was a different country then.

NO, REPUBLICANS ARE NOT "SOFTENING" ON THE MINIMUM WAGE

A fast-growing movement is calling for an increase in the national minimum wage to $15 an hour, and according to a story in The New York Times, that's excellent news for John McCai-- ... er, uncomfortable news for Hillary Clinton:
The grass-roots energy building around the minimum wage issue may upend Hillary Rodham Clinton’s plans to ease into proposing specific economic policies.

The issue will be in the foreground on Wednesday, when fast-food and other low-wage workers plan a nationwide walkout that is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to rally support for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. The protest is the latest show of strength by the Fight for $15, a campaign that economists partly credit with the recent decisions by employers like Walmart and McDonald’s to raise the minimum wage they pay workers....

“The campaign is clearly going to have to come out with a position on it,” said Dean Baker, a progressive economist who met with economic advisers to Mrs. Clinton on other issues. “There is pressure on her to come up with a number.” ...
Curiously, this movement is putting much less pressure on Republican presidential aspirants, according to the Times. Now, you'd think that's because Republican presidential wannabes are unswervingly opposed to the minimum wage. But that's not what the Times story says. It strongly suggests that Republicans are perfectly cool with the existence of the minimum wage, and are therefore pretty much in the same boat as Clinton (and President Obama) when it comes to the issue of a big increase:
Even Republicans, whose party has long been skeptical of the minimum wage, have begun to soften their opposition. “I’m not for repealing the minimum wage,” Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said at a candidate forum in January. “But I can tell you, I don’t want people to make $10.10 an hour. I want them to make $30 an hour.”
So there are no qualms about the minimum wage on the part of Rubio (or, by implication, the rest of the GOP field)?

Sorry, that's not accurate. This quote is thoroughly out of context. It comes from a January forum sponsored by the Koch-funded Freedom Partners and moderated by ABC's Jonathan Karl. Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz all participated -- and not one of them was willing to say whether, ideally, there should be a federal minimum wage at all. Cruz said that "the minimum wage consistently hurts the most vulnerable." Paul said, "The minimum wage is only harmful when it's above the market wage" -- which means that he believes it's never actually useful, and that it's harmful except in those special moments when wages are already high, at which point it's completely ineffective economically. Rubio says it's "a disruption that we don't need."

Karl repeatedly tries to pin the three candidates down on the existence of the minimum wage and the proper rate. Their answers are pure evasion, but not one of them will say that the minimum wage is a good thing, and not one of them will say that the minimum wage should be raised at all.

This is consistent with other statements they've made. In 2013, Rubio told Charlie Rose, "I don't think a minimum wage law works." That same year, Cruz, on Facebook, called an Obama administration proposal for an increase in the minimum wage "zombie economics," linking to a Forbes opinion column that said, "Using [Paul] Krugman’s terminology: The idea that government can create prosperity by enacting a higher minimum wage is 'a zombie idea ... that has been thoroughly refuted by analysis and evidence, and should be dead.'” And other top Republicans feel more or less the same way. Last year, Scott Walker said, of his state's minimum wge (which is set at the federal level), "I'm not going to repeal it, but I don't think it serves a purpose." Jeb Bush last month said, "I think state minimum wages are fine. The federal government shouldn’t be doing this. This is one of those poll-driven deals."

***

I'm going to lengthen this post significantly by giving you the complete exchange from that forum with Jonathan Karl. Read it. Then tell me: Are these guys softening on the minimum wage?
JONATHAN KARL: Well, let me just two specifics here, one: I think an easy one with the three of you-- the minimum wage. I think all three of you have come out against raising the minimum wage. So my question is do you think there should be a federal minimum wage at all? Just simple yes or no answer.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: No, it's more than a yes or no answer. Those are always-- the bottom line is--

JONATHAN KARL: No, no.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: --I'm not for repealing the minimum wage. But I can tell you, I don't want people to make $10.10 an hour. I want them to make $30 an hour, $35, $40 an hour. And the only way you're going to get there, not through a law but through a growing economy that creates those jobs-- and then have-- giving people the opportunity to make that and more. And my problem with raising the minimum wage is not that I wanna deny someone $10.10. I'm worried about the people whose wage is gonna go down to zero because you've now made them more expensive than a machine.

JONATHAN KARL: But you're not for repealing the minimum wage. You think there should be a federal minimum wage. You're happy where it is now at $7.25 an hour?

SENATOR TED CRUZ: John, I think it's important to look at who loses out. You know, we had a debate on the minimum wage just recently. And I gave a floor speech on the Senate floor with three simple charts, $10.10, the proposed Obama minimum wage. And then the next chart Marco just referenced was $0.00 which is the real Obama minimum wage because when you have the lowest labor force participation since 1978 to the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs under the Obama economy that's their minimum wage.

JONATHAN KARL: No, I--

SENATOR TED CRUZ: And then let me tell you the third number I had up there was $46.98. $46.98 is the average hourly wage of an oil and gas worker in North Dakota. And what I wanna see is an awful lot more people making $40 and $50 and $60 a week-- an hour and an awful lot less people making zero dollars a week.

JONATHAN KARL: Okay, but-- and I wanna-- I wanna move off this. I just very sh-- do you think there should be a minimum wage at all?

SENATOR TED CRUZ: I think--

JONATHAN KARL: $7.25, is that the magic number? Is that where we are? I mean, you--

SENATOR TED CRUZ: --I think the minimum wage consistently hurts the most vulnerable. So, for example, on this--

JONATHAN KARL: --so there shouldn't be one. The market should set the minimum wage?

SENATOR TED CRUZ: --let me give you an example of this increase to $10.10 that Obama was urging. The Congressional budget office estimated up to one million people would lose their jobs. And the people who would lose their jobs are low-income, primarily African-American and Hispanic workers. And let me make it very real, 1957 when my dad came to the United States, he was 18. He couldn't speak English. So his first job was washing dishes. He made 50 cents an hour. Why did he get that job? Because you didn't have to speak English to take a dish and put it under hot water. Now if we had come in and made the minimum wage $2 an hour, you know what would of happened? They would of fired my dad and they would of bought a dishwasher.

JONATHAN KARL: So it's--

SENATOR TED CRUZ: That's who gets hurt.

JONATHAN KARL: --so let me try this one more time. Senator Paul, you gave me--

JONATHAN KARL: --an answer.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Let me make a comment.

JONATHAN KARL: Just a straight--

SENATOR RAND PAUL: You know, I think what's important even more than whether we should have and what we should have or how much it should be is what is our attitude towards work? I'll give you an idea of, like, Michelle Obama, what she said about her kids. She wanted them to get minimum wage jobs so they could see how terrible it was to get a minimum wage job.

I see it completely the opposite I have two boys. One works delivering pizza, the other one works at a call center while going to school and they make minimum wage. And I'm proud of them. I'm proud of them when they go, "Dad, I've got money and I will pay for some things."

JONATHAN KARL: Right, so is-- but before I move on, would you give a yes or no if you think that we should have one?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: I could go into a long answer again if you'd like.

JONATHAN KARL: No, no, I just want a straight answer. I really don't want a long answer.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: No, here's the short answer--

JONATHAN KARL: But you could also say you don't wanna answer. That's fine too.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: --no, here's the short answer.

JONATHAN KARL: It's a free country.

SENATOR RAND PAUL: The minimum wage is only harmful when it's above the market wage. Okay, so when it's above the market wage it causes unemployment. The simple way to look at this is that if it's $7 an hour and labor can afford ten workers at $7 an hour, if you make it $14 they'll afford five workers. So you will have unemployment. The CBO says it would cost a half million jobs. So this is an economic argument. This is something that should be done in a rational way, not an emotional way.

JONATHAN KARL: Okay, so let me move onto to another--

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Did you like our answers?

JONATHAN KARL: --you wanna get really quickly?

SENATOR RAND PAUL: Did you like our answers?

SENATOR TED CRUZ: He was persuaded. I think John--

SENATOR TED CRUZ: --agrees with him now.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: I just wanted to-- as a practical matter I'm not calling to repeal the minimum wage. I'm not saying to get rid of it as a practical matter. I think it is what it is and we don't-- that's a disruption that we don't need with all so many other disruptions happening.

But I will say this, I think that all this focus that the president has on the minimum wage is a cure-all for the, you know, the problems being faced by working Americans is not only a waste of time, I think it shows how un-serious he really is about dealing with the challenges of our time.

CHRIS CHRISTIE ESSENTIALLY REPEATS SCOTT WALKER'S FOREIGN POLICY "GAFFE"

When Scott Walker said his experience as governor had prepared him to deal with ISIS, it was widely described as a gaffe:
In response to a question about how he would deal with global threats such as the one posed by ISIS, Walker drew from his personal experience.

"If I can take on a 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," Walker said on the CPAC stage, after giving a longer answer about how he would handle ISIS if he were the president.

... Walker has faced bipartisan criticism for the comment...
But in an interview with Hugh Hewitt yesterday, Chris Christie said more or less the same thing. Emphasis added below:
HH: How do you think you could stand up against the Russian autocrat and his PRC counterparts?

CC: How do you think, Hugh?

HH: (laughing)

CC: I mean, you know...

HH: I just ask the questions, Governor.

CC: Listen, most of the time, you know, you’ll see a lot of people in the media who criticize me for being too tough, and being too direct and too blunt. Let me put it this way. My view is this. There would be no misunderstandings between me and any foreign leaders if I decided to run for president and was elected. Our allies would know that I would stand firmly with them without reservation, and our adversaries would know that this United States under that leadership would stand firmly opposed to those things which we believe are contrary to American interests. And we haven’t had that for six years. We’ve had a president who has run an absolutely timid, ineffective foreign policy, not only him, but his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. And so the fact is that I don’t know who Vladimir Putin least wants to be president of the United States. I couldn’t guess that. But I would tell you this. There would be no misunderstandings between Mr. Putin and I if I were president.
When "a lot of people in the media" criticize Christie "for being too tough," what are they specifically criticizing him for doing? Cutting government workers' benefits and yelling at people. Christie is telling Hewitt that if you've seen the things he does that the media says are "too tough," that's all you need to know about how he'd deal with Putin. Christie crushes unions! Christie tells it like it is! If you can do that, you can deal with extremely complicated geopolitical issues as president -- right, Hugh?

I've never thought Walker's statement was a gaffe -- I still believe the GOP voter base agrees with him that depth of knowledge is less important than dividing the world into good people and evil people and endeavoring to respond to the evil people by kicking their asses. I feel the same way about what Christie said -- although I think he lost Republican voters a long time ago and will never get them back, I think if they were still open to him, they'd like this. In any case, it's now clear that Walker wasn't being uniquely simple-minded -- Christie is no different from Walker on this.

But Christie won't be called on it, at least by the mainstream media, because the mainstream media still likes Christie, even if no one else does anymore.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

AT RUBIO'S FAVORITE PROTESTANT CHURCH, HOMOSEXUALITY IS LIKE ADDICTION AND THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION IS SATANIC

Bruce Wilson of TWOCARE reports that Marco Rubio, who defines himself as a Catholic, nevertheless has regularly attended a Protestant Miami megachurch, Christ Fellowship:
"On most Saturday nights, we still attend services at Christ Fellowship, especially if Pastor Rick [Blackwood] is preaching the sermon. His sermons still inspire me to grow in my Christian faith... Some of my Catholic friends occasionally express concern over my continued association with Christ Fellowship. But I don’t think you can go to church too often...”
--Marco Rubio, “An American Son: A Memoir”
Wilson tells us:
Christ Fellowship ... requires prospective employees to sign the following sexual purity oath:
“I hereby certify that I am a Christian, not a practicing homosexual in accordance with scriptures (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9-10, I Timothy 1:10)”
In a 2012 guest sermon at the church, Dr. Bob Barnes compared homosexuality to addiction:
“Homosexual sin is no worse than heterosexual sin. There is not a hierarchy of sins. Sin is sin. But, if I find somebody that has a predisposition, a genetic predisposition, or a chromosomal predisposition toward substance abuse, it doesn’t mean I should cave in to substance abuse. There are people who just have a predisposition to addiction.”
Wilson notes that the church is vehemently anti-evolution as well, quoting this 2014 sermon by Rick Blackwood:
“The scientific method actually teaches that the Bible is science because it is based on observable evidence, and that evolution is actually blind faith because it is not based on observable evidence. Let me say that again. Evolution is not based on observable evidence. Creation is based on observable evidence.”
I'd like to add that in a 2010 sermon, Blackwood said that the theory of evolution is satanic:
Here is my proposition for you, and this is what I want you to get: Evolution is fundamentally an attack by Satan on the glory of God.

... Satan’s goal is to steal credit for the creation away from God, and than to assign that credit to evolution. When he is able to get people to believe that, he is then able to dethrone God as the Creator in the minds of people and then to enthrone spontaneous generation, to enthrone evolution so people then exchange the worship of the Creator, the worship of God, for the worship of the earth, for the worship of the universe, and for the worship of nature. That is pervasive in our society, in our culture. Look at what the Bible says in Psalm 19:1: “The universe declares the glory of God” (Not the glory of evolution).

... God said, “I created all of that to declare my glory to you. The universe declares my glory.” But Satan says “No, No. The universe does not declare the glory of God. The universe declares the glory of evolution. God did not make you. Evolution made you. Spontaneous generation made you, and since you evolved from Mother Nature, you need to exchange your worship of God for the worship of Mother Nature.” Mother Nature becomes the object of worship, and worshipping Mother Nature is really what some people are doing, and that is exactly what the Bible says would happen in the latter days.
Wilson focuses on references to demonic possession in Blackwood's sermons -- yes, Blackwood believes in demons, though not in exorcism, as he says in this sermon:
The answer to demons is not some spooky exorcism. The answer to demons is not some weird, bizarre ritual like throwing holy water or whatever. The answer to demons is not that kind of thing. You should never try to talk to demons. You talk to God. The power that drives demons out of people is the presence of Jesus. In other words, demon-controlled people do not need an exorcist. They don’t need you and me to go around shouting at demons to come out of people. The power that drives out demons is the presence of Christ.
Hey, a lot of Americans believe in one Devil, or many. In a deeply religious, largely Christian country, that's not surprising.

But to me the evolution thing is a dealbreaker. Does Marco Rubio think evolution is satanic? Jeremiah Wright's most intemperate language got hung around Barack Obama's neck -- will anyone ask Rubio if he repudiates the more extreme things Blackwood and his colleagues say? And if not, press corps, why not?

SOMEWHERE IN HELL, DAVID BRODER IS LOOKING UP AT MATT BAI AND SMILING

Chris Christie is back, and Matt Bai is feeling a thrill go up his leg at the governor's braveness and boldness and courage and guts:
... if you’re Christie, and you find yourself ready at a moment when the voters seem less ready to have you, where do you go to get your groove back? How do you re-establish yourself among Republican primary voters as the serious-minded reformer who seemed, for a time anyway, to tower above the rest of the prospective Republican field?

The answer is: You go back to what you do best, and maybe better than anyone else.

And so Tuesday in New Hampshire, Christie will reignite a crucial but divisive debate in American politics, unveiling a surprisingly detailed plan to remake the entitlement programs that account for more than half of federal spending now (and growing). As he did in New Jersey during those first, heady years of his governorship, Christie is taking on a longer-term problem that candidates in either party have historically tried to ignore, mainly because it entails nothing but bad news and thankless choices.

... Christie’s gambit on entitlements is about more than the policy. It’s also about reintroducing him to primary voters as the only guy out there who is willing to tell you, in blunt terms, what you need to hear about the realities of government, whether it makes for fun conversation or not.
So which specifical vegetables -- or cat food -- is Christie trying to get us to eat?
On Medicare ... Christie will propose gradually raising the retirement age to 69 (it’s currently inching toward 67) and expanding existing “means testing”...

Christie’s boldest idea, and the one certain to be most provocative, has to do with Social Security, where he is delving into a problem that most Democrats won’t acknowledge and most Republicans ... don’t want to touch.

Currently, Social Security has none of the means testing done in Medicare; in other words, you get back more than you paid in, regardless of how much money you might still be earning. Christie would change this, so that seniors earning $80,000 and up would begin to see their benefits shaved on a sliding scale....

Christie would also raise the normal retirement age for Social Security -- quickly, by actuarial standards -- to 69 (it’s currently headed for 67) and the early-retirement age from 62 to 64. And he would eliminate payroll taxes entirely for workers after they turn 62, as an incentive to keep them in the workforce (and because they’ve already paid their share of Social Security).
(Yeah, because what could be better for a country in the midst of a youth unemployment crisis than forcing old people to stay in the workforce longer?)
The one very sensible cost-saving measure that Christie doesn’t include in his plan, notably, is the progressive idea to lift the “cap” on payroll taxes, so that the top percent of American earners pay more than a fraction of their wages into the system.
What?! One of the hedge-fund community's favorite pols doesn't want to raise taxes on the rich? Why, I'm shocked.

Can Christie sell this brave, bold idea? Bai sure thinks so:
... what Christie knows about himself, in his better moments, is that he remains the best pure communicator in Republican politics today, and maybe in American politics, period. Say what you will about the man and his temperament, bury him in a mountain of negative polls if you want, but when you put him in a room with actual voters and give him an argument he believes in, he’ll take his chances every time.

This is why Christie is willing not only to run against the popular perception, and to take his time about doing it, but also to run on a policy platform that’s sure to meet with demagoguery. “I don’t think there’s any candidate who’s spent more time on their feet talking to real people than I have,” Christie said.

And so he’ll take what he calls his “Tell It Like It Is” tour to two town halls in New Hampshire this week, in the warm-up act for a presidential campaign that none of us should regard too lightly. Chris Christie is ready, and it’s almost time to perform.
I think Bai needed a cigarette after that.

Bai asks Christie about running for president, and he's coy, saying he won't decide for a couple of months. I hope he doesn't chicken out, because there's nothing I want more for ideas like this than to see them presented by a guy who's as unpopular across the political spectrum as Christie is now. It's hard to imagine a worse messenger -- and it's hard to imagine a worse target market for this message than the old, entitled Republican voter base.

So please proceed, governor.

****

UPDATE:



How true.

ERICK ERICKSON'S FAILED EFFORT TO RALLY THE CRAZY BASE FOR RUBIO

Erick Erickson, who wants the rage junkies in the GOP voter base to believe that he's one of them even as he hobnobs with insiders and swells, has taken to FoxNews.com to argue that Marco Rubio is still a Tea Party original gangsta at heart:
... In the same year Rand Paul won [his Senate seat], the man who started the major revolt between grassroots activists and party leaders ran. It was the Rubio race that really exposed the divide between the base and the leadership....

Rubio, over 2009, rose in the polls from three percent to victory....

Once in Washington, Rubio remained a favorite of the grassroots until he tried to cut a deal with the Democrats on immigration. To his credit, he went on Rush Limbaugh’s program to defend it. He made aggressive outreach to conservatives behind the scenes. But it hurt him and the deal died.

Since then, Rubio has been very quiet. Behind the scenes, he has voted quite often with Senators Cruz and Mike Lee of Utah. He has been a voice for fiscal sanity, small government, and strong foreign policy....

Rubio ... is the original Tea Party candidate. His candidacy united the grassroots against the leadership and he won. The Washington crowd convinced themselves he could not win, but the grassroots proved they could pick a winner. Rubio was the first.

While Cruz and Paul began forging coalitions, Rubio worked to not undermine his relations with the grassroots while not antagonizing the establishment.
"Rubio worked to not undermine his relations with the grassroots"? That's hilarious. Erickson tries to paper over the huge, fatal mistake Rubio made by pursuing immigration reform, but the folks in the GOP grassroots despised that effort and still do. Go read the Free Republic thread I quoted in my last post if you doubt that, or go to this Nate Cohn post and look at the chart of Rubio's plummeting poll numbers among Republicans ever since he went over to what the base considers he immigration dark side (as it were).

Yet Erickson is still defending Rubio. He laughably describes Rubio as one of three "grassroots revolutionaries," along with Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Why is Erickson doing this? In large part because Rubio cares about what's really important to insider extremists like Erickson: maximal tax and regulatory relief for the already obscenely wealthy and underregulated, and maximal defense spending. All other issues, including immigration nativism, are just "Judas goat" issues, issues meant to keep the crazy base angry and loyally voting for the party that wants to give the most to plutocrats and defense contractors.

Unfortunately for Rubio and Erickson, crazy-base voters actually take all that "seal the borders" talk very, very seriously. It's not an issue on which the're willing to make tradeoffs.

So sorry, Erick, but your pal Rubio is toast.