Archive for the ‘Election’ Category
Kevin Drum has a very interesting post. Well worth reading—and it’s brief: 4 paragraphs, one chart.
This is a blog post about fanatical centrists, British debt history, and ponies.
Start with the fanatical centrists: Martin Longman flies into a well-justified rage over a “centrist” column that concedes that the Iran deal is something we really need to do, effectively concedes that the arguments of the deal’s opponents are scurrilous and irresponsible — but condemns Obama for being “dismissive” of the opponents’ arguments.
That’s something that happens to me all the time. I constantly get mail — and sometimes other peoples’ columns — condemning me, not for being wrong, but for being dismissive of the arguments of those I criticize. After all, these are important people, so they deserve to be treated with respect. Right?
If people consistently make logically incoherent, ignorant arguments, the duty of a commentator is to say just that — not to mislead readers by pretending that they’re actually serious and making sense. You shouldn’t make gratuitous insults — I have never, to my knowledge, declared that someone’s mother was a hamster and his father smelt of elderberries. But stupid/ignorant is as stupid/ignorant does, and influence changes nothing.
Where I’ve been getting pushback lately is in my pronouncements that the whole Republican field is talking nonsense on economic policy. That’s a terrible thing to say, I’m told. But what if it’s true? And of course it is.
Consider a couple of recent entries. . .
Kevin Drum comments at Mother Jones:
A “friend” of mine forced me to read the transcript of Sean Hannity’s interview with Donald Trump earlier this week, and it was fascinating in a train wreck kind of way. After a few minutes, Hannity said it was time to get serious and talk policy. Trump says great, let’s do it. So Hannity then tries manfully to get Trump to explain how Mexico is going to pay for a wall on the border. No dice:
HANNITY: You talked about Mexico. How quickly could you build the wall? How do you make them pay for the wall, as you said?
TRUMP: So easy. Will a politician be able to do it? Absolutely not….
HANNITY: Is it a tariff?
TRUMP: In China — listen to this. In China, the great China wall — I mean, you want to talk about a wall, that’s a serious wall, OK….
TRUMP: So let’s say you’re talking about 1,000 miles versus 13,000. And then they say you can’t do it. It’s peanuts. It’s peanuts….
HANNITY: So through a tariff?
TRUMP: We’re not paying for it. Of course.
HANNITY: You want to do business, you’re going to help us with this.
TRUMP: Do you know how easy that is? They’ll probably just give us the money….And I’m saying, that’s like 100 percent. That’s not like 98 percent. Sean, it’s 100 percent they’re going to pay. And if they don’t pay, we’ll charge them a little tariff. It’ll be paid.
Trump gets five chances to explain his plan, and all we get is endless bluster. It’s easy! Hell, the Great Wall of China cost more! We’re not paying for it! The closest Trump comes to an answer—after prompting from Hannity—is some kind of tariff on Mexican goods, which of course is illegal under NAFTA. Trump would have to abrogate the treaty and get Congress to agree. In other words, maybe just a wee bit harder than he thinks.
(Oh, and Mexico’s president says the entire idea is a fantasy. “Of course it’s false,”a spokesman told Bloomberg News. “It reflects an enormous ignorance for what Mexico represents, and also the irresponsibility of the candidate who’s saying it.”)
The whole interview with Hannity is like this. The fascinating part is . . .
Here are some very interesting posts that I won’t blog in detail. But I will say that they are well worth teh click:
Three Studies Confirm: Obamacare Isn’t a Job Killer (important because the GOP repeatedly claimed that Obamacare will kill jobs. It didn’t.)
The Iran Deal Benefits U.S. National Security: An Open Letter from Retired Generals and Admirals (no better deal is possible, and this deal is in fact good—most of those criticizing have never read it, and none of them have a better alternative to propose.)
Whatever happened to that sequester thingy? (another example of the dysfunctional, nonproductive, self-indulgent, and corrupt US Congress)
Rare Octopus’s Mating and Preying Habits Have Cephalopod Fans Psyched (I feel close to the spirit of Stephen Maturin in this article.)
Radley Balko has his own excellent collection of links, to wit:
- Two journalists, one from the Huffington Post and one from the Washington Post, who were arrested during last year’s Ferguson, Mo., protests have been charged with what essentially amounts to “contempt of cop.” That isn’t and shouldn’t be a crime, but it isn’t even clear they did that. Certainly doesn’t do much to dispel the accusation that St. Louis County prosecutors are petty, vindictive, and use their power as a weapon.
- On the importance of jury nullification, and why informing jurors of their rights can never be a crime.
- Joe Biden has a long and sordid record supporting policies that led to mass incarceration.
- Prisoners in New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility say they were subjected to indiscriminate beatings after the high-profile escape last month.
- Amnesty International formally endorses the decriminalization of consensual sex work.
- Albuquerque police department refuses to release body camera footageof the critical moments before its SWAT team shot and killed a man.
- The threat to free speech on campus and “the coddling of the American mind.”
- Federal judge strikes down Idaho’s ridiculous “ag gag” law.
One Congressman Has The Courage To Admit The True Consequences Of His Vote For The Iraq War (quite striking: a GOP Congressman from NC, who states,
“I did not do what I should have done to read and find out whether Bush was telling us the truth about Saddam being responsible for 9/11 and having weapons of mass destruction,” Jones said during an interview on The Tyler Cralle Show. “Because I did not do my job then,” Jones continued, “I helped kill 4,000 Americans, and I will go to my grave regretting that.”
This Deep-Sea Creature is Creepy As Hell (creepy, but also very interesting)
Scott Walker Finally Finds a Big-Government Subsidy He Loves (directing $250 million of taxpayer money to a professional sports team: certainly that’s more important than education or the pensions of state workers)
Obama Is Playing Hardball, and Guess Who Doesn’t Like It? (cute column by Kevin Drum—not to spoil his surprise, but do you notice that the initials W.P. can stand either for Washington Post or “whining putz”?)
Democrats Continue to Delude Themselves About Obama’s Failed Guantánamo Vow (Obama made a serious vow and then ignored it—and that seems to happen a lot with him)
Emptywheel posted an interesting little story about all the debate transcripts being clipped to leave out this exchange:
Kelly: Governor Bush, let’s start with you. Many Republicans have been outraged recently by a series of videos on Planned Parenthood. You now say that you support ending federal funding for this organization. However, until late 2014, right before you started your campaign, you sat on the board of a Bloomberg charity that quite publicly gave tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, while you were a Director. How could you not know about these well-publicized donations [a few boos] and if you did know, how could you help a charity so openly committed to abortion rights?
Bush: I joined the Bloomberg foundation because of Mike Bloomberg’s shared commitment for meaningful education reform. That’s why I was on it. We never had a debate about the budget. It was presented and we approved it. Not item by item. Here’s my record. As governor of the state of Florida, I defunded Planned Parenthood. [applause] I created a culture of life in our state. We were the only state to appropriate money for crisis pregnancy centers. We expanded dramatically the number of adoptions out of our foster care system. We created — we did parental notification laws. We ended partial birth abortion. We did all of this. And we were the first state to do a “choose life” license plate. Now 29 states have done it and tens of millions of dollars have gone to create a culture where more people, more babies are adopted.
Kelly: But did you know?
Bush: [pause] No. I didn’t know. But it doesn’t matter. I was working on this board because of the education. My record is clear. My record as a pro-life governor is not in dispute. I am completely pro-life and I believe that we should have a culture of life, it’s informed by my faith from beginning to end. [big applause] And I did this not just as it related to unborn babies, I did it at the end-of-life issues as well. This is something that goes way beyond politics. And I hope one day that we get to the point where we respect life, in its fullest form, across the board. [applause]
I know I heard this because I tweeted about the oblique reference to Schiavo in his “end-of-life comment.
This is bizarre. They have excised this entire passage. Why? Are they that worried that Bush is going to flame out prematurely?
Paul Krugman has an excellent column today, with a sound analysis of what the GOP has become. From the column:
. . . The point is that while media puff pieces have portrayed Mr. Trump’s rivals as serious men — Jeb the moderate, Rand the original thinker, Marco the face of a new generation — their supposed seriousness is all surface. Judge them by positions as opposed to image, and what you have is a lineup of cranks. And as I said, this is no accident.
It has long been obvious that the conventions of political reporting and political commentary make it almost impossible to say the obvious — namely, that one of our two major parties has gone off the deep end. Or as the political analysts Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein put it in their book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,” the G.O.P. has become an “insurgent outlier … unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science.” It’s a party that has no room for rational positions on many major issues.
Or to put it another way, modern Republican politicians can’t be serious — not if they want to win primaries and have any future within the party. Crank economics, crank science, crank foreign policy are all necessary parts of a candidate’s resume.
Until now, however, leading Republicans have generally tried to preserve a facade of respectability, helping the news media to maintain the pretense that it was dealing with a normal political party. What distinguishes Mr. Trump is not so much his positions as it is his lack of interest in maintaining appearances. And it turns out that the party’s base, which demands extremist positions, also prefers those positions delivered straight. Why is anyone surprised?
Remember how Mr. Trump was supposed to implode after his attack on John McCain? Mr. McCain epitomizes the strategy of sounding moderate while taking extreme positions, and is much loved by the press corps, which puts him on TV all the time. But Republican voters, it turns out, couldn’t care less about him.
Can Mr. Trump actually win the nomination? I have no idea. But even if he is eventually pushed aside, pay no attention to all the analyses you will read declaring a return to normal politics. That’s not going to happen; normal politics left the G.O.P. a long time ago. At most, we’ll see a return to normal hypocrisy, the kind that cloaks radical policies and contempt for evidence in conventional-sounding rhetoric. And that won’t be an improvement.