Browsing the archives for the Obama Administration category.

We’d Need a Really Big Woodshed

Obama Administration

Oh,  this is funny. Now Scott Walker is saying President Obama is supposed to “take China to the woodshed.”

SCOTT WALKER: [Yesterday], the White House Press Secretary was asked about my comments asking the president to cancel the state visit from Xi Jinping, the leader of China. He didn’t comment, said he wasn’t going to comment. This suggests to me he is intimidated. I’m not intimidated to talk about China…

The bottom line is a state visit is something special and extraordinary, a reward the U.S. provides to alies, friends, and partners of the U.S.

If anything, we need to take China to the woodshed.

There were news stories last year saying that China had taken over the title of “world’s largest economy” from the U.S. This was according to the World Monetary Fund. I take it China is back to being #2 now.

China has the world’s largest standing army. “The size of the Chinese army is staggering, with 2,285,000 active frontline personnel with an additional 2,300,000 in the reserves.” Plus China has nukes, and multiple nuclear warhead missiles.

You don’t take China to the woodshed, Scott.

Also, this right-wing idea that merely talking to an American president is some kind of reward for good behavior is just plain weird. Likewise, the idea that not talking to some head of state is punishment. Weird, weird, weird.


Thrill Ride

Obama Administration

One of the nice things about being a poor old lady is that stock market free falls don’t get me excited. I hope none of you are too inconvenienced, however. I suspect some vacation plans were canceled today.

There’s speculation that Joe Biden will announce his candidacy and that Liz Warren has agreed to run on the ticket with him. This is not known for certain, mind you. If true, however, this would certainly drop a bomb into the Dem nomination campaigns.

Die-hard non-genius Scott Walker wants President Obama to cancel Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the White House next month. Apparently Walker thinks China deliberately tanked its own economy to crash the U.S. stock market.

U.S. officials have said the summit will offer a chance for the Obama to raise concerns with Xi, while also making progress on other areas of cooperation such as combating climate change. China is also among the nations involved with the United States on a deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

But Walker said that Obama should cancel the visit because “there’s serious work to be done rather than pomp and circumstance. We need to see some backbone from President Obama.”

Yes, dimwit, there is serious work to be done, which is why the grown ups will get together and discuss it. You can stay home and play with your plastic Holsteins, or whatever you do.


Stuff to Read

Obama Administration

An interview with historian Eric Foner, “People Know Next to Nothing About Reconstruction.”

I run into new college graduates who still think of Reconstruction as the time when grifter carpetbaggers went South and stole money from honest, God-fearing (and white) plantation owners. Or, it was the time the federal government sent federal troops to harass honest, God-fearing (and white) southerners and take away their vote and put illiterate former slaves into office, to everyone’s ruination. And the point of Reconstruction was to punish the South for Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. It’s still the Birth of a Nation / Gone With the Wind view.

Which is entirely wrong. And a lot of heads would explode if the truth were known.

Josh Marshall, “BREAKING: Nuclear Stuff Really Complicated.”

This is short, and a must-read. People who actually understand nuclear stuff and the Iran Deal say it’s as good and as tight as it needs to be. But that hasn’t stopped politicians (including Chuck Schumer) of feeding misinformation to the public, and so far news media aren’t doing any better.

The Right-Wing Hate Machine. Twitchy and the art of herding rage at selected targets.

Debt Is Good. Rand Paul says something stupid. Professor Krugman ridicules him.

One more: Planned Parenthood means fewer abortions.


Republican Identity Politics

Obama Administration, Republican Party

One of the many baffling things about modern Republicans is that they claim to hate “identity politics” even when “identity politics” seems to be the only game they know how to play.

For example, in today’s New York Times we read that Carly Fiorina has emerged as the Republican answer to charges they are waging a “war on women.” And that’s because … she’s a woman? I’m guessing.

I actually went to Fiorina’s campaign website to find out where she stands on women’s issues. Um, she doesn’t say. Taxes? Health care? Social Security? Nope. She brags about all the good things she did for Hewlitt Packard and tells us she’s a problem solver.

I had to google for more. Here’s what I learned — she wants to shut down the government to force defunding of Planned Parenthood. She also wants Roe v. Wade to be overturned. She pays lip service to “equal pay for equal work,” but she blames the pay gap on unions and government bureaucracies.

She’s fighting for the patriarchy, in other words. But she’s supposed to be proof that there’s no war on women because of her identity.

(There are no policy proposals on Donald Trump’s website, either, but the campaign store is open. Get your Trump for President T-shirts now!
For the record, there are some detailed policy proposals on Hillary Clinton’s website, but you have to doggedly fight through several layers of appeals for donations to get to them. I’ll have you the trouble and link to one of her issues pages. Jeb! has some serious policy stuff on his website, but it’s not organized in any coherent way. All I learned from Scott Walker’s website is that he has adopted “Reform. Growth. Safety.” as his campaign slogan. He might as well add “Yawn.”)

And then there’s Dr. Ben Carson, who has surged to the second spot after The Donald in some polls. WTF, you say?  I continue to stumble into the opinion that Carson can attract at least enough of the “black vote” to win. Frank Rich wrote,

Simply put: If an African-American raises his hand to run for president as a Republican, he (they’ve all been men) will instantly be cheered on as a serious contender by conservative grandees, few or no questions asked. He is guaranteed editorials like the one in the Journal, accolades from powerful talk-show hosts (Carson would make “a superb president,” says Mark Levin), and credulous profiles like the one Fred Barnes contributed to The Weekly Standard last month. Barnes’s piece regurgitated spin from Carson’s political circle, typified by his neophyte campaign chief Terry Giles, a criminal litigator whose clients have included Richard Pryor, Enron’s Kenneth Lay, and an estate-seeking son of Anna Nicole Smith’s elderly final husband. “If nominated, can Carson beat Hillary Clinton or another Democrat?” Barnes asked—and then answered the question himself: “Yes, he can.” How? By winning 17 percent of the black vote in swing states—a theoretical percentage offered by a co-founder of the Draft Carson movement.

In other words, Carson is being taken seriously primarily because of his race. His stands on issues are boilerplate wingnut; he’s not offering anything original or detailed. He has no prior experience in elected office. Were he not black, we wouldn’t be hearing about him now.

Could Carson attract that 17 percent of the black vote? Note that Carson blames the unrest in Ferguson and elsewhere on a loss of values in the black community. Carson said that African Americans needed to return to “family and faith,” which were “the values and principles that got black people through slavery and segregation and Jim Crowism.”

African Americans didn’t elect me to speak for them, but I sense they’re not in the mood to just “get through” things these days. But considering that many Republicans still believe President Obama got into the White House only because he is black, it shouldn’t surprise us that they think any black candidate ought to be able to do the same.

Marco Rubio was once touted as the candidate who could bring Latino voters back to the GOP. I don’t think anyone is saying that now. Jeb Bush actually is ahead of Rubio among Cuban Americans. Unfortunately for Rubio, in order to remain a Republican candidate in good standing he has to be against immigration reform.

At one point in time Rubio, who’s own family’s story begins with illegal immigration and avoided deportation, championed the idea of a “pathway to citizenship”. His party, on the other hand, did not. As a result, he abandoned his heritage, he abandoned the cause, and came out against his own legislation. What’s even worse, he began to speak publicly against immigrants and activist groups such as the Dreamers; the very groups he once fought for. Why? Because his political aspirations meant more to him than actually doing something with the power he had in office to forge the same path that had been allotted him by his grandfather becoming a citizen.

Rubio’s stumping in Iowa and across the nation almost entirely in Spanish is, quite frankly, a slap in the face to the intelligence of Latino Americans. The GOP’s hope is that he will beguile voters with the “we’re so alike” rhetoric and shared stories of heritage that they will not notice that his platform is set against their best interests. Rubio’s hope is that his story and promises of working with white people to gain their trust so real immigration work can begin will buy him his seat on the 2016 ticket and ultimately begin his road to the presidency or vice-presidency. Will he ever revisit immigration in a meaningful way? It’s doubtful. The GOP is staunchly against real immigration reform. And Rubio is now in lock step with the party line.

Vote for me because I’m Latino!

Jeb! is promising immigration reform, which may be why he’s slightly ahead of Rubio among Cuban Americans. But that’s also a big reason he’s not catching fire with the white male base.

And of course the foundation of all Republican identity politics is the assumption that white maleness is the default norm. In the minds of the base, to speak about policies that are intended to benefit any demographic other than white male is “identity politics.” But they don’t grasp that “white male” is an identity too.

More than just philosophical contempt, the GOP has staked out a position that to talk about policies from the standpoint of how they impact the lives of women, people of color or LGBTQ people is cynical pandering rather than an essential way to understand the impact of policies that matter to real people’s lives.

In other words, what appeals to White Men is good for America. Addressing to any other group or class is just pandering.

On the other hand, young white men, especially urban ones, don’t always seem to get the program. Remember “Hipster Guy“? The Hipster drove around in an Audi spouting empty rhetoric about people needing jobs, and “I’m a Republican because my friends need a paycheck, not an empty promise.” It was embarrassing, for the GOP. Hilarious for the rest of us.

But my point is that Republicans seem to have reached the point that identity politics is about all they’ve got. So we’ve got the rich belligerent dude with no policy proposals leading the pack.


Senator Chuck Schmendrick

Obama Administration

I’m sure you heard that last week Sen. Schumer announced he would not support the Iran deal and would even vote to override a veto. Today I learned that MoveOn announced it would withhold money from Schumer and any other Dem who nixed the deal, to the tune of $8.3 million.

“We thought Schumer and the Democratic party had learned this lesson a decade ago after the war of choice in Iraq,” said Nick Berning, MoveOn’s communications director. “We want to demonstrate to those who haven’t made their decision yet there will be substantial political consequences for those who want to take us to war.”


The National Iranian American Council, which also supports the Iran nuclear deal, took Schumer to task by comparing his diplomatic stances to former President George W. Bush. “He states that he is opposing the deal because Iran will retain ‘its nuclear and non-nuclear power,’” said Jamal Abadi of the NIAC. “These demands make the Bush Administration’s aversions to negotiations seem pragmatic in comparison. In what negotiated outcome would Iran have relinquished not just its nuclear power, but its non-nuclear power?”

Oh, yeah … good point.

Chuckles wants us to think he spent a lot of time studying the agreement and considering what it might do before he decided to vote against it. This is a vote of conscience, he says. At Foreign Policy, Jeffrey Lewis says the Senator didn’t study it hard enough. Of Schumer’s written statement opposing the deal, Lewis says, “Schumer’s missive came across a bit like your crazy uncle who gets his opinions from talk radio and wants to set you straight at Thanksgiving.” Lewis goes on to explain all the details the Senator got wrong.

However, Schumer doesn’t seem to be twisting arms to get other senators to vote his way. Many suspect the Dems have the votes to protect the deal without Schumer’s vote, so Chuck was let off the hook and could vote to appease the Israeli lobby. However, MoveOn, Credo and other progressive groups are campaigning to prevent Chuck from taking over as Majority (we hope) Leader once Harry Reid steps down.


The Race Up Crazy Hill

Obama Administration

Josh Marshall writes about the “declining marginal value of crazy“:

Several days ago, perennial presidential candidate Mike Huckabee charged that President Obama was ready to lead Israeli Jews “to the ovens.” A few days later, he said he might use not only the FBI but even the US military to prevent abortions. And around the same time, Ted Cruz called Obama the world’s biggest funder of Islamic terrorism. There was a day when cracks like these would have stopped the political world in its tracks, spurring transgressive glee from supporters and outrage from liberals and normal people. But this summer, they’ve struggled to break through. And the reason is obvious: Donald Trump has flooded the market with a new, purer brand of Crazy that has left the other candidates scrambling and basically unable to compete.

Every few days, when Trump says something really outrageous, the Villagers will use their op ed privileges to tsk tsk that Trump will now fade from political view. And then the next polls come out, and he’s still leading the GOP field.

The crazy shtick is working.

Ted Cruz is apparently doubling down on the crazy, frantically trying to ensure a spot in the GOP debates, I suspect. He has just made a video of himself cooking bacon by wrapping it around the barrel of a machine gun. Because, you know, nothing says “gravitas” and “presidential” like some stunt involving a machine gun and bacon. And you need to read Steve M’s post on this.

It appears that Cruz will make the cut for the first GOP debate, but Bobby Jindal probably will be out. Jindal has made a hail-mary pass, however. He had called for an investigation of Planned Parenthood because of the hoax videos accusing PP of selling aborted fetus parts for profit. However, he seems to have decided to not wait for the results and went ahead and cancelled PP’s Medicaid provider contract, thereby depriving thousands of women from reproductive health care. Note that other states investigating PP are finding that PP is not selling fetus parts or doing anything else illegal.

I believe the first debate is August 6, this Thursday.

Joan Walsh ties Trump support to the “psycho-sexual insecurity” combined with white supremacism that animates the far Right.

This is not merely a new way to shout “RINO.” It’s a call to make the GOP an explicitly racist party, devoted to the defense of whites. It’s no accident it’s taken off in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign launch/performance art, where he attacked illegal Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals.”

White nationalist Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute explained Trump’s appeal to Dave Weigel: “a) he is a tougher, superior man than ‘conservatives’ (which isn’t saying much), and b) he seems to grasp the demographic displacement of European-Americans on a visceral level. We see some hope there.”

Walsh also says the GOP “can’t wean itself from its reliance on overt and coded racial appeals to turn out its 90-percent-white voter base.”

The swaggering “common-sense” racism of Donald Trump is touching something deep in the conservative psyche.

Jeb Bush apparently thinks he can use Trump to beat Scott Walker and the 15 other uninspiring Republican contenders and win the GOP nomination. But the Trump faction is determined to tear apart the party to make its racism explicit rather than coded. All the money in the world isn’t going to let Bush chase this conflict away.

So, there it is. The dog whistles did their job, but now the dogs expect to be fed.


There is some good news. The push to defund Planned Parenthood failed in the Senate, 53-46. A few Republicans voted with the Dems; a few Dems voted with Republicans. I don’t have a complete list of names, though. From the Guardian:

“I just can’t see how we can ensure that all the patients can be absorbed by alternative healthcare providers,” said Maine Republican Susan Collins, who sponsored a compromise amendment with Mark Kirk of Illinois, which calls for more investigation of the practice first.

“The best way to reduce the number of abortions is to ensure that women have access to services they need to protect against unwanted pregnancy,” added Collins.

The point was echoed by independent Maine senator Angus King, who argued that it was counter-productive to defund contraceptive services if you were worried about abortion.

“The issue is not about abortion, it’s about fetal tissue and uses of fetal tissue and whether it should be allowed to be used for medical research, but that’s a debate we should have on that issue,” said King.

“This bill is like attacking Brazil after Pearl Harbor: it’s a vigorous response but it’s the wrong target.”

Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren went further still, arguing the bill was “just one more piece of a deliberate, methodical orchestrated rightwing attack on women’s rights”.

“Do have any idea what year it is?” she demanded of Republicans in the Senate chamber. “Did you fall down and bang your head and wake up and think it was the 1950s?”

You go, Liz Warren.


Good News / Bad News / Other Bad News

Obama Administration

It’s rather sad that the good news today is that a cop is going to be indicted for murdering an unarmed black man. See also Zandar from this morning before the announcement.

Elsewhere: I haven’t had time to write about them, but you’ve probably heard about the BS “string” videos some Fetus People made to entrap Planned Parenthood. Someone asked Hillary Clinton about them, and she fudged, calling the videos “disturbing.”

Fudging and not taking firm stands until she knows where the opinion polls are going are old tools in HRC’s toolbox, but she’s treading on unusually dangerous ground here. Her biggest fans are liberal/progressive middle- and upper-class white women who are not going to take kindly to the dissing of PP. Remember what happened to the Susan B. Komen Foundation?

I’m ambivalent about Clinton, but I always thought she could be counted on regarding feminist and reproductive rights issues. If she’s squishy on Planned Parenthood, that’s a big mark against her.

She also tap danced around a question about the Keystone XL Pipeline this morning. Not smart.

Elsewhere: The whole Internet and much of television is in an uproar over the gruesome shooting death of Cecil the Lion. In brief, Cecil was a famous and much loved lion of Zimbabwe who was lured out of a wildlife preserve and shot with an arrow by a dentist from Minnesota. The lion had to be tracked for 40 hours before the dentist and his “guides” could finish him off.

Now the dentist has closed his practice and gone into hiding, and fears for his life. Lots of people looked up personal information about him and published it on the Web, a practice I do not condone. But the public shaming is the least he deserves. I’m not opposed on principle to all hunting, even though I wouldn’t do it myself, but to me there’s something obscene and depraved about killing a beautiful, healthy animal for fun. If public shaming stops at least some big game hunting, I’m all for it. As long as nobody gets hurt.

There has been some grumbling about all the awful things going on in the world, and why are people getting their panties in a bunch over a lion. Maybe it’s because there are so many awful things going on in the world, that when some jerk for no good reason destroys a thing that was good, that made the world a little brighter, it’s too sad.

Elsewhere: See Steve M about the 17-year-old who died because a 911 dispatcher wouldn’t send help. The dispatcher was offended by the caller’s language, apparently.

Elsewhere: It’s damn hot in Brooklyn. I’ll cheer up when the temperature goes down.


Stuff to Read

Obama Administration

Trump: The Dark Heart of the Republican Party. Seriously witty.

David Roth’s Weak in Review: The Importance of Not Being an A-hole. Also seriously witty.

No, It’s Not Your Opinion. You’re Just Wrong. Refreshingly rational.


The Twilight of the Elites

Obama Administration

It strikes me that the “elite” of both of our political parties are showing signs of being out of touch with their bases.

Democratic Party insiders have cruised along these past several years assuming that 2016 will be a Hillary Clinton coronation; no other candidates need apply. Odds are still high that HRC will get the nomination, but Bernie Sanders is making her work for it.

But the Dems long have been out of touch with the base; I’ve said for years that the Dem establishment acts as if it doesn’t want to be seen with actual progressive activists in public. The vast chasm between the Republican establishment and the schmos who vote for Republican candidates is a relatively new thing.

Right now I’m seeing all kinds of headlines from right-wing sources and mainstream media saying that the Trump campaign is toast. As I wrote yesterday, and as Josh Marshall writes today, the elites may be in for a shock.

Let’s not forget: these are supporters who have cheered Trump as he’s called Mexicans rapists and criminals and all the rest. They don’t have delicate sensibilities. Let’s also not forget that these kinds of attacks on McCain (actually considerably uglier ones) have a long history among hard-core base Republicans, just the folks Trump is spiking with. They claim he had a lackluster career before his capture (some real truth in that) and they hint he may have been turned in some way by captors or betrayed his fellow POWs during his captivity (zero evidence for this). But even beyond the hard-core fringe that believes those things, McCain is just really not popular with base Republicans, especially not those who define themselves around the immigration issue. He’s the ultimate RINO. All of which is to say, if you’re someone who’s cheered to Trump’s clown car of aggression and derp over recent weeks, I see little here that will make you reconsider your enthusiasm. In fact, I see a lot that will make you see this as more of a brash truth-teller who won’t take any crap from the Republican establishment, the media or its favored leaders.

At the risk of stating the obvious, resurrecting Mitt Romney to denounce Trump or having Jeb or the increasingly hapless Reince Priebus do so is unlikely to shift this perception of what’s going on.

This might shock Reince Priebus, but I doubt many of the hard-core rightie base know who he is. See also Steve M’s roundup of rightie reaction to Trump’s McCain bashing.

Ten and more years ago, the people directing Republican politics could play their voters like a fiddle. About ten years ago I thought I saw the beginning of some fissures regarding the issue of immigration, but that was about it.  Now, nobody seems to be in charge. The Wall Street Journal and National Review are denouncing Trump in no uncertain terms. But who the bleep reads the Wall Street Journal and National Review? Not the GOP base, I don’t think.

See, the base likes its assholery pure and undiluted. The elites are more sensitive, at least when one of their own are being slimed. Other people, not so much. But with the elites, selective hate speech is a means to an end. With the base, the hate speech is the end.


Can the GOP Bring Down Trump?

Obama Administration

In another bravura performance of Peak Assholery, Donald Trump slammed John McCain for getting himself captured in Vietnam. The Republican establishment and most of the other candidates — Ted Cruz being the exception — ran to the microphones to condemn him.

Nate Cohn writes,

Mr. Trump’s candidacy probably reached an inflection point on Saturday after he essentially criticized John McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War. Republican campaigns and elites quickly moved to condemn his comments — a shift that will probably mark the moment when Trump’s candidacy went from boom to bust.

His support will erode as the tone of coverage shifts from publicizing his anti-establishment and anti-immigration views, which have some resonance in the party, to reflecting the chorus of Republican criticism of his most outrageous comments and the more liberal elements of his record.

Yes, that’s probably what will happen. But I’m not certain that’s what will happen. Because the section of the Republican base supporting Trump wrote off McCain as a RINO a long time ago and probably don’t care what Trump says about him. To verify this I went to Jim Hoft’s site Gateway Pundit, and sure enough, the mouth breathers were cheering Trump for insulting McCain. Representative comments:

It seems lately the more Trump opens his mouth, the more truth emerges. Refreshing in the stale crypt of RINO pablum.

Trump is right, McCain is a do nothing Progressive yes man. He works for the money men.

Trump is right – all of McCain’s actions have been actions of Treason and Rebellion and of Dishonorable Conduct, it is a deep Wrong to our nation that he was not tired when he returned from Vietnam. It is a Deep, Incredible Wrong that he was ever elected to the office of a Public Servant.He committed strings of Treason while in Office and only ONE of them is the Treason of his co-authoring and promoting SHAMNESTY, both in America AGAINST OUR CONSTITUTION and in Mexico, Central and South America, and for all practical purposes, WORLD WIDE…. FLOODING OUR NATION TO DEATH. There is no longer an Punishment for McCain’s Felonies that is too severe so that anyone has GROUNDS to say, “That is too harsh.” Anyone who does say it has REFUSED to look at what McCain has done to others, the MILLIONS dead due to his DIRECT ACTIONS with willful knowledge aforethought. …

That last one goes on and on and was written by a woman. Be afraid.

Of course, it’s also not clear exactly who the Trump Supporter is. Cohn continues,

His support does not follow ideological lines, as Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight has observed. It is not even clear that he has more support among immigration hard-liners than other Republicans. A Politico article titled “The Mystery of the Trump Coalition” struggled to identify which issues or demographics drove support for Mr. Trump. There might not be any.

Or, it might be that the assholery is what’s driving the support. He is the asshole’s candidate.

The Republican establishment has the vapors today over Trump’s comments about McCain. They didn’t mind so much when he was spewing demented hate speech against entire population demographics, but insulting another Republican will not stand. However, I suspect Trump is riding a wave that Republicans created but which got away from them some time back.

The GOP establishment ought to be grateful to The Donald, I say. He’s making the rest of their candidates seem almost human.

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