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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
First, what are the conditions of the nuclear deal with Iran? Charles Pierce explains:
This is the biggest gamble yet for an administration that appears to be reacting to its lame-duck status by ignoring it entirely. An administration that, as we have pointed out previously, has upturned its big bag of fks and discovered that it has no more there to give. The Republicans — especially those running for president — are going to go indiscriminately up the wall, and Benjamin Netanyahu nearly beat New Horizons to Pluto after having given it a nine-year head start. …
… (Strumming the same tune on this side of the world is Senator Huckleberry J. Butchmeup, who has hit the fainting couch with the impact of an anvil dropped from an airplane: “You’ve ensured that the Arabs will go nuclear. You’ve put Israel in the worst possible box. This will be a death over time sentence to Israel if they don’t push back…You put our nation at risk.” And the alternative is another war, somewhere down the line. You first, senator.)
Central to the knee-jerk dismissal of any agreement with Iran regarding nuclear weapons is the belief that the Iranian regime is fundamentally suicidal, that its leaders actually would commit themselves to a course of action that would result in the complete annihilation of their country. In 2012, at a campaign event, Rick Santorum said this flat-out, that the Iranians would launch a nuclear exchange, which they surely would lose, because they don’t fear such cataclysm based on their belief that it would bring about the arrival of the 12th Imam. Santorum — and have I mentioned recently what a colossal dick Rick Santorum is? — was not laughed off the stage. This is exactly the same kind of nonsense we heard during the Cold War when the nuns assured us that the Russians didn’t fear nuclear war because they were atheists anyway.
OK, that doesn’t exactly explain what’s in the deal, but it’s damn funny.
You know that the Right would denounce any deal made between President Obama and Iran, because it’s President Obama and Iran. It’s hard to say whom they hate and fear more — an Islamic republic or their own President. In any event, Republicans wasted no time rushing to microphones to denounce the deal they hadn’t had time to study.
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who reportedly has been getting briefings on foreign affairs because he’s the governor of a Midwestern state with no actual experience in the area, announced: “The deal allows Tehran to dismantle U.S. and international sanctions without dismantling its illicit nuclear infrastructure — giving Iran’s nuclear weapons capability an American stamp of approval.”
Actually, no. It requires Iran to dismantle a great deal of its “illicit nuclear infrastructure” before sanctions start to be lifted, would restore them and impose more if Iran cheats, and keeps in place many sanctions based on Iran’s human rights record and its support for terrorist organizations.
“Shame on the Obama administration for agreeing to a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and bring ‘death to America,’” said Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor.
Mr. Huckabee, like the rest of the G.O.P. field, offers not a clue as to how he would prevent Iran from doing those things, which don’t actually require a nuclear weapon, which the United States and Israel have, by the way.
Just go read all of Rosenthal’s piece; it’s one of the snarkier things I’ve yet to read in the New York Times, outside of Krugman’s blog.
Miss … I mean, Senator Lindsey Graham – may have won the competition by declaring the deal was “akin to declaring war on Israel and the Sunni Arabs.” It’s still about a year before the nominations, and LG alone has just about depleted the global supply of hysterical hyperbole. Where can they go from here?
The runner up is Scott the Power Tool, who is not running for President. And why the hell not? He called the deal “Munich for our time,” which by itself is depraved enough to win him a place in the GOP debates, candidate or no.
Ian Black of the Guardian says the winners of the deal are Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani; President Obama; Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin. The losers are Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS; King Whoozitz of Saudi Arabia (I wish they’d all go back to being all named Abdullah) and Binyamin Netanyahu. Mostly a win, I’d say.
The Greek crisis seems to me something like the mortgage crisis, in which all kinds of people were encouraged to saddle themselves with junk mortgages. Then they lost everything when the economy took a dive and they fell behind on payments. Greece, I understand, has a humongous debt that even the International Monetary Fund has concluded can never be repaid. And this is partly because the Greek government of awhile back borrowed irresponsibly, but it has to be said the lenders were being irresponsible as well. That may not be what happened, but that’s how I understand it.
The Greeks have suffered terrible deprivation doing what the Eurozone nations told them to do, which was to reduce government spending and pay down the debt. But the austerity cuts, cuts, cuts had the effect of killing their economy, so the debt couldn’t be paid down. And then the Greeks voted in a government that said, bleep austerity. And yesterday they voted to reject Eurozone austerity demands. Without more money coming from the Eurozone partners, Greek banks may collapse.
There’s a lot of clucking about What It All Means, and What Should Greece Do, and What Should Europe Do. I think it’s all just wrong. There’s something basically wrong when people are impoverished not because of anything they did or because of natural calamity, but because of the way economies work.
I’ve never been to Greece, but everything I’ve heard about it says it is very beautiful, the climate is lovely, and there’s a large agricultural area. And of course it has a rich and ancient civilization. There’s no reason I can see that people in Greece can’t have everything they need to live perfectly satisfying lives. If they can’t, it’s not because there’s something wrong with the geological entity of Greece and its people. It’s the System that got them into this mess.
Professor Krugman has been largely sympathetic to the Greeks and thinks the only way out of the mess is for them to bail on the Euro and set up their own monetary system. He wrote,
And let’s be clear: if Greece ends up leaving the euro, it won’t mean that the Greeks are bad Europeans. Greece’s debt problem reflected irresponsible lending as well as irresponsible borrowing, and in any case the Greeks have paid for their government’s sins many times over. If they can’t make a go of Europe’s common currency, it’s because that common currency offers no respite for countries in trouble. The important thing now is to do whatever it takes to end the bleeding.
Professor Krugman also said,
Jared Bernstein weighs in on the big No, hopes that it leads to a change in Europe’s approach, but acknowledges the political difficulties:
To be fair, it’s not that simple. There are structural political factors in play, endemic to the fact that the currency union is not a political union, nor a fiscal union, nor a banking union. As one German economist put it to me, “How do you think the people of Manhattan would like bailing out Texas?” Fair point, and a non-trivial challenge, for sure.
Ahem. As it happens, the people of Manhattan did bail out Texas, big time. I wrote about it here. The savings and loan crisis, which was very costly to taxpayers, was mainly a Texas affair:
The cleanup from that crisis cost taxpayers about $125 billion (pdf), back when that was real money. As best I can tell, around 60 percent of the losses were in Texas (pdf). So that’s around $75 billion in aid — not loans, outright transfer.
Texas GDP was about $300 billion in 1987. So this was equivalent to giving — not lending, not even taking an equity stake — Spain 25 percent of its GDP to bail out its banks.
But of course Manhattan was never asked to bail out Texas; we had a national system of deposit insurance, and the big Lone Star bailout was automatic.
… and the people who brought on the crisis because they were recklessly playing the system to enrich themselves were given slaps on the wrist and told to never be naughty again. Neil Bush, for example, was fined $50,000; Republican supporters chipped in to pay it. Meanwhile, taxpayers shelled out $1.3 billion to clean up Bush’s Silverado mess..
In short, I don’t blame the Greeks for telling the Eurozone to go bleep itself.
I genuinely hate to say this, but Dylan Matthews makes some good points in “Three Reasons the American Revolution Was a Mistake.” And here they are:
I’m reasonably confident a world where the revolution never happened would be better than the one we live in now, for three main reasons: slavery would’ve been abolished earlier, American Indians would’ve faced rampant persecution but not the outright ethnic cleansing Andrew Jackson and other American leaders perpetrated, and America would have a parliamentary system of government that makes policymaking easier and lessens the risk of democratic collapse.
Of course, in the Real World the southern plantation class would have fought tooth and nail to keep slavery whether the government was in Washington or London, so there still might have been a Civil War. I’m not sure why the people of the U.S. were so much more brutal toward the native Americans than Canadians were, and I’m not persuaded policies issued from London would have made much difference.
But the parliamentary system thing is what really breaks my heart, because I fear our system of government is growing unworkable. The two-party polarization that plagues us now is the natural result of our system; the way we hold elections makes third-party challenges nearly impossible. A parliamentary system is more responsive to the will of the people; it’s easier for smaller parties to win seats and form coalitions.
In the US, activists wanting to put a price on carbon emissions spent years trying to put together a coalition to make it happen, mobilizing sympathetic businesses and philanthropists and attempting to make bipartisan coalition — and they still failed to pass cap and trade, after millions of dollars and man hours. In the UK, the Conservative government decided it wanted a carbon tax. So there was a carbon tax. Just like that. Passing big, necessary legislation — in this case, legislation that’s literally necessary to save the planet — is a whole lot easier with parliaments than presidential systems.
This is no trivial matter. Efficient passage of legislation has huge humanitarian consequences. It makes measures of planetary importance, like carbon taxes, easier to get through; they still face political pushback, of course — Australia’s tax got repealed, after all — but they can be enacted in the first place, which is far harder in the US system. And the efficiency of parliamentary systems enables larger social welfare programs that reduce inequality and improve life for poor citizens. Government spending in parliamentary countries is about 5 percent of GDP higher, after controlling for other factors, than in presidential countries. If you believe in redistribution, that’s very good news indeed.
This is not to say everything is hunky-dory in the UK. People get angry with the government there, too.
Apparently someone studied internet trolls to find out what makes them tick.
Executive summary: They’re assholes.
From an LA Times interview of a woman who wrote a book about trolls:
It’s hard to get demographics on who trolls are, but you note that their targets are usually women, people of color and LGBT people, and sometimes Christians and Republicans.
They’re asserting power and privilege in an unmistakable pattern: They’re policing against female-gendered behaviors — anything regarded by them as soft or emotional or sentimental. The idea of “raping with logic” comes up again and again. That’s how they understand and celebrate their behavior.
Trolling is gendered male. With race, there’s this presumption that everyone [trolling] is white, and anyone who deviates from that has to flag themselves. And this is leisure activity. Only a certain kind of person is going to have the time or energy to devote to something that doesn’t get them anything other than enjoyment and interest.
Sick jokes and laughing at others’ pain have been around far longer than the Internet, but trolls also mock the dead and their mourners.
The primary question I get is, “What’s wrong with them?” That sidesteps the ways in which trolling necessitates the trolling mask. Instead of thinking about [a tragedy] as a totality, they think about individual, tiny, fetishized details. If a young person was killed in a particular way and there was an “amusing” detail about the death, they would focus on that. They’re not thinking about the person who died and the people affected by that death. It’s not that they’re laughing necessarily at other people’s pain. They’re in a privileged position where they don’t need to think about it.
Like I said, assholes.
What with end of the month deadlines and temple activities, I haven’t been able to spend as much time writing about this week’s events as I’d have liked. And by all accounts the President’s eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney was amazing, and I haven’t had time to see it.
The reaction of the Right to the week’s events is predictably unhinged. However, it appears none were more unhinged than that of Don Antonin Scalia, in his dissenting opinion. According to Josh Marshall,
For all the blaze of history and march of freedom this week, no doubt for me the highlight was Justice Scalia’s invoking John C. Calhoun’s “concurrent majority” theory on behalf of denying marriage equality to gay men and women.
I’ll have to read the opinion to see if this was implied or explicit. Right now it’s damn early in the morning for insightful analysis, but basically Calhoun’s “concurrent majority” was the theory that sanctified the Nullification Crisis back in Andrew Jackson’s administration. It’s basically a way for minorities to force their will on elected majorities.
Today, in his dissent from the opinion establishing marriage equality across the land, Short Time really outdid himself.
Not surprisingly then, the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count).
They’d have voted his way if he were Randolph Scott.
What else have you heard today?
Update: More hilarity.
At Politico, Fredrik DeBoer informs us that The Left is already planning its next move, which is to legitimize polygamy. ” …the marriage equality movement has been curiously hostile to polygamy, and for a particularly unsatisfying reason: short-term political need,” he writes. Yeah, that’s got to be the only reason The Left is curiously hostile to polygamy, because you know we gravitate to stuff like that like ants to a sandwich.
The time has come, therefore, to recognize that the problem lies not with the lawless rulings of individual lawless justices, but with the lawlessness of the Court itself. The decisions that have deformed our constitutional order and have debased our culture are but symptoms of the disease of liberal judicial activism that has infected our judiciary. A remedy is needed that will restore health to the sick man in our constitutional system.
Rendering the justices directly accountable to the people would provide such a remedy. Twenty states have now adopted some form of judicial retention elections, and the experience of these states demonstrates that giving the people the regular, periodic power to pass judgment on the judgments of their judges strikes a proper balance between judicial independence and judicial accountability. It also restores respect for the rule of law to courts that have systematically imposed their personal moral values in the guise of constitutional rulings.
In other words, we’ll make sure we can keep ‘em on a leash with a little political demagoguery.
Ron Dreher: This is a sign that democracy is dying.
It’s the summer of 2015, and the left is on the march. Or perhaps one should say—since the left presumably dislikes the militarist connotations of the term “march”—that the left is swarming. And in its mindless swarming and mob-like frenzy, nearly every hideous aspect of contemporary leftism is on display.
Oh, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, Bill.
In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a nationwide right to same-sex marriage.
The 5-to-4 decision, the culmination of decades of litigation and activism, came against the backdrop of fast-moving changes in public opinion, with polls indicating that most Americans now approve of same-sex marriage.
As in earlier civil rights cases, the Supreme Court had moved cautiously and methodically, laying careful judicial groundwork for a transformative decision.
I was just writing about rightie heads exploding today over the Obamacare decision. It’s going to be fun today! I’ll get back to that other post later.
Update: I take it Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and Roberts wrote the dissent. I guess we pretty much know who voted how.
While acknowledging it’s just symbols and there are still real battles to fight, I am finding the sudden political retreat on symbols of the Confederacy fascinating, if only as a socio-cultural phenomenon. Josh Marshall wrote —
I still cannot believe the Charleston Massacre has triggered quite this total a collapse of support, not just for flying the Confederate battle flag in places of honor at Southern state capitols, but for public display and honor for the Confederacy and the War of the Rebellion in almost any form. Whatever the precise cause or convergence of under-noticed trends, there now seems like no doubt that we are witnessing a watershed in the country’s long, wretched and denial-ridden wrestling with the public memory of the Civil War.
As the song says — There’s somethin’ happenin’ here; what it is ain’t exactly clear —
For years, most of the American Right has defiantly refused to give up the Confederate flag and all symbols of the Lost Cause. Now, all of a sudden, it’s like some of them can’t put the Confederacy behind them fast enough. What happened?
Someone writing from Charleston made the point that one of Dylann Roof’s victims, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was also a state senator, and he was a well-known and popular figure. The writer continues,
I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of Republican Senators who have come forward to release very personal statements about Sen. Pinckney’s death, especially among the Lowcountry delegation. The statements made about him strike me as more than just the generic nice things one is supposed to say.
Put another way, Roof made the very amateur mistake of killing people who couldn’t be turned into “thugs” by right-wing media. Every single outrageous harming or killing of a black citizen in recent memory has been followed by an avalanche of smears of the victim. Even the petite teenage girl roughed up by a cop at a Texas pool party was smeared on Fox News, I understand. Maybe I’ve missed it, but I haven’t heard any such smears this time.
It was a Bible study group, after all, killed by a teenage punk who had been planning it for months. No excuses this time.
The Confederate battle flag — that bellicose assertion of a Southern “heritage” otherwise known as “white supremacy,” that defiant, “fuck you” of a symbol in whose honor the blood of far more than nine people has been shed — it wasn’t suddenly toxic because of last week’s massacre in Charleston. Multinational corporations, and the politicians they keep on retainer, weren’t disowning the flag because of a popular movement. The people hadn’t had the time to organize. The pavement on this road to Damascus was still wet.
Instead, what was actually happening, behind the scenes, wasn’t nearly so romantic. No one was breaking from their usual habits. Everyone, in fact, was doing what they always did. The profit-seeking entities were trying to maximize future earnings; and the state-level politicians were following their demands. This wasn’t a case of the powers-that-be doing something they resented. No one was pushed here; everyone was ready to jump.
In other words, all that white supremacy stuff is bad for business.
Not for the first time in 2015, the conservative movement has found itself on the losing side of a culture war battle it once routinely won. And just as was the case in Indiana, when a petty and combative anti-gay law inspired national boycotts and a business-sector backlash, movement conservatives cannot fathom how liberals aren’t to blame. It’s conservatives, after all, who man the ramparts to protect capitalism and big business. As he was ranting about “the left’s” war on the Confederate flag on Tuesday, one could almost hear Rush Limbaugh transform into Walter Sobchak from “The Big Lebowski,” bellowing, “Has the whole world gone crazy?!”
The conservative movement fancies itself to be pro-business, just as it fancies itself to be pro-national security. But, increasingly, their ideas are out of touch with reality on both fronts.
Yet for all the right’s professed belief in “common sense,” the reason why businesses were, metaphorically, setting the flag to the flame continued to elude conservatives, even when it was staring them in the face. As CNN, the Associated Press and others reported, the Amazons, eBays, Sears and Walmarts of the world weren’t acting out of fear or sentiment. Their motivations were straightforward, cold, and rational. Walmart wants to shed its reputation as a Red State phenomenon; Sears wants to prove it’s not exclusively for dads; Amazon’s politics are, if anything, probably “liberaltarian”; and it’s hard to imagine eBay’s pro-Confederate market was ever that big.
To paraphrase the Dao De Jing — Capitalism is not sentimental; it treats all things as straw dogs. Ironically, and incomprehensibly to the fellow quoted in the New York Times yesterday, the route of Confederate symbols isn’t the beginning of Communism. It’s Capitalism that decided Confederate symbols had to go.
So it’s probably not true, as someone else said, that Dylann Roof is pretty much singlehandedly responsible for the fall of the Confederate Flag. However, he did help create the moment that made the Route possible.