Browsing the archives for the Republican Party category.

The Lost Cause Is Losing

American History, Republican Party

As political support for keeping Confederate flags flying over statehouses evaporates, and as even Wal-Mart has declared it will stop stocking Confederate flag merchandise (current inventory is moving at a brisk pace, though), the Moonlight and Magnolia bitter enders are filled with despair.

“This is the beginning of communism,” said Robert Lampley, who was standing in the blazing sun in front of the South Carolina State House shortly after the legislature voted overwhelmingly to debate the current placement of the Confederate battle flag. “The South is the last bastion of liberty and independence. I know we’re going to lose eventually.”

“Our people are dying off,” he went on, before encouraging a white reporter to “keep reproducing.”

They’re worried that some tidal wave will destroy Confederate monuments and force the re-naming of all the (Nathan Bedford) Forrest Avenues to Malcolm X Boulevards. Heh.

One guy suggested removing the Confederate flag from statehouses and replacing it with another flag associated with the Confederacy (there were several) but not associated with racist movements.

“You’re asking me to agree that my great-grandparent and great-great-grandparents were monsters,” said Greg Stewart, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the executive director of Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis.

No, we’re asking you to agree that your great-grandparent and great-great grandparents lost the freaking war and surrendered their flags to Gen. J. L. Chamberlain at Appomattox 150 years ago. The Lost Cause is really, truly lost. Try to adjust.

Some of them are complaining that the change is coming too fast. Too fast? It’s been 150 bleeping years.

Today the governor of Alabama ordered a Confederate flag be removed from state capitol grounds. Sen. Mitch McConnell requested that a statue of Jefferson Davis be removed from the Kentucky state capitol. Well, he’s still got most of a six-year term to serve; he probably feels safe. Governors of several states are requesting that Confederate specialty license plates be redesigned.

My guess is that these guys realized this was going to have to happen sooner or later, and they might as well do it now while they’ve got some political cover.


Premeditated Stupidity

Republican Party

Why Conservatives Still Won’t Admit That Charleston Was A Racist Crime

The “why” is simple, really. If you’ve been campaigning on racist dogwhistles for umpteen years and are trying to appeal to a voter base of bigots, acknowledging racism is political suicide. Live by the dogwhistle, die by the dogwhistle.


Stuff to Read

blogging, Republican Party

The GOP is trying to take itself back from the Koch Brothers.

Interviews with more than three dozen people, including top decision-makers in both camps, have revealed that the Kochs’ i360 platform for managing voter contacts — which is viewed by many as a superior, easier-to-use interface than what’s on offer from the RNC — is becoming increasingly popular among Republican campaigns.

The RNC is now openly arguing, however, that the Kochs’ political operation is trying to control the Republican Party’s master voter file, and to gain influence over — some even say control of — the GOP.

“I think it’s very dangerous and wrong to allow a group of very strong, well-financed individuals who have no accountability to anyone to have control over who gets access to the data when, why and how,” said Katie Walsh, the RNC’s chief of staff. …

The fight between the RNC’s chairman and the political operatives affiliated with Charles and David Koch over who controls the rich treasury of data on likely Republican voters has raised fundamental questions about what role the party’s central committee — even under the best management — can hope to play in the age of super-PACs. And it raises an even more fundamental question of how you define a political party.

The Kochs haven’t just purchased some politicians; they are buying the entire party.

But I can’t say I’m all that happy about the Democrats, either. We’re being told the candidate will be Hillary Clinton, who to me is a big meh. Certainly I will vote for her if she’s the nominee, because the alternative will be worse. She’s good on some domestic issues, especially women’s issues. But the hearts of the Dem base are with people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, not Hillary Clinton, and conventional wisdom says Sanders can’t be elected, and Warren isn’t running.

See also Bernie Sanders masterfully trolls the GOP: 2016 hopeful unveils a real “family values” agenda .

To be reminded of what Republicans would do to America if they had unchecked power, see Kansas Reduced to Rubble.

Mostly for fun, and also to generate more traffic, I put together a slide show of gorgeous photographs of Buddhist festivals. Some of them may surprise you.

Let’s talk about mysterious things that never come to light. UFOs. Bigfoot. The Loch Ness Monster.

The Republican Health Care Plan.

Having failed for years to generate a health care plan, now the Republicans are saying they have one but that it’s a secret. Let me guess — they’re planning to bomb Cambodia?

Update: One more — How Scott Walker is killing the University of Wisconsin at Madison.


Republicans Versus Republicanism

Republican Party

A republican government is supposed to be one in which “power resides in elected individuals representing the citizen body and government leaders exercise power according to the rule of law,” according to Wikipedia. This appears to be a concept unfamiliar to today’s Republicans.

For example — I hadn’t heard Grover Norquist had been elected to anything by anybody. But it appears he holds supreme power in the state of Louisiana.

Republican state lawmakers in Louisiana and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist are in a war of words over the state’s terrible budget options, with Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), a 2016 White House contender, stuck in the middle.

The state faces an enormous $1.6 billion budget shortfall, a reality Jindal blames on falling oil revenues. However, he is one of a number of GOP governors, many of them considering presidential runs, who have found themselves with budget crises due to their unwillingness to raise tax revenue. Jindal’s anti-tax orthodoxy has limited legislators’ options for balancing the state’s budget and means the state is facing the prospect of drastic cuts in key areas like higher education.

For months now legislators have accused Jindal of kowtowing to Norquist’s “no tax pledge,” which stipulates that taxes cannot be raised unless they’re offset by spending cuts elsewhere. And this weekend they’d had enough. A group of self-described “conservative” Republican state representatives took their complaints to Norquist himself, asking him to give them some wiggle room on raising taxes and to shoot down some Jindal-backed legislation that they say would set a “dangerous precedent” in how government could mask revenue hikes.

Norquist, president of the Americans for Tax Reform, shot back Monday in a letter of his own, in which he okayed the proposal in question and called legislators’ inability to find cuts elsewhere “disconcerting.”

I assume no one in Louisiana pays attention to the state government, since if any of them did they’d be storming the state house with torches and pitchforks.

But that’s not the worst thing I’ve heard this week. Apparently Sam Brownback wants dictatorial powers in Kansas.

On Thursday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill that threatens the entire state’s judiciary with destruction if it rules against a law he favors. Brownback has spent much of his tenure attempting to curb the state supreme court and consolidate power in the executive branch. Thursday’s startling maneuver suggests the deeply conservative governor has no compunction about simply obliterating separation of powers when another branch of government gets in his way.

That rule of law thing is so inconvenient sometimes

The Kansas trouble started in 2014, when the state supreme court ruled that the disparity between school funding in rich and poor districts violated the state constitution. The justices ordered the legislature to fix the problem. Soon after, the legislature passed an administrative law that stripped the supreme court of its authority to appoint local chief judges and set district court budgets.

… Just in case the court didn’t get the message, Brownback and the legislature have also threatened the justices with blatantly political reforms, like subjecting them to recall elections, splitting the court in two, lowering the retirement age, and introducing partisan elections. …

… Now the court has an opportunity to strike down the administrative law, which probably violates the state constitution. And that’s where Brownback’s insane new law comes in. The law declares that if the supreme court strikes down the administrative law, the entire state judiciary will lose its funding. Brownback and the legislature are essentially bullying the judiciary: Uphold our law or cease to exist.

On the bright side, Rushbo’s reign of error on the radio appears to be coming to an end.


The Ultimate Anti-Obamacare GOP Tweet

Health Care, Republican Party

It’s impressive:

Kinda takes your breath away, huh?


King v. Burwell Update

Health Care, Republican Party

The Story Thus Far: The Supremes are expected to hand down a decision in King v. Burwell this month or the next.  If the Court sides with the plaintiffs, the subsidies for health insurance purchased through exchanges would be eliminated in 34 states, causing about 7.5 million people to lose coverage on the spot. The decision could bring about the catastrophic failure of the ACA.

Republicans are angry with the White House for not creating a “Plan B” to make some provision for the 7.5 million. Of course, if Republicans in Congress gave a hoo-haw about the 7.5 million, it would be the easiest thing in the world to simply amend the ACA to make it clear the law will provide subsidies to all states whether they created their own exchanges or not. The House has managed to vote to repeal Obamacare more than 50 times already, after all; they could divert their attention to a simple fix.

There is an ongoing debate whether a decision to strike down exchange subsidies would hurt Dems or Republicans worse. In a sane world it ought to hurt Republicans, but many have pointed out that voters in the affected states probably don’t know doo-doo from doughnuts — else they wouldn’t be saddled with a bunch of loser wingnuts in state government — and would blame Democrats when their premiums are jacked up.

Anyway, the White House position is that any justice who votes to end exchange subsidies would be a political flunky and damnfool idiot, and they’re banking on at least five justices not being damnfool idiots. We’ll see. But the White House is making no plans.

Republicans are making typical Republican-type plans, which means they are trotting out hazy concepts that won’t work but can’t come up with anything concrete. Jonathan Cohn explains the problem:

Republican leaders in Congress have been promising to craft a detailed Affordable Care Act alternative ever since President Barack Obama signed the law in March 2010. But while Republicans have found time to vote on repealing the health care law more than 50 times — and have worked hard, as they did on Tuesday, to pass modifications that would benefit powerful special interests like the medical device industry — they’ve yet to move a single Obamacare alternative through committee and to the floor. Nor has any committee with relevant jurisdiction held even a single hearing on how to handle the aftermath of a potential Supreme Court ruling that wipes out tax credits in two-thirds of the states.

(For a thorough and thoroughly amusing chronicle of past GOP promises to craft Affordable Care Act alternatives, see the summaries from HuffPost’s Jason Linkinsand Jeffrey Young.)

Republicans’ history of promising and then not delivering comprehensive health care legislation — a history, after all, that goes back decades — hints at a deep, fundamental disagreement with the entire idea. Republicans will talk up the importance of helping people with pre-existing conditions or providing financial assistance to people for whom insurance is too expensive. But creating a truly universal coverage system — in which everybody has access, regardless of income or health — requires taking steps that many conservatives simply can’t abide.

Specifically, universal coverage requires some combination of regulation, taxes and redistribution (from healthy to sick, and from rich to poor) that Republicans tend to find economically destructive, morally noxious or both. That’s true of wholly nationalized, single-payer systems like you find in France or Taiwan. It’s true of universal schemes of regulated private insurance, like they have in the Netherlands, Singapore and Switzerland. It’s even true of programs in the U.S. that have existed for a long time — not just Medicare but also, to some extent, employer-sponsored insurance.

But rather than admit that they cannot come up with a comprehensive health care plan that will actually work, they engage in a sort of legislation theater in which they toss out talking points about Health Savings Accounts (which only work for relatively healthy people with lots of disposable income who need tax shelters) or propose providing subsidies in exchange for killing the mandate (which would cause private insurance companies to pull out of the exchanges). Some of them are still talking about high-risk pools, which have been tried and which consume tax dollars the way a black hole obliterates matter.

But at the state level, some officials are beginning to panic.

Tonight the Wall Street Journal has a fascinating look something we may soon hear a lot more about in a very rushed and chaotic fashion. Last month, an outfit called the Milbank Memorial Fund (as best I can tell a relatively non-ideological foundation focused on health care policy) held a secret one day meeting in Chicago for officials from states who may suddenly find their citizens cut off from Obamacare health care insurance subsidies because of the new GOP challenge to the law.

The verdict. Basically that they’re screwed.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Republican legislators in those states are likely to do a damn thing, even if there were a damn thing they could do. However, there’s talk that some state governors might find some work-around that would allow the subsidies to continue, like declare that their exchange is a state exchange, dammit, even if the federal government created it. Maybe they could set up some shell site interface to the federal exchange and call it a state exchange. Whatever.

All I can say right now is that I’m glad I live in New York, which has its own exchange.


Republicans Versus Current Popular Culture

Republican Party

Somebody actually tweeted this.

Thought you would appreciate it.


Poor Little Rich Big Shot

Republican Party

We can only hope … 

A judge in Las Vegas has ruled that a lawsuit involving accusations of graft and organised crime ties to casinos owned by the multibillionaire and Republican party funder, Sheldon Adelson, will be heard in the US.

The decision raises the prospect of Adelson facing difficult questions about his business practices following allegations by a former chief executive of his highly profitable casinos in the Chinese enclave of Macau that a well-known triad crime figure was used to bring in high-rolling gamblers and of influence peddling with Chinese officials.

The case potentially has implications for Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands casinos because evidence of ties to criminal organisations could cost them their gaming licences.

It could also have a bearing on the 81-year-old billionaire’s considerable political influence. He is estimated to have spent $150m in a failed bid to secure a Republican victory over Barack Obama in the last presidential election and is being vigorously courted by Republican candidates in the next race.

Basically, Sheldon’s being accused of being mixed up with Chinese organized crime. If I were a suspicious sort of person I’d wonder if money from Chinese gangsters and corrupt Chinese government officials are ending up influencing our elections.

As John Cole says, “Will be fun watching the people hyperventilating about the Clinton Foundation rush to this scumbag’s defense.”


Taxing the Poor

Republican Party

The mostly Republican state government of Kansas is certain that people who receive food stamps and other assistance are lazy moochers who throw the taxpayers’ money away. For that reason, the destitute of Kansas can no longer  use their benefit debit card on cruise ships or at movie theaters. But the greater indignity is that they are limited to a $25 a day cash withdrawal.

It’s hard to overstate the significance of this action. Many households without enough money to maintain a minimum balance in a conventional checking account will pay their rent and their utility bills in cash. A single mother with two children seeking to withdraw just $200 in cash could incur $30 or more in fees, which is a big chunk of the roughly $400 such a family would receive under the program in Kansas. …

… Since most banking machines are stocked only with $20 bills, the $25 limit is effectively a $20 limit. A family seeking to withdraw even $200 in cash would have to visit an ATM 10 times a month, a real burden for a parent who might not have a car and might not live in a neighborhood where ATMs are easy to find.

The Kansas legislators and governor think that poor people can’t budget. They should look to themselves.

Update: See Kansas keeps on bleeding: Sam Brownback’s tax-cut miracle still hasn’t arrived, and won’t any time soon.

This is what Sam Brownback, Art Laffer and the state Republican Party have turned Kansas into: an economic policy trash fire that channels all the benefits to the top, produces no shared prosperity, is bankrupting the state, and deliberately makes the lives of the less fortunate even more difficult. But don’t worry, they say, just be patient – the economic miracle is just around the corner.


The Road to Victory (Theirs and Ours)

Republican Party

You may not be aware of this, but for years American conservatives have been supremely confident they will own the future because they are out-breeding liberals. Seriously. There is data floating around in the ether that says conservatives have 41 percent more babies than liberals, so it is just a matter of time before there are so many more conservatives than liberals that we will be squashed like bugs on the bathroom floor of history. See, for example:

There seems to be a glitch, however:

The GOP Is Dying Off. Literally.

The party’s core is dying off by the day.

Since the average Republican is significantly older than the average Democrat, far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. To make matters worse, the GOP is attracting fewer first-time voters. Unless the party is able to make inroads with new voters, or discover a fountain of youth, the GOP’s slow demographic slide will continue election to election. Actuarial tables make that part clear, but just how much of a problem for the GOP is this?

Since it appears that no political data geek keeps track of voters who die between elections, I took it upon myself to do some basic math. And that quick back-of-the-napkin math shows that the trend could have a real effect in certain states, and make a battleground states like Florida and Ohio even harder for the Republican Party to capture.

Something seems not to be adding up here. Conservatives cite many studies that say most children grow up to reflect their parents political views, so most of those conservative babies ought to grow up to be Republican voters.

Other studies say it isn’t that simple, and in fact, the more rigidly parents try to impose views on their children the more likely the children will rebel when they get older. In any event, it appears the breeding program is failing to fill its quota of new Republican voters.

A lot of the rebelling takes place during the college years, when the suffocated offspring of die-hard ideologues leave home and can breath on their own. This may be why conservatives hate and fear higher education.  (See also Why does the GOP hate college?)

I came across an old column by Dennis Prager complaining that universities are turning fine conservative children into liberal reprobates.  In it I found this paragraph:

So it is sad when a parent who believes, for example, in the American trinity of “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “E Pluribus Unum” has a child who believes that equality trumps liberty, that a secular America is preferable to a God-centered one, and that multiculturalism should replace the unifying American identity.

For the life of me, I can’t think of any way that equality displaces liberty. Kind of the opposite, in fact; without equality, liberty tends to be rationed. Liberté, égalité, fraternité, y’all. And why do I suspect that the “unifying American identity” is supposed to be white? Hmmm.

That takes us to a big, fat fly in the right-wing ointment — in another generation or so, whites will no longer be a majority in America. And the GOP has done a bang-up job alienating nonwhites and running them out of the party. The strategy of keeping Congress through racial gerrymandering is, it appears, not sustainable.

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