Browsing the archives for the Republican Party category.


When Women Don’t Count

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criminal justice, Republican Party, Women's Issues

A couple of unrelated stories saying the same thing — first, following up yesterday’s post on how gun rights “trump” everything else these days, here’s a story from South Carolina about prosecutors who say “stand your ground” laws don’t apply to domestic violence situations.

In November 2012, Whitlee Jones fatally stabbed her partner, Eric Lee. She has testified that she did not mean to kill Lee when she issued the fatal wound, but that she only meant to fend him off while he blocked her from exiting the house with her belongings, attempting to leave him for good. The incident occurred just hours after Lee had punched Jones repeatedly and dragged her down the street by her hair.

People had witnessed Lee brutalizing Jones and called the police. Naturally, when the police showed up they talked only to Lee, who told them there was no problem. So the cops left. Brilliant. Shortly after the police left Jones tried to get out of the house, and she says he attacked her again, so she stabbed him. And he died, and now she is facing homicide charges.

And why doesn’t “stand your ground” apply to this situation?

But prosecutors say the 2006 SYG law does not apply to housemates in episodes of domestic violence, as that was not the legislation’s original purpose.

“[The Legislature’s] intent … was to provide law-abiding citizens greater protections from external threats in the form of intruders and attackers,” Assistant Solicitor Culver Kidd, the case’s lead prosecutor, told The Post and Courier. “We believe that applying the statute so that its reach into our homes and personal relationships is inconsistent with [its] wording and intent.”

So, in other words, stand your ground only applies if one is defending oneself from a stranger? On what planet does that make sense?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, from 1980 to 2008, among all homicide victims—

  • Females were more likely than males to be the victim of intimate killings (63.7%) and sex-related homicides (81.7%) .
  • Males were more likely to be involved in drug- (90.5%) and gang-related homicides (94.6%).
  • Female murder victims (41.5%) were almost 6 times more likely than male murder victims (7.1%) to have been killed by an intimate.
  • More than half (56.4%) of male murder victims were killed by an acquaintance; another quarter (25.5%) were murdered by a stranger.

Self-defense laws that apply only to defending oneself from strangers are, therefore, self-evidently screwy even for men, but more so for women.  This same document says men represent 77 percent of homicide victims and 90 percent of perpetrators, but given that male homicides tend to be drug and gang related, it’s not clear to me what the stats are regarding men not involved in gangs and drugs, and that’s something I’d be curious to know.

Even so, it seems to me a lot of white Americans are obsessed with unreasonable fear of the “other,” whether of brown Guatemalan toddlers sneaking across the Rio Grande or drug-crazed black people breaking into their homes and killing them. I actually couldn’t find authoritative data on how common it is for armed criminals of any color to break into homes while the occupants were inside. Burglaries are common, of course, but burglars prefer it if the homeowners are not home.

A lot of men also have a hard time accepting the fact that most rapes are not, in fact, perpetrated by strangers lurking in dark alleys but by men the victim knows.  Conservative men in particular will denounce rape in the abstract but defend it in the particular, especially when the accused seems like such a regular guy. And they nearly always seem like such regular guys.

But the point is that, if the prosecutors are right, then South Carolina’s “stand your ground” law was written to address threats that probably don’t actually happen that often to real law-abiding citizens, but it doesn’t apply to the ways people really are threatened, especially women.  Again, brilliant.

The other story showing that women are still a variation from the default norm in America comes from the sharp-eyed Josh Marshall.

For years there was a constant refrain in American politics which would speak of two electorates, even two elections: election results among white people and then the results when you counted the votes of black people. There were more denigrating and racist versions of this talk. But the most revealing were the versions that weren’t consciously racist at all. They were at their peak of popularity in the 80s and 90s and went something like this: “Democrats haven’t won the white vote in decades. Without blacks, they’d barely be holding on as a national party.”

There were various permutations of this refrain. But, as I’ve discussed before, all carried with them the tacit assumption that black votes, while legal, were somehow a second-rate product in the grand economy of voting.

We’ve come a long way, baby, or not —

I raise this history because we seem to be seeing a similar trend in attacks upon or diminishment of single women. Last week long-shot New Jersey Senate candidate Jeff Bell noted that he’d actually be ahead if not for single women. He then went on to blame his opponent’s double digit margin on single women and single mothers who vote Democratic because they are “wed” to the social safety net and “need benefits to survive.”

Josh goes on to quote other voices of the Right, including Rushbo, saying variations of the same thing. And of course the reason there is a gender gap is that there are women voters who, sensibly, vote according to their self-interests, whether for equal pay or reproduction rights or protection from domestic violence, and Democrats overwhelmingly support such things while Republicans overwhelmingly oppose them. And why might single mothers be more concerned about the social safety net, pray tell?

Every now and then I still run into men who actually cannot understand why gender and racial diversity is a good thing in a governing body. Why can’t a legislature or board of directors made up almost entirely by white men make perfectly sound and reasonable policies that apply to everybody?

Because so often they don’t, that’s why.

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Teabaggery and Ebola

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Republican Party

The first man to die of Ebola in the U.S., Thomas Duncan, was an African man with no health insurance. He was initially discharged by the hospital with an antibiotic prescription even though he had a fever of 103 degrees. The hospital knew that Duncan had just arrived from Africa, which should have been an alarm. Even so, someone with that much fever is very sick, and there was no diagnosis. He was just given antibiotics and sent home.  And one does wonder if a white man, or a person of any color with insurance, would have been at least kept for observation.

Even after Duncan had been diagnosed with Ebola Texas couldn’t get its act together.

It’s clear now that not just the hospital but state and local authorities responded inadequately to Duncan’s illness. His family and friends were quarantined, but left to fend for themselves; county public health officials didn’t even provide clean bedding. “The individuals, it’s up to them … to care for the household,” Erikka Neroes of Dallas County health and human services told the Guardian a week after Duncan had been admitted to the hospital. “Dallas County has not been involved in a disinfection process.”

When the disinfection process began, belatedly, there’s evidence that was botched as well. The Guardian found a team of contractors with no protective clothing simply power-washing the front porch, for instance, when it should have been scrubbed with bleach. A baby stroller sat nearby.

While the increasingly weird Grandpa John called for an Ebola czar, other people pointed to cuts in public health spending at the state and federal level that left us vulnerable. See Sarah Kliff, “The Stunning Cuts to America’s Budget to Fight Disease Outbreaks.” And then let’s go back to this:

The GOP approach to public health was crystallized at the 2012 debate where Rep. Ron Paul – another Texas politician — said it wasn’t the government’s responsibility to take care of a hypothetical young man who showed up in the emergency room very sick after he decided not to buy insurance. “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks,” Paul said, deriding “this whole idea that you have to prepare to take care of everybody …”

“Are you saying that society should just let him die?” moderator Wolf Blitzer asked. And the crowd roared “Yeah!” (For his part Paul answered no, but said hospitals should treat such cases as charity and not be compelled to do so.) Lest you think either Paul or that Florida audience represented a minority sentiment in the GOP, recall that none of his rivals, not even Mitt Romneycare, challenged Paul’s approach at the debate.

But now we know what happens when hospitals fail to adequately care for uninsured people who turn up in the ER: They can die, which is awful, but they may also spread disease and death to many other people. It’s pragmatism, not socialism, that commits governments to a public health agenda.

Republicans don’t do pragmatic. Republicans do tax cuts and then blame Democrats when the tax cuts have consequences.

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Compassion vs. Reince Priebus

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abortion, Republican Party

There was a brief flurry of mild amusement on some leftie blogs yesterday, as Chuck Todd appeared briefly to make a point. On Meet the Press he asked GOP frontman Reince Priebus about why Republicans oppose regulations on business except when the business is an abortion clinic.

And Priebus actually said, “The fact of the matter is we believe that any woman that’s faced with unplanned pregnancy deserves compassion, respect, counseling.” Seriously, he said that. It’s on the video.

Todd pressed (!) the point, asking how it could be compassionate to expect women “drive for 2 or 300 miles,” and Priebus changed the subject to taxpayer funding of abortion, which is one of the current phony issues/shiny sparkly things being dangled in front of the base to keep it focused. At this point, Todd reverted to form and failed to point out that taxpayer dollars are not, in fact, being used to fund abortions. As I said, it was a brief flurry.

The larger point is that Republicans have a weird view of “compassion” that matches their weird view of women. And their weird view of human reproduction, for that matter.

Republican Family Life

There’s a bunch of new data showing that a dramatic reduction in unwanted pregnancy — and, thereby, abortion — can be achieved by providing teenage girls and women with free counseling  and the contraception of their choice, also free. This cuts teen abortion rates by 75 percent.

As near as I can tell claims that taxes are funding abortions are based on two things: One, the exchange subsidies will pay for policies that include abortion coverage. To which I say, Oh, please. … The other is that tax money goes to Planned Parenthood, an organization that no doubt prevents more abortions than all the so-called “right to life” culties put together. Seriously, as the Fetus People make family planning services more out of reach for low income women, they should pick up their “baby killer” signs and start picketing each other.

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Politics and Panic

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Obama Administration, Republican Party

Jon Stewart last night:

People are going freaking nuts over one Ebola patient in Texas. Cause for concern, yes, but in first-world conditions it shouldn’t be that hard to keep the infection contained. The CDC says that Ebola is only contagious while an infected person has active symptoms. Where the disease is raging in Africa it has been impossible to quarantine infected people.

It doesn’t help that the CDC’s budget was cut, because Republicans, eroding its ability to deal with things like contagious disease. To be a Republican is to be too dim to connect cause and effect. How many times in the past few years have Republicans gone on a rampage about poor government response to some situation, and then we learn that the agency responsible for the poor response had had its budget cut by Republicans?

Some parts of news media (guess which!) seem to be going out of their way to spread panic. And guess who is being called out for particular blame for one Ebola patient? In the Republican imagination POTUS is something like Professor X in X-men, and he can sit in his Cerebro chamber controlling all things with his mind. Laura Ingraham, at least, seems to think this.

As Stewart points out, we put up with a lot of preventable death in this country without blinking an eye. We can quibble with how much of our out-of-control gun violence rates are preventable, but if we compare U.S. rates of gun deaths to that of other countries it’s obvious that tens of thousands of people die in the U.S. every year who would not have died if they had been somewhere else. Our infant mortality rates have been a disgrace for decades, and Republicans find no end of creative ways to explain this away — nothing to see here, folks, move along. In some cases there’s only so much public policy can do, but earlier this year the CDC released its findings of a study of what it called “preventable deaths,” nothing that rates of these preventable deaths tend to be higher in the southeast states.  Hmmm.

But these deaths are somehow tolerable. One Ebola patient and the country has a meltdown. You don’t need a degree in Freudian analysis to suspect that much of the panic is coming from the Id, from fear of the unknown awful ( and nonwhite) things that  scare us. We’re supposed to tolerate stranger-men with assault rifles in restaurants, but some communities have pushed themselves to the brink of riot at the thought of Guatemalan children being housed in their midst.

And, of course, political operatives are milking this for all its worth, because you know that all over America there are living rooms full of extremely stupid people watching their televisions and saying, yeah, we’re all going to die of Ebola and its Obama’s fault. And maybe those people will go to the polls in November to vote Republican.

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Why Dems Lose, Reason # 32

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American History, National Security, Republican Party

This is something I’ve written about at length before — somehow, since about 1950, the Republicans have claimed the mantle of being the “tough” and “effective” party on matters of crime and national security even though there is absolutely nothing in the historical record to show that the nation has been any more or less secure or crime free under Republican Administrations than Democratic ones.Yet this doesn’t seem to sink into voters.

Peter Beinert (yeah, I know, it’s Peter Beinert) writes that Dems are in trouble because the “security moms” are back, possibly alarmed by the thought that ISIS is smuggling Ebola-infested Guatemalan babies across the border. So, naturally, when people are afraid they turn to Republicans because … why, exactly?

Steve M. writes,

Look, I understand that President Obama failed to anticipate the rise of ISIS and failed to prevent the beheading of two Americans, but George W. Bush failed to prevent 9/11, and these “security moms” responded by voting for his party in 2002 and 2004.

As a New Yorker, I’m familiar with the domestic version of this. If you’re a liberal mayor — David Dinkins or Bill de Blasio — the public’s reaction to a crime wave or a horrific crime on your watch is to blame you. If you’re a conservative mayor — Rudy Giuliani or the all-but-Republican Ed Koch — the reaction is to rally around you, because you’re “tough on crime.” A horrible crime on a tough mayor’s watch is considered further evidence that we need precisely the tough guy’s policies.

The 9/11 issue is a particular sticking point with me, and not just because I was an eyewitness to what happened to the WTC. I still don’t think the American people are aware that the Clinton Administration really had been sizing up al Qaeda and taking steps to beef up security, and that as soon as the Bushies took over in 2001 they dismissed all that. They not only brushed off the recommendations of a Senate commission that predicted a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil, they actually stopped the Senate from acting on the recommendations. They downgraded the threat of a Qaeda. They adamantly ignored all the hair-on-fire warnings being given them by U.S. intelligence as well as the intelligence services of several other nations.

When these facts began to come out in 2002 it fueled trutherism, but the truthers continue to ignore several other obvious facts, including the fact that the attacks caught the Bushies absolutely flat-footed. It’s been well documented that after  President Bush left the elementary school, Air Force One spent the next two hours circling Florida while Dubya and Dick argued about what to do next (press were on board; some media actually reported on it). If they had known it was going to happen they would have been prepared with chest-thumping theater, instead of needing three days to pull something together. And if the Bushies had picked a target, no way would they have picked towers full of their people, the captains of finance. They would have found a bunch of regular working stiffs to be martyrs.

I say that if there were a God, any time somebody actually says “Bush kept us safe” a giant hand would reach out of the sky and smack them.

Let us also pause to reflect on Beirut 1983 and Benghazi 2012, and the very different ways Congress dealt with these foreign disasters.

Of course, it’s the same thing with the economy. Everybody Knows Republicans are better for the economy, except history says otherwise. That history guy is either really stupid or knows something the rest of America doesn’t.

Gary Hart wrote,

Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth.

It also doesn’t help us that it’s considered “smart” to assume “both parties are just as bad.” The Dems largely are a pack of mutts who get themselves outmaneuvered  way too often, and many of them owe their careers to being Repubican Lite. But no, on the whole, both parties are not just as bad.

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Why We’re Screwed, Part MMLXXVI

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Obama Administration, Republican Party

Thomas B. Edsall:

We don’t know who the contributors are to Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS because they can hide behind provisions in federal tax law designed to protect donors to “social welfare” charities, but we do know how much each gave, and we do know generally, from Crossroads’ annual 990 filings with the I.R.S., how the money was spent. In 2012, according to its own statement, Crossroads GPS spent $74.2 million not on commonly understood social welfare objectives but on direct political activities.

Crossroads raised the money for its 2012 tax-exempt activities from 291 unnamed men and women who wrote checks for a total of $179.7 million, an average contribution of $617,525 – nearly 12 times the 2012 median household income in the United States of $53,046, and 22 times the 2012 per capita income of $28,051.

We know now that in 2012 the 291 people who funded Crossroads got zip for their money. But somebody must still be donating, because Crossroads is still in business. They’re pouring a lot of money into the midterms and might actually turn the Senate over to the GOP, which IMO would be an unmitigated disaster for America. On the other hand, it’s possible their ads won’t make that much difference. For example, Crossroads is still running anti-Obamacare ads that even Glenn Kessler thinks are stuck in a time warp.

There’s no question that the “dark” money is giving a Reublicans a huge advantage, but even if dark money contributions were equal, an equal number of plutocrats on each side of the aisle does not create government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

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Rand Paul Versus the World

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Republican Party

I don’t pay that much attention to Rand, frankly, but it’s significant that today it appears the entire Right has risen up against him and called him crazy.

The story thus far: Not long ago Rand wrote an op ed for the Wall Street Journal arguing (I’m told; it’s behind a firewall) that the U.S. should stay out of Iraq and not take sides between ISIS and the Iraqi government. I can see that a reasonable argument could be made along those lines, so I’ll assume Rand made it.

But now calls for ignoring ISIS are not politically tenable, so a couple of days ago Rand published an article in Time magazine denying that he is an isolationist and blaming President Obama for not doing enough to stop ISIS and for allowing Syria to become a “jihadist wonderland.” Unfortunately for Rand, the ideas expressed in Time still were far too moderate to pass muster on the Right, so he’s being fired upon from many rightie positions, from the Hoover Institute to NRO to Hit & Run.

Steve Benen notes a recent speech by Rand that took another position from those first two. Like Chickenman, he’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!

On Wednesday, Paul said he had no use for “interventionists” and the “hawkish members” of his own party who are calling for using force in the Middle East. But just 48 hours later, Paul supports U.S. military intervention abroad to destroy ISIS?

Also keep in mind, less than a month ago, Paul was asked about U.S. airstrikes targeting ISIS targets in Iraq. The senator said he had “mixed feelings” about the offensive. Apparently, those feelings are no longer mixed and Paul is now eager to “destroy ISIS militarily” – says the senator who complained last week about Hillary Clinton being a “war hawk.”

At what point do Rand Paul’s loyal followers start to reconsider whether Rand Paul actually agrees with them?

Sarah Smith recently noted that the Kentucky senator has changed his mind about federal aid to Israel, use of domestic drones, immigration, elements of the Civil Rights Act, Guantanamo Bay, and even accepting donations from lawmakers who voted for TARP.

Now, even the basic elements of his approach to using military force are up for grabs.

Oooo, politics is hard.

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How Not to Win Friends

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Congress, Obama Administration, Republican Party

Following up the last post — this is where the House is going today —

House Republicans pushed legislation on Friday that would clear the way for eventual deportation of more than 500,000 immigrants brought here illegally as kids and address the surge of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

After more than a year of inaction on the contentious issue of immigration, House GOP leaders were optimistic about securing tea party and other conservative support for two bills that Republicans can highlight when they return home to voters during Congress’ five-week summer break.

Votes were expected late Friday.

A revised, $694 million border security bill would provide $35 million for the National Guard and clarify a provision on quickly returning unaccompanied minors from Central America to their home countries.

The President had requested $3.7 billion, remember.

To appeal to hard-core immigration foes, Republicans also toughened a companion bill targeting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Barack Obama implemented in 2012 and Republicans blame for the flood of immigrants now.

The bill states that the president cannot renew or expand the program, effectively paving the way for deportation for the children brought here illegally.

Again, the DACA only applies to people who entered the country before June 15, 2012. The more pertinent law is one called the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law by President Bush in 2008. The law provides that any child entering the country, except for Canadian and Mexican nationals, must be given a full immigration hearing to be sure they aren’t human trafficking victims. That’s the law Congress expects the President to ignore and just deport children without a hearing.

Even if the House passes the bill on Friday, Obama’s request for more money to deal with the border crisis will go unanswered. The Senate blocked its version of a border security bill, and there are no plans to work out any compromise before Congress returns in September.

Emerging from a closed-door GOP meeting, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., rejected the notion that it was a pointless exercise since the Senate won’t act.

“It’ll be the template for what needs to be done and also it might slow the president down,” Mica told reporters.

In other words they lack the political will to do anything, but they can manage to throw up roadblocks to stop anyone else from doing anything.

Also, some less extremist House Republicans are frustrated that senators Jeff Sessions and Ted Cruz are meeting with bagger members of the House and influencing their votes.

Democrats relished the Republican divide, with Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., derisively referring to “Speaker Cruz.

See also Morning Plum: Obama warns GOP — I’m acting alone on immigration.

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How Come I Never Got the Benefit of the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations?

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Republican Party

Sorry for the whiny headline. It’s just that I’m going from wondering how one gets a paying job as a glorified caption writer (although Benny Johnson was sacked; good luck finding another gig that sweet, dude) (update: on second thought, he’s an old Breitbart alum. Wingnut welfare will provide.)  to wondering how come there’s always plenty of money to pay “experts” who don’t know what they’re talking about? Especially conservative “experts”? Well, OK, I know what the answer is, but that doesn’t mean I can’t wallow in the injustice of it for a while.

The buzz from the Right this week was the rebirth of “compassionate conservatism.” The original was never more than an empty slogan, of course, but like good little courtiers the pundit class mostly pretends that’s not true and take it seriously.

Paul Ryan is being praised even in some center-leftie corners for his new anti-poverty ideas. Basically, unlike some of his previous plans, he does not wish to help Americans who are falling behind by taking away their shoes and breaking their feet. Instead, he proposes to treat them all like lazy children so they’ll shape up.

This is most obvious when you look at the portion of Ryan’s draft that has attracted the most scorn, the idea that poor people, if they want to use government programs, should sign a “contract” that would outline various steps and benchmarks they’d be responsible for — or else suffer the consequences of undefined “sanctions.” What kind of steps and benchmarks these are, Ryan doesn’t say, which is perhaps a gesture toward his beloved subsidiarity (the Catholic belief that authority should be devolved as much as possible), albeit one that is particularly hollow within the context of a policy that quite literally would have government agents micromanaging poor people’s lives. The point is, however, that Ryan assumes poverty in America cannot be adequately addressed by doing seemingly obvious things like giving people money or creating well-paying jobs that tackle vital public needs, but that it instead requires the poor to learn from a government-provided surrogate parent how to wrest themselves free from that dreaded “tailspin of culture” Ryan’s previously warned us about.

However, this doesn’t mean the poor will get to keep their shoes.

Every year or so Paul Ryan comes up with a glossy new plan to deal with poverty or spending on social programs. The plans never go anywhere, but they’re not really intended to: They’re designed to make the Republican Party (and Mr. Ryan himself) appear more thoughtful than it actually is on these subjects.

The one he released today is somewhat better than previous efforts, in that it doesn’t propose massive cuts in overall spending (unlike his House budgets), and would even increase the Earned Income Tax Credit, one of the government’s most successful anti-poverty programs. Democrats have also embraced a larger credit, although unlike Mr. Ryan, they would pay for it by raising taxes on the rich rather than slashing federal nutrition programs that Mr. Ryan thinks are a waste of money.

But the lack of seriousness in the plan is demonstrated by its supposedly big idea: It would combine 11 of the most important federal poverty programs into something called an “opportunity grant” that would be given to the states to spend as they see fit. The eliminated programs would include food stamps, what remains of the welfare system (known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), Section 8 housing vouchers, and low-income heating assistance, among others.

So, depending on where you live, it’s your state that will confiscate the shoes and break the feet. Gotcha.

Shorter Paul Krugman: Paul Ryan is still full of crap. Do read the whole column, though.

Elsewhere, via mistermix, the very exasperated Matt Bruenig takes apart the allegedly serious conservative intellectual Reihan Salam for misstating basic facts about how anti-poverty programs work. Again, do read the whole thing.

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The Job Ahead

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Democratic Party, Obama Administration, Republican Party

Thomas Frank, who is one of my favorite guys, slammed President Obama hard a couple of days ago in Right-wing obstruction could have been fought: An ineffective and gutless presidency’s legacy is failure. The whole article is pretty much in the title. But here’s a bit more —

….In point of fact, there were plenty of things Obama’s Democrats could have done that might have put the right out of business once and for all—for example, by responding more aggressively to the Great Recession or by pounding relentlessly on the theme of middle-class economic distress. Acknowledging this possibility, however, has always been difficult for consensus-minded Democrats, and I suspect that in the official recounting of the Obama era, this troublesome possibility will disappear entirely. Instead, the terrifying Right-Wing Other will be cast in bronze at twice life-size, and made the excuse for the Administration’s every last failure of nerve, imagination and foresight. Demonizing the right will also allow the Obama legacy team to present his two electoral victories as ends in themselves, since they kept the White House out of the monster’s grasp—heroic triumphs that were truly worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. (Which will be dusted off and prominently displayed.)

At the other end of the Democratic scale, Kevin Drum writes,

I see this kind of thing all the time on the right. If only we had a candidate who refused to sell out conservative values! A candidate who could truly make the American public understand! Then we’d win in a landslide!

It’s easy to recognize this as delusional. Tea party types are always convinced that America is thirsting for true conservatism, and all that’s needed is a latter-day Ronald Reagan to be its salesman. Needless to say, this misses the point that Americans aren’t all reactionaries. In fact, as the embarrassing clown shows of the past two GOP primaries have shown, even most Republicans aren’t reactionaries. There’s been no shortage of honest-to-God right wingers to choose from, but they can’t even win the nomination, let alone a general election.

(Of course you never know. Maybe 2016 is the year!)

But if it’s so easy to see this conservative delusion for what it is, why isn’t it equally easy to recognize the same brand of liberal delusion? Back in 2009, was Obama really the only thing that stood between bankers and the howling mob? Don’t be silly. Americans were barely even upset, let alone ready for revolution. Those pathetic demonstrations outside the headquarters of AIG were about a hundredth the size that even a half-ass political organization can muster for a routine anti-abortion rally. After a few days the AIG protestors got bored and went home without so much as throwing a few bottles at cops. Even the Greeks managed that much.

I think they both make good points. Yes, President Obama let some opportunities slip by him, especially those first couple of years. He could have done a much better job taking his arguments to the American public and making some leverage for himself.

On the other hand, it’s still the case that right-wing politics dominates our political culture as well as news media, and even for those two years the Dems had a majority in the Senate and House, a big chunk of those Dems were Blue Dogs who voted with Republicans as often as not. He never had a majority of progressives who supported him. So there have always been real and tangible limits to what he could accomplish, no matter what he did.

As for “demonizing the Right” — those people are demons, metaphorically speaking. There is no bottom to their nefariousness.

The public, having been fed a near-pure diet of right-wing propaganda since at least 1980, and I would argue longer than that, is leery of progressive policies. It’s less leery than it was ten years ago, as the financial crisis and subsequent economic hardships softened them up a lot. But progressives still have a lot of work to do to sell their agenda to the public.

I still run into lefties who honestly believe the country was ready to embrace single payer health care in 2009 and it was only President Obama who stood in the way. This is proof that it’s not just righties who live with their heads up their asses.

The truth is that there are big chunks of the country in which progressive voices are never heard except by those who go looking for them on the Internet. Public political news and discourse runs the gamut from Ross Douthat to Ted Cruz to Cliven Bundy. This is not to say that there aren’t folks in those places who might respond well to progressive ideas if they ever heard any. But until that happens, we don’t know.

I’ve been saying all along that it’s going to take a long game, several election cycles, and a lot of work to turn things around. That’s still true.

The priority right now is to be sure Dems keep the Senate, which is do-able. In this we should be following Elizabeth Warren:

Meanwhile Warren, the progressive elected the same time as Cruz, is touring the country campaigning for Democratic Senate candidates, even some who are more centrist than she is, like Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes and West Virginia’s Natalie Tennant. She’s focused on growing the Democratic Party, not cutting down colleagues who are less progressive.

While packing the Senate with less-progressive Dems in order to hold on to it is not ideal, letting the GOP have it would be much worse.

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