Browsing the archives for the Republican Party category.


Poor Little Rich Big Shot

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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.”

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Taxing the Poor

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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.

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The Road to Victory (Theirs and Ours)

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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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The Smarter Brother?

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Iraq War, Republican Party, The Smarter Brother

Has Jeb been having a bad week, or what? It started with Roger Simon asking if he’d been dropped on his head as a child. Today Karl Rove gingerly tip-toed around endorsing him. Gail Collins flat-out said Jeb Bush is awful.

What seems to have slipped out is that Jeb may be just as dim as his older brother George. If we hadn’t realized that before, it’s possibly because Jeb never affected a dopey Texas accent or an idiot-child smirk and learned to chew his food with his mouth closed. Otherwise …

Jeb Disaster Week began on Monday, when this happened on Fox News —

Megyn Kelly: Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?
Jeb Bush: I would’ve. And so would’ve Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would’ve almost everybody who was confronted with the intelligence they got.

I should mention that this was shortly after Jeb was reported to have told private financiers that brother George was his go-to guy on Middle East matters.

Phillip Bump provides us with the Fox News statement and all of the subsequent walkbacks and clarifications. Jeb said he hadn’t heard the question correctly, which is possible, and he thought he was being asked if going into Iraq was the right decision at the time. But even if that’s what he meant, (a) it wasn’t [*]; and (b) he then goes on and on about how the reason Iraq didn’t turn out so well was that mistakes were made after the invasion.

As the week went on, Jeb went from yes to maybe to who knows? Finally, yesterday, he said at a town hall meeting that knowing what we know now, he would not have invaded Iraq.

Many have already expressed astonishment that Jeb wasn’t better prepared for this question. Gail Collins:

The bottom line is that so far he seems to be a terrible candidate. He couldn’t keep his “I’m-my-own-man” mantra going through the spring. He over-babbled at a private gathering. He didn’t know how to answer the Iraq question, which should have been the first thing he tackled on the first day he ever considered that he might someday think for even a minute about running for president.

See also:

His dayslong bobble became the talk of Republican politics, from the campaign trail in Nevada to Washington. A group of Republican senators meeting this week on Capitol Hill were nearly incredulous that Mr. Bush did not have a better answer and joked about how many press aides he needed to respond to such a basic matter, according to a party strategist who heard the conversation.

“Jeb’s curb appeal was supposed to be experience, pedigree and smarts, and therefore ready to lead,” said one Republican senator, who insisted on anonymity to speak candidly about a presidential hopeful. “These kinds of statements plant him squarely in the middle of the primary pack — with G.O.P. voters unsure of exactly what political lessons he truly has learned.”

FYI, this week’s Fox News poll shows Jeb Bush tied for first place for the GOP nomination with Dr. Ben Carson. Walker, Huckabee and Rubio round out the top five.

Today Paul Krugman weighed in on Jeb’s Very Bad Week, and here’s just a bit:

Incredibly, Mr. Bush resorted to the old passive-voice dodge, admitting only that “mistakes were made.” Indeed. By whom? Well, earlier this year Mr. Bush released a list of his chief advisers on foreign policy, and it was a who’s-who of mistake-makers, people who played essential roles in the Iraq disaster and other debacles.

Seriously, consider that list, which includes such luminaries as Paul Wolfowitz, who insisted that we would be welcomed as liberators and that the war would cost almost nothing, and Michael Chertoff, who as director of the Department of Homeland Security during Hurricane Katrina was unaware of the thousands of people stranded at the New Orleans convention center without food and water.

In Bushworld, in other words, playing a central role in catastrophic policy failure doesn’t disqualify you from future influence. If anything, a record of being disastrously wrong on national security issues seems to be a required credential.

It’s possible Jeb’s campaign can survive, but Jeb wasn’t just supposed to be the smarter brother; he was the “serious” candidate, the one who didn’t come across as a refugee from Barnum and Bailey. I wonder how much attention he’s paid to the national mood since he left the Florida governor’s office in 2007. Has he spent the last eight years locked in a time capsule? Or was he never that sharp to begin with?

Update: Josh Marshall writes,

It is one of the key features of early 21st century political campaigns and political life in general that every political figure requires a chorus of dedicated partisans who lay down the equivalent of covering fire in their leader’s defense. Sometimes this happens with a political figure who attracts intense loyalty. But that’s seldom required. Partisans on both sides of the political divide will generally rush to the defense of almost any political figure on their team, even if the person isn’t terribly well liked or even if they’re getting grief for something that is pretty hard to defend. …  In a highly partisan, polarized political world having a chorus of defenders, with a set list of arguments and slogans is critical to survival.

Through all of this though, almost no one is standing up for Jeb or putting together arguments, no matter how silly, in his defense. He’s out there swinging in the wind, totally alone. We know that Bush is not well loved by Movement Conservatives or Tea Partiers. So in one sense this isn’t terribly surprising. But somehow there’s more to it than that. His lack of any defenders is unique to him.

On the other hand, Jeb has raised a ton of cash from the “traditional Republican donor class.” So he’s likely to stay in the race until the end, win or lose.

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[*] See Paul Waldman, The Myth of Faulty Intelligence

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Not So Free in Muskogee

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Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Gotta read this column by Thomas Edsall:

In the fall of 1969, Merle Haggard topped the Billboard country charts for four weeks with “Okie from Muskogee,” the song that quickly became the anthem of red America, even before we called it that.

“We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee, we don’t take our trips on LSD, we don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street, we like livin’ right and bein’ free,” Haggard declared. “We don’t make a party out of lovin’, we like holdin’ hands and pitchin’ woo.”

Times have changed.

Today Muskogee, Okla., a city of 38,863, has nine drug treatment centers and a court specifically devoted to drug offenders. A search for “methamphetamine arrest” on the website of the Muskogee Phoenix, the local newspaper, produces 316 hits.

In 2013 just under two-thirds of the births in the city of Muskogee, 62.6 percent, were to unwed mothers, including 48.3 percent of the births to white mothers. The teenage birthrate in Oklahoma was 47.3 per 1,000; in Muskogee, it’s 59.2, almost twice the national rate, which is 29.7.

Need I mention that Muskogee voters proudly vote Republican?

… the Baltimore riots have become a vehicle for conservatives to point to the city as an emblem of the failure of liberalism and the Democratic Party. The current state of affairs in Muskogee suggests that the left does not deserve exclusive credit for social disorder.

Rightie politicians and media have been crowing that Baltimore represents a failure of liberalism. I could link to umpteen hundred such rants, but here’s just one.

Jeb Bush says the strife in Baltimore proves the war on poverty “failed” to expand opportunity in America’s most disadvantaged communities. In a Chicago Tribune op-ed published Wednesday, the presumptive 2016 candidate writes that Democrats are wrongly responding to the unrest with calls to increase government spending and reform the criminal justice system.

And, of course, from a progressive perspective just the opposite happened; there’s no part of America untouched by Reaganism and right-wing anti-tax, trickle-down nonsense lo these past 30 plus years. See, for example, an in-depth report by Emily Badger in the Washington Post, “How Baltimore and cities like it hold back poor black children as they grow up.” There are places in the U.S. that are something like economic and social black holes, and it’s nearly impossible for people who grow up there to escape. Programs — you know, the government spending thing — that enable greater mobility actually appear to work. I suspect investing in better public schools and transportation systems wouldn’t hurt either, but of course conservatives hate public schools and transportation and fight spending on such things tooth and nail. And, dude, do you not see that the criminal justice system seriously needs reforming?

Edsall mentions this:

John Nolte, who writes for Breitbart.com, Tweeted at 9:26 p.m. on Monday, April 27, “Baltimore is what happens when you replace the two-parent family with a welfare check & union-run public schools.” An hour later, Laura Ingraham, a talk-show host, followed suit: “No fathers, no male role models, no discipline, no jobs, no values = no sense of right & wrong.”

I’ve yet to see evidence that breaking up teacher’s unions improves public schools, and if we want to talk about lacking a sense of right and wrong let’s talk about the police.

But what happened to Muskogee? Edsall presents copious data showing that while rates of out-of-wedlock births are slowing down among blacks they are speeding up among whites. Since 1980 the rate of out-of wedlock births has increased by 4 percent among blacks (and decreased in recent years) but has risen by 33 percent among whites. Further,

The highest rates of white teenage pregnancy in the 30 states with available data are in red states. While the national white teenage pregnancy rate in 2010 was 38 per 1,000, white rates were at least 10 points higher in nine states: Oklahoma (59), West Virginia (64), Arkansas (63), South Carolina (51), Alabama (49), Mississippi (55), Tennessee (51), Kentucky (59) and Louisiana (51). Each of these states cast decisive majorities for Romney in 2012.

The high pregnancy and birthrates among white teenagers in states where the Christian right and Tea Party forces are strong reflect the inability of ideological doctrines stressing social conservatism to halt the gradual shift away from traditional family structures.

In fact, the map in the second chart [see article] shows that the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the most socially conservative denominations in America, is dominant in every one of the nine states with the highest white teenage pregnancy rates, with the sole exception of West Virginia.

And on and on. The Red States really are going to hell in a handbasket.

Edsall points out that Republicans are in complete control in 24 states, and in most of those states the legislatures are waging all-out culture war. But they are so focused on blocking access to abortion and stopping same-sex marriage they are oblivious to the very real social and economic problems going on under their noses. Edsall again,

The problems of majority black Baltimore are extreme, but many of the trends found there are as extreme or more so in majority white Muskogee.

The Baltimore poverty rate is 23.8 percent, 8.4 points above the national rate, but below Muskogee’s 27.7 percent. The median household income in Baltimore is $41,385, $11,661 below the $53,046 national level, but $7,712 above Muskogee’s $33,664.

If conservatives place responsibility on liberal Democrats, feminism and the abandonment of traditional family values for Baltimore’s decay, what role did the 249 churches in and around Muskogee play in that city’s troubles?

Right-wing politicians have been given too big a pass for way too long.

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The Wrong Kind of Diversity

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Republican Party

A guy who writes for Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller e-rag tells the UK Telegraph that the GOP’s “diverse” range of candidates will help them against Her Presumptiveness, Hillary Clinton. See, the GOP has a woman, too, Carly Fiorina; Dr. Ben Carson, an actual Black Person; a couple of Hispanics, Cruz and Rubio, although Cruz pretends he isn’t Hispanic; and even a WASP, Jeb Bush, who pretends he is Hispanic. Plus there’s whatever Mike Huckabee is.

Conservatives can’t see past the surface of things and persist in assuming that people elected Barack Obama just for the novelty of the thing. I keep going back to the hearings to confirm Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court justice, and how the Republican senators kept whining that Dem senators had blocked confirmation of a Hispanic Bush appointee, Miguel Estrada. The fact that Estrada’s resume was thin and his record, um, alarming shouldn’t have been an issue, according to Republicans. One Hispanic is just like another, apparently.

Let’s just say thank goodness there were enough Dems in the Senate to block that guajolote. And Sotomayor rocks.

Dr. Ben Carson has announced his presidential intentions, and the Daily Caller writer assumes that African Americans will be inspired to vote for him. It appears, however, that Dr. Carson has gone from being a black role model to a black embarrassment. Given his impressive background, his wingnut positions make me sincerely wonder if he’s suffering some kind of age-related dementia. See also Ben Carson can’t attract Blacks for GOP.

And I don’t see any particular reason why Carly Fiorina would attract feminist votes. Fiorina’s big accomplishment was running Hewlett-Packard into the ground. Whoop-dee-doo. Her positions on most issues reveal she’d likely run America into the ground as well. She wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, for pity’s sake, as well as Obamacare. She’s also against net neutrality (naturally) and wants to scuttle the peace deal being negotiated with Iran.

Wingnuts never figured out feminism. They whine because lefties don’t support right-wing women politicians. But feminism was never about just supporting women politicians because they are women politicians. “However often this fact is obscured, movement feminism is about systematic gains for women—that is, using politics to change structures that make women less free than men,” writes Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig. I have issues with HRC, but I don’t doubt that she’d fiercely respect women’s rights in the workplace and in reproductive choice. Would Fiorina? Not that I can see from her record. Plus, Fiorina has never held elected office.

Likewise, Marco Rubio isn’t necessarily a shoo-in among Latino voters. Rubio, as is Cruz, is Cuban-American, and no end of analysts are saying that Cuban-Americans and other Latinos in the U.S. are on very different planets, politically. See also:

“There’s too much animosity from the Republican Party toward the Latinos, and in order for that to change you can’t just run a Latino last name,” said Norma Ruiz Guerrero, founder of Memes Media, a New York political advertising firm that helps candidates craft their message to Latino voters. “His last name should be Smith, really,” she said of Rubio. “He’s not anything like the majority of Latinos in this country.”

Rubio has a negative net favorability rating among Latinos who voted in the 2014 midterm elections, according to a survey conducted by the polling firm Latino Decisions. Only 31 percent of Latino voters had a favorable view of the Florida senator, while 36 percent held an unfavorable opinion. About a third either had no opinion of Rubio or had never heard of him.

And what can one say about Ted Cruz, but this:

And that brings us to Mike Huckabee, who IMO personifies genuine evil these days. He’s running a campaign that could appeal only to extremist culture-warrior Christians. He quit a gig on Fox News to run, so he’s not doing this to audition. He is either so genuinely demented he thinks he has a shot, or he’s running to pull the Republican Party further to the Right. Which is also demented.

Walker is a Koch sock puppet. Trump is a joke everybody gets but him. Christie is sinking. Jindal, Perry, Santorum and Graham apparently have no support in the base. John Kasich could be the dark horse who moves up when everyone else flames out, so keep an eye on him.

What you don’t see in the GOP is a diversity of thinking. Media talk about these clowns as if there were serious policy differences among them, or speak of some as “moderates” and others as more “conservative,” but the truth is they’re all pretty much on the same page on any issue you can name. Taxes, Israel, civil liberty, “entitlement” spending, marriage equality, workplace equality, reproductive rights, immigration, etc. etc. etc. The differences among them could be shoved into a matchbox. The GOP hasn’t had an original idea in at least a generation; they’ve all been sputtering along on the same old talking points for almost 40 years.

Some diversity.

Also, too: Krugman, “Race, Class and Neglect.”

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Thank You, Wingnuts!

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Democratic Party, Republican Party

The Right is engaged in a full-court-press no-limits feeding frenzy over allegations that the Clintons are doing something fishy. See Charles Pierce, “The Return To Mena Airport: It Begins Again — In which we learn that rich people like the Clintons have lots of money.”

As best I can trace the lines of the conspiracy as it is taking shape, some of the countries and patrons of the Clinton Global Initiative may also have paid Bill Clinton the big money to talk to them. There’s a bit of innuendo to the effect that the Clintons may have been commingling Initiative money with their own. However, if Bill’s piling up $100 mil just for talking, and the man loves to talk, then they hardly seem to have to raid the cookie jar. But the basic thrust is that these countries and patrons one day may seek the favors of President Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The multiple avenues through which the Clintons and their causes have accepted financial support have provided a variety of ways for wealthy interests in the United States and abroad to build friendly relations with a potential future president.

You’re kidding. Wealthy interests might use their wealth to “build friendly relations” with politicians? In 2015? Has anyone told Anthony Kennedy? He might plotz.

(This, by the way, is Clinton Rule No. 2 — what is business as usual for every politician since Cato is a work of dark magic when practiced by either Clinton.)

Even the author of Clinton Cash, the book all the allegations are based on, admits he hasn’t found proof of any actual wrongdoing on the part of the Clintons. But who needs proof? All you have to say is “Oooo, a lot of money, plus Clintons.” A scandal is born.

However, it’s a wonder to me the righties are trotting this stuff out now. As I see it, turning the big guns on HRC now could be doing her, and the Democratic Party, a favor. If she survives this feeding frenzy intact and goes on to win the nomination, it’ll be old news in the fall of 2016. If, on the other hand, the screaming innuendo machine is able to plant the notion that HRC did something bad involving money and her job as Secretary of State in the public mind now, it could cost her the nomination. And then the GOP may end up running against someone they haven’t been smearing for nearly three decades.

So, bring it on.

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The Further Adventures of Gov. Sam Brownback

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Health Care, Republican Party

Adding to the rolling disaster that is Kansas, Gov. Brownback somehow decided that raising taxes on HMOs would be just the thing to close the state’s budget gap. This is not going well.

According to The Wichita Eagle, leaders at Aetna are warning lawmakers that if Brownback’s proposal goes into effect the healthcare company would be hit with $12 million in additional taxes and add $206 to an average HMO insurance policy holder’s bill. Brownback’s proposal is currently awaiting approval in a House-Senate conference committee.

Seriously, what was he thinking?

Specifically, Brownback is looking to raise a “privilege fee” on annual HMO premiums which is currently at 1 percent. Brownback wants to raise it to 5.5 percent in order to bring in $136 million in new revenues. The $136 million would then be used to replace $80 million in state funds currently going to Medicaid, according to the Eagle. Kansas officials argue that the tax has to go to all HMO companies that offer Medicaid through Kansas’s KanCare program.

And yes, of course Brownback refused to expand Medicaid through the ACA, which would have taken care of the Medicaid problem without Kansas citizens haven’t to suffer for it. Why would we expect anything else?

On Monday, new Kansas revenue estimates projected a $400 million deficit for the 2016 fiscal year. That deficit is projected to grow to near $500 million if lawmakers don’t pass new insurance taxes.

“Conservatives” seem to think that if they can find some magic formula regarding taxes and budgets that costs will just go away. But some costs don’t go away. You can manage them stupidly or smartly, but they aren’t going away, and shifting who has to pay for stuff is not making the cost go away.

Elsewhere: Be sure to read “I am a cook in the US Senate but I still need food stamps to feed my children” and “Conservative Republicans Alone on Global Warming’s Timing.”

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Who’s Got an Identity Problem?

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Democratic Party, Obama Administration, Republican Party

Republicans still assume that the only reason Barack Obama became POTUS is that he is black, because all those non-Republican voters are into “identity politics” and are attracted only by gimmicky candidates, i.e. racial minorities and women. A non-gimmicky candidate would, of course, be a white man.

Along these lines, Josh Kraushaar writes that Democrats have an “identity problem.”

The question of the moment—as the competitive GOP field grows larger by the day—is why Hillary Clinton is barely being challenged for the Democratic nomination. And the answer lies within the changing nature of her party. …

…  the main reason why Clinton is a near-lock for the nomination is that Democrats have become the party of identity. They’re now dependent on a coalition that relies on exciting less-reliable voters with nontraditional candidates. President Obama proved he could turn out African-American, Hispanic, and young voters to his side in 2012 even as they faced particularly rough economic hardships during a weak recovery. As the first female major-party nominee for president, Clinton hopes to win decisive margins with women voters and is planning to run on that historic message—in sharp contrast to her campaign’s argument playing down that uniqueness in 2008.

Do you remember that HRC “played down” her gender in 2008? I sure don’t.

It’s part of why freshman Sen. Elizabeth Warren inspires excitement from the party’s grassroots, but former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, whose progressive record in office set liberal benchmarks, isn’t even polling at 1 percent nationally. It’s why Sherrod Brown, a populist white male senator from a must-win battleground state is an afterthought in the presidential sweepstakes. It’s why Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, a runner-up to be Obama’s running mate in 2008, quickly jumped on the Clinton bandwagon instead of pursuing any national ambitions. On Bernstein’s list of 16 possible challengers, 15 are white and nine are white males. That makes many of them untenable standard-bearers in the modern Democratic Party.

Of course, being a white male is an “identity” also. As it says here, people who vote Republican tend to be older, whiter, wealthier, and much more conservative than the public at large. See also this new research from Pew, showing that the demographic groups that strongly identify with the Republican Party are Mormons; white evangelical Protestants; white southerners; white men; whites; and people aged 69-86. I’d call that an identity problem.

But old white wingnuts are dedicated voters, which everyone else (alas) is not. Does “everyone else” need a gimmick to be inspired to vote?

It isn’t that simple. The real reason Hillary Clinton has been crowned Miss Inevitable is that, for whatever reason, Democratic Party insiders have decided she’s going to win, and news media go along with this. I don’t think her support in the base is as strong as polls might show. Polls this early are all about party loyalty and name recognition; Hillary Clinton has name recognition running over, but Martin O’Malley has no name recognition outside of Maryland. And there is no leftie media/think tank infrastructure supporting a backbench of wannabee candidates as there is on the Right; O’Malley is on his own to get attention.

I like O’Malley, and I like Sherrod Brown, too, and would happily support either one over HRC for the Democratic nomination. And I think a lot of other potential Democratic voters would feel the same way if they ever learn who O’Malley and Brown even are. Tim Kaine, on the other hand, has a history of going squishy at inopportune times; I’m not sure if I would favor him over HRC. I’d have to think about that.

I do run into people on the Web who say they support Clinton because they think it’s time we got a woman president, but I seriously don’t think HRC’s gender will help her much in the general. Likewise race by itself doesn’t get anyone elected; there have been other African-Americans running for President before Barack Obama. A candidate needs more than a gimmick.

Progressives fell in love with Elizabeth Warren because she gives voice to a genuinely progressive perspective, not because she’s female. Notice we don’t exactly genuflect to Diane Feinstein. I honestly believe a white man who said the same things as well as Warren does would be considered a champion of progressivism also. It may be that, all other things being equal, not being a white male might be a small advantage to the Democratic base, but it’s not the primary factor in choosing a candidate. I doubt there’d be many crossover African-American votes for Dr. Ben Carson, for example, right-wing expectations to the contrary.

Kraushaar continues,

Consider: When President Obama was elected in 2008, the Pew Research Center found that 44 percent of whites defined themselves more closely with Democrats, while 42 percent did so with Republicans. In 2014, that two-point deficit for Republicans has transformed into a nine-point advantage. According to Pew, 49 percent of whites now consider themselves Republicans, while just 40 percent view themselves as Democrats.

Yet among minorities, the Democratic advantage has mostly held or increased—even from the high-water mark of 2008 for Democrats. Pew found 81 percent of blacks identified as Democrats in 2008; that proportion is now 80 percent. Democrats have lost some support from Hispanics since Obama’s landslide in 2008, but it’s at higher levels than before Obama’s presidency. In 2014, 56 percent of Latinos identified as Democrats—a larger share than when Democrats swept Congress in 2006 (51 percent). And the fast-growing bloc of Asian-American voters now consider themselves more Democratic than when Obama first took office—in 2008, 57 percent identified with the Democrats, while 65 percent now do. To get these voters to show up, Democrats need to recruit candidates who reflect their newfound diversity. …

But while nominating a diverse slate of candidates is a laudable goal, there’s great risk when a party becomes obsessed with identity over issues. It fuels racial polarization, where one’s party label or positions on issues becomes synonymous with race or ethnicity. There’s less coherent connection among their constituents’ interests—beyond gender or the color of one’s skin. If Clinton runs a biography-focused campaign, it will require her to be more open and authentic—traits she has never demonstrated in her long career in public life.

For all the GOP’s recent internal struggles, the dividing lines within the party have primarily been over policy: tea-partiers against the establishment, Chamber of Commerce rank-and-file versus social conservatives, hawks against Paulites. Among Democrats, the dividing lines are much more personal. If Clinton wins a third straight Democratic presidential term, it will reaffirm the power of identity in American politics. But if she loses, Democrats will find themselves in a messy identity crisis, without many leaders left to turn to.

In other words, Kraushaar assumes that the only reason women and nonwhites are moving away from the Republican Party is that Those People are into “identity” and don’t care about policy, whereas the party whose voting base gets whiter and more XY-chromosome oriented by the second attracts people who are interested in policy.

Let us pause to let the deeper assumption behind that assumption soak in.

Now that we’ve all caught our breath, let’s go on …

I don’t need to repeat to all of you the many kinds of government policy that impact women more than men, the poor more than the wealthy, and nonwhites more than whites. You know this stuff as well as I do. Republicans remain oblivious to these issues, however, no matter how many times they are pointed out to them. It’s like they’re blinded by the white.

Likewise, I think the reasons the Dem base doesn’t reliably turn out to vote, especially in Midterms, has more to do with falling expectations that government will become responsive to their needs, and of course with white male wingnuts are allowed to run everything that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But it’s complicated.

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Blowing Up the Deal

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Middle East, Obama Administration, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

I haven’t had time to look into specifics, but Iran and several world powers have agreed on a framework for a nuclear deal. Greg Sargent writes,

The preliminary deal would limit continued operation of centrifuges to one site, while converting a second one — which had been the subject of controversy — to a research facility. The Arak nuclear reactor could no longer be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium.

In exchange, sanctions against Iran will be lifted by the U.S. and European countries, after the International Atomic Energy Agency verifies Iran has taken those steps.

Naturally, congressional Republicans already are against it, because Obama. Blowing up any deal the President makes, no matter what it is, is a key litmus test among the 2016 presidential hopefuls. Because Obama.

Scott Walker told an interviewer that if he is elected POTUS he would not only blow up any deal with Iran on his first day as president, he would do so even if all of our allies want the deal to continue.

I asked Peter Juul, a Mideast analyst for the Center for American Progress, to explain what the consequences of that might be. He told me:

“The big questions would be, How would Europeans and Iranians react? It’s hard to believe that the Iranians would stick to their end of the deal. That would leave Iran open to take their nuclear program as far as they want.

“The Europeans would probably try to keep their portion of the deal in place and try to salvage it. This would place the burden of having blown up the deal on us. This would be particularly ironic, considering that a major Republican and conservative talking point is that the Obama administration is breaking faith with our allies. We would be alienating and breaking faith with our European allies right out of the gate. You’d be irreparably damaging our transatlantic relationships for however long Scott Walker were in office.

“Putin is not going to leave power anytime soon, unless he keels over. For all the talk about the Russian threat, it would be odd to throw our European allies under the bus on Iran at the same time they are facing down a Russia that is not particularly friendly.

“There would be a lot of ripple effects around wherever the U.S. and Europe have security cooperation. This is a reckless, irresponsible, shoot first, don’t-ask-questions-ever approach. It’s just not a viable strategy if your goal is to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb.”

But for the idiot children like Walker who hope to be on the GOP ticket, the goal is not to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. The goal is to stick it to Obama.  It’s a bit like what the incoming Bush Administration did in 2001 when it assumed Clinton people like Richard Clarke, who were yammering about that dangerous al Qaeda thing, were just being hysterical.

All of this should theoretically lead to at least some kind of pressure on members of Congress who are looking to kill a deal — not to mention the 2016 GOP hopefuls — to say what they support doing instead beyond thwarting Obama. “The bottom line is that it’s unclear what Walker and others who think like him want out of this process,” Juul says. “If no deal could possibly satisfy them, they should say so.”

It’s a bit like Obamacare. Republicans keep saying they have a better way, but the better way really is to just go back to the way things were before.  And then make that even worse.

Salon has a roundup of reactions to the proposed Iran deal. The Right thinks the proposed deal with either bring back the Third Reich or usher the Apocalypse.

Paul Waldman:

I can make that prediction with certainty as well, because we’ve already heard plenty of them. But as I discuss at the Plum Line today, we should be absolutely clear what those who talk about Munich are saying:

Many of us roll our eyes and poke fun at endless Hitler analogies, but in this case their use is extremely revealing. If you believe that the negotiations with Iran are the equivalent of those in Munich in 1938, what you’re basically saying is that war with Iran is inevitable, so we might as well get started on it right away. After all, it isn’t as though, had Chamberlain left Munich without an agreement, Hitler would have retired and gone back to painting. The whole point of the “appeasement” argument is that the enemy cannot be appeased from his expansionist aims, and the only choice is to wage war.

That’s what Iran hawks are arguing: We shouldn’t pussyfoot around trying to find a diplomatic solution to this problem when there’s going to be a war no matter what.

You can call this clear-eyed realism, or you can call it terrifying lunacy. But it would be nice if they would admit that war is indeed what they’re advocating. Up until now, only a few conservatives have been willing to say so. I’d like to hear their argument, and not a bunch of “all options should be on the table” hedging, but a real case for why launching a war on Iran really is the best of the available options.

The idiot children really must be pushed hard to be explicit about what they actually intend. Over and over and over. I’m really certain the American people just want the Middle East to simmer down and stay out of the headlines, not more war.

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