GOP

What They Voted For: They Are, After All, Conservatives

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

The Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, in Washington, D.C., 21 December 2016.  (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP Photo)

Steve Benen notes an obvious question:

The point isn’t that the arrangement is somehow untoward. Rather, what’s amazing about this is that our self-professed billionaire president has a re-election campaign operation in place, housed in a building the president still owns and profits from, and despite the fact that the operation has millions of dollars in the bank, it’s the Republican National Committee that’s using donor money to help Trump’s campaign with the rent.

This comes on the heels of Washington Post reporting from last summer, which said the RNC and other Republican political committees spent nearly $1.3 million at Trump-owned properties in 2017—and that was long before the year was even over.

Whether party donors actually mind any of this is unclear.

The actual answer is not so complicated: First, the upward redistribution of wealth and assets is the Republican Party’s raison d’être; and then there is the point that this is precisely #WhatTheyVotedFor.α

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α At some point, we must accept that conservative populism means cronyism with an ameliorating dose of supremacism.

Image note: The Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP Photo)

Benen, Steve. “The many bills the RNC is willing to pay for Trump”. msnbc. 26 February 2018.

The Scott Walker Show (Impressive Heap)

Undated, uncredited photo of Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin)

One of the interesting things about news and commentary in the internet age is that bloggers have every reason to recycle their own material.

No, really, just think about it for a moment. Read a paragraph, and count the links:

If that is the game plan, it’s a flawed strategy. Walker couldn’t have been pleased with his recent missteps – on evolution, on the Boy Scouts, on air-traffic controllers, on ISIS, on Rudy Giuliani, on President Obama – which left him looking unprepared for national office.

Because that’s the other interesting thing about Steve Benen’s latest attempt to figure out what is going on with the Wisconsin Republican. It isn’t so much self-promotion as the fact that Walker just keeps serving it up. And it’s quite an impressive heap when you get right down to it.

Remember, Gov. Walker wants to be president.

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Benen, Steve. “Scott Walker starts steering clear of reporters”. msnbc. 30 March 2015.

The Future, Revealed?

Jobs, jobs, jobs ... j'abortion!

We might for a moment pause to recall 2010. Republicans achieved a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, but the real story was in the state houses, where the GOP made astounding gains by hammering away at the economic instability their Congressional partners worked so hard to create.

And then they tacked away from jobs. As Rachel Maddow memorably put it, “Jobs, jobs jobs … j’abortion”. State-level Republicans passed record numbers of anti-abortion bills, knowing that most of them were unconstitutional. And it is certainly an old conservative scheme, to tilt windmills, lose, and then bawl that the sky is falling because the Constitution is Sauron and Democrats and liberals the armies of Mordor.

With many predicting a Republican blowout in the 2014 midterms, some are looking ahead to figure out just what that will means in terms of policy and governance. And some of those are Republicans.

Yet there is a week left; perhaps this isn’t the best time to be telegraphing the Hell they intend to call down upon the Earth.

Or, as Lauren French and Anna Palmer of Politico explain:

Conservatives in Congress are drawing up their wish list for a Republican Senate, including “pure” bills, like a full repeal of Obamacare, border security and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline — unlikely to win over many Democrats and sure to torment GOP leaders looking to prove they can govern.

Interviews with more than a dozen conservative lawmakers and senior aides found a consensus among the right wing of the Republican Party: If Republicans take the Senate, they want to push an agenda they believe was hamstrung by the Democratic-controlled chamber, even if their bills end up getting vetoed by President Barack Obama.

Their vision could create problems for congressional leaders who want to show they aren’t just the party of “hell no.” And while conservatives say they agree with that goal, their early priorities will test how well John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can keep the party united.

Two points: Swing voters can’t say they weren’t warned. And conservative voters complaining about gridlock should admit that’s what they’re after.

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The Man From Massacusetts … or … New Hampshire? Maybe Narnia?

Scptt Brown can't remember what state he's in.

One might wonder if Americans prefer to live in some sort of fantasy world in which Good and Evil are constantly dueling it out to no foreseeable end. A hard-fought, close competition is what we seem to prefer, and when it’s, say, sports, that’s probably just fine.

But here’s the analogy: What if the game is only close because one team gets more points each time they score?

Welcome to New Hampshire, where Scott Brown (R) trails incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) by about one and a half points, well within the margin of error. Nobody is quite sure why.

Maybe Shaheen doesn’t shower, or has halitosis, or something. It would be one thing to wonder about the idea that Mr. Brown has no jobs agenda, but he has also boasted that he shouldn’t.

It’s also really quite easy to pick on a former U.S. Senator who complains about his opponent’s outlook on “securing” the U.S.-Mexican border but quite literally never felt like showing up to his committee meetings on the subject. As a senator from Massachusetts, Mr. Brown attended exactly zero border security hearings for the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Or maybe we might chuckle when he cannot remember legislation he sponsored.α

But let us pause for a moment to reconsider his tenure as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. The idea of carpetbagging in the twenty-first century is hardly rare, but one would expect that Mr. Brown could at least remember what state he is in. And forgetting that he’s not in Massachusetts, anymore, Toto, wouldn’t be so big a deal, except that he keeps doing it.

Really.

James Pindell of WMUR explains the latest slip:

New Hampshire Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown tried to politically navigate how he could run for office in the Granite State thirteen weeks after officially moving here from Massachusetts.

An FEC filing by U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown of New Hampshire, once again forgetting which state he is in.For the most part Brown has not let the move dominate the campaign, which has been about other issues. But then there are moments when mistakes are made.

The report was filed with the Senate last week, as required, but the Federal Election Commission has not put it online yet.

What a show.

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α Then again, he has every reason to want to forget. It’s a bit hard to pitch to a major voting bloc like, oh, say, women, when you have a record of sponsoring legislation trying to strip their rights of self-determination.

Oakes, Bob and Shannon Dooling. “Analysts Say Scott Brown Must Galvanize GOP Base In N.H. Senate Race”. WBUR. 15 August 2014.

Pindell, James. “Analysts Say Scott Brown Must Galvanize GOP Base In N.H. Senate Race”. WMUR. 23 October 2014.

A Fallacy in Motion

The President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Charles Lipson is a walking fallcy, a professor of political science who prefers to use that credential that he might promote crackpot theses that ignore the details. To wit:

Charles LipsonWhen presidents become unpopular, they are no longer welcome on the campaign trail. They’re trapped in Washington, watching their party abandon them. It happened to Lyndon B. Johnson, whose presidency collapsed amid protests over Vietnam. He left Washington only to visit his Texas ranch and assorted military bases, where he gave patriotic speeches to silent battalions. Richard Nixon, drowning in Watergate, was confined to Camp David and a few foreign capitals, where he was greeted as a global strategist. Jimmy Carter, crushed by the Iranian hostage crisis and a bad economy, stopped traveling beyond the Rose Garden.

Now, the same oppressive walls are closing in on President Barack Obama. He is welcome only in the palatial homes of Hollywood stars and hedge-fund billionaires or the well-kept fairways of Martha’s Vineyard.

Well-written, indeed, if it was listed as fiction. But it’s not, and that means it’s a fraud.

The simple fact is that President Obama is avoiding states where Democrats are running competitively but against the odds. To wit, why would Alison Lundergan Grimes want President Obama onstage with her? She’s running against one of the most powerful Republicans in the country, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader who has so botched his handling of the Senate Republican Conference that Grimes can even run close.

Lipson’s criticism about palatial homes is unusual; most political science professors would suggest it very unwise to ignore rich donors during an election season, but Lipson would prefer you believe otherwise because it helps his poisonous narrative. Christopher Keating noted that Obama’s second trip to Connecticut in a week—a scheduled rally—was cancelled because, well, he’s the president and has a job to do. You know, ebola and all that. The palatial home Lipson refers to would appear to be in Greenwich, where Obama spoke at a fundraiser for Gov. Malloy.

The president is also welcome in Wisconsin, hoping to boost support for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke.

One wonders what the political science would say of someplace like Kansas? Would the president’s presence in the Sunflower State help or hurt Democratic gubernatorial challenger Paul Davis? Given that the incumbent Republican presently has the slightest edge in an otherwise dead heat (less than a percent), the question might be how Gov. Sam Brownback found himself in such a weakened position that he must actually face the possibility of losing. Then again, it’s not much of a question: Brownback and his Republican allies have wrecked the states finances.

In that context, it’s hard to lose faith in Obama if one never had any.

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An Interesting Analysis

Detail of cartoon by Laurie Rollitt for New York Times, 21 October 2014.

Cynicism in politics:

Political analysts keep urging the Republican Party to do more to appeal to Hispanic voters. Yet the party’s congressional leaders show little sign of doing so, blocking an immigration overhaul and harshly criticizing President Obama for his plan to defer deportation for undocumented migrants.

There’s a simple reason that congressional Republicans are willing to risk alienating Hispanics: They don’t need their votes, at least not this year.

Republicans would probably hold the House — and still have a real chance to retake the Senate — if they lost every single Hispanic voter in the country, according to an analysis by The Upshot.

Such a thing would never happen, of course, but the fact that the Republicans may not need a single Hispanic vote in 2014 says a good deal about American politics today.

(Cohn)

Say what you will about the potential cynicism of Nate Cohn’s analysis for The New York Times; electoral politics is a numbers game.

No wonder Jennifer Rubin is so anxious to poodle for the GOP on the immigration point.

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Cohn, Nate. “Why House Republicans Alienate Hispanics: They Don’t Need Them”. The Upshot. 21 October 2014.

Stupidity of an Unbelievable Magnitude

There is a strange phenomenon in American politics whereby something is true just because one said it, even if what says is observably false. We often miss it, and tend to notice it when the tacit standard spectacularly fails.

For instance, here’s a statement from a politician, as reported by Ed Mazza of Huffington Post:

“I just wanted to know what oath (the military) took,” Dunnegan told St. Louis Public Radio in a telephone interview. “I’m not calling the president a domestic enemy. I’m not calling the president anything. He is the president. Do I agree with what the president is doing? Absolutely not. Anybody that asks me, I’ll be happy to tell you that.”

In the first place, what, is this a helluva scandal, or just some petty back and forth? And in truth, flip a coin. Heads, it’s scandalous. Tails, it’s just another Republican in Missouri.

Debbie Dunnegan Waters the Jefferson County Recorder, also tweeted, “The rest choose to hate me w/o cause. Judge me on half truth and spins.”

Jefferson County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan Waters, who called for a coup against President Obama and then tried to say she didn't.So, we’re all up to date? She’s not calling the president a domestic enemy. People are hating on her without cause, and judging her according to half-truths and spins.

Yeah. You know there’s a punch line, right?

The statement in question:

I have a question for all my friends who have served or are currently serving in our military … having not put on a uniform nor taken any type military oath, there has to be something that I am just not aware of. But I cannot and do not understand why no action is being taken against our domestic enemy. I know he is supposedly the commander in chief, but the constitution gives you the authority. What am I missing? Thank you for your bravery and may God keep you safe.

(Boldface accent added)

Yes, really.

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The End of Mitt Madness? Please?

Ann Romney

The “sharelines” at the Los Angeles Times website are a dubious idea: Here, this is what you are supposed to share! In a way, it’s kind of like Upworthy telling you how you are supposed to feel. To the other, it is not so different from lede points, or whatever the hell they want to call those bullet summaries of stories.

Maeve Reston covered the launch of the Ann Romney Center for Neurological Diseases at a Boston hospital. The article opens with a line about Mitt Romney’s presidential potential, but that “shareline” feature makes it clear that even if one doesn’t give a damn about Ann Romney trying to get other people to fund a research center with her name on it there is still a political nugget for the non-story obsessing Beltway reporters: “‘Done. Completely,’ Ann Romney says in squashing speculation about a third White House bid by husband Mitt”.

We’ll have to see how this goes. After all, the Reporters to Draft Mitt movement seems to be arguing that they know the former Massachusetts governor will try a third time because, well, you just can’t believe a word coming out of his mouth.

This time it came from Ann Romney. One wonders if the journalists on the draft board will notice.

On another matter that has been the subject of much political babbling lately — a potential third run for president by her husband — Ann Romney was happy to wave off the possibility.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-ann-romney-new-center-study-neurological-diseases-20141014-story.html“Done,” she said. “Completely. Not only Mitt and I are done, but the kids are done,” she said, referring to her five sons. “Done. Done. Done.”

Asked whether there were any circumstances under which she would encourage the former Massachusetts governor to attempt another run — or if she would support him if he wanted to run — she said she hadn’t “been pushed to that point mentally,” but that they would make the decision together.

She reeled off a long list of what she called “really interesting” potential Republican contenders, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and her husband’s 2012 choice for vice president, Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin.

The desperation really bleeds through. “Done.” Okay, but are there any circumstacnes under which you might decide that he shouldn’t be done?

Really?

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Facebook: Ebola Dating Bulldog Mix

Sometimes things get lost in translation

It is easy enough to ridicule Facebook, but not all of it need be bitter reflection on what a horrible person Mark Zuckerberg is.

Really. Sometimes it’s just funny. Or stupid. Or funny because it’s stupid. Or something like that.

For once, this one was just funny for being one of those stupid mixups that happens in the software world, where quality control means you can never perform your job properly, but should at the very least make an effort to hide your incompetence.

Meanwhile, it is worth noting the actual artilce in question, from Sam Stein of Huffington Post:

Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has “slowed down” research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.

“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”

Make what excuses you will for congressional Republicans. And blame what Democrats you will for “compromising” and accepting these budget proposals. But remember, Republicans also want an Ebola Czar, but won’t confirm a qualified Surgeon General nominee.

Yes the perpetual Republican electoral campaign that has taken the place of actually governing while they are in office is an observable threat to human life.

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Stein, Sam. “Ebola Vaccine Would Likely Have Been Found By Now If Not For Budget Cuts: NIH Director”. The Huffington Post. 12 October 2014.

Ptomaine Word Salad

"It'd be a permanent downward economic spiral — like Gaza, basically," Kirk Sowell, a risk analyst and Iraq expert, says. An ISIS mini-state is just not sustainable. (Zack Beauchamp/Vox)

One would expect, then, to die when Daa’ish, (a.k.a. Daesh, ISIS, ISIL, and IS, at the very least) secretly invades the United States across the Mexican border in order to pose as migrant workers and infect our lettuce with ebola.

Oh, right. Reality. Er … ah … sorry.

So, you might have heard some murmuring of late about those bad guys from Iraq and Syria getting caught while crossing the border. It’s … something of a campfire election-season scary story.

Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind call horsepucky for Vox:

One might think that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is primarily of concern for people in and around Iraq and Syria, but some politicians beg to differ. Over the past couple months, a number of House members (and a Senator and governor here or there) have made increasingly specific statements about the perceived danger of ISIS members coming to the US, particularly by way of the Mexican border.

On one end of the spectrum, there are vague hypotheticals like the ones Texas governor and likely 2016 GOP contender Rick Perry has been posing. While noting he had “no clear evidence” this was happening, he expressed an “obvious, great concern that — because of the condition of the border from the standpoint of it not being secure and us not knowing who is penetrating across — that individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states could be.” Or fellow 2016 possibility Sen. Mario Rubio (R-FL), who when asked by Fox News’ Sean Hannity if ISIS could cross the border, answered, “Sure, potentially.”

Statements like these are basically un-factcheckable, since it’s obviously conceptually possible that people with terrorist affiliations could, at some point, sneak across the border. Some tweets from people claiming to be affiliated with ISIS have threatened attacks within the US, but there’s no indication that the group’s actual leadership is at all interested in that. Perry and Rubio’s statements aren’t outright wrong so much as they give excessive credence to a possibility for which there’s little real evidence.

But others have made statements that are more falsifiable. For those cases, we reached out to the relevant Congressional offices in search of supporting evidence. In most cases, we came up short.

Don’t let that idea of “most cases” scare you. The short answer is no, Daa’ish is not invading the United States, nor crossing the border and getting arrested in twos and fours. Yet within any myth is a grain of truth.

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