Monthly Archives: January 2014
John Boehner says the government shutdown was “a disaster“. Apparently “disaster” means the GOP is on pace to keep the House and win control of the Senate. Actually, that does sound like a disaster but I doubt it’s what he had in mind.
The only alleged fallout I’ve seem people claim resulted from the shutdown was it might have hurt the Cuccinelli campaign for Governor in Virginia. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t but even if it did, that’s pretty slim evidence of a “disaster”, especially compared to the actual disaster of ObamaCare.
But Team GOP will keep insisting that it was a disaster.
So what’s their plan to undo the supposed damage? New and unexciting plans to replace ObamaCare.
Naturally this will cause even bigger problems than the shutdown.
First of all, why do they need to have a plan at all? Harping on the actual problems ObamaCare is causing is by far the best strategy.
Worst of all, why are they proposing plans that amount to anything other than “Go back to where we were before this disaster happened”?
Team GOP is fond of telling conservatives that the reason conservatives don’t get what they want is they are on the wrong side of many 70/30 issues. Here’s the problem with that. Team GOP won’t engage when they are on the right side of 70/30.
Look at healthcare/ObamaCare. In 2009 the vast majority of people were happy with their health insurance and the healthcare.
Overall, 80% are satisfied with the quality of medical care available to them, including 39% who are very satisfied. Sixty-one percent are satisfied with the cost of their medical care, including 20% who are very satisfied.
There were plenty of other polls like this at the time. So why wouldn’t the GOP want to go to 80% and 61% of the people and say, “The Democrats really did a number on you but we’re going to make it right. Remember when you were happy with your plan and could keep your doctor? So do we and we’re going back there!”
What did Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers say about healthcare last night in the official GOP State of the Union Response?
“We’ve all talked to too many people who have received cancellation notices they didn’t expect or who can no longer see the doctors they always have,” she said. “No, we shouldn’t go back to the way things were, but the president’s health-care law is not working.”
So the GOP message on healthcare is, “Have no fear America, the GOP has no intention of going back to the time when most of you were happy with your coverage and healthcare choices. You’re welcome!”.
Instead they will push new and untried schemes of their own because…I don’t know. They just will.
Want another example. Here’s one…abortion. Women(!) support banning abortion after twenty weeks by a 60/40 margin (it’s about 50/50) with men. So here’s a chance for the GOP to get on the right side of an issue with women, the holy grail for them, and yet all we hear is, “the GOP needs to step back on social issues”.
It’s pretty obvious that the GOP only cares about polling when they can use it as an excuse not to do things. When the polling cuts against what they want, then it’s irrelevant.
Are there issues the GOP shouldn’t pursue that conservatives would like because of public opposition? Sure but if your preferred policy position is on the wrong side of voters, that’s not an excuse to do enact liberal policies. What you should be doing is slowing things down as much as possible and trying to swing voters to your side.
The real problem is the GOP doesn’t try and convince voters that conservative policies are the best. The reason for that is simple…the vast majority of them aren’t conservatives, “severe” or otherwise.
Mike Huckabee decided to talk about the “war on women” libidos and birth control. Just as surely as night follows day all hell broke loose.
My bottom line…MSNBC originally misreported what Huck said and what Huck said was stupid.
For me the biggest problem with Huckabee’s theme (and there are many) is that while he’s sort of right about how the Dems view/market to women, women themselves don’t see the Dems condescending to them, at least not women who aren’t already conservatives.
If the Democrats message is as condescending as Huckabee insists or is seen by women that way it wouldn’t work. But it is working.
What Republicans can’t do is win indy/lib women over by talking to them about a problem (the way Dems talk to them) that they don’t actually see. Republicans just sound like out of touch idiots.
The real question is, why is this ground Huck wants to attack on? Why libido and birth control, even in the guise of going after Democrats? Republicans should refute the “war on women and birth control” by saying, “it’s nonsense that we care about your sex life and birth control. What we really care about are….economics, opportunity, blah, blah. blah”.
The reason Huck went to libido and birth control is because that’s exactly the fight he and his supporters want to have. He’s just trying to find a better way to have it.
So yes, attack the media for their predictable distortions and lies but don’t let Huckabee off the hook.
I’m going to write this post assuming you have read the original story and are familiar with the ongoing discussion about it. It’s simply too…much to explain.
Today Grantland Editor In Chief Bill Simmons issued an extraordinary “note” on the story, the fallout and what he says he did wrong.
We made one massive mistake. I have thought about it for nearly three solid days, and I’ve run out of ways to kick myself about it. How did it never occur to any of us? How? How could we ALL blow it?
That mistake: Someone familiar with the transgender community should have read Caleb’s final draft. This never occurred to us. Nobody ever brought it up.
Allow me to offer a guess why Simmons, nor someone on his staff ,thought to run this story by “someone familiar with the transgender community”…reporters aren’t supposed to shape their coverage to reflect the desires of the people they are covering or their political goals.
Can you imagine an editor saying, “We should have consulted a conservative Republican before running a piece on the tea party”. Or “we should have consulted someone who served in the military to make sure we properly represented the views of veterans in this story about someone who was once in the Army?” Or “we should have consulted someone who has run a large multi-national corporation before running this piece by a communist about the evils of international capitalism to ensure the views of evil international capitalists were fully understood and represented in the piece”.
From now on when Grantland writes about professional athletes are we to assume that they have consulted with someone from the players union first? If not, why not?
Of course you can’t imagine such things because they are ridiculous and would never happen. But apparently there’s at least one group who is supposed to have a representative at the table when anyone of them is the focus of a story. Maybe there are others, I don’t know. Perhaps publications can have a section in their “About Us” section that lets the rest of us know which groups are approved for kid glove treatment and which groups don’t get a chance to affect how they are covered.
Simmons also says that in the future he will be using GLAAD’s stylebook on how to refer to transgender people. Again, what other activist groups get to incorporate their preferred style guide into news coverage? Why just GLAAD (assuming it is just GLAAD)? What makes them so special?
This isn’t about whether or not you like or disapprove of the transgendered. It’s a question of journalistic fairness. Some groups can’t be more equal than others simply because they are given some sort of protective status.
Journalists are supposed to be committed to the truth and to their audience. Giving some favored groups extra protections makes you wonder how fair a reporter is to any other group.
So many sports writers/broadcasters come off as arrogant assholes.
Skip Bayless is the nearly Platonic ideal of the genre. And the Seahawks Richard Sherman took him down a peg or six on Bayless’ own show.
But why do so many people who make their living covering sports and athletes seem to have such a love/hate relationship with both?
I think the reason so many sports writers/announcers come off as jerks is they get into the business young and think it’s cool (since they can’t actually play themselves). Pretty quickly they realize they are writing about people their own age or younger who play a game and make a ton of money doing it. This leads to a problem…these writers/broadcasters are very important and bright people who are covering a rather frivolous thing done by inferior (in their minds) people. To reconcile this disconnect, they must at once elevate sports to a higher societal meaning (since smart people like them are writing about it must be important) while at the same time diminishing the people who are doing the actual thing (jocks can’t be more important than someone with a Ivy League degree in English!).
They cover a world they simultaneously celebrate and despise. Worst of all, they will never truly be a part of it, they will never be “one of the boys”.
It really seems to drive them nuts.
Quick Hits: How Bridgegate Could Help Christie. Big Problem With Rubio’s Anti-Poverty Ideas. Schooling Economic Illiterates.
1. How Bridgegate Could Help Chris Christie:
So things are rapidly going from 10 to 11 on the MSM Freakout O Meter on Bridgegate.
Whether or not it’s true, Bridgegate now has a bodycount.
According to the NY Times, it also has a federal criminal probe.
So how the hell could this help Christie?
A lot of conservatives don’t like him but they like the MSM and Democrats less. If they overplay their hand going after Christie it may cause conservatives to rally to him, at least temporarily. One of Christie’s biggest virtues for conservatives has always been he has the right enemies. Like Rudy Giuliani before him, the fact that liberal activists, unions and assorted members of the Democrat coalition hate him, it makes him more attractive.
It’s not a permenant solution for Christie but it might buy him some grace from the right. The more the Democrats in government and in the media go after him, the more some on the right will either hold their fire on him or actively defend him.
If nothing else, having Obama’s DoJ investigating him will help elevate the image of Christie hugging Obama.
At his presser, Christie drew some very bright lines that he had nothing to do with this or prior knowledge. If that checks out, this will be a net plus for Christie. If there’s any crack in his story, he’s toast. It’s a binary thing at this point.
One thought on how this could really hurt Christie behind the scenes…he spoke of his betrayal by a close staff. If Christie wants to move onto a White House race, he’s going to do so without some of his inner circle (including his top political aide and campaign manager Bill Stepien) and with a distrust of the people left behind.
2. Marco Rubio’s Big Anti-Poverty Plan Has A Big Whole In It
If James Pethokoukis is right in describing Rubio’s plan and what it’s trying to accomplish there’s a giant and troubling hole in it….
Second, the income gap between work and non-work is too narrow or even non-existent in some cases. The higher that society defines a basic standard of living, the more rewarding entry level jobs need be.
It’s true the gap between working and not working is to close but there’s no way the government can artificially inflate entry level wages. Well, they can try but they will only fuck things up for low-end workers. And if you push up entry wages you put upward pressure on all other wages which has all sorts of other distorting effects on the workforce and greater economy. And if you did all of this the Democrats would simply come back and say, “look the safety net is to stingy! We need to increase benefits.” and then you start the whole cycle all over again.
If the gap between work and welfare is too narrow the only solution is lowering welfare. Liberals won’t acknowledge this and yet they appear to be driving the conversation as always.
BTW- Why is the GOP focusing on “the poor” and not “the middle class”?
I know the argument will be, “we need to do both”.
A-That’s not true
B- I’d like to see the GOP do one thing right before it starts multi-tasking.
3. Megan McArdle Schools Juicebox Economics Writers
It’s old (from last August) but I just saw it and it’s great.
Without naming names (too bad but we know who she’s talking about) McArdle takes the Barros and Yeglisass of the wold to the woodshed and beats them over the head with a 2 x 4 about Walmart and wages.
If you want Wal-Mart to have a labor force like Trader Joe’s and Costco, you probably want them to have a business model like Trader Joe’s and Costco — which is to say that you want them to have a customer demographic like Trader Joe’s and Costco. Obviously if you belong to that demographic — which is to say, if you’re a policy analyst, or a magazine writer — then this sounds like a splendid idea. To Wal-Mart’s actual customer base, however, it might sound like “take your business somewhere else.”
This is not actually just a piece on how Wal-Mart can only pay low wages — I don’t know how much more they could afford to pay before they started to lose customers (or the board kicked the CEO out), and neither does anyone else writing about this. I’m actually interested in the larger point: the way that things most people rarely think about — like the number of products that a store carries — have far-reaching effects on everything from labor, to location, to customer service and demographics. We tend to look at the most politically salient features of the stores where we shop: their size, their location, the wages that we pay. But these operations are not so simple. They are incredibly complex machines, and you can no more change one simple feature than you can pull out your car’s fuel injection system and replace it with the carburetor from a 1964 Bonneville.
Having a basic understanding of business and economics helps one in writing about business and economics? Sounds kind of racist to me.
Quick Hits: Christie’s Bridgegate, McConnell More Conciliatory To Democrats Than Conservatives. Corporatists For Amnesty.
1. Bridgegate Gets Closer To Christie
Senior Chris Christie aides are clearly tied to lane closures on the Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge that were ordered for purely political reasons. Why did Christie’s aides distrupt the lives of NJ commuters who were just trying to get to work? Because the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee didn’t endorse Christie.
If politicians want to play games with each other, well, that’s just a fact of life that many of the people drawn to politics are pathetic human beings. But abusing their power and making innocent citizens pawns in their games? That’s beyond the pale.
I doubt that this will seriously hurt Christie but it will lay the groundwork for future attacks on a guy I don’t want anywhere near the GOP nomination, let alone the White House.
Republicans and conservatives have spend years attacking Obama’s corrupt “Chicago politics” and “Gangster Government”. Only party hacks will defend this sort of abuse simply because the guy doing it has an “R” after his name.
Christie seems to embody the worst of the last two GOP nominees…McCain’s petty nastiness and Romney’s Northeast liberalism. What could go wrong with combing the two.
2. Mitch McConnell promises to respond to Harry Reid’s provocations with concessions to Democrats.
McConnell gave a big speech on the Senate floor today about how the Senate is broken and how he’d fix it as majority leader.
“If Republicans are fortunate enough to gain the majority next year,” McConnell says, more committee action, more debate, more amendments.
— David M. Drucker (@DavidMDrucker) January 8, 2014
So the sum total of the GOP’s retaliation to Reid is going to be a McConnell speech and a promise to Democrats that if they find themselves in the minority soon, not to worry, the GOP will be nice to them and let them gum up the works.
I’d like to think he’s lying but I don’t. There’s a strain of thinking that infects many in the GOP with the notion that if they are just nice to Democrats the Democrats will stop hitting them and the media will like them. In reality, Democrats are playing football and the GOP promises to play golf in a very gentlemanly way.
McConnell’s speech and willingness to be nicer to Democrats than he is to conservatives who cross him. That’s pretty telling.
No doubt today’s speech will be widely praised from one end of the Beltway to the other. After all who among us is not stirred by the fierce battle cry of: Elect More Republican Senators And Restore Comity To The Upper Chamber!
It’s not a question of tactics, it’s a question of priorities. Count me among the rabble on Team Cruz.
3. US Chamber Of Commerce Dedicated To Passing Amnesty
Not really news but a reminder that for all the talk from Obama, The Chamber of Commerce isn’t conservative, it’s the heart of corporatism.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will “pull out all the stops” to get immigration reform passed this year and oppose Tea Party Republicans in congressional primaries if they’re not sufficiently pro-business.
Those were the two takeaways from Wednesday’s State of American Businessaddress by Tom Donohue, the chamber’s president and CEO. This annual speech is the business community’s equivalent of the president’s State of the Union address, and a packed house was on hand to hear it at the chamber’s headquarters, which is located on other side of Lafayette Park from the White House.
The Chamber is donating heavily to “moderate” Republicans like the ones supported by the liberals at The Republican Main Street Partnership.
In the past the Chamber supported Obama’s so-called “stimulus” plan.
Business and labor may have their differences but they are more than happy to work together to screw over conservatives and enrich themselves with public money.
I’m going to try something new…a couple of times a day or as often as reasonable, I’ll take 3 topics and do something that’s not quite a regular blog post length but longer than Twitter allows.
Number 1: Should the GOP embrace legalization/decriminalization of Marijuana?
It’s the sexy new topic on the right. Personally I’m indifferent to ok with it. I’ve never done pot or any other illegal drug so it’s not my thing. Mostly, I’m libertarian on this sort of stuff. If people want to do it and take the chance of screwing up their lives through addiction, not my problem. Just don’t ask me to pay for it.
National Review has an editorial that makes a strong case for legalization based on the cost of turning so many otherwise law abiding and upstanding citizens into criminals.
Make a less than impressive case is GOP consultant Rick Wilson. His argument is that the country is going in this direction and the GOP might as well get ahead of this and see the rewards of more young voters. This strikes me as nonsense along the lines that if the GOP just does amnesty then Hispanic voters will ditch their liberal beliefs and embrace conservatism.
What Wilson’s politics based approach ignores is that the last thing the GOP needs is another self-inflicted wedge issue fight. He offers no evidence that young voters will be drawn to the GOP or that the Democrats won’t simply follow along maintaining the rest of the issues status quo between the parties.
National Review is honest about making this decision on the basis of policy, not some phony unsupported political argument.
2. Russia parks warship off coast of Scotland, shrunken UK Navy scrambles to respond.
A lack of patrol craft to spot the visitor and a 24 hour response time to get a UK warship on the scene has highlighted a glaring problem…the Royal Navy, once the Rulers of the Waves, is a mere shadow of its former self and the resurgent Russian bear has noticed.
This provocation comes as Scotland contemplates an independence vote.
I guess Putin is trying to keep the UK together or something. Who ever knows with this guy.
Either way, it’s clear that weakness breads aggression. It’s a lesson we seem intent on ignoring again.
H/T and links via the invaluable Navy Lookout Twitter feed.
3. Former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates has a memoir coming out and excerpts are starting to leak.
Early focus from the book is on Obama and his approach to Afghanistan.
At a pivotal meeting in the situation room in March 2011, Mr. Gates said, Mr. Obama opened with a blast of frustration over his Afghan policy — expressing doubts about Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander he had chosen, and questioning whether he could do business with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.
“As I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his,” Mr. Gates writes. “For him, it’s all about getting out.”
As I wrote in December of 2009, the day after Obama’s speech at West Point announcing his troop surge plan.
So why is Obama doing this? To save face. I don’t think there’s any real doubt that if he could pull out today without paying to steep a price politically he would. Instead he is trying to have it both ways…be tough but not too tough. Committed by not endlessly so.
Obama’s speech last night laid out a strategy, but it was a political not a military one. He had to walk the line between the Olbermanns and Sullivan’s of the world on one hand and the independent voters who are tired of the war but don’t want to give up on the other. This ‘strategy’ has something for everyone. Everyone that is but people who are serious about fighting the war.
The country would have been better off had Obama trusted his instincts and just exited Afghanistan as we did Iraq. By 2010-2011 our troops had done all they could. Asking them to do more was just political cover.
Our troops did all they could and we should never let anyone say they didn’t do all that any group of men and women could have done.
Someone wrote a clickbait post for Rolling Stone arguing for five economic reforms millennials should embrace. Unsurprisingly, they are essentially Communism gussied up for the gullible (here’s the author’s twiter profile where he espouses his support for #FULLCOMMUNISM).
As he was attacked for his stupidity he naturally claimed that no one was bothering to refute his refoms on their merits. I pointed out to him that history had done that for him and all that was left was the mocking of idiots such as himself.
And that’s when the most tired of all lefty tropes…Communism has never really been tried.
The Right seems to think that history (I assume they mean the USSR) refutes the five non-Soviet reforms I proposed earlier today. Odd.
— Jesse A. Myerson (@JAMyerson) January 4, 2014
So, let’s take a look at his five ideas and see if the USSR gave them a go.
1. Guaranteed Work for Everybody
From the Constitution of the USSR
Article 40. Citizens of the USSR have the right to work (that is, to guaranteed employment and pay in accordance wit the quantity and quality of their work, and not below the state-established minimum), including the right to choose their trade or profession, type of job and work in accordance with their inclinations, abilities, training and education, with due account of the needs of society.
This right is ensured by the socialist economic system, steady growth of the productive forces, free vocational and professional training, improvement of skills, training in new trades or professions, and development of the systems of vocational guidance and job placement.
2. Social Security for All
Also for the Constitution of the USSR
Article 43. Citizens of the USSR have the right to maintenance in old age, in sickness, and in the event of complete or partial disability or loss of the breadwinner.
The right is guaranteed by social insurance of workers and other employees and collective farmers; by allowances for temporary disability; by the provision by the state or by collective farms of retirement pensions, disability pensions, and pensions for loss of the breadwinner; by providing employment for the partially disabled; by care for the elderly and the disabled; and by other forms of social security.
3. Take Back The Land
Once again the Constitution of the USSR
ARTICLE 6. The land, its natural deposits, waters, forests, mills, factories, mines, rail, water and air transport, banks, post, telegraph and telephones, large state-organized agricultural enterprises (state farms, machine and tractor stations and the like) as well as municipal enterprises and the bulk of the dwelling houses in the cities and industrial localities, are state property, that is, belong to the whole people.
4. Make Everything Owned by Everybody
This isn’t as self-explanatory as the rest. Here’s what he says.
Just buy up their [everyone’s?] stocks and bonds. When the government does that, it’s called a sovereign wealth fund. Think of it like a big investment fund that buys up assets from the private sector and pays dividends to all permanent U.S. residents in the form of a universal basic income.
Once again, that pesky Constitution of the Soviet Union.
ARTICLE 4. The socialist system of economy and the socialist ownership of the means and instruments of production firmly established as a result of the abolition of the capitalist system of economy, the abrogation of private ownership of the means and instruments of production and the abolition of the exploitation of man by man, constitute’ the economic foundation of the U.S.S.R.
ARTICLE 5. Socialist property in the U.S.S.R. exists either in the form of state property (the possession of the whole people), or in the form of cooperative and collective-farm property (property of a collective farm or property of a cooperative association).
5. A Public Bank in Every State
Not only were there public banks everywhere in the Soviet Union, they were the ONLY banks in the Soviet Union.
The Structure of the Soviet Banking System
Gosbank (literally, “State Bank”) has traditionally been the core of the Soviet banking system. Shortly before the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, Gosbank had over 150,000 employees working in over 6,000 branch and collection offices nationwide. Over 250,000 enterprises, 40,000 collective farms, and nearly half a million government organizations held accounts with Gosbank.
In addition to Gosbank, three other financial institutions comprised the Soviet monobank. Sperbank (“Savings Bank”), with over 70,000 branch offices, was the sole bank for household savings deposits, which earned a positive but very low rate of interest.(3) Stroibank (“Investment Bank”), was responsible for disbursing funds to enterprises for long-term investment, according to the dictates of the central plan. Finally, Vneshtorgbank (“Foreign Trade Bank”) handled all transactions involving imports and exports.
Even though the Soviet system (like that of other STEs) was divided into more than one “bank,” it was still a “monobank” in the sense described above. The additional “banks” merely administered funds or accepted deposits from households. They did not compete with Gosbank, and were ultimately under the orders of the same central authorities as Gosbank. Indeed, Sperbank became an official department within Gosbank in 1963.
So despite his denials, it’s pretty clear the Soviet Union had everything Myerson advocates for and it failed. Totally.
But let’s not be too hard on the Communists. They did succeed at one thing…killing million upon millions of people in their efforts to remake society and maintain their control.
#FULLCOMMUNISM = #MILLIONSDEAD. Always has, always will.
ObamaCare is succeeding in one very real way for liberals…making more people dependent upon the government.
Already the nation’s largest health-care program, Medicaid is being expanded and reshaped by the law to cover a wider array of people.
Among them will be many who consider themselves middle class — people such as Sandy Kush, who initially bristled when she learned that she would be joining a program she had always thought of as being only for the poor.
“Maybe it’s like a shame thing. I was raised middle-class. I own my house. It just seems like not me,” said Kush, 49, an unemployed medical transcriptionist in Naperville, Ill., who said she would have preferred to buy a private health plan with the help of a federal subsidy.
The millions losing their private insurance isn’t a policy problem for liberals, it’s their goal. It’s only a problem for them in that it’s a short term political hit that is putting them on the defensive. The more people who eventually lose private insurance they pay for themselves that turn to Medicaid or federally subsidized plans, the better it is in the long term for the liberal project.