Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Karl Rove Pot and the Rick Perry Kettle

Republicans must really hate each other. Today, Karl Rove called Rick Perry's position on social security "toxic." What's next? Is Dick Cheney going to call Michele Bachmann "evil?"

Friday, September 02, 2011

Michele Bachmann Loses Political Virginity

I guess Michele Bachmann is losing her "Minnesota Nice." Having released her first nastily dishonest attack ad on Rick Perry yesterday, Bachmann joins Dick Cheney in demonstrating that Barack Obama isn't the only target of Republican viciousness.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dick Cheney and American Average-ism

Dick Cheney is out with another "exciting" leak from his book. Actually, it's a leak squared because Cheney is leaking that President Bush ordered a leak to David Ignatius about the situation in Iraq in 2007.

“On Tuesday morning, May 22 [2007]," Cheney writes, "a David Ignatius column appeared in the Washington Post titled ‘After the Surge: The Administration Floats Ideas for a New Approach in Iraq.’ It quoted administration officials on the need to revamp policy in order to attract bipartisan support and to take into account the fact that the surge might not have the stabilizing effect we had hoped.

In the final analysis, what Dick Cheney has to say in his book isn't very significant. It's what Cheney did as Vice-President that counts and Cheney ultimately made the U. S. much more of an average authoritarian country. Promoting the illegal invasion of Iraq, introducing torture into American treatment of terror suspects, the emergency rendition of terror suspects to countries where they would be tortured, maintaining a set of secret CIA prisons, and perverting the whole legal structure of American government in defense of torture all made our country much more like Castro's Cuba, Mubarak's Egypt, Gaddafi's Libya, and Assad's Syria than we had been.

Of course, the extension of the Arab Spring into the Libyan Summer and the Syrian Fall means that the U. S. is losing a number of our more brutal fellow-travelers. In a rapidly changing world, it's hard to stay average for very long.


What Was I Doing for Those Two Years?

Given that much as American conservatism is about the denial of reality, it's always interesting to follow the new twists in reality denial. Here, conservative Mission America commentator Linda Harvey denies that there's any such thing as gay, lesbian, bi-sexuals, or transgendered (LGBT) people.

There’s one big fact that’s not backed up. There is no proof that there’s ever anything like a gay, lesbian or bisexual or transgendered child, or teen or human. One of the other things you’re gonna see as I mentioned is a big campaign GLSEN’s gonna roll out this year calling for 'respect,' respect! Not just for people, but for homosexual lifestyle. The PR campaign to hold up gay as a good thing: the lifestyle, not the person, because there are no such humans.

During the 1980's, I worked as a cook and busboy at a gay bar in Philadelphia. Now I guess I have to wonder what I was "really" doing those two years.






Thursday, August 25, 2011

Today's Supposedly Big Dick Cheney Revelation

Dick Cheney's been saying that his soon-to-be-published memoir is going to make "heads explode."

Dick Cheney is already promising there will be “heads exploding all over Washington” when his new book hits stores Tuesday. The 46th vice president made that declaration in an interview with NBC -- portions of which were aired on the Today Show Wednesday morning -- as he embarked on a media blitz to promote the book, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir.”

I'm not sure why though. The big revelation being leaked today is that Cheney advocated the bombing of Syria. I wouldn't have been surprised if Cheney had wanted to bomb Paris and Bonn . . . or LA and New York for that matter. The fact that he wanted to bomb Syria is hardly news.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Libya: Obama Handled It Right



Libyan Revolutionaries have taken over large areas of Tripoli and are reported to have captured two of Qaddafi's sons. They deserve a great deal of credit for founding a new nation on the wreckage of the dictatorship.


Also deserving credit is Barack Obama. Much as the killing of bin Laden was a validation of Obama's Afghanistan policy, the triumph of the Libyan Revolution has validated Obama's approach to the Arab spring in general and Libya in particular. Obama provided the Libyan movement with moral and military support. But the United States refused to invade Libya, overthrow Qaddafi, and win the revolution for the protesters. By limiting American support, the Obama administration forced the Libyans to win their revolution themselves and the positive effects frofm that will be felt for decades to come.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why Sarah Palin's Going to Run

Rachel Maddow caught a video in which husband Todd admitted that Sarah Palin quit her job as governor of Alaska so she could make money--thousands of dollars a day.

In my opinion, this is why Sarah Palin will ultimately run for president as well. Sarah Palin doesn't particularly want to run for president and I doubt that she wants to be president either. If Palin wanted to run and be president, she would have already jumped into the campaign. Still, Palin is constrained to run for president because she can't maintain her current standard of living unless she runs. Much as Newt Gingrich's little "American Solutions" empire depended on the "Newt for President" tease, Palin's much bigger empire of her Fox gig, television show, book deals, and speaking tours all depend on the idea that Palin could run for president as the chosen representative of right-wing America. It's not like Palin would dry up and blow away if she doesn't run, but her speaker's fees, ratings, advances on her books, and general marketability are all going to decline substantially if she doesn't answer the call of the popular white right and run for the presidency.

Todd Palin's comments are an indication that Team Palin has some sense of the connection between Sarah's income and her politics.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bring on Rick Perry

The Obama administration thinks that Mitt Romney is going to win the Republican nomination, but I bet they're hoping that the GOP chooses Rick Perry instead.

Obama surrogate Paul Begala is certainly chomping at the bit:

Does Michele Bachmann make conservative crowds swoon by saying the Lord told her to study tax law? Meh. Perry gathers 30,000 people to a controversial Christian
prayer rally. In Houston. In August. One veteran Texas politico told me, “The guy is Elmer Gantry. He could take over a conservative megachurch tomorrow and outpreach the pastor . . .

Perry told The Daily Beast's Andrew Romano that Social Security is “a Ponzi scheme,” and that both it and Medicare are unconstitutional. Never mind that the Supreme Court recently ruled that Social Security is perfectly constitutional . . .

Perry has already flirted with secession. Secession? Even Jefferson Davis opposed secession when he was a senator from Mississippi. When you’re more open to secession than Jefferson Davis was a century and a half ago, well, you've gone pretty far . . .
Begala is so pumped about running against Rick Perry that he was almost ready to run himself.

Candidates on the far right like Perry, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann are always claiming that Barack Obama or "the left" is afraid of them. But the opposite is the case. Rick Perry represents everything that is ignorant, bigoted, wrong-headed, and immoral about the conservative movement in this country. Begala's phrase for all of that is "bat shit crazy" and he's itching to oppose him.

So am I.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Slouching Toward a Hee Haw Economy?

Now that the Stock Market has lost 500 points three times in the last two weeks, the economy is beginning to race a number of big questions.

Probably the most immediate question is whether the U. S. is going to move from the economic pessimism of the last two years to a long-term state of gloom and despair. One of my favorite songs from the 70's was the old Hee-Haw anthem "Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me:"

Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all
Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me.

There's reason to think the panic might be temporary. The main reason that the panic might abate is that American companies are tremendously profitable and sitting on mountains of cash.

Corporate America has bounced back impressively. The quarterly results season that is now nearly over has revealed that profits are back within a whisker of the all-time highs achieved before the downturn in late 2008. By some calculations, the rate of recovery of profits from their trough is the strongest since the end of the Great Depression.

But if the whole country decides on gloom, we're going to have a Hee Haw economy.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

What is Fox News?

According to the impartial observers at Fox Business News, David Brock at Media Matters for America claimed earlier this year that Fox News is the "de facto head of the GOP." In fact, that was true in 2009-2010 when Fox fanned the flames of the Tea Party Movement and led the charge against Obama's health reform legislation. But I'm not so sure that Fox is still the only organizing force in the GOP at this point.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Lady Gaga to Speak at Rick Perry's "Day of Prayer?"

Before Texas governor Rick Perry became this week's Great White Hope for the Republican presidential nomination, he organized a National Day of Prayer for this Saturday.

There are a lot of questions associated with the event. Should Perry be inviting gay-baiting hate groups like the American Family Association? That question can also be asked about flame-throwing religious figures like John Hagee of "the Holocaust was a good thing because it brings us closer to the Apocalypse" fame.

Likewise, wouldn't identifying with the religious right undermine Perry with independents and moderates if he won the GOP nomination? According to Alex Castellanos:


One thing Republicans are going to demand this election is a candidate who can beat Barack Obama . . . The election is all about him. A candidate who establishes his identity on the fringe, talking about social and religious issues, when the economy is going over a cliff, risks marginalizing himself, becoming unacceptable to independents and unelectable. That would be the kiss of death.

And Alex Castellanos knows extremism, having made his career by doing racist ads for Jesse Helms during Helms' last Senate campaign.

Another problem is that Perry booked 65,000 seat Reliant stadium but only has 8,000 reservations. As Bobby Jindal could tell him, epic fails are real buzz-killers.

But the biggest question hanging over Rick Perry's Day of Prayer is whether Lady Gaga is going to make an appearance.

It certainly seems like Perry is teasing a Gaga performance.

"There will be folks who think it's [politics], that there are other motivations. But it's not about me," Perry said. "It's about Him," the exact same divinity Lady Gaga references in "Born This Way."

"It doesn't matter if you love him/or capital H-I-M."

Perhaps Perry had an inspiration while singing along with Gaga's lyrics (what rising politician doesn't think "you're on the right track baby, you were born this way?) and decided to put out an invitation to the hottest singer on the planet.

Now THAT would be a sensational way to launch a presidential campaign.

Clever of Perry to keep it a secret so long.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Nancy Pelosi Counterfactual

It looks like Nancy Pelosi came close to voting "no" on the debt limit proposal. If Pelosi had voted "no," i beliee she would have been obligated to run against Obama in the 2012 primaries.

Huntsman and the Prom Queen

A pretty dumb moment from Jon Huntsman. Yesterday, Huntsman claimed that the media only paid attention to Michele Bachmann because she was pretty.

In a long story running in this week's New York, Huntsman -- who recently abandoned his lackluster Mr. Nice Guy campaign in favor of taking direct swipes at his opponents -- suggested Bachmann, the only woman officially running for president, gets the attention she gets in part because she's good-looking. "She makes for good copy--and good photography," Huntsman told New York's John Heilemann. The quote came in the context of talk about Bachmann being "more an object of media fascination than a plausible nominee," as Heilemann put it.

Actually, I follow commentary on Bachmann's campaign fairly closely and there's none of the "librarian porn" fascination surrounding Bachmann that was the case with Sarah Palin. Actually, this is the first discussion I've seen of her standard-issue, politician look. I remember somebody commenting that politicians all look like class presidents or prom queens and Bachmann looks like she could have been queen at a home schooling prom.

But who besides Jon Huntsman, who really cares?

The main things about Bachmann's candidacy is that she has a constituency in the religious right and Tea Party factions, works very hard, has a potential path to the Republican nomination, and would lose the general election to Obama by about 25 points.

But why exactly is Jon Huntsman running?

About all I can see is that he has a career-killing resume as a moderate Republican, good hair, and an interesting story about growing up as a rock n' roll Mormon.

Not exactly presidential material there.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Eleven Theses on the Debt Limit Showdown

Given the problems of the American economy and political institutions, it's a good time to give a nod to Karl Marx. Here's some quick ideas on the state of play in the Debt Limit Showdown modeled after Marx's "Theses on Feuerbach."

I. Are We Exceptional? You betcha. American exceptionalism now means that the U. S. has an extraordinarily large economy and an equally dysfunctional political sector. Having both the best and the worst of the bad is very American. For more than eighty years after the Revolution, we had both the best state of freedom and the worst kind of slavery.
II. The Way of the Whigs. The Debt Limit Showdown is the end of the Republican Party as we know it. The GOP used to be an alliance where global business interests were the senior partners and small business, Southern/Western regionalisms, and ultra-conservative factions provided a populist edge. The religious right, libertarians, and Confederate and frontier nostalgia buffs now dominate to such an extent that they can tell big business to take their global economy and shove it.

III. A Seat at the Table? The United States is the only advanced industrial country where large-scale business interests don't have a political home. The Democrats have a global business perspective but want more government regulation than big business can tolerate. The new Republican Party wants to end the role of government in the national economy and is willing to sacrifice the macro-economic interests of big business to do so. Big business carries a lot of weight, but can no longer advance its fundamental interests.

IV. All the Pretty Revolutions. Since the 1950's, the U. S. has been a caultron of reform movements for civil rights, women's equality, sexual freedom, gay rights, and language diversity. If Lincoln was right to characterize the Civil War a "new birth of freedom," we can legitimately view the last 60 years as "the Age of New Freedoms." Taken as a whole, these movements have changed the nature of everybody's life for the better in the United States.

V. A Critical Mass of Globalism. For all of their problems and limitations, America's urban belts, major cities, and university centers are characterized by a dove-tailing of multi-cultural diversity, global outreach, and high concentrations of financial and cultural capital. Seattle, the Bay Area, LA, Miami, the Bos-Wash corridor and other centers of commerce and technology have become global cities almost as much as they are American cities.

VI. Tea Party Agonistes. What the Tea Party represents is a pointed reaction against the social and cultural changes of the last 60 years. Both rejecting American society and feeling rejected and victimized, the Tea Party and its ultra-conservative allies would want to escape from America like the Boer trekkers or the original Mormon migrants, but can't because the authoritarian traditions they crave have died out in the West. As a result, the Tea Party is stuck with playing out the tragic farce of seeking to dominate American society without being contaminated by modern American life.

VII. A Specter is Haunting Barack Obama. When Barack Obama was elected president, both sides viewed him as the representative figure for the new multi-cultural America that had elected him. As a result, both sides have been disappointed with Obama's presidency. Progressives, African-Americans, hispanics, gay people, Jews, Asian Americans, and young people were all expecting Obama to embody their nascent vision of American society and saw it in his convention address and campaign speeches. Instead, they got a technical manager and moderate. Constituencies on the right were expecting and perhaps yearning for the anti-Christ and got somebody who was more worried about their happiness than anything else. Obama may win re-election but the stigma of disappointment will haunt him like it haunts Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

VIII. Like the Union Army. The American left is much like the Union Army before Grant--large, loosely organized, well-armed, well-fed, and led so poorly that it's painful. Weaknesses are legion, but the left is closely connected with the progressive development of American society over the last 60 years and has a diffuse structure of small groups and publications that allow it to survive defeat and disappointment. Two generations of national leadership have come and gone since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992 and people on the left still deserve better. Perhaps there's a left-wing version of Grant out there waiting to find his niche and his voice.

IX. Like the Confederate Army. The Republicans and the Tea Party right has many of the virtues of the Army of Northern Virginia--audacity, organization, and effective leadership. Hell, I wish there was somebody on the left who was half as smart as Mitch McConnell. But they're fighting a losing battle for the horrible cause of yanking American society back into the 19th century.

Given the problems of the American economy and political institutions, it's a good time to give a nod to Karl Marx. Here's some quick ideas on the state of play in the Debt Limit Showdown modeled after Marx's "Theses on Feuerbach."

I. Are We Exceptional? American exceptionalism now means that the U. S. has an extraordinarily large economy and an equally dysfunctional political sector. Having both the best and the worst of the bad is very American. For more than eighty years after the Revolution, we had both the best state of freedom and the worst kind of slavery.

II. The Way of the Whigs. The Debt Limit Showdown is the end of the Republican Party as we know it. The GOP used to be an alliance where global business interests were the senior partners and small business, Southern/Western regionalisms, and ultra-conservative factions provided a populist edge. The religious right, libertarians, and Confederate and frontier nostalgia buffs now dominate to such an extent that they can tell big business to take their global economy and shove it.

III. A Seat at the Table? The United States is the only advanced industrial country where large-scale business interests don't have a political home. The Democrats have a global business perspective but want more government regulation than big business can tolerate. The new Republican Party wants to end the role of government in the national economy and is willing to sacrifice the macro-economic interests of big business to do so. Big business carries a lot of weight, but can no longer advance its fundamental interests.

IV. All the Pretty Revolutions. Since the 1950's, the U. S. has been a caultron of reform movements for civil rights, women's equality, sexual freedom, gay rights, and language diversity. If Lincoln was right to characterize the Civil War a "new birth of freedom," we can legitimately view the last 60 years as "the Age of New Freedoms." Taken as a whole, these movements have changed the nature of everybody's life for the better in the United States.

V. A Critical Mass of Globalism. For all of their problems and limitations, America's urban belts, major cities, and university centers are characterized by a dove-tailing of multi-cultural diversity, global outreach, and high concentrations of financial and cultural capital. Seattle, the Bay Area, LA, Miami, the Bos-Wash corridor and other centers of commerce and technology have become global cities almost as much as they are American cities.

VI. Tea Party Agonistes. What the Tea Party represents is a pointed reaction against the social and cultural changes of the last 60 years. Both rejecting American society and feeling rejected and victimized, the Tea Party and its ultra-conservative allies would want to escape from America like the Boer trekkers or the original Mormon migrants, but can't because the authoritarian traditions they crave have died out in the West. As a result, the Tea Party is stuck with playing out the tragic farce of seeking to dominate American society without being contaminated by modern American life.

VII. A Specter is Haunting Barack Obama. When Barack Obama was elected president, both sides viewed him as the representative figure for the new multi-cultural America that had elected him. As a result, both sides have been disappointed with Obama's presidency. Progressives, African-Americans, hispanics, gay people, Jews, Asian Americans, and young people were all expecting Obama to embody their nascent vision of American society and saw it in his convention address and campaign speeches. Instead, they got a technical manager and moderate. Constituencies on the right were expecting and perhaps yearning for the anti-Christ and got somebody who was more worried about their happiness than anything else. Obama may win re-election but the stigma of disappointment will haunt him like it haunts Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

VIII. Like the Union Army. The American left is much like the Union Army before Grant--large, loosely organized, well-armed, well-fed, and led so poorly that it's painful. Weaknesses are legion, but the left is closely connected with the progressive development of American society over the last 60 years and has a diffuse structure of small groups and publications that allow it to survive defeat and disappointment. Two generations of national leadership have come and gone since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992 and people on the left still deserve better. Perhaps there's a left-wing version of Grant out there waiting to find his niche and his voice.

IX. Like the Confederate Army. The Republicans and the Tea Party right has many of the virtues of the Army of Northern Virginia--audacity, organization, and effective leadership. Hell, I wish there was somebody on the left who was half as smart as Mitch McConnell. But they're fighting a losing battle for the horrible cause of yanking American society back into the 19th century.


X. Tragic Victories. My guess is that the Debt Limit Showdown will result in a fairly lengthy period of debt default with unknown consequences to the American and world economy. If either side gains a clear victory, the other side is going to strengthen itself in defeat as the whole of politically active America stews in bitterness. In this light, the best outcome might be a mutually unsatisfactory compromise.

XI. Nothing Wrong with Interpretation. Marx was right about the need to change the world rather than interpret it. But it wouldn't hurt if we had some better interpretations.My guess is that the Debt Limit Showdown will result in a fairly lengthy period of debt default with unknown consequences to the American and world economy. If either side gains a clear victory, the other side is going to strengthen itself in defeat as the whole of politically active America stews in bitterness. In this light, the best outcome might be a mutually unsatisfactory compromise.

XI. Nothing Wrong with Interpretation. Marx was right about the need to change the world rather than interpret it. But it wouldn't hurt if we had some better interpretations.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rick Perry's "Gay Marriage Reparative Therapy"

Texas Governor Rick Perry hasn't announced yet, but the Rick Perry For President campaign has begun in earnest as Perry seeks to mend fences with the most determined haters in the social conservative movement--professional gay rights opponents.

Perry had to mend fences because he responded to the passage of gay marriage in New York by saying something that sounded vaguely like acceptance.

“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said that marriage can be between two people of the same sex and you know what that is New York and that is their business and that is fine with me, that is their call. If you believe in the tenth amendment, stay out of their business”.

That quote was a problem for Perry because of the particular nature of his candidacy.

Rick Perry's No. 1 strategy for the Republican primaries is to beat out Michele Bachmann for the position of social conservative/Tea Party candidate and then edge Mitt Romney over the long haul.

And it's a viable strategy.

Mitt Romney is a very weak frontrunner who is incredibly vulnerable to negative advertising and many social conservative groups would tend to support Perry over any woman not named Sarah Palin. As a result, Perry has a definite path to the nomination.

But social conservatives are just as opposed to gay rights as George Wallace was opposed to civil rights for African-Americans and Rick Perry was denounced by Rick Santorum and others for his "appeasement."

So it was onto the haters for a little "gay marriage reparative therapy."

Today, Perry stopped by the radio program of Tony Perkins, the head of America's most respected hate group, the Family Research Council. The Family Research Council was named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because they publish inflammatory material that claims that gay people belong in jail among other things. Last February for example, Peter Sprigg, the senior researcher at the Family Research Council (FRC) told MSNBC host Chris Matthews that "I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions on homosexual behavior." All in all, the FRC's statements on homosexuality reminded the Southern Poverty Law Center of the Klan's statements on race. So the FRC was named a hate group.

Perry didn't exactly retreat from his view that New York had a right to legalize gay marriage, but he did manage to mollify Perkins by restating the blanket opposition to gay marriage in Texas and his own preference for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Right and that is the reason that the federal marriage amendment is being offered, it’s that small group of activist judges, and frankly a small handful, if you will, of states, and liberal special interests groups that intend on a redefinition of, if you will, marriage on the nation, for all of us, which I adamantly oppose.

Of course, that's never going to happen and Perry knows it. Support for gay marriage has been growing steadily over the years and just recently passed the 50%. The chances of conservatives passing an anti-gay marriage amendment to the constitution are exactly zero.

But reality isn't that meaningful of a concept for the FRC or any conservative group. The point for Perry was to pander enough to let the Family Research Council know that he was "one of them" and he succeeded.

And the Perry for President campaign goes on.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

To Be Decided By Gallup--The End Game on Debt Limits

The Last Couple of Plays in Regulation. Nobody really knows what's going to happen with the Debt-Limit Showdown. Talking Points Memo and Nate Silver think it's going to be settled before Aug. 2. Andrew Leonard of Salon thinks not. I'm with Leonard. My best guess is that Obama, the Democrats, and Congressional Republicans will NOT hammer out a compromise by the Aug. 2 deadline and that they won't come to agreement if they have another week either.

It looks to me like neither side can afford to compromise. There are two debt limit proposals out there now--one by Harry Reid which projects spending cuts of 2.7 trillion and the other by John Boehner which projects 1 trillion in cuts. Given that Boehner has already come to at least one agreement with Obama, it's likely that Reid and Boehner could come to some sort of compromise on spending if spending were the main issue.

But it's not.

The main problem is how to schedule the next debt limit vote. John Boehner is adamant about scheduling another debt limit vote in six months and making the Democrats go through the entire process again during the 2012 election campaign and Boehner is bringing up legislation to that effect today. The bill isn't all popular with Republicans because it doesn't fulfill all of the big ambitions that the GOP had for the debt limit debate. Republicans had hoped to either dramatically cut federal discretionary spending, get big cuts in Medicare and Social Security, or get a balanced budget amendment. Boehner's plan doesn't contain any of this and the only consolation that he's offering Republicans is to renew the whole depressing debate again in 2012 as a way to bog down the Obama administration and help the Republican presidential candidate.

But Senate Democrats aren't totally stupid. They're just as adamant about not putting the debt limit albatross around Obama's neck and all 51 Senate Democrats and two independents have already signed a letter indicating that they won't vote for the Boehner plan. Several Senate Republicans have expressed scepticism about the Boehner bill as well. So Boehner's bill isn't going anywhere in the Senate. But Harry Reid's legislation isn't going anywhere either. Reid's plan won't have the 60 votes needed to get through the Senate and doesn't offer anything to Republicans in the House.

In other words, none of the proposals have a snowball's chance of getting through the hell that is now the Congress of the United States.

And I don't think that there's going to be much room for compromise either.

The Republicans can't give in because of Paul Ryan's Medicare proposals. Right now, the Ryan proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher system is an unpopular albatross around the neck of every Republican candidate in the country. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell initially tried to escape the Paul Ryan problem by demanding that the Democrats accept major cuts in Social Security and Medicare entitlement cuts as the price of getting any kind of debt limit agreement. But Obama trumped that when he proposed the poison pill of accepting entitlement cuts only if the GOP agreed to eliminate many of the tax loopholes for big business. Boehner found that proposal appealing, but was overruled by the Tea Party caucus.

At this point, the proposal to revisit the debt limit debate in early 2012 is the only weapon the Republicans have to counter "The Ryan Effect" and I don't think the Republicans believe they can afford to give it up.

That's why John Boehner will ultimately choose default over compromise on his proposals.

And it's not like the Democrats are going to cave either. Obama and Harry Reid don't want to piss away all the advantages that the Dems have been accumulating since the 2010 election debacle. They want the election focus to be on Republican over-reaching and they can't do that if there's another Debt Limit Showdown.

Even more important than that, the Democrats are determined not to be seen as weak. The biggest problem for Obama and the Congressional Democrats is that almost all of the important players in American politics see them as weak. Congressional Republicans, conservative activist groups, big business, and a lot of people in the Obama administration itself view the Dems as too eager to compromise. If the Democrats and Obama cave now, they'll no longer get the benefit of the doubt from their own constituencies.

Ultimately, the last two plays in regulation will likely be votes on the Boehner Plan and the Reid Plan in the Senate.

And both plans will fail.

Overtime. You know, it wouldn't be a bad idea if political overtime was decided by penalty kicks just like soccer. But overtime in the Debt Limit Showdown is going to be decided by the polls instead.

And it could be a long overtime.

That's because there's a decent chance that the public mood has to get really ugly and angry for either side to give in.

That's certainly the case for the Republicans. The polls already show that the public favors Obama's approach of balancing enhanced revenue with spending cuts. If the Republicans were going to respond to "public opinion" in this way, they would have already caved. Conservative Republicans are in an odd position. They see their majority in the House of Representatives and the debt limit debate as a big chance to push through a balanced budget amendment and eviscerate social security and medicare. That way, conservatives could lock in "conservative government" for generations even if conservative Republicans find it impossible to win elections in any but the reddest of red states. This is part of the reason why the Republicans are unlikely to cave unless the political environment turns against them completely.

Of course, that can happen.

The political environment could turn very toxic for the GOP if markets grind to a halt, federal checks stop going out, or Republican politicians and conservative talkers start committing a lot of "we don't care how much you're suffering" gaffes. The last big Republican initiated showdown was scuttled when Newt Gingrich started whining about having to sit in the back of a plane.

But I still think that House Republicans will be very reluctant to back down and might decide to defy public opinion even if it turns very strongly against them.

For the Democrats, backing down is still "weakness" and patience with Obama administration weakness is beginning to run out among the Democrats. The Obama administration is much more sensitive to public opinion than the Republicans, but it would take a big shift for the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats to cave.

Overtime for the Debt Limit Showdown could last awhile.

Maybe they should just do penalty kicks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mitt Romney is Doomed! Doomed!

There never was much reason to think that Mitt Romney had a fighting chance of winning the Republican nomination in 2012. Sure, Romney has all the right stuff on paper. He's a former Wall Street honcho and he saved the LA Olympics, served two terms as governor of Massachusetts, and looks great in a suit. Romney also projects oodles of alpha male leadership qualities and is going to win all of the fundraising battles because of his own personal fortune and his access to big business and Mormon cash.

But none of that means much in the Republican primaries.

Romney is what's going to be known as the classic "Mike Castle" candidate. The now former senator from Delaware, Mike Castle was experienced, popular, had lots of money and would have won a general election against a Democrat hands-down.

And I'm sure that Castle was supremely confident of election in 2010.

Nevertheless, Castle's re-election campaign folded up like origami paper after a few well-placed Tea Party attack ads on his moderation and Castle ended up with the most humiliating loss possible. He was beaten by the unemployed, dysfunctional neophyte Christine O'Donnell who promptly became a national embarrassment.

In the same way, Mitt Romney has little chance of winning the GOP presidential nomination even though he's leading in the polls. As soon as aggressive conservatives like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, or Rick Perry begin running attack ads, Romney's numbers are going to sink and his campaign's going to run aground.

And if the other GOP candidates aren't going to go after Romney, Tea Party organizations were determined to see that he didn't win.

But it turned out that none of that was necessary.

Even without a barrage of attack ads, the current polling indicates that Romney is a long-shot. A PPP poll released today has Romney 20%, Bachmann 16%, Palin 12%, Perry 11%, and the GOP riff raff corralling another 32% among them. Romney's ahead, but these are disastrous numbers for him because Bachmann, Palin, and Perry are the same woman or "guy." They're Tea Party affiliated, aggressive, religious, suspicious of government, and alienated from the multi-cultural America that's going to line up behind Obama's re-election. Bachmann, Palin, and Perry get 39% of the vote between them and that's the case even though neither Palin nor Perry have started campaigning yet. Bachman was around 5% before she announced. One positive debate performance and some hard campaigning later, Bachmann's nipping at Romney's heels in a field of ten. When Perry and Palin announce (and I'm convinced Palin will run), their numbers can be expected to go up as well.

Bachmann's actually slipping ahead of Romney on other measures, edging Romney by 1 point (21-20) with Sarah Palin not being considered and edging Romney again (44-41) in a head to head measure. Bachmann's even or slightly ahead despite not having Romney's name recognition, not having Romney's money, and not running any RINO crushing attack ads. Right now, Romney's a second choice for almost as many Palin, Cain, Gingrich, Perry, Ron Paul, Pawlenty, and Huntsman supporters as Bachmann.

Romney also seems to be the second choice of that guy in Idaho who supports Rick Santorum.

But support will eventually drift away from Romney as the super-charged emotions of the Republican primaries start building in earnest and the number of candidates drops down from the current 10 after the South Carolina caucuses.

Who becomes Romney's strongest opponent is anybody's guess. Right now, I would give slightly better odds to Michele Bachmann because she's proven to be more energetic, more determined, and more systematic than either Sarah Palin or Rick Perry.

But that could change.

Given all her charisma, Sarah Palin still has an opportunity to reignite among conservatives. Likewise, it could be the case that Perry has untapped national appeal.

Who knows?

But the battle to win the Republican nomination is likely to be determined by who's the strongest between Bachman, Palin, and Perry.

Sarah Palin's Appeal

A well-stated formulation of Sarah Palin's core appeal by Jonathan Kay writing for Salon:

Sarah Palin isn’t like other politicians. I know this from personal experience, having watched her speak to a massive Tea Party event that I covered while researching my newly published book about conspiracy theories, "Among the Truthers." She is not so much listened to as worshiped. Her stock right-wing policy formulations and anti-Obama barbs are not really the source of her appeal. Rather, Palin is loved for the personal qualities she embodies: Her large family, her decision to give birth to a child she knew had Down syndrome, her son who served in Iraq, her small-town clapboard roots. There is a rapturous quality that comes over right-wing audiences when she speaks, as if they were in the presence of a Madonna figure come to deliver America from its travails.

Of course, the America that Palin's audiences view her as delivering is "white America."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Republican Plot to Re-Elect Obama

That's pretty much what the debt limit talks look like right now. Boehner, McConnell, and Eric Cantor are doing their level best to turn Obama into a "strong leader who stood up to the reckless bullying of the Republicans."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Will Sarah Palin Ever Hire a Republican?

Golly! That liberal media is tough. Newsweek puffs Sarah Palin to the hilt. They even have a couple of cheesecake wilderness shots.

The hard-bitten journalism crew at Newsweek also makes it sound like Palin's a lock to run for president but hasn't decided how she's going to run a presidential campaign without actually doing any campaigning. Is Palin doing to run a stealth campaign where she swoops into a town or state without notifying anybody? Or is it going to be a Zen campaign where she sits on her porch in Wasilla (or is it Phoenix?) and focuses on her breathing.

"Sarah Palin is now breathing."

These are all questions that I'd like to see answered but that Newsweek was too breathless to address. Maybe they were just too excited by their exclusive access to ask any questions.

My own biggest question is whether Palin is going to bite the bullet and hire a living, breathing Republican to work for her campaign. Palin seems to have developed a phobia for all the consultants, campaign operatives, opposition researchers, and local officials associated with the Republican Party. She avoided them like the plague on her swing through the Eastern historical sites and didn't contact anybody in the Republican Party about her trip to Pella, Iowa ("an old Dutch town with the country’s largest working windmill") to see her campaign video "Undefeated."

To be honest, I can't blame Palin. Like a lot of Americans, I'm not particularly fond of the Republican political apparatus either. They're the kind of people who give dishonesty and corruption a bad name. But I really think that Sarah Palin has to hire at least one Republican if she's going to run for the Republican nomination.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Some Justice

Today, it was announced that CNN has canceled "In the Arena," the newstalk show hosted by that former patron of prostitution and Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer shouldn't have been given such a "rehabilitation" vehicle by CNN in the first place.

If this was a just world, Spitzer would have been forced to retire and live out his days as an embarrassment to his family, friends, and neighbors.

Sort of like Larry Craig of "wide stance" fame.

Still, it looks like Spitzer is losing his program and probably his toehold in the media universe. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Begging Brooks

David Brooks begs Republicans to be reasonable. Not being optimistic about that, he begs "responsible" Republican elites to ignore the "fanatics" and be reasonable.

But that ship has already sailed.

Mitch McConnell and the other people in charge of the Republican Party have decided that fanaticism is their best bet.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Obama Must Be Doing Something Right

Interesting! Mark Halperin called a "dick" for the Wednesday conference. Given that Halperin's one of the biggest creeps in American public life, it's evident that Obama must have been doing something right.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

In War Criminal News . . .

John Yoo criticizes the Obama administration for not going through proper process in deciding on the legality of their actions in Libya. Of course, Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago, is more qualified than most presidents to make up his mind on these issues.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More Rats Fleeing from the SS Newt

In today's Newt News, his two top campaign fundraisers resigned today. That makes 18 senior staff people who have resigned from Gingrich's floundering campaign over the last three weeks.

The departures of fundraising director Jody Thomas and fundraising consultant Mary Heitman were the latest blow for the former House speaker who watched 16 top advisers abandon his campaign en masse earlier this month, partly because of what people familiar with the campaign spending described as a dire financial situation.

People don't realize it yet, but this presidential campaign is the end of Newt Gingrich as we know him. Newt's whole America Solutions empire is premised on the idea that Newt Gingrich is a creative guy who has real influence in the Republican Party and the American government as a whole. But now that Gingrich is embarrassing himself so thoroughly on the campaign trail, it's gradually coming out that Newt doesn't have any influence and hasn't had any influence since he resigned as speaker in 1998. It turned out that Newt Gingrich was exactly what his worst critics said along--a megalomaniac blowhard who couldn't be trusted with anything.

Sooner or later, Newt's going to get hit with a new reality. After his presidential campaign ends sometime after he gets 5% in the New Hampshire primaries, people are going to stop buying Newt's movies, videos, books and pamphlets, they're no longer going to participate in his projects, and are going to stop coming to his web sites. Sooner or later, America Solutions is going to either be dramatically downsized or go bankrupt.

My bet's on the latter.

That doesn't mean that Newt's going to starve or Callista won't be able to afford more platinum hair die. There's always room for a megalomaniac blowhard to hustle for a hard-earned buck on the right.

It's just that most of us aren't going to hear about it.

Jon Huntsman Throws His Snowball into the Deep Pit

In one of the most insignificant presidential campaign announcements of 2011, Jon Huntsman has announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination.

The media gives Huntsman a lot of play because he's a "different kind of Republican" who has moderate views on social issues and served with Barack Obama as ambassador to China.

But Huntsman is almost as bad a no-hoper as you can get.

First, Huntsman doesn't have much name recognition among Republican voters. Of course, that's not necessarily fatal. But the easiest ways to pump up name recognition for an ambitious GOP politician are to drop about $100 million into advertising or make firebrand pronouncements about how Barack Obama is destroying the country because he isn't a real American. Huntsman comes from a wealthy and prominent Mormon family, but doesn't seem to have the ability to drop 50 or 100 mill like Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. Likwise, he just came off a sting as Obama's ambassador to China. So, he can't make himself into Obama's "enemy from hell" either. Making things worse, Huntsman has no juice with the religious right, no cache with foreign policy neo-cons, and very little connection with the Republican religious establishment.

So, what is Jon Huntsman's constituency?

At first glance, it looks like Huntsman is going to compete for Mitt Romney votes. I should be clear that Huntsman's not going to compete with Mitt Romney for Romney votes. Huntsman has absolutely no chance of competing with Romney at this point. Instead, Huntsman is going to compete with Tim Pawlenty for the "I agree with Romney, but would never vote for Romney" vote.

That's the only competition Tim Pawlenty is going to win all year.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Rick Perry Bubble

Texas Governor Rick Perry is thinking of running to be the third president of the Confederacy--after Jefferson Davis and George W. Bush.

My impression of Rick Perry is that he's not all that smart. I've always disagreed with people on the left who thought George W. Bush and Sarah Palin were stupid. Both of them are bright, clever people who decided on ignorance as a life strategy.

Rick Perry strikes me as more like George Allen and Mike Pence--just kind of dumb.

That doesn't mean that Perry couldn't be president. His political consultant Dave Carney certainly has a good idea of the niche Perry could occupy in the presidential primaries as someone who would “take the wood to Obama.”

About 40% of Republican voters didn't think Obama was born in the U. S. until he produced his "long-form" birth certificate.

That constituency is looking for someone who would be particularly aggressive toward Obama and Perry could fill the bill.

But Perry could also find out that the media and primary voters are going to expect to make an instantaneous transition from breathy anticipation of a Rick Perry candidacy to charismatic fulfillment of their expectation.

If Perry is not up to that, there's a good chance that he'll drop like a Fred Thompson stone.

For what it's worth, my initial opinion is that Perry doesn't have what it takes.

Nail-Biting Day for Gay Rights in New York State

It looks like a big vote on legalizing gay marriage is coming up in New York State today.

I'm on my second marriage, all of my brothers and sisters are either on their first or second marriages, and one of my aunts has been married five times.

It's a crime that none of my gay friends in Kentucky or Pennsylvania can say the same.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Huntsman Agonistes

Matt Bai of the New York Times claims that the Jon Huntsman candidacy for the Republican nomination should be taken seriously and that he has Republican insiders who will stake their careers on Huntsman's chances.

A few deeply knowledgeable Republicans I talked to (if I told you who they were, they wouldn’t talk to me anymore) gave him something like a 1 in 5 chance of getting the nomination. Their view is that Mr. Huntsman, who is regarded as a moderate on issues like immigration and climate change, isn’t nearly as likely a choice as Mr. Romney, but he’s not substantially less likely than, say, Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota.

Ok, claiming that Huntsman has as good a chance as no-hoper Tim Pawlenty is not exactly taking a big leap.

But Huntsman doesn't have a chance at all.

What Huntsman wants to be is the Barack Obama of Republican moderates--someone who can appeal to a broad coalition of Wall Street guys, Main Street Republican businessmen, and traditional conservatives who don't like too much progress but aren't interested in re-enacting either the Boston Tea Party or the attack on Fort Sumter.

But Mitt Romney pretty much has those constituencies sewn up. That leaves Huntsman and Pawlenty fighting over the scraps of Republican voters who think like Romney but don't want to vote for Romney.

That's not a very big group.

If Jon Huntsman has a purpose in running for president at all in 2012, it's to put himself in position to be a consensus elite candidate in 2016.

But he doesn't have any chance of accomplishing that either.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bachmann Disappoints

Elite political commentators are pretty much unanimous in agreeing that Michele Bachmann helped herself last night.


To the extent that any candidate stood out as a potential anti-Romney, it was . . . Rep. Michele Bachmann, who started the debate with the surprise announcement that she had filed to run for president of the United States. The TV-friendly conservative, beloved by the tea party, introduced herself to a national audience as a “former federal tax litigation attorney” and “businesswoman,” repeatedly mentioning the 23 foster children that she and her husband have raised. And unlike the other candidates, who are largely former officeholders, Bachmann was able to point to her voting record as a sitting congresswoman to show she’s in the midst of pitched fights over health care reform, financial regulation and federal spending.
That was Politico. Chris Cilliza of the Washington Post goes on.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann came into Monday night’s presidential debate in the Queen City as an unknown commodity. She left it as the most talked-about candidate in the 2012 GOP field.
That translates to me as Bachmann "beat expectations" by sounding better than Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, and Newt Gingrich, and thus stood out.

That's true.

But Michele Bachmann isn't running against those guys. She's running against Sarah Palin to be the candidate of the religious right and Tea Party against Mitt Romney.

If Palin decides to run, Bachmann will have to go toe to toe with her. But even if Palin doesn't run, Bachmann's has to show that she can catch fire like Palin did in 2008 if she wants to be beat Romney.

And Bachmann didn't do anything to indicate that she could catch fire.

As a result, I rate Bachmann's night pretty much as a failure. If she really wants to compete for the Republican nomination, she'll have to raise her game.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Zombie Night--Live Blogging the Republican Debate

This is a revised version of my live-blog of the GOP New Hampshire debate on CNN tonight. The cast of contenders includes The Leader (Mitt Romney), the Zealot (Ron Paul), the Clown (Herman Cain), and the Woman from the Religious Right (Michele Bachmann). Those are the candidates who count the most. Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum are running as the Professor and Marianne candidates and the whole event is being haunted by the ghost of Newt Gingrich.

Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Donald Trump aren't here. That means there are votes to be had. Huckabee's out and the whole campaign establishment thinks that Palin's out as well. That means that religious right and Tea Party votes are up in the air. Bachmann in particular is interviewing for the position of "substitute Palin." There's a clown constituency out there as well. Donald Trump was once at 26% in the polls as the "clown candidate" who was willing to say anything about President Obama. Who's going to emerge as the clown candidate. Right now, it looks like Herman Cain has the best shot, but Pawenty is coming up with a lot of goofy proposals. Maybe he sees his path from 5% to contender status as paved with the most outlandish proposals he can make.

7:55 Wolf Blitzer blah blahed about Mitt Romney as the presumed leader, but Romney’s grip on the top position is extremely tenuous. Gallup polls have him up 2-4% over Sarah Palin, but Romney's connection with health reform, flip flops on abortion and gay rights, and general lack of authenticity make him extremely vulnerable to attack ads. He's very vulnerable.

8:01—Introductions—Cliché time. Rick Santorum mentions Pennsylvania which is very interesting because Santorum lost his last race in Pennsylvania by 19. Michele Bachmann raised 23 foster children, Newt comes out with a new cliché—“the Obama Depression,”—Mitt Romney says something that's very forgettable—Ron Paul wants to take the country back to the 1780’s—Tim Pawlenty suprises everyone by saying “I love America" and it’s all about the grandkids for Herman Cain.

The big surprise is that Michele Bachmann is practically tiny compared to the guys. Oh yeah, Bachmann also announced that she had filed papers for her candidacy and would make an official announcement tomorrow.

8:05—John King is moderating—still an idiot after all these years (for some reason, my computer stuck on all caps at this point). 8:06—How would the Republicans create jobs—Big surprise there! Herman Cain advocates Tax Cuts for the Wealthy.

8:06—Tim Pawlenty advocates tax cuts plus deregulation, says that his assumption of a 5% annual growth rate is a tribute to American exceptionalism and that anything else is "Declinism." "Declinism," another bad word for "reality."

8:09—Mitt Romney makes a nod to reality by actually citing some statistics—is still all for Tax cuts for the wealthy 8:10—Onto the Ghost of Newt Gingrich—Says something memorable

8:11—Michele Bachmann announces her Presidential candidacy, dodges “Dodds-Frank.”

8:12—Ron Paul can’t think of anything that Obama’s done right. Of course, he can’t think of anything that the U. S. Government has done right since the creation of the fed in 1913. I’m surprised he didn’t go back to George Washington. maybe he will later.

8:13—Sylvia Smith is concerned with “defunding” and” repealing” Obamacare. Wonder which candidate is most eager to overturn health reform.

8:14—In another big surprise, it turns out that all of the candidates want to overturn health reform. As a result, Michele Bachmann gets out her first and second deceptive statistics of the evening, that Health reform harmed medicare and cost jobs.

8:15—Mitt Romney now answering on analogies between RomneyCare and ObamaCare—about ready to get hammered by his esteemed colleagues.

8:16—Tim Pawlenty gets out his hammer—takes a v-e-r-y long time wielding it—totally ineffective—Mitt Romney’s going to be very vulnerable to attacks on Romney’s health care scheme—Pawlenty fails to strike and confirms his reputation as a wimp.

8:18—Onto Gingrich’s flip-flopping on individual mandate—Why nothing from “Clown Candidate” Herman Cain—Newt wants more republicans in the Senate, but forgets that he's the last guy who would ever have coattails. I guess it doesn't matter though because Newt never had a chance of being nominated. He'd poll 8-10% if he still had his whole campaign staff, and he's going to poll 8-10% without them as well.

8:20—Question from “mainstream Republican” whatever that is anymore—Rick Santorum gets a chance to talk—mentions welfare reform from 1996—sees himself as mobilizing bi-partisan support. The questioner sounded like he was thinking of voting for Obama--not a good sign for Republican candidates or the republican party. 8:22—Michele Bachman goes all gauzy about the tea Party—“take the country back” is not such a gauzy slogan though—she loves it. But the questioner still looks like he'll end up voting for Obama

8:23—Can Herman Cain build bridges from the tea party to the rest of the country? Well, he’s going to hire good advisers who can develop “common sense solutions.” Yawn. America wants red meat from Herman cain and it's getting tuna salad. If Herman Cain wants to win the Republican nomination for President, he'll have to get all the Donald Trump vote and will have to say a lot of outlandish things to get that vote. So far, Cain hasn't been mildly interesting, let alone outlandish.

8:25—Questioner wants to know how Republicans will return manufacturing jobs to the U. S.—Ron Paul wants to bring money back to the U. S. rather than jobs—makes almost no sense unless you’re a Milton Friedman freak. 8:26—Pawlenty mentions that he was the only republican who grew up in his meat-packing town—also avoids question. 8:27—Michele Bachmann doesn’t believe in job-training—wants to reduce corporate tax rates for companies that are already not paying taxes—wants to get rid of the ePA—Also dodging question

8:28—Santorum mentions that he’s from Pennsylvania yet again but declines to discuss how hated he was by the Pennsylvania electorate.

8:29-0Question about Right-to-Work legislation—Tim Pawlenty’s all for that. Even though he was in a union, he appears to hate unions

8:30—Give John King some props—he’s pretty quick on his feet—about as much depth as Triplett Creek in Morehead though 8:31—One wonders why any union worker would vote republican!

8:32—Personal Side of Candidates—Rick Santorum chooses leno over Conan O’brien

8:33—A Short break from the lameness—Mitt Romney sounds the most coherent—Daughter No. 1 thinks Michele Bachman would be the easiest to beat—She thinks Romney would be pretty easy to beat as well though. And Romney would be easy to beat unless there's a depression. Conservatives would pretty much stay at home.

8:36—Commercials for an exercise program that looks like it causes cancer

8:36—Michele Bachmann can’t choose between Elvis and Johnny Cash—Christmas with Elvis?

8:37—Question about Government subsidies—Ron Paul says that there shouldn’t be any—

8:38—Question to Herman Cain about Tarp—Cain liked the idea of Tarp but totally disagreed with implementation

8:40—Tom Fahey speaks—The questions are pretty hostile in general—Fehey hints that the auto bailout was successful—Mitt Romney disagreed because Obama “gave the company to the UAW”—I don’t think this is working and John King uses Romney’s own words against him.

8:41—I’m beginning to wonder how close the Republicans are going to come to saying they would have allowed a depression.

8:42—I’m beginning to think that Republicans are much more impressive as pundits on Fox than they are in presidential debates.

8:43—Newt Responds to a question on NASA by Fantasizing about Space.

8:44—Tim Pawlenty defends the space program—Why not Get rid of it though?

8:45—What would administration do to right the housing ship? Tim Pawlenty gives a long-winded version of “Nothing” or “getting the private sector moving again”

8:46—Ron Paul gives the zealot answer—“let’s do much less sooner”—Paul likes “corrections” but does not quite advocate “depression”

8:48—Herman Cain makes a major confession—“The federal government should be doing food inspections.”

8:49—Now it’s Disaster spending—Mitt Romney wants to send disaster relief back to the states—Wants to talk more about federal deficits than disaster relief.

8:50—Newt Gingrich reveals his deepest feelings—he likes American idol more than dancing with the stars

8:51—Another break—pretty weak stuff altogether—no wonder I didn’t watch The Republican debates during the 2008 cycle. Commercials—It looks like Cadillacs are good at dodging arrows. Who knew?

8:52—Onto Medicare—Dr. Paul Collins asks a tough question about medicare—Ron Paul responds that he would cut a lot of money from medicare—need to cut defense spending, wars, and corporate welfare—wants to opt out.

8:55—Tim Pawlenty wants to make medicare an option—fully justifies his 4% rating in the polls.

8:57—Newt deals with Medicare and the Ryan proposal—prefers the totally unknown “Tom Price” to Ryan—Goes deep and announces that he doesn’t want to pay crooks.

8:58—Santorum and Herman Cain are all for jumping off the medicare cliff.

9:00—onto Social Security—another fairly hostile question—Cain wants a personal retirement account like chile, doesn’t seem to be particularly interested in bringing back pinochet though.

9:01—Questions are actually substantive and technical—onto the debt ceiling. Mitt Romney wants Obama to exercise more leadership in doing what republicans want—doesn’t address debt ceiling.

9:03—Bachmann uses B. Obama’s words against him—Doesn’t mind default

9:05—John King wants twitter level answers—almost gets them.

9:06—Pawlenty isn’t particularly interested in the separation of church and state. Rick Santorum doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state at all—Ron Paul is a little more skeptical—Let’s see how much Herman Cain really hates Muslims—Cain emphasizes that he wouldn’t be comfortable with members of al-qaeda in his administration—big surprise there!—

9:09—John King nails Herman Cain on litmus tests for muslims in government—Newt is Really vociferous about Not hiring members of al-qaeda in his administration—

9:12—Hermain cain likes deep dish pizza—Both Dad and Daughter wish Sarah Palin were participating—But I think it’s a good idea for palin to avoid events where everybody is driving down their poll numbers—Sometimes I think that Republican presidential candidates are trying to make sure that no one votes for them.

9:15—Only 45 minutes to go.

9:17—When’s John King going to ask whether candidates like Lebron James or Dirk Nowitzki? How many would say Nowitzki?

9:17—Gay Marriage question for Michele Bachmann—Is she going to advocate a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage? Doesn’t look like it--Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, want a constitutional amendment—Bachmann as well.

9:19—back to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell—Herman Cain doesn’t want to go back, Tim Pawlenty punts to military, Ron Paul won’t go back, Romney punts, Gingrich will go back, Bachmann wants to go back, Santorum wants to go back to the Stone Age— The biggest disappointment is Michele bachmann—she isn’t doing anything to distinguish herself or earn anything more than her current 7%--Definitely not an alternative to Sarah Palin

9:24—Question about rape and incest exceptions to a pro-life position—Bachmann makes a case from the Founding fathers but abortion was very popular during the early years of the republic
9:26—Immigration up next—Question is from the far, far right—focusing on Government services to illegal immigrants—immigration is just like recreational drugs. It should be completely legalized.

9:29—Ron Paul is very confusing about immigration—Sounds like the main solution to illegal immigration is a slow economy

9:30—Herman Cain wants to end birthright citizenship—secure borders—enforce laws—which pretty much means create a police state—

9:31—Tim Pawlenty sent Minnesota national guard to mexican border

9:32—20 million illegal immigrants—What would Newt Gingrich do about it? Newt pontificates in response—transplant Homeland security Department to Border

9:34—Eminent Domain? Ron Paul wants to go back to the 1780’s, pretty much his answer to everything. If I was a Republican candidate, I wouldn’t be too happy with these questions. The Questioners are examining the contradictions of Republican positions rather than giving them an opportunity to slam Obama.

9:37—Rick Santorum wants to end Ethanol subsidies—Ethanol is a special problem for me
because it’s basically corn-based gas. Given my corn allergies, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life breathing in corn fumes. There’s that Cadillac dodging arrows again. A stunning commercial claim--Cadillac makes “Cadillacs”

9:39—Aviva is buildijng insurance “around you”

9:40—Mike Huckabee is on TV campaigning against health care reform.

9:41—Foreign Policy—Question about withdrawing from Afghanistan—Romney punts to the military—almost makes a big gaffe about handing off to the Taliban—Ron Paul wants to withdraw without consulting the military, withdraw from Iraq as well—Tim Pawlenty starts with tribute to military, then goes into a long-winded justification for bombing yemen—

9:45—Fifteen minutes to go, 9:45—Is the U. S. justified in its involvement in Libya—Michele Bachmann gets tied up in her own cliches—Doesn’t want us to be involved, but wants us to lead anyway—kind of confusing.

9:47—Newt wants us to think “Fundamentally” about withdrawing from Afghanistan but doesn’t mention Afghanistan—Herman Cain wants the U. S. to avoid complex situations

9:48—Question about withdrawing from Role of Global leadership—Rick Santorum pontificates about terrorism and wants basing around the world— The main result of this debate is that Republican voters will be choosing between Romney and Palin if Palin runs. If Palin doesn’t run, it will be Romney vs the field.

9:54—Question about lack of enthusiasm for Republican candidates—

9:56—Tim Pawlenty gets a question about Sarah Palin—gets though it without embarrassing himself—looks sick though—Romney tries to sell the field as better than Obama

9:57—Ron Paul wants to know what the other candidates think about his fetish about the Federal reserve

9:58—Ending tributes to New Hampshire--

Closing Remarks—There wasn’t much here. I think Sarah Palin was the big winner tonight. none of the Participants did anything to stand out as an opponent to Obama. I guess you could say that Mitt Romney did well because he didn’t’ do anything to lose his big lead over this group. but it wasn’t like he really helped himself either. Certainly, none of the candidates at the bottom of the polling did anything to help themselves. Tim Pawlenty gets the most press, but didn’t do anything to justify that press. Rick Santorum ducked on the question of abortion. David Gergen says that it was a good night for Michele Bachmann but I can’t see why. Most of what Bachmann showed was that she didn't have anything like the charisma of Palin. More toward the middle of the GOP pack, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul didn’t do much to help themselves while Herman Cain didn’t show any of the pizzazz needed to be a serious contender.

All in all, the GOP candidates came off as a relatively large collection of Zombies. Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and Chris Christie were probably licking their chops in anticipation of running against this group.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The End of Newt Gingrich as We Know Him

The whole campaign staff of Newt Gingrich resigned today. That's right, they all quit--Newt's national campaign manager, personal spokesman, Newt's Iowa guy, his New Hampshire guy, and his South Carolina guy all resigned at the same time.

It appears that Newt wanted to run a media campaign where he got to do all the fun stuff of politics like tweeting, facebooking, and doing television interviews. but didn't raise any money and didn't

TPM claims that it's "almost beyond belief" but I think not.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Herman Cain: Clown Candidate

It looks like Herman Cain is replacing Donald Trump as the leading clown candidate in the Republican presidential race.

What's a clown candidate?

Putting on my political scientist hat, I would define a "clown candidate" as "a presidential candidate who is seeking to gain support by making the most provocative statements in the field."

What made Donald Trump a clown candidate was the fact that his appeal was based solely on questioning whether President Obama was born in the United States or not. There's apparently a large constituency for clown candidates among Republican voters and Trump's birtherism pushed him up to 26% in the polls at one point.

Now, the same Republican constituencies are looking at former Godfather's Pizza CEO and radio talk show host Herman Cain as the answer to their dreams of confronting President Obama in the most provocative way possible.

Here's the kind of thing Republican voters like:

“Stupid people are running America,” Cain complained on Saturday night. “We will put a conservative in the White House, and I've got a good feeling his name is going to be Herman Cain.”

Given that Cain's economic plan is basically to empower the wealthy even more than they already are, I have a strong feeling that Cain's not going to beat Obama in 2012.

But he's got a decent enough shot at being the Republican nominee--definitely better than Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The GOP: A Bad Day at the Polls

Sure, one day does not make a real trend in daily tracking polls.

But that doesn't mean that eyebrows weren't being raised when Republicans saw Obama's approval rating at 53-39 in today's Gallup poll.

Ben Smith of Politico raised an eyebrow as well.

The problem for the GOP is that they are the ones who should be riding high. It's not like the Obama administration has gotten a lot of good news since the bin Laden hit. The economy is stagnant, gas prices are high, the country is involved in yet another unpopular war, and leading Democratic figures like Anthony Weiner and John Edwards are deep in scandal do-do.

Moreover, the GOP is on the offensive. Republican presidential candidates are out campaigning, the GOP lead House of Representatives are standing up for entitlement cuts, and Republican governors are pursuing an aggressive agenda of fiscal austerity, putting limits on public unions, and cutting government spending.

Perhaps this is just a one day trend.

But if 2010 demonstrated that most people don't like liberalism, 2011 might be showing that Americans like conservatism even less.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Wisdom of Will?

On "This Week," George Will was pontificating about whether anybody could imagine Sarah Palin being in control of nuclear weapons.

Pretty much your everyday Palin Put-Down from the GOP elite.

Of course, I'll admit that I'm biased enough about Sarah Palin have a hard time imagining her being responsible about anything.

But I don't see any reason to view Palin as more dangerous than warmongers like George W., Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, or John Bolton.

Actually, I see Palin as a little less dangerous than that group. Being ignorant and impulsive is less dangerous than being well-informed and determined to flout international law.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Who's Afraid of Sarah Palin?

Lots of people according to Rush Limbaugh (Being interviewed by the always scary-looking Greta Van Susteren).

You know the effect that she has on establishment Republicans. They are just as frightened in their own way as the Democrats are of Palin. And I -- one thing I think that is inescapable, particularly with when looking at the Democrats. The Democrats will always -- and the media -- will always tell us who they are afraid of by virtue of who they spend time trying to destroy . . . Bottom line is she scares them. She also scares the Republican establishment.

I can see where Sarah Palin and the Tea Party might scare some Beltway Democrats. They're pretty much scared of everything, including people like me. But progressives are part of the Democratic establishment as well and progressives would think they've died and went to heaven if the GOP nominated Palin next year.

I know I would.

Maybe It Would Be Better to Pair Turner with Bachmann

Washington insider Ed Rogers is floating the idea of a Jon Huntsman/Michele Bachmann presidential ticket. Here's the fluff Rogers wrote about Huntsman.

Former governor and ambassador Jon Huntsman is an articulate, attractive, cerebral, urbane internationalist. He’s a proven conservative with a reassuring, moderate tone and a model family. His vast experience in state and federal government, including service as a diplomat, clearly makes him qualified to be president.
I have a hard time understanding anybody in the Republican elite would push Jon Huntsman. A moderate Republican who served as Obama's ambassador to China, Huntsman isn't any more likely to be win the GOP nomination than a socialist/atheist like me.

Michele Bachmann is another matter. Somewhere between rising star on the right and joke candidate with terminal foot-in-mouth disease, Bachmann is flirting with a long-shot presidential run and would be an attractive VP candidate because of her ability to fire up the GOP base.

The GOP would be better off nominating Paul Ryan for pres and pairing him with Bachmann. Ryan would represent the economic wing, Bachmann the religious conservative wing. It would be a balanced ticket and probably a lot more honest than what the Republicans will actually do.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sarah Palin vs Republican Elites: Advantage Palin

America is soon going to find out if Sarah Palin still matters. After more than four months out of the limelight, Palin is embarking on a historical tour of the Northeast.


The first stop will be at the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally. Palin will then travel up the East Coast in a trip that will include her first stop in New Hampshire since running as the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in 2008.


Palin will also be stopping at other spots of symbolic national significance on the East Coast, including the Civil War battlefields at Gettysburg and Antietam, and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

For Palin's sake, I hope she knows the Revolution better than Michele Bachmann, the Constitution better than Herman Cain, and the Civil War better than your average Confederate re-enactor. If Palin celebrates the Confederacy during her visits to Civil War sites and ignores the hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers who gave their lives to defend the union and emancipate the slaves, she'll have hell to pay.

But the main question is whether Palin's re-emergence matters for the Republican presidential nomination. Steve Kornacki of Salon thinks that GOP elites have squelched any expectation of a Palin victory.


. . . an unofficial "stop Palin" campaign was launched by opinion-shaping GOP "elites" in the months after the midterm. Conservatives with credibility with the GOP rank-and-file -- including Charles Krauthammer, Andrew Breitbart and even Bill Kristol . . . -- began delivering the message in subtle and not-so-subtle ways: Let's find someone else . . . As a result of all of this, Palin will enter the GOP race -- if she does decide to run -- as a marginalized figure. She has plenty of fans among the party's grass roots, universal name recognition, and probably the ability to raise some serious money in small donations. But the most influential voices on the right are almost universally opposed to her now, and are committed to communicating this to the rank-and-file.
Kornacki goes on to say that GOP elites have "this one under control."

But nothing's farther from the case.

Sure, elite figures like Krauthammer, George Will, and Ann Coulter pushed Palin's poll numbers down from the low 20's into the teens and that Palin became radioactive after her "blood libel" comments on the Tucson shootings.

But Palin has basically played Republican elites to a draw.

After the "blood libel" fiasco, Palin did the smart thing and lowered her public profile. Outside supporting Scott Walker in Wisconsin and a brain-dead tweet about the bin Laden hit, Palin stayed so far out of public view that everyone started thinking that she no longer wanted to run.

Meanwhile, Republican elites were embarrassing themselves with their feckless search for the "Great White Alternative" to Romney and Palin. It's important to emphasize that Republican elites don't like Mitt Romney any more than they like Sarah Palin and Romney's numbers have been pushed down by all the carping about his work on health care in Massachusetts.

But the elite search for an alternative to Romney and Palin has been a complete debacle. Not only did John Thune, Jeb Bush, Haley Barbour, and Mitch Daniels have no chance of winning the nomination, they all had even less chance of beating Obama than Romney and Palin. It's been so bad that people like Rich Lowry of the National Review are ready to throw up their hands and start shouting "No Mas! No Mas!" before the first primary vote is cast.

And it's getting worse. Now people like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor are mooning over the currently toxic Paul Ryan and the obnoxious to the nth degree Chris Christie. The Jewish Cantor has as much hope to be raptured as he has of Paul Ryan winning the nomination.

So, where does the Republican field stand now? With the withdrawal of Mike Huckabee, the first tier is now Romney and Palin, but their numbers have been beaten down to 17% and 15% over the last six months. Romney has more money, organization, and self-discipline; Palin has more campaign charisma, a more ferocious approach to attacking Obama, and the prospect of uniting social conservatives and the Tea Party behind her. If Romney wasn't so vulnerable to negative advertising on health care and abortion, he would have the edge. But the Tea Party faction has made it clear that the GOP primaries are going to feature brutal attacks on Romney's "RINO" record.

Advantage Palin.

That is, unless another joke candidate like Donald Trump surgest to the front by making the most extravagantly stupid claims about Obama.

That's how little control Republican elites actually have.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Brief Comment on Netanyahu's Speech

Agreeing more with the protester than the standing ovations, I'd like to see the Israelis give up their illegal and brutal occupation of the West Bank.

GOP 2012: Looking for Charlie Sheen

I don't know how sincere this is, but Republican possibilities now say that they're dropping out because they fear the possibilities of WINNING.

The conventional wisdom on Mitch Daniels was that his family didn't want to revisit the story of Cheri Daniels leaving the Indiana governor, getting married in California, and then coming back. Personally, I can see why she left. Given that Daniels comes off as a workaholic, policy wonk, it's not surprising that his wife might leave him in order to be more independent and have a more vital and interesting life.

It's not like it hasn't happened before.

But an adviser to Mitch Daniels is putting out the idea that the Daniels family was more worried about the impact of winning a presidential election on their future.


"It wasn't just about a campaign and it wasn't just about serving in office, but it was about the potential of enduring a campaign and then one to two terms in office, and then the rest of your life."


Daniels seems to be asking himself "what the hell happens if I win the nomination? That means I'd be campaigning for the next 18 months when you consider the primaries and general election. Then, I'd not only be stuck in the White House for at least four years if I beat Obama, but I'd be defined as an "ex-president" for the rest of my life with the inevitable 800 page memoir, a bored to death Secret Service detail, and the news papparazzi treating me like I'm the political version of Lindsey Lohan. It's just not worth it. I'm sorry but I don't want to be president."

That's the same as Haley Barbour talking about not wanting to "make a ten year commitment" by running for president.

Winning would be horrible.

Where's Charlie Sheen when you need him. Charlie knows WINNING. He embraces WINNING. He enjoys the perks that go along with WINNING.

Of course, Charlie Sheen is bi-polar and doing a lot of drugs.

But if Republican candidates really think the country is going down the tubes (and that's a big "if"), they need to be more enthusiastic about being elected president.

Monday, May 23, 2011

NY Times Super-Bad On Mitch Daniels

I've never been a big fan of the New York Times, but the Jeff Zelenzy/Jim Rutenberg "story" on the Mitch Daniels decision not to run for the Republican nomination is a particularly poor example of political journalism.

The biggest weakness of the article is that it conveys an impression that the Republican primary field is just about set with Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Jon Huntsman.


“The field is largely now settled, and Republican activists and donors will begin increasingly choosing between those who are declared,” said Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and an adviser to President George W. Bush. “The process will accelerate now.”


That's just idiotic.

For anybody interested in reality, there are two big stories with the Republican primary field. Most importantly, establishment conservative manipulators failed again to come up with a candidate who can credibly unify the business establishment, neo-cons, and the religious right. George W. Bush was a nearly perfect prop for the Republican establishment in 2000. Relatively new to politics, Bush was a fresh-faced politician who could campaign as a "compassionate conservative" for general election voters but also be absolutely orthodox and willing to aggressively attack the Democrats.

No doubt Karl Rove, Ed Rollins, and Whit Ayers are still pining for those days.

But the conservative establishment couldn't come up with another version of George W for 2008. The manipulators have a dual problem. They've found it extremely difficult to find any body who combines conservative orthodoxy with the ability to make that orthodoxy new and exciting. In 2008, neither of the two major candidates were orthodox conservatives. John McCain was a lone wolf who couldn't stand business conservatives, neo-cons, or the religious right. Sure, he was a popular guy who could tack right for the primaries, but he couldn't galvanize the Republican Party for the campaign. Also outside the establishment, Mitt Romney tried to fake orthodoxy but couldn't do so in a credible manner. The Great White Hope of the conservative establishment, Fred Thompson, lost traction because he wasn't willing to campaign.

The establishment types haven't been able to find a Great White Hope for 2012 either. For one reason or another, potential candidates like Gen. David Petraeus, Bobby Jindal, Charlie Crist, and Chris Christie didn't pan out. Fox News boss Roger Ailes even made a big play to get Christie to run. So they started fantasizing over secondary figures like the non-charismatic Mitch Daniels, budget guru Paul Ryan, and former Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio, but they really didn't want to run.

I imagine they're will probably be one more push to get Christie to run.

As a result, the conservative establishment is stuck with Mitt Romney as their best hope. At best, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman can only provide token competition for Romney. However, Romney just isn't strong enough to be the establishment standard bearer. He looks like a sure loser to Obama in the general election. Even worse, he might lose to somebody from the Religious Right/Tea Party faction and thus threaten Establishment control of the GOP.

And that's the second big story for the GOP, the emergence of a religious right/Tea Party faction that is a real threat to the conservative establishment. The problem for the Religious Right/Tea Party is that they haven't come up with a viable candidate either. At one point, the Religious Right/Tea Party looked like it was one step ahead of the Establishment because it appeared that Sarah Palin was going to be a charismatic standard bearer. But Palin was over-exposed in 2009, stumbled badly in her response to the Tucson shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords and proved to be vulnerable to criticism and thin-skinned. Right now, Sarah Palin is all question marks and no answers.

Unfortunately for the right, the Religious Right/Tea Party doesn't have a viable alternative to Mitt Romney any more than the Establishment. Mike Huckabee was a possibility but he didn't like the Tea Party and didn't want to run. Michele Bachmann could unify everybody in the Religious Right and Tea Party factions, but is probably too green to beat Mitt Romney. People like Rick Santorum and Herman Cain are too marginal to make much impact.

The major question for the Republicans at this point is whether Sarah Palin is going to run and whether she would be a strong enough figure to threaten Establishment control of the Republican Party is she does run.

Not having come up with a viable candidate for two election cycles in a row, the conservative Establishment is in danger of losing control of the Republican Party.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Running for Mr. Roarke: The Conservative World Becomes Fantasy Island

One of the things that's always made Slate annoying was that so many Slate writers got their kicks out of pretending to take Republican arguments seriously and then showering the left with little gestures of contempt even though 95% of the staff was voting for Obama.

But it appears those days are over.

Slate editor Jacob Weisburg came out with an article today accusing the Republican Party of being a "Fantasy Island" in which "educated" people like Chris Christie have to choose between being viable presidential contenders and denying the reality of evolution, climate change, the fact that Obama was born in Hawaii, and the need to raise taxes to address the deficit. Weisburg could have mentioned the Republican denial of torture being a crime against humanity, the delusional arguments against gay marriage, the new nullificationism, the denial of the crisis in health care, and the rapture as other examples of Republicans living in fantasy land.


Moments like this point to a growing asymmetry in our politics. One party, the Democrats, suffers from the usual range of institutional blind spots, historical foibles, and constituency-driven evasions. The other, the Republicans, has moved to a mental Shangri-La, where unwanted problems (climate change, the need to pay the costs of running the government) can be wished away, prejudice trumps fact (Obama might just be Kenyan-born or a Muslim), expertise is evidence of error, and reality itself comes to be regarded as some kind of elitist plot.
And it's not just Republican voters either.

Weisburg is probably good friends with a lot of people in the right-wing media, but the denial of reality among conservative constituencies is actively promoted by Fox News, talk radio, the Weekly Standard, and the National Review among other outlets.

Because the conservative media presents reality denial as the only reality, it's hard for conservatives in South Carolina, Texas, and Utah to know any differently.

In the final analysis, all of the Republican presidential candidates are running to be Mr. Roarke, that is, when they're not angling to be Tattoo.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trump and the Politics of Confrontation

Chris Cilliza of the Washington Post is on the right track in claiming that Donald Trump was so popular with Republican voters because of his willingness to confront President Obama.

Commonly Subversive

The family and I watched Common and Queen Latifah in Just Wright yesterday. Hard to see him as the "subversive" Bill O'Reilly says he is.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Winning the GOP's "Highest Unfavorables" Title

Before Newt Gingrich announced his presidential candidacy, his "unfavorable" ratings in national surveys were high but not as high as Sarah Palin's and Donald Trump's.

Americans also already know and have fully formed opinions about Palin, Trump and Gingrich. And in many cases, their verdicts are harsh. A recent independent national poll from Quinnipiac University reflects the trio's electability problems: 58 percent of respondents said they would never vote for Palin or Trump, and 42 percent said they would never vote for Gingrich.

Now that Newt's running for president, I imagine that his negatives will start inching up to the Palin/Trump level. Maybe he'll eventually surpass Palin and Trump as the most unpopular politician in Aemrica.

Ooh! Yecch!

There's a little David Williams ad on my blog. Williams might not be worse than Robert Mugabe, Pol Pot, or the King of Saudi Arabia, but he's certainly not as qualified for the job as Democratic incumbent Steve Beshear. I support Beshear.