I’m sure you’ll recognize the image at the top of this post. The photo was taken at a Tea Party rally in Washington, DC, a couple of years ago. I’ve included other similar photos in this post. Don’t tell me the people holding these flags don’t understand that it is a symbol of racial hatred.
Since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, we have seen shocking overt racism on display by right wing Republicans, and so called “mainstream” Republican elected officials have done nothing to stop it. The simple truth is that the Tea Party is a racist hate group that was formed in reaction to the election of a black president.
As a consequence of Republican officials’ refusal to call the Tea Party what it is, we have seen extreme right wing candidates like Ted Cruz elected to high office and stupid and hateful people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann treated seriously by the media. It’s a national disgrace, and we should begin to hold Republicans responsible for it.
Nikki Haley was elected governor of South Carolina in 2010 as a Tea Party candidate, although she has since fallen out of favor with the group. Yesterday Haley made a cowardly, mealy-mouthed public statement calling for removal of the Confederate flag from the state house grounds, and yet today she is being celebrated in the media for her “courage.” Here’s part of it:
For many people in our state the flag stands for traditions that are noble. Traditions of history, of heritage and of ancestry.
The hate-filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people of our state who respect, and in many ways, revere it.
Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity and duty. They also see it as a memorial. A way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. That is not hate, nor is it racism.
At the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past. As a state, we can survive and indeed we can thrive as we have done whilst still being home to both of those viewpoints. We do not need to declare a winner and a loser here.
We respect freedom of expression. And that for those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way.
But the statehouse is different. And the events of this past week call upon us to look at this in a different way….
One hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come. There will be some in our state who see this as a sad moment. I respect that. But know this, for good and for bad, whether it is on the statehouse grounds or in a museum the flag will always be a part of the soil in South Carolina. But this is a moment in which we can say that that flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.
It is South Carolina’s historic moment, and this will be South Carolina’s decision. To those outside of our state, the flag may be nothing more than a symbol of the worst of America’s past. That is not what it is to many South Carolinians. The state house belongs to all of us. Their voices will be heard, and their role in this debate will be respected….
But we are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something that we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the capitol grounds.
Why couldn’t Haley just admit that the flag on the her state house grounds is a symbol of resistance to integration and to legal recognition that African Americans should have equal rights; and that decades after the changes brought about by Civil Rights Movement they are still not treated equally by many, including police officers? By the way, maybe she should also consider opposing the efforts of Republicans in South Carolina to prevent African Americans from voting.
Last night I watch Rachel Maddow’s show for the first time in months, and I’m very glad I did. Maddow presented a detailed history of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the group whose website inspired Dylann Roof to murder nine African Americans at a prayer group meeting at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC last week. The Council of Conservative Citizens grew directly out of the White Citizens Councils that fought to maintain racial segregation in Southern cities in the 1950s and 1960s. From Wikipedia:
The Citizens’ Councils (also referred to as White Citizens’ Councils) were an associated network of white supremacist organizations in the United States, concentrated in the South. The first was formed on July 11, 1954 After 1956, it was known as the Citizens’ Councils of America. With about 60,000 members across the United States, mostly in the South, the groups were founded primarily to oppose racial integration of schools, but they also supported segregation of public facilities during the 1950s and 1960s. Members used severe intimidation tactics including economic boycotts, firing people from jobs, propaganda, and occasionally violence against civil-rights activists.
By the 1970s, following passage of federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s and enforcement of constitutional rights by the federal government, the influence of the Councils had waned considerably. The successor organization to the White Citizens’ Councils is the Council of Conservative Citizens, founded in 1985.
Maddow pointed out that in 2010, Haley Barbour was quickly eliminated from the race for the GOP nomination when he publicly praised the White Citizen Council in his home city of Yazoo, Mississippi. Maddow also interviewed SC Rep. James Clyburn about the history of the Confederate flag that still flies on the SC state house grounds. He explained that that flag was a Virginia flag flown by Robert E. Lee and that it has nothing to do with South Carolina history. It was put up over the SC state house in 1962 as a direct response to the battle for civil rights for African Americans.
Why couldn’t Nikki Haley simply admit that in her statement? Frankly, the Republican Party has allowed itself to become the party of racism and hatred; and it’s time for decent Republicans to face up to that and and deal with it honestly.
She couldn’t even be bothered to say that the thing is a racist symbol. Which has nonetheless not stopped members of her party from celebrating her courage.
The thing is, it’s not really “brave” to take down a flag that never should have been flying in the first place.
I see what Haley is doing as approximately as “brave” as when I clean up cat vomit. You’re supposed to clean up gross messes in your home….
let’s not pretend that it’s a Great Leadership moment, when it took 150 years of fluttering insult, and nine deaths in the last week at the hands of one of the many white people to embrace that contemptible symbol of white supremacy, to pull it off the flagpole.
I completely agree. As I wrote in a comment yesterday, the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and fear that should be in the same category as the Nazi swastika and the “n” word. Why should people be allowed to fly it on their own property? Why should more intelligent and sensitive neighbors or even people driving by have to see it?
It’s way past time for Republicans to stop beating around the bush and clean up the disgusting mess in their party, and it’s time for all Americans to recognize that racism in any form is evil.
Here’s a more serious discussion of the meaning of the Confederate flag by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic:
This afternoon, in announcing her support for removing the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asserted that killer Dylann Roof had a “a sick and twisted view of the flag” which did not reflect “the people in our state who respect and in many ways revere it.” If the governor meant that very few of the flag’s supporters believe in mass murder, she is surely right. But on the question of whose view of the Confederate Flag is more twisted, she is almost certainly wrong.
Roof’s belief that black life had no purpose beyond subjugation is “sick and twisted” in the exact same manner as the beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were “sick and twisted.” The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.
This examination should begin in South Carolina, the site of our present and past catastrophe. South Carolina was the first state to secede, two months after the election of Abraham Lincoln. It was in South Carolina that the Civil War began, when the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter. The state’s casus belli was neither vague nor hard to comprehend:
…A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.
In citing slavery, South Carolina was less an outlier than a leader, setting the tone for other states, including Mississippi…
Please go read the whole thing at the link.
Republicans are now arguing that Democrats are responsible for the confederate flag symbolism and for the South’s history of racism. It’s true that Dixiecrats fought to maintain segregation, but most of those old guys switched to the Republican Party back in the Civil Rights era. The Republicans own the mess now, and they need to get busy cleaning it up.
As always, this is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comments below.
Dakinikat will try to put up a post this afternoon if she can find time, but in the meantime, here are a few reactions to Hillary’s speech from the media and other politicians, as well as her interview with the Des Moines Register and a good article on the Clinton Foundation for us to discuss in the meantime.
From The Des Moines Register: Clinton hears ‘eagerness’ for talk of female presidency.
Hillary Clinton did not win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, but her campaign succeeded in addressing concerns about whether a woman could be commander in chief, she told The Des Moines Register on Sunday.
“Part of what I tried to do in that campaign was to begin to answer that question,” she said. “Now I feel like the question’s been answered.” ….
“There is an eagerness that I sense coming at me from people in my audiences, in my conversations, to engage with me about that more than I felt in ’08,” Clinton told the Register on Sunday, one of two sit-down news interviews that were the first for this presidential bid.
In the 15-minute interview at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Clinton defended the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, said she’ll propose improvements to the Affordable Care Act, and expanded on her views about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. She landed on the side of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi over Obama in wanting to ensure stronger protections for American workers.
Read the rest at the link.
Inside Philanthropy: Shut Up About the Clinton Foundation’s Problems for a Minute to Look at It’s Programs.
With all the hype in the media about the Clinton Foundation, we wonder how many Americans actually know what the foundation does—or how many members of the media, for that matter.
Listening to news reports, you’d think the sole purpose of this outfit is to help the Clintons get rich and do favors for their shady friends. And while, to be sure, some of the reports about specific donors have been troubling—and suggest questionable judgment by the Clintons—what’s missing is a broader, more balanced look at how the foundation mobilizes money for good causes and who, in reality, puts up most of that money. (Hint: It’s not dictators looking for favors from the State Department.) While people shouldn’t stop asking hard questions about the foundation, they should pay more attention to its approach and programs.
In fact, the Clinton Foundation stands as one of the more successful efforts of recent years to mobilize new resources for philanthropy. Since its founding in 2001, it has raised nearly $2 billion, according an independent review by the Washington Post. Yes, chunks of that money have come from the Clintons’ network of political donors and corporate friends, which is how fundraising often works: You hit up the rich people you know for your causes. And, sure, some of them may not have the purest motives for ponying up, especially if you’re someone who can return favors later, but that’s the nature of the game.
Philanthropic fundraising is more like political fundraising than many may imagine. You think every hedge fund guy who gives big at the Robin Hood’s annual gala is solely focused on poor kids in East New York? Or that every tech leader who recently listened to Marc Benioff’s pleas and chipped in to fight poverty in the Bay Area has a heart of gold? Or that everyone sitting on MoMA’s board is only there because they love art? Come on.
Much more at the link.
Matthew Yglesias at Vox gets it: Hillary Clinton has always been to Obama’s left on economics.
At a dramatic weekend rally on Roosevelt Island, Hillary Clinton unleashed a speech that was in some ways strikingly liberal, especially for a candidate who’s not facing meaningful opposition in the Democratic Primary. Politico’s Glenn Thrush says it shows that “the Democratic Party is moving left fast” and Clinton knows it, which is why she uncorked “economic-inequality rhetoric could have been comfortably uttered by the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Joseph Stiglitz, Bernie Sanders, or Martin O’Malley.”
The truth, however, is that on the kind of pocketbook issues that Clinton spent most of yesterday’s speech discussing, she’s alwaysbeen on the left wing of the Democratic Party. She’s been in the public eye far too long to have avoided inconsistencies over the years. But in positional terms, somewhat to the left of Obama — or Bill Clinton — on economics is where she’s been this whole time.
Yglesias goes into plenty of detail on Hillary’s record. Good piece!
The Washington Post: Hillary Clinton won the weekend on social media.
According to an analysis by Zignal Labs, The Washington Post’s campaign analytics partner, 59 percent of all 2016 chatter during the weekend was about her. That means three out of every five stories or posts written about any presidential contender mentioned the former secretary of State. By comparison, the week prior, she commanded just 20 percent.
A June 11 post from Peter Daou and Tom Watson at their new site #HillaryMen: A Woman Leading America – If Not Now, When?
Our premise is that Hillary’s inclusive vision, unwavering commitment to public service, progressive policies and unparalleled experience make her one of the best (and best qualified) candidates ever to seek the presidency. If Hillarycannot become the first woman in history to cross the presidential finish line, who can? If not now, when? When will we show our daughters that a woman can be president?
Viewing the 2016 election through an explicit gender lens, the ferocious attacks against Hillary are not just about her, but underscore the deeply ingrained resistance to any woman with a viable path to the White House. Does anyone believe that another female candidate could get within reach of the presidency without running headlong into the same double standard and institutional resistance confronting Hillary?
Spotlighting the gender aspect of the 2016 race does not mean we discount the centrality of issues and competing ideologies or the complex information processing that leads voters to choose a candidate. Nor is it our intention to make specific accusations of gender bias. We are simply acknowledging the political, social and cultural barriers that have resulted in a complete shut out in national U.S. politics, at 44-0. In nearly a quarter millennium, not a single woman has occupied our nation’s highest office.
This is going to be a great site to read for inspiration during the upcoming campaign. Thanks to Beata for posting about it in the comments on Saturday.
War is hell.
We all know that…so take a look at some Zippo lighters from hell as you peruse this link dump of massive proportions.
(I am talking a whole heap-a-dump-a-links because I found a lot of “stuff” to wade through this morning and I couldn’t help myself.)
That being said, here is where the images of the lighters can be found, along with a bit of information and history:
And with this Vietnam War connection, a story:
We follow a Vietnam war baby as she searches for her roots and finds instead a new generation of Vietnamese orphans.
Okay, on with the links:
Update on the Amtrak train wreck investigation, including the GOPs typical response when the shit hits the fan…cut spending even more.
Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian does not appear to have been using his cellphone during last month’s deadly Amtrak crash outside of Philadelphia. The latest investigation from the National Transportation Safety Board also shows he “did not access the train’s Wi-Fi system while he was operating the locomotive.” Bostian has not remembered anything that happened during the crash. His lawyer has said that all the engineer recalls is “coming to, finding his bag, getting his cellphone and dialing 911.”
Amtrak said on Wednesday that it has won government approval to test a new rail safety system between New York and Washington that federal inspectors say would have prevented the deadly May 12 derailment in Philadelphia.
But the Federal Communications Commission warned that the system, which relies on radio transmissions between trains and track sensors, could face “harmful interference” from rival freight railroad systems along another busy track between Boston and New Haven, Connecticut.
The statements were contained in separate pieces of written testimony submitted by Amtrak and the FCC to the Senate Commerce Committee ahead of a hearing on positive train control, or PTC, a new safety system that railroads are required to implement before Dec. 31.
The National Transportation Safety Board says the technology would have prevented last month’s accident, which occurred when an Amtrak train derailed on a bend while traveling at more than twice the 50 mile-per-hour (80 km-per-hour) speed limit. Eight people died and more than 200 others were injured.
But the passenger rail operator said it could have to terminate its Southwest Chief service between Chicago and Los Angeles, and its Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City, because a dispute over $30 million in PTC implementation costs with freight railroads for track in the U.S. Midwest.
“Amtrak can test all of its wayside base stations from DC to New York at their full designated power to be sure they communication appropriately,” D.J. Stadtler, vice president of Amtrak operations, said in written testimony.
“Once that testing demonstrates that our system setting are appropriate, we can go into full operation on all equipped trains on the NEC.”
It is not a fix by any measures, there are still problems because the railways in the Northeast are using two radio frequencies. According to Charles Mathias, associate chief of the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau,
Amtrak and freight railroads are deploying two different PTC systems that are not compatible. On May 29, he said, the railroads told FCC staff that the use of the two PTC systems would result in “harmful interference” between Boston and New Haven.
“This could degrade or disable communications on both systems, causing either both to function improperly or stop functioning altogether,” Mathias said in written testimony.
Now then, take all that in because…here comes the fuck you from GOP Congress: Republican-Controlled House Passes Bill To Cut $242 Million From Amtrak’s Budget
The GOP-controlled House passed legislation Tuesday to cut Amtrak’s budget by $242 million, though lawmakers added new funding for video cameras inside locomotive cabs to record engineers and help investigators get to the bottom of crashes such as last month’s deadly derailment in Philadelphia.
Amtrak announced last month it is going to install the cameras after years of delays. The transportation and housing measure approved by a narrow 216-210 vote contains $9 million approved last week to fund the inward-facing camera initiative in the budget year starting in October.
Amtrak is among many domestic programs whose budgets are cut or frozen by the GOP measures, as automatic spending curbs known as sequestration are again hitting federal agencies after two years of relief. Previous House GOP attempts to cut Amtrak over the years have been reversed, and Tuesday’s transportation measure is but an opening move in a longer chess match with the White House over spending levels for agency operating budgets passed annually by Congress.
New data provided to Congress shows that Amtrak’s long-distances routes are losing more money, however, while the busy, profit-making Northeast corridor route is making growing profits. Money-losing routes such as the Sunset Limited, which runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles at a subsidy of more than $400 a ticket, account for losses of more than $600 million, while the Northeast corridor is expected to contribute a $357 million profit this year.
There is more at the link, I just thought that tidbit about the Northeast making the money for Amtrak was interesting. Considering that is where the safety issues are in the most dire need of attention…
This has nothing to do with the train crash but it is about a plane crash that gives me chills:
A military plane crash in Spain was probably caused by computer files being accidentally wiped from three of its engines, according to investigators.
Plane-maker Airbus discovered anomalies in the A400M’s data logs after the crash, suggesting a software fault.
And it has now emerged that Spanish investigators suspect files needed to interpret its engine readings had been deleted by mistake.
This would have caused the affected propellers to spin too slowly.
The aeroplane crashed near Seville, during a test flight on 9 May, killing four crew members on board.
Several countries that had already accepted deliveries of the plane – including the UK – grounded them following the accident.
The latest revelations about the investigation were first reported by the Reuters news agency.
It said the focus of the inquiry was a theory that files known as “torque calibration parameters” had been accidentally deleted during a software installation process ahead of the plane’s first flight.
A source later confirmed this to the BBC.
The control systems of the A400M aircraft are heavily automated.
Each engine is run by a separate computer called an Electronic Control Unit.
The ECUs take the pilot’s inputs and make the engines they control respond in the optimum way.
Without the files, the ECUs cannot make sense of this data.
This would explain why three of the plane’s four engines did not respond properly to the crew’s attempts to adjust their power settings shortly after lift-off.
Airbus has already confirmed that its pilots had tried switching the malfunctioning engines into “flight idle” mode – their lowest power setting – in an attempt to tackle the problem.
Without the parameter files, the engines would have been left stuck in this mode.
It was not foreseen that three propellers would be affected simultaneously, making it impossible to keep the plane airborne.
“We are working closely with the official investigation, and we will act in accordance with the information that is discovered but are not able to discuss the findings,” a spokesman for Airbus told the BBC.
Spain’s Ministry of Defence, which is leading the investigation, has said it is not permitted to discuss the matter.
That is frightening, fucking horrifying.
So you have one instance where old-ass technology causing lack of communication is killing people riding in trains…and in one, an example of aviation computer tech mode that can cause a crash because it keeps the pilots from being able to be, well…pilots.
Next up, Women….Abortion….Soccer:
I am just giving the links on these, because y’all already know what I have to say on this.
After reading the story on this Georgia woman, take a look at this story in North Carolina…I wonder if this woman will be charged with Murder?
The pregnant North Carolina woman who vanished on the day of her C-section appointment is no longer expecting, her family said Tuesday.
Carrie Bradshaw-Crowther, 49, turned up Monday afternoon in Boone, a town in the Blue Ridge Mountains roughly 90 miles from her Salisbury home, nearly a week after she went missing.
9) Should Federal Concessions Be Made To Female Youths In Their Seasonal ”War On Dress Code?”
Public school dress codes may appear irrelevant to politicians in Washington, but San Mateo High School Senior Chloe Cross’s senior quote has attracted widespread media attention for good reason. In districts across the country, formal dress code statements assert that female students must avoid certain fashions to not distract their male peers and adversely affect their abilities to learn. However trivial public school dress codes may seem in the adult world, if a vast majority of female students feel that their male peers’ educational experiences are prioritized above their own, it’s in the interest of American politicians to address the issue.
This next article is good, just take a look: Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Get A Fucking Neck Tattoo
It relates to all these links on women, I promise.
And a quick recall: What the fuck? Did Jim Bob Duggar admit that fundamentalist families have a sibling molestation problem?
Okay, some links on Caitlyn…about the Transgender thing in the real world:
Just a clip?
Most of us don’t have millions of dollars thanks to a long-running show. Nor do most of us get paid to film a series about our transition or to appear on the cover of a magazine. Caitlyn’s transition is paid-for, and even if no one else will hire her, she’s not in any danger of poverty.
I think that’s why we’re eager to celebrate her. She’s the equivalent of the fluffy gay friend character: all the diversity without any of the issues. She doesn’t make us talk about poverty or hate crimes (a trans person is murdered roughly every 12 days) or not being seen the way she wants.
Which goes to the second reason we’re so excited for her: She fits the ideal of what a woman in our society “should” look like: white, slim, coquettish, glamourous, and doesn’t “looking like a man.”. As Laverne Cox pointed out this week, not all of us will ever look like that. Not all of us can, and not all of us want to. Sure, in my dream body I’d be 6′ tall with a 6 pack and a great jawline, but no amount of hormones will ever let me look like that. I suspect many cisgender people have felt the same. It’s a problem for everyone, but it’s even worse for trans people because we not only have to justify our worth as people by our conventional attractiveness, but justify that we are worthy of being called the name and pronoun we choose based on antiquated standards.
What Makes a Woman Is Less Important Than What Makes a Feminist– Cosmopolitan Magazine
And one last link on women: President Lindsey Graham Doesn’t Need First Lady, Hos Can Just Take Turns | Wonkette
Confirmed bachelor and official ladies’ man Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is under the impression he is running for president, got asked a real tough question Tuesday: Hey, since you don’t have a pretty, doting wife, who will be the First Lady of America when you are president? Graham’s answer was very bad! No for serious, this is what he said, to the Daily Mail:
‘Well, I’ve got a sister, she could play that role if necessary.’
Chuckling, he added: ‘I’ve got a lot of friends. We’ll have a rotating first lady.’
LINE STARTS HERE, at Graham’s svelte buttocks. Does each lady (excluding his sister, GROSS) get to experience the hot presidential lovin’ we are certain will be the hallmark of the Graham White House? MAYBE!
Clearly, this should be a game show, we hope the producers of “So You Think You Can Dance Like A Fifth Grade Idol” are paying attention! It could be called “So You Think You Can Be One Of President Graham’s
The next few links are on the Texas Pool Party:
Watching a young black woman, vulnerable and almost naked in her bathing suit, being manhandled by a cop made me cry
I have one thing for this cop, he needs to take this quiz:
Two final links for you:
President Obama, who claimed when he first entered the White House to have mostly kicked his nicotine habit, may have been caught on camera holding a pack of cigarettes.
The Commander-in-Chief is seen clutching a white object in a snapshot with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi posted Sunday on Instagram by Renzi’s spokesman.
Obama and Renzi were both In Germany attending the G7 summit.
Several social media users questioned whether Obama was holding cigarettes in the pic, with one writing, “Smoking?”
The White House did not immediately respond to ITK’s request for comment on the photo and the last time President Obama had had a cigarette.
It’s not the first time Obama’s claims of being mostly nicotine-free have been questioned.
In November, ITK broke the story that Obama invited Billy Joel to have a smoke at the White House with him.
According to a source who spoke with Joel, Obama said to the “Piano Man” singer during his 2013 visit there, “I’m going out on the North Portico to have a smoke. Do you want to come with me?”
Obama said in 2009 that he “constantly” struggles with cigarettes.
“Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes. Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No,” he said at the news conference.
Who the fuck cares!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Next thing these people will have going is that it is a packet of Kools…
These links should hold you for a while.
Have a great Wednesday!
The Supreme Court is in the news today, as its current session approaches its end.
The two most consequential decisions to be announced will have serious implications for the health care system and settle the question of same sex couples should have equal rights to marry and have the same benefits of marriage as heterosexual couples. Some other important decisions have already been announced.
The Obamacare case is the one making news today, after President Obama spoke publicly about the upcoming decision on the Affordable Care Act yesterday at the G7 Conference in Germany.
Politico reports, Obama: Supreme Court shouldn’t have heard Obamacare challenge.
President Barack Obama expressed deep frustration with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, questioning why justices even took up a case that imperils his signature health insurance reform plan.
The high court is set to issue a decision on the case, known as King v. Burwell, by the end of the month. A ruling against the government would mean that 6.4 million people in the 34 states relying on the federal Healthcare.gov website would be at risk of losing subsidies that make their insurance affordable.
“This should be an easy case. Frankly, it probably shouldn’t even have been taken up,” Obama said at a news conference after the G-7 summit in Krun, Germany. “Since we’re going to get a ruling pretty quick, I think it’s important to assume that the Supreme Court’s going to do what legal scholars would expect them to do.”
Obama repeated the administration’s contention that there’s no contingency plan or fix to keep insurance markets from going into a tailspin, predicting that the justices would decide in his favor. And in any case, he added, Congress could fix the ambiguous phrasing of the health law “with a one-sentence provision.”
But Republicans made it clear that they aren’t going to allow an easy fix. From Bloomberg, GOP Swiftly Rejects Obama’s ‘One-Sentence Fix’ to Obamacare If Supreme Court Voids Subsidies.
“Let’s be clear: if the Supreme Court rules against the Administration, Congress will not pass a so called ‘one-sentence’ fake fix,” Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, who is leading Republican efforts to craft a contingency plan, said in a statement.
At issue is whether a handful of words in the Affordable Care Act mean the government cannot provide insurance tax credits for millions of Americans in 34 states enrolled through HealthCare.gov, rather than a state exchange. Without the subsidies, insurance will become unaffordable to many and premiums are almost certain to skyrocket across the board. Even so, Barrasso and his fellow Republicans say Obama acted illegally by doling out the subsidies. A victory in the case King v. Burwell would probably create chaos, and ironically put Republicans on the hook for resolving it.
In his statement, Barrasso accused Obama of “bullying the Supreme Court” and said the Republican-led Congress is “prepared to help” Americans who may be harmed.
But is it? Republicans have struggled to coalesce around a contingency plan if the ruling goes their way. A victory could backfire on the GOP without a viable response, as Democrats would be armed with attack ads accusing them of pushing for a ruling that threw millions of Americans off their health care plans without a plan to help them.
Even a simple fix is dangerous for Republicans. Conservative lawmakers in the House worry that a such a move to clarify that the subsidies are available in all 50 states would be attacked by their base as a vote for Obamacare.
According to The Hill, Republicans fear they will win ObamaCare court battle.
Republicans in Congress are worried the Supreme Court will hand them a major headache this month if it rules against the federal health insurance exchanges in more than 30 states, ending subsidies for millions of people.
While the Affordable Care Act remains broadly unpopular, two new polls show a majority of Americans don’t want to do away with its subsidies, a core component of the law.
This poses a conundrum for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). They are under pressure from colleagues up for reelection in swing states and districts to extend the subsidies, at least temporarily, if the court strikes them down. But doing so would risk a backlash from the conservative base.
The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision in King v. Burwell, which could strip 6.4 million people of health insurance subsidies, in late June.
States that would be hardest hit by a ruling against the law include the Senate battlegrounds of Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Greg Sargent at Morning Plum: In battleground states, voters don’t want Supreme Court to gut subsidies.
As your humble blogger has tirelessly reiterated, the states with the highest numbers of people who stand to lose subsidies if the Supreme Court guts them also happen to be the main presidential and Senate battleground states. That overlap could increase the political stakes in the battle that will follow any Court ruling against the ACA.
Now a new Washington Post poll confirms the stakes here. It finds that in many key battleground states, a majority says the Court should not end subsidies for those on the federal exchange.
The Post poll finds that among Americans overall, 55 percent oppose a Court decision killing the subsidies, while only 38 percent support it. Independents oppose such a decision by 57-36, while Republicans are alone in supporting a decision against the ACA by 55-34.
Among the states in which the largest numbers of people may lose subsidiesare Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Ohio. Those are key presidential battlegrounds, and Republicans are defending Senate seats in five of them.
The upcoming marriage equality decision could also backfire on Republicans:
The Supreme Court may be just weeks away from declaring a nationwide right to same-sex marriage with a ruling likely to trigger public opposition — and private sighs of relief — from most Republican presidential hopefuls.
Why relief? The marriage issue increasingly has become a trap for Republicans, and a Supreme Court decision that takes the matter out of the political process would provide the easiest exit. The court is expected to rule this month on whether the Constitution protects marriage rights for gay couples.
A new poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center highlights Republicans’ predicament. By 57% to 39%, Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. But among Republicans, only about one-third agree.
Moreover, among those who describe themselves as conservative Republicans, 40% say the issue is “very important” to them, and they overwhelmingly oppose marriage rights for gay couples.
Overall, the poll found, opponents of same-sex marriage are more likely than supporters to describe the issue as “very important.” In part, that may be because about two-thirds of white, evangelical Protestants, who make up a large share of the opposition, say there is “a lot” of conflict between homosexuality and their religious beliefs.
Recently announced SCOTUS decisions:
Yesterday the Supreme Court decided that U.S. citizens who were born in Jerusalem cannot list their birthplace as Israel on their U.S. Passports. Richard Wolfe at USA Today:
The Supreme Court declined Monday to insert itself into the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by second-guessing U.S. policy on Jerusalem.
Ruling just a few months after a feud between President Obama and Israeli Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahu, the justices refused to allow Americans born in Jerusalem to have their passports changed to reflect Israel as their birthplace, as Congress demanded more than a decade ago.
In denying the challenge waged by the Jewish parents of a 12-year-old almost since his birth in 2002, a majority of justices heeded the State Department’s warning that a simple passport alteration could “provoke uproar throughout the Arab and Muslim world.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the 6-3 decision for the court, which needed more than seven months following oral arguments in early November to decide the congressional law was unconstitutional. It was the longest-pending high court decision.
“The power to recognize or decline to recognize a foreign state and its territorial bounds resides in the president alone,” Kennedy said, citing examples from the French Revolution in 1793 to President Jimmy Carter’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China in 1979.
Lyle Denniston has a detailed analysis of this decision at SCOTUSblog.
In another interesting decision, the Court let stand a San Francisco gun control law. NPR reports, Supreme Court Rejects NRA Challenge To San Francisco Gun Rules.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to block two San Francisco gun control measures that were fiercely opposed by the National Rifle Association. At least one veteran court observer says the high court’s decision raises questions about how the justices interpret the Second Amendment.
First, the basics: A 2007 San Francisco ordinance requires residents to keep handguns under lock and key or to use trigger locks when they are not carrying their weapons. Another law, dating to 1994, bans the sale of ammunition that expands on impact, or hollow-point bullets.
Plaintiff Espanola Jackson and seven other petitioners, including the NRA, filed suit in 2012. They sought an injunction to keep the lockbox law from being enforced. But in March 2014, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the City and County of San Francisco and left both measures intact.
Read more at the link.
Finally a new CNN poll shows that Americans don’t trust the current Supreme Court on “key issues.”
With major Supreme Court decisions on health care and same-sex marriage expected this month, many lack trust in the Supreme Court’s handling of those two issues, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.
Yet most approve of the way the court is handling its job generally.
A majority, 52%, say they approve of the way the court is handling its job, while 41% disapprove. That’s an improvement from an even 48% to 48% split two years ago. Still, when Americans are asked how much they trust the court on a range of issues it will be considering this term or the next, the worst ratings come on health care and same-sex marriage. Only about half say they have at least a moderate amount of trust in the court on health care (50%) or same-sex marriage (49%). There is more faith in the Supreme Court on other key issues on the docket, with most saying they trust the court at least a moderate amount on freedom of speech (69%), voting rights (65%) and the death penalty (60%).
Read the rest at CNN.
What else is happening? As always, this is an open thread, so please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comments.
I could not bear to write a post today. So just take this one for what it is, my overzealous attempt to find a few Medieval images for the thread that reminded me of the GOP idiots who are running or announcing that they are running for Prez…in 2016. I was looking and next thing I know it is four am…go figure.
So, I decided to post the illuminations, manuscripts, marginalia, bestiary, cheeky monkeys and the like with my own various commentary. Most of which will call back to the clowns that Boston Boomer and Dakinikat have been talking about lately. The images below are found here:
and here: Pinterest: Getting Medieval On Your Ass
So the captions within the slide show are just my observations. Click on the links above for the information on the links.
Just a few that are beyond the scope of the political references that are the theme of the post today.
This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode with the marbled rye…“Seinfeld” The Rye (TV Episode 1996) – IMDb it airs tomorrow by the way on TBS.
The next image is also from a Seinfeld episode.
Little Jerry was born to cock fight! “Seinfeld” The Little Jerry (TV Episode 1997) – IMDb
Okay, now for the slide show…click on the first picture below, it should open up to the larger gallery slide show….if you cannot read the full caption under the image, use the down arrow on your keyboard, it should work to move the text so you can read the entire entry.
This is an open thread.
Nepal has been rocked by 7.3 magnitude earthquake only a few weeks after the last one. From The LA Times:
Still reeling from last month’s devastating earthquake, Nepal was hammered again Tuesday by a magnitude 7.3 temblor that caused dozens more deaths, unleashed fresh landslides and brought down unsteady buildings.
By late afternoon, Nepal’s Home Affairs Ministry said at least 42 people were killed and more than 1,117 injured in the largest aftershock yet recorded from the 7.8 quake on April 25. Officials warned that the toll could rise.
The epicenter was about 47 miles northeast of the capital, Katmandu, near the Chinese border, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The April 25 quake, which killed more than 8,150 people, was centered in the mountains west of Katmandu.
The tremor struck just before 1 p.m. local time, sending residents of the capital scurrying into the open air for safety, and was followed by a series of smaller tremors that rattled nerves even further.
Within hours, new makeshift tents had begun popping up in parts of Katmandu as families that had survived the earlier quake and returned to their homes in recent days decided again they were safer sleeping outdoors.
The Hindu is publishing live updates from Reuters. They report multiple aftershocks. What a terrible tragedy! Obviously this is a developing story, and we’ll hear more throughout the day and in coming days.
I missed this important investigative article from the Baltimore Sun over the weekend: Freddie Gray among many suspects who do not get medical care from Baltimore police.
Records obtained by The Baltimore Sun show that city police often disregard or are oblivious to injuries and illnesses among people they apprehend — in fact, such cases occur by the thousands.
From June 2012 through April 2015, correctional officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center have refused to admit nearly 2,600 detainees who were in police custody, according to state records obtained through a Maryland Public Information Act request.
In those records, intake officers in Central Booking noted a wide variety of injuries, including fractured bones, facial trauma and hypertension. Of the detainees denied entry, 123 had visible head injuries, the third most common medical problem cited by jail officials, records show.
The jail records redacted the names of detainees, but a Sun investigation found similar problems among Baltimore residents and others who have made allegations of police brutality.e
Salahudeen Abdul-Aziz, who was awarded $170,000 by a jury in 2011, testified that he was arrested and transported to the Western District after being beaten by police and left with a broken nose, facial fracture and other injuries. Hours later, he went to Central Booking and then to Bon Secours Hospital, according to court records.
Abdul-Aziz said last week that jailers at Central Booking “wouldn’t let me in the door as soon as they saw my face. … I thought I was gonna die that day. Freddie Gray wasn’t so lucky.”
Read the rest at the Baltimore Sun link.
The Washington Post, which initially published leaks favorable to the Baltimore PD, published an editorial in response the the Sun article: Too much black and blue in Baltimore.
TWO OR three times a day on average, suspects in the custody of the Baltimore police are turned away by the city jail because they are deemed too battered, beaten, bruised or otherwise injured or sick to be processed and admitted. The police are forced to head instead for a hospital emergency room to seek treatment for suspects suffering from head injuries, broken bones, hypertension and an array of other afflictions.
The frequency of such occurrences was detailed over the weekend by the Baltimore Sun, which obtained records from the city’s detention center under the Maryland Public Information Act. According to those records, the jail has turned away nearly 2,600 ailing detainees since June 2012 — about 2 percent of all bookings.
That staggering figure suggests the Baltimore police are heedless, at best, of the physical welfare of suspects in their custody. It also may help explain how Freddie Gray could have pleaded for medical care at least five times after he was arrested last month before the officers who detained him bothered to summon a paramedic — by which time it was too late….
The police understand — and after 2,600 reaffirmations in three years, they should be acutely aware — that they are obliged to seek medical attention for suspects who are sick or injured before the jail will admit them. Yet somehow that obligation doesn’t seem institutionally ingrained in cops on the beat….
The Justice Department’s civil rights investigation of the city police, announced last week by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, should take account of these injured detainees, including the causes and circumstances of their injuries and whether police are adequately trained and instructed in assessing them. And it should examine whether African American suspects are more frequently hurt and denied prompt medical care than other detainees.
Journalists are still reacting to Seymour Hersh’s poorly sourced accusations that the Obama administration conspired with Pakistan to stage a fake raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound and then lied about it. Here are two I found this morning:
Lawfare: Hersh’s Account of the Bin Laden Raid is Journalistic Malpractice, by Yishai Schwartz
When a journalist writes a tell-all story about a classified operation, and he suspects the story will catalyze anti-American anger, provide fuel for terrorist groups, and cause severe friction with foreign governments, the act of publication is morally fraught. When the story is based on obscenely thin sourcing and careens into conspiracy theories, the decision to publish becomes indefensible.
Seymour Hersh has had a long and distinguished history as one of America’s finest investigative journalists. In recent years, he has gone a bit kooky. In 2011, for instance, he suggested that Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan, and the leadership of the US Joint Special Operations Forces were “all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.” His latest story, in which he claims that the entire story of Bin Laden’s killing is an elaborate cover-up for a joint Pakistani-American operation, may be his kookiest.
As many have already pointed out, Hersh’s version offers a combination of the inconsistent and the inexplicable. Why, for instance, would the Pakistanis help plan an elaborate raid, complete with a recall of Bin Laden’s Pakistani guards—rather than just hand Bin Laden over directly—if they always intended to claim he’d been killed in a drone strike hundreds of miles away? Worse, the key contentions rely on the exclusive word of one unnamed source who was a) retired, and b) on Hersh’s own account, only “knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad.”
To be sure, there are scraps of Hersh’s hodgepodge narrative that may turn out to be true. That a CIA “walk-in” may have contributed to the intel leading to Bin Laden’s whereabouts, for instance, matches a tidbit that NBC has confirmed recently. And Hersh’s insistence that someone highly placed in the Pakistani intelligence services knew of Bin Laden’s presence has been pretty widely believed for a while. But leaping from these plausible and relatively minor details to the rest of the fantastic tale Hersh spins simply boggles the mind.
It’s unsurprising then that The New Yorker passed on the story (as it, along with the The Washington Post, have reportedly done with the last few of Hersh’s flights of fantasy.)
The London Review of Books, on the other hand, lacked the same degree of restraint. This is hardly surprising given the editorial leadership’s apparent lack of interest in fact-checking. As LRB senior editor Christian Lorentzen wrote in a 2012 piece suitably titled Short Cuts,” “the facts are the burden of the reporter…nobody at the paper fact-checks full time; that’s an American thing… I miss New York sometimes, but I don’t miss its schizophrenic obsession with facts, or the puritan hysteria that attends the discovery that a memoir should have been called a novel.” The LRB, it seems, takes pride in its sloppiness. Perhaps they have an editorial opening for Stephen Glass?
As a former fact-checker, I find the LRB’s approach part puzzling and part offensive. As a citizen who would like to form judgements and opinions on the basis of actual information, I’m horrified.
Wow! Read more at Lawfare Blog.
Politico: Sy Hersh, Lost in a Wilderness of Mirrors, by Jack Shafer.
Hersh leads the reader into a Wonderland of his own, thinly sourced retelling of the raid on Bin Laden’s complex in Abbottabad, Pakistan. According to Hersh, who cites American sources, “bin Laden had been a prisoner of the [Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency] at the Abbottabad compound since 2006” and his ISI captors eased the way for the American SEAL team to skip into Pakistan on their helicopters, kill the al Qaeda leader, and then skip out.
It’s a messy omelet of a piece that offers little of substance for readers or journalists who may want to verify its many claims. The Hersh piece can’t be refuted because there’s not enough solid material to refute. Like the government officials who spun the original flawed Abbottabad stories, he simply wants the reader to trust him.Hersh’s piece quarrels with almost every aspect of the official story, asserting that much of it is cover designed to protect the Pakistanis who sold bin Laden out to the United States for military aid….Hersh may very well be onto something—what did the Pakistanis know, when did they know it, and how much did they help? And that debate appears to be starting in earnest already, with NBC News quickly building off Hersh’s article. But Hersh’s potentially valid question on that subject is almost lost in the broad sweep of rolling back so many other stories and quibbling with effectively every known detail of one of the most thoroughly leaked secret operations in history.
By re-exploring the bin Laden operation, Hersh has thrust himself into the phenomenological territories that Cold War spymaster James Jesus Angleton called a “wilderness of mirrors.” In this clandestine world, truths are constructed, obliterated and bent to serve their masters. Adversaries who would deceive abound in this place, and without a reliable map, a compass, a sense of direction and maybe even a pedometer, even the most intrepid voyager (or journalist) can find himself lost. I’ll volunteer to join a search party for Hersh—somebody I’ve long admired—if only somebody can tell me precisely where he is.
Another harsh indictment. I expect “progressive” conspiracy theorists like Glenn Greenwald and Marcy Wheeler will attempt to keep this story alive, but it doesn’t seem to be getting much traction in either the mainstream media or the sane alternative media.
More interesting stories, links only:
At Politico, former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell recounts his Benghazi experiences: The Real Story of Benghazi. A CIA insider’s account of what happened on 9/11/12.
The Atlantic, American Religion: Complicated, Not Dead, by Emma Green.
Huffington Post, GOP Crowd Applauds Calling Immigrants Rats and Roaches, by Lauren Windsor.
What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday!
The 2016 primaries are nearly a year away, and yet it’s beginning to feel as if the campaign has already begun. As Pat J said yesterday, following Bette Davis, “fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!” At least we finally have something to be excited about.
Today big media has slowed down its attacks on Hillary in order to drool over newly announced candidate Marco Rubio.
Here’s the Washington Post’s adoring introduction to the new media darling, written by Mary Jordan.
You can see it in his bouncing leg, his restless energy, his rapid-fire answers. Marco Rubio wants things now, now, now.
He has just left the Senate floor, where he ripped President Obama’s Israel policy, and now, seated in his grand Capitol Hill office, he dives headlong into explaining why, at just 43, he is ready to run for president.
“I have never understood that ‘wait your turn,’ ” logic, the Florida Republican says. “The presidency is not like a bakery, where you take a number and wait for it to be called. You’re either compelled to run for it because you believe it’s the best place to serve your country” or you stay out of the race.
Never mind that his mentor, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, 62, is gearing up to run, too. Or that he has not even finished his first term as senator. Or that the GOP has a long tradition of picking older presidential nominees who have paid their dues.
Rubio is a man in a hurry, whose dizzying political ascent — he has never lost a race — is a testament to his quickness to spot openings and go for them. “If you told me seven or eight years ago I would be in the Senate, I wouldn’t believe it,” Rubio says. “Sometimes opportunities come up that you could never have anticipated.”
More Rubio love at the link. Be sure to have your barf bag close at hand.
Should Rubio actually get the GOP nod, voters will likely see a lot of this embarrassing video of the young “man in a hurry” giving the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address in 2013.
And here’s The New York Times’ glowing profile of the first term Senator, written by Ashley Parker and Jonathan Martin.
MIAMI — Senator Marco Rubio, the 43-year-old son of Cuban immigrants, on Monday declared that it was time for his generation to lead the country, portraying himself as the youthful future of a Republican Party that has struggled to connect with an increasingly diverse electorate.
Formally declaring his candidacy for president, Mr. Rubio entered a contest so far dominated by two aging American political dynasties — the Bushes and the Clintons — and warned Republicans and Democrats alike that it was time to start fresh.
“The time has come for our generation to lead the way towards a new American century,” he said.
“Before us now is the opportunity to author the greatest chapter yet in the amazing story of America,” Mr. Rubio told hundreds of supporters who crowded the lobby of the Freedom Tower, a historic building where many Cuban émigrés were processed on their arrival in the United States. “But we can’t do that by going back to the leaders and ideas of the past.”
Ironically, Rubio and his party actually do want to go back to the past–way back to the 19th Century. A Rubio presidency would mean rolling back women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigration reform, and handing Wall Street the keys to the White House. But never mind that. He’s a fresh face with surface charm.
It certainly sounds like Rubio has been studying then Senator Obama’s campaign for the presidency in 2008. But Rubio says he’s way more experienced than Obama was then.
Kasie Hunt writes at MSNBC:
MIAMI –Presidential candidate Marco Rubio says that he has more experience than President Barack Obama did when he won the White House in 2008, even though both launched presidential campaigns as first term senators.
“There are some significant differences between his biography and mine,” Rubio told msnbc in an interview early Tuesday morning before flying to Washington to attend a congressional hearing on Iran. “We both served in the state legislatures, he as a back-bencher in the minority, me as the Speaker of House in the third-largest state in the country.”
He pointed out he will have served six full years in the Senate if he’s elected in 2016; President Obama had served four years when he was elected in 2008.
Okay . . . . Not all that impressive though; and Obama was a hell of a lot more well known around the country in 2008 than Rubio is now. As Matthew Yglesias wrote at Vox yesterday, that’s really the problem with the entire GOP field–most normal Americans don’t know who they are. On the other hand it would be difficult to find an average vote who doesn’t know quite a bit about Hillary Clinton.
There were a few dissenting voices on Rubio at smaller media outlets. At The New Republic, Brian Beutler has a devastating piece on Rubio.
Senator Marco Rubio…was supposed to lead a GOP breakaway faction in support of comprehensive immigration reform, but was unable to persuade House Republicans to ignore the nativist right, and the whole thing blew up in his face. In regrouping, he’s determined that the key to restoring Republican viability in presidential elections is to woo middle class voters with fiscal policies that challenge conservative orthodoxy.
His new basic insight is correct. The GOP’s obsession with distributing resources up the income scale is the single biggest factor impeding it from reaching new constituencies, both because it reflects unpopular values and because it makes them unable to address emerging national needs that require spending money.
Well, we all know that isn’t going to become Republican policy, and Rubio has already demonstrated that he won’t stand up for policies the party leaders dislike.
If Rubio were both serious and talented enough to move his party away from its most inhibiting orthodoxy, in defiance of those donors, his candidacy would represent a watershed. His appeal to constituencies outside of the GOP base would be both sincere and persuasive.
But Rubio is not that politician. He is no likelier to succeed at persuading Republican supply-siders to reimagine their fiscal priorities than he was at persuading nativists to support a citizenship guarantee for unauthorized immigrants. In fact, nobody understands the obstacles facing Marco Rubio better than Marco Rubio. But rather than abandon his reformist pretensions, or advance them knowing he will ultimately lose, Rubio has chosen to claim the mantle of reform and surrender to the right simultaneously—to make promises to nontraditional voters he knows he can’t keep. My colleague Danny Vinik proposes that Rubio wants to “improve the lives of poor Americans” but he must “tailor [his] solutions to gain substantial support in the GOP, and those compromises would cause more harm to the poor.” I think this makes Rubio the most disingenuous candidate in the field.
More good insights at the link.
Here’s Jonathan Chait on Rubio:
The presidential election is still a year and a half away, but Rubio’s campaign has already gone through three distinct stages. In the immediate wake of their 2012 debacle, Republican elites glommed onto Rubio as the cure for their demographic disease. Days after the election, Republican Über-pundit Charles Krauthammerostentantiously laid his hands upon the young, telegenic senator as the party’s new avatar. “Marco Rubio. So hot right now,” tweeted John Boehner’s press secretary. By the end of 2013, Rubio had crashed and burned. A conservative revolt forced him to repudiate the immigration reform plan he had carefully built. He desperately glommed on to the anti-Obamacare shutdown, alienating party elites without winning over the activists. But now Rubio has rebuilt his campaign and is showing signs of life, by repositioning himself to the right and eliminating his vulnerabilities.
The first and most dramatic such move was Rubio’s renunciation of immigration reform. Having championed a bipartisan plan for comprehensive reform, Rubio now insists that border security must come first. Fervent restrictionists may not fully trust his sincerity, but Rubio’s maneuver follows almost exactly the same script of apostasy and penance than John McCain used in 2008 to neutralize the issue.
The bigger shift has come on economic policy. Last year, Rubio positioned himself as a “reform conservative” who aspired to aim tax cuts at middle-class families rather than the rich. Instead, when he unveiled the plan, it consisted of a massive, debt-financed tax cut that would give its greatest benefit to the rich, not just in absolute terms, but also as a percentage of their income. Even that plan proved to be too stingy for Republican plutocrats, so Rubio revised his plan to make it far friendlier to the rich. The newest version took his old plan and added complete elimination of all taxes on inherited estates, capital gains, and interest income. Grover Norquist, guardian of the party’s anti-tax absolutism, cooed his approval.
Rubio might be a bigger flip-flopper than Mitt Romney. But of course the corporate media fails to notice anything except the surface.
Fortunately for Rubio, much of the political media has covered his ideas as though they represent an important break from his party’s past. “Rubio appears to be hoping his plan will appeal to Republican voters concerned about rising economic inequality and tired of getting beaten up in the general election over plans that Democrats say would hand massive tax cuts to the rich at the expense of the middle class,” reports Politico.
This is not remotely accurate. Rubio’s original plan would have cut taxes by $2.4 trillion over a decade, making it quite similar to George W. Bush’s regressive, debt-financed tax-cut plan. It is true that Rubio would only cut the top tax rate to 35 percent, not as low as the fondest supply-side dreams would have it. But 35 percent would restore the Bush-era tax rate for the highest income earners. What’s more, Rubio’s elimination of the estate, interest, dividends, and capital gains taxes would go far beyond the Bush administration’s most plutocratic dreams. It is also true that Rubio plans to cut taxes for some middle-class families. But obviously that lost revenue has trade-offs, which he has failed to specify. The massive revenue hit would require very large cuts to existing programs. Given his party’s propensity to aim the bulk of its tax-cutting at the programs that direct their biggest benefits to Americans of modest incomes, there is no plausible way to imagine Rubio’s plan would do anything but engineer a massive upward redistribution of resources.
Read the rest at New York Magazine.
Here’s Chait on Hillary Clinton: Why Hillary Clinton Is Probably Going to Win the 2016 Election.
Unless the economy goes into a recession over the next year and a half, Hillary Clinton is probably going to win the presidential election. The United States has polarized into stable voting blocs, and the Democratic bloc is a bit larger and growing at a faster rate.
Of course, not everybody who follows politics professionally believes this. Many pundits feel the Democrats’ advantage in presidential elections has disappeared, or never existed. “The 2016 campaign is starting on level ground,” argues David Brooks, echoing a similar analysis by John Judis. But the evidence for this is quite slim, and a closer look suggests instead that something serious would have to change in order to prevent a Clinton victory. Here are the basic reasons why Clinton should be considered a presumptive favorite…
Check out Chait’s reasoning at the link.
So . . . What else is happening? Please posts your thoughts on this post and your links to recommended reads in the comment thread.