As Paul Krugman points out, conservative doomsaying about the impact of California’s Proposition 30 has turned out to be wildly off-base. By Ed Kilgore
Another primary-less Tuesday tomorrow, but things will heat up against next week with six contests.
Here are some remains of the day:
* Sen. John Walsh’s current line of defense on plagiarism charge is that he just did it once.
* In other plagiarism news, Dave Weigel has the elaborate backstory of the BuzzFeed scandal that got Benny Johnson fired.
* Nate Cohn finds no signs of a 2014 Republican “wave” in the generic congressional ballot numbers.
* At Ten Miles Square, Mark Kleiman expresses frustration at the lack of interest in the question of how rather than whether pot should be legalized.
* At College Guide, Jill Barshay argues that over-estimation of poverty among U.S. students disguises systemic educational failures.
* Fourth Circuit affirms district court ruling striking down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban.
And in non-political news:
* Red Lobster tries to go upmarket by cutting down on deals. No more Shrimp Fest?
That’s it for Monday. We’ll close with Mike Bloomfield performing “Long Distance” with Muddy Waters in 1974.
Now that it is clear the high tide of Republican interest in comprehensive immigration reform occurred early in 2013 and has receded to a point far beyond the disastrous “self-deportation” stance of Mitt Romney in 2012, GOPers are naturally casting about for a Plan B or C or D for appealing to Latino voters, while telling themselves immigration policy ain’t all that. There’s a good overview of emerging “alternative” options by Josh Kraushaar at National Journal. He personally favors Marco Rubio’s formula of “middle-class economic issues,” which is sorta what used to be called an “aspirational” agenda, or in the GOP lexicon, “compassionate conservatism.” And he mentions as less attractive approaches the efforts by Paul Ryan and Rand Paul to come up with something constructive to say to and about poor people and the vast number of non-violent offenders locked up in prisons.
Now if Republicans decide to retreat from atavistic social and economic policies because they are under the impression that it will save them from the demographic consequences of their alienation of minority voters, that’s fine with me. But Kraushaar’s protesteth-too-much claims that Latinos don’t really care that much about immigration policy is a bit laughable. Here’s a contrary argument heard not so long ago from one group of Republicans:
If Hispanic Americans perceive that [a] GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.
Those were the words of the Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project report, released in March of 2013.
I didn’t bother to read John Boehner’s USAToday op-ed on his lawsuit against the president. But Brother Benen did, and via him we learn that in the mixed salted assortment of complaints about Obama abusing his authority appears the Great Lie of the 2012 presidential campaign:
And then there’s the claim that President Obama “waived the work requirement in welfare.” This is a lie, and if Boehner doesn’t know that, the Speaker owes the public an explanation for how he can be so uninformed.
We last covered this in March, when former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) alluded to the same falsehood, but in case anyone’s forgotten, let’s quickly review reality.
In the president’s first term, a bipartisan group of governors asked the Obama administration for some flexibility on the existing welfare law, transitioning beneficiaries from welfare to work. The White House agreed to give the states some leeway - so long as the work requirement wasn’t weakened.
That’s not “waiving the work requirements in welfare”; that’s the opposite. Providing governors, including several Republicans, the flexibility they requested to help move beneficiaries back into the workforce is exactly the sort of power-to-the-states policy that Boehner and his cohorts usually like.
But in 2012, the policy inspired Mitt Romney and GOP leaders to turn this into a rather shameless lie, accusing Obama of weakening welfare work requirements. The more fact-checkers went berserk, the more aggressive Romney became in pushing the lie. One can only speculate as to the rationale behind the ugly falsehood, though the Republican presidential campaign seemed quite eager at the time to use the words “Obama” and “welfare” in the same sentence, even after the GOP candidate and his team realized they were lying.
As one of the people who went “berserk” in 2012 over this crap (which for me was especially outrageous having followed and even contributed to the 1994-1996 debate over welfare reform very closely), I’m only half-amazed that Boehner has resurrected it. On the one hand, he’s not in the middle of a tense presidential contest where fanning the flames of the old race-laden welfare debate probably seemed shrewd. But on the other hand, this is an example of how lies that aren’t completely demolished tend to become “facts” to those who repeat them often enough.
In this as in other respects, Boehner is shameless, as in the sense someone who is incapable of shame.
I’ll go with Paul Waldman’s announcement of the news we are about to see a “fix” bill for the V.A. health care system fly down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House:
House and Senate negotiators will be announcing today that they have reached a compromise bill, one that is likely to pass and President Obama will certainly sign. This is very good news, but it’s the exception that proves the rule on congressional inaction. The fact that it’s this hard to get a piece of reform legislation that should have been able to be accomplished in a couple of days shows just how impossible the GOP has made governing.
Take a look at what characterizes the VA issue. First, there was a dramatic and troubling scandal. Second, the scandal involved victims that everyone in both parties wants to be seen supporting. Third, the way to fix the problem, at least in the short term, was fairly obvious. Fourth, that solution involved at most some mild ideological discomfort for both parties, but nothing they couldn’t tolerate. Finally and most importantly, addressing the problem involved zero political cost to either party.
How often does an issue like that come around? Once or twice a decade? But that, apparently, is what’s required to actually pass meaningful legislation to get government functioning properly.
I’d add to Paul’s comments that the “fix” is spinnable by both sides in very different directions: Progressive Democrats will say the V.A. health system has been restored as a model of publicly-provided health care after a period of adjustment mostly caused by changes in eligibility, while Republicans will say the “fix” is a first step towards privatizing that same system (i.e., because veterans who cannot be served immediately or who live far from V.A. facilities will received subsidized private care).
But in any event, it’s very true this is a “blue moon” phenomenon, not some sort of bipartisan dawn breaking over the darkened Capitol.
So I had a tooth extracted this morning (which accounts for the very early pre-appointment posts), and I knew I was in Georgia because the dental assistant sternly admonished me not to eat anything that might interfere with healing, “like nuts or grits.” Glad I got two servings of cheese grits in yesterday.
Here are some dentist-approved midday snacks:
* Medicare trustees now estimate Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will remain solvent until 2030—four years longer than previously estimated—thanks to effects of ACA.
* Getting out the Dick Morris playbook, NRCC chair Greg Walden predicts a Republican “wave” in November.
* Can’t really blame a number of progressive sites (though not this one!) for biting on fake story that Michele Bachmann was calling for “Americanization camps” for undocumented immigrant children.
* TNR’s Danny Vinik notices House action to eliminate “marriage penalty” for child tax credit actually amounts to a regressive tax cut.
* At the Atlantic, James Fallows looks at the much-maligned California High-Speed Rail project from the perspective of the economically distressed Central Valley.
And in non-political news:
* Colorado Rockies hand out 15,000 jerseys commemorating shortstop Troy Tulowitzki—and mispelling his name.
As we break for lunch, here’s Mike Bloomfield performing “Stop!” with Al Kooper.
I wrote earlier today that the bad image of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce among conservative activists might have been a significant factor in the defeat of Georgia Senate candidate Jack Kingston, whom the Chamber backed heavily after earlier being at the center of the Thad Cochran Conspiracy in Mississippi. If this report via the New York Times’ Joe Nocera is accurate, wingnut hatred of the Chamber will know no bounds:
At the most recent Committee of 100 [the heads of trade associations and regional Chamber groups] meeting, Rob Engstrom, the chamber’s national political director, told the group that the chamber planned to support Mary Landrieu, the Louisiana Democrat who is running for re-election to the Senate.
TPM’s Daniel Strauss got a non-committal answer from the Chamber when he followed up on this report. If the group hasn’t actually made a commitment to Landrieu, I’m sure the sun, moon and stars will immediately fall on it from Republicans infuriated at this potential “betrayal.” Though the Chamber has long backed “pro-business” Democrats (including Landrieu), that hasn’t much happened since Tom Donahue decided to go all-in with the GOP heading into the 2010 cycle.
It would be highly ironic if the Chamber does support Landrieu and her race winds up deciding control of the Senate (either in November or in a December runoff). Either way it went, the mighty business lobby would look a mite foolish.
So if you believe gabbers like Laura Ingraham were significantly responsible for the shocking defeat of Eric Cantor, it’s worth noting she’s drawn a bead on Sen. Lamar Alexander, generally thought to be drifting towards an easy August 7 primary win over state representative Joe Carr, a Tea Party favorite. Here’s a report from RealClearPolitics’ Toby Harndon on Ingraham’s activities in Tennessee:
At a raucous campaign event in Nashville last week, Ingraham accused President Barack Obama of “fomenting a crisis at our border that seeks to undermine the very fabric of American rule of law, our sovereignty, our national identity”.
Her most withering contempt was aimed at her own party’s establishment — the “good old boys” and “go along to get along Republican politicians doing backroom backslapping” with Democrats, being as effective as “beige wallpaper”.
Ingraham has already claimed the scalp of Representative Eric Cantor, the third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives, by headlining a massive rally that helped to propel his obscure opponent to a shock victory in a party primary last month.
Her appearance in Nashville was on behalf of Joe Carr, a rough-edged candidate from Tennessee who has support from the grassroots Tea Party movement. He is standing on a “no amnesty” platform to oust Senator Lamar Alexander, a genteel deal-maker on Capitol Hill, in an August 7th primary.
Alexander was one of the fourteen Senate Republicans who voted for the Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill last year. But he’s outspent Carr six-to-one, and the more credible polls haven’t shown Carr getting any traction (yes, Tea Party Nation has commissioned two polls showing Carr closing in, but I wouldn’t trust much of anything coming from that particular group).
Given the latest upsurge of hostility to “amnesty” among rank-and-file Republicans, and its apparent impact in the Georgia GOP SEN runoff just last week, it makes sense that Carr and his backers would make this the centerpiece of his campaign. While earlier in the cycle Alexander looked like another Lindsey Graham, impervious to (or at least capable of managing) the right-wing winds in the GOP, now you do have to wonder if he’s a bit more like Thad Cochran or even Cantor. Aside from Ingraham, Sarah Palin has also endorsed Carr. Whatever you think of her generally, she doesn’t usually endorse stone losers.
Ol’ Lamar! (the self-appellation he used in his 1996 presidential campaign) has had quite a career. Originally a staffer for Howard Baker (and briefly, Richard Nixon), he fit neatly into the ancient East Tennessee/Appalachian tradition of moderate Republicanism exemplified by Baker. He won his party’s gubernatorial nomination in the unlucky Watergate year of 1974, and lost to the infamous (Pardon Me) Ray Blanton, and then won in 1978 and 1982. He was a prominent national figure, often working across party lines (especially with Bill Clinton) to promote good-government initiatives like education reform. He served as Education Secretary under Poppy Bush, and launched a momentarily strong “outsider” presidential campaign in 1996 (which he reprised briefly in 2000) under the somewhat anachronistic (since Republicans had taken over Congress in 1994) anti-Washington slogan of “cut their pay and send them home.” He succeeded Fred Thompson in the Senate in 2002, and is running for a third term at the vulnerable age of 74.
With only ten days until the primary (yes, Tennessee is holding its primary on a Thursday, a practice it began in 2012), there’s not much time for Carr to catch up with Alexander. So an upset remains very unlikely. But Ingraham would become even more unsufferably arrogant if she could claim a second RINO purge in Tennessee.
At the Prospect today, Paul Waldman argues that the Republican Party has been locked in the grip of political incompetence since the 2004 elections. I tend to agree, but while Paul attributes the problem to self-delusion via the closed feedback loop of conservative media, I’d suggest there’s been a tendency to elevate short-term over long-term strategic considerations. Here are five recent examples:
The first example involves the many, many lies told by GOP pols and affiliated gabbers about the alleged horrific impact of the Affordable Care Act on old folks. These ranged from deliberate mischaracterization of the Medicare “cuts” in the ACA (raised to an infamous art form by Paul Ryan in 2012), and ranged on up to the amazingly effective if completely fabricated “death panel” meme. As a short-term strategy, this made sense, and certainly helped solidify the GOP’s sudden new dominance among older white voters, a key factor in 2010. In the long term, though, aside from the risk of hellfire, the tactic undermined the GOP’s simultaneous commitment to “entitlement reform,” the linchpin of its fiscal strategy.
A second choice of short-term versus long-term strategies has been the War on Voting, which has risked generational alienation of affected young and minority voters in exchange for dubiously effective electoral advantages. This is an ongoing choice, which only Rand Paul has (temporarily) seriously questioned.
A third, emphasized just today by Ross Douthat (though the critique has always been a staple of so-called Sam’s Club Republicanism), was the decision to make the 2012 economic message of the GOP revolve around the needs and perspectives of business owners, presumably to reverse the advantage Democrats had slowly gained since the Clinton years among several categories of upscale voters. This approach played right into Democrats’ new openness to populist messages, and while conservatives like Douthat are arguing for policies that appeal to the economic interests of middle-class voters, the shadow of Mitt Romney still looms large.
A fourth, which is also ongoing, was the sudden and almost universal embrace by the GOP of a “religious liberty” argument that identified the party with very extreme positions on birth control and same-sex marriages, undermining years of careful antichoicer focus on late-term abortion and reversing an implicit party decision to soft-pedal homophobia. Those who led this campaign in 2012 probably had visions of it serving as a wedge into the Catholic vote (which even some Democrats feared), which just didn’t happen.
And fifth and most definitely ongoing example is the decision to follow an immediate shift to the right in Republican and to some extent independent attitudes towards immigration reform in the wake of the refugee crisis on the border, even though Republicans know they’ll pay a long-term price in credibility with Latino voters.
In all these cases, Republicans haven’t being stupid so much as short-sighted. As yes, the elevation of short-term over long-term strategies was reinforced by all the factors Waldman cites. It’s really hard to eat that broccoli for your health when there’s so much ice cream in the freezer.
Now that nearly a week’s gone by since Georgia’s Senate Republican runoff, the belief is beginning to set in that the crucial factor leading to David Perdue’s upset win over Jack Kingston was right-wing anger at the Chamber of Commerce. It was most notably fed by Perdue’s last-minute ad draping the Chamber’s past support for “amnesty” around Kingston’s neck. But word among the cognoscenti is that a not-insignificant factor was conservative activist fury at the Chamber’s role in the Great Mississippi Scandal of 2014, wherein the righteous were thwarted by a Corrupt Bargain between Thad Cochran and those people. Here’s Jim Galloway’s take for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Last month’s U.S. Senate race in Mississippi saw GOP incumbent Thad Cochran survive a tea-party assault, aided by the U.S. Chamber - plus thousands of black Democrats lured into the Republican runoff.
In the weeks that followed, political observers wondered if Cochran’s success would have implications here.
Last Tuesday brought the answer. Mississippi indeed sparked ideas in Georgia’s Republican runoff for Senate — just not the ones you might think.
Snubbed by the powerful business group, former Dollar General CEO David Perdue used antipathy toward the U.S. Chamber and its Mississippi adventure to pry apart an alliance of Republican stalwarts and tea partyers that Jack Kingston, the Savannah congressman, was about to ride to victory….
Julianne Thompson of Atlanta Tea Party Patriots, a former [Karen] Handel supporter, was the first tea party activist to publicly sign up with Kingston after the primary.
The Chamber’s activity on Cochran’s behalf didn’t shake her own commitment to Kingston, but Thompson knows it angered others in her movement.
“As far as grassroots conservative activists are concerned, there is a distrust for the Chamber of Commerce,” Thompson said. “They seem to have become less about being pro-business and more about being in the middle of political races.
“I think it was a wise move on the Perdue campaign’s part to distance itself from the Chamber. I don’t disagree with them on that,” she said. “I think that David ran more of a tea party-type campaign, and that resonated with the voters at large.”
Bottom line: Four weeks later, when the Georgia GOP runoff for Senate came down to the wire, and Kingston went on TV with accusations that his rival was soft on illegal immigration, the Perdue campaign knew how to respond - and when.
Across Georgia, TV stations have a Friday noon deadline for purchasing weekend air time. Perdue operatives snuck in just under that deadline and plastered three days of television programming favored by the 55-and-older crowd with an unanswered 30-second spot that underlined the U.S. Chamber’s support for immigration reform. The ad declared Kingston “bought and paid for.”
Conservatives who saw the Chamber as a prime villain in the Mississippi race were predisposed to Perdue’s message, or so goes this theory. I personally think that career appropriator Kingston’s credibility as a savage anti-Washington warrior was a little thin to begin with, too; it’s significant Perdue’s last-minute ad focused on his tenure in the House.
In any event, I hope no one is under the impression that Perdue’s win was some sort of victory for “moderation.” He systematically took just about every right-wing position available during the campaign (his alleged openness to a tax increase was really just an invention of his opponents, albeit one fed by a clumsy newspaper interview). And that anti-Chamber ad could have been scripted by Chris McDaniel.
This morning at the Plum Line, Greg Sargent draws attention to an interview Hillary Clinton conducted with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos over the weekend positioning herself somewhat differently than the president on the refugee crisis on the border:
Clinton came out against any changes to the 2008 trafficking law, which Republicans are seeking to expedite deportations of arriving minors as a condition for supporting any aide to address the debacle.
“I don’t agree that we should change the law,” Clinton told Ramos. She added that she wanted a more strenuous effort to distinguish between “migrant” children and “refugees,” to ensure that those who genuinely qualify for humanitarian relief in the U.S. obtain it. “I’m advocating an appropriate procedure, well funded by the Congress, which they are resisting doing, so that we can make individual decisions,” Clinton said. “We should be setting up a system in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, to screen kids over there, before they get in the hands of coyotes.”
In opposing changes to the 2008 law, Clinton has placed herself a bit to the left of even Obama, who initially signaled openness to such changes before backtracking after Congressional Dems objected. And Clinton is also clarifying her previous suggestion that the kids should be “sent back.”
It’s not entirely clear whether most Americans are paying attention to the nuances of how various politicians are proposing to deal with the refugee crisis, beyond the basic distinction between those who want to deport all illegals and those who don’t. So by embracing a plausible strategy that doesn’t involve immediate deportations or changes in what was once a very popular antitrafficking law in order to speed deportations, HRC may well be arriving at a position most Democrats will come around to sooner if not later. It’s certainly a position that will be welcomed by those who don’t want to see the current crisis bleed over into an effort to deport most undocumented people, including those who have been here for years, or gut antitrafficking laws. I suspect when the panic and hype over border crossings subsides, she’ll look reasonable and prescient.
I guess it was inevitable: after telling her minions that virtually every source of information this side of Breitbart is controlled by godless elites who mock their beloved True American culture, Sarah Palin is now making it possible to stay deluded 24-7 (per a report from TPM’s Catherine Thompson):
“Tired of media filters? Well, so am I,” the former Republican vice presidential candidate wrote in an announcement on her Facebook page. “So, let’s go rogue together and launch our own member-supported channel! This will be OUR channel, for you and for me, and we’ll all get to call it like it is.”
The Sarah Palin Channel, described in its formative stages as “a video version of her Facebook page,” costs $9.95 per month or $99.95 for a yearly subscription through Tapp, an online video service founded by former NBC Universal and CNN executives. Active military members can subscribe to the network free of charge.
The channel’s website prominently features a national debt counter and a countdown clock for days left in the Obama administration. Several sample videos, including a video of Palin’s call for the President’s impeachment, are also posted.
Don’t know if there will be salmon-bashing or wolf-shooting video as well. But however egregious it turns out to be, it’s one more sin we can lay at the door of John McCain, who unleashed this long national nightmare just under six years ago.
Blues guitarist Mike Bloomfield would have been 70 today (instead he died in 1981). Here’s his band Electric Flag performing at Monterey Pop in 1967.
House Republicans want to use their final week in Washington before the August recess to send a signal that they are ready to govern.
As the country’s attention turns to the fight for control of the House and Senate, Republicans want to show they are capable of handling two of the nation’s toughest issues: the thousands of children crossing the border, and the veterans in need of healthcare.
“This is a crisis situation. We need to show that we can respond in a crisis in a thoughtful way,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said of the effort to move a border bill.
This is, of course, mostly internal Republican party politics. It’s less that the entire GOP is trying to prove to voters that they’re capable of governing, but rather that GOP leadership is begging the crazies to at least give the party a chance to pretend to voters at the eleventh hour that they’re capable.
But it’s remarkable to watch: even as Boehner gives his far right pro-impeachment flank a carrot by initiating a preposterous and unpopular lawsuit, he holds the stick of losing elections to persuade them to actually do something halfway reasonable on immigration and healthcare for veterans.
It’s an awkward dance, and it’s going to get clumsier as election day approaches and Democratic messaging drives wedges deeper into the Republican foundation. The leadership will pretend that the GOP really does want to be reasonable and govern, but their base wants revanchism, not reason.
And it’s a little late to be playing rebranding games in any case.
Someone will have to explain why a sane society would still allow this to be legal, because I can’t figure it out:
mong the windmills and creosote bushes of San Gorgonio Pass, a nondescript beige building stands flanked by water tanks. A sign at the entrance displays the logo of Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water, with water flowing from a snowy mountain. Semi-trucks rumble in and out through the gates, carrying load after load of bottled water.
The plant, located on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ reservation, has been drawing water from wells alongside a spring in Millard Canyon for more than a decade. But as California’s drought deepens, some people in the area question how much water the plant is bottling and whether it’s right to sell water for profit in a desert region where springs are rare and underground aquifers have been declining.
“Why is it possible to take water from a drought area, bottle it and sell it?” asked Linda Ivey, a Palm Desert real estate appraiser who said she wonders about the plant’s use of water every time she drives past it on Interstate 10. “It’s hard to know how much is being taken,” Ivey said. “We’ve got to protect what little water supply we have.”
The issue is complicated by the fact that this is Native American (Morongo) land, and Nestle is paying the tribe an unknown but presumably tidy sum for access to the aquifer. But it’s still a travesty. The southwest is in a period of record-breaking drought. No one knows just how bad it is, exactly, but it’s pretty bad.
It’s likely attributable in part to climate change, but it’s also possible if not likely that the entire southwestern United States has been experiencing a period of unusually wet weather over the last long while, and the recent drought represents a return to normalcy on the scale of centuries.
If that is the case, then the entire southwest is going to need to heavily re-examine its water usage in dramatic ways. Agriculture may need to be cut back, lawns will need to go to xeriscape, golf courses will need to be eliminated, and much else besides.
It will also necessarily put a damper on development in many areas where high real estate prices are crying out for increased smart growth infill.
And certainly, companies will have to be prevented from taking precious water resources and bottling them for profit. Continuing to allow that in this sort of environment is straight out of a science fiction novel set in an Objectivist dystopia.
Lord knows I’ve had my criticisms of MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry in the past—her decision to bring on notorious climate disinformer Bjorn Lomborg to discuss the climate crisis in April 2014, her unnecessary apology to Mitt Romney in December 2013, etc.—but I wish I had the chance to thank her in person for her segments today on the death of Eric Garner after a confrontation with New York Police Department earlier this month. The segments moved me to tears.
I heard “The Talk” when I was 12 years old, shortly after Charles Stuart committed suicide in Boston in January 1990. In the fall of 1989, Stuart infamously blamed a fictional African-American suspect for the murder of his pregnant wife, Carol DiMaiti Stuart; after Stuart’s story unraveled, and it became evident that he murdered his wife, Stuart performed an Olympic-quality dive off the Tobin Bridge.
“The Talk” was pretty simple: always be respectful towards law enforcement, always be conscious of your surroundings, always remember that people acquire stereotypes about people of color from television news, and always understand that while it may be unfair, you have an obligation at all times to try to counteract those stereotypes. “The Talk” was depressing, to be sure, but I absorbed the advice, and I never forgot it.
There will be a day when mothers and fathers of color no longer have to sit their kids down and read the sad script that is “The Talk.” As Eric Garner’s death reminds us, that day isn’t on the horizon anytime soon.
Five summers after the bizarre arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it’s clear that the issues of race and policing in America are nowhere near being resolved. Can we start resolving them now?
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