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I understand that “our ideas are hated, we’re also personally hated, our party is dying, and every time it seems as though it can’t get worse we outdo NBC and it somehow does” is not a thing that a California Republican leader is going to say. But they should! It’s true, after all, and hard as it might be to hear, grappling with the reality of the situation is the only way they’ll ever come back. But this Times article is frankly just ridiculous. To suggest that a Republican potentially taking a state senate special election in a purplish-blue district thanks to an unusually talented candidate means anything more than just that is frankly silly, and it speaks volumes that the CA GOP gets really, really excited about this, even to the point of spouting obvious nonsense:

Analysts say it will be difficult to draw lessons from the outcome of a single race, particularly a special election. But Republicans, who had been facing a relentless stream of bad news until this contest, do not see it that way.

“It’s a big shot in the arm,” said Bob Huff, a Republican and the Senate minority leader. “It shows our ideas are not stale. We are not dead.”

In the months since last fall’s elections, which emphasized the growing importance of the Hispanic vote across the nation, state Republican leaders have redoubled efforts to reach out to them, Mr. Huff said. This month, he said, he visited a large evangelical Hispanic church in San Diego along with Connie Conway, the Assembly minority leader, and Jim Brulte, the Republican Party chairman.

Which has obviously done wonders…

Of course, the article says that Vidak supports what most Republicans derisively label “amnesty,” even though this has nothing much to do with what he’d do in the particular office he wants now, it’s easy to see how a local farmer with deep roots in the area and a positive message on immigration would be able to swing a special election in moderately unfriendly territory, as those elections are more about “who doesn’t care less” than anything else. But even if he wins, nothing will have changed. Most voters statewide will have no clue who he is. Democrats will still be well above 2/3 in the Senate. The Republican Party won’t suddenly shift on immigration, even just in California. In fact, it’s likely that the 2014 Republican ticket will be headed by Tim Donnelly, a former Minuteman. (Yes, I think he’ll edge out Abel Maldonado to get to the top two–Maldo has no real base, couldn’t fundraise as an appointed incumbent Lt. Gov in 2010, in fact failed to run even a single ad in that election.) So the ideas that make Vidak appealing to a largely Hispanic community are unlikely to be embraced by his party. As for Vidak’s personal potential if he wins, statewide office is a fantasy, and if he couldn’t get into the House in 2010 against a perpetually lazy Democrat incumbent, it seems unlikely he ever would. And this is assuming he actually wins the runoff, which could very well not happen. He didn’t get a majority last time when a handful of liberals split the vote and Democrats were caught napping. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins the seat, but I’m guessing he won’t.

To believe that this special has any relevance other than that talented campaigners and local connections matter, you’d have to have believed that Scott Brown’s fluky win in 2010 presaged a Republican revival in the state, which obviously did not happen. So I am quite amused by Sen. Huff’s comment. The only issue positions listed in the article are opposition to high-speed rail (Vidak, however, also claims to support job creation despite opposing large-scale public works) and immigration. To take the fact that an off-off-year special election is a bit closer than it should be on paper as evidence that Republicans are on the way back is simply delusional, though to paraphrase that great literary classic Gorky Park, it doesn’t matter how ridiculous the lie is, if the lie is that you’ll escape.

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UntitledWhile they’re making shit up and throwing around Nazi references, Republicans might as well just start screaming bloody murder about border-jumping Muslim Godzilla monsters who are out to gobble up innocent Christian fetuses.

The size of the Valium it’s going to take to calm Senator Huckleberry down is growing by the hour. Pretty soon, you’re going to need a flatbed to get it from the pharmacy to his house. Today’s high-sterics involve Edward Snowden…

Senator Huckleberry now proposes that we become even more publicly frantic and cancel our participation in a big figure skating meet to convince him.

Graham said the move would put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to change his ways… “If they give asylum to a person who I believe has committed treason against the United States, that’s taking it to a new level.”

Luckily, “treason” is not defined by how Graham thinks the word will play in South Carolina, where they know from treason, let me tell you. But Huckleberry isn’t finished with his turn on the stage here at Bad Historical Analogy Theater…

Graham also pointed to the Olympics in Nazi Germany as an example of when governments need to take a stand. “If you could go back in time, would you have allowed Adolf Hitler to host the Olympics in Germany?” Graham said, clarifying he was not saying Russia was the same as the Nazis, but that Olympic hosts need to be responsible world players.

I always love the tag line that comes right after uttering a Hitler reference.  “Graham … clarif[ied that] he was not saying Russia was the same as the Nazis…”  Oh right, similar, not “same“.

I guess it depends on how you look at it, but I’m not entirely sure I buy this assessment that Mitch McConnell is winning the filibuster war. I wish Reid had gone nuclear, but this is still a win, and it’s pretty unprecedented in terms of uniting Democrats against the filibuster, even in just a single category. I suppose the real test is going to be the next round of “controversial” executive appointees, namely Mel Watt to head the beleaguered Federal Housing Fiance Authority and Todd Jones to head the right-wing hate-target ATF. If these are blithely filibustered and Reid is unable to muscle a filibuster reform process then, then this was a “winning the battle while losing the war” type of thing.

I do wish they’d just done away with the damn thing, if only because I’m already sick of “John McCain is back!” stories. But I’m more hopeful in the long run. These are the main reasons why Democrats are reluctant to remove the filibuster.

  1. Older senators like Carl Levin who don’t want to admit that the Senate got ruined on their watch
  2. Moderate-to-liberal Democrats like Dianne Feinstein who worry about anti-abortion judges getting confirmed (though it should be noted that Feinstein has no problem pushing through anti-abortion judges herself)
  3. Red-state Democrats who like it because it avoids votes on controversial issues (like universally popular background checks, apparently)
  4. Basic Democratic inertia, as well as a disinclination toward using power

Of these, Number 1 will not be a problem for much longer. Robert Byrd is dead, Chris Dodd is out of office, and Carl Levin is retiring. Number 3 is silly, since conservatives will simply portray procedural votes as votes of substance, which is completely fair under the circumstances.

“You voted against XXX!”
“No, I merely voted against debating the subject!” = a lame debate answer

I do think that Number 4 is the biggest problem, and it didn’t use to be one. Before the Gingrich days, Democrats played the game as ruthlessly as anyone. I wonder if it wasn’t the flameout of Jim Wright that made Democrats skittish of acting that way ever since. Chronologically it would track. But in this case all it would take is a little more turnover and a new leader who is a little less tolerant of endless obstructionist bullshit.

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Via TPM, a Utah state senator wants to get the education out of the state, or the state out of education, or something:

First, we need to restore the expectation that parents are primarily responsible for the educational success of their own children. That begins with restoring the parental right to decide if and when a child will go to public school. In a country founded on the principles of personal freedom and unalienable rights, no parent should be forced by the government to send their child to school under threat of fines and jail time.

Second, we need to shift the public mindset to recognize that education is a not an obligation, but an opportunity to be treasured and respected. Utah’s constitution requires that we provide the opportunity for a free public education to every child. But public education is not free—it costs taxpayers billions each year. When a parent decides to enroll a child in public school, both the parent and child should agree to meet minimum standards of behavior and academic commitment or face real-life consequences such as repeating a class, a grade, or even expulsion.

Third, we need to stop dictating the number of hours a child must be present in a classroom. Instead of requiring that teachers and students must be in class for 990 hours a year, lets enable our local school boards to determine the best use of a teacher’s time and focus student and parent expectations on educational outcomes such as completing assignments and passage of exams as the measurement of success for the opportunity to progress in public school.

*Sigh.*

Far be it from me to impugn the motives of Utah Senator Aaron Osmond (Osmond? Really?) but this sounds to me like the following:

  • “Fuck you, you’re on your own” disguised as a plea for “personal responsibility”.
  • Removing education standards to ensure that wack-ass religious, historical and political views won’t get contradicted before they ossify in kids’ brains.
  • Raising a new coterie of stupids for a political party whose continued existence depends on the ignorance of their “base”.

I mean the Utah regulations regarding homeschooling seem pretty darn lax, so why does anything need to change, except to enable “Fuck you, you’re on your own” et al?

But then what do I know? I went to school, so therefore am probably suspect.

FungusLiz Cheney, y’all, what’s gonna primary Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) in 2014:

Paging Nate Silver; will Nate Silver please pick up the white courtesy phone?

Although, that quipped, this from the Larison article sounds like Gollum Junior’s bid’ll make as much difference to the composition of the next Senate as a slim book of self-published verse to the bottom line of a Berkeley independent:

The obvious flaw in Cheney’s challenge is that Enzi has done nothing to anger voters in Wyoming or conservatives nationally. Other than trying to re-establish the Cheney family in Wyoming politics, her candidacy serves no purpose. It’s not as if Enzi’s foreign policy views are anything like those of Hagel or Lugar, so Cheney will be hard-pressed to make use of the hawkish credentials she has been building for so many years. Except for her hard-line foreign policy advocacy, Cheney doesn’t have much to offer Wyoming voters, so it’s not clear why they would chuck out a popular incumbent to make way for her.

A bit more (specifically in re: support v. money, for all you horserace types) from the NY Times on the subject:

And Wyoming’s sole House member, Cynthia Lummis, told reporters in the Capitol that Ms. Cheney’s move was “bad form,” suggesting that the she run in Virginia, where she lived in McLean until she moved to Wyoming. Ms. Lummis said last month that she wanted to run for Mr. Enzi’s seat herself if he retired.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee also made clear that it would support the incumbent, as is its policy.

Other colleagues have also begun to rally to his side. He was chosen last weekend to give the weekly national Republican radio address, and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, said in an interview with Politico that he would support Mr. Enzi next year.

But the senator has just $488,000 in the bank and has raised a paltry $171, 000 in the last three months. “Money-raising has always been a problem for me,” Mr. Enzi said Tuesday.

Ms. Cheney, with ample financial connections, is likely to be a formidable fund-raiser. Her father has been talking up her candidacy with top Republican donors in New York City, and Ms. Cheney will also have the support of some Bush donors.

J. Bernstein takes apart Megan McArdle’s chain of logic leading to her ridiculous assertion that it’s 70% likely we’ll see a GOP DC trifecta come 2017:

First of all, look at how many times the pattern has recurred. In McArdle’s case, we’re talking about times when a president stepped aside (making a same-party succession possible). That happened in 1952, 1960, 1968, 1988, 2000, and 2008. So her pattern, to begin with, is one out of six. That’s perhaps something…but it’s not exactly an Iron Law of Politics, is it? 0 for 10, or 1 for 50, would be a lot stronger.

Then, next, we can check the qualifiers to see if they’re making the pattern look stronger. In this case, there’s one: postwar. If we put that aside and go with “20th century,” then we add 1908, 1920, and 1928 — and get two hits, with TR/Taft and Coolidge/Hoover. Is there some special reason that the postwar era should be different? Not that I can think of, and if we include those the pattern drops to three in nine — hardly something to get worked up about. Note that the more qualifiers you toss in, the more likely you are to be creating the pattern that you’re seeing, so this is an important test.

What’s next? Well, are the cases you are using strong evidence of something, or weak? Here, out-party replacements by Ike in 1952 and Obama in 2008 were both pretty solid…but so was George H.W. Bush’s counter-pattern win. The rest were toss-ups: Nixon/Kennedy, Humphrey/Nixon, and Bush/Gore, with the latter of course counting the other way on the national vote. Overall, that seems a lot closer to a coin-flip than an Iron Law.

Predictions are hard, especially about the future…however, while prognostication is rarely accurate, being out of touch with the basic facts makes it even harder. For example, it seems fairly clear that Democrats are going to drop seats in the Senate next year, almost certainly in South Dakota, and most likely in West Virginia. Aside from that, you have about a half-dozen Democrat-held toss-ups and leaners that are at least within the realm of possibility to switch sides. (Also within the realm of possibility: Susan Collins getting tapped to run the Department of Homeland Security and that seat getting taken over by a Dem, Senator McConnell getting dumped by Kentucky voters due to his abysmal approval numbers, certified crazy person Paul Broun losing to senatorial daughter Michelle Nunn in Georgia). The basic thing is that a lot of this hasn’t shaped up and we just don’t know how much of it will turn out. Similarly, in 2016, the situation is much the same way but flipped, with Sen. Kirk of Illinois and Ron “Sunspots” Johnson of Wisconsin being very likely to lose re-election (the former might not even contest the race due to his severe health problems), and there will be a half-dozen or so likely toss-ups or leaner Republican seats won in 2010. My guess is that we’ll see a modestly poor 2014 and a fairly good 2016 for Democrats in the Senate, and I doubt Hillary Clinton would have to break a sweat if she indeed runs in 2016. But again, anything can happen.

But all that is sort of irrelevant. McArdle likes the filibuster because she doesn’t like the government taking steps to help people in a positive way. That’s fair enough. However, McArdle is not a liberal Democrat. The interest for functioning, positive, activist government is one that would require on a basic level qualified people running key agencies, something Republicans are resistant to allowing at this point in time. This is a fairly new development–the concept that certain posts simply should not ever be filled because Republican elites disagree with the mission of the department–and it represents a genuine crisis for liberalism. McArdle’s basic argument is that, hey, this might cut against you liberals some day! Which is true. However, the public perception that the government is completely broken and unfixable is a much more imminent, much larger danger, one that could sour people on the entire liberal enterprise. Which would be fine with folks like McArdle, but it does make her argument little more than trolling.

You know, for a while it was kind of a fun novelty, an econ blogger who can’t do math. But shouldn’t we be able to do better by now?

Moon ShotI was just going to note the following “cool space thing”: according to the Lunar and Planetary Institute (in a notification I received via email but which I can’t seem to find on the webs), NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is the first deep space mission to be launched from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia; the launch currently scheduled for September 6, 11:27 p.m. EDT is “expected to be visible to approximately ½ of the continental U.S.” (Launches from Wallops also appear to be viewable live via webcast.) According to NASA, LADEE has just successfully been moved from Ames Research Center to Wallops.

(I’m a little unsure on the desireability of naming a spaceport “Wallops“, but that’s probably why I’m not a scientist.)

More information on the mission from NASA:

NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is a robotic mission that will orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust. A thorough understanding of these characteristics will address long-standing unknowns, and help scientists understand other planetary bodies as well.

The LADEE spacecraft’s modular common spacecraft bus, or body, is an innovative way of transitioning away from custom designs and toward multi-use designs and assembly-line production, which could drastically reduce the cost of spacecraft development, just as the Ford Model T did for automobiles.

However, the following quote in re: Why LADEE Matters gave me a sad:

Earth’s atmosphere is critically important to all of us. In addition to providing us with air to breathe, it protects us from temperature extremes, harmful space radiation, and vast numbers of incoming meteoroids. The atmosphere is a very complex system that we are only beginning to understand. Gaining a better understanding of the atmosphere, how it protects us, and how we can protect it is in all of our interests.

In order to understand Earth’s atmosphere and how it works, it is essential to study atmospheres under a wide range of conditions beyond Earth. Examining atmospheres on other planets allows this.

The fact that NASA thought — and probably is completely justified in thinking — that the above words needed to be said boggles my mind. It falls under the category of “making them beg to do us a favor,” the which my better half is always accusing me of doing, also not without justification, and the which it seems to me is one of the main qualities of The Party Which Shall Not Be Named.

“Gaining a better understanding of the atmosphere, how it protects us, and how we can protect it is in all of our interests…” Please, please, please, let us find ways to keep your grandchildren from getting skin cancer and Houston from being drowned, pleaseohpleaseohplease….

Now, granted, maybe the intended audience for the NASA info is, y’know, “future scientists and astronauts,” school kids and whatnot, so maybe I should just cool my jets, pardon the expression. But still…what a buncha short sighted douchenozzles we are, I tell you hwut.

Some more (older) information on LADEE via the Lunar and Planetary Institute site:

I need to stop being angry all the time.

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