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All those popping sounds you’ve been hearing recently are Republican eyeballs after looking at current budget deficit projections.

A budget deficit that was more than 10 percent of GDP in 2009 is on track to be about half that this year. “The federal budget deficit is shrinking rapidly,” writes Jan Hatzius, the chief economist of Goldman Sachs, in an April 10 report. Goldman estimates that in the first three months of 2013 the deficit was running at 4.5 percent of GDP, and they forecast a deficit of 3 percent of GDP or less in the 2015 fiscal year.


Frankly, the fact that a vote to protect privacy was this close gives me hope. Perhaps I expect too little, but it’s a pretty good sign looking forward I think.

Also, it’s a good time to post a link to this classic post. Self-identified libertarians are the squishiest on actual civil liberties according to a number of measures in that poll, and it’s worth noting that most House Democrats voted against spying today (and, by extension, against their own president), something that it’s extremely hard to imagine ever happening with House Republicans and George Bush. Most Republicans voted to support their hated Obama Administration’s ability for unlimited spying. To be fair, there are some Republicans who give a damn about it, and Justin Amash has my grudging respect for pushing this. But the lay of the land is that Republicans are extremely comfortable letting the government do anything it wants because of, you know, terror, and the basic lesson of the vote is that if you actually care about civil liberties, the Democratic Party and not the GOP should be your home. Which is hardly the same thing as saying that they’re great…

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Throughly enjoyed this one. I don’t know whether the show started portraying thinly-veiled celebrity scandals (with a bit of added MURDER!) as a result of falling ratings, or if they started falling because L&O started doing them. In any event, when you consider that the stories they used to “rip from the headlines” were things like a gay cop getting killed in the line of duty because a bunch of homophobes refused to back him up in a shootout, it puts into perspective the sorts of drama the show could bring to the table in its heyday, versus the junky tabloid fodder it embraced later on. (Don’t get me started on the episode with fake Skreech’s sex tape murder, which does not deserve a link and will not get one.)

And this, as always:

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So, yeah, soon-to-be U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power is pretty much as horrible a liberal hawk as can be. This is not good, I’d say “embracing neoconservative rhetoric” is an apt description. Seems like it ought to be a disqualifier, though it won’t be.

I’ve been thinking recently about this. President Obama, while not a realist by most definitions of the term, certainly is one relatively speaking based on the mainstream of Washington foreign policy standards. However, he keeps promoting horrible liberal hawks through the ranks of the foreign policy bureaucracy. Though they aren’t the only people he’s put in top slots. Obama has put a fair amount of realists into top foreign policy slots, it’s just that they’re Republican realists. The Robert Gates and Chuck Hagel definitely trace their lineage through the (dying, if not dead, but once ascendant) Republican realist tradition. And while I’m hardly an expert, I draw a blank thinking about the sorts of Democratic realists who would be qualified for these posts. Democratic politics seems to have something of a bifurcated system in which, on the one hand, a lot of antiwar, noninterventionist politicians hold office, but on the other hand, staffer types and people who aren’t interested in running for office overwhelmingly incline toward a liberal internationalist hawk perspective, presumably so that they can get jobs at non-partisan interventionist shops like Brookings when the GOP has the White House. Republicans used to have a whole system in place to foster realist foreign policy types, between realist-inclined administrations and think-tanks. But the Democrats are well behind on that score, and the most prominent center-left think tank doesn’t even list foreign policy as an issue that they have experts in (though they do list “military” and “national security“, which are not quite the same thing).

In any event, my take on the White House is shifting a bit on this subject. I’m seeing things less in terms of what Lemieux terms the “Republican Daddies” syndrome, and more as a situation in which Obama seems interested in putting realists in top offices, but the only place they really still exist are the graying remnants of the Republican realist machine, and picking too many of those tends to generate serious flak. The problem seems to be that Democratic realists don’t exist because there isn’t really a track for them, in terms of getting jobs when the other side runs things. But this could be quite easily fixed if some antiwar Democrat billionaire endowed a realist think-tank with this express purpose. Still, it would be nice if Obama could try to find a few talented people of this type and put them into important jobs himself. At this point, virtually all the pushback against foreign policy adventurism in the executive branch has been by Republicans and military brass, which is something that ought to make war-skeptics uneasy.

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Like Lev in a prior post, I went from zero-to-irritated over the media’s “The McCain Maverick Is Back!!” nonsense faster than I got over Gangnam Style.

With that said — and I pre-apologize for giving Johnny Walnuts more airtime — the story of the ever-mercurial McCain finding a new back to stab is somewhat legitimate news.

Because my fingers are feeling like they’re scraping on a chalkboard even typing this, I’ll keep it brief:

President Obama on Friday made his most extensive comments on race since entering the White House, and they are generating extensive commentary.

Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who lost the 2008 presidential race to Obama, called the president’s remarks “very impressive,” and said they should help all Americans think about how to improve race relations in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death.

“I think we continue to make progress,” McCain told CNN’s State of the Union, but recent events show “we still have a long way to go.”

Compare this, of course, with Fox News’s parade of black conservatives spitting bile at President Uppity McDarkerson for daring to talk about race:

I’m not sure just how many more of these black conservatives the media can manage to drag out there to go after President Obama and the speech he gave this Friday on what the George Zimmerman verdict means for the state of race relations in America, but this Saturday, old HuckaJesus and his producers at Fox managed to find one more to attack President Obama — and of course repeat, verbatim, every Republican talking point we’ve been hearing for ages now.

I don’t know what the salary is to be a spokespuppet for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher like Tara Setmayer, who appeared on Huckabee’s show this Saturday and attacked President Obama’s speech, but my guess is someone is paying her well with a lot of wingnut welfare for her to be willing to spread this much hatred and bullshit on national television and still look herself in the mirror when she gets up the next morning.

Setmayer wants the audience at Fox to believe that it’s somehow “beneath the President” for Obama to talk about race, because, you know, no one’s allowed to do that other than the race baiters over at Fox. How dare our first President of color think it’s his place to talk about racism, or what he experienced first hand. How arrogant of him to do that and upset all of these right-wingers who want to pretend racism is dead in America because President Obama was elected.

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“.