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Mmmm….lying to voters, wrecking the education system, and…leaving the toilet seat up?

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This is interesting, though hardly shocking. The past decade or so of European history has shown that the boundary between the far left and far right is a lot more porous than one might think, particularly in the UK and France, where right-wing movements have had huge success in penetrating former leftist strongholds. Both have the same enemies and often the same attitude. I don’t think it’ll help much, though, as those places don’t have the whole race thing that we have here. Obviously they have racial issues there as everyone does, but not ones as historical and politicized as ours.

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I think we can now get a glimpse of Jeb Bush’s prospective general election campaign: the recession is over, and now I’m going to deliver the greatest prosperity of all time, with supercharged 4% growth. It’s going to be like just after WWII again, you’ll see! And all those pointyheads who say we can’t do it are defeatists, because America is exceptional! You’ll work more hours, we’ll deregulate and cut taxes (mostly for the rich, but don’t say that bit). Optimism! Greatness!

It’s not that this couldn’t work, though Bush is the absolute wrong messenger considering the fool who caused the recession was his brother and the cause was the “ownership society” he cherished. And he’ll be running against the wife of the only president who saw broadly shared economic gains in most voters’ lifetimes. But get ready, because it’s coming.

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Leave it to bargain-bin conservative pundit Marc Thiessen: he could have read up and offered an informed take on how the racist killings in Charleston led to a movement to re-evaluate Confederate symbolism in America, or he could have just made a bunch of shit up–arguments nobody is arguing, demands nobody is demanding–and then just asserted that this is what it’s all about. Guess which one he did? It’s a piece of shoddy work even by the Post‘s nonexistent op-ed standards, and probably should get the guy fired, but if we know anything it’s that no amount of bad writing and trivial pageviews will get a conservative fired from the Post, while no amount of healthy pageviews or quality writing will save a liberal. It’s just business, you see. Can’t ignore that large group of Tea Partiers who just devour the Post, along with other mainstream outlets.

Incidentally, I think this piece about Bill Kristol’s halfhearted Confederate defense–in service of a wholehearted trolling job–misses the key point. Heer’s historical perspective of neoconservatism is interesting, but I’m not so sure I’d give Kristol the benefit of the doubt of having much to do with any of that just because his father was involved with it. Kristol may buy into the precepts of neoconservatism, but he’s no intellectual, merely a party-hack troll who has, for reasons unclear to me, managed to amass a tremendous amount of power in the Republican Party, to the point of being a legitimate leader within it. This is despite his having no real talent or vision, and a long history of blown calls and counterproductive tactics. One supposes it’s his ironclad reputation as a cultivator of Republican talent: I’m sure Tom Cotton’s near-certain Vice Presidential nomination next year will accomplish what Sarah Palin couldn’t!

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Early Edition

Tomorrow’s Debate Today

Don’t ask us how, but Library Grape has obtained future transcripts of the very first FOX News debate. Enjoy these, and have a happy Fourth.

BO: Hi, I’m Bill O’Reilly of FOX News, sitting here with Chris Wallace to moderate the first Republican presidential candidates’ debate. All ten candidates here are candidates who have the highest poll averages out of the entire field. So let’s give them all a big hand! [applause as the candidates head to their podiums]

CW: Okay, welcome all of you to the grounds of Brigham Young University, one of our nation’s most famous schools, and the only one on our list that didn’t laugh when we approached them about hosting this debate. This is going to be a very busy night, we have lots of candidates and lots of issues. We will start with some opening statements, but due to the size of the field, we must insist that you keep your comments confined to thirty seconds tops to explain why you are running. We’ve randomly generated the order, so first, Carly Fiorina.

CF: Thanks, Chris. I’m so thrilled to be here tonight! I want to thank the staff of BYU for hosting this event, first of all. Now…the future. In this election, we have a clear choice: do we change course for the future, or continue on the same old course that we’ve been following these last seven years? I think we all want a change of course, but who is best to lead that change? With all due respect to the other fine, great, wonderful candidates on the stage, any one of whom would be a major improvement on the current administration, I have been in business and politics for decades now, and I understand Hillary Clinton better than anyone. Nobody would dare call me sexist for criticizing Hillary Clinton, and no women would be blackmailed into voting for her based on gender if I face her. I look forward to getting the chance to do it.

CW: Thank you. Donald Trump.

DT: Thank you, Chris. You’re the best newscaster out there, you are. It’s true. So I’ll just go ahead and say it: I’m running because this field is full of losers who couldn’t get a single thing accomplished. I mean, take Carly over there. She’s a nice lady, she is. But she’s been a disaster at everything she’s tried: almost wrecked HP, ran one of the worst campaigns in history in 2010, and helped Republicans lose in 2012. She’s a total disaster. You really think she could make China quake in their boots? Or who, John Kasich? He won’t tell you, but that guy helped run Lehman Brothers, which doesn’t even exist anymore. It’s gone! That’s how well he runs things. I look around and I see a lot of nice people, people who I would absolutely consider for my cabinet with close supervision, but nobody who would be as good as I would.

CW: Mr. Trump, I’d ask–

CF: That’s really uncalled for, Donald.

CW: I’d ask that you please refrain from personal attacks on other candidates like that. Please stick to matters of policy or substance.

DT: Sorry, Chris. I mean that. You’re the best, you got it.

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So I get an email today saying that Jim Webb is running for president, probably because I donated to his campaign way back when he was running against George Allen. It contained the full text of his announcement, so I figured I might as well read it. It was mostly what I expected, with a few surprises, like an indirect but still pretty clear promise to work on strengthening collective bargaining rights (good!), to a somewhat vague, procedural objection to Iranian diplomacy (eh, not so good). Ed Kilgore has a pretty thorough roundup of the whole thing.

I will admit that his not-perfectly-phrased (to say the least) entry into the confederate flag debate has killed off any progressive enthusiasm for his bid, although he’s rarely seemed to be interested in building a coalition upon that. In fact, it seems unclear what kind of Democratic coalition he even intends to build at all, as he gives nobody anything that they can’t get elsewhere. I couldn’t help but feel like I was getting a hit of 2014 strategery from reading the announcement: it smacked of trying to reach an audience that simply isn’t there at this time. Such as: Democratic realist hawks, say, or Southern working class white Democrats. His Iran stance will prevent him from being the natural peace candidate, it’s unclear how he appeals to women or minorities or environmentalists, and while his political career has long been concerned with helping the working class and downtrodden, he’s not going to go anywhere without being able to get the existing Democratic base behind him. I see no evidence of an even slightly credible plan to make that happen.

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I strongly doubt Jerry Brown vetoes the finally-passed vaccination bill. Quirky as he may be, I just don’t see the guy striking a blow for Marin assholes and internet conspiracy theorists. I think it becomes law. Sadly, I don’t see this bill’s passage as being a spur to action in other states–the only reason it’s happening here is because of the national news stories of childhood disease resurgences that came out of this state. As the aborted attempt in Washington State showed, most politicians are going to avoid antagonizing the Randian ubermenschen who see themselves as being above any sorts of social obligations whatsoever, even the ones that make sense from a self-interested perspective. Ultimately, I doubt there’s going to be much political fallout for this–it’s a somewhat bipartisan bill and no amount of money is going to get California Republicans out of the death spin they’re in, if there were some taste for retaliation to be had by the opponents. Probably won’t shift votes either way in meaningful numbers. But I think even blue states are going to move onto other business. At least, until the next national news stories hit.

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