Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said today that the CIA has illegally monitored and searched computers that belong to her committee.(0 comments)
Increasingly you see John Kasich’s name bubbling up as a possible presidential contender for the GOP. Mitt Romney said it. So did this guy. My immediate response would probably be like, “Hey, if y’all want to try another business Republican who lost a presidential race before and worked in the financial industry, then go on ahead!” You can see why Romney in particular would like the idea.
In all seriousness, we know that nothing happens in a vacuum, and that Kasich’s name is getting trial-ballooned at this point seems directly related to Chris Christie’s disastrous plummet in electability. So the people who were backing Christie are inevitably going to cast about for someone who checks most of his boxes, and Kasich in fact does check many. He has a record that is conservative but could plausibly be spun as bipartisan and moderate, which it is in some places. His financial industry ties would likely insure he could raise the money to plausibly run, which is undoubtedly a huge determinator of success in the entire venture. He’s as establishment as you can get and is more politically savvy than, say, a Ted Cruz bull in a china shop type. But he also shares the same weakness as Christie, from a nominating perspective: he’s not popular among the Tea folk due largely to his pushing through of Medicaid expansion, which could well earn him a veto among primary voters.
If you were to put me on the spot, my guess would be that Kasich is much better positioned to win a general election for the GOP than (putative main rival) Scott Walker would be, in spite of the his position at Lehman Brothers, largely because Kasich would probably be able to guarantee a win in Ohio while Walker wouldn’t be able to do so in Wisconsin (Ohio being split almost exactly down the middle politically means even a few percent of home state advantage would tip it), and Kasich does have a couple of major accomplishments that would appeal outside of the core GOP base while Walker has none. But Walker is better-positioned to win the GOP nomination in large part because of Kasich’s moves on Medicaid, and because Kasich abandoned his Walker-esque persona early on and focused more on touting his jobs record and trying to appear like a normal, empathetic human being. All of which is well and good, but I suspect Kasich was not seriously thinking of a presidential run when he was doing these things, and unless the base lets him slide on them, I don’t think he’s going anywhere. And apart from that, Kasich just doesn’t seem like someone with the communication skills to make a presidential run work, as nearly everything he says makes him sound like the FOX News host he used to be:
The slickness with which Democrats have gotten perennial headache Max Baucus out of the country and bolstered Dems’ chances of holding the seat really is sort of impressive. Shows some good strategic sense too: out of red state seats with retiring Democrats (West Virginia, South Dakota, and Montana), Montana makes the most sense to invest in the hold. It’s one of a handful of states (along with WV, Alaska and Kentucky) that clearly don’t have much affection for the national Democratic Party, but aren’t across the board conservative and present some opportunities for Democrats as all four still have significant percentages of union employment. (None, incidentally, are “right-to-work” states.) Montana, for example, has only voted for one Democratic candidate since the ’60s (that’d be Bill Clinton in 1992, helped out by Ross Perot). But the state sends Democrats to the Senate very, very often. Baucus’s seat last sent a Republican to Washington during the Taft Administration.
Which is not to say that it’s inevitable or anything, so much as that this is a solvable problem. Glad to see Dems taking this in hand, rather than making more problems for themselves by appointing safe Dems to executive positions and then having to fight for otherwise safe Senate seats. You know, their usual M.O.
It occurs to me that “the presumption of innocence means that we can’t really entertain the notion that a famous person is a child molester” is the spiritual cousin to “the First Amendment means an unlimited right to say offensive things with no consequences.” As in, arguments by people who don’t understand these legal principles or where they apply.
As for the matter itself? It’s folly for anyone to assume they know more than the facts convey. The notion that we “know” Allen well enough to answer such questions is deeply silly, we know his screen persona, which is hardly a fool-proof way of knowing an artist (imagine evaluating O.J. Simpson from his goofy appearances in the Naked Gun films). All things being equal, is it difficult to imagine a man molesting his own stepdaughter, and it taking the latter years to make sense of the experience before being able to accept what happened and speak out? Hardly. And, obviously, while some women do lie about this sort of thing, it’s undoubtedly vastly outweighed by underreporting of these sorts of crimes. (Sorry, Michael Crichton!) And the circumstances that led Tawana Brawley to make up her story quite clearly have no application here. Add in the inevitable abuse/mockery/scorn that comes from accusing a famous man (or any man) of sexual misconduct and it’s hard to see what motive she would have to publicly lie like this. My gut instinct would be to believe the woman.
Also worth noting is that even perverts can make great, honest art. I sincerely hope that we don’t get into the stupidity that the Roman Polanski arrest brought out, where people were arguing that the greatness of his art negates his flaws as a person. That is stupid. Deeply flawed people can still uncover truth for others, but the act of uncovering truth does not erase the flaws. Appreciating his films hereafter might be complicated by how central his screen persona is to many of them and by how his personal comedic style is integrated into them, but this is of secondary concern.
Maybe I’m just being overly sensitive today but I read this article in The Daily Beast that pissed me off something royal.
Senators: Kerry Admits Obama’s Syria Policy Is Failing
In a closed-door meeting, two senators say, the Secretary of State admitted to them that he no longer believes the administration’s approach to the crisis in Syria is working. Peace talks have failed, he conceded, and now it’s time to arm the moderate opposition—before local al Qaeda fighters try to attack the United States.
So John Kerry had a private meeting that included Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, among the hawkiest of the hawks in the Senate. After the “off-the-record” meeting, said Senators rushed out to tell the media that Kerry secretly told them that he agrees with them on everything and that Kerry called Obama’s approach a failure.
One wonders, is that true? Hmm, who would we ask about that…?
Kerry’s spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said the senators are confusing their views with the Secretary of State’s. “This is a case of members projecting what they want to hear and not stating the accurate facts of what was discussed,” Psaki added.
How the fuck have we come to this point in American journalism? … News flash to reporters everywhere: two heavily biased Senators who hate the administration and everything it does are going to lie about and distort pretty much anything they can think of… especially what they think they heard come out of the Secretary of State’s mouth.
I’ve stopped counting the number of concussions I’ve received from slamming my forehead into my desk…
Edit: Lol, also too:
UPDATE: Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Chris Murphy issued the following statement Monday about the Kerry meeting: “We were both surprised that contents of our off-the-record meeting with Sec Kerry were made public. The characterizations reported on today do not reflect the conversation that we heard. Neither of us recall the Secretary saying the policy of the administration in Syria was failing, nor proposing new lethal assistance for Syrian opposition groups.”
Now that the “Chris Christie Question” has shifted from whether he’ll run for president to whether he’ll be able to escape impeachment and/or criminal proceedings, the 2016 Republican field suddenly seems shockingly threadbare, lacking a single candidate with the ability to present both a strong primary and general election challenge. Just think about these guys:
- Rand Paul, a man with such massive vulnerabilities both with the Republican base and the general electorate that it would be more than a minor miracle for him to follow Barack Obama as president. Given his history of unfortunate (but unfortunately honest) Copperheadish statements about civil rights, his implacable hatred of numerous hugely popular government programs, and his comical hatred of unions, I fully expect every inch of the Obama coalition to recoil against a Paul candidacy if the GOP hawks somehow fail to kill him off. Even if he “won” I would not be surprised if the party’s leaders just outright stole the nomination away from him, just as they did 62 years ago from the similarly positioned Robert Taft. And if they didn’t, a Goldwater ’64 scenario would not be out of reach.
- Scott Walker, the male Sarah Palin, minus the (greatly belabored) college degree. Walker makes right-wingers go tingly, and his popularity in Wisconsin is truly inexplicable (admittedly it’s nowhere close to the 80% that Palin at one point pulled, but considering the poor results of his actions, it’s amazing it’s anywhere near 50%). But his ethics problems and lack of intellectual heft would make a jump to the national stage a challenge, to put it mildly.
- Ted Cruz, a man who seems to be hated by just about everybody, which is a bit of a problem when you undertake a venture where success is all about people liking you. He polls worst of all Republicans against Hillary Clinton and already has good name recognition. Which means he’d lose big time.
- Bobby Jindal, a man with so little charm, charisma or leadership ability that he’s been a punchline since delivering the first SOTU response to Obama, comes across as an overgrown Urkel, and had his governorship crushed by David Vitter and the unpopularity of his hyper-conservative ideas in Louisiana. Also, he once performed an exorcism. Seriously.
- Brian Sandoval/Susana Martinez/Nikki Haley: A minority or woman nominee would be in line with the conservative belief that the best way to overcome aesthetic and substantive minority disgust with Republican values and policies is through mere symbolism. But Sandoval is too moderate on cultural issues, Martinez has cooperated on Obamacare and has zero name recognition (and governs a state that is well outside any major media markets), and Haley is so poisonously unpopular that even South Carolina’s ultra-Republican lean might not save her in her fight for another term. I don’t see any of them getting near the nomination.
- Mike Huckabee: Can’t raise money. Has lost the ability to convey folksy religiosity like last time, now just mostly sounds like every other religious right crank ever to run for president. Money people in the GOP hate him for numerous reasons, thus the can’t raise money thing, which is not just a small problem. It said something about America that in 2008 his weight loss story was practically a hero point in his biography. Now he doesn’t even have that. He can make all the Chuck Norris jokes and play bass to every ZZ Top song ever made, it won’t make money magically appear in his account.
- Jeb Bush: Republicans can never quit the Bushes, as Matt Yglesias often says. But it’s worth noting that Jeb Bush has run for no office since 2002, and has already tripped up trying to position himself to deal with the new GOP base. He seems palpably rusty. The question is, is it like the first time Jake La Motta got fat in Raging Bull, after which he was able to get back into shape and fight again, or the second time when he turned into a pathetic punchline? The Bush name would be manna from heaven for any Democratic opponent, of course, and I have to imagine no great enthusiasm from Republicans to relitigate (as President Obama would put it) the ’00s.
At this point, maybe it does go to Marco Rubio after all. I don’t see how he doesn’t get another look in comparison to all these clowns.
Taking as read that Bill Kristol is evil and that he’s wrong about everything, the three legitimatish reasons you, a mainstream media organization, hire him to provide commentary are as follows:
- He’ll create “buzz”.
- He’ll inoculate you from charges of liberal bias. “Hey, we hired Bill Kristol, after all! You can’t say we’re liberal.”
- He has lots of sources in conservative politics and could thus bring valuable insights to your viewers.
The problem with Kristol is, while these might be true of some conservative commentators, they’re hardly true of Kristol. Point one has been tried, with his New York Times column from six years ago. He wrote there for a year and I have a hard time recalling anything he actually wrote at the paper, and they let him go after one year when his contract was up, which rarely happens with the Times op-ed page, though arguably it should happen much more often. Point two has also been tried many times, notably with CNN’s dubious hiring of Erick Erickson. The problem is that “charges of liberal bias” aren’t something you inoculate yourself against. This argument has become far too important to conservatives to ever think of modifying or giving up the argument that the media is blatantly and hopelessly biased against them. Too many peoples’ livelihood depends upon this being widely accepted on the right. Obviously, the basic premise of FOX News is that conservatives need their own media apparatus because of this bias, so that bias must continue to exist in order for FOX News to exist. If there were clear and transparent criteria for MSM outlets to meet to be deemed “unbiased,” and media outlets met them, how would FOX be able to continue to market itself that way? How would conservative talk radio? I get that media outlets highly value the impression that they are thoroughly unbiased and objective, but so long as the conservative media marketplace remains as lucrative as it is–and as trusted as it is among conservatives, which is to say nearly unanimously–they will not be able to get this from the right. Obviously, the best thing for these outlets to do would simply be to accept this as fact and simply try to report news as factually as possible, but in reality they have had a hard time giving up on the dream of regaining FOX viewers, hence stuff like Lara Logan’s embarrassing BENGHAZI! revelation that revealed nothing, and which only hurt CBS’s brand in news even more.
The third point requires a bit more analysis. On the surface, it’s true that Bill Kristol could bring unique insights to ABC’s viewers. Problem is, he’s a terrible commentator because he’s not disinterested. Kristol frequently uses “disinterested” commentary to push the causes of politicians he likes and that he’s invested in. Throughout 2007 and 2008, he wouldn’t shut up about Sarah Palin, though nobody much was interested in her until his longtime pal John McCain selected her for his vice presidential candidate. Kristol also managed to have one of his faves named the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012. Kristol has a habit of using theoretically disinterested commentary to push the interests of himself and his allies, which means that if he were to say on-air something like, “Tom Cotton is the future of the Republican Party,” informed observers would be forced to wonder whether this is because Kristol has been speaking to some of his high-level sources and getting the lay of the land, or that it’s because he’s a close friend and ally to Cotton and thus in his interest for Cotton to be thought of this way. (Also, betting on Tom Cotton being the 2016 Republican vice presidential nominee seems like a sound bet given recent history.) This essentially makes him worthless as a commentator on the conservative universe since he has proven over and over again that he’s incapable of avoiding conflicts of interests where his friends and allies are involved, and since he’s terrible at commentating about mainstream politics, you have to ask yourself why ABC would hire him. One suspects because he’s part of the politics “club” in D.C. and thus automatically worth hearing from in the minds of media executives, in which case it’s hard to believe their whole edifice is crumbling.
TPM quotes the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver trippin’ balls again:
“We have an increasingly lawless presidency where he is actually doing the job of Congress, writing new policies and new laws without going through Congress. Presidents don’t write laws, Congress does,” Ryan said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Jonathan Bernstein rebuts (this flavor-of-the-month argument, if not Ryan specifically) in Obama’s Radical Adherence to the Constitution:
[...] at least so far, nothing that Barack Obama has done even hints at significantly upsetting the normal balance. Which doesn’t mean that he’s colored inside the lines every time; if he hasn’t, however, that’s what the courts are for (although Ornstein wonders if conservative judges will just wind up acting as partisans).
Still, as Ornstein says, overall “Obama is well situated in historical precedent to use his executive power.” Basically, it’s pretty simple. In broad outline, Obama can use executive orders and other executive action because presidents have always had the ability to do so. Claims to the contrary are either ignorant of the Constitution as it is written and as it’s been lived for over two centuries, or (in the case of those who clearly know better) just plain dishonest.
I don’t know why this lie, the lie of the Lawless Obama Presidency, pisses me off more than anything else that comes out of the Wurlitzer. Maybe because Cheney’s shadow government is still so fresh; maybe because it just plain sounds like incitement to violence, to revolt.
Either way, I’m calling bullshit.
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