Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn will seek to offset federal aid to victims of a massive tornado that blasted through Oklahoma City suburbs on Monday with cuts elsewhere in the budget.> more ... (0 comments)
Not content with having just jumped the shark, Rick Perry now seeks to vault the entire damn ocean:
This election is about stopping a president of the United States and his administration that is abusing the Constitution of this country, that is putting America on a track to bankruptcy. It is a powerful moment in Americans’ history, and you are on the front lines. This is Concord. This is Omaha Beach. This is going up the hill realizing that the battle is worth winning.
I’m halfway tempted to ignore this–Perry’s campaign has had the stink of desperation on it so long that it’s hard to remember it any other way, and this is just another burst of the extremist nuttery Perry seems to think his his ticket back into the first tier. But I can’t help it, this is just so damn annoying! Are we really at the point where presidential candidates are going to start implying their opponents are fascists? Apparently. So I had to look at this quote for a while to figure out why it bothers me so much, aside from the Godwin’s Law violation, until I realized that Perry has actually mixed his metaphors here. According to Orwell, this is typically a sign that he doesn’t care about what he’s saying. And I think that is what annoys me the most–it’s one thing if Perry were to imply Obama is a fascist in some sort of heat of passion. Maybe you say something under those circumstances you otherwise wouldn’t. But this is just tossed-off rhetoric that even he doesn’t care about, and yet another line is crossed because Rick Perry is just going through the motions. What a guy.
Anyway, I really hope Perry drops out after tonight’s caucuses. Over the last month they’ve run a campaign worthy of the unbelievably poor polling numbers they’ve earned, just unrelentingly obnoxious to a distinctly greater extent than any of the other campaigns so far as I can tell. And it hasn’t had any effect on their position, thankfully. I hope Perry leaves the race in shame, and that the fail parade follows him back home and kills his political capital in Texas, just like it did to Michael Dukakis. But at least Dukakis actually won something.
This gets it right:
But the nature of his anti-war stance is fundamentally different from that of liberal opposition to any given war. The tipoff is in his opposition to foreign aid, and his anti-United Nations position: he’s anti-war because the rest of the world just isn’t worth it. His is not the pacifism of the anti-war movement but the nativist isolationism of the America-Firsters; Paul is “to the left of Obama” the way Lindbergh was to the left of Roosevelt. (That may be true in a fairly literal sense, although I wouldn’t trust anything from Big Government without further corroboration.)
Similarly, Paul’s positions on civil liberties issues aren’t actually about civil liberties as we understand them; they’re about his opposition to Federal authority. (An opposition that is somewhat conditional, it should be noted.) For example, in talking about the death penalty, he makes clear that he opposes it only at the Federal level. His opposition to thePATRIOT Act, the War on Drugs, and domestic surveillance come from the same root as his opposition to the Civil Rights Act. He has no real objection to states violating the rights of their citizens; it’s only a problem if the Feds do it.
I find that a lot of people misunderstand Paul by trying to put him onto the standard, left-right spectrum. This fails because Paul is definitely off the spectrum–his point of view comes from a very non-mainstream set of assumptions and values, and while there is some overlap of his positions on both the left and the right, this does not make him “of” either one. I can understand the temptation to try to read one’s own point of view onto the positions in which one sympathizes with Paul’s, but it must be resisted. Andrew Sullivan in particular appears to have done exactly this, which was pretty much what he did with Paul Ryan earlier this year. This is different from accepting that the man’s worldview is pretty twisted but saying that he may be useful nonetheless in helping change public opinion in certain ways. Which is my position at this point in time, I think.
The debt-ceiling debate was a mess, and it probably did real damage to the economy. Some of the deals that Obama offered Boehner — which would have taken the Bush tax cuts off the table, and raised the Medicare eligibility age — would have dragged federal budget policy far to the right. But Boehner didn’t take those deals. And, in the end, the debt ceiling was lifted in return for $900 billion in discretionary spending cuts and the establishment of the trigger-backed supercommittee — a deal that ended up dragging federal budget policy far, far to the left.
The key here was that the supercommittee failed. That left two major events on the budgetary horizon: the spending trigger, which cuts $1 trillion from the budget, half of which comes from the Pentagon, and none of which comes from Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare beneficiaries, or assorted other programs for low-income Americans; and the scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts, which would raise taxes by almost $4 trillion. Both events are scheduled to happen simultaneously and automatically on January 1, 2013 — a dual-trigger nightmare for the GOP. And taken together, they are far to the left of anything that Democrats have suggested over the past year [...]
Finally, there was the scheduled expiration of the payroll tax cut and the expanded unemployment insurance benefits. On Thursday, Democrats and Republicans agreed to extend both for two months — and the expectation is that, after another ugly round of negotiations, they’ll both be extended through the rest of 2012. If that holds true, then in the 2010 tax deal, Democrats got about $4 of stimulus for every $1 of upper-income tax cuts, rather than, as it seemed at the time, $2 in stimulus for every $1 in upper-income tax cuts.
So, in 2011, there was no government shutdown, no default on the debt, and no contractionary spending cuts passed for this year or next year. In addition, 2010’s stimulus measures were extended into the beginning of 2012, and unless Congress and the White House come to an alternative deficit-reduction solution over the next year, the dual triggers will go off and we’ll see a deficit “deal” consisting of a bit less than $4 in tax increases for every $1 in spending cuts — and half of those spending cuts will fall on the Pentagon.
This may not be how the White House hoped the year would close out. They wanted a big deficit deal with the Republicans, and a more collegial, compromise-filled relationship. But the reality is, they begin 2012 with vastly more policy leverage than they had in 2011. And at this point, what does Boehner have to show for the brinkmanship of the last year, save for the discretionary spending cuts from the debt deal?
Funny how things work out, isn’t it? Republicans managed to stumble into a much worse (for them) status quo because of their inflexibility. Funny thing is, I suspect most Republicans are perfectly fine with endless CONFLICT that costs them tactically. After all, FOX News doesn’t tell them about what they lost.
There’s no question that a stalemate is dangerous for Democrats. For starters, it would hurt the economy, and in an election year that hurts the president no matter whose fault it is. What’s more, voters tend to blame presidents for gridlock whether it’s their fault or not. After all, once Republicans make a counterproposal (and they have: a conference committee to work out a one-year deal before the end of the year), they can plausibly argue that it’s the other side that’s not willing to deal. Both sides are keenly aware of both of these dynamics, and they definitely point in the direction of Democrats caving yet again.
But that’s exactly why I suspect Democrats won’t cave. At some point, whether it’s strictly rational or not, you simply have to let the other side know that you can’t be pushed around forever. And this is about the best chance Dems have had to send this message in a while. Nothing is going to get shut down if they hold out, the nation’s credit won’t be wrecked, and even if takes until January to make a deal it won’t have much effect on the economy. What’s more, House Republicans have shown weakness by making sure the Senate’s two-month deal is still on the table. If they’d voted it down, it would have been like ripping the steering wheel off the car, but they carefully made sure not to do this. And to make things even worse for Republicans, they’re plainly losing the PR battle over this. Even the Wall Street Journal isn’t on their side, and even Mitch McConnell is pretty disgusted over being double-crossed once again by the lunatics in the House GOP caucus.
It would be overly simplistic to state this as being the reason for Obama’s poll resurgence–better economic data probably has more to do with it. But it’s certainly less dispiriting coming from the White House than Plan B/NDAA/EPA smog rules, that’s for sure. As Drum says, standing tall on this one makes sense. It doesn’t hurt that House Republicans have no real argument for abrogating the deal–not wanting Obama to talk about it in the State Of The Union is dumber than dumb, since hardly anyone watches those anyway.
I’m very hesitant to start envisioning a 2012 campaign waged amidst a visibly improving economy–green shoots have been falsely spotted so many times that I just don’t dare to hope for it. But my guess is that even modest improvement would really scuttle Republicans’ chances, heightening some fierce, existing divisions that Republicans have unwittingly fostered. An abrasive, Tea Party-style fusillade would be an incredibly poor fit for that sort of electoral environment, something of which Republican elites seem quite aware of, hence their support of Mitt Romney. But they’re not just going to stop having a Tea Party because Mitt Romney says so. There are some very real divisions there that could be exploited, Nixon ’72-style. After all, that’s basically what the current fight is about now, an intra-Republican debate that everyone else views with bored contempt. Nobody cares about that kind of stuff.
Also, under those circumstances you have to figure that Boehner’s majority is completely fucked (and might be regardless). Something to give me a little hope for the future, at least.
Americans Elect, the self-proclaimed independent option for 2012, has been making progress on meeting ballot qualifications in several states, most recently California. Now, obviously, they aren’t going to win my state. Obama could drop 20% and still win the state. But it’s worth remembering that this lavishly funded group is just really freaking odd in every way. They have gotten $20 million–from whom, we don’t know. This is to put together some ticket for a third-party option in 2012. What kind of option? We don’t know. Why would anyone give money for that cause? Unclear. One has to assume the donors were given some information on what their money was going toward. Otherwise, why do it? I’m of the opinion that rich people generally aren’t much smarter than the rest of us, but I don’t think anybody’s that dumb. This is why I figure this is a “Draft Bloomberg” movement. The amount of money raised for such nebulous goals makes no sense, unless you figure that the people donating know exactly what they’re paying for. And the one guy who could credibly rustle up that kind of money, who would be taken seriously by the media, and who would absolutely run the sort of technocratic, wealth-friendly moderate approach that the money men would like–that’s Bloomberg. Gotta be. People dislike partisanship, but they’re not going to spend any money on it. But they might spend money on a Bloomberg candidacy. Dumb but plausible.
I find the entire thing insidious, actually. If Bloomberg wants to run, he should just say so and run already. Otherwise, he should not do it like before. Bloomberg simply has no broad appeal and little charisma, and while he might make Obama try a bit harder for centrist votes, and perhaps play spoiler in Florida (maybe?), that outcome seems like an utter waste of $20 million, a sum that could be put to much better uses than (I’m guessing) hedge fund managers trying to vent their anger about Obama. Right?
Weekly Standard on Ron Paul’s newsletter, via Goddard:
The Weekly Standard notes it’s these writings and Paul’s “decades-long promotion of bigotry and conspiracy theories, for which he has yet to account fully, and his continuing espousal of extremist views, that should make him unwelcome at any respectable forum.”
Now remember that the two top Republican candidates are a guy who believes and continually states that Obama went on an apology tour and a guy who has called the president an Affirmative Action President and a Kenyan anti-colonialist. Clearly, believing conspiracy theories and racial bigotry aren’t much of a disqualifier for GOP candidates. Admittedly, Ron Paul’s newsletter went far beyond those, and they’re hardly all behind him, especially on economic matters (remember the lurking threat of Ameros?). I say, let’s just be frank about this.
He’s been running some pretty rough ads in Iowa attacking The Professor. What Gives?
During 1996, Paul was re-elected to Congress after the most difficult campaign he had experienced since the 1970s. Because Republicans had gained control of both houses of Congress in the 1994 election, Paul entered the campaign hopeful that his Constitutionalist policies of tax reductions, terminating federal agencies, and curbing the U.N. would have more support than during the past. The Republican National Committee emphasized instead encouragement of Democrats to switch parties, as Paul’s primary opponent, incumbent Greg Laughlin, had done during 1995. The party endorsed Laughlin, including assistance from House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Governor George W. Bush, and the National Rifle Association. Paul responded by running newspaper advertisements quoting Gingrich’s harsh criticisms of Laughlin’s Democratic voting record 14 months earlier. Paul won the primary with assistance from baseball pitcher, constituent, and friend Nolan Ryan (as honorary campaign chair and advertisement spokesman), as well as tax activist Steve Forbes and conservative commentator Pat Buchanan (both of whom had had presidential campaigns that year).
The ads are pretty personal and seem to indicate that Paul is holding a grudge, but I fail to see how Nominee or even President Romney helps Paul. During most of the 2000s, nobody had a fig’s worth of interest in Ron Paul’s ideas. That only started after the Bush Administration had completely discredited itself and conservatives began to be receptive to an alternative viewpoint on the right. The Obama Administration has helped Paul’s reach broaden as well, some of his ideas have become more accepted among Republicans, and he’s been adding support for himself as well. But a President Romney would inevitably stall, if not reverse Paul’s gains by consolidating Republican support and running conventional GOP policies with some measure of competence. OTOH, another Obama term would probably help Paul, and a Gingrich candidacy (or, God forbid, presidency) would have to do the same, as Gingrich reprises many of the failed Bush policies that Paul made his rep inveighing against with far less competency. I don’t hate Ron Paul–I think he’s mostly a nationalist crank with admittedly a few redeeming characteristics–but the guy is such a narcissist as a political strategist. He can’t help himself.
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