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I didn’t realize that Rand Paul signed onto the now-infamous Iran letter. A true man of principle. This seems applicable:

When I first heard about Senate Republicans’ letter to Iran, I figured it was a pretty stupid idea that mostly just underlined how weak their position was. It’s pretty poor politics as well. So this is hardly a surprise to me. What concerns me is that, in the long run, how Congress remains a viable institution if it is unable to exercise its prerogatives to declare and oversee wars initiated by the executive, but takes it upon itself to sabotage negotiations for peace. How Republicans intend to sell this stance to people not getting their id on, Fox-style…also a mystery.

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Jonathan Bernstein makes a fair point here:

Has Obama sometimes arguably overstepped his authority? Probably. He may have even extended it further than other presidents. I’m not really seeing any important extensions of presidential authority, but that’s not really what I’m saying here anyway.

What I am saying is that Republicans have used apocalyptic rhetoric to mount a series of attacks on Obama for exercising the powers of his office in perfectly ordinary ways.

Look, we need the out party to be tough on the White House. That’s part of how the system works. But instead, Republicans have spent most of the last six years reacting to fantasies, and ignoring their obligation to do the hard work of finding real abuses. It really is a disgrace.

Then again, turning the IRS business into an organized conspiracy to destroy conservatism and making Benghazi! into Obama’s Watergate have paid some big dividends in keeping the base worked up. They’ve not done much of anything to harm Obama outside the bubble, but the sort of work needed to find the sort of substance that would hurt Obama with non-FOXers would be a needless expense from much of the right-wing media when spinning paranoid fantasies gets the viewers in there just fine, and it is work that they’re ill-equipped to even attempt–according to Gabe Sherman’s book on Ailes and FOX News, they jettisoned all their actual reporters in 2012.

That’s just it: the political benefits of IRSGhazi! were negligible, probably even a net negative when considering the opportunity cost of not pursuing something potentially more damaging. But the benefits to conservative media were huge. Guess who wins in today’s GOP?


I’ve no idea how one would go about proving this, but I’ve often wondered how much a pure “Silent Generation” explanation of modern conservatism would get you. If you just assume those folks have on the whole always been reactionary, it sort of makes sense: the late ’40s and ’50s were when both were just starting to show up on the radar; gradual increase until they became the fat center of the population curve in the 1980s, followed by a palpable dip in influence in the 1990s before they became old folks and reasserted themselves (because old folks vote, you know). This is about as oversimplified as it gets but it does happen to fit the facts. It would be surprising if this wasn’t a part of the story of conservatism, the question is, how much a part?

If this was/is a big part of the story of conservatism, then it basically has two implications: (1) that the tough-on-crime, hawkish, neolib DLC pivot was completely hopeless and trying to solve an unsolvable math problem, and (2) that within a decade we’re going to see some interesting changes in the political outlook here.

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As we wait for the most horrible Congress ever to get onto the business of making us all grit our teeth, it’s worth going over to the font of all knowledge to be reminded exactly how few states have same-sex marriage bans left in action. This is genuinely unusual in a political environment where issues seem to never actually go away, let alone ones that a decade ago were considered by many to be basically life-and-death. Now they fall and nobody really cares. The Right basically gave up on this from the top-down, and the Left has come to regard all this as a foregone conclusion, so the individual bans going away is merely a formality.

What’s interesting to me about this is that it shows just how powerful the conservative media is in GOP politics. Their power of emphasis is so strong that, a decade ago, they managed to convince huge numbers of people that Western Civilization depended on these bans. And with a complete withdrawal of that emphasis, that same issue can become politically irrelevant. This is why I’m really interested in seeing what a presidential run by an absolutist on this like Mike Huckabee will do to this calculus. After all, ignoring the subject has worked well for elite Republicans who want to mix in gay-friendly circles, but it’s far from clear that there’s no constituency left to oppose SSM. Will Republicans be forced back into a more active opposition by having him (and perhaps others) out there on the hustings? Will that have a negative impact on the GOP’s image? It should be interesting to watch.

Pictured: NY Times Columnist Ross Douthat. He once wrote that the Times Square Mosque opponents had a morally correct case. People, for some reason, continue to take him seriously.

Earlier last year, I was wondering if 2014 was going to have another “9/11 Mosque” and what it might be. Remember that? Remember that supremely critical issue that Republicans made an enormous deal out of right up until the day after the election, where all interest in it petered out? I thought ISIS was initially going to fill that gap, but no. It was ebola, which truly has to qualify as just about the stupidest overreaction to a nearly nonexistent health risk ever. Until the election ended, at which point, the efforts made by qualified professionals became perfectly adequate, no need to fear.

As always, attacking the “mainstream media” needs to be done with some care, as there are still plenty of people in that apparatus doing fine work. But a systematic view shows an alarming susceptibility to right-wing fearmongering that Democrats need to confront at key times. Unfortunately there are still far more Bruce Braleys in the Democratic Party than Elizabeth Warrens, i.e. people who seem to have Sorkinian views of the media outnumber the pragmatists. But that’s changing.

Carly Fiorina is going to run for president. Seriously.

I have no comment, but I feel like this chart needs to be posted:

A record of success!

A record of success!

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