Archive for September, 2015

From Noam Scheiber in the New Republic, March 5, 2013 (on the occasion of yet another budget “negotiation”):

I have a confession to 
make: I’m a big fan of John Boehner. One of his very few, it turns out. The White House complains that Boehner’s near-total ignorance of policy makes him impossible to negotiate with, and that it’s pointless to deal with him anyway, since he exerts zero control over his members. Pundits deride him as strategically inept, constantly backing himself into corners from which there’s no obvious escape. Even conservatives have lost their patience at times: Washington Examiner columnist Byron York recently called Boehner’s message on sequestration—the $85 billion in automatic, across-the-board budget cuts that kicked in Friday—”astonishingly bad.”

To which I say: Yes! Boehner is goofy, poorly informed, and frequently incoherent. He often sows confusion among the very people he’s supposed to be leading. But despite this—or perhaps because of it—he has been remarkably effective at saving the Republican Party from complete self-destruction. Through heroic improvisation, he’s avoided the global economic apocalypse House Republicans are so intent on provoking.

Under the circumstances, Boehner has, in fact, been a raging success. I hesitate to call him “sophisticated” because that would imply a level of self-awareness and reflection I’m not sure he’s capable of. But the man’s instincts are damn-near impeccable.

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From Politico:

TALLAHASSEE — In a private gathering during last month’s Republican Party of Florida quarterly meeting, state Rep. Janet Adkins told a group of North Florida GOP activists that the key to defeating Corrine Brown, a black Jacksonville Democrat, is boosting the number of black prisoners in her district.

“You draw [Brown’s seat] in such a fashion so perhaps, a majority, or maybe not a majority, but a number of them will live in the prisons, thereby not being able to vote,” said Adkins, a Nassau County Republican, referring to black residents.

Those comments came during a closed-door meeting of the North Florida Republican caucus. POLITICO Florida obtained audio of her comments.

She called it the “perfect storm” for being able to defeat Brown, a liberal firebrand who has been in Congress for 23 years.

Her comments came after making sure no reporters were in the room.

“Let me give you inside ball game. Are there any reporters in here?” she said. “Any reporters? OK. So, inside ball game.”

Adkins directly addressed Danny Norton, the state GOP committeeman from Baker County, which includes a large prison population.

“You can actually, Danny, you — you can be the person that will help get rid of Corrine Brown,” she said.

There’s more in the article.

Conservatives can always be counted on to take the high road…

From Bush administration official Pete Wehner:

The message being sent to voters is this: The Republican Party is led by people who are profoundly uncomfortable with the changing (and inevitable) demographic nature of our nation. The GOP is longing to return to the past and is fearful of the future. It is a party that is characterized by resentments and grievances, by distress and dismay, by the belief that America is irredeemably corrupt and past the point of no return. “The American dream is dead,” in the emphatic words of Mr. Trump.

Pretty much says it all in one paragraph. What a depressing bunch of people. More in Chris Cillizza’s column, from which I appropriated the subject of this post.

Ari Fleischer “live tweets” 9/11

Posted: September 11, 2015 by watsonthethird in 9/11
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As he has for at least the previous two years, Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s White House Press Secretary, is “live tweeting” his day on September 11, 2001. The tweets are being posted roughly at the same as events unfolded during the day, and it makes for riveting reading.

You can go to Fleischer’s Twitter feed here. They appear in reverse chronological order, so you’ll have to scroll down to the tweet posted on September 10 at 7:11 p.m.:

Then start reading back toward the top.

The Daily Beast’s Olivia Nuzzi attended the anti-Iran deal rally yesterday on the Capital lawn. A few hundred people showed up to hear Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, Phil Robertson and Mark Levin. They are the true believers of the Tea Party.

An excerpt from her article, in which she reported on the people she met there:

J.D. Braun did not like what he heard.

Braun is large and bald and wears a long white Dumbledore beard and has tattoos on his forearms. His day job is manufacturing motorcycle parts for Harley-Davidson. He was trying to protest the Iran deal and listen to what he called the “common sense” speakers, like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, who were about to appear on a nearby stage and whom Braun supported with several buttons on his T-shirt.

But those goddamn hippies singing John and Yoko were making it hard to hear. Braun edged closer to the music, took a deep breath, and unleashed a powerful baritone.

“Aaaaaaaall weee are sayyyyyying… is shhhhhhut the fuck up!” he screamed. “Everybody! Aaaaaall weeeee are saaaayyyyying… is shut the fuck up!”

Braun’s taunt encouraged some of his fellow Trump/Cruz supporters, who soon chimed in. “Shame on you foolish pink-shirts,” one man said. “All you are saying is give bombs a chance to murder innocent people!”

What’s infuriating for someone like Braun is that the hippies are actually winning. The tragedy of being a right-wing activist in the age of Obama is that, despite the Tea Party successes of 2010 and 2014, you keep losing. Wednesday’s rally was scheduled the day after the fate of the Iran deal was sealed, meaning that in order to avoid embarrassment, perhaps the only thing left to do for the Tea Party is yell “shut the fuck up.”

It’s an entertaining read (with pictures, too!).

Speaking of Palin, I caught a bit of her speech. What the heck has happened to her? I remember her “coming out party,” as it were–the 2008 Republican Convention. Her speech there electrified the audience and sent shivers of panic down the backs of Democrats. Now? Her present day speeches are excellent examples of the importance of a good speech writer. But it isn’t just her words, it’s also they way that she delivers them. All I can say is, she must have had a lot of coaching before the 2008 convention. Too bad (for her) that none of it stuck.

*Update*

Even Glenn Beck has grown disenchanted with Palin.

“I’m going to say it,” he said on his radio program. I don’t care what Sarah Palin says any more. Sarah Palin has become a clown. I’m embarrassed that I was once for Sarah Palin. Honestly, I’m embarrassed. … I don’t know who she is any more, I don’t know what she stands for. I saw a clip of her talking to Donald Trump. What the hell is that? I don’t even know who she is any more.”

Well, they’re all clowns, but Palin is as good a place to start as any.

Honestly, you just can’t make this stuff up.

Some tidbits are leaking from the upcoming biography of Trump by former Newsday reporter Michael D’Antonio. Yesterday we learned that Trump “always felt that I was in the military” because attended a military-themed boarding school as a kid.

Today we have this:

Mr. Trump memorably told Mr. D’Antonio that “when I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same.”

“The temperament is not that different,” he said.

Kind of says it all, doesn’t it? Once a six-year old, still a six-year old.

Love the title of this short piece in New York magazine: “Scott Walker Finds Secret Cheat Code That Allows Him to Avoid All Campaign Questions”

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who has previously declined to have stances on birthright citizenship, evolution, whether being gay is a choice, and whether he would meet with Black Lives Matter organizers, discussed the philosophical underpinnings of his political apathy when announcing that he has no opinion on the migrant crisis in Europe.

ABC News asked Walker how he would respond to the massive influx of refugees from Syria if he were president today. He explained that the query was flawed. As he is obviously not president, Walker argued, there is no way that he would be able to answer that question. “I’m not president today and I can’t be president today,” he said. “Everybody wants to talk about hypotheticals; there is no such thing as a hypothetical” — a sentence that probably would have moved Socrates to set Walker’s pants on fire himself.

Not president today. Not president tomorrow. How did this guy get elected to anything?

50 years ago yesterday, the AP headline was, “Mississippi Suits Attack Vote Act”:

JACKSON, Miss., Sept. 7 (AP)–Attorney General Joe Patterson asked Mississippi courts today to keep off the voting rolls persons registered by Federal examiners under the new voting rights law.

He filed suits in the chancery courts of Leflore, Madison and Jefferson Davis Counties and said a similar suit would be filed in Jones County tomorrow. These are the four Mississippi counties to which Federal examiners have been assigned.

The suits set the stage for a local showdown on conflicted Federal and state requirements for voting.

In the suits, Mr. Patterson said the Federal voting rights law required county registrars to defy state law.

“The clears are on the horns of a dilemma,” Mr. Patterson also said. “They are put in the position of accepting these people registered by Federal registrars and violin state law.”

“These people” would be African-Americans that the good folks of Mississippi didn’t feel deserved the right to vote, because racism. Or the Bible. Or a principled stand. Or whatever.

It was ugly then. It’s ugly now.

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Give his guys some brown shirts already.

According to the news report above, “the fights came as the Republican frontrunner attempts to broadcast a more tolerant side.” While he’s saying that, his thugs are outside stealing and ripping up the banners of protesters, and cold cocking them in the face. There have been plenty of articles of late comparing Trump to fascists. I guess they were right. This is getting ugly.

Of course, Trump will be pressing charges against the guy who got smacked in the face. It’s just the way The Donald works. Brownshirts, indeed.

Per the New York Daily News:

A top security guard for Donald Trump smacked a protester in the face after the man chased him for snatching a banner Thursday, video shows.

The guard grabbed the blue sign that said “Trump: Make America Racist Again” — a play on the billionaire’s campaign motto — outside a press conference on the Donald’s new pledge of loyalty to the Republican Party, NY1 Noticias video shows.

Demonstrator Efrain Galicia ran after Schiller and appeared to reach for the banner and grab the guard from behind. Within seconds, the guard turned around and whacked him in the face with an open hand as a scrum of reporters snapped photos.

Galicia stumbled as another guard tried to restrain him, appearing to briefly put him in a stranglehold. Galicia fought back, grabbing at the second guard’s arms before the two yelled at each other outside Trump Tower.

A source familiar with the Trump campaign identified the first guard as Keith Schiller, Trump’s director of security and longtime bodyguard.

After the 10-second tussle, Galicia told reporters the guards are “just acting like their boss.”

“This man thinks he can do whatever he wants in this country, and we’re going to stop him,” Galicia said in Spanish.

He compared the incident to the ejection of Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from an Iowa news conference last week for asking Trump questions without being called on.

The News source said Schiller is the same guard who removed Ramos from the Dubuque event.

Republican strategist and commentator Michael Caputo said Schiller is “the kindest, most gentle man I’ve ever worked with.”

“But attack him from behind and you’ll definitely regret it,” Caputo said on social media. “A little advice: DON’T ATTACK HIM FROM BEHIND, IDIOT.”

Schiller is a retired NYPD detective and a U.S. Navy veteran, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He’s been with Trump for 16 years and was photographed restraining Vince McMahon of the WWE when he tried to attack Trump at a match in 2007.

Trump’s campaign said the guard was “jumped from behind” and will “likely be pressing charges.”

Is Scott Walker stupid or what? More to the point, does he think we’re all stupid?

Peter Suderman at reason.com writes about the sorry campaign of Scott Walker. Just a few months ago Walker was considered a top-tier candidate. Now he’s buried at the darkest part of the very deep bench. What happened? “Walker is running a pandering, cringe-worthy campaign marked by a consistent inability to clearly articulate, and stick to, his own positions.” How friggin’ hard is it to say what you believe in? (Especially when you are a conservative who’s convinced of his righteousness.) Apparently, it’s pretty hard. Unless, that is, your only concern is how you sound to the audience in front of you. You know, like a craven politician might do.

But Walker is no politician, at least according to him. No, he’s “just a normal guy.” Well, one who happens to have run for or held elected office for his entire adult life. Seriously, he claims he’s not a career politician. This is a man who first ran for office at the age of 22 and has held elected office since age 25. Now he’s 47. He’s been a politician since he became a grown up, for God sakes. He lamely claims, “A career politician, in my mind, is somebody who’s been in Congress for 25 years.”

No. A career politician is someone who runs or holds office for his entire adult life. I mean, is he an idiot? Does he think we are? It’s hard to believe he could be this clueless about what he is.

More from Peter Suderman about Walker’s “cringe-worthy campaign” and his inability to stick to his own positions:

Most recently, for example, Walker seemed to suggest that he was open to the possibility of a building a wall along the Canadian border in order to stop illegal immigration. He responded by saying that he’d been asked this question by people in New Hampshire, that the people asking the questions had “very legitimate concerns,” and that the idea of building a wall would be “a legitimate issue for us to look at.”

It’s not exactly a “damn right we should build a wall!” But Walker’s response clearly takes the idea seriously, and pointedly does not rule it out.

Yesterday, however, he claimed that the talk about it was “just a joke” and that he’s “never talked about a wall at the north.”

This is the Walker campaign playbook: Say something awkward or ill-advised, watch as the media swarms to cover it, then insist that there was never anything to see.

The same thing happened with Walker’s comments on birthright citizenship. Questioned on camera by MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt about whether he supported ending birthright citizenship, as Donald Trump has called for, he nodded his head and said “yeah, absolutely, going forward.” When Hunt pressed him further, “We should end birthright citizenship?” he nodded again and said, “Yeah, to me it’s about enforcing the laws in this country.”

A few days later, when asked about it again, he shifted course by explicitly declining to take a position. “I’m not taking a position on it one way or the other,” he told CNBC’s John Harwood. Yet just a few more days after that, he did take a position, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that was definitely not in favor of ending birthright citizenship.

That’s three different positions in the space of week—and yet when asked about the shifts, a campaign spokes erson complained about efforts to “mischaracterize” his position.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to correctly characterize a candidate’s position on an issue when the candidate himself cannot seem to state it with any clarity.

This sort of flip-flopping, what might generously be called policy confusion, has dogged Walker’s campaign essentially from the moment it began. Back in March, Walker, in what was obviously a sop to Iowa voters, reversed his previously clear opposition to federal ethanol subsidies.

A week later, when asked about the change, he denied that he had flip flopped on the issue. Since then, his position appears to have shifted again, with Walker suggesting to The Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney that he supports ending the ethanol mandate after two years.

Even when Walker holds what looks to be a relatively clear position, he has a difficult time describing it. After his campaign released an imperfect but detailed-enough Obamacare replacement plan last month, he was asked about whether he can justify its redistributive effects. Politically speaking, the best answer to this entirely predictable question would have been that Walker’s plan is designed first and foremost to help the broad middle class.

Instead, as The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes, Walker offered a stumbling, semi-coherent invocation of “freedom,” “freedom,” and more “freedom,” and insisted that redistribution simply wasn’t an issue for his plan—even though it is, both in the sense that it changes the relative redistribution from how it is now, and in the sense that it puts its own alternative system of redistribution into place.