On Wisconsin!

2 05 2014

I haven’t lived in the Badger State since the late ’80s, but jeez, this is just embarrassing.





Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’

5 03 2014

It’s too soon for Barack Obama to say “fuck it”.

I know it’s too soon for Obama to say “fuck it”—midterm elections and all that—but is it too much to ask that he stiff-arms any Republican whinging about his “weakness” on Ukraine, and directs his press secretary to laugh at any and all questions regarding that whinging?

Yes, yes, there is a role for Congress to play in foreign policy, and Republicans have the right, even duty, to criticize the president if they think he’s going awry, but if these motherfuckers can’t be bothered to come up with anything better than Obama sux! , then fuck ‘em.

And if it’s too soon for that, then an eye roll will do.





Across the river to the Jersey side

5 02 2014

I’m still unwilling to weigh in in any sustained manner on the 2016 presidential race—let’s get thru the midterm elections first, shall we?—but I’m not not paying any attention whatsoever.

We’re at the stage that Jonathan Bernstein calls the “invisible primary”, when all of the action is behind-the-scenes and limited to a comparatively few people: potential candidates, fundraisers, high-level organizers and would-be staffers. If you’re not one of those folks, and if you’re not a political scientist, there’s no reason other than sheer cussedness (or masochism) to pay attention now.

Still, things do pop up. Or just plain ‘pop’.

I’m talking, of course, about Chris Christie.

I didn’t/don’t take him seriously as a 2016 candidate because I’m not taking anyone seriously: I’m not a part of the invisible primary and while I am a political scientist, American politics ain’t my field. Still, I’m not willing to poke out my eyes, so I have noticed one or two items about his possible candidacy.

I know some Dems were/are worried about him, but I think they were/are foolish to do so. It’s not that he wouldn’t be (or wouldn’t have been) a strong general-election candidate, but that the main work of shredding him would be performed by his fellow Republicans.

Yes, any decent Dem is going to do all of the opposition research and analysis, but chances are any dirt would be dug by the GOP, specifically, those who would run against Christie in the primary. Ted Cruz would be the one to ferret out corruption and Rand Paul would bring up issues of government spending; Rick Perry would talk about the difficulties of doing business in the Garden State and Scott Walker would hit him on union issues. And Rick Santorum. . . , well, christ, he’d do his Rick Santorum thing.

Could Christie make it through that gantlet?

I don’t know. It’s possible—primary voters have to pick the best available candidate, not the theoretically-best candidate—and it’s not as if Christie’s skills have suddenly disappeared. But his weaknesses have become manifest, and magnified, since the bridge scandal broke, and it’s not at all clear that his skills will be enough to overcome those problems.

Especially if his fellow Republicans insist upon drawing attention to those problems.

In the meantime, Christie’s problems shouldn’t matter to you if you’re not a) a New Jersey resident; b) an invisible-primary actor; c) a political scientist; or d) cussed and/or a masochist.

We now resume our regular programming.





Bridge over troubled water

9 01 2014

Since I haven’t formally embargoed any and all 2016 presidential discussion. . . .

I have no idea if this bridge-bollixing will do any long-term damage to Chris Christie, but if I were a Republican operative working for, say, Ted Cruz or Rick Perry, I’d be paying very close attention to the goings-on on the other side of the Hudson River.





It was sad, so sad

21 11 2013

Don’t do it, Harry! Don’t do it! You’ll regret it! Why, we might turn around and cram the courts full of Scalias and Thomases and. . .

Wait, what’s that you say? That that’s what we did, anyway? Weelllll, we’ll just. . .

BOOM!

~~~

Dave Weigel has some really nice observations at Slate, noting in particular that

They didn’t demand the change because they’re ignorant about the 2014 polls. If they lose that election, they’ll have given themselves a year to confirm judges and executive nominees. If they lose the presidency in 2016, they’ll have empowered a Republican to put judicial robes on whichever Federalist Society member he wants. But they expected Republicans to break the filibuster anyway. “I know that if there is a Republican president and a Republican majority,” Sen. Merkley said this month, “they will force up-and-down votes, because they demonstrated their commitment to that principle in 2005.”

Merkley’s opponents never really reckoned with his logic. Progressives did not consider filibuster reform a “risk.” They saw a way to kick over an impediment to majority rule, before Republicans took power and kicked it over themselves. They’re trading something that might have brought “consensus” for something that empowers the party that wins elections. And they’re fine with that.

Just so.

And now we see what happens next.





Knights in white satin

30 10 2013

More shit on whether Republicans should try to compete for the vote of African-Americans, with white folks saying, Why bother, black people won’t vote for us anyway.

Two (and a-half) things: One, while African-Americans are a reliably Democratic voting bloc, non-neglible percentages have voted Republican in national races. It’s also quite possible that African-Americans vote for Republicans for state and local offices.

Two, even if any decent strategy to woo African-Americans voters would likely fail, it might nonetheless work as a signal to non-African-American voters who won’t vote for candidates who they think are racist.

A-half: There’s nothing those GOP motherfuckers could do to get this pale pinko to vote for their presidential candidates, obviously, but most white folks who aren’t racist also aren’t socialists, so Republicans do have a shot with them—but only if they can convince those skeptics that the GOP isn’t, in fact, racist. Appealing to rather than disdaining African-Americans might help with that.

But, whatever: it ain’t my party.

(*Update* Okay, so that added link doesn’t really support my specific point—not that it contradicts it, either!—but it’s such a pretty, pretty chart. . . as is this one.)





Did you hear the falling bombs

17 10 2013

Yet another genius pundit:

If he can split the Republicans in the House, essentially, he regains control of the two houses of Congress and he might be able to enact his agenda. I think that’s what he’s up to,” Krauthammer said.

He added, “I think Obama’s long game has always been, if he’s going to pass his agenda in the second term, where he doesn’t control the House, he has to fracture the Republicans in the House and by rubbing it in or by antagonizing conservatives, he’s going to help in doing that.”

To which I can only say: if only.

President Obama is a smart and able president, and one who certainly thinks beyond the electoral cycle (see: his work regarding nuclear weapons proliferation), but Krauthammer’s glowering take on Obama’s “long game” should be treated with the exact same seriousness as the Sully-dream of him as “eleventh-dimensional chess-master”, i.e., not at all.

What also should not be taken seriously: that the GOP will disappear and/or a nationally-viable third party will emerge in the next decade. Republicans continue to do well at the state level, and the Tea Party, while damaging in some ways at the national level, are unlikely either to get stronger (and thus more damaging) or to leave the Grand Old Party altogether (and if they would, that would likely mean the end of the TPers rather than the GOPpers). Insofar as they turn off independents from the party, they add a few bumps to the 2016 presidential electoral road, but to a deft politician (i.e., not Ted Cruz), they are merely bumps.

Republican puritans make politics more difficult—to say no negotiation, ever, is to repudiate a central function of politics—and thus inflict real harm on the country, but given that they’re unlikely to wreck the GOP, they’re certainly not going to wreck the US of A.

Which is why I have no problem encouraging ruthlessness on the part of the Dems. Politics does benefit from some degree of generosity, but when you know the other guy if given half a chance would stab you in the face, you’d be foolish to hand him a knife.

No, go ahead and twist your own blade. They can take it.





You’ll meet an army of me

16 10 2013

Remember this?

Image by Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

One of the reasons I like this photo is that, as I’ve mentioned before, it gives nightmares to all the right people.

I thought of this in response to this bit from the geniuses at NBC:

The GOP’s lost year: No matter the fallout, this is pretty clear: Almost a year removed from the Obama-Romney presidential election, 2013 has been a lost year for the Republican Party. Has it improved upon its image problem? Nope. Has it fixed its shortcomings with women and minority voters? Nope. Is it in a stronger place than it was in Oct. 2012? No way. Perhaps more than anything else, the GOP remains blinded by the health-care law — and by President Obama himself (who will never run for office again). Indeed, in some ways, you could see this entire shutdown/debt ceiling debate over the president’s health-care law as a replay of the House GOP’s impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998 — a last-ditch fight against the term-limited incumbent. The good news for the Republican Party is that the Clinton impeachment is a reminder that its problems can be fixed. After all, the GOP won the White House just after Clinton’s impeachment. (emph added)

Coupla’ things: One, while the GOP did take over the White House in 2000, its “win” was. . . arguable. It lost the popular vote and was greatly helped by both poor ballot design in Florida and a Supreme Court operating at less than peak wisdom.

Two, Al Gore ran away from Clinton, who, arguably, could have helped him. Gore was more freaked out by Clinton’s terrible behavior than the voters, a freak-out which prevented him from making use of Clinton’s considerable political skills.

Three (albeit a very minor point), Chuck Todd, et. al., overlook the fact that in the election after the shutdown, Clinton was re-elected. Yes, he probably would have been re-elected anyway—incumbency advantage—and the shutdown occurred much closer to the elections than this one, and I can see why they chose to compare the impeachment to the current debacle (GOPpers behaving badly), but still.

And four, a point which leads me to include the pic of thundering Hillary, the pundits seem to think that the GOP’s gibbering will end with the end of the Obama administration—not considering that another Democratic president—say, a female one—might not lead to what little brain matter remains to boil away completely.

The fever will not break; it can only be broken.

~~~

h/t Andrew Sullivan





Climb in the back with your head in the clouds

30 09 2013

As an underemployed political scientist with too many opinions to count, I really should have something to say about the whole shitty impending government shutdown (possibly/likely to be followed by a truly catastrophic debt default) and meth-heads on the floor of the Congress who are so wasted on the the fumes of an ressentiment-contaminated ideology that they think the first is a good idea and the second no big deal—BUT. . . I can’t.

I just fucking can-not.

Jesus H. Christ.





State your peace tonight

16 08 2013

I’m not a Republican—you’ve sussed that out, haven’t you?

A civic republican, yes, but GOPper? Nope.

Still, as much as I’m not a GOPper, I nonetheless believe that the US’s 2-party democracy needs two functional parties—that is, two parties prepared to govern—and that the Republican Party’s descent into madness is bad for us all.

Thus, as much as I’m not a Republican, I’m very glad that there are Republicans who are unwilling to leave their party to the nutters.

So, yea to North Dakota Rep. Kathy Hawken, R-Fargo:

Have you ever considered switching parties or a third-party option? 

Have I thought about it? Yeah, I have. But there are reasons that I am a Republican. When somebody tells me I’m not really a Republican, I say, “I really think I am. I’m not sure you are. I’m not sure how you define what it means to be a Republican.”

She’s a pro-choice moderate, so it’s not that much of a stretch for me to cheer her, but good for her for not giving up her seat (metaphorically) to those who want to push her out of it.

When I was younger I was frustrated by the ideological hash of the two parties—conservative Democrats, liberal Republicans: it made no sense! Put the lefties on one side and the righties on another, and let it all be clean and neat and clear.

Except politics is not meant to be neat and clean and clear; tidiness tends to work against politics. No, politics is a mess, and political parties which cannot take account of that mess are unsuited to governance.

So, to the extent that Kathy Hawken is keepin’ it messy in North Dakota: Good for her!








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