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November 30, 2010

Cantor Urges 'Open Mind' On VA Legislature Plan To Blow Up The Constitution | TPMDC

He goes even beyond the reactionary conservatives who "love the constitution, they just hate the system of government it creates" to disliking the founding principle of of checks-and-balances between the three branches (legislative, administrative and judicial) to add a fourth extra-judicial system by which state legislatures could repeal fully constitutional federal laws:

Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is part of a class of Republicans who say they want to change the country fundamentally -- and to that end, Cantor isn't dismissing a plan by legislators in his home state of Virgina to blow up the Constitutional system and replace it with one that would give state governments veto power over federal laws.

For several weeks now, conservative legal circles have been buzzing with Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell's plan to amend the Constitution so that a 2/3 vote of the states could overturn overturn any federal law passed by the Congress and signed by the President. Howell first floated the idea in a September Wall Street Journal op-ed he co-wrote with Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett.

via tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com


Re: Why America Won't Buy Palinism

... like so many now purporting to represent conservatism, there is, behind [Sarah Palin's] faux awe before the constitution, a contempt for the restraint and dignity a polity's institutions require from its leaders.

There is no maturity here; no self-reflection; no capacity even to think how to appeal to the half of Americans who are already so appalled by her trashy behavior and cheap publicity stunts. There is a meanness, a disrespect, a vicious partisanship that, if allowed to gain more power, would split this country more deeply and more rancorously than at any time in recent years. And that's saying something.

via andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com

And that blistering comment came from a conservative commentator (Andrew Sullivan).  To which someone responded:

... maybe the reason, that Republicans have been, for a long time, the natural minority party in the United States: they are willing to dismiss large chunks of the population -- of American citizens -- as not real Americans.  Not all Republicans, not all the time, but plenty of them, including their leaders, enough of the time. 

Sarah Palin is the candidate of those Republicans, the Republicans who either believe in "real America" or are willing to exploit those who do.

via plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com

November 23, 2010

How the Midterms Tilted the GOP Primary Battlefield

I think this is true, so far:

The key effect of the midterm campaign was psychological. The conservative base of the Republican Party, which now calls itself the Tea Party movement, is fully convinced that the conventional wisdom holding that trans-partisan appeal and "moderation" are the keys to electability is a total crock. After all, the Republican Party just moved aggressively to the right after two straight defeats, and proceeded to rack up a historic victory. This is precisely the formula conservative activists have been touting for over four decades. Now that they've been vindicated, it's most unlikely they'll want anything less than a fire-eating conservative as their presidential nominee in 2012. In particular, those polls showing that a candidate like Sarah Palin is a sure loser in a general election will be dismissed as elitist BS designed to keep the RINO establishment in the driver's seat.

via www.thedemocraticstrategist.org

The political center and partisanship

Adam Green makes the point that,

The reality is that the [political] "center" is not an ideological place but a political one, defined not by the nature of a specific policy but the political positioning of the right and left poles of debate. The reason why Democrats didn't produce a more liberal [healthcare reform] bill is because the coalition of preening centrists needed to move right every five minutes in order to locate themselves in the "middle" between a GOP sprinting to the right and a left willing to take major steps in the same direction.

via www.prospect.org

The other problem comes from our use of a left-right continuum with swing voters positioned in the "center".  While there are true moderates that are center-left or center-right on issues, the thing that turns close elections is swing voters that I would argue are neither right, left or center, they are largely volatile, late-decider, low-information voters not reflecting a strong political position of any sort: not some notion of center but emotionally reactive to circumstance.  And with almost a revulsion of political parties: they hate political parties because of their strong beliefs and tribal cohesiveness, not necessarily because of what they want to accomplish.

For example, an election day poll showed that,

The economy was by far the dominant issue. Democrats were rebuked for the failure to create jobs, but there is little sign that voters embraced the conservative agenda or ideology.

via www.ourfuture.org

That is, reacting to economic woes, they weren't seeking some ideological difference, but sending a message of frustration which can only be done by blaming those in power at the time.

November 10, 2010

Re: White House Gives In On Bush Tax Cuts

Not surprised. But disgusted.

President Barack Obama's top adviser [(David Axelrod)] suggested to The Huffington Post late Wednesday that the administration was ready to accept an across-the-board continuation of steep Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthiest taxpayers.

via www.huffingtonpost.com

Maybe someone can explain to me why the Democrats in Congress couldn't have put together a middle class tax cut and let Republicans either (a) fail to amend it to give goodies to the rich or (b) have killed it via filibuster and it be their fault middle class tax cuts were cut?


November 06, 2010

Clip: Democrats didn't lose the battle of 2010. They won it.

The big picture isn't about winning or keeping power. It's about using it. I've made this argument before, but David Frum, the former speechwriter to President Bush, has made it better. In March, when Democrats secured enough votes to pass the bill, he castigated fellow conservatives who looked forward to punishing Pelosi and President Obama "with a big win in the November 2010 elections." Frum observed:

Legislative majorities come and go. This healthcare bill is forever. A win in November is very poor compensation for this debacle now. … No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the "doughnut hole" and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents' insurance coverage?

Exactly. A party that loses a House seat can win it back two years later, as Republicans just proved. But a party that loses a legislative fight against a middle-class health care entitlement never restores the old order. Pretty soon, Republicans will be claiming the program as their own.
... [Obama, Pelosi, and their congressional allies ] risked their jobs—and in many cases lost them—to pass the health care bill. The elections were a painful defeat, and you can argue that the bill was misguided. But Democrats didn't lose the most important battle of 2010. They won it.

via www.slate.com

November 05, 2010

Clip: More on the Wealthy Poor and a "Fair" Society

The chart below conveys the central point: people think the distribution of wealth is more equal than it actually is; and they think it should be much more equal than their already unrealistically-equal notion of its current state. Eg: the top 20% of the US wealth distribution actually controls nearly 85% of total wealth; people think the top 20% controls under 60%; and they think it should control just over 30%


Similarly: people feel that the bottom 20% of the economic pyramid "should" have about 10% of the total pie; they think it actually has about 3% or 4%; in fact, its share appears to be too small to show up on the chart.

via www.theatlantic.com

Clip: Robert Reich: Why Obama Should Learn the Lesson of 1936, not 1996

Obama shouldn't be fooled into thinking Bill Clinton was reelected in 1996 because he moved to the center. I was there. Clinton was reelected because by then the economy had come roaring back to life.


... For the next two years Republicans will try to paint Obama as a big-government liberal out of touch with America, who's responsible for the continuing bad economy.

Obama won't be able to win this argument by moving to the center -- seeking to paint himself as a smaller-government moderate. This only confirms the Republican's views that the central issue is size of government, that it's been too large, and the economy can improve only if it's smaller.

On the Republican playing field, Republicans always win.


Obama's best hope of reelection will be to re-frame the debate, making the central issue the power of big businesses and Wall Street to gain economic advantage at the expense of the rest of us. This is the Democratic playing field, and it's more relevant today than at any time since the 1930s.

The top 1 percent of Americans, by income, is now taking home almost a quarter of all income, and accounting for almost 40 percent of all wealth. Meanwhile, large numbers of Americans are losing their homes because banks won't let them reorganize their mortgages under bankruptcy. And corporations continue to lay off (and not rehire) even larger numbers.


... The relevant political lesson isn't Bill Clinton in 1996. It's Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936.

... FDR shifted the debate from what he failed to accomplish to the irresponsibility of his opponents. Again and again he let the public know whose side he was on, and whose side they were on. Republicans stood for "business and financial monopoly, speculation, and reckless banking," he said over and over.

And he made it clear they wanted to prevent him from helping ordinary Americans. "Never before have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today," he thundered. "They are unanimous in their hate for me -- and I welcome their hatred."





via www.huffingtonpost.com

Clip: Obama's Top Priority Must Be Jobs, Not Republican Appeasement

If Obama heads into 2012 with double-digit unemployment, he will lose. End of story. Voters have a terrible view of Republicans, and they just sent over 60 new Republicans to Washington because Obama didn't bring down the unemployment rate. Those results prove that Democrats' backs are already up against the wall on 2012. Fixing the economy takes time, and we need strong, serious action as soon as possible, or we are headed for political calamity.

...Showing that they can work with Republicans won't save Democrats in 2012. Only real economic results will. Aggressive PR about how you really actually did fix things won't convince people who are out of a job or in foreclosure. They know the economy still sucks, and even worse, they know you're not telling the truth.

...So Obama has to fight hard for policies that actually bring the unemployment rate down, and he must be willing to defend his policy proposals from Republican attacks, making a clear moral case for why spending to support jobs is a good idea. Republicans know that they can win the White House in 2012 by simply blocking Obama and letting the economy fall apart. They'll do it. They already have. Obama has to hold Republicans rhetorically accountable so they fear the electoral consequences of obstruction enough to vote in favor of policies that actually work.

via www.ourfuture.org

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