Open Thread

We will never be royals.

91 replies
  1. 1
    Napoleon says:

    Speak for yourself.

  2. 2
    JonathanW says:

    Does anyone have good recommendations for good politics-oriented podcasts? I have a 50 minute commute to grad school 3 times a week, and I’d like to make at least some of that time more productive.

  3. 3
    srv says:

    Close enough. My great-grandfather was an indentured servant to the Czar.

    Coke-head Politician to resign today. Germany or Florida?

  4. 4
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JonathanW: Take up knitting.

  5. 5
    rikyrah says:

    Clinton Supporters Want Iowa To Want Her

    “You guys want a list. Iowans want a sense of engagement and
    conversation and dialogue like they got on the Obama campaign.” The super PAC takes the first of what they say will be many trips to the
    early caucus state.
    posted on January 27, 2014 at 7:48am EST

    by Ruby Cramer

    DES MOINES — By Saturday afternoon, Craig Smith
    was tired. His jacket was off, sleeves rolled up. He didn’t sleep much on Friday night. After a string of flight delays out of Washington and canceled connections from multiple airports, he finally napped during the snowy midnight drive from Chicago to Des Moines.

    The 55-year-old Arkansas native sat at the head of a table before a dozen Iowa Democrats in a brewery downtown. He was trying explain, to the fifth group that day, that “Ready for Hillary” is not Hillary Clinton’s

    “We’re not setting up offices,” Smith, a senior adviser
    to the group, said. “We’re not hiring staff. We’re not doing polling.
    We’re not buying TV ads. We’re not making policy pronouncements. We’re not endorsing candidates. We’re not the campaign.”

    “That’s not what we are,” Smith said.

    It was a common message Saturday, as he mostly explained, again and again, what the group is and is not.

    Afterthe meetings, the exhausted team declared the day a success. Attendees had been excited; had pinned “Iowans Ready for Hillary” buttons to their lapels; had smiled wide watching video clips from Clinton speeches; hadeven, at one point, broke into spontaneous applause and cheering at hermention.

    “If we build it, she will come,” said one of the
    meeting’s organizers, Bonnie Campbell, a former Iowa attorney general and Clinton administration appointee.

    But despite a sense of excitement over the specter of Hillary Clinton’s could-be campaign, the meetings revealed a tension between what an early primary state like Iowa wants and what a group like Ready Hillary can actually offer.

  6. 6
    Amir Khalid says:

    I live in a country with nine — that’s right, NINE — royal houses. That’s at least eight too many. Consider yourselves lucky.

  7. 7
    eric says:

    @Amir Khalid: Mitt has more than that….

  8. 8
    Tommy says:

    @JonathanW: I don’t know any off the top of my head, but try iTunes. I know most people think it is a place to buy music or TV shows but there are almost countless podcasts on any topic for free. I listen to them on sports, yoga, ambient music, and technology. Just not on politics.

  9. 9
    Amir Khalid says:

    By “royal houses” I mean royal families — you know, like the House of Windsor is a royal house.

  10. 10
    scav says:

    @Amir Khalid: At least you can work up a decent round-robin royal playoff or something with that many, get a little entertainment value out of them. Have office pools, decorate cupcakes in the team colors, I’m sure some terrible reality show could be squeezed out of the fringier elements . . .

  11. 11
    BGinCHI says:

    Royals would be better than Palins.

  12. 12
    rikyrah says:

    The Calculus of Hypocrisy: It’s Still a Lie Even If You Believe It

    I don’t trust the Republican Party. This goes beyond disagreeing with them on every single policy position they hold. As a party, they’re deceitful, manipulative, and wholly disingenuous. It’s not even a question anymore; it’s verifiable fact. Their brand is badly damaged and is about to become completely unsalvageable.

    I never bought into the post-modern notion of created reality, that all truth is subjective. In contrast, objective reality isn’t classified into strictly rigid forms Desecrates style. Objective reality doesn’t have to be something that’s true absolutely or universally only. That’s not to say there’s no such thing as a universal truth, but with our limited capacity for knowledge, finite perception, biases, and biological restrictions, having perfect knowledge is out of reach. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive toward truth. Something can be declared true or false based on a system of reason and use of fact-based evidence. It’s one of the hallmarks of the Scientific Method and a foundational principle of Western Civilization. Ideas and their subsequent implementation can be judged as better or worse using this standard. Without it, our biases, and superstitions remain unchallenged which in turn stifles progress.

    To use a simple historical example: we must declare that Julius Caesar is dead. Was he a tyrant removed from power by a group of doomed idealists, or was he unjustly murdered by men wishing to hang on to their own power? Is it perhaps a little bit of both? An event’s historical significance is debatable; it’s why historians still have jobs, but certain immutable facts aren’t. Today, Ceasar is dead and while that might not seem like much, it’s an unspoken, mutually agreed upon starting point. That debate rests within a historical space and while it might be altered, enlarged, or constricted, it cannot run on indefinitely.

    This is the rot within the Republican Party. Thanks to Karl Rove, the Architect, the GOP abandoned notions of objective reality in an effort to win elections. They’ve latched onto their own created delusion and show no signs of changing. If they can’t effectively message whatever reality they’re trying to create, then they simply change their position to be counter to the opposition. They’re not concerned with what’s actual. It’s about how they can bend actual to their will but their grip is weakening.

  13. 13
    rikyrah says:

    I love the New Sherlock.

    Simply love it.

  14. 14
    dr. luba says:

    @srv: My ancestors were serfs, to the Russians and to the Polish szlahta, the latter of which they helped to massacre in the 1700s.

  15. 15
    rikyrah says:

    Don’t call it a comeback
    01/24/14 04:06 PM—Updated 01/24/14 04:35 PM
    By Steve Benen

    Congressional Republicans haven’t been shy about their 2014 plans. The entire election-year strategy comes down to obsessive opposition to the Affordable Care Act – the party assumes the law is unpopular, unworkable, and an electoral albatross for Democrats nationwide. Republicans don’t need to govern, the argument goes, they just need to wait for “Obamacare” to implode.

    If party strategists worked on a Plan B, it might be time to dust off the file. As Greg Sargent noted this morning, “There are increasing signs that the GOP’s total war opposition to Obamacare is becoming tougher to sustain.

    Consider, for example, the latest enrollment news.

    The most recent data indicates that approximately 3.0 million people have now enrolled in a private health insurance plan through the Federal and State-based Marketplaces since October 1.

    With millions transitioning to new coverage already, we continue to see strong interest nationwide from consumers who want access to quality, affordable coverage. As our outreach efforts kick into even higher gear, we anticipate these numbers will continue to grow, particularly as we reach even more uninsured young adults so that they know that new options and new ways to help eligible individuals pay for their premium are now available, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

  16. 16

    @Amir Khalid: Nine houses? Let’s just hope Sauron doesn’t offer them any rings.

  17. 17
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @BGinCHI: Obviously you don’t follow baseball in KC.

  18. 18
    Tommy says:

    @rikyrah: I flat out love it as well. What I love more is they are showing you can have only three shows a year and make the quality of them like that of a $100M movie. HBO is doing that with True Detective, where there are a limited number of shows. The writers know how long they have to tell the story, they tell it well, and don’t keep the darn thing running for years and years and driving it into the ground.

  19. 19
    currants says:

    @srv: Canada?

  20. 20
    Punchy says:

    We will never be royals.

    Neither will he. Sigh….

  21. 21
    rikyrah says:

    Republicans discover their NSA fears
    01/24/14 03:15 PM—Updated 01/25/14 12:18 PM
    By Steve Benen

    Almost immediately after President Obama was elected, Republicans began changing their mind on a series of issues. GOP support for cap and trade, an individual mandate in health care, civilian trials for terrorist suspects, a payroll tax cut, the DREAM Act, and clean debt-ceiling increases, among other issues, quickly evaporated the moment Republicans realized the president agreed with them.

    But as Benjy Sarlin reports today, the Republican National Committee added to this list in rather dramatic fashion at their winter meeting.

    In a jarring break from the George W. Bush era, the Republican National Committee voted Friday to adopt a resolution demanding an investigation into the National Security Agency’s spy programs.

    According to the resolution, the NSA metadata program revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is deemed “an invasion into the personal lives of American citizens that violates the right of free speech and association afforded by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.” In addition, “the mass collection and retention of personal data is in itself contrary to the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”


    As a substantive matter, the RNC’s position is obviously defensible. Indeed, the party’s resolution, as adopted today, would probably generate quite a bit of support from liberals and many Democrats.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that as Republican reversals go, this one’s a doozy.

    During the Bush/Cheney era, Republican support for expansive surveillance and a sprawling national-security state was practically unanimous. This was the party of the PATRIOT Act, warrantless wiretaps, and a new FISA law that delivered broad, discretionary powers to the executive branch. Sarlin report added:

  22. 22
    rikyrah says:

    Republicans Are In Total Retreat As Obamacare Enrollment Skyrockets Past 3 Million
    By: Jason Easley
    Saturday, January, 25th, 2014, 1:48 pm

    The defeated Republican anti-Obamacare forces are in full retreat after ACA enrollment in healthcare plans surged past 3 million.


    800,000 people have signed up in the few weeks between late December and January 15. This surge in enrollment means that the administration is only 300,000 behind their original target of 3.3 million enrollees. Once the full numbers for January are released, it is expected that the ACA will not only be on target, but may be ahead of schedule.

    The mainstream media isn’t reporting this, but the ACA is turning into a huge victory for President Obama.

    Before leaving on their current vacation, Republicans signaled their defeat by voting to fund the healthcare law for 2014. Now Republicans like John Boehner and John McCain are completely dropping the repeal and only repeal ruse, and suggesting that the GOP needs to come up with its own healthcare alternative.

    It’s too late for alternative plans. The ACA is the law of the land. Millions of people have signed up. This isn’t a policy discussion anymore. Republicans can’t escape the fact that any alternative that they suggest will involve taking health insurance away from millions of people.

  23. 23
    ThresherK says:

    @JonathanW: Professional Left with Driftglass and Blue Gal.

  24. 24
    rikyrah says:

    McConnell redefines ‘irresponsible’
    01/27/14 08:00 AM

    By Steve Benen

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters following the weekly policy lunch of the Republican caucus on Nov. 19, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

    At some point over the next month or so, Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling or risk causing catastrophic economic consequences. There are no other options: either lawmakers pay the nation’s bills or the United States defaults on its obligations, causing untold damage to the global economy.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), true to form, said on “Fox News Sunday” that it’d be “irresponsible” of lawmakers to simply pay the nation’s bills.

    “I think for the president to ask for a clean debt ceiling when we have the debt the size of our economy is irresponsible.

    “So, we ought to discuss adding something to his request to raise the debt ceiling that does something about the debt or produces at least something positive for our country.”

    It’s very hard to believe McConnell actually believes his own talking points. Indeed, it’s impossible. Earlier this month, Congress approved a bipartisan budget plan that funds the federal government. Just, two weeks later, McConnell is telling the world Congress won’t pay for the spending it just approved unless President Obama gives Republicans some kind of treat.

    It would be, McConnell suggested, “irresponsible” to avoid a debt-ceiling crisis.

  25. 25
    Amir Khalid says:

    Oh goodness, the British did that way back in the 19th century. But Sauron was defeated, eventually, and so were they.

  26. 26
    Tommy says:

    @rikyrah: It is working. I’ve said it before and will keep saying it. My plan I got through the exchange is almost $100 less per month and much, much better. My access is better and everything I might have to pay out of pocket is cheaper.

    As a male that is getting to my mid-40s, where I will need some preventive screenings/care, I can’t wait to see how that works. Clearly I don’t want to go in and find I have a problem, but there are going to be many that do and catch it earlier, where they might not have done it before.

  27. 27
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    “Irresponsible.” That word should turn into ashes in their mouths.

  28. 28
    dmsilev says:

    @Tommy: Maybe it’s just me, but so far anyway I think the third season is a step back in quality from the second. Still good, but just not quite as good.

  29. 29
    russell says:

    you can call me queen bee

  30. 30
    rikyrah says:

    Paul, the Clintons, and the ‘war on women’
    01/27/14 08:45 AM
    By Steve Benen

    A few too many Republicans have an unfortunate habit when confronted with criticism: they reflexively defect the criticism by attributing the misdeed to Democrats.

    When the GOP is criticized for wanting to slash Medicare, for example, they respond, “No, it’s **Democrats** who want to cut Medicare.” They’ve done the same thing on a wide range of other issues, leading Rachel to label this the “I’m rubber, you’re glue” tactic.

    But perhaps no issue helps capture the problem with the GOP strategy better than the “war on women. Last year, Republicans began arguing in earnest that they’re not the ones waging a war on women; Democrats are. For proof, Republicans began pointing to specific, individual men embroiled in scandals: Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, and Bob Filner.

    Yesterday on “Meet the Press,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) pushed this even further.

  31. 31
    Tommy says:

    @dmsilev: I don’t disagree. I think they had a ton of production problems, like cause the guy that plays Sherlock was doing movies.

    I am just a huge Holmes fan (the books) and I think they do a lot of things right. At the top of the list is the use of his smart phone. Where you see him figuring things out and they make you think along.

  32. 32
    Biff Longbotham says:

    @dr. luba: Never thought the opportunity would come up to say this: “My ancestors might have ‘owned’ your ancestors.” Crazy world we live in, huh?

  33. 33
    rikyrah says:

    Fear of a ‘Progressive Kristallnacht’
    01/27/14 09:33 AM—Updated 01/27/14 10:02 AM
    By Steve Benen

    It’s not unusual to find a persecution complex at the heart of conservative ideology, but over the weekend, billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins took this to a level that bordered on self-parody. The Wall Street Journal published a letter to the editor from Perkins with a headline that said quite a bit: “Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?”

    Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich.”

    From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent…. This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent “progressive” radicalism unthinkable now?

  34. 34
    C.V. Danes says:

    Our royals will never be royals, no matter how much they fantasize about it.

  35. 35
    rikyrah says:

    Ted Cruz, the Republicans’ id
    01/27/14 10:13 AM
    By Steve Benen

    After Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appeared on “Face the Nation” yesterday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) seemed gobsmacked. “A lot of it’s sort of Alice in Wonderland,” Schumer said of Cruz’s rhetoric.

    It was a fair assessment, but there’s arguably even more to it. Host Bob Schieffer, for example, asked Cruz if there were any circumstances that might lead Cruz to support another government shutdown. The Teas Republican responded:

    “Throughout the government shutdown I opposed a government shutdown. I said we shouldn’t shut the government down, I think it was a mistake that President Obama and the Democrats shut the government down this fall. […]

    “Right now the Democrats are telling you that they want another shut down, because they think it benefits them politically. Why is it hard to understand that they forced the shut down when they think it benefits them politically.”

    Eventually, a slightly confused Schieffer asked, “Senator, if you didn’t threaten the shut down the government who was it that did?”

  36. 36
    rikyrah says:

    FEMA warned Christie administration that AshBritt contract could jeopardize federal funding

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency warned the Christie administration just days after Hurricane Sandy that its decision to award a no-bid contract to a politically connected firm to haul away debris could jeopardize maximum federal reimbursement for towns, The Star-Ledger has learned.

    For months, Gov. Chris Christie has dismissed critics who said his decision to give the Florida-based AshBritt Inc. a contract could add costs for taxpayers in 53 New Jersey towns that employed the firm.

    Christie and his staff also say FEMA all but endorsed the contract, which was “piggybacked,” or taken word for word, from a 2008 contract AshBritt had signed with Connecticut.

    But a letter sent to Christie by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) last month discloses the state was warned reimbursments could be at risk because of the contract.

    “I am writing today because FEMA officials have informed my office that they warned the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General shortly after the storm that the “piggyback” contract utilized by the state for debris removal presents problems that could put federal reimbursement to local government at risk,” Lautenberg wrote in the Feb. 21 letter, obtained under the state’s Open Public Records Act.

    Lautenberg added: “I urge you to take all the necessary steps to ensure that current and future debris removal contracts are in full compliance with federal procurement regulations.”

    FEMA strongly discourages the use of “piggybacked” contracts and subjects them to greater scrutiny, Lautenberg told Christie. As a result, he wrote, FEMA will determine whether AshBritt’s rates are reasonable and may penalize towns by cutting reimbursement if it finds the costs are out of step with the marketplace.

  37. 37
    Tommy says:

    @Biff Longbotham: It is a strange world isn’t it. There are a lot of things about my family I know a lot about, cause back until the 1860s we wrote a lot of letters. Those letters were saved. But others things are vague. I recall making a statement about slavery and my father was like Tommy, our family owned slaves. I was dumbfounded. How was it possible we “owned” another human? Or even more that I met people in “real life” that knew those people that owned them.

  38. 38
    scav says:

    I’m enjoying that this season of Sherlock is good different. It’s not just sticking with what worked before. Does everything work perfectly? nope. But there has been some brilliant stuff, especially among different members of the cast. Mycroft and Mrs Hudson especially, but as additions to the critical pair.

  39. 39
    rikyrah says:

    Brian Beutler (Salon): How the right destroyed itself: History, ideology and strategic blunders

    Republicans can’t moderate because their base won’t allow it. Even if they could, Democrats already beat them there

    Last week I wrote an article arguing that the impediments to conservative reform are structural — that the idiosyncrasies of the Republican base make appealing to moderate voters a zero-sum game for the party, and thus eliminates the incentive that, for instance, impelled Democrats in the 1980s and 1990s to cater to less-liberal voters.

    The article generated some interesting responses, which is fortunate, because they provide a jumping off point to explore the historical and political context of the GOP’s unique predicament.

    I think it’s fairly evident that Republicans’ increasing reliance on an older, whiter, more conservative constituency has trapped them into a number of non-negotiable policy dogmas. And I think they they bear most of the blame for their own circumstances. It’s an outgrowth of a conscious political strategy. They began the country and their party down this road, hoping, as Pat Buchanan famously put it, to “split the country in two and…take the bigger half.” They fused the low tax, low regulation agenda of wealthy elites to the worldview of religious conservatives. They birthed the Reagan Revolution, then milked it so vigorously that they’ve become unable to wean themselves from it more than 30 years later.

    But there’s more to the story than one losing bet…

  40. 40
    brettvk says:

    @JonathanW: Second the Professional Left. Slate has a weekly political podcast that I can’t listen to anymore, but it’s interesting if you want insight into the hipster-village contrarian viewpoint. Bob Cesca does a weekly linked at his blog. The New Yorker’s is always intelligent, but for some reason my podcatcher doesn’t always pick it up; iTunes is probably more reliable here, but I hate iTunes so i”m stuck with Juice. TWIB does two politically-themed shows, about 2 hrs each, Mon-Thurs.

    If you’re at all interested in history you should check out BackStory from Virginia public radio, and Revolutions, which is evidently a labor of love by a citizen-historian named Mike Duncan. He just finished up the British revolution and is about to start on the American one, and I think he’ll cover the French revolution last.

    And if you just like imaginative black humor, listen to Welcome to Night Vale.

  41. 41
    rikyrah says:

    Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz Openly Threaten The Country With Economic Catastrophe
    By: Rmuse
    Monday, January, 27th, 2014, 10:24 am

    By now, most people are familiar with Albert Einstein’s statement that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” and by his definition Republicans are truly insane. As the next debt ceiling crisis looms in less than a month, Republicans are once again threatening to hold the debt limit hostage in return for a ransom payment that is, beyond belief, the height of insanity. Or is it really a calculated move to put America on a course for an economic catastrophe unless the President pays the hostage demands that will be catastrophic? Thus far, Republicans have proposed letting the nation default on its debt and initiate an economic disaster in America and around the world unless President Obama does what they call the “responsible thing” and allow them to impose ruinous damage on the economy, kill millions of jobs, gut social safety nets, and hand the Koch brothers billions in dirty energy profits for a foreign corporation’s catastrophic project.

    On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell followed teabag leader, Ted Cruz, by demanding two unreasonable, and potentially calamitous concessions from President Obama before Republicans raise the debt limit to pay for Bush-Republicans’ two unfunded wars, unfunded tax cuts for the rich, and an unfunded and botched roll-out of their Medicare prescription plan. There is nothing insane about the Republican demand for a ransom payment for doing the job they were elected to do, because their intent is decimating the economy in precisely the same manner as the debt ceiling crisis of 2011 while exacerbating the income inequality strangling the economic life out of the great majority of Americans. McConnell said there is no way Republicans will fulfill their job requirement unless the President approves the KeystoneXL pipeline, and agreed with Ted Cruz that the debt limit must be tied to a structural mechanism like the Budget Control Act that fostered the austerity measures included in the sequester.

    First, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the debt limit must be raised by late February to avoid a credit default; an outcome that all economic analysts agree would be catastrophic for the U.S. economy. President Obama has made his position perfectly clear that he will not negotiate on raising the debt limit, but McConnell is sticking to his guns like Republicans did in 2011 that gave the nation austerity madness (the sequester) that will have devastating effects on the economy for nine more years. McConnell said, “I think for the president to ask for a clean debt ceiling when we have a debt the size of our economy is irresponsible. So we ought to discuss adding something to his request to raise the debt ceiling that does something about the debt or produces at least something positive for our country” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

  42. 42
    rikyrah says:

    Macklemore, White Privilege, and The Grammy For Best Rap Album

    This Sunday, the 56th Annual Grammy Awards will air on CBS. If Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist wins the Grammy for Best Rap Album, it’ll be both the best and worst night of Macklemore’s career. Macklemore is nominated for a total of seven awards, including Best New Artist, Song of The Year, and even Album of The Year. But no award this year is more important than Best Rap Album. Why? Because in that category he faces off against rap’s golden boy, Kendrick Lamar, and his universally acclaimed rap masterpiece, good kid, m.A.A.d. city.

    Despite the fact that there’s three other nominees, only Macklemore and Kendrick’s albums are also facing off for Album of the Year1, which means one or the other will certainly win Best Rap Album. (Sorry Kanye, Drake, and Jay Z). Kendrick is also nominated for seven awards, and Kendrick is signed to a major label, while Macklemore is an independent artist—so you might think Kendrick has a better shot at winning. But cynical rap fans know better.

    Kendrick is black and Macklemore is white. This, at a time when Uncle Scarface is warning that hip-hop is becoming whitewashed and the Grammy voters are debating whether or not Macklemore is even a rapper. If Macklemore wins Best Rap Album, it’ll be a classic example of white privilege at work. Should Macklemore win, it won’t be because he’s a better rapper than Kendrick (he’s not) or because he made a better album than Kendrick (he didn’t). It will be because he’s safe and white and the kind of guy out-of-touch Grammy voters could get behind. This is the double-edged sword for Macklemore. Winning Best Rap Album would no doubt make him a bigger star, but it would also, very likely, make him into a major rap villain.

  43. 43
    rikyrah says:

    How the right destroyed itself: History, ideology and strategic blunders
    Republicans can’t moderate because their base won’t allow it. Even if they could, Democrats already beat them there
    Brian Beutler

    Last week I wrote an article arguing that the impediments to conservative reform are structural — that the idiosyncrasies of the Republican base make appealing to moderate voters a zero-sum game for the party, and thus eliminates the incentive that, for instance, impelled Democrats in the 1980s and 1990s to cater to less-liberal voters.

    The article generated some interesting responses, which is fortunate, because they provide a jumping off point to explore the historical and political context of the GOP’s unique predicament.

    I think it’s fairly evident that Republicans’ increasing reliance on an older, whiter, more conservative constituency has trapped them into a number of non-negotiable policy dogmas. And I think they they bear most of the blame for their own circumstances. It’s an outgrowth of a conscious political strategy. They began the country and their party down this road, hoping, as Pat Buchanan famously put it, to “split the country in two and…take the bigger half.” They fused the low tax, low regulation agenda of wealthy elites to the worldview of religious conservatives. They birthed the Reagan Revolution, then milked it so vigorously that they’ve become unable to wean themselves from it more than 30 years later.

    But there’s more to the story than one losing bet. And I believe the historical backdrop supports the conclusion that there’s no space in U.S. politics for Republicans to undergo a DLC-style reform.

    A big part of the story here is that Republicans probably didn’t have much choice but to begin a long trek into an ideological cul-de-sac. Writing at Slate, Matt Yglesias noted that the political sorting the country’s undergone over the past few decades was in some ways foreordained by the more organic creation of coherent liberal and conservative ideological intellectual camps in the early-mid 20th century.

    That was the environment in which distinctly liberal and conservative activists began realigning the parties ideologically. Thus, nothing that happened subsequently in Republican politics — from the Southern Strategy to its enduring “47-percent” mindset — was arbitrary. It was built into both the party’s belief system and the professional incentives Republicans continue to face.

  44. 44
    rikyrah says:

    Sunday, Jan 26, 2014 06:00 AM CST
    Confessions of a former Libertarian: My personal, psychological and intellectual epiphany
    I was a Buddhist concerned with world suffering — and I could no longer reconcile my humanity with my ideology
    Scott Parker

    During college, a friend admitted he was confounded by my politics. He didn’t know how to reconcile my libertarianism with my other commitments. We were Buddhists and vegetarians, and I knew exactly what he meant. The tension centered around compassion. He wanted to know how someone concerned with the world’s suffering wouldn’t adopt a more compassionate political perspective.

    It was a reasonable question, one that I asked myself regularly. My stock answer was that while I supported compassion in the form of assistance to those in need, I opposed the clumsy government mechanisms we relied on for it, not to mention the veiled coercion behind them — where did anyone get the right to enforce their values at the barrel of a gun (meaning taxes), no matter how noble those values might be?

    Pretty by-the-books stuff. Libertarianism represented to me a matrix of freedom that could be collapsed onto any particular set of individual values. It was a simple formula to live by: If enough people value X, those people will pay for X, whether or not X = someone else’s interest. Government intervention was at best superfluous to this outcome and at worst distorting of the collective will (measured as the aggregate economy).

    When my friend offered the natural response, What if people fail to provide enough for those in need?, I resorted to the tried-and-true strategy of telling him the problem wasn’t a problem. The real problem was taxation or regulation or minimum wage or a failed incentive structure. If people were in need it was because government was preventing the market from providing for them.

    What’s interesting to me now is not why this kind of thinking is wrong but why it was once so attractive to me.

    I found my way to libertarianism in my teen years when I began reading some of its introductory texts and was attracted to the internal consistency of its policies. If you accepted that the individual was sacrosanct and the government’s only role was to protect the individual, everything else pretty much followed. Unlike mainstream liberalism and conservatism, which were constantly engaged in negotiations between social and economic freedoms, libertarianism was systematically clean and neat. So much so that I quickly stopped concerning myself with how ideas played out in the world. The ideas themselves were enough.

    As a kid, you learn to refute anyone’s “theory” by snidely mocking — “In theory, communism works.” When I was in college, I knew that communism did not work, even in theory, and I was happy to tell you why. Only libertarianism worked in theory.

  45. 45
    rikyrah says:

    The Real World Story of Human Lives Sacrificed at the Altar of Deregulation
    By: Dennis S
    Sunday, January, 26th, 2014, 9:15 pm

    I went to one of those “poisoned citizens” meetings the other night. It was a community meeting called by a couple of outside law firms that have just sued a number of corporate polluters for freely releasing their deadly environmental cargo upon unsuspecting and vulnerable neighbors. The community gathering was held in a Spartanburg, South Carolina hotel. Cannon’s Campground residents were there in force. They’re proud, hard working and contributing members of society and, thanks to Republican-enabling destruction of unions and wages, don’t have the proverbial pot to piss in. What a great number of them do have is cancer.

    Many of their number are sick as dogs with existing cancers, leukemia, tumors and other physical insults caused by living too close to a certain kind of manufacturing facility; the kind that pollutes your water, property, possessions and loved ones while the state of South Carolina, its elected representatives and the governor look the other way…and have for decades!

  46. 46
    jibeaux says:

    @JonathanW: It’s once a week, it’s irregular, and it’s more satire of current events than politics, but I love the oddities of The Bugle, which is John Oliver and his British friend Andy Zaltzman. You will possibly learn more about, say, Syria, there than anywhere else save maybe Al- Jazeera English.

  47. 47

    @Amir Khalid:

    Consider yourselves lucky.

    Luck don’t enter into it. We fought a long, bloody war to get rid of our royals, as royalist types have been trying to reimplement something like royalty ever since..

  48. 48
    PaulW says:


    Always bet on Florida.

  49. 49
  50. 50
    Belafon says:

    @rikyrah: They’re starting to get worried they’ll have to pay the same tax rate on everything, and might actually have to work. And this is getting them worried.

    I can’t open twitter at work, but there was the great flowchart for if you start wanting to compare to the holocaust. It went:

    Does X compare to the holocaust? Is X the holocaust? If Yes, then Yes. Otherwise, NO.

  51. 51
    srv says:

    @Roger Moore: A bunch of Yankees fought to get us rid of our royals.

  52. 52
    Biff Longbotham says:

    @Tommy: Good point about the often surprising skeleton-in-the-closet of past slave owning. We in the USA like to think of slavery as a Southern institution. However, for example, New York didn’t outlaw slavery until 1827! I guarantee that anybody that has some New York Dutch heritage has a slavemaster in their family tree.

  53. 53
    catclub says:

    @Tommy: also “Welcome to Nightvale”

  54. 54
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Roger Moore:
    You were lucky that you didn’t start off with nine royal houses in your country. You were lucky that the people who worked out what the new nation should be like didn’t come up with the answer that their ethnic group needed those royal houses to maintain a political edge over other ethnic groups.

  55. 55
    Belafon says:

    @rikyrah: I remember when Jethro Tull won best heavy metal album. Jethro Tull didn’t all the sudden become heavy metal’s worst enemy, and Metallica and the rest of heavy metal did just fine. Everyone knows it’s an awards show, one that in particular is voted on by people who aren’t buying the albums.

    And from what I’ve seen on TV, Macklemore’s album is doing just fine among blacks and black rappers.

  56. 56
    catclub says:

    @Tommy: There was a radio item on Louisiana Episcopal Churches trying to face up to their history with slavery. The Episcopal Church was THE Establishment
    church in the past, so it was also wrapped up in rich slaveowners ( and Confederate Generals who were also Episcopal Bishops). Now, it is much more outsider. The Baptists are the establishment (And Catholics in LA, not so much other southern states).

    Also, Sherlocke: I really like that John’s wife is a real character, not just an interruption to the boys club.

  57. 57
    MomSense says:


    I love it, too. I’m glad they are mixing it up in this version. My kids and I watched last night and they thought it was just as cool as I did.

  58. 58


    Does X compare to the holocaust? Is X the holocaust? If Yes, then Yes. Otherwise, NO.

    That seems unreasonable to me. There are certainly other things that can reasonably be compared to the Holocaust, like the Armenian Genocide or our treatment of Native Americans. You might even be able to make a decent comparison to the Cultural Revolution or Stalin’s purges. But, yes, if it doesn’t involve the deaths of a substantial fraction of the population, the comparison is not apt.

  59. 59
    rikyrah says:

    I love Sleepy Hollow, and though I was sad about the short season, it was on point, writing wise.

  60. 60
    bemused says:


    I’m a big fan now too although I just got into it and have watched the last 2 episodes. I’ve ordered the 1st season and should resist watching any more of the 3rd season until I catch up but I don’t think I will have the willpower.

  61. 61
    Elizabelle says:

    This was early, and most encouraging.

    Retired Virginia Senator John Warner, a moderate Republican, has endorsed Democratic Senator Mark Warner (who is no relation).

    Take that, Ed Gillespie.

    Most interesting.

    I always liked John Warner. He stood up against the GOP crazies when they were trying to run Oliver North in the 1990s. Good man.

  62. 62
    Amir Khalid says:

    Isn’t he the same John Warner who was married to Elizabeth Taylor?

  63. 63
    Elizabelle says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Yup. He was the 6th Mr. Elizabeth Taylor (1976-1982).

    And: he had a Senate career at all because he got a second chance at it in 1978 when Dick Obenshain, the GOP nominee, died in a plane crash.

    Dick’s son, Mark, is the recently defeated candidate for attorney general — Mark Herring won that race by 165 votes, after the recount.

    from wiki:

    He entered politics in the 1978 Virginia election for U.S. Senate. Despite the publicity of being Elizabeth Taylor’s husband and the large amounts of money Warner used in his campaign for the nomination, he finished second at the state Republican Party (GOP) convention to the far more conservative politician Richard D. Obenshain. Much of this loss was due to his perceived liberal political stances, especially his soft approach to Soviet relations. In contrast Obenshain was a noted anti-Soviet, a hardline anti-communist, and an opponent of other liberal policies including the Great Society and much of the Civil Rights Movement.

    However, fate intervened when Obenshain died two months later in a plane crash. Consequently, Warner was chosen to replace him and narrowly won the general election over Democrat Andrew P. Miller, former Attorney General of Virginia. He was in the Senate until January 3, 2009.

    Despite his less conservative policy stances, Warner managed to be the second-longest serving senator in Virginia’s history, behind only Harry F. Byrd, Sr., and by far the longest-serving Republican Senator from the state. On August 31, 2007, Warner announced that he would not seek re-election in 2008.

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    Visceral says:

    The interesting thing about modern royalty is that their appeal has everything to do with spectacle, and the people who fantasize about it would be quite content to have (and to be) do-nothing constitutional monarchs. Nobody actually cares about or wants the politics and the responsibilities of power; just the endless ceremonies and shiny toys. I wonder what that says about human nature?

    The Duke of Edinburgh (the Queen’s husband) probably has the best job in the world: all the perks of royalty but none of the duties.

  65. 65
    Cervantes says:

    @srv: You’re welcome.

  66. 66
    ruemara says:

    @JonathanW: Stephanie Miller is fun, even if her backup guy, Jim Ward is a textbook case of antigovernment liberal with a massive streak of confirmation bias. Randi Rhodes is fabulously informative, Thom Hartmann is a cerebral dose of smug progressive but he’s a great source of labour history, just remember that he & his guests have a tendency to present their opinions as facts. Ring of Fire is good although I haven’t heard it with Sam Seder in the chair. Marc Marron’s WTF is more like a profane Esquire article being read aloud. One podcast I can’t recommend highly enough is Aisha Tyler’s Girl on Guy. It’s a broad ranging newscast, but it’s long form interviews with interesting people and hilarious. Very good for travel.

  67. 67
    Elizabelle says:

    Humming “Royals” all day. Not a bad earworm.

    Unlike the theme to “Skidoo” — and I remember who put that youtube clip up. I am watching you.

  68. 68
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Visceral: You always hear about people wanting the throne. Never do you hear of anyone who wants the monarch’s desk.

  69. 69
    WaterGirl says:

    @catclub: Isn’t John’s wife actually his real life fiancé?

  70. 70

    Saw Lorde in the audience at the Grimes show in Hollyweird on Friday.

  71. 71
    Cassidy says:

    We should definitely have another “everyone should listen to my music and validate my choices” thread. Those are funny to read.

  72. 72
    Botsplainer says:


    Unlike the theme to “Skidoo” — and I remember who put that youtube clip up. I am watching you.

    You’re welcome….

  73. 73
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    Just look at Robert Baratheon. Want’s all the fun stuff, sluffs the actual work on to the King’s Hand.

  74. 74
    Cassidy says:

    @JonathanW: I listen to Maher and Maddow, although lately I’ve been deleting Maddow after her intro; if it’s about New Jersey, I’m just not in the mood for 45 mins of it. Non-politics, Revolutions is cool, Welcome to Night Vale, and Monster Talk. I listen to an MMA podcast as well. There are also lots of good music ones with lots of unknown music you won’t here on the radio.

  75. 75
    sparrow says:

    @JonathanW: I donno about politics, but the Nature (as in the science publication) podcasts are really great.

  76. 76
    lamh36 says:

    @Belafon: Mackelmore’s fanbase in actually majority white and younger Blacks. There is a gap between hardcore hip hop fans and the new young breed of “swagger” type hip hop fans. In today’s music scene, it’s the “swagger” type fans who buy music the most and that group is majority white and young…

    Besides which, there is some real history on appropriations of “black music” by white artists, and cases like this one is ripe for discussions on the subject. Unless I missed the history behind the appropriation of hard rock music by bluegrass rock musicians.

    With the history in mind, one can understand why people are a miff peeved.

    Expect the same conversation to happen at the Oscars, when/if 12 Years A Slave is shut out in all categories (I’m of a mind that that will likely happen, with the only exception being Lupita Nyong’o maybe winning for he nom)

  77. 77
    Elizabelle says:


    Yesh. Gilty is thee.

    TCM had a more interesting insomnia movie last Saturday.

    The Baby. Did you see it? 1970s “psychological thriller.” Cast and settings kind of made one think that on another day, they would have been filming a porno. Love 70s California, though, and the big cars and big hair.

    It was fun.

    And it did make me think of David Vitter.

  78. 78
    Cassidy says:

    @lamh36: I don’t think that’s a fair assessment of Mackelmore. There is a lot of experimentation on hip-hop right now.

  79. 79
    rikyrah says:

    Senate Republicans To Announce Plan To Take Away Healthcare from 10 Million Americans
    By: Jason Easley
    Sunday, January, 26th, 2014, 3:54 pm

    Senate Republicans are about to propose an alternative to Obamacare that involves taking health insurance coverage away from nearly 10 million people, and replacing it with a tax credit.

    Bob Schieffer ask Kristol if this could pass, and Kristol’s response revealed the depths of Republican delusions about Obamacare, “If Republicans win the Senate in November, I think in 2015 you could imagine a Republican Senate and a Republican House passing this. Republican House might even pass it this year, then it’s up to the president whether he wants to abandon Obamacare and sign on to a sensible healthcare reform.”

    The plan that Kristol hinted at sounds a lot like John McCain’s healthcare reform plan when he ran for office in 2008. Basically, the Republican plan is gut the ACA’s regulations and requirements that insurance companies have to sell a good product at an affordable price, kill the ACA and replace it with a tax credit.

    The practical effect of what Republicans are proposing is to take away access to healthcare from the 3 million plus who have signed up through the exchanges and the 6.3 million people who are eligible for coverage under the Medicaid expansion.

    So the Republican plan is to take healthcare away from nearly 10 million Americans, and replace their health insurance with a tax credit. The GOP plan would take away access to healthcare for 20 million Americans, and it will do nothing to cover the uninsured and expand coverage.

  80. 80
    Cassidy says:

    @Cassidy: And the white privilege thing is off base, at least admit applies to Mackelmore. He won because voting for him slacktivism. As soon as I heard the song I knew it would win a Grammy in some capacity. Hell, If white privilege was at work, the only names we’d hear at the Grammy’s is Eminem, Mackelmore, Spose, Bunba Sparx, etc.

    It’s time to be real, just like Burnsie and his flash cards of artists no one has heard of, certain hip-hop artist aren’t going to get significant recognition.

  81. 81
    rikyrah says:

    ACA opposition frays a little further
    01/27/14 10:50 AM—Updated 01/27/14 11:01 AM
    By Steve Benen

    When Kit Bond was in the Senate, he absolutely hated the Affordable Care Act, and voted to reject and kill the law. As he was getting ready to retire, the Missouri Republican said the impact of the reform law, especially expanding Medicaid, would be “horrific.”

    Last year, Bond went so far as to describe the Affordable Care Act as “a pile of manure.”

    Now, however, it appears Bond, a former two-term governor and four-term senator, has changed his mind, at least about one key aspect of the law.

    Proponents of expanding Medicaid in Missouri just landed an influential – and unlikely – new ally.

    Republican and former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond has been hired as a lobbyist by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. His goal will be to persuade a General Assembly skeptical of all things Obamacare to go along with one of the law’s central tenets – adding 300,000 uninsured Missourians to the public health insurance program for the poor.

    Dan Mehan, the Missouri chamber’s president, told the Kansas City Star that the business lobbying group “opposed Obamacare,” but the organization believes it will remain the law of the land. And as such, Mehan added, “We should take the opportunity to get an enormous amount of investment back into our state and, while we’re at it, improve Medicaid for everyone.”

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    gogol's wife says:

    Just testing, because I agreed with rikyrah hours ago about Sherlock but my comment didn’t post.

  83. 83
    Mnemosyne says:


    Actually, 12 Years a Slave will almost certainly win Best Picture at the Oscars. Take a gander at the list of nominees:

    “American Hustle” Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
    “Captain Phillips” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers
    “Dallas Buyers Club” Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers
    “Gravity” Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman, Producers
    “Her” Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers
    “Nebraska” Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers
    “Philomena” Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers
    “12 Years a Slave” Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers
    “The Wolf of Wall Street” Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joey McFarland and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Producers

    There’s nothing else on that list that the Academy voters are going to be willing to vote for instead, or at least admit voting for. All of the momentum is still for 12 Years.

    Alfonso Cuaron will probably win Best Director, but IMO he deserves it if only for the technical difficulty of Gravity.

  84. 84
    Mnemosyne says:


    Also, too, IIRC the fan base for a lot of hip-hop and rap has been white frat guys for years — I’ve seen a lot of commentators say that the gangsta rap thing took off not because AA people wanted it, but because white fans thought it was cool.

    And if those kinds of white guys are going to be listening to rap, I don’t mind them getting fed the equality and anti-consumption messages that Macklemore is putting out. YMMV, of course, and I don’t listen to nearly enough current music to decide who should have gotten a Grammy. Though I will say, the Grammys are usually WAY behind the curve when it comes to innovation.

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    Patricia Kayden says:

    @JonathanW: Blue Gal is pretty good.

  86. 86
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @rikyrah: “Should Macklemore win, it won’t be because he’s a better rapper than Kendrick (he’s not) or because he made a better album than Kendrick (he didn’t). It will be because he’s safe and white and the kind of guy out-of-touch Grammy voters could get behind.”

    So subjective that it’s almost meaningless. I’m hearing people say that if Lupito Nyong’o wins an Oscar, it’s because of White guilt. I say just congratulate the winners and do not denigrate their success.

  87. 87
    Paul in KY says:

    @rikyrah: Macklemore (and Ryan Lewis!) are not villians. I’m sure they would have voted for Lamar’s album too. Not their fault that voters picked them.

  88. 88
    Paul in KY says:

    @rikyrah: Communism works in theory. True Communism is basically what Jesus preached. Marxist/Leninist/Stalinist forma of Communism are something different.

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    lamh36 says:

    @Mnemosyne: IDK, I could see an American Hustle or Gravity upset.

    I’ll admit though, I’m going solely by the Academy’s long history I’m putting my odd in the cynicism basket.

  90. 90
    Mnemosyne says:


    Here’s my cynical reply to your cynicism: 12 Years will win because Steve McQueen is British Black, not African-American. The Academy is much, much more comfortable with “good” British Black directors and actors than they are with our homegrown ones.

    ETA: I still think Cuaron will probably win Best Director for Gravity, but I’m okay with that. McQueen is young and, with his track record so far, he has a very good chance of winning Best Director later on.

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