Open Thread: Ted Cruz Is A Nasty Piece of Work

It’s written all over his face, according to a neurologist quoted in NYMag:

… Cytowic, who declares himself “not a Democrat,” argues that Cruz’s face sends subtle facial cues that go against what he’s saying, which complicates the very thing we are trained to do from birth: figure people out…

… [I]n Cruz’s case, Cytowic writes, his facial downfall comes in the form of his smile, or lack thereof. In a typical smile, the corners of the mouth turn up; this causes a chain reaction that makes the corners of the eyes contract, creating crow’s feet. But Cruz’s face doesn’t seem to do that, according to Cytowic: The smile doesn’t quite reach his eyes, which can be perceived as insincerity.

Another facial-oddity characteristic Cytowic points out is just north of the missing crow’s feet on Cruz’s face: the downward bend of the outside of his eyebrows… “Downturned expressions usually signal disagreeableness or disgust,” Cytowic writes. In other words, Cruz could accidentally be sending cues at rallies that he’s not a fan of his voters, which isn’t exactly the message he wants to convey…

One might suspect that Ted Cruz just isn’t a fan of humans, us stupid ill-educated beasts with our messy emotions and insufficient appreciation for God-King candidate Cruz…

Good to know, Mr. DoubtThat!



Little Marco, Sharing His Elders’ Behind-Closed-Doors Ugliness

rubio is gop trainable ohman

(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)
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Marco Rubio is a young (-enough-for-Repub-purposes) man in a hurry. His youth was supposed to be his big selling point — a shiny new face, not like that old Hillary harridan! Only problem with fresh-faced youngsters, even the quick studies, is that sometimes they repeat nasty stuff the Wise Old Heads would’ve preferred to keep a little more private. His much-mocked talking point was not just the result of a callow lad missing his mark after cramming for the Big Test — it was a code phrase for the Far Right fringes. Mr. Charles P. Pierce, reporting for Esquire:

Now, it is a sad truth that, while traveling with a campaign, you will hear a candidate say the same thing three or four times a day in three or four different cornfields. But I have been to the rodeo more than once and I can tell you that I never have seen a candidate say the same thing three times within five minutes. The transcript doesn’t really do it justice, but it should be preserved for posterity nonetheless. The next time they put him up on the stage, Rubio’s handlers are going to have to nail his shoes to the floor lest he waft up into the rafters.

The general hilarity has tended to obscure what Rubio actually was saying. (And saying, and saying, and saying…) He was accusing the president of monumental and deliberate acts of subversion in office. This is a stunning charge, especially from a one-term pipsqueak whose memory banks jam whenever he steps an inch beyond his actual depth. There already was some evidence mounting here that Rubio’s momentum coming out of his glorious third-place finish in Iowa had dissipated somewhat. His numbers rose at first, but now they seem to have stalled out. And the way to regain that momentum is certainly not to embody perfectly the caricature that your rivals have created out of you. This should be his defining moment. If it isn’t, then the entire political world owes apologies to both Howard Dean and Edmund Muskie…

Today, Paul Waldman at the Washington Post:

… [T]o understand what Rubio was trying to communicate, you have to see it on two levels. On the surface, Rubio’s claim about Obama is a defense of his own youth and limited résumé. Some Republicans have said of Rubio that he’s too inexperienced to be president, just like Barack Obama was. So Rubio can counter that argument by saying that despite his short time in prior office Obama has actually been a brutally effective president, skillfully carrying out his nefarious schemes, and therefore experience isn’t all that important. But the real message goes deeper, into the dark heart of the conspiracy theories and twisted loathing of Obama that has persisted on the right for the last seven years…

Just to be clear, when a Republican talks about “the rest of the world,” he doesn’t mean it in a good way. So when Rubio says Obama “wants America to become more like the rest of the world,” he’s saying that Obama is trying to harm America, to bring it down, to weaken it, to punish it, to make it less than it has been and should be. Read more



Open Thread: “Cowboy Socialism”

I prefer “welfare ranchers”, but that’s because as a citified coastal elitist I have no allergy to the word socialism. Excellent read — even if you know all this already, it’s nice to have all the links in one place. Ryan Cooper, at The Week, on “The secret history of cowboy socialism”:

Bundy’s ideas are nonsense — but they’re no more wrong than the entire creation myth of the American West. Though there have been Americans who could survive completely unaided in the West — men like Kit Carson and Jim Bridger — there were only a handful of them, and most were at least half-crazed. No society on Earth has ever functioned wholly on self-interested individualism — and that holds doubly true for the West. From the very start to the present day, Big Government has been the very bedrock of the settlement of the American frontier.

Before the West could be won, it first had to be stolen. Mexico still claimed sovereignty over most of the territory, so U.S. President James Polk ginned up a quick war to steal half of the unlucky country. Even afterwards, there were still tons of Indians living in the conquered territory, so U.S. authorities had to undertake a general program of ethnic cleansing to make way for white settlers. Smallpox had done the bulk of the heavy lifting there, but extensive white settlement still required the first major domestic government program in the West: the Indian Wars

Once the Indians had been driven out (save for a few pitiful reservations composed of the most unproductive land in the region), white settlement was stoked with the first example of genuinely socialist policy: free land. A long series of laws gave sizable chunks of land (classically a quarter-section, or 160 acres) to individuals subject to proof that they were putting it into agricultural production. Railroads also got vast chunks as a way to fund new transportation, and mining companies could claim smaller bits with mineral reserves.

This was socialist both in the “free stuff from the government” sense and the Soviet sense, in that the land programs were conceptually unworkable, catastrophically mismanaged, and riddled with fraud…

As Marc Reisner details in his history Cadillac Desert, this is the basic problem with Western politics, even up to the present day. It has been from the very start handicapped by the reality that only extensive federal government projects could possibly facilitate the settlement and development of the region, but it has been too wedded to the cowboy mythology to admit it…

Read the whole thing, it’s not long but it’s very nutritious!
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Apart from mocking the Scrubland Revolutionaries, or whatever they’re calling this round of gun-fondling cosplay, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the weekend?



Terrifying Team Trump Tales

CNN decides to take a look at people who support The Donald and discovers that the people who support The Donald are pretty much exactly who you’d suspect of supporting aforementioned Donald.

They are showing up in droves to see Donald Trump: Men and women, overwhelmingly white, frustrated with the country’s first black president, fearful that they are being displaced by minorities and immigrants, and nostalgic for the way America used to be.

And Trump is thriving, tapping into the fears and anxieties that have erupted into the open in an extraordinary presidential campaign.

The voters pledging their allegiance to the Republican front-runner hail from all corners of the country. They work on farms, in nursing homes and run small businesses; they’ve voted for Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and participated in the tea party movement; they are high school students who will vote for the first time this November and retirees and veterans who came of age during World War II.

In Trump, these people see the next president of the United States.

His attitude, one voter said, is that he “seems to just not give a f—.” Trump’s nativist rhetoric and hardline immigration stance is a relief for those who see a segment of the population “getting away” with breaking the law. Post-San Bernardino, the candidate’s promise to “bomb the sh– out of ISIS” exudes an uncomplicated confidence rare in other politicians. His accomplishments in the business world offer reassurance that he’ll “put the economy back where it belongs.”

Perhaps most important is Trump’s imperviousness to the typical boundaries around race. He has made provocative remarks on the subject since the earliest days of his campaign — and his supporters are listening. They are rowdy, and at times, even violent. On more than one occasion, they’ve accosted protesters, lobbing racial slurs and physical abuse.

There is a significant bloc of voters who want payback, folks, for slights real or perceived over the last 8 years, folks who want to punish Obama supporters relentlessly and leave them crushed, broken, and forever powerless, never to dare challenge them.

They want someone to put them back on top to “make American great again.”

They’ve found their guy who they think will do it and to hell with everyone else. The mob is coming and they are pissed.

“I got mine, fuck the rest of you” as a worldview?  Really is that simple.

And they’ll vote.



The Full Weight Of History

Ta-Nehisi Coates eloquently explains his position on the Democrats in 2016 as Hillary Clinton mentions that Lincoln was her favorite president due to his willingness to “reconcile and forgive” the Lost Cause of the South.

Yet until relatively recently, this self-serving version of history was dominant. It is almost certainly the version fed to Hillary Clinton during her school years, and possibly even as a college student. Hillary Clinton is no longer a college student. And the fact that a presidential candidate would imply that Jim Crow and Reconstruction were equal, that the era of lynching and white supremacist violence would have been prevented had that same violence not killed Lincoln, and that the violence was simply the result of rancor, the absence of a forgiving spirit, and an understandably “discouraged” South is chilling.

I have spent the past two years somewhat concerned about the effects of national amnesia, largely because I believe that a problem can not be effectively treated without being effectively diagnosed. I don’t know how you diagnose the problem of racism in America without understanding the actual history. In the Democratic Party, there is, on the one hand, a candidate who seems comfortable doling out the kind of myths that undergirded racist violence. And on the other is a candidate who seems uncomfortable asking whether the history of racist violence, in and of itself, is worthy of confrontation.

These are options for a party of amnesiacs, for people whose politics are premised on forgetting. This is not a brief for staying home, because such a thing doesn’t actually exist. In the American system of government, refusing to vote for the less-than-ideal is a vote for something much worse. Even when you don’t choose, you choose. But you can choose with your skepticism fully intact. You can choose in full awareness of the insufficiency of your options, without elevating those who would have us forget into prophets. You can choose and still push, demanding more. It really isn’t too much to say, if you’re going to govern a country, you should know its history.

Not only could I not have said it better myself, I don’t think I could have said it on my best day.

And yes, it’s entirely possible to choose a primary candidate, and then say “Hey, we would like you to take a look at this issue.”  Now I’m aware of how that line of thought started out in 2008, and it morphed into something far uglier, but the fact remains that is it possible to do.

As TNC says, “You can choose and still push, demanding more.”



They’re Idiots. Dangerous Idiots — But Still Idiots.

malheur militia show biz danziger
(Jeff Danziger’s website)

First, the earnest truth from Mr. Charles P. Pierce…

This is an act of armed sedition against lawful authority. That is all that it is, and that is quite enough. This is not “an expression of anti-government sentiment.” Flipping off the governor as he drives by is “an expression of anti-government sentiment.” What Alex Jones does every day is “an expression of anti-government sentiment,” and god bless them all for it. That’s what the Founders had in mind. This is not an “occupation” following “a peaceful protest.” That would be all those folks who got bludgeoned and pepper-sprayed out of Zuccotti Park a couple of years back. (And when exactly did ABC News decide it wasn’t a news organization anymore?) These are men with guns who have declared themselves outside the law. These are men with guns who have taken something that belongs to all of us. These are traitors and thieves who got away with this dangerous nonsense once, and have been encouraged to get away with it again, and they draw their inspiration not solely from the wilder fringes of our politics, either. Ammon Bundy and his brothers should have been thrown in jail after they gathered themselves in rebellion the first time.

This is another step down the road that leads to the broken shell of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. There are respectable people in our respectable politics who have been shamefully silent on the subject, and there are respectable people in our respectable media who seem terrified of calling this what it is. You want an example of the deadening effect of “political correctness” in our politics? Watch what the people running for president have to say about this episode. Look at how it is being framed already—or ignored entirely—by the elite political media. There is a constituency for armed rebellion in this country that is larger than any of our respectable political and social institutions want to admit. It is fueled by reckless, ambitious people who engage in reckless, ambitious rhetoric…

There is no actual tyranny in this country against which to take up arms. There is bureaucratic inertia. There is pigheaded bureaucracy. There even is political chicanery. But there is no actual tyranny in the Endangered Species Act, or in the Bureau of Land Management, or in the Environmental Protection Agency, or in the Affordable Care Act, or in IRS dumbassery, or even in whatever it is that the president plans to say about guns in the next week or so. Anyone who argues that actual tyranny exists is a dangerous charlatan who should be mocked from the public square. Anyone who argues that there is out of political ambition, or for their own personal profit, should be shunned by decent people until they regain whatever moral compass they once had…

malheur konstatutionamalism ohman

(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)
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But still… Albert Burneko, in the Concourse, on “Those Jamokes in Oregon”:

The American political lexicon has an appropriate word for the armed men conspicuously loitering in part of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge instead of going home. It is not terrorist or militia or occupation or revolution or movement or front or army or resistance. The word is jamoke. “Get a load of these sad jamokes!” is the thing you say about them…

Imagine the grade of sad, stunted halfwit who decks himself out in paramilitary regalia and lethal weaponry to stage a sit-in at what is for all intents and purposes a remote wildlife park’s visitor’s center. Okay, men, when I kick in the door, you three move on the 74-year-old v0lunteer who shows the birdwatching slideshow to elementary-school field trip groups; if she makes a move, be ready to take her down with force. The rest of us will establish a defensive position behind the cardboard beaver. If bigger goobers than these exist on our planet, you identify them by the bruises from where they poked themselves in the eye while trying to pick their noses…

Here is the thing. These men are not frightening. They are jamokes. They are exactly jamokes. Their guns, on the other hand, are very frightening—for precisely and entirely the same reason and to absolutely the same degree that those same guns would be frightening in the hands of toddlers. Not because the people holding those guns are serious, but because the people holding those guns are not serious.

This, my good buddies, is the entire American pro-gun argument made (embarrassing, oh my God so fucking embarrassing) flesh. A big scary gun lends a degree of real power even to the variety of sad, corny-ass loser who invades and occupies what is essentially a fancy birdhouse in the name of ending tyranny. That is the whole reason to have a big scary gun. Not as a safeguard against home invaders or the totalitarian state, but as a safeguard against a clear-eyed reckoning with plain reality. A gun is—or at least these jamokes hope it is—a Get Out Of Getting Laughed At Free card. When you call these horse’s asses “terrorists,” you are not only dignifying their ridiculous, impotent actions, you are doing them the biggest favor for which they can hope…

Read more



Bevin Makes His Move

As promised, newly elected Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin announced today that the plan is to scrap Medicaid expansion for 400,000 Kentuckians and to replace it with…something…in 2017.

Bevin, who campaigned on a pledge to reshape Medicaid and the expansion under the Affordable Care Act, said it will take time to change the program but he expects to succeed.

“We are going to transform the way Medicaid is delivered in Kentucky,” Bevin said.

Bevin has enlisted the help of Mark Birdwhistell, a former secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services under former Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

Birdwhistell, vice president for health services at the University of Kentucky, said he’s ready for the challenge.

“The people of Kentucky need a Medicaid system that is affordable and sustainable,” he said.

Bevin and Birdwhistell said Kentucky will begin work on a waiver they will ask the federal government to approve to let Kentucky establish its own Medicaid plan, as Indiana and some other states have done.

They expect to introduce the plan in 2017.

Bevin Wednesday morning voiced support for a Medicaid waiver system similar to the one used by Indiana to hold down costs and said an effort during the coming six months will show “whether this will work or not.”

Bevin went on to blame former Gov. Steve Beshear for getting Kentucky into an “unsustainable” Medicaid expansion which he called a “lie”, and mentioned Indiana’s Healthy Insurance Plan program as the model, which of course leaves the question “If Indiana’s Medicaid expansion replacement plan is working so well, why is GOP Gov. Mike Pence so upset about it being evaluated?”

Richard Mayhew can probably answer way more about this than I can, but so far to me it looks like Bevin is trying to set up Steve Beshear (and of course President Obama) to blame when a “workable alternative” to the current expansion magically fails to materialize six months down the road.

 

Richard Mayhew here: I am even more cynical than Zandar but more optimistic.  Bevin looks like he is setting up a committee to set up a committee.  It is a bureaucratic dodge as every hospital executive in the state has talked to Bevin’s people by now and told them they need Medicaid expansion to balance their books.  What will happen is the alternative plan will be more punitive, more confusing and more expensive than a straight up expansion but it will still cover 400,000 or more people in the summer of 2017.  It just won’t be called Medicaid Expansion, it will be Bevin AwesomeCare with Health Savings Accounts and Personal Responsibility Initiative Points.