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Berning Down the House

bernie sketchI saw a brief clip of MN Rep. Keith Ellison last night on one of the MSNBC programs to discuss the Iowa caucus results. Ellison supports Bernie Sanders, but he doesn’t fit the “Bernie bro” stereotype so derided in comments here. He’s calm and gracious, qualities he no doubt had ample opportunity to hone when he co-represented the Gopher State with hysterical rightwing nitwit Michele Bachmann.

Maybe trial by pinwheel-eyed lunatic gives people clarity of thought if they can refrain from responding in kind. After discussing Clinton’s tagline, “a progressive who gets things done,” Ellison noted that we can thank Bernie Sanders for the fact that both Democratic candidates embrace the progressive label. He’s right.

Clinton will almost certainly lose in New Hampshire, probably by a wide margin, and though that’s expected, the Beltway pundit frenzy that began in muted tones when her lead in Iowa slipped and ratcheted up when she squeaked out the narrowest possible victory will roar to life full force if she loses. The din will grow deafening in the week and a half before the voting starts again in Nevada and South Carolina.

Team Clinton will have a choice to make. Team Sanders will too, but more of the pressure will be on Clinton if she loses big in New Hampshire. The Clinton campaign can wink and nod while “outside” groups like the loathsome David Brock’s “Correct the Record” organization ramps up attacks on Sanders, or she can publicly call off the dogs. I hope she does the latter.

Here’s a sample of the garbage Brock and his minions, who now include Peter Daou (the same Daou who once begged Democrats to remember that Sarah Palin used to be “a little girl”), plan to dump:

“When the conservative machine cranks up and kicks into high gear, Bernie will be eviscerated, turned into an aging cartoon Commie, a flip-flopping America-hater, a 60s holdover writing bizarre essays about free sex and child rape fantasies, a non-Democrat Democrat whose embrace of the NRA undermines his claims to purity, a politician who voted against the Amber Alert system, a draft dodger, and a man who thinks women’s rights are a distraction,” Daou wrote in a post for Blue Star Media.

Yeah. And if Clinton wins, the Wingnut Wurlitzer will paint Hillary as a castrating bitch who allowed her unsatisfied man to go wilding on random interns, a man-hating lesbian goon who murdered Vince Foster, a power-mad hag who sold out Israel to appease the mullahs in Iran, a tool of the gay agenda who will confiscate every red-blooded American sportsman’s firearms and use them to perform involuntary shotgun same-sex marriages, after which the guns will be melted down to create a giant metal vagina shrine for the White House lawn.

The Democratic candidates can’t control the conservative media, but they can control how they react to it. They can and should respond to its attacks, but they ought to refuse to do its dirty work on each other.

There’s a lot of talk about the disaffected youngs who are disgusted with the political process and how that bodes ill for the Democrats, especially if HRC is the nominee. Maybe we could flip the script if our candidates continue to have substantive discussions that focus on their different visions of achieving similar goals while the Republican candidates use every forum to rip each other to pieces, lie about Democrats and paint present-day America as a post-apocalyptic hellscape. Worth a shot?

President Obama’s Remarks On Iran Deal

I thought I’d drop this here in case you missed it. Once again, the Republicans are OUTRAGED at how diplomacy works. Fuck them.

I’ll try and find the actual video to embed, but until then, click this link for the video and the outline.

UPDATE: Try this video, looks like it’s the entire speech.


Thursday Morning Open Thread: CLAANNNNNNG

ballard acappella racoon cymbals

(Ballard Street via

That raccoon is my spirit animal for the new year.

What’s on the agenda for the day and/or Amateur Night New Year’s Eve?

GOP Elite delegitamization; Obamacare Edition

This is a good example of the process of how the Republican base has come to like Trump so much. Their elites either don’t know what they are talking about or are lying to them, repeatedly.

Scott Gottlieb is supposed to be a medium size deal in the conservative health wonk community. He was one of the ten “wonks” who came up with the most recent Republican repeal and maybe replace plan.   He has the sinecures and the titles to be a valued source of trusted information to conservatives.  However, either he does not understand what he is talking about or he is actively misleading his audience. He started this string with the following tweet:

That is a very strong claim that is diametrically opposed to reality. The risk pool is getting younger. We can’t say for sure that a younger risk pool is a healthier/cheaper risk pool, but it is extraordinarily likely that this is the case.

Local conservative opinion leaders will get a false signal from Gottlieb that the Exchanges are death spiraling.  They have been getting those signals from conservative “wonks” and “policy” opinion leaders for five years now.  Sooner or later dreaded Obamacare will collapse under its own weight and 10 million people (as you know those Chicago crooks are cooking the books, so it can’t be 17 million people) will have the freedom to choose health savings accounts or freedom.

And next year, when Obamacare does not collapse in on itself like a neutron star of fail, the same opinion leaders and expert validaters will trot out the same story.

The Republican base has been promised a lot and their party can’t deliver on those goals.  The elites don’t have legitimacy because their bullshit has been marked to market so new entries with new, creatively destructive forms of bullshit have a niches that they can fill and a willing mass audience that wants to believe that this time the new guy can deliver on their promises while ignoring the elites who have no credibility.


Spoiler: Nope.

Bubbly BothSider Jeff Greenfield, “five-time Emmy-winning network television analyst”:

The most striking examples of party fissure in American politics have come when a party broke with a long pattern of accommodating different factions and moved decisively toward one side. It has happened with the Democrats twice, both over civil rights. The party had long embraced the cause of civil rights in the North while welcoming segregationists—and white supremacists—from across the South. In 1948, the party’s embrace of a stronger civil rights plank led Southern delegations to walk out of the convention… Twenty years later, Alabama Governor George Wallace led a similar anti-civil-rights third party movement that won five Southern states. A relatively small shift of voters in California would have deadlocked that election and thrown it to the House of Representatives.

In two other cases, a dramatic shift in intraparty power led to significant defections on the losing side. In 1964, when Republican conservatives succeeded in nominating a divisive champion of their cause in Barry Goldwater, liberal Republicans (there were such things back then) like New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Michigan Governor George Romney and others refused to endorse the nominee. More shockingly, the New York Herald-Tribune, the semi-official voice of the GOP establishment, endorsed Lyndon Johnson—the first Democrat it had supported, ever. With his party split, Goldwater went down in flames. Eight years later, when a deeply divided Democratic Party nominated anti-war hero George McGovern, George Meany led the AFL-CIO to a position of neutrality between McGovern and Richard Nixon—the first time labor had refused to back a Democrat for president. Prominent Democrats like former Texas Governor John Connally openly backed Nixon, while countless others, disempowered by the emergence of “new Democrats,” simply sat on their hands. The divided Democrats lost in a landslide…

… [I]n 1991… former Klansman David Duke made it into the gubernatorial runoff in Louisiana. While he proclaimed himself a Republican, he was roundly rejected by the party at every level—the outgoing GOP governor endorsed former Governor Edwin Edwards—and Duke lost overwhelmingly to Edwards. (It’s a campaign best remembered for the bumper sticker touting the ethically challenged Edwards: “Vote for the crook—it’s important.”)…

In other words, once there were politicians who were willing to lose, for their principles. Not seeing the current Repub primary candidates who have any principles, beyond, “What’s in it for me?”

… If you want to see the most sulfurous assaults on Trump, don’t look to the editorial pages of the New York Times or the comments of MSNBC personalities; look instead to the most prominent media voices in the conservative world: National Review, The Weekly Standard, Commentary and the columns of George Will and others…

But it’s more, much more than policy that has stirred the ire on the right: It’s the vulgarity, the fusion of ignorance and arrogance, the narcissism, the dissembling on matters great and small. The composite portrait of Trump painted by these outlets—leavened only by a grudging acknowledgment that he’s touched on legitimate concerns about immigration and terror—makes the idea of handing over the nuclear codes to Trump unsettling. And it makes the idea of embracing him as the alternative to Hillary Clinton somewhere between a reach and a lunge.

What a Trump nomination represents, then, is a victory that leaves significant slices of the party unwilling or unable to accept the outcome. Whether he’s seen as an ideological heretic for his views on trade, taxes and government power or as a demagogue whose clownish bluster and casual bigotry make him temperamentally unfit for office, the odds on massive defections are very high…

Yeah, the supporting members of the party that’s become synonymous with xenophobia, racism, and kleptocracy are gonna sacrifice their sweet gigs — because, ugh, That Guy, with his endless free media and stadia full of cheering supporters and renowned long memory for anyone who crosses him. Greenfield trolls a bunch of Permanent Republican Party insiders, looking for names of sacrificial lambs who might be willing to abort their existing careers to run on a third-party ticket. Apparently the concept also excites people like former Reagan/Bush campaigner Dan Schnur (“now an independent”), Romney strategist Stu Stevens, and Rob Stutzman (“he helped spearhead the 2003 recall that put Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Governor’s Mansion”) — all men who don’t seem to be involved in this year’s campaigns. Funny thing, that.

Frivolous Open Thread: Maybe Lying Makes Marco Thirsty?

Hey, it’s science: “This occurs because the automatic nervous system decreases salivary flow during times of stress, which of course dries out the mucous membranes of the mouth.”

So the conventional wisdom seems to that Marco Rubio — who came up with that line about “every old person’s idea of a young person”? — is now the GOP Establishment’s candidate of choice. Since JEB! can’t rise above a fistful of polling digits, Rubio’s the young dude who’ll distract fickle voters from the Trump travelling circus and the revival tents of Trump’s mini-Me Ted Cruz, before outlasting old lady Clinton in the general-election marathon. And if Rubio is flavor-of-week, be assured that Politico is all over the truly significant biographical details…

In May 2008, when Marco Rubio retired as Florida’s House speaker, he bid his colleagues farewell with a passionate defense of American exceptionalism. Standing on the floor in front of the speaker’s rostrum, Rubio invoked boatloads of refugees washing up on American shores, quoted John F. Kennedy and lauded political dissent.

“It’s honestly one of the greatest political speeches I’ve seen in my life,” said Republican operative Gregg Keller. “To this day, I can’t watch it without getting a lump in my throat.”

But youthful charisma wasn’t the only aspect of Rubio’s delivery that has stuck with Keller. “He’s got this ice,” recalled the veteran operative. “He’s got this water in this cup that’s got ice and it’s making weird noises.” Indeed, video of the speech shows Rubio halting mid-delivery at dramatic moments to reach down to a table in front of him and take noisy swigs from a Styrofoam cup…

… [T]he water tic has persisted and remained noticeable on the campaign trail this fall, drawing comment from those who have worked with and watched the Florida senator. Like Richard Nixon’s perspiring or John Boehner’s crying, Rubio’s need for constant hydration is a bodily quirk that impinges on his political life.

The 44-year-old senator takes care to ensure the availability of water at his public events and can be particular about how he takes it. His advance team has mandated exact requirements for the vessels he will drink out of: stemless glasses — not stemmed ones or water bottles. He reaches for it constantly during public remarks. Its absence has thrown off his delivery, and he and his campaign have acknowledged its presence by attempting to turn it into a joke. On the trail, he has even asked hecklers to time their outbursts around his breaks for it.

“Marco does have a water thing,” said one longtime Rubio associate who has been affiliated with his past campaigns. “I don’t know what it is. He says he just gets thirsty, but it’s clear it’s just a nervous tic. It’s something he just has to have around, like a security blanket or something.”…

As Rubio’s standing in the 2016 nomination fight has improved, Donald Trump has seized on the senator’s bodily functions, repeatedly calling attention both to Rubio’s drinking and to his sweating. “Rubio, I’ve never seen a young guy sweat that much. He’s drinking water, water, water,” Trump told ABC News in September. “I never saw anything like this with him, with the water.”

On Fox News, Rubio responded to the attacks, “I drink water. So what? And I only sweat when it’s hot.”

But people who have worked with Rubio said sweat has also been a distraction for him. “You hear Donald Trump make fun of him for it. But he’s onto something,” said Rubio’s longtime associate. “I don’t think Marco sweats that much more. But Marco thinks he does. He’s always wiping, wiping, wiping sweat — even if he’s not sweating. It can drive you crazy if you’re watching him closely.”…

It’s never possible to know when or if there’s any forethought to Trump’s nonstop Gish Gallop campaign, but he’s the right age to remember when every media outlet from the NYTimes to MAD Magazine was mocking 1960 candidate Dick Nixon’s on-air perspiration oubreaks.

And in modern GOP theology, Nixon is the once-promising young star who would badly damage the Repub brand, first by compromising with the DFH Democrats, and then by cutting & running from impeachment rather than destroying all available evidence and sticking with the Big Lie. It’s not that they mind being lied to; they just don’t want someone who’s going to break down when confronted with evidence that he’s lying.

I guess the question would be: Is Politico so dumb they failed to make this connection while chasing Win the Morning, or are they willing to help shiv Marco?

Good news everybody: Shovel edition

Three stories I need to highlight from internal Republican political debates:

Politico on the Senate and the reconciliation bill that will get vetoed by President Obama:

To get conservatives such as Lee, Cruz and Rubio on board, the reconciliation bill may have to be changed to dismantle other controversial parts of Obamacare that are untouched in the current bill. Those provisions include the Medicaid expansion and the subsidies provided to millions of consumers who purchase insurance through the Obamacare exchanges.

The current bill that passed the House continues Medicaid expansion. Republicans from marginal districts want to keep Medicaid expansion and subsidies for insurance, they just don’t want to pay for it.

Now a report from Kentucky:

Bevin said his intent is not to cut people off but to customize Medicaid to Kentucky through a waiver – known as a “1115 Medicaid demonstration waiver” – of federal rules on eligibility and coverage. Bevin has pointed to Indiana’s model as an example of the direction he wants Kentucky to head. Medicaid recipients there pay either premiums or co-pays, sometimes both. Ashley Spalding, research and policy associate for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said that would tamp down access to health care.

Kentucky is highly likely to continue Medicaid expansion albeit via a convoluted, more expensive and less comprehensive waiver instead of straight-up expansion that it currently has. The Governor elect first made his name as being a full repeal without replacing Tea Partier reactionary, but he is backing off to expanding Medicaid under PPACA without calling it an Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

And finally from Alabama:

The fight over Medicaid expansion has become one of this decade’s great partisan divides in Alabama. Under the ACA, states were originally intended to expand Medicaid to people with income levels up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, providing an out for people too poor to meet the law’s requirement to buy health insurance. But Gov. Robert Bentley, like many red-state governors, declined to expand the program, citing opposition to Obamacare and concern about the state’s ability to pay for expansion.

That wall of opposition may be crumbling. As recently as Thursday, Bentley told reporters that he was considering expansion, though he had yet to make a final decision on the issue…

A blue-ribbon task force, assembled by the governor earlier this year to study solutions to the state’s most pressing health issues, may vote this week on a resolution recommending something similar.

“We are considering a recommendation that the governor expand coverage to include as many people as possible,” said Ronald Franks, chairman of the Alabama Health Care Improvement Task Force. Franks said wider health care coverage would likely help the state deal with widespread issues such as diabetes.

Alabama has not submitted a waiver nor has it outlined a waiver application, but given that a major and successful Republican political leader’s spokeswoman did not issue a vehement and clear denial.

These type of discussions and decisions are how programs get entrenched. Opponents are making operational peace with reality as it is instead of how they wish it to be.