The soft bigotry of low expectations: Conservative wonk edition

I like Don Taylor, I like reading him as I know that there is a very high probability of reading something that he writes that will make me think long and hard about something that I thought I knew but now need to reexamine, or something that I knew that I did not know.  He is a good high value read on health policy.  However, I think he has a blind spot on health policy, and that is his tendency to encourage conservative wonks without enough criticism:

From RBC on 8/14/14 regarding Avik Roy’s Manhattan Institute proposal:

I am not going to go all post-modern literary critic on this (only deconstruct), in part because a lot of it lines up nicely with things I have been writing about/calling for over the past few years, in search of a political deal that could move the policy ahead….

The biggest question facing Avik’s proposal is not in policy terms or what supporters of the ACA will think, but whether any elected Republicans will be willing and able to shift gears and begin trying to move health reform ahead instead of simply looking for what helps in the next election….

I commend Avik for offering this plan, and think there is a plenty to like in the proposal itself, as we look for the next step in health reform.

A serious deconstruction of the plan shows that Roy is fundamentally trying to occupy the wonky spot that Paul Ryan has been attempting to occupy as a legislative leader — that of the wonky Serious, Honest Conservative.  If that is the bar that needs to be passed, then we need to evaluate the wonkiness and honesty of the plan.  Anything else is just the soft bigotry of low expectations that a conservative can write 60 pages of not seemingly gibberish with a couple of graphs and references to complex modeling. 

Read more

The Many Stages Of Climate Denial

Stage 1: Denial. Once the proud front line of the anti-warming fight, pretty much everyone has abandoned this absolutist position except for some guerillas too far gone or out of touch to get the message. What does it mean for Exxon? Business as usual.

Stage 2: We didn’t do it. Sure the glaciers are thinning like Cheney’s hair, but that’s because of the sun. Or maybe volcanoes or just the natural world shifting around all on its own. Some influential thinktanks still hang onto this line, although others have given up trying to come up with a plausible mechanism that doesn’t involve CO2. What does it mean for Exxon? Conveniently, business goes on as usual.

Stage 3: How I learned to stop worrying and love the heat. So what if CO2 is heating the planet? Relax, it’s good for you. Though bold, this tactic contradicts what people can see with their own eyes and makes a laughingstock out of anyone who seriously tries it. It’s a desperation move. What does it mean for Exxon? Year end bonuses, a humanitarian award is named in Exxon’s honor.

Stage 4: Spectering. In this stage denialists acknowledge that CO2-driven warming is a major problem. The real magic at this stage comes in taking “leadership” on the issue away from people who might do some good. First comes the calls for more research, preferably multi-decade studies and climate models that are no good unless they correctly predict every sunny day in Seattle for the next hundred years. Then cut the research budget, shuffle resources away from Earth observation and edit any report that makes it through. When that fails to keep a lid on public opinion, throw together a blue ribbon panel made up of petrobusiness executives and petrolobbyists to come up with some incredibly weak tea proposals. See: late-period George Bush (I and II); John McCain. What does it mean for Exxon? Voluntary guidelines. That’ll show them.

Stage 5: Apathy. At some point most denialists will acknowledge that warming is real, we caused it and maybe we should have done something serious back when solutions were still practical. But gosh, the problem has grown so severe, gasoline over $5 a gallon, stagflated recession, war and a national debt crisis mean that can’t realistically deal with it any more. Oh well, mea culpa. Try to hide your shock when denialists jump to 5 as the other fallback positions become untenable. What does it mean for Exxon? A red-eyed James Inhofe and the thirteen other Senate Republicans will beg Congress to focus on the future and not who sold their country out for a palmful of silver. Majority Leader Feingold will thank Inhofe for his input and vote to rename Capitol urinal pucks ‘Inhofe Cakes.’ Public opinion will waver between hearings and opening a wing at Guantanamo, but the energy crisis will be too severe to do much besides some very stern letters.

And there you have the wisdom of Exxon’s strategy. They don’t have to win, they just have to gum up the works long enough that solutions are no longer practical. Better luck next time, Miami.

Naivete Alert

Sully, reacting to McCain’s failure to vote to ban torture:

I’m heartbroken. Torture is illegal and immoral whether it is conducted by the military or the CIA. That was McCain’s original position. It appears it is no longer.

I like Andrew, but has he not followed ANYTHING the past 7 years? McCain, Graham, Specter, hell- there are a number of them- have spent the last two administrations running cover for this President. They say all the right things and then roll over and play dead, or are appeased with some last minute non-concession concession from the administration, and the President gets his way. It is an extremely cynical game, but it hasn’t been very well-hidden. Hell, Tim even created a category for it- Spectering.

This is why there is simply no chance in hell I will vote for a Republican this fall. The party is simply rotten to the core, and a vote for McCain will be a vote to continue this crap. The party needs to be destroyed, and I would vote for Cynthia McKinney for President over any Republican.

At least this time the bill passed. Most of the time when McCain stabbed us in the back the result went the other way.

*** Update ***

I really wouldn’t vote for Cynthia McKinney. It is called hyperbole, folks. You all should be familiar with it if you read this website.

A Juxtaposition

The Senate, yesterday:

After more than a year of wrangling, the Senate handed the White House a major victory on Tuesday by voting to broaden the government’s spy powers and to give legal protection to phone companies that cooperated in President Bush’s program of eavesdropping without warrants.

One by one, the Senate rejected amendments that would have imposed greater civil liberties checks on the government’s surveillance powers. Finally, the Senate voted 68 to 29 to approve legislation that the White House had been pushing for months. Mr. Bush hailed the vote and urged the House to move quickly in following the Senate’s lead.

The Senate, today:

N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell will travel to Washington on Wednesday to meet with Senator Arlen Specter for a discussion about the league’s investigation into the Patriots’ spying on other teams.

“I have a lot of questions,” Specter said. “I’m hoping to get some answers.”

Specter, of Pennsylvania, is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He first requested a meeting with Goodell in a letter in November. Specter wanted to know why the league had destroyed all evidence in the spying case and whether there was any indication that the Patriots had cheated when they played the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.

There is a very real and perverse possibility that the NFL will face tougher sanctions for spying on practice squads and covering it up than the telecoms and this President will face for spying on the citizenry and lying about it.

*** Update ***

And now I am riding the exercise bike and watching congresscritters grill Roger Clemens over steroids use. No administration official, in seven years of lying, crime, and outright perfidy, has ever been subjected to such a hostile interrogation.

Worthless bastards, the whole lot of them.

Spectering Lessons From A Master

True to form, when the time comes to back words up with deeds Arlen Specter has never met a matter of principle on which he won’t cave. In fact I can’t imagine why anybody would take his “concern” over Mukasey at face value. Specter has folded on the torture issue several times already, so why should this time turn out any different? If you want principles, forget fake mavericks like Specter, Graham and Warner and instead look to the vanishingly small cadre of unrepentant pains in the ass like Chuck Hagel. The difference between play-acting and following through couldn’t be more obvious.

Swing Your Partner, Dosey Do

I haven’t really been following the Mukasey hearings too closely, because, let’s be honest, we need to face facts. We all know the eventual outcome, because it is what always happens with these guys. There really are only two ways this will fall out:

Option 1:) Right now, several prominent Democrats in safe seats have announced their opposition to Mukasey. Several of the Democratic front-runners, pressured by Dodd’s near-immediate opposition to Mukasey’s waffling, have come out against him. Several Republicans will pose token opposition and state they are “concerned,” and then when push comes to shove, Graham and Specter do their walk-back and will vote the party line, “serious” Democrats will fold, and he will be confirmed with a vote of 65-35 or something around that.

Option 2:) This is the less likely option. In a display of cohesion and message clarity that will bewilder and stun long-time watchers, the Democratic majority will unite in opposition against Mukasey. At the last minute, Mukasey will be called to testify once again, utter some language that we will all be told in the press was crafted behind the scenes by Joe Lieberman and Lyndsey Graham (A BRODERISTIC BI-PARTISAN COMPROMISE!) that gives the Democrats enough political cover (but means nothing), Democrats will rush to proclaim that they accept Mukasey’s new clarification, and he will be confirmed 90-10, with only cranky SOB’s like Leahy, Feingold, Kennedy, and Byrd voting against.

Either way, Mukasey is going to get confirmed, he is not going to have to proclaim waterboarding is torture to get confirmed, and you all know it. We have just been down this road too many times. With that in mind, here is the latest verse in the same old song and dance:

As Democratic opposition builds over attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey, no Democratic lawmaker has found himself in a tighter spot than Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), who had eagerly recommended the former federal judge as a consensus candidate.

After Mukasey refused to say whether an interrogation technique called waterboarding amounts to illegal torture, Schumer has watched a growing number of his colleagues announce their opposition to the judge.

Schumer, who has remained uncharacteristically quiet throughout the furor, said in an interview yesterday that he is now “wrestling” with whether to vote against a nomination that he was instrumental in bringing about. He compared the controversy to the 2005 nomination battle over Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

Schumer voted no against Roberts, so who knows what that means, really. At any rate, like I said before, I came to the Democrats pre-disenchanted.

*** Update ***

Scott Horton. Read.

Then read this.

Then go up a post to the beerblogging, and just get drunk. I was going to say just get “shitty,” but I am trying to swear less. It seems you can say or suggest any manner of things, including advocating torture, permanent war, whatever, and be considered serious, just so long as you don’t swear. Toss off a few f-bombs and all your points are invalidated, according to our new masters in General Wingnuttia.

The Understated Importance of Johns McCain And Warner To The Rightwing Movement

Publius at ObWings recently brought up a point that most seem to miss.

[T]he problem with Warner isn’t that he puts politics first. The problem is that he puts politics first while pretending not to do so. Few can furrow their brow on the Sunday morning talk shows better than Warner. But when push comes to shove, Warner never really did anything different than people like Inhofe.

Indeed, never underestimate the value of principled “moderates” to the overall GOP effort. The kabuki generally runs like this: George Bush proposes some extravagant new executive power, say legal sanction to pull the legs off of kittens. The Democrats reasonably agree (mostly) that pulling legs off of kittens is wrong, but usually lack the party discipline and/or the overall votes to stop the president on their own. Worse, nothing terrifies Democrats more than the thought that somebody might call them soft on terrorism for denying the president the power to deal with the awful kitten leg threat. The thought of David Broder calling them partisan practically reduces Democratic leaders to tears.

Mirabile dictu!, some combination of John McCain, John Warner, Lindsay Graham and Arlen Specter will step up and announce grave, serious concerns about the president delimbing kittens, dangling the possibility of sustaining a kitten-leg filibuster. Hey, Harry Ried says, let’s let these guys take the lead! Take that, David Broder! A month later the very concerned Republicans announce a compromise that looks almost exactly like what the president proposed in the first place. Blue dogs vote GOP, of course, leaving Harry Reid looking like a twice-fooled chump. Kittens lose. It happened so often that I named a post category after it.

Then again, that kabuki only worked when Republicans held a modest majority in both houses. No doubt the GOP was as surprised as the rest of us to find the whole enterprise completely unnecessary.