Kevin Drum takes a look at what the President’s recent moves mean for next year:
All of these things are worthwhile in their own right, of course, but there’s a political angle to all of them as well: they seriously mess with Republican heads. GOP leaders had plans for January, but now they may or may not be able to do much about them. Instead, they’re going to have to deal with enraged tea partiers insisting that they spend time trying to repeal Obama’s actions. They can’t, of course, but they have to show that they’re trying. So there’s a good chance that they’ll spend their first few months in semi-chaos, responding to Obama’s provocations instead of working on their own agenda.
Case in point: Congressional Republicans are now going to have to spend significant time and energy in a Cold War battle with Obama over Cuba policy–one that is likely to end in failure, and that appeals only to a sliver of the U.S. population.
After all the interminable stuff we heard in 2014 about the Great Big Adult Republicans getting control over the unruly Tea Folk, I think we’ll find that Boehner and McConnell aren’t going to easily restrain conservatives with so much chum in the water. The provocation to a feeding frenzy is just becoming way too overpowering.
Greg Sargent also makes the case that Obama’s actions are laying the groundwork for a 2016 campaign that places the Democratic candidate (Hillary Clinton) on the right side of history and looking toward the future, and the Republican candidates on the wrong side and stuck in the past.
The News Journal has an article titled “Republicans Seek Out Carper for Help.” Hahahaha. They won’t have to go far to find to him, for Carper sleeps on the welcome mat outside the Republican front door. And they won’t have to beg for something. Carper will offer it all.
They want to pretend that all the protests against police brutality and police murder were directed at all police, calling for the death of police officers in response to the murder of two black men in Missouri and New York. They want to pretend that Mayor De Blasio and President Obama, in legitimatizing the concerns of the protesters by speaking to their concerns, also called for the death of police.
The have to pretend all that because they never want to be questioned or criticized, even when one of them does wrong. And any and all questions or criticism of bad cop behavior is taken as a direct attack on all cops, the good ones and the bad. Perhaps because in their mind there is no good or bad behavior. There is only police behavior, and that cannot be good or bad. Perhaps whatever they do is to be considered right and just for the simple reason that it was a police officer doing it.
That is fascism.
And it is the only thing I can think of to explain the outrageous overreaction of a few on the right to the horrible and evil murder of two police officers in Brooklyn this weekend.
Politico: “Obama’s turnaround in recent weeks – he’s seized the offensive with a series of controversial executive actions and challenges to leaders in his own party on the budget — can be attributed to a fundamental change in his political mindset, according to current and former aides. He’s gone from thinking of himself as a sitting (lame) duck, they tell me, to a president diving headlong into what amounts to a final campaign – this one to preserve his legacy, add policy points to the scoreboard, and – last but definitely not least – to inflict the same kind of punishment on his newly empowered Republican enemies, who delighted in tormenting him when he was on top.”
I am going to take much pleasure in that.
Roll Call says we might have a new governing coalition in Congress:
The hard right and the hard left ended up out in the cold last week — free to raise their fists and their profiles and make a ruckus, but ultimately powerless to stop the cromnibus. The deal represents a return — at least for a week — to the fabled establishment Washington dealmaking of yore, warts and all, like it or loathe it. It’s a return that could put the ‘do nothing’ label back on the congressional shelf — with Republicans and the president eyeing deals next year on trade and taxes, in addition to keeping the government open for business after four years of serial shutdown and default dramas.
No wonder Tom Carper has been annoying lately. He is living his dream. But such a coalition will be temporary, because we do live in polarized times, and living in polarized times is the normal condition of our politics. Brendan Nyhan calls the bipartisanship of the mid-20th century that Tom Carper dreams about “a historical anomaly.”
Politico: “Obama feels liberated, aides say, and sees the recent flurry of aggressive executive action and deal-making as a pivot for him to spend the last two years being more of the president he always wanted to be.”
“As of Wednesday, that includes doing what 50-plus years of predecessors couldn’t do in relations with Cuba, propelling a generational shift in American foreign policy that could bring down the last pillar of the Cold War. The Cuba announcement follows a post-Election Day sprint that included sealing a landmark climate agreement with China, shielding five million undocumented immigrants from deportation and reaching a deal that funds most of the government for nearly a year while protecting Obamacare and other top priorities.”
Jason330 wrote about Senator Elizabeth Warren’s speech on the Senate floor last week, and the punditry is still talking about it, and the possibility, despite her refusal, that she will run against Hillary Clinton for President. John Cassidy at The New Yorker:
Right now, the Democratic Party has three leaders: President Obama, who is term-limited; Clinton, the establishment successor-in-waiting; and Warren, whose role is difficult to define, but also increasingly difficult to ignore. Of the three, there’s no doubt who is conveying the most consistent message and generating the most enthusiasm among liberal activists: it’s Warren, with her populist crusade against Wall Street and moneyed interests. [...]
The speech she delivered on the floor of the Senate on Friday evening has been viewed more than a quarter of a million times on YouTube. Also on Friday, more than three hundred people who worked on the Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012 signed a public letter urging Warren to enter the Presidential race. [...] In saying that she’s not running, Warren can continue to use her prominent position in the Senate to promote the causes she believes in. She can also wait to see if Clinton falters. If that doesn’t happen, Warren can eventually fall in line with the party establishment and help elect the first female President. But if Clinton does stumble badly, in Iowa or before, Warren would still have an opportunity to step in. With her name recognition and army of supporters nationwide, many of them young and tech-savvy, she could quickly raise money and put together an improvised campaign operation.
And we some good polling goodness, and some pretty horrible polling badness about Americans and torture.
It would appear that what began as an unexpected handshake between Cuban President Raul Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama back last year at Nelson Mandela’s funeral may have turned into actual negotiations that resulted today in the release of an American prisoner in Cuba, and the start of talks between the two countries about the resumption of diplomatic relations.
The U.S. is starting talks with Cuba to normalize full diplomatic relations and open an embassy, according to U.S. officials. The expanded relationship would also open imports of Cuban cigars somewhat, according to a CNN report. U.S. President Obama, Cuba’s Raul Castro plan to speak separately at noon ET about relations between the two countries. Obama plans to overhaul Cuba’s policy while Cuba plans to free 53 political prisoners and to allow U.S. debit and credit cards, Dow Jones reported. This follows Cuba’s release of American Alan Gross from a Cuban prison where he spent five years on espionage charges, NBC reported.
Longtime readers will know my frustration with Delaware and its revenues. We have what is essentially a flat tax rate system for the middle and higher brackets of income. If one person has $60,000 in taxable income and another has $600,000 and another has $6 million, they all pay exactly the same tax rate. But we can never… NEVER!!!!!! … raise taxes on those at the higher levels, because, you know, they are job creators and it will hurt their fees fees. So we have to scrounge around every year, waiting desperately for every DEFAC forecast to come out with good news. We have to talk about raising regressive fees and taxes, like the gas taxes, which fall disproportionately on those who least can afford to pay more. We have to talk about deeper and deeper spending cuts.
And we have to resort to a Task Force to tell us what is wrong with our “revenue structure.” And that task force will come back with proposals for a gas tax and a sales tax, both regressive taxes, and both unpopular, which will “force” the Governor to look to spending cuts to education and Medicaid. That’s the Delaware Way.
One of the great ironies of our time is that the radical Republican hates the tyrannical Big Obama Government, yet wants that tyrannical Big Government to torture. James Antle III calls out the Republican hypocrites who apologize for torture:
[T]he case for limited government is weakened when those making it ignore or defend torture, testicle-crushing, and waterboarding, complaining only about big government when someone proposes spending taxpayer dollars to help people. And I say that as someone who has written a book arguing that seemingly benign and compassionate government spending can curtail individual freedom.
It is difficult to take someone seriously who thinks the imprisonment of human beings in cages and the behavior of government agents with guns have less impact on personal freedom than the capital-gains tax rate. That is one reason it is so easy for many to dismiss arguments against programs like Obamacare as being motivated purely by economic self-interest.
The truth is that there is no irony, no hypocrisy. The truth is, and this issue, and the issue of abortion, lays bare the lie that is the Republican Party today: Republicans do not hate big government at all. They love it. And they love it precisely because they are fascists. They want to control you and society. That is why they also support police officers who murder with no provocation. It is why they support torture. It is why they want to abolish reproductive choice, public education, public health, and social security. All of those things free the citizen and uplifts them. But that is not what the Republican Party wants.
Andrew Hawkins, a football player for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, wore the T-shirt you see above during the game warm ups on Sunday. Like in St. Louis, when some St. Louis Rams players last week entered the stadium during game introductions with their hands up, the local police in Cleveland demanded an apology from the Cleveland Browns organization and Mr. Hawkins himself. The Cleveland Browns said no, no apology, stating correctly:
“We have great respect for the Cleveland Police Department and the work that they do to protect and serve our city,” the Browns said in a statement, via Cleveland.com. “We also respect our players’ rights to project their support and bring awareness to issues that are important to them if done so in a responsible manner.”
Then Hawkins hit it out of the park with his statement……
In a Senate floor speech last week, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) laid out a progressive economic agenda that would create millions of new jobs, raise wages, protect the environment and provide health care for all. Sanders laid out the problem facing America: the murder of the middle class by the rich.
“Today, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages[.] We once led the world in terms of the percentage of our people who graduated college, but we are now in 12th place. Our infrastructure, once the envy of the world, is collapsing. Real unemployment today is not 5.8 percent, it is 11.5 percent, if we include those who have given up looking for work or who are working part time when they want to work full time. Youth unemployment is 18.6 percent and African-American youth unemployment is 32.6 percent.”
Paul Krugman on Wall Street’s Revenge:
“Most interest groups have stable political loyalties. For example, the coal industry always gives the vast bulk of its political contributions to Republicans, while teachers’ unions do the same for Democrats. You might have expected Wall Street to favor the G.O.P., which is always eager to cut taxes on the rich. In fact, however, the securities and investment industry — perhaps affected by New York’s social liberalism, perhaps recognizing the tendency of stocks to do much better when Democrats hold the White House — has historically split its support more or less equally between the two parties.”
“But that all changed with the onset of Obama rage. Wall Street overwhelmingly backed Mitt Romney in 2012, and invested heavily in Republicans once again this year. And the first payoff to that investment has already been realized. Last week Congress passed a bill to maintain funding for the U.S. government into next year, and included in that bill was a rollback of one provision of the 2010 financial reform.”
No, Cleveland cops, you are not owed an apology. You owe us one.
Senator Thomas Carper realized the most significant achievement in his long congressional career on Saturday night: when the Cromnibus Bill passed, the long sought after Delaware National Park was finally established. For years, Delaware was saddled with the indignity of being the only state in the union not to have a national park. This was the most important and damaging problem facing Delaware for decades, second only to the lack of bipartisanship, so of course our brave and tireless Senator fought to solve the problem.
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., who has steadfastly sought a park designation for Delaware, released a statement after the vote on Friday. “Now, Delaware can have a national park that preserves and teaches the lessons of our state’s heritage and our country’s history,” he said.
U.S. Rep. John Carney, D-Del., called the historical park a “tremendous achievement,” in a written statement, saying “I look forward to taking my family and visitors from out of state to visit the natural and historic sites in our park.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think of a “national park,” I think of a contiguous natural place that we have preserved in its wild state. I also think of a park.
This appears to be what is left for us, to die. With no apparent representation in the halls of power, our choice is to die – literally or symbolically.
We are wild about calling ourselves and our country “free.” Have you been to a football or baseball game lately? They have become nauseating exercises in self-congratulations over our great freedoms. But what are we really free from? Are we free from debt? Probably not. Are we free from being beaten or killed by cops? Are we free from anxiety? Hardly. Free from the indignity of institutionalized injustices?
We have never been less free then we are today. When the majority of Americans are not represented by a political party, inch by inch, drop by drop freedom wanes.
Michael Hanlon claims that the “true age of innovation – I’ll call it the Golden Quarter – ran from approximately 1945 to 1971,” during which time just about everything that “defines the modern world either came about, or had its seeds sown,” from the pill to computers to civil rights. One reason he believes we’ve stagnated? Our increasing risk aversion…
Andrew Sullivan calls bullshit on something that we have heard from coward Wall Street Democrats like Chuck Schumer:
I’ve heard this a million times now and I simply don’t understand it. In terms of chronology, Obama did put the economy first. With TARP and the stimulus and the auto-bailout, the key measures to shore up a flat-lining economy were taken in short order. You could plausibly argue, I think, that in retrospect, Obama should have gone bigger, and produced a much more ambitious stimulus. But, as someone who observed this close-up and in real time, the odds of that actually happening were close to zero. And if it had happened, the stimulus would have been even less popular – and more easily demagogued – than it actually was. The problem was not the timing or the seriousness of the response; it was the seriousness of the problem. When an economy has a near-death experience, on top of huge public and private debt, the recovery will tend to be exactly what this recovery was: long, sad at first, and later … well, we don’t know yet, do we?
Sens. Tom Coburn and Mary Landrieu gave their farewell addresses on the Senate floor Thursday and were praised by colleagues. Coburn gave an emotional address about the power of individual senators and the importance of compromise and oversight. He praised Sen. Tom Carper, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee where Coburn is ranking member. “He has been a phenomenal chairman. … We do not agree on everything, but the one thing we agreed on was that we were going to work together to solve problems.”
Carper returned the praise, citing the movement of cyber bills and others as a testament to his work. “Legislation is moving through this body and through the House this week — it is pretty amazing, — to strengthen our cyber defenses,” Carper said.