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Category: General

Republican Governance in 2015: Gay-Bashing to Cover Up Your Rank Incompetence

[ 49 ] February 13, 2015 |

Shorter Sam Brownback: “OK, maybe my Laffernomics was an unmitigated disaster.  Don’t worry, it will mostly be the gays who end up unemployed.”

The ACA Troofer Clown Car

[ 25 ] February 13, 2015 |


CANNON X: “I assure you, Mr. King, that Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, and President Gruber have all told me that they did not want any tax credits on the federally established exchanges. Oh, and the real inflation rate is 50%. Just agree to file the lawsuit and we’ll get you a copy of Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate.”

Thanks to the investigations into the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, the question of standing is getting a lot of attention. I think that the Court should interpret standing broadly, so based on what I know now I wouldn’t embrace the argument that not one of the plaintiffs has standing. Roberts has at times advanced a much narrower view, but will certainly be willing to find standing if he wants to reach the merits. He’ll only find a lack of standing if he’s ambivalent about how to resolve the case and wants to put it off, while further advancing his views on standing doctrine in the bargain.  It would be somewhat good news in the short-term if Roberts were to use standing to duck the case, not only because it’s better than a reversal but because the more people sign up on the federally established exchanges the harder it will be for Roberts to pull the trigger on them if he doesn’t feel strong enough to side with the troofers now. I don’t think it’s likely at all that Roberts would do this, but stranger things have etc.

I agree with Beutler that the greater significance of the desperate search for plaintiffs is metaphorical. Decent people are generally unwilling to strip millions of people of their health insurance, using a nutty legal theory that at best could be cleaned up to sound arcane, to further less-than-trivial liberty interests. It’s instructive that the troofers weren’t able to find plaintiffs strong enough to prevent even the possibility of getting dismissed on standing grounds.

And the Court should also heed the troofer-in-chief. He’s entirely candid that the Republican offer to the uninsured is “nothing” — if the five Republicans on the Court side with them, the resulting blood is fully on their hands as well.


[ 95 ] February 13, 2015 |

As a follower of Oregon politics, I always knew John Kitzhaber was an odd duck, but I certainly never would have thought him corrupt or lacking an understanding of ethics. I guess the power of love combined with being in office way too long to create an atmosphere where small improprieties turned into larger ones. He was never much into making allies so I’m not surprised Oregon Democrats are abandoning him in droves. It does however sound like Democrats’ now nearly 30 year control over the governor’s office is not threatened because of everyone getting out in front of this and distancing themselves from Kitzhaber. Plus Secretary of State Kate Brown is popular within the state and Oregon Republicans are dysfunctional.

The convergence of the twain

[ 12 ] February 13, 2015 |


And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.

As I predicted a year ago, Hamline’s law school is merging with William Mitchell. Hamline was a prime candidate for extinction, as it has suffered from massive enrollment declines despite slashing effective tuition (nearly half the student body was paying less than half of sticker tuition last year), and it’s part of a small, modestly endowed university, that’s in no position to carry a professional school that’s bleeding red ink with no end in sight.

The Twin Cities’ legal market is not much larger than Denver’s, so it made no sense for it to try to support four law schools. Should have been done long ago.

(h/t to several LGM readers)


[ 39 ] February 13, 2015 |

Is there any reason Republicans shouldn’t shut down all or part of the federal government in 2015? For all the bad publicity Republicans received for the 2013 shutdown, how did it hurt them at all? A year or more out from the next election, they can basically do what they want without any electoral consequences, at least if 2014 is any guide. The shutdown wasn’t even an issue in the election. I struggle to see any down side for Republicans here.

Bipartisanship! And Big Ideas! With Leadership!

[ 44 ] February 13, 2015 |

I suppose I should respect what Bob Packwood has to say about passing major legislation, given he was a big player in the Senate for a long time before his personal improprieties brought him down. But I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at his prescription for a bipartisan tax bill:

First, is the president willing to get behind any bill that might pass Congress on a bipartisan basis? He must be on board ahead of time. If his position is that the bill must raise revenue and Congress’s position is that it must not raise revenue, forget it. Work instead on the Keystone XL pipeline, defeating the Islamic State, achieving Middle East peace and other issues that might find bipartisan congressional and presidential support.

Next, pick a small cadre, and start working on a bill.

Then, don’t dither. Get at it quickly, and finish it quickly.

And do it secretly. When the secret meetings are over, spring the bill full-blown.

Finally, make sure the bill has grandeur. Small steps will not stir mankind. Giant ones will.

Will the president lead with leadership? Will this bill stir mankind? What does that even mean in this context? I think one can safely say Packwood struggles to understand the present dynamics of U.S. politics, especially the relationship between the Senate and President Obama.

This is Not Going to be Interesting

[ 112 ] February 13, 2015 |

Horse race observers are going to try to manufacture drama in the Democratic primary — that’s their job. But as long as Clinton runs, it’s not going to work. I mean, when an evaluation of the potential field 1)fails to identify anyone who has any chance of running and poses any kind of credible threat, and 2)proffers a list that has only 11 names and yet has to be padded out with the likes of Bill Richardson, Joe Donnelly, Jerry Brown and Al Sharpton…I think it’s pretty obvious we’re looking at Secretariat against some tree-toed sloths here.

The first rule of journalism

[ 62 ] February 13, 2015 |

. . . is, don’t let yourself get bullshitted by a guy who comes right out and tells you he’s a bullshitter.

The second rule of journalism is, if you end up breaking the first rule, don’t do it in an excerpt from your forthcoming book published in the New York Times.

Kevin Carey breaks both rules in this piece, which is too bad since his book looks interesting, and I’m sympathetic to what appears to its central thesis.

The excerpt uses a profile of Stephen Trachtenberg, who was president of George Washington University from 1988-2007, to illustrate some of the dysfunctions of the contemporary American university system. Carey starts by pointing out that over the past generation schools like GW have gotten extremely expensive, and it’s to say the least unclear whether these massive price increases have led to today’s students getting a better education than their predecessors: Read more…

Pure, unadulterated evil

[ 135 ] February 12, 2015 |

I missed this during the superb owl of which we must never speak again, but McDonald’s current marketing gimmick is indescribably monstrous; in a remotely just or sane world everyone who approved this madness would have been fired by now, and unable to find marketing work in the future. My first reaction was to call it another entry for my “extroverts don’t understand introverts” file, but that’s grossly unfair to even the most clueless extroverts. I’d happily add a couple zeros to the cost of a McMuffin to avoid this horror. I struggle to imagine that I share a species with people who think this is a good idea. One particularly disastrous result:

 They said all I had to do is call a family member and tell them “I love you”.

The start of the f*ck up is calling my mother who knows that I had a brief history with depression and suicidal thoughts from high school bullies, the second f*ck up is starting the call with I love you.

She immediately started to freak out (mostly because I’m over 1000 miles away from her and the closest family is about 300 miles away from me) and was pretty scared that I was about to commit suicide. Over the course of the next 15 minutes I was on the phone reassuring her that I indeed wasn’t about to kill myself and make sure that she wasn’t on the next plane to arrive and come to visit. (Afterwards she also mentioned that it had given her a small asthma attack, but nothing her inhaler couldn’t handle.)

It’s always fascinating when a company becomes possessed of the notion that it can fundamentally transform itself through marketing gimmicks. I know I’m not alone in that every time I eat at McDonald’s or a similar chain, I’m quite likely to be in a foul mood. Entering such a restaurant is a de facto admission of failure. If I’d had my shit together to get to the grocery store; if I hadn’t been too lazy to cook a bowl of oatmeal this morning; if I’d planned enough time to get something better that takes a few minutes longer; if I had just a modicum of willpower to resist the temptation to eat greasy processed crap; I wouldn’t be here. And virtually every time I enter such a restaurant, I get the distinct vibe that everyone else in the building is more or less in the same boat as I (the employees, of course, are miserable for different and far more serious reasons). I would be, frankly, taken aback and a little troubled if the cashier were to so much as ask me how my day was going (which has never happened). I suppose I can see how one might reach the conclusion that desperate measure are required; unfortunately, the particular desperate measures they opted for merely demonstrate how contemptuous they are of their employees and customers, whose underpaid miserable labor and poor choices, respectively, pay their salaries.

David Carr

[ 5 ] February 12, 2015 |

   Horrible news. I’m not sure why, but this was the first piece of his that came to mind; it holds up amazingly well.

…excellent tribute from Dave Weigel.

Maureen Dowd’s Greatest Misses

[ 247 ] February 12, 2015 |

For time out of mind, this weblog has been critical of Maureen Dowd’s consistently ghastly op-ed column.  While we have made similar arguments about numerous pundits, Dowd is the most likely one to generate inexplicable defenses, so it’s worth taking stock of what exactly has made her column such a massively negative net contribution to the national net discourse.

Obviously, any such discussion has to start with her unforgivable conduct during campaign 2000, which involved not only passing on every conceivable lie being made about Al Gore but making up some of her own.  (For this reason, I’m not impressed by the fact that she started making up funny names to criticize the Bush administration.  I can forgive a 20-year-old college kid for believing lies about how an incompetent who governed to the right of the Texas legislature was a harmless moderate and that nothing is really at stake in a presidential election. A very well-compensated political pundit, not so much.)  Her columns leading up to an election that would result in hundreds of thousands of people being dead all over the world and Sam Alito with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court involved a multi-part series of columns in which Al Gore had an imaginary dialogue with his bald spot.

But she won a Pultizer!  Yeah, and Crash won Best Picture.  Read some of the columns she would be honored for — I triple-dare you.  (Sample disgraceful sexist nonsense: “Suddenly, That Woman stamped her feet. Like the Glenn Close character in “Fatal Attraction,” Monica Lewinsky issued a chilling ultimatum to the man who jilted her: I will not be ignored.”)

But, OK, her defenders say, she doesn’t care about policy at all, but she has such psychological insights.  No, she doesn’t. Not that this type of armchair psychology has much value anyway — the idea that pundits should be theater critics brought us such classics as “Dick Cheney — what a sensible moderate.” But even if you think this stuff matters more than I do, she has nothing to say about it.  As I said yesterday, she has one witless shtick — male Democratic politicians are women and Female Democratic politicians are men.  He narratives are not only devoid of substance, they don’t tell us anything about the politicians as individuals either.  Back in the day, Bob Somerby explained the basic dynamic:

But then, why should pundits criticize Coulter when she describes Dem males as big “f*ggots?” It’s very similar to the gender-based “analysis” their dauphine, the Comptesse Maureen Dowd, has long offered. In Dowd’s work, John Edwards is routinely “the Breck Girl”(five times so far—and counting), and Gore is “so feminized that he’s practically lactating.” Indeed, two days before we voted in November 2000, Dowd devoted her entire column, for the sixth time, to an imaginary conversation between Gore and his bald spot. “I feel pretty,” her headline said (pretending to quote Gore’s inner thoughts).That was the image this idiot wanted you carrying off to the voting booth with you! Such is the state of Maureen Dowd’s broken soul. And such is the state of her cohort.

And now, in the spirit of fair play and brotherhood, she is extending this type of “analysis” to Barack Obama. In the past few weeks, she has described Obama as “legally blonde” (in her headline); as “Scarlett O’Hara” (in her next column); as a “Dreamboy,” as “Obambi,” and now, in her latest absurd piece, as a “schoolboy” (text below). Do you get the feeling that Dowd may have a few race-and-gender issues floating around in her inane, tortured mind? But this sort of thing is nothing new for the comptesse. Indeed, such imagery almost defines the work of this loathsome, inane Antoinette.


Leave aside the persistent infantilism involved in images like “Godzilla” and “Bambi.” Here, Dowd states her endless—and vacuous—theme. Big Dem males (like “Barry”) are girls. And big Dem women are men.

Dowd has pimped these inane, tortured theme for more than a decade. For the record, though, one Dem male was not a girl in Saturday’s column. That would be Clinton aide Howard Wolfson. In paragraph 7, Dowd called him as a “thug.”

So let’s see. Obama (“Obambi”) is just a boy. Clinton (“Godzilla”) is a man—and she’s feral. And what led Dowd to cast this strange drama? Simple! When David Geffen called Clinton every name in the book, Clinton called on Obama to denounce his statements! Was this a good tactical move by Clinton? We have no idea—but it’s a very tame bit of political conduct. But it isn’t tame in the mind of Dowd, or in the scripts of her well-scripted cohort! (More below.) In Dowd’s mind, this unexceptional behavior made Clinton a thug—and, of course, it made her a man. And when Obama didn’t punch back hard enough, that made him a weak boy—a “Barry.”

Dowd goes on and on, throughout this column, trying to start a (pointless) fight among Dems. But let’s remember the basic theme: Every Democrat must be a loser! When Clinton makes a fairly trivial move, she has fought Obama too hard! When Obama doesn’t name-call Clinton, he hasn’t fought hard enough!

It would be hard to get dumber than this. And it’s hard to imagine why grown men and women at the Times (Andrew Rosenthal) still put this embarrassing schlock into print. But unfortunately, Maureen Dowd is an authority figure, writing at the top of our “journalistic” elite. She has offered this tormented dreck for years. During that time, Dems and liberals have suffered endlessly from her dumb, tortured conduct. We are in Iraq today because of the work of these losers.

In yesterday’s thread, Dilan offered a novel defense of this utterly worthless crap — she said mean things about Edwards, and Edwards’s political career flames out, so she was a prophet!  But that obviously won’t get off the ground.  First of all, there’s the Mickey Kaus problem — you don’t get credit for predicting 12 of the last 1 Democratic scandals.  When you say the same thing about every Democrat who might be president you’re bound to be right eventually, but that doesn’t prove that you had the goods at the time.  But this is actually unfair to Kaus — he did, at least, prove to be right about a specific bad act by Edwards, even if he just got lucky.  Dowd’s Breck Girl columns about Edwards weren’t using the slurs as a metaphor for some larger problem she went on to explain.  She didn’t say he was adulterous or provide evidence that he wasn’t really a liberal – her argument was that Edwards got expensive haircuts and was therefore a chick like all other male Democratic politicians.  How this makes her prescient about his destroying his political career with an affair with a woman is…unclear.  Incidentally, while I wasn’t an Edwards supporter I’ve never understood how his affair exposed his political views as “phony.”  He never held elected office again, and if being a bad spouse means you can’t be a progressive LBJ and FDR were “phonies” too.

And finally, let’s end with this column, which never got enough attention:

In worn jeans and old sneakers, the shy and retiring Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean looked like a crunchy Vermont hippie, blithely uncoiffed, unadorned, unstyled and unconcerned about not being at her husband’s side — the anti-Laura. You could easily imagine the din of Rush Limbaugh and Co. demonizing her as a counterculture fem-lib role model for the blue states.

While Elizabeth Edwards gazes up at John from the front row of his events here, while Jane Gephardt cheerfully endures her husband’s ”Dick and Jane” jokes, while Teresa Heinz Kerry jets around for ”conversations” with caucusgoers — yesterday she was at the Moo Moo Cafe in Keokuk at the southernmost tip of the state — Judith Steinberg has shunned the role of helpmeet.

Many women cheered Judy Steinberg as a relief and a breakthrough. Why should she have to feign subservience in 2003, or compromise as Hillary Rodham and Teresa Heinz did when they took their husbands’ names? But many political analysts said that just as the remote technocrat Michael Dukakis needed Kitty around to warm him up, the emotionally chilly Howard Dean could benefit from the presence of someone who could illuminate his softer side. So far he has generated a lot of heat but little warmth.

And at a moment when he’s under attack by Democratic rivals for reinventing his political persona and shifting positions, he could use a character witness on the road to vouch for his core values.

Leave aside the…actually, no, let’s not leave aside the grotesque, sneering sexism here, which is all too typical. But also note that none of this is even colorably relevant to the presidential campaign. How Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean dresses tells us nothing substantive about Howard Dean, it tells us nothing of any public interest about Howard Dean as an individual, and the idea that people vote based on how the spouses of candidates dress is beyond nutty. The prose is terrible, the content is terrible, and as with Friedman one reinforces the other so that they’re virtually inseparable.  It’s not just sexism; it’s vapid know-nothingism. It’s remarkable that she still occupies the same editorial real estate a decade later.

“There are no homosexuals doin’ homosexual things in my junk pile”

[ 17 ] February 12, 2015 |

This report on conditions on the ground in Alabama now that gay marriage is legal is not to be missed.

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