Friday, November 28, 2014

As If There isn't Enough on the Line in 2016, We Have the Supreme Court

     Paul Waldman points out that the next President has a good chance of deciding the makeup of the SJC.

     Just recently Ron Brownstein pointed out that 2016 will likely be sudden death between the GOP Congress and Obama as the GOP will run against and the Democratic candidate-presumably Hillary-will run on Obama's signature achievements-Obamacare, the executive order on immigration, his deal with the Chinese on carbon emissions, etc.

     What strikes me is how reactionary the GOP sounds, which I guess is appropriate as they are conservatives. All they represent is trying to put the genie back in the bottle-as if we had a utopia prior to Obama coming into office in 2009. Yeah, let's go back to the Bush years! Is that a winning slogan for 2016? I doubt it as even now Bush is so toxic, even Republicans themselves don't want to be seen in public with him. 

      However, as the SJC is also up for grabs the ante rises even more precipitously. 

      "Ordinarily, the Supreme Court is brought up almost as an afterthought in presidential campaigns. The potential for a swing in the court is used to motivate activists to volunteer and work hard, and the candidates usually have to answer a debate question or two about it, which they do in utterly predictable ways (“I’m just going to look for the best person for the job”). We don’t usually spend a great deal of time talking about what a change in the court is likely to mean. But the next president is highly likely to have the chance to engineer a swing in the court. The consequences for Americans’ lives will probably be more consequential and far-reaching than any other issue the candidates will be arguing about."

      I've noted a number of times that the parties have basically been at parity for the last 46 years-since the election of Nixon before which the New Deal liberal Democrat coalition dominated. Despite all the storm and stress between the parties what we end up with again and again-parity; unfortunately according to the pollsters the American people think there is virtue in this parity which David Brooks and his friends christens with the Holy name Bipartisanship. The less Holy name for this is gridlock. 

     Despite the parity, however, the Repugs have managed a significant advantage in one area: the judicial branch which since Reagan has leaned 5-4 conservative. This is signficant as we've certainly seen the last few years-we saw a significant part of the Voting Rights Act struck down and Citizen's Untied among other major verdicts. In that sense the conservatives have been in power for the last 30 years. 

    "As much as we’ve debated Supreme Court cases in recent years, we haven’t given much attention to the idea of a shift in the court’s ideology because for so long the court has been essentially the same: divided 5-4, with conservatives having the advantage yet liberals winning the occasional significant victory when a swing justice moves to their side. And though a couple of recent confirmations have sparked controversy (Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor were both the target of failed attempts to derail their nominations), all of the retirements in the last three presidencies were of justices from the same general ideology as the sitting president. The last time a new justice was radically different from the outgoing one was when Clarence Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall — 23 years ago."

      Just another reason we really need a Democratic President in 2016. 

      "Whether a Democrat or a Republican wins in 2016, he or she may well have the chance to shift the court’s ideological balance. Ginsburg is the oldest justice at 81; Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy are both 78, and Stephen Breyer is 76. If the right person is elected and the right justice retires, it could be an earthquake."

      "Consider this scenario: Hillary Clinton becomes president in 2017, and sometime later one of the conservative justices retires. Now there would be a liberal majority on the court, a complete transformation in its balance. A court that now consistently favors those with power, whether corporations or the government, would become much more likely to rule in favor of workers, criminal defendants and those with civil rights claims. Or alternately: The Republican nominee wins, and one of the liberal justices retires. With conservatives in control not by 5-4 but 6-3, there would be a cascade of even more conservative decisions. The overturning of Roe v. Wade would be just the beginning."
     P.S. I don't agree with Sumner on too much-actually I probably agree on some things but he makes his business to be very disagreeable on those areas we disagree. If he is advocating for a parliamentary system of government here I may tend to agree. 
    "I’ve read both sides of the debate over the recent actions by Obama on illegal immigration.  And I can’t decide who’s right.  Was it a completely lawful decision by an executive exercising prosecutorial discretion, or an outrageous overreach by an executive who essentially re-wrote the law on immigration?"
     "And that’s exactly the problem.  It ought to be possible to tell whether an outrageous abuse of power has occurred.  But our system of government in America is based on a hopelessly vague document called the Constitution, which does not clearly spell out who has the power to do what. If we had a parliamentary system like Britain, it would be immediately apparent whether an abuse of power had occurred."

      "On immigration it is the right complaining of an outrageous abuse of power.  But it is pundits on the left who worry that the Supreme Court may rule that the ACA does not allow for the federal government to provide insurance subsidies via federal insurance exchanges.  Paul Krugman is already warning that a ruling along those lines would be an outrageous abuse of power. There sure is a lot of abuse of power going around! And once again, this problem would not occur under a parliamentary government.  They would respond to any court ruling by simply fixing the language of the law."

     He then goes on to call Obama's immigration move as a win from both a utilitarian perspective and a libertarian perspective. 

     "As an aside, the immigration decision is a win from the utilitarian perspective.  What I don’t see discussed very much is that it is also a win for libertarianism.  It will create a small libertopia of about 5 million people right within the US.  These people will be terrified of stealing things, for fear of deportation.  But they will have little to fear if they don’t violate the property rights of others. They will no longer have to fear the INS—only the groups that all Americans fear (IRS, TSA, NSA, CIA, FBI, local police who need to seize more cash to finance their budgets, and all the other scary groups out there.)  And they will have to work to survive–no relying on welfare benefits.  That’s not a pure libertopia, but it’s pretty close.  In no other time or place did you have legal gay marriage, legal pot, and no welfare.  Not even Holland. And yet (formerly) illegal alien communities in many western states will now face that policy regime.  I wish them good luck."

      I'm not a libertarian at least not economically-though politically here on immigration I certainly am. In a perfect world I'd rather they had access to welfare benefits. By the way who does Sumner claim is surviving by not working but just sitting back relying on welfare benefits? No one in our country. Food stamps have never been a princely sum and the GOP has mericlessly cut and cut it the last 4 years. Anyway you cant live off food stamps alone-for starters you have to actually live somewhere. He loves to obscure this point: there is no one who doesn't have at least one of the two following who is relying purely on welfare benefits to live:

      1. A woman with kids

      2. Someone with a legally verificiable disability. 

    He loves to use the phrase 'welfare benefits' without identifying what these are. In fact the only meaningful welfare is TANF-again available only to women with kids.  It makes sense for conservatives to do this as most Americans tell the pollsters they hate welfare but then don't want to cut any actual programs. 

     However, this is ideal. I get that Obama had to make sure they wouldn't be eligible for welfare-meager though it is-as a sop to quell any political outrage over more 'welfare queens.' I do agree with most of the rest of Sumner's paragraph and if this welfare clause makes him like it more maybe Obama wrote this right-as many get all worked up over 'handouts.'  I agree that it's a good thing that they have a high incentive not to engage in theft or crime. 

     P.S.S. I do like the sound of a parliamentary system. Just because it would get rid of the thing I hate more than anything right now about U.S. politics: constant gridlock. That's why I love what Obama did: basically Congress has abdicated it's role so the President must act. 

      I'm sure any debate on the virtues of a parliamentary vs. 'separations of powers system' has more to it than this. I'm only looking at one aspect-that our SoP system leads to gridlock. Overall, it's tough to argue that Britain is anywhere close to a utopia right now, so it's not a panacea. There may be many other virtues in the SoP not being considered right now. Plus, it's not as if our system has always been this bad-it's mostly been since around 1993 when the GOP who had felt entitled to the Presidency for evermore simply had a 8 year temper tantrum because they lost. 

     Still to get rid of gridlock would make things a lot less frustrating than they are now. I don't want to rule out parliamentary government too quickly; obviously in reality it's probably impossible to actually make the change legally and politically speaking.  

Oil Apparently Doesn't Hurt the Stock Market Anymore

     Time was a drop like we saw on Thanksgiving in the oil market would have led to 'blood in the streets' in equities. Today though after seeing West Texas Crude drop as much as $6 dollars yesterday after OPEC was unable to reach agreement on cutting production, the larger market is actually up.

     What seems to be going on is that some in OPEC-particularly the Saudis-want to protect market share vis a vis the US shale oil and gas boom. They basically said that North America can cut back on supply if supply is a problem. The trouble is that OPEC can't agree among itself. Some of the poorer countries wanted a production cut but the Saudis blocked them.

       The economic output is hard to predict. The concern is that it will hurt the oil companies and the shale boom-it's been said that many can't be profitable with oil below $70. Surely it helps consumers and businesses that by gas and oil. Welcome back to the land of gas under $3 again for now.

       The market itself today though has risen. The oil stocks are getting killed as is the XLE but the retailers and airlines are up. I saw a trader questioned on the trading floor earlier on CNBC and he made sense. Play your sectors right but stay away from oil for now as that market is too dangerous.

        I'd be nervous trying to short the XLE now too-until today while oil had dropped from the low 80s to the low 70s, XLE had basically run in place. Now it's down $5 dollars today but is that a 'flush' where the price will stabilize or will it drop further? It's not an easy call based on what we've seen previously. The rest of the market, however, looks good-if you play the right sectors.

         P.S. I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving. I did-as I Giants fan I still really enjoyed the Eagles routing Dallas that way right in front of Jerry Jones. It didn't hurt that I had a little money on Philly. I told that to Jim Cramer on Twitter and he favorited my tweet! I've reached a new nadir!



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Diary of a Republican Hater Nation!

      Today I'm going to do on Thanksgiving what God and Mother Nature intended for me: eat turkey and watch football.

      I am also going to use this day to praise-George W. Bush! Strange choice, huh? I mean rest assured as you might guess, I've never been a fan. Of all the Presidents I remember, he-and Reagan-are my least favorite. I liked Bush's father better too. Truth be told, Bush the II was one of my least favorite Presidents ever. Along with Reagan. I mean I know I'm a Democrat who doesn't like Republicans-'hates them' as I like to say just to make some folks a little uncomfortable who's sensibilities are a little too pristine-perhaps they should read David Brooks rather than me-but even so, I really didn't like the second Bush. I mean I think Nixon was better-I don't remember Nixon, I was too young but I know something about his history. I liked Nixon better.

     I'm actually quite fascinated by Nixon-and Pat Buchanan who has written a triumphalist account of him now. What's interesting is that Buchanan when he was working for Nixon actually drew up the hated Philadelphia Plan-aka, affirmative action. Probably no one spends more time criticizing affirmative action than Buchanan, yet he is the architect of it. I mean it's as if the biggest Lawman in the world actually created Crime.

    Don't get me wrong, there's some very nasty sentiments in Buchanan. When he wrote the PP had explicitly advocated it as a 'wedge issue between the unions and their Black friends.' So every time you see him inveigh on the buggaboo of 'quotas' remember they are his baby. Today no one is more implacably opposed to immigration than Buchanan.

     Yet for all that, he's very clear why he opposes it: it hurts the GOP. I don't think he's wrong here. When it's discussed why the GOP has opposed immigration so much this is why-it will morally wound the party.

      He thinks the only hope is for the GOP to resist immigration by hook or by crook. A big part of his nostalgia in looking back on his hero Nixon, is that Nixon was the architect of the New Majority-it should be emphasized that this New Majority was in Buchanan's mind first and foremost a White New Majority. So in his mind the GOP's flirtation with immigration can only be to bring about its own ruin-the end of the White New Majority.

     Of course, the GOPer that Buchanan blames the most for this short sighted move to amnesty is the George W. Bush. Of course, even the great Reagan did something for illegal immigrants as did the first Bush. I'm currently reading Richard Draper's book about W. Bush's Administration, the title of which is appropriate enough: Dead Certain. 

    It aptly sums up Bush who always eschewed any nuance and believed everything was an unambiguous Black or White. Part of why I didn't like him no doubt was style-as well as substance. I guess it's a temperament thing. Some people liked his 'plainspokeness I just saw it as a kind of stubborn dogmatism. Don't bore me with facts, I know what I know!

    Comparably, a lot of people I assume can't stand President Obama's style-he is as nuanced as Bush was opposed to all nuance-and while Bush saw Black and White, Obama sees little but grey areas. However, I really like Obama's style and don't find it in any way 'fake' or dishonest-which people who don't understand nuance always assume. Obama doesn't come out all one-sided like Bush as the truth is rarely one-sided.

    What's interesting though is how much I agree with what the Bushies were saying about immigration all the way back to the early days of the Administration. Karl Rove's support of immigration is nothing new; as a Bushie, this goes all the way back to when he and W were in Texas. Amnesty has become this dirty word-even the Obama Administration has to assure us what he did with his EO was not amnesty. In 2001, 2002, the Bushies were talking about amnesty as if it's a good thing-why not legalize all 11 million undocumented workers and let the market figure it out?

      UPDATE: I should quote this great line they wrote: 'Immigration is not a problem to be solved. It is a sign of a confident and successful nation.'

     In 2006 Bush wanted immigration reform but his own party torpedoed it. Now today, his brother, Jeb Bush-married to a Mexican-and someone who is all for amnesty in his heart of hearts will have to run against Obama's Executive Action. This is what politics does. The one area that Bush was light years ahead of his party of course will be the one area they will reject most readily.

     I've said it since 2012 when the GOP was itself declaring that it had to do immigration reform had to get this albatross off it's neck: the GOP never learns. That's what being a Republican means since Goldwater at least: you can never learn from anything. I had said at the time they wouldn't do immigration-then came that piece from Heritage that assured the GOP Congressmen that they didn't need Hispanic votes-there were more than enough White people for them to win.

    Now Pace Buchanan they really are going to the graveyard. Immigration is going to be the rock in which the Grand Ole Party will shipwreck itself. Within the next 10 to 20 years how badly they have chosen will become clear. As a Democrat I can be grateful that they won;t figure this out till the cows have long since left the barn. Then they'll say Gee, we better shut the barn door. 


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ezra Klein Shows Why We Needed a Trial in Ferguson, Missouri

      I haven't been entirely of one mind in this debate. I have felt like the powers that be in this case-the police, the DA, etc.-have been strangely incurious about what happened, yet I did feel once they relented and gave us a GJ that the protesters and those who felt that Michael Brown was murdered in cold blood were a little bit too sure that they are right. I mean that's what the GJ is meant to determine.

    What we seemed to be hearing from a lot of protesters in Missouri was there better be a indictment or there will be hell to pay. That's not how the justice works or should work. All you have the right to expect is a fair trial.

    However, I also see what what I was losing sight of was that this was just a GJ not a trial. In a GJ all we need is probable cause not beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Klein does a very good job at looking at the facts that we know now that Officer Darren Wilson has told us his side of the story. His account is just hard to figure out. As Klein shows, not everything he says is inconsistent with the evidence. However, a a good deal with it is. And the whole narrative is hard to understand: why did Brown seem to have a death wish that night? Why would an unarmed 18 year old boy stick his head into a police officer's car and dare him to shoot him?

    Still not everything he says is inconsistent with the evidence. In this case, why not have a trial? Isn't that exactly what a trial is meant to determine? At the end of the day, Wilson's version of events raises as many questions as it answers.

     Then you have the strange behaviour of  the prosecutor who seemed to be not just the prosecutor at the GJ but the defense attorney-it seems he basically did an evidence dump. And why did they wait until late at night to release the evidence? I mean that's very strange behavior too if the goal is to avoid a riot.  So there is very good reason for there to be a trial and not having one is a miscarriage of justice.

If 2016 is a Referendum on Immigration I Say Bring it

     Ron Brownstein, who I, to say the least, don't always agree with-he seems to be another media member like David Brooks or Bob Woodward who seems to believe in bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship; I always say that if the Republicans wanted to build concentration camps and the Dems didn't, Brownstein and Brooks would criticize the Dems in insisting on no concentration camps-'The Congressional Republicans want 50 camps and Obama wants 0 so let's just have 15 or 20'-has written a pretty interesting column. Here he may be right about 2016 and I hope he is: that it will be a referendum on Obama's executive action on immigration.

       "It didn't take long for the potential 2016 presidential contenders to retreat to separate corners last week after President Obama announced his executive action providing legal status to some 5 million undocumented immigrants.
As quickly as Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for Obama's explosive decision, a procession of possible 2016 Republican candidates condemned it. In the process, both sides underscored the likelihood that the next presidential election will function as a sort of sudden-death overtime for the confrontations already escalating between Obama and congressional Republicans, not only on immigration, but also climate, health care, and foreign policy.
The public's assessment of a retiring president always shadows the race to replace him: In exit polls, attitudes about the overall job performance of Ronald Reagan in 1988, Bill Clinton in 2000, and George W. Bush in 2008 powerfully predicted whether voters supported his party's choice to succeed him.
But in those elections, the party nominees actually spent relatively little time debating whether to maintain the outgoing president's specific policy agenda. In 1988, Democrat Michael Dukakis largely avoided Reagan. In 2000, Bush handled Clinton mostly through his oblique promise to restore "honor and dignity to the White House" (though as president Bush later revoked Clinton initiatives in such areas as stem-cell research and climate). In 2008, Obama criticized the outgoing Bush's direction more directly, particularly on national security, but still primarily looked forward.
In its early laps, the 2016 race is unfolding very differently. The Obama immigration decision provoked an eruption from the leading potential Republican presidential candidates, including those, like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and that state's former Gov. Jeb Bush, who have previously supported a legislated pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Whatever else they say about immigration, those reactions suggest it is likely that every major 2016 Republican presidential candidate will pledge to repeal Obama's sweeping executive action.

             I mean it's like being the coach of the NFL's best secondary and the team your playing this Sunday is the Jets with Geno Smith at Quarterback-I want that matchup.

            I wonder if the GOP leadership really wants it. To just be explicit about this: We're the party of deportation, the party that would rather see the sky fall than have Latinos in this country. 

            He also argues that the GOP will run against Obama in 2016 as well on ACA-that's a certainty-and climate change as well as foreign policy. Everything Obama has done, the 2016 GOP candidates will be against. I think this is a very good matchup for the Dems-especially on immigration but I don't think running against ACA is such a winner either. What the GOP narrative that 2014 was about Obamacare never explains is how Obama one in 2012 then as his defeat would have set the GOP to overturn it. 

           But fighting against immigration reform is a real albatross. I said back in 2012 that the GOP wouldn't learn: learning at the time being defined as nothing more than passing immigration. Now they've not just failed to pass it but are going to run against it. From a Democratic standpoint this is perfect. 

            This is why the leadership is so upset and why McConnell was giving those overwrought warnings about waving 'red in front of a bull'-he didn't really mean this would be a big problem for Obama but his own party. I believe Obama's policy was the correct one on principle-it makes great sense economically, it's just the humane thing to do-but politically as well, it's just pure gold. 

             Realistically now, if you as a Latino or an immigration advocate or anyone who supports it-like myself, while I'm not Latino I see it's just the right thing to do-want something done on immigration you need Democrats elected. Not just President either, so maybe motivation for off year elections might finally improve among many Democratic demographics, particularly Latinos-who it has been admitted have been poor voters till now. 


            Hopefully now it's clear to them that they will get the immigration policies they want if they get out and vote Democratic every 2 years. 

            More generally, the way to get liberal or progressive policies done is vote for Democrats which I know Jane Hamsher and friends can never face. They want some grand socialist revolution, apparently. If you don't know what I mean read their comments section some time. 



Monday, November 24, 2014

What the Groundswell for Elizabeth Warren for President Means

     In a previous post I suggested rather wistfully a Clinton-Warren ticket in 2016. On Twitter I see that a number of my friends and fellow libs want Warren to run by herself. Of course-they have it in for Hillary. That's my whole complaint.

      They want to throw Hillary under the bus. I just feel she's earned it by now. Maybe on this matter we should be more like the Republicans used to be where to be President you have to wait in line. Not all the time necessarily but in this election.

       In any case, according to one tweet I got, Warren has said she won't run anyway-she wants to be a thorn in the side for whatever Administration that is in the White House-including any Democratic President.

      I see the desire for her for President-that she evidently doesn't share-as something that those who want to move the party further Left want. They want the most liberal President-I prefer the most liberal President that actually wins.

      This piece by Robert Kuttner I take some issue with.

       "In the past few weeks, Obama has demonstrated that he can challenge powerful interests when a little courage seems politically opportune. He has embraced net neutrality, over the opposition of the most powerful companies in the telecom and cable industries and that of his own Federal Commission Chairman, Tom Wheeler."

        "He had also issued used his executive powers to spare four to five million undocumented U.S. residents from deportation, a move that enraged Republicans, heartened Hispanics, and enabled the president to sound almost like the Obama of 2007 and 2008 who raised such hopes among progressives."
         "On these issues, you could say that Obama is looking to the next generation of voters, or looking to his legacy; or that these two moves were astute politics. Younger Americans overwhelmingly favor net neutrality, and his executive moves to suspend deportation handily split the Republicans."
         "However, when it comes to coddling Wall Street, President Obama manages to clumsily out-flank Republicans -- to the right. As Warren reminds us, for Obama this is business as usual (or if you like, it's business -- as usual.)"
         "One top Treasury and financial official after another comes from Wall Street -- a record that would make even a Republican blush. As Warren wrote:
Starting with former Citigroup CEO Robert Rubin, three of the last four Treasury secretaries under Democratic presidents held high-paying jobs at Citigroup either before or after serving at Treasury -- and the fourth was offered, but declined, Citigroup's CEO position. Directors of the National Economic Council and Office of Management and Budget, the current Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve and the U.S. trade representative, also pulled in millions from Citigroup.
         "Scores of lesser officials, from heads of regulatory officials to sub-cabinet officers at cabinet agencies, came from other top Wall Street banks and investment banks."
         "In contrast to its occasional populist moves like those on net neutrality and deportations, when it comes to letting Wall Street have its way with the rest of us the administration is basically on auto-pilot. The bankers rule. The idea of naming Weiss just bubbled up from the usual suspects, and there was no real counterweight inside the Obama White House."
         "If the last election teaches anything, it shows that Democrats need to demonstrate that they are on the side of regular working Americans. When Democrats are the party of Wall Street, it allows the Tea Parties to tap the resentment against Washington and Wall Street that ordinary working Americans rightly feel."
          "Imagine the confirmation hearing. On one side, the Finance Committee's progressive Democrats will be challenging Weiss and embarrassing Obama. On the other side, Republicans will have a rare chance to identify against Wall Street."
       If that's true then Obama should have lost in 2012. This is one thing firebaggers can never explain-if Obama being Right wing is the problem why didn't he get taken out in 2012-notice Teabaggers on the Right can't explain Obama's win either as they claim he's such an unpopular President. 
       Why does it matter so much whether a Treasury Secretary worked at Citi or not-I really don't see why this is so important? By the way, I don't know that immigration is 'populist' as Wall Street, including the Chamber of Commerce supports it. 
        I don't really see why everything should be described as either populist or Wall Street friendly. No, I'm not a Blue Dog-perish the thought. I welcome them leaving the party. If anything, the one silver lining in the next Democratic Congress that will be in decided minority is that it will be more disciplined without the BDs. I welcome a more liberal Democratic Congress in both Houses. 
        Still, I don't like purists. Some of the leftists on sites like Firedoglake and to a lesser extent Daily KOS or the ones in the comments section of Huffington Post seem to want Karl Marx to urn for President. 
         I don't know that I consider myself a 'populist' which is driven mostly by anger at people with money. I do think we have a real problem with stagnant middle class wages and support some economic redistribution. 
        I don't foam at the mouth like Pavlov's Dog at the sound of the words 'Wall Street banks.' I'd call myself a liberal rather than a populist. 
        Kuttna seems to see the Tea Party as populists as well which hardly makes me think I want to be a populist. Actually it's populism that is behind the government's inability to function in the last few years-the populism of the Tea Party particularly. Why? populists that are motivated by righteous anger are usually not reasonable which is what you must be if you want anything done. Populists are usually endowed with a such a strong sense that they're right morally speaking that compromise becomes unthinkable. s
       I like  Warren but I do think that some people like her for the wrong reasons. 



Sunday, November 23, 2014

How About a Hillary-Elizabeth Warren 2016 Democratic Ticket?

       Right now it seems Hillary is a shoo-in, but you know what they say: the best laid plans of mice and men. She was a shoo-in in 2008 as well, but as you might remember, a funny thing happened on the way to Inevitability Mountain.

      I make the suggestion of a Hillary-Warren ticket as a friend. I am, always have been, and always will be a Hillary man. I was disappointed when she came up short in 2008, though of course, I came to like President Obama-to say the least. To like him at least as much as Chris Matthews did back in that 2008 campaign trail.

      As this point, I want to believe that Hillary 2016 can be a reality. I mean, c'mon, the woman has just earned it by now. I mean in the 90s all the humiliation of the scandals of her husbands infidelities. Then her disappointment in 2008. She's been a good, loyal foot solider for President Obama and the Dems since.

     Don't get me wrong she needs to be as the one thing that could lead me to be disillusioned by her-and I never have been in 20 years-is if she at any point took pains to distance herself from the President at any time in the coming campaign.

      I assume she's running. The case to make for her Presidency is easy enough. Just to piss off Rush Limbaugh and friends is enough. When you recall how hard they went after the Clintons in the 90s how relentless their desire to destroy the First Family, well wouldn't it just be too much if they were subjected to another 8 years of a Clinton-after 8 years of Obama? Who knows maybe 20 years another Clinton-maybe by 2036 Chelsea is ready to run?

     There was a great late night joke about Chelsea's new daughter where the newborn Clinton immediately gave a statement to the press that she can neither confirm or deny a plan to run for the President in 2056.

     So why Warren? Well, to make sure there isn't another funny thing on the way to Inevitability Mountain it seems to me Warren is the best insurance as she is the most likely thing I can imagine to undo Hillary. I mean you see that far Lefties are already whining about Hilary she's not Left wing enough and Warren is their Great White Hope as the case may be so why not just put the two ladies together? That would forestall the worry that a Hillary White House won't be liberal enough.

    What could be a fly in the ointment? If for some reason one or both of these power chicks don't want the matchup. It's possible that Hillary might find Warren too liberal for her-let's hope not.

     Interestingly, I'm not the first to propose this, though I hadn't read this before coming up with the idea-Krugman already has proposed it. Of course, I'll take the company all day long.

     Krugman actually goes on to say the chances of this are pretty remote. For one thing, Warren will want to go where she can have largest effect and that may be the Senate for now. I just hope the won't run against each other. I say this as someone who cares first and foremost about the Democratic party. If you've seen my Twitter page you should understand why. I care about the party. This is something that too many so-called Dems don't care about. I mean they just use the party.  They just want a candidate that pushes their pet issue be it the environment, financial reform, or immigration reform but what about the party? I mean I think that all of these are important but someone has to look out for the party so that the most amount of these items can be achieved.

     For me the goal is not necessarily the most liberal candidate, though probably I would usually agree that I want the most liberal candidate that can win. I doubt she's as Right wing as she's imagined to be by the firebagger crowd. I mean she is a politician and knows how to adapt which people forget. I mean she was more conservative in the past based on the electorate she and her husband had faced in the past. As Krugman points out, she's been more liberal during the current run up to her next presumed run.

    The irony is that if all the presumption of Hillary 2016 turns out correct, it would mean that we've now gone full circle in Presidential politics where the Dems are now like the GOP is supposed to be-the Repubs are supposed to be the  ones where it's all waiting your turn, whereas with the Dems it;s always a free for all. This time could be the opposite.

    P.S. So while a Hillary-Warren ticket may be unlikely, it really would be a pretty powerful ticket I think. Both more liberal and more centrist Dems would have someone they could throw themselves behind, and we'd have the ultimate balanced ticket with not one but too females. It may not be in the cards but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be.

    P.S.S. I do think that's the problem with the Dems-too many individual Dems care nothing about the party itself seeing it as just a vehicle. Yet, it's absurd to run with a party then throw this party under the bus as all those Blue Dog Dems discovered a few weeks ago to their sorrow.


    P.S.S.S.  I remember in the early 90s with the rise of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) there was a lot of talk about how the Caucus system is detrimental to the Democrats. There's some truth in this but what needs to be understood is that the Democrats have had this kind of problem throughout their long history-they remain the world's oldest party.

   I mean, traditionally, the Dems have never actually been a party but rather two or three parties in one. Right to its first days you had the Northern Dems and the Southern Dems. The Democrats always had a liberal tendency, but the need to placate the Southern Dems was a problem from the start. Ironically, it may be now with the eclipse of the Southern Democrats-the Solid Democratic South is now the Solid Republican South-the Dems now have a better chance of finding a more unified voice and direction. There will be disparate interests, but it will be a more liberal party and that's a good thing. There is a large sense in which previous Democratic majorities in the House and Senate were misleading with all the Blue Dog Dems. With them gone the party may for now at least be smaller, but party discipline will be easier to achieve.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Why Obama's Executive Action is a Boon for Democrats in 2016

       It just brings us a lot of clarity. I mean the GOP is trying to make this a big procedural quibble. Which is understandable as most Americans actually agree with Obama and the Dems on substance. I mean even most GOP leaders agree on substance at least based on what they've said in the past. They're arguments are always about process.

       So they say Of course we want a humane and rational immigration policy but not this way. Rather than get it through executive action we'll be better of with our previous inhumane, irrational policy. Isn't this basically the GOP argument on everything?  I mean this is the argument against Obamacare. In this case, it was actually a Republican plan, it was Romneycare. It's what Nixon wanted back in the early 70s, Newt favored it in the 90s.

      The GOP is hoping all this talk about 'Emperor Obama' and a constitutional crisis will spook basically White middle of the road Independents. That's what they're aiming at. They're trying to convince these Middle of the Roaders that Obama's way of doing this is such an outrage that it doesn't matter even if you agree with his move on substance. They're hoping it will lead to a major backlash against Dems by these Middle of the Road White voters.

       In a way this is microcosm of most issues in American politics. The American people agree with the Dems but the GOP screams process and confuses and scares the heck out of a lot of rather impressionable, susceptible people. Sure you agree that people should have access to healthcare but what about Jonathan Gruber! What an elitist snob. That this works so often is why I can't resist wondering if Gruber wasn't right about the intelligence of the average voter.

       Is there danger here for the Dems? Of course there is, there's always risk. This screaming about process may work to a greater or lesser extent. The early polls before Obama's announcement seemed to show people disapproving Obama's proposed action though not by any overwhelming margin-even the WSJ showed just a 10 point deficit. At the end of the day, the beauty of this move as far as skittish Middle of the Roaders is this is fully 2 years before the Presidential election. It's doubtful that this will be the biggest thing on their minds in by then. 

        Any 'working class white votes' the Dems will 'lose' likely would not have been in play anyway. What matters much more is the growing Latino electorate for the Dems going forward. Believe it or not, many Latinos in this last election when in making no distinction at all between Obama and other Democrats who support immigration reform and GOPers who are the ones who tabled it in the House. No difference between Obama and Boehner. 

       Now there's just no way not to get it. 

       "There’s precedent for eruptions of border-hawk ire followed by energetic mobilization among Latino voters and progressive allies. Polls throughout the 2010 midterm election showed strong support for enforcement crackdowns like the one Arizona pioneered that year, with a law allowing law enforcement officers to check the citizenship status of persons they detain. It was taken by some as a warning sign for Democrats intent on pursuing comprehensive reform."

         "But two years later, public polling in swing states such as Ohio and Florida showed voters supportive of an apparently contradictory Obama decision to defer deportations for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors. That executive action was credited with helping re-energize the president’s campaign and driving a spike in Latino turnout. Nevada legislator Lucy Flores, who just lost a race for lieutenant governor, said the absence of a motivator like that — indeed, Obama’s explicit decision to postpone his executive actions — hurt Hispanic turnout this year."

         “I wish this wasn’t a partisan thing, but it is,” she said, forecasting that this week’s announcement would help reelect Harry Reid in 2016. “It’s very apparent that Democrats have been leading the way on this issue … Republicans are not doing anything.”

        Ben Monterroso, executive director of the advocacy group Mi Familia Vota, put it in starker terms than that.

         “People will see Obama did it and fear Republicans could undo it,” Monterroso said. “It will be very clear in 2016 who is with us and who is against us.”

      See that's beauty of this. The White moderates who might be scared by GOP screaming over process likely will have forgotten all this in 2 years-after all, at the end of the day it really isn't going to effect their lives at all, one way or the other. 

      However, Latinos now will have no way of not seeing who is with them and who is against them. Again, this brings us all clarity. A Democratic election in 2016-not just President but in Congress means more actions in this direction? If you're in the Latino community but you worry about those not included in last nights EO? Well then you need more Democrats elected. A Democratic President along with both Houses of Congress would get this done today. If more Republicans are elected what was done last night will be rolled back. 

      Many don't like the title of my blog but at the end of the day this is a partisan issue.  Those who are too faint of heart to get this shouldn't be in politics. More Democrats means more done about humanizing our immigration system and making it much more rational and also is a major boon to the economy-it can only increase economic growth. 

       P.S. I guess if there is anything my blog is supposed to be about, it's that there is no shame in being a partisan. There is also certainly no virtue in being 'bipartisan' if it's in the David Brooks' sense of the word where any policy is legitimate if it can be claimed to be bipartisan. If both Republicans and Democrats agree about concentration camps it's therefore a good policy. If Obama were to sign an executive order ending them, it'd be bad as it's just not the right process. 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Deconstructing GOP Outrage Over Obama's Immigration Action

      The President did what he needed to do tonight and I couldn't be happier for the country, for the millions of good decent people who just want a better life and no longer need live in fear, and more proud that Barrack Obama is our President. I know, maybe you think I gush about him too much but if there wasn't so much ugly, puerile hatred of him-on both the Left and the Right; the Teabaggers and the Firebaggers-I might not have to belabor this so much. He is a very good man and we're very luck he's our President.

      I watched his speech on MSNBC and you had Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes and others wondering what the GOP reaction would be. It seems that some at least had hoped the GOP reaction would be positive! I find such an idea laughable. I knew they'd react as themselves-just spoilt, bratty bullies who just want their own way always, all the time, without ever allowing logic to intrude in their absurd demands.

      Republican Steve Schmidt then came on the show and showed that my pessimism was utterly and completely on target. He was talking so fast and he was sweating and just making not a whit of sense. Chris Hayes pointed out that the GOP only wants to discuss process here-isn't this s clear hint they're losing on the issues? However, Schmidt would have none of it-turns out 'process is important.' He just believes that Obama did something unprecedented here, though, he didn't try to claim it was illegal-and not many Republicans are seriously trying to claim this was illegal. Because Obama did this terrible thing that is actually totally legal the GOP won't pass immigration reform that it wasn't going to pass anyway.

     This is why their threats have been so laughable-you know, doing this will be waving a red flag in front of a bull, do this and there will never be immigration reform. The reality is the GOP has no intention of doing immigration reform. Think about it. After 2012, they had decided they had to do it-the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, the RNC all understood this.

     Yet they didn't do it. A bipartisan bill passed the Senate but then Boehner just let it collect rust in the House. So after a bad loss when they had to admit something went wrong, they still didnt' do it. Why now, that they won so in Pavlovian style they are presuming they did everything right the last 2 years, would the consider doing it now? And this is what's happened. In 2012 Reince Priebus was saying the GOP had to do immigration reform. Now he's singing a different tune-because of those kids at the border this Summer, immigration is off the table.

     So when GOPers like Schmidt say that maybe the GOP would have passed immigration reform if not for Obama's diabolical but perfectly legal action, Preibus told us himself, they have no intention.

     What is really driving the GOP so batty are a few things. One is they thought Obama was going to have to eat humble pie. Yet, right from the start, at his first post-election news conference he's very happily done nothing of the sort.

    Everyone thought the President had to eat all this crow over his 'shellacking' but he refused to take the bait. Why? Maybe because the President is becoming a better economist after 6 tough years. He recognizes a free good when he sees it. Basically, the GOP and the Very Serious Press are going to hate on him no matter what he does. So why not be himself and go big? I mean that was the lesson of this 'shellacking'-repducating your own party offers you no percentage in it. Why not grow some balls?

    My guess is maybe the public will respect him more now whether they like his actions tonight or otherwise or not. Americans don't like bullies but they don't respect people who humbly submit to bullies and no one is a bigger bunch of bullies than the Republican party.

     The President should just stand up for what he believes in for the next 2 years and the Dems should not be tricked into the rationally ignorant move in the Prisoner;s Dilemma of putting him under the bus to save their own hides. After all, it doesn't work-just ask Allison Grimes.

     The GOP doesn't understand this simple economic point-if you are going to hate they guy and look to insult, slander, and destroy him, no matter what he does, then why should he ever cooperate with you?

     The GOP is so furious for a few reasons. One is what we just touched on-they thought he had to come to them and David Brooks on bended knee and he didn't do that.

     The GOP is just the ultimate party of sore winners, when they lose they learn very little, when they win the forget what little they had learned when they lost. In their mind, they now had the largest mandate in human history. Some are now claiming that they have a majority now that will last the next 100 years.

       "NRSC chief Greg Walden has announced that the GOP may have built itself “a hundred-year majority” in the House, which is in no way an insane bit of overconfidence. Steve Benen has a good recap of some of the other times Republicans have responded to victories by saying that they would never lose again."

     Yet what Obama's action does so soon after their glorious romp is show them that they are still impotent. Rush Limbaugh has been saying that this election was all about stopping Barrack Obama why else were all these GOP Senators and Congressmen elected?

     However, the GOP wasn't able to stop him tonight no matter how much they talked about government shutdowns, riders on bills, impeachment, or even arresting him.

     All this big talk about throwing a red flag in front of a bull, but this is going to happen just the same. They still can't stop Obama even now. What is enraging them in part is their own powerlessness. Basically the Party of No has abdicated it's own power by refusing to even pass any bills-I mean pass them, not just voting a party line bill in the House that will never see the light of day. So in a vacuum, the executive power is via necessity, stealing it's thunder. Ezra Klein.

    "We are operating in what amounts to a parliamentary system without majority rule, a formula for futility," wrote Ron Brownstein in 2010. Perhaps this is a way American politics becomes a little more parliamentary. Congress can, in both this case and most of the hypothetical cases, remove the president's authority to act unilaterally. But insofar as it doesn't, we're creating a system where, in many cases, the tie goes to the executive — and then the electorate can judge the executive based on his actions."

     "A related argument is that this might help break congressional gridlock. As the executive branch begins to do more, members of Congress will want to recapture their rightful role as the engine of federal action — and they will decide that compromise is less painful than irrelevance."
      I don't know that they will ever make this choice-they'd rather bite their noses off, they've shown again and again. However, whatever, they will do or more likely not do, they are irrelevant. Obama's action here brings this home to them. 
      They truly are powerless here. There really isn't too much they can do in terms of defunding either as the USCIS is self-funded.
      Finally, this is really bad politics for the GOP-and great politics for Obama. What matters in the end-whether or not the President takes a short-term hit  on this-is what this means for the Latino vote in 2016. It's pretty clear who is a friend to the Latino community and who isn't at this point. 
     This is making the GOP crazy. They know it helps the Dems and kills them. What really worries them is the crazy GOP statements coming out. 
For Republicans the roiling debate over the president’s decision is not only a fight with the White House, but a test of whether they can contain some of the unhelpful passions among their swelling majorities in both chambers. The task is keeping on-message and away from the controversial and sometimes offensive comments that have traditionally hindered attempts to bolster support for the party among Hispanics.
….it is the tone of outraged rank-and-file members that most worries GOP elders. Ahead of the 2016 presidential election, they do not want to see Republicans tagged by Democrats as hostile toward Hispanics. Even as they battle the president on legal and legislative grounds, they would like to see Republicans shore up support with immigrants and their families.

       So ultimately this outrages Republcians for three reasons. 
       1. It shows that Obama is not at all humble in the face of a humiliating loss. 

       2. It underscores their impotence even after their big wins and lopsided majorities. 

       3. It is just really going to help Obama and the Democrats a lot politically. 

       If they weren't such a nasty group you could almost feel sorry for them.  

         UPDATE: Paul Waldman looks at why the GOP is so angry as well and his list has a good deal 

      in common with mine. He too leads with number 1. Our lists are very similar.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why Jonathan Gruber May Have Been Right About American Voters After all

      The Right wing and the idiotic Centrist media are besides themselves because Gruber committed the blasphemy to suggest the average voter is stupid. Well if he's so wrong then how do you explain this?

        "Conventional wisdom is malleable, and it appears that conventional wisdom on the wisdom of shutting down the government is shifting, at least within the Republican party. While the old CW was that it was a terrible idea that Republicans suffered for, and it would be foolish to do it again, the new CW seems to be, "Hey, didn't we shut down the government and win the next election?"

        "The other day, influential conservative journalist Byron York beganpushing this line, writing that the 2013 shutdown "so deeply damaged GOP prospects that Republicans exceeded expectations in 2014, winning control of the Senate in spectacular fashion and making unexpected gains in the House." And now, as Dave Weigel reports, Republicans are taking it up:
In [conservative] circles, it's clear that the president can be stared down on immigration. And it's clear that a fight, even if it led to shutdown, would be either rewarded or forgotten by voters when they returned to the polling booths in November 2016. The reality of the Affordable Care Act had, after all, ended up winning elections for them in 2014. Why wouldn't the reality of Obama's new blunders elect the Republicans of 2016?
It's all deeply frustrating to Democrats. Virginia Representative Gerry Connolly, whose district's contractors and federal employees recoiled at the shutdown, had subsequently watched his state reelect its Republican congressmen and nearly knock off its popular Democratic senator. There clearly was no shutdown hangover for Republicans.
"From their point of view, frankly, while it had a temporary impact on their polling numbers, they fully recovered from that and paid no price at all on Nov. 4," said Connolly as he headed into a vote. "Politicians are all Pavlovian at a very elemental level. What's rewarded, what's punished. They look at that, and they think it seems to have been rewarded. It certainly wasn't punished."
     "This is entirely true. Approval of the Republican party took a nose dive in the wake of the shutdown, and though it is still viewed negatively by most Americans, that didn't stop Republicans from having a great election day. Because as at least some within the GOP understand, you can create chaos and crisis, and large numbers of voters will conclude not that Republicans are bent on creating chaos and crisis but that "Washington" is broken, and the way to fix it is to elect the people who aren't in the president's party. That in this case that happened to be precisely the people who broke it escaped many voters. The fact that the electorate skewed so heavily Republican in an election with the lowest turnout since 1942 also helped them escape the consequences of their behavior."
      As Michael Kinsley once noted, democracy can goof. Why is it that you can criticize the politicains, Wall Street, the media, the legal establishment, but not the 'sainted' people who fall for such puerile tricks again and again? I don't have a good answer.
      Why do they always have to be let off the hook-it's not their fault, their overworked, they have no time to figure out what's going on, they are lied, to and tricked, they would vote for a 'true progressive' if they were running-it's all or nothing with them. They're bad at math and hate to read and cynical economists and journalists lie to them. Like Kinsley said, while the politicians, the media, and Wall Street are no prize, the people don't escape responsibility either.  
       I couldn't be happier about Obama's planned executive action on immigration tomorrow.
        There is political risk here that many people will buy into the GOP line that there's something diabolical about Obama taking perfectly legitimate, legal executive action here.. While most people actually favor the kind of immigration reform the President wants-and the Senate Dems along with a decent number of Senate Republicans voted for, they also seem to think there's something wrong with taking executive action to do this thing they claim to want.
      Whatever. I see this as what the economists call a free good-the GOP won't pass immigration whether Obama does this or not and they'll try to blame him whether he does it or not and it may well work and convince all these stupid people out there whether he does it or not so you might as well just do it. When people are going to knock you no matter what you do you might as well do what you want to do anyway. 
       The Dems need to stand with their President here. Harry Reid gets this.
        I hope most Dems do. We see where throwing your own President under the bus got you. If they're going to knock you anyway, why not show some balls?
        Maybe Americans will respect that-they surely didn't respect the Allison Grimes gambit-Barrack Obama?! Yuck, he's got cooties!