Friday, April 24, 2015

GOTCHA, HILLARY! (NO, NOT REALLY.)

At the Daily Caller, Kerry Picket has what seems to be a Hillary Clinton gotcha:
Hillary On Abortion: ‘Deep-Seated Cultural Codes, Religious Beliefs And Structural Biases Have To Be Changed’

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took a feminist tone on Thursday. She told attendees at the sixth annual Women in The World Summit that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” for the sake of giving women access to “reproductive health care and safe childbirth.”

“Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth, and laws don’t count for much if they’re not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice -- not just on paper,” Clinton said.
Hot Air's Ed Morrissey, citing a tweet from a Religion News Service reporter, writes:
David Gibson suggested this might be Hillary Clinton’s “clinging to guns and religion” moment, and he may be right....

In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is. As Hillary admits here -- albeit unwittingly -- the at-will destruction of the unborn goes against religious beliefs, long-held cultural values, and the structural “biases” that exist to recognize the value of human life. That’s what the “clump of cells” fallacy has to overcome, and as Hillary and the Left have discovered, it’s a tall order. And it’s not just abortion, but also same-sex marriage and forced participation in it, euthanasia dressed up as “right to die” movements, and the rest.
Is this an accurate reflection of what she really said?

Well, you might think so if you've only read the quote as excerpted by the Caller, or if you took the Caller's advice and watched the speech clip starting at 8:26:



But try watching it from 6:31. Here's what Clinton says, in context:
All the evidence tells us that despite the enormous obstacles that remain, there has never been a better time in history to be born female. Think about that. A girl born twenty years ago in Tanzania could not hope to one day own or inherit property. Today she can. If she were born in Nepal, there was a tragically high chance that her mother and even she would die in childbirth. Today, thankfully, that is far less likely. A girl born twenty years ago in Rwanda grew up in the shadow of genocide and rape. Today she can be proud that women have led the way out of that dark time, and now there are more women serving in her country's parliament than anywhere else in the world.

But the data leads to a second conclusion: that despite all this progress, we're just not there yet. Yes, we've nearly closed the global gender gap in primary school. But secondary school remains out of reach for so many girls around the world. Yes, we've increased the number of countries prohibiting domestic violence. But still, more than half the nations in the world have no such laws on the books, and an estimated one in three women still experience violence. Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half. But far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth.

All the laws we've passed don't count for much if they're not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will, and deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.
She's talking about women being able to go to school and own property and live in societies where rape and beatings aren't shrugged off. She's talking about women being able to survive carrying a child to term. Undoubtedly she would include access to abortion under the heading of reproductive health care, but she explicitly includes prenatal care.

She's not saying what these people claim she's saying.

But that's how the right does it. If this gets picked up by Fox or Drudge (or both), every conservative will be certain forever that Hillary made a big speech in 2015 focusing on abortion (or maybe abortion plus euthanasia and gay marriage) and demanded that all cultures be forced to yield to them, and to hell with their cultural values.

It's a huge distortion of the truth. But distorting the truth is what the right-wing media does best.

C'MON, CONSERVATIVES. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO.

Uh-oh -- Mediaite says that the liberal fascists are being fascistic again:
The gay New York City hoteliers who recently played host to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have their own controversy to deal with: Activists are calling for the boycott of their properties, including a gay hotel and establishments on Fire Island.

Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass ..., two gay real estate moguls who run numerous vacation properties marketed towards the LGBT community, spoke with The New York Times yesterday about the reception they held for the presidential candidate....

Within hours, a Facebook page calling for the boycott of the Fire Island Pines Establishments and the Out NYC Hotel, all owned by Reisner and Weiderpass, gained more than 2,500 followers, its wall filled with angry messages blasting the two for selling out their ideals.

“Weiderpass, an out gay man, held a ‘reception’ this past weekend for Senator Cruz,” said the first post on the page. “The question, among so many others, is, WHY???!!!”
Why so cranky? Just because of stuff like this?
Days before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on same-sex marriage, Senator Ted Cruz has filed two bills to protect states that bar gay couples from marrying.

Cruz's legislation would establish a constitutional amendment shielding states that define marriage as between one woman and one man from legal action, according to bill language obtained by Bloomberg News.

A second bill would bar federal courts from further weighing in on the marriage issue until such an amendment is adopted.
Gosh, I can't understand why little things like that get people so upset.

Obviously, what's being done to these poor, suffering hoteliers is just as bad as what intolerant lefties tried to do to upstanding businesses like Chick-fil-A. So the right-wing response should be obvious: True Patriots need to patronize the hotels these men run!

But ... um ... they're gay hotels, aren't they? And you can't really be gay if you're a True Patriot. What to do?

Well, the Out isn't a completely gay hotel, as Ian Reisner explained in this interview:
The OUT NYC is New York’s first straight-friendly urban resort. How have you enhanced the hotel experience for your customers?
My vision was not to open a gay ghetto.... We are truly the first gay-owned, gay-operated, gay-programmed, straight-friendly facility. One-third of my 20,000 sleeping customers who have come through the doors since we opened have been straight. Their way of thinking is that staying at a gay-owned and operated facility will definitely be more chic and definitely more fun, and they’re right!
It's "straight-friendly," righties! So you have to show support! For the Cause of True Conservatism!

So book a room! C'mon, aren't you ... curious?

IF YOU'RE NOT STRAIGHT, WHITE, AND MALE, THAT'S HOW REPUBLICANS EXPECT YOU TO ACT

This New York Times story about Ted Cruz sure seems like a gotcha:
Senator Ted Cruz has positioned himself as a strong opponent of same-sex marriage, urging pastors nationwide to preach in support of marriage as an institution between a man and a woman, which he said was “ordained by God.”

But on Monday night, at a reception for him at the Manhattan apartment of two prominent gay hoteliers, the Texas senator and Republican presidential hopeful struck quite a different tone.

During the gathering, according to two people present, Mr. Cruz said he would not love his daughters any differently if one of them was gay. He did not mention his opposition to same-sex marriage, saying only that marriage is an issue that should be left to the states.

The dinner and “fireside chat” for about a dozen people with Mr. Cruz and his wife, Heidi, was at the Central Park South penthouse of Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner, longtime business partners who were once a couple and who have been pioneers in the gay hospitality industry....
But on the right, this isn't considered a gotcha at all. Here's Paula Bolyard at PJ Media:
If you’re a left-leaning reporter who believes that the only reason half of Americans oppose same sex marriage is because they’re hateful bigots who are acting out of raw animus, events and statements like this cause you all kinds of cognitive dissonance and consternation. All good leftist reporters believe in the deepest recesses of their hearts that mean-spirited Republicans who disagree with the push for same sex marriage never, ever associate with gay people -- unless they’re snooping around in their bedrooms....

This may come as a surprise to reporters at the Times, but Senator Cruz -- like most Republicans -- has gay friends (and supporters) and he’s willing to engaging in dialogue with people with whom he disagrees. And guess what? This is not newsworthy.
When thinking about people outside the party's core demographic (straight white men and their wives who are either Christians or right-wing Jews), Republicans don't seem to have animus or hate, necessarily -- they just want members of these outside groups to quietly accept the back of the government's hand. They think that's perfectly reasonable -- they believe gays and blacks and Hispanics and other non-favored groups should want to be Republicans even though Republicans want to deny them rights. A backlash against gay marriage? Extra hurdles in the pursuit of voting rights? A hard line on immigration? Republicans think minority groups should masochistically embrace these policies.

The odd thing is that some minority-group members do. Republicans, for instance, expect all black people to be like Clarence Thomas and Allen West and Mia Love (those who haven't seen the light are said to be on "the Democrat plantation"). In the case of gay people, Republicans expect a reaction like the Facebook message posted yesterday by one of Cruz's hotelier friends:
The fact that Senator Cruz accepted the invitation to my home was a step in the right direction towards him having a better understanding of who I am and what I believe in. We spent most of the time talking about national security issues and in particular the challenges from ISIS, Iran, and defense of Israel -- these are issues for which we did find common ground. However, i did not shy away from the opportunity to ask the Senator about social issues, in particular marriage equality, and made it clear that I completely disagree with him on that issue.
In other words: I'm just so thrilled to have talked to him about his belief that I'm a second-class citizen.

Republicans don't really hate you if you're not a straight white Christian. They like you -- as long as you know your place.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

THE TIMES USED SCHWEIZER'S RESEARCH ON HILLARY. THINK FOX WILL USE HIS RESEARCH ON JEB?

Bloomberg Politics says that Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, is targeting Jeb Bush next. I'm not sure I believe it, but here's the story:
Schweizer is working on a similar investigation of Jeb Bush’s finances that he expects to publish this summer.

“What we’re doing is a drill-down investigation of Jeb’s finances similar to what we did with the Clintons in terms of looking at financial dealings, cronyism, who he’s been involved with,” Schweizer told me on Wednesday. “We’ve found some interesting things.”

Schweizer says he and a team of researchers have been poring over Bush’s financial life for about four months. Among other things, they’re scrutinizing various Florida land deals, an airport deal while Bush was governor that involved state funds, and Chinese investors in Bush’s private equity funds....

As he did with the Clinton book, Schweizer is hoping to partner with media organizations interested in reporting on and advancing his examination of Bush’s finances....
Assuming he's telling the truth about this, rather than merely claiming to have an anti-Bush project in the works in order to maintain a posture of objectivity -- which media organizations do you think will partner with him?

Do you think one of them will be Fox?

Here's the way the so-called liberal media works: You dig up anti-Clinton dirt of this kind and The New York Times is as eager to run it as Fox is. But the conservative media has never worked that way, at least not in my experience. Sure, during the primary season a not-excessively-wingnutty Republican might get less-than-worshipful coverage on Fox -- Mitt Romney certainly did in late 2011 and early 2012 -- but Fox knows that the wagons must eventually be circled.

Even if no one at Fox is thrilled at the prospect of a Jeb candidacy, he could very well be the right's guy in 2016. So I think there's no way in hell Fox will work with Schweizer on this. And if it there really is Jeb dirt and Fox gives it a miss, that tells you all you need to know about the difference between the conservative media and the non-conservative media.

TIMES CLINTON NARRATIVE DESCRIBES A SYSTEM WORKING THE WAY ELITES THINK IT SHOULD

Did Hillary Clinton personally pave the way for Vladimir Putin and his cronies to increase their control over the international market for uranium, all in return for dirty money shelled out to the Clintons and their foundation? That's certainly what a New York Times story you probably read (or decided was too long to bother with) would like you to believe.

Do I think people involved in the deal got too cozy with Bill and Hillary? Yes. Do I think this sort of thing goes on all the time? Again, yes.

This is now, according to the Times:
And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.
This was a quarter-century ago, less than a year after Ronald Reagan left the White House:
The Reagans are being paid roughly $2 million to tour the Japan of Nobutaka Shikanai, the right-leaning founder of the Fujisankei Communications Group and one of Japan's most successful and most controversial entrepreneurs. Even though there is a growing practice in Japan of hiring big-name American power brokers, the company has been stung by criticism that it is taking this idea to an extreme. Still, it is hardly passing up the chance to let Mr. Reagan help showcase the $5 billion-a-year conglomerate.

... the younger Mr. Shikanai, who is joint chairman and chief executive of Fujisankei, has quickly set the company's sights abroad for the first time. A month ago Fujisankei purchased 25 percent of Britain's Virgin Music Group for $150 million, giving Fujisankei access to some of Virgin's biggest hits and an overseas outlet for its Japanese recording artists.

The company has invested an additional $10 million in the film maker David Puttnam, a former president of Columbia Pictures, and Hiroaki Shikanai says he might be interested in a movie studio someday, following in the steps of Sony, which recently bought Columbia.
Reagan was criticized for that -- but conservatives would still sing hosannas if he became the fifth face on Mount Rushmore.

And were the insider connections to the Clintons decisive? The Times would suggest they were, but Susie Madrak is right to note the way the Times story downplays the exact decision-making process. From the Times:
Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Madrak writes:
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (this one) is a multi-agency committee chaired by the US Treasury, not the State Department....
It consists of the heads of the Treasury, Justice, Homeland Security, Commerce, Defense, State, and Energy Departments, plus the U.S. Trade Representative and the head of the Office of Science & Technology Policy. Madrak writes, regarding Hillary:
She used her magical powers to force every single one of these agencies to do her nefarious bidding -- and override the security interests of the United States to allow these evil Rooskies to have access to uranium?

... And not one of those people ever made a peep. It's a conspiracy! Because Clinton!
I'd add one more person: the president. He believed, rightly or wrongly, that the Russians could be dealt with as reasonable people. Approving this deal was in sync with that idea, not in contradiction. How does it represent the Evil Clintons gone rogue?

****

I also want to talk about Frank Giustra, the Canadian mining magnate whose business machinations ultimately led to the deal that's the subject of the article. Giustra is a friend of Bill Clinton and a donor to Clinton's causes.

But, see, as a society we like guys such as Giustra. Conservatives have their Giustras and liberals have theirs -- fat cats who give generously to admirable causes and who, not incidentally, hobnob with high government officials.

Giusta got a philanthropic award last year from the Dalai Lama. He does good deeds:
Mr. Giustra donates to a broad-range of charities locally and internationally. Ranging from local charities including The Boys Club Network, StreettoHome and internationally like the Elton John Aids Foundation and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (yes, he has President Bill Clinton on speed dial). He established The Radcliffe Foundation in 1997 which supports a wide variety of international and local charities. Focusing on issues ranging from disaster relief, economic development and homelessness to offering children around the world hope for a better future.
And he does this in conjunction with Clinton and other swells:
[There are] charity events with U2 front man Bono, fundraisers co-hosted with jazz diva Diana Krall, face time with supermodel Petra Nemcova in the name of tsunami relief. And, of course, he has been welcomed into Clinton's inner circle as a bona fide Friend of Bill, or FOB.
This is how we think social problems need to be solved, because both liberal and conservative elite politicians, in the post-Reagan new Gilded Age, agree that business leaders are a huge force for good in the world. Yes, there are politicians who don't feel this way, but they scrounge for pennies while the politicians favored by swells run (or ostensibly run) the country.

That's how system works, folks. It will take a hell of a lot more than just examining the habits of the Clintons to change that fact.

GEORGE PACKER WHINES NOSTALGICALLY ABOUT A NONEXISTENT LOST EDEN

I understand why George Packer, writing for The New Yorker, is saying he's tired of politics -- other longtime political observers (Jon Stewart, Andrew Sullivan) are also throwing in the towel. (Politics is making me weary these days, too.)

But Packer says what's been lost for him is the "fun."
It might not be wise for a sometime political journalist to admit this, but the 2016 campaign doesn’t seem like fun to me....

American politics in general doesn’t seem like fun these days. There’s nothing very entertaining about super PACs, or Mike Huckabee’s national announcement of an imminent national announcement of whether he will run for President again....
Packer goes on and on about what he's anticipating in the upcoming campaign that, in his view, won't be "fun" -- but when he gets to a list of proposals that he says "would make American politics more relevant, more interesting -- maybe even more fun," the list doesn't sound like fun, but rather like eat-your-vegetables earnestness. A couple of examples:
2. A Republican should run against the Republican Congress. Its negativism has become a disgrace to the party and the country....
Oh, please. Republicans run against the Republican Congress all the timer -- they just do it by saying that Congress isn't radically right-wing enough. And negativism? Packer thinks that's what's really awful about congressional Republicans? What, they're too grumpy? Replace "negativism" with "nihilism" and you're a lot closer to the truth.
6. A Republican and a Democrat with national reputations should hold hands and break the partisan rules. They should announce early on the intention of making the other his or her running mate in the event of winning the nomination -- if only to test whether the political center is really as dead as it seems.
Oh, good Lord. David Broder lives!

Seriously, George, have you looked at Congress? Or the states? We're electing ideologues -- the ideologues your magic Third Way dream team would have to work with if they somehow came to power. Also: This, to you, would be fun? Here, check out this recent column by Jon Huntsman and Joe Lieberman, co-chairs of the centrist group No Labels (which, yes, still exists):
Our movement, No Labels, identified ... goals by asking the American people what national problems they most wanted their representatives in Washington to solve. The resolution will establish a framework for a National Strategic Agenda that can appeal to citizens and leaders of all political stripes:

• Create 25 million jobs over the next 10 years;
• Secure Social Security and Medicare for another 75 years;
• Balance the federal budget by 2030; and
• Make America energy secure by 2024.

... For our government to change course, goals must first be agreed to and set, then substantive policy negotiations can be held. That’s what a National Strategic Agenda is all about -- think of it as setting a destination in your GPS or favorite navigation application on your phone. The GPS or app may give you multiple options to reach the destination (goal), and there may be alternatives suggested along your way, but you know where the journey will end. You know you will accomplish the goal of arriving at your destination.
Hey! Hey! WAKE UP!

Packer rails against the sclerotic nature of our politics -- a would-be presidential candidate makes a "national announcement of an imminent national announcement" and so on. But what's more sclerotic than this No Labels proposal? A national survey that leads to a resolution that leads to a framework that leads to an agenda (or an Agenda) that leads to ... um, "substantive policy negotiations"? Which simply have to bear fruit, because Huntsman and Lieberman say so? Because everything in Washington ultimately always gets resolved once there's a framework for an agenda for a negotiation?

****

What's odd about Packer's essay is that there's a lost Eden for which he's nostalgic, and it doesn't seem like the Third Way, good-government, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington era he appears to crave now:
Since I was eight years old, and the Republican candidates were named Nixon, Rockefeller, and Reagan, and the Democrats were Humphrey, Kennedy, and McCarthy, I’ve been passionate about American politics, as a student, a witness, and a partisan. Politics was in my blood, at the family dinner table, in my work and my free time. But at some point in the past few years it went dead for me, or I for it....
So Packer is nostalgic for the period of our politics that started in 1968? The year we made Richard Nixon president? Packer wants earnest statesmanship, but he longs for forty or so years of dirty tricks, secret slush funds, candidate demonizations, foreign policy failings, ideological warfare, sexual embarrassments, and financiers given leeway to destroy the economy repeatedly? That was, I suppose, a grim sort of fun, but it wasn't good government.

We're just getting the first New York Times story built on Peter Schweizer's book about Bill and Hillary Clinton's ongoing search for cash, and, well, it's a bit sleazy. But Schweizer also swears he's going to go into Jeb Bush's secret deals. And Scott Walker and Chris Christie and Marco Rubio, to name three, have plenty of sleaze in their past.

So this campaign might be a hell of a lot more like what Packer actually lived through starting in '68 than he imagines. But much of what he lived through was bad for the country, and for most of its citizens, just the way the future he dreads will probably be.

So enjoy the ride, George. You've been on it before.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

THE CULT THAT VOTES

The good news in this report from Gallup is that, for all the right's propaganda efforts, only conservatives seem to believe climate-change nonsense:
Conservative Republicans Alone on Global Warming's Timing

While notable majorities of all other political party/ideology groups say the effects of global warming will happen within their lifetime, fewer than four in 10 conservative Republicans (37%) agree, a sign of that political identity's strident skepticism on this issue.

Conservative Republicans not only decisively reject the notion that the effects of global warming will happen in this lifetime -- a position in sharp contrast to all other political identities -- but another 40% say global warming will never happen. This is significantly higher than the percentages of moderate/liberal Republicans (16%), non-leaning independents (14%), conservative/moderate Democrats (5%) and liberal Democrats (3%) who say the same.
But you know the bad news: Congress and most of our state governments are controlled by the party in which climate-change denialism is rampant, and in which it's the position candidates are required to hold in order to obtain large amounts of campaign cash. And we're one presidential election away from possible total control of the federal government by the denialist party, despite the limited appeal of the denialist message, as seen in the poll results above.

But that's the nature of our politics.

Conservative Republicanism is a cult. Its adherents, like the adherents of all cults, have a belief system that's full of delusions. On the subject of global warming, this is obvious: Go to any right-wing media outlet and you'll be told that climate change is a massive hoax perpetrated for monetary profit (or in the pursuit of totalitarian control) by a sinister cabal of liberals and left-leaning scientists. On the right, this belief isn't even up for debate -- it's settled fact. As I said: the group delusion of a cult.

But the cult votes. The cultists are so fervent in this and other delusional beliefs that they turn out in elections when the rest of us don't. They have a mortal lock on many states and they seize control in contested states when we let our guard down, as they've done, for instance, in Wisconsin.

Will they vote in November 2016? Oh, hell yes. Will the rest of us? That's not clear. We may decide there's no difference between the cult's candidate and the major-party opposition, just as we did in 2000.

If that happens, the cult wins.

MAYBE GREG ABBOTT SHOWED SCOTT WALKER HIS FRAMED COLLECTION OF KOCH CHECKS

We were just hearing that the Koch brothers prefer Scott Walker in the 2016 presidential election -- though now it's reported that the Kochs are also looking at Bush, Rubio, Paul, and Cruz. Still, Walker seems to have the inside track. So what's this Walker move all about?
Republicans often rail about undocumented immigrants. But Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, an expected GOP presidential candidate, took it a step further Monday by sounding some critical notes about the number of those who immigrate to the U.S. legally.

"In terms of legal immigration, how we need to approach that going forward is saying -- the next president and the next Congress need to make decisions about a legal immigration system that’s based on, first and foremost, on protecting American workers and American wages. Because the more I’ve talked to folks, I’ve talked to [Alabama Sen. Jeff] Sessions and others out there -- but it is a fundamentally lost issue by many in elected positions today -- is what is this doing for American workers looking for jobs, what is this doing to wages. And we need to have that be at the forefront of our discussion going forward," Walker said in an interview with Glenn Beck, according to Breitbart News.
Walker's now talking about limiting legal immigration? Never mind how far to the right that is. Never mind how off-putting it would be in a general election campaign in a multi-ethnic America. Let's be cynical: Why is Scott Walker putting Koch support at risk?

The Wall Street Journal suggests that the Kochs find this sort of thing appalling:
Scott Walker won plaudits from David Koch at a New York fundraiser this week, but the Wisconsin governor now finds himself at odds with the leader of Mr. Koch’s Hispanic outreach organization....

[Walker's immigration] comments drew scorn from Daniel Garza, the executive director of the Libre Initiative, the Koch-backed organization that promotes free-market principles to Hispanic audiences.

“Any call, by anyone, to further restrict legal immigration is not a viable, nor an acceptable policy remedy,” Mr. Garza said Tuesday.

... Mr. Garza ... said Tuesday he is disappointed with Mr. Walker’s latest turn. Mr. Garza said Mr. Walker is in danger of marginalizing himself should he becoming the GOP’s presidential nominee....

“I don’t think that any candidate should really speak on the issue in a way that satisfies only one dimension of the American electorate,” Mr. Garza said. “You can’t just have a narrow slice of Americans and cater to a very narrow slice. We’ll continue to coordinate activities with folks who want to align with us on these kinds of remedies.”
So Walker just blew off the Kochs?

Well, maybe he doesn't believe that's the case. Here's something Walker told Fox's Megyn Kelly about how his immigration position evolved:
“... having talked to border state governors and having talked to other people, seeing how screwed up immigration has become under this president, it was clear to me talking to them and listening on this issue, traveling to the border actually going there with the governor of Texas Gov. Abbott, seeing the problems there, yeah from my standpoint going forward we need to secure the border, we need to enforce the laws that we currently have with an e-verify system,” Walker said.
(Emphasis added.)

Abbott is an immigration hard-liner. So, um, that must mean that Abbott never got a dime from the Kochs as he rose through the ranks in Texas politics -- right?

Wrong. This is from 2013, when Abbott was Texas's attorney general:
When Greg Abbott needed a little help flying around as his campaign for Texas governor gets underway, who did he call? The Koch brothers. Abbott’s latest campaign report shows that Koch Industries in Washington provided Abbott with the use of an airplane for $7,500 worth of travel. The report doesn’t offer details. And Abbott’s campaign did not return a call seeking clarification. But one thing’s clear: the Texas Republican attorney general is a favorite of the billionaire Koch brothers, who are big opponents of Obamacare and efforts to curb air and water pollution.
And, a year later, when Abbott was running for governor:
Money from Koch interests flows to governor candidate Greg Abbott

Five months after an ammonium nitrate explosion that killed 15 people in West, Attorney General Greg Abbott received a $25,000 contribution from a first-time donor to his political campaigns -- the head of Koch Industries’ fertilizer division.

The donor, Chase Koch, is the son of one of the billionaire brothers atop Koch Industries’ politically influential business empire.

Abbott, who has since been criticized for allowing Texas chemical facilities to keep secret the contents of their plants, received more than $75,000 from Koch interests after the April 2013 explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. storage and distribution facility, campaign finance records filed with the state showed....
Ahhh, I see. Parts of the Koch network express support for immigration -- but the Kochs have no problem whatsoever backing a hardcore immigration opponent if he does other things the brothers like.

So maybe Scott Walker assumes his extreme position on immigration will win him lots of primary votes (he's probably right) while not really alienating the apparent immigration moderates in the Koch family if he serves their interests in other, more bottom-line-oriented ways. We'll see if he's right.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

AS IF 1993 NEVER HAPPENED

The headline of this New York Times story by Amy Chozick is "A Newcomer to Populism? Hillary Clinton Campaign Begs to Differ." The Clinton campaign made material available to Chozick that makes the case for Hillary as a longtime populist: Chozick offers the other side of the argument as well. It's a reasonably balanced story -- but how on earth did a sentence like the following make its way past Chozick's editors? Emphasis added:
In the years Mrs. Clinton served as secretary of state and since she left the State Department in early 2013, she has become more associated with the centrist policies of the Bill Clinton years than with policies of raising taxes on the wealthy and increasing government services that have become widely adopted on the left.
Really? Has Chozick forgotten that, before NAFTA and so-called welfare reform and Wall Street deregulation (and, also, an economy recovery more broad-based than any since), there was this?
The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 ... was a federal law that was enacted by the 103rd United States Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton....

* Previously the top individual tax rate of 31% applied to all income over $51,900. The Act created a new bracket of 36% for income above $115,000, and 39.6% for income above $250,000....

* Previously, corporate income above $335,000 was taxed at 34%. The Act created new brackets of 35% for income from $10 million to $15 million, 38% for income from $15 million to $18.33 million, and 35% for income above $18.33 million....

* The 2.9% Medicare tax previously was capped to only apply to the first $135,000 of income. This cap was removed....
Right-wingers still whine about that tax increase. But to Chozick, I guess, it never happened.

JOURNALISM! THE HILL REPORTS CRAZY CONSPIRACY THEORIST'S CLINTON ATTACK, IGNORES CRAZY CONSPIRACY THEORIES

I don't have a problem with the Daily Beast doing a feature story on Roseanne Barr -- after all, the Beast is a general-interest site, and Barr is the subject of a new documentary focusing on her attempt to win the 2012 Green Party presidential nomination, as well as her subsequent campaign as the head of the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. The documentary could be fascinating. There's no doubt that Barr is an interesting subject.

However, she's totally nuts.

Here's a 2010 post from her blog:
PEOPLE ARE SAYING THAT 9-11 WAS AN INSIDE BUSH JOB

that was done to destroy the enron and anderson books/records(bush’s friends) that were kept inside the buildings. Right after that our economy was gutted.
Two days after posting that, she put up a link to a lengthy 9/11 truther essay, which she called a "brilliant analysis."

She also believes that the Boston Marathon bombing was a "false flag" attack by the Obama administration intended "to remove the 2nd amendment," and she's approvingly cited the work of conspiratorialist Wayne Masden, including an article titled "Obama’s gay trysts confirmed again by senior congressional source" and another claiming "that the Mossad has gay pictures of Lindsey Graham."

The Daily Beast should have mentioned some of this -- but the Beast is not covering Barr as a political figure. The Hill, on the other hand, has no such excuse -- it's strictly a political journal. So why is this showing up at Ballot Box, "The Hill's campaign blog"? And why do we learn nothing from it about Barr's insane beliefs?
Roseanne: Hillary is 'the same old s---'

Comedian Roseanne Barr dismissed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid in an interview Monday, saying she offered "the same old shit."

“I think she’s a Democrat just like they all are,” Barr, who herself ran as an independent candidate in 2012, told The Daily Beast. “She seems like every other Democrat. I would not like to see her win. She’s the same old shit. I’d like to see me win...."

Barr said that she was not swayed to become a Clinton supporter by the prospect of electing America’s first female president.

“I think that a party that was woman-friendly would be revolutionary, and that party could be headed by a male or female,” she said. “It’s what the party itself stands for that matters. She is standing as a Democrat so she’s a Democrat, and I don’t see much difference between them and the Republicans. They both get paid by the same guys...."
I've edited the Hill post, but there's nothing to indicate that Barr is out of her mind.

And, well, of course there isn't -- this is clickbait for right-wingers, intended to advance the meme that Hillary's being attacked from the left by a left-leaning feminist icon! Oooh! Oooh! Catfight! Catfight! Libs in disarray!

Yes, the lefty media likes to cover crazies such as Victoria Jackson, Nick Searcy, and Ted Nugent -- but we always tell you these people are crazy. In fact, we're delighted to give you examples of how crazy these people are.

But if a mainstream outlet reported on a Victoria Jackson rant while describing Jackson as nothing more than a "former Saturday Night Live star," omitting her history of insane political pronouncements, that would be a journalistic embarrassment -- just like this.

RUBIO ROCKS OUR WORLD! (IN THEORY.)

In The New York Times today, David Brooks looks at Marco Rubio and sees starbursts:
... it’s probably right to see Rubio as the second most likely nominee, slightly behind Jeb Bush and slightly ahead of Walker.

He is, for starters, the most talented politician in the race....

Rubio gives a very good speech. He has an upbeat and pleasant demeanor. He has a great personal story. His policy agenda is more detailed and creative than any of his rivals. He has an overarching argument -- that it is time for a new generation to reform and replace archaic structures.
Here's my favorite passage from the Brooks column:
So there is beginning to be a certain charisma to his presidential campaign. It is not necessarily showing up in outright support. The first-term senator still shows up only with 8.3 percent support on the Real Clear Politics average of 2016 Republican presidential nomination polls, leaving him tied for 5th in the field. But primary voters are open to him; the upside is large.
Did you follow that? Rubio has charisma -- apparently! The polls don't actually show that he has charisma, but it sure seems as if he really has it!

Sorry, David, that's not how it works. Either the voters are feeling the Rubio magic or they aren't. You can't have hypothetical charisma. Voters can't be sort of electrified.

I'm seeing a similar misunderstanding of charisma in this Bloomberg article by Tim Alberta titled "Marco Rubio Is the Rock Star They Feared He Would Be." At first, you get the sense from Alberta that Rubio was really killing it in New Hampshire last week, especially in the eyes of one emblematic voter:
The speech had ended and the room was clearing out, but Barry Devine lingered near the podium, gazing at the stage. The 73-year-old Republican activist, in a suit and Vietnam veteran cap, had just heard a young senator deliver the dinner address at the New Hampshire GOP's spring kickoff event. And it left him mesmerized -- even a bit emotional....

"I'll just say this: We've got to bring this country back. I didn't fight in Vietnam for nothing," Devine said. Nodding to Rubio, he added, "And I think he could do it."

Everything about Rubio -- his policy prescriptions, his family history, his "youthful energy" -- resonated with Devine. But what made Rubio his favorite speaker in a day of appearances from Republican 2016 contenders was something less tangible. "The most important thing," Devine said, "is that he really loves his country."
And yet, several paragraphs later, we learn this:
Even the veteran activist Rubio wowed with his Friday speech, wouldn't commit. "I like Rand. I like Scott Walker. I even like, believe it or not, Rick Perry -- he's really done his homework," said Devine, who, after making 7,000 calls for Scott Brown's 2014 Senate campaign, will be a sought-after volunteer for any of the presidential hopefuls. "I don't want to close the door on anyone yet."
You see:
... there is a palpable sense that none of the buzz around Rubio -- his talent, his upside, his emotional appeal -- may wind up translating into concrete support. He has for months been polling in the single digits both nationally and in early nominating states. He has made no known staff hires in Iowa. And in New Hampshire, despite his sparkling debut, even those people singing his praises were quick to emphasize that they aren't prepared to pick a side.
Rubio isn't a "rock star." He's a contestant on American Idol or The Voice who's talented and pitch-perfect and undoubtedly appealing while he's on stage, but who's utterly lacking in the edge that actually make someone a "rock star." He generates enthusiasm, but no one's quite ready to get a Rubio tattoo yet.

After he announced his candidacy, Rubio got a bounce in the CNN poll and is now in a virtual tie with Scott Walker and Rand Paul for second place. (CNN has Jeb Bush still leading with 18%, then Walker with 12% and Rubio and Paul with 11%.) Now, remember: Walker hasn't had his official announcement yet. Nor does he have Jeb Bush's name recognition, or the family ties of Jeb or Rand Paul. He's still near the front based on a two-month-old speech at CPAC.

Why? Because Republican voters expect him to kick liberal ass. As for Jeb, the GOP voters in this poll who like him presumably think he's just another kid from a dynasty, but it's their party's dynasty -- being a Bush, he'll have the muscle to move the country in a Republican direction.

Do Republican voters think Rubio has the juice to do what they want him to do and kick the asses they want him to kick? Because if he never gives off that sense of power, then he's probably peaking right now.

Monday, April 20, 2015

THE NEW STATUS ACCESSORY: YOUR OWN PERSONAL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

You haven't really made it in this country until you personally own a Republican presidential candidate. Ask Norman Braman:
Braman, a former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles football franchise, is poised to occupy the sugar-daddy role for [Marco] Rubio....

The Miami businessman, Braman’s friends say, is considering spending anywhere from $10 million to $25 million -- and possibly even more -- on Rubio’s behalf, a cash stake that could potentially alter the course of the Republican race by enabling the Florida senator to wage a protracted fight for the nomination.
Braman doesn't like Jeb Bush because Bush, as governor, vetoed $2 million in state funding for the Braman Breast Cancer Institute. So he bought Marco, and Marco loves being owned:
Braman is both a benefactor and a friend to Rubio, and their close relationship dates back to when the now-presidential candidate was ascending the ranks of the state Legislature.... He employs Rubio’s wife, Jeannette, part time through his charity, the Braman Family Foundation. After Rubio was elected to the Senate in 2010 -- a race that Braman and his wife Irma poured nearly $10,000 into -- the two families traveled together to Israel.

In his recently published memoir, Rubio dedicated an entire paragraph of the acknowledgments to Braman and suggested that he’d become a father-like figure to him.
Ted Cruz is similarly owned:
... Robert Mercer, a Wall Street hedge-fund magnate ... who started at I.B.M. and made his fortune using computer patterns to outsmart the stock market, emerged this week as a key early bankroller of Mr. Cruz’s surprisingly fast campaign start. He is believed to be the main donor behind a network of four “super PACs” supporting Mr. Cruz that reported raising $31 million just a few weeks into his campaign.
But the Koch brothers are still the alpha dogs at this, because they've just declared ownership of a presidential candidate and they haven't put up a cent:
On Monday, at a fund-raising event in Manhattan for the New York State Republican Party, David Koch told donors that he and his brother, who oversee one of the biggest private political organizations in the country, believed that Mr. Walker would be the Republican nominee....

Two people who attended the event said they heard Mr. Koch go even further, indicating that Mr. Walker should be the Republican nominee.

... Mr. Koch’s remark left little doubt among attendees of where his heart is, and could effectively end one of the most closely watched contests in the “invisible primary,” a period where candidates crisscross the country seeking not the support of voters but the blessing of their party’s biggest donors and fund-raisers.
But:
Mr. Koch’s remarks suggested that the political organizations they oversee -- which include Americans for Prosperity, a grass-roots organization, and Freedom Partners, a donor trade group with an affiliated super PAC -- would not intervene in the Republican primary process on behalf of a single candidate.
So (even though a Koch spokesman denied this report) here were the Kochs declaring Walker their boy without promising a dime to him -- but because they have so much money they could give him, he's owned.

And if he falters in the primaries, others will line up to be owned by the Kochs, even though they'll know that the Kochs would have preferred to own someone else.

Hey, I guess you could call this the Ownership Society.

ARE WE TAKING DICK MORRIS SERIOUSLY?

There's a Fred Dicker story in the New York Post right now that's being taken very, very seriously. Did I say in the headline that Dicker's source for this story is Dick Morris? Actually, I have no idea who the source is. I just made the headline up -- which is appropriate, because Dicker, or his source, almost certainly made the story up:
De Blasio in secret bid to be Dems’ 2016 pick

Despite repeated claims to the contrary, Mayor Bill de Blasio is positioning himself to be the leftist “progressive” alternative to Wall Street-friendly Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Democratic candidate for president, a national party operative told The Post.

De Blasio’s hope, the operative said, is a “Draft de Blasio" movement will develop among progressive activists over the next several months that will lead to the mayor being able to defeat Clinton in the primary elections next year in much the same way leftist Sen. George McGovern successfully challenged the initially front-running establishment Democratic candidate, Sen. Edmund Muskie, more than 40 years ago.
Why is this ridiculous? Let Ed Kilgore count the ways:
... you have to wonder exactly why anyone would think Bill de Blasio has a legitimate shot at displacing Hillary Clinton and becoming president, especially via a “draft,” which hasn’t really happened since 1952 if even then. The number of mayors of New York who have gone from Gracie Mansion to the White House, directly or indirectly, is exactly zero. The McGovern analogy Dicker offers is flawed by the fact that it’s, well, wrong; McGovern wasn’t some late entry who upset Ed Muskie; he carefully built a grass-roots organization while Muskie collected endorsements, and Muskie started falling apart the minute voters became involved.
(And Dicker is old enough to know that.)

It's true that de Blasio visited the key primary state of Iowa last week. But that was at the invitation of a fellow progressive, former senator Tom Harkin. At the urging of another progressive friend, de Blasio also visited Nebraska, which -- to put it mildly -- is not a key primary state, and he also plans to visit Wisconsin (again, not a key primary state) later in the month.

This is not the itinerary of a guy who's running for president in this cycle, though it's possibly the itinerary of someone who wants to build a national progressive movement (and wants to influence the eventual Democratic nominee's platform). Republicans do this kind of thing all the time. My first thought when I heard that de Blasio was in Iowa was that he's trying to be a Democratic Steve King -- a guy who uses a high profile and clout within his party in order to try to keep prominent members from drifting to the center.

I guessed that Dick Morris was the "national party operative" in Dicker's story because he's made it his life's work to stir up trouble for Democrats. But the "operative" could be anybody -- or nobody.

The story is phony, but here's New York magazine taking it seriously, and here's The Week doing the same.

And that's because most of the media doesn't grasp what's self-evident to Josh Marshall:
... 100 to 1 it's another consciously made up New York Post story. Because this is what the Post does. For those outside New York, remember, the Post isn't a real newspaper in the sense of publishing accurate stories. And I say that as someone who used to write columns for them.
If there's a group that really needs to be told that the Post "isn't a real newspaper in the sense of publishing accurate stories," it's not "those outside New York," it's those inside the rest of the media. The rest of the media think the Post is a paper that tries at all times to present facts and opinions the same way other papers do, albeit with a more conservative slant and a greater taste for the lurid. But the Post is perfectly willing to just publish fairytales -- the same is true, of course, for Fox News -- as long as the fairytales come with some deniability.

This story isn't a big deal in the long run. It'll be obvious soon enough that it's ridiculous, and it won't have any effect the presidential race. But the rest of the press needs to start noticing that the Murdoch empire flouts the rules other media outlets play by. In bigger things, that matters. Murdoch should be a pariah and all his properties should be under a cloud of suspicion whenever they publish. But we're not even close to that yet.

SO, HOW OFTEN DO WE REALLY VOTE AGAINST POLS BECAUSE OF CORRUPTION?

If pollsters ask, Americans say they don't like money in politics. But name me some recent politicians who've been turned out of office by voters because they engaged in quid pro quos in exchange for cash. No, I don't mean Scott Brown, who lost to a candidate angry about corruption in general but who wasn't defeated specifically because of his dirty deeds. And no, I don't mean pols who've been brought up on charges. Who gets in trouble with voters for this sort of thing?

There ought to be a point at which doing the bidding of your donors raises such a stink of corruption that it's counterproductive at the polls -- but I don't see that, for members of either party. Which is why I think this New York Times story could just be breathless hype:
... “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer -- a 186-page investigation of donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities -- is proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy.

The book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return.

“We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Mr. Schweizer writes.

His examples include a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department....
And in the general election Hillary's opponent will be ... who? Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? No. Her opponent will be a Republican who's very much bought and paid for. (Here, for instance, is a new Politico story about Norman Braman, a self-made billionaire who's prepared to give Marco Rubio $10 million to $25 million -- surely out of pure altruism, right?)

Oh, but this is foreign. Well, that will inspire voter outrage if it goes beyond the usual bounds, with foreigners we consider truly hostile, not merely unsavory. Remember, we had a president not long ago who literally held hands with a Saudi prince. And the guy behind Iran-contra a few decades ago is spoken of with religious reverence by every Republican in America. So we have a high tolerance for deals with foreigners as well. (Remember, it was Reagan's vice president who succeeded in winning a third presidential term for their party, so we obviously didn't hold an Iran-contra grudge for very long.)

Of course, the press can treat the Clinton revelations as so unspeakably awful that they're shocking even by our usual standards, even if they're not particularly remarkable, and the public may buy that narrative. Ask Brian Williams and Bill O'Reilly about how press double standards can tailor public perceptions. We can see from the Times story that the plan is to make this seem worse than the usual run of mutual back-scratching:
But “Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling, both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book.
We need to clean house politically -- but we haven't done it up to now, and we routinely reelect pols who take a lot of money from a lot of sources for a lot of favors, so this should just be more of the same.

Here's the thing: We will elect a corrupt president in 2016. That's simply a fact. The question is whether we'll elect a corrupt president who'll take a wrecking ball to what's left of the social safety apparatus, to voting rights, to reproductive rights, to progressive taxation, and so on.

I say: Vote for the left-centrist crook, as opposed to one of the other crooks. It's important.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

CAN RUBIO GET AWAY WITH SAYING (IN SPANISH!) THAT HE'LL RETAIN DACA AS PRESIDENT (EVEN TEMPORARILY)?

The GOP Establishment's alterna-Jeb, Marco Rubio, will let the DREAMers stay in America as president, at least for a while, says Breitbart. Can a guy win the Republican nomination if he says that and lacks Jeb Bush's money and connections?
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, said he believes that President Barack Obama’s first executive amnesty for so-called DREAMers -- the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) -- is “important” and he won’t reverse it himself if elected president. He delivered these remarks in a Spanish-language interview he gave to Univision’s Jorge Ramos.

“I believe DACA is important. It can’t be terminated from one moment to the next, because there are already people benefiting from it,” Rubio said in Spanish on Ramos’s television program, according to an English translation provided by the media service Grabien. “But yes, it is going to have to end. It can’t be the permanent policy of the United States, and I don’t think that’s what they’re asking either. I think everyone prefers immigration reform.”

Ramos followed up, according to the translation, by asking: “But then, to clarify, you would put an end to DACA once immigration reform is approved, but what would happen, Senator, if there is no immigration reform; would you cancel DACA anyway?”
What Rubio said, according to the Grabien translation, is that no one should worry because he'll get immigration reform done as president, on a piece-by-piece basis.
Well, at some point it is going to have to end, that is to say, it can’t continue being the permanent policy of the United States. I believe, if I become President, it is going to be possible to achieve immigration reform. It is not going to be comprehensive, that is to say, it is not going to all be in one massive bill.
Really? That's the message that's going to get Rubio the nomination -- We'll keep the Obama status quo in place until we achieve our goal of immigration refor slowly and incrementally, passing bill after bill? Every right-winger thinks every immigration proposal is "amnesty." Why would the base support him on this? Can he even be a running mate after saying this?

And he said it in Spanish:



Maybe I'm wrong to think there's an audience for this in the GOP electorate. I just don't see it. I think this clip is toxic for him.

NO, CHRIS CHRISTIE IS NOT GOING TO MAKE A COMEBACK

Byron York has been watching the latest GOP cattle call in New Hampshire, and he thinks Chris Christie is poised for a comeback:
Chris Christie is poised to re-emerge after a number of early death pronouncements. There is a reason people liked the New Jersey governor before he became mired in the bridge scandal. Once a favorite of a lot of establishment GOP poobahs, Christie went down, down, down after problems at home and his decision (hesitation?) to hold off on campaigning while rivals got the jump on him. But Christie has an undeniable appeal to voters on the stump, and now that he is finally out on the stump, they're getting a chance to see it. Look for his stock to rise.
I've told you why I think Christie is toast -- primarily the embrace of President Obama after Sandy, and, beyond that, not so much Bridgegate itself as the fact that Bridgegate made him a laughingstock in "the liberal media" rather than a guy who verbally slapped down liberal critics and thwarted unions. But if all that's not enough to sink him in the Republican primaries, there's this:
Chris Christie took a centrist tone on guns Wednesday, calling for the “right balance” between gun control and the Second Amendment.

“We’ve got to make sure we have public safety, but on the other hand we have to protect people’s rights both as sportsmen and hunters and for self protection too, find the right balance,” Christie told a group of New Hampshire voters at Chez Vachon in Manchester, according to New Jersey newspaper The Record.

The comments came just over a week after news broke that the New Jersey Republican governor was not invited to address the NRA’s annual conference in Nashville last weekend.
As Jazz Shaw writes at Hot Air:
Christie hasn’t been a simple bystander. He signed a raft of gun bills in 2013, one of which required the state to turn over New Jersey mental health records to the feds. Others were just as disturbing. If he felt that this is what he had to do in order to “go along to get along” in the Garden State, that was his choice, but that’s something he’ll be held accountable for in the national race he’s pondering now. And when he answers questions like this when discussing gun control on the national stage, well... I wouldn’t expect his NRA “C” rating to be going up any time soon.
Christie has a "C" rating from the NRA? And, unlike, say, John Kasich, who once backed an assault weapons ban but now does what the NRA wants him to do, Christie hasn't become significantly more conservative on guns over the years? Then why have we ever talked about him as a potential Republican presidential nominee?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

RANDREW DICE CLAY?

Every Republican in the presidential race is going to say unkind things about Hillary Clinton, but is it a surprise that the nastiest zinger of the race so far came from the guy with a (deserved) reputation for snapping at journalists, particularly those who are women?
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) dinged Hillary Clinton during a speech in New Hampshire on Saturday, suggesting the Democratic presidential candidate could face a serious primary challenge.

"I'm starting to worry that when Hillary Clinton travels, there's gonna need to be two planes – one for her and her entourage, and one for her baggage," Paul, himself a presidential candidate, said to laughs and applause at the Republican Leadership Summit.

"I'm concerned that the plane with the baggage is really getting heavy and teetering," Paul added.
I get the feeling Paul is just getting warmed up. His confrontations with reporters suggest that he's not just running a tough campaign -- he viscerally has a mean streak, and we're going to see more of it as the months progress. I think that's really going to help him in the primary race, although I think there are too many hawks with too much money for him to actually to actually win the nomination. If he does somehow emerge victorious, I think most Americans are going to think he's too nasty to be president. But meanwhile, his party will cheer, which will only encourage him. So expect a lot more of this, and expect the insults to get a lot uglier.

DEATH PANELS! DID JEB JUST LOSE THE PRIMARIES?

I can't tell what the reaction in the GOP base is going to be to this:
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Jeb Bush, defending his efforts to keep alive Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman, when he was governor of Florida, suggested on Friday that patients on Medicare should be required to sign advance directives dictating their care if they become incapacitated.

A similar proposal by President Obama -- that doctors should be paid to advise patients on end-of-life decisions -- became a political firestorm in 2009, when Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate, claimed that the legislation would give bureaucrats the power to decide if some frail or disabled people were deserving of medical care. The assertion was shown to be false.

In 2010, Medicare tried to add a regulation that would permit “voluntary advance care planning” during yearly checkups. But after an uproar, President Obama’s administration pushed to drop that provision....
Well, Republicans won't let Obama get away with anything in this area, and if Hillary Clinton is elected president she'll undoubtedly get the same treatment. But what about Jeb? GOP base voters don't trust him. Won't they attack him for this?

I can't tell. The Big Lie that Republicans originally spread about this started with Betsey McCaughey, with Sarah Palin weighing in later, as PolitiFact noted in 2009:
On July 16, Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York and a conservative health care commentator, suggested that the Democratic plan included a measure requiring seniors be told how to end their lives. "Congress would make it mandatory — absolutely require -- that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner," she said on a radio show hosted by conservative Fred Thompson.

PolitiFact gave McCaughey a Pants on Fire rating for that statement. There were no mandatory sessions proposed. Instead, for the first time, Medicare would pay for doctors' appointments for patients to discuss living wills, health care directives and other end-of-life issues. The appointments were optional, and the AARP supported the measure.
Palin wrote later on Facebook:
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
So Republicans think there used to be (or still are!) mandatory "death panels" in Obamacare, in which people in life-or-death situations have to beg for their lives before heartless experts in a scene that could have come out of The Hunger Games. Many Democrats probably believe this, too.

Will the GOP base decide that Jeb's proposal is similar because it's mandatory? Or will the base conclude that, since no one from the evil government will tell you what to write on your end-of-life directive, it's freedom?

So far, I'm not seeing much noise on the right about this. Maybe Rick Santorum or Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee is saving it up as a later attack line to use on Jeb. But maybe not. Maybe there's a sense that Jeb's version of an end-of-life mandate is totally different.

Jeb did say this while talking about Terri Schiavo. I think the crazies probably admire what Jeb did in the Schiavo case, because (a) it's "pro-life" and (b) he scored a few momentary victories against us evil lefties for a while. This is one of the few area in which his record gives him an advantage over all the other candidates in wingnut voters' eyes -- he's squandering some of that, but he has some to squander.

If Jeb is the general election candidate, supporters of what he did in the Schiavo case will probably remember what he did (because conservatives have long memories). The rest of, alas, probably won't (we have shot memories). I'd love to think the Schiavo case would hurt him in a general election -- but it probably won't.