Archive

  • Did Democrats Get Hosed on the Budget Bill?

    Merry Christmas to me... (Flickr/Speaker John Boehner)
    Once again, Democrats had to step in and save John Boehner from a humiliating defeat that would lead to a government shutdown (67 Republicans voted against the bill; the 57 Democrats who voted in favor pushed it past a majority). There were complicated coalitions facing off; on one side you had Boehner and the White House trying to pass it, while on the other you had liberal Democrats joining with conservative Republicans in opposition. The general conclusion in the press is well summed up by articles like this one , noting that while the liberals failed to stop the bill, this is nonetheless a potentially seminal moment, because they went against the White House, and vocally so. The question is whether this signals an important rift that will have real practical consequences in the next two years and beyond. That is important, but before we get there, there's a substantive matter we need to take note of. This budget bill was cobbled together in haste, but there was time to throw in...
  • Just How Delusional Are Congressional Republicans On Immigration?

    Flickr/Anne
    If you're enough of a weirdo to be following Congress' attempts to pass a budget before tonight's deadline, you've heard about the "CRomnibus," the oh-so-clever combination of bills Republican leaders devised to avoid a shutdown and simultaneously convince their members that they're really, truly going to give it to Barack Obama over his executive actions on immigration. The "omnibus" part is the bill that will keep every department but one operating through the end of the fiscal year (next October), while the "CR" part is the continuing resolution that applies only to the Department of Homeland Security, keeping it operating only until the end of February. At that point, tea partiers in Congress were told, we can have another shutdown fight and we'll really get that Obama, just like you want to. Now that the thing (in whatever final form it arrives) is about to pass, it's time to marvel at just what a bunch of fools those Republicans are if they think that come February they're going...
  • Do Republicans Want to Bring Torture Back?

    A medieval use of stress positions, an oldie but a goodie. (Flickr/Curious Expeditions)
    I'd like to follow up on a question I've raised yesterday and today over at the Post (see here and here ) regarding the torture program. It's pretty simple: what do the program's defenders think we should do now? Or more particularly, since Barack Obama isn't going to change his policy toward torture in the last two years of his presidency, what should the next president do? I've seen almost no one talk about the torture question as though it related in any way to the future. Even the most ardent torture advocates are talking only about the past. But if they're right that the program was perfectly legal and produced vital intelligence that could be obtained no other way, then one would assume they'd like to renew the waterboarding sessions as soon as they have the opportunity, i.e. as soon as there's a Republican president. Which makes it particularly important to get the people who want to be that president on record now about whether they have any plans to do so. When I wrote this...
  • Rick Perry: Tan, Rested, and Ready

    Rick Perry throwing gang signs with some shady character. (Flickr/Ed Schipul)
    Philip Rucker of the Washington Post got some quality time with Rick Perry, and came away with the conclusion that in contrast to the Yosemite Sam we all mocked in 2012, the new Perry "comes across as studious, contemplative and humble." And Perry agrees: "We are a substantially different, versed candidate," he says, though we are apparently not so humble as to realize that speaking in the first person plural is a little weird. But Perry is in a period of intensive presidential campaign preparation, which includes boning up on both presentation and policy: This week, Perry began intensive news media training, as advisers staged mock on-camera interviews with hostile questioning. Perry also has been working with speech coaches at Podium Master , a GOP firm run by an alumnus of the Royal Shakespeare Company, to improve his presentation skills. Perry's advisers acknowledge that he will have little margin for error in next fall's debates. In 2011, he imploded at a debate by forgetting the...
  • Torture Gets the 'Only In America' Treatment

    Joe Biden, Bidening. (Flickr/Adam Fagen)
    L et it not be said anywhere, at any time, by anyone, that Joe Biden does not love America. Biden's love for America is high as a mountain, and deep as the sea. In fact, Biden's love for America is so great that he is convinced that all other countries fortunate enough to share this planet with America are populated by nothing but knaves and fools. Or maybe it's just that his love gets the better of him sometimes, as it did in this discussion of the torture report issued yesterday by the Senate Intelligence Committee: "No, I think it's a badge of honor," Biden said when asked at Politico 's Women Rule Summit whether the sharply critical report by the Senate Intelligence Committee is a "black stain." "Every country, every country, has engaged in activities somewhere along the line that it has not been proud of," he added. "Think about it, name me another country that’s prepared to stand and say, 'This was a mistake, we should not have done what we’ve done and we will not do it again...
  • A Taxonomy of Torture Defenses

    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a summary of its report on the CIA's use of torture during George W. Bush's administration (this is a 480-page version; the full report runs 6,000 pages), and though previous reporting has revealed much of what the report will contain, there are new details to mull over. And of course, the renewed debate has brought back all the torture advocates from the Bush administration, who will vigorously, even angrily make their case that nothing improper or immoral happened during those dark times. As I argued yesterday, one of the things the torture advocates fear is that this debate will move from the realm of controversy to the realm of consensus, leaving them forever defined by history as the villains of this period. Today we no longer argue about whether Jim Crow or McCarthyism was right or wrong, though at the time they had their passionate defenders. Eventually, the Bush torture program will move to that same ground of consensus. But in...
  • Can Democrats Win In the South by Being More Liberal?

    (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
    I t isn't accurate to call Mary Landrieu "the last Southern Democrat," as one headline after another put it in the days leading up to and following her defeat in Saturday’s runoff election in Louisiana. While it's true that Republicans now control almost all the Senate seats, governorships, and legislatures of the 11 states of the old confederacy (the exceptions are found in Virginia and Florida), there are quite a few Democratic elected officials left in the South—but few of them were elected statewide, and a large proportion of them are black. For years, Democrats have tried to hold on in the South by appealing to the white voters who have steadily drifted away from them. That strategy has failed. Their future in the South—and they can have one—would start with black and Latino voters and work outward from there. It would be almost the exact opposite of how Democrats have been running statewide in recent years. No one expected Landrieu to hold on for a third term in the Senate,...
  • Whose Civil War Is Worse?

    Flickr/Tom Gill
    For some reason that I should probably determine one day, I've always found internal disputes with the conservative movement/Republican party somewhat more interesting than internal disputes within the liberal movement/Democratic party. Perhaps it's because, as a liberal, I get a little Nelson Muntzian charge out of watching the folks on the other side tear themselves apart. Or perhaps it's because, immersed as I am in the liberal world, the disputes on the left make more sense to me and therefore plumbing their mysteries isn't so compelling. Regardless, it has often been the case that one side is unified as the other is engaged in intramural battles; for many years, it was the Republicans who were together while the Dems were in disarray, while in the last few years the Democrats have been more united while the GOP has been riven by infighting. But could both sides now be at their own compatriots' throats? And if so, whose internal battle is more vicious? Charles Krauthammer insists...
  • Does Jeb Bush Understand His Party?

    Flickr/Gage Skidmore
    Can Jeb Bush avoid becoming the Jon Huntsman of 2016? You might remember Huntsman—affable fellow, ran for president in 2012? When he first joined the race, Huntsman got a lot of positive press coverage and even some praise from liberals. Here was a former governor who was certainly conservative but also seemed willing to work with Democrats, who disagreed with President Obama on many things but didn't hate him, and whose willingness to renounce past flirtations with sanity and pander shamelessly to tea partiers was minimal. And of course, his candidacy went nowhere. And now we've got Jeb Bush, who has a well-known name, the affection of corporate America, and maybe the best shot of anyone at becoming the "establishment" candidate. The problem is that he's not willing to give up his support of comprehensive immigration reform or Common Core educational standards, making him suspiciously moderate in primary voters' eyes. And as the Wall Street Journal reminds us, he even refuses to take...
  • Quote of the Day: 'When Cops Are Scared'

    (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Laurie Skrivan)
    "Cops can get into a state of mind where they're scared to death. When they're in that really, really frightened place they panic and they act out on that panic. I have known cops who haven't had a racist bone in their bodies and in fact had adopted black children, they went to black churches on the weekend; and these are white cops. They really weren't overtly racist. They weren't consciously racist. But you know what they had in their minds that made them act out and beat a black suspect unwarrantedly? They had fear. They were afraid of black men. I know a lot of white cops who have told me. And I interviewed over 900 police officers in 18 months and they started talking to me, it was almost like a therapy session for them I didn't realize that they needed an outlet to talk. "They would say things like, 'Ms. Rice I'm scared of black men. Black men terrify me. I'm really scared of them. Ms. Rice, you know black men who come out of prison, they've got great hulk strength and I'm...

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