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“Senator Cheney?”: Just When You Thought The Senate Couldn’t Get Any Worse, Up Pops The Devil’s Daughter

If we were to make a list of competitive Senate races to watch in 2014, Wyoming wouldn’t make the cut. Sen. Mike Enzi is a popular Republican incumbent in a deep-red state — he won re-election in 2008 with more than 75% of the vote — and at age 69, the senator is not yet in a position where he needs to think about retirement. Enzi’s fourth term looks like one of the cycle’s safest bets.

At least, it did. In an era in which even conservative Republican incumbents have to worry about fierce primary challenges, Enzi will apparently have a high-profile foe next year.

A young Dick Cheney began his first campaign for the House in this tiny village [Lusk, Wyoming] — population 1,600 — after the state’s sole Congressional seat finally opened up. But nowadays, his daughter Liz does not seem inclined to wait patiently for such an opening.

Ms. Cheney, 46, is showing up everywhere in the state, from chicken dinners to cattle growers’ meetings, sometimes with her parents in tow. She has made it clear that she wants to run for the Senate seat now held by Michael B. Enzi, a soft-spoken Republican and onetime fly-fishing partner of her father.

It’s not just idle speculation. Liz Cheney, despite having no meaningful background in the state whatsoever, moved with her family to Wyoming just last year and quickly became a ubiquitous political player. Indeed, the right-wing media personality even called Enzi directly, letting him know she’s likely to run against him in a GOP primary.

The result would probably be an ugly fight within the state Republican Party, pitting a popular three-term incumbent against a powerful family with deep roots in the state.

It’s not altogether clear why Cheney would bother. Her brief tenure in public office — she worked in the Bush/Cheney State Department — didn’t go well, but she remains a fixture in political media, routinely publishing “stark raving mad” pieces and making Sunday show appearances. Cheney’s megaphone is formidable, even if she uses it towards ridiculous ends.

But whatever her motivations, this will probably be one of the cycle’s more noteworthy primary fights. Enzi, assuming he doesn’t retire, would almost certainly have the edge, though he has not yet faced a rival as fierce and unburdened by propriety as Cheney.

On Twitter, ‏@pourmecoffee added, “If ‘Liz Cheney’ is the answer, the question must be ‘How could the U.S. Senate possibly get any worse?'”

Postscript: The NYT piece noted that the former vice president, eager to help his daughter, has also begun traveling more regularly to the state he used to represent. That said, Liz Cheney “has told associates that if she runs, she wants to do so in her own right.”

It was the only sentence in the article that literally made me laugh. Cheney wants to run against a popular incumbent from her own party in a state she’s lived in for a year, and she thinks her candidacy should be unrelated to her last name? C’mon.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 8, 2013

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Money Talks”: A Climate Change Argument That May Even Work On Conservatives

We may find out if Republicans actually do trust the free market.

For years, activists have been touting the fact that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is manmade, hoping that would inspire Republicans — who first advanced the idea of a cap-and-trade system to slow carbon emissions — to break their pledge to the Koch brothers and do something about the coming climate crisis.

It didn’t work.

A recent poll found a majority of Republicans — 58 percent — believe that climate change is a hoax. This explains why the right-wing media regularly laughs at the idea of doing anything to slow carbon emissions.

But there’s one group that seems to believe 100 percent that climate change is real and a serious threat to their existence. It’s the group that has the most to lose if we do nothing: the insurance industry.

The Weekly Standard‘s Eli Lehrer explains:

Indeed, if free-market conservatives really want evidence of climate change, they ought to look towards the insurance markets that would bear much of the cost of catastrophic climate change. All three of the major insurance modeling firms and every global insurance company incorporate human-caused climate change into their projections of current and future weather patterns. The big business that has the most to lose from climate change, and that would reap the biggest rewards if it were somehow solved tomorrow, has universally decided that climate change is a real problem. An insurance company that ignored climate change predictions could, in the short term, make a lot of money by underpricing its competition on a wide range of products. Not a single firm has done this.

In fact, a recent report from the Geneva Association, “Warming of the Oceans and Implication for the (Re)insurance Industry,” suggests that climate change is making certain regions — including Florida and the United Kingdom — uninsurable.

Lehrer argues that the free market way to deal with a free market problem is the same solution offered by pioneering climate scientist James Hansen — a carbon tax:

Since carbon emissions do present a real problem, simply repealing the current regulations without replacing them would be both unwise and politically impossible. The least-intrusive and most economically beneficial way to deal with the problem appears to be a carbon tax, particularly a revenue-neutral carbon tax that could be used to offset and/or replace other taxes.

According to that Koch pledge, which has been signed by a majority of Republicans in Congress, any carbon tax would have to be matched by an “equivalent amount of tax cuts,” which would likely violate Grover Norquist’s tax pledge. It’s a predicament that typifies the structural obstruction that binds the modern GOP.

But money talks. Perhaps when they can’t insure their Palm Beach homes, the cost of inaction will be too much for even this Republican Party.


By: Jason Sattler, The National Memo, July 8, 2013

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Climate Change | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Getting Mad For All The Wrong Reasons”: Madness Is Simply The Status Quo For Republicans

Nearly a week later, the Affordable Care Act’s opponents are still furious that the employer-mandate provision that conservatives opposed won’t be implemented on schedule. But there’s a reason that sentence might seem unusual to you — if Republicans don’t like the employer mandate, why are they outraged that the mandate won’t exist until 2015 at the earliest?

The answer is simple, but unsatisfying: Republicans are mad for all the wrong reasons. Brian Beutler had a good piece on this the other day, noting that Obamacare’s detractors are, ironically, disappointed that “a problematic provision won’t be taking effect right away.” Republicans don’t want a health care system that works effectively; they want a system that doesn’t work effectively so they can complain about it. The White House’s decision last week satisfies GOP policy goals, such as they are, but interferes with the GOP’s rhetorical goals, which the right obviously sees as more important.

[I]t doesn’t take much reading between the lines to recognize what’s really going on. Republicans are still committed to the far-fetched objective of repealing Obamacare, and as such have effectively vowed not to work with the administration to fix any of its dysfunctional provisions. To the contrary, the GOP is committed to creating implementation problems where they can, and to making sure existing problems are never fixed, to make the whole program a liability for Democrats.

By delaying the employer mandate, the Obama administration unilaterally sidestepped the GOP’s strategy. And Republicans aren’t happy about it.

Keep in mind, Republican policymakers could, right now, sit down with Democrats to explore scrapping the employer mandate and replacing it with some other policy alternative. But that would require governing, and post-policy nihilists that dominate Republican politics in 2013 aren’t even open to that possibility.

We’re left with a dynamic that the political establishment still finds difficult to fully grasp: GOP officials could make the federal health care system better and more to their liking, but they see no value in that. They’d rather sabotage it, regardless of the real-world consequences. They could help get rid of a mandate they oppose, but they’d rather keep the policy they hate in the hopes it won’t work, people will feel adverse consequences, and there will be new fodder for 30-second attack ads a year from now.

Some people pursue public service to build things, and some pursue public service because they just want to watch the things burn.

This dovetails nicely with news that Republican leaders have urged the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, PGA, and NASCAR not to partner with Washington on informing the public about health care benefits Americans are legally entitled to. Kevin Drum had a terrific rant on this.

But not. Conservatives remain so spittle-flecked angry about [Obamacare] that they can’t even abide the thought of a sports league helping to run a public education campaign that reduces confusion about who’s entitled to what. Even now, they desperately want it to fail. And they’re going to do everything they can to help it fail, even if that means screwing over their own constituents. It’s a temper tantrum possibly unequalled in American political history.

And it’s revolting.

I’ve made a conscious effort to read conservative commentary on this, trying to understand their rationale for such callousness and recklessness. Their argument, in effect, seems to be this: Republicans hate the law, so of course they want it to fail and will continue to do whatever they can to ensure their preferred outcome. If there are elements of Obamacare that need fixing, why should the GOP agree to help clean up the mess? Families may suffer if the system collapses, but it’ll clear the way, eventually, for a superior Republican reform plan.

I don’t doubt that the right finds this line of thought coherent and persuasive, but their sincerity doesn’t make it any less ridiculous. First, there is no precedent for elected federal American officials acting to deliberately sabotage federal law, hurting millions of people on purpose out of partisan spite. That’s just madness, but it’s currently the status quo.

Second, if GOP policymakers were even remotely serious about governing, they could — get this — achieve policy goals they like. This employer mandate is a terrific example of the sort of provision Democrats would gladly trade away, if only they had someone to trade with. Republicans could, in other words, score policy victories if they just try.

People forget this, but shortly before Obamacare became law, several GOP leaders said they agreed with “80 percent” of the Democratic plan — and that was before the public option was scuttled, which means in the end, Republicans agreed with more than 80 percent of the law. GOP officials could move it even closer to their preferred vision if they’d only take public policy seriously for a short while.

As for someday replacing the Affordable Care Act with a far-right, Republican-friendly alternative, we’ve been waiting for years for a half-way-credible GOP plan, and there’s a good reason one has never materialized: they really don’t give a darn. They saw the old, dysfunctional mess — the one the public demanded be reformed; the one that cost too much and covered too few — and said it was good enough to leave in place indefinitely.

The most generous thing I can say about their approach is that it’s fundamentally unserious about helping anyone. The least generous thing I can say is probably inappropriate for a family-friendly blog.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 8, 2013

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Moment Of Conception For Texas”: Rick Perry Announces He Will Not Seek A Fourth Term As Governor

In a campaign-like event, Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) has announced that he will not seek another term as governor of Texas.

“The time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership,” he said, speaking at San Antonio’s Holt Cat Caterpillar dealership.

The governor was introduced by his wife Anita, who reminisced about how the native son of Paint Creek, Texas “wore her down” into marriage.

Perry’s speech focused on summarizing the success of Texas’ economy — which he said leads the nation in job creation, even though it technically doesn’t — and congratulating himself for defending the “freedom” from the federal government that he insists made it possible. He took office in 2001 after George W. Bush was elected president, and then won his own terms in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

The governor also nodded several times to the ongoing crisis surrounding Republican efforts to impose more abortion restrictions in the state. He vowed that he would call for another special session if the current one designed to enact a 20-week ban on abortions and new restrictions on clinics that offer abortions does not succeed.

Perry has waged a war on family planning and Planned Parenthood in Texas, which has created a dire situation for poor women seeking basic health care.

State senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), the woman whose filibuster led to the special session, has expressed an interest in seeking statewide office. A recent poll showed Perry leading her by double digits.

The Texas Tribune reports that Attorney General Greg Abbott is the “instant favorite” to replace Perry.

The governor made no announcements about what he would do after his term ends, but he did leave the door open to another presidential run, saying his decision on that would come in “due time.”

Perry’s “oops” moment in a 2011 debate, when for nearly a minute he couldn’t name the third cabinet-level department he would eliminate, will go down in history as one of the greatest flubs by a major-party candidate ever.

Perry said he was leaving his office with a “deep sense of humility and appreciation.”


By: Jason Sattler, The National Review, July 8, 2013

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Under Obamacare, Millions Will Die”: The Coming Campaign Against The Affordable Care Act

I have questions. For instance, are Charles and David Koch aliens from the planet Fnerzblax 6, come here to feast on the entrails of Earth humans to give them strength for their coming war with the barbarians of Fnerzblax 4? We don’t know, and that’s what has me so concerned.

I ask because Americans for Prosperity, the group through which the Kochs channel much of their political activism, is initiating a new television campaign to get people afraid of and angry about Obamacare, and this seems to be the method of the campaign. The first ad, called “Questions,” asks whether Obamacare is going to take money from a worried-looking young mother and deprive her sick child of the care he needs to survive. Not that it would truly do these things, but hey, she’s just asking:

Beyond the just-asking format, there’s a preview here of something else we’ll be seeing as Obamacare gets implemented over the next couple of years. Every problem that anyone has with anything related to health care will be characterized as a consequence of Obamacare, which in some tortured sense might be almost true. The ad mentions not being able to choose your doctor, which would be bad. If you chose an insurance plan in an exchange established by Obamacare, that plan will probably have a network of doctors from which you have to choose if you want your care paid for, and if your doctor isn’t on it, then you’ve been prevented from choosing your own doctor.

Of course, that isn’t because of Obamacare, it’s because of the way insurance works in America; it’s how it worked before Obamacare, and it’s how it’ll work after Obamacare. But it’s a lot simpler to say, “Now that we’re under Obamacare, I didn’t get to choose my doctor!” And did you know that under Obamacare, medications could come with dangerous side effects? Or that under Obamacare, kids who get shots will cry? Not only that, under Obamacare, you could get cancer and die—even if your doctor wanted to save you. In fact, under Obamacare, we’re all going to die one day. Thanks for all the misery, pain, and death, Obama.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, July 8, 2013

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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