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“Perry ‘Next In Line’?”: Dick Morris Hoping For A New Lease On His Own Shady Career

There’s already been some Twitter-jokes about Dick Morris’ touting of Rick Perry’s 2016 prospects as the “kiss of death” for the Texas governor. But since Morris is just raising the banner of the famous “Next In Line” hypothesis of GOP presidential nomination contests that others will pick up sooner or later, we might as well take the con man’s argument seriously.

For those unfamiliar with the meme, “Next In Line” is one of those theories that sounds compelling thanks to the very limited sample size of recent presidential nominating contests. But it is based on the idea that Republicans are “orderly” and “hierarchical,” and naturally gravitate towards presidential candidates who have already been vetted in previous contests.

Now to some extent, the “Next in Line” meme is based on truisms: obviously, someone who has already run for president has, other things being equal, a relative advantage in name ID, contacts in key states, and fundraising networks. That’s true for any office in either party. But the idea that Republicans just “fall in line” mechanically behind the previous second-place finisher starts falling apart when you look at individual cycles. It doesn’t really apply to Nixon ’60 or Poppy ’88; far more important than their performance in previous nominating cycles is the fact that both were sitting vice presidents when they first won a presidential nomination. It doesn’t apply to Goldwater; yes, he won a smattering of delegates in 1960, but the only real threat to Nixon that year was Nelson Rockefeller. Nixon ’68 is indeed an example of a thoroughly vetted, previous candidate winning the nomination, but the “Next In Line” hypothesis would have suggested a ’64 also-ran like Romney (who pulled out before NH in ’68), Scranton (who didn’t run), or Rocky (who entered late in ’68 and fell short).

In 1976, the nominee was appointed president Gerald Ford, who had never run for president. You can argue that 1980 nominee Ronald Reagan won because he ran a close second in ’76, but the more important reality is that as the great symbol of a rapidly rising conservative movement, he would have won the first time around (technically the second, since he briefly ran in ’68), perhaps easily, had he not been facing an incumbent president.

The candidate who best fits the “Next in Line” hypothesis was Bob Dole in 1996. Still, Dole won against as weak a field Republicans have ever experienced before 2012. W. was by no means “Next in Line” in 2000. And in 2008 and 2012, while previous candidates did win, anyone who watched the actual competition in either year would be hard pressed to imagine it as a matter of disciplined Republicans falling into line behind the “inevitable” nominee.

If “Next in Line” really was some sort of iron law, of course, it’s unclear it would stipulate a 2016 nomination for Perry, who dropped out of the 2012 contest on January 19 after finishing fifth in Iowa and a very poor sixth in New Hampshire. Yes, there was a brief moment in the early autumn of 2013 when Perry looked like a king-hell rising star and Mitt Romney’s worst nightmare, but he rapidly blew it via a variety of issue mispositionings and debate gaffes, and perhaps the most overrated campaign organization in living memory.

Morris deems Perry Next-In-Line simply by dismissing the other 2012 losers as, well, losers, and then suggesting that Perry can do better this time if he does this and that and doesn’t do this and that. If he had some ham, he could make a ham sandwich, if he had some bread.

The reality is that proponents of Next-in-Line, along with other theories that dismiss disorderly factional fights in the GOP as so much thrashing about before the Establishment’s favorite is accepted, have a real problem in 2016. Nobody’s got a significant early lead in the polls. Christie and Bush have serious handicaps, particularly in the “electability” department that sometimes makes Establishment types grudgingly acceptable to grass-roots conservatives. Paul Ryan appears uninterested in running. Important party factions like the antichoicers, the Christian Right leadership, and Republican governors, don’t seem to have a consensus favorite. You could make a case, on paper, for someone like Scott Walker, who scratches more itches than most. But he’s got ethics problems and the kind of personality that makes him reminiscent of 2012’s on-paper winner, Tim Pawlenty, who never even made it to 2012.

I suppose you could say that on such a muddy track, Rick Perry’s got as much of a chance as anybody. But if he does somehow win the nomination, there will be nothing “orderly” or predictable about it–other than that Dick Morris will get a new lease on his shady career for having prominently “mentioned” him so early.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, April 30, 2014

May 1, 2014 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Republicans | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP Governors Hurting Their Own”: The Latest Plot To Undermine Obamacare And Prevent Millions From Enrolling In Medicaid

It’s actually quite easy to explain. The reason why 19 states have refused to expand Medicaid has nothing to do with the cost — the federal government would cover the full cost of the expansion for the next two years, then 95 percent of the cost thereafter. It definitely doesn’t have anything to do with a lack of need for such a solution. This, as with the refusal to establish health care marketplaces (exchanges), has everything to do with Obama Derangement Syndrome — Republican governors who refuse for a variety of cheap political excuses to attach their names to Obamacare. By doing so, they’re hurting their own people, including Republican voters by numbers into the hundreds of thousands per state.

The Affordable Care Act originally mandated that all states expand Medicaid eligibility from 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 138 percent of FPL. In other words, the government had previously established an income threshold for what constituted poverty: below the line and you’re considered poor and therefore eligible for certain safety-net benefits; above the line and you’re more or less on your own. But Obamacare raised the poverty threshold to qualify for Medicaid coverage, thus expanding Medicaid nationwide — until the Supreme Court ruled against that part of the law in 2012, allowing states to opt out of the expansion.

That’s a massive problem.

4.8 million Americans have incomes higher than the 100 percent threshold, so they don’t qualify for Medicaid without the expansion, but they don’t earn enough to qualify for health insurance premium subsidies through the marketplaces. The ACA was written with a nationwide Medicaid expansion in mind so the law’s premium subsidies only kick in where Medicaid coverage was supposed to leave off, after 138 percent of FPL. Hence the coverage gap.

In Kansas alone, home of climate and science denier Gov. Sam Brownback, there are 77,000 residents trapped in the coverage gap. 77,000 people who have no choice but to go without insurance and medical care, all because Brownback refuses to touch Obamacare with a 10-foot pole, either because of his raging ODS or because he and his fellow red state governors prefer to sabotage the law or both.

By the way, Medicaid expansion in Kansas is supported by 59 percent… of Republicans. Republicans! It’s supported by 72 percent of all voters.

In Georgia, there are around 400,000 residents in the gap, and no sign that Gov. Nathan Deal will participate in the expansion in spite of the fact that 54 percent of Georgians support it. 400,000 is a lot of people, and they’re being denied insurance in order for Deal to prove his quality to the extreme flank of his party.

In fact, Brownback and Deal are so maniacal about blocking the very popular expansion of Medicaid, they’re each lining up to sign recently passed legislation that would block future Democratic governors from expanding Medicaid without the approval of the solidly GOP state legislatures in each state.

In other words, GOP lawmakers have taken steps to guarantee that many of their poorest residents will remain uninsured under the health care reform law, no matter what happens in the gubernatorial election.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) both oppose Medicaid expansion. They both look likely — if not quite certain — to win re-election in November. That should make the bills passed by their respective state lawmakers unnecessary, but they seem intent on guarding against even the remote possibility of a Democratic governor.

Actually, the possibility of Democratic victories aren’t as remote as Talking Points Memo reported. Polls in both races are neck-and-neck, with PPP showing a slight advantage for the Democratic challengers to Brownback and Deal, Paul Davis in Kansas and state senator Jason Carter (grandson of former President Carter) in Georgia. And there it is: a possible explanation for the laws.

This is how far they’re reaching to stymie evil, evil Obamacare. Not only are they refusing to create state-run exchanges, oddly ceding state power to the federal government, but they’re refusing to allow the expansion of Medicaid, even though they don’t have to spend a penny to do it — worse, they’re passing laws that will prevent others from doing it, too. It’s yet another way to sabotage the law in a long list of plots to undermine it.

So, what are the consequences?

On Wednesday, the Orlando Weekly published the explosive and infuriating story of Charlene Dill, a struggling, 32-year-old mother of three who collapsed and died on a stranger’s floor late last month. According to Weekly reporter Billy Manes, Dill suffered from a treatable heart condition. She also fell into what policy experts call the Medicaid coverage gap–a hole the Supreme Court punctured in the health safety net when seven of its justices rendered the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion entirely voluntary.

We have no choice but to call this what it is: death by Obama Derangement Syndrome.

 

By: Bob Cesca, Managing Editor for The Daily Banter; Published in The Huffington Post, April 28, 2014

May 1, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Medicaid Expansion, Obamacare | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Cliven Bundy And The Entitlement Of The Privileged”: What He Learned From The Koch Brothers

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s 15 minutes of fame are up. He was a Fox News poster boy when he refused to pay fees for grazing his cows on federal land and greeted federal rangers with the threat of armed resistance. But when he voiced his views on the joys of slavery for “the Negro,” his conservative champions fled from his side.

What is interesting about Bundy, however, is not his tired racism but rather his remarkable sense of entitlement. His cattle have fed off public lands for two decades while he refused to pay grazing fees that are much lower than those he would have to pay for private land (and lower even than the government’s costs). “I’ll be damned if this is the property of the United States,” he says, claiming he won’t do business with the federal government because the Constitution doesn’t prohibit Americans from using federal lands.

As we’ve seen in recent years, this sense of entitlement pervades the privileged. Billionaire hedge fund operator Stephen Schwarzman feels so entitled to his obscene hedge fund tax dodge – the “carried interest” exemption – that he viewed Obama’s call to close the loophole as “a war. It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” Tom Perkins, co-founder of venture capital fund Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, considers mere criticism of the wealthiest Americans akin to the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany.

When Republican Dave Camp, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, had the temerity to propose a surcharge on the biggest financial houses (those with $500 billion in assets or more), to correct for the subsidy and competitive advantage provided by being “too big to fail,” Wall Street went ballistic. Republicans were told the spigot of political fundraisers would be closed until they recanted their heresy. “We’re going to beat this like a rented mule,” boasted Cam Fine, head of the Independent Community Bankers of America.

Big Oil feels so entitled to its multibillion-dollar annual subsidies, that Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, even denies their existence: “The oil and gas industry gets no subsidies, zero, nothing.” The more than $4 billion that the most profitable companies in the history of the world receive annually from U.S. taxpayers are apparently entitlements, not subsidies.

No one exemplifies this sense of entitlement more than the billionaire Koch brothers, self-proclaimed libertarians who pour hundreds of millions of dollars into supporting think tanks, lobbies and candidates who will protect their right to pollute our air and water while leaving taxpayers to pay billions of dollars to repair damage done. Owners of companies that have serially violated environmental, health and safety laws, the Koch brothers have played a major role in propogating the views adopted by rancher Bundy.

Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president, infamously denounced the 47 percent as “takers,” even while revealing that he paid a low 14.1 percent income tax rate. As Bundy dramatized, the real “takers” aren’t the poor and the vulnerable. Indeed, worse-off Americans are so disabused of any sense of entitlement that millions don’t jump the hurdles needed to receive the benefits for which they are eligible.

No, the real “takers” with a stunning sense of entitlement are the biggest corporations and banks, the richest Americans. They view their tax dodges as an inherent right, their inherited estates as a birthright. They treat the public commons as a resource that they should be free to plunder and regard any regulations that would protect those resources as an infringement on their liberty. Corporations are now arguing in court that that the First Amendment gives them the right to evade the law.

But, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) noted in her speech to the Democratic National Convention in 2012, the entitlements of the elite are increasingly under question:

“People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: They’re right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs — the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs — still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors and acting like we should thank them. Anyone here have a problem with that? Well, I do.”

And, as polls show, so do the vast majority of Americans. Just as Bundy discovered his casual racism was unacceptable, he will learn that his privileged sense of entitlement earns similar scorn.

 

By: Katrina vanden Heuvel, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 29, 2014

May 1, 2014 Posted by | Cliven Bundy, Koch Brothers, Wealthy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Rick Scott Gets An Earful In Florida”: Talking To Regular People Who Don’t Have A Script To Follow Could End Your Career

There’s a reason so many politicians embrace carefully managed, pre-scripted events: they never know what actual people are going to say. The spontaneity may be refreshing for the rest of us, but for politicians and their aides, it’s frustrating when the public goes “off-message.”

Almost exactly two years ago, this happened to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in Pennsylvania, when aides arranged for the candidate to chat with a group of regular folks about the economy. One voter said, “None of us like to pay more taxes, but sometimes that’s necessary.” Another added, “It’s a necessary evil.” “Right, right,” a third person said as the group nodded.

The Republican presidential hopeful didn’t do too many unscripted events after that.

This week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) ran into similar trouble. The Republican governor, facing a tough re-election fight, is heavily invested in condemning the Affordable Care Act, so he visited a South Florida senior center for a roundtable chat with retirees he assumed would agree with him.

Oops.

The 20 seniors assembled for a roundtable with Scott at the Volen Center were largely content with their Medicare coverage and didn’t have negative stories to recount. And some praised Obamacare – a program that Scott frequently criticizes.

“I’m completely satisfied,” Harvey Eisen, 92, a West Boca resident, told Scott.

Eisen told the governor he wasn’t sure “if, as you say,” there are Obamacare-inspired cuts to Medicare. But even if there are, that would be OK. “I can’t expect that me as a senior citizen are going to get preferential treatment when other programs are also being cut.”

Ruthlyn Rubin, 66, of Boca Raton, told the governor that people who are too young for Medicare need the health coverage they get from Obamacare. If young people don’t have insurance, she said, everyone else ends up paying for their care when they get sick or injured and end up in the hospital.

Twisting the knife, Rubin added, “People were appalled at Social Security.  They were appalled at Medicare when it came out. I think these major changes take some people aback. But I think we have to be careful not to just rely on the fact that we’re seniors and have an entitlement to certain things…. We’re all just sitting here taking it for granted that because we have Medicare we don’t want to lose one part of it. That’s wrong to me. I think we have to spread it around. This is the United States of America. It’s not the United States of senior citizens.”

The underlying point of Scott’s visit was to try to complain about Medicare Advantage reforms and how awful recent “cuts” must be for seniors. But when the governor asked one elderly woman if she’d seen any changes, she said, “Not really.” Another member of the roundtable said he’s “very happy” with the current coverage. A third person said he’s had “no problems.” A fourth said she and her husband are “very pleased.”

When Scott asked if they’ve found doctors opting out of Medicare, most said, “No.”

It was at this point that the governor probably decided he no longer wants to talk to regular people who don’t have a script to follow.

For the record, as Scott probably knows, these so-called “cuts” to Medicare Advantage aren’t really cuts to beneficiaries. At issue are Medicare cost-savings embraced by the Obama administration through the Affordable Care Act. The so-called “cuts” are changes to the way in which the government reimburses insurance companies, which have been overpaid in the Medicare Advantage program.

What’s more, congressional Republicans – not exactly a moderate bunch – have already endorsed and voted for these “cuts.”

It’s likely the governor understands this, but hopes to fool voters. If yesterday was any indication, his efforts aren’t going well.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 30, 2014

May 1, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, Rick Scott | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“So Much Stupid”: On Race, Meet Dumb And Dumberer

Oh, my Lord, where to begin?

You already know what this column is about. You know even though we are barely three sentences in. You knew before you saw the headline.

There are days in the opinion business when one story makes itself inevitable and unavoidable, one story sucks up all the air in the room. This is one of those times. One story.

Well … two, actually: the misadventures of Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling.

Bundy, of course, is the Nevada rancher whose refusal to pay fees to allow his cattle to graze on public land made him a cause célèbre on the political right. They enthusiastically embraced his government-is-the-enemy ideology (Timothy McVeigh would be proud) and militia types flocked to his side, eager for an armed standoff.

Until the press conference where Bundy relieved himself of a few opinions regarding — ahem — “the Negro.”

“They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?”

And again: Where to begin? Black people “put” their sons in jail? Slavery promoted family life? And beg pardon, but what is free usage of federal land if not a government subsidy? There is so much stupid packed into those words you’d need a chisel to get it all out.

Small wonder that last week the extreme right treated its hero as the rats treated Titanic, shocked — simply shocked! — to learn that a guy who leads an army in refusing to recognize the existence of the federal government might be nuts.

Which brings us to Sterling, owner of the NBA team the Los Angeles Clippers. A leaked audiotape has Sterling telling a woman friend to stop publicizing her relationships with African-American people and bringing them to his games. Sterling also says of Clippers players: “I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars and houses. Who gives it to them?”

“Give.” Mind you, the man is talking about people who work for him.

So there you have it: frick and frack, the dumb and dumberer of American racial discourse, and predictably, dutifully, media figures, pundits and pols have come together to blow raspberries in their direction, to say all the right things in condemnation of them and their diarrhetic mouths. And yes, they deserve that. Still, there is something facile and dishonest in it, something that reeks of unearned righteousness and even moral cowardice.

The truth is, the idiocy of these men doesn’t mean a whole lot, doesn’t impact much beyond their immediate lives. We hyperventilate about it, yet somehow manage not to be overly concerned as black boys are funneled into prison, brown ones are required to show their papers, voting rights are interdicted, Fourth Amendment rights are abrogated and some guy has his job application round-filed when the hiring woman sees that his name is Malik.

We keep declaring our country cured of its birth defect of racial hatred. Indeed, that’s an article of faith on the political right.

It is only possible to think that so long as you don’t look too closely, so long as you are willing to ignore dirty deeds done largely out of sight and back of mind by collective hands — everyone guilty, so no one is. Then some guys who didn’t get the memo speak a little too stupidly a little too loudly and people condemn them and feel good about themselves for doing so.

But many of us don’t really understand what they purport to condemn. Otherwise, how could there be all this noise about that which doesn’t matter — and silence about that which does?

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist, The Miami Herald; The National Memo, April 30, 2014

May 1, 2014 Posted by | Cliven Bundy, Donald Sterling, Racism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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