mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Perry Gets Winnowed”: He Had No Distinct Identity In A Huge Field Dominated By People Who Were Going Medieval

The “winnowing” of the vast GOP presidential field proceeded apace this weekend, with Rick Perry “suspending” his campaign. Officially, that means there are 16 “real” candidates left. Unofficially, CNN excluded Jim Gilmore from even its Kiddie Table debate this week, so there are a mere 15 left.

Perry’s withdrawal has been widely predicted since he stopped paying his campaign staff last month. Even as Team Perry argued that his Super-PAC was flush and the not-paying-campaign- people thing was an accounting problem, he lost his prize Iowa backer Sam Clovis, and in general began to emit the aroma of political death. The rest has been denouement.

The thing is: Perry was running a significantly deeper campaign than he did in 2012, when he alternated between pointing at Texas’ jobs numbers as a self-validating argument for a give-corporations-everything-they-want “economic development strategy,” and raging right-wing gestures aimed at everybody in the GOP who wanted to go medieval on the godless liberals.

This time around Perry impressed even me by making a speech reminding Republicans they were the party of the Fourteenth Amendment. It didn’t catch on. Nor did his regular reminders that he was (along with Lindsey Graham) the rare candidate in a field of war-mongerers who had actually worn a uniform. The CW will suggest that Perry never overcame his 2012 missteps. I’d say he had no distinct identity in a huge field dominated by people who were going medieval just as he was trying to move along to the Renaissance.

His withdrawal rebuts the idea that anybody with a Super-PAC can stay in the race right up until the convention, and will provide an interesting test of what happens to leftover Super-PAC money, as the New York Times‘ Jonathan Martin notes:

The super PACs backing Mr. Perry, collectively known as Freedom and Opportunity, had a raised more than $17 million as of earlier this summer, mostly from a handful of wealthy Texas families, dwarfing the amount raised by his campaign, which was limited by law to raising only $2,700 from each donor. Mr. Perry’s advisers were uncertain what would happen with the super PAC money, but noted that much of it came from a pair of Dallas executives, Kelcy Warren and Darwin Deason, and that they would be consulted.

Presumably, since Super-PACs are supposed to be “independent,” this one can do any damn thing it wants, other than covering the back pay Perry staffers are owed. They, of course, will be scrambling for a new gig, and despite this tiny “winnowing,” it remains a seller’s market for GOP political talent.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 14, 2015

September 14, 2015 Posted by | GOP Campaign Donors, GOP Presidential Candidates, Rick Perry | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“We Now Have A Low-Information Candidate”: Hey, Trump; America’s Great Right Now, Buddy

The United States “is a hellhole” that “is going down fast.” America “is in big trouble” and “never has victories anymore.” In fact, the United States is a “laughingstock all over the world.”

Who do you think made these comments over the last few months?  A. Vladimir Putin; B. An ISIS recruiter; or C. Donald Trump?

It’s actually a tough question to answer accurately. I know for sure that Trump made those remarks but it’s also possible that words to those effect were uttered by Putin or ISIS’s head honcho Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or even Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (The last two of these people we recently learned Trump wasn’t familiar with. We have all heard of low-information voters, we now have a low-information candidate.)

But we do know Trump has made the above statements and more. He even suggested at a recent event that we are now a nation of losers because we haven’t had victories in years, and he’s no longer proud of America.

Why would Trump badmouth America? Simple, because he’s trying to make the case that America is a disaster and he’s the only one who can “make America great again.” (In Trump’s defense, he does know a thing or two about debacles, given the failures of his Trump vodka, Trump airline, and Trump University, to name just a few of his failed ventures.)

When I hear Trump crapping on America, two thoughts come to mind. First, he’s unequivocally wrong. America is still great today. And second, if a Democratic presidential candidate said the same stuff, the GOP would be labeling that candidate as person who hates America, doesn’t view America as exceptional, or worse.

Look, America can always be better. In fact, President Obama offered this exact sentiment a few months ago with his remarks that our nation is “chronically dissatisfied with itself, because embedded in our DNA is this striving, aspirational quality to be even better.” But the United States is still an exceptional nation, something I have yet to hear Trump acknowledge.

The real question is, how do you measure greatness? In Trump’s case it appears it’s based on if he or others are making more money or if our airports are nicer than the beautiful ones in Dubai and Qatar that he has been bragging are far superior to our own.

But that’s not how I measure it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to see middle-class wages grow, but that’s not why people risk their lives to immigrate to our nation. It’s not why my Palestinian father moved to the United States even though he had no family here, or why my Sicilian grandparents sailed halfway across the world.

It was for the promise that continues today of living in nation where there’s not just economic opportunity, but also a place where you can raise a family without fear of warlords, or a risk of a sudden, massive refugee crisis, or the lack of safe drinking water, or being dragged off by a dictator’s henchmen to be tortured or killed for their political views. It’s the promise of a nation where we can passionately disagree on issues with the understanding that it will be ballots, not bullets that will decide the outcome.  It’s the promise that all men and women are created equal and are guaranteed the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

I don’t think for a second Trump appreciates that aspect of America’s greatness. And that’s what makes him vastly different from his alleged political idol, Ronald Reagan.

In 1980, Reagan’s campaign slogan, which Trump has co-opted less one word, was “Let’s Make America Great Again.” At the time, Reagan ran against President Jimmy Carter when the U.S. economy was a mess with high unemployment (over 7 percent) and even higher inflation (13.5 percent). Plus, the Iran hostage crisis was weighing on the American psyche.

But Reagan didn’t broadly piss on America like Trump. Instead he provided detailed criticism of Carter’s policies and then offered words to inspire, such as, “the American spirit is still there, ready to blaze into life…the time is now, my fellow Americans, to recapture our destiny.” That’s a far cry from Trump’s  “America is a hellhole, laughingstock that’s going down fast.”

I’m sure some on the right likely cheer Trump’s ridiculing of America because they view his words as an attack on Obama’s policies. However, even Marco Rubio recently called out Trump for his dumping on our nation: “I would remind everyone America is great. There’s no nation on Earth I would trade places with.” And Rubio is not alone in this sentiment. A recent poll found that 84 percent of Americans agreed they would rather live here than any other country.

Trump obviously can choose any words he wants to wage his campaign. But there’s zero doubt that if a Democratic candidate were employing the same rhetoric, many on the right would crucify that person.

Look at what we saw earlier this year when Rudy Giuliani said of Obama, “I do not believe that the president loves America.”  Why did he make that outrageous charge? Well, Giuliani explained, because Obama “criticizes America” so much that he sounds more “like he’s more of a critic than he is a supporter.” Then what does he make of Trump’s daily America bashing?

Even Michelle Obama was attacked during the 2008 presidential race when she said, “for the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country, because it feels like hope is making a comeback.” Mrs. Obama came under immediate assault from the right for inferring she had not previously been proud of America. Of course, not a peep about Trump no longer being proud of our nation from conservatives.

Trump’s strategy of “America sucks” may end up helping him capture the White House. But even if it does, I still won’t believe that Trump truly grasps what makes America great.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, September 9, 2015

September 14, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, United States of America | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Shutdown Politics Divides GOP”: No Real Precedent For A Party Being Responsible For Two Government Shutdowns Over 24 Months

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is ready for an ugly showdown that may very well shut down the federal government at the end of the month, as are dozens of House Republicans. Meanwhile, GOP leaders in both chambers are pushing as hard as they can in the opposite direction.

But no one in Republican politics is more resistant to this strategy than vulnerable GOP incumbents worried about their re-election bids next year. Politico reported this week on one of these lawmakers:

In an interview, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said it’s “obvious” Cruz is only making this his latest cause to boost his visibility in a presidential campaign. And Ayotte, who withdrew her name from Lee’s 2013 letter on Obamacare, said she will “absolutely not” sign onto Cruz’s latest missive.

“There are not enough votes to even get (to) 60 in the Senate. But even if you could get by that (hurdle), the president is going to veto it and we certainly don’t have 67 votes,” Ayotte said. “So I guess I would ask: What’s the strategy for success?”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), another blue-state Republican incumbent facing a tough race next year, is also reportedly urging his colleagues to avoid a shutdown at all costs – for his sake, if not theirs.

All of which raises the question: are Ayotte and Johnson correct? Would another government shutdown hurt them and their party?

Reader B.G. emailed me last night to suggest the nervous senators’ concerns are misplaced. I’m reprinting the reader’s note with permission: “The GOP paid no political price in the 2014 election for shutting down the government in 2013. As much as I loathe Cruz, it is not irrational for him to think that shutting down the government will be a cost-free endeavor (from a GOP political perspective). I am sure he is betting, and not without evidence, that any government shutdown will be long forgotten by the time the 2016 election rolls around.”

After House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told Fox News this morning that “the American people will punish you if you are just playing politics or making a point that can’t be achieved,” reader B.G. added in a follow-up email, “Well, no, not based on recent history…. In fact, if I were Ted Cruz, I would be making the point publicly that the 2013 shutdown worked. ‘Look, we did it, and the American people rewarded us.’”

As a practical matter, Cruz and his allies are doing exactly that. For all the hand-wringing among Republican leaders, the Texas senator and his allies routinely make the argument on Capitol Hill that the hype is wrong and the risk of an electoral backlash from shutdowns is vastly overstated. These are, Cruz & Co. insist, consequence-free gambits.

To which I say, maybe.

First, it’s worth remembering that there are qualitative differences between midterm cycles and presidential election years. In the latter, more people, especially Democrats, actually bother to show up. There’s no denying the fact that Republicans had a great year in 2014, despite shutting down the government in 2013, but the national electorate will look far different – larger, more diverse, etc. – in 2016.

Second, for some of these vulnerable incumbents, the national landscape isn’t nearly as relevant as the prevailing political winds in their own home states. And in a state like Wisconsin, where Johnson is an underdog anyway, there’s simply no upside to having the public get angry with his party all over again.

Third, don’t discount the possibility of a cumulative effect. Republicans faced no discernible punishment for the last shutdown, but there’s no real precedent for a party being responsible for two shutdowns over the course of 24 months, and it’s no surprise that GOP leaders don’t see value in pushing their luck.

Finally, there’s the broader context of the 2016 cycle to consider: Republicans are going to ask the American mainstream to give the GOP power over the House, the Senate, and the White House, simultaneously, for the first time in a decade. Democrats will respond that an unhinged, radicalized Republican Party with a right-wing agenda hasn’t earned, and cannot be trusted with, that much power over the federal government.
Will another shutdown make the Democrats’ argument easier or harder next year?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 11, 2015

September 14, 2015 Posted by | Government Shut Down, House Republicans, Ted Cruz | , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Rerun Of What His Brother Tried”: Jeb Bush’s Tax Plan Shows Republicans Can’t Learn From Economic History

Jeb Bush released the first details of his tax plan today in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, so we finally learn the secret that will produce spectacular growth, great jobs for all who want them, and a new dawn of prosperity and happiness for all Americans. Are you ready?

It’s…tax cuts for the wealthy! If only we had known that this amazingly powerful tool was available to us all along!

To be fair, not everything in Bush’s tax plan is targeted at the rich — there are some goodies in there for other people as well. But it’s pretty clear that in addition to wanting to revive the Bush Doctrine in foreign affairs, Jeb is looking to his brother’s tax policies as a model for how we can make the economy hum, I suppose because they worked so well the first time.

While many of the details are still vague, here are the basics of what Bush wants to do. He would reduce the number of tax brackets from its current seven down to three, of 10 percent, 25 percent, and 28 percent. This would represent a huge tax cut for people at the top, who currently pay a marginal rate of 39.6 percent. He also wants to eliminate the inheritance tax and the alternative minimum tax (both paid almost entirely by wealthy people), and slash corporate taxes. On the other end, he’d raise the standard deduction and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps the working poor. He would also eliminate the carried interest loophole, which allows hedge fund managers to pay lower rates on their income.

“We will treat all noninvestment income the same,” he says, which is a reminder that investment income, which is mostly gained by wealthy people, would still be treated more favorably than wage income, which is what working people make.

As Dylan Matthews notes, Bush’s plan is something of a compromise between the supply-siders and flat-taxers who think that cutting taxes on the wealthy is literally the only thing necessary to spur the economy, and the “reform conservatives” who would give the wealthy some breaks but put more of their effort toward changes affecting the middle class. But the biggest problem with Bush’s plan may not so much the particulars, but the fact that he believes that making these changes will “unleash” the American economy.

We’ve had this debate again and again in recent years, and every time, events in the real world prove Republicans wrong, yet they never seem to change their tune. When Bill Clinton’s first budget passed in 1993 and raised taxes on the wealthy, Republicans said it would cause a “job-killing recession”; what ensued was a rather extraordinary economic boom and the first budget surpluses in decades. When George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001 and 2003, primarily for the wealthy, they said that not only would the economy rocket forward into hyperspace, but there would be little or no increase in the deficit because of all that increased economic activity. What actually happened was anemic growth and dramatically increased deficits, culminating in the economic catastrophe of 2008. When Barack Obama raised taxes, Republicans said the economy would grind to a halt; instead we’ve seen sustained job creation (despite weak income gains).

The lesson of all this, to any sane person, is that changing tax rates, particularly the top marginal income tax rate, has little or no effect on the economy. Yet Jeb Bush wants us to believe that his plan will produce sustained growth of 4 percent or more — something no president since Lyndon Johnson has managed — with what is essentially a rerun of what his brother tried.

He’s hardly alone in this belief. Indeed, with the bizarre exception of Donald Trump, all the Republican candidates put tax cuts that would benefit the wealthy at the center of the their ideas for helping the American economy. So why can’t they learn from history?

The answer is that for conservatives, cutting taxes on the wealthy is less a practical instrument to produce a healthy economy than it is a moral imperative. When they talk passionately about the crushing burden taxation imposes on the “job creators,” those noble and virtuous Americans whose hard work and initiative (even when it comes in the form of waiting for their monthly dividend checks) provide the engine that moves the nation forward, you can tell they believe it deep in their hearts. If cutting the top marginal rate hasn’t delivered us to economic nirvana before, well they’re sure it will eventually. And even if it doesn’t, it’s still the right thing to do.

There are some cases where partisans will alter their philosophical beliefs in response to real-world evidence; for instance, right now, many Republicans are reexamining what they used to think about criminal justice and the utility of get-tough policies. But taxes occupy a singular place in the conservative philosophical hierarchy, so much so that many elected Republicans literally take an oath swearing never to raise them for any reason. Fourteen of the seventeen Republican presidential candidates have sworn that oath (though Bush is one of the three who hasn’t).

After all that has happened in the last couple of decades, it’s clear that there is literally no conceivable economic event or development that would dent the Republican conviction that cutting taxes for the wealthy is, if not the only thing that can help the economy, the sine qua non of economic revival. Maybe it’s too much to expect them to learn from history.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, September 9, 2015

September 14, 2015 Posted by | Economic Growth, Economic Policy, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Cheapening The Legacy Of 9/11 On 9/11”: Grossly Inappropriate Joy Over Hatred And Destruction

I try not to dip my brain too much into the toxic waste of anti-Islamic bigotry. But occasionally its purveyors profane the very memories they claim inspire them, as in this nasty piece of work from Carol Brown of The American Thinker, who manages to cheapen the legacy of 9/11 on 9/11:

It is now official. On Thursday the Senate let the Iran deal go through – a deal that will forever change the landscape of the world in terrifying and unthinkable ways. I need not enumerate how this collaboration with Iran (and it is a collaboration) will affect Israel, the Middle East, the United States, and indeed the entire world.

Readers know all too well.

And yet, you’d hardly know how our fate was sealed on Thursday. America’s alignment with the Nazis of the 21st century hardly made a dent in media coverage. Headlines appeared as they do on any other day.

Imagine that.

[O]n Thursday, after Republican leaders spent months colluding with the Democrats, the Washington cartel ensured that our children and grandchildren will live in a world with a nuclear Iran.

In between profound sorrow, incredible dread, and blind rage, I find myself asking: Why?

Perhaps many elected officials don’t care about America, their oath of office, or our children. Apparently their allegiance to party and power trump concern for even their own children.

If reading this annoys you, be glad I left out the long, long quote from Mark Levin. But here’s the coda:

And so we now not only have a 9/11, but a 9/10 – when our leaders sold us down the river. Yet again. But this time the stakes are as high as they get.

People like Brown and Levin want, welcome, demand constant global war with Islam, and will accept nothing less (Brown has been singled out by the Anti-Defamation League for her “ugly rhetoric” about Musims). They should stay the hell away from the memorials to 9/11, since their joy over hatred and destruction is grossly inappropriate to the commemoration of innocents and those who died to in an effort to save them.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 11, 2015

September 14, 2015 Posted by | 911, Conservatives, Iran Nuclear Agreement | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: