During a question and answer session at the meeting, [11-year old Josie] Molina stepped up to the microphone and, with a quavering voice, asked, “Mr. DesJarlais, I have papers, but I have a dad who’s undocumented. What can I do to have him stay with me?”
Rather than make any attempt to assuage the girl’s fears, Desjarlais said, “Thank you for being here and thank you for coming forward and speaking,” but “the answer still kind of remains the same, that we have laws and we need to follow those laws and that’s where we’re at.”
It is interesting to watch the GOP continue to cater to a voting base that is quickly becoming obsolete. Hispanic voters are the fastest growing voting bloc in America. You cannot tell an 11-year old Hispanic girl that you intend to deport her father because “laws are laws” in 2013. It is a losing political strategy.
The idea that Mr. DesJarlais must deport an 11-year old girl’s father because “laws are laws” is a dodge, of course. The GOP-led House has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act 40 times. One of the functions of a legislator is to work to change laws that their constituents (the majority of them, at least) feel are unjust. Why this applies to healthcare legislation but not to immigration policy is apparently a mystery.
"The Tea Party effect reduced the power of moderate voices within the GOP, which reinforced the base, but alienated conservatives who prefer national leaders who don’t moonlight as preachers. Tea Party activists flew Gadsden flags as they opposed gay marriage, restricted birth control, promoted a militaristic foreign policy, and disregarded civil liberties and privacy protections, and remained embarrassingly ignorant of the irony."
I’d add that many so-called tea-partiers also oppose cuts to social security and medicare. affirming John Stewart’s criticism of modern Conservative ideology as one which opposes government entitlement spending unless it is one which they are likely to benefit from personally.
In my experience, this was one of the more interesting episodes of Real Time with Bill Maher.
LTMC: I partially disagree with Maher here. He’s right that Reagan was in many ways the progenitor of the craven political culture that defines the modern Republican party, but I also think that Reagan did things during his presidency that would get him excommunicated from the modern Republican party.
For example, remember the 47% line? The idea that 47% of Americans have no tax liability, and that’s a problem? That’s actually something Reagan is responsible for. Here’s what the Joint Committee on Taxation said about the Tax Reform Act of 1986:
An overriding goal of the Committee is to relieve families with the lowest incomes from Federal income tax liability. Consequently, the Bill increases the amounts of both the personal exemption and the standard deduction…so that the income level at which individuals begin to have tax liability will be raised sufficiently to free millions of poverty-level individual from Federal income tax liability.
When I sign this bill, America will have the lowest marginal tax rates, and the most modern tax code among major industrialized nations…in our lifetime, we’ve seen marginal tax rates skyrocket as high as 90%, and not even the poor have been spared…taxation [has fallen] most cruelly on the poor, making a difficult climb up from poverty even harder…millions of working poor will be dropped from the tax rolls altogether, and families will get a long overdue break with lower rates and an almost doubled personal exemption…i’m certain the bill i’m signing today is not only an historic overhaul of our tax code…but the best anti-poverty bill…ever to come out of the Congress of the United States.
Reagan wanted the poor to pay no federal taxes. Yes, his tax policies did help widen the income gap between rich and poor, but the guy also thought that the poor shouldn’t have to pay income taxes. Today, that’s generally viewed as a “liberal” position, and he would get nowhere in a modern Republican primary with that view.
Here’s a decent summary of the rest of Reagan’s sins:
[I]n 1982 Ronald Reagan was willing to sign what was then the largest tax increase in American history (TEFRA) because he believed he’d get three dollars in cuts for one dollar in tax increase. Reagan came to regret his tax increase — but not because the ratio was wrong but because Democrats never delivered on the spending cuts. If Reagan had gotten the cuts he asked for — and the York/Baier question pre-supposes the spending cuts would be real – he would have taken that deal. Are Republicans in 2011 saying that a deal that would be far better than one Reagan expected and agreed to is simply beyond the pale? If so — if taxes cannot be raised under any circumstance — then we have veered from economic policy to religious catechism[.]
Maher’s right that Reagan was “patient zero” for a lot of the terrible politics that define modern American Conservatism. I’m definitely not a fan of Reagan, and am in no hurry to excuse him for the terrible policy choices he’s made. Maher is wrong, however, that Reagan would have a comfortable place in the Republican party today. He was much more open to compromise than many of his successors, despite his less savory aspects (and when I say unsavory, I mean downright atrocious).
Seriously, conservatives need to wake up and realize that Benghazi just isn’t the scandal they so desperately want it to be. …[E]ven if there was some remote possibility that conservatives could have stoked outrage in moderates and independents over Benghazi, that ship has long since sailed and sunk. The only thing that could make Benghazi more useless as national election fodder would be if Republicans were caught falsifying the contents of easily verifiable administration emails in order to score conservative media ratings.
Oh wait, that’s exactly what they did do. Last week. With great fanfare. When they had two actual scandals the public would have cared about.
Tod Kelly, whose post is worth reading in full. He points out that the GOP was handed two scandals by a Democratic administration, and completely squandered the political capital gained therefrom by continuing to devote political resources to shine a light on Benghazi.
From a purely political perspective, the GOP has done a terrible job of “managing” these scandals. To wit, they’ve consistently undermined their own credibility by saying things about the scandals that have no basis in fact:
This weekend Rand Paul went on CNN and claimed that the IRS actually has a written policy instructing its employees to target “people opposed to the President.” That’s a pretty damning accusation to make, and it’s one that is sure to be brought up for countless hours on Fox news and talk radio. It might even be enough to heavily damage Obama, save one small thing: this written policy that IRS agents everywhere rely on? Apparently it’s one that Paul has not actually, you know, seen. He’s heard about it of course, (though he can’t say from who), but he just can’t get his hands on it. (Because really, how could one expect to get their hands on a written policy statement that steers a federal government department that employs around 100,000 people?)
This is the sort of thing that you need to be able to back up. The IRS scandal should have been a big win politically for the GOP, even though it’s not quite the scandal they’re claiming it is. But they’ve destroyed much of the political capital they could have gained from it by saying things that are false, or for which they have no concrete basis. ”A little bird told me” doesn’t hold water most of the time.
75prominent Republicans signed a legal brief, to be submitted to the Supreme Court this week, arguing that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. The list is light on currently-elected officials, however (though Reps. Richard Hanna of New York and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida have both signed on), featuring instead a panoply of nonetheless familiar names from the party’s less extreme wings — former governors Jon Huntsman, Bill Weld, and Christine Todd Whitman among them. source
One of the reasons that gridlock exists in Washington is that politicians vote as much for political survival as they do in accordance with the wishes of voters writ large. An excellent example of this can be seen in recent poll numbers that indicate a strong majority of Americans—over two-thirds—oppose any cuts in social spending at the federal level. Nonetheless, House Republicans have noted that social spending cuts must be a part of any budget deal to avoid Sequestration. Via shortformblog (h/t BrooklynMutt):
58%of Americans polled by The Hill said that cutting the national debt was a higher priority than maintaining current domestic and military spending levels.
28%of those polled believe that the spending levels are more important than cutting our debt, with 23 percent supporting cuts to social programs like Medicare and Social Security.
69%of pollees oppose cuts to social programs at all, which House Republicans have said must be on the table if a deal to avoid the $85 billion sequestration is to be reached before Friday. source
Some may wonder why, as a purely rational matter, the Republicans would set themselves in opposition to 6 out of every 10 voters in the country. That seems on it face to be a recipe for political suicide. Anybody who cares about the long-term viability of their party and their personal political career probably ought not to set themselves against a supermajority of the voting public, right?
The answer is relatively simple: 6 out of every 10 voters don’t constitute the voting base that actually elects many of the House Republicans into office. Even though a strong majority of Americans may oppose cuts to social spending, the 31% that don’t oppose (or that openly support) cuts to social spending are probably a majority of the voters in many of the jurisdictions that vote the House Republicans into office. Others might be one-issue voters who may, for example, oppose cuts to social spending, but also oppose abortion. So a Senior citizen who doesn’t want to see cuts to Social Security may nonetheless have voted for the Republican candidate who promised to respect the “Sanctity of Life.” The same could be said for a fair portion of the Catholic vote, wherein support for social spending and opposition to abortion often go hand-in-hand. Those voting blocs would be part of the 69% who oppose cuts to social spending, but come election time, they may very well choose the (often Republican) pro-Life candidate over the (often Democratic) candidate who promises to preserve the safety net.
And so polls that show what the “majority” of Americans want don’t necessarily have an impact on the way politicians vote, because most politicians aren’t elected by the majority of Americans. They are elected by a majority of the citizens in a small pocket of America that makes up their congressional district. Given that only the President is elected by the majority of Americans, what the latter wants is not necessarily relevant to how a politician will vote. What matters more is how the majority of citizens in their district will vote depending on which political stance they decide to take. And that is always the more important form of political math for a member of the legislature, regardless of what the national polls show at any given time.
For years, conservatives’ convictions have been trumped by the fear of being painted as soft on crime in a primary ad, he says. But now, “when the Republicans start wetting their finger and sticking it in the air, they’ve got to begin to realize that the wind is blowing in the opposite direction.”
"[T]he Republican Party once had a liberal (i.e., left) faction. No more. In 1996, arch-conservative Barry Goldwater reportedly wondered in amazement that he and presidential candidate Bob Dole were by then on the left of the Republican party. Goldwater died in 1998; both parties have since moved much farther to the right. Today, Goldwater would be considered left even for a Democrat."
Goldwater was also to the Right of Reagan on immigration, which also tends to muddy up the contention that Goldwater “would be considered left even for a Democrat” in today’s Washington.
I imagine that if Goldwater was alive today, he would be treated, at worst, the the same way Ron Paul was treated by the GOP establishment during the GOP’s 2012 election primaries. Ron Paul is a man whose views on foreign policy are indeed considered “left, even for a Democrat,” in the contemporary Washington political consensus. Nonetheless, Ron Paul was able to retain his position in the Republican party despite advocating for a non-interventionist foreign policy (which Goldwater did not). On this account, it seems to me that Goldwater would still be able to sit comfortably in the Republican party today, though I highly doubt he would ever be nominated by the GOP as a presidential candidate.
In the state of Washington, Republican senate candidate Ryan Baumgartner is on record supporting the state’s marijuana legalization measure:
Washington is one of three states (with Oregon and Colorado) which will have an initiative on marijuana legalization on the ballot in November, and as Reason 24/7noted its Republican Senate candidate, Michael Baumgartner, became the first state-wide candidate to endorse the measure.
Meanwhile, the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor in Washington both oppose the measure. Baumgartner, who opposes the War in Afghanistan, worked with the U.S. embassy in Iraq, and also served as a military advisor for a counter-narcotics operation in Afghanistan in 2009. It appears that the experience galvanized his opposition to both the war in Afghanistan and drug prohibition—at least when it comes to marijuana.
Unfortunately, there’s still plenty to dislike about Baumgartner, who is far from “ideal” on the matter of reproductive rights. Speaking back in August, Baumgartner defended his belief that abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape or incest, noting:
“I am still a Catholic. I still believe life begins at conception. That is consistent with my Catholic beliefs. And I believe we must protect life.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement for those that believe in a woman’s right to choose. As far as Republicans go, however, Baumgartner has at least shown a willingness to compromise (somewhat) during his time in the Washington legislature:
Concluding that he wanted a truce in the culture wars and his campaign was about jobs and ending the war in Afghanistan, he said: “The culture wars are not why I’m in the state senate or running against my opponent. I’m pragmatic. I objected to the expansion of abortion services, but I voted for two budgets that funded [family planning] services.”
Still, this statement doesn’t really make me trust that Baumgartner would actually observe a legislative “truce” on abortion if elected in Washington. What he’s doing here is dodging questions about his abortion policies, which have very real consequences for women at home. It is silly to ask us to believe that he wouldn’t support an abortion ban if it came on his desk.
For Pro-choice Liberals and Libertarians who oppose the War on Drugs & the War in Afghanistan, Baumgartner represents a slightly well-cushioned rock positioned neatly across from the proverbial GOP hard place. There’s no question that ending the war in Afghanistan and legalizing marijuana will stop the senseless deaths of many domestic drug war victims, american soldiers, and Afghan civilians abroad. Yet an outright ban on abortion will result in the deaths of many American women. Baumgartner no doubt sees it differently: Pro-life advocates have consistently shown the ability to downplay the connection between abortion access and female mortality rates. In doing so, Pro-life advocates have demonstrated that they do think that an unborn child’s life is more important than the life of the mother. As Lynn Paltrow noted recently in the context of “Personhood” Amendments, “There’s no way to give embryos constitutional personhood without subtracting women from the community of constitutional persons[.]” In terms of moral calculus, Baumgartner’s ideal abortion policy weighs heavily against his anti-war, pro-legalization stances when we consider the life and welfare of American women.
I know that it’s common knowledge that Mitt Romney has held virtually every position there is to hold on every major political issue of the modern age, but sometimes it really is mindblowing to see his own words lined up side-by-side. Quite frankly, this stuff borders on performance art.
From a guest post by Mark Esposito at Turley’s blog, Here is Mitt Romney in 1994, while running for office in Massachussetts:
One of the great things about our nation … is that we’re each entitled to have strong personal beliefs, and we encourage other people to do the same. But as a nation, we recognize the right of all people to believe as they want and not to impose our beliefs on other people. I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it, and I sustain and support that law, and the right of a woman to make that choice, and my personal beliefs, like the personal beliefs of other people, should not be brought into a political campaign.
Here’s Mitt Romeny in 2005:
I am pro-life.I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view. But while the nation remains so divided over abortion, I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.
This is self-parody. The bolded statements in these two paragraphs, existing simultaneously, as indeed they do, are something I would expect to read in a satirical post at Something Awful. These two statements literally say the exact opposite thing compared to one another. I mean, comparisons like this make it obvious that this man’s entire political career is a script-reading exercise, with occasional detours for the purpose of placing his index finger in his mouth, moistening the tip, and plunging it into the air so he can feel which way the political winds are blowing, and adjust his political compass accordingly.
I’m sure that Mitt Romney will find a way to surprise me even more as the 2012 election nears. Maybe he’ll reveal that he has a third nipple. Or that he once made love to a grizzly bear. Or that he’ll release his tax returns. Or that he is actually Barack Obama in disguise, and the man we’ve seen in the White House for the past year is an impersonator. Any of these things have the potential to shock and amaze, really. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.*
*Personally I’m pulling for Grizzly bear. But that’s just me.