Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Last Call For Turtled Up

When I said last week that Sen. Mitch McConnell was serious about shutting down the government if the GOP takes over the Senate in January, I really meant Mitch McConnell is going to shut down the government if the GOP takes over the Senate in January.  Lauren Windsor at The Nation:

Last week, in an interview with Politico, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) outlined his plan to shut down President Obama’s legislative agenda by placing riders on appropriations bills. Should Republicans take control of the Senate in the 2014 elections, McConnell intends to pass spending bills that “have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy.” 
What McConnell didn’t tell Politico was that two months ago, he made the same promise to a secret strategy conference of conservative millionaire and billionaire donors hosted by the Koch brothers. The Nation and The Undercurrent obtained an audio recording of McConnell’s remarks to the gathering, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society.” In the question-and-answer period following his June 15 session entitled “Free Speech: Defending First Amendment Rights,” McConnell says: 
So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what's called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We're going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board (inaudible). All across the federal government, we're going to go after it

So yes, that's the plan.  If the GOP gains control of the Senate, they will shut the government down by defunding Obamacare, the EPA, financial regulation reform, and who knows what else.  All of that will come to a screeching halt.

If you vote for the Republican party, you will get a government of nothing.  Mitch McConnell will see to that. You know what's coming.  Let's see if we can prevent it.

A Trip Through The Elephant Graveyard

New Republic's Alec MacGillis eulogizes the career of Wisconsin GOP Rep. Tom Petri in WI-6, who is retiring and whose seat will almost certainly go to right-wing nutjob Glenn Grothman.

As an undergraduate at Harvard in the early 1960s and later in the decade, he had been a leading member of the Ripon Society, the organization founded in 1962 to advance the cause of moderate Republicanism against the rising tide of Sun Belt conservatism (it was named after the town in Wisconsin where the GOP was founded in 1854—a town that, as it happens, is in the Sixth Congressional District.) Petri belonged to the NAACP, joined the Peace Corps and engaged in a sit-in at a Woolworth’s to protest segregation at its southern stores. Petri even went on William F. Buckley’s television program, “The Firing Line,” in 1969 to spar with the pugnacious conservative. Challenged by Buckley to distinguish the Ripon Society’s program from New Deal liberalism, Petri countered, “We’ve felt that the role of government should be to enlighten self-interest in the society, to be a systems manager for the people rather than trying to do everything itself.” Petri went on assume a lower profile than Steiger had, perhaps partly because the party’s rightward shift in the 1980s and since left him increasingly isolated. He fought hard for federal funding for Wisconsin highways, water-infrastructure projects, and farmers; he got notice when he voted against President Bush’s Iraq surge; and he got less than 64 percent of the vote in his district only once in the past 16 elections, in 1992. 
But soon after Grothman announced his primary challenge earlier this year, saying Petri hadn’t done enough to fight a growing “culture of dependency” (an especially brazen move given that Grothman did not even reside in the district at the time), Petri decided it was time to retire. Finishing a very close second to Grothman in this month's primary was another state senator, Joe Leibham, while state assemblyman Duey Stroebel (great name!) came in third. Liebham and Stroebel are both well to Petri’s right, but Grothman far outflanks them all.

It's utterly impossible to imagine in 2014 any Republican in Congress being a member of the NAACP.  Petri is the last of his breed, now driven out of the party by the anti-science, anti-minority, anti-woman core of the modern GOP.  Between Petri and his predecessor, Rob Steiger, WI-6 was the home of moderate Republicanism for almost 50 years.  Now it's just another red meat red district.

How to explain that a district went from being represented for nearly five decades by Steiger and Petri to now being on the verge of Glenn Grothman? There is the nationwide shift in the party that has seen liberal Northern Republicans dwindle to an all-but extinct breed (one of the last members of the species, Jim Jeffords, left the party a decade before he died, last week.) But exacerbating that shift in Wisconsin has been a local dynamic that I described in aJune cover story about the rise of the state’s governor, Scott Walker, and that theMilwaukee Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert laid out a few weeks earlier in a striking series of articles. Over the past few decades, the suburbs of Milwaukee have developed into a conservative bastion that is far more monolithically white and Republican than the suburbs of other northern cities, a singularity that, I argued, has something to do with the unusual lag in the migration of African-Americans to Milwaukee. 
This deep-red territory is also defined by its remarkably strong local conservative-talk radio culture, with two hosts who have commanded loyal audiences for several decades now. And just as Scott Walker was adept at using those shows to build his base, Grothman was adept at using them to rise in the ranks. Back in 2005, he won a promotion from the state assembly to the state Senate by going on the shows at every chance he could to attack the incumbent Republican senator, Mary Panzer, as insufficiently conservative. Even Leibham, the second-place finisher this month, told me that he “grew up listening” to both hosts, Mark Belling and Charlie Sykes, and still catches them both every day.

It would be easy to say things along the lines of "somewhere along the way the Republican party stopped being the party of hope and became the party of abject fear and resentment" but Republicans have never been the part of anything but, at least not in my lifetime.  The last strands of human decency have been purged from the party, seemingly permanently.  Tom Petri was that last strand.

Now nothing is left but the wasteland.  And if they remain in charge, that wasteland will swallow all.

Glibertarians, Not Libertarians

A new Pew Research study shows that the term "libertarian" definitely needs to be in near-permanent quotation marks here in America, because many are anything but.

About one-in-ten Americans (11%) describe themselves as libertarian and know what the term means. Respondents were asked whether the term “libertarian” describes them well and — in a separate multiple-choice question — asked for the definition of “someone whose political views emphasize individual freedom by limiting the role of government”; 57% correctly answered the multiple-choice question, choosing “libertarian” from a list that included “progressive,” “authoritarian,” “Unitarian” and “communist.” On the self-description question 14% said they were libertarian. For the purpose of this analysis we focus on the 11% who both say they are libertarian and know the definition of the term. 
These findings come from the Pew Research Center’s political typology and polarization survey conducted earlier this year, as well as a recent survey of a subset of those respondents via the Pew Research Center’s new American Trends Panel, conducted April 29-May 27 among 3,243 adults. 
Self-described libertarians tend to be modestly more supportive of some libertarian positions, but few of them hold consistent libertarian opinions on the role of government, foreign policy and social issues. 
Men were about twice as likely as women to say the term libertarian describes them well and to know the meaning of the term (15% vs. 7%). More college graduates (15%) than those with no more than a high school education (7%) identified as libertarians. There also were partisan differences; 14% of independents and 12% of Republicans said they are libertarian, compared with 6% of Democrats. 

The easiest way to view this is substitute "libertarian" with "Ron Paul voter" and you have a really, really good idea of where and what these voters stand for.  They are for the most part boilerplate Republicans who happen to like weed and are okay with same-sex marriage.

When it comes to attitudes about the size and scope of government, people who say the term libertarian describes them well (and who are able to correctly define the term) are somewhat more likely than the public overall to say government regulation of business does more harm than good (56% vs. 47%). However, about four-in-ten libertarians say that government regulation of business is necessary to protect the public interest (41%). 
The attitudes of libertarians similarly differ from the public on government aid to the poor; they are more likely than the public to say “government aid to the poor does more harm than good by making people too dependent on government assistance” (57% vs. 48%), yet about four-in-ten (38%) say it “does more good than harm because people can’t get out of poverty until their basic needs are met.” 
Libertarianism is associated with limited government involvement in the social sphere. In this regard, self-described libertarians are somewhat more supportive of legalizing marijuana than the public overall (65% vs. 54%). 
But there are only slight differences between libertarians and the public in views of the acceptability of homosexuality. And they are about as likely as others to favor allowing the police “to stop and search anyone who fits the general description of a crime suspect” (42% of libertarians, 41% of the public). 
Similarly, self-described libertarians do not differ a great deal from the public in opinions about foreign policy. Libertarianism is generally associated with a less activist foreign policy, yet a greater share of self-described libertarians (43%) than the public (35%) think “it is best for the future of our country to be active in world affairs.” 
And in views of the tradeoff between defending against terrorism and protecting civil liberties, large majorities of both the public (74%) and self-described libertarians (82%) say “Americans shouldn’t have to give up privacy and freedom in order to be safe from terrorism.”

Hate government programs, interventionist foreign policy, don't mind cops profiling people.  That's not libertarian, that's Republican.  The poster child of this group remains Rand Paul, and he's right there with them.
None of the seven groups identified by the 2014 political typology closely resembled libertarians, and, in fact, self-described libertarians can be found in all seven. Their largest representation is among the group we call Business Conservatives; 27% of this group says the term libertarian describes them well. Business Conservatives generally support limited government, have positive views of business and the U.S. economic system, and are more moderate than other conservative groups on the issue of homosexuality. However, they are also supportive of an activist foreign policy and do not have a libertarian profile on issues of civil liberties.

Surprise!  If "Tea Party" is the new Religious Republican, then "libertarian" is the new Corporate Republican.

Don't be fooled by them.


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