Saturday, May 23, 2015

Last Call For Sons Of The South

It’s the heartland of the modern Republican Party, the most reliably red region in presidential elections. But as the 2016 GOP campaign for the White House gets underway, the South finds itself yet again without a native son in a leading role.

As party leaders gathered here for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, a traditional candidate cattle call that draws many of the party’s presidential hopefuls and attracted around 2,000 activists this year, there was no shortage of reminders about the South’s importance, both financially and electorally, to the party’s political fortunes.

Yet the three Republicans who lead the field are a governor from Wisconsin, Scott Walker, and Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush, two candidates rooted in the part of Florida that is most culturally distinct from the South — Miami.

The GOP primary is not without authentic sons of the South — South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, both born in small towns at the dawn of the civil rights era, proudly identify as such. There is also Bobby Jindal, the Baton Rouge-born Louisiana governor.

But all of them — including former Gov. Rick Perry, as a Texan not quite a Southerner but stylistically close enough to pass for one — find themselves trailing far behind in the polls, struggling to demonstrate their viability as 2016 prospects. Two other candidates with tenuous claims to the Southern candidate mantle — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Canada-born Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — are faring better but still have a ways to go in expanding their voter bases. Should they all fall short, it would mark the third consecutive presidential election that the Republican Party has picked a nominee who doesn’t hail from the South, even in its most expansive definition.

Few here at the SRLC said that it matters, as long as the candidate who captures the GOP nomination shares the same conservative values.

“I just think our people don’t care where they’re from as much as what they believe and how they lead,” said Chad Connelly, a former South Carolina Republican Party chairman.

If that's not a good old-fashioned "Bless his heart" being directed at Jeb Bush, specifically, I dunno what is.

Pretending that it doesn't matter if they can't get a Good Ol Boy into the White House again? That's funny.  But let's face it, the party is bought and paid for by the Romney/McCain Country Club wing, and the Bubbas from the South are just there to be cannon fodder for the GOP and alway will be in the back of the bus.

I'm sure this will come up again in 2020, after they lose again.

StupidiNews Weekend Update

Couple of big stories developing this weekend:

Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo was acquitted of charges by a judge in the involuntary manslaughter charges against a black couple when officers fired 138 bullets into the car that killed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.

A white Cleveland police officer who stood on a car and shot the vehicle's two unarmed black occupants after colleagues already riddled the car with bullets in 2012 was found not guilty Saturday in their deaths -- with a judge ruling his actions were constitutionally justified.

Cuyahoga County Judge John P. O'Donnell, who reached the verdicts after a several-week trial, declared Officer Michael Brelo not guilty of voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams following a 20-minute car chase.

Brelo's actions -- jumping onto the stopped car and firing 15 shots into the vehicle after he and his colleagues fired more than 100 times -- were constitutionally justifiable because it wasn't yet clear that any perceived threat to the officers was over, O'Donnell ruled.

It looks like same-sex marriage will win and win big in Ireland as exit polls for Friday's referendum indicate the Yes vote leading.

Early results suggest the Republic of Ireland has voted to legalise same-sex marriage in a historic referendum.

More than 3.2m people were asked whether they wanted to amend the country's constitution to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Government ministers have said they believe it will pass, while prominent "no" campaigners have conceded defeat.

Counting started at 09:00 BST on Saturday morning. An "unusually high" turnout has been reported.

A final result is expected late afternoon on Saturday.

The Senate has blocked reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act, and rejected a bill that would continue the bulk collection of metadata on US citizens.

Unable to end a struggle over how to deal with government surveillance programs, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled a last-minute session to consider retaining the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of domestic phone records.

McConnell, R-Ky., warned against allowing the controversial NSA program and other key surveillance activities under the USA Patriot Act to expire at midnight May 31. He said he would call the Senate into session that day, a Sunday, and seek action before the deadline.

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky’s other senator and a Republican presidential candidate, called the Senate’s failure to allow an extension of the surveillance programs during a late-night session Friday into Saturday a victory for privacy rights.

“We should never give up our rights for a false sense of security,” Paul said in a statement. “This is only the beginning — the first step of many. I will continue to do all I can until this illegal government spying program is put to an end, once and for all.”

By the time senators broke for the holiday, they had blocked a House-passed bill and several short-term extensions of the key provisions in the Patriot Act.

More on this as it develops.

The Kroog Versus The TPP

When you've lost Paul Krugman on an Obama administration policy as important as the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, there's usually something wrong to the point of me reevaluating the policy. I'm at that point now.

I don’t know why the president has chosen to make the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership such a policy priority. Still, there is an argument to be made for such a deal, and some reasonable, well-intentioned people are supporting the initiative.

But other reasonable, well-intentioned people have serious questions about what’s going on. And I would have expected a good-faith effort to answer those questions. Unfortunately, that’s not at all what has been happening. Instead, the selling of the 12-nation Pacific Rim pact has the feel of a snow job. Officials have evaded the main concerns about the content of a potential deal; they’ve belittled and dismissed the critics; and they’ve made blithe assurances that turn out not to be true. 
The administration’s main analytical defense of the trade deal came earlier this month, in a report from the Council of Economic Advisers. Strangely, however, the report didn’t actually analyze the Pacific trade pact. Instead, it was a paean to the virtues of free trade, which was irrelevant to the question at hand. 
First of all, whatever you may say about the benefits of free trade, most of those benefits have already been realized. A series of past trade agreements, going back almost 70 years, has brought tariffs and other barriers to trade very low to the point where any effect they may have on U.S. trade is swamped by other factors, like changes in currency values
In any case, the Pacific trade deal isn’t really about trade. Some already low tariffs would come down, but the main thrust of the proposed deal involves strengthening intellectual property rights — things like drug patents and movie copyrights — and changing the way companies and countries settle disputes. And it’s by no means clear that either of those changes is good for America.

I have to admit, a month ago I would have said "I trust the President to get a good enough deal on this."  But a lot of people are now flat out saying that there's no good deal to be had here, unlike Iran or Cuba or Obamacare or a host of other real accomplishments President Obama has made.

If this is the least awful option, then that's what we need to hear, not that this is going to be a great thing.

I'm going to try to find more information on the TPP this weekend.
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