Florida's Alex Sink may be leading the way to a more aggressive Democratic approach:
New Republican Ethic - May the Best Candidate Win (5:16) - Click for Podcast
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Why Governor Christie Can Be Seen as Innocent (7:18) - Click for Podcast
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Jonathan Bernstein, writing for Bloomberg, has helpful advice for Hillary Clinton. She should ignore all the helpful advice she gets/a<>, especially from journalists.
Either I have an extraordinarily odd sense of humor, or Max's Dad conducts very funny rants. The two possibilities are not mutually exclusive. This time, Max's Dad takes on, in his own vicious way, the Wall Street Journal.
James Wigderson says he'll vote in a Republican primary against a terrible candidate, mainly to keep from having to later choose between Mr. Flawed and the Democrat. I suppose it would be sort of a conservative political Hobson's choice. Freeze to death or burn to death.
Last Of The Millenniums brings us poll results on what caused the collapse of the Roman Empire. It's a commentary of sorts that it took me a moment to recognize it as satire, and that I'm still not 100% sure.
Vincent at A wayfarer’s notes quotes a piece by the late poet and scholar, Laurence Binyon, and offers his own thoughts on the Bible as a literary contribution. For accuracy, I go to the various revised standards. But, as pure poetry, I can't get beyond reading and listening to renditions of the King James version.
- Infidel 753 brings us a thought-provoking French film on sexual role reversal. Starts with the seemingly fairly predictable, ends up serious. Worth a look. You'll probably get angry.
Richard Hasen is a law professor, which is akin to the Grand Canyon being a hole in the ground. It is and he is, but there is more to it. He is a Chancellor's Professor. Fewer than 1 professor out of 30 ever makes it to that position. You have to show academic accomplishment that goes way beyond the norm, and you have to show every sign that the trajectory of your path will continue upward.
It's not hard to see why he got to that position. He began early, clerking for a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th circuit. A Court of Appeals is a step away from the Supreme Court. Not a bad start. He co-founded a distinguished legal review, the Election Law Journal. He writes prolifically. He specializes in election law.
Lately, he has been writing about Republican attempts to suppress voting. Now, the attack is on early voting. Working people with less than flexible employment schedules, especially minorities, tend to take advantage of early voting. Early voters generally vote more Democratic. So Republicans want to keep them from voting.
But Richard Hasen detects a philosophical underpinning that can be found both in action and in rhetoric. Republicans argue that they improve democracy by allowing fewer people to vote. This used to be the open secret of voter restrictions. Now it is becoming more overt, an actual stated goal.
There is a growing rationale, an important bit of reasoning, behind that goal. It involves the purpose of voting.
Democrats, in general, see voting as taking power from the elites and giving it to those being governed. In recent tradition, this has been a shared goal across party lines. Not always, of course. We can look to the voting denial part of Jim Crow laws to see a time that wasn't true. But in more recent years, pretty much everyone saw voting as giving power to as many people as possible.
Even during the voter suppression efforts by Republicans, conservatives gave lip service to the right to vote. They didn't want to keep legitimate voters from participating in elections. They just wanted to prevent voter fraud. If non-citizens voted, or if eligible citizens voted more than once, it would weaken the very basis of democracy.
This was a nearly transparent subterfuge. Voter fraud was such a rarity that it was less than a single percent of a single percent of a fraction of a percent of the total vote. Other forms of election stealing, not involving individual voters, have always been safer and more effective. And not everyone had photo identification.
When Republicans went to moving polling stations to hard-to-get-to places, restricting hours, reducing the number of voting machines, and voter purges that were so thorough they removed wholesale numbers of clearly legitimate voters, it was harder to see their activities as anything other than a way to erect roadblocks.
Even though it was clear what Republicans were up to, they always kept up the polite fiction that keeping legitimate voters from casting ballots was the farthest thing from their minds.
But Richard Hasen sees rhetoric catching up with reality.
The purpose of voting for many Republicans is not to distribute the power of government to citizens of the Republic. It is to elect the best people. Hasen sees the debate about early voting as an extension of a more general election ethic.
Those who vote a few days earlier will not hear the entire election debate. They will be less informed. They will make rash decisions. They will vote whenever they feel like it. These are all actual objections to early voting.
Hasen points to some notable voices carrying forward the argument into previously forbidden territory. Voting ought to be harder. The ignorant should be discouraged from voting. The ignorant, the rash, the uninformed, the ill-prepared, the unqualified are defined by result. They are those who vote the wrong way.
I don't think my view is at all unusual among Democrats. I suspect many, if not all, Republicans still join in. I'm willing to put my ideas, and my candidates, to the test in periodic elections. If we lose, I'm okay with waiting until the next election to try again.
I want the best people to win. More than that, much more than that, I want the winners to win in a fair and democratic vote.
Some Republicans are increasingly vocal in pursuing a very different objective, one focused on result more than process. They also want the best people to win.
Whatever it takes.
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has gone on a sort of press defense. In fairness we should consider what he says as true unless proven otherwise.
On August 13, 2013, Chris Christie's Deputy Chief of Staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, sent a very short email message to David Wildstein at the Port Authority. It concerned lanes entering the busiest bridge in the world:
Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.
Let's stress that Governor Christie, Bridget Anne Kelly's boss, knew nothing about that message, and that he would not have known what it meant.
David Wildstein knew, though. He answered with an even shorter message.
If the Governor had eavesdropped on that exchange, he still would have had no idea at all what they had in mind. "Time for some traffic problems" followed by "Got it" might lead a reasonable person to imagine that this was part of a plan that had been kicked around for a while, but Governor Christie had no part in the kicking.
Governor Christie was Bridget Anne Kelly's boss, but not David Wildstein's boss. He might as well have been, though. Wildstein had gone to Chris Christie's high school back in the day. His position at the Port Authority had been especially created for him at the insistence of the Christie administration.
But Governor Chris Christie knew nothing about the messages. He knew nothing of any plan. He was too busy campaigning for reelection against his Democratic opponent, Barbara Buono to have time for any curiosity. Everyone knew Christie would win against Barbara Buono. Christie knew it. Voters knew it. I suspect all of Barbara Buono's friends and relatives knew it. Maybe Barbara Buono knew it as well, not being Mitt Romney. Chris Christie would win, Barbara Buono would lose.
That Christie would win was for sure. Barbara Buono had no chance. The question was whether Christie would win so overwhelmingly the Republican Party would make him President in 2016. Republicans hate Hillary Clinton. Not as much as they loath Barack Obama, of course. She's not from, you know, Kenya. But she does generate hate. So maybe they could go for Governor Christie as the anti-Clinton candidate. That would be if he could win by enough in New Jersey.
So Governor Christie wanted to beat Barbara Buono by so much, Republicans would promote him from Governor Christie to President Christie.
David Wildstein told people at the Port Authority to close lanes from Fort Lee onto the George Washington Bridge, the only bridge going over the Hudson River for miles. That was what the Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee was about. Wildstein ordered workers not to notify the police of the lane closures. He told them it was part of a traffic study.
We should be clear here that Governor Christie knew nothing of any of this.
In the first week of September, 2013, commuters waiting to go onto the busiest bridge in the world waited longer than they expected. The wait went to hours. Many hours.
Of course commuters were late to work. Very late. Summer vacation had just ended. Children on buses were on the way to the first day of the school year. The kids were trapped on those school buses for hours. Many teachers were not in the classrooms anyway, being themselves trapped for hours. Ambulances were delayed getting to injured people. In one case, the crew abandoned their emergency vehicle and ran on foot to the medical emergency. In another case, the ambulance carrying a heart attack victim, Florence Genova who lived in Fort Lee, got caught up in the jam. She died shortly after she got to the hospital.
Another email exchange, also involving David Wildstein, was gleeful. An unknown participant in the closing of the lanes emailed Wildstein. Is it wrong that I'm smiling. Wildstein answered No.
The same person emailed I feel badly about the kids. I guess and Wildstein reminded the unknown conspirator of the upcoming election: They are the children of Buono voters.
It must be stressed that Governor Christie knew nothing of the closing of the lanes. He knew nothing of the gloating email messages.
The traffic tie up went for four days. The Port Authority is run jointly by New York and New Jersey. New York authorities insisted the traffic block be ended. Leaks about their concerns appeared in the press. On the New Jersey side, Christie loyalists were furious. Not about the traffic hardships. They were angry about the news leaks and New York interference with the lane closures.
Initially, the Governor denied knowing of the traffic tie up until it was over. As details of the conspiracy surfaced, several Christie people were fired or quit, including David Wildstein and Bridget Anne Kelly.
In the famous press conference in which the Governor explained that he didn't know about the traffic tie up until it was all over, he also explained that he didn't know David Wildstein all that well. Back in high school, student Christie was a rock star athlete, widely known and admired, while Wildstein was a nobody doing whatever he was doing.
Wildstein wants immunity from prosecution for what he did. He released a lot of the emails that pretty much prove there was a conspiracy. His lawyer says Wildstein knows about solid evidence the Governor lied, that Christie knew what was going on during the traffic tie up.
Later the Governor clarified. He hadn't lied. Of course he knew of the traffic delays. They were in all the papers. He did not know about the conspiracy was all.
Later on, Governor Christie's office sent a message out detailing how bad Wildstein was. They said a lot of what he did, day to day, at work was considered unproductive. They said he had sued the school board while he was a high school student. His social studies teacher had said he was deceptive in some unspecified way when he was 16.
The letter generated some mirth. people made fun of it. But it was not written by Christie. It was sent by someone who was "familiar with the situation." Christie knew nothing of the letter.
The Governor did not know that his deputy chief of staff was engaged in a plan to cause traffic problems.
The Governor did not know that his representative at the Port Authority was administering the plan.
The Governor barely knew of David Wildstein's existence.
The Governor did not know there were traffic issues beyond what was usual.
The Governor did not know of those gloating emails to and from his staff.
The Governor did not know of the messages that were part of the conspiracy.
The Governor did not know about the conspiracy.
The Governor did not know David Wildstein in high school.
The Governor did not know about the letter from his staff about Wildstein.
It now appears that funds from the federal government for desperate victims of Hurricane Sandy were being used to reward or threaten those victims for the officials they elected.
But we can trust that the Governor did not know about that either.
We now have an understanding of Governor Christie's innocence. He did not know.
We also have an idea of the governing philosophy followed by his administration.
Hear no evil. See no evil. And evil.
News Corpse notes the self-review engaged by Bill O'Reilly after his interview with the President of the United States. O'Reilly suggests that the interview will "go down in journalistic history" because of the interviewing skills he exhibited. News Corpse helps document O'Reilly's awesomeness with an analysis of the percent of the interview Bill devoted to instructing President Obama on how to run the country. What a guy!
James Wigderson watches the great debate on creationism between Bill Nye the science guy vs Ken Ham the Biblical literalist. I suspect James reflects the view of most mainstream Christians decidedly favoring Bill Nye and science.
A sympathetic fellow Republican says of House Speaker John Boehner's troubles that even Jesus would be unable to achieve a cooperative Republican caucus. Rumproast is inspired to speculate on just what Jesus would do as Speaker of the House.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite reports on a fellow in California charged with assault for threatening with a gun a girl scout selling cookies. He is pleading not guilty. Does California have a Stand-Your-Ground provision?
- Max's Dad is genuinely saddened by the loss of everyone's favorite actor.
Here comes another CBO report, followed by a Republican effort to make the report say something it doesn't say.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says a lot of people who were not able to get insurance can get it now. Millions of older folks who are not yet 65 but want to retire have been clinging to jobs with health benefits because they need to for insurance. They or a spouse either have preexisting conditions, so they needed insurance from work, or they haven't been able to afford insurance, so they needed insurance from work.
Bottom line is: People needed insurance that they could only get from work.
Obamacare outlaws insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. Obamacare makes insurance more affordable. So a lot of people who want to retire can, you know, retire.
That means a couple of million people will decide not to work.
Many want to retire, but not all. Some are second income earners with a working spouse, and they want to be full time family care givers. Some have second jobs who don't want to work more than full time. That's 2 million more jobs available to someone else, someone out of work, someone who needs that job.
Good news, right?
Here's the Fox News headline:
|ObamaCare could lead to loss|
|of nearly 2.3 million US jobs,|
Haven't we gone through this sort of dishonesty before?
A little over three years ago, the Congressional Budget Office came out with an initial projection. Their estimate then was that up to 800,000 people would be released from having to work, most of them people wanting to retire. The reason? Well, same reason as now. From that report:
Changes to the insurance market, including provisions that prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people because of preexisting conditions and that restrict how much prices can vary with an individual’s age or health status, will increase the appeal of health insurance plans offered outside the workplace for older workers. As a result, some older workers will choose to retire earlier than they otherwise would.
Let's see. People who don't need to work, except to get insurance, are suddenly able to get insurance. So they can retire. Good news, right? But even back then, there was an effort to breitbart the report. This was how the Weekly Standard relayed the wonderful news:
|CBO Director Says Obamacare Would Reduce|
|Employment by 800,000 Workers|
This week was a repeat of three years ago. Mainstream news outlets first were taken in by conservatives. But then, they actually read the CBO report and listened to Congressional testimony. This has been like groundhog day.
Fox News found themselves in a sort of weird hybrid of spin. They stuck to their original falsehood that the CBO was projecting a loss of more than 2 million jobs. But they combined it with a new and contradictory distortion that, yes, people would drop out of the workforce but it would be because Obamacare had made then lazy. Why work if you can get everything for free?
Here's how one Fox interview begins:
Top story right now, that's this report on the true cost of Obamacare. It's growing yet again. The cost is 2.3 million jobs lost over the next decade. And that's just the beginning. Art Laffer was President Reagan's economic advisor with us back now in Nashville Tennessee. Art, good morning to you.
Professor Laffer is widely credited as the author of Republican Supply Side Economics. He summarizes the new read on the CBO report. You see it isn't actually that jobs are being lost. But it also doesn't seem to be what the CBO report actually says, either: that older workers who want to retire, second income earners, and 2nd job holders can now actually leave their jobs and still afford health insurance. What is it then?
Arthur Laffer educates his audience.
These people are trapped in their jobs cause they have to get income to provide for their families and not pursue their dreams. So let's give everyone full income so no-one will have to work and we can all proceed with our dreams. And then we'll live happily ever after. I mean, it's such la-la-land stuff. I've never heard such nonsense in my life.
- Professor Arthur Laffer, on Fox News, February 5, 2014
So another CBO report becomes a conservative Rorschach test.
For normal folks, affordable health insurance provides ordinary people a degree of health freedom. They can move from one job to another. A parent with a working spouse can become a stay at home, presumably with the congratulations of cultural conservatives. Someone who works a second job just to get the insurance can now work a forty-plus hour week. Some folks can even retire early, if they have the means. All this will open jobs for people who need them.
For those conservatives educated by Fox News and a thousand blog sites, the CBO report says something completely different from the words on each page. They receive a message from an alternate reality. Obamacare is costing 2 million jobs, forcing people out of work. That force away from work comes by offering all of us a full time income for not working.
I mean, it's such la-la-land stuff. I've never heard such nonsense in my life.
Except, of course, in the conservative press.
I suppose it makes sense in a theoretical way. The more extreme an ideologue, the less likely the ideology will allow an understanding of anyone who disagrees.
Most of us, I believe, can understand viewpoints we do not hold ourselves. I have, at least, a surface understanding of libertarianism. I don't agree with much of it. But I understand something of what I don't agree with.
I understand deficit hawks. I believe the policies they propose are harmful to the economy and to the general well being of real people. Austerity has been tried to a limited extent in the United States and with full-throttled enthusiasm in the European Union. The effect has been a multiplication of human suffering. Deficits are a very good thing in bad times. They must be paid back during times of prosperity.
But I believe I have a rudimentary grasp of the reduce-deficits-at-all-costs ideology. I have even come up with arguments, on my own, in favor of the austerity I deplore: arguments I have not heard from proponents. I see most arguments of gun rights absolutists as absurd. But I think I could articulate them as well as most of those absolutists themselves.
That ability is not universally held, of course.
Some folks with passionate obsessions put an energy into their points of view that would be hard for most of us to duplicate. Some anti-Darwinists can cite obscure evidence for creationism that would be difficult for a mere skeptic to counter. How many of us can talk about the explosion of fossil evidence in the geological Cambrian layer and contrast it with the absence in any pre-Cambrian layer?
The monetary gold standard is another ideology requiring a technical grasp that most of us simply lack the sheer will to pursue.
Some schools of thought defy analysis. Austrian economics is one. Adherents are quite insistent about the irrelevance of any and all economic data, history, and measurement. They even deride numbers. No kidding. They dismiss numbers as mere "Cardinality," a substitute for deeper insight unrelated to numbers.
On abortion rights, I don't believe I've ever met anyone who was stumped in an attempt to come up with a few common anti-abortion arguments. I am pro-rights. I think it is unconscionable for the state to take control of a woman's body at the moment of conception. But I do understand, I think, the arguments of those who take the opposing position.
To some degree, the ability to understand arguments we oppose is an ability most people have.
Not all, of course.
A few months ago, Ohio State Representative Jim Buchy, a Republican, was interviewed by Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera has grown from its beginnings as an Arabic news channel. The station now broadcasts in many languages and reaches most of the world. It hosts many opposing views. But conventional wisdom is often slow to catch up. It is still thought to be a purely Arabic news outlet. It seemed to me to be further testimony to the channel's expansion that they would seek to interview a conservative Republican.
It was also evidence of an open minded conservative. Jim Buchy has been active in Republican circles for quite a while. Fellow Republicans routinely elect him to important official positions in the Ohio House. His special passion has been a crusade against abortion. He would allow abortion in some cases involving the life of the mother. But he draws the line there. Even rape or incest would not meet the strict standards he sets for women.
During the interview, the polite young reporter listened to Representative Buchy voice his dedication to ending abortion in Ohio. Then she quietly asked the question to which he apparently had never given a second thought - - or a first.
What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion?
His answer is not to be found, at least not easily, on the Al Jazeera site. Perhaps they did not consider the interview to be enlightening. Maybe they simply wanted to protect their conservative guest from undue controversy. It could be the search capability they offer to the casual user is deficient.
But Rachael Maddow at MSNBC managed to capture the moment. And Talking points memo is only too happy to provide a brief transcript.
Well, there’s probably a lot of — I’m not a woman so I’m thinking, if I’m a woman, why would I want to get — some of it has to do with economics. A lot has to do with economics. I don’t know, I have never — It’s a question I have never even thought about.
- Representative Jim Buchy, Ohio House of Representatives, September 7, 2013
To those for whom even contraception is the moral equivalent of murder, there is little room for ideological distinctions. The grisly back alley abortion mill of Kermit Gosnell is only a less sanitary version of a clinic offering an environment of safety for the woman. To the truly committed, which is to say to the completely consistent, the absurdity of that contrast would roughly equal a comparison of the cleanliness of various totalitarian killing chambers.
It is merely ironic that an anti-abortion crusader, a legislator wanting to restrict abortion rights to the vanishing point, has never thought about why a woman might want an abortion. It is not at all shocking.
"It’s a question I have never thought about" is an answer that ought to surprise no-one.
I wish I could remember the film. I wish I was sure of the actor. I think it was Darren McGavin as a wisecracking reporter. He is approached by a newsboy offering free samples of a rival paper. "It's free," says the youngster. McGavin accepts the free paper. "It's a wise man who knows the value of his own product," he says.
It was decades ago. My father and I argued endlessly about a Michigan study on "comparable worth." The study was loosely based on an attempted policy in Washington state a few years before. The study in Michigan seemed to me to be hopelessly subjective in assigning point values based on levels of responsibility, training, background, and a host of other factors.
It seemed to me to be a worthy but failed attempt to compare what was difficult to compare. A clerk-typist and a truck driver would each be assigned 117 combined points of worth.
My father, on the other hand, saw a value in the attempt itself. An informal conspiracy had long existed that kept the wages of women down for identical or nearly identical work.
The comparable worth I saw was a hopeless comparison of sometimes enormously disparate roles. The comparable worth he saw was a comparison between an attempt to elevate the treatment of women to rough equality vs the status quo. The comparable worth of "comparable worth" was incomparably worthier than discrimination.
He has been gone for over 20 years. His point was valid. Still is.
I remember him at the slightest provocation. A Fox News argument sufficed yesterday. Media matters caught it on video.
Tucker Carlson was overpowering the always hapless Alan Colmes. Colmes parroted President Obama pointing out that women earn, on average, 77 percent of the wage of men. Carlson was having none of it.
That's just not true!
Women make more than men if you adjust for the time they take off for childbearing. That's a fact.
- Tucker Carlson, Fox News, January 29, 2014
It's a point often made by conservatives. There are other factors involved besides discrimination: education, work experience, the possibility of dropping out because of parenthood. The list goes on.
Many of those factors are outside of the control of individual women and have nothing to do with each person's effort. A woman who decides not to drop out for maternity, for example, is still judged by others who do. And women in the aggregate are pushed hard by cultural imperatives: staying at home as primary caregivers because they earn less than their partners, earning less because they are more likely to stay at home.
Education, work experience, and management opportunity follow the same pattern. Women are seen through the lens of prospective choices, which is to say the choice made by others before them.
But, Carlson and those like him, should be challenged by the very data they believe in. Like the Will Rogers character, we should not just point out what Carlson doesn't know. We should also note what he knows for sure that ain't so.
Education, work experience, management opportunity, and, as Carlson points out, women are affected by expectations of others. They are also affected by pure, simple discrimination.
Several rigorous studies have factored out the Carlson rationalization of unequal pay. The American Association of University Women conducted one such study. Their careful analysis found that even after screening out those factors a major contributor was simple wage discrimination. It ranged from 5% in more enlightened parts of the country and in some professions to more than 14% in others.
What made the Fox News exchange memorable was the contribution of the one woman who had waited patiently for the two men to take a breath. Martha MacCallum finally managed to interrupt. Women don't want protection, she insisted, because they don't like being regarded as a special class of citizens, having to be "given a little special handout just to make sure that they're okay."
They don't want to be treated like some group of people who have to be, you know, given this little special handout just to make sure that they're okay ... Many women get paid exactly, you know, exactly what they're worth, Alan.
- Martha MacCallum, Fox News, January 29, 2014
It was a sort of inside out Darren McGavin moment. While it may be a wise man who knows the value of his own product, it is a foolish society that undervalues the economic potential of a half of its members.
Women getting paid, "you know, exactly what they're worth," brought back a decades old conversation with my father.
It reminded me of how even some of us well into the older side of average can miss our parents.
There was a very scary sounding report on CNBC over the weekend that said the US government is “$16 trillion in the hole” The balance sheet the article used was overly simplistic and extremely misleading. The asset side of the balance sheet showed just $2.7 trillion in assets. Which is accurate, if you exclude almost all of the assets the federal government actually owns.
Because I am extremely lazy (though not as lazy as that article!), I am just going to point out a few of the US government’s assets that prove this point terribly misleading. For starters, the IER estimates that total fossil fuel resources owned by the Federal government are valued at over $150 trillion alone.
- More -
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said that the government shouldn't help women who can't control their "libido or their reproductive system" by providing co-pay-free birth control and that Democrats are encouraging women to be "victims of their gender."
- Talking Points Memo, January 23, 2014
Well, that's one way of spinning it, I suppose.
Let's take a look at what Mike Huckabee actually did say:
Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything that anyone else can do. Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women.
That’s not a war ON them, it’s a war FOR them.
- Mike Huckabee, January 23, 2014
Well, so far, so good. That pretty much falls in line with what the ostensible leader of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, has advocated. We should note Mike Huckabee's adherence to an even more ingrained Republican approach to inequality. He does not propose any new initiative. He does not condemn workplace prejudice against women. He does not defend, or even acknowledge, Republican efforts to derail anti-discrimination bills.
The Republican Party, says Mr. Huckabee, recognizes the equality of women. Unequal treatment? What unequal treatment?
Recognition has to be easier than than action.
"...the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women."
Still, the recognition that women have capacity, without any action to ensure fairness, is a deficiency only in the eyes of Democrats, liberals, and RINOs, Republicans in name only. Mr. Huckabee is well within the mainstream of conservative sensibility. His choice of words, up to this point, fits any Frank Luntz type vocabulary. Focus groups would swoon.
What comes after that has gotten him in some trouble. It is a reapplication of a traditional appeal to targets of unfortunate treatment.
Former slaves did not actually need protection provided by any Freedmen's Bureau. In fact, the existence of an agency to prevent lynchings and vote obstruction was kind of an insult, an implication that black people were victims, not able to control their own fate.
Today, anti-discrimination laws and poverty programs that give a leg up to people of all races working their way out of poverty are also an insult. They keep people on a Democratic plantation. Unemployment compensation is disrespectful of those receiving such help, since it implies a sort of victim status.
And so it is with birth control as part of basic health coverage.
And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it!
Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be. And women across America need to stand up and say, Enough of that nonsense.
- Mike Huckabee, January 23, 2014
It is here that Mr. Huckabee departs from any focus group that extends beyond the dining hall of the weekly church fish fry. Conservatives holding, or seeking, elected office are cautious. Agreement will provoke a deadly reaction in general elections. Who can forget Todd Akin and his hopeless definition of legitimate rape? On the other hand, vocal disagreement may discourage support in Republican primaries.
Reince Priebus has been more outspoken.
...you cannot offer up words like libido, wherever that came from. You don't offer up these sorts of lobs and set up passes and serves that allow the Democrats to spike the ball.
I mean, it's not where our party stands, it really isn't even what Mike Huckabee meant to say.
- Reince Priebus, January 27, 2014
Republicans seem unanimous in their agreement with Mr. Priebus. They disagree with Mike Huckabee's choice of words, but embrace his message.
The words may be inelegant, but they are sincere. They accurately represent a traditional view of women, of sex, of Democrats and liberals, and of birth control itself.
The logic is the very core of conservative cultural tradition.
Democrats are insulting women by suggesting they need either government or birth control itself. What Democrats, liberals, and many women themselves do not recognize is the value of sexual virtue: that women who use birth control cannot control their libido or their reproductive system.
"...they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government."
We have watched other cultural clashes. They hold our morbid attention just as train wrecks or traffic collisions sometimes do. Mike Huckabee's efforts will provide a special sort of horrifying fascination as he vows to "take that discussion all across America".
Those who met clothing salesman Arnold Schuster in 1952 would not have imagined that he would be responsible for the capture of one of the most notorious bank robbers in American history, or that his own assassination would bring down the head of one of the largest crime families in the country.
Willie Sutton is still famous for his answer when asked why he robbed banks. "That's where the money is." Back then, he had a reputation as one of the most polite bank robbers ever. He always treated victims and bystanders with uncommon courtesy. He also had an acute talent for escaping from prison.
Clothing salesman Arnold Schuster was on a New York City subway when he recognized Willie Sutton. Sutton had escaped yet again, this time from a prison in Pennsylvania. He was known to have a taste for fashion, so his FBI poster had been distributed to clothing outlets. Schuster followed Sutton to a gas station and notified police.
His role in the capture brought Schuster some minor fame. He later appeared on the television game show I've Got a Secret. Crime boss Albert Anastasia had never met Willie Sutton, but he happened to be watching the television program and flew into a rage. "I can't stand squealers!" he reportedly shouted "Hit that guy!" He ordered the killing of the young clothing salesman.
Supposedly, that killing contributed to the killing of Anastasia by crime associates a few years later. Gangsters killed each other in those days, sometimes in spectacular fashion. But the killing of civilians, even witnesses who testified in prosecutions, was forbidden.
That was not all because of altruism. The ethic was because of the cost of public opinion. When non-combatants were murdered, crackdowns would follow. Income from crime would go down, way down.
That's what happened after clothing salesman Arnold Schuster was killed. The cost hit all of New York's crime families. Anastasia had murdered a civilian. The public was enraged, Anastasia was responsible.
Watching some of the coverage of the activities in New Jersey brings to mind the violent saga of Willie Sutton, Albert Anastasia, and poor Arnold Schuster.
Rick Ungar, writing for Forbes Magazine, describes what he sees as the prevailing ethic of New Jersey politics:
I strongly suspect that what Mayor Zimmer is alleging is, indeed, representative of “politics as usual” in America and similar to behavior that most elected officials have participated in simply as a matter of how things are done.
- Rick Ungar, Forbes Magazine January 20, 2014
That's pretty much the way some of the earlier charges of bullying came across.
Adam Schneider, the mayor of Long Branch says he only got cooperation on a utility project after he endorsed Christie for re-election. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop says he stopped getting access to the governor's office after he declined to endorse. Olympic star Carl Lewis was thinking of running against a friend of Christie until he was warned off. An appointment to some athletic council would get cancelled if he ran.
Policy threats, appointment cancellations, public projects backed or not backed, all are considered to be part of political strength. That sort of wheeling and dealing will be familiar to moviegoers who saw the movie Lincoln. It wasn't just cinema. The 16th President really did apply carrots and sticks.
That's what we often expect from those we elect.
The bridge block with traffic tied up for hours and hours on successive days is something different. Memos show public officials close to Governor Christie reacting to the suffering of little children sitting in school buses throughout the morning of the first day of school.
I feel badly about the kids ... I guess.
And the reply: They are the children of Buono voters - Buono being Christie's election opponent.
Granting or denying hurricane relief funds to people trying to survive puts political pressure way beyond any level that can be identified as strength. It goes beyond the outer limits of bullying. The allegation can be read one of two ways.
Chris Christie's Lieutenant Governor threatened to deny funds desperately needed by Hoboken residents unless Hoboken's Mayor Dawn Zimmer would clear some bothersome zoning regulations aside for a Christie ally. The deal involved a construction project worth many millions.
or the alternative allegation:
Chris Christie's Lieutenant Governor offered to shift funds desperately needed by other areas to Hoboken instead, if Hoboken's Mayor Dawn Zimmer would clear those regulations.
This is not American politics as usual, or even everyday New Jersey politics.
Intimidating politicians is sometimes considered political strength, sometimes political bullying. Depends on which side you take.
Going after commuters, school children, and hurricane victims goes to a level Americans don't tolerate.
Take a lesson from Albert Anastasia.
Chris Christie's people went after civilians.
At The Moderate Voice, Ron Beasley recommends the recent movie at Netflix documenting Mitt Romney's Presidential campaign. Ron sees Mitt much more sympathetically now. Among his insights is that Mitt didn't really want to win. As I see it, that observation would be evidence of a level of Romney patriotism I had failed to detect.
Conservative James Wigderson gives politics and policy a moment's rest (whew). He explains what has to be the silliest minor effort to protect Justin Bieber from his latest juvenile antics. People with this sort of budding sense of entitlement may grow up to be Ted Nugent.
- Tim McGaha at Tim's Thoughtful Spot is celebrating. It's the anniversary of the landing of the Mars rover Opportunity. Its life was designed to go for an ambitious 3 months. Tim explains how long it actually sent information to us from the red planet.