The Affordable Care Act in 3 minutes

Must admit I’m a sucker for these really cool animated videos.  This one is by Jon Gruber, and nicely explains how the Affordable Care Act works and why it is a good thing:

Newt and Race

Quite an interesting exchange between Gingrich and Juan Williams on race last night.  Nice summary (and video) from Charles Blow.  The most disturbing part for me, was how much the audience loved Gingrich’s veiled racism.  Here’s Blow:

Gingrich went on to say that he was going to continue to “find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job, and learn someday to own the job.” (Roaring applause. As if poor people don’t work.  As I’ve pointed out before, most of them do.)

These exchanges, and the audience’s response to them, underscore how Republicans’ gut reactions and their official rhetoric diverge, particularly in the south.

They also underscore the fact that a clever politician like Gingrich, who understands this cleavage and knows how to exploit it in subtle and sophisticated ways, still has a chance to cause Mitt Romney some headaches on his presumptive march to the nomination.

Gingrich seems to understand the historical weight of the view among some southern whites, many of whom have migrated to the Republican party, that blacks are lazy and addicted to handouts. He is able to give voice to those feelings without using those words. He is able to make people believe that a fundamentally flawed and prejudicial argument that demeans minorities is actually for their uplift. It is Gingrich’s gift: He is able to make ill will sound like good will.

Or, as Seth Masket brilliantly put it in his FB Status (I’m going to assume he would not object to quoting that)

In case you missed it, here’s a summary of last night’s exchange between Juan Williams and Newt Gingrich.

Williams: Are you an overt racist?
Gingrich: No, I’m a symbolic racist.
Crowd: Woo-hoo! [shoots guns in air]

That, sadly, about sums it up.

Photo of the day

I’ve been pretty fascinated by the recent cruise ship crash and the many mind-blowing images.  That said, I really have not seen a particularly compelling collection of photos of the disaster until Alan Taylor posted his collection yesterday.  Definitely worth checking out the whole series.  This was one of my favorites:

View of the Costa Concordia taken on January 14, 2012, after the cruise ship ran aground and keeled over off the Isola del Giglio. Five passengers drowned and about 15 still remain missing after the Italian ship with some 4,200 people on board ran aground. The Costa Concordia was on a trip around the Mediterranean when it apparently hit a reef near the island of Giglio on Friday, only a few hours into its voyage, as passengers were sitting down for dinner. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images) 

Republican lameness

Not generally a big fan of Fred Hiatt, and I’m not even sure he’s right on this, but I was kind of intrigued by his theory of why the Republican field of nominees this year is so exceptionally lame.  I also like that he hearkens back to poor Tim Pawlenty who dropped out too early if ever a candidate did:

 But why have visionary Republicans shied away?

The nearly forgotten candidacy of Tim Pawlenty offers a clue. Once upon a time a conservative governor from a swing region with a record of working across the aisle might have gained traction.

But in a party that has come to loathe compromise, Pawlenty didn’t have the gumption to run on his record, and he couldn’t sell himself as less nice and more ideologically pure than he really was. When he couldn’t bring himself to be mean to Romney in an early New Hampshire debate, he was finished.

The Republican ideology of no new taxes, ever, is a straitjacket. But even more dispositive is the conviction that reaching across the aisle is weak and treasonous.

Until that conviction fades, politicians who want to get things done, and would know how to strike deals in the nation’s interest, may stay on the sidelines.

In other words, forget about seeing any seriously capable Republican politicians so long as the party is in thrall to it’s no taxes ever, take no prisoners ideology.

Why I don’t watch Republican debates

I caught about 60 seconds of highlights on GMA today, and based on this,  the amount of absurdity would surely make a reality-based person’s head explode over a full debate.  What really caught my attention was Newt’s statement in defense of kid janitors:

They could do light janitorial duty. They could work in the cafeteria. They could work in the front office. They could work in the library. They’d be getting money, which is a good thing if you’re poor. Only the elites despise earning money.  [emphasis mine]

Riiiiight.  Us elites so despise earning money.  We just want to sit here and have most of our earning come from our capital gains and then have Republicans compete with each other to see who can offer the lowest capital gains rate (I’m surprised none of them have yet offered to pay rich people for capital gains).

If that wasn’t enough, I also saw this little clip from Santorum and Romney:

The bill I voted on was the Martin Luther King Voting Rights bill. And this was a provision that said, particularly targeted African-Americans. And I voted to allow — to allow them to have their voting rights back once they completed their sentence.
QUESTION: Governor Romney, 30 seconds to respond.
ROMNEY: Yes. I don’t think people who have committed violent crimes should be allowed to vote again. That’s my own view.
SANTORUM: That’s very –
QUESTION: Last thing, Senator.
SANTORUM: You know, it’s very interesting you should say that, Governor Romney, because in the state of Massachusetts, when you were governor, the law was that not only could violent felons vote after they exhausted their sentences, but they could vote while they were on probation and parole, which was a more liberal position than I took when I voted for the bill in the — in the Congress. So…
BAIER: Governor?
SANTORUM: If, in fact — let me finish — if, in fact, you felt so passionately about this that you are now going to go out and have somebody criticize me for restoring voting rights to people who have — who have exhausted their sentence and served their time and paid their debt to society, then why didn’t you try to change that when you were governor of Massachusetts?

Pathetic.  Both such pious Christians, but they want to show how tough on crime they are by saying once you’ve committed a violent crime, you should never vote again.  Regardless of completing your sentence, serving your debt to society.  Hmmmm, didn’t Jesus, maybe just once, say something about forgiveness or something?  I feel quite confident that these “pious Christian” candidates would make Jesus retch.

Why the 2012 election is so important

I was actually thinking basically the idea I read in Ezra’s post yesterday morning.  Either, I need to start putting these things down myself, or, actually, this is great because really smart, excellent writers keep thinking the same things as me, just more eloquently, and I can simply copy and paste.  So, before I paste from Ezra, really, give me credit for thinking this on my own:

Because a recovery is likely within five years, whichever party wins the White House in 2012 is likely to get the credit, and so too will its policy agenda.

You can see how this will work. If Romney wins the presidency and the economy begins to rebound, Republicans will argue, and America’s experience will seem to show, that they were right all along: The stimulus was useless and the regulatory uncertainty the Obama administration created with its health-care plan and its talk of cap-and-trade and all the rest kept businesses from investing.

Yep.  Ezra also cites a lot of great evidence from political scientist extraordinaire, Larry Bartels, to help make this point:

“In the U.S.,” wrote Bartels, “voters replaced Republicans with Democrats and the economy improved. In Britain and Australia, voters replaced Labor governments with conservatives and the economy improved. In Sweden, voters replaced Conservatives with Liberals, then with Social Democrats, and the economy improved.

“In the Canadian agricultural province of Saskatchewan, voters replaced Conservatives with Socialists and the economy improved. In the adjacent agricultural province of Alberta, voters replaced a socialist party with a right-leaning funny-money party created from scratch by a charismatic radio preacher … and the economy improved.

And there’s even more!  The economy will very likely due quite well over the next presidential term absolutely regardless of who wins the election.  Yet, that person and that party will get the lion’s share of the credit and their policies will be credited and may become ascendant for far longer that the recovery itself.  Not that all presidential elections aren’t important, but I do think we are in a situation where the results from what promise to be a close election are going to have a particularly long-lasting and important impact.

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