Photo of the day

I didn’t even know there had been flooding in Japan recently.  Here’s an In Focus gallery of the dramatic impact:

A hotel building falls into the floodwaters at the Nikko mountain resort in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, on September 10, 2015.

Jiji Press / AFP / Getty

Mental health is great– except when you have to pay for it

What is it we hear from Republicans every time there’s a mass shooting?  We need to focus on mental health.  That’s the issue, not guns.  So, how are we doing on that mental health thing (and, of course, shootings aside, mental health is important!).  Well, I think you can guess.  The latest from NC’s new budget:

The state’s eight regional mental health agencies must absorb a financial hit in the form of a $110 million budget reduction that state legislators told them to fill with money from their savings.

The cuts make it less likely that patients relying on government-funded mental health treatment will see new or expanded programs to handle the existing strain on services.

But, since the health services have savings, this is not actually a cut.  Or something like that.  What the state can afford, though, is lower taxes for our wealthiest residents.  Hooray!

More bullish on Rubio

Here’s the latest post-debate polling:

Fiorina is way up and she’s taking it from Trump and Carson.  I’ve seen some interesting discussion on-line as to whether she is actually an anti-establishment candidate, but I would say as much as anything that depends upon who her supporters are.  And if they are coming from Trump and Carson, that suggests she is.  Ultimately, I think one of these three becomes the anti-establishment candidate and ends up losing to whomever the establishment candidate is.  And now with Walker out, Rubio is polling best among the establishment candidates.  And not only is Rubio polling better than Bush (barely), more importantly, he’s actually a far superior candidate.

Yglesias makes the case in suggesting Jeb should drop out for the good of the GOP:

But if he [Jeb] cares about his family legacy, the good of the Republican Party and the ideological principles he espouses, he should drop out as soon as possible and endorse Marco Rubio…

All the conventional candidates in the field — Bush, Rubio, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and even Bobby Jindal — have something of an obligation to ensure that they don’t collectively do so much to divide the establishment that they let an outsider in…

Bush is also literally the only person on the planet earth who will be utterly incapable of tapping into a sense that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is a bit of a tired retread.

Marco Rubio, by contrast, is a dynamic public speaker and gutsy political risk-taker (recall that he got to the Senate by beating a sitting governor in a primary) who impresses staffers on both sides of the aisle who’ve worked with him. Rubio performs better than Bush in head-to-head polling against Clinton.

And, crucially, Rubio has the exact same policy positions as Bush — very conservative views on abortion and foreign policy, a shared passion for deficit-increasing tax cuts, and a moderate stance on immigration. [emphasis mine]

Meanwhile, with Walker dropping out, Dylan Matthews argues that Democrats should be very afraid of Rubio.  I think he’s right.  He sure scares me (as a Democrat, not as a political scientist) far and away more than any other contender:

On paper, it’s kind of bizarre that Marco Rubio isn’t already running away with the Republican nomination. He was elected by a wide margin in the biggest swing state in the union. He doesn’t have Jeb Bush’s last name and associated baggage. He’s got experience in elected office, unlike Carson, Trump, or Fiorina. He has not made literally every member of the GOP establishment hate him, the way Cruz has (and Rand Paul has to a lesser extent). He’s charismatic on the stump, unlike John Kasich or the dearly departed Scott Walker. He’s not insistent on refighting culture wars Republicans have already lost, like Mike Hucakbee is, and unlike Chris Christie, none of his aides are facing federal indictment. And best of all, he’s Latino, which helps address Republicans’ biggest problem in presidential elections: their supporters are more or less all white, and the electorate is getting less white every day…

That’s why Democratic operatives occasionally express outright panic about the prospect of facing Rubio in a general election. In a widely circulated post, Steve Schale — Florida director for Obama ’08, senior adviser to Obama ’12 — declared, “Marco Rubio scares me. … If you are a Democrat, he should be the one you don’t want to face, because I do think, if he is the nominee, he is the one who could significantly change the Hispanic math in Florida and the Latino math out west. Why? I truly believe he will benefit from the same identity politics that galvanized African American voters behind Obama.”

This actually isn’t a bad heuristic. If Democrats think Rubio is going to be the toughest candidate to beat, that might be an important data point for Republicans in search of an electable nominee to consider.

As Matthews goes on detail.  Electability is a proven concern of primary voters.  And Rubio seems to have it in spades over most of these others.  Of course, electability is not the only concern (or Rubio would already be top of the heap).  Anyway, if I could easily bet real money on Rubio (and I don’t think you can in America) I would totally be doing so now.

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