How Bernie is like the Republicans

There’s been a number of good posts this week from various liberal blogger/wonks, etc., about Bernie Sanders versus the wonks.  But then Annie Lowery’s post yesterday really hit the nail on the head for me:

They have a point here. As I and my colleague Jonathan Chait have noted with varying degrees of exasperation, depression, and glee, the Republicans have long since left reality behind when making budget plans. [emphases mine] They have insisted on “dynamic scoring,” measuring the budget impact of various pieces of legislation according to how much magic sparkling pixie dust they believe such pieces of legislation will bestow on the economy. They have put forward tax plans that do not — cannot — add up, and kept on insisting that they would. They have promised everyone no taxes, awesome jobs, and a pony — all for free.

Democrats, say what you will, have avoided doing this to anything like the same degree. They have admitted that tax cuts do not pay for themselves. They have recognized that government spending needs to be financed with budget cuts, revenue increases, or a jump in the deficit. And they have sought affirmation, vindication even, from nonpartisan outlets like the Tax Policy Center…

It tells you something profound about the way that Bernie is running his campaign. He has no interest in garnering respectability and credibility among Establishment Democrats. (He is not even a Democrat, after all!) He has no problem trotting out what many would call magic math, given that he disputes who gets to brand different things fantastical or crazy or extreme in the first place. He is acting much more like a Republican than a Democrat: appealing to the base’s heart, à la Donald Trump, rather than the Establishment’s head. And to be fair, it is a campaign that in its embrace of big, big liberal ideas and promise of big, big liberal accomplishments has thus far proven pretty magical.

Yes!  Maybe this is even a good thing (maybe) when faced with the Republican approach, but it really crystallized for me why Bernie frustrates me so much.  I really like that Democrats are not the mirror image of Republicans in this way.  I like that Democrats take policy seriously in a way Republicans do not.  I think that’s a good thing.  This is not a feature of the Republican party that should be emulated.

Neil Irwin contributes this important idea:

The wonkosphere vs. Bernie clash is not just a story of center-left versus left-left. It is also a clash between those who have been in the trenches of trying to make public policy for the last seven years versus those who can exist in a kind of theoretical world of imagining what public policy ought to be.

Again, yes!  The vast majority of people I know who have actually worked in policy or those who have studied policy-making in-depth (i.e., political scientists) support Hillary and are skeptical of Bernie.

And finally, Yglesias‘ somewhat approving take on Bernie going in this direction:

But he’s managed to make a virtue out of this weakness and harness it to the larger significance of the Sanders project — an effort to turn the Democratic Party into a more ideological party that operates more like a progressive mirror image of the conservative Republican Party and less of a broad coalition of interest groups mediated by technocrats.

Argh.  But it is a weakness.  We sure as hell don’t need two of two political parties that refuse to take policy seriously.


Photo of the day

Another from the In Focus gallery of World Press Photo winners:

Nature, third prize winner, singles. Colima Volcano in Mexico shows a powerful night explosion with lightning and some incandescent rockfalls. Photo taken on December 13, 12.5 kilometers away from the crater near a lagoon named Carrizalillos on Comala Municipality. This particular bolt of lightning is more than 600 meters tall, lighting details of the south portion of volcano in this 8 second exposure.

Sergio Velasco Garcia

Where I get too crude for newspapers

Among the more interesting features of the new Republican map for NC (in response to a successful lawsuit that present districts are racially gerrymandered) is that the 13th district has been moved to an entirely new location and the 2nd has taken over much of the previous 13th.  Thus, a map drawn by a Republican state legislature actually pits two Republicans against each other (of course, the new map will keep the 10-3 Republican gerrymander, just with more visually defensible districts).  From the N&O:

Republican U.S. Rep. George Holding of Raleigh – whose 13th District moves far to the west under new district maps approved Friday – plans now to run in the 2nd Congressional District against fellow Republican Renee Ellmers, his campaign consultant said Friday.

The announcement came hours before Chief Justice John Roberts said he would not grant the state’s request to halt a federal court panel’s ruling declaring North Carolina’s 1st and 13th districts to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The Feb. 6 ruling gave the legislature until Friday to redraw the districts. The full court has not weighed in on a challenge to the panel’s ruling on its merits and Roberts’ order issued late Friday only weighed whether to halt the effect of the panel’s ruling until a full hearing can be held.

In attempting to comply with the panel’s order the legislature altered the 1st and 12th district, but also significantly changed other districts. A large chunk of Holding’s current district joins the new 2nd District. Holding’s home is in the 4th District in the new plan – about 6 miles outside the new 2nd District – but candidates aren’t legally required to live inside their district.

Anyway, I realized as I was speaking to the reporter yesterday, I wasn’t strictly quotable, but did not go back and correct myself.  Enjoyed seeing my quote in this form today:

Steven Greene, a political scientist at N.C. State, said it’s highly unusual for two incumbents from the same party to be lumped together in a map drawn by their own party.

“That’s absolutely the sort of thing you do to the other party,” Greene said. “What did Renee Ellmers or George Holding do to (anger) the state legislature? Could they really not come up with a different map that didn’t pit two Republican incumbents against each other?”

So, I said “piss off” not anger.  I figured if he wanted to use that quote, he’d ask me to rephrase it, but that was a good compromise.  Anyway, the answer from Republican legislators is, yes, this is the best we could do, but I really do wonder if there’s not some backstory here that we don’t know about.  Regardless, as Greene says, it should make for a very interesting primary.

Quick hits (part I)

So much goodness this week. Let’s go:

1) Yglesias on Trump and 9/11

2) Interestingly, among other things replacing Scalia may give some hope for the Supreme Court actually doing something about extreme partisan gerrymandering.

3) Speaking of which, lots of big doings on the matter here in NC.  Rick Hasen on the latest.

4) Richard Posner’s epic takedown (from a few years ago) of the folly of Scalia’s much talked bout originalism.

5) Jedidiah Purdy’s new takedown of originalism:

Constitutional law is always controversial because judges encounter gaps in giving meaning to terms like “liberty,” “equality,” or “arms.” They must fill those gaps by deciding whether constitutional guarantees of liberty and equality offer same-sex couples the right to marry, as the Court did last year, in a ruling that seemed simple decency to many observers, outraged others, and would never have occurred to the people who ratified the Fourteenth Amendment. It is up to the Justices to discern whether the Second Amendment’s provision for armed state militias implied a frontier right to armed self-defense—and whether that right should survive the long-ago abolition of the militias to override municipal handgun laws today. Scalia’s severe originalism was a way of denying the interpretive gaps involved in deciding these questions…

Neither of these ideas would have been definite enough for Justice Scalia, who never gave a persuasive account of how his originalism could support the Brown decision. But they point to questions that have been too easy to ignore in the days since his death. Much of his jurisprudence protected the powerful, such as corporations with money to spend on elections, and white plaintiffs against affirmative action. And when he gave the Constitution a meaning taken from recent politics, such as the echoes between his Second Amendment jurisprudence and the National Rifle Association’s propaganda, his method concealed it. His originalism promised to hold the Constitution above politics, but his judicial opinions reinforced the impression that his judging was only politics by other means. The country is now entering a mess that bears his mark.

6) Interesting take on poor children and picky eating (on the personal downside, I have no poverty excuse for my kids’ crappy eating).

7) Jonathan Ladd with a really good take on the Scalia vacancy.  I thought this was an interesting (and apt) conclusion:

6)  As usual, everything is in the hands of Janet Yellen and the Fed

Scalia’s sudden death and the 4-4 partisan deadlock it creates reduces the importance of this Supreme Court term, while adding even more significance to the outcome of the fall presidential election. The most important thing that we know predicts presidential election outcomes is economic growth during the election year. Right now, economic growth is decent, but not fast enough to ensure that Democrats will hold the White House comfortably. Adding to the uncertainty, the Federal Reserve has recently begun pulling back the measures it took to prop up the economy after the 2008 financial crises. If tighter fiscal policy from the Fed slows growth, a Republican presidential victory in November will become likely. The power to possibly fill this Supreme Court vacancy and/or several others in the near future hangs in the balance.

8) 538 tells us that, interestingly, the same four operas (I’ve seen them all!) are performed over and over.

9) No, Donald Trump, torture does not work.  And even if it did, that would not make it a good idea.

10) Dahlia Lithwick on Obama’s ideal Supreme Court justice:

What Obama described then, time and time again, was a judicial capacity to look outside of one’s own life experience and to use the levers of the law and Constitution to help the voiceless and afflicted. Despite the many accolades we are hearing about Justice Scalia this week, that is simply not what he was about. As Peter Shane put it in Washington Monthly, Scalia could be known for “punching down.” And whatever the glories of textualism, originalism, and judicial humility, the unvarnished truth is that women, minorities, workers, LGBTQ Americans, immigrants, voters, capital defendants, and many others did not live in a world that was better for Justice Scalia’s brilliant mind. And in that sense, Obama could have been describing his ideal jurist as the polar opposite of Scalia.

11) In defense of seeing movies alone.  I do it fairly often.  It’s not actually a communal experience; my wife is not so big on movies; and some are still too adult for David.

12) Seth Masket on the whiteness of Sanders’ supporters.

13) Literally everything Ted Cruz said about Obamacare recently was untrue.

14) Max Ehrenfreud on what kind of a Democrat Hillary is:

Social Security is running out of money, and it will have to stop paying beneficiaries in full in less than 20 years, projections indicate. On the other hand, the Democratic base wants to see the program expanded. They feel that benefits aren’t generous enough, and that many elderly Americans who are living on Social Security can’t get by.

In the past week, Clinton has made clear that she is choosing principle over compromise, taking reductions in benefits off the bargaining table and talking in Thursday’s debate about expanding benefits for vulnerable groups.

To be sure, activists won’t be satisfied with her position, and Sanders will continue to criticize her as insufficiently liberal on the issue. Despite that, and although she has cast herself as the pragmatic, sensible alternative who could get things done in the White House, Clinton is actually running as a progressive, liberal Democrat, not a dealmaker.

15) A look on why scientists cannot agree on whether salt is killing us (count me firmly in the “it’s not” camp).

16) Drum on liberals heading down the hyperbolic path of Fox News conservatives.  Actually, I don’t think it’s new, I just think he’s noticing it more.

17) The case for doing away with the daily pledge of allegiance.  Honestly, whenever I’ve been in the kids’ school when this happens, it just strikes me as silly and archaic:

Frequently the teacher will answer that question by saying that nonparticipation is disrespectful of the troops, as if any student not taking a daily loyalty oath—something no other developed country expects from its youth—is thumbing her nose at America’s military men and women. Here we see how the pledge is a tool of American militarism, with the clear message: stand each day and pledge allegiance, kids, because our fighting men and women are out there protecting your freedoms. Not surprisingly, no public school offers a daily analysis of the country’s foreign policy to offset this not-so-subtle message of nationalism and militarism…

George Orwell, an authority on groupthink if ever there was one, wasn’t fond of nationalism. In his essay on the subject he warned against “the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.” Nationalism distorts one’s sense of reality, Orwell wrote, as well as one’s sense of right and wrong. “There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when ‘our’ side commits it.”

18) Here’s an idea, let’s arrest people for failure to repay student loans.  Yay America!

19) Depression screening should be part of primary care.

20) I find this theory for the Little Ice Age (which I first came across in 1493) so fascinating.

On the other hand, others argue that we’ve already been shaping the planet on a vast scale for much longer. Last year, a controversial study identified a surprisingly early date—1610—as a possible start for the Anthropocene for a truly haunting reason: That’s roughly when depopulation of Native Americans began reached its peak after initial prolonged contact with European missionaries. Depending on how many people were already here before the Europeans arrived with their guns, germs, and steel, as many as 50 to 90 percent of Native Americans perished over a span of little more than 100 years—that’s tens of millions of people.

That paper, and others, assert that this happened so suddenly that a continent’s worth of forests regrew, shifting weather patterns and reducing global carbon dioxide levels to the point of possibly triggering the “Little Ice Age”—a period of cooler temperatures concentrated in Europe that began around 1550 and lasted for about 300 years, though other dates are also used to define it—not long after Europeans first arrived in 1492. The resulting decline in carbon dioxide from the regrowth of America’s forests was detectable as far away as ice cores in Antarctica.

21) What exercise is best for the brain (of rats, at least).  I’m not telling, you have to click.  Okay, it’s running.

22) Love this idea for turning an old laptop into a Chromebook.

23) Loved Charles Pierce on last week’s Republican debate:

Well, there it was, on a stage in South Carolina, the prion disease that has been afflicting the Republican party since Ronald Reagan first fed it the monkeybrains almost 40 years ago broke out into the general population. During the ninth debate of the Republican candidates for president, we saw actual facts booed (by my count) three times before the first commercial break. We saw two sons of Cuban emigres duke it out over who can make the lives of Hispanic immigrants more miserable. We saw a vulgar talking yam dare to tell the truth about C-Plus Augustus while standing next to his brother, and we later saw the vulgar talking yam call Ted Cruz the biggest liar he’s ever seen. And still, after it was over, serious people got on the electric teevee machine to talk about who had the best night, and who won and who lost, and not one of them mentioned the obvious fact that one of our two major political parties suffered a complete mental meltdown on national television. The big winner was either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Rodham Clinton. The big loser was participatory democracy all the way back through history to Pericles. No wonder Ben Carson kept nodding off into the Western Isles. He was safer there.

Tell me truly—how does that spectacle not destroy the credibility of the Republican Party for at least a decade?
24) Time to call Kevin Bacon– dancing ban in Sweden.

25) Love the proposal for 18 year term limits for Supreme Court Justices with a new appointee every two years in odd years.

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