The Montgomery Burns party

You would be inclined to think that Republican Party was just being cruelly caricatured by Democrats if they did not so thoroughly embrace every worst stereotype of them just looking out for the richest Americans.  It really is kind of amazing.  EJ Dionne:

The GOP bill that should be called the Cut Taxes on President Trump and Other Very Rich People Act of 2017 always had a secondary purpose: to jack up the deficit so Republicans could later cry out in horror, “Look at that awful debt!” They would then use the pools of red ink they created to justify deep cuts in social programs.

But people who call themselves conservative are shoveling out so much money so fast to corporations and the privileged that they needed some health-care cuts upfront — at the expense of coverage for millions of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

And so on Tuesday, the Senate majority took an appalling bill and made it even more atrocious. To their ungainly concoction of tax breaks for the various interests that support them, they added the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

The GOP bill that should be called the Cut Taxes on President Trump and Other Very Rich People Act of 2017 always had a secondary purpose: to jack up the deficit so Republicans could later cry out in horror, “Look at that awful debt!” They would then use the pools of red ink they created to justify deep cuts in social programs.

But people who call themselves conservative are shoveling out so much money so fast to corporations and the privileged that they needed some health-care cuts upfront — at the expense of coverage for millions of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

And so on Tuesday, the Senate majority took an appalling bill and made it even more atrocious. To their ungainly concoction of tax breaks for the various interests that support them, they added the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

Forget about rhetoric.  When it comes to putting the priorities into legislation the Republicans are crystal clear what they are about.  Tax cuts for rich people.  Period.

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The infallible Donald Trump

This Politico article on PA Trump supporter who see him as god-like and incapable of doing any wrong is pretty amazing.  Well worth reading in full.  That said:

What I heard from Schilling is overwhelmingly what I heard in my follow-up conversations with people here who I talked to last year as well. Over the course of three rainy, dreary days last week, I revisited and shook hands with the president’s base—that thirtysomething percent of the electorate who resolutely approve of the job he is doing, the segment of voters who share his view that the Russia investigation is a “witch hunt” that “has nothing to do with him,” and who applaud his judicial nominees and his determination to gut the federal regulatory apparatus. But what I wasn’t prepared for was how readily these same people had abandoned the contract he had made with them. Their satisfaction with Trump now seems untethered to the things they once said mattered to them the most.

I don’t know that he has done a lot to help,” Frear told me. Last year, she said she wouldn’t vote for him again if he didn’t do what he said he was going to do. Last week, she matter-of-factly stated that she would. “Support Trump? Sure,” she said. “I like him.” …

I asked Schilling what would happen if the next three years go the way the past one has.

“I’m not going to blame him,” Schilling said. “Absolutely not.”

Is there anything that could change her mind about Trump?

“Nope,” she said.

It’s almost as if something else, not economic discontent and anxiety as at the core of support for Trump.  But what could it be?

His supporters here, it turns out, are energized by his bombast and his animus more than any actual accomplishments. For them, it’s evidently not what he’s doing so much as it is the people he’s fighting. Trump is simply and unceasingly angry on their behalf, battling the people who vex them the worst—“obstructionist” Democrats, uncooperative establishment Republicans, the media, Black Lives Matter protesters and NFL players (boy oh boy do they hate kneeling NFL players) whom they see as ungrateful, disrespectful millionaires…

“You’re not a fan of equality?” I asked.

“For people who deserve it and earn it,” he said. “All my ancestors, Italian, 100 percent Italian, the Irish, Germans, Polish, whatever—they all came over here, settled in places like this, they worked hard and they earned the respect. They earned the success that they got. Some people don’t want to do that. They just want it handed to them.”

“Like NFL players?” I said.

“Well,” Del Signore responded, “I hate to say what the majority of them are …” He stopped himself short of what I thought he was about to say.

Schilling and her husband, however, did not restrain themselves.

“The thing that irritates me to no end is this NFL shit,” Schilling told me in her living room. “I’m about ready to go over the top with this shit. We do not watch no NFL now.” They’re Dallas Cowboys fans. “We banned ’em. We don’t watch it.”

Schilling looked at her husband, Dave McCabe, who’s 67 and a retired high school basketball coach. She nodded at me. “Tell him,” she said to McCabe, “what you said the NFL is …”

McCabe looked momentarily wary. He laughed a little. “I don’t remember saying that,” he said unconvincingly.

Schilling was having none of it. “You’re the one that told me, liar,” she said.

She looked at me.

The NFL?

“Niggers for life,” Schilling said.

“For life,” McCabe added.

‘Nuff said.

The case for voting for Roy Moore

Seriously.  And, in another case of a favorite writer making the very case that I did with my class yesterday, Chait makes the case for Republicans sticking for Roy Moore.

Republicans have begun to nervously edge away from their party’s nominee for Alabama senator. Not all have abandoned him, though. Alabama Republican and member of Congress Mo Brooks provides an especially forthright version of the case for sticking with Moore. “Who will vote in America’s best interests on Supreme Court justices, deficit and debt, economic growth, border security, national defense, and the like?” he asks, “Socialist Democrat Doug Jones will vote wrong. Roy Moore will vote right. Hence, I will vote for Roy Moore.”

Put aside the absurd labeling of Jones as a “socialist,” as well as the fact that I don’t personally share any of Brooks and Moore’s policy goals. Isn’t this logic actually pretty compelling? As horrific as Moore’s personal character may be, why should his abuse of a small number of people matter more than decisions affecting 300 million people?…

Still, the motivation is understandable. In the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats need to gain three Senate seats to control the majority. Two of them, in Nevada and Arizona, lie within easy reach. The third seat would require a huge upset in deep red territory. If Democrats win a seat in Alabama, then a Democratic Senate in 2019 grows vastly more likely…

It’s easy to feel superior about this when opposition to grotesque treatment of teenage girls lines up neatly with your own party’s well-being. If you’re a liberal, ask yourself what you would do if the circumstances were reversed. Give the other party a Senate seat and a possible majority, and forfeit your control of staffing the Cabinet, appointing judges, and passing laws you consider vital for the country’s future? Or allow one of the votes for those things to be cast by a sexual predator?

Yep, yep, yep.  I would fervently hope my party would find a way to replace the sexual predator in this scenario (i.e., Luther Strange write-in campaign), but absent that, would I really want to vote for a Republican if I thought control of the Supreme Court and the fate of the ACA was at stake?  It today’s super-polarized world, even most Senators are little more than cogs in a Republican machine (McCain, Collins, Murkowski notably otherwise).  Moore would 95 out of 100 times just be another cog.  Does it really matter what the cog has done?  Maybe it does and we need to set some clear lines– no being a sexual predator!– but I think there’s very much a case for accepting that even a Senator is just a cog and that you are voting for a party, not an individual.  And for the record, the President, is no cog.

Roy Moore was always  unqualified

so loved this from Dahlia Lithwick because it’s so important and so overlooked.  Not to mention, I made this very argument to my class yesterday:

But the idea that it might be the alleged molesting of multiple teenage girls and women that could prove disqualifying for Moore, rather than his decadeslong contempt for the law, the courts, and the Constitution, tells us how very far we have strayed from our legal moorings at this moment in history.

Roy Moore has long been the Joe Arpaio of the state judicial branch. He is revered not for his compliance with the rule of law, but for his long-standing performance of figurative—and literal—contempt for any legal ruling or norm with which he disagrees. [emphases mine] Like Arpaio, he has been repeatedly disciplined for acts of contempt towards the courts over the years. And yet this behavior was rewarded with a Republican nomination for a Senate seat that has been a virtual lock for the party…

Brazen, unapologetic contempt for the rule of law is not often a trait associated with judges, much less justices. Yet, this has long been Moore’s calling card and a rallying cry for his loyal supporters. Moore’s patent defiance of the most fundamental tenets of American law should have disqualified him from public office years ago. The opposite has happened: He has been unerringly rewarded for it. We are talking about Moore’s alleged abuse because it represents depraved criminality. But his open lawlessness has been on display for decades.

I guess it’s good to know that there are some lines.  And, sure, I’m glad many Republicans won’t tolerate Moore’s horrible and criminal behavior.  But, damn it I wish they actually cared about the rule of law.  Moore has built his career on flouting it.  He at least denies sexually abusing teen girls.  So, yeah, I’m glad that it makes it much less likely Moore becomes a senator, but, damn, it would be nice if such obvious, blatant, transparent disregard for rule of law actually meant something, too.

The reality of free speech

Pretty nice feature from Cato on Free Speech and tolerance for different opinions.  Some of the key charts:

 

Yes, some pretty disturbing stuff there.  But, ugh, this one:

Changing America

I saw this really cool CNN feature on America’s changing demographics and thought “that has to be Ron Brownstein at work.”  Yes, indeed it is.  Nobody analyzes America’s changing demographics and the political implications like Brownstein.  So much good stuff in here.  Some highlights:

Demographically, the nation is living through the most profound transformation since the Melting Pot era at the turn of the 20th century. Almost 40% of the total population is now non-white, roughly double the share in 1980. Among the young, the change is even more accelerated. Kids of color represent about half of all Americans 10 and younger, and since 2014, they have constituted a majority of all K-12 public school students nationwide. William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, has calculated that from 2000 to 2014, not only did whites decline as a share of the under 18 population in 46 of the 50 states – but so did the absolute number of white kids. “The 2020 census is going to show that the under 18 population is majority minority, same as the under 10 population now is, and that there is an absolute decline of white youth in the US,” Frey predicts flatly.

Closely related to the nation’s growing diversity is the increasing prominence of immigrants. People born abroad now constitute about 14% of all Americans. That’s the highest total since the years around World War I and nearly triple the 5% level in 1965, when Congress replaced the restrictive laws from the 1920s that had severely limited immigration for four decades. Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research at the Pew Research Institute, projects that under current law, first-generation immigrants will exceed 15% of the population by some time around 2025, breaking the previous record high reached in 1890.

More racial diversity has contributed to another tectonic shift: Increasing religious pluralism. For almost all of American history, people who identified as both white and Christian represented a majority of the American population. Through the 1960s, about eight in 10 Americans identified as white Christians. That number had declined to only slightly less than seven-in-10 by the time of Ronald Reagan’s reelection in 1984 and still stood at nearly two-in-three when Bill Clinton won his second term in 1996.

But the steady increase in the non-white population, and a steady decline in the share of Americans who identify with any Christian faith, pushed white Christians below half of the population for the first time around 2012, according to surveys of religious preference by Pew and others. That erosion has continued unabated since: an extensive PRRI poll recently found that white Christians had fallen to just 43% of the population. Non-white Christians account for just over one-fifth of the population while Americans unaffiliated with any religious faith now represent nearly one-in-four.

“It looks like one party that is holding on to a 1950s America’s demographics and increasingly looks like a white Christian party that is going to be perpetually tempted toward nationalist parties around that identity,” says Jones, author of the 2016 book The End of White Christian America. “And then we have a Democratic Party that is following these (demographic and economic) changes, and might, on the other hand, be tempted to double down on (pursuing) everyone but white Christians. In a country with a two party system that is a pretty volatile mix: Race, religion and identity overlaid with partisanship.”

Indeed. Shorter version: if you see those three charts and think “that scares the hell out of me” you are almost surely a Republican, but if you think, “interesting, I’m okay with that” you are almost surely a Democrat.

Maybe Sandy Hook led to some real change

There’s a fairly common recent pattern on public opinion about gun control.  Mass shooting leads to spike in support for more gun control followed by reversion to the mean.  In this posting, Gallup returns to the particular question– do we need new laws or to enforce existing ones– first asked after Sandy Hook, and it looks like there’s actually some lasting change:

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Not exactly an overwhelming majority for new laws (of course, if you ask about specific new laws like universal background checks, is huge majorities), but modestly encouraging to see that on this abstract level of thinking about the issue, there’s been real and lasting change in our age of mass shooting massacres.

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