Scott Walker: not ready for primetime

On paper, Scott Walker looks great.  Elected multiple times from the blue state of Wisconsin.  Definitely governs from the right, yet has a milquetoast personality, and not that of a culture warrior (despite being one).  Sounds perfect for winning the Republican nomination.  Yet, somehow, despite all that success it seems that he’s not actually all that good a politician.  The evidence keeps mounting.

Sure, when everything you say is public record, pretty much all politicians says stupid things, but there are degrees.  And Scott Walker on our China policy is almost Palin-esque in it’s stupidity.  Yglesias:

Walker calls on President Obama to cancel an upcoming state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping — as punishment for, among other things, the fact that Chinese GDP growth is slowing down. Lest you think I’m exaggerating, here’s the full statement:

Americans are struggling to cope with the fall in today’s markets driven in part by China’s slowing economy and the fact that they actively manipulate their economy. Rather than honoring Chinese President Xi Jinping with an official state visit next month, President Obama should focus on holding China accountable over its increasing attempts to undermine US interests.

Given China’s massive cyberattacks against America, its militarization of the South China Sea, continued state interference with its economy, and persistent persecution of Christians and human rights activists, President Obama needs to cancel the state visit. There’s serious work to be done rather than pomp and circumstance. We need to see some backbone from President Obama in the US-China relationship.

In a nutshell, Walker’s three-step plan for fixing the US-China relationship seems to be:

  1. Cancel Xi’s state visit.
  2. Do unspecified “serious work.” Make sure not to hold any formal meetings with Chinese leaders, as that is not serious.
  3. China stops manipulating its currency, threatening its neighbors in the South China Sea, and persecuting dissidents. The Chinese stock market soars, and economic growth heats up. America wins.

Walker is trying to engage in a little Trump-style China bashing and show that, like any good neoconservative, he isn’t afraid of standing up to dictators. But his plan doesn’t make any sense, and leaves him looking a bit ridiculous. Powerful countries like China aren’t going to change their policies because an American president snubs them.


Jamelle Bouie had a nice piece recently, too, looking at the broader flailing of Walker’s campaign and how he seems to be being hurt by Trump:

As for Walker? Trump has him shook. On birthright citizenship, the Wisconsin governor has had three different answers. At the Iowa State Fair, he told MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt that he wanted to curb the practice. “To me it’s about enforcing the laws in this country. And I’ve been very clear, I think you enforce the laws, and I think it’s important to send a message that we’re going to enforce the laws, no matter how people come here we’re going to enforce the laws in this country,” he said. The following Friday he told CNBC that he wouldn’t take a stance on the issue. And this past Sunday, he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he doesn’t want to repeal or alter the provision at all. It’s clear, at this point, that he just doesn’t know what to say…

But even without Trump, it’s not clear that Walker could sail the rocky waters of a presidential campaign. At the GOP debate, for instance, he gave an answer on abortion that—if he’s the nominee—could come back to haunt him…That dodge—and the implication, to some ears, that he would let the mother die—is fertile ground for any Democrat who wants to use it…

But right now Walker looks like he’s on the wane. He’s not quite Tim Pawlenty—the doomed Minnesota governor who quit the 2012 Republican primary after poor showings in polls and onstage—but he’s coming uncomfortably close.

Yep.  There’s an Invisible Primary going on right now and Walker is definitely not faring well.  Personally, I’ll take it because as a Democrat, Walker actually scares me.  I think he’s just as nuts as somebody like Cruz, but far more palatable to a general election electorate.  Also, I actually do think he is none too bright– a trait best avoided in presidents.

What’s wrong with people in this country?

My wife asked me that this morning after the news of the latest shooting.   My response: Nothing that couldn’t be ameliorated with far more sensible policies regarding guns.  I really doubt that America has that many more crazy people inclined to shoot others than other nations.  What we have is a country where it is way easier for them to get guns.  And until that changes, there will be a drumbeat of stories like today’s.  We are literally sacrificing lives on the altar of “gun rights.”  I’m not the least bit optimistic that today’s shooting will change anything.  But maybe someday enough people will be sickened by, rather than inured to, this senseless, senseless litany of death.

Photo of the day

I’d never heard of the Grand Canyon Skywalk until I read a story about it this weekend.  Ummm, wow.

Brian Woychuk.  The Grand Canyon Skywalk at Grand Canyon West.


Still a good deal

Haven’t heard a lot about the Iran deal lately, but Drum with another good post on the matter.  Again, chances are really, really good that you in no way have the expertise (nor do I) to evaluate the deal, so all we can really do is evaluate who supports it.  And quite simply, the only serious opposition is the Republican Party in the United States.  That’s it.  There’s a whole damn world out there that thinks this is a good deal.  That really ought to count for something.  Drum:

The New York Times reports that the Iran deal is just a big yawn in Europe:

The matter is settled, according to Camille Grand, director of the Strategic Research Foundation in Paris and an expert on nuclear nonproliferation. “In Europe, you don’t have a constituency against the deal,” he said. “In France, I can’t think of a single politician or member of the expert community who has spoken against it, including some of us who were critical during the negotiations.”

Mr. Grand said the final agreement was better than he had expected. “I was surprised by the depth and the quality of the deal,” he said. “The hawks are satisfied, and the doves don’t have an argument.”

No arguments? I got your arguments right here. 24 days! Self-inspections! $150 billion! Death to America! Neville Chamberlain!

If the Europeans have no arguments against the deal, they aren’t even trying. They should try calling the Republican Party for a set of serious, detailed, and principled talking points.

Who you going to listen to?  The whole damn world, or the people who think Donald Trump would be a good president and that the world is not heating up.

What’s public education for anyway?

This from John Green is three years old, but a friend shared it today with NC schools starting this week.  I sure wish our legislators were smart enough to understand it’s message.

Gun correlations

As you’ve surely heard a million times, correlation is not causation.  But it can be suggestive.  Do more guns cause more gun deaths?  Maybe.  Are more guns correlated with more gun deaths?  Absolutely.  Does the evidence suggest that states that have fewer guns and countries that have fewer guns will have fewer gun deaths?  Yes.  We cannot know for sure, but given that we are talking about deaths, this seems like something we might at least want to try.  Anyway, nice Vox post on 17 charts on how America is unique in gun violence and I find these two correlations especially interesting:

These are far from perfect relationships and there’s surely a host of cultural factors and related policies, but substantially reducing our number of guns would likely reduce our number of gun deaths.  Of course, that’s not going to happen anytime soon thanks to the “out of my cold dead hands” crowd, but let’s not pretend things couldn’t be better.

Young people will vote when… they are older

Really liked this Pacific Standard piece from Seth Masket because it takes on one of my own favorite tropes– how young people today are such bad voters.  Young people always always vote on lower rates than older people.  Then they get older, vote, and write stupid columns complaining about young people not voting.  Masket:

Last week in the Boston Globe, Joanna Weiss noted efforts by campaigns to get younger people to vote, ranging from President Obama’s appearance on Between Two Ferns to Ted Cruz’s machine-gun bacon cooking and Simpsons references. As Weiss notes, getting young people to vote is a longstanding issue for campaigns. But, she adds:

The problem is getting worse. Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, director of CIRCLE, a Tufts-based center that studies civic engagement among young Americans, said the percentage of 18-to-29-year-olds who voted in the 2014 midterm elections was 19.9, the lowest ever recorded, and significantly below the 24 percent who voted in 2010.

Is the problem actually getting worse? Not really. Indeed, as the graphs on Weiss’ article show, younger voters have always turned out in lower numbers than older voters in mid-term elections, and by a pretty consistent margin…

Younger voters consistently vote in lower percentages, usually by around 20 to 25 percentage points. Why? It’s pretty simple: they have less experience voting. Lots of research suggests that voting is habitual—the more you’ve done it, the more likely you are to do it again. Younger voters simply haven’t developed the habit yet.

Voter turnout, 1948-2008.

So why was youth turnout in the 2014 mid-terms so dismal. Because turnout at all ages was dismal… [emphasis in original]

I’ll add that it’s not just habit.  Voting also correlates with residential stability, stable employment, marriage, etc.,– thinks that are all more common in your thirties than 18-25.  So, please stop worryinng about young people not voting.  Worry about all people not voting and you’ll get more young people, too.  Just don’t ever expect them to vote at the same rates.


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