Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Another Republican Waterloo? (Hint: Immigration)


Obama may be dumb, but he's not stupid.

If Ron Brownstein's reporting is to be believed, Barack Obama is set to change the stakes of the immigration reform battle with an executive order protecting undocumented workers with children who are U.S. citizens from deportation. This could affect as much as 50 percent of the 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. today.

Republicans will erupt in fury, but they do so at their peril:
Such a move would infuriate Republicans, both because the border crisis has deepened their conviction that any move toward legalization inspires more illegal migration and because the president would be bypassing Congress. They would likely challenge an Obama order through both legislation and litigation. Every 2016 GOP presidential contender could feel compelled to promise to repeal the order.
Those would be momentous choices for a party already struggling to attract Hispanics and Asian-Americans. Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership initiative at the conservative American Principles Project, warns that if Republicans "again fall for the trap" and try to overturn an Obama legalization plan without offering an alternative path to legal status, the party will condemn itself to another lopsided deficit among Hispanics—and to a likely defeat—in 2016. David Ayon, senior adviser to the polling firm Latino Decisions, says that if Republicans erupt against an Obama legalization initiative, it "could turn the Latino vote as ruggedly anti-Republican as the black vote."
On many fronts, Obama seems to be only reacting to events. But on immigration, as on other social issues such as gay rights and contraception, he is driving decisions that could shape the two parties for years—and cement the Democratic hold on the coalition of growing demographic groups that powered his two victories.
Oh yeah. Let the games begin.

The surge of child refugees may have delayed Obama, but it won't deter him.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back to the Future: It's the Cold War All Over Again


Vladimir Putin: He'll sputter out just like the Soviet Union. Of course, it'll be messy.

I spotted this blog post by TPM's Josh Marshall, and I agree with his assessment: The shootdown of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over rebel-held eastern Ukraine is a game changer. Check the declining polls for Putin and Russia, before the shootdown. Imagine the polls now, especially as the rebels run roughshod over what should be a solemn duty to the dead and to the investigation of what caused this crime against humanity.

Though I don't respect California Senator Diane Feinstein as much as I did before she became such a mainstream centrist, I do agree with her that we've slipped back into full-on cold war with Russia. It certainly is back to the future on this one.

Commentators all over the map are fond of saying Russians are chess players, and so we should view Vladimir Putin's moves as carefully calculated. Yes, Putin may be playing well back on the Russian stage, but out in the world, Putin is single-handedly driving Russia's reputation into a ditch, one he won't easily extricate it from.

The world will soon accept that the state of things in eastern Ukraine are Putin's doing, and so is the fate of flight MH17. He as good as shot it down himself, he's that culpable. When you go around throwing bombs and one of them inadvertently causes death and mayhem, it's your show. Putin should know this by now.

I had imagined a few weeks back that he'd learned his lesson and backed off just in time. Then he thought, "Wait, I can get away with some more mischief before the West catches on." Trouble was, he was busted, and Obama slapped more sanctions on him, with the EU piling on just a little. Now, with the passenger-plane shootdown, Putin drowning in his own soup. He'll splash around for awhile, thinking he can play fast and loose when no one looking again, but that isn't going to work.

Why? The U.S. and Europe can ride out a bump in relations, but Russia can't. Its economy is dependent on Europe more than Europe is dependent on Russian oil, gas, and resources. Sure, Russia can make nice with China, but that only goes so far. Then it has to make nice with China, and  there can be high opportunity costs.

Undoubtedly, things won't go exactly the way I hope they will. Europe won't cut Russia off. But as things grow tougher in Russia, as they most certainly will, the Russian people may tire of Putin's counterproductive antics. He may then only get by with Stalinesque tactics. He may stay in power but lose the love of the people. Then he becomes a punk in the eyes of the world, including the Russian people.

Then it's only a matter of time. Putin -- and his brand of skinhead behavior -- will be on his way out, sooner or later.

You can lock up Pussy Riot, but you can't lock up your nation, forever.

Thanks to TPM's excellent reporting.

Republicans to Recalibrate Their Immigration Policy? (hahahahahahahahaha)


America, America, God shed His grace on thee!

I choose pictures to run with my opinion pieces (What is it I write exactly?) that I hope are representative of the topic. In this case, a snarky caption is meant to catch the irony -- or the emotion -- of a particular set of people engaged in a particular action. In this case, I'm showing a group of white individuals stopping the federal government from moving children from overcrowded immigrant processing centers to less crowded ones.

Fact: The children will end up in some processing center or another without being summarily expelled from the country. So, the protest we see above amounts to just so much hate-inspired froth. Unpleasant though it might be, the reality is that it's ineffective, beyond perpetrating a belief system, one that many of us truly hope amounts to a death rattle, a twitch of the corpse, if you will, of white America's racist xenophobia.

That belief system is Republican-sponsored "We-ism" or "Me-ism" (We're the real America, WE DON'T WANT YOU!!). In other words, conservative white Christians hate brown children, especially if they're trying to get into the Real America of conservative white Christians.

Or maybe all the people in the photo are Obama supporters, you know, bleeding-heart liberals.

Not likely, or am I missing something?

Not likely. So when I read a NYTimes article stressing that the GOP are treading a fine line and if they're not going to lose Hispanic voters, they might want to, I don't know, try to not appear like the most hate-filled, xenophobic dicks imaginable. Oops, too late. But oh, they must try:
Today, as a wave of unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America poses a new crisis for Congress and the White House, Republicans are struggling to calibrate a response that is both tough and humane, mindful of the need to reconcile their freighted history with Hispanic voters and the passions of a conservative base that sees any easing of immigration rules as heresy.
Mmmkay. Let's see, what would a tough and humane way to deal with these children be that would make the Hispanics more likely to vote for white conservatives? I know: Let's give them all teddy bears before deporting them? Apparently that's Glenn Beck's approach. However:
As Breitbart News noted, "Beck did acknowledge that not everyone who is unlawfully entering the country, though, is an innocent child," and "said he did not mean to say that conservatives who oppose his efforts are not compassionate or good-hearted." 
Beck has delivered a monologue subtitled in Spanish urging parents not to send their kids to America and demanded that the children be sent back home. He said it was his hope that the illegal immigrant children ultimately return to their countries and think the Americans they met were "amazing." Beck hoped that the children would decide to make something of themselves in their home countries and try to come to America the right way in the future.
Thanks for clearing that up, Glenn. First, give them teddy bears, then demand they be sent home immediately but urge them of course to make something of themselves before returning to the great, great, great America of their dreams, the "right way."

I get it. The kids deserve to be here the "right way," but for now, get the fuck out. Calibrate that, Republicans.

These patriotic Americans are talking about...


...these children.

We understand, or should, the plight of these refugees. (They are, in fact, refugees.) Beyond the petty, fear-mongering, hate-filled politics of it, the GOP could act like humans if they cared to. Fat chance.

Say what you will, shills for the Republican Party. There will be no calibration. Just weird-ass braying. Yep, I hear it here, there, Murieta, and everywhere. Good on ya, GOP. You make America proud.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Obamacare Denialists: It's Blinders Now, Blinders Forever


Paul Krugman makes the best case yet that the GOP will run their Obama hatred into the ground before they'll acknowledge that a conservative healthcare plan that was hatched to oppose Hillarycare all those years ago, while not as good as single-payer, is working quite well, thank you.

No thanks to you, GOP.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Americans -- Including Republicans -- Like Their Obamacare


You'd think from this picture that only white people hate Obamacare. Funny
thing is you'd be right, except now the majority of white people like it, too!

In the who-thought-this-was-happening-while-we-hated-Obamacare department, it turns out that not only is Obamacare working the way it was designed -- except in Republican states who refuse to take federal money to insure the uninsured -- but it's also wildly popular, you guessed it, among Republicans.
What was more surprising is that people who got the new coverage were generally happy with the product. Overall, 73 percent of people who bought health plans and 87 percent of those who signed up for Medicaid said they were somewhat or very satisfied with their new health insurance. Seventy-four percent of newly insured Republicans liked their plans. Even 77 percent of people who had insurance before—including members of the much-publicized group whose plans got canceled last year—were happy with their new coverage.
How many Republicans are going to campaign this fall on repealing Obamacare? Probably a lot, because reality isn't how they roll. They roll on fear and loathing. But we're onto them. Hope their base get weirder. OMG, is there any room left for that?

Go Obamacare!

Why Convservatives Don't Want to Help the Economy


Just leave it to the markets. They're always right, right?

Paul Krugman pointed out the obvious in today's column:
Who are these always-wrong, never-in-doubt critics [of expansionary monetary policy]? With no exceptions I can think of, they come from the right side of the political spectrum. But why should right-wing sentiments go hand in hand with inflation paranoia? One answer is that using monetary policy to fight slumps is a form of government activism. And conservatives don’t want to legitimize the notion that government action can ever have positive effects, because once you start down that path you might end up endorsing things like government-guaranteed health insurance.
He goes on to point out that, additionally, the wealthy elite benefit from higher interest rates -- which drive up unemployment -- because they derive more of their income from interest income.

But his main point is that conservatives don't want economic success for America if it demonstrates what government can do to help its citizens. After all, that's socialism! Isn't it?

Well, no, that's sensible government action when needed. You'd think we'd all want that, but you'd be wrong.

Free Markets Get Things Right Eventually. Or Not.


Circular logic at its best, or worst:


I've enjoyed Jeff Macke in the past. His droll, quirky-jerky interview style is different. But then he had to open his "capitalism rocks!" yap and editorialize.

Now the smarter amongst us might have thought, "No, capitalism doesn't always get it right if left to "its own pace." In fact, that's the problem: If left to its own devices you get Gordon Gecko more than you get Mother Teresa.

Where am I wrong here? Sorry, Jeff Macke. There is a reason the SEIU asks for $15 for fast-food workers. It's a living wage, something free markets don't want to give to workers. That's why government is needed, and that's to fix markets hellbent on whatever the market will bear. Okay?