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October 30, 2014

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My sense about Republicans is that they play politics like white South Africans in the 1980s. They're looking down the abyss of demographic oblivion, doing absolutely everything they can to stave off the inevitable. They lie, deflect, preen, and accuse. They do all that with verve, studied outrage, and sorrowful sincerity. They are, to be only slightly uncharitable, sociopaths.

From the beginning of the Obama presidency, they made it clear what their intentions were. Do everything possible to frustrate effective governance of this nation in order to blame Obama for the outcomes of their vandalism. They've succeeded. Most people don't pay attention to anything beyond the media frenzy du jour (playing at a theater near you, Ebola!!!). Middle Americans are hip with their own cynicism. They're ignorant of political process, history, and the complex exigencies of government. Accordingly, everything would be so simple if only (fill in the blank). In that blissfully dumb "wisdom" of the people, the False Equivalency reigns supreme. Both parties are guilty but Democrats pay the price because they're the "ins". Ergo, Obama needed to "reach out" and failed. Republicans "bargained in good faith" but Obama is arrogant. Democrats can't get the economy on track so let's try Voodoo again. ISIS proves that only Republicans can protect America.

Obama is a virtual Eisenhower Republican, cautious and uninspired. It hardly matters that he's not this post-colonial Kenyan Marxist thug. Republicans tell themselves all that because they're tribalizing around their hatred of a Democrat with anything they can make up. The ugliness of it has less to do with race (although Republicans are serenely comfortable with racist memes for some reason). It's more to do with defending their "culture" (Fox News, all-white suburbs, spectator sports, chain restaurants, Christmas, etc.) from the "others". The Cold Civil War is about defending this pointless culture. The Republican Party's role is that of a revolutionary vanguard leading a Back to Mayberry movement.

Does anyone really know what Republican policies are aside from enriching the rich, and deregulating corporations? This is why this election is really about nothing more than a sour mood and blissful idiocy. Once again, we're getting the government we deserve. As HL Mencken said, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

http://www.buzzfeed.com/conzpreti/reasons-why-you-need-to-move-to-uruguay-in-2014

You really lost me with the hateful tone and presupposed facts. I'm neither Republican or Democrat, because they BOTH work against each other. Avoid the partisan argument. its a waste of time, and doesnt further your cause. always liked the posts about old time Phoenix.

It's really no surprise to me that the GOP is going to succeed this fall running as anti Obama. Just look at the way many Democrats on the ropes are avoiding his support.

No meaningful legislative advances on immigration or tax policy. No meaningful economic advances for the middle class and below. Foreign policy that tends to mirror the Bush policy that he campaigned against. GITMO still open. The arbitrary regulatory modifications of Obamacare.

When he rants about having a pen and a phone, he's basically surrendered. I can't lead; I can't bring people together, I can't trade this for that.

Here's the deal with the gridlock. I didn't vote for or against Harry Reid.
Or John Boehner. Or Ted Cruz.

But everyone gets a vote for the White House. He's suppose to lead. He's suppose to rise above. He's suppose to trade this for that. He's suppose to get things done. He's suppose to keep the buck from stopping. He's not suppose to stand up and whine about what jackasses the other side is- even if they are.

I have no idea if anyone could have done any better. But the cold hard reality is that by nature and by nurture (the GOP), the mid terms are being cast as a referendum on Obama. And that's why the GOP advance will be significant.

And Soleri is right. We will get the government we deserve.

Just like 2008 and 2012.

The only guy making sense is this guy:

http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2014/10/putin-to-western-elites-play-time-is.html

The Democrats did themselves a disservice by not parading President Obama -- midterms are all about getting the base out and the Republicans do it better (still waiting on that Democrat Hispanic vote to come out). The clouds are gathering.

Yes, I agree that President Obama is a conservative. He is a fiscal conservative, which I happen to like! I agree with Sullivan that, “his economic record is about as impressive as it gets under the brutal circumstances he inherited.” And, while healthcare reform has been a priority for many administrations (http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/sotu) – President Obama got it done!
I think it may appear as though Democrats are running “fast away”, but I speculate this is only because of the political makeup of the contested seats. I think Dems are looking to the future. I hear that Hillary is receiving a warm welcome, especially with other female Governors and Senate candidates. I think that a loss of Senate seats for Dems now bodes well for them in 2016.

Bravo Soleri!

Was it Republican Senator McConnell that proclaimed during the first Obama administration, "Our [party's]number one priority is to prevent Obama's re-election to a second term."? Something like that anyway.

It mattered not what Obama did because good negotiated legislation might reflect well on the Presidency and contrary to the number one goal of the Republican Party: get Obama out. Time and again Republicans put their own partisan interests above governance.


I saw Chris Christie the other day giving the GOP base a man-crush by telling yet another voter "buddy", telling him to shut up, and exhibiting behavior more suitable to a beat cop in Harlem than a governor of a state. Apparently, he thinks he can raise his presidential prospects from the dead with this boorish behavior. Don't discount it. Republicans love bullies and Christie knows it.

Imagine for a nanosecond Obama doing something like this. Imagine the howls of outrage from conservatives on the intertubes, AM radio, and Fox News. Of course, it's not Obama's style. He's not a confrontationalist. He's a typical consensus pol, careful and diplomatic. Yet somehow Republicans blame him for the stalemate in Washington, which originated from their decision to obstruct virtually every proposal and every nominee of his that came before Congress.

We can argue all day about Obama's effectiveness, or lack thereof, when it comes to the political give and take of Washington. What we can't argue about is who started it, their utter and complete cynicism, nor their theatrical disdain for majority rule. Republicans practice the politics of id, an almost tribal blood lust that expresses itself in contempt and ridicule for their opponents. I have yet to see Obama stooping to that level. He's maintained his dignity in the face of near-constant piggishness from the likes of Mitch McConnell and John McCain. I wish Obama was more of a street fighter, but he understands he's the president, a position that confers dignity and demands the same from its holder.

I have no patience for reality inversions. If you think Obama overreached by signing the Republican health-care plan into law, state so, but don't come here and make up bullshit about Obama creating gridlock. Obama's critics on the left have just cause to feel upset. The charlatans and drama queens on the right have none at all. What they have is chutzpah. And what they deserve is the contempt they unleashed so brazenly in our political discourse. History will judge these saboteurs harshly. Personally, I'm not going to wait.

All I know is that my wife and I, both Independents, submitted our early ballot votes for DuVal. Not because he would make a good governor, but because he would not be the train wreck Ducey will be. Thanks to the feckless efforts of the democratic party in AZ, it appears that Ducey will win.

When that happens we will wish for the sane days of the Brewer governorship.

The Duecy/Sherrod governorship will take Arizona from a comedy to a catastrophe.

Of course Obama has both created and maintained gridlock. The very nature of the term as used in the politcal process requires two sides, each willing to maintain the staus quo rather than make a change or a series of changes. But neither side alone can create or maintain it. And neither side can avoid blame for it.

Neither side could create (nor maintain) gridlock if they had the votes (Note the arm twisting to get Obamacare passed- attempted gridlock by the GOP was unsuccesful).

Here. This is gridlock:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/30/obama-vows-veto-house-border-bill/?page=all#!

Now, you may applaud Obama's view on the issue. You may think it more Republican House madness. But he clearly maintained gridlock by accepting the status quo over a suggested change.

I've said it before about President Obama: the most quotable thing he never said was " Here's my bottom line, but I'm willing to settle for less."
He clearly had the opportunity to stand up for the middle class ( remember the flap about the expiration of the "Bush" tax-cuts?) but hasn't.
He's stayed too cozy with those who looted the economy and I'm afraid that Ms Clinton will be in their pocket also.
The only sure prediction one can make is that it's gonna be ugly.

INPHX, I argue with naifs like you all the time. Apparently, threatening a veto in your view is creating gridlock. No, it's called ordinary politics. A president gets to do that. It's in the Constitution. What isn't in the Constitution? Things like the 60-vote minimum in the Senate to pass legislation along with the filibuster itself. Also, the use of holds to prevent the president from appointing judges and executive-branch officials. More broadly, it's the nihilistic politics of total opposition to ordinary governance. You know: when Republicans blame the government for everything they don't like, thus creating the ideological rationale for gridlock you laughably impute to Obama.

I don't know you so I don't want to jump to a conclusion that you're an extremist who would actually want to see the government of the U.S. fail, as during the GOP-engineered debt-ceiling crisis of 2011. But even if you're simply a partisan hack who reflexively defends the Party of No, you are required to show how these tactics are not radically new and destructive to self-government. Yes, you may think government is inefficient but you can't rationally assert that the gridlock you blame Obama for is not central to the Republican playbook itself. See: Mitch McConnell and his vow to make Obama a one-term president.

This is reality-based blog so don't take any of this personally. You believe stupid things because you your anti-empirical, corporatist party has interests that don't include the public. Of course, we liberals are the real "elitists" because we believe in education, science, progress, and compromise. Our interest is to get things done even if it occasionally means swallowing nails as during the Grand Bargain negotiations of 2011, which gave your Party of No more than 90% of what it wanted. Liberals were growling fiercely about the cuts to SS and Medicare but guess who scuttled the negotiations? Yep, your party. I bet you blame Obama for that, too.

Do Republicans care more about this country or their own party? The answer seems clear. Next Tuesday, it appears ready to send extremists like Tom Cotton and Joni Ernst to the US Senate. There is no comparable Democrat on the Lunatic Continuum. Your party is radicalized to the point where secession itself is openly discussed. A cautious centrist like Obama may fight back here and there, but the Overton window (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window) has moved so far to the right he no longer qualifies as a traditional liberal. This nation is in a crisis because of right-wing extremists capturing a major political party - yours - and holding the federal government hostage to its ideological agenda.

Soleri:

I'll avoid name calling; it's really beneath this blog. But apparently not beneath you.

Gee. Imagine a party using the 60 vote minimum and the related filibuster to torpedo legislation. Must be something brand new that only the most recent Congress has used. Wonder who came up with it? Boehner? Cruz?

And the horrors of blocked nominations!! More recent GOP hijinks, I suppose. Ever been "Borked"??

And just maybe you can let me know why Harry Reid has let 18 out of 1500 Senate amendments to even be voted on. Must be for God and Country!!

http://online.wsj.com/articles/democrats-against-harry-reid-1403825300


You try to keep things so simple. GOP- bad, scorched earth, racist, country hating Nazis. That way it's easy to demonize something like maybe some tweaks in something as simple and as fair as existing corporate tax policy. Or maybe a suggestion that more money may not be the best answer for education. Or maybe open borders is not really an immigration policy.

I think after a fairly short duration here, I'm out. And I'm sure you could care less. I'd hate to ruffle feathers around here- better yet, you and the rest just keep whistling past the graveyard, patting each other on the back and cheerleading for all things left.

The good news is now I have a much better sense why there is so much bipartisanship in this Country.

Naïf and maybe partisan hack. Pretty rough! The Whaaaambulance is on its way.

INPHX, 1400 of the 1500 amendments that Republicans submitted were the exact same defund Obamacare plea.

Suzanne:

About 800 of the amendments were proposed by Republicans; the other 700 (or so) were proposed by Democrats.

Given that fact, do you need to re-think anything?

Sorry I came back in, but I just could not resist that large of an error in what the article actually says.

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2014-10-31/wall-streets-record-midterm-money-flows-to-republicans

INPHX, the good news for the country is that Team R's disproportionately old and white cohort means it probably can't win presidential elections anymore. The bad news is that they can still use Congress to frustrate effective government and further tilt the economic playing field to the wealthy. You should put that on a bumper sticker since honesty is always the best policy.

It's impossible to debate people who get their news from extremist media like The Washington Times. Your reality is not merely inverted, it's nearly insane. As I said above, don't take it personally. You're used to living inside an echo chamber and I'm used to yelling at you zombies inside it. Thems the breaks.

To clear up one of your glaring misstatements that Republicans have used the filibusters in a time-honored tradition. Three charts here elucidate your myth: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/11/charts-explain-why-democrats-went-nuclear-filibuster

Robert Bork, among other things, believed that Southern states have the right to impose a poll tax. Not that righties are racist! Heavens no! At any rate, Mitch McConnell has already announced that a Republican Senate majority will effectively veto ANY Obama nominee to the Supreme Court who is liberal. I know you drama queens like to think life is unfair because some freaky authoritarian was judged too extreme by the US Senate over 25 years ago, but that is why we have these Constitutional niceties you think are unfair to your side but entirely appropriate for the other, along with extra-Constitutional crap you throw into the mix for grins and chuckles.

Finally, if it's any consolation, I spend a lot of time here arguing with my own "team" who are often to the left of me. I'm a liberal but I'm not doctrinaire. I think compromise is a good thing, that people should discuss things in a reasonable and respectful way. Republicans have, on the other hand, pretty much destroyed political conversation as something thoughtful people can do, beginning with Newt Gingrich in the early 90s. Gingrich's contribution was to insist on loading words with malicious meaning. It's how "liberal" became a pejorative. Talk radio, cable TV, chain e-mails, the Atwater/Rove school of political mind-fucking were other elements here. Republicans who pretend to be civil are standing on a pile of corpses. It's one reason why I despise someone like David Brooks. He's a very nice guy who pretends Republicans have nothing to be ashamed about here. It's a great shtick and it's fundamentally deceitful.

Finally, this is YOUR culture war. You would not be anywhere near a functional majority in this nation if it weren't for race cards, dog whistles, wedge issues, and cultural panic. You come here and expect me to treat you with kid gloves despite that vile history. No, you should come here and apologize for helping debase American political discourse into a frenzy of resentments and grievances. Your self-pity might work with some people but not me. I know your party's history and you can't run away from it.

Enjoy Tuesday night. You'll do very well. 2016, on the other hand, should be a very different story.

INPHX,

Don't leave. The discussion here is the best you'll get on line.

It gets rough, but it is civil. Not much of that anywhere else.

When you make a valid point, the partisans here don't learn from it. It is the nature of the partisan to "not learn". That's what makes them a partisan.

Many of the folks here still hold to the theory that reason will prevail on the masses. It's kind of cute and kind of sad.

Many of the folks here and on the democratic side of the process think an avalanche of words will work with the current dumbed down populace.

As an example:

Democrat: Concerning immigration - "Bla Bla Bla (repeat 1,000,000 times" (and throw in the word meme, they love the hell out of that word)

Republican: "MEXICAN ISIS TERORISTS ARE COMING ACROSS THE BORDER TO SKULL FUCK YOUR GRANDMOTHER WITH EBOLA"

Guess which message gets across??

The democratic response: "Hey, that's not fair, waaaaaaaaa!!!"

The game is rigged. There cannot be a fair competition. Therefore, lie, cheat, steal, do whatever it takes to win. But you better win, because the American Taliban movement would have no problem beheading you for not agreeing with them.

As much as the democrats feel they should "educate" the masses to do the right thing, it is the Independents job to "educate' the democrats that they better take the gloves off.

INPHX, I can not read the WSJ, as I am not subscribed. I was being half facetious in my remark, but my point IS based on not too distant events.

Suzanne - read the WSJ on the FreeRepublic.com site. No subscription necessary.

This just makes me laugh. The reality is we are building a massive Japanese style crisis, because the boomers are going to stifle any real reforms until after 2040- because the majority of them will finally be dead. (1956+78=2034 for peak boomer deaths) Meanwhile, R party of stupid thinks that digging a deeper hole is going to work, but they had better shut up the tea party base about killing social security, because the cat food brigade of boomers did nothing to save.

Now, boomers are going to find houses are once again a giant sink of money, instead of a free bank account, plus the stock market is most likely going to suck big time as they all sell to keep their lifestyles.

Sorry to rain on the left's parade, but it will take until 2025-40 for leftward reform, and it may even be violent as this generation of 20 year olds finds out exactly how little of the American dream they can afford with shitty jobs and huge college debts.

So either do real reform, or become a Japan with racial warfare undertones.

Lovely, I think I will move to Finland.

And all of that real estate speculation, dried up lots in Pinal County should terrify the specs.

Concern Troll,

Would you be more specific as to the real reforms that will be stifled by boomers?

Most boomers I know vote Republican and are pretty well off. According to what I read, many apparently are not. Your predictions, although unclear from your short statement, seem to be predicated upon an overly broad generalization of a very large age group which arguably consists of at least two generation.

Nope, 1946 to 1964. Just 18 years of huge births. It took until 2003 to exceed the annual birth record set by this generation.

As for what you know, that is anecdoctal, not data. And the data are grim- http://www.gallup.com/poll/154277/nonretirees-expect-rely-social-security.aspx

Here read even more: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-01-02/baby-boomers-poorer-in-old-age-than-their-parents

Overly broad generalizations are accurate data. Just because you are a winner, you extrapolate to your friends, so everyone must be all right.

Now, read those data, and realize anyone who prattles on about killing social security is signing a political death warrant, because that is going to be the sole source for at least 30%- now do some math- there are 74 million baby boomers x 0.30= 22 million damned poor boomers. And houses will account for the entire savings of another 25%!!! So basically half of the boomer are screwed.

Feel safe and happy now? The kids are not going to vote republican either.

So, enjoy the last days of the republican party, while they make life harder for the kids through crappy overpriced education, lack of long term investments in infrastructure, and useless wars.

Concern Troll,

Thank you for that information. I am more interested the specifics of your real reforms and what catastrophe you believe they will prevent.

Concern Troll, not to be disrespectful, but you sound more Republican than my Republican friends. Arizona?


jmav,

He doesn't sound political. Math is not a member of a party.

The number is staggering. I predict that the boomers will overwhelm the system and "suicide" will become the norm. Real suicide, not the kind spoken about in the title of this thread.

I used to be a republican, but having worked with them for nearly 2 decades, they now have nothing left to offer that will, in reality, work to build a better future.

In short, they offer nothing that will make life better, but they will destroy any ability to govern.

If you think voting republican is a good idea, you should look at Arizona, because that is the future of America, given the tea party streak that will destroy anyone who wants any progress.

Arizona, an education system in tatters for everyone below the average, a tax system that utterly favors business in terms of credits and taxation, privatized government with crony capitalism (hey did you see the study that private prisons actually cost more- oh yeah, that was buried!).

And I sound like a Republican? Yeah, tax cuts grow the economy like magic pixie dust, and revenue goes up?

Arizona, Kansas, Wisconsin, all real time examples of state failures driven by Republican ideology, and Arizona has had republican legislative rule for over 20 years, so they really do own the entire disaster.

You want fascist republicans like LeFaro running your local party? We have 'em here.

All they need is some more exclusion so the country club and the scooter crowd can feel secure in their gated cul de sacs.

Real reform is dead.

Adequate funding of education, and ending ceaseless reform. Raising social security taxes to keep the system functioning through the boomer retirement.

Raising medicare taxes and moving the age down to 60- you might as well go full Canada for poor folks healthcare.

Ohhhh, that is socialism.

Rebuild highways (bridges are really going to keep falling down) and do more public transportation (sorry to the host, but better bus service would be far more effective cost wise).

Public housing for the losers of society is the biggest crisis of today- failure of 5 years of welfare for a lifetime- another giant failure.

There is no real social safety net in America, nothing long term that works.

But you will never, ever, see anyone in the Republican Party advocating fixing any of these problems.

The Party of Failure and Ayn Rand.

Great stuff, Concern Troll and Soleri.

Concern Troll,

Now I understand your angst and I agree with you proposals.

jmav, you have now officially left the Republican Party. I suggest you don't tell your friends, because they will assume you are still a true believer.

I would also suggest you see how things go in the next few years here in Arizona, because we are the land of the future for America, complete with how failure will propagate nationwide.

Stalemated government for at least two years, if not 20 years, is a recipe for disaster in this country.

Concern Troll, Republican? Yuck, never. Now I take that as disrespect.:):)

Arizona has always been too right wing to serve as a national bellwether. Growing up I looked south and saw George Wallace, I looked southwest and saw Barry Goldwater, both considered extremists in my neighborhood.

I've read the various explanations on this blog explaining how Goldwater really wasn't conservative and couldn't be a Republican today. Probably true, but in the 1960's Arizona Goldwater was on the far right of that era and Arizona today remains on the far right of the political spectrum. My decades of experience dealing with Arizona local government only reinforced my opinion of Arizona's right wing essence.

Jon, the front page articles are, as always, very good.

To cal Lash and others, a conversation with Noam Chomsky about Central America.

“often the “war on drugs,” which has little to do with drugs but a lot to do with counterinsurgency and driving campesinos off the land to facilitate mining and other profitable enterprises (something I’ve seen first-hand in several trips to peasant areas in southern Colombia);”
http://www.thenation.com/blog/187097/interview-noam-chomsky-crisis-central-america-and-mexico

I'm pretty sure Goldwater won Arizona by less than 5000 votes, and William Rehnquist was at the polls that year intimidating minorities, so that seems to indicate that Arizonans weren't quite as nutso fifty years ago.
I sure hope my fellow Republicans remember to get out and vote this Wednesday!

Jon, Starting on the 5th anticipate that a lot of folks will be off to Portland and Seattle as they can no longer live in a white theocratic jihadist place.

Suzzane,
Chomsky is right. Peasant and land or indigenous folks and land has been going on fro centuries. The new twist is that the Hollywood Mexican President has made a deal to sell off Mexico's resources to foreigners particularly the US. But first as in the past they have to rid the surface ground of those nasty poor folks. Hense they are planting activist students and poor folks underground in mass graves. In Mexico its called limpieza social.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/31/1340713/-The-horrifying-story-out-of-Mexico?detail=email

http://newmexicomercury.com/blog/comments/iguala

For more go to frontera list

Pat, I am a Republican and I voted already.
I wrote in A J LeFaro for president of the New ISIS Caliphate in Iraq.

Im back from the border. Want to know how to get a fast rolling wave thru the border patrol check point. Have red hair.

"Are you really going to do it, America? Give control of the Senate to The Party That Wrecked America?"

As if the Democrats are any better... neither party cares about anything other than retaining their power structures and funding sources, period. They both wrap their agenda in emotional platitudes designed to rally their supporters ("Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!"), but behind the scenes all they care about is money and power and they are ALL destroying the country.

Scratch that, they have already destroyed the country. And we have no one to blame but ourselves, as we've spend the last forty years or so electing some of most incompetent boobery into the White House, the Senate and the House (lets not even start talking about state and local elections!).

We have never needed a viable third party than we do right now. Or maybe full-scale revolution.

I agree with Soleri's points and Jon's. We are circling the drain. And empires never last. I think when future historians try to explain what happened, they'll tie much of the source to the death of the Fairness Doctrine and the emergence of monopoly media.

@ Suzanne:

Obamacare is hardly healthcare "reform" and does absolutely nothing to address the true root cause of our healthcare woes, and that is the cost.

If food was so expensive that we needed food insurance to pay for it, and a significant percentage of the population couldn't even afford the insurance much less the food itself, there would be mass riots in the streets. We would never stand for that when it comes to food, so why do we when it comes to healthcare?

The stories of $100 aspirins are not apocryphal, they go on every single day in hospitals across the land. And your darling Obamacare does absolutely nothing about these costs, it just spreads the pain of paying for it.

Radioactive Man, this blog has more than its share of Purity Trolls, so welcome to the club. I'm not sure what it is about this blog that attracts you people. Maybe it's the "think out loud" quality that reigns here. But I'll tell you what I tell the others: politics isn't about how smart, wise, good, and wonderful you are. It's about how effective we are. If pouting and throwing tantrums solved anything, Howard Beale would have been elected president and The West Wing would be a documentary. But because the real world is complex with a thousand shades of gray, we have to work together to get things done on the margins. Getting close to universal health care is a good thing. More people won't die for want of it. But to the Purity Troll, we should have something better (agree!!!), therefore, Obamacare is bad (disagree!!!).

If Purity Trolls weren't so narcissistic, Al Gore would have been elected president in 2000. No John Roberts, no Sam Alito. No tax cuts for the rich, no invasion of Iraq. Sounds cool, eh? Except Ralph Nader would have been "better" so Purity Trolls threw the election to George W Bush.

Who is stupider? Teabaggers with their racist preoccupations and harebrained economic theories? Or Purity Trolls with their perpetual disappointment that the world doesn't conform to their favorite fairy tales? I wish both camps would grow up. Unlike teabaggers, your values are not the problem. Your naiveté is.

Is this an open forum or not.

If "us people" are not welcome here, just say so.

If our meme doesn't match your meme, does that make us wrong?

I don't think so.

Radioactive Man, you are correct Obamacare is more about insurance reform.
I am an optimist. I like the saying "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."(Martin Luther King)
I like that Obamacare covers more people, more of the public's needs are met, while the long term costs are expected to drop (as compared to not doing anything) Could it be improved? Yes, but not by reducing the advantages gained for consumers.

I'm doubt the gridlock will change even if the Republicans win the Senate, for two simple reasons:

(1) The filibuster. Republicans and those who caucus with them need 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. Nobody predicts gains of this magnitude.

(2) The veto. Republicans need a 2/3 majority in both chambers of Congress to overcome a veto by President Obama.

Of course, the lack of solidarity in the Democratic Party combined with the lack of disciplined militancy in the same party puts the effectiveness of the filibuster in question. And President Obama's tendency to talk big at first then cave-in in the name of moderation (or as the result of simple spine-softening) undermines the veto threat.

Still, between these two factors, talk of what a Republican Congress will (or can) do seems to miss the point.

INPHX, unfortunately you'll have to learn to ignore soleri's tantrums and name calling if you want to stay here and comment. Also, learn that he's in the habit of belying his own habits.

Just as Richard Nixon cries "I am not a crook!" soleri cries "I am not a dogmatist!" even while excoriating independent liberals. (I've suggested the nickname Lil' Trotsky. "Your deviationist tendencies have been noted, comrade.")

Also learn that he can't reason and lacks basic reading comprehension skills. He'll repeat the claim that Ralph Nader spoiled the election in 2000, not the 308,000 Democrats in Florida who voted for Bush, no matter how patiently or in how much detail you explain to him that there is no credible evidence that Nader voters spoiled the election for Gore. And he'll wish Nader and his voters to "go to hell" for their imaginary crimes, even while continuing to assert what a well-behaved, reasonable, compromising non-dogmatist he is. Hell, he'll tell you that Walt Whitman was homosexual because he once mentioned the word "perfume" in a poem, if you let him.

He's also a raging egotist who counsels modesty, unassertiveness, and non-oppositionism (for all except himself -- expecially when you're arguing with him).

When dealing with soleri, you are, quite simply and truly, dealing with a defective pseudo-sentient. Don't expect the program to behave itself; it's a virus.

Unfortunately, the number of readers whose self-confidence and stubbornness is equal to mine means that many of them will run from soleri's time-wasting personal attacks. And no doubt that's just fine with soleri.

The big question is what will be Job 1: impeachment, government shutdown, killing Amtrak or defaulting on the debt?

Republicans tend to self-destruct, no matter what. They'll start in-fighting as soon as they get to D.C. Unfortunately, I think this election is the beginning of the "ho hum" electorate; no one gives a shit anymore, because everyone who runs for office seems so vapid and owned/bought that voters will soon turn away and not show up at all, because what does it matter which awful candidate gets elected? They're all awful, and they're an insult to democracy. Which is the saddest part of all.

If wish Democrats would get a spine, and the GOP would get a brain. And they'd all get new hearts.

NBC naming Ducey the winner. So 'splain this to me. All big sort?

My column today: Get ready for more austerity:

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/jontalton/2014/11/04/get-ready-for-more-austerity/


I got nothing. Nothing.

The Ducey victory, coming after Brewer defeating Terry Goddard, should put to rest all the talk about Arizona turning purple or blue.

Also, sad to say, the gay marriage ruling probably energized "conservatives."

Well-off suburban women can get contraceptives or abortions whatever the de jure situation. So how many in Gilbert and Ahwatukee voted red?

Worst ballot I remember, ever, with the worst slate. And we're probably sending Jim McDermott back, ineffectual as ever. Can't we do better? What a failure this election was. We won't stop this disfunction until and unless we take some risks. Is McDermott really the best Seattle can do? Sad.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/10/31/democrats-only-have-themselves-to-blame-for-upcoming-losses/

Start with government shutdown. Pass legislation Obama can't sign such as complete repeal of Obamacare or secure the border first legislation. GOP attempts to demonstrate that Obama is an obstructionist causing government shutdown.

Equity markets are roilled and late to the 2009 bull market middle class investors are slaughtered once again in their 401(k) accounts. Smart money for the 1% already heavily in cash.

Under duress, Republicans attach to any spending bill the defunding of EPA enforcement, reduction in social security benefits via chain -CPI and lifting sequester only for the War Machine.

Obama caves.

Cruz and friends have no interest in a functioning government. Chaos much preferred to provide a better opportunity for Cruz to seize 2016 GOP presidential nomination. GOP Congressional leaders won 't restrain Cruz.

@Emil: Stick to the issues OK. Personal attacks are a low blow.

Re; Vote today: Hear my primal roar.

First...I am a registered IND!
Second...I put most of the blame for the turnout AGAINST President Obama at the feet of one "Sen. Harry "Dementia" Reid".
Three...NONE of the candidates I voted FOR in AZ won!!!
Four... I need a drink!!

Hang on, it will be a nice ride...maybe now we will know what those 380 Bills from the House were...you know...the ones Sen. "Dementia" would not even bring to Committee...
(I think that is the most powerful seat in all the U S Political scene...)

The constant see-sawing back and forth between Republicans and Democrats in our national elections tells me America is beginning to collapse under the weight of its own electoral system, accelerated by a media that's invested in preserving it. It's well past time to snap out of it and look at ridding ourselves of the two-party system and the electoral college (screw North Dakota, why should a plodding, wheat farming Swede have more say than me?) and maybe even adopt an instant run-off model, so that we can vote for an "extremist" without throwing our vote away. As things stand right now, we're just spinning our collective wheels toward oblivion, and I think most people know it, whether they're left, right, or whatever the center is on any given day.
Let the scandals begin!

WKG, I believe Emil should continue to post his post his "feelings". Every time we post here the readers learn more about us. Our posts say a lot about who we are. And then readers do have the choice of not reading a particular post. I am sure any number of readers skip quickly by the insane ramblings of cal Lash.
I find the The recent confrontation between Emil and Soleri interesting in that some years ago Soleri was a strong supporter of Emil and even offered to give Emil a laptop so he could continue to post. (as did I also).
I do not want to see either quit posting.
More important is whether this republican can stand to live within the lines in the sand of a place called AmeriKa, Every time I see the insanity in the faces of Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell I know the poor of this country are going to become invisible slaves to the financial barons. So we can sit back and sip our Koch or fight to slow down the destruction of the planet by the 21st century by the "rise of the machines" Driven by the the barons of demolition.

WKG I have posted on suicide regarding your comment on Emil
and on the state of the Nation

Of interest...

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-11-05/democrats-won-big-on-ballot-measures

And another...

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/05/birthplace-fracking-boom-votes-ban-denton-texas


http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/what-the-hell-happened-to-the-democratic-vote

Here's my take: So a Dem leaning district had Dem winners and vice versa, with a couple of anomalies. And we have voters who are more than satisfied with being told who to vote for without any research on their own. Then what they are "told" about the other side is a pack of lies but since they don't have an independent thought, efforts to get the real message out fails. Add a little fear, voter suppression and voila, nut jobs win. When it comes to local issues, voters are closer to the issues, they know how they "feel", can form their own opinion and it seems the majority leans slightly progressive.

What about the people who don't even bother to vote? I've talked to a couple of them, and they believe that their indifference to politics is a sign that they are hip to the scam. They may be struggling marginal people, but their take on that is that whereas they are hard working others in similar tough circumstances are lazy bums. They seem to be altogether devoid of notions of civil society and solidarity.
Yes, the rich and evil have carried the day, and the defeat may be permanent. Which does not mean we don't have to fight them anyway.

You do realize what this election signals?

We will be stuck with Arpaio and McCain for eternity.

This state will embalm them to keep them in office.

Let's examinethe election result throught the lens of history. We elected two business men (Ev Meacham & III Sticks Symington) Governers. How did that work out for you? We elected two ex-school board members as Sup. of Public Instruction. One of whom went on to become Attorney General. How did that work out for you? The "Badged Ego" will only leave office with six of his best friends carrying him by the handles.
I am a retired educator and I weep for what is probably going to happen to public education in Arizona. I truly hope i will be proven wrong, but I doubt it.

soleri wrote:

"Radioactive Man, this blog has more than its share of Purity Trolls, so welcome to the club. I'm not sure what it is about this blog that attracts you people."

An odd comment from someone who took his toys and went home for months, simply because the blogger and some of the commenters were critical of aspects of the Obama presidency.

wkg wrote:

"Emil: Stick to the issues OK. Personal attacks are a low blow."

I quite agree: but your criticism would be better directed at soleri. He's made ad hominem a habit lately and I'm simply responding in kind. Things will no doubt settle down again.

cal lash wrote:

"some years ago Soleri was a strong supporter of Emil and even offered to give Emil a laptop so he could continue to post. (as did I also)."

I don't think so. He did pretend to be willing to offer use of a PC for the purpose of filing a Medicare claim, but the offer wasn't genuine (he wasn't even living in Phoenix at the time) and was merely part of one of his taunts, as the rest of his comment clearly shows.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"The big question is what will be Job 1: impeachment, government shutdown, killing Amtrak or defaulting on the debt?"

Polls consistently show the economy to be (by far) the biggest concern of Americans, well ahead of foreign policy (ISIS) and immigration.

So, I think the Republicans need to try to pass a few stereotypically Republican laws, which they can point to (however speciously), while the economy continues to improve for fundamental and unrelated reasons.

As I understand it, three of the first items on the agenda of the "serious" members of the Republican leadership are:

(1) Getting the Keystone pipeline approved;
(2) Repealing the medical devices tax portion of Obamacare;
(3) Corporate tax "reform".

All three provide potential talking points for future Republican political campaigns.

Corporate income tax rates are nominally high compared to most other industrialized countries (though it's important to remember that many of those countries tax corporate income through means other than an income tax); but in practice, because of loopholes, many large corporations pay a much smaller effective tax rate or even no taxes at all.

One of the loopholes used is to transfer funds to foreign subsidiaries. Huge amounts of capital have been sent overseas this way.

Republicans will claim that reducing corporate income tax rates will cause these corporations to "repatriate" these funds; and that furthermore, such repatriation will spark economic growth insofar as the returning capital is available for domestic corporate investment.

The argument is fallacious in every respect: corporations will not trade zero tax liability for a reduced (but still greater than zero) tax liability for funds currently tax exempt because they are held overseas; also, large corporations are flush with cash and have plenty to spend on corporate investment (i.e., job creation) but haven't done so for the excellent reason that domestic demand is weak and there is no reason to hire more workers and spend more on payroll to produce what currently existing employees already can and do.

But, if the Republicans can pass this, then as the economy continues to improve (as it has already been doing, increasingly quickly of late), then they'll be able to point to economic gains and speciously link them to their own corporate tax policy and similar "reforms". If challenged on the details, they'll turn to the vague claim that these policies created growth by inspiring confidence in American businessmen, and that their own status as a single party in control of Congress reduced the "uncertainty" which had somehow been slowing economic investment and growth.

The Keystone pipeline is actually small potatoes: the amount of oil to be carried is a small fraction of that already transported by other pipelines and by rail.

But part of the fallacious Republican alternate-universe model of America, is the claim that the Obama administration (and Democrats in general) stand between the American people and "energy independence" (which won't happen with or without Keystone).

Key details like this tend to get lost in 30 second television and radio commercials and in Fox News segments, where big, bold, and unexamined assertions ("Republicans are working for America's energy independence") carry the day, and where Republican engineered approval of Keystone can be pointed to as an example of this.

The medical devices tax is, again, a very small piece of a very large medical pie, but plays into the Republican theme of opposing government "interference" and "overregulation" which "stifles innovation, creativity and growth".

As for ISIS, I don't think the Republican leadership wants American boots on the ground. After all, both parties in Congress ran away on vacation without debating much less voting on the issue, just recently.

My memory is a bit vague and untrustworthy on this subject, but I seem to recall that ISIS falls apart surprisingly fast in Iraq after its leader is killed (whether deliberately or incidentally) in an air attack. Something to do with the group's "banner and commander" structure and with the ability of the current leader to hold together all of the many factions lumped together in the media as "ISIS"; as well as perhaps a resurgent Iraqi tribal movement under circumstances where remaining ISIS commanders cannot agree on policy or coordinate forces effectively. Just imagine what would have happened to the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War had Lenin been killed early on, and war effort policies and coordination left to rival factions of the Communist Party.

As for Republican obstructionism, I'm sure that they'll remain in this mode, in part because Democratic filibusters and vetoes leave them little choice; in part because they have very little of a program themselves and define themselves primarily in terms of reaction against Democratic programs and values; and in part because it is a strategy that seems to work for them: they don't have to risk failure by passing their own programs or fundamental restructurings, but can criticize any failures of Democratic programs.

Another aspect of Republican control of the Senate which will play into their hands is not the ability to pass new laws, but control of key committees.

First, Republicans will be able to focus media attention as never before on "scandals of the Obama administration", including the IRS, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, Secret Service, Veteran's hospitals, and so on. There are whole websites devoted to nothing else except scandals of the Obama administration. There is nothing like subpoena power to facilitate fishing expeditions. All of these will be used to smear, not only the Obama administration, but Democrats by association.

Also, by controlling key appropriations and rules committees, Republicans will be able to hobble government programs, departments and agencies administratively rather than by means of bills that must pass through contentious debate, Democratic filibusters, and presidential vetoes. This, I fear, is where the real sabotage will take place, in everything from public transportation, education, environmental oversights, and labor law. Much of this will take place behind the scenes.

Impeachment. Their handlers will not let them repudiate the debt.

One of the Fox News pundits recently said something which got my attention: that Democrats in Congress have become more liberal because those who lost their seats in the mid-term elections were "moderates".

The question is, why were those losing their seats "moderate" Democrats? The obvious answer is that the districts and states where congressional seats were up for grabs were those where the electorate was not sufficiently strongly Democratic to determine the outcome; and by inference not sufficiently liberal.

But why should these "moderates" suddenly lose their seats?

Many of these Democratic incumbents (and some of the challengers) made a point of fleeing any connection with President Obama and the liberal achievements and values of the party associated with him (e.g., Obamacare).

I strongly suspect that this was the fatal mistake. Leaning to the right could never satisfy Republicans and conservative independents, who prefer solid conservatives with impeccable credentials to quasi-Republican Democrats opportunistically shifting their stance. At the same time, such right-leaning posturing alienates the core Democratic base, and fails to motivate even center-left Democrats to vote.

So, by fleeing the heritage and accomplishments of their own party over the past six years, these Democrats chipped away critical friendly votes while failing to convince conservatives to accept them.

Regarding ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi and the question of replaceability:

First, note that Al-Baghdadi isn't just another Sunni muslim militant leader: he's trying to convince others not merely to fight Shias but to follow him as he establishes a caliphate: that is the concept that underpins and unites followers of Islamic State.

The BBC cites an online biography of Al-Baghdadi "which claims that Baghdadi was indeed a descendant of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad's Quraysh tribe - one of the key qualifications in Islamic history for becoming the caliph (historically, leader of all Muslims)".

In addition, it notes that Al-Baghdadi " is more steeped in traditional Islamic education than either al-Qaeda's past and current leaders, Osama Bin Laden and Aymen al-Zawahiri. . . This has conferred on Baghdadi a higher level of praise, worthiness, and legitimacy among his supporters."

The article also notes his long organizational and military experience:

"Following the US invasion of Iraq, Baghdadi, along with some associates, created Jamaat Jaysh Ahl al-Sunnah wa-l-Jamaah (JJASJ) - the Army of the Sunni People Group - which operated in Samarra, Diyala, and Baghdad. Within the group, Baghdadi was the head of the sharia committee.

"After al-Qaeda in the Land of Two Rivers (al-Qaeda in Iraq) changed its name to Majlis Shura al-Mujahidin (Mujahideen Shura Council) in early 2006, JJASJ's leadership pledged baya (oath of allegiance) to it and joined the umbrella organisation.

"Within the new structure, Baghdadi joined the sharia committees. But soon after the organisation announced another change to its name in late 2006 to the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), Baghdadi became the general supervisor of the sharia committees for the wilayats (provinces) within the new "state" as well as a member of ISI's senior consultative council.

"When ISI's leader Abu Umar al-Baghdadi died in April 2010, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi succeeded him."

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28560449

So, Al-Baghdadi paid his dues; moved up through the ranks of the organization; earned enough loyalty from muslim militants to siphon off 70 percent of Al Nusra's fighters; has vast organizational knowledge and influence, as well as commanding the loyalty of the lieutants which run the organization.

Add all of this to his powerful bona fides (claiming descent from Mohammad), and you have a leader who is more than a mere figurehead and who holds together an organization composed of disparate factions and interests.

The leadership structure is important for Salafist groups in general:

"Salafists believe that jihad must be performed under legitimate leadership. This argument is advanced through the "banner and commander" concept, which holds that whoever undertakes jihad must follow a commander who fulfills the criteria of religious and political leadership and has raised the banner of jihad."

How much more important, in both theoretical and practical terms, for a movement like ISIS which presumes to establish a caliphate and asks those who follow it to swear allegiance to it and to its leader?

The United States claims that its air campaign against ISIS does not specifically target key ISIS leaders including Al Baghdadi. Whether this is because they do not want to disappoint the American public by making promises they then fail to keep; or because they want to avoid retaliatory attacks and political assassination attempts; or because they don't want ISIS leaders to go into deep hiding, is a different question.

By way of illustrating the hidden factionalism of ISIS and the strong centralized authority necessary to hold it together and effectively organize it, here is an excerpt from an article in the CTC Sentinel (Combating Terrorism Center) at West Point, courtest of the a link provided by the Washington Institute:

"As well as receiving individual pledges of allegiance, ISIL frequently absorbs whole networks of militants into its ranks in what might be termed as a mergers and acquisitions approach, with like-minded Salafist groups like Jamaat Ansar al-Islam being the simplest to convert. Existing Salafist groups, along with General Military Council forces associated with Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi (JRTN) and other militants, contribute the core defensive manpower in ISIL-dominated areas. ISIL is adept at aligning with tribal needs, such as by plugging into the anti-Kurdish sentiments of Arab tribes around Jalula or allowing Arab tribes to harvest the ripe wheat fields of displaced Shi`a Turkmen farmers at Amerli. As Aymenn al-Tamimi explained, in time these allied groups become more and more closely aligned with ISIL, transitioning from "backing the winning horse" to deeper ideological radicalization..."

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/isils-political-military-power-in-iraq

Incidentally, I'm trying to evaluate whether the black market operations of both ISIS and the Kurds have been driving world oil prices down. ISIS alone sells to buyers in Jordan, Turkey, Syria, and Iran, at prices ranging from $25 to $60 a barrel, versus the international crude oil price of $102 a barrel.

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/analysis/2014/08/28/Experts-ISIS-makes-up-to-3-million-daily-in-oil-sales.html

Providing oil at bargain basement prices helps drive down general prices, because there is less demand for the oil being sold at regular prices, which in turn causes the spot market to bid down the price.

The real question is to whether the black market sales of ISIS, the Kurds, and others in the area, are of a sufficient volume to have a significant effect on international oil prices.

Any information on this would be appreciated. I haven't had time to search online yet and don't know if there is anything like this out there.

P.S. On the other hand, the lack of maintenance and investment in oil production infrastructure by groups like ISIS would tend to reduce production output over time, which could end up driving up world oil prices. (Maybe another motive for U.S. involvement?)

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