Mike Lee Knows the Score


393px-Mike_Lee_113th_CongressAlthough he’s not my senator, I follow Mike Lee on Facebook. He posted this comment regarding the Omnibus bill. It’s dead-on. We know the system is broken. It’s going to take the people to fix it.

Here we are again: another year of legislative dysfunction capped by an undemocratic, un-republican process that uses the threat of another manufactured crisis to impose on an unwilling country the same broken government policies that have repeatedly failed the people they are supposed to serve. The bill moving through Congress today and tomorrow – made up of the omnibus spending bill and tax extenders package – and the process that produced it are an affront to the Constitution and an insult to the American people. I’m not even talking about the substance of the bill, which is bad enough. I’m talking about the way it was produced. A small handful of leaders from the two parties got together behind closed doors to decide what the nation’s taxing and spending policies would be for the next year. And then, after several weeks, the negotiators emerged – grand bargain in hand – confident that the people they deliberately excluded from the policymaking process would now support all 2,242 pages of the legislative leviathan that they cooked up. This is not how a self-governing – or self-respecting – institution operates, and everyone here knows it.

He continues:

Fear and Loathing Across Party Lines


It’s pretty rare for me to say, “Goodness, look at what Stanford’s Chandler Chair of Communication has to say!” And in truth, I haven’t looked closely at the methodology of this paper, and even if it’s flawless, let’s wait to see if it can be replicated. Still, the claim they’re making is interesting:

When defined in terms of social identity and affect toward co-partisans and opposing partisans, the polarization of the American electorate has dramatically increased. We document the scope and consequences of affective polarization of partisans using implicit, explicit and behavioral indicators. Our evidence demonstrates that hostile feelings for the opposing party are ingrained or automatic in voters’ minds, and that affective polarization based on party is just as strong as polarization based on race. We further show that party cues exert powerful effects on non-political judgments and behaviors. Partisans discriminate against opposing partisans, and do so to a degree that exceeds discrimination based on race. We note that the willingness of partisans to display open animus for opposing partisans can be attributed to the absence of norms governing the expression of negative sentiment and that increased partisan affect provides an incentive for elites to engage in confrontation rather than cooperation.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are pleased to see the federal government acknowledge that the Chattanooga attacks were terrorism inspired by foreign groups and that those killed and wounded were awarded Purple Hearts.  They also cringe as the omnibus spending bill turns out to be a massive giveaway to Democrats.  They scold Defense Secretary Ash Carter for using his private email for government business even as the Hillary Clinton scandal was exploding.  And they hammer Bill O’Reilly for saying people want to hear people like Trump say they will go after our enemies, not hear pinhead comments from the likes of Rand Paul about whether things are constitutional.

A Carnival of Buncombe


At least since the birth of Ricochet, I’ve been dismayed that our election debates treat foreign policy and national security as an afterthought, at best. I well remember the final 2012 presidential debate, which was supposed to be the foreign policy debate,  and the way the candidates couldn’t wait to stop talking about it and return to domestic policy.

By the way, pop quiz: Don’t look. Who said the following?

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer the CNN Republican presidential debate for good questions, serious discussions and enlightening exchanges.  They yawn as Chris Christie tries to pretend the people don’t care about a disagreement over the government’s collection of our bulk data.  And they have fun with Donald Trump’s change of heart about whether Ted Cruz is a maniac and that he doesn’t know what the nuclear triad is.

Once More, With Feeling: the Second CNN Republican Debate


Sitting down at my computer the prospect of the fifth Republican debate left me feeling in need of some liquid fortitude. For over a week, I have been seeing these CNN ads advertising this Las Vegas debate like one would advertise a boxing match. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to a verbal pugilism focused on nothing but Trump and the things he said leading up to this debate. But — to my surprise and relief — the debate stayed focused on the issues of national security, and largely avoided devolving into a side show of insults. Overall, the arguments were fierce but on-topic and fair. In fact, this might be the first real debate in that  there are actually differences in the opinions these candidates hold.

Eco-fascists’ Mockery of Justice

<small>Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein: The smiling faces of mock tyranny.</small>

Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein

I just returned from Paris for the UN’s COP-21 climate conference. There were a lot of nutty things that went on, but this might be the nuttiest, and most disturbing: at the so-called “People’s Climate Summit” in Montreuil, a suburb north of Paris, author Naomi Klein and climate activist Bill McKibben put on an event called “The People vs. ExxonMobil: A Public Trial for the Greatest Climate Crime of the Century.”

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review fume at reports the Department of Homeland Security refused requests from immigration officials to screen the social media accounts of people seeking to enter the U.S.  They also groan as the U.S. commits to massive carbon emission reductions while allowing placing no penalties for nations that don’t comply.  And they laugh as Donald Trump says Cruz should not be president because he doesn’t have the right temperament and insults people in the Senate.

France Exhales, Temporarily


Yesterday was the second round of the French regional elections, and the National Front was defeated in all three contested districts. (I explained how these work last week.) Nidra Poller wrote a good essay about the FN last year for those who want to know more about the LePen family psychodrama:

While the notoriously provocative father has remained honorary president of the FN, the daughter claims to have banished unsavory ideas and elements that – unfairly in her view – justified its “demonization.” Cleansed of anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, racism and other reprehensible traits associated with the “Far Right Populist” strain of postwar European politics, the National Front is claimed to be the West’s only line of defense against Islamization, EU tyranny, globalization, cheap Chinese merchandise, rampant capitalism, the banks, the international oligarchy that exploits the hardworking little man … and what other evils?

Politics and Memories


When I was a little kid, my family spent the summer on an endlessly vast farm in Vermont. I have tons of little-kid memories from that summer — the enormous beds, running across a lawn that seemed to go on forever, being stung by a bee, my grandmother trying to comfort me, my mother picking tomatoes in a big, floppy hat, my father explaining why moths were attracted to the light.

I hadn’t been allowed to watch grown-up television until then. Like all kids, I was more attracted to the television than a moth to the light. But I was only allowed to watch shows like Sesame Street, and grudgingly, if I wheedled and whined, Mr. Rogers — although my father made it clear that he loathed Mr. Rogers. (In retrospect, I reckon he suspected Mr. Rogers was a left-wing pederast.) Once in a while, when my parents were exhausted and their guard was down, I’d get to watch the Electric Company. They told me more television would “rot my brain,” and I suppose they were probably right. But this of course only made me more desperately curious about it.

A Brokered Convention?


As one of the commenters on 538 pointed out, we’ve heard this brokered convention business before:

harry: All right, so here’s my thing: We are 53 days from the Iowa caucuses. Until we actually see how the primary will develop, I can’t say 20 percent. I can say 10 percent. I can see it. It can happen. But the problem is that I’ve heard this song and dance before. In fact, I found seven of the 11 open primaries since 1984 had at least some talk of a contested convention. It happened in 2012, 2008 Democrats and 2008 Republicans, 2004, 1992, 1988 and 1984.

On Populism


logoWhat’s your definition of “Populism?”

As Daniele Albertazzi and Duncan McDonnell, editors of Twenty-First Century Populism, suggest, “Much like Dylan Thomas’s definition of an alcoholic as ‘someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you’, the epithet ‘populist’ is often used in public debate to denigrate statements and measures by parties and politicians which commentators or other politicians oppose.”

But they go on to try to formulate a more rigorous definition. Their research focuses on Europe. It was conducted well before anyone could have dreamt of the rise of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders; it even antedates Obama’s rise to power:

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud the honesty of California Dem Loretta Sanchez, who admits between 5-20 percent of Muslims want a caliphate and to obliterate western norms.  They also react to a new CBS poll showing Americans are evenly divided about establishing a federal database of all Muslims.  And they unload on a liberal magazine’s call for a complete gun ban, even for police.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review enjoy watching Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel feel the heat over allegations he covered up video of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald.  They also groan as Republicans once again kick the can down the road on spending.  And they rip Donald Trump for floating the possibility of an independent run if the GOP fails to treat him “fairly,” despite a written pledge not to launch a third party bid.

Trump Is Not a Bogeyman


shutterstock_163234616On Tuesday, Mona Charen wrote here:

This week, while we were still burying our dead from San Bernardino, every Republican – rather than explaining why President Obama’s refusal to fight the war on terror has led to this moment – was instead having to condemn Donald Trump’s mindless proposal to keep every single Muslim out of the United States until further notice. Again, he’s the perfect bogeyman.

But this is only true because the other Republicans can’t roll a reporter from talking about Trump to talking about, say, President Obama. Imagine if, instead of being led by the nose, some of these candidates had said “Well, Trump says a lot of things, but have you heard what the president said about [insert latest outrage here]? Talk about unacceptable! In fact, I think that … “

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud Marco Rubio for slipping language into a recent spending bill that makes it much tougher for the government to bail out health insurers, which may provide an opportunity soon to change the system.  They also discuss a newly released email suggesting the Pentagon did have a military response ready to deploy to the Benghazi attacks.  And they shake their heads as Bernie Sanders ducks questions on ISIS.

Resolved: Raise the Voting Age


“I don’t know anything, but I feel very good about myself.”

The 26th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1971, lowering the voting age to 18. Back then, it made sense, as there was a mandatory draft. How — it was asked — could we send these young men off to war and deny then the right to vote?

How to Win Arguments and Alienate Bernie Sanders Fans


Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 4.05.43 PMSomehow, I ended up on an email list of liberal education ideas (I repeat myself) and encountered the following gem. While the debt forgiveness movement has been getting some attention this cycle, it’s nice that really liberal liberals are attacking mere liberals and giving us our rebuttal:

The joint report by Demos and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy, two progressive think tanks, found that getting rid of all student-loan debt—writing off the amount college grads borrowed to get a bachelor’s degree or to complete graduate school—would help white households far more than African American ones and would actually increase wealth disparities between the two groups.

If you’re a glutton for punishment, read the full article.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review reject Donald Trump’s call to stop all Muslim immigration into the U.S.  They also applaud Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse for properly explaining how to wage war against radical Muslims while also upholding constitutional freedoms for all Americans.  And they’re stunned that terrorist Syed Farook was able to acquire $28,500 just weeks prior to the terrorist attack.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review give Obama credit for finally admitting that Ft. Hood and Chattanooga were terrorist attacks and for saying Muslims have a responsibility to denounce radical ideology.  They also sigh as Obama offers the same ineffective prescription for defeating ISIS and says we’ll win because we’re on the right side of history.  And they groan as the father of terrorist Syed Farook says his son told him he agreed with the ISIS ideology of establishing a global caliphate.