Michael Wolraich's picture

    The Republican Race is Over

    As I read article after article about brokered conventions and #NeverTrump campaigns and "paths" to the nomination, I'm struck by the sad futility of it all.

    It may still be numerically possible for Trump to lose the nomination, but practically speaking, les jeux sont faits.

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    Where were you, Senator?

    Any time you leave a bad idea or a dangerous idea alone, any time you ignore what could become an evil force, you wind up regretting it.

    -- Lindsey Graham

    Thank you for these wise words, Senator. I couldn't agree with you more. But pardon me for asking, where the hell have you been?

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Mr. Robot

    You know who I'm talking about. At first, I thought I was experiencing a deja vu. My wife thought there was a technical glitch. After the third repetition, she became convinced that he was suffering from a neurological condition. I just started laughing.

    This was was Rubio's Howard Dean scream. Not just because the performance was cringe-inducing and is destined to be endlessly rehearsed and enhanced on YouTube but because it cemented the perception that he's an automaton.

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    Two Types

    There are two types of Democrats in this world: Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters.

    If you're a Hillary supporter, then you must be a plutocrat, an angry feminist, or a moron.

    If you're a Bernie supporter, then you must be a naive dreamer, a misogynist, or a moron.

    Conclusion: The Democratic Party is composed of plutocrats, angry feminists, naive dreamers, misogynists, and morons.

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    Why Paul Krugman’s Wrong About Bernie Sanders

    Paul Krugman may be a terrific economist, but he should study his history. In a trenchant New York Times column titled “How Change Happens,” Dr. Krugman asserts that legislative change requires “hardheaded realism” and “accepting half loaves.” Dismissing presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s uncompromising idealism as “happy dreams” and “destructive self-indulgence,” he asks rhetorically, “When has their theory of change ever worked? Even F.D.R., who rode the depths of the Great Depression to a huge majority, had to be politically pragmatic, working not just with special interest groups but also with Southern racists.”

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    Insurgency: The Difference Between Democrats and Republicans

    The insurgent impulse is not unique to Republicans. The right has its Trump. The left has its Sanders. But last night's debate illuminated the stark contrast between Democratic insurgents and Republican insurgents.

    In his debate performance, Bernie Sanders showed himself to be principled, passionate, knowledgeable, and virtuous. He argued relentlessly against the corruption of money and the plight of American workers--as he has for decades. When he had an opportunity to prick Hillary Clinton over the email scandal, Sanders chose instead to dismiss the brouhaha as a distraction from the issues that matter. He is a revolutionary in the finest tradition of high-minded American revolutionaries, from George Washington to F.D.R., who would change the world without sacrificing dignity or decency. He is, to use my grandfather's term of highest praise, a mensch.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Who Won the Republican Debate?

    The pundits are all over the map. The NYT's Nate Cohn picked Rubio, Walker, and Kasich. He thinks Bush flubbed it, and Trump "had the weakest performance." But the Atlantic called Trump's performance "one of the standouts of the night," lauding him for turning "weaknesses into strengths" and says Jeb made "a strong impression." CNN and WaPo opinionators agree with Cohn that Rubio was the winner, but Josh Marshall calls him "all but invisible." Ann Coulter weighs in, "Every GOP I'm talking to hated Rubio & Kasich, " but Laura Ingraham at Fox News tweets "@GovMikeHuckabee and @JohnKasich." A Republican focus group in Pella, Iowa described Ben Carson as "ready for prime time," "brilliant," and "someone you can really trust."

    Go figure.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    The Myth of the Militant Homosexual

    Indiana Governor Mike Pence is shocked—shocked—that people see anything objectionable in Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. “Was I expecting this kind of backlash?” he exclaimed, “Heavens no.”

    After all, who could object to religious freedom?

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    I Sorted Hillary’s Email

    When Hillary Clinton released emails from her personal account last week, many assumed that her attorneys had personally reviewed the messages before sending them to the State Department, but that’s not what happened. As detailed in her press statement, the review team used keyword searches to automatically filter over 60,000 messages, flagging about half as work related.

    “I have absolute confidence that everything that could be in any way connected to work is now in the possession of the State Department,” Clinton declared.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    MW on the TV

    Just in case anyone wants to see how I look like on the small screen...

    Obama & Teddy Roosevelt: Similar Legislative Strategies?

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    American Democracy - Not Dead Yet

    Thanks to Michael M. for highlighting Matthew Yglesias's Cassandra prophesy at Vox: "American Democracy is Doomed." In the piece, Yglesias warns that political polarization will sooner or later trigger "a collapse of the legal and political order" in the United States. "If we're lucky," he adds gloomily, "it won't be violent."

    You don't have to be a seer to see that the federal government is in crisis. We have been reading about congressional paralysis for five years straight. The immediate cause is no mystery--the American checks-and-balances system does not handle polarization well. The founding fathers, in their zeal to prevent totalitarianism, designed a system that empowers its various branches to sabotage one another for political gain.

    If Yglesias had limited his conclusions to these observations, the result would have been an interesting if prosaic political commentary. But where's the fun in that? Headline-grabbing doom prophesies trend much better than humdrum political commentary. Fortunately for the health of American democracy, they are invariably specious, and this one is no exception.

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    The Washington Post just reviewed Unreasonable Men

    As Michael Wolraich argues in his sharp, streamlined new book, “Unreasonable Men,” it was “the greatest period of political change in American history.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/book-review-unreasonable-men-on-p...

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    The Valkyries' Lament

    There is something odd about the chorus of criticism against President Obama's foreign policy. Normally, the age-old debate over military intervention revolves around a particular conflict. From WWI to the Iraq War, hawks and doves have always squabbled over the ethics, efficacy, and necessity of attacking a particular enemy at a particular time.

    But Obama's critics haven't focused on any particular conflict or enemy. They speak of the peril in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Ukraine, and the South China Sea. They warn of threats from Putin, Khamenei, Kim Jong-Un, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, or, more generally, dictators, fanatics, and terrorists. George W. Bush's Axis of Evil has become a Legion of Doom with new enemies, like ISIS, regularly joining the pantheon of international bad guys.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Eating Eric Cantor

    If revolutions eat their children, then Eric Cantor is the plat du jour. Just a couple years ago, he was the supposed leader of the right-wing House insurgency. The press waited hungrily for him to revolt against John Boehner and claim the Speaker's crown for himself. But Cantor chose to wait it out, and now the same insurgent spirit that bolstered his ambition has tossed him out of the House entirely.

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    Unreasonable Men: First Book Review

    From Publishers Weekly:

    From 1904-1912, the American political system underwent enormous growing pains, and political writer Wolraich (Blowing Smoke) gives this decade an exhaustive, detailed examination, from the first “creeping sense” of a new political body into a “war with only two sides” that birthed America’s enduring bipartisan identities.

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    What Would Teddy Do? Theodore Roosevelt on Net Neutrality

    “Above all else,” President Theodore Roosevelt admonished Congress in 1905, “we must strive to keep the highways of commerce open to all on equal terms.”

    Roosevelt could not have imagined digital computers and fiber-optic cables. He was talking about railroads, the highways of commerce in his day. But though the technology has changed, the principle TR expressed remains as essential as it was a century ago. We ignore it at our peril.

    Until now, our digital highways of commerce have been open to all on equal terms. Media conglomerates and big-box retailers transmit information through the same pipes as bloggers, startups and boutiques. This principle of equality, known as net neutrality, has stimulated competition and spurred innovation since the Internet began.

    But it might not last much longer.

    Read the full article at Reuters

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    Bloomberg's Gun-Control Campaign: Right Idea, Wrong Guy

    Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg has a bold plan. He hopes to single-handedly revive America's comatose gun-control movement with a $50 million cash infusion and a fresh political strategy. He has money, connections, and an astute appreciation for what it will take to counter the gun-rights mania that has hijacked national politics. Too bad he's not the guy to pull it off.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Your Top Ten Anti-Christian Acts of 2013

    The title of this post comes from the subject line of an email that I received from Dr. Gary L. Cass, head of the "Christian Anti-Defamation Commission." If you read on, you'll notice that none of the "top ten anti-Christian acts of 2013" represent actual discrimination against Christians. Most of them are about Christians' "right" to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Dear angry American who has to pay more for better health insurance,

    Bummer. I know the premiums are steep. I've been there. I remember when I moved from Philadelphia to New York City, and my rate jumped from $200 to $800--without even changing my plan. I received a letter saying that my premium might rise. The next thing I knew, boom, $800 charged to my credit card.

    At least you get better coverage out of the deal. I still had to pay for my ER visit because it fell under my $3000 deductible. But what could I do? This America. Private companies are supposed to wring people out like dirty washcloths. It's called a free market.

    But this is different, isn't it? It's not the free market that's squeezing you dry. It's the government. Government isn't supposed to squeeze people. It's supposed to get out of the way and let the free market squeeze people.

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    Kamikaze Logic and the Republican Insurgency

    The Republican effort to defund “Obamacare” is like playing chicken with a wall. The Senate Democrats will never vote against health care legislation they spent decades to pass. The voters will punish Republican legislators if they shut down the government or default on the debt. Whether the Republicans crash or swerve, this game has no positive outcome for them.

    So why are they doing it?

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    Russia Offers Asylum to Russian Dissidents

    On Thursday, Russian officials announced that Russia had offered asylum to dissidents suffering persecution from the Russian government.

    The group includes Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger sentenced to five years in a corrective labor colony; Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former Russian oligarch imprisoned since 2005; members of punk rock protest band Pussy Riot, imprisoned since 2012; Russia's gay population; and the Chechen Republic. Russia also offered posthumous asylum to Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent assassinated by Russian agents after receiving asylum in Britain.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Waiting for the GOP to Die

    Demographics, we've heard, are pro-Democrat. In a few years, a wave of young Latinos will swamp those dastardly Republicans in their southern redoubts, and then the donkey will soar again. Huzzah!

    But wait, it get's better. According to Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast, "even working-class white people" are preparing to join the glorious Democratic demographic revolution. He discovered a Brookings poll that proves, "White working-class millennials are fairly liberal!"

    In short, all we have to do is wait a decade or two for the new golden age of Democratic hegemony to come roaring back to Washington, courtesy of the aging process.

    I call this the Wait for the Old Farts to Die strategy.

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    Snowden, Prism, and Us - Food for Thought

    "I don't want public attention because I don't want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing."

    -- Edward Snowden, June 9, 2013

     

    Media References, June 9-30, 2013

      Google Dagblog
      News articles Blog posts News links Comments
    Prism 155,000 0 4 45
    Edward Snowden 637,000,000 10 14 313
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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Better Gun Control

    Last February, I wrote what columnists like to call a "think piece" about an alternative approach to gun control (with the implication that most punditry does not involve thinking).

    My proposal was to tax gun manufacturers and retailers based on the lethality of their merchandise, as measured by crime statistics. The hope was to incentivize companies to create their own safeguards against misuse, in essence to financially discourage them from making weapons that appeal to criminals and from selling to customers who are likely to use the guns for crime.

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    Iran's Last Chance

    Hassan Rouhani, Iran's newly elected president, will serve for four years. By the end of his term, Iran and the U.S. will either reach an agreement, or they will go to war.

    Last March, Obama told an Israeli television station that it would take "over a year or so" for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, the first time an American president stated a timeframe on the record. The dates coincide with a U.S. intelligence estimate during George W. Bush's administration: "sometime during the 2010-2015 time-frame."

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