Tag Archives: Talking Points Memo

The Trump Trickle-Down Financial FAIL

More and more signs every day that Donald Trump is spectacularly unsuited to be a major party’s standard bearer. There’s the constant screech of dog whistles, the obnoxious comments flying in all directions, the persistent failure to stay on-message for more than about 15 minutes, and oh, that hair.

But perhaps more important than all of that is… money. Or the lack thereof. Trump’s coffers are nearly empty and his fundraising “machine” practically nonexistent.

This has repercussions far beyond the Trump/Clinton campaign, because a major party candidate usually provides money and organization for candidates up and down the ticket and the state parties.  Talking Points Memo:

As the Republican National Committee — which also saw a drop in its May fundraising compared to 2012 — is forced to prop up Trump’s rickety campaign apparatus, it means less money will be passed down to congressional committees and to state parties. It also means less money to finance the party’s crucial but costly get-out-the-vote efforts.

Which is really bad news for the perennially impecunious VTGOP, whose own federal filing shows a piss-poor $11,190 in cash on hand. It can’t afford any significant campaign push, and it shouldn’t expect any help from the national party.

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The importance of diversity: three object lessons

Diversity is a lot more than a liberal feel-good cause, a way to shoehorn visible minorities into public and private institutions just for the sake of it. Or just to disenfranchise white heterosexual men.

When universities argue against affirmative action bans, it’s not because they’re lefties; it’s because they realize a diverse student body (and faculty) makes their institutions stronger.

When I look at a political contest and see two roughly equivalent candidates, I give preference to the woman, the minority, the member of the LGBTQ community, because their perspectives make our politics better.

We have three object lessons from this week’s news, two right here in Vermont, each illustrating the importance of diversity.

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Nobody’s figured out how to make this economy work

Vermont Republicans are fond of slamming the Shumlin Economy, cherrypicking statistics that make the Governor’s record look bad. They criticize his policies as crippling to economic growth and middle-class prosperity. (And now that Bernie Sanders is running for President, they try to blame all the ills of the last three decades on him, even though he hasn’t been running the place and would clearly have adopted very different policies if he had been. Protip to Republicans: correlation is not causation.)

And yes, in spite of very low unemployment, it’s inarguable that the recovery has been slow and spotty for most Vermonters. Their purchasing power has remained stagnant. But this isn’t just a Vermont phenomenon, and if you look at other states with conservative governments, they’re failing at least as badly as we are.

Last Friday, Talking Points Memo posted a piece about how four Republican governors are seeing their presidential aspirations undercut by severe budget problems back home — problems attributable to the failure of their policies to hotwire their economies.

The basic concept is as cartoonish as when it was first sketched on a napkin by Arthur Laffer: cut taxes and the economy will flourish. Revenues will rise, as government takes a smaller slice of a growing pie. Business, freed of its public-sector shackles, will lead us into a prosperous future.

Trouble is, it doesn’t work. In Louisiana, WIsconsin, Ohio and New Jersey, Republican tax-cutting policies have failed: all four states have sluggish economies and huge budget shortfalls. It’s worse on both sides than anything Peter Shumlin has inflicted on the state of Vermont.

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RNC leader thinks better of Israel trip

Hmm. Apparently Reince Priebus, the chair of the Republican National Committee, ducked out of that big trip to Israel arranged by the hateful bigoted folks at the American Family Association.

Priebus was one of the many top Republicans, including Vermont’s own Susie Hudson, who were booked on a nine-day trip to Israel paid for, and guided by, officials of the American Family Association and its subsidiary, the American Renewal Project. The voyagers left last weekend, but Priebus was spotted this week in Washington, D.C. after a meeting with Senate Republicans. Talking Points Memo:

His appearance in Washington came as something of a surprise after the founder of the American Renewal Project, David Lane, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz last week that he would be taking Priebus, Priebus’ wife and about 60 other committee members to the Holy Land.

The trip was scheduled in November, but became a source of controversy last week after the Israeli media outlet Haaretz spilled the inconvenient beans about the AFA’s extreme Christianist positions.

You know, it’s funny how the Republican Party doesn’t mind offending Americans with its close ties to a hate group, but it’s afraid to offend Israelis. Yeah, funny.

I guess Priebus decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and quietly canceled. Hudson and the others made the trip, and are currently getting their heads filled with AFA dogma about Middle Eastern politics. Perhaps when Hudson comes back on Sunday, someone from the Vermont media will ask her what she learned, and about the appropriateness of the Republican National Committee accepting the lavish hospitality of the American Family Association.

Let’s hope so. To date, Seven Days’ Paul Heintz is the only reporter to pursue this story. How about it, VTDigger, Burlington Free Press, Vermont Press Bureau, Associated Press, VPR, WCAX, and WPTZ? The Vermont Republican Party actively distances itself from the more extreme provinces of national conservatism; how do its leaders explain one of their own, who holds a top position with the national party, taking an expensive AFA junket and absorbing its poisonous worldview?

Of course the right wing is still Grubering

Yesterday, I wrote about Neal Goswami’s journalistic self-sacrifice — reading 2,400 pages of government emails so we don’t have to. The emails in question were between the newly-notorious Jonathan Gruber and various Shumlin administration functionaries. And Goswami found a conspicuous absence of scandal. Indeed, the emails painted a picture of some very dedicated people working very hard to devise the best possible single-payer system.

Naturally, though, the lack of scandal hasn’t stopped the right wing from desperately fanning the Gruber flames. This is not at all surprising; in fact, it’s the right wing’s modus operandi. Talking Points Memo:

Gruber-mania has gripped the conservative mediasphere in a way that few stories have, becoming another brand-name controversy like Benghazi and the IRS. An academic who had been little known outside of Washington or Boston has been mentioned nearly 2,800 times in English-language news since news of the most recent video broke last month. Prior to that, across a career that spanned decades and after playing an important role in Massachusetts and national health care reform, he’d been named less than 1,000 times, according to a TPM LexisNexis search.

The lesser members of the mediasphere who operate in this lonely outpost are taking their cues from their big brothers, and trying to make mountains out of molehills.

Take Rob Roper, the Eddie Haskell of Vermont conservatism. He pulled out one brief excerpt from Goswami’s report, which I’d cited as a positive. Key quote from Gruber:

I am really excited to work with you all — I think we have the chance to really make history here.

In Roper’s imagination, this statement immediately disqualifies Gruber. He’s too enthusiastic, see?

So would Gruber mislead Vermont voters because he’d rather make history than not? With over $2 billion at stake, we have to assume the answer is yes.

One little evidence-free assumption, and we can dismiss the entirety of Gruber’s work. Plus any proposal Gov. Shumlin makes because, even if he fired Gruber today, all the work on single-payer has already been thoroughly Grubered.

This is exactly the same rationale used by the far right for ignoring climate science: the scientists have a stake in climate change, so their work can be dismissed.

Look, it’s only natural that an expert would have a lively engagement in her/his field of study. Aren’t you interested in what you do? I hope so. But the academic world — unlike the world of conservative faux-outrage — has ethical standards and principles. Academics have an interest in doing honest work, to ensure that their work has an impact. And, of course, academics who commit fraud see their careers end in shame.

But the Rob Ropers of the world know nothing of this, because their purpose is rousing the rabble. Adhering to the truth is a professional impediment. And fraud is a tried and true method of career advancement.

And that, by the way, is it: The only thing Roper could find in Goswami’s story to yammer about is Gruber’s enthusiasm for his work.

Meanwhile, serial failure Darcie “Hack” Johnston has been busily retweeting stuff from Breitbart.com, one of the sleazier outposts of the conservative mediasphere. For some reason, Breitbart has posted a series of stories about Gruber’s work in Vermont. Seems like small potatoes for a national website, but whatevs.

Johnston is so far out there, she seems to believe that Breitbart is a convincing source of news. In fact, the guy who’s writing its Vermont stories is a proud Tea Partier with no journalistic credentials outside the conservative mediasphere.

But again, I’m not surprised. This is SOP for Johnston: Accept (and broadcast) every conservative source, no matter how shameless, as the Gospel truth.

When, in fact, “truth” has nothing to do with it.