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January 06, 2015

Comments

Afraid I can't help you, I don't watch Fox News. I actually watch CNN more often, because I occasionally go through airports, while watching Fox News is entirely under my control.

However, one incident I'm familiar with is their decision to bar Ron Paul from the 2008 January Presidential debate. That was certainly more establishment than base.

That said, I have occasionally watched Fox, when in the gym the selection on the epicyclic's screen was particularly barren.

My impression is that the people running Fox would probably like to hew to the establishment line more closely, but are rather more constrained in this regard than the establishment. After all, they face an 'election' every day in which "none of the above" is unavoidably on the 'ballot', so they can't just get by being the lesser of several evils, they actually have to appeal to the Republican base to some extent, or get tuned out.

But they don't seem to be aiming to appeal to conservatives as conservatives understand themselves, but instead try to appeal to conservatives as they are understood by the party establishment. If you understand the distinction. This is probably not so evident to anyone who shares the Republican establishment's rather low opinion of actual conservatives, (As Democrats would.) but it's pretty conspicuous to anybody who doesn't start out despising conservatives. I guess it's like the difference between speaking a language like a native, and like a foreigner.

That's the basis for my impression. They seem to be trying to appeal to conservatives in the way the establishment does, on the occasions that it bothers. Not in the way conservatives try to appeal to other conservatives. They are just forced to put on this act a lot more of the time.

The tension between keeping up the act, to remain commercially viable, and furthering the cause of the party establishment, must be a real headache for them.

Who are these real conservatives, and how do they understand themselves?

They seem to be trying to appeal to conservatives in the way the establishment does, on the occasions that it bothers. Not in the way conservatives try to appeal to other conservatives.

Brett - Can you tease that second sentence out a little bit more (if you have time)? What does a conservative to conservative appeal look like and how does that specifically differ from the Foxnews/Establishment approach in your view? Do you have a couple examples in mind?

I'm genuinely curious.

Brett:

Let me second Ugh's request. Tell us more!

Good point about Ron Paul. Do you remember what excuse they gave? And what the real reason was for blackballing him?

My (very vague) impression at the time was that it had something to do with Paul's comparative pacifism and isolationism. Which implies that that's an actual substantive poicy difference between Fox and the Base.

I thought the "unifying message" at Fox was the sitting of attractive female newsreaders and guess so as to garner the most leg exposure as possible.

Although Fox News/Fox Business gives a few seats at the table to libertarians, others at the table are not necessarily that fond of them.

Ugh:

Well, take illegal immigration as an example. The conservative case against illegal immgration, and against preferential immgration from Mexico/South American, is multifaceted. There's the presumption that people who come here in violation of are law are less law abiding than people who come here complying with our laws. There's the belief that people bring their culture with them, and that not all cultures are actually a positive contribution to our society. Conservative opposition to illegal immgration is actually consistent with favoring "cream skimming" legal immgration of law abiding, educated people from successful cultures. Opposition to H1B visas, for instance, doesn't mean opposition to immigration by these people, but instead opposition to bringing them here as temporary serfs, instead of legal immgrants.

The GOP establishment version of this is that conservatives are xenophobic, and oppose all immigration. So they'll try to satisfy the right by making *legal* immgration harder, while doing nothing about illegal immgration. Which gets it pretty much backwards.

"From my view on the outside, it looks as though there are two important groups in the Republican party: the Establishment, and the Base. By the "Establishment" I mean major individual and corporate donors, and career politicians (and their staffs). "

Except for the massive funding going to Tea Party causes.

The Tea Party was something very, very useful to the Establishment, to buy time after the disaster of 2008, and is still useful to many extremely wealthy people.

(Slightly OT)
Here's a Republican modest proposal I approve of:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/5893/text

I think part of the problem is that you've oversimplified the Republican base. It might be more accurate to say that it consists of two groups -- which have fundamental disagreements on many issues. Neither is really conservative, in the traditional (or current, outside the US) meaning of the term.

On one hand, you have the reactionaries. They have no problem at all with government in general, or government enforcement of standards, so long as it's enforcing their preferred standards. They only rage against the government because they (correctly) see it as not enforcing their preferences. These are Fox News' core audience.

On the other hand, you have the libertarians. They (to varying degrees) dislike government enforcing anything. That is IMHO why Brett isn't a devoted Fox News watcher -- he's far more of a libertarian than a reactionary. (Not to mention that he has a better grip on reality than Fox News. And probably prefers his fiction with better scripting. ;-)

So what it comes down to is this. Fox News (as far as one can tell from a distance) is the cheerleader for the reactionary base. But doesn't much speak for the libertarian base.

"Except for the massive funding going to Tea Party causes"

Essentially just an effort by the party establishment to coopt the Tea Party. Tea party in name, but doing what the establishment wants.

What did I say, WJ? That the Republican establishment views the Republican base in much the same way Democrats do. All you're doing is confirming that.

Here's the situation, as I see it: There are a lot of Republican politicians, in positions of power, who'd have prefered to have been Democrats, but, darn, they started their carreers in places where the Democratic party was a dead end. So, here they are, stuck in a party whose positions they don't agree with, but which they have to pretend agreement with in order to keep a job.

In the minority, they've got things cushy: They can make a show of putting up a fight, lose, and get the credit for fighting the good fight, AND get the policy they really wanted. That was mostly the situation prior to the 90's, and with no way for the party base to distiguish between genuine Republicans, and, yes, "RINO"s, the latter were able to worm their way into positions of power and influence.

Now they're in the majority, and it's a lot harder. They take a dive, people notice. The people who notice try to do something about it. But they are in positions of power and influence, so they can fight back pretty effectively.

It isn't really in the interest of the Democratic party for the Republican party to be an effective opposition party, let alone an effective majority party, so they are on the same page as the Republican establishment in going after the Tea party movement.

Brett, are you saying that *I* represent the GOP establishment? The mind boggles....

I would say I run generally libertarian on social and cultural issues. And mildly conservative otherwise. (Or, as one of my more liberal friends once put it: "But you're a tolerant conservative!" Like that is some kind of anomaly.)

That certainly doesn't fit me neatly in with either of the parts of the base I see. But doesn't really put me in with the establishment either. And would be a terrible fit for the Democrats. Even with the number Democrats who have been moving towards the moderate conservative space that the GOP has abandon of late.

I'm saying that the Republican establishment views its own base in much the same way as Democrats do. Culturally and ideologically, the GOP establishment have more in common with the Democratic party establishment, than with the Republican base.

The main difference between FOX and the Republican establishment, is that FOX is under tighter constraints to put up a pretense of agreeing with the base.

I'm saying that the Republican establishment views its own base in much the same way as Democrats do

cite?

or are you assuming you know the minds of tens of millions of people?

(not that there aren't plenty of lefties who claim to represent the true liberal left)

I never watch Fox News, in fact not a lot of people do. I looked up those numbers a while back.

As far as the number of times they use the term illegal, for more than half my life they were commonly referred to as illegal aliens, changed by the progressive politicians to illegal immigrants, then that still seemed disparaging so they became undocumented. They are illegally in the country so if you want to discuss t HGH e "story" then count the times they are referred to as documented on MSNBC, or NBC for that matter.

They sure aren't risking political destruction over and over on the issue of illegal immgration out of a profound disagreement with Democratic positions, that's for sure. You suppose Bush signed the Brady Bill after promising to veto it because he

There have been polls on the subject. On one subject after another, illegal immigration, abortion, gun control, the views of federal elected Republicans systematically differ from the views of their base, and more closely resemble the views of Democrats.

Only their need to survive the next election gets the Republican base any real representation in Washington.

Which raises the interesting question:
If the only reason that the Republican politicians act as they do is fear of getting primaried, what is wrong with our electoral system? After all, the Republican base ought to be able to elect politicians that actually believe as they do, shouldn't they? So what would need to change to make that happen?

On one subject after another, illegal immigration, abortion, gun control, the views of federal elected Republicans systematically differ from the views of their base, and more closely resemble the views of Democrats.

can we assume you meant "elected Democrats"?

because you'll find no shortage of people who vote Democratic but who think the party is far too centrist. and the self-proclaimed Dem base is pretty sure that Obama is a closet Republican, or would've been a Republican in Nixon's time, or whatever.

"party differs from base" isn't a new situation. it's the guaranteed outcome of a two-party system.

wj:

The same thing that would need to change if the Democratic base were to get politicians elected who believe as we do (e.g. who favor a public option or indeed single payer for health insurance):

money.

Both party establishments tilt *really* heavily toward policies favored by their donor classes, i.e. the very rich. Both party bases would *love* to see more accountability in the political bureaucracy, the financial system, the military, law enforcement: for people who mess up to be fired if not prosecuted. There's no accountability because the donor class doesn't want it.

Dr. S,
I had the same initial reaction.

But I'm hoping to get some of those who argue (or sympathize with those who argue) for the right to unlimited political contributions to come up with some other way to solve the problem. After all, if limiting money can't be the solution, then what is? It will be interesting to see what gets offered....

After all, if limiting money can't be the solution, then what is? It will be interesting to see what gets offered....

Fewer rich people, or better yet, a flatter income distribution. We have consciously engaged in public policies over the last 40 years to redistribute wealth and income upward.

It is time for the rich to get off, or be taken off, the public teat.

Yes, elected Democrats is what I meant. Elected Republicans and Democrats, at the federal level, are more like each other in their views, than they are like their own party's base, though it's my impression the elected Democrats might be more in line with their base. That might just be parallax, though.

What's the source of the problem? Any political system, in order to work, has to constrain the tendency of people, once elected, to do what THEY want, not what the people who elected them want. Naturally, the people who get elected do not want to be so constrained. If they have the capacity to alter the rules, they will, to render the system less responsive to the voters.

In America, we call that process "campaign reform"; Politicians apparently like the irony.

Here is the issue I have with people who go on about how the (R) party isn't really conservative.

The reason they are in office is because somebody votes for them. And for "somebody", read "a lot of people".

They may or may not be anybody's ideal of conservatism, whatever that ideal may be, but if you vote for them, they are your representatives and your public face.

You need to own it.

If, as a gesture of conservative purity, you never vote, or you only vote for odd third party candidates who meet your standard of purity, then this doesn't apply to you.

I doubt there are all that many people reading this who fall into that category.

The reason they are in office is because somebody voted for them. The reason somebody voted for them, is that they arranged for nobody better to be on the ballot. Passed laws so that very few people could get enough money together to run a campaign, put together arrangements with the media to freeze alternatives out of the coverage, passed laws limiting the choices to just two. Thanks to this, they don't have to actually get the people who vote for them to like them, only to loath them less than the other guy who was permitted on the ballot.

Who gets his votes on the same basis.

So, no, the fact that conservatives vote for somebody doesn't mean they're conservative on some absolute scale. It just means they've contrived to be the lesser of the two evils they will let people have a chance to vote for.

My point overall is that there seems to be some idea of their being some *real* conservatives, who aren't the people elected to office under the (R) banner, and who shouldn't be confused with those elected (R)'s because those elected (R)'s aren't really conservative.

More specifically, those *real* conservatives shouldn't be held to account in any way shape or form for what those elected (R)'s do and say, because the elected (R)'s aren't *real* conservatives, they are just the ones who manage to game the system enough and exploit their faux conservatism enough to gain office.

I find all of that to be bunk.

Somebody votes for them. The people who vote for them own the policies and actions they carry out while in office.

Same for (D)'s and the folks who vote for them.

You might hold your nose and vote, but you vote nonetheless. You own the actions of the folks you vote for, because their ability to do whatever it is they do is a consequence of your vote.

"After all, if limiting money can't be the solution, then what is? It will be interesting to see what gets offered...."

Take away from elected politicians the power to regulate how people go about trying to unseat them. The answer is not campaign reform, campaign reform is the problem, it is incumbents putting up barriers to challengers.

Minimal ballot access rules.

Abolish the limits on campaign donations. Nothing frightens an incumbent more than the thought that challengers might be able to put together enough money to be heard. Money doesn't get you elected, it just gets you heard, and incumbents want to limit money in politics because they don't have to worry about challengers who don't get heard.

In short, undo the last 40-50 years of campaign "reforms", which were never anything but incumbents entrenching themselves so that they wouldn't have to represent the voters.

Brett, not all campaign reforms are frauds. For example, we put thru a reform (via initiative, not surprisingly) to take the power to draw districts away from the politicians. First result: a lot fewer "safe" districts. Next result: a lot more politicians who have to actually pay attention to what all of their constituents (not just those in their party; not just those who fund them) want.

Third result (which may surprise you): a lot more centerist politicians. A lot fewer pure liberals or pure conservatives. It appears that most voters aren't actually ideologically pure -- they are far more interested in government that works. A lot of Democratic politicians seem to be discovering their inner moderate.

Republican politicians, so far, have mostly held off creeping centerism, thus holding on to their massive irrelevance in state government. Mostly, but not entirely. We are starting to see rather more moderate Republican politicians turn up. Which means we see things like a moderate Republican, in my (heavily Democratic by registration) Assembly district, beating out the former head of the Teachers Union last fall.

Take away from elected politicians the power to regulate how people go about trying to unseat them.

Assuming that election procedures are a matter of law, how does this work, exactly?

"You own the actions of the folks you vote for, because their ability to do whatever it is they do is a consequence of your vote."

One of the rare occasions where I disagree with russell. Lots of us vote lesser of two evils or even if we like the person we vote for, we don't necessarily endorse all of their positions. In our system if you vote third party your vote is at best irrelevant and at worst it just helps the Republican win (if you're a lefty) or a Democrat win (if you're a conservative).

Though as best I can tell, a great many conservative voters like some of the worst things about the Republican Party. Being pro-"enhanced interrogation", for instance. But I don't really know that--it's just an impression I have.

Assuming the election procedures are things like the form of the ballot, what day the election is on, where the polling places are... Virtually the entirety of "going about trying to unseat them" consists of the campaign, which is speech about candidates, I would say: You don't regulate campaigns.

If I had my druthers, we wouldn't even print ballots. You'd have to know the name of every candidate you wanted to vote for, but crib sheets would be permitted. Printing ballots provides an excuse to exclude names from the ballot, which is one of the primary ways that incumbents make sure they don't have to worry about being unseated.

There are other changes I'd make, like at large PR, but the big thing would be, totally unregulated campaigns.

But not having names printed on ballots is an excuse to find names you don't like to be "unreadable". Or 'misspelled". Or otherwise not counted. If you thought we had problems because of "hanging chad",....

Lots of us vote lesser of two evils or even if we like the person we vote for, we don't necessarily endorse all of their positions. In our system if you vote third party your vote is at best irrelevant and at worst it just helps the Republican win (if you're a lefty) or a Democrat win (if you're a conservative).

Second this. It's what I grimly refer to as the lesson of 1934. Elections have consequences, and abstaining because you have radical ideological differences with both frontrunners doesn't mean you don't have more ideological differences with one than the other, and that it won't be subjectively worse for that more-different party to take power.

Virtually the entirety of "going about trying to unseat them" consists of the campaign

Redistricting after a census?
Laws about requirements for voters to be able to vote or not?

Not relevant?

Lots of us vote lesser of two evils or even if we like the person we vote for, we don't necessarily endorse all of their positions.

"Endorse all of their positions" is not the same as "own responsibility for the consequences of your vote".

I voted for Obama, I own my share of responsibility for his policies, even if they aren't ones I would have recommended.

Likewise, conservatives and the elected (R)'s.

Complaining about our crappy electoral system is in the same bucket IMO, it's our responsibility to change it if it doesn't serve us well.

IMO the policies put forth by the (R)'s are harmful crap, by and large, and I'm not patient with folks who claim to be conservative but don't want to take any ownership for what the folks they voted for do.

"They don't represent me or my point of view!". Actually, if you voted for them, they do.

In as much as the people trying to unseat an incumbent are not in a position to redistrict or enact laws, yeah, I'd say they're not part of the process of trying to unseat incumbents. More, the process by which incumbents seek to render themselves invulnerable.

The competition between the two major parties is almost an epiphenomenon, compared to the efforts of incumbents of both parties to quash any hope of unseating them. That's the main reason gerrymandering doesn't produce more opposition: While it reduces the targeted party's number of seats a little, it renders the surviving incumbents untouchable. That's also the main practical limit on gerrymandering: It increases a party's number of seats by rendering that party's incumbents more vulnerable, and they'll only tolerate a limited amount of that.

"They don't represent me or my point of view!". Actually, if you voted for them, they do.

I agree with the first half, but not the second. They may represent me, but they don't represent my views. Admittedly, "represent" means different things in each of those clauses.

The elected officials who represent me represent me whether I agree with them or not - or even whether I voted for them or not. They may not reflect me, pay any heed to me, or have my continuing support, though. However, if I held my nose and voted for them, I've chosen to lend the legitimacy of my vote to their term in office, for better or worse, so to that degree, I agree.

I'm not sure that the Tea Party is the Republican base.

The Tea Party seems, to me, to be nothing but a reaction to having Obama as President. And by "having Obama as President", I'm saying, it doesn't really matter if it's Obama or another black dude sitting there, doing exactly what the Tea Party wants (except for resigning...).

Racist? IMNSHO, yes. That is the way that I see it, and I don't care who knows that I think it is. I think it may have started out as a non-partisan thing (or at least as small as possible), but it got co-opted early by the Koch brothers, and we have what we see today. An Internet acquaintance, full blown libertarian, that claimed that he was working on the Tea Party, and then the big bucks came in and changed everything, and he dumped it. I don't think he would lie to me...

They can point to Herman Cain and Ben Carson, but seriously, does anybody think that the Republicans are going to put a black man on the Presidential ballot any time soon [even as Vice President and expect to win!]? I just don't see it. Maverick McCain tried to spice things up with a woman as running mate. That may have gone better than Ferraro, but the result was still the same. And unfortunately, for pretty much the same reasons, although those that would have voted down any female candidate have now passed. Much like my Reagan Democrat father.

When Obama has stepped down, I think that the Tea Party will have lost most of the wind in its sails. Of course, a woman in the job may fire them up just as much (HRC or Warren), and so it may be a bit longer before they officially go away, but they will go away, as soon as either it's a Republican (by definition Straight White Male)or a SWM Democrat there. They will have lost their "bitch" point then.

The call for more fiscal conservatism may last, but I don't really think anybody with half a brain expects there to be any kind of major reduction in federal spending. That's power, and only the stupid (i.e., Tea Party) would call for diminishing their own power. And if somehow there becomes a Congress that does do so, expect there to be quite the turnover when elections come around the next two years, and possibly for the next six years.

And of course, Koch's fiscal conservatism seems to be a driving force, but unless it's all about lowering the taxes and to hell with the spending, I just don't see a point where anybody can point and say that the Koch's won. If anything, the money spent on campaigns will just reach higher records. Sorry when you spend $2 billion on 300 million people, don't tell me that is line with what has been historically with past elections, it simply falls flat on it's face.

Maybe it's about getting rid of the social net, but I'm not even sure that the average Tea Party even knows enough details to know how badly that would turn out for them.

Fox News would switch sides in a second if it meant better ratings and therefore more money from advertising. So I really don't see it as representing a side as much as it just currently is their best fiscal interest to do what they do. So I think that's a big divide between Fox News and the Republican base, right there.

And I guess I'm one of those lefty's who think that Obama is more of a Republican than a Democrat.

No, Obama is definitely not more of a Republican than a Democrat. Now if you want to argue that he is more of a conservative than a liberal, you might have a case. A very good case, even. But those are two very different things.

Now if you want to argue that he is more of a conservative than a liberal, you might have a case.

a case that will involve very non-standard and narrow definitions which reflect the definer's POV more than anything else. and it will likely be a case which will rely on looking backwards to people who don't inhabit today's political universe and who wouldn't know which end is up if they found themselves here.

but, by today's standards, in this country, along the spectrum of positions that a person can hold and be elected to national office, Obama is not conservative and he's not a Republican.

it's easy to test this: simply ask someone who actually calls himself a conservative if Obama is one of his tribe. if a member of the tribe says he doesn't meet the criteria, then we should probably take his word for it.

another way to test this: he was nominated by the Democratic party, not the GOP. he won the election as a Democrat, not as a Republican. today. in our time. not in LBJ's time. not in FDR's time.

but, if you want to go back to 19f'ing38, for example, and make FDR the high ideal of liberalism, you'll have to handwave away the multitude of things that the pure pony progressive perfect people would crucify him for: the detention of the Japanese, the firebombings, the invention of the A-bomb. Truman will be right out for delivering the A-bombs, because we know all perfect progressives are now pacifists. and we know if can't be JFK or LBJ because Vietnam makes drone strikes look like a fnking candygram.

FFS

In today's world, if you are a Republican, you can be a conservative, a libertarian, a reactionary . . . or, apparently, a RINO (mild consedrvative). On the other hand, you can be a Democrat and be a liberal, a moderate, maybe a socialist, . . . or even a mild conservative.

Today, you can no longer be a Republican and be a liberal. And you can no longer (as far as I can tell) be a Democrat and be a reactionary. Either of those was possible in the middle of the last century, but no longer.

Which brings us to Obama. Look at his statements. Look at his actions in office. What do you actually see? You hardly see a liberal. (Doubt it? Ask any actual liberals you know what they think of his record. The lack of enthusiasm is noticable -- although they do seem mystified as to why not.) You definitely don't see a socialist. Whether you think you see a moderate, or a mild conservative, may be a matter of degree more than anything else.

if I held my nose and voted for them, I've chosen to lend the legitimacy of my vote to their term in office, for better or worse

Yes, that is what I've been trying to say.

That, and the fact that since that is so, you might as well own it.

Well and concisely said, thank you.

Obama is definitely not more of a Republican than a Democrat.

When Obama was running, my take on him was that he was basically the second coming of Eisenhower.

In context, I saw that as pretty much a very good thing. Still do.

The reality of 21st C US political culture is that Eisenhower, like Obama, would be seen by many folks as a full blown socialist.

Hard to say who would be conservative enough for the true believers nowadays. Not Reagan, definitely not Bush I, for sure not Nixon.

Goldwater maybe? Not religious enough.

Ron Paul? Not gung-ho "America F*** Yeah!"-ish.

Crazy days, nowadays.

Obama is a not a liberal. He is not un-liberal or anti-liberal, but he's not what this member of the liberal tribe would call a liberal.

On the other hand, he is definitely not a conservative. Cleek's Test is the right one: few if any members of the conservative tribe would call Obama conservative.

I voted for Obama (twice) in the primaries and in the generals. It was the first time I ever voted for somebody younger than me for president; that was traumatic, but not on-point here. The point here is that I am with Russell: Obama may do things I oppose, but I am (in very small part) responsible for his having the power to do them. The people who voted for McCain and Romney would have been in equal (and equally small) measure responsible for the actions of those clowns, had they prevailed.

--TP

So, russell, I'm curious. Can you think of any 20th century Republican President who would be considered "conservative enough for the true believers nowadays"?

Personally, I think the only one who comes close is Coolidge. Maybe.

But, a man whose career was build on breaking the Boston Police Strike, including firing the entire police force of the city of Boston? A man who was both outspoken, and as President took actions, in support of Civil Rights, for blacks and for American Indians? Definitely seems like a stretch.

Ask any actual liberals you know what they think of his record.

i like it. mostly.

it's not perfect, but why should i expect it to be? nobody could have a perfect record, not even me. even i couldn't make 100% perfect decisions as President because sometimes the options are between bad and worse.

and there has never been one single President who will meet the ridiculously strict standards for purity of thought, speech and action that liberals of today demand that Obama meet. none of the liberal icons of yore will pass the test - every one of them has one or more major aspects which should exclude them.

but no. people say Obama must be a conservative or a Republican because his right-most extremes might overlap with Nixon's leftmost extreme - but only if you ignore the context in which those extremes occurred and assign all responsibility to the President (and not Congress, or other outside factors). FDR is the great liberal icon, but only if you ignore some of his very illiberal actions, likewise LBJ, and especially Clinton. but with Obama, we have to ignore his liberal accomplishments, pretend all those icons of yore would've put a Hispanic woman and a Jewish woman on the Court and sit idly by while gay marriage legality swept the country; and we must focus on the illiberal things he did so that we can find a way to call him a Republican or a conservative.

it's dishonest. it's posturing.

IMO

obviously, this is something that annoys me. :)

Can you think of any 20th century Republican President who would be considered "conservative enough for the true believers nowadays"?

No, but I'm not really the right person to ask.

Ask any actual liberals you know what they think of his record.

IMO Obama has been a very good President, especially given the state of the nation when took office and the sheer boneheaded obstinate virulence of the opposition he has had to work with.

He is, and has been, the best President available, which is to say the best President that could imaginably have won office, and that is about as good as it gets. We've been damned lucky to have him.

If there were better folks on offer who did not win the day -- a claim which I personally would say is not in evidence -- the blame lies with us, not Obama. He's in office because we put him there.

Way up thread, Brett lamented FOX News blocking Ron Paul from the Presidential debates in 2008.

Doctor Science speculated that the move was because of Paul's isolationist positions on foreign policy and intervention, which I seem to recall too, with the further reason that Paul threatened the gigantic military-industrial complex (there's some Eisenhower for you) that bankrolls both political parties.

It's telling that FOX's reasons seemed not to include among its reasons the caliber (high, large clip, probably with cop-killing jacketed ammo) of Paul's political associates among the Libertarian and Republican base:

http://newsone.com/1748295/top-10-racist-ron-paul-friends-supporters/

David Duke, for example, has loved him some Ron Paul and the latter kind of returned the love along the way.

One could speculate that maybe Duke and some of the other beauties on that list might have been bruited around a Paul White House as Cabinet candidates as a way of employing some inclusive affirmative action on behalf of the neglected base of the far Right -- victims, natch, of the Establishment.

One could further speculate that Paul might have reached across the aisle to the Democratic side of things, in a bid to placate a#sholes of all stripes, and cherry picked Al Sharpton, perhaps to a sub-Cabinet Advisory Board of some kind which might report to Duke regarding, say, the Jewish Problem in International Financial Institutions.

from what i've seen of Fox, they are primarily cheerleaders for the GOP establishment. but they do give time to libertarian ideas. Hannity, and Stossel especially, can be counted on to make the explicit small-/anti-government case for things (Hannity because he's a rabble-rouser who will take any opportunity to attack the left, and Stossel because he's a true believer).

but with Obama, we have to ignore his liberal accomplishments, pretend all those icons of yore would've put a Hispanic woman and a Jewish woman on the Court and sit idly by while gay marriage legality swept the country; and we must focus on the illiberal things he did so that we can find a way to call him a Republican or a conservative.

it's dishonest. it's posturing.

Obama is another Clinton. He's center-left on social issues as you point out, but he's center right on fiscal and foreign policy issues. So it doesn't take dishonest posturing to consider him right-leaning, or a milquetoast center-right corporatist technocrat. It merely means that domestic social issues are not the be-all, end-all of one's appraisal of the President. Indeed, to ignore his foreign policy and fiscal issues and declare him a staunch leftist would require dishonest posturing, and to pretend that the nation's shift of the non-social political center-of-mass to the right over the last several decades means we're obliged to judge political leanings only by the current moment's center-of-mass.

IMO.

Obviously, this is something that annoys me as well.

I'm not so sure that Obama is that far left on social issues either. For example, gay marriage may be sweeping the country during his administartion. But he has hardly been leading the charge -- belatedly following it would be closer.

Maybe we could compromise on "cautiously center-left" as a description?

but he's center right on fiscal and foreign policy issues

some fiscal and foreign policy issues.

there are certainly plenty of things he's done or supports on fiscal issues that no Republican ever would: raising the minimum wage, equal pay for women, raising taxes, his immigration policy, etc..

and ... what's your definition of a liberal foreign policy? it obviously can't be pacifism because that would exclude all presidents, even Carter.

cleek, did you notice that the US Chamber of Commerce is in favor, strongly in favor, of raising the gas tax (in order to fund the Highway Trust Fund)? I suppose that means that they don't count as conservatives these days either....

I'd say not inclined to wage war (high or low intensity) or otherwise aggressively interfere (to include not just primarily physical aggression but also economic actions like imposing "austerity measures" or sanctions with deleterious humanitarian impact) in the affairs of other nations with the primary aim of promoting American hegemony or corporate profits.

I'll gladly concede your contended absence of US presidents with meaningfully liberal foreign policies. But that doesn't mean we change the meaning of the terms to cover the politically acceptable universe of American discourse. If we do that, then yes, Obama is a socialist, because we're just redefining terms to match behaviors that actually see the light of day. All words have meanings, or none do.

*strictly cover the...

John Boehner touts his record of having never voted to raise the gas tax.

An article on the history of the federal gas tax starts:

As Congress considers raising the federal tax on gasoline for the first time since 1993...

He's a funny orange man.

NV, just curious how you square "not inclined to wage war" with all the drone strikes. Do you see them as an alternative to wars which would otherwise be waged? Or what?

cleek, did you notice that the US Chamber of Commerce is in favor, strongly in favor, of raising the gas tax

i hadn't. but i think that's awesome.

can they get behind raising the marginal rates?

I'll gladly concede your contended absence of US presidents with meaningfully liberal foreign policies.

then that should make the category moot. not that i like it that way, but if we're trying to decide if Obama is a Republican or a conservative or whatever, that particular test yields no information.

wj, I'd count targeted assassinations by military or paramilitary organizations as falling well within the purview of low intensity warfare.

then that should make the category moot. not that i like it that way, but if we're trying to decide if Obama is a Republican or a conservative or whatever, that particular test yields no information.

...and Obama is a socialist. Got it.

...and Obama is a socialist. Got it.

oh look, a bunch of straw crudely shaped into a person.

cleek, if we're going to re-define "liberal" as to mean "the left edge of policies that are politically acceptable in contemporary America", then we can't cry strawman when the right does the same thing with "socialist". Words have meanings, or they don't.

if we're going to re-define "liberal" as to mean "the left edge of policies that are politically acceptable in contemporary America"

i'm not suggesting we do that.

again...

Obama's military actions are absolutely in line with every other Democratic President. and compared to LBJ and FDR who are held up as liberal paragons, and who are always cited by his critics as the kind of liberal Obama ought to be, Obama's military actions are quite meager.

so, yeah, he uses drones to kill people who want to kill us - and there's often collateral damage. but he's got a few more orders of magnitude to go before he reaches the collateral damage levels of LBJ and FDR.

killing people is enough to disqualify Obama as a liberal President, but it's utterly irrelevant for the guys Obama is supposed to emulate. why is that?

Because it's not irrelevant for them, either. Now who's making strawmen?

I would suggest that there is a difference between inheriting a war (LBJ), or having the nation attacked by another nation (FDR), and launching attacks in places where there is no particular threat to the US (BO in Yemen). You will note that I wasn't bringing up his actions in Iraq or Afghanistan, which he inherited.

"but he's got a few more orders of magnitude to go before he reaches the collateral damage levels of LBJ and FDR."

OTOH, he is kind of casual about declarations of war and the war powers act. Kind of casual about the notion that anybody else in government gets to make decisions, actually.

But he has hardly been leading the charge -- belatedly following it would be closer.

This provides some perspective on 'leading the charge'. Why You Can't Understand Obama Until You Understand Hawaii

I have to admit, I felt rather disappointed when he triangulated that particular position early on, so I'm not offering this as an excuse, but when temperament and actions overlap, temperament has a way of guiding things the way it wants.

It would have been shocking if he hadn't triangulated that particular position, in as much as his electoral strategy relied on getting essentially the entire black vote, (93-94%) and blacks are probably the Democratic constituency which is most hostile to SSM.

LJ and Brett make excellent points. But regardless of the electoral calculus or the personality preference for taking things slowly, it still isn't the flamboyant liberalism that liberals apparently expected. (Of course, it isn't the flamboyant liberalism that conservatives expected either. But they haven't seemed burdened by that reality.)

nv,

if we're going to re-define "liberal" as to mean "the left edge of policies that are politically acceptable in contemporary America", then we can't cry strawman when the right does the same thing with "socialist". Words have meanings, or they don't.

I think we can. Vague a term as it is, "socialist" is still more precise than "liberal" by a lot. The policy implications of "liberal" and "conservative" seem to me to depend heavily on the particular political context involved. This is not so true of "socialist." Under no reasonable definition of that term could Obama's policies, including ACA, be considered socialist.

No, the ACA would be more "fascist", in the economic sense, which left-socialists really don't like to admit is just a variation on socialism where the government leaves the means of production nominally in private hands, but takes effective ownership by dictating in detail how it is to be used. The most precise description I've seen of fascism was "socialism with a veneer of capitalism".

Agreed, "liberal" and "conservative" have to be defined contextually, they're really meaningless apart from context, being relative terms.

byomtov, in the current usage, "socialist" seems to mostly mean "I don't like him." That is, it has become more of a generic insult than any actual label for economic views.

The most precise description I've seen of fascism was "socialism with a veneer of capitalism".

I give Mussolini the last word.

Or, we can all just make up our own definitions, according to our particular agendas.

Fascism, Socialism, Racism, Conservatism, Liberalism, Capitalism. I quote the Great Mr. Bueller:

Not that I condone fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism's in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I'd still have to bum rides off people.

Plenty of word salad there, Russell, but "socialism with a veneer of capitalism" certainly sums up the practice of fascism in the economic realm.

Because it's not irrelevant for them, either.

you pay attention the next time someone is complaining that Obama isn't as liberal as LBJ, see if they bring up LBJ's body count.

OTOH, he is kind of casual about declarations of war and the war powers act.

as opposed to...? who was the last President to meet your standards of formality ?

The Walrus was Paul.

Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters.

The problem with Brett's dictum is that it misapplies the word "socialism", not the word "fascism".

Thus it is just a concise political hit piece.

"as opposed to...? who was the last President to meet your standards of formality ?"

As opposed to the law. What any other President dud is irrelevant as to whether hr is casual about it.

Plenty of word salad there, Russell, but "socialism with a veneer of capitalism" certainly sums up the practice of fascism in the economic realm.

Only if you're content with the Twitter version. And not even close to accurate, at that.

People (of all stripes) like to use the word fascism for the same reason they like to use the word Nazi, or Commie, or what have you.

What you're doing here is taking a single element of a complex social and political phenomenon, drawing an ill-fitting and poorly construed analogy to phenomena in a completely different context, and saying the two are the same.

It's bone ignorant, and it's at most a cartoon version of an argument.

Seriously, it's not that hard to think, people should do it more often.

Well, you might not have liked the Iraq war, but Bush did get Congressional approval for it. Didn't call it a "kinetic action" in order to pretend the War Powers act didn't apply, either.

What any other President dud is irrelevant as to whether hr is casual about it.

far from being irrelevant, if i'm trying to figure out why Obama seems to be held to a different standard, it's actually the entire point.

What different standard? Did Bush ever utter the words, "Kinetic action"? Totally blow off the notification clause of the War Powers act? I think not. He claimed he thought it was unconstitutional, and complied with it anyway.

What different standard?

read the thread.

Did Bush ever utter the words, "Kinetic action"?

i don't know. is that some kind of magic spell or forbidden oath or is it somehow prohibited by statute ?

Totally blow off the notification clause of the War Powers act?

i assume you're talking about W, because his father, because HW gamed the WPA the same way Obama did.

OK, so W must be your answer.

I regard Fox News as having the same relationship to the RNC as Air America had to the U.S. security apparatus.

"Did Bush ever utter the words, "Kinetic action"?

No, he had other words. Cheney had two words: "F&ck you." Rumsfeld had too many words, rarely in order. Colin Powell's words turned to dust in his mouth as he spoke them.

This Constitution you speak of, is it satisfied with mere compliance, or does it get a little pissed off when compliance is prized from its jaws by murderous, congenital liars and agreed to by gullible putzes of either party, including the sh*thead masses of the so-called American people, self-appointed ignoramuses.

That the murderous debacle of the War in Iraq was constitutionally engaged in gives your document no credit, except for stupidity and gullibility.

America makes sh*t up and then calls in the attorneys to adjust the punctuation.

What different standard?

heh. I must have missed the massive GOP demonstrations in the street against the use of drones. Were they shown on Fox news?

America makes sh*t up and then calls in the attorneys to adjust the punctuation.

Absolutely.

"What any other President dud is irrelevant as to whether hr is casual about it."

I see what you're doing here under the guise of ham-handed typing.

President Barack Dud followed by Hillary Rodham, the casual President.

You can't fool me.

Do the war dead rest easier because of the casual nature of the casualties?

Would they feel better if their casualties were of the earnest variety?

cleek,
Did you notice that today's Washington Post includes a column by Krauthammer (yes, really!) advocating an increase in the gas tax? And not a minor one either -- he's talking $1 per gallon.

Granted, he's got radically different ideas about what to do with the money. But that he is even raising the idea . . . .

I must have missed the massive GOP demonstrations in the street against the use of drones.

It was a joint demonstration between Democrats and Republicans. You missed it?

But that he is even raising the idea . . . .

Without reading the column, I can tell you that several years ago he suggested the idea on Fox News Sunday (I'm pretty sure it was that show, anyway), which I used to watch during the Shrub Years just to see the Cheerleading for Idiocy.

It was a discussion about cap and trade or carbon taxes or whatever, and he said something to the effect of "There's a very simple and obvious way to reduce fuel consumption in this country. Just enact a very high gas tax, and fuel consumption will drop rapidly and greatly. That's all it will take."

It sounded like he was saying it in more of a "if that's what you want to do" way than saying it was a generally good idea, but at the same time, he didn't go out of his way to say he was actually opposed to it. It gave me the impression that it was something he wasn't entirely hostile towards, which for him is exceptional, hostility being kind of his thing.

Krauthammer is just another statist who wants to use government to manipulate people into living their lives in a way he approves of.

a column by Krauthammer (yes, really!) advocating an increase in the gas tax?

holy crap.
we are living in interesting times.

Well, he does make the point that reducing oil consumption will damage Russia, Venezuela, Iran, etc. -- i.e. countries that he disapproves of. I believe that the phrase was "win-win."

It also won't do Saudi Arabia any good. Which he doesn't explicitly mention, but knowing his views on Israel and its neighbors, it seems likely that was in his thoughts as well.

That's brilliant. There's also a simple and obvious way to reduce a person's oxygen consumption: Force them to breath through a straw. Often it will reduce it to zero!

The cost of energy figures into the cost of everything, but I'm sure HE can cope with the price of pretty much every necessity suddenly jumping 10-20%.

Well, you might not have liked the Iraq war, but Bush did get Congressional approval for it.

So many good memories.

My favorite moments in Constitutionalerizing during the good old aughts were the unitary executive and the fourth branch of government.

Pre-emptive strikes, also a crowd pleaser.

And of course we've only recently revisited the glory days of the Bybee-Yoo memos and the torture regime.

Remember this exchange?

Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty.
Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.

I wish we had the time, we could just go on and on.

Bush did get Congressional approval for it.

I'm not sure this is such a strong point. If a President fabricates a case for military action, and then uses that fabrication to get approval, it doesn't seem to me to be any different, in a moral or practical sense, than not seeking the approval at all.

f a President fabricates a case for military action, and then uses that fabrication to get approval, it doesn't seem to me to be any different, in a moral or practical sense, than not seeking the approval at all.

Well, I suppose that impeachment provides some check on "lying the country into a war", but since no blow-jobs were involved, it clearly doesn't rise to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors"

If a President fabricates a case for military action, and then uses that fabrication to get approval, it doesn't seem to me to be any different, in a moral or practical sense, than not seeking the approval at all.

Hey there, now. Back off. If it was good enough for Polk, McKinley, Johnson, and Bush The Younger it must be an American tradition with deep bi-partisan appeal.

The cost of energy figures into the cost of everything, but I'm sure HE can cope with the price of pretty much every necessity suddenly jumping 10-20%.

It would probably be a bad idea to enact a sudden, large increase in the gas tax. Done gradually, though, you could spur, while providing enough time for, innovations which would moderate the cost of and reduce the need for energy (if not necessarily gasoline).

I'd be curious to know, all told, how regressive gas taxes are. My guess is that they are generally regressive.

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