I’ve gotten into a kind of a work routine around here. In the morning, I get my tea and read through all my standard websites. Then I spend most of the day on my paying work — with plenty of breaks for tea drinking and the occasional food. Then I take a break, cook dinner, and spend the rest of the evening writing for Frankly Curious. It works pretty well, because it gives my subconscious the whole day to think about what I’m going to write. The old way could be frustrating with me thrashing around looking for something to write about.
But I’ve noticed something strange. I have an RSS feed with about a dozen blogs that I follow. Yet through most of the day, all that’s going on is Frankly Curious. I’ll look up and see something has come in, and then be let down, “Oh, it’s only me.” There just aren’t that many people around who are as crazy as I am. But there are some. Ted McLaughlin at Job’s Anger, for example. He generally pumps out six articles per day. He’s a good complement to me. He’s more free-wheeling and more graphics oriented. More and more, I’m just bitter and very wordy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Our nation could use a few more thoughtful scolds.
I’ve added him to my RSS feed, but it won’t help my feelings of screaming alone into the ether. He seems to do a dump of the day’s posts right around midnight each day. I’m not sure why. I used to be pretty constrained myself when I used Nucleus as the CMS here. If I scheduled a post, for example, the automatic twitter alert would go out before the article was up. Thankfully, with WordPress, everything works as it should. And that has allowed me to distribute my wisdom on an orderly schedule.
There are, of course, writers I read regularly, but who I don’t RSS with. One of them is Ed Kilgore at Political Animal. He grinds out 12 posts per day — most of surprisingly high quality. I’d love to get alerts from him throughout the day. But my system requires me to load pages, and his site (Washington Monthly) is such a pig because of the overabundance of advertising. A single page is about 3 megabytes and can take several minutes to load. I don’t think people realize just how much traffic they lose for the sake of squeezing a couple of extra pennies out advertisers. It’s better for me to just wait until the end of the day and check what Kilgore had to say all at once.
Similar to Kilgore is Steve Benen at Maddow Blog. But MSNBC only allows one to sign up for their “latest headlines.” Like I want to be inundated with MSNBC garbage all day long. But I have found some RSS feeds worth adding. P M Carpenter’s Commentary keeps up a good schedule, and posts throughout the day. The same is true of No More Mister Nice Blog. And how about I finish it out with Lawyers, Guns, & Money — even though a lot of people write for it. These should all make me feel less alone. Although they may get in the way of my other work…
The first national poll out there measuring reactions to last week’s two big SCOTUS landmark cases is out, from CNN/ORC. Unsurprisingly, it showed a majority of Americans agreeing with Oberkefell v Hodges, though the percentage was higher than one might have guessed, at 59%. But surprisingly, an even higher percentage — 63% — said they agreed with the finding in King v Burwell that “government assistance for lower-income Americans buying health insurance through both state-operated and federally-operated health insurance exchanges is legal…”
Now earlier polling had shown big majorities of the public having no clue that this constitutional challenge to Obamacare was coming. So the numbers CNN/ORC is showing represent another confirmation that the ideas incorporated in Obamacare are a lot more popular than the name, especially among those who are not necessarily responding to partisan cues. This is something Republicans better pay attention to when designing their replace/repeal agenda.
Obamacare Subsidies More Popular Than Same-Sex Marriage?
In an article last weekend, Jonathan Chait took on Ross Douthat, Same-Sex Marriage Won Because Its Opponents Never Had an Argument. Overall, it is very good; he’s right: Douthat’s argument against same sex marriage is stupid — and he’s the best the conservatives have. But it shocks me that smart people like Chait don’t understand why LGBT rights have made such quick progress in this country. Chait noted, “The movement owes its success to any number of things, but surely preeminent among them is the clarity of its core rationale.” Not really — not a number of things, and the clarity of its core rationale surely doesn’t have much if anything to do with it.
If you want to understand why LGBT rights have had such unbelievably great success compared to other civil rights causes, all you have to do is look at Dick and Lynne Cheney. They are two of the most conservative people on the planet. But they were among the majority of Americans who were happy to see marriage equality be the law of the land. This is not because they are evolved on this particular topic. It is because they have a daughter Mary Cheney, who is a lesbian. It is hard to maintain your hatred for “the other” when that “other” is your own daughter.
The smartest thing the LGBT community ever did was decide that they had to destroy the closet. As long as people thought that “gays” were just horrible men having unprotected sex in the bath houses of San Francisco, it was trivial for people to vilify them. But once the LGBT community was everywhere — our sons and daughters, our friends and acquaintances, our postal delivery people and the bag boy at the supermarket — it was impossible to discount it as “those people” who show up only in our fever dreams.
What’s sad is that most groups do not have the luxury that the LGBT community has. Trans-gender people are born everywhere. But our society has done an outstanding job of keeping African Americans and Latinos cut off — living in their own ghettos. The fact that there is the occasional African American and Latino outside the ghettos only highlights the difference. Unless these outliers knew the “rules” of the ruling class, they wouldn’t be allowed outside the ghettos — even though everyone could learn the “rules” if given the chance.
I’ve said it before a lot, “The Cheneys could never give birth to a poor child.” They will never have direct access to the inequities of poverty. So they will never know what it is like and they will never care to find out. It’s great that the LGBT community has the special attribute of being equally distributed throughout society. That has made the recent search for equality easier. But there is no special lesson to be learned from its success. Other groups — poor groups — must try to engender empathy from afar. And that is a far harder sale. Just look at any of the Republican presidential candidates.
We don’t hear much about the filibuster these days, because there is nothing to be done about it. There is a Democrat in the White House, the Republicans have control of the Senate. There is nothing to be gained from cutting back on the filibuster. The only question ever was whether Mitch McConnell might make the calculation that the next president will be a Democrat and the Senate might slip back into the hands of the Democrats. In that case, McConnell’s having restored the full filibuster might make it more toxic for the Democrats to again cut it back. But frankly, I don’t think politicians ever think that strategically. And if things go better for the Republicans in 2016, such a move could ties their own hands.
So I wasn’t at all surprised when The Hill reported Monday, Senate Republicans Slam the Door on Scrapping the Filibuster. They have absolutely no incentive to do anything else. If they find themselves in control of the White House and Congress in 2017, they will absolutely get rid of the filibuster. And they will blame it on the Democrats — who did, after all, make it far less powerful. The fact that this was done because the Republicans had abused it so excessively will not matter in the least — especially to our pathetic press corps.
Let me explain how this works. The Republicans have become the “by any means necessary” party. That’s why they’ve spent millions of dollars looking for any way available to destroy Obamacare. They’ve always known that as long as Obama is president, they won’t be able to do it legislatively. And so they’ve clogged up the courts with the most ridiculous of attacks. Too many liberals now seem to think that John Roberts is on the right side of history. He clearly isn’t. His decision in King v Burwell was really one of exasperation. He was saying, “Stop bugging me! There are some things that you need to do the old fashioned way. Go out and win some elections.”
So if the Republicans find themselves in control of Washington in 2017, they will not let a little thing like the filibuster — that they have so depended upon for decades — stand in the way of the kind of sweeping changes that they want to make. They will lower the top tax rate to 25%. They will savage safety net programs. They will abolish the estate tax. They will fill our courts with ideologue judges who make Clarence Thomas look reasonable. But all of that is on the table only if they maintain control of the Senate and gain control of the White House. There is absolutely no reason to do anything right now.
What’s sad is that The Hill article makes it like the Republicans in general, and Mitch McConnell in particular, are reasonable when it comes to the filibuster. Back in 2005, McConnell thought that the Democrats were abusing the filibuster. He was also in favor of the “Nuclear Option,” which he has more recently claimed is such a terrible thing. This is not a reasonable man. This is a man who does whatever is in his immediate best interests. Right now, it is in his best interests to claim the high ground. The moment that changes, the filibuster is gone. The Hill and everyone else should know this.
Anti-Flag is a post-punk band out of Pittsburgh. They are a very tight outfit — great players, but pretty straightforward in what they do. I like them because of there very prominent leftist politics. Their first album was Die for the Government, and the title track contains the refrain, “You gotta die, gotta die, gotta die for the government. Die for your country? That’s shit!”
I come upon them all the time because I just can’t keep in my head the difference between the words “corps” and “corpse.” So I go to Google and search for “press corpse.” That that always brings me to the Anti-Flag song “Press Corpse” off their 2006 major label debut, For Blood and Empire. It’s a great song. And a good way to start a generic Thursday:
On this day in 1777, Vermont became the first US territory to more or less ban slavery. At the same convention, it adopted universal adult male suffrage and dictated support for public schools. I still find it hard to think that Vermont was not one of the original 13 colonies. But it wasn’t. Apparently, in 1764, King George III set up boundaries between New York and New Hampshire. This left the gaping hole that became Vermont. In order to protect what they saw as encroachment from New York, people from New Hampshire settled in Vermont and eventually a state was born.
One interesting thing about this is that reading about native tribes at the time of the first western contact, I hear the same kinds of things. Different groups of humans are always trying to take others’ lands and protect their own. The fact that the natives acted this way is often used as a justification for treating them like savages. But there is literally no difference. And that’s as true today as it ever has been.
Vermont went on to be the 14th United State — on 4 March 1791. But this history explains a few things about modern Vermont. One is that Vermont has the greatest gun ownership of any state in the northeast. The relatively late frontier formation of the state goes along with that. The other thing is that Vermont is a very liberal state. It seemed to get an early start with regard to that.
Happy anniversary Vermont’s second convention. Also: Bernie Sanders 2016!