Terror hype does not work anymore

If some evil mastermind devised a plan to not only destroy Republican hopes for the 2016 Election but also threaten the party’s continued existence, his plot might have included the Paris attacks and the Syrian refugee crisis. It would be hard to compose out of pure fantasy a scenario more likely to inspire Republicans to set our own house on fire.

A party suffering from a slowly expanding demographic nightmare has one hope for survival – develop a sincere appeal to demographic groups beyond the Neo-Confederate base. Instead, we are slipping into a well-worn groove of ethnic scapegoating, walling off our only political escape route. The world has changed since these tactics helped Bush II win in 2004. What worked then is a non-starter with today’s electorate.

Say what you will about the morality of Karl Rove’s 2002-04 plan. As a short-term strategy it was a work of pure political genius. By welding together terrorist fears and religious fundamentalism, Republicans built a dogwhistle agenda that not only split the Democratic coalition; it finally cleaved the Neo-Confederate right in the South away from their last remaining ties to the Democratic Party.

Unfortunately, that’s not all it did. What boosts your performance in the short term can destroy you over time. Just ask a cocaine addict. Rove imagined that after a series of campaigns built on white nationalism he could somehow force a pivot. In 2005 he tried to leverage the base he’d constructed to pass immigrant-friendly legislation. His new base would have none of it and the effort failed miserably. The Party of Lincoln has been shedding its last fragments of support outside of Dixie ever since.

There are good reasons that a political message based on exploiting terrorism fears has lost its resonance. The 9/11 attacks challenged our unconsidered notions of isolation and very briefly heightened our fears of the rest of the world. Neither of these conditions could last.

A decade and a half into a series of catastrophic adventures abroad, we have lost most of our sense of uniqueness. For the first time in our history, a generation is growing up with a sense of belonging to a larger world. In 1990, 11 million Americans held a passport. Now that figure has risen to 125 million. In 1995, 19 million Americans traveled abroad. Last year we hit another annual record as nearly 70 million Americans traveled to another country.

After invisible WMD’s, Abu Ghraib, CIA torture campaigns, the collapse of Iraq, and our growing domestic awareness of our homegrown violence, we are changing. Americans have lost much of the characteristic naiveté that shaped our global image as bright-faced, adorable morons. We are growing up. Atavistic appeals to racism in response to events abroad simply do not move an American electorate as powerfully as they have in the past.

Complicating this picture is the country’s growing demographic complexity. We are no longer a nation of white suburbanites. Ten percent of new marriages in America cross a racial line. Whiteness, as we have come to understand it, is slowly and steadily disappearing as a dominant ethnic definition. With each election that passes, we are less religious, more urban, and less white than the last time around. Political appeals predicated on a country-music definition of American identity are increasingly counter-productive.

What’s worse, Democrats who were shell-shocked by the brazenness of Rove’s strategy fifteen years ago are better positioned now. In the 2002 election the country had not yet been divided by the Neo-Confederate revival. Democrats were defending seats in the South that they had held since time immemorial. The same poison that finished off the Southern Democrat would cripple the Northern Republican. Consult a map, and the long-term problem with Rove’s strategy becomes evident.

Post-Rove, the Democratic Party is far less ideologically splintered than in the past. Its power is concentrated in the segments of the country generating the most wealth and the most Electoral votes. Cut loose from Southern conservatives, Democrats are no longer dithering in the face of Republicans’ dogwhistle appeals. President Obama’s scorching comments on Tuesday presage a line of attack that Republicans have never faced before. It will not be pretty.

What are Republican candidates doing to avoid being tarred as cowards and maneuvered into the jaws of a demographic trap? Nothing. Instead they are trampling each other to stake out the most absurdly anti-immigrant positions they can conceive. So far there are no signs of caution or restraint. Even David Frum is taking the bait.

Since George Bush II left office in 2009, more American civilians have been killed by gun-wielding toddlers than by terrorists. More Americans have died at the hands of white, Christian domestic terrorists than from murderous Muslims. Almost everything we did under Republican leadership to respond to 9/11 made the world less safe for democracy. Seven years of new leadership has almost, but not quite, recovered the ground we lost under Bush. A national debate over the “safety” of the American people is not a debate we should invite on these terms.

It isn’t hard to find concrete examples of the diminishing power of terror-related campaigning. Notice how President Obama’s handling of the 2012 Benghazi attacks destroyed his hope of winning re-election? See how worries over Benghazi have prevented Democrats from nominating Hilary Clinton?

Terror hype no longer moves the political needle. It merely hardens the already-committed base. And right now, the GOP base is too small to win a national election and too fiercely unpopular to form the core of a wider coalition.

Keep hyping the dangers of accepting Syrian refugees, and we will be treated to a broken record of Republican arguments made in the 30’s about the danger of accepting Jewish Holocaust refugees. With a prominent 2016 Republican Presidential contender carrying the name “Bush,” our best hope is to change the subject as soon as possible.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Election 2016, Foreign Policy, Uncategorized
162 comments on “Terror hype does not work anymore
  1. Shiro17 says:

    If I may, Lifer, I believe there is a strong counter-current that cuts against this logic (and against the Dems, at least right now) that arises from these same arguments. The “invisible WMD’s, Abu Ghraib, CIA torture campaigns, the collapse of Iraq, and our growing domestic awareness of our homegrown violence” that you cite as America growing up in terms of realizing our place in the world have also caused America to grow up in another way: we simply do not trust our Government to always do a good job at things anymore. This stems from non-terrorist sources as well: Katrina, the economy, the Obamacare rollout, the fact that Congress can’t even agree on what to have for lunch without shutting everything down, etc.

    And, that I think is the fundamental problem at work in this refugee debate. Because, let’s face it, there really isn’t anything different from this particular refugee crisis than events that have happened in the past. After the Vietnam War, the US took in over a 100,000 Vietnamese refugees from the war. Maybe in the back of people’s heads, we all thought that some of them might be Vietcong spies or soldiers or something. But, even in the wake of the Watergate scandal that happened at the time, they trusted that President Ford and Carter and the State Department had vetted all of the people correctly. During the Cuban Revolution, right on the heels of McCarthyism and the communism paranoia, and throughout the Cold War, the US willingly accepted millions of Cubans fleeing Castro despite the fact that Castro really hated America and was certainly not above using dirty tactics like what we fear ISIS will do. We also accepted millions of defectors from other communist countries and they were hailed as heroes, not as possible saboteurs. Through all this, the people believed that the government properly allowed these people entry and were able to weed out the bad eggs. But now, nobody trusts that the State Department and DHS were able to correctly vet all 10,000 Syrians. Nobody trusts the FBI and local police to stop any attacks that might happen. Instead, it’s lock the borders and throw away the key!!! And, so long as the Democratic party is the party of the federal government, the Republicans can always exploit this mistrust to their advantage. Any mistake made by the Federal Government becomes the Democrats’ fault, regardless of the fact that the Repubs control everything but the White House.

    • goplifer says:

      ***Maybe in the back of people’s heads, we all thought that some of them might be Vietcong spies or soldiers or something.***

      The resistance to Vietnamese refugees was actually considerably more heated than this week-long hype about Syrians. In fact, it spawned violence all over the country. Along the Gulf Coast the violence led to the emergence of a small racist army and open fighting:


      The most unique aspect of this particular immigrant panic is the power, influence, and scope of the anti-panic. Honestly, I can’t find a single example from our history in which an anti-immigrant wave spawned such a quick and emotional counter-wave.

      The people most likely to suffer must acutely from this brief panic might not even be the Republicans. It might be the cowardly collection of Democrats who reflexively landed themselves on the wrong side of this fight before understanding which way the wind was going to blow.

      • Shiro17 says:

        Ah, well, I don’t remember the backlash being that strong where I was. Being in South Florida, my main experience is with the influx of Cubans. There was some resistance to them at the time, but it died down quickly. I think what helped is that the vast majority of the initial wave of Cubans that escaped were the middle class and business class, not the poor. So, they quickly established themselves as non-threatening and a political force. Now, the only thing that most non-Cubans here resent them for, if anything, is taking the Cuba debate hostage rather than suspect that any of them might be a security threat.

      • goplifer says:

        The Mariel boatlift turned the tide for Reagan in ’80. He condemned Carter’s handling of all of those “criminals” coming from Cuba. Reagan won staunchly Democratic Florida by almost 20 points.

        That said, when you say “I don’t remember…” you are reflecting our most common experience with immigration. Once the hysteria dies down, all we have left is millions of new businesses, fantastic neighbors, new in-laws, and great restaurants. No one remembers how terrified they are, and the next new wave of immigrants is greeted with just as much fear and distortion as the last one. It’s funny the way we’re wired.

      • flypusher says:

        I remember the Texas shrimpers being very unhappy with the Vietnamese immigrants.

        As for the quickness of reaction and counter-reaction, I would think the Internet is doing that.

      • goplifer says:

        Frankly, I don’t remember any counter-reaction at all beyond law enforcement stopping the violence. People just eventually got distracted. This public reaction to anti-immigrant hysteria is unprecedented.

      • 1mime says:

        Distracted? On an issue like this one where people are fleeing for their lives with nothing but what they can carry? What’s most distressing are those who use peoples’ lives in situations like this for selfish purposes. I will not excuse it, regardless of party. It’s just wrong. I am ashamed of all who are pandering fear and using the power of their office to hurt those who need help the most. There is simply no excusing this. I dearly hope that this horrible decision will not fade away in the collective memories of those who will be voting.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, the Dems who voted with the Repubs in favor of more sanctions against Syrian refugees are spineless. The fact that they obviously didn’t do their homework on this issue is even more disgusting. With very little effort, I was able to source in several places, sufficient information to assure me that the current process is very secure….the visa process – not so much. There are times to stand against your party’s president and this was not one of them. I don’t care if there was a “perceived” election issue at stake, this was the wrong decision at the wrong time for the wrong reason. I “expect” this kind of stupidity from Republican rank and file, Democrats need to exercise better judgement and commitment to protecting the most vulnerable. These 47 Democrats failed miserably in this test. This is simply one of those humanitarian issues where leadership and courage are required.

        I have attached a link with the names and phone numbers of 47 Dems who signed on to the GOP bill. Sadly, several on this list will no longer get any campaign donations from me. I am printing the list and will contact their office to tell them to take me off their donor list, and, WHY. It’s all I can do to demonstrate how strongly I feel about their piss-poor vote.


      • Shiro17 says:

        That’s a very weird list of Dems there. They’re all over the place. Some conservative, some very liberal, some VERY close to the establishment. Don’t see much of a theme going there. Wonder what happened.

      • 1mime says:

        I guess you’d have to ask Nancy Pelosi that question, if she knows. Regardless “why” it is still the wrong decision, especially for members of a party which is based upon serving people who have no other champion.

      • 1mime says:

        Another factor is Paul Ryan’s ascendancy to Speaker in a very robust, proactive role. His decision to go all out may explain the more emboldened GOP Congress. Democrats certainly must be aware of the leadership changes, but that still doesn’t make their vote on the refugee issue pardonable.

        Sobering article. Lifer, has the GOP found its mojo in Ryan?


      • flypusher says:

        “Don’t see much of a theme going there. Wonder what happened.”

        I see one: “don’t want to look soft on terrorism.”

        Not unlike what happened when Congress ceded its Constititional duty to declare war to W back in late ’02 early ’03.

        Bunch of invertebrates. But with no chitin either.

      • Shiro17 says:

        ‘I see one: “don’t want to look soft on terrorism.”’

        Ironic, as “doing exactly what the terrorists want you to do by letting them control your decision-making and giving them all the ammo they need to recruit more members” is probably the definition of ‘soft on terrorism.’

  2. Perhaps slightly OT, but related, I read an interesting article in the WSJ a few weeks ago by Joseph Loconte, “When Luther Shook up Christianity.” (http://www.wsj.com/articles/when-luther-shook-up-christianity-1446159795)

    Loconte ponders whether Islam will undergo its own Reformation as a result of all the current sturm and drang in the Middle East. It occurs to me that Islam *is already* in the midst of its Reformation. At it heart, Luther’s Reformation was a back-to-basics movement, i.e. sola scriptura. Fortunately for western civilization, the basic tale of the Christ is that of the Paschal Lamb, and of His two Great Commandments. Radical Islam is also a back-to-basics movement. Unfortunately for the dreary denizens of the Middle East, Islam is at its core a martial religion, and tale of the Prophet one of military conquest.

    The first two clauses of the 1st Amendment are quite marvelous, but one can’t help but wonder whether the Framers gave much thought to the prospect of the prima facie idiotic notion of mass importation of adherents to a religion that is antithetically opposed to those words, and to separation of church and state in general.

    Hmm. When it comes to the Dems’ (new-found) strict constitutionalism, one can’t help but recall an old Star Trek episode denouement:

    Except in this case, we don’t have a handy transporter with which to dispose of the agency of self destruction. 😉

    • 1mime says:

      “Mass importation”??? Ten thousand Syrian refugees constitute mass importation??? In a country of 320 million people?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        For comparison Mine, Canada (population 35 million) is taking in 25,000.

        Within 6 months.

      • EJ says:

        Germany is taking hundreds of thousands.

      • 1mime says:

        EJ, there is simply no excuse for the degrading, embarrassing action taken by our Congress on this issue. I am terribly sad about it for what it says about our nation’s insular, xenophobic thinking. If our Congress thinks this action is admired, shame on them.

      • flypusher says:

        Europe has all those people right there right now. We have the luxuries of distance and time as we choose.

      • 1mime says:

        I know that, Fly, but I guess it boils down to whether America has a humanitarian responsibility to participate. In my view, it does. In fact, I’d like to see the U.S. accept more than 10K Syrians (vetted, of course, through “existing” security protocol). Europe is doing all it can and some small countries more, proportionally – Jordan, Lebanon, etc. I am ashamed of those in America who are so small in their thinking that they cannot differentiate between a war refugee and an immigrant, and a justifiable risk over political opportunism.

    • Griffin says:

      “the basic tale of the Christ is that of the Paschal Lamb, and of His two Great Commandments”

      “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword.” – Jesus (Matthew 10:34)

      “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” -Jesus (Matthew 5:17) (PS This is his way of saying that all that crazy shit from the Old Testament (e.g. killing gays and not eating shrimp) is still relevant).

      Yes Jesus was pretty tolerant by the standards of his time and in many ways a great teacher, but if you went back to the basics of Christianity it would be pretty violent.

      “The first two clauses of the 1st Amendment are quite marvelous, but one can’t help but wonder whether the Framers gave much thought to the prospect of the prima facie idiotic notion of mass importation of adherents to a religion that is antithetically opposed to those words, and to separation of church and state in general.”

      Umm… Islam was a thing in the late 18th century ya know? So clearly they felt it wasn’t a great enough threat to outlaw. Heck the Founders had a direct conflict with Barbary pirates and they still didn’t want to outlaw Islam.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Griffin, these are ppl that use the Bible to justify homophobia, but conveniently forget the parts about slavery being fine, rape is OK (as long as you paybher father and then marry her) and murdering your kids is OK too (if they’re disrespectful). Pointing out obvious inconsistencies never seems to work.

        (“But Jesus died for our sins meaning the OT doesn’t need to be taken word for word” they’ll say. OK fine. So why are the homophobic parts of the OT still relevant then? Jesus was conspicuously silent about gays)

        They’ll happily ignore the peaceful passages ofbthe Qu’ran and focus on the violent while calling Islam a religion of violence, while at the same time focus on the peaceful passages of the Bible (while calling it a religion of peace, natch).

        Don’t get me wrong, Islam IS a religion based on violence. Physical as well as emotional. But ALL Abrahamic religions are.

        That said, I do agree with Tracy on some level. Its crossed my mind that Islam is just going through the same growing pains Christianity did. In the middle ages, Christianity was murderous, violent, and incredibly intolerant too. The moderating force of secular liberalism that Western civilization went through temepered the worst of it.

        Islam is just a few hundred years behind Christianity. I’m optimistic within a hundred years or so, the same secular forces will temper the worst of Islam.

        Kind of funny how the “evil” secularism that was supposed to be the end of morality is the only thing that finally made Christianity somewhat moral and non violent.

        If there was a God, I’m sure he would have created secularism in order to rein in the many, many psychopaths who have committed great evil in His name all throughout Western history.

        But there isn’t, so I guess us wretched humans will get to take some responsibility.

      • flypusher says:

        “Don’t get me wrong, Islam IS a religion based on violence. Physical as well as emotional. But ALL Abrahamic religions are.”

        Yep. All the scripture has some cringeworthy clobber passages. People and nations and cultures evolve, and so can (and should) religions. Especially in light of new scientific findings; the Buddhists have the right approach here. Scripture needs editing/reinterpreting to bring it in agreement with current knowledge.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Tracy – Hope you are well. You make me smile when you call out liberals for using the constitution to argue their point. After all, “one can’t help but wonder whether the Framers gave much thought to the prospect of the prima facie idiotic notion” of very efficient killing devices in the hands of loons, criminals and religious ideologues. Oh, wait sorry, that was another subject.

      • flypusher says:

        That’s a nice bit of sauce you just mixed up for the gander, unarmed.

        Going back to Tracy’s initial statement:

        “The first two clauses of the 1st Amendment are quite marvelous, but one can’t help but wonder whether the Framers gave much thought to the prospect of the prima facie idiotic notion of mass importation of adherents to a religion that is antithetically opposed to those words, and to separation of church and state in general.”

        There’s a big assumption there, that Islam is monolithic. Not true. It’s had its history of schisms, like Christianity has. They’re not all Wahabbi nut job hater types. There are more liberal and more tolerant sects out there. Also, America has done a much better job than Europe has concerning assimilation of Muslim immigrants into the culture. That’s a strength we should be exploiting in our fight against radical terrorist types, not throwing away out of fear.

    • flypusher says:

      “….(new found) strict constitutionalism..”

      Right, telling fundie Christians that they can’t impose their religion on others is just like changing the rules in a panic to exclude refugees based on their religion.

    • flypusher says:

      “At it heart, Luther’s Reformation was a back-to-basics movement, i.e. sola scriptura. ”

      Another assumption. Why should a potential Islamic reformation be locked onto that one path, with no other possible directions?

  3. Rob Ambrose says:

    Trump, on his building thebwall and creating a registry that all Muslims need to enter.

    Trump: There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases, we should have a lot of systems, and today you can do it.But right now we have to have order, we have to have strength, we have to have a wall and we cannot let what’s happening to this country happen any longer.

    Hillyard: Is that … your White House would…(inaudible)

    Trump: I would certainly implement that.

    Hillyard: What do you think the effect of it, how would that work?

    Trump: It would stop people from coming in illegally. We have to stop people from coming in to our country illegally

    Hillyard: For Muslims specifically, how do you get them registered into a database?

    Trump: It would be just good management. What you have to do is good management procedures.

    Hillyard: Do you go to mosques and sign these people up?

    Trump: Different places. You sign em up at different places. But it’s all about management. Our country has no management.

    So “small government” means billions for wall building/security, hundreds of billions for a “deportation squad” of Jack booted thugs kicking in doors and dragging parents off from their crying kids. And don’t forget forcing millions of (what can only be thought of as second class) citizens to register.

    And then what? Ankle bracelets? Imposing curfew on Muslims only during terror alerts? Internment camps?

    Its terrifying that this clown is the leading candidate. And any party that can have such a facist PoS as a leader is flat out doomed.

  4. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Sure, there are big differences between the parties on this, but while there are tons of misguided Republicans on this issue, there are oodles of stupid Democrats on the side of some very dark angels as well.

    How can we best develop good relations around the world?
    A. Deny refugees that pose no significant risk
    B. Send more troops to the Middle East
    C. Sending too much military force is not a problem because it does not lead to folks disliking us more

    Lifer is absolutely wrong on this. This topic has legs and it has traction for the GOP. They see the poll numbers and are going to beat this horse through next year.

    Look, George Bush and the GOP kept us safe (except for that 9/11 thing), and Obama and Hillary are not keeping us safe (or at least not keeping the people in France safe, and if anyone loves the people of France, it is conservative Republicans).

    • goplifer says:

      See the response to your other post

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Well, let’s go one by one, starting to the left of us.

        New Mexico: GOP governor and the GOP took the lower house in the last election. 79% of New Mexicans agree that we should bar Syrian refugees. At 79%, at least a few of those folks are Hispanic. Obama won both elections by 10%+, but Presidential elections in 2004 and 2000 were neck and neck. Everyone puts New Mexico solidly in the Democrats’ pocket, but Obama is not running this time, and as bad as the GOP’s position will be on immigration, having a Rubio or Cruz on the ticket would undoubtedly get some Hispanic vote to the GOP that a Kasich/Paul ticket wouldn’t get.

        Nevada – GOP governor and GOP legislature, as well as a 2014 GOP run of almost all major statewide elections and a complete rout of Democrats in the state assembly. As with New Mexico, Obama won pretty easily, but Nevada was GOP in 2000 and 2004. Obama is not running in 2016.

        These are only 11 electoral college votes, but now the 257/149 split becomes 246/160, and I haven’t googled anything other than New Mexico and Nevada.

        In Pennsylvania, no Democrat has gotten more than 52% of the vote other than Obama in 2008. With a ton of open seats and other competitive seats, the Democrats thought they could get control of the statehouse, but they actually lost ground in 2014. The democrats won the governor seat, but it was against the most vulnerable sitting GOP governor in the country. Sure, the Democrats are likely to take PA, but it is not a lock.

        Elections in 2013, 2014, and 2015 didn’t exactly go the Democrats way. Sure, these were not national elections, but the Democrats need to tally a few wins before I’m picking out a dark suit for the GOP funeral.

        We aren’t flipping California or New York in 2016, but let’s look at your neighbor Wisconsin. It is one of 24 states where the GOP has a trifecta in the state government. The last election was solidly GOP. As with so many states, it was a toss up in 2000 and 2004, but Obama won relatively handily in 2008 and a little less so in 2012. it warrants repeating, Obama isn’t running in 2016.

        I trust that you have your finger on the pulse of Wisconsin politics better than do I, but 2016 is going to come down to the candidates and the issues (no matter how fake those issues might be).

        Demographics are important, but a good and charismatic candidate can make a world of difference. Fortunately, no one on the GOP side gets “good” or “charismatic” tossed around as a descriptor.

      • 1mime says:

        Wow, that’s a sobering “mini” assessment, Homer. Looking at the state level across the board, there are currently 31 Republicans, 18 Democrats, and one independent that hold the office of governor. That’s pretty lop-sided. State legislatures aren’t any better: Control of both houses: 20 – GOP, 11 – Dem, 8 – split control.

        I want to believe that Lifer has it figured correctly, but looking at the numbers, it’s hard to see how things are going to change much, if at all, in favor of Dems. I have to admit to being very discouraged and I would love to be wrong.


      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        With regard to your comment below about Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians and voting:

        In non-Obama elections, White folks’ voting rates are 7% higher than Black folks, 20% higher than Hispanic folks, and 25% higher than Asian folks. The trend holds pretty steady for Hispanics and Asians even when Obama is running.

        Whites make up almost 70% of eligible voters in the US.

        Sure, there is a demographic change going on, but if folks don’t vote, it don’t matter.

        Hillary is not going to generate the excitement that Obama generated, so unless it is negative excitement against the GOP, the energy level on the Democrat side is going to drop.

        I would argue that if the GOP could stop going out of its way to piss off women, they could merrily continue piss off every non-White race and ethnic group and do just fine in 2016.

      • 1mime says:

        Well, Homer, that is one thing I AM confident about: Republicans just CANNOT stop pissing off women – of whatever color. They just can’t.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Republican waves in 2010 and 2014 did nothing to move the electoral map, you realize, right? And if anyone honestly thinks that Wisconsin is going to be competitive in 2016, they’re fooling themselves. It’s like something of a tradition that political pundits have some back-and-forth about whether the Badger State could be competitive in a presidential year before it inevitably shows its true blue colors and goes solidly in the Democratic column.

        Also, keep in mind that despite winning three elections in a row, Scott Walker has NEVER won by the margins that President Obama has. That ain’t a mistake. All his victories came in off-year low turnout elections that favored Republicans.

        I know it’s tempting to just look to all the victories Republicans have had at the state level, but you shouldn’t mistake the forest for the trees. Those off-year victories were a short-term political shot in the arm for the GOP that gave them an opportunity that they’ve all but squandered. Barring a complete Democratic collapse, 2016 is going to be a near unmitigated disaster for the Grand Old Party.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Ryan, in non-Obama elections, the GOP lost Wisconsin by 5,000 and 11,000 out of three million votes. Obama won pretty easily, but Obama is not running in 2016, and the GOP is doing darn fine in the state.

      • 1mime says:

        I might add, that’s despite a ferocious effort by the teachers and a couple of other unions to recall him. Evidently, that sector of Wisconsin’s voting population isn’t persuasive as Walker certainly gave them all the ammunition they needed to justify the recall…plus his “friendly” supreme court ruling that threw out pending charges alleging improprieties during his campaign while in office. Personally, I have always felt he was a weasel.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Ah, so that’s how you want it play it, eh? Alrighty, I can do that too if you want.

        Let’s go back to 1996, when Bill Clinton carried Wisconsin by nearly 50% (keep in mind that Dole and Perot split the rest of the vote), but more importantly he garnered the overwhelming majority of Wisconsin’s counties.

        Let’s go back even further. Clinton carries Wisconsin again, albeit this time by a much smaller margin of just over 40%. In other words though, Clinton expanded his win in Wisconsin by nearly 10 points in 1996.

        How about 1988 when George H. W. Bush won a landslide victory? Nope, didn’t carry Wisconsin. Dukakis carried it with over 51% of the vote.

        You have to go back to the virtual stone age of 1984 when Ronald Reagan carried virtually the entire country to see Wisconsin go red.

        In other words, Wisconsin hasn’t gone for a Republican in OVER THIRTY YEARS. And if you think that a Trump or Cruz – the two most likely to get the Republican nomination – would change that, you’re drinking the Republican kool-aid.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        OK…so let’s play this game:

        During the past six presidential elections, lets take all the states that voted for the same party in all six election. Six elections – 21 states voting the same way for one party. Pretty long time. Together, these states account for about 200 electoral votes. They weren’t quite enough to clinch victory, but they put the party at a huge advantage. The other party would have to win 3/4s of all “competitive” states to have any hope. It would certainly seem that an electoral college wall is being built as we head into the next election.

        Now, if we then realize that those were the elections from 1968 to 1988, and then in 1992, a young Bill Clinton won nine of those 21 locked GOP states, and half of those states have not voted for a GOP candidate since then (about six elections).

        All of that above is liberally borrowed heavily from our friends at 538.

        Obama’s electoral college victories have essentially mirrored his popular vote victories. If Hillary is not matching Obama’s popular vote, that blue wall is going to have a window or two and maybe a door as well.

        Polling at this point is stupid, but right now, Carson beats Hillary in a head-to-head poll in Wisconsin. Let’s say that out loud. Right now, Carson is polling better than Hillary in Wisconsin.

        Nationally, Hillary gets 93% of the Black vote rather than 95% to 99% that Obama got, and undoubtedly the Black turnout drops without Obama at the top of the ticket. Blacks are not a huge slice of the voting pie, but Hillary won’t get what Obama got, so maybe that loses her 1% overall?

        Maybe Hillary picks up some of the female vote, but I’m just not sure there is much more wiggle room in the female vote. If a woman hasn’t turned away from the GOP by now, there is not much more that will move them away.

        Hillary is wildly polarizing and extremely well known. If you don’t like Hillary, you are not likely to change your mind, and there just aren’t that many people who haven’t already formed an opinion about her.

        I would argue that the people who view her positively are softer in that position than the people who view her negatively.

        Obama lost the male vote by 6%. Hillary is going to lose it by at least 8%.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Okay, let’s just get it out of the way right by way of its sheer absurdity. Ben Carson is not going to be the Republican nominee, nor would he beat Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin even if he were.

        You can point to whatever poll you want right now, but Carson’s surge, which is in the decline right now, was due solely to the impression that people saw him as a nice guy who happens to be a Christian (look to focus group interviews that were asked why they supported Carson to hear this for yourself), regardless of the fact that, on a wide range of issues, he has no idea what the hell he’s talking about and that when he does talk, some genuine batshit crazy stuff tends to fly out.

        When people actually start paying attention to the presidential race next year, if it came down to Carson vs Hillary, she would chew him up and spit him out. It wouldn’t be pretty. And no, he would not carry Wisconsin nor any other terminally blue state. Would. Not. Happen.

        All that aside, you’re right when you say that there just isn’t anything left to learn about Hillary. She is, as Lifer has said, the single most well vetted candidate in this entire race and, really, in recent political history.

        Guess what though? When Bill Clinton won in 1992, his favorable ratings were underwater as well, quite miserably as a matter of fact and he still won handily. And yes, he would’ve won even if Ross Perot (who, according to exist polls, took votes pretty evenly from both Clinton and Bush) hadn’t been in the race. People didn’t care and they obviously reelected him in 1996.

        When it comes down to it, the American people choose the person they feel will best serve their interests, like them or not. I’ll give you myself as a prime example.

        I don’t particularly like Hillary. As a matter of fact, I find her incredibly politically calculating and one who, to the best of her ability, tries to keep things well under thumb and probably isn’t someone you would want to cross.

        Now, none of that besmirches the many things she’s done to help people, such as her work with the Clinton Foundation, nor does it do anything to dissuade me from voting for her next November, because I’m not looking for someone to have a drink with or someone to admire in the White House. I want someone in there who I know can do the job and get the damn thing done.

      • goplifer says:

        Wisconsin may be the best place to see this dynamic in action. One of the reasons Walker dropped out of the race was that he never pulled within 10 points of Clinton in his own home state.

        Think about that for a minute. You correctly point out that Republicans in WI have taken control of all three branches of govt (for the moment). Why wouldn’t they even consider sending the man they elected Governor to Washington?

        Pull that problem apart and you get the Blue Wall. I would have voted for Scott Walker in WI, though perhaps not now. But I sure as hell wouldn’t send him to the White House. I actively campaigned for a Republican Guv here in IL. Same goes for Republican governors and state level officials in NJ and NM and NV and elsewhere. One thing is not like the other. Electing a Republican governor in IL or NV does not make that electorate even 1% more likely to vote for Cruz or Trump. Different animals altogether.

        Now consider that polling on terrorism. Do you really think, even more a moment, that Hispanics would vote for Trump or Cruz because they fear Muslims more than they hate those guys? That’s what I mean when I say that these racial wedge issues just don’t cut like they used to. Old frightened Democrats might fear Muslims enough to say ‘yes’ on some abstract telephone poll, but watch this space – terrorism is not going to move the needle next fall. In fact, it is probably the force most likely to keep participation high on the left.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Homer, I don’t think that being in a democracy means elected officials should necessarily base their actions on the current will if the ppl.

        I’m sure polls would have reflected high approval for interning Japanese after Pearl Harbour.

        The fact is, The People as a whole are a fickle, reactive, emotional and fearful bunch, and they can’t be trusted to make the best and right decisions on times of fear. That’s what leadership is all about. To have the courage and strength to make the right decision, even if its unpopular.

        Yes, The People have the final say, and if an elected official is consistently ignoring the will of The People, then he can and should be voted out when the time comes.

        But a politician who simply follows the mob is a weak and ineffective leader.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Rob…I don’t disagree with you at all. If anything, the politicians are stoking the fears of the electorate on this issue.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Lifer, I get your point, that state offices and national offices are different animals, and what would be tolerable in one might not be tolerable in another.

        Walker not polling anywhere near Clinton may be more a reflection of Walker’s current standing (he wouldn’t win governor right now), than his specific political party.

        Let’s just take Trump and Carson off the table. They will flame out before or during the early primaries, and if they don’t, the party and the process will eventually wear them down to drop out.

        So, we are left with Jeb?, Cruz, or Rubio. I’m going to assume Jeb? or Rubio is on the ticket at the top or the bottom because there are few paths to the White House for the GOP that don’t involve winning Florida.

        Your thoughtful position of who you would send to the White House versus who you would send to the statehouse is a wonderful position, but I would suggest that not all of your GOP brethren have such a thoughtful position. For a large chunk of folks, it is my team versus your team.

        Also, while an Obama got your thoughtful vote, I’m not sure a Hillary gets that same vote.

    • Griffin says:

      It has legs for a bit. But it’s going to tire itself out long before 2016, because people are still scared right now but when they calm down and think rationally they’ll be much more open to letting in the reguees. The only way this would help the Republicans is if there was an attack a week before the election.

  5. flypusher says:

    Lookie, lookie, they’ve foiled a terrorist plot in this country and arrested 3 suspects:


    Wait, these guys aren’t Syrian. Or Muslim. Or rich in melanin.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Fly…you seem to be confused.

      If these guys aren’t Syrian, or Muslim, or rich in melanin, then by definition, this cannot be terrorism.

      These guys are just loners, with maybe some mental problems, and since they are targeting churches, they probably really are anti-Christian liberals lashing out against Christians.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        HT, if they are loners, how did they manage to get together to form a plot??

        Answer me that.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        If anyone understands gentle sarcasm, it’s you, HT.

      • 1mime says:

        Maybe it’s time for a new acronym for the BLM crowd…..BLDM (Black Lives Don’t Matter for the acronym-challenged) might be more accurate. Bless them for trying to stay positive in the midst of continuing racism.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Yes. It seems odd that all these lone wolves have decided to hang around and plot together.

        Seems out of character forpne wolves, but that’s the thing about lone wolves. They’re unpredictable.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Rob, reminds me of the book ALONE TOGETHER by Sherry Turkle.

      • 1mime says:

        Turkle is a smart lady but since I have not read “Alone Together” or the other two pieces in the trilogy, I can’t visualize Rob with the story. He is fearless and does “throw thoughts out there”, but they’re reflecting a mind that is intelligently and emotionally engaged and probing for answers. Personally, I like that in a person, and he and I also agree on many issues. I may just have to read the book now, Tutta!

      • 1mime says:

        From burning Black churches down (or attempting to), to other examples of overt racist commentary, to this facebook page at the U of IL at Urbana-Champagne, America doesn’t appear to be in nearly as much danger from without, as from within. It’s incredibly sad what is happening in our country.


      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, there is a comma after “Rob,” which means I was addressing him, not that he reminds me of the book. I should have said “that” reminds me of the book Alone Together, or “the reference to lone wolves uniting to form a plot” reminds me of Alone Together. Sorry for the confusion.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Anyway, Mime, I still owe you that book report on Reclaiming Conversation by Ms. Turkle.

        I guess I should have said “book review,” but you remind me of a teacher, so anything for you would be more like a report, or maybe a term paper. 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        Yikes, Tutta! Just a wee little summary will be fine…..sorry if I come off as professorial….not my intention. I simply misread your post about Alone Together. I’m pretty impressed that you’ve read Turkle.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        A more appropriate word would be “assignment.” I will get around to it eventually and hopefully I will get a gold star.

  6. 1mime says:

    Tonight on Charlie Rose, David Miliband, President of the International Rescue Committee which performs humanitarian services world wide since 1933. IOW, this organization’s bonafides are deep. The discussion centered the Syrian refugee crisis in the broadest sense…what these people are fleeing, how European countries are managing the challenge, what the role of the U.S. should be, how global powers could work cooperatively to manage the humanitarian effort more effectively. It was such a thoughtful discussion – no political mongering, just focus on the real issue: a people who have lost everything and are struggling to find a country and a new life for them and their families.


    He also mentioned that many of these people are professionals – accountants, lawyers, business people. They have the skills to start again if they could just be accepted. He observed that it is more difficult for a refugee to gain asylum in the U.S. than in any other country in the world….the world! At present, 70-80%of all lights are out in Syria – the entire infrastructure is devastated. When asked by Rose what he felt was needed to defeat ISIL in the long run (in addition to the present military and other ongoing efforts), he said the people need a defining Sunni political alternative led from within the Arabian world.

    I highly recommend listening to this particular Charlie Rose Show. The first guests were Lisa Monaco, special assistant to Homeland Security (one sharp lady) and Robert Gates, former Defense Secretary, followed by David Miliband of the International Rescue Committee. Great program. It clearly instructs one on the incredible complexity of the situation surrounding taking down ISIL.

    http://www.charlierose.com (ISIL, Paris, and the Threat of Terrorism)

    • 1mime says:

      Rose is focusing his show on the situation in the Middle East and how it impacts events around the globe. Tomorrow night the program will consist of:

      Continuing coverage of the Paris attacks and their aftermath. We are joined by Will McCants, director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution, Graeme Wood of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Ian Fisher of The New York Times.

      If you can only watch one program a day on this issue, I really believe Rose’s program will be the most instructive. One on one interviews, thoughtful thorough discussion.

    • Tuttabella says:

      Charlie Rose has interviewed Bashar al-Assad himself on more than one occasion.

      • 1mime says:

        Yes, I am aware of that. It’s better to know your enemy than not. The range of guests he interviews is huge….BiBi, Putin, Raul Castro…..If you go to his website, you will be amazed.
        This doesn’t make “him” a bad person to interview them.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I remember watching his interview with Bashar al-Assad about 5 years ago and thinking that Bashar al-Assad was the most boring person ever interviewed on the Charlie Rose show.

  7. 1mime says:

    Donald Trump is suggesting a national registration requirement for all Muslims in the U.S.

    Xenophobia is front and center. Oh, my.


  8. Just for a bit of light relief


    The Statue of Liberty was initially modelled on an Egyptian peasant woman – presumably a Muslim

  9. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Sadly, I think Lifer is wrong here. This shit is exactly resonating with the folks in the GOP (as well as with a big chunk of Democrats).

    The reaction to Syrian refugees is pathetic and leading me to one of the few, “seriously, we are really fucked up” realizations I’ve had about us. Most of our squabbles are just minor quirks that are no big deal, but this, while not practically a big deal, is saying something pretty dark about us.

    There are a dozen easier ways to get into the US than pretending to be a refugee. Most of the folks involved in Paris were European nationals who could hop on a plane and come to the US as a tourist with no questions asked rather than go through the really long process of coming in as a refugee.

    If anyone manages to commit one (and especially two) terrorist act in some mid-size town (something innocuous like Indianapolis or more splashy in Vegas) in the US in the next month or two, we will completely lose our shit, suspend habeas corpus, and usher in an era of xenophobic GOP rule for the foreseeable future.

    Lifer is grossly overestimating the rationality of the American people.

    • 1mime says:

      Sadly, I agree. I read a comment from a Democratic member of the House committee that approved the refugee bill as he tried to appeal to common sense: The existing screening for refugees without any new layers of scrutiny vastly exceed the process for routine Visas from tens of thousands of people from other areas of the world. As smart as ISIL appears, why would they come through the more rigorous refugee process and risk greater chance for detection when they can simply apply for a visa and undergo far less screening?

      In my view, this legislation is purely hyperbole and pandering to base. If entry into the U.S. is such a threat, treat ALL who apply to the same rigorous screening. It’s that simple. Business interests would never support this, however, not that that’s the reason. It’s all about 2016.

      This is a farce and as much as I respect Lifer’s judgement, I agree that he has misjudged the tenor of the party and its complete reincarnation as the party of “now”. But, hey, it’s working for Republicans, and we know they never bother about standing on principle……..

      Sad times, Homer. Read this assessment by Larry Sabato from the U of Va Center for Politics.


    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Few things to keep in mind here:

      1.) We’re still in the aftermath of the Paris attacks and people are, understandably, going to be on edge for a while yet. It’s best to wait things out for a while to gauge the American people’s attitude in the long term.

      2.) President Hollande of France, while obviously undertaking a serious military option at the moment, has gone out of his way to increase the number of refugees that France will accept. I don’t believe that example will be lost on all Americans.

      3.) President Obama is absolutely not going to be a repeat of George W. Bush and let what happened in France give him an excuse to overreact. We can see that already.

      All that said, I don’t necessarily agree with Lifer’s analysis overall, but I certainly don’t think that this is going to be the wedge issue that Republicans are trying to make it out to be. You should know very well that Republicans’ fatal weakness is that they have the terrible habit of overplaying their hand, and in a presidential year, that could very easily backfire.

      • 1mime says:

        Very logical response, Ryan. The variables are many. I don’t think the Republicans will give up on this issue….they know it fires up their base without alienating special interests (womens choice, etc)…heck, they even picked up some Democrats in the process. I have to wonder if the Democrats even studied the existing refugee screening process. It is exhaustive. But, of course, this really isn’t about refugees, it’s about an election, and an opportunity to “showboat” their war credentials.

        I will continue to watch programs and read smart journalism so that I can understand the complexities of issues that require pragmatic solutions. I am grateful to have Pres. Obama with his cool head making the calls that he can. He is under so much pressure.

    • goplifer says:

      Take all questions about the political impact of [insert political issue here] back to the Blue Wall: http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2014/11/the-missing-story-of-the-2014-election/

      In which of the blue states on that map, including Virginia, will anti-immigrant hype help Republicans win enough additional black, hispanic, asian, or urban votes compared to 2012 that they can flip a blue state?

      If your answer is “none of them,” then you are almost certainly correct. In fact, this hysteria is likely to wake up the sleeping giant of hispanic voter participation and push that demographic as deeply into the Democratic fold as African Americans. Such a result would flip Arizona and NC in ’16, and would put Florida permanently behind the blue wall.

      But what about public opinion polls? Single issue polls don’t tell us whether enough voters in key states will be sufficiently moved by a particular issue for it to change who they vote for. And increasingly, partisan voting patterns in General Elections are driven by demographics and nothing else.

      With that demographic focus accounted for, this issue is a catastrophe for Republicans. All it can possibly do is shut the party off from its only hope from breaking the Blue Wall.

      • 1mime says:

        If you are correct, and this issue (Syrian refugees/asylum) marks the turning point in credibility for Republicans, there is going to have to be a very visible shift in public opinion to convince me they are losing ground.

        Couple the action by the GOP to block Pres. Obama’s E.O. on accepting 10K Syrian refugees (a paltry sum relative to the size of our country), with today’s announcement today that Republicans plan to double down on their climate change opposition by denying Pres. Obama $3B for his pledge by the U.S. to the United Nations Green Climate Fund. This fund is composed of private and public money and is meant to help poorer nations prepare for climate change. Republicans plan to block the appropriation in the final budget deal, thereby serving up a second consecutive embarrassment to our president on the world stage.

        I wish I believed that either of these positions by the GOP (refugees or UN green climate fund)
        were principled. I flatly don’t. They perceive that he is in a weakened moment due to the events unfolding with terrorism and they are playing it for all its worth.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, you are informed well beyond my capabilities, thus I want to trust you on this. I am so disheartened about how the Republican Party (and some stupid Democrats, it appears) are acting these days on any number of issues that are really important not only to our country, but to the world at large, that it’s hard to reason it out properly.

        It does seem to me that America is moving backwards…possibly this has to happen in order to move forward, but it is very discouraging. And, it’s so very ugly. And, stupid. And, short-sighted. Other than these observations, I am just flummoxed at what is going on here. I have two good friends who are traveling in Germany right now and i can’t wait for their return to talk to them about perceptions of America from abroad. These are very smart, well-educated, well-informed (politically) people and their insight will be valuable.

        What must people in other countries think of America now? I’m very proud of President Obama; I’m deeply embarrassed by our Congress and our GOP presidential candidates.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, how does your theory of the “blue wall” hold up if “red” states switch to proportional delegate award?

    • goplifer says:

      Oh, and by the way, if the Hispanic electorate turns only out at the generally anticipated rate and votes Democratic at levels approaching (but still not as extreme) as blacks & Clinton wins almost as high a percentage of white votes as Gore in ’00 (43% – not much really, since Obama won 40), that’s enough to flip Texas. Go check out the math:


      What could produce those kinds of demographic numbers? Trump or Cruz as the GOP nominee. In fact, Trump’s campaign has probably already delivered that result among Hispanic voters, even if he dropped out this afternoon.

      Issue polls are a waste of time. Look at the demographics.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Pardon my failing memory if I linked to this before.

        Democratic Ticket Wins Mock Presidential Election; WIU Students Voted Sanders/O’Malley to Take Top Seats


        Amazing on several levels if anywhere near correct.

      • 1mime says:

        What about GOTV for the Hispanic and Black populations? Do you think that the fact that this is a presidential election will provide sufficient impetus to drive them to the polls….when we know full well that many are dis-enfranchised by new voting regulations and I am certain, more to come.

        The GOP voting block may be getting smaller (I am not even sure of that these days), but they VOTE! Gotta give ’em that.

        There is so much riding on this 2016 election other than the presidency, important as it is. There are probably US Supreme Court nominations and other judicial appointments down the line – and the critical quesion of who gains control of the Senate…..(I have pretty well given up on the House for a while.)

        I worry too much, I know that, but it matters deeply to me because of the direction our country takes going forward. What I am seeing is disturbing and discouraging.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        That being the case, the presidency and Senate are virtually a foregone conclusion. The real question is whether such a historic rout could threaten Republicans’ otherwise sure hold on the House of Representatives.

      • 1mime says:

        I’d like to hear Lifer’s thoughts on that, but I have read extensively on the subject of House GOP majority, and they have a pretty solid lock on it due to gerrymandering. That’s not to say they couldn’t/wouldn’t lose some seats if there was a “blue” sweep, but it simply isn’t possible. It’s the “red” House wall.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Just to have it out there, I’m not particularly vested in the idea of retaking the House in 2016. It’s a stretch to be sure, but really the presidency and the Senate, and by extension the Supreme Court, are the real prizes to be had as far as I’m concerned.

        That said, I don’t buy into the idea that “it’s just not possible.” It’s improbable due in large part to gerrymandering to be sure, but iirc, Democrats just need to win by about seven percentage points more than Republicans in order to realistically retake the House, correct?

        Let’s assume that we have Trump or Cruz as the Republican nominee in 2016, which would almost certainly boost Hispanic turnout, as well as other minority voting blocks, in favor of Democrats. In addition to that, is it a stretch to say that turnout among those more moderate Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents would be depressed because they just didn’t find enthusiasm for a Trump or Cruz candidacy?

        Hear me out. These are people who, while conservative and who would have no problem voting for a Bush or Rubio or Kasich, just couldn’t swallow voting for an extremist like Trump or Cruz, and so while they don’t suddenly turn turncoat and vote Democratic, they’re more likely to just stay home and not vote at all.

        Couple all that together with a Hillary Clinton presidential machine that will have all the money and organization it could ever want in order to get out the vote; might one still say that Democrats have absolutely no chance of retaking the House?

      • duncancairncross says:

        The “House”
        The thing about Gerrymandering is that it means that you can get more than your fair share of the seats when you are a little ahead or a little behind

        There is a level when you start to lose big time – all of those seats that you have arranged so that you “just win” become seats where you “just lose”

      • 1mime says:

        If Rubio becomes the nominee, does this substantively change your thoughts about the presidential race? He would offer youth, charisma, and is going to be well funded. Now, I have already stated that I think he needs more time to grow into this level of leadership, but, if the alternatives available to Republican voters is Rubio, Cruz, or Trump, he is the more reasonable …. I think.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Setting aside Jeb!’s floundering campaign, I do think Rubio, inexperienced and as pandering to the far-right base as he is, would be the most formidable against Hillary Clinton. That being said however, I just don’t believe he has what it takes to get the Republican nomination. I’m putting my money on either Trump or Cruz.

        At his core, Rubio is a moderate Republican that’s had to twist himself into pretzels trying to appeal to the far-right Republican base that votes in primaries. It’s exactly what happened with immigration reform and the Senator’s been trying to make up lost ground ever since.

        And speaking of immigration, that’s precisely the issue that’s going to sink him in the primary if he starts gaining any real traction. If you’ve been keeping an eye out, you can already see that Cruz is gearing up to take down Rubio on precisely that if he starts sees him as an honest threat.

      • 1mime says:

        I have said all along that Cruz is the most dangerous of candidates because he is so calculating and, frankly, is someone I find deeply objectionable. As outrageous as Trump is, I’d take him over Cruz any day.

        Ryan – do you have any professional involvement in the political process, or, are you simply as demented as the rest of us in watching it work?

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Just a mere observer, nothing more.

        Not only do I detest the political process – constantly raising money and having to twist yourself into pretzels to suit the interests of other people – but as an individual, I genuinely don’t like talking with other people more than I have to; which, on its own, would make me quite an awful public servant.

        More than any of that though is the sense of enjoyment I take in the peace and quiet of my daily life. I go to work, spend time with my family, take my beloved dogs out for their walks, indulge in quite a number of hobbies, and all other sorts of things that help to fill my life with a growing sense of accomplishment. I would never disturb any of that unless I absolutely had to, and certainly not for the toxic political climate that we have that fills one with a sense of disgust and disappointment.

      • 1mime says:

        It certainly sounds like you have filled your life with many positive influences. Having served in politics at a lower level I can attest that the political process is demanding for those who have no interest in making it a career path. Your insight into the process is keen, so I’m guessing you have more than a passing interest and certainly bring a depth of thought that helps our discussion. Most here care deeply about our country and how we care for our people through the process of government. I confess to becoming pretty cynical where the Republican Party is concerned even as I know there are good people within it, and poor examples as well in the Democratic Party. Imperfect as it is, it is what it is. Thanks for sharing.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Ryan – it is not going to be Trump. There is no way, no way at all, for Trump to win.

        Cruz? maybe
        Rubio? maybe even more possible
        Trump? no way (same for Carson)

        You mentioned the “Hillary Clinton presidential machine that will have all the money and organization it could ever want in order to get out the vote”, and I would point out that the Hillary Clinton machine is not all that loved by liberals, allowed three months of negative news cycles regarding email, and got walloped by a junior senator from Illinois with a resume so thin you could see through it.

        You are also assuming that a Cruz or a Rubio drives the Hispanic vote to Hillary. I wouldn’t be so sure about that after, when after the primaries, Rubio starts reminding people that he is the sensible Republican when it comes to immigration.

        At best this is a 52/48 election, and more like 51/49. I’m just hoping Hillary manages to get 50.1%, but that is far from a lock.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        With respect to The Donald, tell that to Republican primary voters who keep putting him at the top of the polls for months and months on end, not me. Hell, I agree with you that Hillary would wallop him. It would be an absolute electoral thrashing of historic proportions, which is precisely why Republicans are starting to freak out and trying to stop him now before the voting starts.

        If Trumpmentum sweeps Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina – or at least two of the three – I’m not sure he could be stopped.

        Now, normally, just winning a few early states wouldn’t be indicative of winning the nomination, but the problem is that that’s predicated on the assumption that there’s a viable alternative. Cruz’s entire strategy runs on the assumption that Trump will inevitably collapse and that he’ll be there to pick up the pieces and rise to the top.

        Rubio? He’s been a consistent third or fourth place placer in polls recently, but I don’t see him gaining any serious momentum that could make him a real contender, and frankly, his immigration folly is just too much of a dead weight around his neck in a Republican primary for him to get very far; not to mention Trump and Cruz would smack him around with it should he ever look like he’s starting to get some wind in his sails.

        Carson? He was on the rise for a while there, but his appeal was always superficial and couldn’t last. With Trump on the rebound after the Paris attacks, I’d be surprised if Carson held on for much longer.

        And don’t even get me started on Jeb! Anyone can see that his campaign is floundering. He’s finished.

        So, really, who else is there?

  10. To me Islam is simply not compatible with modern life. I think Europe is headed for a lot of conflict as they don’t easily assimilate immigrants.

    That being said : Taking in 65k for a country this size is nothing. I am originally from Connecticut and I could not be prouder of Malloy. He is one of the few able to really articulate progressive ideals. He personally met with the Syrian family rejected by that jacka** Pence from Indiana. All by himself, Pence easily makes the case to switch from Republican to just about anything else.

  11. MassDem says:

    Here’s one solution to the problem of Syrian refugees:

    One commenter (Mister Neutron) figured it out:
    “…the governors of the New England states are taking a very proactive stance with regard to Syrian refugees. They’re actually moving their states, so the refugees won’t be able to find them.”

    Us Yankees are sneaky like that!

  12. flypusher says:

    If overexposure to scary Islamic terrorist hype is desensitizing the base, there’s always those Godless seculars warring on Christianity:


  13. flypusher says:

    Christie doing the politcal 2-step:


    I need an explanation here. Exactly how is a no-fly zone supposed to help the refugees?

  14. 1mime says:

    Sorry, all, this is seriously Off Topic, but gives me hope. Of course, I’ll have to move to Maine and shovel snow to benefit, but, hey…..at least “SOMETHING” good is happening in the good old USA! Guess all that time spent inside during the winter improves the mind……


  15. stephen says:

    I listen to the remarks of the President in the Philippines. My how the Grand Old Party has fallen. One of my ancestors on my mother’s side was before the Civil War an underground rail-road conductor. When the war started this southern gentleman declared for the North. He was given one day to clear out of his homestead before it was burned and he was killed. He fled with his family and later fought against slavery with the Union Army. I am sure his political belief was with the Republican Party of his day.

    That was then and this is now. Now the House is considering a bill to make it impossible for people , mainly women and children fleeing being killed, rape and enslaved to receive refuge in our county. The current vetting process is very thorough already taking a year and a half to two years. And is done before they ever set foot in the United States. The GOP leadership is trying to sound like they are protecting the country but in reality are playing to their extreme base. The extra provisions they want would in reality cut off refuge for these desperate people. It is a cowardly act and the President was right to call it that.

    I am amaze so many people agree with cutting off refuge to these innocent civilians. I have been on a mission trip with a group of mainly women who provided medical help in a dangerous part of the world. So I have risked my skin for what I believed in as did those woman. They put our GOP political leaders to shame. And the risk of a terrorist attack from these refuges is very, very small. Those leaders are really scared of their extreme base primarying them out of their cushy job. So they are willing to sacrifice people for political gain.

    • flypusher says:

      Those are exactly the sentiments I would expect from someone who is actually paying attention to what Jesus said. ISIS feeds off hate and fear. They want to West to mistreat the refugees. Could a few ISIS agents insert themselves into the refugee flood? It’s possible, so keep screening. But there are much faster ways to get here, if that’s their goal.

    • 1mime says:

      Denying Syrian refugees asylum is not the real reason for Republican opposition. They first and foremost are repeating their strategy of pandering to fear and anger among within their base. This stupidity actually gets votes. Note the “rise” in Trump’s numbers after he announced that he would nuke the shi% out of ISIL – hardly possible, but, what does that matter?

      Second, the Republican Party wants to not just oppose President Obama, they want to humiliate him on the world stage by denying his EO for humanitarian purposes, which every president has utilized, thereby further demonstrating that he is a puppet figure and “they” are really in charge.

      Ultimately, Republicans are demonstrating clearly for the world to see, that they have no moral compass, but are totally driven by hyperbole and reactionary opportunity. It is sickening.

      More quotes from “When Nietzsche Wept” that are apropos: (pardon my philosophical drift this am)

      ““If we climb high enough, we will reach a height from which tragedy ceases to look tragic.”

      ““The spirit of a man is constructed out of his choices.”

      • BigWilly says:

        A joke is the death of an epigram? Never understood that one. I remember reading Fred on the bus and writing “New Look Republican” in the margin. I really gravitated towards his radical individualism, especially in opposition to the liberal groupthink I endured in college.

  16. Rob Ambrose says:

    So, if we deny all refugees claims because of the slight chance there might be a terrorist within, that means full support for heavily restricting gun sales because of the slight chance that they might be used to kill people illegally right?

    After all, what about all the responsible Syrian refugees?

  17. BigWilly says:

    The Republican base is tired of getting dicked by the left and our own establishment. Donald Trump, why the hell not.

    Left wing intelligentsia? Euthanize! Sterilize! Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? A totally inorganic artificial construct with no basis in reality. Right wing intelligentsia? Don’t make me go all Nietzsche on yo’ ass. Really. It’s almost an offense, or is it an affront, to attempt to link the right wing and intelligentsia.

    Glad to see everyone is enjoying their pule.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      BW, you can go down heroically with this ship, kicking and fighting all the time if you want.

      But rest assured, its going down. Better for your mental health to just accept it and learn to live within its parameters.

      And believe it or not, the new paradigm shift my generation is creating is one you will eventually come to realize is a far more just and moral society then the one your generation left us.

      • BigWilly says:

        I feign a cough, and in reality I say Bull shite! RobA it’s a minor miracle anytime I get you to write anything that doesn’t sound totally canned. Try again.

      • stephen says:

        @ Rob: All generations are diverse including the boomer one. Nothing new under the sun. Every generation thinks they are different but really are not.

    • 1mime says:

      Nietzsche – Here’s a quote from one of my favorite books, “When Nietzche Wept”, by Irvin Yalom, 2007. One of the most thought-provoking, well-written novels I have ever read – and, I mean that, and I read a lot.

      “‘Every person must choose how much truth he can stand.”

      Your thresh hold has been crossed, BW.


    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      ” Really. It’s almost an offense, or is it an affront, to attempt to link the right wing and intelligentsia.”

      BW, buddy, it looks like you misspelled “intelligence” there.

    • goplifer says:

      It wasn’t quite Fascist enough until you brought Nietzche into it. Glad to see that it still “can’t happen here.”

      • BigWilly says:

        Did you request some Wagner?

        I bought a copy of Tannhauser for a quarter, must’ve been at least twenty five years ago, I don’t think I’ve made a better investment since.

  18. MassDem says:

    Dear Governor Baker,
    why are you so worried about Syrian refugees when it is clearly Belgians who pose the real threat? Let’s bar all foreigners with Belgian passports from the state and evict everyone of Belgian descent. Only then will we be safe.
    Sincerely, A Voter

    BTW this would include my husband and his family.

    My 9th grade daughter came home from school yesterday and declared (unprompted by me) that she doesn’t see how anyone from her generation would ever vote for a Republican candidate. Before you say pfft, Massachusetts, please note that I live in an affluent community, which serves as a bedroom town for Boston’s financial sector. There is a strong and active Republican Town Committee here, and we routinely send both Republican and Democratic legislators to the State House (yes, some of my dearest friends are Republicans). So I started thinking…

    I predict that despite the best efforts of people like Chris, the Republican party will be cemented as the party of the far right. While it will probably never go away for good, it will largely be a party of nativists, right-wing idealogues, and the religious right, and become less and less important on the national stage as time goes on.

    The Democratic party will continue to evolve to fill the need for a center-right party. This prediction is based on the popularity of Barack Obama and the Clintons, who despite what conservative media say, largely govern as moderate Republicans circa the 1960s. Also, as I read “The Politics of Crazy”, it occured to me that it would not at all be a stretch for today’s Democratic party to incorporate most of Chris’s ideas (I am considering gifting a copy to the Clinton campaign). While Democrats can’t use “small government” as a rallying cry–that slogan belongs to someone else–they could easily run on a platform of “efficient governent”, spending your tax dollars wisely. That could be a winner.

    I predict that a new party will arise to fill the left-wing side of the spectrum. Don’t know who it will be yet. Maybe the popularity of Bernie Sanders will allow a Democratic Socialist party to form. Maybe increasing concerns about the environment and climate change will energize the Green party. Whatever happens, this new party will form to serve the interests of those people who are tired of Democratic lip-service to their causes.

    Remember, if any of this happens, you read it here first… 😉

    • flypusher says:

      “My 9th grade daughter came home from school yesterday and declared (unprompted by me) that she doesn’t see how anyone from her generation would ever vote for a Republican candidate.”

      I could also wonder why anyone who wasn’t super-rich, or was female, or was non-White, or who actually follows the teachings of Jesus would vote that way too. Because the current GOP is not acting in their best interests.

  19. EJ says:

    On a less sardonic note than my other comment:

    Chris, I read your book and enjoyed it, but I think this issue here boils down to which you didn’t particularly cover in that and I’d be interested in your more general thoughts on. It’s about short-termism versus long-termism.

    In the short term Rove’s scheme seems to have been entirely successful, in that it won the 2004 election. However, it’s also created an ideological climate which has created long-term difficulties that are only just coming to fruitition. If this had been raised in 2002, would people have cared? Probably; very few people are unwilling to at least pay lip service to the future. Would they have cared enough to turn down the possibility of short-term victory? Probably not.

    A system which thinks ahead in 4-year chunks is one which is pathological. It’s systematically incapable of seeing the traps that it lays for itself; or worse, is capable of seeing them but incapable of summoning the discipline to use that foresight effectively. It seems to be a general problem in politics, and not just in America.

    Clearly we as a society are capable of better. If I recall correctly you’re a software person: it is very well understood among software people that incrementalism and a lack of proper scoping are very bad things. If you told a programmer to do a quick fix which causes more problems in future then she would (hopefully) laugh in your face. Economically, launching software which sparkles now but will fail dismally in years’ time is a terrible idea and will probably get you fired. If we can have this attitude in software development, why not in politics? It’s not as if the two fields are run by genetically different species.


    • Glandu says:

      I’m not Chris. But I’m a software guy. And Amazon suceeded because it rushed. It invested an insane amount of technical debt to gain a few weeks of advantage, those few weeks have proven the key to nearly monopolize the market.

      I like beautiful software. But I’m caring about performance first. What counts? If you’re in the desert, is it better to take a glass of water NOW, or a likely full bottle 2 miles away – 2 miles you’ll never make because you’re dead of thirst? Do you know that many illegal immigrants crossing your southern border died of thirst with half-full reserves of water?

      The long-term///short-term debate is often rigged. Long term is important, of course. But you’ve got to reach it first. As long as I can, I’m thinking long-term. But when the software managing the hospital is down, and with it the medication system and the labo analysis, with people about to die if nothing is done, then you’re going for the quick hack. Even if the technical debt interest is gonna be costly.

      • EJ says:

        That’s an interesting point and I take it on board. Let me rephrase:

        Can the conception of short term vs long term planning which we use in spheres such as software be brought to bear in politics? It seems odd that we as a civilisation can understand these ideas well when it comes to putting out operating systems but not when guiding nations.

    • Crogged says:

      In the long run, we are all ___.

  20. johngalt says:

    Based on the current public opinion, the idea that terror hype does not work appears to be a triumph of hope over reality.

    • Glandu says:

      I don’t know for the USA, but for France, you’re 100% right. We’re following exactly the same path that the USA 14 years ago, and it’s not pretty.

      • flypusher says:

        “Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.”

        Bertrand Russell

        Here’s hoping that France doesn’t do what America did. Although you may be in luck in that there’s no Iraq equivalent here, by which I mean no obvious country that had nothing to do with the terrorism to incorrectly scapegoat and invade.

        I am very chagrined at the past 14 years.

    • 1mime says:

      Sadly, I agree and said as much in my earlier post. Donald Trump’s poll numbers actually ROSE after his bellicose threats about nuking ISIL. Of course, my deeper concern is not Trump but the fact that we have so many empty heads out there who will be voting. Knee-jerk, shallow, lazy thinkers. But, as Glandu points out, they’re going for the “quick fix”….I guess they have made their minds up that tomorrow will take care of itself.

  21. 1mime says:

    The irony of the 30’s rejection of Jewish refugees is now many of these Jewish families are leading our financial sector. The apoplectic stand of our Republican Congress against any rational criticism of Israel is really kind of amusing. My how things change.

    In contradiction to your thesis that “terror hype does not work”, how do you explain the polls which show fairly broad public agreement with the Republicans who oppose asylum for the Syrian refugees? Or, the purported “split” within Democratic ranks over the same issue? My own position, of course, is in favor of welcoming the refugees, but am I in the minority? (not that I care…)

    My point is that pandering by the right still seems to be working for the GOP….regardless of its morality. Is it that people do not think for themselves any more, or, has the fear mongering been so successful that it simply can’t be overcome?

    President Obama, meanwhile, is taking it on the chin for his limited approach and dispassionate demeanor. Guess it’s hard for him to get “red in the face”……(let that one sink in slowllllly) or lose his traditional “cool”. Isn’t steadiness a “good thing” in one’s president? Do we really want the bombast of a Donald Trump or the snarky Ted Cruz? Or, another Bush? Are maybe a newby – Rubio who’s raking in the billionaires lately.

    For all the tiredness of the GOP rhetoric, this ISIL turmoil seems to have given new life to the party and its candidates. I don’t agree with their solutions, but, then, what is best?

    When I read your posts Lifer, I always come away with a lot of questions. I guess that means you’re making me think….some might say that’s a “good” thing. I sure hope you’re reading the tea leaves correctly because things certainly seem unclear to me now.

  22. Chris, perhaps as a result of your upbringing and it’s singular geographic constraints (you can take the boy outta E. Tx, but you can’t…), you seem to cast all things politic in terms of race. I suspect you might be better off casting your arguments in terms of economic class. Those at the lower end of the economic ladder, be they white, Hispanic, black, or purple with pink polka dots, are under severe stress, and have been for years now. Illegal immigrants and ongoing automation are pricing them out of jobs; they don’t have the skills to get better jobs, or the means of acquiring those skills; they find themselves cheek by jowl with those who are degrading any dream they might have for a better life. They are ripe pickings for a pol preaching a populist message.

    It used to be the Dems preached that populist message, and indeed, Dem politics of division have been very successful over the years. But increasingly the Democrats have been captured by the radical concerns of the left wing intelligentsia – climate change, the “war” on women, LGBT rights, endangered smelt, spotted owls, prairie chickens etc., etc., ad nauseum. The working class people who were once the core of the Democrats don’t give a flip for any such nonsense; they just want to earn a living. And every time they turn around, Obama flips ’em the bird and says BOHICA.

    Now, the GOP establishment doesn’t serve the needs of working class America any better than postmodern Dems do. Into this vast political vacuum steps the likes of… Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson. I’d suggest you hold on to your hat, because it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy ride…

    • 1mime says:

      Oh, Tracy…..”radical concerns of the left wing intelligentsia” …. Therein lies the problemma, senor. I was really enjoying your historical explanation until you got right down to your real beef. Man, it has taken me a lot of time to earn the title of “left wing intelligentsia”, but, I do so with great pride, my friend.

      I’ve about come to the point that if the Republican Party wins the Presidency with one of these yahoos, we’ll just have to let them fall on their sword. Maybe what our nation needs is a good dose of blatant right wing non-intelligentsia! So glad you put that idea out there, Tracy! Semper fi!

      • Well, 1mime, as the inestimable H.L Mencken once noted, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” 😉

      • 1mime says:

        Maybe so, Tracy. Or, maybe it’s simpler yet. I’ve always felt that particular quote to be rather presumptuous if not denigrating. If your interpretation is that “common” people (as a pejorative term), somehow deserve less in life because of their class, then I guess we look at life very differently. You see, I have known many very successful people in life – some of them were even wealthy – but the ones that I remember best, are the ones who, though very “common”, were such good people that my life was enriched by the small gifts they shared with me. I guess I’ll always gravitate to the common person because they are more genuine.
        If that makes me common, I’m happy to wear that descriptor.

    • Griffin says:

      “radical concerns of the left wing intelligentsia…LGBT rights…don’t give a flip for any such nonsense”. Yes, clearly it’s the Democrats dividing everyone -_-

      • Griffin says:

        I would also like to note the irony that, despite their dislike for each other, on matters of substance conservative Muslims are largely in agreement with American conservatives. For instance in regards to gay rights, abortion rights, feminism, opposition to liberal reformists, hostility to most intellectuals except those in the religious sphere because they think perfect knowledge can be achieved through understanding religion, etc.

    • johngalt says:

      I might change my registration from independent to Democrat. I’ve been trying to get into the “left wing intelligentsia” for years, but they won’t return my phone calls.

      • EJ says:

        The trick is to pretend you don’t want to join. If you start up your own blog in which you make erudite references to European politics and how all the issues of the world are down to racism, whilst claiming membership of some other segment of the political spectrum, pretty soon people will approach you and ask if you’d like to come and be a left-wing intellectual.

      • johngalt says:

        Dunno, EJ. Sounds pretty like hard work. I’d much prefer someone just give me the title.

      • MassDem says:

        Maybe they are put off by your name. You could consider changing it to “yossarian” or “winstonsmith” and see if they call.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        As Marx once said (Groucho, not Karl)

        I’d never join a club that would allow someone like me to become a member

      • objv says:

        Not to worry, JG. As part of academia, you have automatic membership,

      • Turtles Run says:

        JG – Consider this your official t-shirt.

      • EJ says:

        So be it. Laziness is a virtue, after all.

        johngalt, I now proclaim you to be a left-wing intellectual. You will henceforth be known as Yossarian Winstonsmith. Your posts under this name will be regarded as marvels of subtlety and deep thought, especially if your prose is so turgid that nobody can understand it well enough to disagree with it.

        Like all fairytale boons, this comes with a geas. Your credentials will immediately be lost if you at any point make a post which does not make use of the word “dialectic.”

      • 1mime says:

        EJ – “especially if your prose is so turgid that nobody can understand it well enough to disagree with it.”

        I have to confess that I’ve been in that situation more times than my pride will admit…..Of course, there is the very real possibility that the writer is spewing gobbledygook….but, being a proud life time member of the “left wing intelligentsia”, I fully accept the fact that: “I just don’t know.” And, in true form consistent with my hard-headed feminist illogical reasoning, “I simply don’t give a flip.”

    • TheMeansAreTheEnd says:

      “Illegal immigrants and ongoing automation are pricing them out of jobs”

      Actually, illegal immigrants are the labor pool for jobs most people don’t want, as Georgia learned when they drove out illegal immigrants & millions of dollars of crops rotted in the fields. Employers refusing to pay a living wage and shifting jobs out of the country are bigger problems than illegal immigrants. But hey, the strategy of turning people with common needs against each other has been very effective.

      As for climate change being a “radical concern”, military planners don’t agree with you: they are specifically making plans to cope with the mass migrations and resulting political turmoil & radicalization that climate changes are already causing. What do you think caused the Syrian civil war? Climate — check it out.


      • flypusher says:

        The big insurance companies are also taking this seriously. And even some of the big energy companies, like Shell.

      • flypusher says:

        I wouldn’t say the drought by itself caused the Syrian civil war. But contributed? Yes, that’s a reasonable thesis.

      • Glandu says:

        It comes back even earlier. The Sudan wars began in the 80s when the Janjawid, fleeing drier & drier areas in the north, began to look at the more wet areas of their southern neighbours.

        It did not have big consequences outside the area, but it was another era. Today, with moves easier than ever, any drought at one side of the planet has a huge impact upon the other side.

      • Doug says:

        In 1933 the Syrian drought was caused by the Yo-Yo. I guess it’s always something.


      • flypusher says:

        That’s some piss-poor satire, Doug. That’s really the kindest conclusion I can reach here.

      • Doug says:

        Why do you think it’s satire, fly?

      • flypusher says:

        Because to think that yo-yos could be even jokingly compared to a scientific consensus falls flat on its face. And I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here. It that was meant as a serious rebuttal then it’s just plain stupid.

      • Visited a home construction site lately, Means? Or are those jobs most people don’t want?

      • 1mime says:

        Businesses that build homes have been in the forefront of those using illegal immigrants. They like their work, their cost/hour, and have worked against interests who have urged greater reporting of laborers. This is not conjecture, Tracy, this is fact. I have worked for several years in the home building industry and all of the construction managers, inspectors, engineers are White, and the majority of the trades are Hispanic. They do take the jobs others won’t. I have watched these Hispanic laborers deck roofs in unbelievable temperatures. Same is true for road construction, or crops that have to be hand-harvested.

        Pick a new subject. You’re wrong on this one.

    • flypusher says:

      ‘..the “war” on women, ..’

      Your quotes are not justified. The GOP at the state level is doing their worst, from taking away bans in pay discrimination, to intrusion into one of the most important, life altering personal decisions, when and if to have a child. They are making things worse for women, not better, if you follow the deeds rather than the words.

    • Crogged says:

      Well, I for one am mad skillzed. How is it that the unemployed and underemployed always lack ‘skills’, not jobs?

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