Morning Must Reads: July 31

In the news: the Bradley Manning verdict, Larry Summers' Fed Chairman chances, Syria, Zimbabwe's election, shutting down the government, and the Hill's 50 Most Beautiful People.

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Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

  • Bradley Manning faces life in prison after being found guilty on six counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917. Manning released hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks for publication on the Internet.
    • Loner had turned to the Internet for solace.
  • While a grand-bargain deficit-reduction plan seems out of reach, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and other Republican senators believe a compromise that would end or reduce the sequester and increase agency budgets is possible.
  • Iran has agreed to supply Damascus with $3.6 billion in oil in exchange for the right to invest in the country.
  • Zimbabwe votes in pivotal election today.
  • Obama has asked Senators McCain and Lindsey Graham to travel to Egypt to meet with its military leaders and the opposition.
  • New Republic interviews McCain. They discuss Fox News, the Tea Party, and choosing between Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul in 2016. “Am I happy? I’d like to be president of the United States,” says McCain at one point.
  • Ben White deconstructs the arguments against Larry Summers for Fed Chairman.
    • WSJ: “Summers has been skeptical about the benefits of the Fed’s huge bond-buying programs, known as ‘quantitative easing,’ but he also has said he sees few harmful side effects stemming from them.”
  • Home prices shot up in America’s largest cities in May, rising at a pace not seen since the bubble days.
  • Peter Orzag defends the Medicare payment board.
  • The Justice Department said for the first time it needs to tell defendants when sweeping surveillance is used to build a criminal case against them.
  • The average Frenchman these days eats only half a baguette a day compared with almost a whole baguette in 1970 and more than three in 1900.
  • The Hill releases its annual “50 Most Beautiful People” list.
326 comments
paulejb
paulejb

Liberal speak:


Confiscatory taxes - Revenue enhancers


Global warming - Climate change.
Excessive spending - Investments
Liberal - Progressive
Abortion - Choice

Now Abortionists are Choice providers.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

The Contradiction At The Heart Of The Latest Movement To Save The GOP

A group of conservative writers are attempting to remake the GOP’s economic ideology along the lines of something they call “libertarian populism,” which basically means opposition to both “big government” and “big business.” The idea has been getting a ton of play of late, most recently in the form of smart critiques of libertarian populism’s economic policy and political strategy by Josh Barro and Jonathan Chait. But libertarian populism’s most basic conceptual flaw has yet to be fully brought out: The idea is at its core morally and philosophically incoherent. Either libertarian populists have to concede that left-liberals are basically right about social justice or they’re putting lipstick on the garden-variety conservative oinker.

The core idea that’s supposed to separate “libertarian populism” from garden variety Republicanism is its hostility to big business: “it aims at breaking the Republican brand away from the concept of Big,” in the words of leading “libpop” proponent Ben Domenech. Things libertarian populists like to hate include Wall Street bailouts, farm subsidies, and the Export-Import Bank. From a progressive point of view, the policy agenda is a step up from standard conservatism: It’d be great if Republicans got serious about limiting the power of the financial sector or cutting subsidies for fossil fuel corporations.

But libertarian populists don’t see themselves as simply proposing a series of thematically related policy options. Their goal is to provide a new overarching economic philosophy for the Republican Party, a principle that changes the very core of the Republican Party’s identity. Lest you think I’m overstating it, Domenech again: the GOP should reform “in recognition of altered perspective on what it means to lead a life well-lived.” Modest the libertarian populists are not.

The problem is that no libertarian populist has yet to, in principled terms, explain the moral foundation of opposition to “the concept of Big.” Why should conservatives oppose big business? Why should anyone?

Here libertarian populists would scoff. We oppose Bigness in all its forms, of course, because it makes markets unfair! We are populists precisely because we defend the little guy’s right to be an entrepreneur without either Big Business or Big Government impeding their Randian self-actualizing verve!

This isn’t actually an answer. All the standard libpop line does is shift the question up one more level: Why should we care about removing barriers to entry for the lower and middle classes into the market place?

Here’s where things get dicey for the libertarian populist cause. One potential answer to that question is “everyone has a right to equal economic opportunity,” so it’s unfair when the government gives some businesses market advantages over others. But going down that rabbit hole leads to conclusions like “it’s unfair that some people have wealthier parents and access to better schools,” because those people start life with market legs-up on other people. If the problem is unfair access to markets, it’s wholly arbitrary to say that only government-caused inequality matters.

There’s no principled reason, then, that libertarian populists could oppose progressive wealth redistribution. They could say it doesn’t work, sure, but empirically speaking that’s impossibly tough sledding. Nor would libertarian populists really want to say their only difference with left-liberals is in the wonkery; they want to present an in-principle alternative to the progressive program.

“Wait!” the libertarian populist cries. “You’re forgetting that we also think people should be able to keep the money that they earn — we are libertarians, for God’s sake!” The principle that the rich deserve their wealth makes it wrong for the government to confiscate their wealth to level the playing field for the poor and middle class, but it’s also wrong for the wealthy to manipulate government to enhance their business interests. Equality of opportunity must be balanced against what the rich deserve.

But this just brings us back to garden-variety, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan Republicanism. If equality of opportunity can never trump the principle that “producers” deserve to keep what they own, then libertarian populism isn’t really a challenge to contemporary Republican ideology. It’s merely a demand for a series of policy changes that, while improvements, preserve the overweening edifice of Republicanism. It’s no accident, as Chait points out, that both Romney and Ryan borrowed (and, in the latter’s case, continues to borrow) libertarian populist rhetoric about “crony capitalism.”

And if libertarian populists don’t challenge the core of Republican ideology, then they won’t even get the small-ball changes they want. The economic wing of the Republican Party is dominated by business interests, because that’s who the “we earned it, we keep it” line appeals to. Business interests, for obvious reasons, tend to rather like the alliance between big government and big business. Absent a political overhaul of the GOP’s economic coalition, an anti-Big agenda will never gain a foothold. And absent a revision of the Republican Party’s underlying ideology about wealth-producers earning what they keep, then the GOP won’t be able to expand its coalition.

Unless libertarian populists starting taking the “populist” half of the equation seriously, their movement will never be anything more than a smokescreen, a way to vent about the actually existing Republican Party’s betrayals while doing nothing to change its actual views.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Desperate Times in TrollVille. Out come the 20 year old Videos.

roknsteve
roknsteve

Best line so far from the Christie/Paul thread.  "Al Sharpton already took the edge off your race wedge."  Some hip-hopper should use it.  

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

If a horse did as little work as the GOP congress it would have been glue months ago.

retiredvet
retiredvet

What a governing allergy looks like

...House Republicans will spend much of this week voting on a collection of legislative proposals aimed mostly at embarrassing the Obama administration and scoring some political points. [...]

Eager to call renewed attention to the troubled Internal Revenue Service and lingering doubts about the health-care law, Republican leaders have dubbed this "Stop Government Abuse Week," a parting shot at the White House and a conversation-starter for GOP lawmakers as they travel home to their districts in August. [...]

The themed week has been in the works for more than a month, and some GOP aides privately admit that House leaders rushed consideration of the farm bill in early July in order to make space on the calendar for the "scandal bills."

roknsteve
roknsteve

@paulejb You want some cheese with that whine?  Oh, that's right, trolls only drink gutter water.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

I could say "I've done (something reprehensible to someone) millions of times" and it would be literally three hundred and twenty-two.  So it's not in the millions; that still doesn't ignore the fact that the regrettable action is one too many. 

First your distortion that "Detroit the industry is bankrupt", now this. You're pretty anal (and typically wrong) on your vocabulary. 

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

That number is totally suspect because a lot of them occurred out on plantations and there is no record except family histories.  They were still occuring up to the 1920's.  But go ahead and keep looking for any source so uou can put out your consevative drivel.

notsacredh
notsacredh

I think she stole my soul and touched my nether regions.

paulejb
paulejb

@mantisdragon91

If a horse did as little work as Barack Obama it would have been glue months ago.

Fixed it for you, Bugs.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@sacredh 

I'm so evil that I can't hate anyone. But I do have a lot of pity and sadness for a portion of this country who reject both civility and basic common sense. Passion is good - stupid passion is bad.

Sue_N
Sue_N

They're not even pretending to try any more. What a sorry, worthless lot is the House GOP.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@retiredvet 

What a useless lot; it's good that they're taking a break from all that exhausting scandal manufacturing. 

paulejb
paulejb

@retiredvet 

The Obama regime needs no help in embarrassing itself as well as the entire nation.

ahandout
ahandout

@mantisdragon91 @paulejb You don't have right to kill.

And look around you, the democrats are always passing restrictions and laws restricting everything from how much soda you can drink, to trying to outlaw balloons.  There is no area of your life that democrats don't want to control.  

paulejb
paulejb

@ARTRaveler 

Millions, ART? That seems counterproductive for slave holders, wouldn't you say?

notsacredh
notsacredh

@MrObvious, I'm so evil that Satan wouldn't let me play with his kids when we were young. 

ahandout
ahandout

@ARTRaveler You have any reference material for your 2nd amendment claim?  Did you find it written on a roll of TP? 

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

No, as an example to the other slaves and the lynching continued far past the slavery days.  After all, that is the real reason, not NRA, why there is a 2nd Amendment (to capture runaway slaves). You could be hung for just looking at a white woman. 

MrObvious
MrObvious

@sacredh @paulejb

'Wingers never do - you can hear angels singing when they speak. They are gods chosen tur... I mean people.