1. You may have noticed Mitch McConnell’s unforced error this week. He said the national debt, which has ballooned to levels unseen in six years, is not due to the GOP tax cuts. It’s due to “entitlements,” like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
2. Worse, he refused to take responsibility for something he and his party are entirely responsible for. “It’s not a Republican problem,” McConnell said. “It’s a bipartisan problem: unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt." bloomberg.com/news/articles/…
3. In other words, the answer to our looming fiscal disaster isn’t making hard choices about expenditures and revenues. It’s cutting, and cutting, things Americans really are entitled to. That, and trying, again, to repeal the Affordable Care Act. bloomberg.com/news/articles/…
1. Late last week, the Post released the results of a survey showing that 43 percent of Americans believe that Supreme Court rulings will more politically motivated with Brett Kavanaugh on the court. Thirty-nine percent he won’t make a difference. s2.washingtonpost.com/c81fd9/5bc0d42…
2. This isn’t surprising. The Republican operative-turned-federal jurist was confirmed by the narrowest margin since the 1880s. His 50-48 Senate confirmation will dog him for the rest of his life, and it will imperil the court’s legitimacy for decades.
3. As much as Chief John Roberts would prefer that all of us continue to see the court as impartial, partisanship was baked into the jurisprudential cake on Day 1. npr.org/2018/10/17/658…
1. Donald Trump keeps saying that he wants more proof before condemning outright the Saudis for killing, beheading, and dismembering Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. But the president can’t hold that tenuous position for long.
2. For one thing, the US had been alerted, according to the Wall Street Journal. It reported Wednesday that Turkey had “shared evidence in recent days, including the details of an audio recording, with both the US and Saudi Arabia to support their conclusion.”
3. It said Khashoggi “wasn’t interrogated.” He was seized immediately on entering the building. The implication is that his murder was premeditated. wsj.com/articles/pompe…
1. If the Wall Street Journal is right, the president already knows that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Yet he’s saying anything that comes to mind to protect America’s ally in the region. Why?
2. The newspaper reported this morning that Saudi operatives “beat, drugged, killed and dismembered” Khashoggi “in the presence of the kingdom’s top diplomat.”
3. It reported that Turkey “shared evidence in recent days, including the details of an audio recording, with both the US and Saudi Arabia to support their conclusion.” It said Khashoggi “wasn’t interrogated.” He was seized on entering the building.
1. There’s been a lot of talk about civility since Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder made news last week. Their comments have sparked a kind of backlash, as if they were tapping into a fear that the Democrats will behave as badly as the Republicans.
2. My question is: so what if they did?
3. To be sure, I think the Democrats will continue to value etiquette and courtesy. They are a broad coalition of factions that usually doesn’t get along unless a Republican is in the White House.
1. As for voter suppression, it’s real. But never let a liberal complain about it without mentioning that voter suppression is *not why Democrats lose.* Democrats lose, because people who would most benefit from Democratic policies don’t vote.
2. Liberals are right to condemn GOP voting laws. They are immoral. But let’s not forget to put blame where it rightly belongs: in the laps of complacent Democratic voters.
3. The Times’ @DLeonhardt did the homework. He found that voter turnout has remained largely the same in midterms and presidential election years, despite the rise of repressive voter ID laws since 2012.
1. We should be careful. In expressing outrage for citizens being cheated out of their right to self-government, liberals run the risk of deepening distrust in the whole enterprise. That’s especially true if we’re wrong.
2. It looks like we were wrong. It turns out, those 53,000 voters can still vote, according to the ACLU of Georgia. It said that “all voters who have pending registration applications can still cast a regular ballot by presenting photo identification.”
1. A video of Eric Holder went viral Wednesday. The former US Attorney General, and close friend of former President Barack Obama, was speaking in Georgia in support of Stacey Abrams, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate there. Holder said:
2. Holder: Michelle [Obama] always says … ‘When they go low, we go high.’ No. When they go low, we kick them.
3. Holder: That’s what this new Democratic Party is about. We’re proud as hell to be Democrats. We’re ready to fight for the ideals of the Democratic Party.
1. “Backlash” is one of those words typically reserved for a specific context. As in: the fight for equality and civil rights sparked a white backlash in the 1960s that defined politics for a generation. But there’s another way of looking at it.
2. Backlash is about minorities and majorities. Fact is, liberal activists in the 1960s were a minority, and their victories in the US Supreme Court were out of step with the preferences of a majority of Americans,
3. which is to say the majority of Americans was too racist to stomach Brown v. the Board of Education & equal rights. When Richard Nixon campaigned on the idea of a “silent majority” ready to restore law & order, he was highlighting the contrast b/w minority & majority opinion.
2. @HillaryClinton got a lot of flack Tuesday. She said: You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.
3. HRC: That's why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that's when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength.
1. John Kerry spoke at Yale Tuesday. From what I can tell, the former senator and secretary of state was talking about the politics of 2011, not the politics of 2018.
2. He lamented the rise of tribalism in politics, the degradation of collegiality in the Senate, and the overall decline of civility in government and society. In brief, he sounded like a guy who wants to run for president. Per WNPR:
3. Kerry: “I think it’s fair to say, particularly given the last few weeks in Washington … we’re in some trouble,” Kerry told his interviewer, journalist Thomas Friedman. “It’s bothered me a lot. I’ve watched the progressive deterioration of the traditional workings of
1. President Obama said often that sensible people can gather to devise solutions to our country’s most pressing problems. He said partisan interests, in the end, would give way to reason, the national interest and the common good. That’s what he said.
2. His problem: he believed it.
3. At least, he did in the beginning of his presidency. By the end, he realized the opposing party had no interest in the national interest. Indeed, the Republicans decided their interests were predicated on being anathema to the common good.
1. The Republicans aren’t alone. Democrats believe spin, too. To be sure, the numbers aren’t the same. While most Republicans really do believe their own nonsense, a small faction of Democrats tends to swallow baloney whole.
2. We can see this in the reaction to Joe Manchin’s vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. He was the lone Democrat to do so. Some say there’s nothing good in the party having a Republican-lite. Others have called for him to be purged.
3. Others still say the Democrats don’t need the likes of Manchin. @onesarahjones, in New York magazine, said:
1. Thread, quoting Jefferson to a friend, about SCOTUS: You seem in pages 84 and 148, to consider the judges as the ultimate, arbiters of all constitutional questions – a very dangerous doctrine indeed and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.
2. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. Their maxim is, ‘boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem’; and their power is the more dangerous
3. as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time & party, its members would become despots.
1. The Editorial Board’s mission is to cut through the noise by speaking plainly about politics. That mission is especially relevant now after so many spent so much time this weekend explaining why the Democrats lost the battle over Brett Kavanaugh.
2. Here’s a reality check. The Republicans had the advantage. They always had the advantage. There are 51 Republicans in the Senate. There are 49 Dems. The GOP needed a majority to confirm. They could have lost one Republican. The vice president would then have broken the tie.
3. It was a numbers game in the beginning. It was a numbers game at the end. Everything else might have impacted those numbers. But don’t let possibilities take away from this stone-cold and fundamental fact: the GOP had more votes.
1. Paul Campos says that if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, he and the other four conservative justices of the Supreme Court will have been appointed illegitimately. lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2018/10/kavana…
2. Clarence Thomas, he said, perjured himself. John Roberts and Samuel Alito were appointed by George W. Bush, who won the 2000 election thanks to the court. Bush did not win the popular or electoral vote. He won because a divided court told officials in FL to stop recounting.
3. Then there’s President Donald Trump’s picks, Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. Like Bush, Trump did not win the popular vote either.
1. So much ado about the so-called Kavanaugh effect. In brief, it’s fear among Democrats that the fight over the nominee is going to drive out Republicans next month, limiting their possible gains, especially in the Senate. Let me give it to you straight.
2. That’s baloney.
3. If the Republicans were to hold a vote after the midterms, all of the above might be true. The Republican base, which cares about the courts more than the Democratic base does, would in that scenario have an incentive to come out in force.
1. The FBI last night wrapped up its background investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The bureau remitted its report to the White House early today. From there, it went to the Senate. Each party is taking turns reading it.
2. Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was the first to make a statement. No surprise, he said there’s nothing here we don’t already know. The implication was that Mitch McConnell’s plan to hold a vote tomorrow is a go.
3. The Democrats, of course, are going to demur. They are already suggesting that previous background checks on Kavanaugh contain troubling findings. What those are, I don’t know, because Grassley would have to make them public.
1. President Donald Trump mocked Christine Blasey Ford last night during a rally. In doing so, he made fun of all women who have experienced the trauma of sexual assault.
2. He also wrote a new chapter in the story of his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. In openly disdaining Ford, and invoking supporters to laugh at her pain, the president tried turning the midterms into a referendum on #MeToo.
3. He’s wrong. November’s midterms, indeed all midterms, are a referendum of the party in control of the White House. This is the case. This has always been the case. I can think of one exception.
1. I’ve been puzzling over why the Republicans are all-in for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. It’s not like there aren’t a dozen apparatchiks to choose from.
2. Why endure a week-long drip-drip of bad headlines in order to confirm him? Why not cut him off, tap a new nominee, and take advantage of renewed willingness to play ball? There’s still time, though not much. Why all-in for just one mook?
3. @ThePlumLineGS and @paulwaldman1 suggested Monday that the Republicans have convinced themselves the fight over Kavanaugh is a win for them—at least as it pertains to holding the Senate. (The GOP leadership appears ready to concede that the House is lost.)
1. This week will be rife with push and pull. The Democrats want to see more. The Republicans want to see less. But let’s not lose sight of where we are heading. No matter how wide, or narrow, the investigation’s scope is, the Republicans are signalling it’s Kavanaugh or bust.
2. The Republicans seem prepared to overlook or ignore incriminating evidence in order to transform the United States Supreme Court for the next 30 years, even if that means losing the House and the Senate.
3. It’s still unclear why the Republicans are all-in for Kavanaugh. Any apparatchik will do. Much better to cut him off in order to go with a nominee with less baggage. Yes, the Republicans say they fear losing the Senate if they fail, but that always felt like rationalizing.
1. Pulitzer prize-winner Matthew Desmond poured ice water on the debate over universal basic income and a federal jobs guarantee. nytimes.com/2018/09/11/mag…
2. In a portrait of Vanessa (at right, above), a woman who cannot climb the social ladder no matter how hard she works, Desmond wrote that liberals have allowed conservatives to dominate the poverty debate so much they don’t defend anti-poverty measures that work. Instead,
3. Desmond: they find themselves arguing about radical solutions that imagine either a fully employed nation (like a jobs guarantee) or a postwork society (like a universal basic income). Neither plan has the faintest hope of being actually implemented nationwide anytime soon,
1. I understand why Barack Obama chose to restore order after the 2008 financial crisis. But the former president’s natural instinct for caution came at a price.
2. His insistence not to seek “Old Testament justice” meant that many Americans channeled their justifiable rage against Wall Street and capitalism run amok in other ways.
3. Those other ways included supporting the so-called Tea Party, thus sending the Democratic Party to the margins of power in states and localities across the country, and, as Joshua Green reminds us, voting for President Donald Trump.