Monday, September 23, 2013

Will Dana Milbank ever connect the dots?

Sandy Levinson

His column in the Washington Post is excellent, especially in its recognition that House Republicans are scarcely behaving irrationally (as Nancy Pelosi's analogy to arsonists might suggest), but, rather, are thoroughly rational, given their particular contexts.  But will he ever recognize that what he's really talking about implicates basic issues of constitutional structure, including, obviously, placing districting in the hands of party operates who would be accurately described by Madison as the devotees of "faction" totally uninterested in programs that serve the public interest unless they serve the political party's interest even more.  As I've argued now for some years, Ted Kennedy demonstrated the costs of bipartisanship when he collaborated with George W. Bush and therefore basically did in the candidacy of John Kerry (though Kerry's own campaign didn't help very much). 

The key thing to remember is the (many, perhaps mostt) terrorists are perfectly rational in terms of linking their despicable to means to attempts to achieve given ends.  That was certainly true of bin Laden. It's true of Ted Cruz, who wants nothing so much (quite literally) as to take over the Republican Party and, ideally (from his perspective) become President.  What is remarkable is the willingness of the entire Republican leadership, save for John McCain, to kowtow to the Canadian-born elite-educated junior senator from Texas.

I suspect that if this were 1860, Cruz would be leading a secessionist movement in Texas, since he clearly doesn't recognize the legitimacy of the 2012 presidential election, even though Obama, unlike Lincoln, actually received a majority of the popular vote.  For better or worse, secession isn't really on the table, so instead Cruz has to threaten to destroy the country (and the world economy) if he doesn't get his way.   



The thing to remember, is that just because YOU are convinced a policy can't possibly advance the public interest, doesn't mean somebody else can't think it does.

Something I frequently have to remind myself, when somebody advocates raising the minimum wage, or some such stupidity.

But the conviction that one's opponents don't really disagree with you about the consequences of their policies and actions, they just desire evil results, is one of the major drivers of the sort of Manichean worldview seen so much on the left, and which you've demonstrated in the last couple of posts.

No, they're not trying to destroy the country. They're trying to stop you from destroying it. Maybe they think you're terrorists and hostage takers, too: After all, you're willing to threaten default to prevent a program which is destroying the health care finance system from being shut down while there's still something left to save. At least, that's the Republican view of what's going on.

Brett responds to Sandy:

"No, they're not trying to destroy the country. They're trying to stop you from destroying it."

reflects his "anarcho-libertarianism" method of in effect accusing Sandy of being an anarchist. This is Brett's Bizarro World in action.

You know, Shag, if you were to stop devoting so much of your brainpower to inventing cutesy names for people, and (you think) clever retorts, you might actually have some left to engage other people's arguments.

Not that you would so apply it, but you'd have it available, anyway.

I don't think Sandy is an anarchist. I think he makes the mistake of believing everybody pretty much agrees with him about the consequences of policy choices, so if somebody picks a policy he thinks would have bad consequences, it must be that they WANT bad consequences.

In reality, of course, opponents of Obamacare believe IT has bad consequences, that perhaps it was intended to have many of them. That it was a way to destroy the existing health care finance system in the country, so that people who liked their existing insurance COULDN'T keep it, and would be forced in the end to let Democrats build a single payer system on the ruins of the insurance industry.

Perhaps a bit Manichean there, too.

Anyway, Sandy's a smart guy, I hate seeing him wrap his head in the liberal brand of tin foil this way. I want him to realize that people who disagree with him are good folks, too, who simply have a different view of how to achieve good ends.

And who actually, crazy as it may be, think the Democrats will agree to defund Obamacare instead of carrying out their threat to shut down the government by not voting for any continuing resolution that doesn't fund this program.

Remember "Wayne's World" on Saturday Night Live? Now we are entertained by Brett's "Manichean World." Is "Manichean World" the Bizarro version of Brett's "Anarcho-Libertarian World"?

By the Bybee [expletives deleted], it was Brett who made the reference to stopping Sandy from destroying the world, not I. Also, I thought Brett had long cornered the tin foil market.


You and the Democrat media are too fixated on demonizing Washington GOP politicians.

The Senate libertarians came up with the idea of defunding Obamacare, but the House did not move until we in the Tea Party jammed their phones and email boxes demanding that they enact the bill.

Nothing like ten of thousands representing millions more everyday "terrorists" exercising their right to petition their representatives to enact their will.


Wingnuts Brett and Blankshot are apparently still unaware that their side lost the last 2 elections.

Prof. Levinson --

I think you are spot on with this thread of arguments. And I have been interested to note that more and more commentators are starting to question whether our present (in fact, 18th century) constitutional structure is a fundamental national weakness.

I will differ with you on a small matter -- I believe you are confusing arsonists with pyromaniacs. Pyromania is a mental disorder that causes people to burn things simply to burn things, for the joy that is in it. Arsonists are a kind of thug, and usually used by people trying to extort something from someone (pay me the protection money or I will torch your bar) or defraud someone (torch your own house and collect the insurance money). When Nancy Pelosi used the term arsonists, I think she was spot on. These people are threatening to torch the entire economy if they don't get their way.

Perhaps our SALADISTA can reveal the identities of the "Senate libertarians who came up with the idea of defunding Obamacare ...." Perhaps he has a "Rand-om" selection in mind that most GOP Senators would shrug-off, to put it more politely than Sen. John McCain.

DMHC: And how are Senate Democrats not making the precisely identical threat, by refusing to vote for a continuing resolution that DOES fund Obamacare? They're just as willing to have a crisis if they don't get their way.

The problem here, I think, is with the notion that, once having been enacted, it is somehow illegitimate to undo this program. That the Democrats are defending a democratically created program, and the House illegitimate for attacking the results of a democratic vote.

But if Obamacare gets defunded, it will be as legitimate a result of politics and democracy as it's original creation.

Brett, your side is the MINORITY. It's not a legitimate result of democracy when the MINORITY uses extortion to get it's way.


I believe Senator Mike Lee gets the kudos for being the first Congress critter to publicly advocate defunding Obamacare.


DMHC: And how are Senate Democrats not making the precisely identical threat, by refusing to vote for a continuing resolution that DOES fund Obamacare? They're just as willing to have a crisis if they don't get their way.

You can blame/credit the GOP for defunding Obamacare, but only Democrats have historically threatened to or actually shut down the government to blackmail the House to continue to increase spending.

Brett continues to make his phony equivalence argument despite the fact that everyone recognizes it as phony. If the Republicans don't want to be perceived as extortionists, then they should try to repeal the ACA the straightforward way: by getting a majority in both Houses and the President. Threatening to torpedo *other* programs in order to get their way on the ACA is what makes them extortionists.


The Constitution grants the House the power to originate new appropriations and nowhere contemplates the progressive concept of mandatory spending unless you repeal the bill creating a department (or in the case of Obamacare dozens of departments) of the government.

In this case, the House is funding the government except for Obamacare. The Senate and President are threatening to block that funding and shut down the government to blackmail the House into restoring (and preferably increasing because the program is way over budget) Obamacare spending.

Let's give our SALADISTA a big shrug for identifying Sen. Mike Lee of Utah (any relation to Pinky Lee?) as one of the "Senate libertarians ..." but who else?


Brett continues to talk about the "left" when talking about a range of people who don't agree with his views. This includes when referencing to SL's rhetoric here. The other side uses that sort of rhetoric a lot too.

It is ironic, and not just in the Alanis Morissette sense to read this "Manichean" talk. From time to time we are assured he is a "libertarian," but "the left" seems to be his true concern. It comes off as a tad bit phony.

This effort is not a good way to "stop from destroying" things. As Mark Field notes, the actual productive way to do it is 'straightforward' ways, but they can't do that. Why? In part because the program isn't actually unpopular as a whole and they know this -- for it to have a real chance of happening, they would have to replace it with something, including something with chunks of the stuff there already.

Now, Brett and some minority might not want that stuff, but the majority do. REPUBLICANS admit as much.

"Tea Partiers" are an irrational minority within a cynical minority party. Somehow they think this means they should set policies for everybody.

I appreciate Brett's initial comment. I have no doubt at all that he (and millions of other Americans) genuinely believe that Obamacare and other programs that I favor are inimical to the public interest. And I have no doubt that some members of Congress share that view and believe that it is worth doing "whatever it takes" to stop such programs. But Milbank's point is that some of the Republicans are callow opportunists who in fact are simply caving to Ted Cruz, the Koch Brothers, or their constituents (without trying to educate their constituents on why they may be mistaken). They should roast in hell, which is not my view of Brett or Mr. DePalma.

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Pluralities to majorities of voters oppose every major Obama initiative with Obamacare neck-and-neck with the "stimulus" for most loathed.

We in the Tea Party are simply the most active in petitioning our representatives to reverse these errors.

A majority of voters do not share all of our libertarian/conservative views, but we in the Tea Party represent pluralities to majorities so far are Obamacare is concerned.

Of striking note, no one outside of the Democrat and some of the Republican ruling class is active in defending Obamacare. There is almost no grass roots support for this socialist train wreck.


I do appreciate your opposition to damning me to hell.

I sure hope the good Lord shares your opinion.

Blankshot is still completely unaware that Obama won the last election.

Blankshot, you had your chance to get rid of Obamacare in the last election. You lost. It was not even close. Get over it.

"But Milbank's point is that some of the Republicans are callow opportunists who in fact are simply caving to Ted Cruz, the Koch Brothers, or their constituents"

At last we achieve agreement! I simply believe that we're better off with people who do the right thing out of callow opportunism, than people who bravely insist on doing the wrong thing, even at the cost of their careers.

If it's any consolation, Sandy, I'm sure that the Republican leadership are looking for SOME way to lose this fight. They just need to lose it in a plausible way, instead of obviously giving their base the finger the way you'd prefer they do.

That their base no longer buys it when they take a dive is something they've never fully grasped, they still think if they're clever enough, they can arrange for Democrats to win, and still convince their own voters that they fought the good fight. The most likely outcome of this fight is a dive by the leadership, a base in part demoralized, and in part enraged at their own supposed 'leaders', and the Democrats doing quite well in 2014 due to the ongoing civil war within the GOP.

Brett, the weakness of your leaders is due to the fact that the majority of Americans don't want the policies that you like.

I think the Republicans are irrational only if you don't think their goals are legitimate. If a group of African-Americans had (let's say) refused to approve a CR or debt ceiling increase until voting rights were expanded, or an anti-lynching bill approved, would we call this legislative terror? Perhaps that seems overstated, but for better or worse there are plainly Republicans who see Obamacare that way: it's a very big mistake, I think, to assume they are just pretending so

The weird thing about history is that we can actually find *examples* to test hypotheticals. There were, in fact, anti-lynching bills and other civil rights bills brought forward in Congress. They were filibustered. But the proponents of those bills didn't threaten to shut down the government or to not raise the debt ceiling in return. No, they waited -- waited 75 years, during which thousands of innocent Americans were callously murdered and millions deprived of basic civil rights -- until they got a straightforward vote.

So yeah, obviously the Republicans are just like the civil rights heroes.

The sad thing is that none of this is new. Ted Cruz's intellectual and cultural forbears have been doing the same thing for 150 years or more. Lincoln called them on then and it's just as true today:

"But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!"

But now if the terrorist shoots the hostage, we're reliably assured that it's just as much the fault of the cops, who should have given the terrorist what he demanded.

The fact that people oppose Obamacare because they see it as a form of lynching does not make them rational, it just makes them irrational for a different set of reasons.

These are people who are willing to destroy our economy to stop something that they think might destroy our economy at some time in the future. That is not rational behavior.

I still have the Sam Waterson (of Law & Order fame) performance of the Cooper Union speech Mark Field quotes.

Good stuff. Works pretty good on the page too. Covers a lot of ground.

Cruz took to the Senate floor a couple hours ago to start a talking filibuster that Reid is not recognizing as a filibuster.

Its good to see the "world's greatest deliberative body" actually deliberate at length about substance - even if only the Tea Party libertarians are doing so.

if you're going to criticize Milbank for failing to point out that part of our problems stem from our defective constitution then shouldn't you also chide him for failing to mention our failed campaign finance laws, our ill-informed electorate, our media with its relentless faux-neutrality, and the millions of other things that have enabled the so-called Republic terrorists? Ok, pat yourself on the back, you have correctly pointed out one reason our political system is malfunctioning - but there are many many others utterly unrelated to the constitution of far greater importance.

I wonder if Sandy has any quarrel with Dana Mllbank's column today on Cruz's Tea Party libertarian" filibuster." As Cruz rants on, I think of the punch line of an old joke:

"Sure, dogs chase cars. But do they ever catch them?"

Andrew may be right, but then again, maybe he isn't. That is, we really have no very good idea what the relative degree of "importance' is among the factors he notes. I have no doubt that he is correct that all of them play a role, and my own hobbyhorse, of course, is that the defective Constitution does as well. Let's assume (as I basically do) that the Constitution counts for "only" 10% of our problem, while the "corruption" in the campaign finance process, as emphasized by Larry Lessig, my co-teacher of a seminar this semester at the Harvard Law School on what an Article V constitutional convention might look like, accounts for 15% of the problem. Does that mean that one resolutely chooses the latter and ignores the former--putting to one side that Larry wants a constitutional convention in order to overturn Citizens United--or can we, in effect, walk and chew gum at the same time. The structure of the Constitution amplifies the evils that Andrew rightly identifies precisely because it rewards any group able to capture even a single veto point (like the House of Representatives or, for that matter the President, who can veto legislation passed with 60% majorities in the House and Senate).

The best part of Cruz's substance filled non filibuster was probably when he read Green Eggs and Ham. That is a story about someone who hates something for no particular reason, but eventually discovers that he really likes it. I'm relatively certain that Cruz would not recognize the irony even if it were explained to him.

The only reason you're able to get away with dumb, partisan crap which would be right at home on Think Progress or Gawker is that your academic colleagues - who agree with many of your conclusions - are too cowardly to call you out on your methodological stupidity and McCarthyism.

You're a troll, Sandy - hopeless and proud of it. At this point you're likely beyond (or beneath) moral dissuasion.

But your colleagues should be ashamed.

Anger management issues much?

In reality, of course, opponents of Obamacare believe IT has bad consequences, that perhaps it was intended to have many of them. That it was a way to destroy the existing health care finance system in the country, so that people who liked their existing insurance COULDN'T keep it, and would be forced in the end to let Democrats build a single payer system on the ruins of the insurance industry. LOL美服代练  cheap lol elo boost  Fifa 15 Coins  Buy lol elo boost


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