A bit of chemistry in the news from Compoud Interest. Click to enlarge.
Whenever I move Ross Douthat to the top of APR, you can figure it's because he's been unexpectedly insightful, or because he's been exceptionally... that other thing. This week, it's that other thing.
Ross Douthat and the search for the One True Speaker.
In an earlier, cozier Washington, D.C., John Boehner could have been the kind of House speaker whose memory is held dear by high-minded chin strokers on Sunday morning television programs: An icon of sadly bygone bipartisanship, a cutter of the grandest bargains, a man who, by God, made legislation move. ...
... House Republicans need a speaker who’s an ambassador from the Tea Party to the G.O.P.’s K Street/Chamber of Commerce wing, rather than the other way around.
The reality is this: The only way the Republican House majority can become less dysfunctional and chaotic in the short run is if the next speaker wins the trust of enough conservative backbenchers to quell or crush revolts from the rest. And the best way to win that trust is to be seen as fundamentally on the insurgents’ side, which is a feat that Boehner, given his background and priorities, could never hope to manage.
Such a figure exists. Unfortunately, he’s in the other chamber: He’s Utah’s junior senator, Mike Lee.
Lee has an insurgent’s résumé: He was elected with the Tea Party wave in 2010, defeating an incumbent Republican, Bob Bennett, along the way. He was Ted Cruz’s partner in crime during the government shutdown debates.
Let's jump past the idea that there exists a fantasy land where John Boehner might be regarded as effective. Let's get straight to Ross Douthat's Brilliant Plan! Douthat wants to make Mike Lee the next Speaker of the House. This will get things moving, because Mike Lee was central to shutting down the government, which was some of the most ineffective non-governing ever. Just the kind of thinking we need. Plus, Lee is a sponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act that protects people who hate The Gays, making the Federal government just as even-handed and effective as the state of Indiana. Putting someone who never stops thinking of new ways to cripple our legislature in charge of the legislature? Just the sort of new idea this town needs. Of course, there's the little matter that Mike Lee isn't in
the House, which, granted, is not a technical requirement, and hey, why not. I mean, you know what Congressmen love more than anything else? Senators telling them what to do. Yup.
Douthat's entire plan for dealing with the people he acknowledges as extreme is: give into them. Remind me that I do now want this man negotiating in a hostage situation. And those waiting for the Douthat Highfalutin Word of the Week will have to make do with "recapitulated" or "nihilistic." Which I find quite tristifical.
There she blows! There she blows! A orange squiggly divider like... like... like an orange squiggly divider! It is APR! Come on in.
Sonia Nazario on our wall by proxy.
In the past 15 months, at the request of President Obama, Mexico has carried out a ferocious crackdown on refugees fleeing violence in Central America. The United States has given Mexico tens of millions of dollars for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 to stop these migrants from reaching the United States border to claim asylum.
Essentially the United States has outsourced a refugee problem to Mexico that is similar to the refugee crisis now roiling Europe. ...
Mexico has been particularly zealous in beating back children traveling alone. In the first seven months of this year, Mexico had already apprehended 18,310 minors, up nearly a third over the same period a year ago.
Read the whole piece for tragic, specific examples. So while Trump is convincing people that Mexico has a murder and rapist export program, the truth is we're paying Mexico to keep our border from reflecting the true impact of military unrest in Central America.
Joe Nocera checks out how the Koch brothers
earn every penny breeze by on corporate welfare.
Feb. 1, 2013, was a red-letter day for a proposed Arkansas steel mill called Big River Steel. With a cost estimated at around $1.3 billion, the project, if it got off the ground, was expected to be the largest industrial development in Arkansas history ... the Arkansas Legislature was considering a $125 million bond issue to help pay for the mill’s construction, as well as over $200 million in tax credits for buying and installing recycling equipment
... the Arkansas Legislature was informed that Big River Steel had a new investor: none other than Koch Minerals, which is part of Koch Industries, the Koch brothers’ privately held industrial conglomerate. The Kochs, you see, had decided to take a 40 percent equity stake, making them the project’s biggest investor. In doing so, of course, the Kochs were taking advantage of the same “corporate welfare” they had long condemned — while relying on the kind of government credit agency they are trying to dismantle in America.
The Kochs don't have any principle that extends past their wallet. That should have been obvious decades ago.
Kathleen Parker isn't sure who should be Speaker, but she knows who shouldn't.
The worst job in the world, it turns out, isn’t the U.S. presidency but speaker of the House of Representatives. ...
McCarthy’s fall wasn’t only owing to his verbal blunder suggesting that the House select committee investigating Benghazi was primarily created to bring down Hillary Clinton. Like Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), he was shafted by the three dozen or so members of the Freedom Caucus who promised a bloc vote in exchange for public pledges, which McCarthy (to his credit) refused to make.
By Friday, the hands-down favorite to take the spot was Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)...
Objectively, Ryan is in every way the right choice for the party. For the past several years, he’s been the go-to guy for all matters budgetary. In 2010, when the GOP mantra was cut, cut, cut , few could articulate their preferences. Almost anyone you asked about cuts would answer, Ask Paul Ryan. He’s got it all figured out. ...
[Ryan] would do well to let history guide him. No good deed goes unpunished with this crowd. Soon enough, the Freedom Caucus gang will make life miserable for the next speaker, and then what?
Does every Republican pundit first toss a smoke grenade ("John Boehner the effective," "Paul Ryan the math whiz!") before uttering their opinion on the Speakership? It's not that being Speaker is the worst job in the world. It's that the Republicans are letting themselves get jerked around by the worst people in the House.
Dana Milbank gives his latest on the Republican soap opera.
The chaos on Capitol Hill would be entertaining if the consequences weren’t so serious.
The speaker of the House is second in line to the presidency, and since the founding of the Republic the position has been one of the most important in government, key to national security and domestic tranquility.
Now a band of about three dozen conservative hard-liners, exploiting the partisan divide, has essentially hijacked the chamber, reducing the speaker’s role to that of a figurehead subservient to its wishes.
This isn’t a leadership battle; it’s a coup.
You know, there are 188 Democrats in the House. It would only take 30 Republicans On the Side of Reason to split away and turn the Freedom Caucus back into the foot-stompers in the corner. Think about it, Republicans. Maybe you could even help steer.
Frank Bruni and the GOP trainwreck.
Over the last two decades, through Bob Dole and George W. Bush and John McCain and Mitt Romney, it has become an article of faith that the Republican presidential nominee is a person blessed by, or acceptable to, the party’s establishment, meaning the elders, the bankers, the cool heads, the deep pockets. ...
Is this the election cycle when that changes?
The twilight of the Republican elite? ...
This isn’t a mere replay of four years ago, when Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum had their moments. They were middle fingers raised one at a time, in succession (even if Santorum was really more a pinkie). Trump, Carson and Fiorina are parallel, simultaneous phenomena, constituting a gesture of more profound rebuke.
We've gone for months now with polls on the Republican side showing that you couldn't pile together every Republican candidate who ever held an office greater than chalkboard cleaner and get close to a majority of the vote. The top of the polls is still the box next to Blow up the Party. But Bruni's theory is that all the celebrity candidates will eventually fold, leaving the field open for one man.
Someone like Ted Cruz.
“He’s perfectly positioned himself to own that space when Trump and Carson disappear,” said a Republican operative who is among the smartest analysts I know. “He’ll be a force to be reckoned with. I think that he has a very clear path to the nomination, as much as that horrifies me.”
Mike Lee as Speaker of the House, Ted Cruz for president. Actually, I can't think of anything that would more perfectly capture of the pathos of the right.
The New York Times wishes we'd simply tell kids the truth.
Misinformation about climate change is distressingly common in the United States — a 2014 Yale study found that 35 percent of Americans believe that global warming is caused mostly by natural phenomena rather than human activity, and 34 percent think there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether global warming is even happening.
Fortunately for Republicans, laws that make it impossible to adequately teach evolution also serve to muddy the water (and pollute the air) about climate change.
Timothy Ega has a serious suggestion that starts with a gut-wrenching story.
It passed with little notice when an 11-year-old boy shot and killed an 8-year-old girl a few days ago in Tennessee — shot her because she wouldn’t show him her puppy. The boy used his family’s 12-gauge shotgun to kill the second-grader.
It passed, as these things do in a country that accepts more than 33,000 deaths by gunfire every year, because we now live by an Onion headline that’s long ceased to be satirical: “‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”
So don’t look for solutions from the political system, which can’t even produce a background check measure supported by 90 percent of citizens. The system is not only broken, but rigged on behalf of a lobby of fanatics who control one political party, forcing it to respond to mass killings with ever more incoherent statements.
We should look, instead, to the mothers of America. The politics have to be replaced by the personal.
It makes my teeth itch whenever someone talks appealing to "mothers" or even to parents. There's not a lot of difference between leaning on one group to take action, and shirking your own need to own responsibility.
Colbert King reminds, um, someone, that the NRA doesn't speak for every gun owner.
Since 1988, I have been a registered gun owner in the District, and thus, according to Newsweek, among the 22 percent of Americans who own a firearm. In 2013, the Pew Research Center put ownership at 24 percent. ...
One thing is for sure: We have the highest per capita rate of firearm-related murders of all developed countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 33,636 firearms deaths in 2013. ...
The National Rifle Association doesn’t speak for this gun owner. Bring on the controls.
I'm in the same boat. The actual number of people who belong to the NRA is impossible to pin down, but almost certainly hundreds of thousands, if not millions, less than the organization claims. But it doesn't care about gun owners. It's an organization for gun manufacturers, designed simply to keep the government ineffective and the public afraid. Really, it's a model of effectiveness.
Leonard Pitts searches for missing truth.
This,” says Roni Dean-Burren, “is what erasure looks like.”
She’s talking about something you might otherwise have thought innocuous: a page from World Geography, a high school textbook. A few days ago, you see, Dean-Burren, a former teacher and a doctoral candidate at the University of Houston, was texted a caption from that book by her son Coby, who is 15. It said that the Atlantic slave trade “brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.” This was in a section called “Patterns of Immigration.”
She says the words jumped out at her. After all, a “worker,” is usually someone who gets paid to do a job. An immigrant is usually someone who chooses to come to a new country. Neither of which describes the millions of kidnapping victims who cleared America’s fields and endured its depravities in lives of unending bondage that afforded them no more rights under the law than a dog or a chair.
As the Trail of Tears was not a nature walk and the Normandy invasion not a day at the beach, black people were neither workers nor immigrants, but slaves.