Andrew Sullivan: A Victory For What?

Describing Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) attempts at describing for Fox News what Republicans will do with their new majority as "so pathetic even the Fox News crowd could barely hide their dismay," conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan observes that "after this relentlessly negative and vacuous campaign ... it’s hard to detect an issue or platform around which the GOP constructed a victory."

Says Sullivan:

... [W]hat this represents is a backlash against a change that is coming anyway – a vote by the older generation against the America that the younger generation seems to represent and want. Or a rising up of white America against the browns and blacks. This is too crude, of course. But it captures something important about this moment of vacuous retrenchment.

McConnell Reveals Shutdown Plans at Secret Billionaire Conference

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was caught on tape by The Nation explaining to a secret conference of billionaires organized by the Koch brothers that he plans to use the appropriations process to prevent action by the executive branch. If the GOP wins the Senate this year, McConnell promises to attach riders to appropriations bills limiting how the funds can be spent, in an attempt to curtail the actions of government departments and agencies.

In GOP States That Opted Out of ACA and Medicaid Expansion, Thousands Left Without Insurance (TPM) highlights Harvard sociologist Theda Skocpol's analysis of the effect of state adoption of the Affordable Care Act on the number of people insured.

States that chose not to set up their own insurance exchanges or opted out of Medicaid expansion "are putting all their lower income residents at risk ... not just by refusing to expand Medicaid but also, in many cases, by failing to help people get subsidized private coverage through the exchange."

Affordable Care Act

Talking Points Memo digs into the semantics of What Really Happens To People Whose Insurance Is 'Canceled' Because Of Obamacare, and finds that "Almost all of them are going to receive the same or much better coverage, and many of them are going to receive financial help to purchase it."

Politico reports on the carefully planned campaign by Republicans to sabotage the Affordable Care Act at every step.

GOP Extremists Threaten Economy and Nation

James Fallows spells out as clearly as I've seen anywhere how the current dysfunction in Washington is the result of a fight within the Republican party over whether compromise itself is legitimate.

David Frum predicts that a government shutdown will hurt the GOP because (1) Obama will not destroy the Affordable Care Act, (2) Rejoicing in some Republican quarters at the prospect of a shutdown will make it impossible to blame Democrats in Congress or the administration, and (3) Because of items (1) and (2), Frum predicts Republicans will be forced to retreat, and the attendant de-motivation of extremists will reduce chances of electoral gains in 2014.

Andrew Sullivan: "Meep, Meep !@#$%^&*()!"

Andrew Sullivan, who has consistently avoided the mindless Obama-bashing lately prevalent in the press on the left and the right, has this to say, today:

Obama has managed to insist on his red line on Syria’s chemical weapons, forcing the world to grapple with a new breach of international law, while also avoiding being dragged into Syria’s civil war. But he has also strengthened the impression that he will risk a great deal to stop the advance of WMDs (which presumably includes Iran’s nukes). After all, his announcement of an intent to strike Assad was a real risk to him and to the US. Now, there’s a chance that he can use that basic understanding of his Syria policy – and existing agreement on chemical weapons – to forge a potential grand bargain with Iran’s regime. If that is the eventual end-game, it would be historic.

Read the whole post here.

Whither the GOP?

The Washington Post's Dan Balz, whose commentary I usually find stodgy, posted a piece on August 3 titled "Which direction for the divided GOP?." Echoing analyses that have been widely heard since last year's election, Balz'z piece is subtitled "Splits likely to persist."

Balz cites a recent Pew Research poll that asked Republicans about their party. The poll found little agreement, other than that the party must address major problems if it is to do better in future presidential elections. But 54 percent thought that meant taking a more conservative direction, while 40 percent wanted moderation. There was even less agreement on tactics, with about one third saying congressional Republicans had compromised too much, one third saying the tactics were about right, and one quarter calling for greater compromise with Democrats.

Emerging Consensus That IRS Scrutiny of Nonprofit Applications Not Political

In an article titled "I.R.S. Scrutiny Went Beyond the Political", NY Times reporter Jonathan Weisman recaps the recent history of IRS review of applications for nonprofit status, and finds that the issue was "less about ideology," and more about the difficulty of applying one set of standards across applications from organizations whose purposes range from deveoping open-source software, to helping musicians obtain Internet access, to political advocacy.


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