Texas: laboratory of undemocratic ideas

Texas' new abortion law along with laws concerning public education and proposed legislation restricting voting access are part of a slew of measures that will greatly impact the lives of people of color. Civil rights advocates and some lawmakers say people of color are powering the population growth in the state and the measures enacted by Republican lawmakers will have dire consequences.

The mess that is the Republican party

Jonathan Bernstein in Bloomberg: “Republicans have lost a made-to-order opportunity supplied by the Jan. 6 attack. Mainstream Republicans could have looked good by consistently condemning the attack, thereby distancing themselves from organized hate groups involved in the event. Instead, they’re stuck defending the indefensible and making it a major part of Republican messaging, while allowing their leading voices to be … well, let’s call them the high-profile Republicans least likely to appeal to swing voters. …

“The Republican agenda right now is a combination of three things: Opposition to whatever President Joe Biden and the Democrats propose; support for whatever Fox News Channel’s product of the month happens to be; support for whatever incoherent and self-serving whims come out of Trump’s mouth.

“This is barely a formula for making the strongest supporters happy. It’s certainly no way to build a policy agenda. What has been a problem for the party for several years, especially at the national level, is only getting worse. …

“If I had to guess, I’d stick with my first instinct — that Republican Party dysfunction matters a lot to its future ability to govern competently, but won’t have any serious effect on the 2022 elections. But I can’t say I’m as confident about that as I was six months ago.”

Ignorance becomes the GOP

Paul Krugman in the NYT: “The current obsession with critical race theory is a cynical attempt to change the subject away from the Biden administration’s highly popular policy initiatives, while pandering to the white rage that Republicans deny exists. But it’s only one of multiple subjects on which willful ignorance has become a litmus test for anyone hoping to succeed in Republican politics.

“Thus, to be a Republican in good standing one must deny the reality of man-made climate change, or at least oppose any meaningful action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. One must reject or at least express skepticism about the theory of evolution. And don’t even get me started on things like the efficacy of tax cuts. …

“Accepting evidence and logic is a sort of universal value, and you can’t take it away in one area of inquiry without degrading it across the board. That is, you can’t declare that honesty about America’s racial history is unacceptable and expect to maintain intellectual standards everywhere else. In the modern right-wing universe of ideas, everything is political; there are no safe subjects.

“This politicization of everything inevitably creates huge tension between conservatives and institutions that try to respect reality.”

Who cares what it is? Liberals support it.

Therefore it must be pernicious. No need to define it or know what it is.

“Critical race theory is an academic framework that explores how racism is embedded in U.S. policies and systems.

“Recently, though, conservative pundits and politicians have attempted to conflate it with a slew of other concepts, such as diversity and inclusion efforts, anti-racism training, social justice activism or multicultural curricula.”

Advocates say the new Texas law, which goes into effect on Sept. 1, will have a chilling effect on schools.

Republicans taking over state elections

NYT: “Republicans have introduced at least 216 bills in 41 states to give legislatures more power over elections officials, according to the States United Democracy Center, a new bipartisan organization that aims to protect democratic norms. Of those, 24 have been enacted into law across 14 states. …

“The maneuvers risk eroding some of the core checks that stood as a bulwark against former President Donald J. Trump as he sought to subvert the 2020 election results. Had these bills been in place during the aftermath of the election, Democrats say, they would have significantly added to the turmoil Mr. Trump and his allies wrought by trying to overturn the outcome. They worry that proponents of Mr. Trump’s conspiracy theories will soon have much greater control over the levers of the American elections system.”

Is the confusion a feature or a bug?

That probably depends on where you stand. All I know is that you should only read those sections of the Internal Revenue Code that deal with international taxes if you have no regard for your own sanity. The wounds on my brain from taking International Tax at law school over thirty years ago have not healed.

Most members of Congress don?t understand the first thing about the international corporate tax system and won?t have the bandwidth to figure it out.

The trouble with Fox News (from John Boehner)

“The reality that Boehner exposes is that following the 2008 election of Obama, something fundamentally changed at Fox News. It was no longer about pushing conservative policy solutions and young stars of the movement. Instead, the network became a fever swamp for internet trolls pushing every sort of conspiracy theory — from Benghazi to Obama’s citizenship.

“To Boehner’s critical point about how Fox skewed incentives within the GOP: No longer was the goal for most members of Congress (or those aspiring Republicans hoping to join their ranks) to accrue seniority and rise in the ranks of their preferred committee or even into House GOP leadership. Now the goal was to become a conservative pundit on Fox News — that was where the real power (and money if you decided to leave Congress) was.

“And the best way to get on Fox News as much as possible? Say the most outlandish and outrageous things possible. Fox viewers were ready to believe whatever the worst thing you could say about Obama or any of the Clintons. There was no bridge too far. And with ratings as the only goal, Ailes (with a major assist from Fox owner Rupert Murdoch) leaned in hard — vacating any sort of journalistic mission to tell people the truth about their government and politicians in favor of pandering to an audience that wanted to believe that any and every Democratic politician was evil.”

In an explosive excerpt from his forthcoming memoir, former House Speaker John Boehner calls Texas Sen. Ted Cruz a nasty name, refers to lots of Republicans elected in 2010 as "morons" and admits that President Barack Obama had little reason to find "common cause with people who think you are a secret Kenyan Muslim traitor to America."