Somehow, Salon saw Cruz getting schooled!


This is what actually happened: In this morning’s column, Paul Krugman says our current situation is “crazy.” It’s hard to deny that it is.

Consider what’s happening as we look ahead to a shutdown, then perhaps to a debt limit debacle. As he closes his column, Krugman outlines the situation—a situation that’s even crazier than he explains in this passage:
KRUGMAN (9/30/13): So how does this end? The votes to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling are there, and always have been: every Democrat in the House would vote for the necessary measures, and so would enough Republicans. The problem is that G.O.P. leaders, fearing the wrath of the radicals, haven’t been willing to allow such votes. What would change their minds?

Ironically, considering who got us into our economic mess, the most plausible answer is that Wall Street will come to the rescue—that the big money will tell Republican leaders that they have to put an end to the nonsense.

But what if even the plutocrats lack the power to rein in the radicals? In that case, Mr. Obama will either let default happen or find some way of defying the blackmailers, trading a financial crisis for a constitutional crisis.

This all sounds crazy, because it is. But the craziness, ultimately, resides not in the situation but in the minds of our politicians and the people who vote for them. Default is not in our stars, but in ourselves.
As described, the situation is crazy. The votes are there in the House—but the Republican majority won’t allow a vote!

In truth, the situation is even crazier than that. There is a substantial Republican majority in the House—but those Republican members received fewer votes than Democrats did in the 2012 congressional elections.

The world’s leading authority on this matter breaks it down like this:
WIKIPEDIA: House Democrats won a plurality nation-wide by over 1.4 million more votes (1.4%), but the Republicans were able to retain a...majority due in part to their advantage in the congressional redistricting process following the 2010 United States Census, and because many Democratic votes were concentrated into urban and minority districts. Both parties had opportunities to redraw congressional districts in their favor, but since the Republican Party won an overwhelming amount of state legislature seats around the country in the 2010 midterm elections, it provided them with an overall advantage.
The GOP has a 234-201 advantage in the House, despite the fact that its candidates received fewer votes than the Dems.

Keeping that fact in mind, how crazy is our current situation? In the House, the party which received fewer votes enjoys a substantial majority. According to Krugman, there are enough votes in the House to fund the government anyway, but that majority party—the one which got fewer votes—won’t allow a vote!

Whatever! The craziness of the current time has been decades in the making. The rise of crackpot “conservative” media has largely fueled The Current Crazy. But have we liberals contributed to The Big Crazy too?

We would say that we have, and that we continue to do so, in several major ways. For today, let’s consider the growing haplessness of Salon.

In the 1990s, Salon was a very smart on-line magazine. In recent years, it has been substantially dumbed down. (It has also had its focus changed, though that’s a different matter.)

We were reminded of this downgrade when we read Salon’s reaction to Ted Cruz’s appearance on yesterday’s Meet the Press. We hadn’t watched the program yet, and so we thrilled to Salon’s claims about what had happened there.

“Ted Cruz schooled on Meet the Press,” Salon’s top headline declared. We also thrilled to this sub-headline: “Host David Gregory didn't hold back, pressing the rogue GOPer on his efforts to defund Obamacare.”

Later, we watched Meet the Press. And we’re sorry, but Ted Cruz didn’t get schooled. And David Gregory did hold a great deal back.

Salon’s cluelessness notwithstanding, Gregory did a terrible job in this lengthy interview. Most pointlessly, he argued the merits of Obamacare with Cruz, rather than the absurdity of Cruz’s procedural tack.

What’s wrong with the GOP approach to the impending shutdown? In tedious eighth grade civics textbooks, you’ll find it in the chapter called, “How a bill becomes law.”

How does a bill become a law? First, it has to pass both houses of Congress. After that, the president has to sign it!

The GOP could take that approach to the repeal of Obamacare. Unfortunately, they lost the Senate and the White House in the last election—again.

Unable to pass the bills they prefer due to their electoral defeats, they have to proceed in the current manner—threatening major disasters to get their objectives met.

As every eighth grader knows, that isn’t the way a bill becomes law. This current mess isn’t a question of the merits of Obamacare. It’s a question of the basic way the American system works.

Gregory skipped past this rather obvious framework. Instead, he got all tangled up in discussions about the merits of Obamacare.

There will never be any way to resolve such disputes. The basic question here is much simpler: If Cruz wants to repeal or defund the health care law, why doesn’t he do so in the normal American way? In the way that gets explained to eighth graders every year?

Gregory was terrible yesterday. Somehow, though, Salon thought it saw Cruz getting schooled by a street-fighting NBC warrior. This cluelessness is part of the liberal world’s contribution to our craziness problem.

For the record, who wrote that piece at Salon? Natasha Lennard, who is described this way in her official ID line:

“Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing.”

Rabble-rousing! That’s good solid fun! It’s fun when we all clown around!

At Salon, the children are playing around, having their endless oodles of fun. Back out in the world where alleged adults reign, we’re all losing altitude fast.

Tomorrow: Reactions to Kristof's remarks


  1. " This current mess isn’t a question of the merits of Obamacare. It’s a question of the basic way the American system works."

    Your cue, DavidinCA...

    1. "as every eighth grader knows, that [defunding ACA] isn't the way a bill becomes a law....Gregory skipped past this rather obvious framework."

      Although Gregory is an asshat, it appears that he didn't. From the transcript:

      GREGORY: You make this argument as if there's no broader context here. Obamacare has been legislated. It has been adjudicated. And it has been tested to the political system. And so let's go through that. We had an election where I heard the standard bearer for the Republican Party, Mitt Romney, say Obamacare should be repealed. All the Republicans already voted against this thing when it was ultimately passed. The Supreme Court upheld it.

  2. What of the argument that threatening to shut down the government, while rare, is a valid tactic? Apparently the government has been shut down 17 times since 1977?

    1. If I understand TDH, the question he asks is not "why does the press deny that shutting down the government is a valid tactic" -- a pointless point to make, since the press *isn't* spinning that the GOP is using a invalid tactic.

      Instead, I think, TDH is asking "why does the press ignore the routine way that law is made in this country?"

    2. TDH is asking why Gregory wasted time discussing the merits of Obamacare instead of using his time to point out to Cruz that Republicans do not have the votes to repeal Obamacare or enact changes to it via legitimate processes and thus are threatening to shut down the govt because they are powerless to impose minority will on the majority any other way. TDH is saying that the press is not framing this issue properly and thus permits the right to have a disproportionate influence on public understanding through its ineptness. Why on earth should anyone be debating the merits of Obamacare when it is already law and that is not going to change? Only Cruz benefits from that discussion because it seems to legitimize his tactics, which ARE illegitimate because they place the country in jeopardy without any likelihood of success in their aims.

    3. ...valid tactic...

      And the goal is so noble. Preventing Americans from becoming "addicted" to health insurance.

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  4. Krugman called those opposed to raising the debt limit "radicals". I hate to see someone so smart and knowledgeable descend to name-calling.

    BTW, here's what then Senator Obama said about raising the debt limit when Bush was President in 2006, and when the debt limit was half of what it is now:

    The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government's reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that "the buck stops here." Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

    1. "Radical" isn't an insult. It's a description of how far out of the norm are the people who think it's reasonable to damage the credit-worthiness of the country to enact legislation they don't have the votes to pass.

      Whatever Obama said about the debt limit, no Congress at the time he spoke or before threatened not to raise the limit. The few votes against raising the limit were strictly grandstanding and never put passage in doubt.

    2. deadrat, we'll just have to agree to disagree on whether the word "radical" is an insult. One dictionary definition is "extremist":
      a person who holds or follows strong convictions or extreme principles; extremist

      I think you would agree that it's not a good thing for a politician to be labeled an "extremist".


    3. The question isn't whether the name is a good label or a bad one. The question is whether it's accurate. In US politics, intentional damage to the country's economy over policy differences is extreme.

    4. deadrat, you're begging the question. Tea Partiers believe that our enormous, unbounded deficit spending is damaging to the country's economy. They think substantial spending cuts would be good for the economy. The also think that Health Reform is bad for the economy.

    5. DAinCA,

      And that's fine. Within the bounds of normalcy is passing laws that effect their agenda. Destroying the country's credit because they don't have the votes is out of bounds.

    6. House Republicans do have the votes to not pass an increase in the debt limit.

    7. In the sense of having enough votes to prevent a vote. A straight up vote on a simple debt limit increase would likely pass. But this is irrelevant.

      House Republicans do not have the votes to effect their agenda. Not paying the nation's debt is not part of their agenda. Most of the teahadists would agree that the US owes the debt. I say "most" because likely there are clueless teahadists who don't understand what the debt ceiling is. The refusal not to pay legitimate debt already incurred is made simply as a threat to achieve ends not possible through passing bills. This is a radical approach to running the national legislature.

      Are you having trouble following this? I can't tell

  5. The fact that "radical" is a slight to David in Ca is not so much an insult to the Tea Partiers as a probable pang of conscience in the vestiges of rationality Davaroo abandoned long, long ago. For many, many years Republicans tarred many a common sense approach to problems as "radical"- conserving energy, recycling, what have you.All the crazy, off limits plans of pinko world war II heroes like George McGovern. The "Obamacare" fight, wherein one side branded a Government program with an insult that somehow became it's successful calling card, feels a bit like an endgame to a radical shift dirty old bastards like David in Ca can't quite grapple with. See Bill Maher's rather good rant The State Of California for more, but as Pastor Somerby's points out, it's all based on a manipulation, a tyranny of a minority that is dying off. Pastor Somerby does not like us to be too hard on the poor Koch Brothers lambs, forgetting that much of this is the result of the mean old liberals letting the right get away with the Impeachment Circus and Florida. He'd rather rail at the congregation. Yet one of our major parties has let the Government be shut down by a base that hates the Government and, lest we forget, are quite happy to tell you this is the case. And that is a radical situation indeed.

  6. The point is pretty simple: Obama unilaterally changed the law thats the law of the land to give waivers and he changed the law thats the law of the land last year to create his own DREAM Act. He doesn't have any logic to stand on insisting he can't negotiate with the Republicans to make a change in the law.

    As to the Democrats having won more of the Congressional popular vote but the Republicans controlling Congress, it seems like a churlish complaint. The system is a package deal including the state legislatures that draw the districts. Bob is Vietnam generation. Obviously he wasn't drafted and sent into combat and grievously wounded or killed but others were. Neither was I and we should be humbled by the unfairness of it, always.