Friday Talking Points -- Male Chauvinist Pig Withdraws Bid For Fed Seat

[ Posted Friday, May 3rd, 2019 – 17:54 UTC ]

Those are strong words to use in a subtitle, as well as so dated as to almost be anachronistic. But we feel this is the perfect phrase to sum up Stephen Moore's announcement that he's withdrawing from consideration for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Because apparently Moore has been in a coma since just before Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in a tennis match billed as the "Battle Of The Sexes."

Moore's attitudes on gender fit neatly in to this decades-ago era of rampant misogyny, nowhere more obvious than how he sees the sporting world. He has opined at length on women in sports, dismissing professional women tennis players as "inferior" to men -- who simply do not deserve to be paid anywhere near what they are (if they even should be paid at all). But the sport he gets most worked up about is basketball. Here is an extended rant from Moore from an article he wrote for the National Review back in 2002. It begins, naturally, with a healthy dose of testosterone:

Ah, March, the greatest month of the year. This is the season where I return to bachelorhood, lock myself into the TV room and tell my wife that I'll see her sometime in April. Oh, and by the way, keep those three crying kids out of my hair for the next three weeks.

Charming. Oh, and go fix me a sandwich while you're at it. But he really gets going on the subject of how even peripheral inclusion of women into the male bastion that is (or, according to Moore, should be) basketball is a sign of the impending apocalypse. Or something. Here are his first two manly suggestions for improving the situation:

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Second Trump Fed Pick Goes Down In Flames

[ Posted Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 – 17:10 UTC ]

For the second time in just a few weeks, Republicans in the Senate have denied President Trump's hand-picked choice a seat on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. First it was Herman "Nine Nine Nine" Cain, and now Stephen Moore has also announced his withdrawal from the nomination process. Both are political blows to the president, who seems to want a Fed loyal to him rather than to the American economy as a whole. For a number of Republican senators, however, these particular nominees were simply a bridge too far for them.

Interestingly, though, none of these senators really seem to be putting principle before party, because what was at issue was not whether the Fed should stay as independent as possible from the political process, but rather the odiousness of the character of the two men Trump wanted to nominate. Moore lost support when it was revealed that he had made racist jokes about President Obama and held some rather antediluvian attitudes towards women. In fact, his outlook on women is so mired in the past that the only real proper label for his worldview is a very old one indeed, because he is nothing short of a classic male chauvinist pig.

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Democrats Should Draft Some Presidential Ethics Bills

[ Posted Wednesday, May 1st, 2019 – 17:16 UTC ]

Congressional Democrats, especially those in the House (where they enjoy a majority, and can thus get things done), should counter a recent Trumpian dodge by taking up his challenge and drafting some very specific bills dealing with presidential and campaign ethics. Not only will this head the false GOP talking point off at the pass, it will also add to the developing Democratic platform for the 2020 elections (both presidential and congressional). A win-win situation, in other words.

House Democrats are currently exploring multiple avenues in investigating President Donald Trump's possible wrongdoing. Much of this is centered around the president's finances, both personal and business. Trump is pushing back hard against these investigations, in an attempt to both stonewall and delay these Democratic efforts. Both Trump and his toadies have latched onto a new explanation of why such pushback is both proper and necessary. Congressional oversight, they argue, is only proper and justified if there is underlying legislation designed to solve some sort of problem. In other words, if the congressional committee has no intention of actually writing some sort of bill, then they simply should not be allowed to investigate anything about the president, especially his finances.

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Program Note

[ Posted Tuesday, April 30th, 2019 – 16:52 UTC ]

The saga of the transmission continues, which once again ate up my whole day. I will try to get to answering some comments later (something I've been lax at this past week), but my apologies once again as there will be no new column today.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


Good Economic News Not Always The Best Political Indicator

[ Posted Monday, April 29th, 2019 – 18:09 UTC ]

When political wonks look at factors which influence presidential elections, one of the most obvious correlations is with how the economy's doing. Economic indicators are a good indication of the mood of the voters, or at least they have been in the past. Of course, as with any attempt to identify causality in the nebulous field of politics, this isn't a hard-and-fast rule or anything, but tracking the economy is a better indicator than most as to whether the voters are in the mood for a change at the top or not.

A more important measure is harder to take, because it's not so much how the large economic indicators (such as unemployment and gross domestic product) are performing that matters to voters as it is their own personal perception of how the economy's doing that matters most. A low national unemployment rate may be a good thing, but if you happen to be unemployed and living in an area with not many jobs (or not many good jobs), then you may not have as rosy an outlook as the numbers might at first suggest. This leads to a large political risk for any candidate, most importantly an incumbent. If you base your campaign on how wonderful the economy is doing, then you run the risk of people deciding you are simply out of touch with their own lives and situations.

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Biden Enters The Race As The Clear Frontrunner

[ Posted Friday, April 26th, 2019 – 17:14 UTC ]

[Program Note: Due to dealing with ongoing automotive problems, I was not able to do a full Friday Talking Points column today, so my apologies for the lack. Instead, I did have time to write the following extensive overview of what Joe Biden's entry has already meant for the Democratic presidential nomination race. It's not a full wrapup of the week, I realize, but it'll have to do for today. By next Friday, hopefully we'll be back up and running (both figuratively and literally, for the car) for our usual Friday Talking Points column.]

Former Vice President Joe Biden entered the 2020 Democratic presidential field as the clear frontrunner, which is a new experience for him. In his previous two runs for president, he never got to where he is now: comfortably leading the entire pack. Biden is polling ahead of the previous frontrunner Bernie Sanders by anywhere from a few points to a healthy margin of 10 or more, and both men are far out in front of all the other contenders, who are all struggling to even manage to break into double digits in the polls.

Add to that today's breaking news, that Biden outraised everyone else in his first 24 hours, and Biden has -- for now, at least -- cemented his frontrunner status. Biden raised an impressive $6.3 million in his first day, topping the other two highest candidates in this metric as well (Beto O'Rourke raised $6.1 million and Bernie Sanders raised $5.9 million on their first day on the campaign trail).

But even though he's never had the experience of leading the pack before, Biden is already acting like a frontrunner. His introductory video was a marked departure from the other candidates running, because Biden did not focus on any one political issue or lay out his plans for America's future or make the case why he's the best Democrat to win the nomination. Instead, Biden focused almost exclusively on what the entire election is about for many (if not most) Democratic voters: beating Donald Trump. Biden made the case that for America to remain true to its ideals, President Trump must not have a second term in office.

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Program Note

[ Posted Thursday, April 25th, 2019 – 17:55 UTC ]

My apologies, but there will be no new column today. I am dealing with automotive (transmission) problems, and had to spend all day running around, leaving no time to write. Hopefully, I'll still be able to get a column out tomorrow for the weekly Friday Talking Points roundup. For now, my apologies again for the lack of column today.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


Should Prisoners Be Allowed To Vote?

[ Posted Wednesday, April 24th, 2019 – 16:51 UTC ]

Monday night, Bernie Sanders appeared on a CNN town hall, and was asked a rather unusual question. An audience member asked whether Bernie supported enfranchising prisoners such as the Boston Marathon bomber or people convicted of sexual assault. Bernie's answer was surprising to many, because he spoke not only in favor of incarcerated prisoners voting, but cut to the heart of the matter: to Bernie, it's a question of basic rights.

Here was Bernie's answer to the question:

I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away and you say, "That guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote. Well, that person did that, not going to let that person vote," you're running down a slippery slope. So, I believe that people who commit crimes, they pay the price. When they get out of jail, I believe they certainly should have the right the vote, but I do believe that even if they are in jail, they're paying their price to society, but that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy.

Bernie's answer made a splash in the news, but most of the stories failed to mention that his home state of Vermont already allows prisoners to vote. It is one of two states which do so (Maine is the other). So while Bernie's answer may sound radical to many, it's not actually all that radical a position for a senator from Vermont to take.

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Trump Begins To Push Back

[ Posted Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019 – 17:04 UTC ]

The use of the word "begins" in that headline might be a bit puzzling, since President Donald Trump has pushed back on any number of things during the course of his presidency, most often on Twitter. But today we're not talking about exchanging schoolyard insults with his political opponents, but actual legal pushback from the executive department. Which is somewhat new, and can be expected to grow over the coming months.

While Trump did attempt not just to push back against the investigation Robert Mueller conducted but to actually kill the whole investigation altogether, there wasn't much in the way of legal pushback in the form of refusing to turn over possible evidence or refusing to make people available for interviews. There were no claims of executive privilege, which is pretty unusual for a presidential investigation of this scope. Trump did successfully avoid an in-person interview under oath with Mueller's team by pushing back against the idea, but that was really about it in terms of defying requests from Mueller.

In January, however, Democrats took back control of the House of Representatives, which means they also took control of all the oversight committees. Multiple investigations into Trump and his minions soon ensued, as was to be expected. This is what Trump is now pushing back against, in a big way. He probably feels he's got the political wind at his back after the Mueller Report didn't end with indictments, and he has unleashed his legal team to do everything possible to obstruct the will of Congress as it pertains to all the investigations. At best (for him), Trump will be able to ignore the investigations completely, and even at the worst he'll be able to slow them down to a glacial pace by contesting everything in court.

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Democratic Field Still Growing

[ Posted Monday, April 22nd, 2019 – 17:30 UTC ]

Another day goes by, another Democrat jumps in the presidential race. You'll forgive me if that sounds somewhat cynical (or even a bit loopy), but that's what the first few months of 2019 have seemed like, at times. But hopefully we're getting to the end of this opening phase in the 2020 presidential race, and hopefully within the next few weeks or so we'll have a full Democratic field and nobody else will jump into the race. That's our fervent hope, at any rate. It's hard enough keeping up with the names of everyone running already!


Campaign News

Another sitting House member has decided that he should be the one to take on Donald Trump. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts officially threw his hat in the ring today. So far, this makes five current House members running (the others are John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Tim Ryan, and Eric Swalwell). Now, winning the presidency from a Senate seat is a lot rarer than people think, but winning the presidency from a House seat is almost unprecedented, so all of these campaigns should be seen as the longest of longshots.

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