Lightning Round: The First Step Is Respecting Your Audience's Intelligence.

  • Last week, Conor Friedersdorf observed of the conservative noise machine, "It is hard to think of anyone who disrespects and takes advantage of conservatives more than they do." Now, I'm not a conservative, but I happen to think this is a very big problem. When Rush Limbaugh dismisses as crazy the idea that Ronald Reagan raised taxes, this isn't just deception or propaganda. Limbaugh's listeners trust him. They believe him. And how does he reward this loyalty? By treating them like fools. I don't know how to solve this problem, and a mea culpa ("Sorry we had to exploit you for your money and your votes for the past couple of decades") is probably off the table.
  • It's not news, but it is a helpful reminder to understand that the majority of U.S. debt is held domestically, and for all the fear of China owning us, their share of the total is only 9.8 percent -- only 0.2 percent more than Japan! Of course, we already did the Japan-owns-us thing back in the 1980s, and China has an army, so I can understand the power of appealing to jingoism and fear of foreign invasion. But I can't help but think, perhaps naively, that some candor from political elites on the actual nature of the U.S.-China trade relationship would go a long way to bringing our political discourse back to reality.
  • While part of conservative opposition to health care is indeed a response to the increasing role of the federal government's obligations, a big part is the old William Kristol "we must defeat Hillarycare" memo from the early 1990s whereby Republican strategists understood, correctly I believe, that successful health-care reform would mean increased political allegiance to Democrats. Since the ACA is a much more modest plan with more moving parts, the "repeal" movement is probably equal parts Tea Party red meat and an effort to make the ACA as unpopular as possible, lest political benefits accrue to Democrats.
  • Remainders: Rand Paul would like to extend 14th Amendment protection to the unborn, not so much women; House Republicans continue their outreach to women voters through forced-pregnancy-or-death legislation; former President Bush is right about nativism, fails to note it is primarily a right-wing, not American, problem; the DLC is finally shutting down -- good riddance; and why does anyone care what Charles Krauthammer thinks?