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Mickey Kaus

Obama’s Corporatist Constitution

President Barack Obama signs into law S. 517, Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Aug. 1, 2014. (REUTERS/Larry Downing)

We got business, we got labor, we got evangelicals. You expect me to get Congress too? Like many others, I've been on the lookout for examples of corporatism -- the tendency to replace the formal individuated equality of the market, universal rights and democracy with rule by society's various big interest groups, exercising special privileges by virtue of their particular social role and cutting deals with each other (usually to protect themselves).**  Some examples of corporatism:  Special privileges for reporters (they're "society's eyes and ears"!) or big banks (they're "too big to fail"). Corporatism's acutely fascinating because it's insidious, anti-democratic, sclerotic and perhaps inevitable. (If a bank is too big to let fail, as arguably several are, then that bank will almost by definition be specially shielded from the Darwinian struggle the market. Those special privileges may come with special responsibilities, but that makes them more corporatist, not less.)

“No” on Boehner SuperTrap Bill

11:02 AM 07/31/2014

As predicted, the House leadership has sprung its "supertrap" on conservative dissenters, luring them to vote for a flawed border bill with the promise of a second vote on a law purporting to prevent President Obama from expanding his de facto "deferred action" (DACA) amnesty of young illegal immigrants (the so-called "DREAMers").  The main bill is itself still deeply flawed:

Boehner’s Bad Coach

11:30 PM 07/27/2014

Remind me to never hire Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona to coach a football team. Congressman Salmon, a member of Speaker Boehner's "Border Crisis Working Group," recently took to Breitbart.com to urge Republicans to approve the group's recommendations, which include an amendment to the 2008 Wilberforce law (which the Obama administration has interpreted to guarantee semi-judicial hearings to virtually all of the Central Americans who show up at the border):

Has Obama Trapped Himself?

3:05 AM 07/23/2014

The 'Down Payment' Ploy, Coming Right Up: Immigration "comprehensivists" claim Obama's promised executive actions to protect illegal immigrants constitute a kind of doomsday weapon directed at the Republican party. If Obama acts boldly to offer de facto legalization to, say, "up to half of the undocumented population" of 11 million illegals living here, it will cement an unshakeable bond between Latino voters and their political champion -- or so the argument goes. The more Republicans complain and stamp their feet the more they'll "lastingly" alienate this growing ethnic bloc, predicts Ron Brownstein. **

Alert: The Wilberforce Trap

5:45 PM 07/16/2014

Just when anti-amnesty forces thought they'd won ...  It looks as if "comprehensive immigration reform" is dead for 2014. Everybody's saying it! Republican voters in Virginia and Alabama have spoken forcefully on the subject. Eric Cantor is now a promising young lobbyist. Meanwhile the chaos on the Texas-Mexico border demonstrates vividly that if you promise an amnesty, lots of people living abroad in unpleasant circumstances will heed the signal and come here whether or not they technically qualify under all the fine print of a law.

Lie at Heart of “Immigration Reform” Exposed

5:15 PM 07/14/2014

"Trust" is for Con Men: The reaction to the border chaos in Texas has accomplished one thing: It has exploded the lie at the heart of current "comprehensive" immigration reform plans.  The basic structure of those plans is a swap of a) near-immediate legalization for b) increased border security in the future. The appealing idea is to let current illegals stay while taking the steps necessary to prevent further waves. The lie is the assumption that, once current illegals get their legalization, pro-immigrant activists in both parties will continue to support the second half of the bargain, the increased security.

Poor Malia

2:42 AM 07/09/2014

Car and Pollster: I don't even want to think about the intricate political calculations involved in picking out Malia Obama's new car. The poor girl's going to get stuck with a Cruze... Update: A Volt, you say? She'd be lucky to get a Volt. People who have them like them. But it seems a little upscale, and would remind voters of Obama and GM then-CEO Dan Akerson's insane projections for electric vehicle sales. ...

The President is “Pissed”!

4:01 AM 07/07/2014

Triangulation Beats Coalition Maintenance, Part XVIII: Major Garrett produces an excellent account** of Obama's meeting with immigration activists last Monday, before the president announced he'd take "aggressive" executive actions to "fix as much of our immigration system as we can" without going through Congress. Highlights:

I Was Wrong

9:43 PM 06/29/2014

Obama's amnesty strategy isn't a partial shambles: A few months ago, I punditized that (contrary to reports in the press and threats by his allies) President Obama would not take executive actions that amounted to any kind of sweeping de facto amnesty,** at least not before the November election -- even if Congress refused to give him the "comprehensive" immigration legislation he wants. I figured Obama would simply keep his base happy with an incremental cutback in deportations, along the lines suggested by former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Sandweg. Meanwhile he'd hold out hope for a bill.

Notes on Cantormageddon

2:33 AM 06/11/2014

You knew Majority Leader Eric Cantor was vulnerable--the press had already reported a non-trivial Anybody But Cantor vote in his district. But I would have settled for his challenger, Dave Brat, getting more than 40%. I was all ready to (legitimately) spin that as a warning shot across Cantor's bow. Instead, Brat went and actually beat Cantor--decisively, by 10 points, 55% to 45%. He and his campaign manager Zachary Werrell obviously ran a very effective race with minimal resources--against Cantor's millions. Independent anti-Cantor actors like the We Deserve Better group -- and various local conspiracies we don't even know about -- probably played a role as well.**

The Benefits of Beating Cantor …

2:00 AM 06/10/2014

Bottom-Up Bipartisanship? Yesterday Dave Brat, the conservative economics professor who is challenging Majority Leader Eric Cantor in today's primary, sent out what I assume will be his final pitch to voters. Here's a sample:

Cantor’s Mistake

5:55 AM 06/05/2014

"Muchas Gracias, Senor Cantor!" ** Famous ambitious positioner Eric Cantor probably thought he'd hit a Solomonic sweet spot last year when he dramatically announced his support of immigration amnesty for "the kids ...  those who were brought to this country as children." The MSM would predictably love it -- compassion from a Republican leader! Yet conservatives might not hate him -- after all, he wasn't endorsing a general amnesty of all 11 million undocumented immigrants.*** And who doesn't like "kids"?

Matt Miller Must Be Polling Well …

7:26 AM 06/03/2014

My friend Matt Miller, who's running for Henry Waxman's congressional seat, must be doing well in internal campaign polls because attacks on him are suddenly coming out of the woodwork. There's a last minute hit piece by Lee Fang in leftish Republic Report riddled with embarrassing errors which have now been corrected, but in a way that prevents readers from seeing how bad they were.

Smoking Gun on Cantor and Amnesty

6:15 AM 06/02/2014

There's a lot of discussion (in my admittedly distorted Twitter feed) about whether embattled House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is duplicitously campaigning as an anti-amnesty fighter, given his heavily publicized initiative to confer citizenship on illegal immigrants who entered the country as children -- a proposal he defends with impressive pomposity ("One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents"). Cantor has continued to push his "DREAM"-like kids plan during his reelection campaign -- e.g. on Cavuto last week -- even as his website has been scrubbed of all mention of it..