Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

Digging a Bit Deeper on This

You may have noticed that over the weekend I flagged this odd, possibly disturbing news that one of the top Oregon militants, spokesman LaVoy Finicum, is mad that Arizona child protective services has removed four foster children (all adolescent boys) from his custody back at his ranch in Arizona. The removal is apparently tied to the stand-off because the timing coincides. But there's no direct evidence of that and no comments from the state authorities. Two things jumped out at me: first, you're not supposed to live off your foster kids, certainly not as your sole source of income, as Finicum himself suggests they are. Second, something I didn't mention in my initial post: is Finicum using these boys - seemingly between four and as many as eight or more at a time - for free labor on the ranch? There is no evidence that this is happening and Finicum has a large family of his own which presumably does a lot of work on his ranch.

Read More →

Tough Moment at the Stand off

Early on Sunday, a man believed to be one of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge militants, was driving on Greenhouse Lane near Hines, Oregon when he "failed to navigate a 25 mph curve in his white 2003 Ford van. He traveled off the road and crashed through a barbed-wire fence, ending up about 150 feet off the roadway."

Happily, Darrow Burke, 57 of Ukiah, California, was uninjured. The van didn't seem to come out of it as well as the picture above attests. Hines is the town immediately adjacent to Burns, the town just outside the wildlife refuge.

Burke was cited for driving without a license. But you don't get arrested for that, just cited, so he was allowed to hitch a ride back into Hines with the tow truck driver and apparently back to the stand off.

Some First Thoughts on the Democratic Debate

My first response to this debate is just how wildly different the Democratic debates are from the Republican debates. Some small part of that is tied to just how many Republican candidates there are. Some of it turns on the especially incendiary personalities of some of those candidates. But most of it turns on relative primacy of factual discussion in the Democratic debates and the lack of the bellicose often verging on apocalyptic rhetoric that has become the baseline of the Republican conversation.

Put simply, the Republican debates are great in publishing terms. I'll grant that they are high drama. They're toxic in civic terms.

Read More →

Dem Deb Blogging #5

10:42 PM: If Gov O'Malley is converting to Islam that's huge.

10:43 PM: Hillary really would have been well served by more debates.

10:44 PM: "That questions annoys me." (As well it should.)

Dem Deb Blogging #4

10:25 PM: Interesting response from Clinton here about the "red line" and chemical weapons. This would be an obvious place for her to distance herself from Obama and from all accounts she was more hawkish on Syria than Obama. And yet she's making a very subtle and I think right-thinking point. We hear a lot about the red line. And I think there's real merit to the criticism. But there's this other side too: you don't just start killing people just because of something you said in the past. And we did get an agreement that with the Russians got chemical weapons out of the hands of the Syrian regime. I was surprised and impressed by that answer.

10:28 PM: I could come up with some arch way of saying this. But I just have this strong and I think accurate sense that whenever Gov O'Malley jumps in it's generally some opportunistic comment that is not only basically off point but also something he probably wouldn't be saying or care about if it didn't seem to make sense in the context of the political debate.

10:32 PM: Hillary Clinton's answer on Putin is one of those answers - smart, comprehensive, knowledgable - that make me think she'd be a really good president.

Intermission Blogging

10:13 PM: I'm listening to Chuck Todd saying this debate hasn't fallen short of the billing as a big, big fight. Well, not really. Yes, there's some. But man, there's simply no comparison to the GOP debates, fundamentally reality-based, science based. Yes, some sharp back and forths. But as things go, all basically civil.

10:15 PM: While we're waiting for things to get back underway. Here's a story about one of those Oregon militants. He's angry that child protective services back in Arizona has removed foster children from his home because he's off in another state breaking federal laws.

Dem Deb Blogging #3

9:54 PM: I have to say, it's such an odd thing to watch Clinton and Sanders fight. Because when I watch them fight, I like them both better.

9:58 PM: "Haven't gotten a penny this year." Dude, why are you up there?

9:59 PM: Clinton campaign just sent out an email backing up her claims re: Sanders on Obama. Semi-backs her up. But not that strong. Here's what they point to re: a 2012 primary challenger.

Sanders called for a primary challenger to President Obama in 2012, saying it would do the country “a great deal of service” to push a “progressive agenda as opposed to what Obama is doing.”

Aside from that, pretty thin.

10:02 PM: Not a well-researched question by Andrea Mitchell. Sanders has been pretty clear on his tax policies.

10:03 PM: Am I a bad person for really wishing Gov O'Malley weren't in these debate anymore?

10:05 PM: I will say that this debate is a good example of how moderator questions contain a mix of implicit ignorance and conservative bias when it comes to tax policy. It's a very crisp question to say, well Bernie Sanders you've described all these awesome new programs but you've been less clear on how you'd pay for it!!! But as Sanders noted, that's just not true. He's been quite clear on a series of taxes he'd raise. The question is just false and makes sense only in the context of throwing a cliche at the candidate. It's also willfully obtuse not to understand that taxes raised to pay for a single payer health care plan aren't in a very meaningful sense offset and more than offset by no longer paying health care insurance premiums. I mean good lord, a simple point. I just pulled out one of my payroll spreadsheets. TPM spends substantially more in health care insurance premiums than it does it employment taxes. This isn't directly comparable to individuals and their income taxes. But again, the basic point is really clear.

Dem Deb Blogging #2

9:32 PM: I think that's about as good a job as Clinton could do with this question. But it's a bit of a dodge to say that Democrats have working since Truman to get the Affordable Care Act. And Sanders answer is pretty solid.

9:34 PM: "Contention debate" ... "tearing this up" vs "going forward". I think Clinton's best argument - in political terms - is to speak to the risk aversion of people who have things they like. For starters, Medicare. People who have Medicare like it a lot. They don't want to lose it or see it changed. There's a good argument that want Sanders wants doesn't change Medicare at all. It just gives a version of it to everyone. But again, if you have Medicare, do you want to see it rolled into a whole new program? If you have private care do you like, do you want it rolled into a public program? I'm not saying these are good arguments on the policy merits. But these are politically powerful arguments. And I'm curious that she isn't making them.

9:39 PM: Hillary's close on the health care reform question was very strong.

9:42 PM: "I do" ... on calling himself a democratic socialist ... Bern.

9:42 PM: Watching this I think back to the point I made in the post below. It's a great irony that the DNC hammered down the number of debates at least partly on Hillary's behalf. She needed more of them, rather than fewer of them.