It would be difficult to overestimate the meaning of Paul Ryan’s decision to retire from Congress even as he occupies the office of Speaker of the House. So let’s estimate.
Twice in the past three years, the sitting Speaker has walked away from the office. Ryan only became Speaker because John Boehner, his predecessor, quit rather than suffer through a challenge from the bomb throwers in the Republican House conference. There’s no precedent for this in American history. The Speakership has been one of the most powerful offices in the world. Now it’s apparently more agony than ecstasy for a Republican.
.. A Republican likely won’t be elected speaker after the 2018 midterms. Ryan’s decision suggests he and others have seen enough internal data to know their capacity to hold their 23-seat majority is slipping away.
.. That makes 42 GOP retirements among the 237 Republican members of the 115th Congress—a number vastly higher than any recent Congress’s.
.. the Ryan retirement isn’t just a sign. It’s like a fireball from the sky. And it will occasion more retreats and embolden more Democrats.
.. the GOP is Trump’s party now, not Ryan’s.
.. His mercurial nature and habit of punching down have combined with general GOP support for Trump personally to prevent any such rump from emerging in the Congress. He’s already claimed the scalps of two Republican senators—Bob Corker and Jeff Flake—who attempted to do just that. How did their standing athwart Trump help them or anyone?
.. some of the GOP’s wonkier agenda items are being implemented by the Trump administration–notably, in the sphere of deregulation. So, yes, it’s Trump’s party, but there’s an extent to which it’s also Ryan’s party, the conservative policy wonk’s party. Except, of course, for two big things.
The first big thing is entitlement reform, which is the issue nearest to Ryan’s heart.
.. No matter what happens, no matter the growth of the economy or the glories of #MAGA, the remorseless logic of the actuarial charts showing the government going bankrupt from the cost of Medicare and Medicaid sometime around 2030 is unyielding
.. The second big thing is the massive federal deficit, which is projected to stay above the $1 trillion mark for God knows how long. The bitter irony here is that the Tea Party–whose ab nihilo existence began the Republican resurgence in the House and Senate, and whose anti-Establishment ethos was the precursor to Trump–was obsessed with the idea that Barack Obama was breaking the bank, and rightly so. Now, the Tea Party forms the hard schist of the Republican base, and it’s clearly decided not to hold Trump accountable
Yes, sportswriting has moved far left. The entire media has moved far left. The media used to cater to New York, the hub for traditional liberal values. Journalists used to be obsessed with working at a New York magazine or newspaper or TV network. Now the entire industry is obsessed with going viral and how words will be received via social media. Who determines this? San Francisco/Silicon Valley, the hub for revolutionary, far-left extremism, the home base for Twitter and Facebook. Twitter and Facebook’s employee base is from the area. New York and San Francisco are distinctly different. San Francisco is driving the American media, not New York. You have young, microwaved millionaires and billionaires reshaping the American media in a way that reflects San Francisco values. This is a major story the mainstream media ignore. San Francisco hacked the media. Frisco-inspired clickbait is the real fake news.
.. Whitlock puts his finger on why today’s conservative complaint about a liberal media is different from that of ten years ago or twenty years ago. The old New York establishment Left, shaped heavily by Watergate — Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, Anthony Lewis, Woodward & Bernstein — could drive the right batty but it was all driven by a noblesse oblige: a self-awareness of the power of their positions and a duty to correct the world’s injustices through exposure.
.. The old journalism saying, “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” implied punching up; the more powerful you were, the more you needed scrutiny.
For Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, My Lai, all that the press needed to do was expose the wrongdoing and the public would instinctively recoil and dole out appropriate consequences.
Today’s social-media outrage-mob-driven click-bait journalism is much more about punching down, finding someone who has deviated from the range of acceptable thought and ostracizing them and enforcing the tenets of a shame culture.
It’s less about exposing the sins of the powerful than exposing the sins of the near-powerless, whether it’s those gorillas-in-the-mist reports from Red State America or gleeful exposé about the hypocrisies of religious conservatives.
The hypocrisy of a self-proclaimed environmentalist who enjoys a private jet with a massive carbon footprint never quite stirs the hearts of the media as much as a preacher’s affair.
.. No wonder their dominant attitude towards immigration, legal and illegal, is so welcoming, if they feel such contempt for the Americans who are already here.
.. most of those in journalism are driven by the impassioned belief that Republican lawmakers represent the preeminent threat to all that is good in America
.. our media today is driven primarily an ostentatious, smug progressivism
.. Of course, a good portion of what Silicon Valley develops runs on our now-ubiquitous smartphones, built by Chinese workers on 12-hour shifts that few Americans would ever tolerate for themselves. Silicon Valley’s super-elites may not be as different from those old, exploitative plutocrats as they like to think.
.. One can’t help but wonder if there is some repressed guilt coming out in the form of demonization of others:
“Silicon Valley has stopped being the place where people who can’t get jobs elsewhere go. Now it’s like the first stop on the privileged elite bus from the Ivy League—and do not even stop by Wall Street on the way,” Mr. Garcia Martinez said.
.. at least some of California’s wealthy progressives find solace in the thought that if flyover country is comparably poorer and struggling to get by, it must be because they’re morally worse people – “deplorable,”
There’s no doubt that President-elect Donald Trump’s attack on United Steelworkers Local 1999 President Chuck Jones is disturbing for several reasons. It shows his still-scarily thin skin: Hillary Clinton may have lost, but “a man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons” remains as true as ever. It shows he still loves to bully critics, no matter how powerless they are, and he will continue to do so in a hair-trigger fashion when he has the powers of the federal government at his disposal. And it shows he will double down when confronted with his own lies.
.. Unlike Trump, who forgot he promised to help the Carrier workers USW Local 1999 represents, Jones has actually worked to save the plant’s jobs. Unlike Trump, who has shipped thousands of jobs overseas, Jones has fought to keep jobs in the United States. In Jones, Trump attacked someone who represents working America more authentically than Donald Trump ever has or ever will.
.. Firing back on TV at Trump is all that it takes to get his attention and get days of free media coverage for ideas that actually help working Americans. He’ll hurt himself with the voters, but he won’t be able to stop himself.
From a practical political standpoint: Trump doesn’t appear to fully grasp how much he elevates his opponents by attacking them.His criticisms of “Hamilton” might have ginned up his base, but they also meant that way more people heard the statement that the cast read aloud to Mike Pence than would have otherwise. His attack on “Saturday Night Live”last weekend guaranteed that millions more people watched the skit mocking his use of Twitter than would have otherwise.
The truth is that relatively few people actually watch CNN. Very few caught Jones’s interview with Erin Burnett. But every news organization in the country today will cover the back-and-forth and ensure that more voters hear the message that Trump exaggerated how many jobs he saved at Carrier.