Category Archives: Democrats

The C.O. is Always Responsible

Imagine a military ship sailing in the early hours of darkness near a shore. The Captain is asleep all is quite when the vessel suddenly grounds on a sand bar and tug is dispatched at dawn to free the ship. Who pays the price for the foul up? Whose career is threatened? The Captain. It goes with the power of the position, the captain is responsible for everything that happens on his or her command, period.

So, who is responsible for the Democratic loss at the last presidential elections?

Hillary Clinton. It was her ship, her command, and her responsibility.

Yes, the Russian sowed chaos to assist Trump.

Yes, Republicans used their position in the House of Representative to publicly hound fairly minor scandals.

Yes, the news media chased every leak with the Pavlovian response of a kitten chasing a laser spot.

All this is true and all this was known at the time. It is the C.O. jobs to deal with, and to deal with it effectively. I would further argue that these factors are relatively minor factors considering that Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the popular contest by nearly three million votes but the election is not determined by the popular will but by the state by state arcana of the Electoral College.

The Democrats relied on a ‘blue wall’ through the rust belt to hold Trump away from the White House and that wall turned out to have been eaten away. The weakness in these states was no surprise. Upset by Sanders gave clear warnings that things were not standard this election cycle. Alarm bells and calls for urgent assistance from local politicians and campaign workers went unheeded. Why? Why was such a critical front left undefended?

When I read the book Game Change that recounted the 2008 election I was truck by how much the Clintons, both of them, valued loyalty over competence. It’s my opinion that justly or unjustly the Clintons live in perpetually psychological state of siege. They seem to act as though that they must expect any and all attacks from all quarters and as such their inner circle are chosen as people that the trust and trust if the quality that value the most.

Because they distrustful of anyone not in their tight inner circle they horde power, micromanaging situations and shutting out those who are suspect, and anyone who is not part of the inner circle is automatically suspect.

When during he primary Sanders surprised them they didn’t open up their command to new voices and refused to learn that their predictive models were seriously flawed. When local pols in the rust belt screamed for help and warned that the candidate was in danger of losing votes due to people staying home, the alarms were rebuffed as they did not come from the trusted circle. It is astonishing that during the campaign Hillary Clinton never visited the union halls of Michigan, a state that if simply two more people per precinct has gone to the polls and voted for her she would have carried.

We can never know if Sanders, as is supporters insist, would have won the campaign. What we do know is that the Democratic candidate outpolled the Republican by millions of votes but bungled the tactical battlefield and lost the war


Gravity Always Asserts Itself

As a kid I watched countless hours of Warner Brother cartoons and among my favorite were the Roadrunner and the Coyote. Invariably at some point in his futile attempts to catch the Roadrunner the Coyote would find himself suddenly without ground beneath his feet. For the first few moments, everything was fine, but once became aware of the fact, gravity took command and his fall began.

For more than six year the Republican Party has railed against the ACA and encouraged their political base to view it as an evil that must be destroyed. That destruction has been their premier promise in every election cycle and now, with control of both congress and the White House, it is within their grasp. However, like the Coyote they have discovered that the ground beneath their feet is not what they believed it to be.

Immediate repeal means throwing twenty million or more people off of their insurance. Even if you are not inclined to think of the news media as hostile to conservatives there is no universe where that plays well on the evening news and with number that large nearly every person will know someone who lost their coverage. It will be a painful, personal, and powerful storm of anger.

Not repealing means enraging the base, encouraging the dreaded ‘primary opponent’ that all officials in safe districts fear, and sparking intra-party warfare between the more pragmatic and Freedom Caucus wings.

Repeal and delay, vote for repeal but word it so that the effect occurs two, four, or more years down the road throws a hand grenade into the individual insurance market. What company will want to participate when the market will cease to exist in just a short time? Insurers flee, people loose their coverage, mandate are not enforced and a death spiral for the industry is a real possibility. That means people with deep pockets and political connections will be very angry.

Complicating this terrain is the fact that the President-elect is well known for his lack of consistency. Is he committed to repeal for ‘conservative’ reasons? This is a man who has praised single-payer nationalized healthcare, hardly a conservative policy. And just recently his spokespeople have affirmed that under the President-Elect’s plans no one will their coverage, no one.

They have dashed off the precipice, there is no ground under them save the disastrous and countless distance below, and no one will be inclined to give them any aid.

If they do manage to repeal, without dealing with the very thorny and difficult issues infusing this problem, (Which is likely because in six years they have advanced zero legislative packages to institute a ‘conservative’ solution.) they will have done more to hasten single-payer in this country than any ten liberal politicians.


Chaos in the Electorate

Last year, when Trump and Sanders made their announcements I dismissed either as have a serious impact on the race. Clearly I was wrong.

This is the election cycle of the unpredictable, angry electorate. On the left and on the right there is a great clamoring for change. Now I would still bet against Sanders winning the nomination, the rules are stacked against him and he needs to really outperform, consistently, the rest of the primary to get the delegates needed. That is not to say he can’t Clearly this is the wrong cycle to make bold unwavering predictions. However, the hill is still quite steep for him.

Trump is starting to fall, but not from first. 538’s delegate tracker has him missing his targets in order to reach 50%+1 before the convention. He may get the majority, but it seems equally possible he may miss, but not by much. If that happens and they can’t settle it on the first ballot, it’s fireworks for the GOP in Cleveland. (An early clue may be the rules for the convention. If they are adopted without much fuss or fight, then expect a single ballot to nominate someone, if the rules are fought over long and hard then we may be in for a bumpy ride.)

It’s stunning to think that California’s late primary may actually be relevant.


A quick comment aimed at the left this time

So in the last few weeks I have seen several times on social media a petition to strip the National Rifle Association (NRA) of their non-profit status for the opposition to gun control. This petition is a ridiculous and pointless exercise, but it also shows a blindingly insulting level of short-sightedness.

Setting aside that any non-profit that has not violated the law is safe from the mob justice of a petition, the proponents of this idea have given zero thought as to the outcome should they in some fantastically unlikely event become successful.

Stripping the NRa’s non-profit status via gathering enough angry signatures and for purely political purposes would off course open up all non-profits to such tactics.

Should Planned Parenthood lose their non-profit status if enough social conservatives sign an on line form?

Should Unions be stripped if enough pro-business people gather the requisite signatures?

Or maybe we could go after NOW, or Equality Now, the Human Rights Council? Hell maybe fan run science-fiction and the SCA can be targets as well!

Those of you who shared this idiotic meme, do you really want the same standard placed upon your groups and your interests?

Yes you do not like the NRA, yes they stand against your thoughts and goal on gun control, but they also have broken no law and they truly do represent a dedicated number of voters. Agree with them or disagree with them, but do not try to use the political process to strip them of their rights lest others do the same to you and yours.

Of course if you want to argue that *all* non-profits should lose that status, that is a far different argument and one I am more inclined to agree with.


A Proposal

Or possibly more like a notion.

I think we are watching the disintegration of the primary system for selecting candidates for President of the United States of America. The primary system itself, as we know it today, is a rather recent development. It truly started with 1968 and the Democratic Party trying to making the process more responsive to popular opinion and the voters. Watergate in the early 70s accelerated the reforms and both parties adopted a system where they hold elections to see who’s going to stand in the election. On the face of it the system looks sound. candidates campaign, as tested int he waters of an actual election, and the people can votes based upon who they agree with the most.

As we can see this cycle, and in previous cycles, that is not reality. Candidates jump in who have no intention of winning the primary but rather developing support bases for further financial gain. Once that pays off it encourage more of the same, candidates vying for base votes play to the most fanatical elements of their own parties, sounding more and more extreme and reaping rewards for such actions.

Before the primary system, the Convention is where the candidate was selected. It was a time of smoke-filled rooms and party bosses calling the shots, but it was mercifully short and tended to produce stable competent candidates.  Convention today are coronations more about spectacle than policy. How could we devise a system that selects the best of both worlds, voter input and party competency?

Here’s an idea, just a spitball off the top of my head concept.

Retain primaries, make them closed, (after all this about selecting the party’s face and that should be restricted to party members.) but remove individual candidates. Instead politicians or just folk run election trying to gather votes for factions. The factions are awarded the delegates and at the convention the factions, using their delegates, vote and select the standard-bearers for the party. Factions could raise money, unlimited money in fact, but at the end of the primary all excess monies go to the party for the general election. Politicians who stumped for the faction would certain have a leg up on getting the nomination but if they stumbled or embarrassed themselves or the party they’d be plenty of time and ability to move to a better candidate. Because the money went to the factions and not an individual person, there would be less emotional blackmail associated with massive donations reducing the corrupting effects. This would also open up a party to greater inclusion as it would be unlikely that a single faction would amass a majority of delegates right off and a nominee could only be picked by consensus.

Remember that the current primary system is not part of our system of government. It is not dictated by the laws of the land, it is the rule by which a party selects its candidate. It’s a recently developed method and I think it’s unstable. (Trump)



Do Not Put Your Faith in Facebook Memes

This will be quick but I have to get it off my chest.

You CAN NOT trust the things you read on partisan internet memes. This was brought to my attention when on my Facebook feed someone shared a meme about Texas Senator Ted Cruz. (I do not like Senator Cruz. In my opinion he is a dangerous disingenuous demagogue.) The member attributed the following quote to his speech announcing his candidacy for president.

“There is no room for Atheists or gays in my America.”

The quote is clearly a fabrication. Had the man been so stupid as to have uttered those words at his Liberty University announcement the new cycle would have exploded. You would not learn about such a thing from a random Facebook posting. (To be sure I went to the text of the speech and indeed he said nothing of the sort.)

It is nearly certain that I would never vote for this man. (See my opinion statement above.) However lies and hyperbole are crappy tools for persuasion. The people passing the image around are only making their own stands less secure for if you need lies to support your arguments how strong can it be?



Now My Problems with the Left

A few posts back I gave some of my reasons as to why I could not longer in any good conscience vote for the Republican Party. That does not mean I am all happy and satisfied when forced to vote on the Democratic side of the ballot. The issues I have the liberal side f the equation are less pressing than those I listed from the right, but they give me serious hesitation and also trouble my conscience. So in no particular order are some of those issues.

  • Identity Politics: There is a great tendency on the left to see people as the check boxes that they are assigned. Too many times have I heard responses start off with a recitation of a person’s categorization placing such labels above the person’s ideas in importance. I am far too much of an individualist to see people first as a label and secondly as an individual. They is not to say that as a culture we do not have miles go in fighting all manner of discrimination. Nor is it saying that the proper view of the world is to pretend to be colorblind. (Or any other kind of blindness) which invites someone to ignore the pain and struggle that others have faced and continue to face. However putting people in little boxes invites other forms of discrimination, such as expecting that person of a particular race, orientation, or what not is a traitor to their own if they hold contrary and unpopular views. The problem with bean counting is that in the end it reduces people to beans.
  • Paternalism: The liberals are far more likely than the conservatives to pass laws for someone ‘own good.’ Seat-belt laws, Helmet Laws, Smoking Laws, and so on, laws, taxes, and regulations meant to guide the common person towards the preferred behaviors. For years I have referred to this tendency as ‘the enlightened man’s burden.’ It springs from a conceit that they know best and it is an obligation to make sure that everyone lives in the manner that the enlightened know is best. Often couched in terms of societal costs (helmet-less riders cost us X dollars every year) it is an insidious argument freedom has no dollar value and as such always looses. People have a right to be stupid and free.
  • Luddism: From nuclear power, and genetic engineering, to vaccines there is a powerful tendency on the left to harbor fears of technology. The same people who would chastise conservatives for refusing to listen to climate scientists will happily embrace fears of GMO without any more scientific support than the conservatives that deride. They will happy boost for more space exploration, and yet protest the use of nuclear fuels for those same spacecraft. It is my opinion that the conservatives are often anti-science but that liberals are often anti-technology. (there is talk in the news today of GOP candidates and their anti-vax stands, but this idea is much more at home in the upper-middle class college educated left.)
  • Utopianism: The idea that humanity is perfectible seems to be a meme that is much more infection among the left. There seems to be a desire, a dream, to find the system that will bring out the perfect system where everyone is happy and there is no want. A place where racism, sexism, and other ills are diseases of the past. I think this is why the left has always flirted with socialism and communism. Communism really is an atheistic religion promising heaven on earth and an end to all suffering. I do not believe that people are perfectible. There will always be the base drives and desire that propel so much human misery. The idea that we can find a utopia is a delusion that distracts us from the work we can achieve.

As with my post on the Republican Party, the subject of the post and comments is the liberal philosophy and the Democratic Party. You are welcome to comment but stay on topic.


The Red Election

I can’t take credit for the comparison between this week’s U.S. Mid-Term elections and the disastrous wedding for the Starks in ‘Game of Thrones’ I spotted it on twitter, but the analogy is quite apt.

The Democratic Party, with a coalition that is better suited to presidential elections, found itself thoroughly routed electorally from the contest as the Republican Party, its ranks filled with people willing to crawl across broken glass to cast a vote against Obama and his allies, swept the national legislature.

I would have written about this yesterday but I have taken ill and on Wednesday I was unable to craft sentences beyond ‘tree good fire bad.’

Now that the House and the Senate at firmly under Republican control, but short of veto proof levels, it shall be interesting to see which track the Conservative trains depart along.

When the Democrats held the senate the Speak of the House had no pressure keep back any of the more extreme conservative measures. Passing repeals of the ACA was easy when you knew it would die leaving the House, but with a friendly Senate things get more complicated,

The truth of the matter is killing the ACA would involve throwing millions of their insurance, and forcing the issue through a government shutdown. No simple repeal bill will be signed by the president. Any bill defunding it will not be signed by the president. You can only get those signature by attached it to ‘must pass’ legislation and then refusing to back down as the government shutters in crisis.

A smarter course would be to seek modifications to the ACA and then declare victory, but after selling the evils of the ACA to their base for six years it will be hard convincing said base that now it is acceptable policy no matter how much tinkering at the edges (medical device taxes etc) you have performed.

Of course the Republican now own the budget process. No longer can they pass the Ryan budget confident it will go nowhere and have the actual pain its cuts would cause remain theoretical. It’s true that the Democrats, in a fine display to invertebrate physiology, failed to pass a budget for 4 years, but last year when they did pass one, the Republicans refuse to conference on the matter. Now it is all theirs.

I do not know what is going to happen, but I do suspect it will be interesting.


The Dog is Gaining on the Car.

The mid-term elections are only a few weeks away and it looks as thought life might get interesting. Nate Silver, last I looked, was giving the Republicans about a 65% chance of taking control of the Senate. Given the sweep of governorships the Republican won during 2010, a critical redistricting election cycle, the baked in advantage from rural districts outnumbering urban ones, and the Democratic party’s base for not showing up on off-year elections, it looks all but certain that the Republicans will retain control of the House. I see no signs of a wave election, for either party, and if forced to guess I would hold that in November the Republicans will have control of the Legislative branch of the United States Government. I am not sold that this is going to work out all that well for the Republican Party in the long term. If they want to move legislation from bill into law they will have to pass bills that the President can sign. Right now, with the Democrats controlling the Senate, the Republicans have been having a responsibility free ride in their legislative actions. They can pass repeals of the ACA all they like, knowing perfectly well that the bills will die in the Senate, with the majority of American unaware of their existence. Once they control the Senate the landscape changes, but the internal dynamics of the Republican Party does not. The Tea Party base will brook no concessions, no compromises with President Obama, but to pass bills into law they will have to compromise. The Hassert rule, which is really more of a guideline but they adhere to it like it was the 11th Commandment, means nothing gets out of the House unless the Tea Party faction is happy with it. You cannot make them happy with compromises and you can’t violate the rule, leaving the Republicans in a position where their options are to pass nothing, or pick fights with the President, fights that they will lose. Why will they lose those public relations fights? Because it is easier for the White House to stay on message then it is far the vast number of Representative and Senators to do that same. Because the President will offer compromises, just as he already has on Social Security (offending his base) and the Republicans will be forced to publicly reject them. Because it it the Republican’s philosophy that government is the problem and when government is locked up in a partisan fight people tend to assume that the Republicans like it that way. If this goes on for two years, the Republican nominee will have a headwind he or she will not need. They may very become the Dog that caught the car and asked, now what?

[Update: apparently Silver’s latest projections have the Republican Take-over down to 53%. Interesting]


I think the climate is changing

And I mean the political climate.

Yesterday’s SCOTUS decision was a bad one in my opinion. It’s already having repercussions beyond the Republican obsession with the ACA. (Apparently at least one employer is already wanting to use the decision to discriminate against gays. This was totally predictable.) Now, I am not going to go into why the decision was wrong headed. I already did a post/essay on how I think you slice that gordian knot or individual religious freedom and public accommodation.

What I want to say is that this is really, I think, going to be bad news for the Republican Party when it comes to Presidential Elections.

Here is a graph I made of the female vote for all presidential elections since Reagan. (I selected 1980 because I think that is the point where a new republican started started to be born.)vote graf

Seriously, How is what happened at SCOTUS July 1 going to help that red line get any closer to that blue one? It won’t. Add the hispanic votes walking out the door and the youth vote giving the conservative party the finger and I think things look nasty for the Republicans in presidential elections.