Category Archives: Democrats

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.

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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)

 

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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?

 

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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.

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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.

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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]

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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.

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Hillary the Inevitable

In the 2008 primary season we were treated to a barrage of opinion pieces that proclaimed the inevitability of Hillary Clinton in her quest for the Democratic Nomination. Of course we have the advantageous position of historical high ground to see just how wrong all those predictions turned out to be.

Here it is 2014 and without the mid-term election yet resolved the opinion are flying fast and furious about 2016. Those opinions are as rooted in serious thought as the Fast and Furious films were dedicated to realistic physics. Naturally one of the most persistent memes is that Hillary is once again the inevitable Democratic Nominee for PotUS.

‘Inevitable’, you keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means. Hillary is no more ‘inevitable’ in her aspirations than any particular character is inevitably going to survive their encounter with George R.R. Martin’s bloody word processor.

It is certainly true that Hillary (It is no disrespect to refer her by her given name to prevent confusion with her equally famous spouse.) possesses tremendous advantages going into the fight; her name recognition, fund raising ability, a deep well of contact and connected supporters, all play an important part in a candidates odds of success, but other factors matter as well.

Hillary is a spectacularly poor campaigner. Like Mitt on the Republican side, she has actually won only a single electoral contest. She has displayed a gross inability to connect with voters, has a notoriously thin skin criticism, holds grudges with a tenacity unseen since Nixon, and has approached the nomination process, both in 2008 and 2016, as though it were a coronation.

None of this means she will not be the nominee. Just as Mitt was able to achieve victory in the Republican Primary field of 2012 she could pull it off, but I think it would take a similar dynamic.

Mitt faced a Party that did not trust him and was further to the right than what seemed his natural position. (Personally, I am not convinced we know what is Mitt’s true position. He was always the salesman and in a predominantly liberal state he played up the moderate and in a conservative primary he switched colors faster camera-equipped traffic light.) Hillary faces a party that is becoming more populist and more liberal while she herself has a difficult time selling that message. Mitt survived because there were plenty of not-Mitt candidates to split the vote, allowing the distrusted Romney to claim the Republican Iron Throne. Clinton would be best served by a pack of not-Hillary candidates who could split the more liberal voter of her party, allowing her a similar path to victory.

The rise of popular and decided liberal politicians such as Elizabeth Warren is a major threat to Hillary and only time will tell if she can survive and once again fail while being declared inevitable .

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A Brief Return to Politics

After a couple of film related posts, here’s a bit of politics for those who are inclined to hear my thoughts on the matter. This time I not interested in a particular  event or controversy , but rather an element of modern political life that had me feeling like an outsider.

Conflicted support.

It seems from most of people I have as friends on my Facebook page, or follow along on Twitter, or know in real life have a fairly easy time deciding who is right and who is wrong on any political issue. Naturally the right/wrong axis matches pretty closely to their side and the other side. I rarely feel so certain that one philosophy or strain of through has got it all worked out.

Worse yet for me I happen to have a number of positions that end up being mutually exclusive in our crude national political culture. For example I fully support marriage equality and I also support Second Amendment rights. It’s fairly difficult to find a person to vote of that fits both those bills. (yes I know about the Libertarians  but there are aspects of modern life that requires modern governance and you can have my FDA when you are my personal Guinea pig.) This of course is not my only internal political conflict, I do not believe in progressive taxation and I do support the ACA (‘Obamacare’ for the rest of you.)

I am forced in each election to put my beliefs through a grueling grinder to produce a hierarchy  and I am always for to sacrifice some to advance others. This doesn’t make me a terribly happy person with the votes I must cast, but it the reality of the universe. You cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and some progress is better than a principled stand to yields nothing.

However when I look around it seems to me that my relatives and friends and associates hardly seem to suffer this sort of conflict at all. Left is the way! Right is the Way!

I know that there is n end in sight for me. I will forever be balancing the times, my priorities, and what can be achieved, but  I dream of a day with more people will be open to their own conflicts and less religious in the certitude.

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Our Democracy is for Sale!

Well, following the recent Supreme Court decision, that’s the cry I keep seeing from the left side of my Facebook and Twitter feeds. As I understand it the Court found that it was unconstitutional to place limits on individuals when they contribute fund to political action groups and committees and the like. I am not terribly upset by the decision.  Of course there are great many others who are, however I am not swayed by their arguments.

On hand they seems to be saying that money buys politicians. Of course I think what they mean is that money buys the other dies’ politicians. I doubt that there is any level of campaign contribution that would induce Diane Feinstein to become pro-gun, for Elizabeth Warren to go lax on big finance.  There is  a tendency, which I try not to share, to believe that the politicians you support are good and virtuous people and those you oppose are corrupt scamps selling out their country, Virtue and vice exist across the spectrum.

A more substantial argument is that with massive amounts of money, an interest group can get ‘their man’ into office to bent the process to their will. On one level this is true, but it is equally true when you raise money for liberals or conservatives, you are using your money to influence the election to bring about the result you desire. The question seems to be is big money an overwhelming factor and determining who wins an election?

Well that depends on the election. Local city races, state reps, here where fewer people are engaged, the news is far less interested, money can be a big factor, but as the races get more national money is important for getting the message out it is far from determinative in respect as to who winds.

In 2012 Obama spent 683 million to Romney’s 433 million, so you might think Obama bought the election, but that just the candidate’s spending. The national parties also took part; Democratic spending was 292 million and the Republicans spent 386 million.  Outside group also threw money at the presidential race (these figure are just for the presidential contest, not the whole election cycle.) Liberal interests groups spent 131 mill massive outspent by conservative who threw 418 million trying to get their man into office and failed.

I believe that as long as the money flow is transparent, particularly in this age of information, it is far less corrupting than it used to be. This court decision isn’t costing me any sleep, but here’s some advice for those on the left.

You want more out of government? You want to see the obstruction stop? Four words are key, but I suspect the challenge will be to great for your team.

Get. Out. The. Vote.

Too often your team only fields a full force during Presidential elections, while on the right that have managed to energize and motivate their base to show up. And before you gripe that they do it with lies and distortions and slanderous personal attack, that does not matter. They get the warm bodies to the polls in off year elections. You gave them 2010, a redistricting year,  and you’ll feel that sting until 2020 and perhaps beyond.

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