The Anger Narrative

There it is.  Americans are mad as hell and they are sending a message to both parties.  It’s a hissy fit and sooner or later we have to get back to establishment politicians.  Trumps supporters are angry at life in general.  Bernie supporters are young kids who don’t know any better.  That about captures it. And while there is an element of truth in it, it way over simplifies what is really going on and in doing that, misses the essence of important change.

Here is the typical both sides are angry rant from Jennifer Finley Boylan in her Op-Ed this morning in the NYT:

It’s the Year of the Angry Voter, and apparently it’s vitriol itself, rather than any particular strategy for the future, that’s propelling the electorate. “Our country is being run by incompetent people,” Donald J. Trump has said. “And I won’t be angry when we fix it, but until we fix it, I’m very, very angry.” Bernie Sanders is angry, too: “I am angry. The American people are angry.”

But, the implied narrative goes, we need to control our anger and get real about change, i.e., bring back Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.  Hmm.  Did not the American Revolution come from anger at the British?  Did not our Constitution come from anger between the states at the failure of the Articles of Confederation?  Did not the freeing of the slaves come out of the anger that propelled us into Civil War?  What about integration of the south or legalizing gay marriage?  Sure anger can be a hissy fit, or it can be the result of deep seated frustrations that finally drive change.

Trumps supporters are really angry at the same thing as Bernie supporters, things are getting worse and nothing changes to redirect that slide.  Granted Trump supporters want to do inane things like build a wall, blame immigrants, glower at your opponents which is all nonsense, but understand the anger.  It is really feed by something the Republicans created along the way, and that is the denial of facts, data, and science, mixed in with racism and a failed conservative ideology that has never delivered.  We are seeing an anger directed at others as though the basic Republican Trinity (small government, low taxes, little regulation) has not failed and in fact is realistic in today’s world when it is nonsense.

Bernie’s supporters are angry at something very similar, but they are seeing reality that tells them the system is rigged.  And like their Republican counterparts, they see establishment candidates as part of the problem.  But they don’t want to build unbuildable  walls, hate all Muslims, bring back the Neocons, turn back social progress, or push a failed economic ideology even harder.  They want to bring balance back into our economy by making it more fair.  They want to reign in the financial markets, expand and make education afforable, provide healthcare as a right, raise the minimum wage and insure equal access for women, invest in our infrastructure, and deal with the threat of global warming.  They are angry because the establishment sets these as far off goals and they know we can’t wait anymore.  Get the difference?

The establishment on both sides of the partisan divide has failed to deliver.  One failed because it adopted a failed ideology not practical in today’s world, trying to hard to hang on to the past that denies the reality of change.  The other failed because it was too timid in challenging the nonsense of the other side.  Staying in office became the primary goal, not standing up for values that could move us forward. Now those two establishments are being rejected for good reason.  One side has never been rational, but the other side sees what is possible and is campaigning on it.  If this is anger, so be it.  First you must tear down the old system before you can build something that works.

More on the Democratic Establishment

Contrary to Professor Krugman and others, there is certainly a Democratic Establishment and it certainly supports Hillary. It also, I allege, has pushed the party rightward in resisting to draw lines in the sand and take on the Republican Right.  But thanks to NPR and Rachel Maddow we see it in action. Bernie won big in New Hampshire right.  No, they split delegates.  That is because about 30% of the delegates awarded throughout the country are super delegates, Democratic VIPs who get to vote for whoever they want.  According to NPR:

There were 24 delegates to be allocated out of the New Hampshire Democratic primary, based on the vote statewide and by congressional district. Sanders, obviously, won more of those, 15 to her 9.  And yet …

Add in the “superdelegates” who have already committed to a candidate, and Clinton moves into the delegate lead. Six of the state’s eight superdelegates have publicly said they will vote for Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in July. (Two are uncommitted.)

What gives?

Superdelegates are party insiders of all sorts — they include state and national elected officials, as well as Democratic National Committee members. So a little-known DNC committee member might be a superdelegate, as well as former President Bill Clinton. And while state primary results help apportion the non-super delegates, the superdelegates get to pick whom they want.  But why? Electability, writes University of Georgia lecturer Josh Putnam, in a 2009 entry on his blog, Frontloading HQ.

“The reason superdelegates came into being in the interim period between the 1980 and 1984 elections was to allow the party establishment an increased voice in the nomination process,” he wrote.

So is Bernie starting with an almost 30% handicap and if Hillary wins the nomination by the superdelegates, how much of the vote do they think will come out for the election.  They will just go home and say the whole system is so rigged their voice has no meaning.  Democrats are in such denial about their establishment and how it is making them powerless.

New Hampshire

Well in a nut shell, I told you so.  But New Hampshire is not the nation and we will see.  Basically the Republicans have broken into three factions, the populists favoring Trump, the ideologue conservatives favoring Cruz, and the establishment GOP favoring, well, right now Kasich, but could be Bush, and doubtfully Rubio.  Maybe the rest of the bunch will start to bail out.

This does not bode well for Republicans as the NYT reported this morning that there was trouble in the House now between Paul Ryan and the Know-Nothing’s.  Kasich is a moderate on social issues, but an ideologue on the economy wanting a balanced budget amendment.  And when we get into the south ideologue conservatives may prevail.  Nothing really changes and that is the issue.

The big victory by Trump is a wakeup call to the establishment that they have never delivered and voters are deserting in an anti-rational fit. From my point of view, the real problem for Republicans is that they have nothing.  Trump is running on smoke and mirrors since nobody really knows what he would really do.

The ideologue conservatives are running on nonsense that feeds a small but reliable base, and they coupled with the establishment candidates are recycling old failed economic ideas and policies.  “Vote for us.  We will take back and restore America by running on the same policies that got us in this mess in the first place.  Be selfish and only think about yourself.”  See Mad as Hell, or Just Recognizing Reality Part I.

But the real wakeup call last night was to the Democratic establishment.  Again, this is New Hampshire and we will see if Bernie can maintain it, but it is starting to dawn on main stream media and the Democratic establishment that there is a Democratic establishment and there is a revolt against it. See Matthew Yglesias’ Bernie Sander’s is the Future of the Democratic Party.

I sit on a hill in the middle of a vineyard so I am not down among the multitudes feeling the Bern, but here is what I know.  Most of us liberal Democrats are disgusted with our party.  Harry Reid has caved on more issues than I care to count.  The filibuster being the most important one ceding control of the Senate to the Republicans who finally won it in the last election.

The Party has been controlled by the moderates which in case you haven’t noticed it, are Republican lite.  And the country moves rightward.  There is a great deal of frustration about that and many of us hold the establishment Democratic Party responsible. Hillary, who would probably make a great President, made a strategic blunder in telling us she would carry on President Obama’s administration. Incrementalism is what got us in this mess.

What mess?  Well, a Republican Congress with a shot at the White House that is carrying on an attack of everything that has been accomplished.  They came roaring back after being banished in 2008 because the Democrats inspired no one to vote in off-year elections because they stood for nothing except compromise which got them no where.  It was hard to draw a line in the sand and say this is what Democrats will fall on their sword for.

Hillary is associated with the establishment.  And she has been tone death to that.  She told us she is best equipped to work with other side.  Working with the other side is the Democratic problem.  They are not going to work with us and that strategy has been highly successful for them.  So what we got was the feeling the best we are going to get with Hillary is more Obama, holding back the Know-Nothings.

President Obama still doesn’t really get it as he travels to Springfield Illinois this morning to fight a battle he does not understand:

“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency,” he said then, “that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has often gotten worse instead of better. I have no doubt that a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.”

They are not ever going to work with you nor is rational debate, facts and data going to make a difference. Hillary is following into this same trap as she sells as a moderate or a process that means “progress”.  It is not going to happen in today’s Washington.  Matt Yglesias above got it right:

Sanders’s core proposition, separate from the details of the political revolution, is that for progressives to win they need to first organize and dominate an ideologically left-wing political party that is counterpoised to the ideological right-wing Republican Party.  

The Democratic Party needs to be shaken up, and he realizes and runs on reality.  We will change nothing unless we have a voter revolution that changes Congress. Hillary thought she could win based upon claiming she is a moderate Democrat who will fight for change.  That’s the establishment that generally has failed to bring it.  It is boring.

We will see if Bernie can deliver that voter revolution, but I think he can.  Just think about all the negatives around Bernie Sanders and then wonder what is going on.  I will tell you, it is the yearning for real change and positions that we are willing to fight for.  You know that red one thing the Democrats have never been able to draw.

Oh, and one more thing:  The establishment thinks the South will be the downfall of Bernie.  I am not so sure.  African Americans have been taken for granted by the Democratic establishment and if Bernie can convince them he doesn’t, well, Hillary is in real trouble.  To summarize, the world has changed and the Democrats are in denial about who they are and how they are perceived.  Bernie is tearing that up.

Finland and Austerity

Finland is in the middle of a giant recession.  Remember Nokia?  So they are doing something smart and really stupid.  The smart thing is that they are trying to get off the Euro so they can devalue their currency so their economy can be competitive.  It should scare the European Union.  But then they turn around and push austerity as the way to restore their economy.  Zombie ideas live.  Austerity has failed, failed, and failed to expand economies, but it contracts them.  But Europe has never admitted their great failure in economic policy and they are continuing failed policies.  How stupid.  

How do I know all this.  Instead of 24/7 New Hampshire on the cable news idiots, I watched Al Jazeera America.  Right now they are a great gift to America and we should thank them.  Instead we are running them out of business.  Are we number 1 or what?

New Hampshire – Early

If you need some fun watch each candidate speak and check out the crowd behind them.  Everything is staged to present an image or to appeal to a segment of the voting population.  Behind Hillary were all young people,.  Behind Bernie and in front of him were young people , but I counted three African Americans, probably the only ones in the state.  Can’t wait to see the sea of white old people frothing at the mouth behind the Republicans.

UPDATE:  I am dying laughing.  The Donald brought up all his beautiful women to be around behind him with some fat balding white men behind him.  It could have been Fox News.

The Supremes and the Environment

Well the boys and girls (not sure what the real numbers were) decided to stay any of the regulations on CO2 by the EPA until they hear the case, which does not bode well.  So if the Democrats want an issue for those of us who know global warming is real, well, they just handed it to them.

Both Sides Do It, Right?

The President has put together his budget to include such things as funding for cancer research, opioid research, and a tax on oil.  Who could be against most of this? From the NYT:

Congressional Republicans went to new lengths to extinguish any such expectations. Breaking with a 41-year-old tradition, the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees announced that they would not even give the president’s budget director, Shaun Donovan, the usual hearings in their panels this week.

G. William Hoagland, who was the Republican staff director at the Senate Budget Committee for much of the 1980s and 1990s, and is senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, said he could not recall a year since the modern budget process took effect in the 1970s when a president’s budget director was not invited to testify before the budget committees.

They don’t care what’s in it, they are just against it.  So we want to elect a president who will roll up his sleeves and work with these guys?  I am not sure anyone has got the memo yet.  Republicans have moved so far right that there is no working with them.  It is a war to pull them back into reality and it starts with a voter revolution.  Nobody is going to get things done in Washington till we deal with the know-nothing’s.

The Sad State of News

Al Jazeera America will be going off the air in April.  It is a profound disappointment and maybe a sign that we are lost.  It is the only place I can find world news.  This morning in the NYT, Roger Cohen took America and President Obama to task on Syria.  I could not agree more.  But I know what the problem is.  Americans are clueless about what is going on there or that Germany’s Prime Minister refers to this and the critical world crisis right now.  It is because it goes totally uncovered in our 24/7 news media.  If you turn on CNN or MSNBC (I am ignoring the Republican propaganda channel Fox), you get 24/7 coverage of New Hampshire.  We are being so dumbed down it is sad.

Did you know that in an art show in Bangladesh which depicted the letters from five Tibetan monks who immolated themselves over Chinese occupation were covered up because China objected to them?  There is a real story here about China’s censorship spreading to countries in the region.  You won’t get that on mainstream news. What is happening at the UN over the Korean missile launch or what is going on with the Zika virus?  Go to Al Jazeera if you want to know and not sit through 45 minutes of political spinning before they get to anything resembling news.

What’s the fix.  It is simple.  The major broadcast companies are making fortunes off using the public air waves that you and I own.  The government has to establish rules that require these corporations as the condition of using these airwaves to provide comprehensive news, not as a profit center.  Then companies like MSNBC can certainly provide 24/7 political minutia, but they also have to have a channel that provides comprehensive news coverage and analysis.  It will end the dumbing down of America.

Giant Foolish Moves by Hillary

Hillary and her campaign are really getting nervous about the youth vote so they are going on the attack.  That is okay if your attack stays positive, but it did not and it is tone-deaf.  Bill is out there telling us that Bernie Sander’s dream is hermetically-sealed from reality.  He is tone death to the complaints about the Democratic establishment (which is the denial many Democrats are in.  See The Democratic Establishment).  He is tone death to the perception of impropriety with her speaking fees and the large money they have taken (for what we might ask) in the Clinton Foundation (See Hillary’s Big Moment).

Bill tells us free college is unaffordable, when it is a necessity for our future and other countries do it.  We know it is affordable, we just haven’t asked anyone to pay for it.  Then he told a crowd that Sander’s health plan is unnecessary.  What planet does he live on?  Oh I forgot, planet rich.  No Bill, the costs don’t add up, but the goal does. So what is your plan?  Oh wait, I forgot. High deductibles and many left under covered or not covered at all instead of universal health care coverage is all we can expect in a world of realism.  I wonder how all those other countries do it? I mean after all, we should not have lofty goals (See A couple of Thoughts on Monday) because it is not practical.  After all you tried and failed, so why should we?

But wait it gets better.  The old ladies are coming out to try to shame young women to support Hillary because, well she is a woman and she is Hillary.  That ought to piss off young women.  Add to that Gloria Steinem’s comment that young women support Bernie to meet the boys.  She later said she was misunderstood.  I don’t think so and she expressed the implicit assumption that young women are Bimbo’s instead of responding to his message.  That is the Democratic establishment that young people are revolting against.  Old feminists didn’t get it done so why would want to stay on that road?  We are back sliding.

This election is about getting the vote out, and once again Hillary, with Bill’s aid, is fighting a campaign to take no prisoners and it will be counter productive to their campaign and the Democratic Party.  Instead of examining what is resounding with Bernie and try to match it, they are trying to disparage it. After all the Clintons can never be wrong. And in that they are alienating the voters they will need and selling a message of the establishment Democratic party that doesn’t sell any more, that baby steps are enough in a world where we are backsliding.  Wake up, get out of your defensive crouch or you are the problem Hillary.

Bernie will live or die on whether is message will resonate with minorities and in more moderate States.  If it does, we have a real chance to make real changes in this country.  If it doesn’t, Hillary will be the choice and we all need to get behind her.  Right now she is hurting Democrats in general and certainly proving she is no Progressive.

A Couple of Thoughts on a Monday

At a Super Bowl Sunday Party I decidedly tried to stay away from politics, but I did have some forced upon me.  Note that when anyone asks you what you think about something it is rare when they really care.  They are just waiting to inform you how they feel about that something.  The theme from on discussion yesterday and a few of the establishment media types is Bernie will never get there and we should all settle on Hillary.  I won’t name names at the party but media types were Paul Krugman and Charles Blow.  The general thread was you are not going to be able to reach Bernie’s lofty goals so let’s go with Ms. Practicality.  Said according to Mr. Blow,  Hillary’s approach is I have a half a dream.

The concern of course is over the younger vote and the massive support Bernie has from them.  The dream is that Bernie can mobilize a revolution of voters to the polls so that Congress is forever changed from its dysfunctional self to trying something different.  Most pundits don’t believe it is possible so we should all vote for Hillary to secure a Democratic Presidency. Mr. Blow captured what young people see and are revolting against:

Young folks are facing a warming planet, exploding student debt, stunted mobility, stagnant wages and the increasing corporatization of the country due in part to the increasing consolidation of wealth and the impact of that wealth on American institutions.

Young folks are staring down a barrel and they want to put a flower in it, or conversely, smash it to bits. And they’re angry at those who came before them for doing too little, too late. They want a dramatic correction, and they want it now.

And we are dreamers and we should settle for Hillary.  But there is some truth in what Mr. Blow describes as “And they’re angry at those who came before them for doing too little, to late.”  That is the Democratic establishment.  That is the world Hillary comes from that did too little too late, that accommodated our rightward drift as being practical politicians.  I would argue that to continue down that road with Hillary is to make voting a worthless activity.  Hillary may be the best candidate to continue failed Democratic rule for another four years.  At least she holds back the tide of Republican revisionism and keeps it at a small stream.  But for many of us that is not enough anymore.  It is time to fight the fight.

And most sadly of all, the pundits tell us not to dream big and recognize reality.  What is life worth if I can dream big and reach for the stars.  More importantly, how will we ever get there if we don’t try.  There might even be winning in losing.  We are in this for the long haul and until we finally draw a line and say this really is the problem and compromise with it is kicking the can down the road, we will continue our slide to nowhere.  Did you watch the movie The Martian?  Did you learn nothing?  What if they had told Christopher Columbus it was impractical?  How about the Founders?  Who would have thought the Constitution was possible?  Why didn’t someone tell John Kennedy getting to the moon was impractical?  We should just settle for what is and baby steps, right?

Not me.