Posts tagged ‘Democrats’

Talking Heads

A Democrat won in a district illegally gerrymandered to never produce that result. Oh, wait! According to President DFF he is not really a Democrat, but a Republican like himself. Not even close. He is a Democrat that believes in single payer, a woman’s right to choose, increasing social security, equal pay for equal work. Does that sound like President DFF? Some say women turned the tide. I have not seen the numbers yet so I don’t know, but I would not be surprised. They are leading us on so many issues today. Let’s face it, President DFF is a horrible example of a human being. Men overlook that if he acts tough.

Republicans are falling all over themselves telling us it isn’t them and their failed policies. But the tax cut that they were running on did not play. Some said that President DFF actually announced his tariffs by Tweet to solidify that district. It did not work. Some Republicans are saying the Republican candidate was terrible, but he was terrible where one wagging tongue said a box of hammers labeled a Republican would win.

This was country that ignored President DFF’s racism, nativism, misogyny, ignorance, and lying, thinking maybe he would be Presidential afterwards. They may have believed that nonsense about this is “just campaigning”. Now they know they got exactly what they elected and it was buyers remorse. Republicans dumped $10 million into that race and came up empty. Okay, it was close, but it was close where a box of hammers if it was labeled Republican should have won. Up next is probably those damn illegal aliens voted again.

But there are a couple of lessons here that are worth paying attention to. First and most important was that the last election was about change. Remember when Barack Obama was elected President and it was “Yes we can”. But no we couldn’t. Establishment politics took over and obstructionism by Republicans blocked everything. The nation was crying out to shrug off establishment politicians and the Democrats missed that message. Things have not changed.

The second lesson here is that Democrats have a wonderful opportunity because Republicans don’t have any new ideas. Conservatism is failing. Tax cuts and flow down are not selling. Tariffs that could bring on a trade war just terrify. Most know the old jobs are simply not coming back, so what is the plan? And that is the critical question, what is the plan. Democrats have to provide a message of hope and a vision of the future with new ideas. Progress.

Sure some of it is finally recognizing the immense folly of electing this disgusting man. Some of it is rejection by Republican women of the way Republicans have fallen in line behind him. Some of it may even be questions about his business dealings, and the failure to take the Russians seriously. But most of it is about pocketbook issues and who might lead us out of this morass. It is time to stand up for what most Progressives stand for, progress, not regression.

There is a wave coming and I am not talking about the blue wave in 2018 that might happen. I am talking about all those kids out in the street protesting and telling politicians the obvious, that the problem with gun violence is guns. They are the wave of the future and Republicans with the NRA’s help have alienated them. These kids are saying the status quo is just not good enough. Slow and steady does not work anymore. That is the new tomorrow and that is what Democrats better be able to respond to. Change really is in the air. I wonder what President DFF will do now to change the subject?

Capitalism is the Problem

If I look at our greatest problems, economic inequality, global warming, and President DFF, they all have one root cause, capitalism. Now I am sure you are going to say what about equal pay for equal work, or systemic racism, or rust belt myopia, or immigration, or failing infrastructure. I would say these are all symptoms of economic inequality, as well as global warming and President DFF. And the root cause of all of this is unbridled capitalism. I would also argue that capitalism has brought us many things and improved the living conditions of many in the world, but then the problems start to show up.

I am not the only one. Remember Bernie. Remember the howling from even Hillary on this was not possible. All Bernie was trying to do was level the playing field. But in an interesting op-ed this morning by Elizabeth Bruenig, she made some points we seem to want to ignore. She started by pointing out that Liberals are in a funk:

This assumption is reflected in the blindsided, startled unease of liberals in the era of President Trump: “There are moments when everything I have come to believe in — reasoned deliberation, mutual toleration, liberal democracy, free speech, honesty, decency, and moderation — seem as if they are in eclipse,” Andrew Sullivan recently lamented in New York magazine. “For the foreseeable future, nationalism is likely to remain a defining political force,” Yascha Mounk fretted this weekend in the New York Times; “liberals should strive to make nationalism as inclusive as possible,” he warned.

Ha! Liberalism incorporating nationalism is what Democrats have done over and over to their failure, incorporating failed ideas to try to out Republican Republicans, Republicans with a softer edge. It’s a journey to nowhere. Ms. Bruenig’s description of capitalism is in fact its problem for those of us who want a level playing field and social justice. She has what I call the “Bernie moment” when she realizes that moving the chairs around on the Titanic as most “liberals” do is a waste of time:

I don’t think business-as-usual but better is enough to fix what’s broken here. I think the problem lies at the root of the thing, with capitalism itself…Americans appear to be isolated, viciously competitive, suspicious of one another and spiritually shallow; and that we are anxiously looking for some kind of attachment to something real and profound in an age of decreasing trust and regard — seem to be emblematic of capitalism, which encourages and requires fierce individualism, self-interested disregard for the other, and resentment of arrangements into which one deposits more than he or she withdraws. (As a business-savvy friend once remarked: Nobody gets rich off of bilateral transactions where everybody knows what they’re doing.) Capitalism is an ideology that is far more encompassing than it admits, and one that turns every relationship into a calculable exchange. Bodies, time, energy, creativity, love — all become commodities to be priced and sold. Alienation reigns. There is no room for sustained contemplation and little interest in public morality; everything collapses down to the level of the atomized individual.

That capitalism is inimical to the best of liberalism isn’t a new concern: It’s a long-standing critique, present in early socialist thought. That both capitalism and liberal governance have changed since those days without displacing the criticism suggests that it’s true in a foundational way.

Not to be confused for a totalitarian nostalgist, I would support a kind of socialism that would be democratic and aimed primarily at decommodifying labor, reducing the vast inequality brought about by capitalism, and breaking capital’s stranglehold over politics and culture.

Welcome to the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Well, I hate to say the Democratic Party because the establishment still does not get it and even rejected a Progressive in the Houston primary as, well, too progressive. But they are asleep to what happened in the last election when Americans rejected status quo. Hillary got the nomination because the establishment wanted her and shunned Bernie. Republicans got their radical and he won. The urge for change is stronger than ever and the Democratic Party is trying to calibrate between moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats (read moderate Republicans in 1980) and it is a failed policy. Maybe not at an intellectual level yet, but at a gut one, most of us feel capitalism is failing us. And the reality as Thomas Piketty (Capital in the Twenty First Century) showed us, unrestrained capitalism gives us growing economic inequality.

I do have to laugh though. Ms. Bruenig in her last quote above is pining for “kind of socialism that would be democratic and aimed primarily at decommodifying labor, reducing the vast inequality brought about by capitalism, and breaking capital’s stranglehold over politics and culture.” Would that not be European social democracy as they have in say Finland or Norway or Sweden. Oh, and it works.

We have grown a culture and attitude about policy that reinforces unrestrained capitalism. We learned to hate taxes, regulations, and big government. It has been beaten into our heads by Republicans, But it isn’t working. I see massive deterioration of our infrastructure which is key to our future, and our hate for taxes keeps us from doing anything. Global Warming is already impacting us and yet we turn a blind eye to it because that would be big government and regulations. Oh, and it would upset the apple carts of who benefits by ignoring it.  Economic inequality grows by leaps and bounds and so does the concentration of political power and again we can do nothing because that would require rewriting the rules, regulation, and taxation. And yet the majority of us know it is not working. We got President DFF because Americans rejected the status quo, but he is a mindless moron who is still a creature of the 1980s.

As Ms. Bruenig points out, it is time for a different approach. I hate to keep repeating this, but Republicans, all of them have to go. So do most moderate Democrats who have the same conservative ideas only kinder and gentler. Conservatism has run its course and has proved defunct. If we want change, if we want to do something about economic inequality that touches all inequality, if we want to attack our problems with solutions that work, it is time to throw off the old mantle of unrestrained capitalism. This won’t happen with Republicans because they have become radicals of the me, me, me, and captured creatures of the monied. It is time for a new approach, and the only ones who are going to get us there are today’s new progressives.

Let’s Go Deep – The Destruction of Democracy

There is a narrative out there, one I happen to think is true, that we are on the road to losing our democracy. We have a narcissist child President with a pathological need for lying, who has demonstrated his racism, ignorance, and nativism on numerous occasions, elected by a minority of the people. But I think we could solve that if our institutions and norms were not under assault.

Harvard professors of government Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have studied the demise of elected democracies around the world. In a new book, How Democracies Die, they argue that too many American politicians, including President DFF (I call him Trump DFF, Dumb Fat F*ck because, well isn’t it obvious?), are violating long-held norms of American democracy, including a respect for the legitimacy of political rivals and a commitment to some restraint in political combat.

They tell us there are four warning signs to determine if a political leader is a dangerous authoritarian:

1. The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules. 2. He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents. 3. He or she tolerates violence. 4. He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media.  

“With the exception of Richard Nixon, no major-party presidential candidate met even one of these four criteria over the last century,” they say, which sounds reassuring. Unfortunately, they have one update: “Donald Trump met them all.”

But that is just the beginning. In the book and in interviews (The best one is a Podcast with Ezra Klein) they tell us is that “the primary way in which democracies have died since the end of the Cold War, over the last 30 years or so, is at the hands of elected leaders (See above), at the hands of governments that were often freely or close to freely elected, who then use democratic institutions to weaken or destroy democracy.”

Now let’s think about that a minute. We know that on many issues the Congress (Republicans who control both chambers) do not represent the will of the people, be that about Dreamers, simple background checks for gun ownership, or Obamacare. Starting with the House of Representatives, the authors above have shown in the next election Democrats could win by a margin of 6 or 7% and still not be in the majority. That is because of gerrymandering. In the Senate as I and many others have shown, representation favors those living in low population/rural/conservative states (two per state regardless of population). The population of California has the same representation in the Senate as Wyoming. Really, the ratio of population is 68:1. And as the authors above pointed out, those Republicans represent a smaller and smaller minority of white people as our country diversifies and grows.

This then actuated the “who then use democratic institutions to weaken or destroy democracy.” We saw it back in 2009 when Mitch McConnell and the Republicans decided to make the filibuster and needing a super majority for any major legislation the tool they would use to make Barack Obama a one-term President. We see it in gerrymandering and the successful attempt to deny President Obama a Supreme Court Justice so they could control the Supreme Court who is today reviewing gerrymandering. We see it in voter ID laws that are now in 30 states that have one and only one aim, to make it harder to vote for those that don’t support their policies. President DFF tried to continue that with his voter commission, but the states rebelled.

Think about purple North Carolina when in the last election their state government changed hands.  So what did the Republicans do?  In a lame duck session they passed laws that hamstrung the new government to benefit themselves.  That is democracy at work?  Where was the norm that the people want a new direction and we should release the reins of control? But still, with all this, our democracy would be self-correcting eventually, because the institutions and the Constitution would hold up and we would swing back the other way, except it isn’t happening. So why is that?

Levitsky and Ziblatt argue that:

To function well, democratic constitutions must be reinforced by two basic norms, or unwritten rules. The first is mutual toleration, according to which politicians accept their opponents as legitimate. When mutual toleration exists, we recognize that our partisan rivals are loyal citizens who love our country just as we do.

The second norm is forbearance, or self-restraint in the exercise of power. Forbearance is the act of not exercising a legal right. In politics, it means not deploying one’s institutional prerogatives to the hilt, even if it’s legal to do so.

Then they catalogue in an interesting way how that mutual toleration and forbearance has eroded.  One of their interesting assertions is that race has played an important role.  As long as the majority say the status quo of racial injustice was okay, we could work together because we had that one mutual interest.  See the formation of the Constitution, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the passing of the voting rights act.  They point out that when South Carolina was Democratic, and Wyoming was Republican, we did have accommodation.  Today both are Republican and mutual toleration and forbearance are gone.

As Republicans represent a smaller and smaller segment of America, “Democrats being a party, essentially, of secular, educated whites and a diversity of ethnic minorities and the Republicans being a fairly homogeneous white, Protestant party, or white Christian party, the Republicans have basically come to represent a former ethnic majority in decline. You have many – certainly not all – but many Republican voters who feel like the country that they grew up with, or grew up in, is being taken away from them. And that can lead to pretty extremist views and voting patterns.

And they weren’t afraid to point who started this cycle of extremism:

We think that the most egregious sort of pushing of the envelope began with Republicans, particularly in the 1990s and that the most egregious acts of hardball have taken place at the hands of Republicans. I’ll just list four – the partisan impeachment of Bill Clinton, the 2003 mid-district redistricting in Texas, which was pushed by Tom DeLay, the denial – essentially, the theft of a Supreme Court seat with the refusal to even take up the nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 and the so-called legislative coup pulled off by the Republican-controlled legislature in North Carolina in 2016. Those are among the most egregious acts of constitutional hardball that we see in the last generation, and they’re all carried out by Republicans.

Of course that does not include President DFF and the total capitulation of the Republicans in Congress to violate norms and the rule of law to try to tarnish and end the Mueller investigation.  The release of an obviously (from FBI statements) inaccurate and politicized Nunes Memo that could damage national security, destroy trust in government, is really the last straw. With all this, Levitsky and Ziblatt argue that if Democrats follow the same scorched earth policies of the Republicans, we lose democracy.  Here is where we part company.

Democrats are beginning to respond in kind. Their recent filibuster triggering a government shutdown took a page out of the Gingrich playbook. And if they retake the Senate in 2018, there is talk of denying President Trump the opportunity to fill any Supreme Court vacancy. This is a dangerous spiral.

American democracy retains important sources of strength, including vast national wealth, a vibrant media and civil society, and a robust judiciary and rule of law. But the norms that once protected our institutions are coming unmoored. President Trump has accelerated this norm erosion, but he didn’t start it. Intensifying polarization, driven by an extremist Republican Party, is making constitutional hardball a new norm for party politics.

The lessons of history are clear. Extreme polarization can wreck even established democracies. America is no exception. As long as Americans do not overcome their deepening partisan animosities, democracy remains at risk — President Trump or no President Trump.

I have been arguing for years that Republicans no longer represent legitimate partners in a democracy and we should treat them as such.  Not to do so turns our democracy into a wrecking machine. There is a difference between Democrats and Republicans that Levitsky and Ziblatt, as a bipartisan writing team, I don’t think recognize yet.  Democrats don’t usually lie and they believe in facts and science to inform their policies.  That actually leads to rational debate within the Democratic Party on the way forward.

Republicans through their use of Fox news , Right wingthink tanks and media create an alternate reality that does not allow for data, facts, and science, only dogma.  Their ignoring of the threat to America by Russia and following in line behind President DFF is just the latest proof of how illegitimate they are as defenders of the Constitution.

Now in the podcast I cited above, they argued that as the Republicans go further off the rails, the other side, as hard as that argument is to make, must be the adult in the room to save democracy with this argument:  Republicans have valid points of view that should be respected.  They used abortion which Republicans see as murder as an example.  We Democrats should respect that.

Okay, but in that argument they ignore what science tells us about the fetus and abortion, or that nature as a natural process aborts millions more that we ever do in a hospital. Finally and most importantly, Democrats giveRepublicans the right not to have one, to choose to or not to.  Republicans want to take their religious belief and force it down our throats using government, not moral arguments, to end abortions way past what science tells us is necessary.  That is fundamentally different than respecting a point of view.  It is capitulating to their intolerance in defiance of facts, data, and science.

I believe that while I understand their academic view of what is necessary for a democracy, seeing your opponent as legitimate and displaying forbearance, can only apply when your opponent is legitimate, that facts, science, and data can in fact inform an argument and lead to a resolution.  We no longer have in America rational debate.  We have one side creating a propaganda machine to change our perception of reality to maintain their hold power.

There is only one legitimate political party in our two-party system, the Democrats, and quite frankly that is where you will find real debates about the limits of government, the economy, action on global warming, tax reform, immigration policy, and many more issues.  On the other side we have dogma and misdirection to consolidate power, using the levers of a democracy to kill it.  Forbearance my ass.

I think the Democratic Party has to play hardball with an irrational foe.  The damage that we are seeing to institutions as the Republicans in Congress co-opt their need for control and power over good government, can no longer be forbeared.  Democrats can no longer act and look powerless as the truculent child acts freely to destroy our country.  The difference here is the Democrats will utilize facts, data, and science to attack Republicans, and no longer show restraint and forbearance in the face of bold lies.

There is one other dynamic that may be in play here, the Republicans have policies that facts, data, and science show us will badly damage America. As the damage builds up, maybe the radical right will come to their senses.  In the meantime, Democrats have to recognize that their political foe is no longer as Levitsky and Ziblatt argue worthy of tolerance and forbearance.  They lost that respect when they embarked on a fact free and propaganda mission to take over the government.  It is really time to fight back.


The Democrat’s Never Stop Repeating the Same Mistake Over and Over

There is an insightful article in the NYT about how Senator Jeff Flake’s withdrawal from the Senate race next year has thrown both parties into disarray. Let this set the tone:

Establishment Democrats have high hopes for Representative Kyrsten Sinema, a centrist who recently dined in the Blue Room of the White House with President Trump, teaches a bipartisan spin class in the House gym and has broken ranks with her own party on key votes. She was one of only seven House Democrats, for example, who voted to create a select committee to investigate the 2012 attack on the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

But those impulses toward bipartisanship have soured Arizona progressives against the candidacy of an openly bisexual woman who would seem to fit the liberal mold.

“There are issues, murmurs within grass-roots groups and the progressive community, the environmental community and others, including immigration advocates,” said Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona and a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who is withholding his endorsement of her.

Yesterday in a casual discussion with a conservative friend I heard that old foolish refrain that all we need is both sides to work together and both parties are controlled by the extremes. Now nothing could be further from the truth, and this is the false equivalency that has produced our stalemated and stagnant government*, where we fail to assign the blame and government in general suffers. When was the last time the Democrats worked with Republicans (this crazed mob) and it has worked well for them?  Remember the tax cuts under Bush and the ballooning deficti?

In fact, we just the lost the last election (sans the Russians and Comey) because the Democrats have become too much like the Republicans. Who knows what they stand for any more, and the above story is another, let’s cater to bad ideas because it might appeal to moderates who have those bad ideas. That would be the “let’s just all hold hands and work together” fools.

What we have here is, and I know I am beating this to death, a failing economy and a dumbed down electorate, courtesy of the Republicans. What you say! How can the economy be failing when the stock market is at record highs? So who is benefiting? As our current economic system’s structure favors the 1%, the rest of us are not gaining and the numbers show that most people do not believe their kids will be better off than they are. Moderate establishment Democrats are part of this problem and what we see from the above, is more of the same, again not recognizing that conservative economic and social dogma is the problem, but let’s work with them, right? We can get elected and then stand for nothing and change nothing substantial.

Also on the second part of my assertion, that Republicans have dumbed down our electorate, have you seen our president? The “deplorable base”, that is about 38% of the population either does not care that he lies and misstates the facts or they believe them. These are the global warming deniers, believe blaming immigrants or building a wall solves all problems, and believe Trump actually has business acumen is stead of an old fashioned con artist. The real test here is when the truth is exposed, as it is everyday, they don’t care. But they control the Republican Party, hence why Flake is getting out. Conservative as he is, he can’t stomach their ignorance and antisocial behavior.

Now we got Trump because the Republicans went on a dumbing down campaign of noise over the last 30 years that the media magnified as they loved to cover noise instead of substance. Equivalency awarded to science deniers. Equivalency awarded to a shouting contest without interjecting data and facts. Treating facts as opinions. That is how we got here, and like the big tobacco companies denying the cancer link to cigarettes, the Republicans took their cues from them. And conservative who rue the day Trump came on the scene, created the path for him to follow. There are no moderate or principled Republicans that do not have full responsibility for the DFF.

Now we have a Congress controlled and elected by that 38% that the media and the Republicans created. So Democrats should elect someone who will work with them (read capitulate)? There is a basic truth here that no one is talking about yet, except of course for Bernie and Progressives, that the system is broken. That conservatives have had us on the wrong path, even the moderate ones, and establishment Democrats are just culpable. I have argued before what is wrong and what needs to be done. There is a great study from The Roosevelt Institute that lays out the changes we have to make to return our nation to one of rational debate, based upon facts and science, not ideological dogma. It tells us how to change the rules of our economic system to more equitably share the profits and make us all better off, not just the 1%.

Progressive are starting to make those arguments. Electing people who go to work in Congress to work with failure will simply bring us failure. It is time for real change based upon a common set of facts and a vision. That is the way forward and I fear the Democrats are becoming superfluous if they continue this pandering to bad ideas and polls instead of making the arguments to change the system. It is ideas that will drive change, not compromise to failed ideas. The young get it, and those in failed economies (manufacturing) get it. Maybe it is time for a little soul searching by establishment Democrats.

*I could go back over how many times the Democrats came to the table and tried to compromise with the Republicans, but instead of boring you to death, let’s just look at recent history.  Most Americans want Obamacare fix, not destroyed.  How did the Republicans proceed?  With a plan no one could see or amend, and while claiming Democrats would not work them, they lined up to work with them, but the plan was never to compromise or fix Obamacare because dogma requires them to return to the old failed market place system.  Tax “reform” is following the same game plan.  Hide the plan, have no way to pay for it and hope a couple of Democrats will like tax cuts for the wealthy if it somehow helps them.  Real tax reform is hard and will take years.  That is not what we are seeing here.  The Republican ideology is small government, unregulated markets, and tax cuts alway stimulate the economy when the evidence is overwhelming this is a disaster except in a few anedotal cases. There is no equilancy here and asserting it is destroying the country because we fail to see the problem.

Sherrod Brown Just Made My Point

Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was just on Meet the Press responding to Chuck Todd’s question about what the Democrats stand for except against Trump.  Sadly he failed miserably at the task and failed to really understand the question.  He kept pointing out where he stood on issues when that was not the question at all.  And when he did respond on the issues, well sadly it was against Trump, not a cohesive strategic view of the future that Democrats can sell to America.  It was a jumble of policies that are hardly believable in light of the last eight years and the failure of that tactic.

The Democratic Neo-liberal* approach has failed.  The idea that the system just needs tweaks with new policies to protect the working man, and minority rights does not sell.  The message of the last election was loud and clear, a rejection of the present system represented by both sides.  Now, I don’t mean to disparage Senator Brown as his heart is in the right place, but he represents loud and clear the message that Democrats don’t seem to be getting, where is the strategic vision that tells me you understand that our economic system is failing, that it only works for a few?

So my point that Sherrod Brown made was that they are never going to get it.  They are the problem.  They are too wedded to the status quo and cannot see the forest for the trees.  Sorry for all the clichés.  The Democratic Party must be Tea Partied, just as the Republicans were, but in this case with clear-eyed Progressives who see that the Establishment Democrats are the problem.

*”During the 1990s, the Clinton Administration also embraced neoliberalism by supporting the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, continuing the deregulation of the financial sector through passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and the repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act, and implementing cuts to the welfare state through passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. The neoliberalism of the Clinton Administration differs from that of Reagan, as the Clinton Administration purged neoliberalism of neoconservative positions on militarism, family values, opposition to multiculturalism and neglect of ecological issues.”

Democrats became enamored of Wall Street and bought into the idea that innovation is the way forward and education will solve all problems.  They still don’t recognize that while the capitalist system is the best way forward, it has to be controlled sufficiently so that wealth generation is not its sole focus, and the benefits are shared more fairly across the entire population.

Friday and Nonsense.

Well the big news is Sean Spicer quit. Let the bullshit flow. This is a quote: “Sean Spicer is a patriot”. “He had a tough job, maybe impossible, and he did well.” “It wasn’t his fault, but the bosses.” Oh bull shit. He started the first day coming out and trying to lie to us about crowd size. That is not patriotism unless you define patriotism and faithful to a Village Idiot. Your job is to try to paint the news and events to the benefit of your boss, but not to outright lie, and lie and misinform they did from the White House podium. Oh, but poor Sean, he was just trying to do his job. His job as an American was to quit on day one.

Now I would say that Sean has one and only one shot at redemption and a decent income. Come over from the dark side. Tell the truth about what went on and be an honest broker on the news media talking heads show. I doubt he will do it. May he live in poverty then. The press tries to explain this as this has never happened before but the Village Idiot is an unconventional president. Horse shit! He is abnormal, cruel, vindictive, insecure, and unstable. If the press does not keep trying to paint this as “just different” instead of hurtful to the country, it may be time to turn them all off.

Now let’s move on to healthcare. Republicans are fucked, and quite frankly they fucked themselves. They hated Obama so much that when he gave them the conservative plan for healthcare, Obamacare, they spent the next 7 years sullying it and poisoning the well. Obamacare was the conservative plan for healthcare, so now they got nothing. They got nothing because they keep trying to deny how insurance works. They keep believing that choice will solve all problems instead of turning healthcare into niche markets where good profits can be made (healthy or rich people) and low margins for everyone else where premiums will soar. But they deny all this and push a free ride market solution that has never ever worked.

Okay, why are they fucked? Well because they promised to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better and they simply can’t. Okay, then repeal it, right? Well that makes the nutso base happy (until they get sick), but now a lot of those Republicans who elected them and the Village Idiot, understand they do not want to lose what they gained under Obamacare, so just fix the bad stuff, right? Okay, first part is that if you do that, you piss off the nutsos (see Rand Paul). Those nutsos are the difference between another term in office and being primaried. But you might lose the general if you just repeal it because the people you alienate might vote Democratic. Fixing the bad stuff means you have to recognize how insurance works and that is the bad stuff they want to get rid of (individual mandate, minimum requirements, and the healthy help subsidize the unhealthy). So there is no Republican fix, and how do you expand individual exchanges except by strengthening the subsidies for a sicker rural population or offering Medicare for all?

So they lied and lied and lied about healthcare and now have no where to turn. Add to that fix for some Republicans means get rid of federal involvement totally, while to others it actually means fix the problems, which they have no answers for. See why this is a mess for them? Now Democrats are going to get brought in after next weeks failed vote and the key to Democratic success (and little d democratic success), and healthcare success is that Democrats come up with a real definition of fix. They may be starting to, but it still looks like a herd of cats. Republicans have been pushing the line that unlike Democrats, they will involve them in the process this time. That is a lie on two fronts. First they totally cut out Democrats and then did not want a debate. Here is what really happened on Obamacare. Note there were 100 Republican amendments to Obamacare, that they still voted against. They can’t help themselves, they have created such a mess they must lie.

A friend of mine sent me a editorial by J.D. Vance of Hillbilly Elegy fame, that argues that Republicans need to recognize that the world has changed, people want healthcare, and Obamacare fixed, and we should accept some government intervention and argue how to best fix it. In the interest of full disclosure, I thought Hillbilly Elegy was very good at identifying the real issues facing real people and how Democrats had closed their minds to them, but then too easily forgave their moronic choice. I think he is right here, but only partially. Republicans have created the hate government, Obamacare is evil mentality with their base and rational thought will not prevail now. Or quoting Dr. Frankenstein, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”

Sadly, the easy solution is to agree to what fix means, then argue about the possible solutions understanding the basics of how insurance works. Republicans cannot agree on what fix means so it will fail next week. Then they will try to bring in the Demos to spread the blame, and there is no fix. There is no fix because Republicans cannot afford to do the things that will fix it. And as I argued to my friend, yes there are some rational Republicans, but they don’t hold office and are answerable to the white mob they created. The only progress will happen when Americans come to their senses and vote this new Republican out of office.

In the meantime, are you holding your breath to see what the Village Idiot will do next? Can we get through the weekend with another shoe dropping? I doubt it. We elected an unstable, ignorant, pathological liar and he is getting cornered. Shoes will soon be flying every which way.

Are Democrats Tired of Losing Yet?

So fire Pelosi, get an economic message (hopefully progressive), and get better candidates.  At least that is what is in the air these days.  I myself have argued that Nancy has to go, not because she has not been an effective leader, but because she represents the past.  I still stand by that.  Economic inequality is the issue of our times and is at the root of most other issues.  And it speaks across all divides, white working class, Latinos, blacks, you name it.  Of course there is a caveat here in that Black Lives Matters went after Bernie when he tried to explain that this was their issue too.  I personally can see Bernie’s point, but I am not black and I don’t live in a nation of systemic racism. But the answer is not pandering to blocks of voters, but a message that crosses all lines, while addressing systemic racism.

The last five elections went after Republicans in safe Republican districts who were appointed to the Cabinet and needed replacements in their districts. And when in doubt, Republicans vote Republican.  So yesterday I heard an argument that makes perfect sense.  Why spend all that money going after Republicans to vote Democratic (no matter how bad the VicLic* is) when Democrats in this country don’t vote and the real issue is to get out the vote?

Why waste time and money in districts safely Republican trying to turn Republicans into voting Democrat when the real issue is getting out the Democratic vote.  It could be argued that all the money spent in Georgia could have been used to register voters and get them to the polls in South Carolina, and that race could have been won. Democrats are making gains on Republicans and if moderates** find a reason to vote for them, they would sweep all elections. Also note that the VicLic lost the popular vote.  We just need to start really pushing that trend.

I found the argument highly persuasive.  If you are looking for a Democratic strategy that could redefine the party and start turning government around it would be this:

  1. A Focused economic message on economic inequality and the progressive way forward to deal with it.
    1.  Tax reform to increase revenue to the treasury while de-incentivizing benefits for the wealthy and off shoring wealth/jobs***
    2. A jobs program focused on infrastructure***
    3. An Energy program that rewards alternate energy, creates innovation and jobs (see solar)
    4. Equal rights and equal pay for women (and freedom of choice)
    5. Single Payer Health Care Option with defined benefits
    6. Affordable higher education for all
    7. Retraining and support for those left behind should they choose to quit voting for the past and help themselves
    8. Expand Social Security (reform the tax law)
    9. Raise the minimum wage
    10. Reform Wall Street Rules and Banks to ensure a fairer distribution of profits and reduce risk
    11. Ensuring full access to all of citizens with aggressive enforcement where discrimination is exposed
    12. Immigration reform that allows workers more easy access to jobs and then can go home if they choose (note recognizing that immigrants whether legal or otherwise actually help our economy)
  2. New leadership that no only embodies these Progressive ideas, but represents real change in the party
  3. A focused approach to registering voters and fighting voter suppression
  4. Focus on getting Democrats out to the polls, not trying to change Republican’s minds in Republican strongholds.  Many Southern states are ripe for this approach
  5. Major recruitment effort, not finding candidates who can pander to Republican Lite, but embrace all the goals under 1 above.
  6. In Summary, stand for something and be clear about it where ever you run an election

Did I miss anything?  The Democratic Party has lost seats and power in government from controlling all branches of the federal government to being totally out of power in 8 short years (and they got very little done that is not being undone).  In state governments the losses just pile up.

So maybe just working harder with the same leaders, with the same approach, we will just explain it to you Lucy, with a big tent, and trying to pander to certain voters as opposed to standing on principles is not the way to go.  You think?

Finally I will leave you with the Republican Healthcare Bill.  It has nothing to do with healthcare, it is a tax reform bill to gut benefits to the poor and pass them on to the rich.  If you can’t figure that out, you should not be reading this blog.  It will be interesting to see what happens next week.  If it passes, the Republicans will have a real albatross around their necks.  Reality will slowly sink in on what they did.  If it doesn’t pass, maybe the voters will figure out that the Republicans cannot fix healthcare, nor will they compromise with Democrats for fixes that would work.  They will then just continue their sabotage program and hope it fails leaving millions out in the cold.  The deserve it anyway right?

*VicLic – Village Idiot-in-Chief/Liar-in-Chief

**Here is an interesting look at moderates and how they vote. The mistake the article makes is to believe what moderates tell them, that they want more middle ground and compromise, and Democrats would be wise to not go too liberal.  It is a mistake because as always no one takes into account how far right the Republicans have gone.  Does meaning too liberal mean to give up policy ideas that will work.  Did we not learn anything from the last 8 years on Republicans not compromising with us?  No, Democrats need to forget about pandering and establish an agenda that works for our future whether that is seen as too liberal or not.  It is not about getting elected, it is about fixing our country.  The Republicans got elected and took over government by not compromising on anything.  Now they are wreaking havoc.  Let’s fight with ideas that work and we believe in, not polls about how people think we ought to vote.

***The issue here is to get economically conservative voters to realize that the debt is not in itself bad. See Saturday, Healthcare, Economic Conservatives, and The Village Idiot.


Well, there are no tapes!  Actually, we don’t really know that.  What we know is there may or may not be tapes, but if they exist, they back up Comey’s testimony.  This answer was always a forgone conclusion and no one should be surprised.  The VicLic now pretends he did not start the rumor and one has to wonder for what purpose would you do that but to intimidate, which of course, backfired.  So on one hand you have the Liar in Chief, and on the other you have the Village Idiot in Chief.  Nice to know in one episode he can display both of his major character traits.

Then we have the Republican healthcare bill which is of course a disaster.  It is basically gutting Medicare so if you are old, kiss it goodbye.  And this for a tax cut for the wealthy.  Republicans have no interest in providing healthcare for anyone.  Their social Darwinism just assumes sick people deserve to be sick.  President Obama came out of his cave and Facebooked this:

Former President Barack Obama on Thursday slammed Republicans over the Senate’s legislation to repeal Obamacare, saying it will “do you harm.” Obama defended the Affordable Care Act in a statement posted on Facebook and urged Republicans and Democrats to reach a compromise. “The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill,” Obama said. “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else.” Republican senators hope to vote on the legislation next week, but at least four have said they would not support it.

Now in this is a truth and a giant lie. The truth is that it is nothing more than a massive transfer of wealth.  The lie is that somehow compromise is possible and this assumption is at the basis of all of the Democrat’s failures.  It has always been President Obama’s Achilles Heel in that he thought rational analysis and dialogue with the other side would produce compromise.  Democrats and Republicans are not going to compromise on health care, EVER!

Up to now Republicans have pushed out Demos and don’t give me the BS that that is what the Demos did in Obamacare.  They had a year to debate and add amendments of which over 100 Republican amendments were added, which they then turned around and voted against the bill.  So quit pretending the other side wants health care.  They want to end Obamacare and get lots of money for tax cuts and they cannot figure out a way to do that and keep their promises on keeping the good stuff and reducing costs.  The system is now collapsing because the Republicans kicked the support out from under the exchanges when they put the whole thing at risk.

And that is the challenge for the Democrats.  They just can’t seem to bring them to say the obvious about Republicans or admit that the only solution to Obamacare is a public option.  If you increase the risk pool you can lower costs by spreading them around, and keep the stuff that costs money.  So mandatory insurance and expand the health exchanges with a public option is the primary solution with cost controls and drug company negotiations thrown in.  It really is that simple and there is no other solution.  But Democrats just can’t seem to say that and Republicans will never allow it.  Ergo, there is no comprised fix.  Why not just draw the line and stand for something?

That brings me to my final topic of which the healthcare debate is such a giant example of what is wrong with Democratic Party.  Let me start with this:  Pelosi has to go.  So do most other leaders in the Democratic Party.  They have led us nowhere.  I personally think Nancy is a great American and a soldier, but, and this is where the healthcare debate comes in, who do we see attacking the Republican Senate health plan. Old people. And what do they offer.  Well they don’t want to alienate anyone so single payer is never going to come up.  But it is the only thing that will work and they just look feckless and out of touch.

The Democratic Party needs a new direction and a real strategic plan*.  That plan has to be built not on pandering to different voters in different regions who love coal, or want white power, or who is LGBT, but what we believe in and what works.  Either we believe in global warming and solutions or not. It is not some halfway for coal states. Either we believe in a woman’s right to choose, or we don’t.  There is not middle ground over there.  We are already standing on the middle ground on this one, as people have a right to choose.  No one is forced to do anything.  We either believe in progressive ideas about education, healthcare, and the economy or not.  That middle ground everyone talks about where we all get along is Republican Lite that has failed over and over and over and over again.

The silver lining in the losses last week, are that Democrats got another wakeup call after they ignored the one on Hillary.  In the meantime, the Republicans read the election as a referendum on the VicLic so now instead of holding back, they are all in.  It sets up the winning environment if Democrats can get their heads out of their ass.  First come out with a basic Democratic Bill of Rights for what we believe in.  Based upon that, what is our strategic plan to achieve it? Second, bring forward new leadership who are your vibrant speakers for that economic and social plan (Warren and others?).  Until you do that, it is lipstick on a pig.  Meanwhile, hanging on to the VicLic is the road to a disaster environmentally, economically, and in World politics.  It is coming.  So if Democrats finally figure out who they are and get ready, we could really turn this thing around.

*Note that in Georgia and other races the Republicans ran agains Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.  “Really?  You would vote for a DEMOCRAT?”

The Democrat they are describing and the ones I hear about from conservatives where I live don’t exist.  It is the myth of a Democrat crafted so carefully over 30 years or more as a feckless lover of big government that wants to tax, tax, tax, and spend, spend, spend.  If you examine the real record, it has been Republicans who have caused the greatest increases in our deficit (if you are afraid of the deficit), and the economy has done better under Democrats.  Those are just facts, but that is not the fantasy Democrat that the Republicans created to bring Big Government into your lives.

It plays right into the healthcare debate when everyone forgets how the market place has screwed us over the years.  It is time to take that false construct head on and really paint Republicans for who they are, using Government to increase economic inequality.  Democrats so far don’t seem to know how to take that on yet, at least the old ones.  They need a face lift and it can’t be done under old leadership that has too much history.

The Loss in Georgia

Well one has to find the silver lining in a loss, but this will not be the one you are expecting (Democrat gave real chase).  The silver lining is that a win there would have put Republicans on guard, and Democrats resting on their laurels.  I have not commented about this race because I don’t think you win it by throwing money at it or in running against The Village Idiot in Chief.  Hillary should have taught Democrats that lesson.

One Democrat was notably absent from this election and that was Bernie who at one point was not sure Ossoff was progressive enough.  Democrats have this fatal flaw that when they go into Red Districts they try to go Republican Lite.  You know, that big tent bullshit that they lose on every single time.  When Bill Clinton went right, he won and we are still cleaning up the mess of moving the Democratic Party right. 

The lesson here should be that if you want a Republican, vote Republican, and that is what they do.  What Democrats are missing is a basic message about economic inequality and social justice, including women’s right to choose.  If you think you can win by pointing out that the Commander in Chief is looney, but have no basic message about what your party stands for other than holding hands and working together (which will never happen), and you can be a kinda conservative, well the wreckage stretches back all the way to Tennessee, when Alison Lundgren Grimes went soft on coal and played Republican Lite to crash and burn.

Democrats need to quit worrying about big tent or winning back the white stupid vote.  They need to sit down and come up with a strategic plan for dealing with economic inequality that stretches from healthcare to jobs and women’s right to choose.  It really is that simple.  The key to winning for Democrats is getting out the vote and not pandering to stupid has always failed.  Republican extremism we have now, even surplanted by Republican Lite will not be an answer for our future.  It will become obvious in the next couple of years.  Democrats better have an alternative.  Bernie has a pretty good one.

UPDATE:  Frank Bruni wrote a column this morning which missed the point:

The party has been bitterly divided over whether that route should veer toward the left, which is where Bernie Sanders is beckoning it, or toward the center. Ossoff chose the latter, electing not to put his chips on the demonization of Trump, lest he offend all the district voters who had put faith in the president. His positions, in aggregate, were moderate.

I think that was the right call, given the demographics of this district, in the northern Atlanta suburbs. It’s no lefty enclave.

Again, it is pander to the voters in a certain area instead of a message and platform for the future.  Democrats need to decide what works (Progressivism) in our future and then start to rebulid the Democratic base.  Otherwise you lose.  Oh, and it is called leadership.  Finally here is one readers comment which I could not agree with more:

Once again the national Democratic Party blew it with millions spent here in Georgia on meaningless negative ads that were repeated ad nauseum. For the same reasons that Hillary lost , now Ossoff lost. No clear message of Democratic accomplishments and long term goals that benefit all strata of society as well as conveying the corruption of the GOP in D.C.. Instead ten times in a half hour we had “DCC” ads about Handel driving a state purchased Lexus and ordering chairs for $15,000 while the state had a budget crisis a decade ago when she was secretary of state. Did we hear about the corruption of the Trump administration and Handel’s support of Trump? Not really. Or better yet about the insider trading of Tom Price whose vacant seat was up for grabs? No. Or did we hear about how the 6th District was gerrymandered so as to make it nearly impossible for a Democrat to win?

Friday Morning (WTF?)

Well, what a mess. I mean really.  The Brits were supposed to have a “snap” election to clarify things and instead there is total confusion about the country’s direction.  Here at home we have a village idiot where it is now common for respected journalists and public figures to commonly call him a liar.  So the British Empire and one of its former colonies is running amok, and France and one of their former colonies, Canada, seem to have young vivacious leaders who have a vision of the future.  WTF.

Our Republican Congress is patting themselves on the back because they passed a bill to repeal most of the protections put in place to try to restore Dodd-Frank after the great financial debacle in 2007 when we thought the banks would not over extend themselves in the hunt for profits.  Like it won’t happen again?  And since corporate profits are higher than ever, where is the need for this?  I kind of look at this as part and parcel of putting a village idiot in charge of the country.  We just de-regulate everything and business will take care of all of us, like they always have.  Again, WTF.

Meanwhile the VIIC (Village Idiot in Charge) really got slammed in the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday and he responds with accusations of lies, fake news, and vindication.  Boy do we live in two different realities.  Just for a reality check image, if this was Hillary doing this, would the Republicans be claiming that she is just inexperienced to the ways of Washington and did not really mean, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest.”  This is laughable.  Paul Ryan is telling us that the VIIC just doesn’t understand the ways of Washington, “He is just new at this,” which might work on the unwashed (his base), but for the rest of us, what he is talking about is ethics and morality.  And no, he does not understand ethics and morality.  If that quote by Paul Ryan was not a WTF moment, there simply aren’t any.

So what to expect after the big day?  Well, the quiet before the storm.  First, I can’t wait for the morning White House briefing to see how they reinvent reality.  Of course they may not turn on the cameras and if that is not a WTF moment about what is happening to our country, there aren’t any.  My guess here is that the VIIC and his minions will claim vindication, that there is no connection between the VIIC and the Russia investigations, and then we are sitting on a smoldering volcano.  That volcano is all the people with security clearances that know what is going on, and know we can’t keep pushing this under the rug and let the VIIC lie his way to giving away the country.  See Reality Winner.

That raises a whole host of WTF questions.  We knew probably back in 2015 that we were being hacked, and by 2016 we knew it was a full blown attack, and we said nothing?  Sorry it’s secret.  We can’t know we are under attack because it might reveal sources?  It raises the question which is worse, the disease or the cure.  So we find out in drips and drabs from leaks or being told by our allies who are concerned about the number of contacts of Trumps people with the Russians*.  We can’t know if there was real collusion because there is an ongoing investigation, while the perpetrators destroy the country?  WTF.  We can’t even know when we will know.  Again, WTF.  Thank god for the leakers.

So we have a President who has attempted to obstruct justice (Ignore Alan Dershowitz.  Like John McCain he is well past his prime).  You know it is nonsense when you Goggle it and all you get are right wing propaganda organizations (Brietbart etc.)), some very obvious collusion, and to nail the VIIC all you have to do is quote his sons or follow the money.  Hopefully that is what special counsel Robert Mueller is doing.  But you have to wonder what the Republicans are thinking (Republicans/thinking, is that an oxymoron?).

The case is getting bigger and bigger and if Mueller does his job sooner or later the truth will out.  And if he does not, there will be a revolt in government to get the truth out.  We may already be seeing the signs of a real crisis in government as those tasked to carry it out no longer trust either their leaders or the VIIC.  So how do they backtrack after all the cover they are providing the VIIC?  Are they so enthralled with their ideological agenda that they don’t care in the short term?  Watching them equivocate about the VIICs behavior is watching fat old white men (usually with a southern accent, but not always) is just another WTF moment except of course for the unwashed who suck in every word as the obvious truth.

And that leaves me with my last WTF thought:  Where the fuck are the Democrats?  Thomas Edsal delivers a devastating analysis of the state of the Party.  Now you can do one of two things with this analysis.  The first is what Democrats have always done and has, in my opinion, destroyed the Party (See Bill Clinton and the Democrats turn to conservative politics) and that is chase the numbers.  By that I mean, well if whites are afraid of immigration maybe we ought to pander to that, you know, be Republican lite.

The other option is to recognize it is a new world out there, understand the message of the young disaffected voter, and turn progressive.  Stand for something in a direction that actually moves the country instead of looking backwards.  Do the hard thing, the right thing and stand for something. So far I have seen or felt nothing.  Clearly we have to get the Clintons off the stage if we want to move forward. She may have been wronged, but moving forward is not opening old wounds.  So all in all we are living in amazing WTF times.  Let’s just hope this is not the new normal and to be WTF, they get even more extreme.

*Ex-Director Comey said in his testimony that these reports of multiple contacts was mostly false.  Nobody knows what he means by that and the NYT wrote a nice rebuttal.  One of the points they raised is that the FBI has a much tighter definition of a Soviet spy than other organizations, meaning they may discount meetings with bank and financial people that are really puppets of the Kremlin.   This is where Comey is his own worst enemy.  He is parsing definitions and loses the big picture, just as he did with the October surprise.