blueollie

Democrats: offer a “yea” vote on AHCA if they remove the tax cuts

Let’s be blunt: the AHCA (aka “Turtlecare”, “Cheetocare”) is nothing more than a repeal of the high end tax hikes on the well-to-do. Period. The rest is to make reconciliation work.

So, let the Democrats in the Senate offer to back the Senate version if The Turtle takes out those tax cuts.

Play chicken with ’em.

Note: I hate The Turtle (aka Sen. McConnell) but he is a sharp politician; evidently he set it up so that wavering Republican Senators can get political cover by suggesting small (but inconsequential) amendments.

June 22, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | , , | Leave a comment

Democratic infighting…

Yes, though we are still smarting the close losses (yes, the 4 special elections were from “safe Republican” districts), one thing that we cannot lose sight of is that “the candidate matters”. People might yell that “a Berniebro would have won” or “this policy” or “that policy” might have one. I am NOT saying that “messaging isn’t important”; it is. But the candidate matters, and politics requires skill, just like other professions. Some people are naturally better at it. And the campaign itself matters.

And when the election is in a “safe Republican” district, often a strong, naturally talented candidate is NOT recruited (who wants to do a fool’s errand?) and IF it turns out that it is a competitive race, well, that is an opportunity lost. This may have happened in Georgia-6, which WAS a tough race for a Democrat.

But of course, Democrats are fighting among themselves.

One issue: should we continue to back Nancy Pelosi to be the Democratic House leader? My thoughts: yes, her feat of getting the ACA passed, IMHO, made her an all time great Speaker of the House. That was quite a feat.

But is her time past? Aside from being good at fundraising, she really hasn’t accomplished that much as the Democratic leader. I think we could argue that it is a time for a change.

BUT, this puts back into the “Bernie vs. Hillary” territory.

There is a large contingent of women who see misogyny everywhere; having anything resembling a rational discussion with some of the more strident members is impossible. Any push-back on their ideas or pointing out an (apparent) flaw will be called “mansplaining”.

I found it is just best to avoid them completely.

Anyway, these types see any movement to get Pelosi to step aside as a type of misogyny. That is not where I am coming from; I am fine with the next House leader being female; in fact, when I say “we need new blood”, I fully expect that this new blood will heavily consist of women and men of color.

Example: though she is a Senator, Sen. Harris might be part of the wave of the future.

But as far as leadership of the House Democrats: our own Cheri Bustos might be a candidate. She might lack the national stature AT THIS TIME, but that can change.

But yeah, there we are in our party: white vs. black, women vs. men, the “middle to upper middle class” vs. the poor. And there are the regional issues: what works in San Francisco and in Vermont might not play in Central Illinois. We have to be flexible and understand that whoever emerges as our candidate in 2020 will NOT be everything everyone wants.

Now who? I like Sen. Warren, but she really lacks that “show-biz” part that I think a national candidate needs to excite people. She is tough, smart, and knows the issues inside and out. But I see her as lacking “charisma from the podium”; that is something that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have.

I think that Sen. Booker has it; I wonder if Sen. Harris has it (maybe?). We shall see.

June 22, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, social/political | Leave a comment

Moving forward…

Yes, Democrats lost 4 special elections: in Georgia, South Carolina, Kansas and in Montana. They won one in California.

The Republican special elections came about because a GOP Congressman resigned to take a post in the Trump administration, so these were considered “safe Republican seats”. They proved to be very competitive, and the margin in the Georgia and South Carolina races were less than 4 points.

So, these elections were encouraging but frustrating. Yes, there is some finger pointing going on and some Republican taunting.

So, do these results mean anything? And how do we move forward?

Here is what I take away from it:

1. Trump has weakened the enthusiasm of some Republicans, but not nearly the majority of them. And tribal identity remains strong. Running to the left in such districts isn’t going to work, at least in terms of getting some Republican voters or “Republican leaning” voters to switch.

2. Yes, we need to get more people to the polls, but I doubt that Bernie Sanders types will do it. At the House level, we need “district appropriate” candidates, including those who can distance themselves from, say Nancy Pelosi. And yes, we need new blood at the leadership levels.

3. At the national level, we need candidates that excite people, and people often get excited by the personality of the candidates, not by proposed policies or platforms. Note this 2008 video, where Obama supporters didn’t know the basics of his positions.

Identity has a LOT to do with it, and do not trust the voters to know the basics. In general, they don’t.

And public expressions of anger really do not convince anyone to switch, though they might be effective in a primary election. Liberal hatred of Trump is a DESIGN FEATURE, not a bug. Count on the Republicans to say “see: the liberals LOATHE Trump, so he must be doing something right”, even as Trump pushes for laws and policies that will hurt their constituents!

June 21, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

How can Democrats do better?

Ok, what do we do in 2018, and in 2020? That is a tough question with no simple answers. These three opinion pieces offer up some ideas, and yes, these pieces offer (sort of) competing ideas, though there is some overlap.

First of all, why did some Obama 2012 voters defect to Trump? One possibility: though they voted Obama in 2012, they still had some resentment toward at least some liberal constituencies (e. g. black people, Muslims, feminists, etc.) But in 2012, the economics won out. In 2016, the “identity” won out. Perhaps that can change in 2020, or even in 2018? Yes, this is a small percentage of voters, but big enough to swing the critical states in 2016.

This makes some sense to me. After all, I don’t like many liberal activists; some of the social justice warriors are, well, loud and clueless. I too get disgusted with the excesses of the political correctness crowd. But, to me, policy wins me over.

Of course, turnout hurt us; many who broadly agree with us don’t show up. The candidates will have to have some show-biz appeal to excite people.

On the other hand, we can’t be too stuck on the current electoral map. After all, I am old enough to remember California and Illinois being Republican states.

Workout notes: 8 mile walk (8.1 Cornstalk course) in 1:58:20 (59:06/59:14) 14:36 pace. It wasn’t much of an effort, though I walked “with purpose”. Cool weather.

June 20, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, politics/social, walking | | Leave a comment

Comey testimony: where will it lead?

Ok, James Comey testified; you can see the full testimony here:

Meanwhile, the Republicans in the Senate worked to get their version of “repeal Obamacare” ready for “fast tracking” and the House worked on their repeal of Dodd-Frank and passed it.

True: both are a long way from becoming law.

So, what political ramifications will Comey’s testimony have?

IMHO: anyone who thinks that Congress will remove Trump from office is smoking crack, as it needs a House majority (possible after the 2018 midterms…possible) and 2/3 of the Senate. Trump will have to do something drastic, such as start a nuclear war, or raise taxes on the rich.

But there are some good things that can come about:

1. The fallout can gum up the works and keep some very bad legislation from being signed into law.
2. This can help with the 2018 midterms: the GOP members of Congress have to worry about the primary election and those who oppose Trump might get challenged from the right wing. And if they support him too much, it can hurt in the general election. We might gain seats.
3. This can really help in 2020; remember how agonizingly close we were in those key states. It won’t take that much to flip them back.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | 1 Comment

Just why is Hillary Clinton hated so much?

I’ve been reading about Hillary Clinton’s very public discussion of her failed campaign. (here and here}

And the two responses tend to be:

1. She was a dreadful candidate; read the book Shattered.
2, Russian collusion and the Comey letter (e. g. unfair playing field)
3. Sexism

Or some mix of 2 and 3.

And her handling of her loss is either:
1. sour grapes from someone incapable of introspection
2. being realistic about the factors.

Personally, I think that it was a mix of things, including taking some parts of some states for granted (sometimes, losing a county 35-65 instead of 30-70 can help you win a state), yes, Russian meddling, the Comey letter (hurt her just enough) and yes, perhaps some sexism.

But why are people so hard on her? My guess: she really came onto the scene as FLOTUS with Bill and, either fair or unfairly, is seen to have risen off of him. This is an Oliphant cartoon from December 2007, just prior to the Iowa caucuses:

I know of no top politician that got thrust into the limelight by their spouse. Sure, George W. is George H. W.’s son, but is really isn’t the same as getting your fame from a spouse who is a generational peer. I wonder if that would have always been a burden for her.

Yes, she has the right to speak her mind, and she still inspires millions. But she won’t be a viable 2020 candidate.

June 3, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, hillary clinton, politics, politics/social | , | Leave a comment

Trump supporter anger…

I am sorry that I deleted an uninvited comment on Facebook. It was from a Trump supporter making the usual stupid “Trump won 30 states” argument (yeah, but so what; it isn’t as if there are many people in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, etc.) and how left wing “hate” will somehow come back to bite us.

Gee, and they are supporting a President who routinely insults private citizens?

It is a bit like this:

But there is really no reasoning with these people. They support a President who understands very little of what he is doing, just says whatever is on his mind and the moment and..well, whatever.

And so, dialogue with the other side is utterly useless. It is best to just change the subject.

So what to do right now?

For one, forget impeachment. Impeachment is really political and we have no chance unless the House flips in 2018. And even then, forget getting 2/3 of the Senate which is required for removal. Best to focus on winning some seats in 2018 and gumming up the works so little gets past Congress.

This does NOT mean that we should not investigate violations of the emoluments clause, obstruction of justice and possible Russian collusion (Russian meddling has been proven).

What I’d wish that we’d all remember is that, as far as political speech and rallies, it isn’t always about “winning converts”. Sometimes it is to energize and rally a dispirited group. So yes, Hillary Clinton speaking out won’t convince any Republicans to abandon ship, nor will it bring the old Bern Victims into line. But it might energize many who still like her (and there are millions who still do). I think that she has a role to play, though that role is NOT to be at the top of the ticket in 2020.

Ok, once in a while, one of them says something funny:
(remember that the Saudis are our new “best buddies”)

June 1, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, hillary clinton, political/social, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Democrats: always a tough sell…

I’ve spent some time on twitter discussing the 2016 election, and the fine line between critiquing the Clinton campaign (which, IMHO, was terrible) and Hillary Clinton herself (yes, I STILL think that she would be a good president) and going over the various factors that worked against her (sexism of some, Russian collusion, Comey’s ill timed letter, and yes, Trump’s campaign skill, which, IMHO, was underrated).

I might post a link to that long twitter conversation because it started with hostility and ended with understanding; I found myself actually liking the people I was talking to. That is always a good thing.

And so that was true…Obama understood the showmanship side of campaigning AND had the knowledge and deportment to be a good president. Trump has only the showmanship to get elected.

But think about what a tough sell the Democrats have. Read the Facebook feed of liberals sometime. What do you see:

1. People advocating for the poor
2. People advocating for those with criminal records (as my IL-House representative is…and she too has a criminal record)
3. People advocating for someone with this disability or that challenge

On the other hand, Republican politicians usually preach “success” and “achievement”. They deride liberals as those who want to take from the successful and give to the losers and slackers.

Now riddle me this: which “club” would YOU rather belong to? And when someone speaks, who would you take more seriously: someone who is chronically on welfare or someone who has some professional success?

Now, yes, there are those with Nobel prizes in subjects (science, economics, medicine) who are liberal and one doesn’t get more successful than that. And many of my liberal friends hold advanced degrees and/or professional credentials. So we have some success on our side too. But the politicians never say “vote Democrat to become more like someone with an advanced degree”; it is almost “vote Democrat to help out some single mom or someone making minimum wage”. Advocating for those on the lower runs of society will always be a very tough sell, IMHO. And at the national level, we are going to need a Bill Clinton /Barack Obama caliber politician to pull it off.

April 20, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, politics/social, social/political | | 2 Comments

Sticky place for Democrats

This isn’t yet another postmortem on the stinging Democratic defeat in 2016. But this is more about “how do we go forward”?

Yes, there is a lot of protest about Trump, but where does this protest come from? My guess: not from Trump voters. 🙂

So, one goes to the rust belt to talk things over with Democrats in power there. And they say the same thing: what national Democrats appear to care about is not what the local people care about:

But worst of all, they said, the party hadn’t learned from what they saw as the biggest message from November’s election: Democrats have fallen completely out of touch with America’s blue-collar voters.

“It doesn’t matter how much we scream and holler about jobs and the economy at the local level. Our national leaders still don’t get it,” said David Betras, the county’s party chair. “While Trump is talking about trade and jobs, they’re still obsessing about which bathrooms people should be allowed to go into.”

Others around the restaurant table nodded.

Since the election, Democrats have been swallowed up in an unending cycle of outrage and issues that have little to do with the nation’s working class, they said, such as women’s marches, fighting Trump’s refugee ban and advocating for transgender bathroom rights. […]

He warned Clinton that she had lost all credibility with working-class voters by waffling on trade and offering tepid solutions. He urged in his memo that she talk about infrastructure instead.

“The workers we’re talking about don’t want to run computers, they want to run back hoes, dig ditches, sling concrete block,” he wrote. “They’re not embarrassed about the fact that they get their hands dirty. . . . They love it and they want to be respected and honored for it.”

He sent his memo to Clinton’s top campaign adviser in Ohio and other senior party officials. But Betras never heard back.

Months later, he said he thinks his party leaders still haven’t gotten the message.

Yes, we get it. Making sure that “Loretta” can use the bathroom that, well “she” wants to use is not what is on most people’s minds..nor are women in pussy hats.

But wait…don’t Democrats push for…Medicaid expansion and minimum wage hikes, stuff that helps out those at the bottom of the economic ladder? Well:

Manly dignity is a big deal for most men. So is breadwinner status: Many still measure masculinity by the size of a paycheck. White working-class men’s wages hit the skids in the 1970s and took another body blow during the Great Recession. Look, I wish manliness worked differently. But most men, like most women, seek to fulfill the ideals they’ve grown up with. For many blue-collar men, all they’re asking for is basic human dignity (male varietal). Trump promises to deliver it.

The Democrats’ solution? Last week the New York Times published an article advising men with high-school educations to take pink-collar jobs. Talk about insensitivity. Elite men, you will notice, are not flooding into traditionally feminine work. To recommend that for WWC men just fuels class anger. […]

The terminology here can be confusing. When progressives talk about the working class, typically they mean the poor. But the poor, in the bottom 30% of American families, are very different from Americans who are literally in the middle: the middle 50% of families whose median income was $64,000 in 2008. That is the true “middle class,” and they call themselves either “middle class” or “working class.”

“The thing that really gets me is that Democrats try to offer policies (paid sick leave! minimum wage!) that would help the working class,” a friend just wrote me. A few days’ paid leave ain’t gonna support a family. Neither is minimum wage. WWC men aren’t interested in working at McDonald’s for $15 per hour instead of $9.50. What they want is what my father-in-law had: steady, stable, full-time jobs that deliver a solid middle-class life to the 75% of Americans who don’t have a college degree. Trump promises that. I doubt he’ll deliver, but at least he understands what they need.

Understand Working-Class Resentment of the Poor
Remember when President Obama sold Obamacare by pointing out that it delivered health care to 20 million people? Just another program that taxed the middle class to help the poor, said the WWC, and in some cases that’s proved true: The poor got health insurance while some Americans just a notch richer saw their premiums rise.

And those who are genuinely poor: THEY DON’T WANT TO REMAIN POOR…they don’t want a minimum wage job. They want the jobs that Trump promised.

And here is the dilemma: those jobs are not coming back. Neither are those towns. Automation is not going away, and that is what is killing many jobs.

Example: now-a-days it takes a grand total of 30-35 man hours to produce a complete car:

When Harbour adds up all the man-hours it takes to build a car or truck, including stamping, assembly, engine and transmission manufacture, Hyundai was seventh of seven majors, at 35.1 hours per vehicle in North America. Ford Motor Company was sixth, at 33.88 hours, a 3.7-percent improvement over last year, Nissan was fifth, at an estimated 32.96 hours, or 8.8 percent more time than the previous year, and GM was fourth, at 32.29 hours, a 0.2-percent improvement. Honda was third, at 31.33 hours, a 2.3-percent improvement.

In 1932, it was 92 man-hours.

We simply do not need as many workers to do the same tasks.

So…what to do? The awful truth is that many of those who have lost those good blue collar jobs will either have to retrain for the jobs of today (IF they are capable of doing so) or…be poor.

Trump’s solution was to lie to them and it…just barely…worked.

What will our solution be?

April 6, 2017 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, economy, social/political | | Leave a comment

The unpopularity of the Democratic Party

Yes, President Trump has historically low approval ratings (for it being this early in his administration).

That is undeniable. (this graph is via Gallup).

But ..the Democratic party...rates even LOWER

Of course, the Bernie Bros are claiming “see, you need to become more like Bernie” and they cite articles like this one:

But what this apparently means to the people who are calling for unity is getting behind the corporate, suit and tie, lobbyist-driven agenda of the establishment. But let me break it to you – the establishment has almost no grassroots momentum. Virtually every progressive grassroots movement in America right now is fueled by people outside of the Democratic Party establishment and this is a huge reason why the party is so outrageously unpopular.

Huge grassroots movements, made up of millions and millions of people, are fueling the fight for a $15 minimum wage, fighting back against fossil fuels and the Dakota Access Pipeline, fighting to end fracking, fighting to remove lobbyist money from politics, fighting to end senseless wars and international violence, fighting for universal healthcare, fighting for the legalization of marijuana, fighting for free college tuition, fighting against systems of mass incarceration, and so much more. But mainstream Democrats aren’t really a central part of any of those battles, and, to be clear, each of those issues have deep networks, energized volunteers, and serious donors, but corporate Democrats virtually ignore them.

In the past two months, I’ve spoken in a dozen states around the country and thousands of people show up. Wednesday night, in the freezing rain, lines were wrapped around multiple city blocks to attend an event I was hosting at a local Seattle high school. We literally formed the event a few days ago on Facebook and didn’t spend a single penny putting it together.

This is a breath-taking amount of ignorance. Yes, “activists” really love those things and have energy. But a tiny percentage of people can be a lot of people in a country of 320 million. That, by no stretch of the imagination, translates into something the electorate will rally around.

Riddle me this: how did left wingers do in the past election? Example: Russ Feingold lost by a larger margin than Hillary Clinton did in Wisconsin.

While left wing populism might be very inspirational to a small percentage of the population, it really isn’t a winning political coalition:

On November 20, less than two weeks after Donald Trump’s upset win, Bernie Sanders strode onto a stage at Boston’s Berklee Performance Center to give the sold-out audience his thoughts on what had gone so disastrously wrong for the Democratic Party.

Sanders had a simple answer. Democrats, he said, needed to field candidates who would unapologetically promise that they would be willing “to stand up with the working class of this country and … take on big-money interests.”

Democrats, in other words, would only be able to defeat Trump and others like him if they adopted an anti-corporate, unabashedly left-wing policy agenda. The answer to Trump’s right-wing populism, Sanders argued, was for the left to develop a populism of its own.

That’s a belief widely shared among progressives around the world. A legion of commentators and politicians, most prominently in the United States but also in Europe, have argued that center-left parties must shift further to the left in order to fight off right-wing populists such as Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen. Supporters of these leaders, they argue, are motivated by a sense of economic insecurity in an increasingly unequal world; promise them a stronger welfare state, one better equipped to address their fundamental needs, and they will flock to the left.

“[It’s] a kind of liberal myth,” Pippa Norris, a Harvard political scientist who studies populism in the United States and Europe, says of the Sanders analysis. “[Liberals] want to have a reason why people are supporting populist parties when their values are so clearly against progressive values in terms of misogyny, sexism, racism.”

The problem is that a lot of data suggests that countries with more robust welfare states tend to have stronger far-right movements. Providing white voters with higher levels of economic security does not tamp down their anxieties about race and immigration — or, more precisely, it doesn’t do it powerfully enough. For some, it frees them to worry less about what it’s in their wallet and more about who may be moving into their neighborhoods or competing with them for jobs.

Yeah, left wing populism and a focus on the poor and economic injustice may have worked…in 1932 when unemployment was at 25 percent!

But the reality is:

1. Most do not care all that much about the Dakota Access Pipeline
2. Most have little in common with those who are at risk of losing their Obamacare insurance (and many of these ignorant jackasses voted for Trump)
3. Most of us earn well above the minimum wage
4. Most are not Muslim and most do not have Muslim friends
5. Most of us do not care whether someone is offended by someone else using the “wrong” pronoun.
6. Most of us did not go out and have a bunch of kids that we could not afford to raise.

In fact, much of left wing populism appears to be a transfer of money from those who have achieved to “the unworthy”.

Oh, there are many good reasons for those programs; I happen to believe that wealth trickles up through the economy and NOT down; when the bottom of the economic ladder is better off, the rest of us are are better off. Personally, I want more people to be able to afford to send their kids to my university and to patronize the neighborhood businesses. There is evidence that poor kids that get SNAP do better than those who don’t.

But that is a difficult sell, especially to people like me, who have been raised on The Ant and the Grasshopper.

But there is more from the Vox article quoted above:

When Corbyn took control of Labour leadership last September, UKIP — Britain’s far-right, anti-EU party — had been in decline, netting around 10 percent in the Britain Elects poll aggregator. By the June 2016 Brexit vote over whether to leave the EU, UKIP’s numbers had risen to a little over 15 percent.

Corbyn and Labour publicly supported staying in the EU, but didn’t campaign for it particularly hard. It may not have mattered: Eric Kaufmann, a professor at the University of London who studies populism, looked at what Brexit voters said were the “most important” issues facing the UK. More than 40 percent said immigration; a scant 5 percent said “poverty and inequality.”

According to Kaufmann, this reflects an uncomfortable truth: The kind of voter who’s attracted to the far right just doesn’t care a whole lot about inequality and redistribution, Corbyn’s signature issues. Tacking left to win them over, as Corbyn has, is “a bad idea,” he told me in a phone conversation.

Yes, this is the United States, not the UK. But:

This, they hypothesized, was not an accident. People are only willing to support redistribution if they believe their tax dollars are going to people they can sympathize with. White voters, in other words, don’t want to spend their tax dollars on programs that they think will benefit black or Hispanic people.

The United States is marked by far more racial division than its European peers. Poverty, in the minds of many white Americans, is associated with blackness. Redistribution is seen through a racial lens as a result. The debate over welfare and taxes isn’t just about money, for these voters, but rather whether white money should be spent on nonwhites. “Hostility between races limits support for welfare,” Alesina, Glaeser, and Sacerdote conclude flatly in the paper.

Now, it’s been a decade and a half since this paper was published, so it’s possible the evidence has shifted. I called up Sacerdote to ask him whether any subsequent research has caused him to change his mind. His answer was firmly negative. “It’s almost sad that it’s held up so well,” he told me.

And I see it as being grimmer than this.

Take public education. One would expect teachers to have to have a basic standard of literacy, right? Well, in New York, the public education establishment is about to do away with a literacy test for teachers because…too many minorities are not passing the test!

New York state is poised to scrap a literacy test for people trying to become teachers, in part because an outsized percentage of black and Hispanic candidates were failing.

The state Board of Regents on Monday is expected to adopt the recommendation of a task force to eliminate the exam, known as the Academic Literacy Skills Test.

Critics of the exam said it is redundant and a poor predictor of who will succeed as a teacher.

Backers of the test say eliminating it could put weak teachers in classrooms.

Just 46 percent of Hispanic and 41 percent of black test takers passed it on the first try, compared with 64 percent of white candidates.

The test was among four assessments for prospective teachers introduced in the 2013-2014 school year.

(note to conservatives who might be laughing: I hope you are equally outraged at attempts to give creationism “equal time” in science curricula).

And so it goes. It is bad enough that we have racism in our population, but then we go and lead with our chin with stupid stuff like this. Guess whose kids those illiterate teachers will be teaching?

Workout notes: home treadmill (snow outside): 10 minute jog, then 50 minutes of “quick walking”; 5 miles in just about 1 hour (maybe 1:00:20 or so).

March 13, 2017 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, political/social, politics, poverty, social/political, walking | Leave a comment