blueollie

Depressing state of politics

Ok, it is no secret that I never considered Donald Trump to be suitable POTUS material. Enough of my countrymen disagreed enough for him to squeak by in the Electoral College though he lost the popular vote by about 3,000,000 votes (and if you start complaining that is a fake statistic because of “illegals voting”, you are too stupid to be reading my blog, so just get lost right now).

Now our rough, tough, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN president is…whining?

Pathetic. But it probably plays to his hard core supporters because, well, many of them are also whiny little victims. A great explanation is here: (and he uses a King Solomon story to help make his point)

Upshot: remember those pitiful “what has happened to my country” whines when President Obama was in office? (if you want to be nauseated, watch at 1:15)

They had an idea of what their country was like (no, it never was that way), and they had a skilled con man running to saying “he would make it great again” by…well, sticking it to the liberals. Sure the real agenda is the same as it always was (tax cuts for the wealthiest among us), and they sold it to the base by, well, attacking people like me.

So that brings me to the Democrats.

And I’ll say it: as evil as I think the elite Republican mission is (the tax cuts for the wealthy above all else), they are better politicians than we are. And their “message to the base” is an easier sale; all one has to do is to cherry pick a few ridiculous college campus incidents to get people fired up about how ridiculous liberals are (like this one)

(for the record: there are crackpot professors…but it has gotten so ridiculous that people who have never set foot in a college classroom see fit to tell me what goes on in colleges and how *I* brainwash students into not working hard, hating American, etc.)

So, what are Democrats about? We are supposed to be about a society that works for all, including the less talented, the disabled, the poor, the sick, those born into tough circumstances, etc.

And guess what? That is a tough sell. The Republicans glorify the rich…and well, most all of us want to be rich, or at least moderately comfortable.

Who wants to be poor, sick, laid off, mentally ill, or disabled?

We Democrats talk about safety nets (e. g. Medicaid) and minimum wages. BUT FEW WANT TO HAVE TO USE SAFETY NETS, TO BE ON MEDICAID OR TO WORK FOR MINIMUM WAGE. These policy issues are tough to rally around and those who would benefit the most vote at low rates. (directly, anyway; the economy does benefit from safety net programs). “The poor” is not that big of a voting block and much of the “working class” really isn’t poor.

Yes, there are people who will never grow much past a minimum wage job and Democratic policies might help them, but no one wants to face up to the fact that they are doomed to be stuck on that rung for life.

And so we get critiques of how well the Democrats are doing (and yes, “pathetic” is accurate). Oh, true, we did win the popular vote in 6 of the last 7 Presidential elections (2004 was the exception) but the EC hurt us in 2000 and really hurt us in 2016.

So we try to critique ourselves, and get, well, pathetic articles like this one. Example:

When the poll came out saying that “Democrats stand for nothing more than opposing” Trump, I thought to myself, ‘If only that were true!’” But they can’t even do that well. When House Democratic Caucus chairman Joe Crowley was asked by the Associated Press just what his party’s core message was, he “hesitated” and then said, “That message is being worked on.”

It was as tone deaf (but honest) an answer as when Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum – as sycophantic a representative of the Democratic party in the punditocracy as there is – wrote about how people would have to be “crazy” not to “have a reflective disgust” of people who are homeless and mentally ill.

Considering homeless people are also disproportionately black, LGBT, disabled and, of course, poor, Drum managed to reveal the disdain the liberal elite has of wide swaths of Americans.

Uh, I think the latter is just reality. Most people do have at least an internal “yuck” reaction to many of the homeless and mentally ill.

My response is that we need to use our morals and intellect to work past that “yuck” response ..and to realize that our discomfort might be born from fear that we are just a single (or a few) unlucky incidents from being just like that homeless or mentally ill person.

Example: what if I sustain a head injury that harms my ability to even do math, much less teach and research it? Oh sure, there is enough in the bank to have the home free and clear (and pay taxes) but what about that income? I have disability insurance, but times would get tougher, very quickly.

Nevertheless, articles such as the one I quoted attempt to throw cold water on what I think are needed, frank discussions.

And there is the old “Bernie would have won” bullshit. Yes, I am aware of the polls that showed him beating Trump head to head by bigger margins than Clinton was leading by..but you don’t think that the Trump analytics team would have absolutely vaporized Sanders? Please.

And some are saying he is the 2020 front runner? Oh, spare me. Oh yes, Hillary Clinton is not a great campaigner and I think that she is done, just as Al Gore was in 2000. But Bernie Sanders? Nope.

Oh well, this is why I haven’t written much about politics this year. I consider Trump to be dangerously incompetent and temperamentally unsuited for the job. But I consider my party to be politically incompetent.
In short, the Republicans can win elections but cannot govern; the Democrats can govern but suck at elections.

And yes, I think that the extreme political skill (and policy chops) of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama hid many of our party’s weaknesses. How many of these “purple unicorns” (blessed with show business AND policy skills like Pres. C and Pres. O) do we have?

It is just too depressing right now.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, economy, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | | Leave a comment

Are you angry? So what?

I keep seeing this as a theme: Trump says something stupid and Mitch McConnell tries to get a vote on a truly dreadful bill, and people get ANGRY. But so what?

I think that Trump speaks very clearly here:

Yes, on occasion, a Lindsey Graham might stroke his chin and say he is “troubled”…but ultimately he votes for the Trump policy in question.

Yes, there are protests ..

But that isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. How much power do these people have? And those who might feel compassion for them are already NOT voting for members of Congress that back this dreadful “wealthcare bill” (yes, the ACA has problems, but an upper end tax cut won’t fix them).

This strikes me as a situation similar to that of airline customer service. Yes, the airlines don’t care because, well, they don’t have to. Each airline has more or less a monopoly on certain routes, so if you are going to fly…well, you basically HAVE to fly them. (this is one reason I want high speed rail…for competition )

So what are we to do? I really don’t know, but here are my “off the cuff” ideas:

In the short term, how do we pressure the Republicans when we basically have zero leverage (Trump supporters won’t change their minds and Big Money is indifferent to the rest of us)

1. Target the most vulnerable Republicans (as we are doing in the Senate); the ones who will need votes beyond the Republican base.
2. Pressure big business. If we find some billionaire threatening to withhold campaign funds unless the Republicans fall into line, find their biggest investments and boycott them. Our money, put together collectively, does have some clout.

In the long term, we need to win back at least one chamber of Congress and win the 2020 Presidential election.

And even here, I’ve seen two different paths discussed.

1. Seek to win back that small percentage of Trump voters who voted for Obama in 2012. Though there aren’t that many of them, there were just enough of them to tip the scales in 2016.

See this thread:

or

2. Forget about them and focus about exciting our own people and getting them to show up.

Now how do we excite the base? Here is where the “Bernie” vs. “Hillary” war continues to rage.

July 3, 2017 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans, social/political | | Leave a comment

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