blueollie

Mitch McConnell’s The Long Game: manager of Team Republican

IF you are a sports fan (NFL, NBA, MLB, or some other team sport) think about what happens when you cheer for your team: do you honestly think that the world will be a better place if your team wins? Honestly, that just isn’t a concern during the game, is it? You want your team to win, and you want your coach to coach to win and your players to play to win. That’s it.

And so, I turn to Senator Mitch McConnell’s book The Long Game. (New York Times review is here)

Yes, there is the obligatory attempts to humanize him (and some of it IS funny…for example, the story about then President Elect Bush during his inauguration asking him where his podium was; McConnell didn’t know for sure..but when the podium rose through the floor at the appropriate time, McConnell gave a cool nod as if he knew all along…)

You learn about his attempts to play baseball (flamed out before high school), and that he likes chicken enchiladas and sports cars. But over and over again, you hear about his love of professional baseball and the Louisville Cardinal football and basketball teams. That is a recurring theme. And, when you think about it, it is very telling.

What you do NOT hear about, at least in detail, is policy. Oh, there is the usual “The ACA bill is horrible”, “McCain-Feingold is horrible”, “Obama talks down to people”, “Obama is a far left politician”, etc., but it is very shallow boilerplate…Sarah Palin caliber stuff. The exception is the discussion of First Amendment issues as it related to the attempted flag burning amendment and to campaign finance reform. The discussion of why he supported sanctions on the apartheid South African government was also interesting.

But you’ll see no detailed discussion of foreign policy, supply side economics, conservative interpretation of law or anything like that. There was next to no mention of religion either.

And very tellingly, there is no discussion of how he wanted to make people’s lives better, or even enable them to live better lives.

The vast majority of the book was about two things:

1. His personal ambition. He made no bones about wanting to warrant a better office, attain membership on better committees, and to attain leadership positions..oh yes..and get elected.
2. His legislative victories; you can almost feel the gloating over his clever filibuster or clever use of the Senate rules to kill legislation he didn’t like or to attain the goals he wanted..and to get members of his team elected.

Moral and logical consistency were not issues for him. He decried Harry Reid’s “destruction of the Senate” (by using the rules to advance legislation) while dancing on the 50 yard line the times he did the same thing.
He decried Al Gore’s Senate theatrics and then described his own. He decried “show votes” (voting on something that the other chamber will not pass or that the President will veto) but then, IN THE NEXT LINE, admitting that he took them.

Hypocrisy does not bother him. Ridicule, so he says, does not bother him (he asks cartoonists for signed copies of cartoons that lampoon him)..though he did dress down Al Franken for making faces while he spoke in the Senate.

What matters to him is WINNING, period..he wants Team Republican to win. Now this might mean taking incremental victories here and there, even if it means getting attacked by “WE WANT IT ALL, NOW” activists (yes, Democrats have to deal with this too). Set things up…get better field position. Hence the title: The Long Game.

And winning (in terms of Team Republican) means winning votes, winning elections..and winning, on a personal level, means advancing. And he does offer quite a bit of insight here (e. g. the way to win a position is to run unopposed, and the way to do that is to lock up key support, early). And he planned, planned and planned some more. Hence the title: The Long Game.

Early in life, he took on jobs so as to better position himself for political opportunities in the future…evidently it wasn’t to serve constituencies. Hence the title: The Long Game.

Still, I was surprised at how little he talked about policy, either the philosophy of it or how it makes people’s lives better.

This tweet really gets it:

Claire McCaskill: “[McConnell] is a very, very political leader. This isn’t somebody who is sitting around at night figuring out how he can move the needle on really important policy issues. This is someone who is figuring out how he can win elections.”

And that brings me to his discussion of President Barack Obama (called “Professor Obama”, as if that were an insult). Here and there he did praise him; he complimented his campaign, and how well he spoke about the TARP issues (called it “masterful”, without notes).

But he claimed that Obama spoke down to people in private, just like he does in public.

That claim got me scratching my head at first; one of the things I liked about Obama is that he didn’t insult me when he spoke. But after thinking about the praise that McConnell had for Joe Biden..and why he praised him, I think I got it.

Obama IS a policy heavyweight and is a pragmatist ..a problem solver. He sees a need in society and goes about trying to get that need met or that problem fixed; whether the solution is a traditionally conservative one or a liberal one doesn’t really matter to him. He is a thinker.

McConnell is NOT a thinker and is utterly disinterested in talking about the Laffer curve, what the data says about supply side economics, when a stimulus works or what the economists say the size should be, etc. So if Obama tries to explain to him why current Republican positions are really crank economics, McConnell is not only disinterested, he is insulted. It is a bit like trying to explain scientific evolution to a dyed-in-the-wool religious nutter creationist. It is a colossal waste of time..and comes across as arrogant and insulting. He’d much rather hear: “ok, this is what I want..and I know this is what you want. What can you live with?” without all of the attempts to change one’s philosophy.

So, you had the classical “thinker” vs. “wheeler/dealer” mismatch. And there is something else.

McConnell worked long and hard to turn his talents (and yes, he has them) into personal success…he just had a Gollum like focus on being the MAJORITY LEADER. And here comes a young freshman Senator onto the scene and just blows past him as if he was standing still. And he has to know that Obama will go down in history as one of the most loved politicians where he will be remembered by mostly political junkies and as an answer to trivia questions: “which Senator lead the most filibusters?”, etc.

That HAS to sting. 🙂

And there is this (which McConnell bellows was taken out of context)

Yes, Senator McConnell. You had a lot of victories. But you lost the World Series, and President Obama won. 🙂

December 26, 2018 Posted by | books, politics, Republican, republican party, republican senate minority leader, republicans, republicans politics | Leave a comment

Where the Republicans and Democrats did well: a surprise

Yeah, I am still following the “spat” over whether or not Pelosi should be the speaker. Yeah, she knows how to get stuff done, and it appears to me that the opposition to her is scattered in select Congressional Districts where a conservative Democrat ran, in part, against those “Washington liberals”.

I do not expect it to amount to much, though, yes, we do need to groom new leadership.

Now there are 3 uncalled House races and it appears that the Democrat pickups will be 39 to 40 seats total. Where did the Democrats do well? This surprised me:

I remember a time when the Republicans did better in the higher income districts. Things change.

Paul Krugman has some thoughts and he is not optimistic that this divide will be bridged anytime soon:

here’s a cumulative, self-reinforcing process at work that is, in effect, dividing America into two economies. And this economic division is reflected in political division.

In 2016, of course, the parts of America that are being left behind voted heavily for Donald Trump. News organizations responded with many, many, many profiles of rural Trump supporters sitting in diners.

But this was, it turns out, fighting the last war. Trumpism turned America’s lagging regions solid red, but the backlash against Trumpism has turned its growing regions solid blue. Some of the reporters interviewing guys in diners should have been talking to college-educated women in places like California’s Orange County, a former ultraconservative stronghold that, come January, will be represented in Congress entirely by Democrats.

Why have lagging regions turned right while successful regions turned left? It doesn’t seem to be about economic self-interest. True, Trump promised to bring back traditional jobs in manufacturing and coal mining — but that promise was never credible. And the orthodox Republican policy agenda of cutting taxes and shrinking social programs, which is basically what Trump is following in practice, actually hurts lagging regions, which depend a lot on things like food stamps and disability payments, much more than it hurts successful areas.

‘I Have No Idea How to Tell This Horror Story’
Furthermore, there is little if any support in voting data for the notion that “economic anxiety” drove people to vote for Trump. As documented in “Identity Crisis,” an important new book analyzing the 2016 election, what distinguished Trump voters wasn’t financial hardship but “attitudes related to race and ethnicity.”

So this might be about Trumpism and not about traditional Republicanism.

November 21, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics | | Leave a comment

Many angry women do not respond positively to “woke rhetoric”?

Ok, right now I am mixing some conjectures of mine (and I’d welcome facts that either reinforce or shoot down my conjecture).

This is based on my personal relations with women, many (NOT all) who oppose Trump and cannot stand him. Some have told me that they do not identify as being feminist; that feminist rhetoric does not “speak to them”.

I think that I get this. So much of feminist rhetoric, or at least what gets publicized, speaks of “rape culture”, “patriarchy” and the inherent misogyny of our society. And any statistical difference between men and women (say, males being more likely to be interested in mathematics or engineering) is viewed as being, well, due to sexism or misogyny. Much of this attitude is discussed in Pinker’s book The Blank Slate. And yes, Steven Pinker was elected to the National Academy of Science.

The interesting thing is that some of these women ..many(?) actually believe Dr. Ford over Kavanaugh. They have no tolerance for sexual harassment nor sexual assault.

So what is going on? Maybe, just maybe, they share my attitude: sexual harassment is the fault of the person doing the harassment and those in authority who tolerate it. Maybe some males are serial harassers.
And yes, some are disgusted by the Kavanaugh confirmation STILL think that Al Franken should not have resigned (I am one of them).

Politically speaking, I think that the Franken resignation hurts us: it shows a party that is controlled by those with a hair trigger, and I don’t see how that makes us Democrats attractive to anyone but the most “woke” people, who really do not comprise a large percentage of the voting bloc.

And the woke feminists do not even come close to speaking for all women...not even all white women. And responses such as “those who don’t go along with us have internalized patriarchy” isn’t going to win anyone over.

Moving forward:

I think that this is spot on: screaming at Senators in public places isn’t going to do a thing; I doubt very seriously if it will bring any new votes.

Wait..what about the Tea Party in 2010 and those townhalls? I crunched the numbers:

52 Democrat incumbents lost their seats. Half of those were held by Democrats in districts which voted: Bush, Bush and McCain. And

I’ve listed the CD’s along with the Presidential winner in 2008, 2004, and 2000. The last number is the number of times that a Republican president won that district (data from here)

So: 26 of these losses came from districts in which 2008, 2004 and 2000 by the Republican presidential candidate.
14 of these had the Republican president win 2 out of the 3 times
6 of these had the Republican president winning once
6 had elected the Democrat every time.

Or, put another way, 40 of the 52 Democratic incumbents who lost represented “red” or “reddish” districts.
This does not include the currently undecided seats nor those in which the sitting Democrat didn’t run for reelection and the seat switched hands.

Now, how many Republicans hold Democratic voting Congressional Districts?

That is the asymmetry of the situation, as I see it.

Now as far as how it will go: it is unclear as to how the House races will go. Will you see a lot of Democrats in deep blue CD’s and see Republicans barely winning in red CD’s?

October 7, 2018 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans | | Leave a comment

Kavanaugh fiasco and the fissures in our country

Oh, did this fight over Kavanaugh open up a can of worms.

For one, the discussion of “ok, exactly how do you treat the testimony/stories of the alleged victims? The answer really can’t be put on a bumper sticker. And no, it isn’t as simple as “few allegations are false”…for many reasons.

And what was going on in THIS case? No, it isn’t always as simple as “one of them is lying” or “one of them got it wrong.”.

And as to who you believe or who you trust more or who you trust more to be accurate depends on many prior assumptions.
Liberals tend to see this as “yet another case of a powerful man getting away with it” whereas conservatives see this as yet another case of liberals besmirching a fine man for political gain.

And, the Republicans used the latter feeling, along with a discomfort with the “me too” movement to further political support. And given the make up of the Senate, the did not need as much total support as liberals would have needed.

Republicans aren’t going to be intimidated by “vote ’em out”, etc. Now about those midterms, here is the 538 forecast (Wang has the House as 50/50, Senate favoring the Republicans).

House forecast

Senate forecast

Senate composition

October 6, 2018 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans, republicans political/social, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Seeing it their way….

The Kavanaugh hearings has reopened some of the scars in our social fabric. Of course, I am hearing the old “how awful he is” stuff (and I tend to agree that he lacks the demeanor and temperament to be on the SCOTUS, and I deeply resent Sen. McConnell bellowing on about the politics of obstruction, when, in fact, he wrote the book on it).

But I think it is useful to remember that the set up the Senate gives vastly disproportionate power to smaller, mostly more conservative states and, on the average, conservatives have a different view.

Yes, even conservative women have a different view of the proceedings; many see them as deeply unfair to Kavanaugh. And, many see Ford as having political motivation…as either lying or exaggerating in order to help defeat the nomination. Hence they do not see Trump’s mocking of her testimony as mocking a victim, but rather the mocking of a dishonest political opponent who tried to pull a fast one on them. You see, to them, Trump had the “guts” to stand up to the feminist activists and tell them “forget about it…we see through you.”

And, to be honest, I think that there ARE problems with the #metoo movement, some of which are outlined here (and respectfully discussed; this isn’t some hateful hit piece).

The country is not monolithic and the people that we do not regularly associate with probably think differently than us.

Workout notesweights only; no yoga.

usual rotator cuff, back, plank (sucked) and headstand afterward.

pull ups: 5-5-5, 15, 10, 10, incline: 10 x 135, 6 x 150, decline: 6 x 170, military: 10 x 50 standing, 10 x 45, 10 x 90 machine, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110. It was “quick and dirty”.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | political/social, republicans, social/political, weight training | 1 Comment

Uniting with those you do not like: 2018 midterms

Ok, I have no political science credentials. But at least lately, it seems that we are in the following cycle: Republicans govern (or attempt to). Republicans crash the economy (or at least make things worse). People get disgusted. They vote the Democrats in. Things get better but a combination of Democratic infighting and the Democrats championing unpopular stuff gets them voted out of power and the Republicans take over again, only to run things into the ground, again.

I’ll talk about the Democrats championing unpopular causes at another time (but IMHO, this is a combination of the Ant and the Grasshopper and “Beggars can’t be choosers” in action)

But right now I will just say this: I find my fellow Democrats to be very annoying. For one, we are as prone to “argue by slogan” as anyone else. For example, take the current debate as to whether to keep Nancy Pelosi as the leader of the House Democrats.

As I see it, there are many pros and cons: she is a good fundraiser and she has had some great accomplishments (e. g. getting the ACA through the House). On the other hand, the House Democrats have steadily lost seats and many feel that her time is past. And it is clear that the GOP thinks that she is a good thing to run against in the red Congressional Districts that are closely contested.

You’d think that this is worthy of debate, right? Well, no..not for some:

You see: it is all misogyny. (eyeroll).

Never mind that many Democrats who don’t want Pelosi would be happy with another female. Now if you want to talk about ageism…maybe that could be PART of it.

But in the upcoming midterms, none of this really matters. If you oppose Trump, vote for the Democrat, period. Opposing Trump IS enough (and yes, one Jill Stein backing idiot tried to tell me it wasn’t enough).

August 10, 2018 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Taking the bait vs. fighting back

First, I found this amusing:

There are 6 I do not recognize. But still, #walkaway is some program that uses Russian bots to convince Trump supporters that Democrats are just leaving in droves.

But notice whose photo is NOT there? I think that there is a reason for that.

Now among the rank and file “internet” liberals there appears to be two schools of thought as to what to do socially. One is to try to make it toxic to be a Trump supporter in public. People claim that Maxine Waters said to do that, but she was clearly talking about *Trump officials*. No, I do not approve of that. But that was NOT a call to harass Trump supporters.

But yes, some liberals DO approve of restaurants turning away those with MAGA hats or even doing direct harassment.

I do not approve of that and.. frankly, I find it politically counter productive.

Seriously, some people think that screaming “oh, I just HAAAAATE YOU” is going to convince somebody, or at least change their vote?

And yes, Trump is just eating it up…trolling the hell out of us, mocking “me too” and even slurring Maxine Waters:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I said it the other day, yes, she is a low IQ individual, Maxine Waters. I said it the other day. High — I mean, honestly, she’s somewhere in the mid-60s, I believe that.
(APPLAUSE)

Yes, these sorts of statements would get one fired from many types of jobs and many Trump supporters know that. But Trump can say them with impunity …so it must feel good to the MAGA crowd to watch the liberals writhe with outrage.

Guess what: they are enjoying this!

I think that our only recourse is political pragmatism; win as many down ticket elections as we can and win in 2020. And saying “if you voted for Trump you are a HORRIBLE human being and I just HATE you” isn’t a winning political message. At least, I don’t think it is.

Nevertheless, many will continue to “take the bait”.

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Democrats, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans politics, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Gerrymandering (my “lesson learned”) and the power of simply not caring what others think

I remember when I was gerrymandered into IL-17 from IL-18. At first, I was happy. I got to vote in the D-primary and was “yippee, I finally get a Democrat to represent me”.

But ..well, IL-18 became even more right wing; prior it was home to moderate Republicans like George Michael and Ray LaHood. And they actually appeared to listen.

I am not saying that Cheri Bustos doesn’t listen; she does. But my input really makes little difference as she is going to vote the way I’d like, oh, 90-95 percent of the time. And there is little danger of her losing her seat; there is really nothing for me to do, save enjoy much of her Instagram feed.

At times, it resembles the feed of a fitness model. 🙂

And other races…safe seats all the way around, except for things like City Council.

Not caring If you asked me which politician I dislike the most, it would not be Trump. Trump, IMHO, is a skilled con artist and basically an outlet for the dark underside of our country. Every advanced country has people like him and shame on us, as a country, for falling for it.

The politician I dislike the most is Mitch McConnell. He is smart, skilled, and utterly amoral. That is a very deadly combination. And people’s opinion of him matters not at all.

But…well, seeing this did gladden my heart just a bit. This was very gentle, First Amendment stuff, and a politician who can’t handle this sort of gentle heckling should retire.

And yes, I say that to Democratic politicians as well, even when the hecklers are ill informed, ignorant and downright stupid (as hecklers often are).

If you can’t stomach listening to an ignorant, stupid person pontificate, don’t go into politics.

June 28, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics/social, ranting, republicans | | Leave a comment

Hot topics and hot weather (Trump, Me Too, Nazis…the real ones)

I was somewhat amused to see the Miss America pageant,…er..competition, drop the swimsuit and evening gown “competition”. I wondered “is that even a thing?” (about 5-6 million viewers watch). But then I heard the decision was, in part, related to “me too”? Yeah, I know…”women as sex objects”, etc. (I really saw Miss America as an old, outdated thing that only modern day “plastics” aspire to.

Then I recalled: bad sex is considered part of “me too” by some. Boorish, clueless behavior is considered part of “me too” by some.

Even the case where a subordinate comes on to the superior and the superior doesn’t reject is called “me too”.

Really?

Well, I suppose they can make their movement about anything they want. And as long as the movement was about sexual assault and sexual harassment (especially in the work place), you could count me in. No one should be forced to engage in sex acts against their will, and certainly, no one should have to tolerate sexual harassment to keep a job or get a promotion. What a nightmare that must be!

But, increasingly, “me too” appears to be becoming some sort of catch-all phrase to indicate something that some woman, somewhere, doesn’t like because they feel it contributes to sexism or misogyny (or what they think is “misogyny” anyway).

Good luck with that.

Note: I am not sure that this expansion of “me too” is going to help politically. I do know that in 2012, Obama got 42 percent of the white women vote and 55 percent of the women vote, and in 2016 Clinton got 43 percent of the white women vote (1 point higher, well within MOE) and 54 percent of the women vote (1 point lower, again within MOE). (per CNN exit polls, 2012 and 2016). Given the publicity that Trump had..well, evidently women, on the whole, did not see Trump’s behaviors and statements to be disqualifying. In fact, he was very open about his attitude from the get-go.

If we beat Trump in 2020, it won’t be because of “me too”, pussy hat marches, or other such things.

Now, of course, “me too” really isn’t purely political. But I do think that keeping it a bit more narrowly focused might help win allies (say, Republican women who don’t like sexual harassment either).

Back to Trump and the Republicans: I have to agree with this assessment. I do not know how the 2018 midterms will go (D’s are a slight favorite to take back the House..but barely more than a 50/50 favorite) but Trump is NOT in free fall. If anything, he may well get reelected.

I cannot tell you how much this distresses me. They are incompetent and proud of it! Administration officials boast that D-Day was part of our long relationship with Germany. Republican Congressmen cannot tell the difference between Nazi and US troops.

And still, Republican voters do not care. Sigh…

Workout notesIt was a bit warm and sticky outside and I wanted some turnover so I went to the (still warm but out of the sun) gym.
Treadmill: slow 10 minutes then 2.234 miles in 21:21 (9:33 pace, 6.1 for 10 minutes, then 6.2-6.6 every 2, 6.7 for 1:21). Then walk/jog to get to 43 minutes for 4, 56:40 for 5. Then a slow walk outside; it was enough today.

June 7, 2018 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans, running, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Dark Web, Democrat advantages, Republican bubbles, etc.

Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly, education tends to make people MORE partisan. I suppose that part of the reason is that we become better at advocating for our positions and learning how to counter “their” arguments. Now for me: I need at least a grudging acceptance of science though, yes, there is some liberal BS that gets passed around as fact and that grates on me.

Those who call it out are, of course, criticized (which is fine) but sometimes, there are those who try to “deplatform them” at events; try to drown out their talks. What the idiots who do this don’t seem to get is that it makes people angry (those who are there to hear the speaker)..and doesn’t strengthen their position at all. And some of these people (serious thinkers) have been lumped together with genuine crackpots in a recent article about the so-called Dark Web.

And there lies the trouble: the “taboo” stuff is mostly bunkum but some of it is not; it would be helpful to have genuine experts weigh in without being shouted down by the virtue signaling peanut gallery.

Now what about 2018 and 2020? In liberal bubbles, you’d swear that there was a “blue wave” coming. But the evidence is mixed. Yes, the incumbent party usually loses seats AND the special elections, to date, have been very bad for Republicans. But Trump’s approval has been creeping up into the low to mid 40’s and the generic ballot doesn’t show much of an advantage for the Democrats any longer.

Yeah, many Democratic women won primary elections, but mostly in districts where the Democrats have no chance in 2018.

The Republican base is too brainwashed to be able to admit that the FBI has genuine evidence on Trump. So you can forget things like impeachment or removal.

So what will happen in the 2018 midterms? I do not know; there are conflicting indicators. Betting markets: Republicans 2-1 favorites to hold the Senate (at least 50-50); Democrats 2-1 for the House.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans, social/political | , | Leave a comment