Monday Wake Up Call, Portland Edition — July 27, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Paradise Pass with Crested Butte in the distance, CO – 2020 photo by glacticspark

The second biggest story of the summer is the widespread support of the protesters, those people of all races and ages, who took to the streets to say something about racism in America. Portland is and seems likely to remain the epicenter of the Trump administration’s law and order response.

America’s First Amendment rights are under attack in Portland by Trump’s paramilitaries every day. How can that be? Few have heard of US Code 1357. It allows immigration officers to operate within 100 miles of any external US border. Hence Trump could call out border troops to DC, Portland, or Chicago.

USC 1357 gives DHS jurisdiction over about two-thirds of the US population. They can enter any building that isn’t a dwelling within 25 miles of the border without a warrant.

The regulation was adopted by the US Department of Justice in 1953. At the time, there were fewer than 1,100 Border Patrol agents nationwide; today, there are over 21,000.

These problems are compounded by a lack of personnel oversight by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the DHS. The CBP consistently fails to hold its agents accountable for abuses.

Portland has protests on most days of the year. It’s part of the DNA of the city. Now, it’s looking like Trump’s paramilitaries are trying to foment violence and create a backlash among the protesters. The NYT reports on how these troops were the instigators of recent violence: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“After flooding the streets around the federal courthouse in Portland with tear gas during Friday’s early morning hours, dozens of federal officers in camouflage and tactical gear stood in formation around the front of the building.

Then…the officers started advancing….they continued to fire flash grenades and welt-inducing marble-size balls filled with caustic chemicals. They moved down Main Street and continued up the hill, where one of the agents announced over a loudspeaker: “This is an unlawful assembly.”

By the time the security forces halted their advance, the federal courthouse they had been sent to protect was out of sight — two blocks behind them.”

What’s the end game for Trump in Portland?  His paramilitaries aren’t going to murder groups of protesters in cold blood, so what are they going to do? Have nightly tear gassing until the November election?

Trump’s paramilitaries are saying to Portland: “We wouldn’t have to violate your Constitutional rights if you didn’t insist on exercising them.”

There is libertarian support for ending the Trump paramilitary presence in Portland. Libertarians acknowledge that there is no police power in the Constitution. Policing is left to the states. To the extent the President can send federal officers into Portland or other cities, it should be limited to protecting federal property, not moving into crowds that are two blocks away.

The libertarian argument would say that the people of Portland and other cities have the right to decide who they want to elect to City Hall and how much funding they want to provide for their police. The federal government should only be brought in to defend federal property if the local police are unwilling or unable to do so.

Ironically, during the Obama administration, the GOP thought that the “arming up” of America’s internal security forces like the CPB was a risk to THEM. Now, when it’s impacting Democratic-voting cities, they’re all for it.

Trump’s election chances seem to depend on whether he’s Nixon reborn in 2020. Nixon ran on law and order and against violent demonstrations, largely by students who were against the Vietnam War. Protests never spread as broadly as this in the 1960s. To a great degree, the Vietnam protests were by white college age youth. That isn’t true of today’s protesters.

Trump’s law and order gambit is that Antifa Marxists will take over our cities and then, our suburbs. He’s clinging to the idea that there is an equivalent of the “silent majority” of 1968 still out there to elect him.

But Vanity Fair reported some new polling on the response to Trump’s anti-BLM efforts. If those polls are correct, the silent majority of 2020 is firmly on the side of Biden when it comes to issues of race and justice. Nixon’s ghost seems to have left the building.

Time to wake up America! People in Portland are not afraid of the protesters. They know that their safety isn’t in question. There’s no doubt this is a protest against the government, not their fellow citizens.

To help you wake up listen to Peter Green, guitarist of Fleetwood Mac who died this week, play “Albatross” from 1969’s “The Pious Bird of Good Omen”:

This reminds Wrongo of Santo and Johnny’s “Sleepwalk” from 1959.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.


Book Review: “The First Congress” by Fergus M. Bordewich

The Daily Escape:

251 1st Street, Brooklyn, NYC – photo by Miguel de Guzman

It is time to review “The First Congress – How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government” by Fergus M. Bordewich, which has been on Wrongo’s reading list since winter.

Bordewich says that the First Congress was the most important in US history, because it established in some detail how our government would actually function. Had it failed − as it nearly did − it’s possible that the US would exist in a different form today.

Congress began its work in New York City, then a fast-growing and chaotic shipping port of 30,000. Its first meeting was hardly auspicious: On March 4, 1789 they met as the new government after ratification by 11 of the 13 original states. But, there was no quorum to do business in either house. Bordewich outlines how difficult it was to make overland journeys: Boston to New York required six days, trips from the South were much longer. The House achieved a quorum of 29 members on April 1st, and the Senate followed on April 5th, but some members did not arrive until late summer.

Bordewich states that the need to accomplish something quickly was pressing:

Confidence in government was abysmally low…contempt for politicians was rife…and many political men held an equally low opinion of the voting public.

Sounds just like today.

The members were sharply divided, with huge differences of philosophy and opinion. The anti-federalists were opposed to a strong federal government, and had largely been against the ratification of the Constitution, preferring that power remain in the hands of the states. The Federalists wanted a stronger national government and supported the new Constitution.

Underlying everything were issues of North vs. South, rural agrarian vs. urban manufacturing economies, and pro-slave and anti-slave views.

During two years of political struggle, they passed the first ten amendments to the Constitution; they resolved regional rivalries to choose the location for a new national capital; they set in place the procedure for admitting new states to the union; they created the Supreme Court, and worked through the respective roles of the federal and state judiciaries. They established a national bank that was later dissolved by Andrew Jackson in 1832.

But the First Congress also confronted issues that are still with us: the appropriate balance between states’ rights and the powers of national government, and the proper balance between legislative and executive power. The issue of slavery would fester for almost seven decades before being resolved.

The reason that the First Congress succeeded was that they compromised. Without a willingness to compromise, all might have been lost. The great motivator behind their willingness to compromise was the fear that the anti-Federalists would walk away from the new Constitution. There was real reason to fear secession, and it was threatened many times by both the slave-holding South, as well as by the New England states.

Bordewich shows the regional splits that played out in the effort to create a national bank:

The balloting also had a disturbing subtext: all but one of the twenty votes against the bank hailed from the South…Of the thirty-nine votes in favor of the bank, all but five were from the North – yet another omen of the embryonic divide that would dominate the nation’s politics for years to come.

There are wonderful nuggets like this: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

The First Amendment…became so only by default, when the two preceding amendments – on congressional apportionment and compensation for members – failed to achieve ratification by enough states…Three states – Massachusetts, Connecticut and Georgia – would not officially ratify even the ten amendments until…1939. (pg. 140)

In all, 39 amendments received meaningful debate. As important as passing the 10 we know about, was the rejection of others that would have imperiled a strong federal government, including one that gave voters the right to give legislators binding instructions on how to vote.

There was nothing inevitable about the survival and success of the new government. It came about by men from all sections of the country, each with an agenda, who overlooked their prejudices to create a government. The result of their spirit of compromise was the successful launch of our government.

Sharp divisions, rural vs. urban, states’ rights vs. federal authority: We face many of the same issues today that the First Congress had to face in 1789.

But, they had Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton.

Who do we have?

Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.


Ready For The Coming Constitutional Convention?

According to Article V of the US Constitution, the states can convene a Constitutional convention without any action by the federal government if two-thirds (34) of them pass a resolution in favor of the convention. Right-wing organizations have been working for decades to convince enough state legislatures to call for such a convention, with the aim of limiting the powers of the federal government.

Now, Republicans are close to that goal.

Resolutions for a Constitutional convention have already passed in 28 states. And after November’s elections, Republicans control both legislative chambers in 32 states, while also dominating Nebraska’s uni-cameral legislature, giving them 33. This means that they are just one state shy of the 34 needed to propose an Article V convention. And Republicans now hold 34 governorships.

OTOH, Nevada’s House and Senate flipped to the Democrats, offering progressives an opportunity to rescind the convention resolution they passed previously.

Well done Democrats! Not only will the GOP control the Supreme Court for the next generation, they are on the cusp of rewriting the Constitution to make the Federal government a weak shadow of what it was under FDR and LBJ.

Say goodbye to the liberal democracy you say you cherish. Neither the President nor the Supreme Court have any say in this if 34 states agree to hold a Constitutional convention.

Last September, Convention of States a group dedicated to creating a Constitutional convention, convened a simulated Constitutional convention. At this meeting 137 state legislators representing all 50 states attended a “dry run,” in Williamsburg, Va. It produced drafts of six different proposed amendments:

  • A balanced budget amendment that mandates a Congressional supermajority in order to increase the national debt
  • Congressional term limits
  • Abolishing the federal income tax; while requiring a supermajority for other federal taxes
  • Curtail federal legislative and executive jurisdiction by reining in the commerce clause
  • Allow three-fifths of the states to nullify a federal law
  • Allow congressional override of regulations

The balanced budget amendment has been a priority of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for decades. ALEC, whose funders include many very large US companies, has poured huge sums of money into state legislative races, and provides sample legislation to its members.

According to In These Times, at ALEC’s July 2016 annual meeting, the Constitutional convention was made a top priority. ALEC has adopted model rules for an Article V convention and offers its members model language for a resolution to call for a convention. After focusing on state legislatures for decades, they now have tight relationships with many states across the country.

Since 2000, ALEC did a brilliant job of using the Congressional mid-term elections and state elections as a referendum on the Obama administration. And since Obama came to office, Democrats have lost control of 958 state legislative seats.

If a convention gets triggered, state legislators from across the country will convene to propose amendments, which then need to be ratified by three-fourths (38) of the states to become part of the Constitution. There are concerns however, even within the right-wing that a Constitutional convention could become a runaway train, attempting to go way beyond its stated goals, or by creating more division in an already divided country.

The best argument against a Constitutional convention is that any benefit gained by fixing glitches in our system could easily be outweighed by the risk of letting the crazies have a shot at wrecking the whole thing.

But no need to worry about that particular risk. The crazies are already here.

Republicans love the Constitution so much that they just nominated as a Supreme Court Justice a strict constructionist who will decide cases in accordance with the Constitution’s original intent. The GOP says they cannot abide tampering with that.

And yet, they are working to change it.

If you think we should only want a Constitutional convention when the country reaches a crisis point, welcome to our new world:

There are two possible outcomes at this point. Either the crazies succeed and consolidate power on top of the wreckage of our current system, or they will falter and fail.

Sorry Democrats, you just can’t sit back and count on the latter.


GOP Plans to Gerrymander the Electoral College

Donald Trump was the fifth candidate in our history to win sufficient votes in the Electoral College (EC) to become president after losing the popular vote. Now, Republicans are making an effort at the state level to change how electoral votes are apportioned to presidential candidates, from winner take all, to being allocated to the winner of each congressional district.

Republicans call this a modest tweak to the EC process. But it will make gerrymandering of congressional districts even more important to electing the president than it is to electing Members of Congress today.

How today’s system works:

In 48 states, (all except Maine and Nebraska) the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in their state receives all of that state’s electoral votes. A state’s number of electors equals its number of US Representatives and Senators.

Although ballots list the names of the presidential candidates, when voters within the 50 states and Washington, DC vote for President and Vice President, they’re actually choosing electors proposed by the Parties in their state. These presidential electors then cast electoral votes for those two offices, so the EC elects the President or Vice President, not the popular vote.

Despite what you might think, the Constitution reserves the power to appoint electors to the states. Here is Article 2, Section 1; Clause 2:

Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.

So it is clear that each state has the exclusive right to determine how their state electors are selected.

The proposed Republican “tweak”:

The Republican tweak apportions electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the vote in each congressional district. The two remaining electors would go to whomever wins the statewide vote. States considering moving to allocating electoral votes to the candidate winning in each congressional district include Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia – all have legislatures controlled by Republicans. Two, Virginia and Minnesota, currently have Democratic governors, so at this point, they could veto the proposed legislation.

After the 2010 census, 55% of all congressional districts were redrawn to favor Republicans, while just 10% were redrawn to benefit Democrats. In 2016, Trump carried 230 districts to just 205 for Hillary Clinton, even though Clinton won nearly 3 million more votes nationally. So if every state awarded electoral votes by congressional district, Trump would have still prevailed. And guess what? Mitt Romney would also have won in 2012, and George W. Bush would have won in 2000.

The tweak takes voting power away from cities and puts more in suburban and rural areas, making it more likely that a candidate with fewer votes over all could routinely win a larger share of electoral votes. And thanks in part to recent poor performance by Democrats, 32 States now have Republican-controlled legislatures.

Should we be talking about this at all? Debating whether to pass bills to reduce the value of an urban vote to a fraction of the value of other voters?

Sounds like a Republican paradise.

An advantage of the EC is that it tends to improve the winner’s margin of victory and thus the presidential mandate at the beginning of his/her term in office. Also, it ensures that candidates actually campaign in more states, rather than in fewer. Would anyone campaign in NH when they could garner many times more popular votes in a couple of counties in California? They do it today because NH’s four electoral votes can make a difference.

The president doesn’t represent congressional districts. The president represents all the people, which is why the ONLY reasonable reform to the EC is a nationwide popular vote.

The fact remains that Republicans have the ability to make this happen. Allowing statehouses to decide presidential elections will have undemocratic consequences. Keeping politicians from making the Electoral College subject to gerrymander is crucial.

To help us pause and reflect on this threat, here is Leonard Cohen with “Democracy” from his 1992 album, “The Future”, here performed in 2008 live in London:

Cohen said this about the song:

It’s a song of deep intimacy and affirmation of the experiment of democracy in this country. That this is really where the experiment is unfolding. This is really where the races confront one another, where the classes, where the genders, where even the sexual orientations confront one another. This is the real laboratory of democracy.

Let’s hope the experiment doesn’t fail.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

Sample lyrics:
I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can’t stand the scene.
And I’m neither left or right
I’m just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I’m junk but I’m still holding up
this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.


The Pant Load Party

Happy Friday! You are busy, and don’t need a long-form note from Wrongo. But, here are a few items you may have missed that accurately describe the Republican Party today:

First, The GOP didn’t follow its own rules during a vote on Thursday. The subject was a measure to ensure protections for the LGBT community in federal contracts, and it failed to pass after “initially passing” during the time allotted for members to vote. Then, the Republican leadership urged their members to change their votes. The leadership kept the vote open as they pressured members to change sides, allowing lawmakers switch their votes without following the “Regular Order”  process of walking to the well at the front of the chamber.

By changing their votes, the House GOP inserted a poison pill that overrides Obama’s executive order banning LGBTQ discrimination in federal defense contracts. From The Hill:

Initially, it appeared Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s (D-NY) amendment had passed, as 217 “yes” votes piled up over 206 “no” votes when the clock ran out. The measure needed 213 votes to pass. But it eventually failed, 212-213, after a number of Republican lawmakers changed their votes from “yes” to “no” after the clock had expired.

More from The Hill:

According to the office of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD.), at least seven Republicans changed their votes, including Reps. Jeff Denham (Calif.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Bruce Poliquin (Maine), David Valadao (Calif.), Greg Walden (Ore.), Mimi Walters (Calif.) and David Young (Iowa). Denham, Valadao, Poliquin and Young are among the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection this year. Walden, meanwhile, chairs the House GOP campaign arm.

Twenty-nine Republicans voted for Maloney’s amendment to a spending bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs and military construction projects, along with all Democrats in the final roll call.

But the awesome kicker was House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “see and hear no evil”: When asked about the vote-switching, Ryan denied knowing whether his leadership team pressured Republicans:

I don’t know the answer. I don’t even know…

He then defended the provision in the defense bill: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

This is federalism, the states should do this. The federal government shouldn’t stick its nose in [the states’] its business

Simpler Paul Ryan: The federal government has no business regulating federal defense contracts. That should be left to the states. You know that even Paul Ryan is smarter than that.

Second, The Donald at a Chris Christie funds-raiser in NJ:

Look, a lot of you don’t know the world of economics and you shouldn’t even bother. Just do me a favor, leave it to me.

If you are in the audience, you are insulted, but still cheering. Or this: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

My trade deal is very simple, I am going to make great deals for our country…It [the trade deals?] might be free, it might not be free.

Yes, he said those two things in the same speech. Do either of those statements cause you to trust that you will be better off after a Trump administration?

Finally, this perspective from Matt Taibbi in the Rolling Stone on May 18th after Cruz conceded:

If this isn’t the end for the Republican Party, it’ll be a shame. They dominated American political life for 50 years and were never anything but monsters. They bred in their voters the incredible attitude that Republicans were the only people within our borders who raised children, loved their country, died in battle or paid taxes. They even sullied the word “American” by insisting they were the only real ones…their idea of an intellectual was Newt Gingrich. Their leaders, from Ralph Reed to Bill Frist to Tom DeLay to Rick Santorum to Romney and Ryan, were an interminable assembly line of shrieking, witch-hunting celibates, all with the same haircut – the kind of people who thought Iran-Contra was nothing, but would grind the affairs of state to a halt over a blow job or Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube.

A Cruz supporter lamented: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

People don’t care about civility anymore…Why are we [Republicans] so mean?’

But the real question is, “Why vote for the GOP?”

You know, why vote for a Pant Load Republican who tells you not to worry about economics.

Or a Pant Load Republican who tells you he didn’t know what happened with a House vote that passed after it didn’t pass, a vote, that in effect, vitiated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for federal contracts.

That very same Pant Load who says we should leave regulating federal contractors to the states.


Are the Bundys America’s Y’all Qaeda?

Off Topic: Here is your last Santa photo of the season. Santa dodges tear gas in Bethlehem, 2015:

Santa in Bethlehem



Source: The Economist

Everyone is following the story of the standoff in Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, waiting for the next ugly shoe to drop: Will the authorities shut down the Ammon Bundy crew? Will bullets fly? Will they wait them out? As Josh Marshall said: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

…we just confirmed from Oregon State police the Ammon Bundy and his crew, who appear to be running low on supplies (Fritos, beef jerky, pizza, etc.) are actually free to come and go as they please. So if they need more food they can just leave the standoff, drive off to the nearest grocery store on a food run and come back and keep up the historic siege.

More from Marshall:

We look at the ridiculously inconsistent way law enforcement handles white right-wing freaks as opposed to other people who break the law or threaten violence…the import should not be that federal law enforcement should just rush in and kill everyone. Using force should be a last resort. And, within reason, if you can just wait people out and then charge them with whatever crimes they committed, great.

Seems like some liberals are willing to work really hard not to create an incident with the Bundy crew, or as Tengrain calls them, Y’all Qaeda. Here’s Booman, commenting on Marshall:

The double standard in how these white men are treated and how, say, Tamir Rice was treated couldn’t be more glaring. However, delivering Ruby Ridge Part Deux just to be consistent is maybe the dumbest idea ever written down by a liberal. The easiest way to end a siege is simply to refuse to besiege them.

Wrongo gets that the Feds and the local authorities don’t want another Waco or Ruby Ridge, but if we had nipped the Bundy problem in the bud when it arose in Nevada, this subsequent event might not have happened.

The Malheur was poorly managed before and after the government took over. Nancy Langston, professor of environmental history at Michigan Technological University wrote about Malheur in the NYT:

By the 1930s, after four decades of overgrazing, irrigation withdrawals, grain agriculture, dredging and channelization, followed by several years of drought, Malheur had become a dust bowl.

The Bundys and fellow travelers refuse to accept that We, the People, already own and run the land. That we determine how to use it. The protesters might not like this, but even if it went back into private hands, it would be a matter of little time before overgrazing brings back dust bowl conditions to the area, and these free marketers ask for federal disaster assistance.

The common thread is the continuing story of corporate welfare in the American West: under-market grazing fees, under-market water rights, under-priced mineral rights, crop subsidies, ad nauseam. And the cry is always the same: “the government is ruining our way of life” (by interrupting the flow of subsidies). The question is whether this “way of life” is sustainable if it’s not supported by the American taxpayer.

Back to the occupation of the Wildlife Refuge:

• We can ignore them until they get bored and go home, but what if they don’t go home?
• OTOH, we can say it’s an armed standoff with the federal government. The very opposite of legitimate protest.

We need to remember that this has its genesis with Cliven Bundy in Utah. There, the Feds backed down to avoid an armed incident, and Cliven Bundy still has not paid his grazing fees. It’s as if threatened violence caused the US government back down. We acted moderately, and now 21 months later, another Bundy is edging up to another armed standoff about other federal land in Oregon.

When we are moderate in the Middle East, the neo-cons say we are emboldening the bad guys. If we move on these guys with guns, the neo-cons will say we are stopping a legitimate protest.

Let’s ask the Y’all Qaeda to leave, letting them know the legal penalties for staying.

Finally, if all else fails, send in unarmed officers to arrest them. The feds should ask for volunteer officers to go in 100% unarmed to arrest these people.

They should tell the media exactly what’s happening. Let every cable and network television channel go live as the federal officers go in, armed only with handcuffs.

Don’t shoot our way in, making them martyrs or giving them a defense of armed self-protection.

If the situation gets adversarial, then of course arrest them, by any means necessary.

See you on Sunday.


Paris: A Time for Bed-wetting, or Leadership?

From Krugman:

So what was Friday’s attack about? Killing random people in restaurants and at concerts is a strategy that reflects its perpetrators’ fundamental weakness. It isn’t going to establish a caliphate in Paris. What it can do, however, is inspire fear — which is why we call it terrorism, and shouldn’t dignify it with the name of war.

It is always better to wait a day before reacting to something like the Paris attacks. It’s easy to say “We have to do something”, that our response must be vicious and overwhelming. Let’s call that “bed-wetting.” As used here, bed-wetting isn’t a physical or psychological term, it is describing the emotional response to fear that causes us say “do something!” So put French President Hollande into the “bed-wetting” category. He said that France would engage in “pitiless war”, as if some wars involve pity.

Really? A “war” on terrorists? Does that sound familiar to anyone? We know how that ends.

It is bed-wetting when several US state governors respond to Paris by announcing the ban of Syrian immigrants.

Other “bed-wetting” examples are Republicans ratcheting up the rhetoric, intimating that what’s being done by President Obama has failed to keep the country safe. Some are calling for an increased US footprint in the Middle East, including “boots on the ground,” and an increased role for the NSA in surveillance and intelligence-gathering capabilities.

So, can we see beyond bed-wetting to leadership? This is certainly a time for leadership. But what are the chances? Mr. Obama is in Turkey for the G20 meetings. He has conferred with Putin. Did they talk concretely about cooperating in Syria?

Obama is also meeting with Erdogan, the Saudi king and the Emir of Qatar about how to combat ISIS, despite the fact that all of them are ISIS sponsors. Will anything come from those meetings?

Bed-wetting says terror is about Islam, and leadership is about the bold use of our military. The roughly one billion Muslims who aren’t currently engaged in killing us (or each other) must be made part of the solution through leadership. Yet, bed-wetting demonizes all of them.

So, what should we do?

We need to stop pussyfooting around what we know to be true.

1. We should declare war on ISIS and Al Qaeda. A declaration of war forces us to get beyond posturing and political finger-pointing.
2. It is high time we tell Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States to stop funding the head choppers and suicide bombers. We have to say, “One more dollar to the jihadists, and we no longer buy your oil”, regardless of the consequences. The friend of my enemy is my enemy.
3. We must recruit Russia and Iran as allies in this fight. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. This means we must stop demonizing Putin about Crimea and Ukraine, at least for the time being.
4. Europe must re-establish strict border controls.
5. Erdogan’s facilitating of a Muslim invasion of Europe must end.
6. The West must accept that Syria’s Assad is going to stay in power for a while.
7. We must accept the cooperation of all who fight ISIS, including Hezbollah, despite what Israel might say.

Now, none of the above points will be supported by the bed-wetters. Their dependence on the politics of fear prevents them from thinking outside of the neocon box. As Charlie Pierce said:

A 242-ship Navy will not stop one motivated murderous fanatic from emptying the clip of an AK-47 into the windows of a crowded restaurant. The F-35 fighter plane will not stop a group of motivated murderous fanatics from detonating bombs at a soccer match. A missile-defense shield in Poland will not stop a platoon of motivated murderous fanatics from opening up in a jammed concert hall, or taking hostages, or taking themselves out with suicide belts when the police break down the doors.

Posturing about Russia and Iran fall into the same category.

We must accept that there will be Paris-type attacks inside the US homeland. Despite our huge anti-terror funding of the police, the possibility of jihadi success here is real. The Paris model of mostly local French and Belgian jihadis born of Muslim immigrants is also a viable model for attacks in the US.

It’s very human to fall for the ‘we’ vs ‘them’ meme. Because it feels good, and you can be sure it makes those around you feel good too. But that is only an illusion in times of fear and insecurity, when we don’t have a simple answer.

Leadership or bed-wetting. You choose.


Waiting for the Great Trumpkin

Today, we focus on this from the WaPo’s Marc Fisher who profiles the kind of people who support Donald Trump and finds they are mostly older white men and women:

The way Joe McCoy sees it, the last time America was great was when Ronald Reagan was president, when people played by the rules. No, it was in the ’70s, Holly Martin says, when you could depend on Americans to work hard. No, to find true American greatness, Steve Trivett contends, you need to go back to before the Vietnam War, ‘when you could still own a home and have a good job even if you didn’t have a college education.’

Fisher says this demographic resonates with the Donald’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again”. And even if they don’t agree on exactly why, they do accept Trump’s contention that the US has become “an economic wasteland” and that it is “committing cultural suicide.”

The premise behind “Make America Great Again” is that while the country is no longer great, it can be great again, and Trump is the can-do billionaire who can make that happen.

This can be difficult to watch, like a slowly-developing accident on the freeway. People seem so easily misled, and they say such unsophisticated things about immigration, about Putin and Syria, about our economy, about the threat from Muslims who live in America.

But do we have good Party establishment choices in the 2016 election? No, voters don’t have good, clear choices, despite the unprecedented number of candidates.

Republicans made their voters a bunch of promises over the past 10 years, some of which they had no hope of keeping, and others which they had no intention of actually delivering. It’s also clear that the Republican “Establishment” is frustrated with the Republican candidates, and their supporters who actually expected the Party to be more effective. That’s why so many Republican voters have no interest in Jeb Bush or Scott Walker, and it’s clear that the GOP Establishment misunderstands their own base.

So, Donald Trump appeals to many Republicans as someone who’s pretty effective at holding the media’s attention and driving the national conversation. Someone who looks to be a better bet to actually shake things up and make possible a few things that currently look impossible.

It might be a GOP Hail Mary pass, but what’s the alternative?

For Democrats, Hillary Clinton looks like the candidate who’s “turn” has finally come. She is a product of their “establishment” as much as Jeb Bush is of the GOP’s.

And is it really all that different that the progressive left looks to Bernie Sanders to create a “revolution” in the political climate, making a progressive America possible? Sanders may be more of a Hail Mary pass than Trump.

Since both parties suck and won’t work together, many on both sides are looking for an anti-establishment Messiah to lead them to the political Promised Land. What makes this risk seem worth it is that, while folks understand they’re inviting chaos, they feel our politics are already chaotic. So, people think “What’s the difference?”

And it’s hard to argue with them. American politics feels like a metaphor of Easter Island: Some of us spend our lives trying to get new trees to grow, while the majority are happy to keep chopping down the old ones as fast as they can.

Trump is saying if we vote for him, he’ll make it all better. And if you read Senator Sander’s stump speech, you’d know he is saying he can’t do it alone, that people have to get together and organize to effect change.

That is “a substantive difference” between these two “insurgents”.

That’s why Bernie Sanders’ use of the Democratic Socialist label is disorienting. It shakes people out of their normal process enough to wonder how he thinks he could possibly win. He can’t.

And the mainstream media and both party establishments say: “things really aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be.” They hope that in the end, most voters will agree with their sentiment, and vote for their establishment candidates.

But voters have spent decades lowering their expectations (in Wrongo’s case, except for a short-lived upswing in 2008). Screw that. People need to raise their expectations. Because lower expectations and the “what did you expect” attitude is essentially giving permission for poor results.

We need to expect MORE, demand more.

Because it’s better to have high expectations with the risk of disappointment, than it is to have low expectations that guarantee more of the same old stuff.


Obamacare: A Success?

Gallup and Healthways 2015 Q2 survey shows that the uninsured rate among US adults aged 18 and older was 11.4% in the second quarter of 2015, down from 11.9% in the first quarter. The uninsured rate has dropped nearly six percentage points since the fourth quarter of 2013, just before the requirement for Americans to carry health insurance took effect. The latest quarterly uninsured rate is the lowest Gallup and Healthways have recorded since daily tracking of this metric began in 2008. The recent Supreme Court ruling in King v. Burwell affirmed the legality of subsidies provided to those obtaining insurance through the Affordable Care Act via a federal or state exchange. Here are Gallup’s findings:
Uninsured Coverage Gallup















So, a byzantine insurance scheme originally designed by the Heritage Foundation as a way to keep the insurance cartel from suffering too much, now looks like a success, if reducing the numbers of the uninsured was the goal. But, once it went into effect, it became collectivism to Republicans, with the label “Obamacare” as if it had sprung fully formed from the mind of a Kenyan Socialist.

Here is a second data point, the use of subsidies by ACA insured by state:

Obamacare in states

Why Bloomberg thinks Massachusetts is a red state is unexplainable, despite the fact that it has a Republican governor. But, it does serve to lower the red state average a bit. Poor states use more subsidies. Not exactly a surprise:

• These are the states where workers regularly vote against unions, even when it means job losses as in the case of Volkswagen in Tennessee.
• Where else but in a red state could the US manager of the new Mercedes plant be arrested at a traffic stop as a potential illegal immigrant?
• Where else would they fly a rebel flag 150 years after surrender? Many of these same states also get large federal agricultural subsidies, but that is acceptable, because the subsidies mainly go to wealthy individuals and corporations.

But, almost half of Americans still oppose Obamacare. Failure was inevitable, success inconceivable, and therefore failure must have happened.

Now there is an agreement in principle to the Greek debt crisis after all. Here, as explained in terms of Grease the musical, is your cliff notes version of the situation. You will not be disappointed if you watch:

For those who read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.