Expanding The Dem’s Voter Base

The Daily Escape:

Artist’s Point, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, AZ-UT – October photo by Alan Seltzer

Ruy Teixeira explains the political (and messaging) dilemma facing Democrats in 2021:

“A recent Gallup release confirmed that Democrats now have about as many liberals in the party as moderates or conservatives. That liberalism has been mostly driven by increasing liberalism among white Democrats which has spiked upward 20 points since the early 2000s. White Democrats are now a solidly liberal constituency. Not so black and Hispanic Democrats who are overwhelmingly moderate or conservative.”

The contrast is particularly striking among Whites who are college graduates and working class (non-college) nonwhites. The Gallup data show that two-thirds of White college grads are liberal while 70% of Black working class and two-thirds of Hispanic working class Democrats are moderate or conservative.

This takes on additional relevance because in 2020, 63% of voters did not have college degrees, and 74% of voters came from households making less than $100,000 a year. This should make it painfully obvious that, if issues and rhetoric that appeal mostly to college-educated White liberals are promoted, Democrats could see serious attrition among Democrat working class nonwhites who dislike those issues and rhetoric.

It’s hard to build a majority if you’re focused on a minority of the electorate. The internal conflict between Democrats, displayed by the Gallup poll mentioned above by Teixeira, pits the Party’s progressives against its moderates, its college-educated against its working class.

Like the modern Democrats, the Whigs cobbled together their party in the late 1830s out of an assortment of constituencies, many of whom had little in common. The Whig Party was formed to counter President Andrew Jackson and the Jacksonian Democrats. They were one of the two major political parties in the US from the late 1830s through the early 1850s and managed to elect two presidents: William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor.

By the mid-1850s, the Whigs were divided by the issue of slavery, particularly as the country had to decide whether new states would be admitted as slave or non-slave states. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 overturned the Missouri Compromise and allowed each territory to decide for itself whether it would be a slave or free state. Anti-slavery Whigs then spun off to found the Republican Party in 1854.

Is the modern Democratic Party on the precipice of becoming the new Whigs? The Whigs were a coalition of bankers, lawyers, and the Eastern mercantile class. In the South, Whigs worked to put a moral face on slavery. This allowed the Whigs to cultivate political distance from what was becoming a party of southern Democrats happy to extend slavery in new states, and a northern base of what we call “blue collar” (white) workers.

The Whigs couldn’t continue bridging the ideological distance between the Northern industrial states section of the party and the Southern agribusiness/slavery Whigs. Faced with this dilemma, the party broke apart.

If the Democrats are to remain one Party, a new poll by Jacobin, YouGov, and the Center for Working-Class Politics offers a perspective on how to win among working-class voters. They found that:

  • Candidates who prioritized bread-and-butter issues (jobs, health care, the economy), and presented them in plainspoken, universalist rhetoric, performed significantly better than those who had other priorities or used other language. That preference was even more pronounced in rural and small-town areas, where Democrats have struggled in recent years.
  • Candidates who named elites as a major cause of America’s problems, invoked anger at the status quo, and celebrated the working class were well received among working-class voters.
  • Potential Democratic working-class voters did not shy away from candidates who strongly opposed racism. But candidates who framed that opposition in identity-focused language fared significantly worse than candidates who embraced either populist or mainstream language.

The survey proposed multiple sound bites spoken by potential candidates to survey respondents to rank. The most popular sound bite was the “progressive populist” one:

“This country belongs to all of us, not just the super-rich. But for years, politicians in Washington have turned their backs on people who work for a living. We need tough leaders who won’t give in to the millionaires and the lobbyists, but will fight for good jobs, good wages, and guaranteed health care for every single American.”

This has implications for the 2022 mid-terms. Keep Trump off the table unless, by some miracle, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attempted coup refers charges to the DOJ and the DOJ acts on it. Another key finding was that those surveyed felt Democrats run too far left on certain priorities:

This is also key for building Democrats’ messaging in 2022. You can read the full report here.

Democrats need to think about what it will take to do two things simultaneously: How to stay together as a Party, and how to retain majorities in the House and Senate.

It won’t be simple, but everything depends on it.

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Dems Must Persuade the Persuadable

The Daily Escape:

Sunrise, Jensen Beach, FL – November 2021 photo by Patrice Ostradick

More about the Dem’s messaging problem. The latest jobs report showed that we added more than 530,000 new jobs in October. And the DOL also revised its estimates for September and August, confirming an additional 235,000 positions were created.

That’s 766,000 jobs we didn’t know about until last Friday.

The news sent the Dow Jones upward (again). It ended at another all-time high, 36,327. Since Biden was elected last year, the market is up 40%. That’s $14 trillion in new wealth that has landed in quite a few pockets. But the media still covered a Biden administration in disarray. From Eric Boehlert:

“…on Friday, news consumers visiting WashingtonPost.com had to scroll down past 75 different stories and links before they found the first mention of the blockbuster jobs report…..at the top of the Post site Friday afternoon was a column about how the White House is having trouble spreading good news about the economy.”

Again, the media going all “gotcha” on Biden. And it’s having an impact on his poll numbers, which took another dive in a USA Today poll over the weekend that shows Republicans holding a lead on the 2022 Congressional ballot. It found that Biden lost support among the Independent voters who delivered his margin of victory over Trump one year ago:

  • 46% said Biden has done a worse job as president than they expected, including 16% of those who voted for him. Independents, by 7-1 (44%-6%), say he’s done worse, not better, than they expected.
  • 64% said they didn’t want Biden to run for a second term in 2024. That includes 28% of Democrats.

Democrats need to understand their peril. The NYT’s front-page story, “Americans Are Flush With Cash and Jobs. They Also Think the Economy Is Awful” shows their dilemma. The economy is by all accounts on fire, but consumers and voters think it’s floundering. You might question just who is flush with cash, but the negative views of the economy seem to be tied to the effects that rising prices and shortages have on families. Regardless of the exact causes, after decades where the lack of jobs drove economic sentiment, inflation now appears to be a force driving opinion about the economy.

Prices for many consumer goods are rising, and as we said yesterday, it’s impossible to win elections by telling voters that their concerns are imaginary. From Bloomberg (paywalled):

“It’s not all negativity: A record-high 74% of respondents told Gallup in October that this is a good time to find a quality job, and 65% told AP-NORC pollsters that their personal financial situation was good. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose in October and, while lower than before the pandemic, is higher than at any time between 2001 and 2017.”

The reality is that consumer prices have risen faster over the past six months than at any time since the early 1980s. And there’s increasing evidence of a partisan bias in consumer sentiment, with most people judging the economy more favorably when the person they voted for is president.

Remember that the USA Today poll says 64% think Biden shouldn’t run in 2024. Maybe some of today’s economic pessimism has to do with people downgrading their view of Biden’s competence after the surge in the Delta variant that killed so many, while our messy withdrawal from Afghanistan was seen by many as humiliating.

The Democrats’ conundrum is how to respond both to the economic concerns and the cultural attacks. They can’t win by simply pointing to their actual policies on specific issues. They must respond to the attacks on “wrong way for the country” by honing a message that works for the persuadable Independents. We live in a 40-40-20 country in which 40% percent are hard-wired for either Party, and 20% are swing voters, who are primarily located in the suburbs. They largely control the outcome of elections.

Democrats need to study the art of persuasion. The Right is driven by nostalgia: they want to go back to a “simpler time”. The Left is motivated by change, to ensure rights for all, whether that’s healthcare or fair wages. if Democrats want to win against the highly organized right-wing media ecosystem, they must find a series of messages to persuade Independents.

We need a tune for Tuesday. Here’s Willy Nile with something brand new, “The Justice Bell” a tribute to John Lewis, from his August 2021 album, “The Day The Earth Stood Still”:

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Monday Wake Up Call – Messaging Edition, November 8, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Catskill Mountains and Hudson River from Rhinebeck, NY – October photo by hikingfordonuts

Wrongo on Sunday pointed out that polling shows that only 30% of Americans think the US is on the right track, despite tons of good economic news. The poll was by NBC just before the November elections. It showed that 70% thought the US is moving in the wrong direction. It also showed Biden’s job performance approval rating at 42%, a sharp drop from 49% in August and 53 % in April.

In addition to the great jobs report, the record stock market, and a booming economy, in less than a year, Biden has withdrawn forces from Afghanistan and passed a substantial Infrastructure Bill. These are two Trump priorities that he couldn’t accomplish during his four-year administration.

The Infrastructure Bill is an unambiguous case in which Biden succeeded where Trump failed. You may think that the Afghanistan exit was messy, but both Biden and Trump were on that same page, and now, we’re out with minimal casualties.

So, what’s the disconnect between Biden’s performance and perception of his performance? It’s that Democrats have a huge messaging problem. Don Draper suggested that when you don’t like what’s being said, you should change the conversation.

From Diane Feldman: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“Most people want to feel safe in their communities, have health care when they need it, and have the opportunity for economic advancement for themselves and their children. Wanting those things is not very divisive along political lines nor by race, class, or gender….Voters are more likely to trust someone who articulates the goals and connects the policies to them than someone who argues the details of a particular policy or spending level. While there are differences between Democratic progressives and moderates on policy, most voters really don’t engage with those.”

It’s questionable if the Democrats could have pushed an upbeat, optimistic message in the election while they were also insisting that America urgently needed funding for social policies. That contradiction may be worth them exploring in more depth.

Virginia’s governor-elect Youngkin demonstrated that Republicans who use identity politics without embracing Trump’s extremist rhetoric can be highly competitive, including in solidly Blue states like New Jersey. And it’s worrying that Dems seem to believe that Youngkin was an extremist posing as a suburban dad (he is), who MSNBC’s Joy Reid said incited “white backlash” by exploiting “fake” and “imaginary” fears about the teaching of “critical race theory” (CRT) in public schools.

But that doesn’t explain the inroads Youngkin made in Blue suburbs. Voters usually consider education to be an important issue. They tend to trust Democrats to handle it better than Republicans. But, according to one Virginia poll the week before the election, Youngkin led McAuliffe by 3% among likely voters, but by 15% among K–12 parents.

So, like it or not, parental views about CRT and local control of public education were a real thing to Virginia voters.

Democrats must develop a plan for how they can avoid further political losses when Republicans across the country emulate Youngkin’s strategy. Here’s The Atlantic’s Yascha Mounk: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“For anybody who cares about making sure that Donald Trump does not become the 47th president of the United States, it is crucial that Democrats avoid repeating the mistakes that just put a Republican in Virginia’s governor’s mansion. It is impossible to win elections by telling voters that their concerns are imaginary. If Democrats keep doing so, they will keep losing.”

Democrats are led by a group of geriatrics who no longer are able to communicate. They have no real social media skills or traditional cable media machine (MSNBC isn’t the answer) to create messaging that resonates. Sadly, the traditional media is biased against them. If you doubt that, read the sub-headlines on Saturday’s front page of the NYT:

For the NYT, a Democrat win isn’t really a win. Democrats need to be crafting winning narratives. The only way that will happen is through ongoing, targeted, year-round campaigns. Not simply more speeches by geriatrics from behind podiums.

There are Democrats and Democrat-leaning voters out there. But in Red areas, they are demoralized and are sometimes hiding in plain sight. They think they are alone. Democrats have to show these demoralized Americans they are not alone, assuming the Party expects them to turn out and challenge the looming conservative majority.

Time for Democrats to wake up! Unless the messaging changes, the endgame is that Democratic voters will continue to sort into the most populated states, and Republicans will gain a permanent supermajority in the Senate. If current trends continue, in 2040 half of the US population will live in eight states.

To help them wake up, listen to Gil Scott-Heron’s “Pieces of a Man” from his 1974 album “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”:

Sample Lyric:

I saw my daddy greet the mailman
And I heard the mailman say
“Now don’t you take this letter to heart now, Jimmy
‘Cause they’ve laid off nine others today”
But he didn’t know what he was saying
He could hardly understand
That he was only talking to Pieces of a man

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – November 7, 2021

A few start-of-the-week thoughts. First, compare and contrast: The result of New Jersey’s election for governor must be “legal and fair” no matter the outcome, Republican candidate Jack Ciattarelli said in his first comments after the AP declared incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy the election’s winner. BTW, Ciattarelli hasn’t conceded the election. Republicans say NJ’s Murphy won in a squeaker, an almost illegitimate (and certainly embarrassing) margin of 77,000 votes.

OTOH in Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin won a landslide victory by 79,000 votes. Terry McAuliffe the Democrat in the Virginia race, conceded. And Youngkin’s 17 year-old son was reported to have tried to vote twice for his dad. That’s a problem since he’s underage. And attempting to break the law twice, well, that’s just youthful exuberance.

Republicans are all about election integrity. It must be nice to not care about hypocrisy or inconsistency. Maybe that’s what Republicans mean when they say they are defending freedom — it’s the freedom to have no principles.

Second, the economy: The Dow is over 36,000, unemployment has dropped from 6.3% in Jan. to 4.8% today. Over 5.6 million jobs have been added, that’s more jobs added under Biden in 9 months than in the 16 years of the last three GOP administrations combined. We’ve managed to give 220 million shots of Covid vaccine in 10 months. But only 30% of Americans think the US is on the right track. Democrats have a huge messaging problem. On to cartoons.

NOW they don’t see a problem:

Will Dems get the message?

The message didn’t work for those nice Aryan people:

Kids ask questions. Answers are simple:

The GOP hits keep coming…

2006: Gay people will force you to gay marry
2010: Muslims will make you conform to Sharia law
2016: Bad brown people are coming in caravans to kill you
2020: Socialism is coming. It will give everyone healthcare, not just the elderly
2021: Teachers will teach white kids to hate themselves if they learn about Emmitt Till

Biden deals with two climate crises:

Republican wet dream:

 

 

 

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Saturday Soother – November 6, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Bear Canyon, Tucson AZ – October photo by Carla Mitchell

Way back in 2020 (remember 2020?), Democrats campaigned on raising taxes on the rich. It’s still something that polls show a majority of Americans want. But House Dems are now proposing to raise the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, rather than eliminate it. The SALT tax limitation was one of the few responsible measures in the GOP’s 2017 tax-cut bill since it raised revenue mostly from wealthy people.

Wrongo lives in a state where the federal limitation of $10k on SALT taxes leaves him paying additional federal taxes. But most Americans are not impacted by the current limit on SALT deductions. Increasing it would primarily benefit America’s high income earners plus some middle class urban and suburban homeowners.

The WaPo was unhappy with the Dems new proposal:

“House Democrats released Wednesday a new draft of their big social spending and climate bill — tucked inside of which was a massive new payoff to wealthy people. The Democrats’ bill is supposed to make the nation fairer and more competitive. This cynical, wasteful policy should have no place in it.”

A handful of Democrats from Blue states say they will oppose Biden’s major social spending bill if it fails to include SALT cap “relief.” Once again, the fault lines within the Democratic Party are visible. Pelosi is in a bind. Refuse the demands for repeal of the SALT cap, and Dems won’t have the votes to pass either Biden’s big bill or the infrastructure bill. And since they already have a problem finding new revenue to offset the costs of their programs, so this will make that job a little harder. More from WaPo:

“Under the House plan, the amount of state and local taxes people can deduct would rise from $10,000 to $72,500. This gives high-income people a $23,000 tax break. The Tax Foundation, a think tank, estimates that 70% of the tax change would flow to the people making $250,000 or more. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reckons that the plan would cost $300 billion, which would make it the third-most costly item in the bill — far more than it would devote to major anti-poverty programs.”

No one who owes $72,500 in state and local taxes is middle-income, but the SALT deduction does help many in the middle class, at least in the Blue states. Since most Blue states are also high tax states, not having a limitation literally saves $ thousands in taxes for some in the middle class. It had been that way for decades until the GOP capped it in 2017 and gave that money to the rich by lowering their taxes.

Finally capping the SALT hurts the resale possibilities for some otherwise modest homes in high tax areas. They’re not going to appeal to a purchaser when the mortgage payment is about the same as the tax payment every month. When a new buyer can’t completely deduct all of their property tax and local income taxes, it can make even a modest home look like a bad financial decision.

Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) unveiled an alternative plan that would keep the SALT cap, but exempt people who make less than $400,000 per year. That seems like a good idea. The House can repeal the SALT cap for those earning under $400,000 bringing it in line with the rest of Biden’s tax plan. This would help some in the middle class, although passing the Biden tax reform is still necessary.

It’s Saturday, and therefore, time for us to put away our concerns about what happened in Virginia or whether Manchin is simply a time-waster. And let’s calm ourselves as we kick off the weekend. It’s time for our Saturday Soother.

Here in CT, it was 29° Friday morning, making it three mornings of frost in a row. Our snowblower is coming back from the repair shop, and most plants are beginning their winter dormancy. At the Mansion of Wrong, we’ve finished repairs to our bluestone walkway.

With a cold, clear weekend on tap, we all should bundle up and sit in a comfy chair by a window. Today, let’s start with a hot steaming cup of Toasted Coconut coffee ($18.99/12oz) from BD Provisions in New Milford CT.

And after another tough week, let’s watch and listen to Sting perform “If It’s Love” from his 2021 album “The Bridge.” This song will put you in a good mood. And the dancers are wonderful. Watch it!

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Democrats Fail

The Daily Escape:

Black Oak trees in Shastice Park, CA with Mount Shasta in background – October 2021 photo via Northern California Hiking Trails

Every political writer thinks that Tuesday’s elections reinforced their preconceived view of what the Democratic Party needs. The Dems spilled gallons of metaphorical blood by blindly walking into a political propeller on Election Day.

Wrongo wants to add his two cents to the story, so he turns to a Republican for perspective. Charlie Sykes says:

“The Republican Party — populated with cranks, crooks, clowns, bigots and deranged conspiracy theorists — has spent five years alienating women, minorities and young voters….So, now, Democrats need to ask themselves this rather urgent question: Why can’t we beat these guys?

A few words about the Virginia gubernatorial election, won by Republican Glenn Youngkin. All the talk about white suburban women being the new Democratic Party base isn’t true in Virginia. A year ago, Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 points. Four years ago, Democrat Ralph Northan won the governorship by nine. Last night, Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic former governor, lost it by two points.

Youngkin won because he convinced enough Joe Biden voters to switch sides. The Virginia suburbs have a large college-educated population. These voters moved strongly to the Democrats both times Trump ran. This time, Youngkin won enough of them without sacrificing votes from Trump’s base.

Terry McAuliffe is a terrible candidate. He walks into the room dragging the whiff of campaigns by both Clintons, but without any of Bill Clinton’s charm or political skill. McAuliffe tried to nationalize a local campaign, trying to run against Trump instead of Youngkin. Youngkin, by contrast, made a point of sticking strictly to in-state issues. Youngkin also came across as the nicer guy.

Youngkin had been the co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, a huge private equity firm with deep DC political ties. If this had been a real campaign, McAuliffe would have attacked Youngkin as a capitalist who wouldn’t do a thing for the middle class. But since McAuliffe is an investor in a Carlyle fund, he didn’t.

Welcome to today’s Democrats!

The Democratic Party’s basic issue is that it’s out of touch with average people. As an example, we’re in a time of growing pro-labor sentiment, but the leadership of the Democratic Party says little to the working class. The switch has been flipped. Now many Democrats are rich, and blue collar workers are Republicans. Getting them back will take years, if ever.

Also, each time the Democrats have a victory based in political change, they move back to the center, alienating those to whom they gave hope. So why should that part of their base continue to show up and vote?

American politics is polarized by cultural issues. Outside of marginal economic questions, Democrats have taken the big economic issues off the table. They’re at a disadvantage, because Republican cultural issues have broader appeal, while the Democrat cultural issues appeal to mostly the college-educated, who are a minority of voters. That means whenever Dems get in power, they can’t really change the policies that the monied and corporate classes want.

Wrongo thinks that it was good that the Dems lost in Virginia. Virginia, now led by Republicans, will also try to pass the same social warrior cultural programs as other Red states. The meanness and tone-deafness of those programs will horrify suburban Virginians. And they will swing back in 2024.

Still, senior national Democratic leadership needs an overhaul. They’re old and incompetent. How difficult is it to establish whether bringing in the big guns for a local election is going to be positive or negative for a campaign? The power of money in elections means that the first priority for any race is a candidate with the ability to raise money. This is why we see McAuliffe a second time, and not someone better.

That’s corruption, as Elizabeth Warren defined it in 2020.  Add the callous way Democrats react:

  • They speak of the opposition as stupid, or brain-dead. As deplorables, or as clinging to their guns and religion.
  • Their radicalization of wedge issues like “Defund the Police”, or Supreme Court Packing reveal them to be intellectually lazy.

McAuliffe said about angry parents attending school board meetings:  “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” That lost him the election because Dems never came up with a counter message.

The Republican’s success with defining control of education as a wedge issue could turn out to be a winning message in 2022.

When a Party won’t pick charismatic candidates and can’t focus on the issues that people are crying out for them to answer, voters react to both the poor messaging and leadership by going back to slogans, grievances, sports-like dynamics, and elevating trivial issues.

In other words, the Virginia campaign.

Democrats must shake up their leadership if they are to re-take the now-lost inroads they made in suburban (and female) Republican voters in 2020. They’ll need to talk in simple terms.

They’re not telling the story of how white working parents need food stamps to supplement their income. They’re not telling the story of how a family in rural America sends their kids to a school that can’t teach them how to use a computer.

There’s work to be done.

Schumer and Pelosi should report to HR for their new assignments.

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Can Our Democracy Survive Trumpism?

The Daily Escape:

Bishop Creek, Eastern Sierras, CA – October 2021 photo by Scott McReynolds

CNN’s Brian Stelter asked on Sunday:

“We know what Trump will do….So what will the rest of us do?”

He’s talking about the continuing slow rolling coup inspired by the Big Lie, that’s rolling across America. Stelter presented a scenario about how Trumpism might dim our democracy between now and 2024. His perspective as a media reporter informs his view about how FOX news is reacting to the competition from OAN (One America News). He says that FOX is now simply feeding red meat to its viewers rather than reporting the news.

The result? Paranoia deepens, and Trump’s Big Lie becomes gospel to Republicans. External reality retreats into the background for the Red Hats. More from Stelter:

“There’s a clear difference between the people who pay for news…and want to know what is true, versus people who pay for views….of what they want to be true…”

Wrongo has been banging on about the state of journalism for the last few days, and not sorry, we’re doing it again.

After the attempted coup on Jan. 6, the prospect of political violence threatening a peaceful transfer of power has become a reality that America must face before it’s too late. Trumpists are dreaming publicly of violence, while a new poll by PRRI (margin of error of 2.1%), shows some scary data:

  • 67% of all Americans disagree that the election was stolen.
  • But 68% of Republicans overall, and 82% of respondents who trust Fox News more than any other news outlet, say they believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
  • That figure climbs to 97% for those who trust OAN and Newsmax more than any other news outlet.
  • 18% of all Americans think resorting to violence may be necessary to save the nation. PRRI’s question was: “Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”
  • The scary part is that 30% of Republicans agreed, while just 11% of Democrats agreed.

Stelter’s apocalypse scenario is that by 2024:

“Neighbors turn on neighbors….Normally easygoing local elections turn into existential battles….Threats of violence become real violence….while MAGA-media apps, broadcasters, and commentators justify stomping all over the Constitution as an attempt to save it.”

Let’s emphasize that this is a worst-case scenario. Stelter says “We know it could happen because it has all happened before. Almost everything I have described has already happened in one form or another.”

More from the PRRI survey:

  • 80% of Republicans said America is in danger of losing its culture and identity. Of the far-right television viewers, 98% agreed with this sentiment.
  • 56% of Republicans said things have changed so much in America that they often feel like a stranger in their own country.  61% of Fox News viewers and 78% of Newsmax types agreed with this statement.

When you’ve been around as long as Wrongo you remember the 1980s, when Reagan Republicans aspired to be the Party of hope and opportunity.  They’re now the Party of blood and soil.

Much of this is made clear in the reporting by the WaPo and by others about the planning that led up to Jan. 6, and the efforts to spread the Big Lie after the attempted coup. The WaPo calls what happened in the aftermath a period of “Contagion” as Republican efforts to undermine the 2020 election began immediately after the Capitol attack. Since then:

  • Nearly a third of the 390 GOP candidates around the country who have expressed interest in running for statewide office this cycle have publicly supported a partisan audit of the 2020 vote, downplayed the Jan. 6 attack, or directly questioned Biden’s victory.
  • Election officials in at least 17 states have collectively received hundreds of threats to their personal safety or their lives since Jan. 6, with a concentration in the six states where Trump has focused his attacks on the election results.

The full PRRI survey shows that for many Republicans the culture war is front and center, and for a significant minority, it’s close to being a literal war, not just a metaphorical one. They share a vision that Democrats won’t rest until there’s a taco truck on every corner, and a drag queen story hour in every library, and so they’re ready to fight.

The Trumpist Republicans have no interest in staving off political apocalypse. They’re interested in making it happen. We’ll see over the next few years whether the will of those who cherish democracy will prevail over those who reject facts and the rule of law.

We’re going to find out soon which group’s will to survive is stronger.

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Monday Wake Up Call – November 1, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Ricketts Glen State Park, PA – 2014 photo by Zev Steinhardt

We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow on Election Day. There are a few close races that grab the headlines, like the governor’s race in Virginia. There’s also a gubernatorial election in New Jersey. In addition, two of six special elections to the House of Representatives will also take place on Tuesday.

On Tuesday night, America’s pundits will start making far too much of whatever happens at the polls.

But today, let’s talk about the anti-Biden chant,  “Let’s Go Brandon” that is sweeping Red America. The NY Post explains it. And The Post amps up the propaganda, as the article is titled: “4 versions of scathing anti-Biden rap ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ now in iTunes Top 10“.

That makes it sound like America has turned on Biden so badly that he shouldn’t even come back to the country after his Glasgow trip. Throughout the Right Wing press, conservatives are doing their best to ramp up their publicity machine, including all of their bloviators on social media pushing the ‘Brandon’ message, but it doesn’t mean much. From Bob Lefsetz: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“Go to Spotify, ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ is not in the Top 50, as a matter of fact it has almost no impact at all. As of this writing the track has a grand total of 565,434 streams on Spotify….’Freaks’ by Surf Curse, has 364,314 streams A DAY! As of this writing ‘Freaks’ has 287,974,290 streams on Spotify. In other words, the right wing tried to own the libs, and nobody noticed, it had no impact, other than in the echo chamber they reside in.”

Americans could debate whether Biden is doing a good job. But, as Lefsetz says, there is no longer real political debate in America. We have silos on the left and the right, which talk over each other. And the truth doesn’t even matter, so why debate?

If the Republicans are using high tech methods to try and show us that they have a winning political narrative, we need to look beyond the headlines to the actual facts. Lefsetz reminds us:

“BTS fans signed up for tickets to Trump’s Oklahoma rally and changed the outcome, the Trump team thought there was huge demand, they even erected a secondary stage outside, but this wasn’t the case, most of the ticket requests were fake”.

That October 2020 rally’s attendance was poor, and it made Trump look bad. That was our first indication of the power of social media to swing opinion, but that isn’t what happened with the anti-Biden track on iTunes. Lefsetz:

“If someone in the music business starts quoting iTunes numbers, laugh. They’re really stretching for a metric to make their case….there’s always a number to support your case, which means savvy people investigate and dig for the truth.”

What’s going on is a tug of war between people who want facts to stand and those who want to manipulate the facts to say something else. And if you’re a casual news consumer, you might get a completely inaccurate picture of what is going on, especially in an environment where it’s extremely difficult to get people’s attention without deceptive, sensational headlines.

We all thought the internet would propagate truth, but the opposite has happened.

And yet they’re succeeding with the deception tactics. They’re creating a frenzy over Critical Race Theory and trans athletes, two of America’s most over-hyped issues, and yet Greg Youngkin, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia may ride this made-up crisis to victory.

With the “Let’s Go Brandon” meme, we see again that the anti-Biden’s are avoiding truth (and hard numbers) to try and win. Their game is confusion. Government being good or bad is irrelevant to the Republicans. Their calculation is that if they block and insult and channel it all through their propaganda networks, they’ll win back power again.

Burn it all down to the ground. It’s politics as an ash heap.

Time to wake up America! We don’t want to live in the same nation with idiots who believe “Let’s go Brandon” means “Fuck Joe Biden”. We should be weary of their perpetual mendacity and stupidity.

To help you wake up, listen to Santana and Chris Stapleton do a tune that they wrote jointly, “Joy”. It’s from Santana’s new album, “Blessings & Miracles”. This is a musical collaboration that Wrongo didn’t know he needed:

Sample Lyric:

Joy, rolling like the thunder rumbles
Time to let the teardrops tumble
Listen to the hatred crumble
Now that I have joy, flying on the wings of angels
Rattling the chains untangled
I see me from a different angle
Now I have joy

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – October 31, 2021

On Saturday, Wrongo and Ms. Right attended a memorial service in Greenwich, CT for a friend who had died several months ago. Due to Covid, his service was held this weekend, on a rainy, grey day. Bob Tomasson was a retired newspaperman who had a long career at the New York Times. He was old-school, and a reporter to his core.

The service at the North Greenwich Congregational Church was well-attended. Many spoke of his kindness and lack of ego in a world now filled with the largest possible egos. The church had this as its message today:

October 30, 2021 iPhone photo by Wrongo

Bob was a very fine example of the good journalism Amanpour speaks about. As the pastor, Reverend Karen Halac ended the service, she read a quote by Henri Frederic Amiel:

”Life is short, and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”

Make haste to be kind. What a wonderful concept for our heartless world. On to cartoons.

Halloween lies:

New Jan 6 revelations say that unlike Alec Baldwin, the GOP’s gun isn’t a prop:

Growing tall trees requires less nibbling at the base:

Cops aren’t complying with vaccine mandates. Imagine how you would look if you refused to comply with a cop’s mandate:

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Saturday Soother – October 30, 2021

The Daily Escape:

A Halloween prayer – photographer unknown. Fear is everywhere in the world. Is there reason for hope?

In comments on Wrongo’s post, “Climate Change Summit, Part II”, blog reader Gloria R. asked for some suggestions about how older people could help with climate change, given that the outcome will only be clear after the elderly are long gone.

Good question. In some ways, climate despair is a new kind of climate denial, blunting the momentum for action, just when we need it most. Despair can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But young people aren’t feeling hopeless. The first truly global social movements dedicated to climate action and climate justice have gained in size and strength, beginning with Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for the Future and spreading to the Sunrise Movement in America and to climate justice movements around the world.

First suggestion: These movements are long on enthusiasm and short of money. Maybe geezers could fund them?

Second, capital continues to leave fossil fuel investments. According to a recent study. this shifting of financial assets could potentially stop the fossil fuel companies from giving lip service to climate change, particularly if they lose political power. Maybe geezers could direct their financial advisors to move their investment $$ away from these big emitters?

Third, state and local governments set building codes and local energy-use regulations. They also set zoning and land use rules. So, maybe geezers could get political on a local level and work to make what we tend to call the “living laboratories for democracy” (state and local governments) havens of better climate policies and practices?

Fourth, some of us don’t have funds to back up our ideals. One thing geezers can do that is costless is to send a letter to their kids about what they did to make sure the future isn’t an environmental wasteland. That’s the premise behind DearTomorrow, a project that’s archiving letters about climate change written by people to their future children, selves, or family. The idea is to foster personal engagement with the problems and solutions to climate change. DearTomorrow asks letter writers to focus on positive themes and why they have hope for future generations. Writing a letter to their future self or loved ones makes it personal.

Fifth, join Elders Climate Action, a group of grandparents who mobilize elders to address climate change. They’re trying to protect the well-being of their grandchildren.

There you go, Gloria (and all geezers), five ideas. There are many, many others.

Finally, the response to the Covid pandemic demonstrated how societies and economies can pivot very quickly in response to a global emergency. The response was far from perfect. The rich countries took care of their own citizens first, and then moved in some cases reluctantly, to help the poor nations. But for the medium-term, we now have a blueprint for the globe working together on a global crisis.

Other reasons for hope:

  1. The global economy is growing faster than global emissions. That means energy efficiency is increasing without any erosion in economic growth. The pandemic slowed this down, but the trend is clear.
  2. Energy efficiency is moving from the margins toward a new normal in the products we use. Think how commonplace LED light bulbs are today.
  3. The price of solar and wind power has plunged, and there’s reason to expect that the cost of energy storage, key to an electric power grid reliant on renewable energy, will decline over time.
  4. The supply of clean energy resources is growing faster than new sources of “dirty” energy. Now, the potential for electric power generated from clean, steady sources is becoming a reality.

That’s Wrongo’s brief take on reasons to be hopeful about our climate future. But that’s no reason to stop the effort to hold corporations and politicians accountable for making climate change a top priority. On Thursday at a House Oversight Committee hearing, four fossil fuel CEOs refused to declare climate change an “existential crisis”, using weasel words to avoid reality. They must be stopped.

Enough for today, it’s time for our Saturday Soother, when we take a brief break from whatever is going on in the Virginia governor’s race and spend a few minutes concentrating on the natural world around us. Here in CT, we’ve seen temperatures in the mid-30s. We’ve started leaf blowing. It will go on until at least the first week of December.

Time to bundle up, grab a comfy chair by a window, and listen to Broken Peach perform a live Halloween version of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” in zombie makeup. Broken Peach is a cover band from Spain:

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