The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Will Hillary’s Campaign Strategy Win?

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”Mike Tyson

The primary season clown show has moved on to New Hampshire. Republicans will see more mud wrestling between Cruz and Trump, while Rubio, Kasich and Christie try to elbow their way in to be one of the top two by next Wednesday.

Iowa showed that the Democrats will have a tough time choosing between the candidates, both of whom will struggle to refine the message(s) they need to take to South Carolina and beyond in order to win the nomination. Like that great philosopher Mike Tyson says, now the top two in each party need to present a plan that connects with voters nationally.

Think for a minute about the messages that Hillary and Bernie have been running with:

Bernie is saying we should have (and can get):

• A single-payer health care system
• Universal pre-K and free college tuition at our state universities
• Guaranteed sick leave and vacation for every employee
• A minimum wage of $15/hour
• The big banks broken up, and Glass-Steagall reconstituted
• Our campaign finance system is reformed
• The super-wealthy should pay for it all

Hillary is saying we can’t get all that:

• We must focus on what can be accomplished, not what Sanders is proposing
• Single-payer is a nice idea, but is too politically toxic to be viable
• She agrees with Sanders about sick and maternity leave
• College shouldn’t be free for all, some should pay, mostly because their parents can afford it
• Breaking up the big banks isn’t the best way to address financial market risk
• $15/hour is too high a minimum wage, $12/hour is realistic
• Since Republicans will control at least one house of Congress next year, they’ll never vote for what Sanders proposes

Hillary is in a difficult position. She’s telling people that they can’t have the things they want. Every parent understands this, but Clinton is also saying: “his policies can’t win”, all the while she is thinking: “I can get some of this through Congress.”

That may not be a winning message, particularly if Sanders is still running in a dead heat with Clinton in April. His charm is that he’s not willing to settle for campaigning on a platform that is calibrated to work in our gridlocked politics.

So, will Hillary change if she can’t shake Bernie? And what would her new message be?

She needs to start by finding a way to relate to an electorate that has limited interest in politicians like her who speak for the status quo.

Today’s voters say that the status quo is unacceptable. In fact, that’s the only thing everyone in America seems to agree about right now. And since 60% of the Democratic delegates actually get selected in March, Clinton needs a message better calibrated to meet today’s political realities, or she risks losing the nomination, or winning it only after a fight that weakens her party.

It is true that if elected, either Clinton or Sanders will be in virtually the same place regarding what they can actually achieve. The big difference today is in the vision they are laying out, and whether the voters will buy it. Will they buy a president who articulates unobtainable goals and blames the .01%, or do they want a president who articulates modest, but still unobtainable goals?

Would the electorate buy that her insider status would bring about some (or all) of her goals?

Candidate Clinton is running primarily on her resume. She presents us with a CV of job titles, not accomplishments, and if there is a campaign persona that she is embracing, it is the idea of being a lifelong fighter. But will that be enough? From the 2/2 NYT:

…she still faces an authenticity problem, even among Democrats. Some 47% of likely Democratic primary voters said that they felt Mrs. Clinton said what voters wanted to hear, rather than what she believed. 62% said they believed Mr. Sanders said what he thought…

Clinton’s liabilities as a campaigner could be lessened by treating the campaign more like a struggle between opposing parties instead of one between political celebrities. Overall, she performs well enough as a candidate. She debates well, she interviews well.

Her argument should be: if you want to see the incomes of the middle class grow, if you want to retain Constitutional freedoms that are under attack by a conservative Supreme Court, if you want to keep Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs like Obamacare, if you want less foreign adventurism, then you have to vote Democratic regardless of what you think of Hillary Clinton.

It’s sort of a vision.


Old Candidates, Young Voters

From Stu Rothenberg at Roll Call:

While the decision makers at news organizations…scramble to appeal to younger viewers, [the] Republican and Democratic voters in Iowa and nationally have embraced a remarkably “mature” handful of top tier candidates.

How mature?

• Donald Trump will turn 70 next year
• Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will be 75
• Hillary Clinton will turn 69 a couple of weeks before the 2016 elections

There are younger Republican candidates: Ted Cruz is 45, and Marco Rubio is 44. The Democrat former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is 53.

According to a January 18-24 Quinnipiac University poll of likely Democratic voters, Sanders held a 78% to 21% lead among voters age 18 to 44 over Clinton. The younger O’Malley polls at just 2%.

On the GOP side, Trump and Cruz tied with voters age 18 to 44, each drawing 29%.

So, the networks are trying to attract the young voter demographic, while young voters overwhelmingly like a few of the older candidates. But, will younger voters actually vote? Their recent record isn’t reliable: Young voters turned out in big numbers in 2008 and then stayed home in record numbers in 2014. Did young Dems take a short nap in 2014 or have they turned their backs on democracy?

We don’t know for sure, but there is some bad news: Research by Roberto Foa and Yascha Mounk shows growing disillusionment with democracy – not just with politics or campaigns, but with democracy itself: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

This growth is worldwide, but it is especially strong among young Americans. Fewer than 30% of Americans born since 1980 say that living in a democracy is essential. For those born since 1970, more than one in five describe our democratic system as “bad or very bad.” That’s almost twice the rate for people born between 1950 and 1970.

Foa and Mounk wrote in the NYT that political scientists are well aware that poll after poll shows citizens to be more dissatisfied than in the past. Yet they resist the most straightforward conclusion: that people may be less supportive of democracy than they once were. This raises a strange question: Could the political system in our seemingly stable democracy be heading for a fall?

Think about it. People say they like democracy less than they used to. While most Americans still have a deep emotional attachment to the Constitution, respect for the rules of our democracy are also eroding. The rise of politicians who are critical of key aspects of liberal democracy, like freedom of the press, or universal voting, or the rights of minorities, is even more disconcerting.

Citizens are aware of this disconnect. When asked by the World Values Survey to rate how democratically their country is being governed on a 10-point scale, a third of Americans now say: “not at all democratic.”

Let’s hope that this is a transient phenomenon. What explains the down-tick? It’s probably related to:

• Lack of optimism caused by stagnating incomes. This disproportionately effects the young.
• Rising income inequality, which effects all citizens.
• Attempts by the rich to game the political system, often through Super PAC donations.

In fact, the rich are now more likely to be critical of democracy than the poor. According to the World Values Survey, in 1995, less than 20% of wealthy Americans (those in the top income quintile) approved of having a “strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with Congress or elections”. Today, more than 40% support that view.

It’s not clear what young voters think is a better alternative to representative government, but who can blame them for not being enamored with their current political representation?

According to the US Census Bureau analysis of the voting population from 1964-2012 indicates a decrease in voting in all age groups, except for the 65 years and over group, who voted at nearly a 70% rate, while the 18-24 voted at 36% . But in 2008, 18-24 year olds did increase their numbers–the Obama factor.

Bottom line: If you want to make democracy work, you must get not only young people, but all the people who have given up on democracy involved again. But we cannot simply rely on charismatic individuals to help young voters awaken their political selves. We must restore their faith in democratic politics.

This is the very best argument for a Bernie-style political revolution.


Can Democrats Win the White Working Class Vote?

Last week, Robert Reich asked a question: Why did the white working class abandon the Democrats?

Before we get to his answer, let’s look at a few electoral facts:

• In 1980, Ronald Reagan won 56% of all white voters and won in a 44-state landslide.
• In 2012, Mitt Romney carried 59% of all white voters, yet lost decisively.
• In both 2008 and 2012, Republicans’ best result was with white voters without college degrees. They carried them by 14% in 2008 and 26% in 2012.

Reich offers two answers: First, that the Republicans skillfully played the race card from the 1960s through to today. Reich makes the point that in the wake of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, segregationists like Alabama Governor George C. Wallace led southern whites out of the Democratic Party. And later, Ronald Reagan charged Democrats with coddling black “welfare queens,“ while George HW Bush accused them of being soft on black crime (Willie Horton), and all Republicans say that Democrats use affirmative action to give jobs to less-qualified minorities over more-qualified whites.

Reich’s second point is that Democrats have occupied the White House for 16 of the last 24 years, and in that time they largely abandoned the white working class, doing little to prevent the wealthy and powerful from rigging the economy for the benefit of those at the top. On the other hand, at the time Bill Clinton ran for president, the Democratic Party had lost three straight presidential elections and won only two out of the previous six. That political reality certainly had an effect on policy.

During the Obama years, Democrats did produce some weak tea for the middle class and the poor – including the Affordable Care Act, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Reich goes on to indict our most recent Democratic presidents:

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements, for example, without providing the millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs any means of getting new ones that paid at least as well. They also stood by as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working class.

Reich says that partly as a result of NAFTA, union membership sunk from 22% of all workers when Bill Clinton was elected president to fewer than 12% today, and the working class lost bargaining leverage to get a share of the economy’s gains.

Finally, Dems turned their backs on campaign finance reform. After 2010’s Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the floodgates to big money in politics were opened. Reich again indicts Democrats: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

What happens when you combine freer trade, shrinking unions, Wall Street bailouts, growing corporate market power, and the abandonment of campaign finance reform? You shift political and economic power to the wealthy, and you shaft the working class.

Can the Democrats earn back the working class voter? Well, when the dogs won’t eat the dog food, it may be time to think about changing brands. Any competent politician knows that. When 45% of the electorate claim to be independents, something is wrong with both parties. The White Working Class is being ignored by the Democrats and is courted by the Republicans, although with less and less success, unless you happen to think that Donald Trump is a Republican.

What has the wage earning class gained from the Democrats? Social and economic betrayal. From the Republicans? War and economic betrayal. They watch jobs disappear to Asia, and see increased competition from immigrants. Many feel threatened by cultural liberalism, at least the type that sees white Middle Americans as Christian bigots and 2nd Amendment fanatics.

But they are also threatened by Republicans who would take away their Medicare, hand their Social Security earnings to fund-managers in Connecticut, and cut off their unemployment.

These are the reasons why Sanders and Trump are able to compete with the establishment elites of both parties. But nothing in politics is ever final. Democrats could still win back the white working class. They would need to:

• Have a vision that would create economic growth that was not based on trickle-down
• Build a coalition of the working class and poor, of whites, blacks, and Latinos, of everyone who has been or is currently being shafted by the shift in wealth and power to the investor class and the salaried class

Will Democrats stop obsessing over upper-income suburban voters, and end their financial dependence on big corporations, Wall Street, and the wealthy?

Probably not.


Why 2016 Won’t Be Like Any Other Election

If we add together the polling numbers of Trump, Sanders and Cruz, it’s clear that a majority of the electorate is ready for a president from well outside the political mainstream.

Start with the Trump slogan, “Make America Great Again“. It’s the first time in Wrongo’s memory that an explicit admission that America isn’t so great has been heard in an American presidential election. In a world where American Exceptionalism is settled dogma, how and why can a Republican say “we ain’t so great”, and be so successful?

Of course, that same dynamic also drives the willingness of voters to support the Democratic Socialist, Sanders. Bernie offers a different solution to the economic woes that the two parties have inflicted on us in the 35 years since we elected Ronald Reagan. Now, a substantial and very motivated part of the electorate on both the right and left, is telling pollsters that something different has to be on the table.

The old electioneering rules won’t work. We are in a time of anger and anxiety. Republicans go for the emotional jugular every day, while establishment Democrats are still trying to make points with a mix of policy, pragmatism and feel-good idealism. Democrats will have to decide whether they see the current political landscape as an opportunity to free themselves of these old terms of debate, or take full ownership of them moving forward.

Regardless of the GOP candidate, emotion will dominate their argument for the White House. John Michael Greer had an insightful piece last week about ways to look at voter motivations in America:

The notion [is] that the only divisions in American society that matter are those that have some basis in biology. Skin color, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability—these are the lines of division in society that Americans like to talk about, whatever their attitudes to the people who fall on one side or another of those lines.

The axiom in politics is that voters in these “divisions” tend to vote as blocs, and campaigns are designed to bring the bloc to the candidate. That’s less true today. Greer takes a deep dive into today’s politics, suggesting the largest differentiator:

It so happens that you can determine a huge amount about the economic and social prospects of people in America today by asking one remarkably simple question: how do they [earn] most of their income?

He posits that it’s usually from one of four sources: returns from investments, a monthly salary, an hourly wage, or a government welfare check. People who get most of their income in one of those four ways have political interests in common, so much so that it’s meaningful to speak of the American people as divided into an investor class, a salaried class, a wage class, and a welfare class.

The old divisions, women, gay people, people of color, are found in all four income classes. Finally JMG has a killer thought: The political wave that Trump and Sanders are riding has roots in the answer to another simple question: Over the last half century, how have the four classes fared? The answer is that three of the four have remained roughly where they were. The wage class in particular has been destroyed. And the beneficiaries were the investor and salaried classes. They drove down wages, offshored production, and destroyed our manufacturing base. More from JMG:

I see the Trump candidacy as a major watershed in American political life, the point at which the wage class—the largest class of American voters…has begun to wake up to its potential power and begin pushing back against the ascendancy of the salary class.

That pushback could become a defining force in American politics. The problem with that viewpoint is that their desired change is anti-business and anti-middle-class. And THAT change is not acceptable to those who control our politics, most of whom are squarely in the investor and salaried classes.

And a Trump candidacy is not the worst form it could take. If Trump is sidelined by another establishment type, a future leader who takes up the cause of the wage class could very well be fond of armbands or, of roadside bombs. Like the Bundy Brigade on steroids.

Once the politics of resentment becomes a viable strategy, anything can happen.

Read Greer’s analysis. Think about how the salaried class attack on Bernie as “socialist” might actually play out for Sanders, assuming he could analyze and communicate what is really going on here.

Think about how Hillary Clinton might stumble over the problems of the wage class, given her fervid support from the investor and salaried classes.

The usual fight for independent voters using conventional wisdom will not succeed in this political cycle.


Sunday Cartoon Blogging – January 24, 2016

For those in the Northeast who hate the snow, remember, there is no such thing as bad weather. There is only inappropriate clothing. Be careful driving, if you must drive.

The climate forecast is grim:

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Doesn’t matter if you call it “climate change” or “global warming”. The denialism by the right in the US isn’t held elsewhere. The scientific opinion is held by the rest of the world. Not based on a single opinion, or by snark, but from the overwhelming result of scientific research.

Palin endorses Trump, and the GOP takes notice:

COW GOP Threeway

Trump said Palin could get a cabinet job. Liberals are contemptuous of her lack of knowledge, critical thinking skills, and judgment, but none of these are crimes. A good example of Palin’s qualities occurred when she blamed Obama for her son Track beating up his (Track’s) girlfriend. Palin said that his getting drunk, beating the crap out of his girlfriend and brandishing a gun was caused by Track’s military service, that perhaps he has PTSD. She then went on to blame Obama’s policies for her son’s behavior. It takes an immense level of cynicism, opportunism, and some cruelty to exploit your child’s struggle for political gain.

The Dems have a problem:

COW What Dems Want

This is not the first year that Democrats doubt they are putting their best person forward. Hubert Humphrey in 1968, George McGovern in 1972, Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Michael Dukakis in 1988 come to mind. Oh, and they lost 3 of those 4 elections!

Bernie still has a YUUGE problem:

COW Bernie

Flint’s plan for water:

COW Flint


“A Little Bit Is Better Than Nada”

Yesterday we talked about US vs. Texas, the Supreme Court case brought by 26 Republican-controlled states saying that President Obama exceeded his powers by using an executive order to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. In thinking about what Republicans have (not) done in the last seven years, “A Little Bit Is Better Than Nada”, the song from the Texas Tornados came to mind.

And a very little bit is all the legislation that we have gotten from a Republican-controlled House and Senate. Here’s how Ed Kilgore described it:

If you look back at Obama’s record on big executive actions — on guns, climate change, and immigration — you see the same situation. It’s not that he’s fought for “liberal” as opposed to “conservative” policies in these areas. It’s that congressional Republicans, pressured by conservative opinion-leaders and interest groups, have refused to do anything at all…

And as Nancy LeTourneau adds, the agenda that is being articulated by today’s Republican presidential candidates should have been easy for them to enact, given that they control both houses of Congress, but they have done nothing to advance their agenda:

• They say that we need to fight ISIS more aggressively…But President Obama has been asking Congress to pass an Authorization for the Use of Military Force against ISIS for months now.
• They say that we need to secure our borders. Most of them think we should build an impenetrable wall on our border with Mexico. Some of them even say that we should deport all 10 million undocumented immigrants. Have we seen a bill on any of that in Congress?
• They say that they want to repeal Obamacare. OK, they actually passed a bill to do that. But they’ve also said that they want to replace it. Anyone seen that plan floating around anywhere?
• They say that the problem with gun violence is that we don’t do enough to provide mental health treatment…Have they? No.
• We’ve heard a lot about criminal justice reform. And some bills even passed out of committees. But nothing has actually come up for a vote.

And we are still waiting for the jobs bill promised by John Boehner.

All of the campaign issues Republicans have identified are going nowhere legislatively, and choosing to do nothing has consequences.

We are here because there is a faction in Congress that has deliberately pushed our system of governance to the breaking point. Their latest threat to our system of governance is a refusal to legislate. This has ground our system almost to a halt. Couple that with their refusal to fund the agencies responsible for executing laws on the books, and you have a willful effort to overthrow the government.

If you look back at our Declaration of Independence, one of its 5 sections is called the indictment. It is a series of complaints levied against England’s King George III. The indictment contains 25 charges, of which the first nine, with very little editing, could be levied against Republicans today:

• Refusal to enact laws. (Complaints 1 – 3, 6)
• Obstruction of elected Representation at both the State and Central Government level. (Complaints 3 – 6)
• Interference with and failure to facilitate migration. (Complaint 7)
• Refusal to fill vacancies in the Judiciary. (Complaints 8, 9)

So, we are in unprecedented territory: How do we govern when the Legislative Branch refuses?

Republican shouting, doing nothing, and then blaming it on Obama has worked for seven years and could continue to work forever, in part because the media loves the “both parties do it” narrative.

It is also true that Democrats have failed utterly to make a convincing counter-argument (placing blame where it belongs) and have instead bet that the repellent personalities of the GOP would limit the popularity of Republicans as a national party.

It was a losing bet. For the GOP, the strategy has worked: Why do anything, if when you can say you’re against everything, you are reelected to do nothing again?

Republicans can shout all they want about how President Obama is by-passing Congress with his executive actions, but a little bit is better than nada.


Sunday Cartoon Blogging – January 17, 2016

Another jam-packed news week: David Bowie stepped through the door, the Dow fell through the floor, the SOTU had the lowest ratings ever, the Republicans debated, and you didn’t win Powerball.

So, something to cheer you up at the start your week:

COW Foxes

Gonna miss ol’ Ziggy:

COW Bowie2

Wall Street longs for yesterday:

COW Lost Pet

The GOP debate followed the usual script:

COW Big Tent

Republicans are beginning to rationalize about the probable primary winner:

COW Satan for Prez

In this primary season it has become clear that facts don’t matter. How you feel matters. Other people don’t matter. How you relate to your tribe matters. Irresponsible tax policies, silly monetary policies (gold!), destructive foreign policy, no climate policy, no healthcare policy, no infrastructure policy, charter schools as an education policy, these all matter. Except for militarism, do they have any public policy positions?

The Clintons begin to understand the threat:

COW First Word


Misinformed vs. Uninformed (Cont.)

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” (Mark Twain)

Yesterday, we linked to an article describing the difference between being misinformed and being uninformed. Uninformed people have no information about a subject, while those who are misinformed have information that conflicts with the best evidence and expert opinion.

How are so many people getting misinformed, and staying that way? Why does it work?

You probably have never heard of Robert Proctor, from Stanford, who wrote a book about ignorance, in which he tries to answer the question: What keeps ignorance alive, or allows it to be used as a political instrument? He calls this “Agnotology” (the study of ignorance). Proctor’s point is that ignorance has a political geography, and there are things people will work hard to keep you from knowing.

Apparently, his work started with the tobacco industry, who at some point used the slogan: “Doubt is our product“.

Proctor explains that ignorance can be propagated under the guise of balanced debate. For example, the common media approach that there are two opposing views does not always result in a rational conclusion to readers or viewers. This was how tobacco firms used science to make their products look harmless. It is still used today by climate change deniers to argue against the scientific evidence.

Procter, from the BBC:

This ‘balance routine’ has allowed the cigarette men, or climate deniers today, to claim that there are two sides to every story, that ‘experts disagree’ – creating a false picture of the truth, hence ignorance…We live in a world of radical ignorance, and the marvel is that any kind of truth cuts through the noise…Even though knowledge is ‘accessible’, it does not mean it is accessed.

Sound familiar?

In a December focus group with Trump supporters, David Frum, long-time Republican pollster, found that when negative information about Trump was presented, it strengthened the group’s support for him. Participants in the group held on more confidently to their misinformation as the session progressed.

We know that this is a symptom of the culture of American anti-intellectualism. Conspiracy theories have the same clout as legitimate science; the opinions of non-experts are just as credible as those of the experts; and ideology takes precedence over the cold hard facts. In this world, Trump is merely a symptom of that ethos and an industry dedicated to propagating doubt.

We all remember Stephen Colbert saying: “reality has a well-known liberal bias.

And consider a 2012 study that found when people are prompted to use their critical faculties, they become less likely to affirm religious statements. They found that there’s a causal link between “analytical thinking” and religious disbelief.

Perhaps the worst (best?) example was the Republican Party of Texas rejecting critical thinking in its 2012 platform:

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs [that] have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs.

Hmmm. Teaching HOTS can give you the HOTS? Doubtful.

Perhaps it’s a better thing to not know the facts, instead of knowing a few pretend facts. At least, the uninformed person is persuadable by evidence.

The right-wing noise machine has fed hatred, bigotry, fear and loathing to its base supporters for decades, and Trump is the logical outcome. Most people aren’t all that logical when it comes to politics or political issues, since most of us tend to be ruled more by emotions. But the right-wing propaganda juggernaut has brainwashed some of its followers to the point that they are completely impervious to facts.

The Republicans are not going to laugh the Donald off their stage. They are not going to dissuade his core supporters, the only question is will his supporters vote in the Republican primaries.

If they do turn out, it will be The Donald vs. The Hill in 2016.


Who Has the Answer For 2016?

We have entered the presidential election year, but we, the people, really do not see any candidate as the answer to our problems. Voters on both sides of the aisle think the country needs to turn a page. We are frightened and angry, and increasingly feel that the two parties have no answers to our questions about tomorrow.

The Democrats say the choice is Hillary or Bernie.

The Republicans say we should choose between Trump, Marco, Ted or Jeb!

Consider what Tom Friedman said in Wednesday’s NYT: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

The agenda that could actually make America great again would combine the best ideas of the extreme left and the extreme right. This year is probably too soon for such a radical platform, but by 2020 — after more extreme weather, after machines replace more middle-class jobs, after more mass shootings and after much more global disorder — voters will realize that our stale left-right parties can’t produce the needed answers for our postindustrial era.

Ok, agreed! Friedman argues that it’s time for an extremist, a nonpartisan, whose platform draws ideas from both sides. To give Friedman his due, he outlines a fairly radical agenda that includes universal health care, a form of income guarantee for low wage earners, increased military spending along with some unintelligible tax reform:

Slash all corporate taxes, income taxes, personal deductions and corporate subsidies and replace them with a carbon tax, a value-added consumption tax (except on groceries and other necessities), a tax on bullets and a tax on all sugary drinks — with offsets for the lowest-income earners.

A Value-added Tax? Instead of a progressive income tax? That’s the icing on Tom’s pro-business cake.

So he has some good ideas, and some that won’t work. That makes him the same as our two political parties. Much of the problem can be traced to the Democratic Party walking away from its intellectual base in the New Deal and the Great Society, and failing to offer better choices. As Sam Smith says:

It’s [the Democrats] failure to come up with alternatives, [while following] an agenda that appealed to comfortable and more upscale liberals rather than to ordinary Americans.

Bernie Sanders is a New Deal Democrat in “democratic socialist” clothing. He is the first democrat in decades to look outside the box for solutions to the problems our current economy visits on average people. It is unlikely that he will beat the Clinton political machine in 2016.

Hillary Clinton leads in the primary polls, but is she electable in the general election? No one should enter the 2016 general election thinking that HRC isn’t a vulnerable candidate. Democrats seem to forget that in 2008, she lost to a little known black guy with a minimal political record.

If voters are looking for a political savior, Hillary is more of the same middle of the road economics with a slight tinge of social liberalism that Mr. Obama offered.

The question is, has the country moved past that kind of “political triangulation” that Bill Clinton perfected in the 1990s? In 2008, Mr. Obama won as a new breed of politician. By 2012, with staunch legislative opposition from the GOP, he was triangulating to win a 2nd term. Can triangulation work again for Hillary?

Sam Smith points us to the age issue:

Nobody’s talking about this, in part because Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would each be the oldest presidents except for Ronald Reagan. But what if Clinton at 68 faces Rubio or Cruz, both in the mid-forties? It makes the image of a new future considerably harder to project.

He might add that Bernie Sanders is 74 now. Ronald Reagan was 78 at the end of his 2nd term.

So what’s the alternative? It is too late for 2016. Partly due to the strength of Hillary’s resume, the Democrats have no viable alternatives. If Ms. Clinton stumbles, the Democrats would be trying to win with Bernie Sanders, who might do well, but who could also make the George McGovern 1972 shellacking seem like a win. This is indicative of a huge problem for Democrats: It has no viable bench.

Assuming that Clinton is the Democrats’ choice, her liabilities could be lessened by treating the campaign more like a struggle between opposing parties instead of one between political celebrities. The argument becomes: if you want to retain Constitutional freedoms that are under attack by a conservative Supreme Court, if you want to keep Social Security, Medicare, food stamps and other social programs, if you want less foreign adventurism, then you have to vote Democratic regardless of what you think of Hillary Clinton.

Despite the fact that many of us are desperate for something shiny and new, this contest is not a “Survivor” or “American Idol” TV series.

It’s the 2016 presidential election.


What’s the Matter with Kansas? Part Infinity

From the WaPo:

In April 2012, a Kansas SWAT team raided the home of Robert and Addie Harte, their 7-year-old daughter and their 13-year-old son. The couple, both former CIA analysts, awoke to pounding at the door. When Robert Harte answered, SWAT agents flooded the home.

Read more:

The family was then held at gunpoint for more than two hours while the police searched their home. Though they claimed to be looking for evidence of a major marijuana growing operation, they later stated that they knew within about 20 minutes that they wouldn’t find any such operation. So they switched to search for evidence of “personal use.” They found no evidence of any criminal activity.

It started when Robert Harte and his son went to a gardening store to purchase supplies to grow hydroponic tomatoes for a school project. A state trooper in the store parking lot had the job of collecting license plate numbers of customers, compiling them into a spreadsheet, and sending the spreadsheets to local sheriff’s departments for further investigation.

They were looking for folks who grow marijuana.

Yes, buying gardening supplies could make you the target of a drug investigation in Kansas. Naturally, the family was cleared of any wrongdoing. The Hartes wanted to know why they were targeted. What probable cause did the police have for sending a SWAT team into their home? But that information was difficult to obtain.

Under Kansas law, the sheriff’s department wasn’t obligated to turn over any information related to the raid. They spent more than $25,000 in legal fees to learn why the sheriff had sent a SWAT team into their home. Once they finally had that information, the Hartes filed a lawsuit.

And they lost the case. Last week, US District Court Judge John W. Lungstrum dismissed all of the Hartes’s claims. Lungstrum found that sending a SWAT team into a home first thing in the morning based on no more than a positive reading by an unreliable field test and spotting someone at a gardening store was not a violation of the Hartes’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

Think about this:

The Hartes are a white, financially sound couple who both used to work for the CIA. Most people on the receiving end of these raids aren’t white, aren’t middle-class, didn’t once work for a federal intelligence agency and don’t have $25,000 to fund a fight in court…you can imagine the long odds faced by the typical victim of a botched raid.

Another brick is removed from the wall of Constitutional rights that protects you from your government. By the way, the people who support this kind of thing also like to talk a lot about freedom and liberty.

News you can’t use, Trump edition:

Trump says US wages are too high. (Business Insider)

Trump says US Wages are too low. (CNN)

Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke says that Donald Trump speaks “a lot more radically” than he does. (Reader Supported News) David Duke is now a GOP “squish”, since Trump has gone even further right than the KKK.

Personal Note:

Today is the Wrongologist’s birthday. He remembers a time when to be a liberal was to be heroic. It seems that time has returned. Wrongo’s wish for 2016 is an election that provides Americans with the opportunity to debate US policies. However, our politics also provides entertainment to voters along the way to the election.

My prediction is we will see/hear far more ludicrous posturing than serious policy conversations in 2016.

Yet, think about the rest of the world’s politics compared to ours: We peacefully change presidents, elect new congresses, and 50 new state governments.

We do it via the ballot box, not with guns and tanks. This is the strength of our society.


And remember that your vote in a primary election has huge value. That is where the candidate choices are made.

Best wishes for a healthy New Year.