UA-43475823-1

The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Saturday Soother – December 8, 2018

The Daily Escape:


Sunwapta Falls, Jasper National Park, Canada – photo by BlakeRandall

Ho hum. Another alleged Republican criminal is taking office,but there’s nothing to see here, so move on. The GOP wants to focus some more on Hillary’s emails.

What’s Wrongo talking about? The Senate is about to seat a Republican Senator from Missouri, Josh Hawley. Missouri attorney general. Josh Hawley was the Republican Party’s nominee to take on Senator Claire McCaskill, and he won. It seems as if he improperly used his old office to run for Senate. McCaskill raised this issue in the last days of the campaign, but Hawley won. However, Hawley’s problem didn’t go away.As Ed Kilgore explains:

On October 31, the Kansas City Star reported that Missouri Attorney General and GOP Senate nominee Josh Hawley had let his campaign staff coordinate activities with public employees on state property,violating a constitutional provision banning use of state resources for political or personal use….
Hawley’s out-of-state political consultants gave direct guidance and tasks to his taxpayer-funded staff, and followed up to ensure the tasks were completed, according to emails, text messages and other records obtained by The Kansas City Star.

Now, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has launched an investigation into the way Josh Hawley ran his office as Attorney General. Jay Ashcroft is the son of former US Attorney General and Missouri Senator John Ashcroft.

Kilgore says that Ashcroft lacks subpoena power, so it’s unclear how far his investigation can go, and it’s highly doubtful that a new election will be called.

With this, and the current fiasco over absentee ballots in North Carolina’s Ninth District, criminality is now a feature, not a bug, for Republican politicians.

At a minimum, the Republican who “won” in the NC Ninth, Mark Harris, is unlikely to be seated if the North Carolina State Board of Elections doesn’t certify the district’s vote.

And when Missouri’s Josh Hawley walks into the Senate, his fellow GOP’ers will circle the wagons to protect him from facing justice, unless and until the time comes (if ever), when it is no longer politically viable to support him.

The wheels of justice will grind pretty slowly on this, but a six-year term is a long, long time for a junior senator Josh to brazen it out.Unless, of course, Mitch McConnell is on your team.

In other news, Wrongo assumes that this week, you binged on the George HW Bush funeral. Maybe it’s just that it takes a few years to rehabilitate a reputation, but after 25 years out of office, why did America treat HW like he was Lincoln?

Time to move on to the weekend. Let’s unplug from Trumpworld, forget how many shopping days remain, and spend a few minutes detached from our responsibilities.

Here’s how we’ll do that: Start by brewing up a vente cup of Red RoosterCoffee’s new seasonal roasting, Holiday Sweet Blend ($16.99/12oz.). Red Rooster is an organic-certified micro-roaster focusing on socially conscious and high-quality coffee that The Wrongologist has featured before. The Holiday Sweet Blend is said to be a harmoniously balance of sweet, tart and savory flavors.

Now settle back where you can look out of a south-facing window, and listen to Fauré’s “Cantique de Jean Racine Op 11”, for choir and piano or organ. Here, it is performed by choir and orchestra, and doesn’t suffer.

Faure´ composed this as a student project when he was 19. It was first performed in 1866. At the time, using work by Jean Racine was frowned upon, and the clergy banned its performance, but here it is:

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

Facebooklinkedinrss

Tuesday Night: Just a Skirmish in the War

The Daily Escape:

People Power Beer, Kent Falls Brewing Co. – November 6, 2018 iPhone photo by Wrongo

Turnout worked for both parties on Election Day. It was basically a good news election for Democrats, who took back control of the House. They also picked up seven governors’ mansions, and gained control of seven state houses, bringing their total from seven to 14. Now, Republicans hold all three power bases—House, Senate, governor—in 21 states, down from 26. Thirteen states have divided control, down from 17.

Importantly, Democrats won the governorships in three states that helped elect Trump in 2016: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. They also won the US Senate races in those states.

But, the mid-terms also proved that Trump’s win in 2016 wasn’t a fluke. The GOP won what it had to in Florida, Texas and most likely, in Georgia. They also took three Democratic Senate seats that were up in the very red states of Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota, giving them a comfortable majority in the Senate.

Two loathsome Republicans lost governor’s races: Kris Kobach in Kansas, and Scott Walker in Minnesota.

The repellent Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), lost in Orange County, CA. Elsewhere in notable House races, Republican Dave Brat an equally repellent Republican, fell to a new face, Amy Spanberger in Virginia.

Two longer-term thoughts: State-level Democrats can now build on this base, and do even better in the 2020 races to help gain more control over redistricting in 2021. Doubling states under Democratic control yesterday makes that closer to a reality.

Second, we also learned that in today’s America, it is very, very difficult to change anybody’s mind, despite spending billions of dollars. About the best you can do is drive the turnout of your own party. Changing demographics will flip some seats, egregious behavior may sometimes be penalized, but not in all cases. States which are 50/50 can switch leaders.

Finally, for those who woke up this morning unhappy with the Dem’s results, Wrongo has little patience with that viewpoint. A win is a win. Going forward, the GOP and Trump will not be passing any more legislative horrors. For at least this term, Social Security and Medicare are safe. The ACA will remain. There will be no more tax cuts for corporations and the rich.

Last night, Wrongo heard a few pundits saying that the Democrats shouldn’t investigate Trump, because it would be divisive. And, that Democrats shouldn’t simply obstruct Republican legislative initiatives because that too, would be divisive. Funny how Republicans investigated Benghazi for 7 years, and spent the entirety of Obama’s presidency obstructing everything, and somehow that wasn’t divisive at all.

The bigger picture is that Democrats have slammed the brakes on Trumpism. Over the next year, a few truths are going to come out, either via Mueller, or from the House.

Then, we can decide what kind of nation we want to be: Will we be willing to hold people accountable for voter suppression and for their efforts to divide races and religions?

Here’s a comment that Wrongo found on another blog: (emphasis by Wrongo)

Here in my county, turnout was 61.5%, an incredible number. And while we did see a slightly larger level of support than usual for Democratic candidates, it was matched, and often exceeded, by GOP turnout…. So many new volunteers and so many people canvassing for the first time. We have to find a way to keep these people interested, involved, and motivated. But sometimes it can be a hard sell when you have to try and convince someone that all those months of hard work to move the needle a couple of percentage points…should be considered a WIN, especially when the difference is….Losing 65%-35% instead of 70%-30%…

We should remember that Obama didn’t keep his highly successful volunteer group together. It’s a huge challenge for Dems in red states.

We’re in a very long game. It’s all about the application of people power to better ideas and better candidates. You can’t let losing sadden or depress you, this fight is for the soul of America, and it’s worth it.

Soon, the Democrats will have to remove the dinosaurs who currently run the DNC. That internal fight should happen sooner, rather than later. Keeping Nancy Pelosi as the face of the Democrats is the best possible outcome for Trump 2020.

The balance has to be between someone like Pelosi who has been there before, and can hammer the House into a functioning opposition, and others who will still be calling to “abolish ICE” two years from now. The Dems have to avoid a Tea Party moment.

The Dems did reasonably well in the mid-terms. They also got much younger.

Now, they have to find younger leadership. And a better message.Facebooklinkedinrss

Send Establishment Democrats to the Bench

The Daily Escape:

City Hall Subway Station, NYC – via @themindcircle

We live in disorienting times. Disorienting in that our society, and our values, are in motion. We are no longer anchored by social mores, beliefs, or any shared vision of the future. Our politics are evolving as well. We can’t simply blame Trump, or those who elected him for taking us to this scary place. The bipartisan consensus that’s ruled this country since the 1940s — neoliberal domestic policy, and neoconservative foreign policy ─ no longer produces the same results for our citizens that it has produced since the Eisenhower era.

Establishment Democrats bear some of the blame. And looking forward to the mid-terms and beyond, they have failed to do the simplest work — forming a worldview, then persuading others about their vision, and the steps to achieve it.

We can also blame establishment Republicans, but they have collapsed. The new right is much farther right, more authoritarian, and whiter. And who would have thought they would be the pro-Russia, anti-FBI, anti-DOJ, and (maybe not a complete surprise), the pro-police state party?

History shows that when society turns like this, the establishment parties can disappear, as did the Federalists and the Whig parties. And when one party changes, the other must as well. After Lincoln, neither the Republicans, nor the Democrats, were the same parties.

Perhaps it’s time to take these words in the Constitution to heart:

…to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed…

Therefore, if the Dems are to win back the hearts and minds of the people, regardless of what the banks and corporations want to do, Government must be the advocate for the People.

That requires that our political parties confront the banks, corporations, military contractors, and the other oversized creatures that feed at the government trough.

Is that something that the establishment Democrats (Wrongo likes calling them the “Caviar Dems”) are willing to do? They used to champion social and economic justice, but not so much today. Today, they follow the same neo-liberal economic policies that Republicans champion.

And with few exceptions, they are as neo-conservative on foreign policy as any Republican.

Republicans have undergone a different mutation. They celebrate the globalized economy, and support the domestic gig economy as a means of growing corporate profits. They still celebrate Christian values, so controlling Supreme Court appointments is their great achievement, along with ruinous tax cuts.

America’s corporate tax revenues are going down, while social and infrastructure costs keep rising. So far, under both parties, government has continued to spend money it doesn’t have. It borrows, and pretends that everything is under control.

Now, after 10 years of economic expansion, we continue to pile up deficits. What’s going to happen in the next recession? The truth is, we are poorer, and weaker, as a country than we think. But few politicians are willing to help us face reality.

We see both Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic nominee for Congress in NY, describe themselves as socialists. But, in fact, that’s not what they are. Merriam-Webster defines socialism as:

Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective, or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.

Obviously, they hope to take over the corporate-friendly establishment Democratic Party, but if you call yourself a socialist, then, at a minimum, you need to advocate for government ownership of the means of production, i.e., industry. You’re only a socialist to the extent that you advocate that.

Will Bernie or Alexandria nationalize General Motors, Apple, or ExxonMobil? No.

Even advocating for “Medicare for all,” isn’t socialism. Neither Medicare, nor other single-payer programs like Medicaid, are really socialized medicine. No one is advocating for an actual government takeover of hospitals, or turning doctors into government employees. If they really wanted socialized medicine, their cry would be “VA for all,” not “Medicare for all.”

Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are social democrats. In a social democracy, individuals and corporations continue to own the capital and the means of production. Wealth remains produced privately.

But taxation, government spending, and regulation of the private sector are much more muscular under social democracy than is the case under today’s neo-liberal economic system.

Joel Pett has a great illustration of the difference between Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez and Republicans:

It’s time for the Dems to change direction. Carry the “Medicare for all” banner proudly. Work to end income inequality. Work to add jobs for the middle class.

Send the establishment Democrats to the bench.Facebooklinkedinrss

Sunday Cartoon Blogging – July 1, 2018

Welcome to Sunday. It’s beastly hot in the Northeast of the US. Three things to help you cool off: Did you realize that the Trump/Putin Summit in Helsinki on July 16, takes place one day after soccer’s World Cup final? We know that Trump doesn’t care about soccer, but since the World Cup is taking place in Russia, Putin wouldn’t meet until after the World Cup was over. They settled on having the meeting the very next day.

Second, everyone should read Cheryl Russell’s blog. She is the former editor-in-chief of American Demographics magazine. She recently wrote about median household income:

Median household income in May 2018 climbed to $61,858, according to Sentier Research. This is a higher median than in any month since January 2000, after adjusting for inflation. The May 2018 median was 1.8% higher than the May 2017 median.

Median household income in May was 3.7% higher than the median of December 2007, when the Great Recession began. It is 13.3% higher than the post-Great Recession low of June 2011. The trend line has been positive for nearly seven years. This should be looked at very carefully by people who think Democrats have an easy path to winning the House of Representatives this fall.

Third, it’s doubtful you knew that the University of Tulsa has an Institute of Bob Dylan Studies. The George Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Tulsa acquired the Bob Dylan Archives, and now is the national hotbed of all things Dylan. Unsurprisingly, Dylan hasn’t visited.

On to cartoons. Mitch is large and in charge:

Republicans treat the Constitution like they do the Bible, picking and choosing parts they like for personal benefit:

Trump picks a surprising nominee:

(And the GOP would probably confirm him.)

Kids need to get their priorities straight:

Trump has new idea for the Wall:

Supreme Court hands public unions a big loss:

Bonus: 2012 Tom Toles cartoon on the Court. Bottom line − we all lost:

Facebooklinkedinrss

Teacher Strikes Are Pointing the Way to Change in 2018

The Daily Escape:

Baltimore Oriole in crab apple tree – 2014 photo by Wrongo

Happy (or unhappy) tax day!

Yesterday, we talked about two red state revolutions led by teachers who are demanding better pay and funding to address educational needs. We also talked about the shameful reactions of the governors of Kentucky and Oklahoma to the demonstrators.

But the governors are not the only local officials with tin ears. Valerie Vande Panne, writes in AlterNet:

In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) is the primary teacher’s membership organization. It recently announced that the strike is over. But, Oklahoma teachers continue to strike, and are seeking a new union that would actually represent their interests. Meanwhile, legislators are seeking ways to punish the striking teachers, and have accused them of bussing in protesters, and local police call the teachers “terrorists.”

2018 is a gubernatorial election in Oklahoma, in addition to seats in the House and Senate. There are rumblings in the state to replace every single elected official this year.

Wrongo is indebted to Ms. Vande Panne’s article for the facts about Oklahoma below.

Despite the common view that Oklahoma is Republican red, most voters in Oklahoma are registered Democrats or are unaffiliated. Bernie Sanders won the 2016 presidential primary. Bernie got more votes in the 2016 primary than Trump. A third of Oklahomans are African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, or are of mixed race.

And the demographics are changing rapidly: In Guymon, a small town in the Oklahoma panhandle, just north of the Texas border and hours from the nearest shopping mall, 37 languages are spoken in the public school system of 3,000 students.

Everyone knows that Oklahoma should be a wealthy state: Oil, gas, and coal are kings of the economy, but decades of sweetheart deals have left the state paying those industries more than those industries pay the state.

There seems to be a lot of red state unrest right now.

Are people finally getting fed up? Is the right wing’s mantra of too much government and not enough freedom starting to lose its grip? Has social media ended that mass media’s control of the narrative so much that opinion can easily be mobilized?

The strikes in West Virginia and Oklahoma are “wildcat” strikes. The rank and file basically decided to advocate for their own interests, and when “leadership” in WV (and apparently in OK) made an agreement with the legislature that was less than what the strikers had demanded, the rank and file defied its own union “leaders”.

These states have right-to-work laws, and few protections for labor, but when the teachers act together, they have political power. Without strong unions, labor has nothing to lose, if they mobilize enough of their rank and file. The union leadership has for years cozied up to local politicians, and now seems to have lost control over their own rank and file.

These reliably “red” states have a very different political history than we might expect. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Oklahoma, Kansas and much of the Confederate South were hotbeds of populist uprisings, from the Farmers’ Alliance and the Peoples’ Party. These parties even elected Members of Congress, and Senators. The Peoples’ Party merged into the Democratic Party in 1896.

This sets the stage for the 2018 elections. Those who want change on the local or national level shouldn’t run simply as anti-Trump. They need to address local issues that are resonating, like teacher pay and school funding. At the root of these issues is the continued cutting of taxes for corporations and the wealthy. Without revenues, schools cannot be improved, and teachers’ pay will stagnate.

Fight for equal pay for the same jobs, work to eliminate the barriers to voting, and end gerrymandering.

Run on these issues. See what happens.

 Facebooklinkedinrss