The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

The GOP’s Message and the Democrat’s Response

The Daily Escape:

Lake Blanche, UT – 2017 photo by exomniac

We watched the State of the Union (SOTU) speech at the Mansion of Wrong. Outside, it was 15° and very windy. That also appeared to be the climate in the House chamber during Trump’s speech, which Wrongo saw as largely a basket of glittering generalities; rhetoric without action; lies instead of facts; and marching band patriotism. Chants of “USA, USA” in the House chamber should be beneath our politicians, but sadly, some want us to appear to be a banana republic to the rest of the world.

Americans don’t ask their politicians for much, and apparently, willingly accept even less than that without a whimper.

Wrongo wants to focus on the Democratic response to the Trump speech. Roll Call says that there were at least five responses, of which two were “official”, in that they were authorized by the Democratic Party. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA), grandson of Bobby Kennedy, delivered the English-language Democratic response. Virginia Guzman, the newly elected, and first Latina to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, gave an official Spanish-language response.

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California offered an unofficial response to the presidential speech, as did former Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland.

But the most notable response came from a sitting senator who isn’t a Democrat, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). He rebutted Trump’s remarks, and in some ways, rebuked Trump and his administration. This is the second year in a row that Sanders has delivered his own speech after the State of the Union. Bernie’s speech was shown on social media, and not on any mainstream TV outlet. You can read the text of his speech here.

Post-SOTU, the Dems are about to get worked over, largely because of their support of the Dreamers. If Chuck Schumer has his way, Democrats are about to charge up DACA hill once again. The outcome is likely to be the same. Wrongo thinks the Dreamers’ cause is just, but it isn’t a good idea to try to ransom them from Trump and the GOP as part of the immigration deal Trump has placed on the table.

Trump wants to alter our immigration system in a very unfair way in exchange for Dreamer amnesty. The question for Democrats is: Should they make the trade? Do they really think that the GOP will start deporting Dreamers in March? Do they think the videos of Dreamers in custody and on their way to homelands they never knew will help Republicans politically?

Take the Dreamers off the table. Proceed with other pressing issues, like funding the government.

And when the DACA protections lapse, there will be a price that Dreamers will have to pay, right along with both Democrats and Republicans, neither of whom would make a deal to extend DACA.

And when Trump wants an infrastructure deal, then Dems should bring up the Dreamers. Change the strategy. Let the “public-private” partnerships he touts for infrastructure be the way he gets his wall, and how Dreamers get amnesty.

It’s important that Dems are right on both the politics and on the merits. Compromise must come on big issues like immigration and infrastructure, and Dems shouldn’t take the first deals offered on either issue.

But to win in 2018 and beyond requires Democrats to offer a strong and compelling platform of their own, one based upon principles. Like health care being a right of citizenship. Like investing in education and infrastructure instead of spending on wars and weapons. Young Kennedy got close to identifying a compelling platform, but he isn’t the messenger for 2018.

There are many people in America who are hurting. Many are under-employed, and not getting the support they need. Simply pointing the finger at Trump is not going to inspire many to go to the polls. Democrats tried this in 2016, and it didn’t work.

People need a positive vision for the USA, and their place in it.

On Tuesday night, Trump would only speak of his plans in very general terms, because he doesn’t have the support in both Houses of Congress to get the job done. While MAGA is a successful campaign slogan, it isn’t a plan for a future that includes all Americans.

Democrats can be a part of the solution, if they find a way to prevent the GOP from taking and holding liberal issues hostage.


How to Blow a “Blue Wave” Election

The Daily Escape:

Tillamook Head Lighthouse, Oregon – 2018 photo by Shaun Peterson

2018 is supposed to be a “Blue Wave” election, but Wrongo has doubts. We spoke yesterday about the pathetic performance of Team Dem during the shutdown. The Financial Times (paywalled) quoted Adam Green, co-founder of the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee: (brackets and emphasis by Wrongo)

The Republicans are very good at casting this debate [DACA] as being about illegal immigration and Democrats were not willing to own that this was at its core about the Dreamers and to define the Republican position as hurting kids and tearing apart families…The Trump people were clearly thinking about their messaging in advance and preparing ads in advance and there was almost no [Democratic] co-ordination with outside groups and no air cover by Democratic strategists…

That Schumer, Pelosi, et al. had no Plan B shows that they weren’t serious, no doubt because DACA isn’t an important issue for their base, the top 10%. Can the current Democratic Party leaders turn a wave opportunity into another squeaker like they did in 2016?

There is a large group of disaffected and/or disappointed voters who can be claimed in the 2018 Congressional elections. It’s a group of voters so disgusted with both parties that they could, just as easily vote in huge numbers, or stay home in droves.

Democrats said after the 2016 election that one new principle was to “crack down on corporate monopolies”, but since then, have done nothing. Here is a candidate that should be an example to Democrats on the subject of corporate power over the lives of regular people.  Austin Frerick is a 22-year-old running as Democrat in the 3rd Congressional District in Iowa against a conservative Republican. Watch him explain concentrated corporate power in a way that Schumer and Pelosi can’t, and won’t:

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

The basic skill a politician must have is to bring disparate groups a message about what they want/need, and how to get it. Chuck Shumer, the beacon of Wall Street, can’t be the guy fighting for Main Street voters.  Anything Schumer comes up with will not be the kind of clear and concise message that Austin Frerick can use to win his district.

Civil Rights activists in the 1960s didn’t win the prize on day one, but they never took their eyes off the ball once they achieved a few small wins. It’s important to remember that in the 1960s, the Party’s leadership was aligned with their Main Street supporters. But today, Democrats in Congress and their usual Democratic supporters have little in common. Schumer/Pelosi are not seeking the same prize as Main Street Democrats. They are captured by the monied elites, and have no message directed at the little people. Their only message is “Russians! Trump!”.

So far, Dems have won a few special elections, and won the Governorship in NJ, which should never have been lost to Christie in the first place. It’s time for the progressives in Congress to stage an actual coup, replacing today’s leaders with a few of their own. Otherwise, 2018’s messaging will be: 2016 – the sequel.

Will Wrongo be wrong again? Will the Democrats win with their current leaders? Or will they field so many unpalatable mainstreamers, backed by no message at all, that few will vote for them?

We’ll know in just a few months, and then, 2020 is just around the corner.


A Year Later…

The Daily Escape:

Chalk Pyramids, Oakley Kansas – photo by Marlon Flores

(Wrongo is writing this on Election Day, and will not know any national or local results before you read the column on Wednesday. Two years ago, Wrongo’s hometown turned out 20+ years of Republican control in a deeply Republican county. The subsequent efforts by local Republicans to block change mirrors exactly what we have seen on a national level. Despite that, much was accomplished. We’ll know on Wednesday if vision or blockage controls the town’s next two years.)

We are one year into the Trump administration. Many of us are still dealing with the reality that the country elected someone who is incapable of empathy, who has very little understanding of how the world works. Someone who treats women, minorities, and people who disagree with him so appallingly.

The worst thing is how bad behavior (by Trump and many in his administration) has become normalized in the eyes of the press and the people. It started immediately with the administration lying about the size of Trump’s inaugural crowd. Martin Longman took a look back and sums it up perfectly:

Looking back a year later, it’s a struggle not to succumb to a well-earned cynicism. We don’t like to repeat our mistakes, which makes it tempting to over-correct for them.

There were…times when President Obama stood up and told the American people that we’re better than this, that we can do better and be better. It’s not a good feeling to know that the response [by voters in 2016] was, “No, we’re not, and no we can’t.”

…But one giant mistake doesn’t condemn us in perpetuity. I actually find comfort and a cause for optimism that so many people were unable to imagine a Trump victory. It means that I wasn’t alone in having some standards or in believing that we can be better than this. It’s just going to be harder and take longer than I was willing to imagine.

Wrongo thinks Martin is too optimistic, and we shouldn’t expect any real change in his lifetime. Why? One reason is that the Democrats can’t stop playing inside baseball long enough to have a winning vision for the country. The Donna Brazile kerfuffle tells all we need to know: There is no leadership in the Democratic Party.

So, no leadership and no vision. The Dems are like your kids fighting in the back seat of the SUV. While the GOP is a well-oiled machine, staying on message, even when they don’t agree with whatever it is that the Donald just did.

The Democratic Party leadership has to go, we can’t stand by them, not even for another election cycle. Mike Allen at Axios suggests we look to mayors for the next Democratic leaders:

Here’s something unusual and refreshing: There are two highly ambitious Democrats who don’t even bother hiding their strong desire to run [for president] in 2020 — and to reshape the party: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, president of the US Conference of Mayors.

Allen thinks that Democrats could be led back from the wilderness by a mayor:

  • Garcetti: “We’re too busy talking to ourselves, and about ourselves…People don’t care about our inner workings, or even our inner leadership battles…We’ve got to get back to speaking plain English. We are so inside baseball right now…Are you a Bernie person? Are you a Hillary person?”
  • Landrieu, speaking about the bipartisanship of the Conference of Mayors: “The one thing we never do in any of our meetings is think about what the Democratic caucus or the Republican caucus in Washington, DC, is doing. It never enters our mind…People in America are feeling unbalanced right now.”

Allen asked top Dem donors and operatives about possible candidates like Garcetti and Landrieu, and heard that they think DC experience is a vulnerability not an asset for a presidential candidate.

Wrongo agrees. America’s mayors actually do things, and getting things done energizes them. Wrongo has seen this from up close in his hometown. Mayors don’t talk like DC pols, they seem to love their jobs.

And it’s a level of government where Democrats have a deep bench.

The GOP’s goal is to destroy the New Deal, the environmental legislation passed during the Nixon administration and all of Johnson’s domestic achievements.

We won’t defeat their goals without a new message and a new messenger.


Sunday Cartoon Blogging – December 4, 2016

Quite the week. Trump makes Cabinet appointments, he tweets about taking citizenship away from US flag burners exercising freedom of speech, he takes a call from the president of Taiwan, and gets a formal protest from China.

That wasn’t all. You missed it, but Congress passed HR 5732, the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act”. The bill sets the stage for the implementation of a no-fly zone (NFZ) over Syria. It requires the administration to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report:

That assesses the potential effectiveness, risks and operational requirements of the establishment and maintenance of a no-fly zone over part of all of Syria.

These Congressional chicken hawks may not realize that NFZs are a form of limited war. Politicians are usually the first to forget that limited wars only stay limited by mutual agreement. The military will tell you to never declare an NFZ unless you are entirely willing to fight a real air and ground war to enforce it. In the case of Syria, a No-Fly Zone would require the destruction of Syrian aircraft and missile systems from Day 1, probably leading to the death of Russians shortly thereafter. We could have a shooting war with Russia by the end of the first week.

Syria has over 130 air defense systems. A dozen or so are in the Aleppo area. Syria also has over 4,000 air defense artillery pieces and a few thousand portable infrared-guided missile systems. Russia has also located its advanced S-400 anti-aircraft missiles into Syria to protect their bases in Latakia Province. Those missile systems effectively give Russia control over Syria’s airspace, and for the US to impose a no-fly zone would require an air battle with Russia, which would all but guarantee the loss of a large number of US warplanes.

Over the last 25 years, there has been an evolving political infatuation with two pillars of “political airpower”: airstrikes and no-fly zones. Did we get the results our politicians promised?

Onward to cartoons. Trump goes to Indiana, gives Carrier tax breaks:


It was great political theater, but it is a standard “socialize the losses” GOP play: tax breaks for jobs. The taxes earned from keeping the jobs never pay the cost of the tax credits.

Paul Krugman had a good observation:


Fidel Castro dies:


Free speech isn’t well understood by the Orange Overlord:


Nancy Pelosi is reelected as Minority Leader. Many are pleased:


Mitt wants work, will say anything:














Trump still has lots of posts to fill. Word is that former vice presidential candidate and Tina Fey impersonator Sarah Palin is on the list of possible Cabinet appointments.


Sunday Cartoon Blogging – November 20, 2016

“My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth”Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln believed that America should be a model for the world. He felt that the best way to achieve that was to end the divisiveness, to make America a land of hope and freedom for all. He had the courage to confront the political and cultural divisions caused by slavery, and he forced America to choose between allowing statutory inequality for some, and freedom for all.

If that was what Donald Trump meant by making America great again, he might have gotten Wrongo’s vote. Sadly, his flurry of recent cabinet appointments seem to indicate his idea of a great America leads him in a completely different direction. He’s announced Mike Flynn as his National Security Advisor, Jeff Sessions as his Attorney General and Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas as his director of Central Intelligence.

You will see millions of words written about their qualifications, so no need to guild those lilies here.

All three will be seen by those who gave Clinton 1.3 million more votes than Trump as mind-bogglingly disastrous choices. You be the judge of whether this is the type of swamp-draining Trump voters expected.

Nobody enters the White House well-prepared, but this is what’s coming:


Not all promises will be kept in a Trump administration:


Promises are made to be broken, particularly when Paul Ryan wants to be helpful:


Ryan and Trump met to talk things out. Trump was happy with the meeting:


DJT won’t stop tweeting. That could lead to mercifully short State of the Union addresses:


The Dems appear to be re-electing their loser team. Who thinks that leads to anything good?



Chuck Schumer has been re-elected Senate Minority Leader. Nancy Pelosi will most likely be re-elected Minority Leader in the House. Yet, she totally missed the reality of what happened in the 2016 election. Here is her analysis of the election results: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

We cannot be taking the full responsibility for what happened in the election…As far as we are concerned, the problem was more with the communication than it was with our policy…I believe the Comey letter was a foul deed…It was the wrong thing to do.

Not her fault? We hear all the time that elections have consequences. It’s time for the consequences to rain down on Pelosi, among other Democrats.

Democrats gained only six House seats in the 2016 elections, meaning that they will remain in the minority for the fourth consecutive Congress under Pelosi’s leadership. And the 30 or so Democratic Congresspersons who are now fighting Pelosi want to break the party’s seniority rule, which guarantees senior leadership posts go to the longest-serving members.

This election proved that the Democrats have no bench of young politicos who can carry the party in 2018 and beyond. The question is: Who will be the face of Democratic opposition? Shouldn’t it be someone most of America can relate to?

You know, someone who isn’t an elderly rich San Franciscan.

Unlike the House GOP, where committee leadership depends on the Party’s decisions, House Democrats assign committee leadership by seniority. The result is that the ranking committee Democrats stay in the jobs long enough to get very old. For example, Pelosi is 76. The Judiciary Committee’s John Conyers is 87. Sandy Levin, on the Ways and Means Committee, is 85.

Nobody is saying that these are bad people, but the average age for ranking Democratic members is 68, compared to 60 for House Republicans.

It’s time for new ideas and younger blood to run the Democratic leadership.

She’s gotta go.


Sunday Cartoon Blogging – May 10, 2015

The Republicans seem to have a bumper crop of presidential candidates. We can expect about 20 Republican candidates to announce before the running really starts. While it raises talk about the “Clown Car”, it also shows the strength of the Republican’s “bench.” Republicans have multiple governors and senators who could run a credible campaign in the presidential election. Contrast this with the Democratic Party. Who has what it takes to challenge Hillary Clinton’s position for the Democratic nominee?
COW Hillary Coronation

It’s partly the strength of Hillary’s resume, but the Democrats have no viable alternatives. If Ms. Clinton stumbles, the Democrats would be stuck trying to win with Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, or Jim Webb. This is indicative of a huge problem for Democrats: It has no bench. Consider this:

• Before the 2010 election, the Democrats controlled 61 of the 99 state legislative bodies in the US. By the end of the 2012 election cycle, they controlled 36; today, they control 30.
• The number of Democrats in the House dropped from 257 in mid-2010 to 201 after the 2012 election. Now, that number stands at 188.

And they are counting on older, war horse candidates for open Senate seats in 2016: Their nominee in Ohio will be Ted Strickland, who will be 75 by the 2016 election. In Pennsylvania, Democrats will likely go for former Governor Ed Rendell, or former Representative Joe Sestak. In Wisconsin, Democrats will probably look to former Senator Russ Feingold, and in New Hampshire, current Governor Maggie Hassan is the top choice.

Only in Florida and Illinois, where Reps. Patrick Murphy and Tammy Duckworth are slated for Senate nominations, are younger incumbents likely to move up.

A party with a strong, young bench in each state is like a basketball team with lots of young talent; they may not be all that good yet, but everyone knows they will be at some point. This void threatens to limit the Democrats in the not-too-distant future, and needs to be remedied quickly, or the party will be in a minority position for a very long time.

Contrast with Republicans:

COW GOP Candidates

Jade Helm brought out the best in Texas:

COW Jade Helm










“Deflate Gate” came back to haunt the Patriots:

COW Game Balls













Tom Brady’s homoerotic moment:

COW Brady

In Great Britain’s election, the Scots declare independence from England, and England from Europe:

COW UK Election

Britons vote after six weeks of campaigning. That’s only 42 days for the pundits to make their dough. The NY Times reports that in the UK, each party is limited to spending $29.5 million in the year before the election.

All TV channels are required by law to give the main parties and their leaders carefully measured free time at peak viewing hours to state their cases. Paid TV advertisements are forbidden. And on election day, television and radio shows are forbidden from discussing campaign issues, talking about polls or dissecting individual candidates until the polls close at 10 pm.

Let’s try it, America!