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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Monday Wake Up Call – August 28, 2017

The Daily Escape:

Rats Restaurant, NJ Grounds for Sculpture – 2017 photo by Wrongo

The politics of disruption brought us Donald Trump. With hindsight, the evidence was everywhere. Americans were unhappy with our political system. Voters had lost faith in the government and political parties. About 10% of voters believed Congress was doing a good job. Both political parties had favorability ratings of less than 40%.

In 2008, people were frustrated and angry. By November 2016, with continued economic discontent, worsening conflicts in the Middle East, and serious public policy issues left unattended, people voted for the guy who promised to break our politics.

Trump won 53% of the over-65 vote, but was supported by only 37% of 18-29-year-olds. He won the white vote by 58% to 37%. And 51% of American women voted for him.

Mark Leonard  says that the election was decided by pessimistic voters. They were attracted by Trump’s anti-free trade arguments, his anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric, his (false) statistics about increased crime, and the loss of American jobs to Asian countries.

Trump said all of this was caused by Washington and could be fixed by a disruptive billionaire. The pessimists won, and felt very hopeful that Trump would change America.

Are they having buyer’s remorse today? No, most say that they still support their guy.

Yesterday, we highlighted some findings of the Public Policy Polling (PPP) national poll taken after Charlottesville. PPP found that Donald Trump’s approval rating was steady despite all of his backtracking around the Charlottesville attack:

40% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing to 53% who disapprove, little change from the 41/55 spread we found for him in July.

This despite that just 26% of Trump voters think he has delivered on his promise to “drain the swamp”, to 53% who say he hasn’t. When asked if Trump has come through on “Making America Great Again,” just 33% of his voters say he has, to 59% who say he hasn’t.

PPP found that 57% of Republicans want Trump to be the party’s nominee in 2020, compared to 29% who say they would prefer someone else. That 28 point margin for Trump against “someone else” is the same as his 28 point lead over Mike Pence. Both Ted Cruz, with a 40 point deficit to Trump at 62/22, and John Kasich, a 47 point deficit to Trump, are weaker potential opponents than ‘someone else’.

All in, Trump is keeping his base together, while losing a few moderate Republicans. So the question is, what will it take to make Trump a one-term president?

If you want to defeat Trump, focus on how his political disruption has only caused destruction. It isn’t enough to tear shit down. Any president has to be a builder, and not just for a phony wall.

Have there been any gains from the disruption? Is there any evidence that Trump has the leadership skills to bring policies into law that will improve the lives of those who voted for him?

The winning message is about building: Build unity. Build the economy. Build a vision for a growing middle class.

Be a builder, not a disruptor.

Wake up America! Find a builder, or be a builder. To help you wake up, here is John Mayer with his 2006 Grammy-winning hit “Waiting On The World To Change”:

Takeaway Lyric:

It’s hard to beat the system
When we’re standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change

Now if we had the power
To bring our neighbors home from war
They would have never missed a Christmas
No more ribbons on their door
And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want.

Don’t wait to be a builder. Dr. King didn’t wait, neither did Mandela. They changed the world. WE have the power to change America.

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Do Trump’s Poor Approval Ratings Mean Much?

The Daily Escape:

Lake Louise Sunrise, Alberta, Canada

On Monday, Gallup released Trump’s job approval rating in all 50 states, based on a collection of over 81,000 survey results gathered in the six months between the president’s inauguration on January 20 and June 30. The results show an interesting trend, particularly if you divide them into three categories: states where Trump is above 50%, states where Trump is in the 40%’s, and states where Trump is under 40%:

The dark green states where Trump is above 50% are states Trump carried in 2016. The yellow states, where Trump is under 40%, are all states that Clinton carried in 2016. The light green states are 2016’s swing states: New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nevada. From Gallup:

Trump largely owed his victory in the 2016 presidential election to his wins in three key Rust Belt states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — that had not backed a Republican for president since the 1980s. In these states, his January-June approval ratings were just slightly above his overall average of 40%, including 43% in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and 42% in Michigan.

So those three states that put him over the top in the 2016 Electoral College could now be in play. Other interesting data:

  • In the 2016 election, Trump won all 17 of the states where Gallup now shows him with an approval rating of at least 50%.
  • During the six-month survey period, residents in West Virginia (60%), North Dakota (59%) and South Dakota (57%) gave Trump his highest approval ratings. Montana, Wyoming and Alabama all had average approval ratings of 55% or higher.

This is consistent with the geographic patterns of Republican strength nationally. Trump’s highest approval ratings tend to be in Southern, Plains and Mountain West states. His lowest ratings are in Northeast and West Coast states.

Maine, Georgia, Missouri, Indiana, Mississippi, Arizona and Texas are now in the minority-favorable category. Clinton carried Maine and Nevada, but the rest are states that voted for Trump.

In Michigan, North Carolina, Florida and Texas, Trump is at 42% and at least nine points underwater with majority disapproval. Majority disapproval in Texas could help Dems in 2020.

This means that Trump is solidly under 50% in 33 states, including every swing state.

Gallup has been running this daily tracking poll for about 70 years. It showed Trump’s approval at 46% at inauguration. Now the same Gallup poll, done with the same protocol, shows Trump’s approval at 36%.

But this doesn’t mean that Trump is toast in 2020, or that the Democrats have a path to control either the House or Senate in 2018. Peter Hessler had an interesting article in The New Yorker about how Trump has a deeper influence on his voters than we previously thought:

If anything, investigations into the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia have made supporters only more faithful. “I’m loving it – I hope they keep going down the Russia rabbit hole,” Matt Peterson told me, in June. He believes that Democrats are banking on impeachment instead of doing the hard work of trying to connect with voters. “They didn’t even get rid of their leadership after the election…”

Trump is drawn to making silly statements on the Twitter machine like a moth to flame, and it is scorching him enough to reflect in his approval numbers. But Russia alone won’t be a winning hand for Democrats, as the New Yorker article shows. These Russia investigations may not amount to anything, or they may be something that takes until Trump’s second term to fully flower.

In the meantime, the Dems issued a new manifesto, “A Better Deal”, a re-branding of their greatest hits: more and better-paying jobs, lower health care costs, and cracking down on the abuses of big business.

But this time, they really mean it.

It is doubtful that the new slogan or its underlying policies will have Republicans quaking in their Ferragamos.

If there is one lesson Democrats should have learned from 2016, it is that opposition to Trump is not enough to win elections. They need new leadership and a better message.

Otherwise, despite the rosy (for Democrats) poll results on Trump favorability, Democrats will be explaining what went wrong again when the 2018 midterms roll around.

On to today’s tune. Here is Aretha Franklin doing “It Ain’t Necessarily So“, with lyrics and music by George and Ira Gershwin. It is from their opera, “Porgy and Bess”:

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

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Monday Wake Up Call – February 27, 2017

The Daily Escape:

(A Great Grey Owl on the hunt – photo by Christina Anne m)

The last weekend in February is now in the rear view mirror. The shortest month seemed like an eternity to most of us. Even thinking about looking forward is madness, March Madness that is, a favorite time for Wrongo, one of the few times when watching televised sports dominates at the Mansion of Wrong.

Perhaps you have heard that Mr. Trump will not be attending the White House Correspondents Association annual dinner roast. Instead, maybe the press can get George W. Bush to show up, and search under the podium for a free press, like he did when pretending to look for WMD at the WHCA Dinner in 2004.

The Wrong family is off to Florida this week for the annual visit to his family. So columns may be like the Florida breezes, light and variable.

Remember Tuesday is Mardi Gras, which for some of you is your last guilt-free celebration until Easter. If you prefer less partying and more angst, by all means watch Donald Trump’s Tuesday address to a joint session of Congress.

Politico reports that House Democrats plan to troll Trump during the speech. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), is leading an effort to have his colleagues bring diverse guests to the speech on Tuesday. The effort is designed to focus on Trump’s immigration and refugee policies, perhaps stealing a bit of the spotlight from the president’s speech. Wrongo’s advice to Dems is to respect the office of the president. They can sit on their hands when Republicans applaud the Overlord, but they should avoid overt displays that make them look like loonies on the floor of the Congress. Wrongo’s further advice is not to attend this manufactured event. After all, there is no requirement in law or custom for it; it isn’t a “State of the Union” speech. And it’s the first time since Eisenhower that a president has given this type of out-of-sequence address.

So don’t expect that each time Trump tells a whopper, Dems will yell out “you lie!” despite the fact that since Republican Rep. Joe Wilson did it to Obama, it seems to be ok. And most likely if the Orange Overlord is speaking, this time, it will also be true.

So let’s wake up with a song about lyin’ politicians. Here is “Politician Lies by Steve M:

Sample Lyrics:

Politician lies
Hide what money buys.
They know right from wrong
Still they come on like King Kong
With a fat superpac
You can’t get them off your back.

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

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Saturday Soother – February 25, 2017

The Daily Escape:

(Crab Eater seal, under ice in the Antarctic)

Today, Democrats will select a Chair for the Democratic National Committee, someone who will be tasked with moving the Party towards relevancy after its 2016 election debacle. In typical Democrat fashion, there are 10 candidates who seem on the surface to be saying exactly the same things. One of the top candidates, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) promises to provide the party with a megaphone for a message of economic solidarity with the working class. Ellison said:

I am not afraid to say that I care about poor people…the rich people have a party, the Democratic Party needs to be the party of the working people.

Ellison proposes a 50-state strategy; listening to the grass roots; better candidate recruitment, and more effective organizing. Ellison is supported by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer (!)

Tom Perez, former Secretary of Labor under Obama, and front-runner, is supported by both the Obama and Clinton camps. He promises principled progressivism with some organizational change.

Perez’s focus on DNC organizational change could prove appealing to the insider voters, who want the action to take place at the state level. Last week, Perez’s team said he was nearing the 224 votes needed to clinch the race in the first round, while Ellison called that count “unverifiable”.

After years of emphasizing big donors, it seems that all candidates are expressing a desire to return to the hard work of a state-based, grassroots, 50 state strategy.

To some, this election is a choice between a populist, grass-roots organizer in Ellison, and the technocrat mainstream Democrat Perez, who calls himself a turnaround artist. Sounds like the Democrat’s 2016 primary all over again. Regardless of who wins, it will be spun as a victory for either the status quo, or for the agents of change in the party. OTOH, either of the two front-runners will be better for the future than were Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and her predecessor, Tim Kaine.

So, after another tough week in Trumplandia, you need to chill out, and so does the rest of America. Sit back, grab a cup of Peet’s Sumatra Batak Peaberry, and listen to today’s Saturday Soother. Here is Russian soprano Anna Netrebko in 2006 with the Berlin Opera Orchestra singing the aria O mio babbino caro” from the opera, “Gianni Schicchi” by Puccini:

A nice way to spend 3 minutes, and you get to see in English what she is singing about. Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Election Wrap-Up Linkage – Saturday Edition

In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”George Orwell

Feeling blitzed by the election? Science has an answer. Research by neuroscientists have led to a list of 10 songs which reduce stress. According to Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International, which conducted the research, “Weightless” has been named as the most relaxing song ever, which reduces a person’s stress by 65%. Your mileage may vary.

The most interesting thing so far in the analysis of who voted is the number of Democrats that didn’t vote:

popular-vote
While America hasn’t counted all the votes yet, Clinton’s total vote is down significantly from both Obama elections. On the margin, people apparently thought that they didn’t have sufficient reason to show up for Clinton. Everybody knew what Donald Trump’s top three issues were. Despite an issue-laden website, nobody knew what Hillary Clinton’s’ top three issues were, they just knew she was against DT.

Krystal Ball (yes her real name) was a candidate for Congress in Virginia a half dozen years ago and has been writing since. She has a column up at HuffPo: The Democratic Party Deserved To Die in which she says the following:

In 29 states, truck driving is the number one job and it is one of the few jobs left that can provide a middle class living for high school grads. What will happen to the 1.5 million families who get their daily bread from a truck driver when all of those jobs are eliminated by driverless trucks? It’s not a matter of if but when. Are we going to teach all those drivers to code or retrofit windows or whatever other pathetic nonsense we’ve held up as a solution? This new reality is upon us. The markets are not going to magically fix it.

Stronger Together” meant nothing to all these people that felt that they were left behind by globalization, free trade agreements and technology. Democrats have been on an 8-year slide from electing a President with veto proof majorities in Congress to holding zero power in DC. Maybe this will reignite the revolt in the party to ditch its leadership and get back to its roots.

Orange County CA among the most Republican counties in CA, finally votes for a Democratic Presidential candidate, and the rest of the country pulls up the ladder. WTF?

On Election Day, most voters use electronic or optical-scan ballots. Nearly half of registered voters (47%) live in jurisdictions that use only optical-scan as their standard voting system, and about 28% live in DRE-only jurisdictions, according to Pew’s analysis of data from the Verified Voting Foundation, a nongovernmental organization concerned with the impact of new voting technologies on election integrity. Here is how votes are tallied in America:

type-of-voting-machine

 

 

 

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Hillary’s Under-reported Uphill Slough

Wrongo didn’t watch the Democratic debate because it was up against the series finale of “Downton Abbey”. Some think that the effort to bury the Dem debates in popular TV time slots is a conscious decision by DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, designed to make Bernie Sanders less competitive with Hillary Clinton.

Conscious or not, few people are watching these debates.

One thing that is overstated in the Democratic primary process is Bernie’s uphill slough with African Americans. The accepted pundit logic is that he does so badly with AA’s that he has no chance to win.

What is overlooked in that analysis is that the 20 primaries held so far have split 12-8 in favor of Clinton (based on who won the majority of committed state delegates). Clinton does have a big lead in delegates, 1130 to Sanders’s 499.

So, consider what Bernie has been able to accomplish. In winning 8 states, he’s exposed a Clinton weakness: She doesn’t do well among the most committed white Democrats – the kind of folks who turn out for caucuses in states like Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado.

And then there is the under-reported uphill slough by Hillary Clinton: That the Sanders campaign is out raising Clinton’s funds. He’s raising his money from ordinary citizens (five million individual donations at this point). And, unlike Clinton, WaPo reports that he does it easily:

Sanders outraised Clinton again in February for the second month in a row, bringing in $42.7 million to her $30 million. On the last day of the month alone, he brought in $6 million online as the campaign used social media to egg on his backers to give, give and give again.

The WaPo also reported that Clinton has had to take two days off the campaign trail to raise money in California for use against Sanders in the primaries. And in a one-week stretch later this month, she is scheduled to make seven fundraising stops in six states — Georgia, Tennessee, Connecticut, Virginia, Washington and California.

Bernie’s funds-raising power has triggered concern among some Clinton allies that it will weaken her — not only because she must spend so much money competing against him, but also because he is criticizing her in ways that could dampen enthusiasm for her in the fall. She may risk donor fatigue when the general election gets under way.

Perhaps one reason why Clinton may risk donor fatigue in the late stages of the election is that she has already tapped many large potential investors. From 2013-15, she earned $21.4 million in speaking fees from 91 organizations. Those funds did not go into her campaign, or into one of her Super PACs. The funds went into her own accounts, making her a member of the 1%.

You can see the listing of the organizations that paid her an average of $235k per speech here.

As Scott Lemieux of LGM said, paying people six figures (plus luxury perks) to deliver rote speeches is one of the more egregious mechanisms by which America’s overcompensated elites reward each other.

More from Scott:

The speaking fees do not constitute quid pro quo bribes, and they will not turn Hillary Clinton into a right-winger. But they’re nonetheless one of the many ways in which the wealthy exert disproportionate influence on the political process.

So, Clinton’s uphill sloughs come first, from needing money to blunt the Sanders insurgency. She needs to take days out of campaigning to pin down more funding by the wealthy to match the funding of everyday people for Sanders. Second, she needs to explain her awesome ability to get paid by US corporations.

This hurts in a few ways: When she talks about inequality and opportunity, she often starts with canned stories of her middle class upbringing – stories which she says prove that she has more in common with the cashier than the CEO. That can’t seem genuine to many low income people.

And when Clinton’s speaking fees come up, she knows that it also rubs lots of people the wrong way. She should say something along the lines of:

This is exactly why I think people like me should pay much higher taxes in this economy, so middle-class people could pay less.

Her tax plans seem to say she believes that, but she has not used her own plan as a direct response to the speaking fees question.

Hill has two different uphill sloughs, both occurring at the same time.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – Super Bowl Edition

Today’s Super Bowl marks the end of the football season, but still overshadows the political silly season, that will be with us for what will seem to be a long, long time.

Things to look for in Super Bowl 50:

COW Superbowl 50a
“And, when we score a touchdown, make sure you know your assignments for the end-zone celebration.”

And what to look for in your living room:

COW Superbowl 50

But, even at the Super Bowl, the problem of football concussions isn’t going away:

COW CTE

So far, the Democratic race is between an idealist Grandpa and a wonk Grandma:

COW Grandpa Bern
In New Hampshire the political woods are full of free running saps:

COW NH Sap

Something not so super this week was this dickhead:

COW Shkreli

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Monday Wake Up Call – July 27, 2015

The Connecticut Democratic Party has decided to change the name of its “Jefferson-Jackson Dinner”. Apparently prompted by the national controversy over the Confederate flag, the state’s Democratic Party last week voted unanimously to change the name of its annual fundraising dinner and remove the names of two slave-owning American presidents.

The clear implication is that there’s something wrong with Thomas Jefferson which puts him in the same category as the Confederate Flag. The Hartford Courant reported this quote from the state Democrats’ resolution:

As members of the Democratic Party, we are proud of our history as the party of inclusion. Democrats have led the way on civil rights, LGBT equality and equal rights for women…It is only fitting that the name of the party’s most visible annual event reflects our dedication to diversity and forward-looking vision.

Wrongo doesn’t care if the Democratic Party stops naming their fundraisers after Jefferson and Jackson.

What is bothersome is the implication that Jefferson is a pariah. Andrew Jackson is another matter, despite the fact that the symbol of the party is the donkey, or jackass. “Jackass,” stood for Andrew Jackson. It came from an 1837 political cartoon referring to Jackson as a “Jack-ass.” Jackson thought it was funny, and used it to his advantage. Democrats embraced the symbol, and it has stuck for nearly 180 years.

What message does the CT Dems public disowning of Jefferson send? Do CT Dems understand history? We owe a debt to Jefferson. It’s easy to say that Jefferson did things that were wrong, but he wrote the Declaration of Independence, managed our relationships with France during the Revolutionary War, and was a highly successful president. It is a huge mistake to invalidate his accomplishments because of his personal foibles. He was a man of his time, and did what he did. But, without him, our revolution would have been different.

Making perfection the enemy of great is wrong-headed. It places the CT Dems in a similar intellectual place as Donald Trump, who says McCain isn’t a war hero because he was captured, or that John Kerry wasn’t a good negotiator because he fell off his bike.

Maybe we could all be adults? The effort at political correctness by the modern Democratic Party is fine, but we should remember that Martin Luther King, Jr. was not a perfect man. African-Americans know that, but Dr. King is still revered by almost all Americans.

And the fact that today’s GOP embraces Abraham Lincoln does not make the modern GOP a racism-free party, regardless of how often the GOP invokes Lincoln’s name to claim credit for his greatness. Judging our founders, or our heroes by today’s standards, would condemn almost everyone past and present. Maybe, Democrats in Washington, CT, named after George, will want to change its name, since George Washington owned slaves.

Yes, there are egalitarian threads in both the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian traditions that resonate with Democrats today—but both men based the equality of some men upon the subordination of others.

Since CT Democrats are determined to replace Jefferson and Jackson as patrons of these events, and are holding a meeting to decide the new name of the event in September, without question, FDR-JFK could serve pretty well, despite each man’s foibles. Or maybe, Joe Lieberman?

Are you the one American without personal foibles?

So, wake up Connecticut Democrats. To help with their wake-up, here is #4 in our songs of summer series, “Summertime Blues”, the great Eddie Cochran tune done here by Brian Setzer on MTV, recorded live for the ‘La Bamba’ concert. It reminds that there was a time when MTV was watchable:

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

Monday’s Hot Links:
Foreign Policy reports that back in 2000, the NSA intercepted a call to Bin Laden’s operations center in Yemen from a 9/11 hijacker in San Diego. They failed to follow-up, which should set off warning bells. Now 16 years later, the NSA denies they knew where the calls originated. That’s bullshit two ways: In 2000, the telephone network’s technology automatically provided a digital equivalent of caller ID to every phone switch, including NSA’s. And former NSA people like Tom Drake and William Binney say there’s no way the NSA wouldn’t have tapped this line.

Dark matter is the stuff that cosmologists think makes up some 85% of all the matter in the universe. A new theory says dark matter might be a known particle. If true, that would open up a window onto an invisible, dark matter version of physics.

Turkey launches war on Islamic State’s worst enemies – The Kurds. This blog site, Moon of Alabama, can be decidedly anti-American, but this is a must read article.

Gun deaths will surpass automobile deaths in the US this year, says The Atlantic. Car crashes killed 33,561 people in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Firearms killed 32,251 people in the US in 2011, the most recent year for which the CDC has data. The young are most at risk: CDC data show guns will kill more Americans under 25 than cars in 2015. Surely, a small price to pay for our Second Amendment freedoms?

Marilyn Tavenner, who served as the chief administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services from 2013 until February, is now in charge of an insurance industry lobby. This tells us all we need to know about where insurance companies see their next pot of gold. It is the Medicare Advantage program, which over the past several years, has become an increasingly important revenue stream for the country’s insurers. Revolving door much?

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Democrats Have Lost America

Members of Congress will formally take their oaths of office on their respective chamber floors when the 114th Congress convenes at noon today.

But even as the new Congress gets sworn in, and Democrats dutifully take up their positions in the minority, It is important to realize that Democrats have taken their collective eye off the ball in the states for the past 6 years: Not only do Republicans control Congress, they control an overwhelming majority of state legislatures as well, including 100% control (legislative and executive) of 24 states.

Despite the Democrats’ obsessive focus on holding the Senate and winning the presidency, DC was not the only battlefield; there was a huge battle for control of the states. The WaPo reported this week that the battle is over. Republicans now control 31 governorships and 68 of 98 partisan legislative chambers.

Before Election Day 2014, the GOP controlled 59 partisan legislative chambers (most states have two chambers, some only one) across the country. The increase to 68 gives Republicans six more chambers than their previous record, set twice after special elections in 2011 and 2012.

Republicans also reduced the number of states where Democrats control both the governor’s office and the legislatures from 13 to 7.

While pundits everywhere are talking about what is going to happen in Washington in 2015, we should spend a little time preparing for a new wave of conservative state laws. Republicans plan to launch fresh assault on:

Common Core education standards, the national standards adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia. Opposition on the right has led three states — Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina — to drop out of the program. Some states will attempt to join those three in leaving the program altogether. Others will try to change testing requirements or prevent the sharing of education data with federal officials.
Abortion regulations: Measures to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy will advance in Wisconsin, South Carolina, West Virginia and Missouri.
Corporate and personal income taxes: Arkansas, Arizona, North Carolina, and North Dakota will prioritize cutting personal or corporate income tax rates.
The power of labor unions: Republicans in nine states are planning to use their power to pass “right to work” legislation, which would allow employees to opt out of joining a labor union. 24 states already have such laws on the books, and new measures have been or will be proposed in Wisconsin, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Ohio, Colorado, Kentucky, Montana, Pennsylvania and Missouri.
Environmental Protection Agency: A dozen states have challenged proposed EPA regulations on power plants in federal court.
Challenges to State Pension Programs: Many states will try to deal with underfunded pension plans, which threaten to swamp state budgets over the long term. In Illinois, where the state pension is funded at less than 40%, Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner (R) made pension reform a cornerstone of his 2014 campaign, while fights are brewing in Kentucky and in New Jersey.

All of the above is partly the result of a sustained campaign by Republicans to reduce voting. It is also partly the result of Democrats deciding that Congressional and state political campaigns can be won even without addressing the real issues or the real record of the two parties.

Democrats are facing a long, brutal slog in the states and in the Congress. Mr. Obama gets elected twice, and by a greater margin the second time, yet his party loses control of almost everything else, now politically controlling just 7 states.

What does this say about 2016? Will Hillary have enough coattails to move some legislatures or Senate seats, or will she be the second coming (politically) of Mr. Obama?

Finally, the next time some moron tells you that both parties are the same, remind that person what is about to happen in the states, specifically, the undoing of the social contract that is about to take place. The next time somebody tells you one vote doesn’t count, tell them it doesn’t count unless you cast one.

Maybe Democrats need to get off their duffs and do something about this.

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Monday Wake Up Call –November 10, 2014

OK, we just had our bi-annual vote to rearrange the deck chairs, and boy, people were angry. But what good will come of it is difficult to guess. This we do know: According to a CNN exit poll, 8 in 10 Americans disapprove of how Congress has been handling its job, while almost 6 in 10 are displeased with President Obama; 44% have a positive view of Democrats; 40% have a positive view of Republicans.

So, Americans elected the party they like the least to run the part of the government they trust the least.

There’s a lot of discussion of how and why Democrats did so badly, and much of it focuses on messaging. The litany of excuses is long: Democratic candidates were arrogant. The White House failed to transfer money, or stump effectively. The GOP caught up in the technology race, or the GOP recruited excellent, disciplined candidates.

Democrats ran on everything but policy. Did the Democrats run the government well? Are the lives of voters better? Are Democrats as a political party credible when they say they’ll do something?

Their message was based on a group of poll-tested ideas that they thought would appeal to mainstream voters. But, the message, “vote for us, we’re not right-wing fanatics” didn’t cause the majority of us to turn out for the election. In fact, turn out was the lowest it had been in 40 years.

Liberal ballot propositions won in various parts of the country last Tuesday, from marijuana to the minimum wage. Democrats didn’t. That should tell the Democratic Party something. Liberal policies can resonate with the public. It would be nice if there was a party which could embody and fight for those ideas.

So what would be a winning message? The economy. There’s infrastructure work to be done. The private sector could hire people to do it with government money. There are hungry people who need to be fed, and homeless people to be housed. And, ending our adventures in the Middle East would improve our lives.

Vote for us, we bring peace, prosperity, and weed” — that slogan just might get you somewhere.

Keeping with the spirit of a new politics, here is your wake-up tune of the day. It is “Uprising” by Muse, released in 2009. So get upright and rock out:

Sample lyrics:
Rise up and take the power back
It’s time the fat cats had a heart attack
You know that their time’s coming to an end
We have to unify and watch our flag ascend
(so come on)

They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious

Here is your breakfast buffet of linkage:
Connecticut’s Democratic Governor was reelected, running as a progressive: It was close, but Dan Molloy won bigger this time against the same conservative opponent.

A case for treating health care and hospitals as utilities: Conservatives have won the battle to eliminate much of the government control in quasi-monopolistic markets like telecom and electric power. You be the judge about whether you are better off with de-regulation of those industries. Health care is a de facto monopoly, should it be treated as a utility?

Wikipedia is the sixth most popular website in the world, with 22.5 million contributors and 736 million edits in English. It’s as if the entire population of Australia (23.6 million) each contributed 30 times. 36 people run Wikipedia. Who are they?

Transparent solar panels could make solar power more competitive. CSEM, a Swiss technology company, have developed solar panels that you can see through and have no visible connections, which gives architects a lot of room to incorporate solar power into the walls of buildings without having to give up any aesthetic goals.

How often should you get dental x-rays? Dentists differ.

Many people believe that medical malpractice reform is the key to cutting cost from the health care system. But evidence shows that belief could be mistaken.

The US currently has 30 declared presidential states of emergency. The University of Michigan explains why this is a bad idea. The National Emergencies Act requires the Congress to vote every six months on whether a declared national emergency should continue, Congress has done this only once in the nearly 40-year history of the Act.

Protect us from the media: CNBC’s “Squawk Box” anchor (Joe Kernan) shows complete ignorance of Ireland while talking to Martin Shanahan, head of the Irish Industrial Development Authority. Then he insists he is correct:
CNBC: You have pounds anyway don’t you still?
Shanahan: We have Euros.
CNBC: You have Euros in Ireland?
Shanahan: Yes. We have euros, which is eh…
CNBC: Why do you have euros in Ireland?
Shanahan: A strong recovery….
CNBC: Why do you use euros in Ireland?
Shanahan: Why wouldn’t we have euros in Ireland?
CNBC: Huh. I’d use the pound.
Shanahan: We use euro.
CNBC: What about Scotland? I was using Scottish eh…
Shanahan: They use Sterling.
CNBC: They use Sterling?
Shanahan: They use Sterling. But we use euro.
CNBC: What? Why would you do that?

And some of you use CNBC for investment advice!

Here is your thought for the week. It is from George Orwell:

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to the long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink. In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.

Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemisms, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable…

 

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