Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The differences between Clinton and Sanders

February 5, 2016

LATimesDemocratdebate950x534Source: Los Angeles Times.

Hillary Clinton is the candidate of fear.  Her supporters say their number one goal is to prevent Donald Trump from becoming President.  Bernie Sanders is the candidate of hope.  His supporters say their number one goal is to break Wall Street’s strangle-hold on government and the economy.

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Hillary Clinton has been running for President for at least 10 years.  Bernie Sanders is running to build a resurgent progressive movement that will survive beyond his candidacy, win or lose.

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Hillary Clinton has built up a network of donors, supporters, researchers and potential office-holders.  She is well-prepared to run and to assume the duties of the PresidencyIt probably didn’t occur to Bernie Sanders to run for President until a year or so ago.  If Elizabeth Warren had chosen to run, he probably would have stood aside.  He has had to learn how to campaign as he went, and he would have to learn how to govern if he were elected.

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If nominated, Hillary Clinton can count on the support of the Democratic Party leadership.  She is an insider This is not true of Bernie Sanders.  Just as in 1972 when the Democrats nominated peace advocate George McGovern, top Democrats might well sit out the campaign or secretly support his opponent.

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If I voted strategically …

February 3, 2016

If I voted strategically, instead of for the candidate I want to win, I probably would vote for Hillary Clinton in the New York Democrat primary and for the Republican candidate in the general election.

The reason is that whoever is President from 2017 to 2021 is going to be blamed for the next stock market crash — unless it happens later in the current year — and it almost certainly will be worse than the 2008 crash.

It will be worse than the one before because nothing has been done to address the abuses that caused the previous crash—neither punishing accounting control fraud, nor breaking up the “too big to fail” banks, or curbing reckless speculation, nor creating good jobs, nor reducing income inequality.

The main thing that is propping up the financial markets is the Federal Reserve Board’s lid on bank interest rates, which drives investors into the stock and bond market, and this cannot go on forever.

If the Presidency is held by defenders of the status quo, it will be easier in 2020 for progressives to make the case for changing the status quo.

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Election 2016: Iowa winnows the candidates

February 2, 2016

What the Iowa caucuses determined is that neither Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton nor any other candidate is a sure thing for their party’s Presidential nomination.

Here are preliminary vote and delegate counts.

Republicans

  • Ted Cruz, 28 percent, eight delegates
  • Donald Trump, 24 percent, seven delegates
  • Marco Rubio, 23 percent, seven delegates
  • Ben Carson, 9 percent, three delegates
  • Rand Paul and Jeb Bush, one delegate each

Democrats

  • Hillary Clinton, 50 percent, 22 delegates
  • Bernie Sanders, 50 percent, 21 delegates

Iowans winnowed the field to five candidates — Cruz, Trump and Rubio among the Republicans, Clinton and Sanders among the Democrats.  And they made Marco Rubio rather than Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or John Kasich the candidate of the Republican and conservative establishment.

LINKS

Cruz wins Iowa Republican caucuses; Clinton and Sanders in near-tie by Patrick Martin for the World Socialist Web Site.  [added later]  Hat tip for this to Bill Harvey.  As he said, this is excellent analysis from an off-beat source.

The Field Guide to Ted Cruz by Erica Grieder for Texas Monthly [added later]

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Can Bernie Sanders bring out the Millennials?

January 28, 2016

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Young voters vote for Democrats by large majorities—when they vote.  The question for the Democrats is whether any candidate will generate enough enthusiasm among Millennials to make a difference.

As Chuck Bodd pointed out on Daily Kos, voters under 30 gave Barack Obama his margin of victory in both 2008 and 2012.  My own opinion, like Bodd’s, is that Bernie Sanders is the only Democratic candidate with a chance of doing that.

The difference between Sanders and Obama was that Obama was the candidate supported by idealistic young people, but he also was the candidate of Wall Street and Silicon Valley.  When forced to choose, he went with Wall Street and Silicon Valley.

Maybe there are a couple of millionaires who support Sanders, but he has burned his bridges with Wall Street.  His only sources of support are the middle class, working people and liberal idealists, and he knows it.

LINKS

The Millennial perspective: Why Bernie gets it and why it matters by Chuck Bodd for Daily Kos.

Millennials are the key to Democratic success and overwhelmingly, they want Bernie by Chuck Bodd for Daily Kos.

Bernie Sanders’ Millennial backers help close the gap versus Hillary Clinton by Jeff Zeleny for CNN.

Silicon Valley’s agenda for the Democrats

January 27, 2016

The kinds of Democrats who go to college, get an entrepreneurial career or move to a big city — those who embrace a relatively unpredictable life — want an entirely different role for the federal government: they want the state to invest in modernization, with more high-skilled immigration, expansive free trade agreements, and performance-based charter schools.

Source: The Ferenstein Wire.

Startup founders and college-educated liberals fundamentally reject an atomistic conception of Society: government should be involved in personal decisions, such as finishing school or eating healthy, because they believe that personal decisions ripple out and significantly affect most people in Society.

Source: The Ferenstein Wire

Economically, the technology industry exacerbates inequality between the rich and middle-class, but eradicates poverty by making essential goods freely accessible.  Ultimately, this will trend toward a two-class society of extremely wealthy workaholics who create technologies that allow the rest of society to enjoy leisurely prosperity.  The cost for this prosperity will be inequality of influence

Source: The Ferenstein Wire.

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A San Francisco journalist named Gary Ferenstein says the Democratic Party is no longer the party of factory workers and organized labor.  It is the party of college-educated professionals and high-tech companies, he says, and this is a good thing.

He has published a manifesto on behalf of the Silicon Valley Democrats—which include Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton—and against “protectocrats” such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

While not all Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and professionals think alike, any more than labor union members, white people or any other large category of people do, I think that Ferenstein does speak for many people from that background, and that his ideas are worth discussing.

His basic idea is that the government should give free rein to creative entrepreneurs, while trying to change individual behavior so as to make people more productive.  The high-tech start-up corporation is his model for all the institutions of society.

Unlike the typical neo-liberal, he does not advocate allowing people to fend for themselves.  Government should assure everyone an adequate education, adequate medical care and everything else they need to be economically productive.

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He believes that the key to better education and better public health services is internal competition.  He therefore favors Obamacare over a universal single-payer system, and charter schools over universal public education.

This is a form of radicalism that has appeared time and again in modern history—a radicalism that would revolutionize the way people live, yet leave the structure of political and economic power unchanged.

Ferenstein asserts that change is always good, there are no fundamental conflicts in society and education is the solution to all problems.  Nobody struggling to survive in today’s harsh economy would believe any such thing, but I’m sure that there is a constituency that does.

He deserves credit for making that constituency’s assumptions explicit, and showing how they influence the Democratic Party leadership.

What follows is more of Ferenstein’s Silicon Valley manifesto, my comments and links to the full text of his writings.

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If Bernie Sanders doesn’t have a chance …

January 26, 2016

If Bernie Sanders doesn’t have a chance of winning, why is Wall Street so afraid of him?  As well as the Democratic establishment?  Also, don’t believe everything Hillary Clinton supporters say about Sanders’ health care plan.

The U.S. Congress without gerrymandering

January 19, 2016
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The map above shows U.S. congressional districts as they are today.

The map below shows U.S. congressional districts as they might be using a computer-generated algorithm to make the districts compact.

gerrymandering_compact

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Trump, the Clintons are fellow rich celebrities

January 8, 2016
The Clintons at Donald Trump's wedding (2005)

The Clintons at Donald Trump’s wedding reception (2005)

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump may be political rivals, but they have a long history as social friends.  They’re part of the same circle of rich New York celebrities.

Whatever Trump says now, he used to speak well of both Hillary Clinton and her husband.  As Nick Gass of POLITICO reported:

After declining to enter the presidential race in 2012, Trump told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that Clinton had done a great job as secretary of state.

“Hillary Clinton I think is a terrific woman,” he said. “I am biased because I have known her for years. I live in New York. She lives in New York. I really like her and her husband both a lot.  I think she really works hard.  And I think, again, she’s given an agenda, it is not all of her, but I think she really works hard and I think she does a good job.  I like her.”

Asked whether he would support her in the case of a presidential run, Trump said that he did not “want to get into this because I will get myself into trouble.”

“I just like her,” Trump remarked, adding the same of the former president. “I like her husband.  Her husband made a speech on Monday and was very well received.  He is — he is a really good guy, and she’s a really good person and woman.”

Trump sounded a similar note in an October 2013 interview with Larry King, who asked Trump if he thought the former secretary of state would run for the White House a second time, pointing out that she is a “fellow New Yorker.”

“Yeah, and I know her very well. They’re members of my club, and I like both of them very much, and he was with you one time and he said he likes me,” Trump said, adding, “and I do like him.”

Source: POLITICO

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The four main factions in U.S. politics

January 6, 2016

Going into the 2016 elections, I think the differences between the populist and establishment factions of the two largest U.S. political parties are as big as the differences between the two parties.  Here’s how I see the divisions:

REPUBLICANS

Right-Wing Populists.  These consist largely of socially conservative white working people who think (with some justification) that government has turned their back on their moral values and abandoned them in favor of minority groups.  They’re against government bailouts and subsidies of big corporations, but their animosity is against the government, not the corporations.  They want to preserve Social Security, Medicare and other traditional New Deal programs, but they’re against governmental programs primarily aimed at helping minorities and the undeserving poor.  They are against the Trans Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements that limit American sovereignty.  Donald Trump and Ted Cruz purport to speak for this faction.

Right-Wing Establishmentarians.  These consist of rich and powerful people, and their dupes, who embrace what Les Leopold calls the better business climate model of economic policy.  They want lower taxes on upper bracket payers, fewer governmental programs for the poor and less government regulation.  Ultimately they’d like to cut back on Social Security, Medicare and other New Deal programs.  They favor the Trans Pacific Partnership and other pro-corporate trade agreements.  Jeb Bush speaks for this faction.

DEMOCRATS

Left-Wing Establishmentarians.  These consist of rich and power people, and their dupes, who are a kinder, gentler version of the right-wing establishmentarians.  They want to govern basically in their own interest, but less harshly.   They are open to affirmative action, gay marriage, abortion rights and any other rights (except gun rights) that do not threaten the existing structure of economic and political power.  Hillary Clinton speaks for this faction.

Left-Wing Populists.  These consist of blue-collar workers, and their advocates.  Like the right-wing populists, they feel their government has abandoned them, but their animosity is directed against large corporations and Wall Street banks, whom they think (with some reason) have captured the government.  While they favor equal rights and opportunities for women, gays and racial minorities, they think the main issues are economic.  Bernie Sanders speaks for this faction.

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Trump is only slightly more crazy than the others

December 31, 2015

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I confess that I never thought Donald Trump would get as far as he has.  I thought he would crash and burn, like so many of the Republican candidates in 2012.  I thought Hillary Clinton was the inevitable Democratic candidate, and that Scott Walker might take the Republican nomination away from Jeb Bush.

I did not think that somebody as sleazy as him would be taken seriously by the mass of ordinary Americans.

I kept waiting for Donald Trump to say something so outrageous and stupid that his candidacy would fail.  But here he is, stronger than ever – as Thoreau of Unqualified Offerings says, something like The Mule in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.

I still don’t think Trump will be nominated, and, if he is, I don’t think he will be elected.  I most certainly wouldn’t vote for him.

But I don’t see that he is that much crazier than the mainstream Republican candidates or Hillary Clinton.

Muslim-bashing is bad, immigrant-bashing is bad, and “roughing up” black protesters is truly vicious.  But it is just as badworse to accept perpetual war as normal, economic decline as inevitable, and financial fraud as something you can’t do anything about, which is what almost all the so-called mainstream candidates do.

LINKS

Eight Things About Donald Trump by John Scalzi on his Whatever blog.

How Republicans and Polls Enable Donald Trump by Nate Silver for FiveThirtyEight.

Six Crazy Things Trump Says That Are Spot On by Ted Rall for Japan Times.

Bernie Sanders breaks fundraising record

December 22, 2015

Bernie_Poster_Large_Web_Graphic_72dpiBernie Sanders has broken the fundraising record for most contributions at this point in a presidential campaign, surpassing 2.3 million donations.

According to a Dec. 20 post on Sanders’ campaign website, the previous record-holder was Barack Obama, who had logged 2,209,636 donations by Dec. 31, 2011 during his reelection bid.

Many of these contributions are from small donors: according to the Sanders website, the average donation that came in during the third Democratic debate on Saturday was less than $25.

Sanders raised more than $26 million in the third quarter of 2015, according to the New York Times.

Source: TIME

Donald Trump and the sores of discontent

December 22, 2015

Lambert Strether, a blogger who helps with the naked capitalism web log, says college-educated liberals are making a big mistake to dismiss Donald Trump’s followers as ignorant, racist or fascistic, and nothing more

He wrote that history – the history of Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and the reign of the Ku Klux Klan in the Old South – teaches that people turn to fascist movements when they’ve suffered damage – military defeat, economic devastation and, above all, psychic damage.

Germans and Italians in World War One, and white Southern Americans in the Civil War, suffered  military defeat, economic devastation and, worst of all, humiliation.   What kind of damage have Donald Trump’s followers suffered?

Speculating freely, I’m guessing we’ve got several overlapping subsets in Trump’s following, with damage common to them all.

  • First overlap:  The cohort described by Yves [Smith] in this post: “‘Stunning’ Rise in Death Rate, Pain Levels for Middle-Aged, Less Educated Whites”; “488,500 deaths would have been avoided in the period 1999‒2013,” had the death rate continued to fall at its previous rate of decline.  That’s a lot of organic damage.
  • whats.wrongSecond overlap: The “working class whites” whose jobs and communities were destroyed by the neo-liberal dispensation that began in the mid-70s, given that “less educated” is a proxy for working class.  More damage there.
  • Third overlap: Military personnel who were sent, by elites, to fight and lose the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, many of whom (thanks to the wonders of modern battlefield medicine) came back to their families and communities terribly wounded (not to mention with post-traumatic stress).  More damage.
  • Fourth overlap: The “bitter”/”cling to” voters (explicitly) thrown under the bus by Obama’s faction when it took control of the Democratic Party in 2008 (with results that we saw in the failure to ameliorate the foreclosure crisis, and the administration’s successful shrinkage of the workforce, as shown by the labor force participation rate).  More damage.

So Democratic apparatchiks can recycle 2008’s racism tropes all they want — identity politics is all they know, after all — but at best they’re over-simplifying, and at worst they’re destroying the dream of “uniting lower- and middle-income Americans on economic issues.”

Again, add up the decades of organic damage.  My anger would be bone deep. And justified.  Wouldn’t yours?  Trump, and maybe Sanders, are speaking to that anger.  Today’s Democratic establishment is not.

Source: naked capitalism

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What’s wrong with this picture?

December 17, 2015

pollsandersclinton12346429_10205252351251720_455515267058200796_nHat tip to Avedon’s Sideshow.

TV news coverage ignores Sanders, puffs Trump

December 17, 2015

Public opinion polls show Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders with roughly equivalent public support.  Yet Trump dominates TV news coverage while Sanders is hardly even noticed.

Eric Boehlert of Media Matters quoted these results from a survey called the Tyndall Report.

The network newscasts are wildly overplaying Trump, who regularly attracts between 20-30 percent of primary voter support, while at the same time wildly underplaying Sanders, who regularly attracts between 20-30 percent of primary voter support. [snip]

Obviously, Trump is the GOP frontrunner and it’s reasonable that he would get more attention than Sanders, who’s running second for the Democrats.  But 234 total network minutes for Trump compared to just 10 network minutes for Sanders, as the Tyndall Report found?

Andrew Tyndall provided the breakdown by network of Sanders’ 10 minutes of coverage, via email … :

  • CBS Evening News: 6.4 minutes
  • NBC Nightly News: 2.9 minutes
  • ABC World News: 0.3 minutes

But how can that be?  ABC News, for instance, clearly devoted more than 20 seconds to covering the Democratic debates, which featured news of Sanders, right?

As Tyndall explained to me, the number “counts stories filed about the Sanders campaign or from the Sanders campaign.  Obviously he is mentioned in passing in other coverage of the Democratic field overall, specifically his performance in the debates.”

So in terms of stand-alone campaign stories this year, it’s been 234 minutes for Trump, compared to 10 minutes for Sanders.  And at ABC World News Tonight, it’s been 81 minutes for Trump and less than one minute for Sanders.

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Good sense (relatively) from Cruz and Trump

December 16, 2015

I wouldn’t vote for Ted Cruz or Donald Trump, but they advocate a less dangerous foreign policy than Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush or even Hillary Clinton.

TedNRCover-775x1024They both recognize that U.S. military interventions in the Middle East have been disasters and that further military intervention is unlikely to produce any better result.   They both think that the best way to fight ISIS is to get out of the way of the enemies of ISIS – Russia, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

[Update 12/17/2015.  On the other hand, Ted Cruz thinks carpet bombing is the route to victory over ISIS, which cancels out any seemingly sensible thing  he might have said.  See the new Juan Cole link below. ]

That makes them significantly different from Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, who want to send ground troops to the Middle East.

The problem with Cruz and Trump is that, while reluctant to increase the number of America’s foreign enemies, they are eager to wage political war against domestic enemies.

trumpweb21n-1-webFor Cruz, these are atheists, secularists, abortionists and gays.  For Trump, these are Mexicans, Muslims and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

This is in contrast to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who seek harmony at home while treating the lives of foreigners in majority-Muslim countries as expendable.

I don’t see why Trump, who wants to bar Muslims from the United States, is morally worse than Rubio, Bush or Clinton, who support aggressive wars resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslim bystanders.

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Hillary Clinton is the millionaires’ favorite

December 15, 2015

Hillary Clinton is by far (34%) the favorite Presidential candidate of millionaires polled by CNBC, followed by Marco Rubio (13%)

CNBC poll on millionaires' choice for president

CNBC Poll of millionaires.

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Hillary and Jeb are the bankers’ favorites

November 18, 2015

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Source: Who Are Bankers Backing for President? by Victoria Finkle for The American Banker.

The trouble with Ben Carson

November 11, 2015

bencarson20151113cover1800-x-2400By all accounts, Dr. Ben Carson is a fine human being and a dedicated and gifted pediatric neurosurgeon.

I think he richly deserves all the honors he has received for his philanthropy and civic work.

But he is no more fit to hold public office than I am to practice medicine.

His fault is not in his lack of knowledge, which could be remedied over time, but in his lack of knowledge of his lack of knowledge.

LINKS

The World Through Ben Carson’s Surgical Magnifying Glass by Emily Cadei for Newsweek.

The 2016 Stump Speeches: Ben Carson by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.

I’d rather have Trump by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.

The USA needs real presidential debates

November 10, 2015

The so-called Presidential debates are not debates.  They are televised group press conferences.

The so-called US Presidential debates are not debates.  Going back to the Kennedy-Nixon debates in 1960, they are televised group press conferences.  The American voting public would be better served by actual debates.

An actual debate would be over just one question, selected in advance.  Candidates would be given time to speak their minds, and then to rebut what the other candidates said.

The role of the moderator would be to enforce debate rules.  Any questions would be asked by the candidates of each other.

The press conference format measures the ability of the candidates to think on their feet and to memorize and remember information.  A debate format would measure the depth and breadth of their thinking, and give an idea of what they would do if elected.

Such a format might not be commercial enough for the major networks, but I am sure PBS and C-SPAN would be willing to host a real debate.

Second thoughts on Hillary Clinton and guns

November 2, 2015

I have to backtrack a little bit on a previous post, in which I cited the following question.  What I wrote was not exactly wrong, but not the whole story.

Why does Clinton keep getting away with saying that gun manufacturers are the only industry that is immune from being held accountable for criminal acts by purchasers of their products?  Almost NO manufacturers are, by law, accountable for criminal acts by purchasers of their products.  Someone should ask her to name one that is.

True, no manufacturer is held responsible for the criminal use of their legal products, unless it can be shown that they knowingly or negligently sold the products to criminals.  What makes gun manufacturers different is that in their case, this is spelled out in positive law, a law that Bernie Sanders supported.

hillaryclintongunsCQXNDpCWIAAn0NJHillary Clinton was giving a dog whistle to members of the anti-gun movement, who would have understood she was referring to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

Based on the exceptions written into the PLCAA, I don’t think it bars reasonable lawsuits against gun manufacturers or dealers.  The significance of the issue in the context of the Democratic Presidential debate is that it shows Bernie Sanders has more sympathy for gun owners and gun manufacturers than Hillary Clinton does.

LINKS

Summary of Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.  (Hat tip to Gary Young)

How to Bring a Successful Case Against Gun Manufacturers and Sellers by Daniel R. Vice, senior attorney for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Hillary Clinton’s push on gun control marks a shift in presidential politics by Philip Rucker for the Washington Post.

Bernie Sanders Walks a Fine Line on Gun Control by Jessica Taylor for National Public Radio.

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Five candidates’ economic policies reviewed

October 28, 2015

The Street, an on-line business news site, has published a series of reports on the economic policies of some of the candidates and their possible impact on stock prices and business profits.

I’m more interested in the possible impact on wages, jobs and overall prosperity, but these articles contain good information and fair comment.   The various writers aren’t all that impressed with any of the candidates.

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If Jeb Bush Becomes President, Here’s What Would Happen to the U.S. Economy by Tobias Burns for The Street.

If Ted Cruz Were President, Here’s What Would Happen to the U.S. Economy by Ross Kenneth Urken for The Street.

If Ex-HP Chief Carly Fiorina Was President, Here’s What Would Happen to the U.S. Economy by Carleton English for The Street.

If Socialist Candidate Bernie Sanders Was President, Here’s What Would Happen to the U.S. Economy by Emily Stewart for The Street.

If Donald Trump Was President, Here’s What Would Happen to the U.S. Economy by Emily Stewart for The Street.

The latent strength of the Republican Party

October 27, 2015

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Democrats like to think that the political tide is running their way.  African-Americans and Hispanics are a growing proportion of the population.  Young people are more liberal than older people.  Public opinion is slowing shifting toward a liberal position on gay marriage and abortion rights.

But this may not translate into political power, at least not anytime soon.  The map above shows which political parties control state legislatures, before and after the 2014 elections.  The map below also shows how Republicans won most 2014 elections for governor, senator and representative.

I would have thought that the manifest failure of Sam Brownback in Kansas, Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal in Louisiana would have caused voters to turn against the Republican Party, but this didn’t happen.

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The reason is, as Matthew Yglesias pointed out in a recent article, is that the Republicans are more united as a political party, and more pro-active, than the Democrats.

Republicans have unified control of 25 states. Along with the usual set of tax cuts for high-income individuals and business-friendly regulations, the result has been:

  • An unprecedented wave of restrictions on abortion rights
  • The spread of union-hostile “right to work” laws into the Great Lakes states
  • New curbs on voting rights, to further tilt the electorate in a richer, whiter, older direction
  • Large-scale layoffs of teachers and other public sector workers who are likely to support Democrats

Source: Vox

He said the Republicans are likely to control the House of Representatives for the indefinite future.  The distribution of voters, with Democrats more concentrated in cities, favors the Republicans to begin with.  Control of state legislatures enables the Republicans to gerrymander districts so as to give them an even greater advantage.

There are two sources of political power in the United States, money power and people power.  The Republicans have both.  No matter how much certain Democrats cater to big business, the Republicans will always be able to out-do them.  But the National Rifle Association, the right-to-life movement and other conservative causes give the Republicans grass-roots support as well.

As Yglesias pointed out, there is no state, not even Vermont, in which corporate business is not influential.  And, I would add, no politician, not even Bernie Sanders, who could or wants to eliminate business as a factor in American politics.

Organized labor, on the other hand, is strong only in certain states, and the Republican Party has a feasible strategy for eliminating labor.

Yglesias went on to say:

Winning a presidential election would give Republicans the overwhelming preponderance of political power in the United States — a level of dominance not achieved since the Democrats during the Great Depression, but with a much more ideologically coherent coalition.

Nothing lasts forever in American politics, but a hyper-empowered conservative movement would have a significant ability to entrench its position by passing a national right-to-work law and further altering campaign finance rules beyond the Citizens United status quo.

Source: Vox

The Republicans, and the conservative movement within the Republican Party, got to where they are through decades of effort.  It’s unlikely that it will be reversed overnight.  It will take a concerted effort such as Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy on a permanent basis.

Democrats base their hopes on Republican failure.  But that will only give them temporary victories.  The political party that achieves a lasting majority will be the party that advocates policies that will achieve peace and prosperity, convinces the public the policies will work, and makes a good-faith effort to implement the policies.

LINK

Democrats are in denial.  Their party is actually in deep trouble by Matthew Yglesias for Vox.

Weekend reading: Links & comments 10/23/2015

October 23, 2015

Iceland Just Jailed Dozens of Corrupt Bankers for 74 Years, The Opposite of What America Does by Jay Syrmopoulos of the Free Thought Project (via AlterNet)

Iceland sentences 26 bankers to a combined 74 years in prison by gjohnsit for Daily Kos (Hat tip to my expatriate friend Jack)

Icelandic courts have sentenced 26 bankers to prison terms for two to five years each—a total of 74 years—for financial fraud and manipulation leading up to the financial crash of 2008.

The important precedent here, and the great contrast with the United States, is that Iceland prosecuted individuals, not banks.  An organization structure cannot commit crimes, any more than a bank building can commit crimes.   It is the individuals within the structure who have criminal responsibility.

JADE: A Global Witness Investigation Into Myanmar’s Big “State Secret” (hat tip to Jack)

High-quality jade is the most valuable product of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.  But the government and people of the country get little benefit from it.  Instead the trade is controlled by military elites, corporate cronies and U.S.-sanctioned drug lords.

Nawal El Saadawi: ‘Do you feel you are liberated?  I feel I am not’ by Rachel Cooke for The Guardian (Hat tip to Jack)

An interview with the formidable 83-year-old Egyptian author, freethinker, feminist, medical doctor and campaigner against female genital mutilation.

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In search of a peace candidate

October 20, 2015

I wish there was a peace candidate in the Presidential race.  Though I like Bernie Sanders, he doesn’t qualify.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

He is less militaristic than Hillary Clinton and she is less militaristic than Ted Cruz and most of the other Republicans, but they all accept as a given fact that the United States must be ready to intervene militarily anywhere in the world at the sole discretion of the President.

I voted for President Obama in the hope that he would disengage from the disastrous U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not start any new wars.  Instead he invented new means of intervention that don’t involve large numbers of American troops.  Sanders would not break from Obama’s policy.

Most of the Republican candidates criticize Obama for not being war-like enough.  Jeb Bush endorses the disastrous policies of his brother, George W. Bush.

Compared to the rest of the GOP field, Donald Trump sounds relatively sensible.  As Patrick Cockburn wrote in Britain’s The Independent:

Asked by an NBC news presenter if Iraq and Libya had been better off when Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were in power, a question most politicians would have dodged, Trump said: “Iraq is a disaster … Libya is not even a country. You can make the case, if you look at Libya, look at what we did there – it’s a mess.  If you look at Saddam Hussein with Iraq, look what we did there – it’s a mess.”

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

This should not be controversial stuff.  Many Iraqis and Libyans are glad to have got rid of the old dictators, but they have no doubt about the calamities that have befallen their countries since the change of regime.  [snip]

Speaking about the White House’s policy of supporting the Syrian armed opposition, Trump truthfully said the administration “doesn’t know who they are.  They could be Isis.  Assad is bad.  Maybe these other people are worse.”

He said he was bothered by “the concept of backing people they have absolutely no idea who they are”.  Again, US officials admit that they have armed opposition fighters who, on entering Syria promptly handed their weapons over to Jabhat al-Nusra, the local representatives of al-Qaeda.

Trump added: “I was talking to a general two days ago.  He said: ‘We have no idea who these people are.’”

Then again, he has boasted of being “the most militaristic person in the room.”  He has advocated sending American ground troops to seize ISIS-controlled oil fields or destroying those oil fields through bombing.

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Election 2016: small money vs. big money

October 19, 2015

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BernieSandersScreen+Shot+2015-10-18+at+6.50.17+AMBloomberg Business had an interesting set of charts, showing how much money the different candidates received in small donations (under $200) versus large donations.

Bloomberg’s bar for small donations was lower than for some of the other charts I’ve published on this web log.  Some of what the writers consider “large” donations aren’t all that large.  Nevertheless, Boomberg’s figures give a general figure of which candidates raise significant amounts from the general public and which depend on the wealthy.

The only Democratic candidate supported mainly by small donations is Bernie Sanders.  Among Republicans, Ben Carson, Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee all received more in small donations than large.

GOPcandidatesScreen+Shot+2015-10-18+at+6.57.29+AMThe figures are as follows:

Bernie Sanders

Large donations: $6.02 million.

Small donations: $20.19 million.

Ben Carson

Large donations: $8.29 million.

Small donations: $12.43 million.

Donald Trump

Large donations: $1.04 million

Small donations: $2.78 million

Mike Huckabee

Large donations: $500,000

Small donations: $730,000

These figures don’t include contributions from Political Action Committees, or the amounts that the candidates spend out of their own money.  Those are particularly important in the case of Donald Trump.

(more…)


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