Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Secret of American Politics: Rally the largest possible number of voters to oppose the smallest and vaguest of enemies.


From Walter McDougall's "Throes of Democracy,"

Americans, Tocqueville remarked, are naturally suspicious of others’ success. To attribute their rise to superior virtue demeans the self. Hence those left behind in a freewheeling, free-market democracy tend to assume the rich and mighty became rich and mighty through subterfuge, corruption, or favoritism. And if this were so, then the fact that such men had the power to constrain liberty and limit opportunity for the common man was simply unbearable. The real or imagined contrast between the myth of equality and the very unequal outcome of free competition in an era of blistering change was a torment to many Americans.
McDougal was writing about Jacksonian America but much of the issues faced almost 200 years ago are the same we argue about today.

By instinct or accident Jackson discovered the secret of American politics, which is to rally the largest possible number of voters to oppose the smallest and vaguest of enemies. Leaders of the Democratic party caught the drift and rode it for thirty years, using rhetoric that damned corruption, corrupt bargains, conspiracies, “monster” banks, “satanic” mills, monopolies, aristocrats, usurpers, speculators, stockjobbers, abolitionists, and meddling self-righteous reformers who meant to “enslave,” “shackle,” “enchain,” or “fetter” the naturally free and equal American workers and farmers.
Can you hear Sanders and Trump in there? Sanders warns us of Citizen's United, Wall Street, the Koch Brothers and millionaires and billionaires. Trump sees Muslims, China, Japan, Mexico as threats. Both are deathly opposed to free trade. All of these are looking to enslave us.

Democrats invited any voter with a grievance to assume he had been cheated, thwarted, exploited by powerful men who rigged the game in their favor. They apotheosized all that was natural, simple, and intuitive, implying that complex institutions of all sorts were artificial, oppressive, and undemocratic. Jacksonians wanted to rise in the hectic, industrializing market economy, yet at the same time flee from the impersonal human relationships it required. Their world was a volatile mix of aspiration and fear.
The more things change.....State's rights, internal improvements (infrastructure), federal power, racism, immigration, monetary policy, free trade, tariffs, isolationism, imperialism are just as relevant today as they were in FDR's, Wilson's, Lincoln's, Jackson's and Washington's times.

I liked Lindsey Graham much better after listening to his interview on David Axelrod's podcast, The Axe Files. But at the end he and Axelrod lamented the changes in the Republican Party. The typical stuff: Reagan couldn't get nominated today. Not your father's Republican Party. The normal blather.

What they are missing, I think, is parties have always changed, and should change. Do we really want a party to not respond to changing times and preferences? When I hear the Republican and Democratic parties have changed, I think to myself, "I sure hope so."

I think of the parties testing, then embracing which side of state's rights, internal improvements (infrastructure), federal power, racism, immigration, monetary policy, free trade, tariffs, isolationism, imperialism they will be on so we have Democrats and Republicans on both sides of these issues over the course of history. It's not your father's Republican/Democratic party.

25 years ago the Democrats didn't just embrace NAFTA, they fought for it. They fought for deregulation and welfare reform and declared the era of big government is over. I doubt Bill Clinton could be nominated in today's Democratic party.

When the Republicans were mostly free trade I was mostly Republican. At some  point, and I don't exactly know when, immigration became the hill the Republicans decided to die on. And now it seems the Know Nothing wing of the Republican party has become ascendant with Trump, overwhelming the free-traders, evangelicals, limited government, interventionist wings.

Like I said, parties change, and they should. But that doesn't mean I personally have to like the changes, or accept them. Both parties seem to be rushing to embrace the worst policies they can as long as they rally the largest possible number of voters to oppose the smallest and vaguest of enemies. And I'm not going to support a party that wants to embrace an anti-immigrant, nationalist, protectionist, thinly-veiled racist platform.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sanders and Clinton Plan to Tax the Middle Class


Clinton and Sanders answered a question about hydraulic fracturing at the debate in Flint last week.

Clinton gave a long answer when asked if she supports fracking:

"I don't support it when any locality or any state is against it, number one. I don't support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present. I don't support it, number three, unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using.

"Right now, there are places where fracking is going on that are not sufficiently regulated. So first, we've got to regulate everything that is currently underway, and we have to have a system in place that prevents further fracking unless conditions like the ones that I just mentioned are met. By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place," she said.

Sanders had a quick, sharp response:

"My answer is a lot shorter. No, I do not support fracking," he said.

Sanders said he talks to scientists who tell him that "fracking is doing terrible things to water systems all over this country."
Sanders is the Democrat's Trump, just making shit up. One can't find terrible things in water systems in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, North Dakota, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Ohio due to fracturing.

The Energy Information Administration has an interesting article on fracturing today.

Even though hydraulic fracturing has been in use for more than six decades, it has only recently been used to produce a significant portion of crude oil in the United States. This technique, often used in combination with horizontal drilling, has allowed the United States to increase its oil production faster than at any time in its history. Based on the most recent available data from states, EIA estimates that oil production from hydraulically fractured wells now makes up about half of total U.S. crude oil production.

 The US consumes about 19 million barrels per day. Clinton and Sanders want to eliminate 5 million produced in the US. Oil prices would go up. Gas prices would go up. Our dependence on foreign oil would go up (which some people, not me, care about).

That's a tax on the middle class, but one that results in  decreased government revenue. Unfortunately, this isn't the worse idea they have suggested.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Give me power so I can go after them


Around 11:45 of this press conference Rubio talks of the message voters are hearing from Trump:

You are working as hard as you can and you can’t make ends meet and along comes a presidential candidate and says to you:, “You know why your life is hard? Because, fill in the blank, somebody, someone, some country, they’re the reasons for it. Give me power so I can go after them.”
 He's right, and he's right to be frustrated by the appeal of Trump. What worries me even more is that it is the exact same message from the Democrats, except they use different boogeymen. For Trump its China, Mexico, Japan and Muslims. For Clinton and Sanders, it's Wall Street, the Koch Brothers, Citizen's United and free trade.

All three are so fundamentally wrong. Sanders is Trump without the violence and racism. Clinton is Sanders without the morality.

We are doomed.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Good News for Patriot Fans


A 7th-grader named Goodell used a science project to solve Deflategate

The NFL spent millions trying to nab Tom Brady and the Patriots in the Deflategate saga. They should've just called Goodell.

Ben Goodell, that is.

The 7th-grader from Lynn, Boston (not related to the NFL Commissioner) decided the punishment given Brady (four games, still racking up dollars in the court system) wasn't fair, so he created a science project to figure out if weather affected the PSI of footballs.

“I put it in humidity, cold, snow, wind chill and the same temperature that occurred during Deflategate,” Goodell told WBZ-TV.

HOW NOVEL! The results from Ben's science project? Well it's kind of awkward for the NFL.

“Every single time I did this test the PSI dropped at least 2 PSI," Goodell said. "That means it was scientifically proven that Tom Brady didn't deflate the footballs, and it was just the weather conditions."

Deflategate always struck me as an Alice in Wonderland kind of process, "Sentence first — verdict afterwards."  Or as my daughter once said to me, "Ready, Fire, Aim." Still one of my favorite maxims.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Bloomberg Won't Run


Bloomberg has decided to not run for President and the nation mourns the lost opportunity to choose from 3 New York Liberals and a socialist.


Monday, March 7, 2016

More on the Monumental Economic Ignorance of Hilary Sanders Trump


The always interesting Mark Perry compares US GDP per capita by state vs. European countries and Japan, Korea, Mexico and China.

As the chart demonstrates, most European countries (including Germany, Sweden, Ireland and Denmark) if they joined the US, would rank among the poorest one-third of US states on a per-capita GDP basis, and the UK, France, Japan and New Zealand would all rank among America’s very poorest states, below No. 47 West Virginia, and not too far above No. 50 Mississippi. Countries like Italy, S. Korea, Spain, Portugal and Greece would each rank below Mississippi as the poorest states in the country.


When The Donald tells us that Mexico is “beating us economically” and “laughing at us,” maybe we should remind him that Mexico and China, as US states, would both be far below our poorest state — Mississippi — by 51% and 62% respectively for GDP per capita; and Japan would be barely above our poorest state — Mississippi. Using GDP per capita as a measure of both economic output per person and of a country’s standard of living, America is winning quite handsomely. And one of the factors that contributes significantly to our standard of living, which is among the highest in the world and the highest in history, is the availability of cheap imported goods from countries like Mexico, Japan and China.

Last night Hilary and Bernie made loud arguments to lower our standard of living by rejecting free trade, calling for mandated wages, greater government control of the economy and my favorite, banning hydraulic fracturing (because energy prices should be higher?!?).

The most ironic aspect of their policies is is hurts the poor the most, the very group they claim to be trying to help. 


Sunday, March 6, 2016

HIllary Sanders Trump


I'm listening to Clinton and Sanders urinate all over free-trade and thinking there's very little daylight between them and Trump. So sad. Such monumental ignorance.


A Ray of Hope? Or Confirming my Anchor?


 Ted Cruz won 64 delegates yesterday in Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Maine. Trump won 49 delegates, Rubio 13 and Kasich 8.

In the states with open primaries/caucuses, (open to voters, despite party affiliation), 11 so far, Trump has won 275 delegates, Cruz 186. It confirms a piece in the NY Times that asserts a big part of Trump's appeal is to registered Democrats:

He is strongest among Republicans who are less affluent, less educated and less likely to turn out to vote. His very best voters are self-identified Republicans who nonetheless are registered as Democrats. It’s a coalition that’s concentrated in the South, Appalachia and the industrial North, according to data provided to The Upshot by Civis Analytics, a Democratic data firm.
 In the states with closed primaries/caucuses, 10 so far, Trump has won 93 delegates, Cruz 104.

For the remaining primaries/caucuses there are 953 delegates from closed states and 570 from open states, and only 328 if states with semi-open, open to registered Republicans or Independents, but not Democrats, are counted.

We are also getting into winner-take-all elections, which can have big impacts on the delegate count.

Clearly I was wrong about Trump's appeal. I still don't get it. He is such an obvious fraud. But I'm not willing to give up on beating him. I think Cruz can beat him. More closed primaries/caucuses helps Cruz and only 1/3 of the remaining delegates come from the South and Great Lakes states; that could help him also.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Most Corrupt President in American History


Yahoo News quotes Newt Gingrich from a Fox News appearance,

“You are either going to elect Hillary Clinton who will, I think, be the most corrupt president in American history, or you’re going to help elect Donald Trump,”

I think a more complete expression would be:

 “You are either going to elect Hillary Clinton who will, I think, be the most corrupt president in American history, or you’re going to help elect Donald Trump who will, I think, be the most corrupt president in American history." 

Decisions, decisions.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Choice Between 2 Fundamentally Dishonest New York Liberals


Ben Sasse, Senator from Nebraska has it right: a choice between Clinton and Trump is a choice between 2 fundamentally dishonest New York liberals. And like Sasse, I'll vote for neither.

I'm deeply disturbed by all things Trump, but maybe mostly by his embrace of the KKK and white supremacists.

And then there's this:

Black students ejected from Trump rally in Ga.

In my mind, he's embracing racism full on.

Parties change. The Democrats for 150+  years embraced institutional racism. The also embraced free trade and state's rights. For 100 years the Republicans embraced protectionism, and a stronger federal government.  Trump and the Republicans may want to adopt institutional racism as a party platform, but they will lose some, many, I hope.

I hope many will choose, like Ben Sasse, to publicly reject Trump. I will never, ever, support anyone who supports Trump.

Scary times.