Category Archives: politics

Oh Dear! Teresa May is Headed for a Colossal Defeat in the Commons

The Brexit thing is finally coming to a head. the Prime Minister is moving her Brexi deal for approval in the House of Commons. Except that it is likely to go down by 150 to 200 votes.

Quick follow – it turned out to be even larger!

That is a whopper of a defeat for the government.

What will happen next? Hmm …  it appears that May’s attempt to negotiate a deal with the EU for a “sensible” withdrawal from that union is over, though she will not give up yet. May’s tenure as PM may also be over. Corbyn may move for a vote of no confidence in the government, and it may pass. If so, we may have an election soon.

Brexit still could happen, but the odds for having a new referendum are growing. Why? Because it seems impossible that any type of Brexit deal could pass the Commons. Vox makes that case

May’s defeat should dispel any illusion that there is a happy ending to the Brexit story. The truth of the matter is that the project that defined May’s premiership — negotiating a Brexit deal acceptable to both the EU and pro-Brexit legislators in her Conservative Party — was structurally impossible.

Stay tuned!

Remember this Day: Pelosi Takes the Gavel from Ryan

Here is the image

Image result for nancy Pelosi takes gavel from Ryan

What is the big deal? Pelosi and her majority of dems in the House of Representatives will change the way things work in Washington. In terms of legislation, they cannot do anything on their own. But nothing can be done without them.

On their first day, the dems already passed a budget — without wall funding —– that will pressure Mitch McConnell to do the same (since the senate has already passed that budget). So far, McConnell is not budging. But it is worthy of note that some Republicans in the House voted for one or more of the budget bills.

Stay tuned! This will be a wild ride!

Where Did the Idea for a Border Wall Come From?

I have been perplexed by this question for a while. Before Donald Trump started his rant that the US needed a border wall and Mexico would pay for it, I had never heard ANYONE make this argument. And since then, I have not heard any security experts endorse the idea that a wall is needed.

So where did the idea come from? Now I know. And the answer to the question tells you quite a bit about what is wrong with Donald Trump. Here it is

In 2014, Trump’s plan to run for president moved into high gear. His political confidant was consultant Roger Stone. “Inside Trump’s circle, the power of illegal immigration to manipulate popular sentiment was readily apparent, and his advisers brainstormed methods for keeping their attention-addled boss on message,” writes Joshua Green, author of Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Nationalist Uprising. “They needed a trick, a mnemonic device. In the summer of 2014, they found one that clicked.”

This is not just Green spinning out a conspiracy theory.

Joshua Green had good access to Trump insiders, including Sam Nunberg, who worked with Stone. “Roger Stone and I came up with the idea of ‘the Wall,’ and we talked to Steve [Bannon] about it,” according to Nunberg. “It was to make sure he [Trump] talked about immigration.”

In other words, the idea of building a wall was a trick devised by Stone and Numberg to get Trump focused on immigration. As the article points out, neither of these two boobs knows anything about border security. And they offered their advice for purely partisan political reasons.

So here we are in the mist of a government shut down because Trump wants money to build a wall. It has been argued that the quality of political debate in the US is too low. The above story suggests that this is putting it mildly.

Go figure.

What Do the Midterms Tell Us About 2020?

The results of the 2018 midterms are not yet fully tabulated, and already people are speculating what it all means for 2020. Will the so called blue wave sweep dems into the White House and control of the senate? Lawrence O’Donnell thinks so. Or will the Republicans figure out a way to capture the imaginations of centrist voters while keeping an energized hard right core voter group? I am sure that Mitch McConnell hopes so.

The reality is, however, that we do not know. Midterms rarely are predictive of the next election cycle. Much more important are the actual events, and the interpretation of those events that happen after them.  So what story lines are likely to emerge? And what impact could they have?

  • On the Republican side,  more Trump related events are bad news. Not just about Mueller and the investigations from the House about the Trump administration. But also events that bring out Trump’s incompetence and lack of appropriate demeanor. If these events dominate the news in 2020, the dems will benefit and likely win the White House and the Senate while retaining control of the House. Trump has not got off to a good start with his silly antics on his last trip to Europe. Why? Trump’s hard core is loyal but there are not enough of them.
  • Normally, an international crisis works well for the incumbent. George W. Bush got a lot of help on that score from9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. But with Trump in the White House, success in dealing with crisis is not assured.  A disaster story along the lines of Carter’s handling of the Iranian hostage crisis would sink the Republican brand
  • Democrats have to hope for inspirational events beyond anti-Trump rhetoric. This is not likely to come out of Washington, which will be gridlocked. It may come out of states where dems are in control.  Better health care,  upgrading infrastructure, happy events, inspirational leaders.hip. Those sorts of things.
  • Dems would benefit from a recession perhaps triggered by Trump’s trade wars. Even if the trade wars are not the direct cause, voters are likely to see the connection.

The bottom line — the blue wave will likely be sustained, and unless events change perceptions of Trump and the Republicans, the dems should do well in 2020.  And keep in mind that the dems have a much easier path to gaining control of the senate in 2020 than they did in 2018 (lots of incumbent republicans have to defend their seats). But things can happen ..

So stay tuned. The games are just about to begin.

After the midterms

The midterms are behind us, and it appears that the dems will re-take the house. Sane people rejoice!

But I would argue that the news is not all that great. Why? Consider the bone headed and divisive politics that the republican party indulged in over the last period of time. Despite that, you can’t say that the midterm results evidence a repudiation of those tactics.  Not really. Folks turned out for republican candidates. And that is troubling.

You might argue that the repudiation will come in slow motion. That unless the republicans reform, they will be turfed out of the White House and the Senate. I don’t believe that. There are two reasons why

  • voter memory is selective and short.  Back in 2010, you might have thought that voters would remember that republicans presided over the 2008 recession, and that Obama and the dems turned things around. Nope. That was forgotten, and voters reacted instead to BS about “death squads” and Obamacare.  Good governance got a nasty spanking in the 2010 midterms.
  • the fusion between conservatives, hard right, and evangelicals is stronger than you might think. At least for the foreseeable future, these groups see that the only way to keep a hold on power is by sticking together and voting for republicans.

In other words,  after we get done celebrating that the dems now control the House, and we don’t need to watch 200 more votes to repeal Obamacare, we need to think strategically how to broaden and strengthen the democratic party coalition.

Any ideas?

A quick follow – looking at the dem governors’ races flips, a trend is faintly visible. Dems who ran as the “adult in the room” did well. I am thinking, for example of how Kelly beat Kobach in Kansas promising a fresh start from the mess made by former GOP governor Brownbach. Also Whitmer beat Schuette in Michigan on “… fixing the damn roads”. In Maine, voters went for dem Mills over OP candidate Moody after the populist t LePage was termed out.

This may be a strategy to break the republican coalition of crazies joined together at the hip. Put adults back in control!

Meanwhile …

… one of the major lessons for Republicans may be that they need to embrace Trump’s style even more. A blue wave for Democrats never really materialized because Republicans were able to energize their own voters through a campaign full of racial anxiety and culture war items.

Embrace Trump more?  Yuck!

So being the “adult in the room” does not mean being soft and conciliating to the nutcases who play he “Trump is ok”game. I means calling them out for what they are — opportunists, charlatans, and dangerous! We should not be thinking about going back to Obama firs term, Mr. Nice Guy tactics. You don’t negotiate with folks who cannot e trusted. You have to fight them. The only question is how to do it effectively.

Not convinced? Then throw your min back a few months, and ask what was the republican strategy to win the midterms? Don’t remember? It was the tax cut for the rich! And it was stupid – a budget buster that actually hurt aerage folks who could no longer deduct state taxes on the federal returns. This was surely a no adults in the room type of thing. And, it didn’t work. My question — will this unfortunate exercise in folly sink into the primordial goo that is Trump era politics? Or should republicans pay for their cynical stupidity?

Reminder: 22 days to the Midterm Elections

These are the most important US elections in a generation.

Have you registered to vote?

Are you encouraging your friends to vote?

Are you going to vote?

Remember — you only get one shot at this. On November 7, 2018 — the day after the midterms — no matter what happens we ALL will be stuck with the results. There are no exam retakes.

So come on! Just do it!

Soft-Fascism in Hungary

On the surface, Europe is peaceful and stable. European law is supposed to guarantee that this remains so. But in Eastern Europe, there are threats to this status quo. One of those threats comes from Hungary., which has become a one-party state, ruled by a single person, Viktor Orban.

Vox tells the story of how this happened, and it is a story worth reading. Why? Because this is not just a Hungarian problem. There are only two steps needed to transform any democracy into an autocracy

  • subvert the rule of law
  • restrict the free press

In the US, we have a president who regularly shows his disdain for the rule of law and the free press. And his party blocks any and all attempts to reign him in. If we sit back and allow this to continue, we know where it leads us, and it is not pretty.

As we approach the midterm elections, it is worth considering for a moment what we should be fighting for, and against.