Does your vote count?

If you are like me and I suspect most people after the election you feel you’ve had your fill of politics. For me it was rewarding to see the Republican gains in the house and senate but as I said I was tired of the ranting and raving that goes with the party that loses.

Still I couldn’t resist watching the procedures and votes that occurred in the Senate and House on C-Span. One thing that came through clearly was that with the Republicans in the house and senate setting the rules for consideration of bills and amendments and moving swiftly with their agenda. It was amusing to see Nancy Pelosi stammering and stuttering to in essence say; you can’t do that to us [the Democrats.] A diatribe against Republican intentions to deport innocent illegal immigrants or stiffing Homeland Security that will protect us against “terrorist” followed this bluster by Nancy Pelosi.

On the news front the liberal press does not spend much time on the votes that are occurring but rather dwells on the split they believe is happening in the Republican Party. The liberal press sites twenty-five [mostly unnamed] conservatives forming a study group to oppose Republican leadership for being too “liberal” in its treatment of the President and Democrat issues before the congress.

I invite you to listen and watch C-Span and watch the quality of speaking from both houses. Some individuals are outstanding and some are barely able to speak. This observation applies to both parties.

An Army without generals

From the January 10th-16th 2015 of “The Economist”

On page 30 there is an article assessing the premise that “If Barack Obama is not really the leader of the Democrat party, who is?”

While there is some reference to the Republicans the article is primarily about the Democrats and the future.

In the last paragraph of the article there is concluding statement regarding the future of the party. The article notes that other democrats are less sure, seeing a problem that goes beyond personnel issues. “It is a little confusing who is leading the Democratic Party right now,” says a member of Congress who hears nothing “galvanizing” from Mr. Obama, and “no energy, no excitement,” from congressional bosses. Put another way, Democrats feel leaderless because the party lacks big, compelling ideas. Someone may yet fill that void. It needs to happen soon.

I ponder the question; will the mainstream media ever ask such an important question?

It worked before

In December of 2014 following the democrat losses in congress the mainstream media started reporting that the republican party was anticipating as many as 24 candidates to run in the 2016 presidential primary. Pundits and reporters alike paint the picture of “nut cases,” extreme right wing ideologues and religious zealous. For example when Huckabee announced he was leaving his Fox show in case he decided to run for president the pundits expounded on his ties with the religious community, not his time as governor of Arkansas or his substantial political career. By branding him with the association to the religious right they effectively minimized his appeal to the general public. The media has to be more careful with Jeb Bush because he has some key issues he supports, immigration and education that parallel the liberal presses top line topics for the 2016 primaries. Even bashing Bush about the Bush name has some danger for the press since the Clinton name smacks of “old” politics as much as Bush does.

The point is that the press is eager for new “candidates” from the Republican ranks that will support their contention that the republican primary for president will be chaotic. They are hoping for similar results they achieved with the 2012 primaries in that the republican party will come out split by ideology and extremist candidates.

On the democrat side they seat Hillary as the shoo in but they want to make certain that Mrs. Warren’s liberal ideas are not lost in the Clinton campaign. Of course they don’t want a real fight in the democrat primary with Bernie Sanders and Jerry Brown raising money and more importantly stirring the far left of the party to challenge Hillary with real questions about real issues. That is why they are going to great lengths to place the republicans as extremist. One example is Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” this weekend. His second lead story was framed as follows. Chuck ask a republican guest if the “scandal” created by Steve Scalise’s [scheduled to be the republican majority whip in the house effective January 6, 2015.] speech to a well known KKK organization would hurt the party’s efforts in 2015 and 2016.” The speech Steve made was to the National/international EURO workshop on Civil Rights. Chuck Todd showed a picture of Steve next to but separate from a picture of David Duke, the person who apparently started the EURO Workshop group. The speech was made twelve years ago when Steve was a state senator and the stump speech was about tax reform. However the purpose in bringing up the story was to position the republican leadership as right wing and racists. In a story from CNN about Steve they referred several times to the organization Steve addressed as a KKK group led by David Duke, it wasn’t until about four columns in before they actually mentioned the real name of the group. The only problem the media is having with the story is that both democrats and African American politicians have supported Steve saying in essence he did not have a racist bone in his body. However we should expect more of these “exposes” as soon as the media can dig them up to posture republicans as extremist.

Are we surprised, no because as I said at the opening of this piece it worked before in 2012. The difference this time is that the democrats are going to have a real primary and it is more than possible that they will end up in some trouble with left wing candidates demanding that Hillary answer tough questions about her stance on controversial issues that could embarrassing the “shoo in candidate.”

The strategy

After the loss for the democrats in the 2014 congressional elections there was a brief period of reorganization by the party and the mainstream media.

The strategy arrived at by the party and fully endorsed by the media was to declare a “victory” for President Obama based on his freedom to use his power of public persuasion and the stroke of his pen to executive orders to implement what he sees as best for the public.

This strategy allowed mainstream media to trumpet Obama’s recovery and more importantly the pronouncement that his final two years in office will not be spent as a lame duck. It will also give him a chance to orchestrate with the help of the media distortions of the first six years of his presidential performance.

The facts are that his health care program was and still is deeply flawed, his economic recovery has nothing to do with his financial strategy, the energy program to reduce the use of fossil fuels and increase renewable energy ran aground in the wake of fracking, his environmental reforms fell to an agreement with China in which it turns out that he requires China to “consider” reducing green house gasses in 2030, just consider reducing them and of course his foreign policy is a farce. It is pretty clear that Obama will try to shape his image in the foreign policy area and he will need complete cooperation by the media to “write” the history, as he wants it seen. Normally this might be a tough story to sell but because the mainstream media initially endorsed Obama for President they have a stake in his “final” success and they will work hard to sell his story.

The West’s malaise

Comments from John Micklethwait
Presented by David Martin

John Mickethwait is “Editor and Chief” of The Economist my favorite magazine. In the “World in 2015” issue he made some observations I think are quit profound. “Of all the predictions to be made about 2015, none seems safer than the idea that across the great democracies people will feel deeply let down by those who lead them in Britain, Spain and Canada, elections will give voters a chance to unleash some of those frustrations, perhaps to the advantage of maverick politicians.”

“The levels of unpopularity and disengagement in the West have now risen to staggering levels. Since 2004 a clear majority of Americans have told Gallup that they are dissatifisfied with the way they are governed, with the numbers of those fed-up several times climbing about 80% [higher than during Watergate]”

“So the West’s malaise is dangerous. The failure of democracies to get things done will lead to questions about other features of an open society, such as freedom of the press, free markets and relatively open borders. Populist will keep on demanding easy answers to complicated questions. On the right, immigrants will be scapegoats and politicians will play with nationalism. For the left, the redistribution of wealth will be the big theme.”

I hope you find these thoughts as telling and provocative as I do.

What’s wrong with Jerry Brown?

Recently David Lightman wrote a three-column article for the Star Telegram’s Washington bureau on the coming Clinton candidacy for President. In essence he feels Hillary will have to face the same problems Andy Griffith faced in his famous comedy routine “What it was, was football.” The piece was based on his character stumbling on a football game, something he had never seen before. His conclusion was that the purpose of the game was to run from one end of the cow pasture [football field] to the other without stepping in something or getting knocked down! I think David’s objective in writing this column was to say Hillary’s campaign has a tough road to hoe trying to be mainstream conservative and at the same time appeal to the left liberal side of the Democrat party. David references the mistakes Hillary and her staff made in the 2007 campaign plus some questions about her recent book tour. He makes reference to other potential candidates like Senator Bernie Sanders, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb of Virginia and finally of course Senator Elizabeth Warren. Why doesn’t he reference the man who just won re-election as a Democrat in the largest state [by population] California, Jerry Brown? Jerry has appealed to conservatives in his state as well as his liberal base. He has managed tax increases for the state while at the same time supporting social programs long the favorite of Democrat liberals. Some say he is too old [he is 70] but those who know him may consider him too liberal but never too old. Besides Hillary would be 70 when and if she were elected. Come on, at least give Jerry a consideration in the primaries.