16 Post(s) tagged with 'politics' - rss feed
I read this tweet earlier today. Early voting has not only been dominated by Democrats, as it typically is, but is quite measurably moreso than in previous midterms.
The numbers we're seeing are not a result report. They're simply the party affiliation of the people who've cast their ballots so far. But they are very encouraging. With 15-16% greater quantity of ballots cast by this time in 2020, we're also seeing a trend even more into the favor of Democratic candidates and issues. That's encouraging, but I think another statistic is hiding in plain sight.
The House of Representatives, according to the Cook Political Report's "Partisan Voting Index," or PVI
, states that after the decennial census-based redrawing of Congressional districts in 2022, the GOP enjoys a one-point advantage nationwide, producing a forecast Republican takeover of the House by 11 seats in the upcoming election. By this time in early voting in 2020, the Republicans were down by 15 points. Obviously they made that difference up with in-person, absentee, provisional, and mail-in voting that was counted on and after election day. When the dust settled, the GOP's win/loss map pushed their share of House seats to within about ten seats of the Democrats, who managed to hang onto a slim majority, indicating that the GOP was underwater by about one point, an improvement over their standing in 2018.
With 15-16% more votes registered, the deficit the GOP faces in 2022 is 18 points. So not only do the Republicans have a greater deficit to overcome than they did in 2020, but they have fewer uncounted voters left to do it with. It occurs to me though that the tweet is talking about two previous elections: 2018 and 2020. The 2018 election ended with a Democratic lead in the House by 3-4 points, and that lead was reduced to about 1 point in 2020. Whether the GOP deficit at this stage of early voting was 15 points in 2018 or 2020, the fact that the GOP's lag is now 18 points(ie: 3 points worse than either of two losing years) does not bode well for their supposed "lock" on retaking the House.
This also does not take into account the votes of unaffiliated voters. 11% of votes cast by this time in 2020 were unaffiliated, compared to 10% as of now, in this election. The direction they will lean is a subject of great disagreement, but I personally think most unaffiliated voters are turning out to vote for the rights the GOP plans to take away if they take power again. This information is all very early, but the signs are nonetheless consistent with my blue-wave-adjacent predictions.
Too Petulant to Lose
The American far-right is objectively dangerous, and is now more powerful than it has been at any point in my lifetime-- and probably the lifetime of any living person. I have heard many times, as a counterpoint to the sentiment I just expressed, the argument that there is a "far-left" that poses an equivalent danger to democracy, economy, and freedom. Thing is, that just isn't the case. I will happily admit that there is a far-left fringe of American politics, but a glaring difference between it and the far-right is that it is not represented in mainstream media, popular policy, or any elected federal office. It's true that Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Pramila Jayapal sit resolutely to the left-of-center, but the policies they work to promote are supported by a majority of Americans, and more than a supermajority of their own constituents. That isn't extremism. That's majority rule. That's representative Democracy. That's a reflection of the fact that ours is a center-left country.
In 2020, Steve Bannon said that Trump would take advantage of the fact that mail-in, absentee, provisional ballots, and just slow-to-count districts produce a delay in knowing the election's outcome with certainty, and declare victory well before the votes had all been sufficiently counted. From signs I'm seeing this time around, this is going to be an increasingly important part of far-right strategy. This is a hard and resolute strategy now for the GOP: Leverage the natural mistrust MAGA voters have of poll workers who don't fit the mold of straight, white, and Christian. MAGA-adherent candidates, elected officials, and pundits are already calling into question the validity of votes in major cities, where votes are overwhelmingly to the left-of-center, before any are even counted or in many cases, cast.
On election night, I fully expect to see victory declarations by Doug Mastriano and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Brian Kemp and Herschel Walker in Georgia, Blake Masters and Kari Lake in Arizona(especially Kari Lake), Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, and Adam Laxalt in Nevada. There will be abundant press coverage, but no major networks will call the elections, except perhaps Fox News, as they will be terrified of losing extremist viewers to OAN and Newsmax's coverage, where they will absolutely be falling in line with GOP candidates' premature declarations of victory.
It's extremely likely that we will not have a good picture of the election's overall outcome when we go to bed on Tuesday night. Just like in 2020, counting will likely continue across the country for several days, as red mirages fade to blue in a way that seems to be just about the most effective way to outrage Republicans in existence. But I do guarantee one thing: if any of the candidates(and many others) lose, they will gather their supporters to claim it was rigged. Jonathan Last said on a recent podcast that Republicans are scared of fraud and election rigging, so certain are they of their majority that the only possible explanation for a loss is foul play. The Democrats are scared of losing to the Republicans.
The Case for Pieces of Shit
J.D. Vance famously said he doesn't care about Ukraine, because "Mexican Fentanyl" is entering the country and killing Americans. Let's leave aside that he's probably courting or placating the GOP faction that's loyal to Putin, or perhaps Putin himself. Let's also leave aside the disgusting inhumanity of dismissing the genocidal suffering of literal millions of people as being subordinate to Vance's own political concerns.
Let's talk about Fentanyl. It's a opioid painkiller that is extremely potent. A slight miscalculation in measuring doses can be fatal to the patient. This is how we lost Michael Jackson, Tom Petty, and Prince. Fentanyl overdoses account for a large number of other high-profile untimely celebrity deaths. One complicating factor is that the body's natural processes make the drug less effective on each use, meaning that people often step up the dosage when they're in pain, to their intense peril. In addition, it's exceptionally addictive, and withdrawal symptoms are universally miserable and agonizing.
A clip has recently surfaced:
The man with the mic makes a really good point when he says that drug dealers want to sell their drugs, and not give them away to children for free. The woman he's interviewing defends her position, saying, "just watch an episode of Fox News!" On the surface, it sounds ignorant, as Fox News isn't a show. But it occurs to me that the sentiment that illegal immigrants from Mexico are actively trying to destroy the US through the use of narcotics disguised as candy, delivered to unwitting children on Halloween, is pretty well in-line with the overall tone of just about any persuasion show on that network.
If you can convince your viewers of this, then you can pretty reliably count on them to vote for pieces of shit like J.D. Vance, despite the fact that he is a miserable, bootlicking, worthless piece of shit.
Fentanyl is expensive. If you're out from under the blanket of insurance and prescription, it can be purchased through illicit channels, the internet reports, for a minimum of about $60 for a gram, but more likely well over $100 and well into the hundreds. In short, it is to the 2010s and 2020s as cocaine was to the US in the 1980s. Expensive, potent, dangerous, and widely trafficked for enormous profit. But there is no profit in handing thousands of dollars worth of this to children. Illicit Fentanyl, sold on the black market from Mexican and Chinese sources, is responsible for, or at least involved in, roughly 70% of all overdoses in the US. But roughly 99.99% of those overdoses happened because people consciously decided to use Fentanyl.
Nevertheless, there is a large population in this country, apparently residing almost entirely within the MAGA movement, in which the common belief is that Joe Biden wants to destroy the country by keeping the Mexican border "wide open"(note: it's not), so "illegals" can bring Fentanyl into the US to trick people into taking too much of it and dying. Jerry Bruckheimer couldn't concoct a more embarrassingly bad plot.
Guide to the Great Election Spreadsheet
For the last few months, I've been working on a spreadsheet
-- first in LibreOffice, then on google docs --that shows what I consider to be the top elections happening next week in the US. It includes(or at least intends to include) details about all the elections for the US House of Representatives, the US Senate, and all state Governors.
The sheet currently has four sub-sheets: House Swing View, Senate, Governor, and Polls Close. I'll explain these below.
House Swing View:
First some background. Skip to the TLDR paragraph if you don't feel like reading all this. The Partisan Voting Index
, compiled in July by the Cook Political Report, is widely regarded as a reliable source for the political leaning of any given Congressional district. My district for example, Colorado's 1st, has a rating of D+29, meaning that it is believed that an election in my district would most likely end with the Democratic candidate winning by 29 percentage points over the Republican candidate. Most districts are not nearly that one-sided though. As this sheet details, over 100 are +/- 10 points. After every national census, every Congressional district is evaluated, and often redrawn, based(ideally) on population change since the previous redrawing. This process was completed in 2022, following the 2020 census. When it was completed, or at least when it looked much like it does today, the Cook Political Report predicted the Republican Party would retake the House of Representatives simply by virtue of the redrawing that had taken place. The PVI was released in July, substantiating the claim that 220 districts lean toward the GOP, while only 208 lean toward the Democratic party, with the remaining 7 districts in a statistical tie.
However, something happened between redistricting and the release of the 2022 PVI. Something big. Something seismic. The Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade, eliminating the federal protection of abortion rights in the US. The PVI did not reflect this at all in the July report-- or possibly just assumed it would have no effect on the landscape. I think that was a critical oversight, and it is my strong belief that the Dobbs decision(the case that overturned the aforementioned precedent) changed everything in the political landscape, and that the numbers reported in the PVI, and composed before the Dobbs ruling(and before the leaked draft a month earlier) should be about 7-8 points bluer, on average. For the sake of conservatism though, I am holding to an aggregate move of 5 points.
TLDR, for the skippers: The first sheet shows every district's PVI rating, with D being positive and R being negative(for purposes of being able to give the cells a color scale from red to blue), 0 indicating it doesn't lean D or R. Each column from there shows the districts' standing in the event of a swing by the number at the column header, from 1 to 5, then 10 and 15, for some crazy wishcasting. In the frozen rows at the top, totals are computed for how the House outlook is affected by these swings. In addition, there is a small ranking near the top-right that shows the number of districts each party has by margin.
Senate and Governor:
These are fairly straightforward, with related links for applicable campaign and analysis information. There are also some artifacts in them from when I built the next sheet.
This sheet shows, in chronological order, the individual elections by the time the polls close and when results can start to be counted and reported. This, along with the House Swing View, is where the lion's share of the effort of building this spreadsheet went. I've labeled, where possible, which candidates are incumbents and party-incumbents. Pursuant to my aforementioned prediction, I have highlighted the candidates in all the races I think the Democrats will win-- which is to say I have highlighted all the races with a PVI of "-5"(R+5) or better. I put totals of all districts with PVI ratings of greater than 15 points for either party in the frozen rows, to give some deference to the more-or-less established districts. The remaining 249 districts are less predictable. As of the moment of writing this blog post, no major news websites have links accessible yet to state-based results, except NBC News, so that link is in there now. More will be added on the day of the election, as link structures become available.
I will be tracking results from ballotpedia, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the AP, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, and any other sources that might have something distinctive and reliable, and I am open to reasonable suggestions. Just to be clear, and upfront, I will not be checking any far-right sources, except for novelty purposes, as they have worked very hard to give the false impression of what Americans really care about this cycle by spamming the information space with sham polls.
I will add a column to the Polls Close
sheet to show actual results in the same format as the PVI listing, and I'll find some way to indicate whether a particular race has been called and confirmed. I will be making these updates, god-willing,m in realtime on election night, and probably for the duration of the counting, which is expected to last for several days.
A Softer, More Sensitive GOP
While it's possible the Democrats will hold one or both chambers of Congress, the lack of a red wave in this election still sent some important messages to the GOP.
First: America is not interested in MAGA extremism. Across the country, election deniers, anti-semites, and opponents of bodily autonomy either won by razor-thin margins, or lost. This is especially true at the state level, with secretaries of state and attorneys-general who the GOP had counted on replacing to make a 2024 election easier for them. All four ballot questions that concerned abortion came out in support of abortion rights, including in Kentucky and Montana. That indicates that the GOP has been under the false impression that the electorate is on their side, regarding abortion.
Second: The GOP is sending signals this morning that they are coming back to the center. VA Governor Glenn Youngkin apologized to Nancy Pelosi for his comments about the attack on her husband. Mehmet Oz and many other defeated GOP candidates gracefully conceded. Kevin McCarthy said in his speech last night that he was committed to working with "whoever we can" to accomplish GOP goals, indicating an intent to reach across the aisle that hasn't been seen in the Trump era. None of these things would have happened in the event of a red wave. If there had been a red wave, no Republican would be compelled to apologize or cooperate with Democrats in any way. They would have taken a red wave as a signal that America wants a take-no-prisoners bully party. But the voters have clearly stated that they would rather have two parties that work together. The GOP will have to take this to heart.
Third: If the GOP takes the House, it will be by a number you can count on your hand. A margin so thin that the chamber's control could potentially change hands before the next election. As such, the Republican House leadership has an exceedingly difficult job ahead, building a coalition. There are still many MAGA representatives, and regardless of the winds of change they will not be willing at all to work with a new center-right GOP. This means the selection of a new Speaker of the House will be a long and contentious process, with great damage done to the legitimacy and unity of the GOP.
Fourth: This election, more than any other event in the last two years, shows Donald Trump to be irrelevant and powerless. He said he was going to make a big announcement next week, but at this point, for him to do that is like someone doing the Macarena on a competitive dance show. It's just too late for him.
The 2022 election was not a blue wave or a red wave. It was a mandate though. America demands sanity and moderation. Let's hope the GOP listens.
9:44 AM, Nov 10, 2022
Removing the Cancer of Trump
tagged with politics
The electorate has spoken, and it seems likely that in so doing, they have decided that the House should be controlled by the Republican Party, even if only by a hair's breadth. This is not a mandate for Republican policy, nor is it a rebuke of Democratic policy. The message both parties should take from this is that more than anything, the electorate wants the Republican Party to work with the Democratic Party, and achieve compromise between their ideological differences.
Another word for this is "legislating." Still another is "governing." It's not easy. It requires leadership and communication skills, humility and respect, as well as deep, comprehensive intelligence. That's why in the times before political ascension only required populist applause, the term, "qualified for office," was used, and had real meaning.
Members of Congress are elected by their constituents to serve the people, regardless of which party controls the chamber. Members of the party that is not in control are not elected to sit sullen in the corner with their arms folded. They're elected to temper and check the positions of the opposite party, to produce valuable, impactful legislation.
I say all this, because Donald Trump's GOP has branded this behavior as cowardly. Only losers cross party lines to give an inch to the other side. Willingness to work with the Democrats has become cause to be exiled from the party and removed from office at the next electoral opportunity. More than anything, the unifying thread of the GOP became fealty to the man himself. If you opposed him or spoke ill of him on the campaign trail before your primary, the MAGA base would make sure you don't make it to November.
So most GOP members of Congress had to pretend to be crazy to stay in office. They had to hail the fuhrer and grit their teeth, in the longshot hope that they could outlast him. It appears that some of them did, after he lost the GOP the House in 2018, the Senate and the White House in 2020, the nation's dignity in 2021, and failed to have a red wave in 2022 despite all indicators pointing to it.
The electorate doesn't want Donald Trump. They will not greet his announcement of candidacy with cheers, outside his own shrinking extremist MAGA constituency. Donald Trump has proven many times now to be bad for the Party. Launching Congressional investigations into Joe Biden and his family with no basis other than conspiracy theories is bad for the Party. The Supreme Court overturning precedent with impunity is bad for the Party.
The GOP has a very hard choice ahead of it. Will they continue to embrace Trump and his extremism, knowing that doing so will almost certainly cause a blue wave in 2024 and blow any chances of retaking the White House? Or will they take the short-term hit of the potential loss of the support of Trump and his extremist supporters?
The smartest thing for the GOP to do is to publicly disavow and condemn Donald Trump. MAGA will leave the party, possibly rallying in a new far-right party under Trump, but more likely just fading back into the bushes. But more importantly, a centrist GOP that doesn't argue against majority positions will do something the party hasn't done since the 2010s: grow. Moderates and conservatives will come home by the tens of millions.
Majority positions like women having autonomy over their bodies, real action against climate change, real action against authoritarianism around the world, criminal justice reform and a re-evaluation of how we deal with crime, immigration reform, meant to make the process of becoming an American accessible, safe, and fast. Pay equality. Increasing the minimum wage. Ballot access and the protection of voting rights, and the abandonment of the veiled bigotry of passing restrictive laws to "fight fraud." The end of gerrymandering. Gun safety, accountability, and training.
Resolving these outstanding issues will not hurt the GOP one iota, and will allow both parties to focus their collective effort on finding compromises and solutions.
9:14 AM, Nov 14, 2022
The Future of the GOP
tagged with politics
The only way I can think of for the GOP to remain under Trump's control, is for the Republicans who just won elections by distancing themselves from him to go back on their campaign promises, and for most/all of them to do it. I don't see that as a realistic possibility. It's possible, but he doesn't provide a lot of value to the Party. He delivers a block of active, engaged, reliable extremist voters, but that block is 1) shrinking, and 2) contaminates the discourse with its toxicity, and so chases moderates from the Party and ensures they don't return.
This is the GOP's biggest problem right now. They are beholden to a man who is marching them into the sea. Kevin McCarthy wants to be the House Speaker if his party takes control of the House, but as the margin the GOP would enjoy is far smaller than the number of Trump-loyal Freedom Caucus members, he will have a very difficult time leading the GOP in the House.
For the sake of having it both ways(ie: having the support of both moderates and Trumpists) McCarthy would probably like to avoid the topic and just quietly take over, without having to address the orange elephant in the room, and say no to anyone. But outgoing conservatives Kinzinger and Cheney are going to force the question before the new Congress is seated on Jan 3.
After Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol, we all thought that would be the end of Trump too-- but it wasn't --and his brand of grievance and score-settling politics reigned supreme, until voters confirmed for a third time in a row that they don't want a government influenced by Donald Trump.
In 2021, the GOP had just lost the Senate and the White House, but they had picked up a couple House seats. In 2022 they failed to take the Senate, but stand a very good chance of taking the House. I think the margin in the House that will produce enormous difficulty for any GOP Speaker will set this time apart from the post-insurrection period, as distinctly difficult for the GOP, and specifically because of Trump's influence.
10:41 AM, Nov 15, 2022
Unclogging the Senate
tagged with politics
If Raphael Warnock gets reelected, what happens to the Senate filibuster? One of the promises of John Fetterman's campaign was to "be the 51st vote" against the filibuster. Joe Manchin has made it abundantly clear that he will not side with his party on this matter, and this position is enormously popular among voters in his home state, so he really has no reason to deviate from that.
There is another potential barrier to the elimination of the filibuster, in Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema. It has been thought for a long while that she fears upsetting Republican voters in what has long been thought to be a red state. But when she woke up this morning, MAGA extremism had a big black eye in Arizona, fresh off a sharp working-over by the electorate. She may now find that Arizona is a safe place to be a Democrat. Also, having been condemned by her party for her opposition even to filibuster carve-outs for various things she supports, she has to be looking to 2024, an election in which she will have to survive a Democratic primary set against her past intransigence. Will she get on board to end the filibuster? What about Lisa Murkowski? Mitt Romney? Susan Collins? What about J.D. Vance, who in his victory speech never mentioned Trump once among the dozens of people to whom he was grateful for his success? A strong message to herald a new era of bipartisan compromise and cooperation would be a willingness to reach across the aisle.
Dream with me for a bit, about a Senate without the filibuster.
The filibuster has for years protected Republican Senators from the political consequences of their positions. For example, there are currently enough votes in the Senate to codify abortion rights and bodily autonomy, but without 60 Senators in support, it cannot come to a vote. Those who might vote against it are protected by the filibuster, so they never have to show their constituents what their position is. In this way, they can stump for both sides, getting greater electoral and financial support for remaining in office, without having any legislative evidence of basically anything other than renaming post offices and funding the military.
If the filibuster is removed though, that game of playing to both sides is no longer possible. Just like in real life, Senators would be politically liable for the things they say. For the first time since our grandparents' grandparents walked the earth with Giant Sloths and Woolly Mammoths, Senators would be answerable to their constituents for their on-the-record positions. Voters who disagree with them would have concrete data about their Senators to better inform their ballot-punching. In short, the end of the filibuster would usher in a new era of accountability, cooperation, and bipartisan coalition-building.
If Raphael Warnock is reelected, the barrier to removing the filibuster drops to a single Senator. The GOP needs to find its feet, and in so doing, could produce some "mavericks," who might work toward the future I described. We can only hope and watch.
Walker or Warnock?
In or around 2010, the GOP went completely crazy-- embracing populist messages conveyed on cable news, allowing relatively newly minted members of Congress like Michele Bachmann to push around the party leadership for premium committee assignments, and a far greater voice than a member of the House would normally get after only two terms.
In 2010, the Democratic Party's worst enemy-- poor election turnout -- granted the GOP's crazy wing what it saw as a mandate, so it's easy to see how they lost sight of the way the wind was blowing. In 2010, the majority opinion in the US was that marriage was between a man and a woman. Even President Obama is on the record for having that stated position.
But that was over ten years ago. Now, the issue of marriage equality(and many other issues that were considered red lines for the GOP in 2010) enjoys majority support in both parties, yet the Tea-Party-turned-MAGA GOP are still performing for older 2010 voters. The world changed while they had their dated, populist blinders on, and it's cost them unacceptable losses(or unacceptably poor gains) in three elections.
So entrenched and committed is the GOP in its current political course that almost none have condemned or broken with Donald Trump on his choice of dinner guests, or for his belief that the Constitution should be dismantled to assure him is purportedly rightful place in the White House, or for stealing classified documents and storing them next to the paper towels in his resort, or any of a litany of baldfaced crimes and assaults on the fabric of freedom, democracy, and decency.
We have been waiting and waiting for gravity to reassert itself under Trump and the out-of-touch GOP, and it just hasn't happened. He wields enormous political power, and arguably has the power to reduce the US to a vassal to his will.
Despite the abject failure of his influence that happened in the Midterms, the result of today's runoff in Georgia will absolutely validate him with the GOP if Walker wins. If Warnock wins, maybe, just maybe, GOP leadership will find their courage and self-respect, and publicly denounce Trump, and announce that he and the GOP have parted ways.
Maybe, but it feels like Trump has weathered worse storms.
9:29 AM, Dec 7, 2022
The Future of the FIlibuster
tagged with politics
In the 118th Congress, there will be 51 Democratic Senators. At least 49 of them want to abolish the filibuster. The holdouts are Manchin and Sinema. Joe Manchin is comfortable with his intransigence, as it makes him the most popular Democratic Senator in the US, especially in his deep-red home state. His re-election in 2024, whether it works or not, is proceeding exactly according to his plan.
But in Arizona, Kyrsten Sinema is in trouble. She has already been censured by the Arizona Democratic Party, and they've already committed to ensuring she does not get the Party nomination for her bid at re-election, also in 2024. I think her resolve to oppose her Party may wither when the 118th Congress is seated.
Whenever she's crossed her arms and closed her eyes in the face of her party, she's had the luxury of not being the only one to do so-- or at least for her sullen opposition to just be symbolic, presumably a performative overture to Republican and Independent voters in Arizona.
That will not be the case in the 118th Congress. Manchin's position is a foregone conclusion; he will opposed the elimination of the filibuster(though he has stated in the recent past that he would support a reform that restores the talking filibuster, rather than the "weekly email by an intern staffer" filibuster). But Sinema has never been out on that limb before, and I doubt she will make that stand.
With that said, I believe the 118th Congress will eliminate the Senate filibuster, beginning a new era of functionality, cooperation, and most importantly, accountability in the Senate. It is my personal opinion that it should be its own agenda item. The message needs to be that the issue is not Democratic policy, but Senate functionality. With a Republican House, Democratic policy has little chance of getting anywhere anyway. But that doesn't mean the filibuster should stay.
Senators owe it to their constituents to have an on-the-record position on every issue on the docket, so they can make a more informed decision on election day.
10:47 AM, Dec 9, 2022
What's to Become of the Orange Man and his Prisoners?
tagged with politics
It looks like Trump's going to be indicted relatively soon, in more than one place and on multiple charges. The Jan 6th Select Committee's final action will be the release of its full report, along with criminal referrals to the DOJ, and the grand jury in Georgia is gathering up evidence through his compelled confederates. His real estate business was found guilty on all charges in the NY case, and every court in the land has authorized the use of his tax returns and the secret documents he stole from the White House as evidence against him.
With all this, you or I would get, as Dan Akyroyd said in the seminal film Sneakers: "a hundred years in the electric chair," but Trump will get away with far more than a normal person. I personally don't see a perp walk in his future, but I do think that the mounting legal entanglements, his approval of genocide, his fealty to Vladimir Putin, his sexual proclivities, and all the other scandals will amount to basically nothing in terms of support from his party and base.
But he does do one thing that the GOP can't abide: he loses elections, and he loses elections FOR his party's candidates. That alone is reason enough for the GOP's leaders to want to push him out of the Party. I think having to answer questions about how they can support a literal monster, with a galaxy of incontrovertible evidence to back up the statement, will just be icing on the cake-- a buzzing fly in the GOP's ear --but enough to make them finally, publicly, explicitly expel him from the Party.
Apoplectic, Trump will burn down the Republican Party in furious retaliation, because the worst thing anybody could ever do to him is ignore him. He demands the attention of the world, and if the GOP isn't willing to host him anymore, then they deserve to be destroyed.
What happens next? If the GOP leadership expels him, he will breathe fire out his anus and pull the temple down around him, pulling the wingnuts out of the Party with him. If they continue to duck into elevators and otherwise dodge questions about him, they will keep losing elections, and it will get worse.
12:53 PM, Jan 31, 2023
Eliminating the IRS: The Solution for a Billionaire Near You
tagged with politics
I really dislike criticisms of the House GOP's proposal to replace the IRS and presumably all federal taxes with a 30% sales tax. When they are framed as, "it will hurt working families," it's an appeal to emotion, which I consider a cowardly way to talk, even if the statement is true. And cowardice is usually a means of hiding something, so it sets off my bullshit-meter almost as much as when snake oil salesmen try to convince me to buy something that has, "adaptogens" in it. Before I go into this in any detail, let me first say that what is being proposed has no chance of getting any oxygen in the Senate, let alone a vote. Further, President Biden would never sign it. But just to explore the idea, let's dive in.
The wealthiest taxpayers in this country pay the majority of their taxes not through income, sales, or property-- but through capital gains. They make an investment, and sell it for a profit. That profit is taxed at a modest rate as it is-- a maximum of 20%, which is much lower than income tax for the highest earners --yet it is a very high priority for the politically-connected wealthiest Americans, to eliminate it. This is part of the GOP plan.
At the other end of the income-slider, most taxes are paid right now through state and local sales taxes, which of course would not be removed by the GOP plan. They would go right on being assessed and collected, with a brand new 30% federal rate on top of that. As the lowest-earning Americans are overwhelmingly living from paycheck to paycheck, they have minimal financial options. Home ownership is well out of their reach, as is investment. Their income is low enough that they effectively pay no taxes on it. In short, they are subject to the whims of the political ruling class, and have little say in their lives. "I got no rudder," as philosopher Malcolm Reynolds once said.
The vast majority of federal tax revenue in the US comes from the wealthiest and the highest earners. Their taxes fund most federal programs. Their contribution is high, and without it, the federal government would be starved for funding. But what has to be kept in mind about this dynamic is that these people can afford it. They can afford to eat whatever and whenever they want. They can afford to donate to charity. They can afford to send their kids to high-priced private schools. They can afford home ownership and private investment. They can afford comfort, safety, and luxury. They can afford to live however they want.
They can also afford to spend money to lobby elected officials to deregulate their industries. They can afford to spend money to lobby elected officials to relieve their tax burden. They can afford to spend money to establish astroturf
organizations to fool lower-income voters to vote for the interests of the wealthy and not their own. They can afford to spend money to get their allies elected to office. The list goes on.
The aim of the GOP's tax plan is to shift the tax burden away from the wealthy, and onto the lower end of the income spectrum. And on the lower end, people decidedly cannot afford the added expense. The result of this will be a cocktail of disastrous consequences. More people would turn to crime. More people would turn to public aid programs to simply survive, placing a heavy financial burden on state and local governments. Fewer people would be able to afford healthcare, increasing subsidies and local government expenditures to support non-paying hospital visits.
Also, after all this, even the most optimistic predictions show that this tax plan will not be sufficient for the federal government to pay its bills. That means the GOP, presumably in control, would propose cutting or eliminating expenditures for social security, defense, and medicare.
But none of that concerns the GOP's donors. And that's the point.
11:46 AM, May 19, 2023
Villainy and Accountability
tagged with politics
Republicans being Republicans-- ie: accomplishing the more villainous elements of their political agenda --is good for Democrats. Decades of deliberate suppression and disenfranchisement produced an historic turnout for an off-year Supreme Court election in Wisconsin that sent a rebuke to the MAGA world one would expect in an undeniably blue state, but not Wisconsin, which is considered at best a purple state.
A longtime legislative and judicial goal of the GOP is the criminalization and delegitimization of reproductive rights and women's rights in general. In June 2022, they achieved a massive victory for their cause, with the overturning of the 1972 Roe v. Wade decision. They proceeded to dramatically underperform in the midterm elections, later that year, as another historic turnout sent another rebuke to those who would see a future with reduced personhood for women.
Putin invaded Ukraine and has committed acts of such brutality and disgusting disregard for the value of human life that support for Russia by free-thinking people is unthinkable. Yet parts of the GOP still support appeasing Putin and rewarding him-- including the presumptive nominee for President, Donald Trump --for Putin's unrepentant inhuman butchery.
Until the 2018 election, election outcomes indicated that the GOP villainy was running unchecked, largely because few people were paying attention. Even today, many people will avoid the topic in favor of more pleasant pursuits. "I don't like politics," I'm sure you've heard many people say. Maybe you've said it yourself. But this disengagement allows villainy to become law. Suppression and gerrymandering and the erosion of basic rights of people who don't fit a certain mold is the rule with the GOP. It has to be, since majority opinion on most issues is not on their side, and they have to shape the law to protect their rule.
After the 2016 election, I think the American electorate was shaken awake, as we found ourselves in the Presidency of a man who sought not to lead, but to rule-- and didn't really understand the difference. Since that time, advocacy groups have activated dormant voters all over the country, to great effect. Their work is ongoing, ad will most likely never actually be done, but the desired effect is playing out.
When Republicans achieve one of their goals, goals that stand in contrast to the values held by the great majority of voters, they have not been held accountable for it in the past. Now, through the aforementioned advocacy by political operatives and organizations, Republican villainy is laid bare, and in an increasing fashion, they are suffering for it in general elections.
So when I see the GOP not changing its behavior to align more with majority positions, I feel reassured that they have more electoral beatings to come.
2:48 PM, Jun 8, 2023
The Voters Just Aren't That Into You
tagged with politics
Kevin McCarthy reached across the aisle, and worked with Republicans in his caucus, along with his Democratic colleagues in the House, Senate, and White House to reach a compromise on the debt ceiling. For this, key members of the Freedom Caucus(ie, the MAGA wackos like Gaetz, Boebert, Greene, and Roy) have decided to blow up the House's legislative session until.... nobody knows.
They voted for McCarthy(or abstained to reduce the threshold of victory) in January, in exchange for concessions that will only be fully revealed when McCarthy retires and writes a book, but one known concession is that it will take the vote of only a single member in the House to force a vote of no confidence in the Speaker, effectively putting us back where we were on January 3rd.
The problem for the MAGA Wackos is that they aren't numerous enough to get another Speaker they can control, and they will absolutely lose the control they have, such as it is, over the current Speaker and the House in general, if they remove McCarthy. The GOP leadership and most of its members would be more willing to work with the Democrats to build a coalition for a more stable government, and the MAGA Wackos know this.
So instead they're having a big tantrum, hoping to pull the Party down into the mud with them. But cracks appear to be forming. Chris Christie announced his run for President with a full-throated indictment of the former President and his penchant for crime, incompetence, stupidity, and corruption, and has thus far suffered no negative consequences for it. He will almost certainly not receive his party's nomination, but a short time ago, he would have been ousted entirely for speaking so openly against the Party's demagogue, who still aligns with a genocidal fascist dictator in Russia.
The 6-3 conservative Supreme Court ruled today that Alabama must draw a more equitable House map that better serves its black population, which makes up 25% of the state. The 5-4 decision included support by Justice Kavanaugh and Chief Justice Roberts.
Attempts to peel some of Fox's right-leaning viewers off have been disastrous for CNN, who've fallen to fourth place in cable news in most time slots, while Fox, bereft of cash cow Tucker Carlson, has lost large blocks of viewers who would prefer to get their "news" from the likes of Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, Steve Bannon, and Steven Crowder.
Meanwhile, the GOP still doesn't have an answer on the abortion question that won't potentially spell disaster for them in 2024.
All these factors paint a picture of a much-weakened Republican Party, that may be taking some time now to realize the only successful way forward: aligning with the majority of most issues, and coming back to the center. I personally think it will take some more bloody noses and sprained ankles for them to fully agree on this though.
3:07 PM, Jun 18, 2023
Don't Lock Him Up... yet
tagged with politics
Since the indictment of the former President on charges under the Espionage Act, with overwhelming evidence against him, the story the news media have been running with has been how Trump can find way to delay prosecution, possibly even until after the election. This is a journalistic trick that benefits nobody, except ad-sales of the networks of these news media outlets, with frightened people making sure to tune in and stay up-to-date on the menace of the hour.
In other words, the same strategy Fox News has been using for decades.
But what I haven't heard anyone talk about is the degenerative effect Trump has on the Republican Party, as evidenced by the results of every election since he first took office. Right now, in a pitiful display of a combination of cognitive dissonance, MAGA subservience, and infection by the entertainment wing of the GOP, Trump's defenders have a number of excuses for Trump's behavior, all spurious. But the loudest I have heard is that the Department of Justice is being "weaponized," by the President, to prevent Trump's candidacy, because the entertainment wing is also spreading in the minds of its adherents the delusion that Trump would defeat Biden in a 2024 general election.
What I am not seeing anywhere is this fact: there is no urgency in convicting and incarcerating Trump-- or rather, convicting and incarcerating Trump is urgent, but not for any reason having to do with 2024 or any other election. The strategy we will see unfold thanks to the efforts of what remains of his legal team will be an attempt to delay prosecution, laying out the idea that if he can just hold off until after the election, he can just pardon himself and all his co-conspirators like a mafia don.
This will cause most who oppose him to push even harder for expedited prosecution, and allows for one of two potential outcomes:
1) Trump is prosecuted, convicted, and incarcerated.
2) Trump is prosecuted, but mistakes are made in prosecuting him and he gets off.
In the first case. he spends(ideally) the rest of his life in an orange jumpsuit in a minimum-security penal compound, and a legal battle to exonerate him, and to decide whether he can be the President from prison will ensue.
I believe that both of these outcomes will have a terrible effect on the 2024 election. In the case of the first, the entertainment wing of the GOP will continue to push the "victim of the deep state" narrative, and a central issue among Republican candidates will be to rally around their beset messiah, and turn out to defeat the deep state in 2024. Fox News is much better at shaping narratives than any centrist, fact-based news media outlet, and you can be certain that their narrative-- and it would be embraced far outside their own ecosystem --would be that Joe Biden is a bully and a tyrant who locks up anyone who opposes him. I think this could cost him the White House, and could cost his party a big swing of seats in Congress. In the case of the second scenario, I think the outcome would be basically the same as the first, except that in addition to a bully and a tyrant, Joe Biden would be cast as impotent and bumbling with age.
I think it would actually be ideal for gravity to assert itself on Trump after the 2024 election, removing the appearance of partisan impropriety, and more importantly, depriving the GOP's entertainment wing of fuel for their outrage machine. Donald Trump is an old man. If he's still alive in January of 2029, he will be 83 years old on inauguration day if he runs and wins in 2028. It's 2024 or nothing for him. If he runs and fails again, he will be weaker than ever.
In the meantime, through no effort whatsoever by his political opponents, Donald Trump is an anvil his party is condemned to drag around. He has the unwavering support of a small population that vehemently opposes the majority position on almost every issue. This has the potential to be devastating in any election, whether he's running or not. He has sculpted a party in which the primary elections are a circus of performative insanity, sending patently unelectable candidates to the general election to face reasonable, responsible candidates who make an effort to reach out to the middle for the votes of independent voters.
His insanity is so pronounced that I think it's possible that even as a free man, he may not get his party's nomination in the Spring. I think that possibility is remote, and that he will almost certainly breeze to the GOP nomination without any substantial primary challenge. But if he doesn't get the GOP nomination, there is no universe in which he does not run. He'd split the GOP vote, like H. Ross Perot did in 1992 and 1996, handing the election to Biden. Keep in mind as well that his name on the ballot would produce another historic turnout like 2020, except that in 2024, he has nothing to run for except revenge and score-settling, and the population knows that a vote for any Republican is a vote against female personhood and the freedom of anybody who isn't a white male.
There is no need to lock Trump up before the election, and doing so could only have a negative effect. He will lose just fine without legal consequences.
10:12 AM, Oct 11, 2023
The Psephology Project
tagged with politics
I realize I've slowed down over here. The family and I have been busy with stuff, and I should have been keeping this page updated with it. But I've been very busy with a new project. Over at my newly renamed and re-homed Substack
my blogging has largely slowed down too. I haven't posted anything out into the ether other than social media nonsense since early August. The reason is because I have instead been working on a new project, and it's mature enough now for me to tell strangers about it. Not that you're a stranger...
It's called the Psephology Project by John Kelly
and I hope very much that it can help someone, somewhere. I wrote about it elsewhere too
in a format that's a bit friendlier for social media shares.
I will get back to silly personal stuff here soon, but for now, go read about your member of Congress. Here's mine.