Sunday, December 4, 2016

Pelosi: World's Weakest Political Leader?

Let's start on a positive note. Please read this from the NY Times: Frank Bruni's How to Win a Senate Race. It's about Rob Portman's GOP victory in Ohio. Portman even outpolled Donald Trump, Ohio's darling. Bruni's piece looks at how someone won in this wild year by just doing the basic hard work of a campaign and using good political judgment. We can learn from anybody and should, GOP included.

Let's admit that the Democrats had better start learning from someone pretty damn fast because in just two years the Congressional elections come up and then reapportionment per the 2020 census. So far this decade the Democratic leadership in D.C. has become worse and worse at winning the Congress.

Rob Portman wasn't supposed to win the Senate seat in Ohio. Early this year the Democrats looked poised to make at least a net gain of 6 seats in the Senate, including Ohio, which would have given them a majority and thus a bulwark against repeal of Obamacare. That majority would also have blocked repeal of the environmental rules that may stave off climate change. Regaining the Senate majority could also have blocked bad appointments to the Supreme Court. An enormous amount was at stake.

Instead the Democrats won only two seats of the six, a failure almost as surprising and disappointing as Clinton losing to Trump. Instead of analyzing what the Demcrats did wrong, in his column Bruni looks at what one Republican senate candidate did right. It's nothing far out. It's just good basic campaign techniques and lots of hard work. The Democratic Party in D.C. seems to have forgotten both of these.

Nor do they seem particularly interested in remedying their failures. The re-election last week of Nancy Pelosi to the office of minority leader of the House, while having no bearing on the Senate disaster, nevertheless speaks ill for the future. It means the Democrats in D.C. haven't learned from this terrible year that their party leadership is largely worthless at the most fundamental issue in politics: winning elections. If you can't win elections, you can't win anything else. That was the first lesson in politics my UAW buddies taught me.

The media credits Pelosi's hold on the leadership post to her vaunted skill in keeping her caucus in line and getting legislation through.

"Wait!" you say. "What legislation?"

Good question. Because of the GOP's determination not to let Obama have one damned thing, no Democratic measures have moved through the House since the GOP captured it in 2010. Pelosi has therefore accomplished nothing in 6 years. Her skill as a legislator has been worthless. And this is a sad story of her own making. We got no legislation because she failed at task Number One, holding the House in 2010 or winning back the majority in the House in 2012 or 2014. Now she has failed yet again.

For six years she has accomplished nothing. No regaining the House majority and no enactment of legislation.

She did do one thing, however.  She raised money. Pelosi is the pin-up girl for the Democratic party's entanglement with fat cats.

That's her way of keeping power and her leadership role. It's the money she raises—in enormous amounts—that keeps her popular as she spreads it around among her colleagues for their re-election campaigns, thus insuring they will vote for her as minority leader. But money alone doesn't win elections, as Hillary Clinton's well-financed campaign demonstrated. A good party leader has to help win elections with more than money. Just ask Howard Dean, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, who engineered the Democrats' sweeping Congressional wins in 2006.

But Pelosi puts a different face on the situation. After the November Democratic debacle she apparently felt she needed to say something on her own behalf to minimize her failure to get a House majority yet again. Give her first prize for sheer gall for saying,  "We have won elections before and we will do it again."


What elections is she talking about? None that she's won in getting a House majority. She hasn't won any! As I noted above. it was Howard Dean, as chair of the Democratic National Committee, who managed the enormous win of House seats by Democrats in 2006; then Obama's win carried the House candidates along to another Democratic Congressional majority in 2008. Pelosi blanked on 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016. That's 0 wins to 4 losses. If she were a football coach, she would have been canned after such a losing streak.

As for the Senate seats the Democrats should have won but didn't...... Well, let's not get too gloomy all at once.  My understanding from the media "experts"  is that the Democratic candidates were "weak".

Well, yeah. Let's leave it at that for now.
P.S. Watch for my upcoming post on the easiest and fastest way to change the electoral college so that the voters get the candidate the majority chooses. It's called democracy! You can help make it happen. No more of empty land choosing our president!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Take Heart! Elton John Won't Be Helping Trump Either!

Two days after the election I posted a piece discussing how Trump cannot carry out all the frightening nonsense he spewed in his campaign. What Can Trump REALLY Do?

Since then other writers have finally stopped beating the drums of terror and started looking at the reality of the limits on Trump and his GOP Congress. They too foresee Trump and the GOP Congress having a hard time trying to wreck Obama's legacy and mess up this country. Below is a list of recent articles you may want to read, but just the headlines alone should give you some reassurance.

As I said in my November 11 post and is reiterated in these articles by others, it's very hard to turn the ship of state. Checks and balances exist throughout our system, states have adopted many of the same laws as the feds, businesses now see the sense of environmentalism and have invested in it, market forces are supporting a switch to clean fuels, and on and on.

And what about the fear that Trump will round up and imprison vast numbers of our people? In 1968 I lit the spark that led to enactment in 1971 of a federal law which effectively bans federal mass arrest and detention in the absence of an act specifically made criminal by Congress. This law was cited by the Supreme Court in the Guantanamo cases, ordering the Feds to give the detainees the due process that is required by our Constitution.

I mention this because it shows what we can do to oppose any president doing Nazi-type things. The law was my response to the rounding up and internment of the Japanese Americans during World War II. This crime against our fellow Americans took place when I was a child, far from where it happened. Some of those detainees were subsequently my beloved journlism teacher, a best friend in college, my first candidate, and other good friends. If one young woman, enraged by a long ago offense by her government, can set off such reaction to an injustice of thirty years earlier, think what the young millennials can do now if the "knock on the door in the night" begins in our nation.

Now here's the list of reassuring headlines. Maybe you'll even read some of the articles.  Whether you do or not,  please take heart. As Yogi Bera said, "It ain't the end of the world until it's the end of the world."

 Why Trump’s Education Pick Won’t Be Able to Privatize U.S. Schools

Betsy DeVos and the Wrong Way to Fix Schools

 U.S. Companies to Trump: Don’t Abandon Global Climate Deal

Trump’s Proposals Won’t Help The White Working Class — Or The Urban Poor 

President Trump's Toughest Foe: The Bureaucracy

 U.S. Companies to Trump: Don’t Abandon Global Climate Deal 

Trump Probably Can’t Get Roe v. Wade Overturned

There is yet another constraint on Trump, one that no one has yet considered so far as I know. It's the principle of "bad managers drive away competent people." If Trump persists in appointing extremists and power-bloated billionaires, the talent these top bosses need to hire will snub them. Extremists and billionaires from the private sector generally are regarded as bad bosses. And it's very hard to get anything done in government without hiring people who know where the "on button" is. The Trump folks can't even get Elton John to sing at the inauguration!

So sit back and watch Trump and the GOP flail. Soon begins the circular firing squad?

As we wait in our front row seats, please pass the popcorn.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Senate Election Still Open! But the Democratic Party Snores!

Here's an example of how slack the current Democratic leadership has become. Why does Rachel Maddow have to be the one to tell us that the Democrats have a real shot at coming within one vote of taking the Senate majority and thereby blocking Trump's worst Supreme Court nominees and stopping Paul Ryan's plan to gut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and our environmental laws.

It all hangs now on Louisiana, where a runoff for a U.S. Senate seat is December 10. If the Democrats pick up that seat, they will have 49 votes, including the two Independents who already routinely caucus with the Democrats. Plus GOP Senator Susan Collins will likely vote with the Democrats to block the wilder of Trump and Ryan's schemes. After all, she was brave enough to withstand the GOP and its snarling, spitting Tea Party and vote for Obamacare. That gives the Democrats 50 votes, one short of the majority. (In a tie, the GOP Vice President will vote with the GOP members.) Surely there is one more sane GOP Senator besides Collins who will vote with the Democrats to protect seniors and our national parks and forests.

Here's what you need to know to help win this seat. So stop whining about being "depressed" and
do something real against Trump!    Send donations or volunteer to make phone calls at:
Foster Campbell for the United States Senate

When the masnbc video is working you can see the Maddow interview with the rather sad bulldog-looking candidate named Campbell.  He must indeed be a bulldog to have survived a field of six contenders in order to make the runoff. Go get 'em. Foster Camopbell! last-senate-race-has-national-significance-812088387975

Thursday, November 24, 2016

On Environment, Business Steps Up to Thanksgiving Plate

A TRULY HAPPY THANKSGIVING as business steps up to the Thanksgiving plate!
Business is stepping up to the plate just as I hoped it would. 
As I suggested the day after the election, environmentalism is imbedded in the American consciousness and not to be tossed away by an ill-informed man and his chums.(…/what-can-trump-reall…?) Many businesses recognize that a ruined environment, racism, rotted infrastructure, sexual preference prejudice, etc., are bad for business.
Thanks to Barnie for helping teach anti-racism and to Big Bird for teaching environmentalism. And don't eat Big Bird for Thanksgiving.

I am thankful today and every day for you, my readers. Wherever you are, remember it's your world. Claim it and protect it. 

Blessings on us all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

An Open Letter to Donald Trump by a Guest Writer

This guest writer is my son Jeremy. I hope his letter resonates with you as it did with me.

Letter to Donald Trump, President Elect of the United States
Mr. Trump,
Congratulations on your victory. In two short months you will be taking on the greatest responsibility in the world. You will be responsible for the lives and futures not only of the nearly 60 million residents of the U.S. that voted for you, but also the 260 million that did not vote for you.  What that means is that you have to put the election rhetoric aside and try to govern.  If you are to successfully govern this country, it means you must lead and not just command the people whom you are trying to govern. The job you are about to take over is not one of power, it is one of responsibility. 

This country is a blend of different races, creeds, sexual orientations, and it is also composed of more women than men. You cannot govern it as if it were a collection of white heterosexual Christian males of European descent. The rhetoric you used to win the election has intensified the already widening divide in our nation and it will only get worse if you don’t stand up and do something about it. 

Millions of Americans are afraid of you and that is why you have seen protests across the country. They are afraid that you will take away their families just because some of them are undocumented. They are afraid you will take away their right to marry whom they want. They are afraid you will take away their health care. They are afraid you will allow big companies to pollute their water and air and destroy the climate. They are afraid you will mortgage their children’s futures by giving away huge tax breaks to the wealthy and businesses and increasing the national debt to the point where it cannot be paid back. They are afraid you will destroy the diplomatic relations with countries that are our allies and our trading partners by breaking the promises we made as a country to them in treaties that they rely on.  They are afraid you will ignore military leaders, policy experts, and law enforcement officials and that you will make decisions without first learning the potential consequences of your actions.  

This is not a game show. It is not a real estate transaction. Bankruptcy is not an option. There are no re-takes or editing. The consequences of your actions are real, permanent, and the results of your decisions will affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people, not just some contestants, celebrities, or investors.  Your demeanor and civility are no longer yours alone. You represent 250 years of struggle, sacrifice, patriotism, courage, and unbelievable heroism that built this country and made it what it is today.  You need to consider what has gone into making this country great. 

You need to leave your election slogan behind with the election, and come to the realization that this country is already great, and your responsibility is to try to make it better.  

Your first and most important priority is not to those who supported you in your election. Your most important priority is to those that opposed you. You must unite this country again before you can start to make things better. You can’t do that through executive order, legislation, or appointments. It will take humility, dignity, and respect for all your constituents especially those that opposed you.  You will need to recognize their point of view and really try to see their side. 

It is easy to lead those that support you, but it takes tremendous leadership to lead those who oppose you. If you want to lead the entire country, you will need to embrace your opponents and try to help them.  You may not agree with them, but they are mostly good, kind, and decent people that want the freedom to pursue happiness, raise their families, practice their own religion, and strive for a better life for themselves and a better future for their children.  

I wish you tremendous success and I will pray for you. You have the hardest job in the world. Before you move into the White House, take a look at pictures of the men who lived there before you. Look into their faces and compare them to the faces that emerged 4 or 8 years later. Time didn’t change those faces. The tremendous responsibility that you are facing is what aged those men. 

Good luck and may God guide you.  Make America better, and try to make all of America proud of you.

The Secret of the Universe Is the Electoral College

As Stephen Colbert said a week ago, "Now we know why bad things happen to good people." (Pauses a beat.) "It's the electoral college".

That's the post I'm now working on. Of all the issues this election raises and all the ideas I was pursuing, the electoral college has emerged in my judgment as the most important.

I'll be back as soon as I have mustered the materials you and others will need to change this serious impediment to democracy. Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, the electoral college as presently conducted is a menace to your having the victory your party may have been handed by a majority of the voters.

So please be patient. I think you'll feel the wait is worth it. And, no, this is not about how to get a constitutional amendment.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Please be patient. So much, so fast!

I'm working on three new postings at the same time. So please be patient. Lots of data on why the election went as it did. (There's really only one reason in my view.) And lots of good news and lots of Trump/team errors. And how we can fix the electoral college mess without a constitutional amendment.

Actually that's four new postings I'm working on.

Patience is it's own reward. (It isn't, but that sounds nice.) So please check back soon for lots of new stuff.

Oh, there's also one on more stuff Trump can't do.  That's five new postings I'm working on!