Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Federal Rights and State Rights and our two parties

Our states have been labeled red and blue by the last election.


There are common ideas that unite both parties, but the future trends in the Republican party are difficult to predict. On the whole, they have favored state rights, as then the Republicans can gerrymander and rule all they will, passing abortion related laws that try to go around the spirit of the law, banning the clinics on various technical grounds.

The Republican party has been known to hang on to power by whatever means. They are losing people as the country becomes more a group of more multicultural, tolerant people. So we do not know where their judges will take us as far as state and federal rules go. They will resist forever approving marijuana on a nation wide scale. But you have to go case by case,

Suppose the courts overrule Roe vs Wade. By the constitution that would then fall to states to decide. We would have abortion states and non-abortion states. States would try to block travel for abortion. But they could then come back and pass a new law. "In this case" the federal government can decide what to do. They will pass laws to ban abortion at say 3 weeks initially, then all abortions.

The politicians and judges will then have a track record of backing states on some issues, controlling them on others.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Draining The Swamp

Draining the swamp has been used in politics since 1900. Victor L. Berger, a social democrat, used it in the US in the progerssive era.

It can basically mean anything corrupt or, in the era of Trump, excessive government oversight.

Trump came with that message and has not done anything about corruption, lobbyists, gifts to giant corporations etc. He has cut down on government meddling in land use and such. He has the power to do that, as most of the departments of government report to him, not congress. If congress has ear marked funds for certain departments and causes, say firefighting in the forests of the West, Trump cannot cancel that. The Pentagon is largely independent, but Trump has manipulated that too. But the message was strong in 2016, and especially libertarians started to listen to Trump. It helped him get the outsider and reformer (LOL!) label.


Moving on from Trump, we have Sanders and Warren to look into. The swamp was a different thing for them, mainly the corruption brought in by lobbyists. Sanders and Trump both campaigned as outsiders. It works for Sanders, who certainly has been far left compared to Biden and Obama. Obama had to bail out the auto industry and the home loans industry. Yet he did not put in place any controls of Wall Street. He got us healthcare and "no pre-existing conditons" but really, the controls on the health insurance industry were minimal. Obamacare definitely included the industry in talks, even if Republicans did not participate.

Elizabeth Warren has focused on family and therefore healthcare and bankruptcy. She wants consumer protections in banking. Her policy there is not even new. It was in place from 1930s up to Reagan.  Reagan started the "freedom" movement and the labeling of government as merely a hindrance. Now we have what we have. A good portion of us are slaves to huge corporations as workers and as consumers.

There is another aspect to swamps: Corporations have repurposed government as a source of income. First you use politics to explain that the government does some thing badly and has poor managers. You then have to contract everything to businesses that do know this stuff. Including war (Blackwawter et al) for war. See

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_military_company

The whole scope of private corporations taking over public works is covered in a recent book. I will let you look up details on that yourself.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Trump Impeachment

In 1949 the German Republic got its current constitution. It was redone partly in 1990 to add East Germany. Our Constitution is from the 1700s. It has some useful amendments, but amendments have not been passed for years. It is now creaking at the seams. Thanks Mr Trump for bringing this matter to focus and our attention.

Trump is being impeached, and the separation of powers is failing. With one party in control, it will be impossible to impeach from now on. It was before, and Nixon for sure would have been impeached if he had not resigned.

We are now going through a week long show trial. The republicans are bored. It was clear from the first vote that no evidence will be presented. The kind that would have legal standing in regular court. No witnesses for sure.

The defense of the Trump legal team has been lame. None of that matters. We know the final vote: 53/47 to not remove Trump. It is going to be a small majority, but anything else would actually have an effect on Trump. Who is easily annoyed, but never in such a major way. I guess I am still pleased at all the grief it has brought him.


The other part of the current stagnation in politics has to do with the Electoral College, obviously. We may see some other parties come along, and factions pushing the Democrats in all kinds of directions. But the Republican party is losing. It is going to hang on to the Senate, possibly for a decade or more, but still just barely. The trend, whether to the left or not, is away from the Republicans. They only represent white people and a few odd groups, such as Indians, whom Trump has managed to romance for one or two elections. In any case, the Republican party was taken to where they are now by the Tea party and a final push by Trump into this racist corner. They will have a hard time coming out of there.

Democrats will veer a bit to the center, and become more business friendly. Global warming will be put aside, but things like abortion and other liberal issues with minorities will go more and more "liberal," whatever that still means.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Old Habits Not Easily Given Up

This is going to be the Greta Thunberg thing again, if you want to know where this is going. But let's start with a more local thing. We bought a car, a Toyota, for two retirees to drive.


It runs on gas. There might be some hybrid cars or plug ins that are in our price range. But we actually drive 8 hour drives at times. The plug in would not work. We need the rack on top and a trailer hitch in the back for a bike rack. And I have to be able to sit in the driver's seat. This one is just barely my size. But I have no other needs than getting to nearby state parks and nature areas. So this is what we bought. It was a down size from a bigger SUV we had for 13 years.

So we didn't change very much, though we will waste a little less gas with this. Moving on to houses:


That is not our house, but is similar. We have more lawn and trees. We live in a single family home with a heat pump. I always prefer gas heat, as it is made from propane and other gases that have less of a carbon footprint than plain old coal. We are now essentially heating with coal, as the electricity is made with that.

If we lived in a row house condo, heating costs would go down. We would give up a little privacy and would decide on common things such as roof work at condo association meetings. If we lived in an apartment condo, the carbon footprint would be even less. Underground garages give plenty of warmth for cars and any hobbies with tools you need to do.

We have a couple of million people here in a state in the prairie. I have seen the other extreme, in a developed county, South Korea. Tens of millions live in a rather small country. It still had a lot of land left for some farming, and the cities are rather crowded. Public transportation is there, but many use taxis, as they are cheap, probably subsidized. Buildings in Cheonan, a city of 500 000 just South of Seoul on the fast train line, are from three to 20 stories tall. A typical hotel was 10 stories.

Now we get to the GIVING UP part. People are reluctant to give up things. The majority of my Democrat friends have the same cars and homes that the Republicans of the same income class do. A few single people have chosen to live in apartments near the university where they work. But they would be a rather small part of the Democrats. Some more extreme green party types are around. Some live with family in run down old houses. Despite claiming all kinds of green ideas they support (veganism, various other conservation issues, wind power) they still end up paying the same for heating the house as the average republican in the middle class. We have those, about half the city are Republicans, and many are not rich.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The November Election is Coming Up

I have people close to me getting involved with candidates and primaries. I'm looking past the primaries when we have a democratic candidate. I have a simple message:


If you are a farmer, and you make a living working hard, the Democrats will give you the exact same crop insurance, flood insurance, subsidy. You are voting the wrong candidate. In a decade or so all healthcare beyond the one doctor in town and the chiropractor will have gone to the nearest city with 50 000 people.

I realize that a blog that very few read has very little effect on people voting. But you can use my arguments on your favorite Trump voting relative. If he wins and does another four years (though the whole Trump operation is likely to collapse soon after the second term starts) you can also use it as an I told you so argument. In addition, I can use the picture above on message boards, I just give the url link to it and it appears there.

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Cult of Trump


The voters, some 40% of them being his base, voted for Trump for one reason: He is standing for white working class folks (as ironic as it is for a billionaire). He represents the white conservatives clinging to power for the last time. They can hang on to power as long as there is a GOP senate, and act on it the few times they still get a president. So that much is true, and all of them will vote for him again, regardless of his achievements. Additional voters came in with their particular conservative issues (abortion, less regulation, less stuff for poor folks in cities).

The achievements are not really provable. The jobs are there, low paying jobs. 20 plus an hour manufacture jobs are long gone for most. The stock market is hanging in there. The government itself is hanging in there, sponsored by borrowing. From China. Trump's economic enemy.

There is really nothing to do at this point. Not one of them is to be converted at this point based on science (global warming) or economics (it's all hype and borrowing).

We have only to wait to November. If  trump gets re-elected, two things will happen in four years:

1 Trump presidency collapses (he will do something even more stupid)
2 a recession

Friday, December 27, 2019

Books on our bookstore shelf

I have a couple of books on the middle class or working class, Rachel Maddow's last book (Putin, oil, fracking etc.). But I was curious about the last ten years or so in US politics. How did the two parties get to the point where nothing bipartisan will pass? The first book was by a favorite author, but pretty much ended with the Bush era. I am in fact looking for exactly this kind of book, but it should cover at least the first Trump year.


On to the next book I picked off the shelf:


The book covers an interesting topic, a bit narrow. I guess the point there is that we in fact need the FBI, and they do a job, which generally has little to do with politics. But in this case the interference to the election was real. You would need to read this and the Mueller report together. On a side note, it is comical that the right finds the FBI alarming now, where the hippies of the 70s lumped the FBI with the rest of the "pigs," but that was of course before 9-11. We had no major terrorism.

Next book. The author is labeled a pundit. Had to pass, one sided.


The next one was interesting too, but would I finish it? Ian Haney López is a law professor at Berkeley.


The one I bought, Pitchfork Populism,  had to do with the Trump era, and Trump appears to pop up on at least every other page. We find that Trump base is about 20% of voters. The rest are traditional Republicans and independents. The book cites many studies of various sorts, including studies on young voters, media, smart phones etc etc. It is written from a somewhat academic view point, so I suppose a Trumpist could read it as well.  But probably will not. it does not really provide them any ammo for the next election, or to ridicule or to start new conspiracy theories.


Kane states: Trump “is actually a weak, insecure, self-obsessed, delusional, disloyal, emotionally diminutive figure who hyperextends himself to overcompensate for his personal faults, ineptitude, and intellectual impotence”. Continuing: “A growing chorus believes that Trump lacks the dignity, character, civility, ethics, judgment, intellect, discipline, and composure, to lead a conga line, let alone the greatest nation on the planet.”

One more book I had to get on line:



This is a book about the Internet and politics. It is not a book that will tell you why Trump won, for example. That would require a more detailed look at the people who voted for him and their views.

With that out of the way, you do learn about how the message is spread nowadays. Even if the voters got the message from TV, the Internet still had a role in passing along the messages learned.

Whether you believe the studies and conclusions is up to you. They are explained in enough detail that you do not need to go read the original papers.

As an example, the message of the phrase "deep state" starts around page 148 and goes on to page 158. Other similar phrases continue from there on (draining the swamp etc.).

We have to give credit to Trump handlers, Foxnews et al. for feeding these short phrases to the public. What part took them for real, and how the right and left react to the media feed is examined. it was not all that sophisticated, mostly repeating a thing over and over until it became a fact in the mind of voters. Sometimes you have to tell people what they already suspect and it is less of an effort to convince the right group. If Trump says is is fake news, many believe.

I guess you have to summarize Hillary's failures as two:  lacking the short messages the right produced (though she warned us of Trump and Putin) and also failing to address the voters about their job and other needs. Healthcare was a touchy thing, as Obamacare was still ongoing, and actually quite expensive for those that did not get any subsidy.

I keep telling myself that few of the Democrats have really grasped Twitter, and it may be too late anyway. The Trump base of some 20% and many others who voted for him are thoroughly convinced they are right. We in fact cannot tell what Trump's deeds are doing now and in the long run, other than in agriculture and trade. Jobs is very up in the air (the definition of "job" is vague) and you would only find out in eight years if he helped you out. It seems that the tax cut, in any case, was small for anyone in the biggest income group.

Have not perused the book on racism and nationalism yet. The index is good, so if you have favorite topics, you can read the sections on that. This book seems to be the only real well researched one on recent elections and the Internet. You do not need to read every page.

My conclusion is that the majority of people who buy and read books are left leaning, but there may be a bit of a rise among Trumpists for a short while. Pro Trump books are a good third or more of the books on the shelf. I got as close to buying a Trump book as I will ever get. I do not want him to be selling books, as much as I like books and want to promote anti-Trump writers. The faster we are done with Trump the better. We can then deal with the white working class a little better, without a populist messing up what they actually want to say. Many state that "Trump speaks how I feel," but there may many topics where they disagree. Trump has capitalized on the fears of the white working class, that they will lose power.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Generalities and Echo Chambers

The impeachment process is unfinished. The country is more divided than ever. The Trumpists are no longer open to any facts, we will just wait to see the next election. If Trump wins, he will also lose the senate. He is then open to more impeachments. There will be more and more Ukraines.


The general belief of the right is that "government is broken" is felt more by the right and the libertarians. The libertarians, because nearly everything the government does is too much, it should just concentrate on infrastructure and keeping us independent as far as water and other resources are concerned.

The right wing in general, though, thinks it is broken, because the few things they want government to do, such as the Trump Wall, are blocked by democrats and judges.  Democrats want more neutral judges, but otherwise think government is fixable.

The left and most of media is anti-Trump. There may be some behind the scenes activity that might be labeled deep state, but it is not as deep as Trumpists think. Yes, the government may be spying on you, but blame Bush. He started Homeland Security.

The echo chamber on the right consists of following Foxnews, Russian controlled social media, One America News Network and the like. They are chasing week after week after "dirt" on democrats in Ukraine. Because Putin directed Trump there. To save his reputation, even if he never was aware of Russian tactics in 2016.

If you want to follow what happened in Ukraine, there is an excellent timeline at Just Security.

LINK

Basically, none of the push to get the Ukraine presidents (first one, then the current one) to announce that they are investigating Joe and Hunter Biden was happening till 2019. All that happened when it was clear Biden would be running. Prior to that there was an effort to explain the 2016 election interference coming from the Ukraine rather than Russia. A thought Putin planted with Trump and Trump was more than willing to promote.

ECHO CHAMBER

The worst part of life on the Internet that is mostly trash and you need to learn to use it properly.  Many, possibly most, people do not understand the Internet. Asking or searching "vaccines cause autism" and "vaccines do not cause autism" gives different results.

But you may not even be searching an issue, the info just comes right at you through Facebook and Twitter. You can use those just for close friends, but even if you just express opinions to a small group of friends, the media still feed you stuff that agrees with what you already think. This is how they get advertisement money, as every link or other item you follow from Facebok gets them income. Click click click. That is their only mission. They do not want to disagree with you.

As a result of this, you are unlikely to get info that is correct, but disagrees with what you have already stated. The social media do not care about facts.

There is a limited part of the Internet that is somewhat reliable. Outside of politics, Wikipedia is very reliable. Google searches that give you mostly published data (it could still be left or right slanted) is Google Scholar.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Post Trump Republican Party


The Republican party has finally achieved something. They lowered taxes under Trump. That may not be what the GOP of the early 2000s was after, because they wanted to cut public spending. But this is the new party. They only want to cut taxes, not spending or deficits. They can achieve things in 2 or 4 year runs. They will be looking for a leader after Trump that has some of the appeal that he had for the working classes. Global warming, coal, foreigners, jobs, taxes. all that carries over from the Trump era. But they will be looking hard for a politician who deals with the media the way Trump did. I presume Twitter will continue. Trump is supreme there, Democrats just add some spice once in a while, and the  Pelosi "don't mess with me" message works in the same way Trump tweets do. But none of them are willing to use Twitter daily. Well, maybe AOC does, not many.

The party is unlikely to ever return to "old Republicans" such as Romney.

It will then be a different world for Republicans, trying to hang on to battleground states like Wisconsin and Michigan. The momentum is lost in Wisconsin, with state internal politics going towards Democrats lately.

The tea party and libertarian wing will always be there. But cutting benefits will not go well with the new Trump era "independents" voting for their party. With any small recession even, the new right will be feeling the effects of Trump era rules on food stamps and other benefits. Farm aid went mostly to big farms and ranches. The small farm suffered under Trump, bankruptcies went up.

The party will survive, but I believe much of the populist appeal will go with Trump. Whether Mitch goes or not, he never had the same appeal. He was simply a Trump enabler.

With the electoral college remaining, the Republicans will still get a president once in a while. The states will hang on to the right of assigning all electoral votes to the winner. Gerrymandering has been blessed by the Trump supreme court. Still, the party will not grow.

Democrats, on the other hand, will have to expand past healthcare. keep or fix the healthcare we have, but move to favor jobs and business. It can be the Warren way, with new energy project, infrastructures etc. But first you have to get a presidency and a senate. The contracts will go to private corporations so watch corruption carefully. The deep state accusations will continue. Even if they are largely fantasy.

The business of politics will continue through lobbying, that we have not been able to stop. Lobbyists can work with either party. Lobbyists have more power than the uneducated voters that went for Trump.

Friday, November 1, 2019

They Hate Taxes -- and Government!



I have gone to demonstrations at the state capitol for the past few years. I know those groups and the type of liberals there pretty well. I also drive around the state doing outdoor activities. I see the other half. It is probably 50% here, or even more in rural counties. In the nation it is some 40%. These are the people that voted for Trump. But they are not going away. They work minimum wage, and you can get by with that in the middle of the land. Rent a one-bedroom apartment or hang on to the little house you inherited. It has a one car garage. The husband leaves the pick-up outside in front of it. It may even be full of junk. This family makes enough to pay a little federal tax. State tax is maybe 2.5%, but there may be a low limit where you do not pay that.

They get something for that state tax. They get roads, they get police and fire while driving around the state. The city collects a tax as well, and property tax goes to pay for public schools. Very few of these people can afford home schooling with a parent staying home. That is for their pastor’s wife, and for a few big shots in their church.

At the gas station I heard a few of these people complaining about the new ¼ cent sales tax added to take care of roads. No bike paths, parks or extra fluff is to be paid out of this. It is for cars. Yet they complain. “What happened to all that other tax I pay to the city?”

It would be fruitless to explain city finances to these people. They do not care. It is fruitless to explain about immigrants and jobs. They do not take any of the jobs that you would take, unless it is mowing or roofing that you do at minimum wage. Outdoor jobs.

In general they do not care about politics. Sometimes they do follow AM radio, where the all the talk can be summarized as “government is bad and it will take away your guns.” But they would not be able to explain city funding, city politics, city officials and services. “I don’t need any services. Just the state park sticker so I can go camping, boating and fishing.”

They buy lottery tickets. It’s like cigarettes and beer, it’s a habit. But even there they are suspicious of the “millions disappearing” into those “Democrat politicians’ pet projects.”  Schools and nature. “We have enough trees already!”

Often, without much knowledge, there is a kind of resentment of someone who is “getting something for free.” They actually are envious of those who are poor enough to be on Medicaid. “That old black guy has COPD, he earned it. Why should I pay for his oxygen tanks?”

The bottom line is that there are millions of people out there who do vote, but get very few facts. Even if they did, they have a mostly libertarian bent in politics. Trump is not the last to use this. We will need to give them something. The infrastructure jobs that would give them a benefit, for example. They may not even know that the contractor they work for is paid by that awful FEDERAL government.

Healthcare

Healthcare does not seem to play a big role in these people's lives. Some may owe a lot to hospitals, mainly for injuries. They seem to mostly avoid doctors.

This means that they will vote for whatever candidate seems to cost them the least. Many may see NOT buying health insurance as a great choice.

Democratic candidates will not win votes based on healthcare. They may eventually be positive towards it, once they have the coverage. Especially if they have kids.