Democrats Have Embraced Complexity and Mystification – Which People HATE. Simplify, Dems, Simplify!

One of the things I’ve seen over 20 years working in corporate law has been the increasing complexity of transactions to the point that no one of the attorneys working on the deals even understands the entire deal.  Incredibly complex, baroque even corporate structures are created to take advantage of tax laws.  The CEOs are sold on the tax savings, but the legal fees for these deals are so astronomical that it’s hard to imagine they’re actually saving money.

The lawyers and the corporate executives get all chummy and clubby, after all many of them went to the same schools, live in the same neighborhoods, vacation in the same toney enclaves, send their kids to the same schools.  They trust each other’s expert advice. In such cases, nobody really gets hurt except maybe the stockholders.  But in government, that chumminess and trust between members of the same class can screw a lot of people.

One symptom of the takeover of the Democratic Party by the technocrats and professionals, like the executives and lawyers, is that there’s this trust in complexity that only the experts can fathom.  Dodd Frank and Obamacare are perfect examples. Simpler alternatives were rejected for pages and pages of intricacy and mechanisms that the politicians can’t even explain. They’re relying on the experts to even know what they’re voting on. Experts are fine. necessary.  But when you create legislation that chooses complexity over simplicity, do not be too surprised if the public bolts.  Besides giving your opposition the ammunition to destroy you (the bill is thousands of pages!!), even your allies have trouble defending it all.

Bringing back Glass-Steagall was simple – separate commercial banks from their investment brokerage components and make them compete with each other.  22,000 pages of regulations and loopholes not necessary.

Single-payer or a public option were simple – government becomes the insurance company like Medicare.  10,000 pages and Rube Goldberg mechanisms not necessary.

Point being that the simpler solutions may have actually addressed our problems better from a policy standpoint AND from a political standpoint.

The complexity and mystification, trusting the “experts” to figure out answers that we can’t understand no less explain to the public in a sentence is part of what’s killing the Democratic Party electorally with the working class.

I’ve said that we have to admit where Bill Clinton sold out a lot of the natural Democratic constituency and hurt us electorally.

We also have to be able to admit that Obama made some very bad decisions regarding financial regulation and healthcare that continued the Clinton direction of making us look like we’re in bed with Wall Street and healthcare insurers and not fighting for people.

P.S. It occurs to me after reading this Nation critique of a new book about Andrew Jackson that certain factions in the party Jackson helped to found have completely done a 180 on trusting the bankers and financiers that Jackson found so revolting and undemocratic.  Especially since 2008 it’s unwise to declare unconditional trust in the Wall Street moguls in public, and both Clintons and Obama talked a good game against them – but their actions, who they put in their cabinets, contradicted their words and evinced a dedication to those people that has not served us well. Trump, on the GOP side, has done the same exact thing. Dems are unequivocal in stating that Trump sold out his followers.  Honesty dictates we need to be as clear in our thinking about our own avatars.

Reasons the Infinity Why You Should Never Elect a Donald Trump to Public Service

Never forget, it’s public service.  Something Trump has never, ever, ever done.  Ever. That was reason 1.

Tuesday saw two more manifestations of why it was completely irresponsible to vote for the orange man.

  1. His response to crazy North Korean leader’s crazy was to match crazy for crazy instead of calm, cool, sane leadership.

President Trump’s threat to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea sent a shudder through Asia on Wednesday, raising alarm among allies and adversaries and, to some observers, making the possibility of military conflict over the North’s nuclear program seem more real.

Trump has asked too many times why we haven’t used nuclear weapons, in public.

Now hopefully somebody explained Hiroshima and Nagasaki to him. We’ll know soon when he announces:

Turns out we did drop nuclear weapons before. Nobody knew.  Over Japan, a long time ago Harry Truman, a Democrat, dropped some bombs.  Some say good move, some say bad move.  Incredible power, total devastation. I mean nobody knew what these things would do and people are saying that it’s unthinkable to use them again. Did you know that?  Nobody knew.  Unthinkable is strong.  I mean I can think good.

2. Trump’s attention deficit disorder turns out is limited to anything he needs to know, like briefings on critical issues.  Those have to be limited to a half page, a page at most, with pictures and charts.  But he has limitless ability to absorb and limitless need to consume positive propaganda about himself.

Vice: Trump gets a folder full of positive news about himself twice a day.

Twice a day since the beginning of the Trump administration, a special folder is prepared for the president. The first document is prepared around 9:30 a.m. and the follow-up, around 4:30 p.m. Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer both wanted the privilege of delivering the 20-to-25-page packet to President Trump personally, White House sources say.

He is literally the absolute last person to allow into the Oval Office, the worst possible personality make up for a president you can imagine.

But here we are.

 

 

 

Worst Person in the Senate Not Ted Cruz

Ron Johnson says McCain’s brain tumor might have been a factor in his no vote on healthcare repeal.

“Again, I’m not going to speak for John McCain, you know, he has a brain tumor right now. That vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning, some of that might have factored in,” Johnson said, speaking to the radio hosts of “Chicago Morning Answer.”

Some say Ron Johnson was constipated all day before being asked for his remarks. That might have factored into his douchiness.

 

We All Know Dems Will Lose and All and Yet Some Insist on Winning

It’s really good business in the mainstream media to shit on the odds of Democrats winning anything while nobody ever went broke predicting that Trump will win re-election despite 60% of the country hating his guts.

So it’s always a surprise when a Democrat wins anything like Dr. Phil Miller winning a seat in Iowa by 10 points in a district that Trump won by 21.

In every special election so far, no matter how red the district the margins have compressed.  Not all of them compressed enough to give Dems the win, but those who ignore that trend, while wonderfully cynical and glib, are being counter intuitive.

 

 

Coming Into Focus – Bill Clinton’s Shadow Loomed Over 2000 and 2016 Damaging Democratic Credibility With Working People

We know about NAFTA, the trade pact that the Tom Friedman/David Brooks corporatist elite said was necessary to address the unalterable evolution of the world economy and an entire class of professional economists said it would be a net positive for the American economy.  It was if you were a stockholder, not if you were a worker.

We know about the deregulation of the financial industry, telecommunications, airlines, etc.  George W. Bush got the blame but Bill signed FDR’s legacy of New Deal regulatory schemes away claiming them to be “archaic.”

We know about the draconian crime bills – more prisons, zero tolerance, Three Strikes laws, “truth in sentencing” provisions, mandatory minimums, increasing the number of capital crimes, the truly criminal 100 to 1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, etc.  The “first black president” expanded the drug war and made America the biggest prison country in the world.

We know about welfare reform and the erosion of the social safety net that Clinton created with Newt Gingrich.  They also agreed on a framework to privatize Social Security.  A blue dress stopped that.

So many egregiously anti-worker and racist Republican initiatives pushed by Democrat Bill Clinton, who said at various times that such acts were absolutely necessary and also very regrettable.  He lied over and over again about the necessity of his Republican collaboration for political reasons.  As a strategy it even had its own name – “triangulation”.

Clinton ran as a populist who felt worker’s pain, but he governed as a New Democrat who was dedicated to imposing discipline on poor people and endless indulgence on the people of his own class.

Bill Clinton’s presidency purposefully disconnected the FDR coalition from the Democratic Party and alienated the working class.

Whether it was fair or not Hillary Clinton and the entire Democratic Party has suffered for that disconnection.  The party itself has defended and celebrated Bill Clinton for so long that it hasn’t come to terms with that massive break of faith with a lot of the party base.  The New Democrats made it the party of professionals so the working class had no place to turn.  In that light it’s not such a mystery that many of them turned to Trump.

Of course Democrats have to come up with an economic message and a rallying cry.  But we need to recognize what happened in the 90s and categorically state that we recognize the break that happened and the damage done and our intention to revive the FDR coalition and be the party of workers once again.

With Trump it’s All About the Grift

The Mystery of Nicole Mincey, Trump fan, merchandise saleswoman, Twitter bot.

Over the weekend Trump retweeted a positive comment from this young black woman Trump supporter.  By Sunday night:

Nicole’s twitter account and all her pro-Trump ‘friend’ bot accounts I’d identified had been suspended by Twitter. (So a lot of things I described above I can’t show you since they’re offline.) There was also a woman in New Jersey by the name of Nicole Mincey who allegedly filed a police report alleging her identity had been stolen to create the “Nicole Mincey” persona. The merch store “Nicole” had founded, proTrump45.com, was and is still online but she’d disappeared from the site to be replaced by a new dark complected young woman modeling pro-Trump shirts.

Trump said last week “there were no Russians in the campaign.”  Next he’ll say there were no robots in the campaign.  I don’t know any Macedonian robots, do you?

 

Grand Jury, Already? And Not a Moment Too Soon

Well, well, well.  This still doesn’t mean anything truly meaningful is going to happen soon, but this train has surely left the station.

Sources tell Reuters that “grand jury subpoenas have been issued related to [a] June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Russian lawyers and others.” Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, met with a Russian lawyer last summer after being promised information that was part of a Russian government effort to benefit Trump and would “incriminate” Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton.

In the meantime we can be somewhat entertained by the transcripts of the absolute joke that is our President on the phone with other world leaders.  It’s so much worse than we could have imagined.  But we have proof now of that fact for his deluded supporters to ignore.

Well, Canada is no problem – do not worry about Canada, do not even think about them.

Up in New Hampshire – I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den

If that is the case my Executive Order does not mean anything Malcom [sic]. I look like a dope.

How will his daughter-in-law the anchorwoman spin this?

So 2018?

Everything pivots on the 2018 election and Democrats getting back one chamber.  All of the despair, the waling and gnashing of teeth over having to live with four years of Trump chaos and flim flam depends on Democrats being able to stymie or impeach his ass.  So where are we?

Well, as I’ve said we need a better slogan.  “A Better Deal” might as well be “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”.

REBUILD THE MIDDLE CLASS, REBUILD AMERICA!

I’ll persist with that notion.  But in the meantime Dems have a 14 point lead in the generic congressional poll, according to Quinnipiac.  Not bad.

Fifty-two percent of those polled said they would want Democrats to win control of the House if the 2018 midterm elections were held today; 38 percent said they would back Republicans.

Of course you need actual candidates, not generic ones.  Hopefully there are a shit load of Amy McGrath’s out there.  We only need 24 pickups.  It’s doable in a wave election.  a 14 point generic is pretty good.  For context, the 2006 Democratic wave election had the Dems up by an 11.5 average in polling.  They picked up 31 seats that year.

For the Senate the polling is also favorable but it comes down to the individuals more. For example AZ Sen. Jeff Flake has an 18% approval rating in his state, which is awfully hard for a senator to achieve.  That’s Christie territory.

Keep that up, adopt my slogan and maybe in January 2019 impeachment proceedings begin.  I know that seems soooooo far off, we’ll never make it!!!!

Courage, good nutrition and a little exercise can get us all to that much wished for date of destiny.

And every now and then some tequila helps.  Eschew the salt if you have blood pressure issues.

tequila images

Finally Reading Thomas Frank’s “Listen Liberal: or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People?”

5120ZCDtVTL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_    The Democratic Party is in a major transition period and it’s not the ever-continuing, ever-pointless Hillary-Bernie debate or the frustrating identity politics (read: minorities) vs. reaching out to angry white people pie fight, although elements of those fights are in the bigger fight.  The bigger issue has been that a generation of education and globalization fetishists took over the party with the idea that the New Deal coalitions with their emphasis on working people was over, dead, an anachronism.  It was a deliberate move from the left to the middle-right, to be Republicans lite.  It abandoned unions, working people, inequality and class politics in general for a technocratic, meritocratic faith in our betters in academia and Wall Street.

Not to be too simplistic about it but to echo Dr. Phil:  how is that working out for you?

As bad as the Republican Party has been at governing, as mistaken as they’ve been at policy, as cynical as they’ve been at campaigning and as dishonest as they’ve been in communicating their actual agenda, they run everything.  And also, too, in addition EVERYBODY FEARS REPUBLICANS AND NOBODY FEARS DEMOCRATS, as I believe I’ve said ad nauseam.  The Democratic Party that dominated American politics from the 30s through the 70s abandoned its ideological base and core message and now their identity is less clear than ever to the benefit of the awful GOP.

Sure there was the race issue that moved the South to the GOP, nobody can forget that – that’s as real as a Confederate flag sticker on a gun rack on a truck.  But it’s a convenient fantasy to believe that racism alone and the Dems adoption of voting rights and civil rights in the 60s caused the decimation of the party in the South and diminution of the party in the West and North.  It sure doesn’t explain Ralph Nader voters in 2000, Jill Stein voters in 2016 and the general malaise towards Democrats today.

Even the talk radio/Fox Newsification of the country where citizens are more inundated with opinion than ever and less informed than ever can explain the GOP’s success at the cost of Democrats.  Like the fast food revolution and the stratospheric increase of cheap, low quality calories has created our obesity epidemic, the Roger Ailes strategy of destroying legitimate media and replacing it with GOP culture warrior talking points has made a country of fat heads.  It’s a bad trend that has only gotten worse in the Trump era of deliberate, bald faced propaganda.  But even taken with the race issue it doesn’t explain an unresponsive, K Street dominated, corporatist and Christianist GOP dominating governor’s mansions and state legislatures.

None of those cynical Republican strategy wins (along with voter suppression) could be as successful as it has been in pushing a bankrupt GOP agenda if the Democrats hadn’t allowed their brand to become wishy-washy and wither.

The condensed version is that Bill Clinton ran a deceptive populist campaign in 1992 but with the Democratic Leadership Conference he and other New Democrats deliberately killed off the FDR coalitions believing that the future was in education, globalization and retraining for a shrinking world – the Tom Friedman, David Brooks centrist utopia.  A lot of economic trends that they weren’t wrong about, but they were wrong to limit their focus on.

These paragraphs from Thomas explains how it all went wrong:

Today the separation of productivity from reward is a feature of nearly every sort of work–white-collar, blue-collar; symbolic, literal; physical, mental; analytic, representational; all of us going nowhere while owners ascend the stratosphere.  But because it happened to production workers first, it was possible for Democrats like Reich and Clinton to look at the situation and conclude that the real problem was those workers’ lousy educations.

It was a costly mistake.  While this interpretation might have made a kind of narcissistic sense to the well-graduated, it allowed Democrats to ignore what was happening in the real economy–from monopoly power to financialization to labor-management relations– in favor of a moral fantasy that required them to confront no one.  In the Clinton view, which would become the standard Democratic view, the only ones who had to change their ways were the victims themselves.

As a sample of how this went wrong look to the corporate Democrats who, for a time, pushed charter schools and privatization.  Democrats have come back to public schools as a policy and have only recently come to see the problems with cost and debt in higher education and pushing junior colleges.  They have yet to truly embrace the need for vocational schools and competent blue-collar training and certification – which then should lead to good union jobs.

The focus on a four year university degree as well as their benign neglect for unions, blinded them to the reality of the larger economic struggles for working people.  They would never admit it, but they adopted the fantasy that we can have a country with just high educated, white-collar workers who all have a house in the suburbs.

That sounds crazy, but their policy prescriptions, from Clinton through the Obama Administration, seemed to be created for that non-existent world.  Hillary started to come back to Earth with the push of the Sanders revolution, but it was incomplete and unconvincing for too many.

Once Again Nuclear Power is Killed

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Nuclear power has suffered so many deaths and then… not come back. There’s no zombie issues here, it’s been dead, completely dead, bereft of life, kicked the bucket, a former energy source for a long time.  Why some in the policy community pretend it isn’t dead is the question. Every reference to nuclear as part of the energy mix is as relevant as references to non-existent “clean coal.”

Two Half-Built Reactors in SC Are Abandoned rather than continue and pass on exorbitant costs to consumers.  They completed about 40% of the reactors for a cost of $9 Billion.  I’m sorry, I would continue but I’m laughing too hard.

I have to go check my portfolio to make sure I’m not a stockholder in South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper and their parent Scana Corporation.  They are idiots to have started these reactors in the first place.  Not one, but two of them.  So no credit for cutting their losses now.