It Took One Mass Shooting To Ban Assault Weapons in NZ. American Exceptionalism Means Exceptionally Corrupt, Fearful and Suckered

Just one really big shooting and done.

We know why it hasn’t happened here.  Money in politics, legal bribery, made the NRA  an exceptionally powerful lobbying group.  Using that money to keep politicians from listening to the majority of their constituents, along with stoking a constant banshee yell from the rabid gun owning minority has kept both parties (although now it’s largely just one party), has kept US from achieving the obvious.

Americans who are used to their government reacting to mass shootings with no more than “thoughts and prayers” may be surprised by the swift reaction. It’s partly because the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its sway over the gun control debate is an American phenomenon. But the fast changes are also possible because New Zealand’s parliamentary system makes it possible for the ruling coalition to turn ideas into reality quickly.

It’s not just guns, it’s of course why we’re behind the rest of the industrialized world on climate change, health care, child care, worker’s rights, etc. and why trying to bring us up to the level of the happier nations in the world seem so radical. We are suckers. We are absolutely being taken by our own society, owned by the elites or self-owned by our own cowardice, but we are living like rubes.

What this phenomenon feeds is the soul shattering fear that trying to do what we need to do, what other countries did decades ago, is radical and we have to shy away from asking for too much from our government.  Even advocating for these very simple things will make you unelectable.  Of course that’s a self-fulfilling prophesy whereby the  modest,  so-called centrists are said to be more serious and more electable.  So we’ve elected them and they’ve accommodated the fearful and achieved little.

By the way, this is mostly a phenomenon for Democrats and leftists.  Being archly conservative has made you more electable to the Republican base without all that much push back from the media who are loathe to call way out of the mainstream Republicans or their proposals “radical.” Lots of very radical, profoundly damaging legislation has been passed over the last 40 years, on a state and federal level, that caused the great disruptions to the middle class, the rising inequality, the diminution of unions, the rollbacks on access to health care for women, etc.

Initiatives to fix the improvements, ie. restore the middle class and common sense and just fucking make American life easier, less stressful and happier are always a hard sell even to the people who recognize that they’re fine ideas… but, you can’t try to push those ideas or we’ll looooooooose.  Starting to ask what winning means if the winners won’t fix anything and we continue down the conservative/neoliberal road to middle class serfdom.

For the third year in a row, the U.S. has dropped in the ranking and now sits at No. 19, one spot lower than last year, according to the report produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a U.N. initiative. The top three spots this year were occupied by Finland, Denmark and Norway. At the bottom were Afghanistan, Central African Republic and South Sudan.



When a Neoliberal Makes the Case For the Left, You Listen

As we get into the 2020 Democratic nomination fight it’s important to get into the nitty gritty of policy, not just who is hard on their staff or whose single payer healthcare plan is more progressive.  Of course it will be awful, we’re already splitting hairs on whether a candidate that prioritizes economic fairness for everybody is not sufficiently devoted to racial equality, when they marched and protested for such racial equality before the other candidates were born.  We’re approaching that fork in the road where “Morning Joe” resumes being unwatchable for liberals again as they go from 2 years of “we hate Trump as much as anybody” to “you better nominate a moderate or you’ll give us more Trump” for the next 2 years.  Well, that’s a debate we will have between now and July 2020.

Brad DeLong is an economist I’ve read for a long time despite being a reasonable, but reliable neoliberal on a lot of issues.  He was part of the Clinton administration and teaches at U.C. Berkeley.  He describes himself as a “Rubin Democrat” referring to Clinton Treasury Secretary and Citigroup Chairman Robert Rubin – which must be to neoliberals as redheads named O’Riley are to the Irish – hardcore brother, hardcore.   In an interview in Vox, DeLong explains why neoliberal policy thinking has been an utter failure and “the baton rightly passes to our colleagues on the left.”

DeLong largely recognizes that the political reality that made any sort of bipartisanship, or what Clintonites called “triangulation,” the savvy, inside the beltway way to govern has been rendered foolish because of the militarization of the Republican party.

We were certainly wrong, 100 percent, on the politics.

Barack Obama rolls into office with Mitt Romney’s health care policy, with John McCain’s climate policy, with Bill Clinton’s tax policy, and George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy. He’s all these things not because the technocrats in his administration think they’re the best possible policies, but because [White House adviser] David Axelrod and company say they poll well.

And [Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel and company say we’ve got to build bridges to the Republicans. We’ve got to let Republicans amend cap and trade up the wazoo, we’ve got to let Republicans amend the [Affordable Care Act] up the wazoo before it comes up to a final vote, we’ve got to tread very lightly with finance on Dodd-Frank, we have to do a very premature pivot away from recession recovery to “entitlement reform.”

All of these with the idea that you would then collect a broad political coalition behind what is, indeed, Mitt Romney’s health care policy and John McCain’s climate policy and George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy.

And did George H.W. Bush, did Mitt Romney, did John McCain say a single good word about anything Barack Obama ever did over the course of eight solid years?

No, they fucking did not. No allegiance to truth on anything other than the belief that John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell are the leaders of the Republican Party, and since they’ve decided on scorched earth, we’re to back them to the hilt.

What Obama didn’t seem to learn until his second term was that when the other side is taking scalps, there’s little room for moderation and accommodation.  The situation with the GOP has only gotten more dire since then with the party’s further devolution to a cult of personality around a madman.  There is no dealing to be made. There is only winning and losing and that is only done by convincing the broader electorate that you have policies that will make their lives better and inspiring them to come out to vote in overwhelming numbers.

DeLong notes an interesting nuance to what works in politics now that is relevant to the moderate’s cry that you better not go too far or you alienate the mushy middle of the electorate.

The first lesson is the Gingrich lesson: If you’re in a swing state, you lose your seat if the president of your party is perceived to be a failure. The highest priority for Blue Dogs in red and purple states — in 1994 and in 2010 — ought to have been making it clear the president of their party was a great success.

If there is a good state of the world in 2021 — the Lord willing and the creek don’t rise — everyone and all Blue Dogs in office needs to recognize that and act on that.

2020 should be a continuation of the 2018 Blue Wave as the GOP has to defend an ocean of indefensible failure and corruption.  The impulse of the Morning Joes and, yes, many many Democrats  will be to play prevent defense – just don’t overreach and you’ll win this thing.  Any sports fan will get my reference to “prevent defense” as a pejorative – it rarely works and it’s a bad strategy for Dems too.

DeLong’s observation absolutely applies to the Dems in this election cycle as it did to the outsider party in 1994 and 2010 midterms.  In 2020 those moderates across the country in purpler districts will not succeed if they abandon their party and go mealy mouthed.  It’s go big, and stay united in a cause – get the Senate and the WH and expand the majority in the House.  To do that you get on board with the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, etc. and explain the fuck out of it to their constituents in ways they can grasp as being important and beneficial priorities for a country that needs big bold ideas.  Ideological collaboration with the GOP will doom them.  That will seem counterintuitive to many who are fearful of the Sanders/AOC left.   But time has come to trust the left, they have the baton.  Root like hell.