We are constantly listening to discussions about who would gain the advantage – Dems or Repubs, if the deficit negotiations turned out a certain way. Which party would be blamed for the economic implosion or the across the board tax hikes? Democrats are indeed posturing and assessing the perception of their actions vis a vis the other party. Many Republicans however are not.
Most Congressmen run in safe seats and have a 92% chance of being reelected. Their concern is not with an adversary from the opposing party , it’s with the more radical faction(s) within the party that may seek to dump the incumbent during the party
primary. This situation serves to explain the big differences in the two parties. You may argue that both parties are being pushed to their extremes by crazy people but there is no indication of this, as far as party primary voting goes, in the Democratic party. The Republicans however have tea party crazies controlling many primary outcomes. They are succeeding in dumping compromisers like Richard Lugar and choosing morons like Todd Akin.
When a Republican member is pushed by the party’s leadership to vote a certain way for the sake of defeating the Democrats in the next election – he doesn’t care. He knows he’ll beat the Democratic Party challenger. What he’s worried about is if he votes with the party to do something that the right wing crazies at home may call “compromise”, then he’ll be thrown out of office before there is another election.
At the margin, representatives care only about their local reputation and this destroys any chance the party leadership has of sounding or acting like a national (coherent) party. What used to matter was if the party also endorsed you and sent you money. That doesn’t seem to make any difference any more – partly because the Republican party seems so afraid of the fringe that when they get a candidate like Akin they don’t have the nerve or the clout to force him to withdraw. They need a new name for “the party whip” in the case of the GOP.
This creates a negotiating environment where the Dems have leaders, who truly represent the party. They sound coherent and consistent. In the case of the Repubs we are left to speculate about how many may abandon the Norquist pledge and how many will vote with Boehner even if he says he has a deal he likes. The GOP must try to guide the legislative branch and defeat the Democrats, while not alienating the tea party primary voters. How can the party change tactics or update its image with a 5th column lurking in the background.
Boehner is fighting a war on two fronts – that didn’t work out well for the Germans.
For about 200 years citizens in ancient Athens took a vote (once a year) to decide if they wanted to banish some one [or later some group] for 10 years. The idea was that if someone had gained too much power or was causing general distress and mayhem then he could be removed- problem solved. If ancient Rome had had this system then it could have used it on Julius Caesar or Lucius Sulla to prevent them from becoming dictators.
We have a slightly different problem: We have various congressmen and senators who garner sufficient votes locally to be elected and reelected even though their contribution to our national government is either nonexistent or destructive. The voters of a small state or district may have been bamboozled into electing a corrupt loser but why should every other citizen in the union pay a price? In the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan for example, are elected by a very few number of people and yet have considerable power when it comes to setting the agenda and writing new laws. In the Senate we have Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid who seem to have veto power over how their party votes on every bill. It is likely that none of these candidates could survive a national nomination process.
Introducing American Ostracism
Every two years we must be given the chance to also vote to banish from the political scene four Congressman and one Senator. Everyone must vote for someone outside their district or state. The chosen people can never run for national public office (again). This would be a like term limits for the malevolent.
National negative campaigns would be carried out by parties and special interest groups. Let the bashing begin. The candidate list could be established [reduced] during primary season – all primary voters get to vote on this list. The aged and infirm would be natural choices (John McCain), the crazy and extreme would be next (Bernie Sanders). I would add anyone on a science committee who doesn’t believe in evolution. Relatives of former presidents could be blocked before they run (Hillary and Jeb).
Don’t tell me that some good people might get terminated – last I checked we were not suffering from a candidate shortage. Individual parties may want to expand the idea to prevent certain perennial losers from entering their primary sweepstakes again – like Donald Trump or Michelle Bachmann.
Unfortunately banishment is no longer practical so this method could only be applied to politicians. It would be nice to use the Greek method to eliminate evil characters from our political system altogether. Many such people are not candidates or officeholders and removing their right to free speech would be legal – unfortunately.
Since we’re so bad at electing an effective legislative branch we can shake things up by un-electing the befouled weeds that are poisoning our government.
The fiscal cliff has come about because Congress finally recognized their own inability to balance the budget. People go on draconian diets because they admit to themselves that they can’t control their weight and hate to exercise. When the date finally arrives to start the pain people often lose their discipline because it was self imposed. Voters barely care about budgets, they care about jobs so the conviction is weak in Washington and the desire to postpone – infinite.
Americans have completely lost touch with the reality that the US is no longer a wealthy country. It has wealthy citizens; It has some magnificent geography; It has a great history (mainly in the 20th century), but we have spent our savings and need radical surgery.
The US Postal Service serves as a good metaphor. It is a bankrupt anachronism. It is losing $5bn/Qtr and most significant mail is delivered by the private sector. Other than Netflix and the odd Amazon delivery the USPS is in the junk snail mail business. In the not too distant future you will get deliveries every Tuesday and Friday. They will be known as “mail days”. No one will give it a second thought. Everyone gets email- right?
Yet Congress is so corrupt and paralyzed that it can’t excise this massive money losing mess that means almost nothing to everyone. Yes, jobs will be lost and grandma in Iowa may have to wait a day or two for her social security check, but when your government is going broke, cuts must happen and (little) people will get hurt. If a legislator spends all his time worrying about every lost job then he will never have the nerve to cut anything.
I am not a heartless bastard who just had a fight with a miserable postal clerk. I understand that many of these people are low-skilled and most won’t be taken on by UPS. The sad story is that if you send all your jobs offshore and buy everything from Walmart, you are indirectly firing public sector employees because you’ll never take in enough revenue to pay them.
The choice is simple: either fix our trade mess, or start firing millions of people immediately. The key to figuring out how much we can afford is not to look at what the people want or what we spent last year or five years ago. It is to imagine a country full of $7/hr laborers. How much tax revenue do they generate and what kind of Social security and Medicare benefits are appropriate or affordable. We must recalibrate the entire Federal budget and we can’t wait for a good growth period.
This is what a good growth period is when you have giant job killing parasites sucking the life out of your economy.
Do Hollywood producers and directors merely reflect society and common culture or do they define it? Do movies and TV lead or follow?
I don’t have an opinion or an answer. The feedback loops are so influential, it becomes a chicken or egg question. What we do know is that ratings drive content. Like a TV studio, a political party also seeks high ratings. The themes are circumscribed ahead of time – comedy, drama, and sports verses no abortion, trash Obama, and expand defense spending. The crazy fun part has already happened: the media has taken over a political party.
Rush and Sean’s opinions are driven and expressed according to ratings. They will abandon any candidate even in their own party if it improves viewership. Their formula seems to be to tell their listeners that they are the virtuous ones. Their listeners alone are the God fearing, hard working, constitution followers. This approach has earned stellar ratings and has put two books by Bill O’Reilly in the top 10 of the New York Times bestseller list. Who would ever be so crazy as to change this formula?
The Republican party has become controlled by these media figures while it has become apparent that the formula is not successful if one measure it in terms of electoral outcomes. David Frum says “Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex.” All they’ve been doing is telling viewers what they know they want to hear. What’s broken down is the correlation between ratings and electoral college votes.
This is irreconcilable unless a real Republican icon abandons Fox, Rush, Hugh and Laura. If you want to win a small election or get a liitle fame within the party then they are a poison fruit you can’t refuse. If you want to win the Presidency, you’re going to have to make up your own tune and at times anger them- an easy thing to do. Until the ratings for these shows decline appreciably it’s very hard to see anyone doing that without losing “the base”- i.e. More than he may gain.
Fox has won the ratings war against CNN and MSNBC and thereby guaranteed the failure of their Republican party.
Start at the 5:00 minute mark. (email subscribers will have to go the site to see the video.)
Oligarchy= “a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.” (Dictionary.com)
So what’s wrong with that? Maybe a few rich families know what’s best for the rest of us. Third world countries will explain to you that problems tend to appear like:
If you like the scheme then you’ll like the things going on in Russia under Putin. It’s hard to imagine the US succumbing to a group of inbred, self-serving, aristocrats.
Now that the election is over, one of the first things the media will discuss is who the candidates will be in 2016. Two brand new shiny faces! Will it be Hillary,Jeb, Rubio ,Cuomo …?
There are 300 million people in the US. What are the odds that the best person for this job just happens to be the wife or brother of a former President? Fame apparently trumps competency. Political parties would like us to think that marriage or common bloodlines transfer special gifts that allow a person to rule over us – like royal lineage bequeathed by God. Barak Obama came a little out of left field which seemed like a good thing until he brought in Rubin and Summers – expecting them to proffer advice about a mess they created. Why should we expect any better ideas from another Clinton or another Bush?
I confess I am a huge fan of term limits. I’d like to add another component to that amendment – all family members and cabinet ministers can only serve in one administration, maximum. Dick Cheney could not be resurrected from Bush 1, there would have never been Bush 2 and Warren Christopher would have stayed retired. The list of retreads and recycled human waste is vast. We don’t need their old ideas.Universities, think tanks and the private sector are loaded with fresh blood.
Everyone is mourning the departure of David Petraeus as though a great historical figure has left the battlefield. He was an “American hero”. Really? Quick – name me one heroic act he performed or one great battle he won.
Petraeus was a general while we occupied Iraq. It’s hard to rack up merit points in a history book when your main claim to fame was an occupation that was undertaken for no apparent reason and achieved nothing (we could have just bombed Saddam with cruise missiles and drones). It cost a fortune and killed lots of people .
Then he went on to the occupation of Afghanistan – that worked out well: no real battles, no apparent reduction of Taliban power, no buildup of a powerful indigenous force. All for $70 bn/yr.
Next was the CIA- an entity that is only famous for failure. Other than the guy who got a medal from George 2nd, can you even name another CIA director? These people come and go with no apparent change in the culture or effectiveness of that agency. We can just add the Petraeus name to the anonymous list.
What’s clear is that David is a star inside the beltway. “How could such an honorable disciplined man do such a thing?” Spare me. His weakness for female flesh is neither original nor interesting. Washington builds up the reputation of its military commanders as part of its propaganda effort to defend or justify its most recent military boondoggle. There can be no great stories associated with an occupation. Heroes do not come from the defeat or subjugation of third world nations. Petraeus is a municipal star.
Quick – who was the last indispensable general in Afghanistan, worshipped like a god by the press, and fired for insubordination? I bet you’ve already forgotten his name.
On election night Brian Williams referred to Donald Trump as having ” driven past the last exit to relevance”. I think that all media outlets should have a list of politicians and pundits who have been so wrong or are so clearly moronic that they should never be heard from again. They can all start with my list:
Senator Bernie Sanders
If someone does not represent a significant constituency, consistently displays no grasp of the issues (or a specific discipline), or has no record of being right in the last five years on any subject – then they have no right to exist in the public square.
A political party is supposed to be nothing more than a set of ideas. We can divide the ideas into two categories: principles and policies. The principles are the things that keep families in a certain party for multiple generations. Policies adjust over time in relation to existing economic and social conditions but usually in sympathy with party principles.
The Democrats believe:
Government should play a role as a provider to the sick and needy.
Health Care should be a right not a luxury.
Government must play a role as an overseer of corporations to prevent corruption, pollution and negative economic distortions due to greed.
When “tea party” candidates are given a broader regional stage (running for the senate) or a national one (as VP), their stupidity gets exposed to the light. Real interviews are hard.
Running for the Presidency does seem to require some policy ideas that stand up to analysis – not many but a few.
Young people do vote – even when there are no issues of consequence being decided – who knew?
If a party chooses to embrace anti-intellectualism then it may at times look really dumb since there is no one in the room with a brain to correct or advise candidates. Voters are offered lame races based on settled issues and assininity.
The Republican party needs to either divorce or reconcile. During its primary season, all the hard liners come out to squawk about social issues, denounce evolution and advocate for the destruction of the Federal government. Then they pick John McCain and Mitt Romney – two candidates from the party’s left wing (??). Schizophrenia won’t win elections or resolve ideological disputes.
In the end we get Barak again so the good news is that all the crazies at the back of the Republican bus won’t be crashing the inauguration ball. The problem is that status quo Obama has shown no interest in attacking the hard problems that persist.
Conservative policies like magical tax cuts that increase revenue have contributed to a denunciation of all Republican policies by most intellectuals. Here’s a challenge – find 5 conservative policies that are unequivocally, indisputably correct:
Free markets allocate resources more efficiently than regulated markets. You may not like your allocation but experiments with market interference (Stalin, Mitterand) have been spectacular failures.
Uncontrolled illegal immigration is bad for America. We have 300 million people, and an unemployment rate among the poorly educated of 20% – allowing in more uneducated people makes zero sense. Letting in an unlimited number of them is insanity.