This is what war looks like

Byline: | Category: Culture, Economy, Ethics, Government, Taxes & Spending, Uncategorized, wine | Posted at: Friday, 5 December 2014

Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised New York City a war on smoking.  War is what they got.

eric-garner-police-brutality-ramsey-orta

 

While it didn’t do so explicitly, New York’s progressive government decided that smoking was so bad that it was worth killing over.  You may accuse me of hyperbole, but consider that when government passes and enforces any law, it has taken the decision to use the State’s coercive powers against the non-compliant.  Above is a picture of what the law’s coercive powers look like, what a war on smoking looks like.  The “war” in this picture does not look like hyperbole to me.

The law that led to Eric Garner’s death was a prohibition on the selling of loose, untaxed cigarettes.  In other words, Eric Garner was a bootlegger.

Any time that government restricts a willing buyer and a willing seller from agreeing upon a price, a black market will develop.  It is a rule as old as mankind.  During the first Progressive era, the rule was Prohibition and the black market was big.

Eighty-eight Christmases ago sixty New Yorkers lay violently ill in the hospital.  Eight already had died.  The culprit was poisoned alcohol.  But the criminal mind behind the culprit was the government itself.

During Prohibition, alcohol still could be produced.  It was needed in the manufacture of paints and solvents.  So to legally produce it, the government required it to be “denatured”.  Usually that was done with the addition of poisonous methyl alcohol.  But it was a simple chemist’s trick to turn methyl alcohol into ethyl alcohol, which could then be drunk.  By 1926, thousands of amateur chemists were performing that trick and thereby skirting Prohibition’s rules. They had to be stopped.  It was the law, after all, and the law had to be enforced.  So the federal government required the addition of toxic chemicals in industrial alcohol.  The additives included kerosene, strychnine, and formaldehyde.  All are highly poisonous if ingested.  By Prohibition’s end an estimated ten-thousand drinkers were dead.

The ten-thousand were collateral damage.  Nay, they were actively violating the law.  They weren’t just innocent bystanders, but were enemy combatants in the war on drink.  They deserved to die.  After all, they were violating the law.  And if we shrink from enforcing the law, people will cease to have respect for it.

Over the last dozen years, New York City was the central front in the second progressive era’s war on smoking.  Mayor Bloomberg was that front’s field marshal.  He raised the legal age to purchase cigarettes to 21, prohibited smoking in all restaurants, attempted to prohibit it in parks and even apartments, and both he and his successor increased taxes step by step to an absurdly high$5.85 per pack.  At that price the black market is big.  But all this was necessary, Bloomberg and Deblasio have said, because 6,000 New Yorkers die every year from the effects of smoking.

In the war on smoking Eric Garner was an enemy combatant.  And for that offense, the supporters of New York’s war on smoking determined that he deserved to die.  I trust they’re happy with the result.

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After Tuesday,100% of Republicans do too

Byline: | Category: Uncategorized | Posted at: Friday, 7 November 2014

Poll:  39% of Democrats want Obama to run for a third term.

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Some thoughts in the immediate aftermath

Byline: | Category: Uncategorized | Posted at: Wednesday, 5 November 2014

In no particular order, here are some thoughts 12 hours after the first polls started closing:

1.  Harry Reid is a HUGE loser.  He and his party paid dearly for failing to do what every Senate Majority Leader before him did:  Protect the dignity of the Senate.

It used to be said that the Senate contained 99 members who looked in the mirror every morning and saw the next president looking back at him, and 1 member who didn’t want to be president because, as the Senate Majority Leader, he already thought that he was more powerful.  Let’s be blunt:  Harry Reid spent the last six years being President Obama’s water boy.

Popular House bills died in the Senate because the White House told Harry Reid to not let them get to the President’s desk.  Harry Reid rammed unpopular bills (Obamacare) through without any Republican input, because the President refused to negotiate.  When the President couldn’t get his controversial nominees through confirmation, Harry Reid scrapped the filibuster (which I bet the Senate Minority Leader now wishes was a power he still had).  Harry Reid never gave Senate Dems the power to distance themselves from the President on bills like Keystone Pipeline approval or approval of popular amendments to Obamacare because the White House said no.  Instead, Obama flagrantly usurped Congress’ Constitutional legislative authority via executive orders, and Harry Reid let him get away with it.  Harry Reid was not the Senate Majority Leader; he was the Senate Liaison Officer to the White House. He protected the President’s ego instead of the dignity of the Senate and his own Senate majority.  For being a eunuch, Harry Reid deserves the axe.

2.  Harry Reid will not be the Senate Minority Leader.  For one thing, see point #1 above.  For another, he is a Democratic Senator from a purplish state.  After yesterday there are a lot fewer of those than there were before.  “Moderate” Dems took a beating last night.  That means that the remaining Democrats will be both fewer and bluer on average than they were before.  Prediction:  Chuck Schumer will be the Senate Minority Leader. Say what you want about him, I don’t think that anyone doubts that if confronted with a situation that threatens Chuck Schumer, that Schumer will tell Obama to twist himself into an anatomically impossible sexual position.  If Nevada had a Democratic governor, Harry Reid would likely resign within the month.  Even with Republican Brian Sandoval appointing a successor, Reid still might resign just to spite the President and his colleagues.  But he has only himself to blame.

3.  Democrats have a serious problem with the kind of industrial union and rural white voters they once had in their camp.  I looked in great detail at Kentucky before the race and during the release of the results. Compared with 2010, Mitch McConnell did slightly worse than did Rand Paul in Jefferson County (Louisville), in Fayette County (Lexington), and in the three ring Cincinnati suburban counties (Boone, Campbell, and Kenton).  Looking at just those three areas which contain the states largest urban black population, its student population, and its middle and upper middle class populations, the results looked exactly like the polls indicated:  a McConnell win of about eight points, and a GOP performance that would fall short of 2010 levels.  Instead, Mitch McConnell won by double the expected amount.  And exactly as I predicted, Kentucky would tell us all that we need to know about how the rest of the night was going to unfold.

We’ll need to look at more exit polls and additional states to have a better idea, but here’s what I think happened.  The Democratic message is an exclusionary one:  It says to America that if you’re not black, a single female, or a government worker, you’re part of the American problem.  I think that when the analysis is done we’ll learn that the overt appeals to racism turned off more white voters than it brought blacks to the polls.  And if this is true, it’s good news.  That’s because it might finally be the beginning of the end of the cynical Democrat-driven racial division in this country.  That said, I fully expect Democrats to try it one more time in 2016.  For one thing, I don’t see the President changing (see below), and for another, they really don’t have anything else to fall back on.  (For example: not the “war on women”.)

You’ll hear Democrats justify last night’s abysmal loss by saying that it was typical of a mid-term result. But what they might not realize is that with absolutely no upside left in the black vote, it only takes a little bit of a change in a white electorate seven times as large to completely overwhelm a black electoral advantage.  In other words, from a strictly numerical perspective, the party that has a problem with 12% of the electorate has a much smaller problem than does the party that is falling behind with 70% of the electorate.

4.  Democrats also have a serious problem with other minorities.  They won Asians by only one point. Four years before, Democrats took the Asian vote 58-40.  They also lost support among “other”.  In 2010, Democrats took that electorate 53-44.  Yesterday the margin was down to 50-46.  Asians and “other” are a each only 2% of the vote, but the 5-point and 18-point slippage among Dems with those groups, is not insignificant.

Message to Democrats:  Just as it should be obvious to you by now that not all women think and vote alike, not all minorities think and vote alike either.  Duh.

But here’s where the exit polls disagree with each other.  The white percentage of the electorate this year was 2% smaller and virtually unchanged in its outcome (60-37 in 2010 and 60-38 in 2014).  This should have translated to a smaller GOP lead.  The black percentage of the electorate also was virtually unchanged (89-9 in 2010 and 89-10 in 2014) and the black electorate climbed to 12% versus 11% in 2010.  Dems also gained with Latinos, going from 60-38 to 63-35, while the Latino portion of the electorate stayed stable at 8%.

In other words, the exit polls actually indicate a slight Democratic improvement over the 2010 result.  This is consistent with what happened in the key counties I analyzed in Kentucky.  And it is consistent with pre-election polls.  But is not consistent with the actual result.

Theory:  Pollsters don’t weight for urbanicity, and as a result, completely missed the disdain that rural Americans have for the Democratic Party.  A county by county look at the results might bear this out. Either that, or the exit polls were completely wrong.  (These are not necessarily mutually exclusive results.)

5.  Don’t fuck with football.  Ed Gillespie ran one spot during MNF the night before election day.  It belittled Harry Reid for diminishing the Senate by taking up a bill to force the NFL to change the name of the Redskins.  Red or Blue, everybody in the Washington area unites about the Redskins.  The two biggest earth-shattering results last night occurred in the Virginia Senate race where nobody had Ed Gillespie within 9 points of Mark Warner, and in the Maryland Governor race where no public poll released in 2014 had the Republican candidate in the lead.  Maryland and Virginia is Redskin fan base.

But let’s take this beyond football.  This ad and the controversy around it was emblematic of the Democrat’s problems.  Americans want their leaders to be serious and to offer serious solutions about serious problems.  Re-naming a football team is not serious.  Voters in those two areas rebuked Democrats for their frivolity.  Oh, and don’t fuck with football.

6.  The donkey in the room.  (Actually the saying is about an elephant, but you know what I mean.)  The donkey in the room is Barack Obama.  The American people have judged him to be a failure.  He is now the lamest of lame ducks.  Before the 2006 midterms, President Bush went into his final two years with  55 seats in the Senate and  232 in the House.  After the the opposing party holding 51 senate seats and 233 seats.  Barack Obama watched the opposition party gain even greater control than happened eight years before.  Republicans will likely control 54 senate seats and about 248 House seats.

More succinctly: Barack Obama took a bigger beating in 2014 than George W. Bush did in 2006.

After the defeat he took in 2010, Barack Obama didn’t change course as Bill Clinton had done when the electorate pronounced a midterm decision about him.  Barack Obama has yet to show humility or responsibility about anything.  Perhaps this time will be different.  But probably not.

Now might be a good time for Democrats to re-look Dan McLaughlin’s primer for what to expect in 2016 that so many of them scoffed at before.  His look at history said that the party with the presidency for two elections, will see a drop-off in support the third time around.  Let me add to the foreboding news for Democrats:  After taking sharp losses in the sixth year election, the President’s party usually loses even more two years later.

In the sixth year of the Bush administration, the President’s party lost 30 seats in the House.  The following election, they lost another 21 seats and the Presidency

In the sixth year of Nixon’s administration (yes, technically Ford was president), Republicans lost 48 seats.  Two years later they lost another seat and the presidency.

In 1966 LBJ’s party lost 47 seats.  Two years later they lost five more and the Presidency.

We have to go back to 1958 to see a counter-example.  Ike’s party lost 48 seats in the House in his second midterm, but managed to win back 22 of them in 1960.  But he still lost the presidency.

The recent historical record suggests that as bad as things are for Democrats today, they are likely to be even worse after the election two years hence.

And that brings us back to Obama.  He is an anchor on the Democratic Party.  The damning evidence for this comes not from the Senate, where Democrats lost only red and purple states.  Nor does it come from the House, where with a few exceptions the same thing occurred.  No, it comes from the gubernatorial races where Republicans held purple seats in the face of overwhelming media opposition (Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin) and picked up cobalt blue state seats in Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts.  There is no rational way to shrug off this result other than to say that Barack Obama was a weight on the entire Democratic Party.

And here’s what should alarm Democrats up for election in two Novembers.  President Obama has been intimating to his supporters that he’s going to take all kinds of executive actions when he has more “flexibility” after this election.  If those unspecified actions were popular with the American public, don’t you think he would have taken them before the election?  If we are to take him at his word, the President’s apparent intent is take his favorability down even further.  Here are some Democrats who might be particularly alarmed by this prospect:  Colorado’s Michael Bennet, Oregon’s Ron Wyden, Washington’s Patty Murray, and whomever is going to be the Democratic nominee to try and succeed the retiring Harry Reid.  All of them will have to face voters in 24 months, and the lesson of last night is to not face those voters with an overwhelmingly unpopular incumbent from the same party sitting in the White House.

7.  One final winner this night is Sean Trende who replaces Nate Silver as this election’s geek par excellence.  As early as January, Trende nailed this election.   His hypothesis was that Presidential popularity and the partisan tilt of a state would play an enormous role in the closing days of the race.  Ten months ago, he predicted nine seats using this methodology and it looks like this is exactly where it is going to end up.

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2014 Election Results

Byline: | Category: Uncategorized | Posted at: Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Live feed continuously updated.  For a guideline of what I’m looking at, check out this earlier post.

1903 Eastern

Good news for Republicans.  Fox News has called Kentucky for Mitch McConnell.  Right on target with the 2010 result in Kentucky.

No surprise:  Georgia is too close to call.

Also good news for Republicans.  Virginia is too close to call.  The longer this goes on, the better the news this is for Republicans.

1925 Eastern

Good news for Democrats.  With 68% of precincts reporting, Grimes is exceeding Rand Paul’s level of support in Fayette County, home to Kentucky’s second largest city (Lexington) and the University of Kentucky.  She is up almost 6,000 votes and 9%.  Rand Paul lost Fayette by only 1,200 votes four years ago.  McConnell lost in 2008 by 8%.  And that was in a disastrous Republican year.  If those numbers hold, it’s a good sign for how Democrats and how they may be doing with younger voters.

1930 Eastern

No surprise.  Republicans pick up West Virginia.

No surprise.  John Kasich wins in Ohio.

No surprise.  North Carolina Senate is too close to call.

1935 Eastern

Bad news for Democrats.  Mark Warner still hasn’t won his race.  Exit poll internals are horrible for him. He is underwater on the favorable/unfavorable rating and Ed Gillespie is ahead on that question.  (See UPDATE at 1945)  This is not at all like anyone expected.  Keep in mind that exit polls have errors.  Right now, Democrats have to hope that the exit polls are wrong.

1940 Eastern

Michael Barone is reporting that with 100% reporting Gillespie is leading Culpepper County 64-33.  George Allen in a losing effort won Culpepper 58-42.  This is the kind of exurban county and the kind of margin that Ed Gillespie needs to win if he is to make a realistic go of Virginia.

1945 Eastern

Fox News just showed that Warner is winning the favorable/unfavorable race 56-43.  That’s different from what I first heard ten minutes ago.

2025 Eastern

Good news for Republicans.  Both CNN and Fox News are reporting that Mitch McConnell leads Allison Grimes 56-41.  Of course only 65% of precincts are reporting, but because the eastern half of the state has a one-hour head start in vote counting, the results from the western half of the state aren’t likely to diminish McConnell’s lead.  Bottom line:  if this vote holds up, Mitch McConnell’s 14-point margin will beat the 8-point two-way race spread predicted by RCP.  That would be HUGE.

2030 Eastern.

No surprise.  Fox News just called both Arkansas races for the GOP candidates Tom Cotton and Asa Hutchinson the moment the polls closed.

2035 Eastern

No surprise.  New Hampshire is still too close to call. But with 16% reporting, Jeanne Shaheen has an 8-point lead.

Potentially earth-shaking bad new for Democrats.  With 59% of the vote counted, Ed Gillespie has a 51-46 lead in Virginia.  No one expected this race to be uncalled 90 minutes after the polls closed.  Even if Gillespie loses, it shows that Democrats are fighting to hold their own terrain while Republicans have an advantage on offense.

2040 Eastern

Fox News is reporting bad news for the Clintons.  Bill Clinton campaigned hard in Arkansas and Kentucky.  His candidates lost fast.  On the other hand, I think that this really tells you how far gone the South is for Democrats.   (Juan Williams supports a version of this view.)  Of course, that wouldn’t be a good sign for Georgia, Louisiana, or North Carolina.

2045 Eastern

Speaking of which . . . Michael Barone is tweeting 100% counted counties in Georgia and Virginia that are showing better results for Republicans Perdue and Gillespie than Republicans in previous years.

2050 Eastern

Bad/Good news for both parties.  With 64% of the vote counted, Ed Gillespie still has a 5-point lead. Nobody expected this.  But what is really unexpected is that in neighboring North Carolina, which is a shade more red, Kay Hagan has a 7-point lead with 46% counted.  If the two results were reversed, I wouldn’t have batted an eye.  If both vote counts hold up, this will definitely merit a closer post-election look.

2055 Eastern

No surprise.  These results came in earlier–in fact, when the polls in both states closed.  Democrats won senate seats in New Jersey and Illinois handily.

2100 Eastern

No surprise.  The GOP picked up a third seat in South Dakota.

No surprise.  Michigan Dems hold the Senate seat there.

No surprise.  Colorado is too close to call.

No surprise.  Kansas is too close to call.

No surprise.  New Hampshire is still too close to call.  (But it’s looking like it’s just a matter of time until Shaheen gets the call.)

No surprise.  Georgia is still too close to call.

No surprise.  North Carolina is still too close to call.

No surprise.  Minnesota Dems hold on to the Senate and the Gubernatorial seats.

Big surprise and bad news for Dems.  Virginia is still too close to call two hours after the polls closed.

2110 Eastern

Some networks are calling VA10 for the GOP candidate John Foust.  That would be a good sign for Ed Gillespie.

2115 Eastern

With 78% counted Gillespie’s lead in VA is down to 2-points.  This race has the feel of ultimate Democratic victory.  But still, this is a race that is about 10 points off of the RCP average in the GOP’s favor.  Even as a former professional pollster, I’m heartened by the notion that voters matter more than polls.

On the flip side, Kay Hagan’s lead is down to two points with 60% counted.  It’s hard to see VA going red and NC staying blue.  If NC flips but VA doesn’t and both (obviously) are very close, that almost perfectly matches the 2012 results and would be strong indicator of the nationalization of these races.

2129 Eastern

Kay Hagan’s lead is down to 1% and 27,000 votes.

Gillespie’s lead is also 1% and 23,000 votes.

Meanwhile in GA, Perdue has 60% with 36% in.  Michael Barone is looking at the counties and thinking that this one is close to being called as a victory without a runoff required.

2130 Eastern

Jeanne Shaheen’s lead is down to 7,000 votes with 37% counted, a 4-point spread.  Still too close  to call.

Here’s where we are now.  Among the RCP tossup states in the Senate, none have been called.  The two “pink” seats (Arkansas and Kentucky) were called immediately.  The one “light blue” seat (Virginia) is still too close to call 150 minutes after the polls closed.  Bottom line: I’d rather be in the Republican’s shoes right now.

2138 Eastern

No surprise.  Louisiana will go to a runoff.

2139 Eastern

No surprise.  New Hampshire will stay blue.  Right now it looks like a 52-48 margin.  I’m not sure what we can extrapolate from this race for the rest of the field.  The key point is that this is the first “toss-up” state to be called for either side.

2145 Eastern

Let me get back to Kentucky.  With 94% counted, Mitch McConnell has a 15-point lead over Allison Grimes.  This is almost double his RCP lead.  Points to consider:

Nate Silver says that there is no such thing as momentum.  In a strictly mathematical sense, he’s right. But polling isn’t math, not entirely.  What we’ve seen in the last week is:

(1) A return to the state’s bright red hue.  I think we’re seeing the same thing in New Hampshire: a return to the bluish purple tint of that state.  If everything breaks the way that 2012 went, Republicans will win North Carolina and Georgia, while losing Colorado and Iowa.  I don’t think that’s going to be the way it ends, but we’ll see.

(2)  President Obama is creating a ceiling for Democrats.  I don’t think that anyone is surprised by that, but it certainly undercuts the argument that you’ve heard that says that Dem candidates should have embraced the president more.  Sorry, but Grimes was mired in the low 40s and that’s where she is going to end up.

2154 Eastern

Fox News just called Colorado for the GOP candidate Cory Gardner.  Huge news that it was called this early.  So much for the “war on women”.

2155 Eastern

From my earlier post:  (2014 results in bold)

Boone

2010 Sen:  R over D, 24,332 (74.4%) to 8,364 (25.6%) 23,200 to 9,800

2012 Pres:  R over D, 35,922 (68.4%) to 15,629 (29.8%)

Campbell:

2010 Sen:  R over D, 18,386 (64.9%) to 9,948 (35.1%) 17,600 to 11,000

2012 Pres:  R over D, 24,240 (60.3%) to 15,080 (37.5%)

Kenton:

2010 Sen:  R over D, 29,372 (66.8%) to 14,582 (33.2%)  28,300 to 16,700

2012 Pres:  R over D, 41,389 (61.1%) to 24,920 (36.8%)

In all three Cincinnati suburban ring counties McConnell didn’t match Rand Paul’s numbers from four years ago.  In fact, the numbers are exactly in alignment with what I would have expected if the RCP numbers were correct.  Remember, the RCP two-way race in 2010 projected an 11-point lead, when this year it anticipated an 8-point lead.  So a strong Republican win, albeit by a smaller amount than four years ago, is exactly what we should have expected in these three counties.  That Republicans have won so handily in Kentucky means that the result was decided by a large amount elsewhere in the state.

But where?  In Fayette County, McConnell lost by 6,000 votes, five times what Rand Paul lost by four years ago.  In Franklin County, McConnell beat Paul’s margin, but only by a mere 300 seats.  In Jefferson County, McConnell fell short of Paul’s margin by about 7,00o votes.

It looks like Eastern and Western Kentucky coal counties trounced the Dems.  If this is true, it means that rural and industrial labor may completely be divorced from Democrats forever.  (BTW, Elliott County hasn’t reported its votes.)

2220 Eastern

Meanwhile, it looks like Scott Walker is going to hold on to win Wisconsin for a third time in four years. And it looks like a margin of error greater than what RCP predicted.

2225 Eastern

Mark Warner is now ahead of Ed Gillespie by 2,500 votes.  And it looks like the remaining uncounted votes are in NOVA.  Great fight.  And a huge surprise, but it would appear that the Democrat candidate is going to hold on to win by a far narrower margin than anyone expected.

Meanwhile in North Carolina, Tom Tillis is up by 31,000 votes (2%) and only 15% of precincts remaining to be counted.  Of course, where those precincts are means a great deal.

Also in Georgia, there’s no question that Perdue is going to beat Nunn.  Perdue is now at 57%, with 64% of the vote counted.  If he stays over 50%, Republicans hold this seat.

2230 Eastern

I haven’t heard it mentioned yet.  One of the “streaks” that had been going against Republicans was their recent inability to beat a sitting incumbent.  So far, it looks like they have unseated Mark Udall in Colorado and Mark Pryor in Arkansas.

2235 Eastern

Pat Roberts has a 4-point lead in Kansas (17,000 votes).  No one knows was tracking this race eight weeks ago and there is no history of strong polling in this state.  Thus no one knows which way this might turn.

Meanwhile in Iowa, the returns are very spotty and Bruce Braley is up over Joni Ernst.

2240 Eastern

Tom Tillis’ margin is larger.  It’s still only 2%, but that is now 53,000 votes.

No surprise.  In Michigan the Republican governor won re-election.  Along with Wiconsin’s Walker, these are huge gains for budget-cutting governors and against government unions.

2245 Eastern

In Arizona the ice cream man won.  This was a Republican gubernatorial hold.

In Florida Republican Rick Scott is ahead by 80,000 votes with 97% counted.  Close to a call.

2246 Eastern

HUGE NEWS.  Republicans will hold Kansas.  If Dems don’t take Georgia (and it looks like they won’t), they have to hold Alaska, and North Carolina, and then Louisiana again next month.  Not likely.

In North Carolina, Tom Tillis still has a 52,000 vote lead and there’s only 7% of the vote left to count.  Karl Rove just named four counties where if Kay Hagan is going to win, she has to run up the vote.  Only one of those counties has enough uncounted votes left to count.  It is Mecklenburg (Charlotte).  Depending on where they are in the county will determine the outcome.  Still, it’s looking better for Tillis than I think the RCP average predicted yesterday. (538 is saying a similar thing:  Wake County (Raleigh) is not going to yield any more votes for Hagan.)

2300 Eastern

Democrats will flip no GOP seats.  The last possibility, Georgia, was just called for the Republican Perdue. The win of any one of these seats–Alaska, Iowa, North Carolina, or Virginia gives the 51st seat to the GOP.  If it doesn’t happen tonight, it could be Louisiana next month.

Right now, it looks to me like Republicans will win 53 seats, with 54 very possible, and 55 a still remote possibility.

2305 Eastern

HUGE news.  I will be able to buy wine in grocery stores.  If you don’t live in Tennessee, you won’t comprehend how incredibly stupid it is that has taken this long.  Worse still, the new law won’t take effect until July 2016.

2308 Eastern

Michael Grimm won NY-1.  He is under indictment for 20 felony counts.  And yet, he is still better than the other guy.  Watch the Jon Stewart story on this race and you’ll understand that the Democrat in this race is a complete idiot.  Congratulations, Staten Island.  In your choice between crook and the dunce, you chose the lesser of two very bad evils.  But seriously, is this the best you can do?

2310 Eastern and here’s an update.  The GOP has 50 senate seats already locked up and no seats that the Dems will take.  Here are the seats still in play:

North Carolina.  The margin is 46k in favor of the GOP with 4% remaining.

Virginia.  The margin is 11k in favor of the Dem with 7% remaining.

Iowa.  The Republican Joni Ernst is leading 50-47 with 53% of the vote in.

Alaska is still voting.

538 is giving Dems a 1% chance.

2322 Eastern

Game.  Set.  Match.  Joni Ernst wins Iowa.  Republicans unseated a third sitting Democratic senator and now have at least 51 seats.  Four more are possibilities, although Virginia is looking very unlikely.  Still, 54 is a very possible amount for the GOP.

Oh, BTW, I called it.  I said that Iowa would be the 51st seat.  (Of course, I didn’t expect that CO would be called by now and I expected NC already would have fallen.)

Here’s why that matters:  that’s a big cushion going into 2016 when the mix of states with seats up for grabs in the Senate is less favorable to the GOP.  Of course, being a presidential year, whomever wins that race will likely have coattails.  Dan McClaughlin makes the case that the Democrats don’t have a structural advantage going into 2016.  I agree and will make that case in the coming days.  But even if a Democrat wins the presidency, he might have to carry seats to get back to 50.  If the Republican wins, that’s a tall order for Democrats.

2329 Eastern

Speaking of North Carolina, Tom Tillis wins.  It’s now a net at least 7-seat victory for the GOP and at least four sitting senators fell to Republicans.

2340 Eastern

Let’s look at some of the gubernatorial races.

Right now Republicans have held tossup seats in Florida, Georgia (seriously, did Dems expect to win with a Carter?) Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Dems have held onto seats close seats in Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

The only gubernatorial change is that Republicans have picked up a seat in Illinois (metaphor alert). (UPDATE: I forgot Arkansas; that’s two. I also forgot Democrats won PA.  Both of these were off my radar because they weren’t really close.)

Here is where some of the other governor’s races sit:  Republicans lead in Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas (thanks to Pat Roberts–more specifically thanks to Democrats nationalizing the Kansas senate race), Massachusetts (seriously), Maryland (even more seriously) and Maine.  Dems hold the current lead in no gubernatorial race they don’t currently lead.  Four of the above seats would be GOP gains.

2345 Eastern

I’m glad she won and her past indicates that she has a strong future.  But Joni Ernst won’t ever realize that future if she doesn’t get rid of that annoying laugh of hers.

2350 Eastern

Martha Chokely will never be heard from again.  At least that’s what Massachusetts Democrats hope.  The GOP picked up that seat.

Also, I missed earlier that PA and AR were pickups (one Repub and one Dem) when I counted up the gubernatorial seats.  This now makes a net GOP +2 in governor’s races.

2356 Eastern

Mark Warner is the “apparent” winner in Virginia.  The margin is only 12k.  But that’s a lot to make up in a recount.  There are still votes outstanding.  But still it looks bad for the GOP candidate Ed Gillespie.  That said, he may be the biggest winner of the night.  I expect that in the morning they will look at what the final count looks like and then determine if there is anything there to contest.

0005 Eastern

Maryland and Virginia are both major surprises tonight.  Even if the GOP candidates end up losing, nobody expected these contests to be that close.  Question:  did the Redskins name controversy crush Democratic support?  It may seem like a little thing, but that’s the point.  Is the (former) Senate Majority Leader’s desire to use the federal government to change the name of a sports franchise a symbol of a massive overreach of federal power?  Discuss in the comments.

0015 Eastern

Republican Paul LePage holds on to win the governor’s seat in Maine.  Alaska, where voting is still ongoing, and Kansas, where Sam Brownback is holding a 2.5% lead with 17% of the vote left to count, are the only tossup incumbent seats held by the GOP that remain to be decided.  Meanwhile, Colorado and Connecticut could still flip to the GOP.  And in both, the Republican candidate currently is winning–albeit by less than a point in each race.

Bottom line:  Governor’s races were as nationalized in 2014 as were the senatorial races.  I’m not surprised by this, as it is a natural result of the 40-year ongoing ideological homogenization of the parties, as well as by the demographic stratification of the Democratic Party.  When your base is near unanimity among blacks, single women, and government workers, and huge negative margins with almost everyone else, you’re only going to do well where those demographics approach a majority.

Oh, btw, President Obama waded into governor’s races when it looked like senatorial candidates treated him like President Ebola.  Just like Clinton’s foray into the Southeast, that didn’t work out so well.

0035 Eastern

With 65% of the vote counted, the margin in the Connecticut governor’s race is 7.  Not seven percent, but seven votes.

0030 Eastern

HUGE Upset

Republican Larry Hogan will win the governor’s race in Maryland.  This is the fourth GOP pickup in gubernatorial races against only one loss.

Two lessons:  Barack Obama, who actually campaigned here, is now persona non grata everywhere.  And don’t run against the Redskins.

0033 Eastern

Sam Brownback will win Kansas.  I called this days ago.  By nationalizing the Pat Roberts senate race, Brownback got a boost.  I submit that Brownback was not going to win if the Roberts-Orman race had never heated up.  By playing games in Kansas, Dems lost both races.

0037 Eastern

538 is reporting that Dems had an apparent 6-point advantage in the senate polls and a 2-point apparent advantage in gubernatorial races.  I had a sense that it was going to be like this, although not by this much.  This is a wave, which I define as nearly every race tilting in the same direction.  That’s what happened tonight.

That said, two years ago, I made the analogy to polls being like hitting in major league baseball.  If we poll people randomly–relatively easy to do–we are only half the way there.  The harder part is knowing who is going to show up to vote.  The analogy I made then was that predicting electoral outcomes was like looking at a pitcher-batter lineup and being able to project exactly where the ball was going to land.  A good pollster can do that.  But what the pollster can’t do is to know in which ballpark the game is played. In baseball a long line drive to left field is a home run in Wrigley if the wind is blowing out.  It’s just a long single at Fenway.

Shorter and to the point: pollsters can tell you almost exactly how people are going to vote.  But they can’t tell you who will vote.

0059 Eastern

While I await the Alaska outcome, let’s summarize:

Republicans have won the Senate with at least 52 seats with another GOP gain likely in Louisiana and the GOP favored (at least for another minute) in Alaska.  That’s a net gain of 7 to 9 seats.

Republicans have gained at least a net three seats in governor’s races.  Colorado is looking like another gain.  Connecticut is still a possible gain.  And Alaska is the only remaining state where Dems can pick up a seat.  That’s a net GOP gain of 2 to 5 seats for the GOP when the predictions going into tonight were for a loss of 1 to 2 seats.  This is an astounding loss for Dems.  Look also where the GOP won:  Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Wisconsin, and potentially Colorado.  These are presidential battleground seats.  New Hampshire and Pennsylvania are the only presidential battleground seats that Democrats won tonight.  This will have an effect in 2016.

In the House, West Virginia went all Republican.  So did Arkansas.  The GOP picked up all but one seat in Iowa.  I predicted this based on what happened up ticket.  In New Hampshire, Democrat Shea-Porter is again the former congressman from her district.  NY-24 flipped GOP.  A seat in Illinois flipped too.  Georgia and North Carolina house seats also benefitted from upstream GOP wins.  The only tossup that the Dems currently have taken is FL-27.  There are still dozens of seats left to be decided, but it looks like a double-digit gain in the House, and then some.

Finally, before I go to sleep for the night, let’s look at the exit polls in the national House races.

Whites voted 60-38 for the GOP.  That’s right in line with expectations.  What is unexpected is that whites made up 75% of the electorate.  Blacks went 89-10 for Dems.  Ten points is way more than anyone expected among blacks.  Latinos went 63-35 for Dems.  Worse still for Dems is that the Latino vote was only 8% of the total.  That’s a level of slippage that will crush Dems if it continues.  Asians split their vote, going 50-49 for the Dems.  That’s has huge implications for the future when you have one party that wants to treat all minorities alike.  Those minorities have a vote themselves.

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Kentucky will tell you all you need to know

Byline: | Category: Uncategorized | Posted at: Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The Bluegrass State is your guide for what to look for tonight so that you can go to bed early and then wake up tomorrow refreshed for the first day of the 734-day long 2016 election season.

Polls close at 6:00 pm in Kentucky.  But because half of the state is in the Central time zone, that means that it won’t be until 7:00 pm Eastern that the networks will begin to call the race. That gives analysts an hour to analyze most of the state’s results before they announce any conclusions.

Most of the Democratic-leaning voters live in the Eastern half of the state, which means that for Ms. Grimes to have any chance of unseating Sen. McConnell, she has to roll up a two or three point margin in the Eastern time zone in order to withstand the GOP’s advantage in the western part of the state.  In 2010 the networks immediately called Kentucky for Rand Paul because it was obvious that in the eastern part of the state, he already had won and the west was just going to add to his advantage.  Look for the same to happen again tonight.  If it doesn’t–ie, if Grimes has a narrow lead in the eastern half of the state that delays the call for a GOP win, it portends a hugely disappointing night for Republicans overall.

On election day in 2010 Rand Paul had an 11-point lead in the RCP average.  This year, Mitch McConnell’s lead is only 7.2 points.  Interestingly, while the spread between the candidates is different, the shape of the race this year is almost identical to what it was in 2010.  In the last week of polling, the GOP candidate both times saw a sharp uptick, while the Democratic candidate was down narrowly.

2010 KY Sen RCP  2014 KY Sen RCP

The RCP average had Paul up 51.8 to 40.8.  But if you assume that the remaining 7.4% of the electorate that was undecided did not in fact vote, that means that in a two-way race, the RCP average was 55.9% for Paul to 44.1% for Conway.  In fact, that was within a tenth of a point of the final results:  55.8 to 44.2.  In other words, the RCP average was dead on accurate in Kentucky four years ago.  (UPDATE:  If the RCP Average this year is correct, McConnell’s 49.0 to 41.8 lead over Grimes translates to 54.0 to 46.0 win in a two-way contest.)

Here’s what to look for in Kentucky to see if RCP is right again, and if they are off, where is the difference and what it might portend for other states.

Jefferson County (Louisville).  Conway won 55.4% to Paul’s 44.2% and came out of the county containing Kentucky’s largest city and largest black population with only a 29,000 vote lead.  If McConnell either keeps Grimes below 55% or if turnout is significantly below the 258,000 who voted there four years ago, it tells us that the Democrat’s overt racial appeals did not work.  If turnout in Jefferson County is up and the margin is much larger, Dems probably are going to do better that expected in states with large urban black populations like Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

Franklin County (Frankfort).  Conway won the state capitol 57.3% to 42.6% and accumulated a lead of 2,742 votes out of 18,566.  If McConnell reduces that lead, it means that Obama is dragging down the party even in areas where one of its core member groups (government workers) live.  That result should make Mark Warner nervous.  If Grimes significantly exceeds Conway’s margin of victory in Franklin County, it may indicate that Dems will exceed their turnout expectations the rest of the night in places like Raleigh, North Carolina.

Fayette County (Lexington).  Jack Conway beat Rand Paul by a little over 1,200 votes out of nearly 90,000 in the state’s second-largest city and home to the University of Kentucky.  Two years later turnout was up almost 35%, but the margin was still almost the same 1,200 votes between Obama and Romney.  If McConnell actually wins Fayette County, it means that either young turnout and/or young voter support for Democrats is way down. If McConnell loses by a bigger margin, it may mean that he will do worse elsewhere with young voters.  On the other hand, it may also mean that young turnout for Rand Paul was the motivator four years ago, which would mean that Lexington offers little national implications for 2014, but could portend great things for Rand Paul in 2016.

The last area where Grimes has to do well is in coal country. Kentucky has two areas where coal mining is big:  in the southeastern part of the state and in the west near Paducah.  In 2010 those areas still had some Democratic holdouts that by 2012 had shifted Republican.  If that shift sticks again in a mid-term election, it is bad for Democrats in areas where traditional labor unions are dominant.  While the UMW is a special target of modern Democrats, if they lose that traditional blue base, it may mean that unions in the construction and transportation fields are likewise susceptible to a Republican message.  One place to watch is Elliott County on the edge of Kentucky’s eastern coal region.  It was one of only four counties to vote for Obama in 2012, and is the last Democratic holdout in the state outside of the Democrats’ new demographic of blacks, students, and government workers.  Elliott County Kentucky has the distinction of having the longest continuous streak of voting for the Democratic presidential candidate of any county in the country.  (You’ll notice below the change from 2010 (left) to 2012 right.)  Elliott County is worth only 2,500 votes in a presidential election, and not even 1,500 in a midterm.  But if it tilts to the Republican column, it shows that the old New Deal Democratic pull over labor is dead. That tilt won’t happen this year.  In 2010 Elliott went exactly 2:1 for Conway over Paul. If McConnell eats into that 2:1 margin in Elliott County, that would be bad for Democrats.  If Mitch McConnell manages to hold the majority of the Kentucky counties that Rand Paul lost, but that Mitt Romney won, that is very bad news for candidates at all levels in labor states like Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and West Virginia.

2010 KY Sen Counties2012 KY Pres Counties

Mitch McConnell has to do well in the three northernmost Kentucky counties.  These Cincinnati suburbs happen to be “Ohio’s” fastest growing communities. What happens there may be indicative of what is to come in other suburban ring counties nationwide.  Here are their 2010 and 2012 results:

Boone

2010 Sen:  R over D, 24,332 (74.4%) to 8,364 (25.6%)

2012 Pres:  R over D, 35,922 (68.4%) to 15,629 (29.8%)

Campbell:

2010 Sen:  R over D, 18,386 (64.9%) to 9,948 (35.1%)

2012 Pres:  R over D, 24,240 (60.3%) to 15,080 (37.5%)

Kenton:

2010 Sen:  R over D, 29,372 (66.8%) to 14,582 (33.2%)

2012 Pres:  R over D, 41,389 (61.1%) to 24,920 (36.8%)

You’ll notice that in all three counties, turnout in 2012 was up about one-third, and Republican support dropped about 4-6 points.  These are counties where Ohioans went to escape higher taxes beginning about the time Dick Celeste was the Buckeye State governor.  But they are not so monolithically Republican that Democrats can’t make inroads–especially with suburban women.  These three counties will give us our first real indicators of how well the “war on women” worked for Democrats, or how much it backfired.  Expect to see slightly lower turnout than in 2010 and slightly better percentages for the Democrat Grimes.  But don’t expect those results to get as high a Obama’s 2012 numbers.  If Grimes comes close to matching Obama’s 2012 percentages in Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties, the war on women worked. If Grimes only matches Conway’s percentages (or worse, if she falls short), it likely indicates that Democrats are losing married women at a precipitous rate and/or that they are losing what remains of their already low level of male support.  The results in these three counties may be precursors to what happens in southern New Hampshire with its influx of Bay State expats as well as in Colorado and North Carolina.

Okay, if you want to stay up later and confirm Kentucky’s early prognostications, here’s what else to look for tonight:

1900 Eastern.  Virginia’s polls close.  If the race is not immediately called for Mark Warner, that’s a bad sign for Democrats.  It’s hard to imagine the polls being that wrong in the Old Dominion, but this is one of two states where a Republican shocker could occur.  It’s a very small chance, but it’s not zero.  If it does happen, this election is on par with a 1980, 1994, or 2006 tectonic shift.

1900 Eastern.  Georgia’s polls close.  If the polls are accurate, Perdue will be leading Nunn and should be flirting with 50% of the vote.  If he is easily clearing 50%, that’s a bad sign for North Carolina.  If he is having trouble beating Nunn, that’s a good sign for Democrats in North Carolina, and bad sign for Republicans in January when the runoff would occur.

1930 Eastern.  North Carolina’s polls close.  Expect it to stay close for hours.  If it isn’t close, that’s a good sign for the winning party nationwide.  If Democrats lose North Carolina, they almost certainly lose the Senate.  In fact, it’s almost certain that if they lose North Carolina, they lose Georgia too and have a chance at picking off only one state:  Kansas.

1930 Eastern.  West Virginia’s polls close.  The Mountain State’s 2nd and 3rd Congressional districts are too close to call.  But if it is a good Republican night, they should win both.

2000 Eastern.  The big prize is New Hampshire.  Like North Carolina, expect it to stay close for hours.  If Shaheen wins handily, this is a potential good sign for Democrats in Alaska and Colorado, two other tossup states with libertarian streaks.  If Shaheen loses, it’s inconceivable that there is a path that allows Democrats to retain the Senate.  In fact, if they lose the Granite State, it’s almost inconceivable that Democrats could hold more than 46 seats by the time the runoffs are over.

2030 Eastern.  Arkansas closes.  The calls should go almost immediately to Tom Cotton and Asa Hutchinson.  If a half hour passes without a declared winner, Republicans are in for a long night.  Republicans should also see the retention of two House seats in Arkansas.  If they do, then not only are they cementing their control of a once very blue state, they will remove two of only ten realistic pickup opportunities for the Democrats and will stand a better chance of double-digit gains in the House.

2100 Eastern.  Colorado and Kansas are the big prizes this hour.  They are also two of the hardest to predict.  Colorado has given pollsters fits before.  And in the Sunflower State, the big question is whether on election day Kansans will return to their Republican roots.  Since Colorado has mail-in voting, vote-counting could take hours (even days, if it’s close).  So Kansas will probably be the first known result of the two.  If Pat Roberts holds on to win, Democrats have to win too many states they are currently expected to lose.  If Roberts and Brownback win, Democrats will get a double punch to the gut.

2100 Eastern.  Louisiana’s polls close.  We won’t know the outcome, but if Mary Landrieu exceeds 46% or if she falls short of 41%, we’ll have a pretty good clue about what the eventual December result will be.

2100 Eastern.  Michigan’s polls close in the western part of the Upper Peninsula one hour after they close in the vastly more populated rest of the state.  Gov. Rick Snyder is ahead–even in most of the Democratic-leaning polls.  But he’s not ahead by much.  Still, with an hour to count ballots in the Lower Peninsula, we should have a call soon after the Yoopers are done voting. A win by Snyder is good news for Detroit, but don’t expect Detroiters to take it that way.  Additionally, Dan Benishek is fighting to retain his seat in the UP.  If he holds on, it’s another seat Democrats can’t pick up.  If Snyder loses, that indicates that blacks turned out at higher than expected amounts and that Obama still has coattails with at least one demographic.

2100 Eastern.  Wisconsin is hosting what probably is the most closely watched gubernatorial election tonight.  Scott Walker looks to be opening up a lead over Mary Burke.  If he wins handily in the face of the shit-storm that’s been thrown at him, it is very bad news for progressives and public employee unions nationwide.  If he beats the RCP spread of just over 2 points, it’s a good sign for GOP candidates in two neighboring congressional districts in Iowa and Minnesota that share media markets with the Badger State.  It’s also a good sign for him in 2016.

2100 Eastern.  The shocker of the night would be a GOP senate win in New Mexico.  If it does happen, it will be a result of the coattails of Gov. Susana Martinez, who immediately will become a top-level presidential prospect.

2200 Eastern.  Iowa.  If Republicans are having a good night, when the Hawkeye State is called, it may be their 51st seat.  Watch the House seats here too.  With a dismal gubernatorial nominee, and a lacklustre Bruce Braley pulling down the ticket, Republicans will win three seats here if it is a good night.  A Braley win and the retention of only the 4th Congressional district probably means that Republicans won’t take the senate and will gain only a disappointing three to six seats in the House.

2200 Eastern.  Nevada.  Watch the 4th district.  It wasn’t even on anyone’s radar as recently as two weeks ago.  However, early voting looks to be so dismal for Democrats in the Silver State, that a solid blue seat might be in play.  I expect Democrat Steven Horsford to hold on.  But if he does not, then neither will Harry Reid hold on to his leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate.

0100 Eastern.  Alaska.  We won’t know the results there until muchlater.  So hopefully, Republicans will already have won 51 seats by then and we can all go to bed.

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GOP v. Tea Party

Byline: | Category: Uncategorized | Posted at: Thursday, 11 September 2014

If Republicans wanted to ensure that the Kansas Senate seat stayed in GOP hands, they would join the suit by Democrat Senate candidate Chad Taylor and ask to have Pat Roberts’ name removed from the ballot so that it could be replaced by the primary’s runner-up, Milton Wolf.

That they would never even consider doing that tells you that the national party would rather lose a seat than to have it fall into Tea Party hands.

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NATO: is the glass bat already broken?

Byline: | Category: Uncategorized | Posted at: Tuesday, 25 March 2014

PJMedia picked up a piece I wrote the other day.  Go there and read the whole thing.  [Edited:  Below is an excerpt from the pre-edited version I wrote.  I think that it is a little more clear on a few points.]

The irony of NATO’s past quarter-century is that its most recent entrants are its most enthusiastically pro-NATO, and yet they offer the least reason to the other members to justify a united response in their defense.  They know the danger of Russian expansion.  They’ve lived it.  But the further east NATO expands, the less immediate the danger that the fall of those regions represents to the more western members.   More simply put:  Is there anybody who really thinks that Californians want to risk a nuclear war with Russia in order to save the likes of Albania?

For twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, until the Russian invasion of Georgia reminded them of what a mutual defense treaty really means, Americans forgot that NATO wasn’t a clubhouse; it was an actual club—the kind with which you beat an opponent to death.  And by admitting new members you agreed to swing that club if any one of the members was attacked.

Today, NATO is not a club; it’s a glass bat.  The power of a glass bat is in the threat of its swinging.  But once it makes contact it shatters into 28 pieces and loses all its power.  This is true of any large coalition, but especially one so culturally and geographically far-flung that it can’t seem to agree that Russia even is an enemy. 

Arguably, NATO is already shattered, the fault of which lies at the feet of America’s last President, who short-sightedly used its one-time-use power against a non-existential threat in Afghanistan.  (The truth is that President Bush could have received the help of most NATO nations in Afghanistan even without the NATO imprimatur and without swinging the glass bat.  After all, he did so in Iraq.)  Most of the 28 NATO nations gave all that they could give over the last 13 years in Afghanistan.  There is no more that they can reasonably expect to extract from their populaces.

Knowing all too well the real costs of warfare makes countries less inclined to intercede when there appears to be no real immediate importance to the threat.  It was because the memory of World War One was so fresh in the minds of the Allies, that Hitler was allowed to re-arm Germany, march into the Palatinate, annex Austria, and forcibly annex a portion of sovereign Czechoslovakia, all without Western Europeans lifting a finger to stop him.  And that was two decades after a war that the Allies won.  Immediately on the heels of the thirteen-year muddle of Afghanistan, there is even less likelihood that all 28 nations are going to sign on to the task of poking a Russian bear unless they really see that the bear is bearing down on them.

So when un-uniformed Russians appear in military formations in tiny Narva and say that they are there to protect Russian lives from Estonian transgressions (and there will be just enough merit to the claim to cloud the argument), how will NATO react?  Will it rush headlong into war, obeying its mutual defense obligations just as the Central Powers did after the assassination of a minor royalty in 1914?  Or will NATO react with a shrug, just as war-weary Europeans did when Hitler marched unopposed into Vienna?

I’m guessing that Russia thinks that NATO is an already-shattered glass bat and that it will pursue the latter course.  And if he’s right, Vladimir Putin can finally record the hour of NATO’s death.  Then Europe’s only Emperor will go about exercising greater authority over European affairs without American interference.

But if Putin is wrong in his calculation of NATO resolve . . .

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Boehner blinks

Byline: | Category: Uncategorized | Posted at: Thursday, 17 October 2013

I told you so:

“In the immediate weeks ahead, Democrats can’t cave for fear of losing votes.  Meanwhile, because it would be a violation of principles that gains them no tactical, operational, or strategic advantage, Tea Party Republicans will not cave.  If I had to guess, I would wager that Speaker Boehner will blink and negotiate a deal in order to preserve Republican-leaning big business groups under the GOP banner.”

It remains to be seen if the second half of my prediction comes true:

“But that in 2014 and 2016 Republicans will get crushed as the Tea Party goes rogue and that by 2020 the GOP will cease to exist.”

It’s 2,000 words, but read the whole thing.

The way the debt ceiling fight was so chronologically close to the Obamacare shutdown put the GOP at a disadvantage.  Republicans got snookered by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who used “extraordinary measures” to extend the date of the debt ceiling debate to where it would be conflated with the Obamacare rollout.  Republicans aren’t known as the “stupid party” for nothing.

Now Tea Partiers are super pissed at the GOP.  GOP Elite are pissed at the Tea Party base of the party.  And Obama Democrats got everything they wanted.  If there was a scenario that gave Democrats any hope of taking over the House in 2014 in the face of a big Republican structural advantage, this was it.

RELATED:

Stu Rothenberg:

“The political fallout from the confrontation is very real. Republicans got almost nothing out of the deal to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling except, of course, that they lost another 10 percentage points in their favorable rating and looked less like an organized political party and more like a disorganized, confused rabble.

. . . Small donors will be disenchanted that Republican officeholders caved on both the shutdown and debt ceiling, while the larger donors, who tend to be more pragmatic, are likely to sit on their cash for fear that the GOP will do something else crazy to threaten the economy and the party’s electoral prospects.”

Louis Woodhill:

“Congressional Republicans will be very, very lucky if they manage to come out of the current government shutdown/debt ceiling fight with nothing. It’s more likely that, having gone to battle over the wrong issues with the wrong strategy, the Republicans will have actually lost ground, both politically and in terms of their policy objectives.”

The Nation offers an alternative view:

“Because the deal only includes minor concessions, the Beltway consensus is that it represents a resounding defeat for Republicans, who “surrendered” their original demands to defund or delay Obamacare. In the skirmish of opinion polls, that may be true, for now. But in the war of ideas, the Senate deal is but a stalemate, one made almost entirely on conservative terms. The GOP now goes into budget talks with sequestration as the new baseline, primed to demand longer-term cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. And they still hold the gun of a US default to the nation’s head in the next debt ceiling showdown.

Surrender? Any more “victories” like this and Democrats will end up paying tribute into the GOP’s coffers.”

So too does Peter Beinart who complains that the deal locks in the sequestration cuts as the new baseline:  “If this is Republican surrender, I hope I never see Republican victory.”

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Peggy Noonan gets it almost right

Byline: | Category: Uncategorized | Posted at: Thursday, 23 May 2013

The WSJ’s Peggy Noonan lays out the known facts of the IRS case and concludes that it requires a special prosecutor.  She’s right, and frankly, it’s amazing how in a week, the American media has pretty much come around from the question of if a special prosecutor is needed for the IRS investigation, to how broad should be the limits of the special prosecutor’s investigation?

But here’s where Noonan gets it wrong.  Right in the last paragraph:

“Again, if what happened at the IRS is not stopped now—if the internal corruption within it is not broken—it will never stop, and never be broken. The American people will never again be able to have the slightest confidence in the revenue-gathering arm of their government. And that, actually, would be tragic.”

Actually it wouldn’t be “tragic” if the American people were not to have confidence in this or any arm of their government.  It would be exactly what the Founders called for.

My favorite quotation from the entire 85 editions of the Federalist Papers is this one from Federalist 25 by Alexander Hamilton:

“The people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.”

In fact, you could almost sum up the gist of the entire Constitution with that single statement, as the Constitution attempted to set up a system where no branch of government was in sole possession of the means of injuring our rights.  How far we have strayed, however, when the wing of the government that determines how much of our labors are to be taken into the Federal trough also inquires about our associations,  our religious practices, and soon, our medical care.

Peggy, you are right to call for a special investigator.  But you are wrong to assert that it is a tragedy if, as a result of this scandal, we no longer have  confidence in the IRS.  The real tragedies would occur as a result of believing that any branch of government was deserving of our unsuspicious confidence.

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A reading list for the next four years

Byline: | Category: Uncategorized | Posted at: Friday, 9 November 2012

One of the things that I did in November 2008 was to begin writing a novel.  If I had to describe it in one sentence:  Frances Mayes meets Ayn Rand.

It’s the story of a young man in the early 1970s who wants nothing more than to make great wine.  So, not unlike the prospectors who travelled west a century before him, he went to California to find bottled gold.  He succeeds.  But that is when his troubles start.  Success breeds envy and contempt from others and he finds himself engaged in political battles to try and maintain what he has built.  That is when his political outlook begins to change.  Oh, and I should mention that the protagonist is gay.

I’m only about half done.  Life has a way of getting in the way.  Plus, I’ve never written one of these novel thingies, so it’s entirely new to me. 

One of the things I’ve done to help me research (beside the couple trips to California to meet with some legendary winemakers from that era) is to read more political philosophy.  It helps me to understand my message better so that I can then distill it into ideas that I can put into the novel. 

I say all this to say that Alert Reader Snorri Godhi commented on a recent post that she thought that in light of this week’s events that it might be a good idea for people to re-read a little Hayek.  Snorri’s comment has inspired me to start this post.

What books can help people, first, to understand our current political/social/economic environment, and then, second, to help them to refute contrary arguments and win over undecideds?

Below is my first stab at a reading list that I pulled from my Kindle.  What would you suggest to add/delete?

Bastiat, Frederic.  Economic Sophisms

Bastiat, Frederic.  Essays on Political Economy 

Bastiat, Frederic.  The Law

Friedman, Milton.  Capitalism and Freedom

Goldberg, Jonah.  Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left

Hamilton, Alexander, et al.  The Federalist Papers

Hayek, F.A.  The Road to Serfdom

Hobbes, Thomas.  Leviathon

Mackay, Charles.  Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (first three chapters)

Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty

von Mises, Ludwig.  The Theory of Money and Credit

Okrent, Daniel.  Last Call: the Rise and Fall of Prohibition 

O’Rourke, P.J.  On the Wealth of Nations

O’Rourke, P.J.  Parliament of Whores

Payne, Thomas.  Common Sense

Shlaes, Amity. The Forgotten Man

de Tocquevill, Alexis.  Democracy in America

Wolfe, Thomas.  The Bonfire of the Vanities

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