Three Time Losers

I’m sure most of us have many reasons to fervently hope that whichever hairball the GOP horks up for the presidential nomination in 2016 is soundly rejected by voters. But for me, not least on that long list is the hope that a third straight drubbing at the polls might prompt the Republicans to do some serious soul-searching.

Three presidential losses in a row prompted many Democrats to sell out the New Deal and adopt the corporate-friendly DLC bullshit line. Maybe Bill Clinton had to ride the Third Way slide to two-term victory — that’s debatable. We didn’t have to be happy about it, but it was better than another Poppy Bush term or a Bob Dole presidency.

Anyhoo, in this morning’s Wake Up Sheeple thread, I mentioned that losing three presidential races in a row (please FSM, let it be so!) would be a big fucking deal for Republicans. Not everyone agreed. Valued commenter JustRuss made some excellent points in the following reply:

To a party that cared about governing, sure. But “the party” is mostly the money, and they just want the government to stay the hell out of their way. And with the IRS and EPA being starved, TPP and other trade deals in the hopper, Citizen’s United, fracking bans being overturned left and right, they’re doing fine. Sure, it would be nice to have a Bush in the White House, but they’re getting most of what they want regardless. Having a Democrat in the White House gives them someone to blame when things go sideways and is a great focus for the rage their constituents are addicted to.

I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I’m not convinced you’re right either.

Those are all great points, and if the GOP could ride the current status quo forever, I’d agree that they could just disregard presidential losses indefinitely. But I don’t think they could maintain the status quo in the face of a mounting string of losses at the presidential level, even if they managed to keep winning in mid-term and state-level elections for a while.

Presidential elections in this country (maybe everywhere else too — I don’t know) are about a lot more than a transfer of specific powers; they’ve morphed into an absurd, trillion-dollar reality show spectacle, with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Politics is a team sport.

And people don’t like losing over and over. If it keeps happening, they swear off the sport or find another team. Oh sure, some diehards will stand with their shitty loser team through thick and thin (maybe 27% or so). But the fan base won’t have a healthy growth rate, and the less committed will slink off to sulk at home or maybe even join another bandwagon.

That’s my theory, anyway. What do you think?



Can the Kochs Deliver the Mail Better than Florida Man?

kochrepAs I mentioned in comments on a thread yesterday, the Florida mailman who landed a gyrocopter at the US Capitol to draw attention to the corrupting influence of money in politics lives in the same media market I do and had informed a local paper of his plans prior to taking off. His stunt is therefore receiving more attention and in-depth coverage here than elsewhere.

The mailman is disappointed that the national corporate media outlets are focusing almost exclusively on the security vulnerabilities his flight revealed rather than the two-page campaign finance document he prepared for each congresscritter. The local outlets, having access to the mailman and greater interest due to the regional angle, are covering the campaign finance aspect. Not in sufficient depth, but at least they aren’t ignoring it altogether. The mailman won’t let them. Read more



Good news everybody

Cheaper, better, faster — not bad at all.



The Water’s Edge

Stung by President Obama’s end-zone spike during last night’s SOTU speech, Republican leaders have invited the REAL president of GOP America, Benjamin Netanyahu, to address Congress. Obama’s speech last night mostly focused on the stupid old USA rather that scary religions and foreigners, so Netanyahu’s remarks will be a refreshing change.

House Speaker John Boehner knows the Obama administration is involved in tricksy negotiations with Iran, and it’s important that he (Boehner) fuck them up. How else do you explain this message to his fellow GOPers?

You may have seen that on Friday, the president warned us not to move ahead with sanctions on Iran, a state sponsor of terror. His exact message to us was: “Hold your fire.” He expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran. Two words: “Hell no!” … We’re going to do no such thing.

See, Obama, the duly elected President of the United States x2, naively believes he and his State Department minions are empowered to shape US foreign policy (with congressional consent, of course!), sort of like how the Bush-Cheney cabal felt entitled to destroy a bystander country and bone US taxpayers to the tune of a trillion dollars because 9/11. Nope.

I wonder if anyone will bother shrieking “Traitor!” at Boehner & Co. for openly undermining US negotiations with Iran? There wasn’t a fleck of paint on a building within a hundred miles of DC due to the wingnut screeching when a handful of Dems attempted to find out whether Saddam Hussein was a real threat in the run-up to the Iraq War.



Idiot Box (Open Thread)

I’m camped out in my yard watching a grill and anticipating some company. Thought I’d see what was on TV:

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Netanyahu lecturing us about what’s good for us. As a BFF, you understand.

Then Mittens:

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He was saying Obama should have listened to the Republicans and stayed in Iraq. He warned that thanks to Obummer, we’re going to probably need ground troops to settle ISIS’s hash. I’m sure Tagg, Lagg, Bagg, Ragg and Mittlet are at the recruiting office right now signing up for our next glorious Middle East adventure.

I changed channels:

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Ah. Much better!

Open thread.

ETA: In college football news, Florida finally shit-canned Muschamp. About damn time. Now, the AD needs to find someone with successful head coaching experience to replace him. Head coach of the Florida Gators is not an entry level job.



Fundamental divergence; oddity or realignment

There have been two interesting news stories on elections in the past week as well as an interesting inside baseball geek out concerning how to model and predict Senate elections that could be either interesting outliers, or harbingers of change.

The two interesting stories are the Democratic Parties of Kansas and Alaska happily seeing their preferred candidates for Senate and Governor respectively drop out of the race. There were no mysterious revelations of hookers, blow, green balloons, or toe tapping in the restroom. There were no plane crashes, there were no children of the candiddates being diagnosed with cancer.

Instead, the candidates dropped out in Kansas and formed a fusion/unity ticket to allow independent candidates who are polling well to be the primary opposition to Republican incumbents in deep red states. The basic thrust is that Senator Roberts and Governor Parnell are reasonably unpopular with the general electorate but could very easily cobble together a coalition of 43% of the voters. 43% is usually more than enough to win a plurality in a three way race, while 43% is a big loss in a two way race. The bet is that the independent candidates have a much higher probability of putting together a plurality or even better a clear majority coalition against the incumbent.

The basis of the bet is that both independents are former Republicans who look at the deep-red strains of the Republican Party and think they are sufficiently bat-shit insane that it was worth running against Republican incumbents. In Kansas, this has been a long tradition where the electorate has been split into nearly even chunks of Teabaggers/extreme conservatives, moderate Republicans and then a wide array of Democrats of various flavors. Democrats could win state wide office with good candidates who could pick up a good chunk of the moderate Republicans who were momentarily disgusted at the Teabaggers. It is a long and successful strategy. Democratic success in Alaska in the past generation has either counted on a felony conviction (later overturned) or a split Republican Party for any state wide wins.

If Democrats can successfully engage in a strategy of being the party of the sane and continue to pick up former Republicans (such as John Cole) without losing significant elements of the current Democratic base, is that the start of a realignment?

The other big, and geeky debate that I’ve been paying attention to has been the poll aggregating and prediction site differentials. Read more



President Obama’s Dilemma

I didn’t see the president’s remarks live yesterday, but I did read a transcript. Apparently, the remarks disappointed some liberals, including Booman, for one, and a bunch of people on Twitter.

But I think Ezra Klein has it right here:

If Obama’s speeches aren’t as dramatic as they used to be, this is why: the White House believes a presidential speech on a politically charged topic is as likely to make things worse as to make things better. It is as likely to infuriate conservatives as it is to inspire liberals. And in a country riven by political polarization, widening that divide can take hard problems and make them impossible problems.

As inspirational as he can be, President Obama has always been pragmatic, which is certainly a desirable quality in a leader, though it’s a characteristic that has to be balanced with vision. As Klein observes, before he became president, Obama was inspiring to people because they thought he really might be able to bridge political and racial divides.

I don’t know if Obama himself ever really believed that, but if so, he was quickly disabused of that notion when the GOP started acting like a sack full of paint-huffing honey badgers on January 20, 2009. Some of us got mad at him for continuing to reach out to the most floridly insane and traitorous Congress in the post-Civil War era on issues like the budget and healthcare.

But blaming the president for insufficient speechifying on the issues Ferguson raises ignores what he’s up against. My guess is he’ll thread this needle at some point with actions behind the scenes and words too, managing to inspire those of us who want to see real changes without riling up the significant portion of the country that is either batshit crazy or indifferent.