A warning from Flint

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Statue of former Flint Mayor, Don Williamson, from Flintexpats.com

Awkwardly posed and absurdly oversized, it’s a monument you’d expect to find on a journey through some decaying, post-Soviet kleptocracy. Flint’s former mayor finally posted this bronze statue of himself at the entrance to his grand estate after the city expressed no interest. Down the road, Flint residents who voted him into office wonder how much poison their children absorbed and when their tap water will once again be safe to drink.

Journalists pin blame for Flint’s water tragedy on the officials who inherited the city’s mess, creating a danger that we will miss the warnings in this story. Meanwhile, just outside town, that silent statue offers a lesson on how this sad tale unfolded and what it might signal for the rest of us.

Political collapse has practical consequences. Like her neighbor, Detroit, Flint is an early victim of the Politics of Crazy. Mayor Williamson’s monument points to a dangerous future as we struggle with the decline of our social institutions. Like the gaudy decorations on one of Trump’s buildings, it reminds us that in politics, personal failures are often cushioned by collective consequences. That statue is a lighthouse standing over the rocks of the Politics of Crazy.

Flint is not unique. Smaller cities all over the country are dipping below a critical threshold of viability as populations dwindle and their civic fabric frays. It is difficult to shrink a city. An economic revolution has shifted prosperity back toward the once-struggling downtowns of America’s largest cities. Rural areas and smaller cities are losing their reason to exist. As residents leave smaller towns to pursue opportunities elsewhere, populations left behind grow politically weaker, their governments more and more dysfunctional.

Flint is earning a lot of attention, but similar examples abound. Almost all of the elected government of Crystal City, Texas was arrested en masse recently by the FBI. Weeks later, residents discovered their drinking water had turned black. Explanations from city officials have thus far been less than reassuring.

Residents of Sebring, Ohio are being warned that their water supply may be tainted by lead. A city official is accused of falsifying reports to the state EPA. A manager of the city’s water system was accused by the Ohio EPA in 2009 of filing false reports but remained in his job.

Water and infrastructure issues are getting a lot of attention because of events in Flint, but the pressure on schools may be a more pressing threat. A school district is perhaps the most expensive, technically challenging, and economically critical element of a local government’s infrastructure. Their failures in recent years have been far more numerous and much more difficult to solve.

Districts in rural communities in Texas, Colorado, and South Carolina have faced the extreme sanction of losing their accreditation. Kansas City schools lost their accreditation in 2011. A district in suburban Atlanta lost their accreditation in 2008. Rural schools are running out of money as populations decline and needs rise.

Money solves none of the problems created by the Politics of Crazy. Sometimes it makes them worse. A declining capacity for self-government doesn’t always shut off the money-tap. In Beaumont, Texas, revenues from refineries have insulated a school district in a long cycle of decline. While the community’s basic capacity for civic management has eroded away, the money has kept flowing, fueling a cyclone of local government dysfunction.

These problems, experienced locally, rise from a broader dynamic. The premise of the Politics of Crazy is that effective democratic government starts with healthy social capital. Our rapid economic transition toward a freer, more prosperous, and vastly more dynamic global economic order has produced the unintended consequence of eroding that social capital.

A once-dense network of voluntary social institutions is in steep, sudden decline. These institutions once acted as a critical mediating influence, weeding out much of the poison that might otherwise float free in our political ecosystem. Robbed of these critical filters, we are seeing a disturbing rise in the power of cranks, crooks, and crazies. Our failure to adapt to the demands of this changing environment gives rise to the Politics of Crazy, undermining our capacity to maintain successful self-government.

Our first round of failures from the Politics of Crazy are, predictably, emerging in communities that already had the weakest social capital. Flint is a poster-child for this phenomenon and, as such, a valuable warning too pressing to ignore.

Flint’s economic difficulties from the transformation of the auto industry are fairly well known. Less well known is the response from voters to the challenge posed by their changing environment. As jobs and people steadily fled the city, its government resisted pressure to adapt.

In the late 90’s Woodrow Stanley, one of the last capable leadership figures the city would see, fought to trim budgets, contain looting by interest groups, and put Flint on a footing to survive. Voters in Flint rewarded Mayor Stanley’s efforts with a successful recall campaign. With the recall complete and a budget deficit of more than $30m, bond holders dried up access to new borrowing. The failed city was placed in state receivership in 2002 for the first time.

A state administrator restored the city’s finances, reorganized its debt and restored basic services placing the city back on track. Removed from receivership in 2004, the city was delivered back into the hands of its newly elected mayor, a car dealer and millionaire ex-con named Don Williamson.

Williamson was a charismatic tyrant, incompetent, arrogant, and not terribly bright. He banned the local newspaper from city offices, describing it as unauthorized reading material. He had a newspaper deliveryman arrested for failing to disclose the names of subscribers. Random firings of city employees, a crackdown on ‘baggy pants,’ gross discrimination against certain police officers and fiscal mismanagement on an epic scale were the hallmarks of his administration.

During his 2007 re-election campaign he gave away $20,000 to voters in a “customer appreciation” stunt at his car dealership. A quote from a ‘man on the street’ at the event echoes loudly in the Age of Trump:

“He’s giving back to the city. Nobody else is doing that,” said James Searcy, 42, of Flint, while waiting for the winning names to be drawn.

One wonders whether Mr. Searcy’s kids are still in Flint, drinking the tap water.

In that election Williamson lied about the city’s alleged budget surplus, revealing after his victory that the city was deeply in debt. Two of his actions alone, a discrimination lawsuit and error-prone handling of a building condemnation, have cost the city more than $10m, almost half its annual budget.

Facing the specter of another recall election Williamson resigned in 2009. Again, the mess left behind was far greater than Flint’s capacity for civic management. After a brief stint under a promising new mayor, the state assumed receivership of Flint for the second time (so far) in 2011. It was under that second, far more serious and complex receivership that Flint’s water tragedy played out.

Commentators on both sides have tried to forge a partisan weapon from the Flint narrative. The right points to Flint’s long tradition of Democratic leadership, conveniently ducking vital details of Mayor Williamson’s story. Though he ran as a Democrat, he was solidly Republican, repeating Republican talking points and making the maximum legal contributions to George W. Bush in both elections.

Democrats are working feverishly to pin the blame for Flint on Republican state leadership. Their story somehow always misses decades of nearly exclusive Democratic local government resulting in total, repeated civic collapse. Flint is a not a partisan catastrophe. The Politics of Crazy is a non-partisan phenomenon.

No state worker would have made any critical decisions about Flint’s water supply if the city’s voters could have produced a remotely competent local government. Receivership was the only option for a city that had lost the capacity to govern itself. As incompetent as Flint’s local government had become, falling into the lap of the state meant losing even more control and nearly all oversight. Residents’ interests were now subject to political winds beyond their control.

Additional state or federal infrastructure spending would not have stopped the Flint water crisis. That crisis occurred because there was no competent local authority capable of making administrative decisions on behalf of residents. Why? Because for decades those residents had been electing crooks, charlatans, and occasionally outright idiots into positions of civic authority. A social fabric that once kept the city’s politics minimally healthy had collapsed.

The second time around, the state bailout attracted little interest. State officials had grown tired of administering Michigan’s failed cities. No one wanted to own Flint’s mess, not even its residents. Errors in judgment, critical miscalculations, and calloused disregard led to poisoning. Natural consequences.

Flint is not alone. We miss this warning at our collective peril.

Freedoms we enjoy under an elected, representative government are accompanied by an ironic curse – We will always have the government that we deserve. Sometimes we invite disasters with our choices. Flint’s voters ran the city into the ground, and now their children are living with the poisonous consequences. Unless we learn to adapt to the demands of this new economic environment, more disasters will follow on a grander and grander scale. Flint is a warning shot.

The root of the Flint water crisis, and so many less-publicized incidents around the country, is an utter failure of representative government. Flint was wrecked by its own voters. Those voters are returning to control as Flint emerges once again from receivership. Prospects this time are no more promising than before. A city clerk last year botched the publication of filing deadlines for candidates, threatening to block candidates from appearing on the ballot. As the newly elected local government begins work, familiar fault lines are already appearing. One councilman faces a misdemeanor charge for his conduct in council meetings.

Lest anyone be tempted to take comfort in their distance from Flint’s disaster, similar forces are at work at the highest levels of our government. Since 2010, America’s legislative branch has been effectively closed, leaving the courts and bureaucracy to limp along as best they can under emergency budgets and without Congressional leadership.

Making matters worse, Republican voters are lining up behind a national version of Mayor Don Williamson, a wealthy, ranting blowhard campaigning on racism, empty slogans, and vulgarity. Democrats are not immune. A leftist Ron Paul, an ideological gadfly making bizarre promises backed by fiscal voodoo, has harried their nominating campaign. Sen. Sanders is threatening to deliver the left’s answer to Donald Trump, a campaign of folk songs and emotion leading toward a public policy train wreck.

There is no refuge from the Politics of Crazy. We will, collectively, evolve the means to adapt, or we will experience the story of Flint on a national and even international scale.

A bronze statue just outside Flint commemorates a political failure that has poisoned thousands of families and further tattered an already thin civic fabric. Doughy and brooding, with hands inexplicably crammed into pockets, the Sphinx of Flint has a story to tell for those who are listening.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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291 comments on “A warning from Flint
  1. flypusher says:

    A new poll:

    http://theweek.com/5things/608361/cruz-trump-now-tied-texas

    If Trump takes TX, Cruz is toast. Even a strong 2nd place finish is likely a mortal wound.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      I don’t see any way Trump doesnt win the most delegates.

      The schedule is beneficial. Super Tuesday is mostly Southern and if Trump takes most or all, he probably seals the nom even if Northern states might have voted against him had they gone first.

      Winning begets more winning.

      Plus, I don’t think the base cares about “Conservative values” anymore. Or, they do, but it’s hard to prioritize that when your economic prospects have become so bad.

      The GOP platform has always only held social issues for the base. They’ve never really had economic policies that help them. So when the economic woes become so bad that voting for abortion or gay rights is a luxury, I just don’t see how any non Trump can win this.

    • Crogged says:

      Those young people don’t think America is ‘exceptional’. Imagine the horror.

      In other weird news I saw a report that Justice Scalia may have been at final resting place ranch because of some weird we are hunters wearing green robes but really really like animals in an almost creepy way political action committee meeting.

    • 1mime says:

      They will save us from ourselves, EJ. Please hurry!

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      I’m really not sure why the Report bkican elites are so surprised their brand of conservatism is flat out rejected by Millenials

      We’ve inherited a highly indebted economic structure, thanks to decades of cutting taxes and the resulting disinvestment. Education, which has long been the key to the door of the American Dream is prohibitively expensive. And social media has finally given us all access to each other to talk about it and realize the extent of the bankruptcy of modern Conservative orthodoxy.

      Its not weird or surprising. Its exactly what one would expect given the circumstances.

      Cause meets Effect.

      And even though Hillary is light years better then any GOP’er, she also is part of the old guard, a part of the system we reject.

      Note though that the article points out that Millenials are overwhelmingly positive and optimistic about the future. That jibes with my feeling and those of my peers.

      We don’t feel powerless. We feel like we recognize the problem, and we feel we have the power to provide solutions.

      We don’t want to tear the whole house down. But we are planning on doing major renovations, and if that’s “scary” or “terrifying” to entrenched interests, then they probably should have thought of that before they enacted the policies that brought us to this point.

      Actions have consequences.

      • 1mime says:

        Millennials also know that age has a way of disposing of the problem…old geezers gonna croak one day….have to say, it will make things easier for change. What a pity to have to depend upon death to level the playing field!

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Mime, that is another part of the optimism yes, but I didn’t want to be morbid 🙂

        And of course there are older Liberals too, as well as people whose views have evolved on issues. Progress is always slow, but it is also inevitable.

      • 1mime says:

        Progress is inevitable…………I’m sure tired of waiting for it. I was with friends recently (going waay back 50 years) all women, all nice people – grew up same town, all middle class, all public school educated, all staunch Republicans. How, I wonder, did we evolve to such a different place in our politics? To a one, they believe Obama is the worst President ever and Hillary is the anti-Christ and that Christian America is imperiled. They quietly expressed dismay about Trump but said they would vote for him rather than not vote. It’s like they are in a time warp. Needless to say, we didn’t talk politics except for the Trump comment. (He is “everywhere”, isn’t he?) In fact, there wasn’t much of substance that we did discuss because it all crossed over in some way into their conservative lifestyle. Those of us who are “older-old” liberals have very small networks. It’s unfortunate, but while I feel they simply have not grown intellectually, I’m sure they feel their good friend is terribly misguided. Sound familiar?

      • Crogged says:

        Depends on how you look at it Mime. You can agree with them, “He was terrible, TWICE!” and ask them when they are going to go live with Alec Baldwin. The truth of the matter isn’t Ted Cruz is ‘young’ or anything new at all but that the South has been surviving that kind of @sshole for years and years whether they call themselves “Democrats” or ‘conservatives’ or ‘Christians’. Nothing they ever say becomes true. Ever. The South still has not risen again.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Crogged, not only has the South not risen, its fell quite behind.

        In some ways, the white supremacist movement strong is the South make some perverse sense. While us Yankee Liberals wonder how they can be so backwards and want to turn back the clock, for the South, the antebellum period was their golden age. Times were never as good (for whites) in the South as they were pre civil war.

        In terms of pure economics , it makes a lot of sense that they want a return to that.

      • 1mime says:

        A small correction, Rob, about the “golden age” in the south. Things were never so good…..for White southern men – women, not so much, for Blacks, very little. They weren’t well educated, had severe career limitations, couldn’t vote, couldn’t independently qualify for loans, had little choice over their bodies, and were excluded from participating in many sports.

        We’ve made progress, but back then, it was very much a man’s world, and significantly, a White man’s world. Women still seek parity in a number of areas, while men are having to learn to compete with the “fairer” sex and minorities for jobs and opportunities that were closed to all but White men not too long ago. When the same job brings the same pay regardless of gender or race, then we’ve made great progress (-;

    • johngalt says:

      Liberal idealism is not exactly a new phenomenon. A more interesting article would have compared these figures to equivalent polls from 10, 20, or 50 years ago. An old political saying goes something like, “A man who is not a liberal at age 20 has no heart; one who is not a conservative at age 50 has no head.” This is often (wrongly) attributed to Winston Churchill (or Edmund Burke, or a Swedish king), but has been widely used for at least 150 years.

      • 1mime says:

        Great quote, except…..there sure are a lot of fifty+ folks out there who are challenging that truism!

      • johngalt says:

        The quote has some truth to it, but where the GOP is really in trouble is in the social issues. We may (generally) become more conservative as we age, but today’s 20-somethings are not going to change their minds about gay marriage or equal rights when they turn middle-aged.

      • This is generally true for white men; for women and black people the opposite is statistically more likely to be true.

        Young white men are encouraged to be angry, but as they grow older it’s easy for them to notice that the status quo benefits them, and sink into complacency. Young women, on the other hand, are encouraged to be obedient, but as they grow older it’s easy for them to notice that the status quo is rigged against them, and become angry.

        Of all the protests I’ve been to, the scene that sticks in my mind the most was a group of women marching along with loudspeakers, signs, thermos flaks of tea and their little grandchildren. It looks strange at first until you see the patience and determination in their eyes and realise that these are the people who bring down empires.

      • 1mime says:

        That’s a great explanation, EJ. I also think that better education has helped and social media has given wings to sharing frustrations. I have never considered myself a “feminist” (although others may), rather a woman who believes in fairly shared responsibility and opportunity. The women who have marched are a brave lot and I salute them.

    • Crogged says:

      If you turn off the tv and internet and put yourself out there in the 3d world you eventually meet people who are angry because of what they saw on the television and the internet. Hmmmmmmm

  2. MassDem says:

    Beware the Toddler Militia

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/iowa-kids-handguns_us_56ce4af9e4b0bf0dab30cae7

    Fun fact…the 2nd Amendment is the only one that requires a purchase in order to exercise a right.
    Not that gun industry profits would EVER be behind the loosening of restrictions on gun ownership. Nope, couldn’t happen here.

  3. flypusher says:

    For you Chris, The “Hamilton Rule”:

    http://thefederalist.com/2016/02/24/ill-take-hillary-clinton-over-donald-trump/

    I’m not a Hillary fan, but I don’t find her (or Obama) to be as bad as the author does (but I am a centrist, not a conservative). But I do agree with him that Trump is a worse choice, he would not be able to keep all the promises he’s making, and his failure would taint the GOP and conservatism. I also agree that being willing to take a short term setback (Dems in the White House for the next 4 or 8 years) is probably required for a longer term rebuilding/ rebranding plan. But I don’t think the current GOP has the discipline for that – look at how badly they’ve blundered right off the bat with issue of Scalia’s replacement. They want immediate gratification so much that they’ll take ill-advised gambles. No strategic retreats even when that’s the only smart move, no long term thinking. They deserve Trump, but the rest of us don’t.

    • Griffin says:

      I love the No True Scotsman the author pulls with calling Trump a liberal, but if even a rag as far-right as The Federalist won’t endorse him it will be hard to see how the GOP stays in one piece if he has a majority of the delegates by the time of the convention.

    • MassDem says:

      I love how these articles just blatantly say “Hillary lies” without ever once addressing the huge numbers of BS rumors and lies that have spread about her over the years. I’ve reached the point where I don’t believe one thing that comes from any conservative source about the Clintons.

      http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/hillary-clinton-conspiracy-theories

    • johngalt says:

      …voters will no longer be able distinguish between the words “Trump,” “Republican,” “conservative,” and “buffoon.”

      I’ve got some bad news for this author, but it’s already getting hard to tell the difference between the last three of those descriptors.

  4. MassDem says:

    A http://www…they remembered.

    Texas’s new law allowing concealed carry on all public university campuses goes into effect this August 1. Also happens to be the 50th anniversary of the Tower shooting at UT-Austin, where Charles Whitman killed 13 people, wounded 30.

    You do you Texas. You do you.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      University of Houston had a powerpoint presentation to faculty regarding this issue and suggested:

      – Be careful discussing sensitive topics.
      – Drop certain topics from your curriculum.
      – Not ‘go there’ if you sense anger.
      – Limit student access off hours.
      – Go to appointment-only office hours.
      – Only meet ‘that student’ in controlled circumstances.

      So, at our institutions of higher learning, faculty are being told to not talk about sensitive things, drop topics from curricula, and limit student contact because “freedom” or something.

      Man, I love Texas, but we are some stupid ass folks sometimes.

      • 1mime says:

        No, Homer, not “we”, “they”. No way am I lumping myself in that pile of dung.

      • I’m just thankful that nobody has suggested that the faculty arm themselves in self defence.

      • …nobody has suggested that, right? Fingers desperately crossed.

      • MassDem says:

        If they’re licensed and over 21, they have that right….

        If it’s any consolation Texas, you’re not alone. Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin also have concealed carry at state colleges.

        Jeez, it’s hard enough to get tenured faculty to teach.

      • 1mime says:

        All “red” states………no original thought here….

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        The 2nd amendment has become so all encompassing in their minds it squeezes out every other right.

        What a testament to the power of propaganda for the gun lobby to be able to so successfully fetishize guns like they have.

      • MassDem says:

        On the bright side, all students will now get A pluses in every subject.

      • Crogged says:

        Just think how many more real life hazing events while form the basis for Law and Order episodes. Guns, young males and alcohol because freedom. Oh wait, they can have a gun but not alcohol because the constitution didn’t directly address the situation and that was the intent of Sam Adams when he wasn’t busy building his brewery.

  5. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    The robots are coming! The robots are COOOMIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGG!!!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-house-robot-workers_us_56cdd89ce4b0928f5a6de955

  6. “A republic, if you can keep it.” – B. Franklin

    “[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion… Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – J. Adams

    Ah, well. Easy come, easy go.

    • 1mime says:

      It’s interesting that John Adams separated the terms “moral and religious”, don’t you think, Tracy? Therein lies the problem. I’ll take “moral” over “moral and religious” any day. Thing is, it’s so darn hard to find that combination (-:

      • duncancairncross says:

        for a moral and religious people

        If you look at countries and actual outcomes and practices there is a strong relationship between “moral” and “religious”
        Unfortunately it is a reverse relationship,
        The more religious a country is the less moral it is

      • Griffin says:

        Obviously being religious is not a requirement for being moral but the big divide in the religious world is between the literalists and the ones who want to live under secular governemnts while having their own private beliefs. It’s naive to think we’ll be rid of religion altogether, the goal should be getting rid of fundamentalist varients of them.

        “The fundamentalist does not worship God, he worships himself by proxy of God.”

        What I find funny about fundies is how few of them have actually read their religious texts. You would think you would study every word if you actually believed it contained the truth to everything.

        I wonder if even all religion is tamed though how much of a difference it would make. I think there’s a certain segment of the population that easily latches on to authoritarian movements regardless of the cause. If it’s not religion it could just as easily be variants of nationalism, communism, fascism, cultural dominance, racism, sexism, etc.

      • 1mime says:

        Actually, Griffin, there’s a new popular term for those who seek authoritarianism, it’s called: “Trumperism”.

        Count me in your latter group – “ones who want to live under secular governments while having their own private beliefs.” And, I’m not alone. Secularism is expanding. It may be a natural extension of the “individualism” concept, but I believe many people are so turned off by religious extremism that they have simply given up on structured religion. That doesn’t imply that those who claim to be secularists lack personal faith; rather, it is private and doesn’t necessarily comply with organized religious definitions. I respect those who profess their personal faith through formal religious tenements but I do not believe one has to identify oneself with a particular religion.

        Somehow, I believe if John Adams were alive today, he would understand and respect those individual choices as natural in a moral society.

      • johngalt says:

        It is ironic, given the religious fervor that the GOP candidates express (I half expect some of them to start speaking in tongues), that John Adams was a Unitarian. In other words, virtually nobody today would consider him to be a “real” Christian. Nor were Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, or the other Adams (or Franklin, Payne or Hamilton). So much for those myths about the Founding Fathers.

      • MassDem says:

        Yeah, I was also going to point out that I couldn’t find the word “Christian” anywhere in that quote…for all we know, Adams could have been referencing Buddhists or (gasp) Muslims.

        But I’m pleased to know Adams was a Unitarian…jumped ship myself to the Unitarian church a few years back.

      • Crogged says:

        The LAST REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT WAS NOT A CHRISTIAN, unless people quote you and add new chapters to the Bible a hundred years or so after the claims of talking to God.

      • 1mime, I don’t think the Framers thought of the term “moral and religious” in quite the same way you interpret it. The Framers thought of it in the same sense that Locke did, even those (and perhaps especially those) who were deists, like Jefferson.

        Our system of government is predicated on the following Lockean chain of authority: Creator <– Individual <– State. Contrast this with the socialist/communist chain of authority: State <– Individual. Or the Libertarian chain of authority: Individual <– State.

        The Framers believed that our system of government could only work for a society that regarded the state as subservient to the individual, and the individual in turn beholden to the ultimate authority of the Creator. Without this chain of authority, the Republic must fail, simply because our system does not invest enough authority in the state (at least historically) for the system to function in the hands of immoral, amoral, or just plain irresponsible people.

        The U.S. history of the last century was essentially about the gradual erosion of individual autonomy and authority, and the replacement of the same with a socialistic nanny state. The true problem with the nanny state arrangement is not chiefly that eventually you run out of other people's money (although this is of itself a fatal flaw). Rather, the true problems with the nanny state are threefold: First, it infantilizes the populace, producing people who are incapable of functioning as responsible adults. Second, it acculturates a significant segment of the populace to the systematic robbery of the property of others via the state as an intermediary agent. Third, it serves as an attractive nuisance to the immoral and amoral among us whom are only too happy to feather their own nests at the expense of the plebs via the unfettered power of the state. The sad tale of Flint, Michigan is simply a microcosm of these overall trends.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      From the Treaty of Tripoli, written by John Adams and unanimously ratified by the Senate:

      “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

      Pretty clear. America was intended as a secular nation from the start.

      The vast majority of FF wernt even Christians, bit Deists. I.e. they believe in a creator, but they don’t believe in a personal God, one who actively intervenes in our lives, and knows (and cares) our inner thoughts etc. Deists don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God.

      Thomas Jefferson even wrote the Jefferson Bible, which is basically the Bible with all references to Jesus Christ removed.

      As Adams says: America was not, in any way, founded as a Christian nation. In fact, its pretty obvious to me that the “religious persecution” Ted Cruz insists America was founded on was actually the persecution BY the Christianists, not OF them.

      • Rob, you just hoisted yourself on your own petard. The U.S. was never intended as a secular nation; it was always intended to be “a nation under God.” Rather, the flavor of Godly worship is simply left to the individual.

        Jefferson was a rationalist and a deist. He believed in God (and in the precepts of Jesus), just not in the mystical trappings of Christianity the religion. He once wrote that he believed Bacon, Locke and Newton were the three finest minds ever produced by humankind. Locke wrote the following words, upon which our entire system of government is *FOUNDED*, and which are clearly echoed in our founding document (the Declaration, authored chiefly by you-know-who):

        “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise Maker, all the servants of one sovereign Master, sent into the world by His order, and about His business, they are His property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during His, not one another’s pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another’s uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for our’s. Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quite his station willfully, so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.”

        These are not the words of men who do not believe in God. They are, rather, the words of individuals who believe most deeply in God, and recognize each of us as a created “creature” of a divine Creator, such that we are ultimately subservient *only* to that authority, and that the state is therefore, by definition, subservient to us. That, at the core, is what our nation and our system of government are really all about.

      • 1mime says:

        Tracy, I’d like to weigh in on this subject. I respect history. I believe that our European founders did have a belief in a deity, as did the Eskimos and Indians who preceded them on our continent. Their higher beings were different but very important to how each ordered their social and cultural existence. I believe that our forefathers felt it was important to protect each person’s right to observe their own personal beliefs from an over-arching theocracy imposed by government. They sought to ensure religious liberty.

        To that end, I am a staunch proponent of separation of church and state. I respect each individual’s right to practice the religion of their choice so long as they do not harm others in doing so. That includes all faiths, not just Christianity. When those with a particular religious belief seek to impose their belief through the political process, the rights of other people are abridged and our nation teeters on becoming a theocracy, the very system that our European forefathers fled.

      • 1mime, I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said, but you’re still completely missing the point. In my discussion of the chains of authority underlying common systems of governance (above), I neglected to cover theocracies. In a theocracy the chain of authority is: Creator <– State <– Individual. This chain of authority is complete anathema to the chain of authority upon which our system of governance is based: Creator <– Individual <– State. Not only did the Framers sport diverse religious practices, as a result of placing the individual *between* God and the state, there is absolutely no way they would ever have countenanced a state religion.

        However, the Framers would have just as vehemently opposed the removal of all and every shred of religious expression from the public sphere. Believing as they did that individual equality and all of our other natural rights flow to us from our Creator, and that it is precisely for this reason the state must be subservient to the individual, there is no way they would tolerate the systematic removal of religious expression from public life.

        To understand the left's war on religion, it's important to grok the left's desired chain of authority: State <– Individual. There is no way for the state to reign as the highest and only authority so long as people still believe in God, and still believe that because of our special relationship with God, the state must remain subservient to the individual. Hence the left's rabid and incessant attacks on anything relating to religion in public life. (Note that in this the American left is only practicing a watered down version of the extreme persecution of religion practiced under communism by the USSR and the PRC. The American left's desired end state is the same; they just lack the cojones to be honest and forthcoming with the American people about their goals.)

      • 1mime says:

        I do not accept that there is a conflict between separate but equal authority of church and state. One’s religious belief is personal, one’s government is institutional. They can and do co-exist and one should not intrude upon the other. Entanglement of the two is damaging to both. Religious freedom is the law of the land and it is a good law. There is no persecution of religion by holding that state and religion are separate and equal, nor does it reflect communistic beliefs as guaranteed in our country. Religion is a very personal choice and that is where it should stay – with the individual so that true religious liberty is assured and does not become intertwined with government.

  7. johngalt says:

    “HE supported the biggest amnesty bill in history for illegal immigrants, advocated gun control, used Keynesian stimulus to jump-start the economy, favored personal diplomacy even with the country’s sworn enemies and instituted tax increases in six of the eight years of his presidency.
    He was Ronald Reagan.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/24/opinion/what-todays-republicans-dont-get-about-reagan.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

  8. tuttabellamia says:

    Is anyone here attending the Republican debate tomorrow evening at the University of Houston?

    • 1mime says:

      U of H only had 25 tickets. Rest went to all the pundits, media, campaign staff, etc.

      25 tickets……..

      • johngalt says:

        In other words, they are controlling the audience to prevent anything untoward from happening on national TV.

      • 1mime says:

        That plus controlling the purity of the crowd specifically. You don’t want “booing” of your candidates from anyone other than a certified Republican. Just can’t have it. That’ll have to wait for the main debate stage and even there, I’ll bet there’s pretty substantial attendance vetting.

  9. Rob Ambrose says:

    CNN reporti g that Nevada Gov Brian Sandoval is being vetted for SCOTUS pick.

    Very interesting development if he’s selected. Sandoval is a Republican, albeit a moderate one.

    IMO it would be a pretty smart strategy by Obama. The Senate has basically promised they won’t even hold hearings.

    How ridiculous/obstructionist would the Senate appear if they refused to even hold hearings on ANY SCOTUS nom, let alone a fellow Republican?

    After McConnel statement hours after Scalias death (and confirmed just yesterday) they can’t really do ANYthing where they don’t look like incompetent fools if Obama nominates a GOP.

    If they don’t hold hearings they look like idiots. If they DO, they look like political hacks for their previous promise to not hold bearings and then backtrack as long as it’s a Republican.

    And if they hold and confirm, that’s still a win for Obama. Replacing Scalia with a moderate Republican is still a big net win for the progressive side.

    Obama once again completely out politicking the GOP

    • flypusher says:

      “Obama once again completely out politicking the GOP.”

      And he won’t even have to break a sweat, with McConnell’s stupidity digging such a deep hole.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        As an added bonus, it provides a stark juxtaposition of democratic reasonable and bipartisanship to GOP obstructionism.

        Pretty hard to argue that “the problem is on both sides” if Republicans won’t even consider a Republican nominee.

    • 1mime says:

      One point you’re not considering, Rob, is that we need to turn out Democratic voters. Just how do you think a GOP nominee would go down with much of the Black leadership? Does anyone know any qualified judges who are apolitical? IOW, not Repub or Dem?

      I don’t see McConnell caring one way or another. This is a big gamble and it ought to be telling all of us who are Democrats or supporters thereof, that the Republican Party intends to win this presidential election AND keep the Senate. We may feel things are so dysfunctional that this is improbable, but that is not how Republicans are assessing the outcome. They are going all out on this election.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Mime, I think most Dems will be OK with it and understand the wisdom of such a strategic move.

        The guys policies (which is really the main factor for justices) are pretty liberal. Hes pro choice, for example. Expanded Medicaid in his state etc

      • 1mime says:

        Rob, you and I think broadly enough to understand the wisdom of a “quality” nominee, irrespective of party affiliation. I am absolutely not afraid of someone like Brian Sandoval. However, I do not trust the wisdom of the base generally on this score. I have no problem at all with O’s selection but agree with an earlier post that even Jesus would be unacceptable. Remember, the GOP doesn’t want a “quality, fair justice”, they want another Scalia and they believe they will win the presidency and get the justice they want and need to continue legislating from SCOTUS those issues they can’t achieve at the state or federal level.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        “but agree with an earlier post that even Jesus would be unacceptable. Remember, the GOP doesn’t want a “quality, fair justice”, they want another Scalia”

        Agreed Mime, that’s why this is such a smart move. Because it shows irrefutable evidence of just how unreasonable the GOP is being and how obstructionist. It would cause millions of undedided moderates who just want gov’t to work for not only vote Dem for pres, but remove GOP from Senate in purple states

    • texan5142 says:

      As always Obama is playing chess whilst the GOP obstructionist are playing checkers.

    • 1mime says:

      McConnell will.not.budge. GOP has far more to gain by gambling on winning the election and putting a “Scalia look-alike” on the court than they anticipate from the ire of their low information base. The smarter members of the GOP base agree. It’s a risk they’re willing to take.

      Remember Rob: the GOP doesn’t plan on losing this election. Whether that’s smart or not time will tell. I sure can’t predict the outcome from here.

      Here’s a case of the cat calling the kettle black”: As I recall, MR only released those years he was required to release by law, and it took forever for him to comply. He has such a convenient memory. Hypocrite!

      “MITTENS ATTAX: The Hills Rebecca Savransky reports: Mitt Romney is going after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for not yet releasing his taxes. “Frankly, I think we have a good reason to believe that there’s a bombshell in Donald Trump’s taxes,” the 2012 GOP nominee told Fox News on Wednesday. “

    • 1mime says:

      Here’s an interesting comment on the Republican SCOTUS debacle from a reader (Padfoot) in response to a NYT editorial excoriating the GOP for its decision to block any hearings on O’s nominees:

      “I have to agree with McConnell et al on their decision. Not because they are right, but because they have learned from experience that there are no consequences from their actions. They shut down the government, and gained seats. They opposed everything Obama has proposed even when they agreed with the basic principles involved, and gained seats. They control both houses of Congress and most state governments. So they are acting logically when they say that the American people should decide because that has worked out well for them in the past. If the American people want to change the way things are going, we can do so next November. But even in defeat, the GOP would be no worse off than they are now.”

      Indeed. As always, sometimes reader comments are more interesting than the staff’s.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/25/opinion/senate-republicans-lose-their-minds-on-a-supreme-court-seat.html?emc=edit_ty_20160224&nl=opinion&nlid=41048410

  10. 1mime says:

    How do you make change in a state with the people who have been elected? Abbot endorsed Cruz and now the TX Supreme Court (surprise, surprise), has exonerated Perry.

    “Texas’ highest criminal court tossed the second and final felony charge against former Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday, likely ending a case the Republican says helped sink his short-lived 2016 presidential bid.”

    “Helped” sink his presidential bid? Oops? I think Perry did just fine all by himself.

  11. Chris:
    A year ago Nate Silver said that the Republican machine looked solid and that Hillary Clinton was going to face a tough challenge.

    At what point do you put up a headline that says “Dear Nate Silver, I told you so!”?

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      I think Silver is more a pure numbers guy then a political analyst.

      He can make good predictions with accurate polling and historical data, but I don’t think he’s even trying to suss out the electoral mood or dynamics or anything.

    • Crogged says:

      I’m just hopeful, and wish I had evidence, there just aren’t that many racist @ssholes in our country………..

      http://www.vox.com/2016/2/24/11105552/trump-supporters-slavery

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I don’t think there are any more racists then there ever have been, and I’d be willing to bet the overall percentage has been on a steady downtrend since the Civil War.

        Its just that the racists finally have a single candidate to coalesce around, as well as social cover to actually BE racist.

        They know there will be no ostracism in the Trump rallies, so long as the racism isn’t TOO explicit. Dog whistles welcome though. Encouraged, actually.

  12. MassDem says:

    I’m glad to see that Cruz is on his way out–some of the stunts his campaign has pulled would have made LBJ blush.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      I hope you’re right, MassDem. A person with such despicable qualities shouldn’t have the public stage for more than a nanosecond or two, just long enough to remind us what we hate.

      Unfortunately for us, if he stops running, he returns to being a Texas senator 😦

      • flypusher says:

        But he’s up for reelection in ’18. I have vowed to give some volunteer time to his Dem opponent. I think driving voters to the polls would be one very good way to help that cause.

      • 1mime says:

        “Uber-Fly” to the rescue (-:

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        I’m with you, fly.

      • 1mime says:

        We have to work to get that sucker removed from office. One thought – if HRC wins the nomination and selects Castro for her VP, that factor alone will rally the Hispanic vote in TX. It will be a bell weather of how that vote with motivation, could help elect an alternative to Cruz.

      • flypusher says:

        “if HRC wins the nomination and selects Castro for her VP, that factor alone will rally the Hispanic vote in TX.”

        His twin brother is currently in the House, and ought to be a very viable Dem challenger. On the GOP side I would so be tempted to go with Joe Strauss, but we need him as Speaker of the TX House to lower the crazy.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree, Fly. Does Strauss have a twin?

      • johngalt says:

        If you want to get rid of Cruz, it is not the Democratic nominee you need to work for. You need to find a less objectionable GOP candidate and work for him or her in the primary. I endure some really odious mailings that come from my decision to participate in the GOP primary to vote for the least crazy person.

      • objv says:

        Bobo, A solution would be for Obama to nominate Cruz to the Supreme Court. Republicans would have to vote to confirm him and you wouldn’t have Cruz as Texas senator anymore. Win-win? 🙂

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        not-objv, I think a better solution is Hillary appoints Obama after her election to the presidency. 🙂

      • flypusher says:

        “You need to find a less objectionable GOP candidate and work for him or her in the primary.”

        I’m open to that possibility, JG. I’m very curious to see who will toss their hat into that ring.

        But no deal if it’s a Dewhurst vs Cruz equivalent. I might reluctantly, grudgingly vote for the lesser evil, but it doesn’t get any of my valuable time.

    • 1mime says:

      Before you celebrate too early, “Rubio fought off fellow Floridian JEB BUSH to get this far. And Kasich has more or less predicated his whole campaign on performing strongly in vote-rich Midwestern states like Michigan and Ohio. But Cruz is first up, with Texas voting on Super Tuesday.
      A fresh poll of Texas on Wednesday offered Cruz some solace, after three straight third-place finishes. It showed him up double digits: http://politi.co/1RoavHk

      Double digits. In TX. Which has 155 delegates to award.

      • johngalt says:

        Cruz is ahead in TX, but he won’t win a majority of votes (a plurality, yes). If he doesn’t top 50%, then the delegate assignment is proportional.

      • 1mime says:

        Half of 155 is still a whole lot of delegates……….Honestly, I keep hoping for some sanity here….that somehow Cruz will get his comeuppance. Wishing it so doesn’t make it so….

      • johngalt says:

        Cruz is my least favorite candidate in this (or probably any) election. But Trump is an embarrassment and Rubio is not yet ready for prime time. So I find myself hoping for delegate splitting so there is potential for a miracle at a brokered convention.

      • 1mime says:

        Truth be told, no one knows exactly “what” a Pres. Trump would do, but as much as I can’t fathom that possibility, I trust Trump tons more than Cruz in honesty, and much more than Rubio in judgement. As you noted, no good choices. I’m trying to keep my focus on the Democratic race which I don’t think is a slam dunk for Hillary.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I think we should all pretty much assume Cruz is going to win Texas. It would be shocking if he didn’t.

        If Trump wins Texas Trump is your GOP nominee, and if he has the game to take Texas from Cruz, he might have the game to take the general election from Hillary.

  13. Bobo Amerigo says:

    Legal experts, can I, an ordinary citizen, sue the senate for refusing to consider any supreme court nominee of a sitting president?

    The constitution says it is the president’s duty to put forth a nominee and it is the senate’s duty to consider the nominee.

    But their refusal to consider anyone means they are refusing his constitutional right to have a nomination considered.The senate is denying a constitutional right and duty. How can that be legal?

    • flypusher says:

      I’d sign on to that suit if it could be done!

      • 1mime says:

        My only thought about the potential for such a lawsuit, is that if it were possible, someone in the Democratic hierarchy would pursue it. Still, an interesting question and I hope maybe Lifer being a legal eagle will weigh in.

      • Creigh says:

        Gotta have standing, meaning you personally can show specific harm. Also, the suit would end up in the SC, where it would die 4-4.

      • Creigh says:

        There’s really good reasons for the courts to stay out of fights between the political branches. If you don’t like what they’re doing, elect someone else.

    • flypusher says:

      Obama’s post on SCOTUSblog:

      http://www.scotusblog.com/2016/02/a-responsibility-i-take-seriously/

      He’s the only adult in the room. Seriously.

      • 1mime says:

        I watched the video of these remarks. I am so going to miss Obama.

      • Creigh says:

        It’s hard to imagine any of the candidates making a statement like that. I don’t know what we did to deserve Obama. And it’s hard to fathom the reaction of some people to his administration.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Here’s the text from the Constitution: “He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court . . . ”
      **********************
      From what I can tell, the President has the “power” to nominate (Step A), not the duty nor the right. As for the Senate, all it says is that their advice and consent (Step B) are “required” for the President’s nomination to be confirmed, not that it’s their duty. (Step B is required for Step A to be confirmed, not that Step B is mandatory in and of itself).

      • tuttabellamia says:

        As for impeachment and possible removal of the President or a Senator for “crimes and misdemeanors” (if not properly performing one’s powers can be called that), that can only come from Congress.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        As I understand it, a particular senator could be impeached (i.e. “indicted”) for the “crime and misdemeanor” of not properly executing his powers, but the process would have to be initiated in the House, and then tried by the Senate. The only role an ordinary citizen could play would be to pressure his/her members of Congress.

      • flypusher says:

        “From what I can tell, the President has the “power” to nominate (Step A), not the duty nor the right. ”

        Nobody becomes President to not exercise power. I don’t see if as a stretch at all to infer “duty” and “right” from that. The stretch is thinking it’s perfectly reasonable to say that the President “shouldn’t” appoint someone to replace Scalia. That’s nothing but political Calvinball.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I wonder why the authors of the Constitution didn’t use the word “duty.” Why “power?” They chose their words carefully.

        I have no political agenda here. I personally think it makes perfect sense for President Obama to nominate someone, and if the Senate rejects the nominee, then that is its prerogative.

        For me this is not really about the current situation about replacing Justice Scalia. I am honestly and sincerely analyzing the choice of words in the Constitution.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Standing, As a citizen, I have no standing.

      What an upside-down world.

    • 1mime says:

      In the NYT piece on the GOP obstruction of O’s SCOTUS nominees, a reader comment will warm your heart, Bobo. (Harry, 1213)

      “If these Republican senators fail to uphold their oath of office to the Constitution by performing prescribed duties, then the Justice Department should bring a criminal action against each and every senator for violating their oath of office. Let the 8-person SCOTUS decide their fates.”

      Lifer, is that a possibility?

      • 1mime says:

        Bobo – so many good reader comments on the NYT piece. Here’s another tantalizing scenario: Michael Blocker

        “Let’s look at this as Judge Scalia might have, i.e., a “strict” reading of the Constitution of the United States. The US Constitution gives the popularly elected President the responsibility to nominate judges for the Supreme Court. It also gives the Senate the responsibility to “Advise and Consent” on the President’s nomination(s). President Obama has stated he will carry out his responsibility. Senate Republicans, including the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, have publicly stated that they will not carry out their responsibility. Having sworn to uphold the US Constitution when they became senators, they are now publicly vowing to violate their oaths as US Senators, which is an impeachable offense for each of those Senators. I believe that if you are under articles of impeachment you may not vote on anything related to the articles. So, once impeached, the remaining Senators would constitute a Democratic majority and the Senate could carry out its Constitutional responsibility. Messy, yes, and the threat of such a move may bring some modicum of sanity back to the US Senate.”

        Come on legal eagles – weigh in on this. Lifer?

    • 1mime says:

      I’ve been digging to see if there are any legal actions or parliamentary maneuvers available to Democrats to fight the GOP obstruction of the SC nomination process. It appears others have been looking as well. Here is one parliamentary tool that Dems can use to at least make life miserable for the GOP for the duration of their obstruction: Motion to Discharge.

      “Here’s how Riddick’s Senate Procedure, the bible of Senate parliamentary procedure, describes the process:

      ‘Any motion or resolution to discharge a committee from further consideration of proposed legislation or nominations, when submitted, which is in order in the Morning Hour during the presentation of other resolutions, or if presented by unanimous consent, goes over for 1 legislative day on objection to its immediate consideration, and is treated as a resolution being laid before the Senate in the next Morning Hour, following the order of submission of other resolutions.
      Riddick’s states that the motion to proceed to a motion to discharge is debatable, meaning it must receive 60 votes before the actual motion to discharge can be considered by the full Senate….'”

      “If a motion to discharge a committee from a matter has gone over a legislative day and has been placed on the Calendar, a motion to proceed to its consideration after the end of the Morning Hour is in order, and debatable, and if agreed to, displaces the unfinished business.
      The motion to discharge is also itself debatable. Neither the motion to discharge nor the motion to proceed to it is privileged, which means the Senate can displace each motion or debate over it with a simple majority vote.
      “the best parliamentary tool for Senate Democrats is the motion to discharge. Although Democrats will only have a few narrow windows in which they can make their motions to discharge, this particular parliamentary tool allows them to gum up the works and force Republicans to take votes on a matter that is directly related to the Supreme Court vacancy. Rather than just generally obstructing the Senate’s daily business–for example, disrupting Defense funding bills or popular tax relief packages–as part of a larger temper tantrum, the motion to discharge gives Democrats the ability to stay on message.”

      Clear as day, right? This author thinks it’s the only viable tool for Democrats to use. What do Democrats have to lose by not trying this?

      http://thefederalist.com/2016/02/16/can-senate-democrats-force-a-vote-on-obamas-supreme-court-nominee/

  14. Griffin says:

    Doesn’t being backed by fiscal voodoo and feel good emotion just make Sanders the left’s answer to Reagan? Hey don’t blame me blame Herbert, he said it first.

    Taking a page out of the right we should vote for his agenda for 15 years, double down on it whenever anyone questions us for another 15 years, and then primary all Dems who disagree. Our establishment pundits won’t be totally on board but they’ll basically write apologetics for us until our insanity becomes too radical and transparent that it directly affects their cushy Beltway jobs to stay on the ship.

    But then when a right-winger starts campaigning on odder fiscal policies we’ll convenientally rediscover budgeting.

    Seriously though while I definately take issues with some of Sanders economic plans (and feel there’s PLENTY to criticize) in terms of economic voodoo even “moderate” Marco Rubio is about a hundred times worse than Sanders, as weird as that sounds (http://www.vox.com/2015/11/5/9676176/marco-rubio-tax-plan-poor). If Sanders freaks you out you should be screaming at the rooftops about Rubio.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      I think the difference is that Bernie’s plans have a proven track record of working in countries around the world.

      Reagens didn’t.

    • 1mime says:

      I hope those here who are looking at a Rubio candidacy will do their homework. Not only is he ultra conservative (look it up), but his budget is hopelessly over the top. I believe the GOP establishment has already picked their horse in this race – a little late, but they are working to get Rubio into position. He’s really their best hope even if he’s inadequate. The Party can’t alienate Trump as he “might” pull this thing off, but they look like they’re finally making a move to field a candidate more of their liking.

      As weird as this sounds, I trust Trump more than I do Rubio, certainly more than Cruz. Kasich is positioning for a VP slot – he knows he doesn’t have a shot at Pres. He will stay in until he gets the deal he wants. Why wouldn’t he? Cruz – Hopefully not only will his POTUS try fail, but the GOP will finally get behind a viable alternative in TX to send this man back to a regular job.

  15. Rob Ambrose says:

    Man, sounds like things are getting awfully wacky down in Nevada.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Trump is just steamrolling the field with almost 50% of the vote. His biggest margin of victory yet with Super Tuesday right around the corner…

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I know it’s not apples to apples, but it would appear Trump may have gotten a plurality of jebs supporters, and if so, Trump just locked up the nom.

        If Trump seals it all on Tuesday, there couldn’t even be a brokered convention, would there? Seems like your need some close races to make that a viable option. The party couldn’t go with someone else if Trump wins so easily in the booth could they? That would make the entire primary process into a joke.

        What would be the point of even having them if a few elites pick anyways, despite a clear preference by the voters?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I’m torn between viewing Trump as completely hilarious or wildly sad.

        I continue to assume that this is still the “silly season” of politics and once people start paying attention, things will settle down. Iowa is always quirky, New Hampshire can get pulled in lots of different directions, even Newt won South Carolina, and Nevada is an odd political state. Goofy results in any one of these early contests is to be expected. Trump however, has strung together a second place finish and three first place finishes. At some point these quirks become a trend.

        Really smart folks keep talking about Trump having a ceiling well below 50%, but the current evidence suggests that Rubio and Cruz have ceilings below 25%.

        If the early data are correct, Trump is pushing 50% with Hispanic voters in Nevada (granted, Hispanic voters voting in a GOP caucus, so that may be getting half of about 14 people).

        If Trump manages to blitz super-Tuesday, it may be too late for people to start paying attention because his delegate counts may be so high that even a brokered convention is not possible.

        I still think that it will be Rubio; that the powers-that-be inside the GOP will do whatever it takes to stop Trump, but there is a nagging thought that Trump may be impervious to GOP power.

        With that said, I don’t think we’ve seen straight-up attack ads on Trump. He’s said and done enough goofy stuff through the years that the dark arts masters inside the GOP could launch 100 pretty damaging ads.

      • Griffin says:

        I’m starting to think it’s not impossible he takes over half the delegates. If Trump wins Florida, Ohio, and Georgia, watch out. He might not even need Texas. In fact after Cruz takes Texas it will just make the GOP nomination seem like a contest primarily between Trump and Cruz, so voters might start to ignore Rubio and other Establishment types and focus on those two.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Griffin, the only one of those Trump MIGHT not take is Texas, and Texas is proportional, so Trump will grab a large amount of delegates regardless.

        Ohio and Florida though are winner take all. and Trump will winbthose.

        I just don’t see a path for anyone else to easily beat him at this point

      • 1mime says:

        FYI, polling in TX shows Cruz’ leading but declining. He was up 8 points and shaky. He may still prevail with TP support, but in an election like this, with high voter turnout, that might not be enough. I would love to see Cruz’ home state send him a gold plated message.

      • flypusher says:

        “With that said, I don’t think we’ve seen straight-up attack ads on Trump. He’s said and done enough goofy stuff through the years that the dark arts masters inside the GOP could launch 100 pretty damaging ads.”

        Except that Trump’s mutant super power is that he is 100% shameless. He’s saying fresh goofy stuff right now, and none of it does any damage.

        It is too early to congratulate you on your insight in winning our Trump campaign pool?

      • 1mime says:

        Just talked to a young man – say, early 30s who was repairing a head on our sprinkler system. He said he doesn’t vote but that if he did, Trump would get a serious look. He is in the hole because of health cost increases from the ACA, and he thinks that the only one of the candidates who is telling the truth is Trump.

        There you have it. I asked him: What are Trump’s specific plans for all these things he rails against? How, exactly, is he going to get them changed, fixed, whatever?

        No answer. Nice young man but clueless. I politely told him that this was a very important election and he should take the time to become informed, or don’t complain.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @Homer: That’s not going to happen. Cruz might be able to outflank Trump in a one-on-one, but Rubio’s odds are less than optimistic: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/01/14/poll_trump_leads_rubio_in_hypothetical_one_on_one_matchup.html

        Besides that, Trump hasn’t made much of an effort to go after Rubio in the same way that he’s gone after Jeb!, Cruz and others. Unless my fellow Floridian is hiding some political savvy under that pearly white smile of his, there’s no reason to believe that he’d fare any better against The Donald than anyone else. He’s as weak as the rest of them and Trump knows it.

      • 1mime says:

        My chief complaint about Trump is that he’s not being required to provide details to support his hyperbole. The GOP establishment is not forcing the issue and neither is the press – and that is terribly wrong. I think Trump is savvy enough to know the GOP establishment is appalled at the possibility (probability?) of him being the nominee for the Republican Party. I believe, if Trump is elected president, there will be some payback on that score. Trump is not a generous man and he will exact revenge from those who will “hold their noses” and vote for him while not supporting him. He knows what’s going on.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      John Kasich, because he thinks people are stupid, sent out a message tonight talking about how horrible the result is for Rubio.

      As of right now, Kasich has not even hit 1,000 votes and is losing to Carson. Rubio is beating him by 20 percentage points, yet Kasich is talking about this being a disappointing result for Rubio.

      It is looking like the only hope of knocking out Trump is to get it to a two-man race. I think the GOP insiders could convince Kasich to drop out by promising a VP or cabinet position. There is nothing the GOP insiders could do to cause Cruz to voluntarily drop out. Cruz might drop out if he gets crushed in the southern primaries, but he won’t do it just to please the GOP insiders (and he might stay in just to spite them).

      Conceivably, the GOP could talk Rubio into dropping out, but I cannot imagine them wanting to hitch their wagons to Cruz.

      So, if the GOP is really powerful, they convince Kasich to drop out this week and carpet bomb the upcoming primary states with anti-Cruz ads, hoping his support slips to Rubio instead of Trump (which is not a guarantee).

  16. flypusher says:

    For your amusement, Alito gets so totally TOLD by Sotomayor:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/supreme_court_dispatches/2016/02/in_the_oral_arguments_for_utah_v_strieff_the_supreme_court_s_liberals_spoke.html?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link

    I completely get why the GOP doesn’t want another like her on the court. But that still doesn’t makes their lames excuses right or Constitutional or anything but partisan obstructionist temper tantrum.

    And if anyone’s thinking about quoting Biden from 1992 back at me, he was wrong too, even if it was just hypothetical.

    • 1mime says:

      Ah, the 4-4 court in all its glory. All these “test” cases trickling up from conservative jurisdictions expecting to result in a SC ruling that establishes new case law on their “favorite” new issue? Be careful what you ask for:

      “By the time the justices file off the bench around noon, it seems probable the court will indeed divide 4-to-4, liberals against conservatives, on Strieff. That will leave the Utah Supreme Court’s pro-exclusion ruling in place, but fail to establish any nationwide rule. It would also represent one small conservative revolution thwarted.”

      Now, as I have suggested earlier, there’s nothing to celebrate here, because conservatives will test this same issue in one jurisdiction after another, in effect piece-mealing the law they want since they no longer have Scalia to do it for them.

      In a related ruling, the decision by Justice Sullivan to uphold the conservative demands from Justice Watch on the HRC email matter, is directly refuted by another justice at the same level, different court. How do these two cases reconcile? Appeal, appeal…to whom?

      The decision by Republicans to block O’s nomination for SC from even having a hearing, is going to have a long pair of legs before this year is over. It looks likely that our American system of jurisprudence will become a patchwork of contradictions. So much for Democracy.

    • MassDem says:

      Don’t worry Fly, if you look at the rest of his speech, Joe Biden didn’t say what right wingers claim he said.

    • 1mime says:

      How interesting – we have directly opposing rulings over the same Clinton email issue. I guess different people can look at the same facts and come to different conclusions…..The fact that the dissenting judge, Boasberg was appointed by O, and Sullivan by Reagan adds spice to the discussion.

      As I stated earlier, the “GOP establishment” is in high gear.

      “Last month, one of Sullivan’s colleagues, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, dismissed lawsuits brought by Judicial Watch and Cause of Action Institute that sought to force the government to take more-aggressive steps to recover Clinton’s deleted emails under the Federal Records Act.

      Plaintiffs “cannot sue to force the recovery of records that they hope or imagine might exist,” Boasberg wrote Jan. 11, adding that, to date, recovery efforts by the State Department and the National Archives under that law “cannot in any way be described as a dereliction of duty.”

    • flypusher says:

      You really are reminding me of all those Iraqi War apogists who got all excited over each rumor of a WMD site find, only to have their hopes and dreams dashed when the story got updated.

      Wake me up if any charges get filed.

      • 1mime says:

        As Lifer stated in an earlier post, this is a witch hunt and it’s designed to create suspicion and help their nominee (s) and to divert valuable time and energy and resources away from her campaign. Imagine trying to run for the office of POTUS while dealing with all of this. Ugly politics and so predictable.

        How many months did you say are left til the general election?!

      • Creigh says:

        Why anyone thinks Sanders is more vulnerable to Republican slander than Clinton is beyond me.

      • MassDem says:

        It is a given that ANY Democrat president will be delegitimized by the Right. If Jesus Himself ran as a Dem, they would probably refer to Him as a dirty hippie with no prior political experience and anger issues. Not to mention a rabble-rousing Socialist.
        Come to think of it, Sanders’s platform is a lot closer to a WWJD platform than anyone’s in the GOP. Just an observation.

  17. Rob Ambrose says:

    Chris, it seems like you (and other like minded republicans) may have the opportunity of a lifetime coming up to remake the GOP into what you think it should be.

    We’ve talked about a potential split in the GOP. The more I think about it, the more I think the divorce has already been finalized. I know most establishment types, even if Trump wins this cycle, think he’s just a one off before things go back to normal. I honestly don’t think the base is ever coming back to the GOP as it’s currently constructed.

    The SC results were a huge eye opener. Ted Cruz ran a devastating attack showing Trump saying, explicitly, “I’m very pro choice” and it wasn’t all that long ago. In any other cycle in recent years, that ad alone dooms any GOP candidate, and yet Trump wins the evangeelical vote, albeit narrowly. This only makes sense to me in the context of, southern conservatives simply aren’t voting the social issues anymore, and that dynamic (if true) would completely change the entire Republican Party. The culture war issues have been the only carrot the GOP elites have been able to hold out for these millions of votes, and it’s worked very well.

    It makes a certain amount of sense. I envision something similar to Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs, whereby there’s a pyramid with the base needs at the bottom (food, shelter, water etc), and each level up has more specialized needs (job satisfaction, self actualization etc). But you cannot attempt to satisfy the needs of a higher level of the pyramid until you’ve satisfied the baser ones. You’re not going to be worried about content with you’re work situation if you don’t have food or shelter. So I think about something like a political Hierarchy of Needs for these voters. social issues like abortion, gay marriage etc are great to focus on (for them) AS LONG AS their more basic political needs are taken care of, those being a steady job, upward mobility, etc. For most of the past few decades, even though the middle and lower classes have totally stagnated, these voters have at least had enough to fill their base needs, so they’ve been able to prioritize and vote for the next level, the social issues. Now, I believe the balance has tipped and these voters have fallen enough that their base level needs are no longer being met, and thus, they must focus on those first before they can satisfy their other political needs. And so these voters don’t CARE if Trump is probably pro choice. They don’t care he doesn’t know how to pronounce 2nd Corinthians. Because at this moment, all they care about is getting theiur jobs back (you know, the ones that are never actually coming back). And just like any society where people are much worse off now then they have been in recent years (like, say, Germany in the 30’s) they don’t care about policies. They’re scared, and they yearn for a Strongman to come in and talk about how he’s going to kick everyones ass, how he’s going to make their oppressors pay (Jews, Mexicans etc) and all that.

    That’s why the common attacck against Trump (“He’s not REALLY a conservative!!”) is doomed to fail. Because his supporters already know this. And they don’t care. They know that the promised economic growth ffrom tax cuts for the rich is just snake oil. And they also know that the elites aren’t going to stop the scourge of progressiveism either, as evidence by the past 40 years. Combined with the fact that they no longer have even their base political needs being met, and they see no reason to vote for a Trump-less GOP candidate.

    So to that end, if I’m right, this isn’t a one cycle aberration. The factors that caused these voters to become like this are not getting fixed anytime soon, even if we tackled it today. The current GOP platform offers absolutely nothing to these voters, and they are no longer persuaded by social issues. So regardless of who wins this cycle, I believe the base is never coming back ini any meaningful way. So that means that the party infrastructure/platform will need to be restructured in a very dramatic way, which presents an opportunity for all the sane, reasonable conservatives out there to go out and make their pitch. The GOP is going to have to try to replace all those millions of southern votes, and there’s no other bloc out there willing to give away the store in exchange for culture wars platitudes. I;m hoping they realize the only other bloc available is the moderates. Of course, they’ll need to seriously change their platform to win them over.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      But if Rubio is the candidate, he’s a more conservative version of Mitt Romney, but he runs to the center in the general election, and the whole cycle rinses and repeats.

      True conservatives piss and moan that the GOP would do better with a real conservative candidate, the blue-blood GOP gets someone who promises tax cuts, and the social-issue voters get someone who has been outspokenly anti-choice and anti-gay marriage.

      The GOP slightly holds the Senate and still holds the House. The next mid-term election is generally favorable for the GOP because Hillary is President and mid-terms are rarely nice to sitting Presidents.

      The GOP gets more entrenched in red states with lots of governors and legislatures.

      In 2020, a more dynamic, simply better candidate emerges from the GOP to beat Hillary after 12 years of Democrats in the White House, generally slow economic growth, and a full decade of government getting nothing done.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I don’t thik the base is ever coming back. They won’t vote for an establishment candidate. They won’t vote Democrat, I think they’ll just stay home. More likely, I think they’ll form their own party, probably along the Tea Party lines.

        They are effectively disenfranchised. Perhaps not in fact, but essentially in practice. The voodoo economics that comprise the GOP economic policy not only doesn’t help them, it actively hurts them. Their other concerns, the social wars, has been a slow losing battle for decades.

        And what haappens to groups historically that become disenfranchised? They tend to just not vote at all. It’s why the black vote is historically so low, even though they are the onee of the groups most in need of political representation.

      • 1mime says:

        Great progression of thought on what’s happening with the GOP base, Rob. My question to you is why do you not believe that the Democratic Party could also change? I don’t think the Tea Party is a viable option for most thinking people….too narrow, too privileged a group. Let’s focus some thought (for the sake of balance) on whether a two-party system is important for the democratic process, and, if so, what would an ideal platform be for each? We know conservatives need social moderation and fiscal fairness. Liberals need more fiscal responsibility and ?

        I don’t believe that any political system protects individual rights absent a checks and balance. If the focus is simply remaking the Republican Party into a more moderate Democratic Party, what keeps the process in check?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Rob, you may be right, but I’m going to need to see an election or two where rabid conservatives have less reliable turnout than liberals.

        It also is important to remember the Rubio is remarkably conservative. Based on various “scorecards” of conservatives versus liberals, Rubio is more conservative than 77% of the GOP in congress.

        Read that again, he’s not more conservative than 77% of congress, he’s more conservative than 77% of congressional republicans.

        Rubio would be the most conservative person nominated in remotely recent history.

        He’s not as mean as Cruz, but he’s practically as conservative on all issues (and more conservative on a few). He’s not as loud as Trump, but he’s much more conservative than Trump.

      • 1mime says:

        Rubio doesn’t support exceptions for the life of a mother or for rape. That, alone, would keep me from voting for him. Beyond that, he lacks substance. I would not trust him on critical security decisions and I do not trust those who are backing him.

        IOW, Rubio is a younger, more shallow, less experienced, less principled Romney, and I didn’t vote for him either.

    • antimule says:

      I think that’s spot on.

  18. MassDem says:

    A call to arms in Massachusetts, Cradle of American Liberty™

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2016/02/22/mass-voters-should-stop-trump/v6qudgMmpU0bMWbDTdQ00H/story.html

    I can see the consternation in the Globe editor’s office now…
    “But we’ve got to give them someone to vote for!”

    • 1mime says:

      This is dangerous coming from the main newspaper in Boston in a pre-dominently Democratic state. Do they think HRC is such a lock on the Dem nomination that they are focusing on the GOP race? Wow!

      • MassDem says:

        I don’t know why the Globe is freaking out so much over this…doubtful that a Republican will take the state in the general so who cares.

        Unless this is a way to decrease Sanders’s vote in the Dem primary–he is leading in MA currently.

      • 1mime says:

        Do you feel this is a back-door endorsement of Sanders over Clinton? Either way, if they want a Democrat to win in a state where that is the pre-dominent party, I still don’t understand their logic in urging voters to forgo the Democratic primary (which will also be close) for the GOP primary. Doesn’t make sense. sorry.

        Looks like Trump had a big win in NV….will be interesting to see who comes in second and third. CNN is reporting that people there are really angry with the federal government – whatever “that” means….such sweeping denouncements, hardly know what people are really thinking and trying to say….They better not ask me…they’ll get bullet points (-:

  19. MassDem says:

    Katrina Pierson–the gift who keeps on giving.

    http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2016/02/22/gop-presidential-race-panel-se-cupp-katrina-pierson-lead.cnn

    Marco Rubio is an ANCHOR BABY!!!! And is only eligible under that pesky “Anchor Baby Law”, aka Article II, section 1 of the US Constitution.

  20. MassDem says:

    Here’s a demographic that we almost never talk about, but is becoming more & more relevant every day–single women:

    http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/02/political-power-single-women-c-v-r.html

    The US is approaching levels of singlehood already achieved by other developed countries; around half of American adults are single. And what does the modern GOP offer to single women? Nada. No equal pay, no health care, no childcare, no control over their own reproduction…nothing.
    You want to reform the GOP? Start with this demographic.

    The end of the $%@# patriarchy is LONG overdue.

    • MassDem says:

      And Mime, you were right about Kasich. What a jerk. There is not one candidate on the GOP side worthy of any woman’s vote in this election. Luckily, there are two decent choices on the Dem side.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      What jerks.

      • 1mime says:

        It’s about time women started standing up for themselves – at home, at work, in politics. Egalitarian relationships are the most fair unless unusual circumstances come into play. Women work the same long hours at their “outside” jobs, then come home and do all the other stuff? R U kidding me? Find a partner who will share all the workload and respect you. This is a generation of domination that is thankfully fading, thanks to education and the efforts of those who have blazed the trail.

        It’s past time for equal pay for equal work, paid maternity leave, and an unfettered choice about one’s own body. I applaud our single young women for their independence!

      • MassDem says:

        Candy & flowers are nice but you know what’s really sexxxy?
        Vacuuming the living room. Without being asked.

        Free tip from me to all of you dudes out there–you know who you are. 😉

      • 1mime says:

        Of course, you have to overlook all the stuff that clogs up the vacuum, and the dents in the furniture, but, hey, there’s a learning curve! Practice makes perfect!!!

      • MassDem says:

        “Before saying a word, he [Ajahn Chah] motioned to a glass at his side. “Do you see this glass?” he asked us. “I love this glass. It holds the water admirably. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring. Yet for me, this glass is already broken. When the wind knocks it over or my elbow knocks it off the shelf and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ But when I understand that this glass is already broken, every minute with it is precious.”

        Learning to let go is an important life skill.

  21. flypusher says:

    More dirty tricks from the Cruz campaign:

    http://www.vox.com/2016/2/22/11095388/ted-cruz-rubio-rick-tyler-bible

    Personally, I’d rather know about where a candidate stands on supporting science, or how to revamp our immigration system, or how to make sure we no longer have banks that are too big to fail, or his/her plans on rebuilding infrastructure, or when s/he thinks it’s appropriate to send in the US military than what s/he thinks about the Bible. But a blatant lie is a blatant lie, and I have to wonder how much responsibility Teddy has here. Of course the staffer will fall on his sword.

    • 1mime says:

      The GOP establishment is making its move to get behind Rubio. So much for letting the Democratic process work.

      “The Republican establishment has a message for John Kasich: get out, and get out of Marco Rubio’s way.
      A string of elected officials, GOP insiders and prominent donors officially threw their support behind Rubio on Monday, calling him their last chance to take down Donald Trump. Their statements had another common theme. Some explicitly called for Kasich to quit, while others sent the same message by saying the Ohio governor’s ongoing presence is holding Rubio back.”

      Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/gop-insiders-want-kasich-gone-219634#ixzz40x7hcfTK

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        And they just assume that all of Jeb! and Kasich’s voters will flock to Rubio? Even if that were the case, which it isn’t, The Donald still clobbers him. As long as both he and Cruz stay in the race, they can’t overtake Trump.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Yup. Frankly, I just don’t see a path for anyone BUT Trump at this point.

        If any other candidate went 2-1-1 the first three primaries, he’d be getting crowned already.

        Instead we have the 2nd and 3rd place finishers acting like they just won the presidency, so convinced are they of Trumps inability to win.

      • flypusher says:

        Rubio’s in Trump’s sights now:

        http://theweek.com/articles/607614/donald-trump-about-terrible-things-marco-rubio

        Although this is totally anathema to GOPers, Rubio should look to Obama here. Obama put that bully in his place, with style.

    • vikinghou says:

      Come Super Tuesday, I am tempted to go to the polls and vote in the GOP primary. I would cast my vote for Trump in a symbolic attempt to deny Cruz a victory in Texas. If Cruz lost his home state it would be the death knell for his campaign. I wonder if other Dems have entertained the same idea. Mischief.

      • flypusher says:

        I voted in the Dem primary yesterday for HRC. A friend of mine told me he’s going with the GOP primary because he likes his state rep (Cohen), but especially to vote against everyone on the list that Steve Hotsze so thoughtfully sent him.

        Just saw a Rubio commercial! Giving the establishment a conservative like Rubio is sending them a message? Sure, but not the one that pissed off voters want to send.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I think I want Cruz to win. His defeat would be absolute and humiliating and would force the kind of structural change needed to bring the GOP to where it needs to be.

        I’m afraid a Trump win would have the GOP establishment thinking he was a freak occurance and could continue on their trajectory.

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t see a path to TX for Trump, but there is a path for Sanders. HRC needs your vote more than Trump, if I may be so bold to suggest.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Rob – as sad as it is to say, but Cruz as President scares me more than Trump as President, and I would not want to take any chance of Cruz actually winning the general election.

        All it would take is the right scandal, the right economic collapse, or the right terrorist attack in the month or two before the election, and the GOP candidate wins. I would prefer that Cruz not be that candidate.

      • 1mime says:

        Totally agree, Homer. Way too risky.

      • flypusher says:

        Seconded. Any chance greater than zero is too high. Cruz is the absolute worst choice. Trump is the second worst.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I’ve had an internal dialog inside my head since I posted above just to make sure that I am comfortable saying that I would prefer a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, uninformed, blow-hard reality show celebrity as President over a sitting US Senator.

        Yep, if that Senator is Senator Cruz.

      • 1mime says:

        Homer, you have just qualified for membership in Lifer’s “Politics of Crazy” club. Welcome! You are in good company.

      • johngalt says:

        Fly, your friend and I must be twins. I am always vote in the GOP primaries, because that’s the only way for my vote to matter. I also live in Cohen’s district and like her as well. I have also kept the Hotze list as a voter anti-guide. I’m not sure who I will vote for in the presidential race yet. Kasich is the least bad of the remaining candidates but Rubio is the only one with a chance of rising to the level of Cruz or Trump. I simply would not under any circumstances vote for either of those demagogues.

      • 1mime says:

        I have done the same thing in prior elections, but this one is different because of the stakes for the Democratic nominee. For the first time since Wendy Davis ran for Governor, I will vote in the Democratic Primary.

  22. unarmedandunafraid says:

    So after all the thought given to the aftermath of losing the steel industry in the rust belt and the auto industry in towns like Detroit and Flint, what should we do in these cases. Is there a policy that would bring new industry? Or help people relocate? Maybe some other way to keep these failures from happening? Is there a policy that could have helped the coal producing areas as gas pushed its way onto the market?

    It seems like we should be thinking about this seriously, for those areas that depend on oil.

    • goplifer says:

      Again, a universal basic income. Along with it, a general decoupling of “work” in the form of employment at a job, and individual worth.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Dammit – somebody pinch me I agree 100% with Chris!

      • 1mime says:

        Gee, Duncan, even a blind squirrel can find acorn if he tries hard enough (-:

      • Speaking as a European lefty, this is objectively socialism. I’m not using the term as a pejorative as it’s commonly used on your side of the ocean: you are saying things that actual socialists say.

        Again, as a European lefty, I say this not as condemnation but as praise. That said, you need to realise that this is a symptom of where you have moved to on the political spectrum.

      • goplifer says:

        I wouldn’t call it socialism, at least not in a Marxist context, because socialism in that context is entirely premised on who owns capital. Perhaps its socialism in the pre-Marxist sense, as a form of social insurance.

        That said, as long as people are free to make decisions on their own about how to use their capital and their private ownership of capital is protected, I’m entirely comfortable with paying taxes toward the general welfare. In my opinion, that general welfare is best achieved with the maximum individual decision-making and least practical amount of public sector interference.

        Hence, a basic income seems like a great idea. It also would need to be accompanied by some kind of universal health insurance, preferably delivered by private (though not necessarily for-profit) insurers and providers, and paid via taxes.

      • 1mime says:

        How would private public health care not be for profit?

      • antimule says:

        Although I have plenty of sympathies towards the UBI, there are several reasons why I don’t see it happening any time soon:

        (i) the planet is pretty damn overpopulated, which means that the cost of labor is low. It just doesn’t pay to automate everything when you can always get a human being to work for starvation wages somewhere. Automation pays most when cost of labor is high.

        (ii) with overpopulation and a few disasters (e.g. global warming) it might be that we just won’t have enough resources to both build robots (that will cost electricity and spare parts) and feed all the people

        (iii) Even if we automate everything at it becomes completely impossible for anyone to find a job anywhere I suspect that it will take decades for culture to sufficiently change and accept that. Idea that work is necessary to a person is just that ingrained.

        And I doubt we can ever decouple “work” and individual worth. People who collect UBI will simply become the next “burger flippers” in the “worth” department.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        I like the idea of a Universal Basic Income. But in a case like Flint, do you think it would be enough? Would the population fall as fast as as far as it did? If a large percentage of the population only had a UBI, could infrastructure be supported? It seems that a loss of population would still reduce housing prices and that would make leaving even harder. The education system would also spiral down with the loss of property taxes.(assuming they depend on property taxes) I guess some of these questions can’t be answered until someone tries it.

        I wonder if the good people that are familiar with the Texas economy on this blog can imagine what a “sudden” end of oil and gas used in energy production would do to the cities of Texas? By sudden, I mean over a decade, maybe two.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Can we all just agree that the term ‘socialism’ is so broad that it effectively has no objective meaning?

        I mean, in some ways America has been a “socialist” nation since the New Deal. A nation can’t even BE “socialist”. There are no socialist countries, only socialist policies.

        Some countries have MORE socialist policies and some have less. But every single rich country (and many of the not so rich) have some form of socialism.

      • 1mime says:

        Rob, you’re working way too hard on this. Socialist policies such as America and many other industrialized nations govern with, are fine. You are preaching to the choir, my friend.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Unarmed – I think the long term trend of urbanization will continue to its inevitable conclusion, with the end result being that the vast majority of Americans (think 85%+) live in cities. The older people that tend to fill these areas are not being replaced by younger because there’s no jobs. And the more the young ppl leave, the less jobs there are. Which cause more young ppl to leave etc.

        It will be a long slow death (think 50-100 years or more) but I don’t think there IS any saving if towns like Flint. The best we can hope for is a slow enough process that the disruption is kept to a minimum (I.e. exactly what DIDNT happen in Flint).

        As for Flint specifically, this is a death sentence for the town. What person would move INTO Flint? What business?

        Sucks for homeowners, but I’d have to imagine their property values have fallen dramatically in the past few months. And that’s on top ofbthe already less then stellar housing prices there

      • 1mime says:

        What about the constant focus by Republicans on cutting taxes which then requires cutting basic services? A certain level of revenue is necessary to sustain community services. It needs to be realistic but it also needs to be adequate. There are many forces that combine to weaken social structures. Some are simply unavoidable – loss of auto industry jobs in a town where everyone worked there. Others are through designed neglect – where focus is on cutting taxes without sustaining a level of income necessary for government services to survive. Others exist due to inept and ignorant leadership or terrible policies – such as unaffordable pensions and benefits or a police department that gouges its citizens to create operating revenue, and so forth.

        I go back to the income divide. The wealthy can insulate themselves, the poor can’t. The irony is that eventually, all those poor people are going to cost society in higher taxes for health care, crime, and low earnings. They will not be able to contribute to society.

      • 1mime says:

        In Unarmed’s question, he is speaking to a broader issue than simply transition and subsistence. He’s referring (I believe) to the bigger problem of industry-wide job obsolescence and how we help large numbers of people. Sure, it will help to have a small guaranteed income, but beyond that simple fix, what do you propose to attain this “decoupling of work” and individual worth? Isn’t this problem of far greater magnitude?

    • Crogged says:

      We decoupled ‘wealth’ from things when the gold standard was abolished. Wealth, dollars, capital, are pieces of paper supported by a promise from a government and traded as a commodity in a market.

      Our goal, the experiment of the United States, support the freedom and equality of the individual person. There is no royalty, ‘God’s will’, is about earthquakes and your health, each of which are insurable. The American Revolution was so nuts that they even tore up their first constitution (which is why I love dearly departed Tony Scalia and ‘original intent’) in order to continue this experiment in heresy.

      Will people ‘work’? Of course they will, how the hell do you think you got all this?

  23. tuttabellamia says:

    LIfer, when you mention a breakdown of social capital, people (presumably the most educated) moving away and leaving the poorest and uneducated behind, the “filtration” process of properly vetting political candidates disappearing along with the people moving away — would this be a sort of “brain drain?”

    • goplifer says:

      That brain drain is happening, but it shouldn’t be conflated with the loss of social capital.

      People operating inside a healthy network will make decisions related to matters of their own interests that are smarter and more effective than any one of them would likely have made on their own. That ‘wisdom of crowds’ effect is the logic behind modern representative democracy and it doesn’t need geniuses in order to work.

      What has happened in Flint and many other places is that those networks have lost much of their vitality. We have fewer constructive contacts with one another, less accountability, and more and more of our energy is spent toward matters unrelated to local issues.

      The brain drain in rural areas and the Politics of Crazy are both rising from the same dynamics, but they are not the same problem.

      • 1mime says:

        Less and less contact with one another….And, that is why the loss of the middle class is so tragic. People needed one another and helped one another. “Individualism” may promote some fine achievements, but what are we giving up in return? Lives that are more isolated; lives spent focused more on what you’re looking at then what you are doing? Dialogue through machines? The absence of human contact. Change is constant but for all the gain, there are losses as each generation makes its mark.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Ok, so it’s about a breakdown in communication and unity. But don’t we have the same situation in wealthier, better-educated communities? Isn’t this newfound isolation across the board? Or is it that wealthier groups can “afford” to be isolated? Or maybe they are not really as isolated as one would think?

      • 1mime says:

        If I am understanding your question correctly, wealth does afford more choice. That’s not a bad thing – people work hard to achieve that independence. What’s wrong is when environmental, financial and social circumstances circumscribe one’s options through no lack of hard work or due to uncontrollable factors such as race or gender. This leads to social, cultural and financial factors that usually dictate school quality, neighborhood safety, job opportunities, and diversity, IOW, choice.

        If what you are referring to is the “choice to be isolated” in one’s educational or vocational activities, that’s a different discussion. We are glued to our computers, phones, and televisions. Those who choose to work at home enjoy many conveniences yet they may lose the benefit of interacting with others and the creativity that combination offers as Mark so succinctly described. Officing at home certainly allows focus (unless you have little kids running around), cost benefits, and convenience, but is something important lost in the process of isolating ourselves? At a certain point in life and in particular areas such as research, this can be very attractive. Still, scientists are learning that shared research can be invaluable to solve difficult problems and we all have enjoyed the incredible benefit of shared knowledge via the internet. As technology becomes more infused into our children’s educational process, learning will become more individualized. That’s good in many ways, but so are the lessons learned through shared experiences – lessons that continue to help us as we live our lives.

        In my view, diversity of learning and experience in all aspects of our lives are more valuable and healthy than isolation. After all, that’s why we’re all here on Lifer’s blog, right? To share thoughts, information and ideas?

      • Creigh says:

        “Those networks have lost their vitality”

        I blame TV.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Blame the Roku.

  24. Griffin says:

    Would you have considered George McGovern and Barry Goldwater’s campaigns to part of the Politics of Crazy? What about the 1896 campaign of William Jennings Bryan? He was also making odd promises such as promising to yank us off the Gold standard and onto the inflationary Silver Standard. What about even crazier mayors such as William Hale Thompson? What about freaking Andrew Jackson throwing parties in the White House? Hell Martin Van Buren was basically the 1800’s answer to Trump, using the White House as an excuse to brag about how far he’d gotten in life?

    What about Teddy Roosevelt’s third-party campaign in 1912? For his time he was even more ambitious than Sanders despite having no chance of winning (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Party_(United_States,_1912))? Politics of Crazy?

    I’m just wondering if there’s anything unique about the era we live in or if it’s cyclical and easier to notice now that there’s more information readily available.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      That’s a good point. There’s an extremely powerful bias inherent in most of us that somehow “this time is different”.

      Kinda like how a teenager in love thinks that no ones ever felt such an emotion before.

      Past is prologue, as they say. Of course, a huge part (and the hardest) of overcoming any bias is by recognising it exists first.

      With that said, even taking that into account, I’m pretty sure that the political/social climate of right now IS different.

      It feels like there’s a major crossroads coming up in the next few years and I think ppl may look back at this time in similar terms that we look back at the 60’s today, which was indisputably a major crossroads.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      It truly is ironic that for all the anti-establishment fervor going on ’round us, so much of what plagues our politics could be effectively quashed if we had a strong, durable establishment to fall back on. Present company excluded of course, ignorance truly can be bliss…

      That aside, I don’t know about George McGovern, but I’d argue that Barry Goldwater certainly played a role in the Crazy that burdens us today. Everyone knows how he lost to LBJ in an electoral landslide, but Goldwater also made the best showing in what had been known as the Solid South for a Republican since flippin’ Reconstruction. Many contend that this was an acceleration in the shift of the South from solidly Democratic to staunchly Republican. Hardly an accident that Richard Nixon would go on to work his so-called “Southern Strategy” just four years later, wouldn’t you say?

      As for Teddy Roosevelt, I don’t think that that’s the case at all. If anything, his contributions of the Bull Moose Platform helped inspire much of what we saw in the New Deal Era as a result of just how much FDR admired his cousin and followed in his political footsteps (Roosevelt was in the New York legislature and even served as governor for a time, just like TR was).

      That said, I guess you could make the argument that TR proved that an insurgent, third-party campaign wasn’t an outright lost cause, but as far as contribution to the Politics of Crazy go, that’s pretty weak sauce, IMHO.

      • Griffin says:

        TR had no way of knowing that his platform would “inspire” a relative (who would become president) thirty years later, he was running to win. He lost, and even if he had won he had no chance of his Third Party taking even close to a majority of the House and Senate, meaning that most of his promises were “pie in the sky”. Even today we don’t have all the things he proposed. Saying he “won” because he got lucky someone similar to him won thirty years later is kinda like if a fortune teller predicts that one day a person will die, then takes credit for their prediction when that person dies of old age.

        If Sanders ran on a third-party, made the Dems lose, and then thirty years later someone implemented some of his ideas because they were kinda inspired by him, would Sanders be aquited from being part of the politics of crazy?

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        If we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of Teddy Roosevelt’s political life, which was very much intertwined with his personal ambitions, let’s keep in mind that this was a man who had to keep himself in the political arena to the point of it being near an obsession. TR experienced a lot of genuinely heartbreaking tragedy in his life, and contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe for a moment that he ever truly overcame his personal despair. Or, to sum it up in his own words:

        “Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough.”

        You want to know how far his political obsession ran? TR was flippin’ shot during a campaign speech during his third-party run and he refused to be taken away until he had finished speaking. That actually happened.

        All that aside, we’re getting off topic here. The question is did Teddy Roosevelt contribute to the Politics of Crazy? I don’t believe he did. Whether he knew that he would inspire FDR to carry on his legacy isn’t the point. The point is that that’s how his progressive legacy lived on.

        That said, you’re comparing apples and oranges when you talk about TR and Sanders. TR was neither inspired by Crazy nor did he promote it. Sanders is a consequential result of the Crazy that has infected our political system and given the chance to rise as high as he has a result of Democrats being too weak to stop him. This was a guy who wasn’t even a Democrat until yesterday, relatively speaking. A strong political establishment would never have let this happen.

  25. flypusher says:

    For your horrified amusement, today’s whacky Congressional candidate:

    http://m.startribune.com/lewis-book-offers-provocative-analysis-on-slavery-and-civil-rights/369306761/?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link

    I had to read that quote about slavery twice to make such I didn’t misunderstand it.

    Probably the primary process weeds him out. But if he won, would a political party have any defense? Can they officially “disown” him? Or would it have to be a more unofficial disowning in the form of denying campaign support (and effectively conceding the race to the other party) ?

  26. vikinghou says:

    The following sentence in this post struck a chord with me.

    “An economic revolution has shifted prosperity back toward the once-struggling downtowns of America’s largest cities. Rural areas and smaller cities are losing their reason to exist.”

    For a while I have been wondering about Flint’s future. Due to the extensive damage to the water infrastructure, the negative publicity, etc., property values have plummeted, probably permanently. Who would want to move there and buy a house? Even if government officials declared that the tap water is now safe, their arguments wouldn’t be persuasive due to ruined credibility.

    Local officials estimate that the cost to repair Flint’s water system may be as high as $1.5 billion, not to mention the cost of providing medical care to poisoning victims. I’m curious about how this figure compares to the cost of condemning and razing the city, and moving residents to another locality. This would involve compensating residents for their property loss and paying some sort of relocation subsidy. Is Flint worth saving? The city is sort of like America’s Chernobyl.

      • vikinghou says:

        That’s an excellent analogy. But of course doing this in Flint would be a much larger exercise. As I recall, however, the chemical company responsible for the contamination ended up paying the lion’s share after being sued by the government. This time it’s the government’s fault!

    • flypusher says:

      “I’m curious about how this figure compares to the cost of condemning and razing the city, and moving residents to another locality. ”

      I know that they’ve been doing that with sections if Detriot. If only a few occupied houses are left in a neighborhood, it’s too expensive to provide services. Cheaper to buy people out and tear it all down.

      • 1mime says:

        When we were all focused on the Flint crisis, I read an article that stated that white neighborhoods near plants that were polluting the air were razed but the poorer neighborhoods weren’t given that opportunity. I don’t recall the source but it may have come down to who had the means to file a class action suit and who didn’t.

      • objv says:

        fly, I read the following article awhile back. I’m posting it for it’s interest value rather than trying to make any kind of statement.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/in-detroits-mansion-districts-the-houses-are-in-hot-demand/2016/01/20/444d58ba-9a02-11e5-b499-76cbec161973_story.html

        In the Cleveland area, I know that many abandoned homes were razed and the lots given to the neighboring owners. It was considered cheaper for the cities to give away the land than to try to maintain the properties.

        One of my nephews and one of my nieces graduated from college just a few years ago and are still in their early twenties. They were able to buy nice houses on modest salaries, since housing prices are still low in the area. While many people lost their homes, others benefited from lowered prices and interest rates. Being young and/or minority ceased to be a disadvantage to many.

      • 1mime says:

        Ob, that’s a wonderful example of reclamation. It has happened all over the nation but is always welcome news. So often (as inTX inside the loop), people who have lived in the city environs for generations are being bought out or squeezed out by developers and individuals who want their location. One hopes these displaced families will be fairly compensated but where do they go next? Many are old and rely on public transportation which is non-existent in the suburban communities. I’m happy to see these wonderful homes lovingly cared for and new life coming into Detroit. It would be tragic to see these homes razed. Another important point in the article dealt with the fact that these new homeowners are frequently bringing their businesses with them. It seems they finally have lots of room to office out of their homes (-:

      • objv says:

        Mime, it makes me happy to see those beautiful old homes cherished by their new owners. My sister lives in a home built in the 40s or 50s. While far from being a mansion, it is well built and pretty architecturally. It’s a real shame so many of those old homes were torn down.

  27. antimule says:

    What is your opinion on SJW movement (especially loons shrieking at professors at Yale) ? Do you think of them as part of lefty politics of crazy?

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      SJW?

      • antimule says:

        SJW = social justice warriors.

      • flypusher says:

        IIRC ” social justice warriors”. It’s easier to comment on specific examples, and I’ll Google a few shortly, but I think this is about very left wing students getting angry over preceived lack of sensitivity.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        OK. Yeah that’s a pretty broad term. There are times when it’s appropriate to be a “warrior” for certain social causes (wealth distribution, police brutality against the poor etc). Others when it’s ridiculous (trigger warnings at colleges, microagressions etc).

        At the end of the day, college is for that stuff. Many of these kids are just finding their own voice at that time and it probably feels good to scream a bit.

        I don’t hear of too many working adults going on about trigger warnings or the like. I don’t think too many real world lawsuits are being won using the “microagression” argument.

        Academia and campuses have always played a huge role in seeding movements and creating social change. The movements that are relevant and important and have staying power tend to spread from the camouses to society at large (the civil right movement, the Vietnam anti war movement etc). The ones that have no audience outside of campus fizzle and die with no harm, no foul. These SJW are of the latter.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Rob, I agree with you for the most part, except that it’s not necessarily just the “kids” (students) who are involved but also the teachers, and that’s when it’s most likely to become an impediment to learning.

      • flypusher says:

        Here’s an infamous recent example:

        http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/11/the-new-intolerance-of-student-activism-at-yale/414810/

        My short opinion-the students are wrong on this one.

      • Be careful; the word “SJW” is heavily debased by now. A lot of people on the internet will use it to describe anyone who is to the political left of Joseph McCarthy.

        McCarthy is probably a good example, in fact. In his time there were genuine communists who genuinely wanted to end democracy and were a genuine threat, but that doesn’t mean that demagogues were right when they obsessed over communist plotters being behind every bush and tree, or that they were justified in using the term to label everyone who opposed them.

    • goplifer says:

      SJW=Assholes leveraging ideology

  28. Steve says:

    While you’re usually spot on, this time you commit the commentator sin of changing the facts to fit your desired narrative.
    “No state worker would have made any critical decisions about Flint’s water supply if the city’s voters could have produced a remotely competent local government.”

    That is simply not true. All water plans like changing the source of drinking water must be approved by the state environmental department. In this case, the state environmental workers made a critical decision to not require corrosion control – that was the decision that led to the problem.

    Who is to say that local government wouldn’t have made the same decisions if they were not under state control? They did vote to switch water supplies in the first place, and when the state made the decision to use river water in the interim, it wasn’t a huge issue.

    The real lesson of Flint is not “an utter failure of representative government. Flint was wrecked by its own voters.” But rather that government at all levels will make mistakes. Government is made up of people and people are not perfect. Therefore, we should not expect a perfect government.

    The real lesson is that the checks that are in place by state and federal government are important and needed. I have seen a lot of people say that this is a failure of government and less government / a privatized water system would have prevented this. I see no merit in this, as a private system would have incentive to cut corners. Government is supposed to protect the people, and it would be doing a better job all around if so many didn’t think government should be run by the rules of a corporation / starve the beast / I got mine, screw you attitude.

    So…. Please write a new post with these facts: Local and state technical workers failed to produce clean water. When the problem was detected, political pressures delayed a timely response.

    • goplifer says:

      I see your point, but I don’t reach the same conclusion from the facts. The decision to switch from Detroit’s water system to a local system, with an intermediate step of taking water from the Flint River, was taken under heavy pressure from state employees after years of prior resistance from local officials. That decision was pressed by the emergency manager, approved by the largely powerless city council, then placed in the state’s hands for final approval and execution.

      http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2013/03/flint_emergency_manager_endors.html

      Yes, mistakes were made. But those mistakes were mostly made by people at the state level, not normally responsible for these kinds of decisions, and by people who would not *own* the outcomes of those decisions. A functioning local government could have easily navigated this process without such disastrous outcomes

      Have lost meaningful oversight, there was no local official with the influence and power to listen to this warning, for example: http://triblive.com/usworld/nation/9967878-74/flint-glasgow-river

      This was not an ‘oops.’ It was a huge, unnecessary mess. This is what happens when self-government collapses. This is the kind of thing that happens under well-meaning imperial rule.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, no one at any level or any party who held responsibility for the cumulative problems in Flint can be exonerated. But, I will not give the governor and his appointed director of the MEPA a pass on the water issue. Vital information about the contamination of the water was withheld and delayed at the highest levels with tragic consequences. These men had the responsibility and the ultimate authority to manage this problem and to honestly, openly and timely confront it. Instead, they demurred and the problems escalated from there, with lasting health consequences. The buck has to stop somewhere despite irresponsible and, yes, ignorant leadership going back for decades from Democratic leadership. Republicans proudly proclaim their superior governing skills yet they failed badly on this major test.

        Our social institutions are imperiled because our collective political system has ignored and contributed to the disarray in our poorest communities. People have lost faith that government will provide basic protections for them. Those who are affluent form Tea Party movements and have the sophistication and means to achieve change. Poor people have been ignored and disenfranchised for so long that they don’t believe they can make a difference anymore. All the while, politics as usual goes on.

        I believe our business sector and the Republican Party share blame for what is happening. Progress can be mean-spirited on its way to capture market share, and our small communities and their residents have paid the price. There have been warning signs, especially for Republicans, that their base is restless and Donald Trump is the consequence of inattention. For too long, the huge, terribly unfair income divide has been discredited, ignored, and kicked down the road principally by Republicans. Finally, low income, minimally educated white workers are facing problems that minorities have been living with for decades and they have found a mouthpiece for their anger. This roiling mass of people are not willing to accept second class status in party priority. The establishment and the consequences, be damned. Their time has come.

        We are seeing the culmination of social distress in this election. Desperate, poorly informed voters are seeking redress for their problems and needs through candidates who offer shallow solutions, but speak of hope and “appear” to understand their needs. This ticking time-bomb had to happen, and it may have unintended consequences. Let us hope that the leaders in both parties are listening. The GOP vowed to make changes in listening to their base ’08, then again in ’12. That didn’t happen and this is the result. Democrats have coasted on their responsibility to address worker problems more forcefully mainly due to GOP absolute refusal to work with them in the wake of the Great Recession. I don’t fault Democrats for not trying; I fault Republicans for arrogant obstruction. We have bridges on the verge of collapse, roads in terrible states of repair, major utility systems that need attention for such fundamental needs as water, gas and oil transmission lines, and, the latest, our highest court functioning without its full complement of justices. Government is not working for anyone right now but those at the top and ordinary Americans are tired of it.

        On the Democratic side, Sanders is tapping into much of the same frustration, but looking more broadly at the concerns of our burgeoning millennial population. These young people are paying the price from a nation that is more focused on security and profitability than on affordable educational development, and they want change as well. America’s problems span a wide range of people’s ages and needs, and Sanders is focused on many of the same disillusioned voters. The question is, is anyone listening?

      • goplifer says:

        Nobody’s getting a pass. Instead, we should all be getting a warning. This is what happens when large chunks of our governing infrastructure start to crater.

        Again, imagine if a UN team had come in and had to govern Flint for several years. How many errors and lapses would you expect to see. Or when US forces went into Iraq. Think of all the cluster-f&ks that resulted.

        Nothing about this situation is remotely partisan. This is about the failure of our governing infrastructure. Big adaptation challenge.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, I understand your broader point but there has to be accountability. Isn’t that why we have elected positions? Do you deny that the information distributed that told the people of Flint the water was safe was not an egregious example dangerous misrepresentation?

        Of course our social structures are collapsing. Of course mistakes are made. But, in this specific case, the mistakes mattered more because the problem was misrepresented AND mishandled. We can fault the dysfunctional process and collapsing social structures all day long but we should be able to count on our highest officials telling us the truth. The federal EPA released the copper mine toxins into one of CO’s rivers. It was a mistake – an avoidable one – but a mistake never the less. The government took responsibility and warned all about the contamination. That is NOT what happened timely in Flint.

        I can appreciate your message and even agree with it, but in this instance, I believe a court of law would call this “proportional responsibility” and award damages accordingly.

      • objv says:

        Mime, the EPA did NOT notify officials in New Mexico that toxic sludge was heading their way. Gov. Martinez learned of the situation from outside sources and then had to scramble to see what could be done.

      • 1mime says:

        That is not the whole story, Ob. We agree that the Governors of all abutting states should have been notified of the CO spill same day of occurrence, but EPA insists they were working to assess the magnitude of the spill’s impact not only at the site but for all tributaries that would be affected. Here’s a report on the timeline from date of incident to NM notification. At no point did the EPA deny their responsibility for causing the release. There is a big difference between the actions of acknowledgement taken by the EPA in CO and in Flint where months transpired during which local people were told their water was safe to drink, even as it was known to contain lead and other toxins. It is not clear from this report who the EPA reported the problem to in NM, but I certainly take Gov. Martinez’ word that she didn’t learn as quickly as she should have.

        Here’s the link to the timeline fyi:

        “A timeline of the Gold King Mine Spill into the Animas River:
        -Aug. 5, 2015, 10:30 a.m. – EPA workers say they accidentally release 1 million gallons of acidic and heavy metal contaminated mine sludge into Cement Creek near Silverton, Colorado.
        -Aug. 6, 2015, 9:30 a.m.: New Mexico officials are notified of the spill nearly 24 hours later.”

        http://www.kob.com/article/stories/s3877486.shtml#.VstzzZwrIhc

      • objv says:

        Mime, in all honesty, I do not think you understand the gravity of the situation and how important it was for there to have been immediate notification. Cities along the river had to have time to close intake valves and try to make the switch to alternative sources. Those having no access to alternative sources needed to be informed and have water provided to them.

        It was obvious that the EPA was at fault. It was obvious that the water was contaminated and toxic at the time the spill occurred.

        Say, there was a major hurricane headed to the Houston area and the city of Houston and population were informed a day late. Absurd? Yes, and that’s precisely what happened to the people of Southwest Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

      • 1mime says:

        Ob, I agree that the governors of the abutting states should have been notified same day and stated so in my response to your post. The supporting information – timeline, etc. was to demonstrate the sincere efforts of the EPA to acknowledge responsibility and fully address the problem and the concerns related to the spill. Contact was within 24 hours which is light years different than the Flint residents’ situation. It should have been quicker. We don’t disagree on that.

      • 1mime says:

        Yes, Ob. That is known fact. If you will read the entire article, you will see that there were many people who could have been more assertive in pursuing the Flint water problems. The EPA representative resigned as did the Governor’s DEQ appointee who had authority over this problem. Lots of blame to go around.

        One indisputable fact is clear: innocent children and adults were poisoned by months of drinking water that they had been led to believe was safe. That is a huge difference between the two problems.

      • objv says:

        Mime, you’re right in saying that our focus should be on the citizens who were exposed to contaminants in the water. My fear is that the focus has been political.

        Much of the commentary here and in news stories has been simplified to:

        Republican governor = Lead in Flint water supply. Therefore, it is all the Republicans’ fault and they are uncaring and racist.

        With some digging, we have found a more nuanced situation with most of the decisions to stall made by federal and state environmental agencies.

      • 1mime says:

        This is an old topic, Ob, so here are my last thoughts on it. I never stated nor have I read that Governor Snyder is racist. An investigation has been ordered to determine who knew what when. I personally believe he was involved and knowledgeable in how this crisis was managed, but I may be proven wrong. At the very least, management of the crisis was very poorly handled.

        Lifer is correct that the bigger problem is that our social structures are failing all over our country. This is far more serious than any singular crisis, unless, of course, your child is one of the many who have been poisoned.

      • objv says:

        Mime, Flint is an old topic, but Lifer is still referencing it.

        Both of my “children” were in town when the mine spill occurred. We did not drink the water but during the summer, I buy the majority of my produce, eggs and meat from vendors at the local farmer’s market who draw water from the rivers nearby.

        I’m involved in an organization that provides for children who leave abusive situations. I would say that I care at least as much for the poor Native American, Hispanic and white kids in the area as you do for the black kids in Flint. So, yes, I do consider “my kids” to have been “poisioned.”

      • 1mime says:

        Ob, that is so inane a comment “my children have been poisoned”, that it’s hard to frame a response. The EPA acted quickly and very openly. There was wide publicity and all who used the river water for drinking or irrigation were advised not to use the water. Within ten days, the river water was tested and deemed potable. This situation in no way relates to the more than eighteen months that people in Flint were drinking water they were told was potable. For you to suggest that your situation compares in any significance to what happened to the children in Flint is unconscionable.

      • objv says:

        Mime, some of the heavy metals sank to the river bottom and will potentially be stirred up when river flow increases due to heavy rains and snowfall in the mountains. It is easier to replace pipes than clear hundreds of miles of riverbed.

        Mime, both disasters should not have happened. The EPA played a part in both. Here in New Mexico, the EPA has still not paid for some of the damages incurred during the emergency response. The Navajo Nation is still suing the government – and with good reason.

        To say that the EPA response was good is political blindness. They were negligent.

        Perhaps, we are reading different blogs. I remember more than one person writing that the situation in Flint would not have happened if the population had been majority white. The implication was that a Republican governor would let black kids be poisoned due to racism. Some of the comments written were downright ugly and they were a rush to judgement with not all of the facts being known.

        I actually DO care about the children in my area of New Mexico. They are among some of the poorest in the nation and face some of the greatest challenges. Some Native American children drink water directly from the river. I’m sure that your assertion that the water is fit to drink after the mine spill will reassure the parents once the snow melts in the mountains and stirs up sediment.

      • duncancairncross says:

        More Craziness
        The EPA was negligent
        the EPA has still not paid for some of the damages incurred during the emergency response

        Sanity check!!!

        The EPA did NOT cause the problem – the miners caused the problem
        The EPA was trying to fix the problem – without enough resources and information

        This is like blaming the fire department because a house with an illegal gasolene tank burned down and they weren’t able to put it out until the next door house got singed

      • objv says:

        Duncan, It was more like the fire department setting an old house on fire to prevent a future fire and losing control of the blaze – having done this without having notified neighboring homeowners first.

        Sure, the miners were the ones who caused the initial problem but since the mine was operational during the 1800s and closed down completely in 1923 that would be like blaming a builder for a house built in 1875 not being up to code.

  29. flypusher says:

    This is interesting:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-k-black/wall-streets-message-to-y_b_9287066.html

    We’ve talked before about the parallels between Bernie and the Donald and what motivates their supporters. So here is the left wing flipping the bird to the establishment, and the establishment being as clueless as ever, saying “hey you should respect us” rather than “hey, you have some valid economic concerns, we need to address those.”

    The universal basic income would help in terms of supplying basic needs in an economy where more and more workers are displaced. But most people need a purpose, or at least something to do. A few need something to do to keep them out of trouble. Not everyone has imagination and creativity- how do they stay occupied? I think the idle hands being the devil’s workshop has relevance here.

    • Steve says:

      The basic income (and frankly most other temporary safety net programs not tied to age or disability) should be uncomfortable enough to live on that most will choose to get a job. You can never get 100% to do anything no matter what, so that shouldn’t be the goal, but the safety net is important and we shouldn’t let a few slackers ruin the important benefits it has for individuals and society as a whole.

      • flypusher says:

        “The basic income (and frankly most other temporary safety net programs not tied to age or disability) should be uncomfortable enough to live on that most will choose to get a job.”

        I couldn’t agree more. But if a bunch of jobs are becoming obsolete and not being replaced, then what?

      • Creigh says:

        Human beings will never run out of useful and productive things to do. The question is will those useful and productive things pay enough to provide a dignified existence. How our economy is structured will answer that question. Unfortunately, history predicts that the economic restructuring needed to accommodate change brought on by automation will not occur without a struggle.

      • 1mime says:

        Fly: What happens when a bunch of jobs become obsolete…..Competent management anticipates and prevents problems rather than continually solving problems on the back end. In the broad society, this is a shared responsibility between public and private sectors. The lack of cooperation in the past seven years from our GOP leadership bears a great responsibility for the problems we are witnessing. You may recall the President’s jobs bill to repair America’s crumbling infrastructure while putting millions of people to work during high unemployment – critical work that still needs to be done AND benefits our entire nation. Instead, he was rebuffed and it didn’t happen – another missed opportunity that had real consequences.

        A good example can be found in studying the efforts by FDR following the Great Depression. He recognized the need to help people find jobs, purpose and income. Programs were developed that helped a devastated nation survive. Have we forgotten the lessons of this era?

        I believe there will be fewer “lasting” jobs due to our rapidly evolving economy and technological explosion. Evolution in the jobs arena will become fundamental to economic survival with a continual process of adjustment to changing market needs. Critical to this process is an educated citizenry. In a healthy, cooperative society, government and business work together to anticipate and manage these needs. Retraining should coalesce around jobs that are market relevant now and in the future. Community colleges and union and workplace training can meet the need for affordable, quality training programs. It simply hasn’t been a priority. Until now. Instead of this process being driven by the astute planning and a cooperative relationship between our public and private sectors, it is being driven by politics.
        Will we never learn.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree, Steve. We don’t want to subsidize a lifestyle of not working. While we’re discussing this concept, welfare is incredibly important for people as a hand up. Yet this system is routinely abused by those who have learned to game the system. Possibly one of the benefits of the basic income in lieu of welfare broadly, would be to weed out those who are profiting from taxpayer support with no intention of ever looking for a job. Of course, I’d take it further…throwing in free birth control to reduce cost predicated on how many kids you have.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Disagree
        If we (as a society) were short of labor I would agree but the current issue is not a labor shortage but a job shortage so the “slacker” is actually performing a civic duty by not taking a job so that somebody who wants to can have that job

        In most instances the “slacker” is actually doing something constructive – just not paid

      • It is a basic economic truism that there is no limit to the useful jobs that can be done. We can always find work for idle hands, and never more so than in this increasingly automated, anonymous world.

        There is, however, a limit to the number of jobs for which it is affordable to pay an American salary; and there’s no reason why this number of jobs should correlate with the number of adults in American society. If that number is too small then someone has to go without, and that’s the same regardless of how uncomfortable we make people.

        What can work – and does, unfortunately – is trying to get people to accept a sub-American salary by forcing them to live at a sub-American standard. This, however, is not something that any society should be proud of, and should not feature in anyone’s plans.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      This op ed makes me even more sure of my support of Sanders. Hes obviously worrying the right people.

      Wall Street bankers are like trained fighting tigers. With the right precautions and handling procedures (regulations and restrictions), they can be very useful and effective. But you’d never let them have free rein around you camp.

      And if tigers could talk, you’d never ask THEM whats the best way to safely handle them.

      • moslerfan says:

        One of Wall Street’s slickest tricks has been to convince Congress and the public that finance is part of the real economy – that is, part of the economy that creates material benefits for individuals and society. Finance’s only legitimate role is as the servant of the real economy. Beyond that it simply becomes parasitic.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        With all due respect, if we’re talking about worrying the “right people,” let’s keep in mind the Republicans who have, coincidentally, been leaving Sen. Sanders essentially untouched while leaning here and there to give him a boost where they can. Those aren’t the actions of a worried person at all, IMO. Quite the opposite as a matter of fact.

        That said, it’s all well and good to support a candidate who you think carries your best interests, but that candidate also has to be able to win and have a plan for doing things. Talking over and over again about a vote against the Iraq War and working with Sen. McCain on a VA bill, good as those efforts were, is not a plan for the future.

      • 1mime says:

        Rob, you may want to note that Sanders is beginning to draw more scrutiny of his history and his proposals. Of course, we can all look at the same facts and draw different conclusions, but the point is that as more attention is focused on Sanders, there will be more critical basis for evaluation of his candidacy. Expect more of this.

        http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/02/bernie-sanders-2016-socialism-213667

    • 1mime says:

      Powerful commentary by Black on the myopic CEO opinion piece in the WSJ. It’s ironic to watch groups peel away from the Republican Party. Women, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, and now this large group of millennials are basically telling the GOP to stuff it. It is more apparent that not only is the White base of the GOP shrinking, but its treasured business class is finally being revealed as the privileged, protected group it is. The income divide is not going away despite being discounted and ignored. It is getting larger and people are becoming more angry and more desperate. I have heard it reported that 150 U.S. families hold more wealth than the rest of the 323,000,000 of America’s people. Is it any wonder that people are resentful? Is it any wonder that candidates like the absurd, shallow Trump and a flaming liberal like Sanders are resonating?

      Is anyone at the top listening? Do they even care as long as their needs are protected? Can they not think that critically, or, look that far down the road? Or, do they just live for power and profit and assume these poor, lazy people are getting exactly what they deserve.

      Great article, Fly. Extremely thoughtful and prescient.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Its human nature to assume the paradigm changing “black swan” is much less likely then it actually is Mime.

        We tend to think that things after will always look more or less like things before.

        Change happens slow….until it doesn’t.

        I’m sure the aristocrats in France had many, many warnings as to what was going on in the years previous to the French Recolition. Their obtuseness seems incredibly dumb in hindsight….but that’s the thing. It only always looks dumb in hindsight. To see things BEFORE requires the ability to challenge ones bias and our genetic blinders that most people (least of all the most privileged) simply don’t possess.

      • 1mime says:

        My husband told me years ago, that good managers don’t solve problems, they prevent them. Apparently that is wisdom for the ages.

      • flypusher says:

        “I’m sure the aristocrats in France had many, many warnings as to what was going on in the years previous to the French Recolition. ”

        I’m a bit surprised that no one who got zapped by the last fiscal crisis has so far taken a whack at a Jamie Diamon type, but that could be an example of how effective getting poor Whites to focus their anger on Mexicans and “welfare mooches” (I.e. Black people) has been.

      • 1mime says:

        Yup, not only did Dimon escape charges, his board awarded him a multi-million dollar bonus for the large profits. The ultimate irony.

  30. flypusher says:

    “Freedoms we enjoy under an elected, representative government are accompanied by an ironic curse – We will always have the government that we deserve. Sometimes we invite disasters with our choices. ”

    Most voters go towards the politician who tell them what they want to hear, not those who speak the hard truths. They want a bunch of rah-rah about how exceptional America is, not we need to raise taxes to fix all these problems. They vote with their Bibles on issues that don’t effect their lives and get people who don’t work in their best interests (looking right at you, Kentucky). I can think of a number a rule changes (like no unrelated riders attached to bills) that would make obstruction harder in Congress, but that’s just treating the symptom. The real disease is the voters, I think. There’s just too much ignorance out there. Cliven Bundy and his ilk are a prime example. They are enamored of this rugged individualist Western myth, make demands on this fiction, and try to rile up rebellion against the Federal gov’t based on it. All sorts of myths guide people’s politics, all across the spectrum.

    • texan5142 says:

      The real disease is the voters…so much truth to that statement. I work with stupid people and they vote. Makes my skin crawl every day knowing that the idiot next to me can vote. I know I am going to get flack for this and I don’t care.

      I am no Einstein by any measure, but my Dog there are so many people with short sighted tunnel vision it is frightening.

      • flypusher says:

        I’ve had the luxury of being surrounded by lots of smart people for most of my life. Which is very nice, but you can get lulled into thinking that’s standard. I keep relearning it’s not. If that makes me sound elitist, so be it.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Feel free to be elitist. You’re among friends, after all. We won’t tell.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        No doubt, there are enough stupid people to go around. I am blessed to work with a ton of folks much smarter than me, and more than a few of them vote Republican.

        Self interests and economic interests can trump (no pun) a lot of things.

        Besides, here in Houston, we sit in a city with voters that regularly return Sheila Jackson Lee to Congress. We can mock Louie Gohmert and his voters, but they are just the flip side of the same stupid coin.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Education, Texan. Its the only cure for this disease.

        Its no coincidence that Trumps support is strong among the entire base…..with the exception of Republicans with a college education.

        And while some ppl are inherently less intelligent then others, its also no coincidence that the “dumbest” ppl tend to come from states where education funding has been gutted over the past 40 years.

      • flypusher says:

        I’m curious Homer, who do your GOP friends like in this Preseidential race? I can imaging them holding their noses a lot.

        SJL is a great example of mindless LW voting. Gerrymandering ensures that she never gets a credible GOP opponent, but that doesn’t excuse the Democratic Party from continually failing to give her any real competition in the primaries. Or the voters in her district who don’t critically examine her record and ask tough questions.

        Functional democracy demands that you do your homework.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Fly – they’ll end up voting for whoever the GOP trots out there. I still don’t think anyone really thinks it will be Trump, but they generally just laugh at him and believe their moneyed interests will be protected by the appropriate powers that be.

        Note – this is not much different than the notion that just about any Democrat would be better than a GOP candidate that would try to roll back progress on gay rights, abortion, and other issues near and deal to liberals’ hearts.

        In my group of friends, we have some retired MDs who piss and moan about Obamacare, lots of moderately well-off folks who believe raising their taxes is the more horrible thing to do, and some in their 30s with oddly conservative social views (as well as a few who are decidedly non-religious with those conservative views).

        There is something of a mindset of “giving to people who have done nothing to earn it” that is pretty pervasive across the groups.

        The anti-tax folks are generally older and richer and will with a straight face tell you that they would not have worked as hard or been as successful if the had to suffer under the democrats horrible tax plans. This is all absolutely bullshit because not a single one of them would have done anything differently if their top marginal rates were 3% higher, and many of them are old enough that their most productive years were when tax rates were higher. That group is a group of rich old people who play golf at a country club. They got theirs, and they don’t care about anyone else.

      • flypusher says:

        Homer, it would be very interesting to get those coworkers and some of those laid off Trump supporters in the same room for a political discussion, but for safety’s sake there should be a wall between them.

        Are they bummed out over the loss of Jeb!? Here’s a little tribute to his failed run:

        http://www.vox.com/2016/2/22/11094292/jeb-bush-was-terrible

        I think the piece is a little too hard on Jeb. I really can’t blame him for the rise of Trump because Jeb was damaging Rubio. Rubio was doing a much better job of damaging Rubio.

    • Crogged says:

      College degrees are not magical inoculations. We need politicians, not another set of useless ‘principles’.

      • flypusher says:

        Crogged, I’ve always looked on a college degree as an indication that the recipient has been exposed to knowledge. How much actually sunk in is a judgment I’ll make upon further observation. I also won’t assume that every competent person I meet has a college degree.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Interesting, my boss also considers a college degree a sign that you possess a level of commitment and discipline to complete something you started. It’s a sign that you can be trusted to follow through with something.

      • Crogged says:

        I think the value of a college degree is (a) the technical expertise acquired (if any) in math and sciences and (b) can show the maturity of an individual at a young age. It does require considerable investments of money, time and effort. Ten years after one acquires a college degree, for most it doesn’t mean sh*t for life or employment, except for who you hang out with and which athletic team you support. And the debt.

      • flypusher says:

        Who you hang out with can be very important. When you are looking for a job in a tight market, more often than not it’s your network that makes the different. That was certainly true in my case.

        My degrees continue to be of great use, but that’s pretty standard in science. But it’s true that I wouldn’t otherwise be interested in Rice athletic competitions.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        All of these reasons stated above, as well as college graduates tend to be much better at critical thinking then non graduates (exceptions always apply of course)

      • Crogged says:

        Fly, as you stated, my networks were way more valuable than my educational background for most of my career.

        But the recession of 2007/8 drastically impacted my field of work-and I struggled for several years after because the professional network disappeared and I never had an educational network.

        And the flipside of networks is the opinion of those outside of them have regarding their value. The Oscar nominations are determined by a ‘network’ (and last night John Oliver had a trenchant piece about that).

    • Mark says:

      The important distinction is between wisdom of the crowds and groupthink. Combining everyone’s background, experience, and judgment often leads to better outcomes than any individual, acting on his or her own could do. In other words, competitive markets are a good thing and we need not worry about any single voter’s intelligence.

      The problem is that people don’t make decisions in a vacuum and instead are influenced by outside, irrelevant social dynamics. People vote for a candidate because their friends do, or they heard about him or her on the radio. Even worse is that people may not be making rational decisions–witness the desire to “send a message” even if it leads to ruin for everyone.

      I think these forces have gotten worse over the years. Hence, Lifer’s “Politics of Crazy”. Really, it is just the social nature of humans that people have gotten better at manipulating. It is, unfortunately, not limited to one party but one party has been more focused on groupthink instead of the wisdom of the crowd in the past 20 years.

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