Doubling Down

November 23rd, 2014

Double down is a blackjack term. The player may choose to double his bet and receive one more card. This can be a very effective strategy if the player has good cards.

It is now clear that Democrats are doubling down. The House reelected Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader even though they are a tossup seat away from the fewest seats since 1928. The Senate followed suit with Harry Reid. They willingly threw Mary Landrieu under the bus rather that allow the Keystone Pipeline to be built. President Obama showed he is totally unwilling to work with the Republican Senate by taking a go it alone approach on immigration.

These actions show that Democrats want to focus on pleasing the base and ignoring the rest of the country. They seem to believe that the election was not a repudiation of their policies. It looks like they feel they lost because they didn’t pay enough attention to the base. In his press conference the day after the election, President Obama seemed to claiming a mandate from those that didn’t vote.

In my opinion, it is a deeply flawed strategy. Albert Einstein said that insanity was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. There is no credible evidence that there are millions and millions of voters out there that didn’t vote because the Democrats were too conservative. Another problem is that, in a divided government, it is very hard to take actions that satisfy the base. Many were upset that Obama didn’t do more for illegal aliens.

One way this strategy might work is if they can provoke an overreaction from the Republicans. There are a few talking about impeachment or shutting down the Senate. Undoubtedly wiser heads will prevail.

I don’t know if the architects of this political blueprint like blackjack. If they do, they sure won’t play with my money.

"The Stupidity of the American Voter"

November 19th, 2014

Rarely does someone go from obscurity to notoriety as quickly as Jonathon Gruber. He is an MIT economist who developed a health care model and has received millions from state and federal governments in consulting fees. He was a key advisor to the Obama administration when it was developing Obamacare. Recently an interview surfaced in which he talked about the deliberate lack of transparency in the bill and referred to the “stupidity of the American voter”.

To be fair, Gruber was not the “architect of Obamacare” or involved in selling it to the American people. However, it is clear that the Obama administration was philosophically in line with him. It was trying to sell a program that was massively unpopular. They developed a two pronged approach. They added some goodies and developed a misinformation campaign. Obama repeatedly said we could keep our current insurance and that, even though sick people are getting coverage, costs would go down. Both statements were obviously untrue.

People like Obama and Gruber view themselves as self-appointed aristocrats who should rule the country. Since they are burdened with being in a democracy, they need to say and do whatever it takes to stay in power. Some might compare their role to a shepherd and his sheep. However, taking care of the sheep is the shepherd’s top priority. These aristocrats set their own priorities.

Lincoln once said “You can’t fool all the people all the time.” I guess the recent elections proved that.    

Now What Happens?

November 18th, 2014

Just a few years ago Democrats had control of the House and a filibuster-proof Senate. Since losing the House, we have seen four years of gridlock and fighting. So what happens now that they have lost the Senate?

Looking backward can be the best way to look forward. In the Senate a dream election can turn into a nightmare six years later. Because of their 2008 success, far more Democrats were vulnerable this year. Next time far more Republicans are at risk. They have incumbents in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. All are blue or purple states. Certainly, some conservatives will push for a far right agenda. I believe the bulk of the GOP senators will look at the upcoming election and steer a more moderate course.

Democrats have seen their ranks thinned as they were pressured to fall in line by a hyper-partisan majority leader. If they continue to blindly follow Obama and Harry Reid, the gridlock will continue. However, I think it likely that a few senators will peel off and join the Republicans on some key issues.

My happy scenario of greater harmony depends on one man, Barack Obama. For there to be real progress, he needs to change his go it alone approach. I’m not too optimistic. He is ruled by a massive ego and has no one on his staff to tell him no. How he handles the immigration issue will likely set the course for the rest of his presidency.

Election Thoughts

November 15th, 2014

At long last I have my computer back. I can finally post some of my thoughts on the election.

1.      Obama repudiation – Tip O’Neill once said that all politics is local. That is generally true but this election was a national referendum on Barack Obama.

2.      Forget about mandate – Some conservatives are interpreting the election as a mandate for their values. People want a government that works not an ideology shoved down their throats. The best evidence is in Nebraska. They voted almost two to one for a GOP senator but 60% approved a hike in the minimum wage.

3.      Veto and filibuster – The GOP would be wise to remember that Senate Democrats have the filibuster and President Obama still has the veto. If they want an end to gridlock, they need to be reasonable.

4.      New game – We have seen 6 years of Republicans vs. Obama with lots of name calling and gridlock. The new game is to see who can convince the voters they can effectively govern in 2017 and beyond.

5.      No flakes please – In the last two elections, Republicans have had some very weak candidates. This time around nobody has declared they are not a witch or talked about a woman’s body shutting down in the event of a rape.

6.      Think people, not groups – The Democratic strategy of pigeonholing people into groups was a miserable failure. This is 2014, not 1964. The election of a Republican black senator from the south and a black woman from Utah show that we are moving beyond the barriers of the past.

Next time I will try to look at where we go from here.

Computer problems

November 6th, 2014

I have a lot to say about the election. Unfortunately my computer crashe. Will  be back in a few days.