Weekly Musing 4-13-14
Much has been said about what Obama should do to destroy the Russian economy. To me the plan for Russia is simple: 1) Ban their use of coal 2) Mandate that Russia goes on Obamacare 3) Don’t allow any drilling on Russian public land 4) Have the EPA pass rulings on Russian business 5) R-define the full time Russian work week to 30 hours 6) Raise the Russian minimum wage 7) Mandate overtime pay for government employees 8) Demand the Russian Government pay free Welfare benefits to un-qualified Citizens and Illegal immigrants I could go on but I guarantee these measures would bring the Russia economy to its knees.
What makes me think I heard of this before?
RIP Ranny Riecker
A class act who did much for our Republican Party, Michigan and our country. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.
Michigan may be the GOP’s best answer to the ‘war on women’
Land is delighted to have Democrats raising the subject of “preventive” or other health care. It is one topic of about $5 million of Michigan ads by the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. In one, a woman addresses Land’s opponent, Democratic Rep. Gary Peters:
“My name is Julie Boonstra and five years ago I was diagnosed with leukemia. I found out that I only have a 20 percent chance of surviving. I found this wonderful doctor and a great health-care plan. I was doing fairly well fighting the cancer, fighting the leukemia, and then I received the letter. My insurance was canceled because of Obamacare.”
Another ad features a woman who believes Obamacare is waging a war on her: “We have five kids. . . . Our health insurance plan was canceled because of Obamacare. . . . This new plan is not affordable at all. My husband is working a lot more hours just to pay for these new increases. I’m frustrated that government has caused this huge problem for our family.”
“We,” says Land, her Michigan chauvinism undiminished by this city’s collapse, “are the state that created the middle class.” High wages for autoworkers — higher than the companies could sustain — and employee discounts for cars enabled people to buy homes, then cottages and boats at nearby lakes. Now Obamacare — many Michiganders have had health plans canceled — is fueling middle-class insecurity.
Newt: Sebelius’ term was a disaster
Sadly her term as secretary of Health and Human Services was a disaster.
Americans should be able to expect that people who enter high public office will see their job as a public duty and will view faithfully serving the public and administering the laws as their solemn obligation.
Sebelius ran her office in a secretive and extraordinarily partisan manner that frequently ignored, violated and changed the law at whim.
Perhaps her approach merely mirrored the attitude of the Obama White House, but as the Senate-confirmed head of a major department of the American government, Sebelius must be held to a different standard than White House staff.
The White House staff is there to serve the President. Their positions are inherently personal and political. If the Obama White House is often arrogant, aloof, secretive and largely isolated from the Congress, it is because that is the President’s style. And that is his right.
Note to Republicans: Channel Jack Kemp
It might seem a curious moment for a Jack Kemp revival. Many remember him as an evangelist for supply-side economics and its drastic tax cutting — exactly the approach some Republicans say needs to be replaced with a fresh agenda that grapples with joblessness and stagnant wages.
But there was another side to Kemp, a self-described “bleeding-heart conservative” who preached the gospel of upward mobility, economic opportunity, cultural diversity and racial justice. This Kemp personified the big-tent Republicanism that has gone into hibernation in the Obama years and that some Republicans think is crucial to the party’s success in the 2016 presidential election, when voters will want to hear a more positive message.
It is one thing, of course, to emphasize reaching beyond the Republican base, and quite another to connect with other voters, which Kemp was successful in doing. “I watched him interact in poor communities with so clearly a love of people, and a fierce idea of equality,” said Senator Cory A. Booker of New Jersey, a Democratic protégé of Kemp’s, in an interview last week, recalling how Kemp’s “compassion, engagement and comfort” shone through when he talked to African-Americans and Latinos.
That ease was partly the consequence of Kemp’s years as a professional quarterback — the tense fourth-quarter huddles and locker-room camaraderie, not to mention his role as one of the few white leaders of a boycott of the American Football League’s All-Star game in 1965, when it was scheduled in New Orleans, a segregated city at the time.
Those experiences gave Kemp a street-level credibility rare for politicians in either party, though Mr. Ryan, for one, has been visiting inner cities, accompanied by Bob Woodson, a civil rights activist who worked closely with Kemp.
The IRS Scandal Comes Into Focus
As the illuminating timeline accompanying the Camp letter shows, Ms. Lerner’s focus on shutting down Crossroads GPS came only after Obama adviser David Axelrod listed Crossroads among “front groups for foreign-controlled companies”; only after Senate Democrats Dick Durbin, Carl Levin, Chuck Schumer and others demanded the IRS investigate Crossroads; only after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a website to “expose donors” of Crossroads; and only after Obama’s campaign lawyer, Bob Bauer, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about Crossroads.
The information in Mr. Camp’s letter shows that Ms. Lerner sprang to action following a January 2013 meeting with Democracy 21, a campaign-finance outfit petitioning for a crackdown on Crossroads and the liberal big-dollar Priorities USA. (She never touched Priorities, run by former Obama aides.) The Camp outline suggests cause and effect, and that’s new.
Can Clever Campaigns Save the Democrats in 2014?
Recently I attended a briefing at the Democratic National Committee intended to impress reporters with the newfangled technology the party plans to use to change the midterm-election landscape. Staffers pulled up a slide cheekily showing the file the party’s voter database has archived of one Reinhold R. Priebus of Wisconsin—the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Despite the entry listing his “likely party” as Republican, with 100 percent certainty, Priebus had thrice been contacted by Democratic campaigns, it said.
Files like these, and the databases into which they could be compiled, would be Democrats’ edge in upcoming elections, the officials hosting the briefing insisted. Through precision targeting and data, campaigns from the local to the congressional to the state level could figure out which voters to talk to and deploy volunteers and staff to cajole them from their homes to vote. State-of-the-art technology would tap into people’s Facebook networks or point them to the correct polling place. Modeling would predict within a narrow range how the election would turn out and dispatch monitors for a possible recount. The tools all had code names: Explorer, Airwolf, Project Ivy.
The briefing inspired a spate of coverage about all the fancy new ways Democrats hoped to engineer their way to electoral victory. For proof, the party pointed to the narrow victory of Terry McAuliffe, elected governor of Virginia in November 2013. (As for the Democratic candidate who fell to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie by a 22-point margin that same day, the DNC said her campaign was not “structured to take advantage of” the tools.) And yet, a few weeks later, the shoe was on the other foot. Last month, it was Republicans who were doing a victory lap after their candidate triumphed in a closely watched Florida special congressional election. The newly minted congressman owed his win, Republicans announced afterward, to a shiny new data-and-voter-file integration system—codename: Honeybadger.
In short, claims that one party or the other has built up a tactical advantage based on the latest in campaign science are always to be taken with a grain of salt. Political scientists have trouble detecting major effects on elections from even the most intensive campaign efforts. Party committees’ boasts about their tactical arsenals are probably largely for the benefit of their donors, who must be reassured their money is going somewhere useful. (Why else would they reveal techniques that surely would be all the more effective if they caught opponents unawares?) As it happens, the DNC is more than $10 million in debt.
Can Putin’s Ukrainian Strategy Be Countered?
Putin is in a far better position than many Western policymakers and pundits seem to realize. And turning the tables on him won’t be easy.
The dust has settled a bit following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the seizure of the Crimea, and it’s now possible to discern the new landscape and to start thinking seriously about what the US and the EU should do next. The next steps won’t be easy; from a Western point of view the options are not great. The usual cheerleaders and White House boosters have been banging on about Putin falling into a trap, but it’s the West that was caught. Whether by design or by luck, Vladimir Putin has American and European leaders in an uncomfortable spot.
This is partly because in one sense, the West “won” the lion’s share of Ukraine. This was the point that the administration’s press acolytes were quick to point to as proof that our “smart diplomacy” still had the upper hand, but the cost of this “success” will be high. Russia sliced off Crimea, but has so far refrained from any more land grabs; that leaves the EU and the US holding the bag for the rest of the country. The weak and corrupt Ukrainian state, its inexperienced revolutionary leaders, its failing economy and its deeply divided population now turn to the West with hopes high and hands out. The West has two choices and neither one is particularly pleasant. Option one: it can turn its back on Ukraine while the country flounders further, turns bitter at western failure and inevitably slips into orbit around Moscow. Option two: it can embark on an expensive, difficult and quite possibly doomed exercise in nation-building, with Putin able to deploy a formidable array of policy tools against us whenever and however he chooses. Quite possibly, option two will turn out to be a longer, more humiliating, more painful and more expensive way of getting the same ultimate result as option one.
So You Think You’re Smarter Than A CIA Agent
For the past three years, Rich and 3,000 other average people have been quietly making probability estimates about everything from Venezuelan gas subsidies to North Korean politics as part of the Good Judgment Project, an experiment put together by three well-known psychologists and some people inside the intelligence community.
According to one report, the predictions made by the Good Judgment Project are often better even than intelligence analysts with access to classified information, and many of the people involved in the project have been astonished by its success at making accurate predictions.
Did readers actually read a story about reading?
The story in question — about how scanning and skimming our way through the Internet appears to be messing with how we read deeper, longer works — went viral earlier this week, with insane numbers of page views, a gazillion tweets, and even a starring role in Craig Ferguson’s late-night TV monologue.
Though there were many chants of “me, too” about the story on Twitter, there were also many jokes that took this form: “I skimmed it.”
So we decided to actually test this. The good folks at Chartbeat, which tracks how people read digital content, performed an analysis and found that 25 percent of readers stopped reading this story before they even reached the article text. A smaller percentage of other readers dropped off somewhere toward the middle. And 31 percent made it all the way through. I have a lollipop for all of them.
As the writer, should I be happy about those numbers or deeply, deeply sad? I asked Josh Schwartz, Chartbeat’s chief data scientist. Then I held my breath.
“Anytime I talk to journalists they always ask that question,” Schwartz said.
Not an answer. This felt not good.
Awesome!!! Ukraine – via Sand Art
This is really worth watching…a powerful story & performance.
Stay In Touch…Feel Free to Share
My goal is for this to be a weekly political update…sharing political news and analysis that should be of interest to most activists.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook.
On Facebook at:
On Twitter at:
My blog “That’s Saul Folks” with Weekly Musings & more:
Thanks again for all you do!