Predictions are not “facts,” and defeatism is not acceptable: election 2014

I am truly beginning to hate pundits. At least, the professional lefties who think they know everything, and declare everything they say that is actually opinion as “fact.” Case in point, Ezra Klein’s latest missive on his new website venture Vox. You can start with the abject arrogance demonstrated in the title:

The 9 most important facts about the 2014 elections

The first problem? Vox is run by Klein, a journalist who supposedly values facts above all else.

Call me crazy, but I would say that, since we still have just over two months to go before we even conduct the 2014 election, everything said about it right now would pretty much have to be a prediction. And predictions, by definition, cannot be fact. They are opinions, and they’re not even opinions based on facts. They’re based on “conventional wisdom,” which is mostly conjecture and almost always wrong. And I’m sick of this. I’m sick and tired of progressives pretending they know everything and then proffering ideas and notions that undermine real progressives’ attempts to create a better government and, therefore, a better life for Americans. I’m sick of the professional left telling me who’s going to win in November, instead of working to make sure the best candidates possible win. not only are these not facts, but what this type of article does is to undermine everything that real progressives do on a daily basis to try and get the best candidate into office.

Therefore, when someone says something so incredibly arrogant as, “Here’s what you need to know to understand the 2014 election,” and then proceeds to undermine everyone else’s efforts to get the vote out, my crap-cutting radar goes off, and I feel the need to rebut. Let’s look at these, shall we?

1) Midterm elections favor Republicans

2) Midterm elections favor minority parties

3) Barack Obama is unpopular.

The first one is absolutely ridiculous. In fact, he proves it with the chart he provides. He compares the turnout in 2010, which was by all accounts a complete disaster for progressives and Democrats, and compares it to 2012, which was less so. Yes, turnout has tended to be higher in presidential years and in midterms. And yes, as of right now, given recent trends (and I emphasize the word “recent”), when turnout is low, Republicans have an advantage.

However, that’s only been the case since the 1970s. In point of fact, in elections between 1932 and 1970, which is actually a longer period of time, turnout in midterms usually hovered around the 50 percent mark. It wasn’t until midterm turnout dropped below 40 percent mark that Republicans started winning midterm elections. In fact, from the period between 1960 and 1970, Democrats held a supermajority in the Senate and a very large majority in the House, and there were three midterm elections during that period.

Therefore, it’s simply not true that midterms automatically favor Republicans, because they don’t. What favors Republicans is their main strategy to drive down turnout. They do this by constantly being negative, and our side helps by also being negative and strengthening the perception that Democrats simply cannot win. In other words, not only is this not a fact, it’s actually a self-fulfilling prophecy. By claiming that Democrats simply don’t have a chance in midterms and calling it a fact, Klein has himself broken one of the cardinal rules of journalism, which is to report the news and not make it, because I number of voters will read this article, assume they have no chance in November, and simply not show up. That is our problem, and that has been our problem for about the last 40 years or so, and definitely since 1980.

As for number two, you have to define the term “minority party.” That’s a tricky one this year, since the parties are split in Congress. If you take him literally, that’s a contradiction.  If true, then Democrats should win the House in a walk, and Republicans should eke out a win in the Senate. But it’s not true, and there are many examples why. I repeat the example I used above. From 1932 through 1980, Democrats had a majority in Congress for all but four years. That would indicate, with all of those midterm elections (there would’ve been 12 in that time), it would be impossible for Democrats to control Congress for that long. Yet, they did. Why? Because in most of those elections, the losses were in the low single digits, often one or two seats, even though in many of those midterm elections, Democrats had super majorities, and therefore have a lot to lose. If Klein is right, then there is no way is no way and yet Democrats should have been able to keep the majority for nearly 50 years. And yet, they did. How does Klein explain that?

Well, of course, he doesn’t. Instead, he changes the definition. Read this piece of sophistry:

“One of the perennials of American politics is that the president’s party loses seats in midterm elections, especially in the House of Representatives,” writes political scientist Eric McGhee. “Only three midterm elections in the last century featured a seat gain for the president’s party in the House: 1934, 1998, and 2002. Of those, the largest was 9 seats in 2002.”

The president’s party losing seats has nothing to do with whether or not a party is a minority party. Once again, from 1932 through 1980, Democrats held a majority for all but four years. For nearly half that time, they held the supermajority. That makes the statistic cited above a complete non sequitur. In fact, I can prove it’s meaningless. It’s easy. Since 1994′s “Republican Revolution,” there have been four midterm elections, and two of them saw the president’s party gained seats. In other words, when Democrats were running the show and winning large majorities in elections, in midterm elections, Republicans would pick off a few seats. But now that the elections are closer, it can no longer be said that the president’s party always loses seats in a midterm. Not that such a statistic has any meaning anyway. There is absolutely no correlation between which party holds the White House, and who wins a majority of House seats. in fact if you look at statistics, during the 1960s, in those years where Republicans gained seats, Democrats still had around 52% of the vote in each of those elections. The difference was, turnout in the midterms hovered around 50%. Now, it’s almost always around 37%. That is the problem. If we get voter turnout up above 45%, Democrats will win most seats in most elections, and we can force the Republican Party to regroup and at least become sane.

As for number three, president Obama is not unpopular, although he’s not running for office, anyway, so that makes that statement another non sequitur. In fact, his job approval rating is roughly 4 times that of Congress, whose members are running for office. People are discontented with government in general, because it’s not doing anything. Obama gets some of that heat, because he’s there.Therefore, Obama’s job approval rating (which has little to do with this popularity, anyway) has no bearing on who voters cast their ballots for during this congressional election.

4) Democrats have no chance of taking back the House

5) Republicans are very likely to win the Senate in 2014

6) Republicans are very likely to lose the Senate in 2016

Seriously, if a journalist is going to cite “facts” for us, wouldn’t it be a great help if he knew what they were? Under no scenario are any of the above even close to the realm of “fact.” He is projecting the results of an election that is more than two months away. He is assuming that, based on the recent past, it is a “fact” that all of these will happen. Klein is apparently the Nostradamus of professional left pundits.

That said, I do agree that, if the professional left doesn’t get off its keister and start telling the truth about progressive causes, and telling the truth about what’s causing the problems in Congress, all of the above will come true. But these are self-fulfilling prophecies, not facts. Every single time some professional lefty says something like this, it discourages more voters from even showing up in November. And yes, that does influence the election. With swings elections these days is not the number of voters who you get to cast votes for you, it’s the number of voters that the Republican Party can get to stay home. Articles like this help Republicans tremendously in that endeavor.

7) The average age on the Supreme Court is 68

8) 36 states are holding gubernatorial elections this year

9) Local elections are really important

Finally, some actual facts. Yes the average age of the Supreme Court is 68. So?

Supreme Court justices don’t retire in bulk, so the average age is completely unimportant. The fact that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 81 and both Scalia and Kennedy will turn 80 before the end of the next congressional term is a little more important. Whereas Klein uses these facts to posit that the 2014 election is a very important, the fact of the matter is, these facts should make the 2014 election far more urgent. We need to have a Democratic Senate in place just in case. Now, according to Klein’s reasoning, Democrats should lose the Senate this year, meaning we will have two precarious years in which someone on the court could die or retire, and no one would replace them. If that’s either Scalia or Kennedy, that would be okay. On the other hand, if Ginsburg is the first one to go, they could make the swing vote the Kennedy provides completely useless.

The last two facts (okay number eight is fact, while number nine is opinion) are very important, but they should be used to motivate people to show up at the polls and vote. Instead, we have this article, which suggests the opposite. Gubernatorial elections are important, and 36 states are holding them. They should attract voters, and attracting voters gives an advantage to the Democratic Party, UNLESS you giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other. Unfortunately, that is what professional lefties do on a regular basis. I’m tired of this, and every reasonable progressive should also be offended by this. Everything we do has to be with the purpose of getting Democrats elected, because that’s the only way to unseat Republicans. We need to nominate the strongest Democratic candidates; not just those who hold all the right views on issues, and we need to promote the Democratic Party as the best possible means for getting us progressive policies.

There are two choices in every election. There is no smorgasbord. You get either a Democrat or a Republican. Not all Democrats are perfect, however all Republicans are wrong these days. Prove Ezra Klein wrong. The above are not facts, they are predictions. And we as progressives have to prove those predictions wrong. Being a progressive is about exceeding expectations, so let’s do that.

And to professional lefties like Ezra Klein, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. Stop being part of the problem. I don’t expect you to advocate for Democrats. I expect you to know a fact is and I expect you to stick to them.

Why Rick Perry’s indictment is in no way “bogus”

PerryMugShotI’ve been told by quite a few people just in the last few days that my support for the indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry was misplaced, misguided and completely partisan. Actually, it’s none of those things. I admit to being partisan, however Perry is not running for another term as governor, and he has less than a snowball’s chance in hell of ever becoming president, and I don’t care about party affiliation when it comes to this issue. This is about abuse of power, and nothing more or less, and those who abuse power should be drummed out of office, if not sent to jail.

The two crimes for which Perry was indicted included abuse of power and coercion of a public servant, and even on the surface there is plenty of evidence to support indictment for both of these crimes. These are serious crimes because, in order for someone to be convicted of these crimes, it must be proven that they abused some level of public trust. Within the state of Texas, the level of public trust doesn’t get much higher than Governor.

The details of Perry’s alleged crimes are that he essentially used his veto of a bill that included $7.5 million in funding to the state-funded Travis County Public integrity Unit, which is a group that investigates ethical problems and corruption. He essentially demanded that District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resign her position with that group, after she was convicted of DUI.

Now, I understand the argument that Lehmberg should resign from the commission that investigates ethics because she was recently convicted of DUI. As far as I’m concerned, anyone convicted of a DUI should have to resign as district attorney. The problem is that decision regarding the removal of a district attorney is up to the people of Travis County and Governor Perry. Did Perry have the right to veto the bill? Yes, of course he did. However, he did not have the right to attach conditions that favored himself over the people of Travis County regarding the removal of an elected official. Oh, right; did you know that the PIU was investigating corruption in the governor’s office at the time he defunded them? And did you know that, if Lehmberg had indeed resigned, Perry, as governor, would’ve had the power to replace her with someone of his choosing. What more could a potentially corrupt politician ask for than to handpick the person who will investigate him?

Another problem with Perry’s approach to this issue is it shows a tremendous inconsistency. According to a new report from the Dallas Morning News, Perry essentially ignored four other previous drunk driving arrests by district attorneys while Perry was governor. of course, the other four district attorneys were Republicans, and weren’t in a position to build a corruption case against him. one of the four district attorneys was actually convicted of DUI twice. yet, when Lehmberg was arrested for DUI, Perry was outraged and actually defunded the PIU in a bid to get rid of her. That level of inconsistency is like the cherry on top of the corruption sundae.

I would also point out that the Perry indictment was not handed down by DA Lehmberg. It was handed down by a grand jury, made up of 23 citizens of the state of Texas. The grand jury looked at evidence supplied by a special prosecutor, and not DA Lehmberg. In fact, she had nothing to do with the investigation or the grand jury. Therefore, because she had no role in the seeking of the indictment, the implication that somehow she’s getting revenge on Gov. Perry has absolutely no validity whatsoever. is it possible that something partisan is going on here? Sure. Perry ignored for DUI convictions by Republican district attorneys, while holding PIU funding hostage with Democrat Lehmberg’s DUI. Yep, that’s pretty partisan.

There you have it. A sitting governor who is being investigated by a group charged with investigating ethics and corruption, and he uses the pretense of the District Attorney’s arrest for drunk driving as a rationale for getting her to resign, so that he can replace her and take pressure off himself. If that’s not the definition of abuse of power, then what is?

Guess what, white people; America is not “Post-Racial”

If you are bothering to read this, you probably remember how you felt on Nov. 4, 2008, when Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, a black man, was elected president of the United States. To many, it seemed as if a country with racism in its DNA had become a greater nation, almost overnight. With that one election, we thought wehad overcome our racist past and become the “more perfect union” the founding fathers had dreamed of. Post-racial America had come at last, and it was going to be amazing.

Yet, we fast forward six years, and sit here in front of their computers watching events unfold in the unlikely suburban town Ferguson, Missouri. Obviously, those who thought we were entering a post-racial era had jumped the gun somewhat.

That doesn’t mean we’re not getting better. Look at young people these days, and you see hope for the future. Most people under 30 seem to see race more as a physical trait, much like hair and eye color, and less as a stigmatized social label. At a press conference on July 19, 2013, after the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, President Obama himself talked about exactly that: Continue reading

Ferguson shows that America has a long way to go…

I asked this question in another post a couple of weeks ago; “When did America become so mean?”

The answer, of course, is a bit complicated. That article mostly dealt with immigration, and discussed why we seem to have such a difficult time welcoming people into the country. As many pointed out, Americans never have been particularly welcoming of immigrants, at least once they were here. They have a bit of a point. We, as Americans, as individuals, have always had something of a love-hate relationship with the people who come here from other countries. However, as a country, we didn’t stop people from coming here and ship them back when they did so, because we decided having them here was inconvenient. Of course, if you think about it, the vast majority of immigrants who came here in the past tended to be white. There were some Asians and, of course, some Hispanics, but the vast majority of people who came here back when we were welcoming people to Ellis Island and other ports were European.

What is it about darker skin that makes so many white people crazy? What’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, reminds me of two of the major problems that Americans face, and have faced for our entire existence. The most obvious is the problem of race relations. I know there a many right-leaning people out there who think racism is over, but it obviously isn’t. It wasn’t over before Ferguson, and it won’t be over anytime soon, even if we solve the problems of Ferguson. Until we learn that we are all human beings and to embrace differences rather than attack them, we will always have this problem.

And let’s be clear; I am not talking about creating a colorblind society. Continue reading

PCTC Podcast #47 – Robin Williams, Mental Illness, Net Cruelty, Ferguson

in this episode of the podcast, I talk a little bit about Robin Williams and mental illness, before I get around to talking about Internet cruelty, and why it needs to go, and that I talk about the problems in Ferguson Missouri, and why there is symptom of a very large problem when it comes to police and race.

Thanks for listening to the podcast. If you can afford to support the podcast with a few dollars, is very much appreciated and it all goes into the podcast in the blog. If you can’t, at least click on some ads increase the revenue for the blog, so that we can afford to give it nice things. Thank you to everyone who supported this blog so far.

Please help the unique PCTC Blog continue its mission…

The Please Cut the Crap blog is unique, and it’s already having an impact on the election. But I want to make it better, and I could use a little help. To do a blog and a podcast right costs money. If you can afford a little, please help us out. If not, tell your friends, anyway. Any support, including moral, is appreciated.

As always, thank you to all who support this blog!

Updated: Data don’t lie: Republicans just suck at governing…

Republican incompetence at running government is becoming legendary, and everyone needs to know this, especially with three months to go before the election. When we elect Republicans, or help elect Republicans, we are placing the government into the hands of politicians who truly believe government can’t work, so they struggle to try to prove that premise. And it’s been that way for a while. If you think last year’s government shutdown and the constant brinkmanship is something new, think again. And if you think it’s all about the Tea Party, consider that there are 46 members of the Tea Party Caucus in the House, but this past October 144 House Republicans actually voted to default on the national debt. That’s right; 144 “fiscally responsible” Republicans voted to destroy the nation’s credit to prove something even they can’t explain.

The government actually worked well during the post-war era, when Democrats ran things for 30 out of 34 years from 1946 to 1980. Republicans have controlled most of the government for 30 of the last 34 years, and it shows.

I am a partisan Democrat and very liberal, but this isn’t just about my ideology. It’s easily provable through statistics. Democrats have a strong record of competence, and Republicans have an equally impressive record of incompetence. And since getting the most progressive government starts with state legislatures and a US Congress that is at least competent enough to get the basics right, it’s important that we understand; it’s the Republican Party ideology that is holding this country back.

The Republicanization of the National Debt: The Hypocrisy Burns Continue reading

Mr. Obama went to Washington, and he and the Democrats want you to help them!

Many progressives love to look at old movies from before the TV era and cite them as examples of how America should be. One of their favorites is “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” It’s commonly cited as their ideal political movie, and they like to use it as an example of what the filibuster should look like, as if a filibuster ever looked like that. And many wish President Obama was more like Jimmy Stewart’s character, Jefferson Smith.

Being an old movie buff, I love this film. I love watching nearly everything Frank Capra ever did. But the progressives who “wish Obama was like Smith” miss the point of the film and he status of the main character. The film isn’t about an idealistic individual who rises up and overturns the corrupt old guard; if you think that, Frank Capra is probably looking down and wishing he could slap you. Senator Smith didn’t win by himself. In fact, when he was taking on the corruption by himself, he was losing badly, in part because he was naive and idealistic and thought right should just win out over evil. He also didn’t know what he was doing. He only “won” the filibuster because the opposition cracked and confessed to everything. The Boy Rangers rallied their forces, print up newspapers and gave one to every single human being in Smith’s home state within a matter of hours. Ultimately, it was the massive support from his constituents that made the difference, and caused Senator Paine to take to the Senate floor and, wracked with guilt, finally admit that HE was the corrupt one.

That’s not to say Senator Smith isn’t a hero on some level. He is. But even a fictional politician doesn’t simply “become” a hero on his own. What makes a politician a hero — what creates in a politician the boldness to do things that are beyond the pale — is a high level of support and trust. Yes, I said “trust.” government is called a “public trust” for a reason. Continue reading

Another reminder that George W. Bush and the GOP broke a country

Once again, we are reminded that the Iraq War was an exercise in stupidity that is unmatched in US history. It was engineered by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the rest of the GOP, and this colossal screw up promises to resonate for decades to come.

The latest reminder comes with reports of a humanitarian crisis that is leading President Obama to take a look at a number of options, including airdrops of food and medicine and/or airstrikes. The crisis comes as up to 40,000 religious minorities in Iraq who have been stranded on a mountaintop are dying from heat and thirst. They are suck up there after receiving death threats from ISIS, or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. One administration who was quoted in the New York Times, said, “There could be a humanitarian catastrophe there.”

Read more here: Obama Weighs Airstrikes or Aid to Help Trapped Iraqis, Officials Say –

From the Times article: “The administration official said that ‘the president is weighing both passive and active options,’ defining passive action as dropping humanitarian supplies. He added, using an alternative name for ISIS, ‘More active, we could target the ISIL elements that are besieging the base of the mountain.’”

Do no blame Obama for any of this. This was the inevitable result of an unprovoked, unwise and completely screwed up invasion and war. This is why Bush’s father and President Clinton left Saddam in place and tried to make conditions favorable for the Iraqis to take him out. They didn’t invade Iraq and take Baghdad because to do so would have been profoundly stupid, for reasons we now understand. Bush’s actions destabilized one of the few stable countries in the region, and may be a key factor in destabilizing an entire region.

No matter what Obama does right now, nothing having to do with Iraq is his fault, unless he re-invades and kills a couple hundred more innocent people. He has no choice but to deal with conditions that are not of his making. Iraq has been a disaster since it was created out of whole cloth with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, but it was a stable, thriving country for a long time, albeit repressive in many ways. Now, it’s been broken, and once it’s in a position to fix itself, we may not like what they do with it.

Republicans are warmongers, and they’re not even smart about it. Get rid of as many as possible in November.

Lots to Learn from Tuesday’s Michigan Primary

On the one hand, Tuesday’s Michigan primary saw the second-lowest turnout in the last 36 years, with fewer than 18 percent even bothering to show up. It was only second-worst because only 15.1 percent of registered voters showed up in 1990, when Republicans were trying to teach Bush 41 a “lesson.” That seems low, but most of the Republicans running for reelection were running unopposed, so many of their voters stayed home. That doesn’t mean they’ll stay home in November, however, so the key to this election, like every other election, is to drive up turnout among everyone else, to cancel them out.

The Michigan primary also once again demonstrated that money is not the game changer many assume.  Money can buy you television commercials, fancy websites and experienced campaign staffers, but it can’t actually buy you votes. In Saginaw County, Republican Paul Mitchell lost his primary for the 4th District House to State Sen. John Moolenaar, even though he outspent Moolenaar by more than 5-to-1. Like many of people with a lot of money but nothing to say, the relative unknown Mitchell spent nearly $5 million of his own money to try to capture the GOP nomination, but it will be Moolenaar gets to run against Democrat Jeff Holmes to replace Dave Camp, who is retiring.

Once again; money does not win elections, especially if the candidate spending it is a stiff, even in the GOP. And can we get real here; compared to Democrats, all Republicans are stiffs.

The Republican primary in Michigan’s Third District also showed that the Tea Party is so over. Justin Amash (a relatively sane Republican) beat back a challenge from GOP teabagger and Chamber of Commerce favorite Brian Ellis. During the campaign, Ellis had called him“Al Qaeda’s best friend” in Congress, which rightfully set Amash off, so he reportedly refused to answer a concession phone call from Ellis, then unloaded on him, publicly. “I ran for office to stop people like you,” Amash said to Ellis, who was elsewhere. Amash also ripped former GOP Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who had backed Ellis. “I’m glad we can hand you one more loss before you fade into total obscurity and irrelevance.”

In the 14th District, Brenda Lawrence beat state Rep. Rudy Hobbs in the Democratic primary by about 2,400 votes. Hobbs was a personal pick of former Governor Jennifer Granholm, who congratulated him as “the next Congressman” simulaneously with an EMILY’s List press release celebrating Lawrence’s win.

What we’re learning is that Michigan is still in play, no matter what the analysts say. The Tea Party is over, and the GOP is beatable, regardless of how much money it has. In other words, don’t accept the conventional wisdom… ever. If progressives re going to win, we have to be unconventional. Always. Work on giving people something to vote for, and they’ll show up and vote Democratic. It can happen.