Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"They talk about the end of the world and we are talking about the end of the month!" How Climate Change policy has become the 21st Century symbol of economic division in Western democracies

"What I want to make French people understand – notably those who say ‘we hear the president, the government, they talk about the end of the world and we are talking about the end of the month’ – is that we are going to treat both, that we must treat both." - French President Emmanuel Macron of France in a November 27 speech addressing the open revolt of the “yellow vest” protesters objecting to costs of measures to reduce Climate Change.

Macron is the last of the "Third Way" politicians to gain office as the head of state in a Western Democracy, in the Tony Blair (Labour Party) - Bill Clinton (Democratic Party) tradition. The Third Way was created as a pro-capitalism intellectual re-evaluation of political policies within various center-left progressive movements in response to doubt regarding the economic viability of the state and the overuse of economic intervention policies.

Those economic intervention policies had previously been popularized by Keynesian Economics but in the latter quarter of the 20th Century contrasted with the rise of popularity the Neoliberal right that captured the Republican Party during that period.

Like many Third Way politicians, Macron is intellectually involved in issues such as Climate Change while totally uninvolved in determining how to address those issues in ways that won't create a psychologically depressed working class that would see in the world coming to an end a better outcome.

Depending on how you look at things, a coal-stuffed climate summit is either completely absurd—“beyond parody,” as one commentator put it—or merely appropriate. With each passing month, the threat posed by global warming grows clearer.

Last week, just as the [Conference of the Parties] session in Katowice was getting under way, the French President, Emmanuel Macron, suspended plans to raise that nation’s gasoline and diesel-fuel taxes. The increase had been intended to speed the transition to cleaner cars; the postponement came in response to violent protests by the so-called “yellow vest” movement. Demonstrators complained that Macron was worried about the end of the world, while they were worried about the end of the month. - Elizabeth Kolbert in "Coal for Christmas at the U.N. Climate Conference"

And that summarizes the problem for urbane (note - that is not "urban") in the Western World including the United States - they worry about abstractions like the end of the world as we know it probably coming sometime in the next century or two while struggling workers worry about being unable to pay the electric bill as the very real utility employee is now at the front door ready to turn off the power.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump offers lumps of coal which can be used to heat the house.

And so among all the various environmental climate change headlines came What France’s ‘Yellow Vest’ Protests Can Teach California. The young writer with much insight addresses the November election failure of Proposition 6 which would have repealed a recent gas tax increase adopted by the Legislature. As she explains:

    As the “yellow vest” protests erupt in France, Californians should recognize that many of the policies provoking outrage across the Atlantic are also stoking divisions in our own cities and suburbs.
    Here in California, the gas tax that ignited the French protests brings to mind the most contentious proposition on last month’s midterm election ballot: Proposition 6, which would have repealed a gas tax implemented in 2017. The gas tax is a polarizing issue in the state and cost an Orange County senator his job. Although Prop 6 failed, a substantial 43 percent of Californians—most of them living outside urbanized coastal regions—did vote to get rid of the added cost at the pump.
    On the surface, the gas tax seems fair: If people choose to drive rather than get around using more planet-friendly modes like public transportation, they should pay the price for contributing to climate change and pollution. And those who make more ecologically responsible choices—whether that’s walking, riding a bike, or using transit—should be rewarded.
    But this way of thinking is stuck in an outdated notion of who lives—and drives—in California’s suburbs. ...Many Californians still imagine suburbs as “garden cities” where well-to-do white families enjoy peaceful living while eschewing the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the city. But the fact is, as wealthy millennial children of the suburbs increasingly migrate to urban hubs, many minority and low-income residents are being squeezed out.
    The Bay Area is infamous for its extreme wealth inequality and an acute housing crisis that is driving many long-term residents—particularly low-income people and people of color—to outlying areas that have fewer job opportunities and are disconnected from the region’s public transportation network....

    ...In the Bay Area, low-income households’ third largest category of expenses is transportation, after housing and food. The rise of the gig economy means that more so-called super commuters (those who travel more than 90 minutes to work each day) are working multiple precarious jobs, often far from home, rather than commuting to and from one steady job during normal business hours.
We are unfairly burdening the state’s already disadvantaged communities with the costs of our transition to a greener society, while excluding them from the benefits.....

As noted in this blog previously, the irony is that, California's extra effort in implementing anti-Climate Change policy notwithstanding, Climate Change is going to happen, at near-maximum catastrophic impact. The loss of housing and businesses in recent California wildfires and in earlier hurricanes represents the beginning of a century-long period of environmental changes resulting in new migration within the United States whenever and wherever state and local governments fail to adapt.

"It's the economy, stupid" is a cautionary expression that should be applied to all anti-Climate Change policy development. And the corollary is that the negative economic impacts of that policy must necessarily fall on the rich and successful, or there will be no anti-Climate Change policy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Caring, Civility, Courtesy, Foresight, Tolerance, and Humor: The humane values immigrant parents and grandparents gave the elected California leadership

Going into 2019, the United State of California has cut itself free from the political polarization of our country.

This will allow Californians to radiate the following values across the American public arena: caring, civility, courtesy, foresight, tolerance, and humor!

Elections in California during this decade have created what could be the 21st Century leadership role for California in restoring orderly efficacy to the American public arena. Consider the following table:


Caring, Civility, Courtesy, Foresight, Tolerance, and Humor

Two of the best known California Governors were Republicans - Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Earl Warren and President Ronald Reagan.

Nonetheless, at the beginning of 2018 across the United States almost no one knew that a Republican appointee held one of our state's highest offices, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye.

As indicated in the table above, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye's Hawaii-born father was of Filipino and Portuguese ancestry Her mother was of Filipino ancestry. Her father worked as a sugar and pineapple plantation worker when growing up, her mother sorted tomatoes and picked figs in California’s Central Valley. After WWII, he worked as an instrument repairman at McClellan Air Force Base and she worked as an executive secretary for the state Department of Corrections. Justice Cantil-Sakauye has two daughters with her husband retired Sacramento Police Lt. Mark Sakauye whose parents of Japanese ancestry were interned during World War II.

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye has impeccable Republican credentials. A U.C. Davis Law School graduate, in 1988 after working in the the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office for four years Cantil-Sakauye become Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary, then Deputy Legislative Secretary, to Republican Governor George Deukmejian. In 1990, Deukmejian appointed her as a Judge of the Sacramento Municipal Court. In 1997, Republican Governor Pete Wilson appointed her as a Judge of the Sacramento County Superior Court. In 2005 Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her as an Associate Justice of the California Third District Court of Appeal. On July 21, 2010, Schwarzenegger nominated her (and the voters subsequently approved her) to succeed retiring Chief Justice Ronald M. George on the California Supreme Court.

"I was struck by the fact that she has a tremendous ability to get along with people and build consensus," George said at the time of her nomination. "And at the same, while being a diplomatic and pleasant person, she has a backbone of steel — she is a strong woman with a strong commitment to the administration of justice."

Consistent with that evaluation, a news story that appeared last week Chief justice of the California Supreme Court leaves the Republican Party, citing Kavanaugh shouldn't come as a surprise :

    California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has quietly given up her Republican registration and re-registered as a no-party-preference voter, saying Thursday she had become increasingly uncomfortable with the GOP’s direction nationally and in the state.
    In a phone interview with CALmatters, Cantil-Sakauye—who was a prosecutor before becoming a judge 28 years ago and California Supreme Court chief justice in 2011—said she made the final decision to change her registration after watching the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
    “You can draw your own conclusions,” she said.
    She answered the question about her party registration Thursday after appearing on a National Judicial College-hosted panel at the National Press Club with judges and justices who discussed attacks on the judiciary.
    Cantil-Sakauye last year sent a pointed letter to then U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly urging that federal law enforcement cease the practice of “stalking undocumented immigrants” to arrest them in courthouses. She warned that it would prompt immigrants to stop reporting crimes.
    “Enforcement policies that include stalking courthouses and arresting undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom pose no risk to public safety, are neither safe nor fair,” she wrote.
    Kelly and Sessions dismissed her request, telling her to address her concerns to Gov. Jerry Brown and that California “sanctuary” policies “threaten public safety, rather than enhance it.”
    Until recently, the court had been divided, with four justices appointed by Republican governors and three by Democratic Gov. Brown. Brown’s fourth appointee, Joshua Groban, is expected to be confirmed at a hearing next week.
    Decisions during Cantil-Sakauye’s tenure as chief justice, however, have generally conveyed cohesion, with the court regularly issuing decisions that are unanimous or near-unanimous.

A another article published last week California Today: ‘Why Is California Not Polarized?’ Ask the State’s Chief Justice noted:

    [Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye] praised the state Supreme Court’s consensus-based approach and said she doubted that the court would be much different with a majority of Democratic-appointed justices.
    “I think all of us value the fact that there can be no resolution without courtesy and civility and humor,” she said.
    In her remarks, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye, 59, spoke about a new generation of judges who embodied what she described as California values — judges who cared about homelessness, climate change and “what are we going to do about guns.”
    She defined the California ethos as “underdog centric” and criticized the federal immigration authorities for making arrests in courthouses.
    “People ask this question all the time, ‘Why is California not polarized?’ We are divided as a nation but not so much as a state,” Dr. David A. Carrillo, executive director of the California Constitution Center at Berkeley Law [and and life member of the La Raza Lawyers Association and the Hispanic National Bar Association], said. “I think it’s particularly telling that we have a state high court that reflects that consensus.”

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye's heritage reflects the rich ethnic history of California which, as you can see from the table above, is also reflected in the other 12 statewide offices listed in the table. As you can see, Californians elected two rich white guys to be in leadership roles beginning in 2019 including Governor-elect Gavin Newsom and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

A divorced and remarried rich white guy and former Mayor of San Francisco, Newsom was a prominent early advocate for same sex marriage, euthanasia, universal healthcare, the legalization of cannabis, and the end of the death penalty and was elected Governor receiving 61.9% of the vote against a Republican opponent.

But it is the other rich white guy Californian who will be the curiosity in 2019 as he is the only person listed in that table who is a Republican after Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye ended her affiliation.

California Leadership of U.S. House of Representatives

Can the California political values of caring, civility, courtesy, foresight, tolerance, and humor be effectively inserted into national politics? In 2019 Californians will provide the leadership in the House of Representatives.

Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who since 1987 has served as U.S. Representative for California's 12th congressional district  consisting of four-fifths of San Francisco, will return to the position of Speaker of the House.

But what is surprising is that Republican Kevin McCarthy, U.S. Representative for California's 23rd mostly rural congressional district since 2007, will become House Minority Leader in 2019.

McCarthy is the first Republican in his immediate family, as his parents were members of the Democratic Party. On June 15, 2016, McCarthy told a group of Republicans, "There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump. Swear to God." In 2003, while minority leader in the state assembly, McCarthy "support[ed] most abortion rights, but oppose[d] spending tax dollars on abortions." By 2015, however, McCarthy was a "staunch anti-abortion-rights advocate." But....

In the past two years, he has strongly fought for Trump's policies on tax reform, health care, and immigration. McCarthy worked to assure support from his fellow California Republican Representatives. McCarthy now has to face reality regarding these policies and the Republic losses in the House.

Forty Republican House seats were "flipped" in the 2018 election, seven of 14 in California. Of California's 53 House seats, beginning in 2019only seven will be Republican. And Trump's policies are the problem.

Only 36 percent of likely California voters approved of the Republican tax law, about the same losing number that voted Republican. In defeated Republican Representative Mimi Walters’s affluent previously solid Republican Orange County district surrounding Irvine, 46 percent of residents used the state and local tax deduction eliminated in the Trump tax reform. That increased taxes for those residents. Many, many of those residents are lower level corporate executives who fully understand that their corporations received huge tax breaks, and they know that the money was used for purposes that did not significantly benefit employees.

But it has increased the deficit "hugely."

“We went out and borrowed money and used that to cut everyone a check, and much of that was spent,” Mark Zandi, the chief economist with Moody’s Analytics, recently noted summarizing the impact on the economy. That's the tax reform issue.

Regarding the health care issue, the recent Texas federal court ruling ending the Affordable Care Act represents a potential death knell for Republicans in 2020. The judge ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, finding that the law cannot stand now that Congress has rolled back the mandate that everyone carry health insurance or pay a fine.

In a previous ruling on a suit to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court specifically upheld the Act as a tax referencing the individual mandate which levy's a penalty for non-compliance. This new lawsuit filed by the 20 Republican dominated states indicated in the map to the right, supported by the Trump Administration, argued that since Congress now has eliminated the penalty associated with the mandate then in the context of the Supreme Court ruling the Act is no longer a tax and thus unconstitutional. The judge agreed.

The ruling was stayed and will be appealed. The case likely will be heard by the Supreme Court just in time for the 2020 elections. The fact is the Affordable Care Act, particularly the individual mandate that makes it possible to cover preexisting conditions, is very popular. That explain why so many Republican candidates claimed to support those protections while campaigning in the 2018 midterms, despite the lawsuit filed by Republican-controlled states.

This is not good for Republicans, but the fact that the Democrats took control of the House will alter the political dynamics. "This ruling would have been terrible for Republicans if they still controlled the House, but because they don't, they have the opportunity to sit back and focus on message and really this has the potential to give Republicans second life on this issue," GOP strategist Ford O'Connell said. And that's the health care issue.

And then there is the immigration issue. McCarthy needs to look at that table above, particularly the column on the right. It's hard to not notice that all the the official leadership of California's government have parents and/or grandparents who are immigrants. (Except for the other rich white guy on the list whose immigrant ancestors are more than three generations earlier like McCarthy's.)

And he might notice that Speaker of the House Nancy Peolosi's mother and paternal grandparents were Italian immigrants.

Exactly how is McCarthy going to work with these folks who reflect California's rich ethnic makeup and how is he going to try to get some Republican House seats back in California in that context?

And that's immigration issue for McCarthy.

To be relevant in California, at some point the Republican Party leaders like McCarthy must stop catering to Cindy Hyde-Smith’s Mississippi, the least populous among the 11 ex-Confederate states, the only state in the South with a majority of residents still residing outside urban areas, and a state having just 2.9 percent of residents who are Hispanic.

In 2012 Mississippi passed a law calling for police to check the immigration status of people they arrest and in 2017 passed a law prohibiting cities, counties, community colleges and universities from adopting sanctuary policies. And this reflects the policy position of Trump's Republican Party.

Read again above what then Republican California Supreme Court Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye wrote to Trump's recently fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump's recently fired Chief of Staff John Kelly. And note as she explained giving up her affiliation with the Republican Party that regarding partisanship she said: “I think all of us value the fact that there can be no resolution without courtesy and civility and humor.”

Whether McCarthy can thread his way through Trump's Old South white bigotry to find a way to create Republican appeal in his own state in which 9 of the 11 state leaders approved by the voters statewide have immigrant parents remains to be seen. The challenge is significant. The fact is in California ⅔rds of the votes cast for House candidates were cast for Democrats.

It would help him if he would work with Pelosi to bring into Congressional policy-making process the California political values of caring, civility, courtesy, foresight, tolerance, and humor.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Crimson Tide engulfing 32 states (77% of the United States in area) absorbs the Blue Ripple vote. What the biennially aroused Democrats don't get!

When it comes to ocean metaphors, the National Democratic Party has its head in the sand. Since the 1960's 64% of these United States experienced a consistently rising political Crimson Tide1, dispersed over 77% of the geographic area, which no electoral Blue Wave will sweep away. In the 21st Century, only California has had a significant, consistent electoral Blue Tide.

A Blue Wave versus a Rising Blue Tide

In the months leading up to the November 2018 election, we were buried in "Blue Wave" hype by Democrats and liberal media.

Of course no electoral Blue Wave materialized. As will be explored here, there have been electoral "Waves" and there have been public policy "Waves." Then there is a California "Blue Tide" pushing away the Crimson Tide sustaining currents from its electoral and public policy shores.

The kind of "Blue Wave" that might really matter - a public policy Blue Wave - we last saw in these United States in 1964-66. More on that later.

If you wonder what an electoral Blue Wave really looks like consider this. In the General Election of 1882 California voters chose to:
  • elect Democratic candidates to all of the then existing state Executive positions - Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Controller, and Superintendent of Public Instruction - all previously held by Republicans
  • switch the State Board of Equalization from 3 Republicans and 1 Democrat to 3 Democrats and 1 Republican
  • replace the Republican majority in the State Senate with an 80% Democratic supermajority and the Republican majority in the State Assembly with a 75% Democratic supermajority; and
  • elect 4 Democrats as its members of the House of Representatives from California, previously 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats.
But as is typical for electoral waves, that wave broke, receded, and within eight years Republicans regained domination in California government until 1959, 68 years later, when Democrats started winning some key races and a majority in the Legislature.

Beginning in the 21st Century, California Democrats expanded, with an occasional short-term exception, control of all of California's state government. Instead of a Blue Wave, we have had a "Blue Tide" that has slowly and steadily drowned the California Republican Party in its own Crimson Tide currents.

In the 2018 General Election our Blue Tide did rise to an unusual high. As the new Legislature was sworn in on December 3rd, at the last count:
  • the new Assembly was Democrats 60 (75% supermajority), Republicans 20 (25%), with a chance one seat could end up with a Democrat instead of a Republican;
  • the new Senate was Democrats 29 (72.5% supermajority), Republicans 11 (27.5%);
  • Democrats control every statewide office; and
  • Representatives from California in the House of Representatives included 46 Democrats to 7 Republicans, versus the previous count of 38 Democrats and 14 Republicans.
At this given moment no meaningful Republican Party exists in California, a state where previous Republican Governors included Earl Warren and Ronald Reagan.

About that current sustaining the electoral Crimson Tide

I am a native Californian, I'm old, but until this November I held a foolish hope that the National Democratic Party was going to attempt to create a party structure that would consistently win outside California. But then this appeared less than a month before the election:

"The first line of resistance against Republicans’ extremist policies starts in the states." - from an October 8, 2018 memo signed by Democratic National Committee CEO Seema Nanda and Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Director Jessica Post

Really? This had to be stated in a memo to the Democratic Party less than a month before the midterms?

Apparently so. Because this week a special election to fill the most important position in Georgia state government - the one that will determine election administrative policy such as whose names to strike off the voter rolls in 2020 - was abandoned by the starry-eyed, celebrity-oriented Democrats who seemingly can only get aroused biennially and then only enough to focus on positions that have celebrity status - like the Governor's position in Georgia that they lost in November (though we must recognize that special arousal that resulted in tens of millions of dollars spent on losing one Georgia Congressional seat special election in 2017, correctly called "a bad and expensive bet"). And so we have this story...

...which tells us...

    Georgia, the site of one of the year's most closely watched races for governor — and before that, its most expensive special House election in history — will hold Tuesday runoffs in a smattering of local races and for two major statewide offices. The duties of one, secretary of state, drew an unusual amount of attention before and just after the Nov. 6 election. Then, the job was held by Abrams's Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, whom Democrats accused of making it more difficult for people of color to vote by purging voter rolls of people who had not voted in recent elections and not supplying enough voting machines at some polling places.
    While Kemp defends his actions, Abrams pointedly did not offer a formal concession when she acknowledged Kemp's win. She is telling voters that their election is not over and is prominently featured in a mailer for John Barrow, the Democrat hoping to replace Kemp.
    "Voter suppression works when people decide their individual voices are too weak or too fragile to bring about change,” Abrams said in a recent interview with The Washington Post. "John Barrow is part of the solution."
    But even with Abrams's urging and the controversy around the Nov. 6 vote, formerly bustling campaign offices are seeing notably less traffic. The celebrities who flew in to endorse Abrams have stayed home. The airwaves have largely been reconquered by local businesses, with only occasional election spots. The relatively low-key election worries Democrats.
    Yet days before the year's final competitive elections, the turnout machine was dramatically smaller than the one that had changed the state's electorate in an unsuccessful attempt to elect Stacey Abrams to the governor's office. "I had 120 canvassers for the November 6 election," said Latrice Benton, the NGP's lead organizer for Gwinnett County, in the Atlanta suburbs. "I had 20 yesterday, but I had to cut them." The reason? "Not enough funding."

The Republican won, of course. Instead, Democrats seem to embrace the following really, really stupid thinking...

Fresh from patting themselves on the back for winning the governor (and attorney general) races in Michigan and Wisconsin, followers of national Democratic "leaders" like Sanders are discovering just how unimportant it is to elect a candidate to a "D-List celebrity" position like governor (or President).

During the lame-duck period before the new Democratic governor-elect takes office in 2019, the Republican legislators - folks who hold the most powerful positions in the United States - are adopting laws which will limit the power of the incoming Democratic governors.

Those legislatures will, of course, remain Republican after the new year begins because the Democrats failed miserably to win the important positions in those states. But those legislatures will not be veto-proof. They needed to act now while a Republican is still governor.

Democrats are grumbling but here's the truth....

There are 132 people in Wisconsin and 148 in Michigan serving as state senators and state representatives. That's 280 legislators, mostly bland, frequently policy-oriented folks not of celebrity status material. They get to decide many details about Obamacare and abortion in those two states, not Donald Trump or any U.S. President, not Congress, and not a Governor. Finding a way to win a simple majority in each state senate and house would have been meaningful.

It's not "fun" to effectively organize a campaign for candidates for those 280 seats. And there are 7,103 other state legislators in these United States, each seat needing the focused attention from the Democratic side, focus comparable to that given by the Koch Bros Neoliberal organization - the current sustaining the American 21st Century Republican Crimson Tide.

In the last quarter of the 20th Century Democrats really didn't seem to want to divert attention away from their Presidential candidates. Thus Democrats lost each election in most of the states whether their Presidential candidate won or not.

During that period the Neoliberals moved the Republicans to victory through the states. That's because they are not confused, as explained here in April 2017:

...Over a period of 70 years, between 1947 and 2016, one group of ideologues - the Neoliberals - achieved effective control of most state government$ in the United States and, at this time somewhat less effectively, taken control of the U.S. House of Representatives. And to some degree their view is strongly represented on the Supreme Court.

In fact, the shift from 1976 to 2016 within the important government$ of the United States, the state legislatures, looks like this (focus on Nebraska which has a unicameral legislature that is supposedly non-partisan).

Yes, in November 2018 Democrats did win a majority in the House of Representatives - thereby winning control of half of one of the three branches of the U.S. government. Yes, control of half of one of the three branches of the U.S. government. That's not a Blue Wave, just a Blue Ripple. At the same time, there was an election that looked like this from the standpoint of political control of the states:

In this context, the "Blue Wave" enthusiasm in the end apparently meant that a few purple states (split control of the legislature) turned totally blue (Democratic control of both houses). And some turned red (Republican control of both houses). As explained by the New York Times:

    In a stark display of the nation’s divide, the lower and upper chamber of every legislature but one — Minnesota — will be controlled by the same party following Tuesday’s midterm elections. It will be the first time in 104 years that only one state will have a divided legislature.
    That emerging political dynamic has potentially serious policy implications. Without a divided government, these single-party state houses are in a position to enact legislation at a time when Washington faces a new round of gridlock after Democrats captured the House and Republicans expanded their control of the Senate.
    The political lineup of the legislatures came into focus as the Democrats captured control of seven statehouse chambers on Tuesday, a relatively weak showing that left Republicans dominant in an overwhelming majority of state governments. By contrast, Republicans seized more than 20 statehouse chambers from Democrats in the critical 2010 midterm elections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
    The district maps drawn by Republicans who took power in state legislatures in 2010 — a midterm election under President Barack Obama that saw steep losses for his party across the board — was one of the reasons for the modest Democratic gains, analysts said.
    With the election results, the Republican Party will control both houses in 30 states, while Democrats will hold complete control in 18 states.
    Republicans dismissed the Democratic gains in the statehouses, noting how modest they were and that Republicans held onto legislative majorities in crucial states like Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin.
    “We see this as a significantly fumbled opportunity by the Democrats to make gains,” said Matt Walter, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, adding that the states where Democrats flipped chambers on Tuesday were all states Ms. Clinton won in 2016. For Democrats, he said, it was a “disappointing night given all the spending and hype.”
    Democrats did not succeed in flipping statehouse chambers in key Midwestern states where Mr. Trump triumphed in 2016. Indeed, Republicans held or extended their majorities in some of those states, including in the Wisconsin Senate and the Iowa Senate.
    In Ohio, where Mr. Trump won by eight points, Democrats fell short of winning the governor seat. While Democrats picked up a handful of seats in the House chamber, they appeared to have lost a seat in the Senate. And even though Republicans lost seats in the state House, the party will retain a three-fifths supermajority in both legislative chambers, giving them the ability to override gubernatorial vetoes.
    In New Hampshire, Democrats flipped both chambers and took control of the Executive Council, which effectively functions as an additional branch of government. Although Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, was re-elected, the fact that he will have to deal with a Democratic legislature and Executive Council could make it difficult for him to implement policy.
    The vote on Tuesday represented the first stage of elections that will set the parameters for reapportionment after the 2020 census is conducted. About 800 of the lawmakers elected Tuesday will have a voice in that realignment — for the most part, state senators whose terms are longer than two years. Another 5,000 will be elected in 2020.

When liberals go hat-in-hand to beg the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn state laws on subjects like gay marriage or abortion, they are going there because those liberals failed to do the hard work and spend the money to win their state legislatures. Unless or until the National Democratic Party starts explaining this to their members, it will fail as a political party in the Union known as these United States.

As I've noted here numerous times, it is those who are elected to state legislatures that are in the most important political positions. I know this is difficult for many Democrats to accept. And that is exactly why the Democrats have so little clout over domestic policy within a significant majority of states.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act

Keep within your vision the state-level directional change from 1978 to 2016 when you consider this:

The U.S. Constitution, designed to create a Union of internally independent states, was structured to retain the broadest government power within the state governments.

Or to put it another way, the 10th Amendment emphasizes that the United States Union was created to smooth out commerce across state and international boundaries, provide for a common defense of all states in the case of an attack by an outside foreign government, and a few other minor related items.

Not included in the list were things like inter-personal relationships, health care, education, etc. These were things state legislatures were supposed to take care of. And if you haven't noticed, whether it's Obamacare or land use, it is the legislatures that create the regulatory framework for those issues, and in a majority of cases not in a way we Democrats like because we don't do the work and spend the money on winning all those legislative seats.

Yes, one exception exists to the powers of the state legislatures which was a somewhat confusing result of the Civil War. That is the 14th Amendment, not put in place by our Founding Fathers, which specifically provides that: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Note that it does not give Congress any specific additional powers. But it does give the federal court system a standard by which state laws can be reviewed.

Now reconsider the graphic above containing the images of Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Donald Trump.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 based on the 14th Amendment was a law of the United States government making unlawful segregation in public places and banning employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The legislation had been proposed by Democratic President John F. Kennedy in June 1963, but opposed by filibuster in the Senate. It is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the Democratic President Lyndon Johnson. But was it a the death knell of the Democratic Party within the Union (let's be clear, the Union is not a Union of people, but a Union of states). Consider these two graphics:

Notice the block of states in the south that were Democratic or Mostly Democratic in 1964. Then notice that most of the "No" votes on the 1964 Civil Rights Act came from the solidly Democratic states.

Now reconsider this...

...graphic showing the changes in partisan control resulting from the Democratic leadership sponsored 1964 Civil Rights Act as you consider the following from Wikipedia:

Note: "Southern", as used in this section, refers to members of Congress from the eleven states that made up the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. "Northern" refers to members from the other 39 states, regardless of the geographic location of those states.

The original House version:
  • Southern Democrats: 7–87   (7–93%)
  • Southern Republicans: 0–10   (0–100%)
  • Northern Democrats: 145–9   (94–6%)
  • Northern Republicans: 138–24   (85–15%)
The Senate version:
  • Southern Democrats: 1–20   (5–95%) (only Ralph Yarborough of Texas voted in favor)
  • Southern Republicans: 0–1   (0–100%) (John Tower of Texas)
  • Northern Democrats: 45–1   (98–2%) (only Robert Byrd of West Virginia voted against)
  • Northern Republicans: 27–5   (84–16%)

The 1965-66 Public Policy Blue Wave

Give some thought to those economic/environmental programs of Johnson's Great Society outlined in the graphic with images of Presidents Johnson and Trump above in the context of how the Koch Bros Neoliberals generally must have reacted. The Great Society explains why they settled in to plan, and then carry out, a long term strategy to take control of the state governments through a Crimson Tide.

In that time, not only have significant elements the 1964-66 policy Blue Wave legislation been rolled back, there is little likelihood of reconciling the political divide among the states. This was reflected in the struggle to implement the Obamacare Medicaid provisions designed to help provide medical care to all U.S. families with income up to an effective 138% of the poverty line who would qualify for coverage in any state that participated in the Medicaid program. The federal government paid 100% of the cost of Medicaid eligibility expansion in participating states in 2014-16, 95% in 2017, 94% in 2018, 93% in 2019, and 90% thereafter. In case it is unclear, the goal was to assure that routine medical care is available to children and larges sums of money were available - but that wasn't enough for the non-green states.

We residents of these not-so-United States seem to have at the personal level slowly evolving questions in the political divide context - who are we and whose pain should we not care about?

A parallel political divide can be found in Britain which has been explained as follows:

    The public are divided down the middle. One of the reasons they’re divided down the middle — and this is not dissimilar to the US — is because Brexit has activated a values divide.
    This isn’t a traditional left-right thing. This is almost our equivalent to a culture war. If you want to predict how people voted, it’s their views on diversity, on gay rights, on gender equality, on the death penalty. It’s those values issues that people are coalescing around.
    What we know about those issues is once they’ve been ignited in political debate, they’re very hard to put out again. People hold those beliefs very deeply and find it hard to change them. That’s one of the reasons why people aren’t changing their minds. It’s one of the reasons why the Brexit division is proving to be a very deep division indeed. A majority of British people now identify themselves as Leaver or Remainer rather than Labour or Tory.
    At the same time, no one has a huge amount of faith in any of our political leaders because the perception is that both Theresa May and [Labour Party leader] Jeremy Corbyn just aren’t very competent at their jobs.
    Finally, one of the reasons this is messy is because we have a series of crises going on at the same time, all of which, except Brexit, were brewing before the referendum, and all of which have been made worse by the referendum.
    We’ve got a crisis of economics because of high levels of inequality and an enormous amount of economic pain being placed upon those least able to deal with it....

Here in the U.S., the election of Donald Trump served as a referendum on the old messy, amorphous 20th Century post-Civil Rights Act political party structures of Lyndon Johnson and George H.W. Bush.

That structure was the losing side in 2016 as we found ourselves in an election in which our economic Neoliberal ideologues and cultural religious traditionalists coalesced, taking over the Republican Party name. These should be "strange bedfellows" but for the time being they appear to make up about a reliable 30% of the voting public, or even 40% with a celebrity like Trump leading this Crimson Tide.

California's Blue Tide policy agenda

The Democratic Blue Tide supermajority in California has some ideas about what ought to be done as explained by long-time observer George Skelton:

    [Governor-elect Gavin] Newsom will target early childhood education, focusing on what he calls the “readiness gap” — kids not being adequately prepared to start school. The governor-elect says he has a “sense of urgency” for “universal access to preschool.”
    That’s also the [Assembly Speaker Anthony] Rendon’s top priority.
    Rendon says he and Newsom are “definitely on the same page. Get the kids early and break the cycle of poverty.” He wants to expand access and also modernize programs.
    But how poor will a family need to be to qualify for a state-funded program? That may upset many people.
    “The consensus in the Legislature is that it’s not our goal to serve kids whose parents have the means to afford their own” early childhood education, Rendon says
    Newsom also will take a stab at universal healthcare, although not necessarily the single-payer, all-government system many of his supporters adamantly advocate.
    “I’m going to push the envelope, lean in on this and see how far we can take it,” Newsom told me in October. “I’ve got over 30 people working on it as we speak.”
    This also is a top priority for Senate leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). Last year she coauthored a colossally expensive single-payer plan that passed the Senate and was quickly killed in the Assembly by Rendon because it lacked details and funding.
    Rendon points out that only roughly 7 percent of Californians aren’t covered by medical insurance, thanks largely to the federal Affordable Care Act.
    “Closing that final gap,” he says, “makes more sense” than trying to create a costly single-payer system.
    Another pressing problem Democrats have promised to keep working on is homelessness. Newsom says it’s a priority. So does Atkins. California has by far the largest homeless population of any state, with an estimated 23,000 living on L.A. streets.
    Voters last month approved $5 billion in bonds for various homeless and low-income housing programs, but that’s just a start.

No, it's not "just a start" which is why as an old California Democrat I can be both enthused and a bit depressed. Consider the discussion above in the context of the bottom portion of the graphic that includes Johnson and Trump - here's what I'm talking about:

What we will be creating in California will look much like a "Project Head Start (1965)" and a "Medicaid (1965) and a "Housing and Urban Development Act (1965)". Today we must create  programs to assure the availability of preschool, medical care, and housing for all children. Of course, we're doing it at the state level, where it might not be undone by other states.

I am a native Californian, I'm old, and I remember 1965, which was 53 years ago. At the current time, I feel as politically alienated from 77% of the area of these United States as Jeff Sessions would likely feel in Coastal California.

I keep using that 77% number because - as many learned in 2000 and 2016 Presidents are elected by geography not necessarily number of votes, and as we see every day in votes in the U.S. Senate which is based on geography not population - each state must be considered separately.

In my humble opinion it's time for the National Democratic Party and its supporters to quit looking for a popular Blue Wave in some biennial election and start working to roll back the electoral Crimson Tide state-by-state in 32 states. It will be difficult as it means struggling for victory within that 77% of the geographic area of these United States.

In the meantime,  dealing at the personal level with those slowly evolving questions in the political divide context, all I can answer is "I'm a Californian" who believes the current Democratic Party state-by-state must counter the Koch Bros Neoliberal organization using their own organizational model. To get a more complete picture of the history and organization of the Neoliberal organization  click here.


  1. "Crimson Tide" is a metaphor used here to reflect both the poisonous effects of a Red Tide, a phenomenon associated with wildlife mortalities and harmful human exposure caused by the bloom of an algal species, as well as the name by the University of Alabama sports teams; see Red tide found on Alabama coast; health officials urge caution.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

How the death of a 20th Century President with family ties to early California history amplifies the struggle to reconcile history with today's politics

I am a native Californian, I'm old, and find myself in a struggle to reconcile history with today's politics.

In 2016 as we found ourselves facing an election in which American economic Neoliberal ideologues and cultural Christian traditionalists coalesced to finally take the Republican Party away from the likes of the Bush Yankee Republican dynasty founded by Obadiah Newcomb Bush great-great-grandfather of President George H.W. Bush who died this past week.

This post isn't about the death of President George H.W. Bush whose memory needs no additional positive recognition from me as most of the press has done an excellent job of pointing out how he was the last of a kind as a President. But his death reminded me of the ties of the Bush Yankee Republican dynasty to early California history and to a long tradition of advocating for human rights.

Obadiah Bush and his brother Henry, grandsons of a American Revolution militia captain, were abolitionists. Obadiah, vice president of the American Anti-Slavery Society, petitioned the New York State Legislature to secede from the Union in a protest against slavery, after which The Rochester Daily Advertiser accused him of encouraging anarchy.

His sister-in-law Abigail Norton Bush (c. 1810 – c. 1899) was a women's rights activist in Rochester, New York. She served as president of the Rochester Women's Rights Convention, which was held in 1848.

In 1849 Obadiah traveled to California among the forty-niners in the gold rush. Two years later he died aboard a ship on his way back to California and was given a sea burial, leaving seven children.

One of his sons, Rev. James Smith Bush, was was an American attorney, Episcopal priest, and religious writer. In 1865–66 James also traveled to San Francisco via the Straits of Magellan, but on the ironclad monitor USS Monadnock. In 1867–1872, James served at San Francisco's Grace Church (later Cathedral).

James was the grandfather of the late Republican United States Senator from Connecticut Prescott Sheldon Bush who was the father of President George H. W. Bush and the paternal grandfather of President George W. Bush and Governor Jeb Bush.

Prescott was involved with the American Birth Control League as early as 1942 and served as the treasurer of the first national capital campaign of Planned Parenthood in 1947. His support for hurt him in strongly-Catholic Connecticut, and were the basis of a last-minute campaign in churches by Bush's opponents during his first two runs for the Senate seat which he lost. He was also an early supporter of the United Negro College Fund, serving as chairman of the Connecticut branch in 1951.

This is the history of the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, I understood. Truthfully, within this Union of states called the United States, I simply cannot see any similarity between Mississippi, which just elected an avowed segregationist Republican to the United States Senate, and California where founders of the Bush dynasty, steeped in anti-slavery and women's rights activism, spent their early years.

In fact, being an old native Californian I don't understand how in the 21st Century America either...
  • Senator Kamala Harris, born to a Tamil Indian mother, a breast cancer researcher, who emigrated from Madras, Tamil Nadu, India, in 1960, and a Stanford University economics professor father who emigrated from Jamaica in 1961, or
  • California Senator Dianne Feinstein, whose paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Poland and maternal grandparents of German-Jewish ancestry were immigrants from Saint Petersburg, Russia,
...can stand to be in the same room with Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith who:
  • went to a segregation academy for grade school like the one she sent her daughter to, now attended by her granddaughter;
  • joked about lynching, saying she would “be on the front row” if a constituent asked her to go to “a public hanging";
  • voted against Senate Bill 1114 proposed by Dianne Feinstein on May 11, 2017 which would have nullified President Trump’s Executive Order 13798, which directing the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor to consider issuing “conscience-based” protections for religious discrimination in a period of time of increasing violent attacks on the American Jewish community.

I know that necessarily Harris and Feinstein must attend Senate sessions. But particularly troubling is the 21st Century Republican woman segregation advocate pictured at the right standing next to Mississippi's state flag which enshrines the Confederate Battle Flag. Cindy Hyde-Smith won her election to the U.S. Senate with the strong support of the shouted bigotry of 21st Century Republican Donald Trump.

That she won in the same year that President George H.W. Bush died, a man whose family has been advocating for equality and human rights for over 150 years, is disheartening.

I am a native Californian, I'm old, and find myself in a struggle to reconcile history with today. It is almost enough to become an advocate for the California secession movement known as Calexit.