Thursday, March 28, 2019

Nationwide right-wing attacks on Gavin Newsom have begun as the new policy face of the Progressive Pacific takes necessary leadership and career risks.

It may or may not come as a surprise that conservatives have labeled California as "America's nation-state."

It appears to have been coined in May 2011 by Bill Whalen, the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism at the Hoover Institution (one of the California organizations within the Neoliberal Atlas Network along with the Ayn Rand Institute and the Pacific Research Institute).

Because Whalen systematically has begun to offer "analysis" on California Governor Gavin Newsom, analysis that appears in general media as well as "conservative" media, it is important to consider his approach before discussing his writings.

By this writer's standards, Whalen is not actually a journalist, but rather a columnist though in 21st Century America apparently discussing the news (columnist) has been successfully conflated with reporting the news (journalist). Not that Whalen's copious writing is full of misinformation, but rather it is structured to further the Neoliberal cause nationally. Whalen served as:
  • chief speechwriter and director of public affairs for former California Republican Governor Pete Wilson who campaigned successfully in 1994 to get Prop 187 against immigration approved by the voters;
  • a speechwriter for the Bush-Quayle reelection campaign;
  • a media consultant for former California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger;
  • a media consultant for former California Republican Congressman Tom Campbell; and
  • a media consultant for former Los Angeles Republican Mayor Richard J. Riordan.
And so January 7, 2019 Gavin Newsom became Governor of California. Four days later an opinion piece by Whalen Gov. Newsom could run for president. Is it a question of if or when? appeared in The Sacramento Bee and on the Hoover Institute website. It was the second of what appears to be pieces directed at creating an information base on Newsom as Governor to use to scare folks away from the Democrats nationally. The first was published just after the 2018 Primary in which Newsom handily came in first. Whalen wrote:

    Brown was described as the embodiment of the “new politics of austerity,” while his father and former governor represented “the politics of abundance.”
    As for Newsom, no Democrat who entered the general election as a frontrunner has been this overtly progressive, proposing to expand government programs for health care, housing and more.
    But does he represent a shift in where the Democratic Party stands, and would a Newsom governorship set him apart from the rest of a Democratic chorus that wants single-payer health care implemented and Trump impeached?

Recently in Newsom's Unwelcome Stirring of Democrats' 2020 Pot Whalen focuses on Newsom's March 13 executive order creating a formal moratorium on capital punishment. The piece appears in Real Clear Politics, a "conservative"website created by John McIntyre and Tom Bevan. In an interview McIntyre described the philosophy behind the Web site as based on "freedom" and "common-sense values". Said Bevan, "We think debate on the issues is a very important thing. We post a variety of opinions". He further stated, "we have a frustration all conservatives have", which is "the bias in media against conservatives, religious conservatives, [and] Christian conservatives".

Ending the death penalty is hardly radical. Ignoring the world, 20 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and D.C. have abolished the death penalty.

Including California, Governors in 4 states, the Attorney General in 1 state, and other officials in 1 state have established moratoriums. Courts in 2 states have suspended all executions. And since 1961 the U.S. military and 2003 federal civilian authorities, along with 3 other states, have de facto moratoriums.

But, since 2010 executions have occurred in the states as indicated in the table to the right. And "to the right" is an appropriate description for the states on the list other than Deleware and Virginia which are the only ones that Donald Trump did not win in 2016.

Here's another way to view it if you live in the Progressive Pacific world. Each state that has conducted one or more executions since 2010 has a hangman's noose image within its boundaries. Let's call it "hangman's country."

This should give a pretty good feel for why we can expect a political attack on Newsom from those who want Trump reelected. The death penalty issue will be used to imply that Democrats are soft on crime, even on murder. Attacks from "hangman's country" on Newsom will be "by implication" attacks on Democrats nationally.

Newsom simply represents Californians 62% of whom favor life imprisonment over the death penalty.

But Newsom isn't running for President and he has serious matters to deal with. Quite simply he has to lead the California Republic which if it were an independent country like New Zealand would rank as follows:

Most importantly now that the "socialists" in the East have killed the "Green New Deal" label, what we call here The California Green & Gold Deal will have to be defined and implemented by Newsom working with the California Legislature. (As explained in an earlier post the "Green New Deal" concept first was being explored publicly at the 2003 Bioneers environmental conference in Marin County, California, not in New York City or Boston, and slowly expanded upon in the decades thereafter.)

Perhaps the hardest thing to accept is that the California Republic must ignore politics in Washington except to defend the citizens of the California Republic against the cruel and/or stupid policies that U.S. officials try to implement. This happens because in no way is the United States a democracy, not even a representative democracy.

As explained in detail in a previous post, two out of the three U.S. Presidents of the 21st Century lost the popular vote but won in the Electoral College and, though California has 12% of the population, it has only 2% of the vote in the U.S. Senate.

Even in the U.S. House of Representatives, every state no matter how small must have one Representative. Thus Nancy Pelosi is the Representative of California's 12th district which has a population of 700,605. Liz Cheney is the Representative of Wyoming's single statewide district which has a population of 585,501. A person in California's 12th district has 16% less representation in the House than people who live in Wyoming.

Quite literally, legislation passed in the House can be killed or passed by a vote of 51 Senators who represent the least populous 26 states containing only 17.6% of the U.S. population and who were put into office by less than 8% of eligible American voters.

In that situation it does not matter that the remaining 49 Senators, representing 82.4% of the U.S. population and who were put into office by more than 92% of eligible American voters, disagree.

No wonder Wikipedia notes in its entry about "Oligarchy":

    The modern United States of America has also been described as an oligarchy, with its Republican Party representing a minority of the population but securing control of the Senate, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court, while the Democratic Party has control of the House. Migration to cities will likely see the Republican Party's hold over the Senate strengthen in subsequent elections, despite an expected demographic shift to a majority-minority population by 2045. And lifetime appointments of Supreme Court justices make that body's conservative majority a likelihood for at least eight years.

Californians find themselves in a country in which an oligarchy of 51 people representing the will of 8% of eligible voters control U.S. government policy. Further, as few as 34 of those 51 people can prevent any change in the design of the U.S. government (or 17 of the 50 states).

The example of Brexit serves to discourage a serious attempt to request that California be allowed to withdraw from the Union. At this time we can only hope that the officials in California's democracy under the leadership of Newsom can protect us from that oligarchy.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Climate Change Black Death surrounds us
From America's Midwest to Africa the water is deep while ocean waters are warming faster than thought - while the need to adapt become more obvious

In a series of posts here grouped under climate change black death surrounds us both news and context regarding Climate Change have been offered. We continue now with new reports from March.

In March we read Ruined crops, salty soil: How rising seas are poisoning North Carolina’s farmland and 'We Will Miss the Warm Winters.' Retirees Are Fleeing Florida as Climate Change Threatens Their Financial Future.

Then there was Ocean Heat Waves Are Threatening Marine Life and Deep diving robots find warming accelerating in South Pacific Ocean waters.

But more direct human pain is resulting from Severe Midwest flooding could last all spring while Cyclone Idai Destroys ‘Ninety Percent’ of a City of Half a Million in Southern Africa along with Harrowing scenes after Cyclone Idai with inland ocean visible from outer space. These two disasters are significantly disrupting lives of thousands of people, many of whom will migrate elsewhere altering communities elsewhere.

This is the reality of climate change. We need to mention two articles in the April 1 edition of The New Yorker, one representing new reporting by Elizabeth Kolbert on Lousiana's sinking lands and the other a review of a new book providing some context “Nature’s Mutiny: How the Little Ice Age of the Long Seventeenth Century Transformed the West and Shaped the Present” by German-born, Vienna-based historian Philipp Blom who discusses the complex relationship between the social, economic, and intellectual disruption caused by the changed climate in the period from 1570 to 1710 known as the Little Ice Age. Both articles are worth reading and perhaps the book would give solid perspective on the future.

Kolbert's extensive reporting has been explored in this blog. But the following from the post In California we are overcoming words that blind and bind by discussing biosphere science needs to be repeated:

In her recent update to Field Notes she told us all (emphasis added):
In the years since I wrote this book I’ve been asked hundreds of variations on the question: “What should I do?” What people seem to be looking for is both advice on concrete actions they can take and the assurance that what they do will make a difference. Given the paralysis of the political system, the time lag built into the climate system, and the high likelihood that the threshold of DAI [dangerous anthropogenic interference] has now been crossed, it’s difficult to offer such assurances. We have already changed the world dramatically, indeed quite probably catastrophically. But even when it comes to catastrophe, distinctions can be made. What we choose to do—or not to do—in the coming decades will determine the future both for our own kind and for the millions of other species with whom we share this planet. It is possible that we could still limit warming to around two degrees Celsius, and it is also possible that we could lock in warming of six degrees Celsius or more. These two possibilities represent radically different worlds.
For clarity, "dangerous anthropogenic interference" means that within a period of less than a 100 years we humans screwed up the self-regulating mechanisms of the biosphere to an irremediable level.

Perhaps it is because she has hung around scientists too long, but in this case Kolbert, who is a master wordsmith and whose two books are the best reporting available on the subjects of regional climate change impacts, still used probability wording - "the high likelihood that the threshold of DAI has now been crossed." A more accurate way of saying it is "the threshold of DAI was crossed sometime early in this Millennium." To put it in perspective, looking back from the year 2116 folks will be correct when they say that on one date in the 20 years between 1995 and 2015 the threshold of DAI was crossed.

And that's what most too many Americans still don't get - by 2066 the number of natural disasters - massive hurricanes, flooding, drought-caused water shortages, and wildfires - will have reached significantly disruptive proportions for many. "Significantly disruptive" in many cases will mean catastrophic locally in some areas by 1950's standards.

Kolbert's new article is excellent reporting on what's happening along the Louisiana coastline. But the book reviewed provides a feeling for what happens to human civilization when the climate changes as significantly as it did in the period 1570-1710 - though perhaps not as radically as it likely will in the period of 1970-2110.

Back then, as now, the effects were world world-wide. Europe saw the collapse of the Middle Ages. In China, already the most populous country in the world, such events such as erratic harvests caused the Ming dynasty to collapse in 1644.

And back then the temperature change was a 2ºC decrease. This time it will be a 4ºC± increase. Let us quote from that same prior post:

Under the direction of the Trump Administration the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with the cooperation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Year 2021–2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks proposing reduced average fuel economy standards for those vehicles.

The DEIS has determined that the draft official policy of the United States government will be acceptance of a near worst case scenario, a 4.387°C (7.876°F) global temperature rise since 1880 by 2100. That is because any lesser scenario would require deep cuts in carbon emissions to avoid this drastic warming. A lesser scenario “would require substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption compared to today’s levels...which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible.”

Take it from someone who has prepared similar such documents - that DEIS is a thorough document.

One might wish to claim that if the Trump Administration would just get on board, things might be different. But in China, home to the world's second largest (and sooner or later, largest) economy, the same conclusion was reached.

In May a collaborative research team from China published a new analysis that shows the Earth's climate would increase by 4 °C, compared to pre-industrial levels, most likely by 2084. They found that most of the models projected an increase of 4°C as early as 2064 and as late as 2095, with 2084 appearing as the median year.

"Our ultimate goal is to provide a comprehensive picture of the mean and extreme climate changes associated with higher levels of global warming based on state-of-the art climate models, which is of high interest to the decision-makers and the public," said Dabang Jiang, a senior researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Perhaps some would want to dismiss both government agencies as being too pessimistic. The problem is in 1995, now 23 years ago,  then Vice-President Gore reflected on his experienced reality in a 1995 New York Times article:
"We are in an unusual predicament as a global civilization," Al Gore said when I interviewed him early in his Vice Presidency. "The maximum that is politically feasible, even the maximum that is politically imaginable right now, still falls short of the minimum that is scientifically and ecologically necessary."

For the generations after the Baby Boomers, there is no other issue of political importance. This is difficult for many to accept because of what will appear to be slowly evolving social and economic impacts that will create disruption even more significant than what happened between 1570 and 1710. (Note: That was before there was a United States of America...or maybe that is why there is a United States of America.

One cannot discuss the Climate Change period of 1970-2110 without saying it "will appear to be slowly evolving social and economic impacts." The impacts will occur over a much longer period than the 3 minute attention span of the average person and the two day attention span of investment analysts, will require comprehending many thousands more words than found in a tweet, and really will not at all vw as cool as the new Apple stuff.

If you think otherwise, remember that then Congressman Al Gore held hearings on Climate Change in the mid-1970's.

Finally, one has to note, as we have  before, that scientists are often forced to create the basis for Climate Change denial by simply reporting observations. We see it again this month.

In early March we learned that Climate change: Rain melting Greenland ice sheet 'even in winter' which explained how the Greenland ice is melting faster than expected.

But at the end of the month we get this headlines The world's fastest-melting glacier is growing again. But it's temporary, NASA says. which allowed Sean Hannity to post BRAIN FREEZE: Melting Greenland Glacier Now ‘Growing Again,’ Climate Scientists ‘Surprised’ implying that the climate science community doen't know what they are doing.

As summarized in a subtitle for a National Geographic story on the matter A pulse of cooler water at its edge let part of the glacier gain some mass. But overall, the melting across Greenland continues apace.

That's how the generations after the Baby Boomers will be denied by corporate interests the necessary action to reduce the impact of Climate Change. And while some are making plans to adapt, most are fuming about the silly, distracting politics surrounding the Trump Administration which it appears the Trump people will win because they are better at "common man" politics. The climate clock is ticking folks.

The 21st Century Climate Change Black Death is happening now.
                                                                                                          If you're new to this blog here's the link to the listing of the 30+ previous posts in the Blog regarding Climate Change and the Environment.

This post is a part of a series:  climate change black death surrounds us 

Monday, March 18, 2019

American Nationalism and White Nationalism are one and the same. George Washington knew it. Study American history to understand our future!

It was in the United States during the first 150 years of "America" that the idea of "White Nationalism" was deliberately considered, carefully tweaked, and fully embraced.

The ideas were first described by Americans in the late 18th Century and memorialized by George Washington in his Farewell Address.

They were then continued as an American myth after the Civil War, most notably in the context of coining the term "Melting Pot" which was never intended to include more than the white European milieu.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, science was embraced in the discussion by an American lawyer, writer, and zoologist Madison Grant known primarily for his work as a conservationist and co-founder of the Save the Redwoods League. Grant was a close friend of U.S. presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, part of the 20th Century American pro-environmental aristocracy progressive wing not some crazy outlier.

You probably don't know about Grant when he gained infamy partly because Adolf Hitler embraced his book published in 1916 The Passing of the Great Race: Or, The Racial Basis of European History (link is to a 16.5MB PDF copy of the book), considered one of the main works in the 20th Century science of eugenics.

Today too many assume eugenics cannot be a "science" because of the 20th Century controversies. As noted in Wikipedia, a resurgence of interest in the subject has arisen because of the advances in human genetic engineering and the view that prenatal screening is a form of contemporary eugenics because it may lead to abortions of children with undesirable traits.

We will return to Grant after exploring the historical basis of the idea that American Nationalism is White Nationalism.

As explained in Part III of an extensive post here titled An American 21st Century Kaleidoscope versus a Civil War?  Saving the Union is a struggle against pots, bowls, and mosaics, between individuality, identity, and  assimilation, amid unprecedented wealth disparity the core of "White Nationalism" began to be inculcated into the culture of the United States at the time of its founding as a slaveholder country and was continued after the Civil War with the "melting pot" idea which is very different from what most Americans understand today:

Beyond government, people need an identity that stimulates a sense of belonging and loyalty. In 18th Century in the 13 Colonies many who were feeling separate from Europe worried about that. But some saw a solution evolving.

A migrant to the New World from France, J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, in his Letters from an American Farmer (1782), wrote:

    ...Whence came all these people? They are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes....
    What, then, is the American, this new man? He is either an European or the descendant of an European; hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country. I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations. He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds....
    The Americans were once scattered all over Europe; here they are incorporated into one of the finest systems of population which has ever appeared.

His "finest systems of population" was that described by George Washington in his Farewell Address:

    With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles.

But Crevecoeur's "people" who, according to Washington had "with slight shades of difference...the same religion, manners, habits and political principles" at no time were all the persons living with the States....

In the January 1, 1875, edition of the magazine The Galaxy, the term "melting pot" first appeared in print in an article "A New Country" by Titus Munson Coan.... To give a sense of his thoughts when he wrote "A New Country", ...the paragraph containing the term "melting pot" are offered below:

    People say that the American character is unformed; and it is a fashion with some to say that there is no American character as yet. I do not think so; the national type seems to me quite as definite as most others. Like any other, the American character is of course undergoing constant change and development, for growth has no fixed limits in its processes, and we speak roughly when we speak of its stages. But our character seems to me to have gained its features. No nation of equal size was ever developed so rapidly. The fusing process goes on as in a blast-furnace; one generation, a single year even, transforms the English, the German, the Irish emigrant into an American. Uniform institutions, ideas, language, the influence of the majority, bring us soon to a similar complexion; the individuality of the immigrant, almost even his traits of race and religion, fuse down in the democratic alembic like chips of brass thrown into the melting pot. The resulting character seems to me a definite alloy; and its homogeneity is a guaranty that the nation is to remain one as long as the Federal Government shall retain the least efficiency. It is hard to see what cause of civil war should arise among a people so homogeneous in language, customs, and ideas as ourselves. We are one as no other great nation of Christendom is; and it seems unlikely that domestic quarrels, as about tariffs, or in this late age any discussion between Catholic and Protestant, should become bitter enough to bring about any secession wars. Predictions are dangerous, but what is there for us to quarrel about, unless a dictator should try to make himself our king some day?

So, the guy who first offered up "melting pot" was impressed that it "transforms the English, the German, the Irish emigrant into an American" who as "Catholic and Protestant" won't fight because "the individuality of the immigrant" is fused "down in the democratic alembic like chips of brass thrown into the melting pot."

This brings us back to Madison Grant and his book. America has a continuous history of discrimination against immigrants including various discriminatory immigration laws which have been reviewed in posts here. Grant provided statistics for the Immigration Act of 1924 to set the quotas on immigrants from certain European countries and assisted in the passing and prosecution of several anti-miscegenation laws, notably the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 in the state of Virginia. His thinking was included in  F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Ernest Hemingway's The Torrents of Spring; A Romantic Novel in Honor of the Passing of a Great Race.

Grant's thinking may sound contemporary to many Americans as they watch their 24-hour news channel. Grant argued that the members of contemporary American Protestant society who could trace their ancestry back to Colonial times were being out-bred by immigrant stocks and that the new immigrants were creating separate societies within America including ethnic lobby groups, criminal syndicates, and political machines which were undermining the socio-political structure of the country.

A majority of  Americans today do not strongly support or oppose immigration. Rasmussen pollsters regularly ask like voters if they think illegal immigrants are a significant strain on the U.S. budget and the answers are regularly about 50% yes and 50% no. On the other hand, opinions about legal immigration policies are all over the place as can be seen in this NPR story. However, the Gallop Poll mentioned in the story is taken every six months and shows a consistent 40% for keeping current immigration levels, while 30% want them increased and 30% want them decreased.

Obviously, Grant would be horrified by the multiculturalists of today. If you didn't know he died in 1937, you might think he wrote the cover story in The Atlantic.

Ironically, it is written by David Frum, a Canadian-American who took the US citizenship oath on 11 September 2007. Frum is a former fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, a neo-conservative think tank, and currently a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a pro-Isreal conservative lobbying group. Frum served as special assistant for economic speechwriting to President George W. Bush from January 2001 to February 2002.

Two paragraphs buried deeply in Frum's story offer the key questions about immigration policy:

    The question before the United States and other advanced countries is not: Immigration, yes or no? In a mobile world, there will inevitably be quite a lot of movement of people. Immigration is not all or nothing. The questions to ask are: How much? What kind?
    Too little immigration, and you freeze your country out of the modern world. Too much, or the wrong kind, and you overstress your social-insurance system—and possibly upend your democracy. Choose well, and you build a stronger, richer country for both newcomers and the long-settled. Choose badly, and you aggravate inequality and inflame intergroup hostility. How we choose will shape the future that will in its turn shape us.

Frum discusses in detail a variety of related economic and social issues which makes his story well worth reading. Interestingly, he offers one key statement: "If liberals insist that only fascists will enforce borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals refuse to do."

In discussing population and birth-rate data, he also notes that half of surveyed white working class Americans in 2016 felt “Things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country.”

Which brings us back to the title theme of this post - American Nationalism and White Nationalism are one in the same. Simply, 76.6% of Americans are white.  Yes, 15.9% white hispanics so maybe we could say potentially only 60.7% are culturally European...except, people from Spain are European.

You see, it's complicated. Is American supposed to be a melting pot turning everyone into an American Nationalist? Are American Nationalists still at least culturally White Nationalists as understood by George Washington or Madison Grant?

Or in the end is the United States not even a nation? Or as argued in that previous long post are we not "A More Perfect Union, Not Country, Nation, Or State" that has no need for any nationalism? And if that is the case, how do we get rid of our historical White Nationalism without another Civil War in our More Perfect Union?

Even in a room full of Democrats who all claim to be "progressive" it is complicated as noted in The meeting was supposed to ease tensions between Muslim and Jewish Democrats. It ended with tears. And this did not even involved our the Catholic majority of our Supreme Court and Protestant Senate Republicans.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The National Democratic Committee just embraced Milwaukee, the most Socialist large city in the U.S. Party centrists have failed the cat herding test.

The one thing that Donald Trump understands is that you can't achieve your goals except by winning. The Trump campaign race is designed like dog racing, having the pack of supporters chase a fake policy rabbit while enduring treatment that endangers their well-being, all in front of non-sprinting fans of Republican policy positions who warily go to the betting window with their money. The Republican Trump reelection is off to a smartly focused start. As noted here previously (see the end of this post), the Washington Post article on that campaign explains that...
  • "Trump spoke to a mostly Hispanic crowd when he visited Miami last month to call for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to resign",
  • "Trump’s campaign began running Spanish-language ads on Facebook last
    week, primarily targeting Florida voters, that amplified his message about Maduro and socialism",
  • "the campaign and Republican allies have pointed to recent Democratic proposals for expanding Medicare and investing in green energy projects as a chance to frame the 2020 race as a referendum on what they view as socialist policies",
  • "The president’s strategy...relies on a...relatively narrow path for victory, hinged on demonizing Trump’s eventual opponent and juicing turnout among his most avid supporters in Florida, Pennsylvania and the Upper Midwest — the same areas that won him the White House",
...which means that the Democrats have to be equally focused on winning, not on policy.

The Democratic milieu being who they are have made it difficult to focus on winning. The "herding cats" analogy in the other Washington Post article isn't even new to describing their behavior.

Since winning the House of Representatives - literally the only Democratic success when measuring their wins nationally - obsessed Democrats have insulted Jews and advocated for socialism making it much more difficult to win Florida. As noted here previously, appealing to the thinking of the majority of voting Californians and New Yorkers is the best way for Democrats to elect Trump.

The irony of the cartoon to the left is that it reflects the political trap of health care reform policy discussion which forced Obama to herd the same Demo-cats over a decade ago. Because health care policy details are now primary campaign issues associated with bills being introduced by naive newcomers in the House, the Demo-cats are providing divisive fodder for the Trump campaign even though it is all a total waste of time because Democrats have literally no chance of getting anything through the Senate.

And so today the Democratic National Committee announced it selected Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for the 2020 National Convention.

In Milwaukee County in 2016 Hillary Clinton won 65.48% of the vote to Trump's 28.58%, but of course as the New York Times article explains: "Wisconsin holds a searing place in the Democratic Party psyche after Hillary Clinton, the party’s last presidential nominee, opted not to campaign in the traditionally blue state during the general election — a decision that some blamed for her 22,000-vote defeat in the state."

I suppose many reasons exist to have picked Milwaukee. As Wikipedia notes: "In 2015 Milwaukee was rated as the 'worst city for black Americans' based on disparities in employment and income levels. The city's black population experiences disproportionately high levels of incarceration and a severe educational achievement gap."

But as this American political history junkie knew immediately, one reason to have not picked Milwaukee was this instant we-could-hardly-wait-for-the-announcement comment to the news media:

    "No city in America has stronger ties to socialism than Milwaukee,” Republican Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Mark Jefferson said. “And with the rise of Bernie Sanders and the embrace of socialism by its newest leaders, the American left has come full circle. It’s only fitting the Democrats would come to Milwaukee.”

In 1910, voters chose socialist majorities on Milwaukee’s common council and county board and elected Victor Berger to Congress. Victor Berger of Milwaukee, one of the two Socialist members of Congress during the first two decades of the 20th Century. Berger was a founding member of the Social Democratic Party of America and its successor, the Socialist Party of America. Milwaukee was the center of the "sewer socialism" movement, being the first and the only major city to elect a socialist mayor, which it did four times between 1910 and 1956.

From 1923 until 1928, Berger introduced bills in the House proposing "dangerous ideas" like unemployment insurance, a safety net for the elderly, and public housing.  Nonetheless, the National Democratic Party has handed the Trump campaign and the Republican Party the ability to use the "socialism v free enterprise" attack with impunity.

As noted here previously, historical statistics indicate that to beat Trump the Democratic candidate will have to win in Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, and Florida. The Republican Convention will be in North Carolina, so it may be out of reach but might not matter. Once thing is certain. Winning Wisconsin isn't going to indicate that the Democratic candidate will appeal to voters in enough states.

Of course it is still way too early to predict anything about the 2020 election. It just seems like the Democrats (Demo-cats?) ought to avoid some of the bigger potholes on their trip to regaining the White House.


2020 Election Series

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The 48 states that will matter in 2020 don't include California and New York, homes to Pelosi and AOC

On occasion, it is important for Democrats to reflect on just how precarious their situation has become.

If you are concerned about the 2020 election - concerned about who will be President in 2021 and which party will control the U.S. Senate - consider this map:

What you should note is that California and New York - including the congressional districts of Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - are missing from this map.

First, neither state will be holding an election for U.S. Senate as in each neither of the two Senate 6-year terms expires in 2020.

Second, the 55 California and 29 New York Electoral College votes in 2020 will go to the Democratic Presidential candidate. Quite literally those 84 (15.6%) of the 538 members of the 2020 Electoral College are not available to Donald Trump.

All of the remaining 454 are because he'll be running against all Democrats and most media outlets.

What the map shows is that of the 48 states included there are 30 states with Republican-controlled legislatures, 16 states (just rd) with Democratic-controlled legislatures, and 2 states with split legislatures. That accurately reflects the party preference of the majority of voters in those states.

Let's get even more real about it. The headquarters for most U.S. non-print media sources - news, entertainment, etc. - are located in California and New York. People in the 48 states tend to resent that.

So to summarize, what won't matter in the 2020 election is the opinions of people in Nancy Pelosi's and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's states, where the media is centered. To put that into perspective, without California and New York, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by about 3.4 million votes. Guess which two states have a sizeable population out of touch with the rest of America.

If you follow national political polls, you might notice that you cannot get poll results that exclude California and New York. Until the polls exclude those two states, they offer no clue for the 2020 Presidential Election.

If the only voters you interact with dislike Trump, you have no clue how to communicate with that majority outside California and New York that voted for him in 2016 and may be persuaded to vote for him in 2020. That's why it is important to read the article at the top of this post if beating Trump and the Republicans in 2020 is the primary goal for Democrats. If....

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

So many Democrats! What's a true Progressive Platform and who among them is running on one?

Those of us in the Progressive Pacific are looking for a true Progressive among the Democratic candidates for President. Perhaps it could be U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Most certainly the Progressive Pacific focus is on U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Washington Governor Jay Inslee. But a good Progressive candidate understands the economic policy issue most appropriate for the federal government to handle - you know, the issue related to the Commerce Clause, the antitrust issue. It is the "bread and butter" issue for traditional Progressives. As explained in our Progressive Pacific Message website:

In 21st Century America Progressives find themselves lost in a sea of words which opponents use to confuse, hide, or sublimate their message.

Progressives know that at the beginning of the 20th Century their message was accurately expressed by Teddy Roosevelt seeking to counter the impact of the Industrial Age on the American economy.

Progressives do not share a "liberal" or "democratic socialist" focus on using taxpayer money to design and  create a "better society." Progressives oppose the Neoliberal ideology of the state Republican Party organizations and of the Third Way of the National Democratic Party which embraces that Neoliberal corporatist economic ideology.

Klobuchar has been attempting to get the issue into the mainstream of the 21st Century American political conversation. As explained in a New York Times piece:

    Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota senator and presidential candidate, was talking to me yesterday about her efforts to get the media to pay more attention to antitrust issues.
    “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to do interviews on TV,” she said, laughing. “Last night, I got on ‘Hardball,’ finally,” she continued. It was a segment timed to a Senate hearing held this week on antitrust issues. Even so, she said, “They would not ask it just as an antitrust question even though the hearing was today. They asked it as pharma” — that is, about high drug prices.
    Antitrust, Klobuchar said, “just feels weird” to much of the media. It feels technical and wonky.
    But here’s the thing: Antitrust issues — mergers, corporate concentration and the like — have huge effects on Americans’ lives. And those effects are neither technical nor wonky.
    Companies have grown so large and powerful that they have outsize power over workers, consumers and politics. Corporate consolidation is indeed driving drug prices higher. It’s creating data-privacy issues. It’s helping to hold down workers’ wages (as this Obama administration report explained). In one area after another, Klobuchar said, “People are starting to figure out that they don’t have a lot of control.”

Of course, even Donald Trump isn't happy about media company mergers - the companies that control the news. But that's because he isn't respected by those companies.

Klobuchar has a broader view as explained in the Washington Post article Sen. Amy Klobuchar: ‘We have a major monopoly problem’:

    If there’s a common theme uniting Democratic candidates for president, it’s the argument that the United States faces a rising inequality problem, one exacerbated by the concentration of power and money in the hands of a small elite.
    That line of thinking has been the source of high-profile policy ideas such as a tax on wealth or Medicare-for-all. But it’s also given momentum to a wider debate about corporate consolidation and whether the rules designed to keep the free market fair are working for everyday Americans.
    Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is among those calling for tougher competition rules. In an interview Tuesday, Klobuchar, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, argued that public anger over high prescription drug prices, privacy violations by tech companies and a string of megamergers shows how U.S. laws need to change.
    "We have a major monopoly problem. We’ve seen a 50 percent increase in mergers in the last five years, and we’ve seen now a number of trillion-dollar companies. It doesn’t mean every big company is bad; it just means we’re seeing more and more consolidation of power. The problem is, our antitrust laws haven’t attacked changes in the kinds of businesses we have.
    "First is tech. We haven’t been able to move privacy legislation for years. The second area is pharma, where literally they have three lobbyists for every member of Congress. You’re starting to see common drugs like insulin that have been around for a century, where you’ve seen prices triple or quadruple. The answer here is to pass new legislation that — when it comes to things like pharma — address 'pay for delay.'
    "And then also do something about the antitrust laws. I have two bills: One is to increase the fees on companies that are in megamergers, so that we can better fund the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department. The second piece of it is to do something about the [legal] standard.
    "I would like to see investigations which are going on right now at the FTC of the different aspects of these monopoly companies. That’s what I’m pushing for right now, and then you look at the facts and you make a decision then. But I would love to get more competition in. And it’s going to be very hard to do that before we get major investigations and we start changing the law."

Klobuchar probably will face significant difficulties because of her focus on antitrust. Major corporations will fund opposition. And the idea of a "bread and butter" issue faces an uphill battle among those on the left who detest folks who eat bread and butter. They want a tax on wealth which has never resolved the consolidation-of-wealth problem. They think Medicare-for-All will somehow make the United States more egalitarian. That's just silly.

Unfortunately, Klobuchar already has taken a hit for a workplace anger management problem which could cost her the snowflake vote.

Here in the Progressive Pacific support for Harris and Inslee, both of whom have extensive experience in executive roles in state government, comes rather easily.

The clocks now indicate...

...just 608 days until the Presidential Election  and only 334 days to the Iowa Caucus. As noted previously, this is plenty of time to make serious misstatements and misjudge what will be the major problem facing the nation within the last six months (180 days) before the election.

The numbers are in! Raising the excise tax (tariffs) paid by Americans on imports resulted in record high trade deficits with China, Mexico, and the EU.

As expected by anyone who didn't flunk Econ 101, Trump's "trade war" cost American consumers and businesses $4.4 billion a month in 2018 as a result of the excise taxes known as "tariffs."

And if it is a war, we're losing as the trade deficit reached record highs last year with China ($419.2bn), Mexico ($81.5bn) and the European Union ($169.3bn) as December’s trade imbalance worsened because US imports rose 2.1%, while exports to other countries fell 1.9%.

This isn't a surprise as explained last year in the post here Tariffs: Trump's excise tax to be collected soon from his deplorably unknowing fans: "A tariff is a tax on what you buy, not a war against China, Mexico, Canada, and the European Union. The use of the word tariff is a good way to hide a tax."

In a paper prepared by economists Mary Amiti of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Stephen J. Redding of Princeton University, and David Weinstein of Columbia University and published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research we learn:

    ...Import tariffs were costing U.S. consumers and the firms that import foreign goods an additional $3 billion per month in added tax costs and another $1.4 billion dollars per month in deadweight welfare (efficiency) losses [a reduction in U.S. real income]. Tariffs have also changed the pricing behavior of U.S. producers by protecting them from foreign competition and enabling them to raise prices and markups.

This is an early "Discussion Paper" as economic data for 2018 will be refined over the coming months and other economic factors in addition to the tariffs will have to be refined. But as we noted here in the post No, it is a "tax" not a "war":  How supposed anti-tax Trumpists confuse the ignorant by calling it "a trade war with China" "it is unclear where to even start to calculate how much of his personal income tax cut will be recovered from consumers through increased tariffs"

The tariff impact on home appliances is fairly accurately measured. The most recent Conference Board survey of consumer intentions reported that the intent to purchase a major home appliance is at a four year low. The problem is, of course, prices as can be seen from this chart in the study:

In fact, the people most damaged by tariffs on appliances are American consumers who have been unable to acquire new ones or paid substantially more for them because of tariffs. Consider washing machines which were an "example" used by the Trump Administration to explain that they would reduce imports supposedly thereby benefiting American companies as explained by Forbes:

    The available data on the global tariffs Trump levied on washing machines makes two compelling points. Imports will fall. Americans will pay the price.
    In the three months after the United States imposed tariffs on washing machines to protect Whirlpool and other U.S. manufacturers, a decision at cross-currents and exacerbated by tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, prices for washing machines increased more rapidly than any three-month period in the 40 years data has been collected and those prices increased more than twice as fast as any of 300 other categories in the last two of those three months.
    In the three months after the United States imposed tariffs on washing machines to protect Whirlpool and other U.S. manufacturers, a decision at cross-currents and exacerbated by tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, prices for washing machines increased more rapidly than any three-month period in the 40 years data has been collected and those prices increased more than twice as fast as any of 300 other categories in the last two of those three months.

In an article in the New York Times we learn more:

    ...A five-year stretch that started in 2013 was a pretty great time to buy a washing machine.
    Inflation for home laundry equipment, as measured by the Labor Department, fell steadily during that time, which meant you could buy the same washer your neighbor bought last year for less money. Or you could buy a better one at the same price.
    That stretch of laundry deflation ended last year, shortly after President Trump imposed tariffs, starting at 20 percent, on imported washers. The move was a response to a complaint filed by Whirlpool, a Michigan-based manufacturer.
    The company has long dominated the washing machine business — many Americans have had Whirlpools in their laundry rooms for decades — but has recently faced stiffer competition from foreign manufacturers. Whirlpool claimed that foreign competitors like LG and Samsung were flooding the appliance market with washing machines from South Korea and Mexico at prices so low that they were hurting American makers.
    As an effort to help domestic producers, the tariffs worked — very briefly. Whirlpool added 200 jobs at its factory in Clyde, Ohio. Its stock price jumped $20 per share in the first few days after the tariffs took effect.
    Then things went bad.
    A basic rule of economics is that when the price of something goes up, people buy less of it. That’s just what happened to washing machines.
    Data from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers shows that shipments of washing machines increased by an average of 5 percent a year from 2015 to 2017. Last year, shipments fell 3 percent.
    Retailers saw that reaction in real time. “We have seen, as you mentioned, tariffs’ impact in laundry,” Craig Menear, the chairman and chief executive of the Home Depot, told analysts on an earnings call in November.
    Washing machines make up a small slice of Home Depot’s business. They’re more important for Whirlpool, Samsung and other manufacturers — and the stocks of those businesses have been hammered this year. Laundry appliances made up nearly 30 percent of Whirlpool’s sales in 2017. The company’s shares gave up their initial gains after the tariffs were announced, and then fell some more.
    Through the third quarter, Whirlpool’s unit sales were down 2.5 percent in North America, compared with the same period in its previous fiscal year. The company’s executives said in an October earnings call that they expected to be hit by an additional $300 million in cost increases, largely driven by the steel tariff, in the year to come.

And so as we explained in a previous post, according to Wikipedia, tariffs "were the greatest (approaching 95% at times) source of federal revenue until the Federal income tax began after 1913." That simply cannot be true today. Trump's income tax cut led to a loss of $83 billion while his tariff taxes on Americans have only generated a percentage of that.

While I'm sure some billionaires who got the bulk of the tax cuts have purchased appliances thereby incurring the excise tax known as a tariff. But my guess is that most washing machines purchased in the past year were purchased by folks who didn't get much of a income tax cut. At best those folks could have broken even on that. But they also are paying tariffs on day-to-day items imported such as clothing. They lost out from day 1.

And, of course, today we learned: "President Trump has decided to strip India of a special status that exempts billions of dollars worth of Indian exports from American tariffs, raising new trade tensions with the world’s second most populous country." So we're taking on the worlds two most populous countries - China and Indian - which combined have 35.6% of the total population of the world.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Trump proposal for a government nationwide 5G network internet utility serving everyone is back!

It's a funny thing about socialism. It crops up in the middle of policy proposals from those with fascist learnings.

It might come as a shock to many, but the real Trump people are advocating government intervention in creating a government utility system to allow for sharing the 5G airwaves on a wholesale basis with wireless providers.

Politico tells us "President Donald Trump's reelection team is backing a controversial plan to give the government a role in managing America's next-generation 5G wireless networks — bucking the free market consensus view of his own administration and sparking wireless industry fears of nationalization."

The proposal is supported by Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale and adviser Newt Gingrich. In fact Gingrich wrote an opinion piece for Newsweek If China Dominates 5G, It Will Control the Future in which he noted:

    China and the West are locked in a struggle for control of the future of communications technology, the next generation internet, and the flow of information.
    The next two weeks may well prove decisive in deciding who wins the future. The Chinese know it and are acting with speed, decisiveness, and commitment. The American government and American companies are far behind and just starting to play catch up.
    By contrast, the Chinese are moving with the urgency and sense of purpose needed to prevail.

In two previous posts 5G Technology: it may start a world war, it won't be available to all, you don't need it, it is important to corporate interests and government. Why is that? and The U.S. "China threat" disinformation industry. It's ramping up agitation for a war with China in East Asia which America cannot possibly win! the basics of 5G issue and "what really has American undies in a bunch" are explained.

Finally Business Insider, a significant member of the media, offered an extensive article on the 5G issue Here's why the US is terrified of one Chinese company controlling the world's 5G networks which observes:

    Rotating chairman Guo Ping took to the stage on Tuesday morning to talk up Huawei's 5G business to a cavernous auditorium filled with telecoms executives and journalists.
    His speech took an unexpected turn about halfway through, when he fired a shot at the US government, turning claims that Huawei spies on behalf of China back on America.
    "PRISM, PRISM on the wall, who is the most trustworthy of them all?" Guo said onstage, in reference to the PRISM surveillance system used by America's intelligence agency. "Huawei has a strong track record in security in three decades. Three billion people around the world. The US security accusations of our 5G has no evidence, nothing."
    Behind him, a slide appeared in his presentation with the statement: "Huawei has not and will never plant backdoors." There was even some muted laughter from the audience.
    Security experts with ties to the US government said America's lobbying efforts are about more than just protecting the West's nascent 5G networks from potential Chinese spies.
    Joseph Campbell, a director in the global investigations and compliance practice at Navigant Consulting and formerly assistant director of criminal investigations at the FBI, says the Huawei fight is a proxy for bigger US fears about China's ambition.
    "Whoever gets to dominate 5G infrastructure will become the owner of the next generation of the world's telecoms infrastructure," [Ang Cui, CEO of security firm Red Balloon,] said. "If you look back 30 years, [the US Defense Department] funded... what became the internet. US companies provided a lot of the technology and infrastructure."
    "Whoever gets to dominate 5G infrastructure will become the owner of the next generation of the world's telecoms infrastructure," he said. "If you look back 30 years, [the US Defense Department] funded... what became the internet. US companies provided a lot of the technology and infrastructure."
    Cui added: "The internet turned out not to be perfect, but the world doesn't suspect that the US runs a pervasive surveillance mechanism."
    Still, Huawei did play on fears that the US does carry out wide-ranging surveillance with its reference to the PRISM system, and the newly introduced Cloud Act, which would force Amazon, Microsoft, and other tech providers to hand over data.
    Campbell, the former FBI staffer, said it came down to differences in the legal approach by the two countries.
    Actually obtaining data under a law like the Cloud Act, he said, involves many layers of authorisation and back-and-forth between the FBI, the Attorney General, and a further judicial process.

The problem for the U.S. is that it isn't the country it once was. In the 19th and 20th Centuries - prior to the dominance of Ronald Reagan and his fellow Neoliberals - the railroads, the telegraph, the highways, radio, telephone, electricity, space exploration, and the internet initially were all controlled, facilitated and actively supported by the government.

We don't know what the Trump campaign folks level of commitment to government intervention really is. One obvious thing is that the private sector doesn't seem to recognize the public utility status of the internet and doesn't give a crap about the idea of universal service.

Since the grossly internet-underserved folks in rural America tend to vote for Trump because he at least suggests he might provide something they need, this might just be another meaningless campaign tactic. According to The Verge: "The campaign says that the plan is designed to 'drive down costs and provide access' to rural, 'underserved' parts of the country with faster internet access, according to the campaign’s national press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany."

As noted in the Politico article:

    The issue of government's potential role in 5G — which promises super-fast internet speeds seen as critical to U.S. economic and technology development — has already proven to be an explosive one.
    At the beginning of 2018, a leaked memo from the National Security Council, which envisioned the Trump administration building a nationwide 5G network to compete with China, faced immediate rejection from the wireless industry, every FCC commissioner and lawmakers of both parties, who were alarmed at the prospect of a heavy government hand in the sector.
    The White House at the time never explicitly ruled out the nationalization concept, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying "there are a lot of things on the table." But administration officials still scrambled to reassure the powerful wireless sector, holding a conference on 5G later in the year where [White House economic adviser Larry] Kudlow said "the White House is officially behind this free-enterprise, free-market approach."

This whole subject of the U.S. 5G rollout is fraught with technological complications as discussed in a previous post.  In an article The biggest 5G breakthrough may be this harmless, little plastic strip the problem to be overcome is described "Another of its big issues is an inability to get through walls -- even a leaf could theoretically disrupt the service. " The described "breakthrough" by Ericsson, the Swedish supplier of telecom equipment, sounds awfully similar to running wires around your house for an high speed Ethernet system. But I'm sure I'm wrong about that.

The most difficult part of this whole discussion is that this writer happens to think the government should build, or at least fund and tightly regulate, a 5G system that provides service to 97%+ of American homes and businesses. But then we all have socialist leanings, don't we Mr. President.