Friday, October 31, 2014

Cruising the Web

The Washington Post predicts that the election could tip a historic number of state legislatures to the Republicans. I well remember the gains that the GOP made at the state level in 2010 and thinking how that would help them for the decade because they would be in charge of redistricting after the 2010 Census. Any solidifying that they can do of those gains before 2020 would help set them up for the next decade. However, they have to worry about ticking off voters once they have control of state legislatures. They could just gain power in 2015 right in time to lose it in 2020 by trying to go too far, too fast and then facing the barrage of misleading ads about making cuts in education in favor of tax breaks for the rich such as Thom Tillis has faced in North Carolina.

Stu Rothenberg notes the history that Barack Obama could well be on the way to facing.
President Barack Obama is about to do what no president has done in the past 50 years: Have two horrible, terrible, awful midterm elections in a row.

Charles Krauthammer argues that this election is not about nothing, but is one about the economy, competence and people's sense of our nation's helplessness and confusion abroad.
Moreover, U.S. flailing is not just demoralizing at home. It is energizing the very worst people abroad. Being perceived as what Osama bin Laden called the “strong horse” is, for a messianic movement on the march, the ultimate recruiting tool.

Will this affect the election? While there is widespread dissatisfaction with the administration’s handling of the Islamic State, in most races it has not risen to the level of major campaign issue. Its principal effect is to reinforce an underlying, preexisting sense of drift and disarray.

The anemic economy, the revulsion with governmental incompetence and the sense of national decline are, taken together, exacting a heavy toll on Democratic candidates. After all, they represent not just the party now in government but the party of government.

In fact, Obama is likely to have the worst midterm numbers of any two-term president going back to Democrat Harry S. Truman.

Truman lost a total of 83 House seats during his two midterms (55 seats in 1946 and 28 seats in 1950), while Republican Dwight Eisenhower lost a combined 66 House seats in the 1954 and 1958 midterms.

Obama had one midterm where his party lost 63 House seats, and Democrats are expected to lose another 5 to possibly 12 House seats (or more), taking the sitting president’s total midterm House loses to the 68 seat to 75 seat range.
Jay Cost refutes the idea that Obama's election in 2008 presaged some sort of permanent Democratic majority.
There are no permanent majorities in American politics. For over a decade, Democrats have been salivating at the prospect of demographic changes propelling them to permanent majority status. Obama in particular has been active on this front, and has ruthlessly divided the country along race, gender, and class lines in the hope of speeding this process along. But he has overlooked two historical realities.

First, demographic change has been part and parcel of the American political landscape since the Founding, and yet the parties adapt. We can go back to the Federalist/Jeffersonian divide of earliest days. The latter enjoyed a demographic edge for a time because of the fast expansion of the West, but the old Federalist ideology eventually became the backbone of the Whigs, who were competitive against the Jacksonians. Federalism and antislavery then inspired the Republicans. So demography “doomed” the ideas of the Federalists, until of course a homespun Illinoisan named Abraham Lincoln united the whole North around a reworked version of their economic program. More recently, consider: In 1928 it was the Catholic vote that flipped Massachusetts from Republican to Democrat. In 2004 a majority of white Massachusetts Catholics gave their vote to George W. Bush, a Methodist from Texas, over John Kerry, a Catholic from Massachusetts.

Second, despite our political class’s pretensions to power, they remain mere pawns in a broader game designed by James Madison. Madison wanted a large republic precisely so demagogues could never build a fractious majority, as has been President Obama’s clear ambition. A society that covers a large space with many people actually makes it harder to do what this president has so long wanted. Per Madison: “Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other.”

We are seeing this play out right now. Obama’s coalition in 2008 was relatively large—at 53 percent of the vote—but unstable. In a country as vast and diverse as ours, all such coalitions are bound to be unstable. And what we have seen is Republicans poach a critical mass of the Obama vote away, in 2010 and likely in 2014, to foil his agenda. Just as Madison might have expected.

The Atlantic Magazine explains why liberal cities have become so unaffordable for the middle and lower classes.
In 2010, UCLA economist Matthew Kahn published a study of California cities, which found that liberal metros issued fewer new housing permits. The correlation held over time: As California cities became more liberal, he said, they built fewer homes.

"All homeowners have an incentive to stop new housing," Kahn told me, "because if developers build too many homes, prices fall, and housing is many families' main asset. But in cities with many Democrats and Green Party members, environmental concerns might also be a factor. The movement might be too eager to preserve the past."
Kate Bachelder identifies the top ten liberal superstitions that are on view in this election. I just wish that we would see refutations of such stupidities as spending more money improves education or that women earn 77% of what men earn.

Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke has a lame excuse about why she was fired lost her job from the company her own family owned and ran. She says that her position was eliminated after restructuring. And her family just couldn't find any position for her even though she was a wonderful executive. Sure. And then what did this take-charge executive do after her position was eliminated?
She left the company in June 1993, taking a two-year break to snowboard, travel and work for a bicycle trade group. John Burke said he asked his sister to return to Trek in 1995.
Yes, that's what competent businesswomen do - take a two-year break to snowboard. Even a relatively favorable Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story that points out that those making the accusations against her are Republicans writing on a conservative site, they still have this tidbit.
Mary Burke also served as commerce secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle from 2005 to 2007. Her predecessor in that role, Cory Nettles, has said that Burke's no-nonsense style upset some in the business community.

"She was very, very tough," Nettles said recently. "People take umbrage at that."

In a September 2006 email that first surfaced two weeks ago, Nettles expressed a far harsher opinion of Burke.

"She's a disaster," Nettles wrote at the time to another political appointee who was still working under Burke at the state Department of Commerce.

Here's a chilling story of how ISIL killed the males and enslaved the Yazidi girls and women when they overran that region of Iraq. There are now an estimated 4,601 Yazidi women missing.