Democrats

Democrats should cool the party's identity-politics obsession

Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in GoLocal24.com

If the Democrats want to make a big comeback they need to back off from the obsession with identity politics – e.g., the real or desired rights of the transgendered and other sexual-identity groups or this or that ethnic group – and focus on developing easily understandable positions that help as wide a range of people as possible.

At the heart of that  would be addressing the economic security and overall quality of life of low- and middle-income people in general. Think of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and not the Rainbow Coalition. Some Democrats are social conservatives and the party’s promotion of such very recent innovations as gay marriage and transgenderedbathrooms has unsettled them, pulling them away from the party that has traditionally  defended their socio-economic interests.

And, of course,  they need to replace the senior leadership of the party – especially House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, 77. It’s long past time for fresh faces.

A sign of what the Democrats shouldn't be doing comes, natch, from California, where Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra has added Texas, Alabama, South Dakota and Kentucky to North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee as states banned for most California state-financed travel because of their policies regarding gays, Lesbians and transgendered people. Mr. Becerra huffed that Golden State taxpayers’ money “will not be used to let people to travel to states who chose to discriminate.’’

This sanctimonious order will hurt California by, among  other things, depriving it of many connections and information that would be good for its economy. And of course it discriminates against Californians who might need or want to go to those states. Idiotic!

 

 

Chris Powell: Clinton, Trump stand on privilege; Democrats' college-promise boondoggle

Hillary Clinton has been at the top of national politics since becoming something of a co-president with her husband, Bill, in 1993. Leaving the White House in 2001, she became U.S. senator from New York. Narrowly losing the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama in 2008, she became his secretary of state in 2009, resigning in 2013 to run for president again.

For 23 years no one has been more of an insider. Even sympathetic observers acknowledge that Clinton is seeking what they call Obama's third term, just as Vice President George H.W. Bush sought and won Ronald Reagan's third term in 1988.

But the country is unhappy and clamoring for change. So addressing the Democratic National Convention last Tuesday night, Bill Clinton described his wife as "the best darn change maker I have ever met." To drive home the pose for the national television audience, delegates waved machine-printed signs reading "Change maker," signifying that the former president's seemingly folksy, personaland spontaneous reminiscences about his wife, now the party's presidential nominee, were actually precisely calculated.

So the Democrats will aim to try to offer the country continuity and change at the same time.

But then the insurgency offered by the Republican nominee, real estate developer Donald Trump, isn't much more persuasive. In his speech to the Republican National Convention, Trump denounced the political system as rigged, just as some Democratic leaders have done, and then claimed to be the only person who could fix it because he knows it so well -- presumably because he has made a career from it.

That is, both Clinton and Trump come to the election as products of the greatest privilege. The British writer and historian Hilaire Belloc made it rhyme:

The accursed power which stands on Privilege

(And goes with Women and Champagne and Bridge)
Broke -- and Democracy resumed her reign:
(Which goes with Bridge, and Women, and Champagne).Chr

* * *

Supporting free tuition at public colleges, the Democratic national platform inadvertently has admitted that for most students a college education is worthless, more of a handicap than a help.

For if a college education was as valuable as supposed, graduates would not be bemoaning their college loan debt. That debt would be comfortably repayable from the higher earnings grads would enjoy.

Instead, of course, many grads are finding that higher-paying jobs are not available to them, partly because the national economy isn't producing enough jobs that require higher education and partly because grads don't qualify, their college education not having conferred useful knowledge and skills.

Indeed, at many colleges political indoctrination has supplanted useful learning. These days a quarter of retail clerks and 15 percent of taxi drivers hold college degrees, and while everyone can benefit from more knowledge, it doesn't always pay for itself.

The country's real education problem is lower education. Half to two-thirds of high school seniors, even in Connecticut, are not mastering high school English or mathematics or both but, in a system of social promotion, they are given diplomas anyway and sent on to college needing remedial work.

But rather than level with the country about social promotion and the collapse of educational standards and thereby prick the college bubble, the Democrats would transfer its huge costs to taxpayers, bailing out not just the disappointed college grads but, more so, another Democratic constituency -- educators, many of whose jobs are no more necessary than those of elevator operators.
 

Chris Powell is an essayist on political and cultural matters and managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.

Chris Powell: Block immigrants from repugnant, anti-Western cultures

According to police and news reports about Omar Mateen, the perpetrator of the atrocity in Orlando:

·      He was a Muslim and the son of refugees from Afghanistan who was born in New York.

·      His father imagines himself president or a military leader of Afghanistan and hosts a television program on which he has supported the Taliban and called for killing homosexuals.

·      He was said to have made remarks sympathetic to terrorism that brought him to the attention of the FBI, which found nothing actionable.

·      In accordance with the teaching of the crazy cult that is trying to hijack Islam he frequently beat his first wife, who came to consider him psychotic and left him.

·      Also in accordance with the teaching of the crazy cult, he was enraged by homosexuality, and, completing his psychosis, had homosexual tendencies himself, having often visited the gay bar where he eventually perpetrated his murderous rampage.

In this context Mateen's mid-rampage call to police to proclaim his loyalty to the Middle Eastern terrorist group ISIS seems more like a vainglorious afterthought than part of a conspiracy.

Predictably enough, Democrats are using the atrocity to argue for their gun-control agenda, including prohibition of "assault weapons," apparently any rifle with a magazine, any rifle capable of firing more than one or two shots at a time without reloading -- a dubious proposition. As for the Democrats' more compelling propositions -- more background checks for gun buyers and such -- they probably would not have disqualified Mateen from purchasing the guns he used. For he was already licensed as a security guard, held a Florida gun permit, and repeatedly had cleared background checks undertaken by his employer, a federal government contractor.

Also predictably enough, Republicans are using the atrocity to argue for restrictions on immigration and foreign visitors, and at last Donald Trump has figured out that while immigration and visitation cannot be restricted by religion -- not constitutionally and not practically, since no one at a border crossing would admit his adherence to a prohibited religion -- immigration and visitation can be restricted by national origin.

After the atrocity Trump and his recent rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, asserted that the United States should not be welcoming people from countries that sponsor or are infected by terrorism or that oppress women, homosexuals, and disfavored religions. Such an exclusion would cover most of Africa and all the Middle East except Israel, the only democratic country there and the refuge of many homosexual Palestinians but nevertheless the bogeyman of the political left.

As Mateen demonstrates, and as has been demonstrated by other recent acts of terrorism,  such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the Fort Hood massacre, a background in an oppressive culture can span the generations and explode unexpectedly.

Thus the atrocity in Orlando can be attributed as much to this country's negligent immigration policy as to its negligent gun policy. For our negligent immigration policy celebrates "multiculturalism" even as the culture being imported is repugnant. Europe, which is being overwhelmed by migrants who have contempt for Western values, lacks the will to defend itself and has become Eurabia, thereby showing where negligent immigration policy will take the United States.

Defending the country requires getting a lot more selective with immigration, admitting only those people who can show a firm commitment to democratic and secular culture, not mere desire to get away from someplace else. The country needs no more Afghan refugees, nor more of the Syrian refugees Connecticut's governor lately has been celebrating, nor any more immigrants from the vast expanse of primitive barbarism that constitutes Religious Crazy Land.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.

 

Llewellyn King: In search of the real Elizabeth Warren

 

I went to Boston last week in pursuit of the real Elizabeth Warren. You see, I don’t think that the whole story of Warren comes across on television, where she can seem overstated, too passionate about everyday things to be taken seriously.

Like others, I've wondered why the progressives are so enamored of the Massachusetts senator. Suffolk University (in Boston), mostly known for its authoritative polls, gave her platform as part of an ongoing series of public events in conjunction with The Boston Globe. But whether the dearest hopes of the progressives will be fulfilled, or whether the senior senator from Massachusetts has reached her political apogee is unclear.

What I did find is that Warren has star power. She is a natural at the podium, and revels in it. At least she did at Suffolk,  where the cognoscenti came out to roar their affirmation every time that she threw them some red meat, which she did often.

Here's a sampling:

On student loans: “The U.S. government is charging too much interest on student loans. It shouldn’t be making money on the backs of students.”

On the U.S. Senate: “It was rigged and is rigged [by lobbyists and money in politics]. The wind only blows in one direction in Washington ... to make sure that the rich have power and remain in power.”

Warren's questioner, Globe political reporter Joshua Miller, led her through the predictable obstacle course of whether she was angling to be the vice-presidential candidate if Joe Biden runs and becomes the Democratic nominee. She waffled this question, as one expected, admitting to long talks about policy with Biden and declaring herself prepared to talk policy with anyone. She said  the subject of the vice presidency might have come up.

Short answer, in my interpretation: She would join the ticket in a heartbeat. This is not only for reasons of ambition -- of which she has demonstrated plenty, from her odyssey through law schools, until she found a perch at Harvard as a full professor -- but also age.

Warren is 66  and although her demeanor and appearance are of a much younger woman, the math is awkward. There are those in the Democratic Party who say  that she needs a full term in the Senate to get some legislative experience and to fulfill the commitment of her first elected office. But eight years from now, she'll probably be judged as too old to run for president.

Clearly, Warren didn't fancy the punishment and probable futility of a run against Hillary Clinton. But the vice presidency might suit her extraordinarily well, given Biden’s age of 72.

Warren has stage presence; she fills a room. She is funny, notwithstanding that you can be too witty in nation politics, as with failed presidential aspirants Morris Udall and Bob Dole. She reminds me of those relentlessly upbeat mothers, who were always on-call to fix things in the children’s books of my youth.

Although Warren comes from a working-class background, years of success at the best schools has left her with patina of someone from the comfortable classes -- someone for whom things work out in life. She counters this by stressing the plight of the middle class, the decline in real wages and her passion for fast food and beer -- light beer, of course.

Warren's father was janitor in Oklahoma who suffered from heart disease and her mother worked for the Sears catalog. The young Elizabeth did her bit for the family income by waitressing.

However, it's hard to imagine her at home at a union fish fry. My feeling is  that she'd be more comfortable -- the life of the party, in fact -- at a yacht club.

Progressives yearn for Warren and she speaks to their issues: lack of Wall Street regulation, and federal medical-research dollars, and the need for gun control, student-loan reform, equal pay for equal work, and government contracting reform.

She is  a classic, untrammeled liberal who is less dour than Bernie Sanders, and less extreme. So it's no wonder that so  many  Democrats long for her to occupy the presidency or the vice presidency.

All in all, I'd like to go to a party where she is the host: the kind where they serve more than light beer.

Llewellyn King (lking@kingpublishing.com) is executive producer and host of White House Chronicle, on PBS. 

Co-host and General Manager,

"White House Chronicle" on PBS

Peter Hart: Big Media's bad advice for Democrats

Before anyone even knew just how badly the Democrats would get trounced in the 2014 midterm elections, some pundits were already sending the party a message: Be more like the Republicans.

Now they don’t put it that way, exactly.

The professional campaign watchers like to say instead that the Democratic Party needs to move to the “middle” or the “center.” What they mean is that the Democrats should get closer to the Republicans on the issues.

Think about this for a second.

The turnout for the mid-term elections was the lowest for a mid-term in 70 years. Can we really expect more people to get excited about voting if the two major political parties become more like one another?

It doesn’t make much sense, but that’s Big Media’s remedy

For example, after Senate Democrats voted to give the populist Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, a leadership role in their caucus, CBS host Bob Schieffer said that it was “going to leave the impression that the party is moving to the left,” when the advice from “a lot of people” is that nothing will get done in Washington unless “both parties move toward the center.”

USA Today actually recommended that Barack Obama steal an idea from post-Iran/Contra Scandal Ronald Reagan and apologize on TV. What for? The newspaper didn’t say.

The problem, as The New York Times saw it, was that the Democrats had gone too far to the left under Obama: “Democrats largely abandoned the more centrist, line-blurring approach of Bill Clinton to motivate an ascendant bloc of liberal voters,” the paper insisted.

But that’s a dubious description of Obama-era Democrats.

On foreign policy, after all, the White House has escalated the war in Afghanistan, carried out drone attacks on several countries, helped engineer a disastrous Libyan War, and is now going back into Iraq.

The centerpiece of Obama’s domestic policy, meanwhile — the Affordable Care Act — was borrowed from Mitt Romney, who established a similar initiative as the governor of Massachusetts. And the law’s “individual mandate” to buy insurance was first cooked up by the right-wing Heritage Foundation.

But if that’s what the media considers veering left, what do Beltway insiders think  that the White House should do to make up for it?

For them, the first order of business is, well, big business: Obama should push through the secretive, corporate-friendly Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. People who actually turned up to vote must find this peculiar, since almost no one was talking up the deal before Election Day.

What else should Obama do, according to these pundits? Approve the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would pump dirty tar sands oil from Canada down to the Gulf Coast for refining.

Why would a president who says he cares about the climate crisis do this? To be more bipartisan, apparently.

Does any of this sound like the message voters were sending?

Not at all.

In fact, one of the most intriguing findings to come out of the 2014 exit polls was that the majority of voters think  that the economic system favors the wealthy: 63 percent of respondents said so, up from 56 in 2012.

This would suggest that a more vigorous brand of economic populism would resonate with voters — even if the pundits would hate it.

Peter Hart is the activism director of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting  (www.fair.org). This was distributed via OtherWords (www.OtherWords.org).

Chris Powell: In Conn., the real family problem

  VERNON, Conn.

Contriving their daily dose of campaign hysteria, leading Connecticut Democrats gathered at the state Capitol the other day to denounce the Republican nominee for governor, Tom Foley, for accepting the endorsement of the Connecticut Family Institute. 

"Candidate Foley gives few details but now we know the company he's keeping," state Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, said. 

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo added, "The endorsement of the Family Institute is or should be the kiss of political death in this state. It is outside of who we are as a people." 

Bye and Lembo are liberals and a few decades ago liberals denounced such attacks as "guilt by association." But that was when liberals were the ones guilty of associating. Foley is hardly a conservative -- Bye condemned him not just for accepting the Family Institute's endorsement but also for having few positions at all -- but his election would change the locks on the candy store Democrats have made of state government. So Foley must be demonized. 

The Democrats' problem with the Family Institute is that it opposes same-sex marriage. That is, they argue that the Family Institute should be disqualified from politics and decent society forever for taking today the same position that the country's two leading Democrats, President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, themselves took until a few years ago. But somehow Obama and Clinton have been forgiven. They were never going to change the locks on the candy store. 

The Family Institute says it endorsed Foley not because of his position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage -- those things don't seem to have ever bothered him and he is striving not to give offense even to those who deserve it. Rather, the institute got Foley to say he opposes legalizing assisted suicide, which the institute believes could lead to the euthanasia or murder of the disabled. 

Assisted suicide is not among Connecticut's big political issues, though if the Democratic state administration is re-elected those who work in the private sector  will  have less reason to go on living, or at least to go on living  here. 
 
But then homosexuality isn't a big issue for Connecticut either. The state decriminalized it decades ago, hadn'tprosecuted it for decades before that, and was among the first states to authorize same-sex "civil unions" and then same-sex marriage itself. 

The state long has been and remains overwhelmingly indifferent to such entirely personal matters even as homosexuals here continue to clamor as if they are somehow oppressed, since such clamor wins them political deference as a recognized special interest. As the old joke notes, what was, in the last century, "the love that dares not speak its name" cannot, in this one, shut up. 
 
The problem with the Family Institute's obsession with homosexuality is not that it has any chance of impairing anyone's rights but that it distracts from Connecticut's real family problem, which is also the state's biggest problem -- the decline of the family itself. This isn't the doing of homosexuals but of  heterosexuals,  who increasingly have children outside marriage and raise them neglectfully in fatherless homes, a catastrophically destructive phenomenon made possible mainly by the welfare system. 

The welfare system's destruction of the family is responsible for most of Connecticut's education, crime, drug, mental health and child-abuse problems  and for many of its physical illness problems. The human, financial and governmental costs are incalculable. 

But the Family Institute has little to say about this and the Democrats, so sensitive to any lack of enthusiasm for homosexuality, have nothing  to say about it, since their party, the party of government, sustains itself only by increasing dependence on government. 

Unlike the Family Institute, the Democrats are politically relevant, so their silence on the bigger issue is a far bigger threat. 

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn.