Outcome for halting adverse climate change, protecting the environment, curbing pollution and toxics was very negative-

Republicans scored an across-the-board victory in Tuesday’s mid-term elections. That they did well is not surprising. Mid-term elections are almost always bad for a President’s party, especially in the sixth year of a two-term President. Republicans, however, did even better by winning almost all of the close races. Republicans are claiming a mandate, although it is hard now to see how much internal agreement they can reach over what the mandate is.  Many folks are already talking about 2016 when the electorate (those who turn out to vote) is expected to be more neutral and/or favor the Democrats. It is too soon for that.

Not a typical 6th presidential year loss-
This was not a normal President’s-party-loses-mid-term, though superficially it might seem a typical “battle of the bases” mid-term election. Republicans gained complete control of Congress by picking up a majority of U.S. Senators and enlarging their House majority to the biggest Republican majority in over 80 years. The Republican base flat out hates the President, but it takes a more than that to do so well. Neither party comes close to having a majority of American’s personal party loyalty.

The election was accompanied with a national feeling of deep dissatisfaction and fear. Sudden fear of ISIS and Ebola might have made the final GOP surge possible. Then too, the Republican Party saw an incredible amount of outside money provided by billionaires and near-billionaires. It is a cliche to say this was unprecedented. This money was often able drown what looked like developing Democrat successes. Even so, the ultra wealthy could have provided much, much more money. Likely, there were just no more places to put dollars to work. As usual the big majority of television ads for both parties were negative in tone. This is known to cause anger and alienation and to drive down voter turnout. This kind of ad also works. That is why it is used so much.

Will there be a Republican mandate?
To the voters at large, Republicans presented little of an agenda for their majority. Neither did the Democrats. That things “are very bad and scary and the President is at fault” is not a plan to govern. Republicans are saying that they have indeed won a mandate, but what is it?

Big Republican win at the state level-
Very important to consider is that the unanticipated Republican tide extended downward to governor races and state legislatures. In these states Republicans are in a position to remake politics, the economy and people’s lives, but will they try? It is highly likely. They did it four years ago in Kansas with a huge tax cut for business and the more wealthy coupled with profound cuts in education and government services. The result was not economic growth, but contraction and a big continuing state revenue deficit. For months the story has been how Republicans were going pay for this at the polls. The story today is that they did not pay. Their narrow margins of victory are still victory. In Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his legislative majority have greatly changed this state that had a long progressive tradition. Walker not only survived a recall a year ago, he was reelected this November with a surprising majority.

The will be much talk about the record amount of non-party money in the 2014 campaign. It probably had many effects, and perhaps the greatest was at the state level. It also takes less money overwhelm a small population states than a large ones like New York, California or Texas. Significantly, the smaller states tend to already be red states. In deep red Idaho, polls showed two or three Democrats challenging Republican incumbents at the state level, e.g., governor, secretary of state, treasurer, etc.. A huge input of late, out-of-state pro-Republican money corrected this, pushing all the statewide Republicans to victory at near traditional margins.

The maxim that American politics stays near the center is dead-
Conventional wisdom has long been that “American politics is played between the 40-yard lines.” Parties that go to extremes are punished after an election or two. Obviously this is no longer true. On their own initiative starting in Congress in 2008, the Republican Party moved well over to the extreme right. In fact, this party movement actually began in the late 1970s. This political science piece shows the movement using graphs. Polarization is Real (and Asymmetric).  The polarization was not matched by the Democrats moving to left or trying to coopt the center.

Today we can argue that the Republicans were not punished and maybe they were even rewarded, although another hypothesis is that the general population is so disengaged that they have not noticed.

The rise of “Identity politics”-
The Democrats have moved a bit onto one kind of “identity politics.” Identity politics is a politics targeted to members of social groups perceived interests. It is usually seen as a coalition of minorities strategy. Both parties do it, but in the public mind it is mostly associated with Democrats, despite the recent huge Republican reliance on the angry older white male voter. Identity politics is not based on economic self interest. It is usually culturally based — mostly conflict over differing social cultural values. Not being based on any kind of rational economic calculus, identity politics can be very divisive. “Culture war” is not something for negotiation.

Republican rejection of the 20th Century-
Today, there is really no majority social group in the United States, probably one reason for the angry white male. As the party of the shrinking White majority, the Republicans have become profoundly reactionary. Reactionaries by definition want to return to some real (or likely mythic) past set of social arrangements. In the past (the 1980s, 90s) Republican culture warriors seemed to long the for culture of the 1950s, but now the past they seek is increasingly not even in the Twentieth Century. A surprising number of ideas from the 19th Century, or earlier, are showing. For example, even the reputation of slavery is being rehabilitated. De facto government by corporations possessing personal rights, and now even a corporate religion courtesy of the Supreme Court, are similar to the structure of feudalism in the Middle Ages.

Partisan rejections of science and technology-
Science and technology continually remake the world for good and ill. America has been celebrated for its prowess in both, but in recent years critiques of science and technology have often come from people on the left,  often as attacks on application of certain technologies by big corporations. Think of the fight over GMOs and agribusiness. Fear of, and yet hope for technological change of the right kind has in part been a preoccupation of environmentalists. Science is not questioned here but certain technologies are.

Now for the first time Republican culture warriors and business elites are attacking scientific knowledge with vigor, especially as it pertains to the human impact on the Earth and the climate. The culture warriors reject the most fundamental scientific basics such as the age and origin of the earth, the origin of humans, and biological evolution. One result is a growing effort to destroy public education in favor of private education, or publicly supported private education (charter schools), religious schools, and home schooling.

Republicans in the House have been trying to implement new rules on federal science grants to require things such as all the research “must be ground breaking” and must serve the national interest. More important will be Republican domination of the environment, energy and natural resources committees which will reject efforts to slow climate change or to boost alternative, clean, and distributed energy.  It is now more likely now that utility efforts to retard and stop rooftop solar panels will now win favor. The Keystone XL pipeline has been a huge Republican priority. They will insist on its approval.

There will be no new legislation to protect the environment, and established laws to protect it will be watered down, repealed, and/or rules and regulations set aside.

Billionaires now like feudal barons-
Neither political party’s internal organization is strong relative to outside groups, but today’s Republicans are unique in the role of billionaires, although both parties have them.  While the most wealthy two Americans, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are Democrats, they give little money to parties or candidates. However, the rest of the top billionaires are Republicans, with special note to Charles and David Koch with $85-billion between them. Then among the activists comes Sheldon Adelson with an estimated $38 billion and a special hatred of President Obama and love for conservative Zionism, and he influences foreign policy.

The Koch Brothers formed several powerful political organizations that rival the Republican Party though they are still firmly part of the GOP coalition — Americans for Progress and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). The later creates model legislation to accomplish right wing objectives. State legislators can just take the kind of law that would like off of the ALEC shelf.  Legislators then fill in a few blanks, and the bill is often on its way to become law in a red state. Idaho’s controversial “ag-gag” law is one of hundreds of examples. As the Republican majority tries to write its general notions into law, ALEC will be very helpful.

It seems possible that with their excess wealth which is far more than any human could spend on themselves, could come a new kind of political organization or even party. The Kochs and allies could build a political party employing a hundred thousand full time political operative workers to advance the interests of their employers. This would exist not only to contest elections, but all the time between. This might cost 20 to 30-billion dollars a year. They have the money.

The religious conservatives-
About half of the Republican coalition consists of religious conservatives, mostly evangelicals and fundamentalists. Before the 1970s this group did not show distinctive political characteristics, but in the late 1970s they were facilitated into the Republican base.  They show both high turnout and strong partisan loyalty.  In 2014 they were about half of the Republican votes. Evangelical doctrine has been gradually changing to make it more and more compatible with the views of non-religious Republican on taxes and wealth, e.g., Jesus would not have liked unemployment insurance or Medicaid. In the past these people have often been in tension with the secular Republican views. Now there is less tension as long as conservative business Republicans don’t publicly talk about the Earth being billions of years old, biological evolution being true, or women having a right to abortion, marriage equality and the like.

General public opinion may be drifting away from them, however. Fewer Americans are reporting daily religious activities, more are unchurched. Atheists are speaking out. Millennials profess much less organized religious interest and traditional beliefs than other generations. If their numbers are dwindling, conservative religionists see government action in many spheres of life is needed so to reinforce religious beliefs and also the earthly interests of these religious organizations. Prayer in the school has been a long time favorite goal, but diversion of public funds to religion would be more significant in its impact.

The Tea Party-
The mainstream media developed a theme in advance to guide their narrative of this election. The theme determines in general which stories are told, facts reported or ignored, as the election advances. The theme guiding the narrative was that sober mainstream Republicans defeated election losing Tea Party candidates in the GOP primaries. In 2012 comments by Tea Party nominees about rape providing a woman with God’s little gift of life and how women can hardly get pregnant from rape helped two big GOP senate losses. The theme for this year’s election was to be that the Tea Party is now controlled by sophisticated Republican nominees.  The reporting by the main stream media’s certainly helped make it appear true. Joni Ernst, the victorious Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Iowa had a long string of positions that many Americans would think are wild-eyed or would not support. However, the media did not ask her about these views, and she rode into office on easy human interest stories about her facility performing hog castration, and stories about her opponent’s minor conflict with a neighbor’s chickens, although Iowa media did finally at the end try to pin her down and interview her. Ernst’s campaign figured correctly that she could keep quiet, ignore them and wait the last couple weeks out.

Finally it is not clear that the Tea Party is really different than the Republican Party at all except perhaps their rhetorical style.

Both parties are very unpopular but Republicans the most-
Survey after survey, poll after poll has shown public respect for the two parties is about as low as it can get. Only election day the split  for Republicans in Congress was 21% approve; 69% disapprove. For Democrats it was 29% to 60% disapproval. These are not figures that say the public wants to follow and cheer what you do in office.

No matter how unpopular they are and now matter how low the voter turnout, someone, some party will win an election. The Republicans won. If they can agree on an agenda, can they force it on the angry general public? The radicalism (reactionary) of the party base says that they will try.  Easier to implement are the Republican economic agenda of more tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, and further lessening of oversight over financial institutions, investment practices, mergers, product safety, and negative externalities (pollution, etc.).

A likely struggle where the relative strengths are untested is the growing Republican effort to transfer most of the public lands to the states, and then, according to their critics, sell them and or transfer them to private property. The election in the West put pro-transfer members of Congress in the majority in every interior Western state except perhaps Colorado.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

123 Responses to Mid-term elections set up struggle to remake American life

  1. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    This is my first effort to cover the results of the mid-term election. Much more could be written.

    In my mind, I have been as neutral as I can. I have not tried to construct some fictitious “middle ground” which I then claim to occupy.

    • avatar DLB says:

      Ralph,

      What are the implications of these election results when it comes to states trying to claim federal lands within their borders?

    • avatar Amre says:

      It seems that republicans are always by default pro oil, pro gun, pro grazing, anti environment, anti science, etc. IMO, they lost all legitimacy when they shut down the government over Obama care. When will Americans stand up to these far right bullies?

      • avatar W. Hong says:

        From what I have watched in my year in the United States, it seem the Republicn party is pro business at all costs, it reminds me of the Chinese government in many ways.

        • avatar Amre says:

          W. Hong, to me it appears the US is regressing when it comes to politics. In many “3rd world” countries that are full of corruption, the politicians put money and their political party above the people they are suppose to represent. That is exactly what is happening in the US.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        One of the bitter ironies in MN, Democratic/DFL incumbents who have a life long history of hunting were painted as anti-gun.

        • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

          One of the important things about NRA and closely related “gun rights” organizations is that nowadays they are only partly about guns, shooting and ammo.. They have, and I think their leaders planned this, a right wing ideology that has little to do with hunting, shooting, or self defense in a social neutral manner.

          They like and want the reactionary Republican Party that has formed in the last six or so years. They are fully part of it.

  2. avatar HLB says:

    Quite a bit of territory covered here. As far as what can ultimately be achieved in a divided country one should first seek consensus on what the facts defining the problems are. Before a solution is envisioned a high percentage of the people should agree on what the problem is. Beyond that, not all problems should be addressed by the government. The government is not an efficient tool and should only address those problems that can not be conceivable handled by the people. The people may group together and spend their time, money, and energy solving the problems of their choice rather than other peoples time, money, and energy.

  3. Ralph, in your effort to reach the middle ground you couldn’t get passed the one yard line on the left side of the field.

    • avatar JB says:

      Then again, reality is around the three yard line on the left side of the field. 😉

    • avatar Mark L says:

      Wouldn’t that put him in the middle ground on a six foot field? Oh wait….what game are we playing again? (yes, he’s got a leftward tilt, Daryl)
      I’ll make the the prediction now (11/6/14)that the next 2 years will have some REALLY strange bedfellows. Ralph, I did like your observation that Republicans are harkening back to a 19th century view through reactionary vision. I’d almost call if ‘manifest destiny, part 2’ in a way. ISIS and Ebola…creeks and cherokees….Georgia gold rush. We ARE a funny bunch, aren’t we?

    • avatar bez jmena says:

      Mr. Hunter, as a matter of clarity, the correct spelling would be “past”. And substantively, your imagined field itself is extraordinarily biased toward an extreme and reactionary view.

  4. avatar HoofHugs says:

    When I discovered that FWS, TNC, & IUCN invented exotic species labels for native North American horse–no sources cited anywhere by any authors of policies that include horse—I took note of the groups that helped compile the reports and policies. These groups advise us on many environmental policies. Looking into millions of years of species origins, adaptations, and extinctions rather than 500 or 1,000 changes ones’s perspective as does reading research that other countries have done that contradicts what our federal agencies are doing. There is international concern about the short sightedness in species conservation and related sciences although they do not signal us out, the horse is a very important species for more than historical reasons. We are similar genetically and physiologically, The horse’s variations in shapes and sizes appears now to be environmentally driven–in the Pleistocene when so many drastic changes in climate occurred. I am concerned that these biological diversity plans that recommend genetically modified organisms over naturally occurring ones rather than migration as what happens in nature (if you ant to raise cattle move to where the grass cattle eat naturally grows; let the horses have the dry grass that grows in sandy soils; or not just the horse; but species diversity increases species richness. We manage land just the opposite way. Australia has a far greater problem with wildlife than we, and they have a plan that is based on science. We have a plan based on politics.

    I urge you to join with me to return scientific integrity to our federal science programs–across the board. We are destroying our environment because our vision is based on decades not centuries or thousands and millions of years. We have not lost nearly as many species as some have said. We lose subspecies as the environment changes. Subspecies have to adapt or migrate.

    Sciences in the Eurasian Steppe state most grouse now live near or in the boreal forests. Are our efforts to save the sage grouse, probably a sub species and a beautiful bird misguided?

    My experience is that people who raise animals or take care of them are much more knowledgeable about their needs than people who merely advocate for them. In fact, some advocates don’t seem aware of species needs or behaviors at all.

    I’m ready to give someone else a chance to get this right because the party for saving the environment has gotten so much wrong…I do not blame the people on the ground; but the people at the top created bad science and appointed gate keepers from discovering what they had done.

    Let’s take a deep breath, a walk in the woods, and see if we can work together to get the best scientists in place to advise us, not the best ideologues with scientific credentials.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Very well said.

    • avatar rork says:

      To bad about your horse views, and natural vs GMO over-generalization. “natural is good” is famous fallacy in medicine.
      ” but species diversity increases species richness” was wonderfully circular, and increasing species in an area is not necessarily good, if it later leads to a reduction in the complexity (maybe I like energy flux as a metric).
      As ever: we have a gazillion horses, no ecosystem need for feral ones.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        “As ever: we have a gazillion horses, no ecosystem need for feral ones”

        And a few of them most likely headed to Canada Rork.

        An ad in a little local paper here recently:

        Wanted To Buy
        Canner horses – To go to Canada
        Call XXX-XXX-XXXX

        (A local rancher by the way)

  5. avatar Immer Treue says:

    Ralph,
    During the past, we have had a couple of comment exchanges about how the wolf “thing” is a microcosm of what philosophical changes were in the air. The sixties brought great sociological and environmental movements that have manifested themselves In many ways.

    Perhaps there existed a complacency, and these movements have stalled and run into the next phase of “Manifest Destiny”. Is this the beginning of the last push to destroy what little is yet wild in our country? I’m sure the extractive industries are in a state of orgasmic delight.

    Oligarchy appears to be at our doorsteps, and one wonders if anything can be done about it. Perhaps The country was not ready for Obama. I’m reminded of the phrase from Blazing Saddles, ” the sheriff is a … There is a large minority of folks in this country not willing to yield on the issue of race. Not to play the race card, but anything associated with Obama is looked upon with disgust by this group. Even when he was elected and had the political capital, would it have mattered if he decided compromise with the right was a fools errand?

    As the conservative movement runs farther and farther to the right, any form of centrist program appears far to the left. We are moving closer and closer to an American Taliban fostered by the extreme right. Sooner or hopefully not later, the vast majority of people in the center have got to understand the way we are now moving is into a giant cup-de-sac. Once inside, the opening will narrow to the point that extracting ourselves from that cauldron may become impossible, and the people who voted to put is there will bitch and moan, only to have themselves to blame.

    • avatar Joanne Favazza says:

      Great post, Immer.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      It is a factor, but it’s oversimplifying things to blame it all on race. I voted for him the first time around with high hopes and thinking of how much we had progressed as a nation, but he and his appointees have been a huge disappointment on the environment and wildlife, and now several other issues. It appears also that he has thrown in the towel. And we are regressing as a nation, and that is not his fault.

    • avatar Yvette says:

      Immer, I don’t think oligarchy is on our doorsteps. I think it already kicked the door down, came inside, and has been pilfering through the cupboards.

    • avatar Louise Kane says:

      +1!
      the impact post election on education, policies and laws are really draconian.

      “The Koch Brothers formed several powerful political organizations that rival the Republican Party though they are still firmly part of the GOP coalition — Americans for Progress and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). The later creates model legislation to accomplish right wing objectives. State legislators can just take the kind of law that would like off of the ALEC shelf. Legislators then fill in a few blanks, and the bill is often on its way to become law in a red state. Idaho’s controversial “ag-gag” law is one of hundreds of examples. As the Republican majority tries to write its general notions into law, ALEC will be very helpful.

  6. avatar JB says:

    Here’s what it boils down to. Republicans now control 2/3s of the government, so the ‘government don’t work and it is all Democrats fault’ argument isn’t going to work for them. Generally speaking, people are disgusted with politics and politicians, which has led to an anti-incumbent environment. But that really only shows up in the presidential elections, when moderates and independents show up en mass.

    The party of ‘no’ is now in a quandary; the only thing they agree on is that taxes and Obama are bad, and that’s not a platform that’ll get you very far.

  7. avatar Ida Lupines says:

    This is a great post, Ralph. I wonder and hope that when people realize how bad it is going to get, they will be shocked out of their complacency.

  8. avatar timz says:

    Nice try on the money.
    “looking at some publicly available information — mostly from the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets database, which collects disclosure data from the Federal Election Commission — we were able to get an idea of what role America’s billionaires play in each party.”
    “there were 22 individuals on the Open Secrets list who were billionaires. Of those 22 billionaires, 13 — or more than half — gave predominantly to liberal groups or groups affiliated with the Democratic Party. The other nine gave predominantly to conservative groups.”

    Those 13 gave nearly 28M to liberal groups while the rest gave about 10M to conservatives.
    Of course there is no way to really track monies under the table.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      timz,

      My main point about the billionaires was intended to be that they have become much like feudal lords because they have so many resources than other people, and a significant percentage act it.

      There are many Democratic billionaires that donate a lot of money directly to partisan causes. I think it is less than the GOP, however. Regardless, the magnitude of disproportion of wealth has effects across the board. They are changing the political, economic, and social systems of the country and the world even through their indirect and unintended influence.

      I said Bill Gates is a Democrat, but gives little direct and probably little indirect political donations, but he and his wife, through the Bill and MeLinda Gates Foundation, are a force to be reckoned with in education policy (also international health policy). Much of the controversial “Common Core” standards and policy came from Gates, not “faceless DC bureaucrats.”

      Oh, and they are in strong conflict with right wing education interested billionaires.

      • avatar timz says:

        My only point is the entire system has become totally about and corrupted by money, doesn’t matter if your center, left or right.

    • avatar JB says:

      More info on where money came from in this election:

      “Dark money wasn’t the only type of spending that polluted the cycle; this year there were 94 “super PACs” set up for individual candidates, all of which are attempts to bypass federal limits and allow big givers to support the candidates of their choice. (These donations have to be disclosed.) Of the $51.4 million these groups spent, 57 percent were on behalf of Democrats. Overall, of the $525.6 million in independent expenditures this cycle (excluding party committees), about 57 percent was for Republicans.”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/09/opinion/sunday/dark-money-helped-win-the-senate.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1

  9. avatar timz says:

    And as for the Keystone Pipeline being a Republican priority.
    “A Pew Research poll taken in fall 2012 found Americans support its construction by a 2-to-1 margin, with strong majority support among both Republicans and Democrats.”
    “Landrieu (a democrat), who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, faces a tough re-election challenge this fall, and has said she will use all her power to make sure the project is built.

  10. avatar snaildarter says:

    Barry Goldwater once said “I used to be called Mr Conservative now I’m a moderate and I have not moved”
    so the GOP has drifted far to the right and the Democrats are lately being controlled by urban millennials and they are not a majority at least not yet. But the real difference is the Conservative Roosevelt Christians changing sides in the 1960-1980’s they are very anti- science and anti-intellectual and they tend to be racist. The business class currently tolerates them but doesn’t like them. Its a fragile coalition. A lot of conservatives care deeply about the environment its just not their first priority. So there is hope.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Ha! Yes. Nice post.

    • avatar Yvette says:

      “Christians changing sides in the 1960-1980’s they are very anti- science and anti-intellectual and they tend to be racist.”

      I’m in Oklahoma, welcome to my world. I will say that two of my good friends are Christian and they are both liberal. Neither are racist. Just the opposite. Okay, that is two out of XXXXXXX.

  11. avatar snaildarter says:

    Actually I’m an Episcopalian myself but “Conservative” is the key operative word not Christian or maybe I should have said evangelical, fundamentalist. You know the folks who vote as a block and do not believe in evolution. They voted for Roosevelt because he helped them survive the dust bowl, but the Civil rights act of 1964 began the change that was completed by Ronald Reagan. They forced Jimmy Carter to leave the Baptist church after 60 years of teaching Sunday school.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      snaildarter,

      I agree with you. The word “Christian” is not a synonym for the “religious right.” It is true that those in the later often use the word as though they were the only Christians.

  12. avatar JB says:

    This will make you feel better, Ralph:

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014.html#.VFwrb_ldVXg

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if we all bought our pitchforks at Walmart?

    • avatar skyrim says:

      Great read JB, but the Walmarts in my world don’t sell pitchforks. Now I may know why………;-)

    • avatar Nancy says:

      Thanks for posting this JB. Passing it on to all my wealthy friends 🙂

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Thanks JB. This is a wise top of economic foodchain guy.

      As you know, revolutions happen when the gap between what the potentially revolutionary think is going to happen and what does happen is the greatest.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      Pitch Forks? We don’t need nonstinkin pitchforks!

      Great read. From what little I know about Henry Ford, he wasn’t the nicest guy in the world, but he was light years ahead of most in terms of understanding that a decently paid employee buys things, eh.

    • avatar WM says:

      JB,

      ++This will make you feel better [billionaire Seattleite Nick Hanauer’s article], Ralph:

      I don’t know. The irony here is that Nick Hanauer (and NY Mayor Bloomberg with Bill Gates) bankrolled a citizen gun control initiative that passed 2 days ago, which is the most complex and restrictive in the entire country.

      They threw a lot of money at this, and distorted the law’s content, to win. Populist support to do background checks on gun show sales was the pitch, and support for that element is huge; I support this need.

      However, most folks voting for it didn’t read the bill, which also requires background checks on private “transfers” which include gifts, loans and sales, with only a very narrow exception of bona fide gifts to family members listed in the statute.

      Technically I could not loan my deer rifle to a family member to store in their gun safe; I couldn’t sell it to my cousin (could give it to him as a bona fide gift) or anyone else without going thru a licensed gun dealer at a cost of between $35-50, which then creates a record of me as transferor, and the transferee (my cousin) along with the serial number on the firearm. This is the basis for what, in the next round, might be gun registration, and maybe a personal property tax. Nonetheless I would be in the same database as any FFL sale of a new inventory gun from a retailer.

      The family member or private sale parties could just say they did a loan or sale in OR or ID. There may be a lot of illegal transfers in WA in the future; first is a misdemeanor, but the second is a felony. And each transfer counts as a separate count. So, if I get rid of the old duck gun and the deer rifle without going thru the FFL, and get caught, I am now a convicted FELON. Over-reaching populist initiative that the morons who voted for this thing didn’t think thru.

      Now, back to the irony and Hanauer’s statement. The only thing the populace will have in the People’s revolution, if the People’s Agenda is not listened to, is their pitchforks to storm the Bastille. Now, will this initiative stand a WA or US Constitutional challenge in its present form, or will the WA legislature come to the rescue and bring common-sense changes to this new law?

      Hanauer is a complex guy with a big ego and tons of money. If you really think he has the People’s interest in mind, think more closely. Afterall, he invested heavily in Amazon.com, which has basically cut out retailers for certain consumer goods (and services). In addition to the fact that business owners/retailers who sell those things ARE MUCH of the middle class that don’t work for government (including college professors), some have gone out of business along with the jobs they created. They lost their capital along the way. Think Barnes & Noble bookstores, craft stores, electronics stores (RadioShack in the corporate world) or their equivalent which were often anchors in small malls, here.

      • avatar JB says:

        WM:

        I don’t ‘think that [Hanauer] has the People’s interest in mind’ — indeed, I think the essay is pretty clear that he is looking out for his own interest (in part, by ensuring their consumers to actually buy the products he sells). Nevertheless, I don’t have to like a guy nor agree with everything he’s written or stands for in order to agree with one of his essays. To be clear, I agree with the primary point of this essay; that is, consolidation of wealth and mass inequality hurts everyone in the long-term (and could end very badly for the very wealthy). Just ask the former Russian Tsar…oh right. 😉

        • avatar JB says:

          Sorry, should read: “…by ensuring there are consumers to…”

        • avatar WM says:

          The problem, as I see it, JB is that the propping up of the bottom end of the economic ladder will be on the backs of the shrinking middle class (which has a shrinking share of political and economic power). There is a reason that more and more wealth/power is concentrated in fewer and fewer people at the very top.

          There is a method to the madness, and I don’t think it is always political ideology that allows this to happen. Corporate America (the big ones at the very top) are becoming more and more isolated and powerful, while being less accountable.

          Interesting take on the concept of “interlocking directorates” by a USC prof, where the example is Citicorp:

          http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/corporate_community.html

          I expect a similar analysis for Boeing, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Ford or IBM will produce the same kind of scary links.

          And, remember these guys have regular “non-meeting” meetings with each other to plot out the course of American economics – I think the current one is to dilute and screw with the middle class. Gates does one nearly every year; I bet Hanauer, Amazon’s Bezos, Bloomberg and maybe even somebody from the Koch brothers’ staff and Walmart are regular invitees.

          Call me paranoid, but I think there is justification to be critically thinking in this way.

          • avatar WM says:

            Sorry, UC Santa Cruz, not USC.

          • avatar JB says:

            “…is that the propping up of the bottom end of the economic ladder will be on the backs of the shrinking middle class…”

            I think you need to read the essay. He’s talking about the .1% ers — not the middle class. Certainly a tax structure could be devised (and arguably our current structure is a good example of this) to ‘prop up’ the least fortunate on the backs of those in the middle. No question there. But a tax structure could also be devised to rely more on the 1, .1, or .01% ers. Indeed, you might argue that we had this tax structure until Reagan was elected.

            • avatar WM says:

              I did read the essay. Here is the hook – he actually says it twice.

              ++the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast…++

              ++If we do something about it, if we adjust our policies in the way that, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression—so that we help the 99 percent and preempt the revolutionaries and crazies, the ones with the pitchforks—that will be the best thing possible for us rich folks, too. ++

              The part I mention goes outside the topic of his article but it is part and parcel of the issue he discusses. He carves out the 99+ percent that are being left behind, and that is the percentage that will be pissed and take acsion. Now here’s the other shoe to drop, and it involves divide and conquer. Clue: You would have no reason to know this, but Hanauer is part of the $15 miniumum wage advocacy group. Who will pay for this shift? The middle class disproportionately is shouldering the burden disproportionately, in more costly goods and services – not just fast food, either, everything from food production, drycleaners, movies, museum tickets, construction, retail clothing and furniture delivery. It is much more pervasive. I’m not saying SOME folks don’t deserve a higher living wage, but the issue is who will pay for it. Bring some folks up from the bottom rungs and the tension subsides, as the middle gets screwed and the .01 percenters are insulated from what is now less fallout. That is my point.

              I think we agree on the other parts of the equation, and what Hanauer is advocating to his .01 percenters, and why. It is where he and the heavy-breathers who supposedly can see around corners that bothers me.

              • avatar JB says:

                WM:

                Thanks for the info; I’ve been following the minimum wage question, but wan not aware of Hanauer’s position. I certainly see how the topic’s are related (e.g., minimum wage increases mean those with the least have something to spend on the types of goods and services the .01%ers provide) and agree with you that minimum wage increases disproportionately affect the middle class. However, minimum wage is but one piece of the puzzle. A progressive agenda would also include higher taxes for the wealthiest–and these monies would funnel money directly into the middle and lower classes (presumably though government).

                Note, after Reagan took office, we halved the top tax rate, and–not coincidentally– the income gap AND debt to GDP ratio have been growing ever since. The key is to fix the tax rate (and loopholes); if that happens, the wealth gap will shrink, and raising the minimum wage won’t overburden the middle class. Remember wealth is relative.

              • avatar Nancy says:

                +1 JB 🙂

      • avatar Louise Kane says:

        “However, most folks voting for it didn’t read the bill, which also requires background checks on private “transfers” which include gifts, loans and sales, with only a very narrow exception of bona fide gifts to family members listed in the statute.”

        and the problem with this law is what?
        Perhaps most folks are just sick to death of gun violence and the way that the second amendment argument has been misused and misinterpreted by overly zealous gun freaks.
        http://seattletimes.com/html/editorials/2024953402_i594electioneditguncontrol05xml.html

        Fox’s take on the issue – may cost more for guns ….boo hoo and you maybe can’t lend your gun to a friend who is being stalked bigger boo hoo.
        http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/11/01/hidden-consequences-washington-state-gun-background-check-initiative-54/

        • avatar WM says:

          Louise,

          I know Ralph doesn’t particularly want to turn this into a guns rights blog. However, since you raised the issue about stalker stuff, the initiative does deal with this, in a curious way.

          It allows for the “temporary transfer…of a firearm if such transfer is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to the person to whom the firearm is transferred if…the transfer onlys lasts as long as is immediately necessary…” and you are not otherwise prohibited from possession (like failing a background check. Example: New boyfriend loans girlfriend hand gun to ward off old threatening boyfriend. Somebody still may die/get injured.

          Your view is the kind that passed this initiative, and it is a slippery slope for 2nd Amendment folks. This law won’t do shit for the transfers between bad guys in the Walmart parking lot, those who steal legal guns, or the kid who takes a legal gun to school and blows away classmates. There is a huge disconnect between what needs control and what will be controlled with this law, or what will likely be similar ones proposed by big money in a couple other states next election cycle.

          I doubt very much it will do anything to significantly reduce/stop gun violence, or availability of firearms to high risk elements of society. But it will fill the coffers of the NRA to oppose, and drive some R’s even further to the right, while having folks in the middle consider which side they want to be on this issue. Frankly I am considering cutting a check to the NRA, something I have not done in about 30 years, and calling my D State Representative and Senator for whom I voted.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            “or the kid who takes a legal gun to school and blows away classmates”

            Don’t know why this part of your comment reminded me of this article WM…. but it did:

            http://newsdaily.com/2014/11/cloud-of-pot-smoke-puts-colorado-high-school-on-partial-lockdown/

            Be interesting to see where Colorado is on gun laws and school violence, oh 10, 20 years from now 🙂

            • avatar WM says:

              Were you thinking of the analogy of a high school kid taking something legal(his parents MJ stash) to school and using it for an illegal purpose (getting classmates high)?

              Same with the legal gun that goes to school and does harm.

              Of course, we don’t know whether the kid(s) that did the MJ bong trick got their dope legally, do we? Maybe there was a transaction in a Walmart parking lot. And, of course the paraphanalia (water bong) has always been legal, and available everywhere.;)

              • avatar WM says:

                Geez, I just can’t get this emoticon thing right. 😉

              • avatar Nancy says:

                A really different kind of “lockdown” given the scare these days in schools, that no doubt had officials, parents and a host of others scrambling to address.

                BUT, but gotta admit WM …… nobody died 🙂

                And when its sorted out, unlike a shooter at the school, taking innocent lives… a few older folks (able to recall the 60’s) will chuckle about it and share their memories 🙂

              • avatar WM says:

                Nancy,

                I’m chuckling about the school lockdown. Also have an old recipe for Chai tea that could be dusted off. One of the ingredients is, of course, now legal in my state, though a current brewing might have to be dialed back for new potency. With ingredient names like “Matanuska thunderf**k,” “Panama Red and “Zombie kush” there must be biological repercussions for the wrong tea blend. LOL.

              • avatar Nancy says:

                + 1 WM. And FYI – : plus ) together on the keyboard, makes an emoticon 🙂

            • avatar Amre says:

              Haha, this is funny to me even though i’m not old!

          • avatar Louise Kane says:

            how do you know it won’t embolden other states to enact similar laws. People are pretty fed up with the lack of meaningful gun control There is another side WM

            with all the gun violence in this country, when the first semblance of a gun control law passed you feel the need to send the NRA a check….???

          • avatar Louise Kane says:

            some links to some interesting polls and articles related to the gun control question

            the majority of gun owners now say they own guns to protect themselves, used to be the majority owned for hunting. what this one poll does not tell us though is how much has gun ownership gone up overall and has the rate of hunters owning guns gone up or down

  13. avatar timz says:

    I get a kick out of all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the Republicans taking over. What did you expect when you put this fool in the White House not once but twice. His abysmal failure as a president did nothing but stir up the hornets nest and get the people out to vote for change, any change.

  14. avatar HB says:

    I keep thinking when people’s houses blow away, float away, burn down, we now longer water to drink or to water what is planted that people will wake up.

  15. avatar HB says:

    Oh and timz it is not the President we have to thank for the last 6 years but the Republicans not working with the Senate. Start thinking for yourself and get the facts.

    • avatar timz says:

      What rock did you crawl out from under HB. It’s you who can’t think or know what the facts are:

      “The president is fond of referring to the House as the ‘do-nothing Congress.’ But we have 352 reasons why it’s a ‘do-Nothing Senate.’
      352 bills are sitting on Harry Reid’s desk, awaiting action.

      “98 percent of them passed with bipartisan support — Republicans and Democrats working together to pass legislation.

      “50 percent of the bills passed unanimously, with no opposition.

      “70 percent of the bills passed with two-thirds support in the House.

      “And over 55 bills were introduced by Democrats.

      “352 bills. Why won’t Harry Reid act? These are good bills; bills that put the American people back to work, put more money in hardworking Americans pockets, help with education, and skills training. We call upon Harry Reid to get to work before he adjourns in August to pass some of these bills. The American people deserve better.”

      • avatar timz says:

        HB it’s the totally clueless folks like you who vote and we have to thank for the government we have now.

        • avatar HB says:

          Would not be surprised timz if you are one of the many being paid by the Kock brothers to flood sites with false information.

          • avatar timz says:

            Give it up HB you are really starting to look like a total illiterate. And prove anything here that I posted is false.

      • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

        timz wrote, and a lot of other people have too (or said), “But we have 352 reasons why it’s a ‘do-Nothing Senate.’
        352 bills are sitting on Harry Reid’s desk, awaiting action.”

        This suddenly appearing argument did not originate with each person who wrote or said it. Does anyone know if this first came from TV, a newspaper, political web site?

        Just trying to track this down.

        • avatar JB says:

          Ralph:

          It’s another Republican (Jenkings – Kansas) talking point:

          “PolitiFact took a look at the statements that there are 352 bills sitting on Harry Reid’s desk and that 55 of them were introduced by Democrats. PolitiFact reporter Linda Qiu says Jenkins’ claim rates HALF TRUE. Qiu says the issue is a bit more complex than how Rep. Jenkins has made it out to be.

          “We took a look at the numbers, and while there were 342 bills that were passed in the House and sent to the Senate, the big thing to remember is that some of these bills are actually in Senate committees, and the committee chair ultimately can decide whether or not to let a bill pass to the next level,” Qiu said. “The other complicating part of this is that the Senate may have their own version of the same legislation, so the House bill might just be sitting there while the Senate proceeds on their own.”

          What about the claim that 55 of the bills that came out of the House and moved on to the Senate were introduced by Democrats? Qiu says that the number is accurate, but that the 55 bills represent only about 16 percent of the bills passed by the House. “If you look at the bills, the substance of the legislation in these bills is pretty mundane,” Qiu said. “We’re talking about things like names for federal buildings, minor tweaks to legislation, and even the granting of an immigration visa to an individual.”
          Rep. Jenkins has laid the blame of Washington gridlock at the feet of Sen. Harry Reid, but Reid is not the only person who gatekeeps the bills reaching the Senate floor. PolitiFact rates Rep. Jenkins’ claim HALF TRUE.”

          http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2014/8/18/politifact_is_harry_.html

          • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

            Thanks JB. It is about as I expected then. Jenkins must have been on TV and made the statement.

            Any majority leader of any party will have bills left over that were never scheduled for a vote, and the greatest number of these will be of the minority party. This has always been true, and the next two years it will be the Democrat’s bills that do not get a vote taken.

            Gridlock to some degree will always be the case with divided party control inside Congress and/or between Congress and the White House. It is not in general due to personalities, although certain kinds of people do certainly intensify the matter.

            • avatar timz says:

              Another good read on it from the WSJ. It’s all over the net with dozens of quotes from disgruntled republicans and democrats. But you can take the sites biggest democrat apologists JB and his one story from one rep but I kind of think where there is smoke there is fire.
              “http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304347904579310683963665974+

              • avatar JB says:

                I merely reported what PolitiFact wrote, and the original source. You’re the spin-master here, my friend. And I see you’ve flung insults left and right across this page (at both posters and politicians)–as you do whenever politics come up. Grow up, Tim.

              • avatar timz says:

                JB I’ll grow up as soon as you quit being a pompous prick.

              • avatar JB says:

                Another insult, eh? Well, I can’t say that was unexpected. Disappointing, but not unexpected.


                Suggestion: When you can’t interact with people without flinging insults, it might be time to find a new hobby. I doubt this sort of interaction is good for you or any of the other posters here.

              • avatar timz says:

                Sorry JB, I don’t consider the truth an insult. And If I want your advice, well you know the old saying.

            • avatar timz says:

              And JB so it’s only “HALF TRUE” so that makes it what, only half disgraceful and hypocritical. And yes Ralph, it’s “oh well” now the republicans are going to do it also.
              Good Lord, it’s no wonder we have the government we have people blow this crap off like it’d nothing. No wonder the environmental movement is getting trounced and will continue to do so.

            • avatar timz says:

              And JB so it’s only “HALF TRUE” so that makes it what, only half disgraceful and hypocritical. And yes Ralph, it’s “oh well” now the republicans are going to do it also.
              Good Lord, it’s no wonder we have the government we have people blow this crap off like it’s nothing. No wonder the environmental movement is getting trounced and will continue to do so.

        • avatar timz says:

          Ralph, this article doesn’t talk numbers but gives a few examples, citing frustration from within his own party.
          http://www.nationalreview.com/article/368369/harry-reids-obstructionism-andrew-stiles

          • avatar WM says:

            But in the end isn’t the “D Party” that calls the tune for Majority Leader Reid. That is why they call it Majority + Leader, and don’t they elect from their own caucus? This young National Review completely misses that aspect, other than to say this :
            ++Some of Reid’s defenders have justified his hostility toward amendments by arguing that he is simply trying to protect vulnerable Democrats.++

            It strikes me the Party thinks he is a good gatekeeper. Now, will McConnell for the R’s be equally as obstructionist?

            And, of course, Party politics could give a rat’s bung about the will of the American people, whoever they are these days.

  16. avatar snaildarter says:

    Yep, it was the same type backlash when Baby Bush left office and the democrats over stepped with the affordable care act and now we’ll have to see if the GOP makes the same mistake.

  17. avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

    2 years ago:

    Noam Chomsky Post-Election: We Need More Organization, Education, Activism

    http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/13279-noam-chomsky-post-election-we-need-more-organization-education-activism

    Why didn’t they vote? Well, there are things they know intuitively, which are well studied in the political science literature. ….. The sort of gold standard in this work right now is Martin Gilens’ recent book, which is quite good. What he points out is that the lower 70 percent have no influence on policy, so they’re essentially disenfranchised. And then as you move up higher, you get a little more influence. When you get to the very top, they essentially get what they want. Polling results aren’t sharp enough for him to deal with the crucial segment of the population – the top fraction of 1 percent – which is where the real concentration of wealth is, and undoubtedly the real concentration of power. But you can’t show it, because the polls aren’t good enough.

    Going back to why people don’t vote, I presume the main reason is because they understand without reading political science texts that it doesn’t make any difference how they vote. It’s not going to affect policy, so why bother?

    • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

      to continue:

      ” There’s another very striking fact about the elections which you can’t miss if you looked at the red-and-blue electoral map the next day: it’s the same political landscape that you saw during the Civil War – nothing much has changed except the party names. In the 1960s, civil rights legislation was coming along, and Nixon recognized the Southern strategy would work – that combination means that the Republicans and Democrats shifted names, but other than that, it’s the same distinction. And that tells you something pretty important about American politics.

      After the Civil War, the party system reconstituted, but it reconstituted along sectional lines. So there was a slogan: “You vote where you shoot.” If you were in the Confederacy, you voted Democrat. If you were in the North, you voted Republican. It was a little mixed, due to the fact that many Northern workers were Catholic and they voted Democratic. But that was because of Tammany-style politics, so they’re kind of out of the general system anyway; they were just being helped around by corrupt Irish politicians. But the basic split is sectional voting. Now it very quickly turned out that the two sectional parties were naturally taken over by manufacturing and financial interests. And that’s where it’s been ever since.”

      • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

        “So basically, you have a business party with two factions, one with somewhat more of a base in the general population, one with less.

        That’s sharpened in the last couple of years. Something interesting happened in the last 20 years, roughly. The Republicans basically abandoned any pretense of being a parliamentary party. They’ve simply become the party of the super-rich and the corporate structure, with a kind of a lock-step uniformity – like everybody has to sign a catechism and so on. That’s not a political party, and you can’t get votes that way. So in order to get votes, they’ve been compelled to mobilize sectors of the population that were always there, but were never really a political force.

        And it’s a pretty crazy country in a lot of ways. It’s a super-religious country, way off the international spectrum. There’s no country in the world like it. These people were mobilized and that’s part of the base. It has always been a very frightened country, way back to colonial times. There’s a big sector that thinks, “They’re coming to get us,” whoever “they” are – maybe the UN, or the government or somebody; it used to be the Indians and the slaves. So you have to have guns, and you have to defend yourself. It goes way back in American history. So those are people who are mobilized: kind of a nativist, frightened population, which is quite substantial.

        On top of that, there’s just the straight racist issue, which has been exacerbated by the fact that whites are becoming a minority.”

        • avatar Nancy says:

          “There’s a big sector that thinks, “They’re coming to get us,” whoever “they” are – maybe the UN, or the government or somebody; it used to be the Indians and the slaves. So you have to have guns, and you have to defend yourself. It goes way back in American history. So those are people who are mobilized: kind of a nativist, frightened population, which is quite substantial”

          +1 Mareks

        • avatar Yvette says:

          Mareks Vilkins, +++.

          Great post and spot on, IMO.

        • avatar Immer Treue says:

          “y. They’ve simply become the party of the super-rich and the corporate structure, with a kind of a lock-step uniformity – like everybody has to sign a catechism and so on. That’s not a political party…

          The Grover Norquist pledge.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      I think so too, I was disappointed by the number of people I asked if they were voting and that they were not, and they had no interest, like it was a pain in the butt.

      We couldn’t even get people to vote for an expanded bottle bill here where I am. People want to have the right to throw their plastic bottles anywhere they want. Or perhaps it was a push by beverage companies and supermarkets. The opposition called it ‘forced’ deposits! That’s the new hook, make people feel like there’s too much government intruding into their lives. The ads said we have a recycling program in place, but failed to mention that most people don’t recycle here in my state. I don’t understand why people have become so anti-environment.

      I recycle like a madwoman and donate my returnable cans/bottles to the local kids’ baseball camp fund. How can you go wrong with that?

      • avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

        I recycle like a madwoman
        +++

        +1

        • avatar Ida Lupines says:

          🙂

          I’m still fuming at Coca-cola for making a big splash about saving polar bears, but blocking keeping plastic bottles out of the Grand Canyon. When plastic bottles and plastic grocery bags are gone from the environment, I’ll be very happy.

  18. avatar Ken Watts says:

    The exit polls clearly showed that the number one issue with voters was the enconomy. My vote was totally influenced by this issue and threats to my home and way of life. Voters must believe that the republicans are best positioned to address the encomony?

    • avatar John Philip says:

      I don’t know why any voter would think that the Republicans are best positioned to address the economy. They’ve been spectacularly wrong every step of the way. I won’t go on, though. This isn’t the place. But thank you Ralph for all of your efforts and a sober read on our lot.

      • avatar timz says:

        Please tell us where they’ve been wrong, they haven’t done anything. But we could sure talk about stagnant and declining wages under Obumber if you would like. Or are you another HB and just make stuff up.

        • avatar HB says:

          Timz you think the rich care about you? It will only get worse if Republicans take control.

          • avatar timz says:

            I don’t expect the rich to care about me, and I could care less about them. What does that have to do with your claim it’s the republicans tying up the senate when anybody that’s paying attention knows it’s Harry Reid.

        • avatar john philip says:

          Well, let’s see … In 2006, there was no such thing as a housing bubble. In 2007, there was no problem, it’s those people with sub-prime mortgages and it won’t spread to the rest of the economy. In 2009, it was Fannie and Freddie that caused the crash. In 2010, the federal budget deficit was our biggest problem and brakes on federal spending would do the trick. Since 2009, hyperinflation has been just around the corner. Continuing through today, all we need is less regulation and less taxes and everything will be fine.

          We had most of this stuff figured out following the Great Depression. We’ve been busy unlearning and undoing everything we’d learned for awhile now. It’s sad.

  19. avatar Mareks Vilkins says:

    Thomas Ferguson: How to Take Back Our Political System From the 1%

    The following has been adapted from a version of a speech delivered to Occupy Boston by Thomas Ferguson, the father of the “Investment Theory of Politics.”

    http://www.alternet.org/story/152960/thomas_ferguson%3A_how_to_take_back_our_political_system_from_the_1

  20. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    The political paradox of ballot initiatives that raised the minimum wage, restricted fracking, and legalized pot whilst voters went ahead and elected Republicans would tend to suggest that voters see Democrats as ineffectual political leaders.

    That makes sense. Democrats *are* ineffectual leaders. There are plenty of levers to pull to pass policy that usurp Republicans’ procedural obstruction. Democrats, in a perpetual paralysis for fear of how it will look next election, have largely refused to use these levers.

    Perhaps it’s time Democrats took a hard look at how being weak will effect them next election cycle. Unfortunately, I suspect they’re all too happy to play as the default benefactors of Republican over-reach, honing the excesses of Wall Street and the corporate agenda at the margins rather than leading with a People’s Agenda.

    • avatar timz says:

      Brian,
      Republican obstruction?
      “”Harry, let us vote, let’s do something. It’s easier for me to go home and explain what I voted for and against than to explain why I don’t vote at all,”
      Joe Mancini, Democrat Senator W.VA.

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Well said. I think people are tired of relying on the Democrats as a crutch by now.

  21. avatar JB says:

    Q: Why does Congress refuse to act on the threat of climate change? A: Gerrymandering and the rise of tea party conservatives. Period.

    “…68 percent of Democratic respondents ranked climate change as a “major threat,” compared with 25 percent of Republicans. That 43-point difference was the largest partisan split of nine “threat” areas…”

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/chasm-divides-parties-on-climate-change/article/2552599

    Obama’s response to congressional dillydallying: Use the EPA:

    http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/bd4379a92ceceeac8525735900400c27/5bb6d20668b9a18485257ceb00490c98!OpenDocument

    • avatar Ida Lupines says:

      Obama and the Democrats have done not much but talk about climate change and use it to set themselves apart from the Republicans, just like every other issue – and more and more land and sea is being opened up for drilling and fracking. Have we not wanted to acknowledge this because it is the Democrats doing it?

      Even the Interior Dept. and Director of Fish and Wildlife say not much is known definitively as far as protecting wildlife from climate change! Love the doublethink there.

      • avatar Ida Lupines says:

        And just for the record, I can’t stand either party. I vote Independent now.

      • avatar JB says:

        Ida:

        Here are the new rules the EPA proposed to deal with climate change: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/06/18/2014-13726/carbon-pollution-emission-guidelines-for-existing-stationary-sources-electric-utility-generating

        The use of EPA rule-making by the administration is a response to Congresses’ failure to act. The reason Congress failed to act is that the House was/is controlled by conservatives who can’t make it out of their primaries if they support climate change legislation (see the poll I posted directly above). The Senate was controlled by Democrats, but they did not have the votes needed to overcome Republican opposition.

        So conservatives wring their hands about terrorism, ebola and the economy, and steadfastly refuse to accept the greater long-term threat: climate change.

        As I’ve said in the past, natural resources issues (like wildlife, forest mgmt., etc.) are perceived and acted upon differently by lawmakers and the President (no matter who is in office). Some seem incapable of understanding this…or perhaps they don’t want to understand it?

        • avatar Ida Lupines says:

          What about increased drilling for oil and the US becoming the top exporter? What about the Interior Dept. and US Fish & Wildlife who don’t seem to see climate change as a threat? What about no action on Keystone?

          • avatar JB says:

            Can you ask a more precise question? Dissertations could be written about each of the subjects you mention.

            In reality, all of these decisions are political in nature. I fully expect the administration to cave on Keystone; they’ve been holding on to it for a reason–political leverage. So they’ll wait to get something else for it. That is the way politics work (for better and worse). NPR reported yesterday that the effect of the EPA’s rules on cleaning up emissions will absolutely dwarf the impact of Keystone, BTW.

            The FWS certainly sees climate change as a threat? Not sure what you’re relying upon for this assertion? Perhaps the grizzly bear/wolverine decisions? If so, suffice it to say that there are other policy considerations that impacted those decisions. (And BTW–I’m the last person to defend FWS’s recent policy-making. But failure to acknowledge climate change isn’t the problem; the problem is a shrinking budget, increased demand for their services, and a hostile Congress.)

            Finally, our use of fossil fuels isn’t going to stop overnight. The administration has pushed for greater regulation of greenhouse gases and more sources of green energy in an attempt to move us away from fossil fuels; but they’ve also had to be sensitive politically to the critique that their policies are ‘bad for the economy’ (note: as we’ve learned with climate change, an assertion need not be true to have a political impact).

            Of course, none of these political realities will mean anything to the ideologically faithful.

          • avatar Yvette says:

            Ida, I disagree that nothing is being addressed on climate change. I thought the same thing back in 2010, but as I was reading this report I realized they were actually addressing it. Not so much via mitigation, but with more focus on adaptation. At the time, I suspected the powers that be knew mitigation would be hard to pass in this very CC denying country, so they were going to primarily focus on adaptation. (my opinion only)

            This is the report:
            http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ceq/Interagency-Climate-Change-Adaptation-Progress-Report.pdf

            There is much more here, http://www.globalchange.gov/browse/federal-adaptation-resources/strategies-reports-and-plans

            Also, the USFWS is definitely addressing CC with the development of a new strategy, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives. http://www.fws.gov/landscape-conservation/lcc.html

            And trust me, the US military complex is most certainly gearing up for the future battles (both globally and domestically) that will arise from the effects of CC. http://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/download/CCARprint.pdf

            At one time, I couldn’t figure out why the politicos were too dense to address this threat. I knew they weren’t that stupid. They aren’t. They are preparing, but not so much with a focus on mitigation (which would hurt the oligarchy, and capitalistic interest, of course) so they appear to be focused on letting the chips fall where they may and on dealing with the fallout via our military might. Very slick, indeed.

            However, multiple agencies are trying to address it the best they can in this ‘intelligent design’ political world. I commend the USFWS on their work with the LCC. There is only so much any federal agency can do (and they do give a chit, really, they do) when the country is run by the 1%’ers and ‘intelligent design’ politicos like Jim Inhofe and Ted Cruz.

            Have fun exploring the links. There are a ton of reports you can read and this is just a start!

            • avatar Ida Lupines says:

              I don’t agree. Adaptation doesn’t address it properly for me; mitigation does. I am extremely disappointed in the direction we are headed, with large scale solar and wind (but perhaps with Harry Reid’s ‘demotion’, the deserts will be a little safer?). They are doing nothing for wildlife’s ‘adaptation, only human. That means, to me, continuing to use fossil fuels, which we can observe.

              President Obama can’t make any claims for fuel standards and increased fuel econonmy, as he is continuing what other Administrations have started, and he would look pretty bad if he didn’t. It’s still painfully inadequate because it doesn’t address trucks, busses and heavy equipment emissions, and even at best it is only treading water as our population continues to grow and we buy more automobiles such as pickup trucks and SUVs, still the top sellers. Sticking a green label on them is only greenwashing.

              It really isn’t an ‘intelligent design’ world. Those people are still, thankfully, a minority. It’s a ‘go for yourself’ world, and people don’t want to give up their creature comforts.

              As JB said and anyone can see, President Obama using Keystone for advantageous political maneuverings instead of doing what’s right for the planet is just same-old, same-old, and shameful.

              • avatar Ida Lupines says:

                In fact, I would go further in saying that because of the Democrats’ weakness, it has allowed the state this country is in, with the Imhofes, Cruz, Otters and Walkers, et al.

                I didn’t even bother to waste my time with the gun control debate. Any window of opportunity we might have had is gone. This is the way our country is, and wants to be.

              • avatar Yvette says:

                Ida, the ‘intelligent design’ folks are the majority in my region. I’ve had a conversation with a ‘friend’ of a friend who didn’t believe in evolution. The only reference she would use was the bible and her religious beliefs. That is the majority of the belief system from the deep south to the southern plains, KS and TX.

                I didn’t say that adaptation was the right answer. I just wanted you to know that things are being addressed to some degree. I’m not sure if I mentioned it in my earlier post, but my belief is that those who govern and those who pay to put the politicians in office fully intend to let all of us go down. People, animals, and ecosystems. They don’t give a damn about anything other than money and power.

  22. avatar rork says:

    I found Ralph’s article pretty good. I do think frightening things like Ebola and reporter beheadings mattered, even though in the larger view, those are trivia. I’ve not heard that quantified much.
    As for being anti-science, I’m way left and think we should admit our share of being anti-science too, cause that would be the healthy attitude. Take each issue individually without hurling anti-science about. Our kids education is a special area of concern, and one of those issues.

  23. avatar Jake Jenson says:

    Both parties take turns ripping us off. That said, Obama and Democrats are the party in power. It’s their turn to take the blame right along with the spoils.

  24. avatar Yvette says:

    I already knew Jim Inhofe would chair the Environmental and Public Works Committee, and that is scary enough, but Ted Cruz to chair the Subcommittee on Science and Space adds to the nightmare.

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120180/climate-denier-ted-cruz-may-lead-senate-science-subcommittee

    Before it’s over they will have a committee on ‘intelligent design’. Who wants to bet that Ted Cruz will throw in his hat for President?

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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