14 Feb 2018

Partisan Realignment and Third Parties
It's Third Party Season! With the 2018 mid-terms and 2020 presidential elections far enough in the future that candidates are not yet locked in, third party hopes spring eternal in the centrist breast. A hope that there just might be a viable alternative to the usual Republican and Democratic choices they find so disheartening. A hope that it might be different this time. And you know what? It just might be ... Thesis: In the United States, third parties always fail. But, on rare occasions in our history, with the right conditions, a New Party can successfully gut, destroy and replace one of the two major parties. This could be that time. Here are two steps necessary to make a New Party a Major Party: Step One: Do not call your New Party a "Third Party." Calling it a "Third Party" guarantees failure.  History tells us that U.S. Third Parties always fail. Meaning they: Do not fulfill the political objectives of their supporters. Never bec...

12 Jan 2018

dividist Trump banner
Outside of the Mueller investigation, the biggest political question of 2018 is whether Democrats can ride a widely anticipated Blue Wave into a majority in Congress and divide the government. There are similarities to the mid-term wave elections that flipped Congress in 2006 and 2010. Many compare the stunning Senate special election victory of Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore in crimson red Alabama to the equally stunning 2010 victory of Republican Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley in deep blue Massachusetts. Does the Jones win point to a 2018 political tsunami like the Brown election foreshadowed a 2010 red wave? Maybe. In both cases, the long shot won with the help of a seriously flawed opposition candidate. In Alabama Roy Moore was accused of sexual impropriety with minors, and in Massachusetts Martha Coakley called Curt Schilling a "Yankee fan." This is, of course, not a fair comparison. Coakley's faux pas was far mor...

16 Aug 2017

By all accounts, Barack Obama was (legislatively) doomed before he ever took office. And it wasn't just because the financial sector was in near ruins, the economy was near meltdown, and we were off fighting wars. It was because in the face of all this Obama was going to have to face most of these challenges without any help from the opposition party. We know this because of a meeting of great consequence held by GOP leadership shortly after Obama's election in 2008. As they huddled in a panic over what the party would do next, they departed in solidarity, entering a pact to obstruct the president-elect by any means necessary. Someone even wrote a book about it. But back to Obamacare. Not only did the GOP campaign relentlessly on its repeal and replacement (with much electoral success!), but they voted to do so over 50 times while Obama was still in office. And did so even though they did not have the veto-proof majority needed to override the pr...

16 Aug 2017

Many in in America have become familiar with the term “fake news” in recent years. Whether it’s being shouted by President Donald Trump against the “liberal media establishment” or by liberal or progressives towards conservative media organizations, it has become the theme of a nonstop series of accusations. More than ever, America is polarizing itself along regional, economic, and ideological lines. The middle ground of bipartisanship and common ground is disappearing rapidly. People on both sides, caught in the polarization surrounding them, have become more divided than ever in recent times over basic facts. This has lead to a dangerously increasing rejection of the opinions and concerns of the opposite side, which has been at the very center of the issue of “fake news”. [caption id="attachment_7300" align="alignnone" width="948"] Promoted from our centrist community blog - by Oscar Berry[/caption] The President has only added fuel to th...

08 May 2011

Gasoline prices are rising. There seems to be no end to the almost daily increases. At week end, the average US price of a gallon of regular gasoline was almost $4.00. For many, this is an ugly slap in the face. For others, it is another sign of the vanishing American dream. There are some important lessons, however, wrapped up in this situation. First, most of us do not have a clue how the price of gasoline is established in the first place. We show up at the gas station and there is a price on the machine. Pay it or go without. But, how did it get so high? We are told that the price of gasoline is rising, due to this reason or that. The simplest answer is to look at oil prices. The higher oil prices rise, voila, higher gasoline prices go. While this is basically true there is much more to the story. For example, supply and demand can explain rising oil prices. Oil producing countries deliberately determine how much oil is available. Co...

05 May 2011

Bravo to the Project on Government Oversight for catching this. Open government groups have been frustrated with the Obama administration, after promising campaign rhetoric and some early moves by the President that he deserves praise for led to a plateau. Some of this may be explained with some comments that the woman he had in charge of his "Open Government Directive" made recently. From the Project on Open Government: I thought "open government" was such a simple concept—that the "what" and the "why" were not really complicated. We want to see what the government is doing so that we can make sure it is doing it well and doing it for the right reasons. Boy was I wrong. In fact, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is quite a different perception not only of what open government means, but also of why we want it and how to get it. And it looks like at least some of the people on the inside who have been calling the shots have an e...

21 Jan 2011

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has a short white paper out, breaking down the Republicans' spending rules, which they dub CUTGO. The idea is supposed to be that they will not just pay for any new spending, but should have to find spending cuts to do so. There are some genuinely good ideas here, such as creating lock boxes to make sure funds freed up by budget trimming go to deficit reduction, not new spending. Al Gore jokes aside, the rules are a complete sham. They make it harder to spend more on things they don't like, but make it easier to dig an even deeper deficit hole on tax cuts we cannot afford. Page three on the document embedded below is a good summary of what is wrong with this. Read the whole thing if you'd like to get a peek into what the GOP really plans on pushing the next couple years, and how we're lucky they don't have a monopoly on power like they had before 2006 (same with the Dems... their PAYGO rules were ...

04 Aug 2010

Scott Winship hits the nail on the head here: Everyone’s approvingly linking to this Edward Luce piece on “the crisis of middle-class America”.  I want to set myself on fire. Seriously, it’s discouraging to see so many people who should know better (because they’ve argued these points with me before) promoting this article.  I can’t think of another piece in the doomsday genre—and there are many—that gets it so consistently wrong. I'm sick and tired of seeing the same damn doom and gloom. I can walk down the street and find some people who's lives are in shambles for one reason or another, but I can walk next door and find a family that is doing just fine. As usual, the partisan media cares more about selling emotional copy, to weaponize against those they disagree with, than getting an accurate glimpse of what is going on. Things aren't great, but they've been worse, and they're getting better. This isn't about being centrist - this is abo...

03 Aug 2010

This is way over my head, but it sounds promising. Apparently one of the biggest pollutants that has some of the most impact on rising temperatures is... not carbon dioxide... but soot. Not only that, but the technology already exists, and isn't terribly expensive, to filter most soot from power plants, cars and whatnot. Not only that, but doing these things would have a fairly quick effect on things, since soot stays in the atmosphere much less longer than carbon dioxide, which stays up there for years and years. “Soot has such a strong climate effect, but it has a lifetime in the atmosphere of just a few weeks. Carbon dioxide has a lifetime of 30 to 50 years. If you totally stop CO2 emissions today, the Arctic will still be totally melted,” said Stanford University climate scientist Mark Jacobson. If soot pollution is immediately curtailed, “the reductions start to occur pretty much right away. Within months, you’ll start seeing temperature di...