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...

11 Dec 2017

Roy Moore's Broken Oath
Amending our Constitution is very difficult (as it should be), but 17 Amendments have been ratified since the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. Some of them are rather integral to our democracy, and valued across the political spectrum, but apparently Roy Moore thinks getting rid of all 17 would "eliminate many problems". Moore's Troubling Interview with Blight Wing Conspiracy Theorist A few years back, Roy Moore went on a controversial radio program and said some rather disturbing things. This radio host believes not only in a range of conspiracy theories that place him, along with Moore, squarely in what I call the 'blight wing' (the very worst elements of the extreme right), but he even thinks a Constitutional Amendment should be passed that would erase all of the Amendments past the first ten / Bill of Rights. Sorry ladies - no vote for you, and what could possibly be wrong about getting rid of the ban on slavery...? Roy Moore, who had...

06 Dec 2017

susan collins with capital dome
A couple days ago, centrists were disappointed to hear that center-right Republican Susan Collins ended up voting for the atrocious tax bill Republicans have been pushing for weeks. The reason she gave for voting that way has been shown to be an empty promise, so will she change her vote? Susan Collins' Disappointing, but Not Surprising, Tax Vote For weeks before the vote in question, Susan Collins had been publicly on the fence. One can never really know what a politician is secretly thinking, but - perhaps feeling pressure from her party after voting against them so much recently - it seemed as though she was looking for reasons to vote for this bill. Disappointing as her vote was, especially given conflicting stances she's taken in the past about the national debt and deficit spending, this is going to happen sometimes with moderates who lean one way or the other (and illustrates why we need more than a few centrists for the fulcrum strate...

27 Oct 2017

aceFCC Changes to Local TV News It looks like Trump’s FCC will change ownership rules for local TV and media outlets. How do we look at this as a nation hoping for an informed public? I see three ways: This is inevitable. It seems scary. (However) There is opportunity. So, is it inevitable? Why does this move by the FCC make economic sense? Most TV news stations are moving digitally. The majority of the audience relies on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Already, local TV stations are broadcasting emergency broadcasts and shows solely on Facebook Live or Periscope – bypassing traditional airwaves. Many TV stations cannot compete with Facebook or Google for ad revenue since online ads are cheaper and more targeted for advertisers. So the TV stations are saying “can’t beat ‘em, then join them.” This is routine consolidation survival for any industry. Revenues drop, so then you join a competitor and create a better product....

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...

15 Aug 2011

Cut out almost every income tax loophole, make all income (capital gains on investments included) taxed using the same simple model, lower rates across the board (especially for lower and middle income earners - where the money will mostly go to boosting demand, where the economy is weakest right now) and put at least half of the savings towards cutting the deficit. Common sense ideas like this are how we could, in one fell swoop, make the tax system more fair, cut deficit spending and stimulate the economy where it needs stimulation - if we lived in a saner world. Fellow Omaha resident Warren Buffett (whose house I used to walk by often, having no idea it was his) talked at length about part of this equation in an op-ed in the New York Time on Sunday, saying that we need to "stop coddling the super-rich". I would have gone farther, saying we need to stop giving special deals to anyone. For example, why should investment income be treated any ...

07 Aug 2011

In his usual rare form, Fareed Zakaria's monologue on the budget deficits, debt and credit rating this week cut to the heart of the issue. People are complaining up and down about the S&P downgrading our federal credit rating - which is likely to cost us hundreds of billions in increased debt payments and will damage our economy to an extent that can't be known until later, but many of them have been saying the exact same things that the S&P gave as their reasoning behind the credit downgrade. Really what it comes down to is people don't want to accept the reality of the situation that we're in. The fact of the matter is, the S&P's analysis is absolutely sound. Zakaria explains by saying that our leaders in Washington have demonstrated that our political system is broken, and that because the ideological and/or partisan zealots refuse to budge on issues that are required to be worked on if we want to start shrinking our deficits - ...

14 May 2011

David Brooks' column from a few days ago makes a good point. We're not going to get some in depth and substantive compromise hammered out in just a few weeks - there just isn't enough time - but something more simple is possible, and could even be better in the long run. Not that we could reasonably expect the blind partisans running the two major parties to do something so logical, but if they chose to they have the power to make something like this happen: Congress won’t be able to produce specific program cuts and policy reforms in the next few weeks, but it can come up with structural rules that will obligate future Congresses to make cuts and reforms for years ahead. The important argument now is over what kind of restrictions to impose on future Congresses. (This by itself is a sign of just how far rightward the debate has shifted). Republicans and a few moderate Democrats are rallying behind a spending cap plan, co-sponsored in the Sen...

14 May 2011

Have you flown recently in a commercial airliner?  If so, who did you see the most in the airport? It was not the passengers on your flight.  It was not the airline ticketing and baggage check personnel.  It was not the vendors and shop keepers who are all over airports these days. It was members of Homeland Security, the smiling TSA (Transportation Security Administration) agents.  They are everywhere.  They check your ID.  They screen your hand bags, and for good measure, they pat you down. To the department’s credit, they are all polite and professional.  They appear to take their jobs seriously.  Their physical appearance is neat and orderly.  They are, in a nut shell, what a government worker should look like. So what is the issue? There are several.  All these people earn salaries and benefits.  This means our ticket fees and taxes are higher. In performing their duties they unnecessarily slow down the process of getting from...