Monday, November 10, 2014

Powder Burns

Cheer up, Liberals.

I strongly suspect the ongoing GOP victory dance will be short lived.

The last time Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency, we got, hmmm, well, okay, lets see, we got the worst terrorist attack in history followed by two wars, one of which turned out to be under false pretexts but what the heck, right? So long as we’re bombing brown people, it’s all good. And hey, it wasn’t all for nothing, we got the Great Recession sparked by the mortgage industry collapse followed by a complete implosion of the investment banking industry which led to record high unemployment rates.  So, then Republicans cut taxes and borrowed a couple trillion from China and deferred the payments to the next administration and America went from a budget surplus to the biggest debt increase since Reagan. The good news, of course, was that recession and war had almost no effect whatsoever on the rich and they grew enormously more wealthy from their failed business ventures while either blowing up our jobs or shipping them to India.  And that’s the real difference between the Great Depression and the Great Recession: In a depression the rich take to jumping out windows and swallowing bullets, in a recession they just get richer while the rest of us lose our homes and livelihoods.

What I’m saying here is that last time Republicans were in charge? Think back, what happened? What did we get?

Yeah, we got America’s first black liberal president.

In a landslide.


Not everybody thought that was a good thing, but the tide of history would say that’s progress and America lurched just a little further up the beach and away from the primordial ooze.

Now, yes, once Democrats took over the White House and the Congress, they then proceeded to screw it up. Because, well, that’s what political parties do, shoot themselves in the foot, sooner or later.  Every time.

However, last time, liberals being not quite as skilled with firearms as their conservative counterparts, they didn’t quite blow the appendage off like the Republicans before them. Still, first they lost the House and then when that didn’t learn them, they lost the Senate.

And so the wheel has turned yet again and Republicans are back on top.

Now, being politicians, Republicans, of course, learned absolutely nothing from the last go ‘round, last two go ‘rounds, last three, four, five, okay, ever. And this morning they’re already twirling their pistols and shooting up into the air like drunken rednecks on the 4th of July.

But it’s only a matter of time.  Likely Conservatives will shoot themselves sooner rather than later since most of the reasonable Republicans are long, long gone, leaving lunatics like Ted Cruz to run the asylum.

With Cruz and his impeachment talk, you can already hear the click click of the hammer cocking.

The previous piece here on Stonekettle Station, Ted Nugent Is Just Fine And So Are You, was widely shared.

As is usual when this sort of thing happens, in response I get a lot of email and social media messages. 

In this case, I got the usual unhinged poorly-worded spelling-optional yellow-eyed threats of death and damnation. And of course I got the expected deluge of gloating from smugly joyous conservatives celebrating the fact that their fickle God finally granted their grubby prayers and hallelujah amen!  I also got a large volume of angry agreement from Liberals, mad their party crapped out, as they fully expected it to do, but still, it does tend to piss people off when their favorite team just gives up ten minutes into the playoffs. I expected liberals to be angry, and they should be.

It appears Democrats take it as a given that Obama will ride out his last two years as a lame duck, becoming more and more bitter and hated and ineffective.

They’re already looking to Hillary Clinton in 2016 as their savior.

"My only concern is if the Clintons can overcome his [Obama's] negative approval rating [in 2016, if Hillary decides to run for the Oval Office]"

My only concern…


I saw that comment on Facebook under a share of the Ted Nugent essay.

The commenter isn't the only one afflicted with Obama Disillusionment Syndrome. I've gotten a number of comments and emails like this from liberals (or non-conservatives anyway) determined to pessimism. A lot of these folks seem to believe the Democrats were right to distance themselves from the President during the recent election, and in fact they seem to feel that the only reason Democrats didn't win was because they didn't distance themselves enough.

If only Democrats had been more … Republican, they would have won. How that would be a good thing is beyond me, but there you go.

Liberals lost the House in 2010, they lost the Senate last week, and they've lost faith in Obama.

Democrats are filled with doom and gloom and they're sure the country is headed into the crapper. The only thing that can save us is Hillary.

But now having abandoned their president, liberals are desperately afraid Obama will lose them the White House in 2016 and they're just so terribly depressed over it all.

This amuses me.

It amuses me because the vast, vast majority of the liberals moping around America today didn’t bother to vote – well, not unless pot was on the ballot. A lot of conservatives didn’t either, but liberals overwhelmingly stayed home. And as I’ve said repeatedly, if you don’t vote, you voted. 

If you didn’t vote, democrats, then you voted for the republican candidate.

If you didn’t vote, then you voted for the Tea Party.

You voted to restrict a woman’s right to choose.

You voted to spend trillions on a giant wall across Mexico.

You voted for war.

You voted to let poor people go hungry.

You voted to take away your own healthcare.

You voted to give the NRA free rein.

You voted to give the Koch Brothers a tax break.

You voted to let the seas rise and planet warm.

You voted to replace science in the classroom with creationism.

You voted for the Keystone Pipeline and you voted to drill in ANWR.

You voted to ensure the next Supreme Court Justice is a conservative.

You voted to send more of your own jobs overseas.

But hey, don’t feel bad, you got legal weed, that ought to help blunt the pain a bit.

And now? Now Liberals are worried that the guy they abandoned, that the Congress they put in place through their inaction and apathy, will lose them the White House two years from now.

As I said, this amuses me.

It amuses me for a number of reasons.

President Obama is currently looking at a 41% job approval rating, not great, not terrible. For reference refer to G.W. Bush's approval rating at the same point in his second term, or his low point which was right around 25% (which is even worse when you realize that Bush's high point, right after 911, was in the 90s). If Obama’s approval rating is anemic, Bush’s was downright manic depressive.

Obama is looking at 41% approval and about a 53.3% disapproval rating, a mere 11 point spread. That really isn't much. And while it isn't great, it honestly isn't all that bad either. In fact, it's about average for both Republicans and Democrats at this point in their second term.

Meanwhile, Congress' approval rating has been hovering in the single digits.

Today it's 12% with an 80% disapproval rating, nearly a 67 point spread with much of that directed at the Republican led House.

And yet, the House picked up Republican seats and the Senate swung to the right. Mostly because the public is dissatisfied with the direction of the country and blames whoever they're told to blame by media and politicians and their fickle fickle gut. Moreover, we always blame the president, any president.

And most of all, as I’ve already mentioned, because while Americans love to bitch and complain about their government, they typically won't get off their apathetic asses for the mid-terms and take responsibility for their own governance.

But, I don't think you have to worry about Hillary Clinton overcoming Obama's approval rating – one way or the other.

Voters have short term memories. More, we tend to live in the now, each election is a decision largely unto itself. Barack Obama easily beat his Republican opponents in 2008 and 2012.

Why? Because last time Republicans were in charge, they shot themselves in the foot.

When Democrats were last on top, the worst thing that happened was America got a crappy healthcare law.

But when Republicans were last in charge, we got two wars and a ruined economy.

Come 2016, you don't have to worry about overcoming Obama's approval rating.

If history is any guide, Republicans will do that all by themselves.

Painful? You bet it’s going to be painful.

These next two years are going to be extremely painful.

But that’s the price you pay when you stay home.


  1. Good practical thinking. Thanks :)

  2. Maybe if the Democrats had sent someone to jail they might have gotten re-elected. Just putting a bullet in BL's head just wasn't enough.


    1. I thought that article was excellent. Wether it will accomplish anything.. ? Brava Ms. Fleischmann.

    2. To be absolutely clear. Holder (Obama) paved the way for these Wall Street so-and-so's to get away with it.

      It's hard to think there's anyone in Washington thinking long-term about the good of the country and of it's citizens.

  3. Most Democratic voters act like children: if you don't offer them candy (something sweet and wonderful they can vote FOR) then they aren't interested.

    Most Republican voters act like soldiers: their leaders tell 'em to vote so they get up off their asses to vote, rain or shine, whether they like the person their voting for or can't stand the sight of him or her.

    Democrats need to grow up. Until they do this country will remain in the swamp. It's not Obama's fault, and it's not the Republican's fault. It's all on the Democrats who couldn't be fucked to vote because nobody offered them any sweeties.


    1. That's funny, some would say exactly the opposite

  4. Brilliant and absolutely on target.

  5. Dead on. If we don't vote, we don't win.

    1. It's like the hoary old joke about the religious guy who's life isn't working out, he has debts for all kinds of things that he had to do to help his family and his friends, he's suffering a lot, and worried and one day he gets fed up and shouts at God: Come on, God! I've been so good! I've kept all your commandments! I've gone without, I've lived with pain, I've not complained, and yet, even though I am one of your most devoted worshipers, and all I need is a bit of money to make things right, every week I don't win the lottery! Week in week out, year in year out, I pray to you please please please could I win the lottery! Not even the jackpot, just enough to get my head above water! I pray and pray, but I never win! How can you be so cruel! It would be so easy for you, and so helpful for me, and I pray and pray, and yet.... nothing. Ever.

      And then God Himself answers from the heavens: HOW ABOUT JUST ONCE YOU WORK WITH ME AND BUY A FUCKING TICKET!

  6. That damned pony's in there somewhere!

  7. Hey, don't point fingers at me--I voted! I always vote. I vote in the smallest, most obscure locals elections there are, and I vote even when there is only one person running (believe it or not, in NYC this election, more than half the people running were running unopposed). And why not? The less anyone else cares about an election, the more my vote matters!

    Besides, not bothering to vote is perilously close to not being allowed to vote.

    If it comes down to it, Obama has actually done quite a good job, especially considering the obstructionism rampart in Washington these past 6 years. I would have liked him to skew more liberal, to have been more hard-line, especially at first--but that's me wanting idealism, not pragmatism, and my head knows that pragmatism wins more often than idealism.

    1. I'm with you. I have voted in every election since I registered when I turned 21. Since my birthday was two weeks after the election, I registered so that I'd be ready for the next election. I've always considered voting and jury duty as two of the bedrock responsibilities of a citizen. Besides, if you don't vote, you don't have any standing for complaining about our elected officials.

    2. Never, ever didn"t vote in 50 years- used to be a Republican but no more

    3. I've voted in all major elections and a good amount of minor ones over the last 41 years. I can't imagine not voting. It's one of the virtues of citizenship my mother raised me with.

    4. It's really hard in Idaho to find out FACTS about candidates. I like to go back and see their voting record, see who they supported etc. One reason GOP wins here is that the media tells the big lies for them and shows the smiling face of the Gov who gave away our children's future to the highest bidders. so that's who the followers voted for.

  8. Absolutely correct. Reminds me of the PP&M song, "when will they ever learn...." And yes, the next two years will be painful. But as I posted elsewhere last night:
    I am done being depressed and angry, and am looking forward to seeing what President Obama gets done in the coming years. He knows how to work the GOP, and will continue to throw it back in their laps. I have no doubt they will accomplish nothing, but certainly will be even a bigger PIA. Anyone who thinks this president will accept “lame duck” status has NOT been paying attention to this man!

    1. The President is not running for reelection. There are no national elections between now and 2016. He has nothing to lose. He's extremely smart and has accomplished a tremendous amount thus far, despite the GOP obstruction AND with reelections to worry about.

      That makes him a very dangerous opponent.

    2. I have voted in every election for the last 45 years. We took our kids to the polls to teach them. They voted. We need a kick-a** candidate for 2016. A hell raising liz warren or bernie sanders. Winfield100@yahoo-dot-com

  9. I'm sure a lot of counties are headed into the crapper, but I think you were aiming to include the entire country in that comment. As always, you are right on the money. As always, thanks for standing up and speaking out. Martha Zimmerman

  10. My take, not inconsistent with yours, is that the Dems did not lose on the issues the Dems lost on rage. Employment is back, two wars have wound down, the stock market is up and marrying who you want is approved by almost everyone. Still people are pissed. Most people, issue by issue, agree with the Democrats. But put an ugly name on it and rant for six years about how terrible it is and it makes an impression with the voters. The non-voters could not find polling place even if you drew them a map to the building next door.

    If you hate Obamacare fine but if asked if you approve of the individual changes people say YES big time. Is Obamacare perfect? Fuck no it sucks. The only way it got passed was to give the insurance companies a big gift with a bow. Millions more people to insure on the governments dime. Yes I'm sure they will take care of us. Haven't they always? I'm thrilled we enjoy a free market. ROFL

    The major issue was jobs. The jobs are mostly back but the pay isn't. I wonder how that could happen. Maybe after the GOP tanked the economy the employers figured out how to get things done without American workers. The reflex when people are uncertain about their future is to throw out the bastards. Any bastard. Oh yeah FOX News made a big impression on day drinkers. I take heart that the next Senate cycle will have a more favorable environment with contest in states that give actually shit about our future. Benghazi? I'm holding my gut laughing.

  11. Even worse is when the local excuse for a Democratic Party doesn't even have a candidate for State House or State Senate so even if you vote the straight party ticket you STILL vote for 2 Republicans.

  12. If liberals really care about how elections turn out for them, it's time to put away the checkbook and put on the mantle of citizenship. Seriously, it goes beyond getting off our asses and voting and/or donating money and leads right to participation in our own governance, from the bottom up.

    Take Wisconsin for example. Democratic party chairman Mike Tate has been reliably losing elections for us for over a decade now, most notably the most recent three gubernatorial contests against Bald Spot Scott. Yet somehow, he still has a job. Seriously, if we want things to change, it's time to join the party, go to the meetings, put in our two cents and find somebody who knows how to win, represent our interests, and in short, govern.

  13. I just started following you, Jim - turned on to you by a FB friend. All the above is good; to my mind the crucial point is "Voters have short term memories." I commented on someone's post re: the election as follows: "Most voters act like they're playing Coke/Pepsi at a party. They run back and forth, never really sure what they're running to or from, but sure they're going to win! They don't know *what* they're going to win, just win."

  14. "It amuses me because the vast, vast majority of the liberals moping around America today didn’t bother to vote – well, not unless pot was on the ballot."

    Yep--because the right to smoke weed trumps a woman's right to choose, my voting rights and the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities, and a whole other kettle of stuff.

    Great essay, as always, Jim. But like you said:

    "These next two years are going to be extremely painful.

    But that’s the price you pay when you stay home."

    It's funny how some far Left progressives still don't get this. Even after 2010.

    Well, I have them to thank when impeachment comes down....

  15. No, the jobs aren't back. And I know quite a few people who say they lost their health plans or whose costs went up significantly. And I live in Houston, which is supposedly the job creation leader of the country. Sure, their old plans were probably pretty limited, and of course they're supposed to pay more. That's what makes it possible to cover the previously uninsurable. Wendy Davis just proved that you can't win just by being smart, articulate, and female. There has been a lot of hand-wringing about the Dems lack of, oh, I don't know, spine, courage, loyalty to the President, message, organization, whatever. But I haven't heard anyone describe what seems to be the elephant in the room (pun not really intentional, but I'll take it anyway) There are a lot of people in the South and Southwest who are 1.) scared of illegal immigration out of all proportion to the problem and 2.) DEEPLY religious and actually opposed to gay marriage, abortion, or any place were any kind of public policy might impact any Christian-based belief, no matter how peripherally. It's a plain and simple numbers/majority problem. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Hillary is not an obvious winner. Unless the Pubs mess up so much in the next two years that it's painfully obvious that even the reddest of red-state dwellers is noticeably worse off, I think they can pull it off if they run a reasonably attractive (to their base) candidate like Rand Paul (who I went to high school with, although I barely knew him. He and his father Ron are deeply respected and admired in my home town) It'll be even worse if the President issues a bunch of big executive orders, like the immigration one that's in play. But I keep hearing about all these people who like Dem policies but vote Pub anyway because, I don't know, Jesus or America or something. I don't know any people like that.

  16. Much like the economy, politics is a pendulum. The time to worry is when it ceases to swing from one side to the other, and that is not what's happening at this point. I expect that Congress and the President will rage at each other in the media and then make deals, same as always. We may lose some ground in areas that matter to liberals, but that tends to be the only thing that makes them get up, stand up and vote.

    Democrats suck at messaging in general. Occasionally, you get one or two who are really good at it, and a slight cohesion forms, making it possible for them to win, but it never holds for very long. I'm not entirely sure that's a bad thing, though at the moment, it's highly irritating. Because I do vote. Every time. It's not that hard, which makes me angry at those who couldn't be arsed to go to the polling place and spend a little time expressing support for the ideals they're more than happy yawp about on the internet.

  17. I always vote, I even voted in the great Cat licensing ballot issue where 49 cat owners voted down the licensing requirement to the one lone dog owner who thought it wasn't fair spot had to be licensed by Pixel didn't. That one made the David Letterman show. ;)

    Jim Kepford
    White, sd

  18. I've heard recently that if the house and senate were controlled by Republicans then Obama could take steps to push "FDR type" programs through because that branch of government had a belligerent attitude towards working with the president. What is your opinion of what has to happen in this country in order to motivate Mr Obama in the direction this country obviously needs to move towards investing in this country, conserving the natural environment and investing in the future generations(public education)?

  19. I cringed every time I heard a liberal say "I'm going to make a point! I'm not voting! So, so...so there!" Yeah, they forgot that silence can't be heard.

  20. In 2016, we'll get the first woman neolib prez, by Stonekettle's logic, after the first black neolib. (He ain't a true lib.)

    I've already penciled in plans to vote Green, of course.

  21. I don't disagree, exactly, with the premise of the essay. BUT, I have to wonder about the whole radicalization of our political spectrum - which like it or not includes the GOP. There is a definite sense of a weapons race in the last 15-20 years of political discourse - or what passes for it - in this country. PACS, politics of celebrity destruction, Super-PACs, ALEC and The Tea Party, brings on whatever the liberal response was... And so far as I can see most of it doing nothing in terms of educating or persuading voters. All the average voter is hearing is so much noise. And I'm not saying that both are the same. I'm not at all certain what the answer is. But part of it has to be in real political leadership. The kind that is realist enough to build consensus on a number of issues without loosing the essential idealism that brought them into public service to begin with. Somebody someplace is going to have to stick his/her neck out and try to build national consensus. And do it in such a way that it cuts through the incredibly high noise-to-signal ratio. AND to make things just a bit tougher - they need to do it on a national scale such that the local people have something to coalesce around. Was JFK really able to do this? I'm too young to know from my experience and his presence is a little too recent yet I think to get a good historical sense of what he was able to accomplish. I think FDR did. And he may have been the last one.

    In SD I watched and supported the Dem candidate for Senate. He worked his butt off. Ran a wonderful campaign for close to 2 years on a shoestring budget. Six weeks or so before the election, he got some national publicity and that brought in money and PACs and Super Pacs flooding our TV stations with various advertising and much of it negative. The average voter did not notice all his hard work going for so long. The average voter noticed the negative advertizing, decided 'they are all the same' and cast a ballot in keeping with the general redness of the state. In the end the Dem candidate got barely 30% of ballots cast despite the GOP winner who has quite an ethics cloud over his head. Not that the average voter has much of a clue about that. Sigh.

    1. "Was JFK really able to do this?"

      Short answer: no. John Kennedy was not very good at building national consensus. Lyndon Johnson on the the other hand was better at it than just about anyone in office the 20th cent.

    2. As may be. Certainly the political story has JFK being a real charismatic leader. As for Johnson: Sure would like to see someone put US resources into NASA the way he did.

    3. No one would suggest JFK did not have charisma. But, ironically, his charisma probably made him a more divisive figure in politics. I was there: people had very strong opinions, for him and against him. Johnson never inspired much love, but he knew how to work the Congress, and how to get both sides to vote for the same bill. Johnson's undoing, his huge mistake of course was Vietnam. If he hadn't made the mistakes he made there popular history would remember him very differently. Kennedy talked big talk but didn't get much done in the few years he had in office; Johnson made good on much of Kennedy's promises, and then added some of his own.

  22. I disagree when you characterize Obama as being "liberal". He is a moderate republican, who knew he couldn't win on the republican ticket, so ran on the Dem ticket. Dems accepted him because he was a good, "clean" (no "history") candidate and they made the mistake of choosing their candidate as being a "winnable" Dem rather than due to his Dem policies.

    Now, Obama has never returned the favor and helped liberals and moderate Dems gain any ground. So. They aren't excited about him or his policies. (SHOCKED that he isn't "progressive" enough!) Most Dem candidates this past mid-term were "republican" lites - no spine, mealy mouthing undefinable platitudes so as not to alienate "potential" voters and "independents". They stood for nothing. So, they got nothing.

    At least the republicans offered up their usual: It is about racism for racists, it is about fear for the bed-wetters (Muslims! Islam!! Sharia Law!! EBOLA!), it is about control for the uninformed (the gov knows secrets we can't know so they are better to make ALL the decisions), it is about authoritarian male dominant gov for evangelicals (put those women and minorities in their place!).

  23. Voices like yours help me keep my perspective. Thanks so much.

  24. Is there a citation for the claim that the "vast majority" of liberals didn't vote?

    1. It's a safe conclusion: Only 36.4% of eligible voters turned out--and the Republicans won most races. (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/2014-midterm-election-turnout-lowest-in-70-years/) Therefore, unless a large majority of the Democrats who turned out voted Republican, at most a third of eligible Democrats turned out.

  25. I am so EFN disgusted with my party for not getting off their sorry arses to vote. WTF is wrong with you apathetic fools? Jim is spot on. Not voting is a vote for TEAPLE and their distorted and twisted policies. It's just that simple. If you don't understand what Jim is saying, let me tell you what he said means to me. For everything we do in life, we make decisions. Choosing not to do something is in and of itself a decision. Choosing not to vote doesn't make the problems go away. To the contrary, your choice not to vote has exacerbated an already tenuous political environment for the worse. Yes, it's gonna get much worse now that you chose not to vote. Because. You. Didn't. Vote.

  26. Before I read any comments, I want to say I am right there with you. You've more eloquently stated this time and again in columns leading up to his one. The why and how of stupid and moronic moves by supposedly democratic individuals. The lack of faith and the lack of standing tall with a president that has accomplished so much that media has ignored, egregiously, or downplayed, for shame, and the absolute lack of respect to an office that is the highest in this land. All, because of inbred ignorance and bigotry, refusal to acknowledge proven facts.

    To y'all who didn't vote and then by omission voted for that, I don't want to hear any complaints from you! I'm going to shut you down right off he bat. Geeze, I guess you have to really get militant.

    Take no prisoners.

    1. I believe that it is the duty of citizens to vote in every election - I have for more than forty years. However, it is also true that you cannot blame customers for not buying a product that already exists, offers nothing new or improved, is poorly packaged and marketed, and the salesman doesn't seem interested in it either.

    2. @ Rockheaded - that would be true if the choice was between buying or not buying an imperfect product. In truth, the choice is between an imperfect product and the totally shitty product you will get instead.

    3. Anonymous, my reference was to people not coming out to vote at all. Many people are extremely tired of the choice of this shitty product and this shitty product. One is the shitty product I've been having for years, the other is a new (probably) shitty product that is offering nothing different...Many people decided they would stay at home and the worst that would happen was they would be stuck with the shitty devil they knew...

  27. What about those of us who think Obama is a conservative and that Hillary Clinton will be even more of a conservative? We're damn well tired of Democrats continually chasing Republicans in a race to the right, and this kind of, "Vote Democratic or ELSE," doesn't work with us any longer. As last week proved.

    1. That problem is not limited to the US - we have had the same problem in Australia for many years. The current progressive party is so far to the right that they have left the historical conservative giants to their left. Of course this pushes conservatives further and further to the right, so much so that I am expecting them to turn up in Chile within the next year or so.

  28. Jim,

    We all just need to take a break from bitching about the Affordable Care Act (even you called it crappy) and take the time and trouble to learn more about it. Crappy? Really? OK, I'll bite - but now you have to tell me what specific aspect about the bill is "crappy" or why "it sucks" (see above comment). Oh yeah, and be specific and use real facts. The problem is, learning about something complicated is hard work and we're lazy - so until we do the hard work required to educate ourselves as responsible voters in a free society, we'll be no better than the low information, gullible tea-baggers yelling about death panels and keeping your "gubmint hands off my Medicare".

    As for the individual mandate and guaranteed coverage - we need to understand both because you can't have one without the other. We need to know that because newly-minted Senate Majority Mitch McConnell is already promising to do away with the individual mandate and without it you can't have guaranteed coverage and without guaranteed coverage - well, that right there was the bill's whole point - as well as Mitch McConnell's - he promised to get rid of "Obamacare". Though unpopular, the individual mandate, is there for a reason. The people who hate the individual mandate - the ones who're all about personal freedom and responsibility - the "get the government off my back and leave me the hell alone" folks. We need to stop agreeing with them. We need to tell them we're for the mandate because we, too believe in personal responsibility and are tired of paying for people with no insurance (you don't think the hospital just writes that off, do you?). We need to say "No insurance and no penalty? Fine - as long as you're willing to give up your right to run up a huge medical bill then declare bankruptcy and stiff the providers for the cost of your care because, in the end that cost always seems to get passed along to me. Fine - as long as you don't have a problem with the hospital refusing you care unless you pay them a hefty fee up front. Oh, they're not legally allowed to do that? Well they were before the 1980s. How about we let you "have your country back", you know - the way it was in the good old days - when, if you couldn't pay your bill the hospital actually just took the loss and locked the ER door next time they saw you coming or just barred the door as a precaution because you looked poor. The ACA's most popular feature is that insurance companies can no longer deny you coverage so if it wasn't for that pesky mandate, you could just sort of hang out there as a reasonably healthy person and as soon as you have a serious illness or accident, you can buy insurance and, if you recover or no longer need care or coverage you can drop it again. Because, you know - freedom from tyranny, don't tread on me and hands off my wallet. The only problem with that is - it's insurance, dude. You can't buy a homeowner's policy AFTER the tornado and you can't wait until AFTER the wreck to get car insurance. And no, I'm not comparing life-saving cancer treatments with getting your car fixed.

    The Affordable Care Act was (and is) President Obama's and the Democratic Party's biggest achievement in the past 50 years. Could it have been better? I don't know - but it was the best we could get at the time. And nobody knows this better Hillary Clinton, who still bears the battle scars from the health care battles of the early '90s. Yeah, those 1990's - when the Republican's answer to the Clinton's idea of universal coverage for all was to propose a personal mandate to buy health insurance in the private market - it was (at the time) the responsibility of all real patriotic Americans after all.

    As Democrats, if we run away from the ACA, we (and the nation) are screwed.


    1. I guess Obamacare is great if you like your premium doubling, as mine did, so I could supplement the coverage of someone less healthy, and the government can grow a whole new bureaucracy to come between me and my health care provider, and the total cost of the program is much, much more than the cost of just directly providing those without insurance free medical care or free insurance. The government has a wonderful track record of efficiency and cost cutting, so I think you are right in calling it a great achievement.

  29. Americans got exactly the government they need right now.


  30. Y'know Jim...

    Jon Stewart said it best, "We have shit to do."

    Conservatives on the other hand...this is a lifestyle for them! They are committed to beliefs, but often regurgitate lies and half truths and innuendo. The pace is dizzying. The hate that you named in one of your recent posts is palpable.

    It's not the RNC doing this. It isn't Ted Cruz. It's the GOP base that keeps fanning the flames of hate for Obama and --no--you can't reason with this idiots.

    Non-conservatives need to be equally committed. I don't want to sound dramatic, but it is a war! And there is a lot at stake. Fight the lies. Showcase the hypocrisy. Highlight the contempt for our fellow man. Don't let your friends and family forget.

    There's that running joke of the asshole Uncle at Thanksgiving who says something... I'm striving to be that guy this year!! The squeaky wheel gets the oil--and apparently the national narrative--be the asshole uncle this year.

    Just as soon as you finish with grace, remind EVERYONE that we spent $4 Billion on this election for robo-calls, bumper stickers, and lawn signs and that we're arresting people in Florida for feeding the homeless.

    Non-conservatives can no longer afford to bring a pie chart to a fist fight.


  31. Well said, Jim.

    BTW, unless you were referring to a wildlife refuge in Egypt, I believe you meant ANWR, not ANWAR. (Damn autocorrect!)

  32. I know this sounds like a conspiracy. And it might be. But in my own town we had one precinct that apparently had two "chips" in the vote-counting machine, and mistakenly used the wrong one for the first count, nearly giving the Democrat the state Rep seat, until someone "noticed" that there were only 30 votes (test chip, supposedly) counted for that precinct, and dug out the proper chip, which flipped the count. I wonder how many "test chips" were left in the mistake position.

    Gretchen in KS

  33. I hope this is the part where history repeats itself as farce, not as tragedy.

    Maybe more tomorrow.

  34. They say a week is a long time in politics -so what does that make 2016 .. a long, lo-oong, looo-oong time away that's what. An awful lot can and will happen over that time and I'm not just talking about spacecraft getting us our very first close up views of Pluto and Ceres and landing on the surface of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

    Let's focus on the here and now and what can be done in the situation we're in. Let's learn the lesson about voting and about the democratic party actually being, well the Democratic party rather than trying to be Republican-lite. (DINOs?)

  35. I for one welcome our new overlords.

    That said, it buoys me to see the president making good on his (and I digest his campaign promises) pledge to reach out to every Ayatollah, dictator, and head of enemy state that will engage in a dialog. In the face of new-media-driven cries about the president's "Irrelevance" that mission statement seems to be the action plan du jour.

  36. Victory dance? This Terminal Twitch? This, if I way coin another phrase, Spazzor Mortis? Demographics (which starts with a D, just like Democrat!) are slowly backing the pachyderms into a corner from which they may soon be bleating inneffectually. Or whatever sound an ineffectual former 900-lb gorilla makes. I've read a few posts about how the GOP geriatric contingent won't be with us much longer, and, though some (<----) are inartfully phrased, there's some truth in it. Not that there won't be a new crop of oldfarts taking their place--I'm in that group--but they're of a different generation, and perhaps less likely to swallow all the right-wing nonsense. He said hopefully...

  37. who is the Democratic party? What do they stand for? and will we really only have one shoe-in candidate (Clinton) to choose between when 2016 rolls around? I ask these questions because I am against being forced to vote for Hillary Clinton. How can I support a party that limits me so? Even if I liked Mrs. Clinton unreservedly, I would resent having only her as a Democratic candidate. So....when we wonder why the vote this mid-term went as it did; perhaps we should realize that the Democratic Party right now has only two contenders.....our Mr. Obama, who isn't running again, and Mrs. Clinton. Hellooo! I want a contest! I want to know what I'm voting for. Who is the Democratic Party, and what do they stand for?

    1. I see a number of names out there for Democratic candidates for President. I do not think Hillary is either a shoo-in nor even necessarily the best candidate. I am not a huge fan, personally, and I know of a lot of liberals who intensely dislike Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are two of the other names I've heard, although I guess Elizabeth Warren isn't interested in the top spot. I am a woman and I don't think that it's 100% necessary for our next President to be female. I DO think it's 100% necessary for the Democrats to stop playing politics like the Dallas Cowboys play football. They need to come together as a party - at least in the public eye - present a united front, BE liberals and support each other once the primaries are over. This is how you win things. Having a good team with good players is a start, but they have to have a great game plan, stick to it, work together and WIN. They don't seem to be doing that right now.

  38. Some in this thread--and others--just don't seem to buy the whole "If you don't vote Democrat, you just voted Republican" idea. Which is a shame, because if they never snap, the rest of us are fucked. The Green Party, the Libertarians, the Socialists all have their adherents, and the will never elect a President, or more than a few C-Critters. The Libertarians and other right-wing splinters hurt the Republicans, so I'm all for 'em. The rest hurt the Democrats, and as you can probably guess, I'm not a big fan of theirs. And don't even get me started on Nadir...
    But, hell, it's simple arithmetic, not Tensor Calculus, fercrapsake, so it can't be like they really don't get it. At some level, they do, and that makes their actions even more reprehensible. "My ego is more important than the welfare of the country! Give me what I want or I'll see to it that smirking chimp from Texas gets elected!" And we didn't. And they did. And we all know what happened. But it's not their fault, because they were right, and we should have all realized that, so it's really everybody else's fault.
    I don't vote Democrat because they're gonna make everything all right. I vote Democrat because they're not the fucking Republicans. It may not always be a choice between good and bad. Sometimes it's between bad and worse. The choice is still clear, though, if you care about anyone but yourself...

    1. That is exactly what I did this year. I have never before purposefully voted by party, however, I generally wind up voting democrat for everything. This year, the only offices for which I didn't vote for a Democratic candidate were those that didn't have one.

  39. The dems who worry that Obama is going to mess up the chances for Hillary or whoever (it's Hillary) are particularly funny. They are the same ones who were so disappointed that he didn't magically enact the perfect liberal agenda they had in mind as soon as he won reelection. After all, he didn't have to run again.
    Here is something they should consider: Just because he didn't have to worry about running again, didn't mean he didn't have to worry about elections. That was the problem, until last week, he had to worry about every election. If he had ignored "the Party", and openly campaigned for candidates (few asked him, and they actually won) he could have been blamed for this debacle.
    Notice what he has done in the last week: Statements on immigration reform and net neutrality, both hot buttons for the right and their corporate overlords.
    In other words, get ready for two years of Obama unbound. There is nobody in the Repub clown car that has a chance of beating Hil, so he has nothing to lose anymore. One by one he will go on the attack for every single liberal issue he believes in (which for all of you not getting it yet is ..all of them). The repubs will do what they always do (viciously oppose him) but this time, since they control both houses, the blame will fall where it should have all along. Square in the reich wings lap.
    To those on the left and right attacking him: Just face it, he really is smarter than you!

    1. The percentage of democrats who believe the government has too much power has jumped lately to 38%. Unbridled issuing of executive orders in defiance of the republican congress might well backfire. Democratic belief that government is a force for good starts to unravel when democracy itself is sacrificed at the alter of liberal policy. A dangerous precedent has been set. Other presidents have abused executive orders, but still used significant restraint. If republicans win in '16 and choose to wield this same power, you will be awestruck by how far liberal gains are rolled back in the blink of an eye.

    2. Well that was certainly cryptic and chock full of non sequitur.
      "Unbridled issuing of executive orders in defiance of the republican congress might well backfire. "
      I guess so...who is talking about doing that? I guess I need to point out that this President (the former constitutional law professor) has yet to use executive orders at a level approaching any of his predecessors (despite unprecedented obstruction), but I assume everybody reading this is well aware of that.
      " A dangerous precedent has been set". Really, by who? Do tell, examples would be nice.
      "Other presidents have abused executive orders, but still used significant restraint." What does that even mean?
      "If republicans win in '16 and choose to wield this same power, you will be awestruck by how far liberal gains are rolled back in the blink of an eye."
      After reading this, I think you would be "awe struck" by what it takes to make me "awe struck".
      Anyway, back to reality; as Jim here has pointed out, (nice post by the way as usual!) with this election the repubs have achieved no where near a veto overriding majority, so nothing really has changed except now they will have to produce bills and laws to be vetoed (instead of just mercifully killed in the Senate before they are subject to public debate and much deserved ridicule).
      The President, armed only with his great gift of rhetoric and that stamp in his desk, is now free to use his pulpit to ask such questions as:
      Please explain in detail why you wish to deny 10 million people health care? Why is it again that you want to turn internet control over to the whims of large corporations?
      Why do you wish to deport 11 million productive tax paying workers from this country?
      Why will you not ratify this climate treaty with China, which gives you all the things you said you wanted?
      Explain these things while I ready my stamp with the proper level of ink?
      Explain these things while I continue to issue executive orders at a rate lower than my predecessors, most of which almost mimic down to the wording those issued in the past, all of which have been upheld as being within my powers under the constitution.
      Explain these things as I don't have to worry about raising a single dime for my reelection or anyone else's, don't have to worry about offending Wall Street, or any Fox News regulars or centrist unicorns, or frightened blue dogs.
      I expect there will not be a week pass in the next two years where this President will not very publicly poke the Republicans in the eye with some sharp stick or another.
      Yes indeed, much awe will be struck.

  40. Agree with your conclusions Jim. Having voted starting with McGovern in every election including primaries and special elections it upsets me to see the lowest turnout since 1942 and it is my belief that more Democrats should have been pleading with the President to campaign with them. Own the party and the things accomplished because some were extremely significant then elaborate on what was introduced and who blocked votes or allowing a discussion on the bill. Recalling how Gore ran away from Bill C I have often thought that he would have gotten more votes than would be lost for asking Clinton to campaign with him. I am hoping for another candidate other than Hillary but would never vote 3rd party or GOP. Sadly a vote for a 3rd party candidate is a vote for the GOP and any "statement" you want to make is completely lost.. So while I'm bothered that HC is "distancing" herself from President Obama I know she would be better than the GOP offerings. I'm re-thinking blind contributions to DCC or all the affiliated groups that want my money but not my input. The current strategy is useless. Use Senator Franken or Rep. Grayson's winning campaigns and adapt as needed. Going up against the GOP money machine and Fox, Rush & Glenn means you need to keep it simple but never apologize or act desperate. The next election is important too because it is going to be time to re-draw voting districts (I think I read that). Marlene

  41. Not sure I would call Obama a "Liberal" anything. He's more of an Eisenhower Republican - right down the middle with some minor veers to the left and sways to the right. Still trying to understand why Democrats running for office distanced themselves from Obama when every single indicator showed how good we are doing as a Nation compared to "the previous Admin." Sad, because Obama will be remembered as a good President who, operating within the framework of the times, really did turn the country around at very precarious time.

    Chris in South Jersey

  42. I might have missed it, but here's proof this has been going on a LOOOONNNGGG time:

    "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat. Will Rogers"

    Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/willrogers122697.html#5UydxLLWUic3qCLf.99

  43. Bush was 40% in 2006, about where Obama is. The Republicans lost the presidency mainly because of Bush-fatique. McCain's lame campaign, compared to Obama's brilliant one, closed the deal. We already have Obama-fatique and Republicans ran fairly competent campaigns this time.

    Obama doesn't inspire anyone to come out and vote anymore. I'm not sure you can blame the voters. What vision did Democrats offer? First black president? Been there. Done that. What issue was on the ballot? Health care? Support is tepid to negative and will likely turn more so with the latest faux pas and rising premiums. The identity politics issues were defanged by tactical changes.

    Republican war mongering would normally screw it up for them, but they can't do it without Obama's compliance. He will continue to tread carefully. That leaves overplaying their hand by trying to impeach him. I doubt leadership will be that stupid after Bill Clinton mopped the floor with them.

    Obama will weigh down Hillary, as will her association to health care, and voting for the Iraq war as the politically safe thing to do despite knowing the false pretexts. She will have to explain why the geopolitical landscape has gone up in flames in the wake of her stint at State. Likely her genitalia will count for something. Her best chance would be if she gets paired against that smug, bellicose SOB from Jersey.

    Obama's problem as president has always been that he was more inspired by campaigning than governing. 203 golf outings and 3 meetings with Republican leadership during his tenure. Policy doesn't interest him. That's left to advisors. He doesn't even meet with his own party. Democrat candidates would have been more keen to embrace him had he made any effort to foster a relationship with them.

    He will retire to $250K honorariums and can choose the topics he wants to campaign for. Also, he is still young. I think he will be a much more effective ex-president than president.

  44. Too late on the districts. Republicans now control more state houses, where redistricting is done, than anytime since the late 1800's.

  45. Thanks again, Jim for this post. I may be losing my battle with cancer, but your essays help keep me hopeful, cheerful and above all glad that you are there. Keep up the great work, you are prolonging my life!

  46. Asking as a Brit.

    What exactly did Obama do to make his own side disown him. As far as I can see- Upset the GOP.

    "I don't like Obama, because the Republican told me x,y,z."
    Instead of challenging the Dem candidates appeared to have gone "Oh, well If I don't like Obama, will you vote for me."

    I really do not understand why people believe the GOP shit. Do they not look at their health costs? The centrepiece of GOP hate and attacks, and there are poor people (especially in the South) as far as I can see who are getting Healthcare and STILL want to repeal ACA.

    What the fuck is wromg with you America. .

  47. Brilliantly written piece!!!

  48. This is a great "rally the troops" article, and gods know we need it. As a vet, one thing you know in your gut is that you've got to stand with your brothers in arms, or you lose the fight. The Democratic leadership doesn't get this.

    Go Jim!

  49. This was the election of spite. So many people who either apathetically stayed at home to prove a point, or refuse to support the presidency because of his supposed lack of leadership, which is ridiculous considering where we stand now vs. 2007. It boils down to the hate of a person because of his name and color, even among Democrats, especially in the south. Shoot yourself in the foot to show that guy that he's in the wrong place. Makes total, legit sense to me. Living down here, in the mid-south, these are things I hear coming from mouths young and old. Especially prevalent in younger generations. Suddenly it's okay to be spectacularly proud of 'Southern Pride' which I like to point out often to my own children, fantastic advertisement to let us know where the bigots are. They worship the Confederate flag and their guns, while lacking a sense of self-pride to rise above such nonsense.

    How many people have had their lives saved by the ACA? Insurance premiums went up, like they do every year quite often, and suddenly it's because of the ACA. This gave people a protection against preexisting conditions clauses among other things. I got mine, screw you! This is the new battle cry of the nation, apparently.

  50. Best poli sci professor I ever had, a guy named Martin Shapiro, said that there are three political classes, and the biggest one is also the lowest one, the class with the least knowledge and information about what's going on with the guvmint and the country.

    Shapiro taught us U.C. students back in 1970 that the lowest political class sees thing in black and white. The people who govern us (the "incumbents", for want of a better word) are either "succeeding" or "failing" in the eyes of the Lowest Political Class. If they're failing, they are voted against. If succeeding, they are voted for.

    In the 2014 election, the likely voters -- who were mostly between 35 and 60 -- had minimal knowledge and information, and also had a ton of ads about the "failed" Obama presidency. Many Democrats ran away from the Prez, and the "failing" President was voted against. (Despite 55 months of economic growth, a 5.9% unemployment rate, more people with health care, etc. etc.)

    Plus, the usual suspects stayed away from the voting booth, and here we are. Floating gently down the middle of Shit Creek.

  51. Sure, I voted--for candidates who appear to stand for not very much in particular, who will probably continue to send jobs out of the country and defer to the wishes of the monied interests who financed their campaigns. Sure, I voted--and I was disgusted when I left the voting booth.

  52. I think that the Democrats made a mistake trying to make their elections NOT about Obama, especially since the Republicans made it about him, and the ACA. They probably would have done better to actively embrace Obama and trumpet the turnaround: millions who have affordable insurance who didn't before the aca; the economy with the stock market back at record highs; job pick ups (even though the new jobs don't pay as much...with the reasons why having to do with the commoditizing of labor and the erosion of the rights of workers to organize); and bin Laden is dead; and all the little things Obama did accomplish, overcoming an intransigent republican majority in the House and a filibustering republican minority in the Senate.

    Instead of playing to a segment of the electorate (women, minorities) who are inarguably being affected by restrictive, republican-sponsored policy and laws passed at the state and local level, play up Obama's successes on pocketbook issues that affect everyone and their families: universal health care, education opportunities, jobs, and security (both foreign, Benghazi notwithstanding, and domestic).

    Make it about how those successes were in spite of the intransigence of the Republicans in the House; in spite of the threat of filibuster by the radicals in the Senate (and if you want one glaring reason why Sen. Reid wouldn't bring bills to the floor, there you have it).

    Play the phrase, "give me a Congress that wants to get together and do something for Americans..." all over the country, from Fairbanks to Miami, from San Diego to Portland, ME.

    Make it about the waste of time that was 50 votes to take away affordable insurance from our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Make it about how, if they want to require ID to vote in person, okay, but provide an easy option for acquiring free ID, AND accept the kinds that people actually have: work-issued or student IDs, for two. Put a picture on the Voter Registration Card, issue it when registering to vote, and accept that. And do something about the long lines at polling places in some states. (why have I, in ask the years i have been voting, IN PERSON ON ELECTION DAY, never had to wait on line for more than maybe a half hour to get into the booth? because election coordinators in New York, New Jersey, and Arizona...never in the same election, you conspiracy theorists and fraud accusers!?...know how to manage a polling place to process the most voters in the shortest time? Nah, couldn't be!)

  53. Of course I think what you write is right on because I have been saying the same things. I would like to throw out some of my thoughts now and then, with the hope of adding something that might be of help. I wonder if it would change any thing if the American people realized what it takes to be a liberal. Here is something that most people are probably unaware of. The meaning of liberal has been changed into a dirty word by the wealth owned media. I have a dictionary with a copyright of 1966. According to it, here is what it would take to be a liberal. “You would need to be open minded, generous, favorable to progress or reform, favorable to or in accord with the concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, in favor of representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies and be against prejudice and bigotry.” From that definition, I would say that most people would at least want to be liberal. If you google liberal, you will find it hard to come up with that same meaning. You have to look at several sources and dig into them. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out what is going on.
    While the rich are busy controlling peoples minds and getting richer, most people probably find themselves too busy living life to even think about these things. I hope that people do not find themselves forced to think about it after it is too late.
    Think of it this way. Here is what it takes to NOT be a liberal. Narrow minded, prejudice, bigoted, selfish, not in favor of the maximum individual freedom possible, not in favor of progress or reform and prefer aristocracies and monarchies over a representational form of government. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!


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