Tuesday, November 1, 2022

With One Week To Go, Undecided Voters Need To Recall Ben Franklin's Words: "You Have A Republic, If You Can Keep It"

             "A LOT of folks will pay when we get back the Majority!"

"Roughly half of Republicans running for state or federal office believe the presidency was stolen from Donald Trump in 2020.   That means America’s system itself is on the ballot next Tuesday.”  - Edward Luce, The Financial Times, This Will Be The Mother of All Midterm Elections

"I want the fake news to know I'm not going to be your governor! I am going to be your worst nightmare for eight years!"- Kari Lake, in interview with TIME magazine, Nov.7-14, p. 46

week from now, there is a good chance people are going to put these GOP goons in power once again, at least in the House. Then they’ll cry when the economy and everything else goes sideways. I don't get it."- Commenter on Washington Post yesterday

"Are we ready for our new Republican overlords?  Much to our national shame, it looks like these over-the-top and way, way, way out-of-the mainstream Republicans — and the formerly normie and now creepy Republicans who have bent the knee to the wackos out of political expediency — are going to be running the House, maybe the Senate and certainly some states, perhaps even some that Joe Biden won two years ago.

And it looks as if Kevin McCarthy will finally realize his goal of becoming speaker, but when he speaks, it will be Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan and Lauren Boebert doing the spewing. It will be like the devil growling through Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” — except it will be our heads spinning.  ...People voting for these crazies think they’re punishing Biden, Barack Obama and the Democrats. They’re really punishing themselves." - Maureen Dowd, 'The Greene-ing Of America', NY Times

According to David Brooks (Why Republicans Are Surging, NY Times, Oct. 21, )

"It’s hard to win consistently if voters don’t trust you on the top issue. In a recent AP-NORC poll, voters trust Republicans to do a better job handling the economy, by 39 percent to 29 percent. Over the past two years, Democrats have tried to build a compelling economic platform by making massive federal investments in technology, infrastructure and child welfare. But those policies do not seem to be moving voters. As The Times’s Jim Tankersley has reported, Democratic candidates in competitive Senate races are barely talking about the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which included direct payments to citizens."

"I thought the child tax credit expansion would be massively popular and could help create a Democratic governing majority. It turned out to be less popular than many anticipated, and there was little hue and cry when it expired. Maybe voters have a built-in uneasiness about income redistribution and federal spending."

Some of what Brooks asserts may have valence, but not much.  A major reason too many are unappreciative is the toll the pandemic has taken on their minds, their perceptions and critical reasoning. Oh, and just plain old gratitude!  It's the same basis for pooh-poohing reception of any government help the past 3 years- whether from the cash infusions of 2020 or the more recent  payouts of American Rescue plan, the moratorium on rent payments, or the child tax credit which provided cash to families stretched financially.   

So why the state of mental miasma which pervades the country? Barry Ritholtz, a co-founder of Ritholtz Wealth Management, said it beggars belief that consumer sentiment could have been lower this year than it was during the worst modern financial crises and market crashes. In his view, American consumer sentiment has become disconnected from economic reality and is instead functioning as an expression of partisanshipTranslation: there is NO reason negative economic narratives should be driving voters' decisions, or polling.

Exhibit A, from the WSJ yesterday (Flush Consumers Vex Fed Strategy,  p. A2):

"Washington’s response to the pandemic left household and business finances in unusually strong shape, with higher savings buffers and lower interest expenses....U.S. households still have around $1.7 trillion in savings they accumulated through mid-2021 above and beyond what they would have saved if income and spending had grown in line with the prepandemic economy, according to estimates by Fed economists."

 This confirms the take of Dean Baker, the co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who noted:

For tens of millions of people, there is a huge amount of good news about the economy over the last year and a half yet it’s not being processed,” 


When the media suddenly chose to emphasize the struggling population, in ways that they have not done in the past, that is a political decision on their part, not one responding to a new economic reality.”

Indeed, And while Baker's argument might seem to some like sour grapes research has shown that journalists DO follow negative economic trends more closely than positive ones, and that negative news affects public opinion much more than positive news.  Journalists then, could well be responsible for gutting voters' brains to the extent of hurling the U.S. into an autocracy.

At a certain point then, it may be fruitful for susceptible voters to step away from the media's parade of economic indicators when considering why — amid a world-historic pandemic, supply chain disruptions and the war in Ukraine — people might be feeling uneasy. Above all, it’s critical to process this uneasiness before making a reckless voting decision which will compound misery for millions – including the voters who made it.  

And while the Right incessantly yaps 'Inflation, Inflation!" it's important to grasp that inflation is worldwide, hence it is a systemic problem . For reference, in the UK right now,  the inflation rate is 10.2% and in historically fiscally conservative Germany it's 10.0 %.  In Barbados it's 14 % and in the U.S. it's 8.2 %.  So why are so many 'Muricans bitching and blaming Biden and the Democrats?  Well, because he's what the psychologists call the easy or proximate target, or better, scapegoat. 

 This then is why voter perspectives are distorted and also why too many are hostage to "lowbrow thinking"  from low information (often social media)  inputs, Consider: According to a lead WSJ piece last Saturday, "decades high inflation is pushing any undecideds toward the Republicans" .

But this is cognitively dissonant because the Republicans up for election have no real solutions to inflation, certainly not in the U.S. Indeed, we have since learned that GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy - dreaming about becoming the next House Speaker-  can't wait to mount endless retribution on the Dems for the January 6th Committee investigations.  He's also anxious to try to implement his "Commitment to America".  Which would include:

-  Emulating the Liz Truss massive tax cut plan in the UK that already rendered her service the shortest in British history. (But as Hayes pointed out, there is no blowback for whatever economic perdition the Reeps sow.)

- Sending the new 87,000 IRS employees packing - meaning - if it ever passes, your phone efforts to contact the agency will be nixed, and tax refund backlogs and other problems will continue.

As Chris Hayes said after the segment of ALL In two weeks ago:  "If you think the chaos with Liz Truss and the conservatives in Britain is something, wait until Kevin McCarthy and his band of GOP misfits get control."

As American Enterprise Institute econ guru (and moderate)  Norm Ornstein put it in an article ('How Far Would A Republican Majority Go?) in The Atlantic :  

"If Republicans gain control of the House of Representatives, the country will face a series of fundamental challenges much greater than we have had in any period of divided government.  This includes a direct and palpable threat of default and government shutdown.  The Republican majority will be more radical, reckless and willing to employ nuclear options to achieve its goals than any of its predecessors."   

And why would it not? Think about it! Despite its Trumpite minions attempting to overthrow the elected government and fomenting an insurrection - they are awarded power by voters blissfully incapable of reasoning.  This again is demonstrated in the polls which disclose voters have Repubs favored by up to 19 points in handling the economy?  WHY?  A bunch of renegades that can't wait to wreak havoc with a debt default to get cuts to "entitlements" ? Who can't wait to shut down the government - cutting off VA and Social Security checks  if they can't extort submission from the Dems. Are you kidding me?  The Reeps can’t be trusted with running a dog kennel, far less the U.S. gov’t.

Meanwhile, they entertain psychotic ideations of holding the Dems hostage to the debt ceiling - i.e. if they don't agree to cut Social Security and Medicare.  This is the future - a sordid one worse than we have - independent and other poorly informed voters are betting on. WaPo columnist Jennifer Rubin has also warns that popeyed "independents" are not likely to get the relief from inflation they hope for, e.g.

Democrats have a strong closing argument: The GOP would wreck the economy

 Worst of all, by mindlessly voting in the Repukes do independents seriously believe their suffering will be less?  Well, they are foolish and mistaken, sadly mistaken, including having their voting power circumscribed.  The Republicans - if handed power - will do exactly jack shit on the economy but will inflict untold harm on our election system.  Which makes a mockery of Peggy Noonan's recent brain fart in her WSJ column (Octo. 29-30, p. A17)

"With the Republicans, maybe their plans will work, maybe not, but at least they’re talking about what you’re thinking about, at least there’s a possibility they’ll come through."

No, Miss Peggy, they have no more clue to solving the pervasive worldwide inflation than solving the two differential geometry problems I posted last week.  Nor will they tame the crime ravaging so many cities - like New Orleans, where I once lived, when it was "murder capital of the world" in 1967 - because the crime is not a function of policy. It is another function of the pandemic's effects on mental stability - along wit the roiled political atmosphere and chaos emanating therefrom.

So why are so many considering voting for them? To quote one reviewer of the excellent movie, 'TILL':

"Being hungry for myriad social graces, peace, prosperity, food, representation, money, etc. makes many people lose perspective."

Losing perspective is right!  When one turns from a functioning democracy to putting into power those who would remove it, that is not merely losing perspective but insanity.  Nor is this "apocalyptic" thinking because we know already what the GOP Trump denier and Big Lie cult will do, they've brazenly come out and 'fessed up!  Like Kari Lake - running for governor in Arizona- who recently mocked the attack on Paul Pelosi by a MAGA cretin who fractured his skull with a hammer. E.g.

Arizona GOP Nominee Kari Lake Mocks Attack On Paul Pelosi - YouTube

 The most vile aspect was the demented crowd laughter. But again, with the Repukes it's all about the cruelty. Pushing it then mocking those who criticize.  This harpy Lake regards Biden as "an illegitimate president" and wants to disqualify all his votes. And if she gets her new Secretary of State (Mark Finchem) elected, she may succeed.

  The sad fact is that only a blinking imbecile or ignoramus would vote in such wanton reprobates who don't deserve to run a dog kennel far less the government of the United States.  Those who actually believe the Reeps are better at the economy either have been on a five year MJ and mushroom binge - maybe mixed with Ripple - or have had their brains flushed down the toilet by ingesting QAnon bunkum on some social media backwater like 4chan or 'The Donald'.  (Beware of the new Twitter redux as well, thanks to hate-speech absolutist Elon Musk- who with other crazies tried to paint the attack on Paul Pelosi as a "false flag".) 

Even the dirtbag VA Trumpster Governor Glenn Youngkin  - who managed to fool millions of his  (female) state voters two years ago-   barked while campaigning in Stafford, Va.

“There’s no room for violence anywhere, but we’re going to send [Pelosi] back to be with him in California. We’re gonna send her back to be with him in California,”

And as the hare-brained crowd cheered, Youngkin doubled down, howling:

 “That’s what we’re gonna do. That’s what we’re gonna do.

All of this in concert means mid term voters must be smarter and more savvy than they've ever been and not allow themselves to be played. Or their brains to lose focus and become too short -sighted, such that their own future welfare is threatened.  We know this is all too easy when the brain's fragile neural systems (centered in the amygdala)  feel threatened and the yen for security - including economic -  trumps even future survival.  

Almost as bad as being taken in by the "GOP better at the economy" myth is the development of a kind of negative false equivalence resulting in voter paralysis and nihilism. This was best illustrated in a quote about one forlorn guy named "Sergio" in a lead story in last Wednesday's LA Times. We are informed that: 

"He rejects the idea that gritting your teeth and voting for the lesser of two evils  - as some of his friends plan to do - is a better option."  

Seriously?  So you're telling me that it's not possible to distinguish between a party (actually a cult) that believes the word of sociopaths - like Kari Lake .the maggot and 'Chief Twit' Elon Musk (who also mocked the Pelosi attack), and Traitor Trump. over a party that has passed 4 constructive pieces of legislation in the past year and a half?  

If that is the case, you're welcome to choose to sit out this election, "Sergio",  because you have more serious psychological issues than even my tenure track psych niece Shayl can diagnose.  In the meantime, sane and sentient voters - still undecided - can do no better than obtaining this essential antidote to the Repuke lies and distractions:

See Also:

  • Within hours of the brutal attack last week on Paul Pelosi, Republican officials and media figures circulated groundless — and often homophobic — claims.


by Robert Reich | November 6, 2022 - 6:58am | permalink


by Alex Henderson | November 5, 2022 - 8:16am | permalink


by Lindsay Beyerstein | November 1, 2022 - 7:50am | permalink


by Joan McCarter | November 3, 2022 - 7:13am | permalink

— from Daily Kos


Traditional media is having a hell of a time this election in the “both sides” game, when one side (arguably their favorite) keeps insisting on doing things like cracking jokes and boosting heinous conspiracy theories about the assassination attempt on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, an attack that left her husband in the ICU with a head injury. These “journalists” insist on continuing to report on Republicans as if they are actually engaged in trying to make policy and help govern the country.

The result is stories like this one from Politico, about the GOP’s “ambitious energy agenda,” which is of course a repeat of what the GOP did when Obama was president: yell for more drilling and conduct bogus investigations. Or a story like this one from what remains of what used to be the paper of record for the nation, The New York Times.


by Heather Digby Parton | November 1, 2022 - 7:33am | permalink

— from Salon


We've heard a lot about "gaslighting" over the past few years, and often the term doesn't really apply to whatever phenomenon is being discussed. But this past weekend we saw a perfect example, with Republicans and their media allies working overtime to convince Americans that political violence is found on "both sides" of the partisan divide. In the final week of a hard-fought midterm campaign, one might wish be generous and excuse them for bending the truth or being hyperbolic. But this wasn't an ordinary weekend.


by Brandon Gage | October 31, 2022 - 6:51am | permalink


by Will Bunch | October 31, 2022 - 6:41am | permalink

— from the Philadelphia Inquirer


The crime was every bit as shocking as the initial news bulletins on Friday morning: A man had broken into the San Francisco home of the highest-ranking Democrat in U.S. government — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — and ultimately attacked and seriously injured her 82-year-old husband, Paul, with a hammer in a bizarre incident.

It’s still early in the investigation, and there are certainly a lot of unanswered questions about exactly how the incident went down. That said, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes — or even Inspector Clouseau — when it comes to discerning the attacker’s motive. It turns out that 42-year-old David DePape left a 15-year-long paper trail of clues about his right-wing political hate and misogyny on his blog, including a recent focus on the Big Lie of 2020 election fraud. The clincher is that police say DePape broke into the residence hoping that the House speaker, who was out of town, would be present, shouting “Where is Nancy?!”


by Robert Reich | October 30, 2022 - 7:15am | permalink


by Robert Reich | October 24, 2022 - 5:56am | permalink

— from Robert Reich's Substack


I really don’t want to write about him any more. I’d rather not even think about him. Honestly, I’d rather forget he existed.

But he looms over the 2022 elections like a sword of Damocles. Trump continues to dominate all political coverage. In many respects, he is still the center of American politics — if anything, bigger and more dangerous than he was when he left the White House.


by Joan McCarter | October 27, 2022 - 6:55am | permalink

— from Daily Kos


President Joe Biden is using the closing weeks of the midterm campaign to tell some harsh truths about Republicans: Not only do they not have a plan for the economy, they are also intent on destroying it if they don’t get their way on policy. Their way includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that are keeping people afloat amid high inflation and continued waves of the pandemic.

“Hear this closely: The Republicans have made it clear that if they win control of the Congress, they will shut down the government, refuse to pay our bills, and it’ll be the first time in our history America will default—unless I yield and cut Social Security and Medicare,” Biden said in a Monday speech. “There’s nothing, nothing, that will create more chaos, more inflation, and more damage to the American economy than this.”


by Mitchell Zimmerman | October 27, 2022 - 6:09am | permalink

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