All Politics is … Stupid?

Syrian refugee resettlement in the US has created the political cause of the moment. Dozens of governors immediately lined up to say, “Not in my state” causing many others to say, “We welcome refugees”.  Nevermind that they don’t actually get a say.  Social media has lit up with memes and statements arguing the morality, legality, and practicality of all positions.

This has all the markings of a classic modern American political issue that could actually last into the next election in some form. It’s purely emotional and, more importantly, has absolutely no basis in anything that is actually important in the world.

The question of Syria, long ignored while it burned, has come to us as a feeble cartoon now that there’s the possibility that the situation might vaguely inconvenience us. And that’s all we’ve ever cared about.

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Paint the Map Blue!

If you’re a Democrat, there’s a good chance that you’ve cackled with glee over the turmoil in the Republican Party. Between the presidential campaign running so far off script that inside fave Bush is polling in fourth at 8% and the chaos in the House there’s a lot of schadenfreude to be had.

Then again, it also might be distracting us Democrats from our own problems which, while not as public and nasty, are still rather bad. There’s nothing wrong with the party that can’t be fixed in the next year but time is running a bit short. Those of us who care about the future of our party, our movement, have a responsibility to kill the party over Republican misfortune and start calling out our own shortcomings.

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Clinton & the Team

It has been a good two weeks for Hillary Clinton. First came the opening debate where she did what she needed to convince the party faithful and the pundits she is the front runner. That leveraged into Vice President Biden announcing he will not run. Finally, she sat down in front of the Benghazi Committee of the House and made a good case that the whiff of scandal was behind her.

But more impressive than all this was how it happened. This was a team effort where the Democratic Party started to rally around her and unite. It’s what it will take to win the election – and today there is little doubt she is the odds-on favorite to be the next president.

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The Glass-Steagall Battle

It’s the debate of the moment in the Democratic Party today. The Glass-Steagall Act which separated commercial and investment banking went from being something no one was against from 1933-1999, then something no one was for circa 1999-2014, and now is finally part of a vigorous debate. On the one side is the “Break up the big banks!” call from the Sanders wing and on the other is the much smaller “Yes, but it’s way more complicated than that!” voice of the establishment, usually Hillary Clinton.

It was the hottest topic at the last Democratic Debate on 13 October and it continues today. Your stand on it probably identifies who you back for president as well as your status in the Democratic Party. But is it worth all the hoopla?

Call me a pale male establishment type, but this is not a good argument.

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First Democratic Debate

By the time you read this the first Democratic debate has probably already happened. I hope you enjoyed it!

There is a tradition here at Barataria of predicting the news before it happens, which is to say at least outlining what is likely to happen within reasonable boundaries. It’s more like a weather forecast than a news forecast. So let’s take a stab and see what we can reasonably expect from the debate itself and the news going forward.

Mostly sunny with a high in the 70s. No, it’s more complicated than that …

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Republican Chaos, Democrats in Charge

With Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dropping out of the race to become Speaker of the House, the level of chaos in Congress has hit a new height. It’s hard to imagine what comes next in this intractable situation as nearly every option has become open – including the longshot possibility that a bi-partisan group of centrists might soon be in charge.

Will this open the floodgates and see something get done or will the gridlock become even more set in stone for the next year? Like the weather, everyone likes to complain about it but no one seems to do anything about it. But next year could be the year that Democrats actually do something and take control – of both the Senate and the House. This is actually possible if we seize the moment.

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Runnin’ on Empty

The Feds are about to run out of money.

No, we’re not talking about a government shutdown – that was avoided when yet another continuing resolution was passed to keep it operating through December. After that we have no idea what will happen. What we do know is that the Federal Highway Trust Fund is set to expire on October 29 unless a new bill is passed, which hasn’t been done yet.

Unlike the larger federal budget the attention this is getting is scant at best, so the possibility that it will be lost in the shuffle is pretty high. The implications are rather vast because federal funding is what keeps highway construction moving along. Without it, everything might grind to a halt as early as November.

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