1. We have become so cynical that the talking heads, especially, can't imagine a leader doing something mostly for the decency of it. Yet this is likely Mr. Obama's prime motivation. Whites make up 75 percent of the electorate and anti-"amnesty" Anglos vote while too many potentially Democratic Hispanics don't. So it's a political loser.
2. Despite similar precedents set by Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the Republicans will try to impeach Obama or otherwise act out. They can't stop themselves.
I moderated a panel of eminent China experts last night. One of the consistent themes is how our dysfunctional government sends the message to Beijing to not take us seriously, or to make a dangerous miscalculation.
3. Mr. Obama's limited overhaul doesn't address the core problems: Our appetite for cheap labor; the way trade agreements disrupted traditional economies and drew workers el norte; bad governance in Mexico and much of central America, and the fact that too many American employers and even average Americans are satisfied with the status quo.
As I wrap up the next David Mapstone Mystery, I am going to have to take a week or two away from Rogue. I'll keep the Front Page and the special report pages (including Arizona's Continuing Crisis) updated. So you should have plenty to discuss. Thanks for your support.
When Barack Obama was elected president, the nation was facing its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. For all its flaws — a too-small-stimulus, lack of enough relief for average mortgage holders, etc. — Obama, with the help of Ben Bernanke's Federal Reserve, averted a second Great Depression.
When Obama took office, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent on its way to 10 percent. Last month it was 5.8 percent...
...The federal deficit was $1.4 trillion or almost 10 percent of gross domestic product. Now it’s about $483 billion or 3.3 percent of GDP. The deficit has fallen faster than any time since the end of World War II...
...America's GDP was $14.4 trillion. In the third quarter of this year it had risen $17.5 trillion, despite the headwinds of a slow recovery. It is the best performance among advanced nations...
...Corporate profits after taxes were about $1 trillion in January 2009. In the second quarter of this year, the most recent data available, they hit a record $1.84 trillion...
...The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 7,949 the day he took office. Today it is above 17,652...
...And the Affordable Care Act extended health insurance to millions of Americans, and would have included millions more if not for the cruel obstruction of Republican governors.
In the hands of Ronald Reagan's ad men, this would have been Morning in America. For Democrats this election, it was something from which to run (hat tip to Emil's comment in the previous post). They deserved the destruction that befell them.
I was talking to a friend — smart, college-educated, a former-Republican-turned-progressive — who recalled the great hope she had when Barack Obama was elected. "But we've been losing ever since."
Her answer is to go off the grid. Keep subscribing to newspapers to help support them, but not read them. No more politics on the Internet. No more Rachel Maddow, however smart she is. What's the point?
She already doesn't own a car and uses transit and trains wherever possible. Shops locally and has a tiny carbon footprint with a downtown condo. She will continue to vote in every election, for Democrats (progressive where possible), for every transit, parks and school funding initiative.
But she's done with living so close to the heartache of constant defeat, of the nation's astounding retrograde move. Where one of our two great political parties doesn't even believe in science. Sorry, legalized pot and same-sex marriage aren't enough.
1. Arizona is redder than ever. For decades seers have been predicting that newcomers would make politics here less conservative. Instead, the opposite has happened. Arizona has grown less competitive and more reactionary. Every major statewide office has been captured by Republicans for the second straight time (see official results here).
2. Ideology trumps logic. How does a nullity like Doug Ducey not only beat his Democratic challenger, a man with deep policy experience and good ideas, but do so by a commanding margin (nearly 54 percent to 43 percent)? The only answer I can come up with is that Ducey did the Aflac duck conservative quack and that was enough. It's not that voters are happy with conditions in Arizona. And the problems have been caused by decades of right-wing political and policy dominance. Ergo, vote for more of the same!
3. The great independent factor wasn't. Remember when the media were trumpeting the tidbit that independent voters outnumbered those of either party? But as polling research at Pew and elsewhere has shown, "independents" usually lean one direction or the other, whatever their twee affectation to independence of thought and judgment. In Arizona, most lean to the right.
4. The Hispanic wave (still) hasn't arrived. "Mexicans don't vote." Therefore, combined with gerrymandering and voter suppression, this phenomenon means Democrats will be waiting a very long time for Latino Salvation. An angry, old, white minority can rule in perpetuity. The apathy is especially startling considering how Anglo Arizona has been viciously racist against Hispanics, in a way not seen in much of Texas.
Central Avenue and Van Buren in 1972. Note the full block of businesses heading north to the Westward Ho. Central was still a two-way street.
No series of events better epitomized the 1970s and the turning point they marked in Phoenix than the fight over freeways, specifically the "inner loop" of the Papago Freeway.
Most Phoenicians had a vague idea that freeways were a possibility since the Wilber Smith & Associates plan was adopted in 1960. Interstate 10 had been completed to Tucson and was abuilding from the west. By mid-decade it had reached Tonopah, requiring a long drive over largely country roads to reach. Real-estate values plummeted along the path of the inner loop. But by 1970, Phoenix's freeway "system" consisted of only the Black Canyon (Interstate 17) which curved at Durango to become the Maricopa (I-10).
All this changed as the new decade opened and the plan's stark reality became clear. Specifically, the Papago would vault into the air, reaching 100 feet as it crossed Central Avenue. Traffic would enter and exit via massive "helicoils" at Third Avenue and Third Street. The freeway was promoted as being Phoenix's defining piece of architecture.
It didn't take Eugene Pulliam and the anti-freeway advocacy of the Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette to make most Phoenicians horrified. In 1973, voters vehemently rejected the inner loop. They only had to look 372 miles west to see the destruction wrought by freeways. They didn't want Phoenix to "become another Los Angeles."
[UPDATE] The answer is yes. Join the open thread on the comments to discuss the election results.
Are you really going to do it, America? Give control of the Senate to The Party That Wrecked America?
If the polls are to be believed, the answer is "yes." It is true that polling undercounts Democratic votes. But the indications are not good. Consider that in Colorado, incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper is trailing a full bore Krackpot who claims the IUD is an abortion device.
Republican candidates have made this election about (President Obama), while most Democrats (as is their wont) are running fast away; the GOP itself remains, however, also deeply unpopular; wrong-direction numbers are at a high. No great policy debate has defined these races, and when such issues have risen – such as illegal immigration or the ACA – they tend to be virulent reactions to existing law or proposed changes, rather than a constructive, positive agenda. I see no triumph for conservative or liberal ideas here, no positive coalition forming, no set of policies that will be vindicated by this election.