By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Lots of people, including most of the political class, are bored with the midterms, the “Seinfeld of elections” (“a show about nothing”). This from John Cassidy in The New Yorker is representative, if a bit more vivid in its wordsmithing:
The Empty Elections of 2014
At this late stage in the prostitution, cretinization, and putrefaction of the American political system, it’s hard to get worked up about anything, and that, doubtless, explains why most voters aren’t paying much attention to the midterm elections. Or, rather, they are trying to pay no attention.
In fact, I feel rather the same way — and if I feel the same as political class feels — or says they feel — that’s a bad sign, because almost by definition I’m in a mindset that’s bad for me, that has the social function of doing me harm. Fortunately, David Sirota provides an antidote in this very useful article:
In the final days of his campaign to become governor of Illinois, cites his experience as a financial executive as an asset for dealing with his state’s formidable budget troubles. Yet that very experience presents what opponents describe as a substantial conflict of interest: Rauner’s firm earns fees by managing a slice of the state’s pension money. If he wins the election, his appointees would control the entire multi-billion-dollar pension system and they would be in a position to place more of that money into the hands of private financial firms.
No political candidate has deeper connections to pension management than Rauner. He was a longtime principal of GTCR — a firm that has managed the money of state pension systems for decades. That includes the $39 billion Illinois Teachers Retirement System and $13 billion Illinois State Board of Investment, both of which are run by gubernatorial appointees.
Rauner, a Republican, is not alone. In three other gubernatorial races — Rhode Island, California and Massachusetts — candidates with ties to firms that manage state pension money now stand to gain authority over those pension systems. ….
In Massachusetts, venture capital executive served on the board of funds run by Natixis and its subsidiary Loomis Sayles until 2013. His tax records show he made $500,000 from Loomis Sayles. That firm is currently listed as managing the assets of the Massachusetts pension system that Baker’s appointees would oversee, should he win next week.
California candidate was an executive at Goldman Sachs and PIMCO, the enormous bond firm. The former company manages money for the California State Teachers Retirement System, and the latter manages money for the California Public Employees Retirement System.
[The gubernatorial candidate in Rhode Island, Democrat ], not only worked for a financial firm, Point Judith, that manages state pension cash, she also still periodically earns income from her stake in the firm. As the state’s General Treasurer, she has blocked the release of state documents about pension fees, issuing a letter backing financial executives who want to “keep this information confidential to help preserve the productivity of their staff and to minimize attention around their own compensation.”
In other words, these candidates have a direct personal interest in the outcome of their elections, because they will be in a position to direct public funds to entities in which they have an interest. Sirota writes:
But government ethics experts express concern that governors drawn from the ranks of companies that manage pension money could bring an inherent conflict of interest: Their duty to do right by taxpayers and retirees could be pitted against their personal financial interests and their loyalties to longtime Wall Street associates. …
Beyond any specific conflicts of interest, having financial executives take control of state pension operations may influence the ongoing debate about proper investment strategies. In many states, pension overseers have been shifting growing slices of money into hedge funds, private equity funds and other so-called alternative investments, incurring larger fees in pursuit of greater returns. Financial executives may be less likely to raise questions about the merits of this strategy.
If the United States were some kinda third world country, we’d call what’s going on here outright corruption.
Anyhow, one thing we know about these candidates: They won’t be bored by the midterms, because ka-ching! And we can find out something else about these candidates and the midterms. Let me put one aspect of Sirota’s prose in the form of a simple table (and I’ll add the election status from RealClearPolitics):
Figure 1: Corruption is Bipartisan
|Neel Kashkari||California||Republican||Safe Democrat|
|Gina Raimondo||Rhode Island||Democrat||Tossup|
Now, to be fair, Democrats are only 25% of this list, although Baker’s opponent, Coakley, isn’t making an issue of Baker’s conflicted ties to finance, which is what we would expect; she took $20 million in fines off Goldman Sachs as Attorney General, and didn’t make an issue of it in 2010, losing. If we expand our field of vision outward from pension funds and gubernatorial races, we come immediately to the Kansas Senate race of Greg Orman (Independent), private equity investor and known associate of Goldman Sachs felon Rajiv Gupta; Orman sat on the board of a Cayman Islands private equity firm that Gupta founded. And if we dolly back to financial regulation as a whole, we see Holder (Democrat) and Obama (Democrat) refusing to prosecute FIRE sector executives as a class, despite evidence of massive accounting control fraud. We also see no hearings from the Republicans on this matter, although we see plenty of red meat for the base (Benghazi; Fast & Furious). So, corruption and complicity in corruption from both legacy parties.
I have often wished for a return to “honest graft” in American politics. George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany Hall in New York, Boss Tweed’s political machine:
There’s an honest graft, and I’m an example of how it works. I might sum up the whole thing by sayin‘: “I seen my opportunities and I took ’em.”
Just let me explain by examples. My party’s in power in the city, and it’s goin’ to undertake a lot of public improvements. Well, I’m tipped off, say, that they’re going to lay out a new park at a certain place.
I see my opportunity and I take it. I go to that place and I buy up all the land I can in the neighborhood. Then the board of this or that makes its plan public, and there is a rush to get my land, which nobody cared particular for before.
Ain’t it perfectly honest to charge a good price and make a profit on my investment and foresight? Of course, it is. Well, that’s honest graft. Or supposin‘ it’s a new bridge they’re goin’ to build. I get tipped off and I buy as much property as I can that has to be taken for approaches. I sell at my own price later on and drop some more money in the bank.
Wouldn’t you? It’s just like lookin‘ ahead in Wall Street or in the coffee or cotton market. It’s honest graft, and I’m lookin’ for it every day in the year.
The key point, however, is that the park gets built; the bridge gets built. For example, this bridge was built in Plunkett and Tweed’s day:
Now, to circle back to Rauner, Baker, Kashkari, and Raimondo: All, if elected, will be in a position to influence state pension funds to invest in financial vehicles like private equities which, as Yves has exhaustively shown, do not deliver promised returns and extract exorbitant fees. If they do, Rauner, Baker, Kashkari, and Raimondo will be engaged in dishonest graft. They’ll be trying to sell me a bridge, for sure; but there is no bridge, and never will be.
 They call it a vehicle because it’s designed to drive off with your money.
 And that’s before we get to the social evils that private equity creates: The asset stripping, the transfer income from workers to investors, breaches of trust, and rent extraction generally.
“As the state’s General Treasurer, she has blocked the release of state documents about pension fees, issuing a letter backing financial executives who want to “keep this information confidential to help preserve the productivity of their staff and to minimize attention around their own compensation.” ”
I’ve noticed lately that American politicians are saying a lot of things to defend their buddies on Wall Street that would equally well defend members of the Mafia with very little modification. I mean, mob dons would love to “keep information confidential to help preserve the productivity of their associates and to minimize attention around their own compensation”, wouldn’t they? And then there’s the whole “profits wash away all sins” attitude, well, they should be championing folks like Lucky Luciano to be consistent.
Just as some very small people will defeat some other very small people on Tuesday, certain very large young men from Florida defeated other very large lads from Georgia yesterday. Thousands gnashed their teeth and clawed at their garments at the outcome. What’s for lunch?
For the record, Massachusetts has the ominous reputation o our past three (3) State House Speakers in a row indicted and convicted of felonies. The fourth, and current Speaker Robert DeLeo, is already and “unindicted co-conspirator”. I’ve been following the Charlie Baker race, and the alleged corruption connection with New Jersey, no here here is talking about it. His challenger, and current Attorney General Martha Coakley if everyone remembers, was weak against TBTF banks in foreclosure fraud. Massachusetts was ground zero for plaintiffs in defending themselves against TBTF with multiple victories, she did not capitalize on them, she caved like everyone else.
This is what we’re left with. Two candidates that have a lot to be desired, and any challengers are purposefully left out of any and all debates, so no one even knows who they are. I don’t have an answer for this paradigm, but going forward, I think it gets worse, not better, because regardless of Party, corruption of almost any kind is now accepted.
Sadly, if the history of our neigbhours to the south is any guide, we fall into permanent low level civil war. That big expensive Homeland Security Service has to have something to do. Corruption doesn’t breed more corruption. Corruption is a form of violence. So, corruption breeds violence. This being the Modern America, that violence will be equal opportunity. It’s sad to say this because most of the victims of state supported and created violence are innocents. Look to the past years in Iraq for an example.
With so much at stake in the midterms, I just do not understand how anybody could be bored by them. I think your characterization of what is going on in Massachusetts between Coakley and Baker is a little off. Coakley has talked about Baker’s conflicts of interest at least in so far as his pay to play scheme in New Jersey is concerned.
You may be right about Coakley’s actions with regard to Goldman Sachs, but until I hear more details, I think you could just as well be wrong. Martha Coakley is the Attorney General who went after the big banks for mortgage fraud. That’s more than Obama’s DOJ has done.
Right, like which set of plutocrats will be given the go ahead to continue looting the country? I’m on the edge of my seat….
Like will we continue to allow the .1% to continue class war on all of us.
Like the Pension War against working class people.
Maybe you’re rich and you can just sit back a Complain.
But, for many of us the CONSTANT attack on Social Security has got to END.
We’re Sick and Tired of it.
The rich are HOARDERS, they care Nothing about a working economy, they just want it all, and if they turn America into Economic Afghanistan.
Maybe you have the Luxury to Pretend “They’re all alike”, but us in the 99% attempting to Just Hold On to Our Houses, it’s a different story.
Does it really accomplish anything to be bored? Vote for the state referendums. Vote the bottom of the ticket and for state offices if you can find anyone decent.
As for the Federal office holders, pick a strategy or many: leave them blank, vote 3rd party, throw the bums out never mind which bums replace them etc.. If your Federal representatives are actually good, I find it hard to imagine your situation, mine while ok on some things just vote for wars all the time.
So much is at stake, man! Everyone should realize Alien Overlord B is infinitely better than Alien Overlord A!
It’s not really that bad. Democrats are like the brake and Republicans are like the gas. If you vote for the brake, we get to hell a little bit slower. That’s worth my 21 minutes at the voting shed.
Coakley was weak and late. She had cases handed to her on a plate on this and other fronts she ignored. But weak is less bad than affirmatively corrupt, which is what Baker looks to be.
As for Charlie Baker’s scandals, the Globe, which just endorsed Baker, did everything it could to bury that story. The only reason it got traction was because Coakley brought it up in the debate AND the moderator gave a follow-up question that Baker fumbled.
Well here in Montgomery County Maryland we have the “Democratic Team” for State and County, including Barkley running for the county, who was last heard from for charging big expenses to stay in a hotel while attending a conference in DC, 20 miles down the road from home – since MoCo is adjacent to the DC line. Yet the rest of the “Team” is standing with him with no explanation, apology or alternative. Then there’s another slate of candidates who are running as the alternative to “One Party Government” in Maryland. No party given, no statement of any agenda or any positive reasons to vote for them. I think we all know who this band of Nebbishes is. There are no Independents or Greens running, even for County. Besides a perfunctory leaflet I have seen no electioneering here in the County (granted I don’t watch any commercial TV, and have no cable package, so that outlet is a non-starter in our household).
The most electrifying ‘election’ in recent years was the Scottish Independence Vote back in September. There was nobody on the sidelines, every voter you heard from, on either side of the question had passionately argued reasons for their choice. Why can’t we have votes here that are tied to known and profound consequences?
Secession votes? Bring ’em on!
Well, we could have an election “tied to known and profound consequences” like the one in 1860. Corruption as defined by that great British Whig statesman Robert Walpole as “every man has his price” does have its uses sometimes.
I don’t have a problem with investment types going into government–I’m not sure I see the problem. Most major institutions and most professions in our country are deeply corrupt–one sort of corruption is as good as another. Now corruption from long, long ago at least was productive for society–I don’t begrudge public officials from taking a little cut if they actually do a good job. We had a balance once–the Washington DC of my youth was a mixture of old fashioned corruption, honesty, idealism (often misplaced). Politicians weren’t automatically on the take or interested in the welfare of only the rich. A sense of honor did exist though it did not dominate–Washington was, as it happened, on the way to where it is today–a Byzantine capital full of twisted plots, cabals, and skullduggery and the motto of the city is “no good deep goes unpunished.” The best we can do is to turn Congress and the White House into art galleries or museums and start again in another city. We need a new form of government–this one is obsolete and absurd. We have a government formed in the 18th century and and educational system stuck in the 19th century and a form of medicine that still lives in the world of mid-twentieth century. None of it works–so we have to deconstruct it all and start again.
At this point I consider the US to be a failed state in every sense of the word, therefore voting is less than pointless, it’s laughable. And that’s and even less radical viewpoint than the one most people in my experience have, which is that if they pay attention to politics or voting at all, and most don’t, it’s to vote for a single issue or closely arrayed group of issues, more often than not simply identity politics; supporting a woman or a minority, a religious agenda, and LGBT agenda, an America uber alles agenda, a debt reduction agenda, an anti-gun control agenda, etc. In that respect, substantive issues across the board get swept under the rug and ignored until they themselves become crises and attract their own agenda crowd led by some charismatic figure. And so we see a never ending parade of crises on the national stage until people’s political adrenal glands give out and they shut down. Absent actual coherent leadership acting in the broad public interest (the proverbial statesmen of old), capitalism driven democracy devolves into a public food fight over narrow agendas dominated by those who can attract the most money to their cause. That it’s failed for 90%+ of us has already been determined. What that failure will eventually mean remains to be seen. I agree, the current system cannot be reformed. It must be thoroughly exposed as fraudulent and shown the door for good.
Two things we can do in order of importance: 1) enjoy ourselves–live fully in as stress free a manner as possible; and 2) try as much as possible to help people see the reality of the cultural system we live in that encourages unnecessary suffering and, frankly, the destruction of the eco-system.
Agreed. Not much more can be done for now until the system reaches critical mass and implodes of its own accord. It’s simply too powerful and all-encompassing to be resisted head-on.
The protesters in Ferguson and the students in Hong Kong disagree, obviously.
Not exactly. They, too, are trying to change people’s minds. Same as Occupy Wall Street, Food Not Bombs, climate change demonstrators, and so on.
Interesting Freudian slip I made “deep” instead of “deed.” I am dyslexic and actually type words I use to write wront, the following letters confounded me: b, d, g, p–often writing “p” instead of “d” or “g” in place of “b” and now I do it even when I type on occasion.
I cannot believe what you wrote. “Investment types” with clear conflicts of interest are fine by you because we should all lie back and think of England while we are being raped. As in we should get with the program and learn to love our rapists.
Did you miss that in pretty much every race there IS a choice?
DownSouth did find this commenter quite neo imo, albeit revisionist or obfuscationistic.
You should be relieved. We are entering the Era of No Pretense. The corruption is becoming naked and unapologetic.
Those of us preoccupied with abstractions like principles, ethics, and justice can relax. There will be none to worry about.
The sad thing in Rhode Island is that none of the three contenders for the Democratic nomination, Angel Tavares, Clay Pell, and Gina Raimondo offered any real alternative to the neoliberal, Wall St. friendly, DLC agenda. Most of my friends back up there saw Pell as the least offensive, since his patrician background affords him the opportunity to be a little more independent of the vampire squid. Of course this was a pretty weak argument, given the likelihood that Clay would be just as much a disappointment for people who respected his father Claiborne, as Andrew has been for people who respected Mario Cuomo.
The Republican Alan Fung is trying to make hay out of Raimondo’s hedge fund cronyism, but this is such an obvious case of the pot calling the kettle black that it’s getting little traction. Lil’ Rhody is essentially screwed, and people up there know it!
There are four experiments going on to see whether the iron curtain of the national and nationalized local media can be broken. The first is the Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina, which has spread to a few other states. Organized by the NAACP, teacher unions, and religious left organizations, it is increasing the voter turnout in elections beyond the polls’ “likely voter” screen and mobilizing the vote for an intersecting group of progressive issues. The second is the Democratic unity campaign in Georgia, which has set as a goal turning out 50 voters per precinct who voted in 2008 and 2012 but did not vote in 2010. The third is the Weiland campaign in South Dakota which has done retail politics in every town and has a massive get out the vote campaign on reservations.
The question these experiment pose is whether it is possible to beat big money post-Citizens United campaigns. For progressives still in the Democratic Party, this is a critical test. Failure to beat money power with people power even when it is highly motivated means that the Democratic establishment will continue to be captive of campaign money and that there is no route to progressive policies within the parties. Yes, I know that a lot of progressives decided that was the case in 1968 and others came to that conclusion at various points since then.
But what that final capitulation by the Democratic Party would mean is that the oft-quoted demographic change argument for Democratic recapture of government finally does not matter because of the flood of money and more especially propaganda unleashed since the Citizens United decision and the 2010 gerrymandering where Republicans had power.
The midterms are boring because the Wall Street media decided to report them so. Instead of substantive policy discussions, we were fed one scaremongering story after the other with the GOP capstone ad pulling them all together as ISIS-ebola-Obama-Guantanamo-he-can’t-keep-you-safe-vote-GOP, which ran in every close race. The corrupt hand of the Wall Street media was also evidence in Chuck Todd’s proclamation of Allison Lundergran Grimes “disqualification” to be Senator because of her failure to say who she voted for for President. And the fluffing of Joni Ernst’s candidacy in Iowa, while keeping her from having to answer substantive questions at all. And Joni Ernst unplugged makes Sarah Palin’s word salad look good by comparison. So the media will probably get its wish of 52 R’s and 48 D’s in the Senate and a circus to report for the next two years before Ms. Inevitable ascends the throne.
It’s worse than boring. It’s the collapse of American politics altogether. The powers that be no longer are bothering to manufacture consent. The consequences is that politics will now become outside electoral politics, and one trend to watch in this is how the authorities respond to the Texas movement “black open carry”.
If you look beyond the Wall Street media, the political situation is in ferment. Almost everywhere. Even in the South.
Indeed. I know the post was a sarcastic question, but in truth, the GOP and Wall Street are not at all bored about this election.
There is one and only once exciting answer for the left: vote third party.
Feel the empowering thrill of voting for someone whose values, policies, and affiliations you actually largely agree with and support.
Feel the visceral power of standing up, refusing to be scared, and sticking it to the corporate feckless Vichy Dems by refusing to accept their endless Lucy Van Pelt appeasement shifts to the right.
Feel the satisfaction of knowing that this is the one realm where a simple individual action still sends a message to people who are watching very closely.
Feel the gratification in knowing that by putting your vote where you want the politicians to be, you are creating a space that someone will eventually fill.
Feel the life-affirming, democracy-validating, universal enlightenment glow of voting FOR something for a change.
The makings of a third party exist. Non-voters represent the largest plurality of the total potential electorate (>40%). They lean heavily to the left on issues of economic and social equality. Dems have pissed away their golden opportunity to mobilize enough of these people to secure a durable majority. It’s pathetic and indicative of the party’s unwillingness to fundamentally challenge our economic class structure.
Non-voters are a mixed group. There are lots of reasons for not voting. Not being able to get off from work is a huge one.
Voting third party only works if there has been sufficient preparation and effort to get out enough votes to win. Or unless it is a stalking horse third party meant to suck votes from the most corporate party, a very difficult false flag to engineer. Third parties must play to win; nobody’s listening to the “sending Democrats a message” bunch. And for Congress, winning takes 180,000 or more voters actually marking a ballot. That’s a heavy lift starting from scratch. Those numbers cannot be put together at the last minute as a protest.
The reality is that before the Vichy Dems can be defeated, you have to defeat the GOP Corporate Axis. That reality is in the numbers. The role for the third party has to take away from GOP voters first to enable the Democrats to move toward that third party. Or the third party needs to be a primary insurgency within the Democratic Party that actually wins general elections; that is the way conservatives took over the Republican Party.
Outside of that all third party strategies wind up empowering the very folks that the third party wants to take power away from. It’s a huge strategic conundrum for progressives that they better start taking more seriously. Otherwise you will have consolidated a GOP one-party state in almost every state in the country.
That’s the other thing that third parties tend to miss by prematurely going national. Power at the state level gives the leverage that makes gaining power nationally easier.
So does changing the political culture.
From ’06 and more so after ’08 the Dems had the means to drive a stake through the heart of the rump, right-wing party that is the Republicans. But they have essentially refused to pick up and wield the weapon of class politics and are facing the consequences. See my comment above regarding the electorate’s largest plurality: non-voters.
The fundamental awakening that makes third party voting easy arrives at the moment you realize that it’s not that the Dems are unable to counter the right, it is that they don’t want to.
The (in)actions of the Dems during their period of power monopoly and post-bush mandate is all the evidence you should need.
Otherwise you will have consolidated a GOP one-party state in almost every state in the country.
One party states, whether D or R, are inherently unstable and much easier to expose when fraudulent. Maybe that should be the goal? Call it consolidate and conquer. There’s not enough legitimate difference between the two as it is to support two parties, and I think it would send a powerful message to the last party standing (presumably the Rs) if the Ds were to go extinct altogether. As in, the only thing standing between you a**holes and the lamp posts now is… NOTHING!
Then, the best third-party move would be in Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, or Wyoming. Because I don’t see any Democratic one-party states.
Maryland is about one-party Dem as you can get.
Then run a Republican to the left of the Democratic Party and see what happens.
Oregon, California, New York – for all practical purposes – are Dem one-party states. I’m sure there are more that I’m less aware of.
Well I intend to vote Green for Governor and U.S. Senate despite the facts I cannot register as Green in my State thanks to both D’s and R’s in our legislature…. and I think the U.S. Senate as a body should be abolished. I don’t know or care if our incumbent County Sheriff is R, D or from the planet Xenon I’m telling everyone I know he should be tossed out no matter what or who his challenger is. Here’s why.
All other boxes on the ballot will remain blank. Regardless of the outcome, refusing to play by your limitations, TDem, well that’s a win for me. And I honor those who refuse to play at all …you know the 40 percent plurality a great deal more than the D vs R.
Well, I didn’t say it was easy… but don’t think for an instant that the DLC Dems are not quite scared and enraged by third party threats. No sir, their rage is palpable, and their efforts to squash it are extensive.
I think the horse is out of the barn though in terms of corporate consolidation. Much of the dialog on the third party question carries the implicit frame that there is a directional difference between the two parties on the fundamental question of neoliberalism. There is not; the only difference is a question of scope and pace. Neoliberalism is the starting point for both, and revolving door cronyism a matter of course for both.
All true indeed that the work must be done kitchen table to kitchen table, and then in office locally from dogcatcher on up – and importantly county clerks and district attorneys.
And it is also true, yes, in order to pull the third party lever you need to be ready for things to get worse before they get better. Just like kicking out an abusive husband, or leaving an alcoholic spouse, or truly turning the other cheek in the face of police dogs and racist crackers with fire hoses.
In the meantime, the only power and dignity available lies in being a refusenik. And taking your chances with a vote of confidence.
not “confidence”; “conscience.” Vote of conscience.
For all that Conscience of a Conservative stuff, Goldwater lost big in 1964. Nixon won in 1968 because the establishment of the Democratic Party acted like a tyrant, Nixon got in bed with the bigots in the South and the urban ethnic suburbs (Cicero and Southie come to mind), and Hubert Humphrey was a smiling insipid fool. And the anti-war movement moved labor from Democratic voters to Republican voters.
Don’t think that the cheap action of voting changes things one way or another. Changing the political culture is going to take a lot of effort continuously over political cycles. Building strong third parties is going to take a lot of effort continuously over political cycles. Popping up and voting third party as a protest or to salve your conscience is pretty transparently ineffective and doesn’t do squat but perpetuate self-deception and continuous losses on the left.
The biggest progressive task is getting the left admitted back into legitimate political conversation instead of being shouted down and repressed by police force. Where are the third parties on civil liberties and public space?
What I know is that I do not want to see Thom Tillis to have power in DC nor Richard Burr to control the Senate Intelligence Committee. My ballot is such that the only option I have for stopping them is to vote for Hagan, whose staff hold their constituents in contempt.
My vote is a strategically cast vote. I send my messages directly to Hagan’s staff by calling them on the phone and trying to get beyond the intern who manages the opinion spreadsheets to actually talk to an aide who knows something.
I sure hope someone has their winning third party or their revolution ready to go over the next two years. Because regardless of the outcome of the midterms, it is going to be a hellacious and dirty fight between the Democrats and Republicans that will get absolutely nothing done by more war. And I don’t see any work going on for 2016 except for Hillary and anti-Hillary. And it’s the legislatures that the Koch Brothers have been targeted to be the firewall against change. Changing 50 Koch-written laws will be much harder than changing 1 federal law, especially given the fact that 2010 allowed significant GOP gerrymandering and that will not change until 2020 unless some legal eagle can get a conservative Supreme Court to overturn gerrymandered districts wholesale.
I like that.
As soon as some third party candidates show up on the ballot. Ours (CA) doesn’t even have write-in slots for most, if the sample ballot is an accurate copy of the real one, at least. OTOH, most of our candidates seem to be quite high-quality this time, so perhaps we can credit the new election procedure here where the top two get on the ballot regardless of party. I was surprised to see that the one race with a write-in slot seemed to anticipate that it would be needed–the official candidates, indeed, both suck.
Your’re encountering the evils of the top-two runoff: it’s designed to keep real alternatives off the ballot that counts.
I’m just hoping it loses again in Oregon – we’ll have some heavy strategizing to do if it passes.
Voting third party only works in a state with third parties that arnt big L Libertarian. Because thats about all ive got in Georgia, and not even enough of those to make a difference anyway.
The corruption started with the elites and has gradually trickled down to the public at large. There is no need to “manufacture consent” because the job has been done too well. The vast majority of citizens are not able to think rationally even if they want to or even if they try. So the problem, as I often say here, is not political or economic but cultural–as long as we live in the Culture of Narcissism we will continue on the path of destruction. The more rational you are the more you suffer–right now we have to focus on being able to face reality and, at the same time, not be over-stressed.
Did you explain the fourth? I saw three.
Get ready for Obama’s unveiling.
The true Corporatist Republican he is is going to be on full view for the next two years.
There will be Social Security and Medicare slashing.
There will a tax holiday for corporations to bring back their stashed trillions offshore and send it to the top.
There will be a legalized flood of tens of millions of foreigners to take from American the few jobs there are.
There will be no subsidies for Obamacare but you still will have to have it by law and pay outrageous premiums.
Oh it won’t be boring if you are the 99%.
In addition the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership will be a go per Romney on the TV.
He says the Republicans want it and Obama will sign it.
Weren’t the Republicans the only thing preventing the slashing of Social Security and Medicare? Not that they are particularly reliable on the issue, but I’m all so confused which major party one should vote for if they don’t want them slashed.
The true corporate Republican (or perhaps more accurate the true neocon) is already on view in Obama for anyone paying the tiniest bit of attention. War on Syria. Enough said.
The Republicans wouldn’t take the deal because it wasn’t severe enough for the TeaTard wing.
Let me tell you we are going to get an assault on the Social Security and Medicare.
This is their chance to mix up the blame in the minds of Americans and they are going to take it.
GOP voters soured on Dubya’s move to privatize Social Security in 2005. The GOP dropped like a stone. Terri Schaevo was cooked up to stem the bleeding. Polling would indicate it worked.
Between despising Democrats and the age of GOP voters, they aren’t going to support any changes to Social Security. They stopped their congressmen then too.
The killing of social security will have a deferred effective date.
You call them TeaTards, I call them effecfive.
Yep. The Republicans fear the Tea Party, and the Democrats kick the left. There’s only one way for that dynamic to stop, and that’s for the Democrats to lose because of the left, and to know that, and to accept it. Sorry, but that’s how it is.
I lack sympathy for the world-weary and the misanthropes, who are too alienated to bother to vote the bums out. I’m not bored with the mid-terms, because yesterday I learned that Wall Street is spending more on this election than ever before, two-thirds of the money is going to Republicans, and the top Republicans in the House have gotten $1 million apiece from the banker types. This largess is going to people whose number one issue has been to shut the government down to the point of default. Pfui. Yes, it’s a racket, and that’s a time-honored tradition. But at least newly-elected representatives are not corrupt yet. Nothing changes, if the faces don’t change. In fact, if the faces don’t change, it just gets worse.
Voting the bums out where I live means voting Republican, and I very well might. I’m tired of warmonger Dems. 3rd parties? Hilarious but open primaries killed 3rd parties in the general election in this state, so no, not on the ballot.
“But at least newly-elected representatives are not corrupt yet.”
By the time they’ve already done a lap on Wall Street, K street, or a law firm – and/or sucked up contributions and spent some time in state office – before running for federal office, their soul is long sold already.
That is an excellent argument to make, individually. Voters can vocally call attention to nascent cronies, lapdogs and yes-men, if they speak up. Otherwise, no one may hear it.
Voting bums out and replacing them with more bums is such a great idea, please tell us more.
According to Dr. James McHenry’s notes, as Benjamin Franklin was leaving the Constitutional Convention of 1787: “A lady asked Dr. Franklin, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” replied the Doctor, “if you can keep it.”” Even if we replace the bums with more bums, we will have kept our republic intact. We protect our right to elect our representatives by exercising that right.
And pray tell, whats the point of keeping a ‘right’ that accomplishes no practical change whatsoever?
If we lost the right to vote, maybe people would wake up to the fact that the only change in this country will come from alternative social mobilisation. As it is voting is just handcuffs on the american populace. Alternatives are required to make the elite listen.
Franklin knew that much: Otherwise he would have argued that they should have brought up issues in the british parliament instead of revolt.
What if I think near-revanchist loyalty to the 18th century and groveling worship of hierarchical power are the problem? There’s a reason to stay home and be proud of it.
They’re corrupt already, but many of them are not yet murderers.
Politix is worse than an NPR special. Nothing important can ever be discussed. So they make up pointless stuff to talk about. Cool. Mesmerize me please. And while I’m sleeping Congress can hand over the rest of the money in pension funds to private investors who will then use it to participate in public-private partnerships with the government. Can’t make this stuff up. So it will never be a sappy Sunday morning story on NPR.
It makes me somewhat sad to read posts that say voting is useless, which while mainly true due to the candidates vetted by Wall St first that we get to choose from, it’s the only real power we have left. Not voting, to TPTB, means that the populous actually supports them so much that they feel they don’t need to vote ! Twisted, yeah. But we did get rid of that boil on the butt of humanity, Eric Cantor, because people voted. Every vote counts and is taken into consideration by TPTB. They desperately seek public apathy and every vote signals we are not going to be quiet. Do not go gentle into that good night. Vote your conscience, vote 3rd party, but most of all vote.
I don’t think it’s the only real power we have left, but it might still be *a* power (especially in things like state referendums, it’s harder to argue pure lesser evilism is a way to exert much power over anything).
I had made up my mind to write my own name in if I didn’t like either candidate. Fit it in there somehow, cross out their names and insert my own – but there were enough independent choices that I didn’t need to.
The problem is that by the time you get to the ballot box, the frame is already set. We need to work on attacking ideology and culture. The ballot box isn’t a terribly effective intervention point.
There’s no reason for you to be sad. The post doesn’t say that. Maybe you’re thinking of some other post.
No, not here. I have seen only one local pol who seems enlightened. He has enough money to put some of his own into his campaign, but unfortunately not enough to have been coached on how to debate his opponent effectively. Not a chance of winning.
More worrying is the fact that I don’t find many people who seem to notice. They seem to sign on to Rs or Ds and think that is the answer to our problems.
I would like to suggest that your boredom comes from focusing on Guv mansions and Senate seats. Once you come out of the clouds and down to the local level where state representatives and judges are being elected you’ll find more with which to pay attention. As one local online publication said, it’s “a demolition derby of a ballot, caked with mud and soaked in ugly. We have two dueling and confusingly intertwined measures about how to educate your stupid fucking brats (oops..I mean) your children, who are our (potentially dystopian) future. We have a bunch of judges going at each over dicks not sucked, “carpool” Corvettes, and who disbarred whom and when. (Really!) And if all that’s not enough to make you glad you don’t have a weapon at home, well, we also have two totally incompatible measures on access to firearms!” Icing on the cake? Washingont State is already in contempt of the Washington State Supreme Court for failing to fund basic education. It’s described as a clusterf*ck of a ballot. For heaven’s sake…git on out to Washington State where the action is. Plus we have plenty of legal pot, water…cold, fresh, and ready to water the plants and wash the car.
Right “come back down to earth”. Focusing on the top of the ticket seems somehow akin to putting our money in the stock market in hopes of riches in retirement. We don’t control it, it’s corrupt, and it’s probably squandering what little we may have in money/power for an illusion.
Published by the Democratic bundler that sold out queers for bourgeois LGBTs? I trust nothing out of that man anymore, after his Russophobia-on-demand which just happened to turn on and off when convenient for the Party.
Perhaps, the political class is bored, but I don’t think Lambert is feeling boredom as much as a genuine disinterest and recognition that Washington is a spectacle not made for compassionate people. It’s for the vapid and people who think Aaron Sorkin is a philosopher (Sports Night was a wonderful show).
I caught CNN for a few minutes, and the morning anchor had just been covering an Iowa campaign event, it was probably a Bill or Hillary appearance. He said the loudest response came after a frail voice in the crowd said, “we know what’s wrong with them. What’s right with you?”
I don’t know what Democratic elites think, and I suspect the smarter ones have recognized Obama isn’t the 853rd dimensional chess player they believed he was. They also recognize the Obots they empowered are the only people who going to their events. Politics is Hollywood for ugly people. They love to be recognized. Their campaigns reflect that. Their messaging is designed to appeal to bourgeois idiots despite that not possibly being enough to win an election. Mark Warner is running an ad with a Republican sheriff boss hawg look alike in areas with a high African-American population or at least where African Americans make up at least half the potential Democratic vote. Warners lead is shrinking. He’ll probably still win, but in the morning, will they wonder why promises to fix the national debt didn’t turn out the youth, women, and minorities?
I suppose it’s not boredom as much as the populace is showing as much interest as the Democrats have shown in their base.
On a positive note, I find it hilarious Reid and Pelosi are facing questions about Wall St giving to the GOP.
I’d add that the Democrats are too clever by half, enthralled at their own genial incompetence, whereas the Republicans are too stupid by half, besotted by the crisis of monotheism and the fiction of the free market. Obama is the very epitome of too clever by half. He is no legislator, and he is no deep thinker (but then nor was Jimmy Carter). Obama squandered his majorities in the Congress, Reid is defeated by “filibusters” that never seem to happen, and Pelosi left out of Obama’s club (which doesn’t include many girls). There are many important matters on the ballots in the states, but the corruption in Washington and on Wall Street has produced stagnation, which is one thing that corruption is designed to do (and something little discussed).
Pelosi is left out? She is the one who told the caucus in 2009 they wouldn’t pass legislation that would affect donations. She is just like Hillary, hiding behind a positive stereotype.
Pelosi has had opportunities. We know where she is when Rush Limbaugh calls some girl a slut, but when Carl Levin is defending the rapists at the Pentagon, she defends him. Obama might not like women, but Pelosi largely agrees with Obama.
If anyone could have stood up to Obama, it was her, not the Mormon CONVERT.
” Impeachment is off the table.”
Does anyone remember that? Does anyone remember who said it? I remember.
That was Pelosi’s immortal “Ford pardons Nixon” moment. Pelosi is a CheneyBush Democrat.
(David Emory has referred to Pelosi as a “Bormann Democrat”. That’s “Bormann” as in “Martin Bormann”. But then David Emory was never an Official Leftist Gatekeeper the way Chomsky is.
And Chomsky would never call Pelosi a “Bormann Democrat”.)
I live in Chicago, and I’d like to see Rauner lose just because of who he is. If he was running against Rahm I wouldn’t care much, but Pat Quinn is a fairly feckless operator and endearing in that way.
Other than that, the midterms are entirely boring. It’s funny to see what seems to me as a decrease in general apathy coinciding with an increase in electoral apathy. At this stage, it makes perfect sense.
I am not feeling bored by the midterms. I don’t want the nut cases running the house running the Senate. There are plenty of drawbacks to the Senate but I think that we need to enforce the regulations on business especially the financial industry and add some more especially where oil and gas are concerned. I am really tired of attacks on women and the lack of reality. Unfortunately too many people listen to FOX news yet. 30,000 missing voter registrations in GA and you are bored?? Fundamental liberty is being taken away?
I don’t understand these people. They want to get rid of Government, but it they actually do that, they won’t have anything to loot.
What are you talking about? The corporate form provides endless looting opportunities for the open-eyed executive.
Great comments. I think Frederic Bastiat’s observation bears repeating:
H O P
Tallahassee is doing something local to get money and corruption out of politics. Something we can all emulate.
Tallahassee city commissioners agreed unanimously to place on fall ballots a proposed charter amendment that would create a new ethics officer and board, place a lower cap on campaign contributions and allow for limited public financing of campaigns. I can’t figure out how the links thing works, so :
The supporters say we don’t need a Constitutional amendment to get rid of corruption and money in politics. We can do it local
Give a rat’s ass about elections? Hey, everybody needs a hobby, as the saying goes.
Lots of Dem Party Judas steers popping up to herd us down their cattle chute to the polls. But if you want to control systemic corruption, you don’t do it with choreographed installation of candidates chosen by corporate-owned parties. Only civil society can do it, and only if they go over the head of this kleptocracy to the world. Internationalism from below – it’s not just for Marxists anymore! TIRI‘s got it down.
Fck the Dems. If the GOP takes control that’s fine by me. It increases the likelihood of Washington getting incinerated by a nice tight laydown of thermonuclear airbursts. And that may be the prerequisite for meaningful reform.
Hmm interesting we had a labor department that under Bush that told companies how to get around paying overtime. Now we have a labor department that aggressively pursues wage theft and has collected millions of dollars for workers.. So apparently it’s just fine if the budget to do this is cut? So it’s Ok if the minimum wage is never increased or could be removed? It’s Ok if safety regulations protecting consumers and workers are removed? It’s Ok if access to contraception is greatly reduced or even eliminated? So it’s OK to go back to insurance companies denying people with pre-existing conditions health care? It’s Ok to repeal legislation on equal pay? It’s Ok to continue to suppress votes and maybe even expand the voter suppression. Glad you are fine with this, cause I’m not. There are plenty of things I disagree with with the Dems, but I am not blind to what happened over the past few years. Shut down government?
Compared to what needs to be done, these minor tinkerings round the edges are pathetically inadequate.
Is there anybody who’s even awake? who are these people. I don’t have a clue anymore since the TV went out to the curb years ago. It’s like living in a separate reality. A reality where there’s trees and sunlight and faces on the street. Real things. Streetlights at night with their hollow glows and streaks of color reflecting off the rainy pavement. And steam. There’s always steam in New Yawk, steam pluming in grey moist clouds from grates in the asphalt.
Evidently these people exist in a parallel universe — where financial cretins run amok and people suck butts for money so they can get elected and when they’re elected they spend most of their time sucking butts for money. Who’d want to live in that universe? That’s a rhetorical question. I will admit: not me. That’s why the TV went out the door and landed on the curb. Or at least the basement where the super did something with it. Put it on the curb.
Bombing and killing, looting and fleecing, pepper spraying and beating, this is the reality they preside over. Why do they do that? That’s hard to say. It could be original sin or it could be manifest destiny or it could be the Monroe Doctrine or it could be they’re just completely insane.
My money is on the latter theory. Complete insanity. Can you imagne what Thomas Paine would think if he could see it now? There in that French jail, you beam down like Star Trek and you say “Hey Tom. I’m from the future. I just wanna show you something. This is 240 years from now. This is what it’s like. What do you think?”
I bet he’d say something like “Doesn’t surprise me. What did you expect? perfection.” hahahahaha
That’s why he’s Thomas Paine and I’m in the peanut gallery. Oh well, You learn from the masters but you’re not necessarily one yourself.
This is a very annoying post (hey, there, Yves), and many of the responses are equally annoying and exasperating. I live in a state where Kirsten Gillibrand is one of the Senators, and Jerrold Nadler is a Congressman, and Benjamin Lawsky is Superintendent of Financial Services, and none of them produces a “ho-hum” reaction in me. And the first two didn’t elect themselves. Those of you who perpetually complain about Barack Obama: do you really think there’s no difference between him and Mitt Romney? Or between him and Sarah Palin? Or between him and Paul (shudder) Ryan?
Mrs. Winston Churchill once ejected a dinner guest who tried out the lazy and stupid cliché, “All politicians are alike.” Mr. Churchill, discussing the invasion of Poland, remarked, “there are thoughtless dilettanti or purblind wordlings who sometimes ask us, ‘What is it that Britain and France are fighting for?’ To this I answer, ‘If we left off fighting you would soon find out!”
Why do we bother to vote? Why do we fight to hold on to a Democratic Senate? If we badly lose this election, you will soon find out.
I’m sorry you’re annoyed. We all have the crosses we have to bear.
Lawsky was not elected. He’s an accidental good appointment by the horrible Cuomo. I think Cuomo decided to appoint someone good simply to stymie Attorney General Schneiderman.
I’m sorry, but you’re falling into the trap that there are only two choices – Democrats or Republicans. It sure looks like that at the first look… But I’d invite you to look at the UK politics, which only a decade ago looked like two-parties sewn-up game.
Arguably, gerrymandering in the UK is nowhere the levels of US, but even then “safe” seats have been lost (Clacton comes to mind, and while that was the MP’s not the party’s constituency, Rochester is a different beast but looks like a close game). Note that I don’t conside the rise of UKIP a good thing except that it put some competition into the stagnant pool (or rather shows that competition is possible).
It’s a sewn up game only as long as people believe it’s a sewn up game, and it definitely looks like you see it that way.
Yes, I think there is no difference between Obama and Romney, and any difference between Obama and Ryan is too small to prevent them from co-conspiring together to destroy Social Security.
Good article but there are two points to clear up:
(1) Neel Kashkari is a Democrat who is running against another Dem under California’s Top-Two primary system. He has been endorsed by the San Jose Chamber of commerce and is quite popular among high-tech wealth for being one of them and for supporting making “hard choices” (read privatizing) social security.
(2) Prior to this Kashkari had one stint in “public service.” He was tapped by Hank Pauson to ran the TARP bailout program. As has been reported here that program involved rather massive unaudited spending and was roundly criticized by the SIGTARP inspector for failing to implement the most basic controls or even for asking, nicely, for the money to be spent on something other than whores and blow. Neel Kashkari was the guy issuing the checks.
has had one stint in public service. He was tapped by
Ack. And I even did a search on Kashkari, too! So I’m not the only one tripped up the the horrible top two system (designed to cement the two party duopoly in place forever). Thank for the correction.
Said it 2 years ago – Remember last time you got crushed for your treachery to voters? – and you Dem apparatchiks sat there with your tongues hanging out. So I’ll say it again. Not gonna lift a finger till I know you meet the minimal standards of the civilized world.
You don’t even know what those are, Do you?
You brainwashed parochial hacks have no idea what I’m talking about.
(1) The UN Charter. You broke it in Sirte, you tried your best to break it in Syria till Putin kicked your ass.
(2) Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You Dems wipe your ass with it every day. Bad-faith subversion of the ICCPR.
(3) Rome Statute. Look forward, not back. You worms can’t even comply with the Convention Against Torture.
So take your incremental millions of wage theft and equal measly pay and stick it up your ass, wrapped in a copy of ILO 87 and 98. Maybe you will learn your rock-bottom minimal obligations to American workers, by osmosis.
Janet, Deloser, you’re not listening. This is not you browbeating us, this is us browbeating you. Fuck the Dems. We are going to help your Quisling party die.
Board? Can’t imagine why. Take a look at Davis Docking’s platform, with the catch fraise “The right priorities.” Wow, I hoped he didn’t spend too much money getting that one from an ad firm.
And take a look at his platform. Well, once you find it.
Look no further. No really, don’t bother looking any further because you aren’t going to find any thing else. Just one graphic sums up his entire platform. Commonsense Leadership, the Right priorities (hick), value schools? Bipartisanship!! And this is the guy who is wining.
It’s the typical Democrat campaign strategy – show up, feed out the rope and wait for the Republican to hang himself with it.
And you just know there is some yes man out there who is praising Dockings for his brilliant campaign. At this point, I would vote for my pet rock over Brownback. Docking is better than my pet rock, so he gets my vote. /sarcasm/ Oh joy, oh joy, I am so excited, I can barley contain my excitement, /sarcasm off/
The Democrats are far from perfect. But in general Democrats are more socially liberal and fiscally liberal. This can be very important at the state level. I think the Republican takeover of Wisconsin was a disaster for many people.
Yep. It’s a shame the national Democrats hung the local Democrats out to dry in the recall (assuming the recall was good judgment, and the Democratic candidate was right, both open to question).
Democrats should bring back the 1890’s “populist” party and the social policies of Woodrow Wilson. Economic nationalism against international capitalism and Federal Jim Crow. That would move things!!!!!(lets note, I am joking). People only follow dialects nowadays anyways. Hell, Robert Welch was a Wall Streeter through and through, yet he used Bircherism dialectics to move mountains for his financiers. By the end of the 60’s, the post-war new liberalism had peaked and the Democratic party began to start doing as H.Humphrey said ‘stupid stuff'(supporting forced busing, affirmative action, institutional governing while ignoring the supply sider revolution coming around the bend). Now they just want to be be 1970’s era Republicans. Boring, boring dialect.
Very late to comment, but the most important thing about the mid-terms is that I don’t think H Clinton will run with both Houses in the other column and the prospect of another global economic rout.
And that in turn means 2016 is the time to pull the Dems out of the right-side neocon ditch and put their car back on the road in the passing lane on the left. I’ll say it again: the first man or woman of substance who starts talking about what is really happening and what really needs to be done will get a far, far more positive response than is widely believed – enough to force even the most lunk-headed cons back into the real arena of political discourse in a way the media must cover. The people are ready for leadership if only leadership would emerge.