Friday, December 26, 2014

2016: Candidates Needed - Apply Immediately

How Can Anyone Remain Loyal
to a Single Congressional Incumbent
With This Going On?

A contemporary political paradox which seems to perpetually baffle those who follow "opinion" polls while trying simultaneously to also comprehend election results. The US Congress -- referring to both the House and the Senate -- has effortlessly and consistently "brought home" a dismally well deserved approval rating in the 10% range for years.

Perhaps we should call it a "disapproval" rating.

If we wish to move beyond this aimless complaining to more productive thoughts, we would have to ask: "What would the Congress have to be like in order for it to enjoy a higher 'approval rating' in public opinion?"

A "follow up" question might have a somewhat easier answer: "Do you realize that your Representative and your Senator are part of the precise thing with this low approval rating?"

And our final question would be back in the "hard" to answer category: "What things has your Congressman or your Senator done which leads you to 'approve' of their Congressional performance and consider it an exception to the activities of the Congress of which you disapprove?"

MeanMesa suspects that somewhere around the second question, our "man on the street" would already be walling away. Feel free to consider such a statement as little more than a poetic lament, but remember that this "man on the street" is exactly the guy who provided Congress with that 10% "approval rating."  

The really creepy conclusion which is trying to "worm" its way into this post is that probably no existing majority in the American electorate can any longer even describe a Congress which would be "more approvable" than the ones we've had. It seems that if we wish to have a political party with a strong, functional majority which could favorably reach the voters answering these polling questions, we would have to form a "National Nihilism" Party.

This Washington Post article from 2013 spells out the contradiction. [Read the original article here - Washington Post. Original links remain enabled.]

People hate Congress. But most 
incumbents get re-elected. What gives?
May 9, 2013

In 2012, Congressional approval averaged 15 percent, the lowest in nearly four decades of Gallup polling. And yet, 90 percent of House Members and 91 percent of Senators who sought re-election won last November.

The seeming paradox between the low regard with which people hold Congress and the high rate of re-election of incumbents is explained well by new data released by Gallup on Thursday that points to a simple reality: People hate Congress but (generally) like their Member of Congress.

Gallup found that 46 percent of respondents said they approved of "the way the representative from your congressional district is handling his or her job "while 41percent disapproved. That's in spite of the fact that overall  Congressional approval was at just 16 percent in the same survey and hasn't been higher than 24 percent since the start of 2011.

Even more fascinating, Gallup asked a different set of respondents if they could name their Congressman and his/her party and then followed up with a question on whether they approved of the person.

Roughly one in three people (35 percent) could name their Member of Congress -- that was surprisingly high, at least to us -- and, of that group, 62 percent approve of how their Member of Congress is going about their job while 32 percent disapprove. "Americans who say they can name their congressional representative skew older, more highly educated and somewhat Republican," writes Gallup's Elizabeth Mendes.

The numbers tell a fascinating story.

First, they make clear that it's far easier to hate an institution -- like, say, FIFA -- than an individual, particularly an individual you sort-of, kind-of think you know. There's a natural tendency to assume your guy or gal isn't like everyone else -- how could they be bad since you voted for them? -- and they are doing everything they can to make things better up there/down there/out there in Washington.

Second, it's clear that the voters paying the most attention -- as in those who can, you know, name who represents them -- are far more positive about their Members' service than the average person in the district.  Voters paying more attention are, of course, much more likely to vote and, therefore, the sample of people actually turning out on election day tends to be favorably inclined toward their Member. That, in turn, makes the incumbent's re-election much more likely.

Those two factors help explain why Congressional approval is at record lows but re-election rates remain near or above 90 percent. Bloomberg's Greg Giroux notes that in 2010 84 percent of Senators and 85 percent of House members won re-election. But that appears to be the exception not the rule with 95 percent (or more) of House members typically winning re-election dating back four decades. (The last time -- aside from 2010 -- where less than 90 percent of House incumbents seeking re-election won was in 1974 when 89.6 percent did so.)

The message from voters to Congress? Throw the bums out. But not my bum.

Neither the essentially mediocre nature of the current incumbents nor the rattling electoral disinterest that served to elect them in the first place have produced anything particularly similar to a delicate treasure. The traditional excuse that a seated Congressman or Senator is too valuable to replace because he "is connected" or "knows the ropes" flew out of the Capital Building with Eric Cantor.

Tea baggers can't understand much. Because they lack the capacity for any significant understanding of what's happening around them, they feel more secure when they are creating chaos. In their dull world of pay offs and media induced ideology, a condition where no one can predict what might come next is highly preferable to the condition where only the other -- more rational, non-tea bag -- Congressmen and Senators can predict what might come next.

However, when one walks beyond the hearing distance from the Congressional blow-hards and bombasts of the constantly hyperbolic, squawking "tea bag revolution," an unexpectedly warm and reassuring political conclusion seems to be waiting to embrace you.

 Hey! YOU!
The Field is Open
The tattered debris of the GOP
has already started your campaign for you.

The Democratic Party is now all there is left of the theoretical "two party" system. Voters who are paying attention are painfully aware that they have been permanently excluded from the GOP "constituency." Most of this electorate will never vote for a Republican candidate again in their life times. 

Worse, there is of now, "no road back" for the GOP. We might think, occasionally, that the GOP could possibly redesign itself into something functional, but we have seen such cravenly deceptive, inauthentic attempts recently, and they are laughably cynical. Sit back, take a deep breath, and just try to dreamily imagine what changes that the now sharply minority party would have to make if it were to seriously set out to regain any of its traditional legitimacy.

Have a look at the "competition." [Excerpted. Read the entire article here - Washington Post ]

Good Riddance to the Worst Congress Ever

Opinion writer
December 19

The 113th Congress this week went the way of the dodo — literally.

The lawmakers of the 2013-2014 legislative session finally put themselves out of their misery but not before Harry Reid’s Senate passed one final piece of legislation: S. Res. 564, marking “the centennial of the passenger pigeon extinction.”

This bipartisan legislation recalled the Sept. 1, 1914, death at the Cincinnati Zoo of Martha, the last of a population of ectopistes migratorius, once 3 billion-strong in North America. It hailed the work of Project Passenger Pigeon, devoted to making sure Martha did not die in vain.

This commemoration of extinction was a perfect end to what was, by just about every measure, the worst Congress ever. 

According to a tally by the Library of Congress, 296 bills were presented to the president by this Congress — nearly the same as the 284 presented by the previous Congress, the fewest of any Congress since the counts began in the 1940s. (The “do nothing” Congress of 1948 passed about 900.) More than 10 percent of the bills presented were about naming or renaming things and awarding medals.

We're talking about YOU becoming a Congressman, here, that is, YOU putting together some sort of campaign team, raising a few dollars and sharpening up your understanding of what the priorities are in your Congressional District. As someone who visits this little blog, it is unlikely that you'll need to sacrifice your dignity nearly as much as Harold did in this old MeanMesa fictional parody.

After being shell shocked by the next 24 months of mayhem and looting at the hands of our country's oligarchs, voters will be ready to go to the polls in 2016. Even the GOP base will be so tired of the tea bags, car thieves, convicted felons, draft dodgers and other ne'er-do-wells in control of the GOP House that they will either stay home or, EGAD!, try voting for a Democrat for a change. If he manages to stay sober for a few hours, even the most "slow minded" Republican base voter becomes aware that he is being gang raped sooner or later.

MeanMesa is officially predicting that there won't be any very attractive looking Republican candidates anywhere on the ticket by November, 2016. This includes "billionaire/ALEC/NRA approved candidates" who might look attractive to the Miami geriatrics, the Clive Bundy crowd or even lots of the higher functioning, gated community country clubbers in the GOP base. The typical right wing campaign's current political maxim that "enough money will still turn the trick" may have lost a great deal of its shine by then, too.

[MeanMesa has posted about ways to "put the brakes" on billionaire election money. Lighting Up the Clown Car's Check Book  Implementing ideas like CASH TRACK -- described in the post -- might become very direct, common, political action by the next election.]

Time to Put On Your "Big Boy" Pants, Boys
...and Girls, Too.
This is the perfect time to start.

The current crop of gutless Democrats have allowed historically remarkable political policy successes to be ripped out of their timid, little invisible hands. The Democratic Party, if it had been correctly illuminated by these incredible accomplishments in the economic recovery and a good number of other places, should be languishing in the limelight right now, and every Republican of any variety should either be at least trying to look "extra nice" or just hiding out of sight.

Instead, the Democrats look like confused, out-of-breath losers racing desperately to somehow keep up with the think tank narrative being laid out by the politically better equipped, the tactically more savvy right wingers and a "best that money can buy" power train driven by millions of plutocrats' "hobby dollars."

This doesn't sit well with MeanMesa. This doesn't sit well at all.

I don't like this one bit.
For those of us down here under the bus, it's been a good long time since anyone other than the President or Joe Biden has had much to say to us.

There's no way to know exactly how many of the Congressional Democrats have already sold us out -- hopefully, not as many as it sometimes appears. Still, it shouldn't seem entirely unlikely that the billionaires haven't also purchased plenty of Democrats to go with their Republican lackeys in the House and Senate. These folks are already filling out the checks to realize their dream of permanently owning everything -- from now on -- after 2016.

Part of the sinister "national deception" that has saturated citizen thinking since the Reagan days is about "how terribly complicated" running this country and its government actually is. We can watch eyes glaze over at the mere mention of an embarrassingly long list of things -- things which we should normally expect to want to discuss quite intelligently with our neighbors and our fellow citizens.

Somehow, we have been quietly convinced that the national economy is too complex for us to begin to comprehend, that foreign relations issues are far to murky, complex and secret for us to have any reasonable opinions about it and that the job of running the Congress is, somehow, quite beyond the capacity of mere mortals.

Wait a minute! Congress doesn't have to be full of suspiciously wealthy,  professional political creatures who have been there for years, lobbyists and sold out losers! The Congressional staffers do all the heavy lifting, anyway! There isn't anything particularly complicated about being a prostitute to the highest bidder...and,

there also isn't any secret, mysterious talent required for being a good citizen -- or a good Congressman, either. These positions were designed to be filled by fairly well educated, fairly well informed citizens with plenty of common sense and common decency. Folks like this have done the job very well for years.

And, regardless of what you may have been led to believe, there is a massive difference between "a few bad apples" scattered among the good ones and bushel baskets full of "bad apples" with only a couple of good ones buried in among them somewhere. Further, the "good ones" tend to stand out pretty quickly and very visibly. A few names -- such as Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren -- spring into MeanMesa's mind right away.

There are others. Pick up some of the names that Rush Limbaugh fears and ridicules the most, and you'll have a good start.

The point here, however, is not to look to such politicians as "coming to the rescue." In fact the exact opposite is the case. YOU need to become one of these Congressional inhabitants and come to their rescue! These types are out gunned fifty to one.

The candidates we need will change those hard odds for the better. The challenge is to quit complaining and turn the Congress into something that works -- for everyone. This year we will pipe around $16 Trillion tax dollars through the Congress. After that has been done, only 15% of us will agree that the Congress has done a good job.

What's wrong with this picture? Jump in. Fight like hell and fix it.

One Last Point
Indeed, just a minor point...

The second you throw your hat in the ring, half a dozen billionaires will be on you like gnats on the picnic mayonnaise. They will be spying on you, digging up more of your history than you knew you ever had and trying to bribe those you are trusting. They can out spend your campaign ten to one -- any time and as many times as they like. They'll close the polls, jimmy the voting machines, throw your constituents off the registration lists and sue you every chance they get.

Oh, and by the way, they own the media -- lock, stock and barrel, so don't expect any breaks. The big boys are totally ready to throw money at this to keep just the way it is.

If this weren't the case, it just wouldn't be enough of a challenge to attract the best from among us. If, in the end, the oligarchs aren't going to wind up owning every dandelion from Maine to San Diego, they must be beaten back with victories in what looked like impossible contests.

Don't faint, and don't flinch. There are ways.

This old blogger would be tickled pink if someone who sometimes visited MeanMesa wound up in the Congress.

Go ahead. Fly the damned flag.

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