Hieroglyph

6am
Rain streaks our bedroom window
The outside world is cloaked in mist.

7am
The rain stops
Dark shapes emerge.

One distinct desiccated pine
A Chinese logogram
“Harmony.”

Après Trump, Le Déluge

DT won’t go away!  The most recent Quinnipiac Poll ( https://poll.qu.edu/poll-release?releaseid=3810) reports that 66 percent of respondents do not want Donald Trump to (re)run for President. Nonetheless, 66 percent of Republicans would like him to run again. (Not surprisingly, the same percentage of Republicans do not believe that Biden’s 2020 victory was legitimate.)  DT refuses to disappear and, as a result, the Republican Party keeps acting crazy.  What explains this?

Here are four explanations.

1.Psychological: DT is mentally ill; he has the  pathological variety of narcissistic personality disorder.  He craves attention and, therefore, since leaving the White House, he has been undergoing a form of withdrawal.  This situation has been exacerbated by the fact that Donald has been banned from Twitter and Facebook — as this was being written Facebook banned DT until at least January 2023 (https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/04/facebook-says-donald-trump-to-remain-banned-from-platform-for-2-years-effective-from-jan-7.html)

Losing the competition for the US presidency would be hard on anyone — reportedly, Hillary Clinton was very depressed after her 2016 defeat — but particularly hard on DT because he has never been characterized as “playing with a full deck.”  After all, this is the guy who suggested a possible antidote to the Coronavirus was to drink bleach.  DT asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.  He proposed buying Greenland. And on and on.

Since losing the 2020 election, Trump’s aberrant behavior has worsened. (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-other-than-that-happy-easter_n_60688dd7c5b6832c7937af52) And, he’s taking the Republican Party down the toilet with him.  Congressional Republicans seem to be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome: “where hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers.”

2. Anthropological: An alternative explanation is that since June of 2015, when Trump announced his run for President, he’s turned the Republican Party into a personality cult.  In effect, he’s created a pseudo-religion featuring himself as the messiah.  This religion operates by the DT rules:
a. The truth is whatever Donald says it is.
b. Winning is everything. Whatever you have to do to win is acceptable.
c. The American system is broken and only DT knows how to fix it. Trust him.
d. The mainstream media can’t be trusted; there is no honest criticism of DT.
e. Salvation is letting DT have his way.

Some studies have shown that uneducated white males trust capitalism more than they trust religion.  These pilgrims trust DT to fix their lives.  Trump is their role model; someone who beat the system by playing by his own rules. Trump devotees believe if DT triumphs, they will triumph.  (If you think this sounds like Totalitarianism 101, you’re right.)

3. Sociological: A slightly different explanation is that Trump has provided a vehicle for millions of white, male, less-educated Americans to channel their resentment.  Writing in the Washington Post, Republican columnist Michael Gerson (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-gop-is-now-just-the-party-of-white-grievance/2021/03/01/67679480-7ab9-11eb-85cd-9b7fa90c8873_story.html) observed: “One of the poisonous legacies of Donald Trump’s presidency has been to expand the boundaries of expressible prejudice. Through the explicit practice of White-identity politics, Trump has obviated the need for code words and dog whistles… The party has been swiftly repositioned as an instrument of white grievance. It refuses to condemn racists within its congressional ranks. Its main national legislative agenda seems to be the suppression of minority voting.” [Emphasis added]

Trump devotees feel they have lost their shot at the American dream.  DT provides them with an acceptable narrative: What happened to them is not their fault: they haven’t lost out because they are poorly educated or insufficiently motivated; they’ve been cheated out of their deserved opportunity by a conspiracy — promulgated by Obama and the Clintons — that shunted them aside and favored undeserving women and people-of-color.  (And Jews.)

in this context, racism and misogyny is okay; because DT says it’s okay.  The Trump resentment express is a closed system that says and does unethical, un-American, and violent things and then justifies them on the basis that they either aren’t being reported accurately or the targets deserve payback.  The resentment express theme is not only that “anything goes” but also that DT validates any behavior seen as favoring him.

4. Political: Finally, there’s a political explanation; the Republican Party is intellectually bankrupt and has allowed itself to be taken over by DT because Republicans actually don’t have any ideas other than protecting the rich and powerful. Think hard: what policy ideas were promoted by DT during  his residency in the White House? (1) Cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy.  (2) Build the wall.  (3)….

Next time “mainstream” Republicans excuse DT by saying, “I never liked his tweets but he had a lot of good ideas;” ask them what ideas they are defending.  After cutting taxes for the rich and building the wall there were NO ideas.  Think about it.  Republicans were in total control of Washington for the first two years of the Trump regime.  All they accomplished was cutting taxes for the rich and powerful.  (And building a few miles of wall.)

When an American political Party is devoid of ideas they have no choice but to run national campaigns based upon personality.  So. Republicans were steamrolled by DT’s narcissism. At the time — 2015 — they felt they didn’t have a choice.  Since then Republican leaders have had lots of opportunities to chose the non-DT road but each time they have folded.  Because they are intellectually and morally bankrupt.

Writing in Mother Jones ( https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2021/06/why-donald-trump-doesnt-need-facebook/?), veteran correspondent David Corn observed, “Trump still will inhabit a supersized role in Republican—and American—politics because of two important factors: money and fear.”  (DT is by far the biggest money raiser in GOP land.)

66 percent of Republicans would like to see DT run again because he’s alive and their other GOP choices are zombies.  Out here on the Left Coast, the Republican party looks like it is going over the falls.

I am the Light of the World

Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world
Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world
Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world
Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world

 

Oh, you don’t believe in blessings
Yet now your life is saved
You found last year depressing
Without the warmth you craved..

So treasure your salvation
All the energy you can bring
View lockdown as gestation
New songs you can sing.

Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world
Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world
Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world
Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world

Grace is the key to heaven
And faith unlocks the door
The struggle starts to leaven
You rise from off the floor.

You found the strength to make it
Through the darkness and the fear
Although your confidence was shaken
As the hand of death drew near.

Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world
Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world
Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world
Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world

Hard times will take your measure
Tax your strength and wit
Make sure you pay attention
Prove you got some grit.

Y’all sing out now, rejoicing
Fortunate sons and daughters
Take pleasure in this voicing
Of triumph over troubled waters.

Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world
Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world
Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world
Just as long as I’m in this world, I am the light of this world

Polarization in California

The most recent Quinnipiac Poll (https://poll.qu.edu/poll-release?releaseid=3810) illustrates how polarized the US has become: 66 percent of respondents do not want Donald Trump to (re)run for President. Nonetheless, 66 percent of Republicans would like him to run. (Not surprisingly, the same percentage of Republicans do not believe that Biden’s 2020 victory was legitimate.)  It’s a dismaying and, somewhat, disheartening statistic that illustrates how divided the United states has become.  To better understand this, it’s useful to examine polarization in California.

The May 26th poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (https://www.ppic.org/wp-content/uploads/ppic-statewide-survey-californians-and-their-government-may-2021.pdf ) confirmed the Golden State continues to favor Democrats.  California Governor Gavin Newsom has an approval rating of 55 percent.  57 percent of respondents would NOT vote to recall him.  Notably, 78 percent of Republicans would vote to recall Newsom.

On issue after issue, California Democrats and Republicans disagree.  For example, 62 percent of Californians agree that income inequality is a big issue.  But they split — by Party — as to whether government ought to do something about this: “Should the state government be doing more to reduce the gap between the rich and poor in California, or is this something the government should not be doing?”  83 percent of Democrats feel the government should do more, while 58 percent of Republicans believe the government should NOT do more.

California has a budget surplus of approximately $38 billion.  Governor Newsom has proposed that this budget surplus be used for stimulus checks.  When poll respondents were asked: “Do you favor or oppose providing another round of stimulus checks with $600 going to Californians with incomes under $75,000 and an additional $500 going to those with children?”  70 percent of Californians approved of this; 86 percent of Democrats but just 42 percent of Republicans.

When asked, “Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way that Joe Biden is handling his job as president?” 66 approved; 88 percent of Democrats but just 21 percent of Republicans. When asked, “Do you think things in the United States are generally going in the right direction or the wrong direction?” 53 percent of respondents believed we are going in the right direction.  68 percent of Democrats but just 17 percent of Republicans.

Biden’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic is approved by 75 percent of poll respondents.  93 percent of Democrats approve but most Republicans (61 percent) disapprove.  Everything about the pandemic seems to be divisive.

Seventy-three percent of Californians say they have already received the vaccine (67 percent) or will definitely get the vaccine (6 percent).  Seventeen percent of respondents say they will definitely NOT get the vaccine (12 percent) or probably not get the vaccine (5 percent).  Republicans remain most likely to say they will probably or definitely not get the vaccine (38 percent).

What accounts for this polarization?  In California, this seems to be the result of the interaction of three factors: Party affiliation, race, and region.  Obviously, there is a substantial difference in perspective between Democrats and Republicans.  We can attribute this to the usual suspects: the two groups are in different media silos; for example, many Republicans get their political data from Fox News.

Race is a key determinant of polarization.  President Biden has the approval of 66 percent of all California adults, but there are significant differences based upon race:  the PPIC survey found: “Across racial/ethnic groups, overwhelming majorities of African Americans( 83%), Latinos (77%), and Asian Americans (73%) approve, as do 54 percent of whites.”  53 percent of respondents felt the US is going in the right direction, but there was a major difference in perception based upon race:  “Majorities of Latinos (68%), African Americans (60%), and Asian Americans (56%) say right direction, compared to 41 percent of whites.”

In addition, there are important regional differences in California.  The PPIC survey was taken in five distinct parts of California: Los Angeles, San Diego/Orange Counties, San Francisco Bay Area, Central Valley (Shasta County south to Ken County). and the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties).  The Inland Empire is substantially more conservative than the four other regions; for example, when asked, “Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way that Gavin Newsom is handling his job as governor of California?” Only the Inland Empire has a net disapproval (37 percent approve to 53 percent disapprove).  

The Newsom recall petition had more than 1.7 million verified signatures.  More than half of these came from the five Southern California counties: Los Angeles 328K, Orange 285K, Riverside 186K, San Bernardino 130K, and San Diego 238K. (By the way, in 2020 Joe Biden carried all of these counties.) The California Secretary of State (https://ktla.com/news/california/highest-support-for-newsom-recall-comes-from-californias-rural-northeastern-counties-final-state-numbers-show/) analyzed the verified signatures and found a disproportionate number come from rural counties.  For example, tiny Amador County — located east of Sacramento in the “Gold country” — has 25,989 registered voters; 4966 signed the recall petition (19.1 percent).  (Many recall signatories were unhappy with Newsom’s handling of the pandemic; particularly the mandatory lockdown.)

By the way, more men than women support the Newsom recall: “Men (48%) are more likely than women (32%) to say they would vote yes to remove Newsom.”

The most recent Public Policy Institute of California poll illustrates the extent of polarization in the Golden State and helps us understand it.  California Republicans don’t approve of Biden and don’t like how he handled the pandemic. (They don’t like masks and many of them will not get vaccinated.)  These Republicans are predominantly rural white men.

Resentful redneck Republicans.  As columnist Leonard Pitts recently wrote: ““The decisive reason that white, male, older and less educated voters were disproportionately pro-Trump is that they shared his prejudices and wanted domineering, aggressive leaders …” (https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/leonard-pitts-jr/article211963789.html )

 

Special Handling


In the ministry of lost souls
My assignment is
Special Handling.

If you are
Oversize
Fragile
Complicated
Difficult
Dangerous
Come see me.

Find life a chore?
Knock on my door.

Lost your way?
Step in, out of the fray.

Mired in despair?
Sit down in my chair.

Feeling depressed?
Come cry on my chest.

We’ll fix you up
Get you back on your feet
Back in the game
Stridin’ down the street.

Want to know how we do it?
Read our leaflet
Don’t ask any questions
It’s all top secret.

California’s Water Crisis

Global Climate Change affects every part of the United States.  In California, there are two major climate-change consequences: ferocious wildfires and drought.  When I lived in a city (Berkeley) i felt somewhat immune from these problems.  Now that I live in the country (West Sonoma County) the impact is more obvious.  This year we’re having a water crisis.

When we bought our rural property, we didn’t think much about our water supply.  We had a well and all our neighbors had wells.  Then, several summers ago, we learned that some of our neighbors’ wells had failed and they were having water trucked in.

The water situation in California is VERY complicated, but millions of Golden-State families rely upon groundwater wells and, this summer, many of these are drying up.  (Roughly one-third of California’s 40 million residents rely upon groundwater for their household needs.)  This is happening throughout the state but is most critical in the eastern part of the Central valley — roughly the area that extends from Sacramento to Bakersfield.

The two-thirds of Californians that do not rely upon groundwater for their personal needs, have access to systems that redeploy surface water; that is, water systems that capture rain water and distribute it from one of California’s ten drainage basins — Sonoma County utilizes water from the “North Coast” system.  This year, because of subnormal rainfall, these drainage basins are all severely below capacity.

Historically, the northern part of California is much wetter than the south: “75 percent of California’s available water is in the northern third of the state (north of Sacramento), while 80 percent of the urban and agricultural water demands are in the southern two-thirds of the state… California has more irrigated acreage than any other state, thanks to massive water projects that include dams, reservoirs, aqueducts and canals to deliver water to users, especially in the central and southern portions of the state.” (https://www.watereducation.org/photo-gallery/california-water-101 )  Southern California also gets significant water from the Colorado River.  In addition, San Diego County gets water from the massive Carlsbad Desalination plant.

Earlier this month, California Governor Gavin Newsom extended emergency drought orders to 41 counties across the golden state; 73 percent of the state falls into the most serious drought categories: “severe” or “extreme.”  2020-21 rainfall was lower than expected, particularly in the northern part of the state.  On April 1, the date when the snow is normally deepest, statewide snowpack was just 59 percent of the historical average.  Particularly in the north, reservoirs are much lower than normal.

There are (at least) four aspects of California’s water crisis:

1.Failing public water systems: Even before the 2020-21 drought, a California Water Board study (https://www.ppic.org/blog/a-look-at-californias-safe-and-affordable-drinking-water-gaps/?) found “a funding gap of $4.6 billion to resolve safe drinking water problems over the next five years… The study assessed public water systems currently out of compliance, public systems at risk, and communities served by very small systems, domestic wells, and tribal systems. Among the publicly regulated systems, we found that 326 were failing and 617 were at risk of failing.. Many of the state’s troubled systems are concentrated in the San Joaquin Valley,” This finding indicates that groundwater-based systems are failing; particularly in the eastern part of the state.

2. Depleted reservoirs.  A recent survey found that California’s reservoirs are currently at 50 percent of their rated capacity.  ( https://engaging-data.com/ca-reservoir-dashboard/)  (And 64 percent of their historic capacity at the end of May.)  This situation is particularly troubling for the big reservoirs in Northern California.  For example, the mammoth Shasta reservoir is at 44 percent of capacity (and 51 percent of its historic capacity for the end of May.)

3. Over-taxed rivers.  Although much of California’s agricultural needs are are served by wells — roughly 50 percent — and water transported via aqueducts and canals, a substantial amount is water deployed from rivers.  The largest rivers within California (Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Russian) are severely depleted.  The Sacramento Bee (https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/water-and-drought/article251654333.html#storylink=cpy) reported: “The federal government Wednesday said municipal water agencies that belong to the Central Valley Project will receive just 25% of their allocations, down from the previously announced 55%.”

To make things worse, the Colorado River — which provides water to Southern California — is nearing historic lows. (https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/27/weather/lake-mead-colorado-river-shortage/index.html )

4. Conflicting water rights: During periods of drought, the ancient California bugaboo — water rights — reemerges.  In many areas of the state, there are conflicting claims to groundwater — particularly rivers which historically have been oversubscribed.  (It’s estimated that portions of the San Joaquin River have been oversubscribed by 800 percent.)  This situation leads to hostile disputes and, occasionally, violence.  (https://www.alternet.org/2021/05/bundy/ )

Bottom line: This summer is going to see a severe water crisis in California.  Some areas of the state are going to see water consumption cut to 25 percent of normal.  This situation is going to impact all aspects of the state’s economy, particularly agriculture.

No Depression in Heaven

1.
Hard times
Sometimes you see ’em coming
Sometimes they catch you unaware
Sneak around in darkness
Lie in wait beneath the stair.

Hard times
Can take your measure
Tax your strength and wit
Make sure you pay attention
Prove you got some grit.

2.
Da Blues
Will pile it on
Leave ya broken hearted
Open up old wounds
Memories of dear departed.

Da Blues
Just won’t let you be
They hang round yer door
So, stay away Mistah Blues
Don’t come ’round here no more.

3.
Blue skies
and green lights
Nothin’ but blue skies do I see
Everything going be alright
Since my baby come back to me.

Blue skies
From now on
Ain’t gonna look back
Just keep trucking’ on
Down that heavenly track.

When Will America Get Back to Work?

One year ago, as it became clear the United States was in the throes of a devastating pandemic, we lost 21 million jobs. Now we’re recovering from Covid-19 but workers aren’t rushing back to full employment at the pace economists expected. What’s happening?

In retrospect, while the pandemic had a devastating impact on the US economy, it affected some Americans more than others.  For example, the wealthy and well-connected fared better than the less fortunate. (https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/california/california-revenues-soar-as-rich-get-richer-during-pandemic/2479807/ )  If you were a lawyer, with a good Internet connection, you were more able to work from home than was an agricultural worker.  As another example, some business sectors — such as leisure and hospitality — lost jobs while others — such as communications — stayed close to steady state.

At the moment, the economy appears to be recovering — the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported: “Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021.”  On the other hand, workers have not reentered the labor force at the rate anticipated — Reuters ( https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-job-growth-far-below-expectations-april-amid-labor-shortages-2021-05-07/) noted: “U.S. job growth unexpectedly slowed in April, likely curbed by shortages of workers and raw materials… Nonfarm payrolls increased by only 266,000 jobs last month… That left employment 8.2 million jobs below its peak in February 2020.”

As one would expect — in a deeply polarized country — there’s a Republican explanation for what’s happening and a Democratic explanation.  The Republican explanation is that Biden-Administration unemployment policies have disincentivized workers from actively seeking jobs.  That is to say, Republicans view the “hesitant” workers as “welfare chiselers;” folks who are inherently lazy and would rather stay at home, collect unemployment benefits, and “do nothing.”

Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged the government to scrap the weekly unemployment subsidy.  Politico (https://www.politico.com/news/2021/05/14/labor-shortage-companies-hiring-488200 ) reports: “At least 14 states, including North Dakota, Alabama and South Carolina, have moved to cut off enhanced federal jobless benefits that were supposed to last until September. Florida is among roughly 30 states reinstating a requirement that the unemployed prove they are looking for work to receive state benefits. Montana is offering return-to-work bonuses to unemployment recipients who accept a job offer.”  Writing in Alternet,  Isaac J. Bailey (https://www.alternet.org/2021/05/reagan-era-myth/? ) wrote: “An increasing number of Republican governors have decided to scale back enhanced unemployment benefits.  They claim that it’s necessary, that it’s the only way to get those who have been receiving benefits through this pandemic to go back to work. In short, those governors, along with conservative economists, have convinced themselves the working poor would rather be on the dole than man hot kitchens, wait on tables or stand on their bunions for several hours a day in retail settings to earn poverty wages.”

The Biden Administration resists this approach (https://www.reuters.com/business/white-house-jobs-report-shows-long-way-go-economic-recovery-2021-05-07/): “‘It’s clear that there are people who are not ready and able to go back into the labor force,’ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told reporters, citing parents whose children are still learning remotely. “‘ don’t think the addition to unemployment compensation is really the factor that is making a difference.'”

Liberal economists suggest that the problem is elemental: employers want workers to retake the jobs they held, before the pandemic, at the same wages they were paid then.  EPI economist Heidi Shierholz (https://www.epi.org/blog/u-s-labor-shortage-unlikely-heres-why/ ) observed: “I often suggest that whenever anyone says, ‘I can’t find the workers I need,’ she should really add, “at the wages I want to pay.’”  She continued: “The footprint of a bona fide labor shortage is rising wages. Employers who truly face shortages of suitable, interested workers will respond by bidding up wages to attract those workers, and employers whose workers are being poached will raise wages to retain their workers, and so on…  And right now, wages are not growing at a rapid pace… Unsurprisingly, at a recent press conference, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell dismissed anecdotal claims of labor market shortages, saying, ‘We don’t see wages moving up yet. And presumably we would see that in a really tight labor market.’”

The Democratic view is that workers are hesitant to return because of a variety of structural issues — for example, the hesitant workers are mothers who have been caring for their children who, because for Covid=19, could not go to school or daycare.  In an interview with Mother Jones, economist Heidi Shierholz (https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2021/05/you-dont-need-to-freak-out-about-labor-shortages/? ) noted: “There’s evidence that points to other things that may be going on [that account for labor shortages]. We know that more than a quarter of schools were still closed to in-person learning in April. One of the things we saw in the April data is that… the disappointing job growth in April was caused by an increase in job separations, basically layoffs and quits.  The increase in layoffs and quits was driven entirely by women. That points to another cause, given that women still shoulder the lion’s share of care responsibilities in the home. I think health concerns are still a big issue as well. With the distribution of the vaccine, that’s going down, but there are still lots of people who have serious, legitimate health concerns about returning to work.”

When informed of the disappointing jobs report, President Biden said: “Today’s report just underscores, in my view, how vital the actions we’re taking are — checks to people who are hurting, support for small businesses, for child care and school reopening, support to help families put food on the table.”  Biden added the report is indicative of the long-term nature of the economic recovery, saying he expects improvement to be “a marathon,” rather than a “sprint.”

Americans are going back to work carefully.  And demanding a living wage.

Kathy in the Hot Tub

As the morning fog glides over Coleman Valley
Kathy initiates the ablutions ritual
Strides across the redwood deck
Slips into the hot tub.

Our dogs rush to their posts
Milou stands guard
Belle sashays around the tub
Periodically kissing Kathy’s neck.

Kathy flips on the jacuzzi jets
Floats on her back
Covered in foam
Except for her angelic face and perfect nipples.

What Happens Next?

Six months have passed since the fateful November 3rd presidential election.  Here are the BB predictions for the next six months.

1.Coronavirus Pandemic: There’s good news and bad news.  The good news is that the CDC just loosened the mask guidelines for those of us who have been vaccinated.  By mid-summer the region where I live — San Francisco Bay area — will likely have achieved herd immunity; that is, more than 80 percent of the adult population will have been vaccinated.  The bad news is that significant parts of the US will not reach these vaccination levels and, most likely, will never reach them.

Our local experts ( https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/2021-05-herd-immunity-California-Bay-Area-16148134.php) now believe that the State of California will reach herd immunity right around June 15th — the goal set by Governor Newsom for “reopening” the state.  The experts explained that California is ahead of the rest of the nation because we have a lower incidence of “vaccine hesitancy:” “About 30% of Americans on average are reluctant to get vaccinated, but the number is lower in California, with an estimated 10% to 15% of Golden State residents vaccine hesitant, according to data from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. Studies have shown that people who identify as Republican are less likely to get vaccinated than Democrats, and vaccine hesitancy in California is generally higher in red counties, according to the department.”

Our experts feel that it will take several years before the United States reaches herd immunity — because of vaccine hesitancy, new virus variants, and global travel patterns.  This means travel will continue to be restricted as well as participation in large events.

Political consequences: As long as the U.S. continues to make progress overcoming the pandemic, this bodes well for the Biden Administration.  In California, given that the golden state reopens on June 15th, this progress bodes well for Governor Newsom — the recall effort was already a long shot (The latest polls (https://calmatters.org/commentary/2021/04/california-newsom-recall-poll/ ) find that just 36 percent of California residents favor recalling Newsom.)

2.Donald Trump: For Democrats, the past six months has been positive — Joe Biden has done a good job, is popular, and has the nation headed out of the abyss. For Republicans, the past six months have — once again — been about Donald Trump.

After Trump’s 7-million vote election loss, the January 6th insurrection, and his second impeachment trial, the Republican Party split.  An April NBC News poll (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/20690434-210098-nbc-news-april-poll-4-25-21-release) found that Trump’s approval had slipped to 32 percent (21 percent very positive and 11 percent somewhat positive).  In this poll, for the first time, more Republicans saw themselves as supporters of the GOP (50 percent) rather than as supporters of Trump (44 percent).  It’s hard to gauge the size of this split, but the intra-Party debate about the role of GOP leader Liz Cheney indicates that a substantial number of Republicans no longer want Trump to lead their Party — probably not a majority, somewhere in the vicinity of 33 percent.  (This estimate aligns with polls (https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/11/politics/voting-restrictions-analysis/index.html ) that indicate around 70 percent of Republicans feel the 2020 election was “stolen” from Donald Trump.}

Trump is down but not yet out.  He has lost his social media presence — he’s banned from Twitter and Facebook and has yet to create a replacement.  This has had two consequences: first, the DT “thought of the day” is not as omnipresent as it once was.  Second, Trump’s fundraising is not as effective as it was — nonetheless, DT’s political action committee is sitting on a reserve of about $85 million.

Political Consequences: For the moment, DT runs (most of) the Republican Party.  That’s a problem for the GOP because Trump is unpopular with the general electorate, is no longer an effective social-media presence, and is headed for a set of messy legal problems.  Hmm.  Seems like Republicans are “hoist on their own petard.”

3. The Big Lie: The recent CNN poll indicates that about 30 percent of voters (70 percent of Republican voters) believe that Joe Biden was unlawfully elected.  Trump, and his Republican cohorts, have succeeded in spreading the big lie.

In the last decade, the Republican Party hasn’t had much of a policy agenda, they’ve mostly been concerned with social issues.  During Trump’s reign their agenda consisted of build the wall, cut taxes, and repeal Obamacare.  In 2021, their agenda has been further simplified: don’t cooperate with anything proposed by the Biden Administration — because Biden has unlawfully elected — and inhibit the votes of everyone other than Republicans.

Most Republicans legislators have accepted his big lie and moved forward with voter suppression.  Ten states — including Arizona, Florida, and Georgia have pushed through new laws to make it more difficult to vote. ( https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/553012-controversial-voting-laws-add-to-democrats-midterm-obstacles) “I think we need to state the purpose: Republican politicians are using lies about the 2020 election to pass voter suppression laws that they think will hand their party power,” said Jena Griswold, the secretary of state in Colorado and the chair of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State.

Although the intent of the Republican legislators is to diminish Democratic votes, some of the measures may deplete Republican votes — for example, new laws making it more difficult to cast absentee ballots will inhibit the votes of GOP seniors.  In addition, the new voter-suppression legislation has been subjected to dozens of lawsuits.

Political Consequences: Unclear.  It’s undemocratic to make it more difficult to vote but Republicans don’t care. The GOP problem is that this is not a broadly popular message and doesn’t serve as an effective alternative to the Biden/Democrat agenda.

Summary:  Hmm.  Republicans have sold out to Trump and he’s about to go down bigly.  The GOP seems to be headed over the falls.  Meanwhile, don’t expect bipartisanship.  Biden needs to hold a steady course.

Love Limericks


A poet named Bob
Wrote love poems on the job
He sent one to Twitter
The cultural transmitter
And soon became a heartthrob.

A poet named Marylu
Was forced to write in a shoe
At first was sublime
But after a time
Alas, her antipathy grew.

A poet named Pat
Pulled a folksong right out of his hat
It was surprising gentle
sweet, shy, sentimental
If it hadn’t ended with “scat.”

A poet named “Liz”
At note taking turned into a whiz
She conceived of a poem
Just so she could show ’em
But ended up writing a quiz.

A poet named Dianne
Built a fountain quite grand
It was covered with love
When the heavens above
Decided to give her a hand.

A poet named Sara
Meandered across the Sahara
At first she was homeless
Then found herself poemless (!)
Feared ’twas the end of an era.

A Greek poet named Sappho
Plumbed the depths of love’s sargasso
Was she gay or straight?
At this point it’s too late
She’s snared our hearts with her lasso.

An English poet named Will
Wrote sonnets that gave us a thrill
He dazzled us with verse
We continue to rehearse
Whose meaning we strive to distill.

An American poet named Billy
Had a sense of humor quite silly
His mind was quite agile
though his images fragile
And infected us like some bacilli.

An American poet named Emily
Wrote cryptic poems about family
She stayed in her room
foreshadowed by doom
Her mind unhinged chemically.

An American poet named Frost
Wrote thoughtful poems about loss
The road not taken
The life forsaken
Morality tainted by cost.

It’s the Jobs, Stupid!

Judging from the amount of political email I’ve been receiving, Democrats are running scared, afraid they will lose the 2022 midterm elections.  Dems fear that they’ll squander a historic opportunity to put America on the right course. Fortunately, it appears that Joe Biden knows what he is doing and he’s determined to make job creation the centerpiece of his presidency

If you missed President Biden’s April 28th joint address to Congress (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/04/28/remarks-as-prepared-for-delivery-by-president-biden-address-to-a-joint-session-of-congress/ ), you probably didn’t hear that he mentioned “jobs” 43 times. He began by acknowledging that his Administration has created 1.3 million jobs in his first 100 days in office.  He went on to extol his “American Jobs Plan” and observe: “20 million Americans lost their jobs in the pandemic – working- and middle-class Americans. At the same time, the roughly 650 Billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 Trillion… My fellow Americans, trickle-down economics has never worked. It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle-out. A broad consensus of economists – left, right, center – agree that what I’m proposing will help create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth.”

Heading into the 2022 midterm elections, Biden’s focus is on three issues: overcoming the coronavirus pandemic, creating millions of good-paying jobs, and strengthening healthcare.  This agenda should be achievable in the Democratically-controlled 117th Congress.  It will give Democrats strong momentum going into the 2022 midterms.

The 2010 and 2018 midterms saw a shift in the House of Representatives.  Democrats are worried that could happen in 2022.  In 2010, Democrats lost the House because of Republican “Tea Party” scare tactics centered on the Affordable Care Act — most Republicans ran on the promise to “repeal and replace Obamacare.”  in 2018, Republicans lost the House because Democrats mobilized to take back Congress to check Trump,

Heading into 2022, Republicans seem to be assuming that they will once again take back the house because of the unstoppable tide of political precedent and the anger of Trump voters. In many states, Republicans are trying to “prime the pump” by gerrymandering and voter suppression.

Ignoring the notion of “unstoppable political precedent,” Republicans are counting on angry Trump voters turning out in record numbers to take back the House.  There are two problems with this notion.  The first is idea that Republicans will turn out because they are either angry because Trump lost in 2020 or because they don’t like what Biden and the Dems have been doing.  The second problem is that it is assumes that the voters that Trump brought out in 2020 will show up in 2022.

In the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump got 74 million votes — an unprecedented number for a losing candidate but still 7 million less than Joe Biden.  Will these same Republican voters show up in 2022?  It seems unlikely for two reasons.  First, in 2020 Trump attracted  “low-propensity” voters.   According to Democratic pollsters (https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/byron-yorks-daily-memo-democratic-pollsters-acknowledge-we-darn-near-lost ): “We found our models consistently overestimated Democratic turnout relative to Republican turnout in a specific way… Among low propensity voters — people who we expect to vote rarely — the Republican share of the electorate exceeded expectations at four times the rate of the Democratic share. This turnout error meant, at least in some places, we again underestimated relative turnout among rural and white non-college voters, who are overrepresented among low propensity Republicans.”  Of course, in 2022, Trump will not be on the ballot; therefore, it’s unlikely that these Republican low-propensity voters will show up.

Second, there was a unique combination of circumstances in 2020; including attitudes about the pandemic, GOP enthusiasm for Trump, and the absence of a Democratic “ground game” — because of the pandemic.  In 2022, the circumstances will change.  Democrats will again have their ground game.  And, they are more likely to be enthusiastic than Republicans. A recent Morning Consult poll (https://morningconsult.com/2021/04/14/voter-enthusiasm-2022-midterms-polling/ ) found that 9 percent enthusiasm advantage among Democrats.  (Notably, 31 parent of Trump voters were not enthusiastic.)

By the way: a recent ABC News/Ipsos Poll ( https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/country-optimistic-bidens-1st-100-days-poll/story?id=77440236) found that 64 percent of respondents were “optimistic” about the direction of the country — the highest optimism rating in 15 years.

My contention is that as long as Democrats deliver on the three big issues — overcoming the coronavirus pandemic, creating millions of good-paying jobs, and strengthening healthcare — they should prevail in 2022.  An election is not solely determined by messaging, but messaging is important.  If Democrats stay on the Biden train, they will have positive messaging,  In contrast, Republicans do not have a clear message.   They cannot prevail with “Trump was cheated” — by the way, Trump’s popularity is falling; a recent NBC news poll (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/after-100-days-out-office-trump-s-support-softens-nbc-n1265457) found “His ratings among all adults stands at 32 percent favorable, 55 percent unfavorable.”  And, at the moment, the GOP has no “go to” message.

For the next 18 months, Biden and congressional Democrats have one task: focus on the creation of good jobs.