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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Brad Knickerbocker’s Monitor article, “Democrats: ‘Why we got shellacked in the 2014 elections‘ offers a couple of well-stated insights, including: “”So many people can rattle off easily and succinctly what it means to be a Republican,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida congresswoman who chairs the DNC. “The perception of what it means to be a Democrat has really evolved to be a laundry list of policy statements and disparate ideas.”
On the same topic, AP’s Ken Thomas quotes KY Governor Steve Beshear: “”I am here to tell you the Democratic Party has lost its way…The problems are not with the “party’s core beliefs,” he said, but relate to “our inability to convey our principles to the American people in a precise, concise and passionate way.”
An AP-GfK Poll of 1,045 adults conducted online from 1/29 to 2/2 found that 68 percent of respondents believed that “wealthy households pay too little in federal taxes; only 11 percent said the wealthy pay too much…Also, 60 percent said middle-class households pay too much in federal taxes, while 7 percent said they paid too little…One proposal would increase capital gains taxes on households making more than $500,000. In the survey, 56 percent favored the proposal, while only 16 percent opposed it.”
Laura Clawson’s Kos post, “Famously awful pollster shows how to fake majority support for Netanyahu speech” provides an object lesson in absurdly biased poll questions. The question, from a McLaughlin poll: “Republican House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on March 3rd. President Obama and some Democrats think it should be cancelled because it is 2 weeks before an Israeli election. Israeli Prime Minister wants to speak to the American Congress to try to stop a deal that would give Iran a nuclear weapon. These negotiations are set to conclude 3 weeks after the Prime Minister’s speech. Knowing all of this is true, do you support or oppose Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking to Congress on March 3rd?” Clawson’s capper: “Politico, by the way, reported this as if it was a serious poll.”
Paul Krugman shreds the “education is power” meme treasured by class conflict-averse pundits and politicians: “…What I keep seeing is people insisting that educational failings are at the root of still-weak job creation, stagnating wages and rising inequality. This sounds serious and thoughtful. But it’s actually a view very much at odds with the evidence, not to mention a way to hide from the real, unavoidably partisan debate…We should recognize that popular evasion for what it is: a deeply unserious fantasy…The inflation-adjusted earnings of highly educated Americans have gone nowhere since the late 1990s…All the big gains are going to a tiny group of individuals holding strategic positions in corporate suites or astride the crossroads of finance. Rising inequality isn’t about who has the knowledge; it’s about who has the power.”
NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof’s “Straight Talk for White Men” sheds rare light on a topic that merits more discussion, unconscious bias, which likely is responsible for most discrimination and undermines prospects for Democratic political consensus.
Those who believe the time is now ripe for a strong Democratic emphasis on infrastructure upgrades should read Albert R. Hunt’s New York Times article “U.S. Struggles to Build a Strong Infrastructure.” Hunt explains, “There is a broad consensus that infrastructure investment is a significant job-creator. It is embraced by the Chamber of Commerce, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and many governors and mayors of both parties…Republican congressional leaders want selective big accomplishments to prove they can govern. President Obama wants a few more successes in his final years. Infrastructure is one of the very few areas where they are on roughly the same page.” Hunt sees a gas tax hike as the logical funding vehicle. But the GOP’s knee-jerk opposition to anything that involves spending or tax hikes, or anything Democrats have long advocated, suggests that Republican support for infrastructure upgrades may be more limited when votes are tallied.
Hats off to John Legend and Common for using the Oscar ceremonies to bring needed attention to an issue that doesn’t get enough media coverage — felon disenfranchisement.
Whatever hopes Republicans were entertaining about projecting Columba Bush as Jeb Bush’s “keeping’ it real” anchor will not be well-served by her jewelry shopping expeditions, as reported by WaPo’s Karen Tumutly and Alice Krites: “a $25,600 pair of diamond stud earrings set in platinum; an 18-karat white-gold and diamond bracelet by the Italian designer Bulgari, priced at $10,500; an 18-karat white-gold and diamond necklace, costing $3,200; and another pair of diamond earrings, for $3,300. The records indicate that she received discounts and price adjustments totalling $2,780 and paid $2,491.70 in sales tax…That was one of at least five such loans made by the store to Columba Bush between 1995 and 2009. The most recent was for an $11,700 Rolex watch and a $5,900 pair of earrings…In 1997, when she bought a Roman coin necklace for $15,000 and a $16,600 Rolex watch studded with diamonds…While the 2000 purchase listed the governor’s mansion as her home address, documents suggest that, on at least one earlier occasion, Columba Bush wanted the paperwork sent to a postal box.” Upwards of $90K in all — And that’s just the stuff that’s been reported…

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