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Essays and opinion pieces from our hosts and listeners involving American politics touching on current events, politics, history, and the like.

A Salem Witch Hunt of Modern Times

by Kevin Kelton

I have a feeling this is going to be a very loud week and month in the world of public sexual harassment claims. With the latest allegation against Sen. Al Franken over a photo taken with a stranger at a state fair, the dam has now broken and we are on the other side of the looking glass. Credible reports of sexual misconduct must always be taken seriously and evaluated with fairness to the accuser as well as the accused, and true victims must be believed and the evidence judged fairly.

But if this becomes a runaway train of spurious accusations and half-baked claims (“He pulled me close” for the Franken photo) based on memories of where a hand was momentarily placed while posing for a photo or how aggressive a comedy sketch kiss was, we are in trouble as a society.

Any photo op could be turned into a harassment charge, with only the person’s vague (and often politically motivated) memory as evidence. Read More

Handicapping 2020 in 2017

by Kevin Kelton

Everyone’s favorite political game is handicapping the 2020 Democratic primary race. So here’s my humble take. While he’s not my first choice, my instincts tell me  that Bernie Sanders will be the nominee. Here’s why.
I think Al Franken got knocked out today, not that I think he was ever a real contender, and I just don’t see anyone from the second tier (Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Andrew Cuomo, Kirsten Gillibrand) generating wide excitement these days. When people start to think about a matchup with Trump, they are going to want to see him spar with someone as bold and colorful and unorthodox as him. A conventional candidate like Martin O’Malley or Andrew Cuomo or even Cory Booker isn’t going to excite the imagination of the media or the masses the way a Trump-Sanders matchup will. Of course it *could* happen that someone strikes lightning in a bottle, like Obama and Sanders did in ’08 and ’16; I just don’t see it this time around — not from anyone in this field or anyone likely to show up.
 
That leaves Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. Frankly, I am not hearing any groundswell of support for Warren these days. Are you? I’ve been watching the threads in Open Fire when 2020 comes up and I don’t see anyone passionately pushing for her. It seems that, like Chris Christie after 2012, Warren’s window of opportunity may have passed. She’s just not the darling of the left anymore, and center-left Democrats don’t seem to trust her. I think Joe Biden could make a strong run (and I’d probably support him), but I sense that his sheen in the party is fading, too.
 
Now to be honest, Sanders is also a less compelling figure than he was in 2016. Like Ali without Frazier, Bernie just seems smaller without Hillary in the ring. But the difference is, Sanders’ base of support — which was pretty wide and incredibly devoted — is still out there. Everyone who was chomping at the bit to nominate him last time will be just as excited again, and their small donor money will be there, too. So he goes into the primaries with a national organization, tons of enthusiasm from millions of supporters, and money that he can raise regularly without pandering to special interests or corporate donors. All this while Warren, Biden, Cuomo, and Booker are competing against each other for the same finite landscape of big money Democratic donors. Plus the DNC is sensitive to the idea that it was somehow unfair to Bernie last time, so they will bend over backward not to get accused of that again.
 
And finally, in the irony of ironies, Trump’s obvious and deep ties to Putin and the Russians will negate Bernie’s biggest liability: that he’s a socialist. The fear of communism seems to have waned, and what would have been an albatross around Sanders’ neck in 2016 will be a minor issue against the Trump-Putin ticket.
 
Please note: this isn’t me stating a preference; Bernie would not be my first choice. It’s me making a prediction. And I reserve the right to change my prediction as news and circumstances evolve. But my best guess now is that it will be Trump v. Sanders.
 
Of course, my best guess in 2016 was that we’d all be guessing who’ll be running against President Hillary Clinton in her re-election bid. A really bad guess, but at least I was in good company when I made it.

Election Day Log: Virginia Edition

by D.J. McGuire

As you might imagine, Dear Reader, I had a very enjoyable Election Day as a conservative Democrat in Virginia. What you may not realize is how busy I was. Read More

On the Texas Shooting

by Cliff Dunn

The Texas church shooting this week provides an example of two things: First, why a “good guy with a gun” matters; and second, why new regulations and sprawling bureaucracies aren’t the answer.

On the Republican Tax Deform

by D.J. McGuire

Taxes: the one issue where – as an economic conservative – I would be more sympathetic to my old party (the Republicans) than my new one (the Democrats). As I awaited the Republican tax reform plan, I even recommended Democrats find a way to work with the GOP to improve it.

Well, the plan was at last revealed today, and about the only link this fiasco has to actual tax reform was Congressman Brady quoted Ronald Reagan from 1986 (CNN).

Read More

What Trump Has Wrought: Virginia Edition

by D.J. McGuire (who lives and votes in Virginia)

Last year, as my fellow MPU podcasters inquired as to why Donald Trump’s nomination would be enough for me to leave the Republican Party, I cited the Goldwater effect to explain how one campaign can change a party, permanently. The Republican nominee in 1960 (before Goldwater) ran on the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, and was bitterly disappointed to have won roughly one in three African-American votes. The Republican nominee in 1968 (after Goldwater) ran on a “Southern strategy”, and was largely content with having won barely one in eight African-American votes. The nominee in both years was the same man: Richard Nixon.

As it happens, a similar example has been revealed in Virginia: Ed Gillespie.

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​ Ed Gillespie’s Fake Tax Cut

by D.J. McGuire (who lives and votes in Virginia)

As Virginia’s campaign for governor careens to its conclusion on November 7, I do believe I have managed to solve at least one mystery of Election 2017. Namely, what in the hell happened to Republican nominee Ed Gillespie‘s tax cut proposal?

The answer is: it was a mirage.

Read More

A Day in the Life of Joe Republican, Fifteen Years On

by Cliff Dunn

Joe gets up at 5 a.m. now instead of 6 a.m. so he can make his first job. He takes a sip of bottled water rather than drinking from the tap: Maybe it’s because the planners in his state bungled their guesses at how much water they’d have over the long term (using flawed climate projections), because the local government botched their water sourcing, or because the local politicians spent years not being honest about how much their system truly cost.

Where is Puerto Rico’s Place in the Union?

by Cliff Dunn

Hurricane Maria is, without a doubt, a humanitarian catastrophe for Puerto Rico, and one which deserves a good deal of aid for her people.  However, the disaster which has befallen Puerto Rico is unusually complicated: Long before the hurricane hit, the island suffered from decades of poor governance and underinvestment in its infrastructure.  Maria’s impact on the island was akin to a tree falling on top of a derelict house: Rather than just knocking a hole in the roof, the whole house came crashing down.

Trump’s Trade War, Part II

by D.J. McGuire

The Trump Administration’s efforts to “renegotiate” the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have now created so many hackles that the Chamber of Commerce stepped in.

That Trump is willing to risk a trade war to feed his lust for protectionism is not news (he’s already set off Canada and the United Kingdom), but when the Chamber of Commerce sounds the alarm about a Republican president, we’re in big trouble.

Was the New Deal Racist? Yes.

by D.J. McGuire

The more one looks at the actual policies enacted during the Roosevelt administration, the more one comes to the painful conclusion that FDR, whatever his intentions, allowed the government under his command to build a welfare state not for all, but for whites only. Perhaps I’m coming to this realization later than most who are younger (I’ll turn 45 next week), but I am painfully certain I’ve reached it faster than those who are my age or older.

Bring Back the Well-Regulated Militia

by D.J. McGuire

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. – United States Constitution, Amendment II

The Las Vegas carnage has reopened the debate on gun rights. This should neither surprise nor disappoint (the reopening of the debate, that is; the carnage should – and I’m sure does – sadden all of us). Also completely expected is the focus on the constitutional amendment cited above, part of the Bill of Rights passed by the First Congress over two centuries ago.

Strangely enough, the entire amendment never gets the attention it should, in particular the opening phrase.