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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ted Cruz: What's He Thinking?

Imma Be President Some Day!!
Ted Cruz skips the turns-out-its-not-obligatory exploratory committee phase of campaigning and dives in. The Omnivore had previously declared he could not win--but he's clearly in-it-to-WIN-IT! What's going on?

He's Got No Chance
The math-heads conclude that Cruz is a loser: he's too far right, too disliked, and maybe too crazy to win the nomination--much less the presidency. He's not the kind of candidate whose a natural money-maker (Rick Perry, at least, has Texas Oil money). He's got charisma, sure, but that ain't enough.

Then there's the matter of the roll out. Here's a screenshot of TedCruz.com:
Oh--and tedcruzforamerica.com redirects here:
It's not an auspicious start, basically.

On the other hand . . .

Hey--If Obama Won . . .
The Federalist gives Ted a boost: Here's 3 reasons he could win:

  • He's aces with the base--best matchup ever.
  • This nomination is about who has done the most to fight! Ted has fought Obamacare. Ted has fought amnesty. The other guys are light-weights!
  • Ted's pure--everyone else is selling out to Wall Street and the establishment.
So, uh, yeah? Maybe?

Certainly by jumping in first--exploratory committee be damned--he's got a leg up on some of his other also-ran rivals. He gets spotlight while they're still 'exploring' (Rubio/Dora '16?). He's also got a bit of a cachet: There really is no one else like him. Cruz occupies a singular space in current conservative thought. It's not, exactly necessarily a good one. His shutdown gambit was seen as the right idea but, in the end it did lose. He's not all that experienced--a first term Senator--like . . . some other guy who did get to the White House--and what a disaster that was!

Still, yeah: anything could happen right?

The Take Away: Good News For Hillary
This graph shows the match-up of who people's second-choices are in an election (if held TODAY!):


The Omnivore has lit up the Cruz-Column: People who like Ted also like:

  • Walker (the most: 78%)
  • Carson (just second( 77%)
  • Perry (beating out Rand Paul at 76%)
Basically, people who like Ted Cruz like other candidates who also have no chance except for Walker. This means that support is going to bleed in the direction of the electable Walker from all angles. If Ted, Carson, and possibly Perry really, truly believe they have a chance they need to take out Walker. That's good news for Hillary and Jeb as Walker is their major threat (right now).
Turns Out It's Pretty Hard To Take Out A Walker . . .
Politico writes that Cruz is Hillary's "Wrecking Ball"

Democrats from both inside and outside the Clinton camp have groused for months that the all-but-certain candidate was moving too slowly in formulating and projecting a rationale for running for the White House outside of her gender and the dreaded “it’s my time” argument. She was relying too much on a platform of inevitability, they said — the same platform that doomed her bid in 2008. But those closest to the former secretary of state have counseled patience, arguing that a core element of Clinton’s plan was to get out of the way and let the dueling wings of the Republican Party savage each other while she floats above it all.

Cruz, they say, is Hillary’s wrecking ball.
Maybe.

So: What IS He Thinking?
If Cruz is so potentially disruptive, why is he doing this? Does he, polling near the bottom of the pack, delusionally think he has a real shot at winning? Is he just trying to raise his national profile? Does he think God is telling him to run? What's going on?

The Omnivore looks at it this way:
  1. People who say God is telling them to run are not humble about it. If they think they are called, you'll hear it (Exception: Possibly Romney since him talking about his religion was counter to his campaign strategy). Ted Cruz does not think he is divinely called to run.
  2. Raising your national profile doesn't work if you get curb-stomped. If Cruz were floating a candidacy on the basis that he would be positioning himself for 2020 or something, this isn't the way to do it. Unless he has some Sheldon Adelson dollars in the bag already, if he fails to get funding, he just goes out looking like a flop. That's not profile you want to 'raise.' Ted is not just doing this for air-time.
  3. On the other hand, he brought the US Government to a stand-still previously and he was willing to take the bad-press. Whatever else you can say about him, Ted Cruz isn't a coward. He's brave enough to rush in where even angels fear to tread.
This is where The Omnivore comes down: To the world-view of a real, non-cynical, rock-ribbed conservative, of which Cruz most definitely is one, the pack right now has two very 'fragile' leaders. It has Jeb Bush who leads to the extent he does because of the establishment and his name.

Forget about the "basic sanity" that Jeb seems to possess or any quality of being "statesmanlike"--to Cruz, Jeb is an America-Ending disaster waiting to happen (or, at least, another huge Bush-sized nail in her coffin). Even if Jeb doesn't sink America, if he ran and won, it would definitely send conservatives into a spin-out. Jeb isn't even against common core.

Walker, on the other hand, has a lot of the right moves--so far--but no one knows how he'll hold up. If Walker collapses for whatever reason, there will be a vacuum into which Cruz, Rubio, and . . . maybe Perry or Jindal will rush to fill.

What Cruz is thinking is this (Imagine deep, resonant Ted Cruz voice): I could definitely beat Jindal . . . hell, a soggy straw-wrapper could beat Jindal. Perry . . . hmm . . . those new glasses do make him look smarter--but I could take him in a debate. I can aw-shucks bettern' him and I'm way better educated. Rubio could be tough--fucker is smart, alright. But he chokes under pressure--ha hah! The Water Bottle?? Remember that? I'll just smirk and take a sip every time he's talking and he'll have an aneurysm right there on stage! I could beat Rubio.

After that, he just has to wrestle Huckabee away from the right, duck under Rick Santorum's wide, lazy, left hook, and he's home free.

He's thinking that if Walker goes down: It's ON. He just has to stick it out until then.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Politics in 2050

Click To Beautifully Embiggen

Reader James wants to know what politics will look like in the future given some specific trends we see today. These are:

1. Technology: AI, Internet of Things, Cloud everywhere and implications on privacy, rights, etc. Could envision a coming together of libertarians from the right with the far left.

2. Demographics: rise of the millennials, increasing hispanic participation in politics, etc. and implications to a blue Texas, traditional 'right/left' split, etc. --> could changing demographics (including the aging and dying-off of Fox's demo) lead to a shift of the 'middle' to the left?

3. Religion & Science --> increasing divisions between R & L on the faith v. fact divide, surfacing in things like climate science, evolution, etc. This could get ugly with the rise of the ultra-fundamentalist movements in all religions - Christianity, Islam, etc., and how they see themselves fitting in v modernity.

4. Biosphere/Climate - huge implications of rising sea level on national security given likely refugee crises to come, water rights, loss of land mass, etc.

This is a good question--and futurism is of great interest to The Omnivore--so let's take a look! Let’s jump ahead to, oh, how about 2050!

What Is The Future?

The Future is defined as a set of probabilities for any given set of events of which their intersections (two or more events occurring or not) alter the probability of other events and create possibilities that would not otherwise be possible as the terrain changes. As such, it is nearly impossible to describe. Usually we see things given a percent-chance of occurring or ranges of Possible, Probable, or Unlikely. As such, there isn't "one future"--but rather an infinite number.

Secondly there are trends. Trends are what we see in things like budget and population projections--the bests of these give several lines of High-Values, Average-Values, and Low-Values based on how likely the trend-analyzer thinks the current conditions are to prevail over time.

Finally there are some precepts we can look at. The are "laws" that generally govern how things turn out. For example, here are 14 rules for geopolitics. The Omnivore is especially enamored of #1:

1. Muddle-along rule
On and off for several decades, knowing analysts have forecast state collapse for Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, and other nations. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have been said to be destined for economic ruin, and North Korea for the ash heap of history. Yet they have gone on—often with the help of the global community, but gone on they have. The lesson is that countries tend to muddle along regardless of the trouble, and not collapse.

Using these three tools, The Omnivore will give you the definitive 2050 A.D. Omnivorous Future--because on a blog no one gives you any points for being mealy-mouthed.

The Omnivorous Future (The Omnivorse)

Things are going to slide (slide) in all directions

Won't be nothing (won't be), nothing you can measure anymore

The blizzard, the blizzard of the world

Has crossed the threshold

And it has overturned

The order of the soul

-- The Future (Leonard Cohen)

For a point of reference, in 2050, The Omnivore's 13 year old daughter will be older than The Omnivore is today--and The Omnivore will be older than his parents (but only by a little). For reference, here is what a high tech watch looked like 35 years ago:

Today:

First we'll look at the specifics of the Omnivorse and then we'll do its politics!

Technology and AI In The Omnivorse

Technologically speaking, 2050 is an age of wonders.

Click Here For Full Size

The Omnivorse 2050 sees a vast number of jobs displaced by AI. There is some migration to other forms of employment and some augmentation of existing jobs--but on the whole, the working middle and upper-middle class bands have been narrowed by efficient AI that reduces their numbers and eliminates some current jobs altogether. Key things we see:

  • Fusion Power. Breakthroughs in fusion power in the early 21st century are now "production ready." By 2030 the technology is reliable. By 2050, it is in widespread use. The majority of vehicles are electric.
  • Fleets of self-driving "taxis" that bring 'mass-transit' to the suburbs. This transforms many industries like insurance, trucking, traditional taxi services, auto-sales, gas-stations, and so on. It makes low-income commutes from a greater distance possible. Just as computers are now built without floppy drives, 2050 sees high-income houses, shops, and malls built without garages or even significant driveways.
  • AI Driven Medicine. Clinics use AI triage at check-in, can perform basic check-ups and prescribe some medication without the need for a human doctor. Healthcare costs are significantly reduced but doctors also have fewer employment possibilities. Pediatricians are one of the last lower-end doctor jobs to dwindle--but by 2050, they have: many mothers are comfortable having their children seen by "a machine."
  • Nano, Genetic, and Robotic Treatment. Medical techniques that used to require surgery can be done by ingesting robots. This removes the need for many "routine surgeries" (and limits the need for surgeons). Lifespan for the first world middle and upper class reaches 140 years.
  • A New Kind of Service Industry. Service Industries still hire people--largely attractive young women--as "friendly faces" who do not perform productive work. These humans serve to 'bolster employment numbers' and to put a "human face" on automated coffee and food preparation. 
  • Automated Warfare. Robots and drones operate effectively with human commanders--but fewer human operators. Sensor and intel improvements have eliminated much of the over-kill we see today. Smart weapons can deploy high velocity micro-sized "smart-munitions" which are essentially robotic bullets that can effect a surgical killing stroke in the middle of a civilian crowd. Smart units with human components and robotic ground/air weapons systems are capable of Panopticon Operations where they can monitor virtually all activity in an area of operations and strike rapidly and accurate--this makes "asymmetric warfare" a sun-set strategy.
  • Virtual Lives. Some citizens are beginning to enjoy virtual-space as a part-time alternative to reality. Instead of going to a job, some of the permanently unemployed might spend 8hrs a day in a VR of the "Mad Men" universe or "Lord of the Rings," enjoying a fidelity that visually is perfect and has some components that provide for other significant sensory experiences. Virtual Sex is satisfying enough to be a real thing. Marriage rates are down. Many use pharmaceuticals to enhance their VR experience making it more life-like or dream-like (and more enticing) as desired. 
  • Gattaca Babies. Abortion is mostly a thing of the past: contraception is ubiquitous and government provided. Genetic screening allows for healthy semi-designer babies. At 2050 we do not see 'eugenic-style' human augmentation--but we do see family planning, sex selection in some sectors of society, and the end of babies born with most genetic disorders. At 2050 there is societal resistance to this--but as with other abrupt social trends (such as same-sex marriage), the adoption of these techniques by some leads to an avalanche-pattern where to equalize one's offspring's advantages, resistance falls rapidly (Once the Joneses are doing it, you have to too).
  • Robot Police. Police are not actually literal robots--but human police use drones, micro-sensors, deployable hyper-intelligent surveillance systems (which can listen for gunshots, instantly determine the direction and location, and then deploy rapidly moving surveillance drones). Similarly, networked cameras and other sensors, can provide police with real time information on threats before they arrive on scene. Finally: conventional violent crime is difficult--cash, as such, no longer exists. Items are generally Identity Tagged, many people carry easy to use devices that can call for help and record a crime in progress. Many drugs are largely legal and borders are far more heavily sealed than today.
  • Online Shopping Dominant. Big-Box stores have all but vanished--instead online shopping and robotic delivery is the order of the day. Conventional shopping does exist--but usually for things like clothes and furniture and then, usually, at the higher end.
  • Massive Telemetry. Society generates massive--truly massive--amounts of data. Refrigerators know when food goes bad, health and location data streams from our bio-sensors, almost everything is mapped to some kind of matrix. Privacy laws may prevent egregious abuses--but these are designed to prevent consumers from feeling scared. Large organizations know a great deal about us.

The US Demographics of The Omnivorse

The US has ceased to be white-majority. Here's what it looks like.

From Here

By 2050, diversity will have happened. A great deal of the impact will depend on how immigration is handled between now and then--but these are the projections . . .

  • The US population has increased by about 89 million people (less than a lot of the world though, the global population could top 6bn)
  • America is 47% White, 29% Hispanic, 13% Black, and 9% Asian.
  • America is on average 9 years older than today. About 25% of the population is between 45 and 64 years of age.
  • Populations have clustered into "mega-regions"

The Omnivore Lives In The Purple Peninsula

  • The population is fatter and more people are pre-diabetic than today (around 5-10% increase)
  • By around 2019 Texas has a larger eligible Hispanic populace than White. There has also been an influx of northern (more Democratic) Whites. The percent of the Hispanic population that votes, however is not a given--much less that they will all and always vote Democrat. Here is the chart for when various states go 'Majority Minority:'

Religion and Science in the Omnivorse

Science (see above) is massively on a roll. What about religion? In the past 35 years religion has become more diverse in America but fundamentalism has also risen (perhaps in "defense" of a religious identity). Similarly, the concept of spirituality has emerged and expanded (in the West). From 1980 to 2015 the "nones" (those who represent as agnostic, atheist, or 'nothing in particular' have increased about 10% from 6 to 16% of the American population. Still, America is quite religious compared to Europe and many other developed western nations. By 2050 ...

  • America is sharply religiously polarized between the Nones and the Traditional/Conservative churches.
  • Nones have expanded to to roughly 30% of the population, an increase in the rate-of-increase driven by a battle-line around 'tolerance' (gay marriage being the first salvo).
  • Christianity is still the world's largest religion and the largest American denomination. Mainline churches are in decline--but conservative churches have maintained a period of growth out to 2025 after which they have more or less 'flat-lined.' This is due to a strategy called The Benedict Option.
  • While the polarization is significant in terms of social policies (on which traditional conservatives are on the strongly losing end) there is not a 'shooting-war.' Instead there is an attempt at social partitioning which will allow for societies acceptable to both. The fundamentalists have a higher birthrate--it is projected this may make the score more even by 2100.
  • Mainstream religion is at an all-time low and is replaced with spiritual practices mixing things like yoga, Tai Chi, dietary and ethical codes (veganism, environmentalism), and communities in a religious mode.
  • Celebration of national secular holidays (the 4th of July and Thanksgiving) have increased greatly in importance. Black Friday is a national holiday.
  • Science vs. Religion is no longer an issue. It is simply not a point of discussion for anyone in politics or theology.

The Environment of the Omnivorse

While The Omnivore is sorely tempted to declare that by 2050, Climate Change has gone the way of The Population Bomb, that isn't how it breaks out . . .

Changes in Desert (Map by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arenda)

  • Sea Level rise is approximately 19 inches--a mid-range projection. In the US Miami, New York, and New Orleans have multi-million dollar flood-prevention systems.
  • Global temperatures have risen about 2.5 degrees Centigrade.
  • While this may have more far-reaching effects on the rest of the world, for the US it means: more hurricanes, deeper droughts, and expanded heat-waves. Click here for a pretty good Weather Channel forecast from 2050.
  • While there are water shortages in the US and some food crises elsewhere in the world, by 2050 these show up as economic issues for the United States--and not catastrophic loss of life.

The GeoPolitics of the Omnivorse

Before we can talk too much about US Politics we have to address the general geopolitical situation. For that, we turn to The Next 100 Years, a book by George Friedman of STRATFOR. It predicts that by 2050 we are facing a Third World War involving a Turkey-Japanese alliance which uses a first strike the severely injures America's military capability. America, however, rejects their offered terms, strikes back, and, eventually, turns the balance in its favor. While Friedman himself noted that predicting the future was pretty much impossible, he is working from a set of general precepts and more or less "shows his math."

Leaving aside the specifics, here are some key points about the Omnivorse's geo-political future:

  • The 2020s-2030s see widespread instability in the Middle East as oil reserves dwindle and alternate energy sources (nascent fusion, highly effective solar farms, cleaner conventional nuclear power) rise. 
  • Trends towards religious fundamentalism also drive conflict along with water shortages and crop failures creating destabilizing refugee situations along the pacific rim. Eastern governments look to technological security solutions.
  • The US finally gets serious about border security in the late 2020's as improved weapons technology (especially in the biological and small-machine field) make small unit operations abnormally deadly.
  • The confluence of aging western populations (requiring a need for younger immigrants) and social pressures around current immigrant populations will have a dramatic impact on Europe. This re-aligns the European Union dramatically into a more unified state economically (a wide-scale social-welfare program and Citizen's Wage) but creates a home for right-wing parties that see other nations as enemies.

 

The Politics of The United States 2050 (The Omnivorse)


So now we're here. What's it like? What's happened to US Politics in 35 years?

Election 2052: Democratic Party Brajamani (Braji) Shukta, Brajamani (Braji) vs. Constitution Party Palin, Bristol

Keep your pants on: She has a Ph.D. in Geo-Politics and Law from Princeton. The election is the Governor of California,66 year old Braji Shukta, (American born, Indian descent) against 59 year old Bristol Palin, Senator for Arizona. The polling aggregates using bio-metric and facial recognition algorithms to test conscious and sub-conscious reactions in massive polling samples (debate watchers allow access to their Smart TV’s sensor input for tracking purposes only) show a head-to-head match-up. Here they are on the Issues (listed both in 2050 and what we would see today):

Issue

Current Concerns

Democratic Party
Braji Shukta

Constitution Party
Bristol Palin

The Economy Improving the standard of living. Increase ‘Service Wages’ for all Americans, paid for with tariffs imposed on countries that trade with East Bloc nations. Government subsidies of Skilled Labor only. Provide war-time offer of National Service to supplement standard Service Wages.
Immigration NONE Archaic Archaic
Gun Control NONE Archaic Archaic
Health Care Access for NEET (Population Not in Education, Employment, or Training) Federal program to open 300 automated PublicCare Clinics to improve access and reduce wait times. Corporate Earned Income Tax Breaks for providing training programs to allow paid use of clinics.
Partisanship (In Congress) NONE Archaic Archaic
Same-Sex Marriage NONE Archaic Archaic
War on Drugs Border concerns with Mexico Pharma-Cartels Trade agreement with government that includes triggers for sanctions if drugs on restricted list are caught moving cross-border. Improved military presence on border with increased defense spending. Impose sanctions immediately to remove when restricted substances are no longer prevalent.
Voter ID Laws NONE Archaic Archaic
Climate Change How does US respond to developing nation’s climate change risks? Federal aid program for fusion plants, electrical grid enhancements, improvements in infrastructure. Corporate tax breaks for private investment with ecological impacts. Sanctions for nations that refuse to meet International Accords.
Foreign Policy The War. Provide aid packages to allies that break away from East Bloc alliance. Increased defense spending. Deploy Orbital Weapon System in contravention of UN Ordinances.

How’d We Get Here? . . . The ‘Constitution Party’!??

The above might look kind of familiar—it ought to: 35 years isn’t that long a time. Of course to them, our current politics will look as quaint as 18th century politics do today. Let’s look at how this happened.

The GOP: A Fragile Collation

The GOP was always a “three-legged stool” of Fiscal Hawks, Foreign Policy Hawks, and Social Conservatives. The collapse of Same Sex Marriage opposition in the early 21st century (even among young Republicans) presaged a general retreat from politics by conservative churches and socially liberal politics by the United States spiritual movements. By 2023 Arizona was majority-minority and by 2038, that majority was eligible to vote. Improvements in 1-to-1 communication using smart-phones made it possible for campaigns to turn out less enthusiastic voters, giving them buttons to push to requests rides, GPS directions to polling places, estimated wait times, instant communication with translators, and flash-alerts about issues that concerned them.

The GOP had damaged its brand badly with Blacks and Hispanics in the Twenty-Teens and was unable to recover by the Mid Twenty-Twenties when Georgia almost went Blue (the GOP candidate declared on election day that “Minorities are voting in droves” and the final polling left GA a still-Red state—but it was a close thing, a black-eye for the party on the national level, and widely seen as an irrefutable harbinger of things to come). Furthermore, while the average age of the GOP was about 2 years older than Democrats in 2012, the most conservative core—the ‘Silent Generation’—was pushing 80 by the mid 2020’s. Facing a literal die-off of the hard-right flank, a rising minority influence, and an Electoral College advantage that had only gotten worse since 2016, the GOP did the only thing it could: it Re-Branded.

The Constitution Party

The Constitution Party was a re-launch of the Republicans in 2029 after President Clinton (Chelsea) defeated Governor Cruz in a battle that, in the dying words of Karl Rove “Should have been un-loseable” for the GOP. The Constitution Party accepted a path to citizenship so long as it came with national service (if under 22 years of age) and 4 years of regular tax audits, moved to legalize several drugs with less dangerous social and medical footprints than alcohol (which included a surprising number of opiate like substances), simplify the tax code, and institute a National Service Initiative which would confer a free education and government-provided medical insurance plan for life once completed. They also pledged a strong national defense and a hands-off international presence so long as certain specific (and very well specified) red-lines were not crossed.

The Constitution Party acknowledged global warming—but was still pro-business. They abstained from all social issues save abortion (with a 20-week limit—in the case of rape, the court would grant an exception without question—but a cold case would be added to the FBI’s Criminological Logic Engine Cold-Case file for tracking). The Constitution party held an absolute position on the 2nd Amendment (from whence it took its name): the right to bear arms would not be restricted further than already restricted. Members pledged they would resign rather than bend on that.

The Constitution Party members were also required to furnish a personal bond with a legal agency of good reputation. If it was determined by the council that they had reneged on their campaign promises to voters (and it took a degree of willfulness) the bond would be liquidated and the proceeds paid to a rival Constitution Party challenger with the highest polling score.

The re-launch was shaky (a 3rd party run in 2032 threatened to sink them) but ultimately it caught on.

Healthcare: Finally Agreement

By 2015 ObamaCare’s negative ratings and positive ratings were almost neutral.With a narrow defeat in 2016, the GOP realized they had little chance to repeal it and, while their base was furious, made plans to adopt it. By 2024, both parties had alternate Universal Healthcare plans on the table.With the baby-boomer’s End-of-Life care threatening the national healthcare system on all fronts, it was time for bi-partisan action and the results were an increased social safety net that came, finally, at the expense of military spending (this was judged a big mistake in late 2044). With a huge portion of the populace out of work, having heath care not tied to employment has become noncontroversial.

Social Issues: Over And Out

In 2033 the first Social Marriage Contracts were drawn up and ratified. These allowed for (a) multi-party ‘marriages’ (including legally binding polyamory and contractually open marriages) and (b) could come with a time-limit and renewable periods (20 year increments, automatic renewal if there are minor-children involved, etc.). The creation of cheap, highly effective, virtually fool-proof contraception almost completely ended the need for abortions. In the 1st world, even if poor, by 2025, women only get pregnant if they want to. Educational standards around evolution, sex education, and the role of government ceased to be a political issue by 2035 after the failure of the Socially Conservative 3rd Party, The Independence Party.

The battle for the conservative soul of America was not fought quickly or lightly, however. Seeing a social shift of which they were on the losing end of, social conservatives first tried to rally around a candidate they felt could win a general national election (Mike Huckabee in 2016, Jeff Flake in 2020) and lost badly in the primaries both times. Following that, there were a series of conclaves that resulted in the launch of what came to be known as the Hand-basket Campaign. It was a set of TV and web advertisements, the purchasing of available media outlets, a large team of social-media experts, and an increased public voice about the degradation of American society and its future consequences. Casting the government as The New Rome and conservatives as Christian Martyrs, it was a sophisticated attempt to shape public opinion. It failed.

The final gasp was the creation of a conservative 3rd Party, a launched July 4th 2032. It won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi—but no more. Following that, the directive from on high was for Christian Conservatives to physically relocated to small communities where they could maintain family values away from the greater world—to refuse the VR-Drug augmented experiences so many people were trying, and to reject body-augmentation cybernetics. They were also discouraged from voting at all on the theory that politicians seeking their votes would either be unable to win on the national or even state scale—or would try to act as a compromising agent (forcing Christian Conservatives to support some of their values over others). As a result, the social conservative movement in 2050 is limited to small communities centered around a church from where most of the breadwinners telecommute.

Voter Id And Immigration: No Longer An Issue

These are non-issues in 2050. Firstly, voting is electronic and Ids are now checked by a national private-key-encrypted register and use a biometric 2nd factor for elections. This same system handles employment validation, opening bank accounts, and even run-of-the-mill purchases (one reason violent street crime is down: almost no one carries cash and electronic funds are impossible to steal by force). As such, illegal immigration is no longer a problem: Illegal immigrants are easily discovered. They can apply for citizenship after an 8 year term of review and service if they have no criminal record in America and no traceable history of violent crime in their original country.

Such events are rare though: borders are far more secure since the advent of targeted biological weapons has been proven possible (but never yet deployed in war). Automated systems patrol the borders and sensor-swarm robots work above and below ground—as well as at sea—looking for trespassers. It should be noted that while the Democrats enjoyed overwhelming minority support into the 2020’s but by the end of the 2020’s, with the re-branding, support began to even out. The Constitution Party’s re-brand not only committed to improving the immigrant experience, but also vocally rejected anti-immigrant sentiment in any forum including private ones—taking this even to the extent of disavowing candidates who were exposed as anti-immigrant on a racial basis.

The 2nd Amendment: More and Safer Weapons

The Constitution Party’s absolute stance on 2nd Amendment rights helped with the transition from the Republicans to the Constitution Party. With a continuing decline in violent crime and AI monitors on social media looking for “leakage” (warning-signs of an impending mass-killing) several incidents have been stopped—but not all. Vastly improved police response times and SWAT Drones (actual armed drones that can be deployed in an active-shooter situation) have mitigated the damage. Many guns (and all police guns) come with tracking systems their owners can access—this allows the recovery of stolen weapons if the owner wishes to hand over their identification codes (a password associated with the weapon’s internal tracking system). The internal trackers optional—but, when installed, difficult to remove without damaging the weapon.

Additional Smart-Safeties (optional—but subsidized by the Firearms Safety Act, proposed by the Constitution Party and passed by a bipartisan majority)  allow guns in a household to be keyed to the owner’s bio-metrics, making houses with young children much safer even if the weapons are not secured.

The Economy: How Best To Serve The Unemployed?

As noted above, employment numbers hover at about 40% for what would have been considered “ordinary 20th century jobs.” Many jobs—such as construction, security guarding, cleaning, and food services are either done entirely or heavily augmented by robots. Higher-end jobs: computer programmers, triage nurses, financial advisors, system administrators, and legal assistants are also done more cheaply and effectively by AI. Even at the high end, AIs are capable of supplanting some surgeons, lawyers, and college instructors. The result is a large portion of the populace for whom unemployment is a given.

In Europe this is handled with a “Citizens Wage”—a pay-out that is given to every citizen, regardless of wealth-level, and is enough to live on (this is in lieu of all other social services). In America there is a National Jobs program that guarantees employment of some sort from a Jobs Bank. All the jobs pay a living wage. Private sector jobs where humans are preferred (restaurant hostess for high-end establishments, some elder-care, children’s day-care, and ‘friendly-face’ positions) receive an Earned Income Credit (effectively a negative tax-return) from the government.

There are many people who work—but there are some “opt-outs” who neither work nor take training. Under the current laws they are able to apply for Federal Assistance (a procedure described as difficult and sometimes humiliating) to receive a livable wage and government housing. Those with mental or physical disabilities (which include addictions) are able to receive assistance in addition to that. A major question remains about what society is to do with these opt-Outs or ‘NEETs.’ This is a major differentiator between the Democrats and Constitutionalists.

Conclusions

The world of 2050 is similar to today in many ways: the Congress, the Electoral College, and the Two Party System yet survive. In other ways it looks totally different: entertainment mixes chemicals and virtual reality. Medicine is largely non-invasive, hugely effective, and for most people essentially free (if you do not pay and are not in national service, there is a long waiting period). Many people feel America has lost her national character—but others disagree: she is still a super-power. She is still a bastion of innovation. She is largely safe and mostly clean-running. The American Dream may look pretty different—just like the American populace—in 2050—but it’s still living. The 2076 Tri-Centennial Silver Dollars might be the last coins ever minted for use as currency—but they’ll still bear the American eagle.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Glenn Beck LEAVES THE GOP (Everybody Panic!)


Glenn Beck, conservative talk-show super-host, has announced he's quitting the Republican party. His reasons have to do with their betrayal over, well, everything (immigration specifically--but probably ObamaCare, etc.). HotAir's Allahpundit observers:
I take Beck at his word, but as for the millions of grassroots righties who’ll be pumping their fists and shouting “yeah!” as they listen to this, let me tell you what I’ve learned from blogging two presidential election cycles. Not only will they not leave the party, even if Jeb Bush is the Republican nominee, by next summer they’ll consider it treason to the cause of conservatism if a RINO like me decides that I’m staying home in November because it doesn’t much matter which royal family’s princeling actually assumes the throne. Team Blue will smear Team Red many times in many ways during the campaign and Prince Jeb will say all (or most) of the right things to convince righties that we could do worse, just like we could have done worse than McCain or Romney, and that combination of partisan anger and ideological interest will gradually transform the next election into The Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes, a contest in which no true patriot can remain neutral. It’s happened twice before, it’ll happen again.
Ace over at AceOfSpades fires back:
Allah keeps chortling, saying, "No you guys will be back," but I don't thinkhe understands.
Something has changed.
No, we won't be back. Not in the way he means it. If AllahPundit means that I, for example, will still prefer a more conservative president over a less conservative one, sure, of course, but then, Communists preferred the more liberal Bill Clinton over the less liberal George Bush, without actually supporting the Democratic Party with anything stronger than a velleity.
In 2014, the Establishment went all out to defeat its foes not just on the electoral battlefield, but in the battlefield of the mind as well. They wanted to teach the upstarts a lesson: You have not only lost, but you will always lose; you will not be permitted to win, ever. The entire Party will rise up to crush you should you signal any intention of bucking our Rule.
I warned them about something then: A hopeless soldier is a soldier who will desert the field.
Yes, Establishment GOP, you can teach us that you will always lie to us, stab us in the back, humiliate us and crush us; but if you teach us that, be aware we are learning another lesson, too. Not just that "The Establishment Will Always Crush You," but the lesson that There is no hope in any kind of conventional politics for those of us who want better than this Pile of Shit the two parties give us.
 Is this the end of the Republican party? Was Glenn Beck the cork in the bottom keeping it afloat?

The Omnivore Doesn't Think So
Remember that what "got" the Whig party was the Civil War. That's what it took to kill an entrenched  national party--and that happened by a splintering so severe that the northern Whigs turned to Lincoln and the southern Whigs got invaded. For all the talk of a Second American Civil War, unless you think that looks likely, (and right now? Not even close) the drivers for change are simply not that severe. However, this dynamic does bear looking at: There are two forces at work in this narrative that are interesting:
  1. Game Theory and 3rd Party Politics
  2. The Problem With The Plan(s)
Game Theory and Third Parties
While there is a fair amount of data on voting strategies and Game Theory, the key points are that: (A) Under Game Theory you want to maximize the power of your vote and (B) Our manner of presidential elections encourages compromise voting where the candidate closest to you with the best chance of winning is preferred over a better candidate with a greater chance of losing. None of this should be news, exactly--but where does that leave 3rd Parties?

The answer is that a vote for a 3rd Party is an attempt to maximize the power of your vote--but it is maximizing it not in the general election--but in the impact that voting has on the behavior of the party you used to belong to. In fact, in the American system, it is a zero-sum event: when you punch the ticket for the Green Party (sorry, Green Party) you throw away all of your vote-power in the general election in order to try, desperately, to move the Democrats further left. In other words, a 3rd Party Vote is playing a whole different game than a general-election-vote normally plays.

Put another way: The 3rd Party Guys have given up entirely on the major-league game to go and try a shot in the minors.

The problem for would-be Greens, though, is that your voting-power on the behavior of the party is extremely limited. Yes: it's "virtually non-existent on the national scale too"--but at least there it adds a minute amount--but still a scalar value--to a whole (Forget about the Electoral College for a minute, would you?). Imagine that each vote equals "1 point" towards a candidate winning. A 3rd Party Vote isn't just a 1pt deficit--it could represent negative points. Your voting Green to influence the Democrats? It may show up to them as a good thing you're not voting for them. They are literally happier not having your vote. Why?

The reason why is that your 3rd Party Vote--a zero in their column and a zero in the other party's--only shows up to the Democrats as an opportunity cost--and that cost--the cost of trying to "win you back"--has to be weighed against "all the normal people we'd lose by promoting your fruity theories." Sure, you think your theories are great--but the national election is a capitalist meritocracy with a zero-sum win-condition: if your ideas aren't selling? Then they're not 'great,' guys--sorry.

This is why not only are 3rd Parties a poor idea from a general election standpoint but are also a poor idea Game Theory-Wise from an "I'm really mad standpoint." Yes, the GOP would like to have Glenn Beck vote for them--sure--but if that vote comes at the cost of their total destruction, it's not worth it.

This brings us to point number 2.

The Lack of A (Rational) Plan
As The Omnivore has covered relentlessly (some would say to the point of boring distraction) the GOP Establishment has not so much betrayed conservatives as looked reality square in the face. The drivers for conservative behavior are based far more on outrage than logic.

Yes, having a zillion illegals voting Democrat will be a horrendous lose-condition for the GOP. If that happens, it's a terrible thing. The way to stop it, however, is not to try to take the Department of Homeland Security hostage in order to roll back an Executive Order the courts have already nullified. Yes, it would feel good--but no, it would not work. It was never going to work--remember that negative value cost The Omnivore mentioned above? That's at play with the plan right here.

Sure: We have to get rid of ObamaCare. You know how you do that? Reconciliation! (It's the latest GOP plan). It's unstoppable! Brilliant! Totally gonna work this time, guys! Let's read:
Using the fast-tracking procedure offers some advantage for Republicans, largely because a reconciliation package can’t be filibustered.
But it’s not going to be easy. First, House and Senate Republicans need to agree on a budget resolution, which could be difficult with fiscal conservatives calling for spending cuts but defense hawks looking for more money for the Pentagon. And, of course, President Barack Obama could veto any reconciliation bill that reaches his desk.

Still, Republicans are hoping the procedural maneuver will get them closer, at least symbolically, to gutting the president’s signature health care law.
So let's see? This plan--uses a tricky Senate rule--but it requires party unity--which is in short supply right now--and, when that plan comes together? It's dead in the water because Obama will just veto it. It's a symbolic victory. If the A-Team's plans worked as well as this one? They'd all have been shot dead a long time ago (Sorry BA, Sorry Face).

No--no, reconciliation isn't the way to go. The way to go is to win the 2016 presidential election, while keeping the House and Senate and then cutting a deal with a minority of remaining Democrats by giving them something they want for their votes. Implicit in that is probably also having a plan for the repeal of ObamaCare that doesn't throw the country into chaos like a SCOTUS ruling coming this summer might.

That right there--that shit you just read? That is the stuff no one in the fray wants to hear. It's hard. It means compromising (both to win big and to work with whatever Democrats are still in office). It's an eat-less-and-exercise message and it's not going to win morale-booster awards--but if the Tea Party was ready for prime time?

That would be their approach.

The Omnivore is pretty sure Boehner and McConnell know this too. The Omnivore is pretty sure they'd like to see the above happen. Why aren't they telling their constituents this plan?

Gosh, guys, why do you think?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The GOP and A Good Tennis Swing


This article is titled The Myth of Follow-Through. It's a short 'debunking' of common beliefs that non-pro tennis players apparently have about how the movement of the racquet after striking the ball impacts the shot itself. Apparently a lot of players believe that, for example, good follow-through technique can 'carry the ball on the strings' for a little bit and improve aim--or maybe that with the right follow-through, the continued movement of the racquet with the ball on it (even if just for a second!) can impart a good "top-spin."

From the article:
In actuality, the ball is against (not "on") the strings for only three-to-six milliseconds . What is a "millisecond?" As a reference, once the ball hits the strings, it takes you 30-to-40 milliseconds to hear that sound or feel the shock! 
The ball is gone and off the strings almost at the instant of contact, and the racquet cannot catch up. As you continue your follow through, the ball has been long gone.
In other words: follow-through, while important to your technique, is not important because of how your stroke performs during the actual hitting of the ball.

Key takeaway: a lot of people believe it does--erroneously.

Which gets us to the Republican's foreign-policy initiative(s).

The Republican Foreign Policy Front
You may remember a few long days ago (before the Great Clintonian Email Epoch) when some guy running for office in Israel came and gave a speech before Congress (he was invited, even! By congress!) without any coordination with the Oval Office. There was a time of Great Outrage. Mighty Think-Pieces were launched--and Strum und Drang (whatever that means--The Omnivore thinks it has something to do with guitars and that blue stuff you pour in your sink when it's backed up) was had.

The (thus-far) net effects?
Mind The Drop-Off On Mar 03 . . .
That was The House. Then we get The Senate's 47 Ronin Senators and their "Constitutional primer" letter to Iran. The Federalist--a hard core, hard right publication responds with 4 reasons it was stupid:
  1. C'mon: Iran understands our system of government and pretending different is just, well, stupid.
  2. We should not be sending letters of any sort to Iran and legitimizing their government.
  3. This is naked opportunistic (they don't use that word) politics. It's not like we should care about any deal with Iran as they will lie. Get ready for that eventuality.
  4. WTF, guys: HILLARY WAS ALL OVER THE FUCKING NEWS!?? YOU GO AND DO THIS? NO DAMN WONDER WE CAN'T WIN A CYCLE!
The article--it kinda has a point.

Independents tilt mildly towards “inappropriate” but the real action here is in the unusual partisan asymmetry. Democrats split 11/71 but Republicans split just 53/10. How come?
The author (HotAir's Allahpundit) floats that maybe Republican voters like the idea of a strong executive in theory even if they don't like / trust Obama--or maybe they are just war-weary in general and the hawkish-angle isn't playing? The article touches on the fact that (uh, obviously) although sent to Iran (kinda) the letter was really aimed at The White House (which, had they actually done that and addressed the letter to Obama, despite this article's title, would have been far more 'precedented' then letters to the Mullahs.)

No, it seems that these 'Foreign (policy) Adventures' don't play well at home--in much the same way that airing one's family's dirty laundry in public doesn't play well with the household. Also: just as, uhm . . .  erm . . . shockingly?

To whom did this seem like a good idea?

This brings us back to tennis.

The Art of Political Follow-Through
You can't make too much of metaphors in general--but keep with The Omnivore on this one (even though The Omnivore knows nothing from tennis). In the political realm people who can look "10 moves" (or '11 dimensions') ahead are kidding themselves. There are so many variables about how things play out that moves like "Let's knock-down our World Trade Center towers so that we have a really bad excuse to  invade Iraq--it'll be :: sing-songy :: Awe-some!!" would just be idiotic suicide if people really entertained them ("We'll need 100's of people for this--but trust me, guys, none of them will ever talk!!" and "Crud--did we use the Saudi Arabia covers instead of the Iraq ones? Oh, hell, no one'll ever notice!").

So people don't. That's why your massive, high-risk conspiracy theory never happened.

But what about looking ahead oh, three-to-six milliseconds? That's just the average seek-time of a hard-drive: It doesn't sound too hard does it? No--it does not. Having a view of the immediate aftermath and a plan to deal with said aftermath should be part of the initial plan itself (kinda like having a plan to rebuild Iraq after we invade it? No--no, don't think too much about that one).

In case you are thinking The Omnivore means some kind of elite squad of suit-clad Public Relations Gladiators to use sneaky tactics, cinematic movie hacking, and deftly timed news-leaks to in-your-pocket reporters (which you then throw in front of a subway train if they ever turn on you), The Omnivore isn't requiring that.

The Omnivore is talking about having (A) a plan and (B) agreement on it from your group about how to talk about this thing you are about to do. This should not be impossible--or even all that difficult. In fact, The Omnivore will give you, the GOP, a small set of pointers:

The First Key To An Effective Operation Is Doing Something You Can Sell To The Middle
  1. Most Americans have a different gradient of cares than your base (either Left or Right). The fact that they poll as "liking" or "disliking" something isn't a good barometer of how much they like it (at least not by itself). Most Americans like the Keystone-XL Pipeline. They aren't willing to go to war over it. Most Americans like expanded background checks for firearms. They don't vote for that when the chips are down. If you are going to take 'Xtreme Action' look for sweet spots. 
  2. Hawkish foreign policy is not a sweet-spot for Most Americans. It's not even a sweet-spot for the Republican base. Be careful in that arena.
  3. Battling with Obama is not seen as a bonus for Most Americans. If that were true Romney would be president. If you are having a hard time remembering that, put up, like, an Obama 2012 bumper sticker or something.
The Second Key Is This: Spinning Your Message Is Not The Same As Selling Your Message
  1. In order to actually "sell" your policy you must say roughly the same thing to all audiences and certainly cannot say opposite things depending on who you think is listening. Everyone is listening now (just ask any SAE frat-boy). This means you must have a single consistent message that you can 'accessorize' as necessary (by audience). If your party, as a unit, cannot agree on when to take a bathroom break, this is going to be impossible and you need to hold off on your battle-plan until you resolve it.
  2. As a, uhm, random example, if you are taking the Department of Homeland Security hostage to try to repeal an immigration executive order, claiming you're "not taking hostages" and then having Ted Cruz come out and say the plan was doomed because you "Don't take a hostage you aren't prepared to shoot," would be an example of badly spinning your message and strategy.
  3. It's okay to use a dog-whistle once in a while--but if you consistently go over-the-top you will lose credibility. Words like 'tyrant' and 'dictator' actually mean things (explicitly: that people living under one--especially mass-media figures and government officials--cannot use those terms when describing the autocrat). Abusing them with the general public as a signifier to your base ("Look! I am a severe conservative!") is going to taint everything else you try to say. If you constantly accuse someone of an actionable crime without ever bringing charges or producing evidence, eventually you come to look like an asshole. Or . . . worse.
The Third Key: You Can't Look Crazy
  1. It's okay to be upset sometimes--it's even okay to be angry--but you have to understand this: if you are part of a national party you automatically have a national audience. If you aren't quite getting what The Omnivore is saying here, try this: "Second-Amendment Solutions" is your equivalent of "Die cis scum" (if you have no idea what that last means, (a) The Omnivore is envious of you and (b) don't click the link). In case that was too opaque? Talking about overthrowing the government looks crazy. It doesn't look fed-up-and-frustrated. When you are speaking to a group that is heavily armed and cites the explicit purpose of being heavily armed as being ready to overthrow the government when necessary, talking about it from a position of leadership looks insane. It does not look statesman-like (or even States-Rights-Statesmanship-Like). Leave that rhetoric to the 15 guys marching on Washington DC to peacefully demand Obama's resignation.
  2. Similarly, claiming you don't know where Obama was born when you are a civilian makes you look adorably  fruity and, well, maybe a bit racist. Doing it--even snidely--when you are an elected official makes you look like you're also not sure if we faked the moon landing. Who's to say? It was a long time ago--and Kennedy was a Democrat and therefore a liar, right? Could have been done on a Hollywood sound-stage--was that Capricorn movie a documentary? Hard to know. Oh--and you're pretty sure you saw Big Foot on a camping trip a while back. Could've been. . . . Hey, does someone need to look into that whole Holocaust thing? Teach the controversy, eh? Isn't that our tag-line?
  3. Creating an environment where conspiracy and paranoia can flourish is not the sign of a healthy perspective. If major, heavily trafficked sites in your political spectrum feature economic and societal apocalypse as the major thrust of their premier advertising then you should probably take a good hard look at your party's messaging strategy. You are trying to sell yourselves and your ideas--what you are really selling is fear and--and The Omnivore means this literally as a description of fear 'turned up to 11'--possibly even terror. There are probably costs to doing that--costs you morally bear as a leader--don't you think?
Conclusions
The Omnivore isn't sure if the smarter conservative bloggers are seeing the same things The Omnivore is and just ignoring them? Or if they are in some kind of partisan delusional cloud. Do they misunderstand something fundamental about political dynamics the same way novice tennis players do about how a tennis stroke works? It's just unclear. To The Omnivore it is painfully obvious that the Republican party is just in no kind of shape to launch major policy offensives right now. They are unable to make policies that are easily sold to the middle (start with health care, right? Should be easy: one plan, everyone behind it, keep the good O-Care stuff, but no mandate?), organize message discipline around said plan, and then promote it without veering off into tinfoil hat territory. 

It's not like that should even be hard: it's basic political dialog--you don't have to be perfect, just, you know, decent. With this low bar-to-clear constantly whacking Republicans in the face, it is probably not the time to be organizing geo-political events. Alas, Cassandra-like, no one listens to The Omnivore (except you: so Share This On Your Facebook, you slackers!).
Party Platform

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The 47 Senators . . .

Mrs. Iselin: [at meal time] I'm sorry, hon'. Would it really make it easier for you if we settled on just one number?
Sen. John Yerkes Iselin: Yeah. Just one, real, simple number that'd be easy for me to remember.
[Mrs. Iselin watches her husband thump a bottle of Heinz Tomato Ketchup onto his plate]
Sen. John Yerkes Iselin: [addressing the Senate] There are exactly 57 card-carrying members of the Communist Party in the Department of Defense at this time!
-- The Manchurian Candidate (1962) 
This last Sunday, 47 Republican Senators, led by Tom Cotton, sent an open letter to the Iranian government telling them that they won't ratify a nuclear accord and that if a Republican wins in 2016 the agreement is over. OVAH. The Democrats were outrageously outraged over this constitutional overreach.

This left Republicans frantically groping for the Red Phone hotline to Alanis Morissette so that they could use that to explain to her what irony actually looks like. However, government in-fighting aside, is this really historic? Are Republicans actually "crossing a dangerous line" by seeking to directly undermine US foreign policy (the domain of the executive . . . constitutionally speaking)? Does the Iranian theocracy really understand the US Constitution better than, erm, Senate Republicans?

Does Iran Know More About The Constitution Than Republican Senators??
Well, no--no, probably not. Although the Senate Republicans are a diverse lot, as a a whole they are not stupid nor given to egregious flights of fancy. What they are doing is upping the ante--doubling down, as it were--on a particular position that is, right now, the vital beating heart of the GOP: Diametric Opposition to Obama. The base viscerally hates Obama and it is important to them that the GOP fight.

The GOP's brand-damage right now is getting along with Obama (passing a clean DHS bill, vowing not to default on the National Debt) so in order to mitigate that damage they need signifiers that show they are still holding the fort (and sending raiding parties) from the other end of the political spectrum. Since their legislative front isn't moving the dial they've opened a new battle in the foreign policy arena.

In that sense, yeah: this is pretty new (The Omnivore isn't an historian--or even a historian--so feel free to show historical precedent here if you got some). This is a branding exercise for the GOP: they need to find a place to fight where they can have impact (opposing executive orders by withholding funding for things the public generally wants turned out not to be the genius idea Ted Cruz temporarily convinced everyone it was . . . surprisingly).

Is it "unconstitutional"? Ask a constitutional lawyer--preferable one on the Supreme Court or something. Don't believe anything you read on the Internet.

That said, let's take a closer look at the battlefield.

A War Of Obama's Making?
Around 2004 The Omnivore was in London for a few months and got to read some English newspapers about the upcoming US election. One comment that stuck The Omnivore was an opinion piece in, he thinks, The Telegraph, which noted that the number of foreign leaders who were pro-Kerry over Bush was, by itself, an endorsement for Bush. If other nations roundly prefer Leader-X in your country, remember that any time another nation "speaks" it automatically speaks in its own interests firsts. These are not the interests of your country no matter how close they may seem at the time.

There's a reason we call nations allies and not friends (except for Canada, which we refer to as the 51st state when we think they aren't listening).

This is true whether they are endorsing from afar or giving a speech right there in your legislative chamber.

The National Examiner, a conservative-friendly outlet, does, in fact, find the letter-sending somewhat unsettling--but they come down on the side that however regrettable, this battle is "A War of Obama's Making":
It should go without saying that the reason Republicans are doing these things is because they are deeply concerned about a possible Iran deal. But another reason they're acting is because they can. On Iran and before that on immigration, healthcare, and other matters, Obama has pushed his executive authority beyond its proper limits, on the flimsy pretense that he is entitled to act unilaterally if Congress does not pass bills he wants. Could anyone fail to anticipate that in response Congress would stretch its own authority, too?
Over at the conservative HotAir, Noah Rothman (not a HA hardliner) is fairly supportive of the letter but his compatriot Jazz Shaw is somewhat less enamored:
The whole point is that the system seems to be breaking down, and this letter is yet another example of the United States airing its dirty laundry for the rest of the world to see. Under ideal conditions, this would all be hammered out in private between Obama and the Congress and he could then send Kerry to negotiate something they could all live with.
. . .  
Still, I find myself disagreeing with Tom Cotton (who I admire very much, and have since I interviewed him during the election) and wishing that this letter hadn’t been written. If there had to be an official response, a resolution of disapproval of the negotiations (or later, of the deal itself) could have been passed on the Senate floor. That would have at least kept the communications in house, rather than having the Legislative branch dive directly into the mix with Iran. The system of how things need to work to keep Washington functional continues to break down, and this letter did nothing to help with that challenge.
The Omnivore, RINO he is, agrees with this: while all-is-fair, so to speak, this is the congressional equivalent of bringing your family disagreement out in public. It's kind of wrong even if done for the "right reasons."

The question The Omnivore is interested in, though, in this case, is who started it?

Who DID Start It (and What Is IT??)
If it turns out that this is an escalation by Congress--rather than a "matching move" (and there's no objective way to score that--it's gonna be a judgment call for everyone) then it might be fair to ask "Is this actually a war of Obama's making?" Did Obama force Congress into a corner by acting like a tyrant?

Usually "Who started it?" is an argument for school-kids and people trying to gain a rhetorical edge in the Israel-Palestine conflict ("Oh yeah? But if you go back a hundred years--"). In this case, though, if we are going to say it is a 'War of Obama's Making' then we are saying "Well, it's regrettable--but The O-Man forced us."

Is that the case? How would we know?

It depends on which narrative we believe more. There are two primary ones in play here:

  • From The Left: Republican obstructionism has reached all-time highs and a ridiculous level of partisanship. In that environment, Obama, if he wanted to do anything for which he was elected, has to find ways to work around the RoadBlock Party. In other words: THEY started it and Obama had to pass the ACA through reconciliation.
  • From The Right: Obama may have given a good speech once or twice as a moderate--but in office he turned hard-left and would have run the country into twin icebergs of bad policy and worse economics. Republicans, although in the minority, were forced to act as a bloc, desperately groping for the wheel to try to keep the Ship Of State from crashing, burning, and sinking. They're not 'obstructionists'--they're the guys desperately slamming on the breaks as the driver (Obama) accelerates towards a cliff.
What might evidence look like? Well, in both cases we're going to see things like record numbers of filibusters and a dearth of passed legislation. What will make this distinct or not is where/why obstructionism happens--and what events are obstructed. 
That's a Lot Of Obstruction For SOME Reason
We can also look at outcomes (is the economy doing well?) but with the caveat that we don't have the counterfactual: alleging that things would be much better if Romney or McCain were in office is fine as a parlor game--but we can't be sure of anything. That said, if your argument is that things are okay now--but they'd be better in an alternate scenario (like where there was no Stimulus or where General Motors went through a private bankruptcy) you're already in trouble. Not only do you have to show your work but you have to convincingly beat back a lot of potential evidence to the contrary--follow the links.

How About Mission Statements?
If CNN Money thinks a private bankruptcy for GM wouldn't work and 4 out of 5 economist agree the Stimulus did work, then it's probably hard to make a case that Obama's policies were unquestionably designed to bankrupt and destroy the US. We can argue over the ACA (Rate shock coming! Overall healthcare costs going down!)--but overall, it looks like what we see with the jobs report: differing focuses and spin.

What about statements that show intent? The Omnivore wants to look at a couple of these:
  • Rush Limbaugh's "I hope he fails" (Jan 16, 2009): While Rush is not actually the head of the GOP, he is a massively key and important voice. His bald statement came 4 days before Obama was inaugurated. If the narrative is that Obama went hard-left after he was in office then this came way too soon. But Rush is no dummy: maybe he saw it coming?
  •  Newt Didn't See It Coming. The link is to an MSNBC clip that shows Newt talking to Al Sharpton about a "secret meeting" Republicans allegedly had before Obama was even in office where they formed a plan to obstruct and shut him down. Newt doesn't deny the meeting--but he says that Obama came in with bi-partisan rhetoric and if he'd kept to it he could have "split the Republican party." Since he didn't, ramming through legislation as he did (the Stimulus), he opened the door to a showdown with Republicans. Again, if that's the story Republicans are telling, it doesn't quite add up.
  • The Secret Meeting In Question happened the night of Obama's inauguration and would "Show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies." That seems pretty clear. Again, this is before Obama had a chance to do anything--not the Stimulus, not the ACA, none of that.
  • Blocking Obama's nominees. Opposing Obama's policies are one thing--but blocking nominees is relatively new. It's happened: in the Clinton era there were 9 nominees blocked. In the Bush era? 7. For Obama? More than 30 thus far. Note in the article that the nominee-blocking filibuster is used as a tool to try to force changes to the Dodd-Frank act rather than because they don't like the nominee himself (Republicans generally did like Richard Cordray--perhaps a reason Obama chose him).
  • The Party of Hell No. Just as Limbaugh is not the actual leader of the Republican party, the "mission statement" isn't exactly nailed down (there's the platform--but it's explicitly non-binding). But that link above is pretty explicit that everything needs to STOP. One of their big bugaboos? Cash for Clunkers (does anyone remember that)?
  • Then there's the actual Platform Survey for 2016. The word Obama appears 9 times (Obama, of course, will be out of office then--probably for ever) and only two of those usages are in 'ObamaCare.' An actual potential platform issue is "Do you believe the Republican Party needs to do a better job of exposing the Obama record and his radical liberal agenda?"
For evidence that Obama is hard left, this is what The Omnivore has furiously searched on Google. Here are the top results for Obama far-left, Obama leftist, and so on:


From America's Finest News Source
Conclusions
The Omnivore was not impressed with most of the left-wing Marxist stuff. It didn't hold up well (a lot of the links were like this--The Omnivore mercifully didn't even include them). Stuff like the ACA and the Stimulus should take front and center--but it usually doesn't. Maybe that's because the Stimulus is old news? Because a majority of economists think the Stimulus "worked?" Maybe because the ACA, while it may not be popular, does seem to implement a lot of things people want--which makes calling it Communism problematic anywhere but a friendly crowd. The problems seem to be with the way it was passed--not the specifics of it (save for the mandate).

If the way that ObamaCare, to use an example, was passed is what makes Obama such a contentious and ultra-left-wing president? Then the whole Right-Wing narrative falls apart. The plans for obstructionism were in place long before the ACA came to the table. The Republican narrative is that they tried to work with Obama on it--and he stuffed them--but that's at odds with what we've seen about plans to ruin his agenda whatever it was before he even swore in.

In short, this doesn't seem to "A War of Obama's Making"--the 47 Senator's letter seems like a counter-move, possibly an actual escalation, in a war that has been going on since the national election night in 2008.