Time for a Grab Bag Week

Lots of Odds and Ends in the News & in Our Heads This Week

It is That Time of Year

A lot of things man-made and natural come to the forefront this time of year, and a few extras are up front this year. Let’s take a look. The first three are inexorably linked to each other, the rest, free range.

Lack of Electoral Enthusiasm by Youth and Blacks

This promises to be one of the more unusual and more important midterm elections in many decades. Some polls and pundits indicate that enthusiasm is lower than it might be among young voters and among Black voters

I surely get it that any number of people and groups feel that not enough has been accomplished yet on their agenda priorities and for the nation’s good. I mostly agree with those agendas as I know them. But if that translates into lower voter turnout, you have to think: “Really? That makes sense to you?”

When elections are over, political power is spread out, and all our lives are affected in exceptionally important ways. This applies to state and local office elections every bit as much as national office elections.

Take even a casual look at what the Republican party has become. It is difficult – ok, for me, impossible- to understand how anyone at this point thinks giving the MAGA/Election Denying crowd more power serves this country in any way.

Even if one likes some of their policies, electing people of this lack of judgement and character is, to put it mildly, nuts. Voting for this underwrites political evil and hinders any hope of regaining a genuine center right party. Let’s hope we show more sense than that in the coming days.

First Impeachment was “Only About Winning the Senate”

Some interesting reporting and unveiling of documents have come out in recent days about the first Trump impeachment. In short, pretty well every single Republican senator concluded that Trump had committed impeachable offenses in withholding vital defense resources from Ukraine (which likely started Putin on the path he is now walking).

But Mitch McConnel convinced them none of that mattered – the only thing that mattered was holding on to the Senate and convicting Trump would likely kill that prospect.

As it turned out, they lost the Senate anyway, Trump learned zero from the experience, got impeached again, and lost the general election. McConnel has always been about power and nothing else, but his decision to squash impeachment two times doomed his party from any chance of coming back towards normalcy and has helped drag our country through more mud for many months. I hope there is an afterlife – this guy deserves a very special one.

Georgia Senate Race (and Others) Raise That Question Again

 Watching the train wreck that is the Hershcel Walker campaign is something else. From the outset, one again raises that question: Really Folks? How could this even be remotely close. This has always been a candidate that was supremely unqualified and unsuitable. Increasingly, it has become obvious that he also lacks any measurable level of character.

His opponent on the other hand, Raphael Warnock, has been a star in the Senate, frequently cited as the best of of new Senators. And yet, the race is close. The national Republican party is setting up some distance from Walker, but only because they think he might lose. Trump and Georgia Republicans are sticking by him. Once again the only criteria is winning a seat – no matter who they put in that seat.

We are going to talk in some depth shortly about the mix of politics, religion, morality, and character. Politics has always been a rough enterprise, one long on calculation, but we now have groups and a party that have made it clear that power is the only value they will weigh in every case, no exceptions. No conduct, no stance is unacceptable if a win is possible. Character at any level is waived off. That is the road to nowhere and we should call it out.

About the Royals

It has been pretty hard in recent weeks to avoid news and gossip about the United Kingdom’s royal family. One hopes for the good of their people and themselves that everything will sort out. There are times when some Americans envy the Brits having a head of state separate from their political leaders. The late Queen was pretty darn good at what her job entailed in this way.

But guess what? They are all human, subject to the same frailties and distractions, and shortcomings as everyone else. I have often joked that most people would not associate with half their families if they were not blood relatives. Seems as though the Windsors are Exhibit A. I find the whole subject remarkably uninteresting personally, but for those engaged about all this, take heart – your family is not the only one screwed up!

The Economy – What a Mix of Strength and Challenges  

The American economy is in remarkable shape. A great deal of this is outside the control of the federal government, for better or worse, and much of it is based on international factors that we have varying degrees of influence over. Still, all in all, this is a terrific economy for the most part and where a government (or a Federal Reserve) can make a decision, they have done it exactly right. Credit is deserved, my fellow voters.

Biden and company know that supporting the demand side of the economy – supporting families and workers – get the right results every time. They also know the Republican mantra of supply side support – take care of the wealthy and business – does not work. Never has, starting with the Great Depression and going on through the Reagan era and beyond.

The Republicans have not had a platform or a legislative agenda for almost a decade, so who knows what they “stand for” now, but we know they oppose what is working, simply because Biden proposed it.

We have some big challenges out there still, for sure. Inflation is the 800 pound gorilla that has to be beaten down, even at the cost of a short recession if necessary. Supply chain issues will continue at least through the early part of next year and the world economy continues to restart from the pandemic era. OPEC has reminded us that as long as we rely on carbon energy, we are someone else’s whipping boy.

And the labor shortage? That is likely to remain permanent at some appreciable level. Boy, do we need a rational immigration policy – that would make a major dent in both the employment and border issues. Come on voters – give us a Congress finally ready to do this right.

Fall is Almost Here

A lot of what we discussed today is discouraging stuff. But life goes on. In my neck of the woods we are getting the first dramatic bits of Fall color. In a bout another two weeks we will be in its full glory. Cannot wait. So glad we live on a planet that does this every year. The beauty of Fall takes my breath away, every single year. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

       Bill Clontz

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