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    • Reasons For Hope (1): The Solutions Are Known
      Ok, this place has mostly been about how fucked we are, and how we’ve fucked up. Blame is more on our leaders than us, but as a species we’re on the hook. But there is cause of hope because mostly we know what we have to do. We know we have to reduce CO2 and Methane emissions. We even know mostly how. We pretend we don’t, because the how will involve changin […]
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Pat Toomey is only partially right

Toomey is the outgoing senator from PA. He gave a bitter, exasperated interview on CNN bemoaning the results of the mid-term, especially in Pennsylvania.

Among his observations, the top of the ticket drove the election here and had good coattails. He also said that Mehmet Oz was a good candidate. I’d have to disagree with him. Sure, Mehmet Oz got a lot of party faithful to vote for him but I never thought he really had a chance in PA. He only temporarily benefitted from Fetterman’s stroke after he made a big stink about John’s audio processing problem during his recovery. Anyone who has heard Fetterman speak knows that his cognitive abilities run circles around Herschel Walker’s.

But it was what Toomey said next that is revealing and short sighted:

Noted Toomey: “We were in a moment, we were in a cycle, we were at a time when it’s good for Republicans for the race to be about President Biden, who is not popular, whose policies have failed. And instead, President Trump had to insert himself and that changed the nature of the race.”

Toomey wasn’t done. He added that: “All over the country, there’s a very high correlation between MAGA candidates and big losses, or at least dramatically underperforming.”

Trump did have an effect on the outcome of this race. Trump is the one who picked Oz, Blake Masters in Arizona and Herschel Walker in Georgia, for example. He picked Kari Lake, Doug Mastriano and Tudor Dixon. I don’t know how many House races he was involved with but his trickle down effect even affected state legislatures. Here in PA, the unthinkable may happen where we might have a Democratically controlled state legislature for the first time since 2008. Voters got smart. They had a sense that downticket races were key to keeping our democracy.

It’s like the good citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania looked up and said, “Grass! We’ve been eating GRASS!” Even some of the suburbs in Allegheny county flipped from red to blue. Shaler township, about as obnoxiously Trumpy as you can get went from red to blue by 26 points. That’s nuts.

What do I attribute that to? Outgoing Governor Tom Wolf’s mask mandate was deeply unpopular. Gas prices here are still stuck around $4.00/gal. And we’re not that far away from crazy red Ohio.

Let’s go back a few years. I think part of the reason PA came to its senses had to do with the after effects of the 2020 election. Trump tried to eliminate half of our ballots and he was pretty aggressive about it. Josh Shapiro fought back just as aggressively. Part is about Tom Wolf himself. He is a pretty good governor and he keeps a low profile.

A big part has to do with abortion. If the PA governorship had fallen into the hands of the Republicans, the last abortion clinic for hundreds of miles would have closed. Period. Republican state legislators were pretty up front about that. We are surrounded by abortion ban states, the only exceptions being Maryland and New York. Abortion was on the ballot even if there was no specific referendum. The choice was clear. If you vote for Mastriano, reproductive choice for Pennsylvania women as well as Ohio, Indiana and, West Virginia women is over.

And just for good measure, you have to get rid of as many MAGA state legislators as possible because THEY were more than willing to substitute new electors in 2020. I can only guess that “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” is why it worked in PA but not in Ohio. The swingiest of swing states finally got religion. It pays to occasionally be the center of media attention and feel the collective anxiety of the nation hung around your neck. “Here ya’ go. It’s up to you PA whether we get that extra vote in the Senate and whether your state controls who the next president is going to be. No pressure or anything but don’t f{#% it up.”

It tends to focus the mind.

But don’t count out Biden or his so-called “failed policies”. Here in Pittsburgh, we had a graphic demonstration of what will happen when your infrastructure is neglected when one of our bridges collapsed earlier this year. Another one was recently taken out by an out of control cherry picker. We have three rivers here and more than our fair share of bridges.

In the last couple of months, construction crews were everywhere. It got to be so busy around here that I literally couldn’t leave my street or the next one over without hitting a roadblock or detour. There’s a new asphalt smell in the air and crisp new painted lines on the road. If you lived anywhere here in Pittsburgh, it was hard to miss all of the work on streets and bridges.

Pittsburgh is also a city with a very large Ukrainian population. All of the countries affected by the war in Ukraine have a foothold here. This is pierogie, kielbasa, haluska and pashka territory.

Yes, inflation is hurting us. But fracking is booming. To be honest, Fetterman had a gun to his head with the fracking question. He could have been more nuanced and said he opposed to how the oil was extracted or that we need to wean ourselves off fossil fuel but Pennsylvania oil is needed in the interim to offset the inflation brought on by the Saudis squeezing supply. But there wasn’t any room for subtlety this year. Yep, go with throttle up with fracking. Renewable energy isn’t going away with Fetterman in the Senate.

But Biden is also a notable contrast to what we had. He’s calm. He’s steady. He doesn’t deliberately fling his feces and cause international incidents. He’s focused on tackling problems in a less than ideal legislative and judicial environment. He gets blocked just like the people of Pennsylvania get blocked by the insane antics and adolescent misbehavior of MAGA Republicans. When Biden put a name to the problem, the more toxic locals started to feel it. Some of the Trump/Pence signs came down. Fewer people wanted to be “that guy”. We had had enough.

So, I’m not surprised that Toomey didn’t want to credit Biden or Wolf or Shapiro or Fetterman overmuch. But it was those people who kept this place calm and quieted the noisy legislative nut cases and focused our attention. Pennsylvania is a 2022 midterm success story because of positive influences as much as it is a rejection of the Trump induced psychosis.

The inmates are no longer running the asylum here.

Republicans Want to Think That Their Problem is Not Their Agenda, but Their Pitchman

The Nevada Senate race was called for Cortez-Masto, so the Democrats hold the Senate! One more race, the runoff in Georgia. Fifty-one seats is better than fifty, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the 2024 Senate map is more difficult for Democrats, so any buffer obtainable is important. Fifty-two Senate seats would have been wonderful, because then we could have overridden some filibusters, even if there are not enough votes to abolish it. But we have to settle for 51, if Warnock wins, and that is far better than was anticipated, including by me.

I want to write about the absolute travesty of inaccurate, or very likely in some cases, deliberately biased polls, which absolutely skewed the media coverage, which from what I had read (I stopped listening, it was so bad), was one negative story after another about the Democrats. They were going to lose forty House seats, four or more Senate seats/ Their strategy was completely wrong, even laughable; They might as well give up. On and on, like some kind of high school pile-on. But I will put that aside for now; I do want to note how the Republicans are reacting to these results.

There are two key things about Republican political figures and those who fund them. 1) They are bad people, and they are sure they are right about everything, and they don’t intend to give one inch, or change course. 2) Many of them are big business types who believe in the ability of marketing to get people to buy anything.

I never saw the show “Mad Men,” but I assume it was about Madison Avenue in the 1950’s, when marketing was king, you could sell just about anything to anybody; all you needed was a clever slogan or jingle, and an appealing pitchman or attractive woman in front of the camera.

The dark science of marketing is a virtual religion for Republican power people. They figure that they cam sell the populace on anything; and sadly enough, they have been proved right many times, though not always. So if they lose an election, they do not reflect on the positions the party has taken, and think that maybe they should moderate a few of them. No, they think they just have to change the pitch and the pitchman.

So they are going to blame Trump for these upsetting losses. We see that Rupert Murdoch’s evil empire, including Fox News, the New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal, is blaming and mocking Trump. That’s fun for us to see, and he more than deserves it; except that it evinces their cynical view that all they have to do is change the brand name, and then they’ll win the elections, with the exact same agenda.

Maybe they are right, let us very much hope not. But that is their reflex reaction. Get Trump out of there, and put in DeSantis, and then they can do all the things they want. As we know, there is no meaningful difference between the agendas of these two awful people. They are both fascists by nature, they want to always get their way; and they have views which are anathema to any reasonable and decent American; but they use political power, a manipulated system, billions of dollars in dark money, and their millions of ignorant or brainwashed supporters, to bludgeon their way to their desired ends.

Getting rid of Trump will not at all be the end of the MAGAs, the fascists, the Christian authoritarians,, though in itself it ts a thing devoutly to be wished. Murdoch and Thiel and the rest of them just want a new person in front. The same wine in a new bottle, carefully designed by people who have made billions by selling all sorts of products to the populace.

Democrats tend to criticize themselves when they lose; they feel guilty, and they try to moderate their positions. They do this far too much, but it is because they do not have the arrogant confidence of Republicans. These Republicans do two things. They find a new person to carry their banner, and they will try to find tricky ways to sell him or her. They will. come up with a few new words that their research people tell them will resonate. Come up with slogans for their agenda, like Gingrich’s “Contract with America.”

They are certain that the only reason they lost, is that people don’t like Trump as much, and so he cost wins for what they think were great candidates. They think they need more Glenn Youngkins. who is a very wealthy person who pretended to be just an average guy; and found a bogeyman (Critical Race Theory) to scare people. They think they just need to change the costumes, change the words, have a slightly different catchy jingle, and then they will get what they want.

Are they right? Hopefully not. After the tension and stress of this election cycle, we all need and deserve a respite from worrying about it. Let’s hope we can somehow win the House, and that Katie Hobbs can win the Arizona governorship. And we can appreciate all the people who worked so hard to get Democrats elected in every state, and who were determined not to let the unceasing media takes and the deliberately biased polls discourage them.

I just wanted now to express my sense of what the Republicans will be doing going forward. They hope that people who are sick of Trump will get excited about heir new candidate, the same way they expect that a differently colored box of laundry detergent, or a computer-generated gecko or emu will bring in the customers who were bored with the old spiels and pitchmen. The dogmas of the advertising racket guide them in their quest to separate people from their money, and voters from their safety nets.