“Why Do We Keep Losing?”


One of my posse posed that question by email this morning, and I replied, “Beats the shit out of me.”

Actually, with a little reflection, I see that I lied like a rug. Let me, then, give two actual answers to the question.

The first comes from the ever insightful Jonathan Chait, writing this morning in This Might Be the Worst Democratic Freak-out Ever. Chait’s point is that Democrats have lost several special elections simply because those elections have taken place in heavily Republican districts.

To me, Chait’s argument, which gets right to the nub of the matter, provides useful context but little comfort. This brings me to my second point.

First, some numbers. In 2016 the unspeakable Tom Price garnered 61.7 percent of the vote in the Sixth District, while Donald Trump received only 48.3 percent. That is to say, about 22 percent of Republican voters in the Sixth District could not hold their noses and vote for Trump, while the remaining 78 percent did vote for The Donald—in spite of his bullshit, or because they loved his bullshit, one or the other.

In yesterday’s special election Ossoff took 47.3 percent (a slight improvement over Hillary Clinton’s performance) while Handel garnered 52.7 percent. In other words, only 85 percent of Price’s voters picked Handel, while the remaining 15 percent either chose Ossoff or stayed home. My working hypothesis is that these 15 percent of Republican voters in the Sixth District saw the race as a referendum on Trump, and were still unwilling to cast what was effectively a vote for President Moron.

That said, Handel’s 52.7 percent of the vote significantly exceeded Trump’s 48.3 percent in 2016.

It is metaphysically possible that some of these incremental voters also saw the vote as a referendum on Trump, and, having seen The Donald in action as president, decided to send a strong message of support.

But my working hypothesis is that most of these no-to-Trump-yes-to-Handel voters still don’t like Trump, but came to see the Georgia election as a choice between a liberal Democrat and a country club Republican—and “came home” to vote for the country club Republican.

So why did Ossoff lose? My second answer is: because it’s really difficult to sell people a product they don’t want to buy. And the product the country club Republicans want to buy is significantly lower taxes.

If lowering taxes has the side benefit of taking Medicaid away from white trash and people of color—letting “those people” wallow in their richly deserved misery—then so much the better, say the country club Republicans.

This morning Morning Joe took a  long ride on one of his very favorite hobbyhorses: the alleged Democratic failure to find candidates who “culturally match” their districts. (Apparently, Ossoff would have done much better had he armed himself with assault rifles and shot up an abortion clinic.)

Joe’s point may actually have some validity, as a general observation. But I think it has nothing to do with the Sixth District. I think the affluent, well educated white folks in the Sixth District just want to pay lower taxes and screw poor people. I think these goals are so important to them that they are willing to overlook treachery, corruption, and America’s downward spiral.

Not a Credit


Fifty-six percent of voters in Georgia’s Sixth District have college degrees, making it the sixth most educated congressional district in the United States. These affluent, mostly white folks have chosen as their representative Newt Gingrich, then Tom Price, and now Karen Handel, a person whose overweening ambition greatly exceeds her modest talents.

They have determined once again to elect a Republican, notwithstanding the demonstrated malevolent incompetence of the party and its leader.

They are not a credit to their race.

Latest Report from the Georgia Campaign

Although embroiled in a highly contested election, Democrat Jon Ossoff found time to shoot up the Republican congressional baseball team.

Charged with shooting his future Republican colleagues, Ossoff countered by pointed out that it was REPUBLICAN candidate Karen Hantel’s REPUBLICAN Party that was responsible for Sherman’s march through Georgia.

Jim Comey and the Bird of Paradise

One of my interlocutors has suggested that comment is required from Aardvark on Putin’s sarcastic “offer” of asylum to Jim Comey.

My comment is that, coming as it does from someone who regularly orders people murdered, the joke is not funny.

In any event, I understand that Comey has sent this response to Vladimir:

National Brotherhood Week

Aardvark was moved by the joint appearance last evening, on the PBS Evening News and elsewhere, of the Democratic and Republican baseball team managers. Aardvark approves, in the abstract, the advice that “let’s all cool the rhetoric.” Kumbaya is a nice song, and it’s fun and uplifting to sing it.

But it seems to me that two points are being overlooked.

First, it seems that Mr. Hodgkinson was motivated to engage in violence by political deeds, much more than political words.

Second, to focus on alleged rhetorical sins by the most famous among us tends to deny agency to the unfamous among us. We all have a duty to be angry about actions—not words, but actions—that rightly engender anger. And we all have a duty to keep our anger in check.

So, should we be singing Kumbaya, or should it be National Brotherhood Week. As for me, I go with National Brotherhood Week as the best musical expression of the current moment in our national life.

Unicorns Sightings in Kansas


Moderate Republicans Revolting in Kansas

Republicans are predicting the beginning of the end of the tea party in Kansas:

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Kansas was at the heart of the tea party revolution, a red state where, six years ago, a deeply conservative group of Republicans took the state for a hard right turn. Now, after their policies failed to produce the results GOP politicians promised, the state has become host to another revolution: a resurgence of moderate Republicans.

Moderate Republicans joined with Democrats this week to raise state taxes, overriding GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto and repudiating the conservative governor’s platform of ongoing tax cuts. The vote was a demonstration of the moderates’ newfound clout in the state Republican Party. Brownback was unable to successfully block the bill because many of the die-hard tax cut proponents had either retired or been voted out of office, losing to more centrist candidates in GOP primaries.

“The citizens of Kansas have said ‘It’s not working. We don’t like it.’ And they’ve elected new people.” said Sheila Frahm, a centrist Republican who served as lieutenant governor of Kansas and briefly as a U.S. senator.

Give Him the Wild Wind for a Brother and the Wild Montana Skies

The Montana special election is tomorrow. The Republican candidate has just assaulted a reporter and broken his glasses. Apparently because the candidate did not like the reporter’s questions.

Aardvark does not know whether this development will redound to the benefit of the Democrat or the Republican.

Love and Marriage

Joe and Mika

It has come to Aardvark’s attention that ‘Morning Joe’ hosts Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski are engaged. This is said said to be a very recent development. According to Mika,

Scarborough’s marriage proposal came during a trip to the Antibes in honor of her 50th birthday. During a walk by the Mediterranean, he feigned being winded and asked to take a break.  That’s when he busted out the oval-shaped diamond ring set in platinum.

“When I saw him on one knee, I started laughing nervously, almost hysterically,” Brzezinski said. “And then he asked, and I said, ‘Absolutely.’ ”

For his part, Scarborough said he thought long and hard about attempting marriage for a third time.

“It’s the one part of my life that unfortunately, I haven’t gotten right in the past,” Scarborough told Vanity Fair. “I thought after the last time that I would never, ever do this again in a million years,” he said. “Then it occurred to me that with us working together and being live on the air every day for three hours that we were forced, no matter what disagreements we had, what misunderstandings we had, to work through it and get right with each other by 5:59 A.M.”

It has been suggested in certain quarters that Aardvark owes his readership a duty to comment on the forthcoming nuptials. I can only say that I have suspected for some while now that reports of a romance were accurate.

My evidence? That wifely look she gives him that’s affectionate but exasperated and somewhat disgusted at the same time.

Aardvark knows that look.

Congratulations, France!

Belated congratulations to the people of France on Sunday’s election results. Hans reports that he has tossed his cup of hemlock down the sink. Meanwhile, Vasari, directs us to this column from David Leonhardt, remarking—possibly with tongue in cheek, or possibly not—that it’s nice to have the world explained in one column. Leonhardt writes,

The details are different in every country, but a theme cuts across much of the industrialized world. In France, Britain, Germany, Japan and the United States, the political left is struggling. It is struggling, in particular, to win over many working-class voters who were once its loyal supporters.

Yes, the French left — and much of the rest of the world, including me — is breathing a sigh of relief this morning, because Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate, emerged from yesterday’s first round of the presidential election as an underdog to win. But Le Pen still has a path to victory, and that’s terrifying for many reasons.

She has a path partly because working-class French voters who supported the Socialist Party in past decades have drifted away from it. …

Beyond France, center-right parties have dominated politics recently in both Germany and Japan. The British Labour Party is so dysfunctional that it fumbled a chance to prevent Brexit, as Jonathan Freedland has explained in The New York Review of Books. One of the few exceptions to the left’s losing streak is Canada.

n the United States, of course, Democrats control neither the White House nor Congress. If you’re tempted to excuse this by noting that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, I’d point out that Democrats also hold only about one-third of state legislatures and governorships.

And an observation by yours truly, Aardvark, from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious: as return on capital increases globally and return on labor decreases globally, of course the working class will turn to tribalism and political charlatanism, unless and until the allegedly more responsible among the political class address the real economic concerns of the working class.

All that said, congratulations, France, on having dodged the bullet this time.



A Big Disappointment


In Georgia’s sixth congressional district progressive Jon Ossoff got 48.1 percent of the vote and will face a runoff against Karen Handel, who received 19.8 percent.

Running third was Bob Gray, who achieved a whopping 10.8 percent by sucking up bigly to the Trumpster. Bruce LeVeil, who gave Gray a run for his money in Trump suckupery, earned zero point two percent of the vote, leaving him tied with someone named Mohammad Ali Bhuiyan, not to mention a bunch of other also rans.

Among the latter, also at zero point two percent, was Amy Kremer, the preferred candidate of Sean Hannity. Happily, Georgians were not buying whatever Hannity was selling.

Marco Rubio and Newt Gingrich—who formerly graced the Sixth District with his legendary legislative legerdemain—were for one Judson Hill, who went nowhere. Joining Mr. Hill on his journey to nowhere was Dan Moody, who was Senator Purdue’s man.

In short, the progressives were united, the Republicans were badly divided, and those among them who made a point of supporting Trump suffered humiliating defeats.

Greg Sargent gives progressives some fairly persuasive reasons to feel good about all of this. If you want to feel good too, please read what he has to say.

As for me, one, I am badly disappointed. But, two, building a border wall and doing away with affordable health care are not really popular in Cobb County. Ms. Handel will have to (1) embrace some very unpopular positions, (2) disavow Trump’s approach, and thus risk Trump supporters’ sitting on their hand, or (3) shuck and jive. Ms. Handel, whose ambition greatly exceeds her stature, will surely adopt the shuck and jive approach. It will be a sight to see.