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Republicans can’t let their agenda suffer the same fate as President Obama’s in 2010

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Republicans cant let their agenda suffer the same fate as President Obamas in 2010

Republican control of the Senate and President Trump’s unlikely 2016 victory were made possible because of the momentum that was started when the GOP took control of the House of Representatives in 2010. If the GOP hadn’t taken control of the House, President Obama would have had at least two more years to push his agenda with the backing of a Democratic Congress.

Instead, the Republican Party was able to turn 2010’s exceptional string of House seat victories into good strides in 2012. Those strides made the 2014 takeover of the Senate possible. All of that momentum equated into the 2016 sweep of the House, Senate, and White House. It’s very likely none of that would have happened if the GOP didn’t win the House first in 2010.

It’s not about direct cause and effect from election to election. It’s about the psyche of both Republican voters and party leadership. If Democrats had retained control of the House in 2010, their clean sweep would have forced many Republican voters to sour on the whole proposition. They would have been demanding answers, calling for big changes in Republican leadership, and may have even abandoned the newly formed Tea Party initiatives.

But none of that happened. Instead, Republicans were able to celebrate the debilitating damage they’d done to President Obama’s agenda. Most Americans seem to misunderstand how the dynamic between Capitol Hill and the White House works. Most of us prefer to employ checks and balances that leave control in Washington DC split so different parties control the legislative and executive branches. While this works well in high school civics classes, it doesn’t work well in practice. Checks and balances in today’s atmosphere mean deadlock.

Deadlock means nothing actually gets done.

Without the House AND the Senate, President Obama would never have been able to get Obamacare through. Republicans will say that this would have been a good result, but now the shoe’s on the other foot. Without the House AND the Senate, President Trump would never have gotten tax cuts passed. In fact, it wouldn’t even have been discussed as a possibility.

The positive economic progress we’ve made in the last two years will come to a screeching halt if Democrats win control of the House or Senate. Job numbers will start dropping. Wages will start dropping. The stock market will drop to 2016 numbers. GDP, economic growth, and nearly every indicator of fiscal health will fall. Why? Because the factors that determine economic progress and stability are directly affected by the actions of Congress in general and the House of Representatives in particular. Deadlock doesn’t just mean the President is helpless. It also means Congress is unable to get their bills signed. Both sides lose.

Without the House, President Obama was neutered by the 2010 election. President Trump will be neutered by the 2018 election if Republicans and Independents don’t keep the House AND the Senate under GOP control.

The party in power always has less-passionate voters in midterms. That may change this year. It needs to. If it doesn’t, President Trump will suffer the same fate that President Obama suffered in 2010 when his agenda was effectively stalled.

Federalists

What Stacey Abrams gets right about moving forward from the Georgia election

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What Stacey Abrams gets right about moving forward from the Georgia election

Democrat Stacey Abrams possesses some pretty radical political ideologies. I completely disagree with her far-leftist rhetoric or the agenda she hoped to bring to Georgia as governor. Republican Brian Kemp is the next governor, which even Abrams admits.

But she refuses to concede that she actually lose the election. She’s clear that Kemp is the governor-elect, but she falls just short of saying that his victory is illegitimate.

That’s all political theater. Here’s what she gets right. Georgia and many states need to clean up their election practices. Laws should be passed. Other laws should be removed. Ballot access for American citizens must be protected and the process must be made as easy as possible without jeopardizing accuracy or opening the doors to fraud.

Most importantly, this must be done through a combination of the legal system and the state legislature. At no point should she or anyone else try to turn this into a federal issue.

People on both sides of the political aisle seem to be leaning towards fixing election problems at the national level. This would be a huge mistake. The states must clean their own houses. The residents of the states must be the catalyst. Keep DC out of it.

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Conspiracy Theory

Many Democrats support Mueller investigation without knowing what it’s about

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“Trump stole the election!”

Two years and two elections ago, something happened that has Democrats scratching their heads even today. Hillary Clinton lost. She wasn’t supposed to lose. She was cheated some way, somehow.

This is what they hope to be proven by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 elections. The problem is a majority of Democrats think the Russians did something that Mueller’s team isn’t even investigating because there’s absolutely no hint of a possibility that it could be true.

67% of Democrats believe “Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Donald Trump elected President.”

Let that sink in.

Robert Mueller Poll

If you believe Russia attempted to influence the elections by using social media and other venues to spread anti-Hillary rhetoric, you’re almost certainly correct. In fact, the Mueller investigation has assumed that to be true from the beginning. The question isn’t whether or not Russia tried to influence the elections in this way. It’s whether or not Americans helped them, in particular members of the Trump campaign.

What’s not being considered is whether or not Russia tampered with vote tallies. They did not. It’s not even a consideration in Mueller’s investigation, yet two-thirds of Democrats believe it to be true.

67% of Democrats can’t wait for Mueller to prove their theories correct even though he isn’t even investigating vote tally tampering at all. It’s reminiscent of the days after Obamacare was launched when Democrats asked, “Wait, it’s not free?”

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Entertainment and Sports

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs would be terrible if the Coen brothers didn’t make it

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs would be terrible if the Coen brothers didnt make it

Directors often get too much credit for making movies great. That’s not the case with the Coen brothers. In their latest release, their presence in the director’s chairs and behind the writing desks took what should have been a mediocre Old West anthology and made it clever enough that most viewers will enjoy it. Others, like me, will hate it despite their presence.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a Coen brothers film made for Netflix that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is why 91% of critics reviewed it favorably on Rotten Tomatoes. But the thumbs-up/thumbs-down approach by Rotten Tomatoes makes the rating a bit misleading. Many of the “positive” reviews I read were essentially homages to the Coen brothers. There were many complaints about the six-part anthology that were followed by “… but it’s the Coen brothers, so…”

That’s the big plus in the movie. The Coens were able to tell the six stories the way only they could with such attention to detail that I almost watched it a second time even though I hated it. The critic in me detested what the movie tried to do. The fan in me loved how the Coens tried to do it.

Unfortunately, that means the only valid reason to watch it is to see the Coens do their thing. That’s enough of a reason if you’ve already seen all of their other extraordinary works. If you’ve missed any of them, I’d start there before using The Ballad of Buster Scruggs as a filler to get you through until their next masterpiece.

I normally don’t do spoilers. In fact, I make a point to not even spoil important components like mood or tone. Since this is a case where I’m not only going against the grain of other reviewers but I’m also trying to dissuade certain people from seeing it, I’ll go ahead and warn that there are spoilers ahead.

As noted already, this movie doesn’t take itself seriously. There are six completely separate stories tied together by two things: death and the historical Old West. We’ll deal with the death aspect shortly, but one good thing I can say about the movie is that I’ve never seen one capture the beauty of the period like this one. Even on a small screen, the sets are stunning. It’s a shame that such amazing cinematography will have so few see it on the big screen.

Now, let’s deal with death. It’s the overarching theme throughout, and it’s noteworthy that none of the reviews I read seemed to catch onto the specificity of the deaths. In order from first to last, the deaths are whimsical, ironic, undeserved, deserved, and tragic. This is done in a very particular order to keep the audience engaged. It’s an emotional ebb and flow that the Coens have mastered over three decades of filmmaking.

The opening story shares its title with the movie itself. It’s a live-action cartoon with stunning aspects that make the viewer laugh, marvel, and finally scratch his or her head. Buster Scruggs’ death is as quick and unexpected as the death the character dishes out throughout his story.

The second story, Near Algodones, demonstrates the inevitability of death for one who chooses a life of crime. Both times the lead character is captured and set to hang are comical and ironic, as if saying Death won’t be cheated by death. His final scene is the last real laugh we get in the movie.

As is common for the Coen brothers, there’s no attempt to ease in to a drastically changing mood. From beginning to end, Meal Ticket makes us feel melancholy and turns it up near the end of the third story. The only temporary relief is seeing an orange chicken mesmerizing a simple-minded crowd with its ability to do basic math on command, a not-so-subtle allusion to President Trump and his adoring fans.

The star of the anthology is the fourth story, All Gold Canyon, as Tom Waits delivers on multiple connections. He touches nature as both an intruder and its defender. He talks to his goal, “Mr Pocket,” like a friend about to deliver the good news of riches heading his way. The best line of the movie comes out in a dialogue between Waits and the pocket of gold when he says, “I’m old, but you’re older.” All of this combines for a deep connection we’re able to feel with his character. We may like or dislike other characters, but we actually connect with this one. Any of the stories could be fleshed out to be a standalone film, but this one would probably yield the best one.

The fifth story, The Gal Who Got Rattled, is another one that could easily expand. It made me think someone could make an interesting series about life on the Oregon Trail that followed the guides back and forth in their exciting journeys. Instead, we get a glimpse at the trail, another glimpse of irony surrounding an annoying dog that survives both of its masters, and then a fleeting glimpse of real action as Grainger Hines fearlessly takes on a group of Commanche who want his scalp and the young lady he’s protecting.

The Mortal Remains rounds out the movie. It’s the only story that doesn’t end in death, though it’s predicated by death; two of the five characters in this story are bounty hunters with the body of their most recent prey strapped to the top of the carriage they’re riding.

There are different interpretations for this segment of the movie. Some say the self proclaimed “reapers” are taking the souls of the other three passengers to their resting place. This theory lends to the apprehension and dread they demonstrate when they finally get there. Others say they simply fear that death may come to them soon, which is why they hesitate to enter the hotel. I lean towards the first interpretation. The three in the carriage with the bounty hunters/reapers died normally while the body on the roof had to be hunted down, which is why he has to be carried to his final resting place instead of walking there like the other three.

Who knows? The Coens.

The stories in this movie were accumulated over 25 years. It’s very possible that there is a much deeper underlying meaning to all of this that the Coens may or may not ever reveal. It could be personal, like their own private joke about Hollywood; watching Meal Ticket definitely lends itself to the notion that the highest level of art can’t be as popular as a counting chicken. There may be nothing to it at all. The Coens know, and unless they’re changing their style, they aren’t telling us their secrets.

An uncanny number of reviews I read noted a variation of the idea that the whole was less than the sum of the parts.

The bottom line: Lots of people loved this movie for everything the Coen brothers bring to the table. Some, like me, hated it because it’s six stories that individually could have been great but compressing them into one movie didn’t do them justice.

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