Could an Amy Klobuchar Solve Democrats’ Dilemma?

They seek a presidential candidate who appeals to both their liberal coastal base and to Midwestern working- and middle-class voters

When asked recently who Republicans should fear most in the 2020 presidential campaign, two prominent GOP figures, both women speaking independently of each other, gave the same response: Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

A third Republican, a male, asked which kind of candidate Democrats should want, replied: “They need a boring white guy from the Midwest.”

So, there you have it: The dream ticket of Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Case closed, cancel the primaries, on to the general election.

So if all that creates an opportunity for Democrats in 2020, here’s their dilemma: Can they pick a candidate who can blend the party’s conflicting impulses?

This may seem a long ways off, but the reality is that most Democrats thinking of running for president—and the number probably runs into the 20s—plan to make their decision over the next several weeks, so they can move out starting in early 2019.

As this drama begins, the key question is whether the party will find somebody who appeals both to its coastal base dominated by progressives, upscale college graduates, millennials and minorities, or choose someone who is more appealing to traditional working- and middle-class voters in industrial Midwest states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, all of which helped Democrats reclaim the House in this year’s mid-term elections.

.. The winning lottery ticket, of course, goes to somebody who can appeal to both. And that’s why Ms. Klobuchar’s name—and profile—attract attention. She’s a woman, obviously, which is important at a time when newly energized women are a growing force within the party. She pleased her party base in the hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh when she challenged him about his use of alcohol, but did so in a sufficiently calm and understated manner that she won an apology from Mr. Kavanaugh after he initially responded angrily.

.. She also won re-election this year with more than 60% of the vote in the one state Trump forces lost in 2016 but think they have a legitimate chance to flip their way in 2020.

.. The question is whether she or anyone can put together a policy agenda that pleases both party liberals, who are pushing for

  1. a Medicare-for-all health system,
  2. the demise of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement system and an
  3. aggressive new climate-change action plan, and more moderate Midwestern voters, who may be scared off by all of those things.

Ms. Klobuchar’s policy priorities may suggest a path. To address health care, the top priority of Democratic voters, she advocates a step-by-step approach, one that seeks to

  • drive down prescription drug costs by opening the door to less-expensive drugs from Canada,
  • protect and improve the Affordable Care Act, and
  • expand health coverage by considering such steps as allowing more Americans to buy into the Medicare system.

.. She’s talked of a push to improve American infrastructure that would include expanding rural Americans’ access to broadband service, paying for it by rolling back some—though not all—of the tax cuts Republicans passed last year. She pushes for more vigorous antitrust enforcement, more protections for privacy and steps to curb undisclosed money in politics

.. For his part, Sen. Brown, a liberal who this year won Ohio as it otherwise drifts Republican, offers a working-class-friendly agenda that combines progressive impulses for government activism to drive up wages with Trumpian skepticism about trade deals and corporate outsourcing.

 

 

 

 

 

What Cain and Abel Tell Us About the War Between Priebus and Scaramucci

Scaramucci’s off-the-cuff biblical reference is full of interpretive possibilities.

Given the widely reported tensions between the two emerging West Wing rivals, most commentators quickly pointed out that Scaramucci’s Old Testament reference looks like a pretty direct threat to his “brother”: After all, in Genesis, Cain kills Abel.

.. But it’s not really a great analogy for him, either. This isn’t a story about crime and punishment, where Abel gets what’s coming to him. It’s a story about entirely unjustified premeditated murder.

.. It’s hard to imagine that Scaramucci wouldn’t similarly be viewed by some in the White House and the Republican Party as a hatchetman if Priebus gets the ax. In getting rid of one enemy, you often make many others.

.. One place where the parallel with the biblical story is pretty apt, though, is in the rationale for Cain’s murder of Abel: jealousy.

.. Scaramucci’s original grievance with Priebus, even before the leaks, was reportedly that Priebus had contrived to keep Scaramucci out of the White House. The root cause of both the biblical story and the drama in the administration is basically the same: Favoritism is fickle.

.. “I’m more of a front-stabbing person.” When Cain kills Abel, he never verbalizes his anger, which is why Abel never sees it coming. Priebus has gotten more warning than Abel ever did—so he might be smart enough not to go out into the field with his brother, and find himself on the wrong end of the knife.

.. Abel, by contrast, is virtually a ghost. His name in Hebrew even means “nothingness.” He never speaks, he never communicates with God, he never makes a choice. He’s there only to die, which he dutifully does. In this media-driven society, lots of people have made the basic reckoning that fame, even if it’s infamy, beats being ignored. Scaramucci is, if nothing else, savvy about the power of the media.

.. If Scaramucci sees himself as Abel, then he could have in mind that Priebus had tried to kill his earlier attempts to join the administration. Even better is the punishment that Cain has to endure: He is not sentenced to death for killing Abel, but is doomed to wander the earth, friendless. That sounds a lot like what Scaramucci might want for Priebus: banished from the Oval Office, stripped of his influence and forced to roam the sets of whatever cable news shows will take him in.

.. The Cain and Abel story is almost always read, with justification, as a statement about the corrupting influence of jealousy on the human heart, and on the power of sin to overtake our intentions.

.. Biblical scholars have also often pointed to this story as a depiction of an early conflict between pastoralists like Abel—that is, shepherds—and agriculturalists like Cain, which is to say, farmers. So too the Scaramucci/Priebus drama is really about something bigger: The conflict between traditional Republican politics and the new Trumpian attitude. It could also represent the clash of styles between Priebus’ aw-shucks Midwesternism and Scaramucci’s New York brashness

 

Is It So Bad if the World Gets a Little Hotter? Uh, Yeah.

If humanity burns through all its fossil fuel reserves, there is the potential to warm the planet by perhaps more than 10 degrees Celsius and raise sea levels by hundreds of feet.

This is a warming spike comparable in magnitude to that so far measured for the End-Permian mass extinction.

.. The last time it was 4 degrees warmer there was no ice at either pole and sea level was hundreds of feet higher than it is today.

.. in the coming centuries it’s not impossible that we might be headed back to the Eocene climate of 50 million years ago, when there were Alaskan palm trees and alligators splashed in the Arctic Circle.

.. “Lizards will be fine, birds will be fine,”

.. Huber says that, mass extinction or not, it’s our tenuous reliance on an aging and inadequate infrastructure—perhaps, most ominously, on power grids—coupled with the limits of human physiology that may well bring down our world.

.. “The problem is that humans can’t even handle a hot week today without the power grid failing on a regular basis,” he said, noting that the aging patchwork power grid in the United States is built with components that are allowed to languish for more than a century before being replaced.

.. By the year 2050, according to a 2014 MIT study, there will also be 5 billion people living in water-stressed areas.

.. “Thirty to fifty years from now, more or less, the water wars are going to start,” Huber said

.. “None of the economists are modeling what happens to a country’s GDP if 10 percent of the population is refugees sitting in refugee camps.

.. If people don’t have economic hope and they’re displaced, they tend to get mad and blow things up. It’s the kind of world in which the major institutions, including nations as a whole, have their existence threatened by mass migration.

.. Huber calculated their temperature thresholds using the so-called wet-bulb temperature, which basically measures how much you can cool off at a given temperature. If humidity is high, for instance, things like sweat and wind are less effective at cooling you down, and the wet-bulb temperature accounts for this.

.. Wet-bulb temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius or higher are lethal to humanity.

.. Above this limit, it is impossible for humans to dissipate the heat they generate indefinitely and they die of overheating in a matter of hours, no matter how hard they try to cool off.

.. 7 degrees Celsius of warming would begin to render large parts of the globe lethally hot to mammals.

.. truly huge swaths of the planet currently inhabited by humans would exceed 35 degrees Celsius wet-bulb temperatures and would have to be abandoned.

.. “In the near term—2050 or 2070—the Midwest United States is going to be one of the hardest hit,” said Huber. “There’s a plume of warm, moist air that heads up through the central interior of the US during just the right season, and man, is it hot and sticky. You just add a couple of degrees and it gets really hot and sticky.

.. the Hajj, which brings 2 million religious pilgrims to Mecca each year, will be a physically impossible religious obligation to fulfill due to the limits of heat stress in the region in just a few decades.

.. “You want to know how societies collapse?” Huber said.

“That’s how.”