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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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What Are Your National Stories of the Year, 2014?

Uploaded: Jan 7, 2014
Now that the weirdly long, drawn-out Holiday season is past, do we dare we look into the murky new year's crystal ball? Of course we do! Which tales will be the tops in 2014 when we revisit this post in December? Take a shot at your Top Three from this list – and add your own write-ins. There may be prizes for the best prognostications – although it may be difficult to award them to alter-egos. Anonymity has its privileges, and also some costs – anyway, we have all year to figure it out.

So, here are some candidates for top stories, in no particular order. We'll do national issues this time, and international, state and hardy perennial stories later in the week.

* -- immigration reform passes/fails: much has been made of the GOP's need to attract Hispanic voters, who make-up a growing, identifiable political bloc (that will nearly double to 40M by 2030). Immigration is a significant issue for them, although it's easy to oversimplify the interests of a community more diverse than some gringos might suspect (in fact, that issue ranks fifth among Latino voters: education's number one). Texan George W. Bush attracted 44% in 2004, whereas Mr. Romney garnered a much lower percentage (27%) of a larger number last time around.

That news has reached the Senate, which passed a pragmatic bi-partisan compromise in 2013. That bill has languished in the news-immune House, but Speaker Boehner has signaled some interest. It IS an election year, after all.

I believe it will happen, piecemeal and painfully. That said, it's too little, too late for the GOP – especially when combined with strenuous state and local GOP efforts to restrict voting, in the flimsy guise of fraud avoidance. Most folks can differentiate window-dressing from commitment.

* -- systemic inequity issue gains traction: the Dems have been suckered into adopting the unfriendly term "income inequality" to define the problems of middle class malaise, wage stagnation, a stale economy, deindustrialization, etc. No one is calling for equality of incomes, which is a dog-whistle for dreaded socialism (and an 'out'come, anyway). What is sought is a rebalancing of the domestic table that is now slanted toward the most fortunate – inequitably and unsustainably.

With even the Pope is calling for some reform, this issue will get attention. If the feds conclude that they can address it by simply throwing a minimum wage bone to the rabble, however, a huge opportunity to invest in a better future for all our progeny will have been missed.

* -- the Dems/GOP take the House/Senate: the midterm election outcomes will be significant in their own right, and color everything else. This season's electoral Sweeps will have two stages, with pitched Primary battles for the Republican Party's soul, followed by the general elections. The TeaPers handed the Dems a huge favor by driving their ill-considered government shutdown – which those fair-minded Dems promptly returned by bolloxing-up the ACA roll-out.

* -- speaking of which, ObamaCare will remain in the news. Sign-ups, by pace and age distribution, will continue to make news, but when the sky fails to fall, resistance is likely to recede. Perhaps then the society can come to focus on the other major problem with medicine (besides access to it): its co$t. The unholy alliance of providers and insurers to keep pricing information away from patients and corporate payors, unnaturally inflates treatment costs, often several-fold. It will begin to crumble, as corporate America begins to focus, and get creative with it.

* -- A definitive same-sex marriage ruling? I'm guessing this is a 2015 issue, based on timing. Utah's case will be argued at the intermediate appeal level in March or April, leaving too little time before the SCOTUS goes on hiatus in June. Given the bob-n-weave routines of these Supremes on the issue (you can't hurry love, after all), the budding political consensus in favor of S-SM may actually work against it. If enough states are trending rational on this issue via the political process, the Justices may conclude that they can duck the important Constitutional mandate. BTW, does anybody else despise the acronym SCOTUS? To my ear, it manages to sound both pretentious and vaguely carnal.

* -- Secrecy/Security/Spying/Snowden: revelations about the excesses of unfettered secret NSA processes will continue, as will the debate about whether they even make us safer. The NY Times recently called-for an amnesty for whistleblower Snowden. While that seems unlikely, pressure for some manner of compromise regarding his status will build, assuming his leaks continue, and continue to be credible. Those who question hisbona fides, and his manly bits, based on his preference to bargain his fate from beyond the jurisdiction have never contemplated the terrible risks he's taken by bearding the might-and-majesty of the federal government lion, in its den.

How'd I do? What are your domestic issues for the new year?

Next time: Global, State-wide and Hardy Perennial issues.

Comments

Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Jan 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm

So many great topics. I'll comment just on two for now.

Tom says "Income Inequality" sounds too much like Socialism, so Democrats need a more "friendly" term to trick people into allowing the government to raise taxes even higher and waste it on welfare programs that don't work and actually make things worse.

Here's an idea: How about calling it stealing?

Or better yet, why not take the government out of the equation? If poor people see someone with money, why not just go over and take it? No government overhead. No messy tax code changes. Wouldn't that be easier? Problem solved.

And why are Republicans against immigrants? Immigrants work hard for CHEAP! Republicans represent rich business owners. Don't they want cheap workers to exploit? I've never understood how Democrats (supposedly the party of Labor) is pro-immigration. Doesn't cheap immigrant labor undermine labor unions?

I look forward to another great year of Tom eloquently instructing everyone on the important lessons of liberalism. Ha ha.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 10:07 am

Lakotah is an interesting continuing saga of GENOCIDE:

Web Link


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Death Row Inmate Kills PREGNANT WOMAN WANTS CLEMENCY:

Web Link

EXECUTE HIM...i rest my case...tee hee

There should NEVER be mercy for anybody that kills innocent people.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 8:28 am

Poor Tom. No one has anything to say. Well, at least you got Cholo.

If you run out of topics, you might try sharing with us some of your poetry. Oh, right. You already did that. Well, at least you haven't subjected us to a discussion of your porn habits. Oh yeah, you did. Well, at least we haven't had to listen to you rambling on about childhood issues with your mother. Or bore us with your dreams.

I may regret this, but I will throw you a few bones.

Will international efforts to combat climate change work, given Europe's carbon market collapse, Australia's plan to abandon its carbon market, and the fact that China and India's carbon output is growing exponentially? Or will it merely be an economic drag on the U.S. economy, particularly California? What can be done to make it work? What are the alternatives, if any?

All other countries are cutting their corporate tax rates. What will happen to U.S. companies and the U.S. economy if doesn't join in the race to the bottom? Will the OECD's BEPS action plan succeed? If not, what is the best way for the U.S. to respond to this crisis?

What, if anything, should be done about white privilege?

Remember when Democrats helped pass NAFTA? Any regrets? Has globalization's impact on U.S. jobs and economy been a net positive or negative?

Why are Democrats divided about fracking? What are the real agendas behind those who are spreading misinformation, both pro and con?

Has the student loan program been a success or a flop? What impact does the program have on college tuition costs? Is there a better way to fund college education that is fiscally reasonable and responsible? What, if anything, can be done about college graduates drowning in debt?

Can women "have it all?" What impact does it have on the U.S. economy when they don't? Do women succeed at the expense of men? Can it be a win-win for both men and women? What steps can Americans take to ensure everyone reaches their full potential?

Why does it cost three times as much to build and maintain California freeways than it does to build and maintain freeways in other parts of the U.S.? What impact does this have on the U.S. economy? Are courts being abused by small groups in an effort to slow down freeway expansion? Should any changes be made to the legal process and environmental reviews?

There are 2,100 naturally occurring oil seeps off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Every four years they emit the same amount of oil that was spilled by the Exxon Valdez. This area contains 2 to 4 billion barrels of oil. Should we let it keep leaking year after year, spoiling the beaches and killing wildlife? Should oil companies be allowed to remove it, generating billions in oil revenue for the state and federal government, creating good paying California jobs as a side benefit? Or are the risks of development too great?


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 10:38 am

NOBODY in the USA can ever reach their potential because success is limited to "whites"...i rest my case

In case you haven't heard about how discrimination works...have you ever heard of genocide, sexism, racism, screw the disabled?

Killing wildlife? As if you care. A cute essay. Yup...the risks of development are too great.

STUDENT LOANS...JUST DON'T PAY BACK!

As for China and India...most folks are poor, live in slums, and die before 60.

What's so bad about the race to the bottom if people live longer and the wealth is more evenly distributed?

I'm quite curious how most Plutonians feel living with others who are perceived as undesirably different...your new neighbors! Your elitist enclave will eventually be chopped up.

You're the reason a Republican agenda will always fail. The "Rainbow Coalition" is here to stay. If you're unhappy with that, go back to where your ancestors came from - AFRICA!

yup...fess up...humans came from Mother Africa! HOORAY!


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Exxon made huge bucks dropping off its junk in Alaska...duh...

Signed,

Valdez


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