Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
⇒Linked articles in bold purple
◆ The Democratic Party missed a bullet by saying “no” to Keith Ellison. That Tom Perez is considered a centrist, establishment figure tells you how far left the party has shifted under Obama.
The Washington Post has a piece on why Ellison lost, but, unfortunately, it is biased and incomplete. The piece, written by David Weigel, cites these elements:
- Former Pres. Obama’s support for Perez and the party’s unwillingness to depart from Obama’s legacy
- Perez’ success in minimizing the ideological space between him and Ellison
- Common opposition to Trump lessened Democrats’ internal differences
- A “persistent smear campaign cost Ellison votes”
In the final days of the campaign, Ellison’s harshest critics — including Alan Dershowitz, who donates to Democrats but is not particularly involved in the party — reemerged to smear the congressman’s record on Jewish issues. The National Jewish Congress put out fresh criticisms of Ellison, which Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), an Ellison supporter, publicly disputed. –David Weigel in the Washington Post
Comment: Weigel’s characterization of attacks on Ellison as a “smear campaign” is a good example of why the Post is accused of serious political bias. It richly deserves the characterization.
Even if you accept Ellison’s word that he has broken completely with Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, Ellison’s public record of anti-Semitic statements was bound to create problems. So was his record of harshly anti-Israeli rhetoric. Those may not matter in his Congressional district, but they would matter nationally.
Second, if the job of the DNC chair is to recruit strong local candidates and raise money for them–and that is exactly what the job is–then a candidate with Ellison’s background and record, plus his association with Bernie Sanders would be a death knell in many swing states. That’s why every Republican wanted him to win. Everyone. That’s why Republicans will point out that Ellison is now “Vice Chair” of the party. It is an honorific post, to be sure, but the Democrats have given it to someone who deserves no honor.
Perez does have one advantage as incoming chair. No matter how bad he is, he can’t be worse than Debbie Wasserman Schultz or Donna “Here are the secret questions, Hillary” Brazile. They are the face of entrenched Washington insider backscratching.
◆ Millennials having troubling getting into the housing market. When they are “ready to buy a home, the pickings are slim” (Washington Post/Chicago Tribune)
Overall millennials are falling behind other generations in homeownership, with first-time home buyers, who usually consist of 40 percent of the market, stuck at 34 percent.
That could become damaging to this generation’s future prosperity. Housing experts say homeownership remains one of the primary ways for the middle class to build wealth, despite the ups and downs of the past decade. And with mortgage rates beginning to creep up, millennials who have to wait to buy could miss out on historically low rates. –Chicago Tribune
Comment: There are building cranes all over downtown Chicago, erecting housing. Almost all of it is rental, I’m told.
◆ Good news on millennials’ economic fortunes The same article reports that many more are now in the workforce and that their wages are up sharply. Very good news, indeed.
As the economy has improved, so have millennials’ fortunes.
The most recent employment data shows that the percentage of 25-to-34-year-olds in the labor force is the largest in eight years. This group has also recently begun to enjoy stark wage gains. Recent census data showed that in 2015, millennials’ incomes jumped 7 percent, far more than most other groups’.
In a stronger financial position, more millennials are starting families. The census projects that household formation will average about 1.5 million per year through 2020, up from the 900,000 annual average in the past five years.
◆ The high cost of higher minimum wages: Wendy’s plans self-ordering kiosks at 1,000 locations by year-end (WHIO)
Comment: This is not rocket-science: labor-saving devices are more attractive when wages are high.
The substitution of computers, artificial intelligence, and robotics will happen inexorably for low-skill jobs (and increasingly for cognitively-difficult jobs). Raising wages artificially only speeds the process. The biggest losers are those who need low-wage jobs the most. Those are people just starting out who lack other marketable skills and need to prove their competence and reliability so they can move up the wage scale.
◆ Ted Lowi has died. He was one of the most important scholars of American politics in the mid-20th century. (New York Times) Originally from Gadsden, Alabama, he was a professor at Cornell for many years.
Comment: Ted was part of the Marks family, which founded my hometown in Mississippi.