Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So Now What?

On the morning after the President signed an executive order allowing those who were brought to the US illegally as children could earn temporary amnesty, I found myself in line at the Dallas Airport. As the news was broadcast on CNN, the white Texas couple in front of me scoffed at the thought that illegals wanting to steal jobs would qualify for "a free ride."

The Hispanic family behind me, on the other hand, was quietly delighted, and began texting friends.

Anecdotes don't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but if there's one thing that seems clear now is that the President and Senate Democrats have the high strategic territory as it relates to re-introducing the DREAM Act. If we consider that the Hispanic voting bloc is currently resoundingly anti-Republican, their continued obstructionism in the form of ludicrous suggestions like self deportation only causes more harm, and a pretty face and bilingual stump speeches aren't going to address that. If a Democratic President and a Democratic Senate pass the DREAM Act, an argument can be made that it solidifies the Democratic Party's stronghold on that demographic for a generation.

It is in the best interests of the GOP, then, find a way to reach a high profile compromise that grants amnesty to those who are in the country illegally. This removes the issue from the table, ultimately and frees the parties to address the Hispanic demographic on different ground.

Changing Attitudes and the Ascent of Millenials
Now seems to be a good time to talk about social attitudes. If you pose the question of Gay Marriage to a Millenial, the general answer you'll get is "it doesn't impact me, so what do I care?"

As Baby Boomers and aging evangelicals continue to shuffle off this mortal coil, they are replaced by Millenials that have increasingly Libertarian attitudes on social issues, including birth control and abortion, which are viewed through the prism of individual choice. This bodes well for those who are traditionally persecuted and scapegoated by Republicans. In particular, those states that have anti-gay marriage laws in place will slowly start to see them overturned, provided a Court doesn't wise up and find them in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. It also bodes well for Democrats who, aside from a few notable exceptions aim squarely in the wheelhouse of people with these attitudes. A Republican Party that preaches an overtly faith based message is preaching to a shrinking choir.

Don't assume, however, that Millenials have equally liberal attitudes about taxation and economics. Millenials, particularly the younger half of this generation, have somewhat conservative attitudes on economics, which leave them just as vulnerable to the "for me, but not for thee" economic policies that Republicans increasingly clumsily overtly espouse. The student loan reform bill directly benefits this generation as does credit card reform. Future Democratic politicians will need to find similar types of consumer and economic type reforms to appeal to this demographic.

Toward the Future
What we've seen clearly is that Tea Party Politics has a clear ceiling. In a Gerrymandered Congressional environment with predominately Republican districts, Congressional candidates can, for a time, continue to leverage the rural white portions of their districts to win races, barring a 2006 type wave, for the remainder of the decade.

However, outside of the states that are currently Red, Republican candidates that adopt this platform will continue to lose at the Senate level. The Rural/Urban composition of most Blue and Purple states will see to it that a nut like Tom Smith in Pennsylvania isn't take seriously. And a Presidential Tea Partyesque candidate isn't feasible either.

The next immediate Senate hurdle is 2014. While there is cause for concern, the map does not appear to be as bleak for the Democrats as it was, say, the day before yesterday.

2014 will underscore how much progress the Democratic Party makes in addressing a chronic problem; keeping an engaged electorate enthused enough to rollback the gains made by Republicans in 2010. Certainly there is an outstanding party apparatus in place, but the Party has struggled to utilize that infrastructure to effectively market the Party beyond the President. This advantage, which was such a disadvantage in 2004, is something upon which the Party must leverage more effectively.

So what is the early line on the future of the top of the Democratic ticket? Immediately people speculate that Hillary Clinton, who will not return as Secretary of State, will contemplate a run. Joe Biden has dropped hints that he's interested in running yet again. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley will certainly consider runs.  One name to remember, somewhere on the ticket, is Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who won re-election in a state that is red and getting redder.

Thinking strategically, while the Democratic Party has a deep collection of African Americans, the pool of prominent Hispanics is not deep beyond the local level. To that end, if you'd ask me for an ideal ticket, it would consist of Hillary Clinton and a prominent African American politician such as Patrick or, in an age in which our population is becoming increasingly urban, Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

But it's a long way from here to there, and four years is an eternity in politics.

About Last Night (or, Electoral Perversity in Chicago)

So, how was your evening? Anything interesting happen last night? Anything good on television?

All kidding aside, let me indulge in a moment of horn blowing and take a victory lap. Go ahead and re-read this and be sure to click the last link. I'll wait.

Why, oh why, did I not play the lottery that day instead?

Where were we? Oh yes. A whole heap of good news awaited those of us who were willing to stay up into the wee hours of the morning as President Obama relatively comfortably earned a second term in office as President of the United States. In addition, the Democratic Party picked up Senate seats in Indiana, North Dakota(!), Connecticut and Wisconsin.

At long last, the arc of the universe finally bent toward justice, with Gay Marriage rights affirmed in Maine (again), Washington and Maryland, with an additional referendum voted down in Minnesota. Marijuana legalization proposals were approved in Washington and Colorado, though the degree to which those have any legal standing relative to federal laws is subject to additional debate.

Beyond that, additional progress was made when Tammy Baldwin won the Senate race in Wisconsin to become the first openly gay Senator. Last night's election ensured that New Hampshire's Governor and entire Congressional delegation would be female, a first.

Amongst the good news is some bad. Though the Democrats gained some seats in the House, unfortunately the Gerrymandering that occurred in the wake of a disastrous 2010 midterm election wave saw to it that the House stayed in Republican hands. Also, Toledo lost at home to Ball State in football and will likely fall out of the Top 25 as a result. But no one wins all the time.

 Grand Old (White) Party

There is a substantial amount of Wednesday Morning Quarterbacking material available that attempts to cut to the heart of the reasons behind the Republicans losing a Presidential race despite a lackluster economy, and failing to capitalize on an opportunity to seize control of Congress entirely. It's a large body of work, analyzed with more depth than I can do justice, but I'll try and touch upon some things that aren't so obvious and move on.

Much is made that the vast majority of African Americans vote Democratic. However, 88% of the Romney/Ryan ticket was white. That is no longer acceptable in a nation as diverse as the United States is. It was stated (in The Atlantic but sadly I can't find the article) that this was the last time a campaign micro targeted to a white suburban/exurban/rural audience could be tried at a national level, and that was proven true. The traditional coalition of white evangelicals, suburban/rural folks and the elderly cracked and sputtered to a halt in the face of changing demographics.

If the thought hasn't occurred to you already, it should: Romney/Ryan will be the last white male ticket you will see from the two major parties in your lifetime.

But to state "it's not the message, it's the medium", and to think that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz making speeches about the federal deficit and creeping socialism is going to make these races competitive again is a fools errand. The GOP needs to do some serious soul searching as it relates to casting off the evangelical yoke and ridding itself of the Grover Norquists of the world, or the marginalization will proceed apace, though slower than we progressives would like.

If it wasn't obvious already, the GOP has reached the point where the inmates are running the asylum. Referendums that scapegoated gays and Hispanics (2004 and 2006) ultimately led to widespread voter revolt. Even George W Bush, for all of his unending faults, tried desperately through the first six years of his terms in office trying to reach a reasonable compromise on the landed immigrant issue. He understood that, to some extent, demography is destiny, and if you don't reach out to Hispanics they will desert you en masse. Human Rights issues aren't single issues, they are economic, personal, and they cut across every other issue that impacts people's lives.

The Evangelical yoke runs counter to the emerging point of view of Millennials in particular. Public opposition to birth control, reproductive rights and equal pay offend not only younger women but they cut directly across an important Millennial trend that I'll discuss in another article. Regardless, the party's desire to impose Messianic Law on the majority of the population has reached its expiry date.

On The Plus Side

I would talk about what the President accomplished at this point, but if you're hitting this website, you're pretty familiar with those accomplishments already. The good news is that Obamacare is here to stay, with the resulting assurances that, no matter how flawed it may be, people no longer have to die because they can't afford healthcare, or go bankrupt in the event they become seriously ill. With a Democratic Senate, we  are also likely to get Filibuster Reform, and Medicaid and Medicare will continue to exist in a feasible form.

So now that we know where we are, how do we figure out where we're going?

Yay! Obama wins!

Need I say more?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Taliban is just plain evil...

I am saddened at the shooting of Malala Yousufzai. She was a brave soul that pointed out the evil that infiltrates the Taliban. Rather then looking into themselves to see what is wrong with their extremist religious doctrine, they went out to silence those who oppose them.

It is the decency of humanity to allow all freedoms for all people. Including education for girls. By denying education for your female population, you are instilling the ignorant policies that have plagued the Taliban for years. That is why the Taliban is just plain evil.

How can you act in the favor of God and belittle half of the population at the same time? But in a larger context, this sounds like conversation here in the United Sates too. The Religious right hates gays, hates us liberals, hates Muslims, hates a females right to choose and want to force Christianity down our throats. I see them just as evil as the Taliban.

God does not hate. Love thy neighbor. Embrace our differences. That is the only society moves forward. Have decent respect for your fellow human being. We can disagree, yes, but we should not or ever not force a Religious doctrine on anybody. You Religion is what YOU follow. My beliefs are mine. And you can not change that...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Talk about love?

So Ann Romney's speech last night at The Republican National Convention was about love, "love for those (fellow) Americans, out brothers and our sisters, who are going through difficult times, whose days are never easy, nights are always long, and whose work never seems done." Yes, that speech last night. Okay Mrs. Romney. Which brothers and sisters were you talking about? Which fellow Americans? Because the Republicans are the party of hate! Yes, hate...

You hate gay marriage and gay adoption. You hate Latinos here and here. You hate books and critical thinking. You hate education. You hate Muslim Americans. You hate the President. Hell, you even hate us Liberals. You think abortion is evil but will not fund child after they are born.

So, Mrs, Romeny, which Americans were you talking about? Only your Tea Party nation? Angry white dudes? Because your party pretty much excludes everyone else...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It's a freedom of speech thing Mr. Putin...

Okay. I am here to defend the band Pussy Riot and their protest of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church on Februray 21, 2012. Three members of the band have been subsequently arrested and convicted of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in prison for the act recorded here. As an artist and progressive myself, I have serious objections to this trial and subsequent punishment. It oppresses free speech. It oppresses the right to protest, to disagree. So, Mr. Putin, please free Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevitch, the band members of Pussy Riot that were not given a fait trail. Not given any time to prepare for the crimes in which they were charged. Were kepst in captivity since that February act without any contact to the outside world (including their family). FREE PUSSY RIOT TODAY!! 

Monday, July 30, 2012

What is Mitt the Twit hiding?

Why is Mitt Romney instant on only releasing a couple years of tax returns? What is Mitt the Twit hiding? Are you ready for this? Because if you are, it would make all of us tax paying citizens angry! Check out a theory here.  Chris Kelly posted on the Huffington Post back in January what Mitt may be hiding. Mr. Daniel Cormartie and myself were talking about this yesterday evening!

In 2008, he did not pay a 35% tax rate. No. He did not pay a 15% tax rate. No. Mitt Romney paid NO taxes in 2008. Buy spending $45 million in his unsuccessful presidential elections campaign by liquidating his rapidly declining stocks of 2008 (as a political contribution). So in theory, he was at a loss for income in 2008. (Even though he is a multi-millionaire, no income, no taxes.) It's a good theory. And if this bombshell is let out (I sure hope it does). It would make you and I agree to be angry that such a multi-millionaire can skip taxes for a year. And I sure hope it sinks his bid to be president.

Mitt the Twit...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Time to buy Oreo Cookies!

One Million Moms spewed out more hate this week. A group that claims to be "the most powerful tool you have to stand against the immorality, violence, vulgarity and profanity". Well, I guess you can be bigoted in that fight. That is okay. Hate you neighbor because they are gay. Well, they are at it again... boycotting Oreo Cookies for their Gay Pride ad they paced on Facebook. Well, good for me! I LOVE Oreo Cookies! I bought a couple more packages today. Out of spite! Take that you hate mongering One Millions Moms! I know of One Million More Moms that would not hate as you do...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Interesting comment...

Okay. I was reading an artcile on NPR today. Lessons For Europe From 'The Second World War' And there was an insteresting comment for one of the readers.

warren ward (mtascp) wrote:
What WW II showed to the world was when moderates fail to act the extremist will fill the void. And given todays circumstances moderates have failed to act again. History can be like a bad movie that plays over and over again with no pause or delete option.

Exactly! Where are the moderates today? I think the Tea Party has killed off all moderation and well will we continue with this extremist policies from the right when we know what history tell us?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

John Boehner is is piece of work...

John Boehner is a piece of work. He states the President did not work with congress on the Immigration Reform. Well, um, yes he did. The Dream Act was passed in 2010 but was filibustered by the Republicans. So John Boehner... you are full of shit...

Friday, June 8, 2012

No Need to Panic in Wisconsin

The unfortunate results of Tuesday's recall elections in Wisconsin should give those of us on the left some significant cause to stop for a moment and think about the results, and to retrench our strategic thinking in the long term quest to win over the hearts and minds of the American public.

If you're here, you probably know the back story and are disappointed by the results. From the department of small victories comes the news that one Wisconsin Senator was recalled, and that body now resides in Democratic hands.

But we need to be honest here and admit that progressives in Wisconsin took the wrong tack. In an environment where only 30% of voters think a recall for non official misconduct is appropriate, running a recall of politicians, especially a sitting governor, for spearheading the passing of laws that negatively impacted only a portion of the population is not a solid strategic tack.

Yes, laws passed in Wisconsin adversely impacted the ability of public sector employees to collectively bargain. Yes, this negatively impacts this core Democratic (for the most part anyway) constituency. But, to be frank, a majority of voters don't care enough about this subset of the population to blow up what they view, rightly or wrongly, as a democratically elected majority. The typical, prudent response of the electorate is: run a better set of candidates next election cycle, with one exception.

While the moderate portion of the electorate, and it does exist, is willing to do is support ballot referendums, and this would have been the better tack to take than a full on recall. One need only look back one year at the successful overturning of Senate Bill 5 in Ohio to get the productive results opponents of what Walker and company were looking for.

Gray Davis not withstanding, and let's not undersell what Enron did  in California in 2002, people do not like recalling politicians. They insist on adherence to the election cycle, unless said politician is convicted of misconduct while in office and refuses to resign.

Besides, if you take the long view, Scott Walker is going to do jail time anyway.


Any number of pundits will tell you any number of things about which they know very little. Fundamentally, they ignore that all politics are local, and assume that the electorate sees the same en masse us versus them simplified view of politics as they do. So there are some notions being asserted that need to be dispelled.

The first is that the Walker recall is an indicator for what will happen in the fall. It isn't. Exit polling among voters still give the President a six to nine point edge in Wisconsin in the fall. He will still win the state handily.

The second is that this speaks to the power of dark money in elections. While I can't prove it, we'll once again rely on exit polling that states that over 90% of the Wisconsin electorate made up their mind on how to vote more than 30 days before the recall election took place. This left less than 10% of the electorate, at most, to be "influenced" by the influx of out of state money, and this group of people voted for the challenger by a 30% margin.

While it's easy to rail against Citizens United, someone should probably take a good, hard look at the degree of influence commercials really have on the electorate. Groups pour billions of dollars into the airing of these commercials, and by September it becomes a cacophony of noise that most people tune out. I would submit that if we come up with a study that can withstand economic vigor, influence groups using commercials really impact less than 3% of the electorate that doesn't already "lean" in one direction or another.

So take a deep breath and resume your per-convention vacations. The lesson in Wisconsin is one of a tactical nature, nothing more, nothing less. Local politics are local. Ballot referendums are a considerably better venue for correcting legislative injustices than recall attempts. Take the long view, and adjust accordingly.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Electoral Strategy of Transcending Bigotry

Well, this will occupy a news cycle or two.

Less than 24 hours after North Carolina became the 30th state to ban Gay Marriage, President Obama himself sat down with ABC's Robin Roberts to announce that he personally supports the practice.

And that is, unquestionably, the right, honorable and progressive thing to do. If you walk through life not being a bigot, it's also a very easy decision to make.

His framing of his new found support through the use of the Golden Rule is a positive as well, so long as you are a person of religion who is at least somewhat open minded about the interpretation of that particular aspect of any religious texts. It's called the Golden Rule for a reason;that reason being that it is the one rule that is common among every religious text. Even a Deist such as myself adheres to it.

That said, every decision, right or wrong, warrants examination to some degree through a political prism. Starting at the top line of the Presidential race, it absolutely distinguishes him from Mitt Romney who not only opposes Gay Marriage but he also opposes Civil Unions. In a country where a narrow majority of Americans appear to support Gay Marriage this is probably not a smart position to take. But no one ever accused Republicans of being smart.

So you could argue that, at a federal level, this is a nice example of a Democrat seizing the offense on a wedge issue that he's out in front of, and doing it fairly effectively. The fact that he's using the bully pulpit of the Presidency to take a civil rights stance is a courageous position to take, especially during the election year.

All of that said, remember that there are three layers to this issue, and all three are worth examining. There are people who support Gay Marriage, there are people who support Civil Unions but not Gay Marriage, and there are people who oppose the whole thing.

Those who oppose everything can easily be dismissed from the discussion, because they're Republicans (and bigots) who aren't winnable voters for Democrats barring some sort of traumatic national level event.

There are those who support Gay Marriage, and those voters tend to lean Democratic and are certainly abhorred by Mitt Romney's stance (provided he doesn't change it) on the issue. On some level, his continued consistent opposition to the issue in Massachusetts as governor more or less sealed his fate and encouraged him not to run for a second term as governor, an election he would have lost.

But the President chose to take a states rights tack in his statement today, and I don't think that was the proper tack to take. Tactically, that tack doesn't really impress anyone who isn't already in opposition. People on the fence relative to Gay Marriage aren't states right's advocates.

Instead, the group of people who support Civil Unions, or the type of people whom you could impress that could get you from 50% support to 70% support, are the ones who don't oppose Gay Marriage personally for Libertarian type reasons, but instead fear that their church will be compelled to marry Gay couples even though they are opposed to it.

The 2009 Maine law (unfortunately overturned by referendum) did a nice job of bridging this divide. While it legalized Marriage between people of the same sex, it explicitly did not compel people who had objections to do so. Now, personally, I would have limited the language in this law to people who conduct religious marriage ceremonies, rather than allowing a train conductor to refuse to wed two people of the same sex, but I think you get the idea.

What this middle group of people, and in a lot of areas, such as North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri and Florida, they are probably sizable enough to make up the difference between winning and losing, are in fear of is having their church be compelled to do something that, though they don't impose for reasons that it does not impact them personally,  does impact their church, their religious beliefs and the corresponding of infringing upon their religious freedom. The mistake the President made today was to not speak clearly to these people that he personally did not support their personal exercise of religious freedom being infringed upon.

What a person who supports a Civil Union but not Gay Marriage is really saying is "not in my church". Which is really, at least in my mind, a private matter anyway. You don't have to get married in a church, or have a marriage certificate signed by clergy to be legally married in your state anyway. Win over these people and this becomes a non-issue at the Presidential level. As it stands, the President's stand, as brave as it is and as right as it is, is a moral winner, but not necessarily an electoral one.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Electoral Maps: Where We Stand Today

Their are any number of electoral maps you can refer to when attempting to horse race the 2012 Presidential Election. A generally good starting point for how things look can be found here.

Their are a couple of things interesting about this map.

Arizona is listed as a toss up. I don't actually believe Arizona is a toss up or, rather, I'll believe it when I see it. While it's true that the state is filled largely with Tea Party crazies in the state legislature from top to bottom, and has a governor with what could best be described as a tenuous grip on reality, this is a state with a significant retiree population and, no matter how charming Tuscon and Flagstaff may be, they aren't going to overcome the rest of the state's rural, elderly nature.

That said, the fact that we even have to have this conversation about Arizona speaks volumes about how much self inflicted damage the Republican brand has done to itself in pursuit of the elderly white xenophobes that keep it in business outside of the south.

South Carolina is listed as a toss up. This is the guy the Democrats managed to put up against one of the biggest idiots in the Senate.  And We're supposed to think this state is contestable. Nope.

New Hampshire is listed as a toss up. Live Free or Die. Whatever. You might swing the state to the R column if they pick Kelly Ayotte as a VP candidate but, like the rest of New England, this will be a Democratic state in 2012.

Virginia is listed as a toss up. Virginia is interesting in a lot of ways. There may not be a state that represents the swing state dichotomy better than the difference between the relatively affluent, and liberal, suburbs of DC and Charlottsville versus the rest of the state. Obama is up by eight, in Virginia at the moment and I would expect that that lead would narrow but hold. The Senate race, with Tim Kaine taking on George 'Macaca' Allen, is the one to watch there.

Iowa is listed as a toss up. I've never bought this. Like Minnesota and Wisconsin, though the rural Republican contingent can turn out during off election cycles, an acceptable Democratic candidate should win all three of what I call the DFL states. 

If you'd have a moment, I'd recommend digging into this analysis of Iowa. Like Virginia, President Obama is up by eight points. His lead among women voters is 20 points. He has a significant lead among young voters. But PPP really buries the lead:

Obama's running basically even with Romney among seniors.

No. Really. Take a moment and think about that. The Republicans aren't even winning Seniors in Iowa. This should set off alarm bells everywhere, if you're a Republican.
Missouri, Indiana and North Carolina are what they are. I would expect that Missouri and Indiana would regress to the mean and vote Republican. The fact that Missouri and Indiana were even close is a testament to a turnout effort that, frankly, I don't think can be duplicated. What little polling we have on Clare McCaskill's Senate race in Missouri is not promsing.

 I don't honestly know what to make of North Carolina, but I would expect that the financial crisis caused enough job losses around Charlotte to cause the state to narrowly vote Republican this time around. The anti-gay rights bigots are out in full force today to approve Amendment One, so that's already a bad sign.

Florida is a toss up but, unlike in previous elections, not one the Democrats are likely to need to win, thanks to inroads made in the Mountain West and in Virginia. But if you'd like a glimpse of future voting trends in Florida, I'd direct you here for some great background on how Hispanic in migration into the I-4 corridor is swinging that state ever so slowly toward the Democrats.

There's still a long way to go. But baring a significant change, the contest you're being told is close, won't actually be close. In fact, it'll look a lot like this

Now, the Senate on the other hand.....

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem. - The Washington Post

Yes. The Republicans are the problem. They are the problem on why Washington can not get anything done. They are the problem why bipartisanship is gone. I'm glad that someone is actually calling them out on this. This is why we need to vote the Republicans out of office this November. Thanks for nothing Tea Party...

Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem. - The Washington Post:

'via Blog this'

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Political Scientist: Republicans Most Conservative They've Been In 100 Years : It's All Politics : NPR

Interesting. Something that I knew for some time but here is the proof. This is why I left the Republican party. Yes, I was a college Republican back in the day. A moderately liberal Republican. Something that the climate of the current GOP that doesn't allow today. That's why I left. And boy was it a trip to the left. I'm not just moderately liberal anymore. I've became hardcore liberal thanks to the polarization to the right. It's a cause and effect.

They are so right wing fringe that it is scary. Why are all the moderates gone? This chart show's you. The right wing has killed all moderation...

Political Scientist: Republicans Most Conservative They've Been In 100 Years : It's All Politics : NPR:

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How America will collapse (by 2025) - U.S. Economy -

Something that I found interesting in this article is towards the end. A bloated military budget and starving educational budget. Sounds familiar doesn't it? This kind of spending on the bloated military budget does not bode well for America's future...

How America will collapse (by 2025) - U.S. Economy -

'via Blog this'

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Wisconsin Assembly approves limiting reasons for recall -

What the Republican's are doing to stay in power although the tide has turned against them is simply amazing. From gerrymandering, to unconstitutional voter IDs laws and now this! Changing the rules on recall elections. 

How far can you go to suppress the votes of the PEOPLE? Absolutely disgusting!

Wisconsin Assembly approves limiting reasons for recall -

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I voted today...

Yes, I have voted today in Michigan's Republican primary tonight. But, unlike the robo calls, I could not select that religious nutball Rick Santorum. I know Obama has very good chance at beating Santorum in November but he is a nut case. A crazy Tea Party endorsed religious zealot that I could not stomach. I did not vote for Mitt Romney either. I mean, he is so far removed from Michigan (in his "let Detroit go bankrupt" quote) that he is NOT a Michigander anymore. I do not believe in Ron Paul or New Gingrich. So, I voted for Jon Huntsman and my conscience is clear. He was the only respectable candidate the field of nut cases. I'm sorry he dropped out of the race and it's a testament to how the Tea Party had raped the Republican party. So, if you see a vote from precinct 5 of Superior Township in Washtenaw County for Jon Huntsman, that is me!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fred Who? He's Republican, He's Gay, And He's Competing For Michigan Delegates : It's All Politics : NPR

Okay, Michigan's 8th Congressional District (which is the Lansing area), it's up to you. On Tuesday, vote for Fred Karger. I like seeing a moderate or maybe liberal Republican in the field. I think he has a good game plan on picking up delegates. As the Michigan primary goes, delegate are won by congressional districts. He is targeting only one, the 8th. Good luck Fred. We wish we vote for you. But maybe we can influence some other's vote...

Fred Who? He's Republican, He's Gay, And He's Competing For Michigan Delegates : It's All Politics : NPR:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Poor and Republican in Minnesota

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

This is called the Golden Rule. It is so called because it is the one rule that is common across all of the world's major religions. Even those of us who don't ascribe to any sort of religion understand this rule and tend to abide by it in our daily dealings. I would argue that it's the only rule you need to get you through life, really. Ok, there's the one about yellow snow.

(As a side note, if you're really curious in exploring the world's religion's in depth, but don't really care for the soul crushing boredom of actual religious texts, might I recommend this.)

Myself, along with many other liberals, center our politics around this principle. It's one thing to show concern for the fiscal state of the union, it's entirely another to undercut benefits to those who are in need, because it was/is/may someday be us. And when you impact others, you're impacting yourself.

There are several different types of liberalism, the type that addresses this principle aligns most closely with the Northeastern idea of noblesse oblique, that one has an obligation to help others. This tenet that is an offspring of Catholicism explains why so many Catholics are a certain type of liberal. There are others, with differing sources, but bear this in mind as this discussion segues into something entirely different.


One of the frequent conversations I have with others of a similar political persuasion is a continued befuddlement at how poor and lower middle class Republicans can justify being Republican in the face of the sustained, continuous economic damage the party and their policies continue to do to people in that particular demographic and income bracket.

To that end, the New York Times has answered that question, in spades, here. I would strongly encourage you to spend some quality time with this article, because it has done more than anything else written over the past few years to explain to it's audience why things are the way they are to a certain portion of our population.

There is a certain portion of the population that cannot extricate their religion, and the larger aims of the religious organization to which they belong, from Republican politics. This manifests itself in the candidacy of Rick Santorum, the Mormon followers of Mitt Romney, and the evangelical population that hung on to George W Bush for as long as they could.

But for the rest, there exists this idea of "for me but not for thee". This manifests itself in people who advocate benefits for their age group (current seniors) but are perfectly fine with future generations receiving fewer benefits than the ones awarded to them. They rationalize this by saying they don't want their children/grandchildren to inherit debt, but in reality, this still ultimately involves the "me". I should have mine at the expense of everyone who isn't like me. And I should control the future as well by ensuring you have less then so I can have more now. It's the worst kind of narcissism. Sometimes it's wrapped up in a bow with the phrase "God will provide."

Another recurring theme you'll find in the New York Times piece is the idea of resentment and self loathing. The central focus of the piece are people who accept federal benefits, blame others for their situation and then correspondingly vote for politicians that would phase those benefits out entirely. I'll leave the money quote of this article here for you to ponder:

They are frustrated that they need help, feel guilty for taking it and resent the government for providing it. They say they want less help for themselves; less help in caring for relatives; less assistance when they reach old age.

Acceptance of benefits for people who have bought into the myth of the American Dream, and have failed at it is a major blow to the pride. Some people react with an internal locus of control, others lash out at others in comically inept ways, as detailed here.

It is no secret that the Republican electoral base is becoming increasingly exurban and rural. It follows that people who fashion themselves as independent and who subscribe to the Scotch-Irish tradition of self reliance gravitate toward areas of lower population density as said density changes the world around them. It's also reasonable to conclude that a powerful and profitable message can be sent to people of this tradition by encouraging them to fear and be leery of people who are unlike them, and changes from historically acceptable patterns of thinking. This is a 60 year tradition of Republican politics, effective first in the South, and later put in a nice wrapper by Grandpa Reagan. (Or at least the modern version is. Reactionary politics goes back hundreds of years).

What we've seen more recently is a poorly marketed, ill timed type of logic that rings hollow with an increasing number of people. If we look at the changes in attitudes toward marijuana usage and gay marriage, we see an electorate that operates increasingly on a Golden Rule principle. Or, at the very least, a liberterian principle that says "it doesn't impact my life, so I don't really care" principle. And this is a positive thing. It serves as a foundational base upon which one can work in the Golden Rule to campaign on.

But back on topic, if we set aside the top 1%, who benefit economically from Republican policies, and we set aside the religious zealots, what we're left with is a group of people who essentially grew up in a world that had one strict set of standards, whose standards have gone wildly off the rails (or who have been marketed to believe so) and who react by attempting to reset the world to the way things "should be", where "should be" is defined as a state of order that benefits them the most. And the further the world spins away from that order, the more reactionary they become. And often times, their trendy children react by dropping out and adopting Libertarianism.

For an additional resource on the psychology of a Republican voter, I'd strongly recommend the most comprehensive research on authoritarian personality, available, for free, here.

And live the golden rule today. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dying Republicans at the Crossroads

I am normally suspicious of the glee that comes at pointing out declines in Republican primary voting. There are a number of people of the left, (Kos in particular) that bang the drum with glee over the lack of enthusiasm at the overall decline in voter turnout in these primaries, most often summarized under the guise of not really liking the choices put in front of them.

Why? The answer is entirely anecdotal, but the 2010 Kentucky Senate primary is illustrative of the irrelevance of these numbers. When comparing the vote turnout for the two party primaries, Democratic turnout topped Republican turnout by a margin of roughly 5:3. However Jack Conway was still defeated handily in the general election by Rand Paul by a margin of 7:5. Regardless of whether Republicans show up for the primary, they do tend to show up on election day.

This is the long way of saying that my suspicion of the relevance of primary data as any sort of main indicator of party health is robust. With that caveat, I found this article on the current state of the Republican primary voter to not be the least bit surprising.

Essentially, the demographic that the mainline Republican Party rode to power starting with Nixon in 1968 (white southern evangelicals) now essentially is the Republican Party at the federal level. Mainline, old guard conservatives have been phased out. Certainly, there is a component of the party that contains Libertarian elements, primarily the white male with some college education under 40 portion of the party, but the voters with actual influence fit this demographic analysis pretty nicely.

And, over the short term, you can make money off of those people pretty nicely. Certainly, they have a disproportionate attention in the media because it's easy to sell advertising to the people that make up this demographic.

But over the long term, as this fringe gets dragged further and further rightward, it becomes more difficult to market to those outside of it and, as such, it loses it's influence on a diversifying society as a whole. For example, the 2006 election featured a number of anti-immigration bills placed on the ballots in a number of states in the south and southwest, this had a tangible impact on Hispanic voters in subsequent elections.

The fact that current Republican candidates and party heads find the idea of arguing about birth control to be relevant to anything more than a slice of it's electorate in the year 2012 should tell you everything you need to know about the age of the electorate to which they are appealing. Rehashing arguments settled in the early 1960s cannot bode well on a party that already has difficulty appealing to female voters, a majority of whom have voted against Republican presidential candidates since 1988.

That said, 90% of politics is getting your supporters to show up, something Democrats are consistently bad at doing in off year election cycles. Whether it's uninspiring candidates, bad marketing, or both, 2010 is illustrative of how much influence this demographic still carries over national politics, even as it, frankly, continues to die off.

There are a lot of people who make this case a bit better than I do. You might start here, for instance.
In many ways, the schism among Romney, Santorum, and Paul more or less defines what being a Republican is in 2012. Paul accurately reflects the Libertarian wing of the party, Santorum accurately reflects it's evangelical wing, and Romney kinda sorta represents everyone else. Everyone who has fallen by the wayside (including Gingrich, who I guess you could fold into something called 'southern old money') folds neatly into one of these three categories.

The problem with this is, the first two groups are fringe but well defined and with a strong sense of (misguided) purpose. Paul supporters are guided by anti-government dogma, Santorum supporters are guided by religious dogma, clumsily wrapped in weak populism. Romney is an accurate reflection of what the Republican Party is at it's core, a terminally conflicted tone deaf vulture capitalist that feeds off the willful ignorance of supporters who accomplishes little but lining the pockets of himself and his friends at the expense of the electorate while flashing a fake plastic smile. And he's not Obama. And that has to mean something, right?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Voter Fraud Myth

Republicans beating the drum on the concept of voter fraud isn't really new. It's no secret that candidates that benefit the most from low voter turnout are Republicans, so the practice of finding ways to impede those voters who are of lower income, are minorities, or who work during voting hours is a hallmark of Republican policy.

John Engler twice vetoed motor-voter laws during the 1990s in Michigan, in no small part because automatic voter registration would have reduced the impediment of voters to turning out to vote. (As it turns out, he overestimated the Michigan Democratic Party in the 1990s, but I digress).

Moving on, once the 24th Amendment was passed, Republicans had to come up with new and interesting ways to keep people from voting them out of office. So whether it's closing DMV offices in Democratic areas, unconstitutional voter ID requirements or voter purges that are of dubious legality or are flat out illegal, they most certainly have managed to do so.

But any good disenfranchisement campaign needs some solid rhetoric to back it up, and that leads us to voter fraud. And, like any good rhetorical campaign, it's important to muddle the issue as much as possible.

To help make sense of the issue, it is necessary to differentiate between voter registration fraud, and actual voter fraud.

Voter registration fraud is at the heart of the ACORN issue. Voter registration fraud is legitimate, problematic and ultimately undid ACORN. Voter registration occurs when people either willfully submit purposely misleading registration information to a county or state board of election, or when, in certain states, people are financially incentivized to do so. By law, in most states, county or state boards of election are required to accept voter registration forms, and to weed through tens of thousands of fraudulent ones is impractical.

However, you might register Mickey Mouse at your address, as if he were a resident. That topic is altogether different than actual, honest to goodness voter fraud. Actual voter fraud occurs either when someone both submits fraudulent registration information and then actually campaigns for office on it and/or actually votes based on it, or when one willingly sells their votes to others.

Once you set aside the old white conservatives screaming about ACORN and get to the heart of the voter fraud issue, the actual voter fraud problem is so small it's silly.

This is a list of every conviction of voter fraud since the year 2000. I'm a bit lazy this morning, but if you sat down and added up, I'd bet you'd come up with around 310 in 46 states. (For comedic purposes, the source of that information is the Republican National Lawyers Association).

What I'm not too lazy to add up is the total number of ballots cast over the same period. Fortunately, the United States Elections Project at George Mason University helps with that.

The total number of ballots cast in elections over the same time period where there were 310 convictions for voter fraud?


So if you're scoring at home, or on the road, 310 of 506,832,881 ballots were proven to be fraudulent over the previous decade. That's 1 in every 1,634,945 ballots, or a whopping 6.1*10^-9% of all ballots cast.

That should more or less shut down the voter fraud debate in it's tracks. Or at least, serve as an effective counter to those who would seek to cloud an issue while they continue to disenfranchise the voting rights of others.

So just what's wrong with requiring a state issued ID when you vote, anyway? Well, for starters, those who are poor, rural, or unable to travel can't acquire them. But let's assume for a moment that you don't actually care about the poor, rural, or those who are unable to travel (which makes you more or less every Republican politician) and look at this from a legal perspective.

First, acquisition of a state issued ID, be it either a drivers license or a state issued identification card, costs money. If you are under the age of 65 in Michigan, this ID is $10 to acquire, and $10 to renew.

Second, because you have to pay money to acquire an ID card (or a drivers license), you are paying money to the state. Because this ID is required to vote, you are paying a poll tax to participate in an election, in violation of the 14th and 24th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

Now, could a case be made for requiring IDs to vote if both Drivers Licenses and state issued IDs were free? Sure. But ID laws as they stand currently are illegal. But the 24th Amendment doesn't really exist in their version of the Constitution anyway since it doesn't benefit their constituents.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beyond Pelvic Politics -

Okay. To further my argument in the previous post on this issue, Nicholas Kristor breaks down the economic impact of requiring coverage of birth control and a way to keep out of poverty... Good read!

Beyond Pelvic Politics -

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Contraception debate

Okay. I've heard quite a few right wing pundit's say that the Obama policy (to require most employers, including Catholic hospitals and universities, to include birth control in their employees' health insurance) is a conflict of the first amendment. That is is a so called "attack" on religious freedom. Well. Um. Hmm. I don't quite see it that way... The policy states that the institution (and universities and hospitals which serve the PUBLIC) has to provide the OPTION of birth control. No one is forcing any women to take or not take birth control. It is up to the individual to decide what is right for her body.

So there, it's NOT an attack on religious rights! You can still preach against birth control in the church. You can still have a class against contraception in your religious university. All the policy states is that a institution serving the public has to abide by the laws of the nation and give the option if requested. That's it. I don't see where this is an infraction on religious rights? All the smoke and mirrors from the right wing is just clouding the issue. You still have the choice to not use birth control. No one is forcing YOU to use it. They are just saying that if your neighbor thinks otherwise; and you serve the public, you have to give the OPTION.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Five Democratic State Senators In Missouri Threatened With Sniper Crosshairs On Their Office Doors | Addicting Info

This is absolutely disgusting. The extreme right is using crosshairs again and posted images of such on their office doors. With Representative Gabrielle Giffords resigning today because of her wounds from a gunshot a year ago, why are these crazies allowed to perpetrate the hate? This is TERRORISM from the right! Whoever is responsible should be treated as terrorists and get the maximum penalty. Along with the Democrat in Arkansas, who had his cat killed - these acts are deplorable. There should be NO VIOLENCE towards liberals just because they have a difference of opinion from your ultra-conservatism that hates everything from equal rights, equal taxation, quality education, health care for all, religious freedom, art and freedom of press. Ultra-conservatives ARE DISGUSTING!

Five Democratic State Senators In Missouri Threatened With Sniper Crosshairs On Their Office Doors | Addicting Info:

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Confessions of a Tea Party Casualty | Mother Jones

And this is why I disagree with the Tea Party so much. Obama is not a socialist. Yes,he may be liberal like me. But am I a socialist? No. I am a liberal. I am a progressive who knows how to lead the country FORWARD and not go backwards like the Tea Party conservatives want to. I know I call the Tea Party names. It's a direct response to them calling us names. It doesn't make it right but liberals have attacked for years and I am fed up!

Confessions of a Tea Party Casualty | Mother Jones:

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Jon Huntsman's Values - YouTube

This is absolutely disgusting and the filth the Tea Party perpetrates. I as an adoptive parent find this ad inexcusable. And whoever created it is bigoted and racist...

Jon Huntsman's Values - YouTube:

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Paul Begala on the GOP’s Suicidal Tendency - The Daily Beast

The lunatics are taking over the asylum. The best quote for the article. If you don't think the Tea Party has hijacked the Republican party, then read this. Tell me what you think. I think this is spot on...

Paul Begala on the GOP’s Suicidal Tendency - The Daily Beast:

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

The two sided American foreign policy problem

If you understand the Middle East, this story featured on NPR this morning should concern you. Here we have a public uprising well before Tunisia. A public uprising in Bahrain that was squelched by the ruling Al Khalifa family. The power that was supported by American foreign policy. See, the United States only cares about freedom and democracy if it's interests are not compromised. And there is a HUGE U.S. navel base in Bahrain. Sound like a double standard? Well, yes it does. And if you've followed American foreign policy in the Middle East for the last 60 years, you'll understand why anyone would bomb the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on February 26, 1993 or September 11, 2001. We supported an oppressive Shah in Iran. We supported Saddam Hussein in the Iraq-Iran war. And it's that double standard that impacts Americans years or decades later. We can't let this double standard continue. More Americans will die because of this. Not to mention the Bahrain citizens that died from this oppression that the U.S. just allowed to continue for the cheep price of oil or the fact that there is a navel base there...

Bahrain: The Revolution That Wasn't : NPR:

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