Category Archives: Elections

The Drag of Congressional Hearings

boehner-obamacareThe prospects of paralyzing hearings and pontificating for no reason, other than Republican hatred toward Obama.

The public gets what it wants every two years. Will there be prolonged hearings, will the Republican Congress pursue a witch hunt, or will it fear blow-back in 2014 elections?

From the New York Times (Jonathan Weisman):

G.O.P., Energized, Weighs How Far to Take Inquiries

WASHINGTON — The investigations ensnaring the White House have unified the Republican Party, energized a political base shattered by election losses and given common purpose to lawmakers divided over a legislative agenda.

The most pressing question for Congressional Republicans is no longer how to finesse changes to immigration law or gun control, but how far they can push their cases against President Obama without inciting a backlash of the sort that has left them staggering in the past.

Stay tuned.

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Coming Distractions: The IRS Saga–More Republican Nonsense in a Congress Near You

Gallup Poll Shows Congressional Approval at around 13 percent.

Gallup Poll Shows Congressional Approval at around 13 percent.

In the knee-jerk fraud that masquerades as a Republican alternative, the latest pseudo-drama inside the Beltway will be the sanctimonious months of Congressional hearings about a non-existent conspiracy at the Internal Revenue Service.  Faced with real issues — immigration, health care, gun reform, electoral reform, among them — the wing-nuts that control the House of Representatives have a new excuse to do worse than nothing.

The real agenda is to attack their Democratic opponents, especially the president, and increasingly the leading presidential candidate for 2016, Hillary Clinton.

Succinctly stated, all of this, in a New York Times editorial:

Inevitably, the stumble by the I.R.S. will now be used by the Republicans as a point of attack. They are gleefully promising months of hearings, and the National Republican Congressional Committee is already trying to tarnish Democratic lawmakers with what it calls “the Obama administration’s use of the I.R.S. as a political tool.”

This will serve as the perfect distraction from issues, like the budget, gun control or immigration reform. And it will probably prevent any real progress on campaign finance reform, which, in turn, will make it vastly more difficult for the I.R.S. to prevent abuse of the tax code.

The I.R.S. stumble, if it is one, comes as a result of a highly partisan flawed and democracy-damaging decision by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case. The I.R.S. began to investigate whether right-wing nonprofits claiming tax exemption were really political fronts for the Republicans who placed the Supreme Court majority on the bench so it could make the damaging decision. “Oh no,” meanwhile, cries the Tea Party, “we’re nonpartisan.”

All of this works very well as long as straight-thinking citizens pay little heed, not even the 22 minutes needed to watch The Daily Show, to check out the sad humor of it all.

I don’t know about you — but it becomes increasingly difficult to even read or watch the news from Washington — so predictable as it is. A moderate majority of citizens appears to have given up. We are left with a Senate tilted to low-population states, a House built by a Republican minority that stacked the deck state by state.

Two of the prime deck-stackers, the Koch Brothers, by the way, are now trying to purchase the Los Angeles Times and the rest of the Chicago Tribune’s assets. Then, they’ll even be able to control the message better than they already have.

Failing broader outrage from a gerrymandered public, laughter and mockery is probably the best way to go.

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“A [political] change coming on”

muse of history“I feel a change comin’ on
Though the last part of the day’s already gone”
Bob Dylan and Robert Hunter

We may be witnessing a sea-change in American politics, but we’re too close to know exactly what it is. How can Republicans and their losing agenda survive when a majority of people in the United States support exactly what Republicans hate, issues including: gun-control; a woman’s right to choose; and the government role in health care. Oh and one more thing, a majority of Americans have just re-elected President Barack Obama. Republicans are not a happy lot.

There’s an interesting analysis by George Packer in The New Yorker that describes a progressive change in political alignment — the South was solidly Democratic until Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 Civil Rights Act, Republicans have been ensconced one way or another ever since. “At the same time,” Packer writes….

the Southern way of life began to be embraced around the country until, in a sense, it came to stand for the “real America”: country music and Lynyrd Skynyrd, barbecue and nascar, political conservatism, God and guns, the code of masculinity, militarization, hostility to unions, and suspicion of government authority, especially in Washington, D.C. (despite its largesse). In 1978, the Dallas Cowboys laid claim to the title of “America’s team”—something the San Francisco 49ers never would have attempted. In Palo Alto, of all places, the cool way to express rebellion in your high-school yearbook was with a Confederate flag. That same year, the tax revolt began, in California.

We hear a protest movement from that “real America,’ secession nonsense and defiance. Governors and legislators who are sworn to uphold BOTH the U.S. Constitution AND their state constitutions advocate defiance of federal programs, health insurance or any move from Washington to control guns.

Packer says the change, as far as we see so far, is that Republicans, controlled and distorted by this Southern bloc, can no longer lead.

The Southern bloc in the House majority can still prevent the President from enjoying any major legislative achievements, but it has no chance of enacting an agenda, and it’s unlikely to produce a nationally popular figure.

Where is it all headed? Interesting question on the eve of the inauguration of second term for a man who has repeatedly cited his own unlikely road to the White House. That man is a member of a new generation, a product as we all are, but not a part, of the South.

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Romney the Elder Statesman? Not

Romney’s legacy and the debacle that could have been is still in the rearview mirror. (As the mirror warns, objects are closer than they really appear). Just as we thought the image was gone, he came back with nonsense about entitlements and President Obama buying the election with giveaways. Talk about graceless defeat.

Let’s make sure that we’re overtaking the inertial mass we’ve just passed and get moving back into our lane. It ain’t easy, what with wingnuts writing petitions to secede, morons who are saying that the UN has a secret plan to herd suburbanites into cities, and bloviating radio mouths spouting any other insanity that can be belched into semi-intelligible sounds.

As we digest what we can, here’s a great summary from Garry Wills in the NY Review of Books:

“What happens to those who lose a presidential campaign? Some can do it with heads rightly held high, and go on to give valuable service to the nation….

“What public service do we expect from Mitt Romney? He will no doubt return to augmenting his vast and hidden wealth, with no more pesky questions about where around the world it is stashed, or what taxes (if any) he paid, carefully sheltered from the rules his fellow citizens follow.

“What vestige of a backbone is Romney left with? Things he was once proud of —health-care guarantees, opposition to noxious emissions, support of gay rights and women’s rights, he had the shamelessness to treat as matters of shame all through his years-long crawl to the Republican nomination.”

Seriously, friends and relatives who voted for Romney, can you not see that this would have been a road-wreck with all of us tied to the roof?

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Filed under Elections, Obama, Politics, Politics, Republicans

Latino Power: Even George W. Bush Heard About It

Perhaps because his little brother Jeb warned him, former President George W. Bush and aides knew well that the changing ethnic mix in the United States would cause problems for the Republican Party.

In the waning days of his presidency in 2009, Bush said that the Republican Party:

“should be open-minded about big issues like immigration reform, because if we’re viewed as anti-somebody—in other words, if the party is viewed as anti-immigrant—then another fellow may say, well, if they’re against the immigrant, they may be against me.” [Fox News Sunday, Interview with Brit Hume, January 11, 2009]

It was a warning not heeded. Republicans opposed the Dream Act and efforts toward immigration reform. They took insignificant steps–like parading out conservative Latinos at the Republican National Convention, such as Florida U.S. Senator Marco Antonio Rubio, “the crown prince of the Tea Party Movement,” and the now elected U.S. Senator from Texas, Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz.

One other attempt to identify with Latinos was characteristic of the deceitful Republican presidential campaign. On the stump and with the right audience, of course, Mitt Romney played up his tenuous Mexican ties, not mentioning the connection was based on the fact that his great-grandfather fled to Mexico to continue practicing polygamy.

Now the Republicans appear to be getting the message: Latinos voted 75 percent to 23 percent for President Obama. TalkingPointsMemo.com reported:

“For the first time in US history, the Latino vote can plausibly claim to be nationally decisive,” Stanford University university professor Gary Segura, who conducted the study, told reporters.
According to Segura, the Latino vote provided Obama with 5.4 percent of his margin over Romney, well more than his overall lead in the popular vote. Had Romney managed even 35 percent of the Latino vote, he said, the results may have flipped nationally.

Latino Power is real. Beyond their strong influence on the presidential race, Congress and governorships, hundreds of Latinos serve in state legislatures; thousands serve in local government.

I’ll bet that Republicans in the new Congress will be more willing to work with Democrats on comprehensive immigration reform. They make other concessions as well. But they will also figure, wrongly, that Latinos will accept their intrusive social agenda — anti-abortion, privatization of Medicare and Social Security and the crazy pledge to never raise taxes.

My guess is that the Republicans are going to get it wrong. Interest groups are not monoliths and people aren’t stupid. A profile of Latinos, as with the changing demographics of the United States, will show that they are increasingly young, progressive and interested in Democratic values. Latinos are no more fooled by Rubio and company than African Americans are fooled by U.S. Rep. Allen Bernard West in Florida or the handful of other blacks tied to the Republican Party.

Latinos will not be snowed by extremism and lies.

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Obama’s Victory In International Headlines: “The Best is Still To Come.”

A Reminder that the Whole world is watching and waiting:

Obama tras su reelección: “Para EE UU, lo mejor está por venir” El Pais, Madrid

(Obama after his re-election For the US, The Best is Yet to Come)

“Nate Silver, La Revanche du Geek” Le Monde, Paris
(Nate Silver, the Revenge of the Geek)

Obama wins four more years as Romney challenge is crushed The Independent, London

War-weary Afghans shrug off Obama re-election, http://dawn.com/2012/11/07/obama-says-best-is-yet-to-come-in-victory-speech/, Islamabad.

Iran to take center stage again on new-old President Obama’s agenda Haaretz, Jerusalem

US Daily: Iran’s Tourism Industry Prospering Despite Sanction Fars News Agency, Tehran, which announced Obama’s victory earlier.

Later additions:

Mediocre Mitt Crashes Out, Sydney Morning Herald.

Obama to continue his China policy, <em>China (English) Daily USA</em>

Thai-American elected to US Congress, The Nation, Bangkok

The U.S. Should Learn From Venezuela How to Hold Elections, The Daily Journal, Caracas

Sin los latinos, republicanos ven díficil regresar a la Casa Blanca, El Tiempo, Bogota
(WIthout Latinos, Republicans find it difficult to return to the White House)

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A Vote Against Cynicism, despite Rove, Scott and Husted

I suspect that I am not alone among voters in the United States who tear up a bit (President Obama also was emotional at his final rally in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday night) waiting in line to vote for the President of the United States.

Voting for president is a rare memorable privilege. I have a friend in New York City whose name is Alex Imich. Alex is 109 years old. Even though Alex first voted probably in the 1960s, he has still voted for president more times than I have.

He came to the United States after World War II, having survived the Nazis and the Gulag. He voted proudly in 2008 for Barack Obama. I haven’t spoken to him for a year, but if he’s able I have no doubt that he will do the same this year.

There are people in this land who disdain the system that makes me proud.

Three, for example:
–Karl Christian Rove, friend of a former president named George Walker Bush and the handler of millions of dollars in the name of voter manipulation;

–Richard Lynn “Rick” Scott, the governor of Florida, coincidentally also friend and former business partner of same said George Walker Bush. Scott has done everything possible to block Floridians from voting in a reliable way. Once again, voting in Florida, my former home state, exists somewhere between an embarrassment and a sick laughing stock;

–Jon A. Husted (somebody help me on his middle name), the secretary of state of the State of Ohio, who appears to travel in the same circles. Husted, operating on Rove-ian principles, has fought the rights of people in Ohio to vote quickly and easily.

I have no idea what moves these men as they willfully and cynically do everything possible to manipulate, suppress and block people from voting?

Theories ? They might say that the system is flawed and they have to represent the interests they believe in; or they might say that everybody does it, and why shouldn’t they? But to me, they come across as sad miserable wretches.

I’m going out to vote.

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The Election Horse Race Won’t Be a Photo Finish

A favorable jobs report four days before the election is good news for President Obama. Unemployment remains under eight percent.

Even before that, Nate Silver of the 538 blog, the guru of poll analysis, showed the president has more than an 80 percent chance of winning the election.

The news of the day—and watching the campaign swings these days–adds fuel to my argument that the president has never been in as much trouble as most news outlets have been telling us. My guess is that even after his poor performance in the first debate, President Obama has been in pretty good shape for re-election.

Political reporting focuses on the horse race, rarely on issues. The race narrative gets boring unless you sell the idea of a close finish.

The story about Romney and momentum is mostly a narrative created by Romney’s handlers then swallowed up by the news, then regurgitated by the campaign once more. If nothing else, the closed circuit narrative makes it easier for Romney to hop on and off his plane every day with a dream of winning.

Romney’s key attribute—“I’m not Obama”—plays to his constituency but isn’t enough to win. I think a majority of the electorate—in terms of popular vote and certainly in terms of electoral vote–sees through Romney’s shape-shifting candidacy.

One part of the final sprint will be dirty tricks, anything Karl Rove and company have left in their bag.

Voter suppression, voter turnout, intimidation. Still, likely the tricks won’t be enough to propel Romney to victory.

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We have witnessed the October surprise: right-wing extremism is on the way out.

We have witnessed the October surprise. Right-wing extremism is on the way out.

The surprise came in two forms – most visibly when the governor of New Jersey turned to the president of the United States and began working with him to rebuild the ruined New Jersey coast.

Chris Christie told Republican ideologue television anchors at Fox that he didn’t give a damn about politics – he cared about saving his state.

“I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics, and I could care less about any of that stuff. I have a job to do. I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power. I’ve got devastation on the Shore. I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”

In an October flash, the extremist Republican rhetoric about less government washed away in the reality of the storm called Sandy.

The other October surprise came earlier in response to John Sununu, Mitt Romney’s water bearer and a worthy Halloween ghoul. Sununu brought racism to the fore by saying that former Secretary of State Colin Powell supported President Barack Obama because of their skin color.

Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s former chief of staff, responded angrily. Wilkerson, a university professor and retired army colonel, who by the way is not African-American but is a registered Republican, said this on national television:

Let me just be candid: My party is full of racists, and the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander-in-chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin, and that’s despicable.

The presidential election on Tuesday has to do with a return to sanity. The victory of President Obama and the sign of a new pragmatic wave – personified by the likes of Christie and Wilkerson – shows that progress can be made.

Christie found a mission – statesmanship over ideology. Wilkerson dared to voice an uncomfortable truth.

The election next week could restore balance. A victory for President Obama is now linked to new moderation in the Republican Party and a return to two-party politics that works. A vote for the president helps to sweep away the dogged ignorance that has captured the conservative spectrum in this country.

Much is at stake on Tuesday. Vote.

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Filed under #Sandy, 1, Elections, Journalism, Obama, Politics

Fox Trims Cuomo on New York, #Sandy and Global Warming

FOX Business Network was one of the few national outlets to carry New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s extensive comments on damage and recovery in the New York City area. But when Governor Cuomo began discussing global warming, Fox cut the feed.

The governor’s detailed report on status, first response and rescue, priorities for New York City included his contacts with President Obama, FEMA’s role, and the arrival of a U.S. Army water mitigation team to work on pumping away water.

Governor Cuomo next began speaking about the need to not only rebuild – as a long-term project—but that “we need to rebuild in a more intelligent way.” He then said that whatever some might say — adding “this is not a political statement” – weather patterns make it clear that something has changed in climatic conditions and that the city must be prepared for that. Those who deny weather changes, he said, are wrong.

“There’s no such thing as a 100-year flood,” he said. “These are extreme weather patterns. The frequency has been increasing.”

Cuomo is probably the first major politician during this disaster to discuss that element of the problem. But within seconds and a sentence or two, Fox swiftly cut off the governor’s remarks. A director somewhere realized what Cuomo was saying and didn’t want to continue to broadcast what he had to say. Fox could probably say they needed to break in after the long remarks, but it didn’t seem that way.

Anyone surprised?

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