Category Archives: Elections

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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Filed under 1, Elections, Journalism, Obama, Politics

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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Republicans and Voter Fraud: “We have met the enemy and they are us”

The Republican Party in Florida now faces a voter fraud scandal in the key error/hanging chad/fraud-prone state of Florida.

The Florida Republican Party has fired a consulting firm — run by a controversial Republican strategist — after the firm submitted more than 100 questionable voter registrations in Palm Beach County. That county was precisely where in 2000 controversial ballots and hanging chads led to George W. Bush’s election by the Supreme Court, not by popular or electoral vote.

An Associated Press story reported today:

The Republican Party of Florida used Virginia-based Strategic Allied Consulting to help register and turnout voters in Florida, one of a shrinking handful of states President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are contesting.
The Florida state party had paid the firm more than $1.3 million so far, and the Republican National Committee used the group for almost $3 million of work in Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia.
“We have zero tolerance for any threat to the integrity of elections. When we were informed of an alleged incident we immediately cut all ties to the company,” RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer said.
The state party similarly sought to distance itself from the firm and its main operative, Nathan Sproul.

Sproul, a well-known right-wing activist from Arizona, has worked with the Republican Party in other key states and has faced controversy before.

Ironically, the GOP has marshaled a series of efforts — almost always in swing states — across the country to demand voter id’s, with the claim that fraud is rampant. That is not true. The nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. The center’s analysis has reported that “Fraud by individual voters is both irrational and extremely rare.”

Interesting case — now Republicans can argue that cases of voter fraud are increasing — the 100 questioned registrations are more than the number of challenged voter fraud cases across the United States in the last 10 years. A fitting aphorism: “We have met the enemy and they are us.”

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Krauthammer: The Shrink of Romney-land

A friend of mine asked after the attacks in Libya and Egypt – and Mitt Romney’s mindless and mistimed and lying reaction – “is there any decorum left?”
In this strange divided land, there certainly isn’t.

The dividing lines among Democrats and Republicans are stark – have a look at the closed loop of talking heads. Consider Doctor Charles Krauthammer, the Fox television analyst and pundit and columnist (who happens to be a physician and psychiatrist), and witness the depths of self-delusion.

Rallying troops more ignorant than he himself, the doctor tells us today – predictably – that the attack on the U.S. embassy this week was the result of Obama policies. Doctor Krauthammer parrots Romney’s nonsense about “apologizing for America.”

“The substance of what Romney said at the time was absolutely right…The problem is he needs to make a larger argument. There is a collapse of Obama’s policy. It began with the Cairo speech, it began with the apologies to Iran. It began with regret for the Iraq war, it began with the so-called outreach and it completely collapsed. It has gotten nowhere on Iran. These are the fruits of appeasement and apology.”

The good doctor is not alone – the Romney spin masters have sent out Senator Rob Portman of Ohio; the former senator of Minnesota, Norm Coleman, Laura Ingraham and their ilk to spit bile, to lie and confuse.

Romney lied about events in the Middle East this week – by creating talking points untethered to reality. Is there decorum? Is there shame? No.
How can such bull permeate the airwaves?

American journalism bears some of the blame for the state of affairs. The rules of the game say that we must be balanced; newspapers and magazines report that “both sides” are exploiting events for their own political advantage. All would be well, but journalism doesn’t know how to place a flashing light under the visage of a liar. Newspapers publish lies and then place the fact-checking elsewhere in separate columns, even separate pages. There must be a better way.

The Republicans have been lying and deceiving and blocking legislation – hell-bent on taking power, waging war based on fraud and then taking power again — for at least a decade. With a more reliable front-man than Romney, some day too soon, a Reaganesque know-nothing smooth talker one day will win. Probably not this time, unless the Supreme Court-authorized multibillion dollar campaign spending spree works.

One always had the idea that a doctor, a psychiatrist, would be a healing force. That is why Doctor Krauthammer comes across as such strange apparition. The obvious thing to say is “doctor, heal thyself.” And then heal thy brethren.

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Filed under 1, Egypt, Elections, Journalism, Libya, Middle East, Obama, Politics

#Romney and #Ryan: “Don’t Know Much About History.”#RNC

Note to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. A little Sam Cooke song for your iPods, across the generations.

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

    Foreign policy notes after the Republican convention.

Romney sounds like he wants to attack Iran.This plays to Sheldon Adelson and the millions of dollars he is willing to dedicate to defeating Obama; and to Bush-era neo-cons in the wings. Will Romney and the image-makers be able to generate enough fear in America to push for a war with Iran? I don’t think there is a stomach for going back to the Bush-Cheney policy of pre-emptive war.

Romney and his running mate used the tired old phrase that President Obama had “thrown Israel under the bus.” There’s nothing to sustain that. Obama has been as supportive of Israel as every other president since 1948. Israel under Benjamin Netanyahu—propped up by the way by Sheldon Adelson –has not been in a mood to work with the Obama administration toward compromise and negotiations with the Palestinians.

Only those with no memory and no sense of context can listen to Condoleezza Rice seriously about foreign policy. Exactly 10 years ago, she appeared on American television and fear-mongered:

“We know that there have been shipments going…into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited…for nuclear weapons…We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

If she didn’t know that this was a manufactured lie, she didn’t know her job. Rice has no apology and now is declared “presidential” by some. She shilled for a fake policy on Iraq as secretary of state. See my book with Knut Royce – The Italian Letter – which disproves the claim she still makes today, that the Bush administration acted on the best intelligence available at the time. That is a lie.

What this business about saber-rattling with Russia and using Vladimir Putin as a convenient foil? Are the Republican foreign policy advisers buried in a safe room since 1990? It was reckless.

That brings us back to Sam Cooke. I suspect that Romney does know the lessons he learned. He does know “the French he took.” He just doesn’t want to let on in the party he dances with. That is sad.

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Filed under 1, Bush, Condi Rice, Elections, Middle East, Obama, Politics

The Republican (and Fox News) Fraud Behind Voter Fraud

Here are some questions I’d like to ask (or some news person should ask) Mitt Romney, assuming he’s ever available to talk to the
“liberal establishment” mainstream media.

–Do you think voter fraud is a problem in the United States?
–How many cases of voter fraud have been committed in the last ten years?
–Is is a coincidence that swing states with Republican-dominated legislatures are leading the drive for voter ID cards?
–Are you telling the truth?

Fact is that there is no voter fraud problem in the United States.
What there is instead is a cynical Republican scam to suppress voting, abetted of course by Fox News, which has a Voter Fraud Unit reporting about the non-existent problem.

A report by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law says the problem does not exist:

* Fraud by individual voters is both irrational and extremely rare.
* Many vivid anecdotes of purported voter fraud have been proven false or do not demonstrate fraud.
* Voter fraud is often conflated with other forms of election misconduct.
* Raising the unsubstantiated specter of mass voter fraud suits a particular policy agenda.
* Claims of voter fraud should be carefully tested before they become the basis for action.

Here’s a link to the full report: http://www.brennancenter.org/content/resource/policy_brief_on_the_truth_about_voter_fraud/

Jon Stewart had a perfect take on the story, closing with a great line: “Next up, leashes for unicorns.”

It isn’t a joke of course. Florida, among the voter ID states, showed what it could do in suppressing the vote in 2000. The Republican-controlled state wrongly purged people from the rolls, claiming they were ineligible as felons, hindered access in some cases to election booths in likely Democratic-voting minority areas — and of course fought off a recount, with an assist from the U.S. Supreme Court. A member of the dissenting vote on the Supreme Court likened the 2000 election to a coup.

They are at it again, it is systematic and no accident. It’s an outrage.

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