Category: US Pres. Elect. ’12 Forum

Used Teabags

I wrote a few weeks ago that the Tea Party was a drying wart on the American political landscape, a view cinched last night:

FORTUNE — Tactically, the Republican establishment is routing the Tea Party. The insurgency’s backslide has been apparent all year, as its handpicked challengers to GOP incumbents failed to gain traction, groups representing it in Washington overreached, and the deficit concerns stoking its base waned. But yesterday, the “backslide” slid right back off a cliff. Tea Party-backed candidates in three key primary races suffered decisive losses in Kentucky, Georgia, and Idaho.

With the handwriting on the wall, deep-pocketed conservative sponsors huddled last Thursday and stewed over how to force the GOP to double down on hard-right policy positions. Those include opposition to a big immigration deal, same-sex marriage, and abortion rights — issues toxic to the imperative of broadening the party’s demographic coalition. But the movement’s electoral drubbing suggests its grip on the Republican agenda may finally be breaking.

The question is what will replace it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the big victors in yesterday’s contests, was explicit with Fortune earlier this year that Senate Republicans will not unify behind a governing vision before the November midterms. And even if a more moderate brand of Republicanism is ascendant, the term itself remains relative — and murky.

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What if Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin are lying?

What if there is a much larger scandal lurking within their private lives? What if the “whole lot of therapy” was merely a ruse, a going through the motions. What if it was an act  necessitated by the need “to get to a place where [Abedin] could forgive Anthony?”  Not for engaging in a relationship with another person intimate enough for the exchange sexts, but rather forgive him for being so stupid as to get caught.

A greater scandal than infidelity would be an open marriage.

Let that sink in.

Because the authoritarians out there are fine with infidelity. They do it themselves. What they will neither abide nor tolerate though, is a challenge to their moral superiority. The challenge of the sexual revolution of the sixties for the moral fundamentalists was not free love.  It was guilt-free love.  It’s ok to have sex. It’s just that after almost every instance you are required to feel guilty.

The sixties freed us of  “premarital” sex guilt.  So much so that the very word “premarital” is falling out of common usage.

But “open marriage” guilt. Not by a long shot.

And it’s beyond ironic that one of the kind of people most in need of standards of conduct within an open marriage are politicians. The essence of politics is lots of interaction with lots of people. Both shallow and deep interactions and interfaces. It was a revelation to my daughter when I pointed out to her the high likelihood that the Clintons had between them broad understandings of what they would permit of each other. And a greater revelation that agreements of that sort would be more scandalous than the acts themselves.

It is a sense wrongness that can constrain progressive politicians from living our values. Best if felt by the politician but sufficient if merely felt by the voters. Even if Anthony Weiner feels that sexting is ok, he has to lie.

Eliot Spitzer, of course, has a similar problem. Even if engaging professional sex services is allowed within his relationship and his personal ethics, it is beyond efficacy to say so.

And this is what drives the moral superiority of the authoritarians. They can still safely feel at one with their beliefs. As long as we feel, and I mean feel, that we must deny our fundamental beliefs, we will be at a disadvantage in the political arena.


Snowden to World Leaders – We’re listening … to everything

Ed Snowden to G8: turn on the taps when talking
Gary Gibbons on Politics June 16

“Ed Snowden’s computers have delivered another extraordinary story to The Guardian – but one that you can safely predict kills of Mr Snowden’s hopes of asylum.   He reveals that GCHQ boasted of tapping into Blackberries, emails and phone traffic of delegates and officials when the UK hosted the G20 summit in London’s docklands in 2009.
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Should America Divorce?

The short answer is, no.
But there’s a case to be made for couples therapy:

In Europe’s case, the motor for secession is ethnicity. In America, however, it’s a politics turned toxic. The 2012 election encouraged the idea that the U.S. is split into two camps that are politically and culturally alien and with opposing economic needs. Mitt Romney’s infamous formula of the 47% (reiterated in his equally ugly post-election remarks about “gifts”) played upon an old idea that one half of the country feeds off the taxes paid by the other half.

Secessionists are likely to be those who see themselves as disadvantaged by the redistributive federal state: as taxpayers bled dry by freeloaders, and businesspeople penalized by liberal regulation. WKRG-TV found an eccentric example of that when it interviewed the founder of the Alabama petition and discovered that he was furious at the government for shutting down his topless car wash: “He said he was arrested and charged with obscenity by city officials in 2001. ‘The government ripped my business away, and now they’re choking America to death with rules and regulations,’ he said.”

But the 2012 election introduced the idea that the welfare-recipient minority is now the majority. A common theme in conservative post-election analysis is that the Democrats now have an unbeatable coalition of ethnic minorities, single women and socially liberal youth that is turning the U.S. into a European social democracy. (Mark Steyn: “Tuesday’s results demonstrate that, as a whole, the American electorate is trending very Euro-Canadian.”) If that is the consensus among the conservative talking heads, then it’s rational for conservative grass-roots activists to conclude that the only viable future for the conservative minority is to form its own country.

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Whiners In The News

I was going to write about something else, but the sun got in my eyes, my shoe lace was untied and I’m not a popular enough blogger because other blogs are hogging all the readers.
So let’s talk about whining:
1) Mitt Romney complains that Barack Obama, President of the United States, used his office to award voting groups “gifts”.

“The Obama campaign was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped they could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls, specifically the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people,” Romney told hundreds of donors during a telephone town hall Wednesday. “In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups.”

Apparently, dogs bite men as well.
Look, when even a loser like Pikush Jindal disagrees with your analysis, Mitt, it’s time to take a serious look in the mirror and figure out if you’ve been living your life anywhere near reality.
Presidents hand out favors. Yes. So do candidates, in the form of promises. I’m sure you made plenty to the 1%ers who you stood in front of mocking the vast majority of Americans, including Bain Capital, who take government largesse.
You lost because, frankly, you suck at this. One term as governor and somehow you feel qualified to run the nation? You’ve never had to get out there and listen to people. Not surprisingly, you’ve run for President and you still haven’t been out there, talking to people, except for the crowds that your cronies have forced into showing up, and the planted questions from operatives.
Let me know when you’re ready to visit Harlem and face a crowd in the basement of an inner city schools and lay out a plan for education, then we can start to talk about qualifications.
2) Guy Fieri objects to a review of his restaurant.
It’s possible you missed the review in the New York Times of Fieri’s new Times Square restaurant. If you did, go read it. I can wait.
*whistling softly*
Back? Pretty harsh, huh? It’s been called one the worst reviews the Times has ever published on anything: plays, books, restaurants, art exhibitions. The reviewer admits to having eaten there with groups over the span of four meals and hated nearly everything he tasted.
By the way, the Times was kind, by comparison.
Does Fieri say “You’re the Times food critic. I maybe ought to take notes.”
Lemme sum up his response thusly:
Literally. Also, that the reviewer was used to reviewing joints with “teh classy”.
The question has to be asked, “If you aren’t ready on day one, what’s the point in opening?”
It seems pretty clear that the answer to that is he wanted the restaurant open in time for the holiday tourism season, figuring that he could beta test his menu to paying customers and no one would really notice. Even if he got a bad review, it couldn’t be so bad that anyone coming into town would notice, and the Fieri name would sell the rest. He could deal with Quality Control issues after the fact.
Note to any readers who are coming to New York: rather than eat the slop that’s served on the Deuce by rip-off artists, try Virgil’s for real American food. It’s on 43rd Street, just off Broadway, and it’s one place that real New Yorkers go for meat.
And no “donkey sauce.” Ever.

Nobody Asked Me, But…

(Note to my Agonist readers: Nobody Asked Me, But…is a weekly feature at my own blog, Simply Left Behind where I discuss news stories that you might have missed during the week. Sometimes, I’ll suspend the usual format for a rant or an in-depth observation. This is one such time.)

I wish to make the following announcement:
At 11:15 PM, EST on November 6, 2012, the United States experienced Peak Wingnut.
Now, many scholars will disagree with that assessment, and to be honest, after I crunched the numbers, I came up with a precision factor of about 87%. We haven’t had an assassination of a Federal official since Gabby Giffords was crippled. However, after extrapolating a method based on Nate Silver’s polling analyses, I believe with some large measure of confidence that the Wingnut movement is now on a downslope.
My evidence —

Out Of The Rubble

Drink Up Me Hearties, Yo Ho!
Drink Up Me Hearties, Yo Ho!

Looking over the reactions of the more principal names of the blogosphere, it seems that Tuesday’s results were both unexpected and terrifying.

It’s not like there weren’t warnings: Nate Silver, for instance, has called nearly all 50 states (waitin’ on ya, Florida!) almost precisely, and certainly precisely enough for the Electoral College. Public Policy Polling, a polling firm that was hammered right and right — we on the left marveled at its integrity — turned in the best performance, so anyone with half a brain would have had cause to consider the very strong likelihood that Obama was winning and that this election was more of an exercise in backburning in order to stop a wildfire from spreading.

The superPACs and other dark money operatives out there seemed to get it, as they expended massive amounts of money to shore up weak Congressional races, successfully. But the GOP to its base?

Not so much. There are hurt feelings all across the nation and correctly, the anger is not focused on Obama.

For once. They acknowledge that he ran a fair race and fought hard, even if they believe he was ultimately beatable by an acharismatic elitist with tired ideas.

The anger is focused at the Republicans and fellow conservatives.

It seems the wheel is still turning, but the hamster is dead.

Some folks seem to. Some are actually stepping up and rather than blame them, taking a measure of responsibility for what they achieved. This is a healthy thing, to be sure.

A re-election campaign always, ALWAYS, favors the incumbent, and that’s a fact that conservatives ignored at their peril (in fairness, progressives ignored it in 2004, as well, and didn’t fight hard enough to get Kerry elected.) It really doesn’t matter how weak he is, if his challenger refuses or cannot define himself, then the tendency is to go with who you know, particularly in difficult times.

Again, see 2004. Continue reading

Never. In. Doubt.

I’m not sure when it was I decided that Obama could not lose this race, but I do know the first time I dared say it out loud.
It was when the GOP started running the Iowa caucuses back in August, 2011, and Michele Bachman won the first go-round in a straw poll.
It seems so long ago.
Here’s the problem that Republicans face (and Democrats too, to a lesser degree, which I’ll get to in a minute): the split between their primary voters and the general population.
When you allow your party’s platform and candidates to be dictated by the emptiest cans making the most noise, you are going to lose elections left and right. When what the nation needs is conciliation and compromise to come to solutions that work for everyone, running a party platform of exclusion and elitism works for no one.
There are no “one best” ideas, there are no boilerplate solutions that fix problems, or rather, pray they go away.

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Kremlin-Backed Report: Today’s U.S. Elections Won’t Be Free or Fair

Perhaps that’ll teach the American government not to criticize Russia’s electoral process!

The Atlantic

The U.S. presidential election will be neither free nor fair, and President Barack Obama will win a second term in office thanks to an election campaign marred by violations. That’s according to a new report commissioned by Russia’s Central Election Commission, widely seen as retaliation for Washington’s own criticism of the Russian electoral process.

The report, released just hours before voting stations opened in the United States, was penned by a group of Kremlin-friendly nongovernmental organizations. The current U.S. vote, it concludes, falls dramatically short of international election principles. “Apart from the periodicity of elections, not a single of these principles is being fully observed in the United States during these presidential elections,” says Aleksandr Ignatov, the executive director of the Russian Public Institute of Electoral Law, one of the groups behind the report. The Russian Public Institute of Electoral Law is chaired by a former Central Electoral Commission official, Igor Borisov.

Critics say the report appears to be a response to persistent criticism of Russian elections from the U.S. government and Western monitoring groups. “Some view it as an answer according to the tit-for-tat principle, and it truly looks like it,” says Arkady Lyubarev, an expert at Russia’s independent election watchdog Golos. “I don’t believe this is a qualified study. I have very serious doubts that the Central Election Commission has specialists capable of correctly assessing U.S. elections. To monitor elections in any country, you have to spend time in that country and follow the process there.”
More at the link

Reality v. Misperception

Barack Obama will win the Presidential election by a comfortable margin. My prediction is 305 electoral votes and perhaps +3% in the popular voting.
This is a close race, and Mitt Romney will win the popular vote but will lose in a squeaker in the Electoral College.
Ummmm, no. This is clearly a situation of whistling past the graveyard on the part of Republicans who have forced the media by whining and throwing temper tantrums to phony up data and analysis that shows what they want to believe, that Obama somehow loses.
That the media is owned by a series of right-wing nutballs is fueling this misperception. It’s just another cheat Republicans throw into the mix whenever they need to rally their troops.
That it’s happening at all is the true story of this election and why I feel Obama will win large.
For instance, around November 1, 2008, Barack Obama was pulling around 51% of the popular vote on average. He ended up with an additional two percentage points as “registered voters” suddenly went out and voted. While I do not think that will happen again in such vast numbers, I do believe that Mitt Romney’s support has flattened out, and is even decaying amongst Republicans.
Indeed, several suspicious moves by the Romney camp this weekend suggest that the following idea is in play: Shore up the base votes in states like Pennsylvania and Virginia, so as to lay claim that Romney indeed “won” the popular vote and thus invalidating Obama’s election by the College.
By making Obama seem to be a split decision, they can safely go back to ignoring the President and gridlocking Congress while setting up another round of Help America Vote acts that will incorporate vote suppression tactics like photo ID and such.
Remember, voting is not a right. It’s a privilege. Nowhere in the Constitution is a popular vote deemed a right and it’s only through subsequent legislation and amending that voting even *appears* in the United States legal code.
What this sets up is an interminable disaster of butthurt, failing an Obama landslide, which would be viewed as widespread vote fraud….come on, you didn’t really think they pursued those just for the sake of stopping people from voting, did you? While that charge would fall on mostly deaf ears nationwide, it would “work the ref” for the next close election.
A close win by Obama now would be viewed as the theft of an election — we liberals got a lot of traction in 2004 based on the 2000 results, you might recall — and would be used to focus anger on Obama in particular and progressives in general.
This ten-dimensional chess concerns me a little. While Obama will be able to navigate the minefield of a second term, we liberals tend to poo-poo nonsense from the right wing until it festers and boils over.
Remember, the Teabaggers saw their early roots take hold during the outrages over the Clinton administration, when we could have quashed the burgeoning nutbag right wing movement before it became a blight on the American landscape.
We as a group need to be prepared to argue and fight back here, and we each of us need to take steps now to tamp down the outrage.

A Sense Of Perspective

It’s been interesting reading the national press coverage of Sandy. I haven’t had much opportunity to review what you all have been saying about us behind our backs until this morning.

I like that Romney’s bullshit about FEMA has come back to haunt him and that the bold and brave words he spoke in the quietude of calculation have become hot button panic topics for his campaign.

I understand the need to pander to your base and to attract leaning voters, but my thinking is, if you say something, have the guts to stick by it when gut check time comes. President Ford told us to drop dead when it mattered most. Yes, he regretted it and yes, ultimately he had to eat them, but you’ll notice he still battled Jimmy Carter to a virtual tie, despite pardoning Nixon.

Maybe he had more latitude. Still, it’s been an exercise in evolution to watch Romney wriggle like a catepillar on a hot grill.

Similarly, the “turn” in polling towards Romney seems to underestimate the damage that Sandy created in the telephone networks in the east, as well as being premature to Obama’s handling of the crisis. When Governor Sammich  Chris Christie, an erstwhile vice president name and likely candidate for the nomination in 2016, praises Obama not once but frequently, that’s going to have a lot more import than any six Jeep ads either campaign can run, given Christie’s “independent, tell-it-like-it-is” perception.

Finally, a few people have asked me for an assessment as to whether the national news has the coverage underreported, overestimated or just about right. I think it’s safe to say that the true damage, the true horror of this event, is only just now being reported. Even this morning, another dozen homes went up in flames, 36 hours after the worst of Sandy had passed, because first responders couldn’t get to the site.

Canals that contain enough toxins to qualify for Superfund sites overflowed into residential neighborhoods. The very real threat of typhoid, TB, and other afflictions of neglect (cholera leaps to mind) is now looming over large swaths of the city. The residents of lower Manhattan, poor and rich, have raw sewage drying in their streets and basements. The health effects of this crisis will not unfold in a manner consistent with a 24 hours news cycle.

The progressive case against Obama

Bottom line: The president is complicit in creating an increasingly unequal — and unjust — society, By Matt Stoller, October 27

A few days ago, I participated in a debate with the legendary antiwar dissident Daniel Ellsberg on Huffington Post live on the merits of the Obama administration, and what progressives should do on Election Day. Ellsberg had written a blog post arguing that, though Obama deserves tremendous criticism, voters in swing states ought to vote for him, lest they operate as dupes for a far more malevolent Republican Party. This attitude is relatively pervasive among Democrats, and it deserves a genuine response. As the election is fast approaching, this piece is an attempt at laying out the progressive case for why one should not vote for Barack Obama for reelection, even if you are in a swing state.

There are many good arguments against Obama, even if the Republicans cannot seem to muster any. The civil liberties/antiwar case was made eloquently a few weeks ago by libertarian Conor Friedersdorf, who wrote a well-cited blog post on why he could not, in good conscience, vote for Obama. While his arguments have tremendous merit, there is an equally powerful case against Obama on the grounds of economic and social equity. That case needs to be made. For those who don’t know me, here is a brief, relevant background: I have a long history in Democratic and liberal politics. I have worked for several Democratic candidates and affiliated groups, I have personally raised millions of dollars for Democrats online, I was an early advisor to Actblue (which has processed over $300 million to Democratic candidates). I have worked in Congress (mostly on the Dodd-Frank financial reform package), and I was a producer at MSNBC. Furthermore, I aggressively opposed Nader-style challenges until 2008.

So why oppose Obama? Simply, it is the shape of the society Obama is crafting that I oppose, and I intend to hold him responsible, such as I can, for his actions in creating it. Many Democrats are disappointed in Obama. Some feel he’s a good president with a bad Congress. Some feel he’s a good man, trying to do the right thing, but not bold enough. Others think it’s just the system, that anyone would do what he did. I will get to each of these sentiments, and pragmatic questions around the election, but I think it’s important to be grounded in policy outcomes. Not, what did Obama try to do, in his heart of hearts? But what kind of America has he actually delivered? And the chart below answers the question. This chart reflects the progressive case against Obama.

Why I’m Voting Green

TruthDig, By Chris Hedges, October 29

The November election is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It is not a battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It is a battle between the corporate state and us. And if we do not immediately engage in this battle we are finished, as climate scientists have made clear. I will defy corporate power in small and large ways. I will invest my energy now solely in acts of resistance, in civil disobedience and in defiance. Those who rebel are our only hope. And for this reason I will vote next month for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, although I could as easily vote for Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. I will step outside the system. Voting for the “lesser evil”—or failing to vote at all—is part of the corporate agenda to crush what is left of our anemic democracy. And those who continue to participate in the vaudeville of a two-party process, who refuse to confront in every way possible the structures of corporate power, assure our mutual destruction.

All the major correctives to American democracy have come through movements and third parties that have operated outside the mainstream. Few achieved formal positions of power. These movements built enough momentum and popular support, always in the face of fierce opposition, to force the power elite to respond to their concerns. Such developments, along with the courage to defy the political charade in the voting booth, offer the only hope of saving us from Wall Street predators, the assault on the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, the rise of the security and surveillance state and the dramatic erosion of our civil liberties.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any,” Alice Walker writes.



If Mitt Romney believed he could credibly pull off being both a statesman and a Teatard, well, I’ve got some used horses to sell the army:

Republican Mitt Romney entered Monday night’s debate on foreign policy with the goal of presenting himself as a competent, plausible alternative to President Obama as commander in chief.

But Romney appeared to cede many positions to Obama, moving closer to the president on a range of issues and presenting them in a softer way.

[…] “I’m glad that Governor Romney agrees with the steps that we’re taking,” Obama said at one point. “There have been times, Governor, frankly, during the course of this campaign, where it sounded like you thought that you’d do the same things we did, but you’d say them louder and somehow that would make a difference.”

One of any number of zingers that President Obama got off during the night and this time, he inflicted wounds on his opponent, rather than stand back and let Mitt swallow his own foot.

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