Tag: Republicans

GOTV is Always the Key to Mid-Terms; This Time It’s Only Moreso

In this excellent diary on Daily Kos, the wrier points out that Citizens United has actually been biting the Right in the butt for the past couple of years for some fairly complex reasons the piece does a good job of dissecting and explaining.

The Democrats are actually out-raising the Republicans at the party level. Political action groups such as Americans For Prosperity, founded by the infamous Koch brothers, are not making up the difference as fast as had been anticipated. Furthermore, these non-party groups are apparently re-discovering the fact that their spending efforts in the last round of elections was pretty ineffective. As a result, they are spending their money not on flights of TV ads, but more on Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts. It is clear, as it always is, that the party that turns out the largest percentage of its base will emerge victorious in November

Not to be outdone, the Democratic Senate Campaign committee is cranking out in excess of $60 million to support its GOTV efforts. That is an unprecedented number.

GOTVTraditionally, in off-year elections, the Republicans out-perform their Democratic counterparts. There are number of reasons for this, all of which are pretty well documented, and it’s not clear how, if at all, the Democratic Party can reverse that historic trend in 2014. But reverse it they must if the Dems are going to have any chance of avoiding a Republican-controlled Senate for the final two years of Pres. Obama’s term.

So I am encouraging all of my Left-leaning friends not to give so much money this year as time: time on phone banks to get voters registered and to the polls; time at the polls on election day providing transportation and encouragement; and time canvassing precincts to identify every possible Democratic voter.

This is a numbers game. Nationwide, the Progressive agenda has more support on every major platform point than the conservatives. Nonetheless, year in and year out, we find ourselves battling for electoral success. As the election and re-election of Pres. Obama clearly demonstrate, when the Left gets passionate, Liberal politicians and agendas win.

Obama to Bypass Congress, Establish Informal Accord on Global Climate Change

President Barack Obama, who has lately been taking a number of executive actions to circumvent a Congress hell-bent on doing nothing at all, has come up with another solid idea for doing so, this time on global climate change.

Republican congressional members are mostly climate change deniers and anti-science reactionaries. Any global treaty that the Obama Administration would attempt to enter into would run afoul of the need for Congressional ratification by a 2/3 vote. (Another outdated and ludicrous provision of a Constitution badly in need of reform.) So the White House has announced that it will spearhead an effort to get an agreement among the nations of the world on global climate change whose only “teeth” would be a “name and shame” approach.

It’s not promising, it’s not enough, but it’s better than the nothing we’ll end up with if short-sighted and ignorant Republicans get to continue to block any meaningful legislation until Chicago is ocean-front property and all the corn that grows in Kansas — all 500 stalks — comes out pre-popped.


Important Column by Frank Bruni

Frank Bruni is one of the more observant and thoughtful of today’s political columnists. He bends left but he acknowledges the Right’s good ideas. I find him generally helpful in understanding what’s going on in the nation. That’s why his latest column is so important, so chilling and so damning of our current political scene.

He starts off by saying:

More and more I’m convinced that America right now isn’t a country dealing with a mere dip in its mood and might. It’s a country surrendering to a new identity and era, in which optimism is quaint and the frontier anything but endless.

I agree. Not that my opinion matters all that much to more than a handful of people. But it has been my observation for the past couple of years that the core of the capitalist economic and political system is fundamentally broken because it’s based on a faulty assumption: boundless growth. That is a myth, pure and simple, and the system is on the verge of collapse because we can’t shake our addiction to that idea.

no-hopeBruni points out that the American people broadly are disaffected, angry, pessimistic and resigned to their fate. We don’t think our children will have it better than we did. I know mine already don’t. We don’t see a clear leader on the horizon who can solve our problems because the system in which any such leader — if he or she existed — would have to work simply doesn’t. We are mad at President Obama (29% approval), the Supreme Court (30%) and the Congress (7%).

But as Bruni points out, “The tyranny of money, patronage, name recognition and gerrymandering in American politics” guarantees no change through the system. 

We are on our way out as a nation. My kids will grow up in an America that is no longer seen as the best example of how to run a country, how to lead the world, how to take care of your people.

And then global climate change will wipe out huge swaths of humanity as our Planet issues its next verdict of how we’ve treated it.

Only a spiritual awakening among a tipping point of people on the planet can avoid this fate. I remain hopeful that this awakening will happen in time. But then, I’m still optimistic enough to write about this stuff when the end is so clearly in view.


How’s THIS for Consistency? Future Rep. Brat is an Evangelical Randian!

Ayn Rand vs. Jesus. Republicans, pick one or you're doing it wrong.I’ve spent far too much time today reading various analyses from the Left and the Right of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s unexpected and humiliating defeat at the hands of a little-known political neophyte, Dave Brat. At the end of this ill-spent time, I’ve come to two conclusions:

  • Bill Moyers’ Senior Digital Producer Joshua Holland did a much better job of reading, understanding and summarizing the blow flow than I ever could.
  • Brat is a dangerously non-thinking, knee-jerk politician who will be terrible for the nation and for his own Congressional district.

I derived this latter observation from reading a bit about Brat online and found it all neatly bundled into a factual and insightful analysis in Esquire by Charles Pierce.

Brat is not only billed as a professor of economics despite lacking a degree in the field, he is actually the department head of business and economics at tiny Randolph-Macon College, a 1,300-student, four-year school run by the Methodists. (In an irony sure to be a future Trivial Pursuit question, his fellow faculty member, sociologist Jack Trammell, will be his November opponent from the hopelessly outnumbered Democratic Party in the district.)

Here are some pull quotes from the Pierce piece that may help to put Brat into some sort of perspective. As far as I can tell — and I fact-checked these statements to the best of my ability — these are all factually correct observations:

  • Brat has promised to vote against raising the debt ceiling for the first five years he’s in Congress.
  • He says his conservative religious background informs his views on economics.
  • He attacked Cantor for, among other things, voting to raise the national debt (see #1 above), end the government shutdown, and for the Ryan-Murray budget plan.
  • At his victory speech last night, he told supporters that he won because God was speaking through the voters of the Seventh Congressional District of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Among his extremely sparse publishing resume is a paper entitled “An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.” As Pierce wryly observed, “Well, that must have been good for a few laughs.”

Rand was a militant atheist. It’s hard to predict precisely how she’d react to Brat — and a number of other alleged followers who also claim fervor for evangelical Christianity — trying to meld the two completely incompatible philosophical positions. But it appears that consistency isn’t the kind of “deep thinking” in which Brat likes to engage.

Unless Brat proves too much for the general electorate come November (the district is 57% registered Republican), Democrats who are whooping it up over Cantor’s sudden fall may be wishing they had Eric back by the time Brat’s been in Congress a while. Like two weeks. Or until the first vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Presidential Signing Statements Are Undemocratic, But What’s Good for the Goose…

In the current dustup over the decision by the Obama Administration to trade five Guantanamo detainees for the only remaining American POW in Afghanistan, the President seems to rely largely on a signing statement he issued at the time he signed the Defense appropriations bill that included a provision demanding he seek Congressional approval for any transfer of Gitmo detainees.

There is no doubt his actions in the trade are covered by the signing statement. The question is whether a signing statement ought to have the force of law. If they do have that effect, then Obama’s within his rights and the discussion should end. If not, well, then, we have a different issue.

But it should be remembered that Obama’s predecessor used signing statements almost routinely to increase the imperial nature of his Presidency. President George W. Bush used signing statements to challenge about 1,200 provisions of 172 laws he signed — twice as many as all his predecessors combined, according to Kevin Evans, a Florida International University professor who has researched the practice of presidential signing statements. By contrast, Obama, who promised to use signing statements lightly, has used less than 30.

Still, this is a difference in number, not kind or intent. Signing statements date back to at least the Andrew Jackson administration, but that doesn’t make them right or legal. If Congress passes a law, the President has but two choice: sign it into law or veto it. To sign it and then in an accompanying signing statement to indicate he has no intent to enforce or follow the law is at least disingenuous. To allow this practice to usurp Congressional power seems to me a dangerous thing in a democracy.

But it is simply dishonest for Republican leaders today to take Obama to task for the behavior they adored and worshipped in his predecessor, who happened to be one of them. Having raised no hue and cry about their leader’s use of this questionable tactic, they cannot now be heard to scream “unconstitutional” in the face of a member of the opposition party using the same tactic.

As for the specific incident at issue now, I find myself sympathizing with Obama’s position that exigent circumstances presented themselves here that would have endangered the POW’s life if he had taken time in advance to notify Congress 30 days in advance of his plan. I don’t think that language should have been included in the bill to begin with; it’s best to leave foreign policy in the Executive Branch. But having signed it, I think Obama was both bound by it and empowered to override it in these specific circumstances. That’s assuming of course we haven’t been lied to about those circumstances.

GOP House to Military: Pay No Attention to the Crisis Behind the Curtain

The U.S. House of Representatives, in one of the greatest feats of legerdemain since Houdini died, has voted to instruct the United States military not to take climate change into account as a strategic threat to our nation. Folks, you can’t make this kind of stuff up! As Huffington Post said in its incredulous lead to this preposterous story:

The House passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill on Thursday that would bar the Department of Defense from using funds to assess climate change and its implications for national security.

pentagon_climate_change_bushIn the twisted, conspiratorial, anti-anything-Obama-likes minds of the GOP House, this amendment will “prohibit the costs of the President’s climate change policies being forced on the Department of Defense by the Obama Administration,” according to the amendment’s principal sponsor, West Virginia Republican Rep. David McKinley. In other words, this is not about the reality of climate change. Nor is it about the possible strategic significance of those sweeping changes to our military posture. It’s only about opposing President Obama’s agenda, regardless of how much sense it makes. This is the 21st Century equivalent to telling the military to ignore the hordes of Chinese troops coming over the hills into Korea because “we can’t give them the satisfaction of acknowledging their existence.” (No, that didn’t happen. But it might have if that were happening today, only the excuse would be that we have a trade deal with them.) In what universe should the House of Representatives be allowed to dictate to the military what threats it can and cannot consider in its assessment of our nation’s strategic defense? Does this mean that if, e.g., the major technology companies could buy enough Republican Congress Critters, it could dictate that Congress pass a bill telling the military not to worry about cyberwarfare? Or to refuse to buy any virus software that might interfere with some company’s market planning? I am actually aghast that such a ridiculous proposition could get serious floor consideration, let alone  that it could be passed by a House that can’t take effective action on any actually meaningful legislation. Four Democrats voted in favor of this bill and ought thereby alone be disqualified from continuing to claim to be Democrats: John Barrow of Georgia, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, and Nick Rahall of West Virginia. The inmates really are in charge.

Will U.S. Voters Hold GOP Accountable for Inaction?

The burning question of the upcoming 2014 mid-term elections in this country — at least for me — is whether the Republican Party’s clear strategy of avoiding taking any action on anything that could look like progress will backfire or work.

Clearly, the GOP has for the past several years followed a course of inaction and obstruction aimed at one goal: prevent the Democrats from having any policy successes to which to point come election time. Their repeated mass rejection of ideas they originally espoused as soon as President Obama or the Democratic Party supported them is all the evidence required to substantiate that belief. And we also have more than one direct quotation from a Republican legislator affirming that stance.

So if the American people are fed up with partisan gridlock in D.C. and if that drives their voting decision on election day, the issue is whether they will hold the GOP’s feet to the fire for this deliberate obstructionism. Or will they say, “A pox on both your houses,” and vote out incumbents of both parties? Or, worse yet, will they decide that since Obama holds the White House with its apparent (but not real) power center, the problem is with the Democrats?

As in no other year since I began voting nearly 50 years ago, this year’s political process has been stymied by the deliberate posturing of one of the major political parties. How the voters understand and translate that issue may well determine the outcome of the election.


Krystal Ball Lets GOP, Corporate Dems Have It With Both Barrels

MSNBC Commentator and Democratic Strategist Krystal Ball

MSNBC Commentator and Democratic Strategist Krystal Ball

I’ve seen Krystal Ball of MSNBC on Rachel Maddow’s show and on Chris Hayes’ shows but I’ve never watched her on the mid-day portion of “The Cycle.” Today’s Daily Kos newsletter brought to my attention a segment she did recently. The Kos headline summarized her message well. “MUST SEE: Krystal Ball brutally eviscerates the GOP & trashes corporate Dems in one amazing segment.”

This really is MUST SEE TV for anyone interested in why it matters only a little whether the GOP or the Democrats are in charge around here so long as too many members of the “Peoples’ Party” are beholden to the special interests of Wall Street and turning their backs on Main Street. She points out that the Democrats are divided into two groups: pro-corporate and pro-worker. Yep, it’s class warfare, people. Deal with it.

It is safe to say that none of the people whose wealth now puts them into the plutocracy that is strangling our nation would be enjoying that wealth if not for the workers who actually produce the goods. (Well, in the case of the financial industry, that may be less obviously true, but the underlying truth doesn’t change because it’s camouflaged under mountains of papers being shuffled.) That they now treat those workers so shamelessly is so in keeping with the philosophy of Objectivism and the selfishness unabashedly proclaimed by their unspiritual leader, Ayn Rand and her acolytes including Paul Ryan, is nauseating. It’s also well past dangerous for our democracy.

Thanks, Krystal, for making this point so darned eloquently and concisely. And, fellow Lefties, it’s time to raise up against not only Republicans but conservative pro-corporate politicians of whatever political stripe and replace them with elected officials who uphold the fundamentals of a government of the people, by the people, and, yes, for the people.

CA GOP Wants to Kill Its Own

The California Republican Party is so desperate to see the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fail that it is now willing to kill off its own members to support the cause.

The REAL California Health Care Web Site

The REAL California Health Care Web Site

At least that’s the conclusion I draw from the latest News From the Fringe posted on the Daily Kos. The GOP — which is essentially a permanent minority in my state — has created a new Web site with a name that is slightly (but only slightly) similar to the official state health care site at CoveredCA.com but whose content is entirely anti-ACA and intentionally discourages people from wanting to sign up for the new insurance. And since people without insurance risk death from treatable diseases and conditions they can’t afford to get, that action actually can kill people.

I’m not posting the name of the site here both because I don’t believe in helping spread propaganda and lies and because I figure if you’re reading this, you aren’t interested in seeing it anyway. (It’s in the linked Daily Kos article if you’re really curious.)

Just to give you an idea of some of the garbage posted on this Web site, clicking on the “Young People” link takes you to a page that opens with this idiocy: “Young adults will end up paying for much of federal health care reform by subsidizing the cost of sicker people….” Which, of course, is the entire point of insurance of all kinds, whether administered by the government or not. Millions of people pool their resources so that the small percentage of them who encounter a loss won’t be wiped out by it. Fairly elementary. Doesn’t even require a class in economics to understand. But the CA GOP sees this as fair game for scary propaganda.

The Daily Kos piece starts out by saying, “Republicans are horrible people. Period.” I disagree.

Most rank-and-file Republicans I know are decent human beings with whom I disagree on many public policies. Their leaders, on the other hand, can behave pretty despicably. Notice, again, that I’m not characterizing their leaders as people. But sometimes their decisions reflect a case of highly questionable judgment which may well have or seem to have a moral component.

Filibuster Tamed, Can Gerrymandering Be Next?

The news from the United States Senate Democrats today that they finally grew the courage to cripple the undemocratic and illogical filibuster’s use in inappropriate situations came as a totally unexpected breath of fresh air.

By taking this badly needed and long-overdue action, the Democratic Party took a giant step toward re-establishing its badly tarnished bona fides as a party of the people.

And by removing this weapon from the hands of a Republican Party run amok for all but Supreme Court appointments and other non-appointment actions, they have provided the President with clear sailing to move more of his policies and plans into action, to get the government working again.

Now it’s time to turn attention to the next big obstacle to a government that actually works and is responsive to its citizens: gerrymandering. Both parties do it but the Republicans have turned it into an art form. One result: even though votes nationwide preferred Democratic control of Congress over Republican control by more than 1 million votes, the GOP managed a majority in the House. But the gerrymandering that created that monstrosity also brought about the GOP’s present situation in which it is unlikely ever to win the White House again because the electorate is angry, frustrated and completely disenchanted with their cheap dirty tricks.

If we can lick gerrymandering (California did it and provides an excellent model) and then reverse or nullify the horrific Citizens United decision by the Bush-Reagan Supreme Court, we may be on our way to getting our democracy back into our hands again.

No mean feats, those, but yesterday’s news gives me some amount of encouragement.