For the foreseeable future, with the election and its acrimony behind us (at least for the most part), I plan to pay some closer attention to the good conservative thinkers and commentators with whom I’ve had only a passing acquaintance in the past.
This week, I read New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s post-election take and found it quite refreshing and insightful. I think his conclusions are largely correct, though I wish he had found more neutral language to describe the two parties’ primary constituencies.
I think it is vital to the future of America that we retain two viable political parties. My home state of California is about to demonstrate to the nation what happens with a nearly 100% Democratic monopoly on the levers of governance and I don’t expect the picture to be as pretty as many of my Democratic friends believe. Great ideas may flow from a group of like-minded individuals sharing control but practical ideas that will appeal to and meet the needs of most voters can only come from bipartisanship.
Douthat is the first conservative commentator I’ve read who has suggested that the Republican Party has a lot of fundamental work, not just on a few policy tweaks but on many broad issues including economic and tax policy, before it if it wishes to become a party capable of winning again.
So many take-aways from tonight’s enormously satisfying Obama win. Here are my favorites, in no particular order.
- If Mitt Romney had let the sincere side he showed in his consummately excellent concession speech show during the campaign, things might have been different. So I’m glad he didn’t. But what a class act he put on in defeat!
- It turns out even hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate dollars that should never have been allowed into the campaigns couldn’t buy the election for the Right, which vastly outspent the Democrats in outside money. Trouble is, this may result in a muted call for campaign finance reform, which I think is one of the most important issues in American politics today.
- Finally the President mentions global climate change, but it’s a throwaway line in the middle of a pulse-pounding segment of his victory speech. I have no confidence he will do anything to address the problem. It is probably too late to save humanity as we know it anyway.
- Former GOP Chairman Michael Steele was sobering, intelligent and articulate on MSNBC after the election. I have come to have great respect for this guy with whom I disagree almost all the time.
- I predicted the Electoral College map with 100% accuracy except for the unknown of Florida as I head for bed. If Romney wins Florida, I can claim some sort of prize; if Obama takes it, I’ll have missed the mark but I won’t be unhappy to have done so.
- OTOH, I badly missed the popular vote margin. I predicted 3%; looks like it’ll be 1-1.25%.
- I’m glad it’s over. I may not comment on politics for weeks and weeks. Or maybe it’ll just be hours and hours.
I am immensely glad that the American people decided to give President Barack Obama a second term. I felt he deserved it and on every issue of importance to me, he was a better candidate and a better leader than his Republican opponent.
But those same American people left the GOP in charge in the House of Representatives while slightly increasing the Democratic Party’s majority in the Senate.
The sum total of which means that barring a change on the part of the House GOP and either filibuster reform or party re-thinking by the Republicans in the Senate, President Obama is in for two more years of constantly trying to get programs adopted with the help of an opposition party which has, so far at least, shown no desire to be helpful.
Newly elected Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine
The Democratic Senate can fix the problem with the filibuster at its first session in January by changing the Senate rules to restrict or abolish the arcane notion that it should always take 60 votes to pass anything in a chamber already prone to sluggishness. They will have a bit more impetus this time to do so; newly elected Independent Senator Angus King of Maine made filibuster reform his primary campaign promise. Nine Democrats — most of whom won tonight — also committed to reforming the ridiculously outmoded rule.
It takes a simple majority of the Senate to alter the rules in the first days of a new Congress. If the Dems want the newly elected Sen. King to caucus with them, he may well demand party support for filibuster reform. If he does, reform is almost guaranteed.
And if that happens, the Senate will suddenly cease to be quite as moribund, and useless, at least partially. We still need to remove the rule that allows a single Senator to put a hold on nominations and bills without identifying himself publicly or providing an explanation for his actions. But it may be too much to expect that this time around.
I’ve never done this before but it felt right this year to make a specific prediction of the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election being held today.
As I see it, President Obama wins re-election fairly handily, though not quite by the semi-landslide margins of 2008. Specifically, I see him winning the popular vote 51% to 48%. In the Electoral College, I think he’ll pick up Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Colorado and Nevada while losing Florida and North Carolina. That combined with the likely locked-in states will give him 303 electoral votes, leaving Mitt Romney with 235.
If you’re interested in my state-by-state predictions, take a look at this interactive map where you can also make your own predictions and share your result and insights like I have here.
I don’t care who you vote for, really, but do get out and vote!
Fifty years from now, it won’t matter a whit who won the 2012 Presidential election in the United States. The entire human race will be focused instead on minimizing the loss of human life to as few tens of millions as possible as global climate change overcomes rumors of its mythical nature and wipes out huge portions of the planet.
Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney has so much as mentioned climate change during the campaign. The President has taken some modest steps toward environmental cleanup but he’s far, far short of the kinds of drastic measures that are now clearly called for. Romney’s site does not, as far as I can tell, even mention climate change. You can use their search box to locate the topic and a bunch of links come up but as far as I can tell, not one of them is on topic.
Climate change is real. Superstorms like Sandy will seem like child’s play in 20 years or less. The new storms will be bigger, more powerful and more frequent. And that will be the least of our problems.
What will it take for our national leadership to recognize the problem and force the kind of change on us that we need to make if we expect humanity to survive even somewhat unchanged? If “Frankenstorm” can’t do it, what will?
The most articulate description of the dilemma we face and the choices we will be forced to make comes in a well-done amateur video called “The Worst That Could Happen.”
You should stop now and watch it. Regardless of your beliefs about climate change (aka global warming in one of the worst misnomers in history), this movie will persuade you that action is preferable to inaction.
It’s already too late to avoid some of the most devastating consequences of our actions. Perhaps extinction of the human species can be avoided. But not if our leaders continue to whistle past the rapidly melting graveyard.
According to press reports, President Obama is getting huge leads in early voting in a number of key states. Reports from various sources this morning indicate that:
- 21% of Ohio voters have already voted with a 66% – 34% Obama lead. (Ohio is about the only crucial swing state left in real play.)
- In Iowa, a Wall Street Journal Iowa Poll shows 18% of TOTAL votes cast in 2008 have been cast early. Obama leads 67% to 32%
- In Nevada, Democrats racked up an 11,000 vote lead in the first day of early voting Saturday
Of course, none of these is an indicator that the Democrats and Obama will carry those states at all and certainly not by those margins. But it is indicative that the Democrats are proving far more effective at getting out the early vote than the GOP.
As I’ve said before repeatedly, this election is just about locked in for Obama despite all the ludicrous national popularity polling that shows this to be a close race. At uberpolling site fivethirtyeight.com, Obama is a 70% favorite to win the Electoral College.
The ground game is going to be determinative, as it almost always is. Republicans have abandoned registration efforts in several states due to a terrible legal snafu with the company they hired to register voters. Reports suggest that in those states their GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts have also flagged as workers become discouraged with the antics of the party apparatchik.
Mitt Romney won tonight’s first Presidential Debate fairly handily, I thought. He looked energetic, sounded smart, articulated well, and contrasted with a professorially desultory President Obama.
But I think Romney’s victory will prove more costly than its real long-term value for three reasons.
First, he all but abandoned the Right on their hot-button issues. He “moderated” his stance on regulation, on tax policy, on Obamacare, and several other topics so far that he came off sounding reasonable. Which the Tea Party will not tolerate.
Second, he lied while flip-flopping on his 18-month-old economic plan and claiming he doesn’t plan to implement any tax cut that increases the deficit.
Third, he came off like a bully in his shabby treatment of moderator Jim Lehrer and the rules of debate.
This story on the Daily Beast this morning should scare everyone who’s even thinking about voting for Mitt Romney on Nov. 6.
It seems that David Twede, a writer whose work includes managing editor of the site MormonThink.com, recently authored and published a series of articles that were critical of the GOP Presidential nominee. He says he was summoned by church authorities to a meeting at which he was repeatedly badgered about his role on the site, the reason he masks his identity there, and instructed to “cease and desist.” The church allegedly plans to excommunicate him on Sept. 30.
As an ex-Mormon who was excommunicated at my request, I can tell you this much: his story rings very true. I was “counseled” on several occasions and threatened with excommunication (before I decided I wanted out anyway) because my political views weren’t in alignment with those of the church. Specifically, I refused to join a church-mandated picket line at a local X-rated theater and I joined the anti-death-penalty vigil outside a prison in Utah when Gary Mark Gilmore was being executed.
This is my biggest concern about Romney as a Mormon. I don’t think his religion ought to be an issue. I admire a lot about the Mormons, frankly. But I am personally aware that the LDS Church doesn’t hesitate to use its power of excommunication as a threat to force members to comply with strictly secular policy making with which they can lightly paint a coat of theology to make it seem unbiased.
Faced with a decision that would potentially violate Mormon positions, would a President Romney risk excommunication or would he bow to the insistence of the church authorities who see themselves holding sway over all of its members and their views on virtually every subject imaginable?
It’s at least food for thought.
(LATE ADDITION: Here is Twede’s predecessor’s message to the magazine and his announcement of his resignation from his life-long church.)
William Kristol and I are on the opposite end of virtually every issue and topic you can imagine. But I have to give the guy props today for making the following comments on GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s absolute tone-deafness when it comes to a major subject in American politics: our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The United States has some 68,000 troops fighting in Afghanistan. Over two thousand Americans have died in the more than ten years of that war, a war Mitt Romney has supported. Yet in his speech accepting his party’s nomination to be commander in chief, Mitt Romney said not a word about the war in Afghanistan. Nor did he utter a word of appreciation to the troops fighting there, or to those who have fought there. Nor for that matter were there thanks for those who fought in Iraq, another conflict that went unmentioned.
Leave aside the question of the political wisdom of Romney’s silence, and the opportunities it opens up for President Obama next week. What about the civic propriety of a presidential nominee failing even to mention, in his acceptance speech, a war we’re fighting and our young men and women who are fighting it? Has it ever happened that we’ve been at war and a presidential nominee has ignored, in this kind of major and formal speech, the war and our warriors?
This is just one more way in which Romney is the candidate in this race who is not in tune with his fellow countrymen, a charge he and his surrogates hurl at President Obama with boring frequency.
But I wonder perhaps if the real problem isn’t just with Romney but with our entire nation. The War in Afghanistan seldom makes the front pages of newspapers, in stark contrast to the Vietnam War which dominated the news for nearly a decade. You can hang out in a lot of coffee shops listening to conversations among all sorts of people from the broad spectrum of politics and never hear the war mentioned. It’s just not part of the national consciousness. This is one of the consequences of an all-volunteer military where it is not true that everyone knows someone who is serving, has served or could be called on to serve in combat.
But Mr. Kristol is right that for a national party’s presidential candidate to ignore an ongoing war in a speech of such importance as was Mr. Romney’s last night is unprecedented. And it speaks volumes of the kind of leader Mr. Romney would be if he were to be sent to the White House.
Matt Taibbi's upcoming (9/13) Rolling Stone piece on GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney is devastating in its detail, accuracy and laser-like focus.
Far from being a bungling, gaffe-emitting lightweight, Taibbi wants us to see Romney for what he really is: "[T]he frontman and apostle of an economic revolution, in which transactions are manufactured instead of products, wealth is generated without accompanying prosperity, and Cayman Islands partnerships are lovingly erected and nurtured while American communities fall apart."
In his piece, Taibbi explains in lucid terms the leveraged buyout (LBO) business in which Romney and his firm, Bain Capital, were engaged, and precisely how it represents in business terms the very thing he inveighs against in the government: massive debt. "Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth," Taibbi charges.
We have forgotten, Taibbi says, that Romney is and has long been a part of the Wall Street gangs of thugs who looted the American economy, nearly brought the world's financial institutions to their knees, and made billions in the process. Not only that, but Taibbi says the highly touted rates of return Bain provided its investors were unspectactular at best and that, but for a provision in the tax code intended to help the middle class keep their homes, Bain would probably not have been able to make even that much of a return.
You owe it to yourself to read this piece. It's the most solid and precise indictment of the man who would be President of the 1% I've read.