Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fair and Balanced

I'm someone who hates cable news, mainly because they are largely just propoganda rags for political parties and corporate shills, however I have to say I was surprised to read a response to Ryan's speech on

Now, I have to preface this by saying that I didn't get to watch much of Paul Ryan's on TV before Robin got disgusted and switched the channel, but I did catch the rest of it online. While I was stunned about the sheer amount of distortions and BS that flowed out of Ryan's mouth, I have to say reading the following article on pretty much nailed it.

Elections should be about competing based on your record in the past and your vision for the future, not competing to see who can get away with the most lies and distortions without voters noticing or bother to care. Both parties should hold themselves to that standard. Republicans should be ashamed that there was even one misrepresentation in Ryan’s speech but sadly, there were many.

She did a great job breaking it down the facts, and what Ryan conveniently avoided, so rather than regurgitating it here, I recommend following the link and reading the article.

And on, no less.  Wow.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Democracy requires informed citizens... and humor


Of course, I'd rather read the paper online, but it's pretty much the same thing. ;)  I'd rather read an article any day over watching a 30 second news soundbite on TV.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to ignore demographic trends and lose elections

 I am Jack's complete lack of surprise after reading this Politico article.
Mitt Romney is on track to lose the Latino vote by a wider margin than any Republican presidential candidate in over a decade, and strategists in both parties say he may have made a bad situation worse with his selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.
As Gomer Pyle used to say, "Surprise! Surprise!"

The Republican ticket’s dire position among Latinos has even stirred some hope among Democrats — and apprehension among some Republicans — that back-to-back smashing victories by President Barack Obama could move Latino voters in the Democratic column in a more durable way that could put the GOP at an electoral disadvantage for decades.
Forget this election, it's pretty darn obvious that demographic trends show that the latino vote is growing and is having a serious impact on elections.  Why on God's green Earth would a party purposely shooting themselves in the foot for future elections... except then I remember that the GOP has always framed themselves as the "Culture Warriors", boldly striving for a vision of the 1950s when the country is completely different six decades later...

Obama’s lead over Romney among Hispanic voters in national polling hovers around and even above the 40 percent mark. Last month, a Latino Decisions survey showed Obama touching 70 percent of the vote and leading by 48 points. An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll conducted in late July found Obama taking 67 percent of Latinos to Romney’s 23 percent. The POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll published Monday placed that lead at 62 percent to 26 percent.
In other words, Obama’s commanding lead has not diminished and may be cemented in place. Univision anchor Jorge Ramos framed the Republican dilemma in a tweet after Ryan was announced as Romney’s ticket mate: “?How can [Paul Ryan] attract the Hispanic vote? If Republicans don’t get a third of the Latino vote they won’t get the White House back.”
Ouch.  I mean... Ouch.

Ryan has the potential to be an appealing figure for some of the culturally conservative, family- and business-oriented sectors of the electorate, including Latinos. He’s a young, Catholic family man who’s as free market as they come. 
He’s also a member of a Republican Congress that many Latinos view as a hostile entity. Latino Decisions found that by a 51-point margin, Latinos oppose cuts to Medicare — an even wider margin than the electorate at large, according to some polls. A footnote to his career that could harm him with Cuban-Americans in particular: In 2009, Ryan expressed skepticism about the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, though he has since revised that stance.

He revised his medicare plan as well, but how is that working out for him? While I agree with Ryan about the Cuban embargo (why do we treat Cuba as an existential threat, when communist China has most favored nations status?), you can already imagine Obama's commercials bringing this up for the Cuban American market in Florida.

To the most optimistic Democrats, Romney’s choice of running mate points to a much starker conclusion on the Latino vote: that the Republican presidential nominee has essentially decided that he cannot make up much ground with that constituency and needs to compensate by running up his vote total with white Midwesterners and other center-right groups. 
The Romney campaign and its allies reject that idea, but there’s been little indication over the past few months that they are making a concerted push to prompt a reassessment from Latinos turned off by Romney’s primary-season rhetoric on immigration. 
He has not shifted his position on immigration in a way that could win over skeptical voters despite being urged to do just that by figures on the right as prominent as Rupert Murdoch. While Romney has run ads in Spanish, he has drawn criticism for using rough, literal translations of his English commercials — not messages developed uniquely for the Latino community. 
“The Romney campaign passing over Marco Rubio for VP could mean they think there is little they can do to win back Latino voters this year — that the community’s support for Obama is so strong that Republicans need to look elsewhere for votes,” said Texas-based Democratic strategist Ed Espinoza, a former western political director of the Democratic National Committee.

I'm have no doubts that Republicans reject that idea. They reject everything Democrats say. ;)  Seriously, it's pretty darn obvious that Romney has largely written off the latino vote and is hoping the "jobs jobs jobs" message will win the day.

Once again, I go back to Senator Marc Rubio.  He's a tea party latino who is very popular in Florida, which happens to be one of the biggest and most important swing states this election. If Romney would have chosen him for VP, it would have energized the base (ie, the tea party getting one of their own in the VP slot) but it also would have put Obama on the defensive. Instead, Romney shot himself in the foot again by giving more ammunition to Obama.

Oh well, Senator Rubio.  If the GOP ever figures out that going for the latino vote matters, then there is always four years from now...

Going off message

Rarely has President Truman's "Do Nothing Congress" phrase ever been as relevant as it has been today, however most Americans don't seem to understand that the President needs Congress to actually pass a law for him to sign. Given the amount of "Obama hasn't fixed the economy" complaints I hear each day, it's brutally obvious that most of the population has no clue that the executive branch doesn't write legislation, and can only encourage Congress to pass something from the White House's soapbox.

Given that, Romney has very much benefited by tossing out generalities to the crowd, not being specific, and framing the election not on issues, but primarily as a referendum on Obama. While that does the electorate a disservice (as those specifics and issues should completely dominate every single election), it's simply political reality.

Unfortunately, he went off message by picking Paul Ryan. The medicare argument has changed the election from the primary choice being a referendum on Obama's performance as president, but now the electorate has a stark choice when it comes to Medicare: one of the most popular programs in the history of the US.

By constantly railing on how Obama care cut $700 billion from Medicare two years ago, the GOP helped smash the Democrats in the mid-term elections. Now voters have the choice between the guy who cut Medicare and the guy who would gut Medicare.

How do you think that is going to play out with elderly voters? Ryan's latest plan keeps Medicare for folks who are currently 55 and above, but guess what? Don't those seniors have children and grandchildren? Ryan's plan is popular with conservatives, but frankly those people were already voting for Romney. He needs to win folks in the middle.

So, rather than picking a boring candidate (like white bread Pawlenty) or a bold candidate that could help cut into Obama's demographic strengths (like hispanic Rubio), he picked the guy who wrote a congressional budget that has extremely specific details in it to seriously contrast with Romney's empty generalities. Now Romney is now seriously tied to a specific plan that is unpopular to a large percentage of Americans, and the successful "referendum on Obama" message that has been presented to the independent voter is being replaced with a message that is deeply unpopular with non-conservative Americans.

By going off message, he's given Obama his best shot yet at recapturing Florida and winning that second term. It's certainly no done deal, but Romney really needs to stop handing Obama ammunition if he wants to actually win the election.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Romney should have picked Rubio

Ignore national polls. They are nice, but that isn't how the President is elected. (If it was, the Gore would have been president during 9/11.) 

Instead, focus on state polls and electoral college maps. One that I recommend is from Real Clear Politics (the link is below). RCP is right-leaning, but are pretty damn accurate in their methodology, unlike FOX, which twists themselves into pretzels trying to convince themselves that McCain had a chance.

When it comes to that map, the stuff in blue and red (regardless of shade) is pretty darn reliable. Those states will cast their electoral vote for the party in question. The real question is who gets the toss up states. On RCP's map, those are in grey.

Right now it projects that Obama has 237 electoral votes and Romney has 191. They need 270 to win, so Obama is just short 33 while Romney is short 79. This means that Romney could win virtually every single toss up state, but if Obama just grabs Florida (29) and New Hampshire (4), then he's won a second term.

Now, on the toss up column, click on each state and you'll see the latest polling. What you'll see is that Obama is narrowly winning every single one of them, except North Carolina. North Carolina's 15 electoral votes aren't enough for Romney to win, so if the election was held today, Obama would have a second term.

It's still way too early, but it's a nice place to be before the election.

Overall, Republicans are raising money like crazy, and that money will ultimately flood the airwaves of those toss up states, but Obama doesn't have to win over nearly as many as Romney does.  Romney is going to need that money to try turning the tide in all of those states, although that won't be the magic bullet to solve his unfavorability problem. Unfortunately for him, money doesn't buy elections. If it did, Meg Whitman would be the Governor of California. 

Speaking of bad news for Romney, there are only a few more planned events to turn the national mood (each party's convention & the debates), and those don't look good for Romney. Conventions are almost always a wash when it comes to polling data, and I'm highly skepetical that Romney is going to out debate Obama. Again, back to the favorability argument.

Finally, speaking of Ryan as Romney's VP pick: Ryan is the mastermind behind the GOP's "let's replace medicare with vouchers for a fixed amount of money" plan.  How do you think that is going to play out in Florida?   Frankly, I don't see "Medicare gets phased out and you are shit out of luck when you get older." being a great selling point for most of the country either...

Regardless, if Florida goes to Obama, the election is over. Romney would have to win every single toss up state to win, and the odds of that aren't good. The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that Romney should have picked Rubio as his VP candidate.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Because Americans care about the Vice President

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I don't think it matters who Romney picks as VP.  He'll either pick someone as milquetoast and forgettable as he is, or someone so far right to make himself unelectable.  I mean, who is seriously in the running that doesn't fit that description?

Ryan?  The "let's replace medicare with vouchers for a fixed amount of money" guy?

Goodbye Florida., hello second term.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Facts and Tax Plans

It's bad enough to say how you are going to fix the problems in your economic plan by cutting tax loopholes... while not being able to identify a single loophole you would cut... but it's another when a group of ta experts that support you politically point out that your tax plan is really about supporting the rich to get richer.

Tax experts — including one who supports Romney’s plan — say the Republican presidential candidate’s promise to cut individual income tax rates without either favoring the wealthy or losing revenue isn’t mathematically possible. 
That’s the conclusion of the Tax Policy Center in a report the Romney campaign attacked as “biased” (although the campaign previously praised the TPC as “objective,” when it issued a report critical of a rival’s tax plan). 
And it’s also the conclusion of an expert from the pro-business Tax Foundation, who states that the Tax Policy Center analysis “correctly identified the Romney plan as a tax cut, at least in static terms, that accrues mainly to high-income earners.”

All this from that bastion of liberalism,

Friday, August 3, 2012

No man is an island, but plenty of them are idiots

I'm all for people working hard and creating their own business via their own blood, sweat and tears, but don't kid yourself that you don't reap the benefit of living in this country. The free market sure as heck didn't build the interstate highway system, but businesses (and our country as a whole) certainly profited due to the highway systems existence.

Speaking of which, I seem to recall that Eisenhower and congress authorized the interstate highway system project ("largest public works program since the Pyramids") during a time where the post-WWII debt crisis was far worse than today. People forget about the massive borrowing and spending we did during WWII to win the war, and the recession that happened afterwards. Not only did it economically benefit the country, but the massive employment for road construction sure as heck helped as well.

Alas, Dwight Eisenhower was a rare breed of Republican that is long since dead. Color me skeptical that we'll ever see another like him from the GOP.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Who would have guessed?

"The Republican Party is more pure, but the nation is unchanged, saddled with more debt than when the GOP won the House majority. The gap between who Republicans want to be and who they are is profound, and it’s clear that another election — even if Mitt Romney wins the presidency — might not change their ability to put a truly conservative imprint on Washington."

Well no shit, Sherlock. Nice to see that Politico can sense the obvious. Anyone who bothers looking at how congress works (or even just how the filibuster works in the Senate) should know that no political party can reshape Washington by itself. It takes one senator to deep six any legislation, and no political party can realistically reach that threshold in today's political environment. Case in point, while most people know about the recent short lived Democratic super majority that existed for a bit during the last congress (the six months between Al Franken finally being seated as a senator and Scott Brown's election), the last time a super majority existed for either party in the Senate was over thirty years ago. Imagining that somehow in this even more polarized environment that any party could reach that threshold and then pull off the cohesion required to completely reshape government policy to match their ideological vision is absolute candy land. Read a little bit more into article and you run into these gems:

"In their defense, Republican lawmakers are quick to tick off lists of their accomplishments, each of which required compromise with Senate Democrats and the White House."

Ta-da! Guess what? If you want to get shit done in Washington, you need to compromise to get the trains moving on time and in the direction you want. Nothing gets done if you can't muster a super majority in the Senate, which almost always requires playing ball with the other side. When you continually refuse to compromise with the other side, and accuse anyone in your party who does of betrayal, go figure that Congress will continually fail the country. Perhaps pulling one's head out of their ass and learning how bills are passed would be a useful skill set for congressmen and those that elect them.

"Young contends voters chose to put the government in neutral for a reason and that Republicans have gone above and beyond the expectations of a minority party by passing bills that show where they would lead if given control of both houses of Congress and the White House."

Alas, some people never learn. Unless there is a massive GOP sweep in the Senate *and* they retain the House *and* Romney wins, there is absolutely no chance any of these fantasy land ideas will materialize. Remember universal health care? Did you notice how that didn't happen, even during the six months that the Democrats had the Presidency, the House, and the Senate super majority? Does anyone seriously believe that either party will have that in 2013 or 2014? If so, I have a bridge to sell you.

"LaTourette said Republicans who want to make deals now face angry taunts: “You’re a coward; you’re a facilitator; you’re an appeaser; you’re a RINO” — a Republican In Name Only."

And there you go. This is the reason Congress is broken right now, and will continue to be broken for the foreseeable future. Bitching about why your party hasn't achieved its goals, while simultaneously preventing your elected officials from even taking incremental steps to them is a total recipe for disaster.

“I think part of the reason the American people chose a divided government is because they wanted Washington to slow down and have more open and transparent debates on some big issues. If your measuring stick is the number of bills that have been passed, you’re probably going to be disappointed,” he said.

Transparent debates? Sounds good to me. So how is that working out?

The distance between who Republicans set out to be and how they’ve ended up governing is striking in other areas. Here’s one example: The promise to run the most open House in history is hardly that. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) doesn’t talk to the press corps on a regular basis or in an open format to discuss the House floor schedule, which his predecessors as majority leader — Tom DeLay, Steny Hoyer, John Boehner and Dick Armey — all did. When reporters have inquired when he will restart, his staff has been dead silent. At a recent press conference, he made his statement and escaped before reporters could ask a question. Doug Heye, his communications director, said that “we have worked to increase the majority leader’s accessibility to the media” by sitting him down with small groups of reporters.

So, not so well, then. I'm sure electing more GOP (or Democrats for that matter) is really going to change that equation... Clearly, high schools need to focus on teaching civics, because apparently most voters don't have a god damned clue as to how Washington works.