Overnight Open Thread

The Giants won Game 4 tonight. Will they clinch the World Series tomorrow?

Quien sabe?

Talk about anything (including politics) until morning.



Halloween Night Semi-Open Thread

Not Christine O'Donnell


I just returned from my oldest son’s house, and I can assure you that my grandkids are cuter than yours. (With or without their costumes)

So what are doing tonight? Are you dressing up? Going trick-or-treating? Passing out candy?

Hiding in the house with the lights off?

I’m planning on watching Game 4 of the World Series dressed as a drunken Giants fan.

This is a semi-open thread. You can talk about almost anything you want EXCEPT politics.

Let me repeat that:


NO POLITICS ALLOWED

Not tonight, not here, not in this thread. This is a politics-free zone.

We all need a little break; a chance to can relax and unwind. All that crap will still be there tomorrow.

So have fun tonight! (or else)




The War on Teachers Ignorance III: What Could Work

(The title is inspired by Historiann’s excellent post. Also a note: unlike most of the things I blog about, teaching is what I’ve done professionally for decades. I taught in universities, not schools, but the two aren’t totally unrelated.)
Part I, Part II

If you need a metaphor for education it’s not work or play or a factory or a ladder. It’s a journey. People join at different points, and leave at any point. No power on earth can keep them on it if their minds don’t want to go. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s mind-altering, sometimes it’s a real slog, and sometimes the fleas force a change of plan. The same people are guides or need guides for different things at different times. Sometimes the travellers learn things on the road that are useful in the next village. Sometimes they climb mountains and see the whole world spread out before them.

Certification — whether it’s a cosmetology degree, a B.A,. or an M.D. — is the commuter traffic of that journey. The roads used, however, still have to be in good condition. Better, if anything, to withstand all that traffic. The necessary aspects of education still have to be done right, even if all anyone wants is a piece of paper for the wall. Where that’s most important is at the foundation: in schools. Continue reading

So what do we do with those idiots?


It seems to be an article of faith among both sides of the political spectrum that the people on the other side are evil, stupid or both. The only difference is the terms that get used when they call each other names.

Both sides are convinced that they are morally superior, more intelligent and better looking than the other side. Left and right both agree that if “they” win “we” are screwed. They both keep the hyperbole knobs turned up to eleventy on their rhetoric generators.

Do you think that maybe we should dial things down a notch or two?

Jon Stewart:

Continue reading

Afternoon Musical Interlude: Revenge of the old, uneducated, working class, post menopausal people the Democratic party used to call its voters

Hey you Obots, you hippy punchers, you nasty, sexist, snooty, self described “creative class” Obama supporters who pushed us under the bus in 2008 because *you* didn’t need us anymore.  You’ve spent the last couple of years pushing the rest of the working class over to the Tea Party with your condescending ridicule of Sarah Palin and your accusations of racism.  How’s that strategy working for you?

There’s a pretty good chance you and your sycophantic Obama toesucking congresscritters are going to get their asses kicked on Tuesday by the rest of the country who you bullied into voting for Obama instead of the girl you picked on.  Some of us have been waiting two years for this and by golly, if you haven’t delivered the lamest, most feckless set of legislative actions in centuries to prove we were right about everything we thought about you.

Good luck on Tuesday because the working class, uneducated, menopausal, bitter, gun toting women and men you blew off and called racists are going to pick themselves up and toss you under the bus- in front of a speeding train.

Go, Big Dawg!

Sunday News – All Hallow’s Eve Edition

Boo!!

Happy Halloween Conflucians!! What are you dressing as today and tonight? I hope you all have a great Halloween.

Other than bats in the belfry, let’s see what else is spooky out there. Some fun yesterday was the Steward/Colbert rally yesterday. I quite liked Jon’s sentiment at the end. He basically echoed what we’ve been saying for a long time. Namely that all this crap and mud slinging and race baiting and nastiness on both sides is causing great harm. He called progressives out as much as he called wingers out. Which was such a change where we tend to only ever see wingers called out and hardly ever progressives called out except here and a few other places. More of that please. It was also nice to see his message of hope about how real Americans are out there working together and get things done, unlike people in washington or in the MSM. I liked it. Here’s a bit of the Miami Herald’s take:

“This is not . . . to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do,” Stewart said as he turned serious in his closing remarks. “But we live now in hard times, not end times. We can have animus and not be enemies.”

He lambasted the cable TV news mentality that amplifies outrageous statements, stokes fear and seeks out confrontation, singling out the left-wing media for equating tea partyers with racists and the right-wing media for “the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims.”

“The press can hold its magnifying class up to our problems,” he said. “Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire. . . . The press is our immune system. If they overreact to everything we get sicker.”

The message struck a chord with the large throng of people; the National Park Service no longer provides official estimates of crowds, but the National Mall was densely packed with many tens of thousands of people.

“It’s the first time a message like this has resonated with me,” said Jonathan Dugan, 37, a product engineer who flew from San Francisco to stand on the mall on a sunny fall afternoon. “We need to get people to talk to each other in a meaningful way.”

So as you’d expect, politics is in much of the news. WaPo has a bit about Obama’s “closing arguments” for the election:

Obama laid out a sharp contrast between his party’s agenda and the GOP, saying that Republicans have done little but play politics as his party has made hard choices to revive the economy, change the health-care system and regulate the finanical industry.

“We don’t want to relive the past. We’ve tried what their selling and we’re not buying,” he said. “We’re not going back.”

While Obama told supporters that the election two years ago wasn’t about him, Democrats are betting that his lingering appeal among first time voters, African-Americans and Hispanics will boost turnout – in Philadelphia volunteers handed out leaflets with a picture of Obama and his wife on one side and a plug for Rep. Joe Sestak, running for the Senate, and Dan Onorato, who is running for governor, on the other side. Polls show Onorato trailing behind Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, and Sestak gaining ground on former Republican congressman Pat Toomey.

But the best part, and why I didn’t think of this before, he’s now out talking about, wait for it, party unity after the election, sort of:

Whatever the outcome of Tuesday’s election, it’s time to put aside partisanship, President Obama is telling Democrats and Republicans.

Yet his appeal for unity includes a jab at GOP leaders in the House and Senate for comments that the president said were troubling.

House minority leader John Boehner of Ohio “actually said that ‘this is not the time for compromise,’ ’’ Obama said yesterday in his weekly radio and Internet address. The president added that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky “said his main goal after this election is simply to win the next one.’’

The address was released shortly before Obama left Washington for a day of campaigning in Philadelphia, Bridgeport, Conn., and Chicago. The three states have competitive House and Senate races, as does Ohio, where the president was slated to hold a rally today in Cleveland.

In the weekly Republican address, Boehner said Obama has failed to deliver the change he promised. The man who probably would become House speaker if Republicans win control of the chamber also promoted party pledges to cut spending and keep taxes at current levels.

Meanwhile Bill Clinton is out campaigning his ass off. He was in Youngstown yesterday:

Clinton spoke to a crowd of 1,800 to 2,000 people, most of whom stood rather than sit during his speech, at Mr. Anthony’s.

The former president urged the audience to vote and urge others to do the same for the Democratic slate, particularly Gov. Ted Strickland.

“Where’s the enthusiasm gap? Where is it?” yelled Yvette McGee Brown, the Democratic lieutenant governor nominee. “You guys do us proud. We are winning on Tuesday because of you! I just want to tell you, this has been a long year. There are people who counted us out just like people counted out the Valley.”

National polls have shown that those most likely to vote lean Republican.

But Strickland said momentum is swinging in favor of Democrats at the right time.

Republicans “won this race in August,” he said. “We’re going to win this race in November, when it really counts.”

And Bill is returning to Orlando to help Meeks again in his campaign. You know, the guy the media lied about and said Bill pushed out of the race, even though everyone disagreed before they ran those stories. The Miami Herald article includes some of that:

Clinton will join Meek and the state’s other major Democratic Party candidates at a last-minute voter rally Monday night in Orlando, the Democratic Senate candidate’s campaign said Saturday.

The announcement comes after two days of media reports over whether Clinton privately asked Meek to step aside and endorse Crist, who left the Republican party to run as an independent. Meek and Clinton have denied those reports, even those confirmed by Clinton’s spokesman.

Both Meek and Crist trail Rubio, the tea party-backed Republican. To win, Crist would need at least some of the Democrats who plan to vote for Meek.

Meek has accused Crist of starting the rumors about Clinton and says Crist directly asked him to withdraw.

“I think he’s a nice guy, but I don’t think that that plays a role and I think it’s wrong to try to paint me into the corner and say that I’m the reason why he’s not winning,” Meek told reporters at Wilton Manors city hall, where he and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz were courting early voters. “I don’t blame the position of my campaign at any time on any other opponent.”

It was Meek’s only public event Saturday. He was resting up for 24 hours of nonstop campaigning across much of the state, beginning Sunday night in Tampa.

Meek said the rumors about him possibly dropping out of the three-way race have energized his supporters.

“What some meant for bad ended up being for good. People are now awakened of their responsibility to get out to vote,” he said. “Because now the ant bed has been kicked. Folks are highly disappointed.”

The other big news of the day was the apparent terrorist plot to blow up some synagogues in the Chicago area. It’s now being reported that Yemen has made some arrests:

Yemen has arrested a female student suspected of mailing the explosive parcels from the country to the US that sparked a global security alert, sources say.

The arrest took place on Saturday in the capital, Sanaa, after security forces surrounded a house where the suspect was hiding.

The woman’s lawyer said she was a “quiet student” with no known links of religious or political groups. Her mother was also detained, but was not a prime suspect, the lawyer said.

A Yemeni security official said the woman, a medical student in her 20s, had been traced through a telephone number she left with a cargo company.

Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, confirmed her arrest, saying: “Yemen is determined to fight terror but will not allow anyone to intervene in its affairs.”

Security officials have been on high alert since the UK and the United Arab Emirates intercepted two packages containing explosive material that were being shipped by air from Yemen to synagogues in Chicago.

Who’s to know if that person really had anything to do with anything. They need an arrest and need it now. I’m not sure the truth really matters. But we’ll watch the events unfold. BBC has a list of Sunday papers with stories on this issue.

In other news of the world, Brazil is having elections, and with all the economic problems, the main race is about which candidate is the crazier religious wacko:

The pocketbook is battling the pulpit in Brazil’s presidential elections Sunday, as government candidate Dilma Rousseff faces opposition leader Jose Serra in a runoff election to lead this burgeoning economic power of 190 million people.

Issues that most Brazilians thought didn’t belong in national politics — in particular, abortion — have taken center stage, and both candidates are catering to the concerns of evangelical and Roman Catholic voters.

By abandoning her previous public stance on liberalizing the country’s anti-abortion laws, and attending church before the television cameras, Rousseff, a former atheist, appears to have outmaneuvered Serra. A national poll Thursday night gave her a 13-point advantage over the former governor of Sao Paulo state.

That’s some crazy shit. And I thought my congressional race was bad.

That’s a bit of what’s in the news. Chime in with what you’re doing for Halloween and what else you’re finding in the news.

DT’s Voting Strategy

Background

I won’t forget 2000, 2004, or 2008. Our democracy was tarnished, torn, and battered on those election years. Perhaps we never had the democracy I always thought we had, but I know we don’t have it now. And that cynical, cruel, destructive action from the political machine has nearly destroyed this country.

Of course what made 2008 much worse for us was it was our party. They tore at the very fabric of society and left a large scar we still see today. It wasn’t enough that they cheated in many of the caucuses, hardly democracy anyway. No, they could even stop at that to steal the election. They went the extra mile, rubbing salt in the wounds, by stealing a whole states worth of primary votes, and then when that wasn’t enough for the heartless greedy soulless appetites, they didn’t even have a roll call and count the votes. Clearly for fear that the real winner might somehow still win. On that day we learned they were the same corrupt corporatist machine as the Republicans. No damn difference. They make different noises, and they throw in a few bones, but on the big issues, they’re the same.

Many in the Democratic party where abused, called old, called women (to them an insult by itself), called Republicans anyway, and called racist. They told anyone in the Democratic party, that if they didn’t like what they did at the convention, they could leave. They weren’t wanted, or needed. The New Democratic party had a new coalition now. They were made up of, funny enough, Republicans, mostly moderate, independents, and young people of no particular political persuasion or philosophy because to them it was all about personality and a messiah. They were made up of a solid group of African Americans some of whom were uncomfortable with how things happened, but understandably wanted an African American president more than anything. And on top of this new coalition were the party elites. You know the ones. The ones that never really liked that working class people were in their party. Never were really comfortable with, you know, little people. And funny enough, mostly white upperclass “progressives” that aren’t comfortable with people of color either, but this new choice gave them what they thought was a get out of bigot jail free card. But make no mistake, the party elite don’t particularly like the members of the new coalition any more than they liked the old group.

So from this, we got a New Democratic president and a supermajority in both houses of congress. Almost unprecedented power not seen in quite a while. With that power and by the winning margins, they had a large mandate to be and do anything different that Bush. They could have easily wiped out injustice in our laws towards women and LBGT and minorities. They could have reformed health care, bringing in at a minimum a public option. They could have made great strides economically with FDR style work stimulus programs. They could have performed a miracle not seen since FDR himself. But what did we get? We got none of that. We got the most cynical health care bill that does the opposite of what it should. It forces people to buy private insurance with massive loopholes allowing no caps and still the ability of the insurance company to effectively kick you out of your plan when you get sick. It puts more power and money in the hands of insurance companies. It is in a word, criminal. And we’ve seen us move backwards in women’s rights. And for DADT, we see the courts pushing forward and this very president pushing us backwards. And that’s nothing compared to the continuation of spying on Americans, wars, and now hit lists of American citizens.

Lessons Learned

The bottom line, the last four years of this same group running congress and the last two years of our president, has been as bad as the other party. Make no mistake, it makes me very sad to say that. My former party has unabashedly become puppets to the corporatists, and they don’t even hide it any more. They make it clear with their actions and sadly even often with their words, that they don’t care about Americans or American. Same as the other party. These two parties are both bad for America. And the saddest thing I’ve noticed, I think this new found power of this New Democratic party makes them even more susceptible to doing the bidding of the oligarchy because they so desperately want to hold on to the power normally granted to the other party.

And so, I resigned from my party of more years than I care to remember. That party does not represent me. Sadly for me there isn’t a major party that represents me. So I am independent. I’m proud to be a liberal independent.

Strategy Basics

Now that I’ve set the stage for you, met me say a bit about my voting strategy. Firstly, party affiliation is irrelevant to me. Those are clearly nothing more than tribes or gangs or country clubs. They mean nothing. As we have sadly learned. As far as I can tell, you can’t tell an individuals values from the party or lack of party to which they belong. You can make some guesses that a Democrat might be more to the left on many issues than a Republican. But you could easily be wrong. So I discount that.

So what’s left. Like with picking a presidential candidate during the primaries, you look at their experience, their record, you watch and listen, and you analyze. You look at who their supporters are, who they associate with, and who their backers are. Some of those are hard to find. But you dig anyway. Sometimes you meet them or see them at rallies. You try not to be taken in by celebrity or charisma or outward looks and charm. That’s not what you’re hiring them for. You do your homework. No one is going to be the same as you on all issues. And sadly I think the longer a politician is in office, the less likely they’ll have integrity and any semblance of what’s best for their constituents. It very quickly becomes about holding power and doing what the powerful want. So how long someone has been in office is a major factor, no matter how much you may think you like them.

Candidate Choices

First there are zillions of candidates and other choices on ballots. So there can be a lot of work. I do look at some organizations material showing their choices and why. We’ve all learned to be wary of such organizations because they have their own agendas. They’re not in it for you, they’re in it for themselves. So verify.

If you’re lucky, you have some choices. If there are more than two party candidates, you may even have some very good choices. Green or other liberal parties often have good choices. Sometimes independents are great. And on occasion the New Democratic party candidate might be great. Sestak comes to mind.

And as mentioned above, how long they’ve been in office is a major factor for me. Perhaps there could be a formula for this that takes away points for every year they’re in office. And then maybe points for matching issues, and independence of funding, etc., etc. We’ll leave that for another post.

Alas, what happens when there isn’t a good choice. What do you do? You can either vote for the lesser of two evils, write in Elvis, or something else.

Other Factors – The Protest Vote

Finally, there is indeed another dimension to this. The something else mentioned above. If you don’t have a great candidate, which sadly is often, there is the protest vote. This can be either to punish or mess up the tribe you’re more likely to be aligned with politically, say Democrats, or it can be to just generally fuck with the two main parties and keep them changing and scrambling. That is, throw wrenches in the works to slow them down.

Why would you consider doing this? After all, the other party is at least 2% more evil. Wouldn’t that help them? Yes, yes it would. And yes, they are a bit more evil. I’m a liberal, and to me, that’s still true despite what we’ve seen happen to the Democratic party. But that’s not the point. Let me put that another way, THAT’S NOT THE POINT! Here’s the point. And we’ve made this point a million times at this blog and still people don’t quite get it. If you will vote for the Democrat over the Republican every time, no matter what, because they are indeed ever so slightly better than the other guy, then why on earth would that party ever, ever, ever listen to you and your wishes and needs? I mean EVER. If they have your vote no matter what, you don’t have any value to them. That’s worth a simpler rephrasing to make sure it sinks in. YOU HAVE NO VALUE IF THEY CAN COUNT ON YOUR VOTE!!!

I think I made that clear. So if you don’t like what your slightly less evil party is doing or your slightly less evil candidate is doing or is about, don’t vote for them. Don’t vote for the lesser evil of the candidates. just don’t vote for them. Don’t do it. Don’t reward that party for putting up crap candidates.

So what choices do you have with your protest. You can actually vote for the other major party. That one is a tough one. Well, not so tough if that candidate is actually relatively moderate. And even on occasion actually more liberal than the one in your party (or closest equivalent). But usually that’s a really tough thing to do. You have to be brave and hold your nose. Now that I think about it, it’s just like how my old party has made me vote for them for years. Come to think of it, they’ve trained me quite well to do that. Not so hard perhaps.

But if that’s too much, another choice is to not vote for either candidate, none of the above if available, or to write in a nonsense candidate. Or, even though mentioned above as a reasonable option, some may consider voting for third party candidates to be in this protest camp. I like that last approach because it’s a twofer. You’re actually voting for someone pretty good, and your protest and and affecting the Democratic party.

My Vote

So what am I going to do. I won’t bore you with all the smaller local candidates like dog catcher or referendums like should we ban coffee houses from using pink whipped cream. OK, I made that one up. But I do have a congressional race to vote for that’s of interest. FYI: Here’s the League of Women Voters sheet on my district ballot (warning, link is to PDF). I get a lovely choice of candidates for congress. (Yes, that’s a snark.) First is the Democrat Tom Perriello who, as you can see from the sheet, is a founder of a number of faith-based organizations. Yes, not just one, but a number. And as you might have guessed, he’s anti-abortion. Worse still, he was an eagle scout. {{Shudder}} So basically a Republican-lite. Then we have Robert Hurt, the real Republican. He really sucks. And third, we have an independent candidate Jeffrey Clark, who is, you guessed it, another Republican. Though at least he was in the Army and did some real work. And I have to admit, I like the part on immigration where he wants to send business men to jail for hiring illegal immigrants. Kind of going against the grain of corporate interests there.

So who am I going to vote for? Well, first the polls seem to be fluctuating between Hurt winning by 5 points to Hurt winning by 10 points. Basically Hurt’s just been running against Obama/Pelosi. And of course as you’d expect from the New Democratic party, Perriello’s been lying about the health care bill (hey, at least he’s trying to defend it I guess), and slinging mud. I can’t vote for Perriello I’ve decided. He’s part of the new coalition that is moving the Democratic party further to the right. But I don’t think I can vote for Hurt. Since it probably doesn’t matter, I’m currently leaning towards Clark just for the protest (of the third party variety). That is, it’s not a good third party candidate where I get a twofer and feel doubly good, but it’s just a protest vote, plan and simple.

November 2nd, The Big Picture

Since others have mentioned their general thoughts on the rest of the elections, I thought I’d do the same. I can’t pretend otherwise, I want this New Democratic party to be dismantled. The new coalition is already falling apart given the poll numbers. The new voters just voting for a personality or messiah are either disillusioned or bored. That’s the thing about new voters, you get what you pay for. And as you’d expect, the Republican’s that joined are back to being Republicans. And it turns out the independents they pulled in are also either disillusioned or bored. None of them seem to be in the coalition any more. And sadly for the Democratic party, they threw out a big part of their base in 2008. So I want them to fall apart. Not because I want Republicans to run the country and destroy it. And sadly that’s possible. But because I don’t want this New Democratic party to destroy the country first. And make no mistake, Obama and Pelosi and Reid will continue down the path of being worse than Bush on a number of fronts and go further by cutting social security and medicare, and education is next after that. I want them out.

So I will not feel bad for them when they lose the House, which I think they will. And I won’t feel bad as they lose some in the senate. I will be very happy to see Reid go. And yes, that means a really scary person would get that seat. I certainly am not for her nor would I vote for her, but I wouldn’t vote for Reid either because he’s only less evil. He has been an utter disaster. He needs to go. And as for Pelosi, what can I say in print after her part in the 2008 primaries. Well, let’s just say I’ll be very happy to see her lose her position and will be happy to see her retire. I’m sure she’ll have fun working for some health insurance lobbyist like may of the other Democrats that leave office.

For predictions, I’m thinking the Republicans will win around 50 seats in the house and about 5 seats in the Senate. Funny enough, that’s been my prediction since the beginning of the mid term season and it hasn’t changed much. We’ll see very soon.

There you have it. My ramblings went a bit long, but that’s my current approach to voting. What’s yours?

My Voting Strategy – Hard Liquor


Life was so much easier when I was a yellow-dog Democrat. I could just check off all the names with a “D” next to them and head on down to the ballot propositions.

But I’m not a yellow-dog anymore. To quote one of our commenters here at TC, “I rode that damn donkey for over twenty years and then the fucker turned around and bit me in the ass.”

I live in Big Smoggy where politics is a Franz Kafka novel adapted for the screen by Stanley Kubrick. We have four major cities and at least five regional identities (SoCal, SF Bay Area, Central Valley, Mojave, and NorCal.) Not to mention a bunch of laws that guarantee gridlock in Sacramento.

The governor’s job is too important to be used for a billionaire’s ego trip. I’m gonna have to hold my nose and vote for Jerry Brown, warts and all. Please don’t flame me. Believe me, I’m not happy about it either.

I can feel good about my next pick – Gavin Newsom for Lt. Governor. The same goes for Kamala Harris for the Attorney General job.

Is it just me or does “Carly Fiorina” look like “California” spelled by a dyslexic? Anyway, I’m not voting for her. I’m not voting for Barbara Boxer either. I may go Green or maybe I’ll write in my good friend Krusty. Still trying to decide which one.

As I’ve said before I have a Blue Dog DINOcrat as my Representative. I’m not voting for him or the real Republican who is running against him. I’m writing in Ronald McDonald again. If Ronald wins he owes me free french fries for life.

I’m going with Democrats Anna Caballero and Cathleen Galgiani for the state senate and state assembly. I’m voting HELL YES on Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization initiative.

That’s it for my votes. There’s some other stuff on the ballot but I’m not gonna go into it since most of you will be even less interested in it than I am right now.

As far as across the rest of the 56 states, it’s pretty much accepted that the Democrats are gonna lose on Tuesday, the only question is how bad. The House is gone, which means no more “Speaker Pelosi.”

I can’t say I’m sad to see her go. Nancy Pelosi is proof that women can be just as corrupt as men. She lost my support when she declared that “impeachment is off the table.”

I hope the Democrats hold on to the Senate. Not that it’s gonna make a big difference in the laws that get passed during the next two years, but I don’t want Obama and the Democrats to be able to say it was all the Republicans fault.

I’ll be rooting for Sharron Angle because Dirty Harry Reid has got to go. She’s the lesser of two evils. I want to see Christine O’Donnell pull out a victory just to watch all the misogynist fauxgressive heads explode.

I hope Sestak wins in Pennsylvania. He’s a good Joe, and he beat that party-hopping piece of shit Arlen Specter. I want to see Frank Caprio win in Rhode Island and anybody but Charlie Crist win in Florida. Fuck that double-dealing DINOcrat in the White House.

I want to see Joe Miller beat Lisa Murkowski out of principle. She lost fair and square in the primary and is just trying to hang on to power. It was wrong when Joe Lieberman did it too. But either way, the winner will be voting against us on everything that really counts.

I don’t buy this “ZOMG, we’re all gonna die if the Tea Party wins!” meme that’s going around. The nation survived George Bush, and it will survive this too.

I dare Obama and the DINOcrats to touch Social Security. It’s still the third rail of American politics. Maybe if they do that will finally trigger the voter uprising we need to clean out that cesspool on the Potomac.

Liberals are getting coal in their stockings this Christmas. In sports they would say we’re in a rebuilding phase. We need to regroup and start getting prepared for future elections. Barring a miracle 2012 is already lost for us. We need to focus on 2014 and 2016, when people will have again grown tired of the Republicans.

2008 should have been a sea change in American politics. Movement conservatism was on the ropes, politically discredited. We had our best chance since 1932 to move the country in a different direction. Instead we got more of same.

That is why I will not ever forget what happened two years ago. That’s why I won’t stop talking about it either.


Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.



War on Teachers II: Why It Can’t Work

(The title is inspired by Historiann’s excellent post. Also a note: unlike most of the things I blog about, teaching is what I’ve done professionally for decades. I taught in universities, not schools, but the two aren’t totally unrelated.)

Let’s face it. The war on teachers is about money. People want to pay less and get more.

Sometimes you can do that. Solar power and energy efficiency instead of nukes and oil come to mind. In that case paying less and getting more is the sign of an intelligent choice. But when the low price comes from a flimflam artist selling cheap hope, falling for it is the mark of a fool. So, really, the first order of business is to see how low the price can go and still give you what you’re paying for.

So what are we paying for? What is learning, really? And, for that matter, teaching? Continue reading

T-minus 72 hours (or something like that)

Laughing my way to WTF Election Day with Lily

Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then–we elected them. –Lily Tomlin

Good Saturday-before-the-elections morning, everyone. It’s T-minus time! I grew up with an astrophysicist at the Thanksgiving table and astronauts and Mission Control employees for neighbors, so the countdown just comes naturally I suppose. And, given that my handle is “Wonk the Vote” and it’s crunch time for midterms season, what else could my morning roundup this weekend be about other than the upcoming elections next week?

We are a matter of a few days away from WTF election night, and there is an incredible volume of stories pouring out as the elephants and donkeys get all the publicity trying to pit a caricature of socialism against the hot air of “(T)axed (E)nough (A)lready” while the rest of us–Lily Tomlin’s 98 percenters–look on in horror and disgust. I can’t quite pick a headline to start with. I’m going to go with a snark-and-sneak-in-the-news approach.

So let’s get down to business. It’s the Saturday before Halloween, and spooky things are about to happen at the ballot box. Right on cue, Paul Krugman sends out the warning signal that if the elections go as political observers expect, we need to “Be afraid. Be very afraid.

In 2008, I used to call it the Halloween Election and ask who scares people more: The Messiah or the Maverick.

For 2010, I’m updating that. Who scares you more: The Mama Grizzly or the Mofo DINO?

You think I’m joking, but I’m only joking by half. In all seriousness, which do you think presents the greater harm? Conservative women on the political rise… or delinquent Democrats on the moral decline? (If you want to answer that question in the comments, consider this a warning upfront not to go all Bill O’Reilly or Joy Behar to make your case in this thread’s space. This is not an invitation for “come here bitch” or “Muslims killed us on 9-11″ type arguments. The haterade only helps Wall Street to divide and distract Main Street, and besides, it’s a big blogosphere out there. If you really need an outlet for your rage against the shadows in Plato’s cave, I believe both of our majorly inadequate parties have official blogs for that kind of thing.)

I wouldn’t vote for either (I’d register as a NOTA voter if I could), and it’s not because I fear Sharon Angle or Harry Reid (here’s a CNN link on how neck-and-neck that race is, with Angle holding a slim lead within the margin of error.) It is because I have no confidence in either of them to serve the needs of everyday women and men who just want government that works and works for them. On balance, I’m going to go with the Mofo DINO being more of a drag, though. At least as a costume.

The chattering classes can keep telling each other goosebump tales, embellishing the fear factor with each retelling, of how conservative wimmenz getting their hands into politics is The One True Scary Monster under the bed. Personally I don’t find the GO(TEA)P women any more–or any less–threatening than their male bozo counterparts. On the bright side of the dark side, a few more GOP women in office means a few less suits to disagree with and a few more faces wearing lipstick at the table. Alas, the fratboy media only cheers on Change and a Fresh Face when it’s a man wearing those qualities on the sleeve of his empty armani.

But, hey, let us imagine the hypothetical day that the lipstick-less-with-no-plans-to-be-a-mama Grizzlies start taking over Congress. Tucker Carlson and Rush Limbaugh are already crossing their legs in raw fear.

And, on that note, here’s a link to Judith Warner’s “The New Momism from the Gray Lady’s magazine. While it is an interesting read connecting the dots between Michelle Obama’s mom-in-chief PR and the Mama Grizzly phenomenon, I’d like to point out the cognitive dissonance of Warner saying “Momism is a clever strategy in a season of populist rage” while pointing out that the poll trends indicate women are likely to sit out this election in record numbers. If that turns out to be the case, it seems rather unclear to me just how clever this strategy is. I personally would love a political brand that values women for their contributions wherever they make good outside, inside, upside, downside, whatever side of the home.

The Incredible Shrinking Woman on the Mike Douglas Show

Oh that’s right! We already have that political brand, and its name is Hillary Clinton. All this momism does, at least to my mind, is reinforce my longstanding observation that the elites, who feed these kinds of narratives, want to put strong larger-than-life women into the tiny box of the Incredible Shrinking Woman. See clip to the right for more Lily Tomlin goodness.

Ok, I pulled out all the absurdly funny I can see in any of the midterms season above because if I don’t laugh, all there is left to do is stare into the void of leadership and weep. I have never looked forward to having the Boehner of our existence become the Speaker of the House, but at the same time Pelosi has had the American grassroots’ interests off the table well before she wielded that gargantuan gavel of hers, so the difference there is only around the edges. Pelosi is likely planning on retiring (link goes to Jay Newton-Small reporting from DC for Time magazine)–if she can’t have the gavel, she’s not going to stick around, which isn’t very surprising, but it seems like a waste of her seat since she didn’t let any other Democrat run. Any San Francisco residents reading this? What are your thoughts?

While Boehner measuring the drapes is an obnoxious circumstance we have had months to come to terms with–given that the current Democratic leadership has waged nothing but political malpractice and thrown away the political capital that was built from 2006 to 2008–the hardest hit for any of us anywhere on the left might actually be in the Senate, even with Democrats having the odds on keeping the Senate. We are perilously close to losing Russ Feingold in Wisconsin (as of the time I drafted this post, Johnson’s lead over Feingold averages 6.6 at RCP, 5.1 at Nate Silver/NYT, and 8.1 at Pollster/Huffpo). I do not see Russ as the immaculate public servant (and none of them are in DC), but I do like him and I do think he is substantive and at least to the left of Pelosi, Reid, and Obama. Feingold is about the last place I would have started if weeding out this Congress were entirely up to me. I am saddened looking at his odds on Intrade and pray for an upset (my prayers aren’t to any anthropomorifc anything, just a cry to the universe for some fairness and justice along the way as it expands).

I was born in Wisconsin and have a soft spot for the historical progressive tradition out of that state going back to Fighting Bob La Follette. As much as the Democratic establishment deserves to have their collective ass handed to them, I am just really saddened at the prospect of losing the voice of someone who would actually poke the establishment sometimes. His primary endorsement of Obama in ’08 and his HCR vote comes to mind as examles to the contrary, but still I’d rather he keep his seat and his ocassional poking rather than say NY’s Chuck Schumer and his two-by-four politics. After all, if Angle angles it out and becomes the junior Senator from Nevada. Schumer is standing in line to battle Dick Durbin of Illinois for Harry Reid’s Majority leader role (link goes to a NY mag puff piece in which Howard Wolfson compares Chuck to LBJ, so bring your barf bags if you’re not a Schumer fan).

I came across this tidbit from the editorial page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Down to the wire: President Barack Obama wouldn’t be here Sunday if he didn’t believe Gov. Ted Strickland can pull an upset — the White House has rejected pleas from Democrats, reportedly including Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, it sees as goners.

So there it is in print. The “fierce advocate of maybe someday” that we have in the White House sees Russ Feingold as a goner.

The American electorate is poised to put Congress through chemo, which will zap the not-so-malignant critterz along with the ones invading the body politic, and the Obama permanent campaign has long since moved its gaze to 2012 (I tell you that’s where it went straight after the election of 2008). This is what happens when you let a Reagan wannabe (that’s news only to voters waking up to the real Obama) run as the literal second coming, when what we really needed is the political second coming of FDR. Thanks a lot Circle Dsfor all this Exciting! Historic! Unprecedented! “change that matters” …and that we could have lived without.

As much as I love a good politics fix and you won’t find me anywhere but glued to the news during election time (it’s my Superbowl or World Series), I cannot wait until this one is over–except for the fact that I grow even more exasperated thinking about what will come next. The politics of fear and division are thick and heavy in the air. You can almost taste the stench of the dirty games being played and feel the weight of the ugliness on your own shoulders, knowing full well that whoever wins–the DINOstablishment or the GO(TEA)P–neither of them will work on behalf of the American people. And, to top it all off we have conspicuously-timed terror alerts going, too. Whew! It’s early, and I already need a drink. Sangria for breakfast sounds good. :)

The local races in my area are not giving me very many reasons to vote FOR anyone. I live in the district where one of the big races is a LaRouchie Democrat challenging the GOP incumbent for House Rep (link takes you to Ed Brayton at scienceblogs.com highlighting the fact that the Democrats have their own Sharon Angle in Kesha Rogers)–and hey if it weren’t for the fact that this is Tom Delay’s old district and I have suffered enough joke representation, I might find all this more amusing. My voting strategy is NOTA, and since we don’t have NOTA on the ballot, I am leaning toward sitting this one out. I think it is the most cost-effective way to send a message to the Democratic party here that they need to provide a more meaningful alternative to the GOP. I am aware of all the “you are throwing your vote away and making your voice meaningless” arguments in the world, so save yourself the effort. Movement conservatives sat out 2008, and that did not kill their voice, rather they are the loudest voices out there right now. They are so much more coherent on strategy than they are on policy.

As Mother Jones (the actual historical female figure, not the sellout magazine that exploits women on its cover) once said, “I have never had a vote, and I have raised hell all over this country! You don’t need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!”

Now, if Bill White can catch a break in the polling in the next day or so and there is a realistic chance that we sane Texans will be rid of the contagion that is Guv Goodhair and his whacko religious right flank, then White already has my vote and I would have to reconsider my entire voting strategy. But, it looks bleak and I want to make history by being one of the record numbers of women not voting this year. I would make my vote meaningless if I voted for Ds and Rs when I have lost all faith in both those tickets.

And, as my local paper, the Houston Chronicle, put it yesterday: Gov All Asshat No Cattle Rick Perry (that’s my nickname for him not the paper’s!) is “positioned” to “win an unprecedented third four-year term, according to a new statewide poll conducted for the Houston Chronicle and the state’s other large newspapers.” I can hear the bizarro Perry for President choir screaming already. Make it stop! Like I said, if White magically gets within striking distance by Monday, that is a whole different ballgame. Perry needed to mosey on out a decade ago.

Some real quick links before I wrap this up:

The Democratic Surge Is Just a Fantasy” (via Huffpo from a few days ago)

Gender slurs intolerable” (October 29, 2010 Letter to the Editor in the Spokesman Review, which is not what the title might have you think and why I have filed it mentally under Sophist Arguments about Sexism)

Polls: Voter pessimism helps GOP in 4 states Obama won(via McClatchy)
 

Obama urges ‘steps’ after election, calls GOP stance ‘troubling’ (via the Hill, the President’s weekly address reads hollow and empty just like his politics. “Just words.”)

Meek: I Turned Down Crist Cross(via the WSJ’s Washington Wire)

Going against the NOTA grain, Atrios says “Vote.

Here is an example of one headline in a long list of headlines that reaffirms my decision to go NOTA in 2010 — the governing result of Ds and Rs all too often has been going something like this and leaving ordinary Americans without a public servant fighting for them: “Parents told to leave disabled kids at homeless shelters.” (via Yahoo News)

Oh, and about that Hillbuzz open letter to El Rushbo? I could turn on the pirate mouth and say a lot more, but here is all I am going to say: Hillbuzz really needs to just rename itself PalinCentral already.

Since my local races are not doing the trick for me, I wanted to close with the one race I am watching and anticipating hearing the results of: Nikki Haley’s likely win for the governorship of South Carolina. Her politics are not the same as mine, but I do like her as a person, and although the race is tightening as we wind down the campaign season, if she goes on to win she will make history as the first Indian American woman to become governor. I am getting emotional writing that. A few years ago I would not have even thought of that happening, let alone think about whether it was possible. Hell, I don’t think I ever even thought of a Desi Girl running for governor period.

I freely admit that I am identifying at an identity politics level rather than a policy level there. Then again, I am not in Nikki’s state so I don’t have to make that call as a voter anyway. I am just looking on as an excited observer to see how the race turns out.

Nikki herself says don’t vote for an image. From the NYT:

At a small gathering of Republicans on Thursday at a shopping center in this coastal town, her supporters distributed pink T-shirts that read “Team Haley: A Women’s Campaign,” as upbeat pop music played from a stereo. Flanked by young volunteers in red T-shirts, Ms. Haley played down her celebrity.

“If you join our movement, don’t ever let it be about a person, don’t ever let it be about an election,” she said. “It’s about what gets done in January.”

New America Media has this report out today that says “Racist Rhetoric Hounds South Asian Candidates.” If Nikki wins, she will wield another blow to that Good Ol’ Boy strategy.

Oh, and one more thing to go along with the T-minus stuff. Your October 30th trivia: On this day in 1985, “Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off for mission STS-61-A, its final successful mission.” (I just pulled that straight from wikipedia’s October 30th entry.)

Here’s hoping against Hope that we have a successful lift off in the political realm on November 2nd. (Who am I kidding?)

Well, that’s all I have for today! It took me a little longer than expected, so it’s more like Sangria for Brunch time.

What are you reading and ruminating on this Saturday? Would love to hear from you in the comments.

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