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Wednesday News

I lifted this from the Black Agenda Report!!!

So apparently we had a little election yesterday. Let’s recap the story so far. We had this lovely hopeful Democratic party ready to put the Bush years behind them, roll up their sleeves, and get to work fixing the damage. Much the same way the Clinton’s did in the 90′s. But along the way, a complete unknown with no experience, and no real drive to do anything substantive, including bothering to vote for important policies, who had more funding than all of the well known candidates combined, from wall street, banks, and insurance companies funnily enough, made his way through the primaries, making a pathetic disaster of every debate by losing every one in the worst way, and got selected in a smoke filled back room, without even a roll call vote. Along the way, the base of the party who actually elected another candidate were told to suck it up or leave. Preferably leave. And of course, as most any candidate that wasn’t Bush would do, this guy became President. Then over the next two years he proceeded to do exactly the kinds of things he did in his previous career. Play golf, party, get others to do his work for him, and do pretty much what his backers wanted. Mostly he just golfed and really didn’t give a damn. Apparently, many of the “little people” expected a bit more out of him. Silly little people. And so, they got angry. They still hate the party of Bush, make no mistake about it, but now they hate this new group just as much, and yesterday they sent a little message.

For a good look at the races across the country, the NYT has great interactive maps. The main ones to look at are those for Senate, House, and Governor races. As you can see from those maps, especially the House map, we have a proverbial bloodbath. Especially important for 2012 is the Governor results. Notice that the important battleground states of PA, OH, and FL now have Republican governors. That will become more important for the next cycle because of get out the vote efforts, redistricting, among others.

CBS has an interesting article on why Democrats lost:

Core Democratic groups stayed away in droves Tuesday, costing Democratic House candidates dearly at the polls.

Hispanics, African Americans, union members and young people were among the many core Democratic groups that turned out in large numbers in the 2008 elections, propelling Mr. Obama and Democratic House candidates to sizable victories. In 2010, turnout among these groups dropped off substantially, even below their previous midterm levels.

Voters under the age of 30 comprised 18 percent of the electorate in 2008 and nearly 13 percent in 2006 but only made up 11 percent of the electorate in 2010. The share of voters from union households dropped from 23 percent in 2006 and 21 percent in 2008 to 17 percent in 2010. African Americans made up 13 percent of the electorate in 2008 but fell to 10 percent in 2010. Such apathy likely cost the Democrats House seats as voters in each of these groups cast ballots for Democratic House candidates by at least 15 point margins.

[...]

Mr. Obama proved to be a major liability in the 2010 election. Fifty-five percent of voters disapproved of the way the president is handling his job, including 58 percent of independents. Of those who disapproved of Obama, 86 percent voted for a Republican House candidate. Even more to the point, 37 percent of voters overall, as well as 37 percent of independents, claimed a reason for their House vote was to express opposition to Mr. Obama.

Voters were no happier with the Democratic-controlled Congress. A whopping 72 percent of voters disapproved of the way Congress is handling its job, including majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents. Of those who evaluated Congress negatively, 64 percent preferred a Republican House candidate to a Democratic House candidate in their local race.

It does go on to talk about the mixed message that the voters don’t really like Republican’s either.

After the resounding defeat, Obama gave a call to John Boehner, soon to be the new speaker of the House, to congratulate him:

He phoned the presumptive next House speaker, John Boehner, to offer congratulations. Boehner says the two agreed to work together, even though Republicans have vowed to turn back much of Obama’s agenda.

The Ohio Republican says they talked about working together on the priorities of the American people, and Boehner says he defined those priorities as cutting spending and creating jobs.

Hey, create jobs. Now there’s an idea. Too bad no one thought of that before.

Now brush yourself off, because today begins the Presidential campaign season for 2012.

We’ll keep this short since there is still a lot happening in a few last races, and we’ll update as we learn more, and as others do the inevitable blaming of the Clinton’s or pretending it’s not such a big deal after all. You know they will. Chime in with what you’re seeing outside of the election as well.

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?

Thursday News: Downwind

That's right, lower that gas mask

We didn’t start the fire but we wouldn’t mind being downwind of one of the biggest marijuana bonfires the world has ever known.  134 tons of confiscated weed were set ablaze in Mexico yesterday.  We’re a little puzzled over the draconian steps to eradicate the pot before it makes its way across the border.  What this country needs right now is some tasty weed or a batch of brownies.  What a waste.

New Jersey Cablevision customers are downwind of a nasty dispute between their cable provider and News Corp, the company that shoves Fox down our throats.  For the last 5 days, Cablevision customers have been without Fox programming including Glee, House, and some major league baseball and football games.  I can’t find any evidence that Fox News was pulled, however, which is a shame.  News Corp is doubling the subscription fees for retransmission of Fox programming for Cablevision.  That’s $150,000,000 for Cablevision alone.  It looks like Cablevision customers who just get the broadband service were also affected.  They were unable to download programming from Hulu for a period of time but that seems to be restored.

News Corp is going up against Dish at the end of the month.  As a Dish customer, I’d like to encourage management to take a hard line with News Corp.  Take it all off the Dish lineup, including Fox News.  It’s extortion but maybe this latest move is a good thing. The more we can contain the Fox News contagion, the better.  I’ll download Glee from iTunes.  But more than that, this is just another example of a corporation thinking that the average Joe has unlimited disposable income.  We don’t.  The fees for every damn little thing are skyrocketing.  Enough already.  Try to make due with the billions you already have.

On the mortgages/foreclosure fiasco, the rule of law appears to be downwind of some very sketchy bank tactics for seizing what might not be theirs and throwing families out of their houses.  Atrios has been doing a really good job finding more and more evidence of bankster fraud.  In the latest article on the mess, Battle Lines Forming in Clash over Foreclosures, the New York Times reports:

Now those missing and possibly fraudulent documents are at the center of a potentially seismic legal clash that pits big lenders against homeowners and their advocates concerned that the lenders’ rush to foreclose flouts private property rights.

That clash — expected to be played out in courtrooms across the country and scrutinized by law enforcement officials investigating possible wrongdoing by big lenders — leaped to the forefront of the mortgage crisis this week as big lenders began lifting their freezes on foreclosures and insisted the worst was behind them.

Federal officials meeting in Washington on Wednesday indicated that a government review of the problems would not be complete until the end of the year.

“The misbehavior is clear: they lied to the courts,” she said. “The fact that they are saying no one was harmed, they are missing the point. They did actual harm to the court system, to the rule of law. We don’t say, ‘You can perjure yourself on the stand because the jury will come to the right verdict anyway.’ That’s what they are saying.”

Robert Willens, a tax expert, said that documentation issues had created potentially severe tax problems for investors in mortgage securities and that “there is enough of a question here that the courts might well have to resolve the issue.”

Ah, yes, the poor investor will have to sort through all of the tax issues.  So sad.  It’s so much worse for investors than the families that lose everything including the roof over their heads just because the documentation is screwed up.  I guess it never occurred to anyone that lowering the principle on some of the loans would allow some homeowners to stay in their houses and pay their mortgages.  At least the investors would get *something* for their investments.  Or investors could take it up with the banks who always seem to be in the middle of all these messes.  But banks seem to make money off of of foreclosures.  Hmmm, if I had been a congressman, I might have made foreclosure a lot less attractive for banks and avoided much of this mess.  Oh, well!  Not my problem.

It does appear to be a problem for those congresspersons, however, who appear to be downwind of voter anger over Congress’s complacency with the economy.  In A National Election, Like it or Not, E.J. Dionne reports on the experience of Democratic Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy from Ohio, who mistakenly keeps trying to tell her voters about the “accomplishments” of the last two years.  For some stupid reason, the voters aren’t paying any attention to the half assed Lily Ledbetter law or Health Care Reform or the financial bailout:

Kilroy recalls encountering a voter who told her: “I’ve voted for you throughout your career, but I’m not voting for you this year because I don’t have a job.”

She spoke to her constituent about what Congress had accomplished, and also about how the tied-up-in-knots U.S. Senate had blocked other House initiatives.

To which the voter replied: “Do you think I care they’re stuck in the Senate? I don’t have a job.”

Stivers, who lost to Kilroy in 2008 by just 2,312 votes, has had much happier doorstep experiences. “People were mad at George Bush two years ago and they were going to take it out on anyone with an ‘R’ after their name,” he said. This time, they’re eager to talk about — you guessed it — “the debt and jobs.”

Yep, it’s a mystery.

As Greg Sargent reports in The Enthusiasm Gap Remains just Awful for Dems:

But still, the enthusiasm deficit remains enormous, even though Dems have tried everything to turn this around: They’ve chanted Bush’s name in unison for months. They’ve raised the specter of foreign money rigging our elections. They’ve floated the possibility of GOP investigations that will make the 1990s look like a latter-day Era of Good Feelings. And they’ve relentlessly elevated the craziest of Tea Party crazies to iconic status. Yet Dems still aren’t goosed up about this election in anywhere near the numbers they need to be — mainly because the GOP enthusiasm levels are essentially steroidal at this point.

It’s like that Far Side cartoon where Einstein can’t figure out the famous relativity equation until his cleaning lady starts straightening up his desk.  “All squared away” The Democrats have tried everything but the stuff that actually works.  Denigrating the stupid hicks who join the Tea Party doesn’t work, Greg.  And I know a lot of Democrats don’t want to hear this but if the closest you’re going to get to having a liberal in the White House is Hillary Clinton, then you might just want to elect Hillary Clinton.  There’s no way in God’s green earth that Kucinich is ever going to get there.  Get squared away already.

Here’s a hint, Mary Jo and all you Democratic Congresspeople:  Congress didn’t do enough for the working class.  The best you can do is say, “I’m sorry.  I get it now. I’ll put pressure on Obama to kill the Catfood Commission.  Please don’t vote for Republicans.  They’ll only make it worse, er, faster than we will.”

Ed Potosnak can balance an equation and gets my vote.

And that goes for all the rest of you Democrats sending stupid emails to me, assuming I’m some low information, irrationally angry voter who doesn’t know what the heck is going on.  The destruction that ongoing layoffs have had on my friends and family is devastating.  I really don’t want to hear about some half assed health care reform bill or some lame Ledbetter bill that doesn’t guarantee me equal pay- now, this very moment without any legal hassles.  I want to hear about how you’re going to save my retirement and my job.  I guess it’s just irrational to want to be able to maintain my base caloric and shelter requirements.  As it happens, I have a Democrat , Ed Potasnak, to vote for this November but I’m not supporting a party that seems incapable of getting its act together when it had every possible advantage in the past two years.

And finally, Juan Williams is downwind of someone at NPR who has some scruples. Last night, NPR fired him.  After years of being the not-so-secret conservative mole at NPR, Juan finally took things too far on his other gig at Fox:

NPR has terminated its contract with Juan Williams, one of its senior news analysts, after he made comments about Muslims on the Fox News Channel.

NPR said in a statement that it gave Mr. Williams notice of his termination on Wednesday night.

The move came after Mr. Williams, who is also a Fox News political analyst, appeared on the “The O’Reilly Factor” on Monday. On the show, the host, Bill O’Reilly, asked him to respond to the notion that the United States was facing a “Muslim dilemma.” Mr. O’Reilly said, “The cold truth is that in the world today jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.”

Mr. Williams said he concurred with Mr. O’Reilly.

He continued: “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

I’ve been disappointed with NPR since the Bush administration when it went from National Public Radio to Nice Polite Republicans.  The consensus reality/perception bending by Williams, Mara Liason and Steve Inskeep got to be too much for me to take in the mornings.  It was nauseating to hear it on the program I had listened to faithfully since I was in college.  I’m glad that Williams got the boot because his remarks were designed to mislead viewers like my mother into believing that Muslims are going to go all jihad on helpless Americans.  The purpose of those remarks are to terrify people who will short circuit their risk assessment thought processes.  And studies have shown (damn, where is that reference?) that voters who are fearful of their own mortality will vote for conservative politicians who promise to protect them.  Those viewers of Juan Williams on Fox will not think about how most Muslim Americans have families and jobs and don’t have time to do terrorist activities.  They’ve got PTA meetings and shopping to do.  Besides, they’re so small in number, how the heck are they going to get away?  It’s a big country. Don’t get me started.  I have to deprogram my mom of this stuff every time I see her.

Yeah, Juan Williams is one of the bad guys and he’s been sitting on NPR like some big ugly insect that the NPR listeners are just supposed to ignore.  We’re supposed to believe that Williams was an unbiased journalist who just coincidentally has this other job on Fox News where he’s allowed to spew nonsense and deceive people.  But none of that could ever possibly spill over into Morning Edition.  Riiiiight.

Now, get rid of Liason and Inskeep and I’ll come back.  Maybe I’ll even write a check.

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