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My Voting Strategy: How many times do we have to have this conversation?

Yesterday my room mate and I met our new neighbor across the hall. She is an extremely kind woman whose cat had just died, and we baked her cookies to extend our condolences. She invited us in for hot chocolate and gave us some of her cats old toys, and we had a very pleasant visit. She was a solid white lady, probably in her seventies and recently widowed. We had a smoke together and she told me about her family back in Chicago. My grandma just died recently and hanging around with her lifted my spirits a great deal.

She also had a book by Bill O’Reilly on her coffee table. Fox news was blaring in plain site on her TV, there was a magnet on her refrigerator that said “God Loves You,” and she had a book about the rapture in her shelf. Yup, white older female, Christian and well within the Tea Party Demographic. I tried for a few seconds to give a shit, and found that I couldn’t.

See, I get people like Beverly-that is her name. I grew up around her. Salt of the Earth folk. Well in my case, salt of the earth stoners, alcoholics and nutcases but I am still proud god dammit. My father’s family came from a small train station town called Urichsville, Ohio. My grandpa beat pipes with hammers and went fishin’ out on Lake Tappan and my dad learned how to play the guitar on a rock overhang next to the lake. He had three brothers and to this day my uncles are still guitar strummin’ hillbilly white trash and don’t you forget it.  They even have a band to prove it. It’s  called “Bad Idea,” because when they formed it my dad said, “This is a bad idea.” They sing a variety of songs but this is their favorite tune to jam to:

 

My dad left Urichsville to be an accountant and went to Kent State. He wasn’t handsome or charming but at least he was good with numbers. He traded all that for a yuppy house in the suburbs, plastic surgery and a second wife with a boob job and his conservatism is based on economic rather than social policy, but it comes from a humble place.

My mom has had a hard life and she relies on her faith and friends for support, most of which I have known my whole life. They are good if not misguided people and I do not begrudge them their political and religious differences from me, because in their eyes I am accepted as well.

These people work hard and they are bombarded daily with media that is patriarchal, monotheistic and right wing. The MSM has probably been selling the “this country is center-right” lie since the age of movement conservatism and they do this while selling the issues from a left vs. right perspective that is framed from the “center right.”

To be frank, most people in this country are neither liberal nor conservative, and the number of registered independents proves my point. Every time I get into a discussion of politics with someone, they tell me, “I just want to support whatever works.” That is what we all want, regardless of ideology. Politics should be about making people’s lives better, but most of the time it is turned into a game and it’s purpose is to fill the pockets of the elites. The silliest of Americans understand that.

The Tea Party has it’s origins in populism and since then it has been astroturfed by crazy right wingers. They are running candidates that make me want to hide under my bed and cry. But Americans just want solutions to problems, and the Teabaggers may be telling some of them what they want to hear. They could care less about the kooky religahoon xion flag waving social conservatism even if it’s weird even for them. Loony conservatives in the Republican Party have been saying for years that they want to control women’s uterus’, teach creationism in public schools and put queers on death row but it has never happened (mostly). We have checks and balances in our political system that prevents extremism from being legislated.

Christine O’Donnell makes me whimper, but I want a witchhunt on her platform, not her panini. If I child shows up at my doorstep dressed as Sharon Angle on Halloween I am going to run away screaming but calling a woman a b*tch is unacceptable unless it is meant as a term of endearment. And Sarah Palin makes my left eye twitch sometimes when she says some of the things she says, but putting her on the cover of mother jones as a scantily clad she-monster is taking it a step or two too far. Come on, guys.

That being said, I will never vote for a Tea Party member or a Republican. I am a liberal and I vote for candidates who have earned my vote. The founding fathers did not write the constitution and form the first Democratic Republic in history so I could waste my vote and my free speech on Charlie Crist or Marco Rubio. Are you kidding me with this? And I did not file my tax returns last year so I could vote for Kendrick Meeks, who put a government patent on my uterus when he voted for “HCR” and Stupakistan. Hell no.

Alex Sink seems vote worthy and there are some amendments I have my eye on, but for now I say “none of the above.” America is at a crossroads. We have to decide, in times like this, whether we stick by our principles and only vote for candidates who have earned our vote or we reward those who do not have our best interests at heart and have demonstrated it repeatedly with our tax dollars and our trust.

I’ve made my decision. I might just be plain white trash but liberal is my game. What’s yours?

This is why I have a stubborn belief in the American people

While perusing the horserace news this morning, I noticed two polls in particular. One is the NY Times/CBS News poll that riverdaughter already discussed in her morning roundup, and I’ll get to my thoughts on that in a bit. The other is this polling news from Bloomberg, with a headline to love: Republicans Win House, Get No Mandate in Poll Favoring Clinton.” From the link:

Republicans are poised to retake the U.S. House next week without a mandate from voters to carry out their policies, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.

Okay in an ideal world, the Democrats wouldn’t have waged political malpractice from 2006 to 2010 and would not be losing the House, et cetera et cetera. That part isn’t lovable and will always be a sore spot, but this trend hasn’t changed for months now, so it is no surprise.

However, I love that “Get No Mandate” part. LOVE. IT.

When I saw it, immediately I thought to myself that this is exactly where my stubborn belief in ordinary Americans–ordinary people–comes from. We-the-people’s collective bullshit detector have gone off over the last decade–some of us long before others, Cassandras that we are, but I think we are finally reaching a critical mass in that regard. All of Washington–both parties–are in the political doghouse with President Obama. He is not the only one we are ‘talking about this way,’ ahem! We-the-people are deeply dissatisfied with the DINOs and the GOP. And, Republicans taking the House gives our self-proclaimed moral president no mandate to carry out the Red Doggy Biscuit policies. So when Obama tries to further undo the social safety net that the FDR/LBJ legacy had established, citing a Republican Congress as his handy woe-is-a-DINO excuse, it won’t just be the GOP that has to answer for it in 2012. The buck stops with Obama. He will have to answer for it, too.

Of course the “in Poll Favoring Clinton” part of the headline is bittersweet, too.

The Bloomberg poll, which was conducted from October 24-26, shows that the GOP “leads 47 percent to 44 percent when likely voters are asked how they plan to vote in their congressional election.” This finding is in line with all the other evidence that has been pointing to a Republican takeover of the House. The only ones left denying this are basically Democratic party figures who have no choice but to try to rally the troops with wishful thinking at this point. Of course, there is Obama who won’t even endorse the Democratic candidate for governor in Rhode Island, so he’s not even one of the people who would invest much energy in trying to deny it. He and his inner circle have long ago stopped making any secret of the fact that the Democrats will be losing the House. Instead they have been preparing us for all the Democratic agenda that nice, conciliatory Mr. Bipartisan President will have to sacrifice to work with a Republican Congress.

At the beginning of this year, President Obama infamously said theThe Big Difference” Between 2010 and 1994 “Is Me.

The real difference between 2010 and 1994? Bill Clinton was not actively trying to lose. He wanted to win. That he pulled it together and turned things around working with a Republican Congress and was able to win re-election came afterward. It was not part of the plan.

More from the Bloomberg poll:

The margin is wide enough that if it holds over the next five days it likely would give Republicans the net 39-seat gain needed to capture the House.At the same time, voters either are divided about or opposed to the policies and approach that Republicans have said they would offer once in control, particularly on cutting spending; voters also want the parties to work together.

What’s that? No deficit squawking from the majority of Americans? Can it be? YES!

The favorable political landscape for Republicans in the closing days of the campaign is largely the result of support from independent voters. They back Republicans over Democrats, 47 percent to 34 percent. That advantage stands in contrast with the 2008 presidential election, when Obama won by an eight-point margin with independents, exit polls showed.

One independent poll respondent, David Mullins, a 59-year- old airline pilot from Indian Trail, North Carolina, says he is voting for Republicans this year, even though he doesn’t expect the party to make tough decisions.

I don’t have any love for the Republicans,” Mullins said.They can’t cut Medicare and Social Security; they can’t cut the military.”

See, the message about to be sent to Washington is NOT shaping up to be “taxed enough already.”

It’s stop spending our taxes on everybody but the American people.

To wit:

The poll finds Republicans in an unusual position: on the brink of making political gains while the party and its policies are unpopular. Likely voters are evenly divided on the Republican Party, with 47 percent holding a positive opinion.

This contrasts with midterm elections in 1994, when the insurgent Republicans gained congressional control after polls showed voter attitudes tilting toward them. Before that election, the party had a 7 point advantage in positive ratings among registered voters, according to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Republicans have said they want to cut $100 billion from the federal budget as early as January. That would amount to 21 percent of the government’s so-called discretionary spending and target programs such as college loans for low-income students or medical research at the National Institutes of Health.

Less than one-third of poll respondents — 31 percent — say they support cutting federal spending in areas such as education and health care, excluding Social Security, Medicare and defense.

This is NOT 1994. And, if Obama thinks he can rub shoulders with the Republicans to cut back social programs and not pay for it, he better hope the GOP nominates its worst candidate, because that is the only way Obama will stand a chance. Frankly the GOP slate is full of a lot of contenders for worst candidate, so if he can’t beat most of them, he will have no one to blame but himself. He is running on the party that used to have the winning policies — he just isn’t governing like an actual member of that party or espousing or strengthening any of those policies.

I hope if things pan out as pessimistically as they seem they will at this point that the seniors all ditch the Ds in 2012 when they find out what kind of sham was pulled on them by Obama and the Democrats not disclosing upfront their intentions on SS before the midterms. I know third term parties are questionable from the perspective that power always coalesces around the two basic ends of the see-saw, but we really need something drastic here to shake up the system and restore anything recognizable as a Democratic party. If a third party or independent movement can accomplish that, I won’t be opposed to it. We have tried for decades, especially the last decade, to work within the D/R system and it has just allowed the Democratic party to get lost in the K-Street vortex.

I do not recognize today’s Democratic party. Lying through their teeth like they’ve ushered in equal pay for equal work when they’ve done nothing of the sort. Lilly Ledbetter was important to pass, but it doesn’t have a practical effect if you don’t pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (which by the way was first introduced by one Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton back in 2005).

Which brings me to my thoughts on the NY Times poll. Here was the interesting finding that jumped out for me:

Republicans have wiped out the advantage held by Democrats in recent election cycles among women, Roman Catholics, less affluent Americans and independents. All of those groups broke for Mr. Obama in 2008 and for Congressional Democrats when they grabbed both chambers from the Republicans four years ago, according to exit polls.

If women choose Republicans over Democrats in House races on Tuesday, it will be the first time they have done so since exit polls began tracking the breakdown in 1982.

More:

In the case of women — a traditionally Democratic-leaning group that the White House has been courting actively in recent weeks — the shift toward the Republicans was marked in the latest poll, especially when compared with their stated preferences in the last Times/CBS poll, in mid-September.

In the earlier poll, women favored Democrats over Republicans by seven percentage points. In the latest poll, women said they were likely to support a Republican over a Democrat by four percentage points, suggesting Republican gains among women who were undecided as of last month.

Well that’s just great. The Stupakistan gambit during the HCR debate (which resulted in the Stupaksis disease spreading and creating mini-Stupaks across the nation–heads up this link goes to a pdf), the Democrats failure to make any pitch to women voters on the economy but to instead fall back on that tired, cynical, duplicitous old one trick pony of “ROE! SCOTUS! VOTE D!,” the relentless obsession with Mama Grizzlies and calling them whore, bitch, witch, etc… it is all coming home to roost! If the Democrats lose women to Republicans in the midterms, they really have LOST IT. And, don’t tell me it’s just some bitter old women obsessed with the vajayjays of female politicians. That ain’t what this is about. Study the entrails. Your spokesperson Donna Brazile told us to stay home every day of that election she got on CNN and pretended to be an impartial, “undeclared” superdelegate.

We knew when we were trampled on. It wasn’t about Hillary, though she was part of it. It was OUR election too. It is our country too. You don’t think we have any right to hear a substantive policy agenda backed up by actions. Just spit on our primary votes, shout Roe, run our economy further into the ditch that Bush dug and pay no attention to the glaring lights screaming JOBS! Yeah that will get us to pull the lever for the good ol’ D. Real smart plan. Fantastic. And, then just roll out the talking points: Ann Dunham, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Lilly Ledbetter, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, minus a Christina Romer, and a fleeting position for Liz Warren to advise on a Consumer Protection Agency she fought for.

No, sorry, the positive contributions of any one of these women or what they have fought for does not undo the way YOU, Mr. President, have failed to communicate with us. If you’ve lost women, you’ve lost America. They have been suffering a Stockholm Syndrome/learned helplessness with the Democratic party for years and you could have had them knocking door to door right now to save the Democratic Administration and Democratic Congress, but nope. That did not fit into your grand idea of a New Coalition and Democratic realignment. And, some realignment it has been.

Thursday Morning News: Aftermath

For your eschatological pleasure:
Good morning.  This is going to be short as I was up past my bedtime last night.

I’m putting my “podcast for the day” up front.  Gretchen Morgensen, financial reporter for the New York Times, explained the foreclosure debacle to Terry Gross on Fresh Air.  Yeah, yeah, I know Gross is a Kool-Ade drinker.  She still is one of the best interviewers around.  If you get lost in Dakinikat’s posts, you may find Morgensen’s summary easier to digest.

Ruh-Roh, Jon Stewart’s interview of President Obama sounds like it didn’t go so well, er, for Obama.

As example of the president’s supporters being unenthused, on The Daily Show comedian Jon Stewart called President Obama’s legislative agenda timid during an interview with the president set to air this evening.

“Is the difficulty you have here the distance between what you ran on and what you delivered?” Stewart asked. “You ran with such, if I may, audacity, yet legislatively it has felt timid at times. That I am not even sure at times what you want out of a health care bill.”

“Jon I love your show, but this is something where I have a profound disagreement with you,” Obama responded, “This notion that health care was timid – you’ve got 30 million people that will have health insurance because of this.”

At many other times throughout the course of the interview Stewart joked with the president, basically questioning where the mantle of change that the comedian and many Democrats voted for had gone, leaving the president on the defense.

“You ran on very high rhetoric, hope and change and the democrats this year seem to be running on please baby one more chance,” Stewart joked.

Stewart: “so you wouldn’t say you would run next time as a pragmatist? You would not, it wouldn’t be yes we can, given certain conditions.”

“No I think what I would say is yes we can but.” Obama answered to laughter from the crowd,  “but it’s not going to happen overnight.”

[….]

Asked the humorist: “What have you done that we don’t know about? Are you planning a surprise party for us, filled with jobs and health care?”

It sounds like Obama bogarted the mike the rest of the time with long, involved answers with multiple prepositional phrases.  He was probably coached to shut Stewart down.

Ayayayayay.  I have to check the DVR.  I find it amazing that the one guy in America who can conduct a serious, hard hitting, hold-them-accountable interview of a major politician is a comedian.  All hail the Jester.

In the aftermath of Obama’s slash and burn march through the Democratic party’s constituent landscape, the coalition he presumably built in 2008 is fracturing.  The New York Times reports that Catholics, women and the poor are fleeing him for the GOP.  Didn’t see that coming.  What was it that Harold Ickes said during the RBC hearing?  Disenfranchising all those votes was “not the best way to start down the path of party unity”?  From the article, Coalition for Obama split by drift to the GOP:

The poll provides a pre-Election Day glimpse of a nation so politically disquieted and disappointed in its current trajectory that 57 percent of the registered voters surveyed said they were more willing to take a chance this year on a candidate with little previous political experience. More than a quarter of them said they were even willing to back a candidate who holds some views that “seem extreme.”

Here’s my take: Some of these groups never were firmly in Obama’s camp in the first place.  Some of these voters, the working class, for example,  voted for a Democrat, not Obama specifically.  Some were frightened into it, eg women.  And some were guilted into it lest they be called racists.  And now, they’re so angry at having their issues dismissed in favor of the banks that they’ll vote for  Republicans they like even less.  It’s not just that Obama has been so ineffective for them.  It’s that they could have had someone else.  You know the *other* candidate who won all those huge Democratic states by large margins and whose voters were suppressed?  Yeah, those are the people who are defecting in waves right now.

Here’s another interesting finding that jumped out of the poll:

There was clear opposition to addressing one of the government’s biggest long-term challenges — the growing costs of paying Social Security benefits — by raising the retirement age or reducing benefits for future retirees.

I’d kill the Catfood Commission.  Retirement at 70 is cruel.

Speaking of Social Security, Atrios went to another blogger conference with the White House.  Here’s the question he asked:

Q    Mine is an easy question.  Will you rule out raising the retirement age to 70?

THE PRESIDENT:  We are awaiting a report from the deficit commission, or deficit reduction commission, so I have been adamant about not prejudging their work until we get it.

But I think you can look at the statements that I’ve made in the past, including when I was campaigning for the presidency, that Social Security is something that can be fixed with some modest modifications that don’t impose hardships on beneficiaries who are counting on it.

And so the example that I used during the campaign was an increase in the payroll tax, not an increase — let me scratch that.  Not an increase in the payroll tax but an increase in the income level at which it is excluded.

And so what I’ve been clear about is, is that I’ve got a set of preferences, but I want the commission to go ahead and do its work.  When it issues its report, I’m not automatically going to assume that it’s the right way to do things.  I’ll study it and examine it and see what makes sense.

But I’ve said in the past, I’ll say here now, it doesn’t strike me that a steep hike in the retirement age is in fact the best way to fix Social Security.

So, what I get from this is that Obama doesn’t understand that those of us in our 40s and 50s have been paying extra into the social security system to pay in advance for the benefits we were counting on.  And when the time comes, we have every reason to expect that those funds will be there.  Oh, and retiring at 70 doesn’t strike him as the best way to solve the problem but he wouldn’t absolutely rule it out.

I would like him to absolutely rule it out.  And not touch benefits.  Ok, just get away from the social security issue altogether.  Just don’t even go there.  Just don’t.

Also from Atrios is this:

Big signs popping up around the urban hellhole with pictures of Obama, the 2008 logo/colors, saying “Support Obama. Vote Nov 2nd.”

That could come back to bite you in the aftermath of a big loss for Democrats.

Anglachel wrote another substantial, chewy post on WKJM’s Frustration (WKJM stands for Whoever Kidnapped Josh Marshall).  She takes on the Stevensonian side of the party that seems to be in control of the party apparatus this cycle.  (I’d LOVE to get her take on Chris Hedges ridiculous piece of revisionist history.  There’s some meaty material to work with there including what looks like a peculiar tendency towards left wing eschatology, although Hedges would probably vigorously deny it.)

About Josh Marshall, Anglachel writes:

What scares Marshall the most is not that Bill might be criticizing Obama, but that Bill’s very presence illustrates all that is missing from the current administration. Comparing the loss of the 1994 mid-terms to the potential loss of the 2010 mid-terms is an attempt to obfuscate causes by mindlessly jabbering about effects.

Yes, Obama came in to office with a hellacious mess on his hands – and a majority in both houses and an electorate screaming for change. He had the political opportunity of a lifetime to transform the fundamental terms of political engagement, just as both FDR and Reagan did. He could have taken on the banks. He could have charged ahead for substantive health care reform. He could have pounded the shit out the failed policies of the Reagan Revolution and pinned the blame for everything on them, and the country would have lapped it up exactly the way they responded to FDR. But he didn’t and now he will play (at best) catch up for the remaining two years.

WKJM is not the only one who is trying to avoid talking about thereasons for party discontent by presenting a half-assed and historically inaccurate picture of the 1994 mid-term election. What he doesn’t seem to get is that because the majority of the nation doesn’t hold the Clintons in contempt the way he and the other Purchased Fellows do, every time he (and others of his ilk) make this comparison, he keeps reminding us about the way Bill never quit, never gave up, never stopped articulating his vision of what the party should be and how he was going to work to achieve that end. And that resulted in retaining the White House in 1996, and gaining back House seats in the next three elections – 1996, 1998, 2000.

Basically, we’re being held hostage by these guys whose fervent belief in Clinton’s betrayal of the party is resistant to any presentation of facts to the contrary or even that the working class seem to still like him in spite of all that the Stevensonians feel Clinton did to them.  Never let ugly facts get in the way of beautiful theories.  That’s not politics.  That’s religion.  It’s based on faith, not reason.

In the aftermath of the healthcare reform act, the benefits seem to be accruing for Republicans this election cycle.  Quelle Surprise.  Have you gotten your bennies package for next year yet?  There goes another whopping chunk of change.

It’s almost as if Obama *wanted* the Republicans to win.

In Senate races, it looks like in the aftermath of Christine O’Donnell’s primary win in Delaware, Pennsylvania voters are turning to Sestak.

And now for something completely different, Melvyn Bragg of  the In Our Time podcast on BBC4 discusses the legends and myths related to The Unicorn.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?

And now, the lighter side of emotional self indulgent navel gazing: