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No One Heard at All, Not Even the Chair Sep. 2nd, 2012 @ 12:00 am
So, here we are, after a week of the Republican National Convention and I didn't cover all of it. Sadly, after watching a night or two, I knew each night wouldn't be quite enough to make in and of itself without getting nitpicky, so we go with the overall. And I'm glad I waited. Clint Eastwood provided what can only be called the touchstone moment of the entire convention, and indeed the entire campaign, when he spent eight minutes snarking at an empty chair. The empty chair supposedly had Obama in it and Eastwood would pretend he was talking to him and only he could hear what Obama was saying, but at the end of the day, it was just an old guy yelling at a chair. Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, gave a speech that didn't mention Romney. Condolezza Rice gave a speech that was cheered in a parts and met with odd silence when she mentioned Jim Crow. Susanna Martinez, governor of New Mexico, was met with cold applause when she tried to bring in Latino/a issues, but cheered loudly when she mention what weapons she carried in her youth. Paul Ryan gave a speech that has been excoriated by factcheckers. Romney, in his acceptance speech, said a lot of things that some people liked but skipped over some facts. Note, not lied, just skipped over some parts. It was also, sadly, not the speech he needed to win people over to his side. In baseball terms, he hit a solid double when he needed a home run. In golf, he needed a birdie and decided to lay up and putt from the green. In layman's terms, it was a solid B/B- of a speech. Nothing bad, but nothing great. So the image we have left to us is an old white guy yelling at an empty chair, the most fitting symbol.

Empty Chair and an Empty SuitCollapse )

And an old white guy yelling at an empty might be entertaining, but changes no one's mind.

So it is written, so do I see it.

What Storms to Weather Aug. 27th, 2012 @ 12:00 am
The Republican National Convention was scheduled to start Monday, but has been postponed for a day because of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Issac. The storm also disrupted plans for Vice President Joe Biden to tour Florida in a counter-programming attempt. Being that the convention is in Tampa and this is the height of hurricane season for that part of the world, the Republicans might be accused of poor planning in favor of trying to garner some excitement in a swing state. One reason the convention was postponed was because the original plan for security in Tampa was for officers to be called in from all over the Sunshine State to help supplement local forces in deal with protestors, motorcades and other heavy lifting. However, with the storm bearing down, those officers wouldn't be available for those kinds of duties. If that were the end of the Republican problems this week, that would be a blessing. While he won't be in there in person, Todd Akin's presence will be felt by every Republican in attendance, largely by protestors and the Paul dynasty is making their presence felt by one speaking in prime-time (Senator Rand Paul) and one not speaking because he couldn't betray his conscience in a way to endorse Mitt Romney (Representative Ron Paul). Not to mention, somehow in all of this, Romney has to define himself in a new light and bridge some serious gaps.

When It Rains, It PoursCollapse )

What Romney will soon be known for is losing to Obama in 2012.

So it is written, so do I see it.

How to Blow an Election Aug. 26th, 2012 @ 12:00 am
Most of the political news this week was focused on Missouri senate candidate Todd Akin and his declaration that legitimate rape rarely causes pregnancy and his decision to stay in the race. What got missed by many of the media was the predicament that Minnesota State Representative Kerry Gauthier who had to drop out of his own race after he was caught by police engaging in oral sex with a 17 year old boy at a rest stop. At first, he had looked like he was going to stay in the state race, but the Democratic party convinced him to drop out. In Minnesota, the Democrats are looking to take back the House after years of Republican control and out of fears of having a Governor Walker like situation happen there like it did in Wisconsin. Akin was also called on by every member of the Republican who could draw breath to step down, but has refused. Now, if he were to step down, it would take a court order for him to be removed from the ballots and he would have to pay for the reprinting of ballots. While most people can agree that sex with a minor is a more important issue than statements on abortion, Akin has drawn a lot more heat than Gauthier has. Some have attributed this to media bias, some have attributed this to disparity in power of the two races (a Minnesota state race versus a national senate race), but there is something greater at play here. Akin has displayed two things people love to watch fall apart: pride and willful ignorance.

Losing a Race Before It"s OverCollapse )

And that's a heavy load for a man to swallow.

So it is written, so do I see it.

The R Does Not Stand for Rape Aug. 20th, 2012 @ 12:00 am
In what can only be called an effort to torpedo his own campaign, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), running for the Senate in Missouri said that "legitimate rape" leads to "the female body [trying] to shut that whole thing down." Comments are here and the video of the morning show he said this on is available here. Yes, he said that women who are raped rarely get pregnant because the female body will shut it down. Note, he was saying this while defending his views that abortion should not be a legal option under any circumstances, including rape and incest. He has sponsored legislation to limit abortion, funding, notification of same and defining a person at conception. Basically, he's been the pro-life poster boy in the House, which is what Clare McCaskill was counting on earlier in the primary season when she was subtle supporting him by calling him the most conservative man in Congress. Akin won that primary by just a few percent, and many polls actually had him ahead of McCaskill. While obviously there have been no polls as of yet in reaction to this, there is little doubt this won him any votes he did not already have and probably lost him votes he might have been able to win. What is even scarier in all of this is that Republicans are not likely to disown this guy like Democrats did to Clayton in Tennessee. The most disturbing thing is that this is not the first time Republicans have been in trouble with women over rape, female physiology, or badly connecting with female voters.

Moynihan Was RightCollapse )

It is, however, a judgement, that McCaskill's race just got a whole lot easier.

So it is written, so do I see it.

The Dog Races Aug. 15th, 2012 @ 12:00 am
While everyone has been focused on the presidential race, especially after Romney declared Ryan to be his VP pick, there have been a lot of things happening. The Tennessee race got interesting because the Democrats have officially renounced the candidate who won the primary there. Tonight, Tommy Thompson won the Republican Senate primary race in Wisconsin and WWE titan Linda McMahon won in Connecticut, beating out an actual lawmaker to do so. As fans of the US system will know, we put up 1/3 of the Senate for vote every two years. Each Senator serves a six-year term, but the chamber can change pretty quickly. This has the potential of being one of those years. While a number of Republicans are retiring, such as Olympia Snowe (R-ME), many retiring are Democrats, such as Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Herb Kohl (D-WI) Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Jim Webb (D-VA) and one is Joe Lieberman (who was facing certain defeat anyway). They are retiring for all kinds of reason like Health (Akaka, Kohl) and some are just sick of the Senate (Webb, Snowe, Bingaman) and some are just wanting to get out while the getting is good (Nelson, Lieberman). This has left the Senate in a precarious position for the Democrats since this means there are more of their seats to defend. The upside for Democrats is that it is a presidential year, and that means more voters are going to the polls anyway. The downside is they are defending a lot more territory than they were hoping for. While to defend everything is to defend nothing, the Democrats are hoping to paint the Republican Senate hopefuls a singular force, rather than individuals. And they have better luck this year than most.

Meanwhile, Back at the RanchCollapse )
But that's what an election year is, a lot of fun races everyone else misses.

So it is written, so do I see it.
Other entries
» Mad Money Men
In a move that surprised no political pundits who had been paying attention, Mitt Romney picked Rep. Paul Ryan to be his running mate in the upcoming election. Ryan, currently representing Wisconsin's First district, has been serving since 1999 and has long been a leader on fiscal responsibility and budgetary issues. Paul Ryan, long seen as a rising star in the Republican party, has been touted for much of the election as a possible running mate. He became the poster boy for Republican budgetary issues when he released The Path to Prosperity in April of 2011, and again this year. It's most notable for turning Medicare into a voucher system, repealing the Affordable Care Act and consolidating the tax bracket system into two brackets from the current six. The plan passed the House with no Democratic votes and died in the Senate. However, the effort did help solidify his reputation as a wonk and possibly the smartest Republican in the House. He's a wonk's wonk in terms of budget. His reputation outside the Beltway, however, is a little less well know and less nuanced. Many progressive groups have been fast to paint him as wanting to kill Medicare and gut Social Security under the name of fiscal responsibility. Under that banner, many of the right have embraced him lovingly, which Romney never seemed able to pull off. However, he hasn't captured all of the right and he may not be the man help Romney win in November. Indeed, Christmas may have come early for the President.

Who Needs Moderates AnywayCollapse )

And the only way to answer is to vote.

So it is written, so do I see it.

PS The jokes have started. The best nickname for the ticket I've heard so far, referencing both Romney's financial background and Ryan's plan for Medicare is "Vulture/Voucher '12"

Also, if people are interested, the full vetting report about Paul Ryan is here.
» How to Defeat a Field Without Engaging
Early Wednesday morning, it was confirmed that Rep. Todd Akin won the Republican senatorial primary, and will go forth to challenge sitting Senator Clare McCaskill. This was a three way race between Akin, currently a member of the House of Representatives and a Tea Party favorite, John Brunner former CEO of health and beauty care giant Vi-Jon and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman. Brunner had spent millions of his own money just to make it through the primary, and still came up short. Steelman had caught the eye and endorsement of Sarah Palin and came in third. Akin, seen by many as by far the most conservative candidate, which he pointed out many times. Interestingly, it was also pointed out by McCaskill and the Democratic party as means of both attacking him AND trying to get Republican base out to vote for him. He was the candidate the senator wanted to square off against since he was by far the furthest right of the candidates and she is hoping to paint him as so far outside the mainstream that she looks like the only logical choice. Brunner was her nightmare, both had tons of his own money and didn't look crazy as his opponents. Steelman considered herself the true Tea Party favorite since she was a) endorsed by Sarah Palin and b) had not been in the House for a few terms like Akin had. But McCaskill, in making a choice for Akin, has inadvertently shown the dilemma for modern Republican party.

Picking Your FightersCollapse )

And until the Republicans remember the fight is about the middle, they will keep losing it.

So it is written, so do I see it.
» Reverse Offense
Last week, on his way out the door, Sen. Reid claimed that someone told him that Romney paid no taxes for 10 years. Reid himself said he was unsure of this information, but that didn't stop him from going forward to the media with it. And given he's in his home state for the rest of the month and not up for re-election this year, this was a pretty consequence thing to say. After all, Romney has not released much of tax returns, just last year and an estimate of this year. He has also made the release of his tax returns out to be a a sore subject for the candidate. Sen. Reid's accusations, more accurately insinuations, would not be printable in most mainstream media, but they did produce a strong response from the right. RNC chair Reince Priebus said Reid was just a dirty liar who had never personally filed a tax return. Other Republicans were just as quick to pounce on Harry Reid, and call him a liar, a bad man and generally attack his statement on character or moral grounds. None of them, however, really said "that's untrue, and I can prove it". And they didn't say that for a good reason, they can't. As long as Romney refuses to release tax returns and let voters do due diligence on the candidate, the old Washington standby for getting attacked will have to do: attack the person attacking you. This is wisely not referred to as defense, since that would involve shielding or deflecting the blow directly. This is how Washington defends itself, not with facts, but with attacks and sadly, it has spread well beyond Washington political culture. We've let ourselves be convinced that if someone can be painted as less than saintly, then they must be wrong about everything. And if someone is right, then they have done no wrong. And it leaves us all without responsibility for anything

The old one-two-fuck youCollapse )

And he hopes that none of us will notice that, for all his punches, he still can't connect.

So it is written, so do I see it.
» STOCKs and Bonds
Earlier this year, President Obama pushed for, and actually got, Congress to pass stricter rules about members of Congress using special knowledge to make moves on investments. For just about everyone else, this was already illegal under insider trader regulations, but now there are stricter regulations that apply just to Congresscritters. The bill was later amended to include many members of the Executive branch, on the likely theory that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. So, in response to several investigations about possibly Congressional malfeasance, on April 4, the Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act was passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law very quickly by Barack Obama. Today, after an investigation by CNN, another law to supplement that law passed. Specifically, it prohibits family members of the above from trading on the same kind of knowledge. The Senate version of the original bill included tougher language that always included families, but the House version changed some things around and made it harder to enforce the same provision on families. This is not the only stand Obama has taken on money recently, he's also limited corporate donations to the Democratic party to just $100,000 rather than the more traditional "How much you got?" While it doesn't bind anyone else, it does show the one thing that is lacking when it comes to money and politics: restraint

Water and ConcreteCollapse )

And it's about time we got some of that back.

So it is written, so do I see it.
» Make the Son of a Bitch Proclaim It
Earlier today, Senator Harry Reid said that he was told that Romney paid no taxes for the past decade or so. He says he was told this by a former Bain Capital investor who worked closely with Romney. He also said that Romney's personal fortune is much more than what he is putting forth (around 250 million dollars). This report happened late enough in the day there was no real time for the Romney campaign to really respond, but it did fan the almost dying flames of the "where are his tax returns" controversy, which will now only get worse. It was pretty bad before since most presidential candidates had made a pretty decent show of releasing their tax returns for the previous decade or so, while Romney has only released partial tax returns of the past two years. The greatest irony in that is that his father was the one who started the tradition of releasing many years of tax returns; George Romney while running for president released 12 years of tax returns. In so many ways, Mitt Romney is looking to be the opposite campaign of his father. His father was strong on civil rights, despite being a Mormon Republican (this was back when the Church of Latter Days Saints officially considered African-Americans as having the Mark of Cain), was known for speaking too much then later having to correct himself (reporter Jack Germond joked he was going to add a key to his typewriter that just printed "Romney later explained") and was, wait for it, known for his flip flops. So while Mitt is running a more disciplined campaign that never over reveals, it also leaves more ink for the mistakes and trivia.

What the Harvard MBA Cannot TeachCollapse )

And on that day, he'll have to do the most dangerous thing of all: say something and stand by it.

So it is written, so do I see it.
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