Bernie Sanders For Gadfly

bernie-sandersWonkette said it best today, “Bernie Sanders has approximately zero percent chance of being elected president.” And yet I’m excited about him entering the race for the Democratic nomination for president, probably tomorrow.

Bernie will fractionally do to Hillary what the right wing of the Republican Party did to Mitt Romney… in the opposite direction.

Even though Sanders isn’t particularly well known outside Vermont (where he won his last Senatorial election with 71% of the vote, even against candidates from the Republicans, Marijuana Party and a guy named named Pete Moss!) his ideas are. He speaks to labor and the forgotten middle class. He rails against the moneyed and powerful (actually the powerfully moneyed).

Without Sanders in the race, Hillary Clinton could stake out her territory by being a centrist or even right-of-centrist candidate.

Mitt Romney was a reasonably middle-of-the-road governor in Massachusetts. He was for a lot of things there that he was forced to run against as the Republican candidate for president.

“What we have seen is that while the average person is working longer hours for lower wages, we have seen a huge increase in income and wealth inequality, which is now reaching obscene levels,” Sanders told the AP.

“This is a rigged economy, which works for the rich and the powerful, and is not working for ordinary Americans. … You know, this country just does not belong to a handful of billionaires.” – AP

Now things get interesting.

Why Politics And Politicians Suck

There are loads of ways to disagree without making foolish claims like this, which no one should take at face value. You don’t take them at face value, do you?

put kids first.jpg-large

I follow the GOP on Twitter. They posted this today:

GOP 2:30pm via Sprinklr
Harry Reid supports trapping kids in failing schools. Tell him: Give #schoolchoice a vote.

As with many issues Republicans and Democrats disagree. But does anyone actually think “Harry Reid supports trapping kids in failing schools?” It’s a ridiculous claim.

Why do politicians throw Molotov cocktails at each other? Where is civil discourse?

It’s this kind of inflammatory rhetoric on both sides that keeps anything from being accomplished. Sentences like this make compromise or any kind of reasonable achievement nearly impossible.

There are loads of ways to disagree without making foolish claims like this, which no one should take at face value. You don’t take them at face value, do you?

Blogger’s note: I chose this Republican tweet as a demonstration, but if you have a similar Democratic claim, please include it in the comments. This crap is, unfortunately, bipartisan.

I’m A Political Junkie

Have the Republicans marginalized their chance in the general election by moving outside our nation’s norm? Could be. Or maybe it’s me who’s out-of-step?

I am a political junkie. I follow politics, but more importantly I usually enjoy following politics. That being said I’m sick of Iowa and ready to move on. In fact more ready to move on than see the results!

Rick Santorum helped me better understand my own angst by explaining today he supported Mitt Romney in 2008 because Romney was more conservative than John McCain. Of course Santorum is and all the other candidates now claim to be more conservative than Romney.

Wherever the Republican Party was four years ago it’s more conservative today.

Have the Republicans marginalized their chance in the general election by moving outside our nation’s norm? Could be. Or maybe it’s me who’s out-of-step?

I don’t like Romney. It has been said he looks like the guy who fired your dad.

I disapprove of the role of firms like Bain Capitol in our economy. It is Romney whose leadership at Bain helped shape that parasitic industry. He is very good at doing something most of us would find quite distasteful. In Bain’s game there are a few big winners and a lot of losers!

Dislike is one thing. A few of the candidates outright scare me.

I am obviously not the target audience for the candidates in Iowa.

This is not to say President Obama is the draw he was four years ago. Sure he walked into a horrific situation left by the previous administration, but it’s the other stuff that’s upsetting.

He gave telcos who spied on American citizens (aka – us!) retroactive immunity. The Patriot Act and other affronts to our liberty remain in place. The Bush era tax cuts remain for the wealthy. Guantanamo. Our continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. NDAA. It goes on.

Even with those weaknesses barring a “’68 Chicago” scene at the Democratic Convention I can’t imagine the Republicans winning.

Maybe I should follow my weather advice and avoid long range forecasting. It’s seldom right.

Some Of My Best Friends Are Republicans

Look at these candidates and understand why you shouldn’t get engaged on the first date!

Between work and home news is a nearly constant companion. I watch and read too much news! That’s especially true pre-Iowa when I’m watching the dance for the Republican presidential nomination. Look at these candidates and understand why you shouldn’t get engaged on the first date!

Tucker Carlson, a man with whom I share virtually no opinions put his finger on it yesterday while referencing Tea Party influence on Republicans.

I think it’s had a huge effect, and its biggest effect that almost no one ever mentions is that the Tea Party destroyed the Republican establishment.

Yes, Tucker. Though you’re still a weasel.

Look who’s running? There have been brief love affairs with Bachman, Trump, Perry, Cain and now Newt (forgive me–I love that I can call a man Newt). Each is dogmatically pure, but carries more baggage than a luggage store!

Gingrich has mostly been given a pass from the press. He’s now viable. He will now be scrutinized.

It will be interesting to see if Republicans agree he was hired post-Congress because he was a valuable historian.

Why would a sane person with middle-of-the-road or even slightly right-of-center leanings try for this nomination? You have to be ant-science, anti-tax, anti-compromise and the right kind of Christian. You have to pander to groups which hold much power at this stage of the process, but only a fraction in the general election.

It’s not that the Republican Party hasn’t had good ideas. They just can’t be brought out now because they won’t appeal to conservative Iowans and the farthest right.

The part of this primary process that boggles my mind is how many of the party’s most faithful are working against their own best interests. It’s tough to see how they benefit from the policies that are championing.

I am decidedly liberal progressive. I admit that. This isn’t about my desire for Republicans to adopt my philosophy. It’s just my wonderment why they aren’t trying to maximize their chances of winning?

John Huntsman scares me the most as the president’s opponent. He could be attractive to mainstream independent voters. He’s got no traction with Republicans.

It’s all very curious. Is having a philosophically pure candidate who can’t win in November the goal?

In many ways (manny, many ways) I have been disappointed by President Obama, but he doesn’t scare me. Some of these candidates do.

The Republican’s Dilemma

There are really two elections for president. The first election gets you nominated. The second gets you elected. They are very different elections with a very different electorate.

The 2012 presidential election is a long way off. There’s no way to know who the candidates will be (though President Obama as the Democratic nominee seems certain). The Republicans have a problem.

OK–first things first. Yes, I am a registered Democrat and probably more liberal than most. In that regard what I’m about to tell you is delicious.

However, this isn’t going to be a heavily partisan post. The Republican dilemma is real and the Republican leadership knows it.

There are really two elections for president. The first election gets you nominated. The second gets you elected. They are very different elections with a very different electorate.

Primaries attract less participation. Most people feel they’re not that important. That concentrates power in those who are motivated–often with narrowly defined issues that are very important to few.

Simply put you need to be farther right to win the Republican nomination than to win the general election. You need to be farther left to be nominated by the Democrats.

Today that motivated far-right wing of the Republican Party is the Tea Party. From where I sit they seem intransigent in their positions.

That’s why Mitt Romney has been forced to run away from moderate programs he endorsed while the Massachusetts governor. The same seems to be happening with Tim Pawlenty who was governor in Minnesota.

True moderates are scared to run because conciliatory talk about budget compromises or social programs will surely bring out “friendly fire” from the right! It’s already happened to Newt Gingrich!

Though the far right needs to be courted to get the nomination they really aren’t as necessary in the general election. It’s not as if these disappointed right-wingers will ditch a moderate Republican to vote to re-elect President Obama.

Candidates are left with a “Hobson’s Choice.”

Like I said, the election is a long way off. I’ll be interested in seeing how the Republicans intend to extricate themselves from this trap of their own making.

All The Dirt That’s Fit To Print Or Broadcast Or Browse

If Obama cured cancer, Drudge would find a downside.

As I write this a Chris Shays for Congress ad is on during the Emmys. Even Republicans are running against the Republican Party. Shays is. Everyone’s a rebel.

I’ve read a lot about this presidential race being the meanest, dirtiest ever–and then I’ve read it’s not. Who knows? There’s no shortage of bullshit available on both sides.

This is probably our most partisan election as far as media goes.

There’s Fox–strongly Republican, though publicly in denial. Rupert Murdoch was on Fox last week saying what awful would happen if Obama is elected.

MSNBC has turned sharply Democratic and otherwise left-of-center with Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. It’s a little less comfortable for MSNBC. Unlike Fox, there is an affiliation with a non-partisan news organization (NBC) and no Roger Ailes. They’d do better with a Roger Ailes to run interference.

I am most intrigued with politically slanted coverage on the net. I’ve been a big Drudge reader for years. He is heavily out in support of McCain/Palin. Tonight on Drudge:



If Obama cured cancer, Drudge would find a downside.

Drudge is now balanced by Huffington Post. Wasn’t Arianna Huffington once a conservative? On Huffington McCain can do no right.

Obama: Bailout Plan Must Address “The Crisis On Main Street And Around Kitchen Tables Across America”

Here’s the problem with all this vitriol. Once the election is over there’s going to be a huge segment of our population unhappy and ready to hatchet whomever wins. No matter what the result, this promises to be the most divisive (and derisive) election I can remember.

Twitter Is Holding My Attention

kevinrose Just walked into the bar with this dog (see earlier vid), holy hell, 5 girls came up in 2 mins. This dog is gold!

I’m still up in the air about Twitter. I like it, but I’m feeling unfulfilled. Maybe I don’t know how to use it correctly. It would work a whole lot better if “twits” updated in real time and the whole thing operated outside the browser.

Here are some random “twits” I enjoyed… and the raison d’être I come back.

Kevin Rose kevinrose Just walked into the bar with this dog (see earlier vid), holy hell, 5 girls came up in 2 mins. This dog is gold!

Harry McCracken harrymccracken Just felt it! (There was a small quake in Northern California last night – Geoff)

LanceUlanoff Curse you Brett Myers!

mattcutts Duncan Riley is auctioning his original Google Chrome comic book: .

mattizcoop Chilling with the boy, regretting the 5:55 AM flight out of MSP, bumming out that Heart put the kibosh on use of “Barracuda” for Sarahcuda.

anamariecox Forgotten Tweet from Google bash: asked vet GOP operative what he thought of the nite’s stagecraft and he said “my eyes are still bleeding.”

Brian Heater bheater @dancosta Microsoft is to the Future as McCain is to Change. Discuss

HowardKurtz So many media folks on this plane, hope the Repubs dont launch an elite-seeking missile.

Kirk Varner kirkv Anyone want to wager that these are the last political party conventions that ABC/CBS/NBC give up any primetime for?

Mr. TV Barn tvbarn Watching the Royals play a makeup game in an almost entirely empty Kauffman Stadium; you can even hear Jose Guillen grumbling in the dugout

geofffox Mixed emotions hoping winds/rain are heavy enough to justify my forecast, light enough not to injure. Always forecast with conscience.

The world summarized in 140 characters or less!

Getting Out My Vote

I just voted. I am proud to say this is my 33 consecutive election. I’m not sure why, but I don’t think I voted when I was 21 (the eligible age then).

My first vote was in the Nixon – McGovern election of 1972. I was living in Charlotte, NC and voted at Mallard Creek 2 (whatever that is). I was glad to vote, though it meant little. In that election, in North Carolina, Nixon had more than twice as many votes as McGovern. It wasn’t a whole letter different in the nation as a whole.

Our current polling station is in Steffie’s old elementary school. The school, a one story experiment in open classrooms (a failed experiment in my opinion), makes a great place to vote. There’s a large parking lot. It’s away from any kind of congestion. The lunchroom, where the machines are set up, is spacious.

A ‘greeter’ from the Republican Party, who was handing out literature to everyone who walked from the parking lot to the school, told me 30% of the registered voters had voted by noon. Considering there are no truly contested contests here, that’s astounding. I would think that will translate to 70% or better turnout by the time polls close.

Though the poll watchers knew me, they correctly asked me to produce identification. I took out my drivers license, got a card to hand to the person standing alongside the voting machine, and voted.

The voting machines we use are similar… maybe the same… as the machines I remember as a kid. There is a horizontal row of levers for each party with each individual office or question on a single vertical line. The whole process of voting took 30 seconds, maybe less.

I like to think I am informed and my vote is meaningful, but the ability to vote, in the abstract, is the important thing.

I wish I knew the results now. There probably are some people, with early access to exit polls, who already know the results of this election. I’ll have to wait until 8:00 PM.

Dirty Politics

There’s a campaign of negative advertising going on right now. It is aimed at John Kerry and sponsored by an organization which claims to be separate from the Republican Party. That’s what brings what I’m about to say to mind.

Negative advertising works.

I am not passing judgment on Senator Kerry or President Bush or even the Swift Boat Veterans group which is paying for the ads. All that will wash out over time, and it’s my intention to stay non-partisan here.

Negative advertising is the perfect political ploy because it satisfies two objectives. It puts your opponent on the defensive and it keeps him from setting his own agenda. So, a candidate is forced to abandon his strengths to shore up his weakness. Brilliant.

The fact that this is often done by surrogates (and the Democrats have their surrogates too) allows the candidate not being tarred to stay above it all.

Negative ads are used because they work. They change minds. They cause supporters to question their commitment. They sway the undecided.

You can get people to vote against a candidate. Until that changes, mud will continue to be thrown.