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Archive for March 2012

2012 presidential notebook: What if the other Michael Steele and Joe Walsh ruled in politics?

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Wouldn’t Michael Steele have made an awesome RNC Chair? You can imagine that Joe Walsh would be a pretty cool Congressman?

We’re not talking about the Michael Steele that was the RNC Chair or the current Congressman named Joe Walsh. We’re referring to their musical counterparts.

Michael Steele plays bass and guitar, most notably with the Bangles, but also briefly with the Runaways. Joe Walsh is a guitar hero, known for the James Gang, Eagles, and a rather excellent solo career.

If the RNC had a female chair, you wouldn’t be seeing quite the War on Women we see today. Despite the stoner, laid-back dude image of the rock singer Joe Walsh, he is actually very smart and politically enlightened.

The Joe Walsh who is running is a teabagger who preaches fiscal responsibility while reportedly owing more than $117,000 in child support. Walsh’s challenger is Tammy Duckworth, Iraq War vet who lost her legs in that war. Duckworth ran for the seat in the 6th Congressional district and lost. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, has encouraged Duckworth to run for Congress back in 2006. When Obama got into office, Duckworth was picked to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs. You might also remember that Duckworth spoke on the third night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

On paper, this would be an obvious slam dunk for the Dems. The suburbs are growing more liberal. Obama coattails. Iraq War vet vs. deadbeat dad. However, incumbency — even one built on hypocrisy — requires a more intense effort. Duckworth hopes the second time is the charm.

We are less than 12 weeks from when Iowa started and you hear people are tired of the Republican race. For a society that puts up with “American Idol,” “The Voice,” “X Factor,” and “So You Think You Can Dance Smarter than a Fifth Grader,” we have a short attention span when it comes to presidential races. True, we haven’t had a long discussion on ideas in this race. The faux pas have dominated the attention because they are more interesting than the ideas.

What do Republicans want to do about health care? Aging infrastructure? Trade deficit with China? Alternative energies? If they know, will they tell us?

While picking on Florida is as easy as drinking a glass of orange juice, the Stand Your Ground laws are in multiple states. The issue in Florida is that the interpretation of the law is so broad that authorities don’t feel it necessary to arrest George Zimmerman. This isn’t to say that Zimmerman is guilty, but people in this country get arrested on less evidence than we know about Zimmerman. We do have a system of justice that discourages arrest unless you’re really sure, but this case has enough suspicion for questioning, interrogation, and subsequently, arrest.

People are protesting in great part not because they think Zimmerman is guilty, but that Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested. And if this was about a black man, the fear is that the arrest would have happened a long time ago.

We focus our elections microscope on presidents and to some extent, Congress. But what happens in the states matters greatly to the everyday lives of Americans. If Trayvon Martin had lived in a different state, he might still be dead, but at least, George Zimmerman would have been arrested.

They actually took a poll about whether Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul should drop out. No surprise: a majority said, “Sure. Why not?”

Ron Paul has been severely undercovered in this race. “Well, Ron Paul doesn’t win anything. Newt Gingrich hasn’t won since Georgia.”

Paul probably did win Maine, but there is little interest in finding that out. If he had won Maine, that would help a little. But since the press ignores him, why does it matter? Did it really hurt people to have Mike Gravel in the race in 2008?

Paul is different since he wasn’t expected to win. The issue with Gingrich staying in is two-fold: 1) he thinks he can still win, and 2) his presence has helped Romney, the man he wants to defeat. Gingrich is severely cutting back on his campaign, a sign that he thinks he can’t win in the traditional sense (still holding out hope for a brokered convention).

This is democracy; sometimes the packaging and presentation aren’t pretty. “We want a two-person race.” Well, you have a two-person race. These people are still on the ballot. You could have voted for Rick Perry in Illinois if you wanted to do so. This only happens every four years. Live with it.


Ontario’s brothels ruling proves Canada is way more clued-in than United States

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A practical, unanimous ruling saying that prostitutes have the right to protect themselves in their work. The Ontario Court of Appeal, the province’s highest court allowed for brothels, but solicitation is still illegal.

Prostitution is legal in Canada yet its society hasn’t fallen apart. Unless you count the Toronto Maple Leafs (hockey joke).

Canada also has figured out gay marriage and single-payer health care. Sigh. Watching the U.S. Supreme Court possibly bring down Obamacare before it had reached the masses makes you wonder why we haven’t all moved to Canada by now.

For more on Ontario and brothels and why they won’t kick in right away, check out our take from our sister blog,

Small businesses get tangled up in GOP obsession against birth control

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More Americans would start a small business if it weren’t for two crucial financial issues. Until Obamacare kicks in for the vast majority of Americans (assuming Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum or Sarah Palin don’t become president), buying health care insurance is next to impossible if you’ve had sniffles of any kind. And paying your own share of Social Security and FICA is financially depressing.

If you somehow leap over both those issues, Republicans in Arizona want to add an extra burden to your small business. You have to pay attention to your employees’ sex lives.

Some might consider this a perk to owning a business, but the party that claims to want government out of your private life wants to be in your private life.

The proposed law in Arizona would require women to disclose to their employer that they are on birth control and if they weren’t using it for their reproductive cycle, they would have to provide evidence to their employers that the drugs aren’t for avoiding pregnancy for birth control to be covered by health insurance. The bill also makes it easier for employers to fire a woman for using birth control to prevent pregnancy.

If someone shared that information with a boss or co-worker, TMI wouldn’t be a strong enough term to describe what was happening. The government requiring people to disclose that is TMG — Too Much Government.

Telling your boss about your birth control sounds mild compared to a proposed Tennessee law that would require women who get abortions to disclose marital status, education level, number of children, how many times she has been pregnant, location of the procedure and the doctor who performed the procedure. Even those who might think this would be an awesome law forget that miscarriages count in “how many times she has been pregnant.” Forcing a woman to relive that statistic qualifies as a violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Let’s not forget the New Hampshire (and possibly New Jersey and Kansas) effort where in the Granite State, a proposed law requires a doctor to inform women “at least 24 hours before the abortion” of “the increased risk of breast cancer” with abortion. Of course, there is no association. State sanctioned deception: Telling you a lie in order for you to get health care.

In a world that Alice in Wonderland would consider a little weird, corporations are people, corporations get to decide who gets what health care, yet people as people don’t have the rights that corporations have as people.

The divide has traditionally been “pro-life” — those who don’t want abortions — and “pro-choice” — those who want abortions for those who need them.

The left has countered that more birth control leads to fewer abortions. So does a strong economy. Abortions went down under Bill Clinton and up under George W. Bush, some of those numbers were economic-related.

What the new legislation tells us is that we are no longer talking about abortions. The “pro-life” element never agreed with the argument about more birth control, but kept the focus more on abortions. This was a smart political strategy because some independents aren’t crazy about abortion, even if they don’t want it to disappear.

For if the “pro-life” sector wanted fewer abortions, they would have agreed with the “pro-choice” argument. But they want fewer abortions AND less birth control, even for married couples. Independent men and women find that last part to be a lot creepy.

If you discount religion (for the moment), family planning is a win-win scenario. Women get to be in better health, the children who come out are better taken care of and better loved. And the health care market saves tons of money.

For the religions involved — primarily conservative Catholics and evangelical Christians — less birth control trumpets women’s health and health care savings. Their philosophy with children is “the more, the merrier.” Whether the children who come out are better taken care of and better loved — this isn’t a question they even think to ask.

The government — local, state, and federal — while defending the rights for those to observe religion, must put the health of those of us already here, especially the vulnerable, on a higher plane. After all, you don’t have to take birth control if you don’t want to do so, but the government shouldn’t have to humiliate people who are trying to get needed medical care.

Alberta party leader uses big breasts analogy to gain attention for upcoming provincial election

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The picture of the female party leader on her bus. Big bus wheels where her breasts would normally be. Sounds like a Sarah Palin Onion headline, but this actually happen with Danielle Smith and Alberta’s Wildrose Party. The Wildrose Party is for those conservatives who think the ruling Conservative Party isn’t conservative enough.

Smith’s picture has received viral attention, just what a party with 4 seats in the Alberta legislature needs come election time.

A party spokesperson said the party wants to focus on ideas.

Well, this isn’t a good start. On the heels of the War on Women fought in GOP-led legislatures to the South, this is tacky, even by Canadian standards. When you consider that Alberta just had its first female premier coming up for her first election, the timing is even worse.

You can read more on this and see the picture for yourself on our sister blog,

Written by democracysoup

March 21, 2012 at 7:35 am

Posted in 2012 elections, Canada

Dems voting for Rick Santorum sounds fun, but Republicans who voted for Barack Obama thought the same thing

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If you call yourself a Dem, liberal, or progressive, would you feel tempted to vote for Rick Santorum? Would you feel the same way if you talked to a Republican who voted for Barack Obama in the primary?

When you vote for president in November, you feel like on some level that your vote counts for something, even if you are a Republican in California or a Democratic person in Texas. You are also voting for representatives and senators that make an impact for your state in Washington.

Often in primaries, your vote doesn’t mean a whole lot if you don’t live in the early states. Democratic voters in 2008 got a taste of the good life with the battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Republican voters also got a little taste based from a deep dark secret in American democracy: the ability to vote in the other party’s primary.

Yes, some Republicans crossed over and voted for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries, especially later in the season once we knew John McCain would be the GOP nominee. And yes, some Republicans voted for Barack Obama because they thought he would be the weaker candidate in the fall.

Despite the hysteria, Obama has been rather good for Republicans. He added several Republicans to the Cabinet who are working hard. He went easy on George W. Bush and the banks and Wall Street. Gitmo is still around. We’re still cutting back on freedoms. And let’s not forget that the Bush tax cuts are still around … in 2012.

If a President Santorum comes as a result of Dems crossing over, they will have much more to fear from a Santorum Administration.

The Dems have the advantage of not worrying about their presidential primary in 2012. And if there isn’t a significant race elsewhere on the ballot, the temptation would be to vote in the GOP primary.

This is the case in Illinois today. I can tell you there is no incentive where I live to grab a Democratic ballot, and I can’t be alone. If I lived in the new Congressional district in Ohio where Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich were running against each other, nothing could make me grab a GOP ballot.

So I might vote in the Republican primary today. Or not.

If you are a Dem, and you do cross, who do you vote for? The obvious answer is Rick Santorum. He is seen as being the weaker candidate against President Barack Obama in November. But Republicans thought McCain had a better chance against Obama than Clinton.

Reading the tea leaves within a campaign is a tough go, especially if you have any emotion toward a side in the battle. Of course, Republicans thought Obama was the weaker candidate. Of course, Dems think Santorum is the weaker candidate.

Some pundits have compared Mitt Romney in 2012 to Bill Clinton in 1992, being candidates that the base wasn’t excited about. Some see that as brilliant, others as clueless. Comparing Barack Obama (2008) vs. Rick Santorum (2012) is seen either as brilliant or clueless. The voters will decide that in November.

Since Illinois isn’t a take-all primary, voting today for Rick Santorum won’t make as much of an impact as it would if it was a winner-take-all scenario. And if you live in Illinois in a Congressional district where Santorum didn’t fill out paperwork to collect a delegate, your vote for Santorum is virtually worthless.

Since I don’t disclose who I vote for, asking me who I voted for will be a moot point. (A lot of political reporters don’t vote at all.) But I will be tempted more than usual to go for a GOP ballot.

Mitt Romney’s Southern strategy relied too much on pandering, not enough on the economy

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“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

That famous Southern movie line summed up Mitt Romney’s Southern strategy. If you thought he was clueless and out of touch outside the South, nothing like references to “cheesy grits” and NASCAR owners and thinking Alabama sang “Sweet Home Alabama” to make you seem like a Yankee.

When Michiganders go into the forest with the trees at the right height, they like to hunt. So do Southerners. Michiganders feel like the economics leave them out in the cold. Southerners feel that way, too. Michigan builds cars. So do Southerners.

Romney went out of his way to not pander to Michiganders; he reinforced his support against a bailout of GM and Chrysler, even though it worked out well for all involved. Romney went out out of his way to pander to Southerners.

Romney won Michigan (barely). Romney finished in third in Mississippi and Alabama.

The South will not be excited about Romney, but where else will they go?

None of the three really hit on a major issue in the South: the economy. Romney talks pretty well about suffering but can’t/won’t talk about what can fix that. Tax cuts for the rich don’t make a viable economic plan, but it’s all Romney has.

While the press was focused on Mississippi and Alabama, Romney did win in Hawaii and American Samoa. While Romney didn’t have a great night, his nights are still better than anyone else running for president on the GOP side.

The best part was the press pondering that Newt Gingrich will finally get out. They are used to candidates dropping out due to a lack of votes or money or both.

What Mitt Romney has to contend with is three people who really have nothing better to do than stay in this race. This is Ron Paul’s last race, and the rumors of friendliness between Paul’s camp and Romney’s camp are only getting louder.

Newt Gingrich might want to be Rick Santorum’s VP nominee, but wants nothing from Romney. Santorum has the potential to be viable, and shouldn’t drop out. But even if he and Gingrich switched positions, Santorum wouldn’t want to leave either.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton might have seem heated in 2008, but both of them thought the other could be president. Santorum and Gingrich really don’t think Romney will get elected.

You can tell Gingrich that he will not win another state and he really doesn’t care. At first, I wondered if he was delusional. On this point, he might not be. Deep down, he knows but doesn’t care.

Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin don’t realize running for president takes a lot of hard work

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Running for president is hard. You have to set up a campaign, hire a staff, have smaller well-organized units in every state, and have people do a lot of minutiae to have the opportunity to have a successful presidential campaign.

While the process is more elaborate than it was when powdered wigs were all the rage, presidential candidates — successful or otherwise — pull this off. However, for the Republicans in 2012, organization isn’t one of their strong suits.

Mitt Romney may not have the most organized campaign in the history of the primaries. By comparison, Romney is the person helping the hoarders on reality TV and his competitors are the ones still looking for their house keys.

To paraphrase a well-known political slogan, “It’s the delegates, stupid.”

Newt Gingrich didn’t make every state ballot. Virginia was particularly an embarrassing moment for someone who is supposed to be the “Southern candidate.”

Our star pupil in how to not run a presidential campaign is Rick Santorum. Paperwork issues prevented Santorum from filing delegates in every Congressional district in Ohio. Santorum also has that problem in Illinois. And his attempts to blame it on a volunteer backfired badly.

Santorum choose voluntarily to not be on the ballot in the District of Columbia.

We elect presidents based on what they envision in the big picture. But running for president, like running government, involves lots and lots of minutiae. And how a presidential candidate runs a campaign reflects on how an administration would go.

Barack Obama, the candidate, ran one of the best elections in modern times. Minutiae was one of his strengths in the campaign. In office as president, Obama hasn’t always been up to the task. Federal judgeships don’t get filled fast enough; certain priorities get thrown to the side (Guantanamo).

The race in the primary is about delegates. Romney understands that better than Santorum or Gingrich. Obama understood this better than Hillary Clinton in 2008. When you don’t have a setup that is designed to get as many delegates as you can, then why are you running for president?

Sarah Palin wants to be president, but doesn’t want to run for president. Palin wanted to be vice president in 2008, but didn’t want to work that hard to get there.

As we relived in “Game Change” on HBO, the John McCain team realized that Palin’s knowledge wasn’t that strong. Yet what did Palin do to strengthen her knowledge? Knowing what we know now, Katie Couric’s job wasn’t that tough.

Palin didn’t know what the Fed was, why North Korea and South Korea are separate countries, and thought the Queen of England ran military policy.

But if the 2012 GOP convention is brokered, and no candidate has the magical 1144 delegate mark, Palin would consider being named the GOP 2012 presidential candidate.

Hey, Couric is headed toward syndication. Palin does appeal to the base. Imagine who she would vet for her vice presidential candidate?

Palin wouldn’t have to worry about building a state-by-state structure for a primary. She wouldn’t have to spend multiple weeks in Iowa, and campaigning furiously in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and points beyond. She wouldn’t have to spend 6 weeks in Pennsylvania, like Obama and Clinton did in 2008.

She already has done an 8-week adventure in 2008. And she wouldn’t have to worry about getting on the ballot since the national party structure is already built for her.

Going into this week, Romney has won delegates in every binding contest. Romney hasn’t lost any delegates that he could have earned. If Romney ends up as the presidential nominee with enough delegates, or some switch in Tampa, organization will be a solid ingredient in that success. While Obama the president may not be as organized as his supporters would hope, Romney will find out that Obama is not Santorum and Gingrich when it comes to being organized.