Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Archive for the ‘2012 elections’ Category

Ted Cruz must know about Canada before denouncing citizenship

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Thanks to the Dallas Morning News, Ted Cruz has “learned” that he has been a Canadian citizen for the last 43 years. And Cruz still doesn’t quite believe it.

And this from a sitting U.S. senator who has argued before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Cruz wants to run away from Canada by instantly renouncing his Canadian citizenship to seem “more American” in order to run for president in 2016, and he may not even be eligible for the highest office.

Fortunately, Cruz has to go through a process before renouncing the citizenship he has had since 1970. And that will give him time to learn more about Canada.

For example, does Cruz know that Canadians can visit Cuba freely and without government interference. So Cruz can use his Canadian passport to visit his father’s homeland (Cruz’s father fought for Fidel Castro, really). Cruz can also learn that the United States gets more oil from Canada than any other country (his parents were working in the oil industry in Canada when Cruz was born), and that the two countries are each other’s largest trading partner.

With more on Cruz and his desire to renounce his Canadian citizenship, enjoy this column from our sister blog,


Farm Bill split should lead to frank food stamps discussion

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Instead of being subtle about its hatred for food stamps, the GOP is being openly hostile by splitting food assistance away from the Farm Bill. But for too long, the combination of subsidies for rich farmers and food assistance has stifled the conversation about changing our food approach.

So to match the aggressiveness of the GOP, the Liberals and progressives and Democratic politicians should fight back to not only hang on to the current food assistance but also increase its effectiveness. Dems would also benefit with pointing out some of the side issues involved in food assistance, such as raising the minimum wage. When fast food workers can’t afford to eat, when people are working more than one job and are still having trouble, the food system is broken.

For more on this, check out the latest column from our sister blog,

Barack Obama calls for infrastructure fixes 4 years too late

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In 2009, Barack Obama inherited a situation with crumbling infrastructure and a lot of people out of work. In a 2+2=4 world, the logical step would be to take the people out of work and have them build up infrastructure. Even if everyone couldn’t do those skills, there were enough people who could, and if they had jobs, other jobs and businesses wouldn’t have fallen in 2009 and 2010.

In 2009, if CBS or any other broadcast network came out with a show idea about giving someone a job, that could have turned into the next “American Idol” or “The Voice” or “So you think your smart 5th grader has talent.”

In 2013, President Barack Obama, having been elected to a second term, has proposed a “Fix it First” to help rebuild infrastructure. Obama said 70,000 bridges were in need of repair, among countless problems. Jon Stewart thought the bridges were a rather immediate concern.

In 2013, CBS is running a show called “The Job” where they make people go through humiliation for a “dream job” such as being an editorial assistant at Cosmopolitan magazine. As the promo notes — “the employer has all the power” — a rather depressing and not altogether accurate statement.

This feels more about humiliation than help; Stephen Colbert put it best when he labeled the program despertainment.

“And with one hire per show, ‘The Job’ should run for 12.3 million episodes.”

In both cases, the feeling is “too little, way too late.” The difference is that Obama is being sincere and CBS, well, doesn’t look like they really want to help.

Our infrastructure still needs fixing as does our job market. So we can certainly use the help. One bridge and one job at a time is too little, but better than we have had lately.

Getting infrastructure improved and a jobs program requires help from the GOP, and that party isn’t interested. Nor are Republicans game for raising the minimum wage.

Republicans preach about the value of work, yet they aren’t willing to pay for it. The proposed raise to $9/hour wouldn’t be immediate. The minimum wage would go up incrementally over three years to $9. Even then, the minimum wage will be undervalued, worse if someone is a tipped employee.

Liberals joke that the GOP wants the world of “Leave It to Beaver” brought to life. If the minimum wage reflected buying power in 1957, the wage would be well beyond $9 right now.

The United States needs rebuilding, but the GOP doesn’t want to pay for it. Poor people need a raise, but the GOP doesn’t want to pay for it. The GOP wants people to get jobs, but won’t submit any plan to get those jobs.

The good news for the Republicans is that Barack Obama can’t run for president in 2016. So they might as well give Obama the chance to succeed or fail based on his requests. Don’t worry, Obama won’t get as much horrible stuff as you think he will, or anyone else for that matter.

We need help, but the GOP doesn’t want us to get that help. The GOP House controls the House. So as the saying goes, “Lead or get out of the way.”

Senate needs Mo Cowan, mo’ African Americans

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Someday, you can tell your grandchildren that you were alive when the Senate first had two African-Americans at the same time. Hopefully, your grandchildren will find that strange, since the Senate would be full of African-Americans.

U.S. senators of Hispanic descent haven’t had much trouble getting elected. Women also have an easy time getting in, though not nearly at the level that they exist in the real world. But having African-Americans in the Senate is still a gigantic hurdle.

When conservatives point out that black people have made it because Barack Obama was elected president, now twice, the United States has only had three elected African-American senators.

Mo Cowan is the newest senator, being appointed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (one of two total elected black state governors) to replace John Kerry, the new Secretary of State.

Cowan joins Tim Scott, appointed by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to replace Jim DeMint. Cowan will have a short stay in the Senate with the special election to fill the remainder of Kerry’s seat on June 25. Scott gets to stay at least until 2014, though Scott is likely to run again to keep the seat.

The only other African American to represent the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was one of the three elected senators. Edward Brooke held the seat as a Republican from 1967-1979. Our current president, Barack Obama, is one of the three to be elected. Carol Moseley Braun is the other elected senator, representing Illinois from 1993-1999.

Scott and Cowan join Roland Burris (D-IL) as appointed senators since Reconstruction.

The common political adage is that African Americans can win local races but not statewide races. After all, the Congressional Black Caucus proves that African-Americans can get elected to the House. Interestingly, Scott is the only one on the list who has served in the House of Representatives. Often, senators get elected out of the House.

3 elected senators, 2 elected governors — this isn’t progress. Appointing senators gives the power of incumbency, which can lead to re-election. Burris had no chance of winning re-election and Cowan is trapped in a scenario where running for the election isn’t viable.

Scott has a chance to be elected to his seat; if that happens and no other African Americans run and win in 2014, then he will be the fourth elected senator and the second Republican.

Obama became president by serving less than a term in the U.S. Senate, an unusual path regardless of race. Governors and senators run for president, yet very few of them are African American. At this pace, we’ll look back fondly on the just past Inauguration. We just saw the re-election of America’s first black president. It will be awhile before we see that again. maybe our grandchildren will tell a different story.

Massachusetts Dems should learn from GOP on Senate succession policy

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When Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) died, the terms of succession fell to the governor who had to chose between three candidates supplies by the party of the senator.

When Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY) died, the terms of succession fell to the governor who had to chose between three candidates supplies by the party of the senator.

In Hawaii and Wyoming, both governors happened to be from the same party as the senator in question. Those two states are likely to have that scenario of Democratic in Hawaii and Republican in Wyoming. The law is a good safeguard in case the circumstances change.

When the Massachusetts legislature changed the rule for senator succession, the Dems were trying to avoid having Mitt Romney pick a Republican to replace John Kerry. The Dems didn’t go the route of Hawaii, Wyoming, Arizona, and a number of other states. After all, when John McCain ran for president in 2008, a similar law was in place.

The Massachusetts Dems got victimized when Scott Brown won a special election against Martha Coakley for Ted Kennedy’s seat. And they could suffer the same kind of bite, ironically for John Kerry’s Senate seat.

The play by McCain, Lindsay Graham, Kelly Ayotte, and Joe Lieberman (behind the curtain) against Susan Rice was made to open up Kerry’s Senate seat. And it worked, at least in opening up the seat.

In the 2004 scenario, Gov. Romney would have had to pick a Democratic replacement. In 2009, Gov. Deval Patrick, a fellow Democratic politician, would have had to pick a Democratic replacement.

The only way the law could have backfired on the Dems is if a Republican in the seat died or left the Senate, and the Dems couldn’t get back the seat right away.

Somehow, this feels a bit more democratic (small d). The voters voted in someone whose values reflect on the majority of those who voted for the senator. Giving the governor the all-knowing decision power has, on occasion, been abused. You might be thinking Rod Blagojevich (Illinois), and this is true. Would also offer up Frank Murkowski (Alaska), who upon going from the Senate to the governor’s chair, replaced himself with his daughter, Lisa. (Sarah Palin beat Frank Murkowski in the governor primary in the next election, so you can blame Frank Murkowski.)

Barack Obama has 4 more years, but we need to help to improve U.S. food supply

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Just before Noon Eastern, Barack Obama will have about 4 more years to do what he can for the U.S. food supply.

Obama has a lot of his mind, but no president has tried to do more for the problems with the food supply than Barack Obama. And his wife has done more than he has on the issue.

For a look at what may come in the second term of the Obama Administration, check out this column from our sister blog,

Way too soon to critique diversity in Obama second-term Cabinet

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President Barack Obama finally got a strong bipartisan consensus on a move that he has made. The situation wasn’t easy, and maybe some people in each party can live with the decision that Obama has made, but the extremes in both parties are not happy with Obama’s decision.

That’s right, Obama has bipartisan consensus … against Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense.

Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, is disliked by the right because he wasn’t conservative enough. He’s from Nebraska; how “liberal” could he be?

The choice of Hagel is disliked on the left for his remarks about gays. Barney Frank, who want to be John Kerry’s interim replacement, initially went against Hagel but changed his mind. Oh, and this annoying trait of Democratic centrist presidents choosing Republicans to run defense.

For the centrist Obama, Hagel is the choice that makes the most sense to him, but is one of those decisions that Obama makes that alienates his base but doesn’t give him any credit from the other side.

Obama took the token symbolism of picking a squishy centrist person from the other party for the cabinet and cranked it up. Obama kept Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, added Ray LaHood for transportation, something Dems actually care about, and wanted (foolishly) to pick Judd Gregg for Commerce. How many points did Obama score with the GOP and the MSM? Zero.

Leon Panetta wasn’t a great defense secretary, but Panetta was the first Democratic defense secretary since 1997. Still waiting for the first Republican president to put a Democratic person in charge of defense.

Yes, Bill Clinton and Obama showed they could work with people on the other side of the glass. The moves haven’t been complimented by actions from the other side. Yes, critics could cite Norman Mineta, but if you don’t remember who Mineta is or what he did, then it wasn’t that memorable, was it?

The pick of Hagel, along with a few preliminary Cabinet selections, has led the MSM to create a false scandal and some outlets to invoke the “binders of women” on Obama. WTF?

The basis of this “scandal” is that four white men are the nominees for State, Defense, CIA, and Treasury. However, the current people in those positions and three white men and Hillary Clinton. So where’s the scandal?

Susan Rice could have been the State nominee but her name was pulled before a nomination thanks to bullying by McCain-Graham-Ayotte (MGA?). Michèle Flournoy is a very good contender for Defense, and the immediate thought if the Hagel nomination doesn’t go through the Senate. No woman has ever served as the head of Defense.

Lisa Jackson is leaving EPA and Hilda Solis just resigned as the head of Labor. Solis was the first Latina female in a Cabinet post. But the Obama Administration hasn’t announced replacements.

In terms of representation and competence within that, Obama’s numbers are off the charts. This isn’t to say Obama handled the Susan Rice situation well. But Rice is still the UN Ambassador, a rather important position.

If the end result is a significant loss of diversity, then feel free to criticize the president. One position change doesn’t amount to a scandal.