Posts Tagged ‘Election 2012’

Is the USA one nation, indivisible?

July 29, 2017

Updated 7/5/2017

Colin Woodard, a journalist and historian, claims that the United States of America is not a unified nation, but an arena of struggle among separate and distinct regional cultures.

For more than 250 years, he wrote, American history has been shaped by the basic conflict between regions he calls Yankeedom and Deep South, and the shifting alliances among the other regions.

Canada, too, is shaped by regional identity.   In fact, neither the United States nor Canada is a unified nation at all, according to Woodard; the real nations of North America are the 11 regional cultures, which are as follows:

  • Yankeedom, heirs of the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay.
  • New Netherland, heirs of the tolerant, commercial Dutch culture of New Amsterdam.
  • Midlands, heirs of the tolerant culture established by Quakers in the Delaware Bay.
  • Tidewater, heirs of the aristocratic culture established by Cavaliers around the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Greater Appalachia, heirs of the original settlers of the Appalachian back country
  • The Deep South, heirs of English West Indian slave owners who settled in South Carolina
  • The Left Coast, heirs of New England Yankees who settled the Pacific Northwest.
  • The Far West, heirs of the varied pioneers who settled this harsh region.
  • El Norte, heirs of the original Spanish settlers of northern Mexico and the American Southwest.
  • New France, heirs of the original French-Canadian settlers and their Cajun cousins.
  • First Nation, heirs of indigenous peoples of the Far North.

I recently finished reading his book, American Nations: the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (2011), on the recommendation of my friend, Janus Mary Jones.

I think the regional rivalries he described are real.  I learned things I hadn’t known.  But I think he errs in trying to interpret American history exclusively in terms of regional conflict.

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The high cost of politics

May 23, 2013

ElectionBought

Hat tip for the infographic to United Republic.

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United States election map 2012

November 8, 2012

2012electionresults

Here’s another election map, this one from Canada’s National Post.

Hat tip to catherinephung.

Which is the real Mitt Romney?

October 4, 2012

Which is the real Mitt Romney?  The ruthless Bain Capital financial operator?  The moderate and competent governor of Massachusetts?  The radical right-winger of the Republican primaries?  Or the compassionate conservative of last night’s debate?

Poor President Obama was at a loss, because he was debating the positions Mitt Romney took a couple of weeks ago, not what Romney was saying last night.   I am old enough to remember the New Nixon, supposedly a kinder, gentler version of the previous Richard Nixon.   Now we have a New Romney.   As I did with Nixon, I wonder how long this will last.

A time for decision

October 4, 2012

politics democrats vs. republicans

My desired outcome for the Presidential election is that the Green Party, the Libertarian Party or both get a larger number of votes than the margin of victory in the popular vote between the Democratic and Republican candidate.

My ideal (unrealistic, I know) outcome is that the Greens and Libertarians would gradually replace or take over the Democrats and Republicans, so that we Americans would have an actual choice of parties based on genuine differences of principle.

Click on Political Cartoons from Tom Toles for more cartoons.

Four reasons Romney might still win

September 25, 2012

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Governor Romney’s presidential election campaign is in disarray, and polls show President Obama with a small lead in the popular vote nationwide and the key swing states.  But economist Robert Reich, an Obama supporter, says it’s too soon to count Romney out.  Here’s why.

1. Between now and Election Day come two jobs reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics – October 5 and November 2.  If they’re as bad as the last report, showing only 96,000 jobs added in August (125,000 are needed just to keep up with population growth) and the lowest percentage of employed adults since 1981, Romney’s claim the economy is off track becomes more credible, and Obama’s that it’s on the mend harder to defend.

With gas prices rising, corporate profits shrinking, most of Europe in recession, Japan still a basket case, and the Chinese economy slowing, the upcoming job reports are unlikely to be stellar.

2. Also between now and Election Day are three presidential debates, starting October 3. It’s commonly thought Obama will win them handily but that expectation may be very wrong – and could work against him. Yes, Romney is an automaton – but when the dials are set properly he can give a good imitation of a human engaged in sharp debate. He did well in the Republican primary debates.

Obama, by contrast, can come off slow and ponderous. Recall how he stuttered and stumbled during the 2008 Democratic primary debates. And he hasn’t been in a real-live debate for four years; Romney recently emerged from almost a year of them.

3. During the next seven final weeks of the campaign, the anti-Obama forces will be spending a gigantic amount of money.  Not just the Romney campaign and Romney’s super PACs, but other super PACS aligned with Romney, billionaires spending their own fortunes, and non-profit “social welfare” organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, Karl Rove’s “Crossroads,” and various Koch-brothers political fronts—all will dump hundreds of millions on TV and radio spots, much of it spreading lies and distortions. Some of this money will be devoted to get-out-the-vote drives—to phone banks and door-to-door canvassing to identify favorable voters, and vans to bring them to the polling stations.

It’s an easy bet they’ll far outspend Obama and his allies.  I’ve heard two-to-one.  The race is still close enough that a comparative handful of voters in swing states can make the difference – which means gobs of money used to motivate voters to polling stations can be critical.

4.  As they’ve displayed before, the Republican Party will do whatever it can to win – even if it means disenfranchising certain voters.  To date, 11 states have enacted voter identification laws, all designed by Republican legislatures and governors to dampen Democratic turnout.

The GOP is also encouraging what can only be termed “voter vigilante” groups to “monitor polling stations to prevent fraud” – which means intimidating minorities who have every right to vote.  We can’t know at this point how successful these efforts may be but it’s a dangerous wildcard.  And what about those Diebold voting machines?

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And even if Obama is reelected, more hard work begins after Inauguration Day—when we must push him to be tougher on the Republicans than he was in his first term, and do what the nation needs.

via FOCUS.

Robert Reich appears to be operating on the theory that President Obama’s shortcomings as President are a result of him giving in to his Republican opponents.  But what if Barack Obama’s pro-Wall Street and pro-militarist politics are what he in fact believes in?   Pushing Obama to do what the nation needs will be a lot  harder than re-electing him.

I can’t see Barack Obama as anything more than a lesser evil than Mitt Romney, and perhaps not even that.   If Mitt Romney wins based on the poor economy, or on performing better than Obama in the debates, or even on spending more money, so be it. But the Republican voter suppression campaign is in a different category.  A Romney victory based on voter suppression would be an attack on the American democratic process itself.

Click on Four Reasons Why Romney Might Still Win for the full comment by Robert Reich on his web log.

Click on FiveThirtyEight for the expert and impartial analysis of polls and statistics by Nate Silver for the New York Times.

Click on Obama vs. Romney Electoral Map for the Huffington Post’s updates and summaries of poll results.

Click on TPM Electoral College Scorecard for Talking Points Memo’s map updating and summarizing poll results.

Hat tip to Hal Bauer for the Robert Reich link.

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Homer Simpson casts his vote

September 21, 2012

Hat tip to The Dish.

Is President Obama the best we can expect?

September 8, 2012

These two videos are segments of a debate yesterday on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now program.  Glen Ford, a professor of sociology at Georgetown University, argued that Barack Obama, with all his flaws, is the most progressive President who has a chance of being elected, while Michael Eric Dyson, editor of the on-line Black Agenda Report, said that Obama, compared to Mitt Romney, is the more “effective evil” in his support of Wall Street and undeclared war.  Interestingly, Dyson plans to vote for Obama just the same.

Click on The Black Left Debates Barack Obama for a link to the complete debate, comment by Ta-Nehisi Coates and an interesting discussion thread.

Machine politics: the real threat of voter fraud

August 27, 2012

While great effort is being put into meeting the supposed threat of voting by people without proper ID, a more serious threat of election fraud is virtually ignored.  About one in four American voters will vote on digital electronic voting machines without any paper record to verify the machine tallied the results correctly.  Furthermore these machines use secret proprietary software, so there is no way to check for possible flaws.

In the lead-up to the 2008 election, many people were concerned about the Diebold touch-screen voting machines.  Votes were miscounted or deleted in a number of elections, and computer experts showed that the machines could be hacked without detection.  Since then Diebold has been absorbed into Dominion Voting Systems which, along with Election Systems and Software, provides virtually all the digital electronic machines used in American elections.

These problems haven’t gone away.

Following a June 2009 election, officials in Pennington County, South Dakota, discovered a software malfunction that added thousands of non-existent votes to the county totals.

In a municipal election in Palm Beach County, Florida, in March 2012, a problem with election management software allotted votes to the wrong candidate and the wrong contest. The official results were only changed after a court-sanctioned public hand count of the votes.

In the 2008 Republican presidential primary in Horry County, South Carolina, touch screen voting machines in 80 percent of the precincts temporarily failed, and when precincts ran out of paper ballots, voters could not cast ballots in their home precinct.

In a test-run for an online election in the September 2010 Washington, D.C., primary, a hacker team was able to change all of the votes to “elect” their own candidates. The online voting system was days away from being launched in a real election for use by overseas and military voters. After the incident, the Internet voting system was canceled.

via CountingVotes.org.

Here is a chart from an organization called the Verified Voting Foundation that shows the predominant types of voting systems in the various states.

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Here is a simplified version from Mother Jones.

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The Verified Voting Foundation in a joint report with Common Cause and the Rutgers School of Law made these recommendations to ensure an honest count:

  • Require paper ballots or records of every vote.
  • Have a contingency plan if the machines break down.
  • Protect military and overseas voters by counting their marked ballots, not by tallying them on-line.
  • Institute a post-election audit to ensure the electronic report is correct.
  • Use ballot reconciliation practices to flag votes being added or lost as they are tallied.

The original argument for touch screen machines was that some physically handicapped persons could not work the levers on mechanical voting machines.  Here in New York state, the old machines have been replaced by scan-able paper ballots, which anybody can use and which are available for recount if anybody thinks the scanning machines made an error.

Click on Counting Votes 2012: Verified Voting Foundation for more from the Verified Voting Foundation.

Click on Digital Voting Machines: Still FUBAR? for more from Mother Jones.

Click on Counting Votes 2012: CountingVotes.org for a joint report and recommendations by the Verified Voting Foundation, Common Cause and Rutgers School of Law.

Click on Touch screen voting is not as safe as an ATM for an explanation of the potential problems by Philip Michaels, a board member of Missourians for Honest Elections.

Click on Leftycartoons for more political cartoons by Barry Deutsch.

Minority turnout will decide 2012 election

August 21, 2012

The turnout of minority voters—Hispanics, African-Americans and others—will determine the outcome of the 2012 election.

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If they turn out in the same proportion as they did in 2008, and vote for President Obama in the same proportion as they did in 2008, Obama is almost sure to win.  Otherwise, not.

Democratic candidates for President have won a strong majority of the votes of members on minority groups for more than 20 years, and Republicans have won a majority of the votes of non-Hispanic white voters.  In 2008, the turnout of minority voters was greater than in 2004, and the turnout of white voters was less.  That was enough to change the result from Republican in 2004 to Democratic in 2008.

The Brookings study indicates that if non-Hispanic white voters turn out and vote for Mitt Romney in the same proportion as they did in 2004, and minorities turn out for Barack Obama as in 2008, Obama will win.

So it may not be enough for the Republican Party to get a good turnout of non-Hispanic white voters.  They would need to hold down the turnout of minority voters.  That’s the explanation for all the proposed voter ID laws and other schemes to make voting more difficult, such as the new limits on early voting in Ohio.

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“I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine,” said Doug Preisse, chairman of the [Franklin] county Republican Party and elections board member who voted against weekend hours, in an email to The Dispatch. “Let’s be fair and reasonable.”

via The Columbus Dispatch.

The largest minority voter group is Hispanics.  That’s why immigration from Mexico has become such a hot issue. Unless things change, more legal Hispanic immigration means more Democratic voters. and why President Obama at this time announced his path to citizenship for certain children of unauthorized immigrants.

My opinion is that either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama could appeal to voters across ethnic and racial lines if either had a realistic plan or firm intention for addressing unemployment, low wages and mortgage foreclosures.

Click on Why Minorities Will Decide the 2012 Election for the full Brookings Institution report.

Click on Why Does the Census Divide People by Race, Anyhow? for a Slate article on the history of racial classifications on the United States.

Click on The new battle over voting rights for links to more information about voter restrictions.

Click on We whites need not fear minority status for charts showing demographic trends.

As the maps below show, we non-Hispanic whites have already lost our majority status in some parts of the United States.

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What if Obama loses?

February 1, 2012

What happens if President Obama loses the election?   The Washington Monthly has a good special issue making the case that it could be worse than you would think.

Mitt Romney, the most probable Republican nominee, is, like Barack Obama, a defender of the status quo rather than a radical of the right.  But a Republican victory would mean not only Romney, Newt Gingrich or a dark horse Republican as President, but a new Republican majority in Congress.

Experience teaches that Republicans will use their majority more effectively than the Democrats do.  The Republican leadership will never tolerate the abuses of the filibuster and cloture that the Democrats have, and will be much less likely to either desire nor need compromise.

According to the Washington Monthly’s team of writers, we can say goodbye to the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law before they are even implemented.  We can forget about any meaningful action on global climate change, and a more brass-knuckle approach to foreign policy.  As a friend of mine summed up, the objective is to make United States like Rick Perry’s Texas writ large.

Click on the following links to read the series.

This Time It’s Different

What If Obama Loses?: imagining the consequences of a GOP victory

Campaign Promises: what they say is how they’ll govern

The Tea Party: picking the candidates and writing the agenda

Congress: the good news is … no more gridlock

The Courts: the conservative takeover will be complete

Foreign Affairs: the “more enemies, fewer friends” doctrine

The Environment: the end of the EPA as we know it

Financial Regulation: back to the good ol’ days of 2008

Obamacare: it’s toast

I agree a Republican victory is likely to take the country from bad to worse, but I see little to hope from a continued Democratic incumbency.  The Republicans would move the country in the direction it already is going, but at a faster and more reckless pace.

With a supposedly liberal Democrat in the White House and Democrats in control of the Senate, the United States is drifting toward war with Iran.  The United States is waging war in more countries than it was under President George W. Bush.  President Obama has claimed even more un-Constitutional powers than his predecessor did.

The two most significant reform laws enacted during his administration, the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, are complicated, hard to understand, hard to implement, easy to sabotage and require great integrity and capability in the way they are administered if they are to work.  The authors of these laws consciously rejected simpler and stronger measure, such as a public option on health insurance, or a limitation on the size and activities of banks with insured deposits.  Maybe the ACA and Dodd-Frank will help; the odds are against it.

There is little point in enacting new legislation if existing laws and regulations are not enforced.  President Obama has been actively hostile to prosecuting financial fraud; he evidently thinks that a threat to Wall Street is a threat to America’s financial stability.  I don’t mean to say that every single thing he has done has been wrong.  Some of his policies, such as repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or his modest public works program, are good; others might turn out to be good; others arguably are less bad than the Republican alternative would be.  But the case for re-electing President Obama is not hope for something better, but fear of something worse.

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Petraeus for President?

January 3, 2011

While President  Obama sinks in the polls, he still appears to be more popular than Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin or any other prospective Republican presidential candidates.  But there is one potential Republican candidate with greater prestige than any candidate now in the field – General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

General David Petraeus

General Petraeus has disclaimed any President ambition, as did General Dwight Eisenhower right up until the time he did run.  I have no reason to believe he is insincere, any more than Eisenhower was; I have no way of knowing that.  I do think it is possible he may change his mind.

His prestige rests on his achievement of enabling U.S. forces to exit Iraq without the U.S. government losing face.  Maybe he will duplicate this achievement in Afghanistan.  He is an astute and capable commander, but he is not a miracle worker.  If avoidance of defeat in Afghanistan is not humanly possible, a Petraeus candidacy in 2012 would be more viable than in 2016.

From the standpoint of the Republican leadership, he would be the candidate most certain to defeat Sarah Palin in the primaries and most likely to defeat Barack Obama in the general election.

What kind of a President would Petraeus make?  The best case would be that he would be another General Eisenhower, who was able to tame the military and the lunatic right-wing fringe in the Republican party.  The worst case would be that he would have the attitude of a General MacArthur concerning civilian control of the military.  I think he is too politically sophisticated to be another General Grant, to be manipulated by Washington insiders.

We live in interesting times.

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