Posts Tagged ‘Obama Vs. Romney’

The real problem is the bipartisan consensus

November 5, 2012

Two respected Washington analysts, Thomas E. Mann of the reputedly liberal Brookings Institution, and Norman J. Ornstein, of the avowedly conservative American Enterprise Institute, wrote a book earlier this year entitled It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, about government gridlock.

The problem, they said, is the Republican leadership, which during the Obama administration has used the threat of the filibuster, cloture and other parliamentary delaying tactics to obstruct the normal function of government.  Our system of checks and balances, they say, has become dysfunctional.

I have glanced through their book, although I have not read it in full, and I think what they wrote is factually true.  Delaying tactics that in the past were used in extreme situations are now used routinely by the Republicans in Congress to wage political warfare against the Obama administration.

I don’t think the Republican leadership is exclusively to blame for this.  I also blame President Obama and the Democratic leadership for not fighting back.  The worst abuse was in setting up a situation in which a 60-vote majority was necessary to get anything through the Senate.  But the Democrats could have changed the rules at the opening of the Senate session, as Republicans threatened to do when Democrats were in the minority.

The larger problem, in my opinion, is not Republican obstructionism, but the measures that do get bipartisan support—undeclared wars, presidential death warrants, the bank bailouts, the “war on terror” and the “war on drugs.”   Every issue mentioned in the Tom Tomorrow cartoon [1] represents bipartisan consensus.  If somebody had tried to filibuster the National Defense Authorization Act or the renewal of the USA Patriot Act, I would have applauded them.

What can an American citizen do to break out of this bipartisan consensus?  One way is to engage in protests and demonstrations, like my friend Hal.  Another is to join a political party and work within it for change, like my friend Michael.  These are both honorable choices.  My way is to vote for someone outside the political consensus, such as the Green or Libertarian candidate.  I plan to vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party, but if Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party were the only alternative Presidential candidate on the ballot, I would vote for him.

This is a time to be thankful that the United States is a federal system and that the Constitution establishes checks and balances based on a separation of powers.  Whatever hopes there are for progressive social change rest with state governments, not in Washington.  Since we have 50 different state governments, it’s possible that at least one of them will be a laboratory for successful social reform, such as Vermont experimenting with a public option for health care.

If you believe you have to vote for a major-party candidate for President, you can look for principled liberal Democrats, libertarian Republicans or third-party candidates to support for the Senate and the House of Representatives and for state and local offices.  Even a minority voice can remind the public that there are possibilities outside the bipartisan consensus.  The Founders established the principle of separation of powers in the Constitution precisely for the kind of situation that exists today.   An independent Senate and House of Representatives are not a problem.  They are part of the system of checks and balances we need now more than ever.

Click on Naked Truths for a review of It’s Even Worse Than It Looks by Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker.

Click on The US presidential debates’ illusion of political choice for a comment on the bipartisan consensus by Glenn Greenwald for The Guardian.

Click on A case for Gary Johnson and Why I’m Voting Green for alternatives to the bipartisan consensus.

Click on This Modern World for Tom Tomorrow’s web log.

[1]  Unlike Tom Tomorrow, I do not advocate new federal gun control legislation.

Why I’m not for Mitt Romney either

November 2, 2012

I’ve written posts about why I won’t vote to re-elect Barack Obama.  But that doesn’t mean I would consider voting for Mitt Romney who is at least as bad and may well be worse on all the issues on which I find President Obama unacceptable.

Conor Friedersdorf summed it up well.

Romney and Ryan are perfectly comfortable with all of the most sweeping attacks on Madisonian checks and balances that Presidents Bush and Obama have presided over.  The Republican nominee hasn’t just defended detaining people indefinitely without charges or trial.  He’s called for doubling the main facility where it is done! Romney avows that he is alarmed by an advisory board that would decide which treatments Medicare and Medicaid should cover; yet he is comfortable with the literal death panel Obama runs from the White House, where he and his minions add names (including American citizens denied due process) to a secret kill list.

Did Romney defend the Fifth Amendment? (“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury… nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”)  No.  Rather, he defends actions that plainly violate it.

During the war in Libya, waged in violation of Obama’s own articulated understanding of the War Powers Resolution, Romney didn’t point out that the Constitution gave Congress the power the declare war.  And no surprise. Romney subsequently said that if elected, he wouldn’t need to consult Congress before launching a war against Iran.  Is that the position of someone who grasps the wisdom of the Constitution and champions an original understanding of it?  In fact, it shows disregard for the plain text of the document, and ignorance of the reasoning for vesting war-making power in the legislature rather than a single man empowered like a bygone British king.

Other things Romney favors: a secretive federal agency that conducts warrantless spying on millions of innocent Americans; strapping terrorism suspects to boards and forcing water into their lungs right to the edge of drowning them; and constant invocations of the state secrets privilege to shield federal officials from being held accountable for past illegal acts they perpetrated.  In short, Romney is a friend to neither liberty nor the rule of law nor a federal government limited by the Constitution.  He should feel the ire of all limited government conservatives.

… … His position on Afghanistan is incoherent — he vows he’ll be out of the country by 2014, and simultaneously says it’s reckless to announce a date by which we’ll leave.  Even in hindsight, he doesn’t understand that George W. Bush’s War in Iraq was a mistake, and has argued that the U.S. should’ve kept troops there longer.  … …

… … The centerpiece of Romney’s campaign?  A domestic agenda that he obviously cannot enact. As Romney tells it, he’ll cut tax rates 20 percent, repeal the estate tax, refrain from raising taxes on the middle class, refrain from cuts to Medicare, spend more on the military, possibly wage a war against Iran, and reduce the deficit.  Doing all he’s promised is mathematically impossible.

via Conor Friedersdorf.

In much of what Friedersdorf wrote, the differences between Romney and Obama are mainly differences of degree, not of principle.  But there is another important respect in which Governor Romney is more dangerous to American freedom and democracy than President Obama is.

That is the attack of his supporters on the right to vote.  Republican state governments are throwing up obstacles to voting, ostensibly at the non-existent problem of voting by ineligible voters but actually intended to discourage voting by African-Americans, poor people, old people and college students.  In a close election, this may be the margin of victory.

This is a reversal of the whole direction of American history, starting with the Mayflower Compact in which people who were not of noble birth asserted their right to form their own government according to their own decision, and continuing with the Declaration of Independence’s assertion of the right of self-government, and with the extension of the franchise to the property-less, to women and to African-Americans.  In the civil rights era, people sacrificed their lives for the right to vote.   Now leaders of the Republican Party are willing to turn back the clock to the days of the poll tax.

Click on Why I Refuse to Vote for Mitt Romney for Conor Friedersdorf’s complete article.

Click on Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama for Friedersdorf’s earlier article.

Click on Voting Wrongs by Elizabeth Drew and my earlier post on The new battle over voting rights for comments on voter suppression by Republicans.

Click on Romney’s Claims of Bipartisanship as Governor Face Challenge for a New York Times report on Romney’s tenure as Massachusetts governor.  It was a mixed record, and not all bad.  If Romney’s record as governor was all I had to go on, I might be tempted to vote for him.

Click on Greed and Debt: the True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital by Matt Taibbi for a damning report on Mitt Romney’s business career.

Click on At the Olympics, Mitt Tried to Convict an Innocent Man for a report by Lou Dubose of the Washington Spectator.  [Added 11/3/12]

On the other hand, there is one respect in which Barack Obama is worse than Mitt Romney.  Obama has been able to reconcile liberals to the policies of George W. Bush, which Bush himself was never able to do and Romney would not be able to do.  In editorial after editorial endorsing Obama, the issue is framed as a greater or lesser degree of continuous war, a greater or lesser police state, a greater or lesser catering to the Wall Street oligarchy, rather than of how to achieve peace, liberty and justice.

I hope that principled Republicans will vote for the Libertarian Party ticket, just as I hope principled Democrats will vote for the Green Party ticket.

How can anti-LBJ protesters be for Obama?

October 29, 2012

Back in the 1960s, I was, to my shame, a supporter of U.S. intervention in Vietnam.  I saw U.S. intervention as an unfortunate but necessary move in the global duel between the United States and the Soviet Union.  I continued to defend U.S. policy right up until the time President Lyndon Johnson was defeated in the New Hampshire presidential primary, and announced that he would not run for re-election.  I saw that U.S. policy was unsustainable, although I continued for many years to think of the Vietnam intervention as no more than a bad mistake.

I don’t regret being anti-Communist.  I still am.  The Soviet Union really was an evil empire.  Soviet Communism was an anti-human, totalitarian ideology.  Where I went wrong was in thinking that opposition to Communism outweighed all other considerations, both practical and moral.

I respect the New Left protesters of the time.  They had better moral priorities than I did.  Lyndon Johnson was the greatest civil rights President of the 20th century, and the only President since Franklin Roosevelt who seriously attempted to help poor people in the United States.  But people such as Martin Luther King Jr. this was outweighed by the death and suffering caused by the quagmire war in Vietnam.

I am taken aback when I meet former New Leftists who say they support President Obama for re-election—Obama, who has done virtually nothing for civil rights, virtually nothing for poor people and taken the abuses of power of the imperial Presidency to lengths that even Richard Nixon, let alone Lyndon Johnson, never dreamed of.

They accept endless war, a Wall Street oligarchy and the destruction of civil liberties as facts whose reality it is necessary to accept, but argue that within this framework, Obama is better than Romney or any of the other Republicans—more willing to extend unemployment compensation benefits, for example, or to appoint judges who favor abortion rights.  This is a moral arithmetic that I don’t understand.

A post-election crisis of legitimacy?

October 29, 2012

Some friends of mine made an argument I hadn’t considered as to why liberals should vote to re-elect President Obama, even if they live in states certain to go for either Obama or Governor Romney.  They fear a crisis of legitimacy, due to Barack Obama winning the electoral vote and Mitt Romney possibly winning the popular vote.   That is a real danger.

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight poll analysis

Prior to the 2000 election, it looked as if Al Gore might win the electoral vote and George W. Bush the popular vote (you’ll recall the actual result was the reverse).  The Republican Party was geared up to challenge the legitimacy of a Gore victory.  I think the same thing can be expected in the event Obama loses the popular vote, or even wins by an extremely narrow margin.  There will be lawsuits, bogus charges of voting fraud and endless protests.

This danger, arguably, could be lessened by Green Party supporters holding our noses and voting for Obama.

This is a strong argument, but for me a crisis of legitimacy would be a lesser evil than acquiescing in the legitimacy of (1) creation of a secret paramilitary force (described in a recent Washington Post article) with a mission to executive an ever-expanding list of death warrants based on secret criteria, (2) an open-ended policy of expanding undeclared war based on flying killer robots, (3) impunity for torturers, continuation of secret CIA interrogation centers and condition of a policy of rendition, (4) protection of Wall Street bankers from financial failure and prosecution for financial fraud, and (5) the undermining of Social Security, Medicare and other basic safety net programs.

These are all things on which Obama and Romney agree.  The worst thing that President Obama has done is to convince so many American liberals to accept these conditions as normal and as a framework for debating the issues.

In 2008, I voted for a candidate who ran on a slogan of hope and change.  Now, in 2012, I am being asked to re-elect that candidate on the grounds that there is no hope and that change is impossible.

I’m not sure that a Romney administration would be greatly different from a second Obama administration.  Under a Romney administration, liberal Democrats might remember that they are liberals, and would be able to oppose abuses of power without being constrained by party loyalty.

Many Democrats are bitter about Green Party supporters in Florida in 2000, saying that if they had voted for Al Gore instead of Ralph Nader, Gore would have won.  But that was only one factor in Gore’s defeat, and not the major one.  The most important reasons for Gore’s defeat were the blatant bias against him of the Washington press corps, the disenfranchisement of black voters in Florida for bogus reasons, the “white collar riot” of Republican activists to block a  recount, and a partisan Supreme Court decision. Al Gore himself, acting (as he thought) for the greater good of the country, accepted defeat and told the country to move.   I don’t think that Mitt Romney and his supporters will accept defeat so gracefully.

But if President Obama loses the popular vote, or the popular vote is close, it will be his own fault, not my fault.  He would be more popular if he had not gone against public opinion in pro-actively protecting the Wall Street banks against financial failure and criminal prosecution, and in expanding rather than winding down U.S. wars.

Click on President Obama Could Lose The Popular Vote, Win in the Electoral College for an explanation of what could happen.

Click on FiveThirtyEight Blog for Nate Silver’s continuing expert analysis of poll results.

Is Obama really a defender of Social Security?

October 24, 2012

A blogger in New York state’s North Country says she’s going to vote for Barack Obama in order to ensure than Social Security and Medicare are here for her children and grandchildren.

Once upon a time I cast a vote that I later deeply regretted. I was a member of a labor union, and I voted for a contract that preserved my benefits, but reduced them for people who would be hired in the future.  Upon reflection, that vote left a bitter taste in my mouth.  I vowed to never again cast a vote that would preserve privileges for myself, and deny them to others.

This election is another occasion when I’m being offered that choice.

Over and over, Romney, Ryan and their surrogates say that if you are 55 years or older, your Social Security and Medicare benefits will not change under the Ryan budget, which Romney has pledged to sign into law.  That’s not good enough for me.

Click to enlarge.

Obama’s public stance on Social Security is that he “believes that no current beneficiaries should see their basic benefits reduced and he will not accept an approach that slashes benefits for future generations.”   I’ve read many articles over the years that point out that the fix for Social Security is a small one: lift the income ceiling for the payroll tax that funds the program so that wealthier people pay more into the system.  If that seems unfair to those wealthier people, I answer that it means that their rate of return drops, but that they benefit – we all benefit – when our elderly are not poor.  An economic analysis done by Gary Engelhardt and Jonathan Gruber in 2004 states that the poverty rate among the elderly declined from 35 percent in 1960 to 10 percent in 1995, and concludes that this reduction in poverty can be explained by increases in Social Security support.

I don’t think of Social Security as a retirement investment.  I think of it as an insurance program that we all pay in to so that our parents will have greater financial stability in old age, and so that we ourselves will have greater financial stability when we get old.  I want my kids and grandkids (and YOUR kids and grandkids) to also be part of the program.

The fix for Medicare is tougher, with the poorly funded addition of prescription drug coverage in 2006 not helping the financial situation.  Healthcare costs are tough to handle at all levels right now, whether you are poor on Medicaid, receiving Medicare, have private insurance (as I do), or are uninsured.  Obamacare actually helps Medicare, extending the period of time until costs exceed revenues.  I know that a fix is needed, but I won’t sign on to one with my vote that will greatly increase health insurance costs for my kids and grandkids while preserving my benefits.

What it comes down to for me: If we decide as a nation that we can no longer afford to take care of our elderly as we are doing now, then a scaling back of benefits should happen now, for everyone.  Our young people by and large are not any more able to put money aside for their retirement and future healthcare costs than my generation was, so why should we be sheltered while they take the brunt of both paying for my benefits and then not getting similar benefits when they retire?

I’m voting for the team that seems to want to at least try to solve the problems so that we don’t rob a basic level of security from our kids and grandkids.  The future generations who will be affected by a downgrade of Social Security and Medicare are not way off in the foggy future. They will be sitting around the table at this year’s holiday dinners with us.

via scifiknitter.

I think scifiknitter is dead right about the importance of defending Social Security and Medicare from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.  But I don’t share her confidence that Barack Obama can be counted on to defend these vital programs for the next generation.

The President time and time again has expressed a willingness to cut Social Security, Medicare and other social programs in return for a return to Clinton-era tax rates on Americans in the upper income brackets.  He packed the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission with advocates of cutting back on Social Security.  This is not something he was forced to do.  He could have achieved his tax goals simply by allowing the Bush era tax cuts to expire.

President Obama had not made Social Security and Medicare a central issue in the campaign.   In the debates, he told Governor Romney that he thought the two of them largely agreed about Social Security, and that he was open to the same kind of fixes that were made under President Reagan.  Those fixes entailed increasing payroll taxes and raising the Social Security retirement age.

The President says he will not accept reductions in “basic” benefits for current recipients or “slashes” in benefits for future generations.  He doesn’t define “basic” or “slashes,” so if you read his statement as a lawyer would, you see he gives himself a great deal of leeway.

I think that President Obama’s goal is a grand bargain with the Republican leadership to balance the federal budget by means of moderate tax increases with cutbacks in government spending, including entitlement programs.  He has expressed a willingness to make more cutbacks in social programs than rich people would pay in increased taxes.  I don’t know what is in his mind, but my guess is that he accepts the elite consensus of opinion and sincerely believes that cutbacks in social programs are necessary.

Click on Seniors and Social Security for the full White House statement on Social Security.

Click on Social Security and the Evolution of Elderly Poverty study for the full Engelhardt and Gruber study.

Click on Romney’s statements on Social Security for quotes illustrating Mitt Romney’s positions.  He really is as extreme an enemy of Social Security as scifiknitter says he is.

Click on Why even President Obama won’t champion Social Security for economics journalist Dean Baker’s analysis of the reasons why Obama and other American politicians won’t stand up for the United States’ most popular social program.

Click on Obama’s Betrayals: First the Base, Then the Party for comment on the significance of the President’s failure to campaign for progressive Democrats.

Obama’s and Romney’s secret debate rules

October 16, 2012

The Obama and Romney campaigns, in addition to the public rules laid down by the Commission on Presidential Debates, have agreed to other secret rules to keep things from getting out of hand.

Mark Halperin of Time magazine made the rules public.  The agreement begins with this rule, which among other things effectively freezes out Jill Stein, Gary Johnson or any other third-party candidate from appearing on radio or TV with Obama or Romney.

“The parties agree they will not (1) issue any challenges for further debates, (2) appear at any other debate or adversarial forums except as agreed to by the parties and (3) accept any television or radio time offer that involve a debate format or otherwise involve the simultaneous appearance of more than one candidate.”

Here are some more rules.

“To the best of the Commission’s abilities, there will be no TV cut-aways to any candidate who is not responding to a question while another candidate is answering a question or to a candidate who is not giving a closing statement while another candidate is doing so.”  …

In the town hall debate tonight, Candy Crowley “shall select the questioners, but she may not ‘coach’ the questioners.”  Questioners must submit questions in advance, and ask the questions exactly as submitted.  If a questioner tries to ask a follow-up, they will cut off his or her microphone.

“No props, notes, diagrams or other writing or other tangible things may be brought into the debate by any candidate, and, prior to the beginning of the debate, the Commission shall verify as appropriate that the candidates have complied… ”

“The candidates may not ask each other direct questions… ”

“The Commission shall use best efforts to maintain an appropriate temperature as agreed to by the campaigns.”

Click on The 2012 Debates: Memorandum of Understanding Between the Obama and Romney Campaigns for the complete memorandum revealed by Mark Halperin of Time magazine.

Click on The lame rules for presidential debates for Glenn Greenwald’s reaction.  [Added 10/17/12]

Click on The Secret Debate Rules Obama and Romney Agreed To for Elspeth Reeve’s summary on The Atlantic Wire.

How large a military does the U.S. need?

October 16, 2012

Click to enlarge

A military budget analyst named Travis Sharp did an analysis of Governor Romney’s plan to increase U.S. military spending to 4 percent of Gross Domestic Product, and concluded that, sure enough, the Romney budget was $2 trillion more than the Obama budget over 10 years.

The two lines provide two alternative ways to get to 4 percent of GDP.  The “Romney Ramp Up” line would increase spending by 0.1 of a percent until it reached 4 percent, and then level off.   The “Romney Immediate” line would go immediately to 4 percent and stay there.

Is this too much?  It depends on the mission of the U.S. armed forces.  If the mission is to give the United States full spectrum dominance on every continent, as well as outer space, then 4 percent may not be enough.  But if the mission is to protect United States territory and American citizens, then it probably is too much.

While an Obama administration would spend less on the military than a Romney administration, the mission of the U.S. military would be just as expansive and open-ended.  The difference is that the Obama administration would place greater reliance on the CIA, special forces and flying killer robots and less on regular troops, and would be less likely to attack Iran with troops, but instead content itself with waging war by means of economic blockade, cyber-warfare and state-sponsored terrorism.

During the past 50 years, the U.S. armed forces defeated every enemy they’ve encountered in the field.  But victory in the field proved fruitless, because the U.S. forces have been been unable to compel the civilian population to obey them.  The Taliban in Afghanistan, like the Vietnamese Communists, are ruthless killers and authoritarian rulers, but they are effective ruthless killers.  They are embedded in the population, they know people individually, they can tell friend from foe, which a foreign invader can never do.  Troop buildups and spending on military equipment will not change this.

Here are two more charts, which put U.S. military spending in historic perspective.

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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

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

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?

###

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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Is Obama really the lesser of two evils?

July 26, 2012

Many liberals who are dissatisfied with Barack Obama intend to vote for him anyway because they think Mitt Romney is worse.  But is President Obama really the lesser of the two evils?

Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are committed to tearing up the Bill of Rights in the name of the so-called war on terror.  Both are aligned with Wall Street financiers, and to continued war overseas.  On the other hand, Obama is less extreme than Romney, probably will make better (or less bad) Supreme Court appointments and make be better on social-cultural questions that don’t threaten the wealthy and the powerful.  But none of these things make him the lesser evil.

What the Obama administration has done, which the Bush administration did not do and the Romney administration probably would not be able to do, is to destroy the liberal opposition.  Democrats in Congress defended Social Security against President Bush; they have not defended it against President Obama.  They questioned President Bush’s claim of authority to imprison and torture people on his personal say-so; they have not questioned President Obama’s claim to kill people on his personal say-so.  If President Romney started a war with Iran, I’d expect a certain number of Democrats to oppose him; if President Obama did the same thing, not so much.

Republicans in Congress have been justly criticized for partisan obstructionism, but on issues of civil liberties, waging war and protecting financiers, there is a remarkable bipartisan consensus.  I would have thought Republicans would oppose President Obama’s assertion of unilateral power to commit acts of war, target people for killing and cloak his actions in secrecy, but on these issues they are at one with the Democrats.

I expect to vote either for Jill Stein, the candidate of the Green Party, or for ex-Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, the candidate of the Libertarian Party.  It doesn’t really matter, since it is a foregone conclusion that President Obama will carry New York, but I would not vote for Obama or Romney even if New York were a battleground state.

Click on Obama May Not Even Be the Lesser Evil for a good article by Andrew Levine in Counterpunch which makes this point.

I have no dog in this fight

July 12, 2012

Click on Carlsontoons for more cartoons by Stuart Carlson.