Tag Archives: 2012 election

Republican Playoff Update


With Congress out on the playground this month, there is little in the world of national politics to talk about it would seem. Or is there?  Republican’s seem to still be running for President so let’s take at look at the continuing Republican Presidential Playoffs.

Former Gov. Tim “I’m The Sensible Minnesotan” Pawlenty seems be dropping out due to injury. Sources say the injury is a bruised ego. His 3rd place finish in Ames just wasn’t enough to keep him going. It seems Ames was the straw poll that broke Pawlenty’s back. Herman “Three Page” Cain is sticking in the race but he isn’t generating the buzz he once did. Maybe the memory of former RNC Chair Micheal Steele is to recent for conservatives to put another African-American man out there. Or it could be that they figured out that Cain is just crazy. Let’s face it, you couldn’t put the legislative language to buy the paper for the legislation on three pages.  Rick “Water Is What It Is” Santorum is still hanging on despite lackluster fundraising. Perhaps he hoping being a native Pennsylvanian will help gain him the VP nod. That or he doesn’t realize that no one is going to vote for him. The race “is what it is, it can’t be something else” Rick. You aren’t going to win. Newt “I’m Still Running” Gingrich seems to still think this is 1995 and he is a national figure. After his top campaign staff quit, you would have thought he would too. Instead, Gringrich has continued to run and one of his issues has been “made in America” products. That issue took a detour when he held up a “Newt 2012” shirt that was made in El Salvador at a press conference. Despite a strong 2nd in the Ames poll Rep. Ron “Ignored-By-The-Media” Paul, still can’t seem to get any real press. The only news stories about Paul seem to be about how the news is ignoring him. There has to be some kind of irony ban for something like that. Jon “The Other Mormon” Huntsman is also still chugging along, but in the midst of conservative Anti-Obama fervor, the fact that he was Obama’s ambassador to China seems to be dragging him down.

The media has officially declared the top-tier in the race now. Let’s take a look. Texas Gov. Rick “Jesus Make it Rain” Perry has jumped in the race and is already being called a “top tier candidate.” Perry has some unusual hiccups in his game, however. He allowed the execution of a death row inmate after being shown compelling evidence that the man was innocent, his less than impressive college transcripts made the Huffington Post, and he issued a proclomation asking Texans to pray for rain to help against wildfires as he cut funding for firefighters. He does have a strong ability to tell people how everything is President Obama’s fault so he may be able to overcome his rivals. How he will do in the finals is up in the air.

Mitt “It Wasn’t Just Like Obamacare” Romney is the real used to be a moderate, Mormon former Governor. While Obamacare could prove to be a liability Romeny has shown remarkable fundraising capability. We’ll see if the other two point out that Romney has left his old positions to become more “conservative.” 2012 could prove to be a drastic repeat for Romney.

To round out the “top tier” is this year’s most exciting, unconventional, and probably insane candidate, Rep. Michele “Where’s The Camera” Bachmann. Bachmann has created unbelievable fervor among conservatives. Fresh off a win at the Ames Straw Poll, Bachmann is possibly crowding Sarah Palin out of the picture just because she has actually completed a term in an elected office. While she has at least 3 unforced errors this year. She praised our Founding Father’s “opposition” to slavery, using a 9-year old John Quincy Adams as an example. She talked about sharing a hometown with John Wayne when it was actually serial killer John Wayne Gacy who lived in Waterloo, Iowa. Finally she recently wished Elvis a “Happy Birthday” on the anniversiary of his death. Obviously, her research staff needs a shake-up. Bachmann might do alright with the Republican base but there is no doubt she needs a new coach to get her through this.

It seems no Republican is without their flaws. Some individual strengths have emerged. Which of these will lead to the nomination? Then the question will be; do the playoffs leave the eventual nominee with the stamina for the finals?

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Why Do We Take These Polls?


President Obama’s going to lose. It’s all over. I read it right on ABC.com.  They reported that the President is losing to a generic Republican in a recent poll. Specifically, 44 percent said they would vote for the Republican, only 39 percent would vote for the President.

So what does this mean? Well, I suppose we should say, “nothing.” Let’s go over the reasons why this poll is basically useless. First, the election is 18 months away. If we went by a poll like this is 2007 , we’d be talking about President Giuliani today. Secondly, let’s think about the benefits of the generic Republican. He’s the perfect small-government, fiscal conservative. Yes, “he’s” a he, and he has no negative side effects. He didn’t pass a healthcare law similar to the President’s law, he doesn’t support the legalization of drugs,  his entire campaign staff hasn’t resigned, he doesn’t back off of his rhetoric when his opponents are in the room, he isn’t “the pizza guy,” and he isn’t Michele Bachmann. Remember, “he” is a he. Until either party nominates a woman, I won’t change my view on that.

The point is that a generic Republican isn’t representative of anyone who could possibly be the nominee. All the possible candidates have things that make them more or less appealing to conservatives and more or less appealing to moderates and independents. A “generic Republican” a year and a half from the election is useless.

I just don’t understand these polls. They don’t mean anything. A poll about who might be the Republican nominee is useful. We can have polls that track who is winning and losing that race. That’s news, but until we know who the nominee is it isn’t important how a “generic Republican” will do.  For now the President is likely to lag because he has a history and a personality. We know him.  We will see how this race really shapes up when the Republicans have a face, a history, and a personality to represent them. Until then, ABC should quit wasting our  time.

Will Palin “Roosevelt” The Republicans?


Sarah Palin has been making news lately. In fact, she’s been making a lot of news, and not in her normal fashion. For the past couple of years, we’ve all been dragged through the Palin’s lives. People watched the reality show. They voted for Bristol on “Dancing With The Stars.” Even I read the Men’s Journal interview with Todd. Sarah herself has offered all her views at any event for one hundred thousand dollars. She even appears on FOXNews so regularly that they built a studio in her house. Recently things have changed a bit. Now Palin is on the road.

The “One Nation” bus tour sent sparks flying through the political arena. What is she doing? Is this a prelude to a presidential bid? Why won’t she tell us? There are a few interesting things about this tour that may provide a glimpse at the future. First is her treatment of the media. People following Palin have complained about the lack of information they are getting. There are no public schedules, no real information at all in fact. Palin is not hiding her disdain for the mainstream media. She did do an interview with Greta Van Susteran. Otherwise, she’s basically told the media to screw off. Why are they surprised? With no information coming from the bus tour, there is still plenty of news coverage. It’s like the media is saying McDonald’s should be delivering cheesburgers to them even though they go through the drive-thru daily. All the while Sarah Palin is getting all the media coverage she could want and reinforcing her image as an outsider or does things her way.

She continued to enhance that image breaking unspoken party rules. She rolled into New Hampshire on the same day that Mitt Romney was going to officially announce his campaign. The Romney event was staged from start to finish, and all the good details were leaked to the press. It was a classic political event. Everything Palin is doing is the complete opposite of that. She’s reinforcing her “rogue” persona while stepping all over the toes of the Republican establishment. I think she preparing something big. Perhaps a once in a century event. Let’s start with a little history lesson, and no, it’s not about Paul Revere.

The election of 1912 is possibly the most successful campaign by a third party in American history. Incumbent Republican President William Howard Taft is campaigning for reelection, but there is another big Republican name in the race. Former President Theodore Roosevelt, unhappy with his hand-picked successor, is running for the Progressive Party after a failed campaign for the Republican nomination. In a unprecendented campaign, the incumbent President was basically a non-factor. Roosevelt received more popular and electoral votes. In the end, the split of the Republican vote propelled a former college professor and New Jersey Governor named Thomas Woodrow Wilson to the White House.

If all the votes cast for Taft and Roosevelt were combined the Republicans would have defeated Wilson. This is the effect Sarah Palin could have on this race. In 2000 it was suggested that Ralph Nader did the same thing. His impact was probably minimal in reality, but it was an extremely close election. Ross Perot had this kind of effect in 1992 when he gained 18.9% of the popular vote. Sarah Palin is poised to take up the mantle of the third-party candidate. She wouldn’t win the election, but she could effectively destroy any Republican chances of defeating President Obama.  People are fed up with the establishment. Congress’ approval rating has been staggeringly low for years. The Tea Party is continuing to make waves in national politics. All this is going on and Sarah Palin is being pushed from the media spotlight by an increasing focus on the presidential race. She started changing that with her bus tour. Palin gets all the media attention she wants. FOXNews will bend over backwards to put her on TV.

On FOX and in stump speeches is where Palin shines. People recently ran her through the ringer about her account of Paul Revere’s midnight ride. Live Q&A is not her strong suit. She’s not good on the fly. Her Paul Revere account could have been completely accurate and it would have sounded like gibberish. However, if you put her in her comfort zone she is the ultra-Republican. She can send out buzzwords and catchphrases with the best of them, and she seems like a normal person doing it. She appeals to a significant portion of the Republican party who hates liberals, and is tired of the old white male conservatives who have been running the party. She could steal enough of the vote to doom Romney, Pawlenty, or any of the others to a life of celebrity golf.

The real question is would she? Would Palin ensure a victory for Obama just to stay in the spotlight. I think history says she would. It also allows her the chance to show the establishment that she needs to be listened to. After the 2010 midterms, Palin took a credibility hit. She endorsed some candidates (like Christine O’Donnell) that cost Republicans some congressional seats. If she wants to get back to the table it might be worth it force an election loss for her personal gain. This election will mark the 100 year anniversary of the election when the Bull Moose Party cost Republicans the White House. So we have to ask, will the Mama Grizzly so the same. I think she will.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


For an explanation of the despair for my fair city look here.

I’m seriously thinking about attending.

Who Will The Republican Party Pick?


As the race for the Republican nomination heats up, I see the field narrowing very quickly. Let’s start with who’s in and who’s not. Haley Barbour said he isn’t running. Rep. Mike Pence, whose named was tossed about, would rather be governor of Indiana. Personally, I think Pence is making the strategic calculation that Obama’s going to win and the election in 2016 will be much easier with some executive experience under his belt. From what I’ve heard and read, I don’t think Sarah Palin will really get in race. I don’t think Mike Huckabee will either. Donald Trump is obviously making waves, but even if he gets in the race he won’t last long. He’s just playing on the right’s dislike of the President. He hasn’t put forth any real ideas. Former Ambassador Jon Huntsman seems to be in the field, but I don’t see him winning. The “he worked for Obama” argument will kill his campaign. Rick Santorum isn’t an unlikely choice, but his appeal to social conservatives isn’t going to separate him from the pack. I think Santorum could prove to be a valuable running mate for some of the other candidates. While any of these folks might get in the race I don’t think they really have a chance.

This brings me to the four that I think are most interesting Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Herman Cain. I don’t think Bachmann has a real shot at the nomination, but if she runs she could influence who does. She’s very popular with the Tea Party. Appealing to the Tea Party is going to be important to get both votes and money. I think you’re likely to see the support of American’s For Prosperity and similar groups going toward the most Tea Partyish candidates. This is why gaining her endorsement (and Sarah Palin’s) could be important. It might also make her a choice as a running mate, but she comes with baggage. Her Sarah Palinesque style and “slightly off-camera” speech delivery along with the fact that she was a Democrat who volunteered for Jimmy Carter, might make her not worth it.

Mitt Romney is often called the front-runner these days. Romney is charismatic and presidential looking. He’s a decent public speaker. He does have issues though. He is the former governor of not only a blue state, but perhaps the bluest of them all. Massachusetts has only fallen to Republicans four times since 1928. “Romneycare” will be a stumbling block. I believe 2012 will feel a lot like 2008 for Mitt Romney.

Tim Pawlenty is the quintessential Republican candidate. He’s a former Governor which is important. Only three sitting senators (Warren Harding, John Kennedy, and Barack Obama) have been elected president. James Garfield is the only member of the House to be elected president. The others were primarily governors. Americans seem to like the idea that governing a state is much like governing the country.  He’s a devout Christian, has a record of fiscal conservatism, and is one of the few Republicans that will appear on the Daily Show. The fact that he will go into an environment that obviously disagrees with him will help him gain some independents. If Republicans want to defeat President Obama, Pawlenty is their best chance. However, there is one candidate that brings something different to the table.

Herman Cain is an unusual candidate, and I think he may actually put up a fight. He has no political experience. That could work to his advantage as he faces an electorate largely disillusioned with politics. He is a successful businessman, and many people feel that an experienced CEO would make an experienced Executive. On top of that he’s an African-American who has a better chance of connecting to that community. The President enjoyed what would appear to many as an exotic childhood. He was raised in Hawaii and spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. Herman Cain, however, is a black, Christian man from Georgia. He attended Morehouse College, and was the first person in his family to earn a degree. Herman Cain has more in common with many black people than the President. He provides the Republican party with an opportunity to show that they are diverse and represent the interests of all Americans. That paired with the fact that drawing the votes of disillusioned, working class African-Americans who are begging for a reason to believe in the American Dream could spell doom for Democrats.

It is very early to be speculating about the next election. Polls from this far out are almost always wrong, but Republicans are at a crossroads. They can choose to remain the establishment that they have been, or follow a new more conservative path. The best part of this choice is that it will lie with the people who support the party. Establishment Republicans could not be happier if the status quo is maintained. Their constituents may have a different opinion. Interestingly, I hope the status quo is maintained. If I have to choose between the Republican I know, and one who may be far more conservative, my choice is clear.

The Trump Card


Boy, oh boy, the Obama-hating brigade is getting out in force. We have all heard about our Kenyan-born President. Donald Trump has made sure that we will continue hearing about it. That’s not good enough for Trump, however. As CBS reports in an Associated Press interview, Trump said he doesn’t understand how Obama got into Ivy League schools. The President graduated from Columbia and went onto graduate magna cum laude from Harvard Law. Trump says that he has heard that Obama was a “terrible student.” He gave no evidence of that claim. Some people will probably say we shouldn’t be giving Trump this kind of attention. People like me and other bloggers and journalists should ignore him. I used to think that. I’ve changed my mind, because Trump is on the verge of gaining some serious support. Franklin Graham has said he might support a Trump run.

Franklin Graham is serious support, because he is the heir to the Billy Graham evangelical dynasty. Among evangelical Christians, who are a significant base of the Republican party, the Grahams are only second to Jesus and God. Billy Graham is in essence the “President” of the evangelical movement. He has spent time with nearly every actual President since Truman. His radio and television sermons have had a total of more than two billion listeners over the years. If the Graham organization gets behind Trump a large number of conservatives will take him much more seriously.

To put this in perspective, Franklin Graham is the guy who said President Obama was born a Muslim simply because his father was a Muslim. He agrees with Trump that the President has questions to answer about his birth. Myths about the President are furthered because people like Graham have a huge audience that is willing to believe them without much question.

The truly frightening thing about all of this is that the moderate Republican candidates turn out to be Tim Pawlenty, and Mike Huckabee. Pawlenty and Huckabee are in no way moderates.  Pawlenty is a hard-core fiscal conservative, and Huckabee is an ordained minister. I view them both as fairly equal on the political spectrum to George W. Bush. The possible candidates for President seem to range from standard conservative to ultra-conservative.  We learned recently that Haley Barbour is out. The field is beginning to narrow. At some point, I believe we will learn that Huckabee is out also. Maybe this is a publicity stunt by Donald Trump, but if it’s not his chances seem to be getting better. I don’t even know what to think about that.

So There’s An Imaginary Forest. . .


Really, there’s an imaginary forest. This forest has trees and plants, but no animals, nothing that can hear, except you. Suddenly a wind picks up and a huge tree starts falling to the ground. Now think, if you weren’t there did it make a sound?

How long did it take before you said, “Of course.” Not very long, I’m guessing. It isn’t such a simple question though. Let’s talk a little about our sense of hearing. Hearing is an example of mechanosensation, meaning that our hearing organs, the ears, are interpreting the movement of molecules around us and sending that information to our brains. Sound is a wave, which means it is not a physical object. It is really just energy that causes molecules to vibrate. They bump up against other molecules and transfer that energy. That happens countless times until some of those molecules bump up against your eardrum. That information is then translated into nerve impulses that shoot up your auditory nerve to your brain. Then you hear something. This happens extremely quickly and is going on constantly. So a tree falls and vibrates the world around it eventually those vibrations make it to your ear and you think “I think a tree is falling.” Hopefully you look around to make sure it’s not falling on you. People usually argue that sound waves are still sent out even if no one is there and so the tree still makes sound.

The presence of sound waves isn’t the question, however. The real question is what is the very nature of sound. Is sound something that exists in the environment? Or is it merely our brains interpretation of something in the environment? Does the physical sensation of sound exist outside our heads or is it created by our brain? Imagine if humans lacked a sense of hearing. We could still discover sound waves in the environment. We could make machines that would detect them. We might still call them sound waves, but they wouldn’t mean the same thing to us. If we lacked a sense of hearing it would fundamentally change the way we think of sound, because our brains would not interpret that information the same. In essence, sound as we know it would not exist. So is the “tree in the woods” question really so simple? Should you have answered so quickly?

The “tree in the woods” question is perhaps not important in our lives. People certainly have more important things to worry about. The nature of sound and hearing doesn’t usually make the top 5. What’s the problem with that? The problem is that we answer so many important questions with the same quick, “of course.” Questions about government, politics, education, any number of important things get brushed aside and we just believe what we repeatedly hear. That’s why FOXNews can say the President is spending $200 million a day on an Asia trip and people believe. “Do politician’s waste our tax dollars? Of course.” We can be convinced that teachers have easy jobs and are overpaid. “Teachers only work 9 months a year, of course they’re overpaid.” We don’t demand thorough arguments and answers, so we don’t get them.

When I was a child I dreaded hearing one of my say four words. “Because I said so.” I hated it, because it was simply not an answer. I’ve always asked questions and I wanted a real answer but sometimes “because I said so” was just easier. For example, my mother would tell me to put on my coat. I would ask why, and she would say “because I said so.” She could have said, “It’s the middle of winter and if you don’t put on your coat you’ll have hypothermia before we reach the car.” That would have taken much longer I  would’ve needed an explanation of what hypothermia was. She went with brevity instead.

I only mention this because we are getting “because I said so” arguments and we’re responding with “of course.” The new Republican budget was unveiled recently. In a video Rep. Paul Ryan, showed that his budget would avoid a debt crisis. How? Well he had a graph and he said so. He doesn’t want people asking too many questions. We are being force-fed a mantra that tax cuts for the rich will create jobs. Republicans say it so often I’m beginning to think they have a “millionaire tax cut” button. Why do tax cuts for the rich create jobs. Because they said so. You could argue that the people who really create jobs are consumers, because they buy products and services thus creating demand for more products and services. This in turn employs more people to manufacture and sell those products and to provide those services. Virtually all of those consumers are not wealthy. So perhaps cutting taxes for them would make more sense than cutting taxes for the rich. You could make that argument. They would rather you didn’t. I’m amazed at the number of people who just assume the “tax cuts create jobs” argument is  true without taking the time to think about it. This brush-off by the public is how we ended up with “death panels.” Sarah Palin hopped on FOX and did some “golly gee Democrats want to kill old people,” number and we were off to the races.  Pres. Obama might not be a citizen. Why? Donald Trump says so. He said so multiple times so it must be ultra-true. These questions are far more complicated and take far more attention than we are willing to give. Yes, people are busy. They have families, and jobs and any number of things to do, but we are at the beginning of the next presidential campaign. If we want real leadership, we have to demand it.

I wrote 402 words about the tree in the woods question. Imagine how many more words could be written about taxes, healthcare, and education. All of these discussions are going on in the federal government, and state governments. In the movie “Uncle Buck” there’s a scene where Macualay Culkin is asking rapid-fire questions of his Uncle Buck. Buck (played by John Candy) tells him he asks a lot of questions. Culkin replies, “I’m a kid. That’s my job.” When did we quit that job? When did we become so disillusioned that we decided it wasn’t worth asking anymore? We need to take up that job again, but it won’t work if we just accept any answer. So we have to ask, How many “because I said so” arguments are we going to accept before we ask for real answers? How many times are we just going to say, of course?  I used to think that Americans were just apathetic when it came to holding government accountable. I was wrong. We just don’t want to take the time to really examine the questions. So, I’m extending an invitation. It’s to a rally. A rally where we start asking the tough questions and demanding real answers. Where is this rally? It’s on your computer, in you living room, in your statehouses, or an imaginary forest. It’s anyplace where we know that sound exists because we make sure that people can hear us.