Archive for Presidential Race

Photo by Molly Theobald for the aflcio2008 (PA: Working America Voter ID and Persuasion)
[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

People began asking early in 2015 if the local Democratic party was working on 2016. I told them we started working on 2016 the day after the election in 2014.

Each week I pick up messages at our local Democratic headquarters. For months, people have called to ask how they can get in touch with the Bernie Sanders campaign. (Even a disenchanted Republican now and then.) For months, I’ve directed them to the grassroots group organizing for Sanders here. Several hundred volunteers. On the ground it looks like 2008 all over again. They are phone banking out of our offices twice a week. Bernie Sanders is not a registered Democrat, but the memo from DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz says he’s running on our ticket.

I also get (fewer) calls from people asking how they can get in touch with the local Hillary Clinton campaign. I tell them I wish I knew. They are nowhere to be seen. Unless you’ve got the money to attend a high-dollar fundraiser downstate. Clinton volunteers could use our space too. But so far there aren’t any.

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The Iowa caucuses are over. The pollsters are licking their wounds. Donald Trump met his Waterloo, writes Joan Walsh, bested by Ted Cruz. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are in a tie so close that several precincts resorted to a coin toss, “one of many oddities of the Iowa caucuses.”

What that means is upcoming primaries and the even general election could feel the impact of new voter ID laws in place for their first presidential election. A recent study begins to support that despite assurances to the contrary that they do indeed have a discriminatory effect. More on that in a minute.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio thinks voter purges, long lines at the polls, and voter ID laws are no big deal. Ari Berman writes that the GOP is now the party of Ted Cruz, who championed Texas’ strict voter ID law and, as Texas’ solicitor general, filed a brief in support of Indiana’s ID law that argued “there is no right to be free from any inconvenience or burden in voting.” The GOP has erected hurdles to voting in state after state as though democracy is a track and field event.

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Feb
01

Iowa caucus explainer

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Muscatine in 1865, by Barber and Howe (The Loyal West in the Times of the Rebellion)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, I don’t know from Iowa. Although, in college I had a housemate from Muscatine. At least, that’s what she said. And once, back when the speed limit was 55 mph, I drove across Iowa. Alone. At night. The road signs said Iowa. But it was dark. I sort of had to take Iowa on faith.

Kind of like understanding how tonight’s Iowa caucuses work. NPR has an explainer for how this all works:

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Jan
31

Trump v. Trump

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Like Jerry Springer without the hair pulling.

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Border crossing between Russia and Norway near Kirkenes
By Elmar78 (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bernie Sanders is fond of citing examples from Europe of the benefits of democratic socialism. Denmark and Sweden, for example. Yet Sanders’ conservative critics sneer at America taking policy cues from Europe. Except when they do. Like now.

Denmark approved a controversial plan to pay for the upkeep of asylum seekers by confiscating valuables in excess of about $1,500:

The bill has been widely criticised by human rights groups.

The prospect of refugees having possessions seized has drawn comparisons to the confiscation of valuables from Jews during World War Two.

The government has said that items of sentimental value, such as wedding rings, will be exempt. It also raised the amount refugees will be allowed to keep from 3,000 kroner to 10,000 following objections.

Sweden and Finland announced plans last week to join Norway in deporting tens of thousands of people seeking asylum from war in the Middle East. They are poised to begin the kind of wholesale deportation of immigrants that Donald Trump has proposed for the United States.

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Jan
28

Voter id, not voter ID

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Flickr photo by whizchickenonabun via Creative Commons

Flickr photo by whizchickenonabun via Creative Commons

All this time and money Republicans spent trying to game elections in this country seems wasted. They erected hurdles to voting in state after state, from evil-genius gerrymandering to voter IDs to slashing early voting and same-day registration to shorting voting machines in minority precincts. They could have just asked Trump. Voter id, not voter ID may determine this election.

New York magazine surveyed 100 Republican primary voters. They were all over the ideological map. The one phrase that seemed to encapsulate the voters’ mood in choosing a candidate is “testicular fortitude”:

The phrase seemed telling. If there was anything almost all of the respondents sought in a candidate, it was that testicular fortitude — or, in less colorful terms, strength. It’s why Trump has steamrolled his rivals despite his ideological inconsistencies as a Republican. And it’s why Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have failed to connect: Being labeled a nerd in this GOP primary is the kiss of death; being cast as a sissy is even worse. Machismo even seems to be Carly Fiorina’s best selling point.

This attraction to strength seems to be connected to an inchoate sense that the world is falling apart. The voters we spoke to were concerned about a lot of potential threats — terrorist, economic, and cultural — and hoped that a strong president would protect them from dangers within as well as from abroad. Voters said they no longer felt free to be themselves in their own country — policed in their speech, unable to pray publicly or even say “God bless you” when someone sneezes. “Everything’s so p.c.,” said Priscilla Mills, a 33-year-old hospital coordinator from Manchester. “And then the second you do say something, you’re a racist.” Trump, who had 21 percent of the vote in our small sample, has capitalized the most on the political-correctness grievance, which is likely to surface in the general election no matter who becomes the nominee.

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Jan
26

Of sowing and of reaping

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It was a bit of delicious irony yesterday to see a Texas grand jury investigating Planned Parenthood over those hoaxed “fetal tissue” videos turn around and instead indict the anti-abortion activists who made them:

David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were indicted by the grand jury for tampering with a governmental record, said prosecutors for the county in which Houston is located. The felony charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

As Digby observed, there’s no telling what “tampering with a governmental record” means in this case.

There was more irony last night when CNN host Chris Cuomo asked Glenn Beck whether he bore any responsibility for the emergence of Donald Trump as the GOP’s presidential front-runner. Beck described Trump as a “dangerous man”:

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Jan
24

Guess Cruz Is An Acquired Taste

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Guess Cruz is an acquired taste:

One of the Mounties — who refused to give his name or say if he’s even an Iowan, though he insisted he doesn’t represent any campaign or party, Democrat or Republican — also held a sign that read “Ted Cruz Likes Nickelback.”

It’s a sly attack, bordering on obscure. The stars of the oft-maligned Canadian grunge band grew up in Alberta, the same province where Cruz was born.

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Jan
24

Falling in love again

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By Alan Light (Own work by the original uploader) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) orCC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

It is a cliché by now, the observation Bill Clinton once attributed to a friend, “In every presidential election, Democrats want to fall in love. Republicans just fall in line.” But being a cliché does not mean it isn’t true. Mostly. To their great chagrin, the GOP’s base seems to cheating on them by falling in love with Donald Trump.

A flurry of articles in the last 10 days have pointed out both Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ weaknesses as candidates. They also have their strengths. Those are worth debating on their merits (without rancor, please). But as the cliché suggests, what many don’t acknowledge they really want in an elected leader is a soul mate. As Seinfeld would say, not that there’s anything wrong with that. If that’s what you really want. (Cue Mick Jagger.)

I saw this phenomenon up close at ScruHoo when Heath Shuler ran for re-election in 2010. Progressive readers in the Cesspool of Sin by then had had enough of our Blue Dog and cited a catalog of sins for which they would never forgive him (and certainly would never again vote for him). I got curious. A few weeks later I posted:

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Jan
23

Antics roadshow

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Roadshow_TurtleBaby_t614The National Review’s “dump Trump” edition this week attracted plenty of commentary, including from Digby and Amanda Marcotte. The Republican National Committee, having raised a white flag to Donald Trump, disinvited the National Review from partnering on a February 25 candidate debate in Houston. There is feverish pearl clutching on the pundit circuit, especially in the pages of the Washington Post (being closer to political ground zero than the Times, one supposes).

“A xenophobic and bigoted showman is now the face of the Republican Party and of American conservatism,” writes Dana Milbank. He observes that the Wall Street Journal wrote last July, “If Donald Trump becomes the voice of conservatives, conservatism will implode along with him.” Now the Journal has changed its tune:

A week ago, the Journal reversed course. “Mr. Trump is a better politician than we ever imagined, and he is becoming a better candidate,” the editorialists wrote, speculating that “he might possibly be able to appeal to a larger set of voters than he has so far.”

The establishment Journal has decided to roll with it.

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