The Secret To Success In The Senate

warren paul

Congress has a record low approval rating, which perhaps is why the most successful Senators appear to be those who haven’t spent much time there. Barack Obama sure didn’t waste much time in the Senate before successfully running for president. Hillary Clinton is a special case as her time in the Senate is only a small part of her resume, but she didn’t spend very much time there either. The most popular Senator from each party today very well might be a freshman. Both have ignored the old tradition for new Senators to be fairly quiet.

On the Democratic side, Elizabeth Warren has received the most enthusiastic support. There is even a Ready For Warren web site, despite her statements that she has no plans to run for president. She has spoken out the most on economic issues, but is now wading into social issues as well with her comments on the Hobby Lobby case:

I’ll be honest – I cannot believe that we are even having a debate about whether employers can deny women access to birth control. Guys, this is 2014, not 1914 . Most Americans thought this was settled long, long ago. But for some reason, Republicans keep dragging us back here – over and over and over again.

On the Republican side, Rand Paul has generated the most excitement. As his foreign policy views are out of step with those of his party, there are real questions as to whether he has a chance to win a Republican presidential nomination. Gallup found that he falls just slightly behind Mike Huckabee among potential Republican candidates at this time. Aaron Blake looked at other polls to show that Paul is in a strong position to possibly win in both Iowa and New Hampshire, which certainly would give him strong momentum towards winning the nomination. Should Paul manage to win the nomination, a Quinnipiac poll shows that Paul is the strongest Republican candidate against Clinton in Iowa. Of course that might not hold nation wide.

A Huckabee versus Paul race for the Republican nomination would certainly offer a choice of different views. A presidential race between Paul and Warren would do the same, and most likley excite many on both the left and right far more than, say, another campaign between a Bush and a Clinton. Of course a race between Clinton, as opposed to Warren, and Paul is far more likley considering the state of the Democratic race. As I discussed previously, this would lead to a reversal in partisan foreign policy perspective, with the Democrats having the hawk as a candidate. As Peter Beinart pointed out, she sounded more like George Bush than a Democrat on foreign policy on her recent appearance on The Daily Show.

Updates: Digby also questions Clinton’s statement. Politico reports that Warren rallies the base. John Dickerson thinks a Warren run would be a good thing–but primarily to provide a worthy conversation and to “force Clinton to draw clear lines about what she believes, why she’s running, and why her message is something more than ‘It’s my turn.’” I would be more interested in a challenge to Clinton from the left which could actually beat her for the nomination, but that doesn’t look likely.

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Early Odds Look Good For Hillary Clinton To Be Elected President And Democrats To Control Senate in 2016

If you believe the current polls, Hillary Clinton’s victory for the Democratic nomination is even more inevitable than it was in 2008 as she has the largest lead in a Democratic nomination race ever. She leads Joe Biden by a margin of 73 percent to 12 percent. Elizabeth Warren pulls in 8 percent. While 2008 showed that inevitability isn’t enough to win the nomination, it is hard to see her getting defeated. There is unlikely to be another Barack Obama to challenge her, and she is certainly not going to repeat some of the mistakes she made such as paying too little attention to the caucus states. For comparison, in December 2006 Clinton led Obama 39 percent to 17 percent.

While it was always questionable if Chris Christie could win the Republican nomination after being photographed with Barack Obama, Christie is now falling in the polls, such as here. Huckabee, who is not hurt by his recent “libido” gaff among Republicans,  moved up. In terms of election strategy he is the anti-Christie. While Christie might have made the Republicans competitive in some northern states, Huckabee would leave the Republicans as a regional party with regards to national elections. Meanwhile, Jeb Bush hasn’t decided yet whether he will run.

Are we looking at another Clinton vs. Bush presidential campaign?

But that is all a long time away. Things can still change. This year we have Congressional elections and Republicans generally have an edge in off year elections due to lower turn out among minorities and younger voters. The party out of office also has an edge when running against a president with low approval ratings. Democrats appear scared when they are now talking about shifting money from the House races, where they have little chance of taking control, to the Senate where either party can win control.

Winning control of the House is unlikely due to the need for Democrats to win by over seven percent  due to gerrymandering and the higher concentration of Democrats in fewer urban districts. Democrats do have a couple of things going in their favor for a possible upset–increased public recognition that the Republicans are more extreme, and responsible for the gridlock, and more people believing that even their own Congressman does not deserve to be reelected.

Odds remain against the Democrats in the House and they have to defend Senate seats in red states this year. If they can hang on until 2016, the Democrats are in a much better position between their advantages in the electoral college, more favorable electorate in 2016, and as the Republicans will be forced to defend several Senate seats in blue states.

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Mike Huckabee Thinks Democrats Are Providing Coverage Of Birth Control Pills Because Women Cannot Control Their Libido

After being embarrassed by comments such as Todd Akin on “legitimate rape” and Richard Mourdock, saying that pregnancies resulting from rape are a “gift from god,” the Republican Party has been trying to teach their candidates how to speak without offending women. (Maybe they should teach their candidates about science, history, and economics t00). It appears that Mike Huckabee (who could also use some education on science) did not show up to the class on how to avoid offending women. This is how he wants the Republicans to speak to women:

“I think it’s time Republicans no longer accept listening to the Democrats talk about a ‘war on women,’” Huckabee said during a speech at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Washington. “The fact is the Republicans don’t have a war on women, they have a war for women, to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender.”

Huckabee said Democrats rely on women believing they are weaker than men and in need of government handouts, including the contraception mandate in Obamacare.

“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it,” Huckabee said. “Let’s take that discussion all across America.

He is saying what he thinks Democrats think, but from the context it sure appears that he is projecting his views here. Apparently, in Huckabee’s mind women who do need birth control are those who cannot control their libidos and do what he thinks unmarried women should do–abstain from sex. I believe this is a view he shares with Rush Limbaugh who called Sandra Fluke a slut for advocating in support of contraception coverage. After marriage, one Republican Congressman, Steve Pearce, recently advised that the wife’s role is to “voluntarily submit, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice.” This is a view which Huckabee appears to share.

Was this comment on  libido just a one-time mistake? No, he has used the same line before on his show.

Taylor Marsh tried to explain things to Huckabee:

Democrats are aiding women economically with free reproductive health care that includes preventative screening and birth control, not because they think we’re sluts, but because they know it’s a basic healthcare cost that drains the pockets of young women, and they’re trying to level the economic playing field a bit for us. Republicans are the ones who are fighting basic reproductive health care coverage, which hurts women.

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Conservative Opposition To Keeping Government Out Of Our Private Lives

Bert and Ernie Equality

Having arguments brought before the Supreme Court on same sex marriage has highlighted the division in this country over social issues. While liberals respect the rights of individuals to live their lives as they choose, social conservatives demonstrate the fiction of conservative support for small government or individual liberty. It is conservatives who support the use of big government to impose their views upon others.

Differing from conservative views, the posts showing up on my Facebook page are covered with graphics supporting marriage equality, with many people changing their profile pictures to ones such as above and below:

Peanuts Equality

 

There is no rational argument to support using the government to impose one’s religious views upon others. The Founding Fathers certainly frowned upon this when they developed a secular government with separation of church and state. The modern conservative movement, which is both morally bankrupt and out of touch with reality, sees things differently. Here’s the dumb conservative question of the day from  The Brody File: Are Evangelicals Now More Scorned than Homosexuals? Of course Evangelicals who seek to impose their religious views upon others should be scorned. Why does the religious right believe there is a reason that homosexuals should be scorned.

Liberal Family Values

With growing majorities supporting marriage equality, there is even speculation that the Republican Party will give up on this issue. Others will continue to fight modern times and reality. Mike Huckabee responded to the prospect of Republicans supporting same sex marriage: “if they do, they’re going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will take a walk.” Of course this would hasten the demise of the Republicans as a national political party.

Some conservatives are supporting continued discrimination based upon biblical reasons, which have no place in our system of government. I’ve even seen some claim that it is their freedom of religion which is being infringed upon. To the religious right, freedom of religion means the “freedom” to impose their religious views upon others.

Drastically Wrong

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GOP Convention Day Three: The Lying Is Escalated

The Republican convention on Wednesday was fairly uneventful until Paul Ryan gave his speech. Prior to Ryan speaking the most exciting moment was the applause which Susana Martinez received for saying she carries a Smith & Wesson. Condi Rice joined the rest of the party in avoiding mention of the president she served under. I tweeted a suggestion for a drinking game earlier tonight: “GOP Convention Drinking Game For Teetotalers: Have a drink every time George Bush is mentioned.” Rice did have a hard time finding any actual fault in Obama’s foreign policy in an interview earlier in the day.

Mike Huckabee’s speech was much weaker than I expected. I did wonder how Huckabee knows what percentage of his income Mitt Romney gave to charity? Has he seen Romney’s tax returns? How much of Romney’s donations went to the Mormon Church as opposed to real charities?

The day brought more news of racism on the floor of the convention and in the Romney campaign. There have been new problems for Romney, between antagonizing the Paul supporters (which might make a difference in a very close election) and embarrassment from the yacht holding a party for this top supporters flying the flag of the Cayman Islands.

Until Paul Ryan came on, the most annoying thing I heard from Tampa was in radio interviews during the afternoon in which Republicans repeated their usual claims of superiority on family values. The difference between liberals and conservatives is not that liberals don’t practice family values. The difference is that Democrats do not use big government to impose their values on others as Republicans do. Democrats are also more inclusive, allowing gays to practice family values as married couples as opposed to defining what a marriage must be for others as many Republicans do. Numerous studies looking at who is more “moral” have shown the blue states to come out ahead of the red states and atheists to come out ahead over those are religious. Any measurement of such things is questionable, but it certainly does not support the Republican view of being superior on family values.

The convention ended the evening with a weird mashup–Eddie Munster giving John Galt’s speech. (Herman Munster was backstage fuming over all the lies Eddie was telling).

Paul Ryan showed he was an excellent choice by Mitt Romney. Ryan has all the Romney lies down well, and even added a few of his own.

Ryan attacked Obama for a plant which closed in his district. The decision to close the plant was made under George Bush,  and the plant stopped production under George Bush while Ryan opposed bailing out the auto industry. He attacked Obama for the stimulus, leaving out all the stimulus money he sought for his district, and ignoring the fact that the stimulus saved the economy which was in free fall when Obama took office. He blamed Obama for the deficit which was run up by George Bush, with the votes of Congressional Republicans including Paul Ryan. He blamed Obama for the drop in the credit rating which was caused by the irresponsibility of Congressional Republicans who threatened not to pay the bills they ran up. He repeated the big lie that Obama cut money from Medicare to pay for Obamacare. The fact is that the cuts are for matters such as reducing the subsidies to insurance companies from George Bush’s plan, not to cut benefits for seniors, and that these cuts are also in Ryan’s budget. Obama is increasing benefits for Medicare beneficiaries such as eliminating the donut hole for prescription medications and covering preventive care not previously covered. In contrast Ryan seeks to turn Medicare into a voucher program which would greatly increase out-of-pocket costs for seniors. He also wants to greatly reduce Medicaid spending–much of which assists seniors on Medicare who cannot afford Medicare premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.

Ryan also spoke of freedom, but it is the conservative version of freedom which has nothing to do with the actual freedoms this nation was founded upon. Ryan supports the freedom of religious fanatics to impose their views upon others. Ryan supports the freedom of the ultra-wealthy to plunder the wealth of the nation and destroy the middle class.

Tomorrow night pathological liar Mitt Romney will speak.

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Huckabee Has Letter Calling Obama Advisers Political Whores Pulled

Honorable move by Mike Huckabee to demand that a fund raising  letter sent on his letterhead referring to Obama’s advisers as “morally repugnant political whores” be pulled. Huckabee denies having approved this. I am inclined to believe him. Compare Huckabee’s action in stating he did not approve this as soon as the letter went out to Ron Paul claiming he did not know about multiple racist and anti-Semitic items under his name, years after pocketing the money raised.

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Republicans Show Little Enthusiasm For Romney Nomination And It Appears Mutual On Mitt’s Part

It is now as official as it is going to get for a while. Barack Obama has obtained enough delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination and it would take a rather major and unpredictable event to change the trajectory of the Republican race to deny Mitt Romney the Republican nomination. It remains possible that Romney might fall slightly short of the number of committed delegates to win, but there are likely to be near 600 unbound delegates, making it easy for Romney to pick up enough to win the nomination.  This is ensured by the manner that the party leadership is increasingly backing him, seeing his nomination as inevitable. On the other hand, Joe Scarborough says that nobody in the GOP establishment believes Romney can win. Republican voters are accepting the reality of his nomination, feeling satisfied but only eleven percent are actually excited by this outcome. The same poll also shows that a majority of Republican voters realize that Romney says what he thinks people want to hear as opposed to what he believes.

With Romney’s nomination having been fairly certain for the last few weeks, we are starting to get some inside information about the campaign. After all, Americans have become too inpatient to wait until after a campaign is over as might have been the case in the past. According to the National Review, Mike Allen and Evan Thomas’ e-book, Inside the Circus says that “Romney didn’t even have an oppo book on Rick Santorum a few days before the Iowa caucuses.” Personally I think they were foolish to totally write him off, not that it mattered in the end. With the other conservative candidates rising and then falling, I expected Santorum to pick up enough conservative votes to achieve some victories over Romney. Ultimately Romney did have a winning strategy:

[O]n March 14 and 15, Romney had raised over $3 million in New York and Connecticut. … The Romney campaign had a clever pitch for the event. Schmoozing with his money pals before the events, a Romney fund-raiser pointed out that “slightly more than half the delegates” to the GOP convention at Tampa “are evangelicals.” These true-believer conservatives are averse not only to Romney but to semi-reasonable types like Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels. As a result, said this fund-raiser, the “responsible Republican guys” are “starting to realize” that at a brokered convention “it’s not going to be Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan, a ticket they could really love. It’s probably Huckabee-Palin or Palin-Huckabee.” That was enough to scare the Wall Street crowd into getting out their checkbooks.

With Republicans already showing little enthusiasm for Mitt Romney’s probable nomination, I wonder how the Huckabee and Palin supporters in the party accept this characterization of Huckabee and Palin as not even making his “semi-reasonable” list.

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Rick Santorum Becomes Eleventh Candidate To Lead GOP In Polls With Mitt Romney Severely Facing Problems

Although the conventional wisdom has been that Mitt Romney is the probable Republican nominee, he is certainly having a hard time establishing himself as a front runner. Before today’s poll came out, Nate Silver listed ten previous front-runners  in alphabetical order, including some Republicans who led in the polls without being a declared candidate: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump. Today, Public Policy Polling makes Rick Santorum the eleventh. Santorum leads at 38 percent. Romney trails at 23 percent, with Gingrich at 17 percent and Ron Paul at 13 percent.

Rick Santorum does even better if he does not have to divide he conservative vote with Newt Gingrich. If Gingrich were to drop out, the poll shows that 58 percent of his supporters would go to Santorum. In a such a three way race, Santorum get to 50 percent, while Romney would be at 28 percent and Paul at 15 percent.

Leadership in the GOP race has not meant very much to date, but falling behind at this stage does create problems for Romney. He might go negative against Santorum as he did against Gingrich, but his negative ads are starting to backfire. Some suggest that instead of going negative against Santorum, Romney must convert to a positive campaign. I’m not sure how a man who lacks any core beliefs or convictions can do this.  His strongest pitch is that he can make up the biggest lies about Barack Obama.

The Maine caucuses conclude tonight with a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. There is speculation that Paul might be able to pull an upset victory. If you cannot beat a crackpot like Ron Paul, it is hard to see victory for the nomination as inevitable.

There’s another potential embarrassment for Romney. Public Policy Polling is also seeing the start of a surge for Santorum in Michigan. A loss in Michigan would be devastating to Romney, both for losing his home state and because of reinforcing Santorum’s dominance over Romney in the Midwest. Perhaps Romney will try to flip-flop on having been born and raised in Michigan. Would Mitt Romney’s birth certificate then become an issue?

CPAC is also conducting their straw poll. To paraphrase Jay Leno, Romney is promising to change his views to whatever views CPAC members desire. Romney pandered before them, claiming to be “severely conservative.” The word severe might sound out of place here, unless you see it as an honest admission from Romney, such as “I am severely insane” or, at very least, “I am severely out of touch with the voters of this country.”

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The Impact of the Iowa Caucus

The 2012 Republican Iowa caucus had far less impact on the race than the 2004 and 2008 Democratic races which propelled John Kerry and Barack Obama to victories in their party. The biggest question is whether we are seeing a repeat of the 2008 Republican caucus, with Rick Santorum playing the part of Mike Huckabee. Santorum benefited from being the last non-Romney candidate standing, surging with too little time for media scrutiny to harm his campaign. His eight vote loss to Mitt Romney might be analogous to Mike Huckabee’s win if it turns out to be an isolated win for a social conservatives. There is an outside chance that Santorum might capitalize upon this win to become a strong enough anti-Romney candidate to pull an upset. If conservatism was really a small-government movement a supporter of big-government such as Santorum would have no chance, but deep down many Republicans must realize their small government rhetoric is all talk. Even the Tea Party members (who have always been dominated by social conservatives) gave Santorum support.

The biggest difference between 2008 and this year is the desire of conservatives to prevent a replay of 2008 and allow someone they see as more moderate win the nomination. Newt Gingrich now wants an anti-Romney alliance with Santorum, but this looks a lot like a losing candidate trying to remain relevant. Gingrich might destroy Romney, and in the process destroy the GOPs chances at winning the general election. It is about time Gingrich does something useful.

Meanwhile conservative leaders are meeting in Texas to attempt to find a consensus conservative candidate. Good luck finding someone who adheres to the conservative line on most issues and doesn’t come across as bat-shit crazy to moderate and independent voters in a general election.

The biggest loser was obviously Michele Bachmann who dropped out of the race. Rick Perry almost left the race. As he has been raising money better than he has been debating, he might as well remain in the race. As volatile as this race has been, he could still maintain hope of becoming the surviving anti-Romney candidate down the road.

If measuring against expectations, Ron Paul also turned out to be a loser. After appearing to have a chance to win, or at least come in a close second, his third place left him virtually forgotten behind the close Romney-Santorum battle. Besides, there are few states where Paul has a chance to pick up many votes in a Republican primary.

Overall it was an unimpressive night for Republicans, who suffered from low turn-out, and for Mitt Romney. Romney spent years and millions of dollars to show that he could not appeal to any more voters than four years ago. Derek Thompson calculated how much each candidate spent per vote. Rick Perry spent the most per vote at $478.40.  Mitt Romney spent $154.90, Ron Paul  $103.30, Newt Gingrich  $89.84, Rick Santorum  $20.50, and Michele Bachmann spent $3.95 per vote. Santorum clearly got the most for his money.

It seemed that there were far more people tweeting about the caucus last night than participating. Some say it is unfair that such a small number of people could potentially choose our president. That is no where as bad as the 2000 election when the election was decided by nine people on the Supreme Court.

 

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The Rick Perry Nightmare

Rick Perry has jumped into the lead in the GOP nomination battle. Walter Shapiro points out that Rick Perry is a liberal’s worst nightmare:

Perry is not only a presidential candidate, but also a cowboy-booted sociological experiment. It is almost as if Perry’s political persona was constructed by bundling together all the fears and phantoms in the left-wing anxiety closet. Since the hysteria of the 1950s Red Scare, no Republican figure has matched Perry in his God-given ability to give liberals the heebie-jeebies. Others can rival the governor’s disdain for academic achievement (Palin), his cross-on-the-sleeve religiosity (Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee), and his antipathy to Social Security and Medicare (Paul Ryan and Barry Goldwater). But never before has a top-tier presidential candidate embodied the whole lethal package—and more:

From there, Shapiro discussed five specific areas:

  1. Anti-Intellectualism
  2. The God Card
  3. The Living Constitution in which “Perry stands out for his creative cut-and-paste approach to the Constitution.”
  4. Pistol-Packing President
  5. Daring to Call It Treason such as “Perry’s claim that Ben Bernanke would be ‘almost treasonous‘ if he persisted in loosening monetary policy to ward off a double-dip recession.”

Shapiro also referred to other views of Perry, such as the “theory of Dave Mann, editor of the Texas Observer, that Perry’s only governing ideology is ‘crony capitalism.’”

This description of Perry should not only be considered nightmares for liberals. Perry should be nightmares for any thinking American.  There is hope that Americans will see how far Perry’s views are from mainstream American values since, as Greg Sargent discussed, his views are out there in black and white. I recently noted how Perry’s campaign is embarrassed by Perry’s writings which oppose Social Security. His latest embarrassment is Perry’s comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism in a 2008 book. With the number of extremist views present in his book, Rick Perry should even be a nightmare for any Republicans who realize that they have to appeal beyond the far right in order to win.

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