Friday, August 19, 2011

A minor point, but, oh, so revealing #1

We're in the season for redrawing the map for representation in the state legislature and for the U. S. Congressional Districts, based on the 2010 census. As expected, it erupts into a partisan battle when each side accuses the other of redrawing districts to its advantage.

Well, yes. As long as we leave the process to the political process, it's going to be -- duh -- political. To the winners, go the spoils -- or something like that.

A few states have adopted a different method, some using an independent body to draw the lines that make sense geographically, ethnically, and by the numbers and leaving politics out of it.

In the midst of writing about this, Jim Wooten, conservative columnist and former editor of the AJC, also wrote about the referendum we're having here in metro Atlanta counties to levy an extra 1% sales tax to be used for improvements in the transportation.

And Wooten doesn't like the fact that the vote on the sales tax is being shifted from the day of the primary elections to the day of the general election. Here's why.

Obama will have no opposition in the Democratic primary, so their primary will be much less significant and fewer Democrats will bother to vote. In the general election there will be many more Democrats coming out to vote -- and Obama carried some of these metro counties in 2008.

Here's the telling line. Wooten wrote:
"The decision by the Republican majority to switch to a date that will attract more Democrats further skews the outcome."
Further skews the outcome???

the outcome, sure. But skews? As in -- ruins the validity of? Or to quote one dictionary definition: to distort, depict unfairly. Apparently Wooten has just revealed his true feelings. More Democrats voting creates a distortion and it's unfair.

No surprise. This is the same thinking behind the nationwide push to enact "voter fraud" legislation (requiring a photo ID) -- which is a manufactured "problem" if there ever was one. There are practically no cases of people intentionally trying to cast an illegal vote.

However, what it does is to put up a barrier that disproportionately suppresses the likely Democratic vote. True, it is not an insurmountable barrier for most people, who already have a photo ID, like a driver's license. But some people do not drive (mostly the elderly, the poor), and the extra effort to get to some place to get the special government issued photo ID is enough to reduce their numbers voting. And guess what? The elderly and the poor are more likely to be Democratic votes.

Meanwhile, these same Republican lawmakers, who are so intent on protecting the integrity of our voting process, completely ignore the much more likely possibility of voter fraud occurring in the absentee ballot process, where you don't have to have any kind photo ID to vote. Just a stamp.

Of course, each side tries to gain advantage and increase their vote. But I don't believe there is such a concerted effort on the part of Democrats to devise methods to actually, effectively decrease the number of Republicans who will vote. They do work to make registering to vote easier for their likely voting populations. The more people who vote the better democracy we have. That's different from actively trying to prevent your opposition from voting.

In fact, that's downright Un-American.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Rick Perry has surged way ahead in the latest poll of likely Republican primary voters, just days after he announced his candidacy. A Rasmussen poll gave him 29% to Romney's 18% and Bachmann's 13%. Paul trailed in 4th place at 9%, Cain at 6%, and Gingrich at 5%.

Of course, Perry is the flavor of the week; his popularity is probably based more on hopes and magical expectations than substance. Paul Rasmussen cautioned about the significance of these results: "It’s much easier winning support when people are hoping you will get in the race, than retaining support when you are the frontrunner.”

So what's Peery's strategy? Here's my take:

He's concentrating first on knocking Bachmann off. Hence his (1) claiming he would not have signed the debt ceiling bill; (2) coming up with the novel "solution" to the Mexican border problem by using predator drones to hunt down border-jumpers; (3) suggesting to Texans who were fed up with the federal government that secession was an option; (4) floating the idea that the Gulf oil spill might have been an act of God rather than corporate malfeasance; (5) saying he doesn't believe in climate change and that scientists have manipulated the data that change proponents quote.

That's a pretty good start on moving into her territory. He does even better with Tea Party voters, Bachmann's territory: 39% to her 21%.

But how is he going to pivot from claiming the Tea Party crowd to knocking off Romney? In the same poll, he barely leads Romney among non-Tea Party Republicans, 27% to 24%. And then, if he should get the nomination, how does he stack up against Obama? Then he will need the independent vote as well as all the Republicans.

Thinking about this is tolerable to me, because I like politics as a spectator sport -- totally beyond the substance of the issues. But, when I stop and think about the sorry state of the Republican field, it is mighty disgusting.

And we thought they had scraped the bottom of the barrel when they gave us (forced on us) George W. Bush.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Post-mortem for Iowa Straw Poll

OK, so what was that all about?

Rachel Maddow -- right, as usual; and cogent, as usual -- calls it a media-hyped racket. The Straw Poll originated as a fund raiser for the Iowa Republican Party. If it tests anything, it's the ability to get Iowa citizens to go to the event and vote for you. So a good local organization helps, but mostly it's who will spend the most money to provide free tickets, buses to bring people in from all over the state, lots of free food and, more and more, the best entertainment in the closest-in tent location (the more you pay, the better the location). That was part of T-Paw's problem -- his tent was way on the other side from the rest; people had to walk too far to find it, and they didn't. Of course, if they had been excited about him, they would have.

In addition, on the same day, they can attend the Iowa State Fair, look at the prize pigs, ride the ferris wheel, and all that. It's a great summer outing. But the caucuses -- that really count -- happen in the dead of the frigid Iowa winters.

Rachel castigates the MSM for hyping it and trying to make it mean something, but it doesn't. And, she says, Tim Pawlenty shouldn't have dropped out. There is very little predictive value in who wins the polls -- even as to who carries Iowa in the January nominating caucuses.

Rick Perry got 718 write-in votes, even though he had only announced the day before and was not on the ballot. Since then, he's been all over the news, selling his "Texas Miracle" and trying to dispense with Bachmann so he and Romney can reduce it to the virtual two-man race it will become. He certainly is going after Bachmann's Tea Party crowd, not the independents. His latest idea: patrol the US-Mexican border with drone planes. And, what? Shoot illegal immigrants? That's going to endear him to the Hispanic vote, for sure. What do we think of when you say "drones?" One thing: tracking down and killing Al Qaeda terrorists.

Newt is trying desperately to paper over his dismal 8th place showing (385 votes) by a suddenly arranged speech at the Heritage Foundation to . . . what? Denounce the "Washington Elite" at a Washington elite think tank. It really strains credulity (but Newt does that every day before breakfast) to portray himself as a Washington outsider. True, he quit Congress some 15 or so years ago, after screwing up and losing out to Clinton's calling his bluff. But he has lived off the fat of the political land in the D.C. area ever since. Makes his millions selling books and CDs with his snake oil ideas.

Meanwhile, Jon Stewart is going after the MSM for ignoring Ron Paul. After all, he came in second. But, as we all know, Paul's support is very loyal but also very limited. There's not much way he can expand his base beyond what he already has. That's why.

Well, at least it's over. The field lost one (T-Paw) and gained one (The Texan). Which means the whole ship tilts a little more to the right. May it continue until it sinks.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

New definitions of chutzpah

The classical illustration of chutzpah, of course, is the man who is convicted of murdering his parents, and then pleads for the court's mercy on the grounds that he is an orphan.

Well, surprise !!!, some Republicans are coming up with good seconds.

Michele Bachmann denounces Obama's stimulus spending and turns his "socialism" (aka Keynesian economic policies) into an applause line. Hyopocrisy? You betcha !! (Oh, no, it's the "other one" who uses that line).

Anyway, as she likes to say, she has "fought hard" to get stimulus funds from federal agencies for her district. In doing so, she has used the Keynesian rationale, saying that the projects would create jobs and boost the economy. At another time, she decries stimulus spending, saying it will ruin the economy and destroy jobs. Duh !!!

Cognitive dissonance, thy name is Bachmann.

But the ones who take top prize, and rival the orphan in court, are a couple of Georgia lawmakers. They obtained a million dollar plus bank loan to buy and improve a run-down motel in North Georgia, with loan payments leveraged against the expectation of improving and selling the property at a profit in time to pay off the debt.

It didn't work out. The motel still sits unused and deteriorating. They couldn't pay the bank, and the bank is now suing them for the debt. Their lawyer just entered this plea: It's really the bank's fault: it should never have loaned them the money in the first place, because it was obvious that they couldn't repay it. In other words, the bank made an insufficiently collateralized loan -- one of the perks for politicians with power. Just ask Governor Nathan Deal, who is a master at such deals.

I know Democrats do and say stupid things, too. But I do believe the current crop of Republicans win every time on ignorance, stupidity, greed, moral failings, and just plain chutzpah.