Saturday, March 15, 2014

What if they held the vote in Crimea and nobody came?

All things point to the likelihood that the vote in Crimea on Sunday to secede from Ukraine and become an independent state affiliated with Russia will be overwhelming in favor.

Crimea is historically part of Russia and became part of Ukraine only in 1992.   Russian is the language of most of the people.   In addition, Vladmir Putin has sent thousands of armed troops into Crimea, and they are taking control of most functions, including the media.

It seems like a very intimidating situation.   Will there be any brave people who vote no?   Well, actually, there can't be:   because "no" is not on the ballot.

But what if they held the referendum -- and nobody came?


Obamacare is going to work

President Obama said this week that the 4.2 million people who have already signed up for Obamacare plans is a sufficient number to ensure the stability of the plan.

Now we have to undo all those false horror stories, put it all in perspective, and change the image that all those negative ads have etched onto the brains of the American voters.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Despicable Darrell

I honestly can think of nothing positive to say about Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) who heads the House Committee on Oversight and Government Regulations.   He has been an obnoxious abuser of the power of his office since the Republicans took control of the House.

His latest, shameless insult to ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings was a despicable act of arrogance and contempt for a colleague.   Democrats pushed back, introduced a bill to censure Issa for his behavior, which was voted down.

Yesterday they introduced another resolution calling his behavior toward the opposition "offensive" and should be "condemned."   Again it was voted down.

I'd say to the House Democrats:    Keep it up.   If the Republicans can vote 50 times to kill or weaken the Affordable Care Act, make them vote 50 times on Issa's behavior.   Even if they lose every time, it will call attention to his behavior.

And if Repubs complain, well just remind them of their 50 votes against Obamacare.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Obamacare as the campaign issue

A special election to fill the congressional seat vacated by the death of Florida's Bill Young (R-FL) this week was won by the Republican candidate, David Jolly.   So, no change in the balance in the House from this -- BUT:   Is this an indication of what we can expect next November?

This district is considered a swing district, and the Democratic candidate, Alex Sink, was well-known, having lost the race for governor of Florida to now Gov. Rick Scott.

So how bad is this as a predictor for November?   One thing we can be sure of is that Obamacare will be the big issue, as it was here in a massive ad campaign paid for largely by out of state wealthy Republican donors.   Republicans are crediting this with the win, so of course they will rev it up in November.

But here are a few caveats in that scenario:

1.  It's all in the turnout.    Republican voters always turn out better for mid-term elections, and they had a 13 point advantage in turnout this time.   Jolly won by 1.9%.   I'm not sure what this means:   if Repubs' turnout was 13 points better much better and he won by less than 2%, is that a good sign for them?   Jolly has to run again in November, and a better turnout by Dems might change things.

2.  Republicans are more energized by negative feelings about Obamacare than Democrats are by positive feelings about it.   That could change as it gets implemented over the next six months and as the news becomes more positive.

3.  The Democratic candidate actually raised more campaign money than the Republican one did.  The big difference was in outside money that did not go to the campaign  but paid for ads independently.   This was a single congressional district -- but Republicans rightly saw the advantage of striking early with the big donor money.   Maybe Dems will get wise.

4.  This may just be the wake-up call that Democrats needed to energize them.  If Democrats don't learn how to control the message, Republicans will continue in their unscrupulous attacks.  I saw some of the TV ads replayed on MSNBC in order to debunk them.   It is really shameless the distortions and outright lies that Republicans are using to frighten senior citizens about Medicare and Social Security. 

For example, cancelling some of the wasteful spending and excesses of the Medicare Advantage Program (a Bush-era alternative) is a good idea;  but Republican ads just blare out headlines about "cutting Medicare by $600 billion" and depriving seniors of their health care.

We have to do better at countering these negative ads.    Repubs got in early and often and louder -- and they have conditioned people's minds to equate "Obamacare" with all things evil.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Yes, it's early for polls . . . but, wouldn't it be good to be right about this?

Months ago, I suggested that the crowded Republican field of senate hopefuls might work to the advantage of the Democrats this year.    The idea was that Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston, David Perdue, and Karen Handell would split the not-so-right-wing conservative vote and give the nomination to ultra-conservative right-wing Paul Braun.

Then Democrat Michelle Nunn would have an easier time defeating nutty Paul Braun in the general election.

A Public Policy Poll has just been released that shows exactly that happening:  Braun lead with 27%, followed by Gingrey 14%, Kingston 13%, Perdue 12%, and Handell 9%.   Of course, if you think of those four as the anti-Braun vote, they total 48%.

So, if there is a run-off, the one of those four who emerges to vie with Braun will probably win.

But it's going to be fun to watch.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Thank you, Robert Gates

Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense under both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama said that "I do not think that Crimea will slip out of Russia's, hand."    He added that he thinks Putin will not stop until he has a pro-Russian government in Kiev ruling all of the rest of Ukraine.

At the same time, Gates also admonished his fellow Republicans to tone down their criticism of President Obama as weak and responsible for Putin's bold invasion of Ukraine.  "Putin invaded Georgia when George W. Bush was president. . . . Nobody ever accused George W. Bush of being weak or unwilling to use military force."

The truth is that we have little leverage over Putin's actions in Ukraine, and Obama is using them all, except for a counter military force -- which no one wants.    But we can expect that this rhetoric, dismissing Obama as weak and feckless, will continue to be used as a political issue.

So thanks to at least one Republican, Robert Gates, for setting your colleagues straight on the matter -- not that it will have the least effect.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

A new low - #3. This is how bad it is.

I want to further clarify what is really the issue in the senate's rejection of nominee Debo Adegbile to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

It is entirely defensible that any lawyer can provide legal defense for anyone without that being taken to be an indication of the lawyer's beliefs in anything other than the Constitution's guarantee of a legal right to representation in a court of law.

However, even beyond that basic test of fairness, Debo Adegbile did not represent the man accused of killing a policeman in his initial trial of a murder that occurred 30 years ago (when Adegbile was 17 years old).

No, as head of the NAACP's legal assistance program, he became involved in an appeal based on the constitutionality of the trial judge's sentencing instructions.

Furthermore, the appeals judge agreed that there was a violation of the defendent's constitutional rights and commuted the sentence to life in prison.

That's it.   Adegbile was involved in helping a man get his constitutional rights in a court of law.   Nothing more, nothing less than that.     And for that, the nation has been denied the service of the most qualified person who could head the Civil Rights Division at this crucial time of voter suppression state laws that need to be challenged.

FoxNews spun this into guilt by association for Adegbile, calling him a "cop-killer coddler," and framing their video background to make it look to the casual viewer that the black man they were talking about, whom President Obama had nominated to head the Civil Rights Division, was actually the black thug in prison garb shown in background videos.   And if you repeatedly call him a "cop-killer coddler," what's going to stick in people's minds is "cop-killer."

Thus, FoxNews and their far-right echo chamber set out to taint a good man so that it would become politically difficult for some senators to vote for the confirmation.

That's what we're up against.   It's another example of how the money bags of conservative billionaires exert their influence.    It's not just that they buy congressmen;  others they simply destroy by tactics as were used against Adegbile.   They buy news networks that do this kind of distortion and character assassination of good people in order to inject their politican slant into what's supposed to be news.   This distorts public opinion and builds outrage, so that good congress-persons either vote in bad laws or guarantee they will be defeated in the next election.

Aided and abetted by the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision -- and a pending case will possibly make it even worse -- our nation is moving to the point where we are being governed more by big money than by democractic processes.   We are becoming an oligarchy.