Showing posts with label Mitt Romney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mitt Romney. Show all posts

Saturday, November 03, 2012

My Choice for President: Dr. Jill Stein (Green Party)

 For those who knew me in my younger days when I was a Republican, all I can say is this: today’s Republican Party is nothing like the GOP I grew up in.  It has been captured by religious extremists, by hateful leaders who train their supporters in academically dishonest sound bites, and by a scary collection of people who parrot an odd mix of mean-spiritedness, cluelessness, and hypocrisy.  Today’s Republican Party is no longer a serious contender for my vote. It is no surprise that they are frothing at the mouth at NJ Governor Chris Christie's post-disaster comments about the President, wouldn't give intellect John Huntsman the time of day, and eventually saw Maine Senator Olympia Snowe leave the party in frustration. End of Discussion.

But for those who know me, and who know I have a Libertarian streak a mile wide and a Liberal soul a mile deep… there might be some head-scratching as to why I can not support Gary Johnson (Libertarian), or, as the vast majority of my friends do, Barack Obama.  

No, I support Jill Stein.

There is no question that the 2012 election will be won by either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.  And, given my dismissal of the Republicans in the opening paragraph, one could honestly ask me,

 “Why, in a close election year, aren’t you supporting Obama?  Why would you waste your vote on a candidate who can not win, and possibly ‘throw’ the election to Romney?’

Valid questions, and I am prepared to supply what I believe is a valid answer.

Why aren’t you supporting Obama?

I can not support Barack Obama because I disagree with his actions on the issues that are the most important to me.

One ‘collection’ of issues I have been writing about for several years is the growth of the American Police State: the continued loss of civil liberties, the continued shredding of Constitutional protections against the unwarranted search and seizure of Americans’ private lives, and the new surveillance state.  And Obama, in an effort to show he can be as hawkish on security as the GOP, has made that growing police state even worse.  His renewal of the Patriot Act, his support and signing of the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA, and his reversal on the issue of closing the Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp belies a willingness to sacrifice liberty in the name of political capital. The coordination of his Department of Homeland Security with local police departments in an effort to suppress the Occupy Wall Street movement evidences a view on ‘security’ that is no different than the Republicans.

On  Environmental and Energy issues, the Republicans would have us believe that Obama has squelched domestic development of fossil fuels, thus hurting jobs and our economy. In response, the Obama administration and the Obama campaign have lost a golden opportunity: rather than embrace alternative energy in a real way, they point out that domestic drilling for oil and gas is at an all-time high.  The Obama campaign has taken painstaking steps to insure that all of their literature openly embraces the expanded use of domestic oil, gas, and even coal….in addition to clean energies.  We need to reverse this, not expand it. Fracking must be ended, not 'studied.'

On related issues, Obama has appointed a notoriously pro-genetically modified food Monsanto Executive to monitor our food supply at the FDA, and coordinated raids on small local farms selling raw milk to local customers. Large Agri-Business and the Chemical industry has gained under Obama, while the family farm has been in the bulls-eye.  Obama, as a supposed liberal, is a complete disappointment on environmental issues.

And then there are wars: wars in the Middle East, and the infamous War on Drugs.  This nation continues to fight an unwinnable war, with no defined goals, in Afghanistan – troops (including National Guard members) that could have been better-used at home during times of national disasters.  Suicides among troops now exceed combat deaths, and those who dare to blow the whistle on military operations – such as Bradley Manning - are imprisoned in conditions that have drawn the condemnation of the world.  

In the meantime, Obama has killed more people in one term of office – including innocent civilians – through drone strikes than George Bush did in two. There is NO excuse for this scorched-earth, innocents-be-damned policy.

As for the “War on Drugs,” the United States now has the largest incarcerated population in the world – more than states like China where rights are minimal.  This is due entirely to a federally-fueled, failed war on drugs. Obama has increased – not decreased – this war against those who commit victimless’ crimes.  This policy has devastated families, made young people ineligible for education loans, and has caused more death and suffering than any recent military operation. 

And yet, even while Americans are showing stronger and stronger support for the outright legalization of marijuana – Obama has systematically raided medical marijuana dispensaries in states where this has been legalized.  This is not the liberal President, or the ‘hope and change’ I had hoped for.

Where we *should* declare war is on the Bank Mobsters who destroyed our economy. On the issue of Bank Regulation – an issue that is at the top of the list for me – I must point out that Democrats, as a rule, have been as bad as Republicans.  The bailouts of Wall Street were not Republican schemes – they were bipartisan.  Democrat Chris Dodd in the Senate and Democrat Barney Frank in the House pushed for the bailouts – bailouts Obama supported.  Obama added insult to injury by *stacking* the United States government financial arms with executives from Goldman Sachs, thus solidifying an interest group that has been objectively shown to habitually make money through destruction.  What Romney did at Bain, Obama’s Federal Reserve and Treasury Appointments are doing from their Presidentially-guarded positions of authority.

And today, the Banks that were ‘too big to fail’ are now bigger than they were before the crisis – with no political stomach on Obama’s part to change it.

I’m sorry, but these are not the kind of positions that I can support. 

If a Republican had taken the positions Obama took, I wouldn't consider voting for them for a second.  There is no reason I should vote for Obama just because he has a “D” after his name.

But you’re wasting your vote!  Look, Obama is not perfect, but if everyone did what you are doing, we’d be throwing the election to Romney!

No, they would be joining me in demanding change.

Historically, Third Parties have had an under-appreciated role in the American politics.  It is not just through winning elections that change is secured.

The most important political changes in the last century: Anti-Trust legislation, Women’s right to vote, the right of unionization, the advent of the social security system, the end of the Vietnam War – did NOT happen because the major parties initiated them, or because people continued to vote for the ‘lesser of two evils.’

They happened because people voted for Third Parties. Third Parties have *always* been the engines that have catapulted important change to the forefront of political discourse.

These parties did not ‘win’ the elections – but they raised the issues in ways that were much louder and much more effective.  In each case, minor parties demanded these changes – and when the major parties saw their growing numbers, they finally found the political courage to adopt those positions.

Yes, I will vote for Jill Stein for President.  The Green Party has a platform that demands an end to military adventurism, the development of clean, renewable energy, the recognition of worker’s rights, the end of the Police Surveillance State, and a change in direction on the War on Drugs (including long-overdue legalized industrial hemp).

I take my vote seriously.  When I turned 18, I went to register to vote that very morning.  I have never missed an election since then.

The Green Party (or, in Massachusetts, the “Green-Rainbow Party") supports what I believe in.  It is precisely because I take my Right to vote seriously, that I will exercise that right by choosing Green and Honkala on Tuesday.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Obama vs Romney: Oct 1 Update

As of today, we're looking at a runaway slam-dunk for President Obama over Mitt Romney by an electoral vote of 348-190.

Romney's verbal gaffes and inability to connect with average Americans has seriously hurt any chances he had to pick off important swing states. In fact, it would be fair to say that the election is being lost by Romney more than it is being won by Obama: we expect many normally-Republican voters to just sit this one out in disgust. 

Ironically, it was Obama who feared a stay-at-home electorate earlier in the campaign, as progressive democrats grew increasingly disappointed by the President's military and environmental policies.  But Romney's penchant for embracing wealthy voters in overt and naïve ways - exacerbated by his wife's general cluelessness - has seen his poll numbers slide in almost every region of the nation.

In fact, President Obama is not polling appreciably better anywhere than he did last election, or than in the last few months; rather, Romney voters have begun to desert him and have decided to stay home, vote for a third party candidate, or remain undecided.

In key swing states -  Florida, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, and North Carolina - Obama has clearly pulled ahead.  States viewed by some in the media as 'swing,' such as Colorado and Wisconsin, were never really in doubt at all and are solidly in the Blue column.

In this month's edition, we also move a few more electoral votes to the Democrats: Iowa, which we had felt confident would go red, is now blue again; and Nebraska - which divides its votes based on Congressional Districts - is likely to give one vote to Obama, in spite of the Republican's successful gerrymandering of Omaha during last years' redistricting.

And, we make note of three more states that are within the pollster's margins of error, but which should be reliably red: Georgia, Montana, and Arizona. We are keeping these in the Republican column for now, but if Romney continues to make these out-of-touch gaffes during the October debates, and if Obama finds a bit more mojo, the Republicans could be looking at losing even these previously safe red states.

I also am going to go out on a limb to make another prediction:  overall turnout will be low.  Many Americans remain unenthusiastic about both candidates. While some (including yours truly) will cast their vote for a third party candidate, many will stay home.  The election will be determined by degrees of disappointment, rather than degrees of enthusiasm.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Romney Campaign Buttons Outsourced to China


For the last 40 years or so, I have collected political campaign buttons, especially Presidential Campaign buttons.  I finally decided to shed some of my collection this year, and have been selling some of my prized buttons on eBay.  From FDR through the 2000s, I have hundreds of them (including one from 1876, which I intend on keeping).

In spite of the many differences among them, there is a common theme to all of them, throughout the years:  they were made in  the United States.  Whether the candidate was a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican, there has been a historic tradition that you not only have your buttons made in the America - - you have them made at union shops.  The all-pervasive “union bug,” the symbol of the manufacturing unions, has been printed  on the edges of US political buttons of all parties for – well, - generations.  The "Union Bug" was first used by the "Carpenter's Eight-Hour League," a union that adopted a stamp in 1869 for use on products produced by factories employing men on the eight- (as opposed to ten-) hour day. 

I have included some samples from my own collection at the bottom of this post.  The “bug” not only sends the message that the candidate supports blue-collar workers and American-made products, it is often used among collectors to validate a button as ‘legitimate’ and not a recent, cheap reproduction.  Common unionized manufacturers – still in existence after more than 80 years - include Bastian Brothers of Rochester, NY and N. G. Slater of New York City.

This year’s Republican platform slams China.  It criticizes their currency policies (a fair criticism), and goes on to warn of GOP plans to use tariffs and international organizational pressure against Chinese imports.  It criticizes the Chinese military presence off of her own shores, and supports weapon sales to Taiwan.

So one would not think that a campaign that is criticizing China; that is threatening tariffs on imports from China; whose standard bearer, Mitt Romney, is trumpeting his ability to create jobs while ducking charges of outsourcing American jobs …would have had its campaign buttons made … 

Guess where?  

In China.

Just got to shake my head.

[UPDATE:  The Romney Campaign was contacted by this Blog on the day we ran this story, through the official campaign Press inquiry channel they requested we use, and was asked to provide the name and address of the company used to make these buttons.  The campaign has chosen, so far, not to respond.]

Pictures of Political buttons with American Union Bugs :  Gerald Ford (Republican, 1976), Wendell Willkie (Republican, 1940), Jimmy Carter (Democrat, 1976) and John B. Anderson (Independent, 1980).

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Obama vs. Romney Electoral Map, July 1 Update

NOTE: This post was updated on Sept 1 HERE.

We have been updating our prediction on the first of each month, and this month.....NOTHING changes.  We still see Obama being re-elected by an electoral vote of 304-234.  We see no changes in any states this month, as Obama's victory on health care and increased Latino organizing appear to be counterbalancing the generally poor economy.

Here's the map, with some analysis of swing states below:

ARIZONA: Once a red state, we see a backlash happening on several fronts: the zany antics of Sheriff Joe, efforts to define 'personhood' at ovulation, harping on the 'birther' issue, and harsh rhetoric about immigration should cause a perfect stew of resentment against Republicans by Hispanics, women, young people, and independents.  The elimination of three clauses of Gov. Jan Brewer's pet anti-immigrant legislation will further energize progressives and immigrant-rights groups to win in Arizona. We see this state swinging Blue now.

IOWA: Polls are mixed, and too close to call. Iowa is tough to gauge, and will be close: we give the edge to the organizing capabilities of the religious right combined with the pro-Romney Des Moines GOP machine. Red.

FLORIDA: This should be Blue, but a massive effort by Republicans in the state to purge voting rolls of Democratic-leaning groups is almost certain to throw the electoral votes of Florida into court - again.  We give it to the GOP - again.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Though it went for Obama (narrowly) last time, this is a tight state.  An active Libertarian Party bid in NH that emphasizes peace and an end to the war on drugs will hurt Obama as much as Romney; and an increasingly organized Green Party effort will hurt Obama far more than Romney.  Given the already tight race in this state, we now give it to Romney - though we doubt he will win it with a majority of votes.

NORTH CAROLINA: Democratic convention in Charlotte notwithstanding, there is some Triumphalism among the religious right over the recent vote to ban Marriage Equality in the NC Constitution.  This momentum may just carry them through the Fall.

As for the other "swing" states: We still give Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio to Obama, and Indiana (won by Obama in 2008) to Romney. We do not believe that Obama is in danger of losing Wisconsin, but next month's recall election may tell us more about political organization and voter sentiment.


Sunday, May 06, 2012

Mitt's Nightmare: Ron Paul supporters take over State Conventions

Ignored by the mainstream media and cheated out of wins in the Republican primaries and caucuses, Ron Paul supporters are getting their revenge.

We reported in February that Romney supporters in Iowa announced Romney’s supposed win prematurely, and later had to admit that Santorum had won.

Then, a week later, we broke the story as to how Maine Republican leaders announced that Romney had won that state’s caucuses without waiting for Paul’s strongholds in Waldo and Washington County were counted.

Now, in both states, Paul supporters have taken control of the state parties. Even more embarrassing for Mitt, they have taken over his home state Massachusetts delegation as well.

At the Massachusetts’ state convention less than half of Romney’s 27 chosen delegates were formally elected to attend the national convention. Paul supporters won all of those slots instead. That means that while the state’s delegates are technically committed to vote for Romney, they also choose the state party chairman, vote their conscience on the official platform and procedural votes, and can support whoever they want for VP nominee.

In Maine yesterday, Brent Tweed, a York County state committee member and Paul supporter, defeated party-favorite (and one-time Gubernatorial candidate) Charles Cragin for the post of state party chairman by a vote of 1,118 – 1,114. Paul supporters also successfully elected Ron Morrell as the state party secretary.

Paul backers in Alaska were elected as party chairman and co-chairman. Paul supporters are now a majority in the Iowa GOP’s State Central Committee, and he’s set to claim a majority of the state’s delegates despite finishing third in the caucuses. They took over the Louisiana caucuses, carrying four out of six congressional districts with a tie in a fifth. That means 74 percent of the state’s convention delegates will be Paul backers. In Minnesota, Paul won 20 of 24 delegates allocated at congressional district conventions, and he’s expected to take more at the statewide convention. Paul supporters teamed up with backers of former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum in Colorado to get 13 delegates.

The candidate has also picked up small delegate gains in states where Romney won big — for example, five delegates in Pennsylvania and four in Rhode Island. And in the upcoming convention, it’s a good bet that Paul will capture that delegation as well.

Mitt may have done well getting the entrenched establishment pronounce their support,  securing donations from Wall Street buddies, and purchasing votes and media adulation....but he is having significant trouble with his ground game, and may find that the national convention in Tampa may be more of a headache than he expected.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Republican Race: Watch George E. Pataki

In the Republican Presidential race, those who place bets on such things have given Mitt Romney the edge from the beginning. Romney has not given them much reason to be confident: his continual (and silly) lurching to the right on every imaginable issue to appeal to the party base, coupled with a constant stream of verbal gaffes and inability to ‘connect’ with voters, has resulted in a performance that can be described, at best, as lackluster. Even when he wins, polls show that those who vote for him do so out of a sense of inevitability and without much enthusiasm.

In spite of his narrow win in his home state of Michigan, he actually split the delegates from that state on an even 50-50 basis with Rick Santorum. Next week’s “Super Tuesday” will see Romney losses in southern and western states…with more southern states (Alabama and Mississippi) lined up for votes on March 13.

The prospects of a brokered convention – and the possibility of the Republicans choosing a yet-unnamed candidate – is growing by the minute.

So, let me be the first to say it:

Watch George E. Pataki.

Pataki may have been flying under the electoral radar all season, but he has been a very busy man.

On February 13, Pataki issued the following statement:

“The Obama administration continues to govern in its own Bizarro World that fails to recognize the devastating impact of the debt crisis we face. Today’s election year budget with another staggering trillion dollar plus deficit is a clear sign that the Obama administration has given up on even the facade of fiscal restraint and is content to bankrupt America in a cynical bid to save his political career. Jack Lew is right about one thing, the time for austerity is not today, it was last week and last year. It’s not halftime in the debt crisis; we’re in sudden death overtime and the clock is ticking down on our ability to effectively address this issue. President Obama must get real and revive the recommendations of the Simpson Bowles Commission.”

While slamming President Obama in the national debt on one hand, he has operated as the quintessential New York establishment Republican on the other hand: he has managed to take an anti-public employees union position (to the cheers of conservatives), while allying himself with a liberal Democrat (New York’s popular Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo). On Sunday, Pataki told the NY Daily News that the New York State public employees pension system needs to be changed:

“In this case, I think it’s clear the governor’s efforts to reform the pension system are correct and necessary. What we’ve seen is just an enormous increase in the contributions required by government employers.” The result, he said, is “continued spiraling upward [of property taxes] that is not sustainable. It’s wrong and I would hope the reform movement will succeed and will succeed this year."

Anti-Government Spending. Anti-Taxes. Anti-Public Employee Unions.

All while supporting a popular Democratic Governor.

These are not the positions of a casual commentator. These are the positions staked out by a shrewd politician.

The challenge for any Republican candidate for President is to hold on the conservative GOP base, while attracting moderate independents, and maybe even gathering some liberal support. This is standard politics for Pataki, who managed to govern one of the most reliably Democratic states in the country – New York – for twelve consecutive years (1995-2006).

For red-meat conservatives, Pataki offers solid credentials on some specific issues: Having been trusted to introduce George W. Bush at the Republican Nominating Convention, he was then appointed by Bush as a United States delegate to the 2007 United Nations General Assembly session, a post that required (and received) the approval of the U. S. Senate. In that post, Pataki focused on terrorism. He continues to serve on the Board of Directors of the American Security Council Foundation, a neo-conservative, pro-military-industrial complex “Peace Through Strength” advocacy group. The Foundation’s positions are entirely consistent with the saber-rattling words uttered by Gingrich, Romney and Santorum throughout the primary season.

But in contrast to Romney, whose Massachusetts health care plan (“Romneycare”) was the precursor and model for the federal “Obamacare,” Pataki has strongly (and credibly) opposed the Obama plan, much to the delight of the conservative Republican base: Two years ago (April 2010) Pataki announced that he was creating a nonprofit organization, “Revere America,” to push for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which he called "horrific" and a “costly bungle.”

Like a good New York statesman, though, Pataki has been careful not to lurch to the right on every issue, thus preventing him from being pigeonholed as a fringe conservative. After serving as Governor, Pataki joined Chadbourne & Parke, a law firm that emphasizes its renewable energy practice. He then formed the “Pataki-Cahill Group,” an environmental consulting firm, and worked with the Council on Foreign Relations on climate change issues.

Probably the most important environmental initiative in the northeast – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or “ RGGI” – was the brainchild of George Pataki, and a project he implemented while Governor.

The RGGI uses market-based mechanisms to make dirty power plants pay for their pollution and clean up their act while simultaneously investing their payments in clean energy. The concept of the program is simple: Put a limit on power plant pollution, make polluters pay for the global warming emissions that they spew into the air, and reinvest that money in clean energy construction projects. These projects create jobs, reduce U.S. addiction to foreign crude oil, and reduce pollution. It is largely regarded as a win-win for the economy and the environment. It was promoted by both Republicans and Democrats from 10 states stretching from Maine to Maryland. And it was spearheaded by Pataki.

Anti-Tax, Anti-Spending, Anti-Debt, Anti-Obamacare, Pro-Military.

Pro-Environment, Pro-bipartisan, with Foreign Affairs (UN) experience.

Fiscal Conservative, Social Moderate.

Did I mention that at age 67, it’s now or never for Pataki? And that he has a Political Action Committee?

You read it here first: Watch for a Republican Convention without a conclusive nominee. And watch for George E. Pataki.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Michigan: Microcosm of a Schizoid Electoral Process

Regardless of whether Romney or Santorum ultimately win the Michigan Primary, the true lesson of this campaign is the schizoid nature of American electoral politics.

By all measures, Michigan is a Democratic-leaning state with moderate to liberal values. The state has voted Democratic in all five of the last five Presidential elections. 25% of the state is a member of a minority (largely black and/or Hispanic). In this post-9/11 era, Michigan is home to the largest per capita percent of Arab-Americans in the nation: 40% of the city of Dearborn claims Arab ancestry, and many of these families have lived in Dearborn for three generations. Unlike the rest of the nation, where the percent of union members in the labor force has fallen to single digits, 16.5% of this state’s workforce is unionized.

And yet, in the 1972, the Democratic Primary in Michigan was won by George C. Wallace – the Segregationist Governor of Alabama famous for uttering the phrase "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” in his gubernatorial address. A Governor who stood in the doorway at the University of Alabama to prevent black students from entering.

Let me say that again:

A southern Segregationist…

Won the Democratic Primary…

In the Canadian-border state of Michigan.

And this reveals the odd nature of the American process of electing Presidents.

There are, essentially, two different campaigns that take place: early in the process, candidates seek to win the nomination of their own political party. In this stage, they know that they need to appeal to the most dedicated, passionate ideological minorities within their party: those most likely to get red in the face and froth at the mouth when discussing ideas, no matter how ivory-tower or unrealistic those ideas are. We see this occurring right now, as Santorum and Romney trip over themselves and each other trying to prove that they are the most extreme as they appeal the party extremists.

Thus, Romney insists that he is “severely” conservative, and insists that marriage should be between a man and a woman (even as he governed Massachusetts as it established Marriage Equality). Santorum continues to raise the issue of contraception, an issue that hasn't been a serious electoral issue for over 40 years, and question, in coy ways, the President's religion. Both candidates beat the war drum on Iran.

But then, they are not seeking the support of the general electorate: they are seeking the fringe activists who will influence the primary.

As an example, Santorum swept the entire state of Missouri in their Primary just a few weeks ago; but that landslide win was achieved by attracting a relatively small number of very passionate voters. A grand total of 252,000 votes were cast in the Missouri Primary; by contrast, in the 2008 general election, 2,887,000 Missourians cast vote. In other words, a mere 8.7% of total active electorate handed Santorum his Missouri victory. One wins a primary by appealing to the most extreme and rabid elements in the party.

But that’s not how general elections are won.

The second ‘stage’ in the election, after each party has nominated their candidate, happens when each candidate rushes to the middle in the hope that most Americans will forget the ridiculous things they said during the primary.

In fact, most Americans are not harshly ideological. Many voters ultimately cast their vote based on how they “feel” about a candidate: his or her courage, honesty, consistency, “presidential look,” empathy, and how they can identify with his or her ‘story.’

And so, we have watched Mitt and Rick act like fruitcakes, beating their breasts and howling the most extreme, fringe comments their speech-writers could invent in an effort to win the Michigan Primary.

But in the end, it really doesn't matter who wins this Primary. In November 2012, regardless of whether Santorum or Romney or some other character is the GOP nominee, Michigan will hand its 16 electoral votes to President Obama…and the only thing Romney and Santorum will have to show for their primary fight are ridiculous statements that will make average Americans shake their head in disbelief for elections to come.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Maine Republicans: Where's Waldo?!

[Important update at end of post]

Last week, the Maine Republican Party reported that Mitt Romney had defeated Ron Paul in the state’s caucuses by a scant 194 votes. The mainstream media dutifully reported this ‘fact,’ and went on to other issues. Political Bloggers, however, would not let the issue rest, as the announcement was made before 17% of the precincts in Maine had voted. The state party openly admitted that the votes from Washington County had not been included in the final count, as the precincts in that county had not yet cast votes: they were postponed until this weekend due to the forecast of a major snowstorm. The decision to exclude Washington County raised eyebrows, as that county is home to the University of Maine at Machias, and is expected to return a strong vote for Ron Paul.

But now it appears that other precincts throughout the state – including those that actually voted on the February 11 Caucus date – were also not included. In particular, Waldo County – the mid-coast county where this blogger’s family owned a camp for four generations – was almost entirely left out from the total vote counts.

The city of Belfast, a working-class city of 6,600 people at the head of the Penobscot Bay, and next-door Searsport, a similar port of 2,600, turned in “0 votes” according to the final tabulation just released by the state Republican Party, even though both places held caucuses on the 11th. In all, 20 of the 26 Towns in Waldo County were omitted from the announced vote totals. Suspicion of a stolen election is growing, as some of the Waldo County towns with known returns delivered significant margins to Ron Paul: Paul defeated Romney by 16-3 in Montville, and 9-1 in Palermo.

And the “clerical oversight” wasn’t limited to Waldo County: in neighboring Kennebec County, the city of Waterville – a city of 15,000 residents with a poverty rate twice that of the state and not likely fertile ground for Mitt Romney – were not included in the state party’s official returns.

The Bangor Daily News, one of Maine's two statewide newspapers, reported yesterday that “Pressure is mounting on the Maine Republican Party to reconsider its weekend declaration that Mitt Romney won the state’s caucuses…”


In the meantime, in spite of all of their fancy screens and bells and whistles and election analysts - - -where have the major networks been on this story?

UPDATE:The Mainstream media continue to ignore it, but the Blogosphere has apparently forced Maine GOP Chairman Charlie's Webster's hand: GOP HQs emailed all party leaders today (Thursday, Feb 16) with this message: “County Chairman & Town Chairman [sic], We are reconfirming the totals from the Presidential Preference Straw poll. Can you please EMAIL ME the totals from your towns. For County Chairman [sic] if you are emailing the total for your entire county can you please list the towns that are included.” Read more at Politico

In addition, the Waldo County Republican Committee took a vote of no confidence and called for the censure of party chairman Charlie Webster.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mitt Romney steals Iowa in January, Maine in February

On the night of January 3, Iowa state Republican officials – partisans of the ‘establishment’ Republican Party - announced that Mitt Romney had won the Iowa caucuses by a mere 8 votes. But a win is a win, and the establishment officials who organized the capital area (Des Moines and West Des Moines) for Romney were relieved, especially since Romney was losing counties he won all over the state the last time he ran.

But then, a few weeks later, a new vote total was announced: On Jan. 20, some uncounted votes were “discovered,” and Rick Santorum was declared the winner by 34 votes. Panicked that the establishment favorite would be seen as a loser, Iowa GOP Chair Matt Strawn said no winner could be certified because the votes of eight additional precincts were “missing.” (Strawn resigned as party head Jan. 31).

Romney would go on to win New Hampshire and Florida, but face embarrassing defeats in South Carolina, Colorado,, Minnesota, and Missouri. The last thing Romney needed was yet another defeat in Maine.

And so, Maine State Republican Chairman Charlie Webster announced an hour ago that Mitt Romney won the Maine caucuses with 2,190 votes, and that Ron Paul came in second with 1,996 (39% - 36%). The difference between the two candidates – a mere 194 votes – offers a much-needed, but still razor-thin win by Romney.

But wait....are the caucuses over?

The media have simply parroted Webster’s announcement that Romney has won by 194 votes. But the reality is that 17% of the precincts in Maine have not yet voted - and Webster is insisting he will invalidate them.

Those precincts include voters from the University of Maine at Machias, in the heart of Washington County. Ron Paul has, so far, won the plurality of votes cast among college students in every state in which a primary or caucus has been held.

Maine's caucuses do not all happen at the same time, as each Town decides how to conduct their own caucuses. In Maine, caucuses began as early as February 4 and continued throughout the week. But the results announced this past hour only account for just 83 percent of all of the precincts in the state. Caucuses in Washington County, which were originally scheduled today, were postponed until next weekend because a major snowstorm hit today.

The official weather forecast:

Moderate to heavy snow and strong winds will create very hazardous traveling conditions. Frequent blowing and drifting snow will cause near whiteout conditions at times.

Schools and other meeting facilities were closed.

Is it possible, in a County of almost 33,000 residents and a university campus, that Romney's “victory” margin of only 194 votes might disappear?

Webster doesn’t want to take any chances. In an effort to preserve a Romney victory at all costs, Webster declared that any caucus results that come in after tonight would not, under any circumstances, be counted.

A century and a half ago, there was a common political cliche that said, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation!.” This was not necessarily because Maine was a bellweather state, but because Maine voters would cast their votes in September, rather than on the usual national November Election Day. Yankee pragmatism suggested that the threat of severe winter weather in November should naturally mean that Mainers be given the chance to cast their votes earlier in the season, when they weren’t likely to be battling two feet of snow and freezing rain.

And so, in another pragmatic decision that was supported by a century-old, long-honored Maine tradition, Washington County officials delayed the caucuses because of severe February winter weather. But Webster won't count them.

Apparently, Webster is more interested in disenfranchising voters and securing a Romney win at all costs...making Maine the second state stolen by Mitt Romney in the Republican race for the nomination.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dixville Notch, Hart's Location Results are in....

Dixville Notch and Hart's Location, two tiny hamlets nestled high in the White Mountains, have started - and completed - their Primary Votes.

The Dixville Notch GOP Results are:

Jon Huntsman - 2 votes
Mitt Romney - 2 votes
Ron Paul - 1 vote
Newt Gingrich - 1 vote
Rick Perry - 0
Rick Santorum - 0

The Hart's Location GOP Results are:

Mitt Romney - 5 votes
Ron Paul - 4 votes
Jon Huntsman - 2 votes
Rick Perry - 1 vote
Newt Gingrich - 1 vote.
Rick Santorum - 0

So, taken together, that's Romney - 7; Paul - 5; Huntsman - 4; Gingrich and Perry, 1 each; and Santorum a big Zero.

Shades of things to come?


Sunday, January 08, 2012

Perry & Romney Evade Issues, Reveal Constitutional Ignorance

Before giving the my first test each semester, I have a humorous – but very serious – discussion with my students about how to think critically and attack essay questions.

“If I ask you, 'which is more expensive, per ounce – the lemon or the orange?', the following are not appropriate answers:

“I think oranges are too expensive”
“I really, really like oranges!”
“I actually prefer limes in my drinks.”
“Do oranges grow anywhere except Florida?”

Students often laugh at this, but it is a very common college freshman approach on an essay test to write ‘something’ about the subject, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with answering the specific question that was asked. Sometimes it is because the student is evading the question, because they don't know the answer; other times, it is a serious inability to engage in critical thinking.

It is, apparently, not an error limited to college freshman: it appears to be standard operating procedure among Republican Presidential candidates…an error (or tactic) that is exacerbated by their frightening ignorance of basic constitutional law.

At a campaign stop last week, in Iowa, Rick Perry was asked to reconcile his support for limited government with a state anti-sodomy law that was on the books while he was Governor. The questioner mentioned Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 to strike down the law, in effect legalizing private consensual sexual activity of any flavor. Perry was governor at the time of the court decision.

Perry rambled the following answer:

“I don’t dislike government, I just want government to work” [not an answer]. “We have a federal government that is out of control from the standpoint of spending [not an answer]. And, you know, I wish I could tell you I know every Supreme Court case. I don’t. I’m not even going to try to go through every Supreme Court case. I’m not a lawyer.[ignorance of basic constitutional law decided while he was Governor of the state which was the subject of the decision]. But here’s what I do know. I know they’re spending too much money in Washington, D.C., and $15 trillion worth of debt is on that young man right there [not an answer]. We can sit here and play I-gotcha questions on ‘What about this Supreme Court case?’ [you should know this, Rick] or whatever, but you know and I know that the problem in this country is spending in Washington, D.C. It’s not some Supreme Court case.[Fail]

Later, when asked by reporters if he knew what the Lawrence v. Texas case was, Perry answered, “I don’t. I think I explained … that pretty good there, that I didn’t understand it. I’m not taking the bar exam.”

That was at least a direct, honest answer to the question. It also revealed startling ignorance.

Last night at St. Anselm’s College in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney pulled the same “I prefer limes in my drinks” non-answer.

The exchange began when ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos asked whether Romney believed that the US Constitution contains a Right to Privacy. The question was clearly seeking his opinion on the 1965 case, Griswold vs. Connecticut, in which the Supreme Court invalidated a Connecticut statute that prohibited birth control, even between married adults. This decision established a right to privacy (especially in family matters) in the Bill of Rights, and has been cited for almost 50 years by the Court in subsequent decisions ranging from reproductive rights to home education rights. Here is the exchange:

Romney: “George, this is an unusual topic that you’re raising [non-answer; buying time]. States have the right to ban contraception? [No, they don’t, due to Griswold vs. Connecticut]. I can’t imagine that states would want to ban contraception. If I were a governor or a legislator in a state, I would totally oppose any effort to ban contraception [non-answer]. So you’re asking -- given the fact that there’s no state that wants to do so -- you are asking could it constitutionally be done? We could ask our constitutionalist here” [pointing at Ron Paul, and buying more time].

Stephanopoulos: “I am asking you, do you believe states have that right or not?”

Romney : “George, I don’t know whether the state has the right to ban contraception. [Ignorance]. No state wants to. The idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no state wants to do is kind of a silly thing, I think [continued Non-answer. Attack the questioner rather than answer the question].

Stephanopoulos : “You went to Harvard Law School, you know very well …”

Romney: “Has the Supreme Court decided that the states do not have the right to ban contraception? [startling ignorance]”

Stephanopoulos: “Yes, they have. 1965. Griswold vs Connecticut.”

Romney then went on to a rambling non-answer about how Americans have the right to amend the Constitution, and that he favors amending it to ban same-sex marriage [an obvious, “ I-prefer-limes-in-my-drink response]. “But I know of no reason to talk about contraceptions…Contraception, it’s working just fine, just leave it alone" [non-answer].

Stephanopoulos: “Do you believe the Supreme Court should overturn it or not?”

Romney: “Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v Wade?” “Yes, I do.” [Not even limes any more...he jumps to Kumquats now…]

Kudos to Ron Paul at this point: Stephanopoulos posed the question to Paul, who succinctly answered that the 4th Amendment of Constitution's Bill of Rights includes a right to privacy in the home, and the Commerce Clause, regulating commerce among the states, overrides a states effort to prohibit goods, including contraception.

It really doesn’t matter to me how Perry reconciles his small-government philosophy with his state’s former anti-sodomy statute. Nor does Romney’s stance on Griswold vs. Connecticut matter to me. There is no conceivable way I would vote for either of them. But their failure to grasp basic constitutional law, and their inability – or refusal – to offer direct answers to the questions asked calls into question their fitness to be the Chief Executive branch official of the United States Government.


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Iowa Caucus Analysis: Romney Loses, Even as he Wins

The Republican Iowa caucuses are over, and 122,255 votes were recorded as follows:

Mitt Romney 30,015 (25%)
Rick Santorum 30,007 (25%)
Ron Paul 26,219 (21%)

Trailing behind these three were Newt Gingrich with 16,251 votes, Rick Perry with 12,604 votes, and Iowa native Michelle Bachmann with 6,073 votes.

In dividing their votes largely between Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul, caucus goers starkly represented the three philosophical ‘factions’ comprising the GOP, as well as age and income differences. Our conclusions from the votes and the exit polls:

Ron Paul won 50% of those in the 17-24 year old category, 45% of those in the 25-29 year old bracket, and 34% of 30-39 year olds. The younger the voter, the stronger the support for the messages of libertarianism and/or non-interventionism. Paul did well in all college towns.

He also won a majority of voters making under $30,000 annually by more than a 2:1 margin over all the other candidates, and won voters making less than $50,000 by a slim (2%) margin over Rick Santorum. He increased his win from only one county in 2008, to 18 in 2012, with his largest margin in Jefferson County (49%) – home of the Maharishi School of Management and center of Iowa’s peace-oriented Transcendental Meditation community.

Perhaps most importantly, Ron Paul won caucus-goers who were self-described independents, moderates, liberals, and first-time caucus-goers. Every national campaign knows that the battle for the Presidency is won by attracting the great ‘moderate middle,’ something neither Romney nor Santorum were able to do in Iowa.

Rick Santorum’s popularity exploded in the two weeks leading up to the caucus, and appeared to galvanize Iowa’s strong Evangelical Christian vote, winning many of the counties won by Mike Huckabee in 2008. He took the majority of those in the 40-64 year old age bracket, who often represent a more socially conservative, ‘family values’ voting bloc that has been ascendant in the GOP since the 1980s.

Santorum won over 61% of the vote in Lyon County, and won neighboring Sioux & O’Brien counties with more than 40%. These counties, in Iowa’s northwest corner, are some of the most conservative counties in Iowa, and are home to large, ‘Dominionist’ Reformed Churches that teach that government and laws should be structured on Biblical principles.

The biggest disappontment of the night was reserved for supporters of Mitt Romney – even though he won, statewide, by 8 votes.

Representing the old establishment blue-blood wing of the party, Romney won only one age group – seniors over age 65.

Four years ago, in the 2008 caucuses, Romney won 29,949 votes (25.2%) and took 24 counties. Last night, he won with 30,015 votes – also representing 25% of the vote cast. In other words, with four years and a supposed $10 million dollars of advertising under his belt, Romney was unable to expand his base even a tiny bit, increasing his vote by a mere 66 voters.

On the Iowan map (see bottom of post), it appears that the fact that he matched his performance four years ago was due largely to increased organization in a few key locations:

In the eastern part of the state, (which Romney won solidly in 2008 ) Romney lost 7 counties he won in 2008 to Ron Paul, and 1 to Rick Santorum, without picking up any new ones.

On the western border (the Missouri River counties), where Romney also did well in 2008, he lost 4 of the 7 he had won in 2008 to Rick Santorum, picking up only one new county.

It was in the middle of the state – particularly the growing Des Moines – West Des Moines area, where the GOP establishment organized for Romney - that Romney was to pick up 5 counties over 2008, while still losing one to Rick Santorum.

Make no mistake: Romney’s base is aging and shrinking. In spite of 4 years of campaigning, organizing, and spending, he was unable to expand his showing beyond his 2008 performance.

Perhaps Democratic operative James Carville said it best when describing voters attitudes towards Romney:

“It’s like trying to give a dog a pill. They keep spitting it out.”


Monday, January 02, 2012

Why Iowa IS Relevant

Are the Iowa caucuses “relevant?”

Yes. Perhaps now more than ever.

In the interminable weeks and marathon of debates leading up to tomorrow’s Iowa caucuses, pundits and media gurus have been raising the question as to whether the Iowa caucuses will be relevant “if they turn out wrong.” There is no doubt that Iowa Republicans are more likely to reflect agricultural interests and Evangelical Christian fervor than the rest of the nation; but over the last 30 years, the Republican Iowa caucuses have been an accurate snapshot of political temperament in America.

First, it has accurately reflected the mood of the national Republican Party.

In 1980, George H. W. Bush (32%) and Ronald Reagan (30%) virtually tied; libertarian-oriented Congressman Phil Crane took an additional 7% of the vote. The caucuses almost pre-ordained a Reagan-Bush ticket, and foreshadowed a growing conservative-libertarian bloc within the GOP.

In 1988 (Reagan was unopposed for his second term in 1984), the winner was Bob Dole(37%); televangelist Pat Robertson took second with 24%, and George H. W. Bush limped in at third place with 19%. Once again, Iowa taught an important lesson: while George H.W. Bush went on to win the nomination and the election against Democrat Mike Dukakis (in a record-low turnout year), Iowa signaled that Bush was headed for trouble, and would be limited to a one-term Presidency. At the same time, Robertson’s second place finish indicated the growing power of the religious right within the GOP.

In 1996, the winner was Bob Dole with 26%. He went on to win the Republican nomination that year.

In 2000, George W. Bush won with 41%. He went on to win the Republican nomination that year.

In 2008, Mike Huckabee won with 34% of the vote. This win reflected the continuing strength of social conservatives and the religious right in the GOP. The eventual winner of the nomination that year – John McCain – drew only 13% of the vote. His lackluster performance in Iowa found its fullest expression in the general election, when he was defeated by Barack Obama, losing formerly “safe” GOP states like North Carolina, Indiana, and Virginia. Interestingly, Mitt Romney took second place in Iowa that year (25%), foreshadowing his own strength this year.

Second, as a “swing state,’ it has been a bellwether in the national election.

Iowa has voted for the winning candidate in the general election in four out of five of the last Presidential elections, and 7 out of the last 10 Presidential elections. In other words, in recent years, it has become even more predictive of the national outcome. One can point to its racial makeup or economic base as 'unrepresentative,' but the objective facts are that Iowans laregly have their finger on the pulse of elections, rather than simply being a "red state" or a "blue state."

But lastly, the current ‘winnowing process’ that has resulted in a virtual three-way race between Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and a late-surging Rick Santorum, is an accurate reflection of the current makeup – and divisions – within the Republican Party.

On Jan 23, 2011 – just about a year ago – we published an analysis
of the tripartheid nature of the Republican Party as reflected in elections for leadership with the state of New Hampshire Republican Party. We wrote,

In the wake of yesterday's election of Jack Kimball over Juliana Bergeron as New Hampshire State Republican Chair, many news articles have attempted to present this as a battle between "two sides." And in America, we tend to simply battles into just two sides: Republicans vs. Democrats, Packers vs. Bears, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Toby Keith vs. The Dixie Chicks. But the reality behind the scenes is that the state GOP can be divided into at least three different factions, and the direction the party - and the State - will take is a function of how those coalitions come together - or fall apart - on individual issues.

In brief, the three main factions are The Establishment Yankees, The Theocrats, and the Libertarians

Nowhere have three factions become as starkly clear as in Iowa in the last week.

Mitt Romney is the clear establishment favorite: The son of former Michigan Governor George W. Romney, he holds a joint Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard. He was the co-founder and head of Bain Capital, a highly profitable private equity investment firm. With the possible exception of Jon Huntsman, Romney represents the Republican Establishment Blue-Blood tradition.

Ron Paul, a twelve-term Congressman from Texas, is perhaps the single most recognizable voice in the libertarian wing of the GOP. Consistently voicing libertarian positions, Paul often votes against his Republican colleagues on issues involving civil liberties, militarism, and spending. In 1988, he ran for President on the Libertarian Party ticket; He was one of only 66 Congressmen (out of 435) to oppose the original Patriot Act, and one of 26 Republicans to oppose its extension this past year. A veteran, he alone among the Republicans has opposed sanctions on Iran and has called for significant slashing of America’s international military budget.

Rick Santorum represents the clearest and most extreme personification of theocracy in the United States. A strident evangelical Christian, Santorum is actively seeking to galvanize Iowa’s Pat Roberston voters as he openly campaigns on behalf of a “Christian America,” vowing this past week to invalidate all same-sex marriage that have already taken place, and winning endorsements from Bob Vander Plaats, Chief Executive of the Family Leader, and Chuck Hurley, President of the Iowa Family Policy Centre. In an overture to the Second-Coming crowd, he vowed a direct military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

In the last week, the media have used the words “irrelevant,” “overhyped,” and “unrepresentative” in describing Iowa and it’s voters. They have used all sorts of facts and figures about race and religion to try and prove their point. They also question what an unexpected (or “undesirable”) outcome could mean.

But in spite of their nay-saying, the three front-runners - Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum – are an entirely accurate representation of the elements of the current schizoid Republican Party, and the results of the Iowa caucuses for the last thirty years have been highly predictive of the American political mood.

Iowa *is* relevant.