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Meanwhile, in Jesusland....


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #100 on: October 23, 2014, 07:54:09 pm »


from The Los Angeles Times....

FDR could not have survived the scrutiny media gave Gary Hart

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Wednesday, September 24, 2014



ONE chilly winter evening in 1988, I was the lone journalist among a small clump of voters gathered inside an old meeting hall in Manchester, New Hampshire. I was there, mostly out of curiosity, to witness the spectacle of a man desperately clinging to a shattered dream. The dream was the presidency. The man was Gary Hart.

Hart had once been sure it was his destiny to be president of the United States. The previous spring — perhaps convinced of his own inevitability and invulnerability and only weeks after declaring his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination — Hart had taken a ride to Bimini on a yacht called Monkey Business accompanied by a lovely young blond model named Donna Rice. Subsequently tipped off about Hart’s boat party with a woman who wasn’t his wife, reporters from the Miami Herald staked out Hart’s home in Washington, D.C., saw Hart there with Rice and confronted the candidate.

The Herald published a 7,000-word expose. A week later, Hart withdrew from the race and headed to Ireland to escape media scrutiny. By December, though, he had changed course and resumed his campaign. Before the scandal hit, Hart had been leading all Democratic contenders and was 13 percentage points ahead of the likely Republican nominee, Vice President George H.W. Bush. The night I saw him in Manchester, he was being ignored by the media and shunned by voters. He ended up with a mere 4% of the vote in the New Hampshire primary and the winner, Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, went on to take the nomination and get beaten by Bush.

I felt pity for Hart as I watched and listened to him speak that night. How humiliating it must be, I thought, for a man to have his private indiscretions laid bare to the world, to have his life’s ambition crumble in an instant and then to press on in a quixotic, embarrassing effort to get it all back. At the same time, though, I was impressed by what Hart had to say; how much more depth and intelligence he brought to the issues than any of the other candidates. Given the opportunity, he might have been a very good president.

In polls at the time, more than half of voters said infidelity should not disqualify a person from being commander in chief. In the next decade, Bill Clinton proved a president could not only survive a sex scandal but could end up as one of the country’s most popular politicians. But Clinton seems to be the exception. Since Hart, numerous men in politics have humiliated themselves and wrecked their public careers by betraying their wives with other women. Voters have generally not been especially forgiving.

Of course, complicated relationships and dangerous liaisons are not rare. Most marriages hit rocky periods and many married partners learn, grow, forgive and survive as a couple. Hart and his wife, Lee, are an example, having now been married for half a century. Donna Rice is far in their past, but so is the dream of the presidency.

On Sunday, in the New York Times Magazine, reporter Matt Bai looked back at the Hart episode and made the argument that it marked a shift in how the press covered presidential candidates. Where in the past — think John F. Kennedy — the press had been complicit in keeping the private lives of politicians private, after Hart, reporters have obsessed about personal flaws and paid much less attention to policy. Bai says this has forever changed politics, turning reporters into scandal chasers and candidates into hyper-cautious mannequins.

Some commentators are taking exception to Bai’s contentions and they point to Clinton as the obvious example of a smart policy wonk who won two terms in the White House despite media fascination with his randy sexual proclivities. Still, it cannot be disputed that the political world is different than it once was.

In a long-gone era, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had some big secrets that could have wrecked his political career. The unrevealed scope of his polio disability was one, of course, but just as significant was the complex architecture of his marriage, including the women close to him who were, to a significant extent, surrogate wives. This was a big, untold story. If the public had known, it seems unlikely FDR would ever have become president. And, instead of having this extraordinary man in the White House through 12 of America’s most perilous years, the nation could have been led by men in the mold of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover — men with greater moral rectitude and placid marriages but parsimonious, niggling hearts.

On balance, full disclosure is a good thing. It weeds out plenty of creeps. Still, one wonders if, now and then, we sideline potentially great leaders when we learn too much about their fallible humanity before they have a chance to be great.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-fdr-gary-hart-20140923-story.html
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« Reply #101 on: October 23, 2014, 07:54:29 pm »


from The Los Angeles Times....

Holder's enemies may cheer, but he is far from gone

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Friday, September 26, 2014



THE announcement of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s impending resignation has lightened the scheming hearts of Republican governors and legislators who resent his interference with their attempts to curtail the voting power of African Americans. It has cheered those who think the country’s first black attorney general got too darn uppity when he called Americans “cowards” when it comes to talking about race. And it has kicked up a storm on Twitter among euphoric GOP congressmen and bewildered citizens who wonder what will happen to Holder’s investigation into policing in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Good riddance Eric Holder,” tweeted Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, echoing the common GOP sentiment. “Your disregard of the Constitution of the United States will not be missed.”

Representative Darrell Issa of California, who has a knack for injecting politics into just about any deliberation, ironically tweeted, “By needlessly injecting politics into law enforcement, Holder’s legacy has eroded more confidence in our legal system than any AG before him.” (Issa seems to have overlooked a guy back in Watergate days named John Mitchell, the ex-attorney general who actually did time in prison.)

Meanwhile, folks who were expecting Holder to dig into the circumstances surrounding the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson seem disappointed and suspicious.

A guy with the Twitter moniker “BOSSYhope and change” tweeted, “#ferguson why did Holder give up? I thought he was down for the fight. Whatup?”

Some said they suspected some wicked forces at work. “For Eric Holder to resign during the Ferguson investigation and ISIS war it had to be something ‘Scandal’ bad,” one person tweeted, while another said, “Seems like he’s getting out before the fuse blows.”

Well, happy, sad or confused, everyone should slow down just a bit. Holder is not gone, yet, and the word from the Justice Department is that he will remain engaged with the Ferguson situation for as long as he is in office — which could be a long time.

At the White House ceremony where the departure was announced, President Obama said Holder had agreed to stay until his successor is confirmed by the Senate. Given that for six years Holder has been target No.2 — after the president himself — for partisan attacks from Republicans, confirmation hearings for just about any replacement will be contentious.

The nominee will be asked to distance himself or herself from Holder’s policies, and when that does not happen (this person will be a pro-civil rights liberal, no doubt), the torches and pitchforks will come out all over Red State America. GOP senators will have no motivation to move the confirmation along quickly when so many ripe opportunities for scoring political points will be at hand.

This dynamic will only become more powerful if Republicans take control of the Senate in the fall elections. If that happens, count on a three-ring confirmation circus beginning early next year and playing out for months.

Eric Holder is far from out the door.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-holders-far-from-gone-20140926-story.html
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« Reply #102 on: October 23, 2014, 07:54:49 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Easy prediction: 2014 elections will merely renew gridlock

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Tuesday, September 30, 2014



AMERICANS are about to dive into the deep end of the 2014 congressional elections, and the pool is filled with odoriferous muck. Nothing new about that. Most campaigns these days are slimy affairs, but at least they sometimes bring positive change. This will not be one of those times.

After the vote on November 4th, Congress will still be drowning in the same partisan gridlock that has kept it from seriously addressing any of the crises facing the nation since the 2010 congressional elections. It might be reassuring to think that, in our Great Democracy, anything can happen, and we might all be pleasantly surprised to find we’ve elected a bunch of statesmen who are eager to work together for the good of the country. It would also be nice to discover the glaciers aren’t melting, or that there are millions of new, good-paying middle-class jobs, or that radical Islamists are becoming as docile as Presbyterians.

None of those nice things is going to happen anytime soon, if ever. Nor will there be a miracle on election day.

Instead, Republicans will retain control of the House of Representatives and possibly gain a few seats. There are several structural reasons this result is pretty much guaranteed. Gerrymandering by GOP legislatures is a small but significant factor; the over-concentration of Democratic voters in cities is a bigger one. This is also an election year that does not seem to be firing up either conservatives or liberals in a way that would endanger many incumbents. Add to that the minuscule number of true swing districts and there is not even a remote possibility of sweeping change in the House this year.

In the Senate, there are still electoral question marks. A small batch of races appear to be so tight that predicting which party finally wins control of the upper house is like guessing if a fruit fly will turn right or left. Still, it appears Democrats have the steeper climb to retain their Senate majority. In Louisiana, for instance, Democratic incumbent Mary L. Landrieu is ahead of her Republican opponent, but only because right-wing votes are being siphoned off to an independent Tea Party candidate. Landrieu is at 43% in polls today, and if she does not get 50% of the vote in November, she will be forced into a top-two runoff in December. Landrieu would likely lose that second round because she would be facing a reunited conservative vote.

The greater point, though, is that none of this matters all that much. Yes, President Obama would be more politically isolated without a Democratic majority in the Senate, but it is already nearly impossible to pass any administration-backed bill because Democrats do not have enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. And as we have seen for four years, even if Obama-friendly legislation squeaks by conservatives in the Senate, it is bound to die a lonely death in the GOP House.

If Republicans control both houses of Congress, they would not be able to implement their own plans any more easily than Obama has done. They would face filibustering Democrats in the Senate and a president with a veto pen.

We are dealing with a very different political system than we once had. The evolution of Republicans and Democrats from two broadly based parties built on coalitions of disparate groups to two political parties that are far more ideologically pure has made compromise and accommodation difficult. And the roughly 50-50 split in the electorate has lessened the chance either party can dominate government long enough to get a coherent package of policies in place.

Until something changes, until one side or the other wins both Congress and the White House, there is only one thing for sure that will happen in Washington and that is nothing.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-2014-elections-renew-gridlock-20140929-story.html
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« Reply #103 on: October 23, 2014, 07:55:07 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

White House guard is down: Are Secret Service agents bored?

By DAVID HORSEY | 1:06PM PDT - Thursday, October 02, 2014



SECRET SERVICE agents should go to the movies more often. At least since the 1996 sci-fi film, “Independence Day”, in which an alien spaceship the size of Los Angeles incinerates the White House, attacks on the lovely old executive mansion have been a recurring cinematic theme.

Last year, two movies with remarkably similar plots featured lone men saving the president and what was left of his official home. In “White House Down”, the hero is a Washington, D.C., cop with aspirations to be a Secret Service agent who fights off a band of domestic terrorists. In “Olympus Has Fallen”, the hero is a desk-bound Secret Service agent who battles a horde of nasty North Koreans. In both films, the villains employ an arsenal of weapons and elaborate tactics to gain entrance to the White House.

Who knew that all they really needed to do was jump the fence and walk through the unlocked front door?

On Wednesday, the director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, turned in her resignation following revelations of several security breaches at the White House and on presidential outings. She quit just a day after being grilled by the always-cinematic Darrell Issa and a supporting cast on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The California Republican and committee chairman wanted to know how Omar Gonzalez, a troubled Army veteran with a knife, got past rings of security and into the Green Room on the first floor of the White House before he was tackled by Secret Service agents.

“An intruder walked in the front door of the White House,” Issa said before hazing Pierson. “That is amazing — and unacceptable.”

Another committee Republican, Utah’s Jason Chaffetz, wanted to know why agents did not simply shoot the guy while he was still outside the mansion. The congressman was frustrated by Pierson’s clinical answers to questions about when agents are authorized to use force. He insisted that the rule should be clear to both agents and would-be invaders: “You make a run and a dash at the White House, we’re going to take you down.”

Both Issa and Chaffetz criticized the agency for lauding the “tremendous restraint” exhibited by the agents who chased the intruder. Clearly, they would prefer Secret Service agents to be more like Channing Tatum and Gerard Butler, the bold, trigger-squeezing action stars of the White House attack movies.

Maybe the response would have been different had the First Family been in residence at the time of the intrusion. Still, the manner in which Gonzalez was taken down is not as troubling as the ease with which he got as far as he did.

I have walked past the White House many times — from my first visit there as a student in the 1970s, when cars could still drive past on Pennsylvania Avenue, through the year I spent working in a newspaper office a block away in the 1990s. I never failed to pause and take a long look at the house and always felt pride that, even in this dangerous world, a close view of the home of the president of the United States remains available to every citizen, even those who come to protest right outside the gate. But I also always assumed that there must be elaborate, unseen security systems in place that would kick in as soon as anyone tried to clamber over the fence.

Apparently, those defenses are more porous than I imagined. Could the problem be simple boredom?

As recent reports indicate, the instincts of airline pilots have become dulled and rusty as the tasks of flying have gotten more and more automated. This has led to dangerous pilot errors in emergency situations. Secret Service agents are not on autopilot, but they spend weeks and months on duty without anything happening that is more alarming than a screaming child on a White House tour. After awhile, the tedium must begin to feel endless. It is no surprise they let their guard down.

And that’s when some nut case jumps the fence and invites himself in.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-secret-service-20141002-story.html
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« Reply #104 on: October 23, 2014, 07:55:26 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Same-sex marriage comes to America's ‘Brokeback’ states

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Wednesday, October 08, 2014



MARRIAGE is coming to Brokeback Mountain. Because the U.S. Supreme Court has declined a review of federal appeals court rulings that have struck down same-sex-marriage prohibitions in five states, wedding bells will be ringing for gays and lesbians in some of the reddest of red states.

Up to this point, same-sex unions have been legalized only on the West Coast, Hawaii, the Northeast and parts of the upper Midwest. After Monday’s Supreme Court action, though, those Democratic Party strongholds are being joined by five not-so-liberal states — Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, Virginia and Wisconsin. And other court decisions pending in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina are now expected to go against defenders of traditional, man-and-woman marriage.

Soon, three-fifths of the states will have stepped into the new frontier of marriage equality, either through ballot initiatives, legislative action or court rulings. Once partners of the same gender start getting married in Oklahoma, can Texas, Alabama and Mississippi be far behind?

Well, yes, they can be. They will kick and scream and complain and resist, but it now appears inevitable that one day soon, same-sex marriage will be legal from sea to shining sea.

Though gay-rights partisans are happy about the big boost to their cause, some complain that the high court is evading the marriage issue. Rather than simply letting the lower court rulings stand, the justices could have ratified those decisions themselves and settled the marriage equality issue for the entire country. Why not just do it, critics of the court say, since the tipping point seems to have been reached with 30 states opening up to same-sex unions?

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, told an audience in Minneapolis on Tuesday that, if the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds same-sex-marriage prohibitions in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, that would put the 6th Circuit at odds with the other appeals courts and she and her colleagues would be forced to step in. If the lower court lifts the bans in those states, however, Ginsberg said there would be “no need for us to rush.”

Ginsberg is said to be convinced that, even on an issue in which she strongly believes — she recently officiated at a friend’s same-sex wedding — there is virtue in taking time so that a national consensus can evolve. Such was not the case when the court legalized abortion, and the debate over that issue still rages. If marriage equality arrives state by state, rather than by a ruling from the politically divided Supreme Court, Ginsberg reasons it will be better for the country.

Gay and lesbian couples living in laggard states who are forced to wait a few more years before they tie the knot may not agree with Ginsberg’s reasoning, but I am swayed. A little more patience can buy acceptance — and permanence.

In the meantime, think of the hope all these changes would have brought to the two doomed and love-struck Wyoming cowboys in “Brokeback Mountain”. America has come a long way very quickly on gay rights, and it is bringing the United States closer to its founding ideals. As cowboy tunesmith Garth Brooks sings, “When we’re free to love anyone we choose ... we shall be free.”


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-brokeback-states-20141008-post.html
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« Reply #105 on: October 23, 2014, 08:45:02 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Is Leon Panetta's slam of Obama a boost for Hillary?

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Thursday, October 16, 2014



DID Leon Panetta really conspire with Bill and Hillary Clinton to undermine Barack Obama by writing a memoir that slams the president’s leadership skills and foreign policy acumen? That’s what political strategist Dick Morris claims.

“I think Hillary put him up to it,” Morris said in a recent interview on a radio talk show in New York.

As the man who famously allowed a call girl to listen in on his conversations with President Clinton back in the 1990s when he was a White House political advisor, Morris is an expert on this kind of inside-the-Beltway intrigue. He notoriously wrote a damning tell-all book about the Clintons after his relationship with the prostitute became public and he was expelled from the president’s inner circle.

Now, Panetta, who served as Obama’s secretary of Defense and CIA director, has written his own revealing book, “Worthy Fights”. While not as sensational as the Clinton book Morris penned, Panetta's volume does not make his ex-boss look good. Morris seems to have no doubt about why Panetta chose to critique the inner workings of the administration at this particular moment, rather than waiting until Obama leaves office.

“What Panetta is doing is a hit — a contract killing — for Hillary,” Morris said. “Panetta at core is a Clinton person, not an Obama person. By accurately and truthfully describing the deliberations in the [Obama] Cabinet, he makes Hillary look better, and he makes Obama look worse... And I think he’ll get his reward in heaven.”

Heaven, of course, would be a Clinton restoration in 2016. Obama’s current low popularity and alleged weakness on foreign policy could be a drag on Hillary’s expected presidential campaign. The current conventional wisdom in the pundit class, a view that Morris spins to its most extreme, is that the Clinton camp wants to put a lot of distance between Barack and Hillary.

If true — and it probably is — Clinton is hardly the only Democrat running away from the president. In the current congressional campaign, Democratic candidates across the country have been disassociating themselves from Obama. A prime example is Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state who is running to topple Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from his Senate seat. Grimes has twisted herself in knots to avoid saying she ever voted for Obama, and she would probably go into hiding were the president to visit Kentucky to campaign on her behalf. But Wednesday, Grimes was perfectly happy to share a stage with Hillary Clinton who flew in to stump for her. The two of them joined raised hands and grinned for the cameras as if they were running mates.

Centrist Democrats, such as Panetta and both Clintons, who are nearly as hawkish on defense and foreign policy as Republican neo-cons, believe Obama’s rush to get out of Iraq was a mistake. In his book, Panetta echoes the same charge against the president as that made by conservatives — that he should have worked harder to force the Iraqi government to allow the U.S. military to retain a presence in Iraq. The total withdrawal of American forces, Panetta says, created a power vacuum that has been filled by the marauding battalions of Islamic State.

Pushing his book last Sunday on the CBS news show “Face the Nation”, Panetta said the U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State militants will not be enough to roll them back. Only “boots on the ground” can do that, the ex-defense and CIA chief said, and Obama is wrong to foreclose the possibility that those boots will be worn by Americans.

"I don't mind presidents who have the quality of a law professor in looking at the issues and determining just exactly, you know, what needs to be done,” Panetta said. “But presidents need to also have the heart of a warrior. That's the way you get things done, is you engage in the fight.”

I’m not nearly as cynical as Dick Morris, so I do not think Panetta is writing and saying these damaging things about Obama because the Clintons put him up to it. Still, he is quite effectively opening the way for Hillary to become the candidate with a warrior’s heart. This is tricky business for Democrats, though, because, no matter how much it may help a Clinton campaign in 2016, Panetta is presenting a case that could be a winning argument for plenty of Republican candidates this November.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-panettas-slam-20141016-story.html
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« Reply #106 on: October 23, 2014, 10:12:59 pm »

Yup..seen it a week or 2 ago....all these posts are like groundhog day...are you suffering from memory loss??
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« Reply #107 on: October 23, 2014, 10:47:32 pm »


Jesus H faaaarking Christ, you're THICK!! 

I really fear for NZ's collective IQ when you return, although the Aussies will be rejoicing to get rid of a dumbfuck like you.

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« Reply #108 on: October 24, 2014, 03:27:59 am »


from the Los Angeles Times....

From Ebola to Canada shooting, bad news is helping the GOP

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Thursday, October 23, 2014



EBOLA, the shooting at the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, American kids running off to join Islamic State, lunatics jumping the White House fence, racial protests in Ferguson, Missouri — there is a long list of things making American voters uneasy as election day approaches. And when voters get rattled, they tend to vote against the people in power.

More precisely, all the troubling stuff gets blamed on the guy in the White House, whether that is fair and justified or not. As a result, we have the current political spectacle of Republican candidates for the House and Senate trying to make the campaign a referendum on Barack Obama. And, while they run against Obama, Democratic candidates are racing away from Obama, like Wile E. Coyote running from a lighted stick of dynamite.

This tactical abandonment of the president does not seem to be doing Democrats much good, though. It’s hard not to look like a weasel when you forsake the head of your party. Anti-Obama voters are more likely to think you are lying or fickle than to see you as principled and independent.

Maybe a Democratic candidate would not fare any better by standing tall and defending the Democratic president and Democratic ideals and accomplishments, but at least he or she would go down fighting instead of being remembered as someone who would do anything to hang on to a cushy job in Congress.

There are still quite a few close Senate races, but the latest polls indicate that momentum is slightly favoring Republicans. Some of this drift to the GOP must be driven by the weird news. It seems as if no one has a handle on things, whether it is a scary disease imported from Africa or security at the White House. The Republican Party has spent years perfecting the game of playing on people’s fears and that useful skill seems to be made for these disturbing times.

Democrats are offering an echo, not a choice, at least in the red states where all the tight races are located. Democratic candidates are, more often than not, trying to sound like Republicans on issues such as guns and energy and getting tough with terrorists. Very likely, some high-paid political consultant has guaranteed them that is the way to win, but when the Democrat essentially concedes that the Republican position is right on so many hot-button items, it should not be surprising that a majority of voters might decide to go for the real deal and cast a ballot for the Republican.

The president could be in for a frustrating finale to his two terms in office. If the GOP captures the Senate, Obama will not be just a lame duck, he will be a cooked goose.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-bad-news-helping-gop-20141023-story.html
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« Reply #109 on: October 25, 2014, 12:36:36 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Red state Democrats parrot Republicans at their peril

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Friday, October 24, 2014



HOW'S this for a profile in courage? The Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, Michelle Nunn, has boldly confessed that she voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. What an amazing thing — a Democrat admitting she voted for the Democratic presidential candidate.

In a sane world, this should hardly seem a remarkable occurrence. I am hard pressed to remember a time since 1964 when Republican candidates for office were being forced to distance themselves from a Republican presidential candidate. But in some states this year, any association with Barack Obama is considered toxic, even for members of his party.

In Kentucky, as I have noted before, Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who many thought had a chance to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has made a fool of herself by refusing to say which presidential candidate she backed in 2012. Grimes’ inane excuse — ballots are supposed to be secret, she insists — has made her look disingenuous and weak. Kentucky Democrats will now cast ballots for her with embarrassment, rather than pride, and independent voters will have gotten the message that she cannot be trusted to speak with candor and conviction.

This is part of a pattern that too many Democrats have followed for six years. In 2010, after passing the landmark healthcare legislation that came to be known as Obamacare, Democrats took cover in the face of the rampaging Tea Party instead of defending their accomplishment. The result: Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives.

This year, with Obamacare locked into the American system and proving to be more popular and less costly than many might have imagined at the program’s fumbled inception, are Democrats boasting? Not in the battleground states. There, if healthcare is mentioned at all, candidates on the D side babble about how they plan to fix it and reform it.

This plays perfectly into the Republican narrative that the Affordable Care Act is a disastrous corruption of American healthcare that, in Mitch McConnell’s words, must be torn out “root and branch”. McConnell and every other Republican who is not totally deluded knows that is not going to happen. Obamacare is too popular to be killed, just as they feared it would be. But, for campaign purposes — rallying the conservative troops and putting Democrats on the defensive — preaching the evils of Obamacare is still an effective tactic. This is true, in part, because too many Democrats — even a Democrat like Grimes who is running in a state where Obamacare has been a big success — cede the storyline to the GOP.

Republicans may not know how to appeal to young people, blacks, Latinos or single women, and their base may be shrinking, but they still control the terms of debate in this country. They and their compatriots in the conservative media have molded and marketed a version of reality in which government is always wrong, guns are at risk of confiscation, the federal budget is out of control, poor people are living high off the tax dollars of the middle class, corporations are being crushed by regulation, Mexicans are flooding the southern border and terrorists are running wild while the president cowers under his desk.

Each one of those points is either a complete falsehood or, at the very least, highly debatable. Rather than engaging in a debate, however, Democrats in competitive congressional districts and senate contests in red-leaning states choose to buy into the Republican narrative.

Yes, in a campaign it is hard to present a case that contradicts the fantasies that pervade the right wing media and get lodged in voters’ brains, but, with so many Republicans running on a string of falsehoods, it would be nice to see more Democrats speaking up for a fact-based version of reality.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-red-state-democrats-20141023-story.html
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« Reply #110 on: October 29, 2014, 10:44:11 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

The fate of America is in the hands of inattentive voters

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Wednesday, October 28, 2014



WITH election day just one week away, the fate of the nation — or at least control of the U.S. Senate — may rest in the hands of independent-minded voters, with the phrase “independent-minded” being a euphemism for oblivious.

Most of the people who actually pay attention to elections made up their minds about how they would vote long ago. That is because those people who are most intensely engaged with politics strongly favor one side or the other, just like they favor either Fox News or MSNBC.

Typical swing voters, on the other hand, more likely spend their time glued to ESPN or E! while occasionally drifting to CNN when there has been a mysterious plane crash or really nasty weather somewhere in the world. For a lot of them, news of the impending election comes as a big surprise.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties are pouring money into major get-out-the-vote efforts because, with many states and the country as a whole so closely split politically, turnout will be the deciding factor in several major races. Senate contests in Alaska, Iowa, Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and New Hampshire could go either way and how they go will decide whether President Obama should try to get any legislation passed or go golfing for the next two years.

We live in a compartmentalized society. Where once everyone read the same newspapers and watched the same TV news, now many Americans sequester themselves in ideological media bubbles that reinforce their biases. Those are the folks who routinely vote. For the rest, there are a thousand different ways to elude information about current events. The political parties are desperate to grab the attention of a few of those tuned-out folks and get them to complete a mail-in ballot or crawl off the couch long enough to drive to a polling place.

If one is a staunch Republican or Democrat, this has to be a bit demoralizing. You already assume that everyone voting against your side is an idiot, if not a traitor, and now you realize the fate of your cause rests in the hands of a few inattentive independents who, at best, are dumb enough to be swayed by a barrage of mendacious attack ads.

Winston Churchill famously said that “democracy is the worst form of government, except all those others that have been tried.” Those “others” rely on the dubious wisdom of a lone despot or a ruling elite. Democracy relies on the wisdom of the people, which is its strength, but also its biggest weakness if the people are too busy tweeting, texting, gaming and channel surfing to pay attention.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-inattentive-voters-20141028-story.html
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« Reply #111 on: October 31, 2014, 12:43:43 am »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Chevron funds brazen campaign to buy a city government

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Thursday, October 29, 2014



FANS of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling should be thrilled by all the corporate cash and billionaires' big donations being thrown around in campaigns this year. Fans of democracy, though, probably feel a bit less enthusiastic, not only because spending by interest-group super PACs is hitting record highs all across the nation, but because of the way some of that money is employed to create an extreme imbalance between contending sides.

This year’s top prize for brazen conduct by a giant corporation in the political sphere should probably go to Chevron. This is a multinational company that, according to a Los Angeles Times report, is bigger than General Motors or Apple and took in nearly $58 billion in revenue during the second quarter of this year. Chevron has funneled a generous chunk of money to Republican campaign committees and individual candidates, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and wrote a million-dollar check to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a conservative PAC.

But backing pro-business conservatives hardly constitutes extraordinary conduct on the part of a corporation. Chevron’s brazenness has been manifested in the local politics of the Bay Area city of Richmond, where Chevron has been refining oil for a century. In 2012, a fire at the refinery sent noxious smoke into the air that sickened thousands of Richmond residents. Chevron paid a fine, but the Richmond City Council did not think that was enough. This was the third refinery fire since 1989, a period during which there had also been 14 toxic gas releases from the Chevron facility, according to city officials.

The city took Chevron to court seeking to force the company to improve safety procedures and oversight. Corporate leaders were not pleased and, in response, Chevron decided to back a slate of candidates for mayor and city council to replace the people who have dared to challenge the way the company does business in Richmond. Chevron’s chosen candidate for mayor has benefited from more than $1.4 million that the corporation has spent on his behalf while his opponent is trying to compete with a mere $40,000 in campaign funds. Chevron’s total spending in these local races is reported to be around $3 million.

Chevron’s big bucks have paid for TV attack ads, purchased space on virtually every billboard in town, funded a flood of mailers, financed a “news” website run by a Chevron employee and backed push polls all aimed at disparaging Chevron’s adversaries and electing a more pliable, less litigious group of city officials.

According to a recent report by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, when a local group calling itself Richmond Working Families began to organize to counter Chevron’s campaign, the company set up a puppet committee with virtually the same name, Richmond Working Families for Jobs 2014, and bought rights to the URL “RichmondWorkingFamilies.com”.

This goes far beyond a simple donation to a candidate or a cause. In Richmond, Chevron’s money is drowning out any opposing voice. During a visit to the city, Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said, “We are not living in a democracy when giant corporations like Chevron can buy local governments.”

But can we be surprised? Buying local governments is the logical next step for big corporations and wealthy individuals who are free to spend as much as they want to get whatever they want. Arguably, big business has already done a pretty good job of buying most of the United States Congress, so why shouldn’t Chevron buy a mayor and a few council members in a town the company treats like its private plantation?


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-chevron-brazen-campaign-20141029-story.html
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« Reply #112 on: October 31, 2014, 07:25:40 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Voting fraud frenzy threatens a core American liberty

By DAVID HORSEY | 2:00PM PDT - Thursday, October 30, 2014



VOTING FRAUD is an issue that has generated a great deal of heat and very little light on the right. Fox News host Megyn Kelly recently had to backtrack from her report that voters in Colorado were being allowed to print out ballots at home and admit that was simply not true. But that did not stop her, or her compatriots in the conservative media, from continuing to whip up fear about elections being stolen by hordes of fake voters.

Does fraudulent voting occur? Of course it does. Mostly, though, it happens in local elections where some crooked official stuffs ballot boxes with bogus ballots. These days, this is very rare. Even more rare is some individual showing up to vote who is not eligible to exercise that right. Under President George W. Bush, the Justice Department conducted a five-year study of voter fraud. In the end, the study found just 38 violations that could be taken to court. Only one of those cases involved someone impersonating a real voter.

There are already plenty of laws against all kinds of voter fraud. But Republican legislatures and governors in several states have been on a crusade to weed out illegal voting by passing a range of restrictions justified primarily by “impersonation fraud” — the kind of fraud that is so rare that examples are extremely hard to find. A mere 10 cases of voting fraud have been reported over the last five years in each of the states of Texas, South Carolina, Kansas and Tennessee, yet those states have toughened up voter identification rules.

When states dig a little deeper into charges of individuals voting when they shouldn’t, they usually find there has been a clerical error or a problem with public records (as South Carolina discovered when investigating an erroneous claim that 900 dead people had voted in recent elections).

Do the laws being pushed to remedy voting problems do anything to clean up bad record keeping? Nope. Instead, the new laws simply make it harder to vote. They curtail voter registration campaigns and early voting. Those are steps that do very little about fraud, but do discourage working people, minorities and young people from voting.

Democrats make the argument that all the noise about voting fraud is simply a distraction to hide what Republicans are really doing: voter suppression. The biggest point of contention is the GOP’s push for all voters to have valid IDs when they show up at the polls. Although most of us have a driver’s license or some other form of government-issued ID, not everyone does, and a big proportion of those folks without official IDs are poor and non-whites — not exactly the Republican base.

The central principle that gets obscured in this debate and that should be of key concern to libertarians on both the left and right is that voting is the core liberty guaranteed to every American by the Constitution. Any restrictions on voting should be scrutinized with at least as much skepticism as the NRA brings to even the slightest curtailment of the right to keep and bear arms.

There should be more opportunities to vote, not fewer. There should be more people voting, not fewer. And, because this is a sacred right, we should make sure that only people who are eligible get to vote. But, in too many states, the voting restrictions being imposed are not actually protecting the right to vote, they are trying to ensure that only the right kind of people vote.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-voting-fraud-frenzy-20141030-story.html
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« Reply #113 on: November 05, 2014, 12:18:43 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Election 2014: Voice of the people is muzzled by political realities

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Tuesday, November 04, 2014



SOMETIME this evening, when most of the votes have been counted, someone will utter the words, “The American people have spoken,” and everyone will pretend that it is true. Reality, though, is a bit more complicated because, when it comes to congressional elections, most voters are only screaming from the sidelines, not playing in the game.

I’m not talking merely about those who choose not to vote, I’m talking about the vast majority of Americans who live in congressional districts where their vote does not count for much because either Democrats or Republicans are so dominant that there is little doubt about who the winner will be. Their choices have been foreordained by the legislators or redistricting commissioners who drew the district lines.

In some states, the way the lines get drawn has such a skewed effect that the will of the people gets subverted. In the 2012 election, for example, Republicans won barely more than 50% of the total votes cast in House races in Ohio, but they took 12 of the state’s 16 congressional seats. The same phenomenon happened in Pennsylvania, where votes were split almost evenly between parties, but the GOP walked away with 13 of the state’s 18 House seats. In North Carolina, where Democrats cast the most total votes, Republicans still won nine seats to Democrats’ four.

As outrageous as it may be, gerrymandering is hardly the only element that distorts the people’s voice. As Ezra Klein details in a smart, clinical analysis at Vox.com, midterm elections have underlying dynamics that dictate results occasionally at odds with the inclinations of a majority of voters. Klein points to a Pew Research Center poll that indicates Americans have a distinctly more negative view of the Republican Party than of the Democrats. Nevertheless, Republicans are certain to hang on to, and even increase, their House majority in today’s election and are very likely to take control of the U.S. Senate.

Why? Well, not because a majority of the American people want to give Republicans a big mandate. Instead, the GOP is likely to have a good night because Democrats are defending 21 Senate seats while Republicans are defending only 15. Among the Democratic senators are several who were swept into office by the unusually strong progressive tide that lifted Barack Obama into the White House in 2008. Now, with Obama’s popularity low and Democratic voters less inclined to show up to vote, those senators are in trouble.

And that leads to the core dynamic that has created an electoral swing between the two parties every two years. Republican voters are older and whiter than the general populace, and older white folk are much more likely to vote in midterm elections than the younger, browner Democratic base that seems to only get politically engaged in presidential election years.

As likely as Republicans are to win the Senate this year, Democrats will be just as likely to take control back in 2016 when the GOP will be defending many more positions and the electorate will lean Democratic. Neither now nor then should either party pretend to have gotten a mandate from the American people (barring a surprise landslide that dramatically favors one side or the other), but, of course, the winners will act as if they had been crowned kings.

Yes, in each election the people speak, but their voice is usually too muffled by structural impediments, low enthusiasm and mixed messages for any party to honestly claim the people have spoken just for them.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-voice-of-the-people-20141103-story.html
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« Reply #114 on: November 06, 2014, 11:38:50 am »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Obama's veto is the only weapon defeated Democrats have left

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Wednesday, November 05, 2014



EARLY in the evening on election night, nervous Democrats might have found solace in the fact that, even with all the advantages Republicans had going into the 2014 campaign — the conservative bent of midterm voters, gerrymandered House districts, a lopsided number of shaky Democratic U.S. Senate seats in play — most of the major races were too close to call. There seemed to be a real possibility those contests could fall their way.

That ray of hope disappeared as the night wore on. Almost all the tight races went to Republicans, and what had been predicted to be a bad night for Democrats turned into something approaching disaster.

Republicans took control of the Senate, not only winning nearly all of the most hotly contested races, but coming very close to stealing a seat in Virginia from Senator Mark Warner that Democrats had considered a sure bet. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell had a fabulous night; he crushed his Democratic opponent and went to bed facing the happy prospect of becoming the next majority leader in the Senate.

Republicans increased their numbers in the House of Representatives, building up such a commanding majority that it is unlikely to be undone for many election cycles to come. Democrats may hang on to the White House in the 2016 election, but the agenda of the next Democratic president will be blocked by a Republican House in 2017 and beyond.

Perhaps the worst news for Democrats was how badly they fared in governors’ races in states where Democrats are not supposed to lose, places like Maryland and much of New England. One of the only bright spots for the Democrats was New Hampshire, where they were able to re-elect both a governor and a senator.

When Barack Obama swept into office in 2008, he brought with him solid Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Those numbers have dwindled through his six years as president and, after last night’s rout, he must now be feeling like a general without an army. McConnell, on the other hand, should feel as smart as Caesar. He made good on his 2009 vow to oppose and defeat Obama at every turn, and that scorched-earth tactic paid off. Public disgust with a gridlocked government seems to have attached itself to Obama, not to McConnell and the Republicans, and voters have made the Democrats suffer for it.

In a gracious victory speech, McConnell reached out to the president and said, “We have a duty to get beyond conflict.” His words were pretty, but conflict has paid off so well for McConnell and his party that it would be more than surprising if he suddenly began to seek common ground with the man he has spent six years portraying as the source of national ruin.

It is far more likely that Republicans will use their control of Congress to confront the president even more boldly, and Obama, with Democrats on Capitol Hill fleeing like the Iraqi army, will find himself locked in a lonely battle, holding a veto stamp as his weapon of last resort.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-obamas-veto-weapon-20141105-story.html
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« Reply #115 on: November 06, 2014, 12:17:03 pm »


Mark Morford

Extremism wins, ideas lose:
The irony of the spineless Democrats


By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist | 10:53AM PST - Wednesday, November 05, 2014

IT appears we have consensus!

Not that anyone cares, what with all the Democratic moaning and the Republican leering, liberals across American once again licking their wounds in a sort of dumbfounded, how-could-this-happen disbelief, as Republicans grab gobs of dumb power on waves of nothing but contempt, hostility and a derisive lack of a single fresh idea.

Nevertheless, everyone seems to agree: Democrats were destroyed, once again, by the party’s own infamous, downright astonishing ineptitude at executing (mostly) very good ideas.

A failure of nerve. A lack of ideological spine. A toothless mismanagement of a largely admirable agenda that, despite some terrific successes, never fully made it off the runway.


We feel you, dude.
We feel you, dude.

Call it what you will. But the president certainly didn’t help, with his weird tone of detached apathy, his failure to grow some serious backbone to push back against GOP obstructionism and trumpet the party’s successes from day one, all combined with a sort of pathetic lack of follow-through on maintaining the wild, youth-led enthusiasm he so rightfully earned in the beginning, and again in 2012.

And Republicans? Simple. They won (again) because of their utter mastery at hurling empty propaganda, and their utter hatred of President Obama.

Let us emphasize this point fully and clear: Hate won. Ideas lost.

Don’t take my word for it. Republicans admit as much themselves. They widely acknowledge they forwarded not a single new idea, promised not a single fresh approach to governing. Far from it. In nearly every race in the country, Republicans ran on one campaign slogan and one slogan only: Obama is horrible.

And it worked. It worked shockingly well. As with every mid-term, turnout was abysmal, young (liberal) voters stayed away, and those who did turn out were the Republican’s most favorite chattel of all: older, fear-addled white conservatives who lack much in the way of critical thinking skills. Bingo!

Can you pity, for a moment, the poor Democratic party? For the horribly ironic bind it finds itself in, over and over again?

See, the party’s most fatal flaw is also its most appealing trait: It lacks the murderous cruelty and savage bloodlust of the Republicans.

Whereas the GOP has zero qualms about flinging outright lies (birthers, science deniers, creationists, et al) to get what it wants, not to mention an ever-present air of racism, sexism and a dark mistrust/hatred of everyone from Muslims to the entire African continent, Dems have no such arsenal, and no skill to use it if they did.

Republicans will say and do anything to win, and are utterly ruthless about how they go about it; enacting a smart, fair policy agenda is almost nowhere on their priority list. Dems are the exact opposite: terrific agenda, lots of policy, but morally unwilling to play dirty, to murder their own grandmother in cold blood and blame it on the GOP, to make it go.


Do you have any idea how much this man detests you?
Do you have any idea how much this man detests you?

This is why there is no Democratic equivalent of Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, no endless drumbeat of hate speech pounding across the flyover states 24/7, no incessant wails of fear, racism, hatred of Other. Liberal ideology prohibits such harsh machinery. The Dems are the party of the smart, the city, the college-educated, the critical thinker. Nearly every major metropolis votes blue, and every significant college town, and scientist, and artist, and creative entrepreneur. The general truism remains: The smarter, more compassionate and more attuned you get, the more liberal you become. The more fearful, suspicious and egocentric you get, the more conservative you become.

So then, consensus: Extremism and odium won; intelligence and compromise lost.

For now, anyway. Some say this is just a typical mid-cycle backlash, a blip, part of an all-too-common Democratic surge/crash cycle that Obama had hoped to mollify, and failed. Badly.

Some say wait until Hillary takes over in 2016. Which is amusing given how, aside from her gender, Hillary brings the exact same gnarly set of political baggage as those who came before.

Still others say that, despite this red surge, the country is still turning leftward overall, as demographics shift, women and minorities become more dominant, and older white males gasp their last. What with a lousy voter turnout and most of that from older whites from the red states, this election is a very poor indicator of overall direction.


New Democratic Party logo! At least until 2016.
New Democratic Party logo!
At least until 2016.


One thing is certain: It’s going to be a very ugly couple of years. Fumes of Bush, off-gassing of Cheney, sour fragrance of Rove permeates the air. Obama just got much grayer, though all is not necessarily lost.

Want a silver lining? A bright beacon of hope? I can think of two:

One (echoing John Judis’ excellent point at New Republic): if voter turnout this election had been what it was in 2008 or 2012, Dems would have done much better. Women, minorities and young people, who generally lean more liberal, barely showed up. Which means potentially good news for 2016. If the Dems don’t screw it up.

And two? Well, that would be right here at home, California.

This state, the 8th largest economy in the world, is sort of a marvel. Governor Brown, who is 76 years old, just won again, in a landslide. Democrats have near-total control. And with the exception of a brutal drought, under Governor Brown and just a handful of years after our state was the butt of a debt-ridden, downward-spiraling, Schwarzenegger-sized joke, the state is largely flourishing.

Brown is frugal, deeply intelligent, compassionate. The state legislature, increasingly un-gridlocked and free of trying to combat Republican cruelty and obstructionism, moves with a rare sort of ideological ease. Here, ideas can actually become reality. Agenda items evolve. Some surprisingly progressive proposals make it through. It ain’t perfect and we have our own pile of issues, but considering this state’s mammoth budget, stupefying economy and wildly complicated demographics, its ongoing success is nothing short of miraculous.

Is California a bright model of progressivism, wonderfully imperfect proof of what Dems can do when acidic conservativism and obstructionism aren’t a factor? Just might be. One thing is certain: At this particular moment, as Mitch McConnell’s flying monkeys swarm into D.C., cackling and smashing the furniture and ruining everyone’s day, our calm, liberal bubble has never looked better.


Email: Mark Morford

Mark Morford on Twitter and Facebook.

http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2014/11/05/extremism-wins-ideas-lose
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« Reply #116 on: November 07, 2014, 05:27:25 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Republicans caught a big, angry wave that swamped Democrats

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Thursday, November 07, 2014



MSNBC's Chris Matthews declared Tuesday’s national vote a “wave election” where Republican victories were not isolated events but part of a large, sweeping tide. Matthews picked the right metaphor; like a big wave, this latest expression of electoral unease was all brute force.

Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate surfed the wave successfully while many Democrats got swamped. That had a great deal to do with the nature of the wave, propelled as it was by older white voters in more conservative states. These were the same states that had elected Democratic senators six years ago when a different wave, driven by young, ethnically diverse voters, lifted Barack Obama into the White House.

Election results are never precise statements of support for particular policies and philosophies of government. They are unfocused manifestations of a collective gut feeling. Now and then, hope and optimism drive the vote, but, far more often, it is an expression of a general unease with the state of the nation. When that unease gets focused on an individual leader, as it did this year with the president, the opposition party invariably benefits.

That is why Republicans dare not assume their victories are portents of triumphs to come. The conditions were right for them to do well this year. There were plenty of endangered Democratic incumbents to pick off and, this being a lower-turnout midterm election, there were fewer young people and minorities showing up at the polls. In two years, those factors will be reversed.

Still, Democrats should not lull themselves into thinking the worst is over. Republicans ran well in places where, even in non-presidential election years, Democrats should be able to win. Democrats lost races for governor in the blue states of Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. They lost squeakers in Wisconsin, Maine and Florida. In Georgia, even the grandson of Jimmy Carter failed to knock off an unpopular, ethically challenged GOP incumbent. And in true-blue Vermont, the Democratic governor fell short of 50% of the vote, sending the final choice to the state Legislature.

There was good news for Democrats in Pennsylvania, where newcomer Tom Wolf convincingly drubbed incumbent Republican Governor Tom Corbett, and in California, where Governor Jerry Brown won a historic fourth term without breaking a sweat. If Brown were a young man, he’d be at the top of the list of Democratic presidential prospects. But he is 76 years old and at the climax of his career.

And that illuminates the biggest weakness of the Democratic Party going toward 2016. The most likely Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton, who will be 69 when the next election rolls around. These days, that is not necessarily old, but the Clinton brand is hardly fresh and new. If Democratic success is reliant on the kind of young, fickle voters who swarmed to Obama in 2008 because he was a youthful, mixed-race guy with an aura of cool and a celebrity-driven campaign, will they show up to vote for someone who already inhabited the White House when they were in grade school?

And if not Hillary, then who would the candidate be? Is the top alternative really Vice President Joe Biden, who will be nearly 75 when the nation votes again? Joe Biden, who is the butt of jokes on “The Daily Show” and Colbert and “Saturday Night Live”?

Among the Republican politicians lining up for the presidential race, there are right-wing zealots like Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum who would go down in flames and take their party with them. But there are also some relatively young and intriguing new faces, such as Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, who could reshape the GOP brand. Meanwhile, the Democratic bench is packed with too many veterans of past campaigns.

Older Democrats may pine for the return of Hillary and Bill, but for voters under 40 the Clintons are figures from history. When the next political tide rolls in, Democrats may wish they had someone better positioned to catch the new wave.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-republicans-caught-a-wave-20141105-story.html
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« Reply #117 on: November 07, 2014, 09:50:11 pm »

mm...wonder if this may mean a shift to the right in the US.....could there be another Bush presidency?? Wink
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« Reply #118 on: November 07, 2014, 10:06:37 pm »


So correct me if I'm wrong....

The Republicans cannot pass any legislation without risking Obama exercising a veto.

Obama cannot get anything done without the Republicans blocking it.

Hahaha.....that sounds just like the dysfunctional government the Fascist States of America has had for the past few years.

Perhaps reality should shift there.....he is obviously as mentally ill as Americans, so would fit right in.

And perhaps another Bush presidency could be a good thing. The last Bush almost bankrupted the country wasting trillions of dollars on warmongering. The next bout of warmongering could end up bankrupting the country, and that really WOULD be a good thing. I could be the greatest entertainment show on earth. Sooner or later, the Chinese are going to turn off the money tap which is propping up the Jesuslanders. Another fuckhead prez could be just the thing to do it.

Bring it on!! 

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« Reply #119 on: November 07, 2014, 11:09:03 pm »

Brucie..."And perhaps another Bush presidency could be a good thing. The last Bush almost bankrupted the country wasting trillions of dollars on warmongering. The next bout of warmongering could end up bankrupting the country, and that really WOULD be a good thing. I could be the greatest entertainment show on earth. Sooner or later, the Chinese are going to turn off the money tap which is propping up the Jesuslanders. Another fuckhead prez could be just the thing to do it.

Bring it on!!  "

....please enlighten us as to the benefits for NZ if this was to occur Roll Eyes

...be careful what you wish for..... Wink
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« Reply #120 on: November 08, 2014, 01:18:08 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Voters put climate change policy in the hands of climate change denier

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Friday, November 07, 2014



PEOPLE who voted for the GOP in the congressional elections this week may be surprised to learn they chose a militant climate change denier to oversee federal efforts to deal with climate change. The widespread expectation is that, when Republicans take charge of the Senate in January, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, a vehement foe of those who believe human exploitation of fossil fuels is contributing to a sharp rise in global temperatures, will be chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Exit polls taken during Tuesday’s vote indicated that this year’s electorate leaned conservative and that their top two desires were smaller government and a healthier economy. Inhofe would probably argue that halting efforts to deal with climate change would contribute to both goals, but, besides being wrong, his remedy may not be what many of those voters had in mind.

What were the voters saying? Conservatives have been expressing their wish for less government for years but, no matter who gets elected, Republican or Democrat, the federal government remains huge. And that is because, when it comes down to cutting the big stuff, there is not much that even conservatives want to do without. Besides the massively expensive right-wing sacred cow of defense, the two biggest pieces of government are Social Security and Medicare and those are dear to all the older voters who vote Republican.

What a push for smaller government usually comes down to is cutting food stamps for the poor and eliminating regulations for the rich. The former, while making life more miserable for folks at the low end of the economic scale, does not make a very big dent in the federal budget. The latter, while further enriching corporations, banks and Wall Street firms and freeing them to pollute the environment and come up with new, risky ways to manipulate the stock market, has not been proved to extend the benefits of a booming economy to the middle class.

Surely voters are hoping for more than that, but it is not always easy to know because a lot of people contradict themselves with their ballots. At the same moment voters were giving the Senate to the GOP and choosing a batch of new Republican governors, some were also voting to raise the minimum wage. This happened in five states — Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Illinois — where Democrats were being dumped in favor of Republicans, even though pro-business Republicans have blocked a federal minimum wage hike for years.

Voters do not always think about these contradictions and they certainly don’t spend time wondering how their vote will affect individual committee assignments in the Senate. But those obscure, small results are usually more tangible than all the noisy promises about improving the economy. Entrusting Jim Inhofe with climate change policy is one good example.

Inhofe answers the worldwide scientific consensus that climate change is already responsible for melting glaciers and extreme weather with reassuring passages from Genesis. Contrary to the ominous research-based predictions of climatologists, the senator insists that a warming planet might, in fact, be a good thing. Summing up all his skepticism and paranoia, Inhofe published a book in 2012, “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future”.

Actually, what he calls a “conspiracy” is more a threat to the future of the big oil and gas companies that have been the most generous contributors to Inhofe’s re-election campaigns. As far as actual danger, there are few places in the country more in peril than Inhofe’s Oklahoma and the lower Great Plains. Record temperatures, drought and water depletion are already big problems in the region. If climate scientists are correct and the current crisis is just a hint of worse days to come, one would think Inhofe might want to open his mind to the possibility he could be wrong about how wonderful climate change is going to be for his constituents.

Don’t expect it, though. He’s got books to sell, big donors to please and a committee chairmanship he can use to block any small effort to deal with what some consider an existential threat to the nation and the human race. No matter what they may have thought they were doing in the voting booths on November 4th, what voters did was put Jim Inhofe in charge of the future of the world.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-climate-change-denier-20141106-story.html
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« Reply #121 on: November 21, 2014, 05:17:53 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Obama may be too sane for our crazy world

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Wednesday, November 12, 2014



AN NBC report about this week’s Asian economic summit in Beijing had a shot of the various leaders walking together like a crowd of students on their way to a third-period history class. Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping were in front, talking and smiling. President Obama was off to the side and back a few steps.

The random placement probably meant nothing. Still, life often mimics high school and it sure looked as if Obama were being shunned by the cool kids.

Now that Democrats have been hammered in the midterm congressional elections and the blame has fallen on Obama, the usual gaggle of pundits is speculating that world leaders will perceive the president as significantly weakened. As if to confirm this, Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament, told the Tass news agency that Obama has fallen “from the president of hope to the president of disappointment.” Pushkov’s pal, Putin, must be smiling at that thought, the class bully that he is.

Putin is the bad kid who is always in trouble with the principal but remains defiant. In the face of international sanctions meant to punish him for his incursions into Ukraine, he has skipped out of planning for an upcoming international summit aimed at controlling the spread of nuclear materials to terrorists. Instead, he has sent his navy to test a new intercontinental ballistic missile with the capacity to delivery 10 nuclear warheads. Not having to worry about elections himself, Putin can play the tough guy and scoff at his lame-duck counterpart in the United States.

Obama is the smart, well-behaved lad in the global high school that punks love to pick on. As president, he’s tried for six years to be a rational-minded conciliator. He wants his opponents, both foreign and domestic, to simmer down, dispense with threats and do the logical thing. Apparently — from the bully who brazenly stole Crimea to the wild bunch who shut down the federal government — everyone but him thinks that’s a lame idea.

Arizona Senator John McCain, likely the next chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is among the most vocal of the Republican critics who think Obama’s foreign policy has been too timid. As a West Point cadet, McCain was constantly on the edge of getting tossed out for bad grades and defiant behavior. You can bet if McCain had won the White House in 2008, he would have brought some of that cocky recklessness to the job. He was, after all, the candidate who, on the campaign trail in 2007, shocked a lot of people by singing his own version of an old Beach Boys tune: “Bomb, bomb, bomb — bomb, bomb Iran”.

It’s hard to imagine Obama pulling such a stunt, but recklessness, rather than prudence, just might be what many voters admire and what authoritarian leaders respond to.

When he was president, Richard Nixon, one of the most calculating leaders of his time, purposely tried to make his foreign adversaries believe that he was unhinged and capable of self-destructive actions, up to and including nuclear war. In October 1969, intent on convincing the Soviets and the North Vietnamese that a lunatic was loose in the White House, Nixon put the U.S. military on full alert and ordered bombers armed with thermonuclear weapons to probe the edges of Russian airspace for three days.

Nixon’s fake craziness — what he privately called his “madman theory” — may have had a lasting effect in Moscow. A decade later when Ronald Reagan first took up residence in the White House, the Soviets were so sure the new president was dangerously irrational that they put their own forces on high alert expecting an imminent nuclear attack.

It’s doubtful anyone worries about Obama doing anything crazy. Contrary to what Nixon believed, sanity should be a good thing, right? Maybe, but is Obama’s caution also why the Russians and, perhaps, the Chinese, have no compunction about defying him?

It’s a tough, crazy world out there and, though we wish humanity would grow up a little, it still seems as if we are stuck playing the foolish games of high school on a global scale.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-barack-obama-too-sane-20141112-story.html
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« Reply #122 on: November 21, 2014, 05:18:06 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Right wing freaks out over China-U.S. climate change deal

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Thursday, November 13, 2014



ABOUT five seconds after the announcement came from Beijing that the United States and China had reached an unexpected and ambitious climate change agreement, Republicans in Washington declared it the worst deal since the Trojans accepted a big wooden horse from the Greeks.

Climate scientists had a different reaction. If China and the U.S. actually reach the goals to which they are committing, and if other nations follow their lead, climate experts are saying the world will have made a huge leap toward averting the worst effects of rising global temperatures.

You would think everyone would be cheering, but the boos and catcalls from the right have just begun.

Throughout his campaign for reelection, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell said it would be foolhardy to raise carbon dioxide emissions standards on American companies as long as China, the world’s biggest generator of greenhouse gases, was sticking to business as usual. But now that China has agreed to take a big step away from coal as its primary fuel source, McConnell still is not satisfied and stands ready to fight implementation of the new agreement once he becomes Senate majority leader in January.

In McConnell’s case, it is transparently obvious that his prime motivation is to protect his state’s coal industry. If that industry happens to be contributing to shifts in climate that threaten civilization, that’s tough luck. McConnell is far more concerned about the profits of the energy industries that finance his, and his party’s, campaigns.

The Senate’s chief climate change denier, Oklahoma Senator James M. Inhofe, also damned the China deal, branding it a “nonbinding charade”. The rest of the right wing chimed in with similar sentiments, asserting that the Chinese had bamboozled President Obama. Because there are no hard and fast requirements in the deal, just aspirational goals, the critics assert that the sneaky Chinese will do nothing while Obama’s reckless and unnecessary new emissions standards wreck the U.S. economy and turn the nation into an impoverished vassal of Beijing.

Besides ignoring the positive bump the American economy would receive from turning to renewable energy sources, the conservatives’ argument misses a very big factor driving China’s sudden willingness to do something about the bad stuff their factories and cars are spewing into the atmosphere. The pollution clouding Chinese cities is a political danger to the regime. China’s President Xi Jinping has agreed to cap emissions and move 20% of the country’s energy consumption to alternative fuels by 2030, not to please the international community or to pull a fast one on Americans, but to avoid a revolt in his own smog-choked country. It’s called self-interest.

Unfortunately, in the United States, too many politicians interpret self-interest as whatever it is that will get them re-elected. The true self-interest of our nation is far larger. It is to keep heartland farms from drying up, to avert extreme sea level rises that would flood coastal cities and to avoid increasingly intense and destructive wildfires, tornadoes, blizzards, floods and hurricanes — all the calamities that will come with climate change.

Anyone who actually cares about America — and the future American economy — would welcome the deal with China as a step in the right direction and would be engaged in making sure it is fully implemented by both countries. Instead, we have pseudo-patriots in Congress and the conservative media doing what they do best: spreading paranoia and protecting the interests of those who are getting rich today by forsaking generations of Americans to come.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-chinaus-climate-deal-20141112-story.html
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« Reply #123 on: November 21, 2014, 05:18:31 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Legislators and lobbyists bonding over mai tais on Maui

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PST - Friday, November 14, 2014



I GOT into the news business covering the Washington Legislature as a student intern for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. In those days, lobbyists would host frequent fundraising events for key lawmakers during the legislative session and there was always lots of free food. Because I was paid barely enough to cover a dorm-type room and really cheap meals, I dropped by as many of these parties as I could and I’d head straight for the buffet. I didn’t think about the ethics of it at the time; I was just hungry.

The practice of special interests raising money for legislators while they were in the midst of deliberating legislation that affected those same interests was banned in Washington long ago, part of a general trend of elected officials trying to eliminate the appearance of being bought off by lobbyists. But, in this second decade of the 21stcentury, there are still glaring examples of lawmakers getting cozy with the folks who are paid to influence them.

A new case in point: A couple dozen California legislators have signed up for conferences at fancy resorts on the island of Maui that are subsidized by special interest groups including pharmaceutical companies, tobacco distributors, cable operators, public employee unions and oil corporations.

According to an article by Los Angeles Times reporter Patrick McGreevy, legislators are getting their $350-a-night rooms paid for, and that’s just a start. These are annual events and, last year, an average of $2,500 in expenses was covered for each lawmaker. A very innocently named organization picked up that tab -- the Independent Voter Project. But guess where the group gets all its money: from Occidental Petroleum, the Western State Petroleum Assn., Eli Lilly, the state prison guards union and many other groups with a vested interest in the bills that get passed or killed in Sacramento.

Defenders of the Maui gatherings say the lawmakers need to escape the partisan rancor of the state capital and go someplace nice where they can build camaraderie and kick around important ideas. A statement issued on behalf of the Republican leader of the Assembly said the junket gives legislators of both parties a chance to talk with each other and with “experts” about public policy solutions that will lead to “a better California for all”.

Well, OK, in this age of obscene expenditures for campaigns, I guess five days of subsidized fun in the sun is small potatoes. And I guess these folks really need to fly off to Hawaii, since there are no good beach resorts to be found in California. And I guess it’s good that Republicans and Democrats are actually talking to each other — something that does not seem to happen back in Washington, D.C. And I’ll even stipulate that not too many politicians sell their souls for a mere $350 room and all the mai tais they can drink. But here’s the problem: This is all about access.

In those relaxed hours between heady policy seminars when legislators and lobbyists are sitting around the pool or playing a round of golf or ordering another round at the hosted bar, there are bonds being forged, friendships blossoming and good feelings being cultivated. This is an opportunity most citizens do not ever get.

So when those legislators are back at work and someone knocks at their office door, who gets in and who gets told to come back some other day? The lowly citizen might be given a minute or two for a handshake and a snapshot, but guess who is invited for a private word in the inner sanctum. You know who; that nice guy or gal who was so much fun back in Hawaii, the one who was nice enough to pick up the check.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-legislators-and-lobbyists-20141114-story.html
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« Reply #124 on: November 21, 2014, 05:18:43 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

GOP outrage at Obama immigration plan sticks to an old script

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Wednesday, November 19, 2014



RONALD REGAN pulled off a great performance as president of the United States. All those years in the movies came in handy. Yet, it must be acknowledged that, even without careers in Hollywood, members of the current cast of Republicans are no slouches when it comes to playacting.

I’m not talking about the professional entertainers, such as Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, who are paid big money for their florid melodramatics. Nor do I mean the party’s hilarious clown corps, the laugh-a-minute buffoons Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert. I mean the true thespians — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House John Boehner, as well as understated players such as South Dakota Sen. John Thune and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.

These are actors who can suspend disbelief and make crass artifice seem sincere. Currently, they are playing outraged defenders of the Constitution and disappointed champions of bipartisanship. Faced with President Obama’s imminent announcement that he is unilaterally freezing deportations of several million undocumented immigrants, Republican leaders are taking the stage to spout grand soliloquies of condemnation: The president is exercising power like an autocrat, undermining the republic and usurping the power of the legislative branch.

Interspersed with the outraged orations, there are dewy-eyed pleas: Just work with us, Mr. Obama, just sit down and talk things over and we can solve the immigration problem together. It is a mark of their superb dramatic skills that Republicans can say these things and keep a straight face.

They rise above the reality that both Reagan and his successor, George H.W. Bush, issued executive orders on immigration that were quite similar in scope and effect to what Obama is proposing. In those instances, there were no Republicans rushing to the spotlight to declare the man in the White House a dictator and call for his impeachment.

And, as they express their eagerness for bipartisan compromise, there is nary a blush on the cheek of those who have spent six years opposing even the most uncontroversial idea emanating from the Oval Office. A casual member of the audience would never know these same people have been scheming against the Obama presidency with more determination than Brutus and Cassius showed in taking down Julius Caesar.

It may or may not be wise — or even legal — for Obama to push his executive authority this far (although, obviously, other presidents have done it). Many Democrats want him to postpone his immigration order so they can get a few last things done in the lame-duck session of Congress. But, having suffered through the shabby show of Democratic candidates running away from him during the just-completed election campaign, the president may not be in the mood to do them any favors. And he is understandably skeptical of pledges of comity coming from the same Republicans who made “Stop Obama” their singular goal from Day One.

Chiming in from the wings, Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal characterized Obama’s intransigence as a childish “temper tantrum”. But, if Obama’s cool demeanor qualifies as a tantrum, what do we make of a drama queen like Speaker Boehner who has angrily pledged to fight Obama “tooth and nail.” Boehner grimly warns that the president will ruin any chance of getting immigration legislation if he doesn’t back down. This is a gutsy performance from the man who could have gotten a truly bipartisan, Senate-passed immigration bill through the House and to the president’s desk at any moment in the last couple of years simply by allowing a vote — a vote that never happened because Boehner did not want to risk a riot among the anti-immigrant radicals in his caucus.

Sure, Republicans could be called crassly disingenuous, but, in theatrical terms, they deserve credit for adding an audacious new layer of artifice to a well-worn script. The president can be forgiven, however, for not applauding.


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-gop-outrage-at-immigration-20141118-story.html
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