Friday, October 28, 2011

Adios, Huevos: Perry Is The Ultimate Texas Leaguer.

Foreign Policy Experience? Cover model for International Male counts, right?  One handsome sumbitch.

Rick Perry doesn't want to debate anymore.  Wow... Perry is really killing that whole tough Texan persona...guess we know why they needed all those Tennessee volunteers to come help out at the Alamo.

The only thing that Perry is rock-solid sure of is killing people. He came out with a bold plan for tax reform (filing your taxes on a comment card, like you had a bad meal at an Olive Garden), but then saying you can also file traditionally. If the tax code is that evil and job killin', wouldn't you insist on killing it?

Guess we have to wait for the IRS to knock off a liquor store in Lubbock. Falling in the polls, guv? Then let's reach into the Republican quiver and pull out...the birther angle?! Doesn't Mr. Perry remember the president releasing his birth certificate...then days later smoking Osama Bin Laden?

It is cowardly to skip the debates. Yes, there are too many of them (hell, American Idol isn't on this much), but he wanted into this dance, and that's the price of the band.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Obama, Old Dominion, and Carolina in My Mind: Can the Prez Win Again?

 My President in a Carolina BBQ joint: cue the Lee Greenwood.

President Obama can win Virginia and North Carolina in his bid for reelection, but the playbook will be different from his inaugural victory in 2008 (and we can take back the North Carolina legislature!  Hear that, Senate Dem leadership? I'm a hack for hire: pull the trigger on that bad boy!).  Both states have large active duty and retired military populations, which is traditionally thought to skew conservative. This is the president who gave the "go" order on eliminating bin Laden, so he has a greater chance with these voters.
Virginia and North Carolina also have a unique socioeconomic geography. While great swaths of both states are rural, there are urban areas that are constantly growing. This growth is based on industry that attracts workers from other parts of the country (i.e. the Research Triangle of North Carolina), where people bring not only their abilities but their political opinions as well. (Remember: Cary, N.C., stands for Concentrated Area of Relocated Yankees). This influx of educated and involved voters came out for Obama in large numbers in 2008.

His bid for reelection is helped by statewide elections, especially in the commonwealth. Tim Kaine, a rock star if the Democratic party ever saw one, is running for Jim Webb's open Senate seat. (As Democrats, Tim Kaine's election to Virginia governor is our Woodstock: much as every baby boomer claims they were at the show in 1969, every Dem operative claims to have been part of Kaine's effort in 2005, the only pol to ever has a staff of 24 million). His popularity, coupled with his time as DNC chair, will help the president on the ground.
In North Carolina, Bev Perdue is running for a second term as governor. Although the statehouse in Raleigh is controlled by Republicans, her leadership during Hurricane Irene and the fact that the convention is in Charlotte will hope focus money and media on this area.
The citizens in Virginia and North Carolina also understand the role of government in their lives. While many on both sides of the aisle may want to limit the reach of government, the recent hurricane season reminded them that the resources that their tax dollars provided (i.e. FEMA) are good things to have in an emergency. The large coastal areas of these states, and the industries built up around them (tourism in NC, shipping and naval bases in VA) are better for it.

These states also have a great number of colleges, where he not only swept up voters in 2008 but many of his campaign volunteers originated from campuses, where they used their natural energy and social media prowess to promote his message of change. Now those students are facing uncertainty in the job market and in financing an ever increasing cost of education. The president must keep reminding the electorate that he is on the side of the voters, and that the Republican house is the cause for the stagnation seen in local economies. The president's personal story of getting through college on scholarships and loans, having nothing to fall back on but his talent and tenacity, resonates with these young people and their parents, who face their own unique struggles in maintaining the basic structures of the American dream.
Fixing roads and bridges are tangible examples for taxpayers. The president is on the ground, sleeves rolled up, talking to the folks, while their Republican representatives are giving interviews from the hallways of the Capitol dome. What resonates more? There is only one thing that would really solidify the argument on behalf of the president and his push to have the jobs bill passed: his bus, the Death Star, hitting a pothole and getting a flat tire on one of these roads. Cue the press pool cameras: the president changing a tire! It writes itself!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Our God Is An Awesome God...and Your God Sucks

 Rev. Robert Jeffress: Professional Jackass.  How come God only talks to guys like this? (Courtesy CNN)

Well, I guess everyone can close out their office pool about when the Mormon faith would be brought up. Forget "dog whistle" politics: this was a fog horn. Bar the door to the temple: it's cult time!

In the new Republican majority, the tea party dominates the landscape, and for those who say that it doesn't, just ask your man in the well John Boehner. Any piece of legislation from the speaker's office is doomed from the jump. It is like being coach of the Dallas Cowboys: you might have the headset on, but the voice coming through it is from the owners box, which in conservative politics is the tea party. The old line party structure, where you paid your dues and moved up, is gone in the GOP.

Two decades ago, the Christian conservative/evangelical movement was a political behemoth. Fronted by a fresh-faced Ralph Reed, the movement helped bring about the Republican majority of 1994. Televangelist Pat Robertson wanted to move from the 700 Club to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They had money, media and support from the pews...and then, much like when we all wake up and realize we are a little bit older and grayer, the glory days had passed.

Ralph Reed was looped into the Jack Abramoff circle of power, Pat Robertson declared hurricanes and earthquakes God's change agent for geographical sin, and religious conservatives had nowhere to direct their angst. Enter the primaries...where when Rick Perry begins to struggle, one of his supporters throws out that the man who is beating Perry has to be an "other." That is one point on which Romney and President Obama can commiserate: being described as alien. Mitt Romney has to be part of a cult...a cult where he remains married to one woman for life, has five upstanding kids, and makes tons of money in private business. What Would Jesus Do, Indeed! Taken on its face, is not that the checklist for a values voter? (If anyone from the RNC is reading this, I think I deserve some royalties: I defend Republicans better than Mr. Preibus does).

Romney's faith was a not a problem until Chris Christie decided to keep his talents in Trenton. At that very moment money and endorsements flowed over to Romney, and Perry and his backers realized that Guy Smiley and his Potemkin Village health care were not enough of an anvil to sink his candidacy and have everyone move over to Perry.

Note: I do not blame Gov. Perry's campaign for this episode of intolerance, but as a political professional, you probably do not want a pastor who also said that the Catholic church is backed by Satan as your warm up act on the road. After Iowa and South Carolina, there is the little issue of the rest of the United States, where many of the working class Reagan Democrats that Republicans hunger for take communion every week.

And also: a hat tip to the Republican candidates who were asked about this over the weekend during all the political news programs: Jim Brown and Walter Payton combined couldn't sidestep tacklers the way they sidestepped the question of Mitt Romney's faith. I would love to be shocked, but this is the same crew of heroes who would not stand up for an openly gay soldier who asked a question (from Iraq) and was booed by the crowd. If there is room on the National Mall, we should fund a monument to the Republican field: all of them standing with their arms crossed, straddling a huge fence.

Even as a Democrat, I have to admire Mitt Romney and the abusive marriage he continues to stay in. Oh, I don't mean to his lovely wife: I am talking about his union with the Republican Party. How many times can you hear you are not loved or wanted, when all you do is try to make it work? Bringing home flowers, doing the counseling, denying that you had any part in insuring the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: its all so tough. The best thing Mitt Romney can do is keep raising money, gathering endorsements, and start working on his book about how he lost the 2012 presidential race to Barack Obama.

BTW: I believe in God.  I believe in a warm, loving God that is there for you in times of need but let's you figure it out when you have the tools too and makes sure that we are all part of the energy of the world-an ethereal Atticus Finch.  Rev. Jeffress kills it for the rest of us.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Adios, Mofo, Indeed

Two months ago the Republican party was clamoring for Rick Perry to come and save not only the GOP but the nation as well, claiming his "Texas miracle" in the jobs arena was as miraculous as the governor walking across the Red River. Cue the Jerry Bruckheimer-tinged ads and roll straight to the White House...right after he explains his Dream Act, contributions and hires from Merck after his vaccination policy, and the fact that the Texas miracle was more plucking jobs from other states and leaning heavily on federal dollars to make these things happen.

Perry does need to shake things up, and he needs to show he is serious about being leader of the free world. But he's not. Most of the candidates in the Republican field aren't. Perry shows that he did not do the work necessary to prepare himself for a presidential run, and then his people state their grand plan, showing how seriously they take this process (and after Florida conservatives said 'give us Herman Cain'), is to double down on kicking Mitt Romney's tokus.

Not only is the Republican field in trouble, the Republican brand is in trouble. Cheering for people dying in hospitals and booing a brave soldier (who was in theater - he asked the question from Iraq) is the calling card of this party. That soldier, along with every other service member, swears an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. The candidates for president envision taking this same oath in front of the Capitol on a cold January day, and not one, especially Gov. Perry, has shown the ability to defeat President Obama and get to that day.
A free tip to the governor and his staff: he's not Sam Houston. He is running for president of the United States, a vast and wonderful land of diverse people and needs. "How we do it in Texas" was dial-tested for the first eight years of this century, and it did not fare well.

Perry has not shown the effort it takes to be in this for the next year. Running for president is an seemingly unending march, even for the best prepared and financed individuals (when Perry stated people didn't have a heart, he meant he didn't have the heart to keep running). Treating it like a formality is an insult, even to those of us on the other side of the aisle. Put forth your best, and we will beat them. But give voters a choice of candidates that really want to be in the arena, to fight the fights. So far, the saviors have not brought salvation.

Eventually the Right will have to accept that their team is on the field, and they will have to choose accordingly. Just wanting to be crowned is not enough - you have to pass the talent portion of the pageant as well. In Joseph Heller's Catch 22, stating you were crazy proved you weren't, because you had the ability to see your mental state clearly. Almost every time out, stating you are ready to be president of the United States shows you aren't.