Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ornstein lays blame for polorized DC at the feet of the GOP

Norm Ornstein has been a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (the think tank that brought us the war in Iraq and they hope Iran) for many years now. Given how AEI unceremoniously dumped David Frum for being critical of the GOP response to healthcare reform, one wonders how much longer Norm can hang on.

Ornstein has just released a book blaming much of the polarization in Washington on the Republican party. As a prelude to the book release, Ornstein published an OP/ED in the WaPo on April 28 dumping on the GOP. Here's the money quote,
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

.... Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.
It's hard to imagine Ornstein lasting much longer at AEI, although he certainly doesn't seem to feel any pressure to lighten up.

Here he appears on an ABC News Web Only show explaining just how differently Democrats treated Bush in 2000 compared to Obama's treatment 8 years later.

Friday, May 18, 2012

How To Dine Out Without Being A Jerk

Excellent advice that I implore all of you to read, and absorb. This week was Etiquette week. Who knew?

Anyway, the good people at sfist put together a great list on how to dine out without being a jerk.

They have missed one point that I want to add to this list: You are not a rock star. When you go to a fine dining restaurant -- look nice (and not "good jeans" nice). The dinner may not be a big deal for you, but there will be people at the restaurant who have been saving up for that dinner to celebrate an important event in their life. Out of respect for others, if not yourself, show some class and dress like you've been out to a nice restaurant before.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

GW Bush's 2004 Pollster tell GOP to Reverse Course on Gay Marriage

This is a big get for Andrew Sullivan.

As Mitt Romney appeared at Liberty University yesterday to draw a line in the sand on gay marriage, George W. Bush's 2004 campaign pollster is advising the GOP in a confidential memo that unless they reverse course immediately they risk irrelevancy for a generation.

Andrew got the memo, which he reproduces at The Dish.  Here is the entire text of the memo:

From: James van Lohuizen
Date: 05/11/12
Re: Same Sex Marriage
In view of this week’s news on the same sex marriage issue, here is a summary of recent survey findings on same sex marriage:
1. Support for same sex marriage has been growing and in the last few years support has grown at an accelerated rate with no sign of slowing down. A review of public polling shows that up to 2009 support for gay marriage increased at a rate of 1% a year. Starting in 2010 the change in the level of support accelerated to 5% a year. The most recent public polling shows supporters of gay marriage outnumber opponents by a margin of roughly 10% (for instance: NBC / WSJ poll in February / March: support 49%, oppose 40%).
2. The increase in support is taking place among all partisan groups. While more Democrats support gay marriage than Republicans, support levels among Republicans are increasing over time. The same is true of age: younger people support same sex marriage more often than older people, but the trends show that all age groups are rethinking their position.
3. Polling conducted among Republicans show that majorities of Republicans and Republican leaning voters support extending basic legal protections to gays and lesbians. These include majority Republican support for:
a. Protecting gays and lesbians against being fired for reasons of sexual orientation
b. Protections against bullying and harassment
c. Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
d. Right to visit partners in hospitals
e. Protecting partners against loss of home in case of severe medical emergencies or death
f. Legal protection in some form for gay couples whether it be same sex marriage or domestic partnership (only 29% of Republicans oppose legal recognition in any form).
Recommendation: A statement reflecting recent developments on this issue along the following lines:
“People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle, as I do, will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples; gay and lesbian couples should not face discrimination and their relationship should be protected under the law. People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits."
Other thoughts / Q&A: Follow up to questions about affirmative action:
“This is not about giving anyone extra protections or privileges, this is about making sure that everyone – regardless of sexual orientation – is provided the same protections against discrimination that you and I enjoy.”
Why public attitudes might be changing:
“As more people have become aware of friends and family members who are gay, attitudes have begun to shift at an accelerated pace. This is not about a generational shift in attitudes, this is about people changing their thinking as they recognize their friends and family members who are gay or lesbian.”
Conservative fundamentals:
“As people who promote personal responsibility, family values, commitment and stability, and emphasize freedom and limited government we have to recognize that freedom means freedom for everyone. This includes the freedom to decide how you live and to enter into relationships of your choosing, the freedom to live without excessive interference of the regulatory force of government.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Prep School Mitt

The WaPo is carrying a story today describing some pretty despicable behavior by 17 year-old Mitt Romney while in prep school (high school for rich kids). Mitt with some classmates held down a bleached blond headed kid and Mitt forcefully cut his hair has he cried for help. It's an ugly event.

I wouldn’t vote for Mitt Romney if he were the last man on earth, because I think Mitt is simply wrong on nearly every single issue from economic policy to foreign policy to social policy to transporting beloved family pets. I will go so far as to say that he would be a dangerous President given the neocons with whom he has surrounded himself, and who literally crave war with Iran and Syria.

But I have seen nothing about the way Mitt Romney has conducted his adult life whether in business or as a father and husband (pet owner? That’s another matter) that makes me think he is anything other than a good person. We just disagree.

To ask any candidate for public office, to answer for something that happened in high school or college, is going too far and is a perfect example of why so many Americans are turned off by the current political environment and media coverage.

The event described in the Washington Post is ugly, but it was nearly 50 years ago and there is zero evidence that his actions in prep school were a prelude to similar ugly behavior in adulthood. In fact, it appears that the opposite is true.

Now, lets move on to discuss these neocon lunatics that Romney is listening to who want war with Iran.

UPDATE: Romney has apologized for his childhood behavior,
Back in high school I did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by that I apologize,” Romney told FOX radio host Brian Kilmeade Thursday. “If I did stupid things, I’m afraid I’ve got to say sorry for it.”

Romney, 65, noted he graduated from high school nearly five decades ago, and said, “I’m quite a different guy now.” He admitted “I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks in high school and some of them might have gone too far, and I apologize.”
Maybe now is a good time for all Americans to apoligize for the mean things we did has children.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Shep Smith say GOP "on the wrong side of history"

Shep Smith thinks GOP is on the 'wrong side of history' on gay marriage.

I think Shep's days at Fox News are numbered. 

Is this election already over?

"Like a hand job in a Bangkok Bathhouse," Matt Taibbi thinks this presidential election is already over.
The people who work for the wire services and the news networks are physically incapable of writing sentences like, "This election is even more over than the Knicks-Heat series." They are required, if not by law then by neurological reflex, to describe every presidential campaign as "fierce" and "drawn-out" and "hotly-contested."

But this campaign, relatively speaking, will not be fierce or hotly contested. Instead it'll be disappointing, embarrassing, and over very quickly, like a hand job in a Bangkok bathhouse. And everybody knows it. It's just impossible to take Mitt Romney seriously as a presidential candidate. Even the news reporters who are paid to drum up dramatic undertones are having a hard time selling Romney as half of a titanic title bout.
A lot of people -- including nearly every professional Republican and most Democrats --  in Washington DC believes Romney is done.  But these are the same people who were just as convinced Hillary Clinton was a shoe-in to be the 44th President of the United States.

I think it's Obama's election to lose -- for all the reasons Matt lays out in Rolling Stone -- but I think Obama is very capable of losing this election.  While the US is leading the developed world in recovering from the Great Recession, no Republican is going to concede this, and I've no confidence Obama will call them on it anyway.

To win, Obama has to take off the gloves and pummel Romney into oblivion.  And I'm not sure he has it in him.  It's only in the last several weeks that Obama seems to come to understand that the GOP is not going to make deals with him (at least not deals they will keep) and he must engage them on every issue.

George Soros will spend $100M to aid Democrats

The good news is that George Soros and other left leaning financiers intend to spend $100M this election cycle.

 Soros, et al, don't want to get into a TV ad spending war with GOP Superpacs, but instead want to spend this money on grass roots groups in voter registration and grass roots organizing.

 The bad news (at least according to some) is Soros et al won't get into TV ad war with GOP Superpacs leaving Democrats exposed to what could be an unrelenting onslaught of months of negative ads.

The Obama campaign has a legendary ground game and has already poured millions of dollars into the battleground states.   In 2008, the Obama campaign rolled out a huge 50 state voter drive.  The fear is that the Soros spending will be redundant and counter-productive.

I've long advocated that liberal leaning outside groups need to pour money into very sophisticated voter registration drives targeting those groups most vulnerable to GOP attempts to prevent voting.  I'd love to see a national group organize college students on summer breaks into every state doing everything it takes to get voters registered.  Offer unemployed college students with an opportunity to get involved in a movement by providing them with housing (when necessary) and per diam for food and misc stuff.   College students are desirable because they are less likely to fall into scams and traps that embarrass campaigns.

Maybe Soros' money can go into such programs and Obama can move resources elsewhere?

Monday, May 07, 2012

Our American Land

....The McNicholas, the Posalskis, the Smiths, Zerillis too
The Blacks, the Irish, Italians, the Germans and the Jews
They come across the water a thousand miles from home
With nothing in their bellies but the fire down below

They died building the railroads, they worked to bones and skin
They died in the fields and factories, names scattered in the wind
They died to get here a hundred years ago, they're still dying now
Their hands that built the country we're always trying to keep out...

Hyde Park, London, 2009

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Sunlight Foundation's highlight reel of Gringrich attack ads on Romney

A fun little trip down memory lane.

Shep Smith is slowly losing his mind

Shep Smith's reaction to Romney's statement on Gingrich officially leaving the race is a classic. We're watching a man slowly come to the realization that he has gone through the looking glass.