Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The popular vote

Is still being counted. Media reports on popular vote total are often inaccurate because lazy reporters just look to election night numbers.

Dave Wasserman from the Cook Political Report is tracking and updating the popular vote totals as states report their final official numbers.

Dave's 2012 National Popular Vote Tracker is here. Knock yourself out with the data.

By the way, the current vote spread is well over 4 million votes and growing. Romney's percentage is regressing slowly to 47%.   This is important because the spread now overwhelms all third-party votes.

TPM's Reaping the Whirlwind postings

TPM's Josh Marshall has been posting reader emails he's received since the election under a "Reaping the Whirlwind" title.

These emails relate in very personal terms how much this election has meant to Americans who fall into the "other" category just as  Barack Obama does.

TPM reader JR is an Indian-American born and raised in Iowa to parents who immigrated from India. JR was inspired to write in response to reader KE. Here is a portion of 'JR's email.
When I was a small child in Ames, Iowa, in my immigrant family, neighborhood teenagers assaulted our home regularly, pelting fruit and whatever else at our house. Several times my dad had the police come and lecture this group of kids. It was all about race, and these kids’ parents did nothing. So when Mitt Romney in a Michigan stump speech snarks that no one asked him for his birth certificate, and his GOP allies defend the racism as “just a joke,” when so many GOP federal and state electeds endorse or tacitly condone questioning of Obama’s citizenry and engage in other dog whistle racism, these are always personal attacks equally on me…if Obama is not an American and does not legitimately belong, then they’re saying the same about me. I imagine I’m not alone, that people of color across the board see what I see, and the election results confirm this. It’s striking to me, and IMO underreported, that Obama clearly lost great amounts of white support in Florida and indeed his 37% in the exit poll with Florida whites has always been disastrous…and yet he wins the state with an absolute majority. It’s striking to me that the national exit poll has not only people of color increasing to 28% of the total, but also that it has both Hispanics and Asians giving over 70% to Obama. These things tell me that people of color across the board see what I see, an appalling racism and xenophobia in the Republican Party that is enraging. Sadly, the early signs of the post-election period show only continued GOP hostility, even more bitterness and resentment than before.
It's easy to get caught up in emotion immediately following an election, but the election of 2012 was a watershed in American history.

Doubters could and do write off 2008 as a vote against Bush and his party more than a vote for Obama.  The same cannot be said of 2012. A majority of Americans chose Barack Obama over a white man (perhaps the whitest man in America) and this was possible, as JR points out in his email, by an overwhelming turnout of non-white Americans.  I realize this sounds dramatic, but we are forever changed.

The Republican party has enormous problems going forward and in listening to them and watching them posture, it's clear that many (but not all) have no idea.  Romney proved there is no future in this country for a White Christianist party hostile to science and reason.

Romney ran to be the President of White Christianist America and won that election handily, which got him exactly nothing.  He will be watching President Obama's second inaugural address from the warm comfort of one of his many homes.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Warren Buffett wants A Minimum Tax for the Wealthy

This is something I've been thinking a good deal about recently. I've been picking the brains of friends about taxation rates with an eye toward bring equity to Federal taxation. It occurred to me that a minimum tax on the income of the very wealthy was probably the easiest and cleanest way to do this. I was thinking of 30% for all income (from any source) above $1 million, but I will go along with Warren.

Warren begins by outlining the incredible and growing disparity of income between the very wealthy and working people, and then offers an equitable solution, to wit,
...we need Congress, right now, to enact a minimum tax on high incomes. I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that. A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.

Above all, we should not postpone these changes in the name of “reforming” the tax code. True, changes are badly needed. We need to get rid of arrangements like “carried interest” that enable income from labor to be magically converted into capital gains. And it’s sickening that a Cayman Islands mail drop can be central to tax maneuvering by wealthy individuals and corporations.

But the reform of such complexities should not promote delay in our correcting simple and expensive inequities. We can’t let those who want to protect the privileged get away with insisting that we do nothing until we can do everything.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Battles remain, but the war is over and we have won -- David Simon says so

Andrew did me the considerable favor of pointing me to the blog of David Simon (creator of HBO's The Wire, Treme, etc).  It will become a regular read for me.

On the night Barack Obama was reelected, I realized that we had won the war.  The America represented by the current Republican Party is dead forever.  That doesn't mean there won't be setbacks -- if we're lucky and work hard, 2014 will only be a minor setback -- but there is no going back.  America is forever changed.

Since November 6th, I've struggled to capture in words how I felt.  I've sat down to write a half dozen times but just could not put into words, the significance of this election.

No need to struggle any further, David Simon has captured my feelings perfectly
Hard times are still to come for all of us. Rear guard actions will be fought at every political crossroad. But make no mistake: Change is a motherfucker when you run from it. And right now, the conservative movement in America is fleeing from dramatic change that is certain and immutable. A man of color is president for the second time, and this happened despite a struggling economic climate and a national spirit of general discontent. He has been returned to office over the specific objections of the mass of white men. He has instead been re-elected by women, by people of color, by homosexuals, by people of varying religions or no religion whatsoever. Behold the New Jerusalem. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a white man, of course. There’s nothing wrong with being anything. That’s the point.

This election marks a moment in which the racial and social hierarchy of America is upended forever. No longer will it mean more politically to be a white male than to be anything else. Evolve, or don’t. Swallow your resentments, or don’t. But the votes are going to be counted, more of them with each election. Arizona will soon be in play. And in a few cycles, even Texas. And those wishing to hold national office in these United States will find it increasingly useless to argue for normal, to attempt to play one minority against the next, to turn pluralities against the feared “other” of gays, or blacks, or immigrants, or, incredibly in this election cycle, our very wives and lovers and daughters, fellow citizens who demand to control their own bodies.
Please, please, please read the the entire essay which isn't long.

I'm a middle aged white guy who will likely fall into the category of those who will see their top marginal tax rate rise.  But none of that matters to me so long as I get to live in an America that is a multicultural melting pot that prospers while celebrating everyone's differences and provides a basic safety net for all that includes adequate health care and a guarantee that those who have worked their entire life can't die in poverty. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Watching a mother die where all abortions are illegal

A candlelit vigil outside University Hospital Galway in Ireland on Nov. 15, held in memory of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar, who died at the hospital. Photo: Cathal Mcnaughton/Reuters
The Republican party opposes abortion for any reason, including rape, incest and even to save a mother's life.

Ireland, a "Catholic nation," is a Republican dream. At the insistence of celibit men, Abortion in Ireland is illegal in all instances including where necessary to save the life of the mother.

And they will most assuredly watch a mother die, rather than allow her to safely terminate a fail pregnancy.
Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist who lived near Galway, Ireland, was 17 weeks pregnant when she was informed, on complaining of severe back pain, that she was having a miscarriage. Despite repeated requests for an abortion, she was told that Ireland is a Catholic country, said her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, and that it would be illegal to terminate a pregnancy while the fetus’s heart was still beating. A few days later, Dr. Halappanavar died of septicemia on Oct. 28 at the University Hospital Galway.
God's will?

This is the America Republicans promise us. Take it in and behold.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Barack Obama, General Slayer?

One of Andrew's astute readers has a very interesting take on Obama's handling of his Generals.
As Tom Ricks points out, quite compellingly, in the first chapters of his new book, The Generals, what we have witnessed since Vietnam is a slow, steady, deconstruction of accountability mechanisms for the military that reached its high point under Bush. Now one of the distinguishing features of Obama is his subtle, skillful reversal of these precedents - in a way which was at once non-confrontational and beneath the radar of political Washington. The Petraeus case is an excellent example - he was denied the post he most cherished (chair of the JCS) and instead given CIA. But he was required to set aside his uniform and give up his entourage of 50 (amazing!) who followed him in his final appointments. He was denied "special" access to the White House and the president while he ran CENTCOM and Afghanistan. He and other generals were told to treat the chain of command seriously.

Obama also has become the biggest general slayer since Harry S. Truman. He fired Stanley McChrystal and now David Petraeus, the man who flogged rumors about his own suitability for high political office. I don't see anything remotely Machiavellian about this. It was all rigorously application of good governance principles and rules of command authority. But the result we are now coasting towards is an unwinding of the distortions introduced by Bush and a restoration of America's historic notions of civilian-military relations - under which the generals are to be kept firmly out of politics and clearly accountable to elected civilian authority.
Much of this was possible because Obama kept Robert Gates on as Defense Secretary for the first 3 years or so of his administration. Gates was a Secretary of uncommon stature, as firm as he was intelligent and the Generals feared him. I really don't get the sense that Leon Panetta has Gates gravitas.

Obama, by the way, doesn't get enough credit for his truly impressive leadership which always shines in moments of crises.  Hurricane Sandy was just another example, and Republican Governor Chris Christie will attest.

The GOP's media cocoon

SNL's Fox and Friends
Jonathan Martin has an excellent article at Politico taking a long look at the problem with the Right's media cocoon.  Lots of good quotes from the Right's leading thinkers.

It was a jaw dropping moment for me when Romney was embarrassed in the third debate because he had erroneously believed right-wing propaganda that Pres Obama had not called the attack at Benghazi an act of terrorism.   I expect ignorance from my right-wing neighbor who gets most of his news from e-mail forwards and the rest from Fox.   I found it stunning to realize that Romney and those in his inner circle where equally ignorant of reality.  Then we had election night and all the talk of a "shell shocked" Romney and Ryan.  This really doesn't not speak well of the intelligence of all involved. 

I think the GOP is at least 4 more years away from again becoming a reality based party.  The only question in my mind is to what extent Democrats will squander this moment. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The vindication of Don Ward: Demographics don't work for the GOP

I have suffered mightily my friends, mostly for things I've gotten completely wrong.  But on this score, I was a God damn visionary. 

I've been saying for more than 10 years that the GOP we all know is not long for this world.  The changing demographics of America don't work for the Republican party as it currently exists.  I've had Republican friends literally laugh out loud at me when I would try to explain to them that the white America they embrace is quickly changing.

First Read this morning,
What happened last night was a demographic time bomb that had been ticking and that blew up in GOP faces. As the Obama campaign had assumed more than a year ago, the white portion of the electorate dropped to 72%, and the president won just 39% of that vote. But he carried a whopping 93% of black voters (representing 13% of the electorate), 71% of Latinos (representing 10%), and also 73% of Asians (3%). What’s more, despite all the predictions that youth turnout would be down, voters 18-29 made up 19% of last night’s voting population -- up from 18% four years ago -- and President Obama took 60% from that group.

Obama’s demographic edge creates this dilemma for the Republican Party: It can no longer rely on white voters to win national elections anymore, especially in presidential cycles. Indeed, according to the exit poll, 89% of all votes Mitt Romney won last night came from whites (compared with 56% for Obama). So the Republicans are maximizing their share with white voters; they just aren’t getting the rest. And come 2016, the white portion of the electorate will probably drop another couple of points to 70%.
Politico's Jonathan Martin cuts to the chase,
Battling a wheezing economy and a deeply motivated opposition, Obama still managed to retain much of his 2008 map because of the GOP’s deficiencies with the voters who are changing the political face of once conservative-leaning Virginia, Florida, Colorado and Nevada. Republicans face a crisis: the country is growing less white and their coalition has become more white in recent years. In 2004, George W. Bush won [about 40 percent] of Hispanics. Four years later, John McCain, the author of an immigration reform bill, took 31 percent of Hispanics. And this year, Romney captured only 27 percent of Hispanics.
And barring a seismic shift in the Republican Party, it's only going to get worse.  50,000 Latinos turn 18 every month!

10 years from now Florida will be behind the Blue Wall and Texas and Arizona will be swing states.

But I do believe the Republican Party will change.  After all, their hateful white man base is dying at an alarming rate 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Democratic electoral advantage: The Blue Wall

Democrats come into presidential elections with a lock on 242 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.  This is an advantage they didn't have even 20 years ago.

Ron Brownstein calls this advantage "The Blue Wall"
If Obama wins Ohio, the only realistic way for Romney to win is to crack what I've called the "blue wall" -- the 18 states that have voted Democratic in each of the past five presidential elections. Here's why: the blue-wall states, which include the 11 states from Maryland to Maine (except New Hampshire); the three West Coast states plus Hawaii; and Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin in the Upper Midwest, offer a combined 242 Electoral College votes (including the District of Columbia). If Obama holds that 242, adds the five votes from New Mexico (that both sides assume he will), the six from Nevada (which appear increasingly solid in his corner) and Ohio's 18, that gives him 271, regardless of what happens in any other swing state.
This advantage exists, by the way, as a result of GOP extremism in reproductive rights.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Ohio Reality Check

Ohio is not a toss-up.

Nate Silver against the World

or at least the pundit glass.

Nate has grown tired of pundits who don't understand the math and probabilities and who, Nate believes, continue to mischaracterize the state of the Presidential race.  Nate took particular exception to Joe Scarborough who was taking aim at Nate when he said, "Anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue ... they're jokes."

Dashiell Bennett from The Atlantic Wire,
Silver has spent the week firing back, criticizing political pundits for not understanding how odds and probability work and aggressively defending his method against critics. As the week has progressed, his model has only shown Obama's chances of winning increasing, which has not coincidentally increased Silver's confidence in the outcome. (As of this morning, Five Thirty Eight gives Obama a 79 percent chance of winning, with a final Electoral College total over 300.)
It's important to remember a couple things. There is an entire industry that lives on claiming this race is a toss up, and they aren't going to let any mathematical model put them out of business. The tight polls give them plenty to talk about.

Joe Scarborough is a partisan. That's not a criticism, that is a fact. I like Joe and often watch Morning Joe, but he's a Republican too his core and he's going to push the 'Romney can win this' meme until the votes are counted.

As for me?  My money is on Nate.