Posts Tagged ‘Democrats’

GOP South Looks Sort of Like South Dakota

Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 10:11 am
By: RadioActive Chief
3 Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Democratic South finally falls

Once upon a time, the South was known as the “Solid South” for the Donkey Party and “yellow-dog Democrats” kept it that way. (The name came from a proudly stated determination that they would vote for a yellow dog, if it was on the Democratic ballot.)

Times have changed, and this report on the current situation shows a real similarity between what’s happening in the south and the current condition of party politics in SOUTH Dakota.

For Democrats in the South, the most ominous part of a disastrous year may not be what happened on Election Day but what has happened in the weeks since. After suffering a historic rout — in which nearly every white Deep South Democrat in the U.S. House was defeated and Republicans took over or gained seats in legislatures across the region — the party’s ranks in Dixie have thinned even further.

THe gory details of what’s happening in Dixie have some resemblance to events in SD:

In Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama, Democratic state legislators have become Republicans, concluding that there is no future in the party that once dominated the so-called Solid South.

Hmmm. Nygaard’s jump in the SD Senate comes readily to mind.

The realignment in the South has resulted in more similarity to SD – with the GOP in control of both houses of the legislatures…in many cases for the first time since the post-Civil War reconstruction ended in the 1870’s.

The losses and party switching, one former Southern Democratic governor noted, “leave us with little bench for upcoming and future elections. There’s little reason to be optimistic in my region,…We can opportunistically pick up statewides every now and then, but building a sustainable party program isn’t in the cards.

Looks like the situation of the SD Donkeys at this point. While the benefits of a vigorous “loyal opposition” certainly are worth talking about…there is no entitlement for any party to hold power, win elections, etc. At some point, a pattern of overwhelming defeat HAS to be a big clue that there is a lack of situational awareness, and that there is a major disconnect between the afflicted party and the voters.

If any party continues to advocate and stand for policies and principles that the sovereign voters decide they want no part of, then what else could be expected than a pattern of electoral defeat and political stagnation. In the here and now, as long as the Democratic Party continues, like a stubborn donkey to adhere to the failed liberal-progressive paradigm, they will continue their slide, and IMHO, will deserve nothing more.

Meanwhile, if the Republicans assume they now have a license to play “politics as usual” and turn away from principles, they can easily end up in the same political dust-bin as the Democrats. Time will tell.

Cognitive Dissonance is the System Democrats Live in

Posted: Monday, November 8, 2010 at 11:20 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
Comments Off | Trackback Bookmark and Share

cat-on-a-hot-newman-244x300Cognitive dissonance is defined as the discomfort someone feels when he or she tries to hold onto two contradictory ideas at the same time.  I suggest that the term ought to be enlarged to include the discomfort one is bound to experience when holding onto ideas that are manifestly at odds with the real world.

For example: the Obama Administration has criticized Israel for building new housing for Jews in East Jerusalem.  This is an obstacle to the peace process.  Secretary of Defense Gates has criticized Israeli PM Netanyahu for stating bluntly that only a credible military threat can encourage Iran to consider dropping its bid for nuclear weapons.  Secretary of Defense Gates is appalled.  He insists that our current negotiation strategy is working.

The problem is that there is no such thing as a genuine peace process for there is no player on the Palestinian side that is willing or able to make peace, let alone both; and the Administration’s negotiations with Iran, like those of its predecessor, haven’t slowed the Iranians down by a single day or a single ounce of radioactive material.  Our Middle East policies are based on fantasies, and those fantasies require a lot of mental energy to maintain.

Meanwhile here at home cognitive dissonance is the order of the day.  The Democrats seem about to reinstall Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as party leaders.  I endorsed this move in my last post, but I was kidding.  Michael Tomasky of the British Guardian doesn’t get the joke.

You lose 65 seats, you resign. Period. There should not be a question.

No, there shouldn’t be a question.  It doesn’t matter if Pelosi did the right thing as Speaker or if she will be effective in the minority.  Firing the coach is a necessary step to coming to grips with a humiliating loss.  If you don’t believe me, ask former Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips who got sacked after the Packers beat him 45-7.  Or ask Newt Gingrich.

Not firing the coach means not coming to terms.  Period.  Not coming to terms is what the Democrats specialize in these days.  The supporters of the current Congressional leadership say that the last two years were an age of heroes.  We did the right thing, and damn the voters, I mean, the torpedoes.

Okay, but when Pelosi urged her line out of the trenches, she didn’t tell them they were going to lose 65 seats.  She told them that forward was the way to winning the next election.  She told them that the Democrats lost big in 94 because they were cowards.  She told them that if they were brave this time, they would reap the fruits of victory.  She and Generalissimo Obama told them that if they would only push forward, the health care bill would become popular.

Well.  The game is over and the staff is raking up the confetti.  Obama is patiently taking responsibility while evading responsibility.  He tells us that the Democrats spent too much time getting things done and not enough time playing the political game.  I hope he knows he is telling a bald faced lie.  God help us if he believes what he is saying.

The President gave over thirty speeches during the health care debates.  All the wrangling over Congressional Budget Office numbers had nothing to do with policy and everything to do with manipulating the spin in the press.  Surely he can’t not know that.

Even if he does, it is clear that the Democrats are suffering from cognitive dissonance.  Reinstalling Coaches Reid and Pelosi is evidence enough.  The dissonance is on full display in the Oval Office.  From the Politico:

President Barack Obama has performed his act of contrition. Now comes the hard part, according to Democrats around the country: reckoning with the simple fact that he’s isolated himself from virtually every group that matters in American politics.

Congressional Democrats consider him distant and blame him for their historic defeat on Tuesday. Democratic state party leaders scoff at what they see as an inattentive and hapless political operation. Democratic lobbyists feel maligned by his holier-than-thou take on their profession. His own Cabinet — with only a few exceptions — has been marginalized.

His relations with business leaders could hardly be worse…  Add in his icy relations with Republicans, the media and, most important, most voters, and it’s easy to understand why his own staff leaked word to POLITICO that it wants Obama to shake up his staff and change his political approach.

It should be a no-brainer for a humbled Obama to move quickly after Tuesday’s thumping to try to repair these damaged relations, and indeed, in India on Sunday, he acknowledged the need for “midcourse corrections.”

But many Democrats privately say they are skeptical that Obama is self-aware enough to make the sort of dramatic changes they feel are needed — in his relations with other Democrats or in his very approach to the job.

That “self-aware” comment makes my point.  “Mendacity is the system we live in” said Brick or Big Daddy, I forget which.  I would change “mendacity” to “cognitive dissonance”.  We are awash in it.

Coming to terms with defeat, or not

Posted: Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 12:42 am
By: Ken Blanchard
1 Comment | Trackback Bookmark and Share

margaritavilleSome people say that there’s a woman to blame
but I know: it’s my own damn fault

Those who have just been shellacked in an election would do well to listen to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaretville a few times, while searching for their lost shaker of salt.  When Republicans get shellacked they inevitably whine about the biased press.  That’s a little bit harder now that Fox News dominates Cable, but when did reason ever persuade the wounded heart?

In 2006 and 2008 the Republicans got shellacked nationally.  It didn’t happen because the other side cheated or because the press was biased or because the moon was in Virgo.  They got beat because they lost the confidence of the electorate. In a Republic that’s getting beat fair and square.

In South Dakota this year the Democrats got shellacked from top to bottom.  My esteemed Keloland Colleague and NSU Colleague Emeritus, David Newquist, is ready with excuses.  He blames the “the socio-economic factors affecting the Democratic Party in South Dakota.”  He doesn’t spell out those factors, but it doesn’t much matter.  In politics, as in golf, you have to play the ball where it lies.

I think it is a scandal that the Democrats did not run a candidate against John Thune.  David again is ready with excuses.  He seems to think that Senator Thune will do such terrible things to an opponent that no human being could dare to challenge him.  I think that that is utter nonsense.  Republicans Rand Paul in Kentucky and Daniel Webster in Florida bore up under much worse abuse than any candidate has ever dished out in South Dakota.  Instead of turning pale and withdrawing, they fought and won.  I cannot believe that Democrats in South Dakota are such cowards as David imagines them to be.  I think that the uncontested Senate race, the first in the state’s history, was a deliberate strategy.

Nationally, Democrats are looking for their own excuses.  One of the most common ones is that President Obama let his foes define him.  Here is E.J. Dionne:

President Obama allowed Republicans to define the terms of the nation’s political argument for the past two years and permitted them to draw battle lines the way they wanted. Neither he nor his party can let that happen again.

That’s just another version of the standard excuse used by both sides after bad news: the voters didn’t reject us or our policies!  We just didn’t explain ourselves properly.

Nonsense on stilts.  When President Obama put forth health care reform as his highest priority (among his other highest priorities), he very clearly defined the terms of the argument.  Health care reform would “bend the cost curve downward,” i.e, health care reform would save the nation money spent on medicine.  The problem was that no one believed it because it obviously wasn’t true.  Even if you believe the CBO estimates, the best you are going to get out of the health care bill is a wash.  But the CBO estimates always include caveats indicating that the savings in the bill depend on Congress doing things that it has always promised to do but has never actually managed to do.

Here’s why the Democrats took a bath in this election: First, the economy is in dreadful shape.  The President today praised the unexpected growth in private sector jobs.  But that growth is not enough to make up for population growth, let alone enough to depress the unemployment numbers.  Voters are hurting.

But there are two kinds of pain.  One is the kind you have when you break your ankle.  It really smarts, but you aren’t too worried because you figure you are going to get better soon enough.  The other is the kind of pain that makes you think that something much worse is happening, something that you won’t get over.  Pain plus existential fear is a lot worse than just pain.

The trillion dollars a year deficits we are running really worry a lot of us.  They make us wonder whether the economic pain we are suffering isn’t more like the persistent cough or the ache in the gut that won’t go away.  Maybe the whole system is sick.  Does the President have any plan to put us back on the road to fiscal health?  That is one thing that he didn’t define very well.

The deficits are the second thing that weighed down the Democrats.  The third thing was the health care bill.  As the economy stalled and the deficits mounted, the Democrats spent all their energies not on the present crisis but on the thing that they have wanted for decades.  The people didn’t want it.  The voters expressed their dismay not only in opinion polls but in actual elections, but the Democrats in Congress pushed ahead anyway.  That was the third thing.

The economy, the deficits, and the health care bill, in that order, did the Democrats in.  They ought to come to terms with that.  It might not get better.

The Sad State of South Dakota Democrats

Posted: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 11:47 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
6 Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

mcgovernI grew up in a one party state.  I escaped in my early twenties by driving my Ford Maverick across the borders when an ice storm confused the authorities.  The one party state was Arkansas, and I can tell you that it was not a model of political excellence.

One party states encourage corruption and diminish the power of the voters to punish it.  Voters can rarely get a grasp of the powers that work around the tables, day to day, in their state government offices.  When there are two competitive parties, voters can punish large blocks of legislators.  With each party hoping to gain on the other in the next election, there is some general incentive for reducing corruption and promoting good government.  When there is only one effective party, the worst excesses result in a few individuals taking all the blame.  The larger body of scoundrels remains immune to censure.

As state governments go, the Republic of South Dakota is pretty good.  Unlike, say, California, there are fewer forces corrupting our legislative chambers and our state house.  But we should worry when one of our two great parties seems to be fading faster than tomatoes after the first frost.

Yesterday South Dakota Democrats failed to win a single state wide race.  The gubernatorial election was won by a Republican, which happens so often you’d think it’s in the state constitution.  The constitutional offices were swept by the GOP.  Our lone representative to the U.S. Congress, Representative Herseth Sandlin, lost by a narrow but sufficient margin to her Republican opponent.  To her credit, Herseth Sandlin was the only Democrat to win more than 40% of the vote in a state wide race.  Our junior U.S. Senator, John Thune, had no opponent.  This was the only non-contested Senate race in the nation and the first in the state’s history.

I heard a rumor that the Democrats decided not to field a Senate candidate in order to reduce Senator Thune’s incentive to involve himself in this year’s state politics.  I have no idea if that is true, and if it isn’t I apologize for repeating it.  If it is true, it’s damning.  I mention it because I can’t understand why else they couldn’t find someone, anyone, to run.  The uncontested race is a scandal in itself.

If all that weren’t bad enough, the showing of Democrats showing in the state legislative races was worse.  Democrats won just 20 out of the 70 seats in the state House of Representatives.  I haven’t calculated the vote totals, but that’s less than a third of the House.

It doesn’t get better in the State Senate, where Democrats won just six of thirty five seats.  That’s going to stretch those six Senators mighty thin across the Senate committees.

To say that the South Dakota Democratic Party is in disarray is misleading.  The problem is not organizational but existential.  The party is on the point of going clean out of business.  It is effectively dysfunctional.  Maybe the State House is beyond their reach, but clearly the House and Senate seats are not.  The party is going to need someone to run against Kristi Noem in two years.  Tim Johnson is going to retire, sooner or later.  In those contests, the Democrats have no bench.

South Dakota needs a viable opposition party.  It needs someone like George McGovern to reorganize it, county by county, rebuilding the local party apparatus.  Someone like Tom Daschle could have done that.  But Daschle, set free by defeat, had neither the time nor the interest for his state or its affairs.  What is Stephanie Herseth Sandlin going to do, now that she has time on her hands?  I am guessing she is not going to stick around.

There is a tragic flaw in the South Dakota Democrat.  The best of that species tend to look beyond our borders for greater things.  The voters frequently recognize that, and in an act of grace, set them free.  Meanwhile, the party withers.  This is not good for Democrats in the state, or for the state itself.

One last Nugget of Nerd’s Candy from the House Race

Posted: Saturday, October 30, 2010 at 11:30 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
Comments Off | Trackback Bookmark and Share

weather sdThe SD U.S. House race remains the most interesting election in South Dakota, both here and nationally.  My colleague Professor Schaff has done a great job of putting some of the numbers in perspective.  I can’t resist making some final comments.  This is my last post on this race.  No foolin’.

As weather patterns become visible to meteorologists when they create models based on pressure systems and fronts, so voting patterns become visible to political scientists when they build models consisting of voting blocks and population dynamics.

In the U.S., the most important voting blocks are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.  The outcome of an election is determined by three factors: 1) the relative size of each voting bloc; 2) the direction each bloc is moving; and 3) how much of each bloc turns out.

While candidates try very hard to influence all three of these factors, they really have only a marginal influence.  A good candidate running a good campaign can change the final outcome only if the forces are in virtual balance.  The only thing that is likely to shift the forces described above in a dramatic way is a scandal serious enough to undermine one of the candidates.

In the South Dakota House race, the first factor is easy to gage.  According to the Secretary of State’s website, voter registration numbers are:

Republican    237, 809

Democrat      194,204

Independent  85,296

That obviously gives the Republican a significant advantage but it also means that independent voters will decide the election.  If the Republican advantage over Democrats holds in the election and if independents split or break Republican, then the Republican will win.  The Democrat can win if independents break strongly enough in her direction.

Of course, some registered Republicans will vote for the Democrat and vice versa.  That is the second factor.  Professor Schaff’s post parses the numbers.  Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is a familiar incumbent and she has clearly done a good job of attracting Republican votes in the past.  According to the Keloland poll (Mason-Dixon) HS is doing a bit better at attracting Republican votes than Noem at attracting Democrats.

It seems likely that the third factor will be most important in determining the outcome here as it has been doing elsewhere.  Polls showing Herseth Sandlin leading all assume that Democratic turnout will be at least as robust this year as in the last two years.  Indeed almost all the difference in the various polls results from differences in estimating this factor.

All year long Republicans have enjoyed two major advantages in state after state.  Republican voters are turning out in large numbers and independent voters are swinging robustly toward the GOP.  This is measured not only in opinion polls but in actual elections and primary elections.  More people voted in Republican primaries this year than in Democratic primaries, something that is unprecedented.

It is possible, to be sure, that South Dakota will buck that trend.  Democrats may turn out in numbers more like those in 2008.  Republicans and independents may not show the pronounced preference for GOP candidates that the polls indicate nationally.

The only real numbers we have to go on suggest something else.  Here are the numbers of new registered voters in each voting bloc since Oct. 1st.

Republican      1,903

Independent   1,497

Democrat            900

These numbers measure two things, both of which are more real than poll samples.  One is people bothering to register to vote.  The other is people bothering to encourage them to register.  A more than two to one advantage for Republicans over Democrats suggests that the national GOP wave is building here as it is elsewhere.  Among recent registered voters, the Democrats have become a third party.

This post on the House race and my last are nerd’s candy.  I don’t know what is going to happen on Tuesday, and neither do you.  I am not a gambling man but, if I were, I’d bet on a Noem victory.  Three days from now we will know whether I would have collected.

Democrats Devour Themselves

Posted: Friday, October 29, 2010 at 11:29 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
Comments Off | Trackback Bookmark and Share

goya.saturn-sonThere is a sinister force stalking the land, conspiring against Democrats.  That sinister force turns out to be Democrats.  It appears that Bill Clinton tried to persuade Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek to drop out of the Florida Senate race.  It also appears that he did not.  When asked about it, Republican turned independent Charlie Crist says he can’t remember.  Apparently, when Clinton didn’t ask Meek to drop out he in fact persuaded Meek to drop out, but Meek later decided not to drop out although, mind you, there was never any deal that he drop out.

Now that we have that straight, what the heck is going on here?  In two recent polls Republican Marco Rubio is twenty points ahead of Charlie Crist, who is somewhere between seven and fourteen points ahead of Meeks.  However, in only one poll is Rubio’s support more than that of Crist and Meeks combined.  If President Clinton could have persuaded Meeks to official drop out and throw his support to Crist, which he apparently did and didn’t do, and if Crist then gained all of Meek’s support without losing any of his own, then Crist might have had a chance to win the Senate seat he so dearly covets.  Senator Crist would then have caucused with the Democrats.  Point Obama.

It might not have worked out that way.  A race reduced to Rubio v. Crist would have forced voters to make up their minds about Crist, and they might not be so forgetful as Crist apparently is.  Nonetheless, that looks like the only viable strategy that the Democrats have for winning that Senate seat.  They desperately want to win it, not only for one more vote in the upper house, but to stop Marco Rubio.  Rubio is smart, articulate, and Cuban.  He has a made for TV face and hairdo.  This is what Democratic strategists have nightmares about.

If Bill Clinton did in fact persuade or try to persuade Meeks to drop out of the race, it wouldn’t have been illegal or immoral, nor would it have contributed to global warming.  It would have been embarrassing all the same.  Trying to torpedo an African American Democrat, and by all accounts a very capable candidate, in favor of a very White, formerly Republican independent wouldn’t inspire confidence in the party.  If the only way the Democrats can win that Senate seat is by running someone who isn’t a Democrat…

Can’t anyone keep a secret these days?  This is the second such pseudo scandal to trouble the Democrats this year.  They did and did not try to persuade Joe Sestak to drop out of the Senate Democratic nomination race in Pennsylvania.  There is nothing improper about this but it would be better to handle it behind closed doors.  Apparently rooms don’t have doors anymore.  In that case, isn’t it better to just be honest?  The Democrats keep embarrassing themselves, but that might be because they have no better options.

If folks at the top of the Democratic food chain are reduced to eating their young, the young are biting back.  Dozens of House Democrats are running against their own party leadership.  The Democrats have a chance to hold onto the Senate seat in West Virginia, but only because Governor Manchin is running as a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-Obama candidate.  Manchin actually shot a sign with “cap and trade” on it with a rifle in a campaign commercial.  He favors repeal of ObamaCare.  With Democrats like this, what does one need a Tea Party for?

There is someone out to get the Democrats.  It’s the Democrats.  This is what their party achieved over the last two years.

The Deficit Dog Chasing Its Tail

Posted: Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 11:20 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
1 Comment | Trackback Bookmark and Share

When a dog is chasing its tail, it might amuse the dog and it certainly amuses spectators but one can be pretty certain that the animal isn’t likely to accomplish anything.  Right now the Democrats seem to be chasing their own tails and they do not seem to be amusing themselves even if it gives me a laugh.

President Clinton, a man with a great future behind him, is right now the hottest act on the Democratic stage.  From Philip Rucker at the Washington Post:

Bill Clinton is baffled. The former president’s friends say he is in disbelief that in the closing weeks of the midterm campaigns Democrats have failed to articulate a coherent message on the economy and, worse, have allowed themselves to become “human pinatas.”

So Clinton is deploying himself on a last-ditch, dawn-to-dusk sprint to rescue his beleaguered party. And as the only president in modern times who has balanced the federal budget, he is leveraging his credibility to become one of the most fierce defenders of President Obama’s economic policies.

The spinning going on in that second paragraph is enough to make one reach for the wall with one hand and a bottle of Pepto Bismol with the other.  Yes, to his credit, President Clinton balanced the budget.  He did so with the help of a Republican Congress.

So now he is “leveraging his credibility” as a deficit hawk to defend the policies of a President who has signed onto deficits of well over a trillion dollars a year.  He is rushing around the country to try to prevent the voters from giving President Obama the Republican majority that made his own fiscal policy possible.  One wonders that the dog has not collapsed with exhaustion.

As for the first paragraph, this is one of the most familiar conceits of politicians.  If only we had done a better job of articulating a coherent message on the economy, the voters would approve of our policies.  If ever that is plausible, it fades into self-deception when the President has given scores of speeches over more than a year and the President’s myriad allies in the Press have worn out laptop keyboards trying to articulate that message.

The problem we face is that our government, like those of our European allies, has been fiscally irresponsible for decades.  Just right now the British government is trying to get its fiscal house in order.  As one articulate back bencher put it, the previous government ran all out of “our money.”  What is the response of President Obama’s allies in the press?

The New York Times is appalled.

There is a time and a place for aggressive deficit reduction. Now is not the time, especially not in Britain.

One can only scratch one’s head.  Whenever did the New York Times call for “aggressive deficit reduction”?  Now is never the time, and especially not, well, here.  That paragon of honest economics, Paul Krugman, regards Britain’s attempts to keep their state from going belly up financially as an unfortunate fashion statement.  Fiscal responsibility is like wanting to wear a funny hat.  Spending money so fast it would scare the salt off a drunken sailor, that’s rational policy.  Okay.  It is not inconceivable that they might be right.

If they are, what sense does it make to send Bill Clinton out to rally the base on the strength of his record as a deficit hawk?  It only makes sense if the Democrats know that the electorate does not believe what the party believes.  The Democratic dog is chasing its tail.

There’s Something about an Aqua Buddha Man

Posted: Monday, October 18, 2010 at 11:17 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
1 Comment | Trackback Bookmark and Share

My Keloland Colleague David Newquist warned us about a witch hunt in America, and boy was he ever right.  Here is a commercial approved by Kentucky Senate Candidate and Attorney General Jack Conway.


Without even asking about the facts behind the allegations, isn’t this an appalling piece of work?  With talk of “a Secret society” that “called the Holy Bible a hoax,” “that was banded for mocking Christianity and Christ,” this sounds like something produced by Pastor Terry Jones.  Jack Conway is pointing his finger at Paul and yelling “Witch!”

It gets better.

Why did Rand Paul once tie a woman up, tell her to bow down before a false idol, and say his god was Aqua Buddha.

Aqua Buddha?  False idols?  I have no idea what a watery Siddhartha might be, but does Jack Conway really know which idols are false?  I know people who keep their gods in a kitchen cabinet.  No doubt Attorney General Conway would eye these Hindus with pious suspicion.

The lines above, from the Conway ad, are based on an account by an anonymous source.  The story was reported by GQ, which described what seemed to be a kidnapping committed by Paul and his roommate.  That is the way much of the press reported it.  Paul flatly denies the kidnapping charge.  The Washington Post reports that the woman came forward and confirmed the events but made it clear that it was entirely voluntary.

“He did not drug me,” she said. “He did not force me physically in any way.”

She said they then “took me out to this creek and made me worship Aqua Buddha.” And she added that the whole thing was so “weird” that afterwards she ended relations with Paul and his friends.

To say that the witness came forward, however, is not true.  She did talk to the Post, but she remains anonymous.

Rand Paul has flatly denied the kidnapping charge, but not, I think, all the details of the account.  In fact, he shouldn’t have to.  The woman telling the story may have good reason to want to remain anonymous.  It is nonetheless the case that anonymous accusations are worse than worthless.  A responsible press would leave this sort of thing to The National Inquirer or The Star.  Anonymous accusations allow any party of ill-will and no scruples to blacken the reputation of anyone.  Such accusations should stain the reputation of anyone who repeats them.

To base a negative campaign ad on an anonymous accusation is proof positive that Jack Conway is a man of no honor.  He is a scoundrel, who will win at any cost.

If Conway’s ad had left it at that, it would be enough to give us the measure of the man.  He went further.

Why does Rand Paul now want to end all federal faith-based initiatives and even end the deduction for religious charities?

This is something much worse than a personal attack against Rand Paul.  That line alone, if produced by a Republican campaign, would be regarded by Democrats as evidence of an American Taliban.  Wouldn’t it?

Conway’s ad is clearly suggesting that opposition to government support for faith-based initiatives is evidence of sinister, unchristian motives.  For Heaven’s sake, aren’t a lot, if not most Democrats opposed to faith-based initiatives?  Isn’t Conway, in effect, adding most of his party to a list of suspects for the inquisition?  Like most Americans, I am comfortable with tax deductions for religious institutions.  Should anyone who opposes such deductions be branded as worshiper of Aqua Buddha?

I am no big fan of Rand Paul.  Like his father, he seems to me to be a bit of a wild card.  I don’t care much about what a wild and crazy guy he was thirty years ago as a college student.  If I were registered to vote in Kentucky, I would only want to know whether he respected people of faith.  Based on Conway’s perfidious commercial, I would at least know who to vote against.

All year long Democrats and their allies in the Press have looked for evidence of intolerance in Tea Party signs.  They have found nothing as nasty as Conway’s ad.  It represents everything they claim to oppose.  If they are inclined to denounce it, they have mostly resisted the inclination.

Ps.  Chris Matthews, of all people, took Conway to task.  See the Daily Caller.

The dumb guy prevails

Posted: Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 8:35 am
By: David Newquist
2 Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

David Letterman made an acute political observation to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair Tuesday night.  He said that if you had four people in a room, and three were smart guys and one was a dumb guy,  the dumb guy would prevail.

He was referring to what passes for political discussion today and the emergence of candidates who are intellectually challenged or downright loopy.  People are in high profile political contests today who in the past would have been dismissed as totally incompetent, and who we would probably never have heard of in more thoughtful times.  But the dumb guy prevails.

Most political discourse today is utterly stupid.  And a goodly number of people are giving up on the political system the dumb ones are influencing.  One of the reasons the dumb guy is prevailing is digital communication.  Political discourse has descended to the level of middle school squabbling.  Some celebrate the advent of the Internet and web blogs for giving ordinary people a voice.  The dumb guy has found a way to amplify his voice and to find networks of  other dumb guys. Rather than enhance communication, digital electronics has reduced it to the rituals of dominance and submission of the  lower order animals.  Text and twitter messages, aside from observing no standards of literacy, are largely grunts and howls.  And much of the blogosphere is taken up with middle school taunts, insult, abuse, the utterances of dumb guys too lazy or inherently incapable of civil discourse.

This is not to say that informing and intelligent information is not available on the Internet.  Yesterday the Internet aggregator contained two items that reflect the state of politics and discourse.   Bob Mercer notes that the Democratic Party in South Dakota is lagging behind in voter registration. Tim Gebhart reviews a book that may explain some of the  reasons why the Democratic principles do not generate more enthusiasm among voters. My own observations involving voter interest are informed by Tim Gebhart’s summary of the book The Anti-American Manifesto by Ted Rall.

As for the decline in interest among those would seem to be attracted to Democratic programs, I have noted a number of times on this web log how many people I know have left South Dakota, mentally if not physically.  I also commented about the problems with finding someone to run against John  Thune.  Candidates who were being recruited to run for office were adamant in their refusals to subject their families and friends to the libels  and falsehoods that characterized Thune’s campaign against Tom Daschle in 2004.  Furthermore, these people reflect a trend to invest their cultural and intellectual energies in other places.    That is why many people are who are allied with Democratic programs are diffident about voting in South Dakota.  Their interests are invested where they have a better chance of being realized.  Among colleagues of my  age who have retired,  I note that the vast majority leave the state.

The examples are anecdotal, but the individual anecdotes add up to a noticeable trend.  That trend is further illustrated in a mailing list of active supporters I have had the responsibility of maintaining over the years.  Every mailing results in a return of letters of 2 to 3 percent.  There are, of course, deaths that account for some of the names we remove from the list.  But the bulk of the returns is from people who have moved to other areas of the country.  In recent years, that list has shrunk by more than 30 percent, and few people are added.  A common response we get from people we approach to add to the list is that they are sympathetic with the Democratic program, but do not want to get involved with politics as they are practiced today.  Attrition has had its effect on people who would vote Democratic, but many of the people who support Democratic causes have come to believe that the political system has become incapable of reflecting their interests.

The election of President Obama was driven largely by the promise of change.  He was given a huge majority in the House and Senate in support.  There are those who disagree with his programs, but rather than engage in legislative negotiations to work out agreements, the Republicans have deliberately thrown government into a state of total dysfunction.  The raging malevolence of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Ann Coulter became the guiding principles of Republican tactics, and we found out that,  like insurgent attackers in Iraq and Afghanistan, a minority could totally disable government and make it irrelevant to the lives of the people it is supposed to serve.  While the tea party movement has had the press, the discussions in the media over the meaning of polls have never covered those people who have given up on the system and are in a state of quiet withdrawal.  Tim Gebhart quotes Ted Rall in that regard:

Unless you’re hopelessly self-deluded or stupid, you have to accept the painful truth. Under the current triumvirate of state power currently presiding over our lives — governmental, corporate and media — you have no more ability to change anything important — e.g. the way the economy is managed, or which countries and people are being attacked by the armies you pay for — than a medieval serf or a German under Nazism did in the past, or a detainee in a secret CIA prison somewhere does now.

Rall suggests that the only solution is revolution.   Tim summarizes Rall’s point-of-view:

Not only is necessary change not coming, he believes it never will. Rational people, then, have only one choice, which is to take things into their own hands and start over. Even if people don’t, the system is going to collapse on itself and revolution will be forced upon us. He believes it better to be proactive than reactive. Whether that call to action will succeed is another question altogether.

The suggestion that revolution is the solution to our current dysfunction is one I have heard hinted at by many people.  They are not advocating revolution, but they seem to accept the idea that it is probably the only way to change the direction in which the country is headed.  A colleague who is an authority on journalism and rhetoric says that the country has shifted from the rhetoric of opposition to the rhetoric of war.  He says that the focus is not to produce compromise and change, but to incite hatred.  He cites Limbaugh and Beck and Coulter as the most obvious proponents of it.  He makes the point that the rhetoric of war-level hatred does what it is intended to:  make war.

Those who find that America has become unredeemable do not have the political solutions available that their ancestors did.  My grandparents were all immigrants who found no economic and cultural opportunities in their fatherland, and a state endorsed religion had become an oppressive force.  They moved to America.  The people I know who have left South Dakota did so  for essentially the same reasons.  But where does one go when the whole country follows the trend of South Dakota?  There may be other places to recreate America, but the world has shrunk.  Revolution may, indeed, be forced upon us.

Iraq, Afghanistan, and Mexico give us a caution.  Revolution can take the form of an extended, mindless feud.  The dumb guy prevails.

Good Witch, Bad Witch. Red Witch, Blue Witch

Posted: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 10:26 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
1 Comment | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Ah, it seems like only yesterday that David Newquist was warning us about witch hunts by Republicans.  What I want to know about Christine O’Donnell is this: is she a good witch or a bad witch?  Likewise I want to know if Chris Coons is a good bearded Marxist or a bad one.  File this one under silliest Senate campaign.  It does look as though the Buckley Rule would have been the wiser rule for Delaware Republicans to follow.  O’Donnell is behind by double digits in two polls.  Still, I wouldn’t count her out as quickly as a lot of people have.  We have seen too many Republicans come from far behind to dead even or comfortably ahead this year.  Delaware is an odd blue wonder, but it is not on another planet.

Two recent polls have the Democrats ahead by one generic point.  Has there been a shift?  Maybe, but Gallup has been bouncing violently between big Republican leads and dead even for weeks, shifts no other poll has found.  Sandwiched between the two is Rasmussen, which has a much larger sample and uses a likely voter model.  He has the Republicans up by 10.

Meanwhile we have some rather astonishing polls from a couple of Senate races.  In West Virginia, Rasmussen has Governor Joe Manchin up seven over Republican John Raese.  But the Democratic outfit PPP has Raese up by three.  What to think?  If Raese really is ahead or tied, that’s big news.  The Democrats figured they had this one in the bag.  One thing that throws me off is that John Raese looks disturbingly like Patrick Leahy.

We now have two polls showing big leads for Ron Johnson over Russ Feingold in Wisconsin.  The Daily KOS/PPP has Johnson ahead by a whopping eleven points.  Rasmussen shows him ahead by a paltry seven points.  No doubt intrepid reader Donald will post to explain how this is meaningless, but to me it looks like Feingold is in big trouble.  Ron Johnson, I am happy to report, doesn’t look like Pat Leahy.

One good sign for Democrats is that their fundraising committees took in more money in August than their Republican counterparts.  A bad sign is that both the DCCC and the RCCC are spending most of their money on districts held by Democrats.  From Jay Cost at the Weekly Standard:

Hotline OnCall is reporting that more than a third of the DCCC’s “Red To Blue” program, originally intended to highlight top pickup opportunities, is now touting Democrats running for Democratic-held seats.  At this rate, they’ll have to rename it the “Blue, Please Stay Blue” program.

Another example of map reading from the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson, with the ominous title “Blue Strongholds Becoming Democratic Graveyards”:

Just two years ago, both Democrats and Republicans suspected that Ohio was becoming another Illinois — a realigned Democratic stronghold. Ohio independents had become alienated from Republicans over both spending and ethics. Democrats took control of key state government offices and added a million registered voters. Barack Obama won the state handily in 2008. Even in the spring of this year, Ohio lagged behind national Republican momentum, with Portman and his Democratic opponent, Lee Fisher, locked in a tight race.

But Republican gains are now greater in Ohio than elsewhere in the country. The Quinnipiac poll produced the single-most startling figure of the midterm election so far: 65 percent of Ohio’s likely independent voters now disapprove of Obama’s job performance — a 2-1 rejection. Obama has lost the center of the electorate in the center of America.

There is reason for both parties to worry about this.  If Ohio can switch so rapidly from a disaster area to a land of opportunity for Republicans, it can switch back just as rapidly.  But Democrats have to worry right now.

Consider the current situation of the battleground states.  Ohio and Florida, where the 2004 and 2000 elections were decided, look very good for Republicans.  Charlie Crist’s game of bait and switch has, as I expected, come a cropper.  Crist is bleeding support in both directions, and Marko Rubio is up big.  Still, it has to be worrisome for Democrats that their candidate is coming in third.

Two other states that loomed big in recent Presidential elections, Virginia and Pennsylvania, are looking very good for the GOP.

I am not making predictions here.  That is the job of my Election Shaman, and right now he is predicting a volcano.  Not a metaphorical volcano, but a real one.  Until he comes out of his trance, all I’ll say is that this still looks a lot like a wave election.  I’m not a good witch or a bad one.