Election 2018: Illinois Primary

Election 2018: Illinois Primary

I’ve got the tentative names and numbers updated for Illinois’ Primaries, but the big thing: I’m thinking we’re going to see the Governor’s office flip from Red to Blue this year.  Continue reading “Election 2018: Illinois Primary”

Election 2018: Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District

Election 2018: Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District

According to the NY Times, votes should start to roll in at around 8:20. When they’re done, the dust is going to settle and yet another “bellwether” election will be over, but as I’ve said repeatedly, special elections don’t count. They especially don’t count when the weather is horrendous thanks to a nor’easter that’s sweeping up the east coast of the US.

That said, I’ll repeat for the peanut gallery: I don’t trust polls. I trust votes. Continue reading “Election 2018: Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District”

Election 2018: Texas Primary

Election 2018: Texas Primary

Well, now that’s over with, I can say…shoot. Yeah, there were way more Democrats running this year, and yes, definitely, voter turnout was greater across the board, for those races where there was competition, anyway. Continue reading “Election 2018: Texas Primary”

Deceptive advertising…

Deceptive advertising…

As I’ve said previously, I’m gearing up for this year’s Primaries. Just to get my feet wet, I went to the stats for Arizona’s 8th District, a pre-Primary special election to replace Congressman Trent Franks. Continue reading “Deceptive advertising…”

What’s at stake…

What’s at stake…

Presidential elections are different from all the other elections we have in this country. If you aren’t familiar with the process, you’d better get familiar, and fast.

After Monday’s Iowa caucus, we have nothing but caucuses and primaries between now and summer, when the political parties get together for a week and then settle the question of which candidate(s) will represent their interests best. We’re done with pure speculation, though the media in general might think otherwise. Folks are finally exercising their right to vote. That is, as long as those rights haven’t been infringed.

While I could trot out all the ways in which campaigns smear candidates in service to proving their worth, I am only going to post two links and then I’m going to ask a lot of the questions I’m getting from Millennials on one hand and conservatives on the other.

With the demonizing of Muslims, backlash against African Americans and Central American refugees recast as “migrants,” Afghanistan, Iraq and (if the GOP get their way) Iran and Syria, we are in our own Wiemar Republic-style Liberal/Conservative war, bringing us to the Election of Exhaustion.

First, from Mother Jones: Here Come the Crazy Clinton Conspiracies of the 1990s

Second, from Amazon.com: The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

Now that I have those things out of the way, let me make my own position clear: I support Bernie Sanders in the Primaries, including my own in Maryland, where I am a registered Democrat. And I support the winner of the nomination when the Democrats select their candidate in late July this summer. It will be hot as hell in Philadelphia, and oh, so appropriate for the election this time.

So, before New Hampshire’s primary next week, let’s have that conversation.

How does the President win an election?

Every state does it differently when it comes to primaries. Some states, like Iowa, hold caucuses, others have elections. Some of these are open–meaning a voter can cross party lines–but most are closed. No matter how the candidate is selected, at the party convention, where the candidate gets the official nod, we discover the running mates (Vice Presidential candidates) and from then on, the campaigns are all about which candidates will win. But here’s the thing. If you think you’re voting for your candidate, you’re not. You’re voting to select the members of the Electoral College, who will THEN vote for your candidate, assuming they do the job they were sworn to do.

This artifact of the original founding fathers and the first Constitutional Convention in 1787 is destined for retirement eventually. Until that happens, you’d better understand what your vote actually does, or you’re likely to regret your choice, come November.

If I don’t like a candidate I can just write in my own choice, can’t I?

Well, no. It’s not that simple. Sorry. If your write-in candidate isn’t registered in the state that way, your vote goes into the trash. Nice try, but that’s not how it works.

What else am I voting for in November?

Members of the US Senate serve six-year terms and are elected in thirds. One third of the Senate is up for election each two year cycle. In 2016, from (http://www.periodicalpress.senate.gov/reelection-2016/) these senate seats are up for grabs:

DEMOCRATS   

Michael Bennet (Colorado)
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut)
Barbara Boxer (California) retiring in 2016
Patrick Leahy (Vermont)
Barbara Mikulski (Maryland) retiring in 2016
Patty Murray (Washington)
Harry Reid (Nevada) retiring in 2016  (may go Red)
Brian Schatz (Hawaii)
Charles Schumer (New York)
Ron Wyden (Oregon)

REPUBLICANS

Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire)  (may go Blue)
Roy Blunt (Missouri)
John Boozman (Arkansas)
Richard Burr (North Carolina)
Dan Coats (Indiana) retiring in 2016  (may go Blue)
Mike Crapo (Idaho)
Chuck Grassley (Iowa)
John Hoeven (North Dakota)
Johnny Isakson (Georgia)
Ron Johnson (Wisconsin)  (may go Blue)
Mark Kirk (Illinois)  (may go Blue)
James Lankford (Oklahoma)
Mike Lee (Utah)
John McCain (Arizona)
Jerry Moran (Kansas)
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
Rand Paul (Kentucky)
Rob Portman (Ohio)
Marco Rubio (Florida)
Tim Scott (South Carolina)
Richard Shelby (Alabama)
John Thune (South Dakota)
Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania)  (may go Blue)
David Vitter (Louisiana) retiring in 2016

To take back the majority, Democrats need to win five seats (four will only tie the GOP). A further ten seats are required to give Democrats a filibuster-proof majority. (We haven’t seen that in the Senate since 1976.)

The House of Representatives is selected during every even year election. If you wanted to, you could replace every one of your House representatives every two years. Democrats need 218 seats to gain a majority again, and that’s a total of 30 additional seats to take control back from the GOP. (Democrats presently hold only 188 seats.) http://www.270towin.com/2016-house-election/

The following seats are at risk (according to 270towin.com):

AK-AL  Don Young
1973 22th

AZ-01  Ann Kirkpatrick
2013 2nd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

AZ-02  Martha McSally
2015 1st

CA-07  Ami Bera
2013 2nd

CA-10  Jeff Denham
2011 3rd

CA-21  David Valadao
2013 2nd

CA-24  Lois Capps
1998 10th
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

CA-25  Steve Knight
2015 1st

CA-49  Darrell Issa
2001 8th

CO-03  Scott Tipton
2011 3rd

CO-06  Mike Coffman
2009 4th

FL-07  John Mica
1993 12th

FL-13  David Jolly
2014 2nd

FL-18  Patrick Murphy
2013 2nd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

FL-26  Carlos Curbelo
2015 1st

IA-01  Rod Blum
2015 1st

IA-03  David Young
2015 1st

IL-10  Robert Dold
2015 1st

IL-12  Mike Bost
2015 1st

IN-02  Jackie Walorski
2013 2nd

IN-09  Todd Young
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

KS-03  Kevin Yoder
2011 3rd

ME-02  Bruce Poliquin
2015 1st

MI-01  Dan Benishek
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

MI-07  Tim Walberg
2011 3rd

MI-08  Mike Bishop
2015 1st

MN-02  John Kline
2003 7th
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

MN-03  Erik Paulsen
2009 4th

MN-08  Rick Nolan
2013 2nd

MT-AL Ryan Zinke
2015 1st

NE-02 Brad Ashford
2015 1st

NH-01 Frank Guinta
2015 1st

NJ-05  Scott Garrett
2003 7th

NV-03  Joe Heck
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

NV-04  Cresent Hardy
2015 1st

NY-01  Lee Zeldin
2015 1st

NY-03  Steve Israel
2001 8th
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

NY-19 Chris Gibson
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

NY-21 Elise Stefanik
2015 1st

NY-22 Richard Hanna
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

NY-23 Tom Reed
2010 4th

NY-24 John Katko
2015 1st

PA-08 Mike Fitzpatrick
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

PA-16 Joseph Pitts
1997 10th
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

TX-23 Will Hurd
2015 1st

UT-04 Mia Love
2015 1st

VA-05 Robert Hurt
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

VA-10
Barbara Comstock
2015 1st

WI-08
Reid Ribble
2011 3rd
Incumbent not running for re-election in 2016.

Note: Court-ordered redistricting has led to many Florida and Virginia congressional districts being redrawn for the 2016 election. The map and Representative data on this page reflect the current district boundaries, which will remain in effect until the new Congress is seated in January, 2017. However, the election ratings in the table reflect the new boundaries, as these determine where people will vote in November.

Why should I care?

The Presidency is only one branch of government and the President doesn’t write law. He can ask for law to be enacted or, with strict limits, make executive decisions regarding legal interpretation, but it’s the House that writes the budget and only in cooperation with the Senate. If the House and Senate agree with the President and he sides with corporate interests (Oligarchy, Plutocracy), the people lose their rights to Democracy.

Theoretically, both the House and Senate should be providing laws that enhance or clarify the Constitution. In reality, there’s a wide margin of interpretation regarding what is and isn’t Constitutional, and a majority of law is now written to protect the wealthy and screw the poor and lower middle classes. And there is presently nothing to stop them from adding whatever riders (commonly known as “pork”) they want to bills that must pass, like the NDAA, which also pays our service members’ salaries.

So what? What does that mean to our current government?

Well, if the House and Senate disagree about what the President thinks will help the people of our country, they can stop legislation from reaching the President or, through a series of tacked on amendments, push through their own agenda by adding riders to bills that force the President to do things that aren’t in the best interests of the people. Without a majority on the side of the President, nothing gets done.

Some people are fine with that, but they’re generally not the ones who need help the most.

Well, if it’s not Constitutional, who fixes the problem?

Theoretically that’s where the third branch comes in. That’s the court system, led by the Supreme Court. And here’s the biggest problem we face today, in February, just as the 2016 election year gets underway.

Why is that a big deal?

The Supreme Court consists of nine lifetime appointments. It’s the Justice’s decision to retire if he or she doesn’t die in office first. While there is an impeachment process outlined, no Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached.

At present, the following justices are over the age of 67 (legal retirement age):

  • Clarence Thomas (age 67)
  • Stephen Breyer (age 77)
  • Anthony Kennedy (age 79)
  • Antonin Scalia (age 79)
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (age 82)

Five Four of the nine eight are old enough to retire from ordinary service. Three of these are on the liberal side of the courts. And there is virtually no chance whatsoever that the next President won’t be required to appoint at least one new member. The general age range of new court justices appointed is 50-55. They tend to serve at least 20 years on the bench, but Scalia is was just 8 months shy of his 30th anniversary.*

While the President can appoint a justice, the Senate has to agree on the appointment. So chew on this: If the Senate retains their GOP majorities, but the President is a Democrat, approval will be difficult at best. If the GOP wins the presidency, and the Senate retains its majority, there is no chance whatsoever that the court will see another liberal appointment. Possibly ever.*

[Now that one of these is gone, how will it work in practice instead of theory? I can’t predict the future, but this might be the year the Senate suspends the summer recess.]

What else is going on?

Well, now that you mention it, there’s that little matter of a Constitutional Convention. Remember when I mentioned it a few paragraphs ago? Did you know we are somewhere between two and five states away from having enough states to call one? True. It only takes 34, and Texas’ declaration is the most recent. Imagine the Constitution without any of the amendments beyond the Bill of Rights. That’s 17 additional amendments some conservatives would dearly love to see abolished.

So what does all this mean?

It means that if you choose to throw your vote behind any candidate except the one that wins the Democratic nomination, you are voting for the GOP. And if that happens, and they get control of all three branches of government, this could be the last time you get to vote on anything. Imagine what this country would be like under President McCain or President Romney. Now imagine President Cruz. It’s not terribly far-fetched.

Considering what the court system has done to eliminate voting rights protection, women’s rights to health and work, fair wages and so much more, what are you prepared to risk, to support your passion?

[* Edited to fix inaccuracies regarding the approval process (2/15/2016), and to correct grammar (2/29/2016).]

 

And here we are…

And here we are…

At 11:58 pm on Monday, September 30, 2013.

Lest there be any question or confusion in anyone’s mind over who is directly responsible for the closure of our national parks, the sudden and explicable shutting down of services far and wide throughout the country, and the eternal brinkmanship of the Tea Party, this article sums it up for you:

Boehner Refuses To Allow Vote on Popular Democratic Bill That Would Avoid Government Shutdown

That’s right, kids. The Hydra is just about ready to eat itself, and all because political theatre is more important than running the country.

But why? Why?

Here’s what’s been brewing in my head the last two weeks, thanks to yet another mass shooting, in my neck of the woods. Better buckle your seatbelts and hang on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis driven by delusions

On September 16, 2013, something remarkable happened. Again.

13 people died, including a mentally ill man, aged 34. Those are the details you can gather from the article above. Additional details have surfaced about how Alexis’ behavior was cause for concern, but not sufficiently off to justify actual medical treatment. He was, as far as anyone knew, fit enough to hold a security clearance and to purchase guns and ammunition. And as soon as the act was over, and it was clear the shooter was dead, all we had left was a series of clues that added up to a head-scratchingly vague image of what drove this man to commit random murders that morning.

This time, the discussion of gun control ended before it even had a chance to start, because the timing was so close to the end of the government’s fiscal year, even this tremendous loss of life, just a short mile or so away from Capitol Hill, was insufficient to jumpstart the discussion of sane guidelines for owning and operating a firearm.

Stunning, really, because one short week later, all the news reports could talk about was whether there would be compromise.

I could have told them then that there wouldn’t be. There’s no reason for compromise. You can’t compromise with terrorists.

These senselessness acts of violence and mayhem are no less vile than the one perpetrated by the members of our House of Representatives against this country and our people. Republicants, Thuglicans, Tea Publicans – call them what you want, but whatever, you need to wake up and realize that the whole group is suffering from a case of paranoid schizophrenia, and we have left the disease untreated because we can’t seem to figure out what to do with the mentally ill.

These citizens, armed with hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars are telling the rest of us that we’re to blame for the mess our country is in.

A ‘post-democracy’ phase

Really?

Why are we in this mess today?

Because people in Ohio (a state bought and sold by ALEC) elected John Boehner again in 2012.

Boehner has zero interest in working the differences out. It’s not why he was elected.

The extreme Right elected him and his ilk because they don’t WANT the rest of the country to know that the way to fix the problem is to reverse 30 years of Trickle Down Damage, brought on by people who believed the horse hockey Saint Reagan fed them when he said all we needed to do was make it easier for the rich to spend their money and everyone would win.

It took 30 years for us to get where we are today, and the plutocracy like what they have just fine. Keep the scum down and they can’t rise up like they did in France because they’re too busy chasing turban-wrapped shadows and uppity black Presidents. 

When Mitt Romney made those ill-timed comments and the nice guy waiting tables caught him on camera, he wasn’t talking to the general voters. He was talking to his infernal brotherhood. And now, his puppet masters are mad because they didn’t get their way last November, so here we are, 45 minutes after midnight and not a budget in sight. 

The only way this has to do with the Democrats is that they are not the Tea Party. Ergo, they are W.R.O.N.G.

And the worst thing is, every last one of the Tea Party’s supporters has swallowed the crap the Koch brothers have fed them through the last 30 years. Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves.

The only difference between what Aaron Alexis did and what the House Republicans are doing now is that he was shot for his crimes. Instant retribution. The House of Representatives is still getting a big, fat paycheck (more in a year than I’ve made in the last 10 years, combined). They’re not going to see anything happen – at least until November 2014. (See that countdown ticker to the right? That’s how long we have before we can fix this mess.)

The last time the government shut down, Newt Gingrich was in the driver seat. Even Newt has figured out this is wrong-headed.

Newt Gingrich: ‘No Grand Strategy’ Around Possible Government Shutdown

Maybe the Affordable Care Act will do what we haven’t been able to accomplish since the GOP sucked the life out of the House in the 1990s – finally win the government back so that we can rise back up to our former glory as a compassionate country that takes care of its own. Instead of throwing our most vulnerable citizens under the bus, perhaps we can find a way to make it possible for us to enjoy life again. But first, the Tea Party has to go.

Someone needs to stop the insanity.

And the sooner, the better.

It’s too soon for dancing in the streets…

It’s too soon for dancing in the streets…

…but at least I know my ballot isn’t one of the ones waiting to be counted.

I sat on the fence for several days, my absentee ballot in my hot little hands, but I ultimately decided to go with the electronics. So that’s one less paper ballot to be counted overall.

Still, I can’t get excited yet. With both the governor’s race and the senate’s within 100k of each other, we’re probably not going to know for sure until Thursday at the earliest. So, while I’d just love to crow about taking back the House AND the Senate, I need to wait just a little bit longer.

I’ll definitely feel a WHOLE lot better in January, regardless of the final outcome, but I can’t help worrying that if Ehrlich pulls this one out, we Democrats will somehow be punished for putting up such a close race.

Don’t forget, either: A lot of damage can still be done in the month and a half between now and the end of the current political year. We’re not out of the woods yet.

Looking forward to hearing the Rove spin on this…

Ok, NOW I have a reason to dance in the streets!

No, it isn’t because…

Rumsfeld to Step Down as Defense Secretary
Bush Taps Former CIA Director Robert Gates as Successor

President Bush today announced he is replacing Donald H. Rumsfeld as secretary of defense, saying a “fresh perspective” is needed at the Pentagon to deal with the war in Iraq. Read more…

Wa-HOO!!!

I was looking to confirm Maria’s crow about Robert Ehrlich (see Google News here: http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&q=ehrlich&btnG=Search+News), but this goes way beyond just being happy about the Governor’s race. For the record, I think she’s right, and Steele will look foolish if he doesn’t concede to Ben Cardin before the end of the day.

Considering the sleazy last-minute political move of shipping in homeless people to hand out inaccurate information designed to confuse voters who weren’t clear on the concept (Yes, Steele is a Republican, and no, it doesn’t matter one bit that he likes puppies), I think we just proved that some people at least get the concept.

Proud to say, I’m a resident of a fully Blue state once again!

YAY!!!!!!!

The tiniest faint glimmer of hope… [Rant warning]

The tiniest faint glimmer of hope… [Rant warning]

…is being borne on the backs of innocent people who shouldn’t have to suffer.

I find it in the press assessment of Mark Foley’s now infamous avocation. They’re now talking about all those other Republicans who helped cover up the story and how precarious their seats are in the house.

And then the disgust creeps back in again. I haven’t posted about it for a long time because if I let it get to me, I’ll drown in the morass.

I find it in the sense of outrage being published about those girls in Pennsylvania. (One of them was my kid’s age.) How could this have happened? Why?

I find it in the growing sense that we’re making our kids kill other people. Witness not one but two school shootings in the space of a week. Have we learned NOTHING since Columbine?

I find it in the faces of the Iraqi people. Oh, yeah. They’re SO much better off now that Saddam is gone. Um…yeah…

I keep hoping someone will look at the pieces of the puzzle and put two and two together. The buck should stop at the Oval Office, and yet I don’t believe for a second that anyone in this current administration will be held even remotely responsible for taking us back fifty years.

I’m snug and relatively happy and safe in my world here, but I let my kid go to school every day, and every day I run the risk that some lunatic with an aversion to medical therapy will wander into her school and take her away from me. Or that she’ll have her personal space violated, in such a way that she’ll never recover. How scared do I make her to keep her safe, and how much good will it do, ultimately?

I’ve been thinking seriously of moving somewhere else. I can’t figure out where, though. Is there a better place to be now?

And is it just me? Am I the only one who sees the irony in Foley’s mistake? We lost the Senate and the White House to the worst president in the history of our country over a sex scandal. At least then the two participants were consenting adults. This time? 16.

Pedophilia disgusts me more than anything else. And the only thing more disgusting is that this…practitioner…was in charge of the committee to legislate against these people!

2008 seems like such a long way off, now.

Disgusted…

Disgusted…

Emailed moments ago:

To Congressman Steny Hoyer:

I am disappointed to discover that my elected representative, a man I have supported virtually since I moved down to Maryland in 1986, has voted to support H.Res. 579.

It is exclusive, inappropriate, and a violation of the separation of church and state so important to our founding fathers, to recognize religious holidays in this way.

I sing Christmas carols with the rest of my friends and in a little over one week we will be opening Christmas presents in my house under our tree, but we will also be lighting a menorah for the first day of Hanukkah, and we have respect in this house for other holidays we don’t observe.

It saddens me to hear that the U.S. Congress continues to take on the responsibilities for managing our treatment of religious freedom.

Let the language be inclusive of all holidays (Yule, Kwaanza and the rest), and you will make this voting citizen much happier.

We have so much else to fix in our country, but this has to be the focus of actual debate on the floor?

For shame.

(See the resolution…)

Rep. Dingell said it best:

Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Madam Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Dingell), the Dean of the House.
(Mr. DINGELL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. DINGELL. Madam Speaker, I have a little poem.

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the House,
no bills were passed `bout which Fox News could grouse.
Tax cuts for the wealthy were passed with great cheer,
so vacations in St. Barts soon should be near.
Katrina kids were all nestled snug in motel beds,
while visions of school and home danced in their heads.
In Iraq, our soldiers need supplies and a plan,
and nuclear weapons are being built in Iran.
Gas prices shot up, consumer confidence fell.
Americans feared we were in a fast track to ….. well.
Wait, we need a distraction, something divisive and wily,
a fabrication straight from the mouth of O’Reilly.
We will pretend Christmas is under attack,
hold a vote to save it, then pat ourselves on the back.
Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger,
Wake up Congress, they’re in no danger.
This time of year, we see Christmas everywhere we go,
From churches to homes to schools and, yes, even Costco.
What we have is an attempt to divide and destroy
when this is the season to unite us with joy.
At Christmastime, we’re taught to unite.
We don’t need a made-up reason to fight.
So on O’Reilly, on Hannity, on Coulter and those right-wing blogs.
You should sit back and relax, have a few egg nogs.
‘Tis the holiday season; enjoy it a pinch.
With all our real problems, do we really need another Grinch?
So to my friends and my colleagues, I say with delight,
a Merry Christmas to all, and to Bill O’Reilly, happy holidays.
Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas.

* Yeah, I know I misspelled Kwanzaa – it’s the thought that counts, I believe. I’m just sorry I didn’t see the resolution before it was voted on. I hate locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen.

Theme: Elation by Kaira.