(Updates) The Next War: The War on Names

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Denali

Update II:

From the President’s travelogue:

Yesterday I touched down in Alaska for a three-day tour — a trip I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Not only because Alaska is one of the most beautiful places in a country that’s full of beautiful places– but because I’ll meet with everyday Alaskans about what’s going on in their lives, and I expect to learn a lot.

Obama alaska

White House photo

Alaska is a region defined by its Native population tribes that make up a large portion of the state’s population and have been here for thousands of years. People who, through their sheer ingenuity, found a way to wrangle the elements and stake out lives for themselves.

On the flight in, I had a great view of one of Alaska’s most beautiful sights?–?Denali.

It’s a new and ancient name all at once. In fact, just today, we renamed Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America, by restoring its native name: Denali, which means “the high one.”

Watch a video about the President’s trip below.

Update I:

Predictable like the broken clock that is right twice a day, “I-am-very-rich-you-know” presidential wannabe Donald Trump is promising that when finally — and rightfully — in the Trump House he will undo President Obama’s decision to change Mount McKinley’s name to “Denali,” according to The Hill.

While the idea of an upcoming “War on Names” was somewhat satirical, once again the GOP proves that (Republican) life imitates satire.

Original post:

On Sunday, the eve of his historic trip to Alaska and the Arctic, President Barack Obama announced that his administration would rename North America’s tallest mountain Mount McKinley as “Denali.”

The original name of our highest peak, Denali, is a name given it by the Alaskan native people which stands for “the high one” or “the great one” in Athabascan, the indigenous language of, among other, the native people of our 49th state.

“This name change recognizes the sacred status of Denali to many Alaska natives,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement, noting that the mountain had been known as Denali for generations.

In 1896, the mountain was “christened” Mount McKinley by a gold prospector, after President William McKinley

The New York Times:

The government formally recognized the name in 1917, and efforts to reverse the move began in Alaska in 1975. In an awkward compromise struck in 1980, the national park surrounding it was named Denali National Park and Preserve, but the mountain continued to be called Mount McKinley.

Well, today, using a 1947 federal law that according to the White House gives Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell the authority to change geographical names, Mt. McKinley is no more.

In fact, according to Politico, the renaming became official last Friday with the signature of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell who stated in her order:

The mountain was originally named after President William McKinley of Ohio, but President McKinley never visited, nor did he have any significant historical connection to, the mountain or to Alaska.

Alaska’s governor and Alaska’s congressional delegation praised the name change.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, in a FaceBook message:

For centuries, Alaskans have known this majestic mountain as the ‘Great One.’ Today we are honored to be able to officially recognize the mountain as Denali. I’d like to thank the President for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect, and gratitude to the Athabascan people of Alaska.

But many Republicans, especially in Ohio, have been very quick to condemn the President for stripping the peak of its name honoring Ohio’s native son, William McKinley.

Browsing through various news media, one can see that the reactions range from “Unhappy,” through “deeply disappointed” and “freaked-out” to “butt-hurt” and “apoplectic.”

Looking back one can see how easy it is to start wars in our country.

We have had — and in many cases continue to have — wars on poverty, on drugs, on women and even on Christmas.

We have already had skirmishes on names of sports teams.

I hate to be a cynic, but in this very infirm political environment, the first shot may have already been fired in a new war, the War on Names.

Just think, if we get a President Trump, on his very first day in office he may change the name of Mount Rushmore to Mount Rushbaugh, Mount St. Helens to Mt. St. Palin, Cape Kennedy to Cape Reagan, Empire State Building to Emperor Trump Palace. These changes in addition to new names for new monuments such as “Trump Wall I” protecting our southern border from those rapists and murderers and “Trump Wall II” keeping those evil Canucks in their place.

Watch out, Pennsylvania Avenue!

Lead photo: www.shutterstock.com

Ohio cop threatens journalist with arrest on Facebook

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In the “it’s too wild to be true but it is” department.

In Xenia, Greene County, OH, panhandling is a 4th degree misdemeanor. Greene County Herald editor Virgil Vaduva deliberately violated ordinance 13-31 on Saturday, panhandling on the sidewalk in front of the Xenia City Hall. He raised $41.98 for charity.

According to this screen capture from CounterCurrentNews, in a discussion of panhandling laws on the Green County Herald Facebook page, Dayton police office Paul Harris threatened to arrest Vaduva if he comes to Dayton.

Facebook thread

Screen capture from CounterCurrentNews, 15 February 2015

Vaduva seems to confirm that exchange in a later thread:

Facebook thread

Greene County Herald editor confirms trolling behavior.

This was my first experience with cops using the phrase “Breathe easy and don’t break the law” as a retort to “I can’t breathe”. What a perversion of “Keep calm and carry on,” a slogan devised should Britain have been invaded by Germany during World War II.

At least one city council is less than enamored with the sale of t-shirts with the slogan. “Police should not take the right to breathe into their own hands,” South Bend, IN District Council President Oliver Davis told the Daily News.

For historical context, “I can’t breathe” were the last words uttered by Eric Garner, who died after a New York City police officer placed him in a department-banned chokehold.

Tea Party Challenger Says Boehner Suffers ‘Electile Dysfunction’ (VIDEO)

Behind the Ad: Did someone say “boner”?
by Richard K. Barry

Who: The J.D. Winteregg campaign.

Where: Ohio’s 8th Congressional District – web ad.

What’s going on: Mr. Winteregg is a Tea Party-backed candidate running agains House Speaker John Boehner (R). Just because someone had to, Winteregg produced an ad positioning himself as the answer to “electile dysfunction.” Get it. Electile. Oh, my.

In a parody of all those commercials for what Charlie Sheen in Two and Half Men calls boner pills, couples are seen drinking out of Winteregg mugs and generally looking as silly as the people in the real commercials.

In the event you can’t access YouTube, some of the copy goes like this:

Sometimes when a politician has been in D.C. for too long, it goes to his head, and he just can’t seem to get the job done… Used on a daily basis, Winteregg in Congress will help you every time the moment is right — to have your voice heard at the federal level… When using Winteregg, it’s important to note that the borders will be secured, Second Amendment rights protected, ObamaCare and Planned Parenthood will be defunded, and common sense will be used in solving the nation’s problems.

And then:

The narrator says that signs of electile dysfunction include “extreme skin discoloration,” a reference to Boehner’s infamous tanned skin, “the inability to punch oneself out of a wet paper bag, or maintain a spine in the face of liberal opposition.”

Finally, because acting like a fourteen-year-old boy never gets old, the narrator warns, “[i]f you have a Boehner lasting more than 23 years, seek immediate medical attention.”

For the record, John Boehner got 84 percent in the 2013 primary in the Ohio 8th, which also happens to be the most Republican district in the state. So, this Boehner is lasting a bit longer (sorry).

Grade: Okay, it’s kinda cute. Unfortunately some of the copy brushes up against a bit unnecessary meanness which damages the cuteness, but, other than that, whatever. Mr. Winteregg and friends can have their chuckle. This is probably the last time any of us will hear his name in this election cycle or any other. Having said that, we’re talking about him today. B-

Richard K. Barry is Associate Editor of The Reaction. This is cross-posted from that wwebsite.

3 Lessons Learned from My Recent Health Issues

[This was prepared to be shared with the people of the Logan Cancer Recovery Group this evening.]

Since my last visit with you several years ago, a few things have happened in my life.

In 2010, I suffered a heart attack that took out 40% of my heart. Since then, a stent was implanted in an artery that had been 100% blocked and in 2011, as a precautionary measure, I received a defibrillator/pacemaker.

Also in 2011, a small spot of melanoma was found on my left leg and I underwent an outpatient surgical procedure at the James Center at Ohio State. A biopsy showed that there was no cancer in the surrounding area.

In 2012, I developed a stubborn rash that ultimately proved to be a symptom of Celiac Disease, a genetic condition that may or may not show up in he course of a person’s life. The thinking is that all that whole wheat I was eating to keep my heart healthy triggered the activation of the Celiac Disease. Because I still had a rash and both my wife and I were getting acclimated to the new gluten-free, wheat-free diet that is the only treatment that exists for Celiac, we had to cancel a planned visit with friends who live in France.

Shortly after the Celiac diagnosis, I told an old high school classmate: “It’s no biggie. Heart, cancer, and Celiac were all on my bucket list.” We laughed and he said, “Man, you gotta get a different list.”

Now, I’m doing well. Most days I do several miles of brisk walking. My heart is steady at about 60 beats per minute. My blood pressure, which has never been an issue, is, my doctor says, “perfect.”

There’s been no hint of skin cancer on any other part of my body.

And I’m actually enjoying the gluten-free diet.

After my last physical, my doctor declared that I was in “great shape.”

I can’t claim to have experienced anything like what many of you have gone through. But I have learned some things I either didn’t know or didn’t pay much attention to before my last visit with you. They’re probably things all of you know from your experiences. Nonetheless, they’re worth remembering.

So what are some of these lessons I’ve learned?

First: Any time we receive bad news about our health, we should remember that it isn’t always our faults. We know that smoking leaves us at heightened risk for heart attack and cancer. We know that not exercising and not getting immunized leaves us susceptible to all sorts of diseases. We know that it’s not wise to drive without securing our seat belts. There are common sense precautions we all can take to reduce our risk for diseases or accidents.

But sometimes bad things happen even to cautious people.

[To read the whole thing, go here. Be warned that the last lesson I learned is overtly Christian. If this may offend you, you may want to take a pass on reading the entire post. However, I will tell you that when I made this presentation to a diverse group of people last night, nobody appeared offended.]

America: A Nation of Have-Starbucks’ and Have-Nots? (Updated)

At another blog where this piece appeared, a reader defended Starbucks’ success and employment record saying, “perhaps we need more successful companies like Starbucks to help reduce poverty in this country by creating jobs and helping people to better themselves through education,” and that “there are better examples of greed and excess in this country than the new Starbucks card.”

Although I explicitly stated that my post should not be taken as a criticism of Starbucks and although I applauded the company’s success and record, I can see where some would interpret it in such a way. So I restate that my comments are more “a personal, sad reflection on the times we live in” — and perhaps our “culture” — than a condemnation of Starbucks.

But since we are on the subject of Starbucks’ position on employment, or unemployment, and other economic issues, I found a July 2012 article that describes the views of Starbucks chief executive officer, Howard Schultz, as “he had been absorbing a dispiriting run of news — the prospect of another round of perilous brinkmanship over lifting the nation’s debt ceiling, and a presidential campaign that seems disconnected from the crisis of joblessness…” Sounds familiar?

In a letter he planned to publish in national publications at the time, Schultz declares:

Millions of Americans are out of work. Many more are working tirelessly yet still unable to adequately care for their families. Our veterans are not being welcomed home with the level of support they deserve. Meanwhile, in our nation’s capital, our elected leaders are continuing to put ideology over real solutions. I love America, but we all know there is something wrong, and that we are better than this. The deficits this country must reconcile are much more than financial. Our inability to solve our own problems is sapping our national spirit.

Before deciding whether this is about “generating good publicity for Starbucks,” or whether it reflects Mr. Schultz’ “genuine apprehension about the state of the nation,” please read the entire piece here.

And, talking about unemployment, here’s some good breaking news from the New York Times:

U.S. Added 146,000 Jobs in November; Unemployment at 7.7%

The government said Friday that the economy added 146,000 jobs in November, a sharper gain than expected in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.7 percent.

It was the third month in a row that the jobless rate was below 8 percent. But the Labor Department report also revised previous job gains for September and October downward.

Read more here.

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Original Post:

I like Starbucks coffee. Every once in a while, I even splurge a couple of dollars to enjoy a “Grande” (I have not graduated to a “Venti” yet) Starbucks cup of coffee. But I do not think that I will ever feel café riche enough to spend $7 for their new, limited brew, 16-ounce cup of coffee.

I also believe that Starbucks is a fine, socially and environmentally responsible company. The fact that Starbucks plans to open at least 1,500 new cafes in the U.S. alone over the next five years reflects well on the company’s business model, strength, success and consumer loyalty and popularity.

Therefore, the following should not be taken as a criticism of that company, but more as a personal, sad reflection on the times we live in.

What brought Starbucks’ popularity, success and profitability literally into my field of vision, were two articles — one right above the other — on the front page of Wednesday’s USA TODAY. The articles, in my opinion, graphically illustrate the deep and tragic economic (some may call it moral) dichotomy and divide that presently exist in our country.

The first article, “For the poor, ‘recovery’ is a mirage,” describes the explosive rise in poverty that has hit parts of our country, in this particular case, Miami County in Ohio.

According to Marisol Bello’s excellent report, the rise in poverty “is evident in the mass of people who crowd the waiting room of the free health clinic every Thursday night — so many that the volunteer staff turns away about half of them” and is marked by “the bare shelves of the food pantry at Richards Chapel United Methodist Church, a one-story sanctuary where dozens of laid-off factory workers, retirees and young parents with children fill the dining hall daily for a free lunch.”

It is so bad that Nancy Scott, a former stay-at-home mom working a temporary minimum-wage job, had to choose between exhausting her paycheck on rent and utilities and living in her 1990 pickup. “She chose the truck.”

In a “tour” of her rusted truck that Scott gives to Marisol Bello, the USA reporter, Bello sees “the plastic bins where [Scott] keeps toiletries, food, knickknacks and batteries for her camping lights. Stacks of clothes and linens crowd another corner.” Bello observes, “The truck has a camper top that leaks when it rains, so the sleeping bag rests on raised wooden slats to stay dry” and she adds that this will be Scott’s second winter in the truck.

Of course, Nancy Scott is not the only one suffering in Miami County, Ohio:

With a population of 103,000, Miami County has seen a particularly sharp increase in poverty among children and the unemployed. The number of poor children in the county increased from 1,900 in 2008 to 6,000 in 2011, according to the Census, which estimates a quarter of the county’s children live in poverty. The number of unemployed who were poor increased from 711 in 2008 to 2,200 in 2011.

Bello points out that, while our representatives procrastinate in Washington about the “fiscal cliff” and while Americans do their holiday shopping, thousands of people in Miami County are managing on little or no income.

She notes how Miami County lost 2,234 jobs since 2008 and how 21% of children in Miami County live in poverty. But, hey, there is a silver lining here: the growth in child poverty in Miami County is not any worse than the national trend.

Finally, Bello tells us that the minimum wage in Ohio is $7.70 an hour.

That would be just enough to pay for one of those new, fancy, “limited brew” cups of coffee.

And this brings me to the second story in USA TODAY — the one titled, “A calling card for the café rich.”

This story tells us how a few of the more fortunate Americans – “the 1%,” according to cultural anthropologist Robbie Blinkoff — will have the opportunity to vie for a $450, specially etched, Starbucks steel card that “comes with gold level Starbucks card membership benefits, including gifts and freebie refills on brewed coffee and tea.”

This card will be so upper-end exclusive, so classy that only 5,000 of them will be “minted” and they will only be available at a luxury goods web site.

Again, nothing against Starbucks and nothing against those few lucky people who will be able to flaunt their super-exclusive card and relish the delicious thought when they are waiting in line at Starbucks that “the next person in line won’t have it.”

It is all well and good, but when I read the story of the “café riche” immediately after the story of a struggling Nancy Scott and of the abject poverty in Miami County, Ohio, it just left a bitter taste in my mouth — and it wasn’t Caffè Misto.

Just imagine, if the $2.25 million in cold cash that these cold steel cards will reap for Starbucks would go, instead, to help the cold and hungry in Miami County.

Just imagine, if in a future December, as we approach the holiest time of the year, instead of reading “For the poor, ‘recovery’ is a mirage,” we would read, “For the poor, ‘recovery’ is a miracle.”

I sincerely believe that in the United States of America, were “you can have it all,” where you and I can chose between a delicious Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino® and an equally delicious and pricy Caramel Brulée Frappuccino®, Nancy Scott in Troy, Ohio, — or any American — should not have to choose between food and shelter, between food and medicine.

But that’s just little ole me musing at Christmas time…

Image: www.shutterstock.com

Romney Can’t Blame Losing on Sandy

THE MIRACLE of the first debate allowed Mitt Romney to stay in the race. President Obama helped in making this happen, otherwise there would have been a growing gap between the candidates that likely would have ended in a rout. But the next two debates slowly brought President Obama back, performing like an athlete who has to get down and almost be counted out before the resurrection and rise begins. By the time nor’easter Sandy made landfall Obama was back in the driver’s seat, where he’d been for months.

Just because Republicans and their friends in the media started talking about a Romney surge doesn’t make it so.

Dick Morris’s proclamation of a Romney “landslide” was always pure fantasy, the method of pumping up the GOTV efforts that Republicans had to do at the end. It was joined by others saying Romney will win, including Michael Barone. Now Dick Morris warns of “sudden danger signs” in the polls, as he tries to turn his ship away from the epic crash to reality.

All of these changes are, no doubt, related to hurricane Sandy. – Dick Morris

If only this right wing crank would follow this ludicrous theory to its obvious conclusion. God wanted to help Obama to prove he wasn’t really a Muslim. Where’s Pat Robertson when you need backup?

The Joe Scarborough team began weaving the Sandy narrative today as a preemptive reason for Romney’s possible loss, based on President Obama being able to look “presidential,” which indeed he did.

Next we’re going to hear that Gov. Chris Christie helped elect him, though I’d like to be around when some Republican explains this logic to Christie.

President Obama’s approval skyrocketed in the aftermath of Sandy, the best since the killing of Osama bin Laden, but he had already begun to slowly and steadily regain what he’d lost after the first debate.

But, while the storm and the response to it may account for some of Mr. Obama’s gains, it assuredly does not reflect the whole of the story. Mr. Obama had already been rebounding in the polls, slowly but steadily, from his lows in early October — in contrast to a common narrative in the news media that contended, without much evidence, that Mr. Romney still had the momentum in the race. – Nate Silver

Look at the polls on how people are now feeling about the economy. President Obama remains in the danger zone of approval, below 50% most places, but Romney has never, at any time, been able to overtake him.

If you’re going to go out on a cracked limb to cite Sandy, you could just as easily cite Mitt Romney’s offensively false Jeep ad in Ohio as the dealbreaker for him in a state he simply must win, because Obama long ago locked up other battleground states. The local press was brutal on Romney’s Jeep ad, complete with car executives refuting Romney’s lies. The re-emergence of Romney’s “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” was a fresh reminder of the jobs Ohioans wouldn’t have had if Romney would have been in the White House.

You could also cite Richard Mourdock and the reminder of the Todd Akin crazies who believe women should be forced to give birth if raped or a victim of incest. Suburban women may be skeptical of Obama on the economy, but at the final moment when they decide to vote most women will simply not pull the lever for anyone who has been quoted on air that he’d sign a “personhood” amendment that puts a fertilized egg above the woman herself.

Republicans and other religious conservatives need to understand that a woman’s body is not a “social issue.”

And then there’s President Obama’s number one surrogate, President Bill Clinton, who has done the lion’s share of work in getting the working class vote back on Obama’s side, but also driving the economy message home, which began in the mother of all convention speeches that will be remembered and cited whenever the 2012 election is remembered.

Toss in Obama’s demographic advantage, which Republicans don’t like to talk about, and Mitt Romney has serious challenges that no poll can wipe away.

Throughout this race Mitt Romney has performed below what was required to beat an incumbent president. He has been able to get close or even tie Obama according to local polls, as well as meaningless national polls, but Romney has never, not once, at any time been able to overtake President Obama, except in the deep red south.

Political losers always have to find a reason for why they did not prevail, so Team Romney and Republicans in 2012 will be no different.

The next thing you’ll hear is how badly they need Paul Ryan in 2016, because Mitt Romney isn’t a real conservative, so he was bound to lose in the end.

Democrats should be so lucky.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media magazine www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women, foreign policy, and the politics of sex.

Ohio: the Campaign Endgame (Guest Voice)


Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch


Ohio: the campaign endgame (via GlobalPost)

Allegations swirl that Ohio votes will be counted using experimental software, maintained by a firm with ties to Romney. Jean MacKenzie COLUMBUS, Ohio — Hurricane Sandy might have decimated the East Coast, but a whirlwind of a different sort is about to descend on this normally placid midwestern…

[Read more…]

Could The Election Come Down To One County ?

All year we’ve heard all about how the election is going to be decided in a few key swing states and over the past few weeks we have started to hear that the real issue is the state of Ohio. One state out of fifty making the decision.

When reviewing the campaign most experts point to the Democratic leaning areas of northern Ohio as key to Obama while the Republican leaning areas of southern Ohio (including coal country) are vital to Romney.

But there is an argument that the race really could be tracked down to one county.

That is Hamilton County which is anchored by Cincinnati and the farm country around it.

In 2004 President Bush carried the county by 25,000 votes and carried the state by about 100,000 votes.

In 2008 President Obama carried the county by 30,000 votes and carried the state by about 250,000 votes.

If you look to history the numbers are not quite as solid but they are close. Every single time a Democrat won Hamilton County he won the state of Ohio and most of the times the Republican won it he won Ohio (the exceptions tending to come in years where a 3rd party candidate split the vote, such as 1992).

Obviously just because things happened before do not mean they will happen again and there is no way to say for sure if Ohio will follow Hamilton or indeed if the election will come down to Ohio (it is possible for both candidates to win without Ohio).

Indeed there are those who say that a Republican has never won the Presidency without Ohio and while this is true, up until 2008 no Democrat had won the White House without carrying Arkansas and Missouri, but Obama did it.

Continuing Planetary Reaction to U.S. Presidential Election (Italy, China, Pakistan and Brazil)

Here is a little Moderate Voice roundup of what Worldmeets.US has posted about the U.S. presidential race since the third presidential debate on foreign policy. The articles are from Italy, China, Pakistan and Brazil.

Starting off with Europe, we have posted two reactions from Italy’s La Stampa.

In an article headlined No One Can Say that American’s Don’t Have a Choice, one of Italy’s leading columnists, Gianni Riotta writes that the U.S. presidential debates were never going to be the deciding factor in the race, as the candidates are roughly exactly where they were when they began. But he also opines that whatever their impact, they show that American democracy works, and that U.S. voters will have more than enough information to make their choice “in freedom.”:

“American democracy is invigorated by debates. The voters will have a clear choice in November between two men with different personalities. … No repeating the old cliché, ‘Voting is pointless since nothing changes.’ As in the 2013 elections in Germany and Italy, this time the results really matter. … Americans will make their choice in freedom. It is a ritual some snobs scorn as ‘ideology,’ but whose real name is ‘democracy.'”

Then La Stampa columnist Marco Bardazzi, in a column headlined Europe Goes Missing in Obama-Romney Foreign Policy Debate, highlights a trend in European reaction, pointing out that Europe was hardly mentioned in the debate, and that for good or ill, the economic center of gravity is shifting east, with Europe increasingly a secondary concern for the United States:

“It is striking how American is increasingly gazing across the Pacific rather than the Atlantic. Of course, Europe has been discussed in previous debates (almost always negatively) when dealing with economic issues. But when it comes to discussing major global issues, in Washington’s eyes, everything European is, for the moment, secondary.”

Then moving on to Asia, we posted reactions from China and Pakistan.

In an editorial from Pakistan’s Dawn headlined Word to Wise for Pakistanis: ‘Moderate Mitt’ May Be Fleeting, the newspaper suggests that the reasonable-sounding candidate sitting on stage with President Obama on Monday may have been play acting:

“Mr. Romney came across as measured and reasonable. In fact, there was little to separate the policies of Obama from those of Romney. … If Romney does win the election two weeks from now, he is expected to choose his foreign and national security teams from among the ranks of neocons and hardliners. So ‘moderate Mitt’ may just be a temporary phenomenon, designed to tick the commander-in-chief box for an electorate disinterested in the outside world.”

Then from China’s state-run Xinhua, in an article headlined Obama and Romney Best Not ‘Go Too Far’ Bashing China, columnist Liu Jie warns that both President Obama and Mitt Romney are putting the well being of their nation at risk by bashing China at every turn. Jie writes that the candidates are proving themselves to be poor partners of the People’s Republic of China, and must take care not to ‘go too far’ with their careless accusations and threats.

“During the campaign, regardless of the facts of the matter, both have relentlessly blamed China to cover up for their own incapacity to get America’s domestic economy back on track. It is a tactic that only serves to expose the world’s superpower as bereft of ways to address its real problems. … When it comes to bashing China, the candidates should be mindful not to go too far.”

And finally from Brazil’s Folha, in a column headlined China and Mitt Romney: The Tale of the Mandarin and the Yankee Plutocrat, columnist Monica Baumgarten De Bolle recalls a cautionary tale written by Eca de Queiroz, a revered 19th century Brazilian novelist, to illustrate how sorry Mitt Romney will be if he follows through with his threat to declare China a currency manipulator during his first day in office:

“The story involves the devil, an ambitious man and a powerful mandarin – a senior government official in ancient China. … One day in a secondhand book shop, Teodoro, a low-ranking civil servant and a greedy individual prone to social climbing, discovers a book containing a certain fable. The book says that the mere ringing of a bell, at a specific hour, will kill the mandarin and that he, the assassin, will inherit his millions. … Romney wants to ring the bell: he wants to formally declare China a currency manipulator, triggering a cascade of events that could be extremely detrimental to the global economic recovery.”

READ MORE GLOBAL VIEWS OF THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

Obama Holds Onto Ohio Lead: Poll 51-46 Over Romney

President Barack Obama is holding onto his lead over Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Ohio — and the Romney camp is now talking about how Romney (unlike any other Republican candidate) can win without Ohio:

PPP’s newest Ohio poll finds Barack Obama leading 51-46, a 5 point lead not too different from our last poll two weeks ago when he led 49-45.

The key finding on this poll may be how the early voters are breaking out. 19% of people say they’ve already cast their ballots and they report having voted for Obama by a 76-24 margin. Romney has a 51-45 advantage with those who haven’t voted yet, but the numbers make it clear that he already has a lot of ground to make up in the final three weeks before the election.

We’ve found a major improvement in Mitt Romney’s image in most of the states that we’ve polled since the Presidential debate, but Ohio is an exception. His favorability now is a 45/51 spread, showing no improvement from his 45/49 breakdown two weeks ago. Obama meanwhile has seen a small spike in his approval rating, from 48/49 to 50/48.

AND:

The Vice Presidential debate may have given Obama at least a small boost as well. 46% of Ohio voters think Joe Biden won it to 37% who believe Paul Ryan was the victor. Biden’s advantage is 44/32 with independents. 62% of both Democrats and Republicans say they’re ‘very excited’ to vote this fall, reversing a trend we saw in some post-Presidential debate polling of GOP voters expressing more enthusiasm about the election this year.

One thing clear from our poll: Republican efforts to make a big deal out of Libya aren’t succeeding. By a 51/43 margin, voters trust Obama more than Romney on dealing with that issue. Obama also has a 51/46 advantage on dealing with the economy that mirrors his overall lead.

One reason Romney might be struggling to get traction in Ohio even as he surges elsewhere is his record on the auto bailout. Voters in the state support it by a 54/37 margin, including 58/35 with independents. They think Obama would be better than Romney for the auto industry 50/43, and 79% of voters consider it to be an important issue including 42% who say it’s ‘very important.’

In the US Senate race Sherrod Brown leads Republican challenger Josh Mandel 49-42, little change from a 49-41 advantage two weeks ago….

And now we see the seeds of (perhaps) a new Romney talking point: Ohio isn’t that critical, after all.. Jake Trapper:

Speaking to me this morning on “This Week,” Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney could “probably” win the White House without a victory in the Buckeye State, a feat that no other Republican has accomplished.

“Look, you can probably win the presidency without Ohio, but I wouldn’t want to take the risk. No Republican has. And we’re doing great in Ohio,” Portman said. “If you look at the average of all the polls, it’s about dead-even in Ohio right now. And importantly, the momentum’s on our side. It’s been terrific.”

Portman was responding to a recent poll I asked him about that showed Romney trailing the president by six points in Ohio.

I also asked Portman – who is helping prep Romney by playing Obama in mock debates – what we should expect on Tuesday, during the second presidential debate. He predicted that Obama would come out “swinging.”

Meanwhile, in what is likely to be a razor-blade-close election, a poll by Reuters finds Obama way ahead in early voting samples:

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are neck and neck in opinion polls, but there is one area in which the incumbent appears to have a big advantage: those who have already cast their ballots.

Obama leads Romney by 59 percent to 31 percent among early voters, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks.

The sample size of early voters is relatively small, but the Democrat’s margin is still well above the poll’s credibility interval – a measurement of polls’ accuracy – of 10 percentage points.

With the November 6 election just more than three weeks away, 7 percent of those surveyed said they had already voted either in person or by mail (full graphic: bit.ly/SWm5YR).

The online poll is another sign that early voting is likely to play a bigger role this year than in 2008, when roughly one in three voters cast a ballot before Election Day. Voting is already under way in some form in at least 40 states.

However, in polling it’s the average of polls that matters.

Here’s Pollster — which shows a dead heat:

Here’s Real Clear Politics’, which puts Romney ahead:

However, polls can reflect the popular vote but not tell the story with the electoral vote.Bottom line: it’s still very much a toss up.

mistydawnphoto / Shutterstock.com

Sherrod Brown’s Lessons for Obama

MORELAND HILLS, Ohio — If anyone can testify to the problem of giving really rich people a chance to tilt the political playing field, it’s Sen. Sherrod Brown.

A proud labor-populist, Brown seems to invite the hostility of wealthy conservatives and deep-pocketed interest groups. The amount they have spent to defeat him went somewhere over $20 million this week.

Brown can live with that. His uncompromising advocacy on behalf of workers, toughness on trade, and progressive policies on a broad range of other issues have allowed Brown to build a formidable organization across Ohio, and a large cadre of small donors.

“That organization is there,” he said in an interview before he spoke at a fundraiser in this Cleveland suburb, “because they have a candidate who stands for something and fights for something.” Brown has stayed ahead in his race against Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel so far, although the polls tightened this week.

I spoke with Brown a few days after President Obama’s unfortunate first debate, and the contrast between Brown’s approach and the president’s was striking — even though Brown, a loyal Obama supporter, did not bring it up himself. Letting down his guard just wouldn’t occur to Brown.

Indeed, his analysis of why Democrats were routed in 2010 combines a clear-eyed view of the condition of the country at the time — “There was no evidence by the 2010 elections that things were getting better” — with a belief that his party must always be prepared to make its case. Leading into 2010, he said, “we let them get away with too much.”

That’s not a bad description of how Democrats felt about Obama’s first debate with Mitt Romney. It’s also why their expectations of Vice President Biden in Thursday’s encounter with Rep. Paul Ryan are so high. Democrats want Biden to put their side back on offense, and Brown’s view of the argument Biden has to make was characteristic.

Ryan, Brown said, has “dressed up trickle-down economics and wrapped it in an Ayn Rand novel.” The vice president, Brown added, should highlight the Republicans’ desire to privatize both Medicare and Social Security, reflected in Ryan’s own record and Republicans’ attempts to do so whenever they thought they had the votes. “It’s clear they want to go there,” Brown said.

Democrats, including Obama, have to get over that first debate, but it does contain useful lessons that the president learned once and cannot forget again.

Obama began his political recovery after the 2011 debt-ceiling fiasco only when he acknowledged the need to confront the radicalism of the new Republican agenda. He put forward a clear alternative philosophy rooted in government’s obligation to check the abuses of the market, to invest in public goods the market won’t finance, and to offset growing inequalities.

Both winning the election and governing successfully require Obama to remain unflinching in his insistence that conservatism in its current form cannot provide an adequate basis for either economic renewal or social fairness. Ironically, Romney is unintentionally lending support to this view by trying to abandon his recent right-wing positions with the speed of a NASCAR driver.

And in the midst of all the hand-wringing among Democrats, Sen. Charles Schumer offered a refreshing moment of principle this week that should also guide the president. In plain language, the New York Democrat stood up to challenge a truly foolish piece of Washington conventional wisdom that a post-election budget deal should use tax reform as a way of cutting the income tax rates of the very wealthy.

“It would be a huge mistake,” Schumer said in a speech laying down a policy marker, “to take the dollars we gain from closing loopholes and put them into reducing rates for the highest income brackets, rather than into reducing the deficit.” At a time when revenue has to be part of any sane budget deal and when income and wealth gaps are widening, why should Congress be so attentive to the wishes of the most privileged?

There may be an answer in the furious efforts of the conservative billionaires to unseat Sherrod Brown. He asks the obvious questions: “Why this money? Who are these people? Why are they spending it in Ohio?”

As it happens, the same folks are also trying to beat Obama. It would behoove the president (and Biden, too) to join Brown in reminding voters that this election will determine whose interests will be represented after the ballots are counted — and whose will be ignored.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is [email protected]

Why Should We Care About America’s Presidential Election? (de Volkskrant, The Netherlands)

Has the world lost interest in U.S. presidential elections? For de Volkskrant of the Netherlands, columnist Bert Wagendorp writes that no matter how hard he tries, he can’t work up any enthusiasm for Obama’s second run for the White House. And why? He blames a combination of disappointment with the president’s 2008 promises of ‘change’, and the fact that America’s problems are so vast, it no longer appears to have the time to involve itself with the rest of the world.

For de Volkskrant Bert Wagendorp writes in part:

Perhaps it is disappointment that change hasn’t really occurred that is tempering interest in Obama’s reelection – even if of course it is nice that he’s the first Black president running for a second term, and one never knows whether in the end he might still make that “change.”

 

Perhaps in 2008, I was still a politically naïve dreamer, and during the last four years, I have become a “Realcolumnist.” A man who has seen it all and knows: even the most powerful man in the world is a rubber duck on the waves of history – and that concept of power is highly overrated.

 

One Cairo speech does not make a spring – and even in 2009, I thought the Nobel Peace Prize was curious.

 

And it could also be this: an intuitive feeling that the importance of America has declined; a giant with feet of clay and a $16 trillion debt – a bankrupt country that has its hands too full with its own problems to remain involved with the rest of the world. Why should I care under which president it lives?

READ ON IN ENGLISH OR DUTCH, OR READ MORE GLOBAL VIEWS OF THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

Tea Party Groups Work to Remove Names from Ohio Voter Rolls

A threat to the integrity or voter suppression under the guise of preventing voter fraud? At this point even a can of cat food on the shelf at Safeway would read a report such as the Los Angeles’ Times’ below and say: “Voter suppression aimed at keeping likely Democrats away from polls and depriving them of their votes.”

CINCINNATI — Lori Monroe, a 40-year-old Democrat who lives in central Ohio, was startled a few weeks ago to open a letter that said a stranger was challenging her right to vote in the presidential election.

Monroe, who was recovering from cancer surgery, called the local election board to protest. A local tea party leader was trying to strike Monroe from the voter rolls for a reason that made no sense: Her apartment building in Lancaster was listed as a commercial property.

“I’m like, really? Seriously?” Monroe said. “I’ve lived here seven years, and now I’m getting challenged?”

Monroe’s is one of at least 2,100 names that tea party groups have sought to remove from Ohio’s voter rosters.

The groups and their allies describe it as a citizen movement to prevent ballot fraud, although the Republican secretary of state said in an interview that he knew of no evidence that any more than a handful of illegal votes had been cast in Ohio in the last few presidential elections.

The boldface is what undermines the plausible deniability in these laws (and as the cat food can reads this, it agrees…). In fact, there are very few cases to show any past abuse on a widespread scale.

“We’re all about election integrity — making sure everyone who votes is registered and qualified voters,” said Mary Siegel, one of the leaders of the Ohio effort.

Some Democrats see it as a targeted vote-suppression drive. The names selected for purging include hundreds of college students, trailer park residents, homeless people and African Americans in counties President Obama won in 2008.

The battle over who belongs on the voter rolls in Ohio comes as supporters of Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, are making elaborate plans to monitor the polls and mount legal challenges after the Nov. 6 election if necessary.

Obama’s reelection campaign and Romney allies are already fighting in court over Republican efforts to block Ohio voters from casting ballots the weekend before the election. In 2008, Ohio’s final weekend of early voting drew tens of thousands of African Americans to cast ballots, mainly for Obama.

AND:

Some Democrats see the developments in Ohio as part of a national drive by Obama’s opponents to minimize turnout of his supporters, one that includes efforts elsewhere to impose new voter ID rules.

“Too much of this is going on for this not to be a coordinated effort,” said Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party in the tea party stronghold of southwestern Ohio.

The Rev. Rousseau A. O’Neal, one of a group of black ministers from Cincinnati who provided buses to take African Americans to the polls in 2008 and plan to do so again in November, described the tea party project and the curtailment of weekend voting as “bigotry of the highest order.”

“Who ever thought we’d be fighting for the right to vote in 2012?” he asked.

The tea party groups, scattered around the state, have joined forces under the banner of the Ohio Voter Integrity Project. It is an offshoot of True the Vote, a Texas organization that has recruited volunteers nationwide to challenge voter rosters and work as poll watchers.

True the Vote was founded by Catherine and Bryan Engelbrecht, a couple who run an oil field equipment manufacturing firm in Rosenberg, Texas.

Go to the link to read the rest.

NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Polls: Obama Leads Romney in Florida, Ohio and Viriginia

Let’s just say that these three polls underscore a)the bounce President Barack Obama got from the Democratic convention and b) the increased critical important of the Presidential debates in this election for Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney:

After two political conventions and heading into the post-Labor Day sprint, President Barack Obama leads Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the key battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio and Virginia, according to new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls of each of these three states.

In both Florida and Virginia, Obama is ahead of Romney by five points among likely voters (including those leaning toward a particular candidate), 49 percent to 44 percent.

In Ohio, the president’s lead is seven points, 50 percent to 43 percent.

Among a larger pool of registered voters, Obama’s advantage over Romney slightly increases to 7 points in Virginia, 8 in Florida and 9 in Ohio.

“You’d rather be in Obama’s shoes than Romney’s in these three critical states,” Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, says of the poll results.

But he adds that Obama’s leads are not “insurmountable,” especially as the two candidates prepare for their first presidential debate on Oct. 3 in Colorado.


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The Right to Vote Being Imperilled in America! (La Repubblica, Italy)

Are U.S. Republicans genuinely worried about voter fraud, or are the legal battles playing out across the country really about reducing the vote among segments of the population that usually vote for Democrats? For Italy’s La Repubblica, columnist Frederico Rampini explains the differences between voting in Italy and America, and examines the motives of a party that opposes photo ID for sales of weapons and ammunition, but strictly insists on it for voting.

For La Repubblica, Frederico Rampini writes in part:

In Italy and many other countries around the globe, one is required to have an identity card. In America, in fact, you don’t. An identity card per se does not actually exist. The most common form of identification is a drivers license – or a passport for those who travel abroad (less than 20 percent of Americans). You could be asked for identification before being served an alcoholic beverage as proof that you aren’t underage; but in some U.S. states and under certain circumstances you won’t be asked for ID (as in the sale of ammunition on the Internet or weapons at “gun shows”), which you might use to go out and commit a massacre.

 

Then out of the blue, Republicans in many U.S. states introduced bills, according to which an ID is mandatory to register to vote or be admitted to a polling station on Election Day. This request, which may seem trivial in Europe, is in fact discriminatory in the United States. This serves to reduce the number of voters among the young, the poor and ethnic minorities: those who typically vote for Democrats. Why is this discriminatory? First of all, if you are poor and don’t read newspapers, you may not even know that these rules have been introduced, and don’t find out until Election Day, when you are unexpectedly asked for an ID: and then it’s too late. Second, getting an ID costs money and time (documents to fill out and long lines, etc.). And if you’re unemployed, Black or Hispanic, you are culturally and economically less equipped to deal with this obstacle course.

 

The right justifies this campaign by asserting a need to fight electoral fraud. But for the last 30 years, electoral malpractice in America has been negligible (the biggest case of “electoral fraud” in history was perpetrated in 2000 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which robbed an election victory from Al Gore). Yet this same right wing is prepared to denounce any attack on constitutional rights if it involves stricter control over who buys guns.

READ ON IN ENGLISH OR ITALIAN OR READ MORE ON GLOBAL VIEWS OF THE U.S. CAMPAIGN AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

‘Fame and the Man on the Moon’

That’s the name of this column, written for the Community Press newspapers in Cincinnati, after a close encounter of a distant kind with astronaut and engineer Neil Armstrong, who passed away today.

Armstrong’s family described him today as “a reluctant hero.” Those are always the best kind.

Why I Question The Ryan Pick

Over the last few days we’ve had tons of ink (and electrons) spilled over the choice of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate. As those who have followed my TMV posts know, I had hoped for a selection like Rob Portman but I wanted to give myself a few days to think things over before making a knee jerk response.

But as I’ve had time to think about it my initial reactions have pretty much remained the same. I am uncomfortable with the selection and I think that in the long run it will turn out to be a negative for the GOP ticket.

Let me be clear though, I am not in the “Paul Ryan is evil” camp that so many of my liberal friends seem eager to jump into. Ryan is a clearly intelligent and thoughtful man with 14 years of experience in Washington. He has taken a serious stab at addressing budgetary issues that most politicians have run from.

He is also by all accounts a decent man with a deep concern for public service and for his fellow citizens. He does not want old people to lose their Social Security, he does not want to let children starve, he does not want to have us drinking dirty water or eating spoiled food (all allegations I’ve seen in the media over the past few days).

Having said that, there are some problems I do have with the candidate. Certainly it is important for us to take a real look at budgetary reform and doing that requires entitlement reform as well.

Those on the left who think we can just continue to spend at the current levels and that “taxing the rich” will resolve all are wrong. By the same token, those on the right who think we can solve the budget mess without tax increases are also wrong.

I don’t want to get too deep into the weeds on the budget issues as I plan to write a separate post on that topic but I wanted to address it briefly as a foundation for why I have problems with the Ryan choice.

It is perhaps cliche to say so but before you can govern you have to win the election. If you don’t come up with 270 electoral votes in November than you aren’t going to be changing the carpets in the Oval Office and your proposals are meaningless.

Thus for me the most important factor in choosing a running mate is that he or she will help you win the election. This doesn’t mean you entirely compromise your values (IE I would not expect a Republican to choose a hard liberal or a Democrat a hard conservative) but you do pick the 80% good candidate who can help over the 90% good one who cannot.

Looking at Ryan, I do not see how he seriously improves the prospects of a Romney victory in November.

Yes he is a conservative who will energize the base but all of the polls prior to the announcment showed the Republicans with a much more energized base than the Democrats had. Conservatives might not love Romney but from their point of view, the prospect of four more years of Obama/Biden should be more than sufficient to prompt a heavy turnout in November.

Certainly it is possible he will prompt some voters to show up to the polls or to work a bit harder for the campaign but I don’t see that much of a benefit.

On the other side of the coin I think there are several areas where Ryan has a negative impact on things from the Romney POV.

At the same time Ryan is energizing the GOP base I think he also serves to help energize the Democratic base, and that could balance out the modest gains amoung the Republicans.

More importantly I think Ryan could turn elements of the key independent swing vote that both parties depend on. I don’t see a moderate in Ohio turning to a Romney/Ryan ticket the way they would to a Romney/Portman offering.

Similarly the entitlement issue gives the Democrats a real opening with seniors in Florida, and that could hamper GOP efforts to take back that important state.

Obviously we still have several months to go and many things will play out, but my initial reaction is not positive. I won’t say it’s entirely negative yet and I still lean to supporting Romney (to the degree my vote in California matters) but it is not the kind of choice I would have made.

Romney’s Blunders Give Poland a Boost! (Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland)

Was Mitt Rimney’s foreign tour a success or a failure? One way or another, writes Mariusz Zawadzki of Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza, the nation of Poland came out a winner, since Romney’s gaffe-filled trips to Britain and Israel raised interest in Romney’s time in Poland. Furthermore, Zawadzki writes, when it comes to the U.S. presidential election – there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two men.

For the Gazeta Wyborcza, Mariusz Zawadzki’s funnily ironic article says in part :

Let us not be picky – we found ourselves at the center of America’s spotlight and came out with flying colors. This has value regardless of the outcome of the U.S. elections in November. Thank you, Mitt!

Paradoxically, we were helped by Romney’s catastrophic blunders in Great Britain and Israel. America was listening with heightened interest to news from Warsaw, wondering whether the extraordinary black series would continue. Nobody expected Romney’s first foreign visit to be such a blow to his image – he literally managed to conjure bad emotions out of nothing, even in circumstances which usually generate only good ones, like the Olympics. A day before the opening of the London Games, he was on TV expressing doubt about the preparedness of its hosts, which brought ridicule and mockery on his head, both from Britain’s media and politicians.

In Jerusalem he proffered – on his own, nobody asked him! – a shocking opinion that the because of their culture, Israelis are economically prosperous as compared to the Palestinians.

As Romney flew from Jerusalem to Poland, his critics and mockers wondered what he might say while visiting us that would be equally idiotic and offensive. For example, would he lecture Putin and threaten him with a return of the Cold War? Several months ago Romney said that Russia is America’s “greatest geopolitical enemy.” Ultimately, however, his Warsaw speech turned out to be a boilerplate enumeration of the virtues and merits of the heroic, freedom-loving Polish nation, starting with Kazimierz Pulaski, through the Polish pope’s world-changing “Do not be afraid,” to the “simple electrician who toppled communism” and gratitude for help in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that Romney’s vision of the world, as outlined in his previous statements, is anachronistic, as if they were borrowed from the Cold War era. One must hope that this is largely a picture drawn for the election’s sake. We will only know for sure if the Republican candidate wins in November. Then the conversations in Gda?sk and Warsaw will have proven invaluable – not only will Poland be America’s friend, but Polish leaders will be among the first foreign friends and advisers of its president.

READ ON IN ENGLISH OR POLISH AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

Guns, Aurora, and George Zimmerman

WASHINGTON – IN THE GAPING MAW of our leadership vacuum stands Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates, whose resolve, vulnerability and humility inside the vortex of a man made hell revealed what nobody in Congress or either political party has shown in decades. Leadership without regard to anything but his own duty to the people, which included the cops in the eye of volcanic carnage. Over a thousand miles away, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg used his voice and the power of his office to challenge the two contenders for the presidency, Pres. Obama and Mitt Romney, to do something besides talk. Don’t hold your breath.

“With that drum magazine, he could have gotten off 50, 60 rounds, even if it was semiautomatic, within one minute,” Chief Oates said. [New York Times]

What foreshadowed the calamity on Friday, in a weird instant of synchronistic scheduling, came in the closing moments of last Sunday’s “The Newsroom” episode, when a childish adult soap opera gave way to the real live drama surrounding the shooting of Gabrille Giffords in 2011. In a split second moment where decisions become destiny, the fictional news anchor Will McAvoy listened to his team and refused to follow all of the other news organizations in pronouncing the fate of Rep. Giffords, because every one of them had followed the leader, NPR, who ended up getting it wrong.


Fast forward, inconvenient facts from the New York Times:

Mr. Holmes was detained by the police soon afterward, standing by his white Hyundai. He was identified by the authorities as a former Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado in Denver, and an honors graduate in neuroscience from the University of California, Riverside. He had in the car an AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, and a .40 caliber Glock handgun, said Chief Dan Oates of the Aurora police, and all three were believed to have been used inside the theater. Another Glock .40 caliber handgun was recovered inside the theater. Chief Oates said that “many, many” rounds were fired, but that there was no count so far.

In the last 60 days Mr. Holmes had purchased four guns at local gun shops, Chief Oates said. And through the Internet, he bought more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition: more than 3,000 rounds for the assault rifle, 3,000 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition for the two Glocks, and 300 rounds for the 12-gauge shotgun. The guns were all bought legally, a federal law enforcement official said.

N.R.A. groupies are gathering, as gun safety advocates feel the wind beneath them yet again. Think Progress blares this headline in an ode to the vanquished: Expired Assault Weapons Ban Would Have Covered Rifle Used In Colorado Shooting.

It might have been convincing if they’d used “could” instead of “would,” but even then it’s absolute rubbish.

Assault weapons ban doesn’t ban assault weapons. Banning massive assault clips of tens of bullets won’t really ban them. Both provide a bromide for people ignorant of the gun lobby and firearm industry’s reach and the fact that people can also make a silencer themselves. It’s why people like my husband, a gun expert and someone who has owned some of the most fierce weaponry available, including the most beautiful sniper rifle I’ve ever seen, don’t support this type of legislation. What I’ve learned from him and studying the gun industry is that component parts can always be purchased by those knowing where to get them or just following the gun shows or reading certain newspapers.

That doesn’t mean an effort to confront the N.R.A. isn’t worthy, overdue and important, with the very “banning” efforts worth the energy, if only to send the message, rally ordinary citizens who have a right to live in this country and feel safe without being told they need to be armed. I write this as a gun owner and someone who’s fired an M-16, as well as other weaponry and who has no intention of living without a firearm in my home ever again. As long time readers know, I encouraged my husband to get a conceal carry permit for his own safety; a man who still has part of a .22 caliber bullet in his gut from when two young thugs confronted him and shot him, an assault from which he almost died, as he was walking away from turning on a customer’s gas in what used to be known as “the projects” in a depressed area of Las Vegas. Every time one of these shootings occurs my husband feels what the recovering victims are going through and we have the same conversation. He loathes the N.R.A. and believes they are way too extreme in their politics.

Despite the changes over the past 13 years, Colorado law still prohibits local governments from restricting gun rights in several significant ways. Moreover, gun rights organizations have successfully fought other efforts to restrict access to guns, including blocking a University of Colorado rule prohibiting concealed weapons on campus. People in Colorado are allowed to carry firearms in a vehicle, loaded or unloaded, as long as the gun is intended for lawful uses like personal protection or protecting property. – Colorado Gun Laws Remain Lax, Despite Some Changes

The N.R.A. operates with political immunity, buying our politicians and rallying the faithful, while citizens who don’t fancy firearms are made to feel sheepish, and act cowardly as a result, while not putting their fury into action by joining one of the groups who combat the N.R.A. every day. Democrats have ducked the assault weapons ban, including Rep. Giffords, for fear of getting voted out of office and not being able to do important other works. People have a choice on whether to amass to stand opposite the N.R.A., offering voter cover for politicians who acknowledge the Second Amendment, but have evolved enough philosophically and politically to understand that in our violently modern world there should be strict enforcement, met by technological advancements like micro-stamping technology, to compel the N.R.A. to be responsible in the new world reality, instead of a chief enabler of societal violence, while marginalizing a silent majority of people who don’t arm themselves out of choice. Who’s representing their rights in Congress or the White House? Why aren’t these Americans demanding representation? Until they do in large numbers nothing will change.

History has also shown that we won’t ever stop the lone gunman determined to kill.

Naming enablers and propagandists of violence matters, like the N.R.A., which continually chooses a path of irresponsibility for capitalism’s sake, with those in the political arena far guiltier than any movie or video game. Anyone saying using the Aurora shooting for “political gains” is shameful is likely in the pocket of the N.R.A. and is employing the plan these advocates always do, which is to shame opponents and make them feel un-American for believing that the Second Amendment wasn’t intended to infringe on their rights to feel safe without being armed.

Sugue to Sean Hannity, who began his radio show on Friday by lecturing everyone not to politicize the massacre in Aurora, Colorado. By the middle of the first hour he was squealing about ABC’s Brian Ross, who made an unvetted, unprofessional snap judgment for which they were forced to apologize, because he coupled the shooter in Aurora with the Tea Party. Hannity immediately attached Ross with “the left,” because in today’s America, everyone chooses their own facts. There is no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Ross is associated with “the left,” which barely exists today. The second caller on his show went on a bender, railing against Democrats, bringing the Gabrielle Giffords shooting into the mix, with Hitler brought in for dramatic affect. The next caller raised the issue of gun control in New York City.

Everyone’s reacting, while simultaneously shrugging, what can we do? Who knew? How this could ever happen in a movie theater, let alone 13 miles away from where the Columbine slaughter occurred, is just too much to contemplate. So we don’t.

Meanwhile, anyone want to bet the N.R.A. is marshaling it’s offenses, preparing to go into battle in a public campaign that will include making sure politicians know why their campaign coffers stay full and on whose side they need to be?

The Sunday, cable and radio shows ready to book their segments in timely little allotments, making sure all sides are represented, with no one today having the gravitas to actually lead the conversation with a mission of finding answers to questions and let “balance” fall where it might amid the truth. Across the board there are tortured efforts of false equivalency, as if facts and truth have sides, though today that’s the template.

A guy over at the amusingly named “Reason” site, took aim at the Brady campaign’s reaction to the shooting, then went into a defensive crouch over gun laws, which mimics a lot of reactions on the right.

Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, one of Michele Bachmann’s McCarthyite pals, whom the Washington Post called out in an op-ed yesterday, blamed the carnage on the “ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs,” then wondered why no one at the midnight premiere of the movie was armed to take down the assassin. David Weigel responded. It’s why arming teachers and students remains an open campaign. Remember Virginia Tech, they say.

Now let me now get down in the gutter with Sean Hannity and his surreal interview with George Zimmerman, who’s out on $1 million bond after being charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, through the right of a concealed carry. It’s no coincidence Hannity was the first to speak to Zimmerman, who called him after the shooting, at a time his own attorneys couldn’t reach him. In the interview, exactly as Hannity did Friday on his show, while preening about the importance of keeping politics out of the conversation, when speaking to George Zimmerman, Hannity couldn’t help but single out Al Sharpton, which not only brought politics into the discussion, but race, too, Hannity’s objective. Whether you like Sharpton or not, he’s been overtly active in racial confrontations his entire life, so anyone thinking his being on MSNBC mattered has not been paying attention. That Sean Hannity uses his show for political purposes every day, but that’s okay, reveals his unethical hypocrisy.

George Zimmerman sat emotionless as he talked, with his attorney beside him, but it was Sean Hannity who did most of the talking, leading Zimmerman in the telling of his story, which included some gobsmacking quotes. He didn’t regret anything the night of the shooting. He didn’t regret getting out of the car that fatal night. He would do nothing differently that night. He put words in Trayvon Martin’s mouth, saying the teen threatened him by saying, “You’re going to die tonight [obscenity deleted].” Alleging that Martin then went for his gun. He apologized to the Martin family, too.

Zimmerman also unloaded this obscenity.

“I feel that it was all God’s plan and for me to second guess it or judge it…” – George Zimmerman

God didn’t have a part in the planning Zimmerman’s actions or his killing of Trayvon Martin that left him alive. George Zimmerman may be found not-guilty of second-degree murder, but he’s sure as hell not innocent.

If God was the puppet George Zimmerman thinks She is, you’d have to apply this obscene correlation to the Holmes massacre in Aurora, Colorado, which is offensive on its face.

You’d have to apply it to the Gabrille Giffords shooting, Virginia Tech, Columbine and on and on.

A killer putting himself on the side of his “God,” enabled by Sean Hannity through his use of his media platforms, while he points at Al Sharpton, with the dead African American teen, the actual victim of a man with a concealed carry and a penchant for neighborhood heroism, who took his life, getting a prime time stage to say “he’s not a racist.” Oh, and he would say he was sorry if he did anything wrong, so the media should say they’re sorry to him, too. The killer turned victim by virtue of concealed carry, stand your ground, “self defense.” Not one question about why a man with a concealed carry was so irresponsible as to create the situation that had him getting out of his car to interact with Trayvon Martin in the first place.

This is what passes for “justice” in this country today, splattered across flat screens from one coast to another, while Fox News rakes in the ratings.

And people wonder why the N.R.A. is fearless?

James Holmes, the shooter identified in the Aurora slaughter, is a guy in the social media age who was called an “online ghost” by Mashable editor Lance Ulanoff. Holmes obviously plotted and planned the massacre, methodically booby-trapping his apartment so thoroughly that SWAT didn’t dare enter the door, while evacuating the surrounding neighborhood. In Aurora, bomb experts have disabled a tripwire and an incendiary device rigged to blow on entry, but they’ve got a long way to go.

God doesn’t plan these things, human beings out for blood do.

If you looked at Memeorandum on Friday, the listing of what was trending was filled with right-wing attacks on ABC News that were earned, as well as finger-pointing at “the left,” but the Tea Party is undeserving of becoming the news or the “victim.” They’re a group who has applauded the actions of open carry at political rallies, so there is photographic proof that they’re one of the enablers of threats and violence in our society, though not all Tea Partiers are to blame. There was one single, solitary article challenging leading politicians on guns. By even lauding Bloomberg’s efforts I’m sure someone will bring up his Wall Street ties and what that evilness means, even if it has nothing to do with his efforts on illegal firearms.

From Sean Hannity inserting himself and methodically manipulating the media coverage in the Trayvon Martin murder case to Michele Bachmann’s McCarthyism to ABC’s Brian Ross’s amateur mistake that wrongly tied the Tea Party to the Aurora shooter, juxtaposed against John Sununu saying he wished Pres. Obama would learn to be an American, which was followed by Mitt Romney reciting the word “foreign” multiple times in a speech in reference to the President’s policies, the picture being painted of this country should embarrass us all.

But it won’t. The same political system that has failed us immeasurably, we count all the ways day after day, will limp along throughout this election year, with partisan pom poms distracting people from the inevitable mind numbing outcome that renders results that are always the same: less representation of the people.

When people try to move outside the corrupt political system to challenge the status quo that’s killing this country, because Democratic and Republican leaders have led us to this fate, they’re vilified and arrogantly lectured that everything will be their fault if –insert your favorite candidate here– is not elected. Few stop to consider or try to understand the message these people are sending to partisan fans. They couldn’t possibly have something to say, a clue to what’s gone wrong. The partisan never stops to think that if the politicians offered actual solutions for the people they wouldn’t be losing voters. Independents, squishy as they are because they can’t see any leadership worth supporting, have been the canary in the American democracy mine for decades. Maybe gun safety advocates will start pressuring politicians to do something, so instead of guns being a third rail, as Eliot Spitzer calls it in the video at the top of this column, it will be an issue on which people hinge their vote, so that more independents are created from disaffected Ds and Rs, so something starts to really shift. Because as much as Republicans are in the bag for the N.R.A., Democrats aren’t any better, with the outcome clear.

Twelve dead in Aurora, Colorado, with at 59 wounded and that’s not counting the damaged hearts and minds.

An unarmed African American teen shot dead by a citizen with a concealed carry craving hero worship, instead of leaving the situation to the police.

A teen opens fire in Chardon, Ohio, killing and wounding students.

A shooting rampage at a California Christian university over a tuition dispute.

A teen in Texas turns a gun on a fellow student, with the police having to “take him out.”

A 9-year-old boy brings a .45-caliber handgun to his elementary school and it discharges from inside his backpack, critically wounding another kid.

Another from the Fox News list: “A 6-year-old boy accidentally fired a gun inside Ross Elementary School in Houston, Texas, injuring himself and two other children.”

A 15 year-old shoots another student Martinsville West Middle School in Martinsville, Ind.

In 2006: Eric Hainstock, 15, took a shotgun from his father’s gun cabinet and a .22-caliber revolver from his father’s bedroom to his school in rural Cazenovia, Wis., and fatally shot the principal.

March 21, 2005: With his own .22-caliber handgun, and his grandfather’s Glock handgun and 12-gauge shotgun, Jeff Weise, 16, shot and killed his grandfather, a policeman and his grandfather’s girlfriend at their home, then went to his high school, also on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, and fatally shot eight people, including himself.

April 24, 2003: James Sheets, 14, shot and killed principal Eugene Segro in the crowded cafeteria at the Red Lion Area Junior High School in south-central Pennsylvania before killing himself. Police determined that Sheets used a key to take three guns from his stepfather’s gun safe.

May 26, 2000: Nathaniel Brazill, 13, killed his English teacher at Lake Worth Community High School in Lake Worth, Fla. According to police, Brazill stole the .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol from his grandfather’s house.

Feb. 29, 2000: A 6-year-old boy from Mount Morris Township, Mich., killed classmate Kayla Rolland, also 6, at Buell Elementary School with a .32-caliber semiautomatic handgun left in an open shoebox. The boy and his mother had been staying at the home of his uncle and his uncle’s friend, Jamelle James, 19. James, who kept the gun in the shoebox, spent 2 1/2 years in prison after pleading no contest to involuntary manslaughter.

The examples above are from one Fox News link. Suck on that, Second Amendment advocates, of which I’m one, except I draw the line at enabling violence promoters, which includes the N.R.A., politicians who pledge allegiance to that group, and any media personality who does their bidding.

Americans just keep going ’round and ’round in the hamster wheel of recurring events, with our yearly tragedies multiplying and bringing moments of silence, prayers and split second moralizing how it’s not guns or politics or men, and it’s certainly nothing that could be wrong with American policies or that people can do something about this.

In God we trust, so it must be “God’s plan,” which is as good an excuse as any to keep from looking at our society, which just keeps spinning further out of control, in a country that can’t feed it’s poor, employ its people, or solve our nation’s problems.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

We’re addicted all right. Addicted to violence against each other, ourselves, our planet, our “enemies,” our friends, our environment, the very world that sustains us and there’s no evidence anywhere that enough people want to get off the merry-go-round we’ve been on for decades to change the direction in which we’re hurling.

Into this stepped Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates. He reminded everyone of what’s possible in a leader. Watching Gov. John Hickenlooper, whom former Gov. Bill Owens called “the father of Colorado today,” while he worked mightily to frame the words from a mind muddled from lack of sleep, we were seeing a man off script, speaking from the heart and praying the people would translate his message as he barely begins to bring his state back from death’s grip.

The nation watches.

But what will people do about it?

“The gun prohibition people tried to use Gabrielle Giffords and the Trayvon Martin case to get their cause going again, and weren’t particularly successful with that,” he said. At the state level, he added, having fought pitched battles over gun rights since the 1980s, “we’re at a reasonably well settled point,” and “the legislature is not that interested in opening it up again.” Mr. Volokh said the fragmentary information available so far about Mr. Holmes and the attack did not make a strong case for reform. [The New York Times]

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.

Obama Bus Tour in Parma, Ohio: Your Choice, Your Vote

So, it was fun. It wasn’t quite like old times, but maybe that’s a good thing. You can see my photos here and you can read my full blog post here. The teaser:

On Thursday evening, July 5, for the first time in over four years, I saw Barack Obama in person.The last three times I saw him, he was either just plain ole U.S. Senator Obama (2006) or Senator and presidential candidate Obama (2007, 2008). The main differences I noticed? Age, confidence, charisma, and fervor — he displayed more of all four.

You can read the transcript or watch a video of the President delivering his remarks, made at James Day Park in Parma, Ohio. This stop was his last public speaking event of the day after multiple other stops in Ohio, all part of the Obama Bus Tour, complete with Ground Force One – the tripped out rolling home for presidents (note, however, as does the Wall Street Journal, that the campaign is paying for the trip). My tweets tell the story of the Parma stop, while my journalist friend at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Henry Gomez, covered all of the Ohio visits.

Why, at this point, would anyone who follows politics as much as I do, attend one of these highly choreographed and usually tightly scripted media-ready occasions? Especially when we are on the umpteenth day of 95 degree and 95% humidity weather, with a good mix of thunderstorm threats?

Great question!

[now go read the full post]

Live-tweeting of Obama Event in Parma, Ohio Tonight

First the vitals: Follow @Jillmz or the Twitter.com hashtag #ObamaBusTour starting around 7pm or earlier (the event is scheduled to start at 7:15pm but I will be there earlier with a press credential – I’m tweeting and blogging as a Contributing Editor for BlogHer.com).

The less vital but might answer the “who’s she” questions: I haven’t posted here in a long time because I haven’t been posting most anywhere all that much in the last year or so. I’ve got three (city council, the EfficientGovNetwork and development director for the Civic Commons) or four (the BlogHer gig) great, wonderful, meaningful, paying jobs, plus another great wonderful, meaningful non-monetary paying job (being a mom to three teens) plus three great places to blog anytime I want – Writes Like She Talks, In The Arena, and this great URL (thank you as ALWAYS and for many years now, Joe et al). But extremely little time to write like I used to for those last three.

However, I am guessing that TMV folks would probably enjoy some live tweeting from the crazy place that is my home-state and region, NE Ohio. So off I’m going – because as those who do remember me, I love love love live-blogging and live-tweeting. Plus, my 18 year old son wanted to go and will be attending too. His first rally of this magnitude. Can’t wait for the car ride home!

The Future of Fracking: A Forum at its Ground Zero – Ohio

I’m thrilled to be a part of the Civic Commons, a social media organization based in Cleveland that works for the civic good. [My project is the EfficientGovNetwork. Charting the Future of Fracking, is one reason why. Take a look at how much has been discussed just since it opened at 8:30am this morning. If you want to get the feel for how extensive the issues and emotions are on this topic, there’s no better conversation to follow – or contribute to, especially if you live in a community dealing with them.

Kucinich Goes Down to Defeat

In all the hoopla generated over the Super Tuesday Republican presidential primaries, not much attention has been paid to the defeat of the long time liberal gadfly, Dennis Kucinich, in a Democratic primary in Ohio. Kucinich had two previous unsuccessful runs for president and vigorously opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a strong critic of military spending and a supporter of virtually all social programs. Kucinich also tried to bring articles of impeachment against President Bush and VP Cheney. A victim of re-districting, he had to run against another Democrat, Marci Kaptur, who had been in Congress for fifteen terms, was a member of the Appropriations Committee and had the longest tenure of any woman in the House.

However, Kucinich’s outspoken voice may not yet be stilled. There is some thought that he may run for Congress in Washington State where there are three open districts and the filing deadline is not until May 10. A long time lightening rod for critics from the right, he has had his share of conflict as well with members of his Democratic Party, so there may be some ambivalence over his attempts to return to Congress. http://politi.co/wZiNvM

Resurrecting Democracy

Romney’s Democratic Playbook on How to Steal Elections

In every contested primary so far, there are two patterns that have emerged. 1) If the race is close, the media will not call the winner for the conservative candidate against Romney. So far, it has happened to Santorum twice in Iowa and Michigan and Paul once in Maine. 2) If the race is extremely close, the establishment has tried to swing the decision for Mitt Romney. The most egregious case, of course, was the overt cheating in Michigan that changed the rules from a tie of delegates to a win for Romney.

In Ohio, NBC just announced with 85% of the vote in, Santorum is up about 3,000 votes – if that is the margin at 11 p.m. – I can pretty much tell you what will be the lead story at 12 a.m. – Romney will be declared the winner. Why? The Republican establishment has invested far too much in Romney’s candidacy to let the upstart conservative / Tea Party wing of the party to mess up their golden boy.

However, if tonight in Ohio goes the way of Michigan, I think it backfires on the establishment. The fact that Santorum has done so well tonight is a direct reflection on how conservatives view Mitt Romney – he is spoiled little rich boy with a silver spoon in his mouth. I think Romney mad a tactical mistake by allowing his surrogates to steal one delegate. In making the deal, and winning a state that already had voted, Romney cost himself the one shred of credibility he had left. In simple terms, he cheated. Even in 2008, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton went through a grueling six month primary marathon neither one tried to manipulate arcane party rules to alter the outcome of a primary, yet that is exactly what Romney did in Michigan.

In the county map of Ohio, another pattern emerges, Romney last all of the rural counties in Maryland while winning the 10 or so urban counties near Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo – all of these areas vote heavily Democrat in general elections. We will see if Romney and his folks take a page out of the Democrat playbook that Republcans complain about every year – waiting until the middle of the night to manufacture votes in urban areas for a narrow statewide win.

Is Dennis Done ?

Fellow TMV’er Jill Miller Zimon has a great post on the Ohio primary but one other thing to watch is the possible end for one of the more.. colorful members of Congress.

Dennis Kuchinich is in a primary battle with fellow Democrat Marcy Kaptur and while some papers argue that you should never count Dennis out the latest polling does suggest he could be on his way out of Congress.

Something else to keep your eye on.

Ohio: What You Need Know About Today’s Primary

I’m a Leo — I should love all this attention being lavished on Ohio because of its Super Tuesday swing state status. Where to begin?

In this post, I boil it down to the polls, the women, the weather and the independents.

What do you think will make the difference in Ohio and who do you think will win?

Chardon, Ohio – From a Neighbor’s View

Here in Northeast Ohio, Monday morning shattered when news of a high school junior shooting several of his schoolmates started streaming into my inbox via news alerts.

At 8:18 a.m., I read: Breaking News: Report: Geauga County Sheriff’s Department and OSHP heading to Chardon High School (the original item isn’t even there anymore, there’ve been so many updates)

I didn’t have to read another word before saying the trifecta out loud to an empty house, “G-ddamnit. S***. F***.”

Even as I write this, my stomach cramps up, my lower lids fill up and I bite my lip drawing in a huge sigh.

I thought that the first thing I’d write about in this post would be about what we know. But ha. Really — just ha. Because I also think about all that we don’t know. And what of either category simply doesn’t matter?

For anyone wanting to keep up or catch up, so far, the best source for information has been the Cleveland Plain Dealer and you can find all their reports on the Chardon shooting here. I’ve heard multiple news outlets congratulate them throughout the week, and I’d say they’re deserving.

For the full frontal assault of living through this right next door to where it unfolded, and after my own community survived weeks of terrorizing threats from three teen boys now up on 17 felony charges, read here.

A Reset for 2012

WASHINGTON – Pres. Obama didn’t lift a rhetorical sentence to help Wisconsin activists fight Scott Walker.

In Ohio, Ed Schultz was on the front line, while Pres. Obama stayed out of it. In Arizona, the voters kicked out a radical right wing bigot.

Mississippi refused a “personhood” amendment that was so extreme it would have theoretically outlawed some forms of contraception, as well as in vitro fertilization.

But it’s Obama who is benefiting from what happened, taking Ohio as a prime example, which will come as very good news for the White House and national Democrats. It’s good news for progressive activists, too, no matter how much Pres. Obama has infuriated them.

Organized labor’s early flirtation with Occupy Wall Street is starting to get serious. […] “The Occupy movement has changed unions,” said Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “You’re seeing a lot more unions wanting to be aggressive in their messaging and their activity. You’ll see more unions on the street, wanting to tap into the energy of Occupy Wall Street.” Unions have long stuck to traditional tactics like picketing. But inspired by the Occupy protests, labor leaders are talking increasingly of mobilizing the rank and file and trying to flex their muscles through large, boisterous marches, including nationwide marches planned for Nov. 17. Organized labor is also seizing on the simplicity of the Occupy movement’s message, which criticizes the great wealth of the top 1 percent of Americans compared with the economic struggles of much of the bottom 99 percent.Occupy Movement Inspires Unions to Embrace Bold Tactics

Just months ago, Obama’s chances in Ohio for 2012 were uncertain at best. However, after what labor, teachers, firefighters and cops did on SB-5, the Democratic coalition, joined by Republicans too, have not only made the Democratic Party a little sexier, these activists proved their party actually stands for something.

I’ve been writing about the “coming home” phenomenon for a very long time. From PPP:

The biggest thing Obama has going for him right now is an extremely unified Democratic base. Obama gets 88-92% of his party’s vote against the six Republican candidates. What makes that particularly notable is that [Pres. Obama’s] approval rating with Democratic voters is actually only 73%. But these numbers suggest that when election time comes around the party base will get around Obama whether they’re totally thrilled with him or not, and that’s a very good sign for his reelection prospects.

Give people something to rally around, as well as vote for, as they did in Ohio for instance, and they’ll come out every time. Democrats didn’t in 2010 and they got what they deserved, even if the rest of us did not.

Occupy Wall Street is the backdrop.

It is the power helping fuel what’s going on.

The inspiration for people to get up and out and OCCUPY.

What happened in Ohio and in many other places across the country must be seen through the “We are the 99%” prism. Activists and voters who show up to vote in off-year elections know about #OWS, they’re savvy and they’re speaking out about what’s happened to the middle class, because they’re living it.

So, let’s call last night’s election a reset for 2012.

There’s something new afoot.

People are fed up. So they rose up, spoke out and then voted, with their successes washing over national Democrats, including Pres. Obama, most of whom don’t deserve to share the glow. But that’s how these things work. Now if the national politicians could catch the fever of your purpose.

A couple of months ago I said Pres. Obama had until Election Day, yesterday, to change what was going on.

He got lucky. The voters, represented by what happened in Ohio, did it for him.

What’s next? The supercommittee decision. People are watching.

Taylor Marsh’s new e-book, The Hillary Effect – Politics, Sexism and the Destiny of Loss, the view from a recovering partisan, will be published on November 8th. Marsh is an author, Washington based political analyst, veteran national politics writer and commentator on national politics, foreign policy, and women in power. She has reported from the White House, been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her new media blog.

The Right Wing’s 2011 Shellacking

WASHINGTON — This week’s elections around the country were brought to you by the word “overreach,” specifically conservative overreach. Given an opportunity in 2010 to build a long-term majority, Republicans instead pursued extreme and partisan measures. On Tuesday, they reaped angry voter rebellions.

The most important was in Ohio, where voters overwhelmingly defeated Gov. John Kasich’s bill to strip public employee unions of essential bargaining rights. A year ago, who would have predicted that standing up for the interests of government workers would galvanize and mobilize voters on this scale? Anti-labor conservatives have brought class politics back to life, a major threat to a GOP that has long depended on the ballots of white working-class voters and offered them nothing in return.

In Maine, voters exercised what that state calls a “people’s veto” to undo a Republican-passed law that would have ended same-day voter registration, which served Maine well for almost four decades. What’s often lost is that the conservative Republicans elected in 2010 aren’t simply pushing right-wing policies. Where they can, they are also using majorities won in a single election to manipulate future elections — by making it harder for young and minority voters to cast ballots, and by trying to break the political power of unions. The votes in Maine and Ohio were a rebuke to this strategy.

In Mississippi, perhaps the most conservative state in the union, voters beat back a referendum to declare a fertilized human egg a person by a margin of roughly 3-to-2. Here was overreach by the right-to-life movement, which tried to get voters to endorse a measure that could have outlawed popular forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization.

The war against overreach extended to the immigration issue, too. In Arizona, Russell Pearce became, as The Arizona Republic noted, the first sitting state Senate president in the nation as well as the first Arizona legislator ever to lose a recall election. Pearce, who spearheaded viciously anti-immigrant legislation, was defeated by Jerry Lewis, a conservative with a mild demeanor. Lewis correctly saw his as a victory for restoring “a civil tone to politics.” This was a case of old-fashioned conservatism beating the tea party variety.

And in Iowa, Democrats held their state Senate majority by winning a special election that had been engineered by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad. Occupy Wall Street, notice that elections matter: A Republican victory over Democrat Liz Mathis would have opened the way for Branstad to push through a cut in corporate income taxes.

Mathis’ defeat could also have allowed conservatives to amend the Iowa Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Mathis prevailed with 56 percent despite robocalls from an obscure group instructing voters to ask Mathis which gay sex acts she endorsed. (It should be said, as The Des Moines Register reported, that better-known organizations opposed to gay marriage denounced the calls.)

The one potential bright spot for Republicans was not as bright as it was supposed to be. In Virginia, both sides had expected the GOP to take over the state Senate. But at best, the Republicans will achieve a 20-20 tie, giving Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling a decisive role. And their chance of even getting to 20 hangs on the recount of an 86-vote margin in one district.

The split means Virginia has not reverted to its earlier status as a Republican bastion. It remains a purple state. Especially significant, Democratic consultant Mo Elleithee observed, were the party’s successes in the Washington, D.C., suburbs and exurbs and in Hampton Roads, precisely the areas where President Obama needs to do well if he is to carry Virginia next year, as he did in 2008. Democrats also comfortably held the New Jersey Legislature, suggesting the limits of Gov. Chris Christie’s much-touted political magic.

One of the only referendum results the GOP could cheer was a strong vote in Ohio against the health insurance mandate. While health reform supporters argued that the ballot question was misleading, the result spoke to the truly terrible job Democrats have done in defending what they enacted. They can’t let the health care law remain a policy stepchild.

That useful warning aside, Tuesday’s results underscored the power of unions and populist politics, the danger to conservatives of social-issue extremism, and the fact that 2010 was no mandate for right-wing policies. They also mean that if Republicans don’t back away from an agenda that makes middle-class, middle-of-the-road Americans deeply uncomfortable — and in some cases angry — they will lose the rather more important fight of 2012.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com. (c) 2011, Washington Post Writers Group

Voters Reject Extremism


You’d think the political class would learn. American voters generally do not take kindly to partisan overreach. Yes, there are exceptions, but yesterday was a reminder that Americans tend to be more centrist than either hard core liberal or hard core conservative. For those who think yesterday was a reinvigoration of the Democratic Party and rejection of the Republican Party, do not be too quick to forget the election of 2010 in response to Democrats overreaching.

Here’s a sampling of what happened yesterday:

Voters in Ohio rejected the anti-collective-bargaining proposal supported by Governor John Kasich. Taking away people’s rights to bargain collectively, even in the name of austerity, appears to have been regarded as a step too far.

In Mississippi, the “personhood” referendum went down to defeat. Language that would have outlawed certain forms of birth control as well as abortion was overreach. The voters saw it, and the voters rejected it.

Arizona voters recalled Senate President Russell Pearce, the champion of SB 1070 and numerous other anti-immigrant legislative initiatives. The actual count will not be official for about a week, but Pearce effectively conceded last night, referring to recall as the price a patriot pays for keeping his promises.*

Maine voters rejected a law that would have done away with same day voter registration. Slightly veiled voter suppression efforts seem not to be lost on the electorate, and taking away rights does not appear to be an agenda item for the American voter.

First Read comments on the anti-radical phenomenon here .

* Author’s Note: To be accurate, Pearce said recall is the price he paid for keeping his promises and thanked the friends and “patriots” who supported him. The merging of the two concepts is mine.

The Surprising New Class Politics

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. — The battle for the Midwest is transforming American politics.

Issues of class inequality and union influence, long dormant, have come back to life. And a part of the country that was integral to the Republican surge of 2010 is shifting away from the GOP just a few months later.

Republican governors, particularly in Wisconsin and Ohio, denied themselves political honeymoons by launching frontal assaults on public employee unions and proposing budgets that include deep cuts in popular programs.

Democrats in the region are elated at the quick turn in their fortunes. A few months ago, they worried that a region President Obama dominated in 2008 was turning against him. Republican triumphs in Wisconsin and Ohio, and also in Indiana, Michigan and Iowa, all pointed to trouble for the president.

Now, for reasons having more to do with decisions by GOP governors than with anything the president has done, many voters, particularly in the white working class, are having second thoughts.

“We certainly addressed the issue of Reagan Democrats,” said Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, referring to the blue-collar voters who began drifting Republican in 1980. Barrett lost to Gov. Scott Walker in November by a margin of 52 percent to 46 percent, but recent polls suggest he would defeat Walker if the election were rerun. In Ohio, Republican Gov. John Kasich, who won narrowly in 2010, has seen his approval rating drop to as low as 30 percent in one poll.

In telephone interviews last week, Democratic politicians across the Midwest avoided premature victory claims. “I don’t think we’ll know until November of 2012,” Gov. Mark Dayton of Minnesota replied when asked if the Republican moves against public employee unions would turn out to be a major error.

It’s a political irony that Republicans clearly believed unionized public employees were so unpopular that taking them on would play well with voters.

“It was part of an intentional strategy on the part of the right-wing Republican ideological machine to split private-sector workers from public-sector workers,” said Dayton, a Democrat who beat back the 2010 Republican tide. After decades involving “a giant transfer of wealth to the very top,” Dayton said, the campaign against public unions was “a way to distract attention” by creating “a fight over who is getting a dollar an hour more or less.” The effort, he added, “has not worked as well as they thought it would.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, said even union sympathizers were surprised at the degree to which the Republicans’ approach “blew up in their faces” and that “the poll numbers of support for collective bargaining for public-sector workers are stronger than even most labor supporters expected.”

Another surprise: the extent to which Democrats, long wary of being accused of “class warfare,” are now more eager than ever to cast the GOP as the party of the privileged.

Barrett recounted a parable making the rounds among Wisconsin Democrats, telling of a room in which “a zillionaire, a tea party person and a union member” confront a plate of 12 cookies: “The zillionaire takes 11 of the cookies, and says to the other two, ‘That guy is trying to steal your cookie.'”

Still, Democrats are aware that the flight from the Republicans is also a reaction against ideology. Dayton saw the GOP’s heavy-handed methods in Wisconsin as playing badly in a region proud of its tradition of consensus-building and good government.

And Brown said that while joblessness was the most important issue in last year’s election, one of the most effective Republican arguments was the claim that “Obama was governing by ideology.” That charge has been turned on its head because “now, they are so overdoing governing by ideology.”

Sen. Al Franken said he saw this reaction against ideology playing out in Washington’s budget battle as well, citing the example of leading Minnesota business people, including Republicans, who have been appalled at cuts in effective job training programs.

The first electoral tests of the new class politics will come in Wisconsin. David Prosser, a conservative state Supreme Court justice, is facing a surprisingly tough challenge in an April 5 election from JoAnne Kloppenburg, who has strong backing from anti-Walker forces. Later this year, several Republican state senators could face recall elections.

The tests for the longer run will be whether echoes from the heartland’s struggles over economic justice are heard as Congress debates budget cuts — and the extent to which Obama, who has already benefited from fights he did not pick, decides to join the battle.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com. (c) 2011, Washington Post Writers Group

Music Parody Skewers Ohio Gov. Kasich: “Never Knew A Non-White Man”

This satirical music video lampoons Ohio Governor John Kasich’s inability to find even one qualified non-white person for his cabinet (of 23 spots, 22 are filled, 17 to men, 5 to women). As Politico (“Ohio Gov: I don’t need your people”) and especially the Ohio blog, Plunderbund have noted, Governor Kasich has even gone as far as to say, in a room filled with the members of the Ohio Black Legislative Caucus, “I don’t need your people.” Here now, Ohio Governor John Kasich’s Lament (it’s satire people; it’s just too bad it springs from reality). You can read the lyrics at my original post. [I’m sorry to say that the youtube of this video has been removed but you can read of course still read the lyrics.]

Top 10 Things I Learned During My First Year in Elected Office

Pundits often say that they’d never run for office – invasion of privacy, they’ve done bad things, it’s so dirty, bla bla bla. So it takes some quantity of fearlessness, among other things, to even run. Having now served one year on the council of a small Ohio city outside of Cleveland – seriously? Stop making excuses – it’s the governing that most requires courage. I learned more than ten things this year by being on Council, but these are my top ten:

10. People will be mean and nasty simply because I am in elected office. It’s not personal.

9. People will respect me simply because I put myself out to be in elected office. It’s not personal.

8. If you’re not going to be able to sleep at night because you decide not to say something or not to vote a certain way, then say it, vote it and sleep.

7. Judging who is acting in good faith and who is not is central to building trust but should never dictate what you decide is the right thing to do.

6. There are approximately 6000 citizens in the City of Pepper Pike. Rounding off in estimates: That’s 1000 more than are registered to vote, 3000 more than voted in our August special election and about 5960 more than have ever been to City Council meetings. As a member of Council, however, I have to consider each and every one – regardless of whether they are registered to vote, eligible to vote, voted or have ever been to a Council meeting.

5. Listening is critical, but critical thinking and discussion shaped by critique is equally important.

4. I don’t know everything but thinking that I can and will eventually has led me to learn more about this City in twelve months than most citizens will in 12 years.

3. If you don’t like politics as usual, find the unusual path to serving the best interests of the City.

2. Our employees should be treated with dignity and respect and not as throwaway commodities. We should never underestimate the value they give to the city we’ve chosen to live in, no matter how difficult the decision-making becomes.

1. I am one of the luckiest people to have ever walked this Earth. I thank the voters for letting me serve this City.

Happy New Year.

This is cross-posted from my council-related blog, In The Arena. Please consider following it in 2011 – Pepper Pike will have candidates for mayor and three council seats in 2011. It should be a very different year – again – in Pepper Pike.

To Voters Who Wanted & Like 2010 Election Results: Tell Me Why I Should Not Feel Scared

Tell me why I should not be scared. Tell me why I should not worry. Tell me why I should not get a little nauseous every time I read a new sound bite or idea promoted by the newly elected public servants. Because when I open the paper, I find a lot about these folks that scares me – and they scared me before.

Specifically, I feel the need for a very honest and thoughtful explanation from those who are happy with the broadbase, electoral changes that will come into being next year for those who, like myself, really did not want them. Here in Ohio, I’m literally petrified of how my state now is blood red – every single branch – every single Supreme Court Justice even. I don’t want to feel scared and angry and with my guard up and hating on what’s about to happen here on so many levels, but I want people who I listen to to tell me why I should not feel this way – I want to not feel this way. And I’m sure that I’m not the only one feeling like this, across the country.

I’m not looking to defend why I find what they say they want to do as being scary. And I’m not interested in attacking why I can’t buy what it is you’re buying. My request – sincere – comes from knowing that I know people whom I believe have reasonable heads on their shoulders. I want to understand why those whom I do believe are smart and compassionate but prefer different methods for getting at problems than I might, and with that, have different priorities that inform how they prefer to solve problems, find what appears to be happiness and comfort in this changing of the guard. Because I’m totally not getting that. I’m not sure I ever will – I’ll say that from the start. But I absolutely want to understand what it is that you see that I don’t see or that I’m rejecting – if in fact I do. I totally do not want to move back East but I’m a blue girl in a red state now and stepping out of the cave and into the political sphere as I have, I’m really, really not happy with what I’m seeing in the Ohio future. Those who supported Kasich et al – clearly you see something different.

I want to understand that. So I’m asking, and listening. I’m going to let this thread run a bit before offering any comment, if any. And please, try to embrace the spirit of being asked and not use this as an opportunity to gloat or otherwise be snarky or nasty. Think of me like a kid and how you’d calmly and without expletives or anger explain to a 12 year old why you are excited about the changes and the positive results you see coming from them in the future.

Obama’s Weapons Deals with India are Nothing to Be Proud of: China Daily, People’s Republic of China

In the last 24 hours, the state-run newspapers in China emitted two cold blasts directed at the United States. One relates to President Obama’s trip to India, and the other the U.S. midterm elections

Although much of the attention surrounding President Obama’s trip to India focused on Pakistan’s reaction, the other elephant in the Indo-Asian room has also been watching carefully. Columnist Chen Weihua of the China Daily, in an article headlined Obama’s Weapons Deals with India are Nothing to Be Proud of, hits hard at the $10 billion in deals that are meant to create 50,000 jobs in the United States.

For the China Daily, Chen Weihua writes in part:

With U.S. unemployment staying stubbornly above 9.5 percent for 15 consecutive months, Obama promised that the trip would focus on job creation.

But the approximately 50,000 new U.S. jobs that could be created by the India business deals worth $10 billion are mostly in the defense industry. These are jobs to build weapons that could escalate a regional arms race. They are hardly jobs to be proud of.

Given the lobbying of the U.S. defense industry which employs an estimated 3 million people, it’s perhaps not surprising that the U.S. president serves as a broker for military contractors. America is eager to replace Russia as the biggest arms supplier to India, the world’s largest arms importer last year.

Obama should ask himself why Muslims in Indonesia, where he spent part of his childhood, are staging protests rather that welcoming him. He hasn’t acted to end the Afghanistan War as he promised. Rather, he has made it his own war. It’s now the longest war in U.S. history.

Obama should face up to reality and stop living in denial. He should tell the American people some hard truths. Companies that have secured deals in India are the same ones that have moved tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs overseas.

In the second article from the Chinese from the state-run Global Times, headlined China the Universal Scapegoat in America’s ‘Ugly’ Midterm Polls, U.S. correspondent John Gong writes about how American politicians have wrongly demonized China in order to win votes.

For the Global Times, John Gong writes in part:

Elections are always ugly. And the ugliness of the 2010 midterm election in the U.S. were especially distinguished by its vicious, rampant, and xenophobic campaign of China-bashing.

For the first time in history, from Detroit to Houston and New York to LA, using China as a scapegoat for every U.S. economic problem became a popular bipartisan sport in congressional the mud-wrestling.

China-bashing TV advertisements have showcased gongs, dragons, cheesy music, red communist flags, a flood of invading merchandise and insatiable Chinese consumers. Some of the ads have clearly touched on the sensitive battle line of race, casting a profound shadow over the lives of millions of Chinese Americans.

What’s so alarming is that anti-China feeling in the U.S. appears to be a broad-based and long-lasting trend. If this dangerous trend isn’t dealt with properly, it could be an explosive issue in future Sino-U.S. relations.

READ ON AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.