Wrapping Up 2012

 

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch.

The best year in review piece I've seen came from Dave Barry. You can read it here, and you really should. Where else could you see gems like this:

In labor news, Chicago teachers go on strike over controversial proposed contract changes that would allow the school board to terminate teachers who have passed away. Meanwhile, the NFL comes under increasing pressure to settle the referee strike following a game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Tennessee Titans in which the replacement refs call four balks and three traveling violations, and ultimately declare that the winner is the Green Bay Packers. At the end of the month the strike is settled, and the replacement refs move on to their new role as Florida elections officials.

 More after the jump.

We close the year with sad health news for two famous pols. George HW Bush is 88 years old, has Parkinson's, and breathing trouble. It doesn't look good for longevity. Hillary Clinton is at NY Presbyterian with a blood clot found after her fall-induced concussion. This is not her first blood clot. Shame on those right wing wacko pundits who claimed she was faking. We wish the best for Secretary Clinton.

The 112th Congress is ending. Tom Brokaw said it best yesterday on Meet the Press when he said that the real problem is that 75% of districts have been redistricted so that they're bulletproof. I hope that America wakes up to this, and changes the system by which we redistrict to non-partisan methods, and jungle primaries, so that we have a shot at a legitimate House. 

Aside from the House, it has been a good political year. This was the year that dark money failed, that liberals won the hearts, minds, and votes of a majority of Americans across the board. My personal goal for 2013 is to turn Pennsylvania blue at the local level, and position the state (block by block, town by town, county by county) to win back Harrisburg in 2014. Tall order for one as vertically challenged as myself, but I believe I'll have lots of help! And besides, there's this from some post on Facebook:

It's impossible, said pride.
It's risky, said experience.
It's pointless, said reason.
Give it a try, whispered the heart.

Happy coming 2013. The dream endures.

Friends of the IDF National Mission to Israel November 4-10, 2012

Have you ever fantasized about having a face-to-face meeting with the IDF Chief of the General Staff?  Meeting the pilots of the F-16 fighter planes, and seeing a demonstration of their skills?  You have the opportunity to realize these and many other fantasies on November 4, 2012 by participating in the FIDF’s National Mission to Israel.  

This mission brings together FIDF supporters from across the United States and Panama for a unique seven-day journey to Israel. In addition to touring the country and visiting the historic sites, participants of the FIDF Mission get to visit IDF bases.  On these bases participants get to meet soldiers as well as some of Israel’s top officials.  They get to see first-hand FIDF programs and projects that benefit IDF soldiers across the country. This extraordinary mission to Israel will culminate with a special ceremony marking the powerful bond between the State of Israel and the Jewish community worldwide.  This ceremony will salute the IDF soldiers and commanders, and pay tribute to FIDF’s valued supporters.

More after the jump.

The FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of holocaust survivors as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing and supporting educational, social, cultural, and recreational programs and facilities for the heroic men and women of the IDF. Today, FIDF has more than 120,000 loyal supporters, and 16 regional offices throughout the U.S. and Panama. FIDF proudly offers its support to the IDF soldiers and their families through a variety of unique and innovative programs. These opportunities reinforce the vital bond between the communities in the United States, the soldiers of the IDF, and the State of Israel.

Links:

For more information please contact: Meirav Schwartz, 646-274-9653

Why I am STILL a Proud, Liberal Democrat

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch

Yesterday, I received an email that began “Get used to the idea of Obama not winning.” This email came not from some Republican, but from a Democrat who supported Obama in 2008. The writer echoed the thoughts of some of my friends with whom I worked directly on the campaign four years ago. And a year ago, I shared those thoughts.

But this is 2012, and I'm voting for my president, and my party. I've given some money and I'm going to give more. I've been to my first meeting, going to my second next week, and working hard to get off crutches before voter registration season begins in earnest. (Turns out my left knee is 27 years older than the rest of me.)

This is as good a time as any to explain my turnaround, and why I am IN.

Like many on the far left, I spent 2011 incredibly disappointed that President Obama was nowhere near as liberal as Candidate Obama had been. Stunned and mortified by the outcome of the 2010 elections. Appalled at the rise of a right wing that was increasingly hostile. Saddened by the lack of fight from the left beyond petitions. Floored by the lack of speeches and action on the part of our progressive elected officials beyond and excluding Bernie Sanders.

First, there is the basic set of reasons that caused me to choose to be a Democrat. Back in 2007, at the dawn of blogs and before social media, I had an article published in a magazine entitled “Why I am a Proud, Liberal Democrat.” I have posted it in its entirety after the jump, in case you missed its previous publication. I read it again, and everything in the article still rings true for me. My party may be imperfect, but I am imperfect, as are we all. 

Second is the issue of how I define myself and my beliefs in rank order. I am an American, but also a citizen of the world. I am a woman, but also a human being. I believe in civil rights, gay rights, religious freedom, saving the environment, and on and on, it's a pretty long list. So which, I ask myself, are the most important facets to me? Today, in America, my most important are being a Baby Boomer female member of the 99% who enjoys religious freedom. As such, the war on women, the evisceration of women's reproductive rights, the importance of taxing the rich, the ability to NOT be a Christian, and of keeping the economy on its path back from red to black are my issues. 

Finally, there is the decision of who to vote for: I do not consider “not voting” an option. 

In all three areas, there are stark differences between President Obama and whichever one of the remaining clown car riders runs against him. Those four candidates lie with impunity and cling tenaciously to a set of values I consider heinous. I am not an Etch-a-Sketch person, I read and remember, Mitt. I do not believe in Jesus, so Rick, when I saw you cheering the pastor saying we must all worship Jesus, I came to the conclusion that you believe Jews have no place in America. I believe in government as a force of good, and therefore, I can't let you shut it down, AGAIN, Newt. Dr. Paul, you're the kind of doctor that makes me slightly shamed that we passed the same medical boards. Support my president? You Betcha! I put our chances at getting the House back at about 60/40 against, and holding the Senate at 60/40 for. Take a chance on the White House? No way.

As a liberal, I hope that being in his second term, President Obama will act more like Candidate Obama. I hope that he will push back much harder against the wacko right. I will stand with him on women's rights, on education, on climate change and a host of other things. I will swallow his support for Keystone. I will tolerate that he's not yet on board on gay marriage. I have come to the conclusion that no single candidate will mesh 100% with every belief that I have, and I prefer having a candidate who matches me 90% to one representing less than 1% of things in which I believe.

And so I will NOT “get used to the idea of Obama not winning.” I will work, I will spend, and I will remember that elections are won one voter at a time, issues are won one heart at a time….and I will be out there finding my voters.

When she died last year at the age of 106, my grandmother was a proud Democrat who had never missed an election. I was born into a family that valued not only the Party and its principles, but the political process. In my extended family, if you were old enough to stand on a box and reach a table, you were old enough to stuff envelopes. I worked my first election at the age of 3.

But “because that’s how I was brought up” is not reason enough to make the choice as an adult as to which party one wishes to belong. I am a proud, liberal, Democrat because of the ideals and principles involved in the Democratic Party platform and its proud history. While I may not always agree with all of the members of the party and what they stand for as individuals, one of the fundamental tenets of the Democratic Party has always been that many voices are better than one.

The Democratic Party is the oldest continuous political party in the US.  The party was founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the early 1790’s as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights, a strict interpretation of the Constitution, and a weaker Federal government (relative to States Rights). Jefferson was elected as the third President of the US under the banner of the “party of the common man”, officially named the Democratic-Republican Party. The party split in 1824, emerging as the Democratic Party with the election of Andrew Jackson in 1828, Abraham Lincoln later being the first Republican president.

In the 20th Century, the Democratic Party brought great change to America. Things that we take for granted today were codified by Democratic administrations and Congresses; including, but not limited to: the eight-hour work day, Civil Rights Legislation (integrated schools, voting rights, prohibition of discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex and national origin, and prohibition of housing discrimination), affirmative action, the lowering of the voting age to 18, and the repeal of prohibition.

But it is not just the elected officials who make a Party, it is the people who work for the party (formally and informally). The first US party platform was put forth by the Democrats in 1840. To this day, any registered Democrat can apply to be a part of the platform committee, and Democrats can also testify to make their feelings known to the whole platform committee. It is truly a big tent. The platform is the framework of goals and aspirations: what the Party views as imperative to make America better.

The 1840 platform was brief, and was concerned with limiting the powers of the Federal Government, including avoiding chartering a National Bank, and conferring most powers to the individual States, resolving that every citizen had the right to equality of rights and privileges, and to protection from domestic violence and foreign aggression.

The current platform, from 2004, is much longer then the first, and reflects a world which faces challenges inconceivable to the early Democrats. It is entitled “Strong at Home, Respected in the World” and answers not just to making America stronger in terms of reformed health, education  and jobs programs, but also handling terrorism, nuclear weapons, the world-wide AIDS epidemic, renewable energy, and equality for all.

The final words of the 2004 Platform are as follow: “Members of our party have deeply held and differing views on some matters of conscience and faith. We view diversity of views as a source of strength, and we welcome into our ranks all Americans who seek to build a stronger America. We are committed to resolving our differences in a spirit of civility, hope and mutual respect.  That’s the America we believe in.”

That is the America I believe in, and the Party I think has the best chance of getting us to where we need to be in a dangerous and difficult world. Democrats have a long history of being able to set lofty goals and then achieve them: FDR and his Kitchen Cabinet got us out of the Depression, JFK wanted a man on the moon in a decade, and that occurred sooner than expected, Johnson fought for a Great Society, and much was accomplished in those turbulent times. Were these men, and their associates, perfect? No, certainly not. But their intentions were true, and they made great strides.

I leave you with the words of two great Democrats, who espouse better than I ever could, why I am a Democrat. First, JFK, speaking to the Liberal Party of New York in 1960: “What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label “Liberal?” … [I]if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I'm proud to say I'm a “Liberal.””

And finally, his brother Ted, after losing the nomination in 1980: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

Originally published in Mensa Bulletin, September 2007, p 37.

Florida Jews Say “Feh” To Republican Primary Candidates

— David Streeter

Editorial Note: Florida is one of the most Jewish states thanks in part to the many Jewish retirement communities there. 3.4% of Floridians are Jewish according to the 2011  survey. Historically, Jews are very politically engaged and turnout to vote at higher rates than gentiles. For example, in 2008, Jews represented 4% of the vote in the general election.

Nate Silver wrote in The New York Times’ 538 blog last night that there is little evidence supporting claims that Jewish voters in FL are switching their support to the Republican Party.

There has been some speculation that Democrats could struggle to hold the Jewish vote in 2012….

But there is no sign tonight of Jewish voters switching their registration over to the Republican side in Florida. According to early exit polls, just 1% of voters in tonight’s Republican primary identified as Jewish. That’s down from 3% in the Florida Republican primary in 2008, which also might mean that Jewish Republican voters in the state are not terribly enthusiastic about this group of candidates.

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein wrote:

For all the campaign attention paid this past week to Israeli politics and-towards the end-Mitt Romney’s handling of kosher meal budgeting in Massachusetts, few if any Jews appeared to vote in the Florida GOP primary.

According to Fox News exit poll, just 1% of the state’s primary voters identified as Jewish. 31% said they were Catholic and 59% said they were protestant or ‘other Christian.’ 4% said ‘something else.’

The Jewish Journal’s Shmuel Rosner wrote:

A week ago I wrote that the most interesting question about the Florida Jewish vote is that

‘If the percentage of Republican Jews is higher this year than in 2008; if more than 4% to 5% of the Republican Florida voters are Jewish.’

The answer to this question is now clear: a resounding no. According to exit polls only 1% of Republican voters were Jewish – that’s not more but rather less Jewish voters than the number of 2008.

… I don’t know how Tuesday’s results could be interpreted in ways favorable to Jewish Republicans. Clearly, the Jews of Florida aren’t moved by the candidates, they aren’t moved by the party, and they aren’t moved by Obama’s policies – not enough to switch party registration and vote for their candidate of choice.

More after the jump.
The Forward’s Nathan Guttman also explained:

Exit polls could not provide data regarding the split in Jewish votes between Romney and Gingrich but it is largely believed that Romney had a stronger showing among Jewish Republicans. His supporters in Florida put together three events in recent weeks and all were well attended.

What exit polls do show, however, is that only 1% of Republican primary voters identified as being Jewish, down from 3% in 2008.

That means there was no shift of Jewish voters to the Republican side.

And Guttman’s Forward colleague Josh Nathan-Kazis — who reported directly from Florida prior to the primary — surmised:

… [F]ewer Jewish voters in the primary could correlate to a lack of enthusiasm among Jews for the Republican field.

Mitt Romney and Ron Paul “Concerned” Over Nevada Kosher Caucus

Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational CampusWe recently broke the news about a special caucus being organized in Las Vegas, Nevada after sundown so that observant Jews could participate in Nevada’s Republican Caucus.

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, approximately 500 voters — most of whom are Jewish — are expected to attend the event, which will be held at a Jewish day school.

While there had been mixed reporting previously surrounding the campaign’s reactions, the San Francisco Chronicle most recently reported that “officials in the campaigns of both former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Representative Ron Paul are privately expressing concern about the decision” to hold the Saturday night caucus that will enfranchise a large number of observant Jewish Republicans.

Florida Jews Say “Feh” To Republican Primary Candidates

— David Streeter

Editorial Note: Florida is one of the most Jewish states thanks in part to the many Jewish retirement communities there. 3.4% of Floridians are Jewish according to the 2011  survey. Historically, Jews are very politically engaged and turnout to vote at higher rates than gentiles. For example, in 2008, Jews represented 4% of the vote in the general election.

Nate Silver wrote in The New York Times’ 538 blog last night that there is little evidence supporting claims that Jewish voters in FL are switching their support to the Republican Party.

There has been some speculation that Democrats could struggle to hold the Jewish vote in 2012….

But there is no sign tonight of Jewish voters switching their registration over to the Republican side in Florida. According to early exit polls, just 1% of voters in tonight’s Republican primary identified as Jewish. That’s down from 3% in the Florida Republican primary in 2008, which also might mean that Jewish Republican voters in the state are not terribly enthusiastic about this group of candidates.

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein wrote:

For all the campaign attention paid this past week to Israeli politics and-towards the end-Mitt Romney’s handling of kosher meal budgeting in Massachusetts, few if any Jews appeared to vote in the Florida GOP primary.

According to Fox News exit poll, just 1% of the state’s primary voters identified as Jewish. 31% said they were Catholic and 59% said they were protestant or ‘other Christian.’ 4% said ‘something else.’

The Jewish Journal’s Shmuel Rosner wrote:

A week ago I wrote that the most interesting question about the Florida Jewish vote is that

‘If the percentage of Republican Jews is higher this year than in 2008; if more than 4% to 5% of the Republican Florida voters are Jewish.’

The answer to this question is now clear: a resounding no. According to exit polls only 1% of Republican voters were Jewish – that’s not more but rather less Jewish voters than the number of 2008.

… I don’t know how Tuesday’s results could be interpreted in ways favorable to Jewish Republicans. Clearly, the Jews of Florida aren’t moved by the candidates, they aren’t moved by the party, and they aren’t moved by Obama’s policies – not enough to switch party registration and vote for their candidate of choice.

More after the jump.
The Forward’s Nathan Guttman also explained:

Exit polls could not provide data regarding the split in Jewish votes between Romney and Gingrich but it is largely believed that Romney had a stronger showing among Jewish Republicans. His supporters in Florida put together three events in recent weeks and all were well attended.

What exit polls do show, however, is that only 1% of Republican primary voters identified as being Jewish, down from 3% in 2008.

That means there was no shift of Jewish voters to the Republican side.

And Guttman’s Forward colleague Josh Nathan-Kazis — who reported directly from Florida prior to the primary — surmised:

… [F]ewer Jewish voters in the primary could correlate to a lack of enthusiasm among Jews for the Republican field.

The Deja Vu Primary

Slate’s David Weigel draws some interesting parallels between this Republican primary and the last one:

“I’m thinking of a Republican primary. It starts with a candidate (John McCain/Mitt Romney) who ran once before, came in second place, and won over the party’s elite class without winning over its base. Other candidates, understandably unwilling to accept this, line up: An under-funded social conservative (Mike Huckabee/Rick Santorum), an elder statesman who’s walked to the altar three times (Rudy Giuliani/Newt Gingrich), a libertarian who wants to bring back the gold standard (Ron Paul/Ron Paul). The conservative base is displeased. In the year before the primary, it pines for a perfect candidate. At the end of summer, on (September 5/August 13), it gets him: (Fred Thompson/Rick Perry). The dream candidate immediately rises to the top of national polls, but collapses after lazy, distaff debate performances… The Republican base looks at the wreckage and shudders. It can never allow this to happen ever again.”

However despite the parallels Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is now singing a different tune about Mitt Romney’s leadership at Bain Capital:

“These attacks on, quote, Bain Capital is really kind of anathema to everything that we believe in.”
— McCain on CBS News, January 12, 2012, about attacks on Mitt Romney’s track record in business.

“As head of his investment company he presided over the acquisition of companies that laid off thousands of workers.”
— McCain in the New York Times, January 28, 2008, taking a different view.

Governments Big and Small

Reprinted from Democratic Convention Watch.

The 2012 elections in the US are about three things that our elections usually are not about:

  1. How much hatred does the wacko right have for President Obama and how much of that hatred is strict, unadorned racism?
  2. Does the electorate want a country of the people, by the people and for the people, or a corporate state akin to an old time company town?
  3. Does the country want a union of 50 states, or does it want a bunch of independent states which share little more than geography?

Read those questions again. Think about how different they are from the "normal" issues of major elections. More often elections are about issues that affect the nation, not about what the nation should be. Think about them through the prism of what the EU is currently experiencing, and ask yourself what defines a country? What defines a union of countries?

Throw in the the mix the issues raised and answered by Marbury v Madison in 1803.

Ready?

More after the jump.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This was the opening of Chris Matthews' comment last night:

Let me finish tonight with this. The Republican party is about to seal a Faustian deal with the devil. Every observer from left to farthest right knows what's going on here.

The Republicans, led by the angriest among them, are about to give away their partisan souls for one all-consuming political purpose: the destruction of Barack Obama. They are about to begin the nomination for president of a figure who  represents the Mephistopheles of what they preach: He is nasty, brutal, ready to fight and kill politically, a man of no discernible commitments or values – who has nothing to offer but a sharp-as-hell intellect and a wicked rapier of words. For the right price — and a presidential nomination is his — Newt is ready to jump on a dime and hit any opponent where he shows weakness.

I agree with Chris, and believe that one of the major reasons the evangelical wacko right is willing to consider Newt is NOT just because he is the anyone-but-Mitt-December-edition, but because he was a commentator on Fox for years until May. Thus, he is, to the great unwashed who view Fox as "news" someone like Walter Conkrite, Chet Huntley or David Brinkley. Someone who speaks with authority. Someone "of them" who, like Uncle Walter on 22 November 1963, shares their common experience. While I believe that anyone who meets the constitutional bar of age and citizenship can run for president, it doesn't mean they are legitimately qualified. The idea that someone like Newt who has been trying to destroy the American structure of government for decades is being considered by a single person who lived through those years is absurd on its face. But most people are stupid.

Newt is, much more than Mitt, the poster child for a corporate state. Mitt is a businessman, he's not an ideologue, he's not a politician…"running for office" is just a thing to do. When he was governor of Massachusetts, it was a low-paying gig. Something to do to see how it feels. Like yachting or dismantling a company. Newt's a smart guy, and he's a consummate insider. He knows how and why corporations are encroaching on the running of America, hell, he helped to get them there.

The Supremes are going to consider, in addition to the individual mandate, whether or not Arizona's immigration law is constitutional. (Hey! back to Marbury v Madison!) This latter case acceptance is over the objections of the Obama administration. If Arizona prevails, we cease being the country we have been since the writing of the Federalist Papers: we enter the path of separate states on the most fundamental issue of who an American is, and can be. The thing that defines a country is its people, and that should always be a countrywide decision. Remember, from the point of view of the corporations, it's better for the states to have more "power" than the Fed: it's easier to rule, say, South Dakota, than all of the U.S.

When I was in college, I undertook a double-major degree and was required to write a thesis. My topic was the relationship between governments and corporations, and the potential affects on hegemony. Back then there were many fewer multinationals then there are today. Further, it was more difficult for a multinational to exist than it is today, given the changes in logistics and technology. Still, my conclusions were that a generation out, these large companies could hold sway over smaller governments, changing those countries into corporate states, to the detriment of the citizenry. It nevercrossed my mind back then that it could happen here.

I think about this and am suddenly overcome with the knowledge that I'm going to work the election next year. I had thought about sitting it out, disappointed as I am in the things that didn't happen. But it's  become an issue notof what has led it us here, but getting out of it. It will be more important than ever to turn out voters and identify people who might end up disenfranchised early, to help them get the documentation necessary to be able to vote. Simultaneously, of course, working to end the disenfranchisement the Republican Corporation hat wrought. It will be a year of working for multiple candidates at all levels, of giving money until it hurts. I hope you'll join me: for this is the election where we can lose our country.