Mitt Romney Scott Brown Ticket in 2012

Former MA governor Mitt Romney, who announced his intention to run for the Presidency, may be the Republicans’ only hope of defeating the Democratic candidate, likely to be President Obama, in the 2012 election.  My prediction is that Romney will win the nomination and chose Senator Scott Brown, also of MA, as his running mate.  This would be a formidable team and one of the only examples I can think of in recent history anyway where running mates hailed from the same state.

Notwithstanding the strength of this ticket for the Republicans, it is potentially a losing formula and here’s why:  the Tea Party – which is not a party, but rather a fringe movement, if you can call it that, of fiercely independent conservative ideologues with a significant libertarian strain, who believe mainstream is a dirty word.  The Tea Party may not back  a Romney ticket and advance one of their ideologues as an Independent or write-in candidate.  Who that would be I don’t know.  Ron Paul could have been the spoiler were he not running as a Republican, virtually guaranteeing an Obama victory.  Sara Palin could also fill that role too.  Maybe she will run as an Independent or a write-in candidate and take away some Republican support.

Spoilers really can have an impact on elections.  As a Green candidate, Ralph Nader helped the Republicans gain control of the White House in 2000; Ross Perot running as an Independent helped Clinton defeat  Bush the elder in 1992.

So, who would Palin’s running mate be?  How about Christine O’Donnell, Palin’s look alike?  Now that would be a hoot.  I can’t wait for the 2012 election to get into high gear – it will be be the best reality show of the season.

Arizona Massacre

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was holding a meet and greet early Saturday morning outside a Tucson Safeway when a gunman opened fire shooting her in the head and firing on the crowd killing 6 and wounding 14. Among those slain were a elderly woman, an elderly couple, a young girl, a staff person from Rep. Giffords’ office and a federal judge.  The Congresswoman underwent emergency surgery and is in critical condition in a drug induced coma at the University Medical Center in Tuscon. The medical team remains cautiously optimistic that she will recover.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. I pray that Congresswoman Giffords and the 13 others wounded recover quickly and fully.

The alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner is now in policy custody after being bravely wrestled to the ground by two men and a woman at the scene of the massacre.  Initially, police had been looking for a possible accomplice but this person of interest turned out to be a taxi driver who drove Loughner to the mall and waited for him while he got change at a nearby convenience store.  It appears that Loughner ultimately acted alone.

How could this have happened?  Though we don’t yet know Loughner’s motives, what has emerged about him reveals a deeply disturbed and confused 23 year old.  On his MySpace page, he listed Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Marx’s Communist Manifesto, Alice and Wonderland and We the Living as among the books he likes.  He had written some incoherent posts about a new U.S. currency, English grammar structure and mind control.  In 2007, he apparently attended a similar event in which he asked Giffords a question and was reported to have told an acquaintance that he was not satisfied with the answer and called her “stupid and unintelligent”.  He described her constituents as “illiterate”.  He himself had been described by classmates as an arrogant loner who didn’t seem to care much about what others thought of him.  He had several run ins with the law for drug and drug paraphernalia possession.  He attended Pima Community College but was ultimately suspended for disruptive behavior, one early warning sign that he might be a danger to others.  The Virginia Tech student assassin had also displayed disturbing behavior in classes that alarmed classmates and professors.

Though it is too early to say definitively whether Loughner had planned to kill the Congresswoman and slay as many constituents as possible, it is not out of the question.  Police have confiscated evidence from Loughner’s  home that reference “my assassination” and found a letter from the Congresswoman’s office thanking him for attending a 2007 meet and greet event.

Whether he had been influenced by all the incendiary rhetoric that has become the norm of political discourse since President Obama was elected is an open question.  He does not seem to have been involved in politics, or aligned with a particular party or party platform – neither a progressive, nor a conservative.  His writings suggest he had become suspicious of government and increasingly agitated, and show a deeply disturbed and confused psychological state bordering on paranoia, but not a lucid political ideology. And as tempting as it would be to say that he is a right-wing nut job, or some sort of budding nihilist, about all we can say responsibly is that we don’t know what his motives were.

Now I strongly support first amendment rights, but firmly believe we must exercise the right of free speech responsibly.  What people say and write matters and as Congresswoman Giffords herself said 10 months ago almost foreshadowing the tragedy, “people need to understand that there are consequences” to extreme rhetoric, yelling and firing people up.  Ironically, Representative Giffords joined along in the reading of the constitution on the House floor last week and drew the task of reading the first amendment aloud which pertains to free speech and the right to peaceful assembly.

Our national political discourse has degenerated to the point where we are coming very close to reaching the limits of protected free speech.
Palin’s cross hairs campaign targeting 20 House Democrats including Rep. Giffords and Sharron Angle’s reference to second amendment remedies have crossed the line in my view.  Bellicose language, politicians shooting guns to kill a bill, comparing President Obama to Hitler, and calling former president George W. Bush a war criminal are other examples of speech that polarize and demonize and do nothing to promote a healthy national dialogue.  It is time to dial it all back a notch and work together with more civility to solve our nation’s problems.  This is what Rep. Giffords called for some 10 months ago and what Congress and Americans can do now to honor the victims of the Arizona  Massacre.

Biden Outstanding, Palin Still Standing

Unlike the first presidential debate, the first and only VP debate had a clear winner in Joe Biden, who Sarah Palin once referred to as O’Biden.  Palin, however, did manage to restore her badly damaged image.  She stuck to a rehearsed script that must have made Joe Six Pack proud and surely brought a collective sigh of relief to the nervous Republican base. Clearly, Joe Biden is the better debater.  He answered Gwen Ifill’s questions directly and responded to Sarah Palin’s points and misstatements; for most of the debate Sarah Palin answered around the questions.

Biden pointed out that John McCain has called for deregulation on countless occasions and even favors letting the free market take over the health care industry.  Ifill asked Palin if she wanted to respond and Palin said, “I would like to respond about the tax increase….” and proceeded to do so.  After Biden pressed the point that deregulation was one of the major causes of the market meltdown, Ifill asked Palin again if she wanted to respond, and Palin said:  “I’m still on the tax thing…” even refusing to engage in the debate at hand saying: “I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record…” Her only response to McCain’s history of support for deregulation was to say that McCain has called for strict rules and cited his support for tougher laws on the tobacco industry and  work on campaign refinance reform, neither having anything to do with the economic crisis.

One of the more interesting moments came when Ifill asked what promises each campaign would have to break given the state of the economy.  Biden responded that we have to slow down our commitment to foreign aid and “we’re not going to support the 300 billion tax cut that they have for corporate America and the very wealthy” or the “4 billion dollar tax break for ExxonMobil.”  Palin offered only a rebuttal to Biden saying that in 2005 Obama voted to support tax breaks for oil companies.  She went on to talk about breaking up monopolies in Alaska.  When pressed to name something she would take off the table, Palin said that she had only been at this for 5 weeks and hadn’t promised a whole lot except to “do what is right for the America people, put government back on the side of the people and stop the greed and corruption on Wall Street”.  She went on to say that she didn’t think John McCain had ever made a promise he couldn’t keep.  I guess not giving a straight answer is her idea of talking straight to the American people.

I don’t know if you heard this, but she said that “it’s a toxic mess..on Main Street that is affecting Wall Street.”  She had that one-liner prepared, but messed it up.   At one point, she called Biden, O’Biden and referred to the top general in Afghanistan as McClellan who is in fact General McKiernan.   She also erroneously said “no to energy independence”.  And like President George Bush, she mispronounces nuclear; I’m knitpicking here, I know, but it’s annoying.

Palin said that she has called for divesting Alaska’s Permanent Fund from Sudan.  However, Governor Palin has not provided the leadership to get the bill passed.  Her Deputy Commissioner of Revenue, who she appointed, said that “divestment was not the right tool”.  See fact check: Palin Adminstration Complicit in Killing Darfur Divestment Bill.

Palin also promised that peace in the Middle East will be at the top of the Agenda.  And she urged more spending for schools and higher teacher salaries.  These are two campaign promises to which we should hold the Republicans accountable.  As for the current administration, peace in the Middle East with respect to Israel and Palestine, has not been a priority at all nor has funding it’s own No Child Left Behind law.  McCain has not favored increased education spending, so I’m glad to hear he has finally come around on the issue.

Palin characterized tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of corporate America and the very wealthy as a redistribution of wealth.  Biden had one of his best lines when he said that “…we don’t call it redistribution, we call that fairness”.

There are many other moments worthy of mention, but I need to get to work.  In closing, Palin did not collapse.  She performed better than expected.  The Republicans are no doubt relieved.  Biden showed poise, respect, restraint, but managed to make an effective case against McCain and for Obama.  He was the far better debater.  Round 1 goes to Biden.

Bidden:  A

Palin:  C-

Read the transcript and judge for yourself.

VP Debate Transcipt

McCain-Palin: A Ticket Divided

Where would McCain take the country if elected? With the conservative base of the Republican party energized by his VP pick, the answer is not clear. What is clear is that McCain is no social conservative.

  • He has sponsored and voted for immigration reform measures that would provide a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers in the US.
  • He voted Yes on a bill to provide human embryonic stem cell research.
  • He believes in evolution but says let local schools districts decide whether to teach creationism.
  • He voted No on a proposed constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
  • He voted yes to a bill to increase funding for AIDS drug assistance programs.
  • He would allow, but not require school prayer.
  • He does not own a gun.

McCain’s Votes

McCain on the Issues

If I were a member of the conservative base of the Republican party (and I am not, nor am I a Republican) I would not be enthusiastic at all about John McCain. The nomination of Sarah Palin would not secure my vote either. How much influence on social policy will Palin have as the VP nominee, particularly when her views are at odds with McCain’s? How much pressure will there be on McCain to give in to the base or to flip flop on issues? His “Maverick” status will definitely be tested.

So, where would McCain take the country if elected? To the extreme right or to the center – this is the big unknown. McCain’s USA USA USA is simply not clear. The Republicans are a party divided by an energized conservative base with expectations on a “Maverick” moderate.

If I were a social moderate sitting on the fence, I would vote for Obama. Obama and Biden agree on the issues; no divisive tug-of- war going on in the party. The Democratics are United.

Republicans Portray Palin as Media Victim

Leading Republicans claim Sarah Palin has been unfairly scrutinized and attacked by the liberal press.  How many times have we heard this charge from conservatives?  “Tell the Truth!” they roar in a frenzied state.  Republicans are back to their old tactics of creating an innocent victim, in this case Governor Palin, to  generate a public backlash.  Unfortunately, this tactic seems to be working.  Lisa Wangsness from the Boston Globe cited a Rasmussen survey released on Thursday, that 51 percent of Americans believe the media have attacked her unfairly.  Republicans Point Fingers

How have the media attacked her?  What is unfair about all the scrutiny?  America barely knows this woman who could become the next President of the United States.  We have the right to know all that there is to know about her.  The media, not withstanding the tabloids, in my view, have been respectful of her family, and have acknowledged her strengths as a politician and her value to her party and their campaign.  However, it is perfectly appropriate for the media to report on her background.  America, we have the right to know about her governing style, her influences, her ideology, her family life (this helps to evaluate her character), her decisions, her experience, her education and her vision for the country.  Would you hire an employee without reviewing a resume and conducting an interview?

Republicans should expect attacks from Democrats after Palin delivered the first punches in her nomination speech.  To suggest that the press, the Democrats or the general public should give her a free pass because she is a woman, a conservative, or a mom, is unfair and a bit of insult to women.  Sarah Palin is no victim.  She accepted the challenge by accepting the nomination fully knowing there would be unwanted scrutiny.  Look Republicans, if you are going to portray your candidate as a barracuda and a pitbull…well I say those are fighting words.  You’ve put your candidate in the ring, so expect a good fight and a lot of press coverage.