Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Middle East As The Center Of The Storm

There is, once again, little peace between Israel and Palestine as disparate peoples as much as nations.  There may be a ceasefire in place now with Gaza, but ceasefires can end without the resolution of both sides to stop the downward cycle of violence.

There is still an ongoing civil war in Syria, with tens of thousands dead, tens of thousands as refugees... and no honest solution in sight other than outright war that few other nations, including the bordering Turkey, have the stomach or budget to fight...

Iran has been living the horrors of occupation by their own leadership since the uprisings of 2009 (that an old blog entry from then is STILL getting hits on my little-viewed blog on a daily basis amazes me), combined with a global sanctions against the regime's nuclear program that's hurting the civilian economy but not the elites', leaving that a very unhappy place at the moment.

Egypt, coming off the high point of a relatively powerful yet low-on-body-counts uprising against their own dictatorship in 2011 and with a delicately well-managed crafting of that Israel/Gaza ceasefire, is now coping with an arrogant move by the newly elected President Morsi where he claimed sweeping extra-constitutional powers (basically making himself a new dictator replacing the old dictator), bringing the protestors back out into the same streets and gathering spots they've been at just one-and-a-half years ago.  Good Lord, can anybody catch a break here...?

And Libya's not entirely stabilized either after the overthrow of (misspelled name here).  The attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi is but a smaller part of ongoing street violence between the militants and the more open, pro-democracy groups trying to rebuild after decades of brutal dictatorship.

And this doesn't even include the ongoing quagmire that is the U.S. Occupation of Afghanistan, nor the ongoing unrest in Pakistan.


I have no solutions.  I doubt anyone does, at least a solution that WON'T piss everyone off.  I have pity for any person going into foreign policy as a career, if you ever get signed in to do a job in that region.  Madness would be the only sane response the way things are going...

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Post-Election Scenario Now

Before the election results, there were five scenarios - two for Romney and three for Obama - for how the President / Congress dynamic would look.  With Obama's victory, we're on the fourth one, what is basically the status quo we've had since 2010: Democratic Senate, Republican House, and Obama Democratic Presidency.

What I said then:
The only problem then will be dealing with a Republican House standing as the "last bastion" against an Obama-dominated regime.  If it was a job herding cats before, this will be like working as an alligator teeth puller operating without pliers and standing waist-deep in a swamp.  The fight to get anything resembling a budget will be close to impossible without the wingnut faction in the House getting everything they want (which in a sane world won't happen).  Obama may yet want to finish out a second term where SOMETHING got done for job growth and economic stimulus, but the House will fight that every inch of the way.  And some legislation HAS to start in the House, not the Senate.  Meaning something approaching compromise has to be done... and Lord knows what Obama may have to give up in order to get a jobs bill passed...

Is pretty much how the post-election dynamic is lining up with the early positioning on the lame-duck Congressional session to finalize a budget deal.

It's the Fiscal Cliff scenario: a combination of deals and laws are intersecting this winter that would pack a one-two whammy on the U.S. economy if Congress refuses to act.  The Bush the Lesser tax cuts of 2001-03 are set to expire, which would raise everyone's tax rates not to historic highs but to Clinton-era (i.e., manageable) rates.  There's the Sequester deal made last year, where automatic spending cuts in ALL government programs - including defense/military, AND social programs - will kick in alongside more tax increases when 2013 calendar rolls up.  The sequestration isn't a bad deal overall: it's that the cuts will be akin to using a sledgehammer during surgery where a knife would be more apt.

Separately, either situation wouldn't be too harsh: together, the bump up in tax hikes and severe spending cuts can very well lead to another deep recession at a time where the U.S. economy is still crawling out of the last one.  It's a Double-Dip Recession we're facing, and it definitely has global economic consequences that wouldn't get resolved for another decade...

Thing is, a new bill out of Congress can kick both deadlines to the curb by overriding the sequestration and by re-working the Bush-era cuts into a more manageable tax hike.  So before December 31st rolls around, there are a good number of politicians in both the White House and Congress who want to get a deal done.

Problem is, on whose terms?

Obama wants to re-work the sequestration to reduce the amount of spending cuts to a more manageable level and combine it with returning the tax rates of the upper 2 percent of income to their Clinton-era levels.  The House Republicans would prefer keeping the spending cuts on all social programs, ignore cuts to defense spending, and keep the Bush-era cuts permanent if they could.

Worse of all, the Republican Party overall is reeling right now: their leadership AND voting base were so certain of a Romney victory - and some even thought they would gain control of the Senate - that their loss last Tuesday night really kicked their guts in.  All that hate and vitriol they spilled in Obama's direction, and still they lost.

The Republican Party hate-on for Obama is at unheard of levels: I remember the Republicans' disdain for Bill Clinton with all its conspiracy-laden what-the-hell alternate reality of America, and even THAT was mild compared to what they're hitting Obama with.  The closest historical I can think of is the hate-on the fiscal leaders of the GOP had towards FDR.

This is a party that has planned to obstruct Obama and his agenda - decried as socialist, un-American, anti-business - from Day One of his administration.  The use of Cloture and threat of filibuster has more than doubled.  Once the Republicans gained control of the House during the 2010 midterms based on paranoid-hate-fueled outrage, the House proceeded to ignore every Democratic attempt at a jobs stimulus bill and instead spent 31 useless votes on trying to overturn ObamaCare.  The Republicans have spent four years in an open attempt to make Obama a "failed" President akin to Jimmy Carter ("history's greatest monster!") and make Obama a One-Termer.  And they failed.

This does not mean the Republicans will give up the obstructionism.  They can well double-down on the obstruction.  They are still convinced that Obama is a failure: and they want history to reflect that belief.  They are NOT going to give Obama anything he wants.  I don't mean everything Obama wants: anything, at all.

That means if Obama comes calling with a deal on sequestration and ending the Bush-era tax cuts on just the upper 2 percent incomes, the House Republicans may well say NO in large unfriendly letters.  There may well be enough Republicans who will refuse to deal on anything and even allow the deadlines to pass, enacting that dreaded fiscal cliff.

Problem is what can happen: Obama can well live with Congress taking the country over the fiscal cliff.

Previous times negotiations had to happen to get budgets done, Obama was not in a position to negotiate much.  Facing re-election, he didn't want to overstep or fall into any traps the GOP may have laid out against him.  This time, however, Obama has little to lose: he's won re-election, he's got four more years to get something done with the economy and job woes.  And despite all protestations from the Far Right, Obama does have a mandate: the polling and the votes have shown that a solid majority of Americans back Obama on his plan to raise tax rates on the uber-rich.

It's the tax hikes that are the obvious sticking point for the Republicans.  They'll refuse to actively vote for any deal that raises them (the "no new taxes" pledge to Norquist overrides any obligation to the nation as a whole with these guys).  All Obama has to do, really, is let the Bush-era tax cuts expire, raising all taxes regardless.  And then the day after that, come back to Congress with deal to cut taxes back down close to Bush-era levels... with the exception of the upper 2 percenters.  This will catch the Republicans in a lose-lose situation: they'll be presented with a tax cut they CAN vote for which would be clearly for the middle-classes, but will give Obama a political victory they dare not allow... or they can vote against it on the excuse that the upper-classes need a tax cut as well, which is political poison in this economy and re-enforces the image of the Republicans as greedhead suck-ups to the billionaires.

As a result, there are some Republicans who see the benefit of getting a deal done now and make it look bipartisan in nature, giving them some of the credit... or they can obstruct some more, get caught with their pants around their ankles, and let all the credit go to Obama or all them blame to the House GOP.

It's all up the House Republicans right now: how they'll handle themselves this lame-duck session before 2013.  We'll see then if we'll have a working government or another round of Republican-led gridlock.  We'll see...

Thursday, November 08, 2012

It's Cheap, It's Easy, It's Winners And Losers the 2012 Elections Edition


What can I say?  I'm swamped with getting more NaNoWriMo done...

Losers: I mentioned them in an earlier post.  The elite pundit class - especially the conservative ones who came to power during the Reagan administration 30 years ago - really got their butts kicked for publicly anointing their preferred candidate Romney when the stats said otherwise, and even going out of their way to mock the statisticians who focused more on polling results and provable trends.

Winners: Nate Silver and every other statistician who worked on the numbers, stuck to the arithmetic, and proved themselves far more accurate than the pundits who preferred "narrative" and "gut instinct" over facts.  Arithmetic, bitches.
Next, the guy making xkcd will chart with unnerving accuracy the flow of Karl Rove's tears.


Winner: the Word of the Year, thanks to Bill Clinton and Nate Silver.  Arithmetic.

Loser: Karl Rove. The "genius" for the Republicans, the man responsible for coming up with a winning strategy to get George W. into the White House, exposed by his own network on Election Night being completely out-of-touch YET AGAIN. Why Rove keeps getting treated as a genius is beyond me: his game-plan of playing to the base and do just the bare minimum to get enough independent voters to side with you (the "50-plus-one" plan) is half-lazy, half-reckless, and it relies too much on luck and a broken electoral system. Outside of 2004, when Rove tricked the Democratic leadership to back a weak candidate in Kerry (vulnerable to attacks on his military record and pro-Iraq War vote), this guy really didn't win anything (if it weren't for the Butterfly Ballot in Palm Beach County, Gore would have won Florida and the 2000 election). Rove's one true skill seems to be bluffing. Too bad Obama's a better game-player than Rove, eh?

Losers: The vote suppressors. In battleground states where the Republicans held control of the state legislatures and governorships, there were clear and open attempts to suppress minority, poor, and college-age voters in a blatant and coordinated effort to weaken the turnout of Obama's voting base.  Like Pennsylvania.  Like Ohio, repeatedly by a Sec of State John Husted who kept defying the demands of the courts (if anyone needs to see jail time over this, it's Husted).  Like Florida, where Rick "Yes, I HATE This Guy" Scott tried to slash the voter rolls claiming non-existent fraud, and cut back on early voting days in an effort to cut back voter turnout in key counties like Dade and Broward.  Good news is, it looks post-election that their efforts were for naught.  In fact, by pushing so hard so publicly to disenfranchise voters across the nation, it seemed to have the effect of getting even more minority voters and college-age voters out to vote... more voters 2012 than there were in 2008.

Winners: Obama's ground game crew.  Every volunteer, every campaign office organizer, every person who manned the phones and canvassed the neighborhoods and registered the voters.  This was the antidote to the vote suppression efforts.  If the Republicans wanted to suppress the vote: make sure there were enough registered voters to overwhelm any suppression.  If the Republicans wanted to cut back on voting hours and early voting days: get more people to vote with absentee ballots that get around the restrictions.  If long lines were gonna form up at the precincts: make sure the voters know that they have the right to stay in line even past closing hours.  It worked.

Losers: Every Republican candidate who wanted to ban abortion and dismissed rape as an issue, especially the Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.  They got their asses handed to them and kept the Senate safe for the Democratic Party.  As a side observation, a major Florida amendment ballot tried to limit abortion access to where the only exception allowed was "the health of the mother".  Yes, the ballot DID NOT have an exception to rape/incest, which happen to be very popular exceptions for a vast majority of Americans (even the ones who profess being pro-life: even they know how serious the problem rape and incest are).  Result: the ballot went down to defeat by a solid majority.  Lesson to the GOP: DO NOT DISMISS RAPE AS A SERIOUS ISSUE.

Losers: Rick Scott.  Thanks to his voter suppression efforts, our state was even more ill-prepared for the election turnout than in 2000, making us more a laughing stock than we were back then.  Also, 8 of the 11 amendment ballots he and his legislative buddies pushed onto the election suffered major rejections, especially the amendment that tried to Court-Pack the state judicial system to make it more partisan (the amendments that passed were three tax exemption ballots for veterans, widows of veterans and first responders, and low-income seniors: I argued against them mainly because of their origins, the revenue cuts may prove minor given how these changes benefit a slight minority of the populus).  Better still, the effort to get three State Court Justices voted off the bench - a clear attempt at forcing vacancies that Scott could fill with cronies - came back with all three judges getting 3/4ths of the vote to RETAIN, a huge slap in the face to Scott.
In short: BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
The big talk I'm hearing right now is how to kick Scott out of office in 2014 when he comes up for re-election.  If the state Republicans had any sense, they'd look at Scott's poor polling and run a viable primary candidate to kick him out before the whole state does...

Winners: Marriage equality advocates and Pot Legalization advocates.  Two states (almost three, I think one state is still counting ballots) voted in FAVOR of gay marriage rights, while one more state voted down a ballot that would have overturned a legislative pro-gay law.  Two states voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, a huge salvo in the fight to end a broken and ineffective War on Drugs.

Winners: Women.  Women candidates won elective office in huge numbers across the nation at both the state and federal level.  Lemme double check, but I think nine women won Senate seats this election, a huge uptick in gender representation in the Upper House of Congress.  Guess what, pundits?  There was a War on Women, and the women fought back.

Losers: Senate Republicans.  Not only did they fail dramatically to garner a slim hold of that wing of Congress - which would have combined with their solid hold of the House - but they lost major leadership from either retirement (Kyl, indy Senator Lieberman) or losing to more liberal Democratic candidates (Scott Brown losing to Elizabeth Warren).  The incoming Democratic Senate make-up is going to be more liberal than ever before, and more than likely to weaken if not eliminate the Cloture rule (and by extension the filibuster), the biggest weapon the Senate GOP had in obstructing Obama's policy agendas.

Winner: Me.  The blog traffic to my site bounced from single-digits to the hundreds thanks to my article on the Florida 2012 amendment ballots.  Especially a huge crowd of viewers conducting search terms from Japan.  Wow.  Now, if I can get you new viewers to consider the fine possibility of buying my ebooks...  wait, don't go!  Sniff, it gets so lonely here...

Loser: Well, yeah, had to mention him sooner or later.  Hi, Mitt.

Winner: Barack Obama.


And now, with his Anger Translator Luther:

Luther: "“I mean, you know how much money they spent trying to get rid of this? Millions, son! I said millions!"

Losers: Speaking of those millions, the billionaires who shipped tens of not hundreds of millions of dollars into unregulated SuperPACs in an effort to make Obama a One-Termer.  What you all get for your value, dawgs?  NOTHING!  ALL THAT MONEY WASTED BWHAHAHAHA!

Instead of being afraid of how Citizens United may make it easier for the wealthy to win elections - which 2012 proved the opposite - there needs to be a genuine investigation into what happened with all that money that got funneled into Karl Rove's and others' SuperPACs.  There seems to be a lot of waste happening there: not many ads made, almost no ground game like how Obama organized, a great number of reports of how the people "managing" the SuperPACs walked off with huge salaries and bonuses they paid themselves...  I'm serious.  Campaigning has turned into a BILLION-DOLLAR industry and there's little oversight: it's the perfect scam for con artists...

Winners: every person in Dade and Broward Counties who stood in line for 7,8, God love 'em probably 10 hours on Election Night.  The Obama campaign made sure the word got out that the law ensures any person standing in line at the Closing time (7 pm EST) had the right to stay in line and get their vote in, no matter how late it got past that.  This is democracy in action.  While it was a damn shame they had to wait so long, God Bless Them for doing so.  And next time, let's make it easier on them to get their votes in and counted.

Did I miss anyone?

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Rump Parliament of Media

You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately ... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!  - Oliver Cromwell to the Rump Parliament

In the aftermath of this 2012 election, one of the most obvious results of last night was how the conservative columnists and media darlings sitting at the head of the American political commentary were so utterly and completely wrong about how the election was going to play out.

To quote Conor:

Barack Obama just trounced a Republican opponent for the second time. But unlike four years ago, when most conservatives saw it coming, Tuesday's result was, for them, an unpleasant surprise. So many on the right had predicted a Mitt Romney victory, or even a blowout -- Dick Morris, George Will, and Michael Barone all predicted the GOP would break 300 electoral votes. Joe Scarborough scoffed at the notion that the election was anything other than a toss-up. Peggy Noonan insisted that those predicting an Obama victory were ignoring the world around them. Even Karl Rove, supposed political genius, missed the bulls-eye. These voices drove the coverage on Fox News, talk radio, the Drudge Report, and conservative blogs.

Those audiences were misinformed...

Each of those talking heads/columnists have been publicly exposed for putting personal viewpoints ahead of the facts and sticking to fantasy of their narrative - they are more invested in a close horse-race in order to keep ratings high - rather than doing the hard work of actual journalism - which would have involved research, genuine analysis, and more than likely direct interviewing of key people which in this case would have been a decent sampling of Honest-to-God voters.

A lot of this has to do with the fact that these media types - isolated in their offices, traveling in hermetically-sealed limos, chatting with each other in closed studios - are truly in a bubble of their own making.  They can't perceive the world outside that bubble and think that Real America - some idealized majority among us 300 million -  is just like them: pining for the era when America saved everyone during the Cold War, our Dollar was golden and Reagan their God.  Just look at Peggy Noonan's insistence that she could see the Real America, simply because she saw so many yard signs for Romney as she rode down the streets of Florida... without realizing that a low-staffed Romney ground game had little else to do BUT put yard signs everywhere they could.  Or that Obama yard signs kept getting stolen by spiteful Romney supporters. 

This shouldn't be too surprising when the Republican leadership during the Bush the Lesser years embraced the idea that their belief, and acting on that belief, would force the Real World to bend to their will.  Again to Conor:

In conservative fantasy-land, Richard Nixon was a champion of ideological conservatism, tax cuts are the only way to raise revenue, adding neoconservatives to a foreign-policy team reassures American voters, Benghazi was a winning campaign issue, Clint Eastwood's convention speech was a brilliant triumph, and Obama's America is a place where black kids can beat up white kids with impunity. Most conservative pundits know better than this nonsense -- not that they speak up against it. They see criticizing their own side as a sign of disloyalty. I see a coalition that has lost all perspective, partly because there's no cost to broadcasting or publishing inane bullshit. In fact, it's often very profitable. A lot of cynical people have gotten rich broadcasting and publishing red meat for movement conservative consumption.

Each of the people named by Friedersdorf - including Rush Limbaugh, who wasn't named but is part of the same problem - are now conservative columnists and radio hosts who came of age in the shadow of Reagan.  None of them seem to grasp that it's not 1985 anymore.  It's been 30 years since the heyday of Saint Ronnie's regime and yet the likes of George Will and Noonan and seem to think that most of America's problems can be solved the same way (unlikely: the problems we have now stem from what happened in 1985...) and with the same leadership (a solid conservative manly, religious, and devoted to deregulated economics).  These columnists and permanent guests on the talk show circuits have a problem accepting the slight possibility that a non-Republican could lead this nation: these are the same people who had problems accepting Bill Clinton, focusing more on his flaws than his skills, and it's only 10 years after he left that they're finally grokking why a majority of Americans still think well of Clinton and his presidency.

Their failure this weekend to stick to the facts, the whole-hearted way they gleefully predicted a Romney landslide as though he would be yet another Return to Reagan-ism, brings to the fore just how out-of-touch these self-appointed judges of Real America really are. This is the breaking point of "Epistemic Closure", the groupthink of people who haven't the need to think for more than 30 years...

I'm with Ta-Nehisi here: time to fire the pundits.  We don't need a term limit for elected officials, we can just vote them out if needed.  No, it's time to retire some of these self-indulgent out-of-touch media elites who have sat too long in the television studios (here now to James Fallows):

Remember, these people's claim to fame -- especially in the case of (in their respective primes) Barone, Morris, and Rove -- is that they know something special about politics. If they are putting their names behind these predictions, presumably they would like us to take them seriously. We'll see what happens in the next day or two: If they are right, all appropriate credit. But if they are not, this should be remembered, rather than just blown off. And similarly, if the "quants" who are unanimously predictable a sizable Obama win prove to be wrong, they should be made to explain.

They should be fired.  They should resign if they have any true perspective on the world around them.  But ah, the temptations of those six-figure speaking fees and seven-figure book deals...


Starting Off The Post-Election Blogging, I Want to Say Thank You

I went to bed last night at 1:00 AM, well after the Electoral vote count was called for Obama (yay) and with a slim Popular vote count for Obama (keep it up), and well after making sure that the worst of the worst Florida amendment ballots had crashed and burned to defeat.  And so this morning I know I got a lot of things to write about.

I want to start off by thanking the people who stopped off to view the blog during these final months of the election.  Especially everyone who came by looking for the blog entry reviewing the Florida 2012 amendment ballots.  The pageviews for that got into 1,000+ hits within the month, becoming the second-most viewed entry on this blog.

It's a bit amazing what I get from the page count stats on this blog.  It's showing me what search terms were used, showing me where the searches are coming from (Japan?  The second-most views are from Japan?  ...I mean, I'm thrilled I'm getting readers that far overseas... But now I feel the need to send a gift basket or something to the local consulate...).  It's been a thrill watching the daily pageview counts go from 7 per day to 100 to 200.

It's a pity I can't get more of you to post a comment though.  Is it really that hard to use one of the account options that Blogger allows?  I'm seeing it allowing Yahoo Open ID, Google, I think Facebook logins...  Do me a favor, someone.  Let me know what you're seeing for Login options for Comments, I will read your Anonymous submission and post it as long as it's clean and on-topic.

My next posts are going to be covering observations about how the 2012 Election went last night (messier than it ought to be: forget voter fraud, the TRUE scandal of voting is how effed up is this system), and a deeper comment about the Florida Amendment votes and what it should mean for Rick "Ass Kicked" Scott.

Big smiles, Obama people.  Big smiles!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

This Day, WE VOTE

November 6, 2012.

Election Day.

GET THE VOTE OUT!

Please for the Love of God VOTE OBAMA.

Please for the sake of this great state of Florida do NOT vote for any Republican for any office.

Please for the sake of this great state do NOT vote for any of the amendment ballots that Rick "Vote Suppressor" Scott and his legislative buddies are forcing on Florida residents.

Please for the sake of sanity and honest governance DO VOTE to RETAIN the state justices that Scott wants to kick out so he can cram the courts with his cronies.

Please, voters, please, try to see what I see: that the Republicans are obsessed with forcing more tax cuts on us after years of a Bush the Lesser administration that clearly proved tax cuts DO NOT work; that the Republicans are obsessed with eliminating any exemption for abortion including cases of rape/incest and protecting the mother's health, even though a vast majority of Americans are fine with those causes as a need to keep abortion as a choice; that the Republicans are eager to destroy every aspect of government and privatize everything, even though history has proved the need for effective working government to uphold laws and regulations that protect us and even though history has proved privatization doesn't save on money it more often increases corruption and health risks; that the Republicans do not reflect or represent the whole of this nation showing their open disdain for minorities, women, the college-age voters...

Please, voters, try to see this: Obama has been an effective President; getting health care reform passed, closing down military operations in Iraq the way the nation and the world wanted us; keeping our economy stabilized and growing while other parts of the world like Europe and Asia are collapsing under their own austerity plans; making Bin Laden and Al Qaeda the priority in the War on Terror, not unneeded ground wars in more and more Middle Eastern nations; standing for women's rights especially regarding women's health; making a public stand for marriage equality and ending Don't Ask Don't Tell; saving the auto industry and ensuring enough manufacturing jobs stay in this country to where America is still building things for ourselves and the world...

Dear God: please let us get the vote out today and in favor of the leadership we need and deserve.  Dear God, let us vote for Obama for four more years...

Monday, November 05, 2012

A Call To Action

Dear Florida residents:

GET THE VOTE OUT TOMORROW TUESDAY NOV. 6th!

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD VOTE OBAMA, VOTE NELSON FOR SENATE, VOTE DEMOCRAT FOR YOUR PARTICULAR CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT!  STOP THE REPUBLICANS FROM F-CKING UP CONGRESS!

(gasp) (wheeze) I'm not finished yet...

VOTE NO ON ALL THE AMENDMENTS RICK "VOTER STEALER" SCOTT AND HIS LEGE BUDDIES ARE PUSHING ON US!

VOTE TO RETAIN ALL JUSTICES SO THAT SCOTT WON'T FILL THE COURTS WITH HIS CRONIES!

(wheeze) (breathe) (drink of water)  I AM SERIOUS HERE PEOPLE!  THIS ELECTION EVERYTHING IS AT STAKE!

Signed,
Me

P.S. I do accept most comments submitted for posting.  I will NOT, however, post anything from any coward signing on as Anonymous.  There ought to be a couple of ways of logging in to post with even an online nickname, but I've found Anonymous posters are cowardly trolls not worth the response otherwise.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

It Should Never Have Been This Close

I know this is a partisan sentiment.  Still...

How the hell could this 2012 Presidential campaign be this damn close?  It's a goddamn nail-biter going into Tuesday.

I know I shouldn't view myself as an Only Sane Man.  There are others out there who I know are looking at this same situation and headdesking until there's a foot-deep dent in their worktable.  Besides, sanity is relative: I know I'm coming to this game with some personal emotional issues - depression, social anxiety, PTSD from having survived Tarpon Springs Middle School (shudder) - but even with all that I'd like to think I'm still level-headed and possessing clarity and awareness.

But how the hell could this election be so damned close?

I know our elections are dominated by a strong two-party system, where the base choices are Republican and Democrat and where any viable Third Party choice really aren't that viable at the moment.  I know this tends to force the elections to be closer than they need to be because of tribal identity: people vote their party because dammit that's how they've voted, how their families voted, how their social circles voted and they are not going to change now simply because the party's offering for candidate(s) are moronic wingnuts.  This is pretty much why popular votes - outside of gerrymandered/rigged congressional districts - tend to be around the 55 - 45 percentile breakdown.  But this alone couldn't explain why we're facing a situation where a good incumbent President - Obama, who has pretty much kept a solid majority of his 2008 campaign promises - is not cruising to an easy re-election.  A President Obama who got a health care reform package passed, a President Obama who carried through on ending military operations in Iraq (a war he DID NOT START BUT DID FINISH ON HONORABLE TERMS), a President Obama who made getting Bin Laden a priority after the Bush the Lesser administration basically forgot Bin Laden was America's Enemy Number One, a President Obama who presides over a solid growing economy that is doing tons better than the economically unstable Eurozone stuck in austerity nightmares.  I'm talking about the possibility of reliable, consistent, effective leader President Obama losing the election to the likes of Mitt Romney.

I'm talking about a candidate in Romney who for about five-six months of primary campaigning was NOT the preferred candidate for his own Republican Party.  The primary voters kept flipping over to other candidates, other choices like Cain (?), Santorum (?!), Gingrich (?!?!), all in a desperate attempt to find a candidate who was Not-Romney.

I'm talking about a candidate in Romney who became the Presidential candidate while carrying the weakest likability numbers of ANY candidate since the mid-20th Century.  Even Bush the Lesser had higher likability numbers in 2000, even NIXON had higher likability numbers in 1960 AND 1968.  Romney is so plastic a candidate you can put him next to a statue made out of Lego(tm) and not be able to tell them apart.

I'm talking about a candidate in Romney being so much a flip-flopping panderer that there should be no honest way enough voters should believe Mitt on ANYTHING other than Romney's most consistent platform position: that of his damnable massive tax cut plan that goes far deeper AND CAUSES FAR MORE DAMAGE than Bush the Lesser's proposed plan in 2001.  It's like a mass number of voters have completely forgotten already that massive tax cuts DO NOT CREATE JOBS, DO NOT FIX ECONOMIES, DO NOT SOLVE ANYTHING AT ALL.  WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU VOTERS!  Okay, alright, gotta dial it back, but seriously people why are you still buying this tax-cut snake oil?

I'm talking about a candidate in Romney who LIES SO OFTEN and KEEPS PUSHING THE SAME LIES EVEN WHEN CAUGHT that he's already made himself the least-trustworthy candidate OF ALL TIME.  This is with a candidate list that has Nixon on it (twice!), LBJ, other well-known prevaricators and dissemblers.  I will admit, every candidate lies: Most of them have the common sense not to repeat the lies once caught, most of them have the common sense not to tell big whopping lies that can be easily disproved.  But Romney, dear God: ROMNEY LIES AND KEEPS LYING.  And he's still getting votes?  Because apparently enough people prefer the lies over the facts... and that thought alone should drive any citizen possessed of civic virtue over the edge.

I'm talking about a candidate in Romney who got caught on video at a private fundraiser with fellow super-millionaires (I think some of them in attendance were below the $1 billion cutoff for billionaire status, the slackers) disparaging what he called "The 47 percent" - an arbitrary percentage of Americans who do not pay federal income tax because they are impoverished, not earning enough income that could or should be taxed.  Mitt basically pissed on every poor family, every single mother struggling with two jobs and twenty bills, every disabled citizen in need for federal aid to help pay medical costs, more than just that "47 percent".  It's said that "Character is what you are when you think no one is looking (it's actually "What you are in the dark," but Romney was in a well-lit room so the exact analogy would get nit-picked)," and in that moment when Romney thought no voters were looking he bared his soul to people he thought were like him.  He openly stated he will as President IGNORE such people, he would ignore roughly half the nation, just to indulge the ones he felt he should represent.  Even though the job as President means you're supposed to REPRESENT THE WHOLE NATION, EVEN THE ONES WHO DISAGREE WITH YOU.  Romney spoke his disdain, with a disrespect that would have should have disqualified him for the candidacy right then and there... and yet the SOB is thisclose to becoming President anyway.

And it can't be only because he's the Republican offering on the ballot in a two-party-dominated electoral system.  The entire Republican Party shouldn't be doing this well considering the damage they're still accountable for as a party from 2001 to now.

I'm talking about a Republican Party that has proven over the last 10 years to be fiscally irresponsible, creating massive amounts of debt when they were in charge of the purse-strings and yet still screaming that Obama is going to create even larger amounts of debt.  The hypocrisy of it reeks.

I'm talking about a Republican Party still dominated by neocons regarding foreign policy, claiming that Obama is making the United States un-liked among our allied nations - a blatant lie - and claiming American greatness can be restored by STARTING MORE WARS in places like Iran and Syria.  I'm talking about a group of neocons still convinced that torture is legal and would go back to that regime within a heartbeat of getting Romney into the White House (for all the woes on the civil liberties far left side that Obama is a terrible civil rights President, just remember: THE REPUBLICANS HAVE BEEN AND WILL BE FAR WORSE.  Yes, degrees do matter.  Work with the ones you can trust more than the Cheney acolytes).

I'm talking about a Republican Party that has been so openly obstructionist to where this session's Congress (the 112th) had its popularity numbers around 11 percent approval.  THERE WERE DISEASES MORE POPULAR THAN THIS CONGRESS.  And yet not enough voters woke up to the fact that the persons to blame for our weak economy is not the President - he can enforce the laws, he can propose budgets, but he can't pass them - but the Congress that passed ZERO jobs bills and voted 31 times in a useless gesture to overturn health care reform.  To any voters still out there who are going to vote on Tuesday, please remember this: THE REASON OUR JOB GROWTH WAS SLOW THE LAST FOUR YEARS IS BECAUSE OF CONGRESS, NOT OBAMA.  Please, God, let the voters hear this and remember this...

We're talking about a Republican Party that has been so open and blatant about their voter suppression efforts in key swing states that the entire Party should be charged with violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (and other voting rights laws).

This is what we're up against this year.  This is what's at stake this Tuesday November 6th.  We're voting for a candidate in Obama and a party in the Democrats that have us on the right track in domestic, economic, and foreign policies, against a candidate in Romney and party in the Republicans that would take us back to the domestic, economic, and foreign polices that FAILED during the Bush the Lesser regime.  Worse, if the Republicans win anything, such as the White House or the Senate, they are going to be emboldened by the belief that it was their policies and NOT THEIR LYING, OBSTRUCTION AND YES VOTER SUPPRESSION that won it for them.  Thus emboldened, they will continue to act this way: getting worse with their lying; getting worse with their obstruction; taking away voting rights for minorities, college age citizens and even women, voting rights that we as a nation fought and bled for over 200-plus years to EXPAND not retract.

This is why I keep screaming DON'T VOTE REPUBLICAN.  Because this Republican Party is not a party, it's a radical ideology betraying every civic virtue an honest political party would uphold.  Sullivan's been noting for years that this GOP is not conservative, and he's right: the Republicans are dogmatic-obsessives, convinced of the purity of their quest to cut all taxes, kill off government, and form an impossible utopia.

This Tuesday is key.  November 6th is key.

GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT.

DO NOT VOTE REPUBLICAN.  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT VOTE REPUBLICAN.

I can only pray now that Obama wins.  Right now, that's the best any of us can pray for...