Tag Archives: Elections

South Carolina Shocker

I was surprised to wake up this morning to see that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich had won the South Carolina primary. And won it convincingly.

Newt Gingrich by Gage SkidmoreThe final tally showed Gingrich winning the primary by 12 points over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and it puts what the Romney camp had hoped would be a quick march to the nomination into serious question. Romney has the backing of much of the Republican power structure. He’s already spending millions for advertising in Florida, which votes a week from Tuesday.

I’ve been watching Gingrich since he ascended to the Speakership in 1994. I was working for C-SPAN at the time, and Gingrich was famous for his “Special Orders” speeches, conducted in the House after the close of official business. The speeches, which could last as much as an hour, were delivered to a mostly-empty house chamber, but recorded and aired by the house television system and read into the Congressional record. It was one of the tactics that brought the speaker national recognition.

Now Gingrich, who many had discounted as unelectable, won by a substantial margin, and turned the nomination process into a horserace. He went on the offensive with the news media a debate the day ABC news aired an interview with his second ex-wife in which she asserted he had asked for an “open Mitt Romney by Gage Skidmoremarriage,” which under many circumstances could have spelled the end to his campaign. He blasted CNN for opening the debate with a question about his personal life, and said it was “despicable” for them to do so. By doing that, it’s possible he raised his standing with many of South Carolina’s conservative voters who have a pretty low opinion of the national news media. It’s certain that his debate performance  on that issue was a factor, and maybe a major factor, in his win Saturday. It can’t, however, be discounted that voters do not register by political party in South Carolina. Democrats and independents are allowed to vote in the Republican primary. It leads one to wonder how many Democrats may have turned out to cast a vote for Gingrich because they saw him as the weaker candidate, more easily defeated by Barack Obama in the fall. But President Obama would underestimate former Speaker Gingrich at his own peril.

Now, the campaign comes to Florida, where only Republicans can vote in the primary. There is a debate here in Jacksonville at UNF January 26th, and I’m expecting that my phone will start ringing incessantly with robo-calls not later than Monday. But unlike South Carolina, Florida is not a traditional “southern” state. There is an extensive diversity of thought here. The Panhandle and northeast Florida are more conservative, like the “traditional” south, which may give Gingrich and advantage. But the central and southern areas, largely from the I-4 corridor to south Florida will be more moderate, and potentially more favorable to Romney. It’s possible the Florida can make the decision, but it’s just as likely that the nominating campaign will go deep into the spring. It does appear now that the field has been winnowed to two, though former Senator Rick Santorum and Congressman Ron Paul will probably hang on as long as money continues to come in. We will see in a week if the Florida balloting swings the momentum back to Romney, or gives Gingrich an additional boost. Let the robo-calls begin. (Photos from Wikipedia by Gage Skidmore)

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Filed under Elections, Politics, Primarys, Republican Party

Election Eve

And so it comes down to this.  In about 24 hours, we’ll either have a good idea as to who will be the next POTUS, or know that it’s going to be a long, long night.  I may not even watch.

For the first time in a long time, I won’t be in some kind of broadcast facility for election night.  And since I voted two weeks ago, I just can’t get jazzed about it tomorrow.  It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion as to who is going to win, though as John McCain said on Monday Night Football a few moments ago, “That’s why they play the games”.  And he’s right.

Instead, Scott Abrams is back in town to conduct a workshop with John Bryan, and he’ll be crashing at our house tomorrow.  I do have an early meeting at JCCI Wednesday morning, but we’ll be able to have him up and out of here by then.

If I have to be out of a job, and I guess I do, it’s helping in that I’ve got some time to spend over at the Aquatic Garden house, trying to get it ready for Andie’s mom to move back in.  I’m not convinced she ever will, but we’re working towards that end none the less.  There remains a ton to be done, and if she’s going to move back in, only a short time to do it.  At least after tomorrow’s Dr. appointment, she’ll have an appointment with an Oncologist who may be able to give us a better idea of what we’re dealing with.

So, I’ve got a lot on my mind this election eve.  A lot more than who’ll be the next occupant of the White House.  Personal events have served to focus my attention on a lot more than national politics.  As much as I love watching the process, and I think it really matters who wins, my mind is elsewhere.  Actually a lot of elswheres.  With luck, no matter who wins tomorrow, the Republic will survive, and I’ve done all I can to influence that.  I voted.  I can have a lot more influence over what’s going to happen to us in 3 months.  That’s where I need to place most of my attention.

If you didn’t vote early … go vote.

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Can We Take Off the Blinders?

I was watching the Jackie Mason response to Sara Silverman today.

Now, you’ll notice, once you stop laughing, that Mason makes a very salient point.  You should vote for whoever you think will be the best for America.

I understand that political parties will likely always be with us.  Always.  I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing, but it is what it is.

I know people who would not vote for a Republican for a million dollars. It wouldn’t matter if it was the person they most loved and respected in the world, if there was an R beside their name on the ballot, they’d vote for the one with a D.  I really, really don’t understand that.   But the more I read comments on various blogs, it’s apparent that they are legion.  Of course, that goes for some people who are reflexively against anyone with a D.  And I wish there were a lot fewer of them.

I seems like there are so many closed minds in America today.  No one seems to be willing to even LISTEN to what the other guy has to say.  And unfortunately, it seems to start with the candidates.

We are a nation divided against its self.  If Lincoln is to be believed, we may not stand.  Our economy appears to be in a freefall, and Congress dithers, points fingers, and can’t even pass an emergency bailout bill that’s not loaded down with goodies for special interest groups.  You’d think, in that kind of an emergency, they could have passed a clean bill and not immediately devolved into finger pointing when it didn’t.

Just once, I wish they’d admit that they’re going down into the mud from the get-go.  Don’t tease me with all the talk of “a positive campaign”.  Don’t tell me it’s going to be “about the issues”.  Just admit it.  You, or your surrogates, are going to do everything possible to be sure your opponent is cast in absolutely the worst possible light.  Either stop being weasels or actually run a positive campaign.

It’s just appalling that anyone should be accused of being a racist because they don’t vote for a particular candidate.  It’s appalling that anyone should be accused of being a fascist, or an idiot, or an automaton.  But by the same token, there’s not a single candidate that should be taken at their word.  If you’re going to be an agent for change … tell us how.  No one should “drink the kool-aid”.  No one should be for a candidates just because he or she is NOT the incumbent, or a member of the opponents party.  Our elections seem to be decided by people who aren’t stupid, but who don’t seem to take the time to think things through and really understand.

Be skeptical.  Take everything they say with about a pound of salt.  It seems the journalists have forgotten that as well, at least some of them.  It doesn’t matter what the story is, approach everything with the journalist skepticism that got you into the business in the first place.  If you want to work PR for a candidate, apply at a PR firm, or with the campaign.  Applauding journalists have no place at a political rally.

I think we can all agree.  No candidate is going to be perfect.  I want to be able to respect your decision to vote for a candidate based on a reasoned and informed argument, not on a string of talking points you got in an e-mail this morning, or what you might have read on your favorite partisan blog.  I know everyone likes to read things they agree with, but be a little skeptical.  And that includes the New York Times, Washington Post, Washing Times, CNN, Fox News, all the legacy media.

It makes me sad when people I like and respect make me feel small or stupid because I don’t agree with their political position.  I know the probably don’t mean to, but it seems like when I talk with people with whom I disagree politically, there’s no room for discussion.  No one seems to be open to any idea that doesn’t agree with their own.  Maybe I’m the same way, or that’s how they perceive me.  I’d like to think that I’m open minded … or at least willing to listen.

So please, be an informed voter.  Read, listen, have an open mind.  Don’t reflexively reject a candidate simply because he or she is not of your party.   Don’t wait to take your cues from the candidates, or party leaders in congress.  If we start from the bottom, and don’t march in lockstep, maybe WE can begin to break the gridlock.  If your Senator or Representative is egregiously partisan, and you’re tired of partisanship, learn something about their opponent and vote for them if you think it will be better.

So, as Jackie Mason says … vote for the person you think will do the best job.  But know why you’re doing it.  Don’t just vote for change, or the war hero, or the sound bite or the bumper sticker, or the talking point.

Maybe we can make this thing a little bit better.

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Filed under Congress, Elections, Partisanship, Politics, Thoughts

Flip Flops are for Feet

Thongs are another thing entirely.  Though as a kid in Indiana, we called “flip flops” “thongs”.  But that’s another post.

NoPolI was considering today the vilification of the term “flip flop” … the preferred footwear of 4 out of 5 beach bums who use footwear at all.  Flip flops, you see, are for feet.  But more and more, they’ve been used to characterize any change in political position.

And that’s not accurate.

Let me be clear.  I have pretty much no use for a politician who can’t look at a situation and change a long-held position based on new information and a changed situation.  That’s just smart.  To blindly hold on to a position for fear of being called a flip-flopper is just moronic.  One of the definitions on insanity is to continue to do the same thing and expect different results.  So any politician, or any person for that matter, has to have the ability to change their mind without being castigated … as long as they are truly changing based on new, and good, information.

I’d classify John McCain’s switch on offshore drilling in that category.  When the moratorium was imposed, oil was (relatively) abundant and cheap, and drilling technology was far more crude (pardon the pun) than it is today. It made sense to set some areas aside for environmental concerns.  Many oil spills may have been prevented, though it’s impossible to prove a negative.  So be it.

With today’s improved drilling technology, and oil that looks like it’ll be over $100/barrel for the foreseeable future mostly in the hands of foreign countries who only trade with us because we have the money … well why not take a serious look at the facts as they stand today, and see if MAYBE a shift in thinking might be appropriate?  That’s just good policy.

Senator McCains’ switch on his own immigration bill, however, smacks of political expediency.  That change seems to be driven more by Senator McCains’ desire to appeal to the fare right Republican base.

Senator Obama, on the other hand, seems to me to be far more willing change on a whim, and I’ll go back to the drilling example to illustrate.  In just the past few days, he’s reiterated his position against offshore drilling, which he’s apparently held for his short time in the Senate … then said he’d be willing to consider it as part of a broader energy plan, to today saying again he’s opposed to lifting the moratorium.  I think any way you slice it, that’s a double flip, and I’m not sure on what he’s based those changes … if not polls showing more and more Americans are in favor of increased exploration, and then switching back based the howls of the far left Democratic base.

I guess one of my major problems with Senator Obama is that I don’t KNOW of any of his long-held political positions simply because he’s not been around long enough to establish any track record.  So I can’t cite any example of him changing a long-held position based on new information, changes in technology, or other legitimate factors.  For good or bad, that leaves Senator Obama far more open to the appearance of flip-flopping, IMO.  Since there don’t appear to be any long-held beliefs, and little documentation or writings from his life before politics, any change is a recent change.  There’s no way he can help that.

If you can cite such an example … please leave it in the comments … though I’ll warn you that all first comments are moderated, and I’ll disallow anything that smacks of being just regurgitated talking points from either side.  Please have an original thought or two, or at least be able to back up your arguments.

I heard on NPR this morning, and I think it was said by Juan Williams, that Senator McCain can’t win on the issues.  I don’t happen to agree with that statement.  I think either candidate could win on the issues if they’d just talk about them.   But as always seems to happen, the discourse has already devolved into who has changed their mind more often, who’s a lightweight rock star, who’s a racist, blah BLAH — blah BLAH — blah BLAH.

I’m disappointed that Senator Obama has backed away from a McCain proposal for a series of 10 town-hall style joint appearances, after he said he’d consider it.  I understand why … it’s not his forte.  So we’ll wind up with the same, boring three pre-packaged joint news conferences that pass for debates these days, each side will proclaim its self the winner, and we’ll learn nothing new.  The questions will be the same old thing, the candidates will barf up their talking points, a few pre-rehearsed jabs will be thrown in so we in the media can talk about ‘heated exchanges” or “scoring a knockout” or “hitting one out of the park” … spin room staples all.  Meanwhile not one voter will be the wiser … nor likely have their mind changed.

Still, and back to my original point, I don’t trust any politician who’s so rigid in their beliefs that they can’t admit that maybe somethings’ changed and maybe they need to take another look at what ever it is and MAYBE they need to re-think their position.  Nor to I trust any politician or pundit or blogger or blog commenter for that matter, who’s got their head shoved so far up the backside of their party line that they’re blind to any idea that doesn’t completely mesh with their own.  We’ll never learn anything that way, and damn little will be accomplished.

Let’s have a comprehensive energy policy that includes increased oil exploration as well as renewable alternatives and nuclear.  Let’s have an economic policy that recognizes that some people will always need help, and that it’s no crime to be rich in America.  Let’s have a public safety policy that admits that some criminals need to be locked away, but also that it’s often less expensive to prevent a crime than it is to punish it.  I’ve said before … this shouldn’t be rocket science.  And yet nothing seems to be more difficult, particularly in even-numbered-years-divisible-by-four.

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Filed under Energy Policy, Fuel Costs, Politics, Polling, Thoughts