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Entries in election 2008 (6)

Wednesday
Sep172008

The real problem with American Politics

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="169" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]A fasces appears on either side of the America...[/caption]
In a word, Congress. Congress is the biggest problem in our political system at present. Congress's average approval rating since January of this year is 28% (44% is the highest and 13% is the lowest). In contrast, President Bush's approval rating over the same period averaged 30% (with a high of 36% and a low of 19%). Now I know what you're thinking, these numbers look pretty similar, and you're right they do. However, we must remember that in the 2006 midterm election the Democrats took control of both houses of Congress on a platform of change (which has become a strong theme for both Presidential candidates). The 2006 election was an historic election (complete Congressional control has only changed 3 other times since we began directly electing Senators in the early 20th century). The people of the United States voted strongly to end the "Republican Revolution", and what has it gotten us? Well, aside from a minimum wage hike, nothing. The incumbency re-election rate for the House of Representatives (since 1962) is 92.86%, the Senate (since 1964) is 81.54%. In the historic 2006 election, 94% of incumbents we re-elected to the House, along with 79% of their colleagues in the Senate. Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of President Bush, I can certianly be counted among the 64% of Americans who do not approve of the job he is doing (or has done) as President. However, the problem is far more systemic than the inhabitant of 1600 Pensylvania Ave. The problem with Washington is systemic, add to that the Presidential candidates manage to convince the voters every 4-8 years that things will change, they never really do. We are going to have a new president, that is certain, but what no one is paying attention to are the Senators and Representatives who serve us is Congress. I don't know about anyone else, but I can't even recall seeing a political ad for the Congressional elections in my district, everything is Obama/McCain. The Congress is probably the most important branch in our government, and yet has the lowest turnover rate (hell some Supreme Court Justices, who are appointed for life serve shorter terms than some Senators/Representatives.) This election has centered around the theme of "Change". Obama claimed it, McCain has taken it over as of late and come November 5th, only one thing will most likely have changed. Either Senator McCain or Senator Obama will cease to be a Senator and will become President-Elect, while the loser will return to the Senate and prepare for his inevitable re-election in 2010. The real question is what the American people plan to do about this? Unfortunately the answer to that question is nothing. Voter turnout hasn't been over 60% since 1988, and while I think we will see over 60% turnout in 2008, my guess is that a healthy majority of those voters are under-informed and will vote straight-party tickets or vote based solely on their emotional reactions to specific candidates. We need to take back the political system in this country, and we need to do that by sending a message to Washington at the ballot box, by sending incumbents home and making sure that politicis ceases to be a career and returns to being a service. Personally, I have decided to not vote for any candidate that has served more than two full terms, regardless of party affiliation (hell, neither party represents me anyways, and independent/third-party candidates have no chance at being elected in our system). Who's with me?
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Tuesday
Sep162008

Push Polling Makes a Comeback

This report from Politico.com may be the first true "push-polling" i've heard about during this election cycle.
Jewish voters are complaining of a poll that, after confirming their religion, asks a series of questions that appear aimed at alarming Jewish voters, including linking Barack Obama to Palestinian terrorist groups. The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn, who took notes, and lists the negative messages:
  • Obama has had a decade long relationship with pro-Palestinian leaders in Chicago
  • The leader of Hamas, Ahmed Yousef, expressed support for Obama and his hope for Obama's victory
  • The church Barack Obama has attended is known for its anti-Israel and anti-American remarks
  • Jimmy Carter's anti-Israel national security advisor is one of Barack Obama's foreign policy advisors
  • Barack Obama was the member of a board (sic) that funded a pro-Palestinian chartiable organization
  • Barack Obama called for holding a summit of Muslim nations exlcuding Israel if elected president
Ben Smith's Blog: Jewish voters complain of anti-Obama poll - Politico.com.
Those who have received these calls claim that they are being conducted by "Research Strategies". The McCain campaign will obviously disavow any knowledge of these polls, even if the first result in a google search for "research strategies polling" is:

Wilson Research Strategies| Home

Opinion research firm serving Republican candidates, conservative organizations, public affairs campaigns, and major corporations. www.w-r-s.com/ - 19k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this
Perhaps that's all a little too convenient, but it doesn't bode well.  I would have hoped that this distasteful method of campaigning would not have been seen in an election featuring the man it has most prominently been used against, John McCain. I honestly hope for McCain's sake that this is being done by some rogue 529, but given the way this campaign has been going, it seems like both sides are more than willing to pull out the stops, go negative and play fast and loose with the facts to get to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as a temporary resident.
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Thursday
Sep112008

CBS pulls "lipstick" ad, Fox News cries wolf

This little "fair and balanced" gem come to us via Fox News (a.k.a The White House News Network):
CBS News has jumped into the middle of the presidential race, forcing YouTube to take down a Web ad by John McCain’s campaign that the network calls “misleading” in its use of Katie Couric. The McCain campaign is still featuring the ad prominently on its Web site and copycats have been uploaded onto YouTube by other users. The Illinois senator used the The Illinois Senator used the lipstick on a pig analogy...while describing his Republican opponents policies. lipstick on a pig analogy at a campaign event in Lebanon, Va., on Tuesday while describing his Republican opponents. CBS News Forces YouTube to Pull McCain ‘Lipstick’ Ad - America’s Election HQ.
To begin with the CBS Corporation (formerly Viacom) is against any of it's content being used on YouTube, regardless of the group presenting it.  Second, the ad presents statements made by a CBS employee (Katie Couric) completely outside of the context in which they were made.  Third, the McCain/Palin campaign violated copyright laws. Fox News claiming that CBS "jumped into the middle of the Presidential race" is a false assertion, the McCain/Palin campaign pulled them in when they infringed CBS copyright. I'm sure in the eyes of the WHNN this move is simply another ploy of the liberal media to prevent the convervative's from getting their message out.  Well, it's not. Of course, this is completely overlooking the fact that the ad itself is based solely on a manufactured slight of Sarah Palin.  I don't think anyone in their right mind would actually think Obama was calling Sarah Palin a pig (especially since Obama himself stated last night on Letterman that if anything 'had I meant it this way — she would be the lipstick” and McCain’s policies would be the pig, [Obama] said.'
Thursday
Sep112008

Working Mom's Identify with "Flawed" Palin

Eight working mothers from the Virginia Run development in Centreville went together to the Palin-McCain rally yesterday because Sarah Palin is "just like us." This is something new. Nobody ever accused Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan of being just like us. "She justifies what we do every day," said Beth Tweddle, who works in sales and carried a sign she drew herself, saying "We [heart] Pit Bull Palin." Tweddle was already a McCain supporter, she said, "but Sarah just energizes us and got us out here because she does what we do, she lives like we do." "She's just as flawed as we are," Tweddle said. "It's not the fact that she's a woman but the way she does it all. And let me tell you: There're more American parents with unwed pregnant teenaged children than American parents with Harvard grads. She's real." Marc Fisher - For Working Moms, 'Flawed' Palin Is the Perfect Choice - washingtonpost.com.
To be honest, I'm not sure how to react to this. The women interviewed in this article are certainly entitled to their opinions, and who am I to say they are wrong.  Although, as a working parent (my oldest son was born when I was 20 and my wife 18) who has made it work for the last 8 years, I think I can add some insight. Personally, I don't think Sarah Palin is qualified to be Vice-President (or President) of the Unites States. First off, I don't buy that she has more "executive experience" than anyone else on the ticket (being mayor of Wasilla, AK pop. 9,000 and governor of the 47th most populous state for less than two years qualifies as significant executive experience). Honestly, I didn't think that Tom Vilsack (former governor of Iowa, the 30th most populous state) was qualified to be President or Vice President, and he served 2 full terms, and I voted for him, twice. Second, since when do we want people who are seen as "flawed" holding the highest positions in our government? We all have flaws, there is no denying that, but to be described as "flawed" by a society indicates something more than a little eccentricity or the occasional bad decision. I seem to recall people having similar feelings about President George W. Bush, who will go down in history as one of the worst presidents of all time. When we start deciding who runs our country by deciding which we would like to hang out with on a Saturday night, we are overlooking a significan part of the equation, most of our friends, are not qualified to be President of the United States. To think that Sarah Palin's qualifications (or lack thereof) are being overlooked because she is the mother of 5 children is disheartening. We need qualified people running this country, if they happen to be hockey mom's that's fine, but the Presidency is a position that should require significant experience in many fields that exist far above that of small-town mayor, or small state governor. George Bush was a two term governor of the 2nd most populous state, and when he leaves office his approval rating will most likely be the 2nd lowest in history, and Nixon was impeached.
Wednesday
Sep102008

Michigan GOP Targeting Foreclosure Victims for Disenfranchisement

Wow, talk about bad timing for this kind of statement.  The McCain/Palin ticket is riding high after the close of the convention and a GOP chairman is talking about using people's less than fortunate circumstances to prevent them from voting.
The chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County Michigan, a key swing county in a key swing state, is planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election as part of the state GOP’s effort to challenge some voters on Election Day. “We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses,” party chairman James Carabelli told Michigan Messenger in a telephone interview earlier this week. He said the local party wanted to make sure that proper electoral procedures were followed. Michigan Messenger » Lose your house, lose your vote.
What possible good could this kind of statement do? As long as I live I will never, ever, be able to understand the actions of high-ranking political party officials.