Squandered Political Capital and the Stench of Failure

Not that they’d listen – they don’t listen to anyone – but I’d counsel Republicans along the same lines as the Democrats when they came to power…keep the fist pumps, terrorist or otherwise, to a minimum. Refrain from the siren call to rub it in, lest you be treated to the swirly next election cycle.

Voters partially returned you to power, but don’t mistake that for an overarching mandate. Their opinion of ALL politicians is only slightly higher than that beagle that shit on their new shoes and they’ll tire of you just as quickly if you can’t turn things around within a few months. That’s highly unlikely and some polls already indicate voters believe there will be as little progress under the Griping Old Pootieheads as there has been under the Demojellies. I fear they are right.

Many voters went Republican not so much because they thought Reps were good, but because they don’t like El Jefe and wanted to send a signal. As goes the President so goes Congress in midterm elections.

Walking on Water to Drowning In Water
No doubt, the O-Man has squandered a tremendous amount of political capital in his two years. CHANGE meant continuing or expanding far too many policies he railed against from the last administration. As for HOPE, he left too much of his base and moderates hoping he would get better – while he didn’t. Had he seized the power of his huge win, he could’ve gotten much more done and he and Congressional Dems would stand a better chance of delivering the Hope and Change they touted. Instead, he let the power of NO run his agenda.

But, it’s not like this hasn’t happened before.

Bush the Lesser squeaked into the White House in an election decided by some moronic guy named Chad who couldn’t operate a punch card without putting an eye out. Dub’s first few months were lackluster at best, but then he got the best political gift a pol could ask for – a scruffy hermit with a penchant for bad home movies dispatched some nuts to cause massive mischief on the Hudson.

He, rightfully at the time, climbed up on a pile of rubble, loudspeaker in hand, and railed against the evil trying to defeat America. People rallied around him as they haven’t done since WWII. In a week he went from just another run-of-the mill stumble bum to someone with more political capital than Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina could ever buy… combined.

Imagine What All That Capital Could Buy
With that amazing power, he could’ve done so many things to help this country. For example, and there were many others, he could’ve used it as a bloody pulpit to preach the dangers of foreign oil dependence. Instead, he encouraged domestic and foreign oil companies to poke more holes in the country than ever before at the expense of enforcing any regulation, no matter how trivial. Today we find ourselves not only more dependent, but watching oilagarchs rob the country blind.

He was still riding high at the beginning of term two, although the first rumblings against the most useless and poorly managed war in history were getting louder. By the time Katrina made his uselessness truly evident, the rumble became a shout and he went down in hot flames of embarrassment.

Everyone else’s embarrassment, not his. And all that political capital he crowed about? He apparently banked with Washington Mutual.

Clinton managed to get a few things done in term one, but pissed it away lying about the world’s most expensive BJ. An entire four years wasted, an incredible historical blot on him, and the final death of whatever shred of bipartisanship and civility was left in Washington.

Bush the Elder fared no better. He squandered the terrific political abundance delivered by Gulf War I by encouraging people to watch his lips as they said, “No new taxes”. He then called every new tax a fee until it got to be such a charade he asked people to stop staring at his lips. Voters repaid him by saying, “Watch our lips. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”

He did manage to stay out of jail over that whole Iran/Contra thing though. No small feat that.

Failure is one of the few things that is truly bipartisan. Whether, like Obama, you negotiate like a fear-crazed 90-year old lady buying a used car at Mad Man Dapper Dan’s Used Car Emporium or are so incompetent you choke on a pretzel, whether you can’t keep your Johnson out of your intern’s mouth or puke in the Japanese Prime Minister’s lap, there are a million ways to fail. Failure is cumulative. Failure is contagious. In short, failure fails.

Unfortunately, I’d say odds are far more than even that we’re well on the way to another failure.

And, it will no doubt be one huge MoFo.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

Carly Fiorina vs Barbara Boxer Debate: Live Coverage and Analysis

Moraga, California is the scene the first U.S. Senate debate between Carly Fiorina and Barbara Boxer. The one hour debate begins at 7 PM Pacific and will be aired live in every media market in California and nationally on C-SPAN.

The stakes are high, according to the two most recent public polls, Senator Boxer is either winning by five points or losing by five points.

The focus tonight should be on jobs. In fact, it would make sense for the debate to only focus on jobs and leave everything else for other debates. California is in a serious jobs crisis. Today's July numbers, showed that 12 of the 17 metro areas with unemployment over 15% are in California. The metro area with highest unemployment is in California, scoring over 30%. When it comes to voting this fall, Californians especially need to know where the candidates stand on jobs.

Tune in via KTVU or C-SPAN.

NOTE: A quick follow-up on the Barbara Boxer money-bomb that Jerome pushed. Not only did Boxer's campaign clear their goal of 10,000 donations today, but they're currently at 11,152 contributions.

There's more...

Previewing Senate Elections: California, Section 2

This is the last part of a series of posts analyzing competitive Senate elections in blue states. It is the second section of two posts focusing on the greatest state in the union (otherwise known as California). The first part of the series can be found here.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Suburban SoCal

Southern California (SoCal, in short) is where the battle for California will be won or lost. Ms. Fiorina must accomplish two tasks in the region.

First, she must clean the clock in the suburban counties outside Los Angeles. It is in places like Orange County, San Diego, and the Inland Empire that the votes to counter the Democratic bases in the Bay Area can be found. In the 2008 presidential election, there were one million more votes cast in the six SoCal counties above (excluding Los Angeles) than in the entire Bay Area.

This task is not too difficult. Unlike liberal NorCal, the suburbs in this region are more like the rest of the United States in their political leanings; in fact, they are probably more conservative than the median. Orange County and San Diego County are nationally known as conservative bastions (although they are not as red as in the past). Ms. Fioina probably needs to win above 60% of the vote in both counties. Historically, Republicans have often done this. The trouble is with Los Angeles.

Los Angeles

Ms. Fiorina’s second task is to run closely in Los Angeles. It is here that Republicans face their greatest challenge. Los Angeles – sprawled, extremely populous, and arguably more diverse than even the Bay Area – constitutes a Democratic stronghold. President Barack Obama ran off with 69.2% of the vote here; Senator John Kerry took 63.1%. Ms. Fiorina must reduce this Democratic margin to within the single-digits.

Link to Map of Los Angeles, 2008 Presidential Election

The math here is simple.  There are just not enough Republican votes in Central Valley, the Orange County-San Diego metropolis, and the Inland Empire to offset the Democratic bastions of the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Republicans must therefore break one of the two strongholds. It is impossible to do this in the Bay. So the choice must be Los Angeles.

The key are the outer, wealthier suburbs within Los Angeles county. Some are liberal Hollywood areas, typified by Congressman Henry Waxman’s 30th congressional district. Republicans probably cannot win these. Others are more conservative and even voted for Senator John McCain (see, for instance, the patches of red north of Pomona and south of Redondo Beach). Ms. Fiorina will have to expand upon this core and win places like the San Fernando Valley and Pasadena – suburbs which rarely vote Republican.

Conclusion

When the voting booths close and the precinct results start pouring in, look at Los Angeles County. Ms. Fiorina’s performance there will be most indicative of her overall strength. If Democrats are winning the county by double-digits, then she is in trouble. Conversely, if their margin is less than five percent – or if Republicans are winning the county – then Republicans are in good shape. A Democratic margin between five and ten percent signifies that a long night is ahead.

On a state-level basis, modeling a close Republican victory is somewhat difficult; Republican candidates haven’t won a close race for a long time in California. There is, however, a substitute that fits well:

Link to Map of California, Proposition 8

These are the results of the famous Proposition 8, which passed by a 4.5% margin. On a county-by-county basis, a Fiorina victory will probably look quite similar to this. There are minor differences; the margins in Orange and San Diego Counties would probably be greater; Republicans probably wouldn’t win Los Angeles County.

Overall, however, the picture would not be too different. Heavy margins from the SoCal suburbs and Central Valley counter Democratic strength in NorCal, while a strong Republican performance in Los Angeles dilutes Democratic margins there.

There is one final complication for Republicans. California constitutes the most diverse state in the country; winning minorities is a must. The Republican Party is not very good at this, which why California is a blue state today. It must change this, if candidates like Ms. Fiorina are to win the state.

Some minorities are easier to win than others. Blacks are most loyal to the Democratic Party, but they number only 6.2% of the state’s population. While more numerous Asians and Latinos do not vote their numbers (their share in the voting electorate is slightly more than half their share of the overall population), their votes are easier to get.

Here Proposition 8 is less useful as a guide. In Los Angeles County, for instance, all of South Central voted for the proposition. Unless Republicans start winning Compton and Watts, they will have to find support from a different section of California’s majority-minorities.

Winning minorities constitutes a novel challenge to the Republican Party; until now it has drawn an ever-increasing percentage of the white vote to offset increasing numbers of minorities. This is no longer possible in places like California. If Republican candidates like Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman are to win the state, they will need to envision a new strategy.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

Previewing Senate Elections: California, Section 1

This is the third part of a series of posts analyzing competitive Senate elections in blue states. It will focus on California. Because California is such a big and complicated state, it will have two sections – of which this is the first. The second part can be found here.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

California, Section 1

In the greatest state of the union, a fierce senatorial battle is brewing. Former HP executive Carly Fiorina is mounting a tough challenge to incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer. In an anti-Democratic national environment, polls show the race close and competitive. This post will examine the obstacles Ms. Fiorina will face as she seeks to overcome California’s formidable Democratic geography.

Link to Map of California, 2008 Presidential Election

As America’s most populous state, California contains a number of distinct regions. This post, and the one following, will examine each.

Upper California and the Sierra Nevada

When people think of California, the northern forests and year-round snow of the Sierra Nevada generally do not come into mind. These regions, geographically expansive yet thinly populated, tend to vote loyally Republican (although until the 1970s Democrats had a base of support in several northeastern counties).

Not all of this region is Republican-voting, unpopulated wilderness. Exurban Placer County, for instance, contained 173,812 voters in 2008. Other parts – especially the liberal coast – tend to vote Democratic, eating in to Republican strength.

Ms. Fiorina will probably need something like 70% of the vote in places like Placer County to win. Strong margins from this Republican stronghold constitute the first, easiest step to a Republican victory.

The Bay Area

In many ways, the Bay Area is what makes California a blue state. Without the Bay Area, for instance, President George W. Bush would – almost – have won California in 2004, losing by a mere 0.7%.

Link to Picture of Bay Area, 2004 Presidential Election

 Unfortunately for Republicans, the Bay Area – one of the richest, most diverse, and most liberal places in the country – does indeed exist, and it votes strongly Democratic. A popular attack against Senator Boxer is to call her a San Francisco liberal; this generally works less well in San Francisco.

In addition, voting habits in the Bay Area tend to be “sticky.” If the rest of California moves ten points more Republican, the Bay Area will tend to move only five points right. San Francisco and Alameda counties are sometimes the last two counties standing during Republican landslides.

There is a glimmer of hope for Republicans, however. The counties surrounding San Francisco and Berkeley tend to be one degree less intense in their liberalism. Ms. Fiorina will not win them, but a well-run campaign can reduce Democratic margins somewhat.

Central Valley

Home to some of the richest farmland in America, the counties composing Central Valley once leaned Democratic but now vote Republican in all but Democratic landslides. Conservative and heavily populated – although not by California standards – Central Valley provides somewhat of a reservoir to offset the enormous Democratic margins radiating from the Bay Area.

There is, however, one important exception: Sacramento, a populous county whose Democratic leanings deny Republicans a vast store of potential votes.

In the long run, Central Valley is a ticking time bomb. Democratic-voting Latinos compose 30-50% of the population in many of these counties, and their numbers will only increase. For now Ms. Fiorina is safe – Latinos do not vote their numbers, especially in mid-terms – but future Republicans cannot take Central Valley for granted.

The Challenge of Southern California

It is in the urban sprawl of SoCal, however, where Republicans face their greatest challenge. Ms. Fiorina has two tasks here. The first is to win the counties outside Los Angeles, and win them big. The second is to keep Los Angeles itself within single digits.

The next post will expand upon SoCal and offer a conclusion on Republican prospects of winning California.

 

 

Western state Republicans in complete meltdown

Colorado. Idaho. Nevada. California. From crazy to corrupt to down in the polls, the Republican Party is imploding all over the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

Let’s start with Colorado. You already know about sexist Senate candidate Ken Buck and the gubernatorial primary between plagiarist Scott McInnis and finance cheat Dan Maes. Both stories have new developments. Buck was caught yet again making stupid comments on tape, referring to birthers as “dumbasses”. He was obviously right and I’m with him every step of the way, but it still won’t help him in a GOP primary. But it’s the governor’s race where we really get to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Former Repub Congressman and presidential candidate Tom Trancedo jumped in the race for governor this week as an independent. He he was interviewed yesterday alongside state Repub chair Dick Wadhams on Peter Boyles’ radio show. The interview quickly escalated into a public screaming match, and if you’ve got twenty minutes you really should listen. It’s  just plain fun. The interview starts about ten minutes into the clip with Tancredo being a rude jerk, but by the end Wadhams is making unreasonable demands and calling both Tancredo and Boyles liars. The two men said that Wadhams has told them he dislikes both McInnis and Maes, so not only is the public meltdown fun, it also reveals new party rifts. All of a sudden this Senate seat and this statehouse don't seem to be in nearly as much trouble for Democrats as they were.

If Colorado Repubs feel lonely, all they have to do is look northwest to my neck of the woods, Idaho. I’ve already told you about the state GOP convention, which passed a resolution stating all Repub lawmakers must sign a loyalty oath to try and repeal direct election of senators. That same post also described Sarah Palin’s birthplace in Bonner County, where Repubs are protesting the local fair’s use of the word “fiesta.” The crazy gets worse with ID-01 nominee Raul Labrador, who called for repeal of the 17th amendment before the state GOP did, says our energy policy should be “increasing the production of fossil fuels,” and, like the Colorado GOP and the man he beat in the primary, is a plagiarist. This is an +18 district where McCain won by 25 points – and yet Labrador can’t so much as win the support of the NRCC, the Tea Party Express or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Small wonder the endangered first-term Democrat Walt Minnick has a 16-1 advantage in cash-on-hand and national pundits are moving the race from “toss-up” to “leans Democratic.”

But what happens at the federal level is a symptom of what happens at the local level, and state Rep. Phil Hart of Athol, here in Kootenai County, is our own little Charlie Rangel. Hart is under investigation by the state House ethics committee for tax issues. He’s been late on paying county taxes for 8 years in a row, but the county should consider itself lucky – he owes nearly $700,000 in unpaid federal and state taxes. The man’s not just a tax cheat, either – he’s a thief. The liens include $13,014 in unpaid federal withholding taxes at his engineering firm. In other words, he took his employees’ tax money but kept it for himself rather than turning it over to the government. And the best part? He sits on the House subcommittee that affects issues like his but insists there’s no conflict of interest. Hart and the Idaho GOP are a bigger joke than the name of the town he represents – Athol. But not to worry, he says; the citizens of Idaho are better off for his crimes. “I think it makes you a better legislator, to have these life experiences.”

And of course, you already know about Nevada and the crazy that is Sharron Angle. After a series of missteps – defending BP, calling for the repeal of Medicare and Social Security – she is starting to face criticism from within her own party.

"Sharron's first six weeks have been atrocious," said Danny Tarkanian, who was defeated in Nevada's GOP Senate primary. "I think she would admit to that."…

Before endorsing Angle in her election fight, former Nevada Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich warned the Tea Party darling, "You're scaring the bejesus out of everybody."

Republican Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, who backed Angle's GOP primary opponent, Sue Lowden, settled on endorsing Reid in the state's general election match-up. "Our state [would] suffer and we would never get anything done," Cashell said of the prospect of Angle being elected.

If California Republicans were hoping that maybe the San Gabriels would insulate them from the mountain west, they’re going to be very disappointed. Despite a new ad-buy from the NRSC, a new PPP poll shows that Democrat Barbara Boxer finally has a comfortable lead over the Palin-endorsed Carly Fiorina in CA-Sen at 49-40. Boxer hasn’t been up by this much since May. (The poll also found that 19% of voters have a higher opinion of Boxer’s hair and 14% have a higher opinion of Fiorina’s hair. 67% are not sure.)

This sure is a good month to be a western Democrat. Whoa, I feel good… I knew that I would now… so good… so good…

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