Archive for November, 2012

A Glimmer of Hope?

I think there may actually be some hope for our country. My general feeling this election season was that no matter who won, we were getting a rotten deal at best. Most everyone seems to agree that we’re choosing between bad and worse. To be honest, now that President Obama is reelected, I actually feel a little bit of relief. I mean, at least we know what we’re going to be dealing with for the next four years. There’s no more sense in gridlock, if there ever was any sense in it to begin with.

Today I am watching a recording of a Google webcast on developing a ‘mobile strategy’ for websites, and a statistic was thrown out there that interested me. The mobile web is developing eight times faster than the traditional internet has. The time of day that people are using the web via mobile devices the most is before and after regular work hours. Now a lot of people of course use their mobile devices to watch mindless videos and practice drawing stick figures for their friends to guess words, but the other reason ordinary people use their smartphones is to look up information. They are trying to find out where things are, identify what song they just heard, answer a question, and even get the news. As GPS technology has been paired with cellular devices, people are actually learning to follow maps and directions.

Now, the blindly following of GPS directions could be sowing the seeds for a dismal side-effect of blind following in other areas, but some are getting in the habit of researching their own information. Many companies are turning their support department into community based forums, where users are expected to search for their question before even asking. People aren’t necessarily searching for the truth about what their elected officials are doing and how they are voting, but they are becoming accustomed to receiving information and doing something with it on a regular basis. There is also this growing general consensus that our government has grown larger than it ought to be and people expect cuts to be made.

We may not agree on what programs and departments should be cut, but at least we seem to agree that something must be cut in order to stop going into debt. Although nothing has been done about it as yet, politicians are forced to at least say they will try to balance the budget. That means the people are expecting them to do some work, and that is at least a start.

In Oklahoma, our government is starting to practice asserting its sovereignty in the face of the Affordable Healthcare Act. The state has refused to establish a state-run healthcare exchange, and also refused to comply with the mandate to increase Medicaid eligibility to those whose income is at 133% of the poverty level or below. We have passed a “10th Amendment Resolution,” basically affirming our state’s intention to defy the federal government when necessary.

Colorado and Washington have passed laws legalizing marijuana, which is definitely illegal according to federal law. Whatever your opinion about whether the plant should be legal, this is still another example of the people, through their states, saying “No” to the federal government. The federal government isn’t used to states telling it no since the 1860s, so it will be interesting to see how some of these current battles play out.

I realize most are not optimistic that our current President and Congress will actually accomplish any good, but we should all focus on what victories we did have this year and work to win more in the future. Liberty is popular.

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Oklahoma Waits on Healthcare Nullification Decision

Governor of the State of Oklahoma

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R)

Oklahoma continues to wait on hearing a decision regarding healthcare nullification in the state. Governor Mary Fallin was expected to make a statement Friday regarding Oklahoma’s decision on whether or not to establish a healthcare exchange, as required by the Affordable Healthcare Act. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services has extended the deadline for states to declare whether they intend to set up an exchange to December 14.

Tulsa World Newspaper reported that the Governor’s office has received more than 1,000 phone calls regarding the issue, and that most of the callers were against setting up an exchange.

Some states have already announced their decisions to not participate in the government healthcare reform often referred to as “Obamacare,” including Texas, which has refused to accept any federal funds, set up a healthcare exchange, or expand its Medicaid program. A healthcare exchange is essentially an online marketplace where insurance buyers can shop and compare plans, including the government plan. Florida has even returned money it had previously accepted when Rick Scott became the state’s governor. At least six states in total have specifically nullified the Affordable Healthcare Act with legislation, while others have simply not set up a state exchange.

In Oklahoma, however, despite a majority of the state’s residents opposing compliance with the new healthcare laws, Republican Governor Fallin had accepted the federal funds originally, but was forced to return the money when the state legislature did not create the legal structure for the state exchange.

Regardless of which way the decision goes, it will have to be made by the 14th of December in order to comply with the federal deadline, unless the deadline is extended again. Oklahomans may call the Governor’s office to state their position on the matter at 405-521-2342.

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Romney-Ryan Fiscal Plan Deconstructed

Now that the election is over, it’s  time to get working again on our nation’s problems. President Obama and Mitt Romney sure did a lot of talking about what was wrong with the other guy, but neither has really explained how they want to fix anything. Neither Romney nor Obama presented a reasonable (much less tangible) game plan for how our deficit and debt will be tackled. Instead, only generalities have been suggested.

Republicans needed to portray an image of financial responsibility this year, as the economy has remained such a big part of our national discussion. When it became clear by primary results that Mitt Romney would become the eventual nominee, his campaign quickly began to draw criticism from different factions within the GOP, namely the TEA Party and Ron Paul supporters. The Republican Party as a whole would need their vote come November, so the running mate pick became more important than usual. This scenario came up in 2008 as well, resulting in the pick of Sarah Palin as VP contender. (Which also, by the way, didn’t work.)

This brings me to what was basically the biggest specific problem I had with the Romney plan. Let’s take a look at what Mitt Romney actually said and put on his campaign website concerning what he wanted do as president for our fiscal problems. Read the rest of this entry »

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Day 2: Election Deconstruction

The rest of the week after every Election Day is a sort of mix of “what’s next” and “what went wrong” for those in the political world. The victors celebrate and announce what they will begin working on. The losers sit down and evaluate what went wrong as they count their losses. So naturally, this week, all the conservative (and liberal) talk shows are trying to explain why Mitt Romney, and the party as a whole, suffered tremendous losses this election cycle.

In all seriousness, it should have been a Grand Old Shoe-in for the GOP given how dismal our economy is and has been since President Obama took office. Republicans may have forgotten that this mess started during the Bush administration, and he was the first to perform both stimulus and bailout, both of which are heavily criticized by those on the right. That isn’t suggesting bailouts and stimulus bills are a good idea, by the way. However, Democrats appear to have forgotten altogether that we are in just about as poor shape today as we were four years ago.

By the way if you are curious about what makes a bailout or a Keynesian stimulus such a bad (and ineffective) thing, Tom Woods has some excellent material on the subject. He explains things in ways that make a lot of things easy to understand.

The Search for (Republican) Meaning

Boy, oh boy, you would think this would not be so difficult. I’m not talking about all the ins and outs of microdemographics, but it should not be this hard to figure out why former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lost this election.

Here’s a question for you. If the primary process is supposed to pick the best candidate of those running, why would someone who LOST his last primary to a man who ultimately LOST to President Obama seem like a good choice to run against him the second time? Has anyone even thought about that? Romney lost to the guy who lost to Obama, but Romney was supposed to defeat Obama?

This is not a “bash Romney” or “blame Romney” post, but there are some serious problems with what the Republicans put forth as their candidate this year and it needs to be addressed or the party will keep seeing mediocre election results.

Neither Romney nor Obama has yet presented a reasonable, much less tangible game plan for how our deficit and debt will be tackled. Only generalities have been suggested, but let’s take a look at what Mitt Romney actually said and put on his campaign website.

Romney repeated in his last debate that he planned to cut 5% “across the board.” Sounds great, oh, except that he clarified the 5% is non-security discretionary spending. I did the math a couple of months ago, and that amounts to a whopping $20 billion dollar spending cut. By the way, this was his position prior to choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate. And wasn’t everyone so excited about that because of Ryan’s budget? But in the last debate Romney wasn’t indicating he planned to go that route.

In fact, I will dedicate an entire post to this topic later, just to prove it’s important to do your research before you call someone a conservative.

The Breakdown

Each of the talk shows I have watched or listened to have had different opinions of why the GOP lost, but none of them (at least none of the conservatives) seem to be considering whether this was due to the quality of the GOP’s candidate. Almost like Karl Rove wouldn’t consider that Ohio might actually be going blue this election, even though the numbers kept coming in proving that.

Actually, Rove is the first person I want to address. He is now claiming that Romney would have won, had it not been for his lost momentum caused by Hurricane-turned-storm Sandy. To that, I say, if your candidate is so weak that a weather phenomenon causes them to lose, they didn’t really have that strong of a candidacy to begin with.

Glenn Beck still says Romney was the best candidate since Reagan. Ironically, that might actually be true when you think of names like Dole, McCain, and H. W. Bush losing to Bill Clinton. Romney did get closer to winning than John McCain. Beck, commenting that he had concerns about Romney from the beginning, said you just can’t know what anyone really stands for anymore. Well duh. Romney pretty much campaigned against his own record as governor of Massachusetts. The one thing he had going strongest for him was that he balanced the budget in his state, but his state had a balanced budget amendment, so there wasn’t really any other choice. Besides, lots of states have balanced budgets, including Oklahoma where I live.

Rush Limbaugh has managed to partially blame the loss on minority voters. He claims the Republican effort to reach Latinos, for example, was unsuccessful because their message was that you have to work. What is he saying, that all Latinos are lazy and voted Democrat because they don’t want to work? Surprisingly, Limbaugh did remind his audience why he thinks Republican strategists should stop focusing on electability and start focusing on what candidates actually stand for. He played back some audio from earlier this year where he talked about the primary contenders, except for one – Ron Paul. Didn’t even mention him.

Even my local afternoon talk host Lee Matthews, whom I listen to fairly regularly, blamed the results of Tuesday’s election on marijuana, my generation, and cell phones. Actually he blames it on the people in my generation who just “want stuff” and turned out in higher percentages to the polls Tuesday.

Now, I’m not saying that these guys are all wrong. They all are hitting factual points of the election. Latinos, women, youth, and other demographics all turned out higher numbers for Obama, but I have yet to see any significant evaluation of the reason for all this. It’s the candidate! Mitt Romney lost because of Mitt Romney. He didn’t lose because of Occupy Wall Street. He didn’t lose because of legalized marijuana. In Colorado, Obama won 50% of the vote, but the amendment legalizing recreational marijuana use won by almost a 10-point margin with 54-45% of the vote. That means a lot of people who voted FOR legalization also voted for Romney.

CORRECTION: Colorado’s presidential vote was split 51-46%. The 50% figure was from the national vote.

I am not saying that Mitt Romney would not have made a better president than the one we have. There are a lot of things I would like to have seen from a Romney administration, but the simple fact is he didn’t win it. And the only way the GOP can survive is to never put up a candidate like him for president ever again. They can try it again, who knows, the economy could continue a rocky path for a while, and maybe people will vote the other way. But more likely than not, another everything-to-everyone, for it before I was against it kind of candidate will send the Grand Old Party over to the sidelines. I’d go into details about what I personally think the Republican party needs to do, but that will only take me the next sixth months.

It’s time to get busy, and it’s time to work through our nation’s problems together. The election is over. Barack Obama is the President of the United States. And we have work to do.

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The Anatomy Of Election Coverage

I knew Tuesday night was going to be a nerve wracking evening for me, so like my usual self I avoided the gravity of the situation by choosing to analyze something. What can I say? It keeps me busy.

There were some key things I wanted to pay attention to in the coverage of the election on three networks in particular. CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. These networks have different target audiences, and each would tell a different tale of what was going on that night. Fox, of course wants to reach right wing conservatives, whereas MSNBC (and Maddow in all her wonder) are going for a much more diverse, liberal, and equally excited audience. I have found CNN to be more of a journalistic approach to current events, though it has its own form of bias as well.

Below, just for fun, is my analysis of a few aspects of the evening’s coverage, and an overall winner in broadcasting for the whole election day.

Fox

Fox, aiming to reach the most Republicans, covered many more Republican key races than the other two networks. They were watching closely the race between Todd Akin (R) and Claire McCaskill (D), to see whether Akin could get away with his outrageous remarks challenging the legitimacy of rape claims. Akin was called on by many conservative politicians and talk show hosts to remove himself from the race immediately after the controversial interview in which he made the remarks was released.

Another reason I was so excited to watch the news last night was because I knew as soon as it looked like one of the two candidates was losing, I wanted to switch to the respective news channel and watch whichever side freak out. Noble, I know. This turned out to be Fox, and I do say, that Charles Krauthamer looked like he was about to cry. And they just let him keep going on and on. Also, Karl Rove is a numbers genius, and it was very interesting to hear him give statistics and their significance. Too bad it didn’t work out for him so well, huh? I digress…

MSNBC

MSNBC. Precious home of Al Sharpton, Chris Matthews, and the for-some-reason irresistible Rachel Maddow. Hospital for liberals. If the president looked to be losing at any point, this would have become my camping ground for the evening, but most times I switched to the station during the evening they were broadcasting a watch party or victory speech. It was a nice angle to cover the election from, but just not one I was as interested in seeing. Also, it was humorous watching the Reverend Shaprton find examples of racism so easily.

The Winner: CNN

CNN is next, but it is also my “overall winner” of the evening coverage. I’ll explain why I feel they did best. First off, it was ridiculously difficult for me to keep track of the election itself on the other two channels. Fox and MSNBC were breaking to show interviews at polling locations and live feeds of watch parties, but CNN tended to stay focused on the overall picture much more than they did.

It was easiest to know where the presidential race stood watching CNN, because they had the numbers prominently displayed throughout coverage and immediately broke the results as soon as states’ polls closed. Not that the other stations did not get to the results. Fox, for example might have finished a thought or conversation, whereas CNN interrupted mid-sentence to break to the results all nicely displayed on their cool TV screens. Also Wolf Blitzer and John King had some kind of magic in their connection. I know this might have been hard to watch for Romney supporters, but you’ve got to admit if you watched it that they were on their game. Did I mention that Election Day is like political Christmas?

CNN also beat the other networks in actual viewers, and was the only cable network to exceed the viewership CBS news.

My Postmortem Of The Outcome

All in all, I am pretty disappointed about the results, but not as much about the presidency as you might think. I was focused on a number of statewide races (in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and even Michigan. Also Colorado and New Hampshire.), while the presidency was a sort of equally important event. Am I disappointed that Romney lost the election? Yes, I am, because I felt we had at least a shot at getting some sort of fiscal sense in the White House. But let’s be honest, neither President Obama nor his now former challenger had any real solution for fixing our spending problems. I will go into this more in my next piece (hopefully tomorrow!), but now is not the time to argue campaign plans. We have a real fiscal cliff that is coming and Congress now has to make some tough decisions. Like it or not, Barack Obama is the President of the United States for the next four years.

But tomorrow I feel it necessary to address why I feel the GOP and its talking heads are not admitting the reasons they lost this election. It is vital to the party’s survival that they do, so why do they choose to make excuses? You don’t want to miss tomorrow. 🙂

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Three Strikes

More on this later. So far its 3 for 3 on my local conservative talk station. Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh have all decided not to admit the possibility that Republicans lost yesterday because they didn’t have a good candidate.

As a Republican myself, I admit this. My state admitted this in the primary, as ours was won by Rick Santorum. But somehow, none of the so-called conservative talking heads seem to be able to figure out that putting yet another wishy-washy pseudo moderate  still isn’t working for the party.

I tend to think a true fiscal conservative (and not a VP candidate who voted for the bail outs but campaigned against them) would have had a better chance regardless of being liberal or conservative in other areas. I have so much that I want to let out – news coverage analysis, what went right/wrong, strategy for the future – but that will have to wait for tonight and the coming days.

Tonight: my analysis of the analyses of election coverage. It’s a 3-way race between CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. I will declare a winner.

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