Archive for Rant

Post Election Analysis: Colorado Midterms 2014

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It’s been a few days now since Election Day and ballots continued to be counted here in Colorado. The Democrats look to hold the Colorado House of Representatives by one seat. They had a nine seat majority last session and now barely hold on to power. And the Colorado Senate is still up in the air with ballots still being counted in Adams County. A very close and contentious 2014 Election on both the local and national levels. But as the expression goes, the local is global. The political trends that we see this election year on the local level bode as bellwethers for the nationwide political trends.

Obviously, it was not a good year for the Democrats. Yet, none of it was unexpected. The “Sixth Year Itch” prevailed in that the President’s party, the Democrats, were voted out of office in record amounts. The Senate flipped from being Democrat controlled, with Harry Reid as Majority Leader, to Republican control, with Mitch McConnell as presumed new Senate Majority Leader. The House of Representatives also picked up several seats. The total numbers: GOP picks up at least 7 seats in the Senate, and at least 14 seats in the House, give or take a few if the GOP takes a few additional races that continue to be up in the air while recounts, runoffs, and remaining ballots are counted.

Obviously, the main narrative in the media is that the GOP trounced the Dems. And they did. I will give them that. And they had an extremely savvy strategy, especially in the Cory Gardner/Mark Udall race. I believe that Gardner benefited from the Democrats war-on-women central focus setting a vulnerable Mark Udall up for failure. This is what angers me. That the Democrats bungled this one and were complacent about the focus on this issue. As a feminist, I agree that the GOP’s policies are not women-friendly. The legislation coming out of D.C. is not women-friendly. They can’t even pass an Equal Pay Act in D.C. Then there’s the terrible decision made by the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby Case. Between those and the Personhood legislation on state and national levels coming up every election cycle, and the “Forcible Rape” terminology in legislation, how are women supposed to believe that the GOP works for their interests at all? So the Democrats are correct to pursue this strategy. But it was not in their political interest to make it the center of Mark Udall’s campaign. Voters have a lot of anxiety right now about a lot of serious issues, and they have no confidence in Washington D.C. to address these issues. People are angry, and also checked out. And a wonderful Senator, one of the GOOD guys, Mark Udall pays the price. And opportunist and liar Cory Gardner is now a Senator.

The Colorado Independent has a great piece by writer Mike Littwin, in which he sums up the Colorado 2014 midterms in a nutshell stating: “The strangest thing is that Hickenlooper – who has spent so much time at the center of a gun-laws, sheriffs-pandering storm — is the Democrat who survives, and Udall, whose career has been basically storm-free, is the one who gets toppled.”

Such is the strange world of politics, where nothing is fair and anything can happen.

Some Comments on Chris Christie and “Bridge-Gate” and the Broomfield Fracking Drama Continues; 75 Uncounted Ballots Suddenly Surface

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Happy New Year from NEVER POLITICS!

 

2014 will be a year rich in political news. We have the upcoming midterm elections in November, with the potential for the GOP to win control of the Senate. (I hope not.) And the year started off with a roaring high-profile political scandal in the form of Chris Christie and “Bridge-Gate.” Only a few days ago I was saying to someone how Chris Christie is not presidential and that, if pitched against Hillary Clinton for the presidency, he will lose. Now with this Fort Lee traffic scandal, Chris Christie is being absolutely destroyed in the media. He looks like a bully. One must wonder if it hurts his political odds in 2016. It depends on the outcome of the pending investigations into Christie’s involvement into the traffic closures in New Jersey. If he is found to be lying about his role in this scandal, that could be the end to his presidential ambitions.

I kind of wonder if he got too complacent about his standing as a GOP “Golden Boy” and as a very popular governor, and thought he could get away with some malicious political hanky-panky. This hubris could prove fatal to his ambitions. But then, I must admit, I never found Chris Christie to be presidential. He has cost the state of New Jersey billions of dollars with some of his choices. How is that an example of sound Republican financial shrewdness? Puh-lease.

Here in Colorado, we have a political battle unfolding front and center: the Broomfield Fracking Ban Election Drama! A mysterious box containing 75 uncounted ballots miraculously and suddenly appeared! The box was reportedly found in Election Manager Michael Susek’s office. It is unclear why the box was never counted, or why it was never reported upon by the media in the wake of the mandatory recount that occurred in November of 2013. This thing just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Why won’t the courts and the oil companies just admit that the election is over, and that Broomfield banned fracking?

The media has not reported on the results of this box of uncounted ballots changing the results of the election, which banned fracking for 5 years in the county of Broomfield. This story is developing….stay tuned to NEVER POLITICS to stay up on the news in this debacle!

Breaking News: House Passes Deal to End Govt. Shutdown and Raise Debt Ceiling

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The House of Representatives finally just passed an 11th Hour Deal to end the federal government shutdown and to temporarily raise the debt ceiling until early 2014. They voted in favor of the bill 285 to 144. It is sad that we have to act like this is such an amazing deal, when it is Congress merely doing their job and also doing their job quite abysmally. They have essentially “kicked the can down the road” on the debt ceiling. Instead of allowing the debt ceiling issue to be resolved for the near future, there will be another mind-numbing, bruising fight on the debt ceiling in February 2014. But President Obama held firm on not caving on his signature law, his health care law. President Obama had the political capital to be able to protect the Affordable Care Act with his re-election victory in 2012 in which he campaigned on his signature law, and also because the Supreme Court held up the law. Hopefully the GOP realizes it is time to give up on trying to revoke the ACA.

During the protracted political battle of the last two weeks, the GOP often tried to defend their position to the media by spinning the whole “Obama-care is ruining our economy” angle. The GOP tried to spin it as positioning themselves as a white knight saving the beleaguered American public from the “devastating” effects of Obama-care. Oh, please. I am so sick of hearing this. It is a basic human right for people to have access to affordable healthcare. The fact that so many Americans are uninsured in the richest country in the world is a complete failure of our nation. We have to work to fix this for our people. So the Affordable Care Act is an attempt to try to right this wrong. And while there may be some short term economic pain for small business owners, I think that the corporations posting record profits could stop complaining about how “they can’t afford Obama-care.” I somehow think they can find the funds out of their record profits to help their workers get access to basic services. I am so tired of the way that Wall Street acts like the Affordable Care Act is the reason for a sluggish economy and tepid employment numbers. When they were the ones who are responsible for crashing our entire economy in 2008 and then blamed our President for the sluggish economy. Also, I think that when Americans get access to healthcare, productivity also increases, which increases profit for the business community. They should be doing everything in their power to get their own employees taken care of. Because it is also in their own interest.

The media has speculated endlessly about the political fallout implications of this over two week long spectacle of a government shutdown. But as Nate Silver said recently in an interview: “The media is probably overstating the magnitude of the shutdown’s political impact. Remember Syria? The fiscal cliff? Benghazi? The IRS scandal? The collapse of immigration reform? All of these were hyped as game-changing political moments by the news media, just as so many stories were during the election last year. In each case, the public’s interest quickly waned once the news cycle turned over to another story. Most political stories have a fairly short half-life and won’t turn out to be as consequential as they seem at the time.”

He has a valid point. Perhaps we cannot assume this particular government shutdown will have a sizable effect on the 2014 Midterm Elections or in the 2016 Presidential Race. But then, maybe it will. When certain voters don’t get a paycheck, they tend to remember that. And maybe voters will tire of brinksmanship as a style of governing? We can only hope.

 

 

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Day 15 of Government Shutdown

There’s no better time to enter the political blogosphere than during a government shutdown! Today is Day 15 of the Shutdown, and the deadline for the Debt Ceiling is coming up in a few days. Partisan gridlock in our nation’s capital has been conspicuously on display while America’s federal civil servants are on furlough. Washington D.C. has not been more mercilessly divided and hopelessly dysfunctional in recent memory. This seems like a good time as any to wade into the fray of American political discourse.

I am a political nerd, and have been since my early teens. As a progressive independent, I have never been one to register with a political party. And with political dysfunction in D.C. at an all time high, I must wonder aloud: Is the two-party system failing us as a nation? When partisan allegiances are placed above the needs of our nation, the status quo fails us. The polarization is only compounded by high-tech computer-generated gerrymandering, which has accelerated in use by both Republicans and Democrats. It seems to me that gerrymandering is the elephant in the room in American politics. It is always there but no one acknowledges it.

As districts are re-drawn to be hyper-partisan, U.S. Representatives belonging to either the G.O.P. or to the Democrats are beholden to their constituents in their Ruby Red or Cerulean Blue districts. When districts are redrawn by both political parties solely for the purpose of easily winning election or re-election, they don’t result in moderate governing or in political compromise across party lines. We see legions of moderate politicians being forced out of politics, whether it is through divisive primaries such as what happened to former Senator Richard “Dick” Lugar in Indiana, or the partisan gridlock in D.C. forces moderates out by causing them to simply quit, like long-time serving Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine. We see more and more minority “fringe” political views represented in Congress, such as the firebrand polemicist Ted Cruz. We see more inflammatory rhetoric and more brinksmanship. Every few months in Congress there is a new manufactured political crisis like a debt ceiling deadline or budget funding crisis, a byproduct of the “kicking the can down the road” style of “governing.” The frequency of these emergencies is indeed alarming. After the U.S.A.’s credit rating got downgraded a few years ago, you would think that our politicians would become savvy to the negative repercussions of brinkmanship. But it continues to be waged despite the apparent outrage and disgust of the American people. And our Congress continues to be unwilling to engage in compromise, moderate thought, dialogue, anything at all. Remember when pundits projected we could expect Immigration Reform to be finally tackled by Congress in October 2013? Oh, that’s funny. Instead Congress is posturing about whether to pay for the debt we have already incurred as a nation. That is not a good harbinger for the US, which has plenty of real problems and a complete lack of political will to solve these complicated public policy issues.

New York Times Political statistician wonder-kid Nate Silver has also noted why compromise is so difficult to come by, especially in the House of Representatives, stating that: “Individual members of Congress are responding fairly rationally to their incentives,” Silver wrote. “Most members of the House now come from hyper-partisan districts where they face essentially no threat of losing their seat to the other party. Instead, primary challenges, especially for Republicans, may be the more serious risk.” Or if they are the Speaker of the House, then they might be able to run unopposed. I am alluding to the 2012 re-election of John Boehner. One of the very  pillars of G.O.P. brand obstructionism, John Boehner ran for re-election in 2012 unopposed in his southern Ohio district. No Democrat would run against him in his district because gerrymandering has made it impossible for a Democrat to win there. Why would any reasonable candidate run in that district when statistically speaking the metrics ensure that it would be a costly landslide defeat? The vastness of this problem can’t be understated.

But the American people are clearly outraged and exhausted from the dysfunction in Washington D.C. But will our outrage translate into actual policy changes? That remains to be seen. I do hope against hope that the anger can translate into more interest and success in Third Parties. As an Independent voter in Colorado, a state that has a large population of Independent voters (33.92% of voters in Colorado), I hope that more Americans realize that they don’t have to be lemmings to party-lines when political parties no longer serve their interests. Wake up, America.