Pre-election pandering in Ohio is out of control and just plain stupid

October 11, 2008

FROM JASON’S STATE — In Ohio right now, everything is politics.

Being a battleground state isn’t easy. Just ask the guy who was run off the road Wednesday on a highway near my house.

The man was forced off the pavement by a crazed Obama fan because he had a “Nobama” bumper sticker, according to a police report. It doesn’t help that the alleged offender appeared to be Arab and was screaming and throwing unidentified objects from his window.

Add to the problem crazy stumping by every imaginable political talking head as they criss-cross the state. In my job as a newspaper reporter this election season, I’ve written lots of stories about “star” visits to my 800,000-population (158,000 registered voters) area. Ohio has 20 Electoral College votes and is polling three points in the blue.

Newt Gingrich told me Democrats are bad at economics.

Adrian Fenty, mayor of Washington, D.C., told me they can rescue the economy.

Caroline Kennedy compared Barack Obama to her father.

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Academy Award-nominated actress Rosie Perez told me the large local Puerto Rican population could win Ohio for Obama.

Obama’s chief medical issues advisor, Dora Hughes, advocated universal health care, while U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) told me John McCain’s $5,000 tax credit will fix the health insurance crisis.

Hillary Clinton has spoken twice within eight miles of my humble abode. Obama has swung through once.

McCain and his lipstick-laden pit bull, Gov. Sarah Palin, town-halled it up this week just 10 miles southeast of me.

Gangs of roving voting registrars have been patrolling sidewalks every weekend for a month, trying to drive up participation on both sides of the fence. Obama’s student-heavy grassroots push was balanced by GOP blue hairs knocking door-to-door to encourage absentee balloting. All that madness ended Monday as the voter registration deadline passed.

Now we’ve entered the most wonderful phase of any dirty election: Sign-stealing. Those suckers have already started mysteriously disappearing from yards overnight. It’s been coupled in isolated cases (one of which I’ve seen documentation, the others rumored) with absentee voter card thefts from mailboxes.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten a few nasty calls from old white people today who are angry that local college students from out of state have been lining up for early balloting here. One woman told me it’s fraud for college students to vote, and they shouldn’t have representation no matter what taxes they pay.

She told me — in her most patriotic tone — that it doesn’t matter if the Supreme Court’s ruled in favor of a student’s right to vote in the state where he or she attends school. They’re “dirty little hippies supporting that black Obama,” and I’m biased to say otherwise, she told me.

Have you ever noticed that Republicans eagerly support wars to “defend our freedoms” but are equally eager to attempt to deny a woman’s freedom to choose, a gay person’s civil freedoms, a student’s freedom to vote, an immigrant’s freedom to come to America, a non-English-speaking person’s freedom to abstain from English, and a black person’s freedom to… um… be black?

That observation aside, I’m really starting to tire of all the “celebrity” political visits. Honestly, if you haven’t by this time researched and decided which presidential candidate to support, you should have “idiot” tattooed on your forehead.

With roughly three weeks to go, if you’re a so-called “undecided,” then you are probably either mentally challenged, criminally ignorant, the product of rampant Deliverance-style incest, have an advanced case of Alzheimer’s disease, or are suffering from cripplingly explosive amnesia.

If you are basing your presidential vote on television ad spots, what you heard from your brother-in-law, a gut feeling, the candidates’ favorite colors, looks, skin color, Fox News reports, or who has boobies, then you should be slapped with the moron stick and forced to wear a T-shirt that reads, “I am bad and should feel bad.”

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Forumites: Election ’08 for Morons #3

June 3, 2008

I’m rushing to get this post up for a couple of reasons. My original plan had been to let it go until tomorrow.

Now, though, it looks entirely possible that Barack Obama will reach a magical milestone tonight that could make the entire Democratic infight with Hillary Clinton moot. By midnight, CNN is reporting, Obama could have 2,118 superdelegates pledged to his nomination as the party’s candidate. Mathematically, that would eliminate Clinton from contention.

Clinton could be forced to concede the race, but told reporters about an hour ago that she won’t do so today. That means probably the biggest news of the year will break tomorrow.

Still, Clinton plans to speak in New York City tonight, and it will be interesting to see whether she turns a deaf ear to the speculation about the superdelegate squeeze, whether she’ll address them head on in her speech, or if she’ll actually do the smart thing and admit defeat gracefully instead of prologuing the inevitable for another full news cycle.

It’s the starting gun all the pundits have been straining to hear. If the votes fall as predicted, tonight could mark the beginning of the real presidential race between Obama and John McCain.

With that in mind, here’s Obama and his stances, taken quote for quote, in context, his real words:

Also, I’ve been itching to post a real blag entry here, instead of these comics I’ve been obsessed with. They’re fun, but there’s no substitute for substance over style. So I’m getting ready to review a few books I really love.


Forumites: Election ’08 for Morons #2

June 3, 2008

Sadly, Hillary Clinton has been judged during this election on her personality. Everyone I talk to goes the route of, “She’s such a bitch. I can’t imagine her being president.”

There’s something to be said for presidential dignity and reserve, but not at the cost of ignoring a candidate’s platform. I think a lot of die-hard righters would be surprised how conservative Clinton is on many issues — even those big social ones — even though she manages to stay extremely leftist on others. It surprised me to no end when she voted to support the gay marriage amendment. She’s also famously refused to apologize for her vote authorizing the Iraq War.

The result, I suppose, is that she has a wishy-washy, “I’m trying to appeal to every demographic” image, and it’s not doing her much good. She really wants to regain ground with that Protestant base playing the middle, and her values-based pandering to the middle class shows it.

As a note, I came within a hair’s-breadth of voting for Clinton in the primary, until about a five-hour research session (mostly at On The Issues) swayed me away from her platform.

Again, for clarification, all of the quotes are real. Nothing is made up. She said these things.


Forumites: Election ’08 for Morons #1

June 2, 2008

Too many of my politically unmotivated friends and family members still don’t know the difference between the 2008 presidential candidates. Oh, sure, they might be able to toss around the names, and some of them think Obama “sure is cute,” but that’s not enough.

So using my newfound fun over at Bitstrips.com, I decided to paint a picture (or WYSIWYG a comic) that quotes candidates on important issues. Slap them together in a few panels, and — ta-da! — you have an election summary that even an idiot could understand.

I’m going to make this as clear as possible: All of the quotes are real. There’s no out-of-context nonsense going on. John McCain, the venerated champion of the religious right, really did drop the GD when talking about the border fence. For the record, he and Clinton both have pretty flagrant mouths, even in public session.


Tonight I saw Caroline Kennedy endorse Barack Obama

February 28, 2008

kennedy01.pngFROM JASON’S CONTINUED LEFTWARD DRIFT — Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy, spoke tonight in my city.

She is stumping across Ohio for Barack Obama as the March 4 primary nears, saying Obama is the first candidate she’s ever seen who inspires people the way her father did.

“He’ll appeal to those around the world who still believe in the American ideal and are looking to America for the kind of leadership that we provided internationally when my father was president,” she said.

I was working my beat at the newspaper where I am a reporter, and had the opportunity to watch and analyze objectively from the back of the room. Kennedy did not say anything to sway me to Obama’s cause. Her 20-minute speech was more nostalgic jingoism directed at the already-converted than any kind of rational argument for Obama.

What did cause me to gain sympathy for his campaign were some of the attendees I interviewed after Kennedy’s speech. They didn’t say they have decided to support Obama because he is black, because he is the anti-Bush, because they have a gut feeling about him, or because he’s an elegant speaker.

Each and every one said they are marching in Obama’s line because of his platform — and they cited specific policies to back it up. One woman, a 39-year-old mother of a college freshman — said she is drawn to Obama’s promise of a $4,000 tax credit to make college more affordable. Another woman said his clear anti-war stance (and the fact that he did not cast a Senate vote to go to war, as did his opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton) is his strongest appeal. One man listed to me several NAFTA provisions that Obama wants to amend in order to secure open trade.

Trust me, that’s an unprecedented level of education to meet at a local political rally.

I’ve said previously that I am more supportive of Clinton in 2008 than Obama. I think I’m slowly giving ground, especially after the Cleveland State University debate Tuesday.

Click above for part 1 of 10 in the complete Democratic debate at CSU. 

Clinton did not perform well; she was combative while Obama was collected. She was smug where Obama was gracious. She was outclassed several times by his well-phrased quips, and when she danced around Tim Russert’s questions (especially the one about job creation shortfall in New York state), Obama handled them smoothly.

We’ll see how things progress between now and the Democratic National Convention in August.


Election 2008: Charles Barkley, you are America

February 17, 2008

FROM JASON’S POLITICAL SOAPBOX — Sir Charles Barkley is jump-fading away from the Republican party, and that’s worth 3 points.

A few years ago, Barkley drew double-D from liberal politicos for taking a very pro-Republican stance, but now The Round Mound of Rebound is changing teams — like so many other former conservatives — and endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for president.

Friday, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the Republican party is full of “fake Christians” who hypocritically judge the rest of America. He couldn’t be more right. That’s why so many, including myself, are turning from the Right and running full-steam this election season for the Left.

BARKLEY: “Hey, I live in Arizona. I have got great respect for Senator McCain. Great respect. But I don’t like the way the Republicans are taking this country. Every time I hear the word “conservative,” it makes me sick to my stomach, because they’re really just fake Christians, as I call them. That’s all they are. But I just — I’m going to vote Democratic no matter what.”

Later, clarifying what he means by “fake Christians”:

BARKLEY: Well, I think they — they want to be judge and jury. Like, I’m for gay marriage. It’s none of my business if gay people want to get married. I’m pro-choice. And I think these Christians — first of all, they’re supposed to be — they’re not supposed to judge other people. But they’re the most hypocritical judge of people we have in this country. And it bugs the hell out of me. They act like their Christians. And they’re not forgiving at all.

Disenfranchised Republicans, fed up with Bushism and the abandonment of praxeological economic conservatism, are turning to Clinton and Obama. I’ve been a Republican for years for practical reasons — the party has traditionally supported small-scale government, low taxation, balanced budgets, open markets, and individual freedoms.

No longer. In the past… um… eight or so years, the party has trampled on those ideals and bloated. Republicans have been disproportionately rocked by scandal. Republicans have made bad power plays. Republicans have waged a foolish and expensive two-front war, and above all, Republicans have made themselves publicly notorious for being anti-science, anti-rationalism (read: pro-religion), and anti-civil rights.

Intellectual Republicans are becoming intellectual Independents and turning to Democrats for help — because as long as both parties are levying huge taxes and pissing money away, you might as well endorse the one that won’t discriminate against the hungry, the poor, the gay, the non-believers, and the disabled.

I’m not endorsing Obama, here — I’m actually much more enamored with Sen. Hillary Clinton’s stances — but that’s hardly the point. When you look at the Democrats, you can’t help but be terrified of the Republican presidential candidates. And Barkley and the rest of America seem to agree.