The South Has Risen Again (and it’s Just as Ugly as the First Time Around)

Image result for confederacy

Yes, the new Confederacy has returned with Donald Trump leading the charge. Its not just the southern states this time. In 1850 much of the west was unincorporated territories. As rural states they appear to be on the Trump wagon and his particular brand of stoking xenophobic fears amongst white conservatives. Many pundits and countries (even China) have begun making comparisons to his rhetoric as fascist. Even Trump himself has invoked Benito Mussolini. Continue reading

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Vote Like You Mean It

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You Had Your Fling With the Black Guy, Now Grow Up

Remember this ad from the Republican National Committee? ‘It’s Okay to Make a Change’. There is an underlying racist message within this ad that somewhat insidious. It basically says, “He tried (the President), you tried. It’s okay to make a change”.

The implication is that the President has been a failure and those of us who voted for him in 2008 made a mistake for voting for him. We are forgiven. It’s not a new message. The Republicans have been trying to paint the president as an ineffectual Jimmy Carter leader from the outset. It’s a strategy that has worked well previously. Carter was not actually a bad president, but perception is everything and the Republicans have shown through people like Karl Rove and Frank Luntz that they are the masters of creating perception whether the perception is accurate or not.

The attempt to negatively define President Obama is in the language that Republicans use and they are all on message. They either get the message through internal memos or from the ignoble and for all practical purposes, head of the Republican party, blowhard and bullhorn Rush Limbaugh.

In reality, President Obama has been one of the more effective leaders this nation has had since Lyndon Johnson. In an excellent article at the Washington Monthly, Paul Glastris writes:

Measured in sheer legislative tonnage, what Obama got done in his first two years is stunning. Health care reform. The takeover and turnaround of the auto industry. The biggest economic stimulus in history. Sweeping new regulations of Wall Street. A tough new set of consumer protections on the credit card industry. A vast expansion of national service. Net neutrality. The greatest increase in wilderness protection in fifteen years. A revolutionary reform to student aid. Signing the New START treaty with Russia. The ending of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

And all of this in the face of Republican obstructionism and not to mention getting us out of two wars and killing Osama bin Laden. Wikipedia has a compendium of notable presidential scholars and media experts, a series of polls taken amongst academics since 1948. Obama comes in at #14 While George W. Bush comes in at #34 out of 43 (technically we’ve had 44 presidents since Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms as the 22nd and 24th President). One could make the argument that President Obama should be exempt from this poll since he still has time left in office for that rating to change and historians often let a little time pass before rendering judgement.

Of course the whole point is moot since the President is going to serve a second term. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Republicans continue tarnish the President’s image for the rest of the term.

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Vice President Joe Biden finally said it, albeit politely, when he called out Paul Ryan on his less than accurate statements.

“We Irish call it malarkey.”

Interestingly, the etymology of the word malarkey is unknown. It’s thought to be someone’s name. It showed up in the early 1920’s as meaning untruthful, to obscure or mislead but the word hasn’t been used much since the term ‘bullshit’ came into fashion. So Biden’s assertion that it is an Irish term is as likely as any.


Maybe it’s time for ‘Malarkey’ to make a comeback. Ever since Republican Representative Joe Wilson yelled “you lie!” at the President during a state of the union address back in 2009 it’s been open season for disrespect on Capitol Hill. But the term ‘liar’ isn’t something that’s bandied about carelessly. Calling someone a liar tends to shut down the conversation rather quickly. It’s the Godwin’s law equivalent of yelling ‘Hitler’ in a chat room. It’s an accusation that one is intentionally misleading others rather than just misstating facts without malice.

But how else to accuse someone that they are actually lying? Continue reading

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Go Ahead and Get Wonky. We’ll Wait

Vice President Joe Biden and candidate Rep. Paul Ryan

It’s been a week since the first presidential debate and President Obama’s somewhat lackluster performance. Now it’s time for the clash of the number twos. Tomorrow night in Dannville, Kentucky Vice President Joe Biden and VP candidate Paul Ryan square off for the only Vice Presidential debate.

In the past, there generally hasn’t been a great deal of interest in Vice Presidential debates but following Mitt Romney‘s hard tack to the center last week that knocked the President off his game one wonders if Ryan will attempt a similar dodge as Romney.

This election’s debate promises to be one of the most watched VP debates ever. And it will probably be one of the more important ones as well. Previous debates have not really influenced the outcomes of elections but the President’s poll numbers took a dip immediately following the debate last week. Currently the consensus is the President and Governor Romney are tied.  Continue reading

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Can You Tell Me How to Get to Deficit Street?

Big Bird drops in on Weekend Update

Of course one of the most memorable lines to come out of the Presidential debate was Mitt Romney’s assertion that one of the ways (in fact the only one he has actually articulated) in which he would offset the costs of his proposed 20% across the board tax cut was to quit subsidizing Public Broadcasting. It didn’t hurt that PBS’ Jim Lehrer was the moderator. Romney said to Lehrer:

“I’m sorry Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I like PBS, I actually love Big Bird. I like you too, but I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”

Gliding right past the glaring China inaccuracy, The annual budget for Public Broadcasting is one tenth of one percent of the total budget. That’s not likely to make a big dent. Continue reading

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Romney / Ryan 2012…Really?

Here’s a budget that screws the middle class

The president was half joking when he compared Mitt Romney to the reverse Robin Hood but truthfully Romney has selected his Sheriff of Nottingham. It should come as no surprise that Mitt Romney chose the Representative from Wisconsin Paul Ryan as his running mate for Vice President. Well, actually, it is a bit of a surprise. Most people thought Romney would choose somebody safe from a swing state. Most thought it would be Rob Portman from Ohio. Ohio is generally thought to be the tipping point state; the state that will likely determine the outcome of the presidential race. 538Refugees has long held that it would be Marco Rubio from Florida.

Why Paul Ryan? Perhaps the Romney camp sought to capitalize on the unsuccessful recall of Governor Scott Walker from last year. Maybe they think Wisconsin is a swing state despite conventional wisdom and polling to the contrary. Maybe they just want another pretty face on the ticket (no offense to Portman).

But maybe, just maybe, Paul Ryan is the perfect fit for Mitt Romney. Continue reading

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Yachtboating; the New Swiftboating?

John Kerry and his swift boat crew

In the 2004 Presidential campaign the political gloves came off, so to speak, when a group of Vietnam War veterans was enlisted by a Republican special interest group (known as a 527 or the equivalent of today’s SuperPac) released negative campaign ads calling into question the validity of John Kerry’s war record and his subsequent protest against the Vietnam war. They essentially painted Kerry’s service as dishonourable.

None of it was true, of course. Kerry served on river patrol in what was called a ‘swift boat’. And he served admirably going in to attack the enemy when called upon to do so. He was decorated for his service. But Kerry made one mistake in that he failed to defend himself from the attack ads. Whether he didn’t want to accuse fellow veterans of lying or whether he thought it was just an absurd issue that everyone would see through, it didn’t matter. Kerry failed to define himself and in doing so he allowed others to do it for him in the public’s eye. He was what is now called in modern political terms, ‘Swiftboated’ much to the chagrin of veterans who served during that period. And he lost the 2004 election possibly because of it.

Critics have begun to accuse the Obama campaign of doing the same thing to Mitt Romney over the questions about his years and service at Bain Capital. Some are calling it swift boating or ‘Swift-Baining’ or ‘Swiss Boating’ referring to Romney’s Swiss bank accounts. But is it really the same thing that happened to John Kerry? Continue reading

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We Are the Dog on Top of the Car


Some rather enterprising individuals have taken to following the Mitt Romney campaign bus around in A Cadillac Esplenade (in a nod towards Ann Romney) complete with sponsor stickers on the side and with one special feature: a fake dog strapped to the roof. It’s an hommage to Seamus, the late Irish Setter that belonged to the Romney family that Mitt put in a kennel and tied to the roof of the family station wagon for a twelve hour drive to Canada. The now infamous story that Romney originally intended as a humourous anecdote had the unintended consequence of sparking outrage among animal rights advocates.

When asked later if he regretted sharing the story Mitt responded that he probably wouldn’t have told the story because of the negative publicity. Not the welfare of Seamus, but how the publicity made Mitt look bad. This is just one of many examples that are indicative of how Mitt Romney would govern as President. Continue reading

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The Tipping Point in the Presidential Election is…Omaha?

An electric electoral conundrum in Omaha

It’s a tight race. President Obama has maintained the lead but surprisingly, for an incumbent, not by very much. Conservatives have wistfully hoped that there would be some watermark that would propel Mitt Romney into the lead but it has never materialized. In fact, it seems that every time Romney opens his mouth he does more damage to his campaign than any external criticism.

But most pollsters and our own Godparent site Five Thirty Eight at the New York Times list several states as swing states that Mitt Romney has to win in order to get to 270 electoral votes. Nate has calculated the ‘tipping point’ state or the state Romney must win in order to have a chance at victory. We here at 538Refugees have called Virginia as the tipping point state but as the race tightens before November that state could be Ohio.

Of course there are a number of potential outcomes that could play out including an electoral tie. For example if Mitt Romney wins Ohio and Michigan but not Iowa the electoral count would be 269 to 269. In the event of a tie the House of Representatives would call the winner as Aaron Burr found out in 1800 when the outgoing House voted Thomas Jefferson into office. For the sake of argument we’ll consider a tie a Romney victory based upon the make-up of the House of Representatives.

Underlying such a scenario is an oft overlooked electoral vote. Continue reading

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