I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.
Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.
I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences."Gabrielle Giffords, “A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip,” New York Times (powerful words from someone who knows a thing or two about politics and (tragically) gun violence)
Coming from an immigrant family of Polish Jews with peasant origins, sheltered by decent, safe public housing (the Kingsborough Houses in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and the Pomonok Houses in Flushing, Queens), receiving great medical care when I needed it thanks to a generous society (and charity hospitals such as St. Giles the Cripple and St. Luke’s), educated by wonderful public schools, with a priceless, cost-free degree from Queens College, I have lived my entire life knowing that I owed somebody something.
And I fancied myself becoming somebody, and paying it forward. I taught in public schools. I helped start a business. (Yes, liberals can be job creators and believe in capitalism.) As a state senator and then a congressman, I’ve had the privilege of trying to do good things for people to whom I owe so much and can never fully repay. I’ve personally demanded that tyrants let their people go. I’ve tried to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, protect the elderly and infirm, and defend the needy from the aggressively greedy. I’ve led a blessed life. What a kick for a kid from the projects."Rep. Gary L. Ackerman, “My Last Day in Congress”, New York Times (more people like this in Congress, please)
Or maybe the solution is simply to give Texas and other secessionist-conservatives what they really want: free passage to the land of all their conservative fantasies. Send them all off with gratis one-way tickets (I’m happy to earmark some of my socialist tax dollars for the effort) to a country with: a small federal government with limited power and meager influence over the private lives of its citizens; extremely weak trade unions routinely sabotaged by the federal government (i.e., a “pro-business environment”); negligible income tax; few immigrants, legal or otherwise; a dominant Christian population, accounting for some 70 percent of the people; no mandatory health insurance or concept of universal health care; a strong social taboo surrounding homosexuality and a constitution that already states, “All individuals have the right to marry a person of their choice of the opposite sex”; and a gun culture so ubiquitous that you can find automatic weaponry displayed openly on the streets of its capital city and in many households.
Sound like a Texan secessionist’s dream? Well, it’s no dream. This country already exists. It’s called the Democratic Republic of the Congo."Chuck Thompson, “Go Ahead and Secede, Texas. I Dare You.”, The New Republic (have to admit, I didn’t see that last sentence coming - well done!)
ANA MARIE: Well, if all we get out of an Obama loss is a heart-wrenching new album from The National, at least I’ll be able to mourn to a good soundtrack.
JASON: SO TRUE.
ANA MARIE: Man, all the great work the despairing pro-Obama musicians could produce… versus, what, Kid Rock crying?
JASON: This campaign is basically BLOODBUZZ, OHIO.
ANA MARIE: “I still owe money to the money to the money I owe.”
JASON: I will be wearing my Bloodbuzz Ohio shirt on election night. There’s no better crash years anthem than that.
ANA MARIE: I do sort of love that The National campaigns for Obama, because their stuff really gets people hopeful, right?
JASON: Right! GET PUMPED, HERE’S THE NATIONAL!!!
ANA MARIE: They play music like he’s already lost.
JASON: They play music like everyone’s already lost.
ANA MARIE: I do love the massive “indie rockers for Obama” movement. Mac McCaughan is basically meeting with Axelrod daily at this point.
JASON: Sadly, I think Obama lost Conor Oberst. Though Oberst is kind of the Buzz Bissinger of indie rock.
ANA MARIE: “Horses and Bayonets” is a clear play for the Decemberists."my favorite election conversation yet, more here
Americans are a shrill, spiteful, ignorant people. Romney could shovel rural whites into soylent green factories (to boost exports) and most would agree with the hard logic of his decision and that it wouldn’t be necessary if the Mexicans hadn’t taken their jobs or the blacks wasted all their tax moneys on cadillacs and crack. Why shouldn’t Romney be the king of us all? We aren’t surprised watching Lord of the Rings that the Orcs are ruled by Sauron."
Another key reason why Republican voters see no problem with these laws is their big safety valve: if you don’t have an ID, well, then, be responsible and go get one!
If, however, Republican voters are generally unaware of the high frequency of minorities, the poor, and the elderly lacking IDs, they are blissfully ignorant of the real costs of getting an ID. Yes, the ID itself is free for the indigent (to comport with the 24th Amendment’s ban on poll taxes), but the documents one needs to get a photo ID aren’t, and the prices haven’t been reduced. Lost your naturalization certificate? That’ll be $345. Don’t have a birth certificate because you’re black and were born in the segregated south? You have to go to court.
Similarly, Republican voters — and perhaps most others — tend not to be aware of how hard it can be to get an ID if you live in a state where DMV offices are far away or where they simply aren’t open very often. One can only hope that would-be voters have access to a car or adequate public transportation, and a boss who won’t mind if they take several hours off work to go get their ID, particularly if they live in, say, the third of Texas counties that have no ID-issuing offices at all.
I doubt that most Republican voters know that some Republican officials are taking steps to make it even harder to get that ID. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, to take an example, signed a strict voter ID law and then made a move to start closing DMV offices in areas full of Democrats, while increasing office hours in areas full of Republicans — this in a state in which half of blacks and Hispanics are estimated to lack a driver’s license and a quarter of its DMV offices are open less than one day per month. (Sauk City’s is open a whopping four times a year.) Somehow I doubt that this is primarily about saving money."Jeremiah Goulka, “Of Republicans and Race Cards” (hard to believe this kind of crap can still get pulled; this is a big deal)
In what was easily the most dispiriting passage of all three debates so far, President Obama and Governor Romney vied to demonstrate which one of them was more committed to increased production of the fossil fuels that are currently choking the life out of the planet.
Romney accused the president of having “not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal”—the equivalent, to anyone who’s been paying attention, of accusing him of not being “Mr. Drought, Mr. Emphysema, Mr. Death.” Barack Obama responded by insisting that his administration was putting more money than ever into the most ridiculous shibboleth of all, “clean coal.”
This is what we’ve come to in twenty-first-century America: a studio and a television audience that sits passively by while both candidates swear their undying fealty to the most lethal fuel source of all time. A mineral that has killed countless millions engaged in its extraction, through cave-ins and black lung, and explosions, and sheer, back-breaking toil. A fuel that even in the best of times blackened our skies and shortened our lives.
But hey, a few, dying coal counties in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and maybe Colorado can still swing either way, so the fate of the world can be ignored for another four years. Never mind that the industry itself is molting jobs left and right, and compensating through the practice of simply slicing off mountain tops and hurling the debris into valleys and streams. Coal must be with us forever, and also oil, and all that natural gas, fracked out from around the shale with chemicals to poison our groundwater in perpetuity.
This is the worst nightmare of our democracy, pursuing a ruinous long-term course in favor of our immediate electoral needs and short-term economic improvement. This is the moment when a leader—a real leader—must be able to point out the peril to his people, and offer a real alternative."Kevin Baker, “The Right Time”, Harper’s (me and Steph were also talking about this during the debate last night, albeit not as eloquently)
But not even I expected Romney to let his entitled, Lord-of-the-Manor freak flag fly as proudly as he did on Tuesday night. He got in the president’s face. He got in Crowley’s face. That moment when he was hectoring the president about the president’s pension made him look like someone to whom the valet has brought the wrong Mercedes.
“You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking.”
Wow. To me, this was a revelatory, epochal moment. It was a look at the real Willard Romney, the Bain cutthroat who could get rich ruining lives and not lose a moment’s sleep. But those people are merely the anonymous Help. The guy he was speaking to on Tuesday night is a man of considerable international influence. Outside of street protestors, and that Iraqi guy who threw a shoe at George W. Bush, I have never seen a more lucid example of manifest public disrespect for a sitting president than the hair-curling contempt with which Romney invested those words. (I’ve certainly never seen one from another candidate.) He’s lucky Barack Obama prizes cool over everything else. LBJ would have taken out his heart with a pair of salad tongs and Harry Truman would have bitten off his nose."Charles P. Pierce for Esquire (very aptly put, Mr. Pierce, especially that last sentence)
But if you’re a Democrat who has affirmed that you’d never vote for an opponent of gay equality, or a torturer, or someone caught using racial slurs, how can you vote for the guy who orders drone strikes that kill hundreds of innocents and terrorizes thousands more — and who constantly hides the ugliest realities of his policy (while bragging about the terrorists it kills) so that Americans won’t even have all the information sufficient to debate the matter for themselves?
How can you vilify Romney as a heartless plutocrat unfit for the presidency, and then enthusiastically recommend a guy who held Bradley Manning in solitary and killed a 16-year-old American kid? If you’re a utilitarian who plans to vote for Obama, better to mournfully acknowledge that you regard him as the lesser of two evils, with all that phrase denotes."Conor Friedersdorf, “Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama”, The Atlantic (a completely valid argument - Obama’s (ab)use of drone warfare has rendered that Nobel Peace Prize patently absurd)