mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“The Politics Of Fear Comes With Fine Print”: If You’re Afraid Of Anything, Vote GOP, But Don’t Expect Us To Actually Do Anything

After a couple of Republican congressional candidates literally included ISIS propaganda excerpts in their anti-Democratic attack ads, the message of this year’s elections came into sharper focus. The GOP has effectively given up on running against “Obamacare” and unemployment – choosing instead to tell Americans there’s a monster under their beds and only Republicans can save them.

Last night in North Carolina, for example, Sen. Kay Hagan (D) debated her far-right challenger, state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), who focused the bulk of his attention on Islamic State terrorists and the Ebola virus.

Does Tillis have any background in national security? No. Has he presented new ideas on keeping the public safe? No. Does he have any expertise in infectious diseases? Of course not. Are there any instances in which Hagan has made a misstep on these issues? Not even one.

But Tillis gets the sense North Carolinians are feeling anxiety, and the Republican hopes he can exploit that angst for personal gain.

As Jeremy Peters reported, there’s a lot of this going around.

With four weeks to go, the election has taken a dark turn as conservatives use warnings about Islamic State militants, the Ebola virus and terrorist acts to send a message: The world is a scary place, and the Democrats can’t protect you.

Take a new Republican ad aimed at Representative Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona that warns of terrorists streaming across the Mexican border. “Evil forces around the world want to harm Americans every day,” it says. “Their entry into our country? Through Arizona’s backyard.”

Another one, against Senator Mark Udall in Colorado, plays a clip in which he says the Islamic State does not pose an imminent threat. “Really?” the announcer asks. “Can we take that chance?” An ad in another Arizona House race features the footage of the journalist James Foley right before his beheading.

There’s no denying the political potency of fear. Those who feel terrified are more easily manipulated, more likely to ignore reason, and more likely to show poor judgment. Those who otherwise have nothing worthwhile to offer the public often turn to demagoguery because it can be an effective substitute for substance.

But there’s one important flaw in the Politics of Fear, or at least the Republicans’ reliance on it.

The GOP pitch relates to government in a fairly obvious and direct way: your government, the argument goes, whatever its intentions, simply isn’t capable, competent, or prepared enough to keep you safe. Your family should therefore feel a sense of panic … and vote Republican.

Cooler heads might notice the flaw in the logic. An American in a constant state of fear about terrorism, diseases, the state of the Secret Service, migrant children, and creeping Sharia, might think twice about supporting the party that believes in slashing budgets, gutting the public sector, and generally avoiding governing whenever possible.

In other words, the Republican tack is burdened by an awkward contradiction: what Americans need is a strong, vibrant public sector prepared for every emergency, which is why Americans should vote for a party that wants to weaken and dismantle the public sector as quickly as possible.

Think of it this way: If Republicans could magically take control every federal office today, what exactly would they do differently than the Obama administration in, say, addressing Ebola? Privatize the CDC, cut taxes, and offer vouchers for protective gear? What would they do differently about ISIS? Continue the airstrikes President Obama launched back in early August – the ones Republicans don’t even feel like holding an authorization vote on?

The entire strategy is void of meaning and purpose if Republicans are pushing fear for the sake of fear – there’s still no agenda, no vision, no plans, and no ideas to serve as a foundation.

“If you’re afraid – of pretty much anything – vote GOP,” the message goes. “Just don’t expect us to actually do anything if we win.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 10, 2014

October 11, 2014 Posted by | GOP, National Security, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP Goons Suddenly Run Scared”: What Three Anti-Women Warriors Want To Hide

When we last checked in on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, he was playing down his problems with women voters and boasting of his strong support among men. Somebody must have read his poll numbers a little more closely, because on Tuesday Walker came out with an ad that brazenly lies about his stance on abortion.

The guy who signed anti-choice legislation mandating an ultrasound and sharply regulating clinics looked straight into a camera and said he did it “to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options.” That’s not all. Walker had the audacity to claim, “The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

But Walker wasn’t alone in trying to cut and run on his women’s rights stands this week. In Tuesday night debates, GOP Senate hopefuls Cory Gardner of Colorado and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, like Walker, shamelessly misrepresented their positions as well.

Gardner, Walker and Tillis tried to model three different approaches to hiding their awful records on women’s rights: the cool, the creepy and the clueless.

Gardner’s been the cool one. You’ll recall he decided he backs over the counter birth control pills, so they’re available for all you swingin’ ladies “round the clock” (though as I’ve observed before, birth control isn’t like Viagra or condoms, and picking up a last minute pack at the 24 hour Walgreens won’t prevent pregnancy.) Gardner did even better at his debate with Sen. Mark Udall, bragging that when television ads claimed he wanted to limit birth control, his wife said, “Didn’t you used to pick up my prescription?” Cool guy, always helping the ladies get it on.

Walker is just plain creepy. In his new ad, the dull-eyed governor looks into the camera and tries to feign concern for women who are seeking abortion. It’s a contrast with the way he glibly dismissed imposing the ultrasound requirement last year, telling reporters, “I don’t have any problem with ultrasound. I think most people think ultrasounds are just fine.”

Of course Walker’s not talking about a medically necessary, jelly-on-the-belly ultrasound that most people welcome to either diagnose disease or check on the health of a fetus. This is at best a coercive procedure and at worst, requires a transvaginal wand, in the case of early-term abortion. (Perhaps Walker should mandate that men seeking Viagra undergo a trans-urethral ultrasound.)

Then there’s clueless Thom Tillis, who presided over a radical retrenchment of women’s rights and voting rights in North Carolina’s GOP legislature. Now Tillis, like Gardner, is hyping his support for over-the-counter access to birth control pills and dissembling over his opposition to pay equity legislation. At their first debate, Tillis tried mansplaining the issue to Hagan, and that backfired. So on Tuesday he claimed he believed women deserved “the same pay as men,” but insisted “let’s enforce the laws on the books.” He called pay equity legislation a “campaign gimmick.”

Hagan shot back: “Speaker Tillis, I think you need to read reports. Women in North Carolina earn 82 cents on the dollar. I didn’t raise my two daughters to think they were worth 82 cents on the dollar.”

Gardner has also tried to back away from a personhood measure on the Colorado ballot, insisting he doesn’t support limits on contraception. Yet he’s still listed as a co-sponsor of House Personhood legislation. His explanation: It’s “simply a statement that I support life.” And he wouldn’t promise not to support Senate Personhood legislation if he defeats Udall.

It’s easy to see why Walker, Gardner and Tillis are trying to run from their records: They are being crushed by their opponents among women voters. But will it work? So far, Gardner’s contraception ads haven’t done the trick. “We’ve polled pretty extensively about whether people are persuaded by these ads, and Gardner has a problem,” a Democratic operative told Bloomberg’s Joshua Green. “The problem is that 40 percent of women don’t believe him.”

All three races are going to come down to turnout, and the men may yet pull it out, in a midterm year when Democrats are less likely to vote than Republicans. Still, the fact that all three feel they have to cover up their awful women’s rights records show they’re worried. But whether cool, creepy or clueless, these misleading last minute pitches aren’t likely to fool women.

 

By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, October 8, 2014

October 11, 2014 Posted by | Birth Control, Pay Equity, Women Voters | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Working Off The Same Script”: Why Can’t Republican Candidates Say Whether They Want Boots On The Ground?

It was a busy night on the campaign trail Tuesday, as candidates in several key races faced off in debates. Moderators frequently asked whether candidates thought President Obama should commit US ground troops to the fight against ISIS—and most Republican candidates dodged the question with notable clumsiness.

In North Carolina, which has the third-highest military population among US states, incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan is opposed to troops on the ground. In Tuesday’s debate, moderated by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, she noted the United States “has many domestic needs at home” and said Iraqi and Syrian soldiers should wage the fight. Then Stephanopoulos put the question to her opponent, Thom Tillis:

STEPHANOPOLOUS: When I was speaking to House Speaker John Boehner last week, he told me that if other nations don’t step forward, the United States would have no choice but to put boots on the ground. Do you agree?

TILLIS: I think one of the reasons that many nations are afraid to step forward is because this president is afraid to lead the world. Normally in crises like these, the president is considered to be the leader of the free world. He rallies nations together to put down terrorist threats like ISIS. But now our allies, our friends across the world, really don’t know where this president stands because he telegraphs his plan to our enemies, he gives strength to the terrorists by telling them what we’re not going to do. He should have everything on the table and he should build some credibility and Senator Hagan should be right there with him.

There’s a small glimmer of an answer in there; Tillis seemed to be suggesting it was best not to say one way or the other whether ground troops should go. Stephanopoulos did not follow up, but Hagan immediately noted that Tillis didn’t answer the question.

In Colorado’s Senate debate on Tuesday, Republican Representative Cory Gardner was directly asked to “describe the circumstances in which you would support American boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq,” and answered with a word salad of attacks on Udall and Obama’s foreign policy. (Democratic incumbent Mark Udall opposes troops on the ground.) Gardner’s answer in full:

GARDNER: Look, our foreign policy is in the situation it is today because of the failure of leadership at the White House. And the president has said his policies are going to be on the ballot this November. Mark Udall voted with those policies 99 percent of the time. The president said we have no strategy when it comes to dealing with ISIL. The president said they were junior varsity actors. The president said we will lead from behind, and that’s Mark Udall’s plan, too, because he agrees with him 99 percent of the time. We must make sure that we protect the safety and security of American families. That’s why I have supported efforts to make sure that we take out the terrorists. But Senator Udall believes the Islamic State is not an imminent threat to our nation. Senator Udall believes that they are not plotting against our country. We had people arrested at Denver International Airport for conspiring with the Islamic State. In Chicago for conspiring with the Islamic State. And Senator Udall doesn’t even show up at the Armed Services hearing when it talks about emerging threats. Senator Udall is absent.

In West Virginia, Democratic challenger Natalie Tennant has plainly said she opposes troops on the ground and, in Tuesday’s debate, reiterated her opposition and cited the pain of having sent her husband off to war. She did give a mini-evasion to the moderator’s question—he noted she opposed ground troops, but asked what future situation might justify them. That’s a tough hypothetical to answer, and Tennant basically said she would need more information.

When the moderator put the same question to the Republican candidate, Representative Shelley Moore Capito, she evaded the question of ground troops entirely:

CAPITO: The visuals of ISIS beheading two Americans and threatening to behead another, and British journalists and aid workers, is just jarring to all of us. I think that because of the president’s weak policies in Iraq, we find ourselves in a position where this terrorist group has been fomenting, raising money, raising membership. I find it frightening in terms of what could happen on our homeland. That has to be what you think about. There is nothing more valuable for us as Americans than our servicemen and women, and I appreciate [Tennant’s] husband’s service to our country. I take these decisions very seriously. I did vote to have the president train the Syrian rebels because I feel like we need a coalition of people that will stop the terrorist group from further growth.

In Georgia’s Senate debate on Tuesday night, the moderator repeatedly pressed Republican David Perdue on whether he wants ground troops in Iraq and Syria, and this is the closest Perdue came to an answer: “If we put boots on the ground, that better have a chance to win. Right now we don’t have that.” (I have no idea what that means.)

In Virginia’s Senate race last night, Republican Ed Gillespie said only that Obama should not have ruled out ground troops, and incumbent Senator Mark Warner agreed.

But in most races, Republican candidates are working off the same script: avoid calling for ground troops at all costs and simply step around the question. The similarly scripted attacks on Obama’s alleged incoherence on ISIS seem rather strange given that fairly massive dodge.

 

By: George Zornick, The Nation, October 8, 2014

October 9, 2014 Posted by | Boots On The Ground, Foreign Policy, Republicans | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“There Are Limits”: Yes, A Backlash To Conservative Extremism Is Possible

I think it’s safe to say that the single greatest source of frustration to progressives today is the relatively small price the Republican Party appears to be paying for the extremism that has gripped its ranks since (at least) 2009 (the second greatest source of frustration may be how Democrats have dealt with that phenomenon, but that’s a subject for another post). It seems that no matter what havoc the GOP has inflicted on the country before and during the administration of Barack Obama, the bulk of the blame will be assigned to the president and his party, rewarding the conservative wrecking crew for its irresponsibility.

But as Greg Sargent notes today, there are two places where Republican extremism is bearing surprisingly bitter fruit:

A new batch of NBC/Marist polls released over the weekend showed Democratic Senator Kay Hagan hanging on to a four point lead in North Carolina, while independent Greg Orman now leads incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts in Kansas by 10 points. The North Carolina finding is in sync with the average, while the Kansas one isn’t, though the Kansas average does show Orman leading.

It would have been awfully bold to predict six months ago that Republicans would be trailing in North Carolina and Kansas. But what’s notable here is that both these states are home to two of the nation’s leading experiments in conservative state-level governance.

Greg goes on to observe that Thom Tillis’ leadership role in what he himself proudly called a “conservative revolution” in state government is clearly an issue in the NC Senate campaign. And there’s little doubt that a revolt of moderate Republicans against KS Governor Sam Brownback has spilled over into the Senate race there, lifting independent Greg Orman into an otherwise inexplicable lead.

Suffice it to say it’s unusual for state-level politics to infect federal contests to this extent; usually it happens the other way around. But it should be a message to Republican pols, and to the right-wing oligarchs playing such a conspicuous role in these two states (the Koch Brothers in their native Kansas, and the most conspicuous Koch Lite, Art Pope, in NC) that there are limits to what they can inflict on subject populations.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 6, 2014

October 7, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP, Midterm Elections | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Republican Control Of Senate Not A Slam Dunk”: You Have The Power, Voting Will Matter This Year

There is something deeply satisfying about the troubles punditry is having in nailing down exactly what’s happening in the 2014 elections.

The careful statistical models keep gyrating on the question of whether Republicans will win control of the Senate this November. The prognosticators who rely on their reporting and their guts as well as the numbers are sometimes at odds with the statisticians.

The obvious reason for the uncertainty is that many of the key Senate races are still very close in the polls. This should encourage a degree of humility among those of us who love to offer opinions about politics. Humility is a useful virtue not always on display in our business. The unsettled nature of the election also sends a salutary signal to the electorate. As Howard Dean might put it: You have the power. Voting will matter this year.

It is not my habit to agree with Karl Rove, but he was on to something in his Wall Street Journal column last Thursday when he wrote that “each passing day provides evidence as to why a GOP Senate majority is still in doubt.”

Rove’s focus, not surprisingly, was on money. Democrats have been spending heavily to hang on to their majority, and he interpreted this as an imperative for Republican candidates and donors to “step up if they are to substantially reduce that gap.” In a parenthetical sentence, he disclosed his interest here: “I help American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS raise funds on a volunteer basis.” Rove’s professional history is in the direct mail business, and his column was a nicely crafted fundraising plea.

Rove acknowledged that the big-dollar Republican groups have yet to commit all the cash they have raised, so the TV advertising gap “is likely to shrink.” But the GOP’s real problem in closing the deal is about more than money. Spending doesn’t work unless candidates and parties have a case to make, and this gets to why we have yet to see either a clear trend or a dominant theme emerge in this campaign. Many swing voters may be in a mood to punish or put a check on President Obama. Yet Democrats might still hang on if voters decide that life and government will be no better with a legislative branch entirely under GOP control.

Underlying the Democrats’ argument that a Republican-led Senate will be no day at the beach is the fact that their conservative opponents are offering little of practical help to voters still unsettled by the economic downturn, and might make things worse.

Thus, even in conservative states, Democrats are zeroing in on Republican opposition to government programs aimed at solving particular problems. Their arguments and ads reflect a reality: Voters who might dislike government in the abstract often support the concrete things government can do.

In Kentucky, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes launched a Web ad on Friday criticizing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for leading a filibuster against Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s bill to bring down interest rates on student debt. “We want our students getting degrees, not debt,” Grimes says. Students are portrayed echoing the “degrees not debt” theme.

In Arkansas, Democrat Mark Pryor has run advertising built around the Ebola outbreak, criticizing his opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton, for being one of 29 House Republicans to vote in 2013 against a reauthorization of public health and emergency programs. Cotton’s campaign insisted that he voted later in favor of a subsequent version of the spending bill, but it’s striking that a conservative would be put on the defensive about opposing a spending program.

And in North Carolina, Sen. Kay Hagan used a debate earlier this month to launch a populist attack on state House Speaker Thom Tillis, her Republican foe, charging him with believing that “those who have the most should get the most help.” She has also denounced Tillis for blocking North Carolina from taking advantage of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. She pointed to health-care providers in the state who are “having unbelievable problems because of no Medicaid expansion.”

I’ll try to practice some of the humility I’m preaching by acknowledging that I have no idea whether Republicans will take the six seats they need to control the Senate. Maybe their incessant assaults on Obama will prove to be enough. But an election that once looked to be a Republican slam dunk has even Karl Rove worried, because many voters seem to want to do more with their ballots than just slap the president in the face.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, September 21, 2014

September 22, 2014 Posted by | Democrats, Midterm Elections, Senate | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: