Wisconsin as the preliminary bout

Today is a big day not only because of the Transit of Venus (see below) but because Wisconsin will vote on whether or not to recall Governor Scott Walker for curtailing collective bargaining for public employee unions.

All eyes will be on my former state because experts are seeing it as a preview of what might happen in the presidential election.  If voters decide to keep the Republican Walker, that might be a sign they will vote Republican in the presidential race.  That doesn’t happen very often in Wisconsin, but if they do, it may well be enough to tip the Electoral College  to Mitt Romney.

In Wisconsin recall, it’s TV ad spending vs. boots on the ground – The Washington Post.

What do things look like, Badgers?  When I lived there, things were peaceful and people were nice.  My impression is that union supporters are in a frenzy, but that such a public display of emotion is turning off other citizens of the badger state.  If Walker is kept in, does that really also mean a repudiation of Obama, who has campaigned hard to recall him in favor of Democratic candidate Tom Barrett, who won the primary though he as mayor of Milwaukee also  battled the unions?  Or do Wisconsin voters see these as two different things?

Obama the assassin

A withering piece from Charles Krauthhammer on the way President Obama wages the Drone War:

A very strange story, that 6,000-word front-page New York Times piece on how, every Tuesday, Barack Obama shuffles “baseball cards” with the pictures and bios of suspected terrorists from around the world and chooses who shall die by drone strike. He even reserves for himself the decision of whether to proceed when the probability of killing family members or bystanders is significant.

The article could have been titled “Barack Obama: Drone Warrior.” Great detail on how Obama personally runs the assassination campaign. On-the-record quotes from the highest officials. This was no leak. This was a White House press release.

Why? To portray Obama as tough guy. And why now? Because in crisis after recent crisis, Obama has looked particularly weak: standing helplessly by as thousands are massacred in Syria; being played by Iran in nuclear negotiations, now reeling with the collapse of the latest round in Baghdad; being treated with contempt by Vladimir Putin, who blocks any action on Syria or Iran and adds personal insult by standing up Obama at the latter’s G-8 and NATO summits.

The Obama camp thought that any political problem with foreign policy would be cured by the Osama bin Laden operation. But the administration’s attempt to politically exploit the raid’s one-year anniversary backfired, earning ridicule and condemnation for its crude appropriation of the heroic acts of others. . . .

The Osama-slayer card having been vastly overplayed, what to do? A new card: Obama, drone warrior, steely and solitary, delivering death with cool dispatch to the rest of the al-Qaeda depth chart.

So the peacemaker, Nobel laureate, nuclear disarmer, apologizer to the world for America having lost its moral way when it harshly interrogated the very people Obama now kills, has become — just in time for the 2012 campaign — Zeus the Avenger, smiting by lightning strike.

A rather strange ethics. You go around the world preening about how America has turned a new moral page by electing a president profoundly offended by George W. Bush’s belligerence and prisoner maltreatment, and now you’re ostentatiously telling the world that you personally play judge, jury and executioner to unseen combatants of your choosing and whatever innocents happen to be in their company.

This is not to argue against drone attacks. In principle, they are fully justified. No quarter need be given to terrorists who wear civilian clothes, hide among civilians and target civilians indiscriminately. But it is to question the moral amnesia of those whose delicate sensibilities were offended by the Bush methods that kept America safe for a decade — and who now embrace Obama’s campaign of assassination by remote control.

Moreover, there is an acute military problem. Dead terrorists can’t talk.

Drone attacks are cheap — which is good. But the path of least resistance has a cost. It yields no intelligence about terror networks or terror plans.

One capture could potentially make us safer than 10 killings. But because of the moral incoherence of Obama’s war on terror, there are practically no captures anymore. What would be the point? There’s nowhere for the CIA to interrogate. And what would they learn even if they did, Obama having decreed a new regime of kid-gloves, name-rank-and-serial-number interrogation?

This administration came out opposing military tribunals, wanting to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York, reading the Christmas Day bomber his Miranda rights and trying mightily (and unsuccessfully, there being — surprise! — no plausible alternative) to close Guantanamo. Yet alongside this exquisite delicacy about the rights of terrorists is the campaign to kill them in their beds.

You festoon your prisoners with rights — but you take no prisoners. The morality is perverse. Which is why the results are so mixed. We do kill terror operatives, an important part of the war on terror, but we gratuitously forfeit potentially life-saving intelligence.

But that will cost us later. For now, we are to bask in the moral seriousness and cool purpose of our drone warrior president.

via Barack Obama: Drone Warrior – The Washington Post.

Gendercide foes called racist against Asians

The bill to ban abortion for the purpose of sex-selection was defeated in the House of Representatives.  Because of a procedural move by Republicans (which tells me they weren’t serious about trying to pass it) the bill had to get 2/3 of the votes.

So guess how Democrats are spinning this?  Gender-selection abortions are  common in Asia, especially in China and India, where there is a strong cultural preference for boys over girls.  This is also happening with at least some Asian-Americans.  So Democrats are saying that the Republicans who favored the bill are racist against Asian-Americans!  Really!

Republican’s abortion bill risks alienating Asian Americans – The Washington Post.

What would Romney do?

In raising the question why both campaigns are ignoring Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts, Ezra Klein (a liberal) goes on to show how that record might not matter too much.  In doing so, he gives a succinct account of what both Romney and Congressional Republicans are planning to do should the election go their way:

In Massachusetts, Romney governed a blue electorate, and negotiated with a Democratic legislature. If he wins the presidency this fall, he will almost certainly be negotiating with a Republican House and Senate, which would be swept into office along with him.

We don’t have to pore over every decision Romney made in Massachusetts to discern what he would do in Washington if elected. Romney and the Republicans in Congress have explained exactly what they intend to accomplish — and their plans are remarkably in sync.

The budget prepared by Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, and the Romney campaign’s general-election platform look quite similar. Both would cut taxes while flattening the tax code. Their Medicare-reform plans look similar; Ryan even modified his original draft to make it look more like Romney’s, which allows seniors to choose between traditional fee-for-service Medicare and private options. Their plans to increase defense spending are alike, as are their plans to cut domestic spending and to turn Medicaid, food stamps and other safety-net programs over to the states.

Because it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which Romney is elected and Republicans don’t hold the House and win control of the Senate, Republicans wouldn’t be stymied by Democratic opposition. They would have the votes to pass their agenda. True, they won’t get a filibuster-proof majority of 60 in the upper chamber, but Ryan’s budget is, well, a budget, which means it could be passed through the budget reconciliation process — and couldn’t be filibustered. To enact a radical change of direction, Republicans need only a simple majority of votes.

via Why neither Obama nor Romney wants to talk about Romney’s record – The Washington Post.

What both parties don’t want to talk about

As the Mitt Romney campaign hails his business experience and as the Obama campaign demonizes it neither side wants to talk about what is surely Romney’s most pertinent qualification for the presidency; namely, being governor of Massachusetts.  Ezra Klein explains why both parties are avoiding that topic:

Why have we spent approximately no time talking about Romney’s governorship?

The answer, again, is that neither campaign really wants to. The Romney campaign wants to avoid it because Romney governed from the center in ways that could now alienate the right. In a Republican Party looking for a true conservative, Romney sees little but danger in his record. His signature legislative accomplishment was the forerunner to “Obamacare.” Meanwhile, his state ranked 47th in job creation during his term. (So much for the secret knowledge gleaned from Bain about how to create jobs.)

The Obama campaign doesn’t want to discuss it because Romney’s centrist record as governor might comfort independents, who otherwise may fear that Romney is a creature of the right. “I think people recognize that I’m not a partisan Republican, that I’m someone who is moderate, and that my views are progressive,” Romney said in 2002.

His health-care reform extended coverage to the uninsured, undercutting the image of a rapacious private-equity pirate. Although his state didn’t create many jobs, unemployment nevertheless fell from 5.6 percent to 4.7 percent while he was governor. In a country that’s looking for an alternative to Obama but is scared of the extremism of the modern right, the Obama camp doesn’t see much upside in emphasizing Romney’s moderate gubernatorial record.

via Why neither Obama nor Romney wants to talk about Romney’s record – The Washington Post.

So Romney is running to the right.  Which is exactly where Obama wants him!

The electoral math

It’s early in the head-to-head campaign, with some polls showing Romney ahead and others showing Obama.  The deciding factor, of course, is the electoral college.  It takes 270 to win.  According to this analysis in the Washington Post, Obama has 196 electoral votes tied up, with 41 leaning his way  (total=237).  Romney has 170 solid, with 21 leaning (total=191).  There are 110 electoral votes in play that could go for either candidate, which means that the election will be decided by nine states:  Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia.

Here is a likely scenario: Southern states break for Romney (Virginia 13, North Carolina 15, Florida 29;  Total: 248) as do the Western states (Nevada 6, Colorado 9; total: 263), and throw in New Hampshire (4; Total: 267).  The upper midwest states states go for Obama (Wisconsin 10, Iowa 6, Ohio 18, Pennsylvania 20;  Total: 291).  Obama wins.

Romney would have to get at least one of the upper midwest states, though the economically-depressed rustbelt tends to lurch to the Democrats.  Then again, rural Iowa would be enough to elect Romney.

Do you see any of these states going in a different-than-predicted direction?


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