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Jill Silos-Rooney, Ph.D.

Jill\'s Liberal Politics Blog

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Obama Won Because the 47% Matters, Diversity Matters, Caring Matters

Wednesday November 7, 2012
President Obama won reelection for two resoundingly All-American reasons:
  • People matter. The 47% matters. The quality of their lives matters. Their opportunities to pursue life, liberty, and happiness matter.
  • The rich diversity of our great nation. Diversity of ethnicity, religion, gender, and yes, sexual orientation.

In Obama's famed 2004 speech which brought him to national attention, he boldly proclaimed his core values:

"There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there's the United States of America. The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too.

"We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we've got some gay friends in the Red States."

Last night, newly reelected President Obama expressed the same vision of equality he proclaimed in 2004:

"I believe we can keep the promise of our founding -- the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or where you love -- it doesn't matter whether you're black or white, or Hispanic or Asian, or Native American, or young or old, or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight -- you can make it here in America if you're willing to try.

"I believe we can seize this future together -- because we are not as divided as our politics suggest; we're not as cynical as the pundits believe; we are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions; and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America."

Republican Mitt Romney lost this election with his closed-door sneering to millionaires and billionaires, in which he cruelly stereotyped 47% of all Americans:

"... there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.

"These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. And he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that's what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people--I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

The contrast between Obama and Romney couldn't be starker: One cares about the lives of all Americans, and desperately desires to ensure that all are afforded equal opportunities to succeed. The other, in his seemingly most authentic campaign moment, cynically dismissed 148 million Americans as lazy moochers not worth his consideration.

It's no wonder that President Obama won:

The only two demographic groups that Mr. Romney won convincingly were white men and older white women. The Republican electoral problem is this: the United States in 2012 has continued to grow in diversity. Depending almost exclusively on the white vote is now a formula for failure in national elections.

In his first term, President Obama actively demonstrated concern for American lives with specific policies and stances, not merely pretty speeches, including:

  • Health care reform, which brings the U.S. in line with all other free countries by ensuring that every citizen has access to health care services.
  • Saving and supporting the auto industry, which employs tens of millions of hardworking Americans.
  • The DREAM Act for immigrant minors, on which Obama noted "...we should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents by denying them the chance to stay here and earn an education and contribute their talents to build the country where they've grown up."
  • Gay rights and same-gender marriage, including elimination of the military's ghastly "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.
  • Womens' health issues, including access to birth control, abortion, and funding for Planned Parenthood health care services.

As best as I can tell, Mitt Romney and the Republican party supported exactly none.... zero, nada, jack-squat... of the above policies that influence and change families and lives.

People matter. The 47% matters. The quality of their lives matters. Their opportunities to pursue life, liberty, and happiness matter.

Americans voted for Barack Obama because he cares about their lives, their families, their opportunities, their futures. Mitt Romney lost because he made sharply clear that he does not.

Hurricane Sandy: Romney, Ryan Policy Flaws, Uncaring Cheapness Revealed

Tuesday October 30, 2012
Federal policies matter in the lives of all Americans. That, and potential Supreme Court vacancies, are prime reasons why I voted early to reelect President Obama.

The devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy has brought into sharp focus the urgency of electing a president who stands firmly to protect middle-class and working class families, not just billionaires and millionaires.

In a nutshell, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his penny-pinching running mate Rep. Paul Ryan both have made very, very clear that they plan to:

  • Cut FEMA to the bone, by abdicating all responsibility to individual states. This cynical move would effectively eliminate emergency services in most states, which are already suffering mightily in fiscal matters.
  • Radically cut federal support for first responders, including fire fighters, police forces, and emergency responders.
  • Kill health care coverage for uninsured Americans who desperately seek medical services after catastrophes such as Hurricane Sandy.
  • Ignore climate change conditions, that most in the scientific community believe plays an major role in causing record-shattering natural disasters in recent years.

Who could possibly forget Mr. Romney's Republican convention speech when he sarcastically sneered at President Obama for his ambitious climate-change goals "to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet."

I heartily concur with Bill Clinton's comments today that "Maybe Mitt Romney shouldn't be making fun of global warming." Said the former President about Mitt Romney:

"... You remember what he did? He ridiculed the president. Ridiculed the president for his efforts to fight global warming in economically beneficial ways. He said, 'Oh, you're going to turn back the seas.'

"In my part of America, we would like it if someone could've done that yesterday. All up and down the East Coast, there are mayors, many of them Republicans, who are being told, 'You've got to move these houses back away from the ocean. You've got to lift them up. Climate change is going to raise the water levels on a permanent basis. If you want your town insured, you have to do this.' In the real world, Barack Obama's policies work better."

Federal policies matter in the lives of all Americans. Elections therefore greatly matter.

As hard as it is to believe, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan plan to strip away most policies that help American men, women, and children during life-threatening emergencies, including catastrophic natural disasters.

After the death and terrible destruction our nation just witnessed during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I honestly believe that the only credible presidential choice of ethical, clear-thinking Americans of goodwill is President Obama.

The uncaring, extremist alternative in 2012 is simply unthinkable for the future of America and Americans.

Romney's Binders of Women Reveal Dangerous Blind Spots

Thursday October 18, 2012
Mitt Romney's use of the shallow phrase "binders full of women" was unfortunate for him, but revealing for us, the U.S. electorate. It revealed a certain truth: that Gov. Romney was seeking token women for his administration. Period. Their main qualification would be gender, apparently to appease some public appearance quota. Precisely as is protocol for selecting blue-chip corporate boards of directors.

Had Mr. Romney uttered a more respectful phrase,... say, "binders of resumes from highly qualified women"... he would have reflected a more thoughtful mindset of seriously seeking out and giving voice to a group woefully underrepresented in his inner circle.

I find it disturbing enough that at age 56, after three decades in the highest echelons of American life, Mitt Romney knew of absolutely no qualified women with political aspirations.

That Mr. Romney's surrogates would select a handful of potential women candidates out of fat beauty-contest-like binders "full of women" based on God-only-knows-what criteria... well, it's condescending. Superficial. Treats women like a commodity to be acquired, not like important leaders who represent more than 50% of U.S. citizens.

Mr. Romney's quaint, 1950's-style callousness towards issues uniquely affecting women contrasts starkly with President Obama's innate understanding and support of women in 2012.

As a result, Mr. Romney's presidential chances should be hurt in certain battleground states, including:

  • Pennsylvania and North Carolina, both where women comprise a whopping 51.3% of state populations
  • Ohio, where women are 51.2% of the population
  • New Mexico, where women are 50.6% of the population
  • Iowa, where women are 50.5% of the population
  • Wisconsin, where women are 50.4% of the population

Hearing of Gov. Romney resorting to "binders full of women" to identify potential cabinet and judicial candidates from among more than 50% of the population causes me to wonder...

  • Did he also use binders to identify qualified Hispanics?
  • Qualified African-Americans? Asians?
  • Qualified gay Americans?
  • Were those binders also "full"?
  • Did he ignore those binders, concluding that their respective portions of the population were too small to warrant token representation?

There's nothing inherently wrong with a presidential candidate being surrounded with advisers of his or her choice, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

It's wrong and disrespectful, though, when a presidential candidate regards those unlike him as mere tokens, appointed to appease an "other" quota.

It's also wrong for the United States to elect as president a person who has no understanding of, curiosity about, or compassion for the majority of our country's richly diverse population. Who, instead, blithely stereotypes 47% of U.S. citizens as takers and moochers who are "unwilling to take responsibility for their lives."

Indeed, Mr. Romney's use of the phrase "binders full of women" was revealing for the American electorate. It revealed, once again, a presidential candidate with a dangerous blind spot of gigantic sinkhole proportions for the importance of anyone other than wealthy, white men, who are but a tiny minority sliver of the U.S. population in 2012.

Big Bird Matters: Obama Vulcan vs Romney Alpha-Man Debate

Thursday October 4, 2012
Call last night's political debacle in Denver the "Big Bird Debate," because the top trending Twitter terms for hours afterward were neither Romney nor Obama, but were PBS and Big Bird, Sesame Street's beloved, eight-foot yellow-feathered bird. And for very good reason.

(For those who didn't watch, Republican Romney proclaimed "I love Big Bird" while promising to pull the public-TV funding plug on Big Bird and friends.)

Frankly, given the performances by both Gov. Romney and President Obama, the post-debate Big Bird humor was, indeed, the highlight of the evening. Big Bird references were tweeted at an astonishing rate of 17,000 per minute and PBS at 10,000 tweets per minute, causing the debate to be the most tweeted U.S. political event. Ever.

This theatrical duel of wit-free words likely changed few minds, other than undecided white men. (Are there any left?) Mitt Romney was all anxious white alpha-male, reminiscent of when Al Gore took on George W. Bush in 2000: a controlling, interrupting, condescending, fact-spouting know-it-all, replete with weird, plastic smile.

One huge difference, though, between Mitt Romney in 2012 and Al Gore in 2000: Romney lied and grotesquely stretched shreds of truth. Over and over and over again. And Gov. Romney changed stances on nearly all political issues mentioned from his stated views on the campaign stump. Last night's Mitt Romney would never have won the Republican party presidential nod in 2012.

President Obama, though, persuaded no one to jump the Romney yacht for his ship. Seemingly smoldering with presidential resentment at Romney's verbal prods and pokes, Obama glared at his podium when not speaking in muted, professorial tones through gritted teeth.

To be fair to President Obama, remember that he was a mediocre debater (at best) in 2008. And as in 2008, Obama obviously continues to feel compelled to avoid the "Angry Black Man" image at all costs.

The Economist once described President Obama as retreating into a fair imitation of a Vulcan, odd Star Trek extraterrestrials "noted for their attempt to live by reason and logic with no interference from emotion." We saw Obama-Vulcan on the debate stage in Denver last night. And he likely neither hurt nor helped his 2012 presidential campaign. He was just odd.

Bottom line: The only issue of lasting voter resonance from last night's duel debate will be Big Bird. As my friend Kim Ruehl (About.com Guide to Folk Music) smartly stated at Facebook:

"I value Big Bird more than a big military. Which means I value children learning about cultural diversity more than children training for war. Period. End of story. If it comes down to cutting a program to serve what America should be, I'd say cut the war budget and invest in our children."

Pop culture matters, especially pop culture as deeply beloved as Sesame Street, a program that's spanned 43 seasons and is broadcast in more than 140 countries. That Mitt Romney wants to cut funding for Sesame Street, perhaps the most successful kids' TV program in world history, is the one debate takeaway that will be remembered by the very voters that Republicans desperately desire to reach: under-40 undecideds and those not plugged into politics.

The Twitter jokes about Big Bird, although absolutely hilarious (see below), also carry a serious cultural message that could prove lethal for Mr. Romney and the kill-joy Republicans who mainly advocate for more tax breaks for America's 1% wealthiest citizens: Mitt Romney cares so little about the 47%, he even wants to take Sesame Street away from our children!

I fully understand why last night's presidential debate was the most tweeted political event in U.S. history: Big Bird matters. And last night, Mitt Romney said he plans to terminate Big Bird.

    A Sampling of "Big Bird" Tweets from October 3, 2012
  • Romney: Soft on Wall Street, Hard on Sesame Street
  • Big Bird: Enemy of the American People
  • Occupy Sesame Street
  • Romney to Outsource Big Bird to India
  • Wait until Romney Hears about Bert and Ernie!
  • Big Bird Sandwiches Now Served at Chik-Fil-a
  • No More Government Dependency for Big Bird
  • "I love Big Bird. He is the right height."
  • "We need to see Big Bird's long-form birth certificate. Was he really born on Sesame Street?"
  • Join the Save Big Bird Campaign
  • RIP Big Bird, a Victim of Mitt Romney and Republican policies.

Democratic Convention Summary: A Powerful Case for Obama

Friday September 7, 2012
It's a great day to be a Democrat. And after the exuberant 2012 Democratic Convention that wowed the nation, I believe it's a great year to be part of the Democratic flock, who, indeed, are "Fired Up and Ready to Go!."

But just as important as passionate energy is the clear portrait Democrats painted of their agenda for our great nation. As the President stated in ending his smart, deeply patriotic speech:

"... we... believe in something called citizenship. Citizenship: a word at the very heart of our founding; a word at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations...

"America, we understand that this democracy is ours. We, the people, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which asks only 'what's in it for me,' a freedom without commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism is unworthy of our founding ideals and those who died in their defense...

"Yes, our road is longer, but we travel it together. We don't turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up... we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing... that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth."

The complete message of the 2012 Democratic Convention is found in consideration of the collective speeches delivered at the three-day liberal celebration. Highlights for me, other than the President's words, included:

    On Tuesday, Day One:
  • House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, who described how House Republicans have blocked President Obama at every turn
  • Rep. James Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat
  • Tammy Duckworth, Iraq War veteran and Congressional candidate
  • Two Democratic governors who delivered passionate stem-winders in defense of Obama, Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and former Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio
  • And, of course, First Lady Michelle Obama, whose remarkably strong, personal speech was a convention headliner. As she did again in this speech, Mrs. Obama often explains her husband's aspirations more fully than does the President.
    On Wednesday, Day Two:
  • Labor leader Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President, who made the case that Obama supports hard-working Americans
  • Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senate candidate in Massachusetts, who powerfully explained how "the system is rigged against" "hard-working people: people who get up early, stay up late, cook dinner and help out with homework; people who can be counted on to help their kids, their parents, their neighbors, and the lady down the street whose car broke down; people who work their hearts out..."
  • President Bill Clinton, who graciously and astutely made the case for reelecting President Obama. (I fully believe that Clinton would still be President, barring term limits. His charm remains infectious and contagious! Here's Clinton's 2008 convention speech: judge for yourself.)
    On Thursday, Day Three:
  • DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who teared up as she spoke of her breast cancer battle and the Affordable Care Act
  • Jennifer Granholm, former Michigan governor, who preached to the Democratic choir about Obama's tremendous support of the ailing auto industry. See photo, above right. (She had the best tagline of the convention about Romney: "The cars get the elevator, the workers get the shaft!")
  • Sen John Kerry, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair, who spelled out the convincing case for Obama's foreign policy accomplishments (Where was this John Kerry in 2004?)

I was encouraged by the deep bench of rising Democratic leaders, including Rep. Karen Bass, Rep. Judy Chu, and Rep. Xavier Becerra. Especially inspiring was the rich cadre of young, new Democratic leadership voices, including San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Congressional candidate Joseph Kennedy III, LGBT activist Zach Wahls, and College Democrats of America President Alejandra C. Salinas.

But I was personally most touched at understanding, again, that the Democratic Party is led jointly by both women and men, not mainly men. And in stark contrast to the Republican Party, Democrats care and take action about the issues that most concern women... health, education, communities, families, choice, and giving everyone a fair shot at the American Dream.

To me, this was gloriously personified when all twelve women Democratic U.S. Senators were recognized, and assembled on center stage on Day Two:

Objectively, I have no earthly idea why women would vote Republican in 2012, and not Democratic. In fact, I have no idea why every American wouldn't vote to reelect President Obama.

(Well, except for greedy, unpatriotic millionaires and billionaires. Please read or watch Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's superbly on-target speech: "Barack Obama is betting on the American worker. Mitt Romney is betting on a Bermuda shell corporation. Barack Obama saved the American auto industry. Mitt Romney saved on his taxes. Barack Obama is an economic patriot. Mitt Romney is an outsourcing pioneer.")

The 2012 Democratic convention is history now, friends, and it's up to us Democrats to get-out-the vote! The future of our great country, and of the middle class, depends on our effort.

Paul Ryan and Women, Hispanic, Senior Citizen Voters

Thursday August 16, 2012
Paul Ryan? Really? Revered Tea Party-darling Paul Ryan is Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney's choice to be a heartbeat away from being President of the United States?

Paul Ryan and Women Voters
Women comprise more than 50% of registered U.S. voters, and more than 50% in crucial battleground states:

Yet Paul Ryan is the Republican Vice President nominee? Rep. Ryan's 13-year Congressional record and public stances are profoundly anti-woman, including:

  • Ryan opposes abortion in all circumstances, including incest and rape.
  • Ryan voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which lowered barriers to discrimination in pay
  • Ryan supports legislation to outlaw some forms of birth control, including in-vitro fertilization methods

Who thinks this radically backward in the 21st century?

Paul Ryan and Senior Citizen Voters
Senior citizens comprise a very sizable portion of voters in a number of 2012 battleground states, especially:

Yet Paul Ryan is the Republican Vice President nominee? House Republican Budget Committee Chair Ryan's much-vaunted fiscal plan, The Path to Prosperity, ends the existing Medicare program. Instead, Ryan's plan leaves all U.S. senior citizens on their own to purchase medical insurance, and grants vouchers to offset only a portion of the cost.

Medicare provides health insurance to 39 million U.S. senior citizens each year, and is widely admired by Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike as a highly successful government program.

Paul Ryan and Hispanic Voters
Hispanic voters made the electoral difference in 2008 for Democrat Obama by turning four traditionally Republican-red states into Democratic blue. And in 2012, the fastest-growing U.S. voter group threatens to do it again in a handful of battleground states where Hispanics comprise a huge portion of the population:

Yet Paul Ryan is the Republican Vice President nominee? During his early Congressional years, Libertarian-leaning Republican Paul Ryan was a lukewarm supporter of pragmatic immigration reform.

Ryan, though, has evolved to now hold hard-line Republican party views on immigration issues that matter deeply to the Hispanic community. Explains Ezra Klein in the Washington Post:

"In late 2005, Ryan... voted for Rep. James Sensenbrenner's highly controversial bill that would have made illegal presence a criminal act (it's currently a civil offense) and turn smuggling and illegal entry offenses into aggravated felonies. In both the Bush and Obama years, he also repeatedly supported efforts to ramp up border security.

"Ryan has since turned against any pathway toward permanent legal status... Ryan has also voted against the DREAM Act to provide a legal pathway for illegal immigrant students, and he wants to implement a nationwide employment verification system to allow employers to check a potential worker's immigration status.

"That's been enough to persuade those who want to deter more immigration that Ryan is sufficiently hawkish on the issue... So there isn't much daylight between Ryan's current position on immigration and Romney's hardline stance."

Mitt Romney's candidacy has proven spectacularly unpopular with Hispanics, and Paul Ryan as his running mate won't improve Romney's faltering approval rate among those voters. Politico reported yesterday:

"What's clear is that Romney's lagging fortunes among Hispanics are unlikely to receive any boost from choosing a vice presidential candidate who has voted in Congress against the DREAM Act and supports overhauling entitlement programs that are extremely popular among Latino voters."

Why Paul Ryan?
I don't get it: why Paul Ryan?

Are these groups of American citizens so invisible to Republican leaders that don't believe they exist or matter? Or do they actually believe they can jerry-rig election laws to keep enough Obama voters away from the polls as means to jettison Republicans Romney and Ryan to the White House?

Either way, friends, we must energize to get-out-the-vote this fall. With his addition of Paul Ryan to the Republican presidential ticket, Mitt Romney has made quite clear that the goals, aspirations, and needs of women, senior citizens and Hispanics (as well as college students, African-Americans, labor union members, and so many other Americans) just do not matter to them. And will never matter in their Tea Party version of America.

Romney, Obama Ignore Terrorism Safety in Campaigns

Tuesday August 7, 2012
Two murderous mass shootings of Americans in the last few weeks, and yet, President Obama and Mitt Romney remain shamefully mum on our country's desperate need for commonsense gun control laws to protect citizens from terrorists.... supposedly a top priority of U.S. Homeland Security. Supposedly a top priority of both of their presidential campaigns.

The New York Times observed after the Colorado shooting massacre:

"At a moment when the country needs resolve and fearlessness to reduce the affliction of gun violence that kills more than 80 people a day, both presidential candidates have kicked away the opportunity for leadership. On Wednesday, reacting to the mass murder in Colorado last week, Mitt Romney and President Obama paid lip service to the problem but ducked when the chance arose to stand up for their former principles."

Why? Politics. Pure, self-interested politics. Of the 14 battleground states that will sway the 2012 election, 13 have gun ownership rates higher than 30% of their populations. And four of the crucial states... Wisconsin, North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa... have individual gun ownership rates higher than 40%. (See data at Gun Owners as a Percentage of Each State's Population.)

Romney and Obama dread uttering anything but bland platitudes, once maybe, before the election for fear of losing votes. Doing the right thing be damned...

Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, one of the few U.S. senators who openly champions stricter gun control and anti-violence laws, is refusing to pull his gun control amendment from the cybersecurity bill now under debate. The Huffington Post reports:

"'I'm not prepared to do that,' Lautenberg told The Huffington Post. 'We want to connect safety with reality. And the reality is that we lose more people every year to gun murder than we do in the military ... It is ridiculous.' Lautenberg said his amendment 'belongs in a security measure' like the cybersecurity bill and said he plans to keep pushing it until it gets heard on the Senate floor."

And Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, an author of the ten-year Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 that President Bush and Republicans allowed to expire, lamented last week in anSan Francisco Chronicle op-ed:

"We should be outraged by how easy it is for the perpetrators of these horrific crimes to purchase powerful weapons. As a nation, it's time we engage in a sane conversation about the proliferation of guns in our society.

"Let me be clear: If an individual wants to purchase a weapon for hunting or self-defense, I support that right. But a semiautomatic assault rifle with a 100-round ammo drum - or a handgun with a 30-round magazine like the one used to shoot former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona - has but one purpose: to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible.

"I challenge anyone who claims that prohibiting the purchase of military style assault weapons infringes on American freedoms. No sane person would argue that an individual should be free to own a nuclear weapon - we set limits and we abide by them. And we need to set limits on assault rifles."

Congressional Republicans and a few Democrats, though, are deeply indebted to donations from the National Rifle Association, and thus, routinely support the NRA agenda against all gun control laws. Congress has little political will to legislate gun ownership laws... to hell with public safety from terrorism.

But without presidential leadership, all anti-gun terrorism plans of Senators Lautenberg and Feinstein to safeguard the American public from gun violence will come to naught.

In the face of recent horrific tragedies from gun-related terrorism, I expected both President Obama and Mitt Romney to do the obviously right thing to protect our country: to stand-up and lead by taking real action, possibly jointly, in this tinderbox time of extraordinarily violent danger to Americans at work, at play, at worship.

I agree with the Times that both Obama and Romney have cowered from any hint of leadership in this terrible time of American pain and need for basic protection from terrorism.

Clearly, homeland security and keeping Americans safe in their homes and communities are not priorities of either the 2012 Democratic or Republican presidential contenders.

See Pros & Cons of Gun Ownership & Use Laws for Individuals for more information on the issue.

Romney Badly Underestimates Pull of Obamacare on Voters

Monday July 16, 2012
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will play a powerful role in deciding the presidential election. But not in ways that pundits and the press are predicting or apparently even detecting yet.

I believe that Republican Mitt Romney badly underestimates the growing pull of this burning issue to motiviate middle-class and working-class Americans to reelect Barack Obama to a second term.

Today in battleground state Ohio, a Cincinnati crowd erupted wildly, and spontaneously, when President Obama mentioned Obamacare.

In my own family, I was startled at the open elation of our GenX adult daughter and her husband, both political Independents, when the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare... at how relieved they were to know that, despite being small business owners, they would be guaranteed affordable health care coverage.

President Obama told the cheering campaign-stump crowd today that he likes the moniker "Obamacare" for his signature legislation "... because I want people to know I care! And I do care."

In stark Ayn-Randian contrast, Mitt Romney sneered this moldy stereotype of uninsured Americans the day after his race-baiting speech at the NAACP convention:

"When I mentioned I am going to get rid of Obamacare they weren't happy... That's O.K, I want people to know what I stand for... I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy -- more free stuff."

"About 44 million people in this country have no health insurance, and another 38 million have inadequate health insurance. This means that nearly one-third of Americans face each day without the security of knowing that, if and when they need it, medical care is available to them and their families," per PBS.

Per mega-wealthy Mr. Romney, these 82 million American men, women and children are slackers, freeloaders, lazy miscreants who just "want more stuff from government, more free stuff."

I believe that Mr. Romney badly underestimates the power of this burning issue to motiviate middle-class and working-class Americans to reelect Barack Obama to a second term.

Nuns on a Bus: Protesting "Decreased Funding for Health Insurance"
One genial group that doesn't underestimate the importance of ObamaCare? A busload of Roman Catholic nuns who, remarkably, are traveling to battleground states Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan to spread their message protesting House Republicans' stingy budget.

The insistent Catholic sisters particularly object to "tax breaks to wealthy individuals and decreased funding for health insurance programs for low-income individuals " Said Sister Virginia Welsh of St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church, "I think a lot of times people aren't aware of particular items in the budget. This is making awareness in a novel way."

To underscore the importance of the nuns' message, a bipartisan coalition of women U.S. senators issued a resolution saluting "the Catholic Sisters' fulfillment of their vital missions to teach our children, care for the sick, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, lead major institutions, demand corporate responsibility and fight for policies that promote human dignity." U.S. Senate signers of this resolution include:

... and, of course, the distinguished Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Barbara Boxer from my home state of California.

Professor Sherry Glied of Columbia University commented to PBS:

"The people who are most at risk today are those who have no health insurance at all:
  • They're at risk of not getting regular care when they need it.
  • They're at risk of not catching real problems before they get serious enough to not be treatable.
  • They're at risk of not getting the best treatment when they actually do get sick.
  • And they're at tremendous financial risk.
They could lose everything that they've saved in their lives because of some even fairly minor health problem."

Indeed. Mitt Romney underestimates the growing powerful pull of Obamacare to drive desperate voters to the polls in support of the President.

I believe it could cost Mr. Romney the election.

Hispanics Favor Obama Over Romney, Will Likely Decide Election

Monday June 25, 2012
Hispanic citizens have never been more influential in American politics. In 2012, Hispanic voters are likely to decide the 2012 presidential election... that is, if they are energized to vote.

Today's Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's discriminatory, largely unconstitutional immigration law should be just the ticket to drive Hispanic voters to the polls in November. Explains the Wall Street Journal about the one element of Arizona's bigoted law not struck down by SCOTUS:

"... the court upheld for now the law's directive that state and local police check the immigration status of people they stop when they suspect them of lacking authorization to be in the U.S... The court left open the possibility that the surviving provision could be challenged depending on how it is applied. It acknowledged concerns that the provision could lead to abuses, such as prolonged detention of arrestees while their status was being checked."

The surviving provision ensures that Arizona authorities will continue racial profiling of Hispanics. It also forces all Hispanics in the state, even those born in America, to carry extensive ID at all times, or risk deportation. Such measures are required of no other ethnic groups in the United States.

For the past decade, Hispanics have been the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. Per the 2010 Census, Hispanics comprise a politically powerful percentage of many of the fourteen 2012 battleground states, including:

  • Nevada - 26.5% of Nevada population
  • Colorado - 20.7% of Colorado population
  • Florida - 22.5% of Florida population
  • New Mexico - 46.3% of New Mexico population

Two other battleground states... Virginia and North Carolina... have experienced very rapid growth of Hispanic populations.

And with today's SCOTUS ruling, Democrat's fondest political dreams for the Southwestern U.S. may come to fruitition: traditionally Republican red-state Arizona may turn Democratic blue in November, due to its burgeoning Hispanic population. Hispanics now comprise almost 30% of all Arizona state residents.

To further motivate Hispanic voters to actively support his reelection bid, President Obama signed an Executive Order last week temporarily implementing portions of the DREAM Act. The President's order will halt for two years deportation of about 800,000 to 1 million Hispanics under age 30 who are either attending college or working, who have no criminal records, and who meet certain other criteria.

Hispanic-Americans have long advocated for the DREAM Act, and were frustrated with President Obama when Congress narrowly failed to pass DREAM Act legislation in December 2010.

To the delight of the White House, "... more than eight in 10 Latinos approved of the president's action, most of them strongly," per a Gallup/USA Today poll released today.

In contrast, Mitt Romney, who campaigned for the Republican party presidential nomination by opposing the DREAM Act and advocating for "self-deportation" of 12 million undocumented workers and their families, has done little to reach-out effectively to the concerns of Hispanic-Americans. In fact, Gov. Romney's staunchest immigration-related stance, to date, has been to advocate for a border fence to be built along the entirety of the U.S.-Mexico border... a policy abhorrent to the Hispanic community.

In the 2008 election, Barack Obama was victorious because he won the Hispanic vote in four states that historically had voted Republican in presidential races.

In 2012, Hispanic voters are again likely to decide the 2012 presidential election... and it appears that President Obama is again their overwhelming choice. Understandably so.

Recommended Reading
Washington Post: A big win for the Obama administration by Eugene Robinson
ABC News: Obama hails Supreme Court ruling on Arizona immigration law
CNN: Supreme Court mostly rejects Arizona immigration law

Democrats Could Hold Senate in 2012. Narrowly. Maybe.

Thursday June 7, 2012
Predicting whether or not Democrats will retain control of the U.S. Senate after 2012 elections, five months before Election Day, is akin to accurately forecasting stock market movements: impossible, even for the most inside of insiders.

Remarkably, Democrats have held control of the U.S. Senate for the last three consecutive sessions, from 2007 through 2012. For nearly three decades, neither party has been elected to lead the Senate for four straight sessions.

Democrats, though, have a decent chance to do just that in the 113th Congress: maintain majority-party status with a margin likely as narrow as the eye-of-a-needle... but they'll need luck, savvy, and at least some prevailing political winds at their backs.

As of mid-2012, seven 2012 Senate elections are rated "Toss-Ups," including five seats held by Democrats and two by Republicans in the 112th Congress. And, in my view, a half-dozen or so more races are nearly as unpredictable as the dead-heats. If Democrats lose a net of four 2012 races, they will lose control of the Senate in the 113th Congress.

Judge for yourself. At 2012 Senate Elections - Who's Winning, Who's Losing, I've pulled together a summary of all 33 U.S. Senate races on a state-by-state basis. And each Senate race synopsis is linked to an article exploring the facts, candidates, analysis, factors, and various predictions.

The seven 2012 U.S. Senate races presently rated "Toss-Ups" are:

  • Florida, which pits incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson against one of several well-known Republicans
  • Massachusetts, probably the most-watched 2012 Senate race, with Republican freshman Sen. Scott Brown opposed by Harvard professor and progressive favorite Elizabeth Warren
  • Missouri, where incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill faces an uphill battle to retain her seat
  • Montana, where Republicans are pouring millions into defeating incumbent Democrat Sen. Jon Tester, a farmer by trade. Tester's opponent, a staunch social conservative, is ranked the 14th richest member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Nevada, where Republican appointee Sen. Dean Heller must draw votes from the Silver State's large Hispanic population, now 26% of all state residents.
  • Virginia, where former DNC Chair and former governor Tim Kaine will likely face another former governor, George "Macaca" Allen, who famously lost his 2006 senatorial run by less than 10,000 votes (out of 2.4 million).
  • Wisconsin, where... well, you know. Electoral chaos reigns lately in the Badger State. On August 14, 2012, Two Democrats and four Republicans will compete in primary elections, and absolutely anything can happen.

Take a gander, and give me your thoughts: will Democrats hold the Senate in the 2012 elections, or will we be treated (subjected!) to Republican rule in the 113th U.S. Senate?

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