All posts by kanelis2012

Election turns it all topsy-turvy

I’ve concluded that the 2012 presidential election is going to turn logic on its head.

What’s causing this electoral dizziness? I think the liars are on the verge of winning the crucial argument about the state of the economy.

It’s now known that Barack Obama came to office four years with an economy in free-fall. He and Congress instituted some measures to prevent the economy from bleeding out. Stimulus programs kicked lots of money into projects – and a good bit of that money came to the politically unfriendly Texas Panhandle. The government bailed out the auto industry, saving it from collapse. The feds instituted strict rules on banks and other mortgage lenders to ensure they didn’t throw money at any borrower who had his or her hand out.

What’s been the downside? Yes, the national debt is far greater than anyone would want. But the economy has been saved from self-immolation. The nation is in economic recovery right now.

But that’s not good enough, say the liars, who contend that the economy needs to grow faster. They ignore the obvious positive trends for their own gain. And it’s worked, to a degree. They’ve managed to turn what should be a rout for the incumbent president into a bona bide nail-biter.

I understand fully that many of my friends in the Panhandle – which probably will endorse Romney-Ryan by a greater margin than it supported John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008 – don’t see it that way. They are frustrated with the size of the debt; I share that concern. They believe America is in decline; I, however, do not. Many of them think the nation has been seized by some foreign ideology that wants to turn America into a sort of New World Europe. Me? I take the president at his word when he trumpets America’s greatness. My friends here also are experts on health care, as they know for a fact that Obamacare is going to bankrupt the nation. I’m not smart enough to make that determination, so I’ll just wait to see how it comes together when the law takes effect in 2014.

And the thing I understand the least is how Romney has managed to remake himself with so little concern being raised among those who want to elect him. He governed Massachusetts as a moderate, yet he proclaimed during the primary season he was a “severely conservative” governor. He was pro-choice, now he’s pro-life; he favored government-run health care, now he opposes it; he supported some restrictions on guns, now he opposes all restrictions.

Newt Gingrich, of all people, was right during the GOP primary campaign when he called Romney a liar. And Romney has lied himself into a photo finish for the White House.

See you at the polls.

Time to de-politicize public education

Is there a more political state in America than Texas? We elect everyone. We entrust all kinds of public policy decisions to politicians.

It’s not that politicians are inherently bad people. Some of my better friends are politicians.

But is it truly the right thing to have politicians deciding public education policy? I’ve long had this problem with asking politicians to perform the critical task of setting public education curriculum used to educate our children. Many of these individuals have zero experience as teachers or educational administrators. They all have opinions on what they believe is best for our kids and in recent years in Texas they’ve been fighting furiously among themselves over their philosophical differences.

The Texas State Board of Education comprises 15 individuals representing distinct districts around the state. District 15 includes a huge chunk of West Texas, including the Panhandle. The race this year is between Republican Marty Rowley of Amarillo and Democrat Steve Schafersman of Midland. And the contest is boiling down apparently to the men’s differences over whether to teach “intelligent design” in the classroom alongside the theory of evolution.

Here is where the politicization of the SBOE at times has gotten out of hand.

My concern about the SBOE is that it’s going to continue down that rocky path of argument and division among its members who, along the way, are going to lose sight of their fundamental mission, which is to educate children. Sure, these pols all say they put the kids first. But they demonstrate instead a desire to protect their own reputations. Which is why the sideshow politicization of the SBOE has at times overshadowed the panel’s critical function.

In the 1980s Texas experimented with an appointed SBOE, but then returned to the elected body. I always thought the appointed panel – which was a gubernatorial function – would have worked just fine if given enough time.

But instead we’re handing this SBOE job to politicians who see it as their duty to fight like the dickens among themselves. Other collective political bodies do that very thing as well. And the performances in recent years of the Texas Legislature and the U.S. Congress demonstrate the folly at times of putting a bunch of politicians together in the same room.

These numbers could determine election outcome

As the numbers-driven presidential campaign heads for the home stretch, one final big set of pre-vote statistics looms huge.

It will be the October jobs report, due out next Friday.

Analysts already are projecting a jobs boost of about 120,000 for the month; they add that they believe the unemployment rate will remain at 7.8 percent. What do I think of those projections? Not much. They’re usually wrong at least as often as they’re right.

I’m no economist, but I do believe this: If the numbers come in huge, say, with 200,000 jobs added in the past month, President Obama’s re-election chances will have been boosted to near-certain status. If they tank and the numbers show growth of about 50,000 jobs or fewer, then we could be looking at a Mitt Romney upset.

The timing of the release of this report will be critical for obvious reasons. On Friday, there will be just three full days before balloting begins the following Tuesday. Early voting will have concluded in many states, including Texas (not that it matters here, given that Texas is going to support Romney).

I would love to be a fly on the wall at Romney’s campaign HQ early Friday, where Mitt’s minions are going to be praying for a bad jobs report, which in effect is the same as praying for continued economic misery for millions of Americans. Of course, Obama’s campaign brass is hoping for the best possible numbers to come out Friday … and I agree their motives are just as political as those of the Romney gang.

However, a positive jobs report means much more than just determining how a presidential campaign turns out. It means Americans are getting back to work.

Isn’t that news worth cheering, no matter your political stripe?

Repeat of 2000 beginning to take shape

As I look at the myriad polls out there handicapping the Barack Obama-Mitt Romney race for the White House, I am beginning to ponder what I thought once was impossible.

An electoral vote/popular vote disparity. One of these guys is going to get more popular votes but will lose the contest in the Electoral College. Shades of the 2000 election and Bush v. Gore anyone?

Romney’s lead in the RealClearPolitics.com average of polls is less than 1 percent nationally, which is still within any reasonable statistical margin of error; these margins usually run in the plus-or-minus 3 percent range. That means the race is a dead heat.

But if the contest finishes the way the RCP poll averages suggest, then Romney will win the popular vote.

As most Americans understand, though, presidential races are decided by the Electoral College. Candidates win the states’ electoral votes if they win states’ popular vote. Texas is certain to swing its 38 electoral votes to Romney, so that’s not even a topic of discussion.

Those same polls are continuing to show the president’s lead in critical swing states holding up. Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin and Iowa still lean toward Obama, with Romney leading in North Carolina and Florida – depending on the poll.

By my calculation, I figure Obama is going to win with something like 294 to 303 electoral votes, mainly by holding on to most of those swing states. Romney’s route to the 270 electoral votes needed to win remains quite steep. As the pundits keep saying, he has to thread that needle perfectly and win a huge majority of swing states in play.

How will Obama pull this thing out? Well, I figure the more lunacy is uttered by Romney supporter Donald Trump the better it is for the president. Trump’s latest idiotic statements about giving Obama $5 million if he produces his college transcripts and travel documentation simply is the stuff of a certifiable loon.

And yet the guy keeps getting publicity – such as right here in this blog.

Shame on me? Hardly. I’m glad to bring this baloney to people’s attention.

I had hoped the election would end cleanly, with one guy – preferably the president – winning it without any disparity between the electoral and popular votes. I retain a glimmer of hope that will happen.

That glimmer is starting to flicker. It’s looking like Americans are in for a long night Nov. 6.

Don’t pre-empt gaffes

http://amarillo.com/opinion/opinion-columnist/weekly-opinion-columnist/2012-10-25/goldberg-early-voting-pre-empts-last

Jonah Goldberg is a pretty sharp, young conservative columnist – with whom I have little in common, ideologywise.

But he’s right about the dangers of early voting, a subject I’ve explored already on this blog. His point essentially is that early voting pre-empts any gaffes a candidate might make on his/her way to Election Day.

And that’s precisely why I prefer to wait until the final day to cast my vote.

I don’t expect my presidential candidate to make a serious verbal mistake between now and Nov. 6. The other guy might, which only would serve to shore up my confidence in the selection I’m going to make at the polling place.

Texas has done a good job of making early voting easy and accessible for those who just cannot wait. Randall and Potter county residents have several locations available to them to cast their votes early.

But I’m a stickler for tradition. I’ll just bide my time for next 12 days and watch this drama play out.

Then I’ll vote … on Election Day … which is Nov. 6. See you then.

Isn’t this guy still an Army major?

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-crime-fort-hoodbre89m02x-20121022,0,6545525.story

Nidal Hasan is refusing to shave his beard, citing religious freedom. The result has been delays in his court-martial.

Hasan is a major in the U.S. Army – who now is accused of slaughtering more than a dozen people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. The Army wants to put him on trial for the crime but his lawyers keep winning these delays because he has grown a beard while being held in jail awaiting his trial.

Hasan is a devout Muslim and says his beard is an expression of his faith. Thus, Hasan asserts he is exempt from Army rules and regulations. What utter horse dookey.

Hasan, a psychiatrist, enlisted in the Army. He volunteered to serve his country. When he signed his name on his enlistment papers he agreed to abide by rules laid down by the Army. The Army I served in more than 40 years ago didn’t give soldiers the option of deciding whether to follow the rules. You followed the lawful orders given to you or you faced the consequences. I am quite certain virtually all those mandates exist in today’s Army.

I’m with the Army on this one. The brass says Hasan should shave his beard in accordance with military regulations. If he doesn’t do it voluntarily, the Army is pondering whether to remove his facial hair by force. If he is convicted of the crimes for which he’s been charged, Hasan will get a dishonorable discharge … and then he can grow his beard to whatever length he chooses.

But until then, when your commanding officers order you to do something, you are compelled under military code to do what you’re told. That’s why they call them “orders.”

Putting words in candidates’ mouths

http://amarillo.com/opinion/editorial/2012-10-24/editorial-gop-remark-stretches-blame-game

This editorial from the Amarillo Globe-News seeks to take issue with those who link Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with some hideous remarks about rape by GOP senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock of Indiana.

The essence of the editorial’s concern is that it is inappropriate to hold Romney accountable for remarks made by one of his supporters. Mourdock’s thoughts on rape are his own and are not necessarily Romney’s.

Mourdock said that if a woman becomes pregnant as the result of a rape that her pregnancy is “God’s will,” suggesting that the Almighty has determined she must give birth to a child conceived in an act of violence.

I won’t criticize my former colleagues for the position taken by this editorial. But I do want to point out the hypocrisy of Republicans who are bemoaning the effort to link Mourdock to their party’s presidential nominee.

Why the hypocrisy? Remember back in 2008 when the Rev. Jeremiah Wright – Barack Obama’s former Church of Christ pastor – was uttering some incredibly hateful talk about America. Wright excoriated the nation over racial inequality. What did Obama’s foes do? They said the then-U.S. senator should disavow Wright’s comments and heaped mountains of criticism on him for attending a church led by someone such as Jeremiah Wright. Indeed, Obama eventually did issue a strong disavowal, but in the brass-knuckle political world, that hasn’t been good enough for many of Obama’s persistent critics – who bring up Jeremiah Wright’s name to this very day.

Didn’t Barack Obama deserve the same benefit of the doubt being sought for Mitt Romney?

Celebrities embarrass their political icons

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/10/19/liberal-commentator-alan-colmes-calls-for-eva-longoria-resignation-as-co-chair/?cmpid=cmty_other_Liberal_commentator_Alan_Colmes_calls_for_Eva_Longoria’s_resignation_as_co-chair_of_Obama_campaign

Eva Longoria is gorgeous and from I understand a quite capable actress.

She’s also a loudmouth and a lout, based on what she reportedly said about Mitt Romney. Longoria is supporting Barack Obama. She referred to Romney with a “t-word” that rhymes with “swat.” Enough said about what she uttered.

But she is just the latest example of why celebrities do not need to garner undue attention because they support a presidential candidate. Longoria’s utterance has prompted quite a bit of discussion in recent days from commentators who say she ought to resign from whatever position she has in the Obama campaign. I don’t think she occupies an actual post. She’s just a celebrity who’s lending her name in support of the president.

Before we paste the boorish celebrity label on liberals, let’s be mindful that both parties have their share of show biz crassness.

Exhibit A of this behavior during the 2012 campaign has been the Motor City Madman, right-wing rocker Ted Nugent who some months ago made a statement that the Secret Service interpreted as a direct threat against President Obama. Nugent said if the president is re-elected, he (Nugent) would be dead or in prison; many observers believed Nugent was referring to harm he might seek to bring against the president.

Celebrity endorsers don’t lend any expertise to these campaigns. They do provide a laugh or two along the way. Yes, they also cause considerable heartburn among the candidates they intend to boost.

With friends like these …

‘Apology tour’ never happened

http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/23/politics/fact-check-apology-tour/index.html

One of the big lies Mitt Romney insists on retelling as he runs for president of the United States is that the man he wants to succeed in the White House embarked on an “apology tour” of the Middle East not long after he took office in 2009.

President Barack Obama, as fact checkers have noted, did travel abroad and along the way made speeches in which he pointed out mistakes the nation has made in the past. He did not apologize, let alone apologize – as Romney keeps saying – “for American values.”

This is a canard that has gained all kinds of traction in the conservative media. It’s also an outright lie that the fact cops are trying to counter. But with individuals’ minds already made up, it’s a difficult notion to disprove. The Obama-haters already have crystalized their view of the president and their feelings about him have hardened.

It’s a sad consequence of these times. Opinions take shape without all the facts. They’re reinforced by commentators who echo the innuendo. They give life to the innuendo instead of snuffing it out.

Then we see heavily edited videos designed to put words into the president’s mouth. Any video producer knows how the tactic achieves that end. Some of this stuff is quite clever. It’s also false.

And then candidates such as Mitt Romney seize on these falsehoods, mold them into snappy stump speech zingers and perpetuate these lies.

What if it’s a tie?

Here’s a chilling thought to ponder.

Suppose the Nov. 6 presidential election ends in an Electoral College tie, with President Obama and Mitt Romney each collecting 269 electoral votes.

Impossible, you say? Highly improbable, but the scenario is beginning to get some play. The election is going to turn on about three or four states. Depending on how Romney does in, say, Ohio, New Hampshire and Iowa, the race might end up in a tie.

Then what? Well, then the selection goes to the U.S. House of Representatives. Yes, that bunch. The Republican-controlled House arguably is among the very worst assemblages of lawmakers in American history. They have exhibited absolute scorn for whatever the Democratic president has sought to do to turn the economy around. The single-digit poll numbers bear out the public’s disgust with that body.

So, let’s call them the Nine Percent Ninnies. These are the individuals who could select the next commander in chief of the world’s mightiest military establishment.

But there’s a sliver of good news here. Each state gets one vote. Under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, every state is equal. Texas’ vote counts no more than Delaware. The state congressional delegations will decide among themselves who gets that state’s vote. Texas, dominated by Republicans, would cast its vote for Romney.

Something else to ponder: Suppose a state’s voters endorse the candidate of one party, but the congressional delegation is dominated by members of the other candidate’s party. Does the delegation honor the voters’ wishes or does it toe the party line?

The first candidate to win the endorsement of 26 state delegations wins the presidency.

No one wants this to happen. We all prefer a clear winner. The best case would be that one candidate wins the popular and Electoral College vote. But the beauty of our system is that the Constitution provides a solution to whatever confusion might erupt when all the ballots are counted.

I believe it was Winston Churchill who expressed disdain for the democratic system of government while saying it is the best system ever devised. We just might get to see the Old Bulldog’s wisdom play out.