Posts Tagged ‘Sharron Angle’

Thoughts on the Giffords Shooting

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Here’s Joe Scarborough on the Gabbrielle Giffords shooting.

The discussion about civility is important, but I connect even more with the personal story of how he and his wife felt when they heard the news.

My response was similar. When I first heard the news, I thought to myself: the thing that we have feared for so long has come to fruition. Sharron Angle’s “2nd Amendment Remedies” have finally caught up with the nation. Watching the video of Giffords talking about how her office window was shattered after her vote on the health care bill  just reinforced that belief:

our office corner has really become an area where the Tea Party movement congregates and the rhetoric is incredibly heated. Not just the calls, but the e-mails, the slurs..things have really gotten spun up.

 

I watched Giffords talk in the interview about how Palin targeted her district with gun crosshairs. Her father was asked after her shooting if she had any enemies and responded “Yes, the entire Tea Party.” All of this just added to the sense that the shooting was a result of the overheated political climate we have seen in this country since Obama was elected. 

As more info came to light, it became clear that the truth was slightly more complicated than that: Jared Loughner had been obsessed with Giffords since 2007; he was not involved with any organized political movement, and the philosophies he espoused didn’t really fit neatly into any of our usual political debates.

Whether or not the overheated rhetoric created a climate that gave Loughner the go ahead in his demented brain to act on his long held feelings may never be known. What is clear, however, is that the discourse has become poisonous, and that we’re lucky that we only have a few broken windows, empty death threats and some swastikas on black congressmen’s signs to show for it.

While people on the left have tried to blame Sarah Palin for the Giffords shooting, others on the right have played the victim, protesting that they and the Tea Party have been falsely accused and that Democrats also used to say mean things about President Bush while he was president. While I understand the basic principle that it’s not nice to say mean things about national leaders, this is clearly a false equivalency. Consider the fact that death threats against Obama after his inauguration spiked by over 400 percent from George Bush levels; or the fact that the last time we had a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President, the doomsday rhetoric was also off the charts, and the result was that someone killed 168 people and blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City.

I don’t mind a good partisan fight, but when you have a whole group of people who believe that the President of the United States is a “secret muslim” Manchurian Candidate… and you have an even bigger group of people who can’t tell the difference between “tyranny” and losing two elections…and those same people have a tendency towards gun fetishes and a heightened sense of victimhood… and they are manipulated into believing that the biggest threat to their “freedom” is giving health care to people, this all adds up to a volatile mix. The worst thing you can do in this situation is to have community and political leaders fan the flames of that fire.

I’m not one to go on a big tirade against Sarah Palin for her ill advised gun crosshairs targeting map. It’s pretty outrageous, but I don’t think it’s worth spending too much time hyperventilating about it. Still, a few basic common sense rules might be in order here: It’s irresponsible to tweet to your supporters (many of whom are gun fetishists with an overwrought sense of victimhood): “Commonsense Conservatives and lovers of America: don’t retreat–Instead RELOAD,” as Sarah Palin did just after health care passed. It’s irresponsible to tell people to come to a rally against Obama’s policies “armed and dangerous” as Michelle Bachman did in 2010. It is way beyond the pale to suggest that if Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama aren’t thrown out of office, people on the Right might have to turn to an armed overthrow of the government, as the Republican’s best funded 2010 Senate candidate did, and if you are tempted to bring your semi-automatic weapon to the protest across the street from where the president’s speaking “because that’s your right,” you might just want to reconsider. 

As Bill Clinton said on the 15th Anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing:

What we learned from Oklahoma City is not that we should gag each other or reduce our passion from the positions we hold – but that the words we use really do matter, because there’s this vast echo chamber and they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike.

So again, this isn’t an argument that all people who sympathise with the Tea Party are violent thugs, or that they shouldn’t fight for what they believe in. It is an argument that, in this charged political environment, leaders have a responsibility to think about the ramifications of what they say before they say it and make their case for a particular policy without resorting to incitement.

My sense of this is that, now that they got their way, some on the right will tone down the rhetoric. It’s my bet that, now that they’ve actually won a national election for the first time in 6 years, the government looks more like the elected representatives of the country than a “tyrannical regime” bent on imposing socialism on the country. But violent rhetoric is a tricky thing. Once you’ve taken that genie out of the bottle, it is hard to get it back in.

We all hope for the best here, but as the events of two weeks ago show, we need to prepare for the worst as well.

Latino Voters Key Part of Western Democratic Firewall

Monday, November 8th, 2010

On election night last week, NBC’s Brian Williams interviewed Jose Diaz Ballart, the Telemundo anchor, who said that if Harry Reid was elected, he better learn to say “muchas gracias,” because Latino’s turned out to vote for him at levels that matched or exceeded those of the 2008 presidential election.

This pattern was repeated in a number of other high profile races in the West. While the dynamics in each case vary, Latino’s played key roles in Democratic victories in Colorado, Nevada and California, and in the process highlighted what should be a concerning trend for Republicans.

In Nevada, Sharron Angle went out of her way to make not so subtle racial appeals in her closing arguments. This, combined with a strong get out the vote effort by Harry Reid’s campaign helped propel Reid to an upset. In Colorado, Latinos combined with women to help Michael Bennet buck the trend and win a close race against Tea Party candidate Ken Buck. Meanwhile in California,  the allegations made by Meg Whitman’s maid and the way in which she handled them combined with another strong get out the vote effort focusing on Latinos helped not only Jerry Brown, but also Barbara Boxer. Over 1 in 5 voters in California were Latino in this election cycle and they broke overwhelmingly for Democrats.

Gil Cedillo points out that George Bush and Karl Rove saw the importance of Latino voters in building a successful Republican party in the long term, but that many Republican politicians have been focused on short-term political gain that can come from scapegoating Latinos, especially in the Republican primaries. While this may be a successful strategy in some parts of the country, it will become less and less so as time goes on.

Republicans may want to consider the fate of the Republican party in California, who never recovered from Pete Wilson’s attempt to deny illegal immigrant children access to school in 1994. Pete Wilson won that election, but he was the last non-action hero Republican to win a major statewide office in the state.

We can only hope that the Republicans are dumb enough to follow his lead nationwide.

Feingold’s Last Stand

Monday, November 1st, 2010

All indications are that Russ Feingold’s going down.

The man whose been called the Senate’s True Maverick by the Nation magazine is on the verge of losing his reelection battle.

I heard someone on MSNBC say earlier this week that this is the thing about wave elections: good people lose, and by extension, bad people (see Sharron Angle) win.

I’ve made peace with the Grand Old Tea Party taking over the House. What I haven’t made peace with is seeing people who have a history of bucking the special interests lose elections in a wave of anger at the people who are bought off by the special interests.

What I haven’t made peace with is people like Sharron–I want to abolish the EPA, the Department of Energy and the UN–Angle being sent to the Senate to represent our country while people like Russ Feingold get sent home.

Overt Racial Appeals at Close of Nevada Senate Race

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

The ugliest Senate Race is ending on an overtly racial note.

Sharron Angle’s final barrage of ads feature not so subtle images of Latinos crossing the border to invade America and wearing gang colors contrasted with clean white people who are suffering for lack of services and cowering in fear from the violence perpetrated by these immigrants. The message is clear: Harry Reid’s is with the brown people. I’m with the white people.

This comes on the heels of another ad from the Southwest (that has since been pulled) which encouraged Latinos not to vote because the Democrats didn’t deliver on immigration reform.

Besides being cynical and awful, it’s a questionable strategy, since the result may be that Latino’s turn out in even higher numbers to cast votes against Angle. Rachel Maddow was in Nevada last week and interviewed Harry Reid, who also stressed these issues, encouraging Latinos to turn out and vote against Angle.

Angle has been surging in recent weeks, but with such close margins, turnout will once again be key, and both sides seem to be playing to the base.

Milazz 2010 Senate Primer

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

With nine days to go, it looks like the Republicans are poised to take the House. The math in the Senate looks like more of a long shot.

The current Senate makeup is 59-41, counting Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders, so Republicans would have to net 10 seats to get to 51, since a 50-50 tie would be broken by Joe Biden.  Below I look at the races where Republicans have to prevail in order to take control.

Probable Republican Pickups

Arkansas, North Dakota and Indiana have long been considered Republican pickups, with the Republican candidates leading in opinion polls for months. These races are basically over at this point and can safely be considered Republican pickups.

Lean Republican

Wisconsin

In one of the more puzzling results of the year, Russ Feingold has trailed badly behind plastics manufacturer (I can’t help but think of The Graduate) and Tea Party candidate, Ron Johnson. A few months ago, I characterized this as a Democratic Firewall seat, based on Feingold’s history of bucking party and common wisdom as well as Wisconsin’s traditional voting patterns.  Wisconsin has been true blue for a while now and has a history of electing fiery populist Democrats (dating back to ”Fightin” Bob LaFolette during the Progressive Era). In recent polling Feingold has trailed by up to 8 points, with Johnson polling over 50% in some polls. This is very bad news for Feingold at this late hour, and the race would have qualified as a Probable Republican Pickup just a week ago. However, just last week week two polls came out showing Feingold closing the gap, so I err on the side of caution and include this as a Lean Republican seat.

Pennsylvania 

In another race where biography would seem to indicate a different result, former Congressman and Admiral Joe Sestak has consistently trailed former Congressman and free market libertarian derivatives trader Pat Toomey for almost the entire year. But in what seems to be a national trend of poll tightening in Senate Races,  Sestak has pulled even with Toomey or is showing a small lead. Having pulled even, Sestak hopes the Pennsylvania Democratic machine can carry him over the finish line. 

Colorado

Tea Party favorite Ken Buck has generally led appointed Senator Michael Bennett by 2-5 points since the primaries. This race has tightened in recent weeks as Bennett has surged slightly and Ken Buck has stepped on his message a few times. A new Denver Post poll out today has the race a dead heat, but Buck should still be considered a slight favorite here.

Tossups 

Nevada

The nastiest, most high profile race in the country has to be in Nevada, where the Least Charismatic Man in America continues to be locked in a tight race against the Crazy Cat Lady from your Old Neighborhood. The fact that Harry Reid hasn’t been able to put the Tea Party Fringe Candidate Sharron Angle out of her misery is a testament to how much Nevadans hate their sitting senator. This is probably the most polled race in the country and it seems like they alternate leads in every other poll. Angle’s up by a couple of points now, but all indications are that this race will go down to the wire.

In Illinois, the voters face another Faustian bargain as Mark Kirk, a former Republican Congressman who is most famous for lying about his military record during the Gulf War takes on Alexi Giannoulias, who is most famous for his family’s shady savings and loan which went belly up early this year. On Meet the Press, Kirk defended his exaggerations about his military experience while Giannoulias put himself in the running for the most cringeworthy political statements in history when he basically admitted that he knew he was loaning money to mobsters when he worked at his father’s bank 4 years ago. This race is another that is too close to call, with Kirk mostly maintaining a one to two point lead over Giannoulias for the past few months, but Giannoulias showing some signs of life in the past few weeks. Another race where turnout will be key.

West Virginia

The addition of West Virginia as a possible Republican pickup has kept the Republicans in the game. Here, popular governor Mike Manchin is taking on another perennial Republican loser, John Raese, in a Special Election for the seat of held by the late Robert Byrd. In another example of how ignorance sells in this country, Raese has made a point of pointing out that he can’t pronounce non Anglo names, recently calling Energy Secretary  Dr. Steven Chu, Dr. Chow Mein (Stay classy John Raese!).

 This seat was initially assumed a safe Democratic seat because of the popularity of Manchin, but in recent weeks, Raese surged into a lead over Manchin with a clever campaign which acknowledges Manchin’s popularity as Governor, but agues that he would become a rubber stamp for Obama and Pelosi if he were to go to Washington.  The polling in this race has been all over the map, with polls within days of each other exibiting violent swings.

Democratic Firewall Seats

If the Republicans were to sweep all of the above races, they would still need to take one more seat to get to 51. The two most obvious seats are the generally reliable blue states of Washington and California, where two Democratic women from the 1992 “Year of the Woman” class are facing tough challenges.

Washington

In Washington, Senator Patti Murray faces Dino Rossi, another perennial Republican challenger who narrowly lost a race for Governor in 2004 and then lost by a more substantial margin in 2008. This race has bounced around a bit, but Murray has held a small lead for the past few weeks. At this point, Nate Silver ranks this race as an 85% chance of a Murray win.

California

Liberal stalwart Barbara Boxer, another Year of the Woman Alumnus, has yet to put away former Hewlet Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, but she has led her in the polls by margins from 1% to 8% since early September. Although Boxer’s inability to poll about 50% has been cited as a bad sign for her, a Republican pickup here, while possible, seems unlikely.

Lean Republican Hold

While Democrats are on defense in almost all of the swing seats, there is still faint hope that they could take one Republican seat. Democratic hopes are pinned on Kentucky, where son of the Tea Party icon Ron Paul, Rand Paul, is taking on Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. Even in reliably red Kentucky, Paul has struggled due to the original intent constitutionalism and the radical free market ideology that he stands for. While this race has been closer than expected, Paul now leads by close to 5% and Conway’s attacks on Paul’s college associations and pranks look increasingly desperate. It looks like the Democrats will have to rely on defense to get them through this one.

Bottom line for the Republicans? They need to lock up the three seats they are favored in (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Colorado), run the table in the tossup elections of Nevada, Illinois and West Virginia, and take either California or Washington while holding on to their lead in Kentucky.

Stay frosty folks. The next week and a half will be interesting.

More on Reid-Angle Debate

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Debate Analysis from Chris Matthews, Jon Ralston and Chuck Todd on Hardball.

Same opinion from both Todd and Ralston: not so much that Sharron Angle did a good job, just that Harry Reid was his usual boring self, refusing to defend himself aggressively or to make the (easy) case that Angle is way out of the mainstream.

Frustrating.

Least Charismatic Man in World vs. Crazy Cat Lady

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Only Harry Reid could be “on defense” in his only debate against the Craziest Tea Bagger of the Bunch.

Here’s Politico with Nevada debate coverage and Jon Ralston on how Sharron Angle managed to best Harry Reid last night.

Apparently Harry Reid’s debate performance was about as exciting as watching him in the Senate for the past two years has been.

Nevada Senate Race Heats Up

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Here’s Jon Ralston, Nevada’s best political reporter, on the latest developments in the hotly contested race between Reid and Angle.

Hard to believe that Sharron Angle may be the new Senator from the Silver State.

Lovin the Tea Party Tonight

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Wow. When I posted about Delaware’s Senate Race last night, I didn’t actually think that Delaware Republicans would send their previous governor (who was given a 94% chance of winning the Senate Seat vs. the Democratic nominee) packing for a tea party also-ran who doesn’t seem to have a real job, lied about her eduation, has been accused of using campaign funds to pay her rent and thinks that lots of people are out to get her.

America, meet the new Sharron Angle.

May be too early to say right now, but by taking a sure winner out and replacing him with someone who is running a good 26 points behind, the Republicans sure look like they may have blown their chances at taking the Senate.

Assuming that Delaware doesn’t flip, the Republicans will need to pull an inside straight, winning all of the close races as well as taking seats from incumbents in normally reliably blue states like Washington, California and Wisconsin.

The possibilities that the party would quikly coalesce around O’Donnell seems to have faded, with Mike Castle saying that he did not plan to endorse her and Karl Rove basically ripping her a new one on Fox (much to Hannity’s chagrin). As Rove noted, Republicans  were looking at 8-9 pickups in the Senate, now it looks more like 7-8 seats.

In addition to the O’Donnell fiasco, New York Republicans also nominated a teabagger for Governor who floated a plan to convert some prisons to dorms for welfare recipients who could then be taught hygiene at the prisons. Also, a veritable treasure trove of racist and pornographic e-mails that he apparently sent to close to his entire mailbox is now available for public perusal (warning–not for modest eyes).

In a funny sidenote, I actually recognized some of those e-mails, but in my defense, I was the forwardee, not the forwarder…and I’m not asking for your vote for New York Governor as the nominee of the “family values party.”

Anyway, many more layers of this onion to peel, but in all a pretty good night for the Dems in what is turning out to be an increasingly bizzare election year.

Charlie Cook on the 2010 Elections

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

WSJ’s Gerald Seib interviews Congressional Election expert Charlie Cook on the 2010 elections.

I usually see Cook on Hardball. It’s refreshing to be able to hear him talk for a change.

Cook says he thinks a wave election is coming. Barring any major changes, he predicts a Republican takeover of the House. The Senate is more of a longshot.

72 days to go.