Sunday, October 31, 2010

Some Quick Final Recommendations: The Democrats in Colorado, Delaware and Washington and no Recommendation for Arkansas, Indiana and West Virginia

Washington voters should pull the lever for the incumbent, Senator Pat Murray (D-Washington) because she has proven that she will work with the president. She voted for the economic stimulus package and for the health insurance program. Her Republican opponent, Dino Rossi, is running on the standard Republican platform that did not prevent the economic recession. Tax cuts, tax cuts and more tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts that primarily hurt the middle class.

For similar reasons he recommends a vote for Michael Bennet, the incumbent Democrat who is running for his first full-term in the senate. His opponent Ken Buck is a conservative ideologue who promises to repeal Obama's health care reform program and oppose all new stimulus spending programs designed to create jobs. Bennet voted for the economic stimulus bill which saved American jobs and he voted for the health insurance reform program.

The Political Heretic will not make any recommendation for the senatorial races taking place in Arkansas, Indiana, and West Virginia. The Republican and Democratic candidates in these states largely agree with one another on some of these issues so it really doesn't matter who wins.

He favors New Castle county executive Chris Coons, the Democrat, over Christine O'Donnell. Chris Coons has the experience and the educational resume which his Tea Party opponent lacks. He graduated from Amherst College, studied abroad and then earned his J.D. from Yale Law School. Had U.S. Congressman Mike Castle won the Republican nomination, the Political Heretic would be urging Delaware voters to pull the lever for him for the same reason he is urging Illinois voters to pull the lever for Mark Kirk. The Republicans need to be pulled back from the intemperate abyss which they are headed towards. The country needs two strong parties fielding well qualified, moderate candidates.

Christine O'Donnell isn't a moderate. She is a conservative and unlike Marco Rubio or Rand Paul, she is an intellectually vapid one at that. She's made some very weird statements, from her accusations that China was plotting to take over the United States to her claim that scientists have created mice with human brains.

Her resume is impressively thin. She has made a career fighting the culture war (condemning masturbation, homosexuality and abortion while fighting for creationism and prayer in schools) while Chris Coons was balancing his county's budget. She served within the communications department for the National Republican Committee and then served as a spokesperson for the notoriously and outrageously anti-gay and anti-feminist Concerned Women for America.

By voting for O'Donnell, Delaware's Republicans squandered their opportunity to tell the American people they are serious about fixing this nation's economic problems. Now Delaware's residents should pull the lever for Dan Coons.

Sestak, the Democrat, for Pennsylvania

The Political Heretic urged Democratic primary voters to pull the lever for U.S. Congressman Joseph Sestak in the primary because he believed then and believes now that Pennsylvania’s Democrats deserved a candidate who grew up and supported the Democratic Party’s principles for a long time.
The incumbent, outgoing Senator Arlen Specter, deserved a lot of credit for his tough vote for his politically courageous vote for the economic stimulus and had he actually won in the Republican primary or decided to run as an independent, the Political Heretic might be supporting him over U.S. Congressman Sestak today. Specter, however, thought he could not win in the Republican Party so decided to run in the Democratic primary.

Today the Political Heretic urges Pennsylvania’s residents to vote for Sestak for the same reason he is urging California’s voters to send Boxer back to Washington. Sestak’s priorities and principled stands on the economy are more in line with what the average American’s needs while his opponent, Republican Pat Toomey is the Club for Growth candidate whose views are more in line with the rich business community’s needs.

Congressman Sestak voted for the economic stimulus well as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the auto bailouts and the credit card bill of rights. Mr. Sestak would increase the lending opportunities for small businesses while closing tax loopholes for those companies that ship jobs overseas. He favors more stimulus spending, particularly when it is directed at the roads and bridges in need of repair. This focus on infrastructural spending would allow us to rebuild America while creating the high-paying jobs many are desperate to take so they can provide for their families. And he favors the president’s approach on tax cuts by supporting the extension of the middle class tax cuts while letting those that favor the rich (who can afford to pay more in taxes) expire.

His opponent, Pat Toomey is running on the same Republican platform he ran on before the economy tanked – tax cuts that primarily benefit the rich and cuts in government program that primarily hurt the middle class and poor – though he would never put it in those terms. Toomey not only favors making the Bush tax cuts, which primarily benefit the rich, permanent, he also favors the elimination of the estate tax and sharp reductions in corporate taxes.

Reductions in these taxes would lead to an even larger explosion in the deficit and force the government in Washington to cut funding for education, transportation and any number of vital services the American people and their state governments have come to rely upon for support.

In a FOX News interview with Chris Wallace, Toomey could not say what government programs he would cut to offset the loss of tax revenue needed to bring down the debt. In fact, the Republican told the FOX News host that the tax cuts would at worst pay for themselves by increasing the tax base and creating jobs. (It should be noted that this did not occur when Bush cut taxes). He nevertheless asserted that some government programs can be cut and asserted that some programs which overlap can be eliminated, saving taxpayers millions. Mr. Toomey did, however, concede that cuts and reforms in the entitlement programs would be needed to cut the growth in government spending.

Toomey favors the eventual privatization of social security, another program many Americans rely upon for their retirement. He would have it eventually replaced with a private security accounts where retirees’ entire life savings could be wiped out in one single downturn like the one we just went through.

Congressman Sestak’s views on the cultural issues is far more preferable than the stances taken by Toomey. Sestak believes women should have a right to terminate a pregnancy. Toomey does not. Sestak has voted for the Employment Non-discrimination Act, a bill that prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment and he has promised to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” His opponent, Toomey, consistently voted against the rights of gays and lesbians when he was in Congress. He voted for the misnamed “Defense of Marriage Act” as well as for a ban on gay adoptions in the capital district. Congressman Sestak supports a cap-and-trade bill, a politically courageous position in Pennsylvania. His opponent, Toomey would not.

Voters should pull the lever for Sestak when they go to the polls this Tuesday.

John Stewart's Rally

I guess the one thing John Stewart got wrong was the belief that most drivers don't cut in front of one another. The montage was great.

Boxer, the Democrat, for California

Senator Barbara Boxer would not have been the Political Heretic’s choice to represent the Democratic Party in California and in fact, had urged Democratic Party voters to reject the incumbent senator in favor of Mickey Kaus, a neo-liberal journalist, whose blog was formerly hosted by Slate but now at Newsweek. Mr. Kaus has been highly critical towards the teachers union, which has fought against serious efforts to reform the public urban schools, as well as those who oppose legislation that would reward illegal immigrants with a “path to citizenship.”

The incumbent has not stood up to the teachers unions, which have opposed tenure reform, merit pay, and charter schools as well private school vouchers even though these measures have received the support of those Americans, minorities included, who are trapped within failing public schools.

Had California’s Republicans nominated Tom Campbell, a former Republican congressman to run against Boxer, the Political Heretic would be urging the voters to send Boxer packing. Californians, however, must go to the polls with candidates they have and in this case they must choose between the incumbent and Carly Fiorina, the former chairwoman and chief executive officer at the Hewlett-Packard Company.

Like most Republicans running for national office in this year’s election cycle, Fiorina has pledged to repeal President Barack Obama’s health insurance reform bill, and cut taxes while paying down this nation’s debt. She not only pledges to keepe the Bush tax cuts that benefit the rich but also proposes to eliminate capital tax on small business investments, and eliminate the estate tax. Why the latter was included in her job program is beyond me.

Mrs. Fiorina aligns herself with the conservative wing of her party on abortion rights, gay marriage, and cap-and-trade. The incumbent adamantly supports a woman’s right to end a pregnancy, favors gay rights and would vote in favor of environmental bills like cap-and-trade. Fiorina is too far out of California’s mainstream and too far out of this nation’s mainstream for voters to put her in Washington and for that reason voters should pull the lever for the incumbent.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Conway, the Democrat, for Kentucky

Kentucky must take a stand for racial harmony and Rand Paul, in defending the indefensible for even the purest and non-racist of reasons, has disqualified himself from holding higher office.

Like Marc Rubio, the Republican candidate vying for Jim Bunning’s senate seat has been unfairly lumped in with Tea Party nominees Sharron Angle and Cristine O’Donnell. Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist from Kentucky is and has embraced the Tea Party movement, but he is far-smarter (he graduated from Duke University) and more well-informed than these ideological soul mates.

His arguments for both, some of his more appealing and some of his more extreme and downright scary positions, come from an the libertarian intellectual tradition that has its roots in this nation’s founding.

I urged Republican primary voters to back him over Kentucky Treasurer Trey Grayson in the primary. I believed then and still believe now, that a Republican Party that is controlled by Senator Mitch McConnell and the business community isn’t good for the Republican Party and it isn’t good for the country. The voters had to send a message to the power brokers in Washington and it had to send a message to the financial community on Wall Street.

The opposition to the Troubled Asset Relief Program is misguided but certainly understandable. It is based in large part, in the belief that we must return to our capitalist roots, that a company’s success is driven by its ability to provide goods and services which its potential clientele like at affordable prices and that is failure is driven by its inability to do so. The large financial institutions, however failed and the Tea Party voters, like many on the left, saw Washington socialize their losses while privatizing their gains.

The conservatives who opposed these bail outs sent that message to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and it was a message that needed to be sent.

The Political Heretic now urges Kentucky’s voters to send the state’s attorney general, Jack Conway (D-KY) to Washington. Rand Paul’s libertarian principles on the economic issues are just too radical and his consistency in defending them, however admirable, expose the flaws within the libertarian philosophy. Dr. Paul not only supports the fiscally wreck less tax cuts that benefit the rich, he calls for the elimination of the Federal Reserve Board which, among other things, limits the effects of banking panics like the one we could have seen if the companies which are “too big to fail” failed.

Rand Paul also defended BP and from the widespread criticism concerning its handling of the Gulf Coast oil spill. “What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,’” the Republican nominee told Good Morning America. I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it's part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it's always got to be some one's fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.".

Accidents happen. Yes, accidents happen. Some accidents cannot be avoided. Others can be for foreseen. Drinking while driving can lead to accidents but accidents that are caused by someone’s drinking or driving aren’t merely treated as accidents when someone dies as a result of those accidents. They are treated as vehicular homicides. Manslaughter charges can be filed when unsanctioned fights lead to the death of one of the participants.

In each of these cases, the failure to prevent an act that leads to a foreseeable tragic event is treated as a crime. A company’s failure to adhere to basic safety practices can lead to foreseeable tragic events that can be avoided. Companies can and do cut corners wherever they can and it is the government’s job to keep them in line. The failure of the libertarian argument lies in the failure of the companies to police themselves. The American people need a government capable of protecting them from an irresponsible corporation’s operating procedures.

Conway understands this basic point, which is why he was right to back Obama’s health care bill (protecting the consumer who purchases health insurance from the company that tries to renege when its time to cover them) and the watered-down-but-still-better-than-nothing Wall Street Reform Bill (designed to protect investors from irresponsible derivative trades)

But Conway is a deeply flawed candidate in his own right who as of late had run a nasty campaign that would make moderate and liberal independents and Democrats alike squirm and this political junkie question, however briefly, whether he should be urging voters in Kentucky to sit this election out instead of voting for Jack Conway.

One commercial questions the authenticity of Rand Paul’s Christianity based upon a prank the ophthalmologist may have participated in while he was in college. On this particular occasion, Dr. Paul and some friends, it is alleged, once “kidnapped” a college roommate and forced her to worship the “Aqua Buddha.”

We don’t know if Dr. Paul if he and some friends truly worshipped the “Aqua Buddha” or if this was some stupid thing they did because they were drunk but it does not matter what “god” Dr. Paul worshipped then and what “god” he worships now. The only incidents we should ever have concerned ourselves with are the kidnapping charges and as of now there has been no evidence to back them up.

Spreading intolerance and disinformation about one’s religious practices should be a no-no in any election cycle but it is especially appalling in a political climate when one’s Americanism is questioned because those beliefs are not Christian. Liberals were rightly appalled when some Republicans demagogue against the Islamic Community Center that will be built two blocks north from Ground Zero and they are rightly appalled when conservative evangelical leaders question the integrity of anyone who does not adhere to their religious creed.

This country was founded on the right of every American to believe what they want about the nature of, existence in and the instructions of any one, two or group of gods. Questioning Dr. Paul’s allegiance to the Christian creed marginalizes not only him, but anyone who is not a practicing Christian.

Dr. Paul’s beliefs about the Civil Rights Act, more than anything, have led the Political Heretic to support Conway but here too he believes a caveat must be noted. In one of his first post-primary night public interviews the Republican nominee told liberal MSNBC talk show host Rachel Maddow that he supported some parts of but opposed other parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On her show, Dr. Paul expressed support for those provisions banning the government from engaging in racially-based discriminatory policies like the forced segregation of blacks and whites in the public school system but he expressed his opposition to those provisions which banned private organizations from engaging in such race-based discrimination.

The Republican nominee has given the Political Heretic and anyone covering the race any reason to believe he is a racist. Dr. Paul defended his beliefs using the very libertarian principles that this nation was founded on. Private property, he said, is sacrosanct and consequently the right to do what one wants on and the right to invite whomever he or she wants to his or her private property.

But his opinion still provides cover for those who are racists and it re-opens a debate that this country should do well to put away. If the Republicans and the conservatives in Kentucky are truly opposed to racism and viewing people by the pigmentation of their skin (this is their argument against Affirmative Action Programs after all), they should be standing up and repudiating those who are reopening the debate over segregation in business establishments. Whatever they think of Conway’s other positions or the campaign that he ran, Kentucky voters should vote to repudiate the principle that segregation in the private business sector is tolerable and that a candidate who supports the right to engage in such practices can still make it to Washington. In this case that requires a vote for Conway.

Feingold, the Democrat, for Wisconsin

Feingold's campaign for good governance and Wall Street Reform earn him another term.

It would be a shame if the voters of Wisconsin, oust a perfectly good senator like Russel Feingold in order to express their contempt at Washington and its cozy relationship with the bankers on Wall Street. The incumbent did not even vote for the unpopular Troubled Asset Relief Program which his, Ron Johnson, had repeatedly and cynically condemned even as he receives money from the very companies that benefited from the program at taxpayers’ expense.

Their support for the Republican shouldn't come as a surprise since the incumbent senator had voted against the very measures, like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, that the financial companies to get “too big to fail” in the first place. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act removed the firewall prohibiting large investment “banks” from merging with or otherwise selling their high-risk and largely incomprehensible investment derivative products to the very commercial banks that provide loans to small, up-start businesses and potential homeowners.

The Glass-Steagall Act, which this bill repealed, prevented such mergers and such loans so that if and when there was a run on Wall Street it would not have impacted as severely, the loaning industry which fuels the growth in small businesses which provide most Americans their paychecks. Banks would not have tightened their credit lines to small businesses as severely as they did when the market collapsed.

As distasteful as it was, the TARP program which neither candidate supported was needed to prevent a run on the banks that could have forced those banks, in turn, to end their loaning programs altogether, causing businesses big and small to cut their losses by laying off more workers or declare bankruptcy and close. Their failure to support this bill was unfortunate, but had our leaders in Washington listened to Senator Feingold and those who opposed the repeal of Glass-Steagall in the first place, there might have been no TARP program to vote for or against in the first place.

It should be noted that Senator Feingold voted against the finance-backed Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act at a time when the business Democrats were on the rise, when the Larry Summers and the Robert Rubins were viewed as the intellectual giants shepherding this country through a period of economic growth. He was a Cassandra sounding the alarm against a tide of Democrats so intent on re branding themselves “New Democrats,” they voted for business-friendly bills that provided for short-term gains when the stock market rises but very high risks if and when that stock market collapsed.

Since the stock market collapsed, the senator had backed measures designed to reverse the tide on deregulation and restore the regulatory sanity “New Deal” Democrats imposed after a stock market collapse in the 1920s led to that nation’s Great Depression. He backed the McCain-Cantwell bill restoring Glass-Steagall as well as a Cantwell’s amendment to the watered-down Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009. The amendment to the Wall Street Reform Bill was crafted to close a loophole allowing financial institutions to break the new rules established through the act with impunity.

Glass-Steagall was not restored and the Wall Street Reform bill that was signed into law did not include Cantwell’s amendment. Feingold ultimately voted against the bill. His efforts to restore some fiscal sanity to Wall Street’s businesses practices, including his support for an amendment requiring derivatives to be traded in an open market and consequently “cleared” by someone who then would ultimately be responsible for paying for defaulted loans, should earn him Wisconsin voters’ respect.

Senator Feingold’s efforts to reform the way business is done on Wall Street have earned him a fourth six-year term in the senate and Wisconsin’s voters should return him to Washington on that basis alone. Fortunately, the incumbent had been a vociferous defender of good government and a firm advocate for civil liberties in other respects.

He voted for the health care reform bill that will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions, and allows parents to keep their children on their children on their plan until they are 26. He voted for the economic stimulus package that spared states from laying off more workers at a time when when that would have led to a further collapse in housing prices and he voted to extend unemployment insurance to those who have lost their job as a result of Wall Street’s reckless financial transactions.

Most prominently, he co-authored the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 with Senator McCain. Until significant portions of the law were struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court this law barred corporations, unions, and any organization designed to advocate on behalf of any particular issue from paying for commercials that mentioned a political candidate 30 or less days before an election.
Though these ads ostensibly are written to urge a candidate to back or oppose one measure or another they are really designed as a way to circumvent laws restricting how much such organizations can donate to a political candidate (and potentially buy their votes). An ad that was designed to sway a senator’s vote would have been aired at the time at which such legislation was being debated before Congress and not when the campaign season was in full swing.

Mr. Feingold’s stalwart defense for our civil rights and liberties is even more impressive. He voted against the misnamed PATRIOT Act which curtails our privacy rights even when most Americans, fearful of another terrorist attack, supported it. He announced his support for gay marriage even though his state’s residents voted for a constitutional amendment that banned civil unions as well as marriages. And though he supports reasonable gun regulations he signed onto a District of Columbia v. Heller brief affirming the right of all Americans to own guns while calling on the Supreme Court to overturn the capital district’s ban on handguns.

His Republican opponent, Ron Johnson, offers the voters with the same tiring Republican talking points on tax cuts, deregulation and “family values” that one can expect from any card-carrying conservative and nothing to reform our broken system. He opposed the TARP bailout and the watered-down Wall Street reform bill but offers no alternative remedy to fix the derivative market. He is running to repeal health care but offers nothing but the same unrealistic “market-based” health care reform bills Sharon Angle supports. He opposes abortion rights and gay equality (across the board).

Senator Feingold has been a vociferous advocate for all hard-working Americans. His main opponent, Ron Johnson does not. Wisconsin’s voters should return Feingold to Washington.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crist, the Independent, for Florida

Sending the somewhat moderate Crist to Washington would send a powerful message to those in both parties who tout the party line.

When former Senator Mel Martinez (R-Florida) announced that he was going to resign from the senate last year, many journalists expected Senator Charlie Crist to appoint someone who had no intention of staying. Christ didn’t want to face an incumbent when he launched his campaign for the senate seat during the mid-term elections. Most expected him to cruise to victory but anything can happen within a year. An incumbent governor who is well-liked one year can see his or her public approval polls go down one year later.

No one expected State Speaker Marco Rubio to come out from nowhere and force the governor to withdraw from the Republican primary and run as an independent to win this seat. Voters, however are angry and they are frightened. They saw their retirement funds wiped out when the stocks and.many lost their jobs and are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their homes out of foreclosure. They want to make a statement and come election night the state that went for President Barack Obama last year appears to be sending the Republican to Capitol Hill.

Rubio had proven himself to be the articulate, likable and thoughtful conservative that the Republicans should be nominating in primaries across the country. Voters deserve to have (and should be presented with) a choice between two or more eminently qualified, individuals who can make well-informed decisions when casting votes on war authorization and funding bills, and government programs.

The Republican nominee presents his appealing message of tax cuts, less [economic] regulation, and limited government cogently and has held his own in spite of some rigorous and not-so-rigorous questioning in the debates, including one held on “Late Edition” with Candy Crowley. Some media personalities on the left have unfairly but perhaps only unintentionally lumped him in with the Republican Party’s less-than-stellar nominees like Sharon Angle and Christine O’Donnell.

Mr. Rubio’s problem has nothing to do with his acumen as a debater or on the campaign trail. We have heard of no gaffes coming out of Mr. Rubio’s mouth. He, unlike Sharon Angle, spoke of no “Second Amendment remedies” should he lose his election nor did he take the more conservative approach adopted by one Tea Party gubernatorial candidate who merely threatened to “take” one reporter “out.” He did not, as another Tea Party-backed candidate claim, that scientists have created mice with human brains.

The Republican candidate doesn’t have any “issues” that would suggest he should be checked into a psychiatric ward. He is just wrong on the issues. Like the other Republicans running for the senate, Rubio’s campaign is focused on tax cuts, coupled with unspecified cuts in government spending designed to pay off this nation’s debt. Mr. Rubio would vote to make the Bush tax cuts, including those which primarily benefit the rich, permanent even though this would add to this nation’s deficit.

He would eliminate the economic stimulus program and use the remaining money to pay down the debt.The Republican nominee says the program isn’t creating jobs. It is, but even if accepted his claim that it isn’t producing any new jobs, the stimulus bill staved off further cuts in public-sector jobs and vital government services. Ending the program now can slow our paltry growth down even further and prolong the suffering felt across the nation. If anything we need someone who would vote for a new stimulus package, not one who would eliminate the one now in place.

Mr. Rubio offers no specific cuts to offset the revenue lost by making the tax cuts permanent. Mr. Rubio offers some intriguing ideas to force Congress to cut government spending (allowing taxpayers to dedicate 10% of their taxes to pay off the debt and then forcing the federal government to match that figure) but the legislature ultimately would have to decide what government programs have to be cut and by how much. His support for the Iraq and Afghan wars, which has not waned, undermines his claimed support to keep spending under control since both have proven to be costly.

On the cultural issues, the Republican nominee clearly aligns himself with the theo-conservative wing of the party. He opposes abortion rights, stem cell research, and every gay rights measure that has been voted on in Congress.

U.S. Representative Kendrick Meeks, the Democratic candidate in the race, has a solid, progressive Democratic voting record who would vote with the president on most if not all of the issues facing this country but the country is in need of a course correction, albeit one far more moderate than the one proposed by the conservatives. The Political Heretic can think of no issue where the Democratic candidate breaks with the Democrats.

Hence Charlie Crist. The governor ran a disappointing and cynical campaign by disowning every Republican position he held one year ago. He voted against a perfectly good bill that would have reformed Florida’s public tenure system in order to court the teacher unions’ favor. He flip-flopped on gay adoption and civil unions (albeit my way). And he flip-flopped on abortion rights. One can’t say if these changes were real or designed to win the backing of some powerful Democratic constituencies that might otherwise back U.S. Represenative Meeks

Floridians nevertheless should overlook Mr. Crist’s flawed campaign and look to the governor’s display of bipartisanship as a governor when the overwhelming majority of Republicans on Capitol Hill were giving the president none of that. The governor supported the economic stimulus package and has kept the door open on future stimulus programs. Though he, like Rubio, says we extend the Bush tax cuts, Crist said he would compromise with the president in order to obtain at least a source of public income. Mr. Crist promises he’ll behave in Washington like the pragmatic centrist that he governed like in Tallahassee.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Seeing "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sinr" Exercised in Practice

because we all know that the only good Christian response when someone posts a message on his facebook page calling "f-gs" to kill themselves is to support him by holding a counter protest supporting him from those calling for his resignation. The school district, distanced itself from School Board member Clint McCance's comments. Hat tip to

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kirk, the Republican, for Illinois

Kirk's moderation, and thoughtful dissent offer a powerful counter-balance to a party that might otherwise be dominated by its extremists after the November elections.

When they go to the polls on November 2, Illinois voters will get to pull the lever between two fairly decent and qualified individuals for the senate seat being vacated by Senator Roland Burris – State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic Party’s nominee and U.S. Representative Mark Kirk, the Republican Party’s nominee.

By all accounts the talking heads consider this a toss-up with the congressman holding a slight edge heading into the last two weeks of the campaign – so close that the president decided to make a trip to Illinois to rally Democratic base to support his candidate, Giannoulias, on November 2.

Both candidates have seen their resumes questioned within the past few months – U.S. Representative Mark Kirk for embellishing his war record and Giannoulias for loans that Broadway Bankhave made to some disreputable figures like convicted money launderer Tony Rezko and convicted mobster Michael Giorango. Giannoulias was a senior loan officer at the bank though he himself did not make any loans to Rezko or get implicated in any criminal wrong doing. Kirk credited himself for receiving a naval intelligence award that was given to the whole unit which he led.

Neither can point to anything that should automatically disqualify the other from the senate seat and in fact both can point to their governmental experience to make their case for the senate seat President Barack Obama once held – Kirk as the moderate Republican that can act as a check but make doeals with the current president, and Giannoulias as his state’s treasurer. Illinois could certainly do worse then pick Giannoulias as their new senator but the Political Heretic believes that voters should the Republican in this case. Moderation deserves to be rewarded and the party can definitely benefit from a voice of reason in a party that is being pushed further and further to the right.

U.S. Representative Mark Kirk knows how the game is played in Washington and can use that experience to make the kinds of deals with members on both sides of the political aisle while providing a necessary check when the president overreaches on his agenda. He supported the TARP bailouts which saved the economy from financial ruin.

The Political Heretic disagrees with the representative on some issues and finds more to like in Giannoulias' position on a number of these issues (immigration being the exception). He is disappointed that Kirk ran away from his support for cap-and-trade legislation and staunchly opposes his support for extending the Bush tax cuts or repealing the health care reform package passed earlier this year. The Political Heretic supports the the right of gay people to marry while Kirk merely professes support for civil unions. But no candidate is perfect and on balance the Political Heretic hopes that these are merely Kirk’s efforts to appeal to the party’s base. He certainly hopes Kirk will compromise with the president on taxes so that middle class voters are not burdened with higher taxes and he hopes that the Republican nominee will work with the president to craft civil union legislation so that gay families can get a measure of recognition from the federal government.

Nevertheless, the country can benefit from having another voice on Capitol Hill, particularly one who can offer a reasonable difference opinion without being disagreeable and the more Republicans and independents reward people like Kirk with positions of power, the less they will depend on incompetent know-nothing extremists like Sharron Angle.

Kirk is not, a reflexive, anti-government go-it-alone Tea Party candidate that would say no to everything which the president supports. He voted for the re-authorization and extension of the S-CHIP program. He voted for stem cell research and he voted for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, a measure designed to ban employers from discriminating against a person for his or her actual or perceived sexual orientation. All of these are measures that are typically supported by the Democrats and those who believe that the government can be a powerful force for good.

Mr. Kirk’s dalliance with the Democratic Party does not end there nor did it end when President Barack Obama moved into the White House. He voted for the Matthew Sheperd Hate Crimes statute that was a part of the Department of Defense Authorization Act passed last year and for extending unemployment benefits. Kirk’s objection to the president’s economic stimulus package, wasn’t based on some knee-jerk reaction against big government. It was predicated on the size (too big) and its focus (not enough on infrastructure spending). While reasonable people can disagree with his vote few from our side of the aisle can argue with his repudiation of the anti-government crusades from the likes of Sharron Angle:

“In many ways, we have forgotten our own economic history,” Representative Kirk said towards the end of the debate. “We all know the Lincoln administration, because it was the victor in the Civil War, and the Emancipation Proclamation. But what was the third biggest thing that it did. Some would say it was the 1862 inter-- transcontinental railway act that was the ultimate public-private partnership in getting infrastructure going.

We have seen in Indiana this kind of thing ignite the economy. Where Governor Daniels has done a very good job in having economic growth in his state while Illinois has fallen behind. It's that kind of-- new thinking that we would bring to the Senate.”

Kirk clearly isn’t running on the Tea Party agenda. If anything, he’s running against it.
The Republican nominee who touted his support for the now constitutionally defunct McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform bill said he would support a bill that requires financial disclosure bill.

If elected, he can and should be expected to work with those on the other side of the aisle in crafting bipartisan legislation to rebuild America, fix our campaign finance reforms, and hopefully, once again, work with the president on a cap and trade bill.

Reid, the Democrat, for Nevada

Presented with a flawed incumbent who can't defend his party's principles and a candidate who would vote to end the safety net, voters should opt for the flawed incumbent.

Voting for the first time can be an exciting experience. For many it is the first time they feel they can make a difference in how this nation shall be governed. Inspiring candidates offer the people they hope to represent an uplifting vision with a clear path how they will get us there before they ask for your help.

First time voters in Nevada have nothing to get excited about this year. They have to choose between Senator Harry Reid - the uninspiring, gaffe-prone and spineless Senate Majority Leader who is running on the Democratic line of the ballot and Sharon Angle, an inarticulate, gaffe-prone neanderthal who is running on the Republican line of the ballot.

Nevadans who might otherwise have voted for the generic Democrat or Republican might be tempted to stay home if they weren’t civically minded enough to vote for a third party or vote “none of the above.” The stakes are too high. Though neither candidate is exciting, they would lead this nation in two, diametrically opposed directions.

Independent voters who are disgusted with both parties might not care for President Barack Obama’s agenda should consider Angle’s antediluvian economic positions before they vote against Reid to get back at him. During the primary, Angle said she would vote to gradually abolish social security, an entitlement program designed to help American people of all socioeconomic backgrounds to retire at some point in their lives, and replace it with a private savings accounts.

Had these private saving accounts been invested in the stock market two years ago, many Americans would have seen their retirement savings wiped out, forcing them to go back to work. The stock market will eventually rise again but no one can count on it to rise for the indefinite future. At some point in the future, someone who has their retirement income invested in the stock market will see it collapse again. Future retirees must be insured a minimum amount of social security to get them through retirement. Senator Reid would fight to save social security. His opponent would not.

The Republican nominee also opposes President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill and is running on a promise to vote for its repeal. Angle told senate debate moderator Mitch Fox that health insurance companies shouldn't be forced to cover anything.

“I think that what we have here is a choice between the free market and Americanism,” Angle said. “American is about choices. And we need to allow people to have those choices. The free market will weed out those companies that don't offer as many choices and don't have a cost-effective system.”

What Angle proposes isn’t feasible. Most Americans purchase their health coverage through their employers who can buy several plans at cheaper rates. Health insurance companies are more inclined to offer the employers a cheaper rate since they can offset the payments they have to make on unhealthy individuals who undergo chronic treatment with the premiums they get from generally healthy individuals who only need to get their annual physical.

Employers may benefit if health insurers could sell their policies across state lines but that may translate into any benefits for their employees at all, particularly since a potential employee can at best choose his or her potential choice of employment based upon a set of health coverage promises long before that insurer is expected to make good on the return. Health insurance is paid for long before the insurer has to pay for any claims.

The health insurance mandates which Democrats typically support (Senate Majority Leader Reid included) are designed to protect the person who pays for health insurance by forcing the insurer to make good on the promises which their clients paid for. The health care bill which the senate majority leader supported wasn’t perfect. Some compromises had to be made in order to win the votes of those who might otherwise have voted to block an up or down vote on any reform package but the bill at minimum bars health insurance companies from using any using any pre-existing condition to weasel their way out of any insurance payments they owe to their clients.

Mr. Reid isn’t a candidate worth voting for. Nevadans and Americans in general need a candidate who will vote for social security and medicare reform if we are ultimately going to save both programs and the senate majority leader has given us no indication that he would do anything that would cost him some votes among the elderly. The retirement age will have to be raised as would the payroll tax for those who earn above a certain income level. Social security may need to be means-tested so that it wouldn’t be squandered on those who are fortunate enough to live without it. But Angle isn’t offering the means of saving social security; she’s offering the means of destroying it and she isn’t offering a means to cut health care costs; she’s offering the means to gut health care in entirely.

Presented with these two options, voters must choose Reid.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Clements, the Green Party's Candidate, for South Carolina Senate Race

America needs a qualified and intelligent candidate who will work with the president. DeMint will not work with the president but Alvin Green isn't smart enough to work in Congress at all. Clements offers voters a reasonable, if somewhat more liberal, and viable option.

In all likelihood when South Carolinians head to the polls in two weeks they will vote to send their incumbent senator, Jim DeMint (R – SC), back to Washington. They shouldn’t, but they will.

South Carolinia residents as a whole want their senators to vote conservative down the line and the incumbent senator has not disappointed them in that regard. Mr. DeMint has compiled a very conservative voting record on fiscal, international and cultural issues over his years in Congress.

Business interest groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Taxpayers’ Union have given the senator some very high marks over the course of his years in service as have groups that oppose abortion rights and gay equality, like the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Council. The incumbent senator has also compiled for himself a hawkish war record, allowing him to say he is “strong” on national defense. The National Rifle Association gives him high marks.
Environmental activistis and civil rights groups do not.

His conservative voting record may endear him to South Carolina’s residents and it may have shielded him from a “Tea Party” primary challenge that his colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham, may face when he runs for re-election, but it is not good for the state or the nation as a whole. Eventually we, South Carolinians included, will have to pay in terms of entitlement cuts we cannot afford because the senator and those who continually support him vote for tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy and expensive wars with no clear end in site.

DeMint voted for the Bush tax cuts that largely benefited the wealthy and he has vowed to block any measure that only extended the tax cuts for those earn $250,000 or less a year. These tax cuts will cost the federal government the billions of dollars which DeMint himself says it cannot afford (he thinks we have to concern ourselves with deficit spending). DeMint’s

Senator DeMint has voted against George W. Bush’s unpopular Troubled Asset Relief Program as well as the current president’s initiatives which were designed to get us out of this economic rut, most notably its economic stimulus and financial reform packages. TARP was designed to save the banks that provide businesses large and small with loans from going under. Had they done so this nation would have faced an economic depression not seen since 1929.

Reasonable people have disagreed about the size and the composition of the economic stimulus package. Some, including this blogger, thought the president should have asked Congress for a significantly larger but more narrowly focused stimulus package to rebuild this nation’s transportation infrastructure. Senator DeMint’s opposition was rooted in his desire to see the president fail. He did not explicitly say so at the time but we knew he where he as coming from when urged Republicans to give the president his “Waterloo” moment on health care reform. Had he cared about this nation’s rising unemployment, DeMint would have presented the president and the American people with a suitable alternative. He did not.
Last week the senator reiterated a position that should have disqualified him from office to begin with – his belief that gay people should not be teaching in the United States’ public schools. His bigotry will not cost him many votes in South Carolina since most people in that state believe gay Americans aren’t entitled to basic privacy rights, let alone equal employment opportunity rights, but his timing could not have been worse. His comments came after several gay teenagers committed suicide, reinforcing the marginalization which their survivors face day after day in schools and homes across America.

The Democrats unfortunately, haven’t nominated a credit-worthy challenger to oust DeMint from his seat on Capitol Hill. They nominated Alvin Greene, an unemployed war veteran whose inability to put a noun and a verb together in a coherent sentence on a friendly talk show (like “The Last Word” hosted by Lawrence O’Donnell”) raises questions about the University of Carolina’s (his alma mater) graduation standards. Mr. Greene isn’t merely unqualified to sit on Capitol Hill; he might not make it there even if South Carolina’s voters were dumb enough to vote for him. A grand jury indicted him on charges for showing a college student pornographic pictures.

As an alternative voters should pull the lever for Tom Clements, the Green Party’s nominee. Mr. Clements doesn’t have a strong background in government.or public affairs and has spent his time after obtaining his Mastery in Forest Resources at the University of Georgia as an anti-nuclear and environmental activist in various capacities for different organizations. His positions are far to South Carolina’s left (and to the left of the nation’s as well if we consider his neo-pacifist war views and mine if we add his support for illegal immigrant amnesty and the teachers unions' anti-reformist educational policy) but his his expertise can be helpful when the Democrats ask him to work with them on Energy Policy and when the voter is faced with a candidate who has no intention of negotiating with, let alone supporting, a president in the opposition and another candidate who has no qualifications for the office, a vote for the leftist who will occasionally work for the president will have to do. Mr. Clements’ critique of the the presidents economic stimulus package (it was too small) was right on target and certainly not that far out of the mainstream (nobel prize economist Paul Krugman of The New York Times said as much) nor is his belief that we should focus this nation's attention on creating green jobs by investing in solar power (among other things) and mass transit. President Barack Obama can look to his support in formulating a third economic stimulus package. Mr. Obama could also look for Clement's support in any vote to let the Bush tax cuts going to the top 2% earners expire as well as any vote to extend unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs to his predecessor's recession. He will not vote against abortion rights and he can be counted on to vote for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.

The president, should he decide to keep his campaign promises, would have someone to work and negotiate with in Clements.