The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘2012 Election’ Category

The winners!

Happy New Year, Widdershins! I hope the holidays were good to you. I think we did get a nice collective present when Obama only partially caved on taxing the wealthy, and staved off some of the worst aspects of the fiscal cliff. I know that “progressives” are livid that the tax raise only went to those who were making $400,000 or more as individuals and $450,000 as a family, but I am pleasantly surprised that he finally did what he had been promising since 2008. Admittedly, it was in a half-assed Barackian way, but what else would you ever expect from him?

I said a while back that I would tell you who my top activists were in the year that is now past. Unlike most politicians, I do keep my promises. Without further ado, here they are!

Top activists of 2012: Environmentalists.

Whether it was stopping the XL Pipeline from being built, getting even the World Bank to understand the urgency of global warming, or fighting fracking in New York, environmentalists truly made an impact in 2012. Congratulations, you tree-hugging, chardonnay-sipping commie pinko hippies! You have my respect, admiration, and encouragement for 2013, when you start pressuring Obama to lead on this issue.

After mixed results in Obama’s first four years, environmental groups appear to have come to the conclusion they need to be more vocal about demanding action from the White House, to keep climate change from slipping off the president’s second term agenda.

The letter urged Obama to set new pollution controls for existing power plants. A report released last month by the Natural Resources Defense Council set out a plan for cutting carbon emissions from power plants 26% by the end of the decade.

The open letter also pressed Obama to put a stop to the Keystone XL pipeline project, designed to pump crude from the Alberta tar sands to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Obama put a hold on final approval of the pipeline early last year, but industry and environmental groups expect a decision early in his second term.

“We should not pursue dirty fuels like tar sands,” the open letter said. “The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in our national interest because it would unlock vast amounts of additional carbon that we can’t afford to burn.”

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This is your first reminder to remain calm of 2013.

Many more will follow.  In the meantime, let’s just run with the Hillary theme, shall we?  I promise that it will be mercifully brief as I want to watch the game tonight,

The Secretary of State was discharged from the hospital Wednesday afternoon,  She had been admitted for monitoring during the anticoagulant therapy for a right transverse sinus venous thrombosis .  She had developed an intestinal flu, then experienced a syncopal episode with a fall leading to a concussion.  During the period of medically ordered rest, Hillary-bashing became quite the merry Right-wing pastime.    Former Florida Congressman (God, that sounds good!) Alan West chortled about “The Benghazi Flu”.  Laura Ingraham postulated “The Immaculate Concussion”,  Former UN Ambassador John Bolton waxed eloquently about “Diplomatic illnesses”, doubtlessly drawing upon his vast knowledge of all things diplomatic.  Charles Krauthammer, who is actually an M.D. and should therefore actually know better, upbraided HRC for her “Severe Benghazi allergy”.   Senator Lindsay Graham, however, advised that this was inappropriate.

Indeed, Senator Graham is correct.  I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with Hillary Clinton or anyone else.  I have no problem with anyone asking some pretty direct questions with regard to Benghazi, as long as they are prepared for what will most likely be some pretty direct responses.  The Secretary of State is not afraid of the Senate, the House, or Fox News.  The Secretary of State is not afraid of much of anything.

My personal theory about all of this is simple enough.  The Republicans were so busy lionizing all things Clinton during the 2012 Presidential campaign that they ended up with the worst of both worlds:  Obama was re-elected and the Clintons so glorified that Mrs. Clinton now enjoys a 67% approval rating and is therefore a pretty good bet for 2016 should she decide to run,  Even better, should Jeb Bush decide to make a 2016 presidential run, he will offer Americans a stark choice between two very different US political dynasties.   Therefore, the only reasonable course for the Repubs to pursue is to begin immediately trashing Hillary Clinton.  Christmas be damned, full speed ahead.

My next question is, of course, when do the full-throated apologies begin?  Laura Ingraham has more or less done so,albeit in a tweet; but I await the others.  I think that it would be particularly nice of Dr. Krauthammer to put his Harvard medical education to good use by explaining to the Fox news nation the intricacies of the epidural hematoma and anticoagulant therapy.  Good thing I’m not holding my breath……..

This is an open thread.

May you always live in interesting times.  Chinese Proverb

   2012 – what a year we have had.  I’ve been sitting here for some time trying to figure out exactly what to select as the years biggest stories,  and I have reduced my list to twenty-six.

Needless to say, if I were to address all twenty-six, I would end up with either a numerical list or a ten page tome, so I have selected five stories to discuss.  Please feel free to agree with my choices or to submit your own instead.  So much has gone down that it’s hard to know where to start.

(1) We Blinded Them With Science.

2012 was the year of Superstorm Sandy, which took out the Jersey Shore as well as parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island.  Numerous homes slid into the water, and the famed Boardwalk washed out to sea. Governor Christie interrupted his political castigation of the President long enough to tour the affected areas in Marine One, and ask for Obama’s support in obtaining FEMA funds for his state.  Sadly, he will soon learn that the obstacle to his funding request comes from within his own party, and his embrace of the President will likely have the same impact as did Charlie Crist’s .  Hopefully, the people of New Jersey are smarter than Floridians.  (Uhh-uhh!  I heard that! Not very nice, y’all.)

Through it all, science deniers still swear than humans make n meaningful contribution to this.  Forget the fact that Long Island looked like Key Largo, and that hurricane force winds have hit Europe.  Forget the fact that the entire Westernized world is begging us to reconsider our thoughts on this – the American Republican Party knows better.  Ask Rick Santorum about carbon dioxide, and he;ll tell you about plants.

For that matter, we have Republicans who believe that a woman’s body can put a stop to insemination from a rapist.  Hmmm…. that must mean that any woman who becomes pregnant must have really not been raped……kind of like the Salem Witch Trials, whereupon a woman thrown into water was found to be a witch if she were to float to the top and acquitted if she sunk and drowned.

(2) The Romneyshambles and Other Republican Endeavors.

This week, Tagg Romney helped us to understand his father’s failure to win the Presidency was that he really didn’t want it.  Okay, so we’ll forget that he has done nothing but run for President for the past six years or so, he didn’t really want the job?   Tagg would have us believe that mother Ann and himself literally pestered the poor guy until he folded and agreed to run  – again – for the office.

If that were true it would explain ever so many things.   The never-ending faux pas of the British Olympic commentaries, ten thousand dollar bets during debates, dropping subtleties such as close friendship with NASCAR owners, and not-so-subtleties as the now-famous disparaging of the 47%.   Not to mention the tax returns, Refalca the dancing tax deduction/MS therapy, cookie critiques, and frolicking between Lake Winnipesaukee and the La Jolla beach/car elevator home.  If one were truly opposed to being elected President, and were trying in a most subtle passive-aggressive method to let everyone know so, then Mitt did a bang-up job.  I honestly believe that Mitt wants to be President, but found running for that office distasteful.   Rubbing elbows with the hoi polloi from 50 states was a bit much for his sensibilities.

Even more interesting was the response of the Republican party to the new realities.  As there are ever more women, LGBT, latino, AA and youth voters turning out, Republican controlled legislatures are sitting up nights trying to figure out ways to hold on to power in the face of increasing odds.  Thus far, a number of states have limited early voting, stopped Sunday voting in part or in total and are contemplating dividing their states’ electoral votes by precinct.  There’s more to come, and it should be interesting.

In the meantime, the Republicans can amuse themselves by attempting to find new and inventive ways to denigrate women.  Many of them have seen the light on Latinos, and are vowing to work on immigration reform, and we will likely accomplish something along those lines in the next year.  Bless their hearts, I just don’t think that the Republicans or their surrogates can keep themselves from denigrating women for very long.  We may not see anything of the Sandra Fluke/contraception imbroglio for a while, but they will inch forward on banning abortions.  Virginia’s vaginal probies are still in office, and I doubt that they are prepared to stop fighting the good fight any time soon.  We’ll have to wait and see,

(3) The Intersection of the First and Second Amendments.

I have said this many times – your Second Amendment rights to bear arms end where another’s First Amendment right to life begins.  2012 was a doozy in this arena.  We are still trying to sort out George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin and who was standing whom’s ground when the world went mad.  There have been some of the worst mass murders ever seen this year, ranging from a white supremacist shooting up a Sikh temple to the Aurora and Sandy Hook massacres.

Sandy Hook may well turn out to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.  Even friends and family who are ardent supporters of Second Amendment rights were moved to tears by this, particularly the ones who realized why the ME required DNA to positively identify the remains.  The effect of  multiple large-caliber bullets on tiny bodies cannot be overstated.

Again we have the now prototypical socially-awkward-kept-to-himself-loner shooter.  Again we have years of mental health issues, likely unresolved.  The latest that I heard was that the man’s mother was planning to enroll him in a treatment program, which may well have played a role in precipitating this horrific incident.

I have heard Wayne LaPierre of the NRA attempt to blame the culture, video games, and mental health.  I cannot disagree with him about the mental health issues.  Ever since the Reagan administration, mental health funding has been slashed repeatedly.  I’m willing  to bet it’s on the chopping block in every state in the union, and I’d be stunned if it did not figure prominently in the sequestration to follow our trip off of the fiscal cliff.   People with mental health issues have no lobby, and will not ever have one unless we agree to become their advocates.

I also think that there is too much violence in video games, but many other industrialized nations have violent video games and mental health issues commensurate with our own.  The difference is that (1) their citizens have access to mental health care and (2) their citizens do not have access to large-caliber semi-automatic weapons with large drums of ammunition.

Mr. LaPierre also suggests armed guards (vs. armed teachers) at US schools, apparently oblivious to the fact that both Columbine and Virginia Tech had armed employees to no avail.  And, if we are to arm teachers, so we then compensate them as police?  Lots to think about here.

Of course, it might help if we could actually confirm a new director of ATF……

(4) The Right to Work for Less.

I have read that unemployment is down.  I have read that the newly Right-to-Work states will soon be models of full employment.  We shall see what we shall see.  If Indiana is to be such a model, this might be interesting.  I heard one of the pundits state that almost 70% of Indiana’s new jobs are of the minimum wage variant.  If this is the case, then business may well go rushing in there. but for how long?  No one cam support a family very well on the minimum wage, which is basically at or below the poverty level, depending on the size of the family.Business can flourish while families require public assistance in the form of SNAP and Medicaid – oh, wait!  We’re cutting those in the sequestration, aren’t we?I don’t see this going well for very long, do you?

The damnedest part of it is that the Golden Days of Yore when Daddy went off to work and Mommy could afford to stay home with the kiddos was when union were strong.   Wages and benefits were good enough for one parent to support a family.  There were good jobs for just about everyone who was ready, willing and able to work.  Now, was that not Conservative Valhalla?

(5)  Cliff Diving, Fiscal Style.

Yep.  Here we go again, y’all.  Tim Geithner has announced that we run out of money on the 31st.  Now, the Reoublicans have the debt ceiling to play with as well as the automatic sequestration that they helped set up in order to appease the Tea Party.

Speaker Boehner apparently thought that he had himself a deal going just before Christmas, but skulked out-of-town in defeat when he could not gather enough votes from his own caucus to pass the measure.  Even a note from Grover Norquist didn’t seem to push things along.  This may find him having to work with – gasp! – Nancy Pelosi in order to pass anything whatsoever.  Then, if Mitch McConnell has decided to let anything go up for a vote that it;s Republican driven, we may get somewhere.  On the surface, this loud minority is firmly in control – and the public knows and is watching.   Watching carefully, I might add.

Of course, we will  soon need a new Secretary of the Treasury, if we could actually get one confirmed.

There are many, many more – the Middle East, Benghazi, General Petraeus, the election, Susan G, Konen, marriage equality, and Lord knows what else.  I look forward to your suggestions, comments, and additions in this otherwise open thread.

This is my final regular post for 2012, and allow me to say that it’s been great blogging with you.  See you Sunday for some tunes, then it’s on to 2013.


A little reported story caught my eye and it has niggled at my “brains” since I saw it.  The story is basically this:  TheSome pigs are more equal than others campaign driven by the numbers obsessed, waste-gutting candidate paid its campaign staffers twice what the socialist candidate paid his campaign staff.  That’s right — Obama had twice the campaign staff, but spent less than half what the Romney campaign did on salaries.

Then Dick Armey, the Koch addicted lead lemming of the Tea Party Freedom Works, quit his job and was promptly paid $8.0 million.  He also got back his official Congressional portrait — sometimes staring at a mirror just isn’t enough.

Then Jim DeMinted, the Junior Mint Senator from South Carolina, didn’t wait for the rocket’s red glare over Ft. Sumter, he bailed on the Senate to land in the candy bowl of the Heritage Foundation — to the tune of a cool million plus a year.

Then there was Rep. Jo Ann Emerson a republican from Missouri who had the good fortune of being reelected to the House whereupon she promptly resigned to run a rural electrification trade association where her amperes will be amplified to the tune of $1.4 million a year.  As a good conscientious representative of the “Show Me” state, she certainly showed them.

Finger PuppetAnd then there are all the stories about consultants dipping into these moneyed honey pots — these stories are not by the usual “lame stream media” suspects.  They have run in The Weekly Standard, on Erick Erickson’s site Red State.com, Brietbart.com, and in any number of other publications (forgive me but I won’t link to them).  Here’s the primary complaint:  With the unlimited flow of money, Republican consultants are like raging alcoholics who have been given the keys to distilleries.

This past election, you found heretofore publicly shamed and disgraced operatives crawling out of their hidey-holes to get a piece of the action like the Abramoff disgraced Ralph Reed who again cashed in on his church lists for a quick couple of million dollars.  And of course, you had the regular cast of Fox characters who hawked their books, videos, and sundry paraphernalia and cashed in with direct appeals for cash on their websites like the great toe sucking Jabba-the-Hut, Dick Morris.

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If at first you don’t secede…………….

The concept of secession conjures visions of grey-clad Confederate riding a raid, and Sherman marching through Georgia.  I have both heard and read, many times over, that Jefferson Davis and all of the Confederate general officers were traitors who should have been hanged.  (Seems that the South just didn’t qualify for the Marshall plan.)  The whole problem with the traitor thing is that there was nothing whatsoever that precluded anyone  from leaving the United States at any time.  To this day, there is nothing in the Constitution that forbids secession,  there is a only SCOTUS opinion (Texas v. White) which, while it dealt primarily with bond sales,  opined that Texas had entered an indissoluble union when it accepted statehood.   Texas therefore could not leave such union except through revolution or “consent of the states”.

“Through consent of the states……”  Through consent of which states?  The states that want to leave?  The states that want you to leave?  Will a simple majority do, or must there be a supermajority?  This statement sounds, quite frankly,  less like prohibition and more like a road map.  Remember after the 2004 election?  There was actually some blue-state buzz about seceding from “Bubbastan”.  Here’s some excerpts from an article written by Michael C. Dorf:

Still smarting from the results of the Presidential and Congressional elections, a number of Democrats and liberal pundits have opined that the “blue states” ought to secede from the Union. The electoral map looks amenable to the plan. By joining with culturally sympathetic Canada, the blue states of the East Coast, the West Coast and the upper Midwest could create a contiguous land mass, with only the islands of the blue state of Hawaii left at a distance.

Talk of secession is not meant to be taken literally. Instead, those who raise the subject wish to underscore the degree to which cultural and political divisions track geographic ones. Appearances can be deceptive, however. Blue states contain many Republicans, just as red states contain many Democrats. Even the rhetorical point of contemporary secessionists is thus subject to question.

But the legality of secession nonetheless warrants serious consideration. Understanding why it is not a realistic option will help us understand the sense in which the United States is–for all its divisions–a Union.

As I will explain below, it is settled law that the Constitution does not permit unilateral secession: A state or group of states cannot simply leave the Union over the objections of the national government. However, the arguments that led to this settled understanding are hardly unassailable, and the Constitution is probably best read as permitting the mutually agreed upon departure of one or more states.

Here’s Dorf’s Constitutional pro-secession argument:

The Argument for a Right of Unilateral Secession: A Pact Among the States

The U.S. Constitution does not expressly recognize or deny a right of secession. Accordingly, the argument for a right of unilateral secession begins (and pretty much ends) with a claim about the very nature of the Constitution.

That document, by the terms of its Article VII, only obtained legal force through the ratification by nine states, and then only in the states so ratifying it. Because the Constitution derived its initial force from the voluntary act of consent by the sovereign states, secessionists argued, a state could voluntarily and unilaterally withdraw its consent from the Union.

In this view, the Constitution is a kind of multilateral treaty, which derives its legal effect from the consent of the sovereign parties to it. Just as sovereign nations can withdraw from a treaty, so too can the sovereign states withdraw from the Union.

Here are Dorf’s anti-secession arguments  (bear with me):

The Arguments Against a Right of Unilateral Secession

Most of the arguments against a right of unilateral secession can be found in President Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address of March 1861. But as University of Texas Law Professor Sanford Levinson observes in a recent article in the Tulsa Law Review (and in condensed form in an April 2003 column on this site), Lincoln’s case against a unilateral right of secession is hardly airtight.

First, Lincoln asserted that the fundamental law in every national government rejects the idea of its own termination. And indeed, as of 1861, no national constitutions expressly provided for their own dissolution. But this argument does not respond to the secessionists’ claim that the U.S. Constitution’s Article VII impliedlyprovided for the possibility of dissolution.

Second, Lincoln denied that the Union was a mere voluntary association–and claimed that even if it were, ordinary principles of contract law would bar unilateral secession. Lincoln noted that while one party canbreach a contract, the consent of all parties is required to rescind a contract. But secessionists analogized the Constitution to a treaty, not a contract–on the ground that each state was more like a sovereign nation than a human being. And under treaty law, unilateral rescission is permissible.

Third, Lincoln claimed that the Union was older than the Constitution. In his view, it dated as far back as the Articles of Association of 1774, when the signatory parties were all colonies of England. Lincoln’s claim, however, does not respond to the secessionist argument rooted in Article VII; on the secessionists’ view, the Constitution implicitly affirmed a right to secede from the Union, regardless of the pre-Constitution character of the Union.

(snip)

Fourth and finally, Lincoln denied that the Constitution was silent with respect to secession. The immediate predecessor to the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, purported to establish a “perpetual Union.” By seeking to create what the Preamble calls “a more perfect Union”–in an echo of the Articles’ language–the Constitution, Lincoln said, simply strengthened the already indissoluble bonds between the States.

The article goes on at some length regarding the mechanism for secession, if any, in the light of a silent Constitution and a SCOTUS decision made in the aftermath of the conflict.   I bring all of this up just to document that there might actually be a basis for all of the thirty-odd petitions that have gone rolling into the White House, even if no one is really certain what it may be, and that it might actually not be a terribly bad idea to get the parameters firmed up a bit here.

Fredster, Prolix, and I live down here in potentially secessionist territory.  In all honesty, it would probably save the US a blue million dollars annually to allow them to secede.  The Red States tend to take much more than they give.  Medicaid, SNAP, agricultural subsidies are rampant in Red States.  Check out this link for which states receive the most for their dollar, and then tell me exactly how they plan to get by post-secession.  Foreign aid?

From deep in the Red Belt, this is an open thread,


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