Category Archives: politics

South Carolina’s Divisive Message – NYTimes.com

South Carolina’s Divisive Message – NYTimes.com.

Editorial

South Carolina’s Divisive Message

Since it was first held 32 years ago, the South Carolina Republican primary has been won by the party’s most electable candidate, the one backed by the Republican establishment and invariably the winner of the nomination. On Saturday, the state veered in an extreme direction, and the outcome spoke poorly for a party that allowed itself to be manipulated by the lowest form of campaigning.

[…]

South Carolina has moved sharply rightward since Mr. Obama arrived on the national scene. In 2000, 24 percent of state voters said they were “very conservative,” but that number jumped to 34 percent in 2008. Now it is up to 37 percent, according to exit polls. Two-thirds of Saturday’s voters said they supported the Tea Party, reflecting the election in 2010 of four South Carolina freshmen who are among the most extreme members of the House.

In one of the most telling results of the exit polls, most voters said that cutting the federal budget was more important than encouraging job growth. At a time when more than 13 million people remain unemployed, these voters do not want the government to do a thing about it, possibly because it might improve Mr. Obama’s re-election chances.

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It was Mr. Gingrich who pulled the race into the gutter, where he found considerable support.

[…]

As one voter told a reporter, “I think we’ve reached a point where we need someone who’s mean.”

They got that candidate on Saturday.

[…]

Read the full story here: The New York Times

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As Rick Santorum Secured Earmarks, 2006 Donations Flowed In – NYTimes.com

As Rick Santorum Secured Earmarks, 2006 Donations Flowed In – NYTimes.com.

Donors Gave as Santorum Won Earmarks

The announcements flowed out of Rick Santorum’s Senate office: a $3.5 million federal grant to Piasecki Aircraft to help it test a new helicopter propeller technology; another $3.5 million to JLG Industries to bolster its bid to build all-terrain forklifts for the military; $1.4 million to Medico Industries to upgrade equipment for its munitions work.

Each of the news releases represented an earmark or, in some cases, multiple ones — the practice by which members of Congress set aside money in federal spending bills for what critics often denounce as pet projects back home.

[…]

But an examination of Mr. Santorum’s earmark record sheds light on another aspect of his political personality, one that is at odds with the reformer image he has tried to convey on the trail: his prowess as a Washington insider.

A review of some of his earmarks, viewed alongside his political donations, suggests that the river of federal money Mr. Santorum helped direct to Pennsylvania paid off handsomely in the form of campaign cash.

[…]

In just one piece of legislation, the defense appropriations bill for the 2006 fiscal year, Mr. Santorum helped secure $124 million in federal financing for 54 earmarks, according to a tally by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group. In that year’s election cycle, Mr. Santorum’s Senate campaign committee and his “leadership PAC” took in more than $200,000 in contributions from people associated with the companies that benefited or their lobbyists, an analysis of campaign finance records by The New York Times shows.

[…]

Read the full article here: The New York Times

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Election laws: Holder v states | The Economist

Election laws: Holder v states | The Economist.

Election laws

Holder v states

Expect plenty of scuffles in the run-up to the general election

RONALD REAGAN appointed him to a federal judgeship. He served as acting attorney-general under George Bush junior. He has backed a law allowing investigators to interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their rights. As a federal attorney he prosecuted two prominent Democratic congressman; in private practice he represented large corporations. This is the CV not of a Republican judicial candidate, but of Eric Holder, Barack Obama’s attorney-general. Long unpopular with the right as well as the left, Mr Holder may well spend the coming year even more embattled than usual.

In 2011 34 states proposed laws to strengthen voter-identification requirements. Backers portray these laws as a bulwark against voting fraud. Critics argue that such fraud is exceedingly rare, and these laws would provide little defence against it; instead, they contend, the laws are intended to make it harder for minorities, young people and the poor—groups that lean Democratic—to cast their ballots.

On December 13th, Mr Holder waded into the controversy.

[…]

Read the full article here: The Economist

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Should Foreign Money Be Allowed to Finance U.S. Elections? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com

Should Foreign Money Be Allowed to Finance U.S. Elections? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

Updated January 6, 2012 2:17 PM

Foreign Money Swaying U.S. Voters?

The United States Supreme Court may decide this week to take up a case involving Benjamin Bluman, a Canadian citizen, who is challenging the Federal Election Commission for the right to contribute money to American political candidates. The court ruled two years ago that banning political spending by corporations, labor unions or other organizations in elections violates the First Amendment’s free speech principles. If that’s the case, argue those in support of Bluman, then foreign nationals also have the right to contribute to U.S. political campaigns.

Are they correct? Should noncitizens who live in America be allowed to donate to U.S. elections? What are the ramifications for U.S. politics?

[…]

Read the full debate here: The New York Times, Room for Debate

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Richard Cordray: Is Obama’s recess appointment consistent with past presidential practices? – Slate Magazine

Richard Cordray: Is Obama’s recess appointment consistent with past presidential practices? – Slate Magazine.

Sneaking By the Senate

When did presidents start using recess appointments to bypass advice and consent?

President Obama used his recess appointment power to make Richard Cordray head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday, after Senate Republicans refused to allow a vote on the matter. When did presidents start using the recess appointment power to install people they knew the Senate would reject?

More than two centuries ago.

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The authority to make recess appointments, and controversies surrounding it, are nearly as old as the United States itself. During the debates over constitutional ratification, anti-federalists argued that it gave the president monarchical powers. George Washington made several recess appointments without major uproar during the very first Senate recess in 1789, but even the esteemed first president soon ran into trouble.

[…]

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Donors, Secrecy and That Loophole – NYTimes.com

Donors, Secrecy and That Loophole – NYTimes.com.

Editorial

Donors, Secrecy and That Loophole

The Federal Election Commission ended another abysmal year with its three Republican commissioners blocking an attempt to unmask the secret donors flooding the 2012 hustings with unlimited special-interest money.

The three Democratic commissioners favored closing an F.E.C. loophole from 2007 that requires disclosure only if a donor’s stated “purpose” is to electioneer — as if any would-be secret donor would admit that. It has been particularly exploited in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which allows corporations, unions and other heavy hitters to spend unlimited amounts.

[…]

Read the full article here: The New York Times

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The gender gap in politics: Why do women vote differently than men? – Slate Magazine

The gender gap in politics: Why do women vote differently than men? – Slate Magazine.

Why Do Women Vote Differently Than Men?

Despite stereotypes, men are actually more fickle at the voting booth.

This election cycle, as with just about every other, there is considerable handwringing about where the women voters will land. Which candidate will alienate women and which one will say just the right things? (And what do women want to hear, anyway?) Among the GOP candidates, Newt Gingrich’s woman problem has been especially chewed over; there’s the matter of his cheating and his three marriages, not to mention the condescending way he’s spoken of Michele Bachmann. Perhaps in desperation to connect with that mysterious species of voter, the Woman, the candidate’s efforts recently yielded the headline: “Gingrich Sheds Tears in Meeting with Iowa Mothers.”

But why do women vote differently than men? For decades women have been more closely aligned with the Democratic Party and men more likely to identify as Republicans. And even among a single-party electorate, there is variation between the sexes. We know from Iowa entrance polls, for instance, that Ron Paul placed third despite having much more support from male voters, whereas Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney achieved their virtual tie by winning over more women than men. As predicted, Gingrich fared poorly with women, though in fairness he faired almost as poorly with men.

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Read the full story here: Slate Magazine

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Super PACs are a dangerous new weapon – The Washington Post

Super PACs are a dangerous new weapon – The Washington Post.

Ruth Marcus
Opinion Writer

Super PACs are a dangerous new weapon

DES MOINESThe barrage of commercials tells the story: This is a presidential election without meaningful contribution limits or timely disclosure, outsourced to political action committees whose spending often dwarfs that of the candidates they support.

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Read the full article here: The Washington Post

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No longer the land of opportunity – The Washington Post

No longer the land of opportunity – The Washington Post.

Harold Meyerson

Opinion Writer

By , Published: January 3

“Over the past three years, Barack Obama has been replacing our merit-based society with an Entitlement Society,” Mitt Romney wrote in USA Today last month. The coming election, Romney told Wall Street Journal editors last month, will be “a very simple choice” between Obama’s “European social democratic” vision and “a merit-based opportunity society — an American-style society — where people earn their rewards based on their education, their work, their willingness to take risks and their dreams.”

Romney’s assertions are the centerpiece of his, and his party’s, critique not just of Obama but of American liberalism generally. But they fail to explain how and why the American economy has declined the past few decades — in good part because they betray no awareness that Europe’s social democracies now fit the description of “merit-based opportunity societies” much more than ours does.

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Some Real Issues for 2012 – NYTimes.com

Some Real Issues for 2012 – NYTimes.com.

January 3, 2012, 9:00 pm

Beyond Elections: People Power

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