Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Happy post-fiscal cliff

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

We’ll get to celebrate it again in about two months. More fun to look forward to, courtesy of your government and mine.

Options for limiting schoolhouse gun tragedies

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

A couple of potential solutions:

  1. Start arming our children, and also amend the Constitution to clarify that they are part of our armed militia. Or:
  2. Everybody who voted for Obama joins the NRA — and then takes it over.

Winning theory

Monday, November 12th, 2012

I’m fascinated by stories like this one, in the Wall Street Journal, with the headline  “Top Ohio Republicans Ask Why Party Lost.” Here are some of their theories — and from my reading, none of these theories seem restricted to just Ohio:

  • A “failed voter-turnout operation”
  • “An unforeseen surge in African-American voters”
  • “An unexpectedly weak GOP ground game, particularly in the final days.”
  • “Infighting within the state party that they say crippled the campaign’s organization.”
  • “…the Obama administration’s auto-industry bailout, combined with a summer ad barrage, left a decisive imprint that Mr. Romney never shook off.”

There are more of these — my favorite being Karl Rove’s claim that the Obama campaign “suppressed the vote” by, well, running the sort of negative campaigns that Mr. Rove usually likes to fund himself. But I have an alternative theory, one that I don’t see the GOP spending a lot of time thinking about:  When the majority of voters got a good hard look at their candidate, and his policies, they decided they liked the other guy more.

Sometimes, things really are as simple as they seem.

Election surprises

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Four vast ironies that occurred to me today when thinking about yesterday’s elections.

  1. In 2010, California voters passed an Open Primary initiative that means that the top two finishers in any primary, regardless of party, go into the general election. The intention of backers was that more moderates would run and be elected. Both the Republican and Democratic parties here fought it, but it became the law. One of the proponents was then-Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado, a Republican sometimes on the outs with his own party. Net result in yesterday’s election:  Instead of a more balanced Legislature, Democrats picked up seats, leading to a 2/3 majority in both the state Senate and Assembly. That 2/3 majority gives Democrats enormous power and renders Republicans completely superfluous. And Maldonado, who was running for Congress, lost. “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.
  2. Proposition 30, which raises taxes to help balance the state budget, was put on the ballot by Governor Jerry Brown expressly because Republicans won’t vote for any tax increase, and passing a tax increase requires a 2/3 majority. Democrats now have that majority, ironically, which the lack thereof necessitated the proposition. Also, the proposition, which was positioned largely as “save our schools,” returns little money to schools — it just eliminates further cuts.
  3. On a national level, the one thing we were all led to believe about Mitt Romney was that he was a dispassionate numbers guy — a guy who could read the data and make sound decisions. That was his story at Bain, and at the Olympics, and in Massachusetts. Here’s what we found out today:  That his internal polling — and his internal polling alone; nothing objective — consistently showed him ahead, that he and his campaign team absolutely believed that all the polling to the contrary was undercounting Republicans, and that he was 100% going to win. (Indeed, today’s Wall Street Journal reports that Romney never wrote a concession speech because he never believed he’d need one.) In other words:  He completely misread the data, and was operating from bad data clouded by emotions. So… he wasn’t even good at the one thing he was theoretically really good at.
  4. On a similar note, Karl Rove and the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson and all their money couldn’t buy any love. Much as Meg Whitman found out when she ran for governor in California, you can buy ad space, but you can’t always buy votes. But that’s not the surprise. The surprise is how thoroughly revealed Rove is as someone completely out of touch with the electorate. The svengali behind the Bush near-win in 2000 and the Bush probably-won in 2004 does not understand 2012 at all. In advance, he is sure that young people are going to stay home, that Obama supporters are disenchanted, and that Romney is going to thread together an electoral victory out of key battleground states in some complicated 3-4-2 formula (or whatever it was) that he talks about a lot on air and in print. Instead: young people turn out in large numbers (numbers consistent with 2008, showing that that year wasn’t a fluke), Obama voters are charged up (by the prospect of Romney/Ryan), and Romney takes all of… one of those battleground states. (North Carolina, the only state to switch sides from 2008.) Which means that Rove was wrong, wrong, wrong, and some of us don’t have to worry about his “genius” any more.

Like everyone else, I’m glad it’s over, and like about half of us, I’m delighted with the outcome. If you’re among the other half and you’re not so delighted:  I understand. Believe me. I have been over there many times, and it doesn’t feel good. I will say that I was glad to hear the president say he’d like to meet with Mitt Romney to discuss ways to bring people together, I was glad to hear Romney’s gracious concession, and I was also glad that John Boehner has, in words at least, offered to work  with Democrats to avoid the fiscal cliff. There are all sorts of budget cuts I’d like to see put in place, as well as tax loopholes closed and tax changes made, so I’m hopeful a deal can be made — because I’d rather this work were done with a scalpel than with a chainsaw. And I’m reminded that surgery is performed by a team of professionals working together.

Today’s political statement

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Presidential Face Off

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Who “won” the presidential debates is open to conjecture (and what really matters is who wins on November 6th).

But it won’t be spin that determines who wins the Presidential Face Off — that’s up to you.

First round voting is open until October 26.

Details on the Romney tax plan

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Finally, here they are.

Governor Sunrise

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Here’s California Governor Jerry Brown, once known as “Governor Moonbeam,” on what he’s learned. To put it succinctly: He seems to have learned optimism.

Debatable for a long time

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Tonight’s the first Romney-Obama debate, and I’ll be watching.

My prediction: Unless Mitt Romney falls on his face so hard that he shatters every bone in his physiognomy — or unless Clint Eastwood wanders onto the stage — the press is going to anoint this as a win for him. Why? Because they want the game to go on. Look at all the coverage of polls; to focus on polls is to focus on the horse race, and not on the real need for political impact. Today I read a front page story in the Wall Street Journal about how Obama and Romney are pretty much tied. How many people in this poll are likely to vote? 832. That’s right, 1000 people were polled, and 832 of them are likely voters. 832 people who were almost assuredly influenced by the very fact that they were being surveyed, as essentially proved by Heisenberg.

One thing I’ll be looking for is how well Mitt Romney does with on-the-job training. Sure, Obama is now experienced at being President. But Mitt Romney is far more experienced at running for President — he’s been running for President for six years. (And, seemingly, getting worse at it.)

The price of fame, Part 3

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Clearly, people who took umbrage at Clint Eastwood’s debate with an empty chair at the Republican National Convention aren’t taking it sitting down. Here’s the latest artistic counteroffensive: Beside the life-sized cardboard cutout of Eastwood keeping watch over Glendale, people have started to add empty chairs.

As someone who has long enjoyed Eastwood’s movies, all I can say is I wish this were happening to Chuck Norris instead.