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Twelve Days of Christmas for Virginia Democrats: Day Eight, Swing Voters

Welcome to this twelve-part series looking at the challenges, obstacles, and future possibilities of Virginia Democrats. If you've missed past diaries, follow these links: Day One, Competitive Districts. Day Two, Turnout Problems. Day Three, Past Mistakes. Day Four, Downstate Democrats. Day Five, Unchallenged Incumbents. Day Six, Present Opportunities. Day Seven, Democratic Trends. For today's poll, I'm asking about your early support for Governor in 2017.

On the eighth day of Christmas, the Commonwealth of Virginia gave to me ...

Swing voters, that crucial demographic of people who voted Romney-Kaine, or Cuccinelli-Northam-Obenshain, or even were crazy enough to go for Sarvis!

In the last half-decade, Virginia Democrats have seen a range of elections that allow us to roughly identify geographic areas of ticket-splitters. I'm talking about folks who came out and voted for Mitt Romney and Tim Kaine. Or switched back and forth in 2013 between Sarvis, Northam, and Obenshain. Or even McDonnell-Wagner-Shannon! It's all possible.

A Virginia Bellwether for the Elections

RomneyAllensign-1 Lost in the news today is a small item that looms large for Tuesday. John E. Gordon has switched political parties.  He is one guy. But in the GOTV effort, he is a guy that signals a slippery slope for Republicans who have thrown in with some pretty petty "populists."

"It's not that I'm leaving the Republican Party; it's that the Republican Party left me ... me and many other moderates," Gordon said in his announcement. "It aspired to be a big-tent party; but now it is dominated and exclusive to the tea party and folks with a very conservative social agenda." - Richmond Times Dispatch

So while the Republicans have been pandering to the know-nothing wing for two decades, they have driven those broader minded, more representative of the American electorate, to the curb. Concurrently they have touted a "big tent" welcome mat in an effort to attract a broader base of, well, non-whites. But is it sincere? After expressing frustration that more minorities have not joined the cause during a Virginia Beach appearance last spring, George Allen brushed off an African American member of the audience who commented that he might be able to explain how to help. Allen simply deflected the offer by telling him that he was interested; "see me afterwards..." Not interested or competent enough to share an unscripted conversation publicly. No, that's way too dangerous terrain for George. And there is nothing to demonstrate that Allen or many other Republicans are interested in anything but the votes.

Three Graphs: Obama Deficit Reducer; Better on Debt than Reagan or...

When he claims the president has doubled the deficit, Mitt Romney is an extreme  liar.

First, as the graph shows, the President has reduced the deficit. The Red column on the graph represents George W. Bush's contribution to the deficit. But serial liar Romney falsely claims Obama has doubled the deficit.  Not only has the president NOT doubled the deficit, the president has reduced it. The data are clear. Barack Obama has reduced the deficit more than two Bushes and more than Ronald Reagan. In point of fact, only Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have actually reduced the deficit.  

But as Rachel Maddow discussed today, amazingly Mitt Romney supposedly has more supposed "cred" on the matter of deficit reduction.  The new Washington Post poll shows that is the only element upon which Mitt Romney does better than the President.  

The Return of Torture As National Policy Under Romney

A chilling article in The New York Times by Charles Savage indicates that, if Romney is elected, he will probably re-institute the "enhanced interrogation" methods approved by President George W. Bush, which Mr. Obama, in one of his first acts as President, abolished by executive order. You will recall these "enhanced" techniques included "prolonged sleep deprivation, shackling into painful 'stress' positions for long periods while naked and in a cold room, slamming into a wall, locking inside a small box, and the suffocation tactic called waterboarding,"  as well as other methods such as slapping, head-grabbing, and withholding solid food (starvation tactic).

The Bush doctrine on torture as national policy, once disclosed, "ignited a heated debate," one in which Republican Senator John McCain tried to codify limits on torture in our domestic statutes, over strenuous objections from the Bush administration. In 2006 the Supreme Court ruled against Bush, holding that the Geneva Conventions applied to wartime al Qaeda prisoners---- but I suspect that some forms of torture did continue under the Bush regime, excused by a kind of picky bureaucratic hair-splitting.

ALEC Announces Recall and Replacement of Romney-bot

In a stunning late night press conference, the Alien Legal Entity Corporation announced the re-call of its premier artificial human, the Romney-bot (also known as ShamMan). Mr. Josh A. Lot, Chief Information Officer at ALEC, said the current Romney-bot, version 2.55, is being replaced overnight by the much enhanced version 3.0. He claimed they expected the transition to be smooth and utterly seamless. A reporter from The Times asked, if this was going from version 2.55 to 3.0, how many earlier versions of Romney-bot had there been, and wouldn't people notice the change?

Mr. Lot smiled a lot, pointing out, "We have had at least 16 versions of our marvelous plastic politician, and the general public has never noticed when we modified or replaced one version with another, so it will be no different this time. " He distributed copies of a condensed "Story of Romney-Bot" to the press corps:

Yes, Ryan’s Budget Would End Medicare As We Know It. ...

Lies tick me off.  And a lie doesn't get any bigger than the Ryan/GOP one purporting they will "save" Medicare. But what do you say of dissembling, deceiving and lying media fronts?

Tuesday night ABC's Jonathan Karl pretended to fact check the Obama-Biden claim that Paul Ryan's Voucher Plan would "end Medicare as we know it." The Obama-Biden claim is completely true.  

So when he endorsed the GOP deception, Jonathan Karl's pants were on fire. The GOP, Ryan and Karl pretend  those 55 and over can keep traditional Medicare. It is a malicious lie intended to divide the old from the young while gutting the entire program. They know that. This is the truth about privatizing Medicare.

1.  Any insurance plan relies on younger, healthier subscribers' inputs (premiums) to pay for the less healthy older subscribers.  The younger usually need less care.

2. By giving the younger seniors a voucher,  the GOP effectively siphon off funding in the form of vouchers for younger seniors, de-facto defund  traditional Medicare and cause the system to collapse financially. So, no, older seniors cannot "keep it."  It won't be there.

3. For those currently under 55, it would no longer BE Medicare, but rather private insurance. Thus the end of Medicare as we know it for the younger seniors too.

4. Medicare was designed because of the failure of the private system to properly cover seniors.

5. With the profit motive, health care will cost more and seniors won't be able to buy it on the "open" market.

6. Seniors who can afford it at first, also won't be able to afford the ever-rising cost of private insurance.

7.  The GOP won't protect people against discriminatory insurance practices regarding pre-existing conditions. They will revoke "Obama Care," remember?

8. By employing a draconian limit to the amount of GDP the federal budget can be, the Paul Ryan Budget eliminates every domestic program, including Medicare. He would only fund defense and (supposedly) Social Security.  But he has talked out of two sides of his mouth on the subject of Social Security too. Yet he benefited from it as a child when his father died.  He got survivor benefits. Talk about hypocrisy.

But there is more deception by Ryan-Romney.

Breaking: Hell Freezes Over

It must have, because I just read something in the National Review that made sense.

The Romney campaign says he has released as many returns as candidate John Kerry did in 2004, and cites Teresa Heinz Kerry's refusal to release any of her tax returns. Neither is an apt comparison. John Kerry actually released returns from 1999 through 2003, and also released tax returns during his Senate runs. As for Teresa Heinz, Romney isn't the wealthy spouse of a candidate, but the candidate himself. In 2008, John McCain released two years of returns, but he had been filling out financial disclosure forms for decades as a senator. Romney protests that he is not legally obliged to release any tax returns. Of course not. He is no longer in the realm of the private sector, though, where he can comply with the letter of the law with the Securities and Exchange Commission and leave it at that. Perceptions matter.

Romney may feel impatience with requirements that the political culture imposes on a presidential candidate that he feels are pointless (and inconvenient). But he's a politician running for the highest office in the land, and his current posture is probably unsustainable. In all likelihood, he won't be able to maintain a position that looks secretive and is a departure from campaign conventions. The only question is whether he releases more returns now, or later - after playing more defense on the issue and sustaining more hits. There will surely be a press feeding frenzy over new returns, but better to weather it in the middle of July.

McAuliffe Supports the Case for Obama Economic Success


There are ominous clouds on the horizon and an ill wind blows from across the Atlantic, so it is essential that the facts be made clear. If the jury is hung regarding what will be four years of policy come November, reelection is uncertain. McAuliffe's approach is essential to success.

Here is the essential difference between Terry McAuliffe's arguments and the immediate cut to the blame Bush message: it provides the broader historical and economic context necessary to convince independent voters. The message contained in the recent Obama ads is on track; it provides the background for understanding just how much this administration has accomplished. The conclusion that Republicans have twice set the economy reeling in the past 30 years doesn't require finger pointing and is a story that can be understood by the electorate.

Yes, McAuliffe does name names, but only after making his case for the successes of both Presidents Clinton and Obama. And, after pointing out that even Governor McDonnell agrees that the administration has had successes. This is the kind of message that will keep America on board. The position of strength emanates from the accomplishments and is not enhanced simply by attacking Romney or blaming Bush, no matter how much both deserve the disdain of Americans.

If Not VP Then JP; Our T-Bob’s Got a Future

Our Governor has built quite a resume. Aiming initially at a Bain type profile, he has developed an innovative finance background along the way. Balancing budgets by cooking the books, dabbling in high stakes derivatives with the state retirement system, now bringing a whole new opaqueness to accounting.

"Here's the simple truth: our state retirement system is underfunded, and this situation threatens the system's long term solvency."- Governor McDonnell in his 2013/14 budget remarks

Riddle this: Is the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) any healthier today than it was when Bob McDonnell became governor? This may be the most difficult riddle of the Virginia fiscal landscape. Here is a good faith effort to help everyone understand how Bob McDonnell claimed this year's budget recommendation doubled contributions from FY2011/2012.

On the face of it, McDonnell's recommended contribution of $2.21 billion (per year) in total funding to the systems for state employees and teachers does not look like double the $1.55 billion reported contributions in 2011 . It is clearly not double the $2.1 billion contributed in both 2008 and 2009, before he took the helm. But, bear with me.  By lowering the contributions for the year ended 30 June, 2011 from that of his predecessor by half a billion and by assuming the VRS reflected the $620 million IOU as part of the 2011 reported contribution amount, the cash contributions for 2011 are really $0.9 billion. Voila! He has "doubled" the fiscally irresponsible contribution his administration ponied up to VRS in 2011.

"The bottom line is that it's not going to affect the long-term health of the [VRS] fund because it's being paid back with interest." - Governor McDonnell discussing the $620 million funding shortfall on WNIS in September 2011

Obama Campaign Appeals for Intellectual Indulgence

These past three years, the anti-Obama contingent has cheered at every shred of bad economic news and bureaucratic misstep. The wild-eyed charges of an ideological war carried on by an administration bent on Marxist objectives are all aimed at obscuring the sad results of three decades of "supply-side" economic mischief.

"Larry Summers and I were both on the side of 'we need a more definitive clean-up of the financial system.' And the question was if somebody, you know, really wasn't solvent, do you need the government to put in capital, realize the losses, clean it up, and then put it back into private hands?" - Christina Romer, White House Economic Advisor 2009 - 2010

Any serious study of this administration's policies reveals a most pragmatic response by Obama at almost every turn. From the selection of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and many other establishment appointees, to the decision not to seize or take the banks to the woodshed, Obama has erred on the side of caution and market reassurance rather than a confrontation with forces that would flirt with a stalemate leading to economic stagnation or catastrophe. It is essential that the story be told clearly and that we rely on the accomplishments. That looks to be the approach the Obama campaign will employ based upon the message from the campaign thus far. The facts are more than embarrassing for the right's apologists.