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No Final Victories

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Posted on Nov 1, 2010

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

BRISTOL, Pa.—It was just four years ago that the Democratic Party began its comeback in what now seems like another country.

The economic collapse was not in anyone’s imagination, but the nation’s political mood was sour. A substantial majority was fed up with George W. Bush, weary of the Iraq War and ready to vote for Democratic congressional candidates who pledged themselves to “a new direction,” a nebulous but useful slogan.

Democratic constituencies were united as never before. Young voters were flocking the party’s way—those under 30 would cast 60 percent of their ballots for Democratic House candidates—and so were moderates and independents.

The tidal wave that two years later would carry Barack Obama to the presidency began rising in places not usually associated with insurrection, the vast suburban and exurban areas around the old cities of the Midwest and Northeast.

In 2006, that wave produced an upset in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County by a Democrat named Patrick Murphy. Then only 33, he became the first Iraq vet to serve in Congress. Murphy defeated Republican incumbent Michael Fitzpatrick by 1,518 votes out of some 250,000 cast.

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Murphy went on to become one of the first members of Congress to endorse Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries, and he won re-election with ease, earning 57 percent of the ballots and a margin that topped 50,000 votes.

In an earlier era, most incumbents with that sort of margin could rest easy. But these are not your grandfather’s political cycles, and Murphy knows it. Over a late dinner at the Original Golden Eagle Diner here—he sat down only after working the crowd, thanking old friends for their support and urging the Republicans present to split their tickets, getting in the fact that his wife is a Republican—the infectiously energetic incumbent engaged in a bit of good-natured bragging about his humility.

If Murphy survives this year’s rematch against Fitzpatrick, which he fully expects to do, he will trace his triumph to what he did the day after his landslide two years ago. In an early morning’s pouring rain, he stood outside the Cornwells Heights train station shaking hands and thanking commuters for re-electing him. Murphy knew he would not have it easy the next time around, and he was right.

No one in politics, Murphy believes, should ever count on a victory being final, and Democrats who thought that Obama would usher in his party’s New Jerusalem were just plain wrong. “People were talking about a permanent majority—it was arrogant,” he says. “People want to know you’re fighting for them when they’re hurting.”

If enough incumbent Democrats like Murphy survive on Tuesday through sheer energy and preparation (and I confess it’s hard not to be swayed by his jaunty optimism), they will contain the damage of a difficult night.

The party believes it is gaining traction by warning voters to be wary of Republicans supported by undisclosed money from mysterious special interests who will be looking for post-election payback. Its “made in America” campaign against outsourcing has shored up some Democrats like Murphy in the old industrial states. And tea party extremism may be frightening the base out of indifference.

But this Tuesday will still be very different from that glorious evening for Democrats four years ago, and much of the postelection analysis will focus on ideology, on whether Obama moved “too far left” and embraced too much “big government.”

All this will overlook how moderate Obama’s program actually is. It will also pretend that an anxiety rooted in legitimate worry about the country’s long-term economic future is the result of doctrine rather than experience. Nathan Daschle, the executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, argues that if the Republicans do as well as they’re expected to, 2010 will be the third election in a row in which voters cast ballots for change, the very quest for a “new direction” that propelled Democrats such as Murphy into office four years ago.

The classic middle-ground voter who will swing this election—moderate, independent, suburban—has always been suspicious of dogmatic promises that certain big ideas would give birth to a utopian age. This voter is looking for simpler and more realistic things: a bit more security, a bit more income and renewed confidence that the future will be better than the past. Such voters still haven’t found what they’re looking for.
   
E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group


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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, November 3, 2010 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

Lafayette:

Income fairness (is that code for income equality?) is not necessary for a just society. Only a TRULY level playing field is necessary. If a man is fairly compensated for his labor (by whom I wonder) that is justice. If a government confiscates some of the rewards of his labor against his wishes, that is theft, and injustice.

And what’s this about getting rich not being of consequence in a just society? For you, being rich is the quintessential proof and crime against social justice, otherwise why are you so intent on confiscating the wealth of the rich?

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By dihey, November 3, 2010 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If you were a Republican politico in 2008 you would have noticed that candidate Obama did terrific in the Electoral College but that his national vote total was not terrifically larger than that of McCain/Palin. You would have told yourself: let the Democrats believe that they got a “mandate”; all we need is a relatively small shift in the voting pattern in 2010 to regain control. In other words: there was no real “mandate”. There was only an imaginary mandate and hot air emanating from the White House.

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By mdgr, November 2, 2010 at 11:29 pm Link to this comment

Well, America voted for Berlin tonight, but that’s not such a bad thing considering that the other choice was Vichy.  Let’s get used to it, noting that Obama still has veto power and will probably play-act at being more liberal now than he has for the previous two years.

Personally, I was glad for the results. I dealt a serious blow to Vichy and it raised the temperature level. Given the fact that it was a faux-election to begin with, it could not yet be called “do or die.

The next election might be.

Something to consider on the morning after: This comes from Naomi Klein who cannot be called an airhead.

http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/naomi_klein_building_an_independent_left_20100914/

The “Shock Doctrine” author tells Laura Flanders, “We have to build that independent left. It has to be so strong and so radical and so militant and so powerful that it becomes irresistible.”

Now all we need to do is get Arianna Huffington, Jon Stewart and Robert Scheer to stop trying to manage (defect/suppress) progressive rage.

We need to renown it, integrate it and cherish it. Therein, we might begin to find a measure of sanity. Without it, we can have all the rallies we want, but we will never find it.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, November 2, 2010 at 5:39 am Link to this comment

NONSENSE DEPARTMENT

bern: When 3/4 of your party are closet republicans (blue dogs, moderates, etc.)do you really expect the actions to live up to the hype?.

There is no way of knowing what percentage of the Dem Party is “Republican”. A verifiable statistic is not available, so don’t make them up. And if it is available then show it, interpret it and defend it.

If your point, however, is that the Dems should clean up their act, then it’s a good one. The Blue Dogs should be where they belong, on the Republican side of the aisle. They should stop riding center-left coattails if they believe that a Public Option Health Care for America’s aggrieved poor is not central to a Just Society.

The Blue Dogs are for the most part in rural populations, which have no large concern for social programs, since they are highly self-dependent. As long as the government maintains the Agricultural Subsidies, they are as happy as a pig in ….

[Oh, yes, most of those subsidies (the total amount is $20B),  in fact, go to large conglomerates – yet another bit of Corporate Welfare that the Rabid Right does not mention to its constituencies. Like the Federal subsidies for oil exploration that are a hand-out to hugely profitable BigOil.

For a more ample coverage of the subject of Agricultural Subsidies, see here.]

A bunch of Contemptuous Hypocrites is what the Blue Dogs are. They should be invited out of the party to go sit on the Republican side of the aisle. They will feel more at home.

POST SCRIPTUM

Corporate donations are The Major Problem that stymies American Democracy and it will not be solved until money is taken out of the electoral equation.

Somebody go mention that to Robert’s Supreme Court that ruled that corporations, which are uniquely contractual entities and not citizens of the US, have a “right to free speech”. Pure drivel.

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By Lafayette, November 2, 2010 at 4:23 am Link to this comment

La Douche de LaRouche

eir: LaRouche: No, this has been going on for some time. We’ve been headed in this direction for about 40 years, or so. And, we finally have to pay.

You are attributing to LaRouche a prescience that he did not have. Anybody spouting “the end of our world as we know it”, could be cited as the Great Forecaster. And people say this perennially.

LaRouche does not give one solid piece of evidence (in your citation) as to why the Great Recession happened. Not one, he just talks about “our lifestyle” over the past forty-years. What in heaven’s name does that mean, “our lifestyle”.

Without specifics, it’s nonsense.

And these are the specifics:
•  Ronald Reagan in the his term of office reduced both marginal income tax rates (from 70% to 28%) and capital gains taxes from 28% to 20%. Since Reagan, no Democrat administration (having found the honey-pot of plutocrat and corporate donations) touched those figures.

•  Then Robert Rubin, Clinton’s Treasurer, complicit with a Republican Congress, suggested that the Glass-Steagal Act be repealed. This latter was the key factor for the collapse of credit markets in 2008, that provoked the ensuing calamity.

•  Reagan had opened Pandora’s Box of Ills as Wall Street (aided an abetted by the new rules that allowed mixing both Commercial and Investment Banking) went on a binge—where the rest of America already was spending beyond reasonable personal debt limits. The banks did the same, because of the cheap money, in order to fuel highly risky speculative investments that they were selling to a credulous world (having gobbled the falsified Toxic Waste Credit Ratings).

•  The house of cards collapsed due to the underlying factor of untenably bad Toxic Waste realty loans (due to predatory pricing and balloon payments in a bubble-market that was bursting).

If you want to call the above “life-style”, that’s your problem. But it is all tantamount to bad Federal management of the Finance Market, particularly during Lead-head’s administration. Clinton had raised the marginal income tax rates, but not nearly enough. Lead-head “invented” tax cuts ...

GAME THEORY: “Just the facts, ma’am”*

When you can keep 65% of all your revenue earned beyond $350K, and you are earning millions in commissions, wouldn’t you play with the bank’s money in order to earn hallucinatory income? You’re no fool, are you? (For marginal income tax data, look closely at the 1980 years (and how marginal income taxes took a nose dive before Reagan left office here.)

Well neither were the Golden Boys ... only, in the end, they made too many bad bets logging bad-debt to the world.

And LaRouche never once foretold the above roll-out of events.

POST SCRIPTUM:

Should we have known better? Of course, all of us. But, without the Greenspan’s cheam-money mantra and with better Fed oversight of both commercial and investment banking the worst of the mess could have been avoided.

But, it’s still all Obama’s fault isn’t it ...

*Quote from Joe Friday in the first Dragnet series.

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By eir, November 1, 2010 at 11:12 pm Link to this comment

“The economic collapse was not in anyone’s imagination.”  Nope.  Nobody could imagine it. 

On Oct. 27, 2004, Lyndon LaRouche was a guest on the popular radio talk show “Lanigan and Malone” on WMJI-FM, Magic 105.7, in Cleveland, Ohio for a 15-minute interview. Below is some of it:

Host: When you say “austerity,” what kind of—what are you talking about?

LaRouche: Well, in the extreme, I’m talking about what led into Hitler in Europe, and what Hoover did to the people of the United States, at the time of the 1929 crash, until Roosevelt got in there.

Host: You’re talking about a Great Depression?

LaRouche: Sure. We’re in for something much worse than a Great Depression. We can solve the problem, but we’ve got to take the right approach to it.

Host: So, we would go from the most powerful and highest lifestyle on Earth, to a poor nation?

LaRouche: I don’t know; we could. We could go to a very poor nation, but I guess most of the world would go there, too.

Host: Now, you’re saying this is only if Kerry gets elected? Or would they put this on Bush, too?

LaRouche: No, this has been going on for some time. We’ve been headed in this direction for about 40 years, or so. And, we finally have to pay.

Host: My question is: Is it Bush—will they do that to him too, or just Kerry?

LaRouche: Oh, Bush will get the same treatment. Bush will do it willingly. I don’t think he knows what he’s doing, but he’ll do what they tell him.

Host: Okay. Why hasn’t he done it already?

LaRouche: He’s done pretty much in that direction. He’s ruined—we’re bankrupt as a nation, as a result of the measures he took. We could’ve—we were already in trouble before he was elected, but as I forecast in January of 2001, because the man is so dumb, he was going to obviously worsen the depression, which he’s done quite nicely, and he probably will face things like some kind of a crisis, like a terrorist incident.

Host: Okay. Well, we had a terrorist incident. Uh, the war in Iraq: Did you feel that was a total mistake?

LaRouche: That was—it was a piece of absurdity which was pushed by Cheney. I don’t know if Bush knew what he was doing, but Cheney was pushing it. He intended to do it. He was not going to let anybody stop us from going to war in Iraq. He didn’t care what the issues were; he was going to war with Iraq.

Host: Why?

LaRouche: Because that’s been his program since 1991.

Host: Okay, even if it was his program, Lyndon, I’m still trying to figure out why. What was the purpose of it? Was it just that he didn’t like Iraq, or what’s the purpose?

LaRouche: No. The purpose—Cheney’s policy, since 1991, was, he argued within the first Bush Administration, against the opinion of the leading members of that Administration. While he was Secretary of Defense, he argued that the United States should adopt the policy of preventive nuclear war, using this in terms of the failure, the collapse of the Soviet Union—that we had no more rival, therefore we would use a nuclear arsenal, an enhanced nuclear arsenal, to go beat up around the world, and create an Anglo-American empire. That was his policy, and has been his policy, up to the present time.

Host: An Anglo-American empire?

LaRouche: He and his wife’s buddy, Tony Blair.

Host: Which sounds to me a great deal like Hitler sounds.

LaRouche: It moves in that direction. I’d say that…

LaRouche Pre-Election Policy Statement

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, November 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment

JUST THE FACTS

rs: If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?

And that is the sort of asinine remark typical of a Replicant plutocrat who does not understand that “getting rich” is not of the slightest consequence in a fair and just society.

Yes, I do agree that I know better than you about Income Fairness and its necessity in a Just Society. That is perfectly obvious to anyone who cares to research and understand economic facts rather than political dogma. Whereas you evidently are unable to distinguish the two.

Come to Europe, home of the Public Option Health Care for more than 40 years and where exists virtually free education up to and including the post-secondary level. It will help you understand the democratic principle of a level playing-field.

Which is probably of no consequence to someone convinced that the riches of a economic dynamic should “trickle down” when hard evidence shows us that 93% remains at the top accumulating to the unique benefit of barely 20% of the American population. (For the facts about Income Distribution in America, see here.)

But that’s OK, isn’t it? After all, they’re really smart people aren’t they? 

A plague on your foundational belief in Darwinian Economics. And damnation upon those who think that money is the only social denominator of consequence.

POST SCRIPTUM

What is the benefit of Liberty in a country that is Socially Unjust? Do tell us ...

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, November 1, 2010 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

Lafayette:

“Ya gotta be really ‘n truly dumb to put the Republicans back in charge of Congress. And who’s that stupid? Who’s behaving like a spoiled brat?

Look in the mirror.”

Now THAT’S the arrogance and condescension we’ve learned to know and love about progressives. Only YOU know what’s best for the rest of us poor stupid sheep, ain’t that right?

If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich? And if you’re rich, how many homeless people did you put up in your house and feed last night?

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By berniem, November 1, 2010 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment

Democrats wonder why things are as they are? When 3/4 of your party are closet republicans(blue dogs, moderates, etc.)do you really expect the actions to live up to the hype? Not likely. And as for another round of the American people voting for change, can one really expect any such thing when choices available are T.Dee or T.Dum? Whats that definition of insanity again?

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By Inherit The Wind, November 1, 2010 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

How hard is it to understand?  The Democrats won a great victory in 2006, but then they didn’t deliver the goods.

That’s all there is to what’s happening tomorrow.

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Paul_GA's avatar

By Paul_GA, November 1, 2010 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

Lafayette, I tried holding my nose and voting for the “lesser of two evils” during the Clinton years (first for Bush Sr., then for that tired old WWII retread Bob Dole). I’m a disillusioned former conservative Repub, and frankly, I hate the Repubs worse than I do the Demos. Both parties are evil, with the Repubs being a shade worse.

As John Quincy Adams once said, “Always vote for a principle, though you vote alone, and you may cherish the sweet reflection that your vote is never lost.” I vote LP mainly because I’m antiwar, though, to be sure, had Cynthia McKinney been on the Georgia ballot in 2008, I’d have voted Green.

It’s time to think and act outside the box, friend. Do you honestly want the same old same? I don’t.

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By Basoflakes, November 1, 2010 at 11:19 am Link to this comment

EJ,

All people have to do is remember that it was the Republicans that led us into an illegal war in Iraq and Afghanistan, failed to address America’s healthcare and education problems, were ignorant of the economic mess until Bush signed TARP in October of 2008, and violated the US Constitution by back door illegal wiretaps, torture and extraordinary renditioning that emboldened America’s enemies and made America unsafe - the definition of treason.

If Americans remember just those ‘little’ things, they would never vote Republican again.

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3rd party voter's avatar

By 3rd party voter, November 1, 2010 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

Throw away votes?
Dumber than dumb?

ROFL the sound of Stockholm syndrome

Here’s a little bunch of words for the Syndromees:

Obama Heard Me!

He heard me when I asked for an end to useless illegal wars.

He heard me when I asked that we not give tax money to ultra wealthy criminals.

He heard me when I asked him not to violate the constitution

He heard me when I asked him to repeal the worst Police State provisions of the Patriot Act

He heard me when I asked for a public option.

He heard me when I asked for better trade policies that put US workers first

He heard me when I asked him all of those things…


.

.

.
Then he told me to go f*(k myself.

So in return I make sure to remind Obama supporters how outraged they would have been had Bush violated the basic tenants of freedom, not to mention the Constitution.

By twisting the Constitution into a thing that forces purchases

by creating a CIA Death Squad to kill American citizens without a trial, without the right to face their accusers or the right to be judged by a jury of their peers, on the word of the government alone.

By giving trillions of dollars to the very bloodsucking vampires that caused the crash Obama says he’s taking us out of.

These are not some small violations here, this is not some “slippery slope” this is huge.

I believe the quote is “So this is how democracy ends… with thunderous applause”
.
.

Toasted Scrotums:

If everyone jumped off a cliff would you do it too?

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By tedmurphy41, November 1, 2010 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

On the count of three: Yes, we caaaaaaaaaaaaaaahn!

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By balkas, November 1, 2010 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

Don’t go anywhere w.o. knowing that DEAR UNCLES are guiding the region. Yes, i
know that dear aunts and uncles call a set of peoples “nation” and the region
“US”.
Actually, US may be called Disunited Nations. And the uncles do not recognize
any other
And the Disunited Nations r guided solely by strongly united uncles: pedro,
peter, pierre, walt, ivan, moshe, ali, boris, adolf, giovanni,tom, sam, magnus, et
al. tnx

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A Khokar's avatar

By A Khokar, November 1, 2010 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

US Midterm Elections are always of great importance for any US president that it may make his position strong or weaker for the rest of his tenure.

Previously Osama Bin Laden has been proving to be the best friend of George W Bush in strengthening his position that he will always come up with his usual challenging rhetoric at the right time when it was needed most by US to give a new life to the US well sought pretext on ‘War against Terror’. Indeed Osama has served US as their best friend.

In run up to present Elections; I was expecting a message from Al Qaeda in the start of last week of October. Rightly it came up as expected but it could only leave a Luke warm effect on US Elections that it was primarily meant for prevalent Muslims issues in France.

There was a dire need that at this juncture, Terrorist fear must be kept alive at home in USA; so suddenly a bomb plot aimed at US synagogues emerged which has reasonably heated up the situation. This is being taken as very well timed to shift support for Obama.

Earlier Jon Stewart conducted an interviw of Obama at his Daily show which attratect lot of attention in the media. The recent smart speech of Jon Stewart at the ‘Rally to restore sanity’ is also being counted in favour of Obama and his Democrats.

Regards

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, November 1, 2010 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

THROW-AWAY VOTES

PGA: Me, I’m voting Libertarian tomorrow, and I invite others to do the same (or vote for another third party, if you have one on the ballot in your state)

Brilliant strategy! Throw-away a vote for the party that cannot possibly win, thus paving the way for a Republican landslide. Then you’ll obviously complain about the gridlock in Washington that ensues?

Besides, let’s look at some Libertarian Party platform nonsense :

As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.

Right, what we need is to continue the individual accumulation of riches such that the poor can have the scraps off the table. We thus incarcerate the poor in poverty and the individual right to “make a megabuck” is preserved for future generations.

More puerile nonsense about the prevalence of individualism. How many millionaires do you know on a deserted island who “did it all by themselves”? 

We are part of whole and dependent upon that whole. Anyone who thinks that s/he need depend solely upon themselves for their economic future is fantasizing.

Sweet dreams …

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By Paco, November 1, 2010 at 8:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In the early 1960’s the Republican Party had some liberal members just as Democratic Party had its conservative members.  Following the Defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964, conservatives began a conscious and well-funded program of promoting right-wing propaganda in the media and of increased activity within the Republican Party to take it over.  They also made a serious effort to pack the courts with reliably conservative judges.

The results were hardly noticeable for more than a decade, but with Reagan’s election it became more so.  Today, even after the so apparent failures of the Bush Administration, conservatives still control the courts and they likely soon will also have the congress.  Probably more important still is the strangle-hold they have on our media and the counting of our votes.  The Republican Party today is uniformly conservative, with even the so-called moderate Republicans being truly right-wing ideologues in disguise. 

Let me make the point explicit though, that this did not happen in a month or a year, it happened over decades.  It is foolish to expect it to be reversed in one election or even in one decade.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, November 1, 2010 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

DUMBER THAN DUMB

Ed:  No one in politics, Murphy believes, should ever count on a victory being final, and Democrats who thought that Obama would usher in his party’s New Jerusalem were just plain wrong.

Two years is a short time.

Regardless, the very same questions prevail as two years ago when the crisis had just started:
•  Who wanted fervently to believe the BS about “cheap money”? And,
•  Who went binging on cheap money in order to “shop till you drop”, without the slightest concern for personal over-indebtedness?
•  Who signed mortgage agreements that they likely knew they could not sustain, in hopes of reselling and making a Quick Buck?
•  Who elected (twice) a President who neutered the market oversight agencies, because of his party’s asinine philosophy that government should not “interfere with business”?
•  Who elected (twice) a President that swallowed hook, line and sinker the nonsense that “markets are self-regulating”, idiocy espoused by then Fed President Greenspan.
•  Who elected the Education President that did nothing to improve the scholastic performance of our schools particularly necessary as America transitions from the Industrial Age (brawn-work) to the Information Age (brain-work)?

And, finally:
•  Who, in their infantile mind, is now going to trash the party that has had the only Real Solutions to the Mess? (And which party was uniquely responsible for bringing it about after 8 years of colossal mismanagement.)
•  Who elected the present PotUS because they thought he must take the worst recession in 80 years and work the magic of turning it around in only two years? (What childish fantasy! Deep recessions historically take anywhere from 4/5 years to return to their point of origin before the downfall.)

Ya gotta be really ‘n truly dumb to put the Republicans back in charge of Congress. And who’s that stupid? Who’s behaving like a spoiled brat?

Look in the mirror.

POST SCRIPTUM

So, in two years time, who are you going to blame for the gridlock in LaLaLand on the Potomac? Who will you blame for the time wasted in not implementing the reforms so necessary to make America’s a dynamic and competitive economy, thus ensuring durable/decent employment for the present and future generations?

We, the people. That’s who ...

And, please, no blaming the plutocrats. They did not force you to sit out this election. They did not coerce you to vote for the Replicants.

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Paul_GA's avatar

By Paul_GA, November 1, 2010 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

As Huey P. Long, the “Kingfish”, said long ago, “The only difference I ever found between the Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership is that one of them is skinning you from the ankle up and the other, from the ear down.”

Me, I’m voting Libertarian tomorrow, and I invite others to do the same (or vote for another third party, if you have one on the ballot in your state). The Demos and Repubs are both parts of the problem, neither are part of the solution, and the only way out for the USA is to think outside the box—a box containing the same old bull-manure.

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By balkas, November 1, 2010 at 7:49 am Link to this comment

Oh, yazz! Don’t go anywhere if u’r not armed with the knowledge that uncle sam
is represented by two much-diverging agents: DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS!

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democratz.org's avatar

By democratz.org, November 1, 2010 at 4:19 am Link to this comment

The Liberal Democratic Party of the United States will do what the Democratic Party failed to do http://bit.ly/cmtnLP

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