Monday, September 15, 2014

GOP 2014: Wave or Wash?

On, two contributors contend that the Republican Party will have a wave election in 2014, or they will not.

The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby says no:

Jeff Jacoby

It's a sweet dream. But don't count on seeing it come true.

One can forgive Jacoby's cynicism regarding the changeability of House Reps in Congressional elections, particularly off-years (although 1994 and 2010 served as tsunami elections against the Democratic incumbent President). For two decades, the Massachusetts GOP has witnesses its own slow demosie, losing its last two house reps in 1996 (in part because of the 1994-1995 shutdown, but more likely the liberalizing trends shaping the Bay State). Determined that 2014 will provide little change in Congressional representation, Jacoby half-heartedly acknowledeges the defeat of nine-term incumbent John Tierney, who barely gripped onto his MA-6 seat in Northeast Massachusetts by one percentage point in 2012. His Republican challenger during the last cycle, openly gay moderate Richard Tisei, was prepped to challenge him again as one of a slate of House GOP "Young Guns".

Suprisingly enough, Tierney lost to a dismissed challenger, Seth Moulton, who has blasted the now-ousted Tierney's incapacity to get things done. Still, even with Tierney and Cantor's loss (plus two other incumbent losses to primary challenges thisy year), Jacoby surmises that such revolutions in representation are quite rare. Regarding Jacoby's expectations of a whimper as opposed to a wave, Jacoby's frustration is justified, at least regarding a term-by-term analysis, particularly in Massachusetts.

Kurt Schlicter

Arguing more positively, contributor Kurt Schlicter says yes:

Conservatives are going to win them going away, and it's going to be gloriously devastating to the progressive cause.

Citing less evidence but evincing more enthusiasm (he does refer to a book which he wrote detailing the coming conservative wave), Schlicter identifies the fearful damage-control from the Obama Administration. He further points out that the polling is tight currently in contested races, but the polling numbers were also close in the 2010 elections. Pointing out the national trends in politics, (something which Jacoby claimed to do, as well), Schlicter promotes all the indicators favoring Republicans: the sixth-year itch (When the party of the incumbent President in his second term alwauys loses seats), the lingering economic malaise, massive foreign policy failures, the immigration crisis along the Southern border. The heap of scandals overwhelming the Obama Administration has spooked vulnerable Senate and House Democrats to run from their President and their party, playing up conservative causes and right-wing values.

Are Jacoby's recriminations about
a GOP wash instead of a wave correct?

The second column not only articulate the outrage among Middle America, and the charged-up excitement of the Republican base, but reminds readers that Obama has disappointed his own key supports (immigration activists, pacifists, hard-core progressives), and their dipping enthusiasm gap will only bring the Democrats' chances lowers, depressing the turnout, favoring Republicans all the more.

Where Schlicter brings pep, Jacoby rolls out stats, citing The Economist: "The royals of Capitol Hill"

Using a bare comparison between the number of changes among Europe's royal heads of state and American Congressmen, the Yankee counterparts can boast of a divine right legacy where they face fewer prospects of losing power.

Since 2012, when its members were last up for election, 30% of Europe’s monarchies have put newcomers on the throne. By contrast, only around 17 out of 435 House seats—less than 4%—will be competitive in November’s mid-terms.

On its face, the statistics proffer a shocking result: "Kings and queens are more likely to lose their seats than American Congressmen." A closer look at the stats, however, reveals that while turnover  rates appear rare among elected House representatives, who claim with undue pretense their right to inherit their seats without a challenge, European royals never face a challenge to their power, and oftentimes they remain reigning for decades, if not longer. Also, there are only ten monarchs compared to four hundred thirty-five Congressmen, and the safety of their seats can change rapidly.

Furthermore, looking past local reactions to politicians, national trends recognize that political power turns over readily among national voters. Elections in 2006 and 2008 witnessed the Democratic Party’s dramatic resurgence, then 2010 returned the Republicans to the majority in the lower chamber. Come 2014, Republicans may finish in the US Senate what they had accomplished in the House.

Besides, House elections fall into play on one of three issues: retirement, redistricting, or single-issues. Election Year 2014 has so many issues which can polarize a race and pulverize incumbents. While the House numbers may change less this year (in part due to gerrymandering or voter apathy), the US Senate representation will shift considerably, like the crest of the tsunami which wiped out Democrats in 2010.

Schlicter's prediction is more likely:
Republicans Will Have Another
Wave Election This Year
(Source: WallArc)

Is there a wave election coming in 2014? Looking at local races in a one-party state as Jacoby did, no. Considering the national picture and trends, like Schlicter, yes. Even though Jacoby cited prior outcomes and straight stats from The Economist, the flawed premise and methodology of those samples and cohorts distort the deeper significance of the 2014 election year, and reveal that indeed Republicans are looking good on the national front to ride another wave of voter discontent.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Barack Obama Before the Presidency

Bobby Rush 113th Congress.jpg
Bobby Rush (D-Illinois, First District)
Barack Hussein Obama has kept tight raps on his past, but technology escapes the ready grasp of politicians keeping the past from become present (here, now, and available)

His political past had some interesting turns and twists, where early in his state legislative career, he challenged an incumbent Congressman for federal office.

Previous presidents also had their share of defeat running for Congress. George W. Bush and John Kerry both had run for Congress in the late 1970s, and lost. George Herbert Walker Bush had run for the US Senate, after holding a House seat in Texas, but lost as well.

Obama would share that unique distinction of loss before his massive rise in Illinois then national politics

In 2000, as an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama was aggressively progressive, running to replace Bobby Rush, who remains the only politician who has defeated the president in a race.

This Bobby Rush was the Congressman who protested the death of Trayvon Martin over a decade later by wearing a hoodie on the House Floor, in violation of House rules.

The 2000 primary was not about ideological differences. The two state senators challenging Rep. Rush also supported universal health care, for example. A value which Obama presented as a Presidential candidate in 2008, he pushed for the  most extensive governmental intervention since the Truman Administration, and accomplished an amalgam of corporate, labor union, and special interest fury which disappointed his progressive base while enraging conservative and Middle America.

Election Year 2000 held many small surprises, though, and Obama's first foray into federal office was one of them.

Obama distinguished himself by his stronger push for campaign finance reform and his resistance to a flat tax (as opposed to a, well, progressive one).

Aside from the interest of Chicago insiders and political junkies, Barack Obama was a blip on the radar, politically, and no one would have imagined that this constitutional law professor and community organizer would amount to anything more.

In four years, that would all change, and the skips and mistakes along the way only sharpen the irony of his middling state senator turned US Senator then President who ushered in an ideological transformation unseen since the Reagan era.

US Senate Election 2004

Barack Obama faced a easy slide into the US Senate seat, even though Republicans had a banner year with George W. Bush at the top of the ticket.

Peter Fitzgerald.jpg
US Senator Peter Fitzgerald
The incumbent US Senator from Illinois, Republican Peter Fitzgerald, declined to seek reelection because his staunch, fiscal conservatism angered state Republican Party officials, deep in graft and corruption (which later ended the Governor George Ryan's administration with a six year jail sentence).

Barack Obama ran against six other candidates for the open US Senate seat, and won significantly. His opponents praised his political skills (in spite of having less money), and supported his general election bid for the senate seat. At the time, the Republicans controlled the chamber by a slim margin, and Democrats viewed the Illinois seat as rare opportunity for taking back the chamber.

They would have to wait until the 2006 cycle to regain the majority, and then 2008 for the Presidency.

 Originally, investment banker turned teacher Jack Ryan (no relation with governor) would run against state senator Barack Obama. Already trailing in the polls, Ryan's camp hit a harder bump when news affiliates wanted access to his divorce records from his actress wife Jeri Ryan (nee Zimmerman).

Following the disturbing allegations of the sealed divorced records released to the public, Ryan officially withdrew from the races. Rumors have suggested that Obama's political machine behind the scenes instigated the forced release of Ryan's divorce records.

The Original 2004 US Senate Contest

At the last minute, state Republicans press Maryland Republican and perennial candidate Alan Keyes to replace Jack Ryan, who had already been struggling in the polls.

Keyes turned out to be a terrible candidate, whom even Jay Leno lampooned for carpetbagging into the district, despite prior claims that candidates should never run for office outside of their hometowns or states.

Keyes rhetorical flourishes and social conservatism had alienated fellow Republicans, and his lack of self-awareness then (and now) has doomed any lasting national influence.

Alan Keyes
 Barack Obama face no real challenges to his steady assent into national politics in 2004.

The Socialist Sophistry of Bernie Sanders

Taxation in Sanders' terms: "Ask the rich to pay more"
Listening to Socialist US Senator Bernie Sanders talk about wealth redistribution, he gives the impression that government intervention and taxation is a voluntary proposal.

In his debate with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Sanders suggested "asking" the wealthy One Percent to pay a little more in taxes.

Taxation is not asking, but taking, and by force, pure and simple. Where does Sanders get the idea that the government asks anyone to pay their taxes, let alone to pay more?

Another thing: all the talk about raising the minimum wage is misleading rhetoric at its core.

The government, whether state, federal, or even municipal, has no direct power or authority to raise any wage (aside from the salaries which specific agencies pay to their employees).

What legislation does is compel business to make choices regarding wages, employment, investment, or closure.

Businesses do not have to offer a wage. They can layoff workers because they cannot afford to pay them. They can also decline to hire more employees because the cost would be too great.

Businesses can raise the prices of their goods.

They can bring in automation to end hiring.

They can hire individuals illegal (or illegal immigrants) and pay them less than the minimum wage.

They can close their businesses in one location and move to another.

The truth is that governments, and politicians, do not advocate for raising the minimum wage, since they do not have the authority (or the resources) in their own reach to enact such increases.

They force businesses to make certain decisions.

Politicians, governments, legislation force the minimum wage. Nothing more.

Redux: Bernie Sanders v. Michele Bachmann

Bachmann Blitzed Sanders

Before his first stint on "Meet the Press" Independent US Senator (and democratic socialist) Bernie Sanders had tested out his liberal populism campaign rhetoric earlier this year, but Congresswoman and former Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-MN) took the offense, responding with effective examples and characterizing the lofty ideals of government intervention and income distribution for the failures that they become.

On a CNN blitz debate with Wolf Blitzer, the two federal legislators discussed income equality (the underscoring marquee).

Here is a short list of Sanders' talking points:

1. Republicans want to cut Social Security and Medicare

2. The cost of education is rising

3. The need for the United States to learn from other (i.e. European, socialist) countries

4. The Top 1% are getting richer at the expense of everyone else.

5. 95% of income wealth went to the Top 1%

Congresswoman Bachmann did a phenomenal job tying the moral bankruptcy of liberal policies, which prevented  poor single mother on federal entitlements from improving her living situation and getting a job.

"It's not income inequality. It's income opportunity."

"Ann wants a job."

Bachmann is learning what conservative activists have demanded repeatedly from Republican lawmakers: go on the offense. Somewhat crude but necessary, Bachmann pointed out the Democratic Party's War on (Working) Women.

Sanders focused heavily on the importance of education, a worthy point, but offered nothing substantive in this discussion about expanding access to a quality education. The Minnesota Congresswoman returned to the personal focus: the single mother in the previous clip wanted a good job.

Bachmann stated a moral argument, while Sanders' conflict-theory socialism rhetoric diffused quickly.

If Sanders maintains any pretense of running for President, his drive for the Europeanization of America will invite little support, especially from a bloc of voters who have experienced the relative freedom of a capital  economy.

(NB Senator Sanders provides clips of his interactions with public figures, on news media programs, and with his constituents on YouTube, yet he did not provide this interview through His YouTube account. Perhaps he did not want to present a discussion which cast his rhetorical skills and arguments for socialist policies in a poor light.)

Socialist Bernie Sanders: Hillary's Left-Wing Challenger

Socialist Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
In his first appearance on "Meet the Press", Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders announced that he is mulling a 2016 Presidential Bid.

At least he's honest about his ambitions.

Now serving his second term in the US Senate, one of the most liberal, if not outright Leftist, votes in the upper chamber, his run would represent the frustrations of hard-core progressives and young idealists whose hopes for change have been crushed by the constitutional professor turned President, who learned that governing faces tough political realities in the American constitutional framework.

Sanders faces an immediate challenge if he choose to run as an Independent: without a major party based to stand on in the fifty states, he will have to build his own party structure and campaign, like constructing a plane and flying it at the same time: no easy feat.

Even in liberal California, Republican candidates (however liberal or moderate) ascend in the top-two primary precisely because of a larger, more stable ground game, even if their chances of winning remain slim. Independents, no matter how ardent the enthusiasm of their supporters, find that mobilizing volunteers and voter strength proves daunting, and oftentimes insurmountable.

Twice Sanders acknowledged that he had to decide that issue. Would he run as an Independent or a Democrat, and clearly to the Left of Hillary Clinton, who for all intents and purposes is running, minus the formal declaration. Sanders would upset any Democratic Presidential candidate's chances in 2016, peeling away the frustrated yet easily motivated liberal-progressive-left turnout from the mainstream candidate.

For the first time in a mainstream political forum, a moderator referred to an Establishment Democratic Party in contrast to a more active, ideologically honed section of the party. The Tea Party to the left is mobilizing, and may immobilize Democratic chances in 2014 and 2016. The narrative is changing swiftly now, away from the chronic, over reporting of conflicts within the Republican Party. Progressives in New York and throughout New England are troubling the statewide Democratic counterparts, with counterproductive policies taxing an already overtaxed revenue base.

That Vermonters settled for an openly, self-avowed socialist as their US Senator should trouble pundits. The Green Mountain State is not just a petri dish for socialist policies, but the end results of the same, including a bankrupted health care system, with legislative attempts to enact single payer failing to gain even Democratic votes. A rampant heroin epidemic in the region has worried the governor, who is looking forward to a comfortable reelection this fall.

Sanders, like his more progressive Democratic colleagues in the US Senate, decried the Citizens United SCOTUS decision with unjustified hyperbole: "One of the worst court cases in American history." Readers with a general knowledge of US (and particularly) judicial history would single out Dred Scott v. Sandford which practically rewrote the Constitution to permit human slavery in every state, overriding decades of forged Congressional compromise. Korematsu v. United States upheld the legality of indefinite internment of Japanese-Americans, another shameful legal ruling overturned thirty years later. Other decisions (Roe v. Wade, Kelo v. New London, Connecticut) have disturbed constitutional scholars for their blatant rejection of the Bill of Rights, word and spirit.

Tom Steyer
Launching into a patterned rant against the Koch Brothers, who are spending millions of dollars in campaign ads,  Sanders conveniently ignored the influence of left-wing billionaires, names which moderator Chuck Todd brought to Sanders' attention. As for the suggestion that the Koch Brothers' financial influence is staggering compared to left-wing politicizing, the statistics could not be clearer. Aside from Sheldon Anderson and William Ackman's staggering personal investments in lobbying, left-wing Tom Steyer funded a climate change filibuster in the US Senate, and he has pledged huge sums to defeat Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott. founder George Soros has pushed millions into left-wing causes, and for more than ten years. Politifact confirmed that the majority of active billionaire campaign funders donate to Democratic causes, too.
Left-Wing Billionaire George Soros

As for the effects of financing in political campaigns, look no further than the sudden defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who outspent his Republican primary opponent ten-to-one, yet still lost by ten points. The issue which motivated Virginia voters to oust their incumbent Congressman? His neglect of constituent concerns, plus his aggressive push for amnesty. The very voter anger which Sanders claims that President Obama has ignored, broke out in full flare and pushed out a pro-amnesty advocate in the House.

And on that issue of mobilizing voter frustration, a theme which Sanders emphasized that the President had failed to harness, the Vermont Senator refused to explain why the causes of voter frustration (shrinking middle class, unequal income distribution), The very socialistic policies championed by Sanders and his coterie (forcing the minimum wage, bureaucratized health care, prolix tax codes) have aggravated a sluggish economy. Not once did Sanders acknowledge that Obama's decision not to push so hard to the Left is precisely why this country is not as bad off as it could have been. Cap and Trade, sponsored in the House to die in the US Senate, would have crushed poor and working families with higher energy costs. Obamacare has made health care inaccessible because of expense and rationing. Minimum wage hikes have pushed more young and minority workers out of the entry-level job market.

Sanders wants to harness voter angst with both political parties, yet his Independent democratic socialism would all make matters worse. Chuck Todd deserves some credit for questioning the  Vermont Senator's hollow slights against the Koch Brothers while ignoring left-wing billionaires, and his unrelenting push for Sanders to distance himself from Hillary Clinton indicates that the Democratic Party now has its own Establishment v. Grassroots conflict to iron out in the years to come. With Sanders running as an Independent in 2016, he would scuttle Democratic chances at winning the White House, while offering Tea Party conservatives a stronger change to redefine the political process toward limited government and less corporate cronyism as a defining factor in federal politics.

Sanders' potential bid for President could drag down Hillary  (and the Democratic Party's) chances in 2016

Chuck Todd Presses Bernie Sanders on "Meet the Press"

File:Chuck Todd2.jpg
Chuck Todd
This morning,  newly minted Meet the Press host Chuck Todd interviewed first-time guest Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist who caucuses with the Democratic Party in the US Senate.
Citing that Sanders could run to Hillary Clinton's left and upset her chances for nomination and election in 2016 (if Hillary chooses to run), Todd asked him the practical, political question: will you switch parties and become a Democrat?

Well, I am the longest serving Independent serving in the history of the United States Congress. That's how I have always won in the state of Vermont.

For background, Todd had informed voters that Sanders had served as mayor of Burlington Vermont, followed by eight terms in the House of Representatives, then his election to the US Senate in 2006.

US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sanders continued:

I am thinking about running for President, and the issue is if you run as an Independent, with the necessity of setting up a fifty-state infrastructure, running as a Democrat, that is something I'm looking at right now.

When Todd pressed him on whether he had ruled out running as an Independent, Sanders clearly affirm that he has not made up his mind on that issue yet.

The reason I am going to Iowa is to get a sense of how people feel about it. The truth is, profound anger at both political parties, more people  are becoming Independent. . . the negative is, how do you set up a fifty-state infrastructure and run as an Independent.

Referencing his former mayoralty's city paper, Todd read out the frustrations of progressives looking for a Presidential candidate who stand up to Wall Street, tackle poverty, and also block cuts to federal entitlement programs (Social Security).

Alluding the rift on in the Democratic Party emerging between the progressives and Wall Street affiliates, Todd offered that Sanders would run because Clinton would not fulfill the progressive wish list.

Sanders countered cautiously, like any politician mulling a Presidential run:

Well, A, I don't know if Hillary Clinton is running. B, I don't know what she's running, but this is what I do know. I know that the middle class in this country is collapsing. I know that the gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is widening. There is profound anger at the greed of Wall Street and Corporate America. anger at the political establishment, and by the way, at the Media establishment.

Then Sanders echoed the same sentiments which anger partisans had heard in 2008

The American people want real change, and I've been taking on the big money interest, the special interest all my political life.

Still pressing Sanders on whether he thinks that Hillary is left-wing enough, the Senator demurred:

The issue is not Hillary. I've known Hillary Clinton for many years. I have a lot of respect for Hillary Clinton. The question is, at a time when so many people have seen a decline in their standard of living, when the wealthiest people and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well, the American people want change. The want Congress, they want candidates to stand up to the big money interests. So, let Hillary speak for herself, I know where I'm coming from.

Refusing to call her out directly, Sanders put himself as the new leader on the populist Left against Hillary Clinton and her party (which may become his party if he chooses to run)

Listing all the frustrations of the American People, Todd surmises that Sanders is upset with President Obama.

President Obama has done some very good things. I think the level of obstructionism he is having to face is unprecedented in American History, and in some areas I clearly disagree with him. I think he should have understood from day one that the Republicans were not going to cooperate with him. I think he should have gone to the people in a more aggressive way and said" You know what, the American people want to raise the minimum wage. We need millions of people to come to Washington and demand us do that. You just can't sit in a room and negotiate with people who choose not to negotiate.

Trying to buoy his searing criticism for the President, Sanders retreated:

I think he has been right on some of his ideas. I was on the floor of the Senate for eight and a half hours because I disagreed with his continuing tax breaks for the rich. But the bottom line is he has not tapped the anger and frustration that the American people feel on many, many issues. The only way we bring about change is when the American people become mobilized.

Now this coming election, 60% of the American people are not gonna vote. The Koch Brothers and the other billionaires are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars. That is not a way you bring about change. You mobilize the American People.

Without fanfare, Todd oblique Sanders' anti-Koch rant with allusions to the left-wing billionaires (mentioning Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg) in this country. Would the Independent Senator take their money?

I think Citizens United will go down in history as one of the worst US Supreme Court  decisions ever. It is opening up the road to oligarchy in the United States of America, where the billionaires like the Koch Brothers . . .

Todd asked for clarification -- left or right?

Left or right, but it's mostly right. let's be clear.

Tom Steyer
Sanders' assertion that the right-wing, or rather libertarian-leaning Koch Brothers are buying elections is suspect, based on the heavy spending from the billionaires like gun-control advocate Michael Bloomberg and environmental activist Tom Steyer. Left-wing billionaire George Soros has spent massive sums in political activism as well.

The Koch Brothers are going to spend four hundred million dollars. You know what they believe in? Let me tell you what they believe in. This is what they told us. They want to end Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. They want  more tax breaks for the rich, large corporations. Nobody in America wants that except the billionaire class, and  now they are able to put hundreds of millions of dollars into the political process. This is a real danger to American democracy.

Todd then asked if the Democratic Party was open to a progressive like Sanders (suggesting that he would switch parties to run an effective Presidential campaign with an infrastructure already in place):

Let me shock you by saying this. I don't think it's just the Democratic Party. I think whether the people are Democrats, moderates, or conservatives, there is a profound anger at understanding that the middle class is disappearing. Millions of people are working longer hours for low wages, that 95% of all new income has gone to the top 1%. That's not just a Democratic issue. In Vermont, I got a lot of Republican votes.

Still trying to find our whether the Democratic Party stands today, closer to him or closer to Clinton, Sanders ducked the question:

I think anybody who speaks for the needs of the working class, the middle class in this country, and shows the courage to take on the billionaire class, that candidate will do pretty well.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Carmen Velasquez: No Votaré Obama

Carmen Velasquez
Illinois Latino immigration activist Carmen Velasquez is fed up.

Her hopes have been dashed, and the changes she was expecting never arrived.

President Obama has been one big disappointment. In her latest column to, Velasquez mulls doing to Obama what white conservatives did in 2012: sit out the election, and let their would-be, used-to-be Democratic Party standard bearer fall on his own petard.

Even before Obama ran for President, she refused to honor him as any kind of hero:

When Barack Obama and I last sat down in 2006, I refused to shake his hand. Today, I still won’t. His announcement last weekend that he would delay executive action on immigration is his fifth broken promise to Latinos on this all-important issue for our community. He has been blind to the pain of the 1,100 deportations our communities face every day and the anguish our families feel as they are swung back and forth as political pawns.

In 2006, US Senator Barack Obama was riding the wowed crowds of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where he stole the show from the blue-blooded, cold-handed Presidential nominee John Kerry. His ascendancy to the podium prepped him as the media-hyped Presidential candidate who would sweep a nation on an anti-Big Government, anti-Republican tidal wave in 2008.

We are the change we have been waiting for.

Velasquez was not impressed then, and she still is not, since the change she has been waiting for has not materialized.

Stumping for US Senator Obama in 2004, Velasquez believe that he would move on immigration reform and great amnesty to millions of (Mexican) illegal immigrants in the country. He disappointed her time and again, first giving into the majority sentiment of his caucus and the country, which favored security first before other measures.

Outlining five times where the President betrayed a promise to expedite Latino amnesty, Velasquez does not hold back her bitterness. Yet like many true liberal believers (making the best of limited options, as all  American voters must), Velasquez voted for Obama, trusting that in the first one hundred days, he would enact comprehensive immigration reform, a modern day Nueva Accuerdo (New Deal).

Obama reneged on his promises for immigration reform
five times.

And it didn't happen when he had supermajorities in both chambers of Congress. Focusing on elite, progressive interests (Cap and Trade, universal health care), President Obama brushed aside immigration reform, and ignored the interests of the Latino wave which went for him two-to-one in 2008. She further slammed the President for deporting more illegal immigrants than all other Presidents (particularly President Bush).

Despite this glaring setback (or betrayal), Velasquez and Latinos throughout the country rallied for Obama, and he won reelection,  though contrary to her uninformed partisanship, it was not the brown vote, but the lack of a white vote which put Obama back in the White House.

Come 2013, and even when the bipartisan US Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill (by 68 votes, missing their threshold goal by two), the more populist (and accurate) House ditched the bill. The popular political beat was actually against amnesty, and the illegal immigration youth crisis emerging along the Southern US border has turned off voter support for any pathway to citizenship or staggered amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Nevertheless, Velasquez' the clinician wants the promise fulfilled:

This year, Obama promised us action on immigration at the end of spring. Then he promised movement after the summer recess, when federal lawmakers returned to Washington. Now, he promises to take up the issue after the November elections.

Her brazen insouciance to Obama's extralegal executive orders should disturb any serious activist eager for reform. What good is immigration to a better country, when the rule of law is as superficial and meaningless there as in one's home country? Does Velasquez not realize that the incremental dismantling of American citizenship and its privileges will do more harm than good, even for the illegal immigrants? Still, she vents her frustration with a President's piecemeal, lawless acts, which have done very little to appease her amnesty demands.
Lie to me once, shame on you. Lie to me five times, what do you expect us to do? Obama and the Democrats who supported and encouraged him have little credibility among Latino voters. Obama may have done more to suppress the Latino vote through broken promises than any hostile action taken by the Republicans.

This turn of discernment cannot be ignored. Where the Tea Party movement broke with the mainstream Republican, today there now emerges on the Left, unmitigated immigrant partisans running out of patience with their President to enact a broad amnesty. The amnesty issue had created a rift among Republicans during the Bush Administration (between Big Business and conservatives). Now the rift is breaking  apart the once strong coalition forged by Obama six years ago, between conservative (vulnerable)  Democrats and fiery advocates who .

For all the lies professed and exposed from the Obama Administration ("If you like your doctor, your health care plan, your privacy, your well-spent tax dollars, your guns, etc ,you can keep them") her deepest grievance rests on Obama's delaying an extension of non-deportations. From his promises as a Senator to his speeches before immigration groups and on the campaign trail, to his two promises to enact on amnesty before and after Congress' summer session, Obama has not delivered.

 Recognizing that Obama's political calculation to delay amnesty announcements to protect vulnerable Democratic US Senate incumbents in red states, Velasquez indicates that he may harm otherwise safe incumbents in more blue states.

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois Reps. Brad Schneider and Bill Foster — all Democrats who have kept their promises to the Latino community and consistently supported reform — will face reelection and risk losing if disaffected Latinos refuse to show up at the polls.

Why will these loyal Democratic voters not show up, in Velasquez' opinion? They will be worried about losing loved ones, likely to be deported because of Obama's executive inaction. Convinced of the ongoing disrespect from the White House toward immigration activists, the medical clinician concedes that perhaps President Obama's party will have to lose the Senate, seats in the House, and key governorships in order to take them seriously.

Whether such a measure would provoke attention from the President, Velasquez' intentional inaction represents the enthusiasm gap which plagues Democratic chances in 2014. The Millenials who supported him in 2008 starting turning on the President in 2010. In 2011, as Obama was preparing for his 2012 election, Illinois immigration activists declared their waning enthusiasm for President Obama's lack of change in immigration policy:

As he launches his reelection bid, President Obama needs to address the issues Latinos and immigrants care about—including stopping the deportations of students and hardworking immigrants and the separation of their families. Without addressing this important issue, the question whether Latino and other immigrant voters will support him in 2012 remains unanswered.

He did not address these concerns, apart from a flawed executive order of non-importation for youth under thirty who had lived in the country for sixteen years, attending school, with no criminal record. Immigration lawyers still reasoned for caution, since the order had no legal standing or certainty behind it.

Still, the Democratic Party has a comprehensive, disillusioned electorate with no interest in voting, or not as strong as key constituencies had turned out in 2008 and 2012, including Latino voters. When the liberal-leaning Washington Post tells the President that there is an enthusiasm gap, underneath the euphemism one should read "chasm".

Another Illinois Latino, Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez, called out his Democratic Party for dropping the immigration reform when they had the best chance of enacting it, the same time when the President was pushing Obamacare:

There was a majority of Democrats in the House. There was a majority in the Senate. We failed, the Democratic Party failed, the administration failed, we failed as a party to get it done.

Adding to Gutierrez' sad admission, Carmen Velasquez has articulated the "No Votaré Obama" sitzkreig with careful rhetorical flair. If Latinos do sit out Election 2014, combined with the rising GOP enthusiasm to take back the US Senate and push back the aggressive, progressive (yet highly regressive) Obama-Agenda, the President and his party have more to worry about than they can possible import.

With immigration reform still a low priority for voters, particularly with Latino voters, now coupled with the immigration crisis, crumbling national security and prestige at home and abroad, plus the flagging economy, Democrats will face another shellacking, this time striking both houses of Congress.
Irronically enough, the Democrats will have the Latino vote (or rather, non-vote) to credit for their dismal performance this November, stated with clear vehemence by liberal Latinos like Carmen Velasquez, who has declared No votaré Obama in 2014.
Obama may lose key support from Latinos who don't vote in 2014


Where Was Torrance in Congressional Politics? 1980s

Continuing my exploration of the Congressional districts, locating where Torrance fit within the California delegation, I found that in the 1980s, the state legislature gerrymandered districts so monstrously, one wonders how anyone put up with such distortions.

Once again, the city of Torrance was divided, but into two parts instead of three.

In the 1980s (From 1983-1993), the California delegation grew from 43 to 45. Not as much gain as in prior decades.

Looking over the Congressional maps from the 1980s, one finds that Torrance was divided into North and East Torrance, joining with the Beach Cities, Inglewood (!), all the way up to Santa Monica and Topanga.

West and South Torrance (190th to Crenshaw) joined with Palos Verdes, then a long strip of land along the port of Los Angeles, including Signal Hill and Cypress, all the way down to Huntington Beach.

Just listing the cities, and the wide expanse of space, is disconcerting.

District 27 (North and East Torrance)

For the state records with the new map, check here.

Mel Levine.png Mel LevineDemocraticJanuary 3, 1983 – January 3, 1993Western Los Angeles (Manhattan/Redondo Beach, Santa Monica)Retired

Mel Levine

Mel Levine's picture
Mel Levine was born in Beverly Hills, currently lives in Santa Monica, serves as legal counsel in California and Washington, DC.

Pro-Israel, supporting a strong foreign policy (he voted for war authorization in Iraq (Operation Desert Shield, Desert Storm), he accumulated a far-left wing voting record in Congress notwithstanding.

Last month, Levine was appointed by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti as president of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, LA Department of Water and Power.

Choosing not to run in 1992 (redistricting removed Inglewood and took in all of Torrance for an entirely new district), Levine ran for US Senate, losing the Democratic primary to Barbara Boxer (who then won the seat)

One of the interesting aspects about the 1980s CD-27 gerrymander is that a liberal Jewish congressman represented the predominantly black Inglewood area for a decade.

GOP operatives took advantage of this trend, who targeted Levine as an arm of the corrupting Berman-Waxman West LA machine:

Racism Charged: Speaking of the 27th, [1990 Republican Congressonial candidate David Barrett] Cohen has provoked an angry rebuke from Levine by sending out a campaign mailer that portrays the incumbent's Westside political machine as racist.

Addressing black voters in Inglewood, the mailer says Levine and other members of the liberal Waxman-Berman machine "take you and your vote for granted and treat Inglewood like a voting plantation for Mel Levine."

The 27th was redrawn to include part of Inglewood just before Levine made his first run for Congress.

 This statement from Levine was too much to ignore:

Levine brands the mailer "an unfortunate effort by a desperate political candidate to dream up some wild charges." Terming his record on civil rights "solid," Levine adds: "He is suggesting I am a liberal racist, which is an absurd and outrageous charge."

Apparently, he never  met Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and he forgot LBJ's invidious remarks about his Great Society agenda: "We'll have those n--ggers voting for us for the next 200 years."

South Bay politics was a heated affair then and now, and even though Westside progressive Henry Waxman did not represent the South Bay until the 2012 election, his machine's influence carried the Democratic ticket into the region long before.

District 42 (West and South Torrance)

This district was huge, even larger than Dana Rohrabacher's 45th district in the 2000s.

Here's the Torrance/Palos Verdes Section of the district.

Here's the Long Beach/Signal Hill portion of the district.

Here's the North Orange Country section.

Here are the Congressmen who represented West and South Torrance in the 1980s:

DanLungren 2009.jpg Dan LungrenRepublicanJanuary 3, 1983 – January 3, 1989Los Angeles (Palos Verdes), northwestern OrangeRedistricted from the 34th district, Appointed acting treasurer
Dana Rohrabacher.jpg Dana RohrabacherRepublicanJanuary 3, 1989 – January 3, 1993Redistricted to the 45th district

Once again, the Republicans who represented Torrance were part of an all-star line-up, or the "Who's who" of California Republicans.
Dan Lungren

Lungren was a force to be reckoned with in Long Beach politics for years (Yes, believe it or not, Long Beach was a Republican stronghold for decades too).

Lungren served in Congress from the late 1970s to the late 80s, then receiving the nomination for state treasurer from Republican Governor George Dukemeijan.

Lungren gave up his house seat, which went to fellow conservative Rohrabacher. Sadly, Lungren lost the nomination, but later he was elected state Attorney General (1990, 1994), then lost the 1998 Governor's  race to Gray Davis (recalled in 2003)

On the issues, he was a strong social and fiscal conservative. He supported punishing business for hiring illegal immigrants, although he also favored guest worker permits for foreigners.

Tough on crime and illegal drugs, Lungren presided over California's first execution in twenty years.

Falling behind the liberal trends catching up all over California, Democratic gubernatorial challenger Gray Davis painted Lungren as too conservative for California. After Lungren's unsuccessful run for Governor in 1998, he ran for Congress again, this time in North California.

Lungren's return led to four more election wins, until redistricting in 2011 pitted him against local doctor Ami Bera a second time, and Lungren lost.

Dana Rohrabacher


Rohrabacher is to Orange County, California what Lincoln is Illinois: inseparable in identity.

A strong conservative on all issues (including immigration, and moreso than his previous colleague Lungren, in my view), Rohrbacher submitted legislation which would prevent illegal immigrants from receiving emergency room health care. He also authored legislation which would deny social security to illegal immigrants.

He should have focused on requiring citizenship for enrollment in a public school.

During the 1990 Congressional campaign, Rohrabacher faced a slew of attack ads for cutting funding to the National Endowment of the Arts as well as support for oil-drilling off the California Coast:

Would-be political giant-killers, seeking the maximum bang for their limited campaign bucks, are turning to cable television.

In the 42nd Congressional District, arts supporters upset with U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's drive to rein in the National Endowment for the Arts are putting the finishing touches on two cable ads targeting the Lomita Republican. [Wow! Lomita!]

The ads, tentatively set to air starting Oct. 20, do not address the NEA debate. One features a recent Money Magazine voting comparison that gives Rohrabacher an "F" on economic issues.
Another takes Rohrabacher to task for recommending new oil drilling off the California coast. The script calls for shots of the oil spill this year off Huntington Beach that came ashore in Orange County. The voice-over calls Rohrabacher a congressman "the California coastline can't afford."

Despite the attack ads, Rohrabacher remained in the 42 district with a comfortable voting margin term after term. A strong anti-communist during the Cold War, the OC rep highlighted his efforts pushing out the Russians in the late  1980s: "I was Vladimir Putin's worst nightmare."

At any rate, he stands his ground (then and now) on issues, and commands a great deal of respect. During his tenure in the 2000s, he confronted Mexican consulate authorities on Catalina Island for handing out identification cards listing American legal status.

One of his reasons for condemning this practice:

“Where you have illegal immigration, crime and drugs are sure to follow.”


Today, Rohrabacher is situated in the safely Republican 48th Congressional District. If population trends continue more dramatically in the next decade, with fewer house seats to apportion, and the OC Republican remains in office, his district might encompass key portions of Torrance once again.