Thursday, September 6, 2012

Democratic National Convention: Day Two Recap

After two nights of both conventions being down, the score is:

Democrats: 2
Republicans: 0

And if you broke down the scores it isn't even close. Elizabeth Warren and Bill Clinton came out and made great cases for why the Democrats should not only retain the White House, but gain back control of Congress. Just watch their speeches for yourself

Here's the future junior senator from Masschusetts:

And here's Bill Clinton's hell of a speech:

Tonight Barack Obama will accept the nomination as Democratic candidate for President of the United States. Obviously his speech will be the most anticipated, but there are several other speakers to look forward to, such as Vice President Joe Biden and the always fun Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer.

As always, we'll be keeping up with the convention on twitter.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Democratic National Convention: Day One Recap

First Lady Michelle Obama

The first day of the Democratic National Convention was a good start, as there were many good speeches and a great tone in general. Compared to the RNC, which felt like a halfhearted meeting at a country club, the DNC was much looser, much smoother, and a much better representation of the United States as a whole.

If the day had any sort of theme, it was that the Democratic party is proud of Obamacare. Although two years late, it appears the party has finally gotten around to figuring out how to sell what is a complicated, flawed, but ultimately very beneficial piece of legislation.

Unlike the RNC, the speakers at the DNC actually seemed enthusiastic about supporting their candidate. They spent much more of their time speaking about President Obama and what he can do if re-elected, rather than blathering on about themselves. There were many great speeches from earlier in the night, such as former Ohio governor Ted Strickland, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and NARAL President Nancy Keenan. Even Harry Reid's speech was effective, if not quite the barnburner as later ones would be.

However, the best speeches by far were the last two. The keynote speaker was San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. His speech reminded us of Barack Obama's speech at the 2004 DNC in Boston. Be watching for his name, as he is clearly going to be a major player in the Democratic party of the future. Unlike

If his speech was the last speech night, it would have been an unqualified success. However, Castro's speech was just a warm up for First Lady Michelle Obama. After such a successful night of speeches, the pressure was on her to deliver.

And deliver she did. It was a speech by a woman that clearly loves her husband, her President, and her country. It rebuked every thing the RNC tried to say about Democrats and President Obama, and did it all without being mean or without directly attacking Mitt Romney. In essence, it made a most compelling case for the President's reelection.

So now the bar is set for former President Bill Clinton and current President Barack Obama. Given their track record, I think they'll both do alright. We'll have to see if that is true.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day (and a few words about the Conventions)

We here at August Prairie wish all of you a happy Labor Day. Please think about all the labor movement in America has brought us, from the two day weekend to the forty hour work week. And of course, for some, dental plans.

We know we never provided a recap of Day Four of the RNC, but we didn't get to see any of it, and frankly what is there to say about Romney's speech? It was dull, it was bland, and it was unremarkable. It was also overshadowed by an angry old man yelling at an invisible man. All in all, a fitting symbol for today's Republican party. Yep, the GOP is now nothing but Mr. Burns, Rev. Lovejoy, that crazy gun shooting Texan, and Grandpa Simpson. I think even Sideshow Bob would blanch at the current state of the Republican party (not that we want him and his monstrous feet on our side).

Stay tuned tomorrow for our coverage of the Democratic National Convention, where we promise less cries of BULLSHIT will probably be heard. Even if those may be deserved at times.

Until then, enjoy this song from one of the greatest episodes of The Simpsons. Oh, and a bit of "Classical Gas" as well.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 Republican National Convention: Day Three Recap

Three (well, two) days down, one day left to go. The big day, the one where we finally get the "tall, somewhat charming" fellow that is the GOP nominee for President. I'm guessing for his senior staff, it couldn't be a day too soon, considering how Ryan and Christie did their best to overshadow him.

However, that recap is for tomorrow. Today is about yesterday, which was all about "We Can Change That".

(Paul Ryan tells another lie about Barack Obama and Medicare)

Hmm, it appears we were interrupted by Paul Ryan. Let's hope that doesn't happen again. Anyways, night three of the convention was a showcase for some senators, a few more governors (former and current), and two really annoying Attorneys General from Florida and Georgia. With Senator John "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran" McCain and former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice speaking, it was also a night for neoconning it up in regards to Foreign Affairs. They also finally recognized that the Bushes existed, with a short tribute video that we unfortunately missed. For a second there I thought the GOP had forgotten that there was a President from their party in office between Clinton and Obama. It appears they've still forgotten about NCLB, Cutting taxes while fighting two wars, and creating Medicare Part D, as well as turning those Clinton surpluses into deficits. You gotta feel sorry for the poor saps, don't ya?

(Paul Ryan blames the 30 Year War on Barack Obama, despite the fact that it started centuries before he was President)

Ugh, will he quit that? We're getting tired of all the interruptions, even more so because they are so damn full of lies. Well, where were we? Oh yeah, we were talking about Foreign Affairs night at the GOP. Condi Rice appears to be fairly intelligent, and I doubt she believes most of the crap her party spews. Were we facing a world of the Eisenhower or Kennedy administrations, she probably would be an excellent foreign affairs specialist. But like a lot of her peers in that field, they were trained for a world with the USSR, and just can't handle that it is gone. They can't work without that black hat to glare at. As we saw in Iraq and may yet see in Iran and/or Syria, this confusion and angst has caused us great problems. But hey, the speech was entertaining and probably the least offensive thing spewed forth by a professional political figure at the convention.

(Paul Ryan takes what was Republican obstruction over the debt ceiling, and blames it on President Obama)




OK, we're better now. We've muted any way Paul Ryan could interrupt us, and we've triple locked the doors, so he won't try to come in and interrupt as well. Now back to the coverage. Man, wasn't Pawlenty and Portman both boring and disingenuous. A real winning combination there, ain't it. And of course there was also Mike Huckabee, and the birther Attorney General from Georgia, and that governor of New Mexico who balanced her budget without raising taxes (in part with Federal monies, but she forgot to mention that). I'm sure she's working real hard to get that blue meth off of the streets of Albuquerque.

And now on to the centerpiece of the night, the speech by Paul Rya-

(Paul Ryan tells same lie about Barack Obama and Medicare from before)


OK, enough of this crap, that's all for this recap. See you tomorrow for the recap of Mitt Romney's speech. I'm sure Chris Matthews will love it, then five minutes later hate it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 Republican National Convention Recap: Day Two

The theme for Day Two (effectively Day One) of the Republican National Convention was "We Built It". To me, that seemed like an odd choice, as it sounds awful close to the Obama campaigns theme. Of course, what they really mean by it is "I Built It", a response to the incorrect assumption based upon heavily edited comments from Obama that made it look like he said small business owners didn't build their company.* If you were to pick the theme based upon the small business owners that spoke yesterday, the appropriate theme would have been "We Built It with Government Assistance and Contracts".

Another theme would be "We're the Republican governors, and we'd make MUCH better Presidents than this idiot." These governors liked to tout their record, while trying to make the contrasting point that Obama is a failure. On top of that balancing act, they also had to say all of this in spite of either contradictory evidence, or the fact that their state's revival was due in part to Federal funds or the auto bailout.

The crown jewel of these governor speeches was the keynote address by New Jersey governor Chris Christie. In many ways it resembled the speech given by then Illinois senate candidate Barack Obama in 2004, albeit with a meaner and more divisive tone.** Effectively it was a speech that touted the speaker far more than the Presidential candidate it was supposed to support. The result was a speech that overshadowed Mitt Romney, who was clearly not impressed by it as he sat there watching it awkwardly. There is little doubt that Christie's speech was more about launching his 2016 GOP nomination campaign.

Looking forward to tonight's line up, it appears there will be plenty more governors speaking, as well as a cavalcade of senators. This all will lead up to the speech by the Republican candidate for Vice President Paul Ryan, where I assume he will try to play down his own budget ideas, while totally winking to the crowd that he still will push for those ideas.

Like last night, we here at August Prairie will be live tweeting about the convention, so if you haven't followed us yet on Twitter, please go do so now. We'll wait.

As for Thursday, it is unlikely that there will be any live coverage, at least not early in the evening. Real life has imposed itself, and we'll be on the road for much of the day. Hopefully we'll be back to cover the main event, which will be the speech by the candidate himself. No matter what, we'll definitely have a recap of at least that speech come Friday.

*Obama was talking about roads, bridges, and helpful teachers, the GOP likes to cut that part of his speech out. Note that they don't show the video of him saying it, as that would clearly show the editing job.

**It also wasn't anywhere near as great as a speech as the 2004 DNC speech. You can't doubt Christie's energy, though. You can doubt his sense in killing needed infrastructure upgrades, while giving away large tax breaks to the wealthy in NJ.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2012 Republican National Convention Recap: Day One

Thanks to Tropical Storm Isaac, which at one time appeared to be heading straight for Tampa, but instead is heading much farther west, the first day of the RNC was rather short. Nevertheless, in just about five minutes of time it already had me wondering if covering this Klassic Komedy Kavalcade* is a good idea.

Perhaps it was those annoying "debt clocks"** that they had, including one that started when RNC Chair Reince Priebus*** gaveled the session to order (before immediately adjourning until later today). Perhaps it was the blinding whiteness of hundreds of puffy red faced middle aged men and women that was giving me a headache. Whatever it was, I was not looking forward to day two.

At least Trump won't be showing up, so there's that.

Stay tuned for more as the day continues.

*As there will be plenty of dog-whistles being used in the speeches this week, I figure I'd use a not so subtle half-assed Simpsons reference in response.

**Seriously, where the hell were these clocks when St. Gipper the Jellybean King Reagan and Bush 43 were loading up our deficits? Oh that's right, debt is bad only if a Democrat is President.

***When your party chair's name sounds like either a) a tertiary character from Star Wars or b) a shampoo used to wash the mane of the Romney's dressage horse, you probably are going to have some problems. I know, I know, this is glib and unfair. Because the GOP has never made fun of the President's name.

How we got here, Part 2: 1824

Remember how I said that 1796 was the beginning of two party politics in the United States? Well, it was, but only the first beginning. You see, after 1800, the Federalists, always little more than a minority party primarily centered around the elites of New England, started to wane in importance. Sure, they ran candidates for the Presidency up through the 1816 election, and a few held on even longer in Congress and the Supreme Court. However the party's power had diminished as Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe each served two terms. By 1820, James Monroe ran virtually unopposed for his reelection, with one elector voting for John Quincy Adams. It was the "Era of Good Feeling", and it appeared that our partisan divide had been eliminated.

Of course, just because everybody called themselves "republicans" didn't mean that they were in harmony on every issue. As the "American System", a combination of tariffs and internal improvements, was pushed by leaders such as John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay, many southern and western leaders pushed back, arguing that tariffs hurt their constituents, and that internal improvements were the domain of the states, not the Federal government. In the middle of these fights came the contentious debate over the admittance of Missouri, and the ultimate compromise which brought Maine and Missouri into the Union, and kept a nation divided over the issue of slavery together for another three decades. Everybody was a part of one party, sure, but as the 1820s dragged on there became a clear division between two factions of that party.

Thus, as the nation came together to choose it's next President in 1824, it was clear that a near unanimous vote was unlikely. In fact, quite the opposite was to occur. Four candidates won electoral votes in the race, with Adams and Andrew Jackson, a war hero and lawyer from Tennessee being the two clear favorites. Jackson won the popular vote and the electoral vote, but did not reach the necessary majority of the latter. For the second time in our country's history, a Presidential election headed to the House of Representatives.

As per Constitutional rules, only the three candidates with the most electoral votes were allowed to be selected by the House. Therefore, the House could choose from Adams, Jackson, and William Crawford of Georgia. The fourth major candidate, Henry Clay of Kentucky, was left out. However, as he was Speaker of the House, it was likely he would play a major role in the selection of the next president.

Unlike the contentious 1800 House vote for President, the 1824 vote picked a president on the first vote. The winner was Adams, who beat Jackson and Crawford 13-7-4. Clay, who agreed with Adams on his plan of tariffs and internal improvements and did not like Jackson at all, played a big role. He put all of his support behind Adams and was a big reason that the Massachusetts politician took the office his father had held previously. Whether part of a "corrupt bargain", or because Adams thought Clay was the best man for the job, Clay would become Adams' Secretary of State.

With good reason, Jackson was incensed. He had won the popular and electoral vote, albeit with pluralities instead of majorities. For him and his supporters, it was clear that Clay had bargained the Presidency for the job as Secretary of State. For the next four years this would be their rallying cry, as they were determined to right that wrong in 1828. Jackson supporters, which included a large amount of poor and middling Americans who could vote now that property restrictions were falling away, started calling themselves Democrats. Adams, Clay, and their supporters chose instead to call themselves National Republicans. Partisanship was back in America in a big way.

Next Time: Anti-Masons get their trip into the history books, as the birth of nominating conventions come about in 1832

The source for this post is the Wikipedia article on the 1824 Presidential election. Yeah, I used Wikipedia as a source. This is a little read political blog, not a scholarly paper. Also, I know for a fact that Napoleon helped Adams make his agreement with Henry Clay and Magneto.