Thursday Reads: Demographics, Anti-Science Republicans, and Biblical Views of Rape

Good Morning!!

The meme of the day yesterday was that Latino voters reelected President Obama. As usual, the role of women in the election is getting short shrift. In fact, the gender gap this year was even bigger than in 2008. At HuffPo, Laura Bassett writes:

According to CNN’s exit polls, 55 percent of women voted for Obama, while only 44 percent voted for Mitt Romney. Men preferred Romney by a margin of 52 to 45 percent, and women made up about 54 percent of the electorate. In total, the gender gap on Tuesday added up to 18 percent — a significantly wider margin than the 12-point gender gap in the 2008 election.

Women’s strong support in the swing states gave Obama a significant advantage over Romney, despite his losses among men and independents. While Obama lost by 10 percentage points among independents in Ohio, he won by 12 points among women in the state. In New Hampshire, women voted for Obama over Romney by a margin of 58 to 42 percent, while men preferred Romney by a narrow 4-point gap. Pennsylvania showed a 16-point gender gap that tipped the scale toward Obama.

Yes, Latinos voted for Obama by a wide margin, but guess what? There was a gender gap there too.

Overall Obama won three out of every four votes (75%) cast by Hispanic women and 63% of Hispanic men, a 12-point gender gap. Four years ago the gap was only four points as Obama won 64% of men and 68% of Latino women. Romney won 35% of Latino men and 24% of women.

Here’s another interesting demographic factoid: there isn’t much of a gender gap when it comes to voters wanting to keep abortion legal, and that holds true with Latinos as well as voters overall.

Exit poll results found that about two-thirds of Hispanics (66%) said that abortion should be legal while 28% disagreed. Among all voters, a somewhat smaller majority (59%) would allow legal abortions while 37% were opposed.

There is no gender gap on views on abortion among Hispanics or among all voters, according to national exit polling. About two-thirds of men (64%) and Latino women (67%) would permit legal abortion, as would 58% of all male voters nationally and 60% of women.

As Dakinikat noted yesterday, Republicans are busy trying to figure out how to attract Latino voters, who represent about 10% of the U.S. population. But they refuse to recognize the power of women voters, and they apparently haven’t noticed that overall, the majority of both men and women disapprove of Republicans using the government to control women’s bodies.

If the anti-science-and-math Republicans hadn’t disdained Nate Silver’s predictions, they could have been forewarned. On October 21, Silver wrote about the “historically” huge gender gap in 2012.

If only women voted, President Obama would be on track for a landslide re-election, equaling or exceeding his margin of victory over John McCain in 2008. Mr. Obama would be an overwhelming favorite in Ohio, Florida, Virginia and most every other place that is conventionally considered a swing state. The only question would be whether he could forge ahead into traditionally red states, like Georgia, Montana and Arizona.

If only men voted, Mr. Obama would be biding his time until a crushing defeat at the hands of Mitt Romney, who might win by a similar margin to the one Ronald Reagan realized over Jimmy Carter in 1980. Only California, Illinois, Hawaii and a few states in the Northeast could be considered safely Democratic. Every other state would lean red, or would at least be a toss-up.

IMHO, it would behoove both Democrats and Republicans to keep in mind that women are more than half of the electorate, and we are sick and tired of being pushed around.

In other news,

it came out yesterday that Mitch McConnell offered Marco Rubio the opportunity to run the NRSC for the midterm elections in 2014, but Rubio turned the job down. From Real Clear Politics:

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has been courted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to take over the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2014 midterm season, but the freshman lawmaker declined the entreaty, sources told RCP.

It might seem early to think about the next campaign cycle, but Senate leadership elections will take place in short order. And given the GOP’s losses in Senate races Tuesday night, the party is looking to make some changes.

McConnell probably hoped that Rubio could help the party with it’s diversity issues.

Rubio, a rapidly rising star in the party after his huge but unlikely victory in the 2010 election, is a favorite of McConnell’s. And as a 41-year-old Cuban-American capable of delivering some of the party’s best speeches, he’s someone the GOP brass likes to put in front of the cameras. Not only is he inspirational, but he helps the diversity-challenged party bridge several divides with voters.

What’s more, Rubio is a star fundraiser who was able to pull in hundreds of thousands of dollars for Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid, a skill that would be a boon to the Senate campaign committee. Of course, he can still be used by the NRSC to raise money, but he wouldn’t have to deal with the party’s divisive primaries as one of its leading strategists.

Much to McConnell’s chagrin — and for the second time in several months — Rubio’s career will not go in the direction that the Kentucky senator had been hoping for: When Romney was poring over running-mate prospects, McConnell was pining for Rubio, and he made his preference well known.

I just had to share this:

Dick Morris’ attempt to explain why he was so wrong in his prediction that Romney would win the election in a landslide, taking 325 electoral votes.

I’ve got egg on my face. I predicted a Romney landslide and, instead, we ended up with an Obama squeaker.

According to Morris, if Romney had won with 325 electoral votes it would have been a landslide. If Obama wins Florida, he’ll get 335 electoral votes, and it won’t be a landslide–it’ll be a “squeaker.”

The key reason for my bum prediction is that I mistakenly believed that the 2008 surge in black, Latino, and young voter turnout would recede in 2012 to “normal” levels. Didn’t happen. These high levels of minority and young voter participation are here to stay. And, with them, a permanent reshaping of our nation’s politics.

In 2012, 13% of the vote was cast by blacks. In 04, it was 11%. This year, 10% was Latino. In ’04 it was 8%. This time, 19% was cast by voters under 30 years of age. In ’04 it was 17%. Taken together, these results swelled the ranks of Obama’s three-tiered base by five to six points, accounting fully for his victory.

Morris could have done what the Obama campaign did and looked at the latest census numbers, but right wingers don’t believe in empirical evidence. But the real cause of Morris’ failure to make the correct prediction was Sandy and Chris Christie.

But the more proximate cause of my error was that I did not take full account of the impact of hurricane Sandy and of Governor Chris Christie’s bipartisan march through New Jersey arm in arm with President Obama. Not to mention Christe’s fawning promotion of Obama’s presidential leadership.

It made all the difference.

See? Morris’ mistaken prediction had nothing to do with Morris’ stupidity and the fact that he lives in the Fox News right wing bubble.

Harry Reid says he will take action to reform the filibuster rules.

From HuffPo:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledged on Wednesday to change the rules of the Senate so that the minority party has fewer tools to obstruct legislative business….

“I want to work together, but I also want everyone to also understand, you cannot push us around. We want to work together,” Reid said.

“I do” have plans to change the Senate rules, he added. “I have said so publicly and I continue to feel that way … I think the rules have been abused, and we are going to work to change them. We will not do away with the filibuster, but we will make the senate a more meaningful place. We are going to make it so we can get things done.”

I sure do hope he means that.

Finally, a longer read.

I think we all agree that the Republican Party has been taken over by right wing religious nuts who claim to take the bible literally–even though they tend to pick and choose which parts of the Bible to pay attention to and which parts to ignore.

During the past couple of years, we watched Republicans in statehouses around the the country do their darnedest to take away women’s access to abortion and even contraception.

Mitt Romney chose as his VP a man who tried to change the definition of rape and who believes that rape is just another method of conception.

A string of Republican officeholders and candidates unself-consciously revealed themselves to be utter troglodytes who had bizarre notions about rape and who were quite willing to force victims of rape and incest who were impregnated to bear their perpetrators’ offspring.

If anyone thinks Republican crazies will change their minds just because women successfully voted down Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock and Rick Berg, I think they’d be sadly mistaken. I want to recommend an article I read at Alternet a few days ago: What the Bible Says About Rape. It’s long, but a very important read. Here are the opening paragraphs:

Christians of many stripes are scrambling to distance themselves, their religion, or their God from Republican comments about rape . The latest furor is about Washington State congressional candidate John Koster, who opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest and added for good measure that “incest is so rare, I mean it’s so rare.” Before that, it was Indiana candidate Richard Mourdock, who said, “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen” backed up by Texas senator John Cornyn insisting that “life is a gift from God.” These men share the January sentiment of Rick Santorum: “the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you.”

Those Christians who see the Bible as a human, historical document have the right to distance themselves. Those who see the Bible as the unique and perfect revelation of the Divine, essentially dictated by God to the writers, do not. The fact is, the perspective that God intends rape babies and that such pregnancies should be allowed to run their course is perfectly biblical.

I am not going to argue here that the Bible teaches that life begins at conception. It doesn’t. The Bible writers had no concept of conception, and no Bible writer values the life of a fetus on par with the life of an infant or an older child. One does say that God knows us while we are developing in the womb, but another says he knows us even before . Levitical law prescribes a fine for a man who accidentally triggers a miscarriage . It is not the same as the penalty for manslaughter. Therapeutic abortion is never mentioned, nor is the status of the fetus that spontaneously aborts. Under Jewish law, a newborn isn’t circumcised and blessed until he is eight days old, having clearly survived the high mortality peri-natal period. For centuries the Catholic Church believed that “ensoulment” occurred and a fetus became a person at the time of quickening or first movement, sometime during the second trimester.

However, if we take the viewpoint of biblical literalists and treat the Good Book as if it were authored by a single perfect, unchanging Deity, then a man is on solid ground thinking that rape babies are part of God’s intentions.

As long as the Republican Party is controlled by “christians” who take the bible literally, women’s rights to autonomy are threatened. No woman should vote for any Republican as long as this state of affairs continues.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Monday Reads

Good Morning!

We’ve been watching the polls here off and on with a lot of questions as well as interest. One of the things that’s very apparent is the Gender Gap.  Nate Silver finds that its near historic highs.  It’s an interesting read with some great wonky graphs.

The large gender gap comes despite the fact that men and women’s economic roles are becoming more equal — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women represented 47 percent of the labor force as of September — and that women suffered at least as much as men in the recent economic downturn.

The unemployment rate among women was 7.5 percent as of September — up from 7.0 percent when Mr. Obama took office in January 2009.

The unemployment rate among men is higher — 8.0 percent as of September — but it has declined rather than increased since Mr. Obama took office. It had been 8.6 percent in January 2009, and peaked at as high as 11.2 percent later that year.

This suggests the gender gap instead has more to do with partisan ideology than with pocketbook voting; apart from their views on abortion, women also take more liberal stances than men on social issues ranging from same-sex marriage to gun control.

It seems that the Republican party is good at attracting white men these days. Nothing surprising there.  Just this weekend Republicans managed to insult women several times. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) appeared on Dancin Dave’s Disco Show to explain that women seeking pay equity were being taken in by trial lawyers in search of big money.

RUBIO: But just because they call a piece of legislation an equal pay bill doesn’t make it so. In fact, much of this legislation is in many respects nothing but an effort to help trial lawyers collect their fees and file lawsuits, which may have nothing to do whatsoever to increasing pay equity in the workplace.

Nasty Republican Tihadist troll Todd Akin used a dog metaphor to describe Senator Claire McCaskill.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin said Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill has fetched expansive government policies “like a dog” during her tenure in Washington.

Akin made the comparison during a fundraising event in Springfield, where he featured support from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, one of the few national Republicans still backing Akin after much of the party establishment distanced themselves from his candidacy following the controversy earlier in the race surrounding his comments about “legitimate rape.”

“She goes to Washington, D.C., it’s a little bit like one of those dogs, ‘fetch,’” he said. “She goes to Washington, D.C., and get all of these taxes and red tape and bureaucracy and executive orders and agencies and brings all of this stuff and dumps it on us in Missouri.”

So my grave site of the week news hasn’t so much to do with the find itself  but the finder. A house cat in Rome discovered a 2,000 year old grave catacomb.  The intrepid little adventurer find a very interesting burial site.

Curti and a friend were following the cat at 10pm on Tuesday when it scampered towards a low tufa rock cliff close to his home near Via di Pietralata in a residential area of the city. “The cat managed to get into a grotto and we followed the sound of its miaowing,” he said.

Inside the small opening in the cliff the two men found themselves surrounded by niches dug into the rock similar to those used by the Romans to hold funeral urns, while what appeared to be human bones littered the floor.

Archaeologists called to the scene said the tomb probably dated from between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD. Given that niches were used to store ashes in urns, the bones had probably tumbled into the tomb from a separate burial space higher up inside the cliff.

Heavy rains at the start of the week had probably caused rocks concealing the entrance to the tomb to crumble, they added.

There’s more evidence that the ones committing the voter registration fraud are Republicans.  When is some one going to arrest Reince Preibus and the folks he hired to steal elections?

But there is more to the story, as evidence emerges to document that it ties into a still-expanding nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal that  the BRAD BLOG first began reporting in late September , after we’d learned that the Republican Party of Florida had turned in more than 100 allegedly fraudulent and otherwise suspect voter registration forms in Palm Beach County. The story has continued to widen ever since, to a dozen Florida counties and several other states, now including Virginia, and even to the upper-echelons of the Republican Party itself.

If you haven’t been following this story, the man behind most of this fraud across the country is well known for committing registration fraud but as told by Preibus to hide himself well in the corporate structure so he could be awarded all these contracts to register voters.  You may remember that 4 year ago they led a witch hunt against ACORN.  Well, it appears they are much more guilty of registration fraud than ACORN.

Strategic Allied is owned by Nathan Sproul, an Arizona political consultant for Republicans whose companies have faced charges in past elections of submitting forged forms and of dumping Democratic registrations. None of the charges were proved, and Sproul continues to do get-out-the-vote work for conservative causes this election.

“We can’t speculate what happened in Virginia,” said David Leibowitz, a spokesman for Sproul, adding that the firm was fired on Sept. 28. “Anything that happened after that did not happen on Strategic Allied’s watch.”

After Sproul was dumped, the registration operation that he assembled continued working under the supervision of party officials, Spicer said. He said the workers will continue to do get-out-the-vote work until the election.

Rachel Maddow has been following this story.

What’s more, before the RNC tries to blame Sproul’s firm alone for hiring Small, let’s note that the accused describes himself as a “grassroots field director for the Republican National Committee,” though the RNC’s Spicer denies this. It’s not yet clear which of the two is telling the truth.

Also keep in mind, the L.A. Timesreported that Sproul “created Strategic Allied Consulting at the request of the Republican National Committee because of the bad publicity stemming from the past allegations.” I’ve seen some reports that this is a “new” Republican firm working with the state and national parties on grassroots activities, but it would appear Strategic Allied Consulting is new in name only.

Tonight is the final presidential debate of 2012 on foreign policy. We’ll be live blogging the debate as usual.   Here’s some potential questions for each of the candidates.  Here’s my favorite questions to put to POTUS.

  •  Drone strikes you’ve ordered against targets in Pakistan have killed, by some estimates, several hundred innocent civilians, including many children. Is this a moral strategy to defeat terrorists?
  •  You intervened to stop civilian massacres in Libya, where no U.S. national security interest was at stake. In Syria, far more people have been killed by their government, and U.S. interests are clearly at stake. America’s Muslim allies, including Turkey, are asking the U.S. to do more to bring an end to Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Why have you stayed on the sidelines?

Here’s my favorites for Chicken Mittens who managed to insult our two best allies–Japan and the UK–within a few short weeks.

  • You did not serve in the military. Did you encourage any of your five sons to serve in the military?
  • How do you plan to keep Pakistan from imploding?
  • You said recently, “America must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, and resolve in our might.” What is America’s purpose?
  • You and your running mate have no foreign policy experience. Name the three people you would listen to most on matters of foreign policy and national security if you become president.

All of Romney’s economic advisors are former Bush advisors and all of Romney’s foreign policy advisors are Bush NeoCons.  How the hell is he going to be any different?  Well, my guess is he’ll be worse.

One thing I’ve meant to cover here and haven’t yet is the so-called “Fiscal Cliff” which is basically the term for the expiration of all the Bush tax cuts along with the Obama payroll tax moratoriums that have provided stimulus recently along with some spending cuts because there’s be no ability to get a budget agreement recently.  Here’s a Q&A to get the conversation started. I’ll focus on this more after the election because it will likely give a re-elected Obama some leverage over Republicans and if-elected Romney a panic attack.

Almost everyone who pays taxes would see a hit to take-home pay in the first paycheck of January. The lowest income tax rate would rise to 15 percent from 10 percent. The highest rate would rise to 39.6 percent from 35 percent. The 25 percent, 28 percent, and 33 percent rates would rise to 28 percent, 31 percent and 36 percent respectively. Most capital gains taxes would rise to 20 percent from 15 percent. The tax rate on dividends, now set at 15 percent, would jump to ordinary income tax rates, and since most dividend taxes are paid by the wealthy, that would mean a new dividend tax rate of 39.6 percent. The exemption on taxation of inherited estates would drop to $1 million from $5 million. The tax rate above that exemption would jump to 55 percent from 35 percent.

Even many of the working poor who do not earn enough to face such taxes would take a hit when a temporary, two-percentage-point cut to the payroll tax that funds Social Security and Medicare expires on Jan. 1. In all, taxes would rise by as much as $6 trillion over 10 years, $347 billion in 2013 alone, if the Bush-era tax cuts expire along with the payroll tax cut, and Congress fails to deal with the expanding alternative minimum tax, according to the Congressional Budget Office and Decision Economics Inc., a private economic forecaster.

On the spending side, most defense programs would be sliced by 9.4 percent. Most nondefense programs outside the big entitlements — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — would be cut by 8.2 percent. Medicare would be trimmed by 2 percent. Social Security, veterans benefits, military personnel, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program would be exempt.

So, that’s my offerings today!  What’s on your reading and blogging list?


The Meme That Just Won’t Die: Hillary as VP

Here we go again. Today Michael Tomasky discusses the possibility that Hillary could switch jobs with Joe Biden. Tomasky was reacting to a snarky piece in the Washington Times, so take it with a large grain of salt. Tomasky writes:

Clinton’s positive numbers are off the charts. Biden’s are so-so—both approval and disapproval sit in the 40s. Biden’s putative asset, that he helps a bit with white working-class and Catholic voters, is even truer of Clinton, the famous drinker of shots in those proletarian Pennsylvania bars. And women—forget about it. An Obama-Clinton ticket would pulverize any Romney ticket on the distaff side (is that insulting? I’m just trying to avoid repeating the word “women” too much). It wouldn’t matter if he put Carrie Underwood on his ticket.

I know, I know. It’s silly. I can right now picture the friends reading this who will write me to say, “Mike, that’s silly.” It probably is. But here are a few points for your consideration that aren’t silly at all.

Actually, I don’t see anything silly about the idea, but then I’m “on the distaff side.” Tomasky notes that in the recent NYT-CBS poll, Romney is actually leading among women. Is it really possible that Romney has narrowed the gender gap. If so, Obama would be in big trouble.

In other words, it may well be that Romney could close the gender gap. And if he could close it to 5 points, it will be an extremely close election.

Now bring in Hillary. Forget about it. The most consistently admired woman in America over the last 20 years? The gender gap would be 20 points. And the Obama and Clinton machines fused like that—it’s like Secretariat and Zenyatta breeding. And the signal sent to Democrats and women across the country that the whole thing is being teed up for her in 2016. This would be a blowout.

And Biden, you ask? Well, the gay-marriage thing might finally have been the straw that made Obama think it’s not so great having Joe around. But don’t feel bad for him. He benefits from the fact that the White House would have to do this smoothly, which means Biden can’t possibly just be hung out to dry. So he’s going to be landing on a $300 goose-down pillow. He gets to be secretary of state—the job he’s dreamed of for years anyway!

It makes a lot of sense, but it probably won’t happen–not because it’s a “silly” idea, but because Obama doesn’t have the guts to do it. If he did, it would be a real “game changer.” Suddenly this deadly dull election season would become very exciting. And Hillary would be teed up to run in 2016.

What do you think?