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Sadly, most Americans don't realise that there are two elections every year. Most turn out for the big, glamorous selection of the president and resume hibernating upon their civic duty for four more years. Of course, this doesn't stop them from asking, "how do we get such idiots for candidates!" Well, my fellow Americans, idiot candidates rely upon people like you being politically apathetic during boring municipal elections, which allows them the opportunity to slip in at the bottom of the political ladder with little opposition, if any at all, and start working their way up.

It's one thing if you vote for an idiot and then complain about that person (and hopefully are more the wiser the next time you go to vote). However, if you complain about the idiots in office yet did nothing to prevent them from taking office...suffice it to say that I have little sympathy for you.

That said, Pennsylvania has a primary election tomorrow (May 16th). Don't be apathetic. The polls are open from 7:00AM-8:00PM and I'm picking some smart candidates (and I hope you do as well).

Mayor of Pittsburgh

Bill Peduto for Mayor


Pittsburgh City Council, District 4

Ashleigh Deemer for City Council District 4

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Is it over yet? No...it starts at 7:00AM when the polls open and ends at 8:00PM when they close (applicable to the state of Pennsylvania). Find your polling place and get there to vote within that 13 hour stretch of time!

I'm picking these candidates:

President and Vice President

Clinton/Kane 2016


United States Senate

McGinty 2016


Ballot Question

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and magisterial district judges be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they turn 75?

NO

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I wrote this eight years ago today, towards the denouement of the Clinton/Obama contest to win the Democratic Presidential nomination. Despite being ahead in the popular vote, the DNC threw Hillary Clinton under the bus and handed the nomination to Barack Obama. It was a disgusting "fuck you" to everyone who actually believed in a fair democratic system.

Now, in 2016, I have seen many complaints during the Clinton/Sanders contest about how the DNC has treated Sanders unfairly. There have been irregularities, but nothing to the degree of what happened in 2008 and nothing tied to the Clinton campaign now which could be directly tied to the Obama campaign then.

Here's the bottom line: Hillary Clinton should have been the Democratic nominee in 2008. She won the popular vote - that's how it should work. Sanders supporters are rightly justified in complaining about an overly complicated and "rigged" system, but do themselves no good by placing all of the blame on Hillary Clinton, who was a victim of this very system only eight years ago!

And let's face it: Hillary Clinton is winning the popular vote in the 2016 primaries. To maintain this lead given by common registered Democrats is to be the legitimate Democratic nominee for President. Obama could not claim this legitimacy in 2008 as the DNC handed the nomination to him. It is my hope that Sanders does not become Obama. As much as I like Sanders and wanted him to win the nomination, I can not abide a cheater. I would hope that Sanders agrees with me.

Your vote is your own. If you don't like the nominee, you don't have to vote for the nominee. Speaking only for myself, I am at peace with voting for Hillary Clinton in the general election despite voting for Bernie Sanders in the primary because she has run as clean of a campaign as possible within the constraints of a very flawed and irregular system. In the future, my hope is that we always look to the will of the people and away from the machinations of the establishment elites.
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It is finally Primary Day in Pennsylvania! Why is it that the second state admitted to the Union has to wait until April to vote for Presidential nominees? It's a mystery. Personally, I think it is because Iowa and New Hampshire are brats, but I digress...

Polls in Pennsylvania are open from 7:00AM until 8:00PM. Find your polling place and pay it a visit today. Due to a ballot question, independents get to vote in what is usually a fully closed Primary.

This is my opinion on that matter:

Ballot Question

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to abolish the Philadelphia Traffic Court?

YES

And here are my Democratic picks:

President

Bernie Sanders


Senator

Joe Sestak

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The first Tuesday of November is Election Day in the United States. If you are 18 years of age, you should be registered to vote. And if you are registered to vote, you should actually excercise your right to do so. Find your polling place, go to it and make your selections. Polls are open from 7:00AM-8:00PM in Pennsylvania.

All over the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with the exception of some local races, it is Judgefest! I'll be blunt, I'm voting for a Democratic sweep of the courts. Frankly, nothing good happens when right-wingers sit on the bench. So, my personal picks should come as no surprise:

Pennsylvania Supreme (three seats), Superior & Commonwealth Courts

Wecht, Dougherty, Donohue for Supreme Court; Dubow for Superior Court; Wojcik for Commonwealth Court

Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas

McGough, McCrady, Regan for Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas

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In Pennsylvania, Primary Election Day is the third Tuesday of May.  This year that day falls on the 19th.  You have from 7:00AM-8:00PM to get yourself to a polling station and vote.  I'm picking these candidates:

Court of Common Pleas

Hugh McGough for Court of Common Pleas

Allegheny County Controller

Chelsa Wagner for Allegheny County Controller

Pittsburgh City Controller

Natalia Rudiak for Pittsburgh City Controller

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It is the first Tuesday of November - the 4th, to be specific. Or, to be blunt: it is Election Day in the United States of America. Yes, the time of year has arrived again where the Halloween candy has been eaten (or stored in the kitchen cabinets for next year) and that stomach-ache you now feel has more to do with who may end up representing us in this great Democracy than any excessive sugar consumption. Want to be able to justify complaining about who is "representing" you in any level of government?

Go out and VOTE!

Your local races will be detailed at SmartVoter.org. Here are my picks for my little corner of the nation here in my little district in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the polls are open from 7:00AM until 8:00PM:

Governor of Pennsylvanla:

Wolf 2014

Pennsylvania State House, District 36:

None of the Above

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Here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it is primary election day. If you are registered with a political party, go forth and choose your standard bearer for the November general election. If you aren't registered with a political party, see if you've a special election or ballot question in your district needing your vote. Smartvoter.org is where I recommend you get your election overview. Polls open at 7:00AM and don't close until 8:00PM - a full thirteen hours to participate in the democratic process! Here are my Democratic Party picks for my corner of the Keystone State:

Governor of Pennsylvania

Tom Wolf for Governor

State House Representative: District 36

Erin Molchany for PA 36

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In the United States, this is what is known as an "off-off year election." That is to say that without the first tier glamour of a presidential election (as in 2012, 2008, etc.) or the second tier (off year) glamour of senate and congressional elections (2010, 2006, etc.), we the people are most likely going to see a low voter turnout. Apathy is the poison of Democracy.

VOTE!

As usual, I endorse SmartVoter.org for finding your local ballot races - because this time around it's pretty much all about the local races for most of the United States. Here are my Pittsburgh picks:

Mayor of Pittsburgh

Bill Peduto for Mayor


Pittsburgh City Council - District 4

Natalia Rudiak for City Council District 4


Ballot Question: Residence of City Employees

Shall Article 7 of the City of Pittsburgh Home Rule Charter be amended by adding the following Section? 'Section 711. Residency Requirements for All City Employees. All City employees and officials, including Police and Fire Bureau personnel, shall be domiciled in the City at the time of their initial appointment and shall continuously maintain their domicile within the City throughout their terms of employment with the City. This section shall take effect immediately upon passage. ' VOTE YES

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I actually have a lot I want to write about, but at the moment I've got "Obamacare" (the law actually called the Affordable Care Act) on the brain. And it seems I'm far from the only American in that position.

I am fine with paying taxes for healthcare - in fact, I would much prefer a single-payer system (Medicare for All). What I take exception to is being forced into lining the pockets of CEOs in the health insurance industry by a government which is supposed to be representing me. My tax dollars are already spent when I get my paycheque, but to be told after the fact that I have to use what used to be a portion of my already meager disposable income in order to purchase a defective product (and health insurance remains as such no matter how many regulations are placed on it so long as it is controlled by the profit motives of the private sector) is galling.

When I lost my job of seven years back in 2011, I got six months of health insurance as part of my severance package. After that I went without because there was no way I could absorb the hit of a $600/month COBRA payment. I am employed again, but still going without because the health insurance plan offered is horrible: it would eat up nearly 25% of my (reduced) income, not cover my daughters nor their mother and comes with hefty co-pays and fees just for taking "advantage" of the "coverage."

Since going live this week, I've been trying to give Obamacare (really, national Romneycare, but let's not stop Democrats and self-professed liberals from cheering on this republican idea passed by a "Democratic" president and House) a chance. Visits to healthcare.gov have met with error messages on the rare instances that I've not been stopped at the landing page which unhelpfully informs me that I need to stay there because I'm in some invisible queue.

With the definitive ACA site not giving me any answers, I've tried to glean what to expect in trying to square myself with this law. I don't want to end up fined and still be sans health coverage (especially since it is not clear whether or not those fines will be a flat fee or multiplied by the number of months one has neglected to pay the insurance man). The Kaiser Family Foundation's Subsidy Calculator estimates coverage for my family will cost $80 per month based on total household income (I work 40 hours per week, my partner 16). Not great, but could be worse, I suppose. Where it does get worse is if my partner decided to start working full time. In addition to the expense of putting our children in daycare when we are both at work, our household premium (according to KFF) would jump to $300/month. We make the same amount of hourly income. How is it that a 43% increase in income causes a 375% increase in one's insurance premium?

Maybe the offerings once I get into healthcare.gov will be better. I certainly hope they are. However, I remain extremely skeptical about the whole messy affair.

As for the teabaggers who have taken over the republican party and shut down the government in a childish attempt to kill a law they don't like: fuck 'em. You don't mix issues and destroy the economy and people's lives over petty ideology...unless you have a seething hatred for Democracy.

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Not only is today Primary Election day in Pennsylvania, for me it is also moving day. As of last week I officially became a homeowner (so long as I pay my mortgage on time, mind you). So, it is a busy day for me indeed. I am still voting, however - and you should too. I recommend Smart Voter for finding your local ballot.

On my local ballot, I recommend the following votes:

Mayor of Pittsburgh

Bill Peduto for Mayor


Pittsburgh City Council - District 4

Natalia Rudiak for City Council District 4

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Citizens of the United States of America: long have we suffered through asinine attack ads, lies, propaganda and pandering. We weary ones covered in word vomit now must do our civic duty - double-check the location of your polling place and the candidates on your ballot then go forth and...

VOTE!

As always, I throw in my two cents in the form of my ballot picks. Your mileage will vary...


President and Vice President

Jill Stein

United States Senator Representing Pennsylvania

Bob Casey Jr.

U.S. Representative, Pennsylvania Congressional District 14

Mike Doyle

Pennsylvania Attorney General

Kathleen Kane

Pennsylvania Auditor General

Eugene Depasquale

Pennsylvania State Treasurer

Rob McCord

Representative, Pennsylvania State House - District 22

Erin Molchany


A few parting words: no one owns your vote and it is imperative that you do not fall asleep after election day. Voting is merely one piece in the big puzzle that is citizenship in a democratic society. Even if those you voted for do not win, whomever is elected must answer to you. Never let them forget that.

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No one expects the primary election! Unless they've been looking at a calender, keeping up on the news and/or getting inundated with mailings and ads from political candidates. In any case, citizens of Pennsylvania (and any other states with primaries today - I think New York is on the list), you all know what you must go out and do today...

VOTE!

Polls are open from 7:00AM-8:00PM. Find your polling place and candidates. Here are my picks on the Democratic ballot where I live:

United States Senator

Bob Casey Jr.


United States Congress, Pennsylvania District 14

Mike Doyle


Pennsylvania State Attorney General

Kathleen G. Kane


PA State House of Representatives - District 22 Primary/Special Election

Erin Molchany


[X]In addition to voting, I encourage all Pennsylvania voters to engage in civil disobedience at the polls today. The Republican-led legislature rushed a voter ID law onto the governor's desk which he signed into law almost immediately. While the law does not go into effect until the general election in November, poll workers have been ordered to ask voters to show ID as part of a "test run" of the new law. Those who do not show ID will not be barred from voting. As such, stand with me and refuse to show your ID at your polling place. After you vote, be sure to call your representatives and tell them that this law must be repealed! Be sure as well to support the ACLU and any other groups working to bring this law to court and defeat it via the legal system.

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SchmotzerQuimby

Separated at birth?

Under the law, political mailings and phone calls are given special treatment. Regarding phone calls, many people are confused that, despite signing up for the "do not call" list, they still receive calls from political candidates vying for their votes. Many a campaign volunteer will tell you that they've been the recipient of an angry voice on the other end of the line stating, "I am on the 'do not call' list - do not call me!" Those in possession of said voices fail to understand that "do not call," as drafted only applies to telemarketers - i.e.: commercial organisations. Political campaigns are not restricted by that law, which is why the phones of voters get dialed with impunity every election season by both man and machine. Likewise, there is a list for one to opt out of receiving commercial solicitations in your mailbox. But, again, this does not apply to political campaigns.

Should I ever run for and win political office, I've decided to propose a bill limiting the number of campaign mailings a candidate can send out within any given period of time. I'd name this bill the SPAM act - "Schmotzer's Persistent Annoying Mailings" - in dubious honour of my least favourite local politician. In his campaign to fill out the remainder of Chelsa Wagner's term and win the Democratic Primary to run for his own two year term, Martin Michael Schmotzer has gone into overdrive with the resources available to him as the owner of a direct mail company, figuratively "blowing up" the mailboxes of every voter in the Pennsylvania State Legislature's 22nd district. For the past three weeks, True and I have received a near daily mailing from his campaign - usually doubled, since he seems to think that we each need our own individual slice of Schmotzer propaganda (every other campaign sending mailings sends one flyer - generally addressed to "The Warren Family" or some variation thereof).

The latest fliers coming from his campaign have been borderline slanderous against opponent Erin Molchany. In it he accuses Molchany of being "bankrolled by Big Shot Republicans" (none of whom he can name, apparently) as well as saying she sends out "hate mail" and is "supported by Extremists" (again, unnamed). On the opposite side of that particular flier, Schmotzer compares himself to other candidates with a particularly laughable chart of falsehoods and "qualification" padding. If any of his shtick is to be believed (and a quick Google search disproves most of it), one is not qualified for office in the 22nd if among other things:

  • One was not born in Pittsburgh
  • One did not live in Pittsburgh's South Hills for all one's life
  • One is not married
  • One does not have children
  • One is not a lifelong Democrat (did Schmotzer register as soon as his mother pushed him out?)
  • One is not an endorsed Democrat (more on the curiosities of his endorsement below)
  • One did not reduce school property taxes (isn't reducing taxes a Republican talking point? Why does Schmotzer hate public education?)
  • One is not a Democratic Party official (how Tammany Hall)
  • One is not a Union Member
  • One is not a small business owner (again, isn't this a Republican talking point?)

I have to be blunt: this man is pulling things out of his ass - and I really think he is doing it because the more people get to know Schmotzer, the less they want him anywhere near elected office.

Schmotzer began his political career as a member of the Baldwin-Whitehall school board from 1987-1993 and then again from 2007-2011. During his time on the board he apparently wasn't adverse to creating tension and discord and he even took a page from the John Boehner school of oratory when he made his final exit.

In between stints on the school board, Schmotzer was the Deputy Clerk of Courts for Allegheny County. In 1997, he was accused of embezzling $50,000 from the taxpayers' coffers and all but confessed to the crime when he "paid back" the money with "interest." Understandably, the Molchany campaign has reminded voters of this transgression and as far as I'm concerned, once you embezzle money you should be barred from public office. Schmotzer, of course, sees things differently. In a letter to voters in the 22nd dated April 12th, 2012, he wrote the following:

I am writing to respond to a negative mailer sent to you by my opponent staing, "Marty Schmotzer has a record too". [sic] What she is referring to is something that occurred 16 years ago. I can tell you the mailer tells of this story from one viewpoint only and does not tell the whole story. This chapter of my life went on for 9 years and was absolutely resolved with the Superior Court of Pennsylvania dismissing the case.

Schmotzer goes on to sidestep the issue for the next three paragraphs, instead choosing to trumpet his time as a school board member. One can nearly hear the jowly voice of Richard Nixon saying, "I am not a crook" as one reads this. Or, if one is of a younger generation, one could perhaps compare this to a Facebook message from an ex-lover desperately wanting to get back into your good graces. The final paragraph:

I work hard, but I'm far from perfect. On April 24th, I humbly ask for your support. I have the experience, maturity and energy to serve in Harrisburg with dignity and impact. Thank you very much.

It is true that Schmotzer has plenty of political experience. In fact, one could say that he has a damning amount of political experience. Pete Wagner apparently owes Schmotzer a favour or is being blackmailed. Again, the Pennsylvania Progressive:

Marty Schmotzer, the former Allegheny County Deputy Clerk of Courts who stole $50,000 from taxpayers and reneged on $25,000 to the IRS received but 25 legitimate votes from the Party's Exec Board to fill the special election nomination for Wagner's vacant seat (she is now Allegheny County Controller). The State Party by laws are quite clear on the procedures: fifty members vote and 26 votes are required. By the close of the voting Schmotzer had 25 votes. Here's the really amazing part of this scandal though: Burn added fifteen additional voters. Nothing in the By Laws permits this and it has never been done before.

The "powers that be" decided Marty was their man for this special election even though it'll be impossible to win. If I'm a Republican I simply pour money into direct mail and radio ads reminding voters of Schmotzer's dishonesty and run away with this seat. I could win this one with a ham sandwich. Burn seemed to think differently though and forced the guy through by packing the Board and thumbing his nose at the rules.

It seems to me that Michael Martin Schmotzer is the perfect party machine politician. And you know how I feel about those. But then again, perhaps I am too harsh. Perhaps I shouldn't see the Easter card sent by his campaign as a ham-fisted attempt at pandering (because we all know that none of his potential constituents could possibly be atheists, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.). Perhaps Schmotzer is actually a nice guy who made a few mistakes because he's clueless.

The argument for cluelessness is certainly buttressed by a phone exchange I had with his campaign less than a week ago. I received a voice mail from his campaign coordinator asking for my support. I returned the call leaving a voice mail asking to be removed from their phone list (most campaigns will acquiesce if you state that you wish to receive no further calls directly from the campaign). Instead of sweet silence, I received a call not five minutes later from a woman who had seen my number on caller ID, but who had obviously not listened to the voice mail I'd left.

She didn't even begin by identifying herself, "err...you just called here...?" There was a pregnant pause.

"Is this, the Schmotzer campaign," I finally asked, breaking the silence.

"Yes, yes it is," came an excited reply, "are you interested in volunteering?"

"No," I said, "I actually called because I want to be removed from your calling list. I will not be voting for Schmotzer for any office."

"I'm sorry you feel that way."

Others have written about less cordial encounters directly with the candidate. A post on pghlesbian.com, "Martin Schmotzer’s Ongoing Disregard For the Law," shows just how much Schmotzer has not reformed:

Today, Schmotzer came to our house and shoved a door hanger type flyer through the mail slot.

[…]

My biggest issue is how Mr. Schmotzer responded. He admitted that he did it because the door knob on “these houses” don’t accommodate his fancy hangers. He justified it. He tried to redirect me by pointing to the ACDC committeeman sitting in the vehicle nearby. He just didn’t accept responsibility. And when I didn’t back down, he walked away with a dismissive gesture.

Seriously? A man who stole $50,000 from Allegheny County taxpayers and wants us to believe he’s reformed blatantly violates federal law and doesn’t give a damn. Why on earth would anyone be foolish enough to think he would conduct himself any differently if he were elected?

He won’t. Its like an Orie/Veon entitlement mantle is already wrapped around his shoulders and we can expect either nothing or egregious conduct.

In a follow-up post it was noted that Schmotzer subscribes to the Rush Limbaugh school of apologising.

And there is the crux of why Michael Martin Schmotzer should never see the interior of an elected office ever again: entitlement. Schmotzer's entire campaign is about how he deserves whatever he wants whenever he wants it and damn anyone to hell who gets in his way - especially those pesky voters! From his pandering letters, to his blatantly false attacks on his opponents to his campaign signs with a colour scheme fit for a used car dealership touting the very Chicagoeque, "vote twice, it's okay," Schmotzer's campaign has been the sleaziest, most disgusting spectacle I have witnessed in recent memory. And even more disturbing is that the paper trail shows that he has always been like this.

As far as I'm concerned, Michael Martin Schmotzer is a wart on the arse of good government. He needs to be frozen out and permanently removed from the body politic. Let's hope the majority of voters in the 22nd agree with me tomorrow.

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Clipart Ballot BoxIn one week, on April 24th, residents across the state of Pennsylvania will go to their polling stations to cast their ballots in party primaries and/or various special elections. This election, however, will be the first statewide since the new voter ID bill was signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett on March 15th. Prior to the passage of this bill, one was required to show photo identification or merely a voter registration card only the first time one visited a new polling location. Passage of the voter ID bill now means that citizens of Pennsylvania will be required to show photo ID each and every time they go to vote.

While the law doesn't go into full effect until the November 6th general election, officials in the state will be using April 24th to do a "soft run" of the new law (see the FAQ of votesPA for more information). The reason for this "soft run" is obvious: test the pliability of the citizenry. Think about it: how many times in one day are you asked to show your driver's license? It's probably such a reflexive action at this point that you hardly notice when you do it. Supporters of the voter ID law use this to buttress their argument that such laws do not disenfranchise individuals nor place an unfair burden on the ability to vote.

What proponents of voter ID laws are missing however is that the vast majority of cases where one is required to show a driver's license or some other form of ID is when an individual is engaging in the privilege of consumerism. One procures a driver's license to engage in the privilege of driving. One displays their ID in a bar for the privilege of purchasing and consuming alcohol (one would hope not before the aforementioned privilege of driving). One displays their ID at the ticket counter outside a cinema for the privilege of attending an R-rated movie. All of these are scenarios where it is perfectly acceptable to ask for identification; they are privileges.

Voting is a right, not a privilege. To place any barriers between an individual and their right to vote is unconstitutional and un-American. Not that this bothers the Republican-lead legislature in Pennsylvania (or any other state where these laws have been passed). Under the dubious claim that they are trying to prevent fraud, voter ID laws actually have the dubious honour of depressing polling totals of groups who generally do not vote for Republicans: students, African-Americans and those pesky senior citizens who don't want Social Security turned into a Ponzi scheme. And let's not forget that there have not been any confirmed cases of voter fraud (from lack of ID or otherwise) in Pennsylvania recently or even not so recently. If I were charitable, I'd say that the Republicans were handing us a solution in desperate need of a problem. I'm not charitable though: the filthy right-wingers merely want to keep their sticky fingers clasped as tightly to the reins of power as possible - by any means necessary.

Seeing as how I'm going to be asked on April 24th to obey a law which technically does not exist yet, I've decided that I will not cooperate. When I got to vote next Tuesday, I will approach the election officials volunteering at the sign in table and, when asked to show my photo identification, I will simply reply, "no." If the officials at my polling place have been trained properly, they will likely hand me a pamphlet with a list of acceptable forms of identification and a reminder to be prepared with something from said list in November and I will be allowed to vote. If the officials aren't trained properly, they may very well tell me that I am not allowed to vote. Should that happen, I will politely tell them they are incorrect and request an election lawyer (most campaigns keep at least one on retainer along with poll watchers) to confirm this. I will not leave the polling station until I have voted.

It is a small act of civil disobedience, but I think that it is one which every Pennsylvanian should engage in, no matter what his or her political stripe. Unlikely though it may be, if it comes back that this "soft run" has proven to be more trouble than it is worth, just maybe we can be rid of these onerous attacks on our freedoms.

As a final act after voting, we should all call our so-called "representatives" in Harrisburg and tell them to repeal the bill.

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There are few things worse in politics than a true believer. I should know, because for too many years I was one of those misguided schmucks who voted for the Democrat under the delusion that I was helping to push my country in a more progressive - nay, liberal - direction. It didn't take long for the overwhelming avalanche of evidence to fall on my head, burying me in the conclusion that, indeed no, that is not how politics works. I completely washed my hands of defending the Democratic Party as an institution when Barack "Barry the DINO" Obama was selected as the nominee for the party's presidential candidate in 2008.

Those who don't dabble in revisionist history will support the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and should have been the nominee. One takeaway: apparently it is not okay for the Supreme Court to ignore the will of the voters and appoint George W. Bush as president, but it is okay for the Democratic Party to ignore the will of the voters and appoint he who lost the popular vote.

While there hasn't been a sham of a convention in Pennsylvania's race for Democratic nominee for state attorney general, I've gotten a taste of nastiness which reminded me of 2008. The two candidates vying for the nomination are Patrick Murphy and Kathleen Kane. Given that both candidates are evenly matched on the issues, I decided that I'd vote for Kane. It wasn't a difficult decision for me; as far as I'm concerned the political arena is way too much of a sausage party so I've got no qualms about engaging in an act of sexual discrimination (against my own gender, no less) and voting for the woman in the race. When I posted this declaration on my Facebook wall, it didn't take long for someone to remind me that while it is perfectly acceptable to vote for a man merely because he is black (or half-black, as the case may be), voting for someone merely because she is female is a big no-no.

It was only one individual berating me for my statement, but as the comment thread wore on, I began getting flashbacks to four years ago when I had the audacity to support Hillary Clinton's campaign for President. I was told that Kathleen Kane did not have a strong pro-choice record and that if I cared about the issue of a woman's right to choose, I should be voting for Patrick Murphy. I countered that the candidates were equal on the subject. The only difference between Kane and Murphy is that the latter is pandering in his campaign ads while the former is more aware of the job of attorney general in stating the truth in that "one does not get to pick the laws one has to uphold." The Mondale method of stating the hard, unpleasant facts during a campaign will likely lose her this election.

Apparently that wasn't enough for this person who persisted in telling me how foolish I was not to jump on with Murphy who has "a long record of defending woman's right to choose" and who is "endorsed by Planned Parenthood and NOW." I wasn't changing my stance nor was I taking the bait, which led to a slur of insults being hurled my way and an assertion that I "may as well vote for Sarah Palin," every so-called progressive's favourite right-wing punching bag. I finally shut down the conversation by stating that one can disagree with my reasons for voting the way I will, but one does not have the right to "enter my house" and insult and berate me for it. The United States is a nation filled with people who, to one degree or another, are voting for reasons others think are "stupid" or "uninformed." While one is well within his or her right to grouse about the situation within their own forum or engage in a debate to try and change the mind of another by presenting their opinion, a line is crossed when one degenerates into name-calling and attempted shaming and crass manipulation. The conversation - such as it had become - ended and the person hurling the vitriol has since dropped me as a friend on Facebook (good riddance, my friends list on that site is way overdue for a purging anyhow).

Ever since Obama's campaign in 2008, I've really come to believe the one can often glean the character of a candidate by the way his or her strongest supporters comport themselves. In 2008 Obama's most zealous supports were a nasty bunch hurling accusations of racism and flat out telling their opponents how "stupid" they were. While a candidate can not control his or her supporters, they can influence them and the Obama camp did very little - if anything - to reign in the crusade of the true believers.

While I've only encountered one incident of a Murphy supporter berating me for cheering on the opposite team, I wonder if this woman (yes, a woman was berating me for not voting for a man - woman are their own worst enemies at times) represented the exception or the rule. Murphy's early campaign advertisements have been obviously pandering - nothing unexpected there - where he trumpets how pro-choice he is. It's the same teaser that Democratic politicians have been dangling in front of women's faces for the past several decades, purporting to defend a woman's right to dominion over her own body while in actuality, Roe is all but dead. The right-wing culture warriors are winning, namely because they scare women into voting for Democrats who, instead of actually fighting back, rest on the assurance that they can merely promise to fight and in making the promise, that will allow them to maintain elected office. It is lip-service of the worst kind.

But I digress; up until tonight I hadn't seen a Murphy ad which I could qualify as nasty. However, on television this evening Murphy decided to take up a mud ball and launch it as hard as he could at Kathleen Kane. Along with my favourite Murphy-maniac's assertion that Kane isn't pro-choice enough, she's also anti-union and gave money to the campaign of Republican Governor Tom Corbett. I did some digging to try and see if these claims had any substance and have, thus far, come up empty-handed.

It seems to me that Murphy's campaign is getting desperate and is worried that pandering isn't enough, thus it is time to scare registered Democrats into line. All I could think is that I know at least one Murphy supporter who would totally approve of these tactics. Because, hey - politics ain't beanbag and who cares how you win so long as you win?

The disciples of Obama learned well.

illusionofjoy: (Default)

Over the next three days The Supreme Court is deliberating on the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The main theme being driven home by news outlets was the mass of activists which had congealed outside of the Supreme Court building. Religious groups are protesting the law under the claim that it infringes on their freedom of religion to infringe on people's freedom of self-determination. Meanwhile so-called "liberals" are out en masse to show their support for the law.

All of these people need a good, hard smack upside the head.

I can't speak for the Constitutionality of the law overall; the portions regulating the health insurance industry are well within the limits of the framing document. However, the provision of the law requiring everyone to purchase health insurance - the "individual mandate" - is the sticky portion which oversteps the bounds of what should be required of a law. Using flawed reasoning similar right-wingers' defense of requiring photo identification at the polls, proponents of the individual mandate say that anyone driving a car is required to purchase auto insurance so why should it be that someone alive shouldn't be required to purchase health insurance? Simple: just as voting is a fundamental right which one should be able to exercise with undue burden, no one chooses to be born. People can opt not to purchase a motor vehicle - driving a privilege, not a right. However, there is not one human being on the face of the planet who chose to be conceived - and once alive people have few options outside of remaining so until their natural expiration date (suicide, while an option, is still technically illegal).

Nowhere in the first ten amendments to the Constitution does it state that people have the right to be fiscally enslaved by the health insurance industry. Nor does such a statement exist in any of the subsequent amendments (though if 2/3rds of the states voted "yay" to such a thing it could come to be). The Obama administration, in bringing Romneycare to a national level has presented us with that stark reality come 2014 when the "individual mandate" kicks in. If you don't have insurance via your employer or you've neglected to purchase it individually, then you will be breaking the law. As it stands now, the only penalty for doing so is to have your tax refund confiscated, however I'm certain congress will find other ways to punish those who do not render unto the health insurance industry.

That is the main problem with the Affordable Care Act: in spite of all the needed regulation it applies to the health insurance industry, at it's core it is a huge giveaway to that industry. Millions of Americans will get coverage at the expense of losing their ability to be free of the shackles of yet another corporation. If there is one lesson which Americans never seem to learn it is that corporations do not exist for the public good; they exist only to increase profit margins. When it comes to benefiting the public, a corporation will always fail.

The Affordable Care Act, now so reviled by Republicans and so-called "conservatives" is actually the free-market compromise to socialized health care. This was the main reason that Mitt Romney, as governor of Massachusetts was willing to sign off on it at the state level: what came to be sneered at as Obamacare in it's infancy as Romneycare was an obvious boon to the big business of health insurance. What Republican wouldn't salivate at the opportunity to enrich an already bloated industry under the guise of helping Joe Lunchbox? For getting passed on a national level what Mitt Romney merely managed on a state level, Barack Obama ought to be considered the greatest Republican President to ever occupy the White House. Since he is registered as a Democrat, however, the Republican Party is in full tribal warfare mode.

It all comes down to the fact that healthcare reform was a massively missed opportunity. If Obama were the socialist his detractors accuse him of being - and I really wish he were - then he would have used his bully pulpit to push for Medicare for All (HR676; also known by the technical name "single payer"). As it stands, it took a "democrat" to pass Republican legislation on a national level. Any real hope of saving millions of dollars, cutting out masses of bureaucracy and making sure that every single American's health care is paid for without worry has been thrown out of the window.

And now the Affordable Care Act is being judged before the Supreme Court, an institution whose greatest hits include appointing George W. Bush as President and giving corporations the right to spend indefinite amounts of money politicking. I can see no good coming from whatever decision the Supreme Court reaches: either the entire law will be thrown out, lifting the good portions which actually regulate an industry which would just as soon have those who can't pay dead or the entire law will be kept, leaving the American people to be fiscal slaves - legally to boot - in service to yet another corporation.

illusionofjoy: (Default)

There are likely registered Democrats who believe there is no point in voting in the primary election this year (many may have already missed their chance regardless). Although at least two individuals - Darcy Richardson and Aldous C. Tyler had declared their intention to run against Barack Obama as the Democrat on the Presidential ticket in November, neither individual has made much headway getting their names on the ballot (Tyler has also suspended his campaign and endorsed Richardson).

Given that it is seemingly a foregone conclusion that Obama will be the nominee for the general election, why should any registered Democrat show up to vote on primary day? Simple: there is always more going on at the polls than the Presidential election. Head on over to SmartVoter.org and enter your address and zip code into the "Find Your Own Election" section on the main page. If your primary hasn't already occurred, you may find yourself surprised by how much there is to vote on that doesn't concern the Presidential election. For one, there may be contested primaries for local and state races. Are there any ballot initiatives to vote on? If you don't say yay or nay at your polling place, you may not get to grumble that your borough increased the millage rate on your property taxes to fund a new water treatment plant without asking you first - maybe they did and your "kept your mouth shut," so to speak.

Obviously, I can't speak for every town in the nation, but I can make some remarks about what I see on Pennsylvania's Democratic ballot for the state's primary on April 24th. The presidential slot is unsurprising: Barack Obama is the only individual in that slot. However, for Democrats who wish to vote against Obama, all is not lost. Pennsylvania allow write ins; as such, if you want to write in Darcy Richardson or even "none of the above" you are well within your rights to do so. Furthermore, the presidential primary is a "beauty contest" in Pennsylvania. It is not the vote for president that matters in the primary, but the vote for pledged delegates headed to the Democratic Convention. In 2008, I voted for pledged delegates assigned to Hillary Clinton, leaving the remaining spaces blank rather than filling any of them with delegates pledged to Barack Obama. In 2012, one is allowed to do something similar if one wishes to vote against the incumbent; while there likely won't be any pledged delegates for anyone other than Obama, there may be uncommitted delegates who are not assigned to a particular candidate. You can vote for these uncommitted delegates or simply write in "none of the above" again.

Meanwhile, I've found some other interesting things on my sample ballot. Statewide, Joseph John Vodvarka, who attempted to run against Joe Sestak in 2010 but failed to gather enough signatures in his petition to get on the ballot, is running again to be the Democratic senator representing Pennsylvania. This time he has managed to get on the ballot and he is facing incumbent Bob Casey Jr., who defeated Rick Santorum in 2006 by a landslide. My prediction is that Vodvarka will be easily crushed by Casey in the primary, despite many liberals (myself included) wanting to see someone better than Casey in that seat. However, it is quite damning to someone's campaign when their website won't load - at least it wouldn't when I attempted to visit it - your mileage may vary.

Speaking of the failures of websites run by campaign underdogs, Janis C. Brooks' website is hosted by GoDaddy. Brooks is running against incumbent Mike Doyle for Pennsylvania's 14th Congressional District. Based on what is written on the website, she is positioning herself to the left of Doyle, who himself is considered pretty far to the left. However, what is written is wanting in regards to the meat of policy and I feel it shows a lack of political awareness to try and mount a campaign as a liberal Democrat on a website which is hosted by GoDaddy.

Dissatisfied? Write in "none of the above" - it may not flush the candidates from the polls and force new ones to run, but it does have to be tallied by the board of elections. In the words of [livejournal.com profile] mokie: "The point is the right to make your voice heard, not to be herded." To me that means not missing any election and not letting anyone bully you into voting because of some assumption of "inevitability."

illusionofjoy: (Default)

American Extremists - Pragmatic
Four years is not a long time. I remember the election season of 2008. In the beginning it was exciting. Fatigued by eight years of so-called "compassionate conservatism" under the regime of Bush the younger, I was ready for some drastic changes in government. As campaign season swung into full gear, the Democratic Party presented two candidates who could have made history: Hillary Clinton would have been the first female President of the United States while Barack Obama would be the first mixed-race individual to occupy the White House. In this the chance to sweep away the sins of the former administration took on an added glow. It didn't take long for that shine to dull as the campaign for the Democratic nominee for President quickly turned ugly.

In the beginning I really didn't have any negative feelings about Barack Obama. If anything, he came off as yet another politician angling for some exposure who, as of that time and place, was out of his depth. Throwing my support behind Hillary Clinton was an easy decision. I, and those like me who made the decision, became privy to more vitriol and derision than any voter should ever have to endure in what we call civilized society.

The more research I did on Obama, the less I liked him as a candidate. However, Obama's failings as a potential president paled in comparison to the cult of personality which was developing around him. His supporters treated him with a reverence undeserving of any politician; the media followed suit, abandoning all pretense of objectivity. Allegedly liberal and progressive website and 'blogs began targeting and shutting out voices of dissent. To be a Hillary Clinton supporter was to be wandering around alone in the desert - or so they wanted you to believe.

Even more unsettling was how the Democratic National Committee was doing some decidedly undemocratic things which were to the benefit of the Obama campaign. Convention delegates from Michigan were arbitrarily reassigned so as to be committed to Obama, negating the actual poll results for that state's primary. When the convention did roll around, the fact that Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote among registered Democrats was irrelevant. The deck had been stacked for Obama and Clinton conceded as the DNC pushed him over the finish line.

I was stunned. What the Republicans had done to Al Gore and the American voter in 2000 when Bush was selected, the Democrats had done to one of their own. All illusions shattered, any claim the Democrats had to the moral high ground was lost.

As the focus of Election 2008 turned to Obama versus McCain, I found that I no longer had any passion for a Democratic victory in the November. Obama's candidacy was tainted - if he didn't have the character to win the nomination fairly, how would he comport himself as President? The Obama fan base, energized by their victory did not make matters easier. Their primary argument consisted of, "you're a registered Democrat - you have to vote for Obama." If one dared point out flaws or positional inconsistencies regarding their candidate, the response generally went along the lines of the standard, "well, the other side is worse, so are you really going to let them win" if you were lucky or, if the Obama supporter wished to go nuclear the accusation of racism was leveled. All sanity had simply quit the room, so to speak.

I watched the candidates debate, even going to a couple of parties hosted by the local Democratic organizers to try and get a feel for why Obama was such an object of their adoration. I never could into the same mindset as the people who were already hooked on Obama. The tipping point came for me when I realized, while watching Obama and McCain "debating" one another, that both men were saying essentially the same thing. The words were different, the delivery honed for each candidate's respective base, but the message was the same. These two men were saying the same thing: "vote for me, I will maintain the status quo." Obama was a Republican masquerading as a Democrat while at least McCain was honest about his true party affiliation.

The Democratic Party had told me that they didn't want my vote. I obliged and pulled the lever for John McCain.

Four years later Obama has not given me any truly compelling reason to believe I was wrong in voting against him. Guantanamo Bay is still open and running. American troops are still in Afghanistan. The economy is still tanking for the 99%. And the signature legislative achievement of the Obama administration, health care reform is little more than a wet and sloppy thousand page word-kiss for the health insurance industry; funny how it took a so-called "Democrat" to pass Republican legislation on a national level. Because what they now derisively refer to as Obamacare is really Romneycare.

I've come to see voting as an exercise in measured reactions. I never expect a candidate to match my personal positions 100% or even 75%, but is it too much to ask for a public servant to actually account for and act in accordance to what the American people need? The politics of lesser-evilism is becoming more and more of a dead-end street as the metrics for what is "evil" continues to shift. It's become a game of ratios. An example: if it came down to Barack Obama versus Rick Santorum, I would hold my nose and vote for Obama - not because I think Obama deserves my vote but because in the game of ratios, Santorum triggers my personal threshold of "must block from power at all costs." I feel the same way about Ron Paul, if you're curious.

However, when it comes to a race of Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney, I just kind of shrug. Neither one of these men represents me, so why should I vote for either one? I've become one of those people the partisans love to hate: the independent voter. The Democrats think they have me because I'm registered to that party. The Republicans think they might be able to woo me because I criticize Obama (word to the wise: I criticize Obama because he isn't liberal enough, not because he isn't libertarian enough). Truth be told, I'm at peace with the fact that come November, I'm likely voting "third" party or writing in "none of the above." It wouldn't be the first time I've done it and doubt it will be the last.

I know the backlash and derision will come my way for not falling into line and supporting the legacy party duopoly. The Kossacks are already sharpening their pointing fingers to shame those of us who won't vote for Obama. I welcome their hatred and venom. I'm ready to ignore the guilt trips. I'm ready to ignore the name-calling. I'm ready to ignore the accusations of irrationality and the jeers that I'm wasting my vote (ah, but it is mine to waste, is it not?). I'm ready to draw strength from the pain of independence.

It was all thrown at me in 2008 and it's all going to get thrown at me again in 2012. Do you really think what didn't work then will work now?

illusionofjoy: (Default)

While most people are focused on the Super Bowl this weekend, I'm not interested in football or the commercials surrounding the game. Thus, I thought this would be an opportune time for what some might call self-flagellation: doing a high level dissection of the claimed positions of those who aim to occupy the White House.

"Why would you do that," you may ask, "when we all know that it's going to be Barack Obama versus Romney/Gingrich/Paul/Santorum?" Good question - and one which reveals one of the main problems with the system of elections in the United States: the reinforcement of the duopoly. With every election cycle the United States swings a pendulum and it is only a matter or time before it goes one way or the other. However, the thing about a pendulum is - for better or worse - it can only go so far one way or the other. So, as the Republicans move rightward to become not a conservative party, but an actively regressive party the Democrats follow along, eschewing their former progressive glory for policies which more reflect maintaining the status quo (i.e.: Republicanism during the Eisenhower era).

It should come as no surprise that political parties change over time. Over 200 years ago, the Democrats and Republicans were a single party: the Democratic-Republican Party. Their main rivals were The Whigs. In fact, for quite some time the Republicans were what we'd now refer to as a "third party" until The Whigs ingloriously imploded with an absurd strategy of running four Presidential candidates simultaneously, thus allowing the Republican Party to rise up to fill the void.

Anyone who tells you that you only have two choices at the polls this November is only partially correct. While the system is set up to maintain the duopoly, there is always this third option: refuse to engage the "system" how they want you to engage it. There are historical precedents for great changes being made and such change can still be achieved, but it won't be easy and it won't happen in the near future. When a critical mass of the populace accepts the pain of independence that's when things change. It only takes for people to cease fearing being "outsiders" for the outside to become inside.

But I digress...let's get back to the business of dissecting the positions of the would-be Presidents. For this exercise I'm digging up every candidate I can find who has officially declared his or her candidacy. To try and simplify matters, I'll be commenting on four main policy areas: Economy, Environment, Foreign Policy and Social Justice. It's not a great amount of detail, but it's enough to get a basic taste (and let's face it: who wants more when most candidates leave a horrible aftertaste). So, without further ado, here are the tables of the candidates:

Democratic Party

Candidate

Positions


Economy

Environment

Foreign Policy

Social Justice

Barack ObamaBarack Obama

Argues that free-trade agreements are necessary for the health of the economy. Claims that tax cuts encourage small business growth as well as stimulating manufacturing (particularly for "green" industries).

The pertinent section of Obama's website is entitled "Energy and the Environment" which is apt given that all of the President's environmental initiatives are tied towards energy independence and investing in "green" energy alternatives.

Under the section titled "National Security" Obama trumpets his success in bringing home American troops from Iraq. However, he makes no mention of bringing them home from Afghanistan. Also missing is his braggadocio over killing Osama bin-Laden which was so prevalent during the State of the Union address. Unsurprisingly however, his veiled nod to the possibility of war with Iran during that same address is also absent.

Trumpets the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" as well as his signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, however makes no claim that his stance on gay marriage has evolved into something sentient and his administration's treatment of women in his employ (i.e.: Elizabeth Warren) is - to be polite - less than stellar.

Darcy RichardsonDarcy Richardson

Proposes a second stimulus package to jump-start the American economy as well as a moratorium on home foreclosures. Also proposes a federal work program similar to The New Deal.

Few concrete positions stated, save for stridently opposing Keystone XL.

"A Richardson Administration will...bring an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan while fighting for a drastic 33% to 50% reduction in military spending."

Criticises the Obama administration for caving "in the face of Republican opposition when it came to naming and fighting for Elizabeth Warren’s nomination to head the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."

Aldous C. TylerAldous C. Tyler

States that the war-based economic model is unsustainable. Would target bailouts directly to people in need, not corporations. Supports an FDR style public-works program akin to The New Deal to combat unemployment.

"We support science-based policies to curb and mitigate the effects of climate change; carbon taxes on fossil fuels to reflect true environmental costs; elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels, nuclear power, waste incineration, and biofuels; clean fuel mandates; adoption of energy efficiency standards that reduce energy demand economy-wide; building an efficient low-cost public transportation system; adoption of a national zero waste policy.

A sustainable society needs clean, green jobs based on renewable energy, energy conservation, organic agriculture, local food production/distribution, mass transit, waste management/recycling, and similar practices that sustain the environment."

"We call for the complete and immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and all other regional conflicts; the immediate dissolution of private security contracts for these conflicts, and the immediate cessation of payments to private contractors who are in any way associated with these conflicts."

Under the heading of "Human Rights/Civil Liberties," Aldous calls for a repeal of the PATRIOT Act, the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and the restoration of habeas corpus.

Green Party

Candidate

Positions


Economy

Environment

Foreign Policy

Social Justice

Roseanne BarrRoseanne Barr

No positions stated on campaign website.

Jill SteinJill Stein

All four of the umbrella issues above are addressed via Stein's "Green New Deal." Basically, what Stein is proposing is a massively updated and expanded version of FDR's original New Deal with a particular focus on economic justice, expanding the social safety net and protecting the environment. Perhaps implying a philosophy that everything connected and in contrast to legacy party candidates, Stein does not pander when presenting her platform by breaking it down into bite-sized pieces; you have to read the whole thing.

Justice Party

Candidate

Positions


Economy

Environment

Foreign Policy

Social Justice

Rocky AndersonRocky Anderson

Places the lion's share of the blame for the current economic crises on the Federal Reserve. However, instead of calling to end the Fed, proposes that the organisation be subject to checks and balances similar to those imposed on braches of government. In being more effectively regulated itself, Anderson argues that the Fed be a more effective regulatory agency. Aside from that Anderson calls for fiscal responsibility by raising taxes on the rich to support social programs, arguing that draconian cuts to such programs leave us unable to compete as a nation.

No specific position stated.

"The U.S. needs to be engaged internationally, but in a constructive manner -- quite the opposite of our nation's conduct, particularly since 9/11. We should make clear what the U.S. once made clear (but has apparently forgotten or ignored) in the Kellogg-Briand Pact (and again at the Nuremberg Tribunal, then again in the U.N. Charter): wars of aggression (attacks on other nations that have not attacked the U.S. or which are not about to attack the U.S.) are illegal and strictly prohibited. Also, all wars since WWII have been in violation of the War Powers Clause of our Constitution."

States that the decision to have an abortion "should be between a woman, her doctor, and anyone else she wants to have involved." Supports full marriage equality for gays and lesbians.

Republican Party

Candidate

Positions


Economy

Environment

Foreign Policy

Social Justice

Newt GingrichNewt Gingrich

Favors drastically reducing corporate taxes and implementing a flat income tax of 15%. Also blames "excessive regulation" for destroying businesses and would roll back such in order to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Gives a passing nod to "clean energy" after many column inches dedicated to opening up land for more shale extraction and offshore drilling.

Nothing specific which would set Gingrich apart from George W. Bush. Succinctly: stay the course.

Gingrich has the same stance on fetuses and the elderly: life is sacred and only God gets to decide when it ends. Furthermore, completely ignoring the First Amendment, he thinks that religious expression in the public square needs special protection.

Ron PaulRon Paul

Wants to require Congress to pass a balanced budget each year. Blames the Federal Reserve for most of the nation's economic woes; would audit it and regardless the results of the audit, he would abolish it. Would eliminate most income and property taxes.

Would eliminate the EPA and lift "government roadblocks" on coal and nuclear power.

Would bring all American troops home immediately and return to a policy of non-intervention.

Stringently anti-choice, Paul would call for an immediate repeal of Roe vs. Wade, thus leaving the legality of abortion as a patchwork state by state toss of the coin. On the topic of illegal immigration, Paul would come down hard on illegal immigrants, going so far as to strip away the citizenship of their children born in the United States.

Mitt RomneyMitt Romney

"Mitt Romney will rebuild the foundations of the American economy on the principles of free enterprise, hard work, and innovation. His plan seeks to reduce taxes, spending, regulation, and government programs. It seeks to increase trade, energy production, human capital, and labor flexibility. It relinquishes power to the states instead of claiming to have the solution to every problem."

No position stated.

"Our country today faces a bewildering array of threats and opportunities. As president, Mitt Romney will safeguard America and secure our country’s interests and most cherished ideals. The unifying thread of his national security strategy is American strength. When America is strong, the world is safer. It is only American power—conceived in the broadest terms—that can provide the foundation for an international system that ensures the security and prosperity of the United States and our friends and allies."

No position stated.

Rick SantorumRick Santorum

Believes in "spending cuts and entitlement reform." To wit, Social Security, Welfare and so-called "Obamacare" are all on the chopping block.

Suspects Iran of being on the brink of developing nuclear weapons with the intent of destroying Israel and western civilization. Wants to work with Israel to determine "a proper military response" to the situation.

Vehemently against abortion and even contraception; opposed to gay marriage, recently comparing it to polygamy. Once compared homosexuality to bestiality, which earned Santorum much backlash from the GLBT community.

And there it is, all ten candidates for President stacked up against one another. Obviously this is in no way an in-depth look at all of them and much policy nuance is missing. However, one gets the basic idea. I'm sure that if I decide to compile another chart like this as the campaign season evolves there will be plenty of changes.

Right now I just want someone to buy me a conciliatory drink for visiting all of those Republican websites in my meager attempt to appear somewhat objective.

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Seth Warren

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