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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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The ObamaNation

Uploaded: Nov 7, 2012
Here are some immediate thoughts arising out of last evening's festivities – the night ended earlier than I had feared it might; that said, it takes time to formulate useful, cohesive impressions or ascribe enduring meaning to the outcomes.

This was the election that demonstrated the truly diverse society that the US has become. 2008 might have been dismissed for its near-Messianic flavor, but this time it was a long slog through recession, disappointment, rancor and policy paralysis that produced a more clear-eyed demonstration of that phenomenon. Grim determination replaced euphoria. Despite Mr. Obama's flaws laid bare by four years of testing and close scrutiny, his only semi-popular health care reform centerpiece, the sluggish economy, lingering war and, yes, his race – he won against a patrician candidate straight out of Central Casting. The fiddler fell off the roof; tradition took a beating. America firmly, finally(?) revealed itself to be a salad bowl of disparate flavors, no longer a consensus of assimilated white breaded culture. Appealing mainly to that latter segment – and winning it handily, as Mr. Romney did -- won't be enough, probably ever again.

Does that unfamiliar loss-of-Control by those accustomed to being in-charge explain some of the extreme rhetoric and fantastical claims made against this President? I think so – your mileage may vary.

That said, I was struck by the continuing depth of the divide demonstrated by state results. Those states that went for Mr. Romney Really went for him, and vice versa. The closely-contested battleground states were few, and far apart. That could portend a continuing stalemate at the federal level, as those who represent The Coasts and The Middle all believe that they have a mandate from their voters. Did the larger message of the public's disgust with recent results get lost? We'll see.

Nate Silver is an absolute rock star. His predictions humbled the gut-bucket pundits and proved that it's useful to be good at numbers. He absorbed more than his share of pre-election scorn for his predictions: borrowing a line from Moneyball "the first one through the wall always gets bloodied" – but being right really IS the best revenge.

$2 billion? There has just got to be a better way.

An Electoral College vote of 332 – 206 in a contest whose popular vote was within 2%? There has got to be a better way there, too. I am tired of being attended-to only when being shaken-down. And as much as I enjoyed the bantering, the accents and the geography lessons associated with making calls into exotic cantons of Wisconsin and Nevada, I'd rather campaign locally. I also believe that ¾ of the phones in those states were left off-the-hook yesterday. Finally, there's something about an election of this magnitude hinge-ing on the fickle affections of a disaffected few Ohio-Undecideds that ought scare everyone (even them).

As to local results, if I am any good at math (not a great bet), it appears that Danville was a dead heat – within fewer than 40 votes. Both sides: take note.

'Tis said that the Supreme Court reads the Sunday papers, meaning in part that they are aware that they lack an army to enforce their rulings. Gay marriage finally broke-through this time, with at least two wins, and possibly a table-running four. Does that bode well for the proponents of same-sex marriage in the Prop 8 case on appeal from the 9th circuit? It cannot hurt.

There is no doubt that most of the opaque SuperPAC millions opposed the Dems in general, and the Prez in particular. Do you know how it feels to have flushed that much dough? Me neither – I wonder how that outcome will affect future donor patterns. My only regret is that Big Money's ineffectiveness may dull the appeal of an Amendment to overturn 'Citizens United.' That needs doing.

Another area ripe for reform is the woefully dangerous lack of constancy around voting rights. Voter suppression is anti-democracy, and can we all now admit that those voter-ID efforts centered in battleground states and sponsored by only one Party were despicable? A draconian response to a trumped-up voter fraud 'crisis?' I'm okay with the rough-and-tumble of partisan political campaigning, as I can always hold my nose. But the voting process itself ought to be conducted in as close to "laboratory conditions" as humanly possible. Perhaps we need international poll monitors to assist our banana-republic-worthy practices?

Future campaigns will ignore Mother Nature at their great peril. Same goes for our entire approach to living in concert with her environment.

Finally, and I'm guessing I'll have more to say on this, the media coverage of this campaign was abysmal. News ought to be more than entertainment, and journalism ought to be more than stenography. Instead of forcing an elevation of the debate, most media reps were content to hype ratings by characterizing the race with all the nuance and analysis of a wrasslin' death-match on pay-per-view. When it even bothered to fact-check, the trivial was equated with the fundamental; there was way too little consequence for lying, so, predictably, we got a Lot of it. Where have you gone, Uncle Walter? Chet and David? A weary nation needs you.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm

The people have spoken(well,as to the electoral college, jury still out on popular vote) and what is great about our nation is despite heated debates and emotions, life goes on, and government proceeds in an orderly, non-violent manner.

I think my party learned we need to just ignore the far right extremist, do not beat the crap out of each other during the primaries, and move toward the center on social issues, but stay firm on fiscal conservative issues. We need to be more of the "Gerald Ford Republican", more inclusive on social issues, while reducing the debt and staying focused on the economy.

I am also encouraged that the Democrats, I think, also realize they need to reach across the aisle, and roll up their sleaves and stop the run away spending, and get the economy back on track. I think the Democrats voting out of office far left extremist Pete Stark, and voting in a seasoned Prosecutor, is a step in the right direction. We still control the House, and if they really want things to improve, they need to compromise and play ball with us.

I also think another very good thing is the issue of race, and playing the race card as an excuse for things, should be coming to an end. Fact that our country twice elected an African-American as President should silence those who blame their race for everything that occurs to them in life. I would hope electing an African-American twice would convince people that they control their own destinies, and if they work hard, play by the rules, they will succeed, and stop using their race as an excuse. I would also hope that seeing President Obama elected twice would inspire people of color that they can achieve their goals in life, and that America is a land of opportunity where we judge people on their character, not their race.

Which brings up an interesting issue. During the four years President Obama was President: (1) Did the unemployment rate for African-Americans go up or down?(2) Did the percentage of people incarcerated in jail that are African-American go up or down? (3) Did the graduation rate of African-American students from high school and college, go up or down? Tom, as a college professor(adjuct) and internet guru, I am sure who can find the answers to those three questions, and I would love to see the answers.

Lets hope both parties move to the center, and I look forward to President Chris Christy and Vice President Condi Rice being elected in 2016!

Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 7, 2012 at 2:07 pm

More bi-partisanship is essential, no doubt about it. We can only hope that, with the election behind us, Republicans will be more interested in working toward bi-partisan solutions than in "making sure that this president is a one-term president," as one Republican leader had previously expressed his party's priority.

On whether we can eventually become a post-racial society, President Obama's re-election in another big step in that direction. But, what will really matter more are the millions of individual actions that we all take in our own lives. When black children are no longer called the N-word by their white classmates in Danville (yes, it still happens), and well-dressed, professional black women are no longer followed around clothing stores in Walnut Creek by store employees (yes, this still happens, too), then I will believe that we are closer to that aspiration.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Tom Cushing is a registered user.

I think there's an important statement made by this re-election, but I'm not quite ready to agree with American that society has achieved color-blindness -- especially when the declaration is tinged with dismissiveness.

Right now, I'd settle for the removal of that ugly-in-every-sense v-shaped billboard on the freeway hillside. What was apparently intended as chest-thumping defiance should now embarrass whoever tends it.

Howsabout a more conciliatory message, but still hairy-chested, like HEY (MR.) OBAMA: CONGRATS -- NOW, LET'S ALL GET TO WORK ON REAL PROBLEMS!

Feel free to add your own suggestions.

Posted by Anerican, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Tom: You did not answer my 3 questions? Come on professor, show off those research skills(or at least get your T.A. to do research for you) I honestly do not know the answers, but hope the data shows real positive changes.

I agree we are not at a color blind society yet, and am sure that the Asian student turned down at UC Bekeley with higher SAT scores and grades than the African American student who was admitted would agree, as would the white fire fighter applicant in San Jose who was turned down despite higher scores on objective tests than the hired Hispanic applicant.

Let's hope one good thing about this election is the end of racism.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm

This election also showed that our country is still discriminatory when it comes to the Mormon faith. Horrible the attacks the Democrats threw at Governor Romney because of his religion. Whoppi Goldberg on the View viciously attacked Mrs. Romney with the false claim that Mormons can't serve in military and how could Mr. Romney tell parents whose kids died in battle anything when Mormons don't even serve in military!! Outrageous and offensive religious hatred, but yet liberal media ignored this.

Religious hatred is wrong but somehow acceptable when Democrats slander Republicans. For once I was waiting for Harry Reid, a leader in Democratic Party and a Mormon to speak up and silence the hatred of the Democrats, but being a party guy, he said nothing. No wonder the Senate under his leadership is so partisan and ineffective.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Hiya Am: apparently you have me confused with someone who has time and inclination to do volunteer internet research for others (or who has TAs, for that matter). As a modestly comp'd educator (without even so much as a union!), I need consulting gigs to improve my pay and thereby reduce my "percentage." So, post your mailing address and I'll send you a contract. If not, I may have to assume that you already know the answers, or you wouldn't have asked.

Good news is that that excrescent billboard message is already gone -- just a forlorn wooden frame remains. Good riddance, but I'm guessing they'll be back.

I didn't see much hatred of the type you describe -- maybe you'll favor us with some linkages to all these incidents?

Posted by underdog, a resident of another community,
on Nov 7, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I think I can answer the 3 questions. The recession, jobs, the price of gas. In other words, 3 questions that could be answered at a community level, local level, state level, national level, or a gut level but have little connection to the election or presidency. How many people starved to death when Bush was President? If you get a number, how is that relevant?

Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 7, 2012 at 10:00 pm

It seems that American confuses the remedies designed to make up in some small measure for the legacy of historic racism with the underlying racism. No system of remedies is perfect; but, giving a helping hand to a group that suffered centuries of racism is better than just doing nothing.

Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm

This has been a tough, humiliating loss for millions of Americans.

One friend told me he couldn?t get out of bed the day after the election. Another spent the night crying. A lot of my friends are posting obituaries dedicated to America they think is now dead.

My Democrat friends are doing victory laps, of course. That?s their right. They won.

But have you seen the page ?white people mourning romney?? Web Link It?s a tumblr with pictures of all these sad white people crying because Romney lost. One of my liberal friends thought it was funny.

But in those pictures, you can see a lot of people are grieving over this. Why? Why are they so sad? Obama is everyone?s president, right? He wants to make America a better place, doesn?t he?

Obama got 37.8% of the vote in Kentucky, 37.8% in Kansas, 36.9% in Arkansas. Within those states, outside their urban cores, in the suburbs and small towns, Romney won by an 80 - 90% landslide.


Are they all a bunch of ignorant racists? Don?t they know Obama is here to help? Is it just a matter of letting them know the truth, that enlightened liberals really do know what?s best for America and that someday these ignorants will thank the liberals for all their wisdom?

Why are they crying?

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm

S-P: I looked at your link and I saw sadness -- one tweeter claimed she was crying. They look like I do, whenever Michigan loses to Ohio State. But be that as it may, and taking you at sad-face-value (risky, I know), you might find explanation in the words of conservative columnist David Brooks:

?I sometimes wonder if the Republican Party has become the receding roar of white America as it pines for a way of life that will never return.?

There's nobody who misses being in-charge more than somebody who's been in-charge, is used to it, has become convinced that it's the natural order of things, and is now not in-charge. If "the fish is the last one to know he's in the water," as the saying goes, it's also true that he finds Not being in the water to be a particularly hostile environment. And to strain that image only a little more: this was a sea-changing election, as I wrote above. It'll take some getting used-to.

If it's any consolation, Mr. Boehner's post-election speech made it sound like he thought his man had won. I hope he shuts up before he paints himself into a corner. He can have more flexibility now that the election is over, and he needs to exercise it carefully. If he's perceived as intransigent, the citizenry may make him pay (this time).

BTW, my math was wrong -- Glenn Wohltmann is precisely right in his tally of Danville votes. I rechecked my spreadsheet and my Romney column formula was in error. Must've been the clouds in my eyes.

Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm

So it?s like losing a ball game, nothing more?

What do you mean, they?re no longer in charge? Because they?re white?

Is that what you really think about all these millions of people who are claiming to be sad? Grandmas, teens, middle-aged guys with pot bellies, all this sadness is because a non-white person was elected?

It?s all about white power?

Posted by Anerican, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Professor(adjunct)Tom is incorrectly writing the obituary of the Republican party, much like other so-called experts claimed after Watergate, and after President Clinton beat President Bush. Political parties historically go up and down like the stock market(which crashed after Obama's Victoria)...Candidate Hilary Clinton will be stuck with Obama's horrible economic record to defend, and after two terms Democrats can no longer blame Bush...Yes, my party needs to adapt, and learn from mistakes, but if you think this is the end of the Republicans, you are as wrong as Chris Weber calling timeout with none left...A Republican will be elected before Michigan wins national championship in football..By the way Tom, how does it feel knowing your hometown went for Romney?

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 8, 2012 at 10:20 pm

S-P: you've been capable of writing some pretty interesting and provocative stuff in the past -- are you having a particularly bad week, too? Do me the courtesy of actually reading the blog, and then see if you're still capable of these great leaps of misinterpretation.

Am: if you only knew the following Wikifactoids:

"... Danville is the 41st most expensive zip code in America. It is one of California?s top 25 wealthiest cities, and one of the wealthiest suburbs of Oakland and San Francisco. Danville is home to some of the most expensive real estate and exclusive country clubs in the nation ..." Web Link

-- would you expect Mr. Obama to come within 0.9% of winning here? I feel pretty good about that, thanks. He also took CC County 2-1 and the state by 20+%.

And while I never (ever) predicted the demise of the GOP, I do agree with the obvious conclusion that it'll need to adapt -- I'm just not sure you'll be happy with the direction of those adaptations.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 9, 2012 at 7:59 am

Tom: As a professor(adjuct)& attorney(inactive), I would hope you would have better analytical data and critical thinking skills than simlpy relying on "Wikifactoids"? As a long time Danville resident, let me tell you something you will not find on our "Wikifactoids" about Danville.

People in Danville, by and large, are the people who were not born with a silver spoon, but rather worked very hard, obtained a degree beyond college, and through discipline, dedication, and following a moral compass, achieved financial success beyond their parents. They also waited to have children until they(not the government) could afford to raise them properly, and do not live beyond their means. They care about their neighbors, they volunteer to help at the schools and youth sports, and they attend religious services. Unlike Joe Biden, whose tax records noted he donated less than $250 to charity, people in Danville donate to food banks, homeless shelters, St.Vincent De Paul, animal rescue foundations, and other great charities. I know several people in Danville, including myself, who donated money to the Memorial Fund for CHP Officer Youngstrom's Children Memorial Fund, as it is the right thing to do. We, the people of Danville, do the right thing,and teach our children to do the right thing.

And I am proud to say that the people of Danville voted for Governor Romney, because we have more in common with his ideas of what makes our country great, and professor if you think it is because your "Wikifactoids" say we all belong to exclusive country clubs, than you are even more clueless than I even imagined!

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Oh, my -- let me get this straight, American.

You, the King of Local Mythology and the Patron Saint of Unsupported Claims, are quibbling with my sources? Is that it? How would you know?

Since you won't let go of your education shtick, I have to say you remind me of the occasional student who'll say ANYthing, just to get attention. There are good comments, including many that disagree with me, and tedious comments that just waste everybody's reading time. Ol' Sean, for instance, is very likely to take me to task on my gay marriage prediction, since the recent victories demonstrate that the political process CAN work (the Scalia argument) -- and he might be right. Your comments, I'm sad to say ... nah, don't make me say it.

You might also take note that fewer than 200 votes out of 18,000 cast in town is a pretty slim margin. As somebody noted elsewhere on this Board, it substantially under-performs the GOP voter registration edge hereabouts. Who are all these other Danvillains? Please link your sources.

Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I?ve had a great week, notwithstanding losing about six figures in the market in the past few days since Obama won. But so what. I?ll harvest some capital losses from that decline, which will help me pay less taxes and will come out on top when the market rises again. And it will. Obama can?t stop that.

I made peace with Obama winning months ago. It wasn?t a shock. And you know what? I?m ok with it. Here?s why. I?m American. I have a better life than 99.99% of the people who have ever lived.

You have it good too. So do people like Dave and Underdog, assuming they are at least capable of putting hamburgers on buns at a rate consistent with customer demand.

1.5 billion people on this planet do not have access to a toilet. Half live on $2 a day or less. I?d say none of us have anything to complain about.

I?m not even mad about Obamacare anymore. One of my biggest complaints about Obamacare was that Democrats enacted it right during the middle of a financial crisis, which caused great uncertainty to investors and businesses, which lead to a decrease in capital investments and hiring. Then you had Republicans vowing to repeal it, 30 states refusing to implement it, etc. which caused even more uncertainty.

But now that Americans have spoken, saying, yes, they like Obamacare, well then, it now appears certain that it will be implemented, and that uncertainty will no longer be a drag on the economy. I?m cautiously optimistic.

I?m not even worried about taxes. Why? Right now, I pay AMT, so I don?t get to deduct state income tax, property tax, $18,500 of personal exemptions, etc. So you could raise my income taxes by about 15% and I wouldn?t pay a dime more in taxes. ha ha.

By the way, has your daughter thought about becoming a tax lawyer? I?d highly recommend it. It?s a great job and thanks to over-eager politicians, you?re always in demand.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Everything that American says about Danville residents, above, is correct -- however, what he/she forgets to mention is that it is true for both those Danville residents who voted for Romney and those who voted for Obama. So, all those comments really don't explain why a few more Danville residents went for Romney. As someone mentioned above, it was more likely the stronger Republican party registration in town. And even then the cross-over vote by Republicans voting for Obama must have been greater than any Democrats in town voting for Romney.

And s-p, despite your uninformed speculation about how I earn a living, I haven't had to flip hamburger professionally in many decades. I do have a comfortable life here. But, I'm not in the food service industry.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 9, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Dave: In 2008, Danville actually voted for Obama. After watching 4 years of Obama, Danville voted for Romney in 2012. Why do you think that is? Keep an eye on Condi Rice, I think Danville and America will elect her as first woman President in 2016. Let's hope professor(adjunct) Tommy Boy takes his uninformed liberal views to Berkeley Express since his research shows us Danvillians are simply all country club 1% ers who simply voted for Romney since we are all heartless, selfish millionaires.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 10, 2012 at 8:17 am

S-P: I fear you're right about tax law being a solid career choice, even if I despair that such talent is drawn to a burgeoning field whose existence depends on a ridiculously byzantine tax code, and which, ultimately, adds less economic value than those burger-flippers you disparage.

And yes -- you-all will be in still greater demand as rates go up and some deductions are eliminated. Sadly, I have faith in the saying that "when one loophole closes, another one opens." I've also heard it said that the well-to-do will always win, because IRS Agents go home at night, whereas tax lawyers do not. ;-) Sounds like something needs to be done about that AMT.

Anyway, all parental predictions are suspect, but I'm guessing my Rae's future will have to do with education law. She has taught in the bowels of Brooklyn and post-Katrina N'Awlins -- she's seen a Lot and she's fearless. I'm betting she'll make a difference.

I do agree with your philosophical premise -- blessings ought be counted every day for the happy accidents of our birth and opportunities.

And Am -- picking through the various flung organics that don't stick (or add anything), I see you've now elevated Dr. Rice from VEEP to PREZ, in less than a week! Now THAT's adaptation -- if you can marry her-off to a Cuban exile, and they adopt an Asian orphan, why -- the Grand Old Party will be transformed, all in one swell foop.

My own view is that she's a formidable intellect, but that she's too eager to use the military, and saddled with having advised on two unpopular wars -- she's also way too thin-skinned. She comes across like a school marm in any setting she doesn't control. She would hate the process, because she knows she's not much good at it.

And I think your Party's 'adaptation' may involve jettisoning a few of the more extreme elements, who have now demonstrated repeatedly that they can doom-the-outcome in general elections (e.g., DE, IN, MO, MT Senate seats were Lost, not won by the Dems) -- to say nothing of gumming-up the works and provoking stupid stalemates (e.g., the otherwise meaningless self-inflicted wound of the debt-ceiling debacle) when they Do get elected.

Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 10, 2012 at 10:55 am


You?re a fellow burger flipper?? Me too, bro.! Burger King, Class of ?83. Back when white teens did that sort of thing. How about you??


I had hoped that someone would?ve taken my bait by now about how Obama?s election was the death of America. Sadly, I think your column has lost it?s Tea Party fan base.

It?s not surprising, I guess. Most of my conservative friends are on self-imposed radio silence since Obama won.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 10, 2012 at 11:23 am

S-P: Yeah, it's gotten quiet around here -- almost too quiet (you know who you are). I've had to venture out into another thread just to seek a conversation.

Now that the campaign's over, though, I hope to branch out into other policy areas, maybe more forward-looking, and less fraught with knee-jerk ideology (if that's possible). That might bring some folks back here to comment -- of course, I might lose the rest of the 'fan base,' instead. We'll see.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Tommy: you called Dr.Rice a "school mam"! Your racism is showing, not to mention your sexism.

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Weblink foR AmeRican: Web Link

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