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Archive for October, 2012

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Top five topics for tonight’s foreign policy debate

Gallup puts Romney way ahead despite other polls showing it’s neck and neck

Article courtesy of the Examiner.com:

The latest NBC/WSJ Poll released Sunday shows the presidential race dead even at 47% each. Other polls show the same but the Gallup Poll shows Romney with a huge lead. Is Gallup an outlier? No candidate has lost when Gallup showed them in the lead at this stage of the race. But, there is a first time for everything.

If you average all the recent national polls, the race is a tie according to Real Clear Politics. If you remove Gallup since it is a potential outlier, Obama has a slim lead. The New York Times 538 Blog still gives Obama a 67% chance of winning the Electoral College. The Romney campaign and his surrogates think that it is time for Mitt to order the car elevator for the White House.

So who will win?

There are several factors to consider. First of all, the polls that show the race a tie or tilting to Obama, with the exception of Gallup, are polls of likely voters. When registered voters are considered, Obama has a lead. What that means is that if every registered voter showed up on election day, Obama would be re-elected. But, on average, less than two thirds of registered voters in this country vote. So it depends on whose voters stay home.

If the race comes down to turnout, there are two schools of thought. One is that Romney has the advantage because most of his supporters are voting against Obama and not for him. That is less the case with Obama supporters. Generally, people who are against something are more likely to vote.

There is a possible spoiler; Obama has a far better and more extensive ground game. Already in early voting, more than two thirds of the ballots cast or requested have come from Democrats in swing states. That does not mean game-over because Republicans tend to vote on election day. So unless there is a terrible blizzard in Republican counties Nov. 6th, the early voting advantage may be neutralized.

Another factor to consider about national polls is that the popular vote does not elect a President. We saw that in 2000 when Gore won the popular vote but the Supreme Court selected Bush as President. National polls only become relevant if one candidate leads by 5% or more. In that case, a rising tide raises all boats.

The battle for the Electoral College comes down to a hand full of “swing states.” The latest polls in swing states still show Obama winning albeit by an ever smaller margin. Unless the last debate or some other factor intervenes, the swing states will decide whether there is a car elevator at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Just as in 2000, the vote is swing states is likely to be decided by a few to a few hundred votes in just a few counties. Mike Schneider and Thomas Beaumont of Associated Press have boiled the race down to 106 counties out of the more than 50,000 counties in the United States. Those counties went for Bush in 2004, Obama in 2008. Whoever wins these, they say, will win the election.

Those counties are in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, and Nevada. Current swing state polls are somewhat mixed in these states, but averaging the polls, Obama is leading in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia, and Nevada. Virginia goes back and forth. Obama once held a 9 point lead in Ohio, but it is down to 2 points. For that matter, Obama once led in all these states, but the race is getting closer.

Remembering Florida in 2000, the scary thing is how many of these states will need to go through a recount to decide who gets that state’s electoral votes? Another X factor is that Maine and Nebraska apportion votes by Congressional District. In 2008, Obama lost Nebraska but got one electoral vote from Omaha. This year, Romney could steal a vote from Maine. This could put the electoral count into a tie. That means the Republican House of Representatives would pick Romney as President.

Nate Silver of the Thirty Eight blog thinks that on this Sunday, things still favor Obama. If he is right, Obama will win. If he is wrong, the White House garden will be replaced by a new car elevator.

Fetch?

Okay, at this point in the election I think we need to say we’re all over the discussion about women’s issues. “Issues with women” though, well, that’s a whole ‘nother topic! And if Todd Akin doesn’t have issues with women, someone who is advising him does! First, there was the charge that Sen. Claire McCaskill isn’t ladylike. (Um, hello. It was never anyone’s impression that politics was the place for the white-gloved set) Then this latest brain burp comparing her to a “dog fetching a bone.” Oh, and we lest we forget the whopper in the middle of this race about whether women can avoid getting pregnant if a rape isn’t “legitimate.”

Could certain people make it any harder for a woman to admit she is a Republican? Todd Akin, I just have one question for you, “Are you saying these things on purpose to call out the conservative women’s vote?”  That has to be it.  I will say I agree with you about one thing and am not voting for Claire McCaskill again because I liked when you said Missourians need to export their common sense instead of importing Washington, DC’s silliness. But, can you appreciate the situation you are creating for Moderate Republican women who aren’t going to rubber stamp Claire McCaskill’s return to the US Senate? We’re not going to vote for her and you are making it very hard for moderate Republican women to vote for you. 

Below is Diana Reese’s take on things as she wrote about Todd Akin’s latest slap at women this weekend. Bizarre as this may sound, I have to believe it is part of some grand strategy to bring out the social conservatives in this state.  I wish I knew Mr. Akin personally so I could know if this is bad advice or just bad thinking. Either way, it ain’t good, Sir!

“A dog may be man’s best friend, but most women don’t appreciate being called one or compared to one.”

Rep. Todd Akin did just that to his opponent, incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), at a fundraiser in Springfield, Mo., Saturday night.

Eli Yokley, editor-in-chief of PoliticMo.com, captured the comment on audio: “She goes to Washington, D.C. It’s a little bit like one of those dogs, ‘fetch,’ she goes to Washington, D.C., and gets all of these taxes and red tape and bureaucracy and executive orders and agencies and brings all of this stuff and dumps it on us in Missouri.”

He continued, “It seems to me that she’s got it just backwards. What we should be doing is taking the common sense we see in Missouri and taking that to Washington, D.C., and blessing them with more solutions instead of more problems.”

The fundraiser featured former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, one of the few GOP party leaders who has stuck by Akin since the congressman’s infamous comment during a TV interview in August, during which he said a woman’s body had the ability to prevent pregnancy in the case of “legitimate rape.”

Shortly after that, Akin’s wife compared his treatment by GOP party bosses to rape, according to a National Journal interview.

Since then, Akin has continued to make comments that have failed to endear him to female voters. After his first debate with McCaskill, he said her behavior had not been very “ladylike.”

Akin discussed his opposition to the minimum wage and his vote against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act during a press conference I attended in Kansas City at the end of September.

He opposes abortion. Period. That certainly doesn’t alienate the entire female vote: There are plenty of women who are pro-life. But he also is against the morning-after pill, which he said was abortion – an incorrect comparison based on science. The morning-after pill contains the same hormones found in the birth-control pill but in a larger dose. It simply “shuts down” a woman’s ability to get pregnant that month by stopping or delaying ovulation.

And to think Akin sits on the House Committee for Science, Space and Technology.

Protesters dog (pun intended) his every appearance. He’s seen as another soldier in the War against Women.

And now he compares McCaskill’s behavior to that of a dog.

I’ve heard Akin speak at press conferences and campaign rallies. He has an unrehearsed off-the-cuff style that sounds as if he’s just now thinking of what he’s going to say. I thought perhaps he’d affected that in order to sound more down home. Now I wonder if he really does campaign, unscripted.

Although Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney — who asked Akin to step down in August — still hasn’t come around and endorsed the Missouri Republican, his experience at a fundraiser should have been a lesson. Romney’s “47 percent” comment has haunted his campaign since, creating fodder for opponents who see him as removed from most Americans’ economic woes.

Akin is creating the same scenario with women. Any candidate out there should be aware of today’s plugged-in world. No comment is made in privacy. Someone has recorded it, and tomorrow it may very well appear on YouTube, as this comment about McCaskill already has.

Someone needs to muzzle Akin for the next two weeks.

Diana Reese is a freelance journalist in Kansas City and a former editor of Missouri Life magazine. Follow her on Twitter at @dianareese.

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Butter

From Steamy Kitchen.com

baked-spaghetti-squash-garlic-butter-4600.jpg

I tend to under-bake the spaghetti squash just a bit, so it still retains just a slight crunch. Baking time really depends on how big your squash is – try to get the smallest one, especially if you’re only feeding 4 people. It’s ready if you can pierce the squash with a paring knife with little resistance. If you’re a garlic love, don’t be shy – use more!

Alternatively, microwave the whole squash for 2-4 minutes (to soften enough to cut lengthwise). Place squash cut-side down on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes until tender.

Ingredients:

1 small spaghetti squash (about 3-4 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely minced parsley (or basil)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Pierce squash a few times with sharp paring knife (to let steam escape). Bake spaghetti squash for 60 minutes, or until a paring knife pierces easily through skin with little resistance. Let squash cool for 10 minutes.

2. Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Use a fork to remove and discard the seeds. Continue using fork to scrape the squash to get long, lovely strands. If the squash seem difficult to scrape, return the squash to bake for an additional 10 minutes.

3. Heat a large saute pan with the butter and the garlic over medium-low heat. When garlic becomes fragrant, add parsley, salt and spaghetti squash strands. Toss well, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and taste to see if you need additional salt. The spaghetti squash should have a slight crunch (i.e. not mushy) – but if you like it softer, cover the pan and cook 2 more minutes.

Civics for Kids

Now, this is cute.  Democracy Prep gets the kids to get the message out that whether you are for Romney or Obama, you need to vote!

What women voters want / Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post

 

How many years of the woman have we had? Let me count.

To the extent that women’s votes count more than men’s, it’s been the year of the woman since at least 1964 — when women began outvoting men.

 In 2008, 10 million more women than men voted, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

The operative assumption, obviously, is that women pick winners and losers as a voting bloc. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is true that more women are trending toward Barack Obama than Mitt Romney. But this owes only partly to the usual “women’s issues.” And it is, potentially, temporary.

Thanks to certain outspoken members/supporters of the GOP, the Democratic Party has been able to capitalize on a fiction created by the Obama campaign — the alleged “war on women.” It is not helpful when people such as Rush Limbaugh call Sandra Fluke a “slut” for her position that insurance should cover contraception. Then there was Todd Akin’s strange intelligence that victims of “legitimate rape” don’t get pregnant, a flourish of rare ignorance. Check the birthrates in countries where rape is employed as a weapon. Finally, some Republican-led states have waved one too many ultrasound wands at women.

While these incidents and anecdotes provide handy faces for dart practice, they constitute a war on women only if all women find these positions reprehensible. And only if all women care more about contraception and reproductive rights above all other issues, which is not the case.

This also happens to be the year of the fiscal cliff, when automatic spending cuts take effect at the same time Bush-era tax breaks expire. It’s the fourth year of a $1 trillion budget deficit. It is a year that the number of unemployed Americans is still too high and economic recovery too slow.

It is also the year that al-Qaeda caught its breath and began gaining traction again, and when terrorists murdered one of our ambassadors. It is another year when America’s standing as the world’s brightest light continues to dim, and that the Arab Spring descended into an extremist winter.

These are things that women care about, too.

Women, in other words, recognize the gravity of the problems this nation faces and are likely to pick a candidate based on these issues rather than on a party’s platform on abortion and contraception.

In fact, women, who are not a monolithic group any more than men are, don’t really rank reproductive issues at the top of their concerns. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that fewer than 1 percent of respondents mentioned women’s health or birth control as top election-year issues. On access to birth control and abortion, attitudes tend to reflect party affiliation rather than gender. A USA Today-Gallup poll this year found that women split on abortion in numbers comparable to the country as a whole, which is 49 percent to 45 percent favoring abortion rights.

Topping women’s concerns are the same things that are men’s highest concerns: the economy and jobs. The smartest candidate will recognize this sooner rather than later.

In Virginia’s Senate race between former governors Tim Kaine and George Allen, Kaine, the Democrat, has tried to merge the issues. Abortion and birth control are fundamentally economic issues, he says. Few seem to recall that, in one of the early Republican primary debates, Romney responded to a question about contraception as follows: “It’s working just fine. Just leave it alone.”

This doesn’t sound like a call to arms against women.

When subsequently asked what he thought about the gender gap, Romney said he wished that his wife, Ann, were there to answer the question. Romney benefits greatly from his better half, as he would put it, but he errs in thinking a woman would do a better job answering the question than would a man.

Women do not require special handling because, for the most part, they do not think of themselves first or primarily as women. (This is big news for those men who failed to take note.)

Women think of themselves as breadwinners and job-seekers. They think of themselves as parents who want good schools and enough money to send their kids to college. They think of themselves as Americans who worry about national security and the nation’s image abroad.

These are the issues that matter to women, the vast majority of whom will cast their votes accordingly. How about we ditch the gender nonsense and declare this the year of the American?

kathleenparker@washpost.com

By , Published: October 9

How many years of the woman have we had? Let me count.

To the extent that women’s votes count more than men’s, it’s been the year of the woman since at least 1964 — when women began outvoting men.

In 2008, 10 million more women than men voted, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

The operative assumption, obviously, is that women pick winners and losers as a voting bloc. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is true that more women are trending toward Barack Obama than Mitt Romney. But this owes only partly to the usual “women’s issues.” And it is, potentially, temporary.

Thanks to certain outspoken members/supporters of the GOP, the Democratic Party has been able to capitalize on a fiction created by the Obama campaign — the alleged “war on women.” It is not helpful when people such as Rush Limbaugh call Sandra Fluke a “slut” for her position that insurance should cover contraception. Then there was Todd Akin’s strange intelligence that victims of “legitimate rape” don’t get pregnant, a flourish of rare ignorance. Check the birthrates in countries where rape is employed as a weapon. Finally, some Republican-led states have waved one too many ultrasound wands at women.

While these incidents and anecdotes provide handy faces for dart practice, they constitute a war on women only if all women find these positions reprehensible. And only if all women care more about contraception and reproductive rights above all other issues, which is not the case.

This also happens to be the year of the fiscal cliff, when automatic spending cuts take effect at the same time Bush-era tax breaks expire. It’s the fourth year of a $1 trillion budget deficit. It is a year that the number of unemployed Americans is still too high and economic recovery too slow.

It is also the year that al-Qaeda caught its breath and began gaining traction again, and when terrorists murdered one of our ambassadors. It is another year when America’s standing as the world’s brightest light continues to dim, and that the Arab Spring descended into an extremist winter.

These are things that women care about, too.

Women, in other words, recognize the gravity of the problems this nation faces and are likely to pick a candidate based on these issues rather than on a party’s platform on abortion and contraception.

In fact, women, who are not a monolithic group any more than men are, don’t really rank reproductive issues at the top of their concerns. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that fewer than 1 percent of respondents mentioned women’s health or birth control as top election-year issues. On access to birth control and abortion, attitudes tend to reflect party affiliation rather than gender. A USA Today-Gallup poll this year found that women split on abortion in numbers comparable to the country as a whole, which is 49 percent to 45 percent favoring abortion rights.

Topping women’s concerns are the same things that are men’s highest concerns: the economy and jobs. The smartest candidate will recognize this sooner rather than later.

In Virginia’s Senate race between former governors Tim Kaine and George Allen, Kaine, the Democrat, has tried to merge the issues. Abortion and birth control are fundamentally economic issues, he says. Few seem to recall that, in one of the early Republican primary debates, Romney responded to a question about contraception as follows: “It’s working just fine. Just leave it alone.”

This doesn’t sound like a call to arms against women.

When subsequently asked what he thought about the gender gap, Romney said he wished that his wife, Ann, were there to answer the question. Romney benefits greatly from his better half, as he would put it, but he errs in thinking a woman would do a better job answering the question than would a man.

Women do not require special handling because, for the most part, they do not think of themselves first or primarily as women. (This is big news for those men who failed to take note.)

Women think of themselves as breadwinners and job-seekers. They think of themselves as parents who want good schools and enough money to send their kids to college. They think of themselves as Americans who worry about national security and the nation’s image abroad.

These are the issues that matter to women, the vast majority of whom will cast their votes accordingly. How about we ditch the gender nonsense and declare this the year of the American?

 

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The Mom Vivant / Tweeting is how we Talk!

I can’t wait to see what Saturday Night Live has in store this week for the Presidential Debates with Candy Crowley. First, the fact that there were three people debating what Obama actually said that day after the attacks in the Rose Garden once she joined the conversation. Umm, that was a little in-a-pro-pro, wouldn’t you say? (That’s Mom Vivant slang for inappropriate) How funny was it when Big Bird appeared on Saturday Night Live to say how uncomfortable he feels now that he got singled out in a Presidential debate and everybody knows who he is? Or when he talked about all the tweets he’d gotten in response to Romney’s remarks and the moderator said, “Oh, Big Bird, are you on Twitter? And he said, no. That’s how we talk. I’m a Bird.” My personal favorite is when they showed Obama drifting off during the first Presidential debate because he was worried about getting Michelle the right gift for their anniversary. I’m sorry but all that was missing was the speech bubble over his head the night of the actual debate. (Big disclaimer here that as a mid-40s woman, I thank God I don’t have a speech bubble above me either for all those moments that you call one kids by the others’ name, lose your keys, etc.!) Proof again, that when it comes to politics, Saturday Night Live is spot on! Why can’t politics be that much fun all of the time? And why can’t our leaders tap into the public consciousness the way this cast of characters does every Saturday during election season?

Women in Binders and Waitress Moms

I thought women’s issues would play a much bigger role in Tuesday night’s second Presidential debate since Mitt Romney practically erased President Barack Obama’s lead with women after the last debate. Thankfully, they didn’t. That might sound funny coming from a woman but women need to demand that politicians speak to us on other issues besides abortion and birth control. Because quite honestly, both sides have been using these issues to divide us. And women on both sides are being manipulated to play roles that are 40 years old. And we’re playing them.

Let’s look at the “women in binders” comment and how a liberal PAC bought the URL and flipped the switch that sent the phrase viral, lampooning Romney.  I was part of a CafeMom forum right after the debate and while Ariana did mention it, it didn’t ignite much interest or controversy, because we were too busy talking about more substantive things. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M7s5hEDh_0&feature=youtu.be. I believe Romney was referring to the many women whose resumes he considered and eventually employed, which is what Paul Ryan told the morning talks shows this morning : http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/10/internet-takes-off-with-mitt-romneys-binders-full-of-women/

My best childhood friend and I disagree on Romney because she is worried he is going to appoint a conservative judge who could overturn Roe v. Wade just to get re-elected to a second term. A conservative Democrat friend sent me literature from the Ultra Violet organization yesterday mocking Romney for his flip flops on women’s issues.  Good, smart women feel alienated and are worried but aren’t sure where they fit in to the discussion or how to influence it. Or whether the information they are getting is real or “spin.” It doesn’t help when reasonable women like Olympia Snow bow out of politics altogether. Or when the New York Times publishes an article like yesterday’s, on the eve of the debate, scaring women into thinking that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, 30 states will ban abortion.

I believe if you polled every person in this country, you would find most of us want legal protections to remain in place while agreeing to disagree on whether you personally would have an abortion. Unfortunately. a lot of women are so tired of the abortion dialectic, and the fact that it hasn’t moved forward in 40 years but is stuck in a tug-of-war between the extremes, that they don’t dial in until the scare tactics kick in weeks before a major election. We should be letting our legislators know, Republican or Democrat, we’ve moved past that. You can’t take it away and you can’t use it to divide us.

I read a great Gallup poll the other day that said pro-choice voters are much more likely to vote for a pro-life candidate than the other way around. I think it’s because pro-choice voters are more reasonable about where the line is between religion or personal beliefs and government. They are not always pro-abortion but they are respectful of an individual’s right to choose. Because at the end of the day, many of them realize abortion and birth control are personal issues that the government has no role in deciding. Ditto stem cell research and gay marriage.

The majority of new small businesses in this country are started by women.  Single women make up 20% of the electorate. The unemployment rate for single women is 3 percentage points higher than the general population. And reportedly, the most fought over segment of single women voters right now is the “Waitress Mom.” Blue collar single mothers who could turn out to be this election’s Reagan Democrats.

Call me naive but no politician in our lifetimes should think it’s a good idea to alienate women voters by seriously trying to overturn our right to control whether we bear children. The landscape has changed dramatically in the last 40 years. Women work, they earn more money, they lead major corporations and they are not one issue voters.  It is a shame that a decent person and excellent manager and business person like Mitt Romney, whose mother ran for the US Senate on a pro-choice candidate after a family friend experienced a horrific, illegal abortion, had to appease the small but loud group of social conservatives that have hijacked these conversations to get thru the nomination process.

That isn’t to say that some of the cavemen in Republican politics won’t keep coming up with ideas like the law that would have required women to undergo invasive sonograms before undergoing an abortion. But I would argue that this is crass politicking whose ultimate goal is to galvanize social conservatives and not to actually undo abortion rights overall. That’s why neither candidate is talking about the Supreme Court lately, which now has 4 justices over 70 and at least one who is seriously ill.  Paul Ryan did say it should be up to lawmakers and not unelected judges to decide, which was interesting.  I would say the Supreme Court should be apolitical, a collection of the brightest legal scholars who are detached from polling and politicians, and whose appointments are not subject to litmus tests.

Kudos to Romney for saying he believes all women should have access to birth control. And he showed he really has worked side by side with women over the last few decades when he said, the truth is many women prefer flexible hours to higher wages. For the record, I support equal pay and birth control and am pro-choice. But none of these issues should trump the deficit and budget as the biggest concern our country has right now. I don’t think either candidate is perfect (Who is, really?) but I do not like the distortions. And that’s why I feel the need to point out that Bain Capital was ranked one of the best companies for working mothers by Working Mother magazine because of its flex time and the high number of women in top management positions.

So, did Obama pull those waitress moms back in on Tuesday night? Well, with polls leading up to Tuesday night’s debate showing only 1 in 6 voters said they were still undecided, it will be interesting to see.

 

 

 

The Mom Vivant / Fighting for the youth vote “)

I just had to ask a girlfriend on a walk this morning how you spell gangnam, as in gong-nahm, the fun new dance that my son and his friends all did at a rockin’ bar mitzvah on Saturday Night. I could post them doing it, or even better, post the video of Mitt Romney doing it that went viral after the debates. Really, it was too funny. So, too the conversation around Big Bird. First Bert and Ernie got dragged into the elections, even though Jim Henson, swears they’re asexual, now it’s Big Bird. Worry not, young voters. The PBS brand, from Mr. Rogers to Big Bird will probably wind up on a fledging cable network that needs quality programming. Can anyone say, “O?” (Okay, Oprah, you know I looooove you but it might not be a bad idea!) I did think the Obama campaign was digging deep to retrieve its army of young voters when they trotted out a real life – someone paid millions of dollars for this – campaign commercial revolving around the death of Big Bird at the hands of a mean Big Business candidate.