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Not that anyone needs to be reminded, but the American process for selecting presidential nominees is nuts. The notion that a few thousand troubled and disaffected ultra-rightists — people so far gone that a big chunk of them actually voted for a truly disturbed theocrat like Rick Santorum – are capable of winnowing the field 10 months before the election is beyond amazing. 

For North Carolinians, the crazy, “front-leaded” primary  calendar is a particular drag since it almost always assures that their choices will be greatly reduced, if not nonexistent come the first week of May.

For progressives, last night’s Iowa caucuses provided a mixture of good and bad news. Read More

Columnist Timothy Egan speaks some important truths in an NYT column posted last night entitled “Migrants from Sanity.”

Willard Romney and Pizza Man Cain are the chief targets, but the column is really an indictment of the entire knuckle-headed, anti-immigrant right-wing.

This is the excellent conclusion:

“The problem, through good times and bad, is that there are millions of jobs that Americans will not do. [Especially, Egan might have added, when they're offered subsistence wages.] The solution, some combination of path to citizenship with guest worker programs, should be within the grasp of the better political minds.

But tepid Democrats are afraid of doing anything. And some Republicans want a death fence, and will go after anyone who has an illegal on his lawn. It’s the great disconnect — yet another reason why so many Americans have a higher regard for a single-celled protozoan than a politician working the stump.”

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Why is it that North Carolinians continue to voice frustration with President Obama and yet, at the same time, express a willingness to give him a second term in office? Aside from the utter moral, political and intellectual vacuity of the Republican challengers, it’s this:

Most North Carolinians want Obama to be Obama – or, at least, the Obama they perceived him to be in 2008 – and they think he can still get there.

Ironically, Obama’s struggles in purple North Carolina are not the result of him being too progressive; they are the result of him being too moderate. Read More

It comes from Steve Benen of Washington Monthly:

“And as hard as it is to believe, it’s very likely the Republican presidential nomination will go to a French-speaking Mormon vulture capitalist named Willard, who used to support abortion rights, gay rights, gun control, “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, and combating climate change, and who distanced himself from Reagan, attended Planned Parenthood fundraisers, and helped create the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act.”

Hard to believe that the right-wingers can be happy about this.

A recent AP/Ipsos poll asked the question: Are you a) very conservative, b) somewhat conservative, c) moderate, d) somewhat liberal, or e) very liberal? The results: 14% very conservative; 27% somewhat conservative; 34% moderate; 15% somewhat liberal; 6% very liberal. If you lump together the results you get:

Conservative 41%

Moderate 34%

Liberal 21%

Yet, when Americans are polled they overwhelmingly support liberal policies (universal health insurance, social security, education, gun control, minimum wage, etc). Apparently, people are afraid to self-identify themselves as liberal. Clearly, the right-wing has won the branding wars. “Conservative “ has a positive connotation which people are eager to identify with (fiscal discipline, strong national defense, small government). “Liberal” is a dirty word because progressive’s have been unfairly stereotyped as tax and spend, anti-military, I-hate-America bureaucrats. Now throw in the incendiary social wedge issues of guns, God, and gays and you begin to understand the poll results a little more clearly.

Does any of this really matter? Absolutely. This sort of fearfulness has a direct effect on public policy and here’s why: if liberals are timid we tend to nominate safe “centrist” candidates (i.e. the 2000 era Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, and the 2004 version of John Edwards).

So. Problem number one is that Democratic centrist candidates lose a lot of elections. Problem number two is that liberal candidates who move to the center to get elected have already compromised their ability to govern progressively. The conservatives are not interested in meeting in the middle. If liberals unilaterally move to the center then, by default, the right has succeeded in fighting the battle on their terms. By the way, the only time you see conservative candidates moving to the center to get elected is when it is part of a bait-and-switch strategy like “compassionate conservatism.”

C’mon folks. If you want to see progressive policies enacted then we need to elect progressive candidates. People who give lip service to progressive policies, but won’t enthusiastically support openly liberal candidates, are playing right into the hands of Karl Rove. Progressives need to be more bold and less submissive. We need more Russ Feingold’s and fewer Joe Lieberman’s.