Sick and tired of the usual, grueling day-to-day coverage of the US presidential election? Yeah, me too. Yet there are still 10 days to go until the watershed election day..

 Besides the repetitive email scandals on one side and gross sexist, racist rambling on the other side, there are still challenging issues and fascinating stories. 7Days2Vote is a project that aims to tell those stories and document what individual voters care about. 2 friends are road tripping through the Eastern and Southeastern states and taping interviews with voters. The videos will be released successively during the 7 days leading up to the election (hence the name) and I’m really excited about the project. The project is mainly German, but the twitter feed and the videos will be bilingual.

Full disclosure: I run the twitter account @7days2vote and Daniel is my younger brother 🙂

Bring It.

In the midst of this US government shutdown, some statements by House Republicans show where the real problem lies. From the New York Times: 

“We’ve got a name for it in the House: it’s called the Senate surrender caucus,” said Representative Tim Huelskamp, Republican of Kansas. “Anybody who would vote for that in the House as Republican would virtually guarantee a primary challenger.”

So what? Not to be over dramatic, Representative, but you would not do something that would prevent damage from your country, because it would mean you won’t have your reelection just handed over to you? Because you’ll have to fight for it? Win actual arguments? Rally actual grassroots support? What kind of a politician in a democracy are you?

That connectswith a thought I’ve had during this whole shebang: Where are the moderate, less fundamentalist Republicans? This should be a rallying cry for them. This demise of the GOP (just google recent approval polls) is mainly caused by anti-government extremists from the Tea Party and similar groups. Apparently they are the vocal minority in the party, ruling over the primaries, which is why everyone and their strategists is so afraid of them. They can dominate the primaries because they’re the largest group to show up.There must be many ‘moderates’, many Chris Christie-type Republicans, who just don’t show up on a grass roots level, who don’t make their less extremist voices heard. Who might not agree with (my) liberal politics but who don’t agree with holding their country hostage either. 

How about showing up to the fights instead of giving in. Isn’t that an American value, GOP?


Does anyone else see the irony in the elephant being the symbol of the Republican Party?

Elephants live in matriarchal groups where males are excluded except to breed.  They’re herbivores and are known to be highly empathetic to other elephants as well as their dead; if one elephant in the group is in trouble, all the other elephants will pitch in to help it out.  They also practice collective raising of the young, with young elephants being tended to by all members of the herd.

You guys, elephants are socialist vegan feminists who support public education.

It’s also worth mentioning that most elephants are bisexual.

And why should we be surprised at this catastrophe? Where was growth supposed to come from? Consumers, still burdened by the debt that they ran up during the housing bubble, aren’t ready to spend. Businesses see no reason to expand given the lack of consumer demand. And thanks to that deficit obsession, government, which could and should be supporting the economy in its time of need, has been pulling back.

Now it looks as if it’s all about to get even worse. So what’s the response?

To turn this disaster around, a lot of people are going to have to admit, to themselves at least, that they’ve been wrong and need to change their priorities, right away.

Democrats won a provision drawn from automatic-cut mechanisms in previous decades that exempts low-income entitlement programs. There is no requirement that a balanced-budget amendment pass Congress. There will be no second hostage-taking on the debt ceiling in a few months, as Speaker John Boehner and his band of radicals originally demanded. Democratic negotiators decided that the automatic cut system, as bad as it is, was less of a threat to the economy than another default crisis, and many are counting on future Congresses to undo its arbitrary butchering.
Sadly, in a political environment laced with lunacy, that calculation is probably correct.

To put it even more precisely, the Democrats agreed to agree with the Republicans. Make no mistake: the two parties did not meet halfway. One of them travelled all the way over to the other one’s house and knocked on the door. The Republicans barely made it down to the hall. From a Democratic or merely centrist point of view this is, as the New York Times puts it in an unusually unequivocal editorial, “a terrible deal”.
It’s odd: Obama only gets worked up about means, not ends. He seems more interested in process, than the outcome of the process. His major interventions, like his televised speech on Monday night, contain pleas for the parties to come together, and schoolmasterly admonishments to Washington politicians. But his political mission is still as vague and unformed as it was in 2008. He is content to preach, rather than lead. The nadir of this approach was reached over the weekend, when he asked his followers to Tweet the word “compromise” to their Republican representatives. Is this what he meant, back then, by audacity? A plaintive plea for compromise with hardline conservatives?