Four Years Ago

Pic of the day: Vase with 12 sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh

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Considerate la vostra semenza:
fatti non foste a viver come bruti,
ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.

Consider your origin;
you were not born to live like brutes,
but to follow virtue and knowledge.

Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy; Inferno, Canto XXVI, lines 118-120

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It’s September 27th. There are political races heating up all over the place. But the big one, Obama – Romney feels… meh. Obama, according to most polls seems to have this in hand, but one has to remember a few things. Polls are not always correct. The Republican base is a large one, and it will not ever vote for a Democrat no matter how good for the country that Democrat has been, just like a good Republican President would not get votes from the Democratic base.

Think about it like this. Four years ago much of the nation was swept up in a fervor to sweep Dubya out of office for destroying the economy. With all the fervor that was out there, the man who won the Presidency won with 52.9% of the popular vote.

Not exactly a landslide. The electoral vote (the important one) was a landslide, but the popular vote was not the sweep that many thought would happen. Nearly 60 million voters voted for a Republican despite all the damage the Republicans did to the economy.

So anyone thinking this is going to be easy, for anyone, is being extremely overconfident in a place where that can be very, very dangerous.

I say that to say this.

Four years ago today, President Obama was ahead of John McCain by 7.6%. Today, President Obama is ahead by 4%. That is a thought to chew on for everyone involved.

Four years ago today John McCain in the polls had 43.6 percent of potential voters in his pocket. Today Mitt Romney has 44.9 percent of potential voters in his pocket, a 1.3 percent increase from four years ago.

Four years ago today Senator Obama was favored by 47.9 percent of the people in polling. Today President Obama is favored by48.9% of those polled, a one percent increase from four years ago.

So we are not so far removed from those days.

And four years ago then Senator Obama had the economy beating the hell out of the Republicans, and was a decided advantage in his favor. Now there are people who blame him for the self same economic problems that still plague our great nation, ones that stem from and were born in those tumultuous days four short years ago.

So while things my not be far removed from those days, things have changed. Some for the better, some for the worse.

No one should think this race is over by any stretch. No matter how many gaffes Mitt Romney makes, his base is large and will vote for him no matter what. If John McCain can get almost 46 percent of the vote for President in a year when much of the nation hated what the Republicans were, how much more can Mitt Romney get with the Republican brand in better health now than it was a scant few years back?

Fight hard for it. Fight like it matters.

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.

Most Curious

Pic of the day:  Whistler’s Mother, by James Whistler

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Democracy and freedom do not guarantee the millennium. No, we do not choose political freedom because it promises us this or that. We choose it because it makes possible the only dignified form of human coexistence, the only form in which we can be fully responsible for ourselves. Whether we realize its possibilities depends on all kinds of things — and above all on ourselves.

Karl Popper, On Freedom

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Viddy of the day:  George Carlin – Airport Security

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I love George Carlin. Just saying…

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I’ve been reading the polls again, and the President’s approval ratings are not too bad.  The nation is about evenly divided now on whether they approve of the job the man is doing with around a 49% positive, while Mitt Romney positive rating sits at about 40%.  That is probably why there are so many attacks going on throughout the wonderful internetz  and all over the right wing media that we as a nation have to live with.

The most curious numbers I ran into are the “direction of the country” poll numbers.  I’ve always thought that was a bit of an difficult thing to ask about in polls, simply because  a word or two here, a word of two there and you’ve turned a simple question into a partisan attack.  If you don’t know what I mean, take a look at any poll from any PAC.  The NRA is notorious in twisting words to get answers that they want, rather than a non leading question that might give them a realistic answer to a plausible question.

Most places have seen a steady increase in how good people feel about the direction of the country.  Reuters and the AP have 37 and 35% respectively saying that the country is moving in the right direction, up 10% from 6 months ago.  Which is actually pretty damn good.  I haven’t seen numbers this high in a while here. Except for the people at Rasmussen, who still apparently think the whole world is in the shitter, with numbers 10% below the nation average.   But then again Rasmussen is well, let me tell you this way…

I don’t know why I did it, but I looked at some polling from the right wing Rasmussen Reports.  The numbers were ….umm…  The problem was the poll itself.  The article title is: 73 percent say men and women earn equal pay in the workplace.

Wow.  Just wow.  What this poll actually proves: 73% of the workforce are a bunch of clueless fucks.  The poll also stated that the numbers haven’t changed from when they asked this question back in 2010.

Ladies?  Am I wrong here to think this is insane?  Are you now getting as much money as the guys?  Have we finally gotten it right, or is Rasmussen passing off Bullshit?  I want to know.

That’s the kind of people are at Rasmussen.  I want to know if I’m wrong to distrust their numbers.  You tell me, what direction you think America is going in?  Do women really make as much as men? Drop a line, I’m honestly interested.

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Call this bit Commenting on Commenting redux:

Been bouncing around the web, fighting trolls.  Dealing with crazy people on twitter and a few other sites.  I was on twitter reading the news, and ran into the hashtag #MoviesWithObama, and there would be some lame hater bullshit attached to it like “Dude, where’s my Czar” or “Citizen Hussein.”  Frankly it was easy dealing with that,  just make the movies more positive, or trying to be funnier.

I don’t know that the humor was successful.  I’m better with flippant remarks than actual jokes.  “What’s eating Rush Limbaugh” was about the best humor I could come up with, I was better with straight up positivity, just to fight the haters.  Not gonna add anything else I tossed out there.  Find me on twitter if yer interested. Look on the left side of the page to follow me on twitter.  Felt good even if it didn’t reach any of the haters who were posting there.

Then I ran into this, out of the blue, it was completely random:  Obama is quite capable of destroying himself with his record of attacks on our rights, his wars, and his stupidity.

I responded with the simple, His Wars?  Which wars did he start?  As far as attacks on our rights, I countered with a simple “Those attacks are as much in your imagination as anywhere, if you can’t name them in public.”  I have very publicly taken the President to task here, and will do so everywhere else I see fit, but when dealing with unnamed accusations and vaguery, I decided that attacking that vagueness was the only feasible way to handle it.  Specifics can and should be dealt with, but vague bullshit never flies here.

As far as stupidity I simply said “The Man got himself elected President and has gotten most of what he wanted to get done done.  He can’t be that stupid.  What have you done lately?”  That shut’em ALL the fuck up.

And that felt good.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Question: What Do Titian, Virginia Woolf, and Polling Have In Common?

Answer: Beyond being together in this article, not a damn thing.

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Pic of the day:  Diana and Actaeon by Titian

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Yet there are moments when the walls of the mind grow thin; when nothing is unabsorbed, and I could fancy that we might blow so vast a bubble that the sun might set and rise in it and we might take the blue of midday and the black of midnight and be cast off and escape from here and now.

Virginia Woolf, The Waves

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Santorum is done.  Finished.  Dead in the water.  It’s been nearly three weeks since he has lead in any polls anywhere, for what little that’s worth.  The last one that I read where he had a lead was a poll with a remarkably small voter pool.  Only 301 people polled.  You couldn’t get reliable poll numbers with a sample that small a number of people polled here on Staten Island, population 500,000.  To use that for a national poll is ridiculous.

But then again most polls are pretty damn ridiculous to begin with.  Think about this.  The largest sample size for any poll is 1,200 people polled by gallup.  That is .000009% of the voting population, using the amount of people who voted in the 2008 Presidential election as a template.

I just don’t see how it can be accurate, at least not for the nation as a whole.  And yet the numbers these people come up with are overall at least somewhat correct.  Perplexing.  Most polls from 2008 (to use that election as an example) were close, but they were a fair bit off in a number of instances, and one could make the presumption that it was too small a sample size hurt at least a bit.

Don’t remember it, you say?  Let me remind you.  Gallup had then Senator Obama winning by 11 percentage points, as did Reuters/Zogby.  Both with a MOE (margin of error) under 3 points.  Battleground had the Senator Obama winning by only 2 %, with an MOE of 3.5%.  And of all the major pollsters, 15 organizations, only 2 of them nailed it.  Two.

He actually won with 52.9% of the vote, and by significantly less than the 11%, and more than the 2% given in the above examples.  It does surprise that the pollsters get as close as they do, but the fluctuations in those numbers, and the reason that a lot of these guys miss when they do is due to a number of factors, methinks.

An important one beyond small sample size is wording of questions.  I’ve read a number of these things, and you would be surprised at how biased most of these things are.  Even the ones that claim to be non-partisan have some level of bias in them.  I have not ever seen a single one without it, and that bias leads the answerer to take that bias into consideration when answering the questions asked.

If you ask a series of  questions about a candidate early in a poll, then ask about that candidate and whether someone would vote for them, the prior questions asked will obviously affect those answers, which in turn affects the poll numbers, which in turn affect the people who read and believe the poll.  It’s called the snowball effect.

Pollsters seem to not realize this.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Why Mitt Is Struggling

Mitt Romney, for those of you who aren’t paying attention is actually doing well as far as his chances in his bid to win the Republican nomination for President.  You would not know it from the news coverage, though.  As far as the popular vote goes he is the only Republican to get over a million total votes so far.  He has received slightly over 41% of the vote in all so far, with his closest challenger being Newt Gingrich with just over 31% of the vote.

If you wanted to show how well Mitt is doing though, you should also have a look at the delegate count at this point.  Mitt has over 50%  (98 of 194)of the total delegates that have been meted out so far, with his closest challenger Rick Santorum having only 22½% (44 of 194)of the delegates.

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Viddy of the day:  Romney tops Santorum in CPAC Straw poll

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So why is Mitt being seen as struggling?  That is fairly simple, no Republican front runner has been able to hold onto front runner status for very long, and Mitt has had it and lost it, only to regain it again.  Which is nice, but now that he is seen as losing momentum to Rick Santorum over the last few weeks, the reporting community at large seems to think that Mitt is hearing footsteps, to use NFL vernacular.

Santorum’s poll numbers over the last two weeks over all have been nothing short of impressive.  2 weeks ago on the 28th of January, Newt Gingrich actually had a lead in national polling over Mitt Romney, 31.3 to 27.5%, with the former Pennsylvania senator behind with only 15.8% of the populace behind him.

But behind evangelical populism, strong rhetoric from Santorum against the contraception rule (which the Obama White House has since waived) and millions from a religious super pac have pushed Rick into prominence in the field.  His strong conservative values didn’t hurt, either.

The race is now much different as a result.

Newt has fallen into a hole, with his numbers dropping over 10% in the last 2 weeks to 20.4%.  And while Mitt has actually added some more voters to his side of the equation, with his rolling average up to 30.6 percent from 27.5%, It is the Santorum groundswell that has gotten most of the attention, and added almost 8 ½% to his numbers over that time span, with his support now sitting at 24.2% of the rolling national average of polling data from all polls taken over that time period.

Far from it being Mitt’s race to lose, even with former Gov. Romney’s tight win in Maine, it is now Rick Santorum who looks to be in the drivers seat, and it is his race to win.

Mitt needs to make some big breaking news, some good news, needs to dominate the news cycle positively in order to break away from Santorum here or else this turns into a real dogfight for him, and he might not be able to win that fight.

So it is a lot of things, as you can see that are making someone who is seemingly doing quite well fall apart before our very eyes.

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Pic of the day: Assumption of the Virgin, by Peter Paul Reubens

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Solutions nearly always come from the direction you least expect, which means there’s no point trying to look in that direction because it won’t be coming from there.

Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

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Mitt Romney can’t catch a break.  On a Saturday,  a normally slow news day, the week after the end of the NFL season Mitt has what one would think is the only story that would circulate around the airwaves, his win in the Maine caucus.  After a week where he has taken a pounding over his inability to take over and win in 3 states where, until late last week he was winning, he needs the coverage, the national exposure of his win in Maine to bring him some momentum.

Two problems with that.

The first one is the fact that he didn’t win by much.  At this point in the proceeding, Mitt has won, but he won by a not very impressive margin, 3% or to put it in perspective he won by a grand total of 194 votes.  It isn’t the dead heat that Iowa was, or the big losses of earlier this week, but the man didn’t exactly run away from the field.  And so close to his base in Massachusetts, the state he used to govern.

The second one is a fluke.  And not a pretty one, but one which will be talked about on all the regular news stations as the lead story.  The death of Whitney Houston at 48 years old.  I will not speak on entertainment news, as that is not news I am offhand interested in, and not being a fan of the late Mrs. Houston.  What I will say is that this poor kids untimely demise will take much headline space away from Mitt on a night when he normally could have expected to be the only news of national import going on.

I’d feel sorry for the guy, but he’s a multimillionaire who put himself in a position to lose, in a position where he needs all the positive exposure he can get.  Sucks that Whitney’s dead though. I wasn’t a fan but she did a great job of singing the National Anthem at Super-Bowl XXV, and that is worth a moment of silence.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Late Night Idle Talk Strikes Back

Roddy seems intent on the television.  There is just a picture.  Almost no movement, no sound.  But watch long enough, and he sees the smallest movement, and reacts. Eyes light up, body springs to attention.  Notices something like him on the other side of the screen. Something ready to fight.

A foot moves a half an inch and he is on it.  Nothing escapes his watch.  Four eyes, two each from two opponents on the screen lock onto each other.  And then they leap and the fight begins.  One stays high ready to strike like lightning, the other goes low, drawing his opponent in.  Legs flying, teeth set in an angry snarl, the fighters clash, high fighter aiming low to hit his opponent, low fighter striking upwards in an attempt to bring his opponent to him.

Roddy sees it all, watching, waiting, anticipating each move with eyes locked like lasers on a stationary target.  Then his attention is stolen away by a piece of string.

He can’t help it though, he’s only a cat.  A cat who a moment ago was watching two cats fight on screen.  He turns again to watch, but seeing no fighting, licks his paws while keeping his attention on the screen.

Happy cat.

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Pic of the day: Cats with young in Garden, 12th century

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Walking through the park in the late afternoon, trying to find something.

Something like an epiphany, like a moment of clarity, like a turning point.

Turning towards what?

A better life, a happier world, a feeling of peace.

Can’t find it, but the search is key.

If there is no search, there can be no find.

It will happen in time.

In time.

Not concerned.

There is always tomorrow.

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It seems that all of these lately have become “Idle talk” type of articles.  There is much less in the way of news, business, and political commentary and much more of a sharp focus on personal issues in my life.  Very much the diary almost, and for good reason.  Much of my focus over the last few months has turned inward, with the health issues and eventual and untimely death of my father.

I simply have not had the wherewithal to look as pointedly at politics and other worldly issues as I used to.  I don’t think that will stay that way, there is far too much at stake in the 4 year election cycle as it currently exists.

But for those of you who grew used to my usual rants I have a message.  You know me and my anger towards the use of the term socialism (among other terms) and its use in PC society as some sort of pejorative term used by those Un-American NEOCON (aka tea party) asshats against those of us who would stand up to a system that crushes real freedom.  You know about my urge to sharp and angry criticism of government abuse of freedom in the form of ACTA, FISA, the latest NDAA, the Patriot act and it’s other kith and kin.

Well, get ready.  It is going to hit the fan pretty soon. I’m getting the urge to start a fire.

Romney is the devil, and I’m gonna nail this bastard to the wall for it.  He’s got a plan to get America back to work alright.  You’ll make minimum wage, need 3 jobs to pay your bills and you’ll have no time to live, but you’ll be working.  And this he’ll call progress, the fucking psychopath.

Someone needs to tell Mitt the economy is coming back, no thanks to him or his Republican friends.

A quick political aside.

I love polls, sometimes they are amazingly accurate, sometimes they simply show the wants of the pollster in question.  Read one that caught my eye, or tried to.  They would not let me read it, you have to subscribe to get results to the poll.  Which is bullshit.  No other pollster does that.  Done simply to get subscribers.  But then again the people at Rasmussen always were assholes.

The only info they gave was that in a national election, if it were held today, Rick Santorum would beat Barack Obama.  I guffawed at this.  Santorum, in polls done by other Republican pollsters, losses by upwards of 9 points. Less partisan polls give Obama an 11-15 point edge.

Polling for Romney is closer, with the President generally beating him by a few points, but losing in a few more partisan polls.  No surprises just yet polling wise.  More on this subject later.

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The writer is a spiritual anarchist, as in the depth of his soul every man is. He is discontented with everything and everybody. The writer is everybody’s best friend and only true enemy — the good and great enemy. He neither walks with the multitude nor cheers with them. The writer who is a writer is a rebel who never stops.

William Saroyan, The William Saroyan reader

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Minor edit, two words removed, two spacing issues dealt with, 11:19 am 2/5/12

The House Is A Mess

The house is a mess.  But that’s OK, the Senate is too.  And they can afford to be like that as well, being the wealthy people that they are.  We knew that they were wealthy, wealthier than the average American, but the amount they make, and their net worth more than doubling in 20 some odd years, while we the people have stagnated financially over the same amount of time is frankly, angering.

Angering more than anything because we have suffered through hardship after hardship, and these people, who are supposed to be our guardians, have guarded their own houses, but left ours to rot.  To call the state of affairs we find ourselves in here and now, flat broke jobless and seeking a break while they drink Ambrosia anything but insane hurts like hell to contemplate.

It is the way of things though.  Congress has simply followed their corporate masters in this. It is well know that CEO pay and compensation, as well as other higher ups in large corporate structures have gone through the roof since at least the Reagan years.

As always the rich get richer, and the poor get shafted, and then told they have the same opportunities everyone else does, when it is clearly not the case.

But I digress…

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Because the world of politics is a mess.  Ron Paul, noted libertarian and (until recently) closeted racist, has been (again, until recently) been leading in most of the polls coming out of Iowa, first of the states to have primaries. But that lead has been shrinking over the last few weeks, and of all people, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the one eating into his lead.

With 2 weeks to go, there are only about 8% of Iowa’s voting bloc uncommitted.  And with the Romney campaign gaining momentum, it looks a lot like enough will go Romney’s way to hand him Iowa.  Romney, you will remember, is the former moderate, flip-flopping business man is most well known in business circles for buying businesses, taking them apart, selling their more profitable pieces, and downsizing thousands, destroying the futures and dreams of thousands in the name of profits.

That kind of thing apparently plays well in Republican circles.  Because business acumen of that nature is so much more important than the thousands of people who populated the businesses he destroyed in the name of profitability.  Guess being a racist just doesn’t get you as far as the ability to actually butcher jobs does in right wing circles.

And no, I have no problem with profits.  I’d like some myself, but I have spent my entire life working for peanuts, because that is what my people get paid.  I don’t get profits, I get screwed, just like the vast majority.

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Viddy of the day:  Impact Investing: Saving Capitalism from Itself.

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In the field of modern business, so rich in opportunity for the exercise of man’s finest and most varied mental faculties and moral qualities, mere money-making cannot be regarded as the legitimate end. Neither can mere growth of bulk or power be admitted as a worthy ambition. Nor can a man nobly mindful of his serious responsibilities to society view business as a game; since with the conduct of business human happiness or misery is inextricably interwoven.

Louis Brandeis

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Pic of the day:  The Yellow House (Vincent’s House) by Vincent Van Gogh

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Unconnected Stories

When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect.

Adlai Stevenson

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I am not so sure that a whole lot of people who say they love America actually love America.  I love America, but I happen to feel that it is an adult kind of love.  The kind where we are both consenting adults who both know what they are doing, and are willing to look at each other with a realistic eyes and where I at least can say what I really feel, and don’t really have to love it on it’s terms but on mine, and ours.

But I tell you that the kind of love that some people have for this country isn’t really love.  It isn’t.  It’s not love when everything is all right ONLY when you get what you want and the other people (since this is about an entire country) get whatever is left, which isn’t much.   That is selfishness on an epic scale.

That is how the Republicans and Conservatives and the tea party patriots seem to be dealing with the simple concept that the Democrats are in charge, and it has only spiraled downward since the health care bill passed.  I don’t know whether the temper tantrum that is going on here in America recently, with all the death threats and other stupid crap from the manic xenophobes on the right, is coming from below, and is actually grassroots, or whether it is astroturfed and is coming from the Beck – Limbaugh – Armey bunch.  I’m not sure I care.  Regardless of where exactly it is coming from, it is big baby bullshit.

These noisy kids need a time out, and methinks they will find it in November.  They will get the support of all the people who normally support them.  But they won’t get as many of the true Red,White and Blue loving Independents getting behind them, because they will find that the problems of governing and with government are NOT fixed by stopping government from working.

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There are two Americas. One is the America of Lincoln and Adlai Stevenson; the other is the America of Teddy Roosevelt and the modern superpatriots. One is generous and humane, the other narrowly egotistical; one is self-critical, the other self-righteous; one is sensible, the other romantic; one is good-humored, the other solemn; one is inquiring, the other pontificating; one is moderate, the other filled with passionate intensity; one is judicious and the other arrogant in the use of great power.

J. William Fulbright

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Going through the polls on gallup, and yes there do in fact seem to be two Americas, and Mister Fulbright was right in the assessment he made when he made it in 1966. 

The polls say that, among other obvious statements, that dems are actually losing ground in the south.  Kinda like saying that Ice is cold or that shit stinks.  DUH.  But it does also see democrats currently losing some popularity in the east. Not a duh moment there, though.  We all saw the Scott Brown election.  But that isn’t the best indicator.  Martha Coakley ran a crap campaign, and called Curt Schilling a Yankee in Red Sox Nation and still made a descent run. Scott Brown didn’t win a landslide, and there are not a great deal more Republicans in Massachusetts now than there were before that election.

But the East is still a democratic stronghold, as is the West.  There is one fairly surprising thing.

Nationally, independents aren’t leaning all that much towards the Republicans as the press would tell you.  The way I’ve heard things, you’d think Indies are leaning hard right.  They aren’t.  Gallup’s latest poll has the Rep/Dem split at 43%/37%.  Only a 6 percent difference between Independents who lean democratic and those who lean Republican.

I’ll talk more on this one at a later date. There is too much here for the time I have and the space I want to use at one time today.

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Ron Paul supporters didn’t use the term ‘teabagging.’ Maybe they knew how to use Urban Dictionary.com.

Rachel Maddow