We’re seeing some movement from the Clintons which may signal that Hillary is seriously considering the presidential run. Hillary went on record supporting the President’s move on immigration last night.
Clinton – the Democratic front-runner for the 2016 presidential race — took to Twitter to thank Obama, moments after his speech from the White House.
“Thanks to POTUS for taking action on immigration in the face of inaction,” she tweeted. “Now let’s turn to permanent bipartisan reform. #ImmigrationAction.”
And so what I would like to do tonight is to say: We’re all pretty familiar with what’s happened in the last 100 years, but I think it’s important not to airbrush it too much. And by that, I mean that every attempt to make America’s republic new, every attempt to form a more perfect union (inaudible) every attempt to create a world we would like to live in and we would like our children and grandchildren to grow up in and flourish in, all of those were met with obstacles, had periods of great hope, followed by setbacks, followed by small steps, followed by struggles.
History is a messy thing. We like to think, you know, it’s just a rushing river. It may be, but there’s a lot of rocks in the river. And all of this you have chronicled. And people all along the road who have read it have benefited.
Now, you say the theme of this night is a new century of idealism and innovation. Well, the good news is, there’s plenty of innovation. It’s interesting, I pick up the paper in New York and I know I’m an old guy reading about a new world when the big struggle is, should Uber be allowed to drive along with the cabs and should Airbnb be allowed to put people up along with the Regis, St. Regis Hotel? I mean, it’s an interesting time to be alive. There’s lots of innovation. And the social networks are flourishing.
And on a more serious note, we’re getting profound benefits from the sequencing of the human genome. I spent $3 billion of your tax money on that. And it was worth every penny.
It really was. I worry about us underfunding basic research and science and technology, but…
But we announced the first sequencing in 2000, but, boy, it’s exploded since then. And there was a study about a year ago that said already $180 billion worth of economic benefits had flowed just to the United States from this effort, never mind what’s happening around the world.
Some folks just know how to see the bigger picture. Then, there are the Republicans. Here’s a sample of what Republican officials have said in the last few days. First up, some social commentary from the incoming Speaker of the Nevada house who has an issue with black people and appears to be a Neo-Confederate, misogynist, racist, and homobigot all wrapped up in one great big bald-headed, white, package.
He also referred to public schools as a form of “educational slavery,” writing that “[t]he Democratic coalition would split asunder if the NAACP & co. actually promoted what black Americans truly desire — educational choice. The shrewd and calculating [black] ’leaders’ are willing to sacrifice the children of their own race to gratify their lust for power and position. The relationship of Negroes and Democrats is truly a master-slave relationship, with the benevolent master knowing what’s best for his simple minded darkies.”
Hansen registered further displeasure with the “simple minded darkies” more directly, too, noting that “[t]he lack of gratitude and the deliberate ignoring of white history in relation to eliminating slavery is a disgrace that Negro leaders should own up to.”
His thoughts on homosexuality and feminism are equally regressive. For years, he wrote, he kept a “rough tally on homosexual/heterosexual molesters as reported locally,” and found that “roughly half of all molestations involve homosexual men preying on boys,” citing as further evidence the existence of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) and the Catholic church molestation scandals as evidence of gay male depravity.
As for women, he wrote that their proclivity for filing sexual harassment suits made them unfit to serve their country, claiming that “[t]oday, when Army men look at women in the ranks with ’longing in their eyes’ it very well may constitute ’sexual harassment.’ The truth is, women do not belong in the Army or Navy or Marine Corps, except in certain limited fields.”
Another Oil Rig has exploded off the Louisiana Gulf Coast. It killed one person and injured 3. The rig was not in production so there appears to be no leaking oil at the moment.
One person is dead and three people are injured after an oil platform explosion 12 miles off the coast of New Orleans, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
The three injured are being treated at an offshore medical facility. One person, who hasn’t been identified, died in the explosion, BSEE officials say. All other employees have been accounted for.
The platform is operated by Houston-based Fieldwood Energy, which reported the explosion of its Echo Platform, West Delta 105, just before 3 p.m., according to the BSEE.
The platform was not in production at the time of the explosion. Officials say no pollution was reported, and no damage to the facility was done.
I’m assuming we’ll find out more today and tomorrow.
The Obama administration appears to be pressuring a Senate Committee that’s been studying US torture and detentions during the Bush years. Will we ever find out what those criminals did in our name? Why does the Obama administration want the report suppressed?
The White House is fiercely resisting the release of an executive summary of a 6,300-page Senate report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, Senate aides tell Foreign Policy, raising fears that the public will never receive a full accounting of the Bush administration’s post-9/11 torture practices.
At issue is the report’s identification of individual CIA officers by pseudonyms. The CIA and the White House want the pseudonyms and references to other agency activities completely stricken to further protect the identities of CIA spies. Senate aides say many of those redactions are unnecessary and render the report unreadable. Now even after Senate Democrats agreed to remove some pseudonyms at the White House’s request, the Oval Office is still haggling for more redactions.
“The White House is continuing to put up fierce resistance to the release of the report,” said one knowledgeable Senate aide. “Ideally, we should be closing ground and finalizing the last stages right now so that we can release the report post-Thanksgiving. But, despite the fact that the committee has drastically reduced the number of pseudonyms in the report, the White House is still resisting and dragging this out.”
A White House official denied the accusation. “The president has been clear that he wants the executive summary of the committee’s report to be declassified as expeditiously as possible,” said the official. “We share the Intelligence Committee’s desire for the declassified report to be released; and all of the administration’s efforts since we received the initial version have been focused on making that happen, while also protecting our national security.”
Up until recently, Barack Obama’s administration had avoided taking sides in the public spat between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee over the report — a $40 million, five-year study that is harshly critical of the agency. However, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is now personally negotiating with Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California for further redactions, which is rankling some Democrats.
Congressional climate wars were dominated Tuesday by the U.S. Senate, which spent the day debating, and ultimately failing to pass, a bill approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. While all that was happening, and largely unnoticed, the House was busy doing what it does best: attacking science.
H.R. 1422, which passed 229-191, would shake up the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board, placing restrictions on those pesky scientists and creating room for experts with overt financial ties to the industries affected by EPA regulations.
The bill is being framed as a play for transparency: Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, argued that the board’s current structure is problematic because it “excludes industry experts, but not officials for environmental advocacy groups.” The inclusion of industry experts, he said, would right this injustice.
But the White House, which threatened to veto the bill, said it would “negatively affect the appointment of experts and would weaken the scientific independence and integrity of the SAB.”
Yes, it’s going to be crazy go nuts the next few years.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
The three major networks will not be showing the President’s speech tonight. We will be doing this tonight on our blog because it’s an extremely important issue. You will be able to watch it on the cable news networks and of course, Univision who will be delaying its live telecast of the Latin Grammys to give airtime to Obama at 8 p.m. EST.
Here’s some background information.
How does America feel about Immigration and immigration reform? Here’s seven charts that break out poll results.
He then opened up the program to callers, including “Steve” – who asked the Republican elected official what typically happens in history “when one culture or one race or one religion overwhelms another culture or race.”
“When one race or culture overwhelms another culture, they run them out or they kill them,” the caller said, warning that immigrant groups sought the return of former Spanish territories in the U.S.
Kobach initially threw cold water on the caller’s suggestion before implying President Barack Obama was tacitly endorsing violence against whites.
“What protects us in America from any kind of ethnic cleansing is the rule of law, of course,” Kobach said. “The rule of law used to be unassailable, used to be taken for granted in America, and now, of course, we have a president who disregards the law when it suits his interests.”
“So while I normally would answer that by saying, ‘Steve, of course we have the rule of law, that could never happen in America,’” Kobach continued, “I wonder what could happen. I still don’t think it’s going to happen in America, but I have to admit, things are strange and they are happening.”
There’s some interesting analysis out there on what all the reactions by Republicans will do to the next two years.
Republican leaders who had hoped to focus on corporate tax reform, fast-track trade pacts, repealing the president’s healthcare law and loosening environmental restrictions on coal are instead being dragged into an immigration skirmish that they’ve tried studiously to avoid for most of the last year.
That’s largely because the question of how to handle the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. bitterly divides Republicans, and the party has been unable to agree on an alternative to the president’s plan.
To many, stark warnings from Boehner and McConnell sound more like pleas to the president to avoid reenergizing the GOP’s conservative wing, whose leaders are already threatening to link the president’s immigration plan to upcoming budget talks.
Another government shutdown is not what McConnell and Boehner had in mind when their party won control of Congress this month.
In fact, McConnell said flatly a day after the election that another shutdown would not happen. But calls by firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to use “all procedural means necessary” during Congress’ lame-duck session to block the White House’s immigration plans have left leaders scrambling to tame their rebellious ranks.
Republican leaders are increasingly concerned that if Obama follows through, the anti-immigrant fervor in their party will rise to an unappealing crescendo and the rank-and-file’s desire to confront the president will overtake other party priorities.
So, hang on until it’s all announced at 8:00 pm EST and we’ll see if all hell breaks loose like Crazy Tom Coburn is projecting.
Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn warns there could be not only a political firestorm but acts of civil disobedience and even violence in reaction to President Obama’s executive order on immigration Thursday.
“The country’s going to go nuts, because they’re going to see it as a move outside the authority of the president, and it’s going to be a very serious situation,” Coburn said on Capital Download. “You’re going to see — hopefully not — but you could see instances of anarchy. … You could see violence.”
I avoid pop culture whenever possible. I admit to being an effete snob about the music, the fashion, the sheeplike behavior of the entire thing. Sometimes, pop culture just forces itself on you to the point you have to just sit down and ask yourself WTF were they thinking? So, with that and a series of face palms, I direct your attention to obvious misogyny with definite agist and racial overtones. Nothing breaks the internet quite like some one who just refuses to see what they’ve done.
So, first up is an ad that’s attacking Senator Mary Landrieu that just makes me want to scream bloody murder. I’m really tired of the entire ploy to make older women irrelevant. This definitely falls into this category and the boyz behind it are like “what, sexist and agist, who me?”
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is denouncing an attack ad against her as being sexist because it shows her aging.
The ad, paid for by the Ending Spending Action Fund, suggests Washington has changed Landrieu, 58, over time and uses the age progression to illustrate that change.
Landrieu campaign spokesperson Fabien Levy called the ad “appalling.” He said it’s an example of Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy and his allies distracting from the issues.
“It is appalling that Congressman Cassidy and his allies would illustrate the senator’s age progression with a leading phrase that Washington has ‘changed’ her,” Levy said. “The ad is as classless as it is sexist, and Congressman Cassidy and his allies should remove [it] from television immediately.”
It’s hard to know what to say to below the belt optics like this that play into the idea of how a woman of a certain age–past the change–is all used up. I see it. Do you? Of course, we’ve seen this and many other sexist tropes applied to Hillary Clinton and I’m getting prepared for a lot more.
Let me first be transparent here: I’m a Republican, and I’d like nothing more than to see Clinton go down in flames. And, as a recent front-page story in The New York Times noted, many in my party are already seeking to label the former first lady a “has-been” by virtue of her decades on the political stage.
Their case is as follows: Clinton has been in the spotlight in one form or another since the late 1970s when her husband, Bill, first became attorney general in their home state of Arkansas at the age of 30. Ironically, as Times reporter Jonathan Martin pointed out, it was Bill’s youthfulness that propelled him to the Arkansas governorship and later the presidency. Now, it could be the inverse that puts the brakes on the Hillary freight train.
There is undoubtedly a lot of spin in this new anti-Clinton narrative. But there are indeed signs that the baby boomers are going to have a tough time winning another presidential race.
That is a really stale link to an article titled “Hillary Clinton is too Old to be President”.
The next thing up is one ESA scientist who has all the sympathy the dudebro crowd can muster. He did a major interview about the Rosetta project while wearing a Hawaiian shirt. I generally expect scientists to be quirky so that doesn’t bother me at all. What bothered me and many other women is that it was bedecked with the stereotypical male fantasy of a submissive, naked female in fetish wear with space guns. You won’t believe the deep denial of the dudebro crowd on this one. I kept seeing nerd guys acting like women were upset because NAKED! Dude, it’s not the lack of clothes. It’s the impossible body image, the obvious visual references–repeatedly–to the submissive woman, and the overall lack of awareness of the wearer who should know that women frequently feel pushed out of career areas where this kind of subtle, perpetual sexual harassment happens. The scientist cried when he figured it out but the dudebro crowed continues to call us the new puritans because we’d rather have a more female-centric idea of our bodies and expressions of our sexuality. I see it. Do you?
Dr. Matt Taylor, one of European Space Agency scientists responsible for landing a spacecraft, on the surface of a comet, offered a tearful apology today for his tasteless choice in button-downs. On a streamed Google Hangout, hosted by the ESA, Dr. Taylor said he was “very sorry” and called wearing the shirt “a big mistake.”
In a post Philae landing-interview, Dr. Taylor was wearing a Hawaiian-style shirt covered with scantily clad women. Many picked up on this outfit choice, and were understandably outraged. A deluge of tweets and responses spilled onto the Internet. (In an aside there was the not shocking discovery that women who tweeted displeasure with the shirt were attacked, and men who tweeted criticism of the shirt were not.)
The shirt itself is pretty tasteless. The women on it are another reinforcement of our icky societal standard of beauty; the women are celebrated for their sex appeal. And the fact that Taylor thought that this was appropriate could point to the fact that he doesn’t work with enough women, or that he lacks the judgement to see how this could be offensive. Both are serious and issues.
Young girls are discouraged from the sciences (myself included, but that is a different story). There is also a huge terrible dearth of women in STEM fields, and when women are in those fields they must often contend with harassment, sexism and unequal pay. Because even if a woman does make it through the pipeline into STEM, they are not treated properly.
The shirt was more than just nearly naked women.
However, I think there is a bigger problem. I’ll admit I don’t know the full gender breakdown of every scientist who worked on the Rosetta mission (and I searched for a list). However, watching the livestream of the Philae landing, during the victory speeches I saw microphone passed from man, to man, to man, and a female master of ceremonies (who had to call someone out for flirting). And on the Google Hangout, where Taylor made his apology, there were two women: one was the moderator, and one lone female scientist. That is a problem.
Hey little girls! Welcome to your STEM career where we constantly remind you that your role as a space engineer is to be Barbarella!!!
Perhaps you’d like a sexy Ph.D costume to go with that doctorate in astrophysics? Yes, yes, I am a humorless feminist on this one. (h/t to Delphyne for this one.)
The “Delicious Women’s Ph.D Darling Sexy Costume,” available on Amazon, features a “micro mini graduation robe” and cap, but you’ll have to provide your own high heels.
Women who actually hold their responses are nothing short of incredible. Here are eight of the best responses:have started reviewing the costume, and
1. This costume doesn’t live up to its name. — Alyssa Picard
Sleeves are too short & have no stripes. Costume does not feature a hood. This is a “sexy BA” at best.
2. This product definitely helps women with Ph.Ds feel sexier. – Dawn Rouse
Like all lady, I frequently ask myself: “How could I be sexier?”
Delicious costumes has come to my rescue! I can now lecture in my 5 inch gold spiked heels and “barely there” regalia while giving nary a thought to the male gaze and its implications on the prevalence of rape culture in our society.
I fully expect my chili pepper rating on RMP to go through the roof once I begin to greet my students in this costume. Hopefully I can keep my “post structural hegemonies” from engaging in some wardrobe malfunctions. Then again, who cares?
I’m sexy! Forget about the 7 years I spent sweating out a dissertation and engaging in innovative research!
3. The perfect outfit for showing off one’s accomplishments. — Mary from MN
When I left my nursing job for graduate school, I was so distressed. I mean what was I going to wear? There were plenty of sexy nurse costumes that I could wear to honor my accomplishments in that profession, but after I attained my PhD there was something missing. I was better educated, but not sexy. Until now. Thank you, Delicious Costumes, for filling the void. You’ve given women like me who have worked our asses off earning our degrees a way to show our asses off, too. Keep it classy, Amazon.
4. Why wasn’t this available in the ’90s? – Elizabeth P. Mackenzie
I got my Ph.D. in 1997. If only I had known about this costume. I would have worn it to liven up my doctoral defense. Instead of my committee focusing on the boring experiment they made me do over the course of several years and giving me a three hour long exam, I could have worn this, popped out of a cake, batted my eye lids asked adorably, “Puwease let me have a Ph.D.? I’ve been so good.”
Also, math is hard.
5. Perfect for all graduate student activities! — Tracy L. Brock
Wow! Super-slinky yet surprisingly comfortable for those long nights lounging around grading poorly organized undergrad essays. Thanks to my five-year diet of ramen noodles and caffeine pills, the xs/s size fits me like a glove. I’ve never felt sexier–or smarter!
6. This outfit failed to get me tenure. Would not recommend. — PassionPhD
I spent 6 years working hard to get my PhD, which was extra hard because I am a lady, and it hurt my ovaries to think so much. After obtaining this advanced degree, the only position I could secure, like the majority in my field, was an adjunct position teaching for less than $2000 a course. Then I got this LadyPhD regalia and my life immediately changed! My department, full of esteemed and very prestigious senior male tenured faculty, saw me walking in the hall, invited me into the department meeting, and right there on the spot, immediately voted to make me a TENURED FULL PROFESSOR.
Sadly, the next morning, I found out it was NOT a faculty meeting that I had wandered into, just professors having an office cocktail party and I was not tenured after all. I WANT MY MONEY BACK. I have student loans to pay off!!
Here are some twitter comments on the Taylor shirt to check out what women and supportive men were saying. You can go find the stunned misogynist comments on your own.
Okay, so here it is. This is the one topic that I really didn’t want to write about but am doing it any way. The obviously photoshopped, distorted picture of Kim Kardashian’s body was last week’s topic. But, I’ve finally decided I want to take it on. Again, it’s not about the nudity. It’s not about her being a mother and being nude or sexual. It’s the overt misogyny with an objectification of a distorted female form that’s the problem. Kim obviously is a willing participant in all of this and seems to thrive on being the subject–or object–of voyeurism.
The problem is that her photos are just the latest run at an old theme from an artist that has used similar pictures to objectify black women as willing exotic savages all ready for pillage. So, here we go with the Kim Kardasian Butt Saga.
The photographer responsible for the image is Jean-Paul Goude, and there’s more to know about him than that he’s “French” and “legendary.” Both those things are also true, but there’s this too: his artistic history is fraught with justified accusations of objectifying and exoticizing black women’s bodies. This isn’t a tangent of his work –- it’s what his entire oeuvre is built upon. It’s not a coincidence that his 1983 pictorial autobiography is titled Jungle Fever. “Blacks are the premise of my work,” the artist told People magazine in 1979, “I have jungle fever.”
To create his exoticized images, Goude would photograph black women in poses which ranged from athletic to primitive. He would then literally cut the image into pieces and reassemble it to create something even more formidable. You can see how he pulled off the pre-photoshop manipulation via the infamous photo he created of Grace Jones, with whom he had a turbulent relationship in the ’80s, for the artist’s now-iconic Island Life album cover:
Criticizing Kim’s cover because “it’s Photoshopped” is missing the point of his art. As Goude said of the Jones cover, “…unless you are extraordinarily supple, you cannot do this arabesque. The main point is that Grace couldn’t do it, and that’s the basis of my entire work: creating a credible illusion.”
Paper is wrongly attributing the inspiration for Kim Kardashian’s cover to a vintage Goude photo called “Champagne Incident.” The photo is actually 1976′s “Carolina Beaumont,” and it’s about more than balancing skills. An innocent mistake perhaps, but the fact that Beaumont is being literally obscured by it seems sadly appropriate.
So last night while everyone else was arguing over Kim’s K’s right to show her butt, my focus was on something else entirely. When I looked at the spread all I saw was a not so subtle reincarnation of Saartjie Baartman – imagery that is steeped in centuries of racism, oppression and misogyny. For those who don’t know who she is, here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:
Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman (before 1790 – 29 December 1815 (also spelled Bartman, Bartmann, Baartmen) was the most famous of at least two Khoikhoi women who were exhibited as freak show attractions in 19th-century Europe under the name Hottentot Venus—”Hottentot” as the then-current name for the Khoi people, now considered an offensive term, and “Venus” in reference to the Roman goddess of love.
Saartjie was a woman whose large buttocks brought her questionable fame and caused her to spend much of her life being poked and prodded as a sexual object in a freak show.
But something tells me Kim probably has no clue about the cultural and historic significance of what she’s done. Instead, she probably just thought it would be cool to do an edgy photo shoot with famous photographer. And many of you have fallen for that oversimplified stance as well.
I’m the first to admit that some of the work that Jean-Paul Goude has done over the past 30 years has become iconic, particularly his work with his (then-girlfriend) Grace Jones. But the one he chose to recreate for Paper Magazine is problematic for several reasons.
The original shot is of a black woman standing in front of a blue wall while she pops champagne into a glass placed on her rear end. And it’s from a book entitled: Jungle Fever.
Let that soak in for a second. Jungle. Fever.
According to a People Magazine article written about the couple in 1979:
Jean-Paul has been fascinated with women like Grace since his youth. The son of a French engineer and an American-born dancer, he grew up in a Paris suburb. From the moment he saw West Side Story and the Alvin Ailey dance troupe, he found himself captivated by “ethnic minorities—black girls, PRs. I had jungle fever.” He now says, “Blacks are the premise of my work.”
This is a man who boldly told news reporters that his black girlfriend was a “schizo… outrageous bitch”and that at times he would get hysterical and explode in violence during their arguments.
Though he was criticized at the time—and still is—for exoticizing African-American women in his work, a claim that wasn’t helped by his book Jungle Fever, Goude’s images of Grace Jones at least presented her as a strong female. In some ways, they were arguably feminist, with Goude broadening her shoulders and lengthening her neck so she appeared to be towering over the viewer. It’s also hard to imagine Grace Jones, an innovator who did it all—production, recording, singing, acting, modeling—not being in full control of her image. (In the case of “Carolina Beaumont,” the original image is certainly a conversation starter about race and femininity but, judging from that photo, the model looks like she’s having just as much of a good time as Kim K.)
Arguably feminist? Discuss!
Yes, here we are again in a time still promoting body dysmorphia for women. It just makes me damned mad. But then, I’ve been spending a lot of time reading why feminism isn’t necessary and what it’s terrible because men are the real victims of sexism like that poor scientist and his Groovy shirt. I personally feel like I just wrote part deux to my 1975 Feminist Philosophy class midterm essay during my sophomore year of university. Really! This still? Really?
Will it ever end?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
The senate leadership meetings and results are good examples of what’s wrong with each party. The Republicans just did it. They walked out the door. Nobody spoke to the press. All that hoopla about a Ted Cruz revolution turned out to be just that. On the Democratic side, Reid took a public bruising and there were some obvious changes made.
I’ve never been fond of Harry Reid for a variety of reasons. He keeps giving me more reasons every day to find him unsuited for his job. Most of them come under a big question of how this man even became a Democrat, let alone a leader?
Mitch McConnell is more like a political operative than a Senator of these United States. I’ve never seen anyone that appears to take so much joy in tanking his own country and creating memes about things instead of doing things befitting of someone who’s sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States.
In that vein, here we go with today’s reads. Mitch McConnell continues to be the concern troll of the right wing instead of acting like a U.S. Senator.
In another sign that the country is in for a tough two years of battles between the White House and Congress, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared Thursday that he was “very disturbed” by President Barack Obama’s recent attempts to exercise his executive powers.
Those include moving ahead on dealing with undocumented immigrants, cutting a deal with China on climate change and suggesting that the Internet should be regulated like a utility under so-called net neutrality rules.
“I’ve been very disturbed about the way the president has proceeded in the wake of the election,” McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill soon after his caucus voted to keep him as its leader when Republicans take control of the Senate in January.
With Congress gridlocked on many of the president’s agenda items, including immigration, Obama announced in January that he had a “pen and a phone” that he would use to move forward on his own, including signingexecutive orders. Among other things, he raised the wages of government contractors, strengthened protections for gay and transgender workers, and expanded the military actions in Iraq. And he had already angered Republicans by stalling deportations of children and delaying parts of Obamacare.
McConnell argued that the recent elections that expanded the House GOP majority and gave Republicans control of the Senate should have chastened Obama.
“I had maybe naively hoped the president wold look at the results of the election and decide to come to the political center and do some business with us,” McConnell said. “I still hope he does at some point, but the early signs are not good.”
He added that Obama should look to some of his predecessors, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, for examples of dealing with a Congress ruled by the opposing party.
“They understood that the American people had elected divided government,” McConnell said. “We’d like for the president to recognize the reality that he has the government that he has, not the one that he wishes he had, and work with us.”
Asked what the GOP would do if Obama insists on pursuing his own agenda, McConnell declined to tip his hand.
So, how many executive orders were used by Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan as compared to President Obama? Reagan used a total of 381. In his first term, he used 213. Clinton used a total of 364 with 200 of them coming in his first term. President Obama has used 193 to date with 147 of them coming from his first term. Where was McConnell when Dick Cheney was discussing his “robust view” of executive power? (Yousefzadeh 2012). Yes, I’m quoting an academic paper.
This Book Review discusses Cheney’s conception of executive power. It reflects on the fact that despite Cheney’s Nixon Administration experience with agencies whose missions and activities went against his small-government instincts, Cheney did not become a skeptic of executive power. On the contrary, even as a member of Congress, he sought to safeguard executive power against what he—and others around him—saw as encroachment by Congress.
You can go to the article to read a number of Cheney quotes and examples of policy areas where Cheney clearly thought the Presidency was quite imperial. That was until a black man got elected president by some odd will of the people. Now, the little would be dictator is a pearl clutching concern troll with the rest of those who have pivoted positions.
Sitting for an interview to promote wife Lynne Cheney’s new book on James Madison, the former second-in-command said that, though he’s a “big advocate of the strong executive office,” he believes Obama has taken things too far.
“I really feel as though Barack Obama is ignoring the law in many cases, and going far beyond what was ever intended,” he said. “I mean he, all by himself, sort of routinely changes the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, if it suits his will.”
Cheney added that he believes the president teeters the line of unconstitutional behavior.
“I think much of what’s been done does in fact skate up to the edge of violating the constitution in terms of the way he’s interpreted his executive power,” Cheney said.
Only one day earlier, the former vice president was calling Obama “weak” over his his approach to the crisis in Ukraine and confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He’s demonstrated repeatedly, I think, that he in fact can be pushed around, if you will, by Putin,” Cheney said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.
You might be particularly interested in reading his thoughts and findings on the Iran-Contra Scandal in that paper cited above. I’ve kept the sources of the footnotes so that you know the exact reports.
Thus, Cheney’s belief that Iran-Contra was “ill-conceived” did little to lessen his belief in the need for a strong Executive Branch. To be sure, the observation in the joint committee minority report that “[n]o president can ignore Congress and be successful over the long term”44 represents a healthy respect for congressional prerogatives. But it is quite notable that in the midst of a scandal involving the failure to properly notify Congress of executive activities, Cheney wanted to make sure that the powers of the Executive Branch would not be circumscribed.
Reflecting on the allegations that Cheney—and others around him—sought to cut out members of Congress from the ability to fully participate in continuity-of-government exercises, it is important to emphasize that whatever one’s view about the possibility of the Speaker of the House or the President pro tem of the Senate succeeding to the presidency if the President and the Vice President are incapacitated or killed, the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 calls for exactly that line of succession to be observed in such a circumstance.45 Pursuant to the dictates of the Act, the rest of the government would expect the Speaker, and the President pro tem to succeed to the presidency. To the
extent that some kind of “secret executive order” was put in place to bypass the stipulated line of succession—and it should be noted anew that these claims appear to be rather thinly sourced—then the “secret executive order” in question would take by nasty surprise the rest of the United States government, which would expect the line of succession to the presidency to unfold as the Presidential Succession Act mandated that it should. As such, in any situation in which the Act were invoked, if the implemented line of succession were to differ from what the Act mandates, the result would be greater chaos and disorganization in what would undoubtedly be an already chaotic situation. If Cheney did indeed countenance the bypassing of the Act in secret, then his decision should surely be held irresponsible.
43. Id. at 147 (quoting Minority Report, S. REP. NO. 100-216, H.R. REP. NO. 100-433,
at 438 (1987)).
44. Minority Report, S. REP. NO. 100-216, H.R. REP. NO. 100-433, at 438 (1987).
45. 3 U.S.C. § 19(a)(1), (b) (2006). No. 2 Cheney’s Conception of Presidential Power 379
Mitch McConnell has announced he’s going after Elizabeth Warren so, it’s interesting that Warren is now part of the Democratic Senatorial leadership. Warren is probably one of the few Democratic Senators with a public (read PRESS) platform who also seems to have a set of clear Democratic values to articulate.
The same corporate interests who have taken over control of Congress are now gaining control of U.S. courts, warned Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Warren told a gathering Sunday at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California that too many federal judges have been drawn in recent years from the ranks of corporate lawyers and federal prosecutors.
“For the courts to be a level playing field it’s critical that the judges presiding over these playing fields have the kind of knowledge and experience that helps them understand the full range of the issues they will confront,” Warren said. “They need to be the best and brightest practitioners of law in this country, drawn from every corner of the profession.”
“But if that’s the goal, we are in real trouble,” she continued. “Look closely at the composition of the federal bench today, and you’ll see a striking lack of professional diversity among the lawyers who currently serve as federal judges.”
She said President Barack Obama had nominated just 11 judges with a background in working with indigent clients, but she said his nominees had not been diverse enough.
“(Even after the filibuster rules change) nearly ¾ of president’s nominees have been lawyers who have had significant corporate law practice in the private sector, spending years representing those whose voices are already plenty loud and already heard in government,” Warren said.
“Our courts cannot provide a level playing field without judges who know what it’s like to represent a family about to lose a home because someone sold them a mortgage that was designed to explode,” she said, “or represented a teenager accused of a crime because he was walking down the wrong street on the wrong night or represented an employee tossed out of a job for saying that employees should unionize or represented a customer that got ripped off by a big company and can’t afford the cost or a court fight.”
Warren urged the civil rights activists to pressure the president and Congress to find “highly qualified judges whose professional experience extends beyond big firms, federal prosecution, and white-collar defense.”
“That’s our best hope for preventing the corporate capture of our federal courts,” she said.
Good luck with that Senator Warren! The Republicans have spent 40 years stacking the courts in their favor. It’s a little late for the Democratic Party to finally stop playing into that deck of cards. Basically, if you control the Senate, you control the courts. We better see some better maneuverings than the ones that got us stuck with Uncle Thomas and Fat Tony.
Because a majority of senators can block a nomination, control of the Senate becomes critical. If the Democrats retain their majority, they can continue to confirm President Obama’s nominees. If the Republicans gain control of the Senate, however, they will be able to block his nominees—and there is little doubt that they will do so with a vengeance.
Most people pay attention to this only in regards the Supreme Court, but the lower courts are also critically important.
Since taking office, Obama has had approximately 280 federal judicial nominees confirmed. This represents roughly one-third of the federal judiciary. This has had a profound impact on our legal system in at least two very important respects.
First, Obama’s appointments have added substantial diversity to the federal bench. Forty-two percent of Obama’s judicial appointments have been women, as compared to only 22 percent of President George W. Bush’s nominees. Thirty-six percent of Obama’s judicial appointments have been minorities, as compared to only 18 percent of Bush’s judicial appointees.
The nation must care deeply about a president’s federal judicial appointments, because they will shape the meaning of federal law for decades to come.
Second, although Obama has generally been much less ideological in his judicial nominations than Bush, there is no doubt he has appointed much more liberal judges than his predecessor, and the addition of almost 280 Obama-appointed judges has had a dramatic effect on the overall ideological disposition of the federal judiciary.
Indeed, for the first time in more than a decade, judges appointed by Democratic presidents now substantially outnumber judges appointed by Republican presidents. These judges now hold a majority of seats of nine of the 13 United States Courts of Appeals. In 2008, Republican-appointed judges held a majority on 12 of the 13 Courts of Appeals. The shift is dramatic, and it is important.
Across a broad range of issues, such as the rights of persons accused of crime, abortion, the environment, immigration, affirmative action, gun control, religious liberty, campaign finance, women’s rights, the rights of corporations, and the right to vote, judges appointed by Democratic and Republican presidents tend to take very different positions.
Thus, who controls the Senate will determine the fate of as many as 90 federal judicial appointments that are likely to arise in the final two years of Obama’s presidency. If the Democrats control the Senate, the Republicans, no longer able to invoke the filibuster, will have only limited ability to block the President’s nominees. If the Republicans control the Senate, you can be sure that many fewer Obama nominees will be confirmed, and that those who do win confirmation will be much less progressive than the judges this White House has managed to appoint in its first six years. This will have a lasting and important impact on the federal judiciary for decades to come.
Despite a lot of venting both publicly and privately about Harry, he’s back. Claire McCaskill and Mary Landrieu publicly admitted to not voting for the Nevada Democrat.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Thursday that she will not vote for Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to remain as leader.
“Yesterday I met with Harry Reid and told him I would not be supporting him for Minority Leader,” McCaskill said in a statement to The Kansas City Star.
“I heard the voters of Missouri loud and clear. They want change in Washington. Common sense tells me that begins with changes in leadership,” she added.
Democrats are holding leadership elections on Thursday morning after a midterm drubbing that saw Republicans capture the upper chamber.
There is no known challenger to Reid, currently the majority leader, for minority leader in the next Congress. But Democrats are still frustrated after their heavy losses in the election.
“We have to do some serious soul-searching to ask why so many of our colleagues lost races,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told The Hill. “They were not bad public servants. They weren’t bad candidates. We have to ask why they lost.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) declined to commit to Reid when asked by Bloomberg on Wednesday.
“I’m interested in hearing the discussion,” he said.
Lets just mention this one little bitty thing. The number of voters voting for President Obama in 2012 were 65,915,796. Estimates right now are that a total of 22,524,388 votes were cast for Republican Senatorial candidates last week. That’s hardly what I’d call a mandate. It’s more a reflection of the lowest voter turnout for possibly of all US history. The weird thing is that more votes were actually cast for Democrats running for Senate in total than Republicans. Just remember, a podunk state like Nebraska or Wyoming sends senators to the Hill who capture fewer votes in an election than a mayor of any major urban area. Tiny states send their senators based on a really tiny voting base. We basically were screwed over by the few and the driven.
Turnout was low last week. Not “midterm low,” or “unusually low,” but “historically low.” As we noted on Monday, it was probably the lowest since World War II. But it was possibly also one of the four lowest-turnout elections since the election of Thomas Jefferson. You know, before there was such a thing as “Alabama.”
The U.S. Election Project, run by Michael McDonald of the University of Florida, compiles data on voter turnout over time. It’s tricky to estimate voter turnout in the 1700s and 1800s, and McDonald explains on his site how the numbers are calculated. So comparing 2014 to 1804 (the Jefferson example) should be considered a rough comparison at best.
So, that’s one thing to hold on to as we head towards two years of hell. We may have gotten a lot of crazies, but those crazies generally got in the back door via states that are so small they hardly contribute to GDP let alone national dialogue.
So, any way that’s my two cents for today! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I decided to write about a few interesting things today that are more issue-related than anything. I’m trying to avoid the continuing onslaught of bad journalism on what the next two years will hold.
Just to start it off, here’s a negative ad running from Mary Landrieu that will give you an idea of why I don’t want Doctor Strange Eyes for a Senator. Then, we will move on to other things!!
A virus that infects human brains and makes us more stupid has been discovered, according to scientists in the US.
The algae virus, never before observed in healthy people, was found to affect cognitive functions including visual processing and spatial awareness.
Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the University of Nebraska stumbled upon the discovery when they were undertaking an unrelated study into throat microbes.
Surprisingly, the researchers found DNA in the throats of healthy individuals that matched the DNA of a virus known to infect green algae.
Dr Robert Yolken, a virologist who led the original study, said: “This is a striking example showing that the ‘innocuous’ microorganisms we carry can affect behaviour and cognition.
There’s an interesting study and book being published on an up-close account of poverty. The authors are a married couple with ivy league credentials that moved into a poverty stricken neighborhood of Camden, then documented their neighbors and experiences.
ONCE A THRIVING INDUSTRIAL CENTER, home of RCA Victor and the Campbell Soup Company, Camden saw decades of white flight as the manufacturing sector disappeared. By 2000, five years after Edin arrived, 53 percent of Camden’s residents were black, 39 percent were Hispanic, and 36 percent lived below the poverty line. The year she moved in was the city’s bloodiest on record, with 58 murders among 86,000 residents.
About a block away from the blue clapboard Victorian where Edin lived is the former Presbyterian church where she taught Sunday school—one of the ways she got to know people in the community, along with volunteering at an after-school program. On the warm fall day I visited, the voice of a holy roller bellowing at his flock rang clear across the street.
Teaching Sunday school wasn’t just a research ploy. Edin hails from rural Minnesota, where she “grew up in the back of the van” that her mother drove for a Swedish Lutheran church. She worked there with needy families whose kids often cycled in and out of jail and foster care. “The religious tradition I came up in was very focused on social justice,” Edin says, citing Micah 6:8 (“To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”).
She attended North Park University, a small Christian college in Chicago with a social-justice focus. There, she took extra-credit assignments working in the notorious Cabrini-Green public housing project. In her free time she did things like watch Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Franco Zeffirelli’s film about St. Francis of Assisi, and walk around campus barefoot in the winter to emulate the saint.
Sunday school in Camden was different. One day, Edin recalls, she drew on a common evangelical trope, asking the kids what one thing they would save if their house were on fire. The answer is supposed to be “the Bible,” but for these kids the question was not a hypothetical. Most of the kids had actually been in that situation and could tell her exactly what they took. (Sometimes it was the Bible.)
Tragedy was endemic to her small class. In the space of a month, the fathers of two of the five students were killed in gun violence. Trauma made the kids “very vigilant,” she says. “They notice everything about you.” Some of their comments yielded unexpected insights for her research on low-income women’s attitudes toward marriage, which they tended to view as hard work more than a source of pleasure. “One girl said to me, ‘You white women are really into your husbands,’” she says with a laugh. “Watching people respond to you reveals a lot.”
Not long after she and Nelson moved in, a teenager avoiding pursuers jumped through an open bathroom window, then raced out their front door. She recalls the time she put her baby’s empty car seat down in the front yard while unloading groceries. When she turned around, it was gone. She ran down the street to a garage that served as the neighborhood’s unofficial flea market, and found it already for sale.
Edin says her willingness to put up with the same routine annoyances as her neighbors helped persuade them to open up. “Lots of people said, ‘We know you’re the real thing. You’re not here just to study us, because you live here, too.’”
New Orlean’s Lower Ninth Ward has been facing many challenges after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It’s latest challenge comes from voter defeat of an amendment that made selling empty lots easier to neighbors.
It’s a common adjective in the Lower 9th Ward to describe Tuesday’s statewide voter rejection of a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the city to sell vacant lots in that struggling neighborhood to aspiring homeowners for as little as $100.
But disappointment has come often and in many sizes to the Lower 9, one of the neighborhoods most thoroughly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and the residents and activists who have taken up the cause of repopulating the area are perhaps more capable than anyone of putting a setback at the ballot box behind them.
“For nine years, there have been many, many challenges — challenges far greater than (the failure of) this amendment,” said activist Vanessa Gueringer, who along with state Rep. Wesley Bishop came up with the idea they thought might jump-start residential development in the neighborhood. “We had to struggle to even come home. It’s not bigger than that.”
Thom Pepper, of the nonprofit group Common Ground Relief, put it a little more colorfully.
“No one is crying in their bourbon over it,” he said. The idea of $100 lots was “like one of the things to throw it on the wall and see if it sticks. It didn’t, but we’ll go on.”
The amendment, which was needed to override the constitutional prohibition against the government donating or selling public property at less than fair market value, needed a majority both in New Orleans and statewide. It was overwhelmingly supported by Lower 9 voters, but it lost 51 to 49 percent in Orleans Parish and failed badly statewide, 59 to 41 percent.
Had it been approved, a state law passed earlier this year would have taken effect. That law would have directed the city to sell vacant lots in the neighborhood for $100 each to, in order of priority: adjacent property owners; people who have leased property in the Lower 9th Ward for at least 18 months; former residents; veterans, teachers, retired teachers and emergency responders; and anyone who agreed to build on the property and live there for at least five years.
Developers, corporate entities and anyone with an active code enforcement violation or outstanding tax lien would have been barred from buying the lots, which the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority acquired through the Road Home program.
If you do your grocery shopping at Whole Foods, you probably live in area more likely to vote Democratic. On the other hand, if you buy your food at Kroger’s, people in your area probably voted Republican in Tuesday’s election. That’s what Time magazine found when it looked at how Congressional districts voted on Tuesday and crossed referenced it with the prevalence of brick-and-mortar retail chains in those areas.
To create their interactive chart, Time matched some 2 million store locations to how a district voted in this week’s midterm elections. The publication found that certain brands, like Ben & Jerry, American Apparel, Tesla and Trader Joe’s were more likely found in Democratic-voting districts, while brands like Cracker Barrel, Dillard’s, and Waffle House had more of a presence in Republican-voting districts.
While at first glance, this might seem more like a red state/blue state map (brands like Waffle House, Cracker Barrel, and Hobby Lobby have more presence in Southern states, for example), there may be a bit of consumer psychology behind it.
Ben & Jerry’s, American Apparel, and Tesla, for example, have been perceived as companies with a more progressive agenda. Ben & Jerry’s co-founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are famous for their support of progressive candidates and causes, Tesla founder Elon Musk is an advocate of green-energy technologies, and American Apparel — despite serious sexual-harassment allegations against its founder Dov Charney — supports immigration reform, gay rights, and sustainability.
Conversely, corporations such as Hobby Lobby, Cracker Barrel, and Chick-fil-A, which are found in more conservatives areas, have generated controversy for their respective conservative stances on birth control, racial and sexual-orientation discrimination, and same-sex marriage.
Several corporations are so ubiquitous throughout the U.S. landscape that their presence is somewhat politically neutral, at least in this recent election cycle. These retail chains include In-and-Out Burger, Chipotle, Starbucks, and Planet Fitness.
The Unemployment rate keeps dropping but wages and the general condition of the labor market still remains very weak. What are the underlying factors that worry labor economists?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent after employers added 214,000 jobs in October. The average monthly gain throughout the past year was 222,000. The BLS said the industries that added the most jobs were “food services and drinking places, retail trade, and health care.”
Guardian U.S. finance and economics editor Heidi Moore pointed to analysts who disputed the cheery view of the report. The National Women’s Law Center, she wrote on Friday, “objected that most of the gains… were in low-paying minimum-wage jobs.”
Moore parsed the report as follows:
While the so-called topline numbers – the number of jobs added and the unemployment rate–- are often cited in discussions, they have their flaws. The jobless rate, for instance, has been dropping in part because it only measures people who have been actively looking for jobs; when people stop looking, they are no longer counted as “unemployed” according to the government figures. In addition, the number of jobs added is frequently revised, often by large margin; the BLS reserves a margin of error of 100,000 jobs.
One alternative measure Moore pointed out is “discouraged workers.” These are people who have given up looking for jobs because they think there are none available. A whopping 770,000 Americans fit that description. The number is essentially unchanged from the same time last year.
One of these telling statistics is the “U-6 unemployment rate,” a more expansive measure that counts the “total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force.” That means all people who are unemployed as well as those who have taken jobs they don’t want out of financial desperation.
That U-6 number remains elevated, suggesting that 11.5% of the country is unemployed – in contrast to the milder 5.8% top-line unemployment rate. The U-6 rate has dropped in October, however, from 11.8% in September.
Additionally, at 10.9 percent, black unemployment remains more than twice the rate of white Americans.
Where have all the White Southern Democrats gone to? Also,what does this mean for black people living in the South?
Not long after the polls closed on Tuesday night, Georgia Congressman John Barrow earned his place in history when he lost his reelection campaign to Republican Rick Allen by almost 10 points—a peculiar place he undoubtedly didn’t want. Barrow, a five-term Democratic incumbent with a conservative voting record that earned him endorsements from both the National Rifle Association and the Chamber of Commerce, was the last white Democrat in Congress from the Deep South.
This fact has occasioned some eloquent obituaries for that most endangered of political species, which is on the verge of extinction. Not only will there be no white Southern Democrats left in the House come January, but it’s a good bet there won’t be any white Southern Democrats in the Senate either (Mary Landrieu is likely to lose in the Louisiana run-off next month). Throw in theelection of South Carolina’s Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate and, as The New Yorker’s Nicholas Thompson pointed out on Twitter, “there are now more black Republicans than white Democrats from the Deep South.”
Much as this is a problem for white southern Democrats, it’s a crisis for black ones. That’s because blacks in the South—who, notwithstanding the very compelling counter-example of Tim Scott, are almost invariably Democrats—have for decades relied on coalitions with white Democrats to increase their political power. Lacking white politicians with whom they can build coalitions, black politicians are increasingly rendered powerless. (See myarticle in August about what this has meant for black people in Alabama.) The situation for southern black Democrats has only grown more dire after Tuesday’s midterms. To truly grasp the severity of the crisis, it’s instructive to look not at Congress and Barrow, but at state legislatures and a Democratic state senator from Alabama named Roger Bedford.
Clinton can’t present herself as a novelty. She’ll be sixty-nine on Election Day in 2016 and has been a national figure for a quarter century. The last politician to become President after a similarly long and distinguished career was George H. W. Bush. Since then, the office has been won by relative newcomers: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama. “The one time in my political life that we’ve gone back a generation was Carter to Reagan,” Dean said. “Once you change the page on generations, you don’t go back.” He added that Clinton could be the exception.
For some reason, there’s a movement afoot for Maryland’s outgoing Governor O’ Malley. Here we go again.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I thought I’d try to get off the topic of the midterm elections specifically and get on to some general things about why the U.S. Political System seems so completely screwed up right now. What exactly has led us to the point where the Republicans seem to be a combination of the John Birch Society and Theocrats and the Democratic Party sits idly by and twiddles its thumbs hoping the process works like it used to?
William Pfaff has a few things to say about this in an article titled “How Ronald Reagan and the Supreme Court Turned American Politics Into a Cesspool”. One of the things that does completely amaze me is how the entire Reagan Presidency has turned into a narrative that’s more saga and drama than reality. There’s some really interesting points here. How did this election get so removed from reality in that people voted for one set of priorities when it came to issues like marijuana legalization and the minimum wage but then sent people to the District diametrically opposed to these policies?
The second significance of this election has been the debasement of debate to a level of vulgarity, misinformation and ignorance that, while not unprecedented in American political history, certainly attained new depths and extent.
This disastrous state of affairs is the product of two Supreme Court decisions and before that, of the repeal under the Reagan Administration, of the provision in the Federal Communications Act of 1934, stipulating the public service obligations of radio (and subsequently, of television) broadcasters in exchange for the government’s concession to them of free use in their businesses of the public airways.
These rules required broadcasters to provide “public interest” programming, including the coverage of electoral campaigns for public office and the independent examination of public issues. The termination of these requirements made possible the wave of demagogic and partisan right-wing “talk radio” that since has plagued American broadcasting and muddied American electoral politics.
Those readers old enough to remember the radio and early television broadcasting of pre-Reagan America will recall the non-partisan news reports and summaries provided by the national networks and by local stations in the United States. There were, of course, popular news commentators professing strong or idiosyncratic views as well, but the industry assured that a variety of responsible opinions were expressed, and that blatant falsehood was banned or corrected.
The two Supreme Court decisions were “Buckley v. Valeo” in 1976 and “Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission” in 2010. Jointly, they have transformed the nature of the American political campaign, and indeed the nature of American national politics. This resulted from the nature and characteristics of mass communications in the United States and the fact that broadcasting has from the beginning been all but totally a commercial undertaking (unlike the state broadcasters in Canada and Britain, and nearly all of Europe).
The two decisions turned political contests into competitions in campaign advertising expenditure on television and radio. The election just ended caused every American linked to the internet to be bombarded by thousands (or what seemed tens of thousands) of political messages pleading for campaign money and listing the enormous (naturally) sums pouring into the coffers of the enemy.
Previously the American campaign first concerned the candidate and the nature of his or her political platform. Friends and supporters could, of course, contribute to campaign funds and expenditures, but these contributions were limited by law in scale and nature. No overt connection was allowed between businesses or industries and major political candidates, since this would have implied that the candidate represented “special interests” rather than the general interest.
The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission verdict is well known and remains highly controversial since it rendered impossible the imposition of legal limits on political campaign spending, ruling that electoral spending is an exercise in constitutionally-protected free speech. Moreover, it adjudged commercial corporations as legal citizens, in electoral matters the equivalent of persons.
Don’t think Citizens United made a difference for the GOP in Tuesday’s midterms? The plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case thinks so.
“Citizens United, our Supreme Court case, leveled the playing field, and we’re very proud of the impact that had in last night’s election,” said David Bossie, chairman of the conservative advocacy organization.
He complained that Democratic lawmakers were trying to “gut the First Amendment” with their proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the 2010 ruling, reported Right Wing Watch, which allowed corporations to pour cash into campaigns without disclosing their contributions.
Bossie said this so-called “dark money” was crucial to Republicans gaining control of the U.S. Senate and strengthening their grip on the U.S. House of Representatives.
“A robust conversation, which is what a level playing field allows, really creates an opportunity for the American people to get information and make good decisions,” Bossie said.
Voters across the country trying to cast votes in Tuesday’s elections ran into hurdles erected by Republican legislatures, governors and secretaries of state. Along with mechanical glitches and human error — which occurred in states with leaders on both sides of the political spectrum — voters faced new laws and policies that made it harder to vote.
In Alabama, a last-minute decision by the attorney general barred people from using public housing IDs to vote. Voter ID laws in North Carolina and Texas sowed confusion. Georgia lost 40,000 voter registrations, mostly from minorities. In all, the group Election Protection reported receiving 18,000 calls on Election Day, many of them having to do with voter ID laws. The group noted that the flurry of calls represented “a nearly 40 percent increase from 13,000 calls received in 2010.”
In the presidential election year of 2016, it looks unlikely that those problems will subside — especially if Congress fails to restore the Voting Rights Act. The two states that had the closest vote tallies in the last presidential election — Florida and Ohio — will go into the presidential election year with Republicans controlling the offices of governor and secretary of state and holding majorities in their state legislatures.
In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who won reelection yesterday, will be able to appoint a secretary of state and will enjoy the support of a veto-proof Republican majority in the state House.
In Ohio, controversial Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted won reelection on Tuesday, along with Gov. John Kasich. They’ll be able to work with a strengthened GOP majority in the state legislature.
In North Carolina, where a Republican legislature and governor have cracked down on voting rights, the GOP held onto its majority. Republican secretary of state candidates in the swing states of Colorado, Iowa and Nevada also won elections yesterday.
Two influential elections for voting rights also took place in states unlikely to be presidential swing states. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a national ringleader for advocates of restrictive voting laws, won reelection. In Arizona, which has been working with Kansas to defend their states’ respective tough voting requirements, Republican candidate Michele Reagan also won her contest.
Suppression of voting rights and purposeful spread of lies, propaganda, and disinformation are likely to continue as the 2016 Presidential Political season begins.Will the Democratic Party learn anything from the last two disastrous mid term elections?
This fall, Democrats ran like they were afraid of losing. Consider the issues that most Democrats think really matter: Climate change, which a United Nations report just warned will have “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” across the globe. The expansion of Medicaid, so millions of poor families have health coverage. Our immoral and incoherent immigration system. Our epidemic of gun violence, which produces a mini-Sandy Hook every few weeks. The rigging of America’s political and economic system by the 1 percent.
For the most part, Democratic candidates shied away from these issues because they were too controversial. Instead they stuck to topics that were safe, familiar, and broadly popular: the minimum wage, outsourcing, and the “war on women.” The result, for the most part, was homogenized, inauthentic, forgettable campaigns. Think about the Democrats who ran in contested seats Tuesday night: Grimes, Nunn, Hagan, Pryor, Hagan, Shaheen, Landrieu, Braley, Udall, Begich, Warner. During the entire campaign, did a single one of them have what Joe Klein once called a “Turnip Day moment”—a bold, spontaneous outbreak of genuine conviction? Did a single one unfetter himself or herself from the consultants and take a political risk to support something he or she passionately believed was right?
I’m not claiming that such displays would have changed the outcome. Given President Obama’s unpopularity, Democratic victories, especially in red states, may have been impossible.
But there is a crucial lesson here for 2016. In recent years, some Democrats have convinced themselves they can turn out African Americans, Latinos, single women, the poor, and the young merely by employing fancy computer systems and exploiting Republican extremism. But technologically, Republicans are catching up, and they’re getting shrewder about blunting, or at least masking, the harshness of their views.
We saw the consequences on Tuesday. According to exit polls, voters under 30 constituted only 13 percent of the electorate, down from 19 percent in 2012. In Florida, the Latino share of the electorate dropped from 17 to 13 percent. In North Carolina, the African-American share dropped from 23 to 21 percent.
If Hillary Clinton wants to reverse those numbers, she’s going to have to inspire people—people who, more than their Republican counterparts, are inclined toward disconnection and despair. And her gender alone won’t be enough. She lost to Obama in 2008 in part because she could not overcome her penchant for ultra-cautious, hyper-sanitized, consultant-speak. Yet on the stump this year, she was as deadening as the candidates she campaigned for. As Molly Ball put it in September, “Everywhere Hillary Clinton goes, a thousand cameras follow. Then she opens her mouth, and nothing happens.”
A day after the election, officials are still counting ballots and the investigation into who made robocalls that allegedly persuaded many judges not to show up Tuesday is heating up.
Two former Republican committeemen are telling 2 Investigator Pam Zekman they were removed because they objected to those tactics.
Judges of election are appointed by their respective parties and they look at a judge’s primary voting records as part of the vetting process. But in these cases the former committeemen we talked to said that vetting crossed a line when judges were told who they had to vote for in the Tuesdays’ election.
One says it happened at a temporary campaign headquarters at 8140 S. Western Ave, which we’ve confirmed it was rented by the Republican Party where election judges reported they were falsely told they had to appear for additional training.
And a former 7th ward committeewoman says she witnessed the same thing at 511. E. 79th Street campaign workers calling judges to come in for additional training. She says there wasn’t any training.
“They were calling election judges, telling them to come in so they could get specific orders to vote for the Republican Party,” said Charon Bryson.
She says she is a Republican but objected to the tactic used on the judges.
“They should not be be pressured or coerced into voting for someone to get a job, or to get an appointment,” said Bryson.
Bryson says she thinks it is like “buying a vote.”
“If you don’t vote Republican you will not be an Republican judge, which pays $170,” she said.
The Board of Elections is now investigating whether calls to judges assigned citywide resulted in a shortage that infuriated the mayor.
“What happened with the robocalls was intentional. As far as we can tell somebody got a list, a list with names and numbers, called them, not to educate, not to promote the democratic process, but to sew confusion,” Emanuel said.
Scared by polls that show that people do not want Republican policies and by changes in demographics, Republicans have been pulling out the stops to turn back the tide. However, none of these fundamentals seem to be driving voting trends or turnout. WTF is wrong with people? As a member of the White Women Constituency who seem to be one of the groups that continues to vote against their own interest, I can agree that we should all get our acts together now. Nowhere was this more evident than in the Wendy Davis campaign.
Once more, with feeling: Greg Abbott and the Republican Party did not win women. They won white women. Time and time again, people of color have stood up for reproductive rights, for affordable health care, for immigrant communities while white folks vote a straight “I got mine” party ticket—even when they haven’t, really, gotten theirs.
The trend is echoed in national politics; we saw it play out across the country last night. To be sure, there are many factors that contributed to America’s rightward dive over the cliff: In a post-Citizens United electoral landscape, racist gerrymandering and voter ID laws appear to have had their intended effects of dividing and disenfranchising already marginalized voters.
But there’s another factor at play that Democrats fail to grapple with, and the Republican Party capitalizes on, time and time again: the historical crisis of empathy in the white community, one much older than gerrymandered congressional districts or poll taxes.
Let’s talk about what a vote for Wendy Davis meant: It meant a vote for strong public school funding, for Texas Medicaid expansion, for affordable family planning care, for environmental reforms, for access to a full spectrum of reproductive health-care options.
On the flip side, a vote for Greg Abbott meant a vote for the status quo, for empowering big industry and big political donors, for cutting public school funds and dismantling the Affordable Care Act, for overturning Roe v. Wade.
White women chose Greg Abbott Tuesday night. We did not choose empathy. Texas has been red for two decades. We do not choose empathy. We choose the fact that our children will always have access to education, that our daughters will always be able to fly to California or New York for abortion care, that our mothers will always be able to get that crucial Pap smear.
We chose a future where maternal mortality—but not our maternal mortality—rates will rise. We chose a future where preventable deaths from cervical cancer—but not our deaths—will rise. We chose a future where deaths from illegal, back-alley abortions—but not our illegal, back-alley abortions—will rise. We chose ourselves, and only ourselves.
Is white privilege such an enticing thing to us that we’ll sell ourselves out just to protect what scraps we’re thrown?
Anyway, between dark money, voter suppression, and the number of voters willing to vote against their policy beliefs and interests, we’re in trouble as a nation. The Democratic Party just bailed on Mary Landrieu and I’m about to get a Senator that wants to raise Social Security eligibility to age 70, privatize Medicare with vouchers, and defund student loans. This doesn’t even count that he voted no to hurricane relief for his own constituents after Hurricane Isaac. At this rate, every white person in the country should get a tube of astrolube with their ballot. Bend over folks, cause you’ve done it to yourselves!
What’s on your reading and blogging list?
I’m really hoping this week goes well but I’m not really looking forward to Tuesday. It’s my birthday and a tough one at that. It’s also election day, and it still looks like some crazy Republicans will be headed to Washington DC. However, I will start with my good news this morning. There are two things. I got to hug and say hi to Hillary Clinton on Saturday. I also got to wave good bye to the dread Daylight Savings Time which I hate with a passion. It’s basically a ploy to get people to stop and shop and go to golf courses on their way home from work. That’s especially true since they extended it into hours where it makes no sense whatsoever.
Daylight Saving Time is the greatest continuing fraud ever perpetuated on American people. And this weekend, the effects of this cruel monster will rear its ugly head again. On Sunday morning, Americans across the country will have to set their clocks back one hour, and next week, the sun will begin its ambling lurch to eventually setting at 4:30 in the afternoon.
Technically-speaking, this sleep cycle-wrecking practice of setting our clocks back is because we will be going back to Standard Time after our flirty summer with DST. And the unsettling shift back to these hours, and the hour “we gain,” is the back-end of the time-bargain we have to pay for setting our clocks forward in March to “maximize daylight”—a phrase probably better suited to organisms that rely on photosynthesis—during the spring and summer hours.
Why we try and “maximize daylight” like we’re plants is actually an archaic practice first thought up in the late 1700s and often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. As some elementary school teacher may have explained to you, this was a practice to accommodate agricultural workers and farmers (wrong, and we’ll get to this in a minute) or lower the nation’s electricity usage.
A lot of that is prime b.s. There is actually no benefit or rhyme or reason we have to endure this weekend’s time shift and no reason we should even be playing with the idea of losing and gaining hours.
Basically, it doesn’t save energy, it’s bad for your health, and the shifts in time kill work productivity because it gives you jet lag. I always hate seeing little children having to get up in the pitch black to stand on corners for school buses. The other thing I hate is that they have to walk home or stand out to get those same buses in the worst heat of the day.
“God, I love getting up an hour earlier,” said no one ever. “Me too. I can’t wait to have my schedule messed up in the fall,” no one replied.
A 2011 Rasmussen poll (for what it’s worth, Rasmussen can be a bit skewed when it comes to conservative politicians but seems to have no known bias against time zones) found that 47 percent (ha, Romney, ha) of Americans said DST was not worth the hassle.
So how do we fix all of this? Over at Quartz, there’s an idea to just have two timezones. But let’s be clear here. The real evil here is change. No one really minds if 4 a.m. is 4 a.m. They (and their possible heart attacks) mind if for some reason or another that 4 a.m. is now 5 a.m and will be 4 a.m. in a few months. It’s time to stop this insanity.
So, what if the worst happens? What if we wake up to a Republican led Senate with Mitch McConnell’s ugly face and personality at the helm? Will we face more years of nothing getting done but everything going to pieces? Here are two things that will happen.
2. Senate confirmations: The battlefield tilts
A GOP-controlled Senate will make it even tougher for Obama to confirm nominees, a process that hasn’t exactly been plain sailing even with Democrats in charge.
Although Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said she is staying put, it remains plausible that Obama could be faced with a third chance to put his stamp on the court. Republicans would find it much easier to block his choice if they held the majority in the Senate.
Obama will also nominate a replacement for retiring Attorney General Eric Holder, and the confirmation process will likely be fraught whomever he chooses.
Obama also isn’t like to face any shortage of executive branch, ambassador and federal judicial nominations in his final two years in office. They will all need Senate confirmation.
3. Obama to stock up on veto pens
Obama has had to pick up his veto pen on just two occasions since he took office in 2009, largely because Democrats have controlled at least one chamber of Congress throughout that time.
He will need to check he has a plentiful supply of ink if Republicans take the Senate majority. He can expect to spend his final two years using his veto to protect earlier legislative victories, rather than seriously attempting to rack up new ones.
There is some chance of bipartisan progress on issue such as immigration reform and global trade deals. But it also seems likely that Obama will need to rely on executive action if he wants to pursue many of his priorities.
The fact that the races in all of the presidential battleground states stayed close, despite an older and whiter electorate, suggests that Mr. Obama is not yet so unpopular as to cause the voters who remained Democratic-leaning through 2012 to vote Republicans into federal office.
This is perhaps most evident in Iowa, an overwhelmingly white state. It has tilted just slightly Democratic. If Republicans were going to gain voters who used to lean Democratic, Iowa would be the place where we would see it. Mr. Obama’s approval ratings in Iowa are particularly weak, in part because the state is full of white voters without college degrees — the group where Mr. Obama’s support has always been weakest.
The Democratic Senate candidate in Iowa, Bruce Braley, has not run a great campaign. He committed one of the more cringe-worthy gaffes of the cycle when he belittled Senator Charles E. Grassley for being “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school” at a fund-raiser with a group of lawyers. Yet Mr. Braley is locked in a tight race with his Republican opponent, Joni Ernst. If Ms. Ernst wins by a margin of a point or two, that suggests she probably would have lost with a presidential-year electorate.
The story is perhaps even more troubling for Republicans in the South, where Democratic candidates are doing well among white voters.
If Republicans cannot maintain their exceptional margins among Southern white voters in the post-Obama era, their path to victory will get very narrow in states like Georgia and Florida. In both, the white share of the electorate has dropped by more than 10 percentage points since 2000.
PPP’s final polls in Arkansas and Kentucky find Republicans in a strong position to win the Senate seats in those states on Tuesday, but the Louisiana Senate race still has the potential to be pretty competitive.
In Kentucky Mitch McConnell leads Alison Lundergan Grimes 50/42, with Libertarian David Patterson getting 3%. In a head to head match up, McConnell’s lead is 53/44. McConnell remains unpopular, with only 39% of voters approving of him to 50% who disapprove. But his campaign succeeded in making Grimes just as unpopular- her 39/49 favorability rating is nearly identical to his approval rating. For the millions and millions of dollars spent on this race it’s ended up right back around where it started- when we first polled it in December of 2012 McConnell led Grimes by 7 and in this final poll he leads by 8.
In April we found Grimes leading McConnell 45/44. At that time Grimes led McConnell by 37 points with Democrats and trailed him by 2 points with independents. Now she leads him by 35 points with Democrats and by 2 points with independents, nearly identical numbers to what they were 7 months ago. The story of McConnell’s comeback is one of getting his party to pretty universally vote for him, even if it’s still not in love with him. In April McConnell led Grimes by only 49 points with Republicans, 69/20. Now he leads her by 76 points with Republicans, 85/9. His resurgence with the GOP is the story of the race.
In Arkansas, we find Republicans leading the races for Governor and the Senate by 8-10 points. Tom Cotton is up 49/41 on Mark Pryor, and Asa Hutchinson is up 51/41 on Mike Ross. At the end of the day Barack Obama’s unpopularity in the state may be too much for the Democratic candidates to overcome- only 29% of voters approve of the job he’s doing to 62% who disapprove. The Republican candidates have proven to be relatively strong in their own right though. Hutchinson has a 49/35 favorability rating and Cotton’s is 48/40, better than we’re seeing for most candidates across the country this year.
Republicans lead all the down ballot races as well. The one where Democrats have the best chance at pulling out a win is Attorney General, where Republican Leslie Rutledge leads Democrat Nate Steel only 44/40. GOP nominees are ahead by 8-12 points in the rest of the contests. There is one piece of positive news for progressive voters in the Arkansas poll- the state’s initiative to raise the minimum wage leads for passage 65/31. It has near unanimous support from Democrats (88/9), majority support from independents (55/41), and even GOP voters are pretty much evenly divided on it (46/47).
In Louisiana it looks like Mary Landrieu will finish first in Tuesday’s election. She’s polling at 43% to 35% for Bill Cassidy, 15% for Rob Maness, and just 1% for ‘someone else.’ We find that a head to head between Landrieu and Cassidy would be pretty close at this point, with Cassidy ahead just 48/47. Whether a runoff election would really be that close depends on whether Landrieu can get Democratic leaning voters, especially African Americans and young people, to come back out and vote again in December.
There’s been little movement in this race over the last 6 weeks. Landrieu led Cassidy 42/34 in late September. This is yet another contest where neither candidate is well liked. Landrieu has a 45/50 approval rating, but Cassidy also has a 36/44 favorability rating.
“So what might Republicans actually do if they have majorities in both houses of Congress,”asks Reason.com’s Nick Gillespie, the longtime libertarian. “If past behavior is any indication of future performance, the short and likely answer is: screw it all up.”
There’s been plenty of pieces written in the progressive media about what a Republican-majority Senate is likely to mean. But sometimes the better source comes from the ‘takes-one-to-know one’ universe of ideological Republicans who are well acquainted with their current and possibly incoming senators.
“What Republicans can’t do is spend their time trying to chop chunks of government, obsess on the spending side, cut holes in the safety net, perpetuate cronyism or let paranoia gut anti-terror measures (e.g. drones, NSA),” wrote the Washington Post’s “Right Turn” blogger Jennifer Rubin, in a recent advice-filled column. “Senate gadflies are about to learn that being in the majority is different than throwing spitballs from the minority. They will need to show they can problem-solve (or they will confirm concerns that they cannot).
What Gillespie and Ruben both are confirming, actually, is that the Republicans are not likely to do much of anything other than be the fight-picking, time-wasting, obstructionist legislators that they have pledged to be on the 2014 campaign trail.
In other words, it is all too likely that there will be efforts to: dismantle Obamacare; ignore climate change and block all kinds of pro-environmental activities; repeal pro-consumer laws; block increases in the minimum wage; ignore immigration reform; block federal judicial nominees, and maybe even pursue impeachment. Georgia’s Republican senatorial candidate David Perdue haspledged to “prosecute the failed record” of the Obama administration. Iowa’s Joni Ernst wants to ban abortions and same-sex marriage.
These examples, gleaned from recent pieces in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Nation, and other reputable outlets, suggest that the race to the bottom in American politics is about to sink even deeper into the muck. The New Yorker’s sharp political writer, John Cassady, just wrote a piece entitled, “The Empty Elections of 2014,” where he is spot-on in noting that there’s been little substance—but a deluge of idiotic stereotypes and character assassinations—behind the “enervating output of political admen, spin doctors, and negative research shops for whom this is, first and foremost, a profit-making industry.”
Cassady’s point is that Americans are deluding themselves if they are thinking that party is somehow secretly campaigning on substance. The political ads “aren’t just an annoying sideline to, or distraction from, the real issues in the campaign. To a large extent, they are the campaign,” he wrote. “They represent the main source of information about candidates and issues. Which, if you think about it, is pretty alarming.”
There are two big late trends that are not good. One is voter suppression. The other is the problem created by Citizen’s United. Dark Money has entered races at the last minute.
A stealthy coterie of difficult-to-trace outside groups is slipping tens of millions of dollars of attacks ads and negative automated telephone calls into the final days of the midterm campaign, helping fuel an unprecedented surge of last-minute spending on Senate races.
Much of the advertising is being timed to ensure that no voter will know who is paying for it until after the election on Tuesday. Some of the groups are “super PACs” that did not exist before Labor Day but have since spent heavily on political advertising, adding to the volatility of close Senate and House races.
Others formed earlier in the year but remained dormant until recently, reporting few or no contributions in recent filings with the Federal Election Commission, only to unleash six- and seven-figure advertising campaigns as Election Day draws near. Yet more spending is coming from nonprofit organizations with bland names that have popped up in recent weeks but appear to have no life beyond being a conduit for the ads.
Alexander won her office with a late race-baiting flier against her African American opponent. She’s appeared at CPAC, was named a “rising star” by dark money group American Majority, illegally accepted free legal representation from a Bradley Foundation funded lawyer, supports gay bashing Chick Fil A and has accused Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis of supporting infanticide.
Yeah, she’s a real pip, alright.
So it comes as no surprise to us in Milwaukee that she used taxpayer money to mail out 7,000 copies of her newsletter which included the information that a photo ID would be needed to vote on Election Day:
The first problem with this is the fact that US Supreme Court blocked the implementation of this voter suppression law for this election.
But wait! There’s more. There’s always more.
This matter was quickly brought before the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board who ordered her to immediately send out another postcard – again at the taxpayer expense – to correct the misinformation she distributed.
Per her Facebook page, on Friday – just days before the election – she sent out the correction notice. It is doubtful that the postcards will get to the people in time before Election Day.
Despite the fact that it cost taxpayers thousands of dollars to send out the original mailer and thousands of dollars more to send out the correction, I have a feeling that we won’t hear from the conservatives about this waste and fraud.
So, I’m going to just bury my head in work until the end of the year if all this comes true. Then, I’ll look forward to the presidential primaries where Hillary Clinton will likely shine and the Republican Clown Car will just fill up with the worst the country has to offer.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?