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?
Is it morning?
It feels like hell.
The headline over at NYTs is bold across the entire page:
You click the link and the headline gets a little more…I don’t know…
Riding Wave of Discontent, G.O.P. Takes Senate
A wave of discontent? There is something about that statement, something that I just don’t get. If things are so shitty for the people, and I am talking the “real” people out there…not the wealthy folks…but if things are that bad for the people, which believe me they fucking are…how in the hell do assholes like McConnell get to have moments like this: Mitch McConnell Victory Speech: “You Will Be Heard In Washington” Bullshit!
“I’ve heard your concerns, I’ve made them my own, you will be heard in Washington,” McConnell said. “When you get right down to it that’s what this campaign was really all about. It’s wasn’t about me or my opponent. It was about a government that people can no longer trust.”
Give me a break! From the transcript: Midterm Elections 2014: Mitch McConnell Victory Speech | Video – ABC News
My thoughts also also turned back tonight to two other people. Who aren’t here but there’s room oh great deal. My parents. I learned a lot from them both. From my dad a combat veteran of World War II. Learned an abiding. Love of this country and all that it represents not only to those of us who were fortunate enough to be born here. But to so many others. Around the world. From my mom. I’ll learn the value per parents. And got an enduring lesson. As she helped me overcome frightening bout with polio as a job. In many ways my folks were just like any other parents of their generation. They were off of us. They believe. In America. Without a Trace of cynicism may transmitted to central promise of this country on to made the promise that every generation believe the next one. A little better off. On the one before. This is a compact that every generation of Americans have made. With the one that followed. And through civil war and depression and war wars and strive. We’ve always. Made good on. But as I’ve traveled through Kentucky over the past year upsets new doubts. Subtly folks aren’t so sure. That that Compaq will serve if we continue down the road. That we’ve been all. They’re hungry for new literature. They want a reason to be hopeful. Above all they want some reassurance that people who run the government are actually on their side. So photo lineup pledge you this. Well you’re cold modern eastern Kentucky. Who can’t find work. Or mom and Paducah who doesn’t understand why the government just took away or family’s health insurance. I’ve heard your concerns. Made them my all. You will be heard in Washington. And look when you got right down to it that’s what. This campaign was really all about. It wasn’t about me. Or mob loan. It was about a government that people no longer trust to carry out its most basic duty to keep them say. To protect the border to provide dignified and quality care for our veterans. A government that can’t be trusted to do the basic things because it’s too busy focusing on things that shouldn’t be focused on are all. A government that’s too busy imposing his view of the world all people who don’t share that view. To many in Washington forgot ended their job is to serve. So tomorrow. The papers rules. I won this race. But the truth says. And adrift is. Tonight we begin another one. One is far more important than mine. And that the race to turn this country around. To restore hope and confidence and optimism to this commonwealth and across this nation of ours. Some things don’t change after tonight. I don’t expect the president to wake up tomorrow and view the world any differently than he did when he woke up this morning. He knows I won’t either. But look what we do have an obligation to work together on issues where we can agree. I think we have a duty to do that. Just because we have a two party system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict. I think I’ve shown. To be true at critical times. In the I hope the president gives me the chance to show it again. There’s so much that we can and should do for the good of all America. Can talk injured tired of a government that only seems to work when it is working against them. And there are also tired of hearing that those of us who fight for them and Washington are somehow the problem. I’m so honored to have doctor Noel hotter with me tonight. All got an opportunity to get to know are. What an extraordinary woman. Doctor otter was determined to get her daughter back against all odds she did. She did it and when all is said and done she achieved something else that a lot of people said was even more remarkable. She made mission anymore warm and public. It over the past year a lot of people from outside the state of try to telkom pelicans what motivates me to do about it. I let them have their side. But here’s the truth. Anyone who says nothing ever gets done in Washington. Here’s my Bob word out your. Tell that the Noel under. Miss this woman is the reason I arrived. She’s the reason I do what I do in Washington. We can make a difference and we do every single done. We’re proud of that in my office and yet as I’ve traveled across the state I’ve become. Acutely reminded of something else the government can do. They can do terrible damage. The families and community. Nothing to hurt in people’s an amount. It breaks your heart to see the pain that distant planners. In federal agencies are causing to so many in our state. And if you’re elected official like me it hardens your resolve to do something about it. For too long or too long this administration has tried to tell the American people what’s good for them. And then blame somebody else when their policies don’t work out. Tonight Kentucky rejected that Oprah. Tonight. Tonight Kentucky and said we can do better as the nation. Tonight they said we can have real change in Washington railtrack. O
kay. Okay. And that’s just what I intend to deliver.
He is not talking about the real people here….the people he works for (who all these Republicans work for) are the big money donors.
But more on that below…
Now that transcript is a little wonky but you get the jest of it all…the bullshit of it all.
It was about this time last night that I dozed off in front of the TV. The last few days have been exhausting, my daughter is sick and we have been in Emergency Rooms and doctor’s offices for hours on end in the last 36 hours.
While I was in this anger induced exhausted sleep deprived haze, my daughter asked me to make her a cup of Sleepytime tea.
I guess a bit of time ticked by because she got tired of waiting and called out to me again…”Mama, my tea!” My response was to holler downstairs to my own mother, “Ma…please make some tea for Bebe! She is asking for some Sleepytime!” I again went back into my disgusted angry comatose state. My mother must have asked me which type of tea my daughter wanted, since she did not hear the name…and I am told my response to her was: “Fuck that fucking turtle head….” or something of that nature. My mom proceeded to look for a tea box with a turtle on it, finding only one box with a picture of a bear sitting in a rocking chair wearing a nightcap, she made that one.
I guess you can say the entire shitty results of last night was weighing heavily on my mind and even in my sleep I was cursing the McConnell bastard. Here are a list of links for you today…it is a link dump-a-thon:
Back to that New York Times Headline…GOP Takes Senate!
Then comes the actual article’s title, which gives you this: Election Results: Republicans Win Senate Control With at Least 7 New Seats – NYTimes.com
Be sure you read this next article in full thought: Georgia Democrats complain of voting problems | AccessNorthGa
Georgia Democrats and civil rights activists complained of voting problems Tuesday, and blamed the state’s top elections official, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The DeKalb County elections office was crowded with people whose names weren’t on the list of eligible voters even though they’ve been registered for past elections. Some were told they were ineligible because they didn’t update their voter registrations to match their driver’s license. Others said they had tried to match these documents, but their applications weren’t processed in time. Many were given provisional ballots, which often aren’t counted unless races are very close, and even then the burden is on citizens to prove that they are or should be legally registered, or their vote won’t be counted at all. Democratic Rep. Stacey Abrams of Atlanta had gone to court complaining that 50,000 voters still weren’t on the eligible list by the end of October, but a state judge declined to intervene, saying the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and the New Georgia Project had failed to prove that Kemp’s office had done anything wrong.
Seriously…go read the article and check out one of quotes.
“A registered voter changing her address required a team of national lawyers to be able to vote,” Abrams said. “That should not be happening in the 21st century in Georgia.”
The rest of the link dump:
BREAKING! Working Poor In Florida Freed From Neoliberal Shackles of the Affordable Care Act – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
Which Supreme Court nominees from President Obama could be confirmed in Summer 2015? – The Washington Post
Harry Reid the “unAmerican” and soon-to-be-former Senate majority leader: Good riddance – The Washington Post
No More Mister Nice Blog-REPUBLICANS RAN A 2014 CAMPAIGN. DEMOCRATS RAN A 2012 CAMPAIGN.
US midterm elections: Republican victories are good news for old families – as a new George Bush steps on to political stage – Americas – World – The Independent
This is an open thread!
And yes those are pictures of people being taken for ride by turtles….and that is a girl being bitten in the ass by a couple of snapping turtles. You can make the significance and any representations on your own!
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?
Two days left, and if you are sick of all the campaign commercials on TV…then I think you will agree, we all could use some distractions.
For me this is going into week three of hell, so I have been up to my ass in distractions=QatQi
But I won’t bitch about the TCM blackout again…
So let’s just start the post with a link that got the whole post going.
As holiday season approaches, visions of sugar-plum fairies inevitably begin dancing in our heads. ‘Tis the time of “The Nutcracker,” and other classic ballet performances that countdown to a whole new season of dance across the world. In honor of the possibilities of the 2014-2015 season, we dug into the photographic archives of Getty and the Associated Press to find the most iconic snapshots of ballerinas and prima donnas over the ages.
Below is a brief but beautiful visual history of the art form, ranging from 1911 to 1999. From Vaslav Nijinsky to Benjamin Millepied, Anna Pavlov to Sylvie Guillem, the collection of vintage portraits gives a mostly black-and-white glimpse into over a century’s worth of ballet greats. Much has changed in terms of representation and body image over the years, and while we can only hope to see more diversity, it certainly shows in these images. Take a look and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
It is brief, and they do miss out on a lot of artist…many from the 1970s, when there was a surge in professional dancers that really kicked some ass. So as you can see…I have added to the articles images throughout this thread. Enjoy the pictures of some of the best dancers evah! And be sure to watch the videos too, I bet you have never seen these performances. (Oh yeah, and keep a mental note of that picture of Nijinsky, because we will come back to it in a moment.)
Like this one, from 1984…it is Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite:
Originally broadcast in 1984 over New York’s WNET/Thirteen on “Great Performances,” as part of the “Dance in America” series Baryshnikov Dances Sinatra and More… film. Mikhail Baryshnikov, along with members of American Ballet Theatre, dance three works choreographed by Twyla Tharp: “The Little Ballet,” “Sinatra Suite,” and “Push Comes to Shove.”
Damn that man could dance…mmmm, and he was gorgeous too.
Another production from the same year that I think you will enjoy…I have a two clips featured below but you can see the entire show here: Evening at the Met – 1984 – YouTube 100th anniversary celebration at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. This performance took place on May 13, 1984.
The ballet was first presented in Monte Carlo on 19 April 1911. Nijinsky danced The Rose and Tamara Karsavina danced The Young Girl. It was a great success. Spectre became internationally famous for the leap (jump) Nijinsky made through a window at the ballet’s end.
That alone is something you need to see. (Click on Lillian Gish name above…)
Along with that Huffpo link, here is a Buzzfeed post that has some beautiful images: Gorgeous Vintage Photographs Of Ballet Dancers
Many more at link.
First up, two performers that were amazing together:
Marcia Haydee and Richard Cragun
My favorite of the bunch has to be Taming of the Shrew…
This is the performance from the 1984 Met show:
Here is their version of Romeo and Juliet:
Manon Act I Pas de Deux – Antoinette Sibley & David Wall
Giselle Act II Pas de Deux – Alicia Alonso & Jorge Esquivel
Paloma Herrera and Angel Corella – Grand Pas de Deux ”Don Quixote”
Le Grand Pas de Quatre 1/2 – Les Ballets Trockadero
Dammit…now I have to post some news shit. Okay. But I am going to be quick about it.
A man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said more than 200 girls kidnapped by the group six months ago had been “married off” to its fighters, contradicting Nigerian government claims they would soon be freed.
Nigeria’s military says it killed Shekau a year ago, and authorities said in September that they had also killed an imposter posting as him in videos. In the latest recording it is hard to see the man’s face as he his filmed from a distance.
But it is likely to raise grave doubts about whether talks between a Boko Haram faction and the government in neighboring Chad will secure the release of the girls, who were kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in April.
“We have have married them off and they are all in their husbands’ houses,” the man claiming to be Shekau says.
“The over 200 Chibok girls have converted to Islam, which they confess is the best religion. Either their parents accept this and convert too or they can die.”
The majority of the kidnapped girls were Christians.
Detectives continued their search on Saturday for the driver of an SUV who struck and killed three teenage girls trick-or-treating on Halloween in Southern California, and investigators were unsure who was behind the wheel of the vehicle, a police spokesman said.
The three girls, ranging in age from 13 to 15, were in costume and carrying candy bags when they were hit while crossing a street on Friday evening in Santa Ana, about 35 miles (55 km) south of Los Angeles.
Officers found the sports utility vehicle abandoned behind a nearby retailer, said Santa Ana police spokesman Corporal Anthony Bertagna.
Later on Friday night, police went to an address registered as the home of the vehicle’s owner, but the occupants of the house had no connection to the SUV, Bertagna said.
Detectives are unsure where the registered owner of the vehicle might be living, or whether the SUV had been stolen before the hit and run collision, he said.
I wonder if this was some sort of gang initiation thing…those kids were walking in the crosswalk when they were run over. Two of the kids were sisters, twins.
This caught my eye via Politics USA: Minority Voter Suppression In North Carolina Witnessed Firsthand
It is harder to vote in North Carolina these days. On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court, in Shelby v. Holder, gutted a landmark provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A majority of the justices struck down Article 5 of the Act, which had required federal preapproval of changes to voting practices in southern states. Eviscerating Article 5 effectively halted its protections and set the stage for sweeping efforts to disenfranchise minorities, women, the elderly and students. Six weeks later, emboldened by the Court’s ruling, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the nation’s most restrictive voting law all in the name of “preventing voter fraud.”
Lawsuits challenging the law have been filed by various organizations including the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. The ACLU and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice sought to have certain provisions of the law stayed until the trial scheduled for summer of 2015. The request for a stay was denied at the district court level, but the district court’s decision was reversed by a three judge panel at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. On October 8, 2014, the Supreme Court struck down the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had stayed many of the 2013 North Carolina’s laws restrictions thus instituting widespread voter suppression.
Read the rest…if you can.
In connection to the link above… Jim Crow returns | Al Jazeera America
Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.
At the heart of this voter-roll scrub is the Interstate Crosscheck program, which has generated a master list of nearly 7 million names. Officials say that these names represent legions of fraudsters who are not only registered but have actually voted in two or more states in the same election — a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.
Until now, state elections officials have refused to turn over their Crosscheck lists, some on grounds that these voters are subject to criminal investigation. Now, for the first time, three states — Georgia, Virginia and Washington — have released their lists to Al Jazeera America, providing a total of just over 2 million names.
Ya got that? 2 miiiiiiiillllllliiiioooon names.
The Crosscheck list of suspected double voters has been compiled by matching names from roughly 110 million voter records from participating states. Interstate Crosscheck is the pet project of Kansas’ controversial Republican secretary of state, Kris Kobach, known for his crusade against voter fraud.
The three states’ lists are heavily weighted with names such as Jackson, Garcia, Patel and Kim — ones common among minorities, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Indeed, fully 1 in 7 African-Americans in those 27 states, plus the state of Washington (which enrolled in Crosscheck but has decided not to utilize the results), are listed as under suspicion of having voted twice. This also applies to 1 in 8 Asian-Americans and 1 in 8 Hispanic voters. White voters too — 1 in 11 — are at risk of having their names scrubbed from the voter rolls, though not as vulnerable as minorities.
If even a fraction of those names are blocked from voting or purged from voter rolls, it could alter the outcome of next week’s electoral battle for control of the U.S. Senate — and perhaps prove decisive in the 2016 presidential vote count.
“It’s Jim Crow all over again,” says the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who cofounded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr. Lowery, now 93, says he recognizes in the list of threatened voters a sophisticated new form of an old and tired tactic. “I think [the Republicans] would use anything they can find. Their desperation is rising.”
You know what that reminds me of, what this redneck says in this scene from Mississippi Burning:
Pertinent part starts around 0:35 min but the whole damn clip is good.
n an interview with Fusion TV, director Spike Lee dismissed the notion that America has become a post-racial society under a black president, calling the belief ‘bullsh*t.”
Speaking with Fusion host Jorge Ramos about race in America, Lee touched upon multiple subjects including the police chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City and the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Asked by Ramos what he tells his children about race in America, Lee replied “I don’t care who you are, if you’re African-American in this country, you know know what the deal is.”
Prompted to elaborate by Ramos, Lee continued.
“That you’re black. It just means that you’re black. And the people who get in trouble are the people who forget they’re black,” Lee explained. “You can’t just think I’m so successful that I’ve reached another realm. And I’m in a so-called post …” at which point Lee asked the audience for help remembering the term ‘post-racial’. “Yeah, that bullsh*t, where now that we have a black, African-American president that race no longer matters. And there are times, even today, it’s hard for me to catch a cab sometimes. In New York City.”
Asked by Ramos why, in 2014, incidents like the deaths of Garner and Brown by police officers still happening, Lee said, “There’s a big division for the police departments, I think, in this country, versus people of color.”
Addressing the death of Garner, Lee noted that the chokehold was banned over twenty years ago.
Lee said that, after seeing the video of Garner being held and choked to death by police officers, he couldn’t help but notice the similarities to the chokehold that killed the character Radio Raheem (see video below), in his landmark 1989 film, Do The Right Thing.
In the film, the death of Raheem set off rioting and the destruction of the neighborhood.
Video at the link.
More right-wing shit: Arizona School Board Votes To Get Rid Of Textbook Pages That Discuss Abortion
An Arizona school district is making sure that students are not educated about abortion in biology class.
This week, Gilbert Public Schools’ governing board voted to remove pages from an honors biology textbook because the pages talk about mifepristone, a pill that can induce an abortion, reports local outlet 12 News. Members of the board contended that the pages violate a state statute, which prevents school districts from providing instruction that “that does not give preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion,” says the outlet.
The specific section in question is titled “Contraception can prevent unwanted pregnancy.” It says that “complete abstinence (avoiding intercourse) is the only totally effective method of birth control, but other methods are effective to varying degrees.” The passage, from the seventh edition of Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections, goes on to describe the morning-after pill and mifepristone.
Why can’t these bible thumpers keep it to themselves.
The issue was first brought to the board’s attention after the conservative Christian organization, Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote a letter to the district’s superintendent in August, saying that the textbook violates state regulations, reports the outlet. The board voted 3-2 to redact the pages in question, although it is unclear whether the district will remove the specific pages or blacken unwanted passages, says local outlet KTVK-3TV.
Notably, the Arizona Department of Education previously reviewed the textbook and said it was not violating the state statute. An attorney for the district said the same, reports local outlet the East Valley Tribune. As a result, one of the board members who voted against changing the textbook, Lily Tram, called the move an example of censorship.
And how about this for thumping: FL Supreme Court removes judge for running Christian ministry business from her courtroom
What is it with these people?
There was almost a major accident in NYC: ‘Human Error’ Caused Drill to Hit Train — NYMag
On Thursday, a ten-inch construction drill bit pierced the ceiling of a subway tunnel near 21st Street–Queensbridge station, almost impaling a crowded F train. Luckily, the conductor hit the brakes when he felt the drill touch the train, and no one was hurt. How did this close call occur? According to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz, someone screwed up.
“At this point in the investigation, the incident appears to have been caused by human error and doesn’t involve equipment malfunction,” Ortiz told the New York Daily News. That human is employed by Griffin Dewatering New England Inc., a contractor working on the East Side Access Project, which will eventually connect the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central. Ortiz also said that “officials have determined further drilling for the project isn’t needed,” which should be of some comfort to F train riders, who have been forced to put up with a lot lately.
And in world news: Argentina asks Spain to arrest 20 Franco-era officials
An Argentine judge has asked Spain to arrest and extradite 20 former officials accused of abuses during the military rule of General Franco.
They cannot be tried in Spain because of an amnesty law but the officials could be prosecuted in Argentina.
The families of alleged victims asked Argentina for help because it has an extradition treaty with Spain.
In April, Spain’s high court refused to extradite to Argentina a former policemen accused of torture.
Judge Maria Servini de Cubria issued the arrest and extradition warrants for two former ministers of General Franco’s regime, and 18 other officials, invoking “universal jurisdiction” – a legal doctrine that authorises judges to try serious rights abused committed in other countries.
Using the doctrine, Spain briefly detained Chile’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998.
The two most prominent suspects in Judge Servini’s investigation are Rodolfo Martin Villa, 79, who was Franco’s interior minister, and Jose Uteri Molina, 86, who was housing minister.
Give that a read, it is interesting…I wonder how it will all turn out.
Some of you may have gotten a chance to see this flick on TCM, Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows : moviemorlocks.com – Elevator to the Eyes of Jeanne Moreau
Here is a look at ” The study of mimicry shows a close relationship between scientific psychology and the theatre, says Tiffany Watt-Smith.” :BBC News – The human copying machine
Tube closures and warnings of a crush of visitors couldn’t keep half-term crowds from Paul Cummins’ ceramic poppies on Saturday.
It is easy to visualise each poppy as a death.
…shocking splashes of colour in the poppies installation – the bloody wave over the walls, the crimson stream flowing from a window, the narrow ribbon of red in the moat. But nothing prepared early spectators for what followed. In box after box, they arrived, ceramic flowers and stalks, assembled at random heights by volunteers, many too young to have known a relative involved in the First World War.
How do you remember 888,246 lives? We cannot take in the numbers, though we have seen enough news bulletins to know about mass deaths. To single out one soldier’s story helps us focus, but overlooks the rest. Live footage, fictional re-creations, cannot help us with the scale of loss. But it is easy to visualise each poppy at the Tower as a death, for we have grown up associating the flower with remembrance. We do not need to see a single face or coffin to feel a lump in the throat: we know how to love and grieve.
A solemn ending I know…but it is the beginning of November. The weather is dreary and cold and damp, we even had snow in Banjoville this weekend. And as for the Fall Foilage? There was none this year. The leaves just turned to brown. Very depressing and such a let down. I hope it is not a premonition of things to come this Tuesday. We will be here to live blog the Election Day event, so please stop by the blog. Otherwise, if you are around today, leave a comment or thought…and have a pleasant day.
Below are all the pictures in this post, plus a few I could not fit so give them a look if you like…
Just three more days until election day. The political pundits are hammering us day after day with the news that a Republican-controlled Senate is a foregone conclusion.That’s why I liked the NYT piece by Nate Cohn that Dakinikat included in her post yesterday on how the polls under-count Democratic voters. Cohn claims the inaccuracies may not be as important this year, because young voters and minority voters may not bother to vote. But what if he’s wrong? Democrats are making concerted efforts to turn out African American voters, and Democrats are traditionally better at getting out the vote.
Cohn’s article was based on an analysis at Huffington Post, which found that polls underestimated Democratic results in 2010 Senate races by 3.1 percent. The polls also underestimated President Obama’s vote totals in 2012. A number of important Senate races are close enough to be within the polls’ margin of error, so we really do have some reasons for hope. Mark Blumenthal and Ariel Edwards-Levy on October 16:
For the last four weeks, HuffPost’s poll tracking model has given Republicans slightly better than a 50/50 probability of winning a majority in the Senate, largely on the basis of leads of 3 percent or less by Republican candidates in critical states like Iowa, Colorado and Arkansas. On TuesdayHuffPollster noted the real potential for late shifts or polling errors of the same magnitude, a possibility that explains why considerable uncertainty remains about our current forecast of a Republican takeover.
RealClearPolitics election analyst Sean Trende added more data on this issue Thursday morning, sharing an analysis showing that polling leads of 1 to 2 percentage points in the final three weeks of the election translate into victory just over 60 percent of the time. Even candidates with leads of 3 to 4 percentage points sometimes end up behind on Election Day.
“Be wary of Senate polls,” Emory University political science professor Alan Abramowitz tweeted on Tuesday, adding that the RealClearPolitics Senate race polling averages in 2010 “underestimated D performance in all 7 tossup states.” HuffPollster data scientist Natalie Jackson checked the backtesting conducted on our current model and the same result. Our final run of the model before the 2010 election would have underestimated the performance of Democratic candidates in all seven of the Senate races rated as late toss-ups, and would have miscalled winners in two states, Nevada and Colorado.
We also looked at the the prior midterm election in 2006, and found a similar pattern. The polling model understated the Democratic performance in five of seven races rated as late toss-ups (we used the Cook Political Report classifications for both years. Cook and RealClearPolitics rated the same seven states as toss-ups on 2010).
Here’s another article by the same authors, published yesterday: How The Senate Polls Could Be Wrong.
With less than a week remaining before Election Day, HuffPost’s poll tracking model continues to report roughly the same forecast for control of the U.S. Senate as it has for the past two weeks: The polling averages show Republicans leading at least nominally in enough states to gain a 53-seat majority. The margins remain close enough, however, that the overall probability of a Republican majority is just 63 percent as of this writing. In other words, polling shows the Senate battle leaning Republican, but there is still a real potential that Democrats could hang on due to late shifts or polling errors. So how could these polling averages be wrong?
The biggest problem for pollsters is reaching people who use cell phones and have no land line. It’s often assumed that only young people do this, but I’m an old lady and I got rid of my land line years ago. There must be others like me.
…the approaches many pollsters are using to attempt to reach the cell-only population remain unproven and, effectively, experimental. Pollsters that use an automated, recorded voice methodology are barred by federal law from dialing cell phones, and many are relying on interviews conducted over the Internet to make up the difference. Live interviewer phone polls conducted at the state level in 2014 are mostly using samples drawn from cell phone directories compiled by data vendors — methods that may have their own limitations.
More important, the missing cell-phone-only voters may have been only part of the problem. Another theory is that the questions most media pollsters use to identify likely voters missed less enthusiastic Democrats who ultimately turned out to vote. In some polls, that pattern was evident in sample compositions that understated non-white voters.
The state with the greatest potential to see a repeat of these problems is Colorado, where polls understated Democratic candidates by 2 to 3 percentage points the last two elections, and two additional factors could lead to a repeat in 2014. First is the unique challenge of reaching Colorado’s Spanish speaking Latino voters, who tend to be more Democratic than those more fluent in English. Second, the state shifted to all-mail voting in 2014, with every registered voter automatically receiving a ballot via U.S. mail. Political scientists who studied similar shifts in Washington State found that a shift to all-mail voting produced a 2 to 4 percentage point increase in turnout, with the largest increases occurring among “lower participating registrants,” in particular those who had previously voted only in presidential elections. In Colorado and elsewhere, these “drop off voters” are the primary targets of the massive Democratic get-out-the-vote campaign.
And from Bloomberg, Why Political Polling Is Getting Harder.
…[I]t’s getting harder for survey researchers to corral enough people on the line for a representative sample.
“It’s becoming a much more difficult, nerve-wracking business,” said Geoff Garin, the president of Hart Research Associates and a leading Democratic pollster, who spoke to Bloomberg News editors and reporters Wednesday. “The willingness of respondents to participate in polls has declined, the move to cellphones has had an impact,” and more people are screening their calls, Garin said.
The challenges are acute in states like Iowa, where the highly competitive Senate election between Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst has drawn more than $54 million in general-election outside spending (including party committees). That’s a lot of TV, radio, mail, and phone calls.
According to Kantar Media’s CMAG, Iowa Senate ads have run on local broadcast stations more than 34,000 times in just the past 30 days, second only to the 38,948 ads in North Carolina, which has more than three times Iowa’s population.
“If you are in reasonably small state—there are only four congressional districts in Iowa—with a reasonably competitive election, you are getting a lot of phone calls at your home, and not just polling phone calls,” Garin said.
And the ones who don’t hang up immediately may have been polled before.
Finally, here’s a detailed post at Five-Thirty-Eight on how the polling “sausage” is made. There are lots of possibilities for polling error.
The Washington Post is at it again, reported leaks from “law enforcement sources” who claim that the DOJ isn’t going to have enough evidence to bring civil rights charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for killing teenager Michael Brown.
Justice Department investigators have all but concluded they do not have a strong enough case to bring civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., law enforcement officials said.
That is so vague as to be meaningless. What law enforcement officials? Are they from Ferguson PD, St. Louis PD, the St. Louis DA’s office? It doesn’t sound like they’re from the DOJ.
“The evidence at this point does not support civil rights charges against Officer Wilson,” said one person briefed on the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
One person did speak on the record:
Justice spokesman Brian Fallon said the case remains open and any discussion of its results is premature. “This is an irresponsible report by The Washington Post that is based on idle speculation,” Fallon said in a statement.
But, says the Post:
Other law enforcement officials interviewed by The Post said it was not too soon to say how the investigation would end. “The evidence we have makes federal civil rights charges unlikely,” one said.
F**k you, Washington Post!
A few more Ferguson links:
Ryan J. Reilly at HuffPo, Police In Ferguson Stock Up On Riot Gear Ahead Of Grand Jury Decision.
KSDK.com, MSU paper prints racial slurs directed at Ferguson protesters. Stay classy, MSU!
Kaci Hickox talks about the judge’s decision that she doesn’t have to be locked in her home under police guard and can simply follow CDC guidelines on Ebola. From ABC News:
A nurse who fought quarantine rules after returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa said a court ruling in her favor today will ensure that other health care workers returning from Africa are given “human treatment.”
“I am humbled today by the judge’s decision and even more humbled by the support that we have received by the town of Fort Kent, the state of Maine, across the United States and even across the border,” Hickox, 33, told reporters today from her home in Fort Kent.
A judge in Maine this morning ruled that Hickox could leave her home and spend time in public spaces despite other state officials’ attempts to force her into a mandatory quarantine until a 21-day potential Ebola incubation period ends.
The judge noted in his ruling that although the state’s fears may be irrational, they are real and Hickox should be mindful of them.
“I know Ebola is a scary disease,” Hickox said today. “I have seen it face-to-face.”
I can’t begin to say how much I admire this woman’s courage. Some reactions to Hickox from the Maine town she’s living in, Fort Kent residents divided on feelings over Kaci Hickox.
FORT KENT, Maine — On Friday afternoon Kaci Hickox, the nurse released from isolation after returning last week to the U.S. from West Africa, where she treated Ebola patients, thanked the residents of Fort Kent for their support and assured them she was sensitive to their concerns.
But not everyone in this northern Maine community is convinced Hickox has their best interest at heart and some say the fears people have of possibly being exposed to Ebola are negatively affecting local businesses.
The situation “is bound to affect the whole town,” Steve Daigle, owner of Stevie D’s Panini Plus said Friday. “The economy around here is already so fragile, every dollar we lose hurts us.” ….
On Friday, another business owner in Fort Kent, who did not want to give his name, said he, too, has heard from customers planning to shop out of town in the wake of the Ebola concerns.
A local dentist also voiced his displeasure that Hickox has not committed to home quarantine.
“I think that is very irresponsible of her,” Dr. Lucien Daigle said. “She cannot guarantee 100 percent she will not become symptomatic [and] in that worst-case scenario the ramifications will be beyond what you can imagine.”
Daigle said he has spoken to several customers who have told him they plan to shop out of town until the 21-day incubation period for the virus ends for Hickox on Nov. 10.
“People are afraid,” Daigle said.
At least people named Daigle are afraid…
A few more links:
Boston Globe, Vermonter being monitored for Ebola, governor says.
Politico, Why a GOP Senate could be short-lived.
The Daily Beast, If you like personhood, you’ll love the GOP Senate.
Five Thirty Eight, Senate Update: With 4 Days Left, Here’s The State Of The Races
Business Insider, A Virus Found In Lakes May Be Literally Changing The Way People Think.
Boston.com, How GamerGate Is Influencing MIT Video Game Teachers.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a wonderful weekend!
Good Morning from One excited Hillary Clinton Fan!!
I’ve got my Saturday all planned around the Senator Mary Landrieu event! I’m canvassing in my neighborhood in the morning, then headed out for Moms Grams for Mary which includes new Grandmother Hillary Clinton as the special guest and featured speaker.
The Landrieu campaign said Clinton will speak about women in the workforce, particularly how to get more women into science, technology and mathematics fields. Clinton is considered the Democratic frontrunner in the 2016 presidential race.
I’m going to follow up some of BB’s comments yesterday with some news on the ground. I spent most of the evening phone banking for Mary and talking to some really enthusiastic women of color and men that are all for her re-election. I think that the the turn out of minorities may actually be pretty good this year because the obvious, ugly racism is igniting some really huge fires. The ugly, misogyny is also heating some fires under women. I’m just hoping the Latino vote has the same degree of fire! Still, many polls show a Republican take over. Do polls undercount Dem supporters?
A couple of elections in which polls tilt slightly Republican aren’t enough to prove anything. The polls have erred before, only to prove fine over the longer term.
But the reasons to think that today’s polls underestimate Democrats are not based on just the last few years of results. They are also based on a fairly diverse set of methodological arguments, supported by extensive research, suggesting that many of today’s polls struggle to reach Democratic-leaning groups.
Supporters of Senator Harry Reid of Nevada shortly before the 2010 election, which he won by six points despite a series of polls showing him behind. Nevada is a particularly difficult place for pollsters. Credit Isaac Brekken for The New York Times
“The problems that we’re having with getting representative samples tend to lead us toward people who tend not to be Democrats,” said Scott Keeter, the director of survey research at the Pew Research Center. The most highly regarded pollsters, like those at Pew, have made many adjustments to compensate. But other polls, including many of those informing polling averages and Senate forecasting models, are not nearly as high in quality. Another highly regarded pollster, who requested anonymity, put it more bluntly, calling the new challenges “scary.” Many pollsters are reluctant to say things on the record that might undermine confidence in their own polling; others are unwilling to say anything at all, even to offer basic methodological information.
There are reasons to question whether the problems will be as acute this year, because many of the young and nonwhite voters who pose the biggest challenges to pollsters will most likely stay home in a midterm election. Even if the polls are again biased toward Republicans this year, there are reasons to doubt whether Democrats will retain control of the Senate. The Republicans might have a large enough advantage to withstand another round of modest polling errors.
But the larger concerns will remain, and they might be more significant in 2016 — when younger and nonwhite people are expected to vote in larger numbers.
No race illustrates the issue better than the Nevada Senate race in 2010. Senator Harry Reid easily won re-election, by 6 points, after trailing in every nonpartisan poll conducted over the final few weeks of the race. It was one of the biggest general-election upsets in recent memory, but it is perhaps less surprising when viewed in light of polling’s challenges today.
Nevada can be a nightmare for pollsters. It has the country’s third-most urbanized population; the fastest rate of population growth between 2000 and 2010; and the second-fastest growth in the nonwhite share of eligible voters. Hispanics represent 17 percent of eligible voters — the sixth-largest share in the country. All of these circumstances present problems for pollsters.
Perhaps as a result, the polls have underestimated Democrats in every competitive statewide contest since 2004. It is a microcosm of the polling challenges across the country.
Many of the difficulties stem from the declining response rate to telephone surveys. The share of households responding to telephone surveys plummeted to 9 percent in 2012, from 36 percent in 1997, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. Young, nonwhite and urban voters can be hardest for pollsters to reach.
In a different era, the varying response rates among these demographic groups would not have mattered so much. In the past, the young did not vote so very differently from the old, nor the rural from the urban; divisions were more likely to be along religious or regional lines. Nonwhite voters were a sliver of the electorate.
But today, Democrats predominate in large metropolitan areas and among younger people; Republicans dominate the countryside and the older. Nonwhite voters represent a far larger share of the electorate, and the Democratic coalition, than even a decade ago.
To compensate, most polls sponsored by the news media weight their sample to match the demographic composition of the adult population. Specifically, some pollsters weight their samples to a long list of census targets, like race, age, gender, education, region, household size, telephone use and population density.
But many of the less rigorous polls do not weight to all of these targets, and not correcting for one can potentially bias a survey.
Most of this year’s state polls, for instance, do not weight their sample by population density. Some weight their sample to make sure that voters from broad geographic regions are properly represented, but even within those regions, respondents might be less likely to be urban. In Nevada, some pollsters use “Clark County” as a region, which includes the city of Las Vegas, its surrounding suburbs and thousands of square miles of desert occasionally punctuated by a small town. Population density, Mr. Keeter said, could be a “killer” to any poll that doesn’t compensate for it.
Even when pollsters do try to use the right weights, it may not be enough.
One problem is that the targets for weighting lag behind demographic change. Most polls sponsored by the news media weight their samples using products from the Census Bureau, like the decennial census or the American Community Survey. The catch is that many of these are a few years out of date. As a result, polls are typically weighted to reflect the slightly whiter America of a few years ago, rather than the America of today.
Louisiana Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu said Thursday that the issue of race is a major reason that President Barack Obama has struggled politically in Southern states.
“I’ll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans,” Landrieu told NBC News in an interview. “It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”
Noting that the South is “more of a conservative place,” she added that women have also faced challenges in “presenting ourselves.”
The comment prompted a fiery response from Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, who called it “remarkably divisive.”
“She appears to be living in a different century,” he said in a statement. “Implied in her comments is the clear suggestion that President Obama and his policies are unpopular in Louisiana because of his ethnicity. That is a major insult by Senator Landrieu to the people of Louisiana and I flatly reject it.”
Really. Does Bobby Jindal really think that the reason he feels the need to lighten his skin in portraits, changes his given name and his religion to something more “American” sounding, just something he felt like doing? Louisiana Bloogger Lamar White reminds our Governor of some few facts:
Mary Landrieu says, “The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans,” and the rightwing goes apoplectic. Bobby Jindal accuses her of being “remarkably divisive.”
Here’s a quick recap:
1. 250 years of slavery
2. The Civil War
3. White-only primaries
4. Jim Crow laws
6. Anti-miscegenation laws
7. The Ku Klux Klan
8. David Duke
9. Generations of codified employment, educational, and housing discrimination
Louisiana hasn’t elected an African-American to a statewide office since Reconstruction, even though they comprise more than a third of the population.
Louisiana is the prison capital of the world, and the overwhelming majority of our prison population is African-American. There are 5400 inmates in Orleans Parish; 400 of them are white.
It astounds me that a politician can’t even say that “the South hasn’t always been the friendliest place for African-Americans” or make the suggestion that maybe, just maybe this is one of the reasons the nation’s first African-American President has never been popular without Republicans acting as if she’s calling every white person a racist.
We really need to grow up. We need to be honest about our history and honest about the enduring ugliness of racism.
Twenty years ago, the leading Republican candidate for Louisiana Governor was the former Grand Wizard of the KKK. The past is sometimes more present than you think.
“Sometimes I do vote against the president — contrary to what these two say — because I do whatever it takes to deliver for the people of Louisiana,” Landrieu said.
Meanwhile, Cassidy connected nearly every major issue facing the nation to the the president’s Affordable Care Act, trying to sell to voters that Landrieu is as much to blame for the direction of the country as Obama.
He blamed the ACA for killing jobs and hurting the economy. If a government agency is struggling financially, Cassidy said it’s because Obama and Landrieu took money from them to pay for the health care reform.
“Is six more years of the same policy going to bring [people] to a better life? If you think so, vote for Sen. Landrieu. If you want a senator that’s going to stand up to Barack Obama and not vote with him 97 percent of the time…vote Bill Cassidy,” Cassidy said.
Maness also hammered away at Landrieu — and to a much lesser extent Cassidy — as he touted his position as the conservative, anti-Washington insider.
As a retired colonel, he leaned heavily on his military experience in the Air Force while calling for change in Washington, a tighter grip on the treasury’s purse strings and “ripping out Obamacare by the roots.”
“What these two represent is hyper partisanism,” Maness said.
Landrieu argued she was the better choice to represent groups like women, students and the elderly. She criticized Cassidy for not supporting her efforts to reduce student loan debt and for wanting to raise the retirement age to 70.
“You expect them to work their whole life, pay into a system and get nothing back? I will never vote for a raise in the age,” Landrieu said.
Cassidy said his plan wouldn’t have an immediate impact on people approaching retirement while solving a Social Security program headed for bankruptcy.
“The difference between us is her way doesn’t work. The actuaries say it doesn’t work,” Cassidy said.
Maness wouldn’t give a solution. Instead he called for people to work together and search for an acceptable solution that both sides can live with.
Old controversies also surfaced during the debate. For Landrieu, it was her campaign charter flights paid for with Senate funds. For Cassidy, it was his refusal to debate in all of the scheduled debates.
Landrieu said she returned the money to the treasury and took responsibility for her mistake. Cassidy said he didn’t need five debates to remind people Landrieu voted for the ACA.
The candidates also discussed border security. Landrieu talked about her efforts to beef up the number of security officers and provide extra funding for a smart fence and the Coast Guard. Cassidy and Maness said the border might not ever be secured as long as Obama and Democrats controlled the Senate.
Cassidy and Maness also used Ebola as another example of where the president — and in their minds Landrieu — had failed to protect the nation. Landrieu said she supports a 21-day quarantine, which is contrary to the president’s position.
They also discussed the Islamic militant group ISIS. Landrieu said she supports airstrikes and is open to boots on the ground, but is hesitant to use foot soldiers. Cassidy and Maness said the president has failed in handling the situation. Maness criticized both for not returning to Washington to authorize a strategy.
Yes, despite the fact we are a major resource for medical research on tropical and highly communicative diseases, no republican politician is leaving the Ebola panic stone unturned. Bobby Jindal–supposed health policy authority–has joined the hysteria in call for doctors who are experts in the field to ignore the premier infectious, Tropical diseases to not come to their major conference in New Orleans if they’ve been any where near any of the Ebola-infected nations. Is this even legal?
The Jindal administration is telling scientists and medical experts who have recently dealt with the Ebola virus to stay away from a national conference that starts Sunday in New Orleans.
The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, which is staging the conference for more than 3,500 people from nearly 100 countries, is urging compliance by its members but criticizing the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
“While the state of Louisiana’s policies are outside of the scientific understanding of Ebola transmission — and acknowledged by the state health officials’ own admission, we recognize that the state has determined its policy in this matter. ASTMH does not agree with the policy,” the society said. “These heroes are serving the global good by working in West Africa to end this outbreak and prevent additional death and suffering. The society firmly believes that policies that hinder the work of health care workers are ineffective and counterproductive.”
The group’s leadership volunteered to reimburse the registration fees of members who stay away.
State officials sent a letter to members of the society “disinviting” those who have been to the West African countries impacted by the deadly virus in the last three weeks or who have treated any patients on American soil. The state public health advisory bans people who have traveled to one of the Ebola-stricken countries or cared for people with the virus in the past 21 days from using public transportation or joining large groups. “That’s what the Department of Health and Hospitals felt is the best way to protect our citizens,” state Medical Director Dr. Jimmy Guidry said.
The public health advisory is the latest in Jindal administration edicts taken in the wake of the first U.S. death from Ebola — a Liberian national who died at a Dallas hospital.
Guidry said there is no way to know who and how many of the conference registrants fit the banned-from-attendance list. “The organization could not give us that information,” he said.
He said the state is trusting the medical professionals, many of whom specialize in infectious diseases, to do the right thing because “they know the risk.”
“I’m telling them the best thing is to come after 21 days to avoid this many people getting together with folks exposed,” Guidry said.
The incubation period from Ebola infection to onset of symptoms is two to 21 days. Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms.
First symptoms include fever, muscle pain, headache and sore throat followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and, in some cases, both internal and external bleeding, according to the World Health Organization.
The 63rd annual meeting begins Sunday with an opening address by the co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, and continues through Thursday. The group’s website describes it as “the premier forum for exchange of scientific advances in tropical medicine and global health.”
An email letter from society leadership to conference registrants notes that the state mandate exceeds recent federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for “low asymptomatic individuals” who have recently been in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
“We regret that some of our attendees may be affected by the state’s travel advisory, and we request your cooperation with the policy,” they wrote, adding that states have legal rights and responsibilities to set their own public health policy “to meet perceived local public health needs and concerns.”
Ebola is considered a tropical disease because it thrives in warm and wet conditions. Some of the conference registrants are Ebola specialists, and two symposiums are scheduled on the subject.
I am so freaking embarrassed to be represented by such morons as a citizen of Louisiana. Elected Republicans are a freaking menace to civilization! This is the man that said they should not be “the party of stupid”? It seems he’s leading the pack of them!
But Jindal, eyeing a 2016 bid for president, has completely abandoned his anti-”stupid party” crusade, desperately doing all he can to burnish his Know-Nothing credentials.
Some of the latest evidence emerged Wednesday, when his administration issued a letter asking Ebola researchers who had recently traveled to afflicted west Africans not to attend an upcoming conference of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in New Orleans. Experts have condemned such sweeping bans as not based in science, noting additionally that travel bans and other restrictive measures targeting health workers and researchers may well discourage other professionals from traveling to Ebola-stricken countries. But Republicans, happy to demagogue the Ebola issue ahead of the forthcoming midterms, have little interest in the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and public health advocates. And Jindal is happy to join in.
The same day Jindal’s administration told Ebola researchers to keep away, the governor was in Kentucky, rallying support for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The same guy who lamented that his party was “simply being the anti-Obama party” tore into the president with an ad hominem attack, impugning Obama’s intelligence and suggesting that he should recoup his tuition fees from Harvard.
“There’s actually one lawsuit I’m happy to endorse. You see we have gotten so used to saying we have a constitutional scholar in the White House, we’ve gotten so used to saying we have a smart man as president. But I’m beginning to wonder if that’s really true,” Jindal said.
“I’m beginning to wonder what did he really learn in three years at Harvard Law School,” he continued. “The lawsuit I’m willing to endorse? I think he should sue Harvard Law School to get his tuition money back. I don’t think he learned a darned thing while he was there.”
Perhaps Jindal should team up with conservative carnival barker Donald Trump and demand that the president release his academic transcripts.
Jindal’s latest forays into right-wing rhetorical red meat come on the heels of other public statements that put the lie to his self-fancied image as the GOP’s ideas man. He was among the first conservatives to rush to the defense of homophobic “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson, alleging Robertson’s critics were engaged in a “war on religion” and suggesting that pushback against anti-gay remarks somehow threatened free speech. Meanwhile, the Brown University biology major and Rhodes Scholar won’t say if he accepts the theory of evolution or climate science, putting him to the right of the pope on those issues.
So Bobby Jindal, recognizing that thought and ideas are anathema to the contemporary GOP base, no longer has any interest in eradicating the stupid from the stupid party. Instead, he’s angling to become its leader — once he’s gained a little more weight.
I will try to get some pictures Saturday and maybe some “live” blog comments of Hilary’s Speech for Mary. Meanwhile GOTV for sanity!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I have to admit to being really tired of a number of things. Last night, I was regaled with yet another anti-Muslim trope. This time it was about Muslim nurses refusing to wash their hands and you know, EBOLA! Several people jumped right on it even though right below was a Snopes piece clearly debunking the lie. Oh, and this was from those so-called Hillary Clinton supporters from back in the day. Some folks will pounce on any old piece of shined up shit.
Nothing quite characterizes this election year as way the so many Americans with short attention spans bounce around the Political Pin Ball table after the latest “shiny object”. They just panic then move to the next thing before finding out how wrong they are about so many things. What should they blame on Obama next? What should they pearl clutch about? Muslims? Ebola? Benghazi! Resurgent Communists?
The short-attention span generation has birthed the shiny-object election.
The theme of the 2014 midterms — to whatever extent one is discernable — has been an explosion of one crisis after another, each of which demands an enormous amount of media attention before fading for the next one.
From the Secret Service to ISIS, Ebola to immigration, mistreated veterans to Ferguson and race relations, candidates and the president have been forced to react to the controversy du jour.
Strategists and experts say the result has been bad news for Democrats, who have had a tougher time underscoring their preferred campaign messages on their party’s support for women and the middle class.
Instead, each shiny object captivating a media that craves the hottest story has helped Republicans making the elections for the House and Senate all about President Obama.
“Every time there is a major issue — or as were now referring to everything, crisis — it seems to reverberate on Obama,” said Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. “It plays into what was already a sour political mood and compounds it.”
Crisis management has forced the White House to name new czars, fire political appointees and drop bombs, even as Republicans point to missteps as signs of Obama’s weak leadership and the government’s lack of competency.
Vulnerable Democrats are put in the unenviable position of either backing the president or lobbing criticism at their party’s leader.
“It totally threw the Democratic game plan off,” said Princeton University political historian Julian Zelizer. “They wanted to focus on the economic recovery, Republican extremism, and it’s hard for candidates to speak about that with these issues coming up.”
Democratic strategists say that their candidates would have been better able to account for crises if they had done a better job organizing around a cohesive message earlier in the campaign.
Jamal Simmons, a veteran Democratic aide, said politicians never “get to choose what the public thinks is important so they must hit the balls that come their way.”
“What makes this cycle seem especially dominated by errant issues is the lack of policy proposals or substantive messages about agendas coming from either side,” he argued. “In campaigns about nothing, election debates tend to be dominated by anything.”
There’s also been a shift in media, with even the 24-hour news cycle appearing dated in the era of the internet and social media.
“Part of what’s going on is the way the media works,” Zelizer said. “It’s not necessarily that there’s more issues, it’s the quick attention span media cycle where we move from one crisis to another.”
Nothing says “look, shiny objects!” like anything on CNN. Candy Crowley actually thought the two heads of the ruling parties could rationally discuss issues pertinent to the U.S. vote. Alas! Too many shiny objects in such a short time!
A CNN “State Of The Union” debate on the midterm elections between Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus and Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) quickly devolved into complete chaos on Sunday.
Host Candy Crowley first asked Priebus if this election is about scaring voters into voting a certain way. And when he responded with a line about President Obama’s policies being on the ballot, Crowley asked Wasserman-Schultz if that was true.
As the DNC chair responded, Priebus jumped in to insist that Wasserman-Schultz answer the question about Obama’s policies.
After Crowley asked another question, the two chairs quickly started talking over each other again, discussing completely different topics.
“This is ridiculous,” Priebus noted.
Crowley then asked Wasserman-Schultz again whether Obama’s policies are on the ballot, and Priebus jumped in once more.
“Are they the president’s policies or not? Are the president’s policies on the ballot or not?” Priebus echoed.
“Reince, maybe you could let Candy ask me the questions rather than you,” Wasserman-Schultz retorted.
“She’s been doing a great job of it so far — you haven’t been answering them, though,” Priebus hit back.
The two party chairs continued to interrupt each other and bring up new topics for the rest of the debate.
C0ntrol of the U.S. Senate is coming down to the wire, with Democrats and Republicans locked in tight races in the key contests that will determine the majority in that chamber of Congress, according to six new NBC News/Marist polls.
The momentum in these races, however, has swung mostly in the Republican Party’s direction, giving the GOP a clear path to winning the majority.
- In Colorado’s Senate contest, Republican challenger Cory Gardner holds a one-point lead among likely voters over incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., 46 percent to 45 percent. Back in September’s NBC/Marist poll, Udall was ahead by six points, 48 percent to 42 percent.
- In Iowa, Republican Joni Ernst edges Democrat Bruce Braley by three points, 49 percent to 46 percent. Earlier this month, Ernst’s lead was two points, 46 percent to 44 percent.
- In Kansas, independent Greg Orman has a one-point advantage over Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, 45 percent to 44 percent – down from Orman’s 10-point lead earlier this month in the NBC/Marist poll.
- In Arkansas, Republican challenger Tom Cotton gets the support of 45 percent of likely voters, versus incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., at 43 percent. In September, Cotton’s lead was five points.
- And in North Carolina, incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and GOP opponent Thom Tillis are tied at 43 percent each. That’s down from Hagan’s four-point lead earlier this month. Libertarian Sean Haugh gets 7 percent of the vote.
“Senate contests are coming down to the wire,” says pollster Barbara Carvalho of Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion. “ In a reversal from 2012, when there were multiple paths for [President] Obama, now the Democrats are struggling to protect their firewall in Iowa, North Carolina and Colorado.”
All five of these races are within the polls’ margins of error. The lone exception is the NBC/Marist poll of South Dakota, where Republican Mike Rounds enjoys a 14-point lead over Democrat Rick Weiland, 43 percent to 29 percent, while independent Larry Pressler, a former Republican senator, gets 16 percent. To win control of the Senate, Republicans must gain a net of six seats. Two pick-up opportunities – in Montana and West Virginia – appear to be slam dunks for the GOP. And South Dakota, per the NBC/Marist poll, looks to be a safe bet for a third.
That means Republicans need to win three out of these seven other Democrat-held seats to get to a majority: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, New Hampshire and North Carolina.
But if Democrats win a GOP-held seat – say Georgia – or if Orman decides to caucus with Democrats, that means Republicans must win an additional seat (or two) to net six Senate seats.
The truth, though, is that the most-hyped threats are often not actually that threatening to Americans, while larger dangers go mostly ignored. That should tell you something about how our political system and media can distort threats, leading Americans to overreact to minor dangers while ignoring the big, challenging, divisive problems — like climate change — that we should actually be worried about.
Obsessing about possible threats is something of a beloved national past-time here in America, which is objectively one of the safest places on Earth, so we want to help you do it right. Here, then, is a highly un-scientific and incomplete ranking of threats to the United States — sorted by the current danger to Americans, worst-case danger to Americans, and how freaked out you should be.
We’re a lot more likely to have our lives impacted by heart disease, cancer, or gun violence than Ebola or ISIS, so why do so many people follow the imaged threat over the real?
Danger to Americans: Guns kill more than 30,000 Americans every year, about as many deaths as caused by motor vehicles. But only about one in three of those deaths is a homicide. A few thousand are from accidents but most are due to suicide.
Worst-case scenario: We have already chosen to live in a society with the world’s highest gun ownership rate and some of its loosest gun control laws, so the worst-case scenario is pretty much here. Still, gun deaths per year are on the rise.
How freaked out should you be: It all depends on whether you see America’s uniquely permissive gun laws as worth the trade-off. But you — and, yes, your children — are at risk, regardless of your views about gun regulations.
White House officials warned the governors of New York and New Jersey of the “unintended consequences” of quarantining all medical workers returning from west Africa, as a political crisis deepened on Sunday over how to counter public fears about the spread of Ebola in the US.
Amid a barrage of criticism from aid organisations, medical experts and the mayor of New York, the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, and his New York counterpart, Andrew Cuomo, staunchly defended their plans, which provide for the mandatory 21-day quarantine of anyone returning from west Africa after direct contact with people suffering from Ebola.
Kaci Hickox, a nurse who was detained in New Jersey despite testing negative for Ebola, described her treatment as “inhumane” and said she had been made to feel like a criminal.
The White House made it clear that it objected to the hurried introduction of “policies not grounded in science”.
The tougher rules were introduced hurriedly on Friday by Christie and Cuomo after it emerged that a New York doctor, Craig Spencer, had moved widely around the city in the days before he tested positive for Ebola.
Spencer, who worked for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, is now in isolation at Bellevue Hospital. Hickox was stopped at Newark airport in New Jersey just as the new rules were announced.
On Sunday evening Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, hit out strongly against her treatment. “The problem is this hero, having come back from the front, having done the right thing, was treated with disrespect, was treated with a sense that she had done something wrong when she hadn’t,” he said.
Speaking at a press conference at Bellevue, de Blasio added: “We respect the right of each governor to make decisions that they think are right for their people. But we have to think how we treat the people who are doing this noble work and we must show them respect and consideration at all times. And we owe [Hickox] better than that and all the people who do this work better than that.”
The White House indicated that it was urgently reviewing the federal guidelines for returning healthcare workers, “recognising that these medical professionals’ selfless efforts to fight this disease on the front lines will be critical to bringing this epidemic under control, the only way to eliminate the risk of additional cases here at home”.
“We have let the governors of New York, New Jersey, and others states know that we have concerns with the unintended consequences of policies not grounded in science may have on efforts to combat Ebola at its source in West Africa,” an administration official said.
The governors’ moves have created another political crisis for the Obama administration, which is already facing criticism of its handling of the Ebola crisis in the run up to the midterm elections.
Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, on Sunday became the highest-ranked administration official to officially comment on the crisis. She told NBC: “We need to make sure [returning healthcare workers] are treated like conquering heroes and not in any other way.”
Power, who was in Guinea’s capital Conakry on the first leg of a tour through the three West African nations hardest hit by the epidemic, said: “All of us need to make clear what these health workers mean to us and how much we value their services, how much we value their contribution.”
In New Jersey, Hickox, who returned from a stint working for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone, appointed a lawyer to free her and called her treatment “inhumane” and “poorly planned”.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Disease, said quarantining health workers could have the unintended consequence of stopping US aid workers from tackling the disease at its source in West Africa.
“There’s a big, big difference between completely confining somebody so that they can’t even get outside and doing the appropriate monitoring based on scientific evidence,” he said on CNN. “The harm is that it is totally disruptive of their life. We want them to go because they are helping us to protect America to be over there.”
Ebola cannot be transmitted until someone with the disease begins to display symptoms; even then it is only transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids.
A spokesman for Doctors Without Borders said a total of 52 people from the US have worked with the organisation in west Africa on the Ebola response since it began in March. The spokesman said 31 Americans were currently working in West Africa, with 20 due to return sometime in the next four weeks.
A spokesman for SIM, Palmer Holt, said the international missionary organisation had one American doctor in Liberia, “who is planning to return to the States soon, but if he has to undergo mandatory quarantine, he may not be able to do that, as his plan is to do a brief visit and then quickly return.”
Meanwhile, we can’t even get through the hysteria of this election season before some one starts going off the rails on the next one. The journalistic magpies are at it already.
In November’s Harper’smagazine, Doug Henwood, a longtime progressive economics writer, editor and publisher, takes a deep dive into Hill-and-Bill land and resoundingly bursts the bubble that’s now taking shape across America’s Democratic provinces.
His article, “Stop Hillary: Vote no to a Clinton Dynasty,” turns the notion that Hillary and the White House are an inevitable match made in heaven into a restive rejoinder filled with deflating details from the Clintons’ long careers in high offices.
“What Hillary will deliver, then, is more of the same. And that shouldn’t surprise us,” Henwood writes, saying the country would be far better served by anyone but Hillary the hawk, Hillary the centrist, Hillary the corporatist, and Hillary the appendage of Bill. “Today we desperately need a new political economy—one that features a more equal distribution of income, investment in our rotting social and physical infrastructure, and a more humane ethic. We also need a judicious foreign policy, and a commander-in-chief who will resist the instant gratification of air strikes and rhetorical bluster.”
“Is Hillary Clinton the answer to these prayers?” Henwood asks, then answering, “It’s hard to think so, despite the widespread liberal fantasy of her as a progressive paragon, who will follow through exactly as Barack Obama did not. In fact, a close look at her life and career is perhaps the best antidote to all these great expectations.”
Harper’s and Henwood, to their credit, are trying to jump ahead of the curve and answer the most obvious question looming in American politics. That question is not, as posters from her rallies pose, “Are we ready for Hillary?” According to Henwood, it’s more like, “Really, Hillary? Really?” as he offer readers an answer filled with details we thought we had forgotten.
Some days it just doesn’t pay to look at the news. I’m feeling it’s going to be a long November.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?