GOP

Warren: ‘The Game Is Rigged, And The Republicans Rigged It’

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AP Photo / Brennan Linsley

I doubt that Hillary Clinton would ever say the above and Sen. Warren didn’t go far enough.  The entire GOP machine is rigged, IMHO.

TPM LiveWire

Warren told the crowd that she would fight against the banks that oppose her legislation that would allow students to refinance their student loans.

“We’re coming after them,” she said.

Republicans want you scared of ISIS. Democrats want you scared of the GOP.

Don't let fear dictate your vote.

Don’t let fear dictate your vote. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Week

But in truth, we have nothing to fear but fear itself

Fear is a powerful emotion. It’s not a great guide when you’re making a decision, but in an election year like 2014 — in which the main voter sentiments seem to be disenchantment and disgust — politicians apparently think it’s their best bet. Republican campaign ads and debate talking points aren’t all that subtle on this point. Democrats are only a little more indirect.

“Republicans believe they have found the sentiment that will tie congressional races together with a single national theme,” says Jeremy W. Peters at The New York Times. The theme is that things are really bad right now — Ebola, ISIS, even years worth of mishaps at the Secret Service — and that it’s mostly President Obama’s fault. And since Obama isn’t on the ballot, all Democrats running for Congress are Obama’s “lieutenants,” as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus explained to The New York Times.

The Democrats’ big perceived soft spot is ISIS. Congress — after quickly and bipartisanly agreeing to Obama’s request for money to train anti-ISIS Syrian fighters — opted to go home and campaign rather than to debate what, if anything, Obama should be doing differently in Iraq and Syria. But the long-term plan Obama laid out to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS without U.S. ground troops hasn’t stopped ISIS from gaining some new territory, so Republicans are calling it a dangerous failure.

“ISIS is just one of the things leading to a crisis mentality among voters,” Joe Pounder, president of the GOP opposition-research company America Rising LLC, tells The Daily Beast‘s Josh Rogin. “And when you don’t have much new in the way of the economy going on, this is the new issue.”

This isn’t a dumb strategy on the GOP’s part. The American electorate cares about ISIS. “The situation with Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria” was voters’ No. 4 concern in a Gallup analysisreleased Monday, with 78 percent saying it is extremely or very important to their vote — and voters trust Republicans more than Democrats to deal with the situation. Tellingly, ISIS was the No. 2 issue for Republican respondents, with 85 percent calling it really important to their vote.

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday, Obama’s approval rating on ISIS had plunged 15 percentage points in two weeks, to 35 percent; 51 percent disapproved.

The Republicans don’t have to have a better plan, or really any plan, to dispatch ISIS — if they disagree with Obama about anything, it’s mostly to plug sending in U.S. ground troops, hardly a popular suggestion. They just need to not control the White House.

Presidents normally want to exude sunny optimism on their watch, with varying degrees of success. But in a pinch, the party in power will be happy to paint the other side as dangerous and slightly unhinged.

Democrats can read polls, too, of course. They want you to be afraid of Republicans — or at least they want dispirited and unenthusiastic Democrats to be afraid enough that they’ll vote. In the ABC News/Washington Post poll, for example, Democrats actually lead Republicans in voter preference for House races, 46 percent to 44 percent — but Republicans take a 50 percent to 43 percent lead when it comes to likely voters.

Republicans are less popular nationally than Democrats — 33 percent favorability to 39 percent, per ABC News/Washington Post — and Democrats would like this to be an election about the minority party. It usually doesn’t work that way.

To get Democrats worried or angry enough to vote, Democrats are focusing on the points where voters in general, and Democrats in particular, rate the GOP poorly. In the latest Gallup poll, the Democrats’ No. 2 issue is equal pay for women, which 87 percent of Democrats say is extremely or very important to their vote. Abortion and contraception access is the No. 12 concern for Democrats, but 60 percent of them still call the issue very important (versus 43 percent of Republicans). Democratic ads and talking points reflect those priorities.

But in the favorite words of a man many American politicians cite as their hero: Don’t be afraid. It’s a lousy way to live, and a terrible basis for voting. If you’re afraid, there’s a good chance somebody is trying to pull your strings.

You’re almost certainly not going to get Ebola or even personally know anyone who does. ISIS isn’t going to invade across America’s southern border (which is much more guarded that it was in 2001). Republicans won’t win enough seats to get anything done — at least not for two years. If they win the Senate, we’ll probably get deeper gridlock, which should feel pretty familiar about now.

Fear is also pretty good for the news media. But on Wednesday, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith went a little off-script. “Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio and the television, or read the fear-provoking words online,” he said of Ebola. “You have to remember,” he adds — going “big picture” — “that there is politics in the mix.”

With midterm elections coming, the party in charge needs to appear to be effectively leading. The party out of power needs to show that there is a lack of leadership. So the president has canceled a fundraising trip and is holding meetings, and his political opponents are accusing his administration of poor leadership. For the purpose of this fact-dissemination exercise, those matters are immaterial. [Fox News]


He could be discussing just about any big issue of this election.

By all means, vote on Nov. 4 (or earlier, if applicable). There are big policy issues at stake, as well as judicial appointments and other things that may very well have a real impact on your life. But vote for the party or candidate whose ideas you think are better, not the one that scares you the least.

NIH director: Budget cuts delayed Ebola vaccine, treatment

Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) | attribution: Information Technology Innovation Foundation/Flick

For all those followers of the scare-mongering GOP, let this sink in for a minute or two…

Daily Kos

Here are the results of austerity, and of a Republican Party hell-bent on proving government can’t work by starving it. From Dr. Francis Collins, head of the National Institute of Health:

“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”It’s not just the production of a vaccine that has been hampered by money shortfalls. Collins also said that some therapeutics to fight Ebola “were on a slower track than would’ve been ideal, or that would have happened if we had been on a stable research support trajectory.”

“We would have been a year or two ahead of where we are, which would have made all the difference,” he said.

Funding for the NIH since 2004 has been stagnant; $28.03 billion in FY2004, and $29.31 billion last year. That represents a 23 percent loss of purchasing power. The funding gap is even more disturbing for the agency within the NIH that deals most directly with infectious diseases, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, which has been slashed in the past decade from $4.3 billion to $4.25 billion. As Collins said, it’s not as if the research community in the U.S. didn’t know Ebola was the massive infectious disease crisis that it is—it’s been hobbled by Republicans indiscriminately slashing budgets to try to get more tax cuts to the rich.

There is no private investment in finding an Ebola vaccine, so it’s got to come from government. That could still be a couple of years away. That’s on the prevention side, but the funding cuts have hurt on the therapeutic side, as well. Collins says, that while there’s a drug cocktail that’s so far proving promising for treatment, it hasn’t been fully tested and there just isn’t enough of it, again thanks to budget cuts. “Had it not been for other shortages, we might very well by now know that it works and have a large stock of it,” he told Huffington Post.

Voting by mail is convenient, easy, and defeats the best of the GOP’s voter suppression efforts. Sign up here to check eligibility and vote by mail, then get your friends, family, and coworkers to sign up as well.

The Republican stranglehold on the budget has to end.

An ‘Utterly Exasperated’ Mike Huckabee Threatens To Leave The GOP Over Gay Marriage

Two words for the thoroughly exasperated former Governor:  Buh Byeee!

Right Wing Watch

This morning’s broadcast of the American Family Association’s “Today’s Issues”program was dedicated to promoting the AFA’s “A Time to Speak” documentary, which is aimed at getting pastors to mobilize their congregations to vote in the upcoming elections.

One guest on the program was Mike Huckabee, who began his interview by threatening to leave the Republican Party if the GOP does not take a stand against the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday not to hear appeals of lower court rulings striking down gay marriage bans in several states.

Incensed by the decision, Huckabee declared that “I am utterly exasperated with Republicans and the so-called leadership of the Republicans who have abdicated on this issue,” warning that by doing so the GOP will “guarantee they’re going to lose every election in the future.”

“Guarantee it,” he said before proclaiming that the Republicans are going to “lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing, Bible-believing people” if the party does not stand and fight on the issues of gay marriage and abortion.

“I’m gone,” Huckabee warned. “I’ll become an independent. I’ll start finding people that have guts to stand. I’m tired of this”…

NY Post Mocks Chelsea Clinton’s Baby. No, Really.

I didn’t want to post this at first.  Then I thought, wait a minute, these people are batshit crazy!  This is the mindset that wants the GOP to retain its majority in the House and take over the Senate. OMG!

The Huffington Post

new york post

New York Post – Great job Ruppert Murdock, owner of this rag…

 

Republicans Deploy The Buffoon Squad Of Rick Perry and Sarah Palin To Save Kansas For The GOP

Half-term former Gov of Alaska: Sarah Palin and Tx. Gov. Rick Perry | no attribution

The title says it all…

Politicus USA

Yeah, this will help. With Republicans losing both the governor and Senate races in Kansas, the GOP is deploying the dream duo of Rick Perry and Sarah Palin to the state to help their sinking candidates.

According to The New York Times, hillbilly brawler Sarah Palin is heading to Kansas to help sinking Senate incumbent Pat Roberts, “Roberts is flying in a motley crew of GOP surrogates — including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush — to stir suspicions about Orman and convince voters that a GOP majority hinges on Roberts’s reelection.”

Meanwhile, the flatlining gubernatorial campaign of Gov. Sam Brownback is looking for a boost from indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry, “Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be in Wichita on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. rally at the Republican Party headquarters followed by two private receptions for donors.”

The only way this would make sense is if Republicans thought that the problem with Kansas was that it wasn’t conservative enough. But the very reason Republicans find themselves in jeopardy of losing Pat Roberts’ Senate seat to an Independent is precisely because Governor Brownback purged moderate Republicans from the state legislature 2012.

Those moderates want their state back. They are siding with the moderate/sane people. They are against extremists. Clearly this rules out secessionist cheering Rick Perry and Sarah Palin. Sending Perry and Palin into Kansas as fixers is the equivalence of a white flag surrender.

Yes, Perry and Palin can whip up some frothing hatred, misunderstanding of government and a dazzling ability to con voters into ignoring their own self interest, but Perry and Palin are political failures as politicians. Perry has been indicted and Palin had to quit her “job” as governor after blatantly lying about being found guilty of abusing her power on the trail.

Hate President Obama and think he should be impeached for daring to act as President even though he was elected in a landslide? Perry and Palin are your peeps. Too ignorant to understand just how ignorant these two are? Perfect GOP voter. Need to save your party due to the influence of Republicans like Perry and Palin? Don’t send Perry and Palin to fix that.

Only in the Republican Party could being one of the least popular politicians and being indicted be a bonus. If this sentence is not enough to give Republicans pause, they are never going to fix their national branding issues.

Psst, GOP: When the best solution to your problem — any problem — is Rick Perry or Sarah Palin, you have bigger problems than you know.

Immigration is still a huge problem for Republicans

The Washington Post – Greg Sargent

A new narrative seems to be taking hold: Obama’s delay of executive action on deportations — and the backlash it has sparked from enraged advocates — shows the politics of immigration are now perilous for Democrats. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, claims that it shows immigration is a “toxic” issue for Dems as well as Republicans.

That’s true in the short term, but the big picture matters more. And that big picture is this: If Obama does something reasonably ambitious on deportations after the elections, it will very likely restore the larger political dynamic that has been taking shape all year, in which Republicans continue to solidify their image as hostile and unwelcoming to Latinos and Democrats continue to establish theirs as the pro-immigration party.

As I’ve detailed here, Senate Democrats decided, for a range of reasons, that any action on deportations now could imperil their already-tenuous chances of holding the Senate. But the flip-side of this is that after the elections are over, all of the political incentives for Democrats will be flowing in the opposite direction — that is, Dems will stand to benefit politically across the board from ambitious executive action.

There are a number of reasons for this. Democrats have an interest in seeing this happen just before the GOP presidential primary, because it makes it more likely the GOP candidates will out-demagogue one another in calling for Obama’s protections from deportation for millions to be rolled back, pulling the GOP field to the right of Mitt Romney’s “self deportation” stance in 2012. Beyond the debate over the propriety of executive action, Republicans continue to deepen their opposition to theenforcement priorities underlying Obama’s coming action — they haveboxed themselves into a place where they are inescapably calling for enforcement resources to be directed back towards maximizing the deportation of low-level offenders with longtime ties to communities.

What’s more, even as Republicans cling to increasingly toxic positions among Latinos, Dems would presumably stand to benefit in the 2016 general election if the Democratic Party reestablishes — and strengthens — its bond with Latinos, which ambitious executive action would do. Also, asCook Political Report’s Jennifer Duffy has noted, some of the 2016 DemSenate candidates will be running in states with increasing Latino vote shares, amid a presidential year electorate. They too might benefit from action, which conceivably could help Dems increase their majority or recapture it if they lose it this year.

It’s still unclear how far-reaching Obama’s action — which will presumably depend on what the administration determines is legally possible — will turn out to be. But unlike now, the political incentives will all point in the direction of doing something ambitious. Indeed, I suspect one reason advocates are beating the heck out of Obama over his delay right now is to raise the price of reestablishing good relations with activists and Latinos, on the understanding that the President will see that so doing carries great political rewards over the long term. Some advocates fear that if Republicans take the Senate, Obama may punt once again. But it’s also quite possible, given that the political incentives favor “going big” no matter who controls the Senate, that advocates may get their way soon enough.

None of this is to minimize the current anger advocates feel about Obama’s delay. The White House did mishandle the issue by promising action at the end of the summer (though Senate Dems did hamstring Obama by also suggesting the President follow a timetable). The human toll of the delaywill be far-reaching and very real.

However, this issue may end up unfolding just as the gay rights debate did. Gay advocates were deeply frustrated for years with Obama, particularly over his slow evolution on gay marriage. But Obama ended up compiling a very good record on gay civil rights. The result: Gay rights is one of many issues where the Democratic Party has continued to reshape itself around the cultural priorities of an emerging coalition that is giving it a built-in advantage in national elections. As Ron Brownstein has explained:

Combined, these confrontations are stamping the GOP as what I’ve called a “Coalition of Restoration” primarily representing older, white, religiously devout, and nonurban voters who fear that hurtling change is undermining traditional American values. Democrats in turn are championing a younger, more urbanized, diverse, and secular “Coalition of Transformation” that welcomes the evolution in America’s racial composition and cultural mores.

As Obama struggles through his second term, it’s clear one of his signal legacies will be cementing the Democrats’ connection with that coalition’s cultural priorities. It’s easy to imagine Hillary Clinton or another future Democratic presidential nominee offering more centrist fiscal or foreign policies than Obama. But on cultural issues Obama has led his party across a Rubicon…The party’s deepening embrace of cultural liberalism may make it tougher for it to hold some red-state House and Senate seats, but is improving its position with the cosmopolitan states and growing demographic groups that key its presidential majority.

If Obama’s actions on deportations is reasonably ambitious, it seems likely that this broader dynamic will remain in force when it comes to immigration and Latinos, too — whatever current political problems Democrats have run into right now.

GOP’s Obamacare Nightmare Is Coming True: It’s Working

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AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster

TPMDC

The politics of the health care law have undergone a sea change since its disastrous rollout last fall, when many conservative operatives were salivating at the prospect of a GOP wave in the midterm elections due to an Obamacare “train wreck.”

But the train never wrecked. The law rebounded, surpassing its signups goal and withstanding a flurry of attacks. The issue seems to have mostly lost its power as a weapon against Democrats, and a growing number of Republican governors — even in conservative states — are warming to a core component of Obamacare, the Medicaid expansion.

To get a sense of why this is worrying for Republicans in the long run, look no further than conservative strategist Bill Kristol’s 1993 memo — “Defeating President Clinton’s Health Care Proposal” — warning that reform would paint Democrats as “the generous protector of middle-class interests” and strike a “punishing blow” to the GOP’s anti-government ideology.

“But the long-term political effects of a successful Clinton health care bill will be even worse — much worse. It will relegitimize middle-class dependence for ‘security’ on government spending and regulation. It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests. And it will at the same time strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government,” Kristol wrote.

In other words, the real fear back then was that health care reform would succeed.

Two decades later, Kristol’s prophecy is haunting Republicans. Obamacare has provided a lifeline by providing coverage to 8 million people on the exchanges, 7 million under Medicaid expansion and 5 million who bought insurance outside the exchanges but benefit from new regulations like the coverage guarantee for individuals with preexisting conditions. Even Republicans in deeply conservative states are suggesting that the popular new benefits cannot be taken away, even if the Obamacare brand still struggles.

The shift has been crystallized in contentious Senate races this fall. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently signaled that Kentuckians benefiting from the state’sObamacare exchange and Medicaid expansion should be able to keep their coverage. Senate GOP candidates Joni Ernst of Iowa, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Scott Brown of New Hampshire and Terri Lynn Land of Michigan have all refused to call for rolling back Medicaid expansion in their states. The number of television ads attacking the law have plummeted in key battleground states since April, and now even vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas is touting his vote for protecting Americans with preexisting conditions under Obamacare.

But even if the Obamacare attacks are fading, Republicans remain poised to make gains in the midterms due to a variety of structural advantages. They continue to oppose Obamacare as a whole, and point out that Americans still react negatively when asked about the law.

“Ensuring that people with preexisting conditions have access to coverage has long been a popular policy, and one where there is bipartisan agreement. It’s the the entirety of ObamaCare that remains EXTREMELY unpopular,” Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, told TPM in an email.

Conservative health-policy experts have argued that Obamacare cannot be repealed without a viable alternative to fix broken parts of the system, but Republicans have failed to come up with one that the party can unite behind.

These are signs that Obamacare is weaving into the fabric of American culture and that the dream of repealing or unwinding it is fading. The massive health care industry is adapting to the post-Obamacare world and fears of double-digit hikes in premiums are fading: early datasuggest the prices for benchmark “silver” plans in 2015 are poised to decline slightly.

“We don’t yet have data for all states, but from these 15 states plus DC I think we can start to see a pattern emerging,” Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in an email. “In general, changes in premiums for the low-cost plans in the marketplaces are quite modest, and actually decreasing in many places.”

Stability in premiums means “government costs for premium subsidies … are under control, which is good news for taxpayers,” Levitt said.

In the courts, an ongoing conservative lawsuit to cripple Obamacare suffered a major setbacklast week when a federal appeals court vacated a ruling that would have blocked subsidies in 36 states. Legal experts say the full court is likely to uphold the subsidies when a panel with a majority of Democratic-appointed judges re-hears the case.

For Democrats, the dream scenario was that Obamacare would eventually join Social Security and Medicare as an unassailable feature of the American safety net. Like those other major programs, Obamacare won’t be without its share of problems — cost uncertainties for automatically-renewed plans among them. But after more than 50 House votes to repeal or dismantle the law, few could have predicted that Republicans would start warming up to central pieces of the law within a year of its rollout.

(Photos by the Associated Press)

House Candidate Called Female Senators “Undeserving Bimbos in Tennis Shoes”

Hagedorn for Congress/Facebook

During the run up to the mid-term elections for 2010 some GOP candidates made so many controversial statements that they were simply deemed un-electable by most politcal analysts.  Their constituents felt the same .  They included Senate candidates Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and Joe Miller of Alaska.  All were sidelined because of public faux pas and simply not knowing enough about politics to get elected.

Looks like the 2014 mid-term races might have a few crazies as well…

Mother Jones

Statement was from Jim Hagedorn’s old blog, “Mr. Conservative,” is a ticking time bomb.

Republican congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn could face a major obstacle in his race to unseat Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz: conservative blogger Jim Hagedorn.

Hagedorn, the son of retired congressman Tom Hagedorn, was a surprise victor in last Tuesday’s GOP primary. But he brings some serious baggage to his race against Walz, a four-term incumbent. In posts from his old blog, Mr. Conservative, unearthed by the now-defunct Minnesota Independent, Hagedorn made light of American Indians, President Obama’s Kenyan ancestry, and female Supreme Court justices, among others, in ways many voters won’t appreciate.

Hagedorn deleted many of his old posts prior to his 2010 run for Walz’s seat—he lost in the GOP primary. But some of his writings can still be found via the Internet Archive or in screenshots taken by the Independent. These were not mere juvenile ramblings, either: Hagedorn was a Treasury Department official at the time.

“Turns out half-aunt Zeituni is an illegal alien from Kenya who has illegally contributed money to her half-nephew’s campaign, which should make Americans half-pi$$ed,” he wrote in a typical missive during the 2008 election cycle. “The migration from Barack Obama’s second country to the United States during the next four years is going to look like a low-budget remake of Eddie Murphy’s hit comedy ‘Coming to America.'”

Hagedorn also reveled in the type of gay innuendo you may have heard in high school courtyards in decades past. (Kids these days know better.) He referred to former Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl as an “alleged switch-hitter” and a “packer.” Former GOP candidate Mike Taylor, the target of a homophobic attack ad during his campaign against then-Sen. Max Baucus,came out even worse: “[T]he ad really bent Taylor over with rage and caused him to go straight to the bar and get lubricated,” Hagedorn wrote. “It must have taken all Taylor’s power to refrain from fisting…err…using his fists on Max Baucus, or at the very least ream him inside and out.”

In an entry on the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, which ruled that state bans on sodomy were unconstitutional, he wrote: “Butt (sic) never have winners lost so dearly. The Court’s voyage into uncharted, untreated cultural bathhouse waters was designed to offer a gentle push from behind…to generate a small skip forward for the pink triangle class…to throw them a bone, so to speak.”

Lest anyone challenge his bona fides, Hagedorn wanted to make abundantly clear he was a straight white male. “Senator McCain’s campaign was all but flat lined before he brought the feisty Caribou Barbie into our living rooms,” he wrote in 2008. “Which reminds me, on behalf of all red-blooded American men: THANK YOU SENATOR McCAIN, SARAH’S HOT!”

Not all female politicians were viewed as favorably. In a 2002 post, Hagedorn referred to Washington Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray as “undeserving bimbos in tennis shoes.” Former Bush White House counsel Harriet Miers, he wrote in 2005, had been nominated “to fill the bra of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.”

Writing about now-Sen. John Thune’s race against Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, Hagedorn turned his razor-sharp wit on America’s most coddled demographic—Native Americans. “The race has been highlighted by a Democrat drive to register voters in several of several of South Dakota’s expansive redistribution of wealth centers…err…casino parlors…err…Indian reservations. Remarkably, many of the voters registered for absentee ballots were found to be chiefs and squaws who had returned to the spirit world many moons ago.” Alleging that fake votes from Indians would provide the margin of victory, he echoed “John Wayne’s wisdom of the only good Indian being a dead Indian.”

Hagedorn may have been joking. (The quip’s real author, General Philip Sheridan, wasn’t.) But American Indians were a favorite punching bag over at Mr. Conservative. In that same post, he referred to Nevada as a land of “nuclear waste and thankless Indians.” What made the state’s Native American population thankless? Hagedorn didn’t say.

Democrats seized on some of the Mr. Conservativepostings during Hagedorn’s brief 2009 foray, prompting him to slip into damage control mode. “I understand that some of the folks on the left aren’t going to like what I write,” he told the Rochester Post-Bulletin. “I poke fun at everybody, including Republicans.”

Although Walz’s district went to Barack Obama by less than 2 points in 2012, the incumbent has faced a string of less-than-stellar opponents. Allen Quist, the GOP’s 2012 nominee, crafted a school science curriculum contending that humans coexisted with dinosaurs. Aaron Miller, the Iraq War vet who was picked to run against Walz at the district nominating convention but lost in the primary, stated that he was motivated to run for office because his daughter had been forced to learn evolution in public schools. And now Hagedorn.

It looks like Tim Walz might be staying in Washington a little bit longer.

KRUGMAN UNDRESSES THE GOP

Paul Krugman: California proves the GOP's "extremist ideology ... is nonsense"

Paul Krugman | (Credit: Reuters/Chip East)

Salon

The New York Times columnist explains how California’s success puts conservative dogma to shame

In his latest column for the New York Times, award-winning economist and best-selling author Paul Krugman argues that California’s recent success — and Kansas’ ongoing failure — is yet more proof that conservative anti-tax dogma “is nonsense.”

After citing Justice Brandeis’ famous claim that America’s states are laboratories for democracy, Krugman turns to compare and contrast California and Kansas, noting that while the former state has seen economic growth and a successful implementation of Obamacare, the latter has had a stagnant economy and a ballooning deficit.

Not incidentally, these states decided to take opposite approaches to economic policy, with California embracing “a modestly liberal agenda of higher taxes, spending increases and a rise in the minimum wage” while Kansas “went all-in on supply-side economics, slashing taxes on the affluent” only to see paltry growth and a darkening fiscal picture.

“If tax increases are causing a major flight of jobs from California, you can’t see it in the job numbers,” Krugman writes. “Employment is up 3.6 percent in the past 18 months, compared with a national average of 2.8 percent; at this point, California’s share of national employment, which was hit hard by the bursting of the state’s enormous housing bubble, is back to pre-recession levels.”

Does Krugman expect the California example to change conservatives’ minds? Hardly. “Has there been any soul-searching among the prophets of California doom, asking why they were so wrong?” he asks. “Not that I’m aware of. Instead, I’ve been seeing many attempts to devalue the good news from California by pointing out that the state’s job growth still lags that of Texas, which is true, and claiming that this difference is driven by differential tax rates, which isn’t.”

Krugman then explains why Texas and California diverge — and how it’s not for the reasons right-wingers think:

For the big difference between the two states, aside from the size of the oil and gas sector, isn’t tax rates. it’s housing prices. Despite the bursting of the bubble, home values in California are still double the national average, while in Texas they’re 30 percent below that average. So a lot more people are moving to Texas even though wages and productivity are lower than they are in California.

And while some of this difference in housing prices reflects geography and population density — Houston is still spreading out, while Los Angeles, hemmed in by mountains, has reached its natural limits — it also reflects California’s highly restrictive land-use policies, mostly imposed by local governments rather than the state. As Harvard’s Edward Glaeser has pointed out, there is some truth to the claim that states like Texas are growing fast thanks to their anti-regulation attitude, “but the usual argument focuses on the wrong regulations.” And taxes aren’t important at all.