Mitch McConnell

Clueless Republicans gloat over Reid retirement

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (2nd L) stifles a sob as he awards astronaut Neil Armstrong (L) with the Congressional Gold Medal at the U.S. Capitol in Washington November 16, 2011. Also pictured is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (2nd R)

Daily Kos

Way to stay classy, Republican National Committee:

TheRNC today released the following statement in response to Democrat Leader Harry Reid announcing his retirement:”With the Democrat Party already in disarray, a national committee struggling to raise money, and a scandal-plagued presidential frontrunner, it’s no surprise Harry Reid realized he was about to suffer a humiliating defeat and decided to step aside,” said RNC Press Secretary Allison Moore.

Right. You stick with this story for the next 22 months, as Harry Reid continues to drink Mitch McConnell’s and John Boehner’s milkshakes. Let’s see, he’s kept his caucus united and stymied Republicans on Department of Homeland Security funding (and what an embarrassment for Boehner that one was) and poison pill anti-abortion legislation. That’s just three months’ worth of work for him.

And let’s just see how Republicans pull together to finally pass that Obamacare replacement plan they’ve been floundering on for—what is it, now? Oh, yes—five years. The definition of disarray since 2010 has been John Boehner House of Representatives. But hey RNC, go with what you’ve got. Harry Reid’s going to make the next two years hell for your boys, so enjoy it while you can.

When Democrats are afraid to be Democrats

Alison Lundergan Grimes came off as a politician who couldn't trust voters to be adults.

Alison Lundergan Grimes came off as a politician who couldn’t trust voters to be adults. Photo: (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Compass via The Week

Open warfare has broken out in the Democratic Party over just how much President Obama’s low approval rating led to a midterm drubbing, and whether the White House did too much, too little, or didn’t care, to reduce his drag on the ticket.

Republicans did everything but obtain search warrants to find out how close their opponents were to President Obama. Some guilt-by-association was inevitable, but instead of accepting it and then pivoting, a bunch of Democratic candidates hemmed and hawed, temporized and made themselves look silly.

When Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky Secretary of State running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), was asked by a newspaper editorial board whether she had voted for Obama, she said that because she was the state’s voting administrator, she wanted to uphold the principle of a secret ballot and didn’t want to set a bad example. Or something.

What she could have said was, Yeah. My party has a history of fighting for the middle class and I’m proud of that.”

As a self-professed Clinton Democrat, Grimes could then have talked about Republican obstructionism during the Clinton administration and how President Clinton ushered in record economic growth and prosperity.

Short, sweet, has the benefit of not mentioning the words “Obama” or “Democratic Party,” and answers the questions.

A week later, she flubbed the same question, a question she knew would be asked of her.

“I’m not going to compromise a constitution right provided here in Kentucky in order to curry favor on one or (an)other side or the members of the media,” she answered.

Her discovery of an unrecognized constitutional right gave Mitch McConnell permission to suggest that Grimes was deceiving voters about her record. It allowed him to shine a spotlight on the very weakness that Grimes was trying to deflect.

At the debate, here’s what Grimes could have said:

Yeah. I did. And let’s talk about votes. Let’s talk about records. Let’s talk about who’s associated with gridlock, with Washington not working, with an economy that won’t get off the ground.

Whatever Mitch McConnell did for the state a while back, he’s had almost 30 years to fix Washington. What happened in Washington happened on his watch. He hasn’t been able to stand up to President Obama for six years. When I agree with the president, I’ll say so. When I disagree, he’s going to hear it, too. And yes, President Obama has made mistakes. And we’re gonna hold him accountable.

But Mitch McConnell was up there, a stone’s throw from the White House, when the government bailed out the big banks and left homeowners under water. Failed to pass a minimum wage? That’s Mitch McConnell’s Republican Party. Failed to deal with the immigration crisis? That’s not on Barack Obama. That’s on Mitch McConnell’s Republicans. Republicans, under Mitch McConnell, threatened to take the country off a fiscal cliff. Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, financed two wars on the nation’s credit card. Government has grown beyond our wildest imagination. New entitlements? Mitch McConnell was in the Senate leadership. Doesn’t matter whether the president was named Bush or named Obama.

You want to talk about votes? A vote for Mitch McConnell is a vote for everything we hate about Washington. It’s a vote for a guy who can’t cut it. He’s got a proven record of doing nothing. He’s the epitome of why we’re in trouble today.

McConnell could have chosen any number of responses to this, but he’d be defending his record, not attacking Grimes for an association she made.

It was McConnell’s best insight that voters would blame Washington gridlock on the president and his party even if the president and his party were not its primary cause. That connection — Obama’s in power and Washington seems chaotic and out of control — was really hard to break. But the polling swings, even allowing for a Democratic oversampling, showed that voters were willing to give Grimes a chance to break that connection and make her argument.

Instead, she tried to draw attention away from what everyone already knew, and came off as a politician who couldn’t trust voters to be adults.

Her association with Obama was a weakness in Kentucky. It was there from the moment she jumped into the race. It was a given. Her non-denial denial of an undeniable truth gave everyone who watched it a headache. And it made Mitch McConnell look like a genius.

Candidates of both parties should learn from her fumble.

McConnell Campaign Rocked by Photo Showing Him with Science Book (Humor)

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) | PHOTOGRAPH BY WIN MCNAMEE / GETTY

The New Yorker

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—The reëlection campaign of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) went into a tailspin on Monday with the emergence of a leaked photograph showing the Senator reading what appears to be an advanced science text.

The picture, which appeared on the gossip site TMZ, shows a visibly absorbed McConnell reading a scholarly volume entitled, “The Man-Made Causes of Global Warming.”

For McConnell, who has repeatedly punctuated his public statements on climate change with the claim that he is “not a scientist,” the scandalous photo threatens to torpedo his reëlection bid.

In the hours since the image was leaked, McConnell has plummeted between five and seven points in statewide polls as voters demanded to know what he was doing with the type of book only a scientist would read.

Swinging into damage-control mode, McConnell appeared at a hastily called press conference in Lexington and offered a terse denial. “It is true that I was holding the book, and that the book was open. But I was not reading the book,” he said.

Unfortunately for the Senator, that statement may be too little, too late for Kentucky voters, many of whom view McConnell’s apparent dabbling in science as a betrayal.

One of those voters, Republican Harland Dorrinson of Lousiville, put it this way, “In Kentucky, the only thing worse than being a scientist is being a scientist and lying about it.”

They Hope You Won’t Wake Up

The Huffington Post

Here’s the bottom line. The Tea Party Republicans and their Big Business and Wall Street allies plan to grab what they want while ordinary people sleep through this election.

They want ordinary Americans to stay home on Election Day.

To them, high voter turnout is like daylight to a burglar — or for that matter to a vampire. It stops them cold.

The corporate CEO’s and Wall Street bankers together with Tea Party extremists control the Republican Party. They see this traditionally low-turnout mid-term election as the perfect opportunity to take over the United States Senate, Governors’ mansions and State Houses with politicians who represent their interests.

They don’t want Senators from Iowa, Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Alaska, South Dakota or Michigan. They want Senators from the Koch Brothers and their corporate and Wall Street allies — Senators who actually represent them and will do whatever they are told.

They want to know that when the chips are down they can count on government officials to continue rigging the economic game so they can continue to siphon off all of the economic growth for wealthiest one percent of the population.

That’s why, at the beginning of this cycle, the Koch Brothers’ network vowed to invest $300 million to smear Democratic candidates for office. That’s why Wall Street has redirected most of its giving to the GOP. And that’s why Republicans have spent the last two years passing laws to suppress voter turnout — especially among African Americans and Hispanic voters.

In order to continue taking our money, they need to take our votes. Where they can, they’ve passed “voter ID” laws that disenfranchise hundred of thousands — and impose what amounts to a poll tax — allegedly to stop the non-existent problem of voter identity fraud. Where they can, they’ve curtailed early voting periods and access to mail ballots.

In Georgia, the Republican Secretary of State has gone so far as to refuse to process 40,000 new voter registrations.

The smaller the turnout, the better for the plutocrats who want to continue to have unfettered access to virtually all of the economic growth generated by the American economy — just as they have for the last 30 years.

The fact is that over the last three decades our Gross Domestic Product per person has gone up by 80 percent. That means we all should be 80 percent better off than 30 years ago. But instead, wages have stagnated for most Americans because the rules of the game have allowed the CEO’s and Wall Street speculators to take all of that growth in income for themselves. They want to keep it that way.

But that requires that ordinary people stay away from the polls, because when most Americans vote, the electorate represents the whole population of the United States. And the fact is that most Americans support a progressive program that would change all of that.

Bottom line: they want to steal your family’s security while you sleep through the election.

There’s only one problem with this strategy: you don’t have to go along. Ordinary Americans can stop them by going to the polls.

It’s really up to us.

If you don’t have an ID, get one.

If they don’t have enough voting machines, camp there. Stand in line as long as it takes.

In 2012, thousands of people stood in line for hours – even after Barack Obama was declared the winner for President – because they were unwilling to allow the Republicans to steal their votes. If necessary, join them and do the same.

Don’t let them steal your vote.

Of course, in many places they can’t try these kind of overt voter intimidation tactics. Instead, they try to lull ordinary people to sleep by trying to convince us that the elections don’t matter anyway.

Tea Party extremists masquerade as moderates. Politicians who owe everything to rich plutocrats parade around in old cars and workshirts to look like they understand the “common man.”

They come out with mushy position papers on issues that are overwhelmingly popular — like raising the minimum wage. But they never mention that if you elect enough Republicans for them to control the House or Senate, the leadership in those bodies will simply refuse to call a minimum wage bill for a vote — just like John Boehner did this year.

Want to pass immigration reform? Then get out and vote against Republicans, who blocked an up or down vote in the House on comprehensive immigration reform — a bill that would have passed the House if the Republican leadership had simply called the bill to the floor.

Want to restore long-term unemployment compensation benefits? A bill passed the Senate that would have been signed by the president, but the House Republican leadership refused to call it for a vote.

Want to cut the cost of student loans? The Republican leadership in the House refused to take up the very popular measure sponsored in the Senate by Elizabeth Warren. If Mitch McConnell becomes Senate Majority Leader, the Senate won’t call it for a vote either.

Want to stop cuts in Social Security and Medicare? The House Republicans passed a budget that would end the Medicare guarantee and replace it with vouchers for private insurance that would raise out-of-pocket costs for retirees by thousands of dollars.

Want tax policies that shift the burden from ordinary working people to the one percent that has received all of the benefits of our growing economy? It won’t come from Republicans — ever.

In fact, elections matter enormously to the economic well-being of every American. And no one’s vote counts more than yours — unless you don’t vote. Because if you don’t vote, everyone’s vote counts more than yours. In political terms, if you don’t vote, you don’t count. And we know that if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.

If nothing else will convince you to vote, think about this. If millions of ordinary middle and working class Americans sit this election out and let the Koch Brothers of the world have their way, can’t you just imagine how they will yuck it up over drinks in their exclusive private clubs, or onboard their private jets?

They have no respect for working people — or the value of hard work. Many of them disdain ordinary working people. To them, it will just confirm their view that ordinary people can be sold a bill of goods if they just spend enough money and repeat enough lies.

In the end we will prove them dead wrong. The moral arc of the universe does in fact bend toward justice. But don’t give them the satisfaction — even for a few fleeting months at the end of 2014 — to think that their money can buy our democracy and there is nothing we are willing to do about it.

Alison Lundergan Grimes May Have Found Mitch McConnell’s Weak Spot

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) | No attribution

The Huffington Post

With Alison Lundergan Grimes down in almost every poll in a tight race against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, her success may hinge on whether she can bring Paducah, a small city more than three hours west of Louisville, into her camp.

Paducah has long been a lynchpin in McConnell’s simple but effective “west of Interstate 65” strategy. McConnell, who started his career as a political moderate, has pursued a campaign strategy that depends on winning over the counties west of I-65, the highway that bisects Kentucky from Louisville in the north to the Tennessee border in the south. McCracken County, which covers Paducah, didn’t swing McConnell’s way when he was first elected to the Senate in 1984. But the county soon fell into McConnell’s column and has remained there ever since.

McConnell has relied on a Cold War-era uranium facility for the core of his support. The plant helped put Paducah on the map, and the town’s identity has long been tied to it. Paducah called itself “The Atomic City” during the postwar years, and murals celebrating its 1950s heyday still line the town’s floodwall along the Ohio River. By the mid-1980s, however, the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant had become a relic. As similar facilities were shuttered in other states, McConnell pitched himself as the one man who could work the Senate to keep the plant open.

This is the first campaign in which the plant could be a liability for him. After decades of decline, it finally shut down this year, when the last of its more than 1,000 operators were laid off.

In a recent campaign ad, Grimes used the Paducah plant as a backdrop. “You want to know the difference between Mitch McConnell and me?” she says directly into the camera. “Just look at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant … He’d just show up at election time and say he’d saved the plant. Now it’s shutting down anyway.”

Grimes has visited the county at least eight times since launching her campaign, pounding away at Paducah’s economic trouble. The city’s 7.8 percent unemployment rate is above both the state and national rates, and was nearly 10 percent as recently as February. The old plant workers may be swayed by Grimes’ message.

“They are taking a different view of the senior senator,” said Jim Key, vice president of the local steelworkers union to which the plant workers belonged.

Paducah isn’t a hotbed for hardline anti-government conservatism. Mayor Gayle Kaler praises McConnell for delivering federal dollars to her beleaguered town. McConnell’s pitch to the town has relied on the same — keeping the plant open with federal money, and helping to start a program that provides free health care to workers who had been poisoned working in the facility’s hazardous conditions.

In 2013, The Huffington Post outlined how McConnell ignored the toxic conditionsthat hurt plant employees and polluted the surrounding wells and waterways. In her ad, Grimes cited the story in making a similar point. “Mitch did nothing about the radiation problems for over a decade while workers got sick,” Grimes says in her ad.

McConnell actually went much further. The senator voted in 1988 to prevent sick workers from seeking legal redress for being poisoned. The McConnell campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Republicans know McConnell is vulnerable here. The status quo isn’t good, and McConnell has been the senator for 30 years. So they’re doing all they can to pin the town’s economic doldrums on Obama, who is wildly unpopular in the state — and to tie him to Grimes and any Democrat they can.

Voters are even getting mailers from multiple GOP-affiliated groups attempting to tie little-known state Rep. Gerald Watkins (D-McCracken) to Barack Obama. The flyer claimed “a vote for Gerald Watkins is a vote for Obamacare.” The mailers can be seenhere and here.

Watkins, who teaches at a community college, thinks the attempt to associate him with the president comes from a single meeting he had with then-Sen. Obama in 2006, after which he told a reporter he thought Obama was intelligent. Watkins told HuffPost that the flyer’s Obamacare claim is “ridiculous.” “It’s a federal law,” he said. “I’m at the state level.”

Watkins thinks the plant’s closure could be a problem for McConnell. “It could very well impact the election, because he’s always championed the workers there and helped keep the plant open for all these years,” he said.

At a recent visit to Paducah, Grimes brought former President Bill Clinton to stump on her behalf at a campaign event in the McCracken County High School gym. Principal Michael Ceglinski, who attended the event, said the transformation of his gym into a political pep rally was amazing, a temporary spark amid the plant layoffs that he said have affected the school.

Ceglinski said some of his students had to leave the school when their parents were laid off and had to move away. “Some of my closest friends have lost their jobs there, and you struggle with them,” he said. “You hurt for them and their families. You go through it emotionally.”

The battle for Paducah may hinge not on Grimes’ economic message but on the city’s nostalgia for Clinton’s economic record. Democrats have cited Clinton’s appearance on the campaign trail as a key factor in whatever success Grimes may have in her own “west of I-65″ strategy. Clinton, who carried Kentucky twice, is one of the most popular political figures in the state. Even Paducah’s Republican mayor admitted to admiring Clinton.

“He was actually a good president,” Kaler said. “Our economy was going good when he was president … Actually wish we had more people in government like him.”

McConnell digs a hole on Social Security, falls in

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) answers questions from members of the press after speaking at a campaign rally Oct. 22, 2014 in Grayson, Ky. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) answers questions from members of the press after speaking at a campaign rally Oct. 22, 2014 in Grayson, Ky. | Photo by Win McNamee/Getty

MSNBC – Rachel Maddow

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in the midst of the toughest race of his career, still isn’t quite sure how he wants to present himself to voters. On the one hand, the longtime Republican senator is proud to be the nation’s top obstructionist, helping create the most dysfunctional Congress in modern history. On the other hand, McConnell wants the public to see him as the consummate dealmaker.
To help prove the latter point, the GOP incumbent cited an interesting example last week.
Though he hasn’t mentioned it much on the campaign trail over the past year, McConnell specifically touted his effort to push President George W. Bush’s plans to reform Social Security in 2005, which would have set up private accounts for retirees.
“After Bush was re-elected in 2004 he wanted us to try to fix Social Security,” said McConnell. “I spent a year trying to get any Democrat in the Senate – even those most reasonable Democrat of all, Joe Lieberman – to help us.”
We now know, of course, that Democrats weren’t interested in privatizing Social Security. Neither was the American mainstream,  which hated the Bush/Cheney idea. But the fact that McConnell brought this up, unprompted, was a clumsy error from a senator who’s usually more disciplined.
With time running out in Kentucky, Mitch McConnell decided to remind the state that he wanted to effectively eliminate the popular and effective Social Security system. Indeed, it’s been part ofMcConnell’s governing vision for many, many years.
When local reporter Joe Sonka asked McConnell whether voters should expect the senator to push Social Security privatization after the midterms, McConnell replied, “I’m not announcing what the agenda would be in advance.”
Wait, he’s not?
I’m starting to think Republicans have collectively forgotten the point of a political campaign. Last week, Scott Brown told voters in New Hampshire, “I’m not going to talk about whether we’re going to do something in the future.” Around the same time, McConnell said he’ll only announce Senate Republicans’ agenda after the election.
This is a little nutty, even by 2014 standards. Call me old fashioned, but in a democracy, candidates are supposed to tell voters what they’d do if elected. Then, after the election, the winning candidates are supposed to pursue the agenda endorsed by the electorate.
When McConnell says “I’m not announcing what the agenda would be in advance,” he’s getting democracy backwards. The longtime incumbent is asking voters to give him control of the Senate first, at which point he’ll tell everyone what he intends to do with his power.
It’s an odd pitch. Either McConnell still intends to eliminate Social Security, replacing it with private accounts, or he doesn’t. The senator brought this up as an example of his bipartisan outreach, so it’s not unreasonable to ask whether he still intends to pursue an anti-Social Security agenda if McConnell gets a promotion.
This probably isn’t the issue McConnell wanted to deal with in the campaign’s final week, but he opened the door, and shouldn’t be too surprised when others walk through it.

McConnell Reeling After 2 Biggest Newspapers In Kentucky Endorse Alison Lundergan Grimes

alison-grimes

U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY) | no attribution

Sounds good to me…

PoliticusUSA

In strong editorials, the two largest newspapers in Kentucky have both endorsed Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes over Sen. Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky Senate election.

The Lexington Herald-Leader’s editorial board wrote,

McConnell does have power. He commands a perpetual-motion money machine; dollars flow in, favors flow out.

The problem is how McConnell uses his power. He has repeatedly hurt the country to advance his political strategy.

McConnell has sabotaged jobs and transportation bills, even as Kentucky’s unemployment exceeds the nation’s and an Interstate 75 bridge crumbles over the Ohio River. He blocked tax credits for companies that move jobs back to this country while preserving breaks for those that move jobs overseas. He opposed extending unemployment benefits, while bemoaning the “jobless” recovery. He brags about resolving crises that he helped create.

The Senate may never recover from the bitter paralysis McConnell has inflicted through record filibusters that allow his minority to rule by obstruction.

….

Kentuckians can’t do much to stop a Supreme Court majority that’s enabling the corrosion of our democracy by unlimited, secret contributions, in court cases bearing McConnell’s stamp.

Kentuckians can send a powerful message on Nov. 4 and carve out a better future by retiring McConnell and making Grimes their senator.

The Courier-Journal editorial board’s endorsement of Grimes was significant, because that is where the “scandal” over her refusal to disclose who she voted for in 2012 blew up.

The C-J editorial board wrote,

More discouraging — and most important to voters — is that he appears lacking a vision for Kentucky or the country as a whole. Rather, his decades-long drive to increase his power and political standing has resulted in this campaign based on his boast that if he is re-elected and Republicans win a Senate majority, he would become Senate majority leader. Some voters believe Kentucky will benefit from keeping Mr. McConnell in such a national leadership position, but we believe that alone is not a reason for giving him another term.

Both candidates have failed the voters through limited access, rote talking points, slickly packaged appearances and a barrage of attack ads that at best are misleading and at worst, outright false.

But Ms. Grimes has laid out positions on a number of issues that matter to voters, ones that separate her from her opponent.

….

Kentucky needs a U.S. senator who sees a higher calling than personal ambition and a greater goal than self-aggrandizement. For those reasons and for her evident potential, we endorse Ms. Grimes for election on Nov. 4.

Both of the endorsements of Grimes are particularly stinging for McConnell because they represent a rejection of his strategy that was designed to make the Kentucky election all about President Obama. The editorial boards made it clear that in their view, this contest is a referendum on Sen. McConnell. The incumbent’s naked lust for personal political power has been the motivating force behind his campaign.

McConnell has no agenda for Kentucky. The thirty-year incumbent has no plans to do anything for the state. Kentucky is nothing more than the vehicle that Mitch McConnell is using in his quest to become Senate Majority Leader. The two endorsements cut right to the heart of the matter. Kentucky has a chance to elect a candidate who has a vision for the future of her state. At age 72, Sen. McConnell’s only visions are of himself as Majority Leader.

Sen. McConnell has amassed a huge amount of political power. He could have used that power to help Kentuckians. What he chose to do with that power speaks volumes about his priorities. Instead of working with Democrats to help the people back home, McConnell put every ounce of his energy and effort into turning the once formidable Senate into a machine of dysfunction that is nearly incapable of working in the manner that the Founders intended.

The national political media have been blinded by McConnell’s power and longevity. They are refusing to see what is happening on the ground in Kentucky. McConnell’s money and influence may be enough to keep him hanging on, but both editorials echoed the feelings of millions of voters in the state who are ready for a change.

Another “10 Things” List

H/t: Ted

Friday Fox Follies – A Shakespearean Festival

fox news canadaedited

The death of Ben Bradlee got me thinking about what passes for the sorry state of journalism these days. Watergate reporting may have been the high-water mark, but that should also remind us that Richard Nixon’s media architect was Roger Ailes, current president of the Fox “News” Channel, the low water mark.
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It Gets Worse For Republicans As Mitch McConnell Busted For Using Non-Kentucky Woman in Ad

mcconnell-frown

Mitch McConnell has done it again. The fading Kentucky Republican has gone beyond paying people to attend his rallies to having a non-Kentucky woman appear in his ad touting female support for Sen. McConnell in Kentucky.
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Open Carry Enthusiasts Plan On Marching Through St. Louis Carrying Pistols And Rifles

open carry texas

A gun rights activist from Ohio plans to lead a march through downtown St. Louis on Saturday afternoon. The walk through the heart of the downtown area will start at 1 PM local time and consist of other open carry enthusiasts.
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Democratic Senator Bob Casey Wants To Restore The Voting Rights Act

Bob Casey

On Friday, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) held a news conference where he called on his colleagues to restore the gutted portions of the Voting Rights Act.
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Georgia GOP Senate Candidate Tries To Obstruct Camera Taping Him Signing A Woman’s Hip

David Perdue signing hip/torso of young woman

Down in the polls and disgraced as a proud outsourcer, Republican David Perdue decided the best course of action was to sign a young woman’s hip/torso at a rally on Thursday.
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New Polls Show Democrats Have All The Momentum In Georgia Senate Race

michelle nunn momentum

A new CNN/ORC Poll is the latest in a long line of polls to show Democrat Michelle Nunn leading David Perdue in the Georgia Senate race. More importantly, the CNN poll shows that Nunn would win a runoff between the two candidates.
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Republican Senate Wave Is Disintegrating As Democrats Again Outraise Republicans

Obama and the Democrats Set a Wall Street Reform Trap for the GOP

Senate Democrats have outraised Republicans again, with the DSCC taking in $6.5 million to the NRSC’s $6 million in the first two weeks of October.
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Senator Ted Cruz’s Deputy Chief Of Staff Says Obamacare Is To Blame For Ebola

obama-wtf

After it had been confirmed that a doctor in New York City had tested positive for Ebola, conservatives reignited their fear mongering and Obama-blaming over the disease. Among them was Nick Muzin, Deputy Chief of Staff for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
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In One Fell Swoop Obama Announces Solar Jobs For 50,000 Veterans and Takes On Climate Change

President Obama Delivers Commencement Address At West Point

Since Republicans have relentlessly obstructed jobs programs for America’s Veterans, the President took it upon himself to enact the program at American military bases and provide job training for at least 50,000 veterans.
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With Clinton and Obama Inbound, Scott Walker is on the Ropes in Wisconsin

Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker is reeling in Wisconsin. Will Tea Party extremism trump Clinton and Obama support for Mary Burke?
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The Excessive Political Power Of White Men In The United States, In One Chart

Mitch McConnell | CREDIT: AP PHOTOS/SUSAN WALSH

Just sayin’…

Think Progress

White men make up 31% of the population, yet they hold 65% of elected offices in the United States.

According to data released Wednesday by the Reflective Democracy Campaign, which built a database of over 42,000 elected officials, America’s leaders do not look very much like their constituents. Whites, men and white men dominate elected offices. Women and people of color are massively underrepresented.

misrepresentative_democracy-14

Elected politicians in the United States are overwhelmingly white (90%) and male (71%). While men of color make up 19% of the population, they account for only 7% of elected officials. Likewise, women of color are 19% of the population, but hold only 4% of elected offices. White women are proportionally slightly better off: they are 32% of Americans and 25% of elected officials.

The database also revealed that women are slightly more represented at the state and local level – they are a third of county-level office holders and a quarter of state legislators. The reverse is true for people of color who are more represented at the federal level than anywhere else, even though they still only represent 17 percent of federal officials.

The Reflective Democracy Campaign also released the findings of a poll of 800 likely voters, which found that the majority of those polled felt that women and people of color were underrepresented in elected office. What is more, overwhelming majorities of voters across all party identifications (Democrat, Independent, and Republican) supported policies that elect more women and people of color to Congress. The question is admittedly an abstract one and it remains to be seen, as more data from the project is released, what sort of specific policies the public will support.

While a pipeline to leadership and increasing voter turnout are vastly different issues, the connection between who votes and who we vote for remains. Gloria Totten, president of Progressive Majority, a PAC which recruits and trains progressives to run for office across the United States, noted “If you’re a person of color and you can’t even vote, are you going to run for office? There is some reality in the fact there is a ripple effect of regressive policy action in this country that plays into this data.”

Restrictive voting laws are one major culprit. ID requirements, laws that prevent felons from voting, proof of residency statutes, and conservative tactics such as barring same-day voter registration all disproportionately impact communities of color and the working poor who are less likely to own the stringent documentation required to enter the polls.

Less examined is the nature of polling places themselves. Limited hours, long lines, and inconvenient locations could prevent low-wage workers who lack workplace flexibility from taking time off to cast their vote. Currently, there is no federal legislation that protects workers who take needed time off to vote. This leaves women, people of color, and youth who are concentrated in low-income jobs that lack flexible scheduling without the protection they need to engage in civil life. Although some states, such as California, Georgia, and Illinois, laws provide several hours off work to vote, in 2012 more than 10 million voters waited in line for longer than half an hour to cast ballots. And for minimum-wage workers who are not paid for this time off, the lost income amounts to little more than a 21st century poll tax.

Of course, it is precisely this group of racially diverse, young, and working-class voters that are most discouraged from turning out to vote who are the most likely to support progressive candidates and initiatives.

The Magical President doesn’t exist: What the left must really do to defeat the wingnuts

The Magical President doesn't exist: What the left must really do to defeat the wingnuts

Barack Obama (Credit: Reuters/Jim Young)

Progressives need to pay attention and read this ASAP.  Kudos to Salon‘s Joan Walsh for putting this out there…

Salon – Joan Walsh

The myth of a president who can solve our problems alone is inane. The big task right now? Rescue these midterms

Labor Day marks the traditional kickoff to election season, and all Democrats can say for themselves about the coming midterms is: Things look bad, but they could be worse. Republicans will almost certainly gain Senate seats, and could very well take it over, though their chances diminish every time we hear new audio of Mitch McConnell and his GOP cronies sucking up to the Koch brothers at their last retreat. But traditional low midterm Democratic turnout could make McConnell the Senate majority leader in January nonetheless.

This political season opens against a backdrop of profound pessimism, captured in an August Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that found that 71 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. The president’s approval rating is at an all-time low, but so is that of congressional Republicans. Even worse, the two big stories dominating the end-of-summer headlines – the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. and the rise of ISIL – only deepen the political gloom, because they reflect two enormous American problems that are coming to seem almost unsolvable: profound and persistent racial injustice, and the shape-shifting chaos that is Iraq.

These problems are particularly vexing for people who subscribe to the Magical President theory of politics — which includes too many of us, including me sometimes – because those are two issues Americans thought we’d “solved,” or at least responsibly addressed, by electing our first black president, who’d famously opposed the “dumb” Iraq war and promised to end it. Now race relations are arguably worse than when Obama took office, and so is Iraq, and this is a rare case where you can fairly say people on “both sides” blame the president — mostly wrongly.

Cornel West is now slipping deep into Maureen Dowd territory: a formerly incisive, moderately influential social critic (a genuinely important one, in West’s case) driven to cruelty and irrelevance by Obama hatred. The National Journal’s Ron Fournier is a consistent proponent of what some deride as the “Green Lantern” approach to the presidency: If only Obama would justlead, our problems would solve themselves, though Fournier doesn’t stoop to channeling Abraham Lincoln or Aaron Sorkin when he criticizes Obama. But even fair and sober observers are frustrated with some of Obama’s moves.

You can certainly criticize the president on the margins – I have, and I’m sure I will again. Personally, if I worked for him, I’d probably have suggested not golfing after his moving statement on journalist James Foley’s execution, and not equivocating as much in his Ferguson remarks, which Michael Eric Dyson fairly laments. But those are issues more of stage management than statecraft.

Still, even for people who respect Obama, it’s hard to see us mired in what feels like ancient, intractable conflict in both Ferguson and Iraq. It hurts. Yet I would argue (after having been demoralized about both issues) that the unrest in Ferguson is in fact a kind of social progress: Within hours of Mike Brown’s awful shooting a network of new and seasoned activists came together to demand justice, pushing both Gov. Jay Nixon and the president to take action to rein in abusive local cops and drive the investigation into what happened.

Even the ugly situation in Iraq represents political progress, because as painful and outrageous as Foley’s execution was, and as disturbing as it is to see ISIL gain power in Iraq and Syria, the vital debate over what the U.S. can and should do there has actually been strengthened by the existence of intervention skeptics on the left and the right. Obama has repudiated the neocon approach, but he’s still wrestling with Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn doctrine: If you break it, have you really bought it? Certainly, we’ve already paid for it, many times over.

Let’s be clear: There is neither a Democratic nor a progressive consensus on what is to be done there. All we have is a profound skepticism, and I’ll take that over a cynical Cheneyesque certainty, built on lies to the American people. Disagreement, even deadlock, is preferable.

The belief that somehow Obama can lead us out of our summer of misery reflects Magical President thinking. Which leads me back to the rapidly approaching and dispiriting midterms.When I reviewed Rick Perlstein’s “Invisible Bridge,” I noted that the major political difference between the right and left seems to be that when defeated and disillusioned, the right gets back to the nuts and bolts work of electoral politics. The left, or some of it, disintegrates, a flank here promoting direct action over electoral politics (a debate that’s understandably renewed by events in Ferguson); a flank there preaching about a third party; and one over there fantasizing about the perfect left-wing challenge to the mainstream Democratic candidate, like that dreamy African-American senator who opposed the war in Iraq who looked so magical eight years ago. Meanwhile, Republicans count on division on the left, and low turnout by the Democratic base of younger, poorer non-white voters, to help them take back the Senate.

And when they do, Mitch McConnell has promised only more obstruction and gridlock. I should point out, this isn’t just a byproduct of Republican victories, but one of the goals. It’s become obvious in the GOP’s approach to Obama that obstruction is at least partly intended to demoralize the reluctant, occasional voters in the Democratic base. For if there’s no action on those “gosh darn” issues, in McConnell’s words, like a minimum wage hike, student loan relief or extended unemployment insurance, let alone immigration reform or climate change, even after Obama became the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to win more than 50 percent of the vote twice, those of us who say that voting is the most reliable path to social change sound either foolish or dishonest. People say, why bother?

The cause isn’t helped by spineless Democrats who try to blur their differences with Republicans instead of heighten them. Right now Karl Rove is attacking Democratic senators like North Carolina’s Kay Hagan and Arkansas’s Mark Pryor for endorsing Obama’s Simpson-Bowles commission report, which recommended cuts to Medicare and Social Security. But nobody could have predicted anyone would use entitlement cuts as weapons, right? Except many of us did. Again and again.

On the other hand, Hagan, Pryor and also-vulnerable Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana are doing better than expected, either leading their GOP opponents or tied, at least partly because during this election year, they’ve been feistier and more progressive, particularly when it comes to defending the Affordable Care Act. And Kentucky voters may yet make Mitch McConnell pay for sucking up to the Kochs. He shouldn’t be redecorating the Senate majority leader’s office, at any rate.

Democrats have two months to make sure this election doesn’t turn out like 2010 did. It’s not about the president right now, and we shouldn’t wait until 2016 for a new magical president. The kind of thoroughgoing change we need won’t happen in eight years, or even 80. It’s an eternal battle, the constant effort to expand the realm of human freedom to everyone, against the constant crusade by the wealthy to ensure that the trappings of human dignity – education, leisure, family life, childhood itself – are reserved for those who can afford to pay for them. The Kochs and their allies are trying to repeal the 20th century. Progressives can’t just suit up for that battle every four years.