We are glorified monkeys pretending we know how to build a society
In light of the recent Atlantic article that got every mother whose baby lives in her briefcase in a stir, here is a spliced up conversation about feminism with a former Smith College roommate and current mother -
I agree that this issue is far beyond that of simply feminism - it is the product of a narrow goal - money - the false idea that it is the only thing that can bring us happiness. I think we have convinced ourselves out of our own power (as women) in some ways -
One could also argue that for someone doling out money, aka an employer, who wants someone who will fall into line, be easily controlled and predictable - turns out men fit the bill! :) Feminine values are more unordered, more emotional and more intuitive, which makes sense when you think about being the ones who have babies. That is the only way we are able to understand their needs before they can talk. The thing is that both sides of the coin are important.
I think there are a lot of ways to look at the problem of inequality between the sexes, some of which totally ignore the power of motherhood, because the ‘value’ of this society is MONEY. And whomever is willing to sacrifice all else in pursuit of it is guaranteed a place at that table. As a ‘whole’ human though, whether male or female, they have sacrificed a lot else in pursuit of a narrow goal…like this first quote you put in the email. Anyone who is willing to live that way will get what they were aimed at, though they may not be happy when they get there! And to be fair, it IS more challenging for a woman since she will only get paid a percentage in most cases, of her male counterparts.
But I think a lot of people do have these aims, at least moreso these days - it’s sort of like a slow unwinding from our previous concepts of an office to go to, the men as breadwinners, this golden era idea of the nuclear family. We are still figuring shit out as a society, with so many people and cultural beliefs being squished together. With the internet, there is less need to go in to an office…which means doing work from home is more business friendly.
I think the most important thing you can be armed with is a mind that can analyze the world and its inequalities, but rejects the internalization of those inequalities…that is the only way to combat them.
Sometimes I really feel like the biggest problem this country has is the idea that it can control the world - through the military, through vaccinations, through whatever. But all control is an illusion. We are glorified monkeys pretending we know how to build a society.
This is a photo of two monkeys. Happy 4th of July!!
What Makes Tax Breaks So Homophobic? The American Family Association.
Bryan Fischer has a cure for AIDS, and despite being fired from his own church, is instrumental in making staff and policy decisions for the Romney campaign without ever talking to anyone at the campaign. Is he God? No - but you should fear him!
The American Family Association hasn’t made headlines in the last couple years like they used to. Part of the reason for that is their outlandish, anachronistic cultural stance (read: racist, sexist, homophobic misreading of the Bible and insistence on its insertion into the constitution.) But they are the driving force behind the Republican primaries and why seemingly rational Republicans who just want fewer taxes and a bigger Dept. of Defense start advocating for school prayer and DOMA.
NPR and The New Yorker recently highlighted the AFA’s Director of Issues Analysis, Bryan Fischer, and one thing’s for sure - this man is interesting! (He’s a lot of other things tool, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.) Having been fired from a church he founded for being too sexist (he wouldn’t allow women to teach Sunday school), he still wields a lot of power. Most recently, he was behind the Romney campaign’s forcing resignation on their foreign policy spokesperson, Richard Grenell, because Grenell is gay. But the investigative pieces go way beyond sodomy…
Rarely does a Facebook post convey much other than some food-porn (yes, this is safe for work), how great one’s day is or how annoying your boss is (not my boss of course - my boss is great… GREAT!). But the vernacular evolution that occurred here is something I most enjoy. Hope you do as well.
Obama!! Love it - he’s like going for broke - - you guys don’t want to compromise? OK - BOOM gay marriage. BOOM amnesty for people born here. And BOOM a conviction for wall street slime coincidentally on the same day.
What’s next? BOOM no more pipeline. BOOM more money to solar research. BOOM job aid. BOOM public education. #BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM
Jason A phenomenon heretofore known as the “Obama Boom.” #obamaBOOM
Put Down "Shades of Grey" & Punish Yourself with This Poll
The numbers will just drive you mad and aren’t worth looking at until the leaves turn orange (or the tourists leave, depending on where you’re living). So don’t look at the numbers… but if you’re a glutton (like me), take a peek below.
Wisconsin Makes Ya Proud & Makes Ya Wonder: What if we'd done it in 2000 nationwide...
What the hell is happening in Wisconsin? Remember this guy?
Not really? Well amid the Tea Party fanaticism, he won the gubernatorial race with 5% of the vote. With the looming state deficit he stripped public officials of their bargaining rights (AKA unions) and made deep cuts to public education funding - all while reducing taxes for businesses.
His head is currently on the chopping block as Wisconsin is only the third state to recall it’s Governor.
Makes you wonder what would have happened had our war cry in 2000 been a little louder…
Read more about the Governor’s race in the LA Times here. (Yes, I am on the west coast, it’s time I represent!)
13.8 billion, 37.6 million, 14 million: California's Debt, Population and Number of Latinos
Once part of the Spanish empire during colonization and still replete with Missions, California became part of Mexico, for a brief period in the mid-1800s was an independent republic, and ultimately was ceded to the U.S. after the Mexican-American War to become a U.S. state in 1850. What followed was rushes and booms with the gold rush, the oil rush, the tinsel town and then the dot com/technology booms. Today, California’s economy, population, and landmass are bigger than most nations’. California’s GDP was $1.89 trillion making it the world’s eighth largest economy in 2009. Los Angeles is the 12th largest city in the world, and the state’s population is expected to reach 50 million by 2025. It is the third largest state with roughly 160,00 square miles, roughly the size of Sweden. It has over 200 national and state parks including Yosemite and Redwood, averages 37,000 earthquakes every year (less than a dozen over a 4.5), and with its moderate climate is one of the nation’s leading produce producers and tourist destinations where movie stars can become major leading politicians.
California saw 10% growth in the last decade, just above the national average. Of its 37.6 million people, Californians are 40% white, 6% black, 13% Asian, 1% Native American and 37.6% Hispanic - about the same percentage as Texas, but 1.5 times as many actual people of Hispanic descent. Never below the national average with historically high unemployment rates, California currently has the highest unemployment rate after Nevada and Rhode Island at 11%, and it hasn’t felt much relief in the past year. It has the biggest budget deficit of any state at $13.8 billion - no other state even comes close, with the second and third worse states, Georgia, at $2.5 billion and Florida at $2.3 billion. The housing collapse caused a huge hit for California construction companies and by proxy, falling investments in venture capital. The worldwide recession also had an impact in California through a downturn in foreign trade.
In Washington State, It's Nearly Season for Rainier Cherries... and a Republican Governor
Nestled between Oregon, Idaho and Canada, Washington state was ratified in 1889, the 42nd state in the nation. In the first quarter of the 20th century, the state, with all its industrial workers, became very union friendly. Politics were once divided economically, but today culturally. SEA/TAC airport might also represent that divide with Seattle a hub of liberal Democrats and a neo-hippie/liberal entrepreneurial reputation, while Tacoma is far more conservative, rural and working class.
Independents Flock to Maine, but the Snowe Don't Blow No Mo'
With over 2,000 islands and more coastline than California, Maine’s nickname is The Vacation State. Famous for lobster, Maine also produces the most blueberries in the nation. To celebrate its French-Canadian populations, the legislature one day each year business is conducted and the Pledge of Allegiance is recited in French.
Maine grew rapidly until the Civil War and then again with the high-tech boom of the 1980s and 90s. With 1.3 million people, the population shrunk by a couple hundred between 2010 and 2011, but the past decade overall saw a positive, albeit small, growth rate of 4.2%. It is one of the three least diverse states in the nation at over 95% white, 1.2% black, 1.3% Hispanic, 1% Asian and .6% Native American - descending from the Algonquian peoples.
In the past few decades the states economy has transformed from manufacturing and food processing to high technology, tourism and biotechnology, which has had a positive effect on the coastal areas while adversely affecting the landlocked ones. Maine’s largest economic income is derived from agriculture, fishing, industries related to its ports - commercial fishing, shipping and the Navy - and clearly a generous income from tourism as its motto suggests. It levies high taxes on hospitality related sales. With slow, but stable growth, the current unemployment rate in Maine is 7%, toward the lower half of states.
The state has been flip-flopping parties for Governor since the 50s, and the seat is currently held by Republican Paul LePage, who is suffering in the polls even though its not an election year and he is not likely to see a second term in 2015. Maine likes its Independents, and though it went from red to solidly blue in the Clinton years, it’s delegation is mixed with both of its senators Republican and both of its representatives Democrats. (Though this line up could change with Senator Olympia Snowe’s surprise retirement this year.)
The state legislation is Republican-controlled, and redistricting took one Democratic town from the slightly more conservative 2nd district making five-term Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud more vulnerable. Republican Senate President Kevin Raye has termed out of the state legislature, and is looking for a rematch to the 2002 race with Michaud that he narrowly lost. Petition filing is not yet closed, but Raye is the probable bet for the Republican nominee. Maine hasn’t elected a Republican to the House in over 15 years, and current polling shows 53% of voters hold a favorable opinion of Michaud, with only 27% unfavorable. Regardless, he is now more vulnerable in a moderate district. Rep. Chellie Pingree, on the other hand, is expected to win again for the third time with another comfortable lead.
Senators Susan Collins and Snowe are both popular, three-term senators elected in the mid-1990s, and ranked the most liberal Republicans by the National Journal. Collins enjoys a 60% approval rating and is not in an election year. Snowe has an even higher approval at 69%, which makes her retirement even more surprising and the seat competitive. Snowe, a moderate who quit due to partisan frustration, only gave a two week notice for filing.
While it has solidly favored Democratic Presidential nominees in recent years, underneath the blue veneer is a moderate state. Former Maine Governor Angus King is running as an Idependent - a popular label in Maine and one that cost the Dems the Gubernatorial race in 2010. Though former secretary of state Matt Dunlap, State Senator Cynthia Dill, and State Rep. John Hinck have filed for the Democratic primary as well. Six candidates are vying for the Republican nomination; Secretary of State Charlie Summers, Attorney General William Schneider, State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, State Sen. Debra Plowman, former Maine Senate President Rick Bennett and Scott D’Ambroise, a Tea Party candidate. King, who is moderate once supporting W. Bush and now touting Obama’s re-election, is expected to lean and therefore caucus with Democrats if elected. Furthermore, Maine’s independent voters lean Democratically 42% to 28% Republican. He is also the early favorite above all candidates. This presents a potentially big upset for Republicans who hoped to retake the Senate this year.
Ron Paul has better ratings than any of the other Republican nominees, though all trail Obama by at least 16%. Obama’s approval rating was upside down last fall, but has surged ahead eight points in the past few months for a current rating of 55%. Having voted Democratically in Presidential elections since 1988, Maine will likely stay blue in 2012.
Deval Patrick, elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010, is the state’s first African-American governor and only the nation’s second black governor. Virginia’s Douglas Wilder was the first in 1989. Patrick grew up in a tough South Side Chicago neighborhood, and lived in an apartment where he shared a single room with his mother and sister; his father, a saxophone player, left the family when he was a child. He showed tremendous promise in elementary school, and a teacher recommended him to A Better Chance, an organization that sends gifted minority students to college preparatory schools. Patrick received a scholarship to the tony Milton Academy in Massachusetts. “(It) was like coming to a different planet,” Patrick recalled. He went on to graduate from Harvard College and then spent a year working in Africa on a United Nations youth training project in the Darfur region of Sudan. When he returned, he graduated from Harvard Law School and clerked for a federal appeals court judge in Los Angeles. In 1983, he joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York, and in 1986 he went into private law practice. During the Clinton administration, he was the assistant attorney general for civil rights. He returned to private practice in Boston in 1997, and later was general counsel for Texaco and Coca-Cola.
-the National Journal
He is the first Democratic Governor of Massachusetts since Michael Dukakis.
Who knew? The highest college degree holders are states in New England and… wait for it… the Midwest: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/10/most-college-graduates_n_607543.html#s98701&title=Pennsylvania_428
Ron Paul has better ratings than any of the other Republican nominees (though all trail Obama by at least 16%).
And while it has solidly favored Democrats since Clinton won its population over, underneath the blue veneer is a moderate state.
Maybe for exactly those reasons, Senator Olympia Snowe is retiring and Independent Angus King is likely to take her place.
Senators Susan Collins and Snowe are both popular, three-term senators elected in the mid-1990s, and ranked the most liberal Republicans by the National Journal. Collins enjoys a 60% approval rating and is not in an election year. Snowe has an even higher approval at 69%, which makes her retirement even more surprising and the seat competitive. Snowe, a moderate who quit due to frustration with partisanship, only gave a two week notice for filing.
The field is now filled with candidates back from political sabbatical. Former Maine governor Angus King is running as an Idependent - a popular label in Maine and one that cost the Dems the Gubernatorial race in 2010. Beacuse of this, though there are three candidates in the Democratic primary, the party could back King. Former secretary of state Matt Dunlap, State Senator Cynthia Dill, and State Rep. John Hinck have filed for the Democratic race. Six candidates are vying for the Republican nomination; Secretary of State Charlie Summers, Attorney General William Schneider, State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, State Sen. Debra Plowman, former Maine Senate President Rick Bennett and Scott D’Ambroise, a Tea Party candidate. King, who is moderate once supporting W. Bush and now touting Obama’s re-election, is expected to lean and therefore caucus with Democrats if elected. He is also the early favorite above all candidates. Furthermore, Maine’s independent voters lean Democratically 42% to 28% Republican.
This presents a potentially big upset for Republicans who hoped to retake the Senate this year.
Vanilla or Rainbow Sherbet? What Scoop of VP Do You Like?
Let’s say Romney does get the nomination. Then let’s say say he has to pick a running mate.
Do you think it will be his biggest competition and fan favorite Santorum? Or will he go with something less… white and male? Might be time to make-up for the “war on women.” I wonder what Bachmann is up to these days…
PA is an incredibly important swing state. With its gun-owning, Catholic anti-abortion Democrats, it may lean liberal, but its American artery runs right down the middle.
So why have commentators ignored the 2007 Senate race that Santorum LOST in the state? It seems his viability would be well determined by the state’s own opinion. The country will vote for a Republican again one day, but a religious fundamentalist is too far right for the nation to agree on.
In other news, the T-1000 - uh… I mean the Republican machine insiders know that Obama will overtake whomever the GOP puts up on the stage in November. So where is all that family money and those trust funds going? See: Your local House and Senate races and the battle to dominate Congress which is currently split.
What do Rush, Seamus and the T-1000 assassin have in common? The GOP.
Rush Limbaugh’s now-famous-gaff made the social media playbooks, and cost him nearly 50 advertisers including JCPenney, Allstate, AOL and Sears. Rush’s incendiary, irrational commentaries are nothing new, but it’s less and less possible to keep those views cornered in the extremist’s purview with the slew of mobile tools at our fingertips.
Just ask Seamus and his new line of shirts and ecards.
As Rush and his friends (though they are dropping like flies) in the primary continue shooting their own feet, Obama’s approval rating steadily increases along with negative views of the Republican candidates. But knowing what sort of fight the President will be up against, will depend on the primaries ending and the great Republican machine pooling its fractured resources back together like the T-1000 liquid metal assassin in Terminator 2.
If I’d been in Congress once, I’d run in the Republican primary too. But I can’t say I’m not worried about Obama’s chances. I do believe the tortoise won the race b/c the hare slept. So we need to stay on our game. That said, while not quite a tortoise, the Republicans up for grabs offer little inspiration - save Ron Paul. I don’t know, maybe it was my years working for the US Government and seeing the waste firsthand, but if he weren’t so extremist, I’d almost vote for him. Too bad he’s racist and wants to abolish the EPA and the Dept of Education. Judging by Rick Perry’s continued stay in the game, we don’t really think much of education anyway. We know that it will be Romney, fortunately or unfortunately, it honestly seems to matter little. The pool has been lackluster and too full of extremist (Herman Cain… whaa??? Michelle Bachmann… seriously?… Santorum… google it. That’s what comes up first, but beware, you should be 18 at least to read…)
But I digress. Lets get down to it. The Swing States. The Washington Post - and everyone else - tells us that the swing states (the states needed to win the Presidency with our electoral college system) - are not as friendly toward Obama as they were back then. The good ol’ days. 2008. However, the swing states are not the same either. Winning some place like Indiana was a big upset for the Republican party, but it was rare for a Dem (not since LBJ), and it’s ok that it won’t happen again in 2012.
The big issue is having Democrats win back Congress. Oh you don’t know who your congressman/woman is? Well do you remember the scurfuffle over the income tax that John Boehner wants to raise? Oh would you like to keep your paycheck as it is? Well maybe it’s time we find out who our congressperson is. …Yeah we, b/c I have no idea! Time to get on it - especially if you live in some place like Minnesota or Wisconsin.
Lets talk about the Midwest for moment.
Although Michigan has supported the Democratic nominee for the past five Presidential elections, its electoral votes are vital for the President and not to be taken for granted. Mr. Obama won 57% of the vote, the largest majority by a Democratic Presidential nominee in the state since 1964. He is polling very close to Romney, who can claim local roots. The serious economic woes in Michigan’s will make this race very close. Right now, the President is not getting much benefit from saving the auto industry.
Michigan lost a Congressional seat in the Census and this year will elect 14 representatives. Republican Governor, Rick Snyder, and the Republican state Legislature did their best gerrymander. They pushed Democratic Rep. Gary Peters out of his district to run against a fellow Democrat. The Republicans attempt to maintain all their existing nine seats, and made a cattle car out of Democratic neighborhoods. The two seats where Democrats have the most chance to take back the House are those of Thad McCotter and Tim Walberg – though this requires strong Democratic contenders.Walberg’s district was one of the very few that picked up a Democratic county in redistricting, giving Democrats a hope. Walberg’s support amongst swing voters fell by nine points after environmental groups aired effective ads exposing his vote to block the cleanup of toxic air pollution (HR 2250) last fall as well. No one is official yet. Those in Michigan, keep your ear to the track.
Wisconsin has often had a split personality. It sent Joseph McCarthy to the Senate, but also Gaylord Nelson, a guiding light for political environmentalists. In 2010, Wisconsin elected Governor Scott Walker. I won’t even get into it, you know the name… so do all of those unemployed teachers and firefighters.
The state’s Congressional delegation is 5:3 Republican. Wisconsin will not gain or lose seats and Republicans passed their redistricting plan before the recall. The major goal was to protect Republican freshman Rep. Sean Duffy. Democrats will try to rival Duffy and possibly Rep. Reid Ribble in the Green Bay district, which was Democratic. Ribble faces a challenge from former economic development administrator to Gov. Jim Doyle and business consultant Jamie Wall, who grew up in Green Bay. Duffy will likely face former state Sen. Pat Kreitlow. A former television anchor, Kreitlow has a polished edge. Though Democratic Congressman Dave Obey served here for 21 years before retiring January 2011, the district is now tougher for liberals. This is a crucial race in retaking the House. Recent polling showed that 51% of voters would not vote for Duffy again, but Kreitlow needs to raise a lot more money if he’s going to win and will have a great deal of independent GOP opposition.
This is a state that Obama must win. Democratic support it needed for the President as well as the congresspeople and the Senate race.
Republicans are fighting, while Democrats are uniting behind U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin for the Senate seat. Baldwin is one of the most liberal Representatives in the House (13th). She sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and champion’s energy independence, healthcare, and civil rights. She is openly gay, which will bring out the right-wingers in droves.
The Republicans are vying for former Secretary of Health and Human Services and former Gov. Thompson, former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann, and state House Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (polling in that order). A couple December polls showed Baldwin leading all the contenders save Thompson, whose lead is anywhere from two to 6 points giving Baldwin and state Democrats reason to perk up.
Thompson is known for a major overhaul to welfare. He had a mixed record with a few liberal policies that will prove anathema for the Tea Party voters. However, he is also credited with the good 1990s economy. Though a lackluster campaigner, he has a popular name. The two more right wing candidates may divide the conservative votes. If Walker is recalled, the Senate race will likely be delayed, so this could be a strange season in Wisconsin.
Finally our beacon in the sea of land, Illinois (O’s hometown and he will carry it again with Rahm at the helm in Chi-town) and Minnesota. Minnie the twin city has a couple seats that Dems could take back, a long shot would be ousting Bachmann. I hope and I pray, but I don’t hold my breath. Obama should win here, but again at the risk of being didactic, don’t let the tortoise win.
I’m not being flippant. I shamefully couldn’t locate Iowa on the map; first trying to put it east into Indiana and then south into Missouri. I apologize and tuck my tail between my legs (along with my middle school education), but there’s one time I won’t misplace Iowa - January 3rd, 2012.
Two and a half months ago, Michele Bachman, Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty won the Ames straw poll. Now, Pawlenty is out, Bachman should be, and Cain, Gingrich and Romney swap the top position to Paul’s consistent 4th place hold. Recent polls are showing Obama beating any of the top candidates, but the gap is steadily shrinking. Good news or not?
One thing’s for sure, these early polls are as fickle as a high school romance (or so I’m told). The Iowa Caucus for Presidential primaries picks a winner 2 out of 3 times. Good odds, but not a guaranteed bellwether. One guarantee is that after the media blitz of the caucus on January 3rd, we can expect an initial surge in support of profiled Republican candidates, but a clearer picture of Obama’s chances will emerge down the road.
Iowa is an extremely important swing state. Choosing equally liberal and conservative senators successively. Below we look at the history of the state and the changing demographics.
“Everything worries me in this environment. Nobody has gotten elected with these types of numbers.” - James Carville
Mr. Carville is referring to the President’s prospects for reelection with the current economic indicators, the “wrong track,” and consumer confidence numbers. Anyone interested in avoiding total potential Republican dominance of the federal government in 2013 could also read political statistician Nate Silver’s New York Times Magazine article of a week ago. Obviously, politics is not just a numbers game and the President has numerous advantages, including personal popularity, the power of incumbency, his credibility as Commander and Chief and the declining brand of the GOP. His approval ratings are inching up after the disastrous debt ceiling summer. Some Democrats may watch the strange reality show of the Republican primary and conclude Americans really will not elect one of these guys or the astonishing Michelle Bachman. There is, however, considerable complacency and some disillusionment that needs to be overcome. The nation is mired in a deep and politically volatile funk. Though early polls are unimportant, the new Gallup Poll has Romney tied with the President in nine of the swing states that will decide the election.
While the country appears to have avoided another potential recession with the preliminary 2.5% growth in the third quarter, another disquieting number surfaced at the same time. Even in a period of growth, median after tax income fell by 1.5%. The current growth number will do nothing to ease unemployment or wage growth. There is broad general support for the President’s Jobs Bill, but the GOP has filibustered every element of it. The mainstream press is belatedly reporting what anyone who was not politically comatose knows already - that the Republicans are deliberately sabotaging any economic recovery to deny the President reelection. Forty-nine percent of Floridians polled agreed with the “sabotage” theory, as did 50% in another national poll.
Austerity is not working in England and will not work here. We have the unlikely duo of Goldman Sachs (investors in Goldman have lost 50% of their money since 2007) and the IMF urging the central banks to promote more growth. Still, the Fed hesitates on its mandate to promote full employment, preferring to focus on phantom inflation. Even as private employers keep modestly adding jobs, teachers, cops and other public employees continue being laid off to the ongoing delight of the GOP.
Hanging over the economy could be more austerity to come from Congress.
The “Grand Bargain” dream of the Washington Post editorial page and other great promoters of the Iraq War, David Brooks and Tom Friedman, is ongoing. Of course a good part of the current deficit is the result of the Bush tax cuts, the misguided war in Iraq and the economic meltdown. But it is time for austerity for the average folks. Certainly one has to look at end of life Medicare spending, but the GOP goal is to have seniors under the tender mercies of the private insurers. The Democrats on the Super Committee keep offering cuts, but the Republicans will not be moved on taxes unless convinced the President will be hurt politically by a deal.
The Republicans don’t really care about deficits (as patron saint Dick Cheney said, “Deficits don’t matter”). Their goal is to gut programs of broad public benefit and tax cuts on the top. The GOP has done an extraordinary good job at one of its core missions, to erode any public faith in government as a force for positive societal advancement. In the same NYT poll, 89% of Americans “distrust the government to do the right thing.” Mission accomplished for those on the right who wanted to “drown the government in the bathtub.”
Given that it is impossible to move anything through Congress unless it is part of the GOP agenda, the President has begun to use his executive powers. But the economy is not going to fully recover until the housing industry and home prices recover. The Administration has to push the banks to do more (maybe try a bit of principal reduction) and the Attorneys General of California and New York remain committed, for now, to holding the banks proverbial feet to the fire. The President’s action to implement a “pay as you earn” program for students drowning in debt is welcome. Of course, the Republicans oppose the student loan effort, and Mitt Romney said in a Nevada interview that he wants the foreclosure process sped up to help the banks and speculators.
The recent study by the Census Bureau and IRS indicated that the top 1% nearly tripled their share of national income in the past three decades, while the rest of the population ran in place or behind. This is the true legacy of Ronald Reagan who, of course, would be attacked in a GOP nomination fight today because of his numerous policy apostasies. The Occupy Wall Street Movement has shocked the mainstream media by its level of public support. Forty-three percent of those polled in the New York Times survey generally agreed with the views of the protestors. In the same poll, two-thirds of Americans think distribution of money and wealth “should be more even.” Our wonderful bankers keep pouring it on to fuel this sentiment.
Citigroup, the unnamed beneficiary of the repeal of Glass Steagall and two-time taxpayer bailout recipient, just agreed to pay a $285 million fine, without, of course, admitting any wrongdoing. As one wag put it, they made Goldman look like Boy Scouts. This violation involved handpicking mortgages guaranteed to fail, bundling and selling them with the attendant triple rating, then immediately betting on their failure. It would seem another case of white-collar fraud with no one in handcuffs. Yes, financial fraud is hard to prove, but an arrest or two, just maybe, would deter this behavior in the future.
The Republicans remain supremely confident of the 2012 election outcome. They have done everything possible to slow the economy. There will be apparently hundreds of millions in advertising from their shadow party of Karl Rove and his confederates. They have gerrymandered the states to the max. The latest example of this ruthlessness is Governor Jan Brewer in Arizona who is forcing out the chair of the independent redistricting commission. Her crime is apparently doing her job. The number of seats up in the Senate favor the GOP. But there is thankfully troubling news in recent polls for the GOP as well. As the President and Hill Democrats up their rhetoric against the “Republican Congress,” just 9% have a favorable view of the institution. Sixty-nine percent think the policies of the GOP favor the “rich” uber alles.
It is a testimony to Romney’s weakness as the GOP candidate that he still cannot break 25% and is tied with Herman Cain and his “campaign/book tour” in a number of GOP primary national polls. Cain obviously will not be the GOP nominee, but will have a nice job with FoxNews and a sinecure with the Koch Brothers. Someone in the Perry campaign or the GOP establishment (paging Karl Rove) decided it was the time to stop Herman. So Politico was handed the sexual harassment charges. The press loves sex scandals and Herman quickly added gasoline to the fire. His raging ego and behavior did him in, not the “Democrat machine.”
The conventional wisdom is that Romney has the nomination wrapped up, though 8 in 10 GOP primary voters have not made up their minds. Romney has been beyond the fortunate with the stumbling performances of each of his rivals. Rick Perry, the only contender with serious money, keeps up his word salad. One bizarre “appearance” in New Hampshire was an immediate Saturday Night Live skit. His deer in the headlights moment in yesterday’s debate will become one this weekend.
The photo on the cover of New York Magazine of Mitt at Bain Capital with dollar bills hanging out of his pocket does not quite fit the cultural movement. A poster with the picture and “Romney-Gekko 2012” underneath is circulating. As the public learns more about the leveraged buyouts and job destruction by Romney and crew at Bain, his resume as a businessman who “understands the economy and job creation” could become a dead weight. Certainly, Ted Kennedy used this to devastating effect when facing Romney in the Senate fight.
Romney is someone, as another pundit said, who might be cast in a Hollywood movie about a president, but only if George Clooney was unavailable. Of course, scriptwriters would find it implausible to have a character change virtually every position on every issue. John Huntsman has an ad up which could have come from the Democrats stating that Romney is a “perfectly lubricated weathervane.” The press will play up the issue of flip-flops, but Romney is far more vulnerable on his jobs record.
In good news, Democratic candidates and policy issues generally fared very well in Tuesday’s election. There were some stunning rebukes of right wing policies and candidates.
This report will cover the Lower Plains and Mississippi states and Texas… and is not a pretty picture.
For decades, St. Louis was the gateway to the frontier west. Lewis and Clark began their journey west here, and it was a crossroads for fur traders, steamboat crews, and pioneers. It also exemplified the battle over slavery as the northernmost confederate state. Throughout the 19th century, as a major rail hub, Missouri grew rapidly. At the turn of the 20th century, the state was the fifth largest in the nation and had 16 congressional districts. Today it has half as many.
The state did see a rise in population in the 1990s – growing 9% – and its population is now just under six million. The African-American population is nearly 12% and the Hispanic population is slowly growing at 3.5%. The state remains more culturally conservative than most other large states. The religious conservatives in the state are plentiful, including Southern Baptists and conservative Catholics.
Even though the state saw neither a large housing boom nor bust in 2008, the current unemployment is high at 8.8%, and the economy has generally followed suit with national trends. Missouri has the second largest number of farms after Texas and is home to one of the largest agriculture conglomerates - the oft-vilified Monsanto. The state has long-been home to major beer companies like Anheuser-Busch, and has long had an aerospace industry including branches of Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The state used to be a political bellwether, but has turned more to the right in recent years. From the 1960s to the 1990s it mirrored national trends by shifting its congressional politics from near solidly Democratic to now leaning Republican. The state’s current governor however is Democrat Jay Nixon, who is up for re-election and remains popular. Nixon’s popularity, in part from popular policy wins and a positive reputation as past Missouri Attorney General, makes him the prohibitive favorite. The current Lt. Governor, who is elected separately, is also Nixon’s opponent for 2012 - Republican Peter Kinder. There are some interesting pictures circulating of Kinder with an exotic dancer, with whom he’s apparently overly friendly. Kinder has slowly dropped in the polls over the past year, and current polls show Nixon leading by 19 points.
Nixon was unable, though, to protect Democratic interests during redistricting. With the loss of a seat, the large Republican majority in the state legislature effectively dismantled one of the Democratic districts. As Dems saw Rep. Russ Carnahan’s St. Louis-based seat eliminated, it could well be a 6:2 Republican outcome in the 2012 House elections. There is some hope that as GOP Rep. Todd Akin vacates to run for Senate, a weak replacement will allow Carnahan to run competitively in Akin’s district.
Missouri has one Senator from each party, Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Roy Blunt. McCaskill will no doubt have a difficult reelection. She is a “centrist,” but faced scandal and hypocrisy recently when her husband was exposed for unpaid taxes on a private, personal jet. McCaskill will simultaneously need to hold on to her urban popularity as a solid Democrat, but convince the rural population that she is very moderate. She will need to separate herself from her husband’s tax scandal and the GOP will be relentless in tying her to Obama.
The top tier of the Republican candidates for McCaskill’s seat include: John Brunner, a local businessman and former board chairman of a health care product company; Rep. Todd Akin; and former Missouri Treasurer, Sarah Steelman. She seems to be leading the pack as GOP favorite, but her fundraising has been fairly anemic for someone who has connections. A September poll has McCaskill only tied Steelman. Though McCaskill may not be a national Democrat’s favorite she is the only hope for Missouri in 2012 to help hold the Senate majority.
The state has voted for every winning president except two from 1904 to 2008. Obama lost the state by less than 4,000 votes, but he will have a tough time coming anywhere close to that in 2012. The President has to hope for an implosion by the GOP nominees. His approval rating in Missouri is 40%, among the low-end nationwide.
In What’s the Matter with Kansas, Thomas Frank wrote, “Kansas may be the land of averageness, but it is a freaky, militant, outraged averageness.” Kansas’ history began with violence set off by the Kansas-Nebraska act of 1854, to determine whether or not the new Kansas territory would be a slave state. “Free-soilers” from New England flowed in, as did pro-slavery settlers, leading to John Brown and “bloody Kansas.” Statehood came seven years later. Kansas remains an agricultural state and it has long been subject to its weather. It experiences some of the deadliest tornadoes as well as occasional bad droughts. Farm rebellions occurred several times since the late 1800s, as did booms and busts in population.
A large portion of the agricultural income is from cattle production, and Hispanics have been increasingly taking jobs in meatpacking. The state had an overall 6% increase in population in the past decade, while the Hispanic population increased 11%.
Ten (of the 105) counties – including the four largest urban areas, Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka and Wichita – claim 66% of the population. The overall unemployment rate is 6.7%, and new office complexes and corporate headquarters are rising around the Kansas City metropolitan area. More than half of the general aviation aircraft in the world is made in Wichita. However, the state ranks in the bottom 25 of median incomes.
Kansas is a Republican state, but Democrats have seen minor victories in Congressional and state elections in the past. In the mid 1990s, there were almost three parties: Right Wing Republicans, conservative Republicans, and Democrats. The split in the state Republicans remains between country club Republicans and lower income Evangelicals, based on cultural battles over abortion rights and evolution education. This created opportunities for Democrats. Witness Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, who won two terms as Governor. But the GOP has since taken back control.
Kansas’ current Governor is ultra-conservative Republican Sam Brownback, who won in the 2010 GOP wave. The state’s two Republican Senators, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, are not up for re-election this year. Kansas holds the record for the longest period of not electing a Democratic U.S. Senator, since 1932. Republicans occupy all four of the state’s House seats.
Both the state House and Senate are Republican dominated by huge margins and redistricting will not change anything. The only glimmer of hope may lie in the greater Kansas City district currently represented by freshman Kevin Yoder. The district is only slightly leaning Republican, and a centrist Democrat has held the seat in the past.
The President has no hope of coming close in Kansas. Any future hope lies with the changing demographics of the Hispanic population.
Oklahoma was settled in two rushes: first in the 1830s by the Five Civilized Tribes driven west by Andrew Jackson, then again in 1889 by the white settlers in the great land rush proclaimed by President Harrison. It grew rapidly after being admitted to the Union in 1907 as farmers and oilmen helped the population grow rapidly. The Depression and drought caused people to flee, and from the 1970s to the 1990s the state’s fortunes and populations were tied to the price of oil. In the 1990s, the state began to diversify its economy with high-tech and service jobs, and the population currently sits at 3.6 million.
Oklahoma City suffered a grievous assault and subsequent rally of support when, in 1995, American Right Wing terrorists, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City killing 168 people and causing massive damage.
The state has the 2nd largest Native American population in the country. They own 6% of businesses and make up about 8% of the population. African Americans and Hispanics have 7% and 9% of the population respectively. Oklahoma has some of the toughest immigration policies in the nation requiring residency to be verified at various checkpoints through law enforcement and state services, and employment. The state has high rates of divorce, teen pregnancy and crime, and a low rate of college grads. Unemployment, however, is low at 5.6%. The recession caused less distress here than other states because the state didn’t have much of a housing bubble.
Oklahoma is a Republican state. The state was once Democratic and elected liberal populists like Fred Harris to the Senate in the 1960s/70s, but it hasn’t voted a Democrat for president since 1964. The state’s governor is Mary Fallin. Conservatives Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn are the state Senators. Neither is up for re-election in 2012. Inhofe is particularly confused about major issues of the day. The state’s House delegation is 4 R, 1 D. Republicans have huge majorities in both the state House and Senate. The state House delegation remains the same after reapportionment. The one Democratic representative, Dan Boren, has the most conservative voting record of any Dem, and is retiring. The Republicans may take the seat. The Presidential race will not be competitive.
Louisiana, settled by the French, is one of the more distinctive states of the Union. It is the only state whose law is not based on English Common Law but on the Napoleonic Code. New Orleans is famous for Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, and a rich, diverse culture.
The state is still reeling from Katrina and the BP oil spill. The hurricane showed the state’s political and economic frailties. The flooding of New Orleans was the result of neglect and poor decisions by public officials over many years. It was a defining moment in the long slide down of the Bush Presidency. African-Americans suffered the most in the aftermath of Katrina, as it took its worst toll on the lower 9th Ward, which was 98% African-American.
The BP oil spill heavily affected tourism and fishing, as well as other coastal businesses, but did little to stop conservative support for offshore drilling. Fishing will suffer for years, as the oil and chemical disbursements work up the food chain.
The state’s economy is a story of natural resources: sugar, rice and cotton in the 19th century, and oil in the 20th. The oil shocks of the 1970s made the state suddenly richer, but as oil prices plummeted in the 1980s, the state never regained much forward momentum. Gambling was legalized in 1991, but didn’t produce as much revenue as initially expected.
The population growth from 1980 to 2005 was 7%, less than any other state in the south. After Katrina, New Orleans lost almost 250,000 residents. It has slowly rebounded, but is still well under pre-Katrina levels. Unemployment has continued to drop throughout 2011, but still stands at 7.2%. Oil and natural gas continue to provide jobs, as do the state’s major agriculture, port and fishing industries. Louisiana, particularly New Orleans, is slowly recovering, but economic growth is halting.
Louisiana has always been known for its easygoing political corruption, symbolized by long-term Governor Edwin Edwards. Laissez les bons temps rouler. The state’s political divide, not surprisingly, is along religious, racial and income lines. One third of its 4.5 million population is African-American (who are mostly urban).
Louisiana has cast an increasing percentage of votes for Republicans in the last four presidential elections. The depopulation of New Orleans makes it more difficult for any Democrat to win statewide. The previously purple state is now red.
Current Governor, Bobby Jindal, the nation’s first Indian-American Governor, is entering his second term in Louisiana. He was touted as a potential 2012 Presidential candidate, but suffered a series of pitfalls. Jindal will still be a Republican to watch in coming national elections, as the party attempts to shift its old-White-people image. The scandal-plagued, Republican Senator David Vitter in 2010 was reelected. Democratic Mary Landrieu, who is one of the three most conservative Democrats in the Senate, is not up for re-election this year.
The state House and Senate are both Republican dominated, and the House delegation from Louisiana is 6:1 Republican. Due to population loss, the state has one fewer House seat, and Republicans controlled the controversial redistricting process. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, the National Urban League, and the NAACP of Louisiana are pushing the DOJ to reject the plan, as it failed to create a second African-American majority district. The Republicans combined the GOP 7th and 3rd districts into one, leaving five solid Republican districts.
Black voters in Louisiana voted 94% for Barack Obama, while White voters, regardless of party, favored McCain, as did the state. Like Arkansas, Louisiana has only voted for southern Democratic Presidential nominees (Carter and Clinton), and no other Democrat since LBJ. Neither Southerner could likely carry Louisiana today.
Arkansas is the smallest state, geographically, between the Pacific and the Mississippi, and it has the smallest population in the South. Of its just-under three million people, 15% are African American and 6% Hispanic. Arkansas is at the bottom for income levels and percentage of college graduates. Unemployment is now fairly high at 8.3%, though the state claims a large agricultural base and other major industries. Tourism is not a big factor but it does boost Hot Springs. With no big boom, it has not suffered as much from the recession. The state is the birthplace of Pentecostal denominations, Wal-Mart and Tyson Foods.
Bill Clinton made Arkansas and its politics famous during the Nineties. Perhaps as a result of this, the state has stayed more Democratic longer than many of its Southern neighbors. The state’s governor is Democrat Mike Beebe who replaced Fox News’ Mike Huckabee. The state’s Senators are from different parties, Mark Pryor (D) and John Boozman (R). The state once sent notables to the Senate like Bill Fulbright and later liberals Dale Bumpers and David Pryor (the current Senator’s father). There is no Senate or Gubernatorial race in Arkansas in 2012.
Democrats control both the state Senate and House, with Republicans in control, 3:1, of the Congressional delegation. There is no change in the number of seats. State Democrats controlled redistricting, and Arkansas was the first state in the nation to complete the job. The Democrats compromised on the plan, not making much change, but they are at risk of losing their one seat with the retirement of Democratic Representative Mike Ross, who is gearing up for the gubernatorial race in 2014.
Ross’ district leans Republican, and voted 37% for Obama in 2008. Both the leading candidates are in the GOP primary - Tom Cotton, a Dardanelle management consultant and Army veteran, and Beth Anne Rankin, former Miss Arkansas who worked with Governor Huckabee. The Democrats have one declared candidate, State Senator Gene Jeffress. Obama only garnered 39% of the vote in 2008. 2012 will likely be worse.
Poor farmers and soldiers founded Texas in order to establish their own Republic that included slavery. One New Englander wrote in 1845 that Texans were “an unprincipled population of adventurers.” It emerged young and poor from the Civil War, and it wasn’t until 1901 when oil was discovered that the state started to grow.
Texas is the second largest state in size (after Alaska) and in population (after California). It saw over 20% population growth in the last decade. Of its 25 million people 11% are African-American, and not surprisingly for such a large border state, 38% are Latino. This is a 5% increase in Latino population since 2000, and the number will continue to rise – a fact of obvious importance to Democrats. Karl Rove moved the Republicans to more Hispanic friendly policies, but that is now evaporating.
The economy was originally based on agricultural commodities (mainly cotton), but when oil was discovered the state became the nation’s leading oil producer. It is not only a major oil and natural gas producer in the world; it is also a center for refinery experts, financiers, and others who power the industry. The state’s economy began to diversify when Texans politicians in Washington (particularly LBJ) helped secure defense and space contracts. The state’s “business friendly” policies help attract corporate headquarters like American Airlines, JC Penny and Exxon Mobil.
Metro Dallas-Fort Worth is rich with defense contracts and firms that have grown due to exports to Mexico. Houston is home to global oil services companies, and many high-tech spin-offs from the space program and the massive Texas Medical Center. Austin with its younger more liberal population has become a high-tech center second only to California’s Silicon Valley. Surprisingly, Texas also produces more energy from wind power than any other state – more than twice as much as California. Its GOP politicians nonetheless continue to deny climate change even amid a record drought, months-long 100-degree temperatures, and fires engulfing the state this summer.
It has a decent state university system with an oil endowment for the flagship University of Texas. The state’s low housing prices, tight lending practices and tough foreclosure laws meant there was little housing bubble. The state has good job growth rates, which is the pretext of Rick Perry’s imploding presidential campaign. From 2007 to 2010, “the nation lost nearly 7 million jobs, while Texas gained 300,000.” But many of the jobs were low paying, with no benefits at all. Its unemployment rate is below the national average at 8.5%, but is double what it was in 2007. The state trails the national median in many indices of social welfare.
Texas is a religious state, with many Catholic Latino newcomers and, of course, conservative Southern Baptists. Most Texas voters stayed Democratic until 1970 – mostly because of “Confederate memories, New Deal affections and the competence of state Democrats.” The state is now predominantly Republican. The Cook Report sums up its current political profile: “Republicans hold all 29 statewide elective offices, including the entire state Supreme Court, and have large margins in both houses of the state legislature. They have carried the state in the last eight presidential elections, starting in 1980, and have won every Gubernatorial election but one since 1986 and every U.S. Senate election since 1990.” However, expanding Latino and African American population in the Metro Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas could be a boon to Democrats in coming years. Demography will be destiny and Texas will become more purple.
Molly Ivins famously said, “In Texas, we do not hold high expectations for the [Governor’s] office; it’s mostly been occupied by crooks, dorks and the comatose.” Governor Rick Perry, who has held the office since W. left it, is no exception. After W.’s Presidency, as the late Ms. Ivins noted, “The next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please, pay attention.” Rolling Stone just published a devastating expose of the corruption in the Texas “Pay-to-Play” government of Rick Perry.
Even as he erases the memory of the racist epithets that adorned his family’s hunting lodge, the Tea Party faithful are outraged that he is not more draconian on immigration. Perry still has $15 million plus to dump into negative ads against Romney, but his fundraising will now be, shall we shall, difficult.
Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison (the first woman to represent Texas in the Senate) are both Republicans, and Hutchison is retiring this year. Perry destroyed her in the 2010 GOP Gubernatorial primary. Topping the Republican primary roster are former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. The strongest Democratic candidate so far is retired Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. Sanchez, 57, hails from Rio Grande, attended Texas A&M and went on to become decorated General. A recent poll showed Dewhurst beating Sanchez by 15 points, but it’s still early and Democrats need to campaign hard in the state for the future. GOP dominance is starting to slip naturally because they totally control government. So there is no one else to blame.
The state’s House delegation is 23Republicans to 9Democrats as a result of the outrageous mid-decade redistricting engineered by Tom DeLay. Texas gained four new seats, and the GOP built a map on that ridiculous version, going one further by dividing Austin into multiple districts to deprive Democrat Lloyd Doggett of a district. Latinos in the state quickly challenged the map. The Justice Department agreed with the plaintiffs and the Federal Courts will now draw the lines. Democratic fortunes depend on the contours. Democrats’ chances of retaking of the House likely depend on a favorable outcome here, and the party could pick up three seats.
While religious evangelicalism is strong, religion statistically plays a less significant role in younger and more educated generations. But the religious right has outsized influence with the GOP as witnessed by Rick Perry and his stadium prayer-a-thon to kick off his race. In Presidential politics, Texas even rejected neighbor Bill Clinton. It has not voted for a Democrat since LBJ. Obama lost here in 2008, and his campaign will spend little effort here in 2012.
Finally, Molly Ivins again, “I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults.”
Key to Avoiding a Recession - State Owned Bank and Slow Growth. Oh and oil too.
What’s in North Dakota? Nooooo, not Mt. Rushmore. That’s South Dakota. North Dakota has a little over half a million people and plenty of wide open spaces. Some of the highest yields of agricultural mainstays like wheat, oats, sugar beets. The nation’s lowest unemployment rate (3.5%) and a $1 billion state budget surplus.
It is also the only state with a state owned bank, the Bank of North Dakota in Bismarck, and it did not engage in subprime lending. Since the credit crisis, seven other states have introduced measures to follow North Dakota’s model. North Dakota escaped the bust partly because of this local model that was more stable, required no bail out, and continues to loan to the local economy. With little taxation or regulation, Forbes considers North Dakota the perfect place for entrepreneurs.
Oh yeah. North Dakota also has lots and lots of energy resources.
"I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults." -Molly Ivins
Which state is only second in size to Alaska, second in population to California, picked up the most new seats in the House of Representatives (4) and where Latinos will outnumber Whites by 2020?
You guessed it, Lone Star.
Almost 90 percent of the state’s growth was from minorities. (National Journal)
The National Journal also noted - back in February - that
Texas is a majority-minority state for the first time in a redistricting period, according to just-released census data, a fact that could complicate Republicans’ hopes for a partisan gerrymander—and make the state competitive for Democrats in future years.
This is interesting because of the state’s four new seats, the vast majority of which is attributable to the growth in Hispanics, guess how many ended up in Hispanic communities? No. One more than you thought. 1.
Who is Gerry Anyway and What is He Doing in Maryland?
As a tree falls in the forest and Hamlet ponders existentialism, so too do I ask the wind, “Could a politician be successful in modern day America without corruption?”
Maryland’s Democratic state politicians are considered blatant gerrymanderers, and their attempts to gain more seats in the Republican controlled House is leading to a violation of the Voters Rights Act. I will attempt to dilute their offense, though still an offense, and ask you, “Is it better to rob Peter to pay Paul, or to go hungry?”