Daily Archive: 06/04/2012

Jun 04 2012

Wisconsin Recall: Vote Tomorrow

The vote to recall Wisconsin’s Republican Tea Party Governor Scott Walker is tomorrow. The latest Public Policy Polling results has his challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett with a slight lead over Walker:

   PPP’s final poll on the Wisconsin recall finds Scott Walker ahead, but also a race that’s tightening. Walker leads Tom Barrett 50-47. That’s down from 50-45 on a PPP poll conducted three weeks ago and it’s also down from a 52-45 lead that Walker posted in a Marquette Law poll released last week.

   Barrett is actually winning independent voters by a 48-46 margin. The reason he continues to trail overall is that Republicans are more excited about voting in Tuesday’s election than Democrats are. Our projected electorate voted for Barack Obama by only 7 points, even though he took the state by 14 in 2008. If the folks who turn out on Tuesday actually matched the 2008 electorate, Barrett would be ahead of Walker by a 50-49 margin. It’s cliche but this is a race that really is going to completely come down to turnout.

This week’s Up with Chris Hayes devoted its first segments to what is at stake for not only Wisconsin but the rest of the country.

The battle for Wisconsin

Up with Chris Hayes panelists Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee; Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers; Michelle Bernard, founder, president and CEO of The Bernard Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy; and Bob Herbert, former New York Times columnist and now a distinguished senior fellow at the progressive think tank Demos, discuss the ferocious recall election in Wisconsin, and its implications for national politics.

John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, joins thepanel to talk about the tidal wave of dark money flowing in from special interests in the Wisconsin recall election.

Jun 04 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: This Republican Economy

What should be done about the economy? Republicans claim to have the answer: slash spending and cut taxes. What they hope voters won’t notice is that that’s precisely the policy we’ve been following the past couple of years. Never mind the Democrat in the White House; for all practical purposes, this is already the economic policy of Republican dreams.

So the Republican electoral strategy is, in effect, a gigantic con game: it depends on convincing voters that the bad economy is the result of big-spending policies that President Obama hasn’t followed (in large part because the G.O.P. wouldn’t let him), and that our woes can be cured by pursuing more of the same policies that have already failed.

For some reason, however, neither the press nor Mr. Obama’s political team has done a very good job of exposing the con.

(emphasis mine)

New York Times Editorial: Whose Welfare?

Every week the campaign dollars pile up, by the tens of millions, by the hundreds of millions, to a level never before seen in American political life. Outside groups now say they plan to spend $1 billion on behalf of Republicans in the November election, which will probably be twice the level raised by groups supporting Democrats. Even the slush-funders of the Watergate era would have been slack-jawed at the number of seven- and eight-figure checks pouring into groups with names like Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity.

The reason for these staggering numbers – and for the growing imbalance between the parties – is that the vast financial power of the business world has been loosed as a political tool by the federal courts. In pursuit of lower taxes and less regulation, businesses, led by the United States Chamber of Commerce, are determined to remove President Obama from office and return full control of Congress to the Republican Party. Executives and companies are the principal source of the unlimited checks that are fueling the rise of these outside groups.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: A Campaign Without Ideology: Profile of a Unicorn

What might a reasonable, constructive presidential campaign look like?

To ask the question invites immediate dissent because we probably can’t even agree across philosophical or political lines what “reasonable” and “constructive” mean.

But let’s try an experiment: Can we at least reach consensus on the sort of debate between now and November that could help us solve some of our problems?  I’ll let you in on the outcome in advance: Ideology quickly gets in the way of even this modest effort.  

Will Hutton: The Facts Are Clear: This Cruel Austerity Experiment Has Failed

While the human cost of economic stupidity is all too visible, the world’s leaders are paralyzed by their dogma

Last week was an awesome warning of where go-it-alone austerity can lead. It produced some brutal evidence of where we end up when we place finance above economy and society. The markets are now betting not just on the break-up of the euro but on the arrival of a new economic dark age. The world economy is edging nearer to the abyss, and policymakers, none more than in Britain, are paralyzed by the stupidities of their home-spun economics. Yanis Varoufakis, ex-speechwriter for former Greek prime minister George Papandreou and now an economics professor in the US, said last week: “There is precisely zero chance of austerity working. It is the same as thinking you can escape from gravity by waving your arms up and down.”

It could hardly be more sobering. Money has flooded out of Spain, Greece and the peripheral European economies. Signs of the crisis range from Athen’s soup kitchens to Spain’s crowds of indignados protesting in the streets against austerity and a broken capitalism. Youth unemployment is sky-high. Less visible is the avalanche of money flowing into hoped-for safe havens in the US, Germany and even Britain. The last time the British government could sell government bonds at interest rates as low as today’s was in the early 1700s.

Charles M. Blow: Darkness in the Sunshine State

Florida ought to know better. And must do better, particularly on the issue of voting and discrimination.

But, then again, we are talking about Florida, the state of Bush v. Gore infamy and the one that will celebrate the birthday of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederacy, with a statewide holiday on Sunday.

What am I getting at? This: Few states in the union have done more in recent years to restrict and suppress voting – particularly by groups who lean Democratic, such as young people, the poor and minorities – than Florida.

John Nichols: Progressive Faith Renewed by Recall Vote

Last Saturday, when my mom and I drove into the valley where our ancestors settled more than a century and a half ago, we were greeted by a huge “Barrett — June 5” sign.

Hand-painted with care, in Wisconsin red and white, and displayed in front of a farmhouse on the turn that leads into Wyoming Valley, it was a powerful reminder that June 5’s Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election has its roots in the rural regions and small towns of the state.

That’s where the progressive movement of a century ago took shape. This was the movement for which my great-grandfather and his friend John Blaine campaigned in Boscobel and Blue River, in Lone Rock and Spring Green and across the farm country of Grant, Lafayette, Richland and Iowa counties.

Jun 04 2012

On This Day In History June 4

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

June 4 is the 155th day of the year (156th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 210 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1919, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

The Nineteenth Amendment‘s text was drafted by Susan B. Anthony with the assistance of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The proposed amendment was first introduced in the U.S. Senate colloquially as the “Anthony Amendment”, by Senator Aaron A. Sargent of California. Sargent, who had met and befriended Anthony on a train ride in 1872, was a dedicated women’s suffrage advocate. He had frequently attempted to insert women’s suffrage provisions into unrelated bills, but did not formally introduce a constitutional amendment until January 1878. Stanton and other women testified before the Senate in support of the amendment. The proposal sat in a committee until it was considered by the full Senate and rejected in a 16 to 34 vote in 1887.

A three-decade period known as “the doldrums” followed, during which the amendment was not considered by Congress and the women’s suffrage movement achieved few victories. During this period, the suffragists pressed for the right to vote in the laws of individual states and territories while retaining the goal of federal recognition. A flurry of activity began in 1910 and 1911 with surprise successes in Washington and California. Over the next few years, most western states passed legislation or voter referenda enacting full or partial suffrage for women. These successes were linked to the 1912 election, which saw the rise of the Progressive and Socialist parties, as well as the election of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson. Not until 1914 was the constitutional amendment again considered by the Senate, where it was again rejected.

On January 12, 1915, a proposal to amend the Constitution to provide for women’s suffrage was brought before the House of Representatives, but was defeated by a vote of 204 to 174. Another proposal was brought before the House on January 10, 1918. During the previous evening, President Wilson made a strong and widely published appeal to the House to pass the amendment. It was passed by the required two-thirds of the House, with only one vote to spare. The vote was then carried into the Senate. Wilson again made an appeal, but on September 30, 1918, the proposal fell two votes short of passage. On February 10, 1919, it was again voted upon and failed by only one vote.

There was considerable desire among politicians of both parties to have the proposal made part of the Constitution before the 1920 general elections, so the President called a special session of the Congress so the proposal would be brought before the House again. On May 21, 1919, it passed the House, 42 votes more than necessary being obtained. On June 4, 1919, it was brought before the Senate and, after a long discussion, it was passed with 56 ayes and 25 nays. Within a few days, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan ratified the amendment, their legislatures being in session. Other states followed suit at a regular pace, until the amendment had been ratified by 35 of the necessary 36 state legislatures. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee narrowly approved the Nineteenth Amendment, with 50 of 99 members of the Tennessee House of Representatives voting yes. This provided the final ratification necessary to enact the amendment.

Jun 04 2012

Pique the Geek 20120603: Fireflies

‘Tis the time of the season here in the Bluegrass for fireflies (or, as we used to call them at home in Arkansas, lightening bugs).  Fireflies are an amazingly large group of insects, and are found on all continents except Antarctica.

The experts still can not agree how to categorize them systematically, so we will just touch on their classification.  It is important, however, to place them within the insects at least to a zero order approximation.

I got to thinking about them the other night when my dear friend and her little girl were in their yard next door trying to catch the few that were already flying.  Next week it is supposed to be warmer, so the three of us may be able to spend some quality time together catching them, and letting them go, of course, after The Little Girl goes to bed.

Jun 04 2012

As Faust said: “When concepts fail, words arise.” by Don Mikulecky

The remainder of the title would not fit: “The destruction of language in politics”.  The series this is a part of has the labels:Anti-capitalist meet-up and anti-capitalism.  No better a way to introduce my topic.  Those are “buzz words” and have been around for a very long time.  What do they mean?  I would guess that the vast majority of the people who use these words along with “communism”, “socialism”, “democracy” , “freedom”, liberty”and many others have no real idea what they are talking about.  Political exchanges are the “good guys” and the “bad guys” just like in our Western movies.  But many of us are more sophisticated or at least we think we are.  Read the diaries here and you will be able to see what I am getting at.  Language is a very interesting thing.  We have dictionaries and now the Google and Wikipedia sources for word meanings.  The technology is racing ahead faster than we can comprehend.  Umberto Eco calls it the modern magic.  We use it like magic not really knowing how it works or where it originates.  This diary is meant to blow your mind.  It comes from the strange creature I am, a hybrid between scientist (but very unconventional), political activist (but very radical and unconventional) and citizen of the world rather than of a Nation.  Oh yes I am an American citizen because that’s the way things have to be at this point in time.  It will change, but I will be dead.  When I die I cease to exist. I am 76 now.  If I haven’t turned you off yet read on below.  I hope to shock you.

Jun 04 2012

Sunday Train: Steel Interstates & An America That Can Do Big Things

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Steel Interstate (noun): A Network of Electrified Heavy and Rapid Rail corridors that will allow the United States to remain a sovereign national economy.

Integrated into the Steel Interstates are Electricity Superhighways to connect Renewable Energy Resource areas to each other, to substantially increase the stability of the available Renewable Energy Supply, and to Energy Consumers, to ensure that no rich Renewable Electricity Resource goes untapped for lack of access to a electricity markets.

This is something that the United States should do. Depending on the twists and turns of international energy markets in the coming decades, it may be something the United States must do, to remain a coherent national economy.

If the efforts of Big Oil and Big Coal are successful, it is the kind of thing that America will not be able to do.

Yet, I believe it is something that the United States actually can do.