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TomCADem

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Member since: Fri May 8, 2009, 12:59 AM
Number of posts: 7,175

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Georgia Republicans look to cut early voting again

Source: MSNBC

Georgia Republicans look set to significantly cut their state’s early voting period — the latest fallout from the Supreme Court’s crippling of the Voting Rights Act.

A legislative committee voted on party lines last week to advance a bill that would shorten Georgia’s early voting period to 12 days, from a current maximum of 21 days. It would also bar counties from offering more than four hours of voting on weekends. The state’s early voting period was already cut dramatically just four years ago.

The new move comes after a 2014 election in which 44% of voters — disproportionately minorities — cast their ballot early. Many counties, responding to popular demand, offered Sunday voting for the first time.

* * *
Republicans control Georgia’s government. And if the early voting cuts pass, as expected, the federal government will be powerless to stop them, thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County ruling. Until then, most southern states, including Georgia, had to get new voting laws approved by the Justice Department before they could go into effect. Since that requirement was neutered, numerous southern states and localities have moved ahead with restrictive voting laws.

Read more: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/georgia-republicans-look-cut-early-voting-again

Calls increase for Ginsburg to recuse herself in same-sex marriage case

Source: MSNBC

As the nation awaits a Supreme Court hearing that many believe will establish a constitutional right for gay and lesbian couples to legally wed, a growing number of conservatives are calling for one of the most liberal justices on the bench to recuse herself.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) on Friday became the latest anti-gay group to demand that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg bow out of the upcoming hearing on marriage equality. Essentially, the group’s argument is that because the 81-year-old justice has already made her opinion on same-sex marriage clear, she should not be allowed to offer it in what will likely be a landmark civil rights case. But Ginsburg, legal experts note, is far from the only justice to hint at what that case will bring.

Both Ginsburg, and Justice Elena Kagan — another member of the high court’s liberal wing — have presided at weddings for same-sex couples. And in an interview with Bloomberg Business last Wednesday, Ginsburg said that it “would not take a large adjustment” for Americans to get used to nationwide marriage equality.

Those remarks were arguably based on facts. The number of voters who support same-sex marriage has steadily risen in recent years, according to Gallup, with 55% of poll respondents stating last May that they believed marriage between same-sex couples should be recognized as valid by the law.

Read more: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/calls-increase-ginsburg-recuse-herself-same-sex-marriage-case



Scalia can go duck hunting with Cheney, and there is no problem with Clarance Thomas's wife being an active member of the Tea Party. But, I guess a different set of rules applies to right wing men, then women who many would consider to be left of center at best.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to cut $45 million in public-school funding

Source: MSNBC

Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s aggressive tax cuts have come back to haunt him. In the latest move to make up for a massive state deficit caused by his economic policy, Brownback plans to cut nearly $45 million in funding for public schools and higher education in his state by March.

Brownback shared his plans for the current budget cycle on Thursday ahead of a Senate vote on a bill aimed at eradicating a $344 million deficit projected for the end of June. More than half of the money would be taken from funding for K-12 schools, and take place as soon as March 7, The Associated Press reported. The cut would also affect Kansas colleges and universities. Top Republicans said lawmakers need to agree on a solution to fix the budget by Feb. 13 to make sure the state pays its bills on time through the summer months.

Brownback spent his first term slashing taxes for the rich, promising it would lead to boom times for everyone else. Brownback’s “real live experiment” was supposed to lift Kansas out of the recession and into economic prosperity. The tax breaks instead led to debt downgrades, weak growth, and left the state finances in shambles. The Republican-led legislature in his state previously celebrated his massive tax cuts, but his action landed the state’s budget in shambles when it didn’t boost the economy like he’d hoped.

* * *
The governor, along with the state legislature, cut budgets for schools so much in the past that the Kansas Supreme Court last year declared school funding levels unconstitutional.


Read more: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/kansas-gov-sam-brownback-cut-45-million-public-school-funding



Welcome to Kansas, the right wing, supply side utopia.

Health Spending Has Lowest Rate Increase on Record

Source: U.S. News and World Report

The U.S. is spending more on health care every year, but last year the growth rate in medical spending was the lowest on record, a change government researchers are attributing both to the economy and to various health care policy implementations, including Obamacare.

The Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services presented the findings at a Health Affairs event Wednesday at the National Press Club in the nation's capital. The increase in spending on health care in 2013 was at 3.6 percent, lower than it has ever been since 1960, when the government began tracking the figure. Total spending on health care increased to $2.9 trillion, or $9,255 per person.

The government researchers found that health care spending slowed by half a percentage point from 2012 to 2013 – a change they attribute to a slower growth in private health insurance and Medicare spending. Slower growth in spending for hospital care, investments in medical structures and equipment, and spending for doctors and clinical care also contributed to the low overall increase, states the Health Affairs report.

Still, the economy played a significant part in the outcomes, which even before reaching the lowest record last year did not grow above 4.1 percent from 2009 to 2013. The low rate of health spending falls in concert with slow overall economic growth since 2009, or what is considered to be the end of the great recession. In fact, that year showed the next-lowest increase in health spending, at 3.8 percent. Since that time, share of gross domestic product on health care has remained at 17.4 percent.

Read more: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/12/03/health-spending-has-lowest-rate-increase-on-record



This should be bigger news, but many corporate news outlets are reporting this simply as Health Spending Increases, which is totally misleading! The passage of the ACA was supposed to start "bending the cost curve," which it has,

Is The News of Economic Weakness and Unease Corporate Propaganda?

On the one hand, corporate profits are up, unemployment is down, stock market is up, oil prices are down, sales are up, etc. In other words, according to the traditional metrics are that the economy is growing and continuing to grow. Yet, we also here news through the narrative of the unease of Americans with the economy and that they are hurting and uneasy despite the statistics that appear far better than during most of the Bush years when things seemed to be in a state of precipitous decline.

My wonder is whether the economic narrative is actually designed to keep workers docile? In other words, despite the fact that corporate profits are booming, don't ask for a raise or an increase in benefits because it is a tough world out there, and we can replace you in a moment. Also, ignore the unemployment numbers because there is are uncounted unemployed who will quickly take your job. Put another way, is the repeated narrative of economic unease designed to keep American workers fearful about demanding higher wages and better benefits?

That way, as the economy grows, profits go to the 1 percent, since they do not actually have any increased costs due to higher wages, since workers are fearful of asking for their fair share, since it is a tough economy out there despite the lower unemployment, stronger US dollar, increased sales, etc. Oh by the way, vote for a Republican Congress, because things are terrible and while you are at it buy some gold from Glenn Beck, because inflation is going to shoot up....some day...

So, the corporate news narrative operates to reinforce the stagnation in working class wages, because it keeps workers docile from demanding their fair share of a growing economy.

Media’s awful right-wing fetish: Why pundit calls for Obama centrism are deluded

The thing is that even liberals buy into this narrative that is designed to troll and exagerate splits between Democrats by arguing that President Obama should, of course, move more the right away from the left members of his party. Of course, this ignores the recent election where many Democrats in contested races ran to the right of the President! Nonetheless, watch as the media ignores Republican inaction and posturing on immigration, and buys into Republican efforts to paint the Presidents efforts to keep families intact in the enforcement of immigration laws as executive overreach.

http://www.salon.com/2014/11/19/medias_awful_right_wing_fetish_why_pundit_calls_for_obama_centrism_are_deluded/

On Monday we had Politico telling us President Obama needed Sen. Mitch McConnell to “save his legacy.” Wednesday the National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar takes his turn defining Obama’s legacy, explaining that Obama has big bad plans to “advance his legacy … at the expense of the Democratic Party’s long-term health.”

The problem with these narratives is that they leave the definition of Obama’s desired “legacy” in the hands of pundits not well qualified to define it. And both pieces posit that Obama and his party are at cross purposes: What’s good for one is bad for the other.

* * *

Predictably, Kraushaar is riding the pony of false equivalence. Early in the piece he reveals “the dirty secret in Washington.” Wait for it: “While Obama (rightly) blamed Republicans for holding positions to the right of the American electorate, the president is pursuing policies that are equally as far to the left.” You can be forgiven if you stopped reading there.

* * *

What these “legacy” pieces have in common is the fiction that securing a positive legacy for the Democratic president requires centrist compromise with Republicans, nothing else. Never mind that Obama delivered an important new social democratic program in the ACA, brought the country out of what might have been a second Great Depression and crafted imperfect but decent financial services reforms. Those are the things that historians will define as his legacy. Cozying up to Mitch McConnell or Joe Manchin won’t merit a footnote.

Eric Alternman - "Midterm Media Meltdown"

Nice piece from Eric Alternman that goes behind the corporate media's rightward turn of the electorate/return of "mainstream" Republicans narrative.

http://www.thenation.com/article/190505/midterm-media-meltdown#

One problem with the answers to the above is that they reside in phenomena that are complex and multifaceted, while our media insist on a narrative that is simple and straightforward. To be fair, some of the weaknesses of our system fall into the category of “It was ever thus.” Turnout is always anemic in midterms; the president’s party almost always loses in his sixth year. And while it’s true that Republican state legislatures have shamelessly gerrymandered their election maps to the party’s advantage, the distribution of the population would likely ensure a Republican House majority anyway, given the way that conservatives spread themselves across the rural areas and liberals crowd themselves into the cities.

* * *
Finally, the 2014 election coverage suffered even more than usual from the mainstream media’s inability to admit the degree to which the Republican Party has been captured by a fringe element with an unshakable commitment to ideological fantasy. As Heather Digby Parton notes in Salon, Iowa’s new senator-elect, Joni Ernst, professes to believe “in the fringe constitutional theory called ‘nullification,’ has told audiences that she’s ready to take up arms against the government, and thinks a 20-year-old U.N. resolution to encourage nations to use fewer resources called Agenda 21 is a threat to the American way of life.” (A spokesperson has denied that Ernst supports nullification.) But as Norm Ornstein reports, The Washington Post almost completely ignored her nutty notions: “A Nexis search shows that the Post has had four references to Ernst and Agenda 21—all by Greg Sargent on his blog from the left, The Plum Line, and none on the news pages of the paper.” Receiving far more coverage was her opponent’s argument with his neighbor over some chickens. The Times, too, made no mention of Agenda 21, but seven of the chickens. (On MSNBC, Luke Russert’s issueless reporting explained Ernst’s appeal with the assertion that she was “trying to ride this popular charisma” into statewide office.)

As Ornstein demonstrates, Ernst was hardly alone in benefitting from her bizarre beliefs being whitewashed for her by the mainstream media. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said in a telephone town hall: “Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico, who have clearly shown they’re willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism. They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas.” In this case, the Post did run a fact-check column by Glenn Kessler on Cotton’s assertion, but not a single news story. The Times made no mention of it whatever.

The whitewash was especially thick this year because the narrative of the night was that the Tea Party had been defeated and the GOP was back in the hands of its far more responsible “establishment.” In fact, much closer to the truth is that the lunatics are now running the asylum… and, rather frighteningly, both houses of Congress.

Landrieu v Cassidy - How Liberals and Working Class Are Fooled By The Media Narrative

The corporate media has repeatedly pushed the narratives:

1. That the President is unpopular and politically toxic.
2. That Democrats are running away from President Obama and his policies.

Only stories that fit in this narrative are portrayed. Stories that are inconsistent with this narrative are ignored. This narrative fulls the public, including liberals, into apathy with the meme that Democrats' only platform is that they are not President Obama. In the meantime, as Bernie Sanders explained issues of relevance to the people are ignored. This is why voters could manage to vote for Republicans who are against the minimum wage while also supporting propositions raising the minimum wage,

If you look at the Landrieu race, you see thread after thread on this Board calling Senator Landrieu a DINO based entirely on her position on the Keystone pipeline, which should not be surprising since LA is one of the States that would likely benefit from the pipeline even though most other states would not benefit.

However, there are issues beyond the pipeline, and it is clear that there is a world of difference between Landrieu and Cassidy. Many of folks have insisted, even on Democratic Underground, that it would not make a difference if Cassidy beats Landrieu. The ignorance of this line of argument is exposed by the summary below of the candidate's stated positions on the issues. Some will argue why haven't we hard this? Perhaps it is because it just does not fit the media narrative that (1) Democrats are running away from President Obama and Democratic priorities and (2) that there just isn't that much difference between Democrats and Republicans. Look at how the mainstream media largely ignored the extreme positions states by Joni Erst in the Iowa race.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/campus-election-engagement-project/mary-landrieu-vs-bill-cas_b_6014592.html

Budget: Did you support raising the Federal debt ceiling with no strings attached?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Campaign Finance: Do you support the DISCLOSE Act, which would require key funders of political ads to put their names on those ads?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Campaign Finance: Do you support the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allowed unlimited independent political expenditures by corporations and unions?
Landrieu: No
Cassidy: Unknown

Economy: Do you support raising the minimum wage?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Economy: Do you support extending unemployment benefits beyond 26 weeks?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Economy: Do you support the Dodd-Frank Act, which established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and sought to increase regulation of Wall Street corporations and other financial institutions?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Economy: Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: Yes

Education: Do you support refinancing of student loans at lower rates, paid for by increasing taxes on income over a million dollars?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: Unknown

Environment: Do you believe that human activity is a major factor contributing to climate change?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Environment: Do you support government action to limit the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Environment: Do you support government mandates and/or subsidies for renewable energy?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: Yes

Gay Marriage: Do you support gay marriage?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Gun Control: Do you support enacting more restrictive gun control legislation?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Healthcare: Do you support repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare?
Landrieu: No
Cassidy: Yes. Also authored bill permitting people to keep insurance policies that didn't meet the coverage standards of the law.

Healthcare: Did you support shutting down the federal government in order to defund Obamacare in 2013?
Landrieu: No
Cassidy: Yes

Immigration: Do you support the D.R.E.A.M. Act, which would allow children brought into the country illegally to achieve legal status if they've graduated from high school, have a clean legal record, and attend college or serve in the military?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Immigration: Do you support the comprehensive immigration plan passed by the Senate in 2013, which includes a pathway to citizenship and increased funding for border security?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Social Issues: Should abortion be highly restricted?
Landrieu: No, although supports ban on late-term abortions
Cassidy: Yes

Social Issues: Should employers be able to withhold contraceptive coverage from employees if they disagree with it morally?
Landrieu: No
Cassidy: Yes

Social Issues: Should Planned Parenthood receive public funds for non-abortion health services?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No

Social Security: Do you support partial privatization of Social Security?
Landrieu: No
Cassidy: Unknown

Taxes: Have you signed the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge to oppose any tax increases to raise revenue? (The answer to this question is taken from the database of signatories of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, created by Americans for Tax Reform. Signers to the pledge promise to oppose "any and all tax increases" meant to generate additional revenue.)
Landrieu: No
Cassidy: Yes

Taxes: Would you increase taxes on corporations and/or high-income individuals to pay for public services?
Landrieu: Yes
Cassidy: No. See above




Why do "fans" of Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy Oppose Mary Landrieu, Begich & McCaskill?

Immediately after the election, we saw posts saying that we need to bring back Howard Dean and his 50 State Strategy. I agree. But, many of the same folks who are in favor of this strategy simultaneously express indifference if not hostility toward Democratic Senators from Purple or Red States like Begich, McCaskill, Manchin or Landrieu. For example, Manchin is very pro-coal, which should not be surprising, since he is from a coal producing State that employs many people in the coal industry. Likewise, Landrieu is very supportive of petroleum industry, which is not surprising since she is from Lousiana.

Back around 2008, I remember many progressives complaining about Howard Dean's 50 State strategy and the types of Democrats he attracted such as former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, a former Republican. Jim Webb was very pro-military, which again should not be surprising since he is from Virginia, a State with a lot of defense contractors. It is contradiction to say that one supports Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy of trying to expand into purple or red States, but also insist on ideological purity. Heck, one need look no further than Scott Brown or even Mitt Romney to see how Republicans themselves are willing to bend their so-called rock hard philosophical stances in the interest of electoral expediency.

My personal take is that it is far easier for Democrats to make progress with Senators like Landrieu, Manchin or McCaskill who are supportive of industries that are strong in their respective States, then it is to deal with Republican Senators from such States who have no incentive whatsoever to cut a deal or compromise with Democrats. I support Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy. I also understand that to pursue it, you are not going to be successful fielding a Henry Waxman clone in West Virginia in pursuit of West Virginia's mythical anti-coal progressives.





Republicans vow EPA fight as Obama touts China climate deal

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) - Republican congressional leaders on Wednesday wasted no time in criticizing what they called President Barack Obama's "one-sided" climate deal with China, using the announcement to declare war on the administration's plan to use executive actions to combat carbon emissions.

In brokering a high-profile pact with China, the Obama administration knew it would preempt one of the most often-cited arguments Republicans have used to argue against mandatory domestic carbon cuts: China will continue to pollute unabated.

But even with China vowing to curb its carbon, Republicans were quick to question the validity of China's headline-grabbing pledge and used the announcement to rally the party as it prepares to lead Congress by promising to do what it can to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency, whose rules will achieve the bulk of promised emissions cuts.

"As we enter a new Congress, I will do everything in my power to rein in and shed light on the EPA's unchecked regulations,” said Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, a climate change skeptic and critic of U.N. climate talks who will become the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in January.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/12/us-china-usa-climatechange-mcconnell-idUSKCN0IW1TZ20141112



If it were Democrats who opposing this climate deal, I bet Chuck Todd would be saying they were disqualified from governing. But they are Republicans, so we give them a free pass.
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