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The Man Who Filibustered Himself — How Mitch McConnell Became Laughing Stock of Capitol Hill

The Man Who Filibustered Himself — How Mitch McConnell Became Laughing Stock of Capitol Hill | Politicality | Scoop.it

The Senate minority leader is a known tactician, but in misjudging the Democratic hand he may have weakened his fiscal-cliff position.


by Shane Goldmacher and Elahe Izadi, National Journal


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was for a vote to grant the president power to hike the debt limit before he was against it.

Within a matter of hours on Thursday, the Republican leader was furiously backpedaling from his own move to force a vote on President Obama's request for unlimited future borrowing authority. McConnell demanded such a vote in the morning, but by afternoon Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had called his counterpart's bluff and pressed for an up-or-down vote himself.


"I object," said McConnell.


It was a rare strategic misstep for a man often described as one of the Senate's most guiling tacticians. In a week of posturing and positioning on Capitol Hill, people on both sides of the aisle acknowledged that McConnell's failed maneuver cost the GOP some precious negotiating ground. The question was how much.


The debt ceiling is widely believed to be Republicans' strongest point of leverage in the ongoing fiscal-cliff negotiations. Although technically not part of the package of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes that will go into place on January 1, Congress is expected to need to approve new borrowing authority by late winter. President Obama wants to avoid a repeat of the protracted fight that brought the nation to the brink of default in the summer of 2011 and caused the country to lose its AAA-credit rating. [MORE]


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Profiting From a Child’s Illiteracy

Profiting From a Child’s Illiteracy | Politicality | Scoop.it

By Nicholas Kristof, NY Times


THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.


Many people in hillside mobile homes here are poor and desperate, and a $698 monthly check per child from the Supplemental Security Income program goes a long way - and those checks continue until the child turns 18.


"The kids get taken out of the program because the parents are going to lose the check," said Billie Oaks, who runs a literacy program here in Breathitt County, a poor part of Kentucky. "It's heartbreaking."


This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.


Some young people here don't join the military (a traditional escape route for poor, rural Americans) because it’s easier to rely on food stamps and disability payments.


Antipoverty programs also discourage marriage: In a means-tested program like S.S.I., a woman raising a child may receive a bigger check if she refrains from marrying that hard-working guy she likes. Yet marriage is one of the best forces to blunt poverty. In married couple households only one child in 10 grows up in poverty, while almost half do in single-mother households.


Most wrenching of all are the parents who think it’s best if a child stays illiterate, because then the family may be able to claim a disability check each month.


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What does it mean if Ann Coulter is the voice of reason in the GOP

What does it mean if Ann Coulter is the voice of reason in the GOP | Politicality | Scoop.it

We've embraced Ellen, gay marriage and progress. If Ann Coulter knows, why are radical right groups still fighting?


Excerpt from article by SALLY KOHN, Salon


And so it is that conservatives repeatedly bang their heads against the social progress and common-sense values of ordinary Americans, whether it’s a Christmas commercial or the so-called fiscal cliff. Conservative Republicans literally manufactured the “fiscal crisis” by refusing to extend our nation’s credit, so that they could try to exact drastic cuts to government spending. But here’s the kicker: The American people really like those government programs. A lot. Once upon a time they may have been skeptical but now, by a wide margin, even Republican voters favor Democratic proposals to protect and preserve Medicare and Social Security.


Also, the vast majority of Americans, including most Republicans, support increasing taxes on the rich in order to address the alleged crisis. In fact, the election results — in which, ahem, the Democrats won — were a resounding affirmation of this approach, as confirmed by exit polls. By continuing to resist the fundamental will of the American people, do conservatives realize how out of touch they seem — how much they are losing their grasp on political reality and the electorate?


Americans support gay rights and increasingly believe that same sex couples should be able to marry. Most Americans think that Wall Street CEOs should not pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Culture wars and class warfare in America? Conservatives built that. And lost.


Time to pack up, go home and reemerge as a more mainstream political movement that finally acknowledges that Americans don’t like economic inequality — and do like gay folks, opportunity for women, racial tolerance and government programs that help poor people and seniors. No, the American people haven’t finished evolving on these issues either, but they’re evolving toward justice and equality and away from conservative demagoguery.


“We lost the election,” Ann Coulter recently admitted to my colleague Sean Hannity on Fox News. Coulter, who incidentally is a strong supporter of gay rights, argued that Republicans need to give in and let taxes on the top 2 percent go up. [MORE]




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Election Brings Seasoned Politicians to Congress

Election Brings Seasoned Politicians to Congress | Politicality | Scoop.it
by Jeremy W. Peters, NY Times
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Coffee Party USA's curator insight, December 12, 2012 4:21 AM

The 2010 election, with its throw-the-bums-out, antigovernment furor, swept into office a host of people who had no government experience. There was an exterminator, a dentist, a youth minister and a pizza man. But this year, voters sent many of those people packing.


In their place will be a class of career bureaucrats and policy wonks who, after two years of intransigence and dysfunction on Capitol Hill, make up what could be characterized as the anti-antigovernment wave.


These members, many of whom ran on a promise to break the seemingly endless impasse in Washington, will face their first test early. The new Congress will almost certainly inherit complicated tasks like raising the nation’s borrowing limit, revamping the tax code and making adjustments to social welfare programs — issues that are not expected to be entirely resolved as part of the negotiations to head off the automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect on Jan. 1.


The new House will include nine people, like Mr. Nolan, who have already been in Congress. It will also include a former Congressional chief of staff, a decade-long member of a local water board, an assistant secretary for veterans affairs and even a Kennedy. [MORE]

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Fact-checkers Sputter And Flop Attempting To Explain How Social Security Works

Fact-checkers Sputter And Flop Attempting To Explain How Social Security Works | Politicality | Scoop.it
A gaggle of fact-checkers recently attempted to bring clarity to the question of whether Social Security adds to the deficit. Much as they did during the campaign, the fact-checkers have instead confused what is in fact quite a simple issue.

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Joseph Pomponio's comment, December 13, 2012 3:01 AM
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How the Mainstream Press Bungled the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign

How the Mainstream Press Bungled the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign | Politicality | Scoop.it

by Dan Froomkin, The Huffington Post

 

Post-mortems of contemporary election coverage typically include regrets about horserace journalism, he-said-she-said stenography, and the lack of enlightening stories about the issues.

 

But according to longtime political observers Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, campaign coverage in 2012 was a particularly calamitous failure, almost entirely missing the single biggest story of the race: Namely, the radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth.

 

Mann and Ornstein are two longtime centrist Washington fixtures who earlier this year dramatically rejected the strictures of false equivalency that bind so much of the capital's media elite and publicly concluded that GOP leaders have become "ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

 

The 2012 campaign further proved their point, they both said in recent interviews. It also exposed how fabulists and liars can exploit the elite media's fear of being seen as taking sides.

 

"The mainstream press really has such a difficult time trying to cope with asymmetry between the two parties' agendas and connections to facts and truth," said Mann, who has spent nearly three decades as a congressional scholar at the centrist Brookings Institution.

 

"I saw some journalists struggling to avoid the trap of balance and I knew they were struggling with it -- and with their editors," said Mann. "But in general, I think overall it was a pretty disappointing performance."

 

"I can't recall a campaign where I've seen more lying going on -- and it wasn't symmetric," said Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who's been tracking Congress with Mann since 1978. Democrats were hardly innocent, he said, "but it seemed pretty clear to me that the Republican campaign was just far more over the top." [MORE]


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Substance-free Republicans default to lazy mendacity

Substance-free Republicans default to lazy mendacity | Politicality | Scoop.it

Romney's criticisms of Obama — on full display during the debates — don't even make sense. Does it matter?

 

by JONATHAN BERNSTEIN, Salon

 

The hallmark of Republican thinking these days, especially as expressed in Romney/Ryan rhetoric, is just the sheer laziness of it. That’s presumably a consequence of having developed an amazingly efficient partisan press. There’s just very little incentive remaining to develop actual policies or even a real critique of Barack Obama’s administration. After all, if the president is a Kenyan socialist intent on destroying the United States, it’s hardly necessary to explain exactly where his policies are going wrong or why.

 

That often shows up in the way that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan dissemble. Every presidential campaign lies, but what distinguishes this crowd is a lazy mendacity in which there’s not even an attempt to make their falsehoods plausible (here’s another recent, excellent example).

 

But it also shows up in their basic rhetoric. Why put together a critique of Barack Obama’s foreign policy when they can just refer to unspecified disasters and know that anyone watching Fox News will nod in agreement? And thus we get Paul Ryan’s astonishingly substance-free line that “What we are witnessing, as we turn on our television screens these days, is the absolute unraveling of the Obama foreign policy.”

 

Ryan trotted out “unraveling” three times in the vice-presidential debate.

 

The first one was at the end of a scattershot answer that was mostly about Libya:

 

And with respect to Afghanistan and the 2014 deadline, we agree with a 2014 transition. But what we also want to do is make sure that we’re not projecting weakness abroad, and that’s what’s happening here. This Benghazi issue would be a tragedy in and of itself. But unfortunately it’s indicative of a broader problem, and that is what we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy, which is making the world more — more chaotic and us less safe.

 

Apparently something is happening “on our TV screens” that’s self-evident to Ryan. [MORE]


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Mitt Romney Has A Big Problem — And It Has Nothing To Do With This Campaign

Mitt Romney Has A Big Problem — And It Has Nothing To Do With This Campaign | Politicality | Scoop.it
Demographics and the electoral college are seriously working against him.
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Strong Enforcement Of Voter Protections Needed To Stop "Bullies At The Ballot Box"

by COMMON CAUSE


Through the 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline and a comprehensive field deployment, Election Protection helps voters overcome obstacles to the ballot box while collecting data for meaningful reform. Over 100 organizations have joined forces to monitor polling places across the country and provide aid, including legal assistance, to voters who encounter obstacles to voting.

 

NEW YORK – As the elections approach, strong enforcement of voter protections is needed to prevent attempts to block voters from casting their ballot, according to a report released today by voting rights groups Demos and Common Cause. The study, “Bullies at the Ballot Box: Protecting the Freedom to Vote from Wrongful Challenges and Intimidation” focuses on voter protection laws in10 states where elections are expected to be close, or where large challenger operations are expected or have taken place during recent elections.

True the Vote and other Tea Party-affiliated groups are reportedly recruiting 1 million volunteers to object to the qualifications of voters in targeted communities on and before Election Day, according to the study. These volunteers are being rallied to block, in their own words, the “illegal alien vote” and “the food stamp army.” Their stated goal is to make the experience of voting “like driving and seeing the police behind you.”

“Ballot box bully” tactics include:
· Targeting registered voters in communities of color, student voters, and voters facing foreclosure to challenge their eligibility to vote and kick them off the voting rolls.
· “Hovering over” voters waiting to cast their ballots and otherwise intimidating voters at the polls.
· Encouraging states to engage in systematic purges of voter rolls, in violation of federal law.

“Voting must be free, fair and accessible to all, and voters should know their rights,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “It is important to maintain the integrity of our election system, and that means that candidates, parties and political activists should be focused on persuading and turning out voters, not bullying them or trying to manipulate the law to freeze them out of our democracy.”

The ten states reviewed in “Bullies at the Ballot Box” are Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. In addition to assessing the current state laws, the report provides recommendations to protect citizens from these large-scale, well-organized efforts to intimidate or block them from voting.

“We call on elections officials and law enforcement at the state and federal level to stand ready to enforce the law and aggressively protect every eligible American’s right to vote this November,” said Liz Kennedy, report co-author and Counsel at Demos. “Wrongful challenges and intimidating tactics should never stand between Americans and their right to have their voices heard on the issues that affect their lives. There should be zero tolerance for bullying at the ballot box.”

Findings

The report grades the level of protection that state law provides eligible voters in three major categories – challenges to voters’ right to vote before Election Day, on Election Day, and laws governing the conduct of poll watchers or other observers at the polls. While every state has room for improvement, the authors find that:

As for challenges to voters’ registration status and right to vote before Election Day:
· Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio laws are satisfactory;
· North Carolina and Texas laws are mixed as to the level of protection they afford voters but could be improved; and
· Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Virginia (half of the states examined) have unsatisfactory laws on the books.

As for challenges to a voter’s right to vote on Election Day:
· Texas (which does not allow any Election Day challenges), Ohio, Colorado, New Hampshire, and North Carolina laws are satisfactory.
· Missouri, Nevada, and Virginia laws are mixed in the level of protection they afford voters; and
· Florida and Pennsylvania have laws with unsatisfactory protections to guard against inappropriate Election Day challenges to voter eligibility.

As for state laws governing poll watchers or observer conduct at the polls:
· Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia laws are satisfactory;
· Florida, Missouri and New Hampshire are mixed in the level of protection they afford voters; and
· Pennsylvania and Texas allow behavior by poll observers and poll watchers that is problematic and could intimidate voters, so their laws were assessed as unsatisfactory.

The report cites federal law and laws on the books in all ten states that prohibit voter intimidation and could be enforced to prevent harassing conduct at the polls.

“It is important that all participants understand the rules and respect the right of all eligible Americans to vote free of intimidation or obstruction. We want to minimize the risk of positive civic engagement moving into disrupting the orderly conduct of elections,” said Liz Kennedy. “Unwarranted challenges to voters’ eligibility can lead to problems at the polls for everyone seeking to cast a ballot by depleting resources, distracting officials, and leading to longer lines. They threaten the fair administration of elections and the fundamental freedom to vote.”

“Voting is one of our most fundamental rights,” said Common Cause’s Edgar. “No eligible voter should be blocked from casting a ballot, and the entire voting rights community is mobilized to protect voters’ rights.”

Common Cause and Demos are part of the Election Protection coalition, the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection coalition. Common Cause and coalition allies are recruiting and organizing non partisan Election Day monitors to help voters understand the voting rules in their state and report any and all efforts to discourage or intimidate voters. 


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In Wisconsin, Political Circus Leaves Voters Wounded

In Wisconsin, Political Circus Leaves Voters Wounded | Politicality | Scoop.it

by MELISSA BLOCK, NPR

 

"Emotions are still raw in Wisconsin after the bitter fight over public unions and the unsuccessful vote to recall Gov. Scott Walker."

 

Suffering with the intense political devisiveness.


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Paul Ryan Booed Throughout AARP Speech (VIDEO)

Paul Ryan Booed Throughout AARP Speech (VIDEO) | Politicality | Scoop.it

by BENJY SARLIN, Talking Points Memo

 

Paul Ryan’s speech to AARP’s national conference in New Orleans did not go over too well with the audience.

 

The Republican vice presidential nominee, who has led his party in proposing a privatization plan for Medicare, drew repeated jeers and catcalls as he made the case for Mitt Romney’s platform on entitlements.

 

Easily the worst moments came as Ryan discussed repealing the Affordable Care Act, which increased prescription drug and preventive service benefits for seniors.

 

“The first step to a stronger Medicare is to repeal ‘Obamacare,’” Ryan said, prompting a chorus of boos. After the outcry, he said: “I had a feeling there would be mixed reaction, so let me get into it.”

 

He drew a second wave of disapproval for saying the president’s law “turned Medicare into a piggy bank for ‘Obamacare.’” Ryan was referring to $716 billion in Medicare savings enacted by the ACA — savings he himself has included in two budgets — that largely came out of payments to insurance providers. [MORE]



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The Imaginary Campaign

The Imaginary Campaign | Politicality | Scoop.it

by JOE KLEIN, Time Magazine

 

On Aug. 31, the night after the Clint Eastwood empty-chair colloquy at the Republican Convention, Jon Stewart identified the radioactive ingredient that would provide the fuel for Mitt Romney's September meltdown. The Republicans, he noted on The Daily Show, were suffering from "cognitive dissonance." Like Eastwood, they were campaigning against a Barack Obama who was a figment of their imagination. "There is a President Obama that only Republicans can see," he said. That Obama--the Muslim socialist foreigner--was "bent on our wholesale destruction." The mad fact is, Stewart was only scratching the surface. We now know that Romney has been running not only against an imaginary President but against an imaginary electorate as well. This is an electorate in which 47% are looking for handouts, don't pay income taxes and won't "take responsibility...for their lives."

 

How utterly insulting to the legions of hospital workers, restaurant (and country club) employees and security guards who work their butts off servicing the plutocrats Romney was addressing at his now infamous fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla. These workers barely get by, but they are helped a bit by benefits--like the earned-income and child tax credits invented by Republicans--that limit their exposure to income taxes (although they continue to kick in payroll taxes and pay a host of state and local levies). The great irony is that the vast majority of Romney's 47% would be shocked to learn that they're among the freeloaders, which is why this incident might not, in the end, have all that much impact on the presidential campaign. Romney was right about the larger picture in Boca: this election will be decided by a sliver of middle-class independents, the 6% who can't decide which of these candidates they disdain more.


The conservative commentariat and fat-cat contributors are mystified by Obama's buoyancy. This election should have been a rout, they believe, even for a candidate as lame as Romney. The President is weak, inept, a job killer leading the economy off a cliff. Ah, but there's that cognitive dissonance again: the Romney campaign is running against a phantom economy as well. [MORE]

 

 


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Opinion: Both Parties Prefer Fairy Tales to Truth on Economy

Opinion: Both Parties Prefer Fairy Tales to Truth on Economy | Politicality | Scoop.it

NOTE: This article, while balanced in its criticism of both major parties, is itself complicit in lie of omission that seems to suit both Republicans and Democrats. Comprehensive Immigration Reform rankles fear-based Republicans and makes risk-averse Democrats quake in their boots, but when we come together as a nation and achieve an immigration policy that meets the labor demands of a GROWING economy, the long-term fiscal challenges mentioned below will be helped tremendously by a booming GDP, and, having our ratio of workers-to-retirees increase instead of decrease — the ratio is decreasing over the next 15 years as the Baby Boomers retire. We need to adjust our policies so that our working-age population increases rapidly (immigration). We can't declare a baby-making holiday (as Russia has done) and wait 18 years. We don't have time for that. Social Security and Medicare will be in much better shape when we decide as a nation that our fear of demographic shift is less important than the long term fiscal solvency and economic growth of our nation. —Eric Byler


by SOLOMON KLEINSMITH, It's a Free Country

 

Ideology is a dangerous thing. For people who believe in an ideology deeply, plain to see facts don't hold a candle to fundamental tenets. You can see this in all forms of ideology, cultural, religious or political.

 

There are enough of these persistent myths that you could write a small library of books about them, but one of the most dangerous is this idea that tax cuts magically pay for themselves. Many on the right believe this fairy tale with a great deal of zeal. It would be amazing if it were true, and in perfect political propagandistic form... those that benefit from widespread belief in this myth repeat it over and over and over, knowing that there is a segment of the population that will eat it up.

 

But it doesn't hold up to scrutiny when you actually look back at how it has played out in the past. The latest illustration comes from a report from the Library of Congress' Congressional Research Service, which found very little to connect lower tax rates to higher economic growth:

 

"Advocates of lower tax rates argue that reduced rates would increase economic growth, increase saving and investment, and boost productivity (increase the economic pie)... There is not conclusive evidence, however, to substantiate a clear relationship between the 65-year steady reduction in the top tax rates and economic growth. Analysis of such data suggests the reduction in the top tax rates have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth. However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution."


I had a fantastic conversation related to this a few days ago, with an entrepreneur who's startup I am likely to be doing some work with. As a business owner, he said he'd like to see lower taxes, but wasn't under the illusion that they magically paid for themselves by huge economic growth spikes following them. He went on to talk about how the tax cuts during the Reagan years were so successful because of how they solved the issue of a severe lack of investment capital - something that isn't even close to the case today.

 

In fact, the world market is awash in cheap cash that is looking for something to invest in. What is sorely needed are investments that have value, and unmet and growing demand. Cutting taxes on the wealthy solves none of this. What it would do, as the study mentioned above states, is put more capital into the hands of those who already have the most, and it in the mean time it make the debt and deficit issues that are facing the next few generations even more unfair, selfish and hard to tackle.

 

The Democrats have their own fairy tales. Most relevant to this conversation being the idea that we can have a skyrocketing retired population, keep Social Security and Medicare spending roughly as is and balance the budget without huge tax increases on the middle class like you see in the tax rates in Europe. Both sides want to have their cake and eat it too, and are going out of their way to make the only people who actually end up bearing the costs be future generations, most of whom aren't even born yet. [MORE]


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How Corruption Is Strangling U.S. Innovation

How Corruption Is Strangling U.S. Innovation | Politicality | Scoop.it

by James Allworth, Harvard Business Review


If there's been one topic that has entirely dominated the post-election landscape, it's the fiscal cliff. Will taxes be raised? Which programs will be cut? Who will blink first in negotiations? For all the talk of the fiscal cliff, however, I believe the US is facing a much more serious problem, one that has simply not been talked about at all: corruption. But this isn't the overt, "bartering of government favors in return for private kickbacks" corruption. Instead, this type of corruption has actually been legalized. And it is strangling both US competitiveness, and the ability for US firms to innovate.


The corruption to which I am referring is the phenomenon of money in politics.


Lawrence Lessig's Republic, Lost, details many of the distortions that occur as a result of all the money sloshing around in the political system: how elected representatives are being forced to spend an ever-increasing amount of their time chasing donors for funds, for example, as opposed to chasing citizens for votes. Former congressman and CIA director Leon Panetta described it as "legalized bribery"; something which has just "become part of the culture of how this place operates."


But of all the negative impacts this phenomenon has had, it's the devastating impact it has on US competitiveness that should be most concerning. [MORE]


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Why the Republican Party’s Narrative on Income and Voting Failed

Why the Republican Party’s Narrative on Income and Voting Failed | Politicality | Scoop.it

by ALEX KLEIN, The Daily Beast

 

From the fiscal cliff to immigration, the Republican Party remains sorely divided over its post-loss platform. The “blame Romney first” camp is making a lot of noise about a kindler, gentler GOP and slamming their former frontman for an epic “47 percent” fumble.

 

But that’s a tough sell. How do you dispatch a party’s favorite worldview—that of right-leaning “makers” and left-leaning “takers”—when the guy who popularized it got the VP nod and is now the de facto leader of your congressional caucus? Tearing a whole party away from the calming logic of bought-off voters is tough, and many on the right are still stuck on the idea. After Obama’s victory, Bill O’Reilly explained, “There are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff, and who is going to give them things? President Obama.” Rush Limbaugh—without whose booming, car-journey-defining voice no GOP realignment will be possible—doubled down, giving the “gifts” line a literal, Christmas-season spin: “It’s just very difficult to beat Santa Claus,” he said. “People are not going to vote against Santa Claus ... [Obama voters] got more stuff than other people.” Ann Coulter said Obama’s America was “interested in handouts.” And as Bill Whittle put it, “Republicans should commit to their own story.”

 

So while Bobby Jindal and a handful of others may want to sweet-talk single women and Hispanics, in the base-stoking (and primary-deciding) conservative media, the Paul Ryanist argument is proving resilient. Together, it makes for an appealing economic determinism: find out how people will vote by measuring their income and federal entitlements.

 

But the Republican Party must ditch this line of thinking. Sure, it’s divisive. But more important, it’s empirically false. We’ve already shown how the makers-takers narrative breaks down on the state level: the amount a state’s average citizen gets in federal dollars has no bearing on how that citizen votes. But of course, states are lumpy, with pockets of wealth and poverty. So now we’ve drilled down a level. With the help of the National Priorities Project, I’ve compiled per capita–spending and median-income data for almost every county in the United States. (Those figures come from the 2010 Consolidated Federal Funds Report.) And for the first time, we’ve compared how America’s counties voted with how much their average resident makes a year and gets from the federal government. The data set covers 2,707, or more than 90 percent, of America’s 3,033 counties.



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Coffee Party USA's curator insight, December 12, 2012 4:02 AM

[MORE]

Daniel Mayeda's curator insight, December 12, 2012 12:10 PM

Excellent analysis based on actual election data destroying the GOP's favorite explanation for why Romney lost: "takers" and poor people voted for O.  But will Republicans turn to reality and change their approach?  Seems unlikely.

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Koch brothers, Tea Party cash drives Michigan right-to-work bill

Koch brothers, Tea Party cash drives Michigan right-to-work bill | Politicality | Scoop.it
Why did Gov. Rick Snyder buckle on an anti-union law? Just look at his big-money donors.

by JOSH EIDELSON, Salon
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Coffee Party USA's curator insight, December 12, 2012 4:08 AM

Should we be surprised that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who testified under oath that “right-to-work” wasn’t part of his agenda, is poised to sign just such a bill later today?


Snyder’s announcement last week that he’d support right-to-work has taken the sheen off his carefully cultivated image as a pragmatic alternative to hard-charging GOP counterparts in Ohio and Wisconsin. 


But it secures a dream of the anti-union Koch brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council, whose associates are well-represented among Snyder’s donors, and whose economic agenda has been ascendant within the modern GOP.


“I think he was being a puppet for larger interests outside of the state,” United Auto Workers vice president Cindy Estrada told Salon Monday afternoon. [MORE]

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To Save His Second Term, Obama Must Go Over the Fiscal Cliff

To Save His Second Term, Obama Must Go Over the Fiscal Cliff | Politicality | Scoop.it
Republicans won't learn how to play nicely any other way.

Excerpt from article by Noam Scheiber, Salon

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Coffee Party USA's curator insight, December 12, 2012 4:34 AM

At this point, both tactical and strategic considerations point toward the necessity of taking the plunge. 


Simply put: The biggest threat to Barack Obama’s second-term agenda isn’t the economy. It’s the mania that has yet to loosen its grip on congressional Republicans, even after they lost seats in both houses and watched Obama roll to a comfortable re-election. To see this, look no further than the party’s internal discussions over its own fiscal-cliff positioning. The current debate within the GOP is between those who see that Obama has all the leverage in this particular episode and urge a quick deal on tax rates so the party can regroup for a bigger victory on entitlements, and those who still refuse to budge in any way on tax rates. Which is to say, it’s a debate between the moderately delusional and the utterly, irreconcilably delusional. 


The moderately delusional argue that a deal could include raising the top income tax from 35 percent to 37 percent in exchange for certain concessions from Obama, like an agreement in principle on big spending cuts. (Never mind that there’s no reason Obama would accept lower rates than he could achieve simply by waiting till January—already a major concession--while granting the GOP additional concessions.) Then the GOP can make a more serious push on slashing entitlements by holding up a vote on the debt ceiling next year. The truly delusional—which includes members of the party’s congressional wing—respond that even this sweetheart deal for Republicans would entail “capitulat[ing] to Obama,” as Sean Hannity thundered the other night to Ann Coulter, who somehow represents what passes for reason within the GOP these days. (“We lost the election, Sean!” Coulter pleaded.) 


As a result of all this, two things will almost certainly be true of any deal that gets done before January 1: First, it’s going to be worse from the perspective of the GOP than even the moderately delusional Republicans let on now: Obama may agree to a deal that extends middle class tax cuts and allows rates on the top rate to rise somewhere below the Clinton-era level of 39.6, but he’ll almost certainly extract other goodies in return—like an extended payroll tax cut or unemployment benefits. Second, in light of that, the truly delusional GOPers, who already think their moderately delusional colleagues are urging a shameful retreat, will promptly go bananas. [MORE]

Joseph Pomponio's comment, December 13, 2012 3:01 AM
I've got my parachute on, lets go!
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It's Time for the Poor to Come Out of the Plutocracy's Closet of Shame

It's Time for the Poor to Come Out of the Plutocracy's Closet of Shame | Politicality | Scoop.it
We must resist the dominant cultural shaming of the poor. Here are some ways to begin.
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Complete Vice Presidential Debate 2012: Joe Biden vs. Paul Ryan - Oct 11, 2012

The New York Times

 

The Vice Presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan in the run up to the general election in November.

 

Do you have an opinion about the debate? Tell us your thoughts at Coffee Party Originals [HERE]

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Poll shows SC7 already going to hell, er, to the Republican Tom Rice | FreakOutNation

Poll shows SC7 already going to hell, er, to the Republican Tom Rice | FreakOutNation | Politicality | Scoop.it

 

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Mitt Tells the Truth

Mitt Tells the Truth | Politicality | Scoop.it

The contempt with which America's wealthy privately view those beneath them is actually an old story. (see video)

 

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, BillMoyers.com

 

Like everyone else, we watched the movie of the week — that clandestine video from Mitt Romney’s fundraiser in Florida. Thanks to that anonymous cameraperson, we now have a record of what our modern day, wealthy gentry really thinks about the rest of us — and it’s not pretty.

 

On the other hand, it’s also not news. If you had reported as long as some of us have on winner-take-all politics and the unenlightened assumptions of the moneyed class, you wouldn’t find the remarks of Romney and his pals all that exceptional. The resentment, disdain and contempt with which they privately view those beneath them are an old story.

 

In fact, the video’s reminiscent of our first Gilded Age, back in the late 19th century. The celebrated New York dandy Frederick Townsend Martin summed it up when he declared, “We are the rich. We own America. We got it, God knows how, but we intend to keep it.”

 

And so they do, as that glitzy gathering in Florida reminds us. You could see and hear one of the guests ask Mitt Romney what they could do to help. The governor answers, “Frankly, what I need you to do is to raise millions of dollars, because the president’s going to have about $800 to $900 million. And that’s — that’s by far the most important thing you could do.”

 

He’s being truthful there, because money rules these campaigns. And if there were more secret videos from other candidates, we would see them in equally compromised positions, bowing and scraping in their infernal pursuit of campaign cash, bending over backwards to suffer the advice that the privileged think their money entitles them to give.

 

And we mean both parties. Not far from us the other night, at a Manhattan fundraiser hosted by Jay-Z and Beyoncé, President Obama joked, “If somebody here has a $10 million check — I can’t solicit it from you, but feel free to use it wisely.” At least we think he was joking — Obama and Romney alike now shape their schedules as much around moneymaking events as rallies and town halls. Even though a state may be a lost cause when it comes to votes, if there’s money to be made they’ll change the campaign jet’s flight plan and make a special landing, just for the cold hard cash.

 

By the time the primaries were over this year, the top 150 political and media consultants already had raked in an estimated $465 million – or more. When Election Day finally rolls around, chances are that number will have at least doubled....

 

So we can’t stop reporting on this, even though we’re often told: “Please change the subject. Everyone’s tired of this one.” Don’t be so sure. There’s a groundswell for rooting the money out of politics, as Americans come to see that this is the one reform that enables all other reforms. Two polls released in the last few days report large majorities — as many as eight in ten — are in favor of clamping down on the amount of money that corporations, the super-rich, and those shadowy outside groups are pouring into the campaigns. It’s up to all of us to put a sign on every lawn and stoop in the land: “Democracy is not for sale.”  [VIDEO and Full Text]


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Protesting Libyans overrun militant compound in backlash against armed groups

Protesting Libyans overrun militant compound in backlash against armed groups | Politicality | Scoop.it

by NBC News staff and wire services

 

Hundreds of Libyan protesters stormed the compound of Ansar al Sharia in Benghazi Friday night, driving out its militant occupants and setting fire to the compound, in an unprecedented public backlash against armed groups that have run rampant in the country since the 2011 ouster of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

 

Ansar al Sharia is the militant al-Qaeda inspired group that some allege played a role in the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

 

An estimated 30,000 Libyans marched to the group’s brigade compound earlier in the day in protest, chanting, "No to militias," the Associated Press reported.

 

The demonstrators demanded that militias in the country hand over their weapons to the fledgling post-Gadhafi government, and declared their solidarity with the United States in condemning terrorism. [MORE]

 

 

[WATCH - A different kind of rally in Benghazi]

 

As parts of the Muslim world fire up with anti-American protests, thousands rally in Benghazi, Libya, where the U.S. ambassador and three others were killed, to support America. NBC’s Brian Williams reports.

 


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Ohio Secretary of State Reveals Plan To Further Restrict Voting

Ohio Secretary of State Reveals Plan To Further Restrict Voting | Politicality | Scoop.it
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R), apparently not satisfied with restricting state-wide early voting hours, has now admitted he wants to reduce the number of valid IDs voters can show at the polls.
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