Archive for Parties


36 percent of a democracy

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If as our messaging gurus advise, progressives’ goal should be to force opponents to publicly defend their noxious beliefs, then Hillary Clinton’s advocacy for automatic voter registration this week sets a tone we can only hope others from her party will echo going forward. If uber-patriots on the right believe America is the world’s greatest democracy, fine. They should support policies that encourage Americans to act as if that’s true, instead of locking in voting restrictions that help ensure we are only 36 percent of a democracy. Democracy is like freedom, isn’t it? More is better?

Writing for Washington Monthly, Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin believe a big hurdle to a more progressive politics is the mistrust of government Republicans have carefully cultivated:

Much of the blame can be heaped on an obstructionist right blocking policies designed to help working families and on the priorities of conservatives in Congress and state legislatures seeking to advance the agenda of the wealthy. But progressives’ own deficiencies in articulating a vision of government that links collective action to individual empowerment and opportunity, and in defending the institutions of government from the predatory influence of outside interests, has also contributed to the steep decline in public support for government.

Nancy LeTourneau (also at Washington Monthly), reminds us that those obstructionist policies aren’t given the sanitizing sunlight they so richly deserve. She quotes former Republican Hill staffer Mike Lofgren’s 2011 confessional:

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

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Categories : National, Parties
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Wisconsin on everything

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Jack Russell terrier (Public Domain via Wikipedia)

The vigor with which our corporate overlords have sought to put the plebs back in their places and return the stars and planets to their spheres has been as stunning as it is pathetic (last dying moments of a cobra?). Still, you’ve got to hand it to them. Like a Jack Russell with a knotted rope, they don’t give up easily. What’s worse, they know most of the rest of us do. Just the way they like it.

In a plot twist that would make Rod Serling proud, conservatives have treated “The Road to Serfdom” as a cookbook for the re-medievalization of society ever since Ronald Reagan broke the aircraft controllers’ strike in 1981. It has been a race to the bottom (except for the top) ever since.

Mark LeVine observes for Al Jazeera, union membership is at a 100-year low in America. “In just the last two years, the percentage of unionized public employees dropped 2 points, just as union leaders feared and conservatives hoped.” Universities are next on the menu:

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County elections staff met here last night with party officials to discuss recruiting election judges and poll workers for the next two years.** It all went smoothly until a man in the back asked what was being done to prevent people from voting here and then voting absentee in another state. You might as well ask what North Carolina is doing to prevent its 10 million residents from robbing convenience stores in Florida.

The electoral paranoia behind that question — and the Republican-sponsored voting restrictions spawned nationwide by it — was on Hillary Clinton’s mind yesterday when she called for universal, automatic voter registration at a speech in Houston yesterday. Reporters knew the speech would be about voting rights, Rachel Maddow noted last night, but nobody knew Clinton was about to “let rip” on the subject of voting rights:

[W]e have a responsibility to say clearly and directly what’s really going on in our country—because what is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and young people from one end of our country to the other.


North Carolina passed a bill that went after pretty much anything that makes voting more convenient or more accessible. Early voting. Same-day registration. The ability of county election officials to even extend voting hours to accommodate long lines.

Now what possible reason could there be to end pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds and eliminate voter outreach in high schools?

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Lunatic mainstream

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Newsweek examines how Timothy McVeigh’s anti-government ideas have crept into the body politic since he bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. What once was the lunatic fringe is now the Republican base:

Militia sympathizers today have the ears of many Republican politicians. Texas Governor Greg Abbott vowed to keep watch on the U.S. military this spring as it runs a series of war games called Jade Helm 15. Some Texans sensed an armed federal takeover of the Lone Star State and demanded action. Senator Cruz said of their fears, “I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.”

As the Jade Helm 15 nonsense demonstrated, from the militias to the gold bugs to the Agenda 21 nuts to the Cliven Bundys to the Tenthers, the fringe has gone mainstream. Laws nullifying federal gun laws – even banning their enforcement – have sprung up in red states across the country:

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Categories : National, Republicans
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As the saying goes, this is why we can’t have nice things.

Perhaps you remember #JustOneLegislator from February? Freshman North Carolina state senator Jeff Jackson made national news when the Charlotte Democrat was the only legislator to show up for work in Raleigh after a snowstorm. Jackson took to Twitter to muse about all the things he was getting done as a legislature of one. His Tweets landed him on Buzzfeed and made him Rachel Maddow’s Best New Thing in the World.

It turns out it really is a lot easier to get things done when Republican leaders stay home.

Jackson filed two bills in March meant to clean up some loopholes in existing laws, one concerning the definition of statutory rape and another regarding federal sex offenders. In Jackson’s words, “low-hanging fruit.” No-brainer legislation with Republican co-sponsors. But the bills stalled in committee. One GOP legislator apologized, saying, “I’m really sorry for what’s about to happen.”

An editorial in the Charlotte Observer explains:

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How many dead people can’t vote?

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Turning the dead people voting meme on its head, Daniel McGraw crunched some numbers on a Politico napkin to take a swag at how many voters will die off before the 2016 presidential election:

“I’ve never seen anyone doing any studies on how many dead people can’t vote,” laughs William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in demographic studies. “I’ve seen studies on how many dead people do vote. The old Daley Administration in Chicago was very good at that.”

Maybe soon it will be Republican zombies headed down to the DMV (Dead Men Voting) office to obtain their photo IDs. It turns out that mortality rates are more of a problem for Republicans than for Democrats. (And for Texans last weekend.) It’s not called the Grand Old Party for nothing:

By combining presidential election exit polls with mortality rates per age group from the U.S. Census Bureau, I calculated that, of the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election. President Barack Obama’s voters, of course, will have died too—about 2.3 million of the 66 million who voted for the president won’t make it to 2016 either. That leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favor of the Democrats.

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Any More Like Her At Home?

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From a Last Word segment on Friday:

Ivy Ziedrich, the 19-year-old Nevada college student who told Jeb Bush that his brother created ISIS, joins Lawrence O’Donnell for her first national interview in a Last Word exclusive.


It takes a criminal mind

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After signing the credit card draft, the customer asked for his carbons back. (That tells you how long ago this was.) The waiter (moi) must have gotten a puzzled look on his face.

“Nobody ever asked you that before?” the customer asked.


The customer explained that dumpster-diving thieves would steal carbons to get credit card numbers.

“Huh? That never would have occurred to me,” I said.

“That’s because you don’t have a criminal mind,” the man said.

Which brings us to this piece in the New York Times. It seems Republican PACs are making a concerted effort to “inhabit the liberal role” on social media and dupe lefties into sharing anti-Hillary Clinton memes. Bill McKibben (, the A.F.L.-C.I.O., and others have fallen prey to the tactic:

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By Lcj (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Asheville property owners may soon pay more in property taxes. Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer began to explain to WCQS the other day that legislative changes passed in Raleigh are why:

Privilege license tax: “This last year the legislature got rid of the privilege license tax for all cities across North Carolina … for Asheville what that means is a loss of $1.5 million dollars in revenue.”

Sales Tax redistribution: “the proposed legislation was absolutely devastating for Buncombe County”

But then Manheimer got into the economic weeds and lost track of the broader message. “Absolutely devastating” NC cities is not a byproduct of the legislation. That is the goal.

How many times do I have to say this?

What we’re seeing is an extension of the GOP’s “defund the left” strategy of undermining the largest concentrations of manpower and funding that support Democrats. First they went after private-sector unions, then public-sector unions, and teachers, firefighters, trial lawyers, etc. Then with Voter ID they attacked seniors, college students and minorities. They’ve taken away control of Asheville’s airport. They tried to take away Charlotte’s. They’re still trying to take Asheville’s water system to blow a huge hole in the city budget. Collectively, Republicans in Raleigh are hoping to render cities irrelevant in future state and local elections. And with redistricting, they’ve isolated Asheville in House District 114 and won’t even bother running candidates there for now.

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The missing 40,000 NC voters

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An analysis posted Thursday at Daily Kos found that since Pat McCrory moved into the North Carolina governor’s mansion, voter registration applications received through state public service agencies (as required by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993) have fallen off drastically. DocDawg and colleagues did some data mining:

Finding 1: A systematic sharp decline in new voter registrations originating from Public Assistance (PA) programs began on or about January 2013 and continues to this day
Figure 1, below, summarizes statewide new voter registrations originating from PA programs, by month, and compares these with new voter registrations originating from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Fig. 1: North Carolina new voter registrations originating via Public Assistance programs (top panel) and via the Dept. of Motor Vehicles (bottom panel) from May 2010 through March 2015. Red and green horizontal lines indicate overall averages for the periods May 2010 through December 2012 (green lines; “Pre-McCrory Average”) and January 2013 through March 2015 (red lines; “McCrory Average”). Months for which reports are missing, or contain incomplete data, are excluded from these averages (5/2010, 9/2010, 3/2011, 5/2011, 8/2011, 5/2012, 6/2012, and 3/2015).

In all, “an overall deficit of 39,177 ‘missing voters’ (i.e., NC citizens who would have been registered had this decline not occurred).” Checking for benign explanations, the study finds that the decline does not appear to be connected to an improving economy and “occurs statewide, not merely in a handful of counties.”

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