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“It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”: Pennsylvania GOP To Reconsider Electoral-Vote Scheme

Republican Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania’s House Majority Leader, made quite a name for himself over the summer when he boasted that the state’s voter-ID law, ostensibly about the integrity of the electoral process, “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

That plan didn’t go well — courts rejected the voter-suppression effort and President Obama won the Keystone State with relative ease. But Turzai isn’t done rolling out election schemes (via my colleague Laura Conaway).

A Pennsylvania lawmaker is proposing making the state the only one to divide its electoral votes based on a presidential candidate’s percentage of public support, a method that would have helped Republican Mitt Romney on Nov. 6.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a Republican from Chester, wants to replace the winner-take-all system, which gave President Barack Obama the state’s 20 electoral votes, with one that divides them to reflect the proportion of votes cast for each candidate. His method would have awarded 12 votes to Obama and eight to Romney had it been in force this year.

It’s understandable that Pennsylvania Republicans would consider efforts like these, and Pileggi’s proposal reportedly has the support of Gov. Tom Corbett (R). The Democratic presidential candidate has won the state six of the six elections, and it’s easier to rig the system then earn public support.

But as I wrote about a year ago, that doesn’t make efforts like these any less ugly. As Ian Millhiser explained, “Pileggi’s plan is nothing more than a proposal to steal electoral votes that are overwhelmingly likely to be awarded to the Democratic candidate under the current system and give them away to the Republican candidate.”

Last year, this identical effort fizzled when congressional Republicans balked fearing the shift might endanger their seats. The fact that Pileggi is back at it, however, suggests the state GOP takes the plan seriously, and is well worth watching.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 5, 2012

December 6, 2012 Posted by | Elections, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Don’t Tell Rick Scott”: Florida Legislators Introduce Bill To Restore Early Voting Days

Last year, the Republican-led Florida legislature slashed the state’s early voting period in half and cut out voting on the final Sunday before the election — a day when many African American churches turned out parishioners in high numbers. As a result, long lines were the norm for Floridians this year; some even had to wait six hours or more to vote.

After witnessing the negative effects of reducing early voting from 14 days to 8, a number of state lawmakers have introduced legislation to restore those days that had been axed.

State Sens. Arthenia Joyner (D) and Gwen Margolis (D) have pre-filed two bills, SB 80 and SB 82, that would re-institute 14 days of early voting in Florida, beginning on the 15th day before an election and continuing through the Sunday prior to Election Day.

The News Service of Florida has more:

More voting hours also could be available under the bills. Current law requires at least six hours of voting per day, while the bills would require 12 hours per weekday and 12 hours total on the weekend.

In another change proposed by Joyner and Margolis, local supervisors of elections could expand the types of places where early voting is allowed. Currently, supervisors must offer early voting in the supervisor’s offices, and can allow voting in libraries and city halls. The bills would allow supervisors, if they want, to also offer early voting in other government facilities such as a courthouse, as well as colleges, churches, or community centers. The bills would also prevent counties from reducing the number of early voting sites from what they used in 2008.

Though Republicans control both chambers of the legislature, both incoming Senate President Don Gaetz (R) and incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford (R) have “promised that lawmakers will try to figure out what went wrong on Election Day that led to the long lines, and do something about it.”


By: Scott Keyes, Think Progress, December 5, 2012

December 6, 2012 Posted by | Democracy, Election 2012, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Conservative Learning Curve”: Thinking Mildly Heretical Thoughts Is One Thing, Actions On The Other Hand…

Over the long run, the most important impact of an election is not on the winning party but on the loser. Winners feel confirmed in staying the course they’re on. Losing parties — or, at least, the ones intent on winning again someday — are moved to figure out what they did wrong and how they must change.

After losing throughout the 1930s and ’40s, Republicans finally came to terms with the New Deal and elected Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. Democrats lost three elections in the 1980s and did a lot of rethinking inspired by Bill Clinton, who won the White House in 1992. In Britain, the Labor Party learned a great deal during its exile from power in the Margaret Thatcher years. The same thing happened to the Conservatives during Tony Blair’s long run.

The American conservative movement and the Republican Party it controls were stunned by President Obama’s victory last month. The depth of their astonishment was itself a sign of how much they misunderstood the country they proposed to lead. Yet the shock has pushed many conservatives to think at least mildly heretical thoughts.

In particular, some are realizing that the tea party surge of 2010 was akin to an amphetamine rush — it produced instant gratification but left the conservative brand tarnished by extremism on both social and economic issues. Within two years, the tea party high gave way to a crash.

It’s true that the early signs of conservative evolution are superficial and largely rhetorical. The right wing’s supporters are already threatening primaries against House and Senate Republicans who offer even a hint of apostasy when it comes to raising taxes in any budget deal. Many Republicans still fear challenges from their right far more than defeat in an election by a Democrat.

Nonetheless, rhetorical shifts often presage substantive changes because they are the first and easiest steps along the revisionist path. And on Tuesday, three prominent Republicans took the plunge.

At a dinner in honor of the late Jack Kemp — a big tax-cutter who also had a big heart — Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Marco Rubio both worked hard to back the party away from the damage done by Mitt Romney’s comments on the supposedly dependent 47 percent and the broader hostility shown toward government by a conservatism transfigured by tea-party thinking.

Ryan spoke gracious words about Romney, the man who made him his running mate on the GOP ticket. But the implicit criticism of Romney’s theory was unmistakable. Kemp, Ryan said, “hated the idea that any part of America could be written off.” Republicans, Ryan said, must “carry on and keep fighting for the American Idea — the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to rise, to escape from poverty.” He also said: “Government must act for the common good, while leaving private groups free to do the work that only they can do.”

Rubio dubbed his speech a discourse on “middle-class opportunity” and distanced himself from the GOP’s obsession with giving succor to the very wealthy.

“Every country in the world has rich people,” Rubio said. “But only a few places have achieved a vibrant and stable middle class. And in the history of the world, none has been more vibrant and more stable than the great American middle class.”

Rubio also walked a new and more careful line on government. “Government has a role to play,” he said, “and we must make sure that it does its part.” Then, making sure he stayed inside the conservative tent, Rubio added: “But it’s a supporting role, to help create the conditions that enable prosperity in our private economy.”

For good measure, former president George W. Bush tried to push his party back toward moderation on immigration, using a speech in Texas to urge that the issue be approached with “a benevolent spirit” mindful of “the contribution of immigrants.”

There’s ample reason to remain skeptical about how far conservatives will go in challenging themselves. Substantively, neither Ryan nor Rubio threw much conservative orthodoxy overboard.

And actions matter more than words. It’s not encouraging that a large group of Republican senators blocked ratification of the international treaty on the rights of the disabled. Then there’s the budget. If Republicans can’t accept even a modest increase in tax rates on the best-off Americans, it’s hard to take their proclamations of a new day seriously.

Still, elections are 2-by-4s, and many conservatives seem to realize the need to understand what just hit them.


By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, December 5, 2012

December 6, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Pretending To Negotiate”: Basic Arithmetic For Republicans Just Doesn’t Add Up

If President Obama honestly wants to negotiate an agreement with Republicans before the year-end fiscal deadline, he must be deeply frustrated. And if he doesn’t really want to negotiate with them, then he should be delighted, for the same reason: Their latest “offer” laid before him by House Speaker John Boehner demonstrates again their refusal to reveal their true intentions — and their inability to do simple arithmetic.

Consider their treatment of Medicare, the popular social insurance program for seniors that Republicans have always despised. They have just emerged from a long national campaign in which they repeatedly and falsely claimed to “protect” Medicare from the president — whom they accused of wanting to slash $716 billion from the program — but now they complain that he won’t cut it enough. The Obama cuts were mythical, but the Boehner budget proposal includes at least $600 billion in Medicare and Medicaid reductions.

Worse still, the Republicans propose to perform this crude surgery on Medicare without the slightest explanation of where they would cut. Washington rumors suggest that they would achieve some of those cuts over the next 10 years by raising the eligibility age by two years to 67 and by increasing premiums for more affluent beneficiaries.

As Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities pointed out on Tuesday, however, those changes would not begin to achieve the savings required by the Boehner proposal.

The same problem undermines the other aspects of Boehner’s proposal, which includes $600 billion in additional unspecified cuts. Either their arithmetic doesn’t work — or, as Greenstein worries, they mean to inflict severe cuts in health and other services that would harm elderly and poor Americans, but want to conceal those consequences from the public.

Yet there is an even deeper problem with Boehner’s arithmetic. The Republicans are fighting to extend all the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest two percent along with everyone else — but their alternative proposals are utterly inadequate to compensate for the $1.3 trillion in revenues lost by continuing those cuts for the rich. To “offer” $800 billion in new “revenues” obtained by eliminating deductions rather than raising rates simply doesn’t work, as a matter of basic math. It isn’t nearly enough money.

If Republican leaders cannot do the arithmetic, then it is impossible to negotiate with them. If they can do the arithmetic but insist on falsifying the answers, then it is both unwise and impossible to negotiate with them.

Unless and until the Republicans start talking about real numbers that can actually add up, there is nothing to be gained from pretending to negotiate. Nor should the president start negotiating with himself, as he has sometimes done in the past. Instead, he ought to make sure that the opposition understands what will happen when they fail to act responsibly. After January 1, he will bring them an offer they cannot refuse, to restore cuts for the 98 percent — and they will be held accountable for any consequences caused in the meantime by their stalling.


By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, December 5, 2012

December 6, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“It Isn’t Easy Being Fox”: There Isn’t Enough Liberal Hating To Fill The Day

Fox News has been in the news a bunch over the last two days, with stories like Roger Ailes’ wooing of David Petraeus, and now the discovery by Gabriel Sherman of New York that the network has benched Karl Rove and Dick Morris, though for slightly different reasons. Morris is just an embarrassment because he’s always so hilariously wrong about everything, while Rove apparently angered top management by challenging the network’s call of Ohio for Obama on election night. “Ailes’s deputy, Fox News programming chief Bill Shine, has sent out orders mandating that producers must get permission before booking Rove or Morris.” This highlights something we liberals may not appreciate: it isn’t easy being Fox.

For starters, MSNBC and CNN don’t get nearly as much attention for their internal conflicts as Fox does. That’s not only because there’s a healthy appetite among liberals for these kinds of stories, but also because there seem to be many people within Fox who are happy to leak to reporters about what goes on there, presumably because they don’t like their employer’s politics. Without them, we’d never know about these things. But more importantly, Fox has a lot of people and factions to keep happy. To see what I mean, let’s start with Ed Kilgore’s explanation for the sidelining of Morris and particularly Rove:

Thanks to their high visibility in the 2012 cycle, some MSM and progressive observers seem to be making the mistake of associating Rove and Morris with right-wing influence in the GOP, and assuming that taking them down a notch in FoxLand means some sort of new conservative pragmatism. Are we forgetting who these men are? Rove was the author of every single violation of “conservative principle” by George W. Bush that has enabled wingnuts to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the bitter fruits—substantively and politically—of the Bush/Cheney administration: No Child Left Behind, the Medicare Rx drug initiative, comprehensive immigration reform, and in general Big Spending and Big Government Conservatism. And given his role as the “quarterback” of the entire Super-PAC/501(c)(4) money blitz in 2012, Rove is also nicely positioned to take the fall for a “Republican Establishment” that failed to make ideology and “vetting” the centerpiece of the anti-Obama drive. As for Dick Morris—well, he’s the same unprincipled self-promoter he’s always been.

Putting Rove and Morris “on the bench” is precisely what you would expect from conservatives looking for a way to shift blame after another electoral defeat. The idea that it means Fox is coming to grips with the error of its ideological ways is leap of logic and faith unjustified by anything we’ve seen so far.

Let’s not forget that for a long time, Rove was for conservatives something like what Nate Silver was for liberals in 2012. Not only did he tell them they were going to win, he did so in a way that made them feel smart, by throwing a bunch of numbers at them and seeming to have a unique, evidence-based explanation for the coming Republican victory (the difference was that unlike Silver, Rove cherry-picks his data and always predicts a Republican victory, whatever the actual facts are). And he was and will always be the architect of George W. Bush’s two presidential victories, a considerable achievement. But now he has the stench of defeat about him. So when you put him on the air, it doesn’t make conservatives feel reassured, it makes them feel angry. But not the kind of angry Fox likes (i.e. angry at liberals). The bad kind of angry, the kind that might make you turn your TV off.

And keeping conservatives watching is Fox’s business. But that isn’t always easy, particularly when there are different kinds of conservatives whose immediate goals and beliefs may be in conflict. The one thing that unites them all—hatred of liberals—is what Fox specializes in. But at times like this, with Republicans in Congress going wobbly on taxes and a reexamination of the Republican future in progress, there isn’t enough liberal-hating to fill the day. Which can make it tough for Fox to navigate, since as the house organ of the conservative movement, it needs to keep everyone happy. It needs to simultaneously cater to the establishment, to the Tea Party, to the elite, to the base, and to everyone in between. That can be a difficult juggling act. Fox plays a much more central role in the conservative movement than MSNBC does in the liberal movement, which is good for business, but it also brings complications.

But don’t worry about Karl Rove. He’ll be back on the air before you know it, telling conservatives why their victory is inevitable.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, December 5, 2012

December 6, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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