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"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Vote or… Just Vote”: We Are Missing Important Voices In Our Democratic Process

It is National Voter Registration Day on September 23, an entire 24 hours dedicated to getting unregistered voters to fill out that voter registration form and commit to voting in this upcoming midterm election. For this civics nerd, it is amazing that this is a designated day. Voting has a holiday besides Election Day.

As someone who has worked in the civic engagement space and is currently running for office, I recognize that I have a more heightened awareness of this calendar date than others. Even if this is your first time getting involved in an election, it is the right time to start.

You’re a woman? Register to vote.

You’re between the ages of 18 to 24? Register to vote.

Republican? Register to vote.

Democrat? Register to vote.

You’re simply eligible? Register to vote.

This can be seen as a self-serving declaration as a candidate for public office, but we are missing important voices in our democratic process.

Regardless of your political leanings or your issues, some organization out there will help you register. As someone who wants to see everyone engaged, there is no problem pointing you in the right direction to the right resources. I’ll start with Rock the Vote.

This election is about the individual voter. It is a guarantee that your registration and vote can and will make a difference. With so many close races and important initiatives across the country, your vote could be a part of a several hundred-vote difference on a candidate or an issue.

Does the form seem long? It is really not that bad. Trouble getting to the polls? You can elect absentee.

The proper retort to what many people feel is do-nothing politics is do-something voting.

 

By: Christina Gagnier, EdTech CEO. Congressional Candidate, CA-35; The Huffington Post Blog, September 22, 2014

 

 

September 23, 2014 Posted by | Democracy, Electorate, Voter Registration Day | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Page One Of His Playbook”: Karl Rove Has A Democratic Candidate For Governor ‘Arrested’

Karl Rove has committed felonies—uh, not felonies, I mean smears. To avoid any confusion, I’ll repeat: Karl Rove has not been convicted of committing felonies. But he has committed smears (not unlike the one I just committed on him). And, virtually unnoticed by the media, he has smeared again, yesterday on Fox News Sunday.

It was recently revealed that Paul Davis, the Democratic candidate for governor of Kansas, had a most awkward moment sixteen years ago. Police raided a strip club near Coffeyville for drugs and found Davis, then 26 and unmarried, getting a lap dance. He wasn’t accused of any wrongdoing, no charges were brought against him, and even in Kansas, lap-dancing isn’t illegal.

Still, the lap-dance story is fair game for supporters of Sam Brownback, the embattled Republican governor who’s running for re-election. On Meet the Press yesterday, Grover Norquist, for example, interrupted his anti-tax talk to relate the lap-dance incident (“with the naked lady”), which Thomas Frank later shot down as ancient small fry.

But over at Fox, Rove dramatically raised the stakes for Davis, saying that Kansas’s possible future governor had been “arrested”:

The governor’s race in Kansas is close. However, late last week, it was revealed that the Democratic candidate for governor had been arrested—or not arrested, he’d been detained briefly a number of years ago when he was an attorney for a strip joint and the police found him getting a lap dance.

Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace let it slide, presumably because Rove corrected himself. But the “correction” allowed Rove to repeat the word “arrested,” a word that, even when used in the negative, Fox viewers can now associate with Davis and repeat until it seems true. No small thing when many diehard Republicans in Kansas are so disgusted with the devastation wreaked by Brownback’s tax cuts, that they’re actually considering a vote for Davis.

Of course, Rove may have simply made an honest slip of the tongue. But “Bush’s Brain” has a long list of such ambiguous slips.

Most recently, he suggested that Hillary Clinton had suffered a “traumatic brain injury.” Several months after her December 2012 fall, which caused a blood clot, Rove said, “Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.” She was hospitalized for three days, not thirty, and later that day Rove tried to deny (while simultaneously reinforcing) his innuendo, saying, “Of course she doesn’t have brain damage.”

“You could believe Rove’s denial—but you would have to ignore virtually his entire political career,” as George Zornick wrote in The Nation. “For decades Rove has been circulating nasty, personal rumors about political opponents and placing them in the public conversation, all while obscuring his fingerprints, making the rumors become the opponent’s problem, not his. It’s page one of his playbook.”

A protégé of the late Lee Atwater, the GOP dirty trickster who once boasted that “states’ rights” and “tax cuts” could be used as code words for “nigger,” Rove has been associated with whisper campaigns suggesting that his clients’ opponents were homosexual (Texas governor Ann Richards in 1994), pedophiles (a Democratic candidate for Alabama Supreme Court, also in ’94), or mentally impaired (John McCain in 2000). “Other rumors tied to the Rove-led campaign” in 2000, writes Think Progress, “included allegations that McCain’s wife had a drug problem and that his adopted Bangladesh-born daughter was an ‘illegitimate black child.’”

Rove is sparing Davis the “mental” and “homo” tags, but having him “arrested” just might do the dirty trick. (And it might help obscure reports, cited by Davis, that the FBI is investigating the fund-raising and lobbying practices of Brownback associates. Brownback has denied any wrongdoing.)As for Davis, a Kansas state representative, he released a statement to Politico on Saturday. “When I was 26 years old, I was taken to a club by my boss—the club owner was one of our legal clients,” he said in the statement. “While we were in the building, the police showed up. I was never accused of having done anything wrong, but rather I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

On Fox, Rove was, once again, in the right place at the right time to say the wrong thing.

 

By: Leslie Savan, The Nation, September 22, 2014

September 23, 2014 Posted by | Kansas, Karl Rove, Paul Davis | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Does Ruining A State Reflect Moral Turpitude?”: The Ultimate Question Kansas Voters Will Answer This November

Kansas’ embattled right-wing Republicans probably think they got a divine assist from the revelation that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul David received a lap dance sixteen years ago.

But I dunno. Ruining a state’s fiscal condition, and damaging its schools, as Gov. Sam Brownback has done, not as the indiscretion of a single man “in the wrong place at the wrong time” but with malice aforethought and as the perfect expression of his values, strikes me as worse. Here’s how WaPo’s editorial board put it:

Mr. Brownback has cherry-picked the statistics to suggest that things aren’t as bad as they seem, while arguing that it’s still too early — more than a year and a half after his cuts were enacted — to gauge their full impact. Meanwhile, Wall Street’s bond rating agencies, taking note of plummeting tax revenue and a siphoning off of the state’s reserves to cover current and projected deficits, have weighed in with their own verdict: Moody’s cut Kansas’s credit rating last spring, and Standard & Poor’s followed suit last month….

[S]pending reductions have been sufficiently draconian and divisive that large numbers of Kansans, including more than 100 current and former GOP elected officials, have expressed alarm and are supporting the man trying to unseat Mr. Brownback, Paul Davis, the Democratic minority leader in the state’s House of Representatives. There have been particular expressions of anxiety about cuts to per-pupil expenditures in public schools, which have dropped more than 10 percent since 2008.

Is conducting the kind of “experiment” Brownback has undertaken with such disastrous results an offense reflecting moral turpitude? That may be the ultimate question Kansas voters will answer this November.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, September 22, 2014

September 23, 2014 Posted by | Kansas, Sam Brownback | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Those Lazy Jobless”: The Urge To Blame The Victims Of A Depressed Economy Has Proved Impervious To Logic And Evidence

Last week John Boehner, the speaker of the House, explained to an audience at the American Enterprise Institute what’s holding back employment in America: laziness. People, he said, have “this idea” that “I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around.” Holy 47 percent, Batman!

It’s hardly the first time a prominent conservative has said something along these lines. Ever since a financial crisis plunged us into recession it has been a nonstop refrain on the right that the unemployed aren’t trying hard enough, that they are taking it easy thanks to generous unemployment benefits, which are constantly characterized as “paying people not to work.” And the urge to blame the victims of a depressed economy has proved impervious to logic and evidence.

But it’s still amazing — and revealing — to hear this line being repeated now. For the blame-the-victim crowd has gotten everything it wanted: Benefits, especially for the long-term unemployed, have been slashed or eliminated. So now we have rants against the bums on welfare when they aren’t bums — they never were — and there’s no welfare. Why?

First things first: I don’t know how many people realize just how successful the campaign against any kind of relief for those who can’t find jobs has been. But it’s a striking picture. The job market has improved lately, but there are still almost three million Americans who have been out of work for more than six months, the usual maximum duration of unemployment insurance. That’s nearly three times the pre-recession total. Yet extended benefits for the long-term unemployed have been eliminated — and in some states the duration of benefits has been slashed even further.

The result is that most of the unemployed have been cut off. Only 26 percent of jobless Americans are receiving any kind of unemployment benefit, the lowest level in many decades. The total value of unemployment benefits is less than 0.25 percent of G.D.P., half what it was in 2003, when the unemployment rate was roughly the same as it is now. It’s not hyperbole to say that America has abandoned its out-of-work citizens.

Strange to say, this outbreak of anti-compassionate conservatism hasn’t produced a job surge. In fact, the whole proposition that cruelty is the key to prosperity hasn’t been faring too well lately. Last week Nathan Deal, the Republican governor of Georgia, complained that many states with Republican governors have seen a rise in unemployment and suggested that the feds were cooking the books. But maybe the right’s preferred policies don’t work?

That is, however, a topic for another column. My question for today is instead one of psychology and politics: Why is there so much animus against the unemployed, such a strong conviction that they’re getting away with something, at a time when they’re actually being treated with unprecedented harshness?

Now, as anyone who has studied British policy during the Irish famine knows, self-righteous cruelty toward the victims of disaster, especially when the disaster goes on for an extended period, is common in history. Still, Republicans haven’t always been like this. In the 1930s they denounced the New Deal and called for free-market solutions — but when Alf Landon accepted the 1936 presidential nomination, he also emphasized the “plain duty” of “caring for the unemployed until recovery is attained.” Can you imagine hearing anything similar from today’s G.O.P.?

Is it race? That’s always a hypothesis worth considering in American politics. It’s true that most of the unemployed are white, and they make up an even larger share of those receiving unemployment benefits. But conservatives may not know this, treating the unemployed as part of a vaguely defined, dark-skinned crowd of “takers.”

My guess, however, is that it’s mainly about the closed information loop of the modern right. In a nation where the Republican base gets what it thinks are facts from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, where the party’s elite gets what it imagines to be policy analysis from the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation, the right lives in its own intellectual universe, aware of neither the reality of unemployment nor what life is like for the jobless. You might think that personal experience — almost everyone has acquaintances or relatives who can’t find work — would still break through, but apparently not.

Whatever the explanation, Mr. Boehner was clearly saying what he and everyone around him really thinks, what they say to each other when they don’t expect others to hear. Some conservatives have been trying to reinvent their image, professing sympathy for the less fortunate. But what their party really believes is that if you’re poor or unemployed, it’s your own fault.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, September 22, 2014

September 23, 2014 Posted by | Economy, GOP, John Boehner | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“An Ugly GOP Ideology”: Boehner Blasts America’s Unemployed As Lazy

After the 2012 elections, it was tempting to think Republicans would be a little more cautious about economic elitism and callous indifference towards those struggling to get by. But in 2014, many GOP officials have thrown caution to the wind and embraced elitism with both arms.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for example, recently defended cuts to student aid by saying, “Not everybody needs to go to Yale.” As McConnell sees it, the nation’s elite institutions of higher ed should be within reach for students from rich families – and no one else. Soon after, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a leading U.S. Senate candidate, called those who rely on the safety net as “addicts.”

And then there’s House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who appeared at the American Enterprise Institute last week to discuss the economy. Asked about Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) anti-poverty plans, Boehner was quite candid about his thoughts on the unemployed.

“I think this idea that’s been born out the last – maybe out of the economy last couple of years that, ‘You know, I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this, I think I’d just rather sit around.’ This is a very sick idea for our country.”

The Speaker’s perspective is bizarre as a matter of public policy, but I’m glad he made these comments because his candor sheds light on an ugly ideology.

When GOP lawmakers cut off extended jobless aid, on a substantive level, it seems bewildering. In recent decades, neither party even considered such radicalism with high unemployment, if for no other reason because cutting jobless aid hurts economic growth. But Boehner has offered a peek behind the curtain – the Republican argument isn’t about economics, so much as it’s about personal animosity. The Speaker and his allies seem to think there’s something wrong, and perhaps even offensive, about families struggling to get by.

It’s part of the same phenomenon that leads GOP officials to demand drug tests for those relying on the safety net. If you need a hand keeping your head above water, it may very well be the result of a drug addiction. If you want a job and can’t find one, the argument goes, the problem is almost certainly your fault – it’s because you’d “rather sit around” than work.

It stems from a school of thought that says many social-insurance programs shouldn’t exist because struggling Americans are lazy and simply don’t deserve public assistance.

I realize that evidence and substance has very little effect in this debate, but Igor Volsky explained that laziness isn’t the real problem.

Currently, there are more than two job seekers for every job opening in the country and the severity of the recession has created a long-term unemployment problem that has made many job seekers almost unemployable. Research shows that being unemployed for nine months has the same impact on your odds of getting hired as losing four full years of experience from a résumé. As a result, many people who lost their jobs have gone back to school, retired early, or continue to look for work without success.

In fact, millions of unemployed people are having a harder time finding a job since Congressional Republicans allowed the long-term unemployment benefits program to lapse. Research – and real world experience – has found that the program’s job search requirements encourage people to spend more time job hunting and helps cover essentials like internet service for job applications or gas money for interviews.

In theory, Boehner and his allies would be taking a huge risk by making comments like these in an election year. After all, if every unemployed and underemployed American turned out in the fall, furious by the implication that they’re lazy, Republicans would be in pretty big trouble.

But the Speaker and his party are confident that those struggling most probably won’t participate in the elections – and those assumptions are probably correct – so remarks like these won’t come with any consequences.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 22, 2014

September 23, 2014 Posted by | GOP, John Boehner, Unemployed | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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