mykeystrokes.com

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

“Trolling For Low-Wage Jobs”: Gov. Rick Scott; Florida’s Ambassador For Cheap Labor And Mediocrity

Florida Gov. Rick Scott went to California last week to steal some jobs.

Guess how that brilliant idea turned out.

Scott urged California businesses to pack up and move to Florida because the minimum wage in Florida is only $8.05 an hour.

That was actually the thrust of his selling point: Why are you paying your workers $10 an hour? Floridians will work dirt cheap!

Scott spent lots of taxpayer money to carry this dubious offer to the Golden State, where it went over like a lead balloon.

In a caustic retort, Gov. Jerry Brown wrote: “If you’re truly serious about Florida’s economic well-being, it’s time to stop the silly political stunts and start doing something about climate change — two words you won’t even let state officials say.”

A Los Angeles Times editorial called Scott’s California trip “especially offensive.” It said he “should be home in Florida … trying to create well-paying jobs, instead of trolling for low-wage ones that he can steal in California, undermining this state’s effort to pay a living wage to more of its low-skilled workers.”

The impetus for Scott’s trip was California’s decision to raises its minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next six years. Scott says the wage hike will cost the state 700,000 jobs, a figure he got from a conservative think tank that didn’t even use California jobs data.

Meanwhile, a study by the Labor Center at the University of California-Berkeley predicted no net job loss in Los Angeles as a result of the state’s phased-in pay increases.

In Florida, we’re used to Scott’s obsession with job numbers instead of quality jobs. It will be the centerpiece of his U.S. Senate run in 2018, by which time we might lead the nation in convenience-store openings.

Last week’s “trade mission” to California was Scott’s second. His first try came in March 2015, and since then California employers have added twice as many new jobs as Florida employers have.

So, that trip didn’t work out so great, either.

Unfortunately for Scott, California’s economy is booming right now.

Although the unemployment rate is higher than in Florida, there is no corporate exodus. Ironically, census figures from 2014 indicate that more Florida residents are moving to California than going the other direction.

Florida is an easier sell to multimillionaires looking to relocate in a state with no income tax. That’s undoubtedly one of the reasons that Scott himself moved to Florida in 2003.

However, Florida isn’t so alluring to firms looking for a skilled and educated labor force. That’s because the state still spends an embarrassingly paltry amount on its schools.

According to the National Education Association, the average salary of public teachers in Florida in 2013-2014 was $47,780. That’s 39th in the country, worse than even Alabama or Louisiana.

In California, the average teacher salary that year was $71,396.

Now, if you’re on the board of Apple or Microsoft, where do you think your employees with school-age children would rather live?

It’s bad enough that Scott flies around the country bragging about Florida’s pathetically low wages, but he’s using public money to run radio commercials in other states, beseeching companies to close up shop and move to Florida.

Which would basically screw all the working people on their payrolls.

The governor’s job-poaching junkets are, as the Los Angeles Times said, offensive. But his mission is futile, and his lack of sophistication is breathtaking.

Scott puts the “goober” in gubernatorial.

In March, he invited Yale University to leave its iconic Connecticut campus and resettle in Florida, to avoid state taxes on its endowment fund.

That would be Yale University, founded in 1701. A perfect fit for Boca Raton, right? Or maybe Yeehaw Junction?

Whether Scott was serious or not (he insisted he was), he came off looking like a dolt. They’re still laughing at him (and us) in New Haven.

Out of courtesy to his GOP colleagues, Scott focuses his job-stealing raids on states with Democratic governors. There’s nothing for them to be afraid of, no manic stampede of companies — or Ivy League universities — to the Sunshine State.

All we Floridians can do is apologize to the rest of the country for any past and future appearances by our weird ambassador for cheap labor and mediocrity.

Don’t take him seriously. We certainly don’t.

 

By: Carl Hiaasen, Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, May 10, 2016

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Jerry Brown, Minimum Wage, Rick Scott | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Many Republicans Won’t Back Trump, And Trump Voters Hate Cruz”: Could A Downballot Wave For Democrats Be Coming?

David Brooks notwithstanding, this is not a wonderful moment to be a conservative. A new poll out of California highlights the disaster looming for the Republican Party across the nation, but particularly in blue states.

The most troubling problem is that even in a big blue state like California, Trump holds a commanding 7-point lead over Ted Cruz. As Trump will certainly hold the plurality of delegates entering the national GOP convention, Republicans are currently trying to figure out whether to back him and let come what may, or wrest the nomination from him in a brokered convention. But the brokered convention strategy relies mostly on Trump’s not reaching an outright delegate majority–a question that may not be resolved until California’s large batch of delegates is determined. If the business magnate wins big in California, he will probably reach the delegate majority he needs, crushing establishment hopes of subverting his nomination.

But the even more troubling issue for Republicans is that the party is deeply, deeply divided no matter what they do. Many moderate and evangelical Republicans despise Trump and say they will not vote for him. Meanwhile, Trump’s voters cannot stand Ted Cruz:

A quarter of California Republican voters polled said they would refuse to vote for Trump in November if he is the party’s nominee. Almost one-third of those backing Trump’s leading competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, said they would not cast a ballot for Trump. Voters who back Trump, meanwhile, are critical of Cruz, with only half holding a favorable impression of him.

Much of this is probably overblown, of course: when Republicans are faced with the prospect of a Clinton or Sanders presidency, the vast majority will still hold their nose and toe the line for the GOP. But these numbers constitute an unprecedented level of disaffection with their choices. That’s understandable: many ideological and theocratic conservatives don’t feel they can trust Trump on policy, establishment and future-minded Republicans know that his racist appeals will destroy their future, even as more moderate, populist and ideologically flexible Republicans are turned off by Cruz’ oily cynicism and radicalism.

Even a modest drop in turnout by the GOP in blue states and districts could lead to a downballot debacle for the Republican Party, and could even cost them the majority in the House given a big enough wave. The Cook Political Report and other prognosticators have revised their house race projections to account for the Trump effect (and quite possibly for the Cruz effect as well.)

So far, the GOP has latched itself to the hope that even if it must throw away the presidency this cycle, it can count on control of the House, the Supreme Court and most legislatures. With Scalia’s passing the Supreme Court is lost given a Democratic win in 2016, the Senate will likely change hands, and their House majority seems set to shrink or even disappear. Many legislatures may also flip as well given a wave election.

Things can change, of course: an economic downturn or major terrorist attack could alter the landscape significantly. But as things stand, circumstances are ripe for a GOP debacle up and down the ballot.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 27, 2016

March 29, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Right That Is Fundamental To Our Democracy”: Two States, Two Competing Futures For Voting Rights In America

“The Voting Rights Act has been an effective tool in protecting a right that is fundamental to our democracy,” declared a rising congressional leader in 2006, “and renewing this landmark law will ensure that each and every citizen can continue to exercise their right to vote without the threat of intimidation or harassment.”

Incredibly, that statement of unequivocal support for voting rights came not from a Democrat, but from then-House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). Of course, while it’s easy to forget now, Boehner was hardly taking a courageous stand; despite a long history of right-wing opposition to the Voting Rights Act, Boehner was merely endorsing a bipartisan reauthorization bill that passed 390 to 33 in the House and unanimously in the Senate. Upon signing it, President George W. Bush said, “My administration will vigorously enforce the provisions of this law, and we will defend it in court.” Nearly a decade later, the political landscape for voting rights has changed dramatically. We are now witnessing a clash between two radically opposing visions of American democracy.

One vision is on display in Alabama, where, half a century after civil rights activists marched on Selma, state officials are systematically undermining the right to vote. Following the implementation of a strict voter ID law, Alabama recently announced the shuttering of 31 driver’s-license offices across the state. The closures will make it more difficult to obtain the identification required to vote and will disproportionately affect the state’s black population. Indeed, as the Birmingham News’s John Archibald wrote , “Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed.”

The other vision is on display in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown (D) recently signed automatic voter registration into law, making California the second state to approve such a measure, after Oregon did so earlier this year. Under the new law, eligible Californians will be automatically registered when they apply for a new driver’s license or renew an existing one unless they opt out. The hope is that automatic registration will raise low voter turnout, which fell to 42 percent in the 2014 election. The law could affect an estimated 6.6 million voting-age Californians who are not registered. “We do not have to opt-in to other rights, such as free speech or due process,” said California Secretary State Alex Padilla. “The right to vote should be no different.”

In short, while the Alabama vision seeks to restrict participation in our democracy, the California vision aims to maximize it. As my Nation colleague Ari Berman, author of “ Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America,” put it, “Unlike Alabama, California is using the power of the government to bring millions of new voters into the political process — treating the vote as a fundamental right, rather than a special privilege.”

The unfortunate reality, however, is that Alabama is not alone. Today, the Republican Party appears to view legitimate voting rights as a threat to its survival. In fact, limiting the number of people who decide our elections has become a central part of the Republican Party’s mission.

Just consider the record. Over the past five years, Republican state legislators have aggressively pushed voter ID bills and other policies that make it harder to vote, especially for Democratic-leaning minority groups, successfully passing laws in 21 states. In 2013, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, which Republican leaders vocally praised a decade ago, in a controversial 5-to-4 ruling split along party lines. And in Congress, a Democratic bill designed to restore the law has just one Republican supporter in either chamber.

The competing visions are also apparent in the 2016 presidential race. This month, Republican contender Jeb Bush explained that he does not support restoring the Voting Rights Act because “There’s been dramatic improvement in access to voting,” making it unnecessary to impose protections “as though we’re living in 1960.” In contrast, Hillary Clinton issued a bold call for automatic voter registration in June, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced an automatic voter registration bill in August. “Today Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting,” Clinton declared. “What part of democracy are they afraid of?”

It’s no secret why Republicans would rather prevent some people from voting. While they run up big margins in midterm elections with low turnout, Republicans have won the national popular vote just once in the past six presidential elections. Moreover, instead of answering to the American public, Republican candidates are increasingly beholden to the privileged few who fund their campaigns. In the 2016 election cycle, nearly half of the contributions to presidential candidates so far have come from just 158 families. As the New York Times reports, “They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male.” They are also overwhelmingly backing Republicans, of course, thereby “serving as a kind of financial check on demographic forces that have been nudging the electorate toward support for the Democratic Party and its economic policies.” It’s a strategy of delay, of buying time, of staving off the inevitable.

But change is coming whether Republican politicians and their billionaire backers like it or not. They have disgraced our democracy with their voter suppression strategy, but they are not powerful enough to stop it. They will eventually have to reckon with a country that is more diverse, more compassionate and more progressive. The Alabama vision will not prevail.

 

By: Katrina vanden Heuvel, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, October 20, 2015

October 26, 2015 Posted by | Democracy, Voting Rights Act | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Fiorina The Smooth Operator”: The Essence Of Fiorina ’16: A Smooth Exterior With Little Beneath It

In a piece at Vox today that you should most definitely read if you are following what passes for a bipartisan debate on climate change, Dave Roberts looks closely at a four-minute segment of an interview Katie Couric did with Carly Fiorina that Republican flacks are praising as a genius tour de force (for Carly, of course, not for Katie). He goes through ten claims Fiorina–not a climate change denier but rather someone who finds infinite excuses not to do anything about it–made in the interview against Democratic climate change proposals and shows they are more than a bit factually challenged. A sample of an argument Carly advanced as a Californian:

California “destroys lives and livelihoods with environmental regulations”

California’s climate regulations are indeed the most ambitious in the nation, and they just keep getting more ambitious. (A pair of new climate bills has cleared the Senate and is headed to the Assembly.)

If California were its own country, it would be one of the world’s top 10 in total renewable energy generation and one of the bottom two in carbon intensity. It is the top state in the nation for venture capital investments in cleantech, cleantech patents, and advanced-energy jobs. In fact, it leads the nation in virtually every cleantech category, from electric vehicles to green buildings to solar capacity to policy to investment, reliably topping the US Cleantech Leadership Index.

Meanwhile, between 1993 and 2013, thanks to energy efficiency, the average residential electricity bill in California declined, on an inflation-adjusted basis, by 4 percent, even as bills rose elsewhere in the country. Between 1990 and 2012, the state cut per-capita carbon emissions by 25 percent even as its GDP increased by 37 percent. Its total carbon emissions are declining, even as its economy continues to grow.

Oh, and California created more jobs than any other state in the nation last year, with the fifth-highest GDP growth rate. And its budget is balanced.

Looks like the state is surviving its environmental regulations so far.

After nine other, similar expositions, Roberts concludes:

However smooth Fiorina may be, in the end it’s not going to make sense to voters to acknowledge the science of climate change and then say you’re against every solution to it except handing out subsidies to the coal industry. That is some unstable derp. If I had to predict, I’d say political pressure will be such that Fiorina will either be forced back into outright denialism or she’ll have to offer something less vaporous on the policy front. She won’t be able to stay where she is.

But note that qualifier “in the end.” Untutored folk watching Fiorina may simply notice how “smooth” she is. And the fact that it’s Katie Couric interviewing her is instructive. A series of Couric inteviews took Sarah Palin down several notches in 2008 because the nationally unknown Alaska governor was anything but smooth. But that’s the essence of Fiorina ’16: a smooth exterior with little beneath it.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, August 21, 2015

August 22, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, Climate Change, Coal Industry | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Voters Should Choose Their Representatives”: The Supreme Court’s Election Reform Ruling Is A ‘Big F-ing Deal’

This, in the words of Joe Biden, is a big fucking deal.

The Supreme Court’s vote on marriage equality and its refusal to gut health-care reform justly got the banner headlines over the last few days. But a less-publicized case on Arizona’s independent redistricting commission had those of us fighting for election reform holding our breath in the march toward the last day of decisions.

At stake was nothing less than the ability to fight back against the forces of polarization, paralysis, and hyper-partisanship in our politics. Out of 435 House seats, only 35 are considered competitive, and the rigged system of redistricting is to blame. It’s a process of collusion between the two parties that takes place every 10 years in state legislatures and draws the congressional district lines—a subversion of democracy where politicians pick their people rather than people picking their politicians.

The result is a screwed up incentive system where members of Congress are virtually guaranteed re-election as long as they don’t lose a low turnout partisan primary, which means they live in fear of offending the base rather than reaching across the aisle to solve problems.

Increasingly, the remedy for this corrupt status quo has been voters bypassing the state legislators with ballot referendums that create independent redistricting commissions. California has done it to great effect, dislodging 14 incumbents who decided to retire after the independent commission promised to make their re-elections less than rubber-stamped.

And that’s what Arizonans did in advance of the 2010 districting, which upset then-Governor Jan Brewer. First she tried to remove the independent commission’s chairwoman, Colleen Mathis, in a power grab that was overruled. Then Brewer decided to take the commission to court, arguing that the panel—composed of two Republicans, two Democrats, and one independent—tried to “elevate ‘competitiveness’ over other goals.” Seriously.

“This isn’t anything more than Republicans trying to hold on to a majority in a state where they constitute less than a third of the voters,” explained former Phoenix mayor Paul Johnson at the time. But still the baseless, desperate, cynical case wound its way to the Supreme Court.

If the court decided that the voters’ attempt to impose a nonpartisan redistricting commission over the self-dealing of the Arizona state legislators was unconstitutional, the best mechanism citizens have to restore fairness to congressional mechanisms would have been removed.

As Stanford law professor Nate Persily, the author of the new book Solutions to Political Polarization in America, explained: “Not only would many redistricting commissions, such as Arizona and California’s, have been thrown out, but any state regulation of congressional elections that was passed by initiative would have been legally vulnerable. This would have cast doubt, for instance, on California’s nonpartisan primary, Arizona’s voter ID law, and any number of other laws regulating voter registration, campaign financing, and ballot technology.”

It could have meant open season on election reforms of all kinds. But happily, by a narrow 5-4 vote, with Justice Anthony Kennedy serving in his role as the swing vote—possibly aided here by his roots in California, which has seen evidence of success in election reform—the Supreme Court decided to back the integrity of Arizona’s independent redistricting commission.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her majority decision (PDF): “We see no constitutional barrier to a State’s empowerment of its people.” She continued by pointing out that “‘[P]artisan gerrymanders,’ this Court has recognized, ‘[are incompatible] with democratic principles’” and attested to the fact that reforms like independent redistricting commissions have resulted in “districts both more competitive and more likely to survive legal challenge.” Quoting founding fathers from Madison to Hamilton, the decision concluded that Arizona voters sought to restore “the core principle of republican government,” namely, “that the voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.”

The decision is a big win for election reform and a defeat for those professional partisan forces that want to keep the rigged system of redistricting in place. Now the prospect for future nonpartisan election reforms remains open and inviting to more citizens who understand that when you change the rules, you change the game.

 

By: John Avlon, The Daily Beast, June 30, 2015

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Democracy, Gerrymandering, Redistricting | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: