Inside the Departure of the White House Florist

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-03-2015-05-2008


Chief White House Florist Laura Dowling had been escorted from the White House after her resignation earlier this year…

U.S. Senator Rubio could announce White House bid April 13: report

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-03-2015-05-2008


Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) addresses the International Association of Firefighters delegates at IAFF Presidential ForumU.S. Senator Marco Rubio is likely to make an announcement on his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on April 13 in Miami, according to a local news report. The Cuban-American from Florida has reserved the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami for an undisclosed event, the Tampa Bay Times reported on Friday night. It said the venue was a potential spot for Rubio to make his presidential bid official. The 1926 Mediterranean-style building was used to process and help refugees fleeing communist Cuba after Fidel Castro seized power there in 1959, the Tampa paper said.

Daily Kos Elections presents our fully interactive visualizations of the 2014 federal elections

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-03-2015-05-2008


2014 U.S. House, Overall Win Margin

Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present a comprehensive look back at the 2014 election results, illustrated with a broad range of fully interactive maps and data visualizations. The above map, for instance, shows the 2014 U.S. House results by overall winning margin between Democrats and Republicans, with Democrats in blue Republicans in red. Click on a district and you will find info about the winner of each district, the 2014 election results, and the 2012 presidential results as calculated by Daily Kos Elections. The full-screen versions of this and the House maps below also have a map legend.

Aside from uncontested seats, the largest winning margins for each party were Democrat Nydia Velázquez’s 80 point win in New York’s 7th district and Republican Mac Thornberry’s 72 point win in Texas’ 13th district. Arizona’s 2nd district was the closest race of 2014, with Republican Martha McSally defeating incumbent Democrat Ron Barber by just 0.07 percent.

The interactive scatterplot below illustrates the very strong relationship between 2012 presidential and 2014 House performance. Hover over a dot and you will find the district winner and basic result stats, utilizing the two-party-only vote. Outliers to the top and left saw Democrats overperform, while those to the bottom and right saw Republicans do so.

2014 U.S. House Democratic Vote vs. Obama 2012

The non-interactive version also provides a line of best fit. There’s very little variation around the best-fit line, as the two election outcomes were highly correlated. Presidential performance in 2012 was the single most informative predictor 2014 congressional outcomes.

Head below the fold to see more maps on the House as well as similar visualizations for the Senate.

Indiana governor defends religious freedom law

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-03-2015-05-2008


Demonstrators gather to protest a controversial religious freedom bill in IndianapolisBy Alina Selyukh WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Indiana Governor Mike Pence on Sunday defended a new state law that opponents worry may support discrimination against gay people, saying he had no plans to add extra protections but would consider new suggestions from state legislators. Pence, speaking on ABC's "This Week," sought to counter criticism from protesters who have spilled onto the streets of Indianapolis and others, including some corporations, after signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Thursday.

The Iran Regime Change Act of 2015

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-03-2015-05-2008


When it comes to the Iranian nuclear program, the United States is rapidly approaching a point of no return. The P5+1 talks are coming down to the wire even as the participants express cautious optimism that a deal could be inked as soon as Sunday. But if the negotiations in Geneva fail or if their opponents in Congress succeed in blowing them up, leaders of both U.S. political parties will have to quickly come up with a plan B to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear device.

To put it another way, all those who have sought to sabotage an agreement will have to put up or shut up. The Congressional Republicans who invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to torpedo the Iranian talks, the 47 GOP Senators who wrote the leadership of the Islamic Republic threatening to block sanctions relief for Tehran, the 367 House members who penned a similar letter to President Obama, the bipartisan supporters of the Corker-Menendez bill and virtually the entire 2016 Republican presidential field will have to put their money where their mouths are.

And the amount of that money could be as much as $2 trillion over a decade. Thousands of U.S servicemen and women, as well as American civilians, could be the casualties of a conflict that might well spread beyond the region. To ensure that Iran can never develop nuclear weapons, that’s the possible price tag in blood and treasure for an American invasion and occupation of Iran that would require “a commitment of resources and personnel greater than what the U.S. has expended over the past 10 years in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.”

Perhaps President Obama’s foes on both sides of the aisle would like to bring that package up for a vote in Congress. Call it the “Iran Regime Change Act of 2015.”

Of course, you’d never know about any of these risks listening to those who casually chant, “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.”

Continue reading below:

Just how many elected officials are there in the United States? The answer is mind-blowing

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-03-2015-05-2008


Freshmen members of the 114th Congress pose for a class photo (Jan. 2015)

These freshmen members of the 114th Congress are just the tip of the electoral iceberg

At a recent company retreat, a colleague and I were nerding out (as is our wont) and debating a question: Just how many elected officials are there in the United States in total? It’s an easy question to start answering—you begin with the president and vice president (two), plus Congress (535), then move on to governors (another 50). And if you’re a real elections junkie, you may be aware that there are around 7,000 state legislators nationwide.

But that barely scratches the surface. There are over 3,000 counties and more than 19,000 cities and towns … and almost every one of those has some form of elected government, including county executives, county councils, mayors, and city councils. That still scarcely covers it, though, because that doesn’t include things like judges, school boards, water boards, mosquito control boards (!)—hell, even coroner is an elected position in some places. And in Duxbury, Vermont, they actually elect, yes, the dog catcher.

Once you really start counting, the numbers get very big very quickly. And amazingly, someone actually has tried counting: government Prof. Jennifer Lawless, who assembled the remarkable table below in her 2012 book Becoming a Candidate:

Chart from Jennifer Lawless' book

Check out that number in the bottom right-hand corner: over half a million! That means more than one out of every thousand people in this country is an elected official of one sort or another. So there’s a decent chance you personally know at least one—or maybe you even are one yourself—though as Lawless points out, most of these positions “pay only a token salary and meet on a limited basis,” so the vast majority of these officials have other full-time jobs.

(Note: Lawless’ number of “statewide elected offices” appears to contain a typo; it should probably be more like 1,000. That still doesn’t affect the bottom-line number very much, though. Hardcore election junkies may also recall that Lawless once ran for office herself, losing a 2006 primary challenge to Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin in Rhode Island’s 2nd District by a 62-38 margin.)

Hold on, though, because there’s even more. One category Lawless leaves out (not unreasonably) are party officials, who in many states are often elected on primary ballots, alongside candidates for regular office. For instance, in Louisiana, voters elect representatives to the Democratic State Central Committee; New York has something similar called district leaders. How many of these folks are there? We haven’t found a tally anywhere, but the answer is undoubtedly “a lot”—enough to swell that 500,000-plus figure by a fair bit, for sure.

That monstrous number, whatever it may be exactly, prompts some questions of its own, though. For starters, do we have too many elections and elected offices in this country? Surely jobs like judge and coroner should be appointed positions, but beyond that, do we really need so many overlapping layers of government?

But since there are so many opportunities to get elected to office, why do so many people insist on starting for the first time at the highest levels, like state legislature or Congress? Those (relatively) plum posts are just the tip of the elective iceberg and are thus very difficult to win. If you’re considering running for office as a new candidate, there are literally hundreds of thousands of other ways to gain a foothold, build up your experience, and serve your community.

And for progressives in particular, especially if you live in a red area, this is how we build our power—not by sending our rookies to wage longshot bids for top-shelf positions but by bulking up our bench in every nook and cranny of the electoral world. Rep. Mike Honda, a vocal progressive this community supported in his re-election bid last year, started his career as a school board member, for instance. The next Mike Honda is waiting out there, and she may even be reading this post.

(A special “thank you” to Chris Galdieri for pointing me to Lawless’ research.)

It’s so hard to be an Obamacare-hating Republican these days

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-03-2015-05-2008


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) pauses as he addresses the Heritage Action's second annual Conservative Policy Summit in Washington January 12, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4L6A6

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), perhaps seen contemplating
whether to use an Affordable Care Act health plan.

One of the more striking features of the contemporary conservative movement is the extent to which it has been moving toward epistemic closure. Reality is defined by a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News. Whatever conflicts with that reality can be dismissed out of hand because it comes from the liberal media, and is therefore ipso facto not to be trusted. (How do you know they’re liberal? Well, they disagree with the conservative media!)

Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez, a CATO Institute fellow who specializes in the areas of privacy and surveillance, was perhaps the first to concisely distill the alternate reality that has been created by the continuously cross-referencing circle of conservative media outlets. Conservatives live in a bubble of epistemic closure in which narratives and ideas that feed a particular narrative are introduced, reinforced and then judged to be accurate simply by virtue of having been presented by the correct media authorities. It doesn’t matter if whatever is being claimed has an actual basis in objective reality: once an idea that pleases the conservative id has taken root, it is mighty hard for truth to pierce the bubble of fantasy.

This is why President Obama can in the conservative mind be a Kenyan, a Muslim, a socialist, and a black liberation theologist all at the same time. It’s why no amount of evidence can ever convince conservatism the climate change is real. It’s why they view it as a fact that Obama is killing jobs and exploding the deficit, even as the facts are exactly the opposite on both counts. And it’s also why the Affordable Care Act is simply known to be a disaster that is ruining lives, damaging employers, and constraining freedom, even as in reality it is reducing costs, saving lives, and making health insurance affordable for people who have gone far too long without it.

But when conservatives are forced to venture outside the circle of epistemic closure and actually confront the world outside the bubble, the results are hilarious, as we’ve seen this week with certain Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act. More below the fold.

Former HP CEO Fiorina puts chances of presidential bid over 90 percent

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-03-2015-05-2008


Former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Fiorina listens to a question from the media after speaking at the New England Council's "Politics and Eggs" breakfast in BedfordBy Alina Selyukh and Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Hewlett-Packard Co Chief Executive Carly Fiorina said on Sunday the chances she would run for the U.S. presidency in 2016 were "higher than 90 percent" and that she would announce her plans in late April to early May. Fiorina, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," said she could not yet announce the bid because she was working to establish her team and put together what she described as "the right support" and financial resources. Fiorina is one of many potential Republican presidential candidates including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Earlier this month, Texas Senator Ted Cruz became the first major figure from either political party to formally announce his 2016 presidential bid.

Pence defends Indiana hate law, refuses to say—six times—that law won’t allow discrimination

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-03-2015-05-2008


U.S. Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) looks at his notes before a news conference about the goal of permanently extending Bush-era tax rates at the U.S. Capitol in Washington December 2, 2010. Pence told reporters on Thursday his view on stripping the Fed

“Yes or no, yes or no? That’s a tough question …”

In the annals of damage control that did more harm than good, Indiana’s Gov. Mike Pence has truly set the new standard. Appearing on today’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” to defend and “clarify” Indiana’s new right to discriminate law that he eagerly signed last week, Pence—and this is putting it kindly—crashed and burned.

Six times Stephanopoulos asked if, under the law, it would be legal to refuse service to gay customers and six times Pence refused to answer. And when asked outright if “you [Pence] think it should be legal in the state of Indiana  to discriminate against gays or lesbians … it’s a yes or no question,” Pence’s astonishing (and eye roll-inducing) answer was, “Hoosiers don’t believe in discrimination.” So there you go.

And while Pence continued to peddle the notion that he’d support efforts by the Indiana legislature to “clarify” their new license to discriminate, when asked if making the LGBT community a protected class would be considered, Pence said no, that he wouldn’t push for that, that it’s not on his agenda and that it’s “not an objective of the people of the state of Indiana,” and then flat-out said, “We’re not going to change the law” and that “I stand by this law.”

So, given all this, what was the real purpose of Pence’s announcement that they’d seek to have this legally-enshrined bigotry clarified? Beyond insisting that Hoosiers were really nice people and that their only concern was to “strengthen the foundation of the Constitution”? Apparently it was to let everyone know that Pence has been reaching out to business leaders and cooperate leaders to “correct the gross mischaracterization of this law.” Because that’s the real bottom line.


What presidents can do: the Supreme Court

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-03-2015-05-2008


Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton

A President Warren or a President Clinton would have power, but not as much as you think.

In his piece You Can’t Make The Congress Do Anything, which reviewed the book “The Fierce Urgency of Now”, Scott Lemieux writes:

We don’t have to speculate how effective LBJ’s leadership would be without a rare functioning liberal majority in Congress. After suffering major losses in the 1966 midterms, Johnson’s legendary leadership capabilities were of little value. In his final two years in office, he was forced to accept huge cuts to domestic spending, and could only pass a watered-down version of the Fair Housing Act [. . .]

Lemieux’s argument points to trying to win at the Congressional level as the key to enacting policies you want to see. Too often we all forget this through our obsession with the Presidency. And not just activists, even the rich suffer from this:

In the words of one veteran GOP fundraiser, traditional bundlers have been sent down to the “minor leagues,” while mega-donors are “the major league players.” [. . .]  [B]undlers, on the left and the right, are turning their attention to congressional races, where they can get more personal attention.

They get more than “personal attention.” They get real influence over those lawmakers. And that matters a ton, as Lemieux describes. The reality is there can be no progressive project without a progressive Congress, no matter who is president.

But there are certain powers a president has that transcend Congressional leanings: (1) the power to make war and formulate foreign policy, and (2) the power to nominate Supreme Court justices. More on this on the flip.