Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson — born and raised in Palestine, Texas and now living in The Woodlands — found himself outside his community’s standards for child discipline (as determined by a Montgomery County grand jury). It was another black eye — bad pun intended — for the NFL. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs sarcastically wondered why fans of a violent game played by men with violent tendencies in a country that worships violence would have a problem with a four-year-old boy getting whooped with a switch.
Neil at Blog About Our Failing Money Owned American Political System posted about the strong race run by Zephyr Teachout against corrupt business-as-usual Governor Andrew Cuomo in the New York State Democratic Primary. BAOFMOAPS is one of a number of worthy pages to view at NeilAquino.com.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Democrats have been trying to solve the turnout problem in mid-term elections for a some time. As I read the article below it became clear that the problem can be summed up like this: too many Democratic leaning voters see no real reason to show up to vote in mid-term elections.
These are not voters that have to be wooed to the Democratic side. These are voters that agree with Democrats on the issues but are not compelled to show up on election day. So we’re not talking about the mythical “undecided” voter. But essentially Democrats that don’t vote.
What if a key part of the problem is that many of these voters simply don’t know that Democratic control of the Senate is at stake in this fall’s elections?
That sounds like a huge problem. If Democratic leaning voters don’t understand that there is something to lose in the upcoming election, then it’s not surprising they’re unlikely to show up on election day.
Here’s some data on a message that would likely get Democrats to the polls in November.
MoveOn’s polling memo summarizes some of the key messages about potential GOP control of the Senate that move them:
Should the GOP take control of the Senate, drop-off voters are most concerned that “Republicans will take away a woman’s right to choose and restrict access to birth control” (58 percent rank this very concerning), “Republicans will cut access to health care for 8 million people and let insurance companies refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions” (58 percent) and “Republicans will cut back workplace protections for women, denying equal pay for equal work” (57 percent)….
The top testing message overall emphasizes education, specifically Republicans’ efforts to cut programs for students while giving tax cuts to the wealthy (54 percent very convincing). This message is the strongest argument for coming out to vote in all of the states except Colorado…the message focusing on Republicans’ war on women is the second strongest in all states besides Colorado.
Variations of all these messages are being employed in many of these tough races.
More shocking stuff. I you want to get people who don’t vote to the polls on election day, they must be given a reason to show up. Not rocket science.
The other part of the article that’s most disheartening is that far too many non-voters don’t know how the government works. They may not even understand that Democrats are currently in control and how losing that control will effect the way our government and their lives. For those of us that follow politics this may seem impossible, but it’s true. And from personal knowledge some of these people are well-educated and even work in government.
“We were exploring what would motivate them to turn out to vote,” Lake tells me. “One of the things that came up is that these drop-off voters had no idea that control of the Senate was even up for grabs and were even very confused about who controlled it. These voters are very representative of drop-off voters in a lot of states.”
That so many Americans are unaware of what’s at stake no longer surprises me. So many have dropped out of keeping up with their government, no matter the reason – and they’re numerous.
These voters feel that it makes no difference in their life if they vote. Removing their ignorance of how government operates and reminding them of the importance of their vote is the first threshold that must be crossed. Showing them what’s at stake and that it has a personal effect on their lives is next step in the process of getting these people to the polls on election day.
It would seem key to the Democrats efforts going forward to make sure voters understand how important it is to them, personally, that Democrats are elected in November.
This is not a post trying to make the case that these polls are wrong or fixed, and that things actually looking good for Wendy Davis and the Democrats in Texas. Because that’s impossible to know. But to try and get away from focusing on polls Even if Wendy Davis and the Democrats were to do better in November then the polls says, or even win, the same work must still being done.
There’s only one way Democrats will start winning again in Texas and that’s through sustained work, over the course of years, to change the electorate. Even if Democrats are not successful this election, the important and needed work for future success must continue.
All we can do is keep organizing and keep reaching out to people. The only way we have a chance is to get more people that don’t vote to the polls on election day. And even though hat’s being done right now it won’t show up in any pre-election poll. The only time those results will show up is when the votes are counted.
Whenever things are going right in this respect, this excerpt from a speech Bill Moyers a few years back always re-inspires me, It’s OK if it’s impossible.
But let’s be clear: Even with most Americans on our side, the odds are long. We learned long ago that power and privilege never give up anything without a struggle. Money fights hard, and it fights dirty. Think Rove. The Chamber. The Kochs. We may lose. It all may be impossible. But it’s OK if it’s impossible. Hear the former farmworker and labor organizer Baldemar Velasquez on this. The members of his Farm Labor Organizing Committee are a long way from the world of K Street lobbyists. But they took on the Campbell Soup Company – and won. They took on North Carolina growers – and won, using transnational organizing tacts that helped win Velasquez a “genius” award from the MacArthur Foundation. And now they’re taking on no less than R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and one of its principal financial sponsors, JPMorgan-Chase. Some people question the wisdom of taking on such powerful interests, but here’s what Velasquez says: “It’s OK if it’s impossible; it’s OK!” Now I’m going to speak to you as organizers. Listen carefully. The object is not to win. That’s not the objective. The object is to do the right and good thing. If you decide not to do anything, because it’s too hard or too impossible, then nothing will be done, and when you’re on your death bed, you’re gonna say, “I wish I had done something. But if you go and do the right thing NOW, and you do it long enough “good things will happen-something’s gonna happen.”[Emphasis added]
The “do something” means to work hard to change things and help people. That is what we will remember on our death bed and will endure after election day. If we keep working hard we can accomplish that, no matter how an election turns out.
Kuff and PDiddie have the breakdown of the latest polls in this race. No poll has Davis in a great position. Again, hard work to change who shows up on election day is the only chance Democrats have of winning in November. And it’s OK if it seems impossible.
President Obama’s plan to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State counts on pretty much everything going right in a region of the world where pretty much anything the U.S. does always goes wrong.
Our newspapers of record today finally remembered it’s their job to point stuff like that out.
The New York Times, in particular, calls bullshit this morning — albeit without breaking from the classic detached Timesian tonelessness.
Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt and Mark Landler (with contributions from Matt Apuzzo and James Risen) start by pointing out the essential but often overlooked fact that “American intelligence agencies have concluded that [the Islamic State] poses no immediate threat to the United States.”
And then, with the cover of “some officials and terrorism experts,” they share a devastating analysis of all the coverage that has come before:
Some officials and terrorism experts believe that the actual danger posed by ISIS has been distorted in hours of television punditry and alarmist statements by politicians, and that there has been little substantive public debate about the unintended consequences of expanding American military action in the Middle East.
You’ve got to love these quotes:
Daniel Benjamin, who served as the State Department’s top counterterrorism adviser during Mr. Obama’s first term, said the public discussion about the ISIS threat has been a “farce,” with “members of the cabinet and top military officers all over the place describing the threat in lurid terms that are not justified.”
“It’s hard to imagine a better indication of the ability of elected officials and TV talking heads to spin the public into a panic, with claims that the nation is honeycombed with sleeper cells, that operatives are streaming across the border into Texas or that the group will soon be spraying Ebola virus on mass transit systems — all on the basis of no corroborated information,” said Mr. Benjamin, who is now a scholar at Dartmouth College.
He excerpts many several more articles. Overall he highlights that the case hasn’t been made and that there are no good option. He saves the best for last:
But nobody has the understanding of the region, the writing chops, and the moral standing of Andrew J. Bacevich, the Boston University political science professor and former Army colonel who lost his son in the Iraq war in 2007. He writes today for Reuters Opinion:
Even if Obama cobbles together a plan to destroy the Islamic State, the problems bedeviling the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East more broadly won’t be going away anytime soon.
Destroying what Obama calls the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant won’t create an effective and legitimate Iraqi state. It won’t restore the possibility of a democratic Egypt. It won’t dissuade Saudi Arabia from funding jihadists. It won’t pull Libya back from the brink of anarchy. It won’t end the Syrian civil war. It won’t bring peace and harmony to Somalia and Yemen. It won’t persuade the Taliban to lay down their arms in Afghanistan. It won’t end the perpetual crisis of Pakistan. It certainly won’t resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
All the military power in the world won’t solve those problems. Obama knows that. Yet he is allowing himself to be drawn back into the very war that he once correctly denounced as stupid and unnecessary — mostly because he and his advisers don’t know what else to do. Bombing has become his administration’s default option.
Rudderless and without a compass, the American ship of state continues to drift, guns blazing.
Since there’s no good option it may be best just to not kill more people. I came across this article which asks.
But could the mighty power of United States even entertain the suggestion that it practice pacifism?
Maybe is “the world’s only superpower” quit killing, other’s might quit too?
I echo Chris Hayes’ incredulity, expressed last night, at Barack Obama’s long strange trip: from his rise to political stardom as an opponent of the (second) Iraq invasion, to his devolution as a born-again interventionist, proposing to reinject the U.S. into the very same war he originally opposed.
It looks like the same war because the U.S. enemy in Iraq was Saddam Hussein and his base in the Sunni population. The Shiites and Kurds had nothing but hatred for Saddam. So this was a war on the Sunni. This onslaught continued in the person of the Shiite-dominated, U.S.-backed Iraqi puppet government.
The newest Hitler-of-the-month, the so-called Islamic state or ‘ISIS,’ is nothing but the reemergence of the Sunni under a distinctly less wholesome leadership. We traded Saddam for a group that looks worse than Al Qaeda, from the standpoint of non-Sunni minorities in Iraq, and possibly for the U.S. too, eventually.
Are we’re calling this Iraq War III? I don’t think US involvement – more bombing – is going to make things better. Sometimes, as much as we may want to, there’s just nothing we can do to make things better. And more violence is likely to make things worse.
Sen. Wendy Davis, in her memoir due out next week, discloses the most personal of stories preceding her nationally marked fight against tighter abortion restrictions: a decision she and her then-husband made 17 years ago to end a much-wanted pregnancy.The book, “Forgetting to Be Afraid,” goes on sale to the general public Tuesday. Copies will be available Monday at a Fort Worth book signing by Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor against Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Davis, in a copy of the book obtained by the San Antonio Express-News, wrote that her unborn third daughter had an acute brain abnormality. She said doctors told her the syndrome would cause the baby to suffer and likely was incompatible with life.
The situations Wendy Davis describes in her book happen to women, and families, every day. They’re heartbreaking, and nobody ever wants to be faced with these kinds of decisions when expecting a child.
This puts into context why she filibustered the women’s health bill last year. I’m guessing that at least part of her reason for filibustering was to make sure that women can make their own choice when faced with a decision like this. There are no easy answers or choices, which brings us to the point: Since this isn’t an easy choice, who should get to make it? A woman and her family, in consultation with her doctor? Or the state?
I trust that folks who had been complaining that Davis hadn’t spoken enough about abortion during her campaign will give that a rest now. Everyone agrees that this is A Very Big Deal, but I doubt anyone knows how it will play out politically. Just as we’d never had a President announce support for same sex marriage until 2012, I can’t offhand think of a similar statement of this magnitude in a high-profile election. Certainly, nothing like this that wasn’t considered to be shameful, if not career-ending, from infidelity to pot-smoking to divorce to mental illness and so on and so forth. Oh, there will be people who will believe this to be shameful, but I doubt any of them were the least bit sympathetic to Davis in the first place. It will be interesting to see if the troglodyte brigade – Erick Erickson and the like – manages to keep a lid on their baser impulses or not. I wouldn’t hold my breath on it, but you never know. As for this election, I’d say the conventional wisdom is as follows, from that Express News story:
Rice University political scientist Mark Jones said he doesn’t expect the revelation to lose any votes for Davis, since he said it’s a relative small proportion of voters who oppose abortion in cases of severe fetal abnormality.
“The group that will be most bothered by her having an abortion of a baby with a severe fetal abnormality is a group that wasn’t going to vote for her anyway,” he said.
“The positive side of it for her is it humanizes her, and also makes it a little tricky for opponents to attack her on the abortion issue because now, it not only is a political issue for her, but it’s a personal issue,” Jones said.
There’s no doubt this humanizes her and makes the issue about real people and their lives. It’s impossible to say what effect this will have on the campaign going forward. It shows that you never can tell how many many women and their families have had–and will have–to deal with situations like this. If they elect Wendy Davis, they will have someone in the the Governor’s Mansion who, at least, can empathize with them.
Libby Shaw now posting at Daily Kos is both shocked and pleased that the Houston Chronicle’s editorial board spanked Greg Abbott hard for his disingenuous and exaggerated claims about voter fraud in Texas. Texas: “Voter Fraud? What Fraud?”
In a state with a rapidly growing population and the mounting set of challenges associated with that growth, Texas Leftist can’t even believe how much money Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and other TEA-publicans are leaving behind in their refusal to expand Medicaid. Trust me, you won’t believe it either.
Does it matter what the poor think about policymaking? Depressingly in American politics, their opinion counts only once every four years—when it’s a presidential election year. That’s the only time policies adopted by the federal government bear any resemblance to those the poor say they prefer. Martin Gilens, a political scientist at Princeton University, came to this conclusion, described in his 2012 essay for Boston Review, looking at data on public opinion surveys from the 1960s to earlier 2000s. Interest groups and affluent Americans—whom Gilens defined as the top 10 percent of income earners—have disproportionate influence on the direction policymaking takes. Policies included on national household opinion surveys have a 1-in-5 chance of passing if they are favored by 20 percent of the rich. If they are favored by 80 percent, the policy passes just under half the time. An average voter’s preferences hardly matter. Even labor unions, civil rights organizations, and the like do little to boost the influence of poor and middle-income Americans.
Gilens and his collaborator Benjamin Page of Northwestern University have just published a study to further explain this relationship. In it, the authors examine four theories for who’s shaping policymaking in the United States—average voters; elite individuals; interest groups representing the wishes of different voter segments; and interest groups advocating for particular policies (e.g., pro-business groups). Most commentators have been startled by its conclusions (some of which were addressed in Gilen’s earlier work). It ends with pessimistic tones: “Our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts,” the authors write. And if “policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans,” as they found, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”
GOP nominee Greg Abbott is, in many ways, running like he’s running for Rick Perry’s fourth term. But Greg Abbott is no Rick Perry. Perry, for as much as there is to dislike about him, had most, if not all, of the mainstream Texas media in his back pocket. He knew how to stroke them, and make them purr like kittens and do his bidding. Abbott seems to assume he’s built the same rapport, but he hasn’t, and it’s getting painfully obvious.
WFAA President and General Manager Mike Devlin said the station will no longer pursue the debate because of Abbott’s unwillingness to cooperate.
“We expect people running for the governorship to behave in an honorable fashion,” Devlin said. “At a certain point when you are dealing with somebody who doesn’t keep commitments, why would we keep going back?”
After backing out of the WFAA debate Friday, Abbott agreed to another Dallas debate on Sept. 30 hosted by KERA, NBC5/KXAS-TV, Telemundo 39 and The Dallas Morning News. However, Davis did not agree to that debate because she had already committed to the WFAA event, the Davis campaign said Tuesday. But in a statement issued later Tuesday, Petkanas said the campaign “will open discussions with KERA tomorrow regarding the possibility of a debate.”
Emphasis mine. Can’t really say it any better than that, though the full statement from Zac Petankas is worth highlighting as well:
“If Greg Abbott isn’t tough enough to handle a roundtable discussion in front of a statewide audience, it’s hard to see how he’s tough enough to be Governor of Texas,” said campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas. “However, the fact that Greg Abbott isn’t willing to keep his word shouldn’t deprive voters of the chance to see both candidates debate issues like his defense of $5.4 billion in public education cuts. In that spirit, we will open discussions with KERA tomorrow regarding the possibility of a debate.”
Perry was able to make his non-debating strategy about his opponent – Bill White’s tax returns – no matter how unjustified it was. In Abbott’s case he’s not fighting with his opponent, but with a media outlet. And it makes him look weak and petty, and it’s likely pissing off the media that Rick Perry manipulated so well.
When it comes to debate ducking, Greg Abbott is no Rick Perry.
The TXGOP had a really lousy week, and it only got worse for Greg Abbott as the Labor Day holiday weekend began. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs doesn’t wonder why the attorney general is running away from debating Wendy Davis, because he can’t say ‘no comment’ when asked about his many scandals in a debate.
Yesterday brought another indictment of the inadequate public school finance system in Texas. But the reality is that this is an indictment of the Texas finance system – the way we fund, or don’t fund in this case, our government. The last time The Lege tried to “fix” school finance in Texas they just made it worse, with a tax swap scheme that everyone knew would be the disaster it has turned into.
But the question that everyone wants to know the answer to – how do we fix this? – is simple yet unlikely to happen anytime soon. There is no way there can be a solution if our government stays under one-party rule. The extremists that now run the Texas GOP have no use for public education. Why would they try to fix a system they believe should not exist?
The simple fix for financing public education is to look at states that do it right and emulate them. More then likely the states that do it right have a way of collecting and distributing money throughout their state in a fair manner. It likely involves an state income tax – along with sales and property taxes. This likely means the other states have a less regressive tax system – the more you make the more you pay, and vice versa – where in Texas is the exact opposite, very regressive.
Raise your hand if you see that changing anytime soon in Texas. That’s what I thought.
Texas will continue to inadequately and unfairly finance it’s public education system until the public stands up and makes it’s government fix it. Then and only then will this end. This cannot be fixed in one election cycle. It will take a sustained effort over many election cycles to fix what’s been neglected for far too long.