Rolling in the New Year: 2014 edition

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-12-2013-05-2008

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Fireworks

Let the countdowns begin, let the resolutions be made (even if only for a day)!

Relive 2013 … to the tune of Billy Joel

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-12-2013-05-2008

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A terrific romp through 2013 by Dan Amira and Abraham Rieseman for New York Magazine‘s Daily Intelligencer set to the tune of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel:

Enjoy!

Party favors: The Democrats aren’t popular, but the Republicans are much worse off

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-12-2013-05-2008

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The recent shutdown debacle had a large effect on the net favorability for Republicans, bringing their numbers to levels far worse than Gingrich’s shutdown did and even worse than what we saw with the Clinton impeachment circus. We might expect this to be a temporary dip followed by a recovery over the next six months or so (although it is possible it could be more enduring as in the post-2004 slide). Indeed, over the past two months, we have seen a slight recovery already that the trendline is not sensitive enough to pick up, as net favorability increased by an average of about three points from October to December in polls from the same pollster. (Please note the most recent data available when I collected the data were from the beginning of December.)

One might be forgiven for thinking that Democrats suffered their own calamity of popularity during the month of November based on the media coverage. However, that just isn’t the case. In a mirror image of Republicans, Democrats suffered a small decline in net favorability, by an average of just three points from October to December in polls from the same pollster. Democratic favorability did, however, decline in the late summer and early fall as well. This leaves Democrats with a net favorability somewhere around 15-25 points greater than Republicans, just like at the beginning of 2013. This is a far better position than Democrats found themselves in at the beginning of 2010, when Democrats had a net favorability only about five points higher than Republicans. Not only that, but the Tea Party is no longer a bright, shiny plaything for the media to gush over; rather, it is about as tarnished as the Republican Party itself.

Data for Democrats, the Democratic Favorability Advantage, the Tea Party, and some comments below the fold.

Happy New Year! Predictions for 2014

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-12-2013-05-2008

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It’s almost 2014. There were a few moments in 2013 when I thought I might not make it to 2014. But I’m still here.

If you started reading this post because you want to know what I’m predicting for the coming 12 months, I’m sorry for the trickery. Because I rarely make predictions. And when I do they include a lot of hemming and hawwing and ifs and buts. So not really predictions worthy of the name.

Psychics, however, especially Psychics® and Psychics™, are again hard at work telling us what they “see” through the veils of time and whatever other gobbledegook they blanket their forecasts with.

The smart ones and dumb ones alike offer up lots of predictions so that maybe, just maybe, they’ll hit one that they can then use to market the “accuracy” of their skills to whomever drops by for a “reading.” Everybody gets one right occasionally. Predict enough times that the Pope will die or a recession will start or a movie star will be murdered and eventually: Bullseye! Just get the masses to ignore the hundreds of misses. Absolutely no embarrassment from the failed psychics as long as the cash flows.

In case you wanna keep score anyway, here are some selected psychic predictions for 2014. And remember, if any of these turn out to be true, you read it here first and I didn’t even ask for your bank account PIN.

Sidney Friedman:

• Edward Snowden will return to the United States and will NOT face trial.

• Chivalry returns.

• Most improbably, the 2014 elections see Texas turning blue.

• With sincere hopes the following does not occur, I sense two natural disasters striking nearly simultaneously in the United States.

Charles Cox:

• Queen Elizabeth will no longer reign (not sure if that’s attributed to declined health or just time to let the throne go). We will lose Prince Philip in 2014 and this may be the event which motivates her to abdicate.

•  Earthquakes in the Midwest, perhaps along the New Madrid fault. The Mississippi River changing course could be a result of such activity.

• NASA reveals that their data shows that there is currently life on Mars.

• There will be food safety scares again in 2014 surrounding fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tara Greene:

• The Occupy movement becomes the “WE1” we, one, movement. Mass protests worldwide will inevitably have to be televised. Huge civil blockades, strikes, on major highways, in every major city will be synchronized.

• Has a very strong show at the Olympics. Putin is in his glory. There are many technological problems at the Olympics too and some unfortunate accidents. Terrorist attacks and protests are high.

• Kim Kardashian and Kanye West over the top wedding watched by millions. But Kanye West sinks his career. He is trying to control her totally. I don’t think they will last.

Karl Rove:

• Republicans will keep the House with a modest pickup of 4-6 seats. The GOP will most likely end up with 50 or 51 Senate seats (in the former case, keeping Vice President Joe Biden fully occupied for two years presiding over the chamber). Control of the Senate may not be decided until December’s Louisiana runoff.

• Every Republican senator and virtually every representative challenged in a primary as insufficiently conservative will win.

• The administration will resign itself to a nuclear Iran and shift to “containment,” further eroding U.S. credibility with Middle East allies.

• “Duck Dynasty” will set another cable viewership record. Miley Cyrus will fade as a cultural phenomenon.

Okay, fortune tellers, squirt some Windex on your crystal balls and lay your forecasts on your fellow Kossacks.

Democrats plan to push minimum wage increase in 2014

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-12-2013-05-2008

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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden look toward the guests in the First Lady's box at the State of the Union address in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Feb. 12, 2013.

Raising the minimum wage hits an excellent sweet spot: It’s great policy, and it’s great politics as well. It combats poverty, makes work pay … and it’s popular. Which makes it an excellent issue for Democrats to push in 2014, as they’re planning to do:

In a series of strategy meetings and conference calls among [White House officials, unions, and liberal advocacy groups] in recent weeks, they have focused on two levels: an effort to raise the federal minimum wage, which will be pushed by President Obama and congressional leaders, and a campaign to place state-level minimum wage proposals on the ballot in states with hotly contested congressional races. […]

“It puts Republicans on the wrong side of an important value issue when it comes to fairness,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the president’s senior adviser. “You can make a very strong case that this will be a helpful issue for Democrats in 2014. But the goal here is to actually get it done. That’s why the president put it on the agenda.”

States with possible minimum wage ballot initiatives include Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota, and New Mexico, while, at the federal level, President Obama will raise the issue in a series of speeches at the same time as Congress is considering it. Sadly, some Democratic senators like Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska aren’t getting behind the effort, whether due to personal conservatism or fear of opposition from well-funded business interests. But guys, really, raising the minimum wage isn’t just supported by an overwhelming majority of Democrats and a strong majority of independents, it’s supported even by a majority of Republicans. Get with the majority of voters and the majority of elected Democrats and support this.

Every time the minimum wage goes up in one state, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of workers get a raise. If putting a raise on the ballot in states with contested elections also helps elect Democrats to the House and Senate, increasing the chances that Congress will raise the federal minimum wage (and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and other bills that help workers), so much the better.

Kerry to push for solutions as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks intensify

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-12-2013-05-2008

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a joint news conference with Philippines' Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario in ManilaBy Lesley Wroughton WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hopes to narrow differences between Israelis and Palestinians in peace talks this week that are intended to guide the sides toward a deal in April, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday. Kerry departs for the region on Wednesday in his first trip after a Christmas break. Israel and Palestinians resumed peace talks in July after a three-year break aimed at producing a peace agreement within nine months to end their decades-old conflict. Such a step would also demonstrate to both Israelis and Palestinians that progress is being made.

Midday open thread: Taibbi on GOP keeping fools off the ballot, Bilbo Baggins as girl hero

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-12-2013-05-2008

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  • Today’s comic by Jen Sorensen is Job advice with Rand Paul:
    Cartoon by Jen Sorensen -  Job advice with Rand Paul
  • If Republicans really wanted to keep fools off the ballot, perhaps they should have started a while ago:

    The news came in The Wall Street Journal, where the Chamber of Commerce disclosed that it will be teaming up with Republican establishment leaders to spend $50 million in an effort to stem the tide of “fools” who have overwhelmed Republican ballots in recent seasons. […]

    There’s almost no end to the comedy of this story. First of all, there’s the sheer size of the endowment. Fifty million dollars is enough money to fund half a dozen or more Senate campaigns. That the big-business donors who traditionally have funded the Republican Party believe they need to make that kind of monster investment just to keep “fools” from getting on the ballot of a party they basically control is an incredible reflection of the state of things on that side of the political aisle.

    Then, of course, there’s the irony. Men like Karl Rove and Dick Armey practically invented the politics of stupid. In fact, they practically invented the politics of winning millions of votes every time some oversexed cosmopolitan liberal of the Matt Damon/Sean Penn genus used words like “dumb” or “stupid” to describe the preoccupations of Middle America’s God-and-guns culture.

  • U.S. population growth slowest since 1930s:

    America’s population grew by just 0.72%, or 2,255,154 people, between July 2012 and July 2013, to 316,128,839, the Census said on Monday.

    That is the weakest rate of growth since the Great Depression, according to an analysis of Census data by demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution.

  • If Bilbo were female…

    Michelle Nijhuis’s five year old daughter insisted that Bilbo Baggins was a girl. After arguing about it for a while, Michelle decided to read her The Hobbit, switching Bilbo’s gender-pronoun throughout. And it worked brilliantly. Bilbo is a great heroine: “tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender—and neither does anyone else.”

    Pat Murphy wrote a novel based on this premise: There and Back Again, which is a retelling of The Hobbit as a science fiction story in which all the characters are female (in contrast to Tolkien, whose world is all but empty of women of any sort). It is, sadly, long out of print, but available used and well worth your attention.

  • DOE rule on “social cost of carbon” will not be changed to suit conservatives.
  • Foes of the Washington Redacted football team’s racist name see 2014 a game-changing:

    The Oneida Indian Nation on Monday launched a radio ad on the District’s airwaves noting that their campaign to change the team’s name gained some prominent supporters over the course of the year, including members of Congress and President Barack Obama.

    Entitled “Historic,” the 90-second ad, marks 2013 as “the year the campaign against the R-word became a permanent movement,” and promises the New York-based tribe’s Change the Mascot campaign will continue to pressing team owner Dan Snyder for a name change.

  • After 20 years of NAFTA, promises unfulfilled except to investors:

    While it changed the country in some fundamental ways, the treaty never met many of its sweeping promises to close Mexico’s wage gap with the United States, boost job growth, fight poverty and protect the environment. Mexico’s weak unions and competition from Asia and Central America kept wages down; the tightening of security along the U.S. border closed off Mexico’s immigration “escape valve,” and environmental provisions in the agreement proved less powerful than those protecting investors.

    Mexico took advantage of the accord with the United States and Canada in some areas. The auto, electronics and agriculture sectors grew, and foreign banks moved in, increasing access to credit, but a majority of Mexicans saw little benefit in income. While there is undoubtedly a larger middle class today, Mexico is the only major Latin American country where poverty also has grown in recent years.

  • Pentagon announces Chinese Uighurs finally freed from Guantánamo:

    The last of 22 Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group concentrated in Western China, were freed from Guantanamo Bay, according to an announcement from the Pentagon on Tuesday. Their freedom comes ten years after the U.S. military determined that the men posed no threat to American national security.

  • A Tea Party Anthem by David Ippolito (That Guitar Man).
  • On today’s “classic” Kagro in the Morning show, it’s the Dec. 31, 2012 Fiscal Thingy-mania episode! Greg Dworkin joined us for a laugh/cry at blaming “both sides” for winning the election and expecting that to make a difference. So just what would the mechanics of a last minute deal be, that any single Senator could blow it u?. Hmm. Anyone know where Jim DeMint is? Plus, our UK friend, Gideon on everything from the NRA’s nuttiness on violent video games, to Mitt Romney’s self-depricating humor at the Al Smith dinner, to the lack of progressive policy representation on the Tee-Vee machine.

‘Best’ of Fox 2013: Day 8

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-12-2013-05-2008

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The ‘Best’ of Fox 2013 Tournament is almost down to the final four contenders, and this is a real heavyweight matchup between two of Fox’s more notable racial freakouts from the past year, first over Oprah saying that racism exists, and second Fox’s bizarre view that President Obama was somehow insufficiently outraged by the murder of a white guy in Oklahoma by a multi-racial (white and African American) trio of teenagers. It’s up to you to pick the craziest moment. And then in 2014 we’ll crown the craziest moment of them all.

Missed a matchup? Click here to vote in them all.

Arkansas lieutenant governor rejects calls to step down

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-12-2013-05-2008

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By Steve Barnes LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) – Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr on Tuesday rejected a request from the governor to step down after the state’s Ethics Commission found that Darr violated campaign finance rules. Amid a fight that has national political implications, Darr, a Republican and political newcomer, said in a statement his focus was on putting things right with the people of Arkansas. “He will not resign,” Amber Pool, Darr’s communications director, told Reuters. Darr accepted the Ethics Commission’s finding on Monday of 11 violations.

Despite hunger for change, Washington gridlock will likely continue

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-12-2013-05-2008

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Frustration with Washington and its political leadership continues to reach record highs, making a “throw-the-bums-out” movement appear obvious for the coming 2014 midterm elections.Or not.  So far, there are few signs that a landscape-altering “wave” election has begun to materialize.