The view from California, Part 2

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


Democratic Rep. Ami Bera

The good news? Ami Bera was re-elected. The not so good news? The legislature.

It has been nearly three weeks since election day, and while there are still tens of thousands of ballots left to be counted across the state (yes, it takes us that long to get anything done), just about every single race has been decided.

When we last checked in on the situation in the Golden State, there were still some federal races to be decided, including the state’s 7th District, where former Republican Rep. Doug Ose was challenging freshman Democrat Ami Bera. It turned into the most expensive congressional race in the country, with both campaigns and their allied groups dropping nearly $20 million into the race. In the end, though, Democrats swept every single contested race for federal office, leaving them with a +1 gain in the delegation. If only Democrats could bottle what we do in California and export it to the rest of the country.

Unfortunately, not everything was sunshine and rainbows, as down-ballot races features losses for Democrats and progressives at the state and legislative level. More on all that below the fold.

Angry about Ferguson? Good. Join the Brown family in fighting for the Michael Brown Law.

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


Michael Brown Sr., father of fatally shot Michael Brown, attends the Peace Fest rally in St. Louis, Missouri August 24, 2014. Hundreds of people gathered in a St Louis park on Sunday for the rally against police violence that brought together the family o

Michael Brown, Sr., and the Brown family won’t give up fighting for positive change. Please join them.

What can we do? This is the question with which many of us are grappling in the days after learning that the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing an unarmed Michael Brown on August 9. What can we do? What do we do with the anguish and the anger we feel about this case and about the systemic mistreatment of black and brown people in our country by the police, the judicial system, and by their fellow citizens?

We protest, peacefully. We fight for change. And that’s what people are doing all over this country right now. Michael Brown’s family has urged us to do exactly that, protest and fight for change. Although many of you have seen it, here again is the statement they issued after the grand jury decision was announced:

We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.

While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.

Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.

We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction.

Let’s not just make noise, let’s make a difference.

Would putting a body camera on every police officer in America end police abuse? Of course not. But as you can see beneath the fold, there is evidence to suggest that it would have an impact.

Immigration Could Scramble GOP 2016 Bids

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


As the 2016 presidential race speeds closer, immigration will take an even more prominent role in plaguing the party’s standard-bearers.

The damage done by America’s rags-to-riches mythology

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


Illustration from Horatio Alger's

Horatio Alger’s ‘Bootblacks’ jumpstarted the rags to riches American myth.

Rags-to-riches stories have been with us in the United States since before we were a country. Immigrants by the millions came to our shores in search of a better life and wealth. Many of these stories were popularized in mid-19th century by Horatio Alger Jr., through his tales written for young boys about young boys going from rags to riches—which in reality turned out to be nothing but a myth. His stories were a little creepy, with an older man always taking care of a young boy, but that is for another diary.

Horatio Alger Jr. does not have a corner on the market with perpetuating the myth of rags to riches. We see it in films like Ma and Pa Kettle, Rocky, and Trading Places. On television we see it on The Beverly Hillbillies, game shows like Who Wants to be a Millionaire, talent shows like American Idol, and reality shows like Survivor. The theme of the movies and scripted television shows is that anyone with a little luck, or with a skill, can become rich. Game shows push the myth that you can play and win; however, they never show the winner having to sell the prizes to pay taxes on their winnings, or how people struggle dealing with sudden fame and fortune. Shows like American Idol portray how “easy” it is to become a star, but in reality very few fortunes are made in the music business, there are millions of amazing artists out there who play in bars every weekend with no shot at ever getting a huge recording contract.

Reality shows like Survivor actually exhibit the worst side of the chase for wealth—that it’s okay to screw over your fellow man or woman to win a million dollars.

Jump below the fold for more.

Officer Darren Wilson resigns, Ferguson mayor says some reforms are on the way

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


Police officers point their weapons at demonstrators protesting against the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 18, 2014. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades at protesters on Monday after days of unrest sparked by the fatal sh

Word spread on Saturday night that Officer Darren Wilson had resigned from the Ferguson, Missouri, police department days after a grand jury failed to indict him for shooting and killing an unarmed teenager in August. On Sunday, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said in a press conference that Wilson will not get a severance package, though Wilson’s unemployment will be cushioned by hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from people expressing their support for his actions. Because racism.

Knowles also outlined some plans to improve relations between the mostly white Ferguson police force and the city’s mostly black residents, including a citizen review board on police procedures, an increased stipend for police officers who actually live in Ferguson, and police academy scholarships for African Americans who would then work for the city. In the same press conference, Ferguson’s police chief said he did not intend to resign.

Fighting back in 2016: A (very) early list of Democratic congressional targets

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk of Illinois speaks to supporters after beating Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias for the Senate seat formally held by U.S. President Barack Obama, at an election night rally in Wheeling, Illinois November 2, 2

Sen. Mark Kirk (IL) is liable to be among the most endangered Republicans as the 2016 cycle heats up.

Absent a handful of runoffs in the state of Louisiana, the 2014 cycle is, for all intents and purposes, over.

For Democrats, it will be comforting to put the 2014 midterm cycle in the rearview mirror. It is virtually impossible for Democrats to describe the cycle as anything less than a major disappointment. It was a cycle in which it was universally assumed, given the nature of the Senate map and the fact that the class of 2008 was a disproportionately Democratic class, that continued Democratic control of the U.S. Senate was going to be an uphill climb. The final outcome, however, was marginally worse than all but the most dire forecasts, with Republicans seizing every tossup race.

When all is said and done, absent a major upset (in the form of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu somehow holding onto her seat in Louisiana), the Democrats will have surrendered a total of nine Senate seats in the midterms, in addition to 13 seats in the U.S. House.

That not only makes 2014 a forgettable cycle, but it has real-world implications for 2016. When the consensus was that a Republican majority would wind up being comprised of 51-52 senators, that meant that Democrats would only need to pick off one to three seats in 2016 (depending, of course, on the presidential outcome). After the slightly larger-than-expected gains for the GOP, however, now the Democrats need to pick up at least four, and possibly five, Senate seats. Meanwhile, while the current series of House maps render a Democratic majority unlikely, the poor 2014 cycle means that Democrats now have gone from a rigorous hill to climb to a majority (17 seats) to a virtually insurmountable mountain (30 seats).

Still, major gains (and, yes, perhaps even a majority) are very possible in 2016. Follow past the fold to look at the best prospects for a Democratic congressional renaissance in the 2016 election cycle.

Legalize and regulate sports betting

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announcing sanctions against LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver makes an unexpected announcement supporting sports betting.  

I’ve borrowed the title of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s New York Times op-ed because I completely agree with it. Silver, the head of the most progressive and forward-thinking league in the country, argued:

[D]espite legal restrictions, sports betting is widespread. It is a thriving underground business that operates free from regulation or oversight. Because there are few legal options available, those who wish to bet resort to illicit bookmaking operations and shady offshore websites. There is no solid data on the volume of illegal sports betting activity in the United States, but some estimate that nearly $400 billion is illegally wagered on sports each year. [. . .]

In light of these domestic and global trends, the laws on sports betting should be changed. Congress should adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards. [. . .] I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.

Sounds like common sense. In fact, it sounds like the type of common sense that is behind the argument for legalizing marijuana use. Because it is common sense.

I’ll discuss why on the other side.

Dr. Ben Carson on 2016: ‘Maybe’

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


Dr. Ben Carson left the door open for a presidential run on Sunday’s ‘Meet the Press’

Deval Patrick on Ferguson: ‘I Wanted to See an Indictment’

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


On “Meet the Press,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said he wanted an indictment in the Wilson case because the community needed transparency.

Cotton on Immigration: There Weren’t the Votes in the House

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-11-2014-05-2008


Senator-Elect Tom Cotton (R-AR) says he thinks the new Congress will focus on an immigration bill.