No more Texas governors for president

“Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.” - Molly Ivins
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Back in October 2012, the University of Texas and Texas Tribune included a question in a poll to gauge Texans views of section 5.

The question got asked again in a February poll, but this time it got asked two ways.  

One question asked whether “some states” with a history of discrimination should be required to have changes to voting-related laws approved by the federal government (which is how the question in the October poll also got asked).  

But poll respondents also got a second variant of the question this time which asked if “Texas” because of its history of discrimination should be required to have changes to voting-related laws approved by the federal government.

That variant in wording shifted results for Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

When asked about “some states” without specifying Texas, 75% of Democrats favored section 5 review as did 17% of Republicans and 40% of independents.

But mention “Texas,” and Democratic support for section 5 goes to 80%, while Republican support goes to 10% (minus 7) and support from independents does to 27% (minus 13).  Republican opposition, likewise, goes from 69% to 80%.

Here’s the full breakdown.

It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now
South Carolina Republican on why GOP oppose Obamacare (via think-progress)


Happy International Women’s Day from the War on Women party!

This message brought to by the proud makers of forced ultrasound laws, crazy-assed rape theories, and the idea that women who use contraception are sluts.

Remember, Reince Priebus sez: “You go girls!… Just not very far.”


What should the President do now?

Push to repeal the sequester (a reconciliation bill in the Senate would allow repeal with 51 votes, thereby putting pressure on House Republicans), and replace it with a “Build America’s Future” Act that would close tax loopholes used by the wealthy, end corporate welfare, impose a small (1/10 of 1%) tax on financial transactions, and reduce the size of the military.

Half the revenues would be used for deficit reduction, the other half for investments in our future through education (from early-childhood through affordable higher ed), infrastructure, and basic R&D.

Also included in that bill — in order to make sure our future isn’t jeopardized by another meltdown of Wall Street — would be a resurrection of Glass-Steagall and a limit on the size of the biggest banks.

I’d make clear to the American people that they made a choice in 2012 but that right-wing House Republicans have been blocking that choice, and the only way to implement that choice is for Congress to pass the Build America’s Future Act.

If House Republicans still block it, I’d make 2014 a referendum on it and them, and do whatever I could to take back the House.

In short, the President must reframe the public debate around the future of the country and the investments we must make together in that future, rather than austerity economics. And focus on good jobs and broad-based prosperity rather than prosperity for a few and declining wages and insecurity for the many.


Stories to Watch: 3/4/13.

I find myself wondering if Antonin Scalia didn’t do the supporters of the Voting Rights Act a favor when he claimed that the right to vote was some sort of gummint giveaway to those greedy black people. His argument was so transparently racist, while being so unapologetically stupid, that you wonder if people might feel a little embarrassed to agree with him. And of course, the constant mockery of Scalia can’t be helping either. He’s literally become a joke.

Speaking of Scalia and human jokes: after hearing some compare Scalia to himself, Rush Limbaugh says the justice should be “honored” by the comparison. The man’s got an ego the size of a mountain and an intellect the size of a sunflower seed.

When it comes to marriage equality, Republicans continue to be like King Canute, trying to hold back the tide. The war is lost, the Homosexual Menace has overrun America. There’s nothing left to do but stop being so damned intolerant and crazy.

I’ve been saying for a while now that the gun regulation is most likely to be a long slog, rather than a quick victory with sweeping legislation. The comparison I’ve been using most is the long, slow-moving victory of anti-drunk driving activists against the well-funded and influential state Tavern Leagues. We need to change the culture, slowly but surely. Then regulations will follow naturally. DUI used to be a minor traffic violation — now it’s a reason for outrage. There’s no going back.

Florida offers a great example of how the GOP rebranding effort is likely to work pretty much everywhere: a GOP leader does something halfway sane to save his and his party’s hide, but the crazyassed base torpedoes it out of ideological purity, thus dooming the party to further and deeper irrelevance.

President Obama has three new nominees to fill various cabinet posts. What rightwing freakout will hold these up? Any guesses? Charges of ye olde witchery, mayhaps?

A Dominican escort says she was paid by “a lawyer who approached her and a friend” to spin a yarn involving New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez and prostitutes. “That man has in turn identified another lawyer who gave him a script for the tape and paid him to find women to fabricate the claims,” the report goes on. Did Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller set him up? Someone did — and the Caller’s been riding the phony Menendez-hooker story like a circus pony.

Finally, here’s yet more evidence that Mitch McConnell and the Kentucky GOP are scared to death of Ashley Judd.

[cartoon via Truthdig]


With the sequester now beginning, I find myself thinking about Robert F. Kennedy — and 46 years ago when I was an intern in his Senate office.

1967 was a difficult time for the nation. America was deeply split over civil rights and the Vietnam War. Many of our cities were burning. The war was escalating.

But RFK was upbeat. He was also busy and intense — drafting legislation, lining up votes, speaking to the poor, inspiring the young. I was awed by his energy and optimism, and his overriding passion for social justice and the public good. (Within a few months he’d declare his intention to run for president. Within a year he’d be dead.)

The nation is once again polarized, but I don’t hear our politicians talking about social justice or the public good. They’re talking instead about the budget deficit and sequestration.

At bottom, though, the issue is still social justice.

The austerity economics on which we’ve embarked is a cruel hoax — cruel because it hurts those who are already hurt the most; a hoax because it doesn’t work.

The trickle-down-economics, on which Republicans base their refusal even discuss closing tax loopholes for the wealthy, is a proven failure — proven because it’s been tried before, by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush; a failure because nothing has trickled down. Taxes have been cut on the wealthy, but the real median wage keeps dropping and the rate of poverty keeps rising. Now, 22 percent of American children are in poverty.

Yet in the months (or years) ahead, federal money will be reduced for poor schools, child nutrition, preschools, and mental-health services.

Some 3.8 million who have been unemployed for more than six months will see their jobless benefits cut.

Some 600,000 low-income women and children will no longer benefit from the federal nutrition program for women and toddlers.

Lower-income Americans are already suffering disproportionately from high unemployment. But they will bear even more of the burden of joblessness as the economy slows because of the sequester.

Meanwhile, America has become far more unequal than it was in 1967. Then, the richest 1 percent got 9 percent of the nation’s total income and paid a top marginal tax of 78 percent (and an effective rate, after deductions and credits, of 54 percent).

Now the richest 1 percent get over 20 percent of the nation’s income and pay a marginal tax of 39 percent (and an effective rate of 23 percent — or, if you’re in Mitt Romney’s league, less than 19 percent). The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million combined.

If Robert Kennedy were alive today he’d condemn the Tea Party Republicans (and the Koch Brother billionaires who fund them) for violating the basic ideal of social justice that’s the moral foundation of this nation.


MAPS: Did Your Congressmember Vote Against The Violence Against Women Act? (List continues here.) 

>:( Yes. ALL of them.


MAPS: Did Your Congressmember Vote Against The Violence Against Women Act? (List continues here.) 

>:( Yes. ALL of them.


Stories to Watch: 2/28/13.

A Texas school worker is accidentally shot during a weapons training class. “The class was part of an effort to permit teachers to carry firearms on [Van Independent School District] campuses,” the report tells us. See, the person who did the shooting will soon be carrying a loaded weapon to “protect” school kids. This is not off to the best start and you hope against hope that this boneheaded program doesn’t lead to a tragic — and entirely predictable — end.

The Senate Judiciary Committee delays action on several gun control measures for a week, in order to try to rally support for a renewed assault weapons ban. It doesn’t bode well for the AR ban, but other measures seem to stand a better chance. In any case, public support on the issue is high enough to guarantee that this won’t be the only chance to get gun regulations through the goalposts. If it’s a long trek, then it’s a long trek — but we’ll get it done. It used to be that lobbying by state Tavern Leagues kept drunk driving penalties lax, but years and years of pressure from citizens and the stories of family loss got laws against drunk driving where they are today. Defanging the NRA could be a similarly long term — but eminently doable — project.

Bloomberg Businessweek apologizes for a seriously racist magazine cover.

Wow. National Review Online writes a sexist and racist rebuttal to a New York Times piece about the struggles of victims of rape in the military. Why? Because it seemed like a good opportunity to attack feminism. I shit you not.

Democratic congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis has a few words for Supreme Court Justice Scalia about freedom, the Voting Rights Act, and Scalia’s racist theories about “racial entitlements.”

The White House files a brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down California’s homophobic anti-marriage equality law.

Ohio dem Senator Sherrod Brown would very much like to begin a much-needed round of trust-busting. Too big to fail = too big to exist.

Wisconsin GOP Rep. Sean Duffy continues to be one of the most clownish House Republicans. Asked if he supported a bill that would require women to undergo completely unnecessary trans-vaginal ultrasounds, Duffy said he didn’t know what a trans-vaginal ultrasound was. “I haven’t had one,” he said.

Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins goes fullblown antisemitic. Did I mention that FRC spends a lot of time denying they’re a hate group? Yeah, they can go ahead stop that now.

Finally, a conservative polling outfit finds — as every other poll has so far — that the public will blame Republicans for the sequester more than President Obama and that the public doesn’t have a lot of appetite for deep spending cuts. Comments the pollster, “These are desperate times for fiscal conservatives.”

[cartoon via Cagle Cartoons]

From yesterday. Yowza.

Let’s be clear, none of this is necessary. It’s happening because a choice that Republicans in Congress made…because they refused to budge on closing a single, wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit.
Barack Obama on sequestration  (via demnewswire)


Yes, this got polled back in October 2012 by the University of Texas.

Overall, 51% of Texans in the poll favor continuation of section 5 and 36% oppose.  

As you might expect, that breaks down on party lines to 81% of Democrats in favor of the statute vs. 24% of Republicans.

On ethnicity lines, the poll showed support for section 5 from 42% of Anglos, 83% of African-Americans, and 64% of Hispanics.

The poll summary slides here.  The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.46%.


Say you’re an Oklahoma state senator, busy with important Oklahoma state business, when you’re approached by a “natural family planning expert” who says women shouldn’t be taking birth control because “part of their identity is the potential to be a mother.”

What do you do?

A) Gently suggest that this doctor ask Hollywood Upstairs Medical College for a tuition refund.

B) Sponsor a bill letting employers exclude birth control and abortion coverage from insurance plans.

One guess how this turns out.

Battling tears, the father of one of the first-graders slain at the December elementary school massacre in Connecticut pleaded with senators on Wednesday to ban assault weapons like the gun that killed his 6-year-old son.

“I’m not here for sympathy,” Neil Heslin, a 50-year-old construction worker who said he grew up with guns and had been teaching his son, Jesse, about them. “I’m here because of my son.”

Heslin spoke for 11 minutes, his voice barely audible and breaking at times, to the Senate Judiciary Committee that is deeply divided over the issue of curbing guns.

The panel was holding a hearing on a bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to ban assault weapons and ammunition magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds. Feinstein and her allies said her measure would reduce the deaths such high-powered firearms can cause, but Republicans on the panel said the move would violate the constitutional right to bear arms and take guns away from law-abiding citizens who use them for self-defense.

Heslin said he supports sportsmen and the Second Amendment right for citizens to have firearms. But he said that amendment was written centuries before weapons as deadly as assault weapons were invented.

“No person should have to go through what myself” and other victims’ families have had to endure, Heslin told the lawmakers.

He recalled the morning of Dec. 14, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster assault weapon to kill 20 first-graders and six staffers at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

“He said it’s all going to be OK,” Heslin said his son told him when he dropped him off at school. He added, “And it wasn’t OK.”


Indiana Star reporter Mary Beth Schneider’s timeline of Indiana GOP hypocrisy.

Democrats peppered both SB 528 and another anti-abortion bill — SB 489, which mandates color photos in abortion consent forms — with a series of amendments saying the same requirements in those bills should apply to clinics and drugs for erectile dysfunction.

“If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander,” said Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis. “If this bill really is about the health of the female… then let’s make sure that the health of the Hoosier male is just as met.”

If it is important to mandate an invasive ultrasound for women, she said, then it should be equally important for lawmakers to require men to go through invasive physical procedures to get erectile dysfunction treatment.

Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, sought a similar amendment to SB 489l, requiring color photographs of vasectomies be shown to men considering that sterilization procedure, and requiring that men be told about the risks, just as women getting an abortion are required by state law to be told of the risks. If lawmakers are concerned about men’s health, Stoops said, men should be warned about scrotum infections and the emotional trauma of losing fertility.

And, he said, men should not be discriminated against. They should undergo a prostate exam, something as invasive as a transvaginal probe.

Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, angrily accused Democrats of making a mockery of his bill, which he noted also ends a requirement that women be forced to hear the fetal heartbeat.

No, Mike Young. The mockery is your bill that forces an invasive procedure on women and pretending to be for their good.