Ben Sargent on the Presidential election, 2012

November 15, 2012

Ben Sargent on results of 2012 Presidential Election, Austin American-Statesman

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman, November 11, 2012


Steve Schafersman, Texas State Board of Education District 15

November 6, 2012

District 15 for the Texas State Board of Education covers 77 counties in Texas’s northern Panhandle.  It’s oil (Midland), cotton, Texas prairie and small towns, and lots of schools, and some surprisingly good colleges and universities.

Texas State Board of Education District 15, TFN image

Texas State Board of Education District 15, TFN image – “District Overview
District 15 is huge, covering all of northwestern Texas. It is also arguably the most Republican SBOE district, giving more than 74 percent of the vote to Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election and more than 70 percent to Gov. Rick Perry in the 2010 gubernatorial race.”

It’s a district where science plays a big role, and should play a bigger one.  The 15th includes those lands in Texas where the Dust Bowl got started, where unwise plowing based on inaccurate readings of climate contributed to one of the greatest man-made natural resources disasters in all of history.  It’s the home of Texas Tech University, where members of the chemistry faculty created a wine industry based on the chemistry of grape selection and fermentation, and where geologists learn how to find oil.

This area leads Texas in wind power generation, a considerable factor in the state that leads the nation in wind power generation.

In short, science, engineering and other technical disciplines keep this area economically alive, and vital at times.

Of the two candidates, Democrat Steve Schafersman is a scientist, and a long-time, staunch defender of science education (what we now cutely call “STEM” subjects:  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  If the race were decided by a test in STEM subjects, Schafersman would be the winner.  Schafersman lives in Midland.

The GOP candidate in the race is religiously anti-science, Marty Rowley of Amarillo.  As a good-ol’-boy, former pastor, he’s got a lot of support from the usual suspects.  Rowley’s views on science, technology, engineering and mathematics run contrary to the business and farming interests of his entire district.  Do his supporters look to the future?

Do you vote in Midland, Lubbock, Amarillo, Dalhart, Abilene, San Angelo, Dallam County, Tom Greene County, Cooke County or Montague County?  You need to vote for Steve Shafersman.  Do your children a favor, do your schools a favor, and do your region of Texas a favor, and vote for the guy who works to make education good.

Shafersman is the better-qualified candidate, and probably among the top two or three people with experience making the SBOE work well, in the nation.  He deserves the seat, and Texas needs him.

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Steve Schafersman campaign flier:

Shafersman for Texas State Board of Education District 15

Schafersman for Texas State Board of Education District 15 – click image for larger version


Poems for an American election day

November 5, 2012

Do you get the newsletter from the Academy of American Poets?

"The Avenue in the Rain," oil on can...

“The Avenue in the Rain,” oil on canvas, by the American painter Childe Hassam. 42 in. x 22.25 in. Courtesy of The White House Collection, The White House, Washington, D. C. Image courtesy of The Athenaeum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monday’s newsletter included this list:

Poems of American Experience

People in some states complain that the liquor stores and bars won’t open on election day.  So, try the next best thing, or the better thing, and read some poetry.

What works of poetry, or literature, or visual arts, strike you as appropriate for the U.S. election day?  Which works would be most useful in school classrooms, to teach our young people about voting, how to vote, and why it’s important?

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Mr. Deity, on horns of a dilemma/election

November 1, 2012

Another great episode of “Mr. Deity.”  (Yeah, I’m several episodes behind.  Don’t even get me started on catching up on “The Wire.”)

Every parent will empathize with the problem here, letting the kids do things on their own so they can grow up, and then seeing again just what it is they actually want to do . . .

Watch all the way through.  The best stuff is in the fund raising plea at the end.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pharyngula at FTB, for reminding me of this wonderful series.  Do you ever wonder what the producers of this thing could do if they turned their attention to on-line videos on history, or economics, or molecular biology?

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Gilbert and Near, Woody’s “Pastures of Plenty”

October 20, 2012

Woody Guthrie wrote of freedom . . . when was this written? 1930-something?  [1941, it turns out.]

Ronnie Gilbert and Holly Near combine on one of my favorite arrangements of the song.

This film must be at least ten years old, maybe more.  The song is more than 60 years old [71 years -- from 1941].

It’s still a powerful indictment of corporate greed, heartless and oppressive immigration policies, and it’s a case for a strong labor movement.

Be sure you vote in the November 6 elections.  Sing this song on the way to the polls.

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Clinton’s endorsement for Christie Vilsack, Iowa’s 4th Congressional District

October 19, 2012

Former President Bill Clinton campaigned in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District for Christie Vilsack a few days ago — this ad puts his tour in 30 seconds.


12 million jobs — but not until when?

October 16, 2012

Oy.

It’s extraordinary to consider with just three weeks until Election Day, but Mitt Romney’s central argument to voters has been exposed as a total fraud.

Greg Sargent added, “Let’s recap what Kessler has discovered here. The plan that is central to Romney’s candidacy on the most important issue of this election — jobs — is a complete sham. This is every bit as bad — or worse — than Romney’s claim to have created 100,000 jobs at Bain, or his vow to cut spending by eliminating whole agencies without saying which ones, or his refusal to say how he’ll pay for his tax cuts.”

Obama’s budget NOW creates 12 million jobs in the next four years, according to projections.  Romney?  He stretches it out to ten years, but reduces the job creation, so it’s 2.5 times as long to get the same number of jobs.  Say what?  Romney’s plan reduces the number of jobs created by cutting the rate at which they are created.

Read more at Rachel Maddow’s blog, with links to the actual studies.  Maddow links to Greg Sargent’s blog, The Plum Line, at The Washington Post. 12 million jobs, Mitt Romney, economy, Bain Capital

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What if Mitt Romney were Latino? Or gay? Or a woman?

October 15, 2012

Would things really be easier for him in the election?

Here’s Rosie Perez, thinking through the possibilities. From Actually.org.

Mitt thinks he’d have a better chance of become president if he was Latino. In the first video of the Actually… series Rosie Perez explains why it will take more than being Latino for Mitt to win the election.

When lies go unchecked, we all lose. Actually.org spreads the truth, because the truth matters—even in politics. Our team calls ‘em like they see ‘em, and we hope you’ll support the truth by sharing Actually.org videos before Election Day.

Actually… is a partnership between American Bridge and JCER. Schlep Labs is a project of JCER. Actually… was produced by Amy Rubin at Barnacle Studios
http://blog.barnacle.is

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Veterans speak out: We’re not just laundry

October 6, 2012

From the Truman National Security Project, a video featuring testimony from veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan especially, questioning whether Mitt Romney has what it takes to be Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. armed forces:

This is rather the opposite of  “swift boating,” isn’t it?  An established organization active on national security issues, with a distinguished staff and board of directors, working on a shoe-string, with identified spokesmen.

The Truman Project’s blog lays out the case for President Obama’s election with respect to his initiatives on behalf of veterans.  As much as I would prefer to see those positive achievements emphasized, campaigns don’t really allow much time for careful, thoughtful explanation.

Will there be any effect from this advertisement?  What do you think?

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More magic than a cape and red underpants needed to fix economy; but that’s all GOP offers

October 4, 2012

Despite the few details he leaked in the Denver debate — which contradict almost everything he and his campaign had said earlier, not to mention the GOP platform — Mitt Romney offers not much in the realm of a program to do better than President Obama in economics, in pulling the nation out of our economic doldrums.  Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman explains:

Winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, Paul Krugman - Tavis Smiley Productions image

Winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, Paul Krugman – Tavis Smiley Productions image

As many people have noticed, Mr. Romney’s five-point “economic plan” is very nearly substance-free. It vaguely suggests that he will pursue the same goals Republicans always pursue — weaker environmental protection, lower taxes on the wealthy. But it offers neither specifics nor any indication why returning to George W. Bush’s policies would cure a slump that began on Mr. Bush’s watch.

In his Boca Raton meeting with donors, however, Mr. Romney revealed his real plan, which is to rely on magic. “My own view is,” he declared, “if we win on November 6, there will be a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. We’ll see capital come back, and we’ll see — without actually doing anything — we’ll actually get a boost in the economy.”

Are you feeling reassured?

In fairness to Mr. Romney, his assertion that electing him would spontaneously spark an economic boom is consistent with his party’s current economic dogma. Republican leaders have long insisted that the main thing holding the economy back is the “uncertainty” created by President Obama’s statements — roughly speaking, that businesspeople aren’t investing because Mr. Obama has hurt their feelings. If you believe that, it makes sense to argue that changing presidents would, all by itself, cause an economic revival.

There is, however, no evidence supporting this dogma. Our protracted economic weakness isn’t a mystery; it’s what normally happens after a major financial crisis. Furthermore, business investment has actually recovered fairly strongly since the official recession ended. What’s holding us back is mainly the continued weakness of housing combined with a vast overhang of household debt, the legacy of the Bush-era housing bubble.

By the way, in saying that our prolonged slump was predictable, I’m not saying that it was necessary. We could and should have greatly reduced the pain by combining aggressive fiscal and monetary policies with effective relief for highly indebted homeowners; the fact that we didn’t reflects a combination of timidity on the part of both the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve, and scorched-earth opposition on the part of the G.O.P.

But Mr. Romney, as I said, isn’t offering anything substantive to fight the slump, just a reprise of the usual slogans. And he has denounced the Fed’s belated effort to step up to the plate.

Read more at the New York Times.

Why do I disbelieve?

  1. For more than a year Romney’s been pushing tax cuts as a solution to everything.  It’s rather late to back out of that now.
  2. Tax cuts can’t stimulate the economy — we tried them for 8 solid years, and they crashed the economy.  One can make a great case that the Obama economy is not soaring because he agreed to extend the tax cuts, in return for getting about half of the stimulus we needed.  At some point, people hurting in this economy will realize that they can’t benefit from a tax cut if they aren’t paying huge taxes, and they aren’t paying huge taxes if they are unemployed.
  3. Tax cuts cannot be revenue neutral.  They hurt deficits.  For months Romney’s been talking about defense spending and tax cuts that add between $5 trillion to $7 trillion in to the deficit.  If he wishes to argue that deficits hurt, he’s in trouble.  If Obama argues that deficits should be used to help people, Romney will be unable to make the math work on his plan if he tries to reply.
  4. Economic theory isn’t with Romney.  Can he make that big of a snow job on voters?  Even if he does, the economy won’t take it.

Now’s a good time to beef up on the high school economics most of us took, or the college class we took.  Can you see any way to make an austere, Spain-style economy work in the U.S. without putting us into a death spiral?

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In Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, Wayne Powell

October 2, 2012

Our best bet to get the economy growing at a fast enough pace to create jobs for the unemployed, and create jobs for new graduates from high school and college, is to get a Congress that will vote for employment bills instead of making legislative gridlock.

Virginia's 7th Congressional District, 2012 - from US Atlas

Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, 2012 – from US Atlas

In Virginia, in the 7th Congressional District, Wayne Powell runs to replace GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor. You might remember Cantor as the guy who said he would not support disaster relief for Virginia’s 7th after the 2011 earthquake.  Powell is a retired Army Colonel  and Richmond attorney.

On almost every issue, Powell runs circles around  Cantor.  In debates, for example, Powell challenges Cantor to explain his votes to extend perks to Congressmen, while shorting the pay of active duty military and veterans — to no avail, Cantor won’t explain.  What could he say?

Especially, what could Cantor say to a decorated veteran like Powell?

Powell can use your help, and contributions.  Check him out at his campaign website, PowellforVA.com.

No, this isn’t the Welsh former soccer player Wayne Powell.  The Welsh Powell would probably represent Virginia better than Cantor, too, but he’s still managing Leamington FC, last I heard.

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Coda:  Yeah, Powell’s probably more conservative than most Democrats; he’ll still be better than Cantor, for Virginia, and for the nation.


If President Obama could visit your kitchen table . . .

September 29, 2012

From the Obama campaign:

During the last weeks of this campaign there will be debates, speeches and more ads. But if I could sit down with you in your living room or around the kitchen table here’s what I’d say:

When I took office we were losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month and were mired in Iraq. Today I believe that as a nation we are moving forward again. But we have much more to do to get folks back to work and make the middle class secure again.

Now, Governor Romney believes that with that even bigger tax cuts for the wealthy and fewer regulations on Wall Street all of us will prosper. In other words he’d double down on the same trickle down policies that led to the crisis in the first place. So what’s my plan?

First, we create a million new manufacturing jobs and help businesses double their exports. Give tax breaks to companies that invest in America, not that ship jobs overseas.

Second, we cut our oil imports in half and produce more American-made energy, oil, clean-coal, natural gas, and new resources like wind, solar and bio-fuels—all while doubling the fuel efficiencies of cars and trucks.

Third, we insure that we maintain the best workforce in the world by preparing 100,000 additional math and science teachers. Training 2 million Americans with the job skills they need at our community colleges. Cutting the growth of tuition in half and expanding student aid so more Americans can afford it.

Fourth, a balanced plan to reduce our deficit by four trillion dollars over the next decade on top of the trillion in spending we’ve already cut, I’d ask the wealthy to pay a little more. And as we end the war in Afghanistan let’s apply half the savings to pay down our debt and use the rest for some nation building right here at home.

It’s time for a new economic patriotism. Rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong, thriving middle class. Read my plan. Compare it to Governor Romney’s and decide for yourself. Thanks for listening.

Read the President’s plan: http://OFA.BO/SAzDgd


More GOP election fraud

September 27, 2012

Palm Beach, Fla., elections supervisor received 108 potentially fraudulent voter reg forms from firm w ties to RNC nbcnews.to/QXMDdr

Of course, voter ID laws won’t touch this stuff, so the GOP tries to run with it until they get caught.

Romney Ryan GODV Plan - Get Out! Don't Vote!

Romney Ryan GODV Plan – Get Out! Don’t Vote! (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

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Bathtub instant profundity, 1

September 26, 2012

Clearing out a backlog.

  1. Turns out that tax cuts don’t spur jobs development.  An economist at Berkeley finds that any job stimulus from tax cuts comes from tax cuts to the middle class and poor — in other words, the people who instantly stimulate demand by spending on needed goods and services.
  2. On-line version of the Library of Congress’s exhibit, “88 Books that Shaped America.”  In case you can’t make it to D.C. soon.
  3. Kennedy’s speech at Rice University, “We Choose to Go to the Moon,” was on September 12, 1962.  That was also the ninth anniversary of his marriage to Jacqueline Bouvier.  She let him go out of town to talk rockets?
  4. Thomas B. Edsall makes the case that Paul Ryan’s budget, or any version of it (like the Romney plan), would be an economic disaster for the nation, in at article titled “The Ryan Sinkhole.” Why don’t the Republicans ever listen to economists?
  5. Those “work requirements” that Ryan insists Obama has illegally stripped from law, to the great detriment of the work ethic in the U.S.?  Not only did Mitt Romney ask for them, when he was governor of Massachusetts, but earlier this year Ryan voted “yes” on a House bill to do exactly what Obama is trying to do.  Can’t Ryan keep his own stories straight?
  6. Graphic shows that summers in the U.S. are getting warmer.  More evidence for warming denialists to deny!
  7. More GOP election fraud, this time in California.
  8. It is said God looks out for drunks and babies; can we make a case that our government works better with more drunks in elective office?  David Frum discusses. (I actually have some thoughts and experience in this area . . . when to find time to discuss?)  There’s a video there, but not in a format I can embed here easily — go see.
  9. Jim Hightower tells a scary story of a coup d’etat within the borders of the United States, in Michigan.  Imaginary?  This is a guy who doesn’t see UFOs, who isn’t afraid of black helicopters . . .
  10. New studies on colony collapse disorder affecting especially commercial beehives suggests insecticides, and substances related to insecticides, may be hammering our bees; worse, EPA has known about it, but kept quiet.  Reported readably in New Yorker, 50 years after that magazine serialized a book named Silent Spring.  Rachel Carson’s Ghost joins Santayana’s Ghost pacing America, nervously, as if to awaken us all . . .

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GOP trying to shutdown votes of military, veterans, senior citizens in Ohio?

September 17, 2012

I thought the thing in Ohio was settled.

I get e-mail from the Credo Action Network:

Don’t let Republicans steal the election for Mitt Romney

Ohio has emerged as the latest front in the Republican scheme to derail democracy by disenfranchising millions of voters. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, in a blatant partisan move to steal the election for Mitt Romney, is trying to put an end to early weekend voting before Election Day. This change in Ohio election practices specifically impacts minority and low income voters.1

It’s not just Ohio. It’s also Florida and Pennsylvania. Earlier this summer, CREDO Action members signed over 87,000 petitions and made over 1,600 phone calls urging Senator Patrick Leahy, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to hold Congressional hearings on brazen Republican efforts to steal the 2012 presidential election in other key battle ground states like Florida and Pennsylvania. With Republicans showing no sign of slowing down their tenacious efforts to steal the election, we’re escalating our call for Senator Leahy to hold hearings to investigate the GOP effort to suppress the votes of millions of voters in key battleground states across the country.

Tell the Senate Judiciary Committee: Hold emergency hearings on Republicans’ schemes to steal the presidential election in key battleground states.

A prominent Ohio Republican state official has already openly admitted that Husted’s efforts to shut down weekend voting would result in African Americans voters having a more difficult time voting.2 A federal district judge struck down Husted’s effort to restrict early voting during the three days before the election, and after initially resisting that court order Husted backed down for the time being, pending appeal in higher court.3

But the crisis is not over. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that will be reviewing the district court decision to strike down Husted’s efforts to restrict early voting is “a Republican-leaning court with a history of partisan decisions benefiting the Republican Party.”4

The situation in Ohio is crucial given its recent history in Presidential elections. In 2004 hundreds of thousands of predominantly minority and Democratic voters were disenfranchised on Election Day due to massive lines and “widespread electoral dysfunction.”5 As Ari Berman reported in the Nation:

According to one survey, 174,000 Ohioans, 3 percent of the electorate, left their polling place without voting because of the interminable wait. (Bush won the state by only 118,000 votes).6

In response to the mess on Election Day in 2004, Ohio reformed its electoral process by adding early voting before Election Day, leading to a “much smoother experience” in 2008.7 The opportunity to vote early led to record turnout for African American and low income voters.

Now the Republicans in Ohio are working to disenfranchise thousands of those voters in racially diverse urban centers such as Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland. The restriction on weekend voting is specifically aimed at disrupting minority voters – for example, African-American churches historically rally their congregants to the voting booth on the Sunday before the election.8

Tell the Senate Judiciary Committee: Hold emergency hearings on Republicans’ schemes to steal the presidential election in key battleground states.

The Republican elections officials in Ohio, along with their counterparts in Florida and Pennsylvania, should be trying to help more eligible voters participate in the democratic process, not disenfranchise minorities and the poor.

With Congress returning from summer recess this week, Senator Leahy needs to get the message from as many Americans as possible that it’s not okay for Republican elections officials in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio – or any other state — to engage in systematic effort to disenfranchise U.S. citizens for the explicit purpose of swinging the election to Republican Mitt Romney in November.

Let’s keep the pressure on Senator Leahy to hold a public hearing on the GOP war on voting today.

Thank you for standing up for the right to vote.

1. Aviva Shen and Adam Peck, “Ohio Limits Early Voting Hours In Democratic Counties, Expands In Republican Counties,” ThinkProgess.com, August 10, 2012.
2. Aviva Shen, “Ohio GOP Election Board Member: Our Voting Process Shouldn’t Accommodate Black Voters,” ThinkProgress.com, August 19, 2012.
3. Ryan J. Reilly, “Ohio Secretary Of State Backs Down On Early Voting,”TalkingPointsMemo.com, September 7, 2012.
4. Ian Millhiser, “BREAKING: Federal Court Strikes Down Ohio Law Restricting Early Voting,” ThinkProgress.com, August 31, 2012.
5. Ari Berman, Ohio Early Voting Cutbacks Disenfranchise Minority Voters,” The Nation, August 8, 2012.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.
8. Gene Demby, “Black Pastors Group Criticizes Ohio For New Rules That Limit Early Voting,” HuffingtonPost.com, August 14, 2012.

What’s your view?

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