Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Last Call

How much do Republicans hate Barack Obama?  Pennsylvania Republicans are planning on doing everything they can to change the state from winner take all 20 electoral votes in presidential elections to a split system, meaning the state would effectively go from +20 for Barack Obama next year to +2 if he won the state by the same margin.  That 18 point electoral college swing could very well put Rick Perry or Mitt Romney in the White House, and Republicans in the Keystone State want to change the rules they've had for centuries just to be the key to making that happen.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Gov. Tom Corbett and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi are proposing that the state divide up its Electoral College votes according to which candidates carried each Congressional district, plus two votes for the statewide winner. The system is used by Maine — which, despite the system, has never actually split its four electoral votes — and by Nebraska, which gave one of its five votes to Barack Obama in 2008.

Pennsylvania, however, will have 20 electoral votes in the 2012 election. What’s more, the measure would give even greater meaning to the state’s redistricting for the House of Representatives, giving it a powerful effect over the presidency in addition to the House.

Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992, and voted for Barack Obama by 55%-44% in 2008. Indeed, over the past 50 years it has only voted Republican in presidential landslides for the GOP: 1972, 1980, 1984, and finally 1988. While the results have sometimes been narrow for the Dems, it is a state that can be expected to vote Democratic for president in the context of a close national campaign, such as its votes for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.

Had this proposed system been in place in 2008, when Obama won the state by a ten-point margin, he in fact would have only taken 11 out of the state’s 21 electoral votes at the time — due to a combination of past Republican-led redistricting efforts to maximize their district strength, and Obama’s votes being especially concentrated within urban areas.

There's a reason Republicans keep doing this in blue-leaning states...they want to get rid of blue states.  Functionally, unless a equally large red battleground state like North Carolina or Georgia did this (or ideally Texas) then it strongly favors the Republicans.

This only is truly "fair" like the Republicans pretend it is if all 50 states do it, and maybe that's actually a good idea.  As it stands right now however, this is a Republican power grab, pure and simple.  Mother Jones's Nick Baumann has more on this mess here.

But that's what they do once they get in power, they immediately change the rules to stay in power.

PS, Pennsylvania Dems?  You stayed home in 2010.  Way to teach Barack Obama a lesson!

Warren Piece

TPM is breaking the news this evening that Elizabeth Warren is officially running for Scott Brown's Senate seat in Massachusetts.

Former White House financial reform adviser Elizabeth Warren will officially launch her campaign for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts on Wednesday, challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown, a source close to Warren told TPM on Tuesday.

“The pressures on middle class families are worse than ever, but it is the big corporations that get their way in Washington,” Warren said in a statement. “I want to change that. I will work my heart out to earn the trust of the people of Massachusetts.”

Warren has been exploring a run in recent weeks, and has been on a listening tour of the state.

This is excellent news.  Now, Scott Brown's record on voting has him to the left of a few Blue Dog Dems in the Senate, but I'd take Elizabeth Warren as his replacement in a heartbeat.  The main reason Scott Brown is even Senator is because Martha Coakley ran the worst Senate campaign in Massachusetts history, but also because Democrats started surrendering to the emo back in January 2010.  In hindsight, Republican control of the House was inevitable when we had people giving up as early as then.

Brown's seat is one of the rare pickup opportunities we have in the Senate now, and the time to start motivating people to vote for Liz Warren is now.  We will not get rid of Republican obstruction without more and better Democrats in Congress.

Legislating Bigotry, Part 2

My home state of North Carolina continues to push codifying hate into the state constitution as Republicans (and more than a few Democrats) in the state House overwhelmingly passed a bill to permanently reduce LGBT citizens to second-class status.

The North Carolina House of Representatives passed today, 75-42, a proposed anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment that would ban marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships and other relationship recognition for same-sex couples.

The House took up the amendment after its rushed passage through the chamber’s Rules Committee earlier this afternoon. It came as another surprise move by Republican legislative leaders, who had previously announced, though sneakily, that the amendment would be heard today in a Senate committee. Sources say two GOP senators had excused absences, leaving the body without the votes for passage.

The newest version of the amendment, SB 514, moves the ballot date from November 2012 to the primary election in May 2012. Speaker of the House Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) said the date change was a way to “remove politics” from the issue.

Yeah, because by holding the Hate The Gays vote during a hotly contested Republican primary race in May, it "removes politics" from the issue.  What it does of course is assure the bill will have zero problems passing as North Carolina Republicans take aim at yet another minority group they wish to destroy.

Having said that, there were more than a few Democrats who pushed back.

One of the strongest speeches against the measure came from Forsyth County’s Larry Womble.
“This proposed piece of legislation is clearly an example of discrimination,” Womble said. “It is discrimination in its highest form…We’ve been so silent on some of the atrocities committed in this state against other people, human beings; the only difference is it might be the texture of their hair, the pigmentation of their skin or the color of their eyes. We are again today discriminating against people who are citizens. They are not criminals. They’ve not broken any laws. I assume they register and vote. They go to school. They work. They want to ascribe to the best that this society can offer…North Carolina is bigger than this. North Carolina is better than this. We need to rise to the occasion as we have done before when there’s been issues that are not right and not fair.”

Sadly, my home state's long and storied history of hatred shows that North Carolina is only "bigger and better than that" only when it is dragged kicking and screaming into doing so after decades of discrimination and embarrassment as a national laughing stock.  Sadly, this still puts it ahead of neighboring South Carolina by a generation or two in that respect.

As I have said time and again, the tyranny of the majority is alive and well in America and is one of the chief tools of the Republican Party.

Oops! This Nixon Is Not A Crook!

I can't very well pass this up:

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The 21-year-old son of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has been cited for marijuana possession.

KRCG-TV reports (http://bit.ly/q4v8fa ) that Willson Nixon was cited early Saturday for possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana after police were called to investigate complaints of a loud party at a Columbia apartment complex.

The governor issued a statement Monday calling his son "a fine young man" and the marijuana citation "a private matter that will be handled through the municipal process."

Nixon has always taken the safe and taken the conservative position on drugs. He has consistently pressed for tougher legislation and it has only been a couple of weeks since his ban on K2 went through. Nixon shows that he lumps marijuana in with other, stronger drugs.  And hey, don't forget his support for having to show ID and get a prescription for over-the-counter cold medicine.  Because poor people don't have enough hoops to jump through for relief from sickness.  I guess the truth lies somewhere between over-the-counter and "whose bag of weed is that on the coffee table" but I won't hold out hope that he will be straight about it.

How's that for a private matter, Jay? How does it feel now that your son has been proven to be like thousands of other young people in this state, people that you have fought to send to prison? I have to wonder how he can stand up and push for stronger laws now, at least with a straight face.

In Which Bon Disagrees With WaPost

The Washington Post ran an article that brought up some good discussion about plagiarism and linking.  I'm going to throw out my take on it, but I say upfront that I have no legal or ethical backing besides some overall Internet research. Ironic, but there you have it.

The essay, by freelance writer Anna Lewis, was partly about the early history of women in computer science. During the 1960s and ’70s, women were welcomed into the field as computer programmers. In numbers and responsibility, women were gaining ground rapidly, unusual for science fields back then.

Lewis’s essay opened by looking back to a 1967 article from Cosmopolitan magazine, “The Computer Girls,” which touted the new science as a career that young women should pursue. Lewis finished her essay by describing her recent difficulties in bringing young women into Fog Creek Software, where she worked as a recruiter.

Lewis said she found the Cosmo article on Ensmenger’s site through a Google search. Her only attribution was to Thomas J. Misa’s essay collection “Gender Codes: Why Women Are Leaving Computing,” in which Ensmenger has one key essay and cites the Cosmo story. Lewis did not cite Ensmenger directly.

In the original blog posting, Lewis embedded lots of links to her sources, including one to Ensmenger’s Web site. “In my mind, linking is far more powerful than a footnote or citation,” because it takes a reader to the source’s Web site, where there is a biography, a link to the book and more, Lewis said.

But links are hard to reproduce in a print version. And Dry didn’t insert any links into The Post’s online version. So in print and online, Lewis’s Outlook story has too little attribution.

This was Lewis’s first piece for a major media outlet. Veteran journalists, if they had come across Ensmenger’s Web site and book, would have interviewed him and probably quoted him. He is clearly an expert in this field.

I don't think she did anything wrong.  She could have gone a step deeper into her printed version to reflect the links that were in place, and I don't think it would have been wrong to do so.  But she didn't, and I think that choice was made at her discretion and is valid.

Why? Because while she failed to call him by name, she had linked to his work. If he was truly one of many sources, she has the right to draw the line somewhere.  After reading the entire article, I think linking to the source she used rather than the source of the source she used was completely reasonable.  The argument that it is hard to find his work in an old magazine isn't legit, that's how she found it.  The writer for the Post says in his final comments that it wasn't criminal but was sloppy attribution.  I still don't agree.  She quoted the source used and did not try to pass it off as her own insight or knowledge.  A reader who wanted to know more could find the original work easily with the information provided.

There are a few subjects that come from this that I find interesting.  First, is the standard for regular folks different than that for professional journalists?  In a time when any hack with a laptop can blog his merry butt off, where is the line from regular guy to professional?  I also agree that in electronic form linking equates attribution.  The one fault I found was that when it was converted to print anything linked should have been cited.

Once upon a time, there were few sources to look at.  Books, periodicals and people were the sources.  Now one can Google thousands of documents that contain a particular phrase.  The spirit of the law should be upheld, but the law itself needs some clarification and updating.

There is also the responsibility of journalism, and professional ethics.  If she really is guilty of anything, it is misjudgment.  However, I am well versed in expectations and legalities this and I really think "on the fence" is as bad as it gets here.  Meanwhile a rookie's possible mistake may end a career, and I'd hate to see that.

The Big GOP Debate Thread

And pretty much here's everything you need to know about last night's GOP Clown Car Cavalcade:

In Tampa, Florida at the CNN/Tea Party Express debate Monday night, the tea party-filled audience literally cheered aloud for the uninsured to be allowed to die.

The moment came during an exchange between moderator Wolf Blitzer and Ron Paul, whose libertarian views often make for good theater at Republican debates.

Blitzer asked if under Paul’s libertarian philosophy, a sick man without insurance should be allowed to die in the hospital rather than have the state pay his medical bills. Before Paul could answer that question, shouts of “yes!” and cheering bubbled up from the audience.

And that's pretty much it, folks.  Take your own risks, and if you die, screw you.  Ron Paul's America has no use for the weak.  But really, there's no difference between these guys and President Obama, right?  Because after all, the GOP is pro-cancer, pro-racism, and pro doing nothing while the country burns.  Just like the Dems!

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Gosh, Republicans have no plans to pass the President's jobs bill.  Big surprise.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor continued to reach out to work with President Obama on his jobs bill Monday, but emphasized that Republicans are focused on items they support in the plan like the tax breaks and will oppose the administration's request for new federal spending for infrastructure projects.
"Anything that is akin to the stimulus bill is not going to be acceptable to the American people," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said.

But millions of unemployed are acceptable to the American people?  Failing bridges and roads are acceptable?  Having to lay off thousands of teachers is acceptable?  Of course it is to Republicans, as long as a Democrat is in the White House, the entire country can burn.

Better vote Republican so they stop taking hostages, right?

Louisville Bridge Is Falling Down, Part 2

Monday was a nightmare along the Ohio River in Louisville yesterday morning as traffic was backed up for five miles due to the closure of the Sherman Minton bridge this weekend because inspections revealed cracks in the steel.

The Sherman Minton bridge is closed and there is no word yet on when it will re-open. Monday morning was the first day Hoosiers had to make their way into Kentucky with only two bridges instead of three.

Officials say the biggest issue was on I-65 where it was back up about 5 miles to the bridge. Typically they only see a mile backup.

"We've seen traffic delays on I-65 and that's what we expected," says Andrea Clifford with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Road and emergency officials from Kentucky and Indiana kept a close eye on all of it at the MetroSafe Command Center and relayed that information to the extra officers and crew out on the roads.

And let me repeat:  nobody knows how long the Sherman Minton will be out of commission.  Most likely it will be several months.  You figure that adds two hours to the commute time for 100,000 commuting workers in the Louisville area every day for six months or so, and that's ballpark hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity...on top of the cost of fixing the bridge.

You tell me more regular maintenance spent on that bridge over a number of weekend closures wouldn't be worth less than what this is costing Louisville taxpayers in money and more importantly time.

But hey, this is what happens when you say "government is worthless and wastes our money" and you insist on smaller government, people.  You get bridges that are falling apart.

Enjoy, assholes.  No sympathy when you vote for the party that wants to cut funding for bridges and highways by 33%.


Related Posts with Thumbnails