Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Last Call For Brownbacked Into A Corner

Well Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback cut taxes to the point where Kansas can no longer afford to provide basic services and surprise!  Tax cuts didn't magically create jobs or growth, and the state's budget is a complete wreck.

But Kansas, you re-elected the guy last month because that'll show Obummer and those liberals what for, right?  Well guess what?  Now, the other shoe falls as those basic services are cut even more.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) on Tuesday unveiled his plan to solve his state's serious financial woes: dramatic budget cuts to state agencies by 4 percent and move $201 million from specific funds to Kansas's general funds.

Those actions, according to the Kansas City Star, will open up $280 million Kansas can use to fill its budget deficit, which analysts projected to be about $279 million by the end of June 2015.

According to Reuters, $201.5 million would be taken from other funds and moved to the general fund and $78.5 million will be saved by cutting as much as $40.7 million from Kansas state contributions to the retirement system for public employees.

So 4% cuts across the board to everything, and gotta punish those state employees some more, because we all know they're nothing but mooching scumbags.

Hey, I wonder how many state employees voted for Brownback to take money out of their pockets.

Oh well.  Cut off you nose to spite your state, right?

Thermite At A Funeral

Ta-Nehisi Coates comes not to praise The New Republic, but to bury it under big neon signs pointing to evidence that it was a festering canker of “liberal” racist drivel. He gives the publication and its more famous staff no less than they deserve.

That explains why the family rows at TNR’s virtual funeral look like the “Whites Only” section of a Jim Crow-era movie-house. For most its modern history, TNR has been an entirely white publication, which published stories confirming white people’s worst instincts. During the culture wars of the ’80s and ’90s, TNR regarded black people with an attitude ranging from removed disregard to blatant bigotry. When people discuss TNR’s racism, Andrew Sullivan’s publication of excerpts from Charles Murray’s book The Bell Curve (and a series of dissents) gets the most attention. But this fuels the lie that one infamous issue stands apart. In fact, the Bell Curve episode is remarkable for how well it fits with the rest of TNR’s history. 
The personal attitude of TNR’s longtime owner, the bigoted Martin Peretz, should be mentioned here. Peretz’s dossier of racist hits (mostly at the expense of blacks and Arabs) is shameful, and one does not have to look hard to find evidence of it in Peretz’s writing or in the sensibility of the magazine during his ownership. In 1984, long before Sullivan was tapped to helm TNR, Charles Murray was dubbing affirmative action a form of “new racism” that targeted white people. 
Two years later, Washington Post writer Richard Cohen was roundly rebuked for advocating that D.C. jewelry stores discriminate against young black men—but not by TNR. The magazine took the opportunity to convene a panel to “reflect briefly” on whether it was moral for merchants to bar black men from their stores. (“Expecting a jewelry store owner to risk his life in the service of color-blind justice is expecting too much,” the magazine concluded.) 
TNR made a habit of “reflecting briefly” on matters that were life and death to black people but were mostly abstract thought experiments to the magazine’s editors. Before, during, and after Sullivan’s tenure, the magazine seemed to believe that the kind of racism that mattered most was best evidenced in the evils of Afrocentrism, the excesses of multiculturalism, and the machinations of Jesse Jackson. It’s true that TNR’s staff roundly objected to excerpting The Bell Curve, but I was never quite sure why. Sullivan was simply exposing the dark premise that lay beneath much of the magazine’s coverage of America’s ancient dilemma.

And Coates continues with his vicious slashing, like a literary velociraptor let loose in a sheep pasture, the whole article is breathtaking. Was everybody at the magazine complicit in this? No, but that’s irrelevant, frankly. As far as I’m concerned, Chris Hughes’s massive techbro hubris actually did the world a favor for once, and mortally wounded something that should have been taken out back and shot years ago. And Sully, Marty Peretz, Charles Murray, Stephen Glass, all those guys can go straight to the septic tank of history as far as I’m concerned along with their damn “liberal” New Republic.

Winning Back The House

Greg Sargent points out that 2010 was the self-inflicted wound by Democrats that keeps on giving to the GOP, and that it's going to take another six years to even begin to fix the problem of the Republican-led House.

Today I chatted with David Wasserman, who closely tracks House districts for the Cook Political Report. Wasserman recently wrote that due to population shifts and redistricting that have resulted in huge concentrations of Democratic votes in Dem districts — wasting a lot of those votes — Democrats can now expect that the percentage of seats they win will consistently trail their victory in the overall popular vote by about four percentage points
Can regaining ground on the state level help change this? At my request, Wasserman went a bit deeper into the numbers. 
The starting point for changing it, Wasserman notes, would be in the big swing states that President Obama carried in 2012. Even though Obama won them, Dems still hold far fewer legislative and Congressional seats than Republicans do. In Ohio, the breakdown of seats in the next Congress will be 12 Republican, four Democratic. In Pennsylvania the breakdown will be 13 Republican, five Democratic. Those two states, Wasserman notes, are particularly lopsided because Democratic districts are “heavily urbanized,” with huge numbers of Dem voters concentrated in them around Columbus, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. 
Meanwhile, in Michigan the breakdown will be nine Republican, five Dem. In Wisconsin the breakdown will be five Republican, three Democratic. In North Carolina it will be 10 Republican, three Democratic. 
In all of those states, Republicans control the state legislatures. In all but one of them — Pennsylvania — Republicans also control the governor’s mansions. 

And all of this happened because in 2010 emoprog whiners said "Obama failed us!" and convinced Democrats to stay home or even to vote for the GOP because Obamacare was horrible and evil and a gift to insurance companies.  What we got stuck with was a GOP house for the next decade because of these assholes, and never, ever let them forget it.

But that's just the beginning of the issues.

 To be sure, the problem goes beyond these big swing states: In several southern states, Wasserman notes, Republicans have successfully jammed African Americans into single districts, helping to dramatically minimize the number of Dem-controlled districts in them. In states like Kansas and Utah, Democrats have no seats where they should probably have one. 
But winning back the governor’s mansions or state legislatures in these states seems harder than regaining state-level ground in the big swing states Obama carried. That’s why those seem like the best hope for Dems. 
Yet even in those big swing states, Republicans have large majorities in the state legislatures — a holdover from 2010 redistricting on the state level, too. “I don’t think there’s a realistic chance for Democrats to win back these legislatures by 2020,” Wasserman says. That means the most likely way Democrats can make a difference is to win governors’ races, which, Wasserman notes, would result in split rule that could force redistricting battles into the courts, where a more neutral outcome might result.

And we screwed ourselves on that in 2014.  We'll get another shot in four more years, but you can imagine the kind of damage Rick Snyder, Scott Walker, and Rick Scott will do to these swing states after we stayed home again in November.  Democrats in those states have nobody to blame but themselves for not voting.  You get what you deserve, guys.

And that will probably be true for me here in Kentucky in 2015 when Dinosaur Steve's second term is up, and I bet Democrats here, including myself, get exactly what's coming to us again.

But even if Democrats were to get something approaching neutral maps in these big states, Wasserman estimates, it could result in just a couple more seats in each state — adding up to a total of maybe 10 additional House seats for Democrats. That would obviously help, but it would still be short of the 30-seat edge Republicans currently hold. Democrats would still have to post pretty big victories in the next few cycles to get close to the majority. In short, beyond the problem of redistricting is the even more serious problem (for Democrats) of population distribution. 
If Democrats were to get neutral maps drawn by God in all 50 states, they would still fall well short of winning back the House,” Wasserman concludes. “What Democrats really need is a massive resettlement program.”

So yes, getting the House back means getting local and state races back.  And that'll never happen if we write off more than half of the country because it's red.


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