Thursday, March 6, 2014

Last Call For Doom And Gloom

If Charlie Cook and his team at the National Journal are right about the 2014 midterms, the question isn't "Will the GOP win the Senate back" but  "How close to a 60 vote filibuster-proof majority will they get?"

At this point, eight months before the Nov. 4 election, it’s hard to see a lot of good news for congressional Democrats.

No matter how you look at it, the House seems out of reach. Today, Republicans appear a bit more likely to gain than to lose seats; it would take a cataclysmic event for Democrats to score the net gain of the 17 seats they need to take the majority.

What’s changed is that Democrats’ chances of holding onto their majority in the Senate is looking increasingly tenuous. There are now at least 10, and potentially as many as 13, Democratic-held seats in jeopardy. By contrast, only two GOP seats are in any meaningful danger, and that number hasn’t changed in six months.

In other words, Cook is predicting the GOP getting 58 seats if everything breaks their way.  That would put them in range of 60, especially if such a crushing margin caused Maine Independent Angus King to flip from caucusing with the Dems.  That would be 59.  And if you believe that, well, remember 2012?

Things are starting to look grisly for Senate Democrats. President Obama’s approval ratings average 41 percent, basically where President George W. Bush’s poll numbers were at this point before his own disastrous 2006 second-term, midterm election. And the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature legislative and policy achievement, is now even more unpopular than it was in October and November of 2010, when Democrats lost 63 seats, control of the House, and a half-dozen Senate seats. It doesn’t help that midterm electorates tend to be older and whiter than in presidential elections. Obama’s current job-approval ratings are also worse than they were in October and November of 2010.

The two most likely legislative land mines for Republicans to step on between now and Election Day have been defused: The government is now funded, and Congress won’t need to lift the debt ceiling between now and November. As a result, it is not clear where the kind of break that Democrats need could emerge.

On the other hand, Cook believes President Obama is "radioactive" and that the Democrats are doomed anyway.

Of course, they were doomed to lose the Senate in 2012, too.  And in 2016, it'll be the Republicans who have to defend their Senate Tea Party gains from 2010 in states like Ohio and Illinois.  If the Dems can hold out in November, 2016 is looking really good.

But in order to do that, we need people to vote in November.

Grayson's Got To Go If This Is True

If these allegations of domestic violence are true, then there's no place for Rep. Alan Grayson in the Democratic Party of 2014.

A judge has granted a temporary protective injunction against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson after his wife filed paperwork accusing the Orlando congressman of shoving and injuring her during an incident this past weekend.

Lolita Grayson's petition for the injunction, dated Monday, says her husband pushed her against a door, causing her to fall to the ground, during a confrontation Saturday at their home on Oak Park Road near Windermere.

In a statement, Alan Grayson's press secretary, Lauren Doney, wrote that the allegations "are absolutely false, completely unfounded, and clearly designed to vilify and harm Congressman Grayson."

"Congressman Grayson firmly denies Ms. Grayson's frivolous accusations," the statement said.

The incident comes just less than two months after Lolita Grayson filed a divorce petition stating that their marriage of nearly 24 years was "irretrievably broken."

Grayson denies the allegations and says a staffer there was a witness.

Juan Lopez, the congressman's director of constituent services, told the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday that he was present at the Grayson home Saturday and watched the incident from about 15 feet away.

Lopez said Alan Grayson never shoved or struck his wife: "Absolutely not .... It's just unfortunate that this is happening and that she would say something like this."

I understand divorces are messy, emotional, and wrenching experiences.  That's no excuse.  If Grayson did this to his wife, he's lost the privilege of representing anyone in public office, period.  Grayson has every right to fight this in court, but he knows if this is true or not.

Either way, he owes his constituents an explanation, so let's hear it.

The Kroog Vs. The Poverty Trap

Paul Krugman on GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's austerity budget, 2014 edition being a load of crap:

How so? Well, Ryan et al — conservatives in general — claim to care deeply about opportunity, about giving those not born into affluence the ability to rise. And they claim that their hostility to welfare-state programs reflects their assessment that these programs actually reduce opportunity, creating a poverty trap. As Ryan once put it,

"we don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives."

OK, do you notice the assumption here? It is that reduced incentives to work mean reduced social mobility. Is there any reason to believe this as a general proposition?

The answer of course is "no".
In fact, the evidence suggests that welfare-state programs enhance social mobility, thanks to little things like children of the poor having adequate nutrition and medical care. And conversely,of course, when such programs are absent or inadequate, the poor find themselves in a trap they often can’t escape, not because they lack the incentive, but because they lack the resources.

I mean, think about it: Do you really believe that making conditions harsh enough that poor women must work while pregnant or while they still have young children actually makes it more likely that those children will succeed in life?

The answer to that is no as well, but that's why Republicans immediately jump from this national policy argument to individual shaming and blaming of the single mother in question and respond with some increasingly awful variation of "She's the one who doomed the child to a lack of social mobility.  Bitch should have either kept her legs closed or married the kid's father.  Why should the taxpayer pick up the tab for that bad decision?"

And then these moral beacons of caring nod and shrug and pat themselves on the back, because Tough Love.  We can never have a debate over the fallacy of "hard work = success" because we're too busy stuck in the fallacy of  "unmarried women having sex = cause of all social ills".


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