**Diane Rehm. My hero.**
Took a quick drive to get some holiday fixin's yesterday... and lucked my way into listening to a phenomenal panel review of the implications from the Nuclear Option (Duhn-duhn-duhn).
Talk about some big hitters in to chat it up for a full 51.41. (You probably don't have time to listen to the entire thing, but the first three minutes are about the Iran nuclear treaties... and after minute 34, they open the lines to callers.)
But we get to hear insight from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Former Senator Olympia Snowe, Norm Ornstein from AEI, Jonathan Weisman of the NYT and Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times.
Oh, happy holidays, government teachers who want some great sound bites...
AND OMG DID I TELL YOU ABOUT THIS? InfoGRAPHIC! (oooooohhhhhh) about the Silent filibuster!!! YAY!!!
Not to jump on a bandwagon, here... but since we are in the midst of one here in NoVa... it's likened to a deep chill. Journalists, according to the PEN America Center, writers are actively deciding to self-censor themselves... whether they be doing so on their own personal social media accounts or in their reporting... the effect of the knowledge of the PRISM program and the FISA court has scared them a l'il bit. And even your "average Joes" are all up in arms... FOIA requests are up 800% to the NSA's Pamela Phillips (chief of the NSA Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Office).
I especially love this response to the PEN Center's report from David Ulin, book critic for the LA Times. In essence: grow a pair and do your job. We live in America, we have rights and responsibilities.
Anywho, these little gems are great to consider if you are moving towards a discussion of civil liberties or media. If you have more time, you can listen to this On The Media interview of David Ulin.
Here it is, proof that my kids are right-ish, and I am wrong. (In fairness, my 2009 edition of Mags is wrong.)
TV is going by the wayside. Campaigns are seeing this and retooling their campaigns. Advertising is decreasing on TV... and even TV manufacturers are advertising their TVs as more computers to which you can give audible commands or surf the web.
This platform is dead/dying. We're watching it, and unless you are the evening news or a sports channel, you know it.
This article gives the statistical proof that it's not just millenials who are tuning out in favor of their connective devices. It's everyone who has the tiny screen.
More news from down the rabbit hole here.
Learned me some history about disclosure waivers granted by the FEC... Did you know that we have, to date, had two? One to the NAACP and one to the Socialist Worker's Party. In both cases, it was because contributors were being harassed for their aid to these groups at various points in time.
Well, the TP has asked for the same status because of the harassment of their contributors. (Evidence: the IRS harassing the TP and their contributors last spring.) And right now we have a hung commission...
Like it or not, the Senate has voted for the so-called "nuclear option" on confirming nominees. Filibusters have been used more and more in recent history to thwart the party in power, particularly for very powerful positions like administrators of Medicare & Medicaid, as well as D.C. Circuit Court positions (aka the second most powerful court in the land) That problem in completing the lauded "Plum Book" nominees has been noticeable over the last three administrations.
Celebrations, abound. This means that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-GA), for one, cannot hold appointees hostage in exchange for access to eye witnesses to the Benghazi attacks last year.
So, while many vacant positions will now (hopefully) be filled, the war over who will win in the long run has just begun. GOPs warn that retribution will come the next time the GOP has the chamber in its grasps...
But for now, we just have some confirmation hearings to attend. Here is a current list from the White House of how many guys and gals need to be confirmed.
And just for fun... the thoughts on the filibuster have moved all around the political compass... Here is abrief run down of quotes from those in power...
I have frequently looked at election results, events in D.C., stories on the evening news from around the country and wondered, Who are we?
It seems we are a people constantly bereft of history, of a compass that guides and explains why we do the things we do. I know, there is a ton of historical explanations out there as to why we are the way we are.
I wanted to highlight some of the information that has come to my attention as of late.
1. Colin Woodward's American Nations. I saw this book at Costco a while back and passed it up. I am kicking myself in the tush, because I have read articles... listened to interviews... and seen his map all over the place. I put this on my facebook page recently, and a friend of mine from back home in Northern Ohio pinpointed the very same sentiment I have had traveling throughout the Great State of O-H-I-O. Depending on how far south you go, it's like passing through another world. (Which may explain this great infographic about Ohio and the 2012 election.)
2-4. The WaPo's Washington: A World Apart. If we can't reach an understanding of what makes America tick based on culture, surely it has to be based on social class and income inequality. I like this infographic because it allows you to drill down to your zip code and compare median income with those incomes all around you... or far, far away. If that doesn't complete the picture enough for you, what about a map that details local usage of federal welfare benefits? Or how the tax burden has changed over time?
Have suggestions? More places to wax philosophic on all things American culture & political socialization?
Almost one full week later, and the dust is settling in my neck of the woods, and conservatives everywhere are coming to terms with Terry McAuliffe as Governor. (One of my students told me that McAuliffe's nickname is McAwful... but wait, don't forget that Cuccinelli went by the moniker Mr. ABC... Anyone But Cuccinelli.
So how did McAuliffe do it? The wonks over at WaPo can tell us...
The map above focuses only on the counties in VA that flipped from Blue to Red and vice versa, showing that McAuliffe really campaigned hard in the growing urban and suburban regions in the state. Without a good turn out in these areas, it stands to reason that McA wouldn't have won.
I wanted to turn my attention to the Libertarian for a moment, Robert Sarvis. He won 6.55% of the vote, which according to the University of Minnesota's Smart Politics, is the third best Libertarian showing in gubernatorial races ever. While I have harped a lot on the schism in the Republicans, I find that the Libertarians gradual expansion in elections is a rather interesting phenom, as well. At a minimum, they have played the spoiler role in many an election as of late, but perhaps there is something else going on. Afterall, Gary Johnson got about 1% of the vote last time around, which isn't all that bad for a dude who was unknown
... but it made me chuckle. Perhaps you can enjoy this for yourself when you want to wax philosophic about media bias.
Voter turnout is low. Excitement is minimal. Signs in the yards indicate the truly dyed-in-the-wool partisan folks. So, how do these off-year elections measure in election lore?
They are important. Really important to parties in particular. Now, as a Virginian I do care about who the g-o-v is, but I am sure that outside of VA, NJ, and the NY Mayoral race... no one cares.
Exploring this concept (and depending on who you speak to about this matter), the off-year elections in the states of New Jersey and Virginia can be read as a referendum on the Republican party, as stated in NPR this morning. It should be pointed out that gubernatorial race went against the party in power back to the 1970s, as indicated above.
Now, Larry Sabato says that off-year elections are not a referendum; that exit polls show that despite a swing to the right in the last few election cycles, most voters in these states are generally supportive of Obama in particular.
In off-year elections, supporters of the opposition party and those who are dissatisfied with the status quo in Washington are usually more energized than supporters of the president’s party and those who are satisfied with the status quo. This helps to explain why candidates from the president’s party have lost the last six gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey. But this doesn’t mean that these elections should be viewed as referenda on the performance of the president. Even with the Republican skew of the electorates in Virginia and New Jersey, the exit polls showed that President Obama was fairly popular in both states: 48 percent of the voters in Virginia and 57 percent of the voters in New Jersey approved of his job performance.
Sabato concludes that these two states are no indicator of larger trends to follow. However, I wonder if he would be singing the same tune today? After all, one could argue the referendum is more about who is in control of the GOP: the Old Guard or the Tea Party? If Christie wins in blue NJ, and Cuccinelli loses, does that mean that the TP is not looking like the rallying point for the GOP? Will the shutdown do more damage to Cuccinelli, especially considering the effort of the left to tie Cuccinelli's conservative politics to the shutdown in a state so dependent upon federal spending? It all adds up for some political conjecture, I say.
(If in particular you are interested in reading more about the VA race, Cuccinelli as a conservative, McAuliffe, Sarvis, or the NJ race... read here :)
And if that isn't enough to get you up in the morning, check out the ballot initiatives around the country today.
The buzz over Sebelius's testimony before Congress is at a fevered pitch. I thought it would be a fun time to talk about who else has testified... Remember, these folks are called by the committee in question to testify. Who testifies is very important, for failing to get all vested parties can create bias in upcoming legislation.
These hearings have four basic formats:
Photo via Flickr/Ted Eytan