Political Strategy Notes
The political utility of smartphone "apps" has thus far been largely unimpressive, at least from a progressive point of view. But here's one, "Learn how the Affordable Care Act Benefits You," which could do some good.
The RNC has a new attack ad out, faulting the President for rising health care costs. Should be a tough sell, if the Obama campaign does a good job of explaining when the ACA's cost-cutting provisions kick in.
In the 1970s, the so-called "Swedish welfare state" arguably achieved the most humane government in world history, with near-full employment, comprehensive health care, free education and a broad range standard-setting social benefits. The 'Solidarity Principle" was part of the social contract, insuring that the lowest-paid workers would get the largest pay increases. There was some erosion in benefits over the next decades. But in 2006, Swedish voters made the mistake of electing a 'center-right" government that slashed taxes and gutted benefits, leading to an alarming rise in poverty, increasing protests about accelerated income inequality and a 25% uptick in "acute" homelessness since 2005 -- a cautionary tale for the U.S.
Don't feel like the Lone Ranger if you would prefer that politicians pipe down about religion already. M.J. Lee reports at Politico on a new Pew Research poll which indicates that "Almost four in ten Americans say there is "too much" talk of religion and prayer by politicians - an all-time high since the question was first asked more than 10 years ago, according to a new poll."
Lest your concern for the heart-breaking woes of Wall St. bankers was flagging, Jim Hightower has a tongue-in-cheek tear-jerker at Nation of Change about the great sacrifices they have been forced to make, including: "A hedge-fund manager, for example, says he'll now have to strain to pay his $7,500 annual dues to remain a member of the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester. Plus, he worries about food, health care and boarding. Not for him and his family, but for his two dogs -- he's been laying out $17,000 a year for upkeep of his labradoodle and bichon frise, including around $5,000 to hire a dog-walker to take them out each day. He might resort to walking them himself a couple times a week."
At The Nation, Chris Lehmann traces the origins of the war against unions and its devastating consequences for America back to the Gipper. "The true economic legacy of the Reagan years is an uglier practice: unionbusting."
There's no denying the central role of racism in the slaying of Trayvon Martin. but it looks to me like the National Rifle Association's hard lobbying for the so-called "Stand Your ground" laws (aka "shoot first" laws) is partly to blame. As Mother Jones notes: "...In 2010, the Tampa Bay Times reported that "justifiable homicides"--i.e., killings that were deemed legitimate--have skyrocketed in Florida over several years since the "stand your ground" law went into effect." See also John Nichols' post in The Nation, "How ALEC Took Florida's 'License to Kill' Law National."
Sean Sullivan reports at National Journal's Hotline on "DCCC Adds Five Illinois Races to "Red to Blue" List." Sullivan quotes DCCC Chair Steve israel: "I am conservative in telling you we will pick up two seats in Illinois, I am comfortable in telling we will pick up three to four seats in seats in Illinois, I think in a wave election in an aggressive climate we could pick up five seats."
I didn't think the "etch-a-sketch" comment was all that big a deal. But Joe Klein makes a potent case that it is. Newt's comment backs up Klein's argument, "Gov. Romney's staff, they don't even have the decency to wait until they get the nomination to explain to us how they'll sell us out," he said. "I think having an Etch A Sketch as your campaign model raises every doubt about where we're going." Looks like the GOP front-runner has got himself a new nickname.
Ezra Klein flags a time when Gov. Etch-a-Sketch spoke more kindly about rising gas prices, saying "I'm not sure there will be the right time, for us to encourage the use of more gasoline...I'm very much in favor of people recognizing that these high gasoline prices are probably here to stay." Hopefully, someone will find the video clip.