Friday, June 14, 2013

More about Michigan

Michigan, like most other states, is overwhelmingly in favor of expanding background checks for gun sales, with 71% who favor them and 21% who oppose them. This is yet another state where the support for expanding background checks goes across party lines and truly has bipartisan support.

The social media handle LOLGOP would lead Congressman Justin Amash in a hypothetical Senate match-up 23/22. Somehow, I'm not thinking that Republicans have a lot of support in Michigan, right now.

The most important question, I've ever seen was asked by Public Policy Polling. If you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip? 60% of responders said that they would capture it. Only 7% said they would let it slip. 33% are confused about what's happening.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Michigan Senate

There will be a Senate election in 2014 in conjunction with the gubernatorial election. Democratic congressman Gary Peters (18/16) announced he would run in 2014. While he is not a well-known commodity, the Republicans who might be mentioned are less known at this point.

Gary Peters
Justin Amash

Gary Peters
Saul Anuzis

Gary Peters
Dave Camp

Gary Peters
Terri Lynn Land

Gary Peters
Roger Kahn

Gary Peters
Mike Rogers

Gary Peters
Kimberly Small

Gary Peters
Rob Steele

This has more to do with the overall Democratic lean of the state and the overall unpopularity of Republicans in Michigan at this point, than anything else. Since the candidates are so relatively weak in name recognition, it's almost entirely party line voting.

If the Republicans want to win the Senate seat in 2014, they'll need to have one of the candidates really step up or for Gary Peters to stumble hard.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Right to work costs favorability

Governor Rick Snyder, who lost almost all of his favorability when he signed into law, legislation that made Michigan a right to work state. It is a very unpopular law in Michigan, 40% support it with 50% who oppose, which just about matches his approval rating. His rating has fallen to 40/52. Former Democratic Congressman Mark Schauer announced his candidacy for the 2014 Michigan gubernatorial election. He has 38% name recognition but yet manages to lead Governor Snyder 42-38 in a head-to-head match-up. Public Policy Polling has noted that while Snyder has time to make up for his low marks, he has consistently been running behind his competition and his approval has declined.

Republicans in the state legislature are also feeling the effects of passing unpopular legislation. Their favorability is 27/59. While the Democratic members of the state legislature aren't doing much better 38/43, they lead Republicans in a generic ballot match-up 48-38.

The state legislature might improve their popularity by passing a law that would raise minimum wage to $10/hour. 49% of those polled supported the measure while only 43% opposed it. It wouldn't surprise me if Michigan passed a similar measure to make up for the badwill that they are feeling for the “right to work” legislation.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Other things from Virginia

Bob Bolling                                                               33
Mark Warner                                                            54

Eric Cantor
Mark Warner

Bob McDonnell
Mark Warner

Senator Mark Warner (53/27) remains as the most popular politician in Virginia. As you can see by the table, Warner would lead the other highly recognized politicians in Virginia, especially House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (26/40). According to one of my roommates, he eats at the food court at Union Station and is a fan of Mediterranean food. Ladies, eat your heart out.

There's broad support from Virginians for expanded background checks for gun sales. 77% approve of Virginians support expanded background checks. This is is an issue that, at least in Virginia, has strong bipartisan support.

80% of voters think that employers should not be allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Even Republicans think that employers shouldn't be allowed to do that. Nice, Virginia.

PPP found that Senator Tim Kaine's favorability is now 44/38. So, there's that.

If Hillary Clinton ran for President in 2016, it would not be very close, Virginia would stay blue.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Elections against nature: Virginia Governor

Public Policy Polling (PPP) completed their polls in Virginia recently.  They found that in the gubernatorial race between Terry McAuliffe (29/33) and Ken Cuccinelli (32/44) that everyone loses.  Well, sort of.  McAuliffe, with his -4 net favorability leads Cuccinelli by 5 points, 42-37.  PPP found that as voters get to know the candidates better, the more undecided they get about this election.  Clearly, not the trend you want to see.  But if you're either of the candidates, you have to be worried about how negative people see you, 5 months before the election.

McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and top fundraiser for Bill and Hillary Clinton, hasn't made himself look too good.  In his memoir, he mentions that he almost missed the birth of one of his children to go to a party.  It's really easy to use that against somebody, I'd imagine.  You can just repeat that the guy feels that fundraising is more important than family.  Ofcourse, there are legitimate questions about McAuliffe's experience, or lack thereof.  He has also been accused by many past opponents of standing with Wall Street and Donald Trump.  He also may have called black people, colored people.

Of course, this would be a much bigger deal if McAuliffe wasn't running against former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.  Cuccinelli, in 2004, warned of a plot by the LGBT community about dismantling sodomy laws and getting education about homosexuals and AIDS in public schools.  He has announced his opposition to homosexuality, saying that homosexual acts are intrinsically wrong.  In 2003, the Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws in the decision of Lawrence v. Texas. But Virginia kept its state-wide ban, even after the decision.  When the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the law was unconstitutional, Cuccinelli has petitioned for the 4th Circuit Court to hear it again. 

Just to be clear, the law in question is a "crimes against nature" law which forbids anal and oral sex, regardless of who practices it (in theory).  Of course, these laws are arbitrarily enforced and according to the Supreme Court, "intrusion into the private and personal life of the individual." 

The Virginia legislature tried to change the law to only include public sex, sex with minors, and prostitution.  This might make it likely to be able to stand the rigors of the constitutionality question.  Cuccinelli opposed the bill.

Cuccinelli has also opined that abortion clinics that offer first trimester abortions can be regulated. Cuccinelli tried for eight years to have abortion clinics treated as outpatient hospitals and the rest of the state legislature stopped him.  First trimester abortions are generally pretty safe.  I mean, only about 0.3 result in complications. But if you can close 17 out of 21 facilities with these types of laws, you got to do it.

Cuccinelli has also written a letter expressing the opinion that police should ask for the immigration status of people they stop, to stop anti-discrimination policies at public universities, campaigned for a lawsuit against Obamacare, and finally a lawsuit against the EPA for attempting to regulate greenhouse gases.

In between all of this, he has also tried to subpoena and stop one of the first climate scientists who noticed that global temperatures were on the rise.

No wonder people are starting to dislike the candidates the more they find out about them and it's no wonder that Cuccinelli is feeling that disapproval so heavily.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Not surprising

From a report from the American Civil Liberties Union, they found that Black Americans were nearly four (3.73, to be precise) times  as likely as white to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession in 2010. Some states were even higher than the average.  These states were Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.   The ACLU reports that now over half of all drug arrests in the United States are for having marijuana.  Of the over 8 million marijuana arrests from 2001-2010, 88% were simply for possession.  The ACLU has found that enforcing marijuana laws costs about $3.6 billion/year.  This is actually a 30 percent increase from 10 years earlier.  During this same time, we have seen states face budget shortfalls and have to cut vital services.  During the same period, arrests for most other types of crimes steadily dropped. 

One solution that the ACLU argues for, is going away from grants, such as the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program, that are based on arrest numbers in the performance measures.  Law enforcement agencies rely on grants like this to secure necessary funding to keep streets, cities, and states safe.  Instead the funding is secured by artificially inflating the numbers.  If you are a police department, one way to increase drug arrest statistics is to concentrate on minority or poorer neighborhoods and focusing on low-level offenses. 

Another solution that the ACLU argues for, in other reports, is a harm reduction method taken by law enforcement.  If you’re not familiar with harm reduction, you can look at this website to get some of the information, that you might find interesting.  I have argued in other places, that I believe in harm reduction as an effective strategy to help combat drug problems.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

College tuition

According to Bloomberg, college tuition has increased 1,120% since 1978.

From 2008 to 2010, college tuition increased 15%, according to the Associated Press.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan worries that due to rising costs, incomes falling, and high unemployment college tuition may simply become unaffordable for the middle class.

Phone call I received today


I'm a Democrat. Why didn't your Congresswoman vote to close Guantanamo Bay? It's all political. We need to get rid of dumb Democrats.

In my head:

Ahh yes. Better get rid of Democrats if you want to close Guantanamo Bay. Definitely the ones who are standing in the way on that issue.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

There's something about Christie

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has been a favorite for Democrats to run for the Republican Party.  His favorability among Democrats has consistently been higher with Democrats and moderates than it has been with Republicans.  Never has this been more evident, then the war chest Christie is building for a maybe Presidential run in 2016.  Even reliable Republican punching bags like George Soros have been throwing money at Governor Christie.  Even donors from the normally liberal California-Berkeley are starting to give money to the "moderate" Christie.

But why?

Christie vetoed same sex marriage.

Christie said that teacher unions are the problem.  Presumably, one could throw most unions into that category. Although, not even the "most liberal" President in history is a big friend with teacher unions.  Go ahead and figure out which presidential candidate in 2012 wanted charter schools.  I dare you.

He supported a measure to cut universal pre-k from a full day to a half day.  Even though, a "fiscal conservative", like a Republican could see that a $1 invested in pre-k typically returns anywhere from $1.80 to $17.07, according to the RAND corporation.  He called universal pre-k, government baby-sitting. Sure. If you're getting a return on your babysitting.

Christie supported the Paul Ryan budget despite the problems that I've highlighted multiple times before.  Basic things, like it's based on a flawed study, repeals Obamacare but keeps the revenues, etc.

Christie rejected an original plan by Jersey Democrats to raise minimum wage and index it to inflation.  Instead, he wanted to scrap the cost of living increases and raise it by $1, if it's phased in over the next three years. Too progressive of you, really.

Christie called legislation that would have offset the gender wage gap and entailed equal pay for equal work. But meh. That's senseless bureuacracy.  Meanwhile, his friend in the state senate called it a trial lawyers' bill.

He slashed the earned income tax credit by 25%.  Something Ronald Reagan called an equalizer for poor people. He cut FamilyCare which provided health care to the poor. He grabbed $200 million that was supposed to be used for affordable housing to help balance the state budget. Balancing the budget, apparently, helps out the poor more than helping out with housing. 

Christie vetoed a bill that would have restored $7.5 million to family planning clinics that provide birth control and health screenings to women. Christie mentioned that New Jersey can't fund every program.

Moreover, if you're a "Blue Dog" Democrat, it's difficult to support Christie. 

He's spending close to $24 million to essentially have the special election a few weeks before the gubernatorial election.  This is money that could have been spent on family planning clinics.  The $24 million is slightly misleading, as regardless of the timing of the election, there would have been a cost of $11 million or so.

Christie also used a $2,500/hour helicopter ride for personal business.  He refused to reimburse the state for such excursions.  This isn't exactly a problem but is just kind of a dickish move from a fiscal conservative.

(H/T to Political Carnival)

This has nothing to do with anything else:

Christie, a member of the party who brags about individual responsibility, had lap band surgery.  I have my own problems with weight and so do members of my family.  None of my family members have had surgery.  We eat less and exercise more. If this doesn't work, we can't elect to have special surgery to beat it. It may be a stretch to link the decision, politically, I understand.

But all of this, should be enough to convince you that Christie isn't a friend to the progressive cause, if that's what you were looking for.  Christie may be better than other options from the Republican party.  Essentially, you're just picking out American light beers at that point. Good luck.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Much ado about Jersey

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) passed away overnight on Sunday night.  Senator Lautenberg was 89 when he passed.  His greatest legacy, in most people's opinion, is that he was instrumental in getting smoking banned on commercial flights and raising the drinking age to 21.  Senator Lautenberg, who was a veteran of World War 2, was also a staunch gun control advocate.  He proposed the Lautenberg Amendment which would bar anybody who had been accused of domestic violence, including police officers and military personnel from possessing a firearm.  One of his last speeches was to establish bipartisan support for gun control.  Senator Lautenberg got angry at Newark Mayor (and presumptive future Senator of New Jersey) Cory Booker.  Booker announced he would seek the Senate seat in 2014 before Senator Lautenberg announced his retirement.  Senator Lautenberg announced he would retire prior to the 2014 election, soon after.  Senator Lautenberg's passing might lead to some interesting things happening in New Jersey.

Nobody is really sure what is going to happen in New Jersey.  Intuitively, you would assume that Governor Chris Christie could appoint someone to replace Lautenberg's Senate seat for the remaining year and a half before his term would have ended but state law dictates that a special election has to be held within 70 days of the general election.  New Jersey Democrats might call for the special election to be held on the same day as the gubernatorial election.  The Democratic party has a much stronger candidate in Cory Booker than the Republican party has for the Senate seat, even with an added bonus of a few extra months of being hand-picked by Christie.  Even if they combine the two elections into one, Christie is still the heavy favorite to win re-election.  Although, some strategists believe that Barbara Buono has a slightly better chance with Booker running for Senate, too.

But Christie, who is going to be re-elected, has a dificult decision to make. Despite Christie's popularity, New Jersey is still by and large a Democratic state.  New Jersey voted for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by 18 points.  Christie, who is looking forward to 2016, has a dilemna.  If he decides to appoint a Democrat as a place-holder he would alienate his Republican primary voters in 2016.  Well, unless they realize that it's a part of playing the game.  More than likely, Christie will discuss his choices with the Republican party of New Jersey and various strategists.  Doing this, I believe will lead him to nominte a rather weak Republican nominee/placeholder to give a stronger candidate a chance to fundraise before the special election.

Will it matter, though?  Booker is a strong candidate.  Much stronger than the people that are being tossed around, now.  The choices are Tom Keen Jr. who lost to Robert Menendez by 9 points in 2006.  Joe Kyrillos, who is friends with Christie, was once a rising star in the New Jersey's GOP.  Christie did not want Kyrillos to run for the Senate in 2012 and he lost to Menendez by 19 points.  Christie's lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, has had her name come up, too.  Meanwhile on the Democratic side, you have Booker or Representative Frank Pallone who has been a Congressman since 1988.  Pallone has turned down chances to run for Senate in the past, might decide, that now is the perfect opportunity. 

Of course, if Booker is the star of the Democratic party that I think he is, then he has to run.  A failure to run will delay the opportunity for him to become a Senator in 2014.  Who will be the Democratic nominee in 2016, if Booker doesn't have more experience by then?