I know I'm in a minority on this because everyone is freaking out over Ryan's speech and Christie's speech and Ayn Romney's speech and McCain's war-cry and Romney's pathetic attempt to reinvent himself again but I really think the worst speech of the whole shebang-- and keep in mind I didn't really pay close attention, so grain-of-salt here-- was by Texas teabagger Ted Cruz. Aside from being a vaguely collected string of laughable cliches meant for a 6th grade civics class, Cruz, the Texas GOP's far, far right Senate candidate, a fanatic Cuban and, until he started the Senate campaign, the state's Solicitor General (an appointee of reactionary bigot Greg Abbott), tried to come up with a theme: "taking our country back" and "restoring liberty." The Texas Republican Party's idea of "taking our country back" and "restoring liberty" means thwarting the legitimate aspirations of minorities, in their case, primarily Mexican-Americans. (Not that Texas Republicans are the only hateful Republicans trying to restrict the constitutional rights of minorities. Florida's GOP might actually pass a cockamamie "Protect the Polls" law that allows random gun owners to shoot someone they think is trying to vote illegally.) But let's not stray from the Texas freak show, I'm sure if Florida passes a law like that, Texas will be next in line to pass it.
Yesterday Brad Friedman explained how a three judge federal court had just struck down a polling place Photo ID restriction law meant to prevent likely Democratic voters-- minorities, poor people, the elderly, students, urban dwellers-- from being able to vote.
The court blasted both the Republican lawmakers and the attorneys who presented their case. "Everything Texas has submitted as affirmative evidence is unpersuasive, invalid, or both. Moreover, uncontested record evidence conclusively shows that the implicit costs of obtaining [Photo ID that would satisfy the new law] will fall most heavily on the poor and that a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in Texas live in poverty. We therefore conclude that SB 14 is likely to lead to 'retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise.'"
The three-judge panel, which held a trial in January, concluded that the Republican-dominated Legislature's redrawing of districts for Congress and the state House and Senate did not comply with the federal Voting Rights Act.
What's more, the court said lawmakers acted with discriminatory intent in crafting boundaries for congressional districts and Fort Worth's Senate District 10, represented by Democrat Wendy Davis.
Under the VRA, Texas must get any voting changes cleared by the Justice Department or a federal court. To receive that "preclearance," the state must show that it didn't diminish the electoral strength of racial, ethnic or language minorities or intentionally discriminate against them.
..."One would expect a state that is as experienced with VRA litigation as Texas to have ensured that its redistricting process was beyond reproach," wrote Judge Thomas Griffith, who was appointed by President George W. Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.
"That Texas did not, and now fails to respond sufficiently to the parties' evidence of discriminatory intent, compels us to conclude that the Senate Plan was enacted with discriminatory purpose as to SD 10."
The judges rejected the state's arguments that the results were mere coincidence -- or at worst, in the state's words, "blithe indifference to the wants of certain [minority] Congressmen."
The court also pointed to testimony from state witnesses about manipulation in a West Texas district. High-voting Hispanic areas were switched out and low-turnout neighborhoods included, making the district more Republican-leaning without appearing to change the Hispanic population.
The state House map, the court said, abridged minority voting rights by eliminating four districts in which minorities had the ability to elect their chosen candidates but not offsetting those losses elsewhere.
The redistricting litigation has caused plenty of havoc, including a two-month delay in this year's party primaries and temporary maps adopted for the general elections. In fact, for November voting, SD 10 will look the same as in 2008.
But the stakes are rising.
Abbott tweeted that he would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and he issued a statement saying the appellate judges' decision "extends the Voting Rights Act beyond the limits intended by Congress and beyond the boundaries imposed by the Constitution."
Abbott's end-game almost from the beginning has been a Supreme Court ruling that strikes down the VRA's preclearance requirement.
Texas taxpayers almost certainly will be footing the bill for this constitutional fight into next year.
Here's one of the biggest problems with YouTube in the view of many. Bill Nye the Science Guy posted a video that read in part:
And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that?s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that?s fine, but don?t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can?we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.Many of the the comments that followed were depressing to say the least. It's not just that it's sad, either, it's a bad trend when a technological society seriously flirts with the idea of tossing the most useful human discipline overboard in favor of narrow interpretations of metaphorical stories that appeal to one's individual vanity and collective ideology.
Ralph Reed, my very favorite faux-Christian unindicted co-conspirator, con man par excellence, obviously still has real pull in the upper levels of the Republican Party, allegedly because of his super duper database of evangelical voters - and his superPAC. I have to wonder if he has something to do with the GOP plank calling for no minimum wage in the Marianas Islands in the Republican platform? Via Bill Moyers and Michael Winship:
This caught our attention (and thanks to colleague Theresa Riley for sending) because it once again reminds us of the sordid past of evangelical and political entrepreneur Ralph Reed who, as this week?s edition of Moyers & Company reports in detail, has emerged from the ashes of epic career fail to reestablish himself as a powerful figure in Republican politics.
As head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Reed boasts he?s building a political dynamo of five million members with a massive database, an annual budget of $100 million and full-time lobbyists in all fifty state capitals, a colossal effort aimed at putting in place a right-wing social agenda and identifying and establishing contact with what it estimates as 27 million conservative voters in America. As you can imagine, with clout like that, Reed and his coalition were in high cotton at the Tampa convention.
Which brings us to that curious Mariana Islands minimum wage plank in the Republican platform. Some years ago, our government made an effort to clean up sweatshops on the islands ? including Saipan ? that have been under the control of the United States since the end of World War II.
Chinese women were brought over to the islands to work under awful conditions ? subject to forced abortions and prostitution and paid pennies for producing garments labeled ?Made in the USA.?
Corrupt local officials hired the firm of infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff ? for more than four million dollars ? to try to stop the reforms proposed back in Washington. Abramoff, in turn, hired Ralph Reed and his political direct mail company, Millennium Marketing, to conduct a phony grass roots campaign urging Alabama Christians to write their local congressman to oppose the reforms.
Of course, Reed didn?t tell those Christians he was being paid to help keep running sweatshops that exploited women. Instead, he told them the reforms were a trick orchestrated by the left and organized labor. Limits on Chinese workers would keep them from being ?exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ.? His company explained it was just trying to encourage ?grass roots citizens to promote the propagation of the Gospel? and that many of the workers were ?converted to the Christian faith and return to China with Bibles in hand.?
With the explosion of the Jack Abramoff scandals and exposes by Ms. Magazine and other publications, the spotlight on the Marianas sweatshops finally did lead to congressional action, including a raise of the minimum wage and a law to federalize labor and immigration rules in the Marianas. The minimum wage now is $5.05 an hour, increasing to $5.55 on September 30, but many in the Marianas business sector continue to oppose the amount ? hence the platform plank.
Cross posted from The Stars Hollow GazetteThis is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future. Find the past "On This Day in History" here.On this day in 1897, the Boston subways[...]
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They probably thought he was going to sit in the chair, not talk nasty to it…
Behind the scenes, Mr. Eastwood?s convention cameo was cleared by Mr. Romney?s top message mavens, Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens, who drew up talking points that Mr. Eastwood included, in his own way. They gave him a time limit and flashed a blinking red light that told him his time was up. He ignored both. The actor?s decision to use a chair as a prop was last-minute, and his own.
?The prop person probably thought he was going to sit in it,? a baffled senior aide said on Thursday night.
Mr. Eastwood?s rambling and off-color appearance just moments before the biggest speech of Mr. Romney?s life instantly became a Twitter and cable-news sensation, which drowned out much of the usual postconvention analysis that his campaign had hoped to bask in.
What is this Republican crush on mavericks and elderly cowboy actors? It’s doubtful that anyone but political junkies and event planners will really follow this story. No one’s going to make a voting decision over it. Clint Eastwood did what really big actors do— put the spotlight on himself. And being an icon of the rule-breaking, independent man, he did it his way. Like the saying goes, he ‘created a distraction’, but the Republican party can’t accept his resignation, because he never worked for them to start with. He works for himself, that’s what mavericks do.
There was a great full moon last night, and I do hope you got out to enjoy it. You may have read that this is the last blue moon before July 2015, if you think a blue moon happens when two full moons occur in a month, which happened just last night. But[...]
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The late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson famously said that when the going gets weird the weird turn pro, and Thursday night the RNC proved him right again: Jeb knows a lot about milk, Clint Eastwood covered Neil Diamond's greatest hit, and Peggy Noonan said it: "Romney had to achieve adequacy. He did."
Mario Piperni distills the RNC down to the essential question.
Slobber and Spittle reminds New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez that plenty of people still do tough, dangerous work, usually with precious little reward.
BagNews enjoys pizza with Mitt.
Bonus Track: Just Another Blog From L.A. takes a staff photo.
Where's the bounce?
In 2008, more than 38.9 million people watched the comparable closing night of the RNC when John McCain accepted the Republican presidential nomination? about 8.6 million more people than last night?s viewership. McCain?s acceptance speech in 2008 also bested then Democratic hopeful Pres. Barack Obama?s speech by 500,000 viewers.Jennifer Rubin:
The Romney team, to a greater degree than most campaigns, has been criticized and lampooned. Too timid. Too unfocused. Too slow. Too inept. But this week demonstrated that the campaign officials are more skilled than they have been depicted, and their errors and stumbles have in large part been obliterated in the lingering glow of the convention.I guess she loved Clint Eastwood and thought it was a brilliant performance. Oh, wait... she did.
Eastwood apparently so annoyed the egomaniacal president that the leader of the Free World felt compelled to hit back via Twitter (?this seat is taken?) at the movie star. Talk about losing your presidential aura. Empty chair = Obama is now a powerful association. Will the chair be in ads?Remember when I said she was an anti-matter Ezra Klein with negative IQ points? I was way too kind. Anyway, back to reality:
Did a rambling Clint Eastwood ruin Mitt Romney's big night?National Journal:
The GOP learns the hard way that an empty chair, an imaginary President Obama, and an octogenarian Hollywood star may be a recipe for disaster
Clint Eastwood's Convention Schtick Draws Extreme CriticismBoston Herald:
The reviews continue to pour in on Clint Eastwood?s appearance at the Republican National convention Thursday night, and "mixed" might be a charitable way to put it. One prominent Republican, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, said that he "cringed" at the performance.
Walker, appearing on MSNBC?s Morning Joe on Friday, echoed the sentiments of many when he said he would have preferred to see more testimonials from people talking about Romney. ?Frankly I would have rather seen that than Clint Eastwood,? he said.
Why was Clint Eastwood so bad for Mitt Romney? Because on a morning when we should be talking about the Republican candidate for president, all we?re thinking about is Eastwood?s conversation with an empty chair. The RNC allowed their candidate to be upstaged. That?s not good for business.WaPo:
Clint Eastwood riff distracts from successful Romney conventionWell done, GOP. And please note, let's see the polls before we talk about how successful this all was. The same people told us what a hell of a debater McCain was.
Mitt Romney delivered a good and personal acceptance speech Thursday night. His campaign produced a sterling video about the candidate. People who know Romney offered testimony about his values, his compassion and his business acumen. But all anyone seemed to be talking about when the convention ended was Clint Eastwood and an empty chair.
To be fair, the video and the real families endorsing Romney were great. Ann and Mitt's speeches were pretty good but not outstanding (Ann did much better than Mitt, but she is not the one running). Christie sucked ("but enough about me. What did you think about me?"). Paul Ryan's speech has led to a media pounding, which Team Romney claims they relish (they must relish losing). Condoleezza Rice was very good. But the 3 day event was disjointed, didn't flow and didn't help Romney as much as it needed to, and they blew it by having Eastwood on the stage instead of the video.
Intrade and IEM have not budged. Gallup's stuck at Obama +1 (7 day sample) but Obama's job approval (3 day) inched up during the convention. The Romney bump ought to be visible by Sunday (the only signs of one are pretty small, including Rasmussen and Ipsos ?remember Ipsos is an online poll, which still had Obama in the lead with registered voters but showed a 6 point bump for Romney and a +2 lead with likely voters.) [now +1, with Obama +3 with RV]
Dave Barry puts together the generic Republican speech:
"Good evening. I stand before you tonight as the lieutenant governor of a critical swing state, as well as a member of a minority group and CEO of the nation's third-largest manufacturer of curtain rods.Jim Tankersley:
"Yes, I am living the American Dream. But let me tell you about my childhood. My family was dirt poor. In fact, we didn't even have enough dirt to go around. We all had to share one small dirt clod. At bath time, you would smear the clod onto yourself and sit in the bathtub; then, when you were done, you would smear the clod onto the next family member. The dirt didn't get washed away, because we also had no water. For that matter, we didn't have a real bathtub. We had to sit in an imaginary bathtub. And not a fancy imaginary bathtub, either: It was a nasty old used imaginary bathtub.
"But we did not complain. We did not ask the government for a handout. And do you know why? Because we also could not afford vocal chords."
It?s not 1981 in America.Charles Blow:
Three decades after the Reagan Revolution, the country?s economic problems have evolved. Economic data show this clearly ? and so do polling data.
This is the great blind spot of Mitt Romney?s economic plan, the great danger to the unemployed and underemployed if he wins the presidency but does not adjust, and one of the principle reasons the former Massachusetts governor is not trouncing President Obama right now.
Honesty is a lost art. Facts are for losers. The truth is dead.Scott Keeter/Pew:
Whatever the term of art, they all signal a dark turn, and, this week, the Republican Party took that turn with reckless abandon.
Lying is certainly nothing new in politics. One could even argue that it?s fundamental to politics. Saying incredible things in a credible way is the art; using math of vapors to sell dreams of smoke is the craft.
But Paul Ryan?s acceptance speech on Wednesday took things up a notch.
Pew Research and many other polling organizations typically do not report on likely voters until September, after the nominating conventions have concluded and the campaign is fully underway. The reason many pollsters report only on registered voters in the period before then is that, while campaigns may seem to be in full swing earlier, most voters are not fully engaged in the election yet. And much of the hard work of mobilizing voters has not taken place and won't occur until closer to the election. Accordingly, any determination of who is a likely voter prior to September may contain a significant amount of error.
Identifying likely voters is one of the most difficult aspects of conducting election polls. .