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A few weeks ago we reported on, well, laughed at, the notion that there’s pots of money to be made from televising the Republican primary debates. But begob! Just because an idea is idiotic on its face is no reason the American Right won’t[...]
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Hasn't everyone else also seen a pay raise like this? By gosh, he's such a leader and deserves every penny for managing to drive earnings down even after free money handed out by the taxpayers who are funding the bank recovery. Who says capitalism is dead in America? Good work, when you can get it.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) awarded Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein $19 million in compensation for 2010, almost double the prior year, and granted him the first cash bonus in three years.
The total includes $5.4 million in cash, $12.6 million in restricted stock, a $600,000 salary and about $464,000 in other benefits, the New York-based firm?s proxy statement showed. Blankfein?s $9.8 million pay for 2009 included $9 million in restricted stock plus salary and other compensation.
Goldman Sachs, the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets, boosted Blankfein?s compensation for a year in which earnings dropped 38 percent and the stock price was little changed. The amount falls in the middle ground between 2008, when Blankfein, 56, and six other senior officers got no bonuses, and the record-setting $67.9 million award he received for 2007.
African American Pundit (AAP) asks why Obama is more concerned about Libya than the Ivory Coast. The answer is obvious. There isn't any petroleum in the Ivory Coast, and Mongabay confirms that major international oil companies have lost interest in the Ivory Coast.
That, by itself, explains why Obama and his expansionists see attacking and controlling Quadafi and Libya, and as many other oil producing countries as possible, as far more important than anything that might happen in the Ivory Coast.
Does anyone remember the article right after Obama surge in Afghanistan in which "sources" said they had discovered that Afghanistan was rich with natural resources, including petroleum?
Libya, was a major player in the price increases and scarcity of petroleum during the period when the OPEC (Oil Producing Countries) movement that was strongest, in the seventies, according to Mongabay
It's been a, uhm, crazy week for yours truly. Time to relax. Music and lyrics by Willie Nelson, vocals from the gods, via Patsy Cline.
New PPP poll: Obama keeps Florida blue
Obama-lovers and Obama-haters alike can find data to hang their hat on from this week, easily the most scattered set of data points we have seen in some time. Obama is either tanking or surging, depending upon which pollster you are willing to buy stock in.
Meanwhile, the Senate was a hotbed of activity this week, with one prominent Dem jumping in while another prominent Republican surprised a lot of folks by jumping out.
The biggest news, arguably, is that a real Election Day of consequence is upon us, set to kick off in Wisconsin this Tuesday. And that was a race that saw quite a bit going on this week.
All that, and more, as we recap the week that was at the polls and on the campaign trail.
THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE
NATIONAL: An outfit which tends to focus on local races went national this week with how President Obama fares when stacked up with his potential Republican foes. Fairleigh Dickinson has the two presumptive frontrunners in the GOP running even with the President, who sports a job approval rating that is slightly underwater (44/48). Mike Huckabee plays the President to a draw (46-46), while Mitt Romney trails by an insignificant point (44-43). Next closest is FDU's homeboy, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (46-40). If the nominee's surname is Pawlenty (48-34), Gingrich (52-37), or Palin (54-34), Republicans might well be pining for the good old days of John McCain.
On the GOP front, Gallup takes a unique approach of offering up "positive intensity numbers" for the GOP field. The metric measures the difference between those having highly favorable views of a candidate and those having highly unfavorable views of a candidate. It also measures only those who can identify the candidate. By that standard, both Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain overperform (coming in second and fourth). The biggest loser by this metric is Haley Barbour, who actually finishes behind every potential GOP candidate save for third-tier prospects Buddy Roemer and Gary Johnson.
As stated earlier, Obama's job approvals are all over the map this week. Obama supproters have spent most of their energy extolling the latest numbers from AP/GFK, which gives the President a respectable 53/45 job approval spread. You could also cite the Gallup tracker, which got as high as 49/43 this week before finally receding at the end of the week.
If you are an Obama critic, meanwhile, you cite YouGov (40/50) or Quinnipiac (42/48). The Q poll, in addition, becomes the first in quite a long while to show President Obama trailing that daunted foe known as Generic Republican (albeit by a single point--37 to 36).
THE STATES: As has been the case more often than not this cycle, any peeks into the 2012 prospects at the statewide level come from our polling pals over at PPP. Their big-ticket data this week comes out of the Sunshine State, where Florida's treasure chest of electoral votes would remain (more likely than not) in the Democratic column were the election held today. President Obama holds leads between 2-13 points over the GOP field, with (as expected) Romney representing the closest battle and Palin representing the widest lead for the President. The President's job approval in the state is right at breakeven (48/47), so the determining factor in his lead might be owed to the serious buyers' remorse Florida voters feel towards the GOP, given their high level of disdain for newly elected GOP Governor Rick Scott.
Meanwhile, a couple of states over, the deep South still remains pretty deeply in the GOP column, as new numbers out of Mississippi do not look so hot for the President. Even Sarah Palin, whose numbers are simply abysmal nationally, manages to eke out a lead over the President in the state. Her four-point edge is the closest, with Mike Huckabee holding the biggest lead (14 points) for the GOP. Perhaps surprisingly, Huckabee even does better than Mississippi native Haley Barbour (whose lead over Obama is ten points). Hard to know if this is merely a case of Mississippi voters wanting to keep their Governor at home, or a case of familiarity breeding contempt. His decent approval numbers (52/39) suggest perhaps the former.
RACE FOR THE SENATE
THE POLLS: Complementing PPP's Obama data in Florida are the new numbers out of Florida for Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. Nelson's numbers here are actually quite good, especially when placed into the context of where he was performing in polls a little earlier in the year. The latest output from PPP has Nelson leading all comers by double digits, with the two closest margins going to candidates that aren't running (Congressman Connie Mack and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough). Against candidates likely to make the bid, no one comes closer than fifteen points (former interim Senator George LeMieux, who trails 48-33).
Meanwhile, Democrats have to be at least a little pleased with a data point out of Nevada, a GOP-held open seat that the punditocracy generally thinks will be a hold for the Republicans. An internal poll conducted by Mark Mellman for potential Democratic candidate Shelley Berkley has her leading the likely GOP nominee (Congressman Dean Heller) by four points (42-38). Berkley, from all reports, is still on the fence about a potential bid. This, one would think, might edge her off the fence.
Democrats also got favorable polling news in a Dem-held open seat. Regardless of who might emerge as their party nominee, Democrats can expect a solid edge in Hawaii, where the only way the race is a toss-up is if somehow Mufi Hannemann gets the Democratic nomination (unlikely). Former Lt. Governor Duke Aiona polls the best for the GOP (even better than former Governor Linda Lingle, perhaps surprisingly).
In a genuine "WTF" moment, meanwhile, someone with access to DSCC internal polling data felt the need to leak a recent poll out of Massachusetts conducted on the DSCC's behalf to Salon. The numbers were almost absurdly good for the GOP incumbent, Scott Brown, claiming a 73% approval rating for the incumbent and double-digit leads over all comers. Why would someone who could get eyes on Democratic internal polling want the world to know about this particular survey? Hard to know, but it managed to resurrect anew the media narrative of Scott Brown as the unbeatable candidate. Of course, this came in the same week that Dems also tried spinning their lack of an announced candidate as a master plan to blunt GOP attacks on the eventual candidate. Fiendishly clever, 'tis.
In other polling odds-and-ends, former Congressman Peter Hoekstra leads the GOP field in Michigan in a battle to challenge Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow. And speaking of Hawaii--former Congressman Ed Case is flogging a poll claiming he leads in both primary and general elections (but only releasing one result each, which ought to raise at least one eyebrow).
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL:
THE RACE FOR THE HOUSE
No polls yet (of course), but the big news this week was a cause for celebration, as Democrats got some high-profile political names to make comeback bids next year. The two big headline names were former Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick in Arizona and progressive fighter Ann McLane Kuster in New Hampshire. Both of them came within a handful of points of winning in a brutal climate in 2010. Two other former Democratic members of the House are weighing comeback bids, as both Dan Maffei (NY) and Glenn Nye (VA) confirmed this week that they are still mulling it over. So, too, apparently, is former Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania, who has talked with the DCCC.
Oh, and in other news...Republican Rep. Sean Duffy probably wishes he hadn't tried to empathize with his consituents by decrying his financial difficulties trying to make ends meet on $174,000 a year. Yup...that would most definitely qualify as an unforced error by the right-wing freshman Congressman from northern Wisconsin.
THE BATTLE FOR WISCONSIN
A real live election day is nearly upon us! On Tuesday, Wisconsin voters head to the polls to determine a seat on the state's Supreme Court. The battle, between incumbent Republican David Prosser and Democratic challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, has become something of a lightning rod for the larger conflict in the state inflamed by Governor Scott Walker's war on organized labor and state employees. This particular election also had some interesting headlines this week, as former Governor Patrick Lucey, a conservative Democrat who had embraced the Republican in this race, reversed course and announced that he could no longer support Prosser. Prosser's high profile tirade against a fellow female justice might have been what Lucey had in mind when he referred to Prosser's "disturbing distemper."
The election is Tuesday, and is joined on the ballot by special elections for County Executive in both Dane (Madison) and Milwaukee Counties. If Democrats don't already have a nice bump in intensity because of Walker's shenanigans, another race on the ballot in two potentially solid counties for the Democrats may help, as well.
enlargeAyn Rand -- Tea Party icon, but not sure why.
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Ayn Rand has become something of a resuscitated icon of late, certainly within the ranks of the Tea Party who have embraced her Extreme Capitalist and Anti-Government theories with almost romantic fervor.
In 1971, as part of the Comment series on NBC , Rand was asked to deliver an essay on her views regarding the Ecology movement.
Ayn Rand: ?Ecology is the war on abundance, fought by the same people who are fighting the war on Poverty. The Ecologists claim that local pollution affects the whole world and threatens the survival of all living species. There is no scientific proof of this claim and none has ever been offered, on the grounds of nothing but arbitrary projections and panic mongering slogans, the ecologists are urging mankind to commit suicide by paralyzing industrial production. Their immediate but not ultimate goal is the destruction of the last remnants of freedoms of capitalism in our mixed economy and the establishment of a global dictatorship. In order to protect our natural environment, this means to enslave mankind on order to protect weeds, birds and reptiles.?
Her views were, at best, extreme and she has certainly not been without her detractors, nor fans in high places. Alan Greenspan has claimed to be a great follower of her ideals. That she paints everything in the most dire and dystopic of terms probably speaks more to her Russian background than anything else. As was once pointed out, her style was reminiscent of "philosophy as it's written in the Soviet Union" and has been challenged, debunked and left quietly as an antique of history over the years, until recently.
History is forever astonishing and baffling and it's jammed with contradictions, just like Ayn Rand.
I'll explain in a moment why I'm presenting this screen shot from Jack Eichenbaum's "Geography of New York City" website, geognyc.com, which I encourage anyone interested in getting to know NYC better to check out. (You can click on it to enlarge it for enhanced readability.)
And when I say "a unique tour opportunity," I mean a unique tour opportunity. If you can't wait to find out about it, you can scroll down straightaway to "THE EXCITING OPPORTUNITY."
In writing sketpically last night about the "miraculous" transformation of Times Square, which NEA Chariman Rocco Landesman (who as head of the Jujamcyn Broadway theater chain played an active role in that transformation) explained in his keynote speech at the Municipal Art Society's annual meeting this week he is promoting as a model for cities all over the country seeking major new development, I mentioned that I had joined the MAS for its walking tours. Tonight I want to talk about that a little more, and in the process clue you in to this exciting upcoming opportunity, which may not be quite once-in-a-lifetime but is so exciting, at least to me, that I want to try to spread the word to people who would jump at it if only they knew about it.
(Again, if you want to skip the blather and get straight to "the exciting opportunity," feel free to scroll down to "THE EXCITING OPPORTUNITY." I won't take it personally. Well, that's not quite true. I suppose I take everything personally, but that amounts to the same thing.)
I also mentioned last night that I had two MAS tours booked for this weekend, and by coincidence, for those who believe in coincidence more than I do, today's happened to offer which are surprisingly inexpensive, especially for members (typically the two-hour tours are $10 for members, $15 for nonmembers; longer ones -- including several of the new ones I signed up for yesterday -- are naturally more expensive, but not much), and surprisingly (at least to me) helpful in enabling you to look at even parts of the city you may have thought you knew pretty well and begin to see them through the eyes of someone who has better, smarter ways of looking at them.
I suppose major cities have always had walking tours of a sort, but the kind of historical-mindedness that has made them flourish seems to me a phenomenon of recent decades. And for me the whole thing is brand-new. I don't know why I waited this long to avail myself of the opportunities; on any given weekend day there seem to be dozens of them around the five boroughs, and for that matter stretching into the whole metropolitan area. I guess I've done so much tramping around at least portions of the city over the decades I've lived here that I mistakenly imagined I didn't need that kind of "prompting." In fact, even with all that tramping, there are large swaths of the city that are pretty much terra incognata to me, and as I just said, I've learned as much touring parts of the city I thought I knew pretty well.
Times Square, to pick a random example. Last night I described the sense of aloneness feeling that I was the only one at the annual meeting of the MAS who wasn't so absolutely certain that the miraculous rebirth of Times Square over the last couple of decades is miraculous but harbored the whisper of a doubt that it's even a good thing for the vitality of the city. I'm sure I was exaggerating. It felt that way, especially when that audience member challenged the two-person panel on the Times Square rebirth for failing to give enough credit to Disney. For some of us the mind-numbing blandness and mush of Disney is an all too apt symbol for, well, the mind-numbing blanndess and mush of the "revitalized" Times Square, which seems to exist to shake fistfuls of moolah out of folks who, in fairness, seem only too eager to spend it, on crappy blockbuster musical entertainments, wildly overpriced schlock merchandise, and wildly overpriced schlock food.
It might be stressed that what Chairman Rocco, an honorable man who seems to genuinely believe in his vision of using the arts as the basis for economic redevelopment, understands by "arts" does seem to place a premium on crappy blockbuster musical entertainments. There actually are other visions of urban life, cultural life, and urban cultural life. The problem is that while there are a lot of people out there who might support their efforts, they're scattered and hard to find, whereas the audience for what Chairman Rocco understands by "arts" seems to be out there in abundance just waiting to be told what to do to be officially "entertained."
My MAS tour today put me squarely in contact with the other end of the arts spectrum. It was a "tour" of the East Village block of East Fourth Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue which has become the city's second-only designated "cultural district" (and the only one in Manhattan; the other is in Brooklyn, around the Brooklyn Academy of Music, of which our guide for this tour, Lawrence Frommer, will be leading an MAS tour on June 4), a block on which numerous shoestring arts organizations had taken root, and by coincidence (again?) the block on which one of the city's most storied theater enterprises, the late Ellen Stewart's LaMama E.T.C., found its enduring home.
It was a thrill to encounter the passion and energy of Tamara Greenfield, the executive director of FAB (Fourth Arts Block), the nonprofit organization founded in 2001 to give these for the East 4th Street Cultural District, who joined us on the tour, and also introduced us to some of the people working on that block. "Cultural districts," we learned, are popping up all over the country, and in fact New York State has been lagging well behind many others. We also learned that for the two such districts so far so designated in the city, there really isn't any official definition. A NYC "cultural district" is what its supporters can make of it.
So Tamara and her associates, including the organizations that are part of the cultural district, play all the angles, working with government and funding organizations as well as community businesses and anyone else they can rope in to help sustain and promote the life and activities of the district arts organizations, and indeed organizations outside the immediate district with which FAB networks. The kind of art they promote clearly isn't for the mass audience to which shows like Spider-Man: Get Off My Lawn are aimed, but they're essential to the vitality of city life, and indeed make the city a vastly more livable place.
THE EXCITING OPPORTUNITY: AN ALL-DAY PILGRIMAGE
ON THE NO. 1 TRAIN, NYC'S INTERNATIONAL LIFELINE
What got me started on this whole walking-tour thing was a bunch of the New York Transit Museum's tours, including an especially illuminating one about the engine for economic development created by transit "nodes," places where multiple subway lines intersect, starting with Times Square, which is unlike anyplace else in the city, sitting as it does atop the Sixth Avenue IND, Broadway BMT, Seventh Avenue IRT, Eighth Avenue IND, IRT Flushing, and crosstown shuttle lines. The guide for that tour, Queens's borough historian, "urban geographer" Jack Eichenbaum, had an uncanny eye for pointing out the buildings and street life of the area reflect the history of the area's transit development, and then he did the same for Queens Plaza and Jackson Heights in Queens.
The subway lines crossing those Queens nodes in both cases include the IRT Flushing line, the No. 1 train, which is one of the city's most fascinating lifelines, a veritable international lifeline. (Wikipedia has a nice article on the almost bewildering diversity you encounter along the length of the Flushing line.) And on April 30 Jack is offering what he describes as his "signature tour."
THE WORLD OF THE #7 TRAIN
10am-5:30pm, SATURDAY, APRIL 30
This series of six walks and connecting rides along North Queens? transportation corridor is my signature tour. We focus on what the #7 train has done to and for surrounding neighborhoods since it began service in 1914. Walks take place in Long Island City, Sunnyside, Flushing, Corona, Woodside and Jackson Heights and lunch is in Flushing?s Asiatown. Tour fee is $39 and you need to preregister by check to Jack Eichenbaum, 36-20 Bowne St. #6C, Flushing, NY 11354 (include name, phone and email address) The full day?s program and other info is available by email email@example.com The tour is limited to 25 people. Don?t get left out!
HBGary's past governmental work has been about cybersecurity--assessing malware and finding intrusions. But they've been proposing collecting information about citizens' First Amendment activity to use to target those citizens. And the Air Force--that[...]
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Iowa's independent redistricting commission has released its first drafts of the state's Congressional & legislative maps. (Click the link for all kinds of goodness, including a Google Maps overlay.) The new proposed federal plan - which sees the state dropping from five districts to four - is below (click image for larger size):I've added dots showing incumbents' homes, based on the information here. The list below matches up dots to congressmen (current CD in parens):
Black Hawk: Bruce Braley (D-1)
Linn: Dave Loebsack (D-2)
Polk: Leonard Boswell (D-3)
Story: Tom Latham (R-4)
Sac: Steve King (R-5)
As you can see, this map throws together Loebsack and Braley, though Loebsack could easily run in the new second CD. The bigger problem is that it combines Latham and King. For that reason alone, the legislature will probably reject this map and send the commission back to the drawing board. (The commission is forbidden from considering things like incumbent residency when drawing maps, so the lege would just be hoping for a different configuration.)
I've also put together a table showing the two most recent presidential results by new CD:
You can find the full spreadsheet for these numbers here.