That's the big question today among the punditocracy. A Lincoln loss today would mean three incumbent Senators--Bennett and Specter being the other two--to lose. That hasn't happened since 1980. But it's not just what happens in November, it's what happens in government after November that really matters.
In evaluating this, Ezra posts about incumbency:
Specter managed to effectively lose -- or in the case of the Republican primary, seem certain to lose -- both the Democratic and the Republican primaries because he seemed more loyal to himself than he was to either party. Lincoln is a conservative Democrat facing likely defeat at the hands of a somewhat more populist, and at least implicitly more party-loyal, challenger.
And in case you wanted to say that the American people clearly support populist insurgencies this year, consider that the tea parties are plummeting in popularity. Whatever populist impulse they represented has managed to alienate a majority of the population.
Part of the narrative that's emerged is that these primaries show an anti-incumbent, anti-Washington, year. That's right, but it's mixed, incoherently, with pro-party -- which is to say, pro-Washington establishment -- results. The different bases are eliminating politicians who've been insufficiently dedicated to holding their party's line. The result will be much more significant than merely the election of three new senators. Rather, surviving senators will upgrade the threat an unhappy base poses to their reelection and trim their independence accordingly. The moderates and compromisers who are left will stop acting like moderates and compromisers. This election looks, if nothing else, like it's going to be a big step forward in bringing strong party discipline to the Senate.
I don't think Ezra's entirely right. In the first instance, it's probably not the teabaggers' populism that's making them less popular--it's the crazy; the racism, birtherism, and the out-an-out hate that tends to predominate. The teabaggers don't have a monopoly on populism--anger at insurance company CEOs, at Wall Street, and at Big Oil are damned near universal. In Lincoln's case, her corporatism is a key factor working against her. It's her corporatism that in large part has led her to betray her Democratic roots--it's supposed to be the party of the common good, and Lincoln has abandoned that ethos time and time again.
In that vein, the Artur Davis loss is instructive, probably more so than either Bennett or Specter. Bennett's loss came at state convention, where a relative few extremely motivated activists could sway the outcome. He'd probably have survived an actual primary with Utah Republicans. In the case of Specter, his party switch was just too cynical and too selfish for Pennsylvania Dems to swallow. Davis, however, like Lincoln worked too hard to actually distance himself from key Democratic constituencies. He--like Lincoln--betrayed his actual base.
And, again, this is where I think Ezra is off. First, can anyone really argue that there isn't strong party discipline among the Republicans? Could they really get more unified in obstruction?
On the Dem side, he's equating pro-party with pro-Washington establishment. Blanche Lincoln and Arlen Specter are the Washington establishment--look at all the primary support they've received, from Obama to Bill Clinton. It's not party loyalty to the Dem establishment in Washington--and to Harry Reid's agenda--that the base is looking for. It's loyalty to us--the huge big tent of Democrats. Women who are pissed at hell that Stupak ultimately won in getting restrictive abortion language into health insurance reform; unions who have been screwed again, watching EFCA pushed aside; Latinos whose demands for comprehensive immigration reform keep getting backburnered; African Americans who have to hear Republican Senate candidates question the Civil Rights Act; environmentalists who got slapped down for opposing a Dem president's misguided expansion of off-shore drilling; millions of unemployed who are losing hope that there will ever be a job for them along with losing their benefits.
We don't want stricter adherence to the agenda of the pro-party establishment in Washington. We want our representatives to fight harder for us. This is our chance to fight for that--that's what primaries are for. If nothing else comes out of this election, the restoration of the primary as a good, proper, and normal tool for democracy would be a win.
Follow election results tonight on FDL, especially crucial Senate primaries and California's slate of propositions.[...]
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I first came across this study by George Mason University's Daniel Klein and Zogby International's Zeljka Buturovic, which appeared as a journal article in Econ Journal Watch, which Klein edits, in a link at Tyler Cowen's site several weeks ago. Cowen links to about a dozen interesting pieces every day, and I thought Klein's study was so obviously flawed that it wasn't really worth commenting on. But now it has re-appeared in the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, with the somewhat non-sequitur title, "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?".
Here's what Klein and Buturovic did. They took a survey using one of Zogby's internet panels, which is by far the worst polling instrument that they could have selected. The panel was not weighted and was not in balance. For example, McCain led Obama 49-43 among respondents to the survey, even though roughly the opposite outcome was observed in the actual election -- and only about 4 percent of the respondents were Hispanic and only 39 percent were female. Then they asked 16 "questions of basic economics", as the Journal's sub-head describes them, and arbitrarily included eight of them in their analysis but threw the other eight out.
If you were expecting fifth grade questions about supply and demand, you'd be wrong. Let me just say: I come at this as a University of Chicago economics graduate who indeed disagrees with the liberal orthodoxy on many economic matters. But questions such as "[Does] poverty cause crime?", which was one of the questions that Klein and Buturovic excluded without explanation, are more like Zen meditations than matters of basic economics.
Others were poorly phrased, for instance: "A company that has the largest market share is a monopoly?". This is confusing; having the largest market share is a necessary, though hardly sufficient, condition for being a monopoly, and no alternative definitions were presented. Is this question really an objective basis for determining whether someone is more or less "enlightened" (that's actually the term that Klein uses!) about economics?
Some come closer to having a technically correct answer, but are more within the realm of trivia. For instance, "In the USA, more often than not, rich people were born rich?". Notwithstanding that the definition of "rich" is ambiguous, you could probably develop an empirical answer for this question based around studies of social mobility. But unless you'd spent a great deal of time reading the academic literature on mobility -- something that few laypeople will do -- there's really no way that you'd know it.
Finally, there are some questions about which there is considerable disagreement even within circles of academic economists -- as Klein should know, since he's commissioned several surveys of them. Economists are about evenly split, for instance, when it comes to the minimum wage. There is much closer to being a consensus on free trade, but there are an ample number of heterodox views. And in other cases -- like the Rand Paulian view that "More often than not, employers who discriminate in employee hiring will be punished by the market?" -- there is very little in the way of recent academic research at all.
So basically, what you're left with a number of questions in which people respond out of their ideological reference points because the questions are ambiguous, substanceless, or confusing. Klein is blaming the victims, as it were.
There would have been much better ways to construct a study like this one. For instance, questions could have been developed from standardized tests of high school students, like the AP Economics exam, or from surveys of academic economists. Such studies might well support Klein's thesis. But between the poorly-considered questions and the poor choice of survey partner, this amounts to junk science.
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BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Jeffrey Joseph
The continual destruction of life in the Gulf of Mexico has certainly warranted a fair amount of outrage that the nation could allow something of this magnitude, what President Barack Obama referred to as ?the greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our history,? to occur. Indeed, the growing wake of the spill has created plenty of blame to go around. Yet some commentators along the lines of Laura Ingraham have seized on the opportunity to blame the president more for political reasons than for any genuine assignation of blame as evidenced by the confusing and contradictory complaints about the president.
An occasional fill-in host and otherwise guest of The O?Reilly Factor, Ingraham appeared opposite Bill O?Reilly to discuss the disaster late last week. O?Reilly suggested the issue had become a political one, as criticisms fell in different directions almost entirely along ideological lines, but Ingraham contended President Obama was ?treating this like a political problem [and] that?s part of his problem.? She felt he had not taken the issue seriously enough, yet when O?Reilly mentioned Obama going down to the coast again, Ingraham argued, ?Yeah, he?s going down tomorrow, but there?s still not a sense that this is a serious approach.? Her attack continued against Ken Salazar, Janet Napolitano, Eric Holder, and apparently even Paul McCartney since Ingraham demanded the president ?have as much passion in tackling this issue as he did last night when Paul McCartney was serenading Michelle [Obama].? She sarcastically continued, ?But I have to look at the bright side because at least Michelle was having fun.?
Blackwater is opening brick-and-mortar retail stores where you can pick up everything from Blackwater-themed beach towels to assault rifles. Retail - Brick and mortar business - Business - Retail Trade - Shopping[...]
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From Matt at OsborneInk:
How bad is the Gulf oil spill? Bad...and that's the good news.
On Tuesday, Californians have an opportunity to strike a blow against the entrenched system of money-dominated politics that puts lobbyists' interests above the public interest by voting yes on Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act.
Prop 15 will change the way we finance election campaigns, starting with a voluntary pilot project to provide limited public financing for Secretary of State candidates in 2014 and 2018. The Secretary of State referees our elections, so it's especially important that s/he has the best ideas and experience, not the most money.
Given the state of our state, this is a critical campaign. But this is not just important to Californians. People across the country are watching too, knowing that Prop 15 could open the door for similar reforms across the country. Hundreds of orgs and individuals (including Rep. Alan Grayson and Lawrence Lessig) support it. You should, too.
Get out and vote ... in California and anywhere else there's an election today.
Poll worker Keta Hodgson says a scanning machine rejected Schwarzenegger's first ballot Tuesday because he selected two Senate candidates, instead of one.
Hodgson says the Republican governor was given the choice of filling out a new ballot or not having his Senate choice count. He cast a fresh ballot.
BP CEO Tony Hayward, vilified for his handling of the Gulf oil spill, will make his first appearance on Capitol Hill next week in a hearing investigating BP’s role in the causes and the aftermath of the oil rig disaster.
Hayward will testify in front of Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) investigative House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on June 17, in a hearing titled “The Role of BP in the Deepwater Horizon Explosion and Oil Spill.”
In yet another example of the conservative media creating a double standard for President Obama, right wing media outlets attacked him for giving "absolutely no commemoration" of the D-Day anniversary [yesterday].
In fact, Obama's D-Day commemorations mirror the Bush administration's; both commemorated D-Day on significant anniversaries but not annually.
Steve has a running tally of "One standard for Obama; one standard for everyone else."
Two men face federal charges for threatening Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) during the healthcare reform debate.
Two men face federal charges for threatening Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) after he voted for healthcare reform.
The U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Michigan on Monday charged Russell Hesch, 73, and his son David Hesch, 50, with conspiring to threaten, assault, kidnap or murder a U.S. official.
Don't know what gift to get for the paramilitary-enthusiast in your life? Look no further then the Blackwater proshop. That's right, Blackwater, also known as Xe, also known as the private military contracting outfit at the center of a number of controversies in Iraq and Afghanistan, is getting into the retail game.
According to Wired, the company is opening up storefronts in Fayetteville, North Carolina and Salem, Connecticut, but if you can't make it out there, you can always visit their online store.
Blackwater coffee mugs, beer-opener key chains, beach towels and shot glasses -- you want 'em, they've got 'em.
For the teenage girl in your life, they've got some spiffy pink baseball caps with the company logo printed in on it.
Nelson Mandela gave the World Cup the ultimate pre-tournament boost Tuesday as his family declared the 91-year-old anti-apartheid icon would be among the crowds when the event kicks off.
This afternoon, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) held a press conference to tout her “Dirty Air Act” resolution that rolls back the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. As Climate Progress has detailed, Murkowski’s bill was drafted in consultation with Jeffrey R. Holmstead and Roger R. Martella Jr — lobbyists for the coal and oil industry. Despite this fact, Murkowski has tried to downplay the influence of big oil on her efforts, claiming only her staff writes her actual amendments, and that she is motivated purely by the fear of “detrimental consequences” of Clean Air Act regulations.
But Murkowski’s own words help to clarify her relationship with the oil industry. In a startling speech given to the Oil and Gas Association Board of Directors on May 7, 2008, Murkowski asked the oil industry to “mobilize all your resources” for a massive campaign to “beat back bad legislation and regulations.” To combat “the growing hysteria over fossil fuel use,” Murkowski suggested that the oil industry “fund a major campaign to open areas of America to environmentally sensitive oil and gas exploration.” Murkowski commended the oil industry for “fight[ing] off efforts” to “add more red tape to gain drilling permits” and made clear that although she is facing “considerable and growing opposition” from Alaskan fishermen and whalers, her allegiance is with the oil industry in opening new drilling.
But possibly the most stunning statement was Murkowski’s claim that “new technology makes Santa Barbara wellhead blowouts impossible,” and that the oil industry should publicize this claim to the public in pushing for more drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf, in the Gulf of Mexico, off Florida’s shores, and elsewhere. Of course, BP’s oil spill disaster appears to have been caused by problems with the wellhead blowout preventer technology, which Murkowski said was impossible:
“In the past six months you have had to fight off efforts to single out multinational oil producers for nearly $18 billion in tax hikes. You have had to fight off a host of proposals in last year?s House energy bill to restrict access to federal lands, add more red tape to gain drilling permits, and fight off efforts to take away your oil and gas leases.[...] A major campaign to explain directional drilling and how it prevents surface disruption over a hundred square miles, how new technology makes Santa Barbara wellhead blowouts impossible [...] But I am here to also encourage your industry to come out of the foxholes and to fully join the battle. Because it is clear that if you don?t mobilize all your resources, no one else is going to be successful in delivering the message that we need a balanced, rational energy policy in this country, and we need it right now.”
Today, ThinkProgress spoke to Robert Dillon, Murkowski’s Communications Director at the Senate Energy Committee, about his boss’s 2008 speech. Dillon explained to ThinkProgress that BP’s oil disaster was not a result of a lack of regulation, but merely a lack of enforcement of existing regulations, and that Murkowski opposes “imposing regulations, more bureaucratic regulations and red tape” on the oil industry. When ThinkProgress pressed Dillon if that means Murkowski would oppose new regulations in the wake of BP’s oil spill, he ironically said no.
Transcript of Dillon’s comments below:
TP: In 2008, Senator Murkowski gave a speech to the executive committee of the U.S. Oil and Gas Association board of directors. And she praised the committee and said, this is a quote, “you have had to fight off efforts to single out multinational oil producers for nearly $18 billion in tax hikes. You have had to fight off a host of proposals in last year?s House energy bill to restrict access to federal lands, add more red tape to gain drilling permits, and fight off efforts to take away your oil and gas leases.” Do you think the Senator regrets praising the oil industry for fighting regulations and red tape.
DILLON: You’ve got a double edged sword here, you’ve got these companies the energy that we use for our national security right. Senator Murkowski supports the strictest environmental safety regulations and holding these companies fully accountable. [...]
TP: Now, we have this disaster in the Gulf that seems to have occurred because there were lax regulations on BP’s oil rig, you know, people weren’t inspecting the blowout protector and other things that could have prevented this tragedy–
DILLON: Yeah but those were regulations that weren’t enforced. That’s a big difference from saying than saying there could have been– I mean Senator Murkowski is saying, you know in that speech, imposing regulations, more bureaucratic regulations and red tape, piling it on, isn’t necessarily a good thing. But that’s completely different from saying we should be enforcing what is already on the books. And the problem we have here is you have things not being enforced, they didn’t follow the procedures that were already in place. And a lot of the problems is not living up to the standards already set–
TP: So, the Senator’s position is, we don’t need new regulations, just enforce the regulations that are already on the books?
DILLON: No, no, no, not fully. I’m saying, you’re talking about this speech, right. Obviously Senator Murkowski has said now, we need to review, she supports the administration’s review, she supports the time out in Alaska. She doesn’t support in shallow water, but she does support the review, the six month review. And she fully, has said repeatedly, that we are going to need to strengthen our safety regulations and we are going to see new regulations come out of that.
Despite the massive devastation caused by BP’s oil gusher, a growing number of Republicans have called for an immediate increase in offshore drilling, opposing President Obama’s moratorium on new wells until an investigation of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is complete. Pennsylvania Republican Senate nominee Pat Toomey joined the club Friday, telling WHYY in Philadelphia that Obama went too far in stopping new drilling:
Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey says the Gulf Coast oil spill is a “huge disaster,” but argues the United States shouldn’t shy away from offshore drilling. [...]
Going forward, Toomey wants to see more, and not less, domestic oil exploration.
“You know,” Toomey said, “we choose not to drill in the ANWAR, for instance. In a very obscure, remote part of Alaska that’s sitting on a huge amount of oil, and we don’t touch it. That increases our dependence on foreign oil. And I think that’s a mistake.”
In an interview, Toomey said President Obama might have gone too far in declaring a moratorium on offshore drilling in the wake of what’s being labeled the largest environmental disaster in American history.
The other Republicans calling for more drilling now hail from coastal states with economic interests in offshore drilling. Pennsylvania has no ocean coastline, but Toomey has a personal financial interest in drilling. The oil and gas industry has given Toomey nearly $50,000 for his Senate campaign this year, and he has taken over $96,000 from them over his entire career. Haliburton has been particularly generous to Toomey, giving him $2,500 in their post-Deepwater Horizon spending spree. Toomey was their top recipient of cash in May. Meanwhile, when Toomey was president of the hard-right Club For Growth, he said federal restrictions on offshore drilling “border on the criminal.” And while serving in the House, he consistently voted with the oil and gas industry.
Today's primaries include races in 12 states. We'll be focusing on 4 races.
Arkansas Democratic Senate Primary Runoff (Polls closed at 8:30pm Eastern)
Winner will take on John Boozman in November
Nevada Republican Senate Primary (Polls closed at 10pm Eastern)
Winner will take on Harry Reid in November
California Republican Senate Primary (Polls closed at 11pm Eastern)
Winner will take on Barbara Boxer in November
California Republican Gubernatorial Primary (Polls closed at 11pm Eastern)
Winner will take on Jerry Brown in November