Archive for the ‘electoral consequences’ Tag

Obama To Delay Executive Action On Immigration Until After Midterms   1 comment

I’m of two minds here when it comes to President Obama’s decision to delay executive actions on immigration until after the coming midterm elections…on the one hand, given how precarious the Senate’s fortunes for Democrats are at present, this decision, on the surface, sounds rational. On the other hand, if you’re part of the Democratic base that’s been pushing the administration for executive action in this case, this has to be almost too disheartening to bear in some quarters and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some w/in the base simply decide to sit out the midterms in response.


Could Bernie Sanders Challenge Hillary For The Democratic Nomination?   Leave a comment

I’m of two minds here on an article over at Crooks & Liars concerning whether Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is considering a presidential run against ‘presumptive’ candidate Hillary Clinton….on the one hand, if he were to make a run at Hillary, I don’t think it would succeed – but I do think it would sharpen Hillary for the general election. 

On the other hand, as long as I can remember, the Clintons – both Clintons – are known to have long memories towards those who challenge them and if Sanders does jump in, he’d damn well better win or else, should Hillary win come November 2016, progressives could once again find themselves aced out of the White House once more…

Is There A Sister Souljah Moment In Hillary’s Future?   1 comment

There’s an interesting article over at Crooks & Liars about the presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and for what its’ worth, I think the premise is a sound one. Ever since Bill Clinton denounced rapper Sister Souljah’s remarks following the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles back in 1992, every presidential campaign, it seems, has had one of these moments or two where a presidential candidate basically throws his political allies under-the-bus for the benefit of the chattering classes in D.C.…I mean, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama had their own examples in their respective presidential campaigns and it wouldn’t surprise me if Hillary does the same thing during the 2016 campaign…assuming she runs for president, that is.

Now, you ask, what kind of moment would it be? Well, think about it for a of the biggest criticisms of the Hillary for President bandwagon has been her willingness to cozy up to Wall Street, which – to be fair – is something both parties do…but its’ almost de rigueur on the Republican side; conversely, there are a lot of Democratic interests that look at Wall Street and the moneyed interests in the same manner that plague survivors probably looked upon the dead in Middle Ages-era Europe. Throw in some of her husband’s more infamous economic legacies – NAFTA, welfare reform, the repeal of Glass-Steagall – and you start to get an idea of the reluctance that progressives have for Hillary Clinton.

So what would a Sister Souljah moment for Hillary Clinton look like? Well, it could look something like this (quoting Crooks & Liars):

So imagine Hillary going to a Goldman Sachs gathering of 100 moguls at the Conrad Hotel in lower Manhattan and proclaiming not, as reported, “that we all got in this mess together in this together,” but rather, with Lloyd Blankfein seated beside her: “Banks that are too big to fail are too big to exist. They aren’t disciplined by the market, and can intimidate their regulators. This offends the very core of America’s free enterprise system, and our basic sense of fair play. It is time to break them up.”

Or alternatively, if not Wall Street, perhaps America’s biggest employer. Hillary could go to a Walmart shareholders meeting in Bentonville, and speaking from the floor as a former board member, warn that “the Walmart low road model – based on paying its employees so little that they have to rely on food stamps and Medicaid, and on outsourcing from China – is unsustainable. Our rival Costco has proved that we can be profitable and still provide good jobs with decent wages and benefits to our employees. And our nation must end its massive trade imbalances with China, which will put Walmart’s supply chain at risk. For the good of the company and the good of the country, it is time for a change.”(Crooks & Liars)

Would there be benefits to Hillary’s campaign if she were to do the above? You bet…several: (1)it would fire up the progressive base of the Democratic base, (2)it would also suck all the wind out of the sails of potential challengers such as Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (though in Warren’s case one suspects she would be smiling at Hillary’s words), (3)it would also erase the unseemly stigma of all those $200k speaking engagements that Hillary’s done over the years and (4)it would also make it very clear to working-class voters whose side she was on.

High Court Strikes Down Overall Contribution Limits   Leave a comment

Somewhere the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and other high-spending campaign donors are smiling…

The Supreme Court pressed ahead on Wednesday with the majority’s constitutional view that more money flowing into politics is a good thing — even if much of it comes from rich donors. By a five-to-four vote, the Court struck down the two-year ceilings that Congress has imposed on donations by individuals to presidential and congressional candidates, parties and some — but not all — political action groups.
The main opinion delivered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., said confidently that corruption in politics will be kept in check by caps — left intact — on how much each single donation can be. Removing the ceilings on the total amounts that may given in each election cycle will not undermine those limits, Roberts predicted.(ScotusBlog)

This has problems written all-over-it when it comes to campaign finance laws, especially in regards to campaign limits in an election cycle; one of the very reasons for those campaign limits was to lessen the very corrupting nature of campaign spending. It’s a basic rule: he who spends the money makes the rules and this decision gives the Kochs’ of the world carte blanche to spend gazillions in campaign from top to bottom.

It could’ve been worse, though…

Although the Roberts opinion spoke only for himself and three other Justices, Justice Clarence Thomas said he agreed with the result, making a majority for eliminating the two-year ceilings. Thomas said he would have gone even further to free up even more donations in federal campaigns. He would have overruled a 1976 decision (Buckley v. Valeo) that gives contributions less constitutional protection than spending during campaigns. He added, though, that the Roberts opinion “continues to chip away” at the 1976 decision’s foundations.(ScotusBlog)

And you wonder why Supreme Court nominations are fought over as much as they are; in Thomas’s bizarro world of campaign spending, one should be able to spend as much as one desires without any appreciable limits. Think about that one the next time you step into the voting booth…

Links of interest…

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, 12-536

ScotusBlog Coverage of the McCutcheon case

New York Times: Supreme Court Strikes Down Aggregate Limits On Campaign Contributions

Think Progress: How The Supreme Court Just Legalized Money Laundering By Rich Campaign Donors

H/T to Crooks & Liars

West Virginia’s Atypical Redness   Leave a comment

You know, the more I read this article over at Booman Tribune, the more I’m inclined to agree with him. For all of West Virginia’s supposed red-state tilt over the past few decades, the Mountaineer State still sends Democrats’ to Washington and to the Governor’s Mansion on a regular basis, which isn’t something you see in other Southern and Appalachian states…

Still, its’ also a outlier in that, even with the Democrats’ it sends to Washington, some (Joe Manchin and Nick Rahall, II, for instance) are very much the kind of ConservaDems that some on the Left regularly denigrate…well, newflash for the Markos Moulitsas’ of the Left: in some of these states, ConservaDems’ like them are about the only Dems’ that can be elected there; you try electing an Elizabeth Warren from West Virginia and tell me what the expected result is. As much as I don’t like the Travis Childers’ and Joe Manchins’ of the Democratic Party, their as much a part of the Democratic Party as the Elizabeth Warrens’ and Bernie Sanders’ of the party and the sooner the two sides find common cause together, the better our party will be in the future.

As I once said to a friend of mine, “I’d rather someone be on my side of the ledger who supports me 80% of time than denigrate them for political impurity and possibly lose them as an ally in the future.”

Posted March 23, 2014 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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Did N.C. Regulators Help Duke Energy Escape Environmental Fines?   Leave a comment the Pope Catholic?

News broke last week that Duke Energy and its North Carolina regulator had worked together to minimize penalties the utility would have to pay for leeching chemicals into the drinking water. And this was before a coal ash spill last month dumped thousands of tons of poisonous coal slurry into the Dan River.

But these emails are just the latest evidence of a problematic coziness between the politically influential utility and the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DENR).

In this case, a coalition of environmental groups headed by the Southern Environmental Law Center sued Duke Energy for violating the Clean Water Act. The groups hoped to bring Duke before a federal court, but DENR intervened, filing its own lawsuit in a state court so that it could control the outcome. The result: Duke was fined $99,000 — a negligible sum for a company with an operating revenue of $19.6 billion in 2012.(Moyers & Company via Crooks & Liars)

What happened here is probably the one cruel part of the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, namely what, for lack of a better word, could be described as ‘state preemption’. Basically, as the law is written, from the moment an environmental lawsuit is filed (such as the one above), the state where the alleged violations occurred has 60 days to intervene in state court; otherwise, the case goes before a federal court. In the case above, the state environmental agency, DENR, intervened right before the 60-day cutoff, thus ‘preempting’ the federal case and bringing the case into state court, where the state basically gave Duke Energy a slap on the wrist.

If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, read on…

Internal emails the [Southern Environmental Law] center released include one from an NC Department of Justice lawyer in March of last year, seven weeks after the law center had filed a 60-day notice of its intent to sue Duke.

The lawyer wrote that she needed to learn under what corporate name the state would file its own lawsuit against Duke. Duke merged with Progress Energy in July 2012, combining two fleets of coal-fired power plants.

“I need to check with (DENR general counsel Lacy Presnell) about how Duke wants to be sued,” she wrote.

The next day, according to the emails, the same lawyer wrote Presnell: “I need to know from you if Duke is expecting us to sue them or Progress.”

DENR spokesman Drew Elliot said he didn’t know whether Duke asked regulators to sue.

“But the point is, Duke is not our legal counsel,” he said. “We had a choice to make: Do we enforce the Clean Water Act, or do we let a citizens group enforce the Clean Water Act? There was only one choice, and that’s what we did.”(Charlotte Observer)

Now, here’s the rub in the above quote…in most places, the state’s environmental regulators are, in theory, supposed to work alongside and/or with environmental watchdog groups…however, here in the Old North State, the state’s regulatory agency of note – DENR – has a not-so-aboveboard relationship with the companies they’re supposed to regulate, namely Duke Energy.

Now, that’s bad enough in terms of regulatory coziness with the companies they’re supposed to be regulating…then this happened:

But then disaster struck. A pipe running under a 27-acre toxic waste pond collapsed and poured — by company estimates — 39,000 tons of coal ash mixed with 27 million gallons of contaminated water into the Dan River, which serves as a source of drinking water for a number of towns and cities. It was the third worst spill of its kind in US history.(Crooks & Liars)

Moyers & Company have been following the whole sordid mess of how a perfect storm of dark money interests, conservative lawmakers and various corporate-lef interests have combined to roll back policies and laws that have long benefitted the people of North Carolina; it’s well worth going over there and watching. It’s also a reminder that elections have consequences; I, for one, just wish that I had known a lot of this before voting for Pat McCrory back in 2012…

Posted March 18, 2014 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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Democrats Attack Koch Brothers In Louisiana Ads   Leave a comment

About..damn…time! In response to a barrage of Koch Brothers-inspired attack ads down in Louisiana against incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), the pro-Democratic super-pac Senate Majority PAC released the first of a series of ads designed to tie GOP challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy, Landrieu’s likely November opponent, to the Koch Brothers, who’ve been bankrolling GOP attacks against Landrieu…quoting the ad:

Out of state billionaires spending millions to rig the system and elect Bill Cassidy. Their goal: Another politician bought and paid for. Their agenda: Protect tax cuts for companies that ship our jobs overseas. Cut Social Security and end Medicare as we know it. They even tried to kill relief for hurricane victims. Cassidy’s billion dollar backers: They’ve got a plan for him. It’s not good for Louisiana.(Senate Majority PAC)

And it’s not just Louisiana; Koch Bros. ads have run in Alaska and North Carolina as well; both states are set to be part of the 2014 Senate battleground, control of which will have long-term ramifications for not just 2015-2016 but potentially years after.

H/T to Daily Kos

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