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New & Noteworthy

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

A Tale of Two Americas

“We spent the last few weeks digging through Census data on congressional districts to get a CIA World Factbook-style portrait of the two countries in the House—the one within all the GOP districts (Republistan) and the one within all the Democratic districts (Democravia). The full results are in a table at the bottom of this post.

We did this with a very simple question in mind: How do the differences between the two nations represented in the House correspond to the larger policy differences between the parties?”

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/11/there-really-are-two-americas-republistan-and-democravia/281412/

Liz Cheney “philosophically opposed” to Her Sister 

“Mary Cheney shared Poe’s message on the social networking Web site, adding, “Liz — this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree — you’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/cheney-sisters-trade-barbs-over-same-sex-marriage/2013/11/17/68545c9c-4fc0-11e3-a7f0-b790929232e1_story.html

Prime Minister Ford? What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/11/18/rob_ford_prime_minister_toronto_mayor_tells_fox_news_he_wants_to_run_for.html

Obamacare’s Implications for Ideology 

“Conservative thinkers have already seized on the rocky rollout of Obamacare — and the indefensible management failures it implies — as proof positive that the age-old argument over the proper role of state action in American life has reached a fresh danger point for the Democrats.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/11/obamacare-threat-to-liberalism-99975.html?hp=f2

Photo Credit: HuffingtonPost Canada

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Politics is fun

New & Noteworthy

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Is the ACA rollout Obama’s Katrina?

New York Times:

“The disastrous rollout of his health care law not only threatens the rest of his agenda but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/us/politics/parallels-to-bush-in-toxic-political-mix-threatening-obama.html?hp&_r=1&

Slate:

“Since the comparison is in the air, it’s worth noting the big difference between Hurricane Katrina and the botched Obamacare rollout. So here it is: 1,833 people died during Hurricane Katrina.”

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/11/15/katrina_vs_obamacare_here_s_the_difference.html

A tongue-in-cheek piece from Philip Blump:

“At no point did President Obama go to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Healthcare.gov, and look at the overheated servers and code and what-have-you. Just as Bush ignored cries for help from people who’d lost homes after the storm, Obama ignored the error logs from the website, letting them issue their error 404s and error 500s into the blank void of an unseen hard drive”

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/11/actually-obamacare-roll-out-failures-are-exactly-katrina/71655/

No More Holder: House Republicans Introduce Articles of Impeachment Against America’s AG

“The resolution could pass the Republican-dominated House but would likely sputter in the Democratic-dominated Senate, which would have to hold a trial to remove Holder, who has been attorney general since 2009, from office”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/14/us-usa-congress-holder-idUSBRE9AD02O20131114

The Return of the Dixiecrats

“The country regards the shutdown as a sign of government dysfunction, but for the implacable members of Boehner’s caucus, shutdown may simply be the ultimate form of limited government. Sixty-five years ago, the Dixiecrats spearheaded a movement toward the G.O.P. The Tea Party is an echo of that same movement, save for one distinction: in 2013, the rebels have nowhere left to go”

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2013/10/the-gops-dixiecrat-problem.html

Warren v. Clinton, Again 

“Democracies are hardly immune from dynastic adventures. India has its Nehru-Gandhi family, Britain its Pitts, Canada its Trudeaux. America’s own experience with Presidential primogeniture has been both long and mixed. The Adamses, John and John Quincy, were a wash: distinguished personages but poor Presidents. The Harrisons, William Henry and Benjamin, were nothing special—though, to be fair, the former died a month after his inauguration. The Roosevelts were the sole triumph. (Franklin was only a fifth cousin of Teddy, but the name was powerful.) And then there were … the Bushes”

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/11/hillary-clinton-vs-elizabeth-warren.html

Can we pick no one, please?

“One Democratic pollster recently (and aptly) summed up the sentiment: “Voters want to punish Republicans but not reward Democrats.” This dynamic suggests we are in for either a highly muddled election outcome next year—hardly the stuff for a wave, because one party has to be rewarded and looked favorably upon to create a wave—or a highly volatile environment…”

http://www.nationaljournal.com/the-cook-report/voters-don-t-want-to-see-anyone-win-20131115

Photo Credits: wikipedia.org

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US Politics

The Republican Establishment Did Not Win in Alabama’s 1st Congressional Race

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By Stewart Shoemaker

Off-year election cycles rarely yield much excitement, despite the best efforts of political reporters. Luckily for the candidates in Alabama’s 1st Congressional district election, their race fit neatly into the dominant media narrative of America’s current political milieu: theGOP’s ‘civil war’.

In one corner stood Bradley Byrne, a former state senator and failed gubernatorial candidate, and the favorite of the Republican Establishment’s typical suspects: the Chamber of Commerce and the RNC.

Bradley Byrne, the Establishment's Victor

Bradley Byrne, the Establishment’s Victor

 

On the other side was Dean Young, pushing the Tea Party line like it was going out of style. “Homosexuals should go back to California” was one memorable gem from his radical campaign.

The race was hailed as a perfect microcosm of the Republican Party’s problems, and the media patiently waited for the results in order to determine the direction of the Tea Party’s power struggle.By the end of Tuesday night, when Byrne edged out a narrow victory over the bible-thumping Young, reporters from high-profile outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post cited Byrne’s victory as a sign of the Establishment’s resurgence within the Grand Ole Party, suggesting a return to normalcy  from the suicide politics we’ve recently witnessed(see the Government Shutdown).

On its face, this analysis seems apt: Byrne is certainly no Tea Partier and won the race by a larger margin than expected. Yet this analysis is, at worst, utterly false, and, at best, glosses over important nuances whose implications would significantly alter our perception of the Tea Party’s influence on American governance.

Alabama’s 1st district lies on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and encompasses the metropolis of Mobile, the state’s second largest city, making it one of the less rural and more educated districts in a state where 60% of the Republican electorate believes President Obama is a practicing Muslim and evolution is a farce. Starting in 1968 with the election of Republican Jack Edwards, at a time when the Democratic Party dominated Alabama and Southern politics, the 1st district has bucked the state’s conservative roots and tended to elect more moderate and less polemical candidates. Consider last year’s Republican primary for the very same seat:

Jo Bonner  55.55%

Gounares   4.39%

Riehm      15.75%

Young       24.31%

As you can see, Jo Bonner, the incumbent, survived a rowdy Republican primary filled with three different Tea Party candidates, all of whom ran on platforms portraying Bonner as a big-spending, Beltway-loving, RINO (Republican-in-name-only), without so much as a runoff.

This remarkable result occurred in the same election cycle that saw Alabama Republicans pick Rick Santorum as their presidential favorite and elect Judge Roy Moore, already once removed from the Chief Justiceship of the state’s Supreme Court for placing a two-ton monument of the Ten Commandments in the state courthouse, to the exact same post.

While incumbents enjoy a notoriously comfortable position in congressional elections, Bonner’s electoral cruising within a wave of ultra-conservatism speaks to the 1st district’s relative centrism, insofar as the district tends to favor mainstream Republican candidates like McCain or Romney over Gingrich or Bachmann.

Taking the district’s electoral history into account, Byrne’s narrow victory over a fervent Tea Party candidate like Dean Young makes a mockery of the media’s declaration of an Establishment victory. Young has never held political office and possesses few political contacts within the state other than Judge Moore, who, despite his electoral successes (his first victory for the chief justiceship handed Karl Rove a very rare defeat) remains enigmatic even amongst the state’s more conservative politicians.  Yet Young still managed to come within four percentage points of a well-financed, well-known, and well-connected candidate who was, in the recent past, very nearly Alabama’s governor.

Dean Young, the Tea Party Loser

Dean Young, the Tea Party Loser

Furthermore, Byrne’s rhetoric during the campaign embodied a sharply conservative tone, despite his past record of more moderate stances, undoubtedly a calculated decision by his campaign handlers to court conservative, evangelical voters.

Considering the tight race and Byrne’s rhetorical move to the far right, the idea that the election in Alabama’s 1st represents the Republican Establishment’s reclamation of its party’s reigns from the uncompromising Tea Party fails to establish a justifiable basis. This narrow victory, rather than signaling a return to Establishment-style GOP politics, instead suggests that the Tea Party has managed to enhance its influence in a once moderate, yet reliably Republican, district.

For the Republican Party to ameliorate its Tea Party problems, districts like Alabama’s 1st need to remain safely within the hands of the party’s Establishment, and results like last Tuesday’s should give the GOP more cause to worry than to celebrate.

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