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Bright spot for Dems: Electing governors in states run by Republicans

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what's the matter with kansas now GOP governors

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As the headline suggests, there is, indeed, a bright spot for Democrats this election season: Knocking off GOP governors in tres rouge Republican states. Waitwhat? Yes, you read that right, we have a shot at retaking a few governors mansions in currently (Or to put it punnily, currantly) red states. Crazy huh? How'd that happen?

Well, it happened because radical right legislation signed by radical right governors is backfiring. Even their fellow Republicans have had enough. Now let's hope it backfires effectively enough to get voters to turn a few red mansions blue. Steve Kornacki cites one example. Then below that is the L.A. Times' broader take on the topic. Take it away, Steve:

Steve Kornacki, subbing for Rachel Maddow:

So you've heard a lot of stories in the last two years about extremely conservative governors and extremely conservative state legislators. You've probably heard of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and maybe you're even familiar with some of the extremely conservative lawmaking he and his legislature have achieved.

But you might not have heard what happened to Governor Brownback in Kansas today. Lots of people have seen enough and many of those people are Republicans...

There's a race for governor of Kansas this year. And today in that state, more than 100 Republican politicians and activists officially threw their support behind the Democrat...

And to put things in perspective and how big a deal this is, just take a minute to think of how staunchly a Republican state Kansas actually is...

Just two years ago, Brownback led an effort to purge moderate Republican state legislators in primaries to drive them out of the statehouse to replace them with right-wingers. And he got his way. 2012 was also the same year he signed a controversial tax slashing law into effect. ... Brownback said at the time that the cuts would create tens of thousands of new jobs and help make Kansas the best place in America to start and grow a small business.

But two years later, it hasn't quite worked out that way. So far, it`s cost Kansas a ton of revenue without really jump-starting the economy. Moody`s, for example, recently downgraded the state`s credit rating... [O]n one hand, the governor`s dealing with the fallout from the tax cuts he championed. And on the other, he`s dealing with backlash from the moderates he`s tried to stamp out.

Steve Benen has more on this at The Maddow Blog.

The Los Angeles Times explores the phenomenon further. Brownback isn't the only one who may be in trouble:

The mathematics and political map both favor Democrats, the opposite of their circumstance in congressional races, where most House Republicans are safe and most competitive Senate contests are in places President Obama lost in 2012.

By contrast, Republican governors are battling in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and other states Obama carried twice.

Democrats have even expanded the fight to places such as ruby-red Kansas, where Republican Gov. Sam Brownback faces a stiff challenge amid an uproar from GOP moderates and others unhappy with his aggressively conservative agenda — especially a massive tax cut that has badly strained state finances.

I love the way Nathan Gonzales, an analyst with the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, put it: "One of the consequences of doing well in an election is having to defend those victories next time around."

As regular readers know, one of my mantras is that the GOP lacks foresight. This drives the point home.

And this concludes yet another episode of Republicans Eating Their Own.

eating their own

oz we're not in kansas any more

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"Absence of a strong wave comes as something of a setback for GOP"

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democracy setback

A report just came out from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate. It confirmed what many of us already knew: that Americans are "staying away from the polls in droves." Not good, not good at all. The prediction is that the midterm primary elections will set record lows in voter turnout. "Who cares?" many of you may be asking. Well, per the Los Angeles Times, that would be a real setback for democracy:

Why does that matter? “It presents a danger to our society insofar as democracy does thrive on the consent and involvement of the governed,” said Curtis Gans, director of the nonpartisan election research center and a decades-long student of voter behavior. “Leadership needs some form of mandate.”

The study says a major factor in the low turnout is a sense of futility: congressional districts consciously drawn to favor one party or the other, which leave many voters wondering why they should bother participating when the outcome is preordained.

Got that? Gerrymandering is a major culprit. Scroll through our many posts on that subject.

gerrymander definition

To repeat, low voter turnout is bad for democracy... and usually bad for Democrats, specifically.

Adjacent to that article was another one about a different kind of setback. It has a somewhat encouraging title (key word: somewhat), No partisan wave building for fall elections, but GOP gains likely:

[F]or now, the absence of a strong wave comes as something of a setback for Republicans, who had hoped earlier this year that the unpopularity of President Obama's healthcare law would guarantee big gains for them.  [...]

The public's dismal view of Congress probably accounts for some of that lack of enthusiasm about voting.

That last sentence is an understatement, IMHO. Our own Sherry Hardy wrote a great post about that here, and I followed up here.

Not a skit, our actual Congress, gaa! Maddow

And from the Timing Is Everything Dep't., Steve Kornacki subbed for Chris Matthews on Hardball and treated us to his own "Let Me Finish" segment in which he opined on the long game for Democrats:

Kornacki:

Right now, at least, it doesn't look like a big Republican wave is building, and it does look like Democrats can at least hold their own this fall. And if they can do that, then it sets up the real battle in 2016...

In 2016, Republicans won't just get to take shots at the White House, they'll have to put up a candidate of their own. They'll have to write a platform of their own, run on an agenda that might not sit that well with most Americans. There could be a huge opportunity for Democrats...

2014 is important to [the Democrats], but 2016? That's the ball game.

You know what to do:

vote  turnout  gotv

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"Not a skit! Our actual Congress! Gaaa!"

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Not a skit, our actual Congress, gaa! Maddow

Our own Sherry Hardy covered Rachel Maddow's edible take-down of the Worst Congress Ever in her post, 'Get Out and Push', Says Maddow of the Useless, U.S. Congress. Maddow went ballistic, and rightfully so. Wowee, do GOP obstructionists suck, and yes, I'm using the official elitist left vernacular. Before going any further, I have to share a couple of the best parts from the segment Sher put up. And by "best" I mean most relatable, because Rachel's Moment of Gaa! was surely felt by many of us. Here are four very short clips (under a minute each) that represent some of her best outbursts. Here she is, blasting Congress to smithereens, and by Congress she meant Republican members thereof:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maddow:

"Not a skit! Our actual Congress! Gaaa!"

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maddow:

"This is truly historic failure."

ding ding ding

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

All of this brings us to today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor in which readers responded to former Rep. David Dreier op-ed that was meant "to assure readers that it's not as bad as it seems in Congress. The nearly unanimous response from the nearly two dozen readers who sent us letters: Are you serious?"

Here you go, because our voices matter:

It's been tried many times before, the guilty claiming innocence by accusing the victim.

Dreier does just that. He blames the people for being divided, implying that the members of Congress themselves are not at fault. This is why only 13% of Americans approve of Congress, according to a January Gallup poll. Eighty seven percent of the people being of one mind in their disapproval doesn't sound like division.

Fewer laws have been passed by this Congress than by any other in the last 65 years, and Dreier says it's not really that bad. I think it is time for a reality check.

Frances Pin, Marina del Rey

..

Dreier deludes himself and, even more sadly, us.

We have a do-nothing Congress not because Americans are deeply divided. Important legislative efforts on immigration, the minimum wage and gun control did not die because of deep division, as a large majority of Americans favored these measures.

Is Dreier saying that shutting down the government and threatening its solvency came because of voter division? The failures came because the GOP was listening to the radical tea party members of Congress, who represent a very small minority of the population.

It is self-serving for Dreier to blame the division of the people — actually, insulting.

Jim Hoover, Huntington Beach

..

Dreier states that he is continually asked, "Is Congress completely controlled by big money and special interests?" and "Is it more partisan and dysfunctional than ever before?"

He never answers. Instead he tells us how there are always two opinions to every issue and groups of constituents on both sides.

I have to assume that he avoided answering because the answers are both "yes."

Ted Bacino, Palm Springs

..

Dreier blames the diversity of Americans for Congress' obstructionism.

Of course we are diverse, and we are better off for it. However, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated in 2010 that his main goal was for Barack Obama to be a one-term president, he revealed quite clearly what the Republican Party was all about: not diversity, but settling scores.

Robert S. Ellison, Arcadia

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"It's Arm the Rebels o'clock. Do you know where your Senator John McCain is?"

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john mccain arm rebels

How many times have we been subjected to John McCain's myopic rants about arming the rebels in any given civil war or in any given area of conflict?

Rachel Maddow:

It's Arm the Rebels o'clock. Do you know where your Senator John McCain is?

Per McCain, it really doesn't matter much where or who they are, if they're rebels, just arm them. Especially if President Obama is taking a more measured approach. Grampy McDrumbeat is just itching to hand over lethal weapons of war to someone, anyone, because if fits into his whole Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb [insert country here] mentality: the more explosions the better. Especially if we aid and abet some of them. Blow 'em up! Kill [insert bad guys' name here]! What a blast! (Pun intended.)

weeee smaller

There's just one problem with that mania, Senator McDrumbeat. It can backfire.

Take Guatemala, for example. Via the Los Angeles Times:

Perez Molina said the violence and crime in Guatemala were a byproduct of the Cold War when the U.S. and the Soviet Union were funding opposite sides of civil wars in Central America to gain influence.

Perez Molina was a top intelligence officer in the Guatemalan military in the 1980s and ’90s.

Moral of the story: Don't listen to John McCain.

Real moral of the story: A more rational, measured approach is most often very wise and can save lives.

Other moral of the story: The road to more violence and crime is paved with shortsighted intentions.

Immoral of the story: Stop treating horribly abused child refugees like criminals.

In related news, there was an L.A. Times letter to the editor that is worth a share. I'd link to it, but I can't find it on the Times site, so I'm transcribing it verbatim:

Re: "Texas to send Guard troops to border," July 22

I hear echoes of Kent State University. What are the National Guard troops to do to these migrant children in Texas: shoot them?

Pat Mauer, Pasadena

What is it with Republican presidential hopefuls and violent troubleshooting? (Pun intended.)

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Michele Bachmann, please proceed

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please proceed Marsha Blackburn

Bachmann 1

To quote President Obama as he watched his presidential opponent Mitt Romney commit political suicide during a debate, "Please proceed," Michele Bachmann. No seriously. Proceed. Please. This country needs a little levity. As Rachel Maddow put it in the above segment, she is the "living, breathing embodiment of the crazy in American politics. It's almost an American pastime to watch Michele Bachmann do her thing."

But Maddow also added, "She's more influential than she gets credit for... She may look like a kooky also-ran all the time, but she also has a way of saying things that stick."

Oh stop being so even-handed and astute, Rachel. You're ruining all our fun.

Via Real Clear Politics:

The Minnesota congresswoman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate told RealClearPolitics on Tuesday that she is considering a second White House run.

Bachmann made the revelation during an interview, in which she was asked for her view on whether any Republican women might seek the Oval Office in 2016.

“The only thing that the media has speculated on is that it’s going to be various men that are running,” she replied. “They haven’t speculated, for instance, that I’m going to run. What if I decide to run? And there’s a chance I could run... Like with anything else, practice makes perfect,” she said. “And I think if a person has gone through the process -- for instance, I had gone through 15 presidential debates -- it’s easy to see a person’s improvement going through that.”

There are more quotes from Bachmann at the link.

Fasten your seat belts...

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WI GOP may allow cameras next: Poll watchers already allowed 3 feet from voters

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voter intimidation voter suppression

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a bill this year that let poll observers intimidate get within thirty-six inches of the voters they are hovering over monitoring. Nothing like having the rabidly right wing poll police breathing down your neck while you try to make private choices in what used to be a country that believed in democracy. Now Wisconsin may allow cameras. Now they want their "observers" to be able to record your personal information, too.

Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog on the original law:

The law would allow observers to stand 3 to 8 feet from the table where voters announce their names and addresses and are issued voter numbers, or from the table where people register to vote.

Gee, who could possibly mind if a total stranger, a fanatic extremist partisan with fervently opposing views, overheard your name and address? Or scrutinized and challenged your vote? What could possibly go wrong?

breathing down neck, intimidateImage via

Here's a video of Rachel Maddow explaining the original law in full back in April:

Clearly, that's not enough Dem harassment for Wisconsin Republicans. Now the election bullies observers would be able to unnerve their fellow citizens not just with their presence, but also with cameras and video recorders. If Americans exercising their voting rights happen to rub the monitors the wrong way, then hey, chill them to the bone. Document them. Record them. Use your cameras as weapons. Make them as uncomfortable as possible. Terrify them. Try to suppress their votes by causing them to avoid the polls in order to avoid the poll watchers.

Via the Green Bay Press Gazette:

Wisconsin officials may lift the ban on camera usage by election observers.

The state elections board will meet Monday to vote on proposed changes to election observer rules, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The Republican-controlled Legislature proposed the ban reversal.

Election observers have been prohibited from shooting photos and video at the polls for the past eight years.

If the ban is lifted, cameras can start being used during the August primary. So much for your privacy, Wisconsinites.

Via nutsandolts.com

This is going from "creepy" to downright scary.

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Universal background check supporters boycott Hallmark

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hallmark life is a special occasion

Dear Hallmark: Universal background checks for gun sales could have prevented mass killings. Massacres can also be cut short when a shooter runs out of bullets and has to reload. That's why there's a call for a ban on large capacity magazines in favor of those that hold fewer bullets. Of course, for some unfathomable reason, there is resistance to forcing shooters to stop and reload more often. However, most Americans do agree on mandatory background checks. They can weed out potential gun owners who have a history of violence and mental instability, criminal pasts, or a history of domestic violence. People with obviously severe problems like those should not be able to acquire a gun.

You would think "pro-lifers" would be in favor of saving lives, now wouldn't you? You'd think anyone would. Background checks would be the simplest way to achieve that. In fact, 90% of the American public favors them.

Via DigitalJournal.com:

"But, incredibly, Hallmark does not support Universal Background Checks-- or any background checks-- for gun sales. That is why a complete Hallmark boycott is being called for by the National Gun Victims Action Council (NGVAC) and the Newtown Victims and Clergy for Corporate Responsibility (NVCCR)," said Elliot Fineman, CEO of (NGVAC). [...]

"Until Hallmark gets off the sideline and supports Universal Background Checks (which NGVAC studies show will minimally save 2,000 lives per year) and commits to work for their passage our boycott will continue," said Fineman.

If protecting the Stay family and America's families is not reason enough for Hallmark to act, then it is reason enough for the over 90% of Americans that want Universal Background Checks to not buy any Hallmark products or to support any of the Hallmark Channel sponsors.

Here's what Hallmark's Chairman Donald Hall, Jr. said in response: "We do not get involved in divisive issues."

Psst! Mr. Hall, Jr... mowing down groups of people, murdering children, slaughtering teachers and theater-goers, destroying families, that's pretty divisive, don'tcha think? Death divides family members. Preventing death, maiming, and more devastation should be our goal.

Sadly, death also bring people together, but for the wrong reason. Just ask America, post-Sandy Hook:

More at the link.

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