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Archive for November, 2012

GOP: Blame message not the messenger

November 26th, 2012

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This piece was originally featured on Reuters.

Here’s what’s supposed to be happening: After losing two presidential elections, Republicans are supposed to be re-evaluating what their party stands for. Are they out of line with mainstream America? Does the party need to change?

The answer is yes. So the party moves to the center and searches for candidates with broader appeal. Republicans don’t need another spectacle like the 2012 primaries, where the contenders ran the gamut from a panderer to the right (Mitt Romney), to the far right (former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum), to the extreme right (Representative Michele Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry), to the lunatic fringe (Herman Cain, Representative Ron Paul). Read the rest of this entry »

Why left should seek a fiscal deal

November 8th, 2012

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This piece was originally featured on Reuters.

“I am looking forward to reaching out,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday night after he had won reelection, “and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.”

The progressive community must understand this and put aside its rigidity to help him meet this goal. As Obama also said early Wednesday morning, “We’ve got more work to do.” Read the rest of this entry »

What’s on the Ballot? (UPDATED with Results)

November 7th, 2012

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President Obama’s re-election was not the only important issue on the November 2012 ballot. Several states’ voters faced important initiatives with possible national implications, and the results of those votes are listed below.

Here’s a Quick Overview:

  • Of the 4 marriage votes, all 4 were in support of marriage (ME, MD, and WA legalizing, MN not banning).
  • Of the 2 abortion votes, 1 restriction passed (MT) and 1 restriction failed (FL).
  • Of the 2 immigration votes, 1 went in favor of immigrants (MD DREAM Act) and 1 went against immigrants (MT proof of citizenship).
  • In the 1 affirmative action vote, the practice was banned (OK).
  • In the 1 dying with dignity vote, the effort failed (MA).
  • Of the 6 marijuana votes, 4 passed (MA, CO, MT, WA), 2 failed (AR, OR).

Marriage for Gay Couples:

Abortion:

  • Florida Amendment 6: FAILED - state constitution not amended to prohibit the use of any public funds for abortion (including through Medicaid or the purchase of insurance covering abortion in a state exchange) except in the cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother. Had it passed, the amendment also would have overruled any court cases where the Florida Constitution was found to provide a broader right to abortion than the U.S. Constitution and prohibited the state constitution from ever again being interpreted to provide any abortion rights not guaranteed federally.
  • Montana Legislative Referendum 120: PASSED - requires doctors to notify a parent or guardian 48 hours before performing an abortion on a minor under 16 years old, except in cases of emergency or where a judge allows it.

Immigration:

  • Maryland Question 4: PASSED - allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at a community college and at a four-year school after transfer if they meet certain requirements.
  • Montana Legislative Referendum 121: PASSED - requires anyone seeking a state service to show proof of citizenship. DHS will be notified of any noncitizen applicants unlawfully within the U.S.

Affirmative Action:

  • Oklahoma State Question 759: PASSED - amends the state constitution to prohibit the use of affirmative action based on race, gender, ethnicity, or nationality in employment, education, and contracting.

Crime and Guns:

  • Arizona Proposition 114: PASSED - amends the state constitution to ensure that no crime victim can be sued for damages if he injures or kills the person committing the crime against him.
  • California Proposition 34: FAILED - the state’s use of the death penalty is not eliminated.
  • California Proposition 36: PASSED - amends the state’s Three Strikes Law to apply only where the third strike is for a serious or violent felony.
  • Louisiana Amendment 2: PASSED – amends the state constitution to explicitly classify the right to bear arms as fundamental, making it very difficult for courts to uphold any law infringing upon that right.

Religion:

  • Florida Religious Freedom Amendment 8: FAILED - state constitution not amended to ensure that no person or entity can be denied public funding because of religious identity, and did not reverse the current statewide ban on the direct or indirect use of public funds to aid religious providers.

Dying with dignity:

  • Massachusetts Question 2: FAILED – doctors are not allowed to prescribe medication to terminally ill patients to end their lives at the patients’ request.

Marijuana:

  • Arkansas Issue 5: FAILED - medical marijuana is not legalized.
  • Massachusetts Question 3: PASSED - legalizes medical marijuana.
  • Colorado Amendment 64: PASSED – decriminalizes marijuana use and possession for people 21 years of age or older.
  • Washington Initiative 502: PASSED - decriminalizes marijuana use and possession for people 21 years of age or older.
  • Montana Initiative Referendum 124: PASSED – overturns a recent bill that medical marijuana supporters call a “de facto repeal” of the old medical marijuana law, and ensures the legality of medical marijuana use.
  • Oregon Measure 80: FAILED - medical marijuana is not legalized, nor will a state-wide commission be established to regulate and tax its sale.

Unions:

  • Michigan Proposal 2: FAILED - state constitution not amended to include a right to collective bargaining through unions for all public and private sector employees.
  • Idaho Propositions 1 and 2: FAILED - two recent education bills that limited the collective bargaining rights of teachers are not repealed.

Health Care:

  • Alabama Amendment 6: PASSED - amends state constitution to prohibit any person, employer, or health care provider from being forced to participate in any health care system.
  • Wyoming Amendment A: PASSED - amends state constitution to prohibit any person, employer, or health care provider from being forced to participate in any health care system.
  • Florida Amendment 1: FAILED - laws not prohibited from forcing people or employers to purchase, obtain, or provide health insurance.
  • Montana Legislative Referendum 122: PASSED - prohibits anyone from being required to purchase health care or from being punished for refusing to do so.
  • Missouri Proposition E: PASSED - prohibits the establishment/creation/operation of any health insurance exchange unless explicitly passed as a state statute, referendum, or initiative.

Clean Energy:

  • Michigan Proposal 3: FAILED - by 2025, 25% of the retail utility sales in the state are not required to come from renewable sources and rate increases from the use of these renewable sources are not limited to only 1% per year.

Election Reform:

  • Arizona Proposition 121: FAILED - party-based primaries are not replaced by a single primary for all candidates from which the top-two vote earners would move into the general election.
  • California Proposition 32: FAILED – contributions to state or local campaigns by unions and corporations are not banned, government contractors are not prohibited from contributing to politicians who control their contracts, and automatic deduction of employee wages for political use by corporations, unions, and the government are not banned.
  • Colorado Amendment 65: PASSED - instructs the state government to support a federal limit on campaign contributions.
  • Minnesota Amendment 2: FAILED - state constitution not amended to require voters to show photo identification.
  • Montana Initiative 166: PASSED - establishes as state policy that corporations are not people, requires the legislature to prohibit corporate campaign contributions, and charges the state’s congressional delegation with proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution stating that corporations are not people and are therefore not entitled to constitutional rights.

How did Obama do it?

November 6th, 2012

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This piece was originally featured on Al Jazeera.

It was partly a personal victory. American voters like Barack Obama. Mitt Romney, not so much. Romney came across as an opportunist. He was a moderate when that was required in Massachusetts, and he was a “severe conservative” when he ran for the Republican nomination. In the end, voters just didn’t trust Romney

What about the issues? The economy was a huge burden for President Obama. That’s why the election was so close. It was by far the biggest issue to voters, and those concerned about the economy did vote for Romney. But not by a huge margin. Obama benefited from the fact that a lot of voters still blame President Bush for the financial crisis. And from the fact that people believe the economy is beginning to turn around. Obama sells hope, and there’s still a lot of hope out there. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s the (lack of) unity, stupid!

November 5th, 2012

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This piece was originally featured on Reuters.

What we expect to hear in the closing days of a campaign is a call to arms.  Instead, what we’re hearing from both sides is a call to disarm.

“I’m going to have to reach across the aisle and meet with good Democrats who love America just like you love America,” Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney told a recent campaign rally in Virginia.  “And there are good Democrats like that.”

“In the end, we’re all in this together,” President Barack Obama said at a rally in Wisconsin.  “We rise and fall as one nation, one people.”

Why the sudden craving for unity?  Because that’s the issue that got Obama elected.  He became a star when he told the 2004 Democratic National Convention, “There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America.  There’s the United States of America.” Read the rest of this entry »

Tough Choices in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

November 2nd, 2012

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Everyone from Mayor Bloomberg and Businessweek to Bill Clinton and LA Times are linking Hurricane Sandy to climate change. Do we know for certain that this highly destructive hurricane is the result of climate change?

The short answer is: we don’t. There will always be contrary opinions, but when we look across all the weather events of the past 10, 20, or 50 years, the trend is clear. Climate is the average of weather over a period of time, and we’re seeing 100-year floods occurring every 3-20 years. We’re seeing each year become one of the hottest years on record. And we’re seeing more severe droughts more frequently. This has contributed to a rise in sea level across the East Coast, which makes cities like New York and destinations like the Jersey Shore more prone to flooding when storms do hit.

Why should you care? Read the rest of this entry »