Archive for November, 2010
Eric Kleefield at TPM flags a story out of Minnesota. The presumed winner of the MN governor election – by over 9,000 votes – is DFLer (Minnesotan for Democrat) Mark Dayton. At the same time, Republicans won majorities in both houses of the Minnesota legislature. According to a story cited by Kleefield, at least one Republican operative has suggested that Tom Emmer, the presumed loser of the governor’s race (and a Republican), should drag out the recount so that Governor Tom Pawlenty can have a little bit of time to work with a completely Republican legislature (he’s never had that opportunity; at least one house was held by DFLers for his entire governorship).
To their credit, Pawlenty and the incoming Republican leaders have shot the idea down. But incoming House leader Kurt Zellers offers a caveat:
“It would be disrespectful to either candidate and the people of Minnesota to somehow try to game the system or manipulate the recount to push through a legislative agenda. The recount should take its due course through the legal process and remain untainted by political maneuvering to drag out or accelerate anyone’s legislative agenda.
“You’re not going to see the House rush to ram something through right out of the gate just to try to beat the system. But we do have a job to do regardless of who sits in the Governor’s Office. We will get to work on day one to reform government and bring jobs back to Minnesota…”
So far, nobody has mentioned redistricting.
Here’s a story from the Star Tribune:
Should the state lose a seat like the RNC predicts, a messy fight will ensue if the governor’s mansion does flip to the DFL.
In 2000, Republicans had hoped to combine the Fourth (St. Paul) and Fifth (Minneapolis) Districts — both heavily Democratic — into a single urban district. On the other hand, it’s no secret that DFLers would love to see Rep. Michele Bachmann’s congressional district evaporate.
And here is the process Minnesota uses for redistricting:
“…Once the Legislature has passed a redistricting bill, the Governor will have the option of signing it or vetoing it. If he signs the bill, redistricting has been accomplished. If he vetoes the bill, the Legislature might vote to override the veto. If the veto withstands an override attempt, a new bill must be written, passed and sent to the Governor.”
Finally, here’s the timeline of events:
November 2, 2010
Map drafters identified
December 31, 2010
State population reported to President
Congressional seats reapportioned
Census Phase 3 – block populations reported to state census liaisons
February 21, 2012
Legislative and congressional redistricting complete
As you see, the deadline for completion is February, 2012. The deadline is set so far out because more foten than not, you don’t have one party controlling the Governorship and both Houses of the legislature. Redistricting battles can be drawn out to the extent that the begin to run into campaign season for the next cycle. So that candidates have a fair chance to prepare, a deadline is set early in the next election year. If it’s not met, the courts complete the process.
But that’s not what we have here, at least not early in 2011. With a unified government, Republicans could conceivably take full control of redistricting and ram it through before Mark Dayton takes his seat. If such a dirty trick were to transpire, Michelle Bachmann looks to be the beneficiary.
A piece written by historian and commentator Rick Perlstein is making the rounds. Titled, “We Are Ruled by Liars,” Perlstein says:
We live in a mendocracy.
As in: rule by liars.
Political scientists are going crazy crunching the numbers to uncover the skeleton key to understanding the Republican victory last Tuesday.
[Discussion of Obama and the well-received speech he gave trumpeting the stimulus package]
The next morning I tuned in to Rush Limbaugh. I was fascinated to see how the hell he might respond.
Like a deer in the headlights? Not quite. The first caller, though a self-professed ditto-head, took objection to Rush’s argument that Obama had revealed himself in the speech as a tax-and-spend liberal. The caller quoted Obama’s words: “Because of this plan, 95 percent of the working households in America will receive a tax cut—a tax cut that you will see in your paychecks beginning on April 1.” (Which was true: People did.)
Rush responded, fluidly and without a gram of doubt. “Pay no attention to what Obama says. He means the opposite in most cases. What he says is irrelevant.”
So the guy to whom all Republicans must kowtow on pain of political death had just laid down a marker that everything Obama said was a lie.
I think Rick misses one key piece of info: Rush Limbaugh is heard by more people on a near-daily basis than any other person in the world. I’m not positive about that, but pretty damned sure.
A good cable news audience (Bill O’Reilly sets the standard here, I believe), may reach 5 million people on an excellent night. Network news shows get 7-8 million people.
For three hours every single weekday, Rush Limbaugh reaches (for at least part of those 3 hours) 20 million people.
The naked fact is that he is the most influential political voice in the United States. Probably moreso than the President himself.
Over his 25 years of broadcasting, Rush has built up a ton of trust with his audience and completely changed the AM radio spectrum. Hannity is close on his tail in terms of reach. Just behind him, you find Beck. And Ingraham. And Levin and Savage and Medved and Prager and Dobbs and Mancow and Bennett and Doyle…. and… and…. and….
What is more scary? The fact that these folks vote in wildly disproportionate numbers. They aren’t passive listeners. They open their wallets (fear does that to some folks, I guess), forward ridiculous email chains (when is the last time you got a progressive email from a crazy uncle?) and can be reliably counted upon to flood Congress with faxes, letters and phone calls. All of that gives them an outsized voice in our politics. It’s why our issues poll well, but we can’t elect people that do what we want them too. The talk radio crowd, combined with the moneyed interests, crowd progressive voices out.
I’d love to see a graphical representation of American politics compared against the arc of right wing talk radio. My bet is that it’d open up some eyes. I suspect that too many of us believe that since we see talk radio for the hucksterism that it is, it can’t really be a true threat. And I don’t think that could be more wrong. Talk radio is the nervous wiring of the right wing. The Koch’s and Scaife’s and the Waltons may be the brain sending signals through the wires, but as an organizing tool, it’s incredibly potent.