Transitioning

About three months ago I wrote a post noting that because I was beginning to study for the bar exam I simply would not have the time to go forward with much blogging. As it turned out, I really didn't. And for the first time in six years, I wasn't blogging on a full time basis.

Now that the bar exam is over and I'm starting to get back to my normal schedule, I'm looking forward to writing again. It's a real passion of mine, and I have found myself missing it for a long time.

But at this point I am at a bit of a transition point. Before my bar exam-related hiatus, I had written full-time on MyDD for four and a half years, totaling well over 3,000 posts on the site. My time on the site has been amazing, opening up doors and giving me an opportunity to speak to and with an amazing audience -- one of the most engaged, informed and interesting in the progressive blogosphere.

Now that I am getting back to writing, I'm realizing that as much as I love this site, the time has come to transition to something new. To that end, I have put up a new blog (still in need of a more clean design) called Polising.com. There, I will be writing about the same types of things I have written about on this site for years -- polling, elections, political strategy, and a little bit of policy -- but also some on the law and culture. I started this afternoon with a post on how the conservatives' attempt to divert attention towards the Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan speaks wonders about their inability to capitalize on the issue of the economy.

The new site isn't an attempt to replicate or supplant MyDD, because MyDD is inimitable -- it is an institution. I look forward to continue reading the great writing of Charles, Jerome and the diarists on MyDD, and perhaps chiming in myself from time to time.

I am extremely grateful to both Jerome and Chris Bowers for giving me this opportunity in November 2005. At the time I was just a college student writing about elections on my own site reaching just a few hundred people, writing a diary on MyDD from time to time. In the time since, I have been able to be more involved in politics than I ever thought possible.

I am also extremely grateful to the outstanding community here at MyDD. You are all really fantastic.

But at this transition point -- completing law school, taking the bar exam, looking ahead to a career in law to come -- it's time for me to try something new. This is a transition, not a farewell. I hope to speak again with you soon.

Presidential Address Thread

Watch it here live:

Ad Watch: Harry Reid on Jobs

Powerful stuff:

These ads are compelling not only on in their message -- that Harry Reid has delivered thousands of new green jobs to Nevada in the way that only a leader in Congress can -- but also in their delivery. Notice the silence in the ad, the lack of the standard background music of virtually all other political ads. These spots are different, which will help them stand out. The imagery is also striking. In the first ad, in particular, the narrative arc of the man going to work at a new job in the morning fits perfectly with the broader message of helping Nevadans get back to work. Great spots.

GOP's Nonexistent Generic Ballot Lead

When Gallup released polling last week showing the Republicans jumping to their largest ever lead in the organization's generic congressional ballot polling -- a 49 percent to 43 percent advantage -- the talking heads were jumping all over each other in an effort to proclaim the nearing end for the Democratic majorities in Congress. Except, as it turns out, that polling was a mere blip, with the latest data showing a return to virtually the exact same numbers that had been holding strong in previous polling: a virtual tie between the two parties, at 46 percent apiece.

Gallup isn't the only pollster to find the race for Congress in 2010 continuing to sit where it has for a long time. Today marks the release of the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, which shows the Democrats edging out the Republicans by a 47 percent to 44 percent margin -- more or less the same spread that has been seen since March.

But I'm sure this is all great news for the GOP...

The Comeback of Harry Reid

Following the decision by Republican Sue Lowden to make her campaign about bartering chickens for healthcare, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided he, too, should make his campaign about healthcare -- though reform for the 21st century rather than reform for the 19th century. Drawing a clear contrast, Reid went on the air touting his support for the healthcare reform legislation passed this year and signed into law by President Obama.

Lo and behold, the strategy has paid major dividends for Reid, as evidenced by the latest Research 2000 polling on the race (with results from April and January listed):

Harry Reid (D) 42 (41, 42)
Sue Lowden (R): 38 (45, 51)

Not only has Reid taken the lead away from Lowden, he has also jumped into the lead against the other Republican candidates in the race, Sharron Angle and Danny Tarkanian. So as it turns out -- and this isn't too great of a surprise -- it appears the Beltway prognosticators were exceedingly hasty in proclaiming the demise of Harry Reid.

Rand Paul Trying to Back Out of "Meet the Press" Interview

It's never a good sign for a campaign when the candidate is forced to cancel scheduled interviews. But that's exactly what's happening in the Kentucky Senate race, according to "Meet the Press" producer Betsy Fischer:

BetsyMTP Friday drama here @DrRandPaul having a tough week. Now trying to cancel big #MTP interview for Sunday that he committed to on Wednesday. #ky

It's certainly a strategy for a candidate enmeshed in a national political scandal to try to hide away from the press -- but it's not necessarily a good one. It's always possible that some other news will overtake discussion of Rand Paul's controversial racial stance -- but it's also possible that left in the public square, debate over the Paul's position will only continue.

Regardless, considering that if Paul does cancel his appearance he would, according to Sam Stein, join just Louis Farrakhan and Prince Bandar as "Meet the Press" guest canceling last minute, this can't be good news for the GOP's Senate nominee from Kentucky.

Charlie Cook Unfazed By Election Results

Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district was the only district in the nation to flip from John Kerry in 2004 to John McCain in 2008. A quintessentially conservative district, the seat appeared poised to move from red-to-blue after the passing of its longtime Congressman, Jack Murtha.

But something strange happened on Tuesday. Instead of backing the Republican candidate in the race, Tim Burns, voters in the district did what was all-but-unthinkable not all that long ago: backing the Democratic nominee in the special election, Mark Critz -- and not even by a narrow margin, giving him a comfortable 8-point margin of victory.

What did this massive debacle of an election for the GOP, which poured a million dollars into the race (in addition to thousands more coming from conservative activists), do to Charlie Cook's assessment that Republicans are on the brink of regaining control of the House? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Here's the latest from the Cook Political Report, via Marc Ambinder:

Overall, our outlook of a 30 to 40 seat gain for House Republicans remains unchanged.

This is quite remarkable, if you think about it. Not only do the Republicans lose a race they are supposed to easily win (in Cook's words on the eve of the election, "Republicans have no excuse to lose this race") -- but they lose it badly. Yet this result has no impact whatsoever on the view of the Cook Political Report towards the race for the House in 2010? Even Republicans are beginning to second-guess their fortunes.

California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is in charge of candidate recruitment for the NRCC, conceded that the $1 million-plus spent on the Pennsylvania special wasn’t well-spent.

“That’s a couple different things we’re going to have to analyze, because why does the polling show that we were close the whole time and then it not be close on election night?” McCarthy said on ABC’s “Top Line” program. “That’s a mistake on our part; that’s a mistake on our investment that we have to make a correction to.” [emphasis added]

Former Congressman Tom Davis, who spent two terms as the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was even more blunt:

“If you can’t win a seat that is trending Republican in a year like this, then where is the wave?” asked Tom Davis, a former Republican congressman from Virginia, who said Republicans will need to examine what went wrong.

If those at the top ranks of the House GOP's campaign apparatus are beginning to publicly question whether the polling is overstating the strength of the party's position, and a former campaign chief starts wondering "where... the wave" is, might not also one of the leading election prognosticators inside the Beltway do the same? Apparently not.

LATE UPDATE from desmoinesdem: On May 25 Cook published a commentary on the PA-12 special election and its implications for November.

Rand Paul Opposed Anti-Racial Discrimination Measure in 2002

Rand Paul's campaign has made some efforts to walk back the candidate's statements in opposition to a key tenet of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- the provision prohibiting individual racial discrimination, not just state-sanctioned discrimination. But any effort at damage control was dramatically undermined minutes ago with the report from Dave Weigel that Paul had vocally opposed an anti-discrimination measure as recently as 2002.

In a May 30, 2002, letter to the Bowling Green Daily News, Paul's hometown newspaper, he criticized the paper for endorsing the Fair Housing Act, and explained that "a free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination, even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin." (Hat tip: Page One Kentucky.)

"The Daily News ignores," wrote Paul, "as does the Fair Housing Act, the distinction between private and public property. Should it be prohibited for public, taxpayer-financed institutions such as schools to reject someone based on an individual's beliefs or attributes? Most certainly. Should it be prohibited for private entities such as a church, bed and breakfast or retirement neighborhood that doesn't want noisy children? Absolutely not."

In language similar to the language he's used talking about the Civil Rights Act, Paul criticized racism while defending the right of businesses to discriminate.

"A free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination," wrote Paul, "even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin. It is unenlightened and ill-informed to promote discrimination against individuals based on the color of their skin. It is likewise unwise to forget the distinction between public (taxpayer-financed) and private entities."

It's awfully hard to argue, as the Paul campaign has attempted to this afternoon, that the candidate does not support rolling back protections against racial discrimination when, on the same basis as his comments this week, he previously spoke out in favor of "abid[ing] unofficial, private discrimination."

This all reminds me of something I read in Ethan Bronner's outstanding book on the Bork nomination, Battle for Justice. The key turning point in the battle over Robert Bork, Bronner writes, came when white Southerners read of the nominee's backwards writings on the subject of race.

Southerners perceived the nomination as racially divisive and so a threat to their peace and prosperity. No matter what racial resentment many southern whites still harbored, they recoiled at the prospect of reviving the period of intense racial tension.

It's not clear to me that we are already at this point with regards to the Senate candidacy of Ron Paul in the border state of Kentucky -- but it's also not clear that we are all that far away, either. The prospect of relitigating Civil Rights legislation aimed at prohibiting the type of racial discrimination that kept African-Americans out of restaurants and other accommodations cannot sound appealing to Southern voters, even many Southern whites who have in recent years flocked to the GOP. I'm still not sure just how Paul gets out of this pickle.

On Rand Paul and the Civil Rights Act

desmoinesdem has already written a bit about the recently stated views of Kentucky's Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul -- questioning the validity of the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banning discrimination in public accommodations like restaurants. I just had a chance to watch through Paul's interview with Rachel Maddow, which have included below, and wanted to jot down a few thoughts.

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

During the interview with Maddow, as well as an earlier interview with NPR's Robert Siegel, Paul made fairly clear that he did not believe it within the bounds of Congress's powers to address issues of private discrimination. In legal parlance, Paul does not believe that Congress's power under Article I, section 8, clause 3 of the Constitution to "regulate Commerce... among the several States" extends to the private actions of the citizens of these states. Instead of Congress addressing the issue of discrimination under this power, Paul apparently believes that it should be left up to private citizens to weed out discrimination. Here's an illustrative exchange from the NPR interview:

SIEGEL: But it's been one of the major developments in American history in the course of your life. I mean, do you think the '64 Civil Rights Act or the ADA for that matter were just overreaches and that business shouldn't be bothered by people with the basis in law to sue them for redress?

Dr. PAUL: Right. I think a lot of things could be handled locally. For example, I think that we should try to do everything we can to allow for people with disabilities and handicaps. You know, we do it in our office with wheelchair ramps and things like that. I think if you have a two-story office and you hire someone who's handicapped, it might be reasonable to let him have an office on the first floor rather than the government saying you have to have a $100,000 elevator. And I think when you get to the solutions like that, the more local the better, and the more common sense the decisions are, rather than having a federal government make those decisions.

The problem with this view is apparent to just about anyone who lives in a world of reality rather than ideology. It is fine enough to believe that, in theory, individuals' contractual and property rights should not be trampled on by the state, and that, what's more, the market will solve all problems. But the fact is the market did not solve the problem of institutional racism. It took state action, not only in directing state actors but also in directing the practices of private individuals like the ones who owned restaurants. The same can be said about the Americans with Disabilities Act, which like the Civil Rights Act restricted individual action to ensure access for those who otherwise might be denied access. The good acts of individual property owners to accommodate their workers in the ways described by Paul in his NPR interview are important -- but they were not enough. Only when the state stepped in were the rights of the disabled to access restaurants and other accommodations ensured.

This isn't to say that Paul is racist or biased against the disabled. He's not. He holds a principled stance against federal action to regulate private action in these areas. But this stance, when the manifested as the law of the land prior to enactment of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, enabled institutional racism to occur. That's a fact. And that's a problem for Paul because it's hard to imagine many Americans, or Kentuckians specifically, want to go back to a period in which segregated lunch counters, whether on the basis of race or disability, are condoned under the law.

[UPDATE by Jonathan]: Four more questions for Rand Paul considering his apparently limited views of Congress's Commerce Clause powers:

  1. Do you believe the federal minimum wage is constitutional?
  2. Do you believe federal overtime laws are constitutional?
  3. Do you believe the federal government has the power to enact work safety laws and regulations?
  4. Do you believe that federal child labor laws are constitutional?

A "no" answer to any of these questions would presumably be problematic for the Paul campaign considering folks seem to like the minimum wage, laws that stop employers from, say, making their workers use machines that cut off their hands, and laws that prohibit 7 year olds from laboring in coal mines.

UPDATE from desmoinesdem: Paul's campaign issued a statement today on the controversy. He says he supports the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and will not seek to repeal it. "As I have said in previous statements, sections of the Civil Rights Act were debated on Constitutional grounds when the legislation was passed. Those issues have been settled by federal courts in the intervening years."

Harry Reid Leapfrogs Sue Lowden in Nevada

The last several weeks in the Nevada Senate race have seen leading Republican candidate Sue Lowden badly stumble on the issue of healthcare, speaking out in favor of a bartering system in which patients pay their doctors with chickens, and incumbent Democrat Harry Reid speak out forcefully in favor of reform. Lo and behold, Reid is now surging into the lead:

Harry Reid 42% (D)
Sue Lowden 35% (R)
Scott Ashjian 3% (T)
Tim Fasano 5% (IAP)
None of these 8%
Undecided 8%

These numbers do come from a Democratic pollster, and as such should be taken with a grain of salt. What is more, Reid does not lead the other Republican polled in the race, Danny Tarkanian, with both candidates pulling in 37 percent of the vote.

That said, other recent polling on the race has also shown Lowden tanking in the polls, which cannot be bad news for Reid as he seeks reelection this fall. Perhaps making healthcare reform a central piece of this campaign isn't the worst idea after all.

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