Chris Cilizza on 2011 Redistricting

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/28/AR2009122802124.html

Rant to my (WA) legislators

Gentlemen:
I apologize up front, but I've just been turned down for 2 jobs (one because Seattle has a hiring freeze, another because I'm "overqualified"), and I am really angry.

I have been on Basic Health since September and food stamps since March (I applied in December, but DSHS botched my application).  Now I get a letter from DSHS saying I have to not only reapply but re-interview to keep my $200/mo. food benefit.  This is insulting and demeaning.  It is a waste of both my time and DSHS's (and the state's money).  I am already required to report any change in my income to DSHS.  There is none, because I still have no work.  I am signed up with 2 temp agencies, and have worked a total of about 30 hours all year.  While the legislature refuses to consider any rational solution to the budget crisis like running a deficit or raising progressive taxes most Washingtonians support, I am scrounging for work and commiserating with many peers who are as frustrated and hopeless about finding a job as I am.  I pay $925 a month in rent and maybe another $700-800 a month in living expenses.  Thankfully, since March I've been receiving food benefits which at least let me buy groceries without further depleting my dwindling savings.  I am taking in virtually no income.  My retirement accounts have lost 45% of their value.  I got a federal Earned Income Credit in 2007, and I'm getting another for 2008.  My savings account, at the rate I'm earning and spending money now, will run out in 5-6 months.  And instead of dealing with health problems or looking for a job or contributing to my community, I have to schedule another interview with DSHS so they can do the same thing they just did in March to make sure I'm not defrauding the state out of food benefits??  This is insane.  Why can't I just reapply without having to interview again?  Why doesn't the state require interviews once a year and save all that staff time?  There's no interview at all for Basic Health (which is pretty horrible health insurance, but better than nothing)!  Why do I have to reapply for benefits at all since I can be convicted for not reporting changes in my income?  The state ALREADY HAS the ability to make me pay back any benefits I take undeservedly.

I am new to being poor.  I am 32, grew up upper middle class, and have a college degree.  My passion has always been politics and public policy, and after college I went to Washington, DC to work in it.  I worked for Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) until his death; then I got a job with Patty Murray.  I later left to lobby for a social justice non-profit.  And you know the one issue I worked on in all my DC jobs?  Poverty!  I don't have the Master's degree I sought because 3 years ago, I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea.  I was sleeping 16 hours a day and couldn't really function, let alone keep up with a graduate school workload.  I had to drop out of school, and I came back to Seattle which I love and where I have friends.  After Wellstone's death, I decided I'll always be a political junkie, but I don't want to be so close to the fire anymore.  The traumas of that and 9/11 were enough for me.  I moved here without a job in March 2007, and got one working part time at QFC, because I needed too much sleep to work full time, and I needed health insurance.  I made progress with my sleep apnea (which is genetic and strikes 23% of all men), but the job was demeaning with low pay, and after 11 months I quit and started temping.  It was great to be in office environments again, working 8-5 schedules with white collar professionals I could relate to.  But I had no health insurance.  And in July 2008, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes (also genetic--I'm not even overweight).  I'm quite smart (97th percentile according to MENSA), hardworking, passionate, reliable, savvy, a strong writer and creative thinker, and want merely to find a job where I can make a positive moral contribution to the world and save enough to buy a home.  I've always been underpaid, and working in left wing politics (or preferably transportation and land use now), I know I always will be.  I don't mind that.  But now I can't even get a job because I'm overqualified and the economy sucks, and you guys are slashing what meager benefits there are for people like me--actually no--people like all Washingtonians who through no fault of their own may find themselves in a situation like mine, and I have to make time to take a trip out of my way to visit the sad DSHS office and prove I'm still making little enough to merit $200 a month in food benefits??

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What's Wrong with US Media?

I knew NPR would be the only reliable news outlet airing President Obama's speech (presumably C-SPAN if you have cable). This is a critical, extremely important speech, finally ending a war that has consumed our minds, taxes, lives, and moral standing around the world for over 6 years. I think it lasted about 35 minutes. President Obama is telling us the new course he's setting us on in Iraq. But if you had your TV on in "liberal" Seattle during the speech, you were offered these programming choices by the broadcast channels:

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Hotline TV on 2010 Redistricting

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Hotline TV on 2010 Redistricting

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New Reapportionment Estimates Out

Thirteen House seats could change hands in the 2010 reapportionment.  Check out the latest predictions on which states gain and lose seats: http://www.nationaljournal.com/njonline/ no_20081222_1323.php
and http://www.electiondataservices.com/images/File/NR_Appor08wTables.pdf

"Five states—Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Utah—would each gain a seat and Texas would gain three seats if the U.S. House of Representatives were reapportioned with census population estimates for July 1, 2008, according to Election Data Services’ analysis. Eight states would lose seats—Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania."

Any states gaining or losing seats in 2010 are states we especially need to focus on as part of the Redistricting Project.

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Response to Weekly Radio Address

http://www.change.gov/page/s/economy

We need to phase out the mortgage interest deduction.  It doesn't increase homeownership (Canada's rate is about the same as ours without one), it's regressive, it's the biggest deduction in the tax code, costing more than twice the annual HUD budget, it encourages borrowing (like ill-advised interest-only loans) when we should be encouraging saving, and it skews housing production toward high-end homes (often second homes, vacation homes, investment properties, etc.) when we have a national affordable housing crisis.  Grandfather people who've already used or started using the mortgage interest deduction, then give others the option of choosing either the mortgage interest deduction, OR a one time, universal, fully refundable $5000 tax credit to buy their first home.  They'd still have to have adequate incomes and credit histories, reducing the risk of the kind of mortgage crisis we've just seen.  And such down payment and closing cost grants have been shown to help 1 in 9 renters become homeowners, which would also help prop up the real estate market.

Green jobs--yes.  Any auto bailout must include stricter requirements on auto manufacturers to make more fuel efficient cars.  Why don't they make buses, trains, and bicycles?  Those are the future and should be a condition of getting $25-50B.  They should also have to stop exporting jobs, and if we taxpayers are going to give them tens of billions of dollars, we deserve a fair amount of preferred stock and/or other say in the management of these companies.  Failed management shouldn't be rewarded with massive strings-free bailouts.

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Republicans Want More Conservative GOP

I'm sorry, the Republican Party deviated from its batshit crazy right-wing "roots"? When was this? I didn't get the memo. I thought they were the party of Lincoln--he wasn't remotely conservative. Teddy Roosevelt was outright liberal. Eisenhower's descendants endorsed Obama. The GOP's conservative "roots" are as fictitious as those myths about the 1950s; they never existed in the first place! I guess any Republican infighting is good though...

LOL!  If they do this, we'll just expand and cement our dominance of the nation!  They can become the party of some of the South and West.  I'm sure the reason they lost this year was their being too liberal.  

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McCain Losing Relevance

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/article/2008/11/19/AR2008111904207. html?nav=hcmoduletmv

"He is going nowhere," Schmidt said.

I couldn't have said it better myself!  :D

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Dems & Lieberman: Enabling your abuser

This may may strike a raw nerve for some people, and I really apologize for that, but I have to say it.  In 2004 and 05, I was a lobbyist on domestic violence for a non-profit women's group.  If you're in that community, you know that there are certain traits and histories that are common among victims of domestic violence.  For example, having been abused as a child, and thus not really knowing what was right, or what you deserved, or when or how to stand up for yourself.  Abuse someone for their first 18 years, and they think that's what their life is supposed to be like.  They often have their self-importance and self-concept literally beaten out of them.  People often, idiotically, ask why the woman doesn't leave her batterer.  (The question they should ask is why men commit violence against those they love to begin with)  The answer to that question is complicated and multifaceted, but I think part of it is that the victims A) don't know any better, and B) enable it, knowingly or unknowingly (which is hardly to put them at fault).

Soon after the 2004 election, a piece circulated in the DV community that really seemed to be on the money.  It argued basically that Democrats acted like DV victims.  The Republicans hit them, but they didn't really do anything about it, so Republicans were emboldened to hit them again--with more frequency and intensity (I'm reminded of Al Franken's deconstruction in The Truth With Jokes of the 2004 campaign).  What we tend to think of as being nice or fair or decent sometimes resembled enabling the Republicans to defeat us.  Thus, until we collectively got some therapy and strength/confidence/support/certainty, the GOP would keep beating us.  If you act like a doormat, you will get walked on.

Four years later, things look very different.  I don't think Democrats look much like that anymore.  Except for Lieberman apologists.  On a practical level, even if you don't believe in punishing Lieberman for the MANY ridiculous things he's done, the reality is that as long as he gets away without paying a price for them, he will keep doing it!  Lieberman is like a bully who keeps attacking everyone else in his party, many of his "friends", and every time he sees that he can commit a transgression against us without repercussion, he is only emboldened to commit more and bigger ones!  Appeasement, like Jean Carnahan and Max Cleland voting for the war only to lose their seats anyway, does not work.  So far Holy Joe has merely had to run for reelection as a sort of independent.  He won a fourth term in 2006, he was credited with all of his Senate seniority as a Democrat, and he was allowed to chair a committee even after announcing that he'd just ignore Katrina and "let bygones be bygones"--damn those killed or sick from formaldehyde-laced FEMA trailers.  Lieberman is a bigger asshole every year, but he has yet to pay any price for it at all.  Indeed, any backlash he does face (a credible primary opponent) just feeds his martyr complex and drive for attention.  The media play jujitsu and portray Lieberman as the victim and those horrible left-wing bloggers as bullies (because it's fine for Pat Toomey to challenge Arlen Specter, but not for Ned Lamont to beat Lieberman).

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