People love to seek patterns in the world around them, but I don't see anything about MO that makes it more of a bellweather than OR, WI, MN, CO, FL, OH, PA, NH, or WA. All of those states are typically hotly contested. Twenty years from now, we may be saying TX or AZ are bellweather states too.
thinks that this is part of the reason the Republicans aren't going to have the banner year everyone is predicting. When you ask people, in general terms, who they would rather vote for, the Republicans do very well. But look at the individual Senate races in which there is a defined candidate. The Dems appear to be competitive in KY and NC, and the whole narrative on NV has changed. So while people are probably fed up with the Democratic Congress, when they see the actual Republican candidates, they aren't too jazzed either. Maes is a perfect example of this.
In all fairness to Maes, he did nail one point about this whole thing. Riding your bike is a political act. It shouldn't be, but that's the world we live in. There is a group of people out there who detest bikes (and bike riders) because they represent a change from the automobile-centric society they have always known. They probably also dislike biking pants, but that's an entirely different matter. Maes is speaking to these people (in his own lunatic way). These are the same folks that think Global Warming is a hoax and Obama is a Socialist. They genuinely hate change and genuinely hate being reminded that change can happen.
You know, we all talk about how broken the Senate is, but there is a distant chance that the GOP could re-take the Senate in November. If this happens, I think we'll all be happy to have the 60-vote threshold firmly in place. In many cases, you want the government to move slowly. This frustrates people, but it's a lot better than a brash and passionate government. This obsession with "efficiency" is a pretty modern idea and it has its merits, but I think we all can agree that "efficient" does not always equal "better".
I read recently that when a particularly liberal candidate was elected to the Senate, LBJ would assign them to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Almost invariably, these new Senators had no interest in the topic, but LBJ would put them there because the Committee Chair was Robert Kerr (of Kerr-McGee infamy) and he could effectively stifle any liberal tendencies among the committee members. But then sometime in the 1960s, Robert Kerr suffered a heart attack, retired from the Senate, and was replaced by Sen. Muskie of Maine - probably one of the most liberal Senators at the time. So you had a Committee which was far more liberal than the rest of the Senate being led by a very liberal Committee Chair. The result was that within ten years a string of particularly effective environmental laws passed - The Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act, The American Wildlands Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
My own hunch is that the reason these laws passed and were so popular at the time (the Clean Water Act survived a Presidential Veto) was that they set out with clear goals in mind and were written to achieve those goals. By contrast, a watered-down and decidedly milquetoast version of the Clean Water Act barely passed the Senate in 1965. I think there are good analogies there with the modern Healthcare Reform Law. One of the reasons, I think, HCR became so Byzantine was that there was an unwritten rule that legislators didn't really want it to work. Think how much simpler and more effective it would have been to have single payer or at least public option at the core and then figure out what else needs to happen in order to make that system viable.
The conundrum for climate scientists is that the only data that can be used to actually show climate change is completely inaccessible to the general public. NOAA can calculate that this is the warmest year on record by averaging temperatures over the entire globe, and so any weird weather event ends up as an outlier. The problem with NOAA's measurement is that it feels and is (for all practical purposes) out of the reach of the ordinary citizen. Technically, they can get all of NOAA's tens of thousands of data points, but they have no practical way of looking at the data or determining if it makes sense to them based on their own experiences. They respond much more strongly to the weather when they walk out the door in the morning.
On the other hand, relying on freak weather events to inform us about the reality of climate change is exactly what Fox News and their adherents did so, uh, brilliantly last winter with the snowstorms in New York and DC. It's tempting for us to do the same thing with the weather in Russia or the terrible storms in Pakistan, but we really don't know how or if they are realted to climate change. Besides, someone could just as easily focus on the abnormally cold temperatures in South America and use this as evidence that climate change isn't real.
Yeah, what's his campaign slogan going to be? "I was governor when Minnesota's unemployment rate skyrocketed and its vaunted educational system began to crumble. I also signed into law a sales tax on Hennepin County to build a Twin's Stadium which was opposed by 70% of the voters in that county. Oh yeah, I'm also from Minnesota, the state that's shaped like a K." Sweeet.
I gotta think what you're actually seeing is more positioning for a Veep slot. Right now Pawlenty and Santorum would seem to be the leading candidates. There's no way either of them seriously think they can beat Obama in 2012. Obama's biggest problems come from Romney, Thune, and maybe (just maybe) Gingrich. If I had to put money on it at the moment, I would guess a Romney-Gingrich ticket is in the works and stands the best chance of winning the Repub nomination. My second hunch tells me Thune-Gingrich. Both tickets have their obvious weaknesses, but if unemployment is still > 8 % in 2012, anything can happen. Anything, that is, other than a President Santorum, Palin, or Pawlenty.
I mean, I realize that they've been able to spin everything into "Obama's a Socialist" so far, but this seems like a tall order. It would take a truly inept messaging strategy on the part of Democrats to make this a winning campaign stance for the Republicans.
to raise taxes on the wealthiest individuals. Make companies decide whether they want >50 % of the raise they give to their top people to go to the Feds or if they would rather reinvest in their own business. I think if they're properly motivated, they'll do the right thing.
The best way to accomplish this is to create at least two more tax brackets above our current cutoff of ~$250k. Obama correctly stated a while back that if you make more than $250k you're probably rich. True. But if you make >$1M or >$10M, you're fuckin' rich as hell. Make the marginal rate on these tax brackets >50%. The idea of taxing the richest people isn't to get money into the Treasury (although it may help a bit), it's to encourage better investing practices among these people and corporations. It'd be like a soft cap on executive salary - something that is uniformly believed to be out of balance.
Right now seems to be the right time to have this debate. I have no illusion that it would pass the Senate, but even talking about it would be beneficial.
Oh sure, I see the sun go across the sky every single day and yet I'm supposed to believe from some liberal government agency with a Marxist agenda that it's really the Earth going around the sun?? Ha!! It's all a hoax!! The emails!! The emails!! This is Obama's way of instituting a world government to take away our guns and pollute our bodily fluids.
I tend to agree with what you're saying. Except that I think the argument is that the BP management should be replaced with a panel of government economists and scientists to make sure that the technological folks get the message that this must be stopped at all costs rather than "must be stopped within a reasonable amount of cost to BP".
Something I'd like to see come out of this in the long run is a government department or team specifically tasked with researching safety and containment technologies associated with deep-sea drilling. Make the companies pay into it the way they pay into the SuperFund. It is unfathomable to me that we basically have the same strategy to cap this well that we had in 1979 to cap the Ixtod in the Bay of Campeche. If companies aren't forced to invest in safety, they won't invest in safety. Not sure how many times we need to learn that lesson. You need a team dedicated to finding the best strategies for capping wells, which dispersants are safest and best to use, what the relative risks are with using dispersants, how to contain oil leak from a deep well, etc. The next Deepwater Horizon could be right around the corner. We can't have a repeat of this 30-year-old nonsense we're seeing now.