By Paul Krugman (NY Times) It’s important to understand the roots of this stuff. It began as a deliberate appeal to racism, with explicit condemnation of Those People as welfare moochers. Then it became more coded; Rick Perlstein posts the original, famous Lee Atwater interview containing the memorable passage,
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
What Mitt Romney is now complaining about is the horrifying reality that many people who aren’t black see themselves as victims of those “economic things” — and as a result anti-government rhetoric is turning into a way to lose elections rather than win them.
By Ian Millhiser (Think Progress) The actual partisan breakdown of the 113th Congress will be very different, however. Currently, Republicans enjoy a 233-192 advantage over Democrats, with 10 seats remaining undecided. That means that, in a year when Republicans earned less than half the popular vote, they will control a little under 54 percent of the House even if Democrats run the table on the undecided seats.
There is a simple explanation for how this happened: Republicans won several key state legislatures and governors’ mansions in the election cycle before redistricting, and they gerrymandered those states within an inch of their lives.
By Juan Cole (Informed Comment) Progressives will have to push Obama to the left if we are to get what we want. As for positive accomplishments, here are a few we should pressure him and Congress on:
5. He needs to have the Department of Justice look into the Koch Brother-backed legislation in two dozen states restricting the franchise by requiring a paid-for state i.d., which is a kind of poll tax. In many states, this legislation violates the 1965 Voting Rights act. We can’t let a couple of sour billionaires undo the achievements of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., achievements for which he gave his life.
6. That use of the Department of Justice would perhaps make its workers and its head, Eric Holder, too busy to go around kicking down the doors of medical marijuana clinics and confiscating their computers, records and cash, in states where the state has legalized marijuana. Obama was elected the first time by the youth, and had promised to cease Federal harassment of pot clinics, but reneged and proved much worse than Bush on this issue.
Holder should stop denying the clear medical uses and benefits of pot. In Colorado and Washington states, the same people who voted for him have legalized recreational marijuana. Moreover, the RAND Corp. concludes that legalization would defund the Mexican cartels. If the the Democratic Party continues on this Draconian path, it should not be surprised when it begins losing elections because a substantial younger constituency deserts it for the Green Party.
By Beth Healy (Boston Globe) Over the past six decades, Republican administrations have produced median economic growth of 2.6 percent. Democratic administrations, meanwhile, have produced a median growth rate of 4.2 percent.
And for all of Wall Street’s angst about Obama, the market has done quite well during his administration. Since his inauguration, stocks have returned about 12.3 percent annually, in line with market performance under Democratic administrations going back to 1913, according to S&P Capital IQ, a New York Research firm that compiled the data. During Republican administrations, stocks have risen a median 5.1 percent annually.
Of course, Obama is partly benefitting from a good comparison: In the months before his election, the stock market endured one of its greatest slides ever, as the financial crisis exploded. Even now, stock prices are not back to the peak before his election.
One study says stocks do best if an incumbent president has won.
“The market actually does better under Democrats than Republicans, not just the S&P 500, but earnings and the economy,’’ said Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ.