DNC Day 1: Clearly Obama's Convention

May be my partisan view, watching from home, but the enthusiasm today seemed more palpable than last week, complete with mentions of the candidate by name that seemed both frequent and -- get this -- intentional!  Hmm.  Not only Obama himself but specific policy and programs received direct and often detailed positioning in quite a few remarks. The scene felt more like what I'd expect at a convention than my take on the all-things-generic-Republican (and some Romney guy too) RNC.

Also included: more than one strong commitment from speakers on marriage, not just in the approved platform items but as a rallying point (for turnout?).  Interesting, considering this was only 2004.

Lilly Ledbetter was solid:

Three years ago, the house passed the paycheck Fairness Act to level the playing field for America's women. Senate Republicans blocked it. Mitt Romney won't even say if he supports it. President Obama does. In the end, I didn't get a dime of the money I was shortchanged.

But this fight became bigger than Lilly Ledbetter. Today, it's about my daughter. It's about my granddaughter. It's about women and men. It's about families. It's about equality and justice.

This cause, which bears my name, is bigger than me. It's as big as all of you.

'Obamacare' fully embraced. "Real people, real problems" far better, far more tangibly defined than those spoken at/about in the Made Up Scary President Republican Universe. 

Tim Kaine said some things I tried not to pay attention to.

Noted by a smart guy on Twitter:

Biggest news of the conventions is that both parties are now chasing Dem-leaning demographics--Latinos and women. [...] This ends decades when both chased GOP-leaners (southerners, suburbanites, working class whites).

CSPAN has video of the whole shebang. Stand outs to me were (in content, if not delivery) San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro's stark contrast of the choice this election is about:

We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.

Republicans tell us that if the most prosperous among us do even better, that somehow the rest of us will too. Folks...we've heard that before.

First they called it 'trickle-down.' Then 'supply side.' Now it's 'Romney/Ryan.' Or is it 'Ryan/Romney'?

Either way, their theory has been tested. It failed. Our economy failed. The middle class paid the price. Your family paid the price. Mitt Romney just doesn't get it.

And of course the Twitter busting (nearly double that of Romney's acceptance speech) boat of awesome that was Michelle Obama:

Wednesday's schedule here.

 

How Enrique Peña Nieto Won Mexico’s Presidential Election


(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Mexico has recently elected as president Governor Enrique Peña Nieto. The handsome new president won 38.2% of the vote, 6.6% over Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Peña Nieto’s vote was also 12.8% over Josefina Vázquez Mota, from the right-wing National Action Party (PAN).

Here’s what happened:

Mexico’s North-South Divide

The map above indicates the states which each candidate won during the election. There’s a fairly strong characteristic for Peña Nieto to do worse as one goes south. The southern parts of Mexico are generally poorer, and left-wing candidate López Obrador thus wins most of the southern states. The blue states are those which remained loyal to third-place  Vázquez Mota of the conservative PAN. The PAN is stronger in northern Mexico; for a better look a right-wing PAN coalition, take a look at the 2006 election.

Yet there are some major exceptions to this North-South divide. Some of the poorest states in southern Mexico actually voted for Peña Nieto. These include Chiapas and Yucatán. Chiapas is famous for a 1994 uprising by indigenous Mexicans; Yucatán is famous for its Mayan culture.

In fact, López Obrador got 43.4% in Oaxaca but only 16.9% in Yucatán. Both states are poor and more populated by indigenous Mexicans, albeit culturally very different. Still, one would expect López Obrador to have run up the margins in places such as Yucatán and Chiapas.

Cities and the Countryside

On the macro-scale, Peña Nieto did better in northern Mexico. On the micro-scale, within each state, he generally did better in the countryside.

Mexico’s three largest metropolitan areas are Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey.

Here’s how Peña Nieto did in Monterrey (located in the state Nuevo León).

This map paints a fairly clear picture. Peña Nieto wins the rural areas outside of the main city, whereas Vázquez Mota sweeps the city itself.

Monterrey is located in northern Mexico, and the state-level results reflect that. Vázquez Mota ended up getting 39.8% of the state Nuevo León, compared to Peña Nieto’s 33.2%. López Obrador polled a poor 22.0%.

Let’s take a look at Guadalajara (located in the state Jalisco).

Peña Nieto does better in here, winning large parts of the city. Still, he loses some urbanized areas of Guadalajara.

Here’s a look at the overall state.

Peña Nieto’s rural strength is clearer here. He wins everywhere outside the main city. It’s also apparent that Peña Nieto dominated the state. He ended up taking 40.0% of the vote, to Vázquez Mota’s 32.2% and López Obrador’s 22.6%.

How Mexico City Voted

20% of all the votes in the entire country were cast in Mexico City. Mexico City is divided into a Federal District and a state (named the State of Mexico). The Federal District takes in the downtown area, whereas the State of Mexico composes the northern suburbs.

As it turns out, Peña Nieto was Governor of the State of Mexico from 2005 to 2011. On the other hand, López Obrador was Head of the Government of the Federal District from 2000 to 2005. Obviously, this produced two very strong and opposing home-town effects.

It appears that López Obrador’s home-town effect was stronger. He took a thumping 52.9% in the Federal District, winning every district within.

This is actually somewhat surprising. A lot of Mexicans complained when López Obrador blocked the main avenue of Mexico City for months after losing the 2006 election, alleging fraud. Nevertheless, López Obrador still won the Districts Miguel Hidalgo and Cuauhtémoc, the main sites of his protest, by double-digits. The PRD candidate did do somewhat worse in these areas than in the rest of the Federal District.

Peña Nieto’s performance in his home state wasn’t as impressive. He only took 43.2% of the vote in the State of Mexico and lost the places neighboring the Federal District.

Overall, López Obrador won 41.2% to Peña Nieto’s 36.1%. Vázquez Mota lagged behind with only 17.9% of the vote.

Conclusions

Most pre-election polls placed Peña Nieto with big double-digit leads over his opponents. He generally polled a good deal above 40% of the vote.

Peña Nieto’s actual margin of 6.6% was a lot less impressive than these predictions. He underperformed the polls by quite a bit.

It’s very possible that the pollsters deceived themselves with the conventional wisdom (which was that Peña Nieto was crushing the opposition). On the other hand, perhaps a lot of voters genuinely changed their minds, taking a second look at a person who doesn’t read books. They might have been wary of giving back power to the PRI, which used to be a very corrupt party that stole elections.

If millions of Mexicans did in fact change their minds about Peña Nieto during the final days of the campaign, tens of millions more stayed faithful. Those mainly northern, mainly rural votes propelled him to the presidency.

--inoljt

P.S. Here are two good sources of data about the 2012 Mexican Presidential Election:

The Official Results – Note that Enrique Peña Nieto and Andrés Manuel López Obrador ran under multiple party banneres.

To get Peña Nieto’s total vote, add the votes in three columns: the column under the PRI flag; the column under the VERDE flag; and the column under the PRI and VERDE flags together.

To get López Obrador’s total vote, add together seven columns: the column under the PRD flag; the column under the PT flag; the column under the Movimiento Ciudadano flag; the column under the PRD, PT, and Movimiento Ciudadano flags together; the column under the PRD and PT flags together; the column under the PRD and Movimiento Ciudadano flags together; and finally the column under the PT and Movimiento Ciudadano flags together.

To get Vázquez Mota’s vote, just look at the numbers under the PAN column.

Google Elections – This provides very interactive and detailed results. Unfortunately, the data is not fully updated. For instance, Google Elections shows Peña Nieto winning the state Veracruz with 98.94% reporting. He actually lost the state.

 

 

Don’t Count Out the Labor Movement

 

 

by Walter Brasch

 

Almost every conservative political columnist, pundit, commentator, blogger, and bloviator has written about the decline and forthcoming death of the labor movement.

They happily point to Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker shortly after taking office in January 2011 took advantage of a Republican majority in the House and Senate to ram through legislation that stripped numerous collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. Among collective bargaining rights are those that assure decent working conditions and a fair grievance process to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory discipline.

The Republicans point to Ohio, where Republican Gov. John Kasich, with similar legislative support, signed legislation in March 2011 that restricted collective bargaining rights for public sector employees.

They point to state after state where Republican legislators, with the financial support of private industry have brought forth self-serving bills to oppose collective bargaining.  

The conservative mantra is to pander to the middle-class pocketbook by creating a pseudo-populist appeal. The right-wing claims they are the ones who care about the people enough to cut government spending, which will lower all kinds of taxes. They altruistically scream that inflated payrolls and pensions caused economic problems, and the best way to help those who are struggling in a depressed economy is to lower those costs by curtailing the perceived power of unions. It sounds nice; it’s also rhetoric encased in lies.

Numerous economic studies have shown that the pay for public union employees is about the same as for private sector employees in similar jobs. And in some jobs, public sector workers earn significantly less than non-unionized private sector workers, leading to professionals and technical specialists often switching jobs from government to private industry, usually at higher wages and benefits.

So what, exactly, is the problem? Tax cuts. Bill Clinton left office, having given the nation a strong economy. During the Go-Go years in the first part of the 21st century, under the Bush–Cheney administration, states and the federal government created tax cuts for individuals, and held out generous tax cuts, tax waivers, and subsidies to corporations. The Republican theory was that these tax cuts would eventually “trickle down” to the masses by stimulating the economy.

What happened is that instead of benefitting the masses, these forms of wealthfare and corporate welfare, have done little to stimulate an economy that was heading down because the Republican executive and legislative branches, preaching less government, didn’t want government interference in financial institutions, the most politically conservative business. As a result of deregulation or, in many cases minimal regulation oversight, came the twin catastrophes of the Wall Street scandals and the housing mortgage crisis that spun the nation into the deepest recession since the Depression of the 1930s.

But you don’t hear the Republicans tell you they caused it, only that a run-away economy is because of those fictional high government salaries that need to be cut.

Joseph Slater, professor of law at the University of Toledo, says because of the 2008 crisis, states experienced massive budget shortfalls because growing unemployment decreased tax revenue. The problem in the states and the federal government, Slater told NEA Today, isn’t because of collective bargaining, but “because some of the worst state budget problems are in the small handful of states that prohibit public sector collective bargaining, states like Texas and North Carolina.” However, said Slater in an article for the American Constitution Society, “states with strong public sector collective bargaining laws . . . have smaller than average deficits.”

In response to conservative calls to curtail “pension abuse” in the public sector, Slater pointed out that “the vast majority of states don’t allow unions to bargain over public pension benefits,” and that some of the worst pension problems are in the so-called right-to-work states that have no public employee unions.

In contrast to the all-out assault upon the workers by Republicans, Govs. Dan Malloy of Connecticut and Jerry Brown of California, both Democrats, have been reducing budget deficits, sometimes with a heavy hand as they slash programs and the number of workers, in consultation with the unions and without curtailing union rights. Unionized  workers in both private and public sectors have taken temporary pay cuts or agreed to taking vacation days without pay. Few corporate executives and no state legislators have willingly matched the sacrifices of the workers.

Now, as for those conservatives who are dancing on what they think are the graves of the working class labor movement. There’s a few stories they aren’t happily reporting.  

In Wisconsin, the recall election of Scott Walker did fail, as out-of-state individuals, PACs, and corporations contributed about two-thirds of his $30 million campaign to keeping him in office, as opposed to his opponent raising only about one-eighth of that amount. However, in subsequent elections, all three Democratic senators survived recall votes, and two of six Republican senators were recalled, leading to a change in Senate membership from 19–14 Republican to 17–16 Republican, but effectively blocking a “super majority” from ramrodding further anti-worker legislation into law.

In Ohio, voters overwhelmingly rejected, 62–38 percent, the new Ohio law that stripped collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. In defeat, Gov. Kasich, whose attacks upon collective bargaining were a central part of his campaign, said “It’s clear the people have spoken.”

Monday is Labor Day. It’s more than just picnics and a three-day weekend. It’s a time to honor the working class, and the unions that gave them the rights of collective bargaining. They may be struggling but they are far from dead.

[Walter Brasch is a syndicated social issues columnist and author. His latest book is the critically acclaimed journalistic novel, Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, which has an underlying union theme. He is a proud member of several professional and trade unions, including The Newspaper Guild/Communication Workers of America.]

 

 

It’s Time for the Candidates to Get Specific on the Homeownership Crisis

Now that the presidential tickets are set, it’s time for the candidates to get specific about problems and solutions critical to our economic recovery and future prosperity. Along with job creation, they should start with Home Opportunity—the cluster of housing, homeownership, and fair lending issues that are so central to the American promise of opportunity for all.

America continues to face a Home Opportunity crisis, with 2 million foreclosure filings this year, and millions more families at risk. That’s millions of senior citizens losing their economic security, children and families uprooted, neighborhoods blighted with vacant properties, and a continued drag on our economy.

What’s more, unequal opportunity and the discriminatory targeting of communities of color by unscrupulous brokers and lenders means that minority families continue to be especially hard hit. Major discrimination settlements by the Justice Department against Countrywide, Wells Fargo, and other major lenders reveal that, despite the progress we’ve made as a nation, Americans of color have been especially unlikely to get a fair deal from the banks. That translates to a historic loss of community assets and wealth that hurts us all.

Unlike employment, however, Home Opportunity has received inadequate attention in the general election campaign, despite its undisputed political, as well as economic, importance. For swing states like Florida (with 25,534 new foreclosure filings in July alone) and Nevada (with 26,498 filings), these questions are especially pressing. Amazingly though, neither campaign’s homepage includes housing, homeownership or foreclosures among the featured issues.

Early in his campaign, Mitt Romney famously told the Las Vegas Review Journal, “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.” Months later, he appeared to shift position, saying in Florida: “The idea that somehow this is going to cure itself by itself is probably not real. There’s going to have to be a much more concerted effort to work with the lending institutions and help them take action, which is in their best interest and the best interest of the homeowners.”

Romney also said in a Republican debate that government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—the historic guarantors of the 30-year fixed mortgage for generations of middle class Americans—“were a big part of why we have the housing crisis in the nation that we have.” In neither case, however, have specific solutions followed. Romney has, by contrast, called for eliminating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Dodd-Frank legislation that created it.

As incumbent, President Obama has implemented multiple measures, including the Bureau, the Making Home Affordable program, housing counseling, and joining 49 state attorneys general in a national mortgage settlement with five major banks. (Intriguingly, Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan’s constituent services site refers Wisconsans with homeownership woes to the latter three programs for assistance).

Yet, most analysts agree that Making Home Affordable has fallen short of Administration goals, and that the national mortgage settlement, while helpful, does not reach the majority of homeowners who could benefit from its terms. Many argue, in particular, that the President can do more to extend principal reduction—shrinking the principal owed on mortgages to reflect homes’ fair market value—to mortgages backed by Fannie and Freddie. And while the Administration outlined three options for the future of those enterprises over a year ago, the President’s preferred agenda for them remains unclear.

The Obama Justice Department has been aggressive in settling discrimination suits against major lenders, but Candidate Obama has not discussed the role of discrimination in creating the housing crisis, nor the role of future equal opportunity efforts in solving it.

In short, the candidates, as candidates, have yet to articulate to the American people their respective visions for the future of Home Opportunity. How will each address the lender misconduct and inadequate rules that led to the current crisis? How will each ensure that families with the resources to be successful homeowners are not thwarted by future misconduct, arbitrary restrictions, or a lack of sound information? How will each help rejuvenate neighborhoods devastated by predatory lending and mass foreclosures? And how will each ensure that people of all races, ethnicities, and communities have an equal opportunity to pursue the American Dream?

With the tickets now set, it’s the candidates’ responsibility to get specific on these questions, so critical to the nation’s choice of the next president. As voters, it’s our responsibility to demand that they do.

Read also:

 

 

Romney Goes Birther

Today in a campaign stop in Commerce, Michigan, Mitt Romney decided he would try to bring some levity to his otherwise ill-humoured run for the Presidency. “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised,” said the presumptive Republican nominee to an all-white crowd.

Romney knows better for sure but he'd rather play to the lowest common denominator by suggesting that Barack Obama isn't quite an American if an American at all. The Obama campaign responded quickly and forcefully:

"“Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them. It’s one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio, and Kris Kobach. But Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.”

A candidate can choose to raise the level of discourse or a candidate can choose to debase himself to lowest level of discourse. Mitt Romney has chosen the latter course and to indulge in the crassest of racist banter.

On this note, Ta-Nehisi Coates has a must-read article in The Atlantic this month. Coates writes:

""While Beck and Limbaugh have chosen direct racial assault, others choose simply to deny that a black president actually exists. One in four Americans (and more than half of all Republicans) believe Obama was not born in this country, and thus is an illegitimate president. More than a dozen state legislatures have introduced “birther bills” demanding proof of Obama’s citizenship as a condition for putting him on the 2012 ballot. Eighteen percent of Republicans believe Obama to be a Muslim. The goal of all this is to delegitimize Obama’s presidency. If Obama is not truly American, then America has still never had a black president."

On this note, Rep Steve King of Iowa has called for that on the first day of a Romney Administration that every act, every law and every executive order passed under Obama be undone. I have to ask, how should one respond to the inherent racism in such a bizarre demand and how do we as Americans respond to such insanity as that of Rep King?

Mitt Romney is Out of Step with the American People on Energy Policy

Last year New Mexico was No. 1 in the nation for installing solar power.

It is one of the top states in the country for wind energy.

New Mexicans also benefit from energy efficiency programs. With $8.9 billion in annual energy expenditures each year, energy efficiency programs could save New Mexico residents some serious money – and reduce the amount of toxic power plant emissions they have to breathe as well.

Yet what’s the crux of the energy vision Mitt Romney laid out in New Mexico today?

He wants to get rid of the renewable energy and energy efficiency programs that are employing New Mexicans and saving them money.  His solution?  Pretend it’s 1900.  More drilling, more fossil fuels, more of the same.

In disclosing his so-called energy plan in Hobbs, N.M. today, Romney didn’t even bother to mention that one of our country’s most significant energy savings programs is about to be finalized as early as this week.

The Obama Administration is about to implement new clean car standards that will push average auto mileage to 54.5 per gallon by 2025, saving consumers around $8,000 on gas during the life of a vehicle.

In New Mexico, that also will mean residents will save a total of 135 million gallons of fuel and $575 million when fully implemented – not to mention reducing thousands of tons of tailpipe carbon pollution each year, according to a NRDC analysis released just this week. For a dog’s-eye view of what these standards will mean for America, make sure to check out: http://www.doublethempg.com/  

Few issues illustrate the stark differences between Mitt Romney and President Obama like their views on where to take America on energy.

If your desire is to:

  • move America backward;
  •  keep us shackled to Big Oil;
  • forever be dependent on foreign oil supplies and the wild price swings in the international oil market; and
  • leave the planet in terrible shape for our children.

Then Romney’s your man.

If you want to move America forward, and keep developing the growing clean energy economy that’s benefitting New Mexico and every other state in the country – then remember what President Obama has done so far.

As Bloomberg News reported this week, electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar has increased by 73 percent since President Obama took office. President Obama’s clean energy programs have helped create an estimated 2.7 million clean economy jobs, according to the Brookings Institution. Those are real jobs, providing real paychecks to real Americans, many of whom live and work in New Mexico.

If Congress ignores Mitt Romney and reauthorizes the Production Tax Credit that has already created 75,000 jobs in the wind energy industry (and that many Senate Republicans support), America could get as much as 20 percent of its electricity from wind by 2030.

If Romney and the GOP would stop trying to denigrate and decimate America’s solar industry, we could get as much as 25% of our energy from rooftop solar panels alone in 40 states (51% in Nevada and 52% in California). Instead of focusing on the failures of a few companies, they should be noting the enormous growth in solar overall.  Ideology has blinded them, and they can’t see the forest for the trees.

Mitt Romney is simply out of step with the American people on energy policy, as with so much else.   In survey after survey, Americans overwhelmingly say they want Congress and the White House to do more to increase clean energy sources in this country, and wean us off of fossil fuels. Those opinions do not differ in New Mexico, which is why we support environmental champion Martin Heinrich in his bid for U.S. Senate. Increasing clean energy sources is good for our economy, good for our health and strengthens our national security.

Either Mitt Romney doesn’t get this message from the American people or our voices are being drowned out by the millions of dollars in campaign contributions from dirty polluters.

It’s your choice. Which America do you want?

Mitt Romney Energy Plan Fact Sheet

 

 

What It Feels Like to Disenfranchise Voters if You're Republican POS

That heinous individual is James Bopp. And who is James Bopp? Well, he is an Indiana lawyer and a Romney delegate to the GOP convention. He is also the attorney who represented Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 case that upended federal election rules and gave a dollar the right of free speech.

Disenfranchising voters merits a double-fisted pump. Reprehensible. Outrageous. Heinous.

Let me be the first to call on the Democratic Party that the time for DC Statehood is long past.

Missouri's Rep. Akin on "Legitimate Rape"

Trying to peg who the most extreme and outlandish GOP Senate candidate is in this cycle is indeed a fool's errand. One simply has too many choices be it Ted Cruz down in Texas or Linda McMahon over in Connecticut but Missouri GOP Congressman Todd Akin surely has to be on our shortlist of radical out-of touch if not out-of-their-minds extremists.

Take his comments made on Sunday on a local Missouri talk show. Akin told KTVI-TV: "First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that is really rare.

"If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down."

Akin then went on to say that if that "didn't work", then the punishment should be "on the rapist and not attacking the child."

It is incomprehensible that such a man with such views serves in the House of Representatives but it is truly frightening to think that he may unseat Senator Claire McCaskill come November.

 

 

The Best Ticket Dirty Money Can Buy

This morning, we awoke to news that Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be Mitt Romney’s running mate. 

I am sure the Koch brothers are smiling this morning because they have been cultivating Congressman Ryan since he set foot on Capitol Hill, giving him one of his first donations in 1999.

Koch Industries, owners of one of the largest petrochemical companies in the world, has been the 6th largest contributors to Cong. Ryan during his career, giving him $65,500.  In fact, the oil and gas industry has given him $244,250 since 1999.  Now sure, the Koch Brothers are behind Philip Morris, and the NRA, but they played the long game with this career-politician pick and Ryan as VP will solidify their support.

The fossil fuel industry was already sitting pretty even before the Ryan selection.  The Romney campaign has already benefited from the overwhelming spending of outside groups, like Restore our Future, a well known Koch-funded entity, that has already spent $14,011,137  in a brazen effort to buy the White House.

What has this money bought for the polluters?

Romney went from standing in front of a coal plant talking about how they kill people in 2003 to standing with one of the most radical members of the Senate, James Inhofe (R-OK) to stop EPA’s efforts to reduce mercury from power plants.  As my colleague at NRDC, John Walke, says, “It’s appalling that anyone would vote to expose our children to more mercury, a dangerous brain poison, and over 80 other toxic air pollutants that power plants in the U.S. spew every day.”  John goes onto note that these standard are projected to prevent 11,000 premature deaths; nearly 5,000 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks, 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits; and 540,000 days when people miss work and school. 

For his part, Cong. Ryan, with his abysmal 16% League of Conservation Voters score, has voted to delay long-overdue air pollution control standards for industrial boilers and incinerators that also emit mercury.  He voted against efforts to protect communities from coal ash - the toxic byproduct of burning coal that contains arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals - metals that when some are ingested have devastating results like lower IQ

As someone who spent much of her youth in towns in Appalachia surrounding these coal facilities, I can tell you that the devastation is enormous and the fact that Ryan took the side of the polluters instead of children with learning disabilities caused in some part by that pollution is astonishing.  Add on top of all of this, the cuts that Ryan’s budget proposed - cuts that would’ve devastated community water systems and kept enforcement cops off the street who keep companies from breaking laws that protect our communities.  Heck, his budget would’ve even eliminated programs for sidewalks, not to mention public transportation infrastructure

Yes, Koch Industries is sitting pretty today.  Let’s hope that the voters see in November see that a Romney/Ryan ticket isn’t about protecting their families or helping us get on the right track - it is the best ticket dirty money can buy.  Look no further than the record to see for yourself. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will the True Extremist Please Stand Up?

It can’t be easy being a climate denier this summer. Record-breaking heat waves, freak storms, enormous fires, and the worst drought in 50 years are making it harder to ignore the reality of climate change.

Many meteorologists, network news shows, and public health officials are speaking candidly about the connection between extreme weather and climate change. These conversations confirm what so many of us can see with our own eyes: We just have to look outside or turn on the Weather Channel to see what global warming is doing to our communities.

And yet some candidates persist in denying the facts in front of them, even while their own states bear the brunt of climate change. Sticking your head in the sand is never a good position for a leader to assume, but it becomes downright irresponsible when people all around you are struggling.

Take New Mexico, for example. In the senate race, Former Representative Heather Wilson paints her opponent, Representative Martin Heinrich, as an environmental extremist because he wants to address climate change. Wilson, meanwhile, has rejected the idea that human activity is causing global warming.

Wilson likes to position herself as a moderate, but ignoring one of the biggest threats to your state’s economy and well-being is not a sign of moderation; it is a sign of recklessness—especially when your state is as vulnerable to climate change as New Mexico.

In May, Governor Susana Martinez declared the entire state was in a drought. “Fire danger is high, water reservoirs run low and in some cases, we’ve seen towns like Las Vegas take dramatic steps to reduce basic water consumption in their residents’ homes and businesses,” the governor said.

Last year was no better. A dry winter and a dry monsoon season left much of the state parched. New Mexican ranchers ended 2011 with the smallest cattle inventory in more than 25 years. This spring saw more cattlemen having to thin their herds as the drought continued. Ed Polasko, a hydrologist from the National Weather Service focusing on New Mexico, says that even if the monsoons bring moisture, the state has been so dry and so deep in a rain deficit that it will take a long time to recover.

The Southwest has always experienced drought cycles, but climate change can make them more frequent and more severe. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released a report confirming that last year’s record-breaking drought in Texas was made “roughly 20 times more likely” as a result of climate change.

Hot weather and persistent drought have left New Mexico with tinderbox conditions. Last year’s Las Conchas fire scorched more than 156,000 acres, consumed dozens of homes, trashed the watershed of the Santa Clara Pueblo, and nearly consumed the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It was the biggest fire in state history—until it wasn’t. This year’s Gila fire is even bigger, devouring more than 265 square miles of forest and prompting smoke advisories to be issued from Albuquerque to Carrizozo to Roswell.

Many factors contribute to wildfires, but experts have been warning for years that climate change is making matters worse. “The effects of climate change will continue to result in greater probability of longer and bigger fires seasons, in more regions of the nations,” concluded the 2009 Quadrennial Fire Review issued by the U.S Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other agencies. 

The soaring temperatures, prolonged droughts, and intense wildfires now threatening New Mexico are hallmarks of climate change. Heinrich has responded by reviewing the science, accepting the facts on the ground, and proposing solutions to stabilize the climate.

Wilson has chosen to keep her eyes closed. Maybe she is afraid the Tea Party crowd will abandon her if she acknowledges climate change. Maybe she is under the influence of the polluting energy companies who release carbon emissions and support her campaign. Or maybe she simply doesn’t have a grasp on the evidence.

Whatever the reason, Wilson has proven to be the true radical here. Only an extremist could discount the overwhelming scientific consensus and believe that denial is the appropriate response to persistent drought, hot temperatures, and raging fires.   

 

 

 

 

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