A bit of background is required for the first item today. The 2010 census found significant population growth in Texas, enough to earn it four new districts and therefore four new seats in the House of Representatives. Almost all of that growth came from the Hispanic population (on pace to make Texas a majority Hispanic state sometime in the next few decades). Republicans, who control the entire Texas government, created a new district map that essentially created four new white-majority districts that would probably elect Republicans, and didn't bother to get approval for for it from the Department of Justice as required under the Civil Rights Act due to Texas' history of, well … doing racist things just like this.
A federal judge threw out the Texas map and wrote a new one for the state which prompted a lawsuit. The Texas AG/GOP didn't argue that their map wasn't racist and/or discriminatory. Instead, they argued that judges don't have the legal authority to throw out maps and write their own. According to the story I'm about to link to, the current Texas/GOP argument is that "they drew the original maps merely to benefit their party's candidates". In other words, they are saying "we didn't do it because we're racist, we did it to rig elections so they favor us."
So that's the original dispute. The original Texas/GOP map would have resulted in four new majority-white districts that would elect four new Republicans to the House. The state/GOP itself has said that was their one and only goal: rig the districts to favor the GOP. The federal judge's map would have resulted in one new GOP (white) district and three new likely Democratic (Hispanic) districts, with his one and only goal being fair representation based on ethnicity, not politics. (None of that should be surprising. Hispanics overwhelmingly favor Democrats and the population growth in Texas, by ethnicity, should have resulted in three new majority-Hispanic districts.)
This fight is taking place or has taken place already in four courts at three different levels on the federal circuit and Republicans thus far have lost every single time. The first appeals court didn't buy the claim that courts can't redraw maps, but did order the other court that redrew *this* map to give more deference to the state legislature. A new deal between the state and one minority group (with objections from many others) was "swiftly rejected" yesterday with the Texas primary still set for April 3rd. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the issue and nobody seems to know which way it will fall. (AP)
The Obama campaign last night gave a green light to friendly Super PACs to do their thing. Because Democrats are simply presumed to be the good guys (thereby allowing Republicans to do all sorts of bad things with nothing more than a head shrug), the media felt it necessary to pretend that Obama had gone back on his own a second time about public financing. The only problem is he didn't go back on his word the first time, and therefore didn't do it this time either.
John Dickerson, a political director for CBS News, said on Twitter late last night: " In 2008 candidate Obama also went back on his position on political money when he declined to take public financing."
That is not true. It has been a long-running right-wing lie that Obama promised to use public financing in 2008 and then broke his word. That this lie has been accepted and then repeated as a fact by real and actual "journalists" like Dickerson is disheartening. The facts are simple and easy to find. Obama answered a questionnaire in 2008 before he won the Democratic nomination in which he said, verbatim: "If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."
That is not a promise to use public financing, it's a promise to try to craft a mutually acceptable agreement between the two campaigns. A lawyer said on behalf of the Obama campaign the two campaigns had met and "It became clear to me that there wasn’t any basis for future discussion." That's the beginning, middle, and end of it. John Dickerson lied, and when I confronted him about it on Twitter, he didn't retract it, acknowledge it, or even reply to me. Neither did Slate's Dave Weigel, who retweeted the lie. 2012 journalism at it's finest. (@daveweigel, @jdickerson)
"Obama's SuperPAC is called "Priorities USA Action." The acronym is...PUSAA. May need change before John Stewart figures that one out." (@BrianSchoeneman)
Greg Sargent at WaPo argues that with Republicans attacking campaign finance reform for decades and blocking campaign finance reform post-Citizens United, that Obama's SuperPAC change is simply the logical progression of Democrats playing by the rules that Republicans have fought desperately for generations to create. Others have pointed out that there is no logical inconsistency in playing by the rules as they exist today while arguing for changing them. (Washington Post)
From the above story: Obama claims to support a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United, but he refuses to campaign on it. #bullshit
A hot story for media watchers: ABC and Univision may launch a cable news network to challenge CNN, MSNBC, and Fox news. Speculation has it that this would force CNN to partner directly with CBS News. (Media Decoder)
The gerrymandering (election stealing) taking place all across America (mostly in red states thanks to big GOP wins in 2010) are causing havoc. Ben Quayle has been so screwed by his own party's redistricting games in Arizona that he's moving to another Republican's district to instigate a primary fight (with the eventual winner apparently expected to cruise to victory over the Democratic candidate), instead staying home where he would have had to fight to win the seat in the general election. (HuffingtonPoo)
Some chatter amongst the political media: The GOP looks to be split again over the upcoming payroll tax cut fight and GOP leaders believe it'll play out just like last time. Hard liners on the right will fight hard against the extension, allowing Democrats to paint the GOP as pro-tax increase on the middle class, but will eventually cave at the last minute giving Democrats another huge economy-related win in the eyes of the public just as the economy is improving, Obama's job approval is rising, and Mitt Romney is falling behind in national polls. (unsourced)
The right-winger at Susan G Komen who ruined one of the best brands in America quit today. Countdown to her appearance on Fox News tonight claiming to be a victim in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... (Everybody on Twitter)
What you may know: Rosanne Bar is running for President on the Green Party ticket in California. What you might not know: Rosanne Barr is mentally unstable and an asshole. (Politico, New York Magazine, Ken Levine and Ken Levine again)
The street vendor/small business owner/Navy veteran who alerted police to an illegally parked SUV that was smoking in Times Square in 2010 (fizzling bomb) is running for Congress. As a Democrat. (Politico)
Conservatives hate the media because they think the media is based. Liberals hate the media because they believe it's full of lazy stenographers. Politico proves the latter's point by reporting that Rick Santorum told reporters in Colorado that the "science of man-made global warming" is bogus. Other than repeating what Santorum said, the story contains absolutely no original reporting at all, and you can forget about Politico informing its readers of the overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming around the world where the only people who think it's bogus are professional politicians. (Politico)
President Obama's job approval rating just went positive on RCP's average. That's up over 6 points on the approval side since last October. If that trend continues, it could easily pass 50% well before the general election. (@fivethirtyeight, Real Clear Politics)
The district court ruling striking down California's Prop 8 (banning same-sex marriage) was upheld 2-1 by the 9th circuit today, theoretically wiping out same-sex bans in every state the 9th circuit covers (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state). In reality the ruling will be stayed until the Supreme Court weighs in. But both the district court and 9th circuit came to the exact same conclusion: that there exists "no compelling state interest" in treating one class of people differently than another, which is necessary to satisfy the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. That is the exact same finding the Supreme Court made in striking down Texas's criminalization of gay (but not straight) sodomy (Lawrence v. Texas) in 2003. This could portend another 6-3 (or 5-4) ruling to wipe out every state ban on same-sex marriage in the nation, just as Lawrence wiped out all anti-gay sodomy laws. If that's the question the Supreme Court Adopts – is there a compelling state interest? – the war to secure equal rights for gays could be over within two years. [My interpretations are disputed. See other stories for more arguments.] (Everyone, everywhere, all day)
The GOP/religious right/Fox News freakout over birth-control coverage in insurance is falling flat with actual people (as opposed to professional complainers). The number of Catholics that believe employers should be forced to cover health care plans that include contraception (58%) is actually higher than the number of Americans generally (55%). It's a base winner in the primary but a loser for the general election. Expect this to go away later this year. (Daily Kos)
A graph showing Mitt Romney's favorables is absolutely and incontrovertibly bad news for the Republican Party, no matter who is at fault or why. (Daily Kos)
Maybe this is why Obama just gave a nod to friendly SuperPACs: a claim by the campaign is out that just two SuperPACs (Karl Rove's "Crossroads GPS" and the infamous Koch Brothers) have set a target of half a billion in spending to defeat Obama this year. To put that number in context in the age of outrageously Big Money, President Obama set an all-time record for fund raising in 2008 of $800 million. Now just two SuperPACs could raise and spend 62% of that all by themselves outside of the actual campaigns. Together, they want to spend almost 11% of what was spent on the entire 2008 election. Ever wonder where all that money is going? 67% went to advertising (TV/online) in 2008. (HuffingtonPoo, Forbes)
Told you so: right on cue, Karen Handel's persecution complex routine begins... on Fox News. (Politico)
Buyer's remorse is in overdrive in Ohio after John Kasich's anti-union obsession. Voters in that state have said in a poll that if given a second chance to go back and vote again, they'd reelect Democrat Ted Strickland 56-36 over Kasich. Which basically means that Kasich is a dead man walking and Ohio is going to have a new Democratic governor after the next election. (PPP)
South Carolina passed a voter ID law so ugly that the Department of Justice refused to approve it (required by the Civil Rights Act due to much Texas-like shenanigans, like poll taxes and hanging black people from trees.) Now the state is suing the federal government, presumably to ask the right-leaning Supreme Court to further gut the Civil Rights Act since there's nothing else the state can do. (@CharlieSavage)
Captain flip-flop is at it again: "Romney blasts Prop 8 ruling as threat to American values, but in 1994 he called for "full equality" for gays". Romney's willingness to say anything to get elected is probably why his favorables are plummeting. (Washington Post)
Worse, Obama's existing lead over Romney in Iowa is slowly getting bigger. (Daily Kos)
While the Obama administration and Congress mostly run away from holding Wall Street responsible for crashing the economy, in typical elites are immune from the law while commoners get unusually harsh punishment style, banks "far away from Wall Street" are being roasted over an open fire. (HuffingtonPoo)
The Missouri AG is following the lead of New York's Attorney General and going after mortgage fraudsters on Wall Street with criminal investigations and prosecutions. Almost all other state AGs have been desperately trying to reach a very small get out of jail free settlement with the entire industry for full scale immunity for all crimes committed before, during, and even after the recession – even crimes we don't yet know about. Being targeted first: robo-signers.(FDL)