Whether the issue is health reform, Afghanistan or gays in the military, progressive supporters of President Obama are dismayed by the pace of change -- while critics continue to warn of radical ambitions being cloaked by moderate talk.
Andrés Martinez, director of New America’s Bernard L. Schwartz Fellows Program, will be here at noon ET / 9am PT today to discuss the true nature of our president -- and the implications of policy decisions he's made to date.
* * *
Previous New America/Politico chats have their full transcripts archived:
On November 3, voters in New Jersey and Virginia head to the polls to select their states' next governors--the only two states with major statewide elections this year. Earlier this week Early Ed Watch took a look at early education in the New Jersey governor's race. Today we turn to Virginia.
The latest poll in Virginia's gubernatorial race shows Democratic former state senator Creigh Deeds trailing Republican Attorney General Bob McDonnell by 12 points.
Early education has been trailing in the Virginia election as well. In a race that has been dominated by debate over transportation, taxes, and social issues, education has been relegated to the background. This may be because neither candidate has taken a polarizing stance on education issues. Both Deeds and McDonnell would like to raise teacher salaries—which average $48,655—to the national average of $54,170. Both favor charter schools. And both would like to increase spending on education.
Sarah Palin’s makes perfect sense to me. Though I wouldn’t exactly be surprised if she turned blue, sprouted several additional arms, and decided to become America’s chief advocate of a forceful Hindutva politics, I tend to think she really wants to leave politics behind and perhaps became the evangelical Oprah. One wonders if she’d do well as a radio talk-show host, a difficult and demanding job but one that requires her ease and natural charm.
from the Sacramento Bee, www.sacbee.com/opinion/story/1717487.html
A constitutional convention has been proposed by some California business leaders as a vehicle to fix the Golden State's deeply entrenched political and economic woes. While a convention offers the hope of a new beginning, it also inspires understandable fear that hard won rights may get trampled in the horse-trading. The state's leadership in recent years has hardly inspired confidence. Why should we imagine that it could match the brilliance of James Madison, George Washington and the other Founders, and chart a new course for our state?
The first thing to recognize is that the Founders were not as brilliant as the mythmakers would have us believe. Their initial design of government -- the Articles of Confederation -- was a timid attempt at national governance, more dysfunctional than California's government today. To their credit, once they realized their design had faltered, they were bold enough not merely to tinker around the edges. They had the courage to fix their eyes on a new horizon, completely redesigning their existing governmental structures to create Version 2.0, which became an inspiration to the world.
Here is some brand new analysis from Washington state results that might shed light on the efficacy of the top two primary, which many are promoting as a good thing for CA. It is especially directed at whether the top two would elect more moderates -- or more extremists? This evidence below suggests it's a bit of a crapshoot, the top two primary could as easily elect more extremists as elect more moderates.
In taking a look at official WA state election results at http://vote.wa.gov/Elections/WEI/Results.aspx? for last year's primary, you can see there are basically four categories of results for the 98 house races and 25 senate races.
In the first category, which has by far the vast majority of races, one candidate (usually an incumbent) is either uncontested or is so far in the lead with anywhere from 53 percent to over 70 percent of the vote and a huge enough lead that it's obvious they will win in the general (November) election as well. That includes 24 races uncontested in the primary, and 3 with only token write-in opposition. The practical impact in those races is no different from what we have now in CA, as I outlined recently in my Los Angeles Times oped.
My old friend Bill Cavala has metamorphosed into such a creature of the Legislature –– “a veteran of over 30 years in Sacramento,” his blog taxonomy trumpets –– that the only explanation he can muster for those who believe Californians can bypass the Capitol to call a constitutional convention is that the reformers are “slow.”
It’s an odd charge coming from someone 98 years behind the times.
According to Cavala, the only legal path to a convention leads through the Legislature. Against all the lawyers who have opined that voters can give themselves the authority to put a convention call on the ballot, a power currently reserved to the Legislature, Cavala offers up the uncited authority of Joe Remcho, the famous political lawyer. Remcho, alas, is no longer around to tell us that approach would be struck down by the California Supreme Court as an impermissible “revision” of the constitution.
Not being a lawyer, I won’t join Cavala in making firm predictions about how the court would rule on that question. But as a historian and a long-time watcher of California politics and law, I do feel comfortable pointing out that, when the voters have horned in on the Legislature’s powers, the courts have almost always looked the other way.
Steven Hill’s excellent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times usefully corrects sloppy media descriptions of the “gang” primary measure that Sen. Abel Maldonado extorted out of the Legislature as the price of doing his budget duty. I would go one step further: this measure would end the idea of “party primaries” as we know them.
Last night, I was talking to a friend about national sentiment on the left and the right.
To what extent is left patriotism — the kind of enthusiastic patriotism we saw during the Obama inauguration — fundamentally oppositional, i.e., defined in opposition to a cultural and political mainstream defined as narrow and intolerant? And if left patriotism is oppositional, is it sustainable? One idea in common currency on the left is that left patriotism is aspirational: America can achieve its founding ideals through struggle, and a critical engagement with the persistent failures of our culture and our governing institutions. A related notion is that right patriotism, or nationalism, is of a “right or wrong,” atavistic and chauvinistic character...
Focusing on Zero-to-Five
The centerpiece of Barack Obama’s early education agenda would be a new program of Early Learning Challenge Grants, which would provide states with funding to support quality child care, early education, and other services for pregnant women and children from birth through age five. States could use Early Learning Challenge Grant funds to support voluntary, high-quality preschool programs for three- and four-year olds, but universal pre-k is not the central focus of Obama’s early education strategy. Instead, states would be given flexibility in how they choose to expand quality pre-k and other early education programs.
Yesterday, we asked why there hasn't been more attention focused on early education issues so far in this election cycle, noting that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have released detailed and ambitious early education agendas. Today we'll explore Senator Clinton's early education agenda. Tomorrow we'll look at Senator Obama's early education plan.
Supporting High-Quality Universal Pre-K
The centerpiece of Senator Clinton's early education agenda is her Universal Pre-k Plan, which her campaign rolled out nearly a year ago as her first major education policy proposal and one of her earliest big policy releases. Senator Clinton's plan would provide grants to states to establish high-quality pre-k programs. In order to receive funds states would have to: