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Does Vegas have an over/under on how many people Mayor Cory Booker will personally rescue from Nemo-related consequences?

  • Campaigns and Elections magazine does the annual Reed Awards for excellence in political strategy and communication, and you can check out the winners here. I'd like to give a special shout out to my local Democratic Party, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, for winning "Best Automated Phone Call of 2012" for this robocall on behalf of California's Proposition 30, which went a long way toward helping California balance a budget.
  • It's raining...spiders:
    What's that? You're worried about a little snow falling on your head? How adorable.

    Meanwhile, in Brazil, it's raining spiders.

    Footage posted online yesterday shows thousands of spiders "falling from the sky" in the southern Brazilian town of Santo Antônio da Platina.

    "Still do not know what causes such behavior," writes the video's uploader. "We are researching and will post the answer to the question here."

    I know exactly what causes such behavior. A little something called the end of the world.

  • If you ask the opinion of Fox News, Germany is a sunny paradise, while the whole of the United States is an overcast wasteland not fit for solar development:
    Joshi's jaw-dropping response: "They're a smaller country, and they've got lots of sun. Right? They've got a lot more sun than we do." In case that wasn't clear enough for some viewers, Joshi went on: "The problem is it's a cloudy day and it's raining, you're not gonna have it." Sure, California might get sun now and then, Joshi conceded, "but here on the East Coast, it's just not going to work."
    The actual truth of the matter? Something else entirely: Germany's photovoltaic solar resource level is about that of Alaska, while just about the entire continental United States does a lot better than all of Germany.
  • Fascinating National Journal article on the partnership between longtime Los Angeles Democratic Congressmembers Howard Berman and Henry Waxman, which was recently broken up when Berman lost to fellow Congressman Brad Sherman in 2012, in a battle created by independent redistricting. The whole thing is a worthwhile read, but this is particularly relevant for the need for redistricting reform:
    After the 2000 census, Michael Berman was enlisted, once again, to slice and dice California’s congressional districts on behalf of Democrats. Most of the state’s Democratic House delegation paid him $20,000 apiece to protect their seats—and their jobs. “If my colleagues are smart, they’ll pay their $20,000, and Michael will draw the district they can win in,” Rep. Loretta Sanchez told The Orange County Register in 2001. “Those who have refused to pay? God help them.”

    Michael Berman devised a bipartisan gerrymander that protected incumbents in both parties. It was wildly successful. In the next decade, out of more than 250 congressional contests in the state, only a single seat switched party hands. Perhaps more important for the Bermans, the map staved off the Latino surge from swallowing Howard’s San Fernando Valley district. “It’s just assumed that was the first seat he drew,” says Gray Davis, who as governor signed the law.

    But the 2000 gerrymander engendered much ill will. For starters, all the Latinos who were expected to populate Berman’s district were initially stuffed into the neighboring district of Rep. Brad Sherman, who was none too pleased. Neither was the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which sued. And, as the years passed and no seats changed hands, the public outcry over the backroom deal to protect incumbents grew. In 2008, voters stripped the Legislature of the power to draw maps and gave it to an independent commission. The days of Michael Berman carving up the state were over.

    The passage of that redistricting reform is what set the stage for Democrats in California to gain a number of Congressional seats because ensuring safe Democratic seats also ensured a number of safe Republican seats. Especially as the Republican Party continues to try to rig the Electoral College process, fair redistricting ought to become a top priority for Democrats everywhere.
  • Paul Krugman is tired of talking common sense to austerity hawks:
    But that’s a secondary issue. The key point is this: While it’s true that we will eventually need some combination of revenue increases and spending cuts to rein in the growth of U.S. government debt, now is very much not the time to act. Given the state we’re in, it would be irresponsible and destructive not to kick that can down the road.

    Start with a basic point: Slashing government spending destroys jobs and causes the economy to shrink.

    This really isn’t a debatable proposition at this point. The contractionary effects of fiscal austerity have been demonstrated by study after study and overwhelmingly confirmed by recent experience — for example, by the severe and continuing slump in Ireland, which was for a while touted as a shining example of responsible policy, or by the way the Cameron government’s turn to austerity derailed recovery in Britain.

  • Greg Sargent at The Plum Line (who's right more often than not) on Democratic strategy around the sequester fight that has suddenly taught Republicans the virtue of Keynesian economics:
    Democrats are closing in on a strategy to offer Republicans a plan to avert the sequester with a roughly 50-50 mix of new revenues and spending cuts, to put renewed pressure on Republicans to drop their reflexive opposition to new revenues. Senator Sherrod Brown described some of the details of the plan in an interview with me this afternoon.

    Notably, Brown said that Senator Harry Reid had assured Democrats that there would be no cuts to entitlement benefits in the offer, which could mollify liberals worried that Dems will give away too much in some sort of “grand bargain” to avert the sequester.

    “Reid made a decision to do something the country will support,” Brown told me. “We just have to get Republicans off of their intransigence on this.”

  • How many mayoral debates do we need in Los Angeles anyway? Seems like there's one every other day leading up to our March 5 election. And that's because there pretty much is.

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