The blog.


VIDEO – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: Christmas Message 2014

Your Christmas Desk

From Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 

The Queen’s Christmas Message 2014  - Her Majesty Elizabeth II speaks to the Commonwealth


VIDEO – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Christmas Greeting

Your Christmas Desk

From Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Christmas Greeting – 2014


 CDC tech may have been exposed to Ebola |

One technician conducting research on Ebola may have been exposed to the virus at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials said Wednesday.

The technician was potentially exposed Monday after a sample containing the virus was mistakenly put in a place where it was transferred to another CDC lab for processing, said CDC spokesman Tom Skinner.

The technician currently has no symptoms and will be monitored for 21 days, which is the incubation period for the virus. About a dozen others who entered the high-security lab were also assessed for possible exposure, and officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the workers were not exposed.

via  CDC tech may have been exposed to Ebola |


Demise of the Southern Democrat Is Now Nearly Complete –

Today, nearly all of the Democrats holding federal or statewide office in the South will represent so-called “majority-minority” districts or areas with a large number of new residents from outside the region. In the states of the former Confederacy, Democrats will control Senate seats or governors’ mansions only in Virginia and Florida. Not coincidentally, those are the two Southern states where people born outside the state represent a majority of the population. These Democrats bear little resemblance to the Southern Democrats who won by attracting conservative white voters.

The dramatic decline of the Southern Democrats represents the culmination of a half-century of political realignment along racial and cultural lines. “Some of it is about Obama; most of it is about the longer-term realignment of white voter preferences,” said Guy Molyneux, a Democratic strategist. The shift has contributed to the polarization of national politics by replacing conservative Democrats, who often voted across party lines, with conservative Republicans who do not.

But white support for Republicans in the South might rival, or in some places even exceed, white support for Democrats during the Solid South. In the November election, Ms. Landrieu received only 18 percent of the white vote, according to the exit polls, a figure nearly identical to the 19 percent of the vote that Republicans averaged in the state’s presidential elections from 1880 through 1948. The exit polls showed that Mr. Obama won 14 percent of white voters in Louisiana in 2008.

“It’s a completely different party than it was 20 or 30 years ago,” said Merle Black, a professor of political science at Emory University. “When the Democratic Party and its candidates become more liberal on culture and religion, that’s not a party that’s advocating what these whites value or think.”

The demise of the Southern Democrats now puts the party at a distinct structural disadvantage in Congress, particularly in the House. The young, nonwhite and urban voters who have allowed Democrats to win in presidential elections are inefficiently concentrated in dense urban areas, where they are naturally drawn into overwhelmingly Democratic districts by congressional mapmakers. They are also concentrated in populous states, like California and New York, which get the same number of senators as Alabama or Mississippi.

via Demise of the Southern Democrat Is Now Nearly Complete –


Two counties swear in commissioners |

On Thursday, Forsyth County District 1 Commissioner R.J. “Pete” Amos took the oath of office for a second term, as did District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent. Both men were sworn in at the Forsyth County Administration Building. They were first elected to the group in 2010. Forsyth County Probate Judge Woody Jordan officiated.

In Cherokee County, Board of Commissioners Chairman L.B. “Buzz” Ahrens was sworn in for another term in office. Also, members K. Scott Gordon in District 4, and Steve West in District 1 took the oath of office, replacing retiring commissioners Jason Nelms and Harry Johnston respectively. Johnston was first elected to the commission in 2000 to fill an unexpired term. Nelms was elected in 2010. The ceremony took place Wednesday at the Cherokee County Administration Building.

via Two counties swear in commissioners |


By the Numbers: Half of the Senators Who Voted for Obamacare Will be Gone in 2015 – Bloomberg Politics

Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy’s double-digit ousting of Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu on Saturday was, in the words of the senator-elect, an “exclamation mark” on a 2014 election that saw the Republicans win control of the Senate. With Landrieu’s departure, only half of the Senators who voted to pass the Affordable Care Act will still be in office in 2015, when the new members are sworn in.

via By the Numbers: Half of the Senators Who Voted for Obamacare Will be Gone in 2015 – Bloomberg Politics.


The power of mobile for civic engagement | Campaigns & Elections

The accelerating penetration of mobile devices across demographics is a huge opportunity for civic engagement, as advocates now can use their phones to take social action to support a candidate or policy in just a few taps.

In July, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the findings of a study on mobile worldwide penetration. The study found that as of last December, the United States, along with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, and South Korea had greater than 100 percent wireless penetration. This means these countries have more iPhones, Androids, and tablets than people.

It probably comes as little surprise to most Americans. Last January, Pew Research reported that 90 percent of all Americans have a mobile phone (when you consider tablets and other wireless devices, it’s easy to see how quickly we surpass 100 percent). In another study, the group found that two thirds of these cellphone owners use their mobile phones to go online, with people of color—74 percent for African-Americans and 68 percent for Hispanics—leading the way.

There are several ways advocates and campaigns can take advantage of the increase mobile penetration. A few quick case studies from the past cycle:

During the 2014 legislative season, the Georgia Charter Schools Association provided the means for hundreds of constituents to engage with their officials to support a fast-moving legislative measure in education. The advocates not only took action to support the effort, but they also did it quickly, showing the state Legislature that they were ready to mobilize when needed.

How can this help inform your campaign? Here are a few tips for making your social advocacy campaigns mobile-ready:

Ensure your website and communications are fully accessible on smartphones and tablets. Having beautiful, engaging content isn’t enough if it’s not accessible on mobile.

Use text messaging as part of your engagement strategy to ensure you reach your supporters. Not everyone has email, but almost everyone has a phone with text-message access.

Don’t stop with emailing your supporters. People today use their mobile devices for much more than emailing, so send your communications in every way possible: email, text messaging, and through social media. Triangulation is important. Make sure your civic engagement platform facilitates this.

Allow advocates to engage in as many ways as possible, not just via email. People have preferences and providing them with multiple options for taking action can boost engagement.

Use multiple strategies to push your message to elected officials. They’re not only checking emails and voicemails, but they’re often active on social media. So meet them “where they are” and be sure to keep your message simple and consistent across all channels.

Lastly, keep an eye on the trends. Mobile advocacy is just starting and every day we learn something new about the power of mobile for civic engagement.

via The power of mobile for civic engagement | Campaigns & Elections.


Dems’ final insult: Landrieu crushed – James Hohmann – POLITICO

In the final insult of a devastating 2014 election for Democrats, Sen. Mary Landrieu, the party’s last remaining statewide officeholder from the Deep South, was trounced Saturday in the head-to-head Louisiana Senate runoff election.

Republican Bill Cassidy’s resounding victory is the ninth Senate seat picked up by the GOP in this year’s elections, three more than the party needed to take control of the chamber. With nearly all the ballots counted, Cassidy led Landrieu by 14 points, 57 percent to 43 percent.

It was the final major race of a 2014 election cycle in which Republicans won nearly every battleground Senate election, gained three governorships and at least 246 House seats. Democrats’ efforts to localize many of these contests fell flat, and Republicans succeeded in making the election a referendum on the unpopular president.

The Louisiana governorship is opening up next year, as outgoing Gov. Bobby Jindal plots a presidential campaign. GOP Sen. David Vitter is the frontrunner to succeed him, which could create a vacancy when his seat is up for election again in 2016.

Republicans also held onto two Louisiana House seats in runoffs on Saturday in solidly GOP districts. Ralph Abraham won the seat currently held by GOP Rep. Vance McAllister, who finished fourth in last month’s primary following an adultery scandal. In the race for Cassidy’s House seat, Republican Garret Graves beat former Democratic Gov. Edwin Edwards, the colorful, 87-year-old seeking political redemption after felony convictions for corruption.

via Dems’ final insult: Landrieu crushed – James Hohmann – POLITICO.


Last Of Senate’s Deep South Democrats Defeated « CBS Houston

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy has denied Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana a fourth term, calling his Senate victory “the exclamation point” on midterm elections that put Republicans in charge on Capitol Hill for President Barack Obama’s last two years in office.

With nearly all votes counted, unofficial returns showed Cassidy with a commanding victory in Saturday’s runoff as he ousted the last of the Senate’s Deep South Democrats. In the South, Democrats will be left without a single U.S. senator or governor across nine states stretching from the Carolinas to Texas.

The Louisiana race mirrored contests in other states this election season, with Landrieu, 59, joining Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor in defeat. Democrats ceded seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia after incumbents opted not to run again.

Like victorious Republicans in those races, Cassidy, a 57-year-old Illinois native, made his bid against Landrieu more about Obama than about his own vision for the job.

In a state where 73 percent of white voters on Nov. 4 told pollsters they “strongly disapproved” of the president, that was enough to prevent Landrieu from finding her footing as she tried several lines of attack.

via Last Of Senate’s Deep South Democrats Defeated « CBS Houston.


Telecoms bet on congressional rookies – Tony Romm – POLITICO

AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have donated heavily to incoming members of Congress, cultivating early relationships with the next generation of lawmakers and surpassing the efforts of Internet companies like Google and Facebook, which are just beginning to up their game in Washington.

With the help of their well-stocked political action committees, the three wireless and cable giants last election cycle cast a wide net, according to a POLITICO analysis of campaign finance data. They targeted many of the 65 newcomers to Capitol Hill along with scores of familiar incumbents as the industry prepares for new legislative battles in 2015 over net neutrality and other communications laws.

AT&T chipped in $5,000 to David Perdue, the newly elected Republican senator from Georgia, and $8,000 to Mike Rounds, the incoming GOP senator from South Dakota. Comcast gave $1,000 to Dave Brat, the Virginia Republican who unexpectedly bested former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary earlier this year. The cable giant also shelled out $10,000 in support to Debbie Dingell and $2,000 to Ruben Gallego, a new Democratic congressman from Arizona.

Verizon supported many of the same people. It even backed two candidates in the same race — Ernst and Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley, who duked it out for Iowa’s open Senate seat.

via Telecoms bet on congressional rookies – Tony Romm – POLITICO.