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What ‘O’ is and isn’t good for

The problem with “O,” a new piece of political speculative fiction that comes out next Tuesday, is that the novel is much less interesting than reality. The redeeming thing (at least for many bloggers) is that the novel, the existence of which is part of said interesting political reality, was written by an anonymous author — and that’s interesting.

“O” begins a few months from now and follows the 2012 presidential campaign in which a black Democratic (smoker) president, referred to as O (clever, clever), runs against a Republican who is determined to run a fair and respectable campaign.

Nothing like the circus that will probably actually ensue.
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Question of the day: Can a clown elected to Congress read?

Tiririca the Clown, the newest Brazilian congressman. Photo: AP

Those unhappy with the outcome of the midterm elections here in the U.S. might do well to take a moment to contemplate Brazil, where not only was an actual clown elected to Congress, but that same clown is being quizzed to determine if he can read and write.

Tiririca, or “Grumpy,” the Clown catapulted into the office of federal deputy for Sao Paolo with 1.35 million votes, more than any of the other 6,000 candidates from 27 parties running in Brazil’s congressional elections last month. A minor television celebrity in Brazil who got his start as a circus clown, Tiririca (actually Francisco Oliveira Silva), campaigned on slogans like: “What does a federal deputy do? Truly, I don’t know. But vote for me and I will find out for you.”
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Climate victory? Not so much.

In the immediate wake of Tuesday’s elections, I read plenty of coverage (including a Need To Know article) declaring the defeat of California’s Proposition 23 to be a “decisive victory” for climate hawks and “giving heart” to clean energy advocates around the country. What most of those posts neglected to mention is that the state’s Proposition 26 — an initiative that could potentially derail significant implementation of the Global Warming Act — passed.

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What’s Obama done so far? New site tells you … colorfully

When Jon Stewart characterized the Obama administration’s agenda as “timid” in his interview with the president last week, the phrase seemed to capture a growing sense of disappointment among those voters who, just two years ago, had infused the Obama campaign with a seemingly limitless store of energy and enthusiasm.

Now, Obama voters seem not only unenthused, but downright detached. Most of those young people who, in 2008, organized phone banks on college campuses and rode buses to battleground states to knock on doors seem to have little to say about the Obama presidency so far. Many seem uninspired by, or even uninterested in, the details of his legislative plans.

Or, as Shavanna Miller, a recent college graduate who works in social media in Washington, D.C. put it, “I kept hearing, ‘WTF has Obama done so far?’”

She added: “It just seemed time to investigate a bit.”

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Up by only five votes

Here is another case that proves every vote counts. If you watched Need to Know’s special election show, you saw our piece on redistricting. The race we followed was District 28 in Ohio. It pitted the one-term incumbent, Democrat Connie Pillich, against Tea Party Republican Mike Wilson. And the winner is… we don’t know. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Pillich was winning by just five votes. So we won’t know the outcome until November 23rd when the 1546 provisional ballots will finally be counted. If it is still too close, there may be a recount. Stay tuned.

Climate law gets thumbs up in California

In a report last week, we explored the battle in California over the state’s landmark greenhouse gas law. The outcome? Yesterday, voters defeated Proposition 23 with more than 60 percent of the vote, delivering a decisive victory for those who feel the law will benefit the state’s clean energy economy, clean air and climate policy.

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GOP wins big, but statehouse victories may be bigger

Republicans routed Democrats from key battlegrounds on Tuesday, expanding their influence in the Senate and capturing control of the House of Representatives. But their success at the state level, including victories in hotly contested gubernatorial races, may be even more meaningful, allowing Republicans to reshape congressional and state legislative districts across the country and consolidate their gains for at least a decade.

As Need to Know reported last week, donors and outside interest groups have poured millions into state-level battles across the country, hoping to win control of enough legislative chambers to influence the decennial reapportionment process, in which states redraw the lines of congressional and state legislative districts to reflect the results of the most recent census.

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On the campaign trail: The enemy hearts China!

There has been a remarkable trend in the midterm elections this year – a common theme, across both Democratic and Republican campaign ads, of fear of China. At least 29 candidates, according to The New York Times, have released advertising spots that play on the notion that their rivals have been all too eager to trade and outsource jobs to China, at the cost of American employment.

And then, there’s this video, which has probably received the most buzz since it was released last week.

“Chinese Professor”

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Tuesday by the numbers

If you live in a competitive house district, or in a state with a competitive Senate race you’re probably being bombarded with political advertisements in advance of next week’s midterm elections. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, this election could cost nearly $4 billion, crushing the record for spending in a midterm election.
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