Tags: 7 | States | Deciding | 2012 | ACLU OKs Gay Sites for Kids | Al Gore Climate Change | Clinton Staffer Erskine Bowles

Sabato Sees 7 States Deciding 2012; ACLU OKs Gay Sites for Kids

By    |   Monday, 12 September 2011 12:44 AM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Sabato: 7 States Will Decide '12 Election
2. Al Gore: Climate Change Akin to Terrorist Threat
3. Clinton Staffer Erskine Bowles Joins Facebook Board
4. ACLU: Give Students Access to Gay Websites
5. Older Americans Still Saddled With Mortgage Debt
6. We Heard: Obama Family, Al Gore

1. Sabato: 7 States Will Decide '12 Election

No matter who wins the Republican presidential nomination, the election results in just seven states will likely decide who gains the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House next year, according to respected political pundit Larry Sabato.

Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, says 12 states are locks for President Barack Obama and seven others are likely to go Democratic, so the Democrats have or lead in 19 states for 247 electoral votes.

Meanwhile the Republicans are a lock or lead in 24 states for 206 electoral votes, Sabato observes in an opinion piece in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal.

So seven "super-swing" states with 85 electoral votes will determine who wins the White House — Florida (29 electoral votes), Ohio (18), Virginia (13), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), and New Hampshire (4).

"Prior to Obama's 2008 victories in each of these states, several had generally or firmly leaned Republican since 1980," Sabato writes.

"Virginia, which hadn't voted Democratic since 1964, was the biggest surprise, and its Obama majority was larger than that of Ohio.

"Massive Hispanic participation turned Colorado and Nevada to Mr. Obama, and it helped him in Florida."

The GOP has gained an advantage through redistricting following the 2010 Census, with electoral votes from the blue-state Frostbelt moving to the red-state Sunbelt. That could bring the Republican nominee about a half-dozen net electors, according to Sabato, editor of the Crystal Ball newsletter.

But Obama, who is so far unopposed for re-nomination, has the luxury of focusing on the Electoral College and the seven super-swing states, while the GOP contenders need to concentrate much of their efforts on early-voting states including South Carolina, which is already solidly red.

Nevertheless, given the nation's ongoing economic woes and high unemployment, Sabato concludes: "Unexpectedly strong economic growth could make Mr. Obama's re-election path much easier than it currently looks, as could the nomination of a damaged Republican candidate. But a few more weeks like the past couple, and Mr. Obama's re-election trajectory will resemble Jimmy Carter's."

Editor's Note:

2. Al Gore: Climate Change Akin to Terrorist Threat

With storms and wildfires ravaging parts of America, Al Gore is sounding the alarm bells on global warming again, warning that the planet will experience an increased threat of natural disasters due to manmade climate change.

"We can expect continued increases in the frequency and severity of extreme floods, droughts, wildfires, storms and other weather events," the former vice president told Newsweek magazine.

"Scientists have been warning for years that extreme weather will become even more extreme. So we know that we must prepare for the impacts of the climate crisis that are already taking place now — bigger and more extreme floods, longer droughts, more damaging wildfires, more intense hurricanes — and we have to cut the pollution that is driving the climate crisis in the first place."

Gore said scientists can now "envision" storms more intense and destructive than Hurricane Katrina. He also declared that climate change "absolutely" is a national security issue, and compared the climate crisis to the terrorist threat.

"More than a few top U.S. military leaders have already designated the climate crisis as a national security issue," Gore said.

"It is of course a crucial function of government to protect our nation from a terrorist attack. The climate crisis, however, is also a threat, though it is of a different nature altogether.

"We need to begin the process now of preparing for the disasters that are to come."

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3. Clinton Staffer Erskine Bowles Joins Facebook Board

President Bill Clinton's former chief of staff Erskine Bowles has joined Facebook's board of directors, the social network announced on Wednesday.

The appointment comes as Facebook is ramping up its lobbying efforts in Washington. The company spent more than $350,000 on lobbying last year, and a record $230,000 during the first quarter of 2011, CNET News reported.

Bowles served Clinton as head of the Small Business Administration in 1993, then became Clinton's deputy White House chief of staff the following year. He was promoted to the chief of staff post in late 1996 and served through 1998. Most recently, he was appointed to co-chair President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

"Erskine has held important roles in government, academia, and business, which have given him insight into how to build organizations and navigate complex issues," said Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook.

"Along with his experience founding companies, this will be very valuable as we continue building new things to help make the world more open and connected."

Bowles already serves on the boards of several companies, including Morgan Stanley.

Editor's Note:

4. ACLU: Give Students Access to Gay Websites

An American Civil Liberties chapter has filed a lawsuit against a Missouri school district demanding that it allow K-12 students to access LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender) websites on school computers.

The superintendent of the Camdenton, Mo., district, Tim Hadfield, acknowledges that his school computers use filtering software called URL Blacklist that does block out LGBT sites, among others.

The ACLU of Eastern Missouri sent the district a letter in May warning the school not to use the site blocker's sexuality filter, and filed suit on Aug. 15.

But Hadfield said the district can't comply because allowing access could expose students to pornography.

"We were very wary of making a change based on some of the content that would get through that filter that could be sexually explicit and then violate other laws that would jeopardize the district," Hadfield told CNSNews.

"There's an act called the Children's Internet Protection Act that we also must follow, and by turning one of our filters off, there was a concern that we could have possible violations of that act."

The act, signed into law in 2003, requires that as a condition for receiving federal funding, schools and libraries must use Internet filters to protect children through the 12th grade from harmful online content.

The ACLU maintains in its suit that the school district must either disable the sexuality filter or acquire other filtering software that is "content neutral" and does not discriminate against websites "based on their viewpoint," according to Joshua Block, a staff attorney with the ACLU's LGBT Project.

But the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a conservative religious legal group, is supporting the Missouri district and several others threatened with similar ACLU legal action.

ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman told CNSNews: "School districts not only have a right, but also an obligation, to protect our children from pornography, and they certainly shouldn't cave in to the ACLU's demands that they allow this inappropriate access."

Editor's Note:

5. Older Americans Still Saddled With Mortgage Debt

In the past Americans generally paid off their debts before retiring, but now they are increasingly approaching retirement still hobbled by one or more mortgages.

Nearly 40 percent of households headed by an individual aged 60 through 64 had a primary mortgage in 2010, up from 22 percent in 1994, according to research from Strategic Business Insights' MacroMonitor, cited by The Wall Street Journal.

And 20 percent also had a secondary mortgage to pay off, up from 12 percent in 1994.

The housing crash has hit older Americans hard. Until a few years ago homeowners in their 60s could sell their homes for a profit, pay off their mortgage and buy a smaller residence or rent. But the drop in home values has left many Americans with little equity, and some now owe more than the price they could get by selling their home.

In the four years following the downturn in mid-2006, the median price of a home in the United States plunged 27 percent, Kiplinger reported.

In households with heads aged 62 through 69 that have mortgages, the median amount of mortgage debt reached $71,000 in 2007, five times the 1987 median, adjusted for inflation, according to a study conducted by a researcher at Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Compounding the problem, Americans haven't been saving. The Journal calculated that the typical household nearing retirement with a 401(k) account has less than one-quarter of what would be needed to maintain its standard of living during retirement.

As a result, many Americans are postponing retirement, according to the Journal — and some who have already retired "are going back to work because they can't make the financial numbers add up."

Editor's Note:

6. We Heard . . .

THAT the Martha's Vineyard property where President Obama and his family have vacationed for the past three years might not be available for the first family next year — the owner has put it up for sale.

Blue Heron Farm, a 28.5-acre estate, is one of the largest private compounds on the 87-square-mile Massachusetts island. The owner has rented out the property for $50,000 a week, and is setting the purchase price at $24.5 million.

The compound includes two residences, equestrian facilities, a bocce court, and a gym, and offers access to a private beach on the Atlantic Ocean, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Obama family cut short their vacation there this year due to Hurricane Irene, and returned to Washington a day early on Aug. 26.

THAT despite "An Inconvenient Truth," the Oscar-winning 2006 documentary about Al Gore's efforts to raise concerns about climate change, the truth is that most Americans don't consider the former vice president an authority on global warming.

A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 24 percent of respondents think Gore is an expert on the subject, while 59 percent say he is not an expert — up 12 percentage points since March 2007.

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Editor's Note:

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Insider ReportHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Sabato: 7 States Will Decide '12 Election 2. Al Gore: Climate Change Akin to Terrorist Threat 3. Clinton Staffer Erskine Bowles Joins Facebook Board 4. ACLU: Give Students Access to Gay Websites 5. Older...
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Monday, 12 September 2011 12:44 AM
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