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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ok, this is just too cute

by digby

Vote for these kids' grandma or else.

It'll be over soon

by digby

A citizen in a swing state:

Oh God, I so know how she feels.

h/t to Americablog


by tristero

A friend involved with Econ4 sent me the following email:
Econ4 -- the group of fact-based and ethical economists I helped found -- is running a series on critical issues facing the nation... 
here's the introduction to the series, called "The Bottom Line"
and here's where you can find the jobs video and jobs statement

Well worth watching.

How accurate will those polls be?

by David Atkins

With the state-by-state polls showing narrow but substantial leads for Obama, conservatives in the media have taken to attacking poll averages as unreliable. But how unreliable might they be? John Sides at The Monkey Cage has the details:

How trustworthy are this year’s presidential polls? On Monday, November 5, will they be able to tell us who is likely to win the election? We’ll know soon enough, but in the meantime the historical record provides some important context. This record suggests three things:

1) The polls have been fairly accurate. (Adverbs are always a bit subjective, so see what you think after you read the post.)

2) To the extent that they miss, they do so by over-estimating the frontunner’s vote.

3) The reason they miss is not because of late movement among the undecideds but because of “no-show” voters who tells pollsters that they will vote but then don’t.
They don't miss much:

In very close elections, the polls are still quite close to the actual outcome—missing by 1-2 points at most. They slightly underestimated Gore’s share of the vote, for example. Of course, in a close election, 1-2 points is consequential. But it’s not reasonable to expect polls to call very close elections right on the nose...
The attack on polling itself is just another Republican attack on science that conflicts with their preferred worldview. They've filled their supporters' heads with the line that all the pollsters but Rasmussen are in the bag for Obama, and that Democrats are engaged in invisible, massive voter fraud. So rather than shatter their illusions, a rejected Obama lead in the polls will become a rejected Obama margin on election day, with a different conspiracy theory narrative neatly aligned to fit the event.

Do you know John Husted? You should.

by digby

I'm sure everyone remembers Katherine Harris, Florida Secretary of State during the 2000 election, who acted pretty much as the GOP's puppet in ruling on election issues.

Meet Ohio's Katherine Harris:

On August 31st, one day after the Republican National Convention ended in Tampa, a federal judge in Ohio issued a ruling that stymied an effort by Republican officials there to limit early voting dates for hundreds of thousands of registered voters. Citing the United States Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore ruling, the 5-4 decision which ended the 2000 Florida recount, U.S. District Judge Peter Economus wrote that Ohio lawmakers and bureaucrats couldn't, by "arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person's vote over that of another."

Upon receiving word of the federal court order, the man responsible for implementing Ohio's election laws at first decided not to enforce it. Secretary of State Jon Husted, the Republican who had fought for years against voting rights advocates in and out of the courts as a lawmaker and, later, member of the executive branch, initially disregarded Judge Economus' order. Not just that. He defied it. He specifically ordered his county election boards not to restore the early voting hours the judge had endorsed.

It was only when the judge ordered Husted to court to personally explain his disobedience, a sure sign of judicial anger, that Husted relented. Relented -- but did not give up. Husted appealed Judge Economus' ruling to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in Ohio. No dice. On October 5th, the 6th Circuit affirmed Judge Economus' order. Husted then appealed again, to the United States Supreme Court, arguing that the federal courts shouldn't mess with state election laws. Again, no dice. The justices refused to hear the appeal.

Over the past year, in one election-related fight after another, Husted has proven to be a relentless partisan, the national face of voter suppression. Now, with one week to go before a close election, an election which many political observers believe could come down to Ohio, Husted is about to become something else: an unabashed local partisan who could very well decide who wins by deciding which rules apply. Is America ready for this? Ready for this man to be the one supervising the vote counting in the only state left that seems to matter?

This is a guy who has in the words of the reporter, "flirted" with True the Vote, the Texas tea party outfit that is deploying to swing states to intimidate voters at the polls. But that's not the only or perhaps the biggest problem, in my opinion. Just as with Katherine Harris, who purged the voter rolls and did other dirty GOP work prior to the 2000 election, the real power of that office will be clear if the vote is contested. And it could be.

I won't bore you all now with the details of that fateful election and what they did, but we'll undoubtedly talk about it if this comes to pass. In the meantime, keep your eyes on all these political hacks who are running the electoral systems in the big swing states. Even if they have integrity, they will be under tremendous pressure from the Republicans to put their thumbs on the scale in the GOP's interest. The party pooh-bahs have shown they have zero compunction about doing this and they seem nearly hysterical at this point. And anyway, they know from past experience that the only thing that will happen if they thuggishly demand the victory will be for the political establishment to smugly tell the losers to "get over it." They have nothing to lose by trying.

Today's feudalism update courtesy @AddieStan

by digby

This stuff is really, really creepy:

If you live in the Midwest and you’re working on a home-improvement project, you’re as likely to do your shopping at a Menards store as at a Lowe’s or Home Depot. With 270 stores and 40,000 employees , Menards is the third-largest home-improvement chain in the U.S., and one of the largest privately held corporations in the country. But Menards stores sell more than just lumber and building supplies; their employees are sold a bill of goods in the form of right-wing ideology.

This January, as the Iowa Caucuses were underway, Menards began encouraging employees to take an at-home online “civics” course that characterizes the economic policies of President Barack Obama as a threat to the success of businesses such as Menards, and by extension, to the employees’ own well-being.

The course, titled “Civics 101: The National Self Governing Will In-Home Training,” incorporates much of the material comprising the Prosperity 101 program that AlterNet, working in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, exposed last year — a program concocted by Koch-linked political operatives Mark Block and Linda Hansen, late of the now-defunct Herman Cain presidential campaign. In March, Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the FBI is investigating possible financial improprieties involving two non-profit organizations founded by Block that are linked to Prosperity 101, which is a for-profit venture.

Menards employees who sign up for the course are graded on their knowledge via a multiple choice pass-fail test, and those who pass the test are acknowledged in company publications and bulletins. While workers are not required to take the course, those who hope for promotions may feel pressure to do so, since it is clear that management is paying attention to who is or isn’t taking the at-home classes, which are conducted on the employees’ own time. The civics course is offered as part of a battery of courses, most of which pertain to products sold by the company, or other aspects of working at Menards.

AlterNet has obtained the online textbook for the Menards civics course. The third part of the textbook, subtitled ”FBI Investigation The course, titled “Civics 101: The National Self Governing Will In-Home Training,” incorporates much of the material comprising the Prosperity 101 program that AlterNet, working in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, exposed last year — a program concocted by Koch-linked political operatives Mark Block and Linda Hansen, late of the now-defunct Herman Cain presidential campaign. In March, Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the FBI is investigating possible financial improprieties involving two non-profit organizations founded by Block that are linked to Prosperity 101, which is a for-profit venture. Menards employees who sign up for the course are graded on their knowledge via a multiple choice pass-fail test, and those who pass the test are acknowledged in company publications and bulletins. While workers are not required to take the course, those who hope for promotions may feel pressure to do so, since it is clear that management is paying attention to who is or isn’t taking the at-home classes, which are conducted on the employees’ own time. The civics course is offered as part of a battery of courses, most of which pertain to products sold by the company, or other aspects of working at Menards. AlterNet has obtained the online textbook for the Menards civics course. The third part of the textbook, subtitled ” American Job Security,” imparts a message similar to the letter sent by Koch Industries CEO Dave Robertson to retirees and employees of the company’s Georgia Pacific subsidiary, as well as the e-mail sent to employees of Rite-Hite, a Milwaukee equipment manufacturer, by company owner Mark White, urging them to vote for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. While the Menards course doesn’t offer an explicit candidate endorsement, it describes Obama policies in threatening terms, while policies that echo Romney’s proposals are portrayed in a positive and uplifting light.

There's more, much more at the link.

I think what astonished me the most is the utter stupidity and/or selfishness of the CEOs. Evidently, they are either blindly concerned with their own tax rates or they are watching Fox News and would rather believe Gretchen Carlson than their lying eyes. The stock market has done very well under President Obama. It's a buyer's market for workers. Nobody in the private sector has been held liable for the chaos that ensued from their reckless gambling. All indicators show that the economy is more beneficial to people like themselves than any time since the gilded age. And it's just not good enough for them.

One can only hope that the employees of these companies will show more sense than their bosses and vote in the interest of themselves, their employer and their country.


Teach your children well

by digby

It's not like 50,000 volts ever hurt anyone:

"According to the complaint, [New Mexico police officer Chris] Webb shot his Taser at the child after he said he did not want to join fellow classmates in cleaning the officer's patrol car. Courthouse News reported: Defendant Webb responded by pointing his Taser at R.D. and saying, 'Let me show you what happens to people who do not listen to the police.' ... [H]e sent 50,000 volts of electricity into the child's chest on the playground. The young boy blacked out and has, according to his legal representative, been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder ever since."

That police officer was only telling the truth. This is what happens to people who don't "listen to the police." Even if they are having epileptic fits, are mentally ill, drunk, on drugs or are otherwise unable to comply.

Also too, if they are asserting their rights under the constitution.

If we train our kids to understand that they must automatically drop their eyes, shut their mouths and comply instantly with anything the government authorities demand, we will have a much more docile and cooperative population. And what better way to train them than an electric prod? It's certain that this little fellow won't soon forget his lesson.

Proving what's in his heart: nothing

by digby

As I wrote yesterday, I have some sympathy for any presidential challenger in a situation like this. An epic natural disaster automatically makes them look irrelevant and small and there's not a lot they can do about it. But this is about as embarrassing a response as I can imagine:

As the East Coast and parts of Ohio struggled to regroup in the devastating wake of “Superstorm” Sandy, the Romney campaign hastily transformed a scheduled victory rally in Dayton, Ohio into a non-political “storm relief event” on Tuesday. According to BuzzFeed, the campaign encouraged supporters to bring hurricane relief supplies and “deliver the bags of canned goods, packages of diapers, and cases of water bottles to the candidate, who would be perched behind a table along with a slew of volunteers and his Ohio right-hand man, Senator Rob Portman.”

Just to be safe, campaign aides reportedly spent $5,000 at a local Wal-Mart on supplies that could be put on display. When supporters arrived at the rally-turned-relief event, they were treated to the 10-minute video about Romney’s life, which was first unveiled at the RNC. The event ended with supporters lined up to hand over supplies and meet Romney. But according to BuzzFeed, this donation process was also staged:

Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, “What if we dropped off our donations up front?”

The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. “Just grab something,” he said.

Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their “donations” to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest “Thank you.”

Despite the fact that the Red Cross can't really use these supplies, according to the Romney campaign they have relented and will put them in a warehouse in New Jersey somewhere.

Who knows if very many voters will see this sad display on the new? But anyone who does have to think it's pathetic.

What could Romney have done? It's unclear. Going to the states where the storm hit would have interfered with the relief and clean-up efforts. And he's running out of time so he can't just sit it out. But you'd think that with all their money and all their alleged talent they could have come up with something better than this.

People always say that campaigns are a window into how a president will govern and I've always thought that was overblown hype. A campaign is not a country. But I do think this is one of those situations where the lack of empathy for fellow human beings shows. They have no reserve of good will built up in this area because they really don't give a damn and have spent the entire campaign talking about lazy, good-for-nothings who refuse to take care of themselves. When all hell breaks loose and people are suffering, nobody believes them when they pretend they care.

And when they put on a half baked show like the did yesterday, they prove it.


You Halloween treat: profile of a sociopath

by David Atkins

The word "sociopath" gets thrown around quite a bit and all too loosely. It's commonplace to accuse a person of being a sociopath because of dickish behavior, when the person in question was guilty more of run-of-the-mill selfishness than of the character trait of sociopathy. It's also very important not to assume that an enemy or disliked individual is a "sociopath" because, once labeled falsely it's an almost impossible for a person to disprove the accusation.

Still, there are some people who fit the profile of a sociopath so perfectly that it's safe to assume the label is accurate. Most of us won't have significant relations and encounters with more than a few of these people in our lives, and it's possible that a certain degree of sociopathy can lead to some needed iconoclastic leadership when societal structures are too strict.

But for the most part, people should avoid involvement and contact with sociopathic personalities at all costs. Involvement almost never leads to anything but pain. I can say that from personal experience, having lived for many, many years with a clinical sociopath of the cultic variety who perfectly meets every criterion for diagnosing a sociopath. If you suspect that someone you know may be a sociopath, use this handy determinative guide:

Glibness and Superficial Charm

Manipulative and Conning

They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.

Grandiose Sense of Self

Feels entitled to certain things as "their right."

Pathological Lying

Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.

Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt

A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.

Shallow Emotions

When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.

Incapacity for Love

Need for Stimulation

Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common.

Callousness/Lack of Empathy

Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others' feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.

Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature

Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.

Early Behavior Problems/Juvenile Delinquency

Usually has a history of behavioral and academic difficulties, yet "gets by" by conning others. Problems in making and keeping friends; aberrant behaviors such as cruelty to people or animals, stealing, etc.


Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.

Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity

Promiscuity, child sexual abuse, rape and sexual acting out of all sorts.

Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle

Tends to move around a lot or makes all encompassing promises for the future, poor work ethic but exploits others effectively.

Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility

Changes their image as needed to avoid prosecution. Changes life story readily.

Other Related Qualities:

Contemptuous of those who seek to understand them
Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them
Only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired
Conventional appearance
Goal of enslavement of their victim(s)
Exercises despotic control over every aspect of the victim's life
Has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim's affirmation (respect, gratitude and love)
Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim
Incapable of real human attachment to another
Unable to feel remorse or guilt
Extreme narcissism and grandiose
May state readily that their goal is to rule the world

Whether this description sounds like anyone prominent on the national political stage like, say, a certain someone running for President, I leave to the reader to decide.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Classy all the way

by digby

Of course:

The flier says it was produced by Americans for Tax Reform. That’s the anti-tax group run by Grover Norquist.

Who else?

Update: Someone on twitter says this ad is from September, but the Houston Chronicle (which posted it yesterday) says that someone they know got it yesterday.
Look out McNasty is back

by digby

What with the aptly named "comfortablysmug" on Twitter being revealed as a hedge fund analyst and GOP operative and John McCain turning up the partisan insults at a "storm relief" event, it's been quite a day for Republican jackasses:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) spoke on behalf of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a "storm relief and volunteer appreciation" event in Ohio on Tuesday, serving up a generous portion of hyper-partisan rhetoric on President Barack Obama's handling of the September attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya.

"This president is either engaged in a massive cover-up deceiving the American people, or he is so grossly incompetent that he is not qualified to be the commander in chief of our armed forces. It's either one of them," McCain told Romney volunteers, according to NBC News.

I guess disasters don't bring out the best everyone after all.

Someone actually said this:"A baby is not the worst thing that could ever happen to a rape victim — an abortion is"

by digby

Ed Kilgore writes about the Romney campaign's furious shaking of the etch-a-sketch on abortion
Former Sen. (and Romney surrogate) Norm Coleman has taken a slightly different approach with a Jewish Republican Coalition audience, per Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM:
“President Bush was president eight years, Roe v. Wade wasn’t reversed. He had two Supreme Court picks, Roe v. Wade wasn’t reversed,” former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) told a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Beechwood, Ohio. “It’s not going to be reversed.”
Bush, of course, chose two Court nominees deemed almost certain to support reversal or at least a major modification of Roe. One of them replaced the retiring Chief Justice who had dissented from the original Roe decision. So the Bush years produced a 1-vote swing against Roe, one short of a majority. I gather Coleman’s audience doesn’t know those very basic facts, but Norm probably does.

More broadly, though, Coleman is suggesting to a socially liberal Jewish audience that Romney is continuing a Republican tradition of playing the poor dumb bible-thumper goyim for suckers. Let ‘em do the grunt work of the campaign day in and day out, dreaming of the day when the baby-killers will finally be put out of business. It’s like a mechanical rabbit keeping them running around the dog track, but it’s not real!
I happen to believe that Mitt is actually a committed anti-choicer, but that's neither here nor there. His shape-shifting on the issue should be enough for no one on either side to trust him --- which means you have to look at what he could do in power under pure pressure from the base. And I think it's clear that banning abortion is a very big litmus test on the right.

Plus, let's not forget his running mate:
WHEN DURING THE VICE-PRESIDENTIAL debate Martha Raddatz asked Paul Ryan what role his religion has played in his own personal views on abortion, Ryan was quick to explain not only the central role of religion in his life, but his family’s and his political party’s:
I don't see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, of how to make sure that people have a chance in life. […] Now, you want to ask basically why I'm pro-life? It's not simply because of my Catholic faith. That's a factor, of course. But it's also because of reason and science […] I believe that life begins at conception.
The “vulnerable” in Ryan’s charge, the “people” in need of a chance in life, were not women, but blastocyst embryos. Ryan was appealing to parens patriae (literally, “father of the people”), a doctrine which state courts have often used in the past to, among other things, compel medical treatment of in utero fetuses. This would not have been lost on the ticket’s radical ‘pro-life’ supporters, even if it was lost on the public at large. It was a high-five to a radical agenda that is pro-life when it comes to zygotes, but not to women involved in their conception.

Under parens patriae, the state has the power, and even the duty, to protect individuals not otherwise able or willing to protect themselves. If Roe v. Wade were overturned during a Romney presidency — an eventuality that Romney himself has made clear is his goal — abortion would be remanded to the states, exactly the way it had been before the 1973 Supreme Court ruling.

States could not only pass zygote personhood legislation without constitutional challenge (either by amending a state’s constitution or by making it a law), but, under parens patriae, could intervene in all sorts of medical and scientific cases, such as stem cell research and in vitro fertilization. There would be no limit.
An awful lot of people find the idea of abortion going back to the states to be quite comforting. After all, it's impossible that it could ever be totally banned, right?

Why people persist in believing that is beyond me. Look at that legal rationale spelled out above. Is it beyond the realm of possibility that the high court would not eventually adopt it?

That article details just how radical both Ryan and Romney are on this and how they plan to go about it. This was particularly striking:
What Ryan and Romney are after with “personhood” is to undo Roe v. Wade entirely. Personhood USA, the largest anti-abortion organization, counts Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum as signatories to their Republican presidential candidate pledge, which reads in relevant part:
If elected President, I will . . . to the best of my knowledge . . . only appoint federal judges and relevant officials who will uphold and enforce state and federal laws recognizing that all human beings at every stage of development are persons with the unalienable right to life.
It is a pro-life referendum machine that uses the tag line “protecting the pre-born by love and by law.” Their primary mission is to “serve Jesus by being an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves” — the zygotes. Personhood USA spokesperson Rebecca Kiessling explained:
As someone who really cares about rape victims, I want to protect them from the rapist, and from the abortion, but not the baby. A baby is not the worst thing that could ever happen to a rape victim — an abortion is.
It's hard for me to even read that utter bullshit without throwing something. (Or throwing up.) If it were just something said by a zealous egomaniac, I think I wouldn't be so angry. But that infantilizing logic has made its way all the way to the Supreme Court:
That abortion is bad for fetuses is a statement of the obvious. That it is bad for women, too, is a contested premise that nonetheless got five votes at the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

It was a development that stunned abortion rights advocates and that represents a major departure from how the court has framed the abortion issue for the past 34 years. The question on the day after the justices voted 5 to 4 to uphold the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is where the court goes from here.
In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy suggested that a pregnant woman who chooses abortion falls away from true womanhood.

“Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child,” he said.

Justice Kennedy conceded that “we find no reliable data” on whether abortion in general, or the procedure prohibited by the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, causes women emotional harm. But he said it was nonetheless “self-evident” and “unexceptional to conclude” that “some women” who choose to terminate their pregnancies suffer “regret,” “severe depression,” “loss of esteem” and other ills.

Consequently, he said, the government has a legitimate interest in banning a particularly problematic abortion procedure to prevent women from casually or ill-advisedly making “so grave a choice.”

If “a necessary effect of the regulation and the knowledge it conveys will be to encourage some women to carry the infant to full term,” Justice Kennedy continued, that outcome will advance “the state’s interest in respect for life.”
How anyone read that and come away still believing that there is no possibility that Roe vs Wade will be overturned or that abortion will never be banned nationally is beyond me.

The "what are you going to do about it" election gambit

by digby

Gosh, I sure hope Ohio isn't close or these GOP shennanigans might be a real problem:
In recent weeks, the Texas-based group, with many local affiliates drawn from Tea Party ranks, has been urging poll workers in key Ohio counties—primarily Republicans—to supplement their official state training with TrueTheVote materials. These Election Day workers are not the observers chosen by political parties who can watch but not interfere with voting; they are the people who are drawn from both parties and employed by the state to run the voting process.

“A few weeks back it was reported that TrueTheVote had talked about doing trainings,” said Brian Rothenberg, ProgressOhio Executive Director. “It appears that some offshoot of the Tea Party is now training elections workers in Hamilton County and we’re starting to hear that it’s happening in other counties, and that requests are being made for lists of poll workers throughout Ohio—to provide extra training.”

It is a crime in Ohio to interfere with conducting an election. Moreover, after the 2004 presidential election the state signed a federal consent decree that, among other things, established uniform poll worker training. Whether TrueTheVote’s interference with the state’s official trainings violates these legal standards has not been tested in court.

But the possibility that the group might be urging poll workers to use different standards other than what’s prescribed by the state is disturbing, said Dan Tokaji , an election law professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law.

“I don’t know what TrueTheVote has planned for Election Day. It would troubling be if outside groups were giving training to poll workers that conflicts with their legal obligation,” he said. “They are effectively state officials. Anything they do would be considered state action.”

Requests for comment with the Hamilton County Board of Elections and Ohio Secretary of State office were not returned by press time.

The U.S. has a history of partisans interfering—or trying to interfere—with voting at the polls, Tokaji said. Famously, decades before William Rehnquist became U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, he tried to discourage [8] Latinos from voting in Arizona. In 2008 in Ohio, a GOP effort to obtain statewide voter files to screen for what it said was incorrectly registered voters was blocked in court, preventing [9] so-called voter ‘caging.’

This summer, AlterNet secretly attended a TrueTheVote workshop in Colorado, where attendees were encouraged to police polling places. The organizers spoke of the need to take extra steps to verify voter identity, such as comparing a poll book’s signature to a voter’s ID, as well as asking for more proof of identification. That step would exceed legal standards because when a voter signs a poll book to get a ballot, their signature is an oath under penalty of perjury. The organizers also told people to be wary when an infirm voter seeks assistance—saying that could lead to fraudulent voting.

I have a feeling that in all these cases, they are more than willing to say, "what are you going to do about it?" in the hopes that the election will be contested and all this stuff becomes part of the partisan war that is sure to follow. Seriously, what can we do about it? They'll do their thing and it will all be sorted out after it's too late. That's the beauty of it.

There's a lot of talk about how there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the parties and there's a lot of truth to that. But this is a difference. The Democrats really aren't trying to either fraudulently win elections or keep the other side from voting. That's verifiable fact. The bottom line is that Republicans are deeply hostile to the democratic electoral process. That doesn't make the Democrats saints, but it is a distinction worth thinking about.

Update: Wisconsin too.


The quintessential Master of the Universe

by digby

Not only a Republican operative but a hedge fund analyst. It's a perfect storm of assholishness:

During the storm last night, user @comfortablysmug was the source of a load of frightening but false information about conditions in New York City that spread wildly on Twitter and onto news broadcasts before ConEd, the MTA, and Wall Street sources had to take time out of the crisis situation to refute them.
What @comfortablysmug didn’t count on, apparently, was losing that anonymity. Based on photos he censored and posted to the account but I found unedited elsewhere, @comfortablysmug is Shashank Tripathi, a hedge-fund analyst and the campaign manager of Christopher R. Wight, this year’s Republican candidate for the U.S. House from New York’s 12th congressional district.

FEC documents show Wight has paid Tripathi thousands of dollars this election cycle as a “consultant.” @comfortablysmug has been a vocal supporter of Mitt Romney and posted tweets suggesting he attended this year's Republican convention. He's listed here by a local Republican group coordinating volunteers for a Romney phone bank. He's 29 years old.

For years, he’s been a prolific commenter at NYmag.com and a popular conservative presence on Twitter. In 2008, he penned an entry for the site’s popular sex diary feature that “detailed a week of obsession, rough sex, and Ambien.”

A year later, they interviewed him. Tripathi, appearing with the same censored face that shows up in Twitter photos, said he was “not as blatantly an asshole in person” but still has “asshole tendencies.”

I'd say so. And they manifest themselves a lot like Mitt Romney's did --- frat boy bullying, practical jokes and "pranks." Too bad about the victims.

I think he represents his class perfectly.


The GOP disaster privatization plan was spelled out years ago

by digby

I was just thinking about what it would be like if Romney were to realize his dream of privatizing disaster relief. And I remembered that after Katrina Bush first put his political henchman Karl Rove in charge of reconstruction efforts. Does everyone recall what they specifically had in mind?
After Katrina, Republicans Back a Sea of Conservative Ideas
September 15, 2005; Page B1

Congressional Republicans, backed by the White House, say they are using relief measures for the hurricane-ravaged Gulf coast to achieve a broad range of conservative economic and social policies, both in the storm zone and beyond.

Some new measures are already taking shape. In the past week, the Bush administration has suspended some union-friendly rules that require federal contractors pay prevailing wages, moved to ease tariffs on Canadian lumber, and allowed more foreign sugar imports to calm rising sugar prices. Just yesterday, it waived some affirmative-action rules for employers with federal contracts in the Gulf region.

Now, Republicans are working on legislation that would limit victims' right to sue, offer vouchers for displaced school children, lift some environment restrictions on new refineries and create tax-advantaged enterprise zones to maximize private-sector participation in recovery and reconstruction. Yesterday, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would offer sweeping protection against lawsuits to any person or organization that helps Katrina victims without compensation.

"The desire to bring conservative, free-market ideas to the Gulf Coast is white hot," says Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican who leads the Republican Study Group, an influential caucus of conservative House members. "We want to turn the Gulf Coast into a magnet for free enterprise. The last thing we want is a federal city where New Orleans once was."

Many of the ideas under consideration have been pushed by the 40-member study group, which is circulating a list of "free-market solutions," including proposals to eliminate regulatory barriers to awarding federal funds to religious groups housing hurricane victims, waiving the estate tax for deaths in the storm-affected states; and making the entire region a "flat-tax free-enterprise zone."

Members of the group met in a closed session Tuesday night at the conservative Heritage Foundation headquarters here to map strategy. Edwin Meese, the former Reagan administration attorney general, has been actively involved.

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R., Kan.) said that the plans under development "are all part of a philosophy of lowering costs for doing business." He said southern Louisiana,Mississippi and Alabama offer a "microcosm" where new ideas can be applied to speed the rebuilding.

The proposals to cut taxes and waive regulations come after Congress quickly approved $62.8 billion in federal spending for the Gulf Coast, and is expected to approve further spending that will push the price tag above $100 billion.

Some of the proposals are attracting fire from Democrats. "They're going back to the playbook on issues like tort reform, school vouchers and freeing business from environmental rules to achieve ideological objectives they haven't been able to get in the normal legislative process," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D., Ill.)

In response, Democrats are pressing for other proposals that suit their ideology. Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois has suggested creating a national emergency airlift program so that U.S. airlines can help evacuate Americans from areas before a natural disaster strike. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Louisiana Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu unveiled a plan that would, among other things, preserve victims' Medicaid health coverage, provide $2,500 education grants to displaced students and give victims a 180-day extension on outstanding loan payments.

Trial lawyers were quick to attack the bill the House passed yesterday on a voice vote to limit lawsuits against volunteers saying it prevents airlines, hospitals, stadiums, and bus companies from being held accountable for misconduct or negligence. In a statement, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America said, "If a nursing home resident evacuated from New Orleans to a nursing home in a neighboring state dies of untreated, infected pressure sores, the out-of-state home would be protected."

The bill's chief sponsor, Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, said in a statement that the legislation removes the "threat of legal fear that stands between many willing and able Good Samaritans and the victims of Hurricane Katrina." The bill does permit lawsuits for injuries that were caused "by willful, wanton, reckless, or criminal conduct."

Some conservatives expressed concern about the growing reach of the reconstruction effort. "Everyone is attaching their own agenda to this," said William A. Niskanen, a former Reagan White House economic adviser now at the libertarian Cato Institute. "It's being seen as a test of the conservative agenda, from enterprise zones to school vouchers and the repeal of labor laws, and these ideas deserve careful thought," he said. "But [the massive spending] could also create expectations that we can do this every time a disaster hits."

Some of the proposals are unlikely to win quick passage. But congressional tax-writing committees hope to approve legislation within days to offer $5 billion in
tax relief and other aid to residents of areas hit by the storm. The legislation would, among other things, let victims withdraw money from retirement accounts without penalty, give tax incentives to those who house evacuees and give companies incentives to hire displaced workers.

Republicans, meanwhile, say they will also press for a new round of energy concessions, including incentives to rebuild and expand offshore drilling and clear the way for new refineries that were dropped from a 500-page energy bill that passed last month.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton of Texas and Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe are working on bills that would encourage refineries to build new plants and expand existing ones by rolling back environmental rules and making it easier for refineries to navigate regulatory channels in Washington.

Republicans hope Hurricane Katrina prods Congress to approve a second energy
bill this fall that includes several provisions that were dropped from the first bill.

The National Petrochemical & Refineries Association would like lawmakers to reduce the depreciation period from 10 years to five years in order to stimulate investment. Some refineries are talking about reviving an effort to get liability protection for producing the fuel additive methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE. Both were dropped from the earlier energy bill at the insistence of Democrats.
I wrote a screed about this at the time, concluding with this observation:
The model we should look at is the Coalition Provisional Government in Iraq. That too was going to be a bold and courageous experiment in laissez-faire wet-dream governance. Instead it was the biggest boondoggle in history with more than 8.8 billion dollars officially unaccounted for and undoubtedly tens of billions more wasted on fraud and corruption. Bush's base, by which I mean corporate America, did very, very well. They will undoubtedly do well in Boondoggle Part Two as well.
People say that they aren't really that radical, that they're just playing to their base etc, etc. But this was a real plan. They wanted to get it done and if Bush hadn't screwed the pooch it's entirely possible that they could have done quite a bit of it. This is a real vision and don't kid yourself, if they were given enough state power to enact it, they would.

Romney's pathetic disaster rally

by digby

I know it's a tough line to walk, but I think Mitt just fell off of it:

“We’re counting on Ohio. I know the people of the Atlantic Coast are counting on Ohio and the rest of our states,” he said, after urging them to donate to the American Red Cross or another relief agency. “But I also think the people of the entire nation are counting on Ohio. Because my guess is – my guess is that if Ohio votes me in as president, I’ll be the next president of the United States.”

If the guy didn't think the best way to handle disaster relief is to introduce the profit motive, I would almost feel sorry for him. But since he has a long history of telling victims to pound sand and his budget and that of his running mate would decimate all the public services that help get people through these things, I don't. Let him remind everyone of the last GOP president who failed to rise to the occasion during a natural disaster.

This is simply embarrassing:

Romney early today bagged plans to go to Lima and Dayton Tuesday, citing Hurricane Sandy. But his campaign just sent a release: Tomorrow’s event in Dayton is on – this time as a disaster relief event where Romney may make brief remarks. The campaign is encouraging attendees to bring disaster relief supplies to the event.

Bring a can of soup to a rally in Ohio and call it disaster relief for the eastern seaboard. Please. If he wants to do disaster relief he should go "home" to Massachusetts. Unfortunately, they won't be happy to see him since he treated his constituents like dirt during disasters while he was Governor:

The entire region was under flood warnings, but the problem was especially acute along the Merrimack River, especially in the city of Lowell, where Romney's response was considered, well, leaky. The right-leaning Lowell Sun was particularly displeased.
We find it inconceivable that Gov. Mitt Romney claims the state can do nothing to help those residents still struggling to rebuild homes and businesses after the May flood. Massachusetts is sitting on millions in unspent emergency funds from Hurricane Katrina and more than $1 billion in cash reserves, yet Romney has failed to even respond to the Lowell delegation's requests to discuss additional aid for victims. The governor's spokesman — since Romney can't be bothered to comment now that the photo opportunities have dried up even though some residents' basements haven't — said the state will not consider spending its own money for flood victims until it's clear how much cash the federal government will give.

That's just how he rolls. It's how they all roll. If you don't have the job creatin' skill to put a hundred million dollars in your IRA, well ... you get what you deserve, don't you?


While the rest of New York goes dark, Goldman Sachs' lights stay on

by David Atkins

Via the Instagram feed of @eelaine212 comes the following photo of the lights still on at Goldman Sachs, even as the Freedom Tower goes dark and the power goes out at NYU hospital:

If ever there were a symbol of modern America, that would be it. I'm thinking the time might be right for a re-viewing of Fight Club.

(via Business Insider)


Monday, October 29, 2012

Today's biggest dose of stupid

by digby


On “The Morning Joe Show” this morning, Mark Halperin said White House adviser David Plouffe was clever to convince the president to cancel his campaign event in Florida today and go to Washington to be the president of hurricane response.

I think the most important person in this election right now is not the candidates, for today at least, it’s David Plouffe, senior White House adviser, ran the President’s campaign last time. Brilliant at understanding the intersection between the campaign and the government. Lots of control over both, and, obviously, was central to the decision to say the President shouldn’t do this event in Florida today, should come back to Washington. And I think you will see David Plouffe doing a couple things. One, the symbolism of the office, making sure they don’t mess up.

Later that day ...

It's inevitable that we are going to talk about the political ramifications of this storm. We are a week out from what looks to be a very close election. But after Bush's Katrina debacle, it's perfectly obvious to any sentient being that the president had to go back to Washington and ... be the president.  I can't think of any reason why Halperin would "speculate" about it unless he's a fool or a rightwing smart ass.

Meanwhile, here's today's biggest dose of stupid from a Romney spokesman:

I have to say that I don’t think anyone, most people don’t have a positive impression of FEMA, and I think Mitt Romney is right on the button. I don’t think anybody cares about that right now.

Uh, heckuva job?

Update: Can I just ask ... why?
@andreamsaul: Gov. Romney has also been in touch with [VA] Governors Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie about storm preparation

What's he going to do, offer some investment advice?

The Greatest Generation drops some wisdom

by digby

From Move On (definitely NSFW):

That last threat is enough to make a believer out of me.

This comes out of Michael Moore's shop, which is why makes wingnuts' heads immediately start spinning on their shoulders as they spew green bile. They just can't roll with it.

Dumbest tweet of the year award goes to Jonathan Martin at Politico

by David Atkins

Words fail:

If anyone out there is stupid enough to believe that Nate Silver has "special sauce" beyond averaging polls, weighting them slightly for house effects, and adding some economic and past electorate performance data, then they probably aren't smart enough to be reading Nate Silver or any of the other statisticians with mathematical models similar to Silver's. The statistical models show Obama likely to win, just like the conservative Real Clear Politics average of polls shows an Obama win of 290-248 based on current data after forcing tossups into the column of the candidate currently ahead. It's not that complicated.

Martin's incredibly stupid tweet also refers to an even more mind-boggling article stating that Silver's credibility would be tarnished if Romney were to win, apparently because 25% probabilities never actually occur in nature, and because if Romney were to suddenly surge in the polls it somehow wouldn't show up in Nate's model.

If the journalists at Politico are this dumb when it comes to simplistic electoral probabilities, then it's no wonder they can't understand the fraudulent nature of Romney's tax "plan", much less the intricacies of climate change models.

The D.C. bubble is filled with the dumbest people pretending to be smart this side of a Davos conference.

Tough love for disaster victims

by digby

Ezra Klein points out that FEMA would be decimated under the sequester. Not that anybody gives a damn. All they are worried about is building ships that nobody wants. But that's not the worst of it:

Even if the sequester doesn’t take effect, federal disaster relief already faces new funding limits. Under last year’s Budget Control Act, lawmakers agreed to $917 billion in cuts over 10 years that would occur regardless of what happened with the supercommittee and the sequester. The cuts began in October 2011, and they’re happening through new spending caps on both security and non-security spending.

Congress make an exception to these new spending limits for disaster relief funding. But there’s a hard cap on any funding increase as well. According to the Congressional Research Service, disaster relief funding “cannot exceed the average funding provided for disaster relief over the 10 previous fiscal years, excluding the highest and lowest funding years. OMB estimated this figure to be $11.3 billion for the 10 years between FY2002 and FY2011.”

So even in the advent of an unprecedented disaster, Congress would have to pass new legislation to bypass these funding limits for disaster relief after a certain point. And recent natural disasters have already shown what a political mess that can be.
Hurricane Irene and the tropical storm Lee drained the Federal Emergency Management Agency of disaster relief funds. But House Republicans wanted to boost their funding only if Congress made equivalent spending cuts elsewhere, leading to a political stalemate that FEMA headed off only by rearranging its finances to get the agency through the end of the fiscal year.

This is apparently because the states are being parasites and depending too much on federal help in the event of a natural disaster.

This is a nation where billionaires are screaming because the president called them fat cats once. The wealth of the top 1% is unprecedented in human history and yet we are saying that we don't have the money to help rebuild communities destroyed by natural disasters. In fact, these communities need a little tough love to learn that they need to crawl out of the rubble and the sludge on their own.

Certainly we don't need to worry about the broken infrastructure or lost output damaging the economy. As long as the wealthy are safe, I'm sure they'll create some jobs right away to make up for all the money lost in damages and lost wages, right? And the people can always rely on charity so it's all good.


Race men

by digby

From Matt Bors

Ole Moderate Mitt

by digby

Michelangelo Signorile:
In my last blog post, which lit up the Internet and social media, I quoted Mitt Romney making shocking remarks that were highlighted in investigative reporter Murray Waas' Boston Globe story last week. Now, for the first time in this campaign, video has surfaced of Romney making those bigoted claims about gay parents while pushing his heartless policy against their children.

One of two video clips that Waas has now uploaded to YouTube shows Romney speaking to conservative voters in South Carolina in 2005, as he was testing the waters for a presidential bid in 2005, discussing his battle with the Registry of Vital Statistics and Records regarding the birth certificate forms...

The second clip, from C-SPAN, includes footage of Romney speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., a few months earlier (at the 6:11 mark). In that clip he speaks about child development.
Romney outlined his battle with the Registry of Vital Statistics to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding changing the birth certificate forms. He defended his position to the Judiciary Committee (and again claimed it was about changing the form to include boxes labeled "parent A" and "parent B" when that was not the case) even as a Massachusetts Department of Health attorney warned that it didn't conform to legal statues and could disadvantage the children later in life, impeding their ability to apply for school and get passports, drivers licenses or other forms of identification, particularly in a post-9/11 world where they might be viewed as security risks with altered birth certificates.
As Signorile concludes:
What seems clear now, looking at Romney's record, in which he made a lot of promises to gays in those early years but never delivered, is that the pandering he did was to gay activists and the voters of Massachusetts, as the devout Mormon used that state as a stepping stone to the presidency. The real Romney is the guy who actually delivered to cultural conservatives and sought to harm the children of gay couples, and who is now running for president with the backing of those very same religious extremists.
If there is one thing that is obvious about Mitt Romney it is that he is an extremely traditional white male conservative. Every time he's asked about any kind of cultural change or social progress you can almost see the cogs turning in his mind, trying to figure out how to talk about it in a way that doesn't betray the fact that these changes go against his deeply held personal and religious beliefs. He's the poster boy for patriarchy.

If Republicans had their way: Natural Disaster Edition

by digby

Remember this? Good times:
The final two years of George W. Bush’s presidency were marked by a major controversy over budget cuts at the National Hurricane Center, a dispute that eventually cost the center’s director his job. But those controversies did not end with the conclusion of the Bush administration. When Republicans retook the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, they made deep cuts in the President Barack Obama’s 2011 request for the Polar Joint Satellite System, a system of new satellites needed to replace the old ones, which currently provide 85 percent of the data used in hurricane forecasting. House Republicans proposed further deep cuts in the program in fiscal year 2012.
Here's how that went:
The House of Representatives is debating the Full Year Continuing Resolution Act (H.R. 1) to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. The Republican leadership has proposed sweeping cuts to key programs across the climate change, clean energy, and environmental spectrum. They have also decided that accurate weather forecasting and hurricane tracking are luxuries America can no longer afford.

The GOP’s bill would tear $1.2 billion (21 percent) out of the president’s proposed budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. On the surface, cutting NOAA may seem like an obvious choice. The FY 2011 request for the agency included a 16 percent boost over 2010 levels that would have made this year’s funding level of $5.5 billion the largest in NOAA’s history.

Because, you know, who needs it?

You'll recall that the National Hurricane Center is a Democratic plot to thwart the Republicans. At least according to Rush last month:

LIMBAUGH: So we got a hurricane coming. The National Hurricane Center, which is a government agency, is very hopeful that the hurricane gets near Tampa. The National Hurricane Center is Obama. It’s the National Weather Service, part of the commerce department. It’s Obama. The media, it’s all about the hurricane hitting next week, and they’re not talking about Biden, they’re talking about this Hurricane Isaac thing. Well, you know, we who live in south Florida become experts. We don’t need the National Hurricane Center, and we don’t need all these weather dolts analyzing this for us. Well, we need the center, we can look at their charts and graphs, we know what to do, we can read the stuff. I’ve been tracking the charted forecast track of the storm, and they’re moving it sometimes to the east. The latest, 11 o’clock, they moved it to the west as a cat 1 impact in Naples, Fort Myers area.

This morning at five a.m., the impact was Miami. We’re still not talking about ’til next Tuesday, so it’s gonna be all over the ballpark between now and then. We don’t know where this thing is gonna hit. The models are moving it more and more out into the Gulf. I wouldn’t be surprised if this thing hits in Louisiana someplace when it’s all said and done. Just kidding. Nobody knows, but they’re desperately hoping, they’re so desperately hoping for Tampa. The media, you know, I can see Obama sending FEMA in in advance of the hurricane hitting Tampa so that the Republican convention is nothing but a bunch of tents in Tampa, a bunch of RVs and stuff. (laughing) Make it look like a disaster area before the hurricane even hits there.
Yeah, they're just a bunch of hacks. Obviously they cooked this one up to help Obama too.

By the way, the idea of privatizing the national Hurricane Center has real currency among folks like Mitt Romney. This paper from right wing Hillsdale College suggests full privatization of the National Weather Service. Acknowledging that hurricane prediction and study might not a lucrative profit center, it suggests this:
Finally, there is the question of what to do with organizations like the National Hurricane Center, that do some very specialized and valuable research, such as flying aircraft into hurricanes. For these organizations I suggest an alternative form of privatization, which was used, for example, in the privatization of the Building Research Establishment, and similar scientific organizations in the UK. The BRE was privatized as a charitable trust, rather than as a for-profit body, and has become “one of the world's leading research led consultancies on innovation, risk and sustainability with business world-wide.” I would suggest that certain industries, such as the insurance industry, would have a keen interest in the success of such a charitable body and would become major funders.
And, you know, if the insurance companies don't do a good job you could always start your own hurricane research center to provide some needed competition.

If you'd like to know what these natural disasters in a modern country would be like if Ayn Rand's vision were realized, check out Howie's post this morning featuring excepts from a dystopian Randian novel's treatment of a hurricane under a Paul Ryan-style administration. It sounds chillingly believable.

Romney's desperate anti-FEMA gamble

by David Atkins

Win or lose, the story of Mitt Romney's run for President goes something like this:

1) run to the far-right base in order to win the Republican primary;

2) stay there, in the hope that a sluggish economy plus a rabid conservative base would naturally ease the President out of power;

3) realize sometime before the first debate that that strategy wasn't working;

4) Completely reinvent himself as a pseudo-moderate, lie to the American public with shameless abandon, and totally reorient the campaign in the final month with the help of a pliant media unable to ask tough questions or hold him accountable to his earlier statements.

Call it the Etch-a-Sketch strategy. The most important aspect of the strategy from the Romney campaign point of view is that no statement in the final month of the campaign need match any statement made previously. The press will simply call it a "bold move to the center" and accept it at face value.

Which is why Romney's consistency in attacking FEMA even in the face of an unprecedented hurricane bearing down on New York is somewhat surprising:

Tonight, the Huffington Post asked the Romney campaign to comment on what appears to be the suggestion that FEMA be shut down, and the Romney campaign refused to deny the underlying allegation, and then appeared to explain why it’s better to, in essence, block-grant FEMA to the states.

In fact, Romney called it immoral, citing concerns about the deficit:

Why stick to his guns on this, of all things?

It's hard to know what is going on in the campaign's brain trust, but my best guess is that the Romney campaign knows that it's behind in several states it needs to win, most especially Ohio and Virginia where the storm will be a top concern over the coming days.

The Romney campaign knows it needs to provide a contrast with the Obama campaign on disaster relief. The "me too" stance Romney took during the foreign policy debate won't cut it. And unfortunately from the point of view of conservatives, at worst the President stands to look Presidential in disaster relief mode at worst, and at best the storm will take precious air time from the campaign. Air time that Romney needs to gain ground.

So one of Romney's last hopes has to be that the President somehow botches the relief effort, allowing Romney to step in, declare the federal government incompetent to handle it, and take a federalist stand to devolve FEMA to the states. That's a desperate and risky political gamble.

The only alternative is to believe that Romney actually believes that attacking FEMA during an emergency that has yet to fully hit is somehow good politics and a safe bet for a candidate with momentum and in the lead. The Romney campaign isn't that stupid.

The only conclusion that makes sense is that the Romney campaign is praying for an anti-miracle: heavy hurricane damage combined with incompetent relief, allowing the Republican challenger to pounce. Not only is that an untenable stance morally, it's also an undesirable stance politically. Yet it may be one of Romney's few remaining options.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Batten down the hatches

by digby

Here's hoping all of my readers, tweeps and personal friends back east are safely tucked up somewhere cozy tonight and that this storm turns out to be far less devastating than expected.

And, in case you were wondering, Mitt Romney thinks federal disaster relief is immoral:

Maybe it's just me, but Romney had a lot more energy and fire when he was in full blown wingnut mode. You certainly don't get the feeling that he's unsure of himself.

If you want to know the full extent of GOP callousness on this issue, check this out.

Update: Maybe this is why

For California voters

by digby

Credo and Courage Campaign have helpfully put together another of its Progressive Voter Guides for California.  It's murder trying to get through it all, so this can be very helpful.

My Plan for America

by David Atkins

My fellow Americans,

Before the invigorating election of 2012, it would never have occurred to me to run for President of these United States. I assumed with somewhat too much confidence that the job required a serious mind, a firm commitment to hard-nosed reality, and an ability to navigate complex budgetary and political issues.

I now know that to be false. Which leads me, a man with no name recognition and unqualified for the job, to feel comfortable in asking to lead this nation in 2016. This, despite my lack of eligibility due to age requirements because, as we all know, age requirements are just a number. Numbers are flexible.

I do this because, in light of the seriousness, sustainability and sensibility of the plan being offering by the Republican challenger in 2012, I feel prepared to offer the American People a better one:

1) Rather than a 20% across-the-board tax break for all Americans paid for with unspecified deductions, I offer a 100% tax break for all Americans. It will also be paid for just as credibly by eliminating deductions. But not most of the deductions people use. I'll hold those as sacrosanct. Trust me, I'm a numbers guy. It'll work. The math works.

2) In addition to 1,000 more battleships placed at D4, D5, F6 and points north, south, west and east of there somewhat, I will build a Death Star with facial recognition software and pin-point laser system to kill every single human on the Romney kill list, and to obliterate the wasteful Mars Curiosity Rover that is wasting our tax dollars. This will be unfunded, of course, because no amount of military spending is too big to preserve our freedom.

3) I also plan to deliver Universal Healthcare to replace the patchwork system currently in place. While I still plan to pay for this with deductions from my 100% tax break idea, keep in mind that it would be less expensive for America than voucherizing Medicare and putting Social Security into the stock market. My plan may not be the height of fiscal responsibility, but it's much more responsible than that silly idea.

4) In order to deal with climate change, I propose an Apollo Program for renewable energy to the tune of $5 trillion, which will pay for itself according to a formula I wrote on a napkin called the Atkins Curve. I call it Energy Supply Economics, or Sunshine Down Economics. As for disaster relief, I agree with Mitt Romney that we can afford to cut back on that--but in my plan, the only cutbacks would occur for hurricanes and tornadoes that strike wealthy, white Republican areas, as those folks are the only hard-working people in America. They should have no trouble rebuilding that, as they built it all themselves in the first place.

5) I will give every mother in America the opportunity to stay at home to raise her children, without risk of negative economic consequences. Also, every father, too. We need to do that for our kids.

6) Finally, I propose to give a $100 billion dollar reward from the federal treasury to anyone who can figure out how Mitt Romney's economic plans work. Because those are ridiculous, and I figure an entire cottage industry could be developed in parsing them and discovering a potentially brand-new mathematics.

But if none of that works for you, there is a sensible alternative.

It's not the polls that are skewed, it the right wing psyche

by digby

The formerly obscure analyst who became famous recently for making the spurious case that the polls were all skewed in favor of Obama has decided to go mano a mano with Nate Silver and challenge his methodology. Well, not really. He's decided to be an asshole:

Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the “Mr. New Castrati” voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program. In fact, Silver could easily be the poster child for the New Castrati in both image and sound. Nate Silver, like most liberal and leftist celebrities and favorites, might be of average intelligence but is surely not the genius he's made out to be. His political analyses are average at best and his projections, at least this year, are extremely biased in favor of the Democrats.

Apparently, Nate Silver has his own way of “skewing” the polls. He appears to look at the polls available and decide which ones to put more “weighting” on in compiling his own average, as opposed to the Real Clear Politics average, and then uses the average he calculates to determine that percentages a candidate has of winning that state. He labels some polling firms as favoring Republicans, even if they over sample Democrats in their surveys, apparently because he doesn't agree with their results. In the end the polls are gerrymandering into averages that seem to suit his agenda to make the liberal Democrats candidates apparently strong than they are.

He claims to have been highly accurate in predicting the 2008 election results, and perhaps he was. But it's highly unlikely his current methods and projections will have the level of accuracy unless he changes then quite a lot between now and election day. The race has shifted profoundly in favor of Mitt Romney while Nate Sillver is still projecting an Obama win. Unless he changes that, the credibility he earned in 2008 will be greatly diminished after this years election.

You'll notice that this fine fellow got so caught up in his little fantasy about Silver's alleged effeminacy that he forgot to put together anything resembling a serious critique of his methods.

Judging by the similarity in tone, I'm going to guess that this guy's "credibility" after this race is going to look a lot like this* looks now:

November 6, 2000
RCP Electoral College Analysis: Bush 446 Gore 92
Bush 51.2 Gore 41.8 Nader 5.7

CNN/USA Today/Gallup, MSNBC/Zogby and Newsweek have done a nice job closing the polls for Vice President Gore. All three polls now have Gore within two points and supposedly gaining. We'll see Tuesday whether the propaganda campaign to keep Democrats from becoming disillusioned and voting for Nader was successful in diluting the size of the Bush victory.

As we have said all along, Gore needed to close to within 2% in our RCP Composites to have a realistic chance to win. He has not done so. (RCP Tracking Composite Bush 47.3 Gore 41.2, RCP National Poll Composite Bush 47.0 Gore 42.8) George W. Bush will be elected President of the United States tomorrow by the American people. But the last minute Gore push in some polls has perhaps given enough liberal Democrats hope to not waste their vote on Nader.

The real debate is not who is going to win the election, but whether Bush will win 308 electoral votes or 474 electoral votes. The media's fantasy of Bush winning the popular vote and losing the electoral college is not going happen. The worst case scenario for a Bush victory will be a 2-3 point win in the popular vote and 10-20% more than the necessary 270 EC votes.

For those who still maintain Mr. Gore has a chance of winning, consider the scenarios under which this is possible. If Gore does not win Florida (the evidence indicates he will not), he must run the table, taking IL, CA, PA, MI, MN, WI, WA, OR, TN, AR, WV and DE along with his base 92 votes for a 273-265 EC win. It won't happen. Even with a victory in Florida, Gore must win at least 70% of the remaining battleground states to eke out a victory. The truth is that George W. Bush has a better chance of carrying New Jersey and Vermont than Al Gore does of becoming the next President of the United States.

When you sift through the haze of polls and media disinformation, the anecdotal facts are clear. Bush and Gore are fighting it out in Democratic Iowa, West Virginia, Minnesota and even Gore's home state of Tennessee. Bush is reaching out to moderate Democrats and independents while Gore is frantically trying to energize his base. The media openly acknowledges Bush's base is more energized and that Gore faces a significant threat from Nader on his left. Yet the pundits still talk as if the election is too close to call and could go either way.

On Tuesday night the talking heads will all be abuzz with their exit poll analyses showing how Bush destroyed Gore in the male vote, broke even with women, carried over 40% of the Hispanic vote, and the surprising strength of Ralph Nader. All of this is clear today, but it will take the network exit polls to make it clear to the national press.

We continue to see a landslide of over 400 electoral votes and a Bush win by 7-10 points. We will have to wait until tomorrow to see whether the "tightening polls" may have worked to save Illinois, California, Minnesota and a few others for the Vice President.

An explanation of each critical battleground state can be found on the Critical Battleground State page.

Now that was skewed.

It's part of the right's "bandwagon" strategy -- they always hope they can get people to switch to their guy if they perceive he's a winner. And probably some simply delusion as well --- they have a very hard time believing that America (which they rightfully own) could ever legitimately elect someone other than a Republican. This time I'm guessing they are also hoping it's close enough that they can challenge the legitimacy of the vote in several states. Setting up a situation where some polling "showed" Romney ahead only to lose at the polls will help that cause.

*Dave Weigel dug that Real Clear Politics "analysis" from 2000 up on the Wayback Machine

Creepy image of the day

by digby

It fits him somehow, doesn't it?


Hey ladies: get over it!

by digby

"Romney has condemned -- I mean, one part of this is nonsense. Every candidate I know, every decent American I know condemns rape. OK, so why can't people like Stephanie Cutter get over it? We all condemn rape."

That's Newtie, of course, being the jackass he is.

This reminds me so much of the way so many people went off the rails during the Clinton campaign. Misogyny and sexism is so ingrained that they don't have any idea that what they are saying is insulting and illogical. This thought process is so normal for them that it doesn't even cause a ripple of vague discomfort when they say it.

This is why feminists have to be vigilant about women's rights at every turn, even when it annoys their male allies who have argued as long as I can remember that there is always something "more important" on the agenda or that women don't really understand what's in their own self-interest.(Coincidentally I'm sure, it always tends to be whatever is important to these men.)

I'll quote my friend Deb Coop one more time:

For women ALL Roads to freedom and equality - economic equality and most particularly the ability to avoid poverty START with control of their bodies. If they can't control how they get pregnant and when they will have a child then poverty is the result.

There is theory about something called the Prime Mover - the first action or the first cause. Well for women it IS reproductive rights. It precedes everything. It really is simple. Without the abilty to control your own body then you are a slave to everything else.

Frankly sexism, the need to control women's lives by controlling their bodies and the things that arise from it, are endemic to any social structure. It is ever enduring and even when it seems to be quashed it returns in another form. That is the story in the modern era of women's rights. One step forward after a long struggle - suffrage and then a step back. (And no way do I say that women are not complicit in their own subjugation. We are.)

I am reading The Reactionary Mind by Corey Robin. In the epilogue he makes a point of saying that the loss of power and control is what the elite and the reactionary fear the most. More than a specific loss itself the fear the rising volcano of submerged anger and power. And for them it is most acutely felt compulsion for control in the "intimate" arena. That is the most vexing and disturbing of all.

It is why they want to control women. And controlling their reproductive lives is the surefire way to control them.

It is why abortion rights are absolutely central to every other kind of freedom.

Rape is a terrible act of violence and these awful men deserve every bit of disapprobation they are getting. But this issue is not about "the method of conception" as Paul Ryan would say. It's the idea that these people would tell any woman that she must give up her body and procreate against her will. It is fundamental to a woman's individual liberty and rights as a human being that she be the one to make that decision for herself.

This Is How Nutty Our Discourse Is

by tristero

The New York Times endorsed Barack Obama for re-election. No surprise there, but it does make interesting reading. What especially leaped out for me was this little aside:
[Romney] says he is not opposed to contraception, but...
And that perfectly illustrates how sick and nutty our discourse is today. First of all, notice the binders full of qualifiers. Romneys "says," i.e., he claims - but the Times can't be sure. And notice that they do not say Romney "supports" contraception, just that he is "not opposed," meaning that, at best, Romney "tolerates" birth control. And notice that even this tolerance is immediately qualified with Romney's very big "but."

That's hardly the worst of it. Here we are, in 2012, the 21st century, and a man is running for president whose views on women, morality, sexuality, and reproductive rights are well over 100 years behind the times.

In our mainstream discourse, this country can continue to re-fight all the lost battles and factual errors the modern right wing is obsessed with arguing about - the right to birth control, the fact of evolution, marriage equality, universal health care. If so, we will continue to ignore, to our peril, the very real problems our country faces in the early decades of the 3rd millennium. The alternative is to find ways to marginalize these loons, hunker down, and fashion some semblance of a rational discourse.

A presidential candidate so out of touch with modern realities that, at best, he tolerates contraception? That's just plain nuts. Dangerously nuts.

Tsunami response warnings: another thing Republicans think we don't need

by David Atkins

By the time you read this Sunday morning, Hawaii and other mid-Pacific islands will have endured a tsunami as a result of the 7.7 earthquake in British Columbia. It may or may not be large. Hopefully there will be no injuries, and little damage to property.

Whatever the waves may bring, however, now would be a good time to remember this from March 2011:

The GOP budget plan that passed through the House last month aimed to cut funding for a tsunami warning center that issued a slew of warnings around Japan's devastating earthquake.

The budget, which proposed about $60 billion in budget cuts, would slash funding for the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That would potentially cripple the effectiveness of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, which issued a series of warnings over the past several days regarding the situation in Japan, where an 8.9 magnitude earthquake triggered a massive tsunami along the nation's east coast. (The PTWC is a part of the National Weather Service, which falls under the umbrella of NOAA - the organization responsible for providing tsunami warnings in the U.S.)

The Republican's proposed "continuing resolution" to fund the government, which was defeated in the Senate this week, aimed to cut $1.2 billion - or 21 percent - of President Obama's proposed budget for NOAA, ClimateProgress.org reports.
Cuts to Sesame Street and tsunami warnings as cents-on-the-dollar offsets for tax cuts for Mitt Romney and his friends. Makes sense--if you're a plutocrat. A country that wasn't in denial about reality would have tossed these people out of power a long, long time ago.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday Night At The Movies

Halloween double feature: Welcome to Hell

By Dennis Hartley

You’re gonna burn: Hellbound?

God is a concept, by which we measure our pain.
-John Lennon

Whenever I’m about to impart a smart-assed observation (which is often), I tend to preface it with the disclaimer: “I’m already going to Hell anyway…” I’ve never really contemplated why it is that I feel compelled to say that. Is Hell merely a state of mind, or is it an actual travel destination? And if it is the latter, how do you get there? Spend your life committing unspeakable acts? Turn left at Greenland? Besides, don’t you first have to buy into the idea of “Heaven” to enable a “Hell” to co-exist? I have no religious affiliation to speak of, and I’m fairly convinced that any “afterlife” is, at best, a feast for the worms. However, while watching a new documentary called Hellbound? I found it particularly fascinating to learn that even amongst the “true believers”, there seems to be as many different interpretations of “Hell” as there are, oh I don’t know…denominations.

With the exception of the odd rabbi or token atheist, director Kevin Miller has assembled a bevy of (mostly) Christians to offer up their windy definitions. These are Christians of all stripes, from the sober and scholarly (theologians) to the frothing and unhinged (members of the Westboro Baptist Church). To tell you the truth, my eyes began to glaze over about halfway through this film, but from what I was able to discern, interviewees seemed fairly evenly divided between three concepts. There’s your Coke Classic, with Mother Teresa in the penthouse and Hitler in the basement (based on the assumption that evildoers will suffer “eternal torment” after they snuff it). “Annihilationists” believe that it’s their way…or the highway to you-know-where (how that’s different than “fundamentalism” is unclear to me). And lastly, there’s “universalism”, which is pretty much what it sounds like…all sentient beings end up in God’s good graces, no matter how they act (just another way of saying that the penalty for sin has an expiration date?). Once this trio of theories is established, the film becomes somewhat redundant; and it ultimately raises more questions than it answers. For example, how do Muslims define Hell, I wonder? Buddhists? Hindus? It might have made for a more interesting exercise, had Miller approached one or two of those folks to toss in their two cents worth. Then again, I’m no theologian, so what do I know? Besides, I’m already going to Hell anyway.

 Wake in Fright: Dude, where’s my car?

There’s a great old Temptations song that goes “you make your own heaven and hell right here on earth.” That would have made a perfect tag line for a rarely seen, one-of-a-kind 1971 drama called Wake in Fright. Restored in 2009 for a successful revival in Australia and considered a great lost film from that country’s “new wave” of the early to mid-1970s, it was helmed by the eclectic Ted Kotcheff (Fun with Dick and Jane,
North Dallas Forty), and is currently playing in select cities. As someone who is a huge fan of Aussie cinema from that era (
WalkaboutThe Last Wave, etc.) I’m ashamed to admit that this film was under my radar until I was offered a DVD press loaner a few weeks back (I don’t recall it showing on cable, and it’s never been available domestically on VHS or Region 1 DVD).

Here’s the film’s actual tag line: “Have a drink, mate? Have a fight, mate? Have some dust and sweat, mate? There’s nothing else out here.” That actually could work as a plot synopsis. Sort of a cross between Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas  and (speaking of the Australian new wave) Peter Weir’s The Cars That Ate Paris, it’s a relatively simple tale about a burned-out teacher (Gary Bond) who works in a one-room schoolhouse somewhere in the Outback. Headed back to Sydney to visit his girlfriend over the school holiday, he takes the train to Bundanyabba (the nearest town with an airport) where he will need to lodge for one night. At least that’s his plan. “The Yabba” is one of those burgs where the clannish regulars at the local pub take an unhealthy interest in strangers, starting with the (too) friendly town cop (Chips Rafferty) who subtly bullies the teacher into getting completely blotto. This kick starts a “lost weekend” that lasts for five days.

Without giving too much away, let’s just say that the ensuing booze-soaked debaucheries have to be seen to be believed; particularly an unnerving and surreal sequence involving a drunken nocturnal kangaroo hunt that I can pretty much guarantee no film before or since matches for sheer audacity (a strange, lengthy disclaimer in the end credits may not assuage animal lovers’ worst fears, but at least acknowledges viewers’ potential sensitivities). That aside, this is a unique and compelling film; dripping with an atmosphere of dread and tempered by sharp, blackly comic dialog (Evan Jones adapted the script from Kenneth Cook’s novel). Splendid performances abound, especially from Donald Pleasance as a boozy MD. Oh, and one more thing. In all sincerity, I hope that no one is foolish enough to devise a drinking game based around the film, because somebody in the room will surely drop dead of alcohol poisoning long before credits roll.