Monday Reads: Nice Bridge, it would be a shame if sumpin’ would happen to it

George Washington Bridge Under ConstructionGood Morning!

Just when you think  Governor CrankyPants of New Jersey couldn’t be that corrupt, more stuff starts leaking out about him.

Hey, that’s a nice bridge you have there.  It would be a shame if anything happened to it.

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer confirmed Sunday that she spent several hours privately with federal investigators, a day after leveling stunning accusations that Gov. Chris Christie’s administration held out Hurricane Sandy relief funds until she would sign off on a private development project, according to media reports.

Zimmer gave the U.S. Attorney’s office her journal and other documents, she said to NBC.

“As they pursue this investigation, I will provide any requested information and testify under oath about the facts of what happened when the Lieutenant Governor [Kim Guadagno] came to Hoboken and told me that Sandy aid would be contingent on moving forward with a private development project,” she said.

Asked by Candy Crowley on CNN why she had waited until now, with the scandal swirling around the Christie administration’s purported payback move to close the George Washington Bridge after the mayor of Fort Lee refused an endorsement, Zimmer said “I really didn’t think anyone would believe me and quite frankly, if I came forward, no one believes me, then I’m going to put Hoboken in an even worse position and my number one priority as a mayor of Hoboken is to fight to make sure that we can get as many Sandy funds as possible.”

Then, some Dem who did endorse Christie fessed up.

Long Branch, N.J. Mayor Adam Schneider (D) on Saturday said he got “enhanced” access to state officials after he endorsed Gov. GW-Bridge-Opening-DayChris Christie (R) during his re-election campaign.

Schneider told the Washington Post that a few months after he endorsed the governor, he contacted his office about an issue he couldn’t get resolved by the state utility board

“I’m not talking to any more underlings, and I’m not being delegated to,” Schneider told Christie’s aides, a strategy that proved successful. “I got what I needed.”

The Long Branch mayor believes the help from Christie’s office can be attributed to the endorsement, even though the governor never promised him anything.

Governor CrankyPants has decided that it’s all MSNBC’s fault.

Here’s the full statement from Reed (emphasis added):

MSNBC is a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Governor Christie and almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him, even taking the unprecedented step of producing and airing a nearly three-minute attack ad against him this week. Governor Christie and his entire administration have been helping Hoboken get the help they need after Sandy, with the city already having been approved for nearly $70 million dollars in federal aid and is targeted to get even more when the Obama Administration approves the next rounds of funding. The Governor and Mayor Zimmer have had a productive relationship, with Mayor Zimmer even recently saying she’s ‘very glad’ he’s been our Governor. It’s very clear partisan politics are at play here as Democratic mayors with a political axe to grind come out of the woodwork and try to get their faces on television.”

“Our journalism speaks for itself,” MSNBC spokesperson Lauren Skowronski told Business Insider in response to Christie’s office.

Christie’s deep pockets said he thought the Governer’s team was really at fault so Christie should reevaluate his hiring choices.  

The billionaire Kenneth G. Langone, Mr. Christie’s most devoted fund-raiser and loudest cheerleader, got in touch with him in recent days. Mr. Langone said he told the governor that he must be smarter about those who surround him.

“I conveyed the importance of the decisions he makes about the people around him and their qualification and their competence, including common sense,” said Mr. Langone, who called the politically motivated closure of lanes onto the George Washington Bridge “beyond the pale.”

“It upset the hell out of me,” he said.

Mr. Christie has told friends and contributors that he can weather the slings and scrutiny, even as he complains about what he sees as “piling on” by his enemies and a once-admiring news media, according to people told of his thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be associated with comments that could upset the governor or his aides. Mr. Christie has leaned hard on his wife and brother for advice, in long, searching conversations. (The governor could not bring himself to watch the traffic jam-themed parody of “Born to Run” sung by his idol, Bruce Springsteen, on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” though he was told by his college-age son, Andrew, that it was funny.)

Inside Mr. Christie’s inner circle, advisers are disputing public opinion polls, which show a noticeable drop in his popularity and job approval rating, saying that his previous sky-high numbers were inflated by election-year advertising.

Several Republican governors said they were heartened by Mr. Christie’s efforts to address the controversy head-on. So long as he is telling the truth and was not personally involved in the shutdown in Fort Lee, they said, Mr. Christie will remain a major force within the party.

You just gotta love the entire party and how it just continually strives to be out of touch with reality, doncha? Just so you know, Langone is basically the guy that founded Home Depot.  It’s one of the stores on my boycott list. 

Is it a law of evolution that the fatter the wallet, the thinner the skin? The wallet of Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot, is so fat he he must sit on it funny, yet there he was the other day, crabbing to CNBC about Pope Francis’ missive to the effect that the rich are indifferent to the poor.

Langone was careful to attribute his complaints to an unnamed fellow plutocrat, who being a rich person ostensibly took the Pope’s remarks as an insult. Langone claimed his friend was so upset by the Pope’s remarks that he was reconsidering a donation for the renovation of New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

If Langone sounds a little like the guy with an embarrassing condition opening his medical consultation with the words, “Doc, I’ve got this friend…,” so be it. Langone told CNBC he advised Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York that the pope should cool it with the finger-pointing at the rich. (“You get more with honey than with vinegar,” he said.) Dolan promised to explain to the reluctant donor that he was “misunderstanding” the pope’s words and suggested he would explicate the pope’s words in a more emollient way. “And then,” Dolan said hopefully, “he’s going to say, ‘OK, if that’s the case, count me in for St. Patrick’s Cathedral.’”

Remember, this is all about a $180-million project to renovate the big cathedral on Fifth Avenue, which suggests that the priorities of the New York diocese may not leave so much room for “misunderstanding” the pope’s message.

That message, in part, was that “while the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few…. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.”

Langone hates Obama needless to say. He was active against the President as he sought reelection and was pandering to Christie prior to Romney’s nomination.

Langone is a prodigious donor, having given millions to New York University and New York City charities, including the Harlem Children’s Zone. He’s also given hundreds of thousands to conservative groups, like the Republican National Committee, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super-PAC, and the American Action Network, the dark-money outfit run by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman. Langone strongly backed his friend Ross Perot for president in 1992 and was a bundler for Giuliani in 2008.

Last summer, after the White House and Congress (whose members Langone compared to “sex fiends” when around money) clashed over lifting the federal government’s debt ceiling,Langone branded Obama “petulant” and “unpresidential” on CNBC. He even ripped the president for entering the Oval Office without a suit jacket on—something, Langone insisted, Ronald Reagan never would have done. (PolitiFact rated this claim “mostly false”; Reagan sometimes wore track jackets in the Oval Office on weekends.) Obama is “not bringing us together,” Langone said. “Divide us and we all lose. This has got to stop.”

He’s just another one of those billionaires that thinks he knows what’s best for the rest of us and that mostly means fattening his wallet.

Meanwhile, the news about the chemical leak from West Virginia is awful.  The Ohio River is tainted and Cinncinatti closed its intake valves to prevent the chemical from entering the tri-state water supply.

The chemical leaked from a tank along the Elk River in West Virginia last week. The Elk feeds into the Ohio. Traces of the chemical were found at the Meldahl Dam around 9 p.m. Tuesday and were detected at a GCWW intake around 7 a.m.

“Right at the intakes,” Jerry Schulte, a manager with ORSANCO said. “The intakes have been shut down so that’s not a concern.”

GCWW stored water and alternate sources to supply customers until the chemical plume passed Wednesday night or Thursday.

The Northern Kentucky Water District said that it has also shut down its Ohio River intakes as a precautionary measure while the remnants of the spill passes.

Water treatment experts said the water could have been treated with activated charcoal and made safe for customers to use, but 01074u.previewDeborah Metz, a superintendent of water quality and treatment with GCWW, said, “We figure the least risky scenario is for us to just let it go on by.”

The environmental impact will be tracked by comparing fish counts and even bug populations from this spring to last spring.

“We won’t be able to detect the material it will be long gone from the system but if it had an impact on the systems we might be able to see it,” Schulte said.

Freedom Industries has filed for bankruptcy in order to avoid lawsuits and fines.  This should not be possible under US Law but you know how this country is about the so-called job makers. What would be doing right now if this was Al Quaida that poisoned that many people?

 Freedom Industries, the company that fouled thousands of West Virginians’ water with a chemical leak into the Elk River last week, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday.

Freedom owes $3.6 million to its top 20 unsecured creditors, according to bankruptcy documents. The company also owes more than $2.4 million in unpaid taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, and the IRS has placed at least three liens on Freedom’s property, demanding payment.

The unpaid taxes date back to at least 2000, according to a lien filed in 2010.

Under the bankruptcy code, Chapter 11 permits a company to reorganize and continue operating.

The filing also puts a hold on all of the lawsuits filed against Freedom Industries. Since the leak last week, about a mile and a half upriver from West Virginia Water American’s plant in Charleston, about 25 lawsuits have been filed against Freedom in Kanawha Circuit Court. The company also faces a federal lawsuit.

The company’s assets and liabilities are each listed as between $1 million and $10 million in the bankruptcy filing. Chemstream Holdings Inc. is the sole owner of Freedom Industries, according to the filing. Gary Southern, who is identified as Freedom’s president, signed all of the bankruptcy documents.

On Thursday, a source close to Freedom Industries, who asked to remain anonymous because of pending lawsuits, told The Charleston Gazette that Chemstream Holdings is owned by J. Clifford Forrest of Kittanning, Pa.

coal-minerSo, here’s the bottom line on that move.

A bankruptcy filing halts most litigation, forcing plaintiffs to vie with other creditors for a share of a company’s assets. More than two dozen lawsuits have been filed since the accident, which led President Barack Obama to declare a state of emergency for the affected counties. The state attorney general is investigating the spill.

Shorter bottom line:  This pits bankers and investors against people damaged by the company.  It protects the company’s assets.

Here’s a really good rant from one of those people who will have to fight the bankers and investors for damage done.

 I drove south to the point where I-79 South ends, and you pick up I-64 West to head into the interstate exchanges on the freeway that runs the length of downtown.  And there, about a mile and a half out, I smelled it, smelled the odor of the MCHM coming in through the car vents.

I keep hearing the odor described as “licorice.”  That’s not quite right, at least to me.  But I can see how you’d make that association.  The smell was both sweet and sharp, and strangely light, at least in comparison to the smells I associated with chemical leaks growing up.  But it was there, suddenly, like someone had flipped a switch.  It wasn’t there, and then the next second, there it was.

I-64 West into Charleston, coming from southbound, unrolls in a big left-hand curve just after you come into the city.  I’ve driven this route hundreds, maybe thousands of times.  I grew up here.  I recognize every building from the freeway—the banks, the hospitals, the hotels and apartment complexes, all of it.  In the deepest part of that big left-hand curve, down off the freeway and to my left, there was West Virginia-American Water Company, and the smell suddenly became very, very strong.

On my way in, the rain had let up.  Now there was low-lying fog, white-and-gray tufts and tendrils of vapor rising up from the street level all around the small wood-frame houses and gas stations and grocery stores.  The sky was dark, and the fog was in the streets, and the smell was everywhere.  I looked at the water company, and I smelled the air, and suddenly I was filled—I mean filled—with a rage that was quite sudden, very unexpected, and utterly comprehensive.

We can never predict what moments are going to affect us this way.  I’m no dewy-eyed innocent about chemical leaks.  They were regular occurrences when I was a kid.  On the merits, this doesn’t seem right now to be the worst industrial threat West Virginia has ever endured.  Hell, it isn’t the most immediately threatening one my family has endured personally; that would be the bromine leak in my very own hometown of Malden in the 1980s, the one that forced a complete evacuation of the entire town until the leak could be contained.

But something about this confluence, the way I had to bring potable water to my family from two hours north, the strange look of the landscape wreathed in rain and mist, the stench of a chemical that was housed directly upstream from the water company—something about all of that made me absolutely buoyant in my rage.  This was not the rational anger one encounters in response to a specific wrong, nor even the righteous anger that comes from an articulate reaction to years of systematic mistreatment.  This was blind animal rage, and it filled my body to the limits of my skin.

And this is what I thought:

To hell with you. 

Do go read the entire thing.  It’s worth it.

So, at least today is a Holiday and we are celebrating the life of some one who fought for social justice.  Today we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.03-martin-king-010909_14075_600x450

It took 32 years to get this holiday into law when it was signed by Ronald Reagan in 1983.  It took until 2000 to get all 50 states to recognize the holiday.

The House took up the bill in 1983 and it passed by 53 votes. Democrats O’Neill and Jim Wright, along with Republicans Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich, gave speeches supporting the King holiday.

But getting the bill passed in the Senate would be contentious. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina openly opposed it. At first, Helms introduced a filibuster, and then he presented a 400-page file that accused Dr. King of being a communist.

Senator Ted Kennedy criticized Helms and Senator Daniel Moynihan called the document “filth” and threw it on the Senate floor.

Despite Helms, the bill passed the Senate by 12 votes–even South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond voted in favor of the King holiday.

President Ronald Reagan signed the bill in November 1983. The first federal King holiday was celebrated in 1986.

It took longer for the 50 states to adopt the holiday. By 1986, 17 states had already adopted it. But there was strong resistance in Arizona to passing a state holiday.

The fight between state legislators came to a head when the King holiday was put up for an Arizona voter referendum in November 1990.

At that point, entertainers had started boycotting the state in protest, and the National Football League threatened to move the 1993 Super Bowl from Tempe if the holiday was defeated at the polls.

The King holiday lost in a two-part voter referendum and the NFL made good on its threat, taking the Super Bowl to Southern California and costing the state an estimated $500 million in revenue.

Arizona voters approved the King holiday two years later.

There was also a fight in South Carolina over the holiday. It was one of the last states to approve a paid King holiday for state employees in 2000.

The state’s governor had tried to link the holiday to a commitment to allow the state house to fly the Confederate battle flag. Instead, he signed a bill that approved the King holiday along with a Confederate Memorial Day celebrated in May.

Have a great day!  What’s on your reading and blogging list?


How Clueless is Chris Matthews?

This clueless man is a danger to women.

This clueless man is a danger to women.

I realize Chris Matthews is famous for coming out with bizarre remarks, but this one just might take the cake. On Wednesday night’s edition of Hardball, Matthews was interviewing Andrea Mitchell about Hillary Clinton’s political prospects. This was in the context of a discussion about Hillary’s speech at the Vital Voices Awards on Tuesday night. Vital Voices is an organization that Hillary co-founded with Madeline Albright in 1997.

Matthews’ blunders began when he welcomed Mitchell by saying, “You’re one of the great feminists of your time, but you don’t push it.”

Mitchell said that many women, including her 95-year-old mother want to see Hillary win the presidency–want to see a woman in the White House. Nevertheless she noted that Joe Biden was also on-stage with Hillary at the event and got a very good reception.

Mitchell said that Biden, in particular, has “street cred” with women because of his advocacy for women on many fronts, including the Violence Against Women Act. In his speech on Tuesday, Biden called it the “ultimate abuse of power” for a man to strike a woman or a child.

At this point Matthew went completely off the rails. He actually asked Mitchell if “wife beating” is “something women really worry about.”

Here’s the transcript of the interaction from Real Clear Politics.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Is that close to the bone, the idea of wife beating some old — or beaters?

ANDREA MITCHELL: That was part of it.

MATTHEWS: Yeah, but is that something that women really worry about –

MITCHELL: Yes

MATTHEWS: — men being brutal?

MITCHELL: The Violence Against Women Act –

MATTHEWS: At home? In the home?

MITCHELL: Yes, domestic violence.

You have to listen to Matthews’ tone of voice to understand how outrageous this was. He sounded incredulous. Unfortunately I couldn’t embed the video, but you can watch it at RCP. How Andrea Mitchell remained calm through all this, I can’t imagine. I really have to hand it to her. I think I would have been tempted to start screaming and keep screaming until NBC security dragged me off the set.

I hope someone sits Matthews down and forces him to read some of the statistics on violence against women–most of which takes place within families or romantic relationships. Here is some basic stats from DomesticViolenceStatistics.org:

Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.

Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.

Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.

Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.

Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.

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And here is some more in-depth information from the American Bar Association.

Is Chris Matthews getting senile? Either that or he is so completely ignorant that he should retire immediately or be fired.


A Blast from the Past

phil_donahues_liberal_oasisI’d forgotten that Phil Donahue was fired from MSNBC in 2003 for his anti-Iraq views.  If you haven’t watched Juan Gonzlez interview Donahue on Democracy Now, you really should.  It’s a good reminder of the complicity of the media in the march to war and that there were a brave few that wouldn’t shut up.

In 2003, the legendary television host Phil Donahue was fired from his prime-time MSNBC talk show during the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The problem was not Donahue’s ratings, but rather his views: An internal MSNBC memo warned Donahue was a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” providing “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.” Donahue joins us to look back on his firing 10 years later. “They were terrified of the antiwar voice,” Donahue says.

You definitely need to read the transcript at least to catch the exchange between Amy Goodman and Chris Matthews who always acts like his bathroom never smells when he’s in it.  He reminds me a lot of Schultzie in the old TV sitcom Hogan’s Heros.  “I know nothing, nothing!”

AMY GOODMAN: I want to congratulate you, Chris, on 10 years of MSNBC, but I wish standing with you was Phil Donahue. He shouldn’t have been fired for expressing an antiwar point of view on the eve of the election. His point of view and the people brought on were also important.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I don’t know what the reasons were, but I doubt it was that.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we have the MS—the NBC memo, that was a secret memo—
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Oh, OK, good.

Just a great reminder of the fake meme of liberal bias in our media.  Also, more hubris by the press who refuses to admit they really could’ve done something other than be mouthpieces of propaganda.


Obsessive Poll Watching Open Thread: Pew has Obama by 3 . . . Plus, microtargeting voters for GOTV

I’m sure glad MSNBC is running real programming tonight, because I can’t think of much other than the upcoming election. The polls have been moving toward Obama over the past few days, and suddenly he’s ahead in the Pew Poll which has been showing Romney ahead for some time.

Nate Silver reacted on Twitter, saying that the results match his findings:

Nate Silver ‏@fivethirtyeight
Simple average of national polls released Thursday: Obama +0.9. Friday: Obama +1.2. Saturday: Obama +1.3. Today (so far): Obama +1.4

Pew reports:

In the Pew Research Center’s election weekend survey, Obama holds a 48% to 45% lead over Romney among likely voters.

The survey finds that Obama maintains his modest lead when the probable decisions of undecided voters are taken into account. Our final estimate of the national popular vote is Obama 50% and Romney 47%, when the undecided vote is allocated between the two candidates based on several indicators and opinions.

The interviews all took place after superstorm Sandy struck.

Obama’s handling of the storm’s aftermath may have contributed to his improved showing. Fully 69% of all likely voters approve of the way Obama is handling the storm’s impact. Even a plurality of Romney supporters (46%) approve of Obama’s handling of the situation; more important, so too do 63% of swing voters.

Pew expects voter turnout to be lower than in either 2004 or 2008, which could help Romney, but other data favors Obama.

Nearly four-in-ten (39%) likely voters support Obama strongly, while 9% back him only moderately. A third of likely voters support Romney strongly, compared with 11% who back him moderately. In past elections, dating to 1960, the candidate with the higher percentage of strong support has usually gone on to win the popular vote.

Similarly, a much greater percentage of Obama supporters than Romney supporters are voting for him rather than against his opponent (80% for Obama vs. 60% for Romney), another historical indicator of likely victory. And far more registered voters expect an Obama victory than a Romney victory on Nov. 6 (52% vs. 30%).

Obama’s increases in likely voter support are most notable among women, older voters, and political moderates. Women now favor Obama by a 13-point margin (53% to 40%), up from six points a week ago and reflecting a shift toward Obama since early October. Right after the first presidential debate, the women’s vote was split evenly (47% each). Men, by comparison, favor Romney by a 50% to 42% margin, with little change in the past month.

At the Guardian UK, Ewen McAskill writes:

The findings are similar to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll published at the weekend. The two offer the first firm evidence of the impact of Sandy on the election. Pew carries one caution for Obama, suggesting turnout may be lower than in 2008 and 2004, which could help Romney.

Obama’s team claimed that Romney’s frantic campaign schedule reflected a sense of desperation, squeezing in a late visit to previously neglected Pennsylvania Sunday in the search for elusive electoral college votes elsewhere. The Obama team also cited visits Monday to Florida and Virginia, two states it said the Romney camp had claimed to have locked up.

In an interview with ABC, David Plouffe, who organised Obama’s re-election bid, expressed confidence the president will win on Tuesday, and seized on a comment by Karl Rove that Obama had benefited from superstorm Sandy. Democrats are interpreting this as Rove, George W Bush’s former campaign strategist and co-founder of the Crossroads Super Pac that has poured millions of dollars into Romney’s campaign and those of other Republicans, beginning to get his excuses in early.

“A few days ago he [Rove] predicted a big Romney win. My sense is Karl is going be at a crossroads himself on Tuesday when he tries to explain to the people who wrote him hundreds of millions of dollars why they fell up short,” Plouffe said.

Another Obama strategist, David Axelrod, commenting on Romney’s Pennsylvania trip, told Fox News: “They understand that they’re in deep trouble. They’ve tried to expand the map because they know in states like Ohio. They’re behind and they’re not catching up at this point.” He added: “They understand that the traditional, or the battleground, states that we’ve been focusing are not working out for them.”


On Microtargeting . . .

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been reading some interesting articles on the GOTV efforts of the two campaigns. I was struck by this piece at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about a woman in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, Priscilla Trulen, who received a spooky call on Halloween.

“It was Mitt Romney saying, ‘I know you have an absentee ballot and I know you haven’t sent it in yet,’ ” Trulen said in an interview. “That just sent me over the line. Not only is it like Big Brother. It is Big Brother. It’s down to where they know I have a ballot and I haven’t sent it in! I thought when I requested the ballot that the only other entity that would know was the Mukwonago clerk.”

Other voters are being “creeped out” by calls from Democratic groups.

In Brown County, residents are unnerved about “voter report cards” from Moveon.org that show the recipients how their voting participation compares to those of their neighbors.

The solicitations give only a small glimpse into how much digital information the campaigns are able to access about voters.

Corporations working for candidates request publicly available voter data as well as information about absentee ballots from state governments, which they can combine with other data to target individual voters.

The cost of the entire state database is $12,500. Four requesters have been willing to pay that since Sept. 1, Magney said: Catalist (a progressive voter database organization), the Democratic National Committee, and data analysis firm Aristotle – all based in Washington, D.C. The last requester was Colorado-based Magellan Strategies, a firm that specializes in “micro-targeting” for Republican parties and candidates….

In an interview with PBS that aired in October, Aristotle’s chief executive officer, John Phillips, said the company keeps up to 500 data points on each voter – from the type of clothes they buy, the music they listen to, magazines they read and car they own, to whether they are a NASCAR fan, a smoker or a pet owner, or have a gold credit card. Some of that information comes from commercial marketing firms, product registration cards or surveys. Other information is obtained through Facebook, door-to-door canvassing, petitions and computer cookies – small data codes that register which websites the user has visited.

Through data modeling, analyzers can categorize voters based on how they feel about specific issues, values or candidates. They then try to predict voting behavior and figure out which issue ads voters are most likely to be susceptible to – for instance ads on education, gun control or immigration.

One of the companies that requested the full Wisconsin voter database, Magellan Strategies, explains on its website that it conducts surveys on people’s opinions and merges that with their political, consumer and census demographics.

Whoever targeted Trulen made one important mistake, however. She tends to vote Democratic although she lives in a Republican district.

According to Sasha Issenberg, author of the book The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns, writes that in 2008 and 2012, the Democratic microtargeting operation is far superior to the Republican one.

In fact, when it comes to the use of voter data and analytics, the two sides appear to be as unmatched as they have ever been on a specific electioneering tactic in the modern campaign era. No party ever has ever had such a durable structural advantage over the other on polling, making television ads, or fundraising, for example. And the reason may be that the most important developments in how to analyze voter behavior has not emerged from within the political profession.

“The left has significantly broadened its perspective on political behavior,” says Adam Schaeffer, who earned graduate degrees in both evolutionary psychology and political behavior before launching a Republican opinion-research firm, Evolving Strategies. “I’m jealous of them.”

In other words, the Republican dislike of science and academia may be holding Romney back in the microtargeting area.

Schaeffer attributes the imbalance to the mutual discomfort between academia and conservative political professionals, which has limited Republicans’ ability to modernize campaign methods. The biggest technical and conceptual developments these days are coming from the social sciences, whose more practically-minded scholars regularly collaborate with candidates and interest groups on the left. As a result, the electioneering right is suffering from what amounts to a lost generation; they have simply failed to keep up with advances in voter targeting and communications since Bush’s re-election. The left, meanwhile, has arrived at crucial insights that have upended the conventional wisdom about how you convert citizens to your cause. Right now, only one team is on the field with the tools to most effectively find potential supporters and win their votes.

Go read the whole thing if you’re interested. It’s quite a long article, but fascinating. After reading some of his pieces yesterday, I was also able to heard Issenberg on MSNBC’s “Up with Chris Hayes” this morning. So many books to read, so little time.

Now what are you all hearing/reading? Are you as excited as I am?


Monday? Evening Reads: Steve King, Duck Livers, Women’s Ovaries and The World’s Biggest…

Good Evening!

It is hot as hell out there! All day today I’ve thought it was Tuesday…not sure why, because of all the days out there,  Monday definitely has a feel.

*Jerry, Kramer and Newman in the Saab*

Kramer: What’s today?

Newman: It’s Thursday.

Kramer: Really? Feels like Tuesday.

Newman: Tuesday has no feel. Monday has a feel, Friday has a feel, Sunday has a feel….

Kramer: I feel Tuesday and Wednesday…

Jerry: All right, shut up the both of you! You’re making me nervous.

Anyway, here are tonight’s links…in link dump fashion.

The heat was getting to Boston Boomer today, hopefully it has cooled off for her. I know it has been hot down here in Banjoville, but it looks as if the drought we are experiencing has hit a milestone. Check this out:

2012 Drought Rivals Dust Bowl

10 Largest Droughts Since 1895

10 Largest Droughts Since 1895

The 2012 drought disaster is now the largest in over 50 years, and among the ten largest of the past century, according to a new report released by the National Climatic Data Center today.

As The Weather Channel reported in an exclusive preview of the report Sunday, data computed from the Palmer Drought Severity Index shows that 54.6 percent of the contiguous 48 states was in drought at the end of June, the highest percentage since December 1956, and the sixth-highest peak percentage on record.

The June State of the Climate drought report from NCDC, released today, shows that in records dating to 1895, only the extraordinary droughts of the 1930s and 1950s have covered more land area than the current drought.

And by a slight margin, the current drought actually covers more area than the famous 1936 drought, though other droughts in the Dust Bowl years – particularly the extreme drought of 1934 – still rank higher.

That is something, isn’t it?

For another hot topic, remember that douche, Tosh?  Tennessee Guerilla Women: Misogynist Daniel Tosh Makes One Rape Joke Too Many

Someone, it may have been Ralph,  had posted a link to this petition below, I signed it, but I thought it would be good to front page the link.

At long last, there appears to be a serious outcry about Comedy Central’s famed Rape-Joker Daniel Tosh, a low-life who has long earned his living by encouraging similarly mindless young men to rape and think lightly of it.  Tosh earns his living by spewing forth loathsome misogyny in the form of rape ‘jokes.’

After Tosh ‘joked’ at a comedy show that it would be so very ha-ha funny if five guys would only rape a woman in his audience (the woman had dared to object to his rape jokes), the loathsome misogynist is suddenly the talk of bloggers everywhere. Tosh, the Rape Joker, is said to be furiously scrambling to remove the rape jokes from his new, about to debut, rape joke show. But without his rape jokes, does Tosh have an audience?

[SIGN THE PETITION: CEO, Comedy Central: Take Daniel Tosh off the air]

I don’t know how I feel about this next link, so perhaps you all could give me your thoughts on it: Science Cheerleaders: Give Us an S, T, E, M! (Video)

Science Cheerleaders: Give Us an S, T, E, M! (Video)

Go science!

Or rather, go scientists. The Science Cheerleaders are 175 former NFL and NBA dancers who are scientists and engineers, mathematicians, IT professionals, molecular science Ph.Ds. That is, these ex-professional cheerleaders all have now had to “lower their standards” and  work in the STEM fields, in science, technology, engineering and math, as  tongue-in-cheekly puts it on CNET.

Here are the Science Cheerleaders performing at the US Science and Engineering Festival in what Jezebel describes as the “perfect antidote for that crappy EU Science: It’s a Girl Thing! video we all rolled our eyes at a month ago

You can click the link to see the video.

According to their website, the Science Cheerleaders aim to “playfully challenge stereotypes, turn everyone onto science by encouraging participation in citizen science activities, and inspire young women (including 3-4 million U.S. cheerleaders) to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math,” while making the point that, yes, “science is accessible to ALL!”

It’s no secret that women are under-represented in the STEM fields. Just recently, a student (an English major) sat in my office and said she regretted that she hadn’t had a stronger foundation in science in high school and earlier, as she could see that jobs in the STEM field (vs. in journalism) were numerous and well-paying and, even more, seemed interesting. She was well aware of the numerous courses in math, biology, chemistry and physics she had never taken and, two years into her college studies, cannot suddenly change her major and stay beyond her scholarship.

But I do have to agree with Jezebel that

It’s a shame that it takes a team of dancing Disney Princesses to give girls permission to want to enter the fields of science and technology (you can do it because conventionally beautiful women do it!), but it’s also a shame that smart women can’t be pretty, and pretty women can’t be smart.

Why does it even need to be said that “yes, smart women can be pretty!” or “women can both be professional dancers wearing skin-tight spandex-y cleavage revealing outfits AND chemical engineers!”? It shouldn’t be news that women can look good and be smart.

On to some other news of the day, MSNBC is a thing of the past, I like what John Cole has to say about it…Dear Microsoft: Please give us Non-Profit News

We don’t need another source of corporate news online. We certainly don’t need more portals that exploit real news operations like Britain’s The Guardian, which is struggling to stay afloat.

As for MSNBC’s original arena, television news, only 6 major corporations own most broadcast television news outlets in the United States. There has also been alarming concentration of ownership in radio, e.g. Clearchannel, which has boycotted artists for their political views. The situation in television news won’t be better if there are 7 corporations. Corporate-owned news has served us very badly as ownership has become concentrated. This, despite the valiant efforts of many honest journalists and editors, who, however, operate in an extremely unfavorable business environment and are often shunted aside in favor of infotainment and fluff or political misdirection. Much of the pressure comes, not just from the corporate higher-ups, but from the advertisers who pay for the news to be carried on the airwaves. In essence, cornflakes and tampons rent the news for us, but only as they please.

Read the rest at the link. I wonder if we will have to change all our MSNBC blog RSS feeds…hmmm.

This next article is tongue in cheek…I wonder if it is goose tongue?  I love this bit from Jezebel, it is about Steve King, Congressman Thinks Birth Control Is Worse than Animal Cruelty

Iowa Republican Steve King currently fighting to oppose California’s right to regulate eggs from out of state, but he argues against Affordable Care Act on the grounds that the government shouldn’t have the right to tell states what to do. He’s also against letting states outlaw fois gras, and in favor of letting states outlaw birth control. Regulate the shit out of human ovaries but, my god, do not intrude onto the sacred ova of poultry. How did we get here? What in tarnation is going on?

The tea party at it’s hypocritical best:

Rep. Steve King is an unfortunate victim of what’s known as Obama psychosis, a tragic condition affecting thousands of Americans, with no cure in sight. You see, since declaring that the first priority of the 112th Congress was to make sure that Barack Obama was a one term President, conservatives have launched a campaign of NO that might rival that of the most dogged toddlers. They’ve blocked judicial nominations, further inflamed a global economic scare when they threatened to block raising the debt ceiling to make a point about how much they hate spending money, almost shut the government down over Planned Parenthood funding, and fought the Affordable Care Act tooth and nail. It should come as no surprise that in their campaign to stymie the President at every turn, congressional Republicans occasionally opposed issues that turned them into goofy looking hypocrites.

According to ThinkProgress: GOP Congressman: States Can Ban Birth Control, But Not Foie Gras

Californians have recently voted to enact laws banning the sale and production of both eggs from cruelly housed hens and foie gras, a delicacy created by force-feeding ducks. While this may seem within the legal bounds of a state’s ability to regulate local commerce, one Congressman is up in arms about it: Steve King (R, IA). King, despite being one of the most outspoken proponents of states’ rights in Congress, is so convinced that California’s laws violate the Commerce Clause that he pushed through legislation overturning the animal rights acts and similar statutes in other states:

Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican who represents the country’s leading egg-producing state, said he introduced the amendment because the California law and others like it “scrambles and creates a patchwork quilt of state regulations.”

“If California wants to regulate eggs that come into the state, fine,” King said. “But don’t be telling the states that are producing a product that’s already approved by the USDA or the FDA how to produce that product.”

He said that the California requirement violates the commerce clause of the Constitution, which gives the federal government jurisdiction over interstate commerce issues.

King believes the entire Affordable Care Act – not simply the mandate, but the whole law – is an unconstitutional use of federal power under the Commerce Clause. This means that, according to King, any federal regulation of the insurance industry is unconstitutional. King also thinks states can ban contraception. These radical beliefs aren’t a surprise: King adheres to an extreme interpretation of the Tenth Amendment which aims to gut federal power.

So King appears to to think federal regulation of farming is constitutional, but regulation of the health care industry is not. A state ban on birth control is fine, but banning foie gras isn’t.

Of course, King has a perfectly good reason for going against his principles: saving his own skin. King is in the midst of a bruising reelection battle as a consequence of redistricting. The largest industry spending on his behalf is big agribusiness, which isn’t thrilled about California’s laws. King’s home state of Iowa has no standards for ethical caging of egg-producing hens, a fact which was linked to a significant salmonella outbreak in 2010.

Only looking out for his best interest..or should I say his supporters best interest. Back to the Jezebel link, in which King:

wasn’t so keen on federal authority back in February, when he argued that Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court case that determined that it was illegal for states to outlaw contraception and set the privacy groundwork for Roe v. Wade, was a bunch of crap because states have the right to act in ways they see fit. He said,

Why should I care about the conclusions that have been brought forward by the Supreme Court if we can race from 1965, Connecticut having a Tenth Amendment right to establish a policy, a Supreme Court that creates a right to privacy that’s the foundation for mandated abortion, and here were are discussing whether we’re going to mandate everybody in America fund and provide that contraceptives. … Why should I care?

I get it now! States’ Rights means “states” have the “right” to agree with Steve King.

So there you have it — everyone should have the right to interfere with the sale of birth control to women who don’t want to be pregnant, but no one should have the right to violate a woman’s right to force feed a duck until its liver becomes engorged with fat, and then killing the duck and eating the liver.

Would that be served with “Fava Beans, and a nice Chianti?” What An Ass…uh, Rep. Steve King that is…

Hey, speaking of dicks…Jonah Falcon, Man With World’s Largest Penis, Frisked By TSA At California Airport

Turns out it’s legal to have a weapon of mass conception at the airport.

Jonah Falcon was stopped and frisked by the TSA at the San Francisco International Airport on July 9 because of a bulging package hidden in his pants. But the 41-year-old New Yorker wasn’t packing a dirty bomb, drugs or a Costco-sized tube of toothpaste. The New Yorker has the world’s largest recorded penis.

In an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post, Falcon described his hard times with security guards after his extra carry-on became suspect.

“I had my ‘stuff’ strapped to the left. I wasn’t erect at the time,” said Falcon, whose penis is 9 inches flaccid, 13.5 inches erect. “One of the guards asked if my pockets were empty and I said, ‘Yes.’”

Falcon said he knew that his interview was about to get a lot more personal when he was led through one of the X-ray body scanners and passed a metal detector.

“Another guard stopped me and asked me if I had some sort of growth,” Falcon said, laughing.

Indeed he did have a growth.

There are some…er…pictures at the link.

And lastly, this video is fabulous, h/t FDL. Makes the world seem small, a place where we all can enjoy a dance or two…well, except for the folks in Syria who have to have their faces blurred out. Enjoy it:

That’s all folks….stay cool!


Telling the Truth is “Controversial” and “Incendiary” at Politico

Former Politico White House Reporter Joe Williams

This morning, Politico fired their White House Reporter Joe Williams for supposed “incendiary” remarks that he made in an appearance on MSNBC’s Martin Bashir show last week. He had been suspended after complaints from ultra-right-wing outlets Breitbart.com and The Washington Free Beacon.

POLITICO reporter Joe Williams has been suspended pending review of recent controversial comments he made on television and Twitter, POLITICO editors informed staff late Thursday night.

On MSNBC today, Williams made a remark suggesting Mitt Romney was only comfortable around white people. The video was first flagged by conservative website Washington Free Beacon. Breitbart.com ran the video and also flagged a series of tweets Williams had written that made fun of the Republican candidate, particularly in regard to his wealth.

“Regrettably, an unacceptable number of Joe Williams’s public statements on cable and Twitter have called into question his commitment to this responsibility,” POLITICO’s founding editors John Harris and Jim VandeHei wrote in a memo to the staff. “His comment about Governor Romney earlier today on MSNBC fell short of our standards for fairness and judgment in an especially unfortunate way.”

Here is the appearance in question, followed by a transcript of the offending comments:

Transcript:

It’s very interesting that he does so many appearances on “ Fox & Friends .” And it’s unscripted. It’s only time they let Mitt off the leash, so to speak. But it also points out a larger problem he’s got to solve if he wants to be successful come this fall. Romney is very, very comfortable, it seems, with people who are like him. That’s one of the reasons why he seems so stiff and awkward in some town hall settings, why he can’t relate to people other than that. But when he comes on “ Fox & Friends,” they are like him, they’re white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company, so it really is a very stark contrast, I think, and a problem that he has not been able to solve to date, and he’s going to have to network harder if he’s going to try to compete.

Frankly, I have no problems with any of that. I think it’s demonstrably true that Romney is more comfortable with people like himself–whether they’re right-wingers, rich people, or white people. Williams’ tweets are a little more inappropriate. Here’s a collection of them at Breitbart.com. The worst was a retweet of a penis joke about Ann and Mitt.

So what are Politico’s “standards?” Supposedly they want their reporters to be objective and unbiased. Really? The site was founded by two conservatives, John Harris and Jim VandeHei, who were previously at the Washington Post. In my opinion, Politico has a definite Republican slant–in fact I’ve always thought of it as a Republican blog.

I’m not alone in my point of view on this. Here’s TBogg’s characterization of the firing:

The ankle-nippers at Big Dead Andy’s Big Mausoleum of Otherwise Unemployables have claimed another head to be mounted on their wall of Black People We Don’t Like Because They Are Black People. In this case, Joe Williams from the Beltway Daily Racing Form known as Politico

.

This is probably a rude question, but how many black reporters does Politico employ? I’m sure there must be a few, but Williams is was the only one I’m aware of. And Breitbart is now an acceptable arbiter on journalistic ethics? Seriously?

I think it’s understandable that Williams would be thinking in terms of race as well as ideology when he refers to Romney’s comfort level on Fox and Friends. I suppose Fox’s token black guy Juan Williams may occasionally appear on the show, but would Romney even be comfortable with Juan Williams? Remember when he was booed at a Republican debate for asking some questions about Newt Gingrich’s attitudes about poor people and food stamps? I don’t recall Romney protesting the audience’s vile reaction.

At the African American blog NewsOne, Syracuse University Professor Boyce Watkins has a different take on the suspension than Joe Williams’ former bosses at Politico:

[T]here’s a pattern and unfortunately Joe has been affected by it. For the most part, being born a Black man who speaks conscientiously or accurately about issues of race effectively defines you to be a rogue. There isn’t much of a disconnect between the Black man who is stopped and frisked on the street, and the Black male professor/journalist/doctor/lawyer who has his capabilities questioned, even when he does nothing wrong.

Cornel West was a rogue at Harvard for seeking to reengage the black community. I was a trouble maker in elementary school when I answered questions without raising my hand. Barack Obama was defined as a radical leftist by the Republican Party for saying that the wealthy should pay slightly higher taxes. It’s easy for black men to be marginalized very quickly in most mainstream environments, primarily because people are waiting for you to say something that they can define to be volatile or dangerous.

In media, the pattern is quite the same: Just a couple of years ago, Marc Lamont Hill was ambushed by the Right Wing and fired from Fox News for no good reason. After that, Roland Martin was suspended from CNN for making remarks that I personally didn’t agree with, but were acceptable to many millions of African Americans. The consistent and unfortunate reality for many African Americans who work with mainstream (read: White-owned) media organizations is that you must either be a good little boy who goes along with the program or you have to “take your black ass back to the ghetto.” Most of these organizations have little interest in true and meaningful diversity of ideas, they only want to have a black face or two at the table so they can pretend that they are making racial progress.

I’m sure Joe Williams saw the writing on the wall as soon as he was suspended without pay. That’s probably why he went on Current TV on Wednesday, without getting approval from his Politico masters, and spoke honestly once again.

Williams acknowledged to host Bill Press that he made “errors in judgment” but pointedly blamed right wing publications such as The Daily Caller and Breitbart.com for relentlessly reporting on Williams’ purported liberal bias. “Certainly they’re in the business of gathering scalps and we’ve seen it,” he said. He said the story quickly became “about him” rather than what he said. This made him uncomfortable.

After several patronizing attempts by Press to school him on journalistic ethics, Williams said:

“We are paid to observe, but we are not blind.” The host asked if Williams would apologize to Romney. He said if he did that, then “a lot of other people would have to as well.” Further, he said his thoughts on white people are nothing new and that he should not have to apologize: “I probably should have selected my words more carefully. In some people’s minds they were incendiary.”

And finally,

Williams declared that the Washington Press Corps. as a whole has a problem with minority hires and said Politico is no exception.

I’d say he knew he was already gone and had nothing to lose–so why not speak the truth? I’m hoping MSNBC will continue to use Williams as a commentator. He’s far more insightful than hacks like Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe.


Breaking: Keith Olbermann Signs off “Countdown” for the Last Time.

Here is the video of Olberman’s goodbye statement.

The NYT has a banner up saying “Breaking News: MSNBC Says It Has Ended Keith Olbermann’s Contract.”

That’s all I can find so far. My only guess on the reason for the termination is that it has something to do with the NBC/Comcast merger. I will update as I learn more–or anyone else can feel free to update this post.

Terse statement released by MSNBC:

21 Jan 2011 8:02 PM
STATEMENT REGARDING KEITH OLBERMANN

STATEMENT REGARDING KEITH OLBERMANN:

MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC’s success and we wish him well in his future endeavors.

For more information contact:

Jeremy Gaines
e: jeremy.gaines@nbcuni.com

From the NYT Media Decoder blog:

Keith Olbermann, the highest-rated host on MSNBC, announced abruptly on the air Friday night that he is leaving the show immediately.

The host, who has had a stormy relationship with the management of the network for some time, especially since he was suspended for two days last November, came to an agreement with NBC’s corporate management late this week to settle his contract and step down.

In a closing statement on his show, Mr. Olbermann said simply that it would be the last edition of the program. He offered no explanation other than on occasion, the show had become too much for him.

According to the post, Lawrence O’Donnell’s show “The Last Word,” will replace “Countdown” at 8PM. MSNBC’s “settlement with Olbermann will keep him from moving to another network for an extended period of time.” It sounds like this was Olbermann’s idea, but if so, why announce it so suddenly?

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