Romney Campaign, Spoiled Billionaire Donors Actually Believed They Would Win

Mitt Romney with billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson

I’ve been reading some of post-election articles in which the Village pundits try to explain why Mitt Romney lost the election. Apparently Romney and his campaign staff really did think they were going to win. They were even planning an 8-minute fireworks display over Boston Harbor after Romney won!

While the rest of us were absorbing Nate Silver’s predictions and his logical, math-based explanations of the polls, Republicans were making fun of Silver and convincing themselves that Romney voters were more enthusiastic than Obama voters, that polls were sampling the wrong kinds of voters, and that some magical “Romney wave” would sweep them into power.

At the same time, they didn’t understand that their constant race-baiting, their campaign to suppress Democratic voters, and their war on women’s reproductive rights might arouse some anger among the groups they disrespected–anger that could turn into a steely determination to get out and vote no matter how difficult it turned out to be.

In Politico’s summing up, “Romneyworld reckoning begins,” I read these striking paragraphs:

Multiple Romney sources buzzed about one number in particular: 15 percent. According to exit polls, that’s the share of African-Americans who voted in Ohio this year. In 2008, the black percentage of the electorate was 11 percent. In Virginia and Florida, exit polls showed the same share of African-Americans turned out as four years ago, something that GOP turnout models did not anticipate.

“We didn’t think they’d turn out more of their base vote than they did in 2008, but they smoked us,” said one Romney operative. “It’s unbelievable that that they turned out more from the African-American community than in 2008. Somehow they got ‘em to vote.

Gee, maybe African Americans aren’t as dumb, lazy, and shiftless as John Sununu thinks! Maybe they didn’t appreciate Mitt Romney’s repeated dog whistles and his disrespect toward President Obama.

Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic thinks the voter suppression campaign is the main reason Romney lost. Cohen writes:

May I suggest instead a simple, elegant overriding theory on why we won’t have a Romney Administration in 2013? No serious political party in America — no legitimate party in any viable democracy — can win an election by suppressing votes. So long as the Republican Party endorses (and enacts) voting laws designed to make it harder for registered voters to vote, so long as Republican officials like Ohio’s Jon Husted contort themselves to interpret those laws in a restrictive fashion, the Republicans will continue to play a loser’s game.

That’s my theory, anyway, and I’m sticking to it. Having covered for the past two years the voting rights front in this epic election cycle, I have come to believe that the Republicans will begin to win presidential elections again only when they start competing for votes with the substance of their ideas.

At Balloon Juice, Dennis G. reacted to the same section of the Politico article that struck me as so stupid; and he offers anecdotal evidence to support voter suppression reaction argument:

Here is the thing that Team Mitt and Team Wingnut failed to understand: that when you insult folks and dismiss them, they tend to get mad and they tend to want to kick your ass.

Mitt and the Wingnuts have run a four-year campaign that is only a blond hair’s width away from calling the President a nigger every single day. They are focused like a laser beam on promoting white rage and using every dog whistle they can think of to get the message across. White folks heard them and so did people of color. Team Mitt is surprised that African-American turnout increased over 2008, but that is only because they are incapable of thinking of these folks as people.

As I knocked on door after door in a black neighborhood in Columbus, it was clear that folks heard the Mitt/wingnut code-talking and that it pissed them off. They heard the endless disrespect of the President and the general contempt for anybody who is not white that has become the core message of the modern conservative movement. They heard it and they decided to kick Mitt’s ass in the voting booth.

Hey, I’m an old white woman and I was so angered by the race baiting that I was determined to vote against the guy who did it and encouraged it!

 Take a look at what happened in Philadelphia:

In a city where President Obama received more than 85 percent of the votes, in some places he received almost every one. In 13 Philadelphia wards, Obama received 99 percent of the vote or more.

Those wards, many with large African American populations, also swung heavily for Obama over John McCain in 2008. But the difficult economy seemed destined to dampen that enthusiasm four years later.

Not to worry. Ward leaders and voters said they were just as motivated this time.

“In this election, you had to point out to the people what was at stake. And in many cases, they felt that the Romney doctrine was not going to favor the working man,” said Edgar “Sonny” Campbell.

No kidding. But I’d be shocked if a lot of the motivation didn’t come from the poorly disguised racism emanating from Romney and Ryan and their surrogates.

And now let’s turn to those whiny billionaires who thought they could buy the White House and failed miserably. Kevin Roose writes at New York Magazine about a conversation he overheard:

Two months ago, in a dimly lit corner banquette at an exclusive club in the meatpacking district, two well-known billionaires sat down — at a table well within earshot of mine — to have a good bitch about the state of the union.

“The last four years have been a disaster,” said one man, a hedge fund manager who supported President Obama’s 2008 campaign but decided to sit this election out. The primary reason for his disillusionment, he said, was that the country under Obama had grown hostile to wealth, and to those who had accumulated vast amounts of it.

“People work their asses off to get where they are, and they get punished,” he said. “I wanted to fly my friend to Davos this year, and people were like, you’re not going to fly the jet to Davos, are you? How will that look to the Occupy people? I’m like, what the fuck are you talking about? I worked hard for this!”

“It’s a scary reality,” said the other billionaire, once a prominent Democratic donor.

Of course President Obama was extremely friendly to Wall Street during his first term, and the banksters did extremely well while most Americans bore the brunt of the Great Recession that Wall Street caused. But the banksters’ tender feelings were hurt when the President referred to them as “fat cats” and held them responsible for hurting middle- and working-class people.

According to Roose,

Wall Street turned very quickly against Obama, and it made a massive bet that they could put a private equity guy in the White House. The bet turned out to be risky and unhedged — the equivalent of wagering a billion dollars on an exotic derivative that would either triple in value or become totally worthless, with no possible results in the middle….

Backing Romney was a tactical decision, but it was also a psychological one. Under a Romney administration, these donors believed, no longer would they need to hang their heads, hide their jets, and apologize for their success. The social order would be restored, and they could walk proud once more.

What could be more pathetic? These Wall Street titans gambled billions on Romney and got absolutely nothing back. In fact they’ve now lost their leverage over Obama, leaving him free to be even more dismissive of their concerns. Bwaaaaahahahahahahaha!!

Do you ever wonder what effect these self-pitying and self-involved billionaires have on their ultra-privileged offspring? One of them, Peter Brandt II, put on quite a display on election night. The Grio reports that Brandt,

the 18-year-old son of billionaire publisher Peter Brant Sr. and former Victoria’s Secret supermodel Stephanie Seymour [reacted to Obama's reelection by threatening to kill President Obama].

In a series of text messages to his friend Andrew Warren, which were reprinted by Jezebel, Warren whined about how a second Obama term would make him “poor.” Brant II then claimed, “I have a contingency plan. Kill Obama hahaha.”

Brandt was so proud of his “joke,” that he posted the entire text exchange on Instagram.

Here’s a little more of Brandt’s brand [pun intended] of humor, including this delightful tweet:

Harry & Peter Brant@HarryPeterBrant
H:yay Obama and all, but am i the only person who is DYING for Hill DOG to run in 2016! that stylish mullet needs to be in the oval office.
7 Nov 12

Thank goodness the assholes lost this time.


Michael Bloomberg Suggests Elizabeth Warren is a Socialist, Will Bring Back USSR

Michael Bloomberg’s worst nightmare

WTF?! NYC Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg gave an interview to The New York Times on Friday in which he criticized both President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Today, the Caucus blog reports that Bloomberg also had a few choice words for Elizabeth Warren, who is running to unseat Bloomberg’s chosen candidate Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. Check this out:

“What I’ve tried to do is find liberal middle-of-the-road Republicans and Democrats. In the Senate, Scott Brown, who single-handedly stopped the right-to-carry bill. You can question whether he’s too conservative. You can question, in my mind, whether she’s God’s gift to regulation, close the banks and get rid of corporate profits, and we’d all bring socialism back, or the U.S.S.R.

Really? I’d say Bloomberg’s policies are a lot more reminiscent of the Soviet Union than Warren’s, e.g. stop and frisk and his violent crackdown on Occupy Wall Street.

Bloomberg claims he supports Scott Brown because Brown is for gun control.

“The biggest reason the mayor is supporting Senator Brown is the senator’s help on one of our biggest gun issues: opposing concealed-carry reciprocity that would let people with gun permits from rural states like Arkansas and Kentucky carry hidden handguns in New York City,” Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser told the New York Times.

But Scott Brown has an “A” rating with the National Rifle Association, supports concealed carry laws, and opposes bringing back the assault rifle ban. Elizabeth Warren supports most gun control policies and wants to renew the assault weapons ban. I think we all know why Bloomberg supports Senator Brown (R-Wall Street), don’t we.

This is an open thread.


“Occupy Congress?” Now You’re Talking!

According to Greg Sargent, labor and progressive organizations are forming a coalition to “Occupy Congress.”

The coalition — which includes unions like SEIU and CWA and groups like the Center for Community Change — is currently working on a plan to bus thousands of protesters from across the country to Washington, where they will congregate around the Capitol from December 5-9, SEIU president Mary Kay Henry tells me in an interview.

“Thousands of people have signed up to come to Capitol Hill during the first week in December,” Henry says, adding that protesters are invited to make their way to Washington on their own, too. “We’re figuring out buses and transportation now.”

One idea under consideration — pending various permitting and other logistical issues — is to have a series of tents set up on the lawn outside the Capitol, each representing a state, with the number of unemployed in each state prominently displayed. But the optics are still being worked out.

The demands they are talking about aren’t very radical though. They’re planning to pressure Republicans to go along with Obama’s jobs proposal. As Sargent points out, that doesn’t really jibe with the nature of the Occupy movement, which rejects both corporate political parties. But Henry argues that

Occupy Wall Street had created a “framework” — which she described as “we are the 99 percent” — within which such activities would fit comfortably.

“The reason we’re targeting Republicans is because this is about jobs,” she said. “The Republicans’ insistence that no revenue can be put on the table is the reason we’re not creating jobs in this country. We want to draw a stark contrast between a party that wants to scapegoat immigrants, attack public workers, and protect the rich, versus a president who has been saying he wants America to get back to work and that everybody should pay their fair share.”

It’s a start, and the SEIU may not be able to control the message if lots of people with more creative ideas show up to the protests.

In line with the influence of the Occupy actions on the mainstream types, I clicked on a Google news link to the conservative Washington Times that read “Occupy Wall Street: What should be done with the protesters?” I expected to find a screed encouraging law enforcement to crush the protesters. Imagine my surprise when I read this instead:

As irritating or disruptive as some may find the Occupiers, they are the conscience of America, like it or not. Their very physical presence is a reminder that the decline of America happened not because they didn’t believe in the American dream, but because the greed of Wall Street and the banks stole that dream.

Yet our government continues to reward the top 1% with corporate welfare and the lowest taxes in more than 50 years. And Congress, which made that largesse to the wealthy possible, is in the pockets of those very same people and their lobbyists.

Yes, the protesters are predominately young, unemployed, maybe even scruffy, and, yes, the homeless have found a haven and free meals with them, and, yes, the Occupiers’ persistence after more than two months is like a mote in our eye, reminding us all that we can no longer do business as usual.

The fact that OWS sites have sprung up across the country and now the world has prompted us to face ourselves. We can no longer ignore the joblessness and poverty that scars our great country. It is not an abstract concept, some numbers on a bean counters’ balance sheet. It’s real. It’s people. It’s your kids and mine. It’s returning vets who find themselves on the scrap heap of our economy.

Holy sh&t! Can you believe it? Could it be that change is really happening?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!

You know the Occupy Movement is having an effect when the propaganda patrol starts trying to pin the “TERRORIST” label on them. From Politico:

If confirmed, this will likely be a much, much bigger image problem than the reports of crime in Occupy encampments:

Authorities suspect [Oscar Ramiro] Ortega-Hernandez] had been in the area for weeks, coming back and forth to the Washington Mall. Before the shooting, he was detained by local police at an abandoned house. U.S. Park Police say Ortega-Hernandez may have spent time with Occupy D.C. protesters.

Ooops! In an update, Politico has to take it back–it turns out authorities couldn’t find a connection. But you just know they’re going to keep trying. And ABC News reported it. Lots of people will take that as gospel and never hear that it wasn’t true.

However a GOP campus leader at the University of Texas Austin responded on Twitter to the news of shots fired at the White House.

Hours after Pennsylvania State Police arrested a 21-year-old Idaho man for allegedly firing a semi-automatic rifle at the White House, the top student official for the College Republicans at the University of Texas tweeted that the idea of assassinating President Obama was “tempting.”

At 2:29 p.m. ET, UT’s Lauren E. Pierce wrote: “Y’all as tempting as it may be, don’t shoot Obama. We need him to go down in history as the WORST president we’ve EVER had! #2012.”

Pierce, the president of the College Republicans at UT Austin, told ABC News the comment was a “joke” and that the “whole [shooting incident] was stupid.” Giggling, she said that an attempted assassination would “only make the situation worse.”

Tee hee hee… this is the future of the GOP?

Maxine Waters is still number one voice of reason in Washington DC. When the propaganda merchants tried to get her to say something disparaging about OWS, here’s how she handled it.

When asked to comment Wednesday about the deaths and crimes that have occurred around Occupy protests being held across the country, Rep. Maxine Waters said “that’s life and it happens.”

“That’s a distraction from the goals of the protesters,” Waters, who says she supports the Occupy movement, told CNSNews.com after an event at the Capitol sponsored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

I love that woman!

“Let me just say this: Anytime you have a gathering, homeless people are going to show up,” said Waters. “They will find some comfort in having some other people out on the streets with them. They’re looking for food. Often times, the criminal element will invade. That’s life and it happens, whether it’s with protesters or other efforts that go on in this country.

“So I’m not deterred in my support for them because of these negative kinds of things,” said Waters. “I just want them to work at doing the best job that they can do to bring attention to this economic crisis and the unfairness of the system at this time.”

Way to go, Maxine!

In contrast, Republican ratf^^ker Karl Rove isn’t quite so mature. He really lost his cool on Tuesday night when he was targeted by Occupy protesters and ended up acting pretty childish.

Former Bush political adviser Karl Rove seemed a bit flustered Tuesday night after his speech to Johns Hopkins University was interrupted by a group of about 15 protesters connected to “Occupy Baltimore,” who got under his skin enough to get him cursing.

As he spoke about public debt and attempted to pin America’s economic pain on the Obama administration, a woman shouted out, “Mic check?”

A chorus of voices replied, “Mic check!”

“Karl Rove! Is the architect!” they shouted. “The architect of Occupy Iraq! The architect of Occupy Afghanistan!”

“Here’s the deal,” he replied. “If you believe in free speech then you had a chance to show it.”

“If you believe in right of the First Amendment to free speech then you demonstrate it by shutting up and waiting until the Q & A session right after,” Rove trailed off as supporters applauded.

“You can go ahead and stand in line and have the courage to ask any damn question you want, or you can continue to show that you are a buffoon…” he said, as the group of protesters descended into random shouting. One woman called him a “murderer, ” while others chanted, “We are the 99 percent!”

“No you’re not!” Rove replied, chanting it back at them. “No you’re not! No you’re not! No you’re not!”

Gee, that was fun to watch.

Not that any of the European elites will listen, but Brad Plummer at Wonkbook talked to a number of experts and came to the conclusion that the whole story about it not being legal for the ECB to rescue the European financial system is a bunch of hooey.

European officials keep insisting that the ECB isn’t legally allowed to play savior. On Tuesday, the head of Germany’s Bundesbank called it a violation of European law. The Wall Street Journal argued Wednesday that the European Union’s founding treaty would need to be revamped before the ECB could act as a lender of last resort to countries like Italy. So is this true? Could Europe really melt down because of a few legal niceties?

Not really, say experts. It’s true that the Treaty of Lisbon expressly forbids the European Central Bank from buying up debt instruments directly from countries like Italy and Spain. But, says Richard Portes of the London Business School, there’s nothing to prevent the central bank from buying up Italian and Spanish bonds on the secondary market from other investors.

“If that’s illegal, then officials should already be in jail,” says Portes. “Because they’ve been doing it sporadically since May of 2010.” The problem is that the bank’s current erratic purchases only seem to be creating more uncertainty in the market. “Right now,” says Portes, “nobody’s buying in that market except the ECB.”

Instead, what many experts want the European Central Bank to do is to pledge, loudly and clearly, that it will buy up bonds on the secondary market until, say, Italy’s borrowing costs come down to manageable levels. In theory, says Portes, the central bank wouldn’t even have to make many purchases after that, because expectations would shift and become self-fulfilling. In the near term, investors would stop worrying about whether they’d be repaid for loaning money to countries like Italy, and Italy’s borrowing costs would drop — giving it room to figure out its debt woes. (Granted, that latter step is a daunting task.)

But as Dakinikat wrote a couple of days ago, we’ll probably just have to wait and see what happens when the psychopaths in charge do exactly the opposite of what they should do.

The New York Times has a story this morning about Obama’s commitment of troops to Australia: U.S. Expands Military Ties to Australia, Irritating China.

CANBERRA, Australia — President Obama announced Wednesday that the United States planned to deploy 2,500 Marines in Australia to shore up alliances in Asia, but the move prompted a sharp response from Beijing, which accused Mr. Obama of escalating military tensions in the region.

The agreement with Australia amounts to the first long-term expansion of the American military’s presence in the Pacific since the end of the Vietnam War. It comes despite budget cuts facing the Pentagon and an increasingly worried reaction from Chinese leaders, who have argued that the United States is seeking to encircle China militarily and economically.

“It may not be quite appropriate to intensify and expand military alliances and may not be in the interest of countries within this region,” Liu Weimin, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in response to the announcement by Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia.

Attention Nobel committee: Isn’t it about time to rescind that Peace Prize?

OK, that’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Can Banksters be Shamed–or at Least Influenced–by Public Opinion?

It sure looks that way. From the Wall Street Journal:

Bank of America Corp. is dropping its plan to charge customers $5 a month for making purchases with their debit cards, a person familiar with the situation said.

The move is a dramatic retreat following decisions by several rivals in recent days to drop customer tests of the new fees. SunTrust Banks Inc. and Regions Financial Corp. also said Monday that they will stop charging customers for debit-card transactions.

Bank of America decided against the fees due to negative customer feedback on the plan and the moves by rivals, which left the Charlotte, N.C., lender as the only big bank planning to levy the fee on some customers next year.

According to Bloomberg, BofA CEO David Darnell claims the bank just “listened” to customers.

“We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” David Darnell, co-chief operating officer, said in a statement from the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender today. “As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.”

Darnell wants us to believe that he had no clue that customers would be angry at being charged for accessing their own money. But actually, he apparently paid more attention to what his competitors were doing.

Bank of America reversed course after competitors including Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), the No. 2 debit-card issuer, decided not to charge similar fees. Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks Inc. (STI) and Regions Financial Corp., based in Birmingham, Alabama, said yesterday they will eliminate their check-card fees after customers rebelled.

At least it’s a small win for the 99%. And I’m sure the banks were paying close attention to the Occupy Movement too, even if they’ll never admit it.


Late Night: Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie at Occupation Columbus Circle

The Daily Beast:

If Fox News didn’t think Occupy Wall Street protesters are just a bunch of hippies already, this sure won’t help. Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie were the latest celebrities to join the 99%, treating the crowd to a spontaneous folk performance Friday night near New York’s Columbus Circle.

F**k Fox News!

92-Year-Old Folk Legend Lends His Voice to ‘Occupy’

On Friday night, over a month since the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests began as a small gathering of people so small that there was a virtual media blackout, Pete Seeger emerged from a show he had been performing on New York City’s Upper West Side to join in the protests.

There have been many musicians and celebrities who have thrown their weight behind these protesters, but the 92-year-old folk legend gives these young Americans a new sense of hope and rejuvenation. In the 1960s, he established himself as a prominent protest singer, bringing awareness to causes such as civil rights, international disarmament and the environment.

Seeger, who was wearing a red cap and carrying two canes, was joined a crowd of 600 as they headed south towards Columbus Circle (some 30 blocks away) starting from Symphony Space on 95th and Broadway. On both sides, Seeger was flanked by people carrying placards reading “Lost my job, found an occupation,” and “Corporate greed is revolution’s seed.”

The crowd resembled that of an earlier decade, as they sang “Down by the Riverside,” and “We Shall Not Be Moved,” and [Woody]Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”

The audio and video aren’t that great, but it’s the revolutionary spirit that counts.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! I’ve got some widely disparate reading material for you today. I’ll begin with some articles related to the growing Occupy movement.

The New York Review of Books has posted an depth piece (just about all their articles are long and in-depth) by Michael Greenberg about Occupy Wall Street. I won’t try to excerpt from it, but think the article is a useful summary of the history of the movement and the author’s conversations with the organizers and protesters.

Raw Story has an interview with Chris Hedges: ‘Corporations have carried out a coup d’état in my country.’ Here’s some of what Hedges had to say:

“I spent 20 years overseas, I’m a war correspondent,” he said. “I came back and realized that corporations have carried out a coup d’état in my country.”

“I covered the street demonstrations that brought down Milošević, I’ve covered both of the Palestinian intifadas, and once movements like this start and articulate a fundamental truth about the society that they live in, and expose the repression, the mendacity, the corruption and the decay of structures of power, then they have a kind of centrifugal force, you never know where they’re going.” ….

“What happens, and it’s true in all of these movements as well, is the foot soldiers of the elite, the blue uniform police, the mechanisms of control, finally don’t want to impede the movement. At that point, the power elite is left defenseless. So, where’s it going? No one knows. Even the people most intimately involved in the organization don’t know. All of these movements take on a kind of life and color that in some ways is finally mysterious. The only thing I can say, having been in the middle of similar movements, is that this one is real … And this one could take ‘em all down.”

That’s quite a recommendation from a genuine radical.

It appears that the administration is getting nervous about what kinds of protests they might see at the Democratic Convention next year. The Charlotte Police are currently being trained to handle riot control, and the equipment and training are being paid for by the Federal Government.

Almost every one of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s 1,700 officers are going through three days of intensive riot training. Police allowed Channel 9 a behind-the-scenes look at how they’re doing it.

“It’s a very controlled, measured response with a lot of practice,” Deputy Chief Harold Medlock said….

It’s all very carefully choreographed. There’s a reason, for example, why they would move half a step at a time toward a group of protesters.

“The point of some of the tactics and the maneuvers that we use is to allow folks to have the time to do what we’re asking them to do,” Medlock said.

Chanting is part of the plan, too.

“We want them to hear us as we move and do the things that we need to do, so you’ll hear a lot of verbalization from our officers and one of the things you’ll hear is, ‘Move back!’” Medlock said.

Apparently the riot training will also prepare police to deal with Occupation Charlotte.

Just another day in Police State America….

I’ve been watching a lot of Criminal Minds reruns while I’ve been sick recently. Tonight after I watched a couple of episodes, I came across this story from Philadelphia that could have come from that show. It seems too horrible to be real, but it is. Over the weekend four disabled people were found confined in a “dungeon.” Police suspect that the perpetrators were kidnapping disabled children and adults and keeping them locked up in order to collect their disability checks.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said that wounds found on Beatrice Weston — the 19-year-old niece of the alleged ringleader of the operation, Linda Ann Weston — were the worst he had ever seen on a person who was still alive.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in a living person,” Ramsey said. “It’s remarkable that she is still alive. There is no penalty that is too harsh for the people that did this.”

Beatrice Weston, who had been reported missing in 2009, suffered wounds that included healed-over fractures, pellet gun wounds, and burns from heated spoons. Beatrice was also malnourished.

“The word horrific is not sufficient,” Ramsey said.

Ten children and teens were taken into protective custody Tuesday night, ranging in age from 2 to 19, reportedly near the apartment building in Philadelphia’s Tacony neighborhood, where the four original victims were discovered Saturday morning.

Authorities say there may be 50 more victims in the case, based on documents taken from Linda Ann Weston when she was arrested.

Hispanic voters may be angry with President Obama for deporting so many people, but the Republican candidates aren’t exactly endearing themselves to immigrants either.

Today, Republican candidates are competing over who can talk the toughest about illegal immigration — who will erect the most impenetrable border defense; who will turn off “magnets” like college tuition benefits.

But after such pointed proposals heated up yet another Republican debate, on Tuesday night, some party officials see a yellow light signaling danger in battleground states with large Hispanic populations in November 2012. Will Hispanic voters remember and punish the eventual Republican nominee?

“The discussion of creating electrified fences from sea to sea is neither prudent nor helpful,” said Ryan Call, chairman of the Republican Party of Colorado, where Hispanics cast 13 percent of votes in 2008 and helped President Obama flip the state to blue. “They’re throwing red meat around in an attempt to mollify a particular aspect of the Republican base.”

You’d think with all the awful problems facing this country, the Republicans could find better issues to run on than picking on undocumented immigrants and pregnant women.

The NYT editorial board has this to say about the cruel new anti-immigrant law in Alabama that Minkoff Minx has written a great deal about.

Alabama’s new anti-immigrant law, the nation’s harshest, went into effect last month…., and it is already reaping a bitter harvest of dislocation and fear. Hispanic homes are emptying, businesses are closing, employers are wondering where their workers have gone. Parents who have not yet figured out where to go are lying low and keeping children home from school.

To the law’s architects and supporters, this is excellent news. “You’re encouraging people to comply with the law on their own,” said Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, who has a side career of drafting extremist immigration legislation for states and cities, notoriously in Arizona and now in Alabama.

Alabama’s law is the biggest test yet for “attrition through enforcement,” a strategy espoused by Mr. Kobach and others to drive away large numbers of illegal immigrants without the hassle and expense of a police-state roundup. All you have to do, they say, is make life hard enough and immigrants will leave on their own. In such a scheme, panic and fear are a plus; suffering is the point.

The pain isn’t felt just by the undocumented. Legal immigrants and native-born Alabamans who happen to be or look Hispanic are now far more vulnerable to officially sanctioned harassment. Many of those children being kept home from school by frightened parents are born and bred Americans.

More evidence that American is becoming a police state.

Here a little good news for a change: New Jersey Sen. Lautenberg says it’s time for a new WPA

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) isn’t taking last week’s failure to pass President Obama’s jobs package lying down. Instead, he’s got a bolder plan in mind: create a new Works Progress Administration.

“It’s apparent that there’s a lot of need out there, and it’s apparent that there’s a lot of works out there,” he told Raw Story in an exclusive interview. “We’ve got millions of people looking for work,” he added, and his plan has “the immediacy factor” that other plans — including the President’s — lacks….

Lautenberg’s legislation, called the 21st Century WPA Act, wouldn’t be exactly like the WPA that gave Lautenberg’s own father a job during the Great Depression. Rather, it would award funding to projects that would give jobs to people unemployed for more than 60 days; have a continued economic benefit after their completion; and would devote a “high” portion of each dollar spent to employee pay. The legislation suggests — but does not limit departments to — a variety of projects, including the construction of water treatment plants, schools and firehouses, highway repairs and maintenance, building weatherization and trail maintenance.

It probably won’t get past the Republican House, but good for Senator Lautenberg for trying.

I’m going to end this post with a unique depiction of the mind of a Wall Street titan.

That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?