Evening Reads: Thank the Gawds, Tomorrow is Tuesday!

Good Evening

I am so sick of the ads, the lies, and the voter suppression…voter disenfranchisement, and voter intimidation. We are well on our way to Fascism, and no one can tell me any different! Mutthafukkin’ GOP.

I have plenty of links for you tonight, so I will make them quick.

First I have a few updates on stories we have mentioned earlier today.

Voter intimidation is real: Pennsylvania GOP accused of planning voter intimidation

The Philadelphia City Paper reported today that The Advancement Project, American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh United, along with other organizations, undersigned a letter asking the Justice Department to ensure voters in targeted locations are able to cast their ballots fairly.

“We have received information that strongly suggests the Republican Party, under the guise of combating alleged voter fraud, has assigned Election Day poll watchers disproportionately to majority African-American precincts in Allegheny County,” the organizations write.

According to the letter, the targeted precincts have over 79 percent of African-American registered voters, compared to non-targeted areas with less than 11 percent.

“The Pennsylvania Republican Party has serious questions to answer about where they are putting their poll watchers and why,” Nicole Berner, Associate General of Service Employees International Union, said in a statement.

A bit of info on that claim that Romney has paid no taxes for years is making news at Addicting Info: Dutch Source Confirms – Romney Paid ZERO Taxes

New documents released by the newspaper Volkskrant from the Netherlands yesterday detail how Mitt Romney took advantage, through his former firm, of a 9-figure tax loophole. When he retired in 1999, his golden parachute enabled him to operate as a company manager and executive, for purposes of investment, for 10 years. And so began Romney’s direct use of the “Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich” tax avoidance scheme…

Copies of the Bain docs at the link.

There are lots of state amendments that Dakinikat mentioned this morning, here are some thoughts via The Volokh Conspiracy » Some Key Referenda to Watch

As we get ready for a very important election day tomorrow, there are stories out of California that may get ignored in the shuffle: California Agency Releases Evidence of Money Laundering in Right-Wing Campaign Spending on Ballot Measures

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission forced a mysterious $11 million donor to two ballot measures to reveal its secret funding sources today, and the result showed how most of these independent expenditure groups work, mostly through money laundering:

Ending a mystery that captivated the run-up to Election Day, the Arizona group behind an anonymous $11 million donation revealed under court order today that the shadowy donation was laundered through two groups, including one tied to David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who have played a huge role in spreading anonymous political cash around the country.

The donation, the largest anonymous contribution to a ballot measure campaign in California history, was made to the Small Business Action Committee, a conservative group running a campaign for Proposition 32, the measure that would curb labor’s ability to collect political cash, and against Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-hike initiative.

“This isn’t going to stop here,” said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, the state’s political watchdog. “They admitted to money laundering. We agreed to do this without an audit because we wanted to get information to the public before the election. But we in no way agreed this would preclude further action.”

Ravel said Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership conceded it was the intermediary and not the true source of the contribution. The true source was Americans for Job Security and was made through a second intermediary, the Center to Protect Patient Rights, she said.

Americans for Job Security was both active in the 2010 election cycle. They are a corporate front group which received initial funding from the insurance industry. And the Center to Protect Patient Rights is run by a Koch Brothers operative, Sean Noble, who admitted the money laundering to the FPPC. This is a misdemeanor under California law, but conspiracy to commit money laundering is a felony.

Earlier today Kurt Eichenwald tweeted this:

To which I responded:

When are you going to give those Koch Bros the @Kurteinchenwald treatment? Write a book and bring em down.

He actually replied back to me…unfortunately…he said:

Not really my kind of thing. My books are narratives. That wouldnt be.

Damn. I know he uses public records and sources after the fact, but the Koch Bros need to be taken down.

The rest of the links tonight are in link dump fashion…

Katrina vanden Heuvel: FDR and the fight to defend our freedom – The Washington Post

Florida Wants to Make History Majors Pay More for College Than Math Majors | Medieval News

10 Most Absurd Moments of the 2012 Campaign | Alternet

A Tale of Two “Seinfeld” Bosses (…and Campaign Cash) | Mother Jones

Take a look at this tumblr, it is like a postcard from NOLA to New York

And lastly, this video from Chris Rock, its been mentioned on Sky D before, but I had to end this post with some kind of laughter.


Friday Late Nite Lite: Real late night…

Good Late Night!

I don’t know about y’all, but Wednesday just can’t come fast enough. I am so sick of this election and hope that once it is all over, I will never have to see Mitt’s face (and that smirk) ever again.

Anyway, its cartoon time!

Voter Fraud Squad – Political Cartoon by Monte Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons, Inc. – 10/29/2012

Cartoon by Monte Wolverton - Voter Fraud Squad

Many Republicans want to criminalize abortion even in cases of rape – Political Cartoon by Kate Palmer, @katespalmer – 10/29/2012

Cartoon by Kate Palmer - Many Republicans want to criminalize abortion even in cases of rape

Halloween Costume – Truthdig

Republican God – Truthdig

BBQ on Women – Truthdig

11/1 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Bucket list | Mike Luckovich

110112-toon-luckovich-ed

11/2 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Gov. Christie | Mike Luckovich

110212-toon-luckovich-ed

Bipartisanship – Political Cartoon by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News – 11/02/2012

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Bipartisanship

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle – 11/02/2012

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle – 11/01/2012

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 11/02/2012

Cartoon by David Horsey -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson, Philadelphia Daily News – 11/02/2012

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Paul Fell, Artizans Syndicate – 11/02/2012

Cartoon by Paul Fell -

This is an open thread of course, what y’all doing tonight?


Monday Reads


Good Morning!

Nate Silver continues to be the best source of poll analysis during this endless presidential campaign season.  The Romney path to electoral victory is still pretty nonexistent even if he did give them the old razzle dazzle in Denver last week. I guess the Romney Lie Fest got less of a bump than the usual challenger victory in the first debate.

A 3-point gain for Mr. Romney would be consistent with what candidates received following some of the stronger debate performances in the past. It would also make the national race very close. The FiveThirtyEight “now-cast” had Mr. Obama ahead by an average of about 4.5 percentage points between the conventions and the debate. (This is higher than the average result from the national tracking polls alone, which have been a pinch less favorable to Mr. Obama on balance than the broader consensus of surveys.) A 3-point gain for Mr. Romney would imply that Mr. Obama’s advantage is now only 1 or 2 points, putting Mr. Romney well within striking distance depending on how well the rest of the campaign goes for him and how accurate the polls turn out to be.

However, the fact that Mr. Romney did not make further gains in the polls on Sunday can be read as mildly disappointing for him. The way tracking polls work is to replace the oldest day of interviews with fresh interviews conducted the previous day. In the Sunday release of the polls, this meant that interviews from Saturday were replacing a day of interviewing from before the debate. The fact that the Saturday interviews that entered the polls were roughly as strong for Mr. Obama as the predebate day of interviews that they displaced is an encouraging sign for Mr. Obama — at least as compared with most of the polling news that he has received since the debate.

There’s an interesting article on voter fraud in Washington Monthly.  Interestingly enough, the focus is on mail-in ballots which weren’t a focus in any of the voter restriction laws that were passed this year primarily because they frequently favor republicans. There’s actual research now that shows that voter ID laws are likely to increase fraud.

What do forged absentee ballots and vote-buying have in common? They occur more often than in-person impersonation (which is virtually non-existent) and are unaffected by voter ID laws. What’s more, states like Florida and Texas, which recently enacted legislation making it harder to vote in most respects (laws currently being challenged by the courts and the DOJ) feature no-excuse absentee voting, making it easier to commit fraud that way. As Liptak explains, that’s probably no coincidence: “Republicans are in fact more likely than Democrats to vote absentee. In the 2008 general election in Florida, 47 percent of absentee voters were Republicans and 36 percent were Democrats.” (Liptak adds: “Voters in nursing homes can be subjected to subtle pressure, outright intimidation or fraud.”)

The moral of Liptak and Fahrenthold’s stories is this: people just aren’t willing to commit a felony to vote in someone’s place—the only kind of fraud ID laws target. Rather, politicians themselves usually commit the fraud, by forging absentee ballots or paying people to vote for them. In addition, when states enact restrictive voter ID laws, it only encourages them to vote by mail, where errors and corruption is more rife.

I haven’t had any references to good graphs recently so I thought I’d link you to this Chart Book that shows you how serious the Great Recession actually was from CBPP.  It also shows how much worse the economy would have been without stimulus.  Can you image how much better we could be by now if the Republicans hadn’t gotten in and blocked more efforts to improve the economy?

The Recovery Act was designed to boost the demand for goods and services above what it otherwise would be in order to preserve jobs in the recession and create them in the recovery. The Congressional Budget Office finds that GDP has been higher each year since 2009 than it would have been without the Recovery Act (with the largest impact in 2010 when GDP was between 0.7 and 4.1 percent higher than it otherwise would have been). The economy is still benefiting from the Recovery Act in 2012, although as expected that effect is diminishing as the economy grows; CBO estimates that GDP in the third quarter of 2012 will be between 0.1 and 0.7 percent larger than it would have been without the Recovery Act.

Again, congress appeared absolutely unconcerned about this devastating economic event.  WAPO indicates there’s a good reason.  Most of them actually got richer or were immune from its impact.

The wealthiest one-third of lawmakers were largely immune from the Great Recession, taking the fewest financial hits and watching their investments quickly recover and rise to new heights. But more than 20 percent of the members of the curren tCongress — 121 lawmakers — appeared to be worse off in 2010 than they had been six years earlier, and 24 saw their reported wealth slide into negative territory.

Those findings emerge from an ongoing examination of congressional finances by The Washington Post, which analyzed thousands of financial disclosure forms and public records for all members of Congress.

Most members weathered the financial crisis better than the average American, who saw median household net worth drop 39 percent from 2007 to 2010. The median estimated wealth of members of the current Congress rose 5 percent during the same period, according to their reported assets and liabilities. The wealthiest one-third of Congress gained 14 percent.

In one last piece of news, Chavez has won re-election in Venezuela.

Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez won re-election in on Sunday, quashing the opposition’s best bet at unseating him in 14 years and cementing himself as a dominant figure in modern Latin American history.

The 58-year-old Chavez took 54.42 percent of the vote, with 90 percent of the ballots counted, to 44.97 percent for young opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, official results showed.

Chavez’s victory would extend his rule of the OPEC member state to two decades, though he is recovering from cancer and the possibility of a recurrence hangs over his political future.

Jubilant supporters poured onto the streets of Caracas to celebrate the victory of a man who has near-Messianic status among Venezuela’s poor, and there was relief too among leftist allies around the region – from Cubato Bolivia – who rely on his oil-financed generosity.

“I’m celebrating with a big heart,” said Mary Reina, a 62-year-old Chavez supporter who lives in the hillside slum where the president cast his vote. “Chavez is the hope of the people and of Latin America.”

So, it looks like US conservatives have one more bogey man still standing.  Meanwhile, Citizens United has opened up a whole new dimension in corporate donations to candidates.  Is this really legal?

A million-dollar donation by a foreign-owned corporation to a Republican super-PAC has raised legal concerns and opened up the controversial Citizens United Supreme Court decision to new criticism.
Restore Our Future, the super-PAC supporting Republican Mitt Romney’s run for president, received a $1 million donation in mid-August from reinsurance company OdysseyRe of Connecticut, a “wholly-owned subsidiary” of Canadian insurance and investment management giant Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited.

Fairfax Financial’s founder is Indian-born V. Prem Watsa. Watsa serves as CEO and chairman and owns or controls 45 percent of the company’s shares. He is also the chairman of the board of OdysseyRe, the American subsidiary.

The law says that any foreign national is prohibited from “directly or indirectly” contributing money to influence US elections. That means no campaign donations, no donations to super-PACs, and no funding of political advertisements.

But campaign finance law is not as clear for US subsidiaries of foreign companies as it is for individuals.

Most of the regulations on political spending by subsidiaries of foreign companies were written before corporations were legally allowed to fund political advertisements or donate to super-PACs. And Republican members of the Federal Election Commission have thwarted the implementation of new rules regarding the practice.

With that, I will turn it over to you.   What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads

Good Morning!!

You want a good laugh?  You know how all those Wall Street Banks keep giving bonuses to people that crashed the economy and forced tax payers to bail out their bad investment decisions? How about this one for size?  Romney campaign gives bonuses to top staff. Ever notice how bonuses–which are usually said to be for merit pay–always look more like gifts from slush funds?  Yup, he can’t afford media buys, but he can shower his incompetent staff with big money.

Mitt Romney’s campaign handed out $112,500 in bonuses to four of its top staffers, according to new disclosure records filed Thursday.

Richard Beeson, Romney’s national political director, received a $37,500 payment on Aug. 31, in addition to his monthly salary of $13,750, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

In addition, campaign manager Matt Rhoades, policy advisor Lanhee Chen and communications director Gail Gitcho each received $25,000 payments on the same date, filings show. The trio are also paid at the same rate as Beeson, which works out to an annual equivalent of $165,000.

A Romney spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the payments Thursday.

The bonuses came the day after Romney formally accepted the Republican presidential nomination at the party’s convention in Tampa. Despite strong fundraising since May, new records show that the campaign was struggling badly for money in August because it had run low on primary funds and was unable to tap into contributions collected for the general election until after the nomination. Instead, the campaign borrowed $20 million.

Records show that the campaign still owed $15 million of a $20 million loan from the Bank of Georgetown on Aug. 31. The campaign has since paid off another $4 million of the total by collecting new contributions for its primary account, officials have said.

Romney’s failure to match President Obama’s campaign in television advertising, along with worsening polling numbers and a series of missteps, have prompted grousing among political strategists about the Republican nominee’s campaign and senior staff. Former Ronald Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan called Romney’s operation “incompetent” in a widely read column earlier this week.

This is what’s called making sure your staff doesn’t abandon you even if they are really bad at their jobs.  Just imagine what he’d do with the federal deficit!

The Princeton Election Consortium believes that Republicans are at risk of losing the House now.  This is good news for those of us that are tired of seeing continual attacks on Planned Parenthood, abortion rights, voting rights,and healthcare reform instead of anything else.

Conditions through August showed a 2% lead on the generic Congressional ballot for Democrats. As of September 20th, in the wake of the Democratic convention, the lead has widened to 4.0 +/- 2.0%. Although it has yet to be appreciated by pundits, this could well translate to a November loss of the House of Representatives by Republicans. Based on the generic Congressional ballot, the probability of a Democratic takeover is 74% with a median 16-seat majority. Whichever party is in control, the seat margin is headed for being narrower than the current Congress. Like any probability in the 20-80% range, this is a knife-edge situation. This picture may change over the coming six weeks as more information, especially district-level polls, becomes available.

As seen in recent articles in Politico and U.S. News, few pundits think the Democrats will re-take the House. However, analysis of a leading indicator suggests to me that transfer of control is a distinct possibility.

Predicting the House outcome is challenging. First, there is the basic problem that we have to estimate how far opinion will move between now and November. On top of that, there is uncertainty in knowing how the polling measurement – generic Congressional ballot preference – translates to a seat outcome.

Here’s more information on  how the folks that should be insulted by Romney’s 47% comment don’t know it’s a comment that applies to them. 

It’s been widely observed that Mitt Romney’s attacks on Obama over Medicare, welfare, dependency and “redistribution” are about driving up Romney’s share of working class white support. Romney — who may need two thirds of that vote to win — is arguing that Obama isn’t really looking out for their interests and wants to redistribute their hard-earned money and medical benefits to those other people.

So today’s report on white working class Americans from the Public Religion Research Institute is a must read. It defines them as ”non-Hispanic white Americans without a four-year college degree who hold non-salaried jobs, and make up one third (36 percent of all Americans,” and it sheds light on what all this stuff is all about.

On “dependency,” the study finds that large numbers of working class whites (46 percent) have received Social Security or disability payments over the last two years; more than a fifth have received food stamps; 19% have received unemployment.

Yet the study also finds that three quarters of working class whites believe poor people have become too dependent on government assistance. There’s obviously overlap there, which bears out what some have already pointed out — many of these voters simply won’t think Romney’s comments about the freeloading 47 percent, or about government “dependency” in general, are about them.

But the findings on “redistribution” are also revealing. White working class voters want to soak the rich, and they agree with key aspects of Obama’s views about capitalism and inequality.

Here’s Sarah Silverman on one of my pet peeves this year.

Comedian Sarah Silverman’s has a new video saying exactly what she thinks of the GOP effort to suppress Democratic votes with their new voter ID laws. Take a few minutes to watch it. Make it a viral hit.

And then make sure your voter registration is up to date. If you moved since you last voted, you need to update your address before your state’s registration deadline. In Florida, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Nevada, that’s two weeks away.

Here’s some new information on how women still face a stubborn wage gap.

The gap between women’s and men’s pay remained about the same for the fourth straight year in 2011, as both genders got slammed by lower wages.

Women earned 77 cents for every dollar a man earned in 2011, the Census Bureau said this week as part of its extensive annual report on income and poverty.

The female-to-male earnings ratio for full-time workers has been little changed for four years, after hitting a record high of 78 percent in 2007.

Experts say the latest figures show that women aren’t making significant gains in terms of earning power – but men aren’t either.

“It’s not that gap is not closing,” said Katherine Gallagher Robbins, senior policy analyst with the National Women’s Law Center. “It’s that wages are sort of flattening.”

For men who work full-time and year-round, inflation-adjusted median earnings fell about 2.5 percent between 2010 and 2011, to $48,202, according to the Census Bureau. For women working full-time, the median, or midpoint, of annual earnings also fell by about 2.5 percent, to $37,118.

Dahlia Lithwick writes in October’s The Nation on  “One Nation by and for the Corporation”.

But how does one measure the ways big business is faring at the Roberts Court, and whether it’s happening at the expense of ordinary citizens? We can start with a study in late June by the Constitutional Accountability Center showing that the US Chamber of Commerce, the powerhouse business lobbying group, had seven straight wins this past term at the Court—a vastly better record than it had during other recent periods of stability in the Court’s membership. When Lewis Powell wrote his famous 1971 memorandum urging the Chamber to press its agenda in the courts, in academia and in the media to give the business community a larger and more unified voice in the legal system and society at large, he could hardly have dreamed of the gains made by the Chamber and other pro-corporate entities in the decades since [see William Yeomans, “How the Right Packed the Court”].

Another measure of the Supreme Court’s favoritism for corporations over ordinary people lies in the ways it has eroded access to the courts for ordinary litigants in recent years. It’s worth recalling that the courts exist as the one branch of government intended to be immune from the kind of concentrated and wealthy influence contemplated by the Powell memo. The judicial branch was conceived as the one above-the-fray realm where ordinary people—those without lobbyists, Super PACS or position papers—might still find a fair hearing when they were wronged. But one of the central projects of the conservative legal movement in recent decades has been to recalibrate that balance, allowing big business to throw up roadblocks to the courthouse doors and make the courts less and less accessible to the people it has harmed.

Can we please put Rush Limbaugh in a straight jacket in some nice facility some where–like Gitmo–and off the air? Limbaugh: “Male Private Parts Are Shrinking” Because Of “Feminazis” And “Chickification”.  You can go listen to it.  I don’t even want to print it here.

You know how BP swears it cleaned things up down here?  Well, it appears Isaac uncovered a heckuva lotta oil that’s still here.

Coast Guard Capt. Duke Walker told the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority that officials would investigate as many as 88 segments of the coast requested by state officials in the aftermath of Isaac in areas that are not still part of the existing BP cleanup.

But Garret Graves, chairman of the authority, failed to gain assurances from Walker that the joint Coast Guard-BP response will expand its search for BP oil at locations other than those requested by the state or where the public has reported oil.

Walker said BP contractors have removed 44,000 pounds of tar mat uncovered on Elmer’s Island, and a large amount of tar balls at neighboring beaches. They haven’t completed a survey of known oiled areas in interior wetlands, however.

Graves said the state has found a combination of tar mats and liquid oil at Keelboat Pass in St. Bernard Parish, and at a variety of locations between there and Elmer’s Island on the west side of the river. He said BP should search all beach and wetland areas in between.

So, that’s an offering of things that I think are important to know. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?