Monday Reads

Good Morning!

The Twitterati were all aTwit about the Romney’s really really rough “struggle” in life yesterday.  It was a pretty funny hashtag thread in response to Ann Romney trying to list the Romney “struggles”.   You know, it must’ve been tough waiting for that fourth draft deferment for Vietnam while Mitt lived in a palace in France. Then, you know, we all have that problem of having to dip into the stock portfolio our parents gave us while trying to go to Harvard. So, it goes with out saying, life is just one struggle to keep up with the Vanderbilts, the Astors, and the P-Diddys.

Ann Romney pushed back Sunday against detractors whom she said have called her husband “heartless,” emphasizing that she and Mitt Romney have struggled, even if not financially.

“Mitt and I do recognize that we have not had a financial struggle in our lives,” Ann Romney said in an interview with Mitt Romney that aired on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “But I want people to believe in their hearts that we know what it is like to struggle. And our struggles have not been financial, but they’ve been with health and with difficulties in different things in life.”

President Obama leads Mitt Romney in the polls when it comes to which candidate has more empathy for people struggling in the economy. At the Republican convention last month, the campaign tried to combat that narrative. Ann Romney tried to humanize Mitt Romney in her address, calling their life together a “real marriage” that began by eating “a lot of pasta and tuna fish.” The campaign also enlisted several of Romney’s friends from his congregation in Massachusetts to paint the candidate as compassionate.

All of us “you people” just don’t understand.  That would include the Fact Checkers at The Atlantic.

Ann Romney 2012:  “I saw the long hours that started with that first job. I was there when he and a small group of friends talked about starting a new company. I was there when they struggled and wondered if the whole idea just wasn’t going to work. Mitt’s reaction was to work harder and press on.”

The Real Romney, by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman: At Bain & Company, founder Bill Bain treated Romney “as a kind of prince regent at the firm, a favored son.” He selected Romney to start  and run Bain Capital. “It would be Romney’s first chance to run his own firm and, potentially, to make a killing,” they write. “It was an offer few young men in a hurry could refuse. Yet Romney stunned his boss by doing just that.” They continue:

“He explained to Bain that he didn’t want to risk his position, earnings, and reputation on an experiment. He found the offer appealing but didn’t want to make the decision in a “light or flippant manner.” So Bain sweetened the pot. He guaranteed that if the experiment failed Romney would get his old job and salary back, plus any raises he would have earned during his absence. Still, Romney worried about the impact on his reputation if he proved unable to do the job. Again the pot was sweetened. Bain promised that, if necessary, he would craft a cover story saying that Romney’s return to Bain & Company was needed due to his value as a consultant. “So,” Bain explained, “there was no professional or financial risk.” This time Romney said yes.”

Yeah.  All of us should be blessed by THESE kinds of struggles.

Okay, it’s time for another kat’s adventure in historical grave stuff item.  This time it’s on the search for the grave for Richard III in the UK.

An archaeological dig searching for the grave of Richard III has uncovered evidence of a lost garden, organisers said.

Experts from the University of Leicester who are leading the search discovered paving stones which they believe belong to the garden of Robert Herrick where, historically, it is recorded there was a memorial to Richard III.

Work by the “time tomb team”, as they have become known, has so far involved the digging of two trenches at a Leicester city centre car park – and this week a third was excavated – thought to cover the site of a Franciscan friar where the former king is believed to have been buried in 1485.

Working alongside members of the Richard III Society, archaeologists also confirmed they had found the church of the Grey Friars.

Research at the site, which is owned by Leicester City Council, began on August 24 with archaeologists using ground-penetrating radar equipment to mark out the trenches.

Philippa Langley, of the Richard III Society, said: “This is an astonishing discovery and a huge step forward in the search for King Richard’s grave.

“Herrick is incredibly important in the story of Richard’s grave and in potentially helping us get that little bit closer to locating it.”

In the early 1600s, Alderman Robert Herrick, a mayor of Leicester, bought the land of the Grey Friars and built a large mansion house with a garden on the site.

In 1612, Christopher Wren, father of the famous architect, was visiting Herrick and recorded seeing a handsome three foot stone pillar in Herrick’s garden.

Inscribed on the pillar was: “Here lies the body of Richard III sometime King of England.”

No mention of Richard III would be complete without a h/t to Shakespeare

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barded steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

Since I’m waxing poetic, philosophical, and political, here’s a quick music break.

Public Policy Polling finds that Obama leads in Ohio by 5 points.  Ohio is an important swing state.

PPP’s first post-conventions poll in Ohio finds Barack Obama with a 5 point lead over Mitt Romney, 50-45. This is the largest lead PPP has found for Obama in an Ohio poll since early May. Last month Obama led 48-45.

Both candidates have seen their images improve with Ohio voters in the wake of the conventions. Obama now breaks even in his approval rating at 48%, after being under water with 46% of voters approving and 51% disapproving of him a month ago. Romney’s numbers are up from a 41/52 favorability rating a month ago as well, but he still remains unpopular. Only 44% see him favorably to 49% with a negative opinion.

Romney actually leads 46-44 with independents but Obama has the overall advantage thanks to a more unified party base. He leads 86/11 with Democrats, compared to Romney’s 83/13 advantage with Republicans. Obama’s 75 point lead within his own party is up from 70 points a month ago, suggesting that his party has coalesced around him a little bit more in the wake of a successful convention. By a 47/35 margin Ohio voters say they think the Democrats had a better convention than the Republicans.

ETHAN BRONNER writes about how the legal battles on voting may prove critical to the election in November for the NYT.

In the last few weeks, nearly a dozen decisions in federal and state courts on early voting, provisional ballots and voter identification requirements have driven the rules in conflicting directions, some favoring Republicans demanding that voters show more identification to guard against fraud and others backing Democrats who want to make voting as easy as possible.

The most closely watched cases — in the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania — will see court arguments again this week, with the Ohio dispute possibly headed for a request for emergency review by the Supreme Court.

In Wisconsin, the home state of the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, the attorney general has just appealed to the State Supreme Court on an emergency basis to review two rulings barring its voter ID law. But even if all such cases are settled before Nov. 6 — there are others in Florida, Iowa and South Carolina — any truly tight race will most likely generate post-election litigation that could delay the final result.

“In any of these states there is the potential for disaster,” said Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. “You have close elections and the real possibility that people will say their votes were not counted when they should have been. That’s the nightmare scenario for the day after the election.”

In the 2000 presidential election, a deadlock over ballot design and tallying in parts of Florida led the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, to stop a recount of ballots, which led to George W. Bush defeating Al Gore. Since then, both parties have focused on voting procedures.

The Obama campaign, for example, brought suit in Ohio over its reduction of early voting weekends used more by blacks than other groups.

Denying people their constitutional rights appears to be the Republican Party priority these days.

So, Chicago’s Teachers are on strike.  It’s been awhile since we’ve seen anything quite this big.  Guess Rahmbo likes his schools chartered instead of completely public.

Why are these 29,000 teachers and school workers going on strike in the nation’s third-largest public school district?

Because they want what all workers want: fair pay and decent working conditions. They also want what all teachers want — to serve their students to their best of their abilities.

Here’s a few things you need to know about the strike, and why the CTU is right and Mayor Rahm Emanuel — who has failed to fairly bargain with the union — is wrong:

  • Powerful Outside Interests Worked With Rahm To Cripple CTU’s Ability To Strike (They Failed): Last year, outside groups education privatization groups like Stand for Children worked with the city council and mayor to raise the strike threshold limit to 75 percent — meaning that 3/4 of teachers had to vote to strike. Jonah Edelman, who works for the group, bragged during the Aspen Ideas Festival that they had essentially eliminated teachers’ ability to strike. But in June, nearly 90 percent of CTU members voted to authorize a strike, easily surpassing the barrier that the city and education privatization groups had placed on them. But outside groups haven’t stopped taking aim at union rights. They’ve even paid protesters to demonstrate against CTU.
  • Rahm Refuses To Pay Teachers What They Were Promised: Being a teacher takes hard work, and it’s one of the most most poorly-paid professions relative to the work load. The leadership of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) had agreed to offer teachers a four percent raise last year, but Mayor Emanuel canceled this agreement. The district has refused to address this raise in negotiations. While gutting teachers’ pay increases, CPS is calling for longer school days. Would you want to work more hours without being fairly compensated for it?
  • The City Won’t Agree To Limit The Number Of Kids In Classrooms: Over-crowded classrooms are bad for students, teachers, and parents. That’s why 32 states have limits on classroom size. Illinois does not. CTU wants to see limits on class sizes in its contract, but the city refuses to discuss it.
  • Rahm Is Intent On Shifting Funds To Untested And Unproven Charter Schools: Rahm has been laying the groundwork for a rapid expansion of charter schools, and wants to create nearly 250 more within five to ten years (this would amount to half the system). This massive diversion of funds from the public system is not based on the facts of what actually works for students. The most comprehensive study of charter schools in the United States found that most deliver results similar to those of public schools. Not surprisingly, Chicago’s charter schools are largely devoid of unions and the benefits they provide for students and teachers alike. Charter school teachers tend to earn 8 percent less than normal public school teachers — which makes them an attractive tool for austerity-prone conservatives. CTU wants a more fair distribution of funds.

I can’t honestly say that I’d want to teach there for $42,000 a year.  I could make more money than that tending bar in the French Quarter and live much
more cheaply.

Anyway, I’ve had another lost week trying to catch up from Isaac.  I’ve been visited by FEMA and my insurance agent and I seem to have myself situated into a start up media production company on its way to challenging a well-known cable TV channel.  I shall be interviewed this week–actually about this blog–and will send you the link later.  Life is always interesting down here in the Big Easy, that’s for sure.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?