Saturday Late Morning Reads

groucho reading newspaper

Good Morning!!

Last night I watched an old Marx Brothers movie–Monkey Business. It’s been years since I’ve watched one of their movies, and I’d forgotten how much fun it can be. Laughter really is the best medicine. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see a movie with the Marx Brothers making people like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and David Gregory look like complete idiots?

Not that Republicans need Groucho, Chico, or Harpo to highlight their idiocy, as you can see from this story at TPM: CPAC Event On Racial Tolerance Turns To Chaos As ‘Disenfranchised’ Whites Arrive

The session, entitled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” was led by K. Carl Smith, a black conservative who mostly urged attendees to deflect racism charges by calling themselves “Frederick Douglass Republicans.”

Disruptions began when he started accusing Democrats of still being the party of the Confederacy — a common talking point on the right….Disruptions began when he started accusing Democrats of still being the party of the Confederacy — a common talking point on the right.

But “things really went off the rails” in the question and answer session.

Scott Terry of North Carolina, accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, Matthew Heimbach, rose to say he took offense to the event’s take on slavery. (Heimbach founded the White Students Union at Towson University and is described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)

“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” Terry said, adding he “came to love my people and culture” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”

Smith responded that Douglass forgave his slavemaster.

“For giving him shelter? And food?” Terry said.

At this point the event devolved into a mess of shouting.

It sounds just like a Marx Brothers movie, without the jokes. There’s much more at the link–you have to read it to believe it.

More on CPAC from Gay activist and talk radio host Michaelangelo Signorile: Brian Brown, NOM Leader, At CPAC: Prop 8 Challenge Is ‘Biggest Strategic Mistake’ of Gay Rights Movement

A day before GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio reversed his position and came out for marriage equality, Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), insisted conservatives are rallying against gay marriage and that “if the Republican Party abandons traditional marriage, there is no Republican Party.” He also predicted that California’s Proposition 8 will be upheld by the Supreme Court, which is hearing arguments on the case later this month, calling the decision by gay advocates to challenge Prop 8 “the biggest strategic mistake the supporters of same-sex marriage ever have made.”

“I think people are excited [about traditional marriage],” Brown said in an interview on my SiriusXM OutQ radio program, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Thursday. “[Florida Senator] Marco Rubio just stood up there and said, ‘Just because I’m for traditional marriage doesn’t make me a bigot.’ And everyone stood up and cheered. The grass roots of conservatism are absolutely united behind traditional marriage. Folks I’m seeing here are absolutely committed.”

You can listen to the whole interview at the HuffPo link.

marx bros reading1

I liked TBogg’s rude comment on Portman’s overnight conversion: Honey, I’m Homo.

If you think the rapidity with which a Republican politician, who was previously against equal rights for gays, suddenly switches sides once he discovers that Teh Ghey has invaded his happy All-American home is impressive, you should see how quickly they embrace abortion as a God-given right the moment their daughter announces that she has been knocked up.

By a black guy.

Jonathan Chait has a longer, more carefully reasoned discussion of Portman’s hypocrisy. Here’s the conclusion:

It’s pretty simple. Portman went along with his party’s opposition to gay marriage because it didn’t affect him. He thought about gay rights the way Paul Ryan thinks about health care. And he still obviously thinks about most issues the way Paul Ryan thinks about health care.

That Portman turns out to have a gay son is convenient for the gay-rights cause. But why should any of us come away from his conversion trusting that Portman is thinking on any issue about what’s good for all of us, rather than what’s good for himself and the people he knows?

Exactly.

As for Paul Ryan, he claims that “Democrats’ budget puts US on path ‘straight into debt crisis.'” From The Hill:

Ryan used the weekly GOP address to promote the budget plan bearing his name, saying it will benefit Americans worried about jobs and the cost of living, those trying to keep up with the cost of healthcare and younger workers hoping for a secure retirement. “And for taxpayers fed up with the status quo, we will cut wasteful spending,” he said….

Ryan took aim at President Obama and Senate Democrats, saying the tax increases in a proposal from Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) only “fuel more spending.”

“We know where this path leads—straight into a debt crisis, and along the way, fewer jobs, fewer opportunities, and less security,” Ryan said, painting a desperate image of rising interest rates and inflating debt payments.

“Our finances will collapse,” he warned. “You think this can’t happen here? Just look at Europe.”

harpo-gookie

WTF?! Europe’s problems are being exacerbated by austerity! Is this guy for real? Here’s what the Tax Policy Center has to say about Mr. Ryan’s “budget.”

House GOP Would Need $5.7 Trillion in Tax Hikes to Offset Ryan Rate Cuts

House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) fiscal plan promises to balance the federal budget in 10 years, make major cuts in income tax rates for both individuals and corporations, and raise the same amount of revenue as current law. If House Republicans want to do all three, they will have to eliminate trillions of dollars in popular tax preferences.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that cutting individual rates to 10 percent and 25 percent, repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax and the tax increases included in the Affordable Care Act, and cutting the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent would add $5.7 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. Thus, if House Republicans want to cut these taxes and still collect the revenues they promise, they’d have to raise other taxes by $5.7 trillion.

The tax cuts described in Ryan’s budget would generate a huge windfall for high-income taxpayers. On average, households would get a cut of $3,000. But those in the top 0.1 percent of income, who make $3.3 million or more, would get a whopping $1.2 million on average–a 20 percent increase in their after-tax income.

By contrast, middle-income households would get an average tax cut of about $900. Those in the bottom 20 percent (who make $22,000 or less) would get $40 and one-third of them would get no tax cut at all.

Some important caveats here: TPC did not estimate the revenue effects of a Ryan tax proposal since the budget does not include an actual plan. Rather, it modeled generic tax cuts that follow the outline of what his budget describes. And because his plan does not identify any tax increases, TPC modeled only the tax cuts.

Some budget. Here’s Matthew O’Brien at The Atlantic: Paul Ryan’s $5.7 Trillion Magic Trick

I’m not really a fan of magic, but I’m even less of one when it’s politicians doing the tricks.

That’s why I’ve had some less-than-nice things to say about Paul Ryan’s latest budget. Like its previous iterations, it explicitly says how he wants to cut taxes, but says nothing about how he wants to pay for it. Instead, Ryan uses a magic asterisk. He merely waves his hand, and says he’ll cut enough tax expenditures to pay for all of his tax cuts. He just can’t tell us what any of these tax expenditures are. Not a single one.

This is some pretty expensive hand-waving….this magic asterisk is worth about $1 trillion more than before. Ryan keeps the same tax cuts he had last year, but he assumes these same cuts will raise an extra 0.5 percent of GDP in revenue. In other words, it’s the same magical budgeting we’ve come to know from Ryan — but now with even more magic!

It’s particularly magical for the top 1 percent of households. The chart below from the Tax Policy Center shows the percent change in after-tax incomes for each income group from Ryan’s tax cuts. That’s what comforting the comfortable looks like.

There’s much more (with charts) at the link.

Now here’s some good news–if it holds up: Federal Judge Finds National Security Letters Unconstitutional, Bans Them. From Wired:

Ultra-secret national security letters that come with a gag order on the recipient are an unconstitutional impingement on free speech, a federal judge in California ruled in a decision released Friday.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered the government to stop issuing so-called NSLs across the board, in a stunning defeat for the Obama administration’s surveillance practices. She also ordered the government to cease enforcing the gag provision in any other cases. However, she stayed her order for 90 days to give the government a chance to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We are very pleased that the Court recognized the fatal constitutional shortcomings of the NSL statute,” said Matt Zimmerman, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed a challenge to NSLs on behalf of an unknown telecom that received an NSL in 2011. “The government’s gags have truncated the public debate on these controversial surveillance tools. Our client looks forward to the day when it can publicly discuss its experience.”

The telecommunications company received the ultra-secret demand letter in 2011 from the FBI seeking information about a customer or customers. The company took the extraordinary and rare step of challenging the underlying authority of the National Security Letter, as well as the legitimacy of the gag order that came with it.

The national security letters are one of those holdovers from Bush that the Obama administration has defended in court. Please read the whole article if you have time–there’s a lot of good background info. Here’s the press release from the EFF. Who knows what will happen on appeal or if the case makes it to the Supreme Court, but this is very good news.

chico marx reading

Finally, we can look forward to some more insanity from the CPAC crowd today–Ted Cruz will be closing out the conference with his keynote speech–and before that there’ll be a whole assortment of mixed Republican nuts. From NPR:

It’s the last day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, which will culminate in a keynote address by up-and-coming Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. As NPR’s David Welna reports,

“Though he’s only been a senator since January, this will be the third year Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is addressing CPAC. This former Texas solicitor general and Tea Party favorite got top billing at the conference after aggressively questioning former GOP senator Chuck Hagel during Hagel’s confirmation hearing to be secretary of defense.”

Also scheduled to speak are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. (CPAC has the full schedule on its website.)

Sorry this post is so late–I hope everyone hasn’t given up on me already. If anyone is out there, please share your recommended links in the comments. I look forward to clicking on them!

Have a great weekend!


Paul Ryan Makes Major Freudian Slip

Hilarious! While introducing his budget plan today, Paul Ryan unconsciously revealed his true purpose.

From The Hill:

During the unveiling of his new budget proposal, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made a slip of the tongue while railing against President Obama’s healthcare law.

“This is something we will not give up on because we are not going to give up on destroying the healthcare system for the American people,” Ryan accidentally said.

Here’s the clip, courtesy of DailyKos:

Bwwwwwwaaaaaahahahahahahaha!!!

That put me in mind of another great Freudian slip by the master of Freudian slips, George W. Bush.

This is psychoanalytic open thread. Just kidding–it’s wide open. What are you hearing?


SOS! Eyewash bottles needed NOW!

I’m going to wax prosaically or rant poetically or maybe just do some wondering out loud.

I’m watching a disturbing phenomenon from supposed liberals and former Hillary supporters.  A small, vocal, angry ol’ bunch of them are trying to bend themselves into pretzels of moral self-justification to support what is undoubtedly the most radical right presidential duo the republicans have ever stuck up for consideration. It was easy for me to originally see folks falling for the Romney pitch abut 6 months ago because, well, he seemed so normal and moderate as a Massachusetts governor.  A lot of research later and I’m completely disabused of this notion.  There are now several sites I can’t visit without wanting to take a lemon zester to my eyes. It’s like a whole bunch of them just went full metal teabagger from anger poisoning. Unfortunately, some of them troll us and our trash gets nasty too.

Those of us here–and places like Reclusive Leftist, Cannonfire, Tennessee Guerrilla Women and the Widdershins— have been watching things closely enough to see that Romney’s made such a rush to the right wing of the party that there’s no denying this must be where he actually feels most comfortable.  The stories of his “lying for the lord” to get near the Massachusetts governorship must’ve been more than just fleeting rumors.  By now, almost any politically informed person knows that Romney owes whatever soul he has to the radical right and the big money donors funding his campaign and his superpacs.  Additionally, to not know that Paul Ryan is one of the worst of the worst in Congress is inexcusable to any one that considers themselves a political junkie. I’ve sat through two budget terms with him and I’ve frankly never seen anything worse in terms of acceptability and reality for the majority of the American Electorate.  Any one trying to white wash this guy must be one very confused and wrongly motivated voter.   It would be easy for me to pull up all the research by Dean Baker, Paul Krugman, Brad Delong, Mark Thoma or the CBO or more neutral economists and provide information on the hocus pocus right wing scheme that is the complete hoax called the Ryan Budget.  David Stockman–budget director to Ronnie Raygun–did it beautifully yesterday from a view point that should even give Republicans the willies about voting for deadly duo. He referred to it as the “Fairy-Tale Budget Plan” and the obsession with inconsequential regulation.

The greatest regulatory problem — far more urgent that the environmental marginalia Mitt Romney has fumed about — is that the giant Wall Street banks remain dangerous quasi-wards of the state and are inexorably prone to speculative abuse of taxpayer-insured deposits and the Fed’s cheap money. Forget about “too big to fail.” These banks are too big to exist — too big to manage internally and to regulate externally. They need to be broken up by regulatory decree. Instead, the Romney-Ryan ticket attacks the pointless Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul, when what’s needed is a restoration of Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era legislation that separated commercial and investment banking.

Mr. Ryan showed his conservative mettle in 2008 when he folded like a lawn chair on the auto bailout and the Wall Street bailout. But the greater hypocrisy is his phony “plan” to solve the entitlements mess by deferring changes to social insurance by at least a decade.

A true agenda to reform the welfare state would require a sweeping, income-based eligibility test, which would reduce or eliminate social insurance benefits for millions of affluent retirees. Without it, there is no math that can avoid giant tax increases or vast new borrowing. Yet the supposedly courageous Ryan plan would not cut one dime over the next decade from the $1.3 trillion-per-year cost of Social Security and Medicare.

Instead, it shreds the measly means-tested safety net for the vulnerable: the roughly $100 billion per year for food stamps and cash assistance for needy families and the $300 billion budget for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Shifting more Medicaid costs to the states will be mere make-believe if federal financing is drastically cut.

Likewise, hacking away at the roughly $400 billion domestic discretionary budget (what’s left of the federal budget after defense, Social Security, health and safety-net spending and interest on the national debt) will yield only a rounding error’s worth of savings after popular programs (which Republicans heartily favor) like cancer research, national parks, veterans’ benefits, farm aid, highway subsidies, education grants and small-business loans are accommodated.

Like his new boss, Mr. Ryan has no serious plan to create jobs. America has some of the highest labor costs in the world, and saddles workers and businesses with $1 trillion per year in job-destroying payroll taxes. We need a national sales tax — a consumption tax, like the dreaded but efficient value-added tax — but Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan don’t have the gumption to support it.

The Ryan Plan boils down to a fetish for cutting the top marginal income-tax rate for “job creators” — i.e. the superwealthy — to 25 percent and paying for it with an as-yet-undisclosed plan to broaden the tax base. Of the $1 trillion in so-called tax expenditures that the plan would attack, the vast majority would come from slashing popular tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, mortgage interest, 401(k) accounts, state and local taxes, charitable giving and the like, not to mention low rates on capital gains and dividends. The crony capitalists of K Street already own more than enough Republican votes to stop that train before it leaves the station.

In short, Mr. Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn’t pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation’s fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity — just empty sermons.

Indeed, we saw a group of GOP anonymous strategists tell Politic0 that the Ryan Choice was likely a concession to not winning come November. This many Republicans don’t usually come out of the woodwork to eat their own when they really hate the sitting president.

In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives — old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike — the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election.

It is not that the public professions of excitement about the Ryan selection are totally insincere. It is that many of the most optimistic Republican operatives will privately acknowledge that their views are being shaped more by fingers-crossed hope than by a hard-headed appraisal of what’s most likely to happen.

(PHOTOS: Paul Ryan hearts charts)

And the more pessimistic strategists don’t even feign good cheer: They think the Ryan pick is a disaster for the GOP. Many of these people don’t care that much about Romney — they always felt he faced an improbable path to victory — but are worried that Ryan’s vocal views about overhauling Medicare will be a millstone for other GOP candidates in critical House and Senate races.

Let’s get to the caveats: No one is asserting that Washington operatives in either party are oracles or seers. What’s more, it is not as if there is anything like unanimity in GOP circles about the merits of the Ryan pick, though the mood of anxiety and skepticism is overwhelming.

Most of all, if you are one of those people who thinks if someone has something negative to say, they should have the guts to put their name on it, you won’t find much to impress you in this article. Nearly all the Republican professionals interviewed for this story said they would share their unfiltered views only “on background” rules of attribution.

But Washington political chatter is a pervasive reality even when the chatterers prefer not to risk personal relationships or professional prospects by publicly second-guessing their party’s nominee. For Romney, even if he ultimately proves the doubters wrong, the skepticism among capital insiders is an obstacle as he seeks to frame a general election argument.

And that skepticism about Ryan among GOP strategists is striking.

Ryan’s Budget plan is anathema to any one that relies or will rely on Social Security and Medicare.  This basically means every one that’s not extremely wealthy. In fact, the choice of Ryan is so stark that Romney “sees no immediate bounce” from his choice.   Unlike the unknown Palin who no one knew and who originally got the benefit of the doubt ,every one knows Ryan.  Only the most hard core right wingers like him.  He basically oozes the Koch Brothers agenda.  He scores zero on Gay Rights and Reproductive Choice.  He’s gone out of his way to push for right wing social agendas as well as destruction of safety net and entitlement programs.  He’s not a reformer.  He’s Shiva on steroids.

Interestingly enough, it’s possible that the choice of Ryan has already hurt the Republicans in a key areas and demographics.  This is from the Jewish Week and speaks directly to a primary result in Florida yesterday where Republicans took down some one who was very much a Ryan supporter. Similar analysis can be found at the Jewish Journal.

But the damage may already be done. The budget pushed by Ryan as the Tea Party-leaning chair of the House Budget Committee in April of 2011 proposed privatizing Social Security and replacing Medicare with a voucher plan. This year, he proposed the creation of a Medicare exchange that would have the program paying for or subsidizing payments to private plans.

Those who depend on government benefits tend to get uneasy when politicians talk about radical changes in them — which some call entitlement reform — and polls show that Jewish voters are among the biggest boosters of public safety nets. The Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs — the two leading umbrella groups addressing economic issues — wrote letters to Congress opposing less government control of Medicare in response to Ryan’s plan.

So despite what polls show as diminished Jewish support for President Barack Obama since his estimated 78 percent share in 2008 — largely attributed to his posture toward Israel — analysts say Romney’s ability to exploit that weakness as Republican operatives and donors make a major play for Jewish votes could be offset by his choice of running mate.

“On the domestic policy side, [the choice of Ryan] presents significant problems for anybody who supports Medicare and any of the safety-net social programs, which in general is the Jewish vote,” said Ester Fuchs, a professor of public affairs and political science at Columbia University.

“I don’t see this as anything that positively affects Romney’s standing within the Jewish community,” Fuchs continued. “In fact, I think it will put some of the fence-sitters into the Obama camp, particularly seniors in New York and Florida.”

The Jewish Daily Forward had this analysis of the Florida Race.

Paul Ryan’s arrival on the Republican presidential ticket is changing the subject among Florida Jews — and that could be good news for President Obama.

For months, Republicans have worked to win Jews in the key swing state with their critique of Obama’s perceived less-than-robust support of Israel. But Mitt Romney’s selection of Ryan turns the focus to the GOP rising star’s proposed cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare, the federal health care program for the elderly on which many Florida Jews rely.

A pitched battle over Medicare in Florida is one that Democrats think they can win hands down, especially among Jewish voters.

“Romney has made my job much easier,” said former New York City mayor Ed Koch, who plans to campaign for Obama among Florida Jews this fall. “Israel is no longer the issue…. It has now shifted, and Romney shifted it.”

So, given all this information that is readily available on Paul Ryan’s Randian Dystopian future for America, given that Romney has absolutely no articulated plans on anything other than more tax cuts, and given his embrace of the Ryan Budget, WTF are former Hillary voters thinking when they try to justify voting for these two?  I’m not suggesting any one go out and vote for Obama.  There’s other options out there.  Dr. Jill Stein comes to my mind.  How could you look past all this information that’s already out there on Ryan, confabulate some narrative that makes all this information just lies and conspiracy, and still consider yourself in step with Hillary Clinton’s vision for America?


Sunday Reads: Robot and Munster

WPA poster

Hello!

Wow, what a busy 24 hours it has been. I don’t know about you all, but my PAD (Political Affected Disorder) has been kicked into high gear. I mean, in a Ryan world, that WPA poster would say, Lack of Funds…Fuck off…you’re on your own, no need for medical care, just die already!

The thought of a Romney/Ryan presidency scares the bejebees out of me! It is frightening though, all that talk of Obama, the Socialist Kenyan Fascist Dictator, bringing on the end of the world…and this is what these nuts are pushing on us? A lying unlikable jerk robot and his Munster asshole “intellectual” cough…cough…

Well, since we don’t know what taxes Romney has paid the last few years…plus, according to Roll Call, Paul Ryan’s Tax Plan Would Slash Mitt Romney’s Tax Rate to 1 Percent : Roll Call Politics

The tax plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the newly minted GOP vice presidential candidate, would have slashed Mitt Romney’s effective tax rate to about 1 percent in 2010, based on Romney’s tax return that year, according to a Roll Call analysis.

The Ryan tax cut, which would shave about 90 percent off of Romney’s tax bill, would result from the Wisconsin Republican’s “Roadmap for America’s Future” proposal to eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest. Since about 95 percent of Romney’s $21.6 million income came from those sources in 2010, he would pay no taxes on the vast majority of his earnings. It’s not certain exactly how low Romney’s tax bill would go, but his income from other sources amounts to about $1 million, and Ryan’s plan would set a new top rate of 25 percent. Romney’s total tax bill would have dropped from the $3 million that he paid to a few hundred thousand dollars if Ryan’s plan had been in effect.

Ryan also proposes eliminating the estate tax, which would benefit Romney’s heirs by tens of millions of dollars.

Ryan’s “Roadmap” plan on his website says eliminating taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends would promote savings.

And speaking of Ryan Budget, take a few minutes to check out Nuns on the Bus…because I am sure they are going to be one of the groups to watch now that the coward, who refused to meet with these Nuns on a Mission, has been picked as Romney’s VP.

I still can’t stand Obama, and I still feel he intends to mess with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid: Obama’s Second Term Agenda: Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and/or Medicaid « naked capitalism

This is probably the least important Presidential election since the 1950s. As an experienced political hand told me, the two candidates are speaking not to the voters, but to the big money. They hold the same views, pursue the same policies, and are backed by similar interests. Mitt Romney implemented Obamacare in Massachusetts, or Obama implemented Romneycare nationally. Both are pro-choice or anti-choice as political needs change, both tend to be hawkish on foreign policy, both favor tax cuts for businesses, and both believe deeply in a corrupt technocratic establishment.

So while the election lumbers on like the death rattles of the wounded animal known American democracy, no one on either side is asking what the plan is for the next term. For Obama, his team is going into rooms of donors and shouting “Supreme Court”, while mumbling something about bipartisanship and $4 trillion, or Simpson-Bowles. What this means is that term two of the Obama White House will be organized around cutting entitlements.

The White House already tried cutting all three main entitlement programs, last year (cuts to Medicaid are actually cuts to Obamacare, for what it’s worth, since an expansion of Medicaid was a key plank of the new health care law).

Read the rest…it is quite upsetting.

In fact, I am going to move away from Romney and Obama, and bring you some stories you may have missed during all the hubbub.

Did you all see this crap: The Goldman Sachs Department of Justice™ Would Like to Apologize to Mr. Blankfein for the Inconvenience | emptywheel

It is beyond ridiculous, and this next link shows just how f’d up this DOJ decision is: AZ Woman Imprisoned — After Producing Her Birth Certificate | Crooks and Liars

Guilt has nothing to do with punishment — that is, as long as you’re not a Wall Street banker. In Arizona, if you “look” foreign, that’s enough to put you in jail indefinitely, without bail – even after you produce your birth certificate:

Recently, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office alleged Briseira Torres, a shy, 31-year-old single mom from Glendale, was here illegally and that Briseira Torres was not her real name.

She was accused of three counts of forgery, in part because her driver’s license had her real name on it, which the MCAO thought was bogus. Following her arrest, she was held without bond in Estrella Jail for 4 1/2 months.

Torres lost her home and car because she couldn’t make the payments as she endured Estrella’s harsh conditions, lousy food, and detention officers.

Bold emphasis is Susie Madrak’s not mine,

In the pile of paperwork they provided to the court, to the prosecutor, and to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was a silver bullet: a sworn statement from Arizona’s Office of Vital Records attesting to the legitimacy of documents on file for Torres.

Among these docs is Torres’ birth certificate, showing she was born August 14, 1981, in Avondale.

Salvatierra asked the court to remand the case back to the grand jury.

Judge Carolyn Passamonte did just this, noting in her minute entry that Torres’ long-form birth certificate was “clearly exculpatory evidence that should have been presented to the grand jury.”

The judge remarked that the documents on file with Vital Records had been “available to the state,” and in oral arguments, the prosecutor had to admit that he’d never bothered to pull the file and inspect it.

Can you believe this crap? As Susie says,

…her legal birth certificate was right there, the whole time of her incarceration. A cop with a bug up his butt decided to act as if it didn’t exist. If only her name was Goldman Sachs!

Now that your blood pressure is up, check this out: Mississippi county accused of running ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ | The Raw Story

The U.S. Department of Justice has accused officials in Lauderdale County, Mississippi of running ‘a school-to-prison’ pipeline that jails juveniles for even minor school disciplinary problems.

A letter sent by the civil rights division on Friday charges that the Lauderdale County Youth Court, the Meridian Police Department, and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services have been violating the constitutional rights of children in Lauderdale County and the City of Meridian.

According to the letter, an investigation launched last December revealed that “the agencies have helped to operate a school-to-prison pipeline whereby children arrested in local schools become entangled in a cycle of incarceration without substantive and procedural protections required by the U.S. Constitution. The department’s findings show that children in Lauderdale County have been routinely and repeatedly incarcerated for allegedly committing school disciplinary infractions and are punished disproportionately, without constitutionally required procedural safeguards. Children have also been arrested at school for offenses as minor as defiance.”

“Furthermore,” it continues, “children on probation are routinely arrested and incarcerated for allegedly violating their probation by committing minor school infractions, such as dress code violations, which result in suspensions. The department’s investigation showed that students most affected by this system are African-American children and children with disabilities.”

Meridian is known for the murders of three civil rights workers, back in 1964, aka “the Mississippi Burning” case.

In 2009 the Southern Poverty Law Center brought a class-action lawsuit against the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Facility, accusing it of keeping youths “crammed into small, filthy cells and tormented with the arbitrary use of Mace as a punishment for even the most minor infractions — such as ‘talking too much’ or failing to sit in the ‘back of their cells.’”

An agreement was reached at that time to reform the jail system and consider alternative methods of handling school disciplinary issues, but problems have continued in what an SPLC representative now calls “a broken system.”

The Justice Department letter cites a pattern of unconstitutional conduct that includes both failure to assess probable cause before arresting school children and failure to provide proper due process with regard to alleged probation violations.

A few weeks after the Justice Department investigation began last winter, Lauderdale County took steps to shut down its juvenile detention center and send youthful offenders instead to a neighboring county. That action was apparently considered inadequate, and officials are now being told they must enter into “meaningful negotiations” to end the violations within sixty days or face a federal lawsuit.

That is disturbing, I know, and I don’t want to end on a bad note, I mean it is Sunday…and since we started out mentioning the Nuns on the Bus, let’s end with a story about another activist nun.

Behind Nuclear Breach, a Nun’s Bold Fervor – NYTimes.com

Shawn Poynter for The New York Times

Sister Megan Rice, 82, is one of three people arrested in a break-in at a nuclear complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

She has been arrested 40 or 50 times for acts of civil disobedience and once served six months in prison. In the Nevada desert, she and other peace activists knelt down to block a truck rumbling across the government’s nuclear test site, prompting the authorities to take her into custody.

She gained so much attention that the Energy Department, which maintains the nation’s nuclear arsenal, helped pay for an oral history in which she described her upbringing and the development of her antinuclear views.

Now, Sister Megan Rice, 82, a Roman Catholic nun of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, and two male accomplices have carried out what nuclear experts call the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex, making their way to the inner sanctum of the site where the United States keeps crucial nuclear bomb parts and fuel.

“Deadly force is authorized,” signs there read. “Halt!” Images of skulls emphasize the lethal danger.

I’ll tell you one thing…I see an Michael Bay action film in this story.

With flashlights and bolt cutters, the three pacifists defied barbed wire as well as armed guards, video cameras and motion sensors at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation in Tennessee early on July 28, a Saturday. They splashed blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility — a new windowless, half-billion-dollar plant encircled by enormous guard towers — and hung banners outside its walls.

“Swords into plowshares,” read one, quoting the Book of Isaiah. “Spears into pruning hooks.” The plant holds the nation’s main supply of highly enriched uranium, enough for thousands of nuclear weapons.

The actions of Sister Rice, a New York native who grew up on a prosperous block in Morningside Heights, and her companions, ages 57 and 63, are a huge embarrassment for President Obama. Since 2010, he has led a campaign to eliminate or lock down nuclear materials as a way to fight atomic terrorism. Now, the three — two of whom, including Sister Rice, are free and are awaiting trial in October — have made nuclear theft seem only a little more challenging than a romp in the Tennessee woods.

In interviews this week, Sister Rice discussed her life — somewhat reluctantly at times — and kept emphasizing what she called “the issue.”

You need to read the rest of the story…but isn’t she wonderful?

Can you imagine who would play Sister Rice and her two male accomplices? I see Diana Rigg as Sister Rice, of course with her Avengers background, it will be a spectacular performance. As for the men, one of them has to be Bruce Willis and the other must be Samuel L Jackson.  I can just hear the catch phrase as it trickles off of Jackson’s tongue, “Bless this, muthafukkaz…”

Have a wonderful day and please share what are you all reading about this fine Sunday morning?


Queen Ann Lays Down the Law on Mitt’s Taxes as Obama Opens a New Campaign Front

Thanks to Delphyne, who posted this link on the morning thread: Ann Romney: We’ve Given ‘All You People Need To Know’ About Family Finances

Mitt Romney’s wife is reinforcing her husband’s refusal to make public several years of tax returns, telling ABC News “we’ve given all you people need to know” about the family’s finances.

“You know, you should really look at where Mitt has led his life, and where he’s been financially,” she said in her interview with Robin Roberts. “He’s a very generous person. We give 10 percent of our income to our church every year. Do you think that is the kind of person that is trying to hide things, or do things? No. He is so good about it. Then, when he was governor of Massachusetts, didn’t take a salary in the four years.”

Roberts pressed: “Why not show that, then?” and reasoned that people could “move on” if her husband released his returns.

Romney responded, “Because there are so many things that will be open again for more attack… and that’s really, that’s just the answer. And we’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life. And so, the election, again, will not be decided on that. It will be decided on who is gonna turn the economy around and how are jobs gonna come back to America.”

Queen Ann has spoken, and that’s that, you people. Ann’s attitude puts me in mind of this famous quote from Leona Helmsley: “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes…”

Meanwhile, President Obama is opening a new campaign front today in Florida. The Bain attacks were just a warm-up for an even more lethal attack in which the consequences of Mitt Romney’s stated support of the Ryan budget will spelled out in detail. From MSNBC’s First Thoughts:

Here comes Medicare: The past few weeks on the presidential campaign trail have featured aggressive attacks and counterattacks. On outsourcing by Bain Capital. On Mitt Romney’s post-1999 association with that firm, as well has his tax returns. On charges of “crony capitalism” in the Obama administration. And on President Obama’s views about business. And today when Obama begins a two-day swing through the crucial state of Florida — with all of its seniors — he’ll introduce another attack: hitting Romney on Medicare and the Ryan budget. Per the campaign, the president “will discuss his commitment to strengthening Medicare, and a new report tomorrow that highlights the devastating impact Mitt Romney’s Medicare plan could have on the 3.4 million Floridians that rely on Medicare.” Bottom line, per the campaign’s guidance: Obama will argue that Romney — through his support for the Ryan budget plan — advocates ending Medicare “as we know it.” Obama starts his Florida swing with a 1:25 pm ET event in Jacksonville, and then he heads to West Palm Beach at 6:20 pm. Tomorrow in the Sunshine State, he hits Ft. Myers and Winter Park.

As Ed Kilgore wrote this morning, Jonathan Chait predicted this two-front strategy last month.

I strongly suspect that Obama is currently in the first stage of a two-part assault on Romney. The first is to define his motives and perspective: a rich man who sees the world from the perspective of the CEO suite and blithely assumes what is good for people like himself is good for everybody.

This is the essential predicate for part two, which I would guess (I have no inside information) will dominate the last half of the campaign. Part two is Romney’s fealty to the Bush-era low-tax, anti-regulatory ideology and the radical Paul Ryan plan. The average undecided voter pays little attention to politics and might not understand why a candidate would return to failed Bush-era policies or slash the social safety net in order to clear budgetary headroom for keeping taxes on the rich low. Defining Romney’s business career is a way of making sense of those choices.

This morning, Chait announced that phase two begins today.

Greg Sargent explains why stage two is necessary:

Keep in mind: A focus group convened by the pro-Obama Priorities U.S.A. found that voters simply refused to believe that Romney or Ryan would really transform Medicare into a quasi-voucher program while also cutting taxes for the rich. This is what the assault on Romney’s Bain years is really about. It’s an effort to establish an image of Romney that will make it easier for voters to accept that this is indeed the agenda Romney has embraced and would carry out as president.

As the Obama campaign will point out, Republicans expect Romney to essentially rubber-stamp the Ryan’s agenda. ”We want the Ryan budget,” Grover Norquist recently said. “Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States.”

The attacks on Romney’s business background and core rationale for running for president may enable the Obama campaign to fight Romney to a draw on the economy — by persuading swing voters who are unhappy with Obama’s performance that Romney certainly doesn’t have the answers to their economic problems, and could even make things worse.

I heard on the Morning Joe show today that Obama’s Bain attacks aren’t working because polls still show Obama and Romney deadlocked after weeks of the Obama campaign pounding Romney on Bain, outsourcing, and tax evasion. But I agree with Jamelle Bouie that it’s way too early to know for sure whether the attacks will work.

In the summer of 2004 it seemed that the Swiftboat attacks weren’t hurting Kerry, but only political junkies like us are really paying attention right now. The real tests will come after the conventions and during the debates. Bouie writes:

Given the extent to which commentators have analogized this controversy to the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry, it’s worth looking back at how the former nominee fared during the period in which he absorbed withering attacks on his military record. The Swift Boat ads aired from the beginning of May until the end of August. During this period, according to Gallup, Kerry held a small lead among likely voters.

Kerry’s position began to decline in August, but even then, he ended the month with only a small deficit. George W. Bush didn’t begin to build a large lead until the fall. The growth in Bush’s lead corresponded with a decline in Kerry’s net favorability. It’s possible Kerry was unaffected by the Swift Boat attacks. But it’s also possible that they didn’t begin to have an impact until later. It’s also too early to say whether the attacks on Bain will work. But there’s a chance they’ll have the most effect after the conventions, as undecided voters begin to make a choice, and draw on overall impressions built up over months as they make their decision. Given the new $8 million ad buy from Crossroads — meant to deflect Obama’s attacks on Bain — it’s clear Republicans see long-term danger here.

I have to say, this campaign is getting a lot more interesting. I’m not thrilled with either of the candidates, but I have no problem saying that Romney is much much more horrible than Obama. I probably won’t end up voting for either of these candidates, but as a true political junkie I love watching a hard fought campaign.


Monday Reads

Good Morning!

I thought I’d start this morning reads off with Bill Moyers who is having a good laugh at the expense of billionaires that are donating lots of money to political campaigns.  It seems they really don’t like having their names bandied about and their closets opened.  Pity the Poor Billionaires!!!

Last month, an Obama website cited eight mega-donors to Mitt Romney’s campaign as possessing “less-than-reputable records.” Among them was Frank VanderSloot, a Romney national finance co-chairman who has raised millions for the campaign. He’s a rancher – with 110,448 acres, on which he no doubt roams playing “This Land is Your Land” on his little Stradivarius — and CEO of the billion-dollar company Melaleuca, which Rolling Stone describes as “a ‘multilevel marketing’ firm based in Idaho that sells off-brand cleaning products and nutritional supplements.”

VanderSloot and his wealthy pals went ballistic and cried intimidation. “You go back to the Dark Ages,” VanderSloot said, “when they put these people in the stocks or whatever they did, or publicly humiliated them as a deterrent to everybody else — watch this — watch what we do to the guy who did this.”

Conservatives described the Obama ranking of Romney contributors as an “enemies list,” conjuring images of Nixonian wiretaps and punitive tax audits. But despite protestations to the contrary, these deep-pocketed plutocrats aren’t shelling out the shekels for the love of flag, Mom and apple pie (or tarte tatin, as they call it in the swanky joints).

“Most of the megadonors backing [Romney’s] candidacy are elderly billionaires,” Tim Dickinson writes in Rolling Stone. “Their median age is 66, and their median wealth is $1 billion. Each is looking for a payoff that will benefit his business interests, and they will all profit from Romney’s pledge to eliminate inheritance taxes, extend the Bush tax cuts for the superwealthy — and then slash the top tax rate by another 20 percent.” As at least one of them has said, they view these cash infusions as an “investment,” plain and simple.

Money is rolling into Wisconsin in Tuesday’s recall election. The Hill reports that it’s the most expensive race in Wisconsin history.  The Koch Brothers are knee deep in money trying to keep their union bustin’ boy in office.  We’ll be live blogging this tomorrow night so stay tuned!

Out-of-state sources have funded both sides heavily in the contest CPI said. Barrett has received about 26 percent of his $4 million in donations from sources outside of Wisconsin, while Walker has received two-thirds of his $30.5 million haul from out-of-state. Both campaigns have been aided by strong spending by super-PACs and other outside groups.

Labor unions have spent heavily to defeat Walker. The report says that the nation’s three largest public unions, the National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU),  have directed at least $2 million to anti-Walker efforts.

Walker, for his part, has been aided by conservative businessmen including casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and billionaire David Koch. The Republican Governors Association received a $1 million contribution from Koch in February, according to CPI.

The economy is slowing down.  Oil prices are dropping in response.  The stock market has lost all its value.  Will we see another recession shortly?

The statistics on Friday were daunting. Only 69,000 jobs were created last month, far lower than what’s needed just to keep up with population growth. The job tallies for March and April, shabby to begin with, were revised down, for an average monthly tally of 96,000 over the past three months, versus 252,000 in the prior three months.

The weakness was not only displayed in job growth. Average weekly wages declined in May, to $805, as a measly two-cents-an-hour raise was more than clawed back by a drop to 34.4 hours in the length of the typical workweek.

Similarly, the rise in the number of people looking for work is normally considered a sign of optimism, but, on closer inspection, it appears to be simply the reversal of a drop in job-seekers in April.

Granted, it is better for jobless workers to be actively looking for work than sitting on the sidelines. But without enough jobs to go around, the inevitable result is higher official unemployment. The jobless rate ticked up from 8.1 percent in April to 8.2 percent in May, or 12.7 million people. Of those, 42.8 percent, or 5.4 million people, have been out of work for more than six months, a profound measure of personal suffering and economic decline.

There’s no sign that Washington is prepared to shoulder this responsibility. President Obama’s last big push for job creation, the $450 billion package proposed last fall, would have created an estimated 1.3 million to 1.9 million jobs by providing aid to states for teachers and other vital public employees, investments in infrastructure and tax breaks for new hiring. It was filibustered by Senate Republicans and not brought up for a vote in the Republican-dominated House, with Republican lawmakers claiming that deficit reduction was more important. Since then, they have balked at even smaller administration proposals, like modest investments in clean-energy projects.

Blocking constructive action is bad enough, but it’s not the worst of it. Recently, the House speaker, John Boehner, has ratcheted up economic uncertainty by pledging to force another showdown this year over legislation to raise the debt ceiling. A debt-ceiling debacle would come on top of the expiration at the end of 2012 of the Bush-era tax cuts and the onset of some $1 trillion in automatic spending cuts. If allowed to take effect as planned, those measures would take a huge bite out of growth, further weakening the economy.

Paul Krugman slammed the “anti-bipartisanship” in the Paul Ryan budget and in Romney’s support of obstructionist policies aimed at tanking the economy yesterday on ABC.  Krugman said that the budget Romney supports is a “fraud”.

This morning on “This Week,” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed budget plan a “fraud” as Romney campaign senior advisor Eric Fehrnstrom confirmed his candidate’s support for the plan that would trim trillions in federal spending over the next decade.

“The Ryan plan — and I guess this is what counts as a personal attack — but it isn’t.  It’s not an attack on the person; it’s an attack on the plan.  The plan’s a fraud,” said Krugman. “And so to say that — just tell the truth that there is really no plan there, neither from Ryan, nor from Governor Romney, is just the truth.  That’s not — if that’s — if that’s being harsh and partisan, gosh, then I guess the truth is anti-bipartisanship. ”

Krugman, who has been critical of the Ryan, R-Wis., plan in the past, was responding to the Fehrnstrom, who confirmed Romney’s support for the plan after ABC News’ George Will asked Fehrnstrom to clarify his candidate’s stance on the Ryan proposal.

“He’s for the Ryan plan.  He believes it goes in the right direction.  The governor has also put forward a plan to reduce spending by $500 billion by the year 2016,” said Fehrnstrom. “In fact, he’s put details on the table about how exactly he would achieve that.  So to say he doesn’t have a plan to — a plan to restrain government spending is just untrue.”

Krugman defended the president’s budget plan when asked by Fehrnstrom if he preferred it over the Ryan plan.

“I mean, the president — at least it’s — you know, I don’t approve of everything, but there are no gigantic mystery numbers in his stuff.  We do know what he’s talking about.  His numbers are — you know, all economic forecasts are wrong, but his are not — are not insane.  These are — these are just imaginary,” he said.

Molly Ball writes about the mediocre Mitt Romney Governorship of Massachusetts at the Atlantic.   Here’s my favorite quote “He believed that a PowerPoint presentation would solve all our problems.”   Here’s some other tidbits that lead up to that very funny line.

Romney campaigned on a promise to clean up Massachusetts’ notoriously cronyistic state government, painting his opponent, the sitting state treasurer, as a product of a backroom-dealing Beacon Hill culture. But his efforts once he was elected were somewhat halfhearted and largely fruitless.

One example was the state’s judiciary, a notorious hotbed of patronage. Romney’s attempts to reform it didn’t succeed, and instead, he ended up succumbing to the status quo, the Washington Post reports. His attempt to consolidate transportation agencies was shot down by the legislature, as was his push to remove from the state university system William Bulger, brother of mobster “Whitey” Bulger. (Bulger did eventually resign, in part due to Romney’s pressure.)

“A lot of governors come in offering to change the political culture,” said Cunningham. “But he wasn’t here long enough, he didn’t put enough effort into it, and he had a very formidable opponent.”

Perhaps because of his outsider mien, Romney enjoyed notably chilly relationships with legislators and local officials, who found him distant and somewhat disengaged. John Barrett, who was mayor of the city of North Adams during Romney’s governorship, described him Thursday as “a governor who just ignored us, who didn’t want our effort,” saying he never met with mayors or sought their input. “He believed that a PowerPoint presentation would solve all our problems,” Barrett said.

So, the biggest issue on my mind is the looming Debt-Ceiling fight and the horrible Agent Orange.  I pretty much believe that the House Republicans will crash all the markets and then some if they think it makes Obama less likely to be elected.  Here’s Garrett Epps at the American Prospect.  He believes–as do I–that Obama should use the Constitutional Option and tell them all to go to hell regardless.  It will be interesting to see how soon they will heat this up.

The debt limit will apparently become a crisis again sometime after the election. Boehner two weeks ago announced his plan to demand another round of cuts when the current ceiling is reached at the end of the year. (I suspect this manufactured crisis will only happen if Obama is re-elected; if Mitt Romney wins the election, Republicans will suddenly find economic recovery an important value after all.)

Obama should begin now to prepare for the predicted crisis. And if there is any way to climb down from the inane “my attorney Bernie says I can’t” comment, he should find it. I called the U.S. Department of Justice to ask whether the Office of Legal Counsel has issued, or is preparing, a formal opinion on the President’s possible power under Section Four; the DOJ’s spokesman did not return my call.

There’s an interesting analysis at TP on how the last debt ceiling debate hurt the economy.  A repeat under current conditions could be disastrous.

House Republicans last year used the imminent approach of the nation’s credit limit to force Congress into enacting a series of spending cuts. The hostage scenario led to the nation’s first ever credit downgrade, with the credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s repeatedly citing the GOP’s intransigence on revenue as a key justification. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has indicated that the GOP is ready to reenact the debt ceiling debacle the next time the nation comes close to its borrowing limit. But as economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers write, the economy was significantly setback during the last showdown, which they call “an act of economic sabotage

Follow the links to the Bloomberg analysis and you’ll see why we’re in worse position to weather that kind of anti-bipartisanship nonsense this year. So, who really killed the confidence fairy last year?

High-frequency data on consumer confidence from the research company Gallup, based on surveys of 500 Americans daily, provide a good picture of the debt-ceiling debate’s impact (see chart). Confidence began falling right around May 11, when Boehner first announced he would not support increasing the debt limit. It went into freefall as the political stalemate worsened through July. Over the entire episode, confidence declined more than it did following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008. After July 31, when the deal to break the impasse was announced, consumer confidence stabilized and began a long, slow climb that brought it back to its starting point almost a year later. (Disclosure: We have a consulting relationship with Gallup.)

Businesses were also hurt by uncertainty, which rose to record levels as measured by the number of newspaper articles mentioning the subject. This proved far more damaging than the regulatory uncertainty on which Republican criticisms of Barack Obama’s administration have focused (more on that subject in a Bloomberg View editorial today). Employers held back on hiring, sapping momentum from a recovery that remains far too fragile.

It’s going to be a very long, hot summer.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?



WTF? Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) Not Sure If He’ll Vote for Obama or Romney

Joe Manchin with Barack Obama

From The Boston Globe:

In a statement Friday, the West Virginia lawmaker said he had “some real differences” with both leaders, finding fault with Obama’s energy and economic policies while questioning whether Romney could understand the challenges facing ordinary people.

“I strongly believe that every American should always be rooting for our president to do well, no matter which political party that he or she might belong to,” Manchin said. “With that being said, many West Virginians believe the last 3 1/2 years haven’t been good for us, but we’re hopeful that they can get better.”

The Globe writer has the nerve to call Manchin “moderate.”

Manchin, one of the more moderate Senate Democrats, has broken with his party on several issues as he seeks re-election this year. His state has backed the Republican candidate in the last three presidential elections, and Obama did not fare well in 2008. Obama lost to GOP nominee Sen. John McCain, 56-43 percent, and was overwhelmed by Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary, losing 67-26 percent.

Last time I checked Hillary Clinton was a Democrat and a more liberal one than Obama, so I guess West Virginians are capable of voting Democratic.

Manchin told the National Journal (NJ) that he will vote for the person his constituents want, (which right now looks like it will be Romney says the NJ), but he has concerns about Romney’s support for the Ryan budget because the folks in WV might not like losing their Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. But he doesn’t like Obama’s energy policies. Whatever happened to politicians showing leadership?

Manchin’s position echoes the stance he took during his 2010 special election campaign to serve out the term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd. He declined ahead of that election to endorse a second term for Obama or to say if he would vote for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., to remain majority leader.

If Manchin in fact votes based on which candidate most of his constituents embrace, he will likely cast his ballot for Romney. Obama lost West Virginia by 13 points in 2008 and remains unpopular there. While Romney’s wealth, Mormonism, and views on entitlement reform may not be a perfect fit in a state that remains relatively poor, Protestant, and dependent on federal spending, Obama probably will not take the state….

The share of voters who split their ballots between a presidential candidate and a Senate candidate has steadily declined since 1960. It is now common for more than 80 percent of voters who approve of a president’s performance to back the Senate nominee from the same party, a National Journal analysis of competitive races since 2004 found. Similarly, more than 80 percent of voters who disapprove of a president’s performance tend to support the Senate candidate from the other party, according to the analysis. That is Manchin’s challenge.

I’m guessing the Obama campaign’s reaction to Manchin’s up front announcement that he’ll likely vote for Romney is going to be a bit of a challenge too. Has Manchin ever heard of “The Chicago Way?” I don’t recall even Ben Nelson ever going so far as to publicly announce he would vote for the Republican presidential candidate.