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Election Countdown 2012: Insurers Will Hand Out $1.1 Billion in Rebates to Consumers, and More

The past: u201cMitt Romneyu2019s financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.u201d The future: u201cThe newly leaked document is one of the most controversial of the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] trade pact. It addresses a broad sweep of regulations governing international investment and reveals the Obama administrationu2019s advocacy for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.u201d Thought for the day: Things can always get worse!

In today’s Election Countdown 2012 news: insurers will hand out $1.1 billion in rebates to consumers, Sandusky is sentenced on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, both Obama and Romney stay vague on immigration, and more.

D – 77 and counting*

“When wrongs are pressed because it is believed they will be borne, resistance becomes morality.” –Thomas Jefferson

Montreal. Les Belle Casseroles! Corruption, Charbonneau Commission: “The [Tony Accurso] chart included his links to the Quebec Federation of Labour Solidarity fund, which invested in his real estate developments. The Solidarity Fund was founded by Claude Blanchet, husband of Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois, who turned it over to Raymond Bachand, now finance minister in the Charest government.” One big happy! June 22 (like 17) manifestation: “In Montreal, protesters stretched along several city blocks, waving flags, signs and calling for lower tuition costs for post-secondary education tuition.” Coverage notably light, but Gazette had a fine (youthful) twitter feed with lots of pictures. Andrew Katz: “No shortage of cameras or French music. Skews young but plenty of older folks #manifencours” Gazette: “I asked around if this manif is more subdued than before and why. Answers: it’s hot, we’re tired, Charest is polarizing the movement.” From curated photos the numbers are quite respectable, especially for a hot summer Friday in Festival season when all the students are out of town. Gazette: “I just saw the scale of this crowd. No joke, it’s monstrous.” (with pic) “Perhaps not as big a crowd as May 22, but huge enough to make a point.” And see twitpics here, here, here, and here. (Note presence of blue Quebec flag, not prevalent earlier. Flip side of Charest polarization?) Rumors of 100,000 seem happy talk — I’m seeing one retweeted photo from some hotel room — but the movement is very much alive, and an initial estimate of 5,000 was much, much too low.

FL. Mailer: “This district is primarily a Jewish district composed of residents like us.” Oopsie.

MI. Voting: “Romney has a strong ally: legislation being pushed this month by his fellow Rs aimed at preventing the nonpartisan League of Women Voters from undertaking the voter-registration drives it has sponsored for nearly a century.” Referendum shenanigains: “R member of the Board of State Canvassers Jeff Timmer resigned this week without giving a reason.” “Without a quorum, the Board will be unable to certify ANY of the referendums headed for the ballot in November.” Including “the petitions to repeal Public Act 4 — the Emergency Manager Law — and the ‘Protect Our Jobs’ petitions to place collective bargaining protections in the state constitution.” Media shift: “The timing of the rise of The Craig Fahle Show may be no coincidence. …[I]n 2009, about the same time that The Craig Fahle Show relaunched under its new name, the big regional newspapers reduced home delivery to three days a week. In July of that same year, The Ann Arbor News ended its 174-year run.”

MN. Foreclosure: “Since 2008, banks have foreclosed on 3,900 homes in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. A group of concerned citizens appeared at the Open Mic session of the Coon Rapids City Council to [to support] an ordinance requiring banks to register foreclosures with the city and pay a fee to cover the costs of the vacant properties.” Incentives! Union busting: “In what appears to be one of those ‘Do what I say, not what I do’ moves, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is giving the boot to a union that has been negotiating contracts with the church for nearly half a century.” (CL)

MT. Tinpot tyrants: “Members of the Occupy Helena group are asking city police to explain why it needs an armored vehicle.”

NJ. “Bayonne city officials confirmed yesterday that the city intends to borrow nearly $84,000 from the Bayonne City Employees Credit Union to help purchase a ‘weapons of mass destruction rescue vessel’ that costs roughly $305,000.”

NV. RNC “is financially supporting an effort to bring clarity to the Nevada presidential election ballot. By clarity, the RNC operative means minimizing [that someone who] doesn’t feel committed to Romney can register a protest vote.”

PA. Susie: “I’m sure you’re very nice to your wife and family, and I’m sure your dog loves you. But you’re a municipal bond dealer, and that’s really all I need to know about you.” Ouch! Convicted abusers I: “A jury on Friday convicted Jerry Sandusky of 45 counts of sexual abuse. … Sandusky was widely expected to testify in his own defense until Wednesday when his attorneys abruptly rested their case. NBC News reported Thursday Matthew Sandusky’s willingness to testify [trial that Sandusky had abused him ] was pivotal in Jerry Sandusky’s decision not to take the stand.” Convicted abusers II: “Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia has been found guilty of one count of endangering children in the archdiocese for which he served as secretary of clergy from 1992 to 2004. The jury was shown evidence that Lynn had concealed reports of alleged sexual abuse by priests and had not acted strongly to keep molesters away from children, nor did he report suspected abusers to criminal authorities. … Lynn is now the first senior church official to be convicted of a cover-up in the priest sexual abuse scandals.”

TX. Corruption: “[The El Paso Times] published a rare front-page editorial calling for the resignation of five school board members. This comes after former El Paso ISD superintendent Lorenzo Garcia pled guilty to federal conspiracy charges on Sunday. … Garcia was accused of giving out a $450,000 no-bid contract to someone with whom he had a personal relationship. [H]e was also guilty of gaming test scores to defraud the Texas Education Agency and the U.S. Department of Education.” Laboratories of democracy: “Texas appeared to get a head start on other states by buying the [lethal injection] drugs when supplies were still available. By the summer of 2011, the domestic supplies had mostly dried up — and the other states were left hunting for pentobarbital in places such as England and Pakistan.”

VA. UVA Putsch, student: “Everything that I respect and value about U-Va. is wrapped up in this. Over and over again, they stress to us honesty and trust. And then this happens.” Gov. McDonnell: “I want final action by the Board on Tuesday. If you fail to do so, I will ask for the resignation of the entire Board on Wednesday. Regardless of your decision, I expect you to make a clear, detailed and unified statement on the future leadership of the University.” Dragas answers: “Governor McDonnell is right that three [sic] meetings on this issue are enough, and we must get final resolution on this matter on Tuesday so the UVA family can move forward. … I look forward to a respectful and dignified meeting on Tuesday.” Why, what could be more “respectful and dignified” than a secret firing for no cause? But: Is Dragas doubling down, or is this kabuki? “A source in the governor’s office tells me that McDonnell intends to reappoint Dragas. Cue spit takes. #uva.” A long-time VA observer comments: “That means there’s serious money behind Dragas, otherwise McDonnell would throw her under the bus.” So, once again, on the MOOC: Who’s the vendor, who does the financing, and who does the marketing? Larry Sabato: “Obvious that Rector Dragas has no intention of yielding even though almost everyone opposes her on Sullivan. Hubris, not humility.” John Dickerson: “Perhaps the board can regain its footing by embracing another piece of business jargon: ‘Fail fast.’ They should admit their mistake and bring back Sullivan.” WaPo editorial: “U-Va. needs its old president and a new board.” Real estate: “Beware all major real estate projects built on the metropolitan periphery. Human settlement patterns hit a major inflection point during the 2007-2008 [sic] recession.”

WI. Fracking supply chain, sand mining: “That [citizen’s] monitoring effort found that on 51 percent of the 57 sampling days, samples taken about a mile from EOG Resources Chippewa Falls [frac sand mining] facility (which is located within city limits and less than one-half mile from a child care center and near a hospital) exceeded EPA’s PM 2.5 standard.” Not tuned out: “Voters remain highly engaged in political activity, with 54% saying they had tried to convince someone how to vote, and 26% displaying a yard sign or bumper sticker. As in previous polls, about a third, 34%, said they had stopped talking about politics with someone because of conflict over the recall.” Pre-recall, still true.

Outside Baseball. It can’t happen here: “Disclaimer: Adding your name to the ‘Do Not Kill’ Registry does not guarantee that you will not be the target of a drone strike but only that an additional review process will be undertaken before you are labeled an enemy militant and added to the national kill list.” Clay Shirkey: “My bet is that the group pattern — the named group that can do things like open a bank account or take some kind of coordinated action in the world — is an overlooked pattern that someone is going to reinvent.” Media shift: HuffPo’s first story as an iPad app (and that is the story, not the Politico foofra. Shoppers always have lousy working conditions). Voting: “Thanks to publicly counted hand-marked paper ballots used by the GOP for their own caucuses across the entire state, a Ron Paul supporter was able to come forward to point out that the GOP had reported inaccurate Caucus Night tallies on their website.” Publicly counted hand-marked paper ballots are the gold standard. A paper trail is not the primary record and is thus insufficient. You’re gonna have to learn your clichés: “[Chris] Hayes mentioned the origin of the term ‘level playing field’. [It] comes from bankers talking about competing with other bankers to avoid regulation. Go figure” (see). “Liberal-leaning chefs have embraced artisanal organ meats” (e.g., foie gras). That’s silly. I don’t embrace foie gras; I inhale it.

Policy. HCR: “The Obama administration said Thursday that insurers will hand out $1.1 billion in rebates to consumers this summer as part of the health overhaul.” One billion is 1/350 of the money wasted by the private health insurance system on CEO salaries, profit, and administration.

Immigration. Bloom off the rose in one day, Miami Herald headline: “Obama speaks to Latino group, stays vague on immigration.” Tampa Bay Times: “Neither Romney nor Obama outlined how to address the more than 11 million people living illegally in the U.S.” “Honey, I’ve changed!” watch, immigration: “This time, President Barack Obama insisted Friday to an audience of Latino elected officials who’d heard a similar promise four years ago, he really means it: He’s going to fight to overhaul the nation’s badly broken immigration system” (sober mainstream McClatchy).

The economy. “We’ve never had a situation of lengthy economic turmoil that clearly began before the incumbent took office and then failed to make substantial progress over the ensuing four years. In other words, the traditional relationships between the economy and a presidential re-election effort might not hold.” I wonder if leaving the labor force correlates with tuning out? Serious question.

The trail. Clay Shirkey: “This election feels to me, right now, more Nixon-Kennedy than Obama-McCain because television has become the tool of choice for the source of unlimited fundraising. Politicians like television better; nobody gets to yell back to you if you’re yelling on TV.” Nooners: “Politicians give 54-minute speeches when they don’t know what they’re trying to say but are sure the next sentence will tell them. … What does it say of a crisis presidency at a dramatic moment that a president can’t make the case for his own re-election, can’t find his own meaning? It says the other guy can win—if he has meaning. And isn’t just a handsome stranger who says, ‘I’m not the last guy, I’m not the guy you don’t like.'” 538: “Calculating ‘house effects’ of polling firms”.

Green Party. PA, fracking: “The Green Party of Pennsylvania opposes the development of a massive petrochemical “cracker” plant on the banks of the Ohio River near Monaca in Beaver County. The proposed Shell Oil Co. plant would [process] Marcellus Shale [gas].” TX: “Jill Stein, presidential candidate of the Green Party, just qualified for matching funds in the state of TX.”

Elizabeth Warren. “Since September, she has hauled in nearly $16 million, more than any of the 1,613 candidates officially running for Congress on the March deadline.” 2016!

Robama vs Obomney watch. The past: “Mitt Romney’s financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.” The future: “The newly leaked document is one of the most controversial of the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] trade pact. It addresses a broad sweep of regulations governing international investment and reveals the Obama administration’s advocacy for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.” Thought for the day: Things can always get worse!

Romney. Veepstakes: “Paul Ryan of WI, the Budget Committee chairman, has submitted paperwork to the Romney campaign. Sources confirm that he is being vetted for the vice-presidential nomination.” So long, Marco: “If I had gone to [Romney’s fundraiser in] Utah, I wouldn’t have seen my kids for 15 days.” Spending more time with the family! Advancing, the narrative: “The sunshine was so bright, at times Romney had difficulty reading his teleprompters” (hint).

Obama. Jobs: “We do not need an outsourcing pioneer in the Oval Office,” Obama told some 3,000 cheering supporters at a rally at Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry Campus in Tampa, FL.” Or a TPP pioneer, either (see above). Changing the subject: “Discussion of immigration hovered around 1% in the past month until his announcement, when coverage of the topic spiked by 33%, surpassing discussion of the economy by 9% in the middle of June. ” Just like gay marriage. What next? WPA? Proof Platinum Coin Seignorage? Fuhgeddaboudit. The Obama events registry. Oh, Lordie. What next? Funerals? “In lieu of flowers…”

* 77 days ’til the Democratic National Convention has ’em “shaken, not stirred” on the floor of the Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC. 77? “Don’t Worry About the Government”!

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