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Election Countdown 2012: Dream Defenders, College Based Activist Group, Arrested for Unlawful Assembly, and More

This week in the Election Countdown: Florida has the highest percentage of home loans in foreclosure in the country; 50,000 Iowa families will have less help paying for groceries after the federal government changes the food assistance program; 49% say Romney is more empathetic with ongoing economic woes while 45% say Obama is more in … Continued

This week in the Election Countdown: Florida has the highest percentage of home loans in foreclosure in the country; 50,000 Iowa families will have less help paying for groceries after the federal government changes the food assistance program; 49% say Romney is more empathetic with ongoing economic woes while 45% say Obama is more in tune; TransCanada is planning to circumvent its original easement contract; and More.

Mission elapsed time: T + 47 and counting*

For mine own good,
All causes shall give way: I am in blood
Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er. –William Shakespeare, MacBeth

CA. Charters: “Six weeks into the school year a charter school in Rocklin is closing its doors. Four hundred kids were told Friday that their school would close, and Tuesday was their last day.”

FL. Foreclosures: “FL has the highest percentage of home loans in foreclosure in the country. So why is more than $300 million [in settlement money] that could help homeowners sitting unused?” … Foreclosures: “State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkle Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, had proposed Monday that some of the [settlement] money go to state employee pay raises.” … Grayson/Long: ” ‘I want to try to redirect our economic policies toward the greater good instead of what’s good for Wall Street [and] redirect foreign policy toward peace instead of what’s good for the military industrial complex,’ said Grayson, who points to his efforts to ‘save’ Social Security and Medicare, as well as tax the rich, regulate banks and come to the aid of foreclosed homeowners.” Refreshing, but “trying is lying” (AA). … Charters: “The principal of a failed Orange County charter school took home a check for more than $500,000 as the school closed down in June and is still being paid thousands of dollars a month to wrap up the school’s affairs.” … Voting: “The FBI confirmed Wednesday it is investigating fraudulent letters that falsely tell eligible FL voters they may no longer be U.S. citizens and that they could go to prison if they cast a ballot in the Nov. 6 election. The hoax is a puzzling one. If the letters were meant to intimidate people from voting, why were they sent to leaders of the R Party, where they’re easier to detect?” False flag?

IA. Food: “About 50,000 IA families will have less help paying for groceries come Nov. 1, after the federal government changed how they calculate the food assistance program, or food stamps.” … Permitting: “Supervisors voted 4-1 to send a letter to recommend the Department of Natural Resources turn down Ditch’s application for a 5,661-hog confinement. The supervisors’ letter carries no weight with the DNR unless they also take points off Ditch’s ‘master matrix,’ scoring his application. If the county sends a passing score to the DNR, the agency is prohibited under state law from further review of the matrix.” Home rule?

IL. Chicago way: [A] heartfelt thanks to the City Club for giving the great Diane Ravitch a high-profile venue to be so prominently heard. If you get a visit from city building inspectors, you’ll know the mayor was not pleased.” Ha ha?

LA. Pipelines: “Cherri Foytlin, an indigenous South Louisiana mother of six and wife of a Gulf Coast oilfield worker, chained herself to the gate of a Keystone XL pipeyard.” … That sinkhole: ” If you’re planning to participate in the big ‘Thank You’ march where we carry giant photos of President Obama from downtown Lafayette all the way to Port Fouchon (which I’m sure will be organized any minute now) all we ask is that you take care not to step in any sinkholes along the way.”

NY. Banksters: “Under the Responsible Banking Act, which took effect June 28, Quinn and Bloomberg had 60 days to appoint representatives to a board that would examine the mortgage and lending practices of the banks that hold the city’s money. Quinn has only appointed one of her two representatives, while it does not appear that Bloomberg has named his selection.” … Food trucks: “[A]ccording to the Department of Homeland Security, ‘a food cart can be used as an excellent surveillance platform due to their access and long duration stays.’” (hmm). … Taxes: “In a 4-3 decision, the Court of Appeals said lap dances are subject to sales tax, rejecting an argument by the owner of a Colonie strip club that the sensual gyrations are on equal footing, taxwise, with the ballet.”

OH. GOTV: “Heard from Team Obama in Ohio? 36% [of “voters”] Heard from Team Romney in Ohio? 29%.”

TX. Pipelines: “Today it appears TransCanada is planning to circumvent its original easement contract and build its toxic pipeline around the west side of the tree blockade.” A kink in the pipeline? … Cronyism: “The collapse of bioenergy producer Terrabon Inc., which was awarded $2.75 million in 2010 and was backed by large Perry political donors, raises questions about whether the state’s Emerging Technology Fund launched in 2006 could now be worth less than what taxpayers have put into it.”

UT. Thugs: “Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and it is primarily composed of “old and gray” women. Its mission is to encourage elders to advocate on behalf of the environment–in particular, our public lands–and to hike on them whenever possible. Because of their advocacy for wilderness, greater protection for public lands and closing unauthorized all-terrain vehicle trails, the Broads have become controversial in some rural western areas. On Sunday morning a member of the group found the exit gate padlocked shut and an old-hag Halloween mask, doused in fake blood, hanging in effigy. Underneath the mask was a milk jug with the inked threat: “Stay out of San Juan County. No last chance.” Nice!

Outside baseball. Real estate: “As for farmland prices continuing their rapid increase in value, these are still relatively safe at today’s levels so long as policy continues to ensure returns by way of mandated corn use for ethanol as planned, the existing crop insurance program, and quantitative easing by our central bank.” … Top two voting: “Elections in a democracy are supposed to be about choice. Proposition 14 and the Legislature reduced voters’ choice and made California elections less democratic.” … Orwellian language: “Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the ‘disposition matrix‘” (more; more). Because “thoughtful” and “nuanced”! … Police state: “A portable device known as an IMSI catcher, also known by the generic term stingray, acts like a fake cell tower and tricks your mobile device into connecting to it even if you are not on a call.” … Political blogs: “[MARKOS:] That chaotic cacophony of amateur online voices was beautiful while it lasted, though.” Oh, please. … Econoblogs: ” By my count, 40 are going strong, if you include blogs like my own which simply moved house, while 12 have died. Which over a five-year period is amazing.” … Pensions: “Generations of teachers, city, county and state government workers agreed in good faith to forgo immediate wage increases now in favor of benefits in their retirements. Cities, states and school districts took the money out of workers checks [but] never felt obliged to keep their promise and pay their part of those pensions. Pension managers mostly said not funding the pensions was OK because they could make smart enough investments to compensate. The crash of 2007 and 2008 made lots of their smart investments worthless. [Big city mayors, governors and school district execs] they have to recast their broken promises as ‘unfunded liabilities’ and the retirement benefits previously agreed upon as excessive, greedy, and unsustainable.”

Grand Bargain™-brand Catfood Watch. Interview: “Initially, the White House had asked that the conversation [with the Des Moines Register] be considered off-the-record and its details not shared with readers. … Interview: “[OBAMA:] I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs. And we can easily meet — “easily” is the wrong word — we can credibly [to whom?] meet the target that the Bowles-Simpson Commission established of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, and even more in the out-years, and we can stabilize our deficit-to-GDP ratio in a way that is really going to be a good foundation for long-term growth [yeah, like FDR in 1937]. Now, once we get that done, that takes a huge piece of business off the table.” … The deal (2011): “But the major elements of a bargain seemed to be falling into place: $1.2 trillion in agency cuts, smaller cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients, nearly $250 billion in Medicare savings achieved in part by raising the eligibility age. And $800 billion in new taxes” (via Digby). … Interview: “After paging it through it, one question is obvious:Why would the White House seek to suppress something so innocuous? It’s little more than boilerplate stump speech yada-yada-yada.” Well, only if throwing elders and the sick under the bus for the sake of arbitrary financial ratios that having nothing to do with the real economy is “innocuous.” … Betrayal: “Major labor unions and dozens of liberal groups working to elect Obama are worried he could ‘betray’ them in the lame-duck session by agreeing to a deal to cut safety-net programs. The liberal groups are planning to launch an aggressive campaign immediately after Election Day to pressure Obama and Senate Ds not to endorse any deal that cuts Medicare and/or Social Security benefits.” Typical liberals. Try for leverage only when you don’t have it. The gays and hispanics did better, earlier.

The trail. Voting machines: “[T]hese [H.I.G. Capital] voting machines could be rigged in Romney’s favor” (BradBlog). … Voting: “The rigged machines myth is not only distracting, but harms the effort to get out the vote” (Think Progress). … Voting: “According to, there are more than 45 million registered voters in America whose electronic votes will not be backed up with a paper record. America [writes Victoria Collier] ought to look to Ireland and Germany for answers. Both countries dabbled with electronic-voting regimes, blanched at the inherent security concerns and susceptibility toward partisan abuse, and have chosen to do away with the use of such voting machines” (advantage, BradBlog). … Swing states: “[LYNN SWEET:] When I talked Plouffe on Monday after the debate, I asked him if he had a top tier of battlegrounds. Said Plouffe, ‘I can’t do that. They are like children. They are all special and we think we can win them all.’” Oh, please. … Models: “The probabilistic forecasts issued by FiveThirtyEight have been quite close to Intrade and those at other trading and betting markets over the course of the election” (Nate Silver). … Control of the house: “Rs are in a strong position to keep control of the House next year as political analysts predict that Ds will fall more than a dozen seats short of a majority in the Nov. 6 election.” … Ground game: “These basic characteristics were repeated in all the offices I visited [in OH, CO, VA]: The Obama offices were devoted almost entirely to the president’s reelection; the R offices were devoted almost entirely to local candidates, with little presence for Romney.” …. Horse race: “The ‘pros’ tell us that Romney is catching up, the quants say he is falling behind” (James Fallows)

Emergent parties. Candidate bios: Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode, and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson. … Debate: “The people who are throwing away their votes are the ones who are so scared of the other side winning that they are willing to sacrifice everything they believe in to vote for a guy they don’t really like. You don’t have to settle.”

The Obama vs. The Romney III. Civil resistance: “The 15 young adults, part of a college-based group called the Dream Defenders were nonviolent, [and] arrested on charges of unlawful assembly. The group was formed in April after the Trayvon Martin killing. The organization’s biggest issue with both Obama and Romney is that neither has addressed the problem of young kids being ‘taken out of schools and put into criminal justice systems,’ said [Cecilia O’Brien, a Florida State University student] of the group, which has about 100 members. “Everyone definitely feels it was worth it. We feel like this issue is so serious that we’re all willing to put ourselves on the line for the issue.”

The Romney. Empathy: “Among political independents, 49% say Romney is the one who is more empathetic with ongoing economic woes; 45% say Obama is more in tune.” Staggeing.

The Obama. Memes: “And though they are generated and sustained by grassroots Internet users [oh, really?!], Obama has played a key role in popularizing many of them.” … Data point: “Across the board [at Cafe Press] pro-Obama thongs are leading the underwear market, with a whopping 80% of purchases.” …. Microtargeting: “These data are then used to create profiles for the purpose of ‘microtargeting’ — deciding which messages to pitch to whom, through emails, direct mail, phone calls and such. Katy Culver, a UW-Madison assistant professor of journalism, calls this approach “Big data, small targets.” Some people are pursued as donors, others as potential converts, and still others as committed voters the campaign wants to keep engaged to ensure turnout” (sounds familiar). … Never behind: “[T]he narrative has never held that Obama is behind – due to all of his different paths to 270.”

* Slogan of the day: Enthusiastically welcome the victorious opening of the 113th Congress!

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