In today’s Election Countdown 2012 news: Emails document general counsel Maria Mathews acknowledged Florida’s inability to supply documentation to DHS in voter purge; Martine Desjardins, president of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec, announces decision to opt for door-to-door campaigning instead of nightly demonstrations in Montreal; the US Bureau of Land Management’s plan to allow drilling on the Roan Plateau in Colorado has been stopped by US District Court Judge Marcia Krieger for failing to adequately address environmental impacts, and more.
D – 75 and counting*
“The new always happens against the overwhelming odds of statistical laws and their probability, which for all practical, everyday purposes amounts to certainty; the new therefore always appears in the guise of a miracle.” –Hannah Arendt
Montreal. Monday was the Fête nationale, a holiday. A panaroma of the June 22 March. Not 100,000, but good. Summer schedule: “The dwindling numbers come on the heels of a decision announced before the June 22 march by Martine Desjardins, president of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), to opt for door-to-door campaigning instead of nightly demonstrations. Their goal is to unseat the Liberal government.” Uh oh, WI recall. OTOH, FEUQ is not CLASSE is not CLAC. C’est normale: “Fête nationale party in Bois-des-Filion ends with 22 arrests [Capt. Sylvain Theoret ] says the people arrested will face charges of participating in a riot, armed assault, obstructing a police officer and making threats. Says bottles, rocks and even garbage cans were thrown at his officers by some in the mob of 500 people.” Of course, nobody was wearing a red square, so there’s no story!
AZ. “[R]edistricting in Arizona is done by a independent panel appointed by both the Democratic and Republican legislative caucuses. The panel also includes a fifth member who is registered as a member of neither party. [Partisans] were gobsmacked to find out that they didn’t get to draw the lines. They’ve been filing a series of lawsuits, at your expense and all so far unsuccessful, to stymie the things. This is despite the fact that the commission is part of the state constitution thanks to an amendment the voters passed nearly a decade and a half ago.”
CO. Water: “Cities have been called upon recently by two of the state’s top leaders to step up and provide water to Weld County farmers struggling to grow crops and who collectively face the potential of millions of dollars in lost production. [But] they don’t have any water to spare.” Federal lands: “The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) plan to allow drilling on the Roan Plateau in CO—a 50,000 acre area that the energy industry believes to contain one of the largest gas fields in the continental United States has been stopped by U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Krieger for failing to adequately address environmental impacts.” Fracking: “Nurses operate on the front lines of fracking chemical exposure and …. have first hand evidence of the affects of fracking in communities. They also suffer personal risk in the process. In CO, a nurse named Cathy Behr faced multiple organ failure after treating a drill rig worker splashed with an unidentified mixture of frack chemicals called ZetaFlow. Even when doctors were informed of the chemical composition of the mixture they were prohibited from sharing the information with Behr” [by gag orders].
FL. “Voter purge: “The emails document that — despite public claims to the contrary by Scott and Detzner — as early as October of last year, Matthews fully acknowledged Florida’s inability to supply DHS with the documentation required for all governmental agencies seeking access to the [SAVE] federal database.”
IN. Privatization: “Brazil, IN was out of money and couldn’t afford to keep up parts of its infrastructure, so they turned to the private sector and the result was sponsored fire plugs with KFC buckets on top of them.” Healthy!
LA. Corruption: “Former jail bookkeeper spent stolen $2 million on bills, pizza, Weight Watcher dues.” Gulf: “By adding Biochar, a charcoal-based substance, to marshlands, Silliman’s team is also using new bioremediation tactics to try to break down [polyaromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, a carcinogenic byproduct of oil] into organic material. If this method is successful, he said, it could be used to supplement naturally occurring microbes in the marsh mud that already oxidize the oil carcinogen.”
NY. Corruption: “The Troy firm Capital District Beginnings has been called out by the office of Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for $831,244 billed to the state for the two fiscal years ending in June 2010 for ‘services for no-show executives, inappropriate staff bonuses and other costs, including more than $40,000 for vehicles including one for the director who lives out of state.'” A fine and snarky wrap-up of the 2012 legislative session.
MI. Ballot access: “The Oakland County Elections Division recently rejected Troy Mayor Janice Daniels’ attempt to challenge the validity of the petitions used to collect signatures to recall Daniels, refuting her claims that the ‘type size’ used in the petitions invalidates the petitions and the signatures.” Everybody’s a typographer! Prediction is hard: “A handful of fresh polls indicate MI — for the moment, at least — is a dead heat between President Barack Obama and Romney.”
NJ. Fracking supply chain: “Where will waste from Marcellus wells go? Scratch NJ off the list, if Gov. Christie signs a bill passed this afternoon by the legislature.”
OH. Thomas Suddes: “Given the damage done to working Ohioans by corporate operators — and that, among other things, is what Romney is — it may seem unbelievable that Romney is even competitive in OH. That speaks volumes about how Obama’s economy is perceived by many Ohioans, even after discounting the old white guys who can never accept having a black president. ” Bellwether counties: “In a state that remains a key battleground, Steubenville and its Ohio Valley environs have become quintessential bellwethers, the region a microcosm of the struggle Obama long has faced with white working-class voters.”
OR. “I thought of the Union troops at Fredericksberg who pinned their names onto their jackets before charging the impregnable rebel line.”
PA. Voting, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai R: “‘Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.’ Will Voter ID actually make a difference for Romney? It’s highly unlikely. The closest any Republican has come to winning PA since 1988 was George W. Bush in 2004; he lost by 2.5 percent and 144,248 votes. That’s at least 144,000 higher than the number of voter fraud convictions in PA since 1988.”
TN. Corruption: “[Embattled Davidson County Clerk John Arriola plans to resign. He] has been under investigation for nearly a year over charging couples a $40 fee and pocketing the money when his office performed weddings.”
TX. Lackland AFB sex scandal: “Staff Sgt. Peter Vega-Maldonado pleaded guilty earlier this month to having sex with a female trainee and struck a plea deal for 90 days’ confinement. Then he acknowledged being involved with a total of 10 trainees — a number previously unknown to investigators.” How many more unknowns?
VA. Scare headlines: “Campus Chaos [ZOMG!!!]. Since then, students have demonstrated, hurled insults at Dragas and interim President Carl Zeithaml and spray-painted graffiti in the famous Rotunda that Jefferson modeled after Rome’s Pantheon.” Oh, come on. Our business leaders are like elephants who squeal and stamp at the sight of a mouse. In fact, the student protests are incredibly well-mannered and sedate. This afternoon, they’re holding an honor rally. Today’s BOV meeting: “Sullivan on Monday signaled that she would agree to stay without a guarantee of concrete changes, according to three people familiar with the negotiations.” This removes yesterday’s catch 22. Swill from the WSJ editorial page: Not only local bloggers (“didn’t get their facts straight”) but Darden’s Dean Bruner (“egregious damage to the Truth [capital in original]“) call out the WSJ. Fallout: “The unexpected ouster of President Teresa A. Sullivan of the University of Virginia has drawn the attention of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges, the institution’s accrediting agency. ” Countervailing view: “[N]ot being Dragas doesn’t make Sullivan a charismatic visionary on the verge of reclaiming the university from corporate domination. It doesn’t even put her in the league of Susan Herbt at the University of Connecticut and leaders elsewhere, who are hiring hundreds of new faculty.” Countervailing view: “Dragas may have mishandled procedural and public-relations aspects of the resignation in explaining her reasons for seeking Sullivan’s ouster, but she has provided the most incisive commentary yet seen on the threats facing the university. … Full-time-equivalent (FTE) student enrollment increased 5.4% over that nine-year period. Yet the number of FTE employees increased 8.5%. That is all the more remarkable, considering that Dragas has bemoaned a declining faculty-student ratio. The numbers imply an increase in administrative overhead, expansion in non-core activities, an erosion in faculty productivity or a combination of all three. The strongest academic growth area was “institutional support In other words, administrative overhead.” True at my own multi-campus state university here in the great state of Maine, where if I read the numbers right, fully one-third of the budget is leeched off by administrators at the centralized Chancellor’s office (“the system”). Late breaking: A Koch connection?
WI. Snark watch: “…well-meaning moderates who think the Left can surrender our way to victory…“
Outside Baseball. Corruption: “The lawmakers, many of whom held leadership positions and committee chairmanships in the House and Senate, changed portions of their portfolios a total of 166 times within two business days of speaking or meeting with the administration officials. The party affiliation of the lawmakers was about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, 19 to 15.” Bipartisan! Class warfare: “‘My dad could afford to give me a start in life, therefore I am completely independent and deserve sole credit for all of my achievements’ is a construction I will never understand. Then again I suppose we should all have the grace to be born white in a Western country, because I totally remember that choice in the womb and boy am I awesome for having made it.” James Fallows: “How would you characterize a legal system that knowledgeable observers assume will not follow the law and instead will advance a particular party-faction agenda?” (The headline was “coup,” which has been in the discourse since at least 2009. And at the Atlantic, too!) Non-violent tactic #159: “10 people will be taking part in the hunger strike, which has been organized by a grassroots group called Communities and Postal Workers United. The group of strikers includes … postal workers [and] an activist from an Occupy group in IN. ‘Congress is stuck on stupid,’ said Partridge, a retired letter carrier from Portland, Ore. ‘We’re here to shame Congress into doing the right thing. We’re willing to suffer.’ Pr0n: “We’re going to do for adult what Apple (AAPL) did for the music business with the iTunes store. Rather than the traditional model—$24.99 upfront for all-access monthly memberships—porn consumers will shell out 99¢ apiece for short clips of niche material” (see also). Everybody’s all iThis and iThat — including Rector Dragas, Dean Bruner, and wacky squillionaire Paul Tudor Jones. This time it’s different. Media critique: “While Morning Edition serves as an amplification of the messages of the respective campaigns, All Things Considered tries to provide more third party validated analysis and commentary.” For a restricted range of third parties. Yikes, Maurice Sendak: “Bush was president, I thought, ‘Be brave.’ Tie a bomb to your shirt. Insist on going to the White House. And I want to have a big hug with the vice president, definitely. And his wife, and the president, and his wife, and anybody else that can fit into the love hug.”
Robama vs. Obomney watch. Saint Ronnie: “The White House on Monday verbally rapped the knuckles of a pair of guests who posed for photographs giving former President Ronald Reagan’s portrait the one-finger salute while attending a gay pride reception a week ago.” My pearls! [clutches]
Policy. Fracking: “Heather Zichal, the top White House energy aide, told reporters that she expects the Interior Department rules regulating hydraulic fracturing, dubbed fracking, to be completed by year’s end [despite a two-month extension of the public comment period].” After the election. Immigration
Immigration. Boggled: “[SCALIA:] But to say, as the Court does, that AZ contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the President declines to enforce boggles the mind.” Romney on immigration, 2011: “I actually have a plan in mind, I haven’t unveiled it.” Alrighty then. Pierce: “The president stuck Willard’s feet in quicksand on this issue a couple of weeks ago and, suddenly, his primary-season support for the AZ law is dissolved into raspberry Jell-O because he’s looking at a demographic abyss.” Snark watch, at the Guardian (!): “Finally the news no one has been waititng for: how Mitt Romney will evade commenting on today’s immigration ruling.” “‘[ROMNEY:] … pursue a national immigration strategy…. … each state has the duty – and the right – to secure our borders …’ [Guardian:] ‘Classic piece of Rombollocks. …. Romney gives no details in exactly what areas states should have latitude – issuing their own visas?'” Obama: “No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like.” True! But if an American tries to claim their First or Fourth Amendment rights, send in the goons! There have to be goons!
HCR. Snark watch: “When the Supreme Court puts a torpedo in the side of HCR, I’d suggest spending some time with Winterreise, Death and the Maiden, and a bottle of Scotch, because the music of someone who died of syphillis at age 31 strikes about the right tone for the country we’ve become.” Boo hoo. FISA. TARP. HAMP. NDAA. Mortgage settlement. Kill list. And on and on. Roberts to author? “We don’t know for sure that Roberts is going to write the majority opinion, but veteran court-watchers say it’s almost certain, because Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the Arizona immigration case that was read today. The Supremes try to rotate the authorship duties around. … After today, Roberts is on deck.” Roberts to strike mandate? “Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a former clerk to Justice Sam Alito, said that if Chief John Roberts writes the majority opinion in the health care case, as some have speculated, it would make it ‘substantially more likely’ that the Supreme Court would strike down the individual mandate.” Or not? “My theory remains that Roberts and Kennedy will balk at overturning the healthcare act, especially just four months from a national referendum on the same question. Roberts is a true conservative who believes in the separate roles of the three branches of government.” Or definitely not? 7-2/6-3 ObamaCare. Strategy memo obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times: “The memo outlined a game plan to use traditional media–plus FaceBook and Twitter to ‘serve as a way to inform your followers of the Court’s decision while adding your voice to the conversation. Members should be prepared to have a concise message to send through these accounts once the decision is released.'” “Conversation,” like “pivot,” is another tell that you’re hearing a bullshit narrative. Top-down propagation of talking points is only a conversation if you’re pathologically self-involved. Oh, wait…
Grand Bargain™-brand cat food watch. Drowning Grover in a bathtub: “Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the only Senate D to sign [Norquist’s] Taxpayer Protection Pledge, says he will not let it stop him from backing a deficit-reduction package that raises new taxes.” Jawbs: “[The parties] refusal to agree on a plan to stop the government from going over a ‘fiscal cliff’ at the end of the year is driving American businesses to delay hiring and in some cases to actually trim their payrolls.” Anecdotal quotes from executives!
The trail. Media critique: “With that in mind, here are five questions for the week ahead: (1) How many news cycles will the health care decision dominate?…” Why Politico, and why not Politico.
Obama. Man in the street: “A lot of people who were ardent supporters of [President Obama] the first time around have become a bit disillusioned, because of Guantanamo Bay still being open and some of the other things he didn’t do.'” Razor thin margin, Thomas Suddes: “The corn belt is fundamentally Republican; but a few votes here, a couple there, and a Democrat can chip away at a Republican’s Ohio tally. Truman carried Ohio by just 7,107 votes — Carter, by 11,116. … Obama’s campaign seems to be frantically trying to boost Ohio turnout by nudging what might be called the college-town and yuppie vote (examples: the president’s endorsement of same-sex marriage, as well as his recent decision to stop deporting some illegal immigrants).” Celebrity culture: Obama and Michelle describe their first date. “The [short video] interview coincides with a competition his Obama For America campaign have launched which offers winners the opportunity to have ‘dinner with President Obama, along with a guest of your choice and four other supporters.’ “[OBAMA:] Take tips, gentlemen!” Indeed. One day you may get married, become President, and shill the intimate details of your courtship for five bucks a pop at a fundraiser!
* 75 days ’til the Democratic National Convention ends with old brandy and fat cigars on the floor of the Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC. January 1, 1975: John N. Mitchell, H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman are found guilty of the Watergate cover-up.
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