This week in the Election Countdown: Iowa threatens criminal action against international election observers who may violate state laws on election day; Libertarian candidate Barbara Howe of North Carolina says companies should be free to explore for energy as long it does not involve taxpayer money or tax incentives and companies are bonded for damages; Closures of government building in Pennsylvania has promted an extension in the application deadline for absentee ballots; New information on Mitt Romney’s taxes indicates that he used the Mormon churches tax exempt status to evade payment; and More.
Mission elapsed time: T + 54 and counting*
Nobody knows anything. — William Goldman
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Walmart. Supply chain: “In the recent strike of just two dozen subcontracted Walmart warehouse workers in Elwood, Illinois, the strikers heard reports from allies at Walmart retail stores in the region that there were already shortages of goods. This occurred less than 10 days into the strike, Elwood warehouse worker Mike Compton told me.”
CO. Legalization: “As of last week, there were 266 licensed dispensaries in CO, with the possibility for almost double that number by the time the state Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division finishes licensing.” … Police state: “The following photos depict those officers, dressed in combat fatigues and carrying assault weapons, before and during arrests of activists affiliated with Occupy Denver at yesterday’s foreclosure defense.” So bank can take over a house? WTF?
GA. Privatization: “The next big play, openly demanded by Atlanta business leaders like the Chamber of Commerce, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the legislative oversight committee, and tacitly agreed to by Atlanta’s black mayor, its majority black city council, and most of the local black leadership class is privatization of the city’s transit assets, all at once or piece by piece. The transit agency’s own governing board is on the privatization bus as well. ”
IA. Voting: “Iowa has joined Texas in warning international election observers of possible criminal prosecution if they violate state laws and get near polling places on Election Day.” … Voting: “Unreturned absentees usually run 7 to 10 percent once returns are official, [Chad Olsen, spokesman for Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz] said — enough to leave a losing candidate wondering what might have been.
LA. Hurricane Sandy: “The [NOLA] unwatering team successfully removed 250 billion gallons of water after Katrina, [P]lanning was credited in cutting the time needed to drain New Orleans from an original estimate of four months to less than 40 days. The team will share the lessons learned with New York [counterparts] as they address the best ways of removing millions of gallons of seawater pushed into Manhattan and other New York City boroughs by Sandy’s storm surge.” … Hurricane Sandy: “[H]urricanes like this one present an amazing opportunity. So let me repay all the favors you gave the Gulf Coast back then by helping you get your rebuilding plan going as you helped us get ours on the right track. The absolute first thing you have to do is fire all your public school teachers. Just fire them.”
ME. Social capital: “A computer specialist had a stroke in his [University of Southern Maine office] but wasn’t discovered until five days later, then died at a hospital, relatives and authorities said Wednesday.” Sad.
MI. Refineries: “‘It’s like a Frankenstein lab experiment,’ Theresa Landrum, a community leader and cancer survivor, said of the airborne chemicals that pour from industry in or near [the Marathon refinery in Detroit[s] 48217 [neighborhood] — including volatile organic compounds, many of which are carcinogens, and sulfur dioxide, a respiratory irritant. ‘We actually are lab rats.’ [D]ata submitted by Marathon to state regulators show that emissions of volatile organic compounds from the refinery increased by 36 percent from 2009 to 2011. The EPA has isn’t keeping track of the refinery expansions around the nation.”
MN. Foreclosure: “Humanity provides a foreclosure service if contacted early in the process offers significant hope for home recovery. According to Carlene Coleman, Mortgage Foreclosure Manager for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, the mortgage group handled 406 cases last year with a 77% success rate in preventing foreclosure. They have dealt with owners at all stages of the foreclosure process.”
NC. Fracking: “Libertarian candidate Barbara Howe said companies should be free to explore for energy as long it doesn’t involve taxpayer money or tax incentives and companies are bonded for damages. Howe said she would have questions if someone would want to drill under her Granville County property but said that’s not a good enough reason to bar it.” … Racism: “[The Halloween display that popped up in his neighbor’s yard:]Hanging from a noose in a backyard tree at the house next door is a stuffed body with a photo of Obama’s face as the head.” Creeps.
NE. Pipelines: “NE environmental regulators have released a preliminary 600-page report [which] doesn’t include a recommendation about whether TransCanada should be allowed to build the Keystone XL pipeline to ship crude oil to Gulf Coast refineries. The state report says TransCanada’s new route avoids the environmental sensitive Sandhills region. Pipeline opponent Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska says she’s disappointed the state won’t require disclosure of exactly what chemicals will be carried in the pipeline.” … Pipelines: “[T]he Legislature changed direction in April, during a flurry of amendments in the final days of its regular session, and made the Nebraska DEQ the first stop for future pipeline routing decisions by the state. That decision moved the state’s pipeline oversight toward a department responsible to the governor and away from independently elected officials. Because the change included in LB1161 came after committee hearings, the public never had a chance to weigh in on a departure from the November decision putting the PSC in charge.” Shenanigains like this are always a sign of bad faith.
NJ. Hurricane Sandy: “12:02 p.m.: Utilities report: More than 2.4 million N.J. residents making due [sic] without power. That leaves 1.5 million residents fortunate enough to be enjoying comforts such as light and heat. 11:53 a.m.: Roughly 75 percent of Jersey City residents and businesses remain without power and prospects for the immediate future aren’t great. PSE&G officials expect that power should be restored by Monday” (good live blog from the Star-Ledger). … Hurricane Sandy: “I saw the same gas station attendant twice as I refilled my 2.5 gallon container. I could tell he was exhausted from 12 hours of bending over to fill the tanks. I offered to bring him hot chocolate, cider, coffee, a beer, anything he wanted. He finally cracked a smile and said he’d love a beer but he’d be done for the day at that point.
NY. Ursula Rozum: “The Green New Deal would provide full employment, Medicare for all and student debt forgiveness, to name a few.” … Hurricane Sandy: “The Governor’s office has released a list of all subway and emergency shuttle bus service that will be operational as of 2 p.m. this afternoon tomorrow morning. There are three shuttle bus routes — two plying the Manhattan Bridge and one on the Williamsburg Bridge — filling some of the gaps in subway service. here will be very limited subway service restorations tomorrow today tomorrow morning, on 14 of the MTA’s 23 lines. Nothing below 34th Street.” (subway map) … Hurricane Sandy: “The people gathered around the side of a building on Third Avenue looked like refugees huddled around a campfire. But instead of crackling flames, their warmth came from more advanced technology: a power strip that had been offered to charge cellphones.” …. Climate change: “[CUOMO: ] People will debate whether there is climate change … that’s a whole political debate that I don’t want to get into. I want to talk about the frequency of extreme weather situations, which is not political.” Oh, semantics.
OH. Voting: “Right-wing activists bent on exposing the alleged epidemic of in-person voter fraud suffered a major misfire over the weekend when anonymous pollwatchers set off alarms over groups of Somalis getting rides to a central OH early voting center.” … Balllots: “An unknown number of absentee ballot applications across the state have been rejected due to the [data glitch] delay because election officials did not have some voters’ current addresses.” … Hurricane Sandy: “FirstEnergy reported more than 147,000 homes and businesses without power before dawn Tuesday. More than 114,000 of those were in Cuyahoga County, which includes the city of Cleveland. Restoring all of it could take days.” … Gambling: “An official of a Columbus addiction treatment center told council members that about 40 percent of the people seeking help for problem gambling frequent the unregulated gaming parlors. The Columbus area has 37 of the state’s 819 Internet cafes.” Not what I think of when I hear “Internet cafe.”)
PA. Voting: “Monday’s closures of county courthouses across the state has led Gov. Tom Corbett to extend allow some counties to extend today’s deadline for applying for an absentee ballot.” “Some.” Shades of Operation Alberich, I’m tellin ya. … Voting: ” [Cambria and Somerset] counties have backup battery packs for their electronic voting units, officials said. And, if it would be necessary to provide power for lights at some precincts, some generators are available.”
TX. Pipelines: “Since it altered its route, [TransCanada] has filed a civil lawsuit against dozens of protesters and others who have encouraged action to stop the pipeline, alleging that they have caused disruptions and changes that could cost more than $500,000. TransCanada also has alleged that if protests delay the overall project, it could cost the company millions of dollars.” Perhaps TransCanada should sue in a secret NAFTA court? … Privatization: Privatized TX highway overrun by feral hogs. Noted without comment.
VA. Coal: “So, if you buy the ‘War on Coal’ argument, consider how many other chemical processing factories are seriously considering switching to coal-fired boilers these days. My guess is that such uses went away in the 1950s or 1960s.”
VT. Landfills: “Imagine nine and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with the juice that dribbles off the garbage truck. That’s how much garbage-infused water is pumped out of a single 20-acre cell every year in Moretown Landfill. Moretown residents are concerned that garbage-infused water, called leachate, could leak into the groundwater and make its way to their drinking water wells.”
WY. Refineries: “The FBI and local police are investigating an alleged sabotage attempt at a [Rawlins WY Sinclair] refinery earlier this month. [A spokesman] declined to comment about whether there were any signs of forced entry. He added that the act ‘doesn’t look like’ terrorism. Two May fires burned six employees, three seriously. Fires hit the refinery twice more in August but burned only one employee, who was quickly released from the hospital.”
Outside baseball. Progressives: “Obama supporters who profess an intent to ‘hold his feet to the fire’ may successfully deceive themselves and each other, but this president is no fool. Barack Obama knows that voters have no power whatsoever over him after next Tuesday, that he’ll be free to follow his own inclinations, whatever those are” (Margaret Kimberly). … Tribalism: “[P]eople (Ds and Rs both) were two and a half times as likely to think [the protagonist] was a hypocrite if they were told he belonged to the other party. This experiment only confirms a wide body of work in social psychology demonstrating that we’re biased against people we take to be members of a group that isn’t our own, more biased if we think of them as the opposition. The news is not that we are biased, it’s how deeply biased we are.” … Federalism: “[Heather] Gerken was writing down all the ways in which she thought Sunstein was wrong. What Sunstein didn’t seem to realize, she wrote, was that in order for minority groups to have real influence in politics–in order for them to make meaningful contributions to the way society works–they had to have more than the right to make their voices heard. They had to have the power to actually do things their way.” … Corruption: “There have been a significant number of whistle-blowers during this crisis, but none has become famous. The Bush and the Obama administrations have failed to praise and make famous as an exemplar anyone who fought within the lenders to stop their endemic fraud” (William Black). … Legalization: ” A study released Wednesday by a respected Mexican think tank asserts that proposals to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in CO, OR and WA could cut Mexican drug cartels’ earnings from traffic to the U.S. by as much as 30 percent.”
Grand Bargain™-brand Cat Food watch. Filibuster: “Senator Jeff Merkley, the co-author of a package of filibuster reforms, has secured commitments from nine leading D Senate candidates to throw themselves behind fixing the filibuster if they are elected.” So, where were they in 2009? It would sure be funny if the Ds left the filibuster to place and got a lousy stimpack and ObamaCare, then “fixed” it and passed the Grand Bargain with it. Not that I’m foily.
The trail. Precinct map: [If you’re a map geek, this is really keen.] … Ground game: “Voters nationally, as well those in the closely contested battleground states, report being contacted at about the same rates by each of the campaigns. And with a fifth of likely voters reporting already having cast their ballots, neither Obama nor Romney has a clear advantage among early voters.” … Swing states: “Are MN, MI and PA really in play this close to the election? Obama senior adviser Axelrod says no–and made a bet with MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Wednesday that he would shave his moustache of 40 years if Obama failed to win those states. … Control of the Senate: “Republicans need a net gain of four seats for their first majority in six years, three if Romney wins, allowing a Vice President Paul Ryan to cast tie-breaking votes. Independent experts agree Rs could wind up with anywhere from a net gain of three seats to zero.” … Legacy parties: “[A] case can be made that the R brand name is acting as a drag on Romney’s candidacy. The average net rating for the Republican Party in this series is -13, whereas the average for the Democratic Party is +.3. Is this what’s keeping a president with tepid approval numbers and a still-sluggish economy afloat?” (Note how essential the role of career “progressives” is to preserving this branding.) … Polls: “If we ran the election 100 times, Silver was saying that Obama would win 72 of them — but we’ll only be running it once. Silver was predicting an approximate 50.3 percent of the two-party vote share for Obama, but shifts of as large as 1 percent of the vote could happen at any time. What if the weatherman told you there was a 30 percent chance of rain — would you be shocked if it rained that day? No.” Nate Silver Wars! … Polls: “The states in which every site has Obama leading make up 271 electoral votes — one more than the president needs to clinch victory. The states in which everyone has Mr. Romney ahead represent 206 electoral votes.” … Polls: “It is impossible to adequately weight to compensate for large segments of the population who cannot be reached at all in a survey, or in very low percentages, and whose opinions may have changed from previous, pre-storm measures. Gallup is now tentatively planning on conducting interviewing over the last four days of this week, Thursday through Sunday” … Recounts: “In the battleground states of CO and FL, a recount is mandatory if the margin between the candidates is within 0.5% of the total vote. In OH, it is mandatory if the margin is within 0.25%.” … Biden 2016: “And after it’s all over, when your insurance rates go down, then you’ll vote for me in 2016. I’ll talk to you later,” Biden said, according a pool reporter.”
Green Party. Brass: “Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was arrested Wednesday morning in east TX while attempting to bring food and Halloween candy to protesters camping out in trees to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, according to anti-pipeline activists.” To adopt the immortal and NSFW words of D operative James Carviille: If Stein gave Obama one of her b*lls, they’d both have two.
Robama vs. Obomney watch. Conor Freidersdorf: “Neither the D nor the R candidate in this race is trustworthy or desirable as a leader. Obama is a left-leaning technocrat who habitually breaks his promises and is eager to assume near dictatorial powers in the realm of national security. He has little regard for the Constitution or the recklessness of the precedents that he’s setting. And Romney? He’s a right-leaning technocrat who unapologetically breaks his promises, is eager to assume near-dictatorial national-security powers, and has little regard for the Constitution. Each of these men would have you believe that it is imprudent to trust the other. Yet if their opponent wins, each is on record affirming that he is empowered to spy, detain and kill in secret, and wage war without Congress. Given their willingness to confer those extreme powers, how deep can their mistrust really be?”
The Romney. Taxes: “[Bloomberrg’s Jesse] Drucker used FOIA to get records about another Romney trust, which uses the Mormon church’s tax-exempt status to save him from paying taxes, parking money there to defer tax bills while keeping almost all of the proceeds himself.” … More Kook-Aid, vicar? [Readers, I’d like a really over-the-top endorsement of The Romney that meets the standard Chait set for The Obama (below). Would you leave candidate links in comments?] … Bullshit: “The Daily reached out to Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt, famous for his essay, On Bullshit. [Frankfurt responded:] ‘As for Romney, the only question is whether he is a bullshitter or simply a liar. Probably, he is both. The only remaining mystery is why the public, which often reacts strongly against lying, is so tolerant of bullshit.”
The Obama. Hurricane Sandy: “[T]he pool report fails to acknowledge rumors that the president gently brushed Christie’s bangs out of his face as Modern English’s ‘I Melt With You’ blasted through the PA system.” … More Kool-Aid, vicar? “[A] President Romney would probably kill [Obama’s] grandest achievement of providing health insurance to those Americans too sick or poor to acquire it in the marketplace” (Jonathon Chait). CBO: “CBO and JCT now estimate that the ACA, in comparison with prior law before the enactment of the ACA, will reduce the number of nonelderly people without health insurance coverage by 14 million in 2014 and by 29 million or 30 million in the latter part of the coming decade, leaving 30 million nonelderly residents uninsured by the end of the period.”