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Election Countdown 2012: Obama Gives Major Disaster Declarations to NY and NJ Before Federal Assessments are Done, and More

This week in the Election Countdown: Four people charged with forcing Vietnamese immigrants to work at a wedding shop as modern day slaves have been convicted of 15 additional criminal counts; Republican congressional candidate in Iowa declared that there should be no flood relief until debt is reduced; Robert Redford adds his voice to the … Continued

This week in the Election Countdown: Four people charged with forcing Vietnamese immigrants to work at a wedding shop as modern day slaves have been convicted of 15 additional criminal counts; Republican congressional candidate in Iowa declared that there should be no flood relief until debt is reduced; Robert Redford adds his voice to the anti-fracking campaign in New York; Obama’s leadership during the hurricane sets him up as “the leader of bipartisanship;” and More.

Mission elapsed time: T + 53 and counting*

Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness. –Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

AZ. Sllavery: “Four family members indicted in July 2011 for turning immigrant Vietnamese nationals into what investigators called modern-day slaves at their Flagstaff wedding shop [(!!)] face 15 additional criminal counts.”

CA. Unions: “Despite intense pressure by the Los Angeles Unified School District leadership and the federal government, UTLA has insisted that its members should be evaluated by evidence-based methods, not by ‘value-added assessment’ that has not been proven to work anywhere.” … Homeless: “[Costa Mesa] Mayor Eric Bever [here] has asked city administrators to investigate enforcing the city’s nuisance ordinance, normally applied to organizations that contribute to increased local crime, on two longstanding city charities in an attempt to boot them out of town. Bever believes that Someone Cares Soup Kitchen and Share Our Selves are responsible for attracting homeless people to the city and that the homeless create problems.”

DC. Hurricane Sandy: ” Federal government offices in the Washington area will reopen Wednesday after being closed for two days because of superstorm Sandy.”

FL. Hispanic vote: “If the numbers are all over the place, there’s a reason for it: The FL Hispanic vote is not monolithic. Survey in one area (like Cuban-heavy South Florida or Puerto Rican-heavy Central Florida) and your poll can move right or left. Since 2008, the Hispanic voter rolls have grown 22 percent overall to 1.7 million, about 14 percent of the electorate. Hispanic no-party affiliation growth: 38 percent. Democratic growth: 22 percent. Republican growth: 7 percent.” … Tinpot tyrants: “[Manatee County Commissioner Donna Hayes] said, ‘This doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m a county commissioner. It doesn’t matter. I can do whatever I want,’” White said. “She said she was an elected official. She said poll workers are a joke and that she outranked me. At this time I didn’t even know who she was.”‘ … The Romney: “The Romney campaign announced that the candidate will headline a trio of rallies Wednesday in FL.”

IA. Austerity: “Cedar Rapids shouldn’t get federal help with flood control until Congress reduces the debt, R congressional candidate Ben Lange said.” … Voting: ” A slam of the gavel abruptly ended a combative meeting of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors Thursday. The purpose of the meeting was to get to the bottom of [County Auditor Tom] Slockett’s purchase last month of 70 laptops, 70 identification scanners and 70 printers at a total cost of $62,580 for use at voting precincts.” Identification scanners? Huh?

IL. Hurricane Sandy: “Sandy’s outer bands were violent enough to rip up near-record high waves Tuesday on Lake Michigan, sending a community of avid surfers in Chicago into the cold, churning waters. Wave heights out in the middle of the lake reached 20 feet, short of the 23-foot record set last year by a strong storm pushing down from Canada.”

MD. Hurricane Sandy: “More than 2 feet of snow fell in parts of Garrett and Allegany counties as the remnants of Hurricane Sandy collided with a cold front backed by polar air.” And in Maine? Nothing.

ME. Landfill: “‘It should be restated that DEP has no obligation to serve [state-owned landfill operator] Casella’s customers,’ [Ed] Spencer said. ‘If Casella wants to stop incinerating in Biddeford, they have choices,’ among them, sending southern Maine waste out of state or to one of the three other waste-to-energy plants in Maine.” Well, in a market state, yes the DEP does. … Angus King: “On [Independent Angus] King’s side, the 501(c)(4) nonprofit group Americans Elect continues to spend on the former governor’s behalf. As of Monday morning, the organization had spent $1.42 million on promoting King.That organization had raised $1.75 million from three donors — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Americans Elect founder Peter Ackerman and San Francisco investor John Burbank — specifically to aid King.”

NC. Voting: “State Board of Elections Executive Director Gary Bartlett says his office has received many reports of ‘aggressive electioneering’ at in-person voting sites during early voting that ends Saturday. Bartlett said he’s never heard more complaints, misinformation and what he calls voter suppression or intimidation activities during his tenure.”

NY. Fracking: “In one ad [for Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy] he states, ‘This is Robert Redford. New York faces an urgent decision: Whether to begin hydraulic fracking, a process that blasts toxic chemicals into the ground to release natural gas. It would be a dangerous mistake. Fracking is a bad deal for local communities.’” … Hurricane Sandy: ” An out-of-control six-alarm blaze is ravaging the Breezy Point neighborhood in Queens and has destroyed at more than 50 homes. Some hydrants in the area were submerged under seawater and that firefighter rigs could not access the area to fight the blaze.” … Hurricane Sandy: “A million bees living on the banks of the East River met a horrible end on Oct. 29 when Hurricane Sandy tore their hives apart. The insects were part of a honey-making plan by the urban farmers at the Brooklyn Grange, who maintained 25 hives — each containing about 40,000 bees — on Pier K at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.” … Hurricane Sandy: ” “There was a lot of criticism of FEMA from the [Hurricane] Katrina days, and today you hear nothing but good things about FEMA. they certainly have been very helpful to us,” [Bloomberg] said.” … Hurricane Sandy: “Anyone affected by Sandy, including homeowners, renters, and businesses, can call the Federal Emergency Managment Agency (FEMA) at 800-621-3362 (FEMA) or visit to register for federal disaster assistance.”

OH. Voting: “As a strategy, TrueTheVote has tried to align itself with election officials and seek some form of deputized role. In CO, they offered to help counties with their voter list purges. In WI during last June’s gubernatorial recall election, they wanted to help verify recall petition signatures. Those two efforts led nowhere. But now in OH, they clearly are pushing the legal line with their poll worker training.” … Jeep flap: “Last week, Romney recklessly told a large audience in Defiance that he’d read that Chrysler’s Italian owners — that would be Fiat, which has controlled the American automaker since 2009 — were planning to move all Jeep production to China. But apparently Romney had been reading a blogger [(!!?!?)] who misunderstood reports that Chrysler was looking to again make some Jeeps in China for that expanding market. The news is a sign of Chrysler’s health, not of some sinister intentions by its management. A company spokesman called any suggestion that Chrysler is abandoning its U.S. plants ‘a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.’” Language! Then again, Obama did bail them out, so fair’s fair. … Jeep flap: “An advertisement from the R candidate’s campaign run on both radio and television this week suggested that Chrysler was preparing to shift production of its Jeep brand from the US to China. The Chrysler chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, wrote in an email message to the Detroit Free Press that the company felt it needed to ‘unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China.’” … Jeep flap: “Here is the bottom line regarding the Romney camp’s Jeep ad: It gives the impression that they’re trailing in OH. Otherwise, they never would have resorted to this kind of TV ad; it’s the feel of going nuclear” (The Trail). Note that Romney is resuming campaigning in FL, not OH.

PA. Voting: Just horrible confusion in Philly (BradBlog). World’s greatest democracy! … Foreclosures: “The federal court has upheld the Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds’ right to sue [MERS] and banks doing business with that company for $15.7 million that she claims is owed to the county in recording fees.”

TN. Fracking: “According to the newly approved Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) rules on fracking, ratified by the Tennessee Oil and Gas Board on Sept. 28, if enough of your neighbors sign away their mineral rights (sometimes for as little as $10 an acre), a gas drilling company can use your land, whether you like it or not.”

VA. Hurricane Sandy: “‘To get a disaster declaration in literally a matter of hours is almost unprecedented,’ said McDonnell, a staunch Rpmney supporter.” … The trail: “Romney will make a three-city swing through VA on Thursday, including an evening rally in Virginia Beach.”

WA. Police state: “To obtain a warrant to search someone’s home, person, car or records, police need probable cause, based on a sworn statement, to believe the thing being searched contains evidence of a crime. But under the [WA] special inquiry statute, they can obtain those same records with a subpoena secretly issued by a judge based on a lesser legal standard, reasonable suspicion. No sworn statements are required, though many jurisdictions say their investigators or prosecutors are under oath when they ask the judge for a subpoena.”

WI. Surrogates: “Romney canceled his West Allis appearance last night because of Hurricane Sandy. But today, his wife and running mate are scheduled to be in the state. Joe Biden and Bill Clinton will be filling in for Obama this week.” … Food carts: “The city’s Vending Oversight Committee, as part of its annual review of food carts, on Wednesday will discuss whether carts must offer vegetarian menu items.” Never happen in Philly. Sausage inna bun!

Outside baseball. Role of government: “[F]or the past 40 years we’ve had this constant drumbeat of no we can’t, it’s too hard, we can’t afford it, everybody fends for themselves, there’s no help for anybody, let’s all just go home and if you have to step over a homeless dude to get to your car then do it because that’s the price of doing business. People deserve to have their homes submerged and their shops wiped out and their lives ruined because of where they live or what they do or who they are, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it, because only government is big enough to solve this problem and we all know government isn’t the answer to anything anymore” (Yeah, well, whatever). … Meteorology: “Roger Hill, a WDEV weather forecaster and consultant, called Sandy’s behavior and trajectory “unprecedented” because tropical storms don’t usually hook left, as Sandy is doing.” Or Presidential candidates. … Public goods: “‘We must seek out today’s public square and public voices.’ [PBS News Hour co-anchor Jeffrey Brown said. He] offered no specific ideas to that end, but did suggest that public broadcasting has a role to play. Brown also observed that all things ‘public,’ including public schools, public parks, public universities and public broadcasting, seem to be under some degree of attack.” Indeed.

The trail. Data: “The glowing accounts [e.g.; e.g.] in the newspapers conjure up visions of hip young geeks parked in front of gleaming banks of computers, winning elections with the click of a mouse. … The sophisticated techniques the press describes (like using data to tailor phone pitches to voters) are things the campaign aspires to but fails to execute properly, at least in my field level view. The irony is that the ‘old-fashioned’ way of doing things – before powerful databases – could possibly be more effective than all that tedious mucking about with low quality data.” This is an important post. I have anecdotal evidence that the D field operations hollowed out when many (female) volunteers hung up their clipboards post-2008. We might view the data-centric approach as the electoral version of drone strikes: A high-tech substitute for a hollowed out field force, and far less accurate than claimed. I can think back to one vaunted D field operation that got its lunch handed to it by Rs, and quite recently: The WI recall (not high tech, but just as heavily marketed). We’ll soon know! … Data: “Some of these [‘voter fraud vigilante’] challenges appear to be the work of isolated individuals, others are coordinated by local groups ‘empowered by’ national entities like True the Vote. The common thread is that the challenges are based not on personal information about particular voters, but computerized scans of data records.” … Hurricane Sandy: “Public opinion polling operations were disrupted Monday and Tuesday because the storm cut power and telecommunication services to millions of voters in the Northeast and in the battleground states of OH and VA.” … Hurricane Sandy: “Because Sandy is hitting major population centers, it will affect the election, altering early voting, get-out-the-vote drives and last-minute, door-to-door campaigning. In Virginia’s Senate race, D Tim Kaine and R George Allen jointly asked their supporters to take down their yard signs lest the placards become injurious missiles in Sandy’s high winds.” … Hurricane Sandy: “If poll hours are extended, under a 2002 law passed by Congress in response to the disputed 2000 presidential election, any voters who show up outside of regular hours must use provisional ballots, which are counted later and could be challenged. Sandy’s impact was felt in some of the most competitive states in the presidential race, including Virginia and Ohio. The more provisional ballots that are cast, the greater the chances are that the winner won’t be known until days or even weeks after the election” (good explainer). … Polling: “It’s not a conspiracy theory;those other polls are just simply missing a critical segment of Obama’s coalition: cellphone users.” And: “If you look at the election through cell phones, you see Obama gain an 11-point lead in the convention and post-convention period, but if you look at landline respondents, the race has been close and pretty stable.” I dunno. Seems like a pretty basic methodological flaw for very well-paid vendors to overlook. … Horse race: “[Obama: 253 EV/27 states, Romney 191/23]. The seven jump ball states with a total of 94 electoral votes are CO (9), FL (29), IA (6), NH (4), NC (15), OH (18), and VA (13). To win, Obama needs to win states with 17 [of that] 94, while Romney needs 79 of 94. However, the Obama advantage is not as clear cut as this suggests. In each of these states, Obama and Romney are within 5 percentage points of each other and in most they are within 2 or 3 points of each other” (Charlie Cook).

The Romney. Hurricane Sandy: “Indeed, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports that the Red Cross told her they were ‘grateful for Romney donation but prefer people send money or donate blood don’t collect goods NOT best way to help.’” Clueless CEO. … Ryan: “Instead of reinvigorating Romney’s campaign with bold, radical evocations of a brave new world where old people clutching vouchers buy pensions on the open market, Ryan, it appears, has been hidden away lest he frighten the horses.” … Benghazi: [I’m reading this thing, and McCain can’t even get out a good quote. What’s happening to the Rs? They used to be able to gin up a good scandal!]

The Obama. Hurricane Sandy: “Obama took the rare step of granting major-disaster declarations to NY and NJ without a full federal assessment [verbally] , clearing the way more quickly for direct grants to individuals hit hardest by former Hurricane Sandy” (2012-10-30). … Hurricane Sandy: Presidents can overcome the effect of even the most severe weather damage in a particular location by declaring that location a disaster area (and therefore eligible for federal disaster funds).” (Monkey Cage, 2012-10-28. So, has Team Obama read the literature?) … Hurrricane Sandy: “While Romney was playing political defense, Obama was the model of bipartisanship. He complemented local officials of both parties, saying without the steps taken by state and local officials, the death toll could have been much higher. He also went on to praise first responders and promised ‘no bureaucracy, no red tape’ by the federal government in responding to this disaster.” … Hurricane Sandy: “After suspending official campaigning in deference to Hurricane Sandy for three crucial days, he’s using the power of his office not only to oversee the federal government response, but also to showcase for voters the popular side of an active government while presenting a take-charge image of himself reinforced by the multi-media message machinery of the White House.” It’s a sad day when performing the basic operations of government becomes a cause for celebration. … Obama remarks to the Red Cross: [Obama rises to the occasion (and if I say that…) Yes, it’s a shame that the solidarity Obama evokes in an emergency is being corroded and destroyed on a day-to-day basis by Obama’s market state-driven policies, and one can see quite easily how the mechanisms deployed for “natural” disasters — especially the stress on compliance — could be repurposed for “emergencies” less natural, but this was no Katrina moment for Obama. And Obama’s reach-around to leverage Chris Christie’s 2016 ambitions was a master stroke. (“Already, the late-night calls to Republican Gov. Chris Christie are public (thanks to Christie, not the president, by the way.”) Ha.]

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