Election Countdown 2012: TransCanada Files SLAPP Suit Against Winnsboro Tree Blockaders, and More

Today in the Election Countdown: TransCanada files SLAPP suit against Winnsboro tree blockaders in Texas; In Illinois, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s campaign finances are the subject of a federal probe after the congressman allegedly improperly used campaign money to decorate his home; In New York, a former St. John’s University student testified Monday that she cooked, cleaned and did laundry for her former dean because she feared losing her scholarship; and more.

Mission elapsed time: T + 38 and counting*

Usura rusteth the chisel
It rusteth the craft and the craftsman
It gnaweth the thread in the loom –Ezra Pound, Canto XLV

Montreal. Corruption: “Lino Zambito says he passed thousands of dollars to Benoit Labonté in 2009 and to Line Beauchamp for a fundraiser and he’s currently talking about mayoral kickbacks in Laval. His testimony has also now touched Loto-Quebec. Every time the guy opens his mouth, somebody takes a fall. It’s amazing.”

CA. Corruption: “Port [of Oakland] commissioners met in an emergency closed session Maritime Director James Kwon and his $4,537 bill for a ‘drink and dinner reception’ at Treasures, an upscale gentlemen’s club [in Houston].” … Gaffe: “Assemblyman Mike Morrell’s opponent released videotaped remarks of a campaign speech in which the R incumbent said that government officials ‘should be shot’ for how they handle tax money.” Is this the withering away of the state part?

FL. Charters: “A Miami newspaper reports that [here] Chinese investors are pouring millions of dollars into Florida charter schools. By investing, they get a green card under a federal program that rewards investors who put up large sums.” I never know which synonym to file these stories under: “charters” or “corruption.”

IA. Handmaid’s Tale: “Merlin Bartz is an IA State Senator who carries around an unusual picture of his opponent, State Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm. The photo is a life-size legless paper doll. At public events he sets his creepy companion in a chair next to him. If Senator Wilhelm arrives at the event, she has to move it so she can sit down.” Nice! … Demonization: “‘I’m convinced that if we had more potlucks in Congress we would get more done,’ U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley said Monday. ‘If you get to know somebody, it’s harder to go out onto the floor and demonize them.’”

IL. Charters: “OK, charterheads–let’s have a truce… I’ll stop comparing charters with unionized special-enrollment schools–which limit enrollment to the highest-scoring test takers–if you stop comparing charters with unionized neighborhood schools.” Heh, snark watch: “Charterheads.” … Corruption: “U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s campaign finances are the subject of a federal probe after the congressman allegedly improperly used campaign money to decorate his home.”

MD. Corruption: “Developers and shopping-center owners have contributed more than $225,000 to efforts to challenge zoning decisions in Baltimore County through referendums, financial disclosure forms show.”

ME. Ladies of negotiable affection: “The Kennebunk Police Department on Monday released a partial list of men summoned on charges of soliciting a woman accused of running a prostitution operation out of a Kennebunk Zumba studio. The list includes just the first and last names of 21 men.” So why release them at all, then? How many “John Does” are there in the Northeast? Hundreds? … Democrats: “As a Democratic ‘activist,’ I had no uncertainty about who I’d pick for U.S. Senate: independent Angus King. [Cynthia Dill] is the Dennis Kucinich of our party: correct on the issues but without a snowball’s chance of being elected.” Tells you all you need to know about “Democratic activists” and Democrats generally, doesn’t it? Don’t turn your back on them! … Bellwether: “‘If Romney does have a chance in Maine’s Second District,” Mr. [Ethan] Strimling [of the BDN] said, ‘then Obama is in a lot of trouble’” (pretty good for Izvestia!)

MI. Banksters: “The class-action lawsuit [against Morgan Stanley] filed today on behalf of [five current and former Detroit residents] by the American Civil Liberties Union and others claims the company violated state and federal civil rights laws and was the principal financier ‘to one of the most aggressive and dangerous predatory lenders,’ a now bankrupt company called New Century” (HB). And by “bankrupt” we mean “the executives got away clean with the loot.”

NV. Water: “[Lawncare owner Gary] Hirsch says he’s also seeing more and more homeowners change to xeroscaping in order to reduce water and maintenance costs.”

NY. Corruption: ” A former St. John’s University student testified Monday that she cooked, cleaned and did laundry for her former dean [Dr. Cecilia Chang] because she feared losing her scholarship.” … Socialism & Liberation Party: “[PETA LINDSAY]: It’s strange to me the Ds feel so entitled to the votes of progressive people when they don’t do anything that progressive people want them to do. As Eugene Debs said, ‘I’d rather vote for what I want and not get it than vote for what I don’t want and get it.” …. Fracking: “Like others who favor hydrofracking, [Chinese immigrant Douglas] Lee believes that preventing someone from leasing land for the mineral rights was equivalent to a government seizure of one’s property.” … Fracking: Jobs!

OH. Corruption: “OH’s state watchdog hasn’t yet released an investigative report on the investment scandal that engulfed Ohio in 2005 — and critics want to know why. The Coingate scandal began in 2005 when reporting by The Blade showed that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation was investing $50 million in rare coins through R donor Tom Noe. Noe is now serving 18 years in prison for theft and other crimes.” (Interestingly, Noe’s wife, Bernadette, was responsible for Diebold e-voting machines not leaving a paper trail in Lucas County, 2004). … Swing state Keynesianism: “So why has Mitt Romney not been able to move the numbers in OH? OH voters support the auto bailout by a 54% to 37% margin, and with independents that number is 58% to 35%. 79% consider it to be an “important” issue, and 42% consider it to be a “very important” issue. Think it is impacting this race? The President used his weekly address to talk about the reemergence of the American auto industry.”

PA. Obituaries: “May the Scottish Haggis have many laughs wherever he may travel” (the post, and the source, will surprise you. Unless you’re a sociopath, compassion is a virtue. (Then again, “moderate”? Or just annoying?) … Scranton writes Obama a letter: “I know you hate it when I bring him up, but why can’t you be more like Bill? He doesn’t visit often, but when he does, it’s a party. When he says he loves me, I know he doesn’t mean it, but I just don’t care. If you bump into the big lug out on the trail, tell him to call me. And Hillary doesn’t need to know, OK?” … Unions: “[Philadelphia’s] Mayor Nutter has been getting lots of national attention lately as an Obama surrogate, while [sic] battling at home with one of the party’s biggest constituencies – labor unions.

TX. Pipelines: “[T]he Winnsboro tree blockaders are resupplying their friends in the trees with fresh food, water and cameras despite the threat of a newly-expanded Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) by TransCanada and criminal overcharges by local law enforcement. Due to the SLAPP suits’ outrageous claims, the tree sitters have by-and-large felt too threatened to safely reveal their identities, despite their protest being nonviolent.” … Corruption: “In 2007, the state’s voters elected to create [the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas], authorizing the state provide it with $3 billion over 10 years. After [its] chief scientist, [Nobelist] Dr. Alfred Gilman, [resigned] in May, the agency’s eight principal scientific reviewers all followed suit last week. Gilman’s resignation followed a decision by the institute’s oversight committee to set aside scientific grant proposals and rush approval of an $18 million commercialization grant led by the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.” Good for Gilman!’ … MOOCs: ” As expected the University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously approved a new systemwide partnership with edX, a provider of massive open online courses, on Monday.”

VA. Public goods: “‘[The UVa putsch] stands out as the most abrupt and the most opaque and the only one with presidential reinstatement at its conclusion,’ [said Hunter R. Rawlings III, president of the Association of American Universities.] ‘Money was at the center of the maelstrom. The old public compact we had in this country is now close to broken. After a certain point, the public stops listening and we’re very close to that point now.’”

VT. Food: “About 1,500 jobs would be created over the next decade if residents double their consumption of locally produced food, [the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund] report estimated. Between 2010 and 2011, about 497 jobs were added, said the group, which is expected to release new figures in January.” This too is supply chain activism.

Outside baseball. Ladies of negotiable affection: “Dania Suarez will recount the chain of events that ensnared more than a dozen agents and members of the U.S. military in the upcoming memoir, which is tentatively titled ‘Room Service.’” How a propos. I still think Suarez should run for President of Columbia. … Fracking: “The World Bank estimates that in ND alone, natural gas flares produce the same amount of global warming pollution as 2.5 million cars. Across the board, the oil and gas industry wastes two to three percent of all the natural gas in the country, according to the EPA, due to flaring, leaks and other waste. Other experts think this number is even higher, and that unconventional gas production, like fracking, wastes up to 8 percent.” Because freedom! … Fracking: “There is not yet an integrated worldwide system for moving natural gas wherever the price is highest. In North America natural gas is essentially a regional product. It can be moved via pipeline between the United States, Canada and Mexico, but there it stops. For that reason the glut of natural gas caused by overdrilling of newly available shale gas deposits has brought prices down dramatically.” So we’re building pipelines why? (This is another “supply chain justice” issue.) … Charters: “Because charters are now an organized ‘movement’ on behalf of ending public education (plus every other public enterprise?) without any interest in carrying out a nearly 60-year-old U.S. Supreme Court mandate (to integrate schools), it’s important to expose them. They are also strong supporters, as a movement, for testing, high stakes, merit pay, and ending unions.” Because the children! … Voting: “There have been a growing number of claims that political elites have used a false residence to vote, often to insure their own elections in a district where they do not reside.” (“Residency fraud is an elite fraud because you’ve got to own at least two homes to do it!)

The trail. Polls: “Romney has opened a 5% lead over Obama in the 12 battleground states that are critical to determining the outcome of the 2012 election, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday” (true, just one poll). … Women: “[F]emale voters much more engaged in the election and increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt issues that favor Romney.” Nice going, Joe. … Polls: ” Obama’s chances of winning the Electoral College are now 66.0%, according to the FiveThirtyEight model, up from 63.4% on Sunday” (Nate Silver).

Obama/Romney Debate II. Format: “The 90-minute Hofsta showdown will be a ‘town hall,’ with questions on foreign and domestic policy coming from Crowley and an audience of about 80 uncommitted voters from around the Hempstead area selected by Gallup.” … Moderator: “[N]either campaign is looking for Ms. Crowley, a veteran political journalist, to press their candidates with tough follow-ups to whatever questions are put forth by the audience of undecided and persuadable voters at Hofstra.” … Expectations: “Watch for an ‘Obama Comeback’ narrative to drive the Wednesday through Friday news cycles. There’s no way that the president performs as poorly as he did in Denver.” … The political class: “Both campaigns are terrified at anything even remotely spontaneous happening.”

The Romney. Ryan: “Ryan walked into the dining hall on Saturday to take a picture and according to the president of the St. Vincent De Paul Society, it was without permission. Ryan made the appearance after a town hall forum at Youngstown State University. Brian Antal told the Washington Post the organization’s bylaws do not allow them to get involved in politics. But he said the pictures were staged and are not accurate, and that all Ryan did was pick up a clean metal pan, pretend to wash it and then leave after the picture was taken.” (There’s a history here: NC 2012-06-09.]

The Obama. Money: “Despite the fact that Paul once raised almost twice as much as Obama did from the military, the president has received $536,414 from military donors, compared to Paul’s $399,274 and Romney’s $287,435, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics. These numbers are based on donations greater than $200.” … Money: “[BIDEN: With “the guy I serve with, it depends on only one thing: his word. What he says, he does.” Well, for the audience of donors, this could even be true.

* Slogan of the day: The Whole Country Is Singing With Joy!