Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Last Call

Attention Ohioans:  Your GOP Secretary of State has a real problem with people voting.

Jon Husted, Republican Secretary of State in Ohio, is refusing to change his restrictive early voting schedule even after a federal court restored in-person early voting to all Ohioans during the three day period before the general election. Husted claims expanding hours before an appeals court hears his case will “only serve to confuse voters.” Husted first restricted the voting hours in Democratic-leaning urban counties to weekdays only, then restricted all counties’ voting schedules after complaints of unfairness. In spite of several counties’ requests to stay open on weekends, when most employed people have time to vote, Husted has flatly refused to accommodate them.

In other words, Husted is A) telling people "naah, I don't think people should be allowed to vote the weekend before the election" and B) "I don't feel like complying with your court order."

Kay at Balloon Juice has more, including Husted's directive to the County Boards of Elections:

On August 31, 2012, a federal court struck the portion of Ohio Revised Code 3509.03 that ends inperson absentee voting the Friday before the election at 6:00 p.m. Obama v. Husted Case No 12-cv-636. The decision is being appealed.

Announcing new hours before the court case reaches final resolution will only serve to confuse voters and conflict with the standard of uniformity sought in Directive 2012-35. Therefore, there is no valid reason for my office or the county boards of elections to set hours for in-person absentee voting the last three days before the election at this time. If the appellate courts ultimately reverse the trial court’s decision, in-person absentee voting for non-UOCAVA voters will end the Friday before the election. If however, the appellate courts uphold the trial court’s decision, I will be required to issue a consistent uniform schedule for statewide in-person voting hours for the last three days before the election. I am confident there will be sufficient time after the conclusion of the appeal process to set uniform hours across the state.

Let me again emphasize, the constitutionality of the statute setting in-person absentee voting hours is still subject to court review and it would further confuse voters to set hours now that the court may change later. As such, this Directive strictly prohibits county boards of elections from determining hours for the Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday before the election.

You think those three days before the election would be enough to swing the state blue?  husted sure seems to think so.

Your move, Department of Justice.

Asking The Right Questions

Over the weekend, economist Dean Baker took on the ridiculousness of the "Are you better off than four years ago?" question, and the laziness of reporters spouting it without context.

The reason we know that the questioners are incompetent reporters is that this is a pointless question. Suppose your house is on fire and the firefighters race to the scene. They set up their hoses and start spraying water on the blaze as quickly as possible. After the fire is put out, the courageous news reporter on the scene asks the chief firefighter, "is the house in better shape than when you got here?"
Yes, that would be a really ridiculous question. Hence George Stephanopoulos was being absurd when he posed this question to David Plouffe, a top political adviser to President Obama on ABC's This Week. Bob Schieffer was being equally silly when he asked Martin O’Malley, the Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, the same question on CBS's Face the Nation. 
A serious reporter asks the fire chief if he had brought a large enough crew, if they had enough hoses, if the water pressure was sufficient. That might require some minimal knowledge of how to put out fires. 
Similarly, serious reporters would ask whether the stimulus was large enough, was it well-designed, and were there other measures that could have been taken like promoting shorter workweeks, as Germany has done. That would of course require some knowledge of economics, but it sure makes more sense than asking if a house is better off after it was nearly burnt to the ground.

The reality is of course that the Village is there to pick a fight, because a fight sells copy, pageviews, and clicks.

We're asking if President Obama hasn't rebuilt the house yet after the Republicans burned it down. The house is in the process of being rebuilt, but of course it's just not good enough for some.

And yes, I can appreciate being in a position where the long game of a second Obama term doesn't matter so much when you're not sure how you're going to pay the rent this month or feed the kids or get to work tomorrow because the car's not starting. Been there. Very recently.

 But choosing to do 1) nothing or 2) hand it back to the Republicans isn't going to help. If anything, it's handing the gas can back to the pyros who started the fire in the first place. It's a pretty rough patch for a lot of Americans, I know. I know guys who have fallen off the 99 week cliff. But you keep trying. You know what's not helping you, too. The GOP? Not working at all. Fired up, indeed.

Tweety's Fired Up, Ready To Go

Via ABL (who is at the convention in Charlotte this week along with Balloon Juice's John Cole) Chris Matthews has apparently had enough of this "lukewarm support for Obama" crap, and he let fellow MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell know in no uncertain terms where he stands.


Matthews is merciless. If anything, he goes after all parties, Obama campaign included, for not touting the President's significant list of achievements enough.  At the end, Andrea Mitchell is all over the place.

Worth a watch, for sure.

Army Hazing Causes Soldier To Collapse

The father makes a compelling case that this is assault.  However, he will have a difficult time because his son stood there willingly and let a grown man swing a wooden mallet at his chest.

Let's get to the real root of the problem: stupid actions yield stupid results.  Our soldiers are dying in the field, we should not have to worry about them on our soil, in the company of our own men.  Zero tolerance is never the answer because it will inevitably be used to further stupidity, but perhaps it's time to put a stop to this.  This young man could have been killed.  For no reason whatsoever.  That's unacceptable.

Watch the video if you get a chance.  It's quite something.

RIP, Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan, star of such movies as "The Green Mile" and "The Whole Nine Yards," passed away this morning. He was 54. 

According to our sources, his passing came very suddenly. We're told his fiancee, Omarosa Manigault, was with him in his hospital room in Los Angeles and left for a short period of time. When she returned ... he had died.

Our sources say Omarosa's mother was with him when he passed.

Duncan's rep tells TMZ the actor never fully recovered from the myocardial infarction he suffered on July 13. As TMZ first reported, Omarosa found Duncan in cardiac arrest and performed CPR and was able to resuscitate him before calling 911.

The rep tells us, "[Omarosa] Manigault is grateful for all of your prayers and asks for privacy at this time. Celebrations of his life, both private and public, will be announced at a later date."
I am so sad, and surprised.  The heart attack seemed relatively mild, though as the days passed it did seem odd that he wasn't released.  For some reason I always liked him, and thought he seemed like a genuinely good person, so I was trying to keep up with his health, but they were pretty quiet.

Thanks to TMZ for the dignified obituary.

Who To Watch In Charlotte

Barack Obama became a political star after his DNC speech 8 years ago, which started him on the path to the White House.  The stars at the 2012 convention hoping that their future is just as bright include the Castro brothers, Joaquin and Julian, as they represent the party's growing Latino influence and political power in Texas.

Civil rights activist Rosie Castro toted her painfully shy twin boys everywhere, and they weren't always thrilled about the outings: distributing political literature, attending farm worker rallies and visiting the voting booth.

But the early introduction into political life made its mark on Julian and Joaquin Castro, who left their hardscrabble San Antonio neighborhood to attend Stanford and Harvard Law School before returning to their native city.

Julian is now mayor of America's seventh-largest city, and Joaquin is a Texas state representative poised to win a seat in Congress. The brothers, 37, will be in the national spotlight Tuesday evening when Julian -- after an introduction by Joaquin -- delivers the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, the first Latino to have that honor.

Julian Castro says he'll use the speech to highlight his family story as an example of the American Dream.

"Growing up, when we would get dragged to these events, I didn't want to be there," he said, recalling the outings led by his activist single mother. "Over time, as we got older, I developed a real appreciation of the importance of being involved in the democratic process."

The Castros share a lot of similarities with a certain President of the United States:  raised by a single mother, putting themselves through college, growing up in the labor movement, reaching success in state politics.  Now they turn to bigger things:  Joaquin is aiming for a House seat, and Julian is the keynote speaker.

We'll see how they do.  But remember the names:  you'll be seeing them again in 2016 for sure.

Cantor's Labor Daze Celebration

If you want to know what Republicans think about organized labor, workers, and average Americans, ask House majority leader Eric Cantor.  He'll tell you Labor Day is all about the CEOs and owners, without which you people wouldn't have a job at all.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on Monday mistakenly described Labor Day as a celebration of entrepreneurs and business owners, rather than workers.

Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success,” the conservative congressman said in a statement. “I am committed to keeping taxes low and reducing red tape to make it easier for Virginia’s small business owners to start hiring again, create more jobs and ensure a thriving economy for the future so more people can achieve the American dream.”

Yeah, who needs workers?  We export those jobs overseas anyway, so for all those business owners and CEOs and executives who own the whole shebang, Labor Day is your day.  You know, completely unlike the other 364 days of the year.

It's the owners who matter, right?  The rest of us don't actually do anything, we're all lazy parasites on the glory of the entrepreneurs and risk-takers anyhow.

Now get back to work.


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