Sunday, September 23, 2012

Last Call

Matt Lewis at the Daily Caller unleashes an asinine attack on early voting, calling it a bad idea that America needs to get rid of.  He gives a number of "reasons", none of which actually hold up.

1. It doesn’t work. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin demonstrated that early voting can actually depress turnout.

Surprise, a McMegan article, where she comes to the same conclusion.  The study supposedly found that all things being equal, early voting depressed turnout by 2-3 percentage points.  But there's at least one big caveat in their model:

With one big exception: our model forecast that early voters had profiles that made them two percentage points more likely to vote than Election Day voters, whether there was an early option or not. Early voters were more educated and older and had higher incomes, all traits associated with a higher probability of voting. A probability difference of 2 percentage points may seem like a trivial figure, but when applied to populations of millions, it can shift national and state elections.

Early voting tends to happen in more affluent precincts as a rule.  What Republicans oppose is early voting in urban precincts with lots of minority voters.  Only then it becomes a problem. Moving on:

2. Voters are casting ballots before they have all the information.

Coming from a site like the Daily Caller, that's a bit like Lex Luthor complaining Superman not wearing a safety belt for his back when he's lifting a battleship sets a bad example for the kids.  Considering the site exists to highlight GOP propaganda, the claim ring awfully hollow.  Unless Lewis is calling for more Jim Crow era poll tests to assess if voters are informed enough, which I don't believe he is.  Besides, under this logic, absentee ballots for our soldiers should immediately be outlawed as well, yes?

3. The cost — both to the taxpayer and the campaigns. In my home state of Maryland (where early voting is still relatively new), it cost taxpayers $2.6 million, without increasing turnout.

Again this is another odd argument.  Lewis has a problem with measures that decrease voter turnout but cost taxpayers money.

You mean, like voter ID laws, Matt?

Funny how Republicans don't seem to mind the cost to taxpayers when it comes to issuing IDs.  No expense should be spared to protect ballot integrity! And speaking of that...

4. Ballot integrity. Unlike early voting, absentee voting is typically done by mail, which opens the door for voter fraud, spouses who are members of opposing parties “losing” ballots, etc. It happens.

It happens that "It happens" is all Matt has to offer on the subject.  No links, no citations, no studies, no cases, and certainly no articles that voter ID laws Republicans are pushing don't actually protect ballot integrity or prevent in-person voter fraud.  Same logic goes for outlawing absentee ballots as I said before.  Pretty simple to verify the information, yes?

But the last reason is the most inane:

5. Community. Early voting may be more convenient, but having done both, I can tell you there is something about voting on Election Day that feels special. There is something patriotic and communitarian about it. And I think we lose something when we don’t do it together.

Spare me.  Nostalgia and feelings are an unacceptable reason to legislate.  If it means that much to you, make Election Day a national holiday so that all Americans can join in.  Which would increase turnout.  Oh, but we can't for "reasons" so shut it.

Lewis is as transparent a concern troll as he is an ignorant one.  What a shocker for a Daily Caller scribe, I know.  In the end, reducing the vote to only those who can afford to take the day off to vote is all that matters to these guys.

Police Shoots Double Amputee Who Wielded A Pen

HOUSTON — A Houston police officer has fatally shot a one-armed, one-legged man in a wheelchair after police say the double amputee waved a metal object that turned out to be a pen.

Police spokeswoman Jodi Silva says man cornered the officer early Saturday inside a group home after police were called about a disturbance there.

Silva says the man was making threats while trying to stab the officer with the pen. She says the officer did not know what the metal object was at the time.

Silva says the man came "within inches to a foot" of the officer and did not follow instructions to calm down and remain still.
For such a short clip, there's a lot of disturbing stuff here.

First, and I mean this with no disrespect towards the handicapped, if the officer was cornered by a man with one arm and one leg maneuvering a wheelchair, he's not very smart.  Or could it be that he was in the victim's personal space, getting in a little too close to intimidate?  While the thought makes me sick, it's the only way I can make that work out.

The victim threatened him with a pen.  If he couldn't tell it was a pen, how could he tell it was a threatening object?  No matter what, it did not deserve a fatal response from the officer.  This guy was at such a clear physical disadvantage, the officer could have removed himself from danger.  He could have walked away but he shot the man instead.

But finally, the thing that maybe sticks in my craw the most, is the phrase "did not follow instructions to calm down and remain still."  This man had a history of being difficult, according to employees.  You know what, I think I would be too if I were in his circumstances.  I've worked in group homes, and I can tell you that the idea of these people as American citizens with the rights and values like everyone else just disappears.  In the flurry of meals, medicine and job duties, these people are herded like cattle with little to no regard for them as people.  I worked in dozens of locations, the utter lack of humanity was the one thing every place had in common.  It is why I work in a different field.

To fail to follow instructions to calm down and remain still, for a person who is agitated by nature and condition, is expected.  Cops are trained (supposedly) to lower tensions.  Perhaps by giving this man some personal space the cop could have done a better job.

Either way, a man is dead and a cop is an asshole.  Surprise, surprise.

Tiny Solution

As more and more people are forced to downsize, CNN runs an article showing some extremely small homes, and how it has helped people be comfortable and live a new and better way (better for them, at least).  I grew up in a tiny home, and for me this would be ideal.  My husband, however, would never survive a 200 square foot home.

Still, for many it's a way to reduce bills and mortgage while families ride out the economy and job market.  It allowed one mother a better work-to-life ratio as she was able to provide for her family and have some time left over for her dreams.

Take a peek here, it's pretty interesting.

Giving Away The Game

John Podhoretz mounts the defense of Romney's incomplete tax return from Friday based solely on his charitable giving:

So, to recap: Mitt Romney has, in the past two years, paid almost $5 million in taxes while giving away $7 million. And, as he said, he has paid the taxes he was supposed to pay according to the laws of the United States, which is all that is required — legally, morally and practically — of anyone.

If you’ve been reading my columns for the past couple of years, you know I’m perfectly capable of being critical of Romney. I did so the other day, and radio host Mark Levin called me a “trash-mouther” who was “giving aid and comfort to Obama.”

But the release of these tax records leaves no doubt about one thing: Mitt Romney is an extraordinarily, remarkably, astonishingly generous man. A good man. Maybe even a great man.

That is all. There is no “but.” Anyone who says otherwise is ignorant, stupid or a liar.

Mitt Romney's not running for "Great Man 2012", J-Pod.  He's running for President.  And I hate to break it to you, but there is a really big "but" in all this:  Nowhere does Mitt reveal the status of his foreign bank accounts.   We don't know if he paid "all the taxes he was supposed to" because the returns are still not complete.

On top of that, there remains the issue that the Romney camp admits to not taking the maximum charitable deduction in order to give himself a higher tax rate.  He's playing loophole games with more money than most Americans will see in their entire lives, treating it as a tax tool for political purposes.

Oh, and while earning less than 6% of what Romney did, Barack Obama still gave 22% of his 2011 income to charity.  That makes him a great man too, right?

The Kroog Versus Mitt's Confidence Game

Paul Krugman decides Mitt wants to be the Confidence Fairy.

In its original usage, the phrase was aimed at people like Jean-Claude Trichet, who preached the wonders of expansionary austerity. But reading Matt O’Brien on Romney’s Boca Moment, I suddenly realized that it has a domestic application too.

As O’Brien notes, here’s how Romney described his economic strategy:
If it looks like I’m going to win, the markets will be happy. If it looks like the president’s going to win, the markets should not be terribly happy. It depends of course which markets you’re talking about, which types of commodities and so forth, but my own view is that if we win on November 6th, there will be a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. We’ll see capital come back and we’ll see — without actually doing anything — we’ll actually get a boost in the economy.
[Emphasis added]

In effect, Romney was saying, “I am the confidence fairy!”

And as Krugman notes, the odds of Mitt winning have tanked...and the Dow is at its best level since 2007.

Confidence That He'll Lose Fairy is more like it.
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