Saturday, October 27, 2012

Last Call

Hurricane Sandy's transformation into the Nor'easter From Hell over the next few days really could cause serious problems for anyone north or east of where I am in Cincy.  Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, up through the mid-Atlantic and into New York, Boston and New England could be hit by inches of rain and/or several feet of snow before it's all over, and if there are still sections of Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania especially that still don't have power by Election Day, we could have chaos on our hands.

Hurricane Sandy, currently on a direct course for the East Coast, is sending residents across multiple states scrambling to prepare for heavy wind, rain, and snow. The Obama and Romney campaigns are surely taking stock of its effects as well.

The implications for the election are uncertain, as is the path and extent of the storm’s damage. But given that it’s projected to directly impact such states as North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, there’s plenty of potential for disruption.

In Virginia, the storm is already poised to wreck a scheduled joint rally with President Clinton and president Obama on Monday. Romney has already cancelled a Virginia Beach event for Sunday. Early voting is less widespread in the state than others like Ohio, since Virginia only accepts absentee votes, so the impact could be minimized at the ballot box if things are back to normal by election day.
That said, if there’s major flooding or snow, where it hits could have an influence. While the coast is evenly divided between swing counties, other regions are more polarized.

“It depends on where it hits and how much, it’s just impossible to say in advance,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told TPM. “If Obama were directing the snowstorm it would be in the Shenandoah valley and Southwest Virginia as they want as low a turnout as possible in those rural areas. If Romney were directing the snowstorm, it would go right down the corridor from Northern Virginia into Richmond, which is where Obama’s votes come from.”

The Dems' lead in early voting in Ohio now looks even more important should the storm shift to the west and hit the eastern half of Ohio up into Cleveland.  Sandy could play just as important a role in the swing states as early voting does.

We'll see.

The Return Of Making Work Pay

The White House is kicking around the return of the working-class tax cut for Americans used as part of the stimulus:  Making Work Pay, a $400 tax cut ($800 for couples) off the top.

The White House is weighing the idea of a tax cut that it believes would lift Americans’ take-home pay and boost a still-struggling economy, according to people familiar with the administration’s thinking, as the presidential candidates continue battling over whose tax policies would do more for the country.

Obama administration officials have concluded that the economy, while improved, is still fragile enough that it may need another bout of stimulus. The tax cut could replace the payroll tax cut championed by President Obama in 2011 and 2012, which was designed as a buffer against economic shocks such as the financial crisis in Europe and high oil prices. It expires at year’s end.

As David Dayen points out, the flat $400 tax cut would be far more progressive than the current 2% payroll tax cut, andfor more effective for lower-income Americans.

Making Work Pay, the name of the stimulus-era tax cut, was actually a better deal for the working poor. The flat $400 tax credit provided a bigger boost at the low end to anyone making under $20,000 a year than the payroll tax cut, which gave back 2% of income to everyone on the portion of their income affected by the payroll tax, around $110,000. This made it a more stimulative tax cut, since it provided more money to those with a higher marginal propensity to spend. Employers accomplished the tax cut by taking less out of withholding, making it kind of a hidden tax cut that workers didn’t know about. But it did raise their take-home pay.

Gonna have to agree with D-Day here.  This is a solid idea, it was a solid idea when it was used before, and makes a concrete pledge to cut taxes for working-class Americans with real numbers and a real world benefit that people will see and use.

Which means House Republicans will kill it, of course.

Well, after the election.

Great Scott, It's Your Kids, Marty!

As Scott Lemieux points out, this is the Mitt Romney who was Governor of Massachusetts:

Romney hadn’t even previously fathomed that gay people had children. Boston Spirit magazine reported last month that when gay activists met with him in his office in 2004, as Romney was backing a failed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in the state, Romney remarked, “I didn’t know you had families.” Julie Goodridge, lead plaintiff in the landmark case that won marriage rights for gays and lesbians before the Supreme Judicial Court, asked what she should tell her 8-year-old daughter about why the governor would block the marriage of her parents. According to Goodridge, Romney responded,”I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.”

Severely conservative.  

But there's nothing Mitt can do or say for the 27% who will always vote GOP, and the 20%+ who will vote against Obama for whatever reason, enough to make him competitive (and depending on red state turnout, more than competitive in the national vote totals.)

Great guy, huh?

Yahoo Chooses To Ignore "Do Not Track" On IE

Yahoo! has been working with our partners in the Internet industry to come up with a standard that allows users to opt out of certain website analytics and ad targeting. In principle, we support “Do Not Track” (DNT). Unfortunately, because discussions have not yet resulted in a final standard for how to implement DNT, the current DNT signal can easily be abused. Recently, Microsoft unilaterally decided to turn on DNT in Internet Explorer 10 by default, rather than at users’ direction. In our view, this degrades the experience for the majority of users and makes it hard to deliver on our value proposition to them. It basically means that the DNT signal from IE10 doesn’t express user intent.
Microsoft finally got one right and decided to help users protect their privacy.  It's not rocket science to disable or change security settings, so there is no reason for Yahoo to ignore the default setting.  The reality is, if someone isn't computer savvy enough to change their browser settings, they should be cautious by default.  The crap about this setting being abused is absurd.

You can read the entire policy statement here.  It isn't very long, and after a ridiculous plug for their proprietary solutions and expecting us to be grateful for being told why certain ads were selected, they make no valid point as to why they are ignoring the privacy setting, just informing us that they are.

Nice move, asshats.  Because you really needed another public black eye, right?

Arizona Jail Stupidity

PHOENIX — The family of a prisoner who died in one of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging officers beat the mentally ill man and shot him with a stun gun in an unprovoked attack that marked another example of the "culture of cruelty" in the lockups.

The suit states the 44-year-old Atencio had an altercation with Phoenix police and jail officers while he was being booked on an assault charge on Dec. 15. He was found unresponsive and died five days later, after his family took him off life support.

The sheriff's office said last year that Atencio was combative when police brought him into the downtown jail, and he was placed in a "safe cell" to calm down after fighting with deputies.

The agency said Atencio was found unresponsive 15 minutes later, even though he was being monitored by medical staff.

The lawsuit, however, painted a picture of teasing and abuse at the hands of officers who made fun of Atencio's inability to follow directions and encouraged him to make funny faces while his mug shot was taken.

One officer allegedly said authorities should make it the "Mug Shot of the Week," referring to the sheriff's online contest in which people can vote on their favorite booking photo.

Atencio was attacked later by two Phoenix police officers after he refused to take off one of his shoes in a holding tank, the lawsuit states, adding that some of Arpaio's jail officers joined in and formed a "dog pile" atop the prisoner.
He was mentally ill and they dog piled him.  I had no idea refusing to take off a shoe was a murder-worthy offense.  I now understand the gravity of such an order.  Too bad Atencio was unable to understand the trouble he was in.  Or perhaps he did, and simply couldn't do anything about it.

By the way, since 1993 the county has paid over $24 million has been paid out in claims.   Imagine how many claims fell through the cracks over the years, especially before the full extent of their barbaric treatment was known.  But nah, just another person dying for no reason.  There's nothing to see here, Citizen.  Please move along in an orderly fashion.

The De-Legitimization Of An Obama Win Now Starts In Earnest

Jim Garaghty at NRO spells out a scenario where President Obama gets to 270+ in the electoral vote, but loses the popular vote by several million.

We can debate whether those remaining undecideds, ranging from 3 to 8 percent in most of these polls, will break heavily for the challenger. In 2004, George W. Bush and John Kerry split the remaining undecideds roughly evenly. But the one scenario that political scientists deem virtually impossible is one where undecideds who have declined to support the incumbent all year suddenly break heavily in favor of him. For most of the remaining undecideds, the choice is between voting for the challenger and staying home.

The polling currently suggests President Obama has a hard ceiling of about 47 percent, perhaps 48 percent. Let’s take the 50–47 split found currently in the Rasmussen, Washington Post, and Gallup tracking polls. Presume that most of the remaining undecideds stay home, and that the vote for third-party candidates amounts to about a percentage point. Under that scenario, we would see a 51 percent to 47.9 percent popular-vote win for Romney.

Steve M. predicts the result:

I think Obama will win the Electoral College. I can spell out a scenario in which the right then steals the election (by persuading us that 2000 is irrelevant to now, by hypocritically demanding that "the will of the people" be obeyed, by digging into the pasts of obscure electors). But it's not clear that will happen, and maybe it's the kind of thing that even the right-wing noise machine can't pull off.

Nevertheless, if Obama wins a second term in a split election, the media will treat him as a loser who backed into office and doesn't really deserve to be there. That wouldn't be true for Romney if he won the presidency this way, because the press has now decided it likes him more than Obama, and because, well, he's Republican Daddy -- just like George W. Bush twelve years ago. Oh, sure, if Romney somehow wins this way, the press will ask him, very politely, to live up to the tone of his debate appearances and govern from the center -- but if he then charges hard to the right, the press will just sit back and speak with awe of his "bold" moves.

The press, treating a split Obama victory as a loss, will demand that he tack right in response to the circumstances of his win. This is what Obama will face going into his second term.

I'll go further:  a scenario like this guarantees President Obama will be impeached.  And with the Senate including outright anti-Obama Democrats like WV's Joe Manchin and either Republicans or very conservative Democrats who quietly ran "Obama who?" campaigns this year like Montana's Jon Tester and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, not to mention independent Angus King in Maine, and it's not entirely impossible to come up with a scenario where there are 51 67 votes in the Senate to convict without having to wait until after the 2014 election.  Extremely unlikely, but not impossible.

VP Biden would be asked to resign as a result.  President Boehner rises from Speaker of the House.  Harry Reid, in a bone to Dems, is named VP.  They would guarantee the country that tey wouldn't seek re-election.  2016 becomes wide open...after, of course, "serious bipartisan electoral college reforms" join "serious bipartisan tax, entitlement and health care reforms" and the GOP gets everything they want to maintain power for the next generation, changing demographics or no.

That's where the logical endpoint of this crazy little scenario goes.

So, no, I'm not "relaxed" and "confident".  Not with the GOP around.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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