Last time we discussed oxygen as an element, including why we do not burst into flame in our 21% oxygen atmosphere. Quantum mechanics can really be interesting.This time we shall discuss some of the compounds of oxygen with other elements, and I[...]
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Twenty years ago, independent candidate Ross Perot captured nearly one in five votes cast for President, yet still finished a distant third and failed to win a single electoral vote. Since then, as can be plainly seen from the table and graph below (an[...]
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Yes, ladies and germs, it's that time in the election cycle when the right-wing cahootsniks of the various law-snubbing faiths of American Religion Inc. do their darnedest to flaunt and flout every law and regulation on the books governing church participation in politics, one of the basic facts of the separation of church and state we theoretically insist on, in part as part of the exchange by which religious institutions enjoy their tax-free status.
Each time out we hear the most egregious of the horror stories, and vows to take it up with the IRS, which has jurisdiction over those tax exemptions. But nothing happens, because, after all, who is there in authority who's going to tell any church of any size, "Hey, you guys can't do that"?
With Cardinal Dolan having demonstrated his sway over both organized Republicans and Democrats at the recent nominating conventions, it seems fitting that the opening salvo of the 2012 religious-election-abuse season should be fired within the cardinal's very own archdiocese. Credit Americans United for Separation of Church and State with at least making an issue of it.
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, is one of the good guys in American religion, a minister (United Church of Christ) who actually believes in the practice of religion consistent with basic American values -- as set out, you know, in the Constitution. His organization has put out the following press release.
Americans United Asks IRS To Investigate NYC Church That Endorsed Romney In Its Bulletin
Church-State Watchdog Group Says Church of Saint Catherine Of Siena May Have Violated Federal Law With Election Intervention
Sep 7, 2012
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate a New York City church that endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in its church bulletin.
The Church of Saint Catherine of Siena?s Sept. 2 bulletin contains a column by the Rev. John Farren, a member of the congregation?s pastoral staff. Titled ?From Father Farren, O.P.,? the essay reprints an appeal by several former U.S. ambassadors to the Vatican calling on Catholics to vote for Romney.
The appeal, which Farren reproduced in full, criticizes the Obama administration and concludes, ?We urge our fellow Catholics, and indeed all people of good will, to join with us in this full-hearted effort to elect Governor Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States.?
In a complaint to the IRS sent today, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, requested an investigation. Lynn noted that federal law forbids non-profit churches from intervening in elections. He also pointed out that IRS rules specifically state that tax-exempt entities may not reprint endorsements made by other groups and people.
?This is an audacious attempt by a tax-exempt church to intervene in the presidential election,? Lynn said. ?This is a church, not a political action committee. It should play by the reasonable rules that other tax-exempt organizations follow.?
Americans United?s Project Fair Play encourages religious organizations to learn about the provisions of federal tax law. When churches or other religious groups flagrantly violate the law, AU files complaints with the IRS.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
Sept. 7, 2012
Lois G. Lerner, Director
Exempt Organizations Division
Internal Revenue Service 1111 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20224
Dear Ms. Lerner,
I believe the Church of Saint Catherine of Siena in New York City may have violated federal tax law by intervening in the presidential campaign. I?m writing today to urge you to investigate this matter.
A church bulletin dated Sept. 2, 2012, contains a column authored by the Rev. John Farren titled ?From Father Farren, O.P.? The column, which appears on page three of the bulletin, reprints a letter that was issued by several former U.S. ambassadors to the Vatican calling on Catholics to vote for Mitt Romney for president.
The letter that Farren reproduces in whole contains a lengthy attack on the Obama administration and concludes, ?We urge our fellow Catholics, and indeed all people of good will, to join with us in this full-hearted effort to elect Governor Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States.?
I have enclosed a copy of the entire bulletin. The letter reproduced within it contains a clear, unambiguous endorsement of Romney. A tax-exempt organization may not reproduce a letter like this, which is obviously designed to intervene in the presidential election.
Farren?s claim that the letter deals with issue of religious freedom is no defense. The central thrust of the letter is to endorse Romney.
Nor is the fact that the letter was produced by others a defense. The IRS publication ?Election Year Activities and the Prohibition on Political Campaign Intervention for Section 501(c)(3) Organizations? (FS-2006-17, February 2006) is clear on this matter. It states, ?Distributing statements prepared by others that favor or oppose any candidate for public office will also violate the prohibition.?
I believe use of the church bulletin in this manner by the Church of Saint Catherine of Siena may amount to a violation of federal law. I urge you to promptly investigate this incident. The Church of Saint Catherine of Siena?s address is: 411 E. 68th Street, New York,NY 10065-6305. Telephone: (212) 988-8300.
Barry W. Lynn
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Former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Sunday asserted that former President Bill Clinton's Democratic National Convention speech highlighting Barack Obama's accomplishments was "actually a condemnation" of the current president.
"I actually thought parts of the Clinton speech were eerily anti-Obama," Gingrich told Candy Crowley during an interview on CNN. "I mean, here's Clinton saying, 'I reformed welfare because I worked with Republicans, you didn't, Mr. Obama.' Think about it. 'I had the longest period of economic growth in history, you didn't, Mr. Obama. I got to four balanced budgets by working with Republicans, you didn't, Mr. Obama.'"
"You can take his speech, spin it not very much, and it's actually a condemnation of the fact that Obama learned nothing -- and Bob Woodward's new book indicates he learned nothing -- out of the 2010 election," the former House Speaker explained, adding that Obama's bounce in the polls after the Democratic Convention was "80 percent Bill Clinton."
"Clinton is a very popular figure for a very practical reason: the economy worked," Gingrich noted. "You know, you look back on that and you think -- I think what it actually does is it shrinks Obama. I mean, you have a real president and then you have this guy who's a pretender."
(h/t: Talking Points Memo)
This morning on NBC, Mitt Romney said that “there are a number of things that I like” about Obamacare and suggested he would retain: 1. The gaurentee that insurance companies couldn’t discriminate against people with pre-exisiting conditions, and 2. The provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents plan.
Just hours later, his campaign quietly told a conservative website that he actually opposes those provisions of Obamacare:
In reference to how Romney would deal with those with preexisting conditions and young adults who want to remain on their parents? plans, a Romney aide responded that there had been no change in Romney?s position and that ?in a competitive environment, the marketplace will make available plans that include coverage for what there is demand for. He was not proposing a federal mandate to require insurance plans to offer those particular features.?
(HT: Kevin Drum)
If you're a political junkie, you're probably used to seeing charts that break competitive Senate and House races down into columns with categories like Tossups, Lean Democratic, Likely Republican, published by pundits like Charlie Cook or Stu Rothenberg. (Or by Daily Kos Elections... we've got our own, too, here, here, and here.)
Charts like that only tell part of the story, though. Looking at pundits' scorecards, you might think that races just spontaneously burst into being as competitive, based on the sheer force of will of the participants. That's not the case, though; almost all House races, for instance, draw highly-motivated, well-intentioned participants, and yet somehow we don't end up with 400+ competitive races every cycle.
Instead, there are two limiting factors: one is the range of districts. More than half of all House districts are too red or too blue to be competitive; they're going to elect someone from one party unless highly unusual circumstances pop up (and if that happens, that person from the wrong party is usually only renting the district for two years). Only that other half of the districts, where the presidential vote falls within 10% of the national average, is fertile ground for a competitive race. (And that band is getting narrower, as gerrymandering becomes a more precise, computer-driven science, with more districts getting turned uglier but also dark-blue or dark-red.)
So, with that, I thought it might be interesting to tip the typical House ratings chart on its side, and look at it by sifting through all the districts in that potentially-competitive band, digging layer by layer based on the percentage that Barack Obama got in 2008 (in the newly-configured post-redistricting districts, rather than the districts as they existed in 2008). That way, it encompasses not just the races that the pundits and the national committees are paying attention to, but it also reveals what races are getting left behind. (There's a lot of them. And while it's a little late in the cycle to do anything about them now, it should give us some food for thought about what else we might be targeting in 2014.)
The other factor is money. Competitive races don't happen without advertising, PR, and a lot of groundwork, and that costs a lot. Unfortunately, the money is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem: a candidate needs money to get the pundits to consider a race competitive in the first place, but a race needs to be considered competitive before the big money donors and the national committees (like, say, the DCCC) will start sending money. That's the basic reason why, despite how much we'd like to see it, Generic Well-Meaning Progressive rarely gets any traction in a potentially-interesting swing-district race. Successful candidates need to either bring their own seed money, or have enough fundraising chits to call in from donors to get the ball rolling, either connections made from holding lower office, from a prominent business position, or, in a few cases, from a long-track record in local activism.
By adding money to the mix, we can see just how much money determines what races get taken seriously and which ones don't. At each percentage level, even the ones that are right at the national average (53%, according to Obama's 2008 vote share) you can see there are races that are competitive and ones that aren't. Invariably, the competitive ones involve hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars on both sides and the non-competitive ones are woefully lopsided.
(Before you start complaining about Citizens United and Super PACs, bear in mind that the numbers that we're reporting are merely the contributions to the campaigns themselves. They don't account for spending by outside groups, either the national committees or third party groups (most of which hasn't occurred yet, as they save up for the stretch run). All of this fundraising is of the fully disclosed, dollar-limited variety, and was perfectly legal for many decades before CU was a twinkle in John Roberts' eye. That isn't to say that CU hasn't magnified the problem, but this speaks more generally to the outsized influence of money in politics.)
At any rate, let's start our excavations. I've narrowed it down to districts where Obama's vote share ranged between 60% and 45% (which, if you prefer Cook's Partisan Voting Index, would range (imprecisely, since PVI also incorporates 2004 figures) from D+7 to R+8). There are a few districts, however, where there are competitive races despite having an Obama percentage over 60; we'll start there. These are either because of aggressive Democratic gerrymandering leaving GOP incumbents marooned in dark-blue territory (the three Illinois districts) or a scandal-tarred Dem incumbent (in Rhode Island). The GOP may still has a shot at salvaging some of their incumbents here too, thanks to the power of incumbency.
The "money" column is the fundraising to date for the entire cycle (up to the June 30 FEC reporting deadline), with the Dem figure on the left and the GOP figure on the right. The 2010 column shows the incumbent's re-election percentage in the last election, which gives some indication of whether they're perpetually in trouble or not used to a stiff challenge (bear in mind that some of the candidates skated by before because they were in easier districts and find themselves in much worse districts post-redistricting). The "R%" column shows what percentage of their old district made it into their new district (for example, just above, only 26% of Joe Walsh's constituents from the old IL-08 are still in his new IL-08... he'd probably still be losing even if he had all his same constituents, but this only makes it worse for him). And "PP score" is the incumbent's Progressive Punch score (overall votes for 2011-12), which scales how liberal they are from 0 to 100 (and also includes their rank, 1 through 435, with 1 being most liberal), which helps give a picture of how well an incumbent fits his swing district ideologically. (Naturally, we don't include 2010, Redist., or PP score for open seats where there's no incumbent.) "Rating" is how we at Daily Kos Elections currently view the state of that race.
For the remaining races, continue below the fold...
Picking up the pizza was an adventure. The pizza shop owner, Scott Van Duzer, is a registered Republican. But unlike the Papa John's guy or Herman Cain, Van Duzer makes good pizza. And he's not an asshole?he voted for Pres. Barack Obama in 2008, and will vote for him again in 2012.
So he was thrilled to have Obama in his pizza shop, and went in for a hug:
These are the actions of either a man who is desperate because he knows he's going to lose, or is so certain they can rig the votes on his behalf that he can say whatever demented thing that pops into his head:
Mitt Romney suggested Saturday in Virginia Beach that President Obama wants to remove God from coins, provoking a fierce retort from the president's campaign.
"I will not take God out of our platform," the Republican nominee said after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. "I will not take God off our coins, and I will not take God out of my heart."
Would that be the same God that told you to fire all those people when you worked at Bain, Mitt?
In response, Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith called the insinsuation false and an act of desperation.
"It?s disappointing to see Mitt Romney try to throw a Hail Mary by launching extreme and untrue attacks against the President and associating with some of the most strident and divisive voices in the Republican Party, including Rep. Steve King and Pat Robertson," she said in a statement. "This isn?t a recipe for making America stronger, it?s a recipe for division and taking us backward."
The Democrats' discussion of the loss of the Clinton budget surpluses is a tale of paradise lost. Unfortunately, it was an illusory paradise that serious people should not concern themselves with. That is why it is disappointing to see Ezra Klein give us[...]
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I am going to leave Mitt Romney alone today, because this is getting way too easy. He says that Obama wants to take God off of our currency. He wants to keep some portions of Obamacare. He ripped the debt ceiling deal that his own VP backed, and he.....wait a minute; let me back up a little bit. Did he say that he now approves portions of Obamacare?
"Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has called for scrapping President Barack Obama's 2010 U.S. healthcare law, said in remarks aired on Sunday that he likes key parts of "Obamacare" despite his party's loathing of it and wants to retain them.
Romney, who faces Obama in the November 6 election, has vowed throughout the campaign to repeal and replace the Obama healthcare law. But asked about the Obama healthcare law on NBC's "Meet the Press" program, Romney said, "Well, I'm not getting rid of all of healthcare reform."
So now he was against Obamacare before he was for it, or was it the other way around? I am going to have to leave Flipper alone; dude has my head spinning. I honestly don't know how his supporters keep up with him.
Anywhoo, back to my issues with the "lame- stream- media": (I am starting to feel like Sarah Palin) Seems that CBS thought it would be cool to hire republican strategist and pollster, Frank Luntz. I am sorry, did FOX suddenly go out of business? Why is a news organization striving for any kind of journalistic credibility hire this republican shill?
"CBS News has reportedly hired Frank Luntz, the Republican strategist and pollster best known for helping Republicans craft often-deceptive messaging to torpedo liberal policies. In his post announcing the move, Politico media reporter Dylan Byers writes that Luntz will "make a number of appearances across the network between now and Election Day." Luntz's hiring comes only a few months after New York Times Magazine contributor Robert Draper reported that Luntz orchestrated a 2009 meeting where prominent Republicans formulated a plan to win back Congress and the White House.
In his book Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, Draper reported that Luntz "organized a dinner" on Obama's inauguration night featuring a handful of "the Republican Party's most energetic thinkers." The attendees -- which included current vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan -- reportedly emerged from the nearly four hour dinner "almost giddily" after having agreed on "a way forward."
According to Draper, the Republican plan involved showing "united and unyielding opposition to the president's economic policies," with an eventual goal of defeating Obama and taking back the Senate in 2012:"
The "lame-street-media" just got even more lame.
Finally, I know that he is not little JonBenet Ramsey or Caylee Anthony in America's eyes, but could we try to remember little Amir Jennings? I am sure the little man's family would like to have some closure.
His Mother isn't talking, which is sad, so some national spotlight might lead to someone coming forward with some information about what happened to the little guy.
Sadly, there is no story here to see for the "lame-$tream-media-" . They are too busy hiring republican pollsters.
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