Just a couple of Joes....[...]
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The Obama campaign's hugely effective attacks on Mitt Romney's career at Bain Capital, including one of the best Democratic political ads produced in decades, have clearly knocked Team Willard off their game. They are apparently frustrated and angry, and they're looking to strike back.
"[Romney] has said Obama's a nice fellow, he's just in over his head," the adviser said. "But I think the governor himself believes this latest round of attacks that have impugned his integrity and accused him of being a felon go so far beyond that pale that he's really disappointed. He believes it's time to vet the president. He really hasn't been vetted; McCain didn't do it."
The idea that Obama "hasn't been vetted" comes directly from the late Andrew Breitbart's and his pet project, "The Vetting" which to date has produced nothing but a series of widely-mocked nothing burgers.
And that's because the idea that the president hasn't been vetted is deeply nutty.
First, Obama was vetted by the Clinton campaign -- who went very hard after his drug use to no avail. When it was clear he was going to the be the nominee, right-wingers immediately started churning out scurrilous books about him, and those authors were given extensive air time on Fox News. During the presidential campaign, there were endless stories about Jeremiah Wright, extensive speculation that Obama had been educated in an Islamic Madrassa , and hundreds, if not thousands of stories about the extent of his relationship with Bill Ayers (famously summed up by Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin when she accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists").
Americans looked at all of this chatter and yawned. In November 2008, they promptly gave Obama a higher percentage of the popular vote than Ronald Reagan won in 1980.
Since he was elected, there have been a flurry of even more anti-Obama books accusing him of being corrupt, a "gangster," suggesting that he hates the West because of his "anti-colonial" Kenyan heritage and that he's a "Manchurian president."
Not to mention the fact that there's an entire "news" organization which has, since January 2009, peddled birtherism, hyped phony scandals -- and aired a program that consisted almost exclusively of paranoid right-wing fantasies about the president.
So yes, Obama's been vetted. And if Team Willard really thinks they can win the election by talking about Obama's cocaine use or Rev. Wright -- they are even more clueless than previously thought.
When a sports team says that they have won three out of their past five matches you can be pretty sure that they won three of the last six matches as well. If they had won that other match they would want to include it so they can claim a four out of six record.Romney has released his 2010 return and has promised to release his 2011 return when he files it. There is clearly a reason for the...
Since becoming secretary of state in 2009, Clinton has logged 351 days on the road, traveled to 102 countries and flown a whopping 843,839 miles, according to the State Department. While some previous secretaries may have flown more miles ? mainly due to shuttling back and forth to the Mideast on peace missions ? none has visited more nations.
A ThinkProgress study of the the Drudge Report reveals the popular internet aggregator has linked 184 times to InfoWars and World Net Daily, two sites that promote the internet?s worst conspiracy theories, since June 2011. By directing millions of visitors to these websites, Drudge is providing critical financial and reputational support to publications that argue 9/11 was an inside job, FEMA is building concentration camps and President Obama was not born in the United States. [...]One of his linkages the past year: The claim that Andrew Breitbart was assassinated to prevent release of damaging information about Obama.
Drudge can provide 10% or more of total traffic to large media sites like NYPost.com, Boston.com and FoxNews.com, creating a powerful incentive for the mainstream media to overlook the unsavory side of his operation.
The station apologized for broadcasting the anti-Asian ad, which originally appeared in Michigan during the Super Bowl. A mistake in communication, it said in a statement, caused by having an order to run a new ad, but not yet having that ad in hand and running the old one instead.
Schultz did, noting that she not only hugs but also kisses Brown "so hard he passes out from lack of oxygen. He's really cute." He is also her husband.
On her Facebook page, Schultz told friends she didn't reveal the conservative blogger's name because he or she might be an intern for whom this blunder could be an important lesson and the embarrassment of public exposure would be cruel.
Of course, this was no normal wedding. Corporate Person is only a month-and-a-half old, which makes Vogel a total cradle robber. Also, the wedding was a stunt cooked up by the people running city Initiative 103, an ambitious measure slated for 2013 that seeks to do some sensible stuff, like strip corporations of their personhood status, free speech, and other constitutional rights, along with some batshit stuff, like requiring developers to gain the approval of "neighborhood majorities" before starting most new development projects in Seattle.
The ?presumptive classification? order extends to both detainees? testimony and their discussions with their lawyers. In other words, anything said by a detainee, whether in court or to their counsel, will first need censors? stamp of approval before it can become public.Anything includes their own torture at the hands of jailers and interrogators.
His attorney, Mark O?Mara, will also participate in the interview and will address rumors circulating about bail donations and hidden money, FNC says.
Hannity has been pursuing a Zimmerman interview for several months. The pair had an off-the-record phone conversation in April. Yesterday, GlobalGrind posted an article claiming that Hannity offered to pay Zimmerman?s legal fees; a spokesperson for Fox News told TVNewser Hannity has never offered to pay ?any legal fees or any fee associated with George Zimmerman.?
Modeled as satire on the anti-bullying “It Gets Better” project, American Bridge 21st Century and Courage Campaign Super PAC have launched the “Mitt Gets Worse” campaign. In testimonials, various activists explain how harmful Mitt Romney’s anti-LGBT positions are and how much worse he would make the U.S. for LGBT people if he were president. Here are the campaign’s first four videos, featuring Adam Bink of the Courage Campaign, Julie Goodridge, whose suit led to marriage equality in Massachusetts, Jennifer Chrisler of the Family Equality Council, and Kathleen Henry, who chaired the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth that Romney tried to defund:
I really love the idea of Electric City, the web series Tom Hanks is doing through his Playtone production company with Yahoo. The show is set in its titular dystopia, a place where criminals are sentenced to time on generating bikes, mail’s delivered by footbound couriers, reliable electricity access is a class issue, and a secret society of older women called The Knitting Circle really runs everything:
The thing is, though, it’s hard to set up a dystopia in five-minute chunks, and hard-boiled dialogue often goes down better if its silliest-sounding pronouncements are surrounded by some more normal conversation. The first episode of Electric City begins with a voiceover about how utopia is “The place of security. The illusion of freedom. Humankind gets in the way of perfection…It’s best to ask no questions and be told no lies, here in the Electric City.” That last sentence might have been better as a piece of advice from one character to another, earned after we’ve actually had a chance to see how the city works. But instead, it comes across as a thunderous cliche that distracts from what’s specific and interesting about the show.
The best of those things are the ominous members of the Knitting Circle, whose members actually bust out their crochet hooks and knitting needles while they plot in a building called the Camera Obscura that gives them a view of the entire city. “A source of our trouble has yet to become a responsible resident of our city. he is again a free man,” Mrs. Orwell declares, after a man named Vernon is released from his sentence generating electricity and has returned home where he’s commenced beating his wife again. “We only get so many chances,” one of Orwell’s compatriots tells her. “Get rid of him.” I imagine that the show will flesh this out, but not knowing what the Knitting Circle’s official role is in Electric City makes it hard to know how to feel about their actions and their tone even as a baseline. I like the idea of this show a lot. But folks who want to make web shows have to figure out how how to get context and setup in much shorter episodes, and to tell shorter story arcs. It’s not just a matter of making cuts at the five-minute mark. The episodes have to work on their own.
As of 2012, ten states have put in place laws requiring voters to present some form of government-issued photo ID in order to vote, even though 11 percent of eligible American voters lack such ID. Poor, minority, and elderly voters are especially likely to fall into that group: 25 percent of African-Americans, 16 percent of Hispanics, and 18 percent of Americans over 65 don’t have the necessary identification. Now the Brennan Center for Justice has released a new study documenting the unusual structural challenges these populations face in finding a government office which can issue an ID, and then acquiring it:
Transportation to an office: More than 10 million eligible voters in these states live more than 10 miles from the nearest office where they can acquire an ID, including 1.2 million African-American voters and 500,000 Hispanics. 472,523 of these eligible voters do not have access to a vehicle and live more than 10 miles from an office. On top of that, many of these voters live in rural areas where public transportation is scarce — seven of the ten states with restrictive voter ID laws rank in the bottom half of states when it comes to per capita investment in public transportation.
Limited or odd office hours: Less than half of these offices are open five days a week in Wisconsin, Alabama, and Mississippi. No office holds Saturday hours in Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Texas or Wisconsin. In Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, no office is open more than two days per week in the areas with the highest concentrations of rural African-American voters. The numbers are comparably bleak for the areas in Texas with highest concentrations of Hispanic voters. Some offices also hold odd hours — for example, an office in Wisconsin is only open on the first Wednesday of every other month, and one in Alabama is only open on the third Thursday of each month.
Challenges for urban voters: While the situation is somewhat better in the cities, urban minorities and the urban poor still often face hours on public transit and long wait times to acquire an ID. In Rock Hill, South Carolina, for example, the city’s only ID-issuing office is located seven miles away from the 42,000 eligible African-American voters in the city’s center. In Knoxville, Tennessee, the nearest office is 11 miles from the city center. 61,6000 of Knoxville’s eligible voters live more than five miles from this office — 26 percent of them are African-American and 27.5 percent of them are poor. The southeastern quadrant of Dallas, Texas, which has the city’s highest concentrations of African-American and impoverished voters, does not have a single office.
Cost of “free” IDs: Even when a photo ID itself is ostensibly free of charge, nine of these ten states require some kind of supporting documentation in order to acquire a photo ID. A birth certificate can $15 to $30, a passport $135, a naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship $345, and a marriage license from $5 to $40. Many of these documents can be difficult to obtain. By comparison, the poll tax outlawed by the Civil Rights Act cost $10.64 in current dollars.
All ten of these states are controlled by Republicans in both the governorship and the legislature, who continue to push these kinds of laws forward, risking the disenfranchisement of millions of Americans. At the same time, these ten states also make up 127 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency in November.
On Tuesday, Circuit Judge David Flanagan ruled that Wisconsin’s new Republican-authored law requiring all voters to show photo identification to vote poses a “substantial burden” upon voters, and permanently barred it from taking effect. Flanagan explained that Wisconsin’s constitution bars the costly and difficult process of attaining photo identification from being an obstacle to voting.
“Act 23 addresses a problem which is very limited, if indeed it exists,” Judge David Flanagan wrote. “…Given the sacred, fundamental interest at issue, it is clear that Act 23, while perhaps addressing a legitimate concern, is not sufficiently narrow to avoid needless and significant impairment of the right to vote.”
Today, a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice found that 10 million people in states with Voter ID laws live more than 10 miles from state offices offering photo identification. In Wisconsin, no such offices are open on the weekends. The price of photo identification ranges from $8 to $25, which many people cannot easily afford. “It certainly looks and feels like a poll tax,” Keesha Gaskins, senior counsel at the Brennan Center, said of the new costs required to vote.
A study released earlier this year by the Brennan Center found that Voter ID laws could collectively disenfranchise 3 million people nationwide this year. ThinkProgress reported on 95-year-old Wisconsinite Florence Hessing, who was barred from voting because she was born via midwife and did not possess an acceptable birth certificate. A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study found that approximately 300,000 Wisconsinites lack photo identificatoin.
A spokeswoman for Wisconsin’s Department of Justice, which defended the law in court, said state lawyers are currently reviewing Flanagan’s decision but will likely appeal the ruling.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was quick to denounce the welfare reform waiver plan announced by the Obama administration last week. But in 2005, he was one of a half-dozen prominent Republican governors who supported such waivers.
The administration’s plan would provide states with more flexibility to manage their state welfare programs under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the welfare reform package instituted in 1996. Republicans accused the administration of attempting to “gut” welfare reform with the waivers, and Romney agreed. ?President Obama now wants to strip the established work requirements from welfare. The success of bipartisan welfare reform, passed under President Clinton, has rested on the obligation of work. The President’s action is completely misdirected. Work is a dignified endeavor, and the linkage of work and welfare is essential to prevent welfare from becoming a way of life,” Romney said.
But in 2005, Romney’s signature appeared on a letter from the Republican Governor’s Association to congressional leadership. The letter states explicit support for welfare waivers:
The Senate bill provides states with with the flexibility to manage their TANF programs and effectively serve their low-income populations. Increased waiver authority, allowable work activities, availability of partial work credit and the ability to coordinate state programs are all important aspects of moving recipients from welfare to work.
As ThinkProgress has noted, other Republican administrations in Utah and Nevada still support the waiver program, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says will actually increase welfare’s ability to transition welfare recipients into employment programs.
By Jorge Madrid and Max Frankel
Breathing the air in California can be a dangerous thing. The Golden State?s residents breathe the most polluted air in the country, according to the American Lung Association.† When it comes to microscopic particle pollution, or ?soot,” nowhere is more dangerous than California?s Central Valley, where four of the five most polluted cities in America are located.
See the 10 Most Soot Polluted Cities in America here.
California’s Central Valley is an enormous agricultural center in the middle of the state, home to more than four million people. Interstate highways ?the 5,? ?the 99,? and ?the 80,? the state’s major north-south trucking corridors, run directly through the valley. As a result, tractor trailers and diesel engines are the area’s number one source of soot emissions in the summer time. In the winter, wood smoke is also a major contributor. Personal vehicles are also to blame: ?One of the big things we?re dealing with is that we have a 1 to 2 ratio of people to vehicle miles traveled,? says Jaime Holt at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
The problem in the valley is exacerbated by the area’s geography. Soot collects in the Central Valley basin, almost like water sitting at the bottom of a bowl, and is trapped there by an inversion layer of warm air that sits between the Sierra Nevada Mountains on one side, and the Coastal Ridge on the other.
When inhaled, soot particulates have known impacts on human health. Long-term exposure to soot has been definitively linked to heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, lung development problems, and asthma in children. There is even some evidence that fine particulate matter is a carcinogen and can cause birth defects.† Even short-term exposure to particulates has been associated with premature death due to heart attack and stroke, and increased hospital visits for cardiovascular problems.
Soot Disproportionately Affects Latino Communities
Latinos in California are the most harmed by soot pollution. The American Lung Association reports numerous reasons why income and racial disparities exist when it comes to exposure to harmful pollution. Those include a lack of access to health care and more hazardous working conditions among these groups ? in fact, Latinos are the†least likely to be insured compared to all other ethnic groups in this country. Also, existing health conditions, such as diabetes, are exacerbated by soot pollution. Incidences of diabetes are higher among those living near major cities and within certain demographic groups, such as Mexican Americans, than in the population as a whole.
Let’s take a closer look at the demographics in five most soot-polluted cities in the country:
*Souce: America Lung Association and US Census Data
Latinos make up half of all people living in the most soot-polluted cities in the country, with populations in Visalia/Porterville reaching an overwhelming 60 percent.
EPA Soot Rules Will Save Lives
Help is on the way. This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold hearings in the State capital of Sacramento on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particle Pollution, also known as the Soot Rule.† The agency has proposed an update to clean air standards on soot and other particle pollution that, according to Earth Justice, will annually prevent:
The EPA has published the proposed new standards in the Federal Register and will take public comments before signing a final rule by no later than December 14, 2012.† Finalizing these rules will help keep all Americans safer and healthier. But in California?s Central Valley, it is often a matter of life and death.
Jorge Madrid is a research associate for the Energy Policy Team; Max Frankel is a senior at Vassar College.