Buzzfeed reports that a Latino-fied Mitt Romney threatened to pull the plug on his Univision forum earlier this week unless the network gave in to his demands, including busing in additional Romney supporters and retaping the event's introduction.Moderator Maria Elena Salinas told BuzzFeed that tickets for both the Romney and Obama forums were split between the campaigns, with both agreeing...
It's not even a question. The Republicans, acting in concert across state governments, show clear intent to steal this election, by hook or by crook. (God knows, Romney can't win it on his own.) That's what Republicans do when they want something: They lie, cheat, steal, misrepresent, and otherwise take voters' rights away and work it to their own advantage.
I don't expect we'll see a repeat of 2004. As many criticisms as I have of Obama and his policies, I don't think his campaign will simply fold their tents and fade into the night as John Kerry did after they stole Ohio. But I wonder whether they're setting things in place for the legal fight if the Republicans successfully pull this off.
Dan Froomkin writes about the Republican plan to keep college students from voting:
In Tennessee, a new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls explicitly excludes student IDs.In Wisconsin, college students are newly disallowed from using university-provided housing lists or corroboration from other students to verify their residence.
Florida's reduction in early voting days is expected to reduce the number of young and first-time voters there.And Pennsylvania's voter identification bill, still on the books for now, disallows many student IDs and non-Pennsylvania driver's licenses, which means out-of-state students may be turned away at the polls.
In 2008, youth voter turnout was higher that it had been since Vietnam, and overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. This time around, the GOP isn't counting solely on disillusionment to keep the student vote down.
In the last two years, Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed dozens of bills that erect new barriers to voting, all targeting Democratic-leaning groups, many specifically aimed at students. The GOP's stated rationale is to fight voter fraud. But voter fraud -- and especially in-person fraud which many of these measures address -- is essentially nonexistent.
None of the new laws blocks student voting outright -- although in New Hampshire, Republican lawmakers almost passed a bill that would have banned out-of-state students from casting a ballot. (The leader of the State House, Bill O'Brien, wascaught on tape explaining how the move was necessary to stop students from "basically doing what I did when I was a kid: voting as a liberal.")
And in some states, education officials are trying to limit the damage. In Pennsylvania, for instance, many universities are either reissuing IDs or printing expiration stickers to make current cards valid, according to a survey by thePennsylvania Public Interest Research Group.
But every additional barrier makes a difference to students, said Maxwell Love, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. "It's the little things that make voting harder that are going to affect apathetic students ... This is like literally slamming the door on youth engagement."
However, here's a glimmer of hope in Pennsylvania. Some counties are exploiting a loophole in the state's new voter ID law:
A voter-ID mutiny launched by Democratic-controlled Montgomery and Allegheny Counties showed signs of spreading across the state Friday, as Philadelphia and a handful of other local governments said they, too, would consider issuing poll-ready identification cards through county-run nursing homes and colleges.
Despite the bitter partisan debate surrounding the controversial Pennsylvania law, state Republicans voiced little opposition Friday to the counties' new plans.
"I don't think anyone contemplated the possibility of a county nursing home becoming an issuer of an identification document that could be used to satisfy the voter-ID requirement," said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware), a key force in enacting the law last March. But he added, "I am not against the principle of other entities having the ability to issue cards, as long as we have uniform standards and safeguards in place."
On Thursday, Allegheny and Montgomery Counties said they would begin issuing their own ID cards through county-run facilities.
The move exploits a loophole in the new law that allows both colleges and senior-care centers to provide such cards to anyone who lives in the county - not just to the people who attend those colleges or reside in those centers.
The counties' officials explained their decisions by citing complaints from residents who had run into trouble obtaining the required photo ID through the state's preferred route, the Department of Transportation.
Some said PennDot workers turned them away for failing to bring sufficient proof of identity, while others were rejected for bringing documents with slightly mismatched names.
"This does not solve the problems across the Commonwealth," Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman, Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said of his county's plan. "But it is an important step in the right direction for our constituents."
What's coming up on Sunday Kos ...
Paul Ryan was roundly booed by senior citizens yesterday when he went to New Orleans for the annual AARP conference and did his Lyin' Ryan routine on them. "The first step to a stronger Medicare," he insisted, "is to repeal Obamacare." The place broke out in raucous booing-- like Blink 182 fans at a Osmonds concert. He must have thought he was back at the Atlas Society (an Ayn Rand appreciation society) luncheon when he was getting an award for being an outspoken and unabashed Wall Street shill... and for wanting to privatize Social Security (watch the video below). He claims he got "a mixed reaction"-- from AARP (the John Galt folks worship him, of course). Watch the video above. Digby referred to it as his Eddie Haskell impression. Here's a direct quote from Congressman Ryan to the Galter freaks:
"Social Security right now is a collectivist system. It's a welfare transfer system..."And here's what, Rob Zerban, his Democratic opponent in the congressional race in Wisconsin's first district had to say about it this morning. ?Paul Ryan?s speech to the AARP yesterday shows seniors aren't buying into Ryan's snake oil salesman routine. Even after countless independent news organizations debunked Ryan?s lie about President Obama?s Medicare record, Ryan repeated the same outrageous claims simply to scare voters and cover up his indefensible budget plan. But the facts are simple: Paul Ryan would end Medicare as we know it and force seniors to pay an extra $6,500 per year out of their own pockets-- while President Obama has consistently protected it. Voters know Ryan is trying to balance the budget on the backs of our seniors, and that?s why he was repeatedly booed yesterday.? Let me add, on behlaf of Blue America, that booing Ryan is fine... but it isn't enough. Defeating Ryan on the doomed Romney ticket it fine, but that isn't enough either. It's crucial that we send Wall Street titans a clear message by defeating Paul Ryan in his own congressional seat and ending his dangerous political career once and for all.
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I'm not sure if the Romney campaign actually thought continuing to ask questions about his tax returns was going to distract from the dismal news cycle he's had for the last week or two, and is somehow better than talking about his "47 percent" remarks at that fundraiser, but here we go with a Friday news dump and the release of his 2011 returns.
As David Cay Johnston pointed out on Ed Schultz's show this Friday evening, the poorly worded press release just leaves more questions unanswered than answered and the 14.1 percent rate he paid could easily be amended down later if he fails to win his bid for the presidency.
Here's more from Think Progress on the subject -- 10 Questions Romney Should Answer About His Taxes:
On Friday afternoon, the Romney campaign released the candidate?s 2011 tax return, which showed that he paid a tax rate of approximately 14 percent on more than $13 million of reported income. The campaign also disclosed that Romney voluntarily forfeited about $1.8 million in charitable deductions to inflate the tax rate he would have to disclose to the public. The campaign continues to refuse to release returns prior to 2010, flunking an accepted standard of transparency, first established by Mitt?s father George Romney, of releasing multiple years? returns.
In a blog post, Romney?s lawyer and the trustee of his ?blind trust? said, ?After you have reviewed all of the newly-posted documents, you may have further questions.? Yes, we do. Lots.
Here are 10 unanswered questions about Romney?s taxes:
1. After the election, when the subject of your tax returns is outside of the public glare, will you file an amended tax return to claim your full deduction of charitable contributions? Was the tax rate you reported for other years similarly manipulated?
2. Why was your 2011 income $7 million lower than you estimated it to be in January? How does someone overestimate their income by $7 million?
3. Financial disclosures show that you have as much as $82 million in your tax-deferred Individual Retirement Account, despite the fact that tax rules limited contributions into such accounts to $30,000 per year. Did you lowball the value of the assets you put into your IRA, as tax experts suspect? And did you do the same with gifts into your sons? trusts?
4. What was the purpose of your Swiss bank account and the myriad offshore entities shown on your return, based in countries like the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg, if not to avoid taxes?
5. Can you explain what one tax expert has called a ?mysterious one-time infusion of foreign tax credits? in 2008?
Follow the link above to read the rest. Rough transcript of Johnston's interview with Schultz, who had some similar questions, below the fold.
SCHULTZ: When you see the tax return of Mitt Romney 2011, what jumps out at you? What did they do? How did he get 14%?
JOHNSTON: Well, he's at 14% because he mostly has this capital income and we tax people who are wealthy on the income from their money less than we do people who work. what's interesting here is Romney said in an interview with ABC that if he paid more than the minimum tax, a dollar more than the minimum tax the law requires, it would make him unqualified to be president.
Well, he paid somewhere in the order of between $265 and $600,000 more tax than necessary, little as his tax bill was, because he didn't, at least for the moment, deduct the full $4 million of charitable contribution. So by his own standard, he's made himself unqualified to be president. I think it's a silly standard but he said it.
SCHULTZ: Isn't this a classic example, his tax return, how the wealthiest Americans really have it pretty damn good in this country?
JOHNSTON: Boy, I would love to be paying a 14% tax rate. He also did something else where, you know, Romney should be trying to shut this down every way he can Ed. And you have to wonder about his judgment in all of this because that's the only test we have for somebody running for president is judgment, and how he's handled this. In the statement they put out about the 20 years of returns they, use the verb "owed."
They owed taxes. They didn't use the word paid, meaning paid in the year, in each individual year. That leaves open the possibility that they filed an amended return in a later year, that they were audited and were required to pay higher taxes.
And so I wrote the campaign and I asked them, well what about this, and what I got back was an answer that was actually unresponsive to this. So now he's opened up this new question. Well, were there in fact big audits of you at some point? He said he's been audited. Did you make a big payment because you underpaid? Did you ever pay penalties? All these questions are now back on the table because they didn't carefully write the statement that they issued or they wrote it the way they did because they have to.
SCHULT: And there are questions and also some maneuverability that he can do with this tax return of 2011. Isn't it possible for Romney that he can deduct an unclaimed amount in future years? For instance, if he doesn't get elected president, he can go back and say you know what, I'm going to take the full deduction instead of the $2.2 million on the $4 million that I donated? What about that?
JOHNSTON: Exactly right Ed. Mitt and Ann Romney have three years to amend their return, and if he's not elected president, I'm sure they will file an amended return and take the full amount. And it will knock his tax rate down, you have to do some technical work to figure out exactly what it is, as low as about 9.6% and as high as 12.2%, but certainly well below the level that he's talked about and well below the level that anybody working who makes even $50-60 thousand a year pays as a share of their income.
SCHULTZ: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent out a tweet on Romney's taxes earlier today. He said "When will the American people see the returns he filed before he was running for president?" What do you think about that comment? Are you curious about his tax returns before he said he was going to run for president? The way the market went in 2008 and 2009, there might be a chance that Romney didn't pay any tax.
JOHNSTON: Um, yes. They assert in there, that's why that word "owed" is important, that they owed taxes, as opposed to "paid." They do say they're current, whatever their taxes are. You know, I was probably the first person to call on Romney to release his returns, and it's getting close to a year ago now, and hee hasn't done this. Clearly there's something in there, even if it's something that's legal, that they know would just be fatal to his campaign. And in all of this it's just astonishing to watch how he has mishandled this. Here's a guy who says I'm this brilliant businessman. I'm proud of all this money that I made and look at all these things I did and he can't seem to run a campaign where he can talk about the only issue that can get him elected, which is that the economy hasn't improved as fast as some Americans would like. That's a really serious flaw on his part as CEO of the Romney campaign. You know, that's not a job he's handling well.
I believe this is former Special Inspector General of TARP Neil Barofsky's 206th media appearance in support of Bailout. He has tirelessly criss-crossed the media landscape to tell the story of his time in Washington and offer a warning about a[...]
Read The Full Article:
The Senate passed a resolution early this morning by a vote of 90-1 “joining” President Obama in rejecting any policy that would seek to contain Iran “as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.” However the non-binding measure — which all but two Democrats voted for — breaks significantly with the president’s policy [...]
After the past couple of weeks, I'll have to stop using the nickname of "Slick Willard" to refer to Mitt Scumney. He hasn't been slick at all, and some of the American people are getting a chance to see whom this really is.
I suppose his asinine behavior while visiting the Summer Olympic Games in London should have been enough foreshadowing of this. Like Obama's predecessor, this is a doofus, a son of privilege whose main talent seems to be for making a fool of himself.
He followed up on insults to America's closest ally with the Libya debacle, attacking alleged weakness in the Obama administration even before the victims' families had been notified. Even many top Republicans were aghast at that one.
Then there were the "47 percent" remarks, which appear to show Romney as the ignorant plutocrat he really is. The only "redistribution of wealth" that people like him object to is the kind that travels down the socioeconomic ladder. When it comes from the bottom up -- as it usually does -- it's called "smart business."
'Incompetent' was polite
Even prominent plutocrats are upset. Peggy Noonan, the onetime Reagan speechwriter who's now with The Wall Street Journal, said she was being polite when she called the Scumney campaign "incompetent." What she meant, she said, is that it is more like a "rolling calamity."
Here's a link to a story about Noonan's dismay.
Many polls are now showing Obama in the lead, reversing previous trends. One factor, I would say, is a closing of ranks among America's "center-left." Obama's lack of fight, at least for a long time while faced with Republican intractability, was disheartening to many. But the Republican Party has come so much under the spell of its kook element that the "center-left's" potential dissidents realize that Obama is the only person standing between us and utterly irresponsible right-wingers.
I worry, though, remembering an old adage that nobody ever lost a dime underestimating the intelligence of the American people. It has surprised even me, just a bit, how many people are still obsessing over where Obama was born when the U.S. is being faced with such a grave choice in November. The "birthers" always deny this, but I think the fact that there's an uppity n----r in the White House is what bothers them most. I would have thought that the Il Doofus (Bush 43) disaster would have spoiled the "Republican brand" for at least a generation, but the election of a black president seemed to make a lot of Il Doofus' damage invisible to many middle-class white people.
Scumney may still be able to make it close enough for the Republicans to steal it with their voter disenfranchisement strategy, and so forth. But at least the latest gaffes are giving people a chance to see whom he really is. As Massachusetts governor, he talked like a moderate, and even governed like one to a great extent. But recent missteps, plus his choice of Paul "Ayn" Ryan as his running mate, make clear that this is merely a privileged, opportunistic dork who's willing to tell anybody anything to have the office to which he obviously thinks he's entitled. The Republican right wing owns him now, and they also will do anything to grab power.
Read The Full Article:
Paul Ryan likened a mechanism to control health care spending to “death panels,” during a town hall at the University of Central Florida in Orlando on Saturday. After listening to Ryan repeatedly call for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, an elderly man asked the Republican vice presidential nominee about “the death panels.” Rather [...]
Of course, it doesn't matter that the morning after pills don't cause abortion - they simply stop ovulation to prevent a pregnancy from occurring, or prevent sperm from reaching the egg. It's more important that elected judges not give voters (or the Catholic church) a reason to target them when they run again:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - An Illinois appellate court Friday affirmed a lower court finding that the state cannot force pharmacies and pharmacists to sell emergency contraceptives - also known as "morning after pills" - if they have religious objections.
In 2005, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich mandated that all pharmacists and pharmacies sell "Plan B," the brand name for a drug designed to prevent pregnancy following unprotected sex or a known or suspected contraceptive failure if taken within 72 hours.
Some anti-abortion advocates object to the drugs, which work by preventing the release of an egg, preventing fertilization or stopping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.
In 2011, an Illinois judge entered an injunction against the rule, finding no evidence that the drugs had ever been denied on religious grounds, and that the law was not neutral since it was designed to target religious objectors.
And how, exactly, is this to be implemented? If there are four pharmacists on staff and one of them has religious objections, that person gets veto power? Of course, this also applies to those who don't want to sell the pill to sluts. Why, if you worked hard enough, you can come up with religious reasons to refuse all kinds of medication! No medication to people with Type II diabetes, because gluttony is a sin. No pain killers for new mom with an episiotomy, because the Bible says women should suffer giving birth. And let's not forget people dying of cancer: No more morphine! God wouldn't want you dying one minute before your appointed time.
Personally, I think Jesus would be appalled.