Mission elapsed time: T + 21 and counting*
I'm an artist, and if you give me a tuba I'll bring you something out of it. --John Lennon
Montreal. Corruption: "Suits, cigars, and socks stuffed with cash. That's the portrait of the Mafia that Montreal police officers are illustrating this week at the Charbonneau Commission into organized crime. Quebec's corruption inquiry has promised to examine ties between organized crime, the construction industry and the world of political party financing." Making the carré rouge all the more necessary and courageous.
Occupy. Right to peaceably assemble: "Associate Judge Thomas Donnelly ruled the October 2011 arrests were unconstitutional because the city routinely chooses not to enforce the curfew for events the city supports, such as the 2008 Election Night rally for President Barack Obama. … Police state: "UC to pay nearly $1 million in UC Davis pepper-spray settlement. The settlement also calls for UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi to write a formal apology to each of the students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed or arrested." Mistakes were made?
AR. Legalization: "The AR Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a proposed ballot measure that, if successful, would make the state the first in the South to legalize medical marijuana."
AZ. Food stamp diet: "Phoenix mayor attempts to live on a food stamp budget: 'I'm tired, and it's hard to focus.'"
CA. On the docket: "A federal judge on Thursday determined [that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula] is a flight risk and ordered him detained. The hearing had an unusual wrinkle as the news media were banned from the courtroom where Nakoula was appearing, and reporters had to watch the proceedings on a TV in a different courthouse a couple blocks away. Court officials didn't give a reason for the decision." Hmm.
CT. More guns, please: "A man fatally shot a masked teenager in self-defense outside his neighbor's house during what appeared to be an attempted late-night burglary and then discovered it was his son." Of course, if the boy had had a gun….
FL. Corruption: "Sternad, who ran in the D primary against Garcia for a South FL congressional seat, admitted to the FBI that he was a stooge for incumbent R Rivera. Garcia is Rivera's challenger on the November ballot." Juicy detail at the link. … Corruption: "A Tampa real estate developer and an accountant with ties to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan pleaded guilty in federal court today for their roles in illegal contributions to the R Party of FL and Buchanan's campaign, the Department of Justice announced." … Corruption: "The Department of Economic Opportunity and its legacy agency have spent $750,000 to redesign its website, build a content management system and review its communications related to unemployment compensation over five contracts that were not competitively bid."
IA. Early ballots: "During the 2000 general election, absentee ballots accounted for only about a quarter of Iowa Democrats and Republicans who participated. But in 2008, nearly half of the IA Ds who voted cast early ballots, whereas less than a third of Rs who participated cast early ballots."
LA. Refineries: "The LA Bucket Brigade and seven other environmental groups filed suit against the EPA Thursday in an attempt to get the agency to limit air emissions of the most toxic, cancer-causing chemicals released by 150 oil refineries in 32 states, including 17 in LA." … Times-Picauyune: The paper is running a super series on landfills. Kudos.
MA. Corruption: "The former state chemist accused of jeopardizing thousands of convictions by tampering with drug evidence admitted to investigators that for two or three years she cut corners at the now shuttered state drug lab by recording false positives and "a few times" adding known drugs to samples to produce the desired result."
MI. Emergency managers: "Emergency managers begin by usurping the power of all elected officials or simply 'firing' them. They can then rewrite the public budget without any public participation, unilaterally eliminate various services, cancel contracts, seize and sell off public assets, privatize government functions, and dictate new laws. They can even dissolve a city's charter. This isn't merely un-democratic--it's aggressively anti-democratic." (EM timeline) … Deference: "Mayor Dave Bing halted a public district community meeting tonight after the audience became unruly and at times heckled him about issues including 12-hour shifts for Detroit Police and the proposal to lease Belle Isle to the state."
NC. Universities: "The UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions, a group that includes prominent right-wing political funders Art Pope and Fred Eshelman, heard presentations Wednesday about the state's changing demographics, the need for more educated workers, and the state's economic future. The Pope Center has an answer for the workforce problem too, advocating a few years ago that students be allowed to drop out of school at age 14 to enter the labor force. They not only openly advocate for fewer kids to go college, they seem to want fewer to finish high school." 14? Why so late?
NJ. Foreclosures: "NJ has distributed less than $4 million of a $300 million grant, placing the Garden State in last place among states that have received grants from the Treasury's Hardest Hit Fund."
NY. Corruption: "The IG's latest concludes that officials at the Kingsboro Psychiatric Center in Brooklyn failed to create discharge plans for patients before putting them on the street, and that a director at the facility ordered employees to fake records to make it seem as if that work had been done." Well, it worked for Linda Green... Immigration: "While nearly two-thirds of deportation cases nationwide end in the target's removal from the country, the results in New York City have been starkly different. Here, 74 percent of deportation proceedings this year have ended with the immigrant being allowed to stay in the United States. What's more, over the last decade, the rate of New York City deportation proceedings that end with their subject being removed from the country has plummeted, down from 51 percent in 2002."
OH. Charters: "Preliminary data released by the OH Department of Education today indicate that while [charters] remove $771 million from traditional schools last year, they are generally getting worse results. And they cost the state about twice as much per pupil." … Fracking: "[CONSOL Energy, the] first company that built the first-ever horizontal exploratory drilling well in to the Utica Shale said on Thursday that it has stopped work at the drilling site in Vienna and is 're-prioritizing' their activity in the county. Little work has been done on the site on Warren-Sharon Road in Vienna since the Ohio EPA said slag runoff from the site killed numerous dead fish in a pond in Brookfield. The company did not elaborate on why work on the drilling site slowed." Rule #1 violation?
PA. Charters: "But the Vitalistic Therapeutic Charter School in Bethlehem is a great example of the diversion of substantial school tax money to an institution that gathered students, operated without state oversight -- and imploded. The school made improper payments to the families of employees and trustees, illegal loans and improper lease reimbursements totaling more than $630,000, according to a state audit report released recently." Mission accomplished! … Charters: "But the Vitalistic Therapeutic Charter School in Bethlehem is a great example of the diversion of substantial school tax money to an institution that gathered students, operated without state oversight -- and imploded. The school made improper payments to the families of employees and trustees, illegal loans and improper lease reimbursements totaling more than $630,000, according to a state audit report released recently." Mission accomplished! …
VA. UVa: "Alumni will be 'regrettably [sic] but definitely asking each house of the General Assembly to reject Helen Dragas' nomination to the Board of Visitors,' Richard D. Marks of UVa Alumni for Responsible Corporate Governance told the four legislators who were at the [legislative town hall]."
WA. Unions: "Most [Boeing SPEEA union members] wore red union T-shirts and sported badges that said, 'I'm voting NO.' [Industry analyst] Hamilton forecasts a 'landslide rejection' Monday of management's first offer."
WI. Greens: "[Green Jonathon] Dedering says [D Brett] Hulsey has not been truthful in responding to questions about the disorderly conduct charge, in which he pleaded no contest to flipping a 9-year-old boy from his flotation device at Spring Harbor Beach on July 4. Hulsey later provided conflicting stories to the press and also charged it was a politically motivated complaint."
WY. Fracking: "A USGS report on its water testing of one [Encana] monitoring well near [Pavillion, WY] -- where some residents complain that gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing contaminated their drinking supplies [i.e, groundwater]-- identified levels of methane, ethane, diesel compounds and phenol, which the EPA had also identified in its report last year."
Grand Bargain™-brand Cat Food watch. Divided government: "A record-high 38% of Americans prefer that the same party control the presidency and Congress, while a record-low 23% say it would be better if the president and Congress were from different parties and 33% say it doesn't make any difference" (Gallup). If one party's in power, a Grand Bargain is almost certain. Stalemate is better! (To put this another way, if the Ds truly wanted to make real "change," they would have abolished the filibuster in 2009 using the "nuclear option.")
Fracking. Export: "How much should the U.S. spend on gas export infrastructure? If it sells its gas overseas, how much might future U.S. prices -- for U.S. gas -- rise as future South Korean prices fall?" (explainer). It's thing to poison our water for our own gas; quite another to poison our water for export. Or not. … Regulation: "PA and OH each didn't inspect 91% of active oil and gas wells in 2010, Washington-based Earthworks said today in a report. In NM, the top fine of $1,000 per day for violations has been in place for more than 75 years." (PA official rebuttals.)
Voting. Provisional ballots: "New voting laws in key states could force a lot more voters to cast provisional ballots this election, delaying results in close races for days while election officials scrutinize ballots and campaigns wage legal battles over which ones should get counted" (explainer). ... Partisanship: "There are 36 states in which elections are overseen by an elected, partisan secretary of state or lieutenant governor, according to the National Association of Secretaries of State. In another three states - Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas - partisan secretaries of state appointed by the governor oversee elections" (explainer).
The trail. Toast indicator: "Soros is committing $1 million to Priorities USA Action, the 'super PAC' supporting Obama." Everybody loves a winner! … Toast indicator: "with 40 days to go, we're moving several toss-up states in the president's direction. Our changes push Obama over the magic 270 mark, but we are not calling the race." (Larry Saboto). Read for qualifiers. … Toast indicator: "There's no point in putting it gently: Romney had one of his worst polling days of the year on Wednesday" (Nate Silver). … Lost cause: "[Respected congressional scholar Norman] Ornstein said in another couple of weeks, R independent Super Pac strategists such as Karl Rove 'could decide that Romney is a lost cause and they've got to pour their money into House and Senate races instead of the presidential race.'" … Losing the political class: "Rs may soon lose a key talking point. According to data released Thursday, President Obama may now be a net job creator. In the year following Obama's inauguration, the U.S. economy lost about 4.3 million jobs. But new figures released Thursday show 4.4 million jobs have been added back since then " (CNNMoney). Buried: This doesn't keep up with population growth. … Solnit's hippie punching, a response: "Your elected officials never deserve your praise. The second you stop complaining and join in the cheerleading is the second democracy fails to function. Anyone who tells you different is an elitist apologist. End of story forever."
The Romney. Interview: " Mary Aggers, 65, watched the biographical video before Romney's campaign event in Bedford Heights, OH. 'It shows an aspect of him that the press usually doesn't bring out -- they try to make him a stiff, wealthy, cardboard figure,' she said. 'But I like him because he's not a politician.'" Dear Lord. Could the gaffes be the awesomest rope-a-dope strategy EVAH?! … Torture: "The Romney campaign document, obtained by The New York Times, is a five-page policy paper titled "Interrogation Techniques." It was a near-final draft circulated last September among the Romney campaign's "national security law subcommittee" for any further comments before it was to be submitted to Mr. Romney." … Expectations game: "[In the debates, Obama will] use his ample rhetorical gifts and debating experience to one end: attacking Mitt Romney." "He used sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire."
The Obama. Student debt: "'I want to make sure that everybody in America gets a great education,' he said, suggesting the elimination of 'middlemen' in the student loan system to give money directly to students to help keep interest rates low." OK, so why not single payer, then? … Teebee, 47%: "[A] brutal shot at Mitt Romney's videotaped remarks about the freeloading 47 percent -- it features nothing but audio of Romney's own words, accompanied by pictures of veterans, workers, families with children, and other 47 percenters" (video). Brilliant and unchallenged D oppo is, to me, a key story of this campaign. Not only does nobody know who made the video, it was a crime to make it! That's way better than Swift boating. … Teebee, 47%: "I've seen [the new 47% ad] numerous times on the air in Canton, [OH,] the seat of battleground Stark County." … Teebee, 47%: Lord Eschaton puts the boot in. … Teebee, OFA: "[OBAMA: ] It's time for a new economic patriotism, rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong, thriving middle class. Read my plan" (video). Fine, fix the foreclosure mess. Throw some banksters in jail. Apply Rule #1.
* Slogan of the day: Forging ahead courageously while following the great leader Mitt Romney!