Archive for the ‘Campaigns and Elections’ Category

By: Dan Froomkin
The Huffington Post

Poll watchers from groups ostensibly targeting voter fraud are headed primarily to minority voting precincts on Election Day, lending support to the argument that their real goal is to suppress the African-American and Latino vote.

A partial list of precincts targeted by a Pittsburgh Tea Party group working on behalf of the Republican Party shows that nearly 80 percent of the voters in those precincts are African-American, compared to 13 percent countywide, according to civil rights and union groups who on Monday called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

An Ohio political blog is reporting that forms submitted to election officials by Tea Party spin-off group True the Vote in Franklin County — which includes Columbus — show poll watchers heading to 28 precincts, where most voters are African-American. Overall, the county electorate is 20 percent African-American.

“We’ve been concerned from the beginning that the efforts of True the Vote and aligned groups were going to be targeted largely in communities of color,” said Eric Marshall, manager of legal mobilization for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We’ve seen in the past where these kinds of tactics can lead to intimidation and harassment of voters.”

A potentially even greater concern now is that the groups will use the voter challenge process “for the express purpose of creating lines and confusion,” Marshall said.

Prohibitively long lines, particularly where Democrats are in the majority, are a net plus for Republicans; extraordinarily long lines for early voting in South Florida resulted from Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s rollback of early voting days there.

Pittsburgh Tea Party Movement founder Patti Weaver, whose group trained the would-be poll watchers there, said her volunteers wouldn’t interfere with anyone. “We are not harassing voters. We won’t be talking to voters. We’re just there to observe,” she told HuffPost.

As for the list of precincts, she said: “Nobody’s targeting African-Americans anywhere in the country, that I know of. We’re sending volunteers to precincts which have had irregularities in the past or statistical issues.”

Weaver said the list was provided by fellow activist Bob Howard, but Howard told HuffPost he didn’t make the list himself. “I was not involved in the selection process. I don’t know the details,” he said.

He was told that many of the precincts were on the list because in previous elections, reports were sent in to the local Republican Party or to specific GOP candidates “that there was something at the poll that was a problem.” Others were there because of unusual swings in voting activity, he said.

He said the reasons were explained to him by the man who gave him the list: Chris Metz, executive director of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County.

Metz, however, would not answer questions about how the list was created. “That I cannot speak upon,” he told HuffPost. “That is the state party that put that together.”

He had no further comment. The spokesperson for the Pennyslvania Republican Party did not return phone messages.

But Nicole Berner, a lawyer with the Service Employees International Union — the group that obtained the list of precincts — said the only strong statistical correlation among them is race. The list was obtained by an independent community organizer who attended one of the poll watcher-training sessions and was able to jot down information about 59 of the 111 precincts that the group was asking people to sign up for, according to Berner.

Berner and others have requested that the Department of Justice ask the Republican Party for the complete list. “On the basis of the data that we ran, we can’t find any other single factor that would tie these precincts together, so how did you get this list?” said Berner.

A spokesperson for True the Vote, which vowed to send a million poll watchers out to hunt down voter fraud, did not respond to an email inquiry. Its founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, told The New York Times that she suddenly became concerned with voter fraud after President Barack Obama’s election in 2008. “I don’t know, something clicked,” she told the Times.

Marshall pointed out that none of the groups has provided evidence of in-person voter fraud anywhere — and groups have not provided evidence “to back up exactly why they should send all their poll watchers to African-American neighborhoods.” Lacking that evidence, he said, “we have concerns as to why they’re sending them to those locations.

“I’m not going to describe motivation,” he said. “I think the targeting of where they’re sending people speaks volumes.”

Marshall said that anyone witnessing any kind of voter intimidation on Election Day should call the voter protection hotline at (866) OUR-VOTE, or 866ourvote.org. “Then we’ll try to work through the laws and procedures in that county to get those people to either stop or be removed.”

The latest polls show Romney either leading Obama or closing the gap. With all the inconceivably blatant, unbelievably overt flip-flopping, surrogate gaffes, right-wing extremism…HOW CAN THIS BE HAPPENING!?!?!

Romney may say he’s center-right on abortion, but his running-mate is a co-sponsor on bills banning abortion, creating personhood amendments, and advocating intrusive trans-vaginal probes on women. Yet, Romney is supposedly closing in on the polls for women voters…HOW?!?! Do they not read? Or put two and two together?

I understand that the demographic of white males will obviously be slanted toward Romney, but WHY?!?! His foreign policy is all over the place, until recently where it almost mirrored Obama’s…including his timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan. This is after he’s campaigned for God knows how long about how any timeline for withdrawal is a mistake and giving the enemy an advantage. His economic policy is vague at best; time and again the math doesn’t add up…though Romney & Ryan will tell you different. They always bring up the “six different studies” slogan, but their “studies” are right-wing blog posts that Fox News’ Chris Wallace and Bill Kristol, who also writes for the Weekly Standard, have refuted.

From what I’ve read over the span of this campaign, I understand that moderate Republicans are afraid he’s too extreme, and fringe Right-wingers are afraid he’s too moderate…and this is because Romney is a professional panderer. But these groups of folks have no one left to vote for. They can’t vote for Obama, so, to them, Romney is the most logical choice…the truth, he’s their only choice. They won’t vote for Gary Johnson and Ron Paul hasn’t stolen their hearts and minds…so Romney it is!

Even the African-American vote is not being considered as deadly to Romney as it was to McCain in the last election. Why? From what I gather, Obama didn’t do enough to encourage them, to help the inner-city youth, to promote their welfare. There are multiple arguments to be made here but the crux of it is, the African-American community still feel disenfranchised and that Obama didn’t do enough…To those that feel this way, I say this: What did you want him to do exactly? I’ve talked to many of my African-American friends to see what their feelings are on this matter. Many of them do feel Obama is a good President and will vote for him again, however there were a few that said that they felt he wasn’t strong enough or he was a straw-man and will not vote at all…they refuse to vote for Romney, and they can’t bring themselves to vote for Obama again.

Another thing that is floating out there, is the idea that Obama didn’t work well with a Republican House of Representatives. To that I say, HOW COULD HE?!?!?!?! When a majority of the House say that it will be their one and only goal to make Obama a one-term president and vote against any of the policies he brings to the table…no matter how beneficial for the country it is…HOW DO COMPETE WITH THAT?!?!

Facts?!?! We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Facts!

It is not clear who the culprit is. It is not clear if the GOP is causing it, or Fox News, or the Romney/Ryan ticket, or the Religious Right, or if it’s just the “nature of the beast,” but it seems that Conservatives are allergic to facts. What else is the reason to avoid them like the Plague. One can argue that this condition popped up on the radar during the Nixon administration, but it definitely exploded during the Reagan years and then again during the “W” Dark Age.  Just a single, small point to support this position: “[Public Policy Polling] asked voters who they thought deserved more credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden: Obama or Romney. 63 percent said Obama, 31 percent weren’t sure, and 6 percent said Romney. The results for Republican voters were even more astonishing. 38 percent said Obama, 47 percent weren’t sure, and 15 percent said Romney,” (Matthews, Washington Post)  It is not understood how this even happened.  I get how some people are misinformed and others are completely uninformed, however to even come to the decision in one’s head that Mitt Romney had ANYTHING at all, ever, to do with the killing of bin Laden is beyond comprehension.

Fox News is the known source of information to much of the right-wing and almost all of the people in the South and Midwest of the US.  However, there have been more than one study showing that a person is more informed if they don’t watch any television at all than if they sat and watched Fox News all day, every day.  Starting with an article written by Kenneth Rapoza for Forbes.com about a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll and an additional SIX more studies, there has been evidence that Fox News viewers to be the most misinformed about, and in a right-wing direction, about global warming, health care, health care a second time, the Ground Zero mosque, the Iraq war, and the 2010 election.  This unofficially named “Fox News Effect” is frightening and says a lot about today’s media, what is truly fair and balanced, and the right-wing.

The Romney/Ryan Campaign are not ignoramuses.  They are analysts, advisers, strategists, and former staffers to other administrations.  They HAVE to know about this “information-gap” within their base and they have to be capitalizing on it.  Why else would Romney be so close to President Obamain the polls?  Romney/Ryan are campaigning to the ignorant, sometimes racist, Palin-loving, religious conservatives that do not know much and are happy about it.  That could be a reason why Romney and Ryan never get into the specifics about their policies.  It is because they know that their uninformed base cannot comprehend the specifics, and they do not care to boot.  The problem is Romney and Ryan have to run as “the Other;” the anti-Obama; the lesser of two evils.  In talking with other conservatives, Romney is not specific enough, not conservative enough, he’s not a real Christian, and no one knows what position he’ll take from day-to-day.  He’s a businessman trying to run his campaign, and maybe his presidency, like a business.  But the American govt is not to turn a profit, and besides Romney was a lousy businessman who inherited his fortune from his father. And if there were specifics to his policies and positions, the Right does not have a Bill Clinton to explain it to them.

Bill Clinton Explaining Pres. Obama’s Policies at the 2012 DNC

Say what they must about their own campaign and policies, nothing gets the Romney/Ryan ticket up in the polls like Obama-bashing.  But they are finding it increasingly difficult to bash him in anything other than not solving the economic crisis fast enough.  They can’t touch President Obama on foreign policy, or drilling for gas/oil, or mining, or green energy.  They can’t touch him on healthcare, even though they’ve tried like hell, or education, or immigration. They throw the word socialist around, but Obama has been the worst socialist President ever, even though he is not one.

You see, there are a few things the right-wing do not know about President Obama because either Fox News “forgot to mention it” or because they were distracted by the President’s skin color.  When facts are released, the Romney/Ryan Ticket have NOTHING to run on.  Obama probably stopped the Second-Coming of the Great Depression, gave the country healthcare, got the US out of Iraq, started the withdrawal from Afghanistan, was essential in the killing of Osama bin Laden and Muammar al-Gaddafi, implemented Wall Street Reform, the Auto Bailout, the DREAM Act, repealed Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell, put two women on the Supreme Court, reactivated Stem Cell Research, equal pay for women, stopped torture, and reformed student loans for college students.
But hey, don’t distract yourselves with the facts and figures of history and current events.  Because if you do, you forget that the President is a Black Muslim with a Negro army who are coming to take you away to socialist FEMA re-education camps that will make you give away all your money to the poor illegals while you sit in front of a death-panel…

Lies. Deceit. Betrayal. The Romney/Ryan Ticket has spent millions of dollars from all their shadow-donors on advertisements attacking President Obama. This is contrary to Former Gov Romney’s absurd claim that the President is out-spending him. Some of the television ads have been controversial, sparking questions and challenges from journalists. Thus far, one specific topic of the advertisements have been the most controversial as of yet. Romney’s camp have put out a series of television commercials spewing filthy lies about President Obama’s change to the Welfare requirements. And when challenged about these ads, he supports them while rejecting them…huh? Romney responded that the Obama administration does not have the authority to change, and especially waive, the Welfare work requirements that have been in place since the Clinton Administration. This is a different story from the ads Romney’s camp delivered to millions of people all over the United States. These ads claim that the work requirements have been dropped…completely. News organizations from around the country have pointed out that fact-checkers have said that is not the case, and the ads are untrue…completely.

“Fact-checkers on both sides of the aisle will look in the way they think is most consistent with their own views,” Romney said. Doesn’t that conflict with the whole point of being a fact-checker? Do we have fact-checker-checkers? Romney continued, “It’s very clear that others who have looked at the same issue feel that the president violates the provision of the act which requires work in welfare, defines what work is. He guts that, he ends that requirement for those that seek that welfare.”

Multiple states, Democratic- and Republican-led, have asked the administration to consider implementing a system where the states have to demonstrate they can increase welfare employment by 20% or face penalties.  As of this moment, the Obama administration has not announced that it has issued any waivers.  But the Romney Camp does not allow this accuracy to flow.  They just shout from the rooftops that the sky is falling and Obama is eliminating welfare work requirements.  We shall see if the American people will truly believe the big lie, before they believe all the small ones.

So this weekend, in Tampa, Florida, in the path of a possible hurricane, the Republicans will hold their national convention. The RNC Chair, Reince Priebus will be there, Mike Huckabee is speaking, Paul Ryan has a small spot in the schedule, even Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann Romney, will have a speaking role over the course of the next few days. Republican bundlers will have their own hotel all to themselves, and of course, unless you’re staking out the hotel, no one knows who these shadowy figures are. The RNC even renamed a pavilion after the gazillionaire donor Sheldon Adelson‘s wife, just for the time during the convention. But do you know who’s not going to be there? Some of the biggest decision-makers of the Republican Party over the past decade – George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin… John McCain will be there, but only for a tiny little speech in between 2 relatively unknown Republican Party “figures.”  There will be, however, lots of mini-conventions that are not going to be open to the press.  These are the expensive dinners, closed-door meetings, strategy-sessions, and million-dollar fundraising events garnered toward the donors funding the RNC machine.  Who’s going to those?  Well, it is almost a given that the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Karl Rove and his Crossroads GPS “peeps” will be among the attendees, as well as hundreds more of the 1%-ers swarming the poor town of Tampa.

Not only is this storm coming to Tampa, but a possible hurricane as well.  As this is being typed, Tropical Storm Isaac is moving directly towards the RNC Convention.  If this isn’t the world shoving Global Climate Change down the throats of the “deniers,” I don’t know what is.  Rick Scott, the Republican Governor of Florida, is already declaring a State of Emergency for the entire state, ahead of Isaac making landfall.  So this is a chance for the conservatives to do what they do best, raise millions of money at the expense of others, and pray for sunshine.

So far, here’s the shaping of the US Presidential Election, based on HuffPost Pollster charts and analysis.

By Bill Maher

 

New Rule: If your entire party tries to get rid of you, and you stay in, you can’t talk about how easy it is for a woman to push a stupid prick out of her body.

I don’t want to waste another second thinking about Todd Akin, and his theory that you can’t get pregnant unless your eggs are asking for it. Here’s the only thing you need to know about Todd Akin and human anatomy: he’s an asshole. What I want to talk about is how it’s not a coincidence that the party of fundamentalism is also the party of fantasy. When I say religion is a mental illness, this is what I mean: it corrodes your mental faculties to the point where you can believe in tiny ninja warriors who hide in vaginas and lie in wait for bad people’s sperm.

Evangelicals might like to pretend that the magical thinking that they indulge in at home doesn’t affect what they do at the office, but it absolutely does. The brain that believes in angels and miracles and Jesus riding a dinosaur is trained to see the world not as it is, but as you want it to be.

Republicans would like to pretend like Congressman Akin’s substitution of superstition for science is a lone problem but it’s not: they’re all magical thinkers, on nearly every issue. They don’t get their answers on climate change from climatologists, they get them from the Book of Genesis. Hence Sharia Law in America is a dire threat, and global warming a hoax.

Or take the issue that consumes the right these days, our sea of red ink: Republicans are united in their fervent desire to reduce the deficit, but they want to do it in some magical fashion that doesn’t involve raising taxes or cutting any spending. When given a choice in polls between these two options, a majority of Republicans check “none of the above” as a way to reduce the deficit. That’s like deciding to pay off your student loans by daydreaming.

Or as it’s known on Capitol Hill, supply-side economics. Remember that magic beans theory? That you actually bring in more revenue by bringing in less? Ronald Reagan believed it. But at least back in the ’80s it was new. The thing is, we tried it, and it doesn’t work. Yet, Paul Ryan, who every shit-for-brains pundit in America keeps telling us is a “serious” guy, still believes in the supply-side theory. All the Republicans do. They all believe in something that both science and history have shown to be pure fantasy. The symbol for their party shouldn’t be an elephant — it should be a unicorn.

Paul Ryan is their tough guy on spending but he doesn’t want to touch defense — that’s right, a budget hawk who doesn’t think there’s anything bloated about the Defense Department’s budget. It’s like being a health inspector and finding nothing wrong with the Asian place that has the chicken hanging in the window. This is how low we’ve put the bar for political courage — that you can just write, “I want a pony” in a binder and call it the “Plan For Restoring Vision For the Future of America’s Greatness” or some shit, and then everyone has to refer to you as the serious one in Congress. It reminds me of health care. Republicans are for all the popular things, like covering people with pre-existing conditions, but they’re not for the part where you pay for it, like the mandate. Just like they were for our recent wars, but not for paying for them. For the prescription drug bill, but not for paying for it.

How do they get away with it? They know that, because we’re already such a religious country, our minds are primed for magical, fantasy thinking. The gullibility comes factory-installed. They’ve learned that you appeal not to an American’s head, but to his gut — it’s a much bigger target. But here’s the problem: life is complicated. I mean, I know we know some things for sure, like why Jesus put us here on Earth: to watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on a 50-inch TV screen. But what about the Chinese slaves who made the TV? What about carbon from the coal that generated the electricity? What about the Walmart where we bought it, where the workers don’t have health insurance? What about racism, or the oceans turning into nail polish remover? The grown-up answer is: identify problems scientifically, prioritize and solve. The Republican answer is: there isn’t a problem. And anyone who tells you different is a liar who hates America. We don’t have to make hard choices. We just have to ignore the science and the math — that’s why God gave us values.

If rape babies throw a monkey wrench into the whole right-to-life pitch, just make believe rape babies don’t exist. If you want to cut down on teen pregnancy, just tell curious kids with raging hormones to practice abstinence. Until they get married. Because everyone knows, that’s when the fucking never stops. Health care? Not a problem if you just keep repeating, “We have the greatest health care in the world.” Even though the U.N. ranks it 37th.

What’s the solution to global warming? It’s that it isn’t real, and even if it is, big whoop, just buy an air conditioner, you pussy. Republicans also believe that putting the word “clean” next to the word “coal” creates something called clean coal. Even though there’s the exact same amount of evidence for clean coal as there is for Todd Akin’s mistaken baby makin’ theory.

Republicans also believe if they kick all the Mexicans out of the country, the strawberries will pick themselves, and that if they cut the safety net all the poor blacks are “resting” in, they will fall gently to the ground, stand up, dust themselves off, and get good-paying jobs as Olympic gymnasts.

Next week in Tampa the Republicans must admit that the difference between a GOP convention and Comic-Con is that the people at Comic-Con have a much firmer grasp of reality.

~ Bill Maher is the host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.

I have found something to be trending among Republican ideologues, social conservatives, and “Tea-Baggers” (I mean Tea-Partiers); That Republicans would support BIG Government if it supported them.  For example, if tomorrow, President Obama and all the Dems in Congress decided to ban abortion across the board, or gay marriage, or stem cell research, or science…the Republican and Tea Parties would be all for it.

No, you say? Well if you start looking at the states and members of Congress submitting bills for such antiquated social policies such as aforementioned, you may change your mind.

Even today, a federal judge granted Planned Parenthood’s preliminary injunction to prevent a new South Dakota abortion law from taking effect while it’s being challenged in court. The fact is that Planned Parenthood, centers for women’s health, etc. are under attack by Right-Wing extremists in the states’ and federal legislatures.  Just in the last few months, bills have been submitted and are on the verge of passing that ban abortions no matter what the patient’s choice or status is.

Republicans are for individual responsibility as long as they deem what responsible is. They won’t let you have an abortion, but they will make you incur the cost of having a child.  Isn’t that BIG government?  It’s having the state, or the federal if they had their way, MANDATE a person to make one choice over another.

I have had debate after debate on my positions on both Gay Marriage and Abortion. My view is that it is not my nor anyone else’s place to tell someone who they can and cannot marry, however, limits on what and how many spouses can be imposed. For instance, any person should be allowed to marry another person if they are in love, but must maintain a single human spouse. Is that confusing? I didn’t think so. Also, my position on abortion is that it is not up to any government, federal, state, municipal, to decide whether a woman will or will not have an abortion.  Now, I do hope the woman chooses to bear and keep her child, however it is not my, nor anyone else’s place to make that call other than the woman.  That is limited government my conservative friends.

To ban Planned Parenthood or other women’s health centers while referring them to a women’s prison as an alternative for female healthcare is an abomination. The legislators, and those who fund them, should be ashamed of themselves and should look into the void where their soul had been and reflect on what they REALLY wanted to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if these women’s prisons are privately owned, and the owners continuously make large donations to these legislative scheisters.  How can conservatives be so pro-life, and then turn around and be supporting the death penalty? Doesn’t the Bible say that every life is precious and equal in God’s eyes?

However, its now the Liberals turn…How can you be pro-choice, especially if the choice is indeed abortion, but then be against the death penalty, or the euthanizing of animals? A human life is definitely a little more important than a rat’s and if you can’t recognize that, well then you need to move to a deserted island and really contemplate your position. And if you are fine with ending a life that is in the same stage of gestation you once were, then why are you not fine with destroying one that has been so detrimental to society that his or her peers have deemed them unworthy of life? Aren’t you committing that same judgment on an unborn human who is not guilty of anything?

Bill O’Reilly and Bill Maher: Two completely opposite ideologues, yet they are the best at knowing their ideologies. Which is why i give them both my utmost respect and audience. O’Reilly stands against abortion AND the death penalty. Maher doesn’t mind if people are sent to prison to be executed at a later date AND he is in favor of a woman’s right to end the life of her unborn baby.  Why can’t the Liberals and Conservatives be as consistently honest about their own ideologies as these two ?