AR-15 A3. (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.)

Every week, I get a list of the latest headlines containing “voter fraud” from Google, most of which are not actually voter fraud. Why is it so hard for the press to get this right? Some people get downright testy when the press shows it has no interest in understanding the particulars of their interest. As I wrote at Digby’s:

Call a gun rights advocate’s AR-15 an assault rifle and he’ll think you’re a dumbass liberal who a) doesn’t know the first thing about weapons, and b) has no business anywhere near laws affecting his right to bear arms. What should voting rights advocates think of voter fraud vigilantes who call any and every form of election irregularity voter fraud?

Imposing new gun laws is counterproductive, many Republicans believe, because most criminals get guns illegally. More regulation just infringes upon honest Americans’ rights. But more regulations passed to prevent voting illegally? A nonissue.

Per a 1995 attorney training manual, the U.S. Department of Justice defines election fraud as roughly:

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Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
(Public domain via Wikipedia.)

“It will not work,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said bluntly after reports last week that some Wall Street banks may withhold campaign donations from congressional Democrats over tensions with her:

“They want a showy way to tell Democrats across the country to be scared of speaking out, to be timid about standing up, and to stay away from fighting for what’s right,” Warren wrote. “… I’m not going to stop talking about the unprecedented grasp that Citigroup has on our government’s economic policymaking apparatus … And I’m not going to pretend the work of financial reform is done, when the so-called ‘too big to fail’ banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008.”

It’s that intensity, the appearance that Warren cannot be bought and is in the Senate more to represent the little guys than herself that has the effort to draft Warren for president hard at work in Des Moines, Iowa (funded by Moveon.org and and Democracy for America):

Toria Pinter, a law student who is on medical leave, said that she was drawn to Warren because of the senator’s vocal call to lower the interest rates on student loans. Pinter said people should not misconstrue this campaign as anti-Clinton effort, but rather a pro-Warren movement.

“The campaign is not about Clinton,” she said. “That’s not what we are here to talk about. We are here to talk about Warren and how important she is to us. Because she embodies the ideals and issues that are important to us at the end of the day.”

[Blair Lawton, Iowa Field Director for the Run Warren Run campaign] said even if Warren decides not to run, he believes there are some long-term benefits from this campaign including “putting a big investment into the progressive community.

Meanwhile back in Washington, D.C. (cue theme from The Empire Strikes Back), Republicans are pushing back on Warren, reports Politico:

Republicans are deploying a new taunt to needle Democrats they say refuse to consider even modest changes to financial oversight laws: Why are you so afraid of Elizabeth Warren?

It’s part of an effort by the GOP to portray Democrats as being completely inflexible when it comes to changes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank law because they are running scared from the populist wing of the party that views Warren, the most outspoken Wall Street critic in Congress, as their champion.

In an appearance at the American Bankers Association conference, House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) joked that they might need extra help when lobbying Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Warren: “May the force be with you.”

Reading through the rest of the article about what changes Big Bidness wants to to see in Dodd-Frank, one comes away asking whether Congress would show the same level of effort and concern over the needs and wants of less well-heeled and less well-connected constituents. Which explains why volunteers are busting their tails for Warren in Des Moines.

Who knows what words Republican old boys are actually using in D.C. to cast Democrats as inflexible or “running scared” or weak-kneed by asking “Why are you so afraid of Elizabeth Warren?” But that strikes my ear as, “What are you afraid of, a girl?

With any luck, someone will catch one on tape saying explicitly what they really think.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)


Mar
29

Sunday Morning Music

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(Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.)

The Bipartisan Summit for Criminal Justice Reform in Washington, D.C. on Thursday brought together a strange-bedfellows coalition focused on reducing the country’s swollen prison population: from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to former Obama adviser Van Jones. The ACLU and Koch Industries were listed as program partners. Press coverage seems limited. Time wrote:

If you mistakenly wandered into the Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform, you might have thought you had fallen into an alternate universe. Scores of liberal and conservative activists, policy wonks and lawmakers gathered for an all-day conference that seemed to defy all the old saws about Washington gridlock. Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich lauded Democratic Senator Cory Booker, who volleyed back praise for his Republican partners. Even Attorney General Eric Holder drew warm applause in a ballroom dotted with conservatives.

But as unusual as that may be in Washington, it’s becoming a routine sight when it comes to criminal justice reform. In recent months, a growing bipartisan alliance has formed around the need to change a prison system that critics say is broken and bloated. Thursday’s crowd was the clearest sign yet of the coalition’s breadth. “When you have an idea whose time has come,” said Jones, one of the hosts of the summit, “it winds up being an unstoppable force.”

This has been a long time coming. Since passage of New Gingrich’s Taking Back Our Streets Act, part of his 1994 “Contract With America,” and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, “written by Joe Biden … and signed by Bill Clinton,” the country’s prison population doubled, writes Shane Bauer for Mother Jones:

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The Daily Show
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Mar
27

Never created a job?

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Again this morning, Paul Krugman knocks down some of the right’s cherished beliefs about its economic theories:

At a deeper level, modern conservative ideology utterly depends on the proposition that conservatives, and only they, possess the secret key to prosperity. As a result, you often have politicians on the right making claims like this one, from Senator Rand Paul: “When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan.”

Actually, if creating “millions of jobs” means adding two million or more jobs in a given year, we’ve done that 13 times since Reagan left office: eight times under Bill Clinton, twice under George W. Bush, and three times, so far, under Barack Obama. But who’s counting?

After the president fact-checked his critics in Cleveland last week, Susan Crabtree of the Washington Examiner, appearing on “The Last Word,” tried to tamp down his taking credit for unemployment falling to 5.5 percent, citing 30 million people who have dropped out of the workforce. Eugene Robinson would have none of it, pointing out that the Bureau of Labor Statistics figure is the “standard way that we have measured unemployment for many, many decades.” When the game is not going your way, you don’t get to move the goalposts. (IOKIYAR)

Krugman continues:

As a number of observers have pointed out, however, for big businesses to admit that government policies can create jobs would be to devalue one of their favorite political arguments — the claim that to achieve prosperity politicians must preserve business confidence, among other things, by refraining from any criticism of what businesspeople do.

Under “the confidence con,” any criticism of these “sensitive souls” will prompt Job Creators to take their investments and go home. But there is another free-market dogma not heard much anymore, one voiced by former RNC chair Michael Steele in 2009: “Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job.” Yet during the 2012 debate over whether the sequester would hurt the defense industry, the goalposts moved again. But worry not. Like Ah-nold, “never created a job” will be back.

Imagine a self-serving, industry-funded Sunday talk show ad:

One million workers in this country owe their cars, their homes, their kids’ education, and their steady paychecks to the private-sector, free-market entrepreneurs of the American defense industry.

The Defense Industry — meeting demand for fine consumer products like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the fuel-efficient M1 Abrams tank, Tomahawk cruise missiles, the new Zumwalt class guided missile destroyer, and the Hellfire-equipped Predator drone. Predator — for when you really want to reach out and touch someone.

Free Market Capitalism — because government never created a job.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)


Categories : Economy, National
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Mar
27

Friday Open Thread

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Harry Reid will not run for re-election. What else happened this week?


Categories : Open Thread
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“The lack of prosecutions, quite frankly, does not indicate a lack of evidence,” Richard Bowen told Bloomberg’s “Market Makers” last week. The former Citigroup Chief Underwriter for Consumer Lending has testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission but contends that evidence he provided never made it to the Department of Justice for further investigation and prosecution.

A lengthy article on Bowen in New Economic Perspectives outlines some of what the whistle blower might have provided. Furthermore, that the FCIC, DOJ, and the SEC might not (or might not want to) understand how the accounting control fraud “recipe” at the heart of the financial crisis actually worked. Once you explain how the “sure thing” at the heart of the recipe works, writes William Black, “jurors understand quickly that the officers were acting in a manner that makes no sense for honest bankers but is optimal for officers leading frauds.”

Matt Taibbi (citing Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism) looks at corruption in the Private Equity business, and the seeming indifference of Andrew Bowden, the SEC’s Director of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. A study “found that over half of the companies they looked at were guilty of ripping off their clients” using hidden fees. Bowden mentioned the discovery in a speech within the last year. Since then … crickets:

By this month, Bowden had achieved a complete 180, telling a conference of PE professionals that their business was just “the greatest.”

This is Bowden on March 5th, on a panel for PE and Venture Capital issues at Stanford. Check out how he pooh-poohs the fact that his SEC has seen “some misconduct,” before he goes on to grovel before his audience:

Is a slightly less worshipful attitude too much to ask from people charged with oversight? Taibbi asks.

Apparently, yes.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)


Categories : Corruption
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Mar
25

Your daily apocalypse

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Rush Limbaugh’s popularity during the Clinton administration prompted some restaurants to create “Rush Rooms” where you could listen to el Rushbo piped in over speakers while you washed down your burger and onion rings with iced tea. Two Minutes Hate that lasted for hours. A daily dose of outrage to get the juices flowing.

In an interview at Salon, historian Rick Perlstein looks at how other conservative hucksters such as Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck peddle outrage and miracle cures. The practice has its roots in evangelical culture and in Richard Viguerie’s mass marketing:

What he ended up mastering was a rhetorical style which is very familiar to viewers of Fox News, in which the apocalypse is right around the corner, and his innovation was to intimate that you could help stop it with a, y’know, $5, $10, $50 donation. His business model, as was very soon discovered, was taking 95 percent to sometimes even more than 100 percent of the take for his own purposes and profit and giving in only a minuscule percentage of the proceeds to the ostensible beneficiary, whether it was a fund that supposedly helped FBI officers injured in the line of duty or sending Bibles to Africa or supporting something like the National Conservative Political Action Committee.

Perlstein responds to Huckabee’s diabetes ad:

Let’s not forget 1988, when Pat Robertson won the New Hampshire primary. A lot of this stuff comes from Evangelical culture, which is a culture of witness, so the hawking of miracles is absolutely baked into the cake. Someone like Pat Robertson was followed by a figure like Pat Buchanan or any number of candidates in the last two or three Republican primary seasons, who make a lot of noise by doing decently well in early polls but then fade out once the seasoned pros take over and the money becomes preeminent.

If this historical pattern holds, Mike Huckabee, if he does well early, will flame out before the second or third inning but I see no impediment whatsoever for him to be disqualified by the conservative rank-and-file, simply because this stuff has been going on without much complaint since the 1970s. This is part of the hustle, right? If Huckabee can claim to have been victimized because of his activities, he can always claim it’s the conspiracy of the liberal elites… and then it’s off to the races.

Like Flannery O’Connor’s bible salesman, except selling reverse mortgages and diet pills via multilevel marketing.

“Aren’t you,” she murmured, “aren’t you good country people?”

What’s infuriating is that now everybody’s getting in on the daily apocalypse style. This DCCC appeal came in from Nancy Pelosi last night:

Thomas — I don’t have much time:

The House is voting TOMORROW on the Republican budget.

Paul Ryan, blah, blah, blah …

That’s why I’m coming to you. We need to raise $80,000 more before the vote tomorrow to show our Democratic strength.

Are you ready to fight back with me before it’s too late?

Hang on tight to your wooden legs.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)


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Remember me warning you about Thom’s Tholl Road? Coming soon to an interstate near you? Via Barry Summers. Introduced in the NC Senate:

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT to direct the department of transportation to study ways to fund improvements to interstate 95.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1. Study. – The Department of Transportation shall study ways to fund improvements to Interstate 95 from the South Carolina to Virginia borders, including the feasibility of establishing tolls and managed lanes.

It’s been “studied” since 2010 at least:

North Carolina tolling I-95 being studied

Here’s the group that was fighting it in 2012: http://notollsi95.com/

How long before they’re “studying” it for I-26?