The Ledes

Sunday, January 25, 2015.

Weather Channel: "New York City is under a blizzard warning and Boston is under a blizzard watch in anticipation of Winter Storm Juno, which will be a major snowstorm for the Northeast Monday through Tuesday night, lingering into Wednesday morning. Parts of the region will see blizzard conditions and more than 2 feet of snow."

Washington Post: "After five years of extreme austerity prescribed to treat an epidemic of debt, a battered but defiant Greece on Sunday emphatically rejected the medicine. With millions of voters turning out ... the country delivered a historic win to Syriza, a radical leftist party that could put Greece on a collision course with the rest of Europe. The expected showdown has already rattled Greek financial markets and may challenge the core principle behind Europe’s currency union."

The Wires

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President shared his plan, outlined in his State of the Union address earlier this week, to give hardworking families the support they need to make ends meet by focusing on policies that benefit the middle class and those working to reach the middle class":

The Ledes

Saturday, January 24, 2015.

Guardian: "The Pentagon and the White House are pushing back on reports that the Obama administration is pausing drone strikes and other counterterrorism operations in Yemen, amidst the abrupt collapse of a critical partner government. Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said both 'unilateral and partnered' operations conducted by the US in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) 'are not suspended'."

New York Times: "The Japanese government expressed outrage at an image released Saturday that appeared to show the decapitated body of one of two Japanese hostages captured by Islamic State militants, and President Obama condemned what he called a 'brutal murder.' The kidnappers had threatened to kill the men if a Friday deadline passed for a $200 million ransom from Japan. Hours before Mr. Obama’s statement, the United States and Japanese governments said that they were working to authenticate the video containing the image."

NBC News: "President Barack Obama and the First Lady will travel to Saudi Arabia to pay respects following the death of King Abdullah, the White House said early Saturday. Obama will cut short an official trip to India and will fly to Riyadh on Tuesday to meet the new King Salman, spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement. Vice President Joe Biden, who had been due to fly to Saudi Arabia, 'will remain in Washington' the statement said."

Goodbye, Mr. Cub. New York Times: "Ernie Banks, the greatest power-hitting shortstop of the 20th century and an unconquerable optimist whose sunny disposition never dimmed in 19 seasons with the perennially stumbling Chicago Cubs, died Friday. He was 83." Banks' Chicago Sun-Times obituary is here.

Public Service Announcement

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

White House Live Video
January 25

5:40 am ET: President Obama & Indian PM Modi deliver statements in New Delhi, India

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to


Oh, lawdy, what will they think up next?


Gawker: "Bill Clinton took repeated trips on the 'Lolita Express'—the private passenger jet owned by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — with an actress in softcore porn movies whose name appears in Epstein's address book under an entry for 'massages,' according to flight logbooks obtained by Gawker and published today for the first time. The logs also show that Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a 'potential co-conspirator' in his crimes."

New York Times: Director Martin "Scorsese’s partly finished documentary about [former president Bill] Clinton — which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run — has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said. Though parts of the film were shot over the last two years as Mr. Clinton made a philanthropic visit to Africa and elsewhere, the project is now indefinitely shelved, partly because Mr. Clinton insisted on more control over the interview questions and final version than Mr. Scorsese was willing to give, those people said."

Jessica Roy of New York: "Now that he's been released from jail after his kidnapping-conspiracy conviction was overturned, Gilberto Valle — the former NYPD officer dubbed 'Cannibal Cop' for allegedly planning to kidnap, kill, and eat women — is hungry for love on Unfortunately for him, the online dating service told us that they've deleted Valle's alleged profile, even though frankly he can't be any worse than the other dudes you might find on there.... Also, he listed cooking as a favorite hobby!"

CW: Not sure why this is news. As a disconsolate Windows 8 user, I heard this -- in re: Windows 8 -- two months ago. New York Times: "Microsoft said people using the two earlier versions of its operating system, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, would be able to update their computers to Windows 10 free for the first year after the new software is introduced."

Ellen's Gay Agenda. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link:

The French discover Ken & Barbie News Fox "News." For some reason the journalistes at "Le Petit Journal" don't find it credible. With English subtitles. Thanks to Creegr for the link:

New York Times: "A person close to the Barack Obama Foundation, which is overseeing plans for the [presidential] library, anonymously told local reporters last month that foundation officials had 'major concerns' with proposals from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Foundation officials were said to be alarmed that the University of Chicago does not yet control the land where the university wants to build the library. To the shock and horror of residents here, that left Columbia University in New York, where Mr. Obama received his undergraduate degree, as the apparent front-runner. And suddenly a fait accompli has become an open question."

Washington Post: Two treasure hunters may have found the Griffin, a ship that disappeared in the Great Lakes in mid-1679.

And the Winner Is ... A White Person! Tatiana Siegel of the Hollywood Reporter: "For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses. Among the notable snubs was David Oyelowo, who received praise for his turn as the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma." ...

... Scott Mendelson of Forbes: "... the most egregious omission is the sadly not-entirely-surprising absence of Selma’s Ava DuVernay from the five contenders nominated for Best Director.... She deserved a nomination." ...

... Steve M.: Given the sorry state of most of Hollywood's output -- the CGI roman-numeral blockbusters and comedies about farting boy-men, greenlighted mostly by white males -- and given the near-total freeze-out of women in directorial roles (or in most acting roles beyond male stars' arm candy), I guess I know the answer. And it's pathetic."

... Todd VanDerWerff of Vox: "Selma was snubbed because the average Oscar voter is a 63-year-old white man. VanDerWerff also lists other factors he thinks worked against Selma.

... CW: I don't think I linked to this essay by Chris Rock, published in the Hollywood Reporter last month. Subject: The movie biz is "a white industry." I guess so.

Dick Poop. USA Today: "Dick Pope..., the cinematographer for Mr. Turner, made international news after Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science President Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced his name during the nominations, calling him 'Dick Poop.'"

Here's the L.A. Times story covering the Oscar nominations.

New York Times: "Amazon announced on Tuesday that it had signed [Woody] Allen to write and direct his first television series. The company said it had ordered a full season of half-hour shows, as yet untitled, which will make their debut on the service next year. It provided few other details."

Jareen Imam of CNN: "Jeweler Tiffany & Co., for the first time, is featuring a gay couple in an ad campaign. The new 'Will You?' campaign, shot by fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, features seven scenes of couples. One in particular is drawing widespread praise for showing a same-sex couple. The pair, shown sitting on a stoop in New York City, are a couple in real life, Tiffany spokeswoman Linda Buckley said."

Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times on the novels of Robert Stone. Stone died January 10.

Gawker: Apparently Malia Obama -- or someone who looks exactly like her -- has (or borrowed) a T-shirt featuring a hip-hop collective called Pro Era. A teenager into contemporary music!: this is for some reason big Internets news. CW: Old codger that I am, I thought the shirt signified Pro-ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). Now, that would be exceptionally cool.

Washington Post: "In a move that could draw a mass exodus from cable, Dish Network’s Sling TV said it will soon launch a stand-alone streaming service that includes ESPN and other network channels without being tied to a paid TV service."

Anne Karpf, in a New York Times op-ed on "the liberation of growing old": "Age resistance is a futile kind of life resistance: We can’t live outside time, we begin to age the moment we’re born. But the emerging age-acceptance movement neither decries nor denies the aging process. It recognizes that one can remain vital and present, engaged and curious, indeed continue to grow, until one’s dying breath. Then we need only echo the wish of the British psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott: 'May I be alive when I die.'”

Novelist Teddy Wayne, in a New York Times op-ed, laments the days when "we used to receive media cyclically.... Now, with just about every airing of a much greater number of shows obtainable at any moment, there is no excuse for missing one — and, therefore, a more urgent compulsion to catch up, in case you missed it." Thanks to MAG for the link. ...

... CW: This seems a rather silly complaint coming from a person whose chosen art form is available to anyone any time, thru the ages. On-demand media make film, broadcast television & other visual (& audio) events as available as are nonfiction books & novels. It is true that releasing viewers from the strictures of OTO broadcasts & limited-run films may take away some of the sharing of those events with family & friends, but that has been -- until quite recently -- a rather forced sharing, dictated by media suits. And there is nothing stopping people today from having media parties to share their favorite teevee shows or movies.

Bill Moyers announces his retirement. And he means it this time. ...

... Reality Chex contributor Kate Madison on Bill Moyers. (Third comment in the thread.) ...

... Peter Dreier in Common Dreams: "... the end of Moyers' regular presence on television will leave a huge hole in America's broadcast landscape.... No other program has journalistic breadth and depth, as well as the progressive viewpoint, that Moyers' show has provided views for over four decades. Will PBS -- which has been under increasing pressure from Congress and funders to move to the right -- even try to fill that gap?" ...

... ** Paul Farhi of the Washington Post on Moyers' career at PBS: "His work has won more than three dozen Emmys — he doesn’t know the precise number — and nine Peabody awards.... His unalloyed liberalism (“I find it very hard to have intelligent conversations with people on the right wing,” he once said) has made him, to conservatives, a living totem of the news media’s alleged leftward bias, and especially public broadcasting’s." ...

... Here's the final broadcast. If you don't watch it, you may want to read the transcript, especially Moyers' "last words":

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Anyone with a cheap computer can become a columnist or a pundit. -- Dennis Ryerson, Editor, Indianapolis Star

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Congressional, Gubernatorial Races

Congressional Races

By State, in Alpha Order

NBC projects that Democrats retain control of the Senate. At noon Wednesday, Democrats now have 52 seats in the Senate. The North Dakota Senate seat, where Democrat Heidi Heitkamp is leading, is the only Senate contest that the networks or the AP haven't called.

     ... Update: the AP has called the North Dakota race for Heidi Heitkamp, bringing the total number of Democratic Senators to 53, with two Independents, one of whom is Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who causes with the Democrats; the other is Senator-Elect Angus King of Maine, who has been cagey about his plans.

NBC projects that Republicans will retain the House. As of noon Wednesday, Democrats have picked up 5 seats. Currently AP-confirmed totals are Republicans 232, Democrats 191.

Arizona Senate: Rep. Jeff Flake (R) defeats Democrat Dr. Richard Carmona to fill the seat vacated by Sen. John Kyl (R). Another shame.

California Senate: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) retains her seat.

Connecticut Senate: NBC calls the race for Rep. Chris Murphy (D) in what was expected to be a close race against the self-funded Wrestling Lady Linda McMahon (R).

Delaware Senate: Sen. Tom Carper (D) retains his seat.

Florida Senate: Miami Herald: "Democrat Bill Nelson strolled easily into reelection for a third term Tuesday, demolishing Republican challenger Connie Mack IV by a wide margin in a bitterly fought and expensive contest. Nelson, 70, will return to Washington as the only Democrat in statewide office in Florida...."

Read more here:

Florida House: Orlando Sentinel: "Look out, Congress. Alan Grayson is coming back. The fiery Orlando Democrat won a double-digit victory on Tuesday night, besting Republican Todd Long in Florida's newly created 9th Congressional District... His victory was all but assured once the Aug. 14 primary was over. The 9th Congressional District, which includes Osceola County and parts of Orange and Polk, is heavily Democratic, and Grayson raised $3.5 million in campaign funds to Long's $91,000.... Grayson also drew one of the weaker candidates in the Republican field — in part because he spent more than $110,000 in the GOP primary to help sink John Quiñones, the Hispanic chair of the Osceola County Commission."

Florida House: Newsweek: "One of Congress's top Islamophobes, Republican Rep. Allen West, lost his reelection bid to Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy early this morning. With 100 percent of votes in from South Florida's 18th District, Murphy edged out the Tea Party freshman West by less than 2,500 votes, despite lopsided fundraising. West spent more than $17 million to Murphy's $3.6 million, and both candidates poured money into ads that made the race one of the country's nastiest." ...

     ... Dan Amira of New York: "With 100 percent of precincts reporting, but with some provisional and absentee ballots yet to be counted, West trails political newcomer Patrick Murphy by .74 percent, or 2,456 votes. Murphy's campaign has declared victory, while West has yet to concede and is demanding a recount in one county which he claims has shown 'hostility and demonstrated incompetence.' However, in Florida, recounts are triggered when the winning margin is .5 percent or less, not when a candidate wants one really bad." (CW Note: West ran in a nice, new GOP-friendly district. During redistricting, the Florida Republican legislature attempted to make West's district Republican-safe.)

Hawaii Senate: Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) defeats former Gov. Linda Lingle (R).

Illinois House: the wonderful Tammy Duckworth (D) defeats the hideous Joe Walsh (RTP).

Indiana Senate: Indianapolis Star: "Democrat Joe Donnelly used a message of bipartisanship to earn an unlikely victory amid a Republican tide Tuesday night -- a win also aided by campaign comments by his opponent, Richard Mourdock, that troubled some voters. Donnelly now must try to ... hold onto a seat that Republicans will be eager to take back in six years. His win helped Democrats retain their majority Tuesday might, and he received a congratulatory call from former President Bill Clinton."

Maine Senate: NBC calls it for Angus King, an independent who will probably caucus with the Democrats & favors ObamaCare.

Maryland Senate: the AP calls the race for Sen. Ben Cardin (D).

Massachusetts Senate: Boston Globe: "Elizabeth Ann Warren, a fierce consumer advocate who galvanized liberals across the nation, won a decisive victory over Senator Scott Brown Tuesday, avenging the Democratic Party’s bitter loss ­at the hands of Brown in 2010, an upset that jolted the national political landscape. Buoyed by a strong showing in urban strongholds and liberal suburbs, Warren made history: She will become the first woman to represent Massachusetts in the US Senate.... With 91 percent of the precincts reporting, Warren led Brown by 8 percentage points, 54 percent to 46 percent."

Michigan Senate: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) retains her seat.

Minnesota House: Bummer. Washington Post: "Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), founder of the Tea Party Caucus and an unsuccessful candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, hung on to her House seat by narrowly defeating challenger Jim Graves."

Minnesota Senate: Sen. Amy Kobuchar (D) retains her seat.

Mississippi Senate: Sen. Roger Wicker (R) retains his seat.

Missouri Senate: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) beats Rep. Todd Akin (RTP) & retains her seat.

NEW. Montana Senate: Sen. Jon Tester (D) retains his seat.

Nebraska Senate: Republican Deb Fischer bests former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey (D). This is a pick-up for Republicans; the seat is currently held by ConservaDem Ben Nelson.

New Hampshire: All of the leadership in New Hampshire -- Governor, U.S. Senators, Congressmembers -- are women. Gov.-Elect Hassan is the only female governor in the country now. I believe in 2008, the New Hampshire state senate became majority women. There's something great about New Hampshire.

New Jersey Senate: Sen. Bob Menendez (D) retains his seat.

New Mexico Senate: Rep. Martin Heirich (D) wins seat to replace Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingamin.

New York Senate: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) retains her seat.

NEW. North Dakota Senate: on Wednesday afternoon, the AP finally called North Dakota for Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat.

Ohio Senate: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) retains his seat. Whew!

Oregon Senate: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) retains her seat.

Pennsylvania Senate: NBC projects Sen. Bob Casey (D) as the winner.

Rhode Island Senate: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) retains his seat.

Tennessee Senate: NBC calls the race for Sen. Bob Corker (R).

Texas Senate: Republican Tea Partier Ted Cruz is the projected winner.

Utah Senate: Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch retains his seat.

Vermont Senate: the AP has called the Vermont Senate race for Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. CW: I'm awfully happy Bernie is the first Senate call of the night.

Virginia Senate: Washington Post: "Timothy M. Kaine defeated George Allen in Virginia’s Senate race Tuesday night, the climax of an intensely watched matchup that cost more than $80 million."

West Virginia Senate: NBC has called the WVA Senate race for Sen. Joe Manchin, a so-called Democrat who often votes with Republicans.

Wisconsin Senate: Wisconsin State Journal: "U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, became the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate late Tuesday. Baldwin beat longtime former Republican Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson after a bruising campaign that included tens of millions of dollars in negative ads. Baldwin also is the first woman elected to the Senate from Wisconsin."

Wyoming Senate: Sen. John Barrasso (R) retains his seat.


Governors' Races

By State, in Alpha Order

Indiana: horrible Rep. Mike Pence (RTP) takes the governorship. Bad choice, Hoosiers.

New Hampshire: Concord Monitor: "Maggie Hassan will become the 81st governor of New Hampshire after defeating Republican Ovide Lamontagne yesterday, keeping the corner office in Democratic hands as Gov. John Lynch steps down after an unprecedented four terms."

North Carolina: Republican Pat McCrory wins an open seat, vacated by Democrat Beverly Purdue.

North Dakota: Gov. John Dalyrymple (R) retains his seat.

Vermont: Peter Shumlin (D) wins governorship.

Utah: Gov. Gary Herbert (R) retains his seat.


The Commentariat -- Nov. 6, 2012

Returns of the Day

Byron Wolf of ABC News: "The small hamlet of Dixville Notch in New Hampshire ... votes right at midnight.... This year ten voters ... split evenly -- five votes apiece -- for President Obama and ... Mitt Romney.... The other New Hampshire town with midnight voting -- the slightly more populous (32 voters) Hart's Location -- swung towards Obama tonight -- 23 Obama, 9 Romney."

Presidential Race

Nate Silver: "If President Obama wins re-election on Tuesday, the historical memory of the race might turn on the role played by Hurricane Sandy. But while the storm and the response to it may account for some of Mr. Obama's gains, they do not reflect the whole story.... Mr. Obama had already been rebounding in the polls, slowly but steadily, from his lows in early October -- in contrast to a common narrative in the news media that contended, without much evidence, that Mr. Romney still had the momentum in the race. Moreover, there are any number of alternatives to explain Mr. Obama's gains before and after the storm hit." Thanks to a reader for the graphic, which was posted on Daily Kos & elsewhere.... we are at the point where the polling averages in each state are pretty much locked in -- and it is mostly a question of whether the actual results will approximate them, in which case Mr. Obama should claim enough electoral votes between Ohio and other states to win another term." Silver gives Obama a 92 percent chance of winning, which leaves Rmoney with 8 percent odds. Thanks to a reader for the graphic, which appeared on Daily Kos & elsewhere. ...

     ... Update: the latest from Silver: it's Barack-o-Mentum.

... NEW. Nate Cohn of The New Republic: "Obama leads by at least 3 points with 49 percent of the vote in the states won twice by Kerry and Gore, plus New Mexico, Nevada, and Ohio. These states are worth 272 electoral votes [270 needed to win], and with the exception of a stray poll in Michigan, Romney doesn't lead in a single non-partisan survey in any of those states."

... Jon Cohen, et al., of the Washington Post: "Heading into Election Day, likely voters divide 50 percent for President Obama and 47 percent for ... Mitt Romney, according to the latest, final weekend release of the Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll." ...

... NEW. David Atkins of Hullabaloo immortalizes the GOP predictions of the day, all of which have Romney winning in an Electoral College landslide.

President Obama's last campaign rally, or as Michelle Obama put it, the "final event of my husband's final campaign":

E. J. Dionne: "... Obama is fighting a Republican Party determined to bring the Gilded Age back and undo the achievements of a century. And so, beneath the attacks, the counterattacks, and the billions invested by small numbers of the very rich to sway the undecided, we face a choice on Tuesday that is worthy of a great democracy. My hunch is that the country will not go backward, because that's not what Americans do."

CW: I don't agree with some of the prognosticating in Jayne Mayer's post in the New Yorker on the relative rarity of second-term presidents, but there is some content worth reading, especially this: "Geraldine Ferraro, Walter Mondale's Vice-Presidential running mate in 1984, slugged Washington super lawyer Bob Barnett after her debate preparation."

For you football fans, BuzzFeed has videos of Obama & Romney talking sports (or in Romney's case, "sport") & football on last night's "Monday Night Football."

"Tell Mitt Romney Climate Change Isn't a Joke": This Web ad, produced by Forecast the Facts, has had 630,000+ hits. The group is not endorsing President Obama:

At least Montgomery Burns is totally behind Romney, even if Seamus imcaninators aren't:

Prof. Kevin Kruse in a New York Times op-ed: "... the Romney campaign's ... fundamental disdain for facts is something wholly new.... Win or lose, the Romney campaign has placed a big and historic bet on the proposition that facts can be ignored, more or less, with impunity." Kruse identifies four factors that have encouraged fact-abuse.

The Word According to Andy Borowitz

We're strongly opposed to FEMA and health care, but basically O.K. with rape. -- Official Republican Party Closing Argument ...

... Our argument couldn't be simpler: when God wants to create a hurricane or make a woman pregnant, big government should get out of the way. -- Reince Priebus, Republican party chair, elaborating

Zachary Roth of NBC News: aw, shucks. Chris Christie & Mitt Romney are having a little spat on election eve.

"A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow":

Now that the campaign is (mostly) over, I can reveal what Barack Obama really thinks:

Congressional Races

Eight Democratic Congressmen Who Are Class-A Jerks. A lovely slideshow by Katie McDounough of Salon. One of them, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, is running for Senate against Dick Moredick, the pregnancy-by-rape-&-divine-will guy. Their platforms, however, are pretty much the same.

Voting Problems

Chicago Tribune: "The Chicago elections website was non-functioning most of the day today, adding to the confusion among voters who didn't realize their polling sites had changed. The Chicago Board of Elections website, which voters could use to check where to vote, went down early Tuesday morning. It was functioning by about 4:00 this afternoon."

New Jersey. "In response to widespread reports that voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy haven't received their email and fax ballots on Election Day, the state has extended the deadline for voters to return those ballots to county clerks to 8 p.m. Friday."

Florida. No Electioneering or Engineering Here. Boca News Now: poll workers in Boca Raton blocked a woman wearing an M.I.T. tee-shirt from entering the polling place because they thought she was wearing a Romney campaign shirt. The college lady was eventually allowed to vote when some poll worker figured out how to spell "Mitt."

Illinois. CW: This is a photo of the ballot a poll worker gave a voter at a South Lake Shore Drive Chicago polling place this morning. The voter, Brittney Edwards, took the photos. I am liking the choices for Cultural Commissioner, even if they are dead. Read the Chicago Tribune story:

Pennsylvania. Charles Pierce has more on the Pennsylvania poll voter obstructionists. From a news report: "An Allegheny County judge issued an order to halt electioneering outside a polling location in Homestead. County officials received a complaint shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday that Republicans outside a polling location on Maple Street in Homestead were stopping people outside the polls and asking for identification." Pierce notes that these kinds of reports have sent Chuck Todd "to the fainting couch."

New York & New Jersey. David Halbfinger, et al., of the New York Times: "People whose lives were upended by Hurricane Sandy joined other voters on Tuesday to cast ballots after elected officials in New York and New Jersey scrambled to relocate scores of polling places that had become unusable because of power failures, flooding or evacuations."

Pennslyvania. Dan Froomkin reports that Pennsylvania poll workers are turning away voters without IDs even though a court has ruled that IDs are not required in Pennsylvania for this election.

Rhode Island. AP: "Rhode Islanders were facing long lines and, in at least two polling places, the wrong ballots as they began voting Tuesday in a hotly contested congressional race and on whether to allow the state's two slots parlors to turn into full-fledged casinos."

New Jersey. Ryan Reilly of TPM: "Superstorm Sandy is having a devastating effect on voting in New Jersey, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law executive director Barbara Arnwine told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday morning. Voters were being asked for I.D. even though the state has no law requiring it, voting locations opened late and some locations didn't have ballots, she said. 'In a word, there's just one word to describe the experience in New Jersey, and that is catastrophe,' Arnwine said."

     ... Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: "New Jersey's last-minute offer of email voting to displaced residents was greeted by concern by security experts, who warn that email offers a fast track to voter fraud. But the system may have another problem as well: County election administrators are, according to anecdotal reports, simply not responding to all requests for ballots. In two major counties, the email address advertised on the website of the county clerk is not even accepting email."

Voter Suppression
"A National Embarrassment"

Jason Sattler of the National Memo: "Democratic strategist Bob Shrum calls the several hours some voters are spending in line waiting for their right to vote a 'poll tax,' harkening to a Jim Crow-era restriction used to keep African-Americans from voting. Poll taxes were specifically banned by the 24th Amendment."

Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker on whether or not there is a Constitutional right to vote.

NEW. AP: an Ohio judge threw out a lawsuit claiming that "experimental" software recently placed on Ohio's vote-tabulating machines -- could alter vote counts. CW: Um, they will be using flash drives to transfer vote-count data. No room for data manipulation there. Holy shit! ...

... AND Mark Warren of Esquire: Ohio Gov. & former Fox "News" guy John Kasich (R) says Romney will win Ohio by 50,000 votes. CW: I wonder if Kasich is the guy holding the flash drive.

NEW. Joseph of Plunderbund: Tea Party-backed "election observers" of True the Vote, who planned to concentrate their "observations" on heavily-African American voting districts in Ohio, "will not be allowed in Franklin County, Ohio, polling locations because the local elections board discovered that True the Vote had forged some signatures on their qualifying forms. ...

     ... Update: The Columbus Dispatch has the story now.

Libertarian Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic: "Hours-long election lines stretching many city blocks are a national embarrassment. And those responsible should be condemned across ideological lines. In Florida and Ohio, state officials arranged things such that citizens had to stand in line for hours to cast their ballot. Asked to extend early voting so that casting a ballot might be a bit less burdensome, they refused. It's an outrage."

NEW. Tim Padgett of Time: Gov. Rick "Scott and the Florida GOP can hand us all the disingenuous reasons they want for reducing early-voting days, including their favorite canard: cracking down on voter fraud. But their real impetus was to reduce Democratic turnout, because Democrats tend to do more early voting than Republicans -- and because they gave Obama a 9-point lead among early in-person voters in 2008.... [Although Scott, et al., have succeeded in bringing early voting down from the 2008 level by almost 10 percent,] Democratic voters, who outnumbered Republicans 46% to 36% in early in-person voting this year, seem to have widened their 2008 lead."

NEW. SEIU: "After receiving information indicating that the Pennsylvania Republican Party and the Pittsburgh Tea Party may be systematically sending poll watchers to predominantly African American precincts in Pittsburgh, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Common Cause, The Advancement Project, The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the ACLU, together with a number of local community groups, sent a letter to Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez, who is responsible for enforcing the Voting Rights Act, asking that the Justice Department 'make every effort to ensure that voters at these targeted locations are able to cast their ballots freely and fairly' and also to ask the Pennsylvania Republican Party about the source of its lists and the basis of its targeting."

Dan Froomkin has an overview of ongoing voter suppression efforts.

What a Difference a State Makes. David Halbfinger, et al., of the New York Times: "Elected officials in New York and New Jersey scrambled Monday to enable displaced citizens to vote in the election on Tuesday, relocating scores of coastal polling places that had become unusable because of power failures, flooding or evacuations. New Jersey and New York both said they would allow voters uprooted by Hurricane Sandy to cast provisional ballots anywhere in their states."

Laboratories of Democracy, Etc.

Abby Rapoport of American Prospect highlights a few if the low lights running for re-election in state legislatures.

Frank Bruni: same-sex marriage opponents trot out the same tired, discredited arguments -- the gays are recruiting your kids, and other fear-mongering oldies. ...

... Josh Voorhees of Slate has some polling on how the gay marriage ballot initiatives may fare.


The Home Front

Matt Glassman has some wise & foolish advice for how to spend today -- and tonight. Via Greg Sargent. Do feel free to contribute you own advice, voting experience, whatever.

News Lede

AP: "Gunmen shot and killed the brother of Syria's parliament speaker as he drove to work in the capital Damascus on Tuesday, the state-run news agency reported on Tuesday. Mohammed Osama Laham, brother of Parliament Speaker Jihad Laham, was killed in the Damascus neighborhood of Midan...." CW: excuse me, their names are Osama & Jihad??? I am thinking these are not the Pro-America Laham Brothers.


The Real America Is Not Pro-America

If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000. A broad mandate this is not. -- Jim Vandehei & Mike Allen of Politico

Think about that. Josh Marshall of TPM did. He helpfully translates the Politico writers' meaning into plain English: "Obama’s winning but not with the best votes. I mean really, if you can’t win with a broad cross-section of white people, can you really be said to represent the country? Really."

So get this, people. If you're Hispanic, African-American, a single woman anywhere or a highly-educated urban white, you are not a full-fledged citizen. Maybe, you know, your vote shouldn't  count as much as a white person's vote. Perhaps 3/5ths of a vote is all you deserve. Surely, the belief that Vandehei and Allen toss out helps explain why Republican leaders feel comfortable and justified in suppressing the votes of blacks, Hispanics, students and urban voters.

The Politico writers are simply expressing, in a slightly different way, what Sarah Palin meant in 2008 when she told (white) North Carolinians they lived in "the real America" and the "pro-America areas of this great nation."

There is a particular irony to this line of thinking which anyone who has lived in the American South or in parts of the West knows. White Southerners are Southerners first and Americans second. Many of them are still fighting the Civil War. They resent the North, and they express this resentment in their loathing of the federal government. A hundred and fifty years after the Civil War, the federal government is still a powerful agent of suppression. It wasn't just the war, it wasn't just Reconstruction; it was Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Acts, the Voting Rights Acts, Title IX. It's "liberal judges," it's the EEOC, it's the Clean Air Act, it's OSHA, it's Lilly Ledbetter, it's ObamaCare. The South still believes in states' rights; Southerners and Westerners are Tenthers because they are not pro-America. They want their independence. That standard Republican line, "We don't want Washington telling us ... (fill in the blank)" resonates with these people.

Racism, xenophobia, Tentherism, gun obsession, anti-abortion activism -- and sexism in general, rumblings about secession -- are all symptoms, not causes, of "Real" America's hatred of the United States of America. These pathologies express a sense of powerlessness and a core belief that the federal government, in particular, is sapping white American men of their God-given right to do whatever they want. The Tea Party reveres Early America because in those times, certain men of certain European stock had a monopoly on power. (It never occurs to the Tea Partiers, of course, that the majority of them do not come from that same stock. They assume, wrongly, that they have the right stuff. Why women belong to the Tea Party baffles me; it might be ignorance of history [see Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann], it might be Stockholm Syndrome.)

The only part of the federal government these "Real" Americans support is the military. Why that is should be obvious: the purpose of the military, in their eyes, is to gain dominion over all of the second-class citizens of the world; that is, Anybody But Us.

Some will see another irony in "Real" Americans' hatred of the federal government: that is that red states, generally, get more back from the federal government than they put into it, something New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie alluded to last week. This really is not so ironic when you look at it from the point of view of a Real American: (1) I deserve it, and (2) I resent it. There's a general belief that people are grateful for favors. A lot of us are. But that gratitude often turns into resentment. We "owe" our benefactor. That gives him a certain power over us. Add to that the likelihood that the benefactor was more powerful in the first place: he was able to do a favor because he had some power we didn't have. In fact, often he continues to exert that power. Yeah, I was glad the boss hired me, but now he's making me jump through hoops. Yeah, I was glad the bank gave me a loan that I barely qualified for; now I'm paying usurious interest. Yeah, the government gave me food stamps when I was out of a job; now that I'm back at work they're taxing the hell out of me.

The Republican party is awfully good at tapping into that resentment, and they're good at it because the party leaders share it. Those whom they don't resent, they despise. They are all about power, power they believe they deserve. When the Romneys say its "their turn," they believe it. They resent the 47 percent, and they don't think "those people" -- those irresponsible moochers -- should have equal rights. "Those people" haven't done their fair share. (Never mind that this isn't necessarily true.) When Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen imply some are more equal than others, they believe that so deeply that it doesn't occur to them not to express it as fact. The Democratic coalition -- they say -- simply does not represent Real America. So it is illegitimate.

This is birtherism writ large. During his first term, the right tried to prove President Obama was not an American. (Oddly, they never tried to prove his mother was not an American. Whether or not Obama was born in Kenya, he would still qualify for the presidency as long as he had an American parent.) This was a necessary sideshow because a lot of Real Americans voted for Obama. In this election, as the Politico writers suggest, many of those former Obama-backing Real Americans will vote for Mitt Romney. This allows Republicans to delegitimize a second Obama term in different ways. One of course will be a claim that the election was rigged. If the election is as close as polls suggest, expect voter fraud suits to pop up almost as fast as conspiracy theories. But the other way to delegitimize the election is already here, perfectly captured by Vandehei & Allen: Obama voters are illegitimate.

So, to those of us who vote for Obama, here's the word: We are all Kenyans now.



The Commentariat -- Nov. 5, 2012

Presidential Race

Felicia Sonmez, et al., of the Washington Post: "On Monday, in the final hours of their 17-month, nearly $3 billion marathon, the two candidates and their running mates are scheduled to hold 14 events across eight states. For Republican challenger Mitt Romney, this last full day of campaigning is aimed at achieving what he has seemingly been unable to do over the first 522 days: overcome President Obama's razor-thin but steady leads in the states where the election will be decided. On Sunday, it appeared that Romney's task was getting a little harder."

Michael Shear of the New York Times on what the candidates did on the longest day. ...

... Here's a clip of President Obama speaking in Concord, New Hampshire:

... AND here's the Hon. Paul Ryan to remind us all that we have a Kenyan Muslim president. Shushannah Walshe of ABC News: "Paul Ryan squeezed in time on a four-stop, five-state day for a conference call with evangelical voters Sunday evening, issuing a warning about a second Obama term saying the president is putting the country on a 'dangerous path' that compromises 'Judeo-Christian, Western civilization values.' Evangelical leader Ralph Reed's influential group, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, hosted the call and Reed said 'tens of thousands' of Evangelical Christians were listening in." ...

... Julie Pace of the AP: "President Barack Obama's campaign is mobilizing a massive get-out-the-vote effort aimed at carrying the Democrat to victory, as Republican Mitt Romney makes a late play for votes in Democratic-leaning Pennsylvania. Obama was closing out the campaign with an apparent edge in some key battleground states, including Ohio. But both campaigns were predicting wins in Tuesday's election." ...

... David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "Aboard Air Force One from Concord, Mass., to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Obama called Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts." ...

... "Obama Should Resign!" Josh Voorhees of Slate: Meanwhile, with Chris Christie sidelined by his bromance with Barack, Mitt Romney has found a new attack dog in Rudy Nineleven Giuliani.

Felicia Sonmez & David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: "A new poll from the Pew Research Center found Obama with a three-point lead over Romney nationwide. Less than a week earlier, the same poll had the two candidates tied at 47 percent. But, by Sunday, Obama was ahead, 48 percent to 45 percent." (The multi-page feature at the WashPo still isn't working.) ...

... Reuters has the candidates in a dead heat: Obama 48, Romney 47. The poll also shows Obama with slim leads or ties in battleground states. ...

... Nancy Cordes of CBS News: "... as early voting figures pour in from half a dozen crucial battleground states, Obama campaign officials are exuding increasing confidence, even for them."

... Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun: "It would be very difficult for Obama to lose Nevada, especially because I think more than two-thirds of the vote is in, so whatever turnout advantage the GOP has on Tuesday won't be enough. Obama, 50 percent; Romney, 46 percent; others and 'none of the above,' 4 percent."

... Think Nate Silver is an Obama supporter? Think again:

... Nate Silver: "It appears that President Obama is likely to go into Election Day with a very modest lead in the average of national polls." There Silver goes again, padding the numbers of the candidate who would be, at best, his third choice for president. What is a conspiracy theorist to do? ...

... Maggie Haberman & Emily Schultheis of Politico: "If [Romney pollster Neil] Newhouse is right, the majority of public pollsters will have egg on their faces."

Lizette Alvarez of the New York Times: "... the Florida Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit early Sunday to force the state government to extend early voting hours in South Florida." Read the whole post. What a mess! ...

... CW: here's what I'm talkin' about. Judd Legum of Think Progress: "Last night, voters in Miami-Dade County, [Florida,] were forced to wait in line up to six hours to vote. In some precincts voters who arrived at 7PM were not able to cast their ballots until 1AM. In response, Republican-affiliated election officials in Miami-Dade have effectively extended early voting from 1PM to 5PM today by allowing 'in-person' absentee voting. But this accommodation will only be available in a single location in the most Republican area of the county." (Italics mine.)

... Andre Tartar of New York: "'Let the people vote' former Florida governor -- and former Republican -- Charlie Crist tweeted, presumably to current governor Rick Scott, who ignored pleas from Democrats and even members of his own party to extend the early voting window." ...

... Adam Estes Clark of the Atlantic has a good post on the Florida early voting fiasco, too. One thing: the three counties where the mess is worst comprise 32 percent of all the state's Democratic voters. ...

... More from Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post. ...

... Here's the Miami Herald story on "The Debacle in Doral."

Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times: "In labor's last-minute campaign efforts, canvassers in Eau Claire, Kenosha, La Crosse, Racine, Green Bay and other [Wisconsin] communities carried the same message: Do not forget to vote, and when you do, cast ballots for President Obama and Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic candidate for senator."

Monica Davey & Michael Wines of the New York Times on the get-out-the-vote efforts in Ohio.

A Fox Detroit poll, reported Sunday, shows Romney & Obama in a dead heat in Michigan. CW: Nate Silver has Obama with a 98.8% chance of winning Michigan. (Click on Michigan on the map on the right side of the page.)

Bill Clinton writes an op-ed for the Des Moines Register, countering the paper's endorsement of Rmoney. Paul Ryan endorses himself in the same paper.

Mark Leibovich of the New York Times on Bill Clinton's latest resurrection: "Whoever wins Tuesday, the 2012 campaign has solidified (or restored) Mr. Clinton's status as the hardest-working man in a game he loves and plays like no one else."

Paul Krugman expands on an earlier blogpost about Republican incompetence & Democratic competence to handle disaster relief: "For the response to Sandy, like the success of the auto bailout, is a demonstration that Mr. Obama's philosophy of government -- which holds that the government can and should provide crucial aid in times of crisis -- works. And conversely, the contrast between Sandy and Katrina demonstrates that leaders who hold government in contempt cannot provide that aid when it is needed." ...

... CW: I just watched "Seal Team 6." I hope a lot of undecided voters did, too. It certainly reinforces Krugman's point. Maybe Romney has it on the TiVo for playback Wednesday when we can all hope he has nothing else to do.

** David Corn of Mother Jones: "... the 2012 campaign has been profoundly shaped by Romney's willingness to obfuscate and dissemble far beyond the admittedly low norm of modern American politics.... The Republican presidential candidate built much of his campaign on basic untruths about the president. Romney blasted Obama for breaking a 'promise' to keep unemployment below 8 percent. He claimed the president was 'apologizing for America abroad.' He accused Obama of adding 'nearly as much debt as all the previous presidents combined' and of cutting $500 million from Medicare. None of this was true. (See here, here, here, and here.) ... As significant as Tuesday's outcome will be for this much-divided nation in determining future policies regarding the economy, present and future wars, abortion rights, climate change, the social safety net, and much more, it will also provide an answer to a critical bottom-line question: In politics, does reality matter?"

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: "The gap between what Obama and Romney believe -- and between what each man proposes to do -- is larger than it has been for any election I can remember." CW: If you're not happy about voting for Obama, read Cohn on "The Most Important Election of Our Lives."

Peter Wallsten & Jason Horowitz of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney has largely avoided discussing the details of his Mormon faith throughout this year's presidential race.... But the revival this week of a testy 2007 interview caught on video offers a reminder of the struggles Romney has confronted as a politician wary of being defined, or confined, by his faith. The video, which has become an Internet sensation in the closing days of his campaign..., shows Romney sparring off-air with an Iowa radio talk show host over the tenets and beliefs of Mormonism -- including a discussion of abortion and the second coming of Jesus Christ -- and scolding the interviewer for bringing it up." ...

... Here's the video. It has almost a million-&-a-half hits. When I looked at it the other day -- after a reader called it to my attention -- it had about half that number of hits. Romney does seem somewhat unglued:

Dave Weigel of Slate: Obama's super PAC ads are better than Romney's super PAC ads. CW: wonder if that's because billionaires & multimillionaires like Karl Rove aren't all that good at relating to real people. They figure it's just as good to plug in an actress pretending to be a Real Housewife of White America & saying she's worried about scary Republican talking points. ...

... Byron Tau of Politico: "The Obama campaign has purchased banner ad space at almost twenty national and local websites on the eve of Tuesday's election.... The campaign has also targeted swing state newspaper websites and Latino-specific sites."

Remember Seamus. Kerry Lauerman, writing in Salon, asks animal experts how the Romneys' dog felt about his infamous trip to Canada in a crate atop the family station wagon. The story also includes details about the Life of Seamus which I didn't know: like, for some odd reason, he ran away from home a lot.

Will Farrell will do anything to get you to vote -- for Obama:

Congressional Races

Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM: the campaign of Connecticut's U.S. Senate GOP candidate Linda Wrestling Lady McMahon has been distributing "doorhangers that Democrats say they've discovered in minority neighborhoods this weekend ... [which read] 'Vote Barack Obama For President and Vote Linda McMahon For U.S. Senate.' ... It's a surprising suggestion from a Republican who, along with her husband, has given $150,000 to help make Romney the next president of the United States." A spokesperson for McMahon "alleged that [Democratic candidate Chris] Murphy's campaign 'is telling people that it's illegal to split their ticket,' and that was the reason for the McMahon doorhangers. The Murphy campaign called the claim 'ridiculous' and 'desperate.'" Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link. Obama cut this ad for Murphy:

Some brief testimonials for Elizabeth Warren:

Other Stuff

What Did He Know & When Did He Know It? Matthew Purdy of the New York Times examines the role of former BBC chief Mark Thompson in squelching the BBC's Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal. Thompson will become New York Times CEO next Monday.

News Ledes

New York Times: "The gas shortage that has strained the New York region seemed to ease on Monday as lines at many pumps shrank, more gas stations reopened and mandatory rationing was enforced in some areas."

New York Times: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday reiterated his willingness to attack the Iranian nuclear program without support from Washington or the world, returning to an aggressive posture that he had largely abandoned since his United Nations speech in September."

Reuters: "The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline took its biggest drop since 2008 in the past two weeks, due to lower crude oil prices, a big price drop in pump prices in California and Hurricane Sandy, according to a widely followed survey released on Sunday." CW: looks like an Obama plot to me.

Reuters: "Five bombs exploded in the heart of the Bahraini capital Manama on Monday, killing two people, officials said, in rare attacks targeting civilians during the 21-month-old uprising against the kingdom's U.S.-backed rulers."