A reader wrote to me a few weeks ago wondering about whether it was a good idea for her elderly mother & friends -- who live in Florida -- to vote by absentee ballot. I have received half-a-dozen robo-calls from Florida Democratic officials offering to make sure I got an absentee ballot. This New York Times report by Adam Liptak is consistent with my response to the reader: "Nationwide, the use of absentee ballots and other forms of voting by mail has more than tripled since 1980 and now accounts for almost 20 percent of all votes. Yet votes cast by mail are less likely to be counted, more likely to be compromised and more likely to be contested than those cast in a voting booth.... Election officials reject almost 2 percent of ballots cast by mail, double the rate for in-person voting."
Robert Reich on what the jobs report really means. Reich doesn't mention that a lot of those new jobs are part-time (yo! no benefits!), but that only bolsters his argument: "The concentration of income and wealth at the top has robbed the vast middle class of the purchasing power it needs to generate a full recovery -- something that was masked by borrowing against rising home values, but can no longer be denied. Unless or until this structural problem is dealt with, we won't be back to normal."
Novelist Kevin Baker in a New York Times op-ed: "The Republican Party is, more than ever before in its history, an anti-urban party, its support gleaned overwhelmingly from suburban and rural districts -- especially in presidential elections.... Today, four-fifths of the population lives in an urban area -- the highest percentage in our history.... [Republicans] promise to rip and tear at the immensely complex fabric of city life while sneering at the entire 'urban vision of dense housing and government transit.' There is a terrible arrogance here that has ramifications well beyond the Republicans' electoral prospects."
"The Cancer Lobby." Nicholas Kristof: Big Chem is lobbying "Congress to cut off money for the Report on Carcinogens, a 500-page consensus document published every two years by the National Institutes of Health, containing the best information about what agents cause cancer. If that sounds like shooting the messenger, well, it is.... The larger issue is whether the federal government should be a watchdog for public health, or a lap dog for industry. When Mitt Romney denounces President Obama for excessive regulation, these are the kinds of issues at stake."
An animated short by Simpsons/Family Guy animator Lucas Gray. Gray animates Obama's speech at an Associated Press luncheon April 3rd, 2012. Via Crooks & Liars:
Nate Silver: "Mitt Romney continues to show improved numbers in polls published since the presidential debate in Denver on Wednesday and has now made clear gains in the FiveThirtyEight forecast. The forecast gives him roughly a 20 percent chance of winning the Electoral College, up from about 15 percent before the debate. Mr. Romney's gains in the polls have been sharp enough that he should continue to advance in the FiveThirtyEight forecast if he can maintain his numbers over the next couple of days. Four of the five national polls published on Saturday showed improvement for Mr. Romney." ...
... Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: "PPP's newest Wisconsin poll finds a big debate bump for Mitt Romney in the state. Two weeks ago he trailed Barack Obama by 7 points there, 52-45. Now he's pulled to within two points, with Obama's lead now just 49-47. There's not much doubt it was Romney's strong debate performance on Wednesday night that's given him this boost. Voters think he won the debate by a 61/25 margin...." ...
... Maggie Haberman of Politico: "The Republican-leaning outside group Citizens United is releasing a poll showing a tight presidential race and a tight Senate contest in Ohio, the key battleground where Mitt Romney has consistently been behind in public and private polls. The survey, by Wenzel Strategies, has Romney in a statistical dead heat with President Obama, 48 percent with leaners to 47.3 percent for Obama, and 4.7 percent undecided." ...
Greg Ip, the economics editor of The Economist, in a Washington Post op-ed, credits President Obama with doing a lot to salvage the economy. Irony alert: if Romney wins the election, he'll get all the credit for the work Obama did. CW: another reason to vote for Obama.
"The Vice President Would Like to Meet You." Kobe Groce of Fort Myers, Florida, tells his story of how the Obama administration has helped his family. Thanks to Victoria D. for the link.
Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times: "Romney's move toward the center is a matter of tone and emphasis more than substance. It took Obama by surprise, and it gave Romney a new chance to make his case to voters in the center -- all of which made it a success for the GOP campaign. But down in the details, there was less change in Romney's positions than met the ear, and his campaign insisted that he didn't say anything substantively new at all.... He's still a conservative."
Matt Taibbi writes an excellent analysis of the debate under the headline "Mitt Romney wins all-important BS contest."
William D. Cohan of Bloomberg News in the Washington Post: "... exactly how wealthy is Romney? The figure that gets tossed around is $250 million in net worth -- meaning the total value of his assets, financial and others, minus any debts. It's a big number, but frankly, it seems low. Given the industry in which he made his fortune (private equity), the era when he made it (the 1980s and 1990s) and the wealth of his peers in that business (mostly billionaires), Romney should be worth a good bit more than that.... If he were perceived as the first real billionaire to run for president, it would only exacerbate popular doubts about how someone living so removed from the concerns of average Americans -- or even just 47 percent of them -- could effectively represent them. And if he is not a billionaire, doesn't it suggest that he was not a great private-equity investor after all, thus torpedoing his claim to understand how to create jobs and get the economy back on track? Something to keep in mind on Nov. 6."
John Broder of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney vowed in a campaign appearance earlier this year to 'take a weed whacker' to the thicket of federal regulations adopted by the Obama administration and promised to impose a rigid freeze and cost cap on all new government rules.... While Mr. Romney blames the Obama administration for the edifice of federal law and regulation that he argues is choking off economic recovery, many of these rules go back decades. 'It's not just Obama he's attacking, but past acts of Congress,' said Rena I. Steinzor..., the president of the Center for Progressive Reform. 'This does not all spring from the frenzied imagination of Obama's E.P.A. It all comes down from statutes.'" CW: maybe Broder is trying to reassure us a Romney presidency won't be so bad.
Dylan Byers of Politico: "NBC has asked President Barack Obama’s campaign to stop using the network's footage in a recently released reelection ad.... In a letter sent Friday night to Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, NBC told the Obama campaign to cease using network footage in a new 30-second spot, released shortly after Wednesday's debate, in which Andrea Mitchell is shown on air citing an independent, stating that Mitt Romney's tax plan would cost $4.8 trillion over 10 years..." CW: When I first saw the video, embedded in yesterday's Commentariat, I couldn't believe Mrs. Greenspan would be of help. Well, there you go.
Fernanda Santos of the New York Times looks at the Arizona Senate race where the Democrat, Dr. Richard Carmona, is one exciting candidate. Though Arizona is a red state, Carmona has a shot at the seat; both candidates, Carmona & Rep. Jeff Flake, acknowledge they are in a close race.
Nick Coltrain of the Athens, Georgia, Banner-Herald: "Evolution and the big bang theory are 'lies to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior,' U.S. Rep. Paul Broun [RTP-Georgia] said in a recently released video. In the video..., Broun also repeated fundamentalist Christian tenets that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old and the Holy Bible is a guidebook to every aspect of life.... Broun ... is a medical doctor and running unopposed in District 10 on the November ballot. He serves on the Congressional science and technology, and homeland security committees."
Justin Lewis of the AP: "Arkansas Republicans tried to distance themselves Saturday from a Republican state representative's assertion that slavery was a 'blessing in disguise' and a Republican state House candidate who advocates deporting all Muslims. The claims were made in books written, respectively, by Rep. Jon Hubbard of Jonesboro and House candidate Charlie Fuqua of Batesville. Those books received attention on Internet news sites Friday. On Saturday, state GOP Chairman Doyle Webb called the books 'highly offensive.' And U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, a Republican who represents northeast Arkansas, called the writings 'divisive and racially inflammatory.'" Thanks to contributor Mae F. for the link. ...
... Louis Peitzman of Gawker has more details on Hubbard's views of black Americans & their lucky immigrant ancestors. ...
... As you may recall from late last week, the Koch brothers consider these guys prizes, and their spending their pocket change ($1 million) to flip the legislature to Republican.
AP: "President Hugo Chavez won re-election on Sunday, defeating challenger Henrique Capriles, Venezuela's electoral council said. With most votes counted, Chavez had more than 54 percent of the vote, and Capriles had 45 percent.... She said 81 percent of the nearly 19 million registered voters cast ballots."
AP: "The U.S. Border Patrol agent killed last week in a shooting in southern Arizona apparently opened fire on two fellow agents thinking they were armed smugglers and was killed when they returned fire, the head of the Border Patrol agents' union said Sunday."
New York Times: "With gasoline prices reaching record highs across California over the last week, Gov. Jerry Brown moved on Sunday to alleviate some of the pain at the pump. Mr. Brown directed the California Air Resources Board to take emergency steps to increase the supply of fuel in the state and allow refineries to immediately switch to a winter blend of gasoline that is typically not sold until November."
Reuters: "U.S. health officials on Sunday reported an additional 27 cases in a fungal meningitis outbreak linked to steroid injections that has killed seven people and now infected 91 in nine states."
Washington Post: "Weakened from battling cancer and visibly bloated, President Hugo Chavez [of Venezuela] is fighting for his political life in Sunday's presidential election, as he faces a charismatic challenger who has energized a once-disunited opposition in a way none of the populist leader's foes ever has.... Two established pollsters show Chavez, 58, with a substantial advantage.... But two others have Chavez and Henrique Capriles, 40, a lawyer and former governor who has never lost an election, in a virtual dead heat."
Space: "An unmanned private spacecraft is counting down to launch the first commercial delivery to the International Space Station tonight (Oct. 7), marking a major shift in how NASA< sends supplies and gear to the orbiting lab. The gumdrop-shaped Dragon space capsule built by the private spaceflight company SpaceX is set to blast off from a pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to begin a three-day voyage to the space station. Liftoff is set for 8:35 p.m. EDT (0035 Monday GMT)."
AP: "Gasoline prices in California rose to another all-time high on Sunday after passing a four-year high a day earlier, according to AAA. The four-cent-per-gallon jump Sunday was even bigger than Saturday's jump, which was just a fraction of a penny. AAA reported in its latest update on Sunday that the statewide average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $4.655."