Voter Fraud, Palm Beach County, Florida-Style. Philip Elliott of the AP: "Republicans on Thursday fired a vendor suspected of submitting 108 questionable new voter registrations in Florida's Palm Beach County, ground zero for disputed ballots in 2000's presidential race. The Republican Party of Florida used Virginia-based Strategic Allied Consulting to help register and turnout voters in Florida.... The Florida state party had paid the firm more than $1.3 million so far, and the Republican National Committee used the group for almost $3 million of work in Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia.... Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher's staff noticed signatures that looked alike and incomplete forms submitted on Sept. 5 by Strategic Allied Consulting. Bucher met with prosecutors on Monday to request an investigation." ...
... Lee Fang of The Nation: "The contractor in Florida..., Strategic Allied Consulting, [is] a business entity created a few months ago and registered online by a former Arizona Republican Party director named Nathan Sproul. Sproul ... is infamous for accusations that his firms have committed fraud by tampering with Democratic voter registration forms and suppressing votes. Sproul was hired by the Romney campaign for a period of five months that began last November and ended in March. But now there's evidence that the payments continued, only to a different name.... Strategic Allied Consulting recently put up a proxy to hide the fact that its website was registered by Sproul.... The firm has been aggressively hiring in Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida." ...
... AND the North Carolina GOP also Wipes Egg off its Face. Mark Binker of WRAL (Raleigh, North Carolina): "Republicans have been running on a platform that includes requiring photo ID when voters go to the polls as a way to combat voter fraud. So there's an heavy dose of irony that the GOP has been paying a company that is itself linked to questionable voting practices. Asked several questions about this today, North Carolina GOP spokesman Rob Lockwood e-mailed me the following: "The NCGOP takes any threat to the voting process very seriously. We have terminated our relationship with Strategic Allied Consultants." ...
... WAIT! WAIT! Major Omelet Scrub. -- ... Michael Isikoff of NBC News: "Election officials in six Florida counties are investigating what appears to be 'hundreds' of cases of suspected voter fraud by a GOP consulting firm that has been paid nearly $3 million by the Republican National Committee to register Republican voters in five key battleground states.... In addition to Palm Beach County, where election officials initially reported 106 instances of suspected fraudulent registration forms, officials in Okaloosa, Pasco, Santa Rosa, Lee and Clay counties have also reported instances of possible fraudulent forms submitted by the firm, officials said.... the Republican National Committee said it had severed its ties to the firm altogether." CW: this doesn't mean the Romney campaign, which had previously directly employed Sproul, has no ties to whatever Sproul is calling his voter-fraud ops now. ...
... Jason Sattler of the National Memo: "For more than a year, [Ari] Berman [of The Nation] has been waging a one-man war on the GOP's voter suppression efforts. In this Q and A with The National Memo, he explains how this coordinated effort to deny the vote to core members of Obama's winning coalition from 2008 could still swing the 2012 election, despite some recent victories in federal court."
James Dao of the New York Times: a "crushing inventory of claims for disability, pension and educational benefits that has overwhelmed the Department of Veterans Affairs. For hundreds of thousands of veterans, the result has been long waits for decisions, mishandled documents, confusing communications and infuriating mistakes in their claims.... The agency has already completed more than one million claims for the third consecutive year. Yet it is still taking about eight months to process the average claim, two months longer than a decade ago. As of Monday, 890,000 pension and compensation claims were pending." ...
... Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia introduced Barack Obama at a campaign stop in Virginia yesterday. Watch it. And Gen. Shinseki better get his act together over there at the VA:
... Charles Mahtesian of Politico: "... coming from Webb -- a voice for the white working class, a former Navy secretary and decorated Vietnam veteran whose son left college to enlist as an infantry private in the Marine Corps and fought in the Iraq War -- his words carry a punch that few other Democratic surrogates can muster."
Julia Preston of the New York Times: "As of Thursday..., United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, had received more than 100,000 applications [for deportation deferral]..., with more than 63,000 in the last stages of review. But so far the agency has confirmed only 29 approvals."
Paul Krugman: "If Germany really wants to save the euro, it should let the European Central Bank do what's necessary to rescue the debtor nations -- and it should do so without demanding more pointless pain."
... Joshua Keating of Foreign Policy presents "Great Moment in U.N. Prop Use." ...
... Jay Newton-Small of Time: Hmm, what do you do when you're a world leader & your multiple attempts to influence the U.S. presidential election fail? "Netanyahu's speech on Thursday didn't leave much for Romney to put in a press release. So, what changed in the past week that led Netanyahu to back off of Obama? Perhaps he got a look at recent polls showing Obama pulling ahead in key swing states and increasing his lead nationally. It's one thing to put a finger on the scale when a race is close and quite another to flat out provoke the man he's likely going to have to spend the next four years working with.
Helene Cooper & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "... with 39 days to go, President Obama and Mitt Romney dueled in [Virginia] on Thursday, both trying to lock up support from voters with ties to the military."
Nate Silver: "... there looks to be about a 20 percent chance that Mr. Romney will win, but also about a 20 percent chance that Mr. Obama will actually beat his 2008 margin in the popular vote. The smart money is on an outcome somewhere in the middle -- as it has been all year. But if you can conceive of a Romney comeback -- and you should account for that possibility -- you should also allow for the chance that things could get really out of hand, and that Mr. Obama could win in a borderline landslide. ...
... Yo, Mitt. Time to Hitch Your Wagon to Dubya's Star. Tom Benning of the Dallas Morning News: "For all the talk about whether Mitt Romney should distance himself from George W. Bush -- and the policies of the last GOP White House -- a new survey shows that the former president actually has better favorability ratings than the Republican nominee. A Bloomberg News National Poll released Wednesday has Bush receiving a favorable rating from 46 percent of those surveyed and an unfavorable rating from 49 percent. That's compared to Romney's 43 percent favorable and 50 percent unfavorable."
Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "The billionaire George Soros is committing $1 million to Priorities USA Action, the 'super PAC' supporting President Obama..., a significant donation that could help spur more contributions in the closing weeks of the election campaign."
In this Web video, the Obama campaign rebuts Romney's claims that President Obama has misrepresented Romney's positions:
... AND Greg Sargent reports that
Elections Matter. Tim Egan: "The biggest threats [to our public lands] over the last 50 years have come from demands of the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion -- a Western-sounding name for a property grab by well-connected special interests.... Romney has promised to let oil companies have their way -- no surprise, given that his chief energy adviser, Harold Hamm, is an oil billionaire with stakes in multiple energy sites throughout the West.... No major-party presidential nominee has ever taken a stance as radical as Romney'."
Elections Matter. We'll use enhanced interrogation techniques which go beyond those that are in the military handbook right now. -- Mitt Romney, on plans to torture prisoners. Charlie Savage of the New York Times has the whole story. AND Andy Rosenthal has more.
Jimmy Kimmel found the first take of Romney's "Too Many Americans" ad:
... Thanks to contributor James S. for the link. And as Akhilleus pointed out in yesterday's Comments, it is surprising Romney would admit he thinks there are "too many Americans." I think we know who-all the Romney Plan would slate for "voluntary deportation." I'm sure I'm one....
Coincidentally, Jonathan Chait of New York magazine noticed something similar about this Obama ad, in which Romney provides the voiceover:
... Chait writes, "What's devastating about the ad, aside from the juxtaposition of Romney's words against photos of regular Americans, is ... the sound of silverware clinking on china in the background as Romney speaks. That detail contrasts the atmosphere Romney inhabits with the one in which most Americans live. You can tell, even though you're not seeing this, that the remarks are being made to people enjoying a formal dinner.... The Republican Party is going down because its candidate was seen advocating exactly the beliefs that make the party so dangerous and repellant."
CW: On September 22, when Romney dumped his 2011 tax return, I asked what the deal was with the Romneys' getting charitable deduction for a family trust. Well, finally somebody half-explains the "charitable gift" Romney gave to the kids:
... Jesse Drucker of Bloomberg News: Mitt Romney has "enhanced his family's wealth by moving assets worth $100 million into a trust while taking steps to avoid paying any gift taxes. The trust's value isn't counted in the $250 million that his campaign cites as Romney's net worth.... Use of these types of trusts has grown as the wealthy employ increasingly sophisticated techniques to avoid both estate and gift taxes on money they transfer to their families.... Romney has vowed as president to cut the gift tax rate and repeal the federal estate tax altogether -- calling it the 'Death Tax.' ... Public exposure of Romney's various tax avoidance tactics may spur legislation cracking down on them...." ...
... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones writes, in plain English, how it works: "First, Romney undervalues the assets he puts into the trust so he owes little or no gift tax. Then, later, when the assets appreciate, he pays only the capital gains tax, which is considerably lower than the gift tax. And to make it even better, he pays the capital gains tax out of his own pocket, so the trust owes nothing. It's like making a second gift to his kids free and clear."
... David Corn: "Mother Jones has obtained a video from 1985 in which Romney, describing Bain's formation, showed how he viewed the firm's mission. He explained that its goal was to identify potential and hidden value in companies, buy significant stakes in these businesses, and then 'harvest them at a significant profit' within five to eight years.... In this clip, Romney mentioned that it would routinely take up to eight years to turn around a firm -- though he now slams the president for failing to revive the entire US economy in half that time." Includes video.
"Wake the Fuck Up!" Thanks to contributor Janice for the link:
Paul Ryan Joins the Poll Conspiracy Theorists. Katie Glueck of Politico: "Rep. Paul Ryan on Thursday dismissed polling that shows him and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney trailing in Ryan's home state of Wisconsin. 'I don't actually believe the validity of that particular poll,' Ryan told Fox News's Neil Cavuto, adding that he wouldn't get 'into all the methodologies of it.' It wasn't immediately clear to which poll Ryan was referring, but several surveys have found the Republican ticket sliding in the Badger State.... Ryan is the latest conservative to challenge the veracity of polls." ...
... CW: Maybe we should quit with all the theories -- including mine -- as to why Romney appears to be losing and settle on the real reason: the Eddie Haskell Factor. When those undecideds happen to catch a glimpse someplace on the teevee of Ryan's cloying hangdog phoniness, they go all June Cleaver.
AND Surprise, Surprise. Drudge and Co. Go Full Racist. Elspeth Reeve of the Atlantic has the full story on the Drudge "Reports"'s feature "Obama Has My Vote -- He Gave Me a Free Phone."
Claire, You Ignorant Slut. How to Recapture the Women's Ladies' Vote. Todd Akin assesses his debate last week with Sen. Claire McCaskill Turns out Claire used to be more "ladylike." Akin complained that McCaskill was "aggressive" in a senatorial debate they participated in last week. Apparently Akin believes that a lady senator should not talk back to a gentleman debater. Why, a real lady would never participate in something so tawdry as a political debate in the first place. ...
... Good Luck, Todd! Alexander Burns of Politico: "While the National Republican Senatorial Committee issued a statement this week expressing support for Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's Senate campaign, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn" told the Lexington Courier-Journal that the National Republican Senatorial Committee "does not intend to put money into" the McCaskill-Akin race. "I just think that this is not a winnable race," he said.
New York Times: "Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who guided The New York Times and its parent company through a long, sometimes turbulent period of expansion and change on a scale not seen since the newspaper's founding in 1851, died early Saturday at his home in Southampton, N.Y. He was 86."
New York Times: "Spain's ailing banking industry could need as much as 59.3 billion euros, or $76.4 billion, in additional capital, according to an independent banking assessment published on Friday. The report paves the way for Madrid to request bank rescue loans that European finance ministers have agreed to extend."
Washington Post: "U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that the attack on the U.S. mission in Libya involved a small number of militants with ties to al-Qaeda in North Africa but see no indication that the terrorist group directed the assault, U.S. officials said Thursday. The determination reflects an emerging consensus among analysts at the CIA and other agencies that has contributed to a shift among senior Obama administration officials toward describing the siege of U.S. facilities in Benghazi as a terrorist attack."
New York Times: "Chinese leaders announced on Friday that Bo Xilai, a disgraced Communist Party aristocrat, had been expelled from the party and would be prosecuted on criminal charges, a move that effectively ends his remarkable political career."
Bloomberg News: "President Francois Hollande's first annual budget raised taxes on the rich and big companies and included a minimum of spending cuts to reduce the deficit."