The prior chair of the Florida Republican Party (2006–2010) and former governor Charlie Crist (2007–2011) have both told the Palm Beach Post that they didn’t push voter ID laws and the like in order to reduce fraud (there is none)—they did it to suppress turnout. The more people voting, the better Democrats do. They invented the fraud concern as a “marketing ploy.” Both men are on the outs with Florida Republicans, and this probably isn’t helping them make up. →
Thank God. What an embarrassment it would have been for Virginia if this casually vicious racist had won. He fashioned himself in the image of the unreformed old southern racists of the 1960s, and never bothered to update his mindset, only how to fake it for brief stretches. In the meantime, Virginia—and the whole US—changed around him. Maybe he can spend even more time now fighting against anti-Semitism, since he told Wolf Blitzer in 2006 that he’d “use [his] time on Earth” to do just that. I wonder how that’s been going in the intervening six years? →
The only press coverage that Goode is getting for his wacky fourth-party presidential bid is for the possibility that he may be a spoiler for Romney in Virginia. This is another story in that vein. If Romney does lose Virginia by Goode’s Tuesday tally, a lot of people will be upset, but I’m pretty confident that Goode will not be among them. This is his fourth political party in the past decade—if need be, he’ll just join a new one. →
Jason Flanary, failed 2011 candidate for the Virginia Senate, had Twitter all a-flutter over the past few days after sending bajillions of really nasty anti-Obama SMS messages to mobile phones in total violation of federal election law. “VP Biden mocks a fallen Navy Seal during memorial. Our military deserves better” and “Obama believes killing children is a right until the umbilical cord is cut” were two of the messages. Flanary, a Republican, is on the board of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, and ran against Dave Marsden for Senate, garnering 46% of the vote. The Romney campaign says that they didn’t know the first thing about what Flanary was up to. Apparently Flanary’s company, ccAdvertising, is in the habit of sending out millions of illegal SMSes in the days before elections, in an effort to influence election outcomes. I’m pretty sure this story will have an unhappy ending for Flanary. →
There are two ways to pronounce “Missouri”—neither is right and neither is wrong. It’s become a geographic, political, and generational shibboleth. This article doesn’t mention Nevada, but that’s a state that seems equally divided (“Neh-VEH-duh” versus “Neh-VAH-duh”). →
In 2008, Focus on the Family wrote this letter from the future, warning their members about life in 2012 if Barack Obama were elected president. It’s hilarious. Comedy gold. Everybody’s gay, children watch porn, electricity is all but illegal, prayer isn’t allowed…it’s a hoot. If it wasn’t for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, I don’t think there’d be any media outlet that would later revisit and evaluate these sorts of claims. I wonder what Focus on the Family is claiming Obama will do with his next four years? And who would believe them? →
National Media has provided a bubble chart of beers, graphed by partisanship and likelihood of turning out to vote. Republicans drink Coors Light, Miller Light, and Sam Adams. Democrats drink Heineken and Corona. People who show up to the polls drink Amstel Light, Sam Adams Light, and Molson. People who don’t bother to vote drink Budweiser Select, Natural Light, and Busch Light. Fosters, Miller High Life, Busch, and Bud Light are equally popular among Democrats and Republicans. →
Let’s put on our best surprised faces. There is one interesting bit. Republicans support voter ID laws no matter how much they dislike non-whites. The biggest variable comes among Democrats, among whom it’s the racists who support voter IDs. →
I’m amazed that they even bothered to fact-check Marshall’s claim that being gay “cuts your life by about 20 years,” since it’s obviously false. To their credit, they contacted the author of the study that constitutes Marshall’s evidence, who said that Marshall is guilty of a “gross misrepresentation” of his research, and that he is “misusing the data” by using his study “to support the notion that gay and bisexual sex is somehow the reason why people die early.” →
Karl Rove’s nonprofit, Crossroads GPS, just got an anonymous $10M donation to fund attack ads against President Obama. This is the second $10M+ contributions that the organization has received anonymously. Is there anybody who thinks that we should have a political system that allows anonymous, unlimited political contributions? Anybody? →
From the AP: “The White House organized a conference call with two senior administration officials to preview an announcement by President Barack Obama about an important China trade issue but told reporters that no one could be quoted by name. The officials were U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and the deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, Michael Froman.” This business of senior White House officials holding on-the-record but anonymous meetings with media outlets is very weird. It’s been going on since at least the Clinton administration. You’ve got to be impressed with reporter Richard Lardner for bucking tradition and naming names. →
Remember in 2008, when every Republican senator in the General Assembly voted against the the budget bill, how they were labelled “obstructionists”?
Yeah, me neither. →
In 1968, Christianity Today (Billy Graham’s magazine) pointed out that Leviticus 24:17 commands capital punishment for murder, but Exodus 21:22–24 lays out a specific scenario under which, if a fetus is killed, the offender must pay a fine to her husband. The author concluded that, according to the Bible, a fetus does not have a soul. This wasn’t a bombshell—it was simply the perspective of evangelical Christians at the time. Did the Bible change in the intervening years? Of course not—only Republicans’ strategy to make abortion a political issue to help them get out of the wilderness. It’s gone well for them, politically speaking, →
I have recently been lamenting the media’s habit of allowing subjects’ false statements to stand, without challenge. This morning I spotted a great example of the right way to handle this, in a story about Mitt Romney from the AP’s Kasie Hunt: “‘I will never apologize for America,’ Romney says often—suggesting that Obama has done just that, even though the president hasn’t.” Simple and to the point. →
The 71-year-old paper isn’t convinced that endorsements mean much anymore, and are worried that the practice gives the appearance of bias in their coverage of politics. So they’re giving it up. I wonder if this is the beginning of a trend, or of the Sun-Times will stand alone? →
- New York Times: Who’s on the Line? Increasingly, Caller ID Is Duped
Telemarketers are faking Caller ID information with apparent impunity, so that people believe that the IRS or the FBI is calling. (Just like spam!) The FTC has just filed their first complaint against a company for doing that. The FCC wouldn't comment as to what they're doing about it.
- Wikipedia: List of nicknames of United States presidents
John Tyler, Rutherford B. Hayes, Warren G. Harding, and Richard Nixon are the only former U.S. presidents who did not have a (non-derisory) nickname as president. ("Tricky Dick," for instance, doesn't make the cut.) President Obama does not yet have a nickname and, given how unusual his name is, I suspect he won't get one. The heyday of nicknames was the early 20th century, when a few popular given names reigned supreme—when three friends are all named "Michael," nicknaming is inevitable. The most popular names today are far less common than a century ago, making nicknames linguistically unnecessary.
- The Atlantic: What If the Law Required Campaign Contributions to Be Kept Secret?
If the process of collecting, tallying, and refunding campaign contributions was turned over to a blind trust, the effect on politics could be quite positive. Lawrence Lessig argues that it would become implausible to buy influence.
- New York Times: Herman Cain is a Candidate Writing His Own Campaign Rules
Running for president? Nah. Herman Cain has decided he'd rather go on a book tour. Much like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, Cain appears to view running for the Republican nomination as a cheap method of getting national press.
- MSNBC: Secret panel can put Americans on “kill list”
- New York Times: Farmers Strain to Hire American Workers in Place of Migrant Labor
It turns out that if you don't hire immigrants then Americans will not, in fact, do the work. That's the experience of one Colorado farmer, who raised his wages to $10.50/hour. Only 2/3 as many people showed up as he normally gets, and most of them quit within the day. The work is just too hard. I don't want to harvest onions. Do you?
- Bloomberg: Obama Lawyers Signal Likely Supreme Court Appeal on Health Care
The White House wants to end the federal appeals court rulings on the president's health care reform, and for the Supreme Court to take up the case. That's likely to bring a decision in June, in the middle of the presidential campaign. "President Barack Obama is trying to resolve the legal issues on his watch, said Alex Castellanos, Republican consultant. 'This is not politics,' he said. 'This is governing.'" Damned straight.
- NPR: Silence From Rep. Bachmann As Vaccine Challenge Expires
Remember the bioethicist's $10,000 challenge to Michele Bachmann if she would simply identify a single person who was rendered mentally retarded by the HPV vaccine? The money would have gone to Bachmann's charity of choice. That's an easy $10k, right? Apparently not—Bachmann couldn't do it. And of course not: her repeated claim that middle school girls have received the shot and promptly been rendered retarded is ridiculous on its face. It's important that dangerous lies like this be responded to like this, because the alternative is for people to come to believe that it's true.
- Wikipedia: Tontine
A tontine is an investment system by which a bunch of people pay into a pot and take their proportional share of the interest on a regular basis. As more participants die, the remaining participants all get a greater share of income with each payment. The last person alive gets a lump payment of all the remaining money. It was popular in the 1700s and 1800s, but they've both fallen out of favor and made illegal in many places.
- MSNBC: Santorum—GOP not ‘anti-science’
Good for Jon Huntsman for acknowledging that the first step to getting the Republican Party out of the intellectual wilderness is to stop being anti-science. (Anti-science is anti-facts, and being anti-facts doesn't work for long.) Unsurprisingly, Rick Santorum says that his party isn't anti-science. He claims, by inference, that Huntsman asserted that believing in God is anti-science. That's a pretty fringy assertion that obviously Huntsman didn't make.
- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: A new way to detect secret nuclear tests—GPS
GPS signals are affected significantly by atmospheric disturbances, and compensating for those disturbances has always presented a challenge. These researchers have devised and successfully tested a method of using that problem for the purpose of detecting nuclear explosions anywhere in the world. This is brilliant.
- ThinkProgress: Just One Week Into His Campaign, Rick Perry Disavows His Nine-Month-Old Book
"Why, that old thing? That book is what I thought LAST year."
- CBS News: Like Every Administration, White House Defends Obama "Vacation"
President Obama has taken 38 days of vacation so far in his presidency. At this point in Bush's presidency, he'd taken 102 days of vacation.
- Rick Perry’s Texas A&M Transcript
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry's academic record is on par with President Bush's—which is to say, very poor—but perhaps most telling is the "D" that he earned in Principles of Economics. That's about right.
- Los Angeles Times: Missing Iraq money may have been stolen, auditors say
How could we have known that shipping 21 C-130s to Iraq full of $12,000,000,000 in cash to be distributed without any sort of bookkeeping or audit trail would end badly? I mean, who could have forecast such a thing?
- Wall Street Journal: Perry Points to ‘Idiotic’ U.S. Rule That Doesn’t Exist
In Rick Perry's imaginary United States, things are going very badly indeed. No doubt he has some imaginary solutions to propose.