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Sandy leaves election officials scrambling

Sandy leaves election officials scrambling | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

By Allison Brennan for CNN Politics


Will you be able to vote Tuesday? Despite Sandy, probably.


Many electronic voting machines -- used now by two out of every five counties nationwide, according to the Voting Technology Project -- often require consistent power to work for the long hours they are needed on Election Day, even though some have battery power.
If electricity remains out in some areas next Tuesday, those areas may have to scramble to find alternatives, including paper ballots.


It is unlikely voters in the hardest hit states will be given an extension if they cannot access polls, despite damage from the storm.


Only Congress can change Election Day, according to an 1845 law. If it opts to alter the timetable -- something never previously done -- every state would have to be included.
The same law also says that if a state "shall fail to make a choice" on Election Day, then electors to the Electoral College may be appointed on a "subsequent day" as determined by state law.

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One Way or the Other…or the Other

One Way or the Other…or the Other | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by MICHAEL CHARNEY


I’ve been taking an increasing amount of flack over the past couple of weeks because I’m still—less than a week before Election Day—undecided. Friends on the right have chidingly taken up the call of “RINO! RINO!” simply because I’m not planning to teaparty my way down a straight ticket, while friends on the left basically want to know why I don’t “WAKE THE F##K UP, ALREADY!”


(And, yes, these are my friends. If you’re curious to know what strangers are shouting at me, feel free to head over to my Facebook page.)


I know I don’t have to explain myself, but I want to. When you’re an incredibly minor public figure like I am, credibility is just about all you’ve got, and if I want people to think I’m principled, then I best lay out those principles.


My conundrum comes from the belief that we are not currently choosing from between two major parties, but from among three.* As I see it, we have the Democratic Party, a generally left-of-center (but not that far left) group that has had some successes and some failures, but whose basic arguments for re-election have been based largely on counter-factuals, those what-if’s that make for, at best, an interesting dinner conversation but which are not proper premises for making important decisions.


Then we have the Republican Party in its longed-for traditional form, the party of Lincoln which, unfortunately, seems to be sitting placidly in the balcony at Ford's Theater waiting for the curtain to rise on Act III of Our American Cousin. It’s lost the Snowe’s and the Lugar’s and there are few on the horizon poised to take their places.


And finally we have the Tea Party... [MORE]


Via Michael Charney, Eric Byler
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Romney's Charitable Trust—Not Very Charitable

Romney's Charitable Trust—Not Very Charitable | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

How Romney used his charitable trust as just another tax avoidance scheme to shield his fortune


by Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones


When Mitt Romney has come under fire for employing aggressive tax avoidance strategies that have reduced his federal tax rate to one lower than most middle-class Americans pay, his defenders have often pointed to his generous charitable donations as proof that he has contributed his fair share. The argument has never been especially compelling, given that a lot of his charitable contributions went to his own family foundation, which then gave money to such worthy causes as the Heritage Foundation or the George W. Bush library. But today Bloomberg Bloomberg added a new wrinkle to the story, reporting that Romney has taken advantage of a complicated—and now mostly outlawed—charitable trust to defer and avoid paying capital gains taxes on some of his earnings.


Using the Freedom of Information Act, Bloomberg smartly requested the tax returns of a charitable trust set up by Romney in 1996, which have never been publicly released. (The trust is separate from both the Romneys' family trust and foundation.) The documents reportedly show that Romney used a loophole to essentially rent the tax-exempt status of a nonprofit—in this case, that of the Mormon church—to lower his tax rate while not actually giving much money to the charity itself. [MORE]

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Good for partisan extremists, bad for America: Mitch McConnell and John Boehner’s strategy worked

Good for partisan extremists, bad for America: Mitch McConnell and John Boehner’s strategy worked | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Excerpt from Ezra Klein article in The Washington Post puzzling at the logic behind rewarding the Tea Party Congress for hyper-partisanship and ideological extremism...


Congressional Republicans really have been implacably opposed to working with Obama and that’s meant Obama hasn’t been able to get much done since Boehner was sworn in as speaker. At times, it’s been even worse than gridlock. The Sentinel notes that “with Obama in charge, the federal government came perilously close to a default last year.”


It was, of course, the Republicans who pushed the country to the brink — Obama would’ve signed a clean debt-ceiling increase at any moment, and he ended up making more concessions than any president in history to sign the final debt-ceiling increase — but it’s true that congressional Republicans wouldn’t have done that if a Republican was occupying the White House. So vote Romney.


Obama ran for president promising to break the gridlock and overcome the partisanship that paralyzes Washington. But it wasn’t up to him. The minority won’t cooperate with the majority unless they see it’s in their interests. And the Republican minority didn’t see it that way.


“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” Mitch McConnell said. “The purpose of the minority is to become the majority,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, head of the National Republican Campaign Committee.
These endorsements are proving Republicans right. As they show, the Republican strategy to deny the president any cooperation and make his Washington a depressing and dysfunctional place has done Obama enormous political damage. In that way, the endorsements get the situation backwards.


While it’s true that President Romney could expect more cooperation from congressional Republicans, in the long term, a vote against Obama on these grounds is a vote for more of this kind of gridlock. Politicians do what wins them elections. If this strategy wins Republicans the election, they’ll employ it next time they face a Democratic president, too, and congressional Democrats will use it against the next Republicans. Rewarding the minority for doing everything in their power to make the majority fail sets up disastrous incentives for the political system.


There are good reasons to endorse Mitt Romney for president. But if you want the political system to work more smoothly, endorsing McConnell and Boehner’s strategy over the last four years is folly. [READ full article]

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Exclusive interview: Col. Larry Wilkerson reflects upon his "My party is full of racists" defense of Colin Powell, and the invasion of Iraq

Exclusive interview: Col. Larry Wilkerson reflects upon his "My party is full of racists" defense of Colin Powell, and the invasion of Iraq | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

THE MIDDLE GROUND with Michael Charney & Eric Byler

Our guest on The Middle Ground has been in the headlines of late because of an interview on MSNBC.  Col. Larry Wilkerson began the interview by explaining his, and Gen. Colin Powell's endorsement of President Obama, and defending Powell against attacks that imply he has endorsed the president only because of skin color. Wilkerson then went on to say: “My party is full of racists and the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants president Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander in chief and President and everything to do with the color of his skin and that is despicable.”

We asked him if he regretted hurting the feelings of fellow Republicans, many of whom, he said, had written incredibly hateful emails during the past few days. We also asked him about his role in preparing the infamous speech given by Secretary Powell before the United Nations, using false information to convince the nation and our allies to support the invasion of Iraq.  CLICK HERE TO LISTEN to an amazingly candid and in-depth interview about politics, race, and foreign policy.


Via Michael Charney
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Is the Tea Party Voter Suppression Group Violating Ohio Law?

Is the Tea Party Voter Suppression Group Violating Ohio Law? | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

TrueTheVote’s poll worker training effort may violate Ohio law for interfering in an election.


by STEVEN ROSENFELD, AlterNet


A right-wing voter vigilante group, TrueTheVote, may be pushing their anti-democratic agenda into illegal territory in Ohio by interfering with that state’s official poll worker training regimen one week before the 2012 presidential election.


In recent weeks, the Texas-based group, with many local affiliates drawn from Tea Party ranks, has been urging poll workers in key Ohio counties—primarily Republicans—to supplement their official state training with TrueTheVote materials. These Election Day workers are not the observers chosen by political parties who can watch but not interfere with voting; they are the people who are drawn from both parties and employed by the state to run the voting process.


“A few weeks back it was reported that TrueTheVote had talked about doing trainings,” said Brian Rothenberg, ProgressOhio Executive Director. “It appears that some offshoot of the Tea Party is now training elections workers in Hamilton County and we’re starting to hear that it’s happening in other counties, and that requests are being made for lists of poll workers throughout Ohio—to provide extra training.”


It is a crime in Ohio to interfere with conducting an election. Moreover, after the 2004 presidential election the state signed a federal consent decree that, among other things, established uniform poll worker training. Whether TrueTheVote’s interference with the state’s official trainings violates these legal standards has not been tested in court.


But the possibility that the group might be urging poll workers to use different standards other than what’s prescribed by the state is disturbing, said Dan Tokaji , an election law professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law.


“I don’t know what TrueTheVote has planned for Election Day. It would troubling be if outside groups were giving training to poll workers that conflicts with their legal obligation,” he said. “They are effectively state officials. Anything they do would be considered state action.” [MORE]



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Hurricane Sandy Barrels Region, Leaving Battered Path

Hurricane Sandy Barrels Region, Leaving Battered Path | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it


The storm battered the mid-Atlantic region, its powerful gusts and storm surges causing once-in-a-generation flooding in coastal communities and knocking down trees and power lines.


by JAMES BARRON and J. DAVID GOODMAN, NY Times


As Hurricane Sandy churned inland as a downgraded storm, residents up and down the battered mid-Atlantic region woke on Tuesday to lingering waters, darkened homes and the daunting task of cleaning up from once-in-a-generation storm surges and their devastating effects.


Power remained out for roughly six million people, including a large swath of Manhattan. Early risers stepped out into debris-littered streets that remained mostly deserted as dawn shed light on the extent of the damage. Bridges remained closed, and seven subway tunnels under the East River were flooded. Other mass transit service, including commuter rails, was also still suspended.


A wind-tossed construction crane atop one of the tallest buildings in New York City still dangled 80 stories over West 57th Street, across the street from Carnegie Hall, after coming loose during the storm.


The storm was the most destructive in the 108-year history of New York’s subway system, said Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, in an early morning statement.


“We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery,” he said, but did not provide a timetable for restoring transit service to a paralyzed city.


Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey called the damage to his state “incalculable” and said the Jersey Shore had been “devastated.” As he spoke on a series of morning talk shows on Tuesday, rescue teams were rushing to the aid of those stranded in Atlantic City and in areas of Bergen County where he said tidal waters had overwhelmed a protective natural berm.


At least 11 deaths — including 7 in the New York region — were tied to the storm, which toppled trees and sparked fires in several areas, state authorities said. Falling limbs became deadly bludgeons in three of the New York deaths and two in Morris County, N.J., where The Associated Press reported a man and a woman were killed when a tree fell on their car Monday evening. [MORE]

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Live web cam from Times Square as Hurricane Sandy hits

Live web cam from Times Square as Hurricane Sandy hits | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Experience this street-level view looking southeast toward the heart of Times Square. Perched 12 feet above the sidewalk on Broadway between 46th and 47th Streets, watch the crowds as they stop in front of this live webcam to wave home to family and friends.

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On state ballots: Only 174 ballot propositions across the country would guarantee any real policy changes.

On state ballots: Only 174 ballot propositions across the country would guarantee any real policy changes. | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Only 174 ballot propositions across the country would guarantee any real policy changes.


By KEVIN ROBILLARD, Politico


For all the attention paid to a billion-dollar plus presidential race, 33 Senate battles, 11 gubernatorial races and 435 contests for seats in the House, only the 174 ballot propositions across the country would guarantee any real policy changes. Spread across 34 states, the initiatives and referendums, voters give them a thumbs up, could legalize gay marriage or marijuana, enshrine constitutional rights to bargain collectively or hunt and make symbolic stands against President Barack Obama’s health care reform law. Here are 10 topics on the ballot to keep an eye on Nov. 6.


HEALTH CARE


Three states — Wyoming, Florida and Alabama — are considering constitutional amendments blocking “forced participation” in a health care system. The provisions are aimed at Obama’s signature health care overhaul, following the lead of three states that passed similar amendments in 2010 and 2011. The measures are largely symbolic, their impact limited by the U.S. Constitution.


But in Florida, a swing state with 29 electoral votes, there’s speculation the proposed amendment could drive up GOP turnout — potentially affecting the presidental contest in the swing state.


Also, Massachusetts is poised to become the fourth state to legalize doctor-assisted suicide, with nearly two-thirds of voters supporting a constitutional amendment, according to a September poll.


ABORTION


Florida has put a two-pronged abortion measure on the ballot: One would enshrine in the constitution the state’s existing ban on using state funds for abortion; the other would prevent a right to privacy plank already in the constitution from being used to expand abortion rights.


A group linked to Planned Parenthood has been fighting the measure, using Web ads to tie the state’s unpopular Republican governor, Rick Scott, to the referendum. One spot shows a doctor, a cat and Scott, then asks women whom they trust with their health care. The group has also reserved $1 million in television ads for the week leading up to Election Day. A group supporting the amendment had raised much less, mainly from Roman Catholic dioceses. The measure requires three-fifths support to pass.


Also, Montana is poised to approve a referendum that would require that girls younger than 16 notify their parents before they could undergo an abortion. Sixty-five percent of Montanans support the measure, according to a Mason-Dixon poll.


GAY MARRIAGE


Three states — Maryland, Washington and Maine — will have a chance to become the first to approve gay marriage at the ballot box after a streak of more than 30 defeats. A fourth, Minnesota, is considering a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. [MORE]




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McCain voters defecting to Obama are older white males | Reuters

McCain voters defecting to Obama are older white males | Reuters | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

(Reuters) - In today's highly polarized political environment it is somewhat surprising to find voters who backed John McCain in 2008 and now support President Barack Obama, but they exist.


Roughly 5 percent of respondents in Reuters/Ipsos polls said they chose the Republican contender in 2008 and will switch to Obama in 2012. This number peaked at around 9 percent two separate times over the summer, according to data collected since January.

...


The McCain-to-Obama switchers are 55 percent male, and 34 percent of them are 55 or older. (Overall, Obama trails Romney 34 percent to 52 percent among white men over 50.) About 72 percent of them are white.


They are largely from the East Coast; nearly 4 in 10 live in the mid- or South Atlantic. Nearly 3 in 10 finished their education after high school, and nearly 2 in 10 have a bachelor's degree.


Two-thirds say they are absolutely going to vote, choosing "10" on a 1-10 scale for likelihood of voting.

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National Popular Vote -- Electoral college reform by direct election of the President

National Popular Vote -- Electoral college reform by direct election of the President | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
National Popular Vote -- Electoral college reform and direct election of the President of the United States...


The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the entire United States. The bill preserves the Electoral College, while ensuring that every vote in every state will matter in every presidential election. The National Popular Vote law has been enacted by states possessing 132 electoral votes — 49% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate it.

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No Denial: ‘Son Of Detroit’ Profited from Bailout - and Jobs Shipped to China

No Denial: ‘Son Of Detroit’ Profited from Bailout - and Jobs Shipped to China | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
"I'm a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars," said Mitt Romney on Monday night when he met with President Obama to discuss foreign policy.
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Bob Kerrey Closes In On Reclaiming His Nebraska Senate Seat

Bob Kerrey Closes In On Reclaiming His Nebraska Senate Seat | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Kerrey’s campaign should matter to all Americans concerned with bridging the partisan divide


by John Avlon, The Daily Beast


Bob Kerrey’s campaign to retake his Senate seat is surging in the final days of the campaign—bringing him to within two points of his Tea Party competitor, thanks to increased support from independent voters.


The former Medal of Honor winner, governor, senator, presidential candidate and college president is probably one of the most qualified men to ever run for the U.S. Senate. Kerrey is widely respected in Washington for his principled independence, and ability to create bipartisan coalitions to solve a wide range of problems—which is one reason he’s been guaranteed a senior position if he returns to the Senate.


His opponent, Deb Fischer, on the other hand, is an obscure, socially conservative state senator who defeated a respected state attorney general in a Jim DeMint-backed Tea Party challenge. Fischer’s policy focus is primarily centered on climate-change denial and a belief in banning abortions even in cases of rape and incest—making her an instant ally of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. But those same beliefs ensure that she would be a perennial senate backbencher in a state accustomed to influence in Washington.


Fischer has been endorsed by Sarah Palin and received big dollar donations from the Koch brothers and Joe Rickets.


Kerrey has been endorsed by Warren Buffett, Joe Lieberman, and Steve Martin (in what even The Daily Caller called “possibly the greatest ad of the election cycle.” [NOTE: Kerrey was endorsed by Nebraska's former Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican, after this article went to press.]


[MORE]


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Bush’s FEMA Director Insists Obama Could Have Benefited Politically By Delaying Hurricane Response

Bush’s FEMA Director Insists Obama Could Have Benefited Politically By Delaying Hurricane Response | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
A day after criticizing President Obama’s handling of Hurricane Sandy in a Denver Westword interview, former FEMA Director Michael Brown clarified his comments Tuesday on a radio show he co-hosts with David Sirota.
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Margaret Reeve Panahi's comment, October 31, 2012 8:05 PM
Hard to freakin' believe.
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The REAL Reason Why Republicans Want To Abolish FEMA: So They Can Profit From Natural Disasters

The REAL Reason Why Republicans Want To Abolish FEMA: So They Can Profit From Natural Disasters | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it
It looks like we finally know the reason why Republicans are refusing to fund FEMA, the federal agency that responds to natural disasters. Former Republican Governor Jeb Bush is set to lead a newly formed FOR-PROFIT natural disaster response company.
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GOP Slashes Disaster Relief Funding

Mitt Romney's budget would drastically cut emergency spending and House Republicans have already dropped billions from federal disaster relief programs over ...
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GM Official On Romney Jeep Ad: 'We've Clearly Entered Some Parallel Universe'

GM Official On Romney Jeep Ad: 'We've Clearly Entered Some Parallel Universe' | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Sam Stein, Huffington Post


‎Mitt Romney's round of highly dubious television and radio ads suggesting that Chrysler and GM are shipping American jobs to China has managed to offend both car companies.


A spokesperson for General Motors told the Detroit Free Press that the ad was, more or less, crass and misleading.


"We've clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days," GM spokesman Greg Martin said. "No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country."


The day before, meanwhile, Chrysler Group LLC CEO Sergio Marchionne penned a letter to the Detroit News insisting that there was no validity to the idea that the company was shipping Jeep production overseas. Instead, he noted, the company was looking to open new factories in China to meet increasing demand there.


The Romney campaign has showed no willingness to back off the suggestion that American Jeep workers may end up losing their jobs. In fact, the campaign has released a radio ad in Ohio to complement the one it has on television there that repeats the insinuation. [MORE]

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Here’s a Memo From the Boss: Vote This Way

Here’s a Memo From the Boss: Vote This Way | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by DAVID A. SIEGEL, The New York Times


Imagine getting a letter from the boss, telling you how to vote.


Until 2010, federal law barred companies from using corporate money to endorse and campaign for political candidates — and that included urging employees to support specific politicians.


But the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has freed companies from those restrictions, and now several major companies, including Georgia-Pacific and Cintas, have sent letters or information packets to their employees suggesting — and sometimes explicitly recommending — how they should vote this fall.


In these letters, the executives complain about the costs of overregulation, the health care overhaul and possible tax increases. Some letters warn that if President Obama is re-elected, the company could be harmed, potentially jeopardizing jobs.


David A. Siegel, 77, chief executive of Westgate Resorts, a major time-share company, wrote to his 7,000 employees, saying that if Mr. Obama won, the prospect of higher taxes could hurt the company’s future.


“The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job, however, is another four years of the same presidential administration,” Mr. Siegel wrote. “If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current president plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company.”


In an interview, Mr. Siegel said he was not ordering his employees to vote his way. “There’s no way I can pressure anybody,” he said. “I’m not in the voting booth with them.” [MORE]

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Stephen Stills on Mitt Romney: 'I Never Thought I'd See a Creepier Politician Than Nixon'

Stephen Stills on Mitt Romney: 'I Never Thought I'd See a Creepier Politician Than Nixon' | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by STEPHEN STILLS, Rolling Stone


Let's take a look at recent history. When was Black Friday? When did the Dow drop 800 points? When was the big heist when all the bank stimulus money was given out with no accountability? Watching Mitt Romney and the Republicans campaigning right now, you'd never know all these things happened during the Bush administration. They speak as if the economy collapsed the day Obama was sworn into office.


Right now, the Dow is at 13,000. It was below 8,000 when the president took office. Job growth is rising. Unemployment is dropping. We desperately need to stay the course with this president.


At the second debate, somebody asked how Bush and Romney differ. I'll give you the answer: Romney's taller, Mormon and a little smarter and meaner. That's about it. I couldn't believe how he acted at that debate. He's a churlish little prick. At least Bush was affable. I don't care if it's a debate and you're running for office. It's not right to be that rude to the President of the United States, let alone anybody else. Also, you don't get offended when you get corrected. Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney has been inside the bubble all his life. He has no idea what's going on here. He has no idea how descructive Bush's eight years were to this country.


After running for years as a hard-right conservative, Romney is sprinting to the center in the final days of the campaign. This shouldn't surprise anyone. He cast himself as a moderate back when he became Governor of Massachusetts. He'll be whatever he thinks he has to be in order to win. He is just raw ambition with no real ideology. Great, he's got ambition. I have the ambition to play quarterback for the New York Jets. It's not gonna happen.


Many people don't understand the obstacles the Republican party has put in the way of President Obama. From day one, they've refused to let him govern. What is the value of the perpetual filibuster? You don't get anything done at all. Mitt's been calling for that since the first day. So we have watered down versions of everything Obama asked for. But the second term will get better. Even Bill Clinton, in the face of all that Ken Starr nonsense, managed to get a lot done in his second term. 


...I think that President Obama has done the best he possibly could during the first term considering that his opposition was willing to do whatever necessary to destroy him, even if it meant damaging the country in the process. I love Obama's calm and dignity. A lot of people confuse that with being aloof, but I know people that have held that job. [MORE]

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Romney's New Auto Ad

Romney's New Auto Ad | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by ANDREW ROSENTHAL, New York Times


The Romney campaign, which announced over the summer that it “wouldn’t be dictated by fact checkers,” is staying true to that promise with a misleading new ad on the auto industry.


“Fact checkers confirm” that President Obama’s “attacks on Mitt Romney are false,” the ad states. “Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China,” it continues. “Mitt Romney will fight for every American job.”


There’s rich irony here. The campaign that doesn’t care about fact checkers invokes fact checkers, and then disregards the facts.


It’s odd for Mr. Romney to complain that Mr. Obama “took” the automakers into bankruptcy, since he advocated a managed bankruptcy for those companies four years ago. It’s also odd for Mr. Romney to claim that he’ll fight for every American job, since he got rich, in part, by investing in companies that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to low-wage countries. And it’s preposterous for him to suggest that Chrysler is moving American jobs to China. As Gualberto Ranieri of Chrysler explained in a blog post, “Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China. [MORE]

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Why can't you know the truth about Iceland?

Why can't you know the truth about Iceland? | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Food for thought about what can be done in a democracy, civilly, safely.


From Wikipedia:

Iceland has a free-market economy with relatively low corporate taxes compared to other OECD countries,[9] while maintaining a Nordic welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens.[10] In recent years, Iceland has become one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world. In 2011, it was ranked as the 14th most developed country in the world by the United Nations' Human Development Index,[3] and the fourth most productive country per capita.[11] In 2008, the nation's entire banking system systemically failed, resulting in substantial political unrest. Iceland ranks high in economic and political stability, though it is still in the process of recovering from the crisis.[12] Gender equality is highly valued in Iceland. In the Global Gender Gap Report 2012, Iceland holds the top spot, closely followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden.[13]

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Billionaires Going Rogue

Billionaires Going Rogue | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

The political parties are losing control of the political dialogue, which might not be as good as it sounds.

 

by THOMAS B. EDSALL, NY Times


If there is one rule of thumb governing campaign finance regulation, or the lack thereof, it is that the consequences of any changes in the system are unpredictable.

 

In 2002, when Congress enacted the McCain-Feingold law barring large “soft money” contributions from corporations, unions and rich people to the political parties, many observers assumed that the Democrats would suffer more. The party had never fully cultivated a small donor base and had consistently been more dependent on mega-contributions than the Republican Party.

 

In less than two years, this assumption was proven wrong. First, in the 2004 election, small donors in droves gave their credit card numbers to the Democratic campaign of John Kerry, and Kerry was able to keep pace with George W. Bush, dollar for dollar. Four years later, the cash flow to Barack Obama swamped John McCain. The Internet, and with it the ability of campaigns to inexpensively reach millions of prospective donors, permanently transformed fundraising.

 

In 2010, campaign finance law was turned on its head. The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and appeals court decisions such as Speech Now v. F.E.C., opened the door to unlimited contributions to technically independent political action committees (super PACs) from corporations, unions and individuals.

 

The result has been a stupefying array of PACs, 501(c)4s and 501(c)6s that even professionals can barely keep track of. The future that Buckley v. Valeo set in motion almost 40 years ago has arrived, and the current multiplicity and multidirectionality of “reform” has overwhelmed both the people and the parties.

 

The virtually unanimous view throughout the course of four decades of revised regulation was that the Republican Party and its candidates would be the major beneficiaries, and, so far, that has been true. [MORE]

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For Romney, Ties That Bind | NY Times

For Romney, Ties That Bind | NY Times | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

By Joe Nocera, NY Times


In 1999, when Mitt Romney was put in charge of organizing the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, there was an unusual company among those angling to be Olympic sponsors. Along with the Coca-Colas and the McDonalds, there was a company called Nu Skin, based in Provo, Utah, that sold anti-aging products and nutritional supplements. Its distribution network is what is called, in the industry, multilevel marketing. Critics have another name for that kind of business: a pyramid scheme.

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Elkind’s story is primarily a rollicking tale of the battle between Nu Skin and a handful of short-sellers, who are betting that the company’s products and practices are headed for trouble. (Herbalife is another multilevel marketing company the shorts have targeted.) But that may be wishful thinking. In the last decade, government investigations into multilevel marketing companies have largely withered away. The reason is that the companies have learned how to make friends with powerful politicians. In 1994, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch from — where else? — Utah sponsored a law, according to Elkind, “that deregulated the nutritional supplement industry, allowing it to sell products without prior F.D.A. review.” Nu Skin expanded into China with the help of Utah’s governor at the time, Jon Huntsman Jr. It put two former senators on its board. Most recently, the F.T.C. promulgated something called the Business Opportunity Rule, which is meant to offer a measure of protection for people who are pitched stay-at-home business opportunities. Incredibly, the multilevel marketing industry was exempted from the rule.


And then there is Mitt Romney, who’s never cut his ties to the industry. Why would he? Industry executives have been generous donors to his presidential campaign. One co-founder of Nu Skin chaired his national finance committee four years ago. Another threw him a fund-raiser.


And Lund, the third co-founder, has donated $3 million to Restore Our Future, the “super-PAC” that is backing Romney. “Mitt Romney is a pretty close friend,” Lund told Elkind. “We have been in his house many times. He and Ann had Thanksgiving at our house one year.”


For Romney, these are the ties that bind.

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