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International monitors at US polling spots draw criticism from voter fraud groups

International monitors at US polling spots draw criticism from voter fraud groups | Coffee Party News |

United Nations-affiliated election monitors from Europe and central Asia will be at polling places around the U.S. looking for voter suppression activities by conservative groups, a concern raised by civil rights groups during a meeting this week.


The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United Nations partner on democratization and human rights projects, will deploy 44 observers from its human rights office around the country on Election Day to monitor an array of activities, including potential disputes at polling places. It's part of a broader observation mission that will send out an additional 80 to 90 members of parliament from nearly 30 countries.

Liberal-leaning civil rights groups met with representatives from the OSCE this week to raise their fears about what they say are systematic efforts to suppress minority voters likely to vote for President Obama.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP and the ACLU, among other groups, warned this month in a letter to Daan Everts, a senior official with OSCE, of “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans — particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.”


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Lawman vs. Showman: "Sheriff Joe" Arpaio Clings to 4-point Lead Over Former Cop Intent on Restoring Public Safety

Lawman vs. Showman: "Sheriff Joe" Arpaio Clings to 4-point Lead Over Former Cop Intent on Restoring Public Safety | Coffee Party News |

Excerpts from article by ALEX SEITZ-WALD, Salon

Paul Penzone, Arpaio’s opponent, is a no-nonsense former undercover cop from Phoenix who was a political independent before Democrats convinced him to run. On the phone, he speaks in the hyper-serious monotone of a highway patrolman handing out a speeding ticket, but his frustration is evident when he talks about what he sees as the mockery that Arpaio has made of his profession, what with the pink underwear, Steven Seagal stunts and — worst of all — tragic mishandling of hundreds of child sex abuse cases. “I take great pride in what law enforcement stands for, the service that it provides for the community … I think the sheriff has misrepresented that and it undermines not only law enforcement, but the safety of our families,” he told Salon.

Turning out the Latino vote is critical, he said. He said that unlike in Arpaio’s sheriff’s office, he worked hard in the Phoenix police department to build trust among the Latino community, “so my relationships are already in place, I’ve already earned their respect.”

With 3 million residents, Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, has almost 60 percent of the state’s entire population. And almost a third of the county’s residents are Hispanic, so their potential impact statewide is enormous. So far, however, many in the community are not registered or do not often turn out to the polls.

Fully 80 percent of Arizona’s Latino population support President Obama, according to a Latino Decisions poll from last week, while about 75 percent are backing Democratic Senate candidate Richard Carmona, a former Green Beret and surgeon general who is mounting a surprisingly competitive bid in the red state. A recent Democratic poll has Carmona up by 4 points over his Republican rival, while he has a narrower lead in polling averages. Obama has stayed fairly competitive as well. There are also at least two competitive House races in districts that include part of Maricopa, the 2nd and 9th districts. But it’s Carmona’s race where the most is on the line.

[READ full article]

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Mitt Romney's Bailout Bonanza

Mitt Romney's Bailout Bonanza | Coffee Party News |

How Mitt and Ann made millions—and Mitt’s hedge fund donors made billions—from the auto-industry rescue that he condemned.

by Greg Palast, The Nation

This investigation was supported by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute and by the Puffin Foundation. Elements of it appear in Palast’s new book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps (Seven Stories). Research assistance by Zach D. Roberts, Ari Paul, Nader Atassi and Eric Wuestewald.

Mitt Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout has haunted him on the campaign trail, especially in Rust Belt states like Ohio. There, in September, the Obama campaign launched television ads blasting Romney’s November 2008 New York Times op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” But Romney has done a good job of concealing, until now, the fact that he and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million from the bailout—and a few of Romney’s most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion. Their gains, and the Romneys’, were astronomical—more than 3,000 percent on their investment.

It all starts with Delphi Automotive, a former General Motors subsidiary whose auto parts remain essential to GM’s production lines. No bailout of GM—or Chrysler, for that matter—could have been successful without saving Delphi. So, in addition to making massive loans to automakers in 2009, the federal government sent, directly or indirectly, more than $12.9 billion to Delphi—and to the hedge funds that had gained control over it.

One of the hedge funds profiting from that bailout—
$1.28 billion so far—is Elliott Management, directed by 
Paul Singer. According to The Wall Street Journal, Singer has given more to support GOP candidates—$2.3 million—than anyone else on Wall Street this election season. His personal giving is matched by that of his colleagues at Elliott; collectively, they have donated $3.4 million to help elect Republicans this season, while giving only $1,650 to Democrats. And Singer is influential with the GOP presidential candidate; he’s not only an informal adviser but, according to the Journal, his support was critical in helping push Representative Paul Ryan onto the ticket. [MORE]

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Tribune Endorsement: Too Many Mitts

Tribune Endorsement: Too Many Mitts | Coffee Party News |

Excerpt from endorsement of Barack Obama by The Salt Lake Tribune

Nowhere has Mitt Romney’s pursuit of the presidency been more warmly welcomed or closely followed than here in Utah.

In considering which candidate to endorse, The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board had hoped that Romney would exhibit the same talents for organization, pragmatic problem solving and inspired leadership that he displayed here more than a decade ago. Instead, we have watched him morph into a friend of the far right, then tack toward the center with breathtaking aplomb. Through a pair of presidential debates, Romney’s domestic agenda remains bereft of detail and worthy of mistrust.

Therefore, our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first. [MORE]

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A True Army Responds to "True the Vote" Intimidation Threats

A True Army Responds to "True the Vote" Intimidation Threats | Coffee Party News |
by Brentin Mock and Voting Rights Watch 2012 for The Nation

Whatever shenanigans True the Vote and their tea party cells had or has in plans for November will run up against a brick wall in the form of civil rights lawyers and government officials who are striking back against threats to corrupt voting rights. News reports from across the nation this week are showing a formidable resistance to True the Vote’s operations, which include recruiting “a million” poll watchers and poll workers, and making voters feel “like driving and seeing the police follow you.”

It’s clear at this point that they won’t come anywhere close to a million, but whoever they recruit will be met at the polls by a much larger squad, an election protection team consisting of thousands of lawyers and poll watchers trained to answer any questions voters may have if approached or challenged by tea partiers who try to kirk out at the polls.

A few examples:

  • A group of Ohio state senators sent a letter to Sec. of State Jon Husted warning him of plans from True the Vote and their state affiliate Ohio Voter Integrity Project to challenge voters illegally. Sec. Husted responded by stating “he will act swiftly to investigate and seek prosecution of any offenders,” of voter intimidation, as reported by the Columbus Dispatch.

  • The Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR) released a report about True the Vote’s infiltration and influence throughout the North Carolina electoral landscape, particularly through their local affiliate North Carolina Voter Integrity Project. While True the Vote says that they don’t target communities of color, the IREHR has mapped out predominantly African American communities where it reports True the Vote’s recruits will be focused (see above). The report prompted Rep. Elijah Cummings to issue yet another demand for True the Vote's procedural documents. 

  • The labor group AFL-CIO held a conference call this morning where it discussed the deployment of its Lawyers Coordinating Committee, part of their My Vote, My Right voter protection program. Lawyers from Florida, Pennsylvania and Nevada described how they have already been fending off challenges and voter suppression efforts from True the Vote and their affiliates, well in advance of Election Day. Florida attorney Alma Gonzalez said their lawyer team is in regular communications with all but one of Florida’s county elections supervisors about True the Vote and have successfully blunted purges demanded by True the Vote’s recruits — the lone standout being Collier County, where purging has commenced. Said Gonzalez, “We have also communicated directly to True the Vote and (their local affiliate) Tampa Vote Fair that we are ready and we are watching them. We will also have poll monitors where we have seen Tampa Vote Fair's efforts undertaken in order to protect those voters in those areas.” [MORE]

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Mitt Romney Small Business Town Hall with NFIB - June 6, 2012

Governor Mitt Romney answers questions from small business owners in this recorded presidential candidate town hall series sponsored by NFIB. [MORE]

In Conference Call, Romney Urged Businesses To Tell Their Employees How to Vote 

by MIKE ELK, In These Tiimes

In a June 6, 2012 conference call posted on the anti-union National Federation of Independent Business’s website, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney instructed employers to tell their employees how to vote in the upcoming election.

Romney was addressing a group of self-described "small-business owners." Twenty-six minutes into the call, after making a lengthy case that President Obama's first term has been bad for business, Romney said:

"I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections. And whether you agree with me or you agree with President Obama, or whatever your political view, I hope, I hope you pass those along to your employees."

The call raises the question of whether the Romney campaign is complicit in the corporate attempts to influence employees' votes that have been recently making headlines. On Sunday, In These Times broke the news that Koch Industries mailed at least 45,000 employees a voter information packet that included a flyer endorsing Romney and a letter warning, “Many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences [of a bad election result], including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills.” Last week, Gawker obtained an email in which the CEO of Westgate Resorts, Florida billionaire David Siegel, informed his 7,000 employees that an Obama victory would likely lead to layoffs at his company. This week, MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes unveiled an email by ASG Software Solutions CEO Arthur Allen in which he, too, warned employees that an Obama second term would spell layoffs.

In the June call, Romney went on to reassure his audience that it is perfectly legal for them to talk to their employees about how to vote:

"Nothing illegal about you talking to your employees about what you believe is best for the business, because I think that will figure into their election decision, their voting decision and of course doing that with your family and your kids as well."

He's correct that such speech is now legal for the first time ever, thanks to the Citizen United ruling, which overturned previous Federal Election Commission laws that prohibited employers from political campaigning among employees. [MORE]

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Debate of third-party candidates on tap

CHICAGO, Oct. 18, (UPI)

Ballot-qualified, third-party contenders for the U.S. presidency will hold their own debate next week in Chicago and stream it live on the Internet.

Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson confirmed they will participate Tuesday in the only debate among third-party candidates in Chicago, The Christian Science Monitor reported Wednesday.

Former CNN host Larry King will moderate the 90-minute forum that will stream live on YouTube and Internet television network

The third-party candidates' debate represents American democracy at work, said Christina Tobin, co-moderator of the debate and founder of the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, the Chicago non-profit sponsoring the debate.

"This debate is really about the fact that all elections should be free and equal," Tobin told the Monitor. [MORE]


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Housing Starts Jump 15% to Four-Year U.S. High: Economy

Housing Starts Jump 15% to Four-Year U.S. High: Economy | Coffee Party News |

by Alex Kowalski and Prashant Gopal, Bloomberg

Housing starts in the U.S. surged 15 percent in September to the highest level in four years, adding to signs of a revival in the industry at the heart of the financial crisis.

Beginning home construction jumped last month to an 872,000 annual rate, the fastest since July 2008 and exceeding all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. An increase in building permits may mean the gains will be sustained.

“It’s no longer a question of whether the industry is rebounding,” Larry Sorsby, chief financial officer of Red Bank, New Jersey-based Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (HOV), the best-performing homebuilding stock this year, said in a telephone interview today. “There is clear evidence that we have bounced off the bottom and are in the midst of a recovery.” [MORE]

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Green Party's Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala Arrested Attempting to Enter Hofstra Debate - Democracy Now! was on the scene at Hoftra University on Long Island as Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, and her vice-preside...
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My response to Michael Charney's response to my Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative Essay

My response to Michael Charney's response to my Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative Essay | Coffee Party News |


TONIGHT on Coffee Party Radio, Michael and I will start The Middle Ground at a special time: 7:30 pm ET. We'll go for the 90 minutes leading up to the second Presidential Debate.  CLICK HERE to listen live, or call in at 646-929-2495.  Our topic: "Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative."

This is an email from me to Michael Charney re. Charney's latest blog which was a response to my blog, both in preparation for tonight's radio show.

Everything you wrote was perfectly clear and delightfully illuminating, except that I haven't read The Fountainhead so the absurdity of the contrast was somewhat lost on me.  I love the point that it's no fault of the term, but a fault of the loose way that people use it, that we aren't sure quite what it means.  

I do think we're on to something.  I fully realize that the "who's not" socially moderate & fiscally responsible is the shrinking Republican base. As I often say, the ruling class knows this group is shrinking, that's why such drastic measures are being taken to bolster its influence with money and all that it buys, including new voter suppression laws and Supreme Court decrees like "Citizens United."    

But, if the People can counter Big Money + Big Media with massive participation + social media, the inevitability that the former is meant to prevent will not be preventable.   I know that social conservatives seem ferocious right now. They yell at us, they threaten us, they bring guns to public meetings, and of course they vote.  But truly, where would they be without Big Money + Big Media?  The only reason that the ruling class invests in BM + BM (and uses it to provoke conflict on social issues) is that it wins elections.  What if it didn't? The changes I predict  could happen much faster than you might think.    

Right now, BM + BM is unnaturally inflating the power and the intensity of social conservatism.  Sure, I know it's out there, but I believe that social conservatism could not, in today's America, continue to be a national organizing principle without Fox News and the Republican party manipulating and provoking us.   If the Fox News/GOP establishment decided that stoking social conservatism is no longer a winning formula, they would change their script, shoot a different movie, and, offer different candidates.  (Or, they could offer the same candidates reading a different script).  They'd push the Republican base, and thereby their candidates toward the gradual changes you mention.  

They'd seek to build a coalition that includes constituencies that are not shrinking, and will always be there, for instance, socially-liberal-fiscally-responsible people.  Then, the choices we'd be focusing upon would be filled with substance rather than bluster.  They'd fall between where you see things and I see things, or, where Jon Huntsman wants to take the country and Hillary Clinton wants to take it.  Wouldn't that be nice?  

Some things I want to cover in tonight's radio show:  

  • Where do you and I disagree, let's try to fight about it! (=
  • Why isn't the Libertarian party the answer?
  • Is there really no such thing as a fiscal liberal? 
  • It seems we've created a new tent that begins with the premise that social conservatives are icky and money in politics is bad.  Is that a coalition to build upon, or does it just seem that way because we feel passionately about it?
  • Are we stumbling upon the formula that can heal the country after the election and gradually put our country on a sustained right track?


READ the original essay by Eric Byler

READ the Michael Charney response

LISTEN to The Middle Ground with Michael Charney & Eric Byler tonight (10/16) at 7:30 pm ET

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Goldman CEO: Sure, I'd Pay 5% More In Taxes To Help Our Great Nation Avoid Fiscal Cliff

Goldman CEO: Sure, I'd Pay 5% More In Taxes To Help Our Great Nation Avoid Fiscal Cliff | Coffee Party News |

by Kim Dixon, Reuters

Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein on Thursday became the latest big-name business leader to pledge to pay a steeper tax rate - 5 percent more, he said - in exchange for a long-term bipartisan deal in Congress to keep the country from falling off the "fiscal cliff."

Blankfein is part of a group of corporate executives who have raised nearly $30 million to support a deal to avoid the nearly $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect at the end of the year.

Asked if he would pay 5 percent more in taxes if it became necessary for Congress to reach a deal, he said "Of course ... I don't know anybody who wouldn't."

Blankfein, who characterized his political views as "center left," was interviewed Thursday along with Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson on CNBC.

Blankfein also said there would be a "huge" positive impact on the economy if a bipartisan compromise were reached.

"I'd be a buyer of the market," he said. [MORE]

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The Odd Case of the Undecided Fiscal Conservative/Social Liberal

The Odd Case of the Undecided Fiscal Conservative/Social Liberal | Coffee Party News |

[Note:  Tonight Tuesday 10/16, The Middle Ground airs at a special time -- 7:30 PM EST.  We will host a call-in discussion on the topic of what it means to be Fiscally Conservative and Socially Liberal.  Here, falling like manna from heaven, is an article on that very topic....]


The undecided voters quoted in this James Fallows post don’t have very good arguments for their indecision. One wrote:

"For example, I’m fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. So my quandary is choosing which set of policies are more important to me, and to the country, this time around."

Judging from the voter’s ideological self-identification and his reported history of presidential voting, it’s clear that this person is a moderate Republican and normally a reliable Republican voter (except in ’88, ’92 and ’08). “Fiscally conservative, socially liberal” is the standard way for moderate Republicans to describe themselves, and like many other usually reliable Republican voters they are under the illusion that the Republican Party is fiscally conservative. The main reason that this voter is in a quandary seems to be that he thinks the Republican ticket has something to do with fiscal conservatism, but his past votes for president suggest that fiscal conservatism isn’t very important to him. For instance, no one votes for the fiscally irresponsible Bush in 2004 to express support for an extremely costly and unnecessary war if one is concerned with being fiscally conservative.

What’s particularly odd in this person’s voting record is that he never voted for the elder Bush (probably the Republican candidate most in line with his stated preferences), voted against Clinton’s re-election “on grounds of integrity,” and then voted for Bush’s re-election to express support for the Iraq war. According to the way he described himself, he has consistently voted for the wrong candidate in almost every election, and he has done so for reasons that don’t fit the description of “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” at all.

He voted third-party in 1988, which suggests that he would be open to doing so again. Gary Johnson would seem to be the most obvious candidate for this voter, but Johnson’s name is never mentioned and a third-party vote is never even raised as a possibility. I take this as one more piece of anecdotal evidence that “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” Republicans are not meaningfully “libertarian.” When presented with a credible Libertarian candidate as an alternative, these voters will tend not to support him despite the apparent unacceptability of the major party candidates. If someone truly is “fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” he certainly should vote for Johnson, but the vast majority of those that describe themselves this way will typically end up backing a Republican ticket that doesn’t represent their stated preferences in the slightest. [MORE]

Via Michael Charney
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At The Vice Presidential Debate: Ryan Told 24 Myths In 40 Minutes

At The Vice Presidential Debate: Ryan Told 24 Myths In 40 Minutes | Coffee Party News |

At The Vice Presidential Debate: Ryan Told 24 Myths In 40 Minutes, not quite measuring up to Mitt Romney's rate of 27 myths in 38 minutes. Will Romney top Ryan again in Obama rematch?

by Igor Volsky, Think Progress

Paul Ryan spoke for 40 of the 90 minutes during Thursday night’s vice presidential debate and managed to tell at least 24 myths during that time:

  1. “It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that [the Libya attack] was a terrorist attack.” Obama used the word “terrorism” to describe the killing of Americans the very next day at the Rose Garden. “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for,” Obama said in a Rose Garden statement on September 12.
  2. “The administration was blocking us every step of the way. Only because we had strong bipartisan support for these tough [Iran] sanctions were we able to overrule their objections and put them in spite of the administration.” Even the Israeli President has effusively praised President Obama’s leadership on getting American and international sanctions on Iran, which have significantly slowed Iran’s progress.
  3. “Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts.” [T]he possibility of Medicare going bankrupt is — and historically has been — greatly exaggerated. In fact, if no changes are made, Medicare would still be able to meet 88 percent of its obligations in 2085. Social Security is fully funded for another two decades and could pay 75 percent of its benefits thereafter. There is also an easy way to ensure the program’s long-term solvency without large changes or cuts to benefits.
  4. “The vice president was in charge of overseeing this. $90 billion in green pork to campaign contributors and special interest groups.” Multiple reviews, including an independent review of all Department Of Energy loan programs by Herb Allison –- finance chair for McCain for President 2008 –- have found no “pork” in the stimulus’ funding of green projects, concluding that the loans were not steered to friends or family, as Ryan claims.
  5. “Was it a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on electric cars in Finland, or on windmills in China?” As PolitiFact has pointed out, the money for electric cars in Finland did not come from the stimulus. Rather, it originated with the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, which predated the Obama administration. The claim about “windmills in China” is also inaccurate. [MORE]
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Civil Rights Today: The Landmark Case of Adkins et. al. v. Morgan Stanley

by John Powell, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society


On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Morgan Stanley in what may become the most important civil rights case in a generation. If successful, the implications of this suit are profound and the impact could be staggering, both in addressing the damages suffered by devastated communities as a result of predatory lending triggering the foreclosure crisis and the symbolic importance of framing these damages as civil rights violations. [MORE]

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Politics Done Right With Egberto Willies today, Sat. 10/20 at 1 pm ET

Politics Done Right With Egberto Willies today, Sat. 10/20 at 1 pm ET | Coffee Party News |

by Egberto Willies

President Obama brought his game to the second Presidential debate. Mitt Romney continued with his bully antics and at one point told the President to pretty much shut up as he would have his turn.

POLITICS DONE RIGHT with Egberto Willies

Saturdays at 1 pm ET (10 am PT)

Call 646-929-2495 to join the conversation

Or CLICK HERE to listen live

The debate was intense. President Obama was much more assertive and commanding than I expected. However, true to form many of the commentators at CNN initially called the President’s intensity angry and aggressive. Note that Romney’s behavior in the first debate was described as assertive and commanding. When I wrote the blog post “President Obama’s Fear of the Angry Black Man Label Loses the Debate On Style But Wins On Facts” I got some push back. CNN proved the point in real time. I immediately started tweeting both Wolf Blitzer and Jessica Yellin about it and I sent them a link to the blog post. It is essential that when the mainstream media is distorting the narrative that they get real time pushback.

Let us discuss the debate, the polls, and the dangers that are looming with this election.

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Mitt Romney’s Trickle -Down Government Nonsense

Mitt Romney’s Trickle -Down Government Nonsense | Coffee Party News |

By now most intelligent voters have caught on to the fact that the whole trickle- down theory has been pretty thoroughly discredited. Most people have understood that rewarding the super wealthy has not led to an increase in jobs. In fact, much of the money derived from the Bush tax cuts was apparently stowed away in offshore accounts in the Cayman islands or in Swiss banks. If the trickle-down theory actually worked, then we would have seen some sign of its success after ten years.

So Romney’s idea? Continue with the same policy but re-frame the debate by changing the catch-phrases. Now it’s trickle-down government.

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Where conservative capitalism breaks down: Three primary sources of free market failure

Where conservative capitalism breaks down: Three primary sources of free market failure | Coffee Party News |

by Scott Cooney, The Inspired Economist

Adam Smith’s theories were groundbreaking…for the 18th century. In the 18th century, there were less than 1 billion people on earth, and resources like wood, coal, land, clean water, and others likely seemed limitless. If Smith lived today, his theories would likely have taken into account three main sources of free market failure:

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The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent

The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent | Coffee Party News |

The top 1 percent cannot evade its share of responsibility for the growing gulf in American society.


IN the early 14th century, Venice was one of the richest cities in Europe. At the heart of its economy was the colleganza, a basic form of joint-stock company created to finance a single trade expedition. The brilliance of the colleganza was that it opened the economy to new entrants, allowing risk-taking entrepreneurs to share in the financial upside with the established businessmen who financed their merchant voyages.

Venice’s elites were the chief beneficiaries. Like all open economies, theirs was turbulent. Today, we think of social mobility as a good thing. But if you are on top, mobility also means competition. In 1315, when the Venetian city-state was at the height of its economic powers, the upper class acted to lock in its privileges, putting a formal stop to social mobility with the publication of the Libro d’Oro, or Book of Gold, an official register of the nobility. If you weren’t on it, you couldn’t join the ruling oligarchy.

The political shift, which had begun nearly two decades earlier, was so striking a change that the Venetians gave it a name: La Serrata, or the closure. It wasn’t long before the political Serrata became an economic one, too. Under the control of the oligarchs, Venice gradually cut off commercial opportunities for new entrants. Eventually, the colleganza was banned. The reigning elites were acting in their immediate self-interest, but in the longer term, La Serrata was the beginning of the end for them, and for Venetian prosperity more generally. By 1500, Venice’s population was smaller than it had been in 1330. In the 17th and 18th centuries, as the rest of Europe grew, the city continued to shrink. [MORE]

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"Please proceed, Gov. Romney" — My thoughts on the 2nd presidential debate without seeing any of the spin

"Please proceed, Gov. Romney" — My thoughts on the 2nd presidential debate without seeing any of the spin | Coffee Party News |


The headline for me after the first debate was that Gov. Romney looked "presidential" before an audience of 70 million and erased the damage of his mistake-prone campaign. Political professionals later confirmed my impression. I liked how Tom Brokaw said that Romney had elevated himself to a "plausible alternative" for mainstream America, and that this was reflected in the polls. Brokaw also said that he thought it was "good for America" that Romney won the first debate, because it made it very likely that even more people would watch the second one and the third. I had had the same thought.  

I also talked about how Gov. Romney seemed to have a lot more passion than Obama. This, for me, overshadowed the substance of the debate.  

In tonight's debate Obama and Romney appeared equally passionate about winning the election, and this allowed the substance to take center stage.  I thought of Brokaw. This is good for America.  

For me the most important exchange came during the discussion of the tragic loss of our Libya Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other heroes on Sept. 11.  Mitt Romney started to blurt out a falsehood that, in my judgement, wouldn't help him very much even if it were true. But it's the symbolic impact of what happened next that will stay with me, and I believe, most who see this debate.    

As I recall it, President Obama started to protest — drilled as he was by his advisers not to let Romney get away with speaking mistruths. But, in the flash of an instant, Obama must have thought to himself: "Whoa, he doesn't know that he is about to lie."  Obama held his tongue.  "Please proceed, Governor," he said.

Romney did proceed, and with smarmy relish told a cynical and politically-motivated lie — one of those Republican echo chamber lies that are easily disprovable in the real world but repeated on Fox "News" so often that politicians feel comfortable repeating them as well. The lie goes something like this: President Obama refused to "admit" that Ambassador Stevens had lost his life in a terrorist attack, whereas Romney had jumped to that conclusion immediately (I suppose that this qualifies me to be president, because it was my first guess too).  

Of course, Obama did call it a terrorist attack the day after it happened. I knew that. And, I thought to myself, "Here we go again, the fact-checkers will chew Romney up after the debate."  But then something unexpected happened.  CNN's Candy Crowley made a courageous choice as moderator.  She injected the historical record into the debate, and confirmed what Obama was implying with his body language: Romney had just lied.  

As it happened, the most significant moment in Crowley's career as a journalist was one of many tonight during which she was being talked over, in this case by Romney. This gave the President a chance to say, "Can you repeat that, Candy?"  

She did repeat it.  And for me, the debate was over.    

It's not that this one question of how or whether the Libya tragedy will be exploited politically will decide who won the 2nd presidential debate. It's that this moment will be remembered each time there is a disagreement between the two campaigns about what the historical record will show. And, this will happen a lot over the next few weeks, again and again and again.   

"Please proceed, Gov. Romney."  It's almost as if We the People discovered an antidote to one of the most frustrating things about 21st century politics — the practice of basing a campaign, not on what is true, but on what you can make people believe.  Now, that practice is going to pay a little bit less of a dividend. Perhaps we'll see less of it, if not in this cycle, in the next one. If so, this will certainly be good for America.

Margaret Reeve Panahi's comment, October 17, 2012 2:21 PM
Thanks for this.
Michael Charney's comment, October 17, 2012 2:32 PM
You're welcome, Margaret.
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Scott’s Story and the Election

Scott’s Story and the Election | Coffee Party News |

by NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, The New York Times 


The experience of a college friend who lacked health insurance has lessons for us and our country.


I wrote in my last column about my uninsured college roommate, Scott Androes, and his battle with Stage 4 prostate cancer — and a dysfunctional American health care system. I was taken aback by how many readers were savagely unsympathetic.

A Possibly Fatal Mistake

The story of a seriously ill friend who quit his job and had no insurance shows me why we need Obamacare. With it, he might have gone to a doctor in time.

“Your friend made a foolish choice, and actions have consequences,” one reader said in a Twitter message.

As my column noted, Scott had a midlife crisis and left his job in the pension industry to read books and play poker, surviving on part-time work (last year, he earned $13,000). To save money, he skipped health insurance.

A year ago, he encountered difficulties urinating and didn’t see a doctor in part because of the cost. By the time the prostate cancer was detected, it had spread to his bones.

“I blew it,” Scott told me several times. He repeatedly acknowledged that he should have bought insurance and should have seen a doctor as soon as his symptoms appeared. [MORE]


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The second presidential debate in graphs

The second presidential debate in graphs | Coffee Party News |

Posted by Suzy Khimm, Sarah Kliff, Dylan Matthews, Brad Plumer, Washington Post Wonkblog

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney tossed out plenty of statements and figures in the second presidential debate on Tuesday. Many of them were ripe for charting. So we’ve compiled some graphs that help add context for some of our favorite moments in the debate.

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U.S. families' debt loads decline to pre-recession levels

U.S. families' debt loads decline to pre-recession levels | Coffee Party News |

by Don Lee, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON - After a long period of consumer retrenchment, U.S. families have cut their once-out-of-control debt loads down to pre-recession levels, largely removing one major obstacle to a faster economic recovery.

The amount of home mortgages, credit card debt and most other consumer liabilities now stands on par with 2006 or earlier, according to calculations by Moody's Analytics. The notable exception is student loans, which have skyrocketed in recent years, with people flooding into schools and college costs soaring.

Overall, households today are paying less than 16% of after-tax income to cover debt payments and lease obligations, the smallest share since 1984, Federal Reserve data show. [MORE]

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Fiscally Responsible, Socially Moderate? You May Just Be an Obama Republican

Fiscally Responsible, Socially Moderate? You May Just Be an Obama Republican | Coffee Party News |

PODCAST on Coffee Party Radio: "Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative."  

Excerpt from Socially Liberal/Fiscally Conservative essay by Eric Byler

I recently heard Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio ask Maya Macguineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget if it is true that fiscal responsibility is a Republican issue. She said no; it’s the issue for whichever party is not in power. Perhaps so, but if fiscal responsibility is a Republican principle only (or at all), why was their no mention of deficit or debt on Fox “News” during the George W. Bush administration, when we turned Bill Clinton’s record surpluses into record deficits, when open-ended occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan added $1.38 trillion (and counting) to our national debt, when we implemented a wasteful prescription drug program without paying for it, and when we initiated the Bush Tax Cuts which, if you count ONLY the benefits afforded to the wealthiest 5% and exclude the rest, have added $1.15 trillion to our debt? How is it that our federal deficit and mounting debt suddenly became the centerpiece of political entertainment on Jan. 20, 2009, the day Barack Obama was sworn in as president?

In the summer of 2011, while watching an expertly-staged and beautifully-acted miniseries called The Debt Ceiling Hostage Crisis, I learned that Senator Barack Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2006 in order to embarrass President Bush. I didn’t hear about it at the time. Did you? Perhaps that is because, in order to penetrate mainstream consciousness, political theater requires a massive and constant distribution mechanism. The perception that “fiscal responsibility is a Republican issue” is little more than a plank in the GOP campaign platform. Supporting that platform is the design of media empires who spend vast amounts of money to have you believe it. That doesn't make it true.

...President Obama has been maligned for, upon inheriting a massive deficit and an imploding economy, advocating for new spending and additional tax cuts like those contained in the “stimulus” program. Please note: these were temporary spending increases and temporary tax cuts, unlike the on-going expenditures signed into law by Bush which add to our debt each year (see chart). Of course, this fact hasn’t prevented Republican media empires and their spokespersons in Congress from blaming the entire deficit and the entire debt on Obama. People like Paul Ryan, who practically spit when they say the word "stimulus," always fail to mention that he and other severe conservatives in Congress voted for a stimulus program that was $700 billion, nearly as large as the $816 billion package that passed without them. And, if you apply a long-term view to the decision to spend this money instead of allowing a global depression to take root, you might even say that spending that $816 billion was the fiscally responsible thing to do. [MORE]

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Coffee Party holds mock wedding between corporate-person groom and human bride

Coffee Party holds mock wedding between corporate-person groom and human bride | Coffee Party News |

by Daniel Patrick Sheehan, The Morning Call

Allentown's wedding of the year — a satirical union of a big business and a human bride aimed squarely at the notion of corporate personhood — ended badly Monday afternoon as the groom jilted his intended right there at the bar of the Crocodile Rock nightclub.

It was a surprise turn to the event sponsored by the Lehigh Valley chapter of the activist Coffee Party USA. The groom, Elijah LoPinto, playing a faceless multinational entity called Engulf & Devour Inc., tore off his skintight black mask and said he couldn't go through with it — not while the law was cracking down on his fellow anarchists and activists instead of the corporate criminals who have led the nation to its sorry state.

It was a measure of the Coffee Party's loosey-goosey nature that no one could tell if LoPinto's abrupt break with character was all part of the show.

But it didn't matter, really, because the absurdist point had already been made. The activists had organized the wedding to call attention to the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 ruling that it is unconstitutional to restrict independent expenditures — ads calling for the election or defeat of a candidate — by corporations, unions and advocacy groups.

That ruling, rooted in the idea that such entities have the same free speech rights as individuals, has opened the door to unprecedented spending by well-heeled groups supporting this candidate or that — a situation that the Coffee Party and other groups contend has choked off the voice of the ordinary voter and left government at the mercy of the rich.

In joining Engulf & Devour to the bride, said Lizz Devine, a photographer from Hellertown, the Coffee Party was carrying the argument to its logical conclusion: If corporations and unions are essentially people, then why can't they marry? [MORE]

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Coffee Party Radio tonight 8 pm Pacific: The GOP economic argument = "acting like someone else did what?"

Coffee Party Radio tonight 8 pm Pacific: The GOP economic argument = "acting like someone else did what?" | Coffee Party News |
"Love how the GOP, after bringing the economy to the brink of ruin in 2008, are now acting like someone else farted."  Andy Borowitz
Mr. Borowitz' humor is duly appreciated, but can someone please come up with a more pleasant analogy?!?  Today on Facebook and CP Originals, and tonight on Speaking of America (8 to 10 pm Pacific), we're holding a contest to see who can come up with the best, less-gross way of encapsulating this complex idea that half of American seem to be missing.
Time and time again during the first two debates, the Republican strategy has relied entirely on a spell that causes mass amnesia when it comes to the fact that the Bush Recession actually began during the Bush administration.
This graphic speaks for itself doesn't it? Common sense tells us that economic policies do not have immediate impact. In the chart above, for instance, the Recovery Act and rescue of the auto industry do not immediately lead to positive private sector job growth numbers. The impact is gradual, and, it takes about a year before our country is adding private sector jobs at a healthy rate. Are we better off than we were four years ago? Romney and Ryan have all these clever ways of saying no. But see if you can find October 2008 in this chart, and you tell us how best to explain the truth to the American people in a comment below or on our FB page, or in an few paragraphs on Coffee Party originalsOr better yet, call 646-929-2495 between 8 pm and 10 pm Pacific tonight and tell me on the air!

Mondays from 8 to 10 pm Pacific time (11 pm to 1 am Eastern)
CLICK HERE to listen live on line
Or call (646) 929-2496 to add your voice

Today we'll be reading your comments and posts, and tonight we'll be taking your calls to find the Better-than-a-fart-joke Messaging Champion of 2012. There will be prize winners for funniest, most concise, and most convincing. You can win books, CD's, DVD's, and films made by Coffee Party leaders.
Margaret Reeve Panahi's comment, October 15, 2012 8:49 PM
Thank you for posting this.-Margaret