Day: October 25, 2010

Eight False Things the Public “Knows” Prior to Election Day

Truthout

There are a number of things the public “knows” as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.

Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush’s last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama’s first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.
Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the “stimulus” was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.

Reality: While many people conflate the “stimulus” with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be “non-reviewable by any court or any agency.”) The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn’t work.
Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.
Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.
Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is “going broke,” people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.
Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8) Government spending takes money out of the economy.
Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on “welfare” and “foreign aid” when that is only a small part of the government’s budget.

This stuff really matters.

If the public votes in a new Congress because a majority of voters think this one tripled the deficit, and as a result the new people follow the policies that actually tripled the deficit, the country could go broke.

If the public votes in a new Congress that rejects the idea of helping to create demand in the economy because they think it didn’t work, then the new Congress could do things that cause a depression.

If the public votes in a new Congress because they think the health care reform will increase the deficit when it is actually projected to reduce the deficit, then the new Congress could repeal health care reform and thereby make the deficit worse. And on it goes.

Meg Whitman’s Sons’ Racism and Entitlement Were Stuff of Legend

Gawker

Meg Whitman‘s sons, Griff and Will Harsh, have been kicked out of prep schools, an eating club, dormitories, and Princeton’s class of 2008, say people who know them. One incident involving the n-word is already internet famous.

Yesterday we documented big brother Griff’s beer-throwing and sheltered ways. Today, a glimpse at Will Harsh’s little brother blues—and how he compensated with white entitlement, according to a tipster/commenter and classmate:

Griff’s non-refundable membership to Cottage [eating club] was paid in full when he got suspended. So some of the officers would let Will attend some meals and formals events in his brother’s place until Will got banned from there.

The story goes that Will yelled “what are all these niggers doing here” one night when all the members of the Black Arts Company where there to celebrate a show they had performed. Cottage is known as one of the whiter clubs on campus so I assume that he was shocked to see so many black people there in a night. He was already on notice with Cottage officers because of an altercation he started with a bouncer early in the year.

This account varies from Guest of a Guest’s version, which has Will hurling the n-word at a specific person. Unless, of course, there was more than one epithet-related ban?

Sources say Will was kicked out of two prep schools (one New England boarding school and one local private school) and was eventually forced to endure the humiliation of—gasp!—public high school.

While we’re on the subject of scholarship, here’s another item on Griff, which is actually quite sad:

Griff didn’t walk at graduation. I was one of the students working the checkout fair and was responsible for giving students their cap/gowns. Griff wouldn’t take one because he said that he would be traveling.

Sure, walking at graduation is overrated, especially if it’s outdoors and you’re trapped in the sun in one of those awful, heavy black gowns. But there’s something profound about the scion of one of the university’s most generous and celebrated donors declining to walk. Was it too embarrassing? To him, or to his mother? (And, more powerfully: Why?) Or did Griff simply not care enough to move his vacation back a couple days? By his senior year, Griff may have tuned out on campus life, anyway—he had allegedly been banned from living in the dorms, including the $30M residential complex his mother built.

Continuing reading…

Charity Roundup: People Practice Random Acts Of Kindness Around The Country

Huffington Post

When was the last time you practiced a random act of kindness? MSNBC reports that as Thanksgiving approaches, a few Americans are showing their gratitude by giving back to others without any expectations.

The random givers include HuffPost favorites Magnus Knudsen, the World Trade Center mystery donor and a formerly homeless couple.

 

Speculation: 2012 – How Sarah Barracuda Becomes President

New York Magazine

Why do you think Barack Obama is being so nice to Michael Bloomberg?

On a pale-gold mid-October afternoon, Sarah Palin takes the stage at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, and the faithful are ready for her. The crowd, 1,500 strong, is mostly white, on the older side, and casually dressed—though in my row there’s a hulking young Samoan in full Revolutionary War regalia. For the past hour, the audience has been treated to a series of warm-up acts that aren’t your typical Northern California fare: a choir called Celestial City; the head of the outfit sponsoring the event, the Liberty & Freedom Foundation, who speaks of a conservative “reawakening”; and a local talk-radio host whose shtick is that of a bargain-basement Glenn Beck, replete with attacks on Karl Marx, Richard Nixon (for creating the EPA), Nancy Pelosi, and, of course, “Barack Hussein Obama.”

Palin’s own brand of performance art is no less barbed and no more subtle, but still infinitely fascinating. In a deep-blue jacket and tight black skirt, she uncorks a 40-minute soliloquy that is equal parts populism, moralism, stand-up comedy, and free association, all rendered in a syntax as fractured as Joe Theismann’s tibia after Lawrence Taylor got through with him. She doles out personal, if possibly fictitious, anecdotes that position her, despite the millions she has pocketed in the past two years, as a defiantly downscale girl: that she and Todd drove their motor home from Wasilla to Los Angeles (distance: 3,375 miles) to watch Bristol on Dancing With the Stars. She winks (metaphorically) at her pop-culture image, snapping off a “you betcha” and later declaring, “November 2 is right around the corner—I can see it from my house!” She rails against union bosses who are “thugs” and “elitist billionaires who are funding the leftist agenda,” while gaily mocking Obama, Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, and Jerry Brown: “They act like they’re permanent residents of some unicorn ranch in fantasyland.” She invokes the California of old as a paradise lost and declares that it must be regained: “I want you all to get to yell ‘Eureka’ in this Golden State of opportunity.” And she cites Ronald Reagan in promising the same for the country: “If we do our part, as President Reagan said … the great confident roar of American progress, growth, and optimism will resound again!”      Continue reading…

Foreclosure Fairy Dust

Is Bank of America a miracle worker? (Not.)

Slate

Did Bank of America really review 102,000 foreclosures in two and a half weeks? Yeah, right.

On Oct. 1 Bank of America said it would temporarily halt foreclosures in the 23 states where foreclosures require a court proceeding so that it might review the seizures in light of reports about industry-wide irregularities. (See my previous column, “Ask George Bailey.”) The bank pledged to “amend all affidavits in foreclosure cases that have not yet gone to judgment.”

Seventeen days later, the bank said it had completed its review in these 23 states and would resume foreclosures starting Oct. 25. (It will continue the review it began Oct. 8 of the remaining 27 states where foreclosures do not require a court proceeding—and where the likelihood that anyone will care about fake notarizations, missing documents, and the like is therefore more remote.) In effect, the bank said on Oct. 18 that it had reviewed 102,000 foreclosures, figured out whatever may have been wrong with them, and was ready to get back to the business of seizing and selling off these delinquent properties.

The foreclosure crisis was brought on by bluffing and corner-cutting banks (or foreclosure mills subcontracting for those banks) that had too many defaults to process at once. Might a similar bluffing and corner-cutting be the hallmark of Bank of America’s Evelyn Wood-style review? One can’t be certain, but three clues suggest the answer is “yes.”

Continue reading bullet points…

Six Things O’Donnell Could Do After The Election

Newsweek

While Christine O’Donnell appears to have avoided campaign-crashing gaffes in last night’s Delaware Senate debate, her chances in the race appear to be fading. Although interest remains high, she trails Democrat Chris Coons by an increasing margin, and she claims the National Republican Senatorial Committee has quit helping her.

As has been well reported, she has had money problems, including debt and an IRS lien. So if she isn’t able to come back, how might O’Donnell spend her time after Nov.

(1) Go Back to School: O’Donnell famously claimed she had gone to Oxford University, when in fact she had attended an outside institute’s summer program there. Before that, she said she’d graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson long before she actually did. And she suggested that she was taking classes for a master’s at Princeton, which she was not. So why not use the down time to actually pick up a few extra credentials. (Potential flaw: this could lead to more debt in the short term.)

(2) Open a Wicca Supply Store: By now, everyone agrees, she’s not a witch (more contentious is whether she’s you). But she’s also well positioned to take advantage of the link between her name and witchcraft. It’s not like Dan Aykroyd was a real bluesman before he opened the House of Blues in 1992. Why not open a store specializing in pentagrams and the like?

(3) Get Married: O’Donnell told CNN in 1998 that wives should “graciously submit” to their husbands. Recently, she said she’s “currently accepting applications for a husband,” and that makes some sense: if she had a benevolent, controlling man in her life, he could dictate a path for her, and she wouldn’t have to deal with figuring out what’s next.

(4) Become a Scientist: As Gandhi said, you have to become the change you want to see. O’Donnell told Bill O’Reilly in 2007 that “American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains.” What better way to clean up the R&D establishment than by entering it? It’s not unlike entering government to reform it. (Caveat: this step may need to be combined with No. 1.)

(5) Return to Punditry: As many people have pointed out, O’Donnell is really a natural pundit—it’s how she made her name, and she seems quite comfortable at it. Her profile is higher now, and there’s a clear precedent set by Sarah Palin at Fox News. We recommend a two-anchor setup reminiscent of CNN’s Parker Spitzer—O’Donnell’s warmth and extroversion played well on panel shows like Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect but might be squandered if she’s alone at the anchor’s desk. We even have a proposal for someone to fill the Spitzer role: California’s Jerry Brown, who’s in a tight race to retake the governorship he held years ago. Like Spitzer, Brown is an outsize character who could be the liberal half of the duo—although unlike Spitzer, Governor Moonbeam only talks about prostitutes.

6. Ask God. After all, she says he’s keeping her in the race.

Michael Steele On Christine O’Donnell: ‘I’m Familiar With Foot In Mouth Disease’

Mediaite

RNC chair Michael Steele has been, unlike some members of his party, a supporter (albeit a tepid one) of Christine O’Donnell. This morning on Meet the Press David Gregory asked Steele about all the questionable attention some Tea Party candidates have been generating with some of their more flammable and/or mockable remarks.

Gregory: There’s been a lot of attention towards some of the Tea Party-backed candidates: Sharron Angle, speaking to Latinos in Nevada, or Ken Buck’s statement about gays on this program last week, or Christine O’Donnell, who has gotten so much attention, except for the fact that she’s so far behind in that senate race. She’s had misstatements or gaffes in her statements with Chris Coons.

Steele:
 Folks make mistakes. Lord knows. I’m familiar with foot in mouth disease. I understand how that is sometimes. You get in the heat of the battle and you have the passion and fire in your belly and you really want to get out there and speak to the issues, speak to the people. you say things that don’t come out correctly. You create misperceptions. That happens a lot in campaigns on both sides. What really matters is how the voters receive that, how voters look at those candidates. Despite those flaws, if you will, of the misspoken word, people understand where their heart is. People understand these folks are going to go out there and fight for them. As I said a little bit earlier, David, this reality right now for people is that we want a leadership that’s going to listen to us. we want someone that’s going to take the fight to congress and not fight against us. whether it’s Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, whoever it happens to be, who has this ground swell of energy behind them, that’s what matters to the people right now.

The “reality” of this is also that O’Donnell is 11 points behind in the polls and Jerry Brown has doubled his lead over Whitman. Harry Reid, meanwhile, is reportedly already preparing for a possible recount with Sharron Angle.

Watch:

 

Dems Holding Their Own In Early Voting Numbers

Let’s hope this pace continues throughout…

TPMDC

When is the 2010 election being held? You might think it’s on November 2, 2010. But it’s actually going on right now — and the Democrats aren’t doing all that badly.

Thanks to liberalized absentee and early-voting laws, “Election Day” has in many ways become “Election Few Weeks,” a process of the polls being open for an extended period of time and finally closing on that busy Tuesday in November. These laws were widely brought in after the 2000 election, which was characterized by problems of overcrowded polling places, in order to take some of that load off. What it has ended up leading to, as an additional consequence, are active get-out-the-vote efforts by parties eager to bank some early vote leads. Indeed, roughly one-third of all votes in 2008 were cast early or absentee, a statistic that shows how the process has become an integral part of our elections today.

As the Associated Press reports, over three million voters have already cast their ballots this time. Due to the secret ballot, we cannot know how they voted — but in many cases, the media is able to find out who voted, thanks to partisan voter registrations in many states. And across the country, both the Dems and the GOP are performing well in different spots.   Continue reading the stats…

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Paladino’s Hometown Paper Endorses Cuomo

Surely this comes as no surprise to anyone…

Associated Press

Republican Carl Paladino’s hometown Buffalo News on Sunday endorsed his rival in the New York governor’s race, declaring “there is no choice” but Andrew Cuomo.

The endorsement continues a sweep so far for the Manhattan Democrat. Cuomo’s endorsement include The New York Times, New York’s Daily News, the New York Post, Newsday, and the upstate newspapers in Rochester, Poughkeepsie, Kingston and Glens Falls.

“While it has become trendy to sneer at ‘career politicians,”‘ Sunday’s Buffalo News editorial stated, “the fact is that a good one knows his stuff: How to work the levers of power to best advantage; who the players are; where the bodies are buried. Cuomo knows all that and he has laid out an approach for taking the state back from the special interests and the lawmakers they have bought.”

The editorial states that although Cuomo is “a powerful political insider,” the newspaper believes the son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo “will lead.”

“If he accomplishes only half of what he says he wants — detailed in a series of (policy) books he has released — he will have rendered a historic service to the state,” the newspaper said.

The Buffalo News also warned, however, that Cuomo needs to stave off his special interest supporters from whom he “has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars … and, while we recognize that money is the lifeblood of election politics, it is also the grease that has crippled a once proud state.”

Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo said Sunday that the News’ endorsement “has always been the kiss of death in Western New York … now Carl’s supporters here will come out even stronger.”

Recent polls have shown Cuomo with a growing double-digit-percentage lead ahead of the election Nov. 2.

Paladino never accepted an opportunity to make his case to the editorial board, although Cuomo did.

Instead, Paladino over the weekend tried to highlight an article from another newspaper’s news section. A Wall Street Journal article cited records that criticize Cuomo’s governance as federal housing secretary under President Bill Clinton.      Continue reading…

White House Goes Into Bunker Mode

Today begins the last full week before the midterm elections…

Daily Beast

As the GOP prepares for landslide in November (The Daily Beast’s Election Oracle forecasts a 50/50 split in the Senate and a substantial Republican lead in the House), the Obama team seems powerless to stop it. Howard Kurtz on its fascinating belief that the bully pulpit has been downsized, forcing the leader of the free world to shout for attention.

Imagine if the Chilean mining disaster had happened here in the States. President Obama would have been hammered for 69 days for failing to rescue the men, right up to the moment the first one was pulled to safety.

That’s the sensibility inside the White House these days: If there’s a bad story out there, even one far removed from the presidential orbit, the Obama crowd will own it. Every administration feels besieged at times, pilloried by the press, misunderstood by the public. But conversations with White House officials suggest a team that feels almost snakebit during a midterm election that is likely to produce substantial losses.

“There’s an alternative story here that we’re trying to tell,” says Dan Pfeiffer, the communications director. “But there’s an element of spitting in the ocean.”

During the long election slog, “a narrative takes hold, and trying to beat those narratives can be challenging and frustrating,” he says. “Some of the news coverage is focused on more of the negatives and few of the positives. But I don’t think that’s surprising, given the environment.”

Obama certainly bears responsibility for a wide range of missteps and a perverse talent for turning winning (on the Hill) into losing (in the court of public opinion). But what’s fascinating is the belief that the bully pulpit has been permanently downsized, forcing the leader of the free world to shout for attention in a cacophonous world.

It sounds absurd: Obama can instantly command attention any time he wants. He can pop onto the Today show, plop himself on Jay Leno’s couch, get himself on the cover of The New York Times Magazine, chat up the kids on MTV, diagram basketball brackets on ESPN. This week he’ll drop by The Daily Show and match wits with Jon Stewart. Everything he says is news.   Continue reading…