In today's Election Countdown 2012 news: The White House is encouraging congressional Democrats to go on the offensive after health care ruling, the presidential race stands on a knife's edge in swing states, tuition to increase at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) as university president's pay is raised, and more.
D – 71 and counting*
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster. –Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art”
Readers, again a little narrower than usual as I recover from National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.
CA. “The Committee to Recall Mayor Jean Quan Now has a Monday deadline to submit petitions carrying 19,800 valid signatures. [C]ommittee member said they had only collected about 17,000 signatures and had all but given up.”
CO. Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach: “I really appreciate the president coming here … if nothing more than just to reassure us that this has a focus at a national level, that there are people all over this country who are concerned for our citizens and those who have lost their homes,” Bach said, according to CNN. “And I do plan to ask for cash.” “Small government,” liberatarian paradise!
GA. Bellwether counties: “[L]ook to Lowndes County. In the last three presidential elections, Lowndes voters have given each major-party candidate within 2 percentage points of their statewide share of the vote.” HCR: “[GOV. NATHAN DEAL R:] We are probably just going to be in a holding pattern until such time as we see what the events of November bring us.”
IA. Corruption: “A court is upholding a $1.2 million state fine for labor violations committed by a TX labor broker [Henry's Turkey Service] who underpaid dozens of mentally disabled workers at an Iowa turkey processing plant.” No criminal charges, so cost of doing business. (TH) “Senate President Jack Kibbie, D [requested] a formal opinion from IA AG Tom Miller’s office regarding an announced a policy change by the state Department of Public Safety to end its role of conducting electrical inspections at farm facilities effective next week unless the inspection is voluntarily requested by the property owner or designee.” (TH)
ID. Mass incarceration: “After high-profile news stories about the Corrections Corporation of America-run prison at Boise described it as a ‘gladiator school’ and worse after violence and injuries, the ACLU filed suit in March 2010 ‘that alleged deliberate indifference by CCA officials, inadequate staffing and supervision, and a failure to investigate acts of violence.’ …. Since then, Idaho’s prison population — the state has one of the highest rates in the nation — has continued to grow… So how is it resolving the difficulty? By entering into a new contract with CC[A].”
IL. Legalization: “The Chicago City Council voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to decriminalize marijuana possession, joining a wave of states and big cities that have opted for fines instead of arrests for small amounts of the drug.”
LA. Corruption: “Derrick Shepherd [D], the former state senator from Marrero whose meteoric rise in politics crashed with his federal conviction of conspiracy to commit money laundering, will never practice law in Louisiana again. ” Tinpot tyrants: “The controversial [school reform] consultant pushing to overhaul the Algiers Charter Schools Association raised the idea of prominently displaying the state-assigned letter grade of D at Eisenhower Academy of Global Studies, printing it on shirts worn by employees, memos and signs.” Why not use a branding iron?
MI. Electoral chicanery: “The State Board of Canvassers, which has two R and two D members, did not certify the [Emergency Manager referendum] petition after members deadlocked 2-2 on whether it was valid.” (Because the 5th member, an R, unexpectedly resigned and has not been replaced.
NC. Ballot access: “In Pisano v Bartlett, the lawsuit challenging the May petition deadline for petitions for newly-qualifying parties, [the North Carolina State Board of Election's brief] argues that because the two plaintiff parties, the Constitution Party and the Green Party, have made only feeble attempts to qualify for the ballot this year, the case should be dismissed. The brief ignores all the reported court decisions that have held that unqualified parties, and independent candidates, have standing to challenge early petition deadlines, whether those parties and candidates have tried to get on the ballot or not.”
NY. Corruption: “AG Eric Schneiderman’s office is suing Kelli Conlin, the former President of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, for ‘abusing her position and using more than $250,000 in charitable funds for her own personal benefit.’” Corruption, petty: “The letter is on its way to the Town Clerk. A freshman town councilor [in Geddes is] asking for the ethics committee to convene to review problems he says exist in adherence to the town procurement policy by the town’s Highway Department.”
PA. Fracking, water: “[T]he Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC; www.srbc.net) today announced that 37 separate water withdrawals approved by SRBC are suspended due to localized streamflow levels dropping throughout the Susquehanna basin.”
TN: “[The UT Knoxville] tuition increase to be paid in the fall will average about $289 while [President Jimmy] Cheek’s raise is $22,356.”
VA. UVA: Governor Bob McDonnell reappoints Rector Helen Dragas. “[BoV] Newcomers include Linwood Rose, former president of James Madison University; Edward Miller, dean of the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University; and Victoria Harper, CFO of Gannett Company.” “[Dragas is] the public face of the recent, failed attempt to oust President Teresa A. Sullivan.” And we never did learn the private faces, did we? [hums "kumbaya"] “Siva Vaidhyanathan, chairman of the media studies department and one of the most-heard faculty voices on the controversy around Sullivan’s forced resignation and return, said he wasn’t surprised by Dragas’ reappointment. He put it down as a necessary price for getting Sullivan back, saying he suspected it was part of the deal-cutting that brought Sullivan back.” [hums "kumbaya"] Vivian Page: “I’m convinced more than ever that the business takeover of higher ed will continue to occur. And UVA remains a target. Next time, it’s not going to be bungled like it was this time. And I’m betting it happens within the remaining 3 years of Sullivan’s contract.”
WI. Fracking: “[T]he hills of northwestern WI and bordering eastern MN, areas now serving as the epicenter of the frac-sand mining world” (an excellent primer on the place of sand in the fracking supply chain).
HCR. The market state: Politico: “Obama wants to move swiftly beyond the court decision, to cherry-pick the most attractive parts of his reform effort — prohibitions on discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, free checkups for women, extension of parental coverage to kids up to the age of 26 — and present them to the public as a menu of enticing new benefits and consumer protections.” Consumers. Not citizens. Lynn Sweet: “The Obama team has a particular expertise in collecting the stories of people. … People who are getting treatments and coverage they otherwise would not have — and that includes peace of mind — have stories to tell that transcend partisan politics. Each of these stories — whether by paid media, word-of-mouth or social networking — is an ad for Obama.” Just like conversion narratives in 2008. Atrios: “My basic take on the ACA is that it’s good because it makes improvements to our current system, but bad in that it enshrines our current sh*tty system forever.” Anarchist thumbsucker: “Obamacare is in fact a direct continuation of the bipartisan neoliberal consensus of the past thirty years. The guiding principle of this consensus is the use of state power to protect corporate profits — which consist mostly of rents on artificial scarcity — from the radical deflationary effects of technologies of abundance. Mandate coverage: “A recent study by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research center that focuses on economic and social policy, found that if the law had been fully implemented last year, 93 percent of the population under age 65 wouldn’t have faced a penalty or had to buy insurance under the mandate.”
The taxing power: “A few minutes later, pressed by Justice Roberts, he reiterated the point. ‘[I]t is in the Internal Revenue Code,’ [Solictor General Donald] Verrilli said. ‘It is collected by the IRS on April 15th.’ The floor sponsor, Senator Baucus, defended it as an exercise of the taxing power.”
Politics and optics: First Read: “[T]he ruling is no political booster rocket. He simply doesn’t have a new drag.” Mischiefs of Faction: “Sentiments about health reform are already baked into people’s assessments of the candidates.” Politico: “The victory was dropped into the pre-July 4th valley of summertime news coverage rather than as a welcome fall bombshell dropped when voters will be most tuned into the race.” The normally astute Charles Pierce pins the bogometer: “[T]he act itself is chock-full of innovative ideas and pilot programs and all sorts of other experimental goodness directed toward making easier the lives of people dealing with serious health problems. What a crock. We’ve already done the experimenting we need, and the results are in. Here’s the chart.
Conservative fever swamp: “And, may godly courageous leaders rise up in His wisdom and power to lead us in displacing the criminal invaders from their seats and restore our constitutional republic.” Well, I agree with the criminal invaders part. (But Jeebus, the Tea Party uses Ning?) Stay classy: “In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of health care reform, the Drudge Report is smearing Chief Justice John Roberts over the possibility that he might use epilepsy medication and suggesting that it affected his judgment.” Nooners: “[Obama's statement] was a targeted base-greaser. [Not so, not so! Visionary minimalism!] … In any case, brace yourself for the admiring profiles of Chief Justice John Roberts. Last week’s wisdom: right-wing nut in black robe. This week’s wisdom: rigorous mind, independent nature, unswayed by partisan considerations, he’s grown in the role since being appointed by George W. Bush.” Ha ha ha. Nooners totally nails it. “Rep. Gary Ackerman D, who was holding a sign that read, “Obama-Roberts 2012″ as he left a Democratic Caucus meeting, said Roberts has ‘rebranded himself’ with Thursday’s healthcare ruling.”
Change in the constitutional order: Neal K. Katyal, former acting Solicitor General: “This was the first significant loss for the federal government’s spending power in decades.” James B. Stewart, Times business columnist: “‘The commerce clause is not a general license to regulate an individual from cradle to grave,’ Chief Justice Roberts wrote. Libertarians and conservatives have been seeking such a declaration since the New Deal.”
Policy. Money: “When they were in power, House Democrats passed the DISCLOSE Act, which would have improved the now-limited disclosure of political donors, only to see it fail to garner the 60 votes necessary to achieve cloture and avoid a filibuster in the Senate” (ES). But if the Ds really cared about policies like this, they would have abolished the filibuster in 2009 with the nuclear option. King Corn: “IA ranks second in the nation in terms of farm subsidies, with 8.7 percent of the total in 2011. TX leads all states at $1.4 billion in subsidies, or 9.5 percent of the overall amount.” Voting: “In a final vote of no confidence, Ireland’s ill-fated e-voting machines are finally headed to the scrap heap. Plans to roll out the machines on a national basis in 2004 local … were abandoned … after a report from an independent commission raised issues about their reliability.” Security: “The legislation, a massive bill that overhauls highway and transit programs, bars the use of federal money to purchase red-light cameras or other automated traffic enforcement cameras.”
Prediction is hard. Nate Silver: “Since the stock market is one of the economic variables the model considers, Mr. Obama’s probability of winning the Electoral College rose with the European news, to 67.8 percent.” Good thing Mr. Market is never manipulated. Oh, wait…
The trail. Razor edge: “We find little evidence of a ‘wave’ election developing, and that means Democrats would have to cherry-pick themselves to a gain of 25 seats, an almost impossible challenge.” Razor edge: “The three NBC/Marist Institute swing state polls released Thursday reconfirm the picture painted by the Quinnipiac University polls unveiled Wednesday in three other swing states: the presidential race stands on a knife’s edge, with both President Obama and Mitt Romney facing substantial vulnerabilities with undecided voters.
Fast & Furious: “Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) quietly dropped a bombshell letter into the Congressional Record. The May 24 letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the panel, quotes from and describes in detail a secret wiretap application… [R]eleasing such information to the public would ordinarily be illegal. But Issa appears to be protected by the Speech or Debate Clause in the Constitution.” So the nutso R, Issa, does something that sane, polite Ds could also do on torture, assassinations, warrantless surveillance, and a host of other issues they claim are important to them … But never do. So who’s nutso, really? “[DEPUTY AG JAMES COLE:] We will not prosecute an executive branch official under the contempt of Congress statute for withholding subpoenaed documents pursuant to a presidential assertion of executive privilege.’ [T]he department relied in large part on a Justice Department legal opinion crafted during Republican Ronald Reagan’s presidency.”
Elizabeth Warren: “Of course Menino will endorse and help out Warren. But he’s got a reasonably good relationship with Scotto, plus he doesn’t want to unnecessarily tick off the many Brown-voting conservative-Catholic-Democrats in the city, plus he probably wants Warren to make clear that she understands how important he and his machine are. So he can wait a good while.”
Robama vs. Obomney watch. Romney supported the mandate in 2006 when he adopted RomneyCare. When Obama passed RomneyCare, Romney flipped and opposed the mandate. Obama opposed the mandate in 2008. Then Obama passed RomneyCare in the form of ObamaCare, flipped, and supports the mandate. Both sides: “ZOMG!!!! He’s a FLIP-FLOPPER!!!!” And of course, both sides are right. One good thing: Now that the Obama Fans are swooning over John Roberts, we aren’t hearing any more of the “ZOMG!!!! Teh Supreme Court!!! foo fra.”
Romney. “Romney increases criticism of Obama (with handy chart). Teebee: “The 30-second ad, titled “Shame on You,” shows footage of Clinton, Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination in 2008, accusing Obama of spending “millions of dollars perpetuating falsehoods” in the hotly contested nominatiVon battle. “Shame on you, Barack Obama,” Clinton, now Obama’s secretary of state, says in the footage.” Cheeky!
Obama. Plouffe: “The White House is encouraging congressional Democrats to go on the offensive after the Supreme Court upheld the president’s signature healthcare legislation Thursday, urging members on the campaign trail to ‘illustrate how the President and Democrats in Congress are standing up for the middle class.’” Shorter Plouffe: Let’s you and him fight.
* 71 days ’til the Democratic National Convention ends with peeled grapes on the floor of the Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC. Nora Ephron was 71.