In today's Election Countdown 2012 news: Social unrest continues in Quebec, the University of Virginia's leadership is still fighting itself on what do over the recent outing of its president, the voter purge continues in Florida, Colorado debates cannabis and fracking with equal political fervor, and more.
D – 79 and counting*
“No one rises so high as he who knows not whither he is going.” –Oliver Cromwell
Occupy. Interesting retrospective, Sofía Gallisá Muriente: “In the long run OWS is an umbrella — a network of people and resources. Because this two-month occupation existed and all these people got to collaborate in trying to create a sustainable community in a square in downtown Manhattan, it made a lot of things that used to seem impossible, seem more possible. … We have much more to learn than to teach.”
Montreal. Baltigaya: “Sunday, June 10, around 8:20 PM, we were two retired couples, two young couples, and seven children who were playing together in the park…. It was a peaceful and festive demonstration against Bill 78, as usual, for a half hour. We were suddenly accosted by four drunk young men in their twenties, in two cars. They were obviously seeking a provocation, with a dozen eggs on the dashboard. … In brief, one of them launched a violent verbal barrage, another one of them video recorded it, and they threw eggs at us, while the young father answered back politely. As seniors, we were more vulnerable, and we watched anxiously, trying to protect the children. All this to say: there is an urgent need in Quebec to resolve this gangrenous social crisis for which Mr. Charest is principally to blame.” Summer schedule, CLASSE: “The plan is organised around a tour of lectures across Quebec, and large scale demonstrations” planned for June 22 and July 22. Letter to Charest: “Your language is similar to that of a manipulator who tirelessly repeats the same words, the same formulas, in your case these are numbers, to baffle its prey. It is similar to that of a narcissist who doesn’t recognize the existence of other ways of life than its own.” Seems familiar. PQ’s Marais: “The Quebec population is thirsty for justice and for democracy. They want leaders with integrity who have a real vision to propose.” Marois is to Barrett as Charest is to Walker? Am I the only one here? Corruption: “Duchesneau offered a vivid example of one municipal party – while not identifying which one – which had so much money, the door of its safe could not be closed, literally.” “[A] ‘database’ of 200 companies [Duchesneau's commission] drafted was handed over to anti-corruption unit (UPAC).”
CO. Life’s little ironies: “Two wars are playing out across the Front Range of Colorado. One is about the location of medical marijuana dispensaries, the other is about the location of oil and gas drilling and fracking operations. One claims to help heal people suffering from cancer, the other raises claims of causing cancer. A rational person would think that mainstream Coloradans—who make up the vast majority of our purple state—would prefer to keep cancer-healing activities nearby while keeping cancer-causing activities as far away as possible. In fact, the exact opposite is true.”
FL. Voter purge: “The state, Perez wrote, ‘admitted to DHS nearly eight months ago that the Division of Elections does not collect any of the immigration-related numeric identifiers or documentation that DHS has advised would be necessary to participate in SAVE.’” So, there aren’t any primary keys to check the state database against the Fed database. If government should be run like a business, then Scott’s the pointy-haired boss who won’t listen to the techies when they tell him something can’t be done. Looks like I was too cynical on this! Unemployment: “[T]he fact that the unemployment rate dropped from 9.9 percent in December 2011 to 8.7 percent in April 2012 may be a change of 1.2 percent but the state’s economists say there is something important to add: ‘If the participation rate had held steady since 12/11, the unemployment rate would have been 9.6 percent.’ That’s more like a .3 percent decline.”
IA. Development: “[N]o electric cars will roll off assembly lines in Webster City. On the contrary, the city will be lucky to get back money it loaned to a company that never delivered on its owner’s promises.”
LA. Gutting the Times-Picayune: “Again, the primary problem here is not the reduction in print, but the decimation of the Times-Picayune’s newsroom.” “Clifford Burchfield sleeps in an abandoned building in the Algiers section of New Orleans, with no plumbing, electricity or running water. He can’t afford television, much less the Internet. But Burchfeld still devours the news every day from The Times-Picayune. Or at least he will until this fall, when New Orleans becomes the largest metro area in the nation without a daily paper.”
MA. “[T]he City launched its participation in a mobile app/Facebook app/website interface that allows citizens who see something, like dumped furniture or a pothole, or a dangerous sidewalk, and use their mobile smartphone to report it.”
MT. The Ochenski mess makes it to counterpunch!
NC. Fracking: Lee County NC say NO to Fracking [FaceBorg]. Many of these sites.
NV. “Those who respond, ‘But Gee We Have To Balance The State Budget,’ are missing one critical factor. Capital expenditures aren’t subject to the balancing act.”
NY. Yoo hoo, AG Schneiderman: “A state Senate source said a program bill dealing with mortgage fraud, introduced earlier this month by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, is ‘up in the air.’ It’s opposed by the New York Bankers Association… [M]ortgage fraud is a big issue on Long Island, so the Senate is in something of an awkward position.” Fracking, editorial: “Recently, politicians and publications have conditionally endorsed so-called ‘safe fracking’ as a part of the nation’s energy mix. But safe fracking is an impossibility, and the industry’s claims for it are knowingly based on false premises.”
OH. “The appeals panel sided with a lower court that the plantiffs did not have standing because they could not show direct harm. If our leaders can pass laws that violate the Constitution but nobody has standing to stop them, what good is the Constitution anyway?’ Standing is always huge.
PA. Sandusky defense rests. “I kept saying ‘what did you see?’ Each time [McCleary] would come back to the sounds,’ Dranov said. ‘It just seemed to make him more upset, so I backed off that.’” Ick. Fracking, Harrisburg’s Patriot-News throws softballs: “Romney was never confronted with the bigger issue for Pennsylvanians: how to balance the downsides of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas (wastewater disposal, road damage, and methane water quality challenges, for example) with the benefits of more available energy.”
TX. Snark watch: “The state water plan is to planning as chicken-fried steak is to steak.”
VA. Putsch at UVA: “[Ousted President Teresa] Sullivan’s supporters on the board think they are close to the eight votes needed to reinstate her. They note that only eight votes are needed since Mark J. Kington, the vice rector who teamed with Dragas to orchestrate Sullivan’s ouster, resigned Tuesday, leaving just 15 members on the board.” That would be a turn-up for the books! But principles not personalities. The Virginian-Pilot editorializes: “[Rector] Dragas and her collaborators should resign, as the Faculty Senate’s executive council demanded Monday.” Roanake Times: “The best thing for the university would be for [Dragas] to bow out gracefully.” Cavalier: “Board members, you embarrass yourselves. … We agree with former Board member Austin Ligon: If you want to set an example of leadership, step down from your positions.” Snark watch: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Universities are endowed by their Donors with certain unalienable Goals, that among these are Strategy, Dynamism, and the pursuit of some sort of Online Degree delivered via the Interwebs,—That to secure these goals, Presidents are appointed, deriving their just powers from the half-baked ideas of idle Billionaires…”
Privatization: “While the Hook’s sources downplay any planned privatization by Goldman Sachs, there’s no question that [Greenwich, CT-based big donors] Jones and Kiernan favor the idea of applying business principles to education. A year ago, the two helped launch the New York arm of StudentsFirst, the advocacy organization that openly embraces such reforms as eliminating teacher tenure, pushing merit pay, and supporting charter schools. Some of its officials have advocated outright privatization.” MOOC: “It’s true, online learning is all the rage now. David Brooks likes it, and he’s a reliable indicator of what the chattering class is exposed to these days. None of the top schools are replacing their existing curriculum, though. …. Lectures and multiple choice work great online. Socratic Method, not so much. Online learning also magnifies cheating problems.”
Interim President Carl Zeithaml holds a press conference: But does he agree with the decision to replace her? “I don’t support the Board’s decision to remove her.” Then why not make the Rector’s resignation a condition of serving as interim president? [Zeithamal dodges the question by talking about moving the University "forward in a positive way."] Provost John Simon: “A surprise that emerged from the press conference was that Simon, who won a pair of standing ovations six days earlier by hinting at an emotionally charged public Faculty Senate meeting that he’d quit his job if the Board doesn’t ‘do the right thing’ has decided, instead, to stick around.” Faculty Senate in action: “A list of task forces will be available at Open Grounds. Please come prepared to sign up for a task force. We will also receive any suggestions you may have for our meeting with Dean Zeithaml tomorrow. Please stay on alert and be ready to respond quickly. Things are moving. With your help, we will prevail.”
Elsewhere in VA: “After watching her parents, friends and neighbors struggle these past four years, she knows it won’t be easy to become the first person in her family to finish college. But she still believes what Obama told her as a ninth-grader: She is going to do great things.” Read it all for the contrast with UVA. Extraction: “Virginia Uranium Inc. would like to mine and mill a 119-million-pound uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County. Many of the attendees Monday night continued to question the transparency of the work group process and pointed to how the group’s website didn’t keep the public up to date on how the state chose the consultant.” Extraction: “U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell [R] is winning praise for his bid to make VA’s offshore waters available to gas and oil exploration. Virginia waters were to be open to energy exploration until the BP Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.”
WI. Development: “Just one year after it opened, the Radisson Hotel in Menomonee Falls has been hit with a foreclosure suit – filed by the community that financed its construction. As a result, the Village of Menomonee Falls could be facing a multimillion dollar loss, paid for by village residents.” MOOC: “Gov Scott Walker and UW officials announced a new online education model that backers said would be the first of its kind undertaken by a public university. The proposal — titled the UW Flexible Degree — aims to allow students to either apply already acquired knowledge to state testing or take flexible, affordable online coursework through either UW campuses or other accredited universities. ”
“The economy”. “The Fed’s latest forecast for economic growth this year is just 2.2%, a dire number of the Obama administration in an election year.”
Grand Bargain™-brand catfood watch. The farm bill passes, so “optimists believe the small steps taken this spring could help pave the way for real cooperation [Simpson-Bowles] later.” Now to tee up slashing Social Security! It never ends….
Inside Baseball. They’re lying: “The Annenberg Public Policy Center calculated that those top four [secret money] groups spent $29.3 million on advertising related to the presidential race from December 1, 2011 to June 1, 2012. Just under $25 million was spent on ads that fact-checkers said included at least one deception.” The groups studied were all right wing. Unity: “45% of those surveyed in a Bloomberg National Poll say they are better off than at the beginning of 2009 compared with 36% who say they are worse off.”
Policy. ObamaCare: “In another CJR Town Hall, a worker at a Pennsylvania Walmart told me, ‘If you can’t afford healthcare, how are you going to afford the penalties? Why punish them?’” Study: “More than 26,000 working-age adults die prematurely in the United States each year because they lack health insurance.” Which is, of course, why ObamaCare only covers half the uninsured and doesn’t kick in ’til 2014. Do the math. Priorities!
The trail. Fast & Furious, Kevin Drum: “This whole thing is completely ridiculous, just a pointless piece of political theater.” As opposed to? “Rs are dismissive of Mr Obama’s supposedly superior grassroots networks. ‘You don’t shoot to maim, you shoot to kill,’ Rick Wiley, the RNC’s political director, says of the D’s performance in WI. ‘We just smacked ‘em. We had that thing humming.’
Ron Paul. “Supporters of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul have filed a lawsuit against the Republican National Committee and nearly every state party claiming they improperly helped Mitt Romney during the primaries while using intimidation and threats of violence to thwart them. Paul’s campaign says the Texas congressman doesn’t support the lawsuit. An RNC official called it frivolous.”
Robama vs Obomney watch. Heh.
Democrats, bless their hearts:. “[PELOSI:] I could have arrested Karl Rove on any given day. I’m not kidding. [T]here were some specific ones for his being in contempt of Congress. But we didn’t.” Would have prevented “obstructionism,” no?
Romney. Adelson: “For Mr Romney, the relationship with Mr Adelson is fraught with risk, as it invites scrutiny of the tycoon’s business record, especially his reliance on Beijing to sustain his profitable casinos in Macau, bordering China.” Veepstakes: “Pawlenty has shrugged off questions about the No. 2 slot. But over time, his denials have shifted from suggesting that Mr. Romney take his name off the list to noting that anybody would be honored to serve, if asked.” “Rubio charged more than $100,000 to state GOP credit cards, had racked up nearly $1 million in personal debt, and nearly had his home foreclosed on.” Snark watch: “Goodbye Rubio Tuesday!” Very detailed play-by-play of Romney’s WaWa-gate. Oh gawd, make it stop!
Obama. Strategery: “It’s typical of the Democratic approach. Rather than creating a tidal wave that carries everyone, as Republicans generally do when they win, throw a thousand rocks and create a million ripples. Pick ‘em off one by one. And, who knows, between Team Obama’s supernova data mining and demographic slicing and dicing and the president’s targeted-constituency executive orders, maybe that will be enough to claw their way to 50.1 percent of the vote.” This seems to be the conventional wisdom, now. “‘We have the race we anticipated,’ said one of the campaign’s top strategists, adding that the battle for the White House would remain ‘razor close’ until polling day.” Again, the CW.