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Eliot Cutler announces ... nothing. Now let's elect Mike Michaud.

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 10:29
Eliot Cutler with some guy dressed in very patriotic gear for Fourth of July Eliot Cutler (at right) Goal Thermometer

Eliot Cutler, the independent candidate who finished second in 2010 as Paul LePage was elected governor of Maine with just 38 percent of the vote, held a press conference Wednesday morning to announce that he was not dropping out of the race. Cutler told his supporters to vote their conscience—which, if their consciences led them to another candidate could mean a significant boost for Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, who is currently tied with LePage—but also said that despite trailing by up to 20 points in recent polls, he could still win. His message was more than a little muddled, in short. One group of Cutler supporters, though, held their own press conference directly after the candidate's to announce that they were endorsing Michaud.

Cutler's press conference may have been prompted by the fact that Tuesday, as it was becoming clear that he was drawing support much more from Michaud than from LePage, the Republican Governors Association unveiled an ad trying to sway potential Michaud voters to Cutler, seeking to win the race not by boosting LePage but by boosting Cutler.

Cutler had more or less stopped airing ads in recent weeks. But Maine's extended early voting period means that many Cutler supporters may have already voted. This isn't the first time Cutler had suggested that his supporters could consider his chances before voting:

In May, Cutler told Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz that he was prepared to tell supporters, “If on the day before the election, or the morning you have to go vote, if you don’t think I can win, vote for someone else.” The moment when Cutler looked like he could win passed by some time ago—again, he's trailing by 20 points in recent polls. If his supporters' consciences want someone other than Paul LePage as governor, that means voting for Mike Michaud. Please give $3 to put Mike Michaud over the top in Maine.

Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats. Another four years of Paul LePage would be a disaster for Maine. It's time for a final all-out push to elect Mike Michaud.

1:25 PM PT: Michaud gets a strong statement of support from a top Maine independent:

.@SenAngusKing: "We still have a chance to elect a governor who will represent the majority of Maine people ... Mike Michaud."
@burgessev

Nurse Kaci Hickox continues one-woman crusade for Ebola sanity

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 09:39
Screenshot of Kaci Hickox being interviewed by Matt Lauer on Today Show. Goal Thermometer
Nurse Kaci Hickox, whose forced quarantine in New Jersey created a massive headache for a bumbling Gov. Chris Christie, is taking her fight for science to Maine. Republican Gov. Paul LePage is apparently catering to the worst fears exhibited by some of their residents (the school board who forced a teacher to go on leave just because she had traveled to Dallas, the university that wants to keep Hickox's boyfriend—a nursing student—from attending his classes) and is threatening to somehow force Hickox into home quarantine with "legal authority" and will take "appropriate action" if she doesn't comply.

On the Today Show Wednesday morning, Hickox once again made perfect sense and vowed to fight LePage as she fought Christie.

"I don't plan on sticking to the guidelines. I remain appalled by these home quarantine policies that have been forced upon me, even though I am in perfectly good health and feeling strong and have been this entire time completely symptom free," said Hickox, who wouldn’t emerge from Maine's 21-day voluntary quarantine until Nov. 10.

"I truly believe this policy is not scientifically nor constitutionally just, and so I'm not going to sit around and be bullied around by politicians and be forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public." […]

"If the restrictions placed on me by the state of Maine are not lifted by Thursday morning, I will go to court to fight for my freedom."

Hickox said that she is self-monitoring and is following the guidelines of Doctors without Borders, the organization she volunteered with in Africa, the organization that has been at the forefront in fighting this disease for years. Hickox also pointed out that top health officials stress that quarantine is only necessary for people who have developed symptoms of the disease, which she has not, and stressed that policies need to be based on evidence and sound public health policies as opposed to politics. Book LePage. Help elect Mike Michaud governor with your $3.

Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats. Hickox is smart, well-spoken, and determined to teach politicians a direct lesson about science and about public health. She's a strong voice of reason in the midst of Republican-induced Ebola panic, and has already made a fool of Christie. LePage should think twice before taking her on.

Joni Ernst: 'It didn't make sense' to talk to Iowa press if they might criticize her

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 09:26
Joni Ernst and Sarah Palin Joni Ernst, talking to people who already agree with her. Goal Thermometer

Iowa Republican Joni Ernst has finally offered an explanation for why she refused to do an endorsement meeting with the Des Moines Register: She didn't think it would endorse her, so why bother?

Republican Joni Ernst defended Tuesday her decision to abruptly cancel a meeting with the Des Moines Register Editorial Board last week, telling CNN "it didn't make sense" because she knew they would back her Democratic opponent.

"It was quite evident where they stood in this race and they were going to endorse my opponent," Ernst said in an interview at a campaign stop in Oskaloosa.

Not talking to people you think will disagree with you—what a great approach for a candidate seeking to represent the entire state! What an advertisement for how Ernst would conduct herself in the Senate!

Does that explanation also apply to the other Iowa media outlets Ernst blew off? Like the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald and KMEG News? I mean, KMEG News wanted an interview with her they were going to air for voters to see and assess for themselves. And KMEG is in a Republican area of the state.

Help elect more and better Democrats this November! Please give $3 to Daily Kos' endorsed candidates and strike a blow against Republicans.

Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats. Ernst has given her (unsatisfactory) explanation for blowing off the Des Moines Register. But she's still got some explaining to do.

Cartoon: Gamergate Contagion Spreads

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 08:50

Social Security emerges as an issue in Kentucky Senate race

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 08:30
Goal Thermometer

Greg Sargent on relatively quiet, last-minute effort by Alison Lundergan Grimes her campaign allies to make Social Security an issue in the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's reelection campaign:

When reporter Joe Sonka asked whether a GOP Senate majority would pursue privatization, McConnell replied: “I’m not announcing what the agenda would be in advance,” though his spokesman clarified that he wasn’t interested “in reviving the 2005 debate.” Meanwhile, according to one local report, McConnell today “evaded questions” on the topic.

The Grimes campaign, by contrast, is pushing the topic hard. When McConnell brought Bobby Jindal to Kentucky to campaign for him the other day, the Grimes camp quickly pointed out that Jindal had supported the 2005 privatization push, too. And on the stump, Grimes has repeatedly floated variations of the idea that unlike McConnell, she would never gamble away her grandmother’s Social Security on the stock market.

The Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic PAC focused on Senate races, is running a withering ad (embedded above) going after McConnell not just for privatization, but also for having "rearranged" his financial portfolio before the 2008 stock market crash after talking with the Secretary of the Treasury. The message: McConnell not only wants to use his position in the Senate to take a wrecking ball to Social Security, but he also wants to use it to benefit himself. "What good is clout," the ad asks, "if McConnell sells us out?" Chip in $3 to help good Democrats close the 2014 campaign strong!

Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats. It's hard-hitting ad and McConnell has tried, unsuccessfully, to have it removed from the airwaves, so he's scared of it. It's a powerful message, but it's also a message that perhaps should have been used earlier in the campaign. Still, if it does manage to break through the noise in the final days of the campaign, it could be one of the key things that helps put Grimes over the top.

Cheers and Jeers: Wednesday

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 07:18
C&J Banner

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

I Give Up

Okay, fine. I'm now willing to believe that Ebola is the #1 threat to the American homeland. You can get it through bodily fluids, shoelaces and sunspots. You can get it from touching a doorknob, boiling a potato, talking on the phone, looking at a map of Africa or living on the same continent as Dallas. Ebola flies through the air, tunnels under the earth, swims across the ocean and replicates itself via 3D printers halfway around the world. Everybody in America has Ebola. Ebola hides under the bed. Ebola is our master. It rules the universe. It is God's punishment for Benghazi. It is in our beer.

Clippy the Microsoft paper clip And if Clippy ever popped up
on your screen, you have ebola. I'm willing to believe President Obama personally brought Ebola to the United States on Air Force One and it's now living in the White House. Ebola is going to take over our homes, our churches (prepare yourself for same-sex Ebola marriage), our factories and our money supply. Any election won by a Democrat is really an election won by Ebola. America will soon be run by illegal immigrants thanks to Ebola. The head of the CDC is just Ebola in a lab coat. Ebola will pave the way for a Russian invasion, but not before it releases all the Guantanamo prisoners (who all have Ebola). And of course Ebola is going to take away our guns.

I'm willing to believe that only for-profit Jeb Bush-run charter schools, fracking, elimination of the IRS and deep-sea oil drilling can protect us from Ebola. Tax cuts, tort reform and mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds will weaken Ebola. But nothing will kill it until we elect Ted Cruz president in 2016.

I'm willing to believe that anyone returning from west Africa who tests negative for Ebola is lying, and they should all be shrink-wrapped and launched into space.

Yes, Republicans, I'm willing to "believe" all this bullshit and more. You convinced me. I'm sold. Now will you please…shut…the fuck…up.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Ebola!!]

Economics Daily Digest: Internet access, progressive taxation, lobbying your attorney general

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 07:13

By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Digital Divide Exacerbates U.S. Inequality (Financial Times)

David Crow quotes Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford on how the digital divide contributes to inequality in light of new data on broadband access throughout the country. There are still 31 million households in the U.S. without a home or mobile broadband subscription.

Susan Crawford, who served as Mr Obama’s special assistant for technology and innovation in 2009, warned: “we are creating two Americas where the wealthy have access . . . while others are left on a bike path, unable to join in the social and economic benefits that the internet brings”.

It had been thought that the rural make-up of much of the US was the main factor in a national broadband subscription rate that is just 73.4 per cent, behind other developed nations such as the UK and Germany, which have rates of 88 per cent. About 67 per cent of households in rural areas have broadband internet service, compared to 75 per cent of urban households.


But the new Census Bureau statistics show a huge disparity among US cities and towns, with a gap of 65 percentage points between those with the highest and lowest subscription rates.

Follow below the fold for more.

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 am ET! Why not listen? You're not doing anything right now anyway.

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 07:00
Daily Kos Radio logo OK, fine, so you're actually surrounded by high quality written commentary and insightful opinions on all the latest, breaking news.

Big deal!

We have jokes, and even some sound effects! And also, Greg Dworkin, who is apparently some sort of medical professional, so he knows some science junk about Ebola.

And although we're delaying this week's Joan McCarter day until Thursday, today is a once-in-a-lifetime* opportunity to listen to the GunFAIL guy talk about Jose Canseco accidentally shooting his finger off while cleaning a gun!

*So far.

Listen LIVE at 9:00 ET, here: Click this Link to Listen on your iTunes, Winamp or Windows Media Player

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Ebola is surely in its "last throes" at this point, no? Strict constructionist restaurant turns Alito away. Michele Bachmann looks forward to the grifting life. Greg Dworkin reviews the quarantine policy stories, and reminds us not to forget our history. Meanwhile, Chris Christie spins furiously, insisting he didn't reverse himself, word that troops returning from Africa will be quarantined, and students in Maine find an Ebola excuse for skipping class. PoliSci profs botch "experiment" with MT elections. A local blogger speculates on the motive. (P.S., here's an actual official MT voter info pamphlet.) "Sneak & peek" warrants, sold to Congress as necessary for fighting terrorism, are now routine. But hardly ever used for terrorism. The CIA kept ex-Nazis on the payroll as Cold War spies. The amazing Amazon engine burns anything and everything for fuel.

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: The abyss beckons to Lee Terry

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 07:00
U.S. Representative Lee Terry (R-NE) (C) speaks next to U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and Vets4Energy Adviser Rear Admiral Don Loren (L) about the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, on Capitol Hill March 26, 2014.    REUTERS/Larry Downing   (UNITED S Republican Lee Terry

Leading Off:

NE-02: It's been a long time since things have looked good for Republican Rep. Lee Terry. He came close to losing his seat in 2012 to an underfunded opponent even as Romney was winning it 53-46, he made national headlines for all the wrong reasons during the shutdown, and he only narrowly beat a no-named primary challenger in May. Democrats have also posted great numbers in the early vote, and Terry's own party has privately conceded that he's losing.

Terry and his allies at the NRCC know he's in real trouble and have been running a series of ads against Democrat Brad Ashford, accusing him of making it easier for murderers to go free. While Terry has been harshly criticized at home for the spots, it's been an open question how individual voters are responding. DFM Research, on behalf of the union SMART, gives us our first poll in a long time and the results are not good news for Terry: They find Ashford ahead 46-41.

DFM also asked about the Senate and gubernatorial contests and find realistic Republican leads here, so it doesn't look like the sample is too blue. Instead, it's easy to explain why Terry's trailing: Voters utterly hate him. Terry posts a 34-54 favorable rating while Ashford is above water at 40-34. This is just one poll and we'll see if Terry or his allies respond with a better one. The NRCC just aired another spot for the congressman (see our Ads & Independent Expenditures section) so it doesn't look like his party has given up on him. However, given all of Terry's many travails over the fast few years, it's not at all hard to believe that Omaha has finally had enough of him.

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Politics, science and quarantine

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 06:09
internet headlines about quarantine Josh Voorhees: Chris Christie, Andrew Cuomo, and other American governors are the last people who should be making rules about Ebola. TPM: If anything is clear from the reporting of the nurse who was quarantined in a New Jersey hospital over Ebola fears, it's that the actual quarantine itself was handled miserably.

Nurse Kaci Hickox, who returned to the U.S. via Newark airport Friday after treating Ebola patients for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone, described her treatment as "a frenzy of disorganization." She was so flustered that a forehead reading showed her with a fever -- which was then used as reason to quarantine her. Later, they took her temperature again and no fever registered. She was kept in quarantine anyway.

Further reported details of Hickox's predicament made clear that, although New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo were anxious to show resolve and order the quarantine, their local health officials weren't ready to carry out the order in any way that resembled humane treatment.

One of the best discussions I've seen was from an infectious disease expert on The Cycle ~6 minutes in, Dr. Dan Diekema from The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). Take a few minutes to watch the video.

Two more invaluable resources are a NEJM editorial (btw, blasting the NY/NJ Governors):

Health care professionals treating patients with this illness have learned that transmission arises from contact with bodily fluids of a person who is symptomatic — that is, has a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and malaise. We have very strong reason to believe that transmission occurs when the viral load in bodily fluids is high, on the order of millions of virions per microliter. This recognition has led to the dictum that an asymptomatic person is not contagious; field experience in West Africa has shown that conclusion to be valid. Therefore, an asymptomatic health care worker returning from treating patients with Ebola, even if he or she were infected, would not be contagious. Furthermore, we now know that fever precedes the contagious stage, allowing workers who are unknowingly infected to identify themselves before they become a threat to their community. This understanding is based on more than clinical observation: the sensitive blood polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) test for Ebola is often negative on the day when fever or other symptoms begin and only becomes reliably positive 2 to 3 days after symptom onset. This point is supported by the fact that of the nurses caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who died from Ebola virus disease in Texas in October, only those who cared for him at the end of his life, when the number of virions he was shedding was likely to be very high, became infected. Notably, Duncan's family members who were living in the same household for days as he was at the start of his illness did not become infected. and a Q&A from MSF/Doctors with Borders: How contagious was [NYC/MSF Dr Spencer] when he was moving around the city?

Given when his symptoms began, and the extent of his fever when he first reported it—after which he was entirely isolated in his apartment—he would have been an extremely low risk for contagion. This is not an MSF assessment. This is based on all available medical and scientific knowledge about Ebola and how it spreads. Numerous public health and government officials have said as much and have lauded Dr. Spencer for quickly reporting the onset of his fever and for his conduct once the symptoms began.

People tooling around NYC on the subway are not contagious. Contagious people are too sick to travel and too sick to bowl. That's why no one from Dallas or the Cleveland airline exposures became ill. And that's the expected outcome in NYC.

More politics and policy below the fold.

Open thread for night owls: 19th century protections for 21st century workers in 'sharing economy'

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 22:00
Uber protestors Some folks in the "sharing economy" would like a bit more of the sharing to travel in their direction. At In These Times, Amanda Armstrong writes The Sharing Economy: 21st Century Technology, 19th Century Worker Protections:
This summer, the California legislature passed two bills designed to protect workers and consumers caught up in the growing temp and “sharing” economies. While improvements upon the status quo, these legislative reforms, recently signed into law by Governor Brown, exclude some of the most vulnerable workers from the protections they provide.

Most significantly, the bills do not establish protections for those working in the sharing economy, including those driving for Uber and Lyft. The state continues to classify these workers as “independent contractors,” thus denying them workers’ compensation benefits and other labor rights. In excluding this ever-growing class of workers from basic protections, the state is allowing a new sector of the economy to be built on laissez faire labor regimes comparable to those that existed before the passage of workers’ compensation legislation in the early twentieth century, with potentially dire consequences for those whose labor makes the “sharing economy” run. […]

Today, those who fund and manage Uber, Homejoy, Lyft, Taskrabbit, and other start-up companies are attempting to construct a new model of work and economic exchange, which they refer to as the “sharing economy.” Those who profit from this economy classify those who work in it as “independent contractors,” in part in order to avoid responsibility for providing workers’ compensation and other benefits.

The sharing economy’s boosters thus seek to reverse the gains in worker safety realized over a century ago by those who suffered the effects of injurious working conditions and inadequate state support. And, as we’ve witnessed this summer, state legislators and regulatory agencies appear willing to go along with the sharing economy’s “innovative” degradation of workplace safety.

The effects of this degradation are beginning to become apparent. Uber, facing competitive pressures, has begun shifting drivers’ terms of employment in ways that encourage them to dart more quickly from job to job, and to work for twelve, fifteen, or even seventeen hours at a time. Under these conditions, accidents become much more likely—just as they did for overworked 19th century industrial workers with few legal protections.

But since drivers are primarily responsible for covering liability insurance for passengers and pedestrians, and since Uber will continue to bear no cost in the event that drivers suffer injuries while working, the increasingly unsafe conditions imposed on drivers are unlikely to disrupt Uber’s profits or overall business model. That is, unless these unsafe conditions provoke another wave of labor organizing and public outrage. 

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2012The usual suspects show up to block equal protection under the law:

Much has been said about the unprecedented nastiness and audacious lies coming out of the Romney campaign this cycle. Lies and outrageous behavior is merely business as usual in the world of anti-gay politics, however.

Things have gotten particularly ugly in Maryland over the marriage equality ballot referendum that will go before voters in just over a week. This week Maryland Marriage Alliance, the lead organization challenging the law, convened a discussion panel on civil marriage, a discussion that turned decidedly uncivil. A panelist explained to the gathered crowd that God wants gay people dead, and their supporters, as well. (Please don't let that scare you away, straight allies.)

Sadly, par for course as death threats against LGBT Americans arise with great regularly by these "good Christian traditional marriage" advocates. We previously heard them at National Organization for Marriage events in Indiana and New York, and a particularly colorful one coming out of North Carolina. Also common, Nazi and Hitler comparisons, like that coming out of Minnesota. So, it's not surprising.

But even by the standards of anti-gay hate campaigns, one scarcely sees as disreputable rogue gallery as the pious crew assembled in Maryland.

Tweet of the Day I'm not voting next week because 30 years of trickle-down economics hasn't done what they promised so let's have 30 more.
@JohnFugelsang
On today's Kagro in the Morning show: Strict constructionist restaurant turns Alito away. Michele Bachmann looks forward to the grifting life. Greg Dworkin reviews the quarantine policy & history. Meanwhile, Chris Christie spins furiously, insisting he didn't reverse himself. Troops returning from Africa will be quarantined. Students in ME find an Ebola excuse for skipping class. PoliSci profs botch "experiment" with MT elections. A local blogger speculates on the motive. "Sneak & peek" warrants, sold as necessary for fighting terror, are now routine. But hardly ever for terrorism. The amazing Amazon engine burns anything and everything for fuel.

High Impact Posts. Top Comments

Reince Priebus dusts off GOP 2012 playbook in new attack on Hillary

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 19:30
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, speaks during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana June 18, 2011. REUTERS/Lee Celano Goal Thermometer

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus says he's totally fired up for 2016 because Hillary Clinton tries too hard and isn't a good politician:

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus says Hillary Clinton is “becoming sort of a caricature” and that “she’s not really good at politics.”

“I think she’s trying too hard and she’s not really good at this stuff,” Priebus told NewsmaxTV in a interview posted Monday.

The thing that prompted Priebus's attempted zinger is a comment from Hillary at a rally last week with Elizabeth Warren. Hillary's sin? She said "don’t let anybody tell you that corporations and businesses create jobs" instead of "don’t let anybody tell you that tax breaks for corporations and businesses create jobs."

Yawn, right? But not to Reince:

“I don’t know if she was a little off-script on that particular moment, but it clearly wasn’t natural and it was certainly awkward,” the RNC chairman said. “And if it was serious, then obviously she doesn’t understand capitalism and democracy in a way that business and jobs operate.” Wow, how scary! Hillary Clinton doesn't understand capitalism and democracy. Remind you of anyone? Oh yeah, Barack Obama, who completely blew his re-election campaign with his infamous "you didn't build that" gaffe, which propelled Mitt Romney to the White House in 2012 because what people really want in a president is someone whose mission in life is to protect and defend the job creators of America and to never say anything that could be interpreted otherwise. Please chip in $3 to help elect more and better Democrats in 2014's top races so we can enter 2016 strong!

Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats. Naturally, Reince is ecstatic that Hillary is making the same mistake as former President Obama, and is utterly convinced that President Romney will win in 2016 just like he did in 2012:
“There’d be no one you would want more to run against than Hillary Clinton, and on top of it, she’s not really good at politics,” Priebus said, pointing to her recent book tour, which he called a “disaster.” In all seriousness, let's just file this one away for November 2016. According to Reince Priebus, Hillary Clinton is the GOP's dream opponent because she sucks as a politician. I can't wait to see how that statement measures up after they nominate Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush or Rand Paul or Mike Huckabee or Ben Carson or whichever clown manages to rise the to top of the GOP field. Something tells me he won't be so giddy then.

Cartoon: Income Inequality

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 16:50

Support this cartoonist's work for a little as a latte a month via PATREON!!

What Mike Brown did and did not do inside of the Ferguson convenience store

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 16:46
Approximately 15 minutes before he was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson on Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, Mike Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson entered a local convenience store, the Ferguson Market. What happened in the store has been subject to much debate and was very much shaped by the initial release of photos and a shortened video of the full 50 seconds Mike Brown and Dorian Johnson were inside of the store. The entire video, which is 1:40 seconds long, synthesizes two different videos together, showing the different camera angles of those 50 seconds.

What follows will be an analysis of the video showing what happened inside of the Ferguson Market and how it has been misrepresented by the Ferguson Police Department—a video, if you remember, that the Department of Justice specifically requested the Ferguson authorities not to release.

Below the fold is the full video, from two different angles, showing the 50 seconds Mike Brown and Dorian Johnson were inside of the Ferguson Market.

Judge offers BS reasons for refusing to rule on 40,000 missing voter registrations in Georgia

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 15:57
Georgia House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams. Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and founder of the
civic advocacy organization, New Georgia Project. In a Tuesday decision called "outrageous" by one leading voter advocate, Superior Court Judge Christopher Brasher of Fulton County denied a petition demanding that the Georgia secretary of state process 40,000 voter registrations missing from a public database. Alice Ollstein reports:

Goal Thermometer

Though early voting is well underway in the state, Judge Brasher called the lawsuit “premature,” and said it was based on “merely set out suspicions and fears that the [state officials] will fail to carry out their mandatory duties.”

Angela Aldridge, an organizer with the group 9 to 5 Atlanta Working Women who has been working to register voters for several months, told ThinkProgress she was “furious” when she learned of the outcome: “That impedes people’s rights,” she said. “People need information before they go out to vote and they don’t even know if they’re registered or not. They were discouraged, upset, kind of frazzled, not really knowing what was going on. What can you even say to people who want to vote but possibly can’t? They might get disengaged and say, ‘Why vote? It doesn’t matter.’ It’s really disheartening.”

The lawsuit was filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P., the law firm Sandler, Reiff, Lamb, Rosenstein & Birkenstock, P.C., attorney Jerry Wilson and attorneys for the NAACP, after the secretary of state’s office denied requests for a face-to-face meeting to discuss the missing applications.

Those missing registrations represent 1.5 percent of the Georgians who voted in 2010. So, if it turns out the missing registrations don't get processed and some losing candidates come forward after the election to say they might have won had the registrations been processed, what can be done to fix things? Nothing. Because there are no election do-overs. This might not only affect some obscure down-ballot candidates. After all, Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue are in a tight race for the Senate seat of retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

The group leading the voter registration effort—the New Georgia Project—has estimated that 800,000 Georgians—"people of color, voters between the ages of 18 and 29, and unmarried women—what the group calls the 'Rising American Electorate'" weren't registered to vote this past January. Since then the group—founded by the Democratic  leader of the Republican-dominated Georgia House, Rep. Stacey Abrams—says it and 12 partner groups registered around 116,000 new voters. But in court last Friday, the group said 40,000 of those registrations had not been processed in five counties—all of them encompassing Democratic strongholds in Atlanta, Columbus and Savannah. Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp said the claim was wrong.

A cynic might think that this is yet one more voter suppression technique in a state with a long history of such suppression. And it appears the suppressors may get away with it.

Please help protect the vote for all and give $3 to Daily Kos-endorsed secretary of state candidates.

Daily Kos Elections ad roundup: Does Ed Gillespie sound just a tad desperate to you?

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 15:47

Leading Off:

VA-Sen: Republican Ed Gillespie's campaign against Democratic Sen. Mark Warner has not gone incredibly well. Gillespie consistently trails in the polls and doesn't have enough money left to run a statewide ad campaign. Gillespie's pretty desperate, so it's not surprise he's throwing a truly stupid Hail Mary in his new spot.

The narrator notes that Harry Reid is trying to get the Washington football team to change its name, and Warner won't say if he supports it. Gillespie then appears and declares, "I'll oppose the anti-Redskins bill." He then calls for focusing on creating jobs and safety "and let the Redskins handle what to call their team."

The ad doesn't exactly make much sense: Warner's not saying anything about this bill, so Virginia should elect someone who will focus on real issues and not football names? Whatever, it's not like Gillespie has any other options but to lose quietly.

Head below the fold for a roundup of ads from races around the country.

DSCC returns to airwaves in Kentucky: McConnell 'working for himself, not us'

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 14:21

Here's the ad that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will run in Kentucky in the wake of their decision last week to commit $650,000 in television ads against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on behalf of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes:

Goal Thermometer

The ad features Estelle Bayer, a Kentucky school teacher, speaking direct-to-camera. Bayer says she's been a teacher for 35 years and that for the past 30 of those years, McConnell has represented Kentucky in the Senate.

The problem, says Bayer, is that while McConnell has voted for pay raises for himself and has become a millionaire, McConnell has blocked efforts to raise the minimum wage. Moreover, during McConnell's tenure, Kentucky has lagged in job growth, ranking 44th in the nation. So, Bayer concludes, "after 30 years, it just feels like Mitch is making his job work for him, and not us."

Help elect more and better Democrats by chipping in $3 to our top races in the final days of the 2014 campaign.

Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats. It's hard to make negative ads stick in the final days of the campaign, especially ones that go over the top, explaining why this ad is restrained in tone and style. It's not that it's soft—Bayer's message is clearly an attack—but soothing music plays throughout and Bayer herself has a gentle demeanor. If she proves to be a credible messenger, it should do Grimes some good, because it's exactly the message that she's running on: That after 30 years of being a politician in DC, Mitch McConnell isn't what Kentucky needs in the U.S. Senate.

Midday open thread: Ernst says no 'proven proof' of climate change, gasoline prices at 4-year low

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 14:00

This is a close election. Whoever works hardest will win

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 13:57
Supporters of Michelle Nunn GOTV (2014) Supporters of Michelle Nunn GOTV in Georgia. What are YOU doing to get out the vote?

Last week I took a look at just how close this election is, where a swing of just 2-3 points in Democratic performance is the difference between a great night and a nightmare scenario. This post is an update based on the latest batch of polling.

Using the poll aggregator at the Huffington Post, I've compiled the current state of the hottest races this cycle, as well as what would happen if Dems shift the numbers a mere two points, then three points.

There hasn't been much major movement since the last poll. Republicans seem to be expanding their lead in the Arizona governor's race, while Democrats seem to have pulled away in the Rhode Island governor's race. Everything else? We're talking float, or even crappy polling. For example, Republican incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell in Alaska has gone from a 4-point deficit in the last writeup to a one-point advantage this time. What changed? A CBS/NYT/YouGov poll showing Parnell leading 42-39. The margin of error on that poll? NINE PERCENT.

But again, I like these numbers as a worst-case scenario baseline, so despite myriad caveats we could assign, let's take these numbers at face value. Because whether they're spot on or undercounting Democratic numbers based on likely voter screens assuming 2010 turnout, fact is, this is still a 50-50 election, and everything will hinge on turnout.

Goal ThermometerIn the Senate, the numbers have us losing every battleground state except for North Carolina (where Dems are rocking the early vote) and Michigan. That means loses in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia, and no pickups in either Georgia, Kansas, or Kentucky. Thus, a 53-47 Mitch McConnell Senate.

But if we GOTV like hell and outperform the polls (which already appears to be happening in several places), and suddenly we hold Iowa, pick up Kansas and (maybe) Georgia, and we have a tied race in Colorado. That likely means a Democratic Senate. And at that point, the rest of the races are just 1-2 point GOP leads, so Dems would be within reach of holding the bulk of these seats.

In the governor races, Dems can go from a ho-hum night to a blockbuster night. Take the data at face value, and Democrats pick up Pennsylvania and Kansas, lose Arkansas, and are tied in Connecticut (D), Florida (R), and Maine (R). So basically, anywhere from a net gain of 0-3 seats. However, gain those three GOTV points, and we're looking at gains in Alaska, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, with just that single loss in Arkansas. Georgia is also tied. So a net gain of 6-7 seats.

Of course, we could always underperform the polls because we sat on our asses and watched from the sidelines. And in that case ... you can do the math.

This all comes down to GOTV. We work harder than they do, turn out more people than they do, we can really take this lemon of an election cycle and make delicious, refreshing lemonade out of it. And just imagine, if Republicans can't win this cycle, when everything is stacked in their favor, forget about them winning any other time.

The most effective GOTV you can do? Talk to your friends, families, and co-workers. No one has more influence in how they vote than YOU. (Seriously, that's been scientifically proven.) And that's something everyone here can do, no excuses. It doesn't take money, it takes minimal time.

For those who can do more, you can make calls to get our partisans to the polls, or you can donate those last three bucks to a worthy campaign. In an election when hundreds of votes may decide key races, every last bit of effort on your part makes a real difference.

That 93-year-old turned away at the polls in Texas is not the only person rejected for lacking an ID

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 13:51
Texas Goal Thermometer

Texas election Judge William Parsley told Emily Atkin at Think Progress that he had only seen one person turned away during the first six days of early voting at his downtown Houston polling station. In fact, there have been plenty of rejects.

That fellow Parsley rejected was a 93-year-old veteran whose driver's license had expired. Under the strict new Texas voter ID law that the U.S. Supreme Court gave a thumbs-up to, a current driver's license is one of the seven forms of identity accepted for voting. Those forms of identification—passport, military ID, veteran ID, non-driver's Texas ID, special voter's ID, a Texas gun license—exclude tribal IDs and student IDs. Out-of-date IDs are only acceptable if they have been expired for 60 days or less. Voter advocates estimate at least 600,000 Texans don't have any of the mandated IDs. For many people without the right ID there are financial and other obstacles to acquiring one:

The man Parsley said he had to turn away was a registered voter, but his license had been expired for a few years, likely because he had stopped driving. Parsley said the man had never gotten a veteran’s identification card. And though he had “all sorts” of other identification cards with his picture on it, they weren’t valid under the law—so the election judges told him he had to go to the Department of Public Safety, and renew his license.

“He just felt real bad, you know, because he’s voted all his life,” Parsley said.

Sympathy does little good with unbendable rules. Those rules were designed to discriminate, according to federal district Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who wrote the scathing 147-page ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court tossed aside October 18 to give Texas the go-ahead on its new law. That voter ID law, passed in 2011, originally was blocked under the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act. But the Supreme Court trashed that VRA provision in a 2013 ruling.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a fiery dissent over the Court's Texas ruling 10 days ago:

The District Court noted particularly plaintiffs’ evidence—largely unchallenged by Texas—regarding the State’s long history of official discriminationin voting, the statewide existence of racially polarized voting, the incidence of overtly racial political campaigns,the disproportionate lack of minority elected officials, and the failure of elected officials to respond to the concerns of minority voters.

The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.

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