Nel's New Day

November 2, 2012

We Need to Vote!

Recent Barack Obama endorsements: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and The Economist!  For all his businesslike intentions, Mr. Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says.”

One person can make a difference in the selection of the president for the next four years; in this case it may be Ohio’s Republican secretary of state John Husted. First, he fought for voter photo ID that would disenfranchise Democrats. Next, he continued to go to court to keep predominantly Democratic districts from early voting, particularly at nights and on weekends when blue-collar workers could go to the polls.

Not satisfied with these ploys, Husted is in charge of voting machines in a state where thousands of absentee ballot requests have been rejected. Husted said that it’s just a computer error, but the computers—owned by a company with connections to Mitt Romney—have dumped absentee ballot requests at an abnormally high rate in Cuyahoga County, a Democratic stronghold that includes Cleveland where 865 ballot requests have been erroneously thrown out.

Without the ability to vote by absentee, these voters are forced to go to the polls where they will probably be required to use a provisional ballot, which are notoriously thrown in the garbage. The total is 4,500 registered voters across the state left waiting for their absentee ballots while as many as 6,000 provisional ballots cast by registered voters could be tossed out. If by some good fortune the provisional ballots are counted, this won’t happen until November 17, according to state law.

Also, thanks to Husted, votes from people who vote in the wrong polling station because pollworkers directed them there will also be discounted, according to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. That was a common problem in the dysfunctional 2004 presidential election. How easy it is to get rid of votes—just sent voters to the wrong place. These are all the pieces that could add up to a win for Romney is a state with elected officials determined to be Republican no matter how many people vote Democratic.

That said, I want to talk about the importance of voting. On Monday, the day before Election Day, Oregon celebrates its 100th anniversary of woman suffrage, eight years before the nation followed suit in 1920. Today, I asked the owner of a small restaurant if she had voted. (Everyone in Oregon votes by mail.) She said that she planned to vote on Monday and that she was encouraging all her friends to vote although some of them said they might not bother. I told her to tell the young women that women starved themselves and were beaten and imprisoned so that they would have the right to vote. As for the men, I said to tell them that they should vote so that their girlfriends and wives could continue to get contraception.

Her friends who are considering not voting are joined by 90 million other people in the United States out of 207,643,594 eligible voters.    I understand why people caught in the storm and unable to get to the polls would not vote, but there is no excuse for the other “unlikely voters.” Two-thirds of these people are already registered to vote, and eight in 10 say the government plays an important role in their lives. But they’re too busy, or they don’t care much for either candidate, or their vote wouldn’t matter, or the president didn’t do everything he promised.

Another complaint that unlikely voters have is the negative tone to the campaigns. Ironically, the people who complain about this may determine their vote from the harsh lies told by one side or the other. If negative advertising didn’t work, candidates wouldn’t use this approach. But one woman who said she wouldn’t vote because of the negativity has never voted.

Yet over half the unlikely voters see a difference between the two major parties. By 43 to 18 percent, they support President Obama. Two-thirds of the unlikely voters say they voted four years ago. Yet four years ago, with enthusiasm at its high and no storm on the East Coast, almost 80 million people didn’t vote. Perhaps some of them had a sense of embarrassment in admitting that they didn’t vote. Almost half the unlikely voters have an annual household income of under $60,000, comparable to all eligible voters, and nearly six in 10 have no more than a high school diploma, again about the same percentage as eligible voters.

Asides: Even Fox servants are rebelling against the lies that the network spews out into the blogosphere. Appearing on Fox and Friends, Geraldo Rivera first called out host Eric Bolling for his claim that no one sent any help after the Benghazi attack. Rivera declared, “That is an obscene lie. You are a politician looking to make a political point.” When Bolling tried to assert that there were available rescue teams, Rivera continued to disagree, “You are misleading the American people because you want to make a political point. We have never in the history of this republic mounted a raid on the circumstance described here ever.” A new report, based on surveillance tapes, shows that the U.S. acted promptly following the attack.

Not happy with lies about Benghazi, Bolling and co-host Steve Doocy accused NBC of throwing a benefit tonight for storm victims rather than waiting for New York City to “get its feet under itself.” It’s like Michael Brown, Hurricane Katrina’s FEMA director, criticizing President Obama for rushing in to alert people about the storm rather than waiting a week after the disaster the way Brown did.  Bolling and Doocy, however, had no criticism for Romney’s faux “storm relief event.”

Concerned about Russia’s response to Romney’s harsh rhetoric, his son Matt traveled to Moscow on business and told a Russian known to deliver messages to President Vladimir V. Putin that his father wants good relations with Russia. Romney’s declaration that Russia “is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe,” has caused alarm among Russian leadership regarding diplomatic relations between the two countries. Matt Romney was in Russia looking for investors for his California-based real estate firm, Excel, a real estate investment trust that avoids taxation by distributing 90 percent or more of its taxable income in the form of a dividend.

Voting lines are really long in Florida, partly because Gov. Rick Scott reduced the amount of time after then-Gov. Charlie Crist extended them in 2008—because the lines were really long. Democrats asked Scott to extend the amount of time; he refused but gave voters this advice: “I want everybody to get out to vote.”

When a non-partisan Congressional Research Service documented that giving tax breaks to the rich helps concentrate wealth at the top but doesn’t boost the economy, Republican lawmakers, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), had the report killed this past week. McConnell follows the Republican Bush tradition of elimination information such as an increase in terrorism in 2005, increased factory closings in the same year, and under-performing charter schools.

The auto bailout that Romney complains about was good for his family: they personally profited at least $15.3 million. The bad news for Romney is the discovery that his June 1, 2012, Public Financial Disclosure Report to the Office of Government Ethics did not reveal this windfall because he did not disclose the underlying holdings of his private equity and limited partnership funds. The worse news is that a number of groups are calling on the U.S. Office of Government Ethics to investigate Romney for noncompliance with the Ethics in Government Act and compel him to either disclose his investments or divest them.

Last April, Bishop Daniel Jenky, head of a Catholic diocese in Illinois, used his mass to compare President Obama and Senate Democrats to Hitler and Stalin. Now he has mandated every priest in his diocese to read a letter indicating that parishioners’ salvation is based on voting the right way—no mention of President Obama but it’s obvious. Nicholas DiMarzio, a New York Catholic bishop, expressed similar sentiments last week. The wall between church and state is tattered.

Steven Benen has counted 917 lies out of Romney’s mouth this past year—but there could be more. We still have four days to go!

Even corporation executives are fed up with the lies—especially when their companies are affects. Trump, from his Twitter account, said, “Obama is a terrible negotiator. He bails out Chrysler and now Chrysler wants to send all Jeep manufacturing to China–and will!” Chrysler’s head of product design Ralph Gilles, from his Twitter account, answered Trump: “You are full of shit!”

While all this is happening, George W. Bush is in the Cayman Islands, giving the keynote speech at a conference on how to avoid paying taxes to the United States.

My last word: there will be a special The Rachel Maddow Show on Sunday!


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