NYT Editorial: This is how voter intimidation worked in 1966: White teenagers in Americus, Ga., harassed black citizens in line to vote, and the police refused to intervene. Black plantation workers in Mississippi had to vote in plantation stores, overseen by their bosses. Black voters in Choctaw County, Ala., had to hand their ballots directly to white election officials for inspection.
This is how it works today: In an ostensible hunt for voter fraud, a Tea Party group, True the Vote, descends on a largely minority precinct and combs the registration records for the slightest misspelling or address error. It uses this information to challenge voters at the polls, and though almost every challenge is baseless, the arguments and delays frustrate those in line and reduce turnout.
The thing that’s different from the days of overt discrimination is the phony pretext of combating voter fraud. Voter identity fraud is all but nonexistent, but the assertion that it might exist is used as an excuse to reduce the political rights of minorities, the poor, students, older Americans and other groups that tend to vote Democratic.
Michael Tomasky: The release of the Romney tax returns is so amateurish that it almost offends me…..
Romney had pledged, in that ABC interview in Israel, that he’d never paid less than 13 percent to the feds. But to make that true for tax year 2011, the campaign admits that he artificially refused to take some deductions so that the rate would stay above the magic number.
But wait a second. Isn’t this the same Mitt Romney who said back in January: “I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes.”
In fact, it is. So he just released returns that, when stacked against his earlier statement, disqualify him for the presidency by his own lights. Amazing…..
Demonstrators hold up signs as Mitt Romney’s motorcade passes enroute to a campaign fundraiser in Hillsborough, California, September 21
Washington Post editorial: Going with the best-defense-is-a-good-offense approach, the Romney campaign is accusing President Obama of being a — gasp! — redistributionist. In a rather pale replay of 2008’s Joe the Plumber spread-the-wealth debate, the GOP dredged up a 14-year-old video.
…. The campaign apparently thinks that voters will find “redistribution” a scary word. But does Mr. Romney really disagree with the belief that part of government’s role is, in Mr. Obama’s words, to help “make sure that everybody’s got a shot”? To tax is to redistribute. To govern is to redistribute….
…. It’s indisputable that Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama have diverging views about the danger posed by increasing income inequality and the degree of redistribution in which government should engage. But the Romney campaign’s desperate, clownish portrayal of Mr. Obama does this important debate a serious disservice.
1:30 Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill campaign at a rally in Merrimack, New Hampshire
6:40: President Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at Henry Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee (I need to check that time, CNN’s live streaming schedule has a habit of getting these things wrong)
7:30 ET: Michelle Obama will address the Congressional Black Caucus – live on C-SPAN
Charles Pierce: …. my fellow Papists … if you all would be so kind, please shut the fk up about birth control, abortion, and this neverending madness about what ladies do with their lady parts without the pope’s permission.
….. please stop going on my television set and telling me what “the Catholic position” is on the fact that the president has told various Catholic institutions – and told them quite gently, too – that, yes, if they want all those nice juicy tax advantages, they must abide by the federal law and, in their capacities as employers, make contraceptives available to their employees under the new Affordable Care Act.
There is no “Catholic position” on this issue. There are the opinions of the clerical bureaucrats and the members of the Clan of The Red Beanie, and then there is the opinion of the overwhelming majority of Catholic laypeople, who stopped listening to anything the Vatican said on the matter of birth control back in 1965.
…. For that matter, there is no real “Catholic vote” out there to be mined, either. A breakdown of how American Catholics vote on one particular issue or another pretty much tracks with how the country in general breaks down … Catholics made up their mind on this issue long ago. They stopped listening to Rome, and to the Chancery, and most of them are much better off.
Kevin Drum: …. I guess I’m tired of religious groups operating secular enterprises (hospitals, schools), hiring people of multiple faiths, serving the general public, taking taxpayer dollars – and then claiming that deeply held religious beliefs should exempt them from public policy …. I imagine the “religious community” in the United States would be a wee bit more understanding if the Obama administration refused to condone the practice.
…. if Catholic hospitals don’t want to follow reasonable, 21st century secular rules, they need to make themselves into truly religious enterprises. In particular, they need to stop taking secular taxpayer money. As long as they do, though, they should follow the same rules as anyone else.
Josh Kraushaar (National Journal): If President Obama wins re-election, he’ll point to the last couple of weeks as a turning point. He’s sharpened his economic message, emphasized fairness for the middle class, and most importantly, he’s benefited from an economy that’s showing some signs of improvement.
But the most underplayed development are signs that the president’s approval rating is ticking upwards with the group most resistant to him, non-college educated, working-class whites. Over the last week, several surveys have suggested that Obama is gaining some ground with this group, in both national and statewide polling. If these gains stick, it’s something that should be very concerning to the Romney campaign, which is dependent on winning overwhelming support from blue-collar white voters as part of a winning GOP coalition.
…. As Buffalo Springfield once sang: “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” Pay very close attention to Obama’s numbers with the white working-class. The assumption was that they were hardened against the president. But there’s some fresh evidence that could be changing.
Bloomberg: President Barack Obama nominated Air Force Lieutenant General Janet Wolfenbarger to be the service’s first female four-star general and the military’s second woman to reach the highest rank.
Wolfenbarger, the Air Force’s top uniformed official for weapons development, was also nominated as commander of the Air Force’s Materiel Command, according to a Defense Department statement today. The positions are subject to Senate confirmation.
The first woman with four stars in the U.S. military, Army General Ann Dunwoody, was confirmed in 2008 and is commanding general of that service’s Materiel Command.
Obama Foodorama: Expect some hilarious Let’s Move! hijinks on Tuesday night when First Lady Michelle Obama cameos in a video segment on NBC talk show Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The comic visited Mrs. Obama last week at the White House to film the outing, which will air as part of this week’s celebration of the second anniversary of the Let’s Move! campaign. Among other fitness activities, the First Lady had Fallon running up and down the historic White House stairs, he said when he announced the upcoming cameo…..
Steve Benen: Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann campaigned in Florida yesterday, attending services at a Baptist megachurch near Tampa. Afterwards, the right-wing lawmaker offered a rather unique perspective on the weekend’s weather developments:
“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”
…. under sensible political norms, this should probably be a career-killer for a national political figure …. anyone who thinks the federal budget prompted God to send a hurricane that killed 20 Americans has issues that far exceed flakiness …. Bachmann’s reported remarks should effectively ruin her political ambitions.
NYT: Gov. Rick Perry, a no-apologies conservative known for slashing government spending and opposing all tax increases, is about as Republican as you can get. But that was not always the case.
Mr. Perry spent his first six years in politics as a Democrat, in a somewhat forgotten history that is sure to be revived and scrutinized by Republican opponents if he decides to run for president.
… Perry cast some votes and took a few stands that seem to be at odds with his fiscal conservatism today. The most vivid example is his support of the $5.7 billion tax hike in 1987, signed by Gov. Bill Clements, a Republican, opposed by most Republican members…..
… Almost a quarter-century later, Mr. Perry, as governor, was faced with a similar budget shortfall. But he took a markedly different tack this session, opposing any new taxes and signing a budget that made the first reduction in overall spending on public education since at least 1949.
…. As a House Democrat, Mr. Perry was also the co-author of legislation aimed at tripling the amount of money state legislators are paid….
… he was a top Texas supporter and organizer in 1988 for Al Gore, who ran as a Southern conservative rather than the populist reformer he eventually became as the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee.
… In 1984, fellow Democrats recruited Mr. Perry to run for a State House seat …. Perry easily won and quickly became known as a rising star in the Texas House.
…. Rumors that Mr. Perry would defect to the Republican Party – and run against Jim Hightower, the populist Democratic agriculture commissioner – picked up steam by late 1989. On Sept. 29, Mr. Perry made it official at a Capitol news conference….