Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday Mashup (10/28/10)

  • Former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm actually asked a good question today here (shocking, I know)…

    “When’s the last time you heard someone from Harvard admit that they were wrong?”

    Hmmm, I have to admit that that’s a real poser for me too (Harvard Business ’75, to be exact).

  • Next, the Bucks County Courier Times assigned two more reporters to the absentee ballot application controversy and actually did a respectable job in reporting the story today (here)…

    In documents filed with the Bucks County Board of Elections, the state Democratic committee said the Republican Party machine that controls county government is working to disenfranchise voters.

    "What makes their current scheme so egregious is that the Republicans are trying to prevent people, many of whom are ill or bedridden and incapable of going to the polls on Election Day, from legally casting absentee ballots," wrote Philadelphia attorney Keith Smith, of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, in the response for state Democrats.

    The response asked the board of elections to dismiss the Republican complaint in its entirety.

    A letter to the board of elections penned for the state committee by Doylestown attorney Jordan Yeager noted that among more than 600 absentee ballot applications rejected by board of elections staff for defects including signatures and birthdates that don't match voter registration records, 82 percent were from Democratic voters.

    The letter called upon the board of elections to provide more time for voters to submit absentee ballots due to the large number of rejected applications and subsequent delays in obtaining ballots.

    Yeager said the state election code contains a provision for emergency absentee ballots to be submitted until the close of polls on Election Day. Normally, the deadline for absentee ballots is the Friday before the election. The deadline for voters to apply for an absentee ballot was Tuesday.

    "We're saying, 'You're the cause of this. You ought not hold them to that five o'clock Friday deadline. Give them until Tuesday. We're still trying to clean up the mess you made,' " Yeager said.
    And in response…

    In his own news conference Wednesday, Fitzpatrick called for Murphy to answer questions regarding the Democratic get-out-the-vote effort that included a series of letters to Bucks County voters the Republicans labeled misleading.

    Fitzpatrick said he wants to know who compiled the list of addresses where the letters were sent, why those people were targeted and who is going door-to-door on behalf of his campaign. While Persico acknowledged the campaign's involvement with the letters, he said Tuesday that the Murphy campaign has not employed anyone to canvass neighborhoods.

    State Republican committee spokesman Michael Barley said the allegations against the Democrats and Murphy are serious and called for the criminal investigation to continue.

    "Republicans continue to stand in favor of ensuring that every registered voter can cast their ballot while Patrick Murphy seems OK signing people up for absentee ballots whether or not they actually requested them," he said.
    To begin, Fitzpatrick’s request is completely unreasonable because the “burden of proof” is not on the state Democratic Party, but on the Bucks County Board of Elections Republican Party. In addition, the charge that absentee ballots were sent to people who did not request them is completely baseless; anonymous individuals are cited in the story who say that they were approached to fill out forms for absentee ballots, but no one goes on the record of course (a charge dutifully repeated in an editorial in the paper today that might as well have been written by Bucks Repug Party Chair Harry Fawkes).

    As usual, Mikey and his playmates are fishing for a campaign issue out of this.


    The Democratic state committee asserts the letters were part of a voter education effort to inform recipients of their right to vote by absentee ballot if they meet specific qualifications. The committee also contends that letters comply with state election law.

    It rejects a GOP allegation that the Democrats had voters return their ballot applications to a post office box rather than the county voter registration office so that the party could screen them.

    "Since the letter was only addressed to registered Democratic voters, there would be no rationale to 'screen' applications," the Democrats' response says.

    The committee also says Republicans have no evidence to support their allegation that applications were screened or discarded.

    The Democrats also criticize the Republicans' inclusion of affidavits by Bucks County voters who claim they were approached by "a man" or "young man."

    The Democrats also say that six affidavits by Bucks County voters included in the Republican petition are unreliable. The voters claim they were approached by young men who encouraged them to apply for unneeded absentee ballots or complete an application on a family member's behalf.

    "Based upon the description provided + it is not possible to identify who the people were that allegedly approached the accusers," the Democrats' response says. The Democrats also say neither the party nor any Democratic candidate would have authorized the activities alleged in the petition.

    Finally, the state Democrats argue that the state election code provides no legal basis for the Republicans' request to prevent absentee ballots from being counted until the board of elections can complete an investigation of the party's allegations.

    Yeager's letter on behalf of the state committee alleges the board of elections has disenfranchised voters by falsely claiming the signatures on their absentee ballot applications does not match the signatures on file with the board of elections. A review of 13 voters' files reveals the signatures on their applications do, in fact, closely match those on file, Yeager wrote.

    Yeager also wrote that the board of elections appears to have denied absentee ballots because the applicants provided invalid excuses for not voting at the polls. He said the Democrats identified a representative sample of 11 voters whose applications were denied despite providing valid reasons for their absence including work and family obligations.

    Several people contacted by the newspaper Wednesday whose ballot applications were rejected said they had similar experiences to those described in the Democratic responses.

    Betty Schramm of Furlong said her daughter Katherine Schramm-Strosser received a notice that her ballot application was rejected because the signature on the application did not match county records. Schramm said her daughter's signature has likely evolved in the 12 years since she first registered to vote.

    Karen Monahan of Middletown said her son Brett Monahan applied for an absentee ballot because he attends college in New York. His application was also rejected because the signature did not match the one on file.
    Gee, I wonder if Monahan’s signature was rejected because the ascending character in the letter “T” of his first name was missing or crooked?

    And by the way, I have no proof of any wrongdoing on the part of Deena Dean, the Bucks County Board of Elections Director. However, as noted here in the matter of the Creekside polling place move from about two years ago, it apparently has been common practice for her to be bullied by Commissioners Jim Cawley and Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin, as well as former Operations Officer David Sanko, in the course of the three trying to get what they want. Is it really a stretch to think that that didn’t happen again in this case (at least concerning Cawley and Martin)?

    I think it’s safe to say that this story will be ongoing for some time, as long as it takes to get to the bottom of this mess.

  • In addition, Texas Repug U.S. House Rep Lamar Smith warned us here that the election next Tuesday is also about Terra! Terra! Terra!...

    We know that former Gitmo detainees often return to terrorism. The Pentagon has reported that at least 20% of released Gitmo terrorists have returned to plotting attacks against Americans.
    In response, I give you the following (here)…

    So who are these approximately 116 men (out of the 532 prisoners released from Guantánamo under George W. Bush) who have allegedly “engaged in recidivist activities”?

    We know, from earlier Pentagon claims, that this “recidivism” has included — and may well still include — publishing houses, the offices of newspapers, TV studios, and film sets because the Pentagon admitted (in a press release that was subsequently deleted from the Pentagon’s website, but is mirrored here) that it included former prisoners, like the Tipton Three — three young men from the West Midlands — who had appeared in a movie, The Road to Guantánamo, which dramatized their experiences, and the five Uighurs sent to Albania in 2006, after tribunals at Guantánamo cleared them of being “enemy combatants.” In the latter case, this was apparently because one of them, Abu Bakker Qassim, wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times in which he urged U.S. lawmakers to defend habeas corpus.

    In the years since, many more ex-prisoners have written books, newspaper articles, and op-eds, and have appeared on TV and in films. Perhaps Omar Deghayes, the British resident (released in 2007), who appeared in the Guantánamo documentary that I co-directed, Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo, has now joined this ever-expanding group of “recidivists” who have dared to use their words and their voices to “attack” the United States for what it did to them in its brutal, experimental prisons in Afghanistan, Guantánamo and elsewhere.

    Clearly, however, the main thrust of this propaganda is directed not at these men, but at others — 70, 80, 90 men, perhaps — who have supposedly engaged in terrorism since their release.

    Is this plausible? In a word, no.
    This is par for the proverbial course when it comes to Smith, though – as noted here, he claimed that Obama AG Eric Holder didn’t use the expression “a radical version of Islam” when testifying before Congress (Holder did) and he equated illegal immigrants with “terrorist weapons” here.

    But believe it or not, Smith doesn’t think terrorism is the greatest threat facing this country; as noted here, his number one boogeyman is “liberal media bias.”

    The best way to respond to this from Smith is to click here and support his opponent next Tuesday, Lainey Melnick.

  • Also, it looks like the “stim” created more “non-jobs” in PA (snark) based on this last night…

    LOWER MAKEFIELD TOWNSHIP, Oct. 27 – State Rep. Steven J. Santarsiero, D-Bucks, will participate in a ribbon-cutting event to mark the completion of a project to replace 23 incandescent traffic lights with LED models, as well as replace all freestanding parking lot light poles with LED fixtures at the Lower Makefield Township Building.

    The event will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28 at the township building, 1100 Edgewood Road in Yardley.

    Santarsiero, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger and other local officials are expected to attend the event.

    Lower Makefield Township received this grant through the PA Conservation Works! Program, a competitive grant program, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is designed to help local government and nonprofit organizations improve energy efficiency, curb energy consumption and reduce energy costs by at least 25 percent.
    Sorry I’m a little late getting to this – to support Steve, click here.

  • Update 1/14/11: Speaking of John Hanger, this letter doesn't cast him in a favorable light on the issue of hydrofracking and the Marcellus Shale.

  • Finally, I know I’ve been beating the drum about voting next Tuesday and supporting Democrats as if our livelihoods depended on it (it does as far as I’m concerned), but as this tells us, President Obama recently met with five of our “A list” brethren yesterday. And that’s a good thing.

    Anybody have a clue as to why it took him a week until the election to do it?

  • Update: Dear God Almighty, “President Hopey Changey” just let the air out of another balloon (here – I know The DC is a questionable source, but they’d have to go a long way to fabricate a quote like that, which, unfortunately, isn’t likely here given Number 44’s penchant to “build bridges,” which is usually commendable, but not now).

    Tim Profitt isn’t just a “supporter” – He’s A CAMPAIGN COORDINATOR FOR RAND PAUL! (Update: The NY Times reported today that Profitt is no longer with the Rand Paul campaign)

    And as noted here, Profitt wants an apology from the woman whose head he stomped.

    For this.

    Yes, I’m serious.

    “In fairness, I don’t expect every candidate to be responsible for every single supporter’s actions”…

    If someone from the Conway campaign had done this to a Paul supporter (though I give them more credit than that), every Repug in this country would be calling for a congressional investigation (and probably screaming ACORN all over the place, even though the group is defunct…why let the truth get in the way of some genuine propaganda?).

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