Tuesday, October 14, 2008

McCain Struggling, Economic Plan Reality Check, Following Palin On The Trail (But Still Being Denied Interviews) And Alan Greenspan Named A Culprit

Hi everybody. Hey, guess what? BREAKING NEWS, of course! We had another schizophrenic Dow day, closing 76 points down, and now Asian markets are sliding in reaction. But I have decided to be Zen about this whole situation and stop judging the economy by the markets. We're up, we're down, we're up, we're down. A girl can only take so much, you know?

Moving on now to a Candy Crowley piece on McCain's finally-rolled-out economic plan. One key factor of said plan? Wait for it . . . tax cuts! I bet you never saw that coming. (And, uh, how is that new?) In fairness, Candy gives us details, but whatever. It's not like I delved into Obama's plan either. Go to their sites, people. Candy tells us that McCain is specifically gearing aspects of his plan to seniors, who generally turn out to vote for him. Of course, never before has he had to contend with a Great Schlep, so we shall see.

Following Candy's piece, she talks with Anderson Cooper about how McCain is going after Obama on taxes. Neither bothers to correct false statements. Apparently this is just strategy talk. They also bring up a radio interview that McCain did with a station here in St. Louis. The subject of Ayers comes up and McCain is asked if he'll be confronting Obama on this. The reply is in the affirmative, which a lot of people pounced on today, but in context, it sounds like he'll confront him in tomorrow's debate only if the subject comes up, though it also sounds like he thinks Obama's comments have ensured that it will. Stay tuned.

We then move into the inevitable strategy session, with tonights seats being warmed by David Gergen, Alex Castellanos, and Roland Martin. The consensus of the panel is that McCain's Ayers focus is not a smooth move. Of note, is Anderson saying that Obama has not been clear regarding his relationship with Ayers. "First, he said, it was a guy in my neighborhood. He sat on a board with him. Then, it was, you know, I didn't -- I didn't know his past when I met him, or I was only 8 when he was setting bombs," he tells us.

But, uh, actually I don't see anything unclear or contradictory in what Anderson just said. I guess it's possible our anchor is being, uh, unclear about the unclearness--I'm not going to claim to know every detail of what Obama has said. We also get this from Roland, regarding the belief of some Democrats that this race is over: "Anderson, any Democrat who is saying what you just said is an absolute idiot." Ha! Such eloquence. I agree, though I haven't heard many saying it's over.

Next up, we have a Joe Johns piece on the candidate's shiny new economic policies and just how well they're going to work. Answer? Probably not so well. Joe talked to Roberton Williams of the Tax Policy Center, who he tells us is, "this really smart guy who looks the part, to give us the goods." Bwah! Tis true. The dude is rocking the financial geek chic. Basically both candidates are promising solutions, but not actually telling us how they're going to pay for those solutions. I know it's been widely reported that both candidates have plans that are expected to not only keep us in debt, but bring it higher. Somebody might want to tell Palin that, since she seems to think she and McCain are going to be able to balance the budget.

Transitioning now to the mood of the campaign trail and we get a clip of a Biden rally in which Biden states there is a fundamental difference between the two party tickets, leading a supporter to yell out, "brains!" Well, I'd say that's currently true anyway. "On Thursday, we're going to turn our cameras on the crowds at a Biden rally, just as we did yesterday at a Sarah Palin rally in Virginia," says Anderson. I'm guessing they won't find anyone yelling "kill him!" as happened today at a Palin rally. Again. Not that they, you know, mentioned it or anything. For the billionth time, this stuff is dangerous. Some of us can see what's going to happen here. In fact, it's already begun.

Gary is still following Palin on the trail and next up we get another piece from him in which he tries ever so hard just to get the VP hopeful to acknowledge his presence. Journalists have literally been reduced to yelling from the sidelines in an attempt to get something, anything from this woman. It really is stunning that we've gotten this far, and she's still to my knowledge only done two interviews with journalists not overtly friendly to the right. As we saw last night, Gary once again finds some angry people, this time on Biden's Scranton turf. And that darn "liberal media" is given the inevitable negative shout out. You know, if the population of a country can't agree on what is fact, where does that leave us? After Gary's piece, Anderson asks, " How could anyone not want to talk to you?" I know! You won't find a nicer (not to be confused with soft) interviewer than Gary.

Back with the panel, Anderson notes that Palin is claiming the media is trying to shut her up. "Oh, please. Give me a break," says Roland. Then he goes on to berate her for not having the metaphorical balls to face any interviewer other then people in her safe zone. In the middle of this mini rant, Sean Hannity is referred to as a "little ball of hate." Bwah! I'm not sure that ball is so little. Roland also brings up Palin's Alaskan Independence Party ties and I actually heard that Rick Sanchez covered that on his show today. About damn time! Come on 360, your turn to step up.

As the discussion goes on, the topic switches to ACORN and Anderson says this: "Sarah Palin talked about ACORN, which was basically doing some phony voter registration." Um, no. Wrong. Yes, registration fraud has occurred, but ACORN is required by law to turn in all registrations, even those they believe are fraudulent. Because ACORN relies on paid employees and not volunteers, fraudulent registrations inevitably occur. A bad system, perhaps? Yeah. But this is fraud perpetuated on ACORN, not by ACORN. Talking Points Memo does a good job at laying it all out (and gives CNN the smackdown they deserve).

To be fair to Anderson, it was just one sentence that perhaps he simply didn't form accurately. He does go on to point out that Palin keeps referring to "voter fraud," when the issue here is actually "voter registration fraud." So yay for the clarification. Because it's a big difference. There is no evidence that anyone from the fraudulent registrations is going to show up at the polls. David Gergen then goes on to point out that ACORN is not an official part of Obama's campaign, and I'd like to point out that McCain sure didn't have a problem with the group when he gave an address at this rally. We then bounce back to the topic of Palin not talking. "Free Sarah. Talk to Anderson," says Roland. "Put it on a T-shirt, Roland," says Anderson. Ha! Those would actually probably sell.

We're switching gears again and are joined by James Stewart of the New Yorker and Diane Swonk, Mesirow Financial's chief economist, for some financial collapse discussion. James Stewart? Now I'm thinking of the end of "It's a Wonderful Life." We could all use a little bit of that right now, couldn't we? And . . . that's really all I have to say about this topic tonight. Anderson seemed into it though.

Our last piece of the night is from Tom Foreman and he continues "The 10 Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse," series, or as I've been calling it: "10 Assholes That Screwed Us Over." Tonight's culprit? Alan Greenspan. Good thing Andrea Mitchell works for NBC, huh? The basic lowdown here is that everyone thought Greenspan was a genius, but his artificially lowering of interest rates made borrowing seem safe and easy, leading people to do it who shouldn't have. Greenspan was warned there was trouble on the horizon, but like with a lot of these guys, he was ever the free market purist. Guess he didn't notice that the invisible hand was raising its middle finger.

"The Shot" tonight is a clip from Anderson's guest hosting appearance on Live with Regis & Kelly. Even though I'm really unhappy with his coverage right now, I admit it, I watched. Stupid charm and adorableness. I am no match. Anyhoo, Kelly really wants Anderson to dance, and well, he ain't gonna. Seriously, anyone who has watched the guy for any period of time knows that's not going to happen. Don't even try, people. But Kelly is persistent (and perhaps a bit insane), which leads to, well, this. All Anderson can do is giggle, as is his wont. I wonder is he realizes that Kelly is clearly on a mission to embarrass him every time he comes on. For the fun, of course.

Later, Anderson admits that there's a possibility he has busted a move in the privacy of his own home. Well, sure. I mean, who among us hasn't had a moment like this (I can't believe I got a MSCL reference in there. Shout out to teens of the 90's!). Back in this decade, Erica Hills says, "You know, if I were you, I wouldn't have danced either, because there is no way you can top that, my friend." This, of course, leads to them playing the oft-run clip of the floor crew dancing. Never gets old. "It's not even Floor Crew Friday, and the boys are back," says Erica. The transcript, on the other hand, says the following: "It's not even bullet proof Friday, and the boys are back." Bwah! My God, what's going on in that studio?! Being in TV news is apparently a hard knock life. Pray for them Monday through Thursday, people.

I caught the webcast tonight and poor Ms. Hill has herself a nasty cold, which apparently she got from her son's pre-preschool. Luckily, cameraman Tony is a gentleman and moves the camera away every time she needs to take care of her running nose. Kevin, is not quite so kind, mocking her by walking around with tissue up his nose. Okay, that's admittedly a little funny. Anderson also gets in on the mocking, laughing about her tissue-covered face while she was reading the headlines off camera. You better be careful, buddy; it's not bullet proof Friday.

Erica also talks to Gary Tuchman about his experiences at the Palin rallies, though he spoke really softly and I'm not sure I heard everything. The gist of it is that the crowds are starting to take out their anger on the media now too, claiming them not American, and calling them "communists." Scary. Gary notes that once they start talking to individuals, the hate recedes. Well, that's to be expected. When you talk to a person, they become, well, a person. Before that, Gary was just a member of that faceless evil "liberal media" that's very easy to hate and scapegoat. The problem is, Gary (or any reporter) can't talk to everyone--and not that they're necessarily changing any minds either. But to kick this thing back towards the positive, Erica tells us Gary is the nicest reporter you'll ever meet. Well, I could have told you that.

Finally, good news! Erica informs us that Jack Gray might be joining the webcast in the future. Not familiar with Jack Gray? Well, you my friend are missing out. Jack's humorous blog posts of late have made him the 360 blog's official breakout superstar. Now he is going to come regale us in live form and we can finally see just what that mug looks like. He claims to be the love child of Abe Vigoda and Tyne Daly. We shall see. On another note, Anderson finally got his blog picture back. That'll do it.


Anonymous Tom Hahn said...



Voters Say They Were Duped Into Registering as Republicans
Saturday 18 October 2008

by: Evan Halper and Michael Rothfeld, The Los Angeles Times

(Image: North Carolina Voter Education Project)
YPM, a group hired by the GOP, allegedly deceived Californians who thought they were signing a petition. YPM denies any wrongdoing. Similar accusations have been leveled against the company elsewhere.

Sacramento - Dozens of newly minted Republican voters say they were duped into joining the party by a GOP contractor with a trail of fraud complaints stretching across the country.

Voters contacted by The Times said they were tricked into switching parties while signing what they believed were petitions for tougher penalties against child molesters. Some said they were told that they had to become Republicans to sign the petition, contrary to California initiative law. Others had no idea their registration was being changed.

"I am not a Republican," insisted Karen Ashcraft, 47, a pet-clinic manager and former Democrat from Ventura who said she was duped by a signature gatherer into joining the GOP. "I certainly ... won't sign anything in front of a grocery store ever again."

It is a bait-and-switch scheme familiar to election experts. The firm hired by the California Republican Party - a small company called Young Political Majors, or YPM, which operates in several states - has been accused of using the tactic across the country.

Election officials and lawmakers have launched investigations into the activities of YPM workers in Florida and Massachusetts. In Arizona, the firm was recently a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit. Prosecutors in Los Angeles and Ventura counties say they are investigating complaints about the company.

The firm, which a Republican Party spokesman said is paid $7 to $12 for each registration it secures, has denied any wrongdoing and says it has never been charged with a crime.

The 70,000 voters YPM has registered for the Republican Party this year will help combat the public perception that it is struggling amid Democratic gains nationally, give a boost to fundraising efforts and bolster member support for party leaders, political strategists from both parties say.

Those who were formerly Democrats may stop receiving phone calls and literature from that party, perhaps affecting its get-out-the-vote efforts. They also will be given only a Republican ballot in the next primary election if they do not switch their registration back before then.

Some also report having their registration status changed to absentee without their permission; if they show up at the polls without a ballot they may be unable to vote.

The Times randomly interviewed 46 of the hundreds of voters whose election records show they were recently re-registered as Republicans by YPM, and 37 of them - more than 80% - said that they were misled into making the change or that it was done without their knowledge.

Lydia Laws, a Palm Springs retiree, said she was angry to find recently that her registration had been switched from Democrat to Republican.

Laws said the YPM staffer who instructed her to identify herself on a petition as a Republican assured her that it was a formality, and that her registration would not be changed. Later, a card showed up in the mail saying she had joined the GOP.

"I said, 'No, no, no. That's not right,'" Laws said.

It all sounds familiar to Beverly Hill, a Democrat and the former election supervisor in Florida's Alachua County. About 200 voters - mostly college students - were unwittingly registered as Republicans there in 2004 by YPM staffers using the same tactic, Hill said.

"It is just incredible that this can keep happening election after election," she said.

YPM and Republican Party officials said they were surprised by the complaints. The officials said the signature gatherers wear shirts bearing the Republican symbol, an elephant - a contention disputed by some of the voters interviewed.

Every person registered signs an affidavit confirming they voluntarily joined the GOP, party leaders said.

"It does the state party no good to register people in a party they don't want to be in," said Hector Barajas, communications director for the California Republican Party.

The document that voters thought was an initiative petition has no legal implications at all. YPM founder Mark Jacoby said the petition was clearly labeled as a "plebiscite," which does nothing more than show public support.

He also said that plainclothes investigators for Secretary of State Debra Bowen, a Democrat, have conducted multiple spot checks and told his firm it is doing nothing improper.

"Every time, they gave us a thumbs-up," Jacoby said. "People are not being tricked."

But Nicole Winger, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office, said the agency "does not give an OK or seal of approval to voter registration groups."

Two years ago, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas charged 12 workers for a petitioning firm hired by the local Republican Party with fraudulently registering voters as Republican.

Democratic registration drives have also caught the attention of law enforcement officials.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, a national nonprofit that recruits mostly Democratic voters, is being investigated by the FBI for filing fake registrations in multiple states during the current presidential campaign.

In April, eight ACORN officials in St. Louis pleaded guilty to federal election fraud for submitting false registration cards in 2006.

In California, signature-gatherers are prohibited by law from misleading voters about what they are signing.

"You can't lie to someone to procure their signature," said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who specializes in election law.

Civil rights activists recently filed a lawsuit in Arizona accusing YPM of deceiving residents to get signatures for a ballot measure that would have prohibited affirmative action by that state. The lawsuit was dropped after supporters of the measure pulled it from the ballot.

In Massachusetts, former YPM worker Angela McElroy testified at a legislative hearing in 2004that she had tricked voters into signing a ballot measure to ban gay marriage. She said she told voters they were signing in favor of a measure to allow alcoholic drinks to be sold in supermarkets.

YPM's Jacoby said McElroy was on loan to another signature-gathering company at the time the alleged deception took place.

Jose Aguilera, a 48-year-old math teacher from Ventura whose registration was recently changed from Democrat to Republican, said he signed the child-molester petition outside an Albertsons supermarket.

He said he was asked to sign a second document but not told that it would change his registration.

"Somehow the guy pulled out something else and I signed it," he said.

Ashcraft, the pet-clinic manager, said she knew that she could still vote in November for whichever presidential candidate she supports - in her case, Democrat Barack Obama.

"I just don't like being lied to," she said.

Janett Lemaire, 54, said she told a signature-gatherer in the small Riverside County town of Desert Edge, "I've been a Democrat all my life and I want to stay that way."

But the man "said this has nothing to do with changing how you are registered," Lemaire said. "Then I get a notice in the mail saying I am a Republican.... I was very angry."


9:42 AM  

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