Voter ID

Daily News columnist John Baer with a good one:

The Republican Legislature and Gov. Corbett shoved this turkey (some say Crow) into law with a level of forethought comparable to that employed by alcohol-impaired teens with raging hormones on a clothing-optional midnight swim.

Dive in, damn the consequences.

The law was offered to protect the sanctity of every vote, to prevent fraud and to stop Philadelphia Dems from “stealing” elections.

The protect-each-vote argument is laughable because so many votes are now at risk: poor people, old people, black people, rural people, etc.

The prevent-fraud argument falls flat in front of a study by the Republican National Lawyers Association and a five-year crackdown by former President George W. Bush’s Justice Department, both of which found virtually no evidence of fraud.

And if the argument is, “Oh, well, there’s plenty of fraud in Philly; it’s just that nobody enforces the law,” then why would anyone expect a new law to be enforced?

Democrats “stealing” elections? If you’re talking statewide, it isn’t working.

We have a Republican governor, a Republican House and a Republican Senate.

If you’re talking about the city, come on, it’s all Democrats. They don’t need to steal elections.

So we must be talking about “stealing” the presidency; which is why one of the few honest things said so far about this law is GOP House Leader Mike Turzai’s remark that it will “allow” Mitt Romney to win the state.

Ah, but now there are issues.
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Mittens: If I paid more taxes, I wouldn’t be qualified for presidency

David Muir interviews Mitt Romney for ABC News in Jerusalem, and the weasel words Mittens used in response to questions about his past taxes is, I think, quite interesting:

Muir: You are here on what some have termed your world audition and democrats, not surprisingly, continue to hammer you back home on taxes, you remain firm two years and two years only. So from what you have released and from what we have seen we know that there was one year when you paid about 13.9% tax rate. Can we clear this up by asking a simple yes or no question? Was there ever any year when you paid lower than 13.9%?

Romney: I haven’t calculated that. I’m happy to go back and look but my view is I’ve paid all the taxes required by law. From time to time I’ve been audited as happens I think to other citizens as well and the accounting firm which prepares my taxes has done a very thorough and complete job – [I] pay taxes as legally due. I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president. I’d think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires.

Muir: You said you would go back and look, would you look for us?

Romney: I haven’t looked at the tax rate paid year by year. I know that I pay a very substantial amount of taxes and every year since the beginning of my career so far as I can recall.

Broken heartland

The looming collapse of agriculture on the Great Plains:

In the dystopian future that Teske imagines, the cycle of farm dissolution and amalgamation will continue to its absurdist conclusion, with neighbors cannibalizing neighbors, until perhaps one day the whole of the American prairie will be nothing but a single bulldozed expanse of high-fructose corn patrolled by megacombines under the remote control of computer software 2,000 miles away. Yet even this may be optimistic. Farming on the plains may survive in the near term, even without the communities it once sustained. But soon the water will run out.


Maybe it was a bad idea, leaving all those Bush appointees in place?

The Obama administration’s attempt to streamline its data center footprint is plagued with incomplete reports from federal agencies — putting the initiative at risk of failing to meet key goals, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

For the second time in as many years, the GAO has found that the vast majority of agencies required to consolidate data centers under a White House plan are submitting documents that are lacking key metrics — like full cost-benefit analysis results, energy usage and required cost savings information.

Specifically, the GAO found that of 24 agencies, only three have submitted a complete inventory of the data centers they operate, and only one turned in all-inclusive consolidation plans.

‘Closing the door on democracy’

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Via Raw Story: Previous Florida governor Charlie Crist really puts the screws to Rick Scott. I’m beginning to wonder if Charlie is thinking about running again. He was a pretty good governor, except when he had to placate the right wing. He wouldn’t have that problem as a Democrat, and it’s long been rumored that he’s thinking of switching:

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) on Wednesday criticized his successor, Gov. Rick Scott (R), and other Republicans for using “shameless” tactics that suppress voting rights, including requiring photo IDs, preventing felons from voting and purging voter rolls.

“The concern really is on sort of a closing the door on democracy,” Crist told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “For example, they’ve already changed the policy as it relates to former, non-violent felons. We had established a policy where they would have their rights automatically restored, give them the opportunity to vote once they had served their time and paid their debt to society. … That has now been changed under the new administration.”

“In addition, they’ve also said that early voting — which is a great tradition is Florida — has been reduced from a 14-day period before the elections to eight days before, making it again more difficult for legal citizens to have their right to vote be heard.”

Mitchell noted that Attorney General Eric Holder had recently compared voter photo ID requirements to Jim Crow laws, telling the NAACP that they were the equivalent of “poll taxes.”

“He’s on the right track,” the former governor agreed. “Anytime that you put more impediments into a citizen’s right — a legal citizen’s right to vote and make that more difficult, you impede the natural right of democracy and a citizen’s right to have their voice heard in important elections.”

Cash before students

Heh. This Washington Post story has to walk such a thin line, considering that their Kaplan division made so much more money for them than their newspaper holdings. Almost always, there is little a for-profit college offers that you can’t get at community college for a lot less money. As someone who was a recruiter at one of these money mills, take my word for it: The for-profit college that’s worth the enormous amount of money you’ll owe is the exception, not the rule:

A Senate committee that successfully pressed for tighter regulation of the for-profit higher education sector published a report Sunday that said the business had put shareholders before students.

As of 2009, the report said, three-quarters of students in for-profit colleges attended institutions owned either by publicly traded companies or private equity firms. It said the schools excelled at recruiting students, but not necessarily at retaining them: More than half of students at for-profit schools who enrolled in the 2008-09 academic year left without a degree, the report found. Half of all non-finishers ended their studies within four months.

The findings are in line with concerns voiced last year when the Department of Education imposed stricter rules on for-profit schools that benefit from federal student loans.

The new report is titled “For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success.” It concludes a two-year investigation by Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Including appendices, the document totals about 800 pages.

Investigators studied operations at 30 for-profit higher education companies, including industry leaders Apollo Group, Education Management Corp., DeVry and Kaplan. Kaplan is owned by the Washington Post Co.

“We uncovered two very big problems in for-profit higher education,” Harkin said in a statement. “One, billions of taxpayer dollars are being squandered. And two, many for-profit schools are doing real, lasting harm to the students they enroll.”

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