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“Ignore It And It Will Go Away”: Gov. Scott’s Unwritten Policy On Climate Change — Don’t Talk About It

Dear Florida Gov. Rick Scott:

So it turns out the experts were mistaken. It turns out the impact of climate change on Florida — and much of the coastal United States — is not going to be anywhere near as bad as had been predicted. Apparently, it’s going to be much worse.

That’s the sobering finding of a study published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change. Previous scenarios, grim as they were, failed to take into account projected population growth. Factor that in, say the researchers, and the number of people likely to be affected by rising sea levels caused by melting polar ice caps explodes to triple the previous most dire estimates.

The brunt of the catastrophe is expected to be felt in the Southeast, cities like Biloxi, Mississippi, Charleston, South Carolina, and an obscure little seaside hamlet called Miami, Florida. Already, tourists in Miami Beach have to slosh through ankle-deep waters when the tide is especially high. By 2100, that might be regarded as the good old days.

The new study projects a future in which as many as 13.1 million Americans, nearly half of them in Florida, find themselves forced to flee or adapt as seawater rises toward their doorsteps. A child born today might be part of the nation’s largest mass exodus since the Great Migration a century ago.

Interestingly enough, governor, those frightful projections come a year almost to the day after a Miami Herald report that revealed your unwritten policy for dealing with climate change: Don’t talk about it. Forbid state officials from using the very words.

Yes, you claimed no such policy exists, but you were contradicted by multiple ex-employees of the state Department of Environmental Protection, and their testimony was compelling. “We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’” said Christopher Byrd, a former state Department of Environmental Protection attorney.

This strategy — essentially a governmental gag order — is one your Republican Party has frequently used in recent years. The apparent idea is that if you forbid discussion of it, a problem resolves itself. We’ve repeatedly seen the great success of this policy. George W. Bush’s ban on U.S. funding to international groups that provide information on pregnancy termination brought abortion to a screeching halt. A congressional ban on research into gun violence helped make mass shootings a thing of the past.

Sorry, governor. Pulling your leg.

Actually, the most recent figures available from the World Health Organization tell us the international abortion rate stands at 28 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, about where it’s been since the turn of the century. And there were at least 10 mass shootings in this country just last week — 40 people wounded, 14 killed.

The truth is, sir, “Ignore it and it will go away” is a policy more suited to children than to adults. And past a certain age, even kids learn the untenability of such thinking. The disastrous report card you stuff down in your backpack is always dug out. The broken vase you sweep under the couch is always discovered.

Similarly, the environmental disaster whose discussion you forbid will flood your streets and put property valued in the tens of billions of dollars at risk, whether it is talked about or not.

Governor, your party is forever taking action to fight “dangers” — mass voter fraud, sharia law — that do not exist. It is beyond unconscionable that it and you stick your fingers in your ears when confronted with a threat that is not only real but, conceivably, existential.

The science is clear, sir. The trend lines are, too. Americans are rushing to the shore. Housing and infrastructure are rising to meet them.

The potential price of silence was already high a year ago. It just rose higher still.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, March 16, 2016

March 17, 2016 Posted by | Climate Change, Global Warming, Rick Scott | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“5 Down-And-Dirty Tricks Ted Cruz Uses To Fool Voters”: Trusted, As Transparent A Ploy As The Rest Of His Campaign

Ted Cruz is nasty. Ted Cruz is mean. Ted Cruz is “a huge asshole.”

Ted Cruz is a pretty horrible human being.

That’s the consensus, at least, from notables like former President George W. Bush and and Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, commander of the coalition against ISIS.

Cruz has had to wheedle his family to get them to acquiesce – on camera! – that he’s a good guy, even though everyone from his former college roommate to his senatorial colleagues have whispered and shouted that the American public should stay far, far away from this loathsome, odious creature. (Even his “friends” in the Senate don’t want him to be president.)

Now, he’s tasked with saving us from The Donald — a role that, though potentially heroic, has managed only to force Cruz into a spotlight under which his seediness seems to have adopted a new shine. If Donald Trump is America’s premier insult comic, Ted Cruz is its greatest scoundrel. He lies, deceives, and swindles some more. To wit:

He lied about Ben Carson exiting the race
Dr. Ben Carson decided to not to campaign in New Hampshire and South Carolina after the Iowa Caucus, preferring to return to Florida to (yes, really) get a change of clothes. The Cruz campaign, as detailed by Politifact, took this nugget – that Carson was taking “a very unusual” travel detour – and spun it so that Carson was “taking some time off” from the campaign.

In a series of tweets, emails and voicemails  (and with some assistance from Iowa Congressman Steve King) the campaign inferred and then explicitly stated that Carson had dropped out of the race, which was not the case, and urged caucus-goers to “not waste a vote” on Carson, but instead to vote for Cruz.

Although Cruz apologized, his campaign did acknowledge that “it made a coordinated effort to spread the story.” He ended up winning Iowa, leaving Donald Trump to accuse him of stealing the election.

He used false data and social pressure to trick Iowa residents into voting for him
In another play for Iowa Caucus voters, the Cruz campaign sent out mailers meant to look like official documents warning voters that their participation – or lack thereof – would be recorded and sent to their neighbors, in addition to assigning a grade that matched up with their alleged voting history. Using well-known political science research, the mailers (as seen below), preyed upon voters’ fears of social pressure to get them to vote.

.@TedCruz campaign mailed #IowaCaucus voters misleading “violation” https://t.co/PayPAJ84aR https://t.co/StcKy2N0F8 pic.twitter.com/hlzXJV8fIT

— Alex Howard (@digiphile) January 31, 2016

Of course, the “grades” listed on the mailers were all low scores — most of them “F”s:

Man, @TedCruz is such a scumbag (and so is his campaign staffer who thought this was a good idea) #iacaucus pic.twitter.com/5ybjhbZdA5

— super delegator (@LoganJames) January 30, 2016

The mailers used fraudulent “data” – the Cruz campaign made up percentages – and erroneously attributed this “data” to the Iowa Secretary of State and county election clerks, which prompted Iowa’s Secretary of State, Paul D. Pate, to correct the record:

Accusing citizens of Iowa of a “voting violation” based on Iowa Caucus participation, or lack thereof, is false representation of an official act. There is no such thing as an election violation related to frequency of voting. Any insinuation or statement to the contrary is wrong and I believe it is not in keeping in the spirit of the Iowa Caucuses.

Additionally, the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office never “grades” voters. Nor does the Secretary of State maintain records related to Iowa Caucus participation. Caucuses are organized and directed by the state political parties, not the Secretary of State, nor local elections officials. Also, the Iowa Secretary of State does not “distribute” voter records. They are available for purchase for political purposes only, under Iowa Code.” – Paul D. Pate, Iowa Secretary of State

While the tactic has been used before – and an online version of it is being used in China – Cruz takes it to another level. And it’s not something he apologizes for.

He mailed pre-filled “checks” and asked recipients to match them
According to the Huffington Post, the Cruz campaign mailed fake checks across the country to prospective voters meant to entice them to donate money by saying their contribution would be “matched” by “a group of generous supporters.” It was misleading enough for one group to file a complaint with the state attorney general for allegedly violating state law.

The Intercept reports that this tactic “is either impossible, illegal, or a scam,” since individual donations are legally capped at $2,700 for both the primary and general elections ($5,400 total) and the Cruz campaign would need a lot of “generous supporters” willing and able to “match” donations.

That means that the Cruz campaign either disregarded campaign finance law or is funneling all of the money they receive into a super PAC – which would also be illegal. “Super PACs … are allowed to accept unlimited contributions as long as they don’t coordinate directly with campaigns,” reporters Dan Froomkin and Zaid Jilani wrote. The law is explicit in what that means: Candidates running for national office “are not allowed to solicit more than $5,000 in Super PAC contributions from any one person.”

The Cruz campaign, however, is relentless. One mailer with a fake check isn’t enough – there are followups upon followups upon followups – post-its and emails and emails and emails and emails. Cruz tries to come across as casual: The sender’s line is doctored to make it appear that the message was quickly sent from his iPhone. But the barrage of emails instead comes off as desperate, edging on creepy.

His app takes your data and tries to sell your friends onto the “Cruz Crew”
Ted Cruz knows how to work Big Data. On his app, available on both the App Store and Google Play, users have to opt-out of sharing sensitive data, which includes their contact information and their location. This makes it easy for the campaign to amass a trove of sensitive and lucrative information, which it shares with other organizations and analytics companies to better finesse the messages it sends to potential supporters and voters.

The analytics company behind the Cruz operation, Cambridge Analytica, is funded by Robert Mercer, a hedge-fund investor, computer scientist, and the fourth-largest Republican donor in 2014 – and a major backer of Cruz. Mercer has donated at least $11 million to Cruz-related super PACs.

The campaign also uses sophisticated gaming techniques to entice app users to participate, allotting points for specific actions, like sharing messages on social media.

Cambridge Analytica’s formidable system analyzes billions of data points – from voter rolls to Facebook likes, keychain reward programs to Amazon purchases – and then sorts users into one of five personality types, which they use to target messages to the user’s lifestyle, interests, and backgrounds. These discoveries are shared among different departments within the organization, so that a canvasser knocking on doors already knows what the little old lady in the pink house on the corner really purchases at Target.

He photoshopped a beaming Marco Rubio shaking hands with Barack Obama
The Cruz campaign published a website targeting rival Marco Rubio with a doctored photo of him shaking hands with President Obama, captioned with text suggesting it was related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

When challenged, the Cruz campaign merely shrugged their shoulders, saying it was no big deal; they even gave away their process: “We googled ‘two people supporting amnesty,’” said campaign spokesperson Brian Phillips in an email to Politico.

Ted Cruz is sneaky and smart, and he’s using all the techniques and terabytes he can to stomp his way to the presidency. He likes to stand behind banners that say Trusted. But to those paying attention, the phrase is as transparent a ploy as the rest of his campaign.

 

By: Stephanie Schwartz, The National Memo, February 21, 2016

February 22, 2016 Posted by | Campaign Finance Laws, Iowa Caucuses, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Republicans Feel The Burn — From Each Other”: GOP Entering The ‘Mad Max’ Phase Of Political Mayhem

Heading into New Hampshire, the race for the nomination of the once-genteel Republican Party seems to have entered a kind of “Mad Max” phase.

It is no surprise that Donald Trump is doing his best to create political mayhem. Trump was uncharacteristically subdued Monday night when he underperformed in Iowa, getting beaten by Ted Cruz and barely holding on to second place. But within 24 hours he was back in form, slashing and burning with abandon.

Trump seized on Ben Carson’s complaint that Cruz’s representatives at the Iowa caucuses had cheated, falsely leading Carson supporters to believe that their candidate was pulling out of the race; the message was that if they wanted their votes to count, they should cast them for Cruz. Trump thundered on Twitter that the “State of Iowa” should nullify the results and order a do-over — never mind that it is the Iowa Republican Party, not the state government, that runs the caucuses.

“Oh, that voter fraud, you know, these politicians are brutal,” Trump said at a rally. “They are a bunch of dishonest cookies, I want to tell you.”

Cruz accused his rival of throwing a “Trumpertantrum” — Cruz’s wordplay is never quite as sparkling as he seems to think — and his campaign maintained it was guilty of nothing except the practice of big-league politics.

The dispute doesn’t amount to much, except in this one sense: Trump played it safe in the days before Iowa, even skipping a debate, but now he seems back to the hot-mess flamboyance that brought him this far. Polls show him with a 20-point lead in New Hampshire over all comers, according to the RealClearPolitics average. He needs to win big to remain the favorite for the nomination.

Cruz is riding high, of course, and can even dream of sneaking into second place in Tuesday’s primary. But New Hampshire is unfriendly turf for him. Besides being the place where Trump hopes to get his mojo back, it is the state where the lagging establishment candidates — Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich — have to do well. If they don’t, donors and endorsers may begin to coalesce around Marco Rubio, the only establishment hopeful who performed better in Iowa than the polls had predicted.

Indeed, such movement began Thursday, after Rick Santorum, who didn’t survive Iowa, gave Rubio his endorsement. Unhappily, however, Santorum struggled mightily when pressed by “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough to name one thing Rubio has accomplished in the Senate. After much hemming and hawing, Santorum acknowledged that “there isn’t a whole lot” but protested that the question was unfair, since no one has accomplished much of anything in the Senate in recent years.

It is Christie, though, who has been sharpest — some would say “most vicious” — in attacking Rubio since the Iowa vote. Christie’s campaign is running out of money and time, and he seems to have decided to leave it all on the field in New Hampshire.

“This isn’t the student council election, everybody. This is an election for president of the United States,” Christie said Tuesday, in an attack aimed at Rubio. “Let’s get the boy in the bubble out of the bubble, and let’s see him play for the next week in New Hampshire. I’m ready to play.”

The boy-in-the-bubble charge was only the beginning. Christie later said that Rubio “acts like the king of England,” called him “the master of the drive-by town hall,” accused him of being overly scripted and claimed he “just doesn’t have any experience.”

Bush is taking a more indirect approach. As we have seen in the debates, he is not exactly a master of the frontal assault. But he has been cheering Christie on, calling him “a great campaigner . . . a good friend . . . an effective governor.” And the Bush campaign bought a full-page ad in the Union Leader, New Hampshire’s biggest-circulation newspaper, in which a group of leading Florida Republicans charged that Rubio “is not the best choice to serve as Commander-in-Chief.”

With all the slashing and bashing on the Republican side, the Democratic race in New Hampshire almost seems reduced to undercard status — unless, of course, there is a surprise.

If Bernie Sanders — from next-door Vermont — wins the primary handily, as polls predict, nothing much changes. He and Hillary Clinton seem likely to wage a long battle of attrition.

For Republicans, however, New Hampshire is political life or death. Ronald Reagan’s “Eleventh Commandment” — not speaking ill of a fellow Republican — is being honored more in the breach than in the observance.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, February 4, 2016

February 6, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, New Hampshire Primaries, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Koch Spy Agency Led By Voter Fraud Huckster”: Clandestine Surveillance Operation Focused On Perceived Political Enemies

The Kochs have been complaining about a “lack of civility in politics” as they seek to boost their public image–but one of their top operatives helped propel perhaps the most egregious case of race-baiting voter fraud hucksterism in recent years.

At the same time that the Kochs have been on a PR blitz, publicly spinning an image of themselves as well-intentioned patriots trying to make the world a better place and decrying “character assasination,” they’ve been quietly ramping up a clandestine surveillance and intelligence gathering operation focused on their perceived political enemies, Ken Vogel reports at Politico.

At the helm of this “competitive intelligence” operation is a man named Mike Roman, Vice President of Research for Kochs’ Freedom Partners and who was paid $265,000 last year, according to Freedom Partners’ recent tax filing.

But who is Mike Roman? He’s been described generally as a longtime GOP operative. However, he’s also the guy who was behind the release of the 2008 “New Black Panthers scaring old white ladies at the polls” video. The clip dominated Fox News for months and went on to fuel unfounded allegations that the Obama administration’s Department of Justice was biased against white people.

Roman made a name for himself by releasing the video, which showed a New Black Panther Party (NBPP) member holding a billy club outside a Philadelphia polling place, on his voter fraud-peddling “Election Journal” website. He then worked with Republican vote fraud conspiracist J. Christian Adams to try uncovering evidence that voters were intimidated–which they could not find. But that didn’t stop Roman, along with Fox News and the conservative echo chamber, from conjuring up a vast racist conspiracy inside the Obama administration, a theme that continues today.

As the conspiracy theories grew, Roman was given a column at Breitbart.com, where he continued to push a “scandal” narrative and to suggest a wide-ranging conspiracy involving ACORN, NBPP, and the Obama administration to steal elections. (Roman even launched a voter fraud app.)

In 2010, another vote fraud conspiracy theorist, the Wall Street Journal‘s John Fund, put right-wing video hitman James O’Keefe in touch with Roman for intel about a purported SEIU voter fraud scheme in Boston, which turned out to be bunk.

During this same period, the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was similarly targeting ACORN and pushing a model “Voter ID Act” to combat the nonexistent scourge of voter fraud–but which had the documented impact of disenfranchising potentially millions of students and voters of color who do not have the limited forms of IDs required under the law.

In 2010, Roman was named chief of staff to Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL) when he was elected to Congress for one term. Koch Industries and John Fund were among Schilling’s top donors.

It is not clear when Roman was formally folded-in to the Koch network. Freedom Partners’ new tax filing for 2014 is the first where he appeared as Vice President of Research. But tax filings as far back as 2012 describe Roman as the trustee of the mysterious “Public Engagement Group Trust,” which has the same address and suite number as another Koch group, the Center for Shared Services Trust.

Apparently Roman’s years of stoking unfounded paranoia about stolen elections prepared him for a high-ranking position in the Koch operation.

In his role as the Kochs’ top spy, Vogel reported, Roman has “worked to keep himself and his activity low-profile even within the discreet Koch operation.”

“They act all cloak and dagger–like the CIA,” one source told Vogel. “There was a joke about how hardly anyone ever met Mike Roman. It was like, if you wanted to find him, he’d be in a trench coat on the National Mall.”

Roman’s GoodReads profile fits his carefully-cultivated cloak-and-dagger persona.

His favorite reads include books like “Data Mining and Analysis” and “Intelligence Analysis: a Target-Centric Approach,” as well as Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, the left-wing organizer’s manual that has gained traction on the right in recent years.

Mike Roman’s favorite author? Charles Koch.

 

By: Brendan Fisher, Center for Media and Democracy; CMD Executive Director Lisa Graves contributed research to this article; November 19, 2015

November 23, 2015 Posted by | ALEC, Koch Brothers, Mike Roman, Racism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Universal Election Day Registration”: Jimmy Carter And The Conservative Abandonment Of Voting Rights

Being a Georgian and a kiddie volunteer for Jimmy Carter’s first gubernatorial contest in 1966, I thought I was an expert on Most Things Jimmy. But Rick Perlstein, who was seven years old when Carter became our 39th president, has unearthed a proud moment of that presidency which I and probably others watching at the time had all but forgotten: a 1977 election reform initiative which still seems bold in its clear purpose and scope.

Everyone loved to talk about voter apathy, but the real problem, Carter said, was that “millions of Americans are prevented or discouraged from voting in every election by antiquated and overly restricted voter registration laws”—a fact proven, he pointed out, by record rates of participation in 1976 in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, where voters were allowed to register on election day. So he proposed that election-day registration be adopted universally, tempering concerns that such measures might increase opportunities for fraud by also proposing five years in prison and a $10,000 fine as penalties for electoral fraud.

He asked Congress to allot up to $25 million in aid to states to help them comply, and for the current system of federal matching funds for presidential candidates to be expanded to congressional elections. He suggested reforming a loophole in the matching-fund law that disadvantaged candidates competing with rich opponents who funded their campaigns themselves, and revising the Hatch Act to allow federal employees “not in sensitive positions,” and when not on the job, the same rights of political participation as everyone else.

Finally, and most radically, he recommended that Congress adopt a constitutional amendment to do away with the Electoral College—under which, three times in our history (four times if you count George W. Bush 33 years later), a candidate who received fewer votes than his opponent went on to become president—in favor of popular election of presidents. It was one of the broadest political reform packages ever proposed.

As Perlstein notes, Carter’s proposal initially drew support from national leaders of the GOP. But then the engines of the conservative movement became engaged in blocking it, led by Ronald Reagan, making arguments that sound extremely familiar today: real voters don’t need convenience; universal voting will empower looters in league with the Democratic Party; voter fraud will run rampant; and the Electoral College is part and parcel of our infallible system of federalism. The initiative was filibustered to death (in another fine usage of an anti-democratic device), Reagan beat Carter in 1980, and another rock of progress rolled down another long hill.

And now Jimmy Carter, at 90, is suffering from apparently incurable cancer, but is still speaking out:

This spring, when only those closest to him knew of his illness, Jimmy Carter made news on Thom Hartmann’s radio program when he returned to the question of democracy reform. In 1977, he had pledged “to work toward an electoral process which is open to the participation of all our citizens, which meets high ethical standards, and operates in an efficient and responsive manner.” In 2015, he was still at it.

He declared our electoral system a violation of “the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president.”

The best possible tribute to Carter at death’s door is what Perlstein is doing: remembering his finest moments in causes then lost but now redeemable, if we take them up again.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, August 28, 2015

August 31, 2015 Posted by | Democracy, Voter Registration, Voting Rights | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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