Friday, October 31, 2008

VOTE: Provisional ballots and other ways to make sure your vote counts

Election Day is this Tuesday, November 4. If you have any problems at the polls, call the Maryland ACLU Election Day Hotline: 1-888-496-ACLU (2258).
Virginia voter information is here (English and Spanish).

You have rights: Every worker who's eligible to vote has the right to be absent from work if your schedule would otherwise leave you unable to vote at the polls (see Voter Empowerment Card for MD law). The polls in Maryland will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You have the right to vote if you're in line or inside your polling place when the polls close. You can take written or printed election materials with you as long as they're for your own use in casting your ballot. Most voters won't need to show ID at all. However, if you're a first–time voter, you may need to show ID. If you don’t have ID, you can prove your residence with a wide array of alternative documents.

Problems you may encounter at the polls:
  • If you are told you're not on the voter list, ask an election judge to check the list again. If you’re not on the list, confirm that you're at the correct polling place for your address. If you are at the correct polling place, ask for a provisional ballot. If you’re not, go to the correct polling place to cast your ballot.
  • If someone challenges your right to vote, you have the right to prove your identity. Poll workers cannot challenge your eligibility. The only legal challenge is one in which the challenger claims that you are not the person you claim to be. If you cannot prove your identity, you have the right to cast a provisional ballot.
  • If someone tries to intimidate or harass you, report the problem to an election judge and Maryland ACLU Election Day Hotline at 1-888-496-ACLU (2258). If the election judge is the problem, call the ACLU Hotline.
  • If you make a mistake while voting, tell an election judge before submitting your vote.
    Be sure to review your selections and submit your vote.
Important reminders about your right to vote:
  • If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor, you are eligible to vote. You can vote by absentee ballot if still in jail. If you have been convicted of a felony, you can vote once you have completed probation and/or parole.
  • If you are homeless, you can vote in the precinct where you live and usually sleep (which can be a street corner, a park, a shelter, or any other place).

Tips to avoid problems:
  • Check your voter registration status beforehand.
  • Locate your correct polling place.
  • Vote in the middle of the day if you can.
  • Bring some form of ID, even if it's not required.
  • Read instructions carefully and ask for help if needed.

Get the full story about your rights by downloading your Maryland Voter Empowerment Card (in English and Spanish). Get informed, get empowered, and VOTE!

ACLU of Maryland

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who is Joe the plumber?

Oops. Joe Wurzelbacher is Charles Keating's brother in law. That's Charles Keating, the man who with McCain's help destroyed Savings and Loans in America.

Mr. Keating's son-in-law is Robert Wurzelbacher, a senior vice president of American Continental, Lincoln savings and Loan's parent company, the American Continental Corporation.


The issue: Probably the biggest political embarrassment of John McCain's career emanated from his close ties to Charles H. Keating Jr., the high-flying owner of Lincoln Savings & Loan who later went to federal prison. Lincoln's failure would ultimately cost taxpayers $3.4 billion, the most expensive rescue of the S&L crisis in the late 1980s.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Catholics for Obama

"Despite what some Republicans would like Catholics to believe, the list of what the church calls "intrinsically evil acts" does not begin and end with abortion. In fact, there are many intrinsically evil acts, and a committed Catholic must consider all of them in deciding how to vote."

Although much of Catholic leadership has forsaken other moral principles for the single one that woman can control, Nicholas P. Cafardi has spoken out for those other moral principles: to reduce poverty, to protect other gifts from the Creator such as environment. Cafardi is the second high profile Catholic legal scholar who is staunchly anti-abortion yet says he supports Barack Obama. Douglas Kmiec, Ronald Reagan’s constitutional lawyer as head of the office of legal counsel for the Department of Justice, publicly argued a similar case for Obama several weeks ago.
Are you sure Ronald Reagan had a consitutional lawyer? Really?

Cafardi continued, "Last November, the U.S. bishops released 'Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,' a 30-page document that provides several examples of intrinsically evil acts: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, torture, racism, and targeting noncombatants in acts of war."

McCain's position on torture, noncombatants, and racism do not seem to disturb the people who would silence voices, such as Cafardi's, who speak out against these other evils.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"The Party of Stupid"

The economist who calls today's GOP "The party of stupid" won the Nobel prize in economics Monday. Winner Paul Krugman, Princeton University scholar and New York Times columnist, was recognized for his analysis of how economies of scale can affect international trade patterns.

Tore Ellingsen, a member of the prize committee, said, "We disregard everything except for the scientific merits."

Ellingsen acknowledged that Krugman was an "opinion maker" but added that he was honored on the merits of his economic research, not his political commentary.

Krugman has also come out forcefully against John McCain during the economic meltdown, saying McCain is "more frightening now than he was a few weeks ago."

Krugman writes a regular column and has a blog called "Conscience of a Liberal."
On McCain, Krugman recently wrote:

We’ve known for a long time, of course, that Mr. McCain doesn’t know much about economics — he’s said so himself, although he’s also denied having said it. That wouldn’t matter too much if he had good taste in advisers — but he doesn’t.

Remember, his chief mentor on economics is Phil Gramm, the arch-deregulator, who took special care in his Senate days to prevent oversight of financial derivatives — the very instruments that sank Lehman and A.I.G., and brought the credit markets to the edge of collapse. Mr. Gramm hasn’t had an official role in the McCain campaign since he pronounced America a “nation of whiners,” but he’s still considered a likely choice as Treasury secretary.

And last year, when the McCain campaign announced that the candidate had assembled “an impressive collection of economists, professors, and prominent conservative policy leaders” to advise him on economic policy, who was prominently featured? Kevin Hassett, the co-author of “Dow 36,000.” Enough said.

Friday, October 10, 2008

In war, the heroes always outnumber the soldiers 10 to one

John McCain's War hero/Maverick facade crumbles, thanks to Rolling Stone.

Headline quote by HL Mencken.

HL Mencken also has a quote for the "W in lipstick":

"As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Voting and Taxes are Unpatriotic? If you are a Republican running for office

Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan. And yet, at the same time, she declared that Americans who pay their fair share of taxes to support all those government-led endeavors should not be considered patriotic.

NYTimes Thomas Friedman says: I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.

Next thing you know, she'll say voting is unpatriotic!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Campaigns who smear middle school girls: follow them to the Gates of Hell

WaPo Saturday surprised no one when they admitted that "Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama's character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat's judgment, honesty and personal associations, several top Republicans said."

With John Kerry in 2004, they had counted on Kerry's reputation for talking issues to death to assure success of the smears from the Swiftboaters. When the same operatives had smeared McCain in 2000, they counted on McCain having no time to correct the lies about McCain's own middle-school age daughter. With Obama, I believe they depend on the public's fear of angry black men to push Obama between a rock and a hard place, making an effective, passionate response difficult and even impossible. At the risk of self-importance, I propose a quick, effective and resonant response for these expected smears. If you like the idea, vote here on DKos.

We know that McCain has a costly and ineffective plan for health care that involves paying private insurers, one of the few industries that are already profiteering even in this distressed economy. We know that McCain was erratic and ineffective in his contribution to the financial crisis. Michigan is no longer the battleground state targeted, as Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, to toss registrations and turn away voters (but beware, Pennsylvania is). McCain's last chance to win is to distract voters from his 90% record of voting with George Bush with Smears of Obama.

Many voters will be shocked and afraid at the sight of an angry black man standing up to Grandpa John and Bible Barbie... er, McCain and Palin. McCain and his advisers are certainly counting on an unwillingness of Obama to strike back. I suggest he try this for size.

McCain talks about change. But this smear campaign is not a change. It involves Karl Rove, Rove protege Steve Schmidt, Bush campaign manager Terry Nelson, Bush communications director Brian Jones, Bush media adviser Mark McKinnon, and Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman. It includes old Freddie Mac lobbyist Mark Buse. That's not change. That's more of the same.

Let me tell you what that group of men did to win the Republican primary for George W. Bush in 2000. They slimed McCain's own daughter - his own middle-school aged daughter - by saying her mother was was a prostitute.

Let me tell you this: If those men had said that about one of my children, about one of my daughters, about anyone my family, they would not be embraced into an inner circle of men telling me how to run a campaign. In fact, when it comes time to identify the men who must be followed to the gates of hell, I would follow those men. I dare McCain to talk about ending the war and ending the economic crisis instead.
Short, simple, acceptable anger. A man protecting his family.

Friday, October 3, 2008

"I may not answer the question the way you or the mainstream media want me to..."

Gwen Ifill is no debate moderator. The conditions of a debate are that debators agree to answer the questions posed. If they want to answer other questions, they can pay the media, or lock out the people asking pesky questions, or call on hand selected or planted "reporters." Sarah Palin was allowed to use the debate as her own commercial. Ifill never interrupted, never steered her back to the question, never called her on her evasions. Nevertheless, Palin never exceeded anything but the lowest expectations. In poll after poll, even on Fox and Drudge, Joe Biden wins. A CBS News/Knowledge Networks Poll found that 46 percent of uncommitted voters who watched the debate thought Biden won, with 21 percent siding with Palin. A CNN poll found respondents judging Biden the winner by a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent but calling Palin more likable by 54 percent to Biden's 36 percent.

NYT: Senator Biden did well, avoiding one of his own infamous gaffes, while showing a clear grasp of the big picture and the details. He left Ms. Palin way behind on most issues, especially foreign policy and national security, where she just seemed lost. It was in those moments that her lack of experience — two terms as mayor of a tiny Anchorage suburb and less than two years as governor — was most painfully evident.

Joe Biden had a command of the facts and the stage, chiding Ifill but not Palin. That way he avoids ridiculous charges that asking a woman to understand the federal government that she wants to lead would be sexist. Joe did strike a blow for equal rights when he mentioned his own parental role:

Look, I understand what it's like to be a single parent. When my wife and daughter died and my two sons were gravely injured, I understand what it's like as a parent to wonder what it's like if your kid's going to make it.

I understand what it's like to sit around the kitchen table with a father who says, "I've got to leave, champ, because there's no jobs here. I got to head down to Wilmington. And when we get enough money, honey, we'll bring you down."

I understand what it's like. I'm much better off than almost all Americans now. I get a good salary with the United States Senate. I live in a beautiful house that's my total investment that I have. So I -- I am much better off now. But the notion that somehow, because I'm a man, I don't know what it's like to raise two kids alone, I don't know what it's like to have a child you're not sure is going to -- is going to make it -- I understand.

I understand, as well as, with all due respect, the governor or anybody else, what it's like for those people sitting around that kitchen table. And guess what? They're looking for help. They're looking for help. They're not looking for more of the same.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sarah Palin avoids Freedom of Information with ANOTHER illegal email account

WaPo: Quentin Algood, the owner of [email host] ITS Alaska, said a discreet e-mail system was created from an old campaign account, with access confined to "a group of people, her closest confidants and co-workers and advisers and the person she sleeps with."

It also raises more questions about Palin's record of commingling the official and personal. The Yahoo inbox posted on the Internet contained family photos, notes from well-wishers and official state correspondence on pending legislation. "She had a number of personal addresses," said John Bitney, a former close aide who was fired by Palin. "I don't know why so many."

ITS technician Ryan Gattis described working with Bailey this spring to set up e-mail addresses linked to the dormant campaign Web site. Gattis said there appeared to be 10 to 15 addresses, chiefly the small circle of aides known in Alaska political circles as "Palinistas" for their fierce loyalty to Palin, with Bailey taking system administrator authority.

"Palin Had Another Private E-Mail Account, Company Says" by Karl Vick, Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, October 1, 2008; Page A04