FLASHBACK: Republicans Opposed Electoral Vote Rigging In 2004, Calling It ‘A Really Stupid Idea’ [via ThinkProgress]

Sounds like we need to dump the Electoral College so that it can’t played to the advantage of either side…

From ThinkProgress:

Nearly a decade before the GOP responded to President Obama’s re-election by proposing to rig the Electoral College in states like Pennsylvania and Virginia, Republicans vehemently opposed the plan and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting its implementation.

In 2004, when Colorado was still a red state and then-President Bush was locked in a tight race with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), the state had a ballot initiative that would have shifted its allocation of electoral votes from winner-take-all to proportional. Under the proposal, for example, even if Bush had won 60 percent of the vote, he still would only get 5 of the state’s 9 electoral votes instead of all 9.

However, the proposed Electoral College rig ended up getting trounced for one reason: Republicans strongly opposed the idea.[…]

More at FLASHBACK: Republicans Opposed Electoral Vote Rigging In 2004, Calling It ‘A Really Stupid Idea’.

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How Republicans plotted to sabotage President Obama’s presidency in spite of two wars and the economy tanking

gop sabotage

As we come to President Obama’s second inauguration, it is encouraging to see that at least some in the media are finally focusing on the what happened during the president’s first inauguration.  Considering the dire straights that the economy was in at the time, it is really hard to believe that these Republicans gave a damn about what might happen to the American people.

From Frontline’s Inside Obama’s Presidency – a report on The Republicans Plan for the New President:

On the night of Barack Obama’s inauguration, a group of top GOP luminaries quietly gathered in a Washington steakhouse to lick their wounds and ultimately create the outline of a plan for how to deal with the incoming administration.

“The room was filled. It was a who’s who of ranking members who had at one point been committee chairmen, or in the majority, who now wondered out loud whether they were in the permanent minority,” Frank Luntz, who organized the event, told FRONTLINE.

Among them were Senate power brokers Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl and Tom Coburn, and conservative congressmen Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan.

After three hours of strategizing, they decided they needed to fight Obama on everything. The new president had no idea what the Republicans were planning.

Read more about the Republicans sabotage attempt at The Audacity of Nope.

Cashing In On Obstruction: How Mitch McConnell’s Abuse of the Filibuster Benefits His Big Money Donors | Public Campaign Action Fund

Executive Summary of the Public Action Campaign Report:

Since Republicans lost the majority in 2006 and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) became minority leader in 2007, the United States Senate has seen an unprecedented level of filibustering and obstruction. McConnell has been at the helm of a scorched earth policy of blocking nearly every bill and nominee that comes before the Senate, imposing an anti-democratic super-majority requirement to advance any legislation or appointment. This has meant little to no work on a wide range of lingering problems from anemic job growth to unwarranted giveaways of tax dollars to oil companies to the highest rates of inequality since the Gilded Age. This report links the big trends and donors in McConnell’s enthusiastic fundraising career with his willingness to foment legislative dysfunction, which serves to increase his power and enrich his corporate donors while leaving American families to struggle. The eight cases of obstruction examined in this report span several important policies and highly competent judicial and administrative nominees. These cases are among the many instances where McConnell placed the interests of his big money donors ahead of Kentuckians and everyday families.

Highlights

On the very day debate began on a bill to repeal subsidies to Big Oil, an astonishing $131,500 in campaign contributions passed from the hands of oil donors in Midland, Texas into Mitch McConnell’s re-election war chest. Three days later the bill failed by filibuster.

Companies that lobbied against bringing jobs back to America and ending tax breaks for offshoring have given McConnell one million dollars to win his elections and look out for their interests. Big McConnell donors such as GE, Microsoft, and Exxon Mobil also have billions in untaxed profits stashed overseas.

Despite once supporting transparency, McConnell has led the effort to block the DISCLOSE Act and keep Americans in the dark about the money flowing into elections. Wealthy individuals and companies spending millions in secret money have overwhelmingly helped elect Republicans, an essential step in McConnell’s ambition to become majority leader of the Senate.

Sen. McConnell took the unusual step of filibustering a district court nominee, former trial lawyer Jack McConnell, who was vehemently opposed by the insurance industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after Jack McConnell won a multi-billion dollar case against lead paint companies. Sen. McConnell has received $1.7 million from insurance interests, and has taken tens of thousands of dollars from one of the lead paint companies in the case and its parent company.

Read the full report at Cashing In On Obstruction: How Mitch McConnell’s Abuse of the Filibuster Benefits His Big Money Donors | Public Campaign Action Fund.

The Kochtopus Explained

From KochCash.org The Kochtopus: The Influence of Koch-Cash

Thanks to the folks at IFG.org, we can finally see how far the Koch Brothers tentacles have penetrated the inner workings of our country.

From an interview with Democracy Now, originally posted at Crooks and Liars:

The author of a new report on U.S. carbon billionaires give a tour of the Kochtopus — a map of the empire of Charles and David Koch. The Kochs run oil refineries and control thousands of miles of pipeline, giving them a massive personal stake in the fossil fuel industry. Democracy Now! is joined by Victor Menotti, executive director of the International Forum on Globalization.

Read the new report at KochCash.org

Full transcript after the jump.

VICTOR MENOTTI: Well, you go to kochcash.org, and you click right here on The Kochtopus, what you get is this. And this is a mapping that we’ve done of how they move their money, the structure of their influence network, and it’s an unprecedented scale.

So, first of all, Charles and David Koch, we have to update this, because it’s not $76.4, it’s now $80.2 billion. They’re a single financial-political entity, more than the world’s wealthiest man, Carlos Slim. So, more cash than anybody on the planet. Their money comes from oil, gas, refining. Their father, Fred, invented cracking, which is what turns crude oil into gasoline. So, all of the technologies—

AMY GOODMAN: That’s—you said “cracking” of “fracking”?

VICTOR MENOTTI: Not fracking; cracking. Cracking. His father doubled the net energy that came out of cracking, so the whole family fortune is based on fossil fuels. But few people know that they do seven essential services in fracking also. Georgia-Pacific makes the little chemicals that prop open the microfissures and let the methane escape and pollute the water.

AMY GOODMAN: And they own Georgia-Pacific.

VICTOR MENOTTI: They own Georgia-Pacific. Tar sands, as I said, 25 percent of existing tar sands imports, they process. Chemical, ranching, fertilizer. Their biggest money, though, Amy, comes from commodity speculation and oil derivatives. They quintupled their wealth in the—quintupled their wealth in the past six years through the commodity trading, because there’s no ban on trading commodities, and they can control enough of the flow of energy and then bet on it—or not bet on it; they’ve got the rules rigged, and they cash in on it.

So, here are some of the clowns that then decide where that money is going to move, out to these different areas, which are really about controlling policy. First are the media manipulators. You know some of these faces. They invite them to their secret strategy meetings, so they’re really in on the conversation and the ideology to explain for the—the big picture to the—

AMY GOODMAN: And who are they?

VICTOR MENOTTI: Some of these folks are Rush Limbaugh; Michelle Malkin; Steve Moore, a Wall Street Journal writer; and Glenn Beck, who I’m sure you know about.

Next are the think tanks. For over 30 years, they’ve been funding some of these. The Cato Institute was originally called the Koch Institute. The Heartland Institute, big climate deniers.

Then the astroturf agents. These are the fake grassroots groups that they give money to to project an appearance of popular support. Americans for Prosperity, probably the most significant one, they kind of are the farm team for the tea party, that you can go google “billionaire tea party” and see David Koch getting a report from the field of AFP, bragging about how many members they turned out, state by state, for the tea party caucus.

And then you’ve got what we call the “wealth warriors.” This is their legions of lobbyists, their armies of accountants, their tax attorneys, whose job is to keep the money out of government coffers and into the Kochs’ hands. So, that’s KochPAC. It’s ALEC. It’s the Chamber of Commerce.

AMY GOODMAN: ALEC.

VICTOR MENOTTI: ALEC. But here you see that ALEC is just a single sucker on one tentacle of the larger Kochtopus.

AMY GOODMAN: But ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council.

VICTOR MENOTTI: That’s right. That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: That puts together government officials with corporate executives, and many of the corporate executives are involved in writing legislation that’s handed to said legislators and others.

VICTOR MENOTTI: That’s right, everything from the Stand Your Ground laws that killed Trayvon Martin to all the important climate legislation—or, sorry, their rolling back important climate legislation at the state level, which is really the main thing that’s been happening in the U.S. in light of no global action here at the U.N.

So, this is just from dirtyenergymoney.com. You could type in the name of whatever contributor oil company you want, and what you’ll get is all the different members of Congress who get money from the Kochs. They’re the single-largest contributor from the gas and oil sector.

And then, of course, some of their chief ideologues. Paul Ryan now risen to party leader after the recent elections, so let’s not think the Kochs didn’t get much out of their big spend in 2012.

AMY GOODMAN: Why Paul Ryan, do you select, in particular, do you point out?

VICTOR MENOTTI: Well, he had—

AMY GOODMAN: The congressman from Wisconsin who was Mitt Romney’s running mate for president.

VICTOR MENOTTI: Because he believes in the Koch agenda of what’s called economic freedom. He’s probably the chief ideologue of that ideology, Ayn Rand’s get government out of the way, government’s the problem, and just freedom for capital to invest as it wants.

AMY GOODMAN: And you include Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

VICTOR MENOTTI: Scott Walker. There are a lot of more faces up here we could have added, but Scott Walker was sort of a testing ground for passing collective bargaining laws and—

AMY GOODMAN: That eviscerate collective bargaining.

VICTOR MENOTTI: That’s right. So that’s sort of our elected officials part of the government.

Then there’s the courtroom collaborators. Those are the like-minded judges that eventually get appointed. Kochs, for years, have been funding judicial education conferences through this organization FREE. It’s giving to some of the more radical Supreme Court justices and led to—

AMY GOODMAN: FREE is the Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment?

VICTOR MENOTTI: That’s right. That’s right. It’s judicial trainings to think like the Kochs, basically. And that’s what’s led to the Citizens United decision, is that sort of—

AMY GOODMAN: You have a picture right there of two Supreme Court justices in your Kochtopus, as you call it.

VICTOR MENOTTI: That’s right, Scalia and Thomas, who actually—

AMY GOODMAN: Why?

VICTOR MENOTTI: Well, they’re known to hang out with the Kochs. They go to their summits. They go to their strategy sessions—Aspen, Palm Springs, wherever it might be. There’s a very comfortable relationship that we think is entirely inappropriate.

And then you get to your academic agents. So, they’re starting to fund universities with contracts, where they bring in their ideologues, their curriculum, and that becomes the—even at public universities. This is just a short video clip that you can see interviews with some of the people at those universities who are opposing it.

And then, of course, there’s the physical force. They’ve got control of the legal system. All of this they do is legal. But when that breaks down, they need the blue meanies out there with their billy clubs, so—and their presence is increasing as the protests against the Kochs—

AMY GOODMAN: You’re saying police contracted to—show us that part of—

VICTOR MENOTTI: Both private contract, but also when they show up, they get municipal police forces.

AMY GOODMAN: To guard secretive Koch meeting—

VICTOR MENOTTI: That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: —at Rancho Mirage, California.

VICTOR MENOTTI: That was the one last year. They may do it again this January. We’re hoping they do.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the scientists, when you talk about the climate deniers? I want to go to Richard Muller, who was funded by the Koch brothers, though now is saying that climate change is a very real issue.

RICHARD MULLER: We were able to show that the poor station quality, although it affected the temperature measurements, didn’t affect the temperature changes. We were able to use 100 percent of the data, not the 20 percent that others had used. We found that data selection bias didn’t affect things. We looked at the urban heat island. It came together. We concluded that global warming was indeed real. …

And I’ve got to admit, I was shocked when I saw the results. There was short-time—short-term variability that was due to volcanoes, essentially nothing due to the solar variation. Theoretically, that’s not too surprising, but I was surprised nonetheless. But the remaining curve, the rise in that curve, was dead on to human production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. At that point, the data had led me to a conclusion I would not have expected a few years earlier.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s scientist Richard Muller. Victor Menotti?

VICTOR MENOTTI: Well, he’s been one of the chief climate denialists, that the Kochs have funded his research over the years. And this summer, as the droughts were hitting the Midwest, his report—he, I think, was on your show and talked about, conclusively, it’s human-caused carbon emissions that are warming the planet. So, we think this kind of puts the Kochs in new legal territory now, because they’ve been informed about the impacts and causality of the products that they are producing, kind of like big tobacco. So it kind of gets into the willful ignorance territory, which could cause greater liability for them down the road.

But the question here is: What do we do about this? So what IFG is doing is we’ve been contacting all these different groups on the ground that are fighting the Kochs from different parts, whether it’s the NAACP fighting voter rights rollback in 30 different states or the United Steelworkers defending collective bargaining in Wisconsin and other states throughout the country. And we’re—first thing is to get everybody together and recognize that who we’re all fighting is the same person, because we haven’t seen a situation like this before in the U.S. You know, we first met around Seattle—I don’t know if you remember—but that was about the WTO. It’s not just about corporations or the institutions now. Globalization has concentrated wealth and power to such extremes, we have the emergence of oligarchic powers. And that’s really what this Kochtopus is all about.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Victor Menotti, I want to thank you very much for being with us, author of “Faces Behind a Global Crisis: US Carbon Billionaires and the UN Climate Deadlock” and the force behind kochcash.org, a picture of what he calls the “Kochtopus: The Influence of Koch-Cash.”

Unable To Win Honestly, Romney Campaign Turns To Poll Challengers | Addicting Info

Voter suppression campaign is being organized directly from Mitt Romney’s campaign website. From Addicting Info:

It appears that the Romney campaign has decided that it cannot win legitimately at this point. The Romney campaign website now sports an “Election Day Task Force” training page, with the goal to train people in the art of voter suppression through the time-honored tactic of racial profiling by poll challengers.

All across the right-wing blogosphere, the call has gone out to suppress the vote of minorities, of labor unions of anyone who does not believe in their candidate. One such call out has gone like so:

I want to turn as many of you as possible on to a massive task force the Romney campaign is putting together for election day. It’s called project “Orca”, where at least 20,000 (they’d love to get 30-40,000) volunteers camp out at polling places in swing states and feed real-time information to Boston using your smart phone, tablet, or whatever. I’ve been trained on this already, and it’s unreal what the Romney campaign is doing. Extremely sophisticated stuff that has real potential to make a sizable difference on election day. They are looking for even more volunteers, so if you’re interested, check out http://www.mittromney.com/orca.

I’m not giving anything secret away. At this point, the Romney campaign figures it’s too late for the Obama campaign to match this program.

For any Obama supporters that may be tempted to infiltrate the volunteer force, be aware that the Romney campaign will do a background check to make sure you are who you say you are. If you’ve “liked” anything supportive of Obama, for example, you’ll be found out.

The use of poll challengers is well established. The Democratic party uses them to prevent voter suppression in many states. The Republican party, however, has thrown its lot in with True the Vote and their goal of eliminating millions of eligible voters from the rolls through false claims of being dead, joining a long history of Republican voter suppression.

What is new this time, however, is the use of electronic devices to allow real-time analysis and coordination of the poll challengers. For instance, one can hang out in a parking lot, and when they see a car with an Obama sticker on it, they snap a picture of the person, forwarding it to the operative inside the polling station, who then does a direct and focused attack on the voting rights. In addition, the headquarters can find out in real-time how well the efforts are going, and know where to shift their efforts as the election goes on.

A report by the Brennan Center for Justice found that these voting suppression tactics are legal in just under half of the states, including several large states such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. And you find the call for poll challengers coming from these states. The Election Day Task Force is a highly coordinated and direct attack on the foundations of Democracy itself.

They begin training their voter suppression task force next week in Michigan.

via Unable To Win Honestly, Romney Campaign Turns To Poll Challengers | Addicting Info.

Chinese firm promoted its low-wage, low-tax liability to investors shortly before Mitt Romney made investment – Political Intelligence – A national political and campaign blog from The Boston Globe – Boston.com

Oops!

Less than two weeks before an investment firm controlled by Mitt Romney decided to invest in a China-based home appliance company, the company put out a detailed document to investors promoting itself as a low-wage, low-tax firm that would not be subject to taxes in the United States.

It used “inexpensive labor,” Global-Tech Appliances wrote in a prospectus meant to attract investors on April 8, 1998. Its location in China meant “an overall effective tax rate that may be less than that of US corporations.” It said its current operations would not be subject to “material US taxes because it should not be considered to have significant income effectively connected with a trade or business in the US.”

The company also noted its working conditions: peak production periods required six-day work weeks, and two 10-hour shifts per day in the case of the metal stamping department. The main manufacturing facility, located in Dongguan, China, included 14 buildings that served as dormitories accommodating up to 3,700 workers.

Nine days after the document was released – on April 17, 1998 — an affiliate of Bain Capital called Brookside Capital Partners Fund acquired about 6 percent of Global Tech, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents that were first reported by Mother Jones magazine.

Romney was listed as the “sole shareholder, sole director, President and Chief Executive Officer of Brookside Inc. and thus is the controlling person of Brookside Inc.”

more at Chinese firm promoted its low-wage, low-tax liability to investors shortly before Mitt Romney made investment – Political Intelligence – A national political and campaign blog from The Boston Globe – Boston.com.

Michael Tomasky on How the GOP Invented Mitt Romney’s “Moochers” – The Daily Beast

Republicans once worked with Democrats to help the poor and middle class. But that was before the GOP was taken over by cynics and liars. What’s a fair-minded Democrat to do?

more at Michael Tomasky on How the GOP Invented Mitt Romney’s “Moochers” – The Daily Beast.

Disillusioned Obama Supporter In Romney Ad Is Actually GOP Staffer | TPM2012

Can the GOP tell the truth about anything?

Republicans debuted a new ad Thursday in which a frustrated former Obama supporter expresses her disappointment with the president. The only problem: The woman in the video is actually an RNC staffer.

The new ad features Republican National Committee Director of Hispanic Outreach Bettina Inclan, who in the ad purports to be an average woman voter who supported Obama in 2008. She describes her disillusionment with the president in the ad as a romantic relationship gone awry.

“You’re just not he person I thought you were,” Inclan says in the ad, addressing a cardboard cutout of Obama. Inclan lists out-of-control spending and Obama’s penchant for hanging out with Hollywood celebrities as reasons for the break-up. “It’s not me, it’s you. I think we should just be friends.”

The ad asks people to share why they’re “breaking up” with Obama.

The RNC says its ad, which first appeared on television Thursday is not dishonest.

“It’s a lighthearted ad to show how millions of Americans feel about President Obama — he’s not the person we thought he was and it’s time to break up with him,” an RNC official told TPM. “But let’s be clear, it is an ad.”

Inclan began her current RNC post in January 2012, and has worked in Republican politics since well before Obama’s 2008 election. She did Hispanic outreach for Rick Scott’s 2010 Florida gubernatorial race worked on Capitol Hill for Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) and as national executive director of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly.

more at Disillusioned Obama Supporter In Romney Ad Is Actually GOP Staffer | TPM2012.

How Mitt Romney plans to spend all that money

Several new developments in the 2012 Presidential campaign of late…

Since we are starting to learn more about how Mitt plans to spend all the money he’s received from those rich, secretive donors, what little we know of them – and what they want for their money – seems like a good place to start.

Right-Wing Billionaires Behind Mitt Romney:  They’re trying to buy a presidency – and they expect a big payoff on their investment

We learned from the Washington Post that a good deal of this money is going to a team of supposed advertising gurus that includes the guy that came up with the slogan “Where’s the beef?”

Mitt Romney’s team of ‘Mad Men’ creates ads to sell a nation on a candidate

Now the ad wizards job might be a whole lot easier if they could just keep Mitt Romney quiet

Romney: ‘No ones ever asked to see my birth certificate’

Not that anyone should be too surprised with Romney’s pandering to his base. In fact, there will be 7 birther speakers at the Republican National Convention, and Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach – a known birther – is the immigration adviser to the Romney campaign:

7 Birther Speaking at Republican National Convention

Former Michigan Governor, Jennifer Granholm, had one of the best reactions to Mitt’s birther comment:

Jennifer Granholm’s Response to Mitt Romney’s Birther Remark is a Doozy

But back to how Mitt’s donations. We also learned that the GOP is using data mining to search for rich, religious donors according  the AP:

Romney uses secretive data mining, exec says

This is not the only way the GOP is apparently planning on using large databases – they also come in handy for voter intimidation:

How the Right’s Building a Poll Watcher Network for November.

Now whether the effort by True the Vote is related in anyway to this despicable ad by the Conservative Majority Fund – also seeming to try to collect names – is hard to say:

Birther Group Launches National Ad Campaign Seeking to Disqualify Obama from Reelection

There is no law anywhere that says collecting 10,000 signatures in each congressional district can have a candidate removed from the ballot. A whois search of the website mentioned in that ad tracked back to a long time GOP operative, big surprise. It may still, if they haven’t already covered their tracks (which one thinks they should have done before running the ad).

One more that worth checking out before it’s gone. Someone apparently filmed Mitt talking to some rich donors at a $50k per plate fund raiser on the “good” Bain was doing by using outsourced Chinese sweatshop labor:

Mysterious Video Appears to Show Romney’s Private Remarks on Chinese Labor Conditions

or the original post:

Mitt admits to using Chinese slave labor at Bain (which was not posted by Rachel Maddow, by the way).

There is actually even more than this going on, but given the RNC’s convention is next week, there will be plenty of time for more links.