We’re watching.

Happy Halloween. Here’s a new wrinkle in election-related mailers:

All those people are our neighbors. Why would the Americans for Limited Government (a Koch-supported group, incidentally) be interested in telling us whether they voted in the last two presidential-election cycles? Beats me. I asked someone who has forgotten more about politics than I’ll ever know, and he said it’s a new thing — shaming, basically, as a get-out-the-vote tactic. Research shows that you can goad some people to the polls if they feel their neighbors are getting a similar report about them.

I suspect this tactic works best in white suburbia.

Of course we both voted in 2004, but not at this address.

I’m still sort of agog at the damage left behind by one faltering hurricane. I keep reading that the cleanup could take “days.” I look at photos of flooded subway tunnels and think, “try ‘weeks.'” One of you engineers — heh — needs to enlighten the group: What’s the effect of seawater on railroad electrical systems? It can’t be good.

Anyone have both a) power; and b) a good storm story to tell? I talked to someone today who spent the storm in a Washington D.C. high rise, and said the wind was terrifying. I don’t doubt it.

But life goes on. And it demands bloggage:

An elegant essay on the Minnesota marriage vote, calling on that northern-plains archetype, the Norwegian bachelor farmer:

My late uncle bachelor farmer had a bachelor farmer pal, whom I’ll call Bob. My uncle and Bob were the best of friends for more than 50 years. Every winter, when no work could be done on their farms, the two took long road trips and saw America. When they got too old to farm, they traveled more. When they got too old to travel and live alone on their farms, they acquired adjacent rooms at the nursing home in town. They died within months of each other at that home.

If you read only one election story this week, let it be Jane Mayer’s piece on how voter fraud, so rare as to be…well, very rare, found its way onto the national radar screen.

Finally, what sort of person sits inside during a weather emergency spewing misinformation into the ether? This guy.

Wednesday already? If you say so.

Posted at 12:56 am in Current events |

87 responses to “We’re watching.”

  1. Deborah said on October 31, 2012 at 3:25 am

    That letter is really creepy.

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  2. basset said on October 31, 2012 at 6:41 am

    “Days” to get the streets cleared and buildings shoveled out, maybe, but in our experience post-flood repairs take a lot longer than you’d expect. Close to five months for us, just to strip out and rebuild a 3-bedroom tract house, replacing all the HVAC, most of the wiring, and everything structural down to the studs and floor joists… I hate to think what it’d take to bring, say, a telephone relay building back. (Ask AT&T, their switch in our neighborhood flooded and we didn’t have any cel service at all during the worst of the cleanup.)

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  3. Linda said on October 31, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Hee. Did the “limited government” boobs that sent Alan a letter know they were shaming people who may not vote as they wished? My coworker, a staunch liberal Democrat, keeps getting Romney material, even though she loathes him, I guess because of her advanced age. Slate did an article on how backwards the Republican voter research and get-out-the-vote efforts are. It’s worth a read.

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  4. David C. said on October 31, 2012 at 7:01 am

    I got one of these vote audits, only it was from the United Steelworkers. I would vote as they think I should, I’m sure. It still creeped me out.

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  5. Suzanne said on October 31, 2012 at 7:17 am

    We got one of those voter letters, too. It said we didn’t vote in the last election, which we did. We threw it out.

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  6. Suzanne said on October 31, 2012 at 7:19 am

    When I get unwanted campaign material in the mail, I take the enclosed envelope, stuff all the material back in it (sometimes I have to cut it up), black out anything that identifies me, and put it in the mailbox w/o postage. It makes me feel better.

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  7. basset said on October 31, 2012 at 8:03 am

    I tried that with the Columbia Record Club years ago, they wouldn’t stop sending me junk mail so I finally got a wet, nasty brick from under the porch, wrapped it up in plastic, stuck the “business reply mail” free card on the outside and dropped it in the mail. They mailed the card back to me… well played, Columbia.

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  8. brian stouder said on October 31, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Basset – being as it’s October 31, one imagines the person that got the mail at Columbia House record club that day deadpanning “I got a rock”

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  9. Dorothy said on October 31, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Speaking of unwanted mail, since we began forwarding Mike’s aunt’s mail to us in April, we’ve been getting an avalanche of catalogs. She warned us that she gets “a lot.” I started emailing them when I located their websites and navigated to their customer service page. That was getting unwieldy and I wasn’t keeping track of which ones I notified. One company did me a favor and emailed me back, pointing me in the direction of catalogchoice.org. So I registered there with an email account we use for junk stuff, and as of yesterday I have sent messages to 47 different catalogs or companies that are sending mail to his aunt. Every single piece is coming re-addressed to us (no yellow sticky label on it – somehow they found out about her change of address and updated their records.) The category I always click on at catalogchoice is the one that says “Addressed to person not at residence or deceased.” Of course it can take 2-3 months for them to get their records updated to take the name off their mailing list. Why does it take so long to do that, and yet they updated their records immediately to make sure she continued to get the %*#$%) catalogs at our house?! She gets more mail at our place than we do.

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  10. Kirk said on October 31, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Right-wing slime, unions or whatever, I’d be tempted to tell whoever sent me a “voter audit” to shove their big-brother crap where the sun doesn’t shine.

    Shock of shocks: Even the right-wing Columbus Dispatch editorial board couldn’t bring itself to endorse the disgusting, fraudulent twit-punk Josh Mandel for U.S. Senate, instead giving the nod to “career politician” Sherrod Brown. The campaign has been incredibly nasty and bombastic, probably attracting more outside money than any other Senate race in the country.

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  11. jcburns said on October 31, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Dear Alan,

    Thank you for your dedication to paying your taxes, keeping your grass cut, your windows washed, your car well-maintained, your house numbers polished, and your pets spayed and neutered. Our American democracy is stronger because of citizens like you.

    Here’s a breakdown of you and your neighbors’ activities, for your information and prurient interest…it also includes yearly candy distribution amounts at halloween, purchases at high school bake sales, and a handy breakdown and subtotaling of some of your trash and yard waste.

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  12. del said on October 31, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Not even considering Nancy and Alan I recognize one voter on that list who will not be voting as the Kochs would like.

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  13. coozledad said on October 31, 2012 at 9:20 am

    The only reason Republicans can be bullshitted to believe in the idea of widespread voter fraud is because they are willing to commit it.

    All their punitive legislative efforts originate in a sidelong glance at their own ugly little hearts. It seems there was another political party that engaged in similar sorts of projection, and attracted similarly despicable people, but we kicked their ass and hung their leaders. I forget what they were even called.

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  14. coozledad said on October 31, 2012 at 9:24 am

    That would be “hanged” instead of “hung”. Although “hunging” some of them might have addressed the problem too.

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  15. Dorothy said on October 31, 2012 at 9:26 am

    …..what’s the latest on the edit button?

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  16. coozledad said on October 31, 2012 at 9:35 am


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  17. BigHank53 said on October 31, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I can answer a couple of questions about the NYC subways. (Disclaimer: I am neither a transit professional nor an electrical engineer. This is based on too many years of fixing broken electronics.) Subway tunnels are actually pretty simple: it’s a railroad track with the addition of a 600 volt electrical outlet. The cleanup process is going to go something like this:

    1. Pump out the floodwater.
    2. Remove any physical debris that washed in.
    3. Wash everything down with fresh water to get the salt off. Otherwise, residual salt would create a short circuit between the third rail and the earth, leaving no electricity for the train.
    4. Check for water intrusion into every junction box that was submerged. I don’t know if they use waterproof NEMA enclosures or not. If water got in, everything has to be washed and dried. The real worry is whether cable ends were exposed to floodwaters: if they used braided cable it can actually suck water up via capillary action, just like a towel. You can’t get it out, the salt will corrode the copper, and there’s no choice but to replace the cable. If the system was designed by pessimists who figured it’d wind up underwater sooner or later, all of these steps will only take a few days.
    5. Replace any signalling electronics/cabling that were removed or damaged. This was actually one of the reasons the subways were shut down early. It kept people at home, but it also gave crews the chance to pull out sensors and signal lights that they knew wouldn’t survive the flooding.

    New York has usually had the money to do things the right way. They’ve also been around long enough to have a crusty old guy in every department who will be happy to tell you exactly what happened thirty-five years ago when some clever dolt tried to save a bunch of money and do things the cheap way.

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    • nancy said on October 31, 2012 at 9:41 am

      This is why my readers are the best ever. Thanks.

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  18. Peter said on October 31, 2012 at 9:52 am

    I think Big Hank 53 is right. I would only add that some subway systems (Berlin and Vienna for sure, Chicago I think) are designed to take on water during a flood to lower water levels on streets, although that’s like bailing out a bathtub with a thimble.

    I have a client who owns a hotel near WTC and he told us this morning that while the hotel has 10 feet of water in the lower levels the lobby level is now dry. He said the Hudson just rolled right on through the lobby.

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  19. Mark P said on October 31, 2012 at 9:55 am

    BigHank is probably right. I’m not an EE, but it’s for sure that salt water is hell on metal.

    It will be interesting to compare the reconstruction of the Northeast after Sandy to the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast after Katrina. That was a true national disgrace. It was mortifying to hear the cast of Top Gear talk about the devastation when they visited two years afterwards. I am not from there and have no real connection to it, but I feel a deep sense of shame and anger even today when I think about it.

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  20. Rana said on October 31, 2012 at 10:31 am

    From what I’ve heard about the subway system, one of the real concerns is if some of the mechanical pumping devices are damaged or wear out. Some are supposedly around a century old, so buying replacement parts isn’t an option.

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  21. Prospero said on October 31, 2012 at 10:37 am

    The Shashank Tripathi story goes right over my head. Seems to me that , rather than shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater, the guy just didn’t know what he was talking about. ConEd did indeed shut down it’s steam driven electricity generation equipment, because that part of the system was most likely to be damaged irrevocably if flooded. Eventually, all of the island from 31st south was powered down wheter by design, transformer explosion, or flooding. So in what way was this dumbass’ communication nefarious, and what were his motives and his intentions?

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  22. Prospero said on October 31, 2012 at 10:51 am

    The subway system in DC (fairly modern) is already back in service. The MBTA in Boston (all services) (older than the NY MTA) expects all services up and running by Tues AM.

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  23. Jolene said on October 31, 2012 at 10:55 am

    The Army Corps of Engineers has a team that specializes in “unwatering.” They’re already on the ground in NY.

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  24. Jolene said on October 31, 2012 at 10:57 am

    The subway system in DC (fairly modern) is already back in service.

    But there is no comparison between what happened here and what happened in NY. As far as I know, there was no flooding in the Metro.

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  25. Bitter Scribe said on October 31, 2012 at 11:08 am

    What I don’t get about that letter is why they think you’ll vote the way they want. Are you guys registered Republicans or something? (Apologies if that’s too personal.)

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  26. coozledad said on October 31, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Bitter Scribe: I think the Koch’s baseline assumption is that white suburbans are going to vote for the white guy, but who knows what they think.

    One of them built a mockup of a frontier town so he could play Wyatt Earp or some such shit. That’s too much money making your ass crazy.

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  27. nancy said on October 31, 2012 at 11:23 am

    I always vote in whichever primary has the ballot I care about more, so the record of my party allegiance is pretty ecumenical. However, as del mentioned upthread, at least one of the people on this list is flying an Obama yard sign at the moment, so it’s probably a wash.

    AP suggests these are going out in Indiana, too. Much tighter race there, probably worth their investment, whereas Hoekstra is cruising for a bruising here.

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  28. brian stouder said on October 31, 2012 at 11:30 am

    One of them built a mockup of a frontier town so he could play Wyatt Earp or some such shit.

    You know, that would be strikingly fitting. Kevin Costner aside, from what little I’ve read (here and there), Earp was a fairly money-grubbing, bloody-eyed drunk guy (at least early on) from Illinois, who had the great good fortune of never being hit by return fire, as he went from one gunfight (or ambush) to the next

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  29. Catherine said on October 31, 2012 at 11:37 am

    There was a piece on my local NPR station about how to raise voter turnout, and the “whether your neighbors voted” tactic is effective. Can’t find the podcast but it may have been this guest: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/sep/12/facebook-message-boosts-voter-turnout-ucsd-study/

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  30. Jakash said on October 31, 2012 at 11:50 am

    brian s.,
    I loved the excellent, on-point reference to “I got a rock” at #8. That’s one of my favorite all-purpose quotes, year-round, so your citing it on Halloween makes it a sure thread-winner for me.

    Shouldn’t the organization behind the Voter Shaming Letter be called “Americans for Limited Government and Enhanced Corporate Tyranny”?

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  31. Dave said on October 31, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Depends on what book you read about Wyatt, Brian. He certainly wasn’t the steely-eyed hero portrayed on TV in the 1950’s series, nor was he the man Stuart Lake wrote about in his biography. He was a gambler and some think he was an outlaw who played both sides of the law. After Tombstone, he mostly ran gambling houses and served as a referee in boxing matches, I may be wrong but I don’t think he ever did anything in law enforcement ever again. Much controversy exists about the OK Corral gunfight, depending on which depiction one reads. The truth may never be known.

    Personally, I like Kurt Russell’s Wyatt but maybe that’s because who wouldn’t enjoy Val Kilmer’s Doc.

    They were discussing those letters about voter registration on local radio this morning (Yes, WOWO, increasingly unlistenable to me). We haven’t received one.

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  32. Sherri said on October 31, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I haven’t figured out the Republicans’ profiling method yet. My husband and I are both registered Democrats (not that that really matters in Washington with a top-two primary system), and I’ve donated money to Democratic candidates. All of that is public record. Yet we still get calls from the Tea Party candidate running for Congress in our district looking for donations, despite the fact that I’ve already donated to his opponent. We get Republican mail (not flyers, envelope mail) all the time. Maybe they think we’re closet Republicans just covering because we live in a blue state.

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  33. Jakash said on October 31, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I’d imagine that the effectiveness of the shaming letter would vary significantly according to the nature of the neighborhood being targeted. I would expect that there are more than a few areas where the recipient would look at it and think something like “Ya know, I always had my doubts about Bill down the street, and, sure enough, it says right here that the smarmy weasel actually VOTES.”

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  34. Deborah said on October 31, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Even my republican mother said way (way!) back when I was about 12 that the Republicans do not want everyone to vote because they know their policies are not popular with the common man. She died when I was 14 so I know I had to have been around 12 years old. And believe me she said that while being as proud as a peacock of her grand old party. It struck me even then as being a horrible thing to say. It does not surprise me in the least that all kinds of voter suppression is happening. Today Charles Pierce has a piece about billboards (sorry no link).

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  35. Danny said on October 31, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I titally misunderstood Brian’s quote, Jackash. I was associating music (Columbia House) and the Canadian rock band, April Wine’s song, “I Like to Rock.”


    Good song.

    BigHank53, very nice assessment. Loved the capillary action reference.

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  36. Danny said on October 31, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Um, “totally.” Fat fingers.

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  37. Linda said on October 31, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Follow up hee: Just got an email, thanking me for voting early, and wanting to know if I would whip up the vote for Obama. Big Bro goes electronic.

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  38. Danny said on October 31, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Read that article, Nance, but couldn’t get past the tone. The writer goes to some length to explain how incredibly bright her uncle was and then follows up with how confident she is that he never voted Republican. I guess in her mind, only dummies vote R. YMMV

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  39. nancy said on October 31, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    In Minnesota, where you aren’t a D but a DFL (Democratic Farmer Labor Party), it’s no surprise that a Norwegian bachelor would likely shun Republicans. Remember, northern-plains prairie progressivism bears little resemblance to, say, Chicago-style politics.

    All politics is local.

    Maybe Judybusy or one of our other Minnesota commenters would like to weigh in.

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  40. Sherri said on October 31, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I wonder if the NYTimes writers who wrote the stories on the data centers and how Google, Microsoft, Amazon, et al were being wasteful of energy in building so much redundancy in those centers appreciated the fact that when a once in a 100 years storm hit the east coast, the NYTimes web site never suffered a hiccup? I don’t know where the NYTimes web site is hosted, but I’m sure they don’t do it themselves. Despite floods, power outages, and blizzards (there are many companies with data centers in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia), any time I went to the NYTimes web site to get news, it was there.

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  41. Danny said on October 31, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Hmmm, interesting and good to know. I caught most of a televised biography on Pete Seeger a couple of months ago. Was there ever any cross-pollination between Seeger’s associations and the Farmer Labor Party in Minnesota? I would imagine there would be.

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  42. Danny said on October 31, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Sherri, it’s all hosted in the “cloud” so it’s well above flood level. Heheh. At least that is probably the pitch that the data center sales folks give to their non-technical audiences.

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  43. Prospero said on October 31, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Major decision day, in the wake of the weird weather. Do I break out long pants for the first time since last March (not counting church on Easter)? It’s 60, but no wind. Nah, shorts and a hoodie it is.

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  44. Judybusy said on October 31, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Nancy is right, or at least she used to be. I will use my own father farmer as an example. I remember as a kid being told to always vote Democratic because they stood with the little guy. Over time, I believe the Republican tirade about all the social issues worked its way into his brain, and I’m quite confident that he votes Republican. Those of you with good memories will recall this is the man who ceased talking to me when I came out as lesbian. In part, I lay responsibility at the feet of the hate-mongering Republican party who made it OK to shun gay people. That is why efforts to limit marriage rights touch a very deep cord within me, because it reinforces all the loathing for gay people, in addition to keeping me from exercising an important civil right. On the bright side, the county in which I grew up voted for Obama after going for Bush in ’06.

    Here is an interesting analysis of that County, via Daily Kos:

    Pope County (Glenwood, Starbuck) MN-07

    2008 Two-Party Vote: 51.9% Obama
    2006 Two-Party Vote: 59.6% Klobuchar
    2010 Two-Party Vote: 51% Emmer

    I recently profiled Grant County, whose political and demographic profile is very similar to Pope County which is just to its south and east in west-central Minnesota but with a slightly larger population (10,000 compared to 6,000). Large Lake Minnewaska, right in the middle of the county, is Pope County’s most renowned physical feature. Democrats have a solid core in Pope County, made up of its two largest towns of Glenwood and Starbuck, both heavily and proudly Norwegian, and the county’s southern townships bordering Swift County, which are holdover Democratic strongholds from the Farmer-Labor days. The north side of the county leans Republican, however, where the culture transforms towards the lake-and-cabin culture of nearby rural Alexandria. This profile leads to Democratic victories in Democratic-leaning races, but all too often, narrow Republican victories in close races. George W. Bush made an artform of squeaking out victories in Pope County by the barest of margins, winning by 37 votes in 2000 and 2 votes (!!) in 2004. Tim Pawlenty, Norm Coleman, and Tom Emmer have pulled off the same feat with microscopic victories in subsequent cycles. Like with Grant County, however, if Obama is winning Minnesota as decisively as suspected, I suspect he wins Pope County. Interestingly, Pope County is another of the state’s three whitest county with 97.5% of the county being caucasian. This means that Minnesota’s three whitest counties (Big Stone, Fillmore, and Pope) are all rated as either leaning or likely Obama, counter to the national trend.

    The effort to defeat the constitutional amendment here in Minnesota has been very effective in persuading many people to vote against the amendment. It’s now all about GOTV efforts.

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  45. Julie Robinson said on October 31, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    In our daughter’s new home state of Washington, all the voting is done by mail. I wondered about the possibilities for fraud, since she got a ballot for a former resident, but I assume they have a system in place.

    In the ballot package was a thick book addressing each issue, with arguments from each side, pro and con. They are voting on marriage equality, legalization of marijuana, and charter schools, among other issues. Charter schools have already been rejected three times.

    Aside from that, my only hurricane story is how far-reaching the effects can be. My flight from Seattle to Chicago was delayed by three hours because of backed up flights from the hurricane, but Alaska Air refused to rebook my American flight out of Chicago. American charged $75 to change to a later flight, and so far my efforts at a refund have only led to a lot of snottiness from three different levels of customer service. They both claim that since I didn’t book the flights together on one airline they carry no responsibility for the actions of the other airline. This was new to me, as I don’t fly all that often, and I’d be curious to hear if anyone else has experienced this or learned a work-around. If they don’t refund, it will be the last money American ever gets from me.

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  46. Sue said on October 31, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I got one of those vote shaming notices during the recall election, from an agressive pro-labor group, and just received my Americans for Limited Government vote shaming notice for this election today. I think it’s one of those things that will work for awhile and then be dropped by everyone for the next marketing fad.
    I believe whichever Koch brother has his own old-west town makes it available to historians for research, apparently it’s quite a collection. So while he’s probably not Mr. Smithson, I’ll give him a tiny bit of credit for that.
    And speaking of the Kochs, I am now to the point where I laugh giddily while I watch the endless commercials from their various sub-groups, attempting to convince the last seven undecided voters in WI to vote for Tommy and Mitt. Living as I do in one of the reddest counties in the state, I don’t have a clear view of how the election will go, but I will say this: at this point the Koch brothers, Karl Rove and all their pals are flushing millions down the toilet. Early voting’s already started, and still lot of Georgia-Pacific toilet paper products have to be sold to provide Koch profits to keep the endless flow of advertising moving until election day. I still don’t know if the Koch boys will be able to buy this election but right now it doesn’t seem to matter, they’re shoveling money down the pit even after everyone’s left the outhouse.

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  47. Scout said on October 31, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Sue – I just absolutely loved your post. During this whole long, expensive slog of a campaign season, I have had much the same thought. I wonder how it feels to shovels 100’s of millions of dollars into a losing campaign. Or is it all just chump change to the Koch suckers?

    Speaking of right wing assholes, there is a movement afoot to urge The Donald to donate that spare $5 mil he wants to spend on Obama’s transcripts to the Red Cross. Wanna make a wager that he doesn’t do it?

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  48. brian stouder said on October 31, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Wanna make a wager that he doesn’t do it?

    Ten thousand bucks!

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  49. Sue said on October 31, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Scout, I assume you don’t mean this:

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  50. Bitter Scribe said on October 31, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    It turns out that this shame-the-vote stuff actually originated on the Left. Specifically, MoveOn.org.

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  51. The Swiss Army Knife of Visual Effects said on October 31, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Danny, did you read the article? Because the very first line is: “This Republican will be voting “no” on the Minnesota marriage amendment.” So much for the tone.

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  52. Kaye said on October 31, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Julie, since you don’t fly often I expect you will discover American is no longer an option for your next flight. Did you purchase one round-trip ticket for your recent flight? If so, I am a bit surprised that Alaska wouldn’t change your connecting flight since it was with one of their partners.

    Ideally, at this time next week we will be celebrating a clean, decisive election. I enjoy politics but I am ready for this season to end.

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  53. Sherri said on October 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Julie, when you return your ballot in Washington, there are two envelopes. You have to sign the outer envelope, and the signature on that envelope is checked against your signature on your voter registration form to verify that it’s you. Your name is then checked off to show that you’ve voted so that you don’t vote twice. The inner envelope, which contains the ballot and contains no personal identifying information, is then sent off to be tabulated. In King County, the ballots are bubble scan; I don’t know about other counties.

    I think the charter school initiative might pass this time, despite clear rejections three times. There’s a lot of big education reform money (>$10 million) behind it this time, and the WEA seems more focused on the governor’s race rather than trying to fight it. It’s polling ahead, but still a little below 50%.

    I’m still hopeful for same-sex marriage, which is also getting a lot of ad time both ways, but about 2 to 1 pro. I’ve see very little on marijuana.

    (I don’t usually watch much live TV, but during the baseball playoffs, I was inundated with political ads.)

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  54. Julie Robinson said on October 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks for the info, Sherri. As I read the charter school pros and cons, I didn’t see anything on rent being paid to for-profit organizations. That Indiana loophole makes it possible for huge payments to be funneled to out of state real estate trusts and is my biggest objection to charters.

    Even in grunchy granola liberal WA, the ads running are nasty.

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  55. Watson said on October 31, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Re: Danny, #38: Sarah Janacek, the author of that op-ed, is one of Minnesota’s most high-profile Republican pundit/lobbyists.

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  56. Deborah said on October 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Bitter Scribe, That explains it for me, the fact that the voter shaming started on the left. Because it’s a toss up whichever way your neighbors will vote to some degree. The right is usually trying to surpress unless they know for pretty darn certain how you’re going to vote.

    Sue, you are a riot, love your comments.

    And Judy Busy it makes me so sad to hear that your own Dad has shunned you. Little Bird went about 8 years of having her Dad wanting to have nothing to do with her for different reasons. I don’t get how parents can reject their children for any reason. Disagree sure, but rejection is just purely wrong, wrong wrong.

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  57. Julie Robinson said on October 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Kaye, I missed your comment earlier. I had booked my Alaska Air trip using Delta points, then bought the round trip American to Chicago. That whole ticket was only $140, so they charged more for the change than the one-way cost. There aren’t good/cheap ways to get to Chicago–when our daughter comes home she takes two trains, one bus, and a few blocks walk just to get to Chesterton, which is a two hour and 20 minute drive for us.

    The more I think about it, the more miffed I am. American could have made me a happy customer on what was a difficult day of flying. I’ve been thinking of instituting a chargeback on the credit card, but if what they did is legal I may not have any recourse. Any bets the law that allows this was written by a Republican?

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  58. Mark P said on October 31, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Georgia has a charter school amendment on the ballot this year. It will let the state set up charter schools even if the local school board disapproves. Far more money was spent on campaigning by pro- forces, and — how odd! — most of it came from out-of-state organizations or individuals. Most of them are either corporations or people associated with corporations that expect to profit big-time from running Georgia charters, or who hope Georgia sets a precedent for other states. The pro- forces, which includes the attorney general, have made sure that it is “unethical” for local school officials to speak out in opposition, but have — how odd! — allowed pro- forces to do so from any state office.

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  59. jcburns said on October 31, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    They’re also running spots with cute kids, one who looks like Obama’s younger daughter. And the spots have the Obama campaign’s Gotham typeface on the tags. Sneaky.

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  60. The Swiss Army Knife of Visual Effects said on October 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    jc, Boris and I will have to duke it out for the title. Although they will probably win, since they are an actual suite of effects, while I am just a visual effects editor. 🙂

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  61. Sherri said on October 31, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I’ve read the actual text of the charter school initiative in Washington, and to my reading, there are a number of loopholes for funneling money to for profits despite the fact that only a non profit can be granted a charter. The initiative would also set up a state charter school commission whose members would be required to have “demonstrated a commitment to charter schooling as a strategy for strengthening public education.” A charter school could be authorized either by a local school board or by this state charter school commission.

    One other thing the initiative provides for is a conversion charter school, or what’s known as a parent trigger. A petition of a majority of the parents of students at the school can force a conversion to charter, and I think it can be done without the local board. The local board, however, would have to allow the conversion charter to use the building rent free, and share any levy monies with the conversion charter (local property taxes above the state monies provided for education.) Say the local board wants to close your school because of declining enrollment…now you’ve got a new option to fight them. Don’t think it can happen? Google “Bullis Charter School.”

    One thing I’d like the charter advocates to be more specific about is exactly what “burdensome regulations” they think are preventing public schools from performing? I always hear about the burdensome regulations, but I never hear what they are. Collective bargaining? Special education? the requirement to educate everyone?

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  62. brian stouder said on October 31, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    We’ll come back to this ridiculous piracy of public property for private gain (aka – “charter schools”) but first:

    I just got one of those ridiculous e-mails that implores you to “forward to everyone you know”, about how President Obama “is a devout Muslim; do not be fooled” and that goes from there into Glen Beckistan (proudly citing the Beckster as a credible source!) and all the hidden-in-plain-sight plots and plans to RUIN AMERICA!!

    Here’s the conclusion:

    Add it up and you’ve got the perfect Marxist scheme – all devised by my Columbia University college classmate Barack Hussein Obama using the Cloward and Piven Plan.


    I mean, wow, tell me Obama isn’t actually resorting to the old Cloward and Piven Plan!!

    My God!

    And not for nothing, but I give the guy who wrote this a bonus cleverness point, for Snopifying ahead of time. The writer of this tripe attended Columbia University, and calls himself a “classmate”, and while Snopes questions the specific meaning of the word “classmate”, they confirm that this shit-for-brains did attend Columbia University. ‘Course, all the rest of this sludge has been debunked and debunked and debunked again, for whatever it’s worth.

    And then – the Big Closer:

    Last point: think about what this designed “rule of the rabble” will do to anyone successful… and everyone receiving this is. What will your lives be like under communism? The time to fight this abomination is now… I hope each of you will forward to at least a dozen people.

    Ahhhh – the instant-classic meme from the lunatic rightwing: the 47% rabble that some number of “us” will stupidly join – just like eating tainted peanut butter or receiving a poisoned steroid shot – thereby sealing “our” own doom.

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  63. Danny said on October 31, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Swiss and whoever else commented, yes, I read the article, but the way it came across in my browser was kind of confusing. The first line was disconnected from the rest of the body by some javascript clutter and ads. It was not immediately clear on my first read that the top line was even part of the article. Anyway, I am someone distracted as we are making funeral arrangements in between keeping up on work email and occasionally commenting here. Mea culpa

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  64. Prospero said on October 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Burdensome regulations on schools? Oh, whacko stuff like requiring actual science and history in curricula. RMoney’s got the winning-reactionary side formula in charters with vouchers. Creationist/jingoist curriculum combined with welfare for the well off. The American south is littered with so-called Christian Academies that date back to the time of widespread court-ordered desegregation. The onerous regulation in those days was that Bubba Jr. or Daisy Mae might have to sit in a classroom with black classmates. Those people did pay their own ways to segregation though. They didn’t expect gubmint subsidies, any more than they expected the segregated country club to be subsidized. These days, with the current tax code and charter school initiatives, both are. Of course, that will all change when Willy Windsock goes after the tax shelters. I suggest he start with the LDS tax exempt status after the cult’s flagrant foray into politics in the California Prop 8 referendum election.

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  65. Prospero said on October 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Cloward-Piven? GOPers seem hell bet on forcing as many people into poverty as possible and destroying any forms of social welfare. I guess that would be the Cloward-Piven-Norquist bathtub drowning plan.

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  66. Mark P said on October 31, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    For-profit or non-profit charter schools? That is the question. In Georgia, the pro-charter-school forces insist that all charter schools in Georgia are non-profit. Of course, according to one supporting Web site (http://www.gacharters.org):

    “Let’s be clear, non-profit, public charter schools in Georgia can hire a for-profit management company to operate either all or portions of a charter school in Georgia.”

    Well, that clears it up! Nosiree, none of them danged old for-profit organizations will be scooping in the tax dollars to run Georgia charter schools! They’ll just be … wait a minute … “operating” them?

    They go on:
    “It’s no different than a school district hiring a for-profit lawn maintenance company or HVAC repair business.”

    No, not different at all. One company cuts the grass, and the other company just “provides everything a school needs to be successful: an innovative curriculum, talented staff, textbooks and computers, and a brand new facility.”

    I can see where this is going. These obstructionist, anti-education defenders of the status quo are trying to use some liberal, government-schooly thing they call “facts” to distort the true situation in Georgia. If you will just pay no attention to what we say, I’m sure we can convince you that our arguments are sound.

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  67. Peter said on October 31, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Cloward-Piven? Is that right up there with Smoot-Hawley?

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  68. Jan said on October 31, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Greetings from Oradell NJ, which is 15 miles west of NYC. Flew in LGA along with another friend to surprise our close friend on Saturday. She has had a horrific last 6 months and we were do excited to surprise her with a “great surprise”. Well the surprise has been on all of us. I haven’t spent this length of time with her since we backpacked together in Europe in 1982. Storm damage at her house was minimal except no power. Not so bad because they have a generator. Next street over, big trees down. We are having lot’s of fun and laughing a lot. Watching the HBO show Girls and all agree, we are happy not to be in our 20’s any longer.
    I may need to check into rehab when I get home. Last night’s drink of choice was jello shots. Slated to fly out on Friday, out of a an airport in Newburgh NY. Just in time since we are running out of gas for the cars and generator.I am sure my husband and 11 year old twins will be happy to see me. Overall it’s been a terrific trip spending time with some of my closest and oldest friends. However, I am sure our hosts will be happy when we leave.

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  69. Bitter Scribe said on October 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    If Obama wins, wait for the Romney people to blame it on Sandy. This jerkwad has a jump on it.

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  70. jcburns said on October 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Cloward-Piven was great in the British version of Speed-the-Plow.

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  71. Mark P said on October 31, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Bitter, it’s funny but they misspelled that guys email address. I think it’s supposed to jkass isn’t it?

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  72. maryinIN said on October 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I wrote up this little experience I had last night to share in case anyone finds it interesting/amusing/alarming/infuriating (I’m in the infuriating camp):

    I got polled last night by phone, I swear to a higher deity, it went like this:
    HIM: This is ____ calling with questions about your opinion on the economy.
    ME: Who are you working for?
    HIM: The Americans for P____________y, a non-profit group. We want your opinion on the direction America is going in.
    ME: Who are your funders?
    HIM: What?
    ME: Who financially supports your group?
    HIM: Our investors do.
    ME: If you have investors, you’re not a non-profit.
    HIM: I mean the people who give us money to keep the lights and phones on, and, you know, stuff like that.
    ME: Well, who are they?
    HIM: Like, ah, the Koch brothers.
    ME: The Koch brothers, you’re not kidding me, you’re telling me this?
    HIM: UM just a, wait, OH, ahh (hand over phone) um I said Coca-Cola. We’re sponsored by Coca-Cola.
    ME: My time is so limited, can’t talk now. (Click.)

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  73. Joe K said on October 31, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    So what is the problem? Those seem to be some legitiment questions.
    The same questions you would be asking if the tables were turned. No?
    If Obama loses, how long till Sandy gets the blame?
    Pilot Joe

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  74. Bitter Scribe said on October 31, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    PJ, you can’t be serious. I would never be that puerile.

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  75. Catherine said on October 31, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    There’s been some research on the effects of natural disasters on elections and it’s not good news for Obama. Sorry to keep plugging my local NPR station but they did an interesting piece on it yesterday:

    The results aren’t consistent and Nate Silver linked to this which has more studies: http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2012/10/28/how-hurricane-sandy-could-matter-on-election-day/#comments

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  76. Prospero said on October 31, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Sorry Joe, if RMoney gets elected it will chiefly be because of some mean streak of I-got-mine misanthropy in America that Willy Windsock dialed into quite naturally. Call it the opposite of Christian values.

    John Kass is a classic internet tough guy that likes writing about “the Outfit” in Chicago as if he has some personal experience of the mob and mobsters. Utter phony, in the Mike Barnacle school of ersatz column writing, including repeating his golden oldies without acknowledgement.

    Mary@72: We want your opinion on the direction America is going in. Call me pedantic or call me snobbish, but if someone said that to me I’d suggest she learn to speak English and give a blast of the slide whistle I keep with my phone when I’m home.

    The Bush family is undoubtedly gearing up for the charter school running industry, using neer-do-well Marvin’s failed reading curriculum as a foundation, the way Jeb is going to tout his goober-norship of FLA when hurricanes happened for his disaster management bidness. Fracking vultures. Remember the first great leap for GOPer privitizaton-o-rama was the Charles “Walk Over My Granny for Milhous” Colson Prison Ministries.

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  77. Sherri said on October 31, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    More Republicans who don’t get “the rape thing”: John Koster, the local Tea Party candidate (the one I mentioned who keeps calling me for donations) referred to being opposed to abortions on “the rape thing.”


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  78. Bitter Scribe said on October 31, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    “But on the rape thing, it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s a consequence of this crime, how does that make it better? You know what I mean?”


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  79. Rana said on October 31, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    @78 Bitter Scribe – and, of course, there are those pesky little things called “consent” and “control over one’s own body.” You know, the things that rape is about taking away? And ditto for forced birth?

    On the political ads front, here’s my own latest bit of stupidity. My having moved and belonging to a different party has apparently not kept the Democratic Party in Indiana from being hopeful about getting my vote, as they keep sending me oversized postcards touting some fellow or other. Today’s latest was a slam against one of their opponents for wasting people’s money, and I thought, oh, really, You Who Keeps Sending Mailers To Someone in Another State. You’re fine ones to talk, you are.

    I guess that’s the breakdown of the two major parties for me: the Republicans offend and disgust me, while the Democrats annoy and irritate me. Makes voting fun, yahoo.

    (Which I already did this week. Early voting and a flu shot, go me.)

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  80. Deborah said on October 31, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Did I miss something? Did someone already comment about this? Nancy on Hank’s blog http://www.hankstuever.com/blog/?p=3468

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  81. beb said on October 31, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    In fairness, the Republican blindness to their comments about rape is because they’re totally focused on the issue of abortion and not how a woman got pregnant. Men like Akin and Mourdock and Ryan are opposed to abortion in any form or for any reason. If they are not in favor of abortions for the health of the mother or because the fetus is damaged they are sure not going to be in favor of abortions for rape. And when one is opposed to abortion for any reasons then it becomes indistinguishable whether a pregnancy comes from rape or consensual sex.
    Most of us on NN.C see this as an issue of how a woman got pregnant so we see their attitude as callousness but they’re just blinded by their obsession with abortion.

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  82. Connie said on October 31, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Thanks Deborah, lovely article about our hostess.

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  83. alex said on October 31, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    If Obama loses, how long till Sandy gets the blame?

    Doubt that’ll happen Joe. The obvious culprits are Fox News and the Romney campaign’s objectively false claims being advanced by the very same. Hope you’re enjoying your fantasy games in the Republican echo chamber while they last.

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  84. brian stouder said on October 31, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Jan – that is a tremendous New Jersey story! And Deborah, thanks for the link to Hank’s essay about our incisive Proprietress.

    And Joe – I think Sandy is just another challenge that the President of the United States was handed, and he will deal with it. It might affect voting in Virginia, but I think one may assume that Sandy is either a wash or a net-plus for the president, given how furiously and obsessively Fox News (et al) is working, to try and make Benghazi and our dead diplomats and security people the story people are thinking about, instead of some stupid storm that killed 80+ people and brought a metro area with 16,000,000 Americans to a dead stop for 72 hours.

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  85. LAMary said on November 1, 2012 at 12:01 am

    I can’t really dislike Chris Christie. I’ve heard him speak non-partisan truths a couple of times and he sort of told the asses on Fox to cram it when they tried to turn his praise of Obama into something about Romney. I said it after his convention speech. He’s a real Jersey guy. That keynote speech he made was more about him than it was about the GOP, Romney or the 2012 election.

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