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The Morning Grumpy – 10/31/12

Filed under: Morning Grumpy

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Last night the subject on PBS’s Frontline was dark money in politics. Essentially, an investigation into how the Citizens United decision changed our politics. If you didn’t see it, I highly recommend you watch it online

Incredibly, much of the material for the Frontline report sourced from a discovery of files in a Montana meth lab. Yes, really.

Found in a meth house in Colorado, they were somewhat of a mystery, holding files on 23 conservative candidates in state races in Montana. They were filled with candidate surveys and mailers that said they were paid for by campaigns, and fliers and bank records from outside spending groups. One folder was labeled “Montana $ Bomb.”

The documents pointed to one outside group pulling the candidates’ strings: a social welfare nonprofit called Western Tradition Partnership, or WTP.

Altogether, the records added up to possible illegal “coordination” between the nonprofit and candidates for office in 2008 and 2010, said a Montana investigator and a former Federal Election Commission chairman who reviewed the material. Outside groups are allowed to spend money on political campaigns, but not to coordinate with candidates.

You can also read ProPublica’s fantastic work on how ideological non-profits illegally spend millions on elections

2. If the 2012 Presidential election is close (especially in Ohio), it’s going to make the rancorous Florida recount of 2000 look like an actual tea party.

You think the hanging chads in Florida were bad in 2000? You think the patch of procedures, appeals, and standards of review was crazy? At least a human being was looking at those ballots. At least some of the rest of us were able to look at that human being looking at those ballots. At least there were ballots to be seen. In 2012, on the other hand, loose technology, lax industry oversight, political indifference, and partisan bigotry mean there is the potential for mischief — and by that I mean democracy-crushing voter fraud — on a scale that would make the high drama and low comedy of November 2000 seem mundane.

How about thousands upon thousands of votes instantly disappearing from the electronic count of one candidate, or being added to the count of another, with no paper trail left behind? How about electronic voting machines whose programs can be breached and hacked — patched for fraud, is the new term — from thousands of miles away? How about new voting technology controlled largely by corporations with strong partisan ties? Not only can it all happen in two weeks, there is a viable case to be made that it’s already happened — in both the decade before and the decade since Bush v. Gore.

Good times ahead.

3. Just something to remember as you watch cable panel shows and the Sunday morning network news programs, the pundits are usually wrong…about everything.

In this paper, we report on the first-ever test of the accuracy of figures who made political predictions. We sampled the predictions of 26 individuals who wrote columns in major newspapers and/or appeared on the three major Sunday television news shows (Face the Nation, Meet the Press, and This Week) over a 16 month period from September 2007 to December 2008. Collectively, we called these pundits and politicians “prognosticators.” We evaluated each of the 472 predictions we recorded, testing it for its accuracy

So, how did they do?

We have discovered that (only) six of the analyzed prognosticators are better than a coin flip.

And then there is Dick Morris, who has never been right about anything, ever.

4. This is disgusting. Romney campaign workers training poll watchers to confuse and misdirect voters.

Documents from a recent Romney poll watcher training obtained by ThinkProgress contain several misleading or untrue claims about the rights of Wisconsin voters. A source passed along the following packet of documents, which was distributed to volunteers at a Romney campaign training in Racine on October 25th. In total, eight such trainings were held across the state in the past two weeks and 17 since late September.

One blatant falsehood occurs on page 5 of the training packet, which informed poll watchers that any “person [who] has been convicted of treason, a felony, or bribery” isn’t eligible to vote. This is not true. Once a Wisconsin voter who has been convicted of a felony completes his or her sentence, that person is once again eligible to vote.

What a horrible candidate.

5. It’s not the 1% vs. the 99%, it’s the 66% vs. the 34%, or so says Richard Florida in a compelling piece for The Atlantic.

America’s stark class divides are a product of its ongoing economic transformation. As the ranks of the working class have shrunk due to the devastating one-two punch of automation and globalization, two other classes have swelled. On the one hand, there is the creative class of scientists and engineers; business professionals and knowledge workers; artists, entertainers, media workers and cultural creatives. Numbering more than 40 million, they account for almost a third of the American workforce. With average annual earnings of more than $70,000, they collect almost half of all U.S. wages and salaries and control some 70 percent of the nation’s discretionary income.

But in parallel, another much larger class has arisen. More than 60 million Americans belong to the service class. These are some of America’s fastest-growing job categories, such as food preparation, personal care, and retail sales, but on average they earn just over $30,000 in annual wages, and many quite a bit less than that.

We need to expand job training and community college professional development offerings to a wider group of people. The idea is called the creative compact and it’s very interesting, read about it here.

Fact Of The Day: 15 people in the U.S. die each year by drowning in a bucket. I assume they’re all from Sloan.

Quote Of The Day: “You without me is like Harold Melvin without the Blue Notes, you’ll never go platinum” – Snoop

Springsteen Of The Day: “Atlantic City” – Live in NYC 2001

Song Of The Day: “Trouble No More” – Allman Brothers

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

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Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com


  • Brian Buckley

    To your Point #2, I’ve been saying for as long as voting machines have been around, no one who votes should do so if there is no piece of paper.  We should NEVER trust a voting system that solely relies on a digital vote.  I’m all for technological innovation, but to vote without a paper trail is a great way to have your vote never count.  Hackers are ALWAYS ahead of the people who try to stop them.

  • clay_blasdel

    Re: #3.   We have fact-checked the 26 Sunday prognosticators and found that only 6 of them are better than 50-50.  If true, that’s a national headline story. So where’s this big study hiding  and   when is the big reveal?   Don’t prognosticate  about stuff you can’t deliver.  It destroys credibility.  You become the same thing you are criticizing.

    •  Did you click the link to read the study? What am I prognosticating about?