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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 15,279

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A Proposal to Prevent Election Theft

This is something that we collectively can accomplish, starting now, to ensure that the results of 2012 Presidential election are consistent with the expressed will of the voters who participate in this critical election. There is a way for us to expose any willful systematic effort to manipulate the tallying of the actual votes cast by the American people for our next President, for illegal partisan ends. We can do this nationwide at very little actual cost. We can do it with complete transparency using data available as public record with methods that can be replicated and independently verified by any organization, public or private, concerned about the validity of our findings. With a large, multi-talented, and widely dispersed national membership, the Democratic Underground can take the lead in protecting a fair 2012 Presidential election. Here is what I propose, it has several basic elements.

We require a database that includes every election precinct in the nation. That database should include the means being used by each precinct to record and tally the votes cast within that precinct. That needs to be as specific as possible. Where voting machines are used the manufacturer of the machines being used should be recorded. Those who are given the legal responsibility to service those machines, and to physically secure them, should also be recorded. How the precinct vote tallies of votes that were cast at the precinct level gets transferred for central tallying should be recorded as well. All of this is public record. So, of course, are the precinct level vote totals themselves as they are initially recorded. As they get announced we need to enter those precinct records into our database. And it is also public record which political party in every precinct controls the government oversight of elections function. That too needs to be recorded into the database.

How votes are recorded in America varies from locality to locality, from State to State certainly, but often the technology used is mixed within States as well. This provides acute observers with an ideal opportunity to detect statistical anomalies among voter returns as they become public. Lots of raw data is available for “crunching”. Not just the voting results, but also the percentage of “spoiled ballots” and of “over votes” etc. In a fair election, the percentage of “problem votes” should be tiny and there should be no pattern of deviation between precincts using the same methodologies.

When and where recounts are conducted, deviations from original announced results should evidence no partisan distortion, in other words mistakes tallying Republican and Democratic votes should happen in both directions at a frequency consistent with the proportion of votes each side initially received. That should hold true between precincts, counties, and even states, just as much as it holds true within individual precincts.

If we compile a thorough enough database, not only can we cast a light on the integrity of the voting process in an individual precinct, county, or State, but we can do so nationwide. It becomes statistically noteworthy, for example, how vote tallies obtained through one voting technology in one area of the nation compare with those recorded in a different area using either the same technology or a different one. Either way comparisons can be insightful, or even potentially explosive if systematic vote manipulation actually is attempted, be that in a handful of precincts in a key swing state, or nationwide through manipulation of the software used in voting machine from certain vendors.

The amount of raw data available to statisticians to work with in America today is staggering, with so much of it readily accessible by computers. For example, a socio-economic region like Appalachia crosses county and state lines. This is well documented in census records and the like. So a cross check that shows counties with very similar socio-economic demographics, very similar party identification rates in registered voters rolls, and virtually identical media markets, registering starkly differing voter preferences in tallied votes in a clear partisan pattern that collates tightly with a difference in the manufacturer of the e-voting machines used, could be eye opening.

Even a pattern of divergences from exit polls, or even from predictive polls, can prove meaningful if that divergence manifests unevenly based on variables (such as voting technology) that should be value neutral.

If our goal is primarily to PREVENT election theft, and only secondarily to expose it after the fact should it occur, then this effort needs to be high profile IN ADVANCE of the actual election. In other words anyone who might consider screwing around with the vote count needs to be put on notice NOW that we will have the capacity to expose them if they attempt anything on a scale likely to effect the outcome of the Presidential election. That would require some help beyond the Democratic Underground in getting the word out – media allies like some hosts on MSNBC and organizations like Organized Labor and national advocacy groups like Move On cooperating in getting advance word out on this.

DU Members having skills that I personally lack would need to design a comprehensive but straight forward database for compiling the information we would need to record. All of us would need to do our homework gathering the info needed both before and after the vote Data analysis is a world in itself but collectively I know DU and our allies have the skill set to document any patterns that may emerge from voting results that would point to election theft occurring.

Yes this would be an ambitious undertaking, but not one beyond our collective means. And the stakes could not be higher.

The one change I think Obama should make from last night.

Seriously, it's just a single word. Obama should retire the use of the word "mess" from his description of the economy he inherited from Bush. That word should replaced by "disaster" or another word closer to that magnitude. A "mess" is something that happens on a personal scale that can be tidied up with a little effort. A disaster is what befell New Orleans due after hurricane Katrina. At the very least, eight years of Republican rule brought this nation and the world to the brink of an economic catastrophe. President Obama does himself a disservice to describe what he was asked to deal with from day one as simply "a mess".

That's it, my entire inventory of armchair quarterbacking critiques of the Presidents performance in the second debate . Obama was brilliant. Simply put, he showed why America why we were right to choose him to be President of the United States in the first place.

Romney is a one trick elephant. His whole case comes down to his assertion that a second Obama term means America settling for another four years like the last four. That is of course blatantly absurd. The degree of economic growth America has experienced during Obama's first term in office is a direct consequence of the Republican calamity Obama inherited when he stepped into the Oval Office. It's hard to reach the surface after you fall down a mine shaft. Even Mitt Romney, as craven as he is, doesn't predict for this country another four years like the last four. Obama's first term in office began during a global economic panic, a total meltdown of the world's financial systems,

The Republicans did far more than leave you with a mess to clean up, Mr. President. They almost plunged the world into another Great Depression. It is remarkable that you pulled us all the way back from that AND ended the war in Iraq AND hunted down the terrorists who attacked America AND put us on a glide path out of Afghanistan AND overhauled health care in America AND re-invested in America's technological future and so much else, virtually simultaneously. It was more than a mess that you inherited from Republican misrule. It was a package of epic challenges that only confront most nations two or three times a century. Call it like it was.

I think Americans will be reminded tonight that they really don't like Romney all that much

At the last debate a lot of voters woke up to see an actual human being on stage there debating Obama, rather than the cartoon villain version of Romney lodged in a lot of voters minds. The real Romney was able to speak in full paragraphs without sounding like he was on drugs (well, maybe speed but not hallucinogenics). People realized Romney actually had a case he could make for himself, and that he could do so forcefully. Obama kind of seemed a bit listless by comparison, and so it all went.

A lot of post debate discussion focused on the theme of two Romneys, the severely conservative one who had been campaigning for President over the last year and the newly reinvented so-called Moderate Mitt who showed up to debate Obama that night. Yes there were those two Romneys, but the true odd couple really was flesh and blood Mitt vs cartoon caricature Mitt , and flesh and blood Romney wildly surpassed his cartoon version. That was the gut take away for most people about Romney, not whether they actually liked him or could warm up to having Romney address our nation as President for four full years.

Now that Mitt Romney is seen as having a plausible chance of actually winning the election voters will, once again, see him differently tonight. They will ponder Romney being President, and that thought will not seem all that appealing. To turn an old conventional wisdom on its head, I think what President Obama has to do tonight, when all is said and done, is give people a good enough reason to vote against the flesh and blood Mitt Romney.

On edit let me add: I am not trying to imply that Obama just has to come across as a nice guy tonight, compared to Romney, in order to win. Obama has to display strength, he needs to show confidence, he needs to defend his record and attack Romney; all of the standard stuff. Clearly Obama has to hold his own, but if he does so he will win, because most Americans are innately comfortable with Barack Obama and not at all so with Mitt Romney.

Not what a real Recovery looks like!?!

It was one mean mother fracking recession that the last Republican administration left us with, not at all like the 11 more or less garden variety previous recessions that the United States experienced since the end of World War II. If you are old enough to vote you are old enough to remember at least one or two prior to the Great one that we are now slowly recovering from. Do you recall hearing the term “Global Panic” applied to any of those? Nope, use of that phase was previously reserved for descriptions of the Great Depression. When something that bad happens it takes a LONG time to dig out from under it. The Great Depression officially lasted over 3 ½ years, from August 1929 to March 1933 and the economy was so fragile coming out of it that we reentered a deep Recession in 1937 which required another year for us get out from under. It took U.S. involvement in World War II before Americans got to see anything that looked “like a real recovery.”

No one likes remembering their fear. Maybe that’s why Mitt Romney can’t seem to hold onto a picture of what the world plunged into in September of 2008. Perhaps excerpts from this piece, first published by Fortune in December 2008, might serve to remind him:

“(Fortune) -- The world changed forever on Sept. 15, 2008, the Monday Meltdown, a day that will live in the annals of finance alongside Black Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1929. We are still odds-on to avoid a depression like the one that followed Oct. 29, but the Monday Meltdown made one more likely, and has claimed trillions of dollars of wealth worldwide and triggered a global recession. Understanding the financial shock that occurred that day is vital to finding a way out of our current mess…” http://money.cnn.com/2008/12/15/news/economy/monday.meltdown.fortune/index.htm

Three months after that epic crash and sentences like “We are still odds-on to avoid a depression like the one that followed Oct. 29, but the Monday Meltdown made one more likely…” were still being made. One month before Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States, the possibility that the world might yet slide into another Great Depression was still being discussed as entirely plausible. Unemployment rates hit 26.7% in the U.S. during the 1930’s Great Depression (when women weren’t really considered as part of the permanent work force).

The author of that Fortune piece, Jeffrey D. Sachs, also wrote: “The Monday Meltdown turned a boom-and-bust cycle centered mainly in the U.S. and U.K. into a global financial panic.” Those are precisely the type of fear inducing words, “meltdown” and “global financial panic”, that Mitt Romney seems to have purged from his political memory banks. That is what Barack Obama was facing when he took the oath of office to become President of the United States in January of 2009.

Sachs concluded with this:

“Only the work of historians will tell us whether the Fed, White House, and Treasury might have saved the day through a softer landing for Lehman Brothers. The answer would seem to be yes--if the authorities had used the preceding months to put an emergency-response plan in place."

"Starting next month, President Obama must work to assuage panic, give a sense of direction, cooperate effectively with the rest of the world, and ensure the liquidity and fiscal stimulus to get the global economy out of the Critical Care Unit and onto a path of recovery.”

Obama did all that, though you wouldn’t know it from the credit he hasn’t gotten. Instead Mitt Romney has the gall to say “This is not what a real recovery looks like.” Under the Obama Administration the U.S. economy has now netted a small overall job gain, despite the fact that job losses were hemorrhaging at 800,000 per month when he first stepped into over the Oval Office, and despite substantial job cuts in the public sector. Under 8 years of President George W. Bush our economy barely added a million jobs, total. Since the U.S. economy bottomed out in February 2910 over 4 million new jobs have been created to date under President Obama.

You could argue that President Bush’s job creation numbers looked a lot better too before the Recession hit, and that’s true, but the Great Recession happened on Bush’s watch, not Obama’s. During President Obama’s first term in office private sector jobs have cumulatively grown on average .10% annually despite his having inherited the worst economic downturn since the 1930’s. Now compare that to George W. Bush’s second term when they grew at just .06%, or better yet compare that to Bush’s first term when private sector jobs actually shrank at a minus .21% rate (those job losses fortunately were offset by job gains in the public sector): http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/15/business/low-jobs-numbers-for-obama-but-lower-for-his-predecessor.html?_r=1

President Obama turned the American economy around and, unlike under Bush, the private sector has grown, not retracted, during his first term in office. Unlike the United Kingdom, the United States avoided falling back into a double dip recession, even though the eurozone contracted again during the second quarter of 2012. Now look at these additional markers:

In July U.S. home prices rebounded to levels they were last at nine years ago: http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/25/real_estate/home-prices/index.html

In September the U.S. unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since Barack Obama took office: http://economywatch.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/05/14240541-unemployment-rate-falls-to-78-as-economy-creates-114000-jobs?lite
In October the Dow Jones Index hit its 5 year high: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2012/10/05/sept-jobs-markets/1613559/

In October U.S. indebtedness shrunk to a six-year low relative to the size of the economy: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-09/u-s-downgrade-seen-as-upgrade-as-u-s-debt-dissolved.html

Some might note that Barack Obama isn’t running for re-election against George W.Bush, he’s running against Mitt Romney. True, but Mitt Romney is running on the exact same standard Republican playbook; more tax cuts and deregulation. You remember deregulation, don’t you? If not let’s return to 2008 again, when top economists like Jeffrey D. Sachs were explaining how we got ourselves into such a mess in the first place:

“Deregulation abetted the massive over-extension of credit by enabling Wall Street to expand trillions of dollars of lending and tens of trillions of dollars of derivatives trading on a base of households with shaky creditworthiness. The seeds of trouble were sown.”

All of the above may be true, but why should any of that excuse President Obama’s failed promises? After all Barack Obama promised back in 2009 that the unemployment rate would drop below 6% by 2012. Yes he did say that then, and yes our recovery is slower than the President initially forecast. But it turns out that the recession itself was far worse than experts were characterizing it as when Obama actually made his recovery projections. That fact was revealed in revised figures documenting the actual GDP loss during the recession that were retroactively released by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis:

“The overall pattern of quarterly changes during the downturn was similar in both the revised and previously published estimates, though the revised estimates show larger decreases for 2008:Q4 (-8.9 percent compared with -6.8 percent) and for 2009:Q1 (-6.7 percent compared with -4.9 percent).”
http://www.bea.gov/faq/index.cfm?faq_id=1004

In other words, bad as we all knew the economy was back when Obama made that original forecast, none of us actually knew how bad it really was. That was one mean mother fracking recession that the last Republican administration left us with. I would like to see how Mitt Romney would manage a global crisis like that any better. Then again, maybe not.

I thank Joe Biden for Repeatedly Pointing Tihis Out

Only 3% of small businesses report over $250,000 in earnings. I love that he said it, I love that he stressed it. And I live that he pointed out that Hedge Funds can qualify as "small businesses" due to accounting procedures. Republicans love to talk about how this or that "hurts small businesses" even though those same measures help middle class Americans. At least 97% of the time, small business and middle class describe the exact same people When Democrats defend the interests of middle class Americans, we defend the interests of small business owners, period. Republicans love to fudge that equation over a tiny percentage of people who qualify as small business owners who may have taxes go up (on their income OVER $250,000 only). Biden did not let them get away with it this time. We need more of that from leading Democrats.

Joe was Genuine

That's the real take away form last night. Biden broke through as a real person who personally cares deeply about the ramifications of the issues that were debated. No one can remember a full 90 minutes of discussion, instead we take away impressions. Any heated debate will cycle viewers through several competing impressions, but ultimately one ends up dominant.

Joe Biden is real, he is passionate, he cares deeply about the middle class and public service, Those are indelible takeaways. And for someone who in the past has been accused of using an excess of words, Joe Biden was as clear as Arizona mountain air when it really counted, and as blunt as a New York City cabbie. "We will leave Afghanistan in 2014", "We will not allow Social Security to be privatized", "Medicare will not become a voucher program on our watch" (yes these are paraphrases but Biden's actual words were equally clear).

When Joe Biden looked into the camera and made those pledges to the American people, viewers knew he meant it. He is a leader Americans know they can trust to level with them, who will to his damnedest to keep his work. Ultimately that was the difference last night, when all else is said and done. Joe Biden is genuine and this year's Republican ticket pales in direct comparison to him on that fundamental character issue. For that reason alone, Joe soundly won last night's Vice Presidential debate

What Romney Does Not Want Discussed (He would rather the media keep covering last weeks debate)

Home prices rebound
By Chris Isidore @CNNMoney September 25, 2012: 10:11 AM ET
http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/25/real_estate/home-prices/index.html

"In another sign of a turnaround in the long-battered real estate market, average home prices rebounded in July to the same level as they were nine years ago..."

"The news on home prices in this report confirm recent good news about housing," said David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "Single-family housing starts are well ahead of last year's pace, existing home sales are up, the inventory of homes for sale is down and foreclosure activity is slowing."


Dow Jones index closes at new 5-year high
Adam Shell, USA TODAY
5:08PM EST October 5. 2012
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2012/10/05/sept-jobs-markets/1613559/

..."The fact that the market is hitting fresh five-year highs will remind people how incredibly well the market has done and that the equity culture is not dead," says Tim Fidler, portfolio manager at Ariel Investments. "It will most definitely catch the attention of people who have been pulling money out of the market."


Consumer Confidence Index:
http://www.conference-board.org/data/consumerconfidence.cfm

Says Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board: “The Consumer Confidence Index rebounded in September and is back to levels seen earlier this year (71.6 in February 2012). Consumers were more positive in their assessment of current conditions, in particular the job market, and considerably more optimistic about the short-term outlook for business conditions, employment and their financial situation. Despite continuing economic uncertainty, consumers are slightly more optimistic than they have been in several months...”

"Consumers were also more optimistic about the short-term outlook in September. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 18.2 percent from 16.7 percent, while those anticipating business conditions to worsen decreased to 13.8 percent from 17.6 percent. Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more favorable. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased to 18.5 percent from 15.8 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined to 18.5 percent from 23.7 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes edged up to 16.3 percent from 16.0 percent."


Wrong Track/ Right Track Poll Movement:
National Polls: Race Tightens Among Likely Voters, Obama Approval On Economy Ticks Up
TPM Kyle Leighton October 1, 2012, 11:50 AM 21769
http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/10/polls-presidential-race-tightens-obama-economy.php

New numbers from ABC News and the Washington Post showed Obama with a 49 percent to 47 percent lead over Republican nominee Mitt Romney among likely voters, and another poll from Politico and George Washington University (GWU) produced the same result. While those numbers suggest the state of the race is relatively unchanged, the view of the economy — the election’s most important issue — has seen a slow but steady movement over the last year.

“Ratings of the economy, while very negative, have grown less intensely so since late August (39 percent say it’s in poor shape, down from 45 percent),” ABC pollster Gary Langer wrote in his analysis. “Obama’s 47 percent approval rating for handling the economy, while still underwater, is numerically its highest in more than two years. And views that the nation is headed seriously off on the wrong track have eased by 9 percentage points to the fewest since January".

AND OF COURSE, THIS:

Unemployment rate falls to 7.8% as economy creates 114,000 jobs
By NBC News staff and wire reports
http://economywatch.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/05/14240541-unemployment-rate-falls-to-78-as-economy-creates-114000-jobs?lite

UPDATED 9:50 a.m. EDT: The nation's unemployment rate dropped to the lowest it has been in almost four years in September, giving President Barack Obama a potential upbeat talking point as the presidential race heads into the final innings.

The Labor Department reported Friday that the unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September, a decline of 0.3 percentage point and the lowest since January 2009. The government said the economy created 114,000 jobs, about as expected, and generated 86,000 more jobs in July and August than first estimated.

A survey of households from which the jobless rate is derived showed 873,000 job gains last month, the most since June 1983. The drop in unemployment came even as Americans come back into the labor force to resume the hunt for work. The workforce had shrunk in the prior two months. The household survey is volatile, however."

G.O.P. Govs laid off thousands, Repub House killed jobs bills, Big Corporations sat on huge profits

And the unemployment rate still just dropped below 8%, down a full half percentage point this Summer/Fall to 7.8%. Republicans and Romney's Wall Street backers tried every trick in the book to delay an American economic recovery until AFTER the Presidential election, and despite those efforts they are failing. Republicans systematically slashed government spending on good paying middle class jobs, resisting every effort to fund them, pushing more tax cuts instead that in turn mandated further layoffs. Republicans wanted workers out of work. It was their ticket for retaking the Presidency. And Wall Street firms were content to sit tight on often record profits rather than invest in American when credit for an economic recovery might reflect well on an Obama Administration they were invested in defeating.

Republicans are one short tear in tissue paper away from being fully exposed as obstructionists who placed their own return to power ahead of Americans returning to work, as their political priority. Their recent consternation over the latest reports of an improving job market just might be what it takes for most voters to completely see through their false concern over American workers' well being.

The Right could have been more circumspect. They could have mouthed nice platitudes about how good it is for Americans to hopefully finally see some light at the end of a dire economic tunnel. Perhaps they may have retained a semblance of credibility had they done so. They still could have claimed that it was too little too late, and that too many needlessly suffered for too long because of Obama's allegedly failed policies, but they are happy for those who are finally returning to the work force. But Republicans just didn't have it in them to acknowledge anything positive.

Instead they began flirting with a new round of conspiracy theories about "cooked numbers". In doing so they ignored rule one of conspiracy theories; they have to be pitched to an audience predisposed toward believing them. That audience however is not now the American electorate. Americans are sensing the economic recovery happening now. It's reflected in a house market that is beginning to firm up. It's reflected in a dramatic shift in the right track/wrong track course of our nation numbers that are starting to shift toward hope again. And it is reflected in the rapidly rising Consumer Confidence Index, which even Wall Street insiders understand is a clear signal to start hiring again. Republicans are out of step with America on the jobs numbers, and it isn't pretty. It's certainly not a good way to win votes and influence people.

There still is an audience predisposed to believe the anti-Obama conspiracy theories that are constantly "cooked up", no matter how much they fly in the face of reality. It is the hard core Republican base. Republicans have danced to Tea Party tunes for over three years now, and their feet just don't know anything different anymore. Bowing to the Right has become second nature to Republicans running for office. In doing so they have turned their back on the rest of America.

DU Needs to Pivot Off the Debates onto the Economy now.

Web sites like Democratic Underground have long stopped being partisan club houses and pep rallies. We play a real role in shaping the weeks political news narrative. The themes that we settle on to dominate discussion get taken note of beyond DU. The drop in the unemployment rate to 7.8% on Friday is our chance to turn the page on debate one, and undercut Romney on his core campaign strategy - damning the President on jobs.The jobs number is great for our side, and it is something the public gets immediately. It's time for increasing job growth to push debate number one out of the headlines.

I am not among those who think it was a mistake for the Left to criticize Obama's debate performance on Thursday. There are still three more national debates ahead of us and I think it helped the Obama team refocus on how to approach those to have gotten some stark unvarnished feedback from their own side on the last one. And DU also did what it always does best ; we trail blazed new attack lines against our opposition in our commentary about Romney's own debate performance. All in all I think we did well.

Now though it is time to move on. The Romney campaign would like nothing more than to gloss right over the jobs report and to keep replaying last Thursday night's debate instead. The President will castigate Romney in real time now, calling Romney on his lies is woven into Obama's stump speech. Our job now is to strengthen the narrative that America is back on track despite all of Mitt Romney's enthusiastic efforts to verbally derail it.

Romney should be asked this question: Why is the Dow Jones at a 5 year high? Is it because...

1) The economic recovery so far has been a real bonanza for the type of very wealthy Americans who have substantial holdings in the stock market? Or

2) The business community recognizes that the recovery from the Great Repression is on track and about to hit lift off bringing significant gains for all Americans? OR

3) A thriving stock market is an indicator of a bad economy?
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