Monday Mashup Part One (9/20/10)

  • 1) We know that our corporate media is just so in love with those zany teabaggers, though only now (with the victory of Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware U.S. Senate Repug primary) are they truly getting wise to the division between the frothing rank and file with their allegedly humorous signs and funny hats and the corporatist bunch fronted by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, among others, that truly calls the shots, and always will.

    However, as the New York Times reported here yesterday, it turns out that there is at least one pretty serious intra-teabagger division, and that would be between the Tea Party Express and Tea Party Patriots…

    Unlike many of the newly energized outsiders who have embraced Tea Party ideals, (Sal) Russo, 63, is a longtime Republican operative who got his start as an aide to Ronald Reagan and later raised money and managed media strategy for a string of other politicians, including former Gov. George E. Pataki of New York. His history and spending practices have prompted some former employees and other Tea Party activists to question whether he is committed to, or merely exploiting, their cause.

    Mr. Russo’s group, based in California, is now the single biggest independent supporter of Tea Party candidates, raising more than $5.2 million in donations since January 2009, according to federal records. But at least $3 million of that total has since been paid to Mr. Russo’s political consulting firm or to one controlled by his wife, according to federal records.

    While most of that money passed through the firms to cover advertising and other expenses, that kind of self-dealing raises red flags about possible lax oversight and excessive fees for the firms, campaign finance experts said.

    “They are the classic top-down organization run by G.O.P. consultants, and it is the antithesis of what the Tea Party movement is about,” said Mark Meckler, a national spokesman for Tea Party Patriots, a coalition of grass-roots organizations that does not endorse or contribute to candidates.

    As noted here, though…

    The association with GOP causes and candidates disturbs those involved with the Tea Party Patriots who say they are working against the perception that the movement is merely a raucous arm of the GOP.

    “Our biggest problem right now has been that the Republican Party is trying to make us part of them,” said Dawn Wildman of San Diego, the California co-coordinator for Tea Party Patriots. “We’re not all Republicans, and that notion is insulting to even those of us like myself who are Republicans.”

    Hey, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck (or screams to the top of its lungs about “death panels” like a duck)…

    And I got a bit of a kick out of this from yesterday’s Times story…

    Mr. Russo estimated that Russo & Marsh, and his wife’s company, King Media Group, had been paid about $250,000 a year for their work with the Tea Party cause.

    An analysis of Federal Election Commission records by The Times puts the total amount paid — for commissions, services and wages to executives and staff members — at nearly $700,000 in the last 20 months, or about 13 percent of the $5.2 million the committee has spent. (By comparison, media buyers for candidates’ campaigns typically take a 6 percent to 15 percent commission, according to one consultant.)

    But the campaign finance records for the Tea Party Express also showed payments totaling more than $10,000 for stays at casino hotels, as well as bills for meals at expensive restaurants near Mr. Russo’s offices, including nearly $5,000 at Chops Steak House, which former staff members said the Tea Party Express frequented after work.

    “I was kind of shocked,” said Kelly Eustis, who served as political director at the Tea Party Express until leaving last fall. “It kind of turned me off.”

    Mr. Russo disputes that there was any lavish spending. “There have been a lot of cheap shots taken,” he said. “This has not been a profitable activity for us. We have plowed every penny back into this thing.”

    Uh huh, sure (and keep telling me how those teabaggers are totally an organic creation without corporate support…yeah, that’s a good one).

  • 2) Next, I give you the following from The Weakly Standard (here)…

    The Florida Democratic Party sent out a mailer last week detailing Republican congressional challenger Allen West’s 2005 tax lien and court orders to pay delinquent credit card bills. West is challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein.

    The mailer includes a reproduction of the $11,081 tax lien filed against West in Marion County, Indiana, and paid off four months later. The document, pulled from public records, includes a column titled “Identifying Number” that shows West’s nine-digit Social Security number. Although the number isn’t specifically identified as a Social Security number, West campaign manager Josh Grodin said there is no mistaking what the number is.

    I will grant you that this probably wasn’t the most astute move by the Klein campaign, particularly since the lien against West was paid off a few months later. But before we start to drown in GOP crocodile tears over the publishing of sensitive information, let’s consider the following from 2008, shall we (from here, specifically concerning Ohio)…

    1) A Republican sheriff in Greene County, Ohio, has demanded social security and other records from 302 local voters whose ballots he apparently wants to negate. Sheriff Gene Fischer has requested registration cards and address forms for all Greene County residents who voted in a special session established in Ohio allowing new voters to register and vote on the same day. The process was challenged in court by the GOP. The Ohio Supreme Court turned down that challenge, and allowed the same-day voting to proceed. But now Fischer claims telephone calls complaining about the potential for voter fraud have prompted him to go after the information.

    It is widely assumed that the same-day registration/voting option was exercised primarily by students who lean heavily Democratic. In 2004, African-American students from Wright State, Central State and Wilberforce were regularly challenged on their registration credentials and forced to endure waiting in lines to vote for hours. Students at Cedarville, a Christian school, made no such reports. Sheriff Fischer’s targeting of historically black college students, the core of Obama-mania, is intended to send a chilling effect through the ranks of these Democratic voters.

    2) U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith, a Reagan appointee, has approved a GOP lawsuit demanding that the state give county boards of elections great leeway in attacking new voter registration forms. The decision, framed under the Help America Vote Act, would allow Republican challengers access to data from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security agency to challenge new voters. The Judge noted that Ohio law permits challenges to absentee ballots, thousands of which have been pouring in to elections boards. If allowed to stand, it could give the GOP the right to shred ballots already cast in the Buckeye State, with the precedent possibly being used to further enable a GOP nationwide disenfranchisement campaign. Smith gave Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner a week to respond. Brunner has stated she will appeal.

    4) The New York Times has reported that boards of elections in at least nine crucial states, including Ohio, have violated federal law in conducting purges and have been illegally using Social Security data bases as part of those purges.

    And besides, I’d rather have a candidate I support commit a boneheaded mistake like this than threaten his opponent to “make him scared to come out of his house” (third item here).

  • 3) Finally, the formerly-Moonie times is here to tell us about the next phony “war” (as opposed to the real on in Afghanistan and the unofficial one in Iraq, where combat operations have officially “ended” – here), and that would be over our household appliances (I wish I were making this up)…

    Modern technology has delivered a solution to this pesky problem of consumers not doing as they’re told (supposedly in In last year’s $814 billion stimulus package, President Obama poured 3.4 billion tax dollars into subsidies for “smart grid” projects designed to centralize control over major appliances that use electricity. The program, of course, is marketed as an advance that will deliver new options and savings to the consumer. The two-way communication underlying the concept, however, eventually will make it possible for big-ticket electrical items to be controlled remotely. In 1977, then-President Jimmy Carter called on every American “to lower the thermostat settings in all homes and buildings to no more than 65 degrees during the daytime and to a much lower setting at night.” Now the smart grid enables Big Brother to turn it down for you.

    I can see it now – the ultimate revenge of Rosie The Robot on “The Jetsons,” who I suppose finally got tired of picking up George’s slippers and cleaning out Astro’s dog food bowl and made a deal with Spacely Sprockets to take over the household….BWAHAHAHHAHA!!! (Cue diabolical laughter).

    Meanwhile, in the world of reality, this tells us more about a “smart” grid…

    The function of an Electrical grid is not a single entity but an aggregate of multiple networks and multiple power generation companies with multiple operators employing varying levels of communication and coordination, most of which is manually controlled. Smart grids increase the connectivity, automation and coordination between these suppliers, consumers and networks that perform either long distance transmission or local distribution tasks.

    • Transmission networks move electricity in bulk over medium to long distances, are actively managed, and generally operate from 345kV to 800kV over AC and DC lines.
    • Local networks traditionally moved power in one direction, “distributing” the bulk power to consumers and businesses via lines operating at 132kV and lower.

    This paradigm is changing as businesses and homes begin generating more wind and solar electricity, enabling them to sell surplus energy back to their utilities.

    Wow, what a concept – actually being able to sell power back to Exelon or whomever.

    Also (from here)…

    Early results suggest that residential consumers will change their consumption patterns in response to real-time feedback on electricity usage. Real-time, or “direct,” feedback is typically provided by an in-home display that communicates with a consumer’s smart meter as part of a larger advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). In a 2009 survey of North American pilot projects, Ahmad Faruqui of the Brattle Group found that consumers reduced their usage from 3% to 18% in response to direct feedback from an in-home display. Another recent report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found that real-time usage feedback resulted in average energy savings of 9% across surveyed programs. As utilities proceed with scheduled AMI deployments, additional consumers will have the opportunity to participate in demand response programs through the use of in-home displays.

    But I’m sure we’ll receive more warnings from wingnut media that we can’t possibly proceed with something like this. After all, Iman Rauf may be secretly trying to make sure all of our solar panels will be pointed towards Mecca, and Osama bin Laden (remember him?) may be trying turn our Kitchen-Aid mixers into nuclear warheads while the kids are sleeping and we’re “upstairs with the wife.”

    (And the really sad part is that there’s probably somebody out there who thinks I’m serious.)

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