Kind of looks that way. In an analysis at the New York Times, polls are shown to skew Republican.
... The reasons to think that today’s polls underestimate Democrats are not based on just the last few years of results. They are also based on a fairly diverse set of methodological arguments, supported by extensive research, suggesting that many of today’s polls struggle to reach Democratic-leaning groups.
Supporters of Senator Harry Reid of Nevada shortly before the 2010 election, which he won by six points despite a series of polls showing him behind. Nevada is a particularly difficult place for pollsters. Credit Isaac Brekken for The New York Times
“The problems that we’re having with getting representative samples tend to lead us toward people who tend not to be Democrats,” said Scott Keeter, the director of survey research at the Pew Research Center. The most highly regarded pollsters, like those at Pew, have made many adjustments to compensate. But other polls, including many of those informing polling averages and Senate forecasting models, are not nearly as high in quality. Another highly regarded pollster, who requested anonymity, put it more bluntly, calling the new challenges “scary.” Many pollsters are reluctant to say things on the record that might undermine confidence in their own polling; others are unwilling to say anything at all, even to offer basic methodological information. ...NYT
I admit I slam down the phone when the caller mentions the word "poll."
Not a whole helluva lot, if you believe the reports at Daily Intel.
Here's a weird fact about America in 2014: While many people aren't following the midterm elections because they seem too long and dull, a sizable portion of the electorate is willing to read a seven-book series to find out who'll wind up on the Iron Throne of Westeros. ...DailyIntel
The top three sources of dark money are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Crossroads GPS and the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, which together have spent tens of millions supporting Republicans and attacking Democrats. ...AlJazeera
The remedy, of course, must come from Congress.
Novak [Viveca Novak of OpenSecrets] said there is not much hope for a constitutional amendment tackling unrestrained campaign financing that flopped around the Senate Judiciary Committee in January. One of the biggest proponents of looser regulations is Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who could soon become majority leader. Of the $10 million in dark money spent in his race, 82 percent was to oppose Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic challenger. ...AlJazeera
If we need just one good reason to put McConnell under the sod on Tuesday, that should be sufficient.
With just one week to go until the midterm elections, a new poll indicates that billionaires are likely to retain control of the United States government.
The poll, conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, shows that the proxy candidates of billionaires are likely to win ninety-eight per cent of next Tuesday’s races, with the remaining two per cent leaning billionaire.
Although the poll indicates that some races are still “too close to call,” the fact that billionaires funded candidates on both sides puts the races safely in their column. ...Borowitz,NewYorker
So what else is new? Nothing. We only have to turn to the late 18th century for a prediction.
Calling the billionaires’ upcoming electoral romp “historic,” Logsdon said, “We have not seen the super-rich maintain such a vise-like grip on the government since the days immediately preceding the French Revolution.” ...Borowitz,NewYorker
It's a not-so-subtle change from a life in which you "knew pretty much everyone" in your town council. A friendly warning at a stop sign is no longer a friendly warning. The feds are on patrol. They already know the color of your underpants and may be expected to comment on the artistry of your tats.
The FBI has invested considerable energy in recent months in marketing a massive new biometric database to local cops, whom the agency will rely on to help feed it billions of fingerprints, palm prints, mug shots, iris scans and images of scars, tattoos and other identifiers. ...
... It took senior FBI consultant Peter Fagan just nine words this week to capture the ambitious scope of the agency’s aims with the new system, which is gradually replacing traditional fingerprint identification with facial recognition and other biometric identifier technology.
“What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas anymore,” Fagan told a roomful of police executives at the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Orlando on Tuesday.
He said that reaching the FBI’s goal of better tracking criminal suspects from town to town depends on local cops’ ability to adopt increasingly sophisticated new technologies and to share their data with federal law enforcement. He urged police to begin to “pack the record[s]” by collecting as many high-quality biometric identifiers from arrested criminal suspects as possible.
“We’re not only talking mug shots,” he said. “We’re talking scars, marks, tattoos and other descriptors. You can take up to 25 images [per arrest]. It used to be 10, but now you can take up to 25,” he said. “The upside is that every mug shot you collect is going to be searched against an unsolved crime.” ...AlJazeera
Congratulations! You're on candid... You're in the FBI's biometric database. You are a potential perp already. Guilty until exonerated by that tiny "Howdy!" tattoed on your thigh.
And the guy running the FBI is beginning to sound like a sicko nutcase.
Even as outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced a broad new Department of Justice review of policing tactics, training and techniques at the conference on Monday and urged cops not to let racial tensions be “swept under the rug” in places like Ferguson, Missouri — where the fatal August shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer sparked weeks of protests — FBI Director James Comey vividly defended law enforcement on another hot-button policing issue that re-emerged from the long Missouri summer: the militarization of local police.
“I know that this debate and some of the bumper-stickering of it has discouraged many of you, because you know in your gut the dangers that your folks face when they put on the uniform and the badge to go out and do their job each day,” he said.
“We tell a lie to our children … that monsters aren’t real,” Comey said. “Monsters are real. Monsters are barricaded inside apartments waiting for law enforcement to respond so they can fire rounds that will pierce ballistic vests. Monsters are real, and they are equipped with equipment designed to harm innocent people.” ...Al Jazeera
It's unconstitutional. The whole damn vote, in Texas at least, is unconstitutional. And yet it will proceed. Poll taxes and all.
Chief Justice Roberts is no less aware of this violation than I am. If I had any power to remedy the situation, I would. But he won't. And you and I are unable to force Justice Roberts to act within the law. Talk about ironies!
Late on a Friday night earlier this month, the Supreme Court voted in another case from Texas to permit the state’s voter ID law, the strictest in the country, to take effect. A federal district judge in Corpus Christi found after a nine-day trial that the law’s stringent requirements for particular forms of identification would prevent as many as 600,000 Texans, 4.5 percent of all those registered, from voting next month. The impact, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos found, would fall disproportionately on black and Latino Texans. She ruled that the law violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — the section that remains functional after the Supreme Court cut the heart out of that law last year — and that it operated as an unconstitutional poll tax. Judge Ramos issued a permanent injunction to bar the state from applying the law.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit — yes, the same court that brought us the Texas abortion clinic closings, before the Supreme Court granted a reprieve two weeks ago — gave Texas an immediate stay of the ruling, putting the voter ID law back into effect for next week’s election. The plaintiffs then asked the Supreme Court to lift the stay.
“The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case,” Justice Ginsburg said, “is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.” A law, in other words, that in the full glare of publicity and on the verge of a highly polarized election, threatens destruction to the social fabric in the most dangerous way, by shutting thousands of citizens out of the democratic process of choosing their leaders.
“There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the court in April of this year. His subject then was the right to spend money in politics, not the right to vote. If people conclude that the current Supreme Court majority cares more about the first than the second — surely a logical inference — the court will have entered a dangerous place. And so — as a conservative justice once realized in another context — will the country. ...LindaGreenhouse,NYT
So what's a citizen living in Texas supposed to do?
If you want to vote, make sure you take your drivers' license with you on Tuesday next week. If you want to protest? Apply for an absentee ballot. That way you can "technically" avoid caving in to Texas racism and dirty politics. As someone who has enjoyed battling with the TX Secretary of State over the state's violations in past elections, this is a no-brainer.
It would be the Wall Street equivalent of a parole violation.
Just two years after avoiding prosecution for a variety of crimes, some of the world’s biggest banks are suspected of having broken their promises to behave.
Prosecutors in Washington and Manhattan have reopened an investigation into Standard Chartered, the big British bank that reached a settlement in 2012 over accusations that it transferred billions of dollars for Iran and other nations blacklisted by the United States, according to the lawyers briefed on the cases. ...NYT
New York State’s banking regulator is also taking a fresh look at old cases, reopening a 2013 settlement with the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ over accusations that the bank’s New York branch did business with Iran, according to the lawyers who were not authorized to speak publicly. ...NYT
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the influential consulting firm that advised the Japanese bank on that case, is also under investigation, according to the lawyers briefed on the matter. ...NYT
"... Prosecutors are also threatening to tear up deals with banks like Barclays and UBS that were accused of manipulating interest rates, pointing to evidence that the same banks also manipulated foreign currencies, a violation of the interest rate settlements. ...NYT
However, the Times reporters warn us, don't think any of these perps will get much more than a slap on the wrist. Prosecutors, you can be sure "are likely to seek punishments more symbolic than sweeping." They just aren't operating at the same level in our society as you and me. The Times likens the banks' latest rule-breaking as a "parole violation." Thing is, parole violations can make innocent people vulnerable to crime.
As one commenter on the report writes, "Capitalism is theft." Well, not always. It's only theft when the law fails to keep it in check. If the rules keep being broken and the regulators refuse to act, the people will.
Ironically, it's the Democrats who are bound to take the fall on this one in a midterm election which, many pollsters are saying, is about the economy. The economy is fine. What's not fine is what the average American feels about it. Reports -- five days before the vote -- that the banks are once again getting a slap on the wrist can't help the party holding the White House and the Senate. Elections are less about actualities than they are about about voters' perceptions.
And the biggest cruelties are deliberately aimed at women.
We have Greg Abbott, a candidate for governor who has no idea of how big Texas is. Literally! For a guy with a very comfortable income, the state -- in terms of travel -- is the equivalent of Rhode Island. Abbott has access to point-to-point air services. It's fair to assume that most women in Texas lack that option.
In response to the Supreme Court's recent move, Greg Abbott, Texas’s attorney general and the state's Republican candidate for governor, defended the law by saying that “it is undisputed that the vast majority of Texas residents (more than 83 percent) still live within a comfortable driving distance (150 miles)”
That distance may be "comfortable" by some definitions, but it's also expensive.
In a Medium post that opens with, "My home state is large in a way that boggles the unacquainted," Jordan Schermerhorn points out that the sheer size of Texas adds up when it comes to gas money. Above is a graphic Schermerhorn made showing the cost to drive to each of the eight abortion clinics that would have remained in the state, had HB2 gone into effect. The data are from Fund Texas Women, an abortion fund, and a 2008 miles-per-gallon estimate for a new vehicle.
Getting to the nearest abortion clinic from Texas's southernmost tip, for example, would require a round trip of 1,000 miles and $151 in gas. Even in central Texas, the nearest abortion clinic would have been 400 miles and $50 away.
That's before you include the cost of a hotel (Texas has a 24-hour waiting period), and the $300–$950 for the procedure itself. To earn $151, a woman would have to work at a minimum-wage job in Texas for more than half a week.
And it's not just Texas: Nearly half the states have recently passed laws that force abortion clinics to meet new building codes or close their doors. As clinics close under these restrictions—more than 50 have since 2010—the cost of driving to the remaining providers will likely creep up further. ...Atlantic
Some states leave women even worse off.
"That’s what people don’t get," Dalton Johnson, an abortion provider and owner of Alabama Women’s Center, in Huntsville,told Slate. "Not only are you driving 200 miles one way, but you have to do it twice, or even three times if you go for a follow-up appointment ...With a 48-hour waiting period in Alabama, you can’t even stay overnight." ...Atlantic
In a rare public accounting of its mass surveillance program, the United States Postal Service reported that it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations.
The number of requests, contained in a 2014 audit of the surveillance program by the Postal Service’s inspector general, shows that the surveillance program is more extensive than previously disclosed and that oversight protecting Americans from potential abuses is lax.
The audit, along with interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, offers one of the first detailed looks at the scope of the program, which has played an important role in the nation’s vast surveillance effort since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The audit, which was reported on earlier by Politico, found that in many cases the Postal Service approved requests to monitor an individual’s mail without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization. ...NYT
Dot dot dot -- and then this:
The Postal Service also uses a program called Mail Imaging, in which its computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail sent in the United States. The program’s primary purpose is to process the mail, but in some cases it is also used as a surveillance system that allows law enforcement agencies to request stored images of mail sent to and received by people they are investigating. ...NYT