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October 15, 2012 09:28 AM

A recent story from In These Times alleges that the Koch Brothers are trying to control employee votes in Oregon. Eugene is home to a Georgia-Pacific plant that we featured in a recent cover story on toxics in west Eugene. 

The election story begins:

Koch Sends Pro-Romney Mailing to 45,000 Employees While Stifling Workplace Political Speech

The billionaire Koch brothers have found a new way to influence the 2012 electionn — preaching to employees

Much has been written about the owners of Koch Industries, brothers David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, trying to control the political process through hundreds of millions of dollars in donations to right-wing causes and candidates. Now, an In These Times investigation reveals that the billionaires have broken out another tactic to influence the 2012 elections: attempting to control their workers’ votes.

In a voter information packet obtained by In These Times, the Koch Industries corporate leadership informed tens of thousands of employees at its subsidiary, Georgia Pacific, that their livelihood could depend on the 2012 election and that the company supports Mitt Romney for president. The guide was similar to one the company distributed before the 2010 midterm elections, which Mark Ames and I reported on in The Nation last year.

The packet arrived in the mailboxes of all 45,000 Georgia Pacific employees earlier this month.

The packet featured a cover letter, by Koch Industries President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Robertson, as well as  "flyer listing Koch-endorsed candidates, beginning with Romney. Robertson’s letter explained: 'At the request of many employees, we have also provided a list of candidates in your state that have been supported by Koch companies or by KOCHPAC, our employee political action committee.'"  

The cover letter reads:

If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects, and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills.

The packet also included a packet that also included "an anti-Obama editorial by Charles Koch and a pro-Romney editorial by David Koch. The letter went on to say, 'We believe any decision about which candidates to support is — as always — yours and yours alone, based on the factors that are most important to you. Second, we do not support candidates based on their political affiliation.'"

But In These Times reports that " In the flyer sent to Oregon employees, all 14 Koch-backed state candidates were Republicans."

For the full story go here.

October 12, 2012 11:35 AM

October 12, 2012 06:04 PM

 

The good folks at Upworthy are  bringing "malarkey" back ... with a little help from the VP:

 

If there's one thing we learned from the vice-presidential debate, it's that we're not saying "malarkey" nearly enough. 

Introducing The Upworthy Malarkifier

Whenever you see 100%, grade-A malarkey online, just type in the link on www.upworthy.com/malarkify and it'll give you images likes these to share.

October 12, 2012 06:35 PM

Listen to the whole show below . Download at archive.org

October 12, 2012 02:23 PM

Presidential and VP-debate watching is a apparently best done with a drink in hand for the games (he said 47 percent!) or done the next day after it's been badly lip read or songified.

October 10, 2012 10:59 AM

I have to admit I wasn't following the mayoral race in Ashland this fall. It's a little out of EW's range. But like a lot of  people I get some of my election news from Comedy Central these days. John Stewart and Stephen Colbert from debating Bill O'Reilly to Super Pacs (Making a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow) make elections worth following even for the most jaded of politics-haters. (I'm not a jaded politics hater, but I sympathize). 

So it turns out that a fellow who calls himself Biome Michael Erickson is running for mayor of Ashalnd. Comedy Central has deemed him a "one of a kind candidate" (sponsored by Dr. Pepper). Democracy: It's not just for famous people. Indeed as of Oct. 10, Biome's Facebook page had only 21 likes. 

According to his webpage, here's Biome Michael Erickson's info from his Voters Pamphlet statement.

Occupation: Organic Food Manufacturer, Landscaper, Farm Laborer 

Occupational Background: Handyman, Mendicant 

Educational Background: Penn State University 

Prior Governmental Experience: Researcher, Active Pacifist 

 

He supplies a strong endorsement:

“Over 38 years, living at 19 different locations, in 4 states, I can say that Michael is the best neighbor I've ever had.” -Wayne Perry / Next-door neighbor

Though I will admit it puzzled me a little, since he also says on his webpage that he's spent kind of a lot of time "homeless" (his quotation marks). 

As Comedy Central points out, one of the best parts of Biome's campaign is the statement he provided to the Chamber of Commerce.

The requirements, as I understand them, to qualify for Mayor are these: I had to be an Ashland resident and I had to be registered to vote.  This means, simply, I had to be Human to be Mayor.  My skills and accomplishments are these: I have run the gauntlet of modern American culture and survived.  I have reclaimed my mind from the lies and distortions propagated by the mass media.  I have verified that I am not the machine the public education system wished to make of me, but that I am a living soul, with free will, choosing to align with a higher order.  I have risen above the temptations that mire people in obscurity.  I have accomplished what many others before me have accomplished, and I follow in their footsteps.  I have become ordinary, an ordinary human being who wishes to serve his humanity and his planet to the best of his ability.  These are my skills and accomplishments.  Please accept them as such.

And later in answer to the question of define the role of mayor as it pertains to his position:

My position is that of an ordinary human being.  What else could it be?  I have the same needs as every other creature on this planet.  I breathe, posture, and attitude.  I have a heart, brains, guts, and a spine.  I eat and drink.  I work.  I exercise, play and sleep.   I empathize with suffering and give charity where due.  I share with others what I learn along the way. From a selfish position, I'd prefer if I didn't have to seek elected office.  I'd prefer to just go on living a simple life basking in a one-sided view of bliss.   And from a self-LESS position, I can't help but to sacrifice my personal time, space and energy to bring relief to an imperiled world. … 

As for the definition of the role of Mayor as it applies to my position: the Mayor is, hopefully, also a human being akin to myself.

Indeed, since as he points out earlier, being human and living in Ashland appear to be the only requirements, so he's good to go! For the full Indecision blog post, go here. 

October 10, 2012 08:45 AM

In case you missed last week's presidential debate or plan to sit out tomorrow's VP debate, the bad lip reading version is available. 

October 10, 2012 01:31 PM

On Saturday, Oct. 6, George Washington University hosted a live taping of “O’Reilly V. Stewart 2012: The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium,” in front of a rowdy audience. Unlike the Oct. 3 Obama-Romney debate, the rumble was passionate, informational (at times) and entertaining. Like the presidential debate, there was also a swirl of lies and talking points. Luckily, I watched the full debate for free via YouTube before therumble2012.com made them take it down. Now, you can either watch the debate piecing together YouTube clips or by downloading it for $4.95 at therumble2012.com.

Former Fox News host E.D. Hill (with the prerequisite Fox Barbie blonde hair and body-hugging dress to boot), who at times came off as as if she was hosting Entertainment Tonight, still managed to moderate the sparring TV personalities more effectively than Jim Leher. Although they both brought gimmicks; O’Reilly held up signs to punctuate his arguments and Stewart used an elevating platform, allowing the 5’6” comedian to “look down upon” the 6’4” Fox pundit.

One of the best moments of the night is when O’Reilly and Stewart argue about the social safety net. O’Reilly claims that lazy people mooch the system (“The mind-set is, if I can gin the system, I’ll do it because it’s easy”). Stewart asks O’Reilly about his own father claiming disability from his company. O’Reilly goes into belligerent-drunk-uncle mode, repeatedly yelling, “He had colitis!” followed by “If they genuinely need it, there’s no beef” (“genuinely need it” feels a little too close to Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment).

Stewart goes into breathless-exasperation mode and fires back, “If you take advantage of a tax break, you’re a smart businessman. If you take advantage of something you need to not be hungry, you’re a moocher.” 

October 9, 2012 04:13 PM

Here's a video from New York about not riding your bike in the bike lane. This is exactly why you need to know your rights — don't miss the surprise ending!

In other bike news, the number of bikes sold in Italy has overtaken the number of cars for the first time since WWII.

And in more serious bike news, I don't know that critical mass is the most productive way to advocate for bikes, but these black-and-white dressed people's reaction in San Francisco is not super safe, to say the least:

And this Grist story about the guy trying to mandate bike licenses in Portland is kinda hilarious.

October 9, 2012 05:54 PM

The dramatic music … the dramatic opening. "It is a place time seems to have left behind. A neighborhood literally seen by thousands of eyes every day … yet seemingly noticed by none … a dwelling where death at times is nothing more than an opportunity to recycle life … welcome everyone to THE WHIT!"

I don't think I was supposed to giggle as much as I did. "It's a heartbeat formed by the symbiotic relationships of the inhabitants … " The voiceover kills me. Lots of great Whit cameos as well as Mayor Kitty Piercy, Police Chief Pete Kerns, videographer Tim Lewis and more. 

October 9, 2012 01:13 PM

Perhaps the most famous and lucrative cat celebrikitty, the round-faced Maru (his name does mean "circle" in Japanese) is back trying to figure out his new hot pink wheels. More of his hijinx can be found at maruthecat.tumblr.com and fans can "ask Maru anything," but don't expect full feline disclosure because Maru and his human companion Mogumogu are quite elusive. According to a recent article in Wired:

He is 5 years old and lives in an undisclosed Japanese city that is, by consensual rumor, almost certainly not Tokyo, because no indoor cat in Tokyo has that much space to jump into boxes, especially not the bigger ones. Maru has upwards of 168 million YouTube views and, according to other rumors, has generated enough ad revenue to buy his owner a new apartment. His is the seventh-most-subscribed YouTube channel in Japan.

Many members of the cat viral video world believe that Maru's 15 minutes (what is that in cat time?) are nearly up. Maybe Eugene will be home to the next famous pussy cat...

October 4, 2012 05:29 PM

October 4, 2012 10:07 AM

There were a lot of things to critique in the debate last night. But there was one thing that really stuck  out for a lot of people.

Gov. Mitt Romney not only is mean to dogs. He wants to take out Sesame Street. He told moderator Jim Leher of PBS's NewsHour at last night's debate:

I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to keep spending money on things, borrowing money from China

Oh yeah? Let the memes and tweets begin.

 

 

According to the Christian Science Monitor

Both public radio and public television get their federal funding (small but crucial percentages of their budgets, administrators say, which are often earmarked for under-served and rural populations) from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, for its part, gets a bit under $500 million in taxpayer dollars a year to distribute.

No small amount of change by itself, but in the grand scheme of the federal budget, not so much. It’s a few days of war in Afghanistan, according to many estimates. Just to put it in perspective.

As to the percentage of that $500 million that Big Bird actually pockets?  Pretty tiny. 

Finally, Jezebel wins for best post-debate wrap up:

 

5. Romney knows all about lying because he's got 5 sons. Wha?

Despite his non-pants-shitting performance, there were still a few moments of off-putting weirdness in the debate. Specifically, this quote:

"I've got five boys. I'm used to people saying something that's not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I'll believe it."

I'm now concerned with Mitt Romney's merry band of sociopaths roaming the country.

Speaking of lies, Mitt Romney used last night to resurrect the idea of Obamacare being akin to a government takeover of medical care, which was Politifact's 2010 Lie of the Year. Yes, Mitt Romney is very familiar with falsehoods that get repeated over and over again as fact.