XKCD's massive map of Congress's political leanings since the start

Just in time for election season, XKCD's Randall Monroe has busted out another of his amazing, wall-sized infographics, this one depicting the swings to the left, right and center of the senate and the house, through all of US electoral history.

Congress

Colbert to Trump: I'll pay $1M to your favorite charity if you let me put my balls in your mouth

Stephen Colbert has raised the stakes on Donald Trump's offer to donate money to a charity of Obama's choice in exchange for his school transcripts and passport details: Colbert will divert $1M from his SuperPAC to Trump's favorite charity if Trump allows Colbert to put his balls in his (Trump's) mouth.

Steven Colbert makes $1 million dollar charity offer to Trump to “stick his balls in his mouth”

Voter fraud is a fraud

The New Yorker's "Voter-Fraud Myth" by Jane Mayer is a good, fair, investigative piece tracking the rise of the Republican orthodoxy that says that voter fraud is rampant, and that it favors Democrats. Mayer makes a reasoned, factual case to show that there is no substantial voter fraud problem (much-vaunted incidents like the scores of dead voters in Georgia were later revealed to not have a single verifiable instance of a dead person voting). Mayer also shows how anti-fraud measures disproportionately target young people, poor people, and visible minorities. This is a great piece to refer to when discussing the subject with friends who've been convinced that voter ID laws amount to anything other than partisan voter suppression.

Von Spakovsky offered me the names of two experts who, he said, would confirm that voter-impersonation fraud posed a significant peril: Robert Pastor, the director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management, at American University, and Larry Sabato, a political-science professor at the University of Virginia. Pastor, von Spakovsky noted, had spoken to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about being a victim of election fraud: voting in Georgia, he discovered that someone else had already voted under his name.

When I reached Pastor, he clarified what had happened to him. “I think they just mistakenly checked my name when my son voted—it was just a mistake.” He added, “I don’t think that voter-impersonation fraud is a serious problem.” Pastor believes that, compared with other democracies, America is “somewhere near the bottom in election administration,” and thinks that voter I.D.s make sense—but only if they are free and easily available to all, which, he points out, is not what Republican legislatures have proposed. Sabato, who supports the use of voter I.D.s under the same basic conditions, says of the voter-impersonation question, “One fraudulent vote is one too many, but my sense is that it’s relatively rare today.”

Hasen says that, while researching “The Voting Wars,” he “tried to find a single case” since 1980 when “an election outcome could plausibly have turned on voter-impersonation fraud.” He couldn’t find one. News21, an investigative-journalism group, has reported that voter impersonation at the polls is a “virtually non-existent” problem. After conducting an exhaustive analysis of election-crime prosecutions since 2000, it identified only seven convictions for impersonation fraud. None of those cases involved conspiracy.

The Voter-Fraud Myth

Shocking, vicious attack-ads from the dirty presidential race


Redditor Aspirin742 and his six-year-old daughter Elissa are both contenders in a hard-fought election for President of their house. The campaigning has gotten really ugly.

My 6 year old daughter and I are having an election for President of the House (imgur.com) (via Super Punch)

How's Your News, Election 2012: developmentally disabled reporters go to GOP and DNC

Developmentally disabled news reporters cover the weird world of the 2012 RNC and DNC. We interview director Arthur Bradford, and backer Matt Stone (South Park, Book of Mormon).

Read the rest

Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium: Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly's debate kicked ass

Last night's Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart debate, the "Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium," just crushed it. This is the best 90 minutes of video you're gonna see this month, and is unquestionably the best presidential debate of the season.

Update: In the comments, Patrick McGorrill adds, "Also available from www.therumble2012.com where they're using the Louis CK model. 90 minutes of DRM-free, HD video, for $5." That is a stone bargain.

Here's the Guardian's Amanda Holpuch with a recap:

The economic discussion focused on O'Reilly and Stewart's disagreement on government spending. O'Reilly said he thinks too much money is given to "slackers" who "mooch" off the government through welfare and other subsidies, though he supports social security. Stewart took issue with O'Reilly's determinations of what things are acceptable to be subsidised by the government.

"Why is it if you take advantage of a tax break as a corporation you're a smart businessman, but if you take advantage of a tax break as a person you're a moocher?" Stewart said.

Jon Stewart lays into Bill O'Reilly in presidential debate spoof

68,000 Texans no longer have to prove they're not dead in order to vote

68,000 Texans will no longer have to prove that they aren't dead in order to vote in the next election. The state of Texas has settled a suit brought on behalf of 68,000 "potentially deceased" Texas voters who shared a birthdate and a partial Social Security match with a person appearing on a federal death register. These people will now be able to vote, unless Texas can prove they're dead. Another 12,000 voters will still have to prove that they're not dead before casting a ballot. More from Lowering the Bar:

Under the previous rules, voters were identified as "potentially deceased" if there was at least a "weak match" (such as a birth date plus a partial Social Security number) between their information and the federal death records the state was consulting. The weakly matched dead made up 68,000 of the 80,000 people who received a letter from voting officials telling them they would be removed from the rolls if they didn't speak up. Under the settlement, the burden shifts to officials to prove those people are really dead; the remainder ("strong matches"), who are much more likely to be dead, will still have to prove otherwise if they can.

"Today's order [approving the settlement] is another step toward improving the integrity of the election system," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who had unsuccessfully tried to defend the state's original plan. I think it's actually the same step, but 85% smaller.

Texas Settles With Previously Dead Voters

Maine GOP attack-flier condemns Democratic candidate for playing an orc rogue in online game


A flier distributed by the Maine GOP attacks Democratic state senate candidate Colleen Lachowicz for playing an orc assassin rogue in World of Warcraft, using quotes she's made about the virtual violence her imaginary fairy-tale creature gets up to in order to imply that she is unfit for office. Timothy Lee has more on Ars Technica:

"I love poisoning and stabbing! It is fun," the flyer quotes Lachowicz as saying. The candidate is apparently a regular commenter at DailyKos, a liberal blog. And the Maine GOP has mined the site looking for what it regards as damning comments. Most of Lachowicz's remarks were posted in 2009 or 2010, most likely before she began her current campaign for office.

"I can kill stuff without going to jail," she wrote in December 2009. "There are some days when this is more necessary than others." The flyer points voters to a website, called "Colleen's World," that highlights more cases where she describes virtual violence she committed in the online world.

Candidate for Maine State Senate attacked for Warcraft character

TV news programs ignore false claims in the thousands of political ads that pay their bills


Josh Levy from Free Press sez, "My colleague Tim Karr just released a report exposing the billions spent on political ads around the country -- and how that money is pocketed by local TV stations. Are these stations offering any local news coverage to debunk the lies in these ads? Are they exposing the deep-pocketed interests behind the groups buying ad time? The short answer is: No. The local stations we looked at in the report provided no local stories exposing the special interests behind these ads, and only one station among the 20 surveyed devoted even a few minutes to investigating whether these ads told viewers the truth."

Here are some details from our new report, Left in the Dark: Local Coverage in the Age of Big-Money Politics:

* The Super PACs vs. Justin Bieber: The hundreds of hours of local news that aired in the two weeks prior to Wisconsin's June 5 recall election included no stories on the 17 groups most actively buying time on Milwaukee's ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates. While these stations were ignoring the impact of political ads, they found time to air 53 local news segments on Justin Bieber.

* Fact-Check Fail: The ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates in Charlotte, Cleveland, Las Vegas and Milwaukee did not once fact-check the claims made in political ads placed locally by the nation's top-spending Super PACs and independent groups, even though these groups had spent tens of millions of dollars on frequently deceptive ads in those markets.

* Hush Money: Cleveland's four affiliate stations provided no coverage of the Koch brothers-funded group Americans for Prosperity, despite airing the group's anti-Obama attack ads more than 500 times. Americans for Prosperity has reportedly spent more than $1.5 million to place ads on Cleveland television stations.

* News Out of Balance: Affiliate stations in Tampa aired on average more than 200 political ads a day throughout August. Yet only one station, WTSP, devoted news time to fact-checking any of the most prominent groups buying these ads. In a single segment running less than three minutes, WTSP rated an Americans for Prosperity ad as false, a finding that didn't stop the station from running the group's anti-Obama ads more than 150 times that month.

TV Stations Accept Political Ad Cash -- and Leave Viewers in the Dark (Thanks, Josh!)

Study: Republican state voting laws "will disenfranchise 10,000,000 Hispanic US citizens"

Today, a civil rights group called Advancement Project will publish a report on the new voting laws passed in 23 Republican-led states. The report (not named in Patricia Zengerle's Reuters article and not yet up on the Advancement Project site) claims that 10,000,000 Hispanic voters will be disenfranchised by the new laws, which place hurdles between voters and the ballot box, such as presenting certain types of ID. The rubric for these laws has been that "everyone" has the types of ID specified in the statutes, and the common refrain in response to critics is "Who doesn't have a [driver's license|passport|non-driver ID|etc]?" The Advancement Project's point appears to be that these specific 10 million citizens, who are otherwise legally entitled to vote, don't have the necessary papers or can't meet the qualifiers imposed by the state governments.

According to Reuters, national polls show 70 percent or more support for Obama among Hispanic voters.

The new laws include purges of people suspected of not being citizens in 16 states that unfairly target Latinos, the civil rights group Advancement Project said in the study to be formally released on Monday.

Laws in effect in one state and pending in two others require proof of citizenship for voter registration. That imposes onerous and sometimes expensive documentation requirements on voters, especially targeting naturalized American citizens, many of whom are Latino, the liberal group said.

Nine states have passed restrictive photo identification laws that impose costs in time and money for millions of Latinos who are citizens but do not yet have the required identification, it said.

Voting laws may disenfranchise 10 million Hispanic U.S. citizens: study (Thanks, Deborah!)

Internet Voter Registration Day: pledge to vote, and get your friends to pledge, and scare the piss out of SOPA-loving DC insiders

Tiffiniy from the SOPA-killing activist group Fight for the Future sez,

Remember when we worked together and beat back internet censorship and SOPA, and changed the world earlier this year? 2012 is a historic year for our basic rights on the web - the year the internet came alive and fought for free speech and freedom. Sites like Boing Boing depend on an open and free web, and so doesn't much of what you love and do on the web.

Unfortunately, Congress still only cares about the opinions of likely voters. If everyone who cares about internet freedom stays at home this election, Congress will bring back SOPA. That's why we've been working on a campaign to turn out a massive number of internet users at the polls, and we're asking people to join us tomorrow for Internet Voter Registration Day, right before a bunch of state deadlines, by pledging that you'll vote, and register if you need to: internetvotes.org.

Washington insiders thought SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA were all 'certain to pass.' How did the internet win against those bills? Because people stood up to protect free speech and the transformative power of the internet in their lives.

Let's dramatically increase the number of people egging each other on to vote, which has shown to get people to the polls. The first thing we're asking people to do is to get our friends to pledge and register to vote starting Tuesday, National Voter Registration Day (right before a bunch of state deadlines with time to send in your forms). Then we'll work together to mobilize millions of internet users to get to the polls. People can use our tools to see which of their friends are voting and registered, mobilize their audiences into voting blocks for their cause, site, or group, get important voting information, and make sure their friends go vote.

Promise to vote for the internet in 2012 (Thanks, Tiffiniy!)

Gawker drops "The Bain Files: Inside Mitt Romney's Tax-Dodging Cayman Schemes"

Today, Gawker (specifically, John Cook) publishes a Wikileaks-style data dump: The Bain Files: Inside Mitt Romney's Tax-Dodging Cayman Schemes. As Dylan Byers at Politico points out, not all of the info is new and "will require a great deal of vetting, but early signs indicate that there are some new, and potentially controversial, details -- starting with that bit at the end about a retirement package investment that was made almost a decade after Romney retired." BusinessInsider is not impressed.

Devo to release single commemorating Mitt Romney's roof-tied dog

Rolling Stone reports that the band DEVO "are set to release a track later this month entitled "Don't Roof Rack Me, Bro! (Remember Seamus)." It is inspired by Mitt Romney's notorious road trip from Massachusetts to Ontario, during which he transported the family dog, Seamus, in a kennel strapped to the roof of his station wagon." More at THR. (thanks, GEF)

Vote against CISPA, SOPA and PIPA in 2012

A reader writes, "The Bill of Rights Defense Committee has a list of candidates who are running for Congress who strongly oppose indefinite detention of American citizens and SOPA/CISPA. The link also mentions current incumbents who are working to defend the Internet." Cory

Anti-Super-PAC Super PAC

George Soros's son Jonathan is running a Super PAC that will run attack ads targeting candidates who oppose abolishing Super PACs. Cory