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Posted at 08:54 AM ET, 10/31/2011

The Morning Plum

* GOP tightening election laws across the country: My pick for read of the morning is this very well reported Los Angeles Times piece detailing what is now an undeniable national trend: Republican legislatures and governors are making it harder for people to vote in multiple states across the country.

When you see these examples piled up in one place, as the L.A. Times has done, you get a clear sense of the national scope and potential impact of all these state-by-state initiatives. As one expert puts it, the presidential race could hang in the balance: “These laws will have an effect on the margin on who votes. And in a state like Florida, a small difference matters. It could easily decide the outcome.”

Amusing footnote: The Republican National Committee responded to the story by invoking ... Acorn.

* About those allegations against Herman Cain: Today will be dominated by the big Politico story reporting that two women accused him of inappropriate behavior when he was head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. Cain’s campaign is grabbing on to the fact that the women’s identities have not been revealed in order to portray the story as nothing but a liberal media smear job against a true patriot.

But the facts complicate this pushback. The Cain campaign doesn’t seem to be denying that the allegations were made, and just seems to be contesting their significance and accuracy. Indeed, the Cain camp first claimed that the matter had been “settled” before clarifying that it had merely been “resolved.” Politico claims to have seen documentation of one such settlement. And when Cain himself was directly asked whether he had been accused, he responded this way:

He breathed audibly, glared at the reporter and stayed silent for several seconds. After the question was repeated three times, he responded by asking the reporter, “Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?”

Cain himself seemed to allow that these allegations do exist, but that he is frustrated and angered by them. In fairness to Cain, we can’t really evaluate their significance or veracity. But the problem with the Cain camp’s pushback against the story is that the women’s identities were protected for their sake, and they are, in fact, on record in documents making their charges. Multiple headlines are now claiming that the Cain campaign is now actually denying the story, but it’s unclear from the statement given to the AP what, exactly, is being denied.

When Cain is asked today about the story, it will be the clearest test yet of Cain’s durability, which has allowed him to continue succeeding in defiance of the conventional rules of politics — until now, anyway.

* Cain to seize on media attack to bolster his conservative cred: Expect Cain to try to rally conservatives to his side by portraying the story as the latest evidence of liberal media collusion against a real conservative.

* Is GOP losing control of the narrative? Don’t miss E.J. Dionne’s must-read column today tying together Paul Ryan’s “class warfare” whine, Obama’s new populism, and Occupy Wall Street to make the case that Republicans are losing control of the political conversation:

Ryan would not have given this speech if the Republican Party were not so worried that it is losing control of the political narrative. In particular, growing inequalities of wealth and income — which should have been a central issue in American politics for at least a decade — are now finally at the heart of our discourse. We are, at last, discussing the social and economic costs of concentrating ever more resources in the hands of the top sliver of our society.

Whatever happens to the protests, after months fighting it out on GOP turf, Dems are finally battling on territory favorable to them. Also: The current discussion about inequality is not just about simple fairness; it’s also about the fact that enormous disparities in wealth have far reaching consequences for upward mobility and the country’s future.

* The think tank behind Occupy Wall Street: Nice read from Steven Perlstein on the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute, which is having an enormous impact on the debate by supplying the data proving the reality of inequality despite nonstop conservative efforts to pretend it doesn’t exist.

How much longer until a conservative video sting targets the tiny think tank? Oh, wait, that may already be happening.

* What OWS is really about: It’s not terribly difficult. Alex Pareene boils it down:

It is our belief that many of the problems facing Americans today can be directly connected to the unchecked power and complete unaccountability of the 1 Percent, a group that benefits from every unequal boom of the modern era and escapes each disastrous bust unscathed. The 1 Percent is insulated from the negative effects of its disastrous policies by its paid representatives in government.

Oddly enough, in some quarters this still doesn’t qualify as a message.

* Congressional Dems rally behind Obama jobs bill: Remember all that GOP criticism of the lack of Congressional Dem support for the American Jobs Act? The Hill tallies it up and finds that more than 90 House Democrats have endorsed the plan in the last week.

* The GOP’s “weaponized Keynesians” have given away the game: Paul Krugman has a blistering takedown of Republicans who oppose defense cuts because it would cost jobs, revealing in the process that they know more federal spending would ease unemployment, but oppose it anyway:

At a fundamental level, the opponents of any serious job-creation program know perfectly well that such a program would probably work, for the same reason that defense cuts would raise unemployment. But they don’t want voters to know what they know, because that would hurt their larger agenda — keeping regulation and taxes on the wealthy at bay.

* Republicans heart government money — for companies in their districts: Relatedly, check out USA Today on GOP Rep Tim Murphy — who has hammered the Obama Department of Energy for giving a loan to a company manufacturing abroad — even as he has championed Federal loans to Westinghouse, which is headquarted in his district and has facilities in many countries around the globe.

* Rick Perry admits Federal energy loan flip flop: Again relatedly, Rick Perry is now acknowledging he changed his position from his previous support for Federal money to help finance nuclear reactors in his home state of Texas.

Is anyone else noticing a pattern here?

* Mitt Romney avoiding in depth interviews: Michael Calderone has a very illuminating look at Romney’s media strategy: He’s avoiding major, in depth interviews with top national news outlets, including Fox News, in the belief that media interest in his candidacy is such that he can secure all the attention he needs without doing them.

* And the myth of media “objectivity” is busted: Nice take by Conor Friedersdorf on the absurdity of the news orgs’ insistence that journalists refrain from revealing their actual views, and on why this pretense of phony objectivity actually misleads the public and obscures the truth.

What else is happening?

By  |  08:54 AM ET, 10/31/2011

 
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