Instead, Mr. Pandit, the chief executive of Citigroup, was told three news releases were ready. One stated that Mr. Pandit had resigned, effective immediately. Another that he would resign, effective at the end of the year. The third release stated Mr. Pandit had been fired without cause. The choice was his.
I like it! The only thing that could have made it better would have been a fourth press release stating that Pandit was deeply remorseful for his poor performance and was voluntarily accepting a position as a teller in Citi's Fargo branch as a way of demonstrating his earnest desire to redeem himself through honest labor alongside the workers he had let down. No need to go so easy on the guy, after all.
This is a drag. Tyler Cowen draws my attention to a study that suggests a home team win by a local college football team shortly before an election boosts the vote for an incumbent president. The biggest effect, oddly enough, is for the game ten days before the election, not the game right before the election. A win this weekend could boost the local vote for the incumbent by a stunning 2.59 percentage points.
Right away, I'm going to say I don't believe this. It's just too big an effect. But you can't be too careful, can you? And that sets up some conflicts. My USC Trojans, for example, are playing Arizona this weekend, and a USC win would have no effect. Who cares if Obama gooses his winning percentage in California by a point or two? A win by the Wildcats, however, might just put Arizona over the top for Obama.
Or how about Penn State vs. Ohio State? I have some residual loyalty to Penn State because my father taught there for a year and my sister was born there. What's more, as a Pac-12 guy, hating Ohio State is bred into my genes. But Pennsylvania isn't in play. Ohio is, and if an Ohio State win gives Obama an extra point or two in the Buckeye State, that could determine who wins the election.
Luckily, Ohio State is a big favorite, so it probably doesn't matter. Nonetheless, for the first time in my life, I might just be rooting for them.
David Corn joined MSNBC's Martin Bashir and Time magazine's Michael Scherer Thursday to talk about why the Romney campaign is avoiding sit-down interviews with the media before the election. Is it the result of fallout from Richard Mourdock's rape comments, the campaign's fuzzy tax plan, or something else?
David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter.
Some are calling it a "Snoreastercane." Others have dubbed it a "Frankenstorm." Whatever its nickname, Hurricane Sandy is bringing gale-force winds, flooding, heavy rains, and possibly even snow to the Eastern seaboard.
UPDATE 21, 5:30 p.m. EDT, Thursday, November 1: Limited bus and subway service returned to New York City Thursday morning, but cars remained one of the only options for moving between boroughs. As a result, the streets of Brooklyn—which normally depends heavily on public transit—were overwhelmed with drivers, and they were all looking for one thing: gas. But the city's main artery for this staple, the Port of New York, was closed during Hurricane Sandy and only just re-opened, leading to massive shortages, closed stations, and excruciating—and tense—lines for the pump.
In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Rick Ostfield of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY expressed concern about how the historic flooding has likely displaced hundreds or possibly thousands of rats, which could lead to the spread of rat-borne diseases: "You get infected individuals mixing with uninfected individuals and that's a recipe for an outbreak."
People continue to take to Twitter to document the aftermath of the storm:
The US death toll from Hurricane Sandy has now climbed to at least 50, including numerous victims killed by falling trees. Millions are still without power up and down the Eastern seaboard, including 684,000 in Manhattan. Con Ed officials called Sandy the worst storm in the company's history. An explosion at a substation on the east side of Manhattan on Monday night led to the outages in Manhattan south of midtown. John Miksad, Con Ed's senior vice president of electric operations, told the Wall Street Journal that the equipment is under several feet of water and operators are in rowboats working to pump it out, and that it could take up to a week to restore power to parts of Manhattan. Con Ed customers outside the city who lost power due to downed lines and trees may be without power for up to two weeks.
The industry forecasting firm IHS Global Insight is estimating that the superstorm could cost up to $50 billion in damages and lost business.
In Brooklyn, pedestrians are steering clear of standing water for fear of toxic sludge that could contain heavy metals and human waste. An apiary at the Brooklyn Navy Yard was destroyed, and 1 million honeybees were lost. A representative of the Brooklyn Grange, which managed 25 of the hives each containing about 40,000 bees, called the loss catastrophic.
Around Manhattan, people were gathering around power outlets.
During a press conference this morning, Gov. Cuomo directly linked Hurricane Sandy to climate change, saying, "There has been a series of extreme weather incidents. That is not a political statement, that is a factual statement. Anyone who says there is not a dramatic change in weather patterns I think is denying reality."
There are many crazy storm photos popping up online–some legit, some fakes. They seem to be confusing many people; a friend working abroad says her colleagues keep asking her if there are really sharks swimming in the NYC subway system. In service to the public, both Buzzfeed's Katie Notopoulos and The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal have posted great real-time fact-checking on some of the most unbelievable photos. Please check these out before tweeting any wild photos:
"The federal government’s response has been great. I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the President, personally, he has expedited the designation of New Jersey as a major disaster area," Christie, a top surrogate for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said on NBC’s "Today."
He added, "The President has been outstanding in this and so have the folks at FEMA."
On MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," Christie was equally laudatory, saying “the President has been all over this and he deserves great credit.” Obama, he said, "told me to call him if I needed anything and he absolutely means it, and it’s been very good working with the President and his administration."
UPDATE 14, 6:58 a.m. EDT, Tuesday, October 30:
President Obama has issued a disaster declaration for New York and surrounding counties, USA Today reports, making federal aid available for those areas. In Bergen County, New Jersey, emergency responders are battling a levee breach that has reportedly sent several feet of water into three towns, and in Breezy Point, Queens, a six-alarm fire has destroyed nearly 60 homes. Up to 7 million are now without power; you can check which areas are blacked out on the Google Maps team's Sandy map. The storm is expected to keep battering the East Coast all the way into Ontario, but winds are predicted to weaken through the day.
UPDATE 13, 1:45 a.m. EDT, Tuesday, October 30:
CNN tallies at least 13 US deaths so far; the New York Times reports "once-in-a-generation flooding." Several sources say that a New York City ConEd plant exploded earlier this evening, causing massive power outages in lower Manhattan. Outlets are also reporting a large fire in the Breezy Point section of Brooklyn.
In a statement early Tuesday morning, MTA chairman Joe Lhota said, "The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night."
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service predicts continuing high winds in New York and New England, more heavy rain in the mid-Atlantic, and 2-3 feet of snow in the mountains of West Virginia.
UPDATE 12, 8:30 p.m. EDT, Monday, October 29:
The water is starting to recede at New York City's Battery Park, but the worst dangers of the storm may still be ahead. New York University Hospital lost power and has had to begin evacuating patients. Since many patients at the hospital are in poor health and some are on ventilators, the evacuation is very dangerous. (WYNC's Fred Mogul reported that the hospital's backup generator failed.) The New York Fire Department has tweeted that firefighters are on the scene at Coney Island hospital and there is no fire, despite earlier reports. There are unconfirmed reports of trouble at other area hospitals.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority has confirmed that there is water in the subway tunnels under the East River—an event that the New York Timesreported in September could be a $55 billion disaster. Charles Seaton, a spokesman for the MTA, told the Weather Channel on Monday night that it would take a "significant amount of time" to get subways running again. And Long Island is now completely cut off from the mainland: all bridges and tunnels are closed.
Check out this time lapse video from the Climate Desk of the Manhattan skyline awaiting Sandy:
Climate Desk's James West took to his Brooklyn rooftop to talk with his home country's national breakfast radio show to describe what he was seeing across the city, and how he was preparing for something that might last days and days. Listen here.
People continue to take to Twitter and Instagram to document the storm. According to Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, "There are now 10 pictures per second being posted with the #sandy - most are images of people prepping for the storm and images of scenes outdoors."
Reporting from Brooklyn, Climate Desk Producer James West and Climate Desk Fellow Tim McDonnell spoke with people who were planning on staying in areas like Red Hook that have mandatory evacuations, "recalling what they thought were over-hyped precautions during last year's Hurricane Irene disaster."In Red Hook, a neighborhood along New York Harbor featuring low-lying land and industrial piers, sandbags weren't enough to prevent flooding, not just of seawater but also curious tourists, locals and television vans. James West
UPDATE 10, 4:15 P.M. EDT, Monday, October 29:
The Coast Guard today posted this video of the harrowing rescue of 14 people from life rafts from the sunken HMS Bounty, 90 miles off the coast of Hatteras, N.C. Two people remain missing. The HMS Bounty sent out a distress beacon early this morning. The 14 people were flown to Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., where they were met by awaiting emergency medical services personnel with no life threatening injuries. Coast Guard helicopters continue to search for the two missing crewmembers.
Below is video of the Hudson River overflowing on the west bank.
A girl with "snazzy new rainboots" on the East River at 18th Street in Manhattan posted a video shot at 11 a.m. EST of the East River overflowing its bank as an NYPD officer announces over a bullhorn that the area is a mandatory evacuation zone.
An ominous NASA video shows the storm gathering steam as it approaches New York City, displaying the massive scale of the storm which has already broken the record for being the largest storm in recorded Atlantic basin history.
People all up and down the East Coast have been posting their photos (real and, uh, less real, like the one above) to Twitter of the flooding and storm surge encroaching upon the landscape.
According to the National Weather Service, "Sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph are expected by 8 am this morning, then increasing around noon to 35 to 45 mph with hurricane force wind gusts 60 to 70 mph lasting into early Tuesday morning."
The New York Times has created an interactive map to help New Yorkers figure out whether or not they need to evacuate.
Mother Jones' Adam Serwer analyzes how Hurricane Sandy could swing the 2012 election, concluding that if it "turns out to be as bad as the meteorologists fear, it could have a real impact."
Mike Ryan, senior writer at Huffington Post Entertainment, tweets out a photo of FDR Drive in New York underwater:
UPDATE 7, 10:00 p.m. EDT, Sunday, October 28: Cities from Washington to Boston were ordering mass evacuations on Sunday night and public school was cancelled for all of New York City, Boston, Washington, Baltimore, and many of their suburbs. Airlines canceled more than 5,000 flights, and Amtrak began suspending train service across the Northeast.
President Obama today reviewed emergency response plans with FEMA administrator Craig Fugate in advance of what the president has called a "serious and big storm." He urged residents in the path of the storm to heed the warnings and directions of their local emergency officials and to leave their homes if evacuation is deemed necessary.
A high-wind warning will go into effect Monday at 6 a.m. (EDT) for New York City, with gusts expected to reach 80 mph. People living in the strike zone, especially those in high rise buildings above the 10th floor, are warned to stay away from windows as flying debris could pose a threat.
The National Guard has called upon 61,000 troops to prepare for storm response.
UPDATE 6, 3:00 p.m. EDT, Sunday, October 28: Sandy is threatening to bring significant storm surge flooding to Long Island Sound and New York Harbor with winds near hurricane force at landfall, according to the Sunday afternoon bulletin from NOAA which was tracking the hurricane about 270 miles off the coat of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. Heavy snow is also forecast in the Appalachian Mountains. The death toll in the Caribbean is up to 65.
Already hundreds of flights have been canceled and mass transit systems are shutting down all along the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast in advance of the storm which is supposed to make landfall in Southern New Jersey by late Monday or early Tuesday.
With just over a week before the election, President Obama has scrapped campaign plans for Monday and Tuesday to focus on storm response, and Republican challenger Mitt Romney has been scrambling his schedule, canceling events in Virginia and joining running mate Paul Ryan in Ohio.
For those in the path of the hurricane looking for infomation, the Red Cross has a Hurricane App which will allow users to monitor conditions in their area or throughout the storm track, prepare their family and home, find help and let others know they are safe even if the power is out.
UPDATE 4, 1:00 p.m. EDT, Saturday, October 27: Early Saturday morning, Sandy was briefly downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, but hurricane strength winds were observed a few hours later. According to an update from NOAA at 11 am EST, tropical storm watches and warnings for the east coast of Florida have been discontinued, but they are in effect for areas in South and North Carolina, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. Maximum sustained winds are near 75 mph and the storm is expected to move parallel to the southeastern coast of the US throughout the weekend. Gale force winds, storm surge, and rainfall from four to eight inches are likely to reach the Mid-Atlantic coast by Sunday evening. Some are predicting that Sandy will make landfall in Delaware on Tuesday, and Maine, New Jersey, and Connecticut have joined North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania and New York in declaring a state of emergency. According to the NY Daily News, city officials are considering evacuating 375,000 New Yorkers and three to six feet of water could be seen in subways in a worst cast scenario. AccuWeather senior meteorologist Henry Margusity warned MarketWatch, "There will be school closures, travel will be messed up for days and major airports will be closed. This could be a disaster of biblical proportions - a multi-billion dollar disaster."
Some have taken to Twitter to share how they are preparing:
UPDATE 2, 2:45 p.m. EDT, Friday, October 26: The latest weather models show Sandy on a collision course with the mid-Atlantic and Northeast with 50 million people in its projected path. The Capitol Weather Gang at the Washington Post is predicting a one-in-three chance of a direct hit on New York City, in which case city officials may call for evacuations as a storm surge could flood parts of Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Many are freaking out about this storm. On his blog, Accuweather meterologist Mike Smith quoted a "prominent National Weather Service meteorologist" as saying: I've never seen anything like this and I'm at a loss for expletives to describe what this storm could do.
The National Hurricane Center says Sandy is moving slowly due north at about six mph with wind speeds of up to 80 mph and are calling the storm a hybrid with tropical characteristics. Eric Holthaus, contributing meteorologist at the Wall Street Journal, said a midwestern snow storm is currently generating over the Great Lakes and will pull the hurricane inland. The full moon on Monday could play a role in coastal flooding, bringing higher tides. He said a direct strike on New York City might actually be a better scenario than if the storm hits in Southern Jersey as it is currently forecasted to do. Coastal flooding could bring a storm surge between six to 10 feet in the city in a worst-case scenario, he said.
The financial markets, utilities, and the tourism industry are also bracing for impact with storm damage estimates already predicted at upwards of $1 billion.
UPDATE 1, 1:10 p.m. EDT Friday, October 26: During a teleconference call on Friday morning, James Franklin, branch chief of NOAA's National Hurricane Center, predicted that the coastline from Florida up through through North Carolina will experience peripheral impacts from Sandy through Sunday, and that the storm will move north to Virginia through New England Monday through Wednesday. The expectation is that the storm will move slowly and there will be two or three days of impacts for many people. According to Dr. Louis Uccellini, director of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction, the West Virginia and Appalachian area could potentially get one to two feet of snow, and there is likely a risk of river flooding in Delaware and Pennsylvania. New York City may experience tropical storm force winds as well as flash flooding. "Someone is going to get a significant surge event out of this, much broader than Irene," said Franklin.
It's possible, according to AccuWeather. They suspect that as the storm batters the east coast at the end of this week and into next week, early voting may seem less appealing to those planning on heading to the polls. Several of the states that might be hit by the storm, such as Florida, Maryland, D.C., Vermont, and Maine, allow for in-person early voting. According to AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno, "The worst case scenario is that if this storm does go up into New England...we could see lots of power outages, we could see flooding. That could have an impact even a week later, depending on how bad the storm is." A recent survey conducted by the Weather Channel showed that 35 percent of undecided likely voters would be less inclined to head to the polls if there is bad weather on Election Day.
Isn't it a little late in the year for a hurricane?
Possibly. NOAA scientists have shied away from blaming human activities and climate change outright on the more active hurricane seasons in recent years. However, they do say that anthropogenic warming by the end of the 21st century will likely cause hurricanes globally to be more intense on average.Forecasters have also said warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures and wind patterns that favor storm formation mean chances are higher for an above-normal season.
Republicans may have taken to hating the Fed in recent years, but University of Michigan political scientist William Clark tells us today that the Fed sure loves Republicans. In every single presidential term over the last five decades, interest rates have risen between the beginning and end of Democratic administrations and dropped during Republican administrations:
This is actually even more sinister than it looks. Clark says that, even after controlling for macroeconomic conditions, it appears that "as elections draw near, the Fed adopts a looser monetary policy when Republicans control the White House." In this, he's echoing Jamie Galbraith, who wrote a paper in 2007 showing exactly the same thing. In fact, he demonstrated that the Fed systematically intervenes during election years, but in opposite directions depending on which party holds the White House. Controlling for economic conditions, the Fed loosens more than expected when Republicans are seeking reelection and tightens more than expected when a Democrat is seeking reelection.
Of course, this might all just be a big coincidence. I report, you decide.
POSTSCRIPT: Fairness dictates that I acknowledge Ben Bernanke as the exception to this rule. He couldn't actually lower interest rates for Barack Obama, since rates were already near zero when he took office, but Bernanke has certainly engaged in several rounds of nontraditional monetary easing during Obama's term.
Of course, fairness also requires me to acknowledge that Republicans have screamed blue murder about this every step of the way, because they're bound and determined to oppose anything that might help the economy during a Democratic administration.
Via Twitter, I've gotten a fair amount of pushback on my post this morning titled "How Twitter Is Ruining Political Journalism." I blame my editors. They spent years trying to get me to write less boring headlines, and their nagging finally worked! But sometimes it leads me astray. Just for the record, then:
The headline was hyperbolic. Obviously Twitter has had both positive and negative effects on political journalism.
One of those positive effects is that readers get lots of instant reporting from journalists.
One of the negative effects is that journalists now feel like they have to spew out mountains of instant reporting to stay in business.
Another positive effect is that chattering between reporters is now more public than before. If you're going to chatter, the rest of us might as well get to hear it.
But a negative effect is that reporters now chatter more than ever. In the past, there really were some limitations on this dictated by physical circumstances.
Debate coverage is an extreme case. Reporters should actively want to develop their own opinions about the candidates' performances. They should actively want to avoid letting the rest of the herd influence them. That's just common sense. After they've done that and put their thoughts down on paper, they'll want to get reactions from various folks who have campaign roles, but even then there's no real reason they should be interested in reactions from other reporters. There's no reason to be afraid of having a different take than everyone else.
If you're covering a riot or a burning building, that's different. Twitter can be an important part of keeping abreast of what's going on. But political debates are different. Twitter may be fun, but doing your job comes first. Turn it off until the debate is over.
Feel like you're undersaturated with campaign advertising? Need even more exposure to the slogans and smiling faces of our two major presidential contenders? When Alexey Komissarouk, a Bay Area programmer, wanted to add to the growing list of apps for political junkies, he designed a program that can give voters a bit more control over the web ads they see.
This week he and a few friends launched Hotspot the Vote, which harnesses Android devices to "Obamify" or "Romnify" WiFi routers so browsers will replace every ad (including ads for Amazon, Etsy, OkCupid, or whatever else you might normally see, along with ads for other politicians) with ads for your candidate.
"It's like putting up a campaign poster in your living room," he said. And while you might apprecitate being reminded of which candidate you're rooting for with each and every banner ad, the program packs a bigger punch when installed on public routers: Komissarouk is pitching the tool to coffee shops and other spaces with open internet connections. It's Obama or nothing at Philadelphia's Trolley Car Diner, a 1950s-style eatery that owner Ken Weinstein said "Obamified" its free WiFi yesterday.
"We're in a very liberal community," Weinstein said. "Our choice to Obamify reflects our clientele."
Still, Weinstein said the change didn't equate to an official Trolley Car Diner endorsement of the incumbent, and rejected the suggestion that limiting online content for his patrons was a form of censorship: "They have a choice about whether to eat here, and about whether to sign in to our WiFi. As long as we're providing it for free, I think that's reasonable."
The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf has posted a video of an exchange from a few days ago involving former Obama press secretary (and current Obama campaign adviser) Robert Gibbs, who was asked about the death of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year old son of the late radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Like his father, the younger al-Awlaki was killed in a drone strike in Yemen. "I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children," Gibbs said, suggesting the son somehow deserved his death because of the sins of the father. "I don't think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business." Watch:
As Friedersdorf notes, the al-Awlakis were not killed together—Abdulrahman was killed weeks later in a subsequent drone strike, and as Esquire's Tom Junod wrote, he hadn't seen his father in two years. That Gibbs appears to believe they were killed together changes the meaning a little bit, since it suggests he wasn't aware that he was justifying Abdulrahman's death weeks after the fact.
Still, the US government has never provided any evidence that the younger al-Awlaki was a terrorist or played an operational role in Al Qaeda, and it's an elementary moral precept that children are not responsible for the sins of their parents. It's one thing to argue that killing Anwar al-Awlaki was justified because of evidence he was part of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, (although one does not simply lose the constitutional right to due process as a US citizen by being abroad); it's another to justify the killing of a teenager based on decisions made by his father.
It's worth contrasting Gibbs' response with that of an anonymous administration official quoted in the Washington Post's recently published profile of White House counterterrorism adviser (and targeted killing czar) John Brennan. According to the Post, the official called the younger al-Awlaki's death "an outrageous mistake. . . . They were going after the guy sitting next to him."
Perhaps it's too much to expect an admission of error from a political spokesperson. But no one forced Gibbs to justify Abdulrahman al-Awlaki's death in such glib and callous terms.
There's been plenty of news lately about big companies urging their employees to vote in the 2012 presidential election and, in some cases, nudging those employees to vote for the GOP ticket. Executives at Westgate Resorts, ASG Software Solutions, and a handful of other businesses have even warned that an Obama vote could lead to layoffs. Romney himself, as In These Times reported, told business owners during a June conference call to "make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job."
Another CEO has joined the pro-Romney push. Last week, Brooks Smith, the CEO of Interactive Communications (also known as Incomm), the country's leading purveyor of prepaid gift cards and debit cards, forwarded a Romney campaign fundraising email to all of his employees. The email, ostensibly written by Romney, slams President Obama for irresponsibly running up the nation's debt and deficits. "We need to get serious about this before it's too late," the email says. "My plan for deficit reduction cuts and caps federal spending, balances the budget, and reduces our nation's debt—to put America on a path to prosperity."
A former Incomm employee forwarded Smith's message to Mother Jones, after receiving it from a current employee.
Incomm's website says it did nearly $10 billion in sales in 2009, and has one billion customers each week. Incomm's customers include Walmart, Best Buy, Target, and 7-Eleven.
Asked about the Romney email Smith circulated to his employees, an Incomm spokeswoman wrote in a statement that the CEO "neither shared any personal views nor suggested the employees take any specific action." She went on: "However, Mr. Smith feels the information he shares is important information for individuals to have when choosing their candidates. Of course, whom they vote for is their decision alone."
Jared Bernstein makes a point today that's worth repeating: Republicans have given a lot of love to the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan lately, but it turns out that we've already made a lot of the spending cuts in their plan. Here are the basic numbers:
Total discretionary spending cuts proposed: $2.1 trillion
Revenue increases proposed: $2.6 trillion
Discretionary spending cuts already passed in 2011: $1.5 trillion
What's left: $0.6 trillion in discretionary spending cuts and $2.6 trillion in tax increases
This doesn't count savings from interest on the debt, it doesn't count reduced war expenses, it doesn't count sequestration cuts scheduled for January 1, it doesn't include entitlement cuts, and it's not inflated by stimulus spending. These are apples-to-apples numbers on discretionary spending and revenue increases.
So we've already made pretty good progress on Bowles-Simpson's discretionary spending cuts. Add in interest reductions and war cuts and we've made even more. But we've made no progress at all on the Bowles-Simpson revenue increases. When does that part of the plan get started?