Vending machines are shown Monday, Feb. 26, 2007, at the University of Minnesota's Coffman Union in Minneapolis. Some state lawmakers want to repeal taxes on milk, fruit and other nutritious items sold in vending machines in Minnesota. Vending machine items like snacks, milk and bottled water, sold tax-free in convenience stores, are taxed at Minnesota's 6.5 percent sales tax. ASSOCIATED PRESS

NOT-SO-RAMPANT FRAUD

Want to know what other phenomenons are more common than voter impersonation? There's a Twitter feed for that. @VotingFraud tells us that more people die annually from encounters with vending machines than have committed in-person voter fraud since 2000. News21, a collaboration of college-age journalists, reviewed 2,068 suspected instances of voter fraud since 2000 and turned up 10 cases of voter impersonation, the fraud that voter-ID laws would prevent. Critics say that such laws, passed recently in several states, could potentially disenfranchise thousands of voters — mostly minorities, students, and the elderly.

Michael Allen, a recent Bard College graduate who describes himself as "definitely liberal," said he created the feed because he worries that many citizens overestimate the threat of voter fraud. Even if there were thousands of cases, he said, the phenomenon would still be insignificant compared with the total number of ballots cast. As one tweet puts it, "You are more likely to be struck by lightning this year than to have committed in-person voter fraud in the last 12 years." (See a response from the Republican National Lawyers Association.)

Ben Schreckinger

LESSONS CONGRESS CAN LEARN FROM 11-YEAR-OLDS

President Obama was criticized for spending more of his time this week in New York City with the ladies of The View than negotiating with other world leaders. But the president did manage to slip in a little advice to an obstreperous Congress while he was chatting on the show's sofa. Asked about 11-year-old Sasha's basketball team, Obama said he will continue to coach the girls and that, in fact, he hoped Congress would learn something from them. "They play like a team. Congress could take some lessons from the Vipers.... They pass the ball; they high-five each other."

The Obamas also signaled that the first lady will not be jumping into her own political career some day. "Michelle would be terrific," the president said, but he doubted that she is "temperamentally" suited for the job. Totally agreeing, his spouse added, "It takes a lot of patience to be the president of the United States, and I'm not that patient."

George E. Condon Jr.

MURMURS

Slow Down The District of Columbia Taxicab Commission is planning a crackdown on start-up sedan service company Uber, which dispatches rides via a smartphone app. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski doesn't get a vote on the issue, but he brought it up in a recent policy speech. "There's a debate right now in Washington about rules that could discourage the innovative on-demand car service company Uber," he said. "Not hard to guess which side I'm on — I'm on the side of innovation."

Red-Handed Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, vented his frustrations this week over reports that the Federal Trade Commission settled with several rent-to-own computer companies after they were caught stealing customers' digital information and even filming them in their homes. "I was dumbfounded when I heard about this case," Barton said. "This is preposterous and must come to an end."

Spin Cycle With campaigns, as with the economy, pessimism can lead to a self-reinforcing downward spiral. It is a strategic necessity, then, for the Romney campaign to radiate positive thinking. Thus we have Political Director Rich Beeson talking about how outmanned Romney operations in key states are contacting as many voters as Obama's masses; how the campaign's private polling is more credible — oh, and much closer — than public polls.

NOT-SO-RAMPANT FRAUD

Want to know what other phenomenons are more common than voter impersonation? There's a Twitter feed for that. @VotingFraud tells us that more people die annually from encounters with vending machines than have committed in-person voter fraud since 2000. News21, a collaboration of college-age journalists, reviewed 2,068 suspected instances of voter fraud since 2000 and turned up 10 cases of voter impersonation, the fraud that voter-ID laws would prevent. Critics say that such laws, passed recently in several states, could potentially disenfranchise thousands of voters — mostly minorities, students, and the elderly.

Michael Allen, a recent Bard College graduate who describes himself as "definitely liberal," said he created the feed because he worries that many citizens overestimate the threat of voter fraud. Even if there were thousands of cases, he said, the phenomenon would still be insignificant compared with the total number of ballots cast. As one tweet puts it, "You are more likely to be struck by lightning this year than to have committed in-person voter fraud in the last 12 years." (See a response from the Republican National Lawyers Association.)

Ben Schreckinger

LESSONS CONGRESS CAN LEARN FROM 11-YEAR-OLDS

President Obama was criticized for spending more of his time this week in New York City with the ladies of The View than negotiating with other world leaders. But the president did manage to slip in a little advice to an obstreperous Congress while he was chatting on the show's sofa. Asked about 11-year-old Sasha's basketball team, Obama said he will continue to coach the girls and that, in fact, he hoped Congress would learn something from them. "They play like a team. Congress could take some lessons from the Vipers.... They pass the ball; they high-five each other."

The Obamas also signaled that the first lady will not be jumping into her own political career some day. "Michelle would be terrific," the president said, but he doubted that she is "temperamentally" suited for the job. Totally agreeing, his spouse added, "It takes a lot of patience to be the president of the United States, and I'm not that patient."

George E. Condon Jr.

MURMURS

Slow Down The District of Columbia Taxicab Commission is planning a crackdown on start-up sedan service company Uber, which dispatches rides via a smartphone app. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski doesn't get a vote on the issue, but he brought it up in a recent policy speech. "There's a debate right now in Washington about rules that could discourage the innovative on-demand car service company Uber," he said. "Not hard to guess which side I'm on — I'm on the side of innovation."

Red-Handed Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, vented his frustrations this week over reports that the Federal Trade Commission settled with several rent-to-own computer companies after they were caught stealing customers' digital information and even filming them in their homes. "I was dumbfounded when I heard about this case," Barton said. "This is preposterous and must come to an end."

Spin Cycle With campaigns, as with the economy, pessimism can lead to a self-reinforcing downward spiral. It is a strategic necessity, then, for the Romney campaign to radiate positive thinking. Thus we have Political Director Rich Beeson talking about how outmanned Romney operations in key states are contacting as many voters as Obama's masses; how the campaign's private polling is more credible — oh, and much closer — than public polls.

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