Happy HUMP day, Everybody! Wishing on a STAR… “In the game of love, you reap what you sow.”
LOL I spent all evening yesterday cleaning for house guest arriving tonight.
Happy HUMP day, Everybody! Wishing on a STAR… “In the game of love, you reap what you sow.”
LOL I spent all evening yesterday cleaning for house guest arriving tonight.
Even though 3Chics Politico is written and curated by three women: Ametia, Rikyrah, and SouthernGirl2, I must nominate this as one of the most engaging blogs I've found. Devoted to politics and culture, these three shine a light on contemporary life with humor and spirit.
|rikyrah on Happy Memorial Day|
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|rikyrah on Weekend Open Thread|
October 19, 2011 3:00 PM
Failing to keep up with current events
By Steve Benen
When it comes to Mitt Romney’s truth-challenged claims, most are fairly predictable. I can usually even understand why Romney thinks he can get away with the falsehoods — they rely on the public being easily confused about subjects they may not fully understand.
But this claim during last night’s debate stood out as odd, even for Romney.
Americans are hurting across this country, and the president’s out there campaigning. Why isn’t he governing? He doesn’t — he doesn’t have a jobs plan even now.”
There are a couple of ways to approach this, including the rationale for why President Obama is taking his message to the public. But let’s not make this more complicated than it needs to be — Mitt Romney doesn’t think the president has a jobs plan?
Look, I realize Romney’s busy, and keeping up on current events may be difficult, but Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress seven weeks ago, and at the time, presented a jobs plan. The whole thing has been online ever since. It’s been scrutinized, analyzed, and subjected to CBO scoring. It’s been debated; it’s been the subject of advertising; and it’s been voted on in the Senate.
How, exactly, did Romney miss all of this?
If Romney wants to criticize the American Jobs Act, fine. If he wants to recommend an alternative, great. But when Romney says the president is “out there campaigning,” does he not realize Obama “out there” giving speeches and rallying support for his specific jobs plan?
Hell, Romney has even endorsed several of the provisions within the president’s jobs plan.
And now Romney would have voters believe the president “doesn’t have a jobs plan even now”? How foolish does he think Americans are?
The 8 Biggest Lies Uttered During The CNN Las Vegas GOP Debate
The Republicans got together for another debate in Las Vegas tonight, and here are the eight biggest and most blatant lies uttered during the CNN debate.
1). Herman Cain claims his 9-9-9 plan doesn’t raise taxes on those who make the least.
The Truth: The Citizens for Tax Justice did an analysis of Herman Cain’s plan that found that 9-9-9 would give the 1% wealthiest Americans a tax break, and it would raise taxes on the poorest 60% by $2,000. A study of Cain’s plan by the Tax Policy Center found that taxes would go down only for those who make over $200,000 a year.
2). CNN and Michele Bachmann Claim 47% of Americans Don’t Pay Taxes
Bachmann said that every American should pay taxes, even if it is just a dollar. The problem is that the idea that 47% of Americans don’t pay taxes is a myth.
The Truth: Because of high unemployment, and the Obama tax credits, 51% of Americans paid no federal income taxes in 2009. This statistic was limited to federal income taxes for one year. The actual number of Americans who pay no taxes of any kind is only 14%, and this group mainly consists of the elderly and the disabled.
3). Michele Bachmann’s Claim that even the Obama administration wants to repeal ObamaCare.
The Truth: The Hill reported yesterday, “President Obama is against repealing the health law’s long-term-care CLASS Act and might veto Republican efforts to do so, an administration official tells The Hill, despite the government’s announcement Friday that the program was dead in the water. “We do not support repeal,” the official said Monday. ‘Repealing the CLASS Act isn’t necessary or productive. What we should be doing is working together to address the long-term care challenges we face in this country.’
4). Mitt Romney’s claim that he never, “hired an illegal.”
The Truth: Romney did hire illegal immigrants. PolitiFact graded Romney’s claim that he never hired illegal immigrants as mostly false in 2007, “Reporters tracked down three former landscapers who claimed to have been in the United States illegally when they worked on Romney’s lawn. One of the workers, Rene Alvarez Rosales, said he worked for Romney eight years landscaping his lawn, occasionally getting a “buenos dias” from Romney himself. Others told the Globe of casual encounters with Romney over the years, during which he had never inquired about their status. The Globe said Romney, for an entire decade, used a landscaping company that relied on illegal Guatemalan immigrants. Employees at the company, Community Lawn Service with a Heart, said its owner hadn’t asked them to provide documents showing their immigration status.”
5. Rick Perry claimed Texas has one of the best healthcare systems in the world.
The Truth: According to the Commonwealth Fund, Texas ranked 46th in the United States in healthcare. Forget the world; Texas has one of the worst healthcare systems in the United States.
6). Mitt Romney claimed that he never supported TARP.
The Truth: Back in March 2009 Romney told James Pethokoukis of Reuters, “The TARP program, while not transparent and not having been used as wisely it should have been, was nevertheless necessary to keep banks from collapsing in a cascade of failures. You cannot have a free economy and free market if there is not a financial system. … The TARP program was designed to keep the financial system going, to keep money circulating in the economy, without which the entire economy stops and you would really have an economic collapse.”
7). Mitt Romney’s charge that Obama doesn’t have a jobs plan.
The Truth: Obama’s plan is called The American Jobs Act. It would create 1.9 million new jobs, and unlike Romney’s bullet point smoke an mirror economic plan. Mark Zandi of Moody’s estimated that Obama’s plan would create 2 million new jobs.
8). Rick Santorum claimed Iran was not a terrorist nation when Reagan traded arms for hostages.
The Truth: Iran was added to list of states that sponsor terrorism in January 1984. The first arms for hostages transaction with Iran occurred on August 20, 1985.
Winners and Losers:
1). Mitt Romney – Rick Perry tried to challenge Romney, but he was the only one. Until the rest of the GOP jumps on Romney, he will continue to be the lukewarm unwanted leader of the GOP field.
2). Ron Paul- Rep. Paul had a strong debate tonight. This format kept him away from his Fed obsession, and he gave a great answer about not blaming the victim and supporting the Occupy Wall Street protests. This was a better-rounded and stronger performance from Paul.
3). Rick Santorum – The former PA senator who has the lowest poll numbers of any of the candidates on the stage got lots more airtime without Huntsman on the stage. Santorum knows he isn’t going to win so he is sitting on the sidelines taking shots at the frontrunners. Somebody better let Roger Ailes know that Santorum is using these debates to put together a new clip reel to use in his soon to be commencing negotiations with Fox News.
1). Herman Cain- Welcome to frontrunner status, Herb. The very first question of the debate was about Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, and all of his opponents piled on and destroyed him from every possible angle. Heck, the words regressive tax we spoken on a Republican stage while taking about a flat tax plan. On other issues Cain was pretty much invisible. Herman Cain has become the 2011 GOP version of Urkel, and 9-9-9 has replaced, “Did I do that?” as quite possibly the most annoying catch phrase ever.
2). Rick Perry- The Texas Governor went the whole back to 2007 to try to attack Mitt Romney for, “hiring illegals.” The audience wasn’t with Perry, and he foreshadowed that he is desperate and ready to go negative with personal attacks against the frontrunner.
3). Michele Bachmann- She brought the hyperbole and the crazy tonight. Her campaign is dead in the water, and she is now using the campaign and these debates as a personal publicity tour.
4). Newt Gingrich- The more Newt talks in these debates, the more he reveals himself to be an intellectual fraud. For a supposed ideas man, Gingrich offers no original ideas and spends most of airtime going for cheap audience applause lines.
TRANSLATION: GOP DEBATE ON CNN WITH PRETTY BOY COOPER=MAJOR FAIL
BREAKING: Pat Buchanan Still a Bigot
Wed Oct 19th, 2011 at 02:42:38 PM EST
It’s a shame that Pat Buchanan doesn’t understand the history of the Irish in this country. It’s almost weird how he manages to conflate “Irish” and “white” and “Catholicism” and “Christianity.” His people ween’t really considered white when they got here, and Catholics suffered horrible discrimination in this country until fairly recently. Not ten miles from where I live is a mass grave of over fifty Irish railroad workers who died of cholera in 1832. They were denied medical care and thrown in a ditch. No funerals. No death certificates. No acknowledgment it even happened until 1970.
The America of Pat Buchanan’s imagination never existed. And, I wonder, how long before MSNBC has a moment of conscience and stops putting this bigot on teevee? Here is Joan Walsh, reviewing Pat Buchanan’s new book Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?:
The book’s most pernicious chapters seek to “prove” white superiority and black and Latino inferiority, in the U.S. and worldwide. And yet Buchanan’s cult of meritocracy can’t quite let in the information that in fact Asian-Americans are out-performing European-Americans in high schools and universities throughout America, and Asian-American family income is growing faster than that of whites. He appears to blame affirmative action for the high number of Asian and Jewish students in Ivy League schools, when in fact both groups have proven that admissions directors over the years have found shady ways to cap their enrollment despite their high achievement. He acknowledges a “white-Asian” elite in California, which he charges is being overtaxed by a lazy, underachieving black-Latino plurality supported by white liberals. But mostly he seems to see Asian-American achievement as just another affirmative action plot to take America away from white Christians. In Obama’s America, “the white working and middle class is being made to pay disproportionately for America’s past sins,” he writes. Eventually, “there is no doubt as to who will be running the country and who will be riding in the back of the bus.”
Seriously. It’s long past time for MSNBC to show some respect for their non-white viewers, fold up Pat Buchanan’s Green Room cot, and show him the door.
: Public unsettled on Obama challenger
Americans have yet to find a Republican they’d clearly prefer over President Barack Obama, although half say the president does not deserve re-election.
Among Republicans, the desire to oust Obama is clear, according to a new AP-GfK poll. But it has not resolved divisions over the choice of a nominee. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is reasonably popular, but he has not pulled away from the field
Former pizza company executive Herman Cain runs close to Romney as the candidate Republicans would most like to see on the ballot, but many Republicans are reluctant to back a man who has never held office. Texas Gov. Rick Perry lags in the poll, which was conducted before Tuesday night’s combative debate in Las Vegas.
In that two-hour forum, several candidates sharply criticized Cain’s tax proposals, and a newly energized Perry hit Romney hard on immigration.
In the poll, Romney was the choice of 30 percent of Republicans, with Cain about even at 26 percent. Perry was preferred by 13 percent, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas topped the list of those in single digits.
Among all adults surveyed, half said Obama should not be re-elected, and 46 percent said he should be. That continues his gradual slide since May.
When all adults are asked about hypothetical head-to-head matchups, Obama and Romney run almost even, 48 percent for Obama to 45 percent. Obama holds a narrow edge over Cain, 49 percent to 43 percent. He leads Perry, 51 percent to 42 percent.
Luis Calderon of El Monte, Calif., exemplifies those unhappy with Obama but not ready to dump him.
“Even though I criticize him, I still want him to win,” said Calderon, 56, a self-employed handyman who was laid off by an oil company three years ago. Obama “has to get down to business, forget about promises, just do it, create jobs,” Calderon said. “But in order to create jobs, he has to be harder on the Republicans.”
A Democrat, Calderon said Romney “is the one that may do a little dent on Obama.”
Romney spent four years as Massachusetts governor, and he ran for president in 2008. Cain is the only candidate who has never held elected office, which might present some problems. Americans have no recent history of electing inexperienced politicians as president except war hero Dwight Eisenhower.
Of the Republicans polled, about four in 10 say they’re less inclined to vote for someone who has never been elected to public office. That’s far more than say they are disinclined to vote for a Mormon, a woman or a black candidate.
Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman are Mormons. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is the only woman in the race. Cain is black.
Nineteen percent of Republicans, and 21 percent of all adults, say they are less likely to vote for someone who is a Mormon. Anne Fish, a Republican and retired teacher from Columbus, Ohio, is among them. Fish, 73, said she would not support Romney “because he is not a Christian.”
Axelrod: Romney has ‘no core’
Weighing in after the Republican debate, David Axlerod slammed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Wednesday as having “no core to him.”
“He has been bumping along with a quarter of the vote in the Republican primary and there seems to be resistance to him… I think there is a sense there is no core to him,” said Axelrod on CBS’ Early Show.
Axelrod said Romney had poor conservative credentials and labeled him as a flip-flopper.
“We modeled our health care program largely on what he did in Massachusetts, and now he says it was never intended to be a model for the nation. In 2007, he said this will be a model… and time and time again, Governor Romney switches from one position to another apparently because he is running for office,” Axelrod said.
While he reserved most of his criticism for Romney, Axlerod also took a swing at Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
“If you were an American worried about jobs or how we restore security for the middle class, there wasn’t much confidence [coming from the debate Tuesday],” said Axelrod. “Rick Perry thinks we can drill to prosperity and Mitt Romney thinks we need faster foreclosures.”
Axelrod also defended President Obama from criticism that his jobs bill bus tour was campaigning.
“Sixty-three percent of the American people support the American Jobs Act,” said Axelrod. “They want action now to put people back to work and they think that the proposals the president has put forward will work. What he wants to do is enlist the American people to talk to their lawmakers and to talk to the folks on Capitol Hill and tell them to act.”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/66351.html#ixzz1bFsfUzcg
October 19, 2011 2:15 PM
By Steve Benen
I suspect two hours of debate moderation isn’t easy, so I’m inclined to cut CNN’s Anderson Cooper some slack for last night’s less than stellar moments. At one point, for example, he asked Herman Cain, “Are either Governor Perry or Governor Romney, are they the ones who should be president?” That’s not a good question.
But some errors are more problematic than others. Zachary Pleat flagged an important misstep in this question to Michele Bachmann:
“[Y]ou said in the last debate that everyone should pay something. Does that mean that you would raise taxes on the 47 percent of Americans who currently don’t pay taxes?”
The question is based on a false assumption. It’s popular in Republican circles and on Fox News — and Cooper may have slipped up because he’s heard the bogus line so many times — but the truth matters here.
The notion that 47 percent of Americans currently don’t pay taxes is just wrong. In case anyone’s forgotten, millions of Americans may be exempt from federal income taxes, but they still pay sales taxes, state taxes, local taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare/Medicaid taxes, and in many instances, property taxes. It’s not as if these folks are getting away with something — the existing tax structure leaves them out of the income tax system because they don’t make enough money to qualify. Some are students, some are unemployed, and many are retirees who can’t earn an income because they’re no longer in the workforce.
I’m hoping Cooper just misspoke, meant to add the word “income” to his question, and didn’t actually intend to endorse the bogus Republican talking point. Either way, it warrants a correction.
Meep Meep Watch
I have to say that my impressions of the GOP debates this fall and of Obama’s Truman strategy of running against an obstructionist Congress are beginning to gel around a strategic advantage for the president. Yes, with the sputtering of his core narrative of recovery, he ran aground after the debt ceiling fiasco and the credit rating downgrade. But his newly peppy combative stance – embraced only after post-partisanship failed on the rocks of Cantor – is beginning to yield dividends. Some provisional and early data:
An ABC/Washington Post poll this month saw Obama enjoying enormous gains across the board on the question of whether voters trust the president or Republicans in Congress more to create jobs. In September, 37 percent of independents said Obama, while 42 percent said Republicans. A month later, the poll was much better for the president, with 44 percent saying they trust Obama more and only 31 percent favoring the GOP. The new discipline is working with Democrats, too. After almost three years of begging Obama to drive home a consistent message on jobs, Democrats are starting to rally behind the president. Sixty-nine percent of Democrats in the ABC/Post poll trusted Obama on jobs in September. That number is now up to 79 percent.
also believe that the GOP debates have only underlined how unserious the GOP currently is. Only Romney looks even close to being a credible presidential contender – and yet it is also clear that he does not represent the real soul of the party. But those who do – Perry, Cain, Bachmann – have come across as extremists or blatherers or entertainers. All you hear are stern demands for an end to Obamacare – which hasn’t even been put in place yet – and vague promises to cut taxes and spending. Not too specific on jobs, are they? And while Romney is an accomplished politician, he has an obvious and huge vulnerability. In an era of populism and anti-corporate sentiment, he seems to embody what so many now suspect. If he wins, he could turn the incumbent once again into an insurgent. At least, that’s the danger.
And, if you haven’t noticed, Obama knows how to campaign.
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama showed some affection in public on Wednesday, making a number of flirtatious remarks at a military event.
“I never get to do anything with my husband. I haven’t seen him in three days. This is a nice date!” the first lady told the crowd at Joint Base Langley Eustis in Hampton, Va., before inviting the president to take the stage.
She added, “You’re lookin’ good!”
In the rare joint appearance, the president was also ready to serenade his wife, beginning his 15-minute speech with, “I hate following Michelle. She’s so good. How lucky am I to be married to Michelle Obama?”
He even had some advice for the single men in the audience. “The whole goal is to marry up. To try to improve your gene pool. And we’re lucky to have her as first lady of the United States, I think,” he said.
Before concluding his speech, the president paid one more tribute to his wife, thanking her and second lady Jill Biden for the work they do for military families and veterans.
“She does all this and she looks cute,” he said.
19, 2011 12:45 PM
Medicare vouchers in 2013?
By Steve Benen
Several months ago, the House Republican budget plan, crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) generated a national firestorm for good reason. Among its many controversial provisions was a radical plan to force seniors out of Medicare and into a private voucher system. When nearly every Republican in the House and Senate endorsed the proposal, it instantly became the basis for much of the Democratic strategy in 2012.
At least at the congressional level, that is. Among GOP presidential candidates, Ryan’s radical approach to Medicare had a certain radioactive quality that gave would-be presidents pause — they couldn’t denounce the plan without infuriating conservatives, but they couldn’t endorse it without creating a major general-election vulnerability for themselves.
Mitt Romney, known for being on every side of every issue, spent quite a bit of time dodging questions about the Ryan plan in the Spring, except in one key instance. In February, asked about the far-right agenda, Romney praised Ryan and said, “Anyone who has read my book knows that we are on the same page.”
This week, Brian Beutler notes, Romney went even further.
Mitt Romney caught a lot of heat Tuesday for his comments about foreclosures. But in the same interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal, he outlined a plan for the country’s future that would please Paul Ryan, and conservatives hell bent on rolling back the social safety net.
His proposal for Medicare, which he and other Republicans have nodded at in the past, would mimic the GOP budget plan. It would provide future seniors vouchers to buy private insurance, while at the same time preserving traditional Medicare as an option. This type of approach has been adopted by one independent fiscal commission this year (the Domenici-Rivlin proposal), but it dates back to the 1990s when then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich embraced it as a way to put traditional Medicare on the path to extinction — or as he put it to “wither on the vine and die.”
“You have a program like Paul Ryan has proposed which says we’re going to give people vouchers to let them chose among private plans,” Romney said. “I think that has a good deal of merit. I would not at the same time want to remove the option from people to have standard Medicare. But I would probably move toward a more managed care approach even in Medicare itself.”
With subtle nuances, this clearly puts Romney in line with Paul Ryan’s radical approach — and given how wildly unpopular the Ryan plan is, Romney’s comments are music to the ears of Democrats.
Remember, in context, Romney talked up Medicare vouchers in the context of cost savings, but this is misleading — the vouchers wouldn’t actually lower health care costs, they would simply push the burden from the Medicare program onto seniors and their families.
Between this and Romney’s support for Social Security privatization, the Obama campaign’s strategy for winning Florida just became a little clearer.
October 19, 2011 11:30 AM
Reid hurts Senate GOP’s feelings
By Steve Benen
A week ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), for the first time, broached a sensitive subject, suggesting his Republican colleagues may be trying to sabotage the economy on purpose for political gain. “Republicans think that if the economy improves, it might help President Obama,” he said. “So they root for the economy to fail and oppose every effort to improve it.”
Seven days later, the other side of the aisle is still grumbling about it.
The accusations from the blunt Nevada Democrat have irritated Republicans, and complicated Reid’s effort to hold a bipartisan meeting with senators in the near future.
In the Senate, where lawmakers routinely address their adversaries as “my friend,” Reid’s attack on GOP motives is a jarring break from traditional decorum.
Well, it couldn’t have been that jarring. For one thing, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said the same thing, even more explicitly, many times, as have a wide variety of prominent pundits and political observers. For another, it took a week for The Hill to even mention it.
To his credit, Reid did not walk back the comments, and an aide told The Hill, “Sen. Reid speaks his mind.” Indeed, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin backed Reid up, asking, “Since the Republicans are not offering any jobs plan with any credibility to it, you have to say to them: ‘Do you really care?’ “
The article includes no quotes or even paraphrases from any Republican senators, probably because they still hope to avoid a larger debate over whether or not the GOP is actively involved in a campaign to deliberately undermine the economy.
But if Senate Republicans are going to grumble behind the scenes about Reid hurting their feelings, they should be prepared to address the underlying issues. Why have Republicans rejected every popular jobs proposal with bipartisan ideas? Why did the GOP unveil an alternative jobs plan that, according to independent analyses, wouldn’t create jobs?
Given recent events — the debt-ceiling scandal, the GOP-driven downgrade, the Republican rejection of any efforts to boost the economy, the GOP leadership’s letter to Bernanke pleading with him to let the economy suffer, the repeated threats of government shutdowns, the death of the American Jobs Act, Republican opposition to every worthwhile component within the White House’s jobs bill — is it really that surprising that the sabotage question would come up from time to time?
I can understand why the subject matter would offend GOP officials. But if they want to put these suspicions about their motives to rest, perhaps Republicans could explain their recklessness and disregard for the nation’s interests.
Bishop Eddie Long Accusers Dumped by Attorneys For Violating Confidentiality Clause
Attorney Brenda Bernstein has dropped the accusers of Bishop Eddie Long as clients because they couldn’t remain quiet. Jamal Parris, Spencer LaGrande and Centino Kemp have been recently challenged by Long’s attorneys, who say that they plan to collect “not less than $900,000″ after the men chose to violate the confidentiality clause of their settlement.
Long’s attorneys are furious that the bishop’s accusers participated in interviews with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, WSB-TV, CNN and even Twitter. Kemp actually tweeted to Long that ”I was literally your hooker,” and later tweeted “why that’s all I want to no.”
The attorneys are seeking $300,000 per violation.
Most of us know the story of Bishop Eddie Long, so there is no reason to repeat it all. Effectively, Long was accused by young men in his care of coercing them into performing sexual favors in exchange for gifts, trips, and other enticements. Most interesting about the case is that in spite of the fact that Long once promised to make the truth public, he reneged on his congregation by enforcing a strict confidentiality clause during the settlement proceedings.
I have no idea why the young men in this case have chosen to violate the clause. But given that they all violated it together, I suspect that either a) they’ve been given other financial incentives to do so, like a lucrative book deal, or b) they simply cannot keep this story to themselves. Either way, it appears that the members of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church are going to have access to at least one version of the truths that has been denied by their very own pastor. Once these young men raise the stakes by telling their own story, Bishop Long (as in the game of poker) has two choices: To retort with his own version of the facts or fold his hand and quietly walk away.
When it’s all said and done, the “little ones” will lead the congregation, and the truth may set Eddie Long free. The same can be said for those in the congregation who may be consciously choosing to live in denial of the fact that their pastor may be a pedophile. I’m not here to say that any of us knows what happened behind closed doors, but when one looks at the evidence, it’s hard to imagine that there haven’t been some unholy things done to these boys.
When a bunch of young men are willing to give up hundreds of thousands of dollars to tell their story, there is a reason that story must be told. Personally, I believe the boys are telling the truth.
October 19, 2011 10:45 AM
‘Moderates’ to help GOP kill teachers’, first responders’ jobs
By Steve Benen
Last week, Senate Republicans stood together to kill the American Jobs Act, refusing to even let the chamber debate the bill. The next part of the jobs fight should be a little easier, but it won’t be.
Phase Two in the Democratic plan is a $35 billion proposal to save or create roughly 400,000 jobs for teachers, cops, and fire fighters. It would be fully paid for, financed through a slight increase on taxes on millionaires and billionaires.
With the American mainstream desperate to see Congress act on job creation, who in their right mind would oppose such an idea? By some preliminary measures, the answer appears to be, most of the Senate.
Several moderate Democrats and Republicans appear to be struggling to overcome “stimulus fatigue” setting in among voters back home and are withholding support for now — meaning the latest proposal is at risk of winning even less backing than the president’s signature economic bill, which fell nine votes shy of breaking a GOP-led filibuster last week.
“At some point — and my opinion is now — we’ve got to stop spending money we don’t have,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with Democrats. He told POLITICO he probably would vote to block the latest proposal from even moving forward for debate.
Money we don’t have? The bill is paid for. That’s the point. With a modest increase in taxes on millionaires and billionaires, we can save or create 400,000 jobs without increasing the deficit. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office found that the larger American Jobs Act, thanks to Democratic fiscal responsibility, would lower the deficit, not raise it.
I find it hard to even wrap my head around such remarkable stupidity. CNN asked Americans in a nationwide poll this week whether they’d support “providing federal money to state governments to allow them to hire teachers and first responders.” A whopping 75% supported the measure, making it the most popular idea for public investment of any proposed. Even 63% of self-identified Republicans approve of the spending.
And yet, here we are. The total number of Republicans willing to support this jobs measure is zero. Fearing that supporting a wildly popular idea might cause them electoral trouble, some “centrist” Democrats are preparing to balk, too.
This doesn’t make any sense.
I realize that in some circles, there’s a reflexive tendency to blame President Obama for, well, nearly everything. But this serves as a helpful reminder — the White House is pushing a sensible plan to address a brutal jobs crisis. Instead of acting, extremist congressional Republicans are still rejecting literally every idea of any value, and center-right Dems are still more comfortable cowering under the table in a fetal position, hoping the GOP isn’t too mean to them.
October 19, 2011 10:15 AM
The misguided attacks on foreign aid
By Steve Benen
Towards the end of last night’s debate, a voter raised a question that probably resonated with many viewers: “The American people are suffering in our country right now. Why do we continue to send foreign aid to other countries when we need all the help we can get for ourselves?”
Rick Perry quickly embraced the sentiment, not only endorsing cuts to foreign aid, but also questioning the value in helping fund the United Nations. Mitt Romney was asked the same question.
“Foreign aid has several elements. One of those elements is defense, is to make sure that we are able to have the defense resources we want in certain places of the world. That probably ought to fall under the Department of Defense budget rather than a foreign aid budget.
“Part of it is humanitarian aid around the world. I happen to think it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to borrow money from the Chinese to go give to another country for humanitarian aid. We ought to get the Chinese to take care of the people.”
Let that one rattle around in your brain for a moment. Mitt Romney believes the United States should no longer take the lead in international humanitarian relief — we should simply cede our leadership role to China.
Some may find this satisfying, in a know-nothing, knee-jerk sort of way. There’s polling data to suggest Americans believe 25 percent of the federal budget goes to foreign aid, so when asked where policymakers can cut spending, this is generally at the top of the list.
And then there’s reality: the foreign aid budget represents about 1 percent of all federal spending. In a time of humanitarian crises and global political uncertainty, it’s absolutely critical — and in our interests — for the United States to stay engaged in our “smart power” efforts and maximize our influence in the world.
Republicans appear to believe the opposite. Mitt Romney is eager to let China replace us in this area of global leadership.
This debate isn’t limited to rhetoric from misguided presidential candidates; it includes efforts from congressional Republicans who agree with Romney about these investments. The cuts the GOP has in mind “have raised the specter of deep cuts in food and medicine for Africa, in relief for disaster-affected places like Pakistan and Japan, in political and economic assistance for the new democracies of the Middle East, and even for the Peace Corps.”
The right’s hostility towards American global leadership never ceases to amaze me.
He’s all pride and no joy
Perry just doesn’t have it. Romney just made him his bitch.
The whole cowboy boots and big swinging Texas dick thing doesn’t work unless there’s a lot of “aw shucks” and “yes ma’am behind it”.
Romney is such a transparent asshole, though, that if Cain realizes that it’s dream about Tennessee and gets into the early states, I wonder if Romney can’t be beat.
Update. I hate Bachmann’s accent, I dig Perry’s though. Cain doesn’t have to drop every “g” goes he?
Update. This is so true:
When he’s talking, Ron Paul looks like a Disney character. Maybe something to do with Christmas or something.
Update. What happened to George Hamilton Beefheart? Is he even there?
Update. Okay, the fact we’ve got mostly solid or striped ties is great. But what is up with Bachmann’s Navy get up? I feel like I’m watching JAG.
Charles Pierce Forces Me to Take a Cold Shower
by John Cole
This driftglassian takedown of David Brooks got me all hot and bothered. A sample:
He does, however, interview some very well-spoken poll results, and proceeds to interpret them in ways that make you wonder if he’s dropped in from Alpha Centauri. He notices that poor people are having fewer babies, which makes him sad. But, things are looking up! People have stopped using their “bank-issued” credit cards as much. (These would be the cards they used so as to support the overstuffed suburban lifestyle that David Brooks so celebrated in his earlier, funnier work.) This means, to Brooks, “Quietly but decisively, Americans are trying to restore the moral norms that undergird our economic system.”
Jesus H. Christ in a fking Volvo, no, it doesn’t. It means people are broke. People are broke because the end product of 30 years of economic theorizing and political action that you supported has resulted in a shattered middle-class. People are broke because the Wall Street casino that your politics created and celebrated and enabled finally broke the entire country and took the rest of us down with it. People are broke because you and the rest of your “conservative” pals latched onto a crackpot scheme called supply-side economics, married it to a deregulatory frenzy and free trade, and then pitched it to the Bobos as economic liberty. You got rich. You got important. Now people are not using their credit cards because they can’t afford to buy the overpriced, Chinese-made crap that you once proposed as the new staple of American society. That is not a conscious mass moral choice. You’ve got to be on mushrooms to believe that.
the rest of the takedown of Brooks is HERE
Will Smith New Part-Owner of Philadelphia 76ers
*A deal to sell the Philadelphia 76ers to a group that includes Hollywood superstar Will Smith has been completed, reports ESPN.
The new ownership team is headlined by New York-based leveraged buyout specialist Joshua Harris, David Blitzer and former NBA agent and Sacramento Kings executive Jason Levien. Smith, one of the city’s favorite sons, has invested as a minority shareholder.
The sale ends Comcast-Spectacor’s 15-year run of ownership.
Named by Newsweek in April 2007 as the most powerful actor in Hollywood, Smith joins the Sixers in a capacity akin to music mogul Jay-Z’s role with the New Jersey Nets. And Levien is believed to be the first former agent to be part of an NBA ownership group since Lewis Schaffel served as the original managing partner of the Miami Heat.
Sources say that the Indonesian media magnate Erick Thohir is also joining the Sixers as the first Asian investor in an NBA team.
Comcast-Spectacor, led by chairman Ed Snider, purchased the Sixers from Harold Katz on April 24, 1996. Comcast-Spectacor also owns the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers will become a tenant in the building once the NBA lockout is over.
The 76ers were valued this year by Forbes at $330 million, 17th in the NBA, and have a television deal with cable station Comcast SportsNet through 2029.
Bryant Gumbel compares David Stern to “plantation overseer”
Oct 19, 2011, 12:36 AM EDT
Bryant Gumbel closed out Tuesday night’s new episode of HBO’s Real Sports with some incendiary comments on David Stern — comments made while Stern was meeting with Billy Hunter and the players union, along with a federal mediator.
What follows is the entire closing comments, courtesy HBO (the video is below). Know that some players are saying very much this same thing when the microphones are off. Hat tip to Paulie Pabst (of the Dan Patrick Show) for pointing this out.
“Finally tonight, if the NBA lockout is going to be resolved any time soon, it seems likely to be done in spite of David Stern, not because of him. I say that because the NBA’s infamously egocentric commissioner seems more hell-bent lately on demeaning the players than resolving his game’s labor impasse.
How else to explain Stern’s rants in recent days? To any and everyone who’d listen, he has alternately knocked union leader Billy Hunter, said the players were getting inaccurate information, and started sounding chicken-little claims about what games might be lost if the players didn’t soon see things his way.
Stern’s version of what’s been going on behind closed doors has, of course, been disputed. But his efforts were typical of a commissioner, who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer treating NBA men as if they were his boys. It’s part of Stern’s M.O. Like his past self-serving edicts on dress code or the questioning of officials, his moves are intended to do little more than show how he’s the one keeping the hired hands in their place.
Some will, of course, cringe at that characterization, but Stern’s disdain for the players is as palpable and pathetic as his motives are transparent. Yes, the NBA’s business model is broken, but to fix it, maybe the league’s commissioner should concern himself most with a solution, and stop being part of the problem.”
This is not the first time Gumbel has willingly strode into controversial racial waters, he did the same thing talking about the NFL when Paul Tagliabue left office.
Racist NYPD cop ruined my life and ended my major-league dream, Jared Williams says
Jared Williams was a star center fielder for Wagner College with dreams of becoming a major-leaguer when he crossed paths with NYPD cop Michael Daragjati.
Williams’ field of dreams ended on an October night in 2005 when he and two pals were arrested by the officer – falsely, he insists – outside a Staten Island bar.
“I feel he [Daragjati] racially profiled me,” Williams told the Daily News Tuesday.
There was a fight, he said, and “I feel we were the first black people he saw and we got pulled over.”
Williams was kicked off the baseball team just as he was being courted by scouts from the Kansas City Royals, Colorado Rockies and Baltimore Orioles, he said.
The criminal case was tossed out by a judge, and Williams later would receive $12,500 from the city to settle a federal lawsuit.
But his life was changed forever when he was disqualified from the baseball draft for not playing his senior year.
Williams said he was not shocked to hear that Daragjati was arrested this week by the feds for allegedly fabricating criminal charges against a black man last April on Staten Island.
The cop wanted to punish the man for mouthing off about being stopped and frisked, according to court papers.
Daragjati was later caught boasting on the phone that he had “fried another n—-r.”
“I was completely innocent,” Williams said.
“He [Daragjati] said I fit the description of someone involved in an assault.”
Defense lawyer Duane Felton poked holes in the cop’s account of how a witness had fingered Williams as an assailant.
“I believe he [Daragjati] fabricated the identification,” Felton said yesterday.
Williams went on to play for the Florida Redfish in the independent South Coast League, but a major-league career was not to be.
Today, Williams teaches fourth- and fifth-grade special education students in a Washington elementary school.
“I’m a Christian, so I’m forgiving, but I believe he [Daragjati] should be punished for his actions,” he said.
“It breaks my heart that someone who took an oath to protect and serve is doing this.”
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2011/10/19/2011-10-19_racist_officer_ruined_my_life_bogus_arrest_in_05_ended_bigleague_dream.html#ixzz1bEkSDfM7
Mitch McConnell Unloads On President Obama Over Jobs Bill (AUDIO)
Brian Beutler | October 18, 2011, 4:43PM 363
Spend enough time around Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and you’ll learn a few things about him. He’s the most disciplined GOP leader on the Hill, and one of its savviest. His devious parliamentary tactics have been a cornerstone of the GOP strategy to thwart the Democratic agenda, of which he was the key architect.
But he rarely loses his cool.
That’s why his acid-tongued attack on President Obama Tuesday came as such a surprise — and, perhaps, an indication that Obama’s campaign against the GOP for blocking his jobs bill is working.
Here’s the audio, from McConnell’s weekly Capitol briefing with reporters.
The Five Take Home Lessons From The Las Vegas GOP Debate
The opening round of the Republican presidential nomination contest effectively came to an end Tuesday when the candidates met in Las Vegas for their fifth debate in six weeks. The next one won’t come for about a month, so Tuesday’s often testy debate was a last chance for candidates to plant their flags on the national stage before heading off into a month of campaigning. With a little more than 70 days before the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd, the end is starting to come into sight.
VIDEO: The Best Debate Highlight Reel In 100 Seconds
So what happened? The candidates tried to get real. There were moments of snapping at one another and a lot of jumping in by moderator Anderson Cooper. Herman Cain, who was expected to be the main target heading into the night, mostly fell out of the spotlight after a long argument about his now famous 9-9-9 tax plan.
The debate set the stage for the next round of campaigning. If you missed it, here it is shrunk down to a convenient 5-point lesson plan.
1. Hit the panic button!
Everyone not named Mitt Romney needs to get their name back into the conversation fast or they risk falling out of the race. As a result, there was a palpable sense of panic among the second-tier candidates as they ignored moderator Anderson Cooper and shouted attacks over each other at a dizzying pace. Rick Santorum, maybe the only candidate on stage to never have a real “surge” in the polls, exemplified this dynamic: at one point he drew boos from the audience for repeatedly drowning out Mitt Romney’s answer on health care.
2. Mitt Romney finally makes a (potentially big) gaffe
Romney’s been unflappable up until now and he turned in a mostly solid performance on Tuesday. But he also showed for the first time that he can be forced off his game with enough pressure. Under attack from Perry over reports that he used a landscaping service that employed undocumented workers, Romney let slip a phrase that will likely come back to haunt him. “We went to the company and we said, look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property,” Romney said. “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, we can’t have illegals.”
Watch the moment:
Democrats are in love with “for Pete’s sake, we can’t have illegals.” Within minutes of the line, they were blasting it out to reporters with a highlighted transcript. You’ll probably be seeing this again.
3. Rick Perry ate his Wheaties
Gone was the confused and fatigued Perry of debates past, replaced Tuesday with a fired-up version of the Texas governor ready to take on all comers. He joined the dogpile on Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan and then turned his sights on Romney, calling him out over an old scandal involving Romney’s employment of illegal immigrants back in 2008.
It’s not clear how well the feistier Perry goes over with Republicans. Polls have shown his unfavorables have skyrocketed since he stumbled in the last few debates, and the Romney-friendly crowd in Las Vegas booed him more than once.
4. The Cain Mutiny
Cain entered the debate as the national frontrunner. He left as the guy whose tax plan was battered by each and every candidate on stage. For about 10 minutes, candidate after candidate attacked Cain for the fact that his proposal to the tax code with a 9% levy on personal income, sales and corporate income would translate into big tax hikes for many in the middle class. Cain has admitted his plan will raise rates for some, though he’s claimed that scrapping the existing tax code will lead to lower taxes overall. Experts disagree.
Cain’s fellow candidates on stage pounced on the admission and used it again and again to slam 999. Cain’s plan does not emerge from the debate looking as simple as it did going in, and that’s a problem for Cain, who’s made his name on repeating the name of the plan like a mantra.
5. Nevada Hearts Romney
Romney is considered the frontrunner in Nevada, which has a large Mormon population and is key to his primary strategy. If the debate audience is any indication, he’s right on track. He got huge cheers on some of his answers and the audience even booed Perry and Santorum when they brought out the knives on health care and immigration.
“it seems odd not to tell the student that we found no evidence that they violated the election laws”
I’ve been following voter suppression efforts by conservatives since 2005, and I’m shocked by how blatant this is:
The undersigned voting rights organizations are writing to express our deep concern about your recent actions targeting legally registered student voters in Maine for investigatory action and sending them threatening correspondence likely to deter them from exercising their voting rights. Such actions provide strong evidence that you are violating federal statutory protections against intimidation and coercion of individuals in the exercise of their right to vote, as well as constitutional protections of the right to vote.
As reported in a news article published on September 21, 2011 by the Bangor Daily News, “Secretary of State Finds No Student Voter Fraud but Still Pledges to Improve System,” and other news accounts, you launched an investigation into the voter registration of 206 University of Maine students based on no evidence other than the unsubstantiated and baseless accusation of a partisan individual. Indeed, in your own September 21, 2011 press release (attached), you note, “Initially, the Chairman of the Republican Party, Charles Webster presented me with a list of 206 students, all of who have out-of-state addresses on file with the University of Maine system – some of which he believed voted twice in the same election and committed ‘voter fraud.’” If the information and quotations attributed to you and your representatives are correct, you launched this investigation without any evidence or credible allegation that any individual voted illegally.
So. The Secretary of State receives 206 names from the state Republican Party chair, and goes after them. He finds nothing. No fraud. No illegality.
Next, he sends 191 of the students a letter, where he asks that they cancel their voter registration “if they are no longer claiming to be a Maine resident”. He includes a form so they may more easily do that:
What is more disconcerting, and even less defensible, are the subsequent actions you took, and are currently taking, against these students. As your September 21, 2011 statement notes, your investigation, found no violation of Maine law by any of the 206 students on the list provided to you. No student was found to have registered or voted illegally in the state of Maine and none “voted twice in the same election” or “committed ‘voter fraud’” as Mr. Webster had alleged. Despite this, your office decided to single out these individuals and threaten them with repercussions under your motor vehicle laws and encouraged them to cancel their voter registration to cure such violation.
First, while your letter notes that you were asked to investigate certain students with out-of-state home addresses, and that said investigation is “now closed,” you never confirm to the recipients that your investigation revealed no wrong-doing by them. In fact, documents provided in response to an FOAA request suggest that you ignored a comment from the Attorney General’s office noting that it “seems odd not to tell the student that we found no evidence that they violated the election laws.” On the contrary, a plain reading of the letter implies that the investigation may have revealed certain improprieties with regard to voter registration by the recipient. That, of course, is entirely untrue.
Second, you go on to imply that all new residents of Maine have an affirmative duty to obtain a driver’s license. Of course, this is simply incorrect, given that non-drivers, as many university students are, have no such duty. Even setting this aside, rather than providing potential Motor Vehicle violators with a license application to cure this alleged defect, you suggest they cancel their voting registration and enclose the requisite form. You state, “If you are currently using an out-of-state driver’s license or motor vehicle registration, I ask that you take appropriate action to comply with our motor vehicle laws within the next 30 days (i.e., by October 20, 2011). If, instead, you are no longer claiming to be a Maine resident, I ask that you complete the enclosed form to cancel your voter registration in Maine so that our central voter registration system can be updated.” By enclosing a form to cancel the voter’s registration you strongly suggest that this is the option the recipient should follow to prevent further scrutiny and harassment by Maine’s Secretary of State.
“No longer claiming“? WTF?
Why isn’t this national news? We heard about the New Black Panther Party for close to a year, almost daily. 206 people were targeted by a state official acting with a non-state actor. We know the state official was acting with the state GOP because he announced he was. 191 people were then sent a letter and asked to cancel their own voter registration. According to Wikipedia, the Maine Secretary of State is a former “top aide” to Olympia Snowe. Maybe she could intervene here?
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Posted by Zandar
How do you know Occupy Wall Street is working? Wall Street has changed tactics, instead of warning protesters off the record, they are warning Dems on the record and saying there will be hell to pay unless the Democrats start backing the One Percent immediately.
After the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent a recent email urging supporters to sign a petition backing the wave of Occupy Wall Street protests, phones at the party committee started ringing.
Banking executives personally called the offices of DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and DCCC Finance Chairman Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) last week demanding answers, three financial services lobbyists told POLITICO.
“They were livid,” said one Democratic lobbyist with banking clients.
The execs asked the lawmakers: “What are you doing? Do you even understand some of the things that they’ve called for?” said another lobbyist with financial services clients who is a former Democratic Senate aide.
Democrats’ friends on Wall Street have a message for them: you can’t have it both ways.
Wall Street’s pissed at the Dems. You’d almost think they cared about American voters more than Wall Street. Gosh, that’s practically a crime.
October 19, 2011 9:25 AM
The gap between Romney’s plan and his ‘wants’
By Steve Benen
As part of his critique of Herman Cain’s absurd “9-9-9” tax plan, Mitt Romney said in last night’s debate, “I want to reduce taxes on middle-income families.”
It was a throw-away line, mentioned in passing. But it’s important to realize what Romney claims to “want” is not even close to what Romney actually intends to do.
In fact, there’s no real ambiguity here. The apparent Republican frontrunner has already said he wants to see middle-class taxes go up right away, having endorsed an increase in payroll taxes in 2012. Romney has also backed higher federal income taxes on lower- and middle-income earners for the foreseeable future. He’s been surprisingly explicit on this, recently telling voters, “I think it’s a real problem when you have half of Americans, almost half of Americans, that are not paying income tax.”
Of course, those who aren’t paying income taxes include a fairly narrow group of people: lower- and middle-income workers who fall below the tax threshold; the unemployed; students, and retirees. Romney thinks it’s a “real problem” that they’re not paying federal income taxes — and it’s a problem he intends to fix by raising their taxes.
But, the former governor says, that’s only part of the picture. Sure, Romney will raise middle-class income taxes, but he also intends to give the middle class a capital-gains tax break.
Under Romney’s plan, those making less than $200,000 a year would see their capital gains taxes eliminated entirely. And what’s wrong with that? Pat Garofalo explained:
Romney may think he focused his tax cut on the middle-class, but according to a ThinkProgress analysis of Tax Policy Center data, nearly three-fourths of households that make $200,000 or less annually would get literally nothing from Romney’s tax cut, due to the simple fact that most of those households have no capital gains income
To be exact, 73.9 percent of the households upon which Romney “focused” his tax cut will see zero benefit from it. […]
For families making between $40,000 and $50,000 annually, Romney’s tax cut comes out to a whopping $216 per year. Meanwhile, the payroll tax cut enacted by the Obama administration in 2011, which Romney derided as a “temporary little Band-Aid,” gave those same households a tax cut of $800 to $1,000.
Romney also, incidentally, wants massive tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.
“I want to reduce taxes on middle-income families”? What Romney “wants” is irrelevant.
To be sure, there are some who might argue that middle-class taxes should go up, and it’s a subject worthy of debate. The problem here is that Romney just isn’t telling the truth about his own agenda. If he intends to raise middle-class taxes, and his own plan suggests that he does, Romney should prepared to defend his agenda.
”Six-Gun Showdown at the Hatin’ Brown Corral
The theatrics of this little back-and-forth between Perry and Romney are interesting, especially because Romney basically admitted that he started to give a shit about hiring illegals only because of political appearances. But something else probably resonated just as strongly with the dozen or so Latinos who still might consider voting for a Republican. Perry took a question on the rate of uninsured children in Texas, began with a non-answer (who cares how many doctors and nurses are employed in Texas if you can’t afford to take your kid to there?), and immediately switched to an attack on illegal immigrants. Republicans either want their Mexicans electrocuted on a fence or cast as scapegoats for everything that ails America.
By the time Joe Arpaio’s best buddy Herman Cain, supposedly sensitive-to-Mexicans Rick Perry and the always-inelegant Romney are done, the charred remains of the Hispanic outreach started by the Bush family will be a unidentifiable chunk of ash in a dusty corner of Karl Rove’s memory.
October 18, 2011 12:54 PM
The Obamas Should Campaign as a Couple
By Keith Humphreys
There is an old saw among political consultants that the perfect politician’s wife waves warmly to the crowd of potential voters…as her boat drifts away on a long trip down the Amazon that lasts until the election is over. This perspective is embodied in the common campaign strategy of sending political wives to lower stakes events while hubby covers the major venues solo. If the Obama re-election team is smart, they will completely reject this approach, for two reasons.
First, the Obamas have a magic about them as a couple to which most people respond positively. If you go to any event where the Obamas are standing next to each other, turn around and look at the crowd and you will see many people — especially women — smiling. Male political operatives often underestimate how much women like to see genuinely happy couples in politics. Political wives are invisible to many male voters, but women voters tend to observe them carefully, sussing out whether a political wife is going through the motions out of duty or ambition rather than love. And their perception of the wife’s emotions and role influences their judgment of the qualities of the candidate to whom she is married (which in my opinion, is perfectly rational).
When Dick Cheney was Gerald Ford’s Chief of Staff, he asked the President to get Betty Ford to shut up, because she went off message with strong support of women’s rights, among other issues. The President did say “shut up” — to Cheney — and contrary to what the men around President Ford expected, the uncensored First Lady became one of the most beloved people in the country. And many women liked the President more because he so visibly loved and stood by his strong and intelligent wife. When the Obamas are together, those same emotional forces work on voters in the President’s favor.
The other reason to keep the Obamas together during the campaign is captured in the wonderful photo on the left. When John Kerry was running for President in 2004, Mark Shields remarked that Kerry’s events with his Viet Nam veteran buddies were his best not because of how the veterans affected the audience, but because of how they affected Kerry. He was simply a more relaxed and appealing person when they were around.
Last week a friend and I were reminiscing about a White House holiday party that we both attended. My friend jumped up from his chair and asked “Did you notice how differently he stands when Michelle is next to him? He then mimicked the President perfectly, standing stiffly and intoning “Here I am the boring, aloof, professor alone at the lectern”. Then, shifting his feet as if he were mid-strut, throwing back his shoulders and smiling broadly he said “And here I am with this incredibly fabulous babe that I got to marry me — oh yeah!”.
That’s the truth of it. When the President is with his wife, his humanity comes out in a way that it often does not in other circumstances. The facade of the distant academic cracks open, revealing that skinny, accessible and idealistic young man who is still happily ensorcelled by his brilliant companion. And at that moment, many people in our cynical, brutal and heartless electoral process pause for a moment and remember that Barack Obama is a human being, and they like him.
October 19, 2011 8:00 AM
The dangers of accidental candor
By Steve Benen
After five debates in six weeks, these get-togethers for the Republican presidential candidates were quickly becoming sleep-inducing. Last night in Las Vegas, though, was at least lively — with time running out, someone lit a fire under the candidates’ feet.
Ultimately, there was more heat than light, and viewers didn’t actually learn much in the way of substance. There was, however, one revelation that might linger.
About mid-way through the event, CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Rick Perry about Texas having one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country. Perry started to answer, before ignoring the question and launching an attack on Mitt Romney for having hired undocumented workers.
“[W]e have a 1,200-mile border with Mexico, and the fact is we have a huge number of illegals that are coming into this country,” Perry said, adding, “[T]hey’re coming here because there is a magnet. And the magnet is called jobs. And those people that hire illegals ought to be penalized. And Mitt, you lose all of your standing, from my perspective, because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year.”
This led to a very heated exchange — easily the most contentious moment of the year to date — with Perry and Romney talking over each other and Romney putting his hand on Perry’s shoulder.
Eventually, Romney explained himself. Here’s the key quote, with video by way of TPM:
The former governor said he’d hired a lawn company that, unbeknownst to him, hired undocumented workers. “We went to the company and we said, ‘Look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property. I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals!” Eventually, Romney said, he fired the company when it was “pointed out” to him that it still employed undocumented workers.
In terms of fact-checking, Perry happens to be correct. The Boston Globe reported on Romney indirectly hiring immigrants who entered the country illegally, and the governor did nothing. A year later, the Globe ran another story, which led Romney to act.
In the larger context, as controversies go, this isn’t terribly interesting. What matters, though, is how Romney explained himself: he told his lawn company not to use undocumented workers because he’s “running for office.”
Romney, in other words, offered some accidental candor last night — he doesn’t care about breaking the law or paying undocumented workers; he cares about his political ambitions.
None of the other candidates seized on this last night — though they may very well pounce today — but Romney made it quite clear that he puts political ambitions over principles. Suspicions that Romney is a shallow, calculating politician, who cares more about electoral objectives than anything else, were confirmed when he accidentally spoke the truth.
It’s a safe bet we’ll hear this quote again soon.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Mittens Versus Foreclosuregate
Posted by Zandar
If Mitt Romney ends up President, he’s got a great plan for fixing the housing depression.
DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
“As to what to do for the housing industry specifically — and are there things that you can do to encourage housing? One is, don’t try and stop the foreclosure process,” said Romney. “Let it run its course, and hit the bottom, allow investors to buy up homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up, and let it turn around and come back up.
“The Obama administration has slow-walked the foreclosure process that long existed, and as a result we still have a foreclosure overhang.”
No Willard, we have a “foreclosure overhang” because the banks have engineered tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of additional foreclosures with intent of clogging the system so badly that the country is forced to simply give all the houses to the banks and throw the tenants out. President Obama has “slow walked” the process because there are a lot of discrepancies, problems and outright lies in it, all of them favoring the banks that have already taken billions in taxpayer dollars and even more billions in interest free loan guarantees.
So yeah, as someone who has written extensively about Foreclosuregate, let me say you’ve got no idea what you’re talking about there Mittens, and the banks are counting on someone like you absolving their crimes.
Audience Loudly Cheers Cain’s ‘Blame the Jobless’
Crowd startles again in GOP debate
As is becoming usual in this wave of GOP debates, the audience is also a newsmaker: At last night’s debate, the crowd cheered lustily when Herman Cain proudly stood by an earlier statement that the unemployed are to blame for their unemployment. “If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself,” he said recently. When Anderson Cooper asked him if stood by that, Cain responded: “Yes, I do still say that.” (Cheers, applause, whistles.)
“They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers, but they’re directing their anger at the wrong place,” Cain then said of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. “Wall Street isn’t going around the country trying to sell another $450 billion. They ought to be over in front of the White House taking out their frustration.” Notes the Huffington Post, Rep. Ron Paul responded: “I think Mr. Cain has blamed the victims. There’s a lot of people that are victims of this business cycle. We can’t blame the victims
October 19, 2011
The GOP debate: negatives all around
I was able to see only about the last half hour of the GOP debate last night, which happened to feature a charmless squabble between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney on religious faith and politics. Romney was on the right side of secular constitutionalism, of course, but the fact that the founders had already, vividly settled this issue more than 200 years ago only attests to contemporary Republicanism’s extreme reactionaryism.
I’ve got to say, it downright depresses to listen to two potential presidents debating a non-debatable matter — especially one as inflammatory as religious tests.
Otherwise, from the coverage I’ve read it appears that Herman Cain took his first return steps to political obscurity as he “defend[ed] his 9-9-9 tax plan against nearly unanimous criticism from his fellow candidates,” reports the Times. I think it was David Gergen who commented immediately after the debate that if all your opponents are against your tax plan, you’ve got “a problem.”
But look, Cain never expected to get this far, so his political problem is decidedly non-problematic (just as the Romney-Perry debate was non-debatable). If Cain has a problem at all, it’s with Roger Ailes: Is the former too crazy for even Fox News?
I also see — again, according to the Times — that Perry “displayed a much more combative style.” Translation: Like a desperate quarterback who starts throwing interceptions, Perry will soon screw things up even worse than he already has.
Last night’s biggest story was, however, the story that wasn’t. The most qualified GOP contender, Jon Huntsman, was absent from the stage. The Times reports that he “opted out in solidarity with New Hampshire Republicans who are angry that Nevada moved its caucuses up in the voting schedule.” Yet the political reality was instead rather “Animal House”-esque: Huntsman was simply too well to attend.
18 Oct 2011 10:50 PM Nevada Debate Reax
Josh Marshall captions the above video:
This is a classic case of gaffe as excessive candor — not ‘that’s outrageous, you can’t have illegals working on my property’ but ‘dude, I’m running for office, hiring illegals will kill me’
You know what? Republicans got sick of the Illegal Nannies debate back around February, 1993. Perry’s not doing himself any favors here.
John J. Pitney, Jr:
Did Rick Perry really think that he could trip up Romney by talking about the aliens who worked at his house? In a debate on Nov. 28, 2007, Giuliani went after Romney on the very same issue. Romney had seen this one coming for four years, so it’s no surprise that he had an answer ready.
Allahpundit yawns at Santorum’s attack on Romneycare (video directly above):
It’s … not so great, actually. Santorum does okay in taking it to him, but Gingrich practically shrivels when Romney calls him on his own past support for the mandate. Honestly, I’m not sure how productive these RomneyCare attacks are anymore at the debates. … the real damage done by attacks on RomneyCare will come via ads.
[W]hat nobody managed to do was to spell out the extent to which the Affordable Care Act was modeled on Romneycare– that the national plan borrows the subsidized exchanges composed of private health plans conforming to minimum coverage rules, with the whole structure made economically viable by the individual mandate and the employer mandate. Romney was again allowed to emphasize that he created a free market solution for the uninsured, though he didn’t get around this time to the lie that the ACA is by contrast “government controlled,” as if it weren’t structured the same way.
Mitt Romney is not a likeable figure (IMO), but he knows what he is doing in a debate and has gotten steadily better at it. He can use logic (more of a distinguishing trait in this field than you would think); he can control his emotions; he can make others lose control of their emotions — especially Perry, who looked like he wanted land a big haymaker upside Mitt’s head…
Romney has won every debate so far, and tonight was no exception. His moment of greatest vulnerability came when Senator Santorum attacked him over health care, but Santorum was so rude about it that he ended up looking worse than Romney did. Romney took more hits than he has in previous debates, though, so this debate was a narrower win than its predecessors.
The fifth Republican presidential debate since Labor Day — and by far the most entertaining — had the same winner as the previous four. Mitt Romney is the only person on the stage who understands — or can at least speak clearly on — the full breadth of issues that face the president. Romney took heavy fire from nearly everyone, but his rivals usually did more harm to themselves.
W. James Antle III analyzes the Cain 9-9-9 pile on (video directly above):
On the merits, the 999 portion of this debate should be devastating for Herman Cain. The plan is not holding up well under scrutiny, which is why it is already being changed. Cain can point to no other analysis but one commissioned by his own campaign to support some of his central contentions about the plan. Cain seemed irritated under fire. Yet if the primary electorate has begun to deeply sympathize with Cain, there could be some backlash against the entire Republican field ganging up on him in that fashion.
Everyone took shots at Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan tonight, but they mostly didn’t draw much blood. Cain just out-blustered them, and he was helped by the fact that the rest of the field had a hard time really going after him hard. After all, how can a bunch of conservatives attack a plan that’s basically conservative flat-taxism on steroids?
For all the Cain hype as he has surged in the polls, the former pizza executive seemed to fade as the debate wore on, especially when the subject turned to foreign policy, where he is visibly less confident. Despite the pundits’ predictions, the spotlight moved inexorably back toward Mitt Romney, who actually showed flashes of the passion that has been so conspicuously missing from his campaign. Las Vegas should adjust its betting odds: Romney just moved one step closer to the nomination.
My biggest problem with Cain is that he doesn’t seem to have much of a grasp on the necessarily political nature of policy implementation. You see it in his fantastical three-stage tax plan. You see it in his apparent surprise that the bailouts weren’t executed the way he would have preferred.
The real problem is, and will remain, that Cain has no political experience and apparently a complete lack of familiarity with foreign policy and national security issues. No matter how appealing Cain is, no matter how bold his plan, no matter how badly conservatives want and need to support a challenger to the right of Mitt Romney, it’s difficult to take Cain seriously as a potential nominee. That leaves Perry, with all he still needs to prove.
October 19, 2011 8:45 AM
When 9-9-9 gets the deep six
By Steve Benen
You could almost hear the Herman Cain bubble bursting in last night’s debate, when literally all of the other Republican presidential candidates decided it was time to cut to the chase: Cain’s “9-9-9” tax plan is ridiculous.
Rick Santorum, for example, said, “Herman’s well-meaning, and I love his boldness, and it’s great. But the fact of the matter is, I mean, reports are now out that 84 percent of Americans would pay more taxes under his plan.” Ron Paul called the Cain plan “very, very dangerous.” Mitt Romney said, “I like your chutzpah on this, Herman, but I have to tell you, the analysis I did, person by person, return by return, is that middle income people see higher taxes under your plan.”
After Bachmann, Santorum, Paul, Perry, and Romney each tore Cain’s plan to shreds, there was this exchange between CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Newt Gingrich:
COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, you have said in recent days that Mr. Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would be a harder sell than he lets on. How so?
GINGRICH: Well, you just watched it.
Cain made an effort to defend himself — he kept making strange references to apples and oranges, which, re-reading the transcript this morning, I still don’t understand — and referred voters to his website to read an analysis (pdf) from something called Fiscal Associates, which appears to be a family-planning firm in a small town in Michigan, which, for some reason, published a draft analysis of Cain’s proposal. Ezra Klein noted, “[E]ven the draft analysis doesn’t tell us much.”
Far more illuminating was actual research from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, published yesterday. The TPC measured the tax implications of the Cain plan for every income group and came to some striking conclusions: every American making $200,000 or less would see his or her tax burden go up, with the most severe increases coming at the lower end of the income spectrum. From there, the regressive curve gets more intense, with millionaires and billionaires set to receive a windfall as their tax burden is slashed dramatically.
Howard Gleckman put it this way:
A middle income household making between about $64,000 and $110,000 would get hit with an average tax increase of about $4,300, lowering its after-tax income by more than 6 percent and increasing its average federal tax rate (including income, payroll, estate and its share of the corporate income tax) from 18.8 percent to 23.7 percent. By contrast, a taxpayer in the top 0.1% (who makes more than $2.7 million) would enjoy an average tax cut of nearly$1.4 million, increasing his after-tax income by nearly 27 percent. His average effective tax rate would be cut almost in half to 17.9 percent. In Cain’s world, a typical household making more than $2.7 million would pay a smaller share of its income in federal taxes than one making less than $18,000. This would give Warren Buffet severe heartburn.
How do you like them apples, Herman?
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