Dana Hughes of ABC News: "The number of worldwide terror attacks fell to 10,283 last year, down from 11,641 in 2010 and the lowest since 2005, the State Department reported today. What's made the difference? The State Department cites the May 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda members killed last year including Atiyah Abd al-Rahman and Anwar al-Awlaki...."
"Fire Ed DeMarco." Paul Krugman: Ed DeMarco, who heads (I think he's the acting director) the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which runs Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, "has just rejected a request from the Treasury Department that he offer debt relief to troubled homeowners.... Deciding whether debt relief is a good policy for the nation as a whole is not DeMarco's job.... If the Secretary of the Treasury, acting on behalf of the president, believes that it is in the national interest to spend some taxpayer funds on debt relief, in a way that actually improves the FHFA's budget position, the agency's director has no business deciding on his own that he prefers not to act." So fire his ass, Mr. President. CW: this is an old story. There is some question as to whether Obama can fire DeMarco, but since he's only acting director, I'd say the answer is Caio, Eddie. ...
... Update: Krugman has more on DeMarco, & it's consistent with everything I've read in the past, especially the Geithner part.
... Brady Dennis & Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post tell the underlying story. ...
... Jonathan Bernstein, writing in the Washington Post on the DeMarco fiasco: "... the failure to move aggressively to fill the executive branch with his appointees has been the biggest mistake Barack Obama has made during his four years in the White House." CW: it is White House staff who are responsible for staffing up, although Obama would ultimately review all the top picks. So it would be interesting to know just who-all in the White House aren't doing their jobs of cuing up nominees. It seems unlikely that -- overall -- the administration is purposely leaving vacant key positions; therefore, this sounds like a case of gross incompetence.
Hoping No One Will Notice. Travis Waldron of Think Progress: "Senate Republicans last week proposed a plan that would raise taxes on more than 20 million Americans, while maintaining the high-end Bush tax cuts.... Now, House Republicans have adopted the same plan, and the effect is the same: roughly 24 million middle- and lower-class Americans will see their taxes raised so that roughly two million of the richest taxpayers can maintain a tax cut...."
AND Dan Pfeiffer of the White House tells Charles Krauthammer he's sorry over the Churchill bust thing. I'm none too sure an apology was in order even if it was polite.
NEW. Greg Sargent: a new analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center "finds that Mitt Romney's tax plan] would cut taxes dramatically on the richest five percent while raising them on everyone else.... Romney's tax plan would result in a $2,000 tax increase on middle class families." ...
... President Obama cites the report:
NEW. Krugman Again: Really, Willard loves big government & socialized medicine. And "debasing" the currency is good, too.
** Mitt Romney in the National Review. "Culture does matter." I don't know if Mitt wrote this or commissioned it. In any event, he authorized it, & like all those post-February 1999 Bain Capital documents, he signed his name to it. For those of you who questioned the thesis "he's not all that bright," time to reconsider. Whoever wrote this essay either thinks the reader is simpleminded or is simpleminded himself. I'm going with the latter. Thanks to Jack M. for the link. ...
... Answer True or False: (1) "Often, I have trouble deciding which lie to tell." (2) "Sometimes I say things, then pretend I didn't say them, then defend what I said in the first place, all in the course of 24 hours." (3) "Friends & family say they worry I may be insane." Sara Murray of the Wall Street Journal: "Mitt Romney caused a stir among Palestinians earlier this week when he suggested culture plays a role in the Palestinian Authority's economic shortfalls. He reversed course in an interview with Fox News Tuesday and denied making such a comment, saying, 'I'm not speaking about it -- did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy. That's an interesting topic that deserves scholarly analysis, but I actually didn't address that.' Well it appears Mr. Romney has changed his mind again because in an opinion piece in the conservative National Review Online, the Republican reversed course and owned up to the comments he made."
... Daniel Drezner in Foreign Policy: "... when Romney says he thinks culture is the key, it's another way of saying that he doesn't think the United States, World Bank or any policy tool out there is really going to promote economic growth in the least developed world."
Willard's World. Maureen Dowd: "We now know how little he knows about the world, how really slow on his feet he is, what meager social and political agility he has." She thinks he would make a nice garden statue.
Gossip Edition. Sam Stein & Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post: an unnamed Bain investor told Harry Reid that Mitt Romney didn't pay any taxes for ten years. CW: if that's not true, Mitt -- prove it. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link. ...
... Michael Graetz, a professor of tax law at Columbia & deputy assistant Treasury secretary under Bush I, thinks it likely Romney fudged on his taxes, possibly by undervaluing assets.
Here's a lovely biographical ad about Mitt that will warm the cockles of your heart --
-- Until Jed Lewison of Daily Kos tells you the truth behind Romney's absurd claims. What a total phony.
All of My People Are Experts at Firing You People. Callum Borchers of the Boston Globe: "The Mitt Romney campaign's chief financial officer described himself as a 'financial outsourcing consultant' on the professional networking website LinkedIn until at least July 17, according to a cached version of his profile page, but has since changed the description to 'political/finance professional.'"
Keith Johnson of the Wall Street Journal: "The Romney campaign finally came out firmly against tax credits for wind power. That might sound like a pretty marginal issue nationwide, but in a state such as Iowa -- home to more wind-sector jobs than any other state -- it's a pretty big deal." CW: too bad if being the anti-science candidate costs you the election, Mitt. Via Greg Sargent. ...
... Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register: Gov. Terry Branstad (R), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), and in fact the entire Iowa GOP Congressional delegation, respectfully disagree with Wandering Willard. Grassley blames it on Poland.
Paul Krugman: "Something is very wrong with what’s going on inside that impressive head of hair." CW: I think this theme that something isn't quite right about Romney may have legs. ...
... And sorry for going All Krugman All the Time, but I think he has nailed the crux of the phony "economic debate" that constitutes the presidential campaign: "It's really amazing: between miscalculations on Obama's part and scorched-earth Republican opposition, what we've had is insane austerity in the face of depression -- yet we're having an election centered on the claim that the weak economy shows that government spending doesn't work."
A new Obama ad, tying Romney to the Bush wartime deficit:
A reader wrote to me privately the other day, fed up with all the obnoxious Obama campaign pitches for contributions. So here's yet another approach:
... AND Michael Shear of the New York Times writes, "The appeals for donations occasionally recall the 'Everything 80 percent off! Going out of Business' sales that try to entice customers into the store. And yet, Mr. Obama's campaign team has clearly calculated that it is willing to risk leaving that kind of impression if it means raising more money."
Right Wing World
John Celock of the Huffington Post: "A Republican member of the Tennessee state legislature emailed constituents Tuesday morning with a rumor circulating in conservative circles that President Barack Obama is planning to stage a fake assassination attempt in an effort to stop the 2012 election from happening."
** Charles Pierce ruminates on "What Happened in Texas: The Tea Party now has morphed into a movement made up solely of three elements: corporate money, television hucksters, and suckers. The first of these make the other two elements possible."
Cherrie Gregg of CBS Philly: Pennsylvania's Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichelle (R) testified in the state voter ID case that she didn't know what the law said but was sure 99 percent of state voters have photo ID even though she has no way of actually knowing.
Gossip Edition. Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post: "Gov. John Hickenlooper and his wife, Helen Thorpe, announced Tuesday they are separating after 10 years of marriage, but plan to remain a family that spends a 'great deal of time together.' In a joint statement, they stressed there was no affair and that they had tried 'extended counseling.'"
Reuters: "President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, U.S. sources familiar with the matter said. Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence "finding," broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad."
Washington Post: "The Republican-led House of Representatives voted Wednesday to extend expiring George W. Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels for another year, a pre-election statement of the GOP's unyielding opposition to raising taxes for any taxpayer. The 256 to 171 vote ... fell largely along party lines, though 19 Democrats voted with Republicans.... One Republican was opposed. It came after the House rejected a Democratic alternative, also largely on a partisan 170 to 257 vote, that would have preserve tax cuts for income up to $250,000 but allowed them to expire for the wealthy."
New York Times: "A series of public statements and private communications from the Israeli leadership in recent weeks set off renewed concerns in the Obama administration that Israel might be preparing a unilateral military strike on Iran.... But after a flurry of high-level visits, including one by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to Israel on Wednesday, a number of administration officials say they remain hopeful that Israel has no imminent plans to attack and may be willing to let the United States take the lead in any future military strike...."
Washington Post: "Three commuter jets came within seconds of a midair collision at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday after confused air traffic controllers launched two outbound flights directly at another plane coming in to land, according to federal officials with direct knowledge of the incident."
Do-Nothing Fed Continues to Do Nothing. New York Times: "The Federal Reserve took no new steps to support the economy Wednesday, but it said in a statement that it was ready to act if job growth did not improve."
New York Times: "United States stock markets were thrown into turmoil on Wednesday morning after more than 100 stocks were hit with a surge of volatile and unexpected trading immediately after markets opened.
New York Times: "House and Senate leaders on Tuesday, with little fanfare and no drama, said they had reached a tentative agreement that would pay for federal government operations through next March, averting the prospect of another messy shutdown debacle." Washington Post story here.
New York Times: "The White House and Congress raced to impose more punishing sanctions against Iran on Tuesday, as that country's nuclear ambitions resurfaced in the presidential election campaign after Mitt Romney's pledge to give Israel unstinting support in its confrontation with Iran.... Sanctions have been in the works for months. Campaign officials also said that for all his criticism, Mr. Romney's prescriptions for dealing with Tehran do not differ much from the president's.... Colin H. Kahl, a former Pentagon official who is an adviser to the Obama campaign, [said] 'A lot of this is Romney describing our current policy and masquerading it as criticism of the president."
New York Times: "Gore Vidal, the elegant, acerbic all-around man of letters who presided with a certain relish over what he declared to be the end of American civilization, died on Tuesday at his home in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, where he moved in 2003, after years of living in Ravello, Italy. He was 86."
Default Day! Washington Post: "The U.S. Postal Service, facing a $14.1 billion loss this fiscal year amid plummeting mail volume, will default for the first time Wednesday, on a congressionally mandated $5.5 billion payment to the U.S. Treasury."
New York Times: "As electric power was restored across India on Wednesday, the nation's new power minister sought to tamp down a growing argument between state and federal ministers over who was to blame for Tuesday's unprecedented blackout."
AP: "A judicial official says that Hans Kristian Rausing has pleaded guilty to preventing the proper burial of his wealthy wife Eva Rausing. A spokesman for Britain's judiciary says that Rausing, whose father made billions selling his stake in the Tetra Pak drinks-carton empire, pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of 'preventing the lawful and decent' burial of his 48-year-old wife."