Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President described the progress our economy has made, laying a foundation for a future that prioritizes middle-class economics":

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

White House Live Video
January 29

12:30 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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This is a real bill. Consumer advocate Christopher Elliott verified it. Check out the customer name on the account:

Is "Asshole" the customer's real given name? Well, no. Comcast got mad at the family for wishing to cancel the cable part of their Comcast service. Comcast not only refused to cut the cable, as it were, they changed the primary customer's name from "Ricardo" (his parents' idea) to "Asshole." When Ricardo's wife tried to get Comcast to change the account back to her husband's real name, both Comcast's local & regional "customer service" (Comcast's idea) offices refused. After Elliott took up the Browns' case, Comcast relented on both. ...

... Video via Karoli of Crooks & Liars. CW: I assure you, former Arkansas Gov. Fuckabee will be very upset by the vid.

Oh, lawdy, what will they think up next?

... www.cicret.com

In the New York Times, Barry Bearak remembers Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks.

Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, New Hampshire): "After going through the drive-through at Burger King [in Rochester, N.H.] Friday, a local woman discovered that instead of the sweet tea and junior spicy chicken sandwich that she ordered, she got a bag full of money. Rather than keeping the cash — totaling $2,631 — she came back to the restaurant with her husband and returned it."

Gawker: "Bill Clinton took repeated trips on the 'Lolita Express'—the private passenger jet owned by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — with an actress in softcore porn movies whose name appears in Epstein's address book under an entry for 'massages,' according to flight logbooks obtained by Gawker and published today for the first time. The logs also show that Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a 'potential co-conspirator' in his crimes."

New York Times: Director Martin "Scorsese’s partly finished documentary about [former president Bill] Clinton — which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run — has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said. Though parts of the film were shot over the last two years as Mr. Clinton made a philanthropic visit to Africa and elsewhere, the project is now indefinitely shelved, partly because Mr. Clinton insisted on more control over the interview questions and final version than Mr. Scorsese was willing to give, those people said."

Jessica Roy of New York: "Now that he's been released from jail after his kidnapping-conspiracy conviction was overturned, Gilberto Valle — the former NYPD officer dubbed 'Cannibal Cop' for allegedly planning to kidnap, kill, and eat women — is hungry for love on Match.com. Unfortunately for him, the online dating service told us that they've deleted Valle's alleged profile, even though frankly he can't be any worse than the other dudes you might find on there.... Also, he listed cooking as a favorite hobby!"

CW: Not sure why this is news. As a disconsolate Windows 8 user, I heard this -- in re: Windows 8 -- two months ago. New York Times: "Microsoft said people using the two earlier versions of its operating system, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, would be able to update their computers to Windows 10 free for the first year after the new software is introduced."

Ellen's Gay Agenda. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link:

The French discover Ken & Barbie News Fox "News." For some reason the journalistes at "Le Petit Journal" don't find it credible. With English subtitles. Thanks to Creegr for the link:

New York Times: "A person close to the Barack Obama Foundation, which is overseeing plans for the [presidential] library, anonymously told local reporters last month that foundation officials had 'major concerns' with proposals from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Foundation officials were said to be alarmed that the University of Chicago does not yet control the land where the university wants to build the library. To the shock and horror of residents here, that left Columbia University in New York, where Mr. Obama received his undergraduate degree, as the apparent front-runner. And suddenly a fait accompli has become an open question."

Washington Post: Two treasure hunters may have found the Griffin, a ship that disappeared in the Great Lakes in mid-1679.

And the Winner Is ... A White Person! Tatiana Siegel of the Hollywood Reporter: "For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses. Among the notable snubs was David Oyelowo, who received praise for his turn as the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma." ...

... Scott Mendelson of Forbes: "... the most egregious omission is the sadly not-entirely-surprising absence of Selma’s Ava DuVernay from the five contenders nominated for Best Director.... She deserved a nomination." ...

... Steve M.: Given the sorry state of most of Hollywood's output -- the CGI roman-numeral blockbusters and comedies about farting boy-men, greenlighted mostly by white males -- and given the near-total freeze-out of women in directorial roles (or in most acting roles beyond male stars' arm candy), I guess I know the answer. And it's pathetic."

... Todd VanDerWerff of Vox: "Selma was snubbed because the average Oscar voter is a 63-year-old white man. VanDerWerff also lists other factors he thinks worked against Selma.

... CW: I don't think I linked to this essay by Chris Rock, published in the Hollywood Reporter last month. Subject: The movie biz is "a white industry." I guess so.

Dick Poop. USA Today: "Dick Pope..., the cinematographer for Mr. Turner, made international news after Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science President Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced his name during the nominations, calling him 'Dick Poop.'"

Here's the L.A. Times story covering the Oscar nominations.

New York Times: "Amazon announced on Tuesday that it had signed [Woody] Allen to write and direct his first television series. The company said it had ordered a full season of half-hour shows, as yet untitled, which will make their debut on the service next year. It provided few other details."

Jareen Imam of CNN: "Jeweler Tiffany & Co., for the first time, is featuring a gay couple in an ad campaign. The new 'Will You?' campaign, shot by fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, features seven scenes of couples. One in particular is drawing widespread praise for showing a same-sex couple. The pair, shown sitting on a stoop in New York City, are a couple in real life, Tiffany spokeswoman Linda Buckley said."

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Thursday
Sep202012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 21, 2012

CW: For some reason, Reality Chex is terribly slow this morning. If the lethargy continues, I'll complain about it.

** Paul Krugman: "... the modern Republican Party just doesn't have much respect for people who work for other people, no matter how faithfully and well they do their jobs.... Some of [this disdain for workers] reflects the influence of money in politics.... But it also reflects the extent to which the G.O.P. has been taken over by an Ayn Rand-type vision of society, in which a handful of heroic businessmen are responsible for all economic good, while the rest of us are just along for the ride." ...

... Conservative Michael Gerson of the Washington Post: "... a Republican ideology pitting the 'makers' against the 'takers' offers nothing. No sympathy for our fellow citizens. No insight into our social challenge. No hope of change. This approach involves a relentless reductionism. Human worth is reduced to economic production. Social problems are reduced to personal vices. Politics is reduced to class warfare on behalf of the upper class.... Republican politicians mouth libertarian nonsense, unable to even describe some of the largest challenges of our time."

Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post: "In 3-1/2 years in office, President Obama has set in motion a broad overhaul of public education from kindergarten through high school, largely bypassing Congress and inducing states to adopt landmark changes that none of his predecessors attempted. He awarded billions of dollars in stimulus funding to states that agreed to promote charter schools, use student test scores to evaluate teachers and embrace other administration-backed policies. And he has effectively rewritten No Child Left Behind, the federal law passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, by excusing states from its requirements if they adopt his measures.... There is little or no research showing that these measures lead to better-educated children or higher graduation rates. Unions and some parents contend that Obama's approach overemphasizes testing and crowds out the arts and other subjects." CW: I wish I thought these "reforms" were a good thing; they are mostly horrible Jeb Bush/Very Serious People-style initiatives.

Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times: "For generations of Americans, it was a given that children would live longer than their parents. But there is now mounting evidence that this enduring trend has reversed itself for the country's least-educated whites, an increasingly troubled group whose life expectancy has fallen by four years since 1990."

Massimo Calabresi of Time: DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz destroys crazy right-wing conspiracy theories -- promulgated by prominent House members like Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) -- about AG Eric Holder & President Obama's supposed "Fast & Furious" schemes: "Horowitz shows definitively that the Arizona ATF agents and prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's office there were responsible for the operation, not the White House or the Justice Department in Washington and that the primary source of the inaccurate testimony given to Congress was the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke."CW: Burke is a Janet Napolitano acolyte.

Presidential Race

Jeff Zeleny & Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "There are seven days until early voting begins in Iowa, less than two weeks until the first debate and 46 days left in the race for Mitt Romney to change the dynamic of a campaign that by many indicators is tilting against him. That, advisers to President Obama acknowledge, is plenty of time. But the burden rests to a remarkable degree directly on Mr. Romney and his ability to restore confidence to his campaign, become a more nimble candidate and clearly explain to voters why he would be the better choice...."

Julie Pace & Kasie Hunt of the AP: "At the end of August, President Barack Obama had about $88.8 million to spend on the final months of the campaign, nearly twice as much as Republican rival Mitt Romney, according to campaign fundraising reports released Thursday. While Romney's report showed he had $50.4 million to spend as of Aug. 31, he also owed $15 million on a $20 million loan taken that month."

New York Times Editors: the presidential candidates faced Latino voters in forums sponsored by Univision this week & neither came off with flying colors, but Romney -- whose policies are draconian -- wouldn't answer the questions about undocumented workers. ...

... Lawrence Downes, who is on the Times' Editorial Board, is more blunt: "Mitt Romney has a miraculous secret plan to fix immigration for good.... Mr. Romney won't tell us what it is.... If you're not going to give 11 million people a way to legalize, which Mr. Romney has never said he would do, and you're not going to deport them, but you support Arizona-style laws that try to make sure immigrants cannot work, drive, go to school or otherwise survive, then what?" ...

... Reid Epstein of Politico reports on President Obama's turn at the forum. ...

... Jordan Fabian of ABC News reported on Romney's appearance. ...

... Guilardo Romnio. Well, okay, Fabian didn't mention Romney's actual appearance. Hilariously, Romney seems to have calculated that he could win Latino votes if he just went all brownface. So, the man who told fatcats he could win if he'd only been of Mexican heritage, went all-Indio for his Univision appearance. This takes pandering to a whole new, incredibly jamón-fisted level.

 

 

Oh, you were born with a silver spoon,' you know, 'You never had to earn anything,' and so forth. And, and frankly, I was born with a silver spoon, which is the greatest gift you could have, which is to get born in America. I'll tell ya, there is -- 95 percent of life is set up for you if you're born in this country. -- Mitt Romney, in the Romney Tapes ...

** "You Didn't Build That." Ryan Grim & Arthur Delaney of the Huffington Post: "If Romney believes, as he said, that '95 percent of life is set up for you if you're born in this country,' then people who fail to become successful have only themselves to blame, which helps explain why Romney feels he'll never be able to redeem such people.... In crediting 95 percent of an American's success to the country in which he or she was born, Mitt Romney was saying that something else was responsible for that success. In other words, if you've got a business,you didn't build that."

Joe Conason of National Memo makes a compelling case that a book, titled A Nation of Moochers, by right-wing Wisconsin radio host Charles Sykes was the source of Romney's 47-percent meme: "... Sykes seamlessly melds two very distinct groups -- those who receive some kind of benefit or assistance from government, and those who pay no federal income tax -- precisely as Romney did, quite wrongly." To wit, in a passage near the beginning of his book -- the jacket includes a blurb from Paul Ryan -- Sykes writes:

Even as more people become dependent on government, fewer were paying their share of the tab. By tax day in 2010, nearly half of U.S. households paid no federal income taxes. After years of cuts, credits, and outright rebates, 47 percent of households had no net liability at all.

Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "The 14-year-old audio clip circulated by the Mitt Romney campaign this week to attack Barack Obama as favoring 'redistribution' of wealth was 'deceptively edited,' Democrats say, leaving out important context that Obama provided in his next breath."

Look Who Agrees: Glenn Kessler: Romney, Ryan & their campaign have taken 14-year-old remarks by then-state senator Obama "completely out of context" in a dishonest attempt to show "Obama's apparently socialist tendencies."

Even Chuck Todd of NBC debunks Romney. Via Charles Pierce:

Hitler finds out about the secret Romney tapes. In case you don't know who Jennifer Rubin is -- maybe because I never link any of her posts -- she's a winger blogger for the Washington Post, and yes, she sees the silver lining in every Romney blunder. Via Driftglass:

... After All the Sturm und Drang. Steve Kornacki of Salon: "According to a survey conducted by the Vanderbilt/YouGov Ad Rating Project, the video is enraging many Democrats and rallying some Republicans around Romney, but having essentially no impact on actual swing voters.... One reason why some swing voters might have liked the message of the video: 80 percent of respondents are under the impression that they pay federal income taxes. Many of them are surely mistaken, but if they don't know Romney was talking about them, they're not as likely to be offended." CW: this last bit -- that people think they pay income tax even when they don't -- is a point I've been making, so I'm glad it's now been documented.

When you think about our founding fathers..., blah blah, particularly since the '60s, that somehow or another there's this steel wall, this iron curtain or whatever you want to call it between the church and people of faith and this separation of church and state is just false on its face. [it is not the fault of the ellipsis that this sentence does not making sense] ... blah blah. President Obama and his cronies are making efforts to remove any trace of religion from American life.... blah blah. Satan runs across the world.... blah blah. The American family is under seize. [not a typo] -- Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), in a conference call with extremist pastor Rick Scarborough as part of his "40 Days to Save America" campaign to motivate and organize Religious Right voters

If only Rick Perry had won the nomination, we could have had that substantive "exchange of ideas." -- Constant Weader

Congressional Races

Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal: "... even as the overall picture holds many possibilities, this week demonstrated how the seeds are in place for Democrats not only to hold the Senate but also to prevent any losses at all. That would be a remarkable turnaround for a party that looked resigned to losing seats, and a stinging setback for National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn, who set 2012 as the year when Republicans would ascend back into power." ...

... Adam Sorensen of Time: Boston Mayor Tom "Menino's endorsement [of Elizabeth Warren] is expected to come Friday..., and it's just the latest in a series of auspicious signs for Warren and Democratic Senate candidates like her. As volatile polling clouds the state of the presidential race and pundits diagnose the Romney campaign&'s alleged ills, it's actually the GOP's effort to take the Senate, not the White House, that's in grave condition.... A juiced conservative base may (or may not) help Romney nationally, but ideological warfare appears to be damaging Republican prospects down ballot." ...

Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe: "Senator Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren finally squared off face-to-face in a debate on Thursday night, and when they did, neither backed down from the criticisms they have lodged against each other from a distance on the campaign trail." ...

... Katharine Seeyle has a more extensive report in the New York Times. ...

... Michael Tomasky of Newsweek gives Brown a narrow win in the debate: "I'd bet she won 80-20 among independent women, and he won 80-20 among independent men. It was that stark." CW: hmm, since there are more women voters than men, sounds more like a win for Warren. ...

... E. J. Dionne: "My hunch is that whatever points [Brown] scored off Warren were more than wiped away by a tone that Rep. Barney Frank, a Warren supporter, accurately described on Rachel Maddow's show as 'snarky.' In his effort to derail Warren in a debate, Brown may have undermined one of the most important aspects of his get-along-with-everybody brand." ...

Laura Vozella of the Washington Post: "Republicans attacked Timothy M. Kaine on Thursday after he said during a much-anticipated Senate debate that he would consider a minimum income tax for every American, opening a fresh line of attack in a nationally watched race that until now has turned on mostly predictable and well-worn accusations. Kaine, a Democrat, made the comment as he squared off against Republican George Allen, a fellow former governor and his opponent in the Virginia race, in their first televised debate. The hour-long program ... was mostly devoid of fireworks.... Several times during the debate, [Kane] laid out his specific plan for fixing the nation's fiscal woes -- one that did not involve such a tax." ...

... Dave Weigel of Slate: "Kaine's been programmed to never rule out anything bipartisan. He gives his dumb answer. I don't think the dumb answer appreciates how cynical you need to be to win elections in 2012. Look: The House and Senate passed mandatory defense and discretionary spending cuts because Republicans demanded them in exchange for a debt limit hike. A year later, the existence of these cuts are being used against Democrats."

Re: commentary by contributor JJG:. More about the painting in this difficult-to-read pdf from the St. Louis Art Museum, which holds many of Bingham's works:

"The County Election," by George Caleb Bingham, 1852.

News Ledes

New York Times: "Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, did not violate House ethics rules when she contacted the Treasury Department in 2008 to set up a meeting on behalf of top executives from a bank her husband owns stock in, a special investigator announced on Friday. But the House ethics committee is still debating whether her chief of staff, Mikael Moore, acted improperly when he continued to work behind the scenes on behalf of the same bank, OneUnited, which is based in Boston."

Huffington Post: "President Barack Obama revived a 2008 campaign promise on Friday, telling the crowd at an AARP forum that he would be open to raising the level of income on which Americans pay Social Security taxes."

ABC News: "The last of the 33,000 American surge troops sent to Afghanistan two years ago have left the battlefields of Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said. With the departure of the last of the surge troops, there are now 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan."

Washington Post: "Thousands of Pakistanis staged violent protests Friday morning against a YouTube video that insults Islam's prophet, burning down two movie houses in Peshawar and torching a tollbooth and cars on major highways near Islamabad and nearby Rawalpindi, authorities and local television channels reported."

Reuters: "The dispute between China and Japan over a desolate jumble of rocky islets in the East China Sea has taken a familiar turn with Beijing deploying a fleet of paramilitary patrol ships while similar Japanese vessels steam out in response. As in earlier disputes over rocks and shoals in the South China Sea, Beijing is relying on these vessels rather than more menacing warships to assert its sovereignty over the disputed islands known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan."

AP: "In what promises to be a crowd-rousing air show, Endeavour, strapped atop a 747 jumbo jet, will take off after sunrise from Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert and dip low over various landmarks in a 4 1/2-hour sightseeing flight before landing at the Los Angeles International Airport. It's Endeavour's last aerial hurrah before it spends its retirement years as a museum piece."

AP: "In a now familiar global ritual, Apple< fans jammed shops from Sydney to Paris to pick up the tech juggernaut's latest iPhone. Eager buyers formed long lines Friday at Apple Inc. stores in Asia, Europe and North America to be the first to get their hands on the latest version of the smartphone."

Wednesday
Sep192012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 20, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is on Ross Douthat's comparison of the Romney Tapes to Obama's remarks about "bitter" Pennsylvanians, "clinging to their guns and religion." I think it responds to remarks Akhilleus made about our little "conservative big thinker." Comments are open at NYTX.

Joan Walsh of Salon sites a new "study by the Public Religion Research Institute, which confounds most stereotypes of the white working class, while confirming a couple.... They're less conservative than most political analysts give them credit for -- if you leave out the South.... [The study] completely contradicts Charles Murray and the rest of the conservatives who define struggling white workers as part of the moocher class, people who've traded hard work, marriage and religious devotion for the dole...."

Presidential Race

Willard & Co. March into the Swamps of the Radical Right. David Firestone of the New York Times on the Romney/Ryan campaign's stupid effort to paint President Obama -- based on a 14-year-old tape in which he said he favored a certain amount of "redistribution" to give everybody a shot -- as a raving radical Marxist: "Unmentioned is the entirely obvious fact that the government has long redistributed wealth, and that the country expects it to do so. That's the point of a progressive income tax, which has been in effect for nearly a century. Government takes money from those who have it and uses it for the common good, whether that involves building roads or submarines, or handing some of it over to those who are desperate. In that sense, even a flat tax would redistribute wealth somewhat, although far less efficiently. Social Security and Medicare, though considered 'insurance' programs, actually take money from one generation and hand it to another.... The problem for Republicans is that many voters -- even those who are disappointed in Mr. Obama -- realize by now that the president is no radical." ...

... Here's video of the young, radical capitalist Barack Obama urging "redistribution" to "foster "competition," "work in the marketplace," & encourage "innovation":

 

Mother Jones has the full transcript of the Romney Tapes here.

Steve Benen: on national television, Mitt accidentally admits that his tax policy sucks for half the country -- the lazy moocher half, that is. A cautionary remark for all lazy moochers of the Republican persuasion, not that most of them are smart enough to get it.

Forty-seven Percent? Nah. Paul Krugman: "... the evidence suggests that the GOP believes that the fraction of takers/moochers is much higher.... In the Ayn Rand intellectual universe..., a handful of heroically greedy entrepreneurs are responsible for all that is good. And if you live in that universe, your dividing line between makers and takers isn't drawn at the point where people make enough to pay income taxes; everyone who isn't John Galt should be grateful for what the Galts do, and we're all takers by asking those heroes to pay any taxes at all." ...

... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: in the Romney Tapes, Romney says the Fed is buying three-quarters of all treasury debt, a "fact" he conveys with horror. Is it true? "The short answer is no.... Romney is, once again, plucking a scary number he seems to have heard from a tea party symposium somewhere and mindlessly regurgitating it to a receptive audience. But he's wrong. There was a period of about six months during 2011 when the Fed really was hoovering up a big share of all treasury debt. But that was a one-time deal more than a year ago, and since then the big buyers of treasury bonds have mostly been the usual suspects: foreigners and US households." ...

... Paul Krugman: "Look, Romney ... has a staff, and some prominent economists allegedly advising him. Yet he draws his stories about the economy from what he heard somewhere, apparently believing that if the right sort of person says something there's no need to check it out. Awesome."

... Material Man. E. J. Dionne: "The most incisive reaction to Mitt Romney's disparaging comments about 47 percent of us came from a conservative friend who e-mailed: 'If I were you, I'd wonder why Romney hates America so much.' From his perch high atop the class structure, Romney offered an analysis of political motivations that even Marxists would regard as excessively materialistic. He speaks as if hardworking parents who seek government help to provide health care for their kids are irresponsible, that students who get government aid to attend community colleges are not trying to 'care for their lives.' Has he never spoken with busboys and waitresses, hospital workers and janitors who make too little to pay income taxes but work their hearts out to 'take personal responsibility'?"

Ann Romney says her husband was taken "out of context" in the Romney Tapes. Right. Because an hour-plus of context is not enough. Also, it turns out Mitt is running because "he honestly believes he can help many Americans"; after all, Mitt "is a guy who doesn't, obviously, need to do this for a job." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link:

CW: some of our contributors have been making snide remarks about Lady Romney's ensemble as seen in the video above. If these commenters knew anything about occasion-appropriate attire, they would realize that the Duchess of Bain was simply dressing in an outfit suitable for discussing the irresponsible poor. In the casual snapshot at right, taken by the official palace photographer, she is dressed as she always dresses for dinner:

 

 

"When Bad Things Happen to Mitt Romney." Gail Collins is mighty funny as she recounts "the worst run of disasters this side of the Mayan calendar."

Mitt the Moocher. Nicholas Kristof: "As I watched a video of Mitt Romney scolding moochers suffering from a culture of dependency, I thought of American soldiers I've met in Afghanistan and Iraq. They don't pay federal income tax while they're in combat zones, and they rely on government benefits when they come back."

Ezra Klein in Bloomberg News: "It's really, really hard to be poor. That’s because the poorer you are, the more personal responsibility you have to take.... Romney, apparently, thinks it's folks like him who've really had it hard. 'I have inherited nothing,' the son of a former auto executive and governor told the room of donors. 'Everything Ann and I have, we earned the old-fashioned way.' This is a man blind to his own privilege.... that sentiment informs his policy platform -- which calls for sharply cutting social services for the poor to pay for huge tax cuts for the rich -- and it suggests he's trying to make policy with a worldview that's completely backward."

Jeff Goodell of Rolling Stone: "... what Romney and the Republicans are offering voters this November isn't a coherent energy plan. It's a suicide note.... When Romney utters the words 'energy independence,' he's really promoting the idea that we can drill our way to freedom -- using a fear of foreigners to justify opening up fragile coastlines and wildlife sanctuaries to the Koch brothers."

Pew Research Center: "At this stage in the campaign, Barack Obama is in a strong position compared with past victorious presidential candidates. With an eight-point lead over Mitt Romney among likely voters, Obama holds a bigger September lead than the last three candidates who went on to win in November, including Obama four years ago. In elections since 1988, only Bill Clinton, in 1992 and 1996, entered the fall with a larger advantage." CW: don't let this poll get you to excited; it could be an outlier. Another poll has Obama up by only one point.

Congressional Campaigns

Joe Battenfeld of the Boston Herald: "U.S. Sen. Scott Brown has moved into a narrow lead over rival Elizabeth Warren while his standing among Massachusetts voters has improved despite a year-long Democratic assault, a new UMass Lowell/Boston Herald poll shows. The GOP incumbent is beating Warren by a 50-44 percent margin among registered Bay State voters...." CW: Battenfeld writes about a poll taken nine months ago; I think he means 9 days ago. Anyhow, this race is not yet a done deal.

News Ledes

AP: "A judge on Thursday denied a request seeking to force YouTube to remove an anti-Muslim film trailer that has been blamed for causing deadly violence in the Muslim World. Judge Luis Lavin rejected the request from Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress who appears in the clip, in part because the man behind the film wasn't served with a copy of the lawsuit."

New York Times: "The White House, after more than a week in which it has come under fire from Republicans, is now calling last week's assault on the American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, a 'terrorist attack.'"

New York Times: "At least 30 people, and possibly more than 100, were killed in Syria on Thursday in the northern Raqqa Province, when government warplanes bombed a gas station crowded with people, according to activist groups."

Guardian: "B Sky B remains a fit and proper owner of broadcast licences, media regulator Ofcom has concluded. But the regulator is highly critical of the company's former chairman, James Murdoch, over his handling of the phone-hacking scandal. Ofcom criticised Murdoch, the News Corporation deputy chief operating officer and former Sky and News International chairman, for his 'lack of action' over the News of the World phone-hacking affair."

AP: "Space shuttle Endeavour flew over Tucson on Thursday in honor of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her astronaut husband [Mike Kelly] before continuing its trek west to retirement in a Los Angeles museum."

AP: "In a critical climate indicator showing an ever warming world, the amount of ice in the Arctic Ocean shrank to an all-time low this year, obliterating old records."

The Atlantic: "American intelligence officials insist that the attack on the Benghazi consulate was not pre-planned, but a new CNN report says that Ambassador Chris Stevens had expressed concerns about the safety of the mission in the months before his death. According to 'a source familiar with his thinking,' Stevens was worried about the growing threat of al-Qaeda and other extremists in Libya and even mentioned that he was on a terrorist 'hit list.'"

Reuters: "Arizona police on Wednesday began enforcing a controversial 'show-your-papers' provision of a state law targeting illegal immigration as civil rights groups prepared to document allegations of racial profiling."

AP: "The U.S. economy is showing signs of finally bottoming out: Americans are on the move again after record numbers had stayed put, more young adults are leaving their parents' homes to take a chance with college or the job market, once-sharp declines in births are leveling off and poverty is slowing [according to ] new 2011 census data being released Thursday."

Washington Post: "Two U.S. housing reports released Wednesday morning show more signs of improvement in the housing market, suggesting that it might finally be on its way toward a full recovery."

Tuesday
Sep182012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 19, 2012

Matthew O'Brien of the Atlantic on what our Marxist, socialistic tax structure really looks like. Um, it's barely even progressive.

Presidential Race

AP: "Rebuking Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Americans are not 'victims' and that anyone seeking the presidency ought to be working for 'everyone, not just some.'" Here's a clip. The full interview will probably be available sometime Wednesday is here & worth watching; it begins at 7:45 min. in. The clip below is an extension of the one I embedded late yesterday:

... The video below is also the full interview; Letterman or CBS may take it down, tho:

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney faced an escalating torrent of criticism on Tuesday from Democrats and Republicans for characterizing 47 percent of the country as government-dependent people who believe they are 'victims,' even as new video clips emerged of his blunt comments on other subjects during a fund-raiser in May.... The clips have already hijacked Mr. Romney's efforts to reset his campaign message and take advantage of a two-week period before the debates begin." ...

... David Corn of Mother Jones has released the full Romney Tapes, Parts 1 & 2. Corn also has audio of Romney's full remarks here.

... Jay Carney: "When you're president of the United States, you're president of all the people":

The Obama campaign talks to ordinary Americans to get their takes on Romney's remarks about the "47 percent":

Romney pushes back with an op-ed in USA Today: "Efforts that promote hard work and personal responsibility over government dependency make America strong." Huh, fails to mention that almost half of us are irresponsible, government-dependent Obama-lovin' bums. ...

... Jonathan Martin, et al., of Politico: "... longtime GOP hands find the video and Romney's attempt to neither fully embrace nor fully apologize for his comments to be symptomatic of a larger problem. The former Massachusetts governor can't seem to string consecutive positive days together and often is his own worst enemy. A month's worth of woes, beginning with a forgettable GOP convention, has taken its toll on the Republican psyche."

The Political Is Personal. Mike Isikoff of NBC News: James Carter IV, President Carter's grandson, "confirmed there is a personal side to the backstory of the campaign video: he was especially motivated, he said, because of Romney's frequent attacks on the presidency of his grandfather, including the GOP candidate's comparisons to the 'weak' foreign policy of Carter and Barack Obama." CW: as I wrote yesterday -- payback. ...

He was a refugee from Mexico. He was on welfare relief for the first years of his life. -- Lenore Romney, speaking of her husband George Romney, Mitt's father:

     ... CW: Mitt is a walking illustration of the classic selfishness that is the core "value" of so many Republicans: I got mine, screw the rest of you. Mitt's grandfather took government handouts; Mitt himself took countless millions in government handouts in his Bain deals & in his "turnaround" of the Olympics; but "you people" are irresponsible moochers who expect the government to provide for your every lazy-assed whim. Thanks to contributor Julie for the link to the video above.

... Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed: the 47 percent make the front pages of American papers.

... Maureen Dowd: "Willard, born on third base and acting self-made, whining to the rich about what a great deal in life the poor have. We thought Romney was secretly moderate, but it turns out that he's secretly cruel, a social Darwinist just like his running mate.... Even as Mitt was spitefully demonizing and dividing in Boca, he remained cardboard-cutout un-self-aware, musing: 'The thing I find most disappointing about this president is his attack of one America against another America.' This is the absolute height of cluelessness."

Matt Miller in the Washington Post: "... the truth is that low earners were largely dropped from the rolls thanks to (sensible) Republican-supported policy that boosted the earned income tax credit? Which was itself the brainchild of conservative icon Milton Friedman! And when those in the 47 percent who aren't seniors or veterans are mostly poor workers whose payroll taxes, at 15.3 percent (since the employer side of the tax effectively comes out of workers' wages), leaves them taxed at a higher rate than was Mitt Romney on his $20 million income last year? To be so insultingly tone deaf and self-destructive even while being dead wrong and hypocritical on the substance is a perverse sort of accomplishment." ...

... Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: what the Romney-Ryan-Moochermania crowd misses is that most Americans will be both "makers" and "takers" at different points in their lives, & oftentimes they are both simultaneously.

... Why, Karl Rove Agrees with Cohn. A lot of people who get a Social Security check paid into that their entire lives and they're plenty wired up about the deficit and there are lots of people getting an unemployment check who would love to have a job, so you've got to be careful about that number. [P.S. Those lazy bastards are Republican voters!] -- Karl Rove

Where's Willard? Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics: "Romney's light public schedule in the heart of the campaign's final sprint has led some GOP donors to grumble that he should be paying less attention to them at this point and spending more time winning over voters who will decide the election at the ballot box. 'There's not really a campaign here,' said one Republican with extensive ties to the party's fundraising community. 'He's getting ready for the debates, and he's out fundraising. You've got enough money!'" Via Greg Sargent.

Tim Noah of The New Republic: conservatives split over Lucky Ducky Doctrine. ...

... Conservative David Frum: "The background to so much of the politics of the past four years is the mood of apocalyptic terror that has gripped so much of the American upper class. Hucksters of all kinds have battened on this terror. They tell them that free enterprise is under attack; that Obama is a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist, an anti-colonialist.... And what makes it all both so heart-rending and so outrageous is that all this is occurring at a time when economically disadvantaged Americans have never been so demoralized and passive, never exerted less political clout.... Yet even so, the rich and the old are scared witless!" ...

... Digby: "This also ties into Mitt's throwback comment about how if would be easier for a Mexican to be elected President (instead of a wealthy, white male with a famous political father.) This delusion of being an oppressed class is becoming pathological. When you've got people of vast, vast wealth acting as though the poorest and least of society have huge advantages, you know they've gone down the rabbit hole and may not be able to find their way back. This isn't about Mitt Romney. He just happens to be the perfect symbol of the American aristocrat's persecution complex."

CLICK ON MAP TO SEE LARGER IMAGE. Mitt Romney, Middle East expert pontificator, cannot locate Syria on a map:

The other side of the West Bank, the other side of what would be this new Palestinian state would either be Syria at one point, or Jordan. -- Mitt Romney, the Romney Tapes, May 2012

... Whatever contours a possible Palestinian state would have, it won't border Syria. -- Daniel Drezner, Foreign Policy, September 18, 2012. (CW: note that neither the West Bank nor the Gaza Strip [on the Mediterranean] abuts Syria)

Obviously, as you know, Syria is Iran's only Arab ally in the region. Syria is the route that allows Iran to supply Hezbollah with weapons in Lebanon. Syria is Iran's route to the sea. -- Mitt Romney, April 2012 (Note that the West Bank does not abut Syria.)

A reader counted at least five times in which Romney has [called Syria 'Iran's route to the sea'].... Syria shares no border with Iran -- Iraq and Turkey are in the way -- and ... Iran has about 1,500 miles of coastline along the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, leading to the Arabian Sea. -- Glenn Kessler, April 19, 2012

Here's another helpful map from Josh Fruhlinger of Wonkette:


 


If somebody is dumb enough to ask me to go to political convention and say something, they're gonna have to take what they get. -- Clint Eastwood, on his GOP convention appearance

Mitt Romney is dumb enough. -- Constant Weader

Jed Lewison of Daily Kos on the Romney's "hilarious comeback attempt" -- highlighting a 14-year-old audio tape in which Obama said he believed in "a certain level of redistribution ... to make sure that everybody has got a shot." Earth to Willard: everybody believes in that, including -- maybe today only & maybe for the ears of the lumpenproletariat only -- you, Willard. While he was attacking Obama's old redistribution comment, Rmoney said, "I believe the right course for America is one where government steps in to help people in need -- we're a compassionate people -- but then we let people build their own lives." See, Mitt, when you take money from some people & give it to some other people, whether you do it out of compassion or because it's the law -- that's redistribution. You lunkhead.

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney borrowed $20 million for his presidential campaign in August, a campaign official said on Tuesday, money that helped carry Mr. Romney through the Republican convention until he could tap into tens of millions of dollars in general election money his campaign raised.... The cash crunch appeared to have been more dire than previously disclosed."

Ben Yagoda of Slate interviews Randy Newman about his new single, "I'm Dreaming":

Congressional Races

Nate Silver: "Democrats are now favored to retain control of the Senate when the new Congress convenes in January, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast, breaking a summer stalemate during which control of the chamber appeared about equally likely to go either way."

Fred Thys of WBUR: "A WBUR poll of 507 likely Massachusetts voters ... finds Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren leading Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, 45 percent to 40 percent. The survey has a 4.4 percent margin of error. The WBUR poll, conducted Sept. 15-17..., is the fourth released this week to find Warren making gains." Via Greg Sargent.

Local News

Kate Zernike of the New York Times: "... for much of the last year, Democrats and independent budget analysts have argued that [New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's] current budget was built on wishful thinking.... Mr. Christie dismissed those doubters as 'rooting for failure.' On Tuesday, his frequent assertions of a 'New Jersey Comeback' came under fresh scrutiny, this time from Standard & Poor's, which downgraded the state's financial outlook to negative from stable. The ratings agency said it lowered its outlook because it believed the governor's revenue projections for the current fiscal year were overly optimistic, warning that the budget was structurally unsound." (Contributor Marvin Schwalb mentioned this is yesterday's Comments .)

News Ledes

New York Times: "Italy's supreme court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of 23 Americans in the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian cleric in Milan, making it the first case to successfully challenge the contentious American program of extraordinary rendition. The ruling opened the way for the extradition of the defendants, who were tried in absentia. But legal experts said it was unlikely the Italian government would initiate proceedings any time soon."

Chicago Tribune: "More than 350,000 Chicago public school students returned to class this morning after union officials overwhelmingly called off a seven-day teachers strike."

Reuters: "A French magazine ridiculed the Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday by portraying him naked in cartoons, threatening to fuel the anger of Muslims around the world who are already incensed by a film depiction of him as a womanizing buffoon. The French government, which had urged the magazine not to print the images, said it was temporarily shutting down premises including embassies and schools in 20 countries on Friday, when protests sometimes break out after Muslim prayers."

Space: "For the last time in history, a space shuttle soared into the skies over Florida on Wednesday (Sept. 19). Rather than riding on rockets and heading into orbit however, the space shuttle Endeavour was mounted atop a jumbo jet and is destined for a California museum's display."

Monday
Sep172012

Caught on Tape

During the next 48 hours & beyond you will likely hear or read quite a few boneheaded pundits saying that the Romney Tapes are just like Barack Obama's "guns & religion" remark. Libertarian Conor Friedersdorf (here) & David Graham (here), both of the Atlantic, have already rolling out that meme. They are wrong. The comparison is facile and, well, stupid.

The similarities are obvious. Both men were running for president. Both were speaking at what they thought was a private meeting. Both were speaking to wealthy donors. Both were talking about how to persuade voters. Both said things they would have "rephrased" for general public consumption. And both were caught on tape.

But that's where the similarities end. The thrust of their remarks could not be more different.

Read what Obama said.

... the places where we are going to have to do the most work are the places where people feel most cynical about government. The people are mis-appre...I think they're misunderstanding why the demographics in our, in this contest have broken out as they are. Because everybody just ascribes it to 'white working-class don't wanna work -- don't wanna vote for the black guy.' That's...there were intimations of that in an article in the Sunday New York Times today - kind of implies that it's sort of a race thing....

So the questions you're most likely to get about me, 'Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What's the concrete thing?' What they wanna hear is -- so, we'll give you talking points about what we're proposing -- close tax loopholes, roll back, you know, the tax cuts for the top 1 percent. Obama's gonna give tax breaks to middle-class folks and we're gonna provide health care for every American.... Our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives....

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

There is a fundamental difference here. Obama is explaining, albeit in a ham-handed way, why people in these forgotten town have given up. But he does not write off the people. He is sympathetic to their plight. He gets -- or thinks he gets -- why they are cynical. Given all that, he still wants to convince them that government can help them. He wants them to feel that once again they have a stake in the American system.

Obama's view of people who are down on their luck is the exactly the opposite of Romney's attitude.

Obama wants to give these people hope. Romney writes off the very same people -- these losers who don't earn enough to pay taxes.

Obama says circumstances have beat these people down. It is exterior factors (hmm, like Bain Capital outsourcing offshoring their jobs) -- factors largely beyong these individuals' control -- that have caused small-town people to become "cynical" & to look for scapegoats & crutches. Romney, the offshoring pioneer, says these people are moochers who have failed to take "personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Obama says he wants to give these people another shot at the American dream. Romney says it's "not his job to worry about those people."

Obama wants to include these people, even knowing they may reject him. Romney has already excluded them. In their unguarded moments, Obama illuminates the Democrats' big tent, Romney illustrates Republicans disdain for ordinary Americans.

Carl Sandburg once said the ugliest word in the English language was "exclusive." Mitt Romney illustrates why.  


If you wish to comment on this post, you can do so in the Comments section of the September 18 Commentariat, posted below.