Q&A with Frank Rich: why Harry Reid is no Joe McCarthy. And other stuff.
In a New York Times opinion piece, Jon Grinspan compares 19th-century political "discourse" & voting practices to today's campaigns. Things have been worse.
Dana Milbank on the newest McCarthy: "Andrew McCarthy's work is providing the intellectual underpinnings -- such as they are -- for Rep. Michele Bachmann's outrageous suggestion that Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood." Milbank so thoroughly tears McCarthy's attack of Abedin to shreds that McCarthy ends up saying, "I'm a whack job, I guess."
Mark Bittman of the New York Times forgets about food & pleads for gun contro'. Good for him.
Jim Salter of the AP: "At a pivotal national meeting, members of the largest group for American nuns have been weighing whether they should accept or challenge a Vatican order to reform.... The president of the nuns group, Sister Pat Farrell, is expected to make an announcement Friday as the meeting ends. She has indicated in her public remarks this week that the sisters may not formulate a definitive response."
Jennifer Preston of the New York Times: "Leadership changes at the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure six months after an online uproar over a decision to cut funds for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood was greeted with skepticism on Thursday among breast cancer advocates and longtime former supporters."
An Employee of the New York Times & Damien Cave: on top of everything else, a crime wave in Syria.
Jonathan Easley of The Hill: "Obama’s lead in the [new] CNN-ORC poll is buoyed by men and independents -- two groups that until recently had favored Romney. Obama leads 53 percent to 42 among independents, and has a 6 percentage point advantage among men. Romney's unfavorability rating climbed considerably in the poll."
Mike Allen of Politico: "Advisers to President Barack Obama are scripting a Democratic National Convention featuring several Republicans in a prime-time appeal to independents — and planning a blistering portrayal of Mitt Romney as a heartless aristocrat who 'would devastate the American middle class' ...."
You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad. They were embarrassed. Today, they just blast ahead. You know, the various fact checkers look at some of these charges in the Obama ads and they say that they're wrong, and inaccurate, and yet he just keeps on running them. -- Mitt Romney, Thursday, apparently with a straight face
... Paul Waldman of American Prospect writes on Romney's welfare attack ad & echoes my view of Newt's "rationale" for it: "In my former career as an academic I did a lot of research on political ads.... I cannot recall a single presidential campaign ad in the history of American politics that lied more blatantly than this one.... Newt's argument is ... that although the Romney ad makes false claims, that's OK because Barack Obama and those who work for him are, in Newt's opinion, the kind of people who would gut work requirements if they could, so therefore it's OK to say that they are actually doing it, even though they aren't." ...
The Obama camp hits back on the welfare claim:
... Michael Cohen of the New York Daily News: "So Mitt Romney has two new ads out this week, and they offer a pretty clear indication of his larger political problem: He hasn't closed the deal with conservatives. First there was an ad on Monday that that accused Obama of gutting welfare reform.... Then there is an ad [Thursday] that accuses President Obama of declaring a war on religion because of his decision to force employers to offer contraceptive services to women.... Both of these ads are deeply dishonest.... Accusing Obama of a 'war on religion' is the height of political slander.... And once again it's completely hypocritical: when Romney was governor he went along (without comment) with a similar contraceptive policy in Massachusetts." ...
... CW: following Cohen's logic, I'd say Romney would have to choose Paul Ryan as his running mate, though Ed Rendell's suggestion that Romney choose Michele Bachmann would be great, too. Michael Shear & Trip Gabriel write in today's New York Times: "That Mr. Romney has not yet named his vice-presidential nominee has created an opening for social and economic conservatives to pressure him publicly, and they have taken the opportunity to make an aggressive case for Representative of Wisconsin."
CW: I wouldn't link to an Erskine Bowles op-ed if that pompous deficit hawk bashed Mitt Romney. Oh, wait, here's Bowles in the Washington Post complaining that Romney's budget wouldn't cut the deficit: "This month, Romney said that his tax reform proposal is 'very similar to the Simpson-Bowles plan.' How I wish it were. I will be the first to cheer if Romney decides to embrace our plan. Unfortunately, the numbers say otherwise: His reform plan leaves too many tax breaks in place and, as a result, does nothing to reduce the debt." Sometimes one has to compromise one's principles for the greater good.
The Obama campaign's latest. CW: I'm going to have to look up that "Son of Boss" story. It's news to me:
Okay, here ya go.... Grace Wyler of Business Insider: "The ad, "Son of Boss," pivots off of a new CNN op-ed from tax lawyer Peter C. Canellos and tax expert Edward D. Kleinbard":
Peter C. Canellos, a tax attorney & former chair of the New York State Bar Association Tax Section, & tax expert Edward D. Kleinbard, former chief of staff of Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation, in a CNN opinion piece: for years, Mitt Romney was on the board of directors of Marriott International, & "from 1993 to 1998, Romney was the head of the audit committee of the Marriott board. During that period, Marriott engaged in a series of complex and high-profile maneuvers, including 'Son of Boss,' a notoriously abusive prepackaged tax shelter.... In this respect, Marriott was in the vanguard of a then-emerging corporate tax shelter bubble that substantially undermined the entire corporate tax system..., perhaps the largest tax avoidance scheme in history.... The Son of Boss transaction was listed by the [IRS] as an abusive transaction, requiring specific disclosure and subject to heavy penalties.... The government brought successful criminal prosecutions against a number of individuals involved in Son of Boss.... Romney approved the firm's reporting of fictional tax losses exceeding $70 million generated by its Son of Boss transaction." ...
... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "In February, Bloomberg News reported on Romney's role as head of Marriott's audit board, including his approval of the 'Son of Boss" transactions.' Lewison quotes the Bloomberg piece. ...
... Ashley Killough of CNN: "Team Obama said the ad will run in the same states that Romney's bus tour will cross in the coming week, including Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio -- all battleground states."
Antics. CNN: "The Democratic National Committee is rolling out another bus tour to trail Mitt Romney's own over the weekend through key battle ground states, harping on the Republican candidate's economic policies as throwing 'the middle class under the bus.'" And speaking of buses ...
... Network: "NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, is inviting Governor Mitt Romney to spend a day with Catholic Sisters who work every day to meet the needs of struggling families in their communities..., people who will be further harmed by his proposed budget cuts and by the terribly divisive and demeaning political advertisements about welfare. The Sisters' invitation comes after recent false attacks from Mr. Romney that demonstrate his lack of understanding of the struggles families and children face as they work to get out of poverty.... As NETWORK demonstrated in their recent 'Nuns on the Bus' tour, budget cuts proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan and endorsed by Mitt Romney will hurt struggling families throughout the nation. The Romney-Ryan budget would devastate services such as nutrition assistance, childhood education and job training that provide pathways out of poverty for millions of families." Via Steve Benen. Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.
Maggie Haberman of Politico: "Bill Burton, the main face of Priorities USA Action, refused to back away from an ad that the pro-President Obama super PAC unveiled yesterday, despite blowback from Republicans and fact-checks that have questioned the account the spot relays. 'What fact in that ad is wrong?' Burton said as he pushed back on a fairly feisty Wolf Blitzer during an interview on the CNN set."
Aviva Shen of Think Progress: "The Romney campaign ... has seized on a new soundbite to distort. The campaign sent an email blast Thursday afternoon featuring a video of an Obama rally in Colorado from earlier that day and falsely claimed that he wants the government to bail out every industry."
Turns out the Romney Liars & Hypocrites Club is bilingual. Lawrence Downes explains in the New York Times.
AND Donald Trump turned down a chance to speak at the GOP convention. CW: uh-huh. A spokesperson for Trump said the former millionaire had given his fortune to the obscure Order of Oopsus Daisi, & has entered a monastery where he has taken a vow of silence. (Well, that's as believable as the "turned down a chance to speak" story.) ...
... CW: guess I was wrong. Jennifer Wlach of ABC News: "Donald Trump will have a 'major role' at the Republican National Convention, an aide to the real estate mogul tells ABC News."
** Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "In the battle for control of the Senate, no race has received as much financial attention as the reelection bid of Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, with outside conservative groups working together to pour tens of millions of dollars into Ohio's airwaves to try to unseat him.... The Brown-Mandel campaign is a case study of the aggressive fundraising and spending this election season by interest groups outside the candidates' campaign operations. And because many of the groups behind the spending are not required to disclose their donors, the effort has created a virtual shadow campaign that will probably far exceed what Mandel spends on his campaign."
AP: Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS "says it will stop airing a television ad that is critical of North Dakota Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp's record as attorney general. The ad claims when Heitkamp was attorney general during the 1990s, she spent taxpayer money on private airplanes. Heitkamp on Thursday called the statement 'completely false' and asked TV stations to quit running it.... Heitkamp says ... her office got two surplus planes for free from the Department of Defense. One was flown on anti-drug missions. The second was used for spare parts." Via Greg Sargent.
Cameron Joseph of The Hill: Missouri's GOP Senate nominee "Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) voted against the creation of a national sex offender registry and against reauthorizing a program that assists runaway and homeless children. Both bills passed by wide margins with strong bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled House.... Democrats believe votes like these can be used to paint Akin as too conservative for the state."
Joe Swickard & Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press: "Four staffers of former U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter, R-Livonia, [Michigan,] were charged today in connection with the false nominating petitions that led to McCotter's departure from Congress. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette described the four as 'not simply Keystone Kops running amok ... criminal acts were committed.'"
CW: this New York Post story was way too entertaining to ignore: "They must have rubbed Mayor Bloomberg the wrong way. City officials pulled the plug on a vibrator giveaway by the Trojan condom company yesterday, disappointing potentially thousands of pleasure-seeking women.... Trojan sent tingles of excitement across the city when it announced the giveaway of some 10,000 vibrating sex toys from hot-dog-style pushcarts.... But instead of climaxing in a successful giveaway, the promotion was prematurely interrupted by City Hall, which sent a dark-suited representative to put the squeeze on Trojan's 'Pleasure Carts.'" ...
... Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Breaking! For $3,100, Trojan was granted the permit they need to please the masses, and will try again on 14th Street between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. tonight. Patience, people."
New York Times: "Now that the murder trial of Gu Kailai has ended, far more detailed accounts have emerged from inside the courtroom of the case that prosecutors built against Ms. Gu, the wife of one of China's most ambitious leaders. The accounts show her plotting with allies, including the local police chief, to protect her son from what she saw as the blackmail demands of the British business associate she is believed to have killed."
Bloomberg News: "The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today proposed new regulations that would revamp how American homeowners interact with mortgage servicers. One set of rules aims to provide homeowners with clearer, timelier information about changes to interest rates and options for avoiding foreclosure. A second set of rules requires servicers to credit payments promptly, correct errors, stay accessible and limit foreclosures if homeowners are working on loan modifications."
Washington Post: "The long-moribund housing market has bustled to life, with prices and new-home construction rising in recent weeks. Hiring, so weak earlier this year, picked up last month. And on Thursday, the government reported an acceleration of a downward trend in the number of people seeking unemployment insurance, as well as a sharp improvement in U.S. exports. Together, the signs point to an improving economy, a potentially important shift for President Obama's re-election campaign." ...
... BUT. CNN: "A new national survey indicates that the number of Americans who say things are going badly in the country is on the rise, as a growing number of people believe that economic conditions are getting worse."
New York Times: "Federal authorities ended two investigations into the actions of Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis, handing a quiet victory to the bank after years of public scrutiny. In a statement late Thursday, the Justice Department said there was 'not a viable basis to bring a criminal prosecution' against Goldman or its employees after a Congressional committee asked prosecutors to examine if the bank had been involved with any illegal acts related to several mortgage deals."
AP: "Thousands of mourners are expected to pay their final respects to the half-dozen Sikh worshippers gunned down by a white supremacist at their Wisconsin temple over the weekend.... Dignitaries scheduled to attend include U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan."