If the Governor will release five years of returns, I commit in turn that we will not criticize him for not releasing more — neither in ads nor in other public communications or commentary for the rest of the campaign. -- Jim Messina, Obama campaign manager to Matt Rhoades, Romney campaign manager; via Greg Sargent ...
... As Steve Kornacki says, "an offer Mitt will definitely refuse" ...
... Update from Felicia Sonmez, et al., of the Washington Post: "Mitt Romney's presidential campaign Friday rejected a new call from the Obama campaign to release five years of tax returns, while trumpeting a surge in support for the Republican ticket since Romney chose Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate."
John Stanton of BuzzFeed: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office isn’t backing down from its charges Mitt Romney may have not paid taxes over the years and demanding he release a decades worth or returns -- despite Romney's assertion Thursday that he's paid at least 13 percent in taxes over the last decade. 'We'll believe it when we see it. Until Mitt Romney releases his tax returns, Americans will continue to wonder what he's hiding. Romney seems to think he plays by a different set of rules than every other presidential candidate for the last thirty years, all of whom lived up to the standard of transparency set by Mitt Romney's father and released their tax returns," Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson told Buzzfeed ... Thursday." ...
David Firestone of the New York Times: "At some level, Mr. Romney doesn't seem to understand that voters don't automatically trust the assurances and promises of politicians. He and his wife seem genuinely shocked that they are being pressed to provide paperwork.... This haughty trust-me attitude -- why can't we escape these pestering questions and run on our own obvious goodness and decency? -- extends to the rest of Mr. Romney's campaign."
... Ezra Klein: "I find it a bit difficult to believe that Romney has paid more than 13 percent every year.... One thing he could be doing when he says he paid more than 13 percent every year for the past 10 years is referring to the rate he paid on his taxable income as opposed to his [adjusted gross income]. That would make it easy for him to say that he paid more than 13 percent, but he wouldn't have paid more than 13 percent by the normal standards of accounting." ...
... David Dayen: "Also, there's the matter that 13% is an obscene federal income tax rate for someone with the income of a Mitt Romney." Dayen's whole post is quite good. ...
... CW: one aspect of Romney's MYOB statement I meant to zero in on yesterday was: "But every year I've paid at least 13 percent and if you add in addition the amount that goes to charity, well the number gets well above 20 percent." First, the "gifts to charity" are of course tax deductions, so his charitable giving is a loss to the government. Second, we know from the part of his 2010 tax returns he's released that the Romneys' contributions to "charity" are overwhelmingly to the Mormon Church. So every year he is literally taking millions from Washington & sending it to Salt Lake City. Third, it is notable that in Romney's mind, paying taxes to the federal government & more-or-less tithing to his church are kinda the same thing. He seems incapable of separating church and state. That is not surprising -- his faith teaches that Jesus made a special post-resurrection trip to the U.S. & that the U.S. Constitution is a sacred document. The First Amendment, from this point-of-view, would be a sacrilege. And I would guess anything other than an originalist interpretation of the Constitution would be, too.
Ginger Gibson of Politico: "... after the 10-minute and 11-second news conference [yesterday], Romney shed no new light on how he would overhaul the 47-year-old federal health care program for senior citizens and how (or if) his program differs from that of his running mate's much-maligned proposal that is part of an effort to slash the federal budget deficit." CW: Gibson all but says Romney either doesn't know what he's talking about or he's obfuscating. This is a straight news story. ...
... Sam Baker of The Hill: "Republicans insist they're playing offense on Medicare and argue the fall campaign will prove that Democrats do not have the upper hand on the issue.... [Ryan's] budget proposals for the past two years kept the $716 billion in Medicare cuts that he is now attacking, while repealing the rest of the healthcare law. That has led to an awkward handful of news cycles in which Romney had to distance himself from his new running mate's embrace of Medicare cuts.... Democrats argue the Ryan pick has shifted the focus from jobs to Medicare, where they feel they have the advantage, while muddling Romney's Medicare attack against Obama. And neither Republican is making a detailed pitch for his Medicare plan."
... Kate Pickert of Time has a good explanation of what the ObamaCare cuts actually do. "The idea ... that the Affordable Care Act struck a dangerous blow to Medicare that will change the program in fundamental ways is untrue. Under the new law, Medicare will remain a wildly popular, public single-payer health insurance system that provides comprehensive coverage to millions of Americans."
New York Times Editors: "A careful presidential campaign would put distance between itself and a businessman like [Sheldon] Adelson [whose business is under investigation for a number of possibly illegal activities]. Instead, this one is cultivating him. Mr. Romney recently met with him in Israel, and Mr. Ryan this week paid homage to him and other big donors in a private casino for high-rollers on the 36th floor of Mr. Adelson's Venetian hotel. By allowing Mr. Adelson to have such an outsize role in their race, the candidates themselves are placing a very risky bet.
I'm not one [of those] people who votes for something then writes to the government to ask them to send us money. I did not request any stimulus money. -- Paul Ryan, 2010
In 2009, Ryan wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis asking for stimulus money to cover costs on two energy conservation projects in his home state of Wisconsin. In the letter, Ryan said the funds would help create jobs and reduce 'energy consumption' in the state. At least one of the companies received the requested cash. -- Gregory Krieg, ABC News
I never asked for stimulus. I don't recall … so I really can't comment on it. I opposed the stimulus because it doesn't work, it didn't work. -- Paul Ryan, Wednesday
After having these letters called to my attention I checked into them, and they were treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled. This is why I didn't recall the letters earlier. But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that. Regardless, it's clear that the Obama stimulus did nothing to stimulate the economy, and now the President is asking to do it all over again. -- Paul Ryan, yesterday in a statement
Watch, especially, Maddow's discussion with Ezra Klein, which begins at about 12:30 in.
... Alan Semuels of the Los Angeles Times: reporters keep hounding Paul Ryan on why he's just flip-flopped on major positions he's held for years. ...
... Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon: "Ryan has built his image on being a straight-talking intellectual statesmen who is willing to fight for what he thinks is needed, regardless of the political costs. This is likely part of the reason why Romney, who suffers from a perception of being overly malleable, selected Ryan as his VP." CW: so how's that workin' out for ya, Paul?
Sandra Fluke, in an NBC commentary, lists some of the stunning "anti-woman" votes Paul Ryan has cast. Fluke's larger point is that "Ryan's record on women's issues is so far outside the mainstream that many find it unbelievable.... If voters assume no one could be that bad, and don't learn the truth about Ryan's record, Romney/Ryan will have the opportunity to put their vision for women's health and economic security into action." ...
CW: This is a problem on other issues -- like their planned cuts to social welfare programs. The other day I made a comment on Politico (I think it was) where I mentioned George Bush's unfunded wars. I got the same response Fluke did -- people wrote in saying things like "prove it." (I did, in a follow-up comment.) People who take the trouble to read and comment on political articles obviously are actively interested in politics. Yet many are woefully ignorant. Millions of voters probably view GOP policies as "too bad to be true."
Fun & Games with Paul Ryan. Matt Miller of the Washington Post teaches you on how to recognize when altar boy Paul Ryan is lying. (Yeah, I know -- when his lips are moving.) Miller is really offended.
... CW: The video Miller links to crashed my Adobe Flash program 5 times. The 2-minute clip that (I think) the Miller-linked video covers begins 4:50 into the video below. I watched the whole segment; despite his best effort, Hume was never able to get Ryan to give truthful answers to his major questions:
I mean, I think that he's a practical conservative. He's got a very conservative voting record, but he's not a knuckle-dragger, all right? -- John Boehner, in praise of Paul Ryan ...
... CW: Digby has a very substantive post on Boehner & Ryan. But what struck me was the gaffiness of Boehner's remark. He is calling his teabagger buddies "knuckledraggers." Since Boehner made his comments on Fox "News," they probably were all watching. I don't think dissing his knuckledragger caucus improves Boehner's chances of retaining his leadership position.
Paul Harris of the Guardian looks into "Opsec," the group that is swiftboating President Obama.
Andy Borowitz publishes Paul Ryan's "Song of Himself." Apologies to Walt Whitman. Thanks to Kate M. for the link.
@alan: not sure about that:
Alex Koppelman of the New Yorker uses moderate Republican Chris Shays' whopping defeat to wrestler lady Linda McMahon in Connecticut's U.S. Senate Republican primary as inspiration for a review of the state of the Congress -- and the polarization of the nation.
New York Times: "The first criminal prosecution of Planned Parenthood came to an abrupt end Friday when Kansas prosecutors dropped all charges against a local affiliate accused of failing to determine the viability of fetuses before abortions were performed."
New York Times: "The anxieties of an unexpected landing in war-ravaged Syria were compounded for passengers on an Air France flight when they were asked by the crew if they couldn't possibly, you know, come up with some cash to help out with the refueling."
AP: "Unemployment rates rose in 44 U.S. states in July, the most states to show a monthly increase in more than three years and a reflection of weak hiring nationwide."
Salon: "In a decision as predictable as it was stomach-churning, three members of the Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot were found guilty Friday of hooliganism for a protest in a cathedral last winter. The judge declared that they had engaged in 'homosexual propaganda' and 'imitated demonic attacks.' The women, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova -- who have already spent six months in jail -- received a sentence of two years imprisonment." ...
... Washington Post Update: "At his daily briefing, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration is 'disappointed by the Pussy Riot verdict. While we understand the group's behavior was offensive for some, we have concerns about the way these young women were treated by the Russian judicial system.'"
Guardian: "A major diplomatic row over the fate of the fugitive Julian Assange erupted after the WikiLeaks founder was offered political asylum by Ecuador to escape extradition from Britain over allegations of serious sexual assaults. The [British] foreign secretary, William Hague..., said Assange would be arrested if he leaves the embassy in London where he has lived for nearly two months. Ecuador's decision has also angered the Swedish authorities...."
AP: "A federal court on Thursday gave five Florida counties four extra days of early voting in this fall's elections. The Republican-controlled Florida legislature last year cut the state's number of early-voting days to 8 from 12. But the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said the changes won't happen in Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe counties, which are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965."
AP: "Iraqi officials said Friday that a blistering string of attacks across the country the previous day ultimately killed at least 93 people, as the extent of the violence grew clearer and mourners started to bury their dead."