** That's No Elephant; It's a Wooly Mammoth. Jonathan Chait writes a terrific feature for New York magazine: Republicans aren't paranoid; they're right -- they're becoming extinct. "Portents of this future were surely rendered all the more vivid by the startling reality that the man presiding over the new majority just happened to be, himself, young, urban, hip, and black. When jubilant supporters of Obama gathered in Grant Park on Election Night in 2008, Republicans saw a glimpse of their own political mortality. And a galvanizing picture of just what their new rulers would look like." ...
... Here's a clip of a speech that proves Chait's point. And, no, I would never accuse Rick Santorum of race-baiting:
James Hohmann of Politico: "A new Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll reveals the prolonged nominating battle is taking a toll on the GOP candidates and finds the president’s standing significantly improved from late last year. President Barack Obama’s approval rating is 53 percent, up 9 percentage points in four months. Matched up against his Republican opponents, he leads Mitt Romney by 10 points (53-43) and Rick Santorum by 11 (53-42). Even against a generic, unnamed Republican untarnished by attacks, Obama is up 5 percentage points. In November, he was tied."
** Thomas Edsall in the New York Times: "If enacted, the tax proposals Mitt Romney outlined last week to the Detroit Economic Club would provide multimillion-dollar benefits to a newly powerful constituency: the rich men and women who are bankrolling 'super PACs.' ... The Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, and a series of related cases..., have undermined the democratic character of the presidential nomination process by empowering the rich to exert disproportionate control over it.... The putative independence of presidential super PACs from the candidates they support is a fiction."
David Savage of McClatchy News: "Two years ago, the Supreme Court said corporations were like people and had the same free-speech rights to spend unlimited sums on campaigns ads. Now, in a major test of human rights law, the justices will decide whether corporations are like people when they are sued for aiding foreign regimes that kill or torture their own people.... On Tuesday, the justices will hear an appeal of a suit accusing Royal Dutch Petroleum and its Shell subsidiary in the United States of aiding a former Nigerian regime whose military police tortured, raped and executed minority residents in the oil-rich delta. The victims included famed Nigerian author and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa."
Robert Reich: "The Obama administration is proposing to lower corporate taxes from the current 35 percent to 28 percent for most companies and to 25 percent for manufacturers. The move is supposed to be 'revenue neutral' -- meaning the Administration is also proposing to close assorted corporate tax loopholes to offset the lost revenues.... Why isn’t the White House just proposing to close the loopholes without reducing overall corporate tax rates? ... It’s discouraging. The President gives a rousing speech, as he did on December 6 in Kansas. Then he misses an opportunity to put his campaign where his mouth is."
Eileen Sullivan of the AP: "Millions of dollars in White House money has helped pay for New York Police Department programs that put entire American Muslim neighborhoods under surveillance. The money is part of a little-known grant intended to help law enforcement fight drug crimes. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush and Obama administrations have provided $135 million to the New York and New Jersey region through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, known as HIDTA."
Matthew Rosenberg & Thom Shanker of the New York Times: "... American officials described a growing concern, even at the highest levels of the Obama administration and Pentagon, about the challenges of pulling off a troop withdrawal in Afghanistan that hinges on the close mentoring and training of army and police forces. Despite an American-led training effort that has spanned years and cost tens of billions of dollars, the Afghan security forces are still widely seen as riddled with dangerously unreliable soldiers and police officers." Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post tells the same story.
Still Watching. Tanzina Vega of the New York Times: "Last Thursday federal regulators, members of advertising trade groups and technology companies gathered in Washington to announce new initiatives to protect consumers’ privacy online.... The industry’s compromise on a 'Do Not Track' mechanism is one result of continuing negotiations among members of the Federal Trade Commission, which first called for such a mechanism in its initial privacy report; the Commerce Department; the White House; the Digital Advertising Alliance; and consumer privacy advocates.... Many publishers and search engines, like Google, Amazon or The New York Times, are considered 'first-party sites,' which means that the consumer goes to these Web pages directly. First-party sites can still collect data on visitors and serve them ads based on what is collected."
Jason Ullner, a career foreign service officer, in a Washington Post op-ed: "I am a federal bureaucrat. A professional government employee. And guess what? I’m damn proud of it. It seems that all I hear these days are the once and future leaders of our country tripping over themselves to denigrate the work we do.... Most of us do this job not because we want to make a lot of money but because, simply put, we want to serve our country."
Neal Ascherson in a New York Times op-ed: "If [Scottish First Minister Alex] Salmond has his way, [a referendum] vote will take place in 2014, just shy of 700 years after King Robert the Bruce defeated the English at Bannockburn. And he wants only one question on the ballot paper: 'Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?'”
Paul Krugman: on the Eurocrisis, there's a Republican story (welfare state!) and a German story (fiscal irresponsibility!), and they're both wrong.
Abby Goodnough of the New York Times: "Patrick J. Kennedy lashed out at Senator Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts on Sunday, asking him to stop invoking the name of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Mr. Kennedy’s father, in a radio advertisement about insurance coverage for contraceptives.... In a letter that the Brown campaign released on Sunday, Patrick Kennedy, a Democrat like his father, wrote: 'Providing health care to every American was the work of my father’s life. The Blunt Amendment you are supporting is an attack on that cause.'”
Right Wing World
The deficit hawks who are the Washington Post editorial board are fit to be tied: "At a time of record debts and deficits, the two leading Republican presidential candidates are proposing a path on taxes and spending likely to add trillions more. That’s the sobering conclusion of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), whose board includes six Republican former lawmakers with expertise in budget issues, three Republican former heads of the Congressional Budget Office, and two former Office of Management and Budget directors under Republican presidents." ...
... "Primary Numbers." The CRFB estimated that Romney's plan would increase deficits by $250 billion through 2021, resulting in 2021 debt levels at about 86 percent of GDP. Santorum's plan would increase deficits by $4.5 trillion through 2021, with debt levels at about 104 percent of GDP. Gingrich's proposal would increase deficits by $7.0 trillion, for a debt level at about 114 percent of GDP. But wait. Ron Paul is totally fiscally responsible: Paul's plan would reduce deficits by $2.2 trillion, yielding a 2021 debt level of about 76 percent of GDP. “However a larger portion of this debt reduction is a result of Paul’s policy to cancel all federal debt held by the Federal Reserve System.” Say what?! You can read the CRFB's executive summary here, which may be as good a comparison of the GOP candidates' budget proposals as you'll find.
** Rick Hertzberg sums up the GOP primary race as only he can. For example, here's his description of the base to whom the candidates scrape & bow: "an excitable, overlapping assortment of Fox News friends, Limbaugh dittoheads, Tea Party animals, war whoopers, nativists, Christianist fundamentalists, à la carte Catholics (anti-abortion, yes; anti-torture, no), anti-Rooseveltians (Franklin and Theodore), global-warming denialists, post-Confederate white Southrons, creationists, birthers, market idolaters, Europe demonizers, and gun fetishists."
Quotes of the Day. I like those fancy raincoats you bought. Really sprung for the big bucks. -- Mitt Romney, to a group of NASCAR fans wearing plastic ponchos at Daytona Beach
I have some great friends who are Nascar team owners. -- Mitt Romney, responding to someone asking if he was a NASCAR fan
Question of the Day. How can a guy who is so practiced at being a lying phony still be so bad at it?
Katharine Seelye of the New York Times: "Two days before the Arizona and Michigan primaries, Rick Santorum on Sunday made a broad appeal to social conservatives, arguing that religion and conservative principles are at risk, both on college campuses and in the public square. On ABC’s 'This Week,' with George Stephanopoulos, Mr. Santorum repeated his belief that President Obama is wrong — is, indeed, a 'snob' — for encouraging all Americans to go to college. And he defended his view that John F. Kennedy, before he became president, was wrong to assert that the separation of church and state should be absolute." This guy is unbelievable:
... Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM discovers that Michigan Tea Partiers agree with Santorum: Obama's push to provide broader access to higher education is just wrong. Here are a few choice quotes from the Santorum intelligentsia: "Everybody can’t be equal. Somebody needs to do the manual labor.” “It starts down at the elementary school level with all this bullshit about diversity, pardon my French... Diversity and sensitivity and all that crap.” “They try and disguise it with, you know, ‘equal opportunity.’” “It’s communism.” “Where does the social engineering stop? Does it become the Soviet Union?” ...
... BUT Dave Weigel of Slate notes, "Obama hasn't told the lumpen proletariart to go to liberal arts schools and become indoctrinated in left-wing thought and a cappela. His universal college call, which took on form in 2009, was for some kind of higher education. Trade schools? Have at it. Politically, here, it hardly matters. As he does on many topics, Santorum skillfully cracks open a policy issue and finds the culture war walnut within." Facts are such a pain.
... AND Santorum wasn't always Uneducated Man. McMorris-Santoro publishes a screengrab from Santorum's 2006 Senate campaign site. It reads, in part, "In addition to Rick's support of ensuring that primary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania are equipped for success, he is equally committed to ensuring that every Pennsylvanian has access to higher education."
... John Cole of Balloon Juice: "Nowhere in the speech did [Kennedy] dictate that people of faith could have no role in public life. Nowhere. Santorum is lying or stupid or both, and I’m going to go with both and throw in a dash of evil. What Santorum wants is not religious freedom. What he wants is the freedom to force you to live by his religious beliefs." ...
Wherein Saint Ronald of Reagan Makes Rick Santorum Throw Up: We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. -- Ronald Reagan, October 1984 ...
Digby: "I don't think Ricky understands his history very well. Evidently, he was unaware that in 1960, conservatives thought of Catholics the same way think of Muslims today. He seems under the impression that America was a wonderful religiously tolerant nation until the horrible secularists came along and ruined everything. I guess he didn't know about this, perpetuated, by the way, not by the secularists who didn't give a damn, but by his favorite allies, the right wing protestants." ...
... A Unique Way to Stop Iran from Getting Nuclear Weaponry. In case you are the last person on the planet who thinks Santorum is not sex-obsessed --
New York Times Caucus: "Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona announced on Sunday, two days before the state’s Republican presidential primary, that she would endorse Mitt Romney...." That'll help.
New York Times: "The officer leading a police investigation into Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers said on Monday that reporters and editors at The Sun tabloid had over the years paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for information not only to police officers but also to a “network of corrupted officials” in the military and the government." The Guardian story, with video of testimony, is here.
Reuters: "The trial to decide who should pay for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been delayed by a week, to allow BP Plc to try to cut a deal with tens of thousands of businesses and individuals affected by the disaster. Less than 24 hours before the case was set to start in a New Orleans federal court, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier pushed back the date to March 5 from February 27."
Reuters: "A suicide car bomber killed at least nine people in an attack on a military airport in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, officials said, the latest incident of violence and protests since copies of the Koran were inadvertently burned at a NATO base last week."
New York Times: "Russian television reported early on Monday that a joint operation by Ukrainian and Russian intelligence services succeeded in averting an assassination attempt on Vladimir V. Putin, just days before he hopes to secure a six-year presidential term which would extend his rule as Russia‘s paramount leader to 18 years."
Al Jazeera: "Senegal's presidential vote appears set for a runoff, with results indicating that incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade has failed to win an outright majority. Tallies reported since the vote finished on Sunday night show Wade leading and former Prime Minister Macky Sall close behind, suggesting the two will face off in a second round."
Guardian: "Syrian government troops fired heavy barrages of artillery and rockets on Monday into districts across Homs, where rebels have been holding out through weeks of bombardment, opposition activists said."
AP: "Pakistani authorities have reduced the house where Osama bin Laden lived for years before he was killed by U.S. commandos to rubble, destroying a concrete symbol of the country's association with one of the world's most reviled men.Workers completed the demolition job in the garrison town of Abbottabad in northwest Pakistan on Monday."