I didn't have time to write a column today, but I did write a letter to Andy Rosenthal, the Times' editorial page editor & Greg Brock, the Times' corrections editor, about David Brooks' column today. You can read it here.
Donna Cassata of the AP: "Automatic cuts in federal spending will cost the economy more than 2 million jobs, from defense contracting to border security to education, if Congress fails to resolve the looming budget crisis, according to an analysis released Tuesday."
Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times on "pop-up SuperPACS" -- groups that put up a pretense of being non-profits, tax-exempt, issues-oriented organizations, spend millions to defeat a candidate, then disband -- or go bankrupt. CW: Seriously, we have no campaign finance regulations. Rich people just do what they want & say what they want.
Matt Isaacs, et al., of Frontline: "... some of the methods [Sheldon] Adelson used in Macau to save his company and help build a personal fortune estimated at $25 billion have come under expanding scrutiny by federal and Nevada investigators...." ...
... Here's the Rachel Maddow segment on Adelson, which contributor Victoria D. recommends:
Sam Dolnick of the New York Times: "A company [with close ties to Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)] that plays a critical role in New Jersey's corrections system, running halfway houses as large as prisons, has had such severe financial difficulties over the last four years that it contemplated filing for bankruptcy in 2010, according to newly disclosed documents.... Mr. Christie has long championed the company. Not long before Mr. Christie took office in January 2010, Community Education defaulted on its debt...."
MOOCs! Tamar Lewin of the New York Times: "As part of a seismic shift in online learning that is reshaping higher education, Coursera, a year-old company founded by two Stanford University computer scientists, will announce on Tuesday that a dozen major research universities are joining the venture. In the fall, Coursera will offer 100 or more free massive open online courses, or MOOCs, that are expected to draw millions of students and adult learners globally.... And some of them will offer credit.
David Nakamura of the Washington Post: At an exhibition game at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., last night, President Obama predicted the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team would bring home the gold, but the Obamas' performance on the Center's "Kiss Cam" got more attention:
Callum Borchers of the Boston Globe: "In recent days, Romney and his defenders have begun to say Romney left his 'day-to-day' duties at Bain Capital ... in February 1999, seemingly absolving him of responsibility for any bankruptcies, layoffs or offshore outsourcing after 1999.... But these statements address only the straw-man attack articulated by ... Karl Rove -- 'that [Romney] didn't take a leave of absence to go run the Olympic Committee and continued to run Bain.' However, Romney established a much stricter standard of separation when he asserted on his most recent financial disclosure form that he 'has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way' since he took over the Olympics...."
Drip, Drip. Oh. A "Transition Period." David Corn of Mother Jones has more from the 2002 hearing to determine whether Romney met the Massachusetts residency requirement for gubernatorial candidates: 'Did you remain more or less continuously in Salt Lake City from February '99 to the end of the year?' Romney answered: 'Actually, there was some transition away from my work in Boston for the first few months and then I pretty much stayed there after.' ... The lawyer, after referring to this 'transition,' asked, 'So from February through the end of the year you were pretty much full-time out in Utah, right?' Romney replied: 'Well again, the beginning of the year was a good deal of time back and forth, but towards the last half of the year it was pretty much exclusively in Utah.'" ...
... Sal Gentile of NBC News: Ed Conard..., a partner at Bain Capital from 1993 to 2007, said in an ... interview with Up w/ Chris Hayes ... that Romney was 'legally' the chief executive officer and sole owner of Bain Capital until 2002, not 1999 as Romney has previously stated, and said that Romney was engaged in a 'complicated set of negotiations' over his exit pay for at least two years after he says he left the firm.... Asked if the factory closures and lay-offs that occurred between 1999 and 2002 were characteristic of Bain Capital's record before 1999, Conard said, 'I believe that's true, yes. I think that Bain Capital does what Bain Capital does, which is try to make companies stronger and grow them faster." With video. ...
... Digby: "Romney stayed on at Bain from 99-2002 because he was holding up his partners for as much as he could get.... I guess they must figure that's a better way to explain it than having to answer why he would have been involved with a fetus disposal company."
... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones says it appears Romney didn't do much for Bain during the 1999-2001 period, so all the brouhaha is moot: "The only problem is that back during the primaries [Romney] became so desperate to avoid being tainted by the unpopular aspects of running a ruthless private equity firm that he panicked.... He can't run from Bain, and he shouldn't have tried." ...
... Andrew Sullivan: "... the question of whether Romney committed a felony in his financial disclosure form is a very real one -- because Romney and Romney's lawyer provide the strongest evidence that it was perjury.... Republicans ... impeached a sitting president for [perjury]. But their current candidate is an obvious perjurer and thereby a felon."
Yay! A left-wing conspiracy theory! Brian Knowlton of the New York Times: Chicago Mayor Rahm "Emanuel suggested that [Romney's] undisclosed returns could hold only bad news about Mr. Romney's finances, and might even have played a role in Senator John McCain's decision to reject Mr. Romney as a running mate in 2008 and turn instead to Sarah Palin. Mr. Romney gave Mr. McCain's team 23 years of returns. 'The Romney campaign ... have decided that it's better to get attacked on a lack of transparency, lack of accountability to the American people, versus telling you what's in those taxes,' Emmanuel said.' ...
... John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "It's only fair to assume that Mitt is doing what he always does: acting on the basis of a careful cost-benefit analysis. [George] Will's comments on this were spot on: 'The cost of not releasing the returns are clear,' he said. 'Therefore, [Romney] must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.' But what information could the earlier tax returns contain...? Here are four possibilities: 1. Extremely high levels of income.... 2. More offshore accounts.... 3. Politically explosive investments.... 4. A very, very low tax rate." ...
... Kevin Drum: "... there are probably multiple years in which Romney paid no taxes at all." ...
... Gee, the Obama campaign thought of that, too. This ad, per Greg Sargent, goes up in Pennsylvania today:
... The ad builds on this independently-produced video, via Jim Fallows of The Atlantic:
Here's a DNC Web video, using winger pundits to hit Romney for not releasing his tax returns:
Glenn Kessler, the WashPo's so-called fact-checker, gets one right: "In trying to fend off demands ... that presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney release more than two years of tax returns, his campaign has sought to claim that releasing two years of tax returns is normal.... [John] McCain did release two years of tax returns [in 2008], but the Romney campaign is being misleading with its suggestions that releasing two years of tax returns is some sort of standard for presidential contenders. Two years is actually the exception -- only one challenger out of the last seven presidential nominees has released just two years of returns."
Mitt Romney, Time Traveler. Dana Milbank: "Retroactive retirement! It was a brilliant formulation..., and it raised tantalizing possibilities: If Romney can do it, perhaps others can go back in time to rearrange events.... The Obama campaign's attacks on Romney's outsourcing, his foreign tax havens and his work at Bain are often unfair, not entirely accurate and sometimes downright mean -- just as they should be. ...
... Gene Robinson: "If Romney really does have the power to bend time and space, he might want to retroactively clean up the mess he’s made."
** David Firestone of the New York Times: "... to deflect attention from its troubles with Bain Capital, the Romney campaign is hyperventilating over the coziness [of President Obama and his campaign bundlers], as if it is unprecedented.... A new ad claims that Mr. Obama loves his 'donor class' more than the middle class.... But how did the Romney campaign ... know who the Obama bundlers were? Because the Obama campaign disclosed them, though it is not required to do so. And that's something the Romney campaign has refused to do.... Favoritism is a bad business, a stain on every administration.... But an ad like Mr. Romney's, encompassing hypocrisy, deceit and secrecy, may be even worse."
Charlie Cook of the National Journal: "The strategic decision by the Romney campaign not to define him personally -- not to inoculate him from inevitable attacks -- seems a perverse one. Given his campaign's ample financial resources, the decision not to run biographical or testimonial ads, in effect to do nothing to establish him as a three-dimensional person, has left him open to the inevitable attacks for his work at Bain Capital, on outsourcing, and on his investments.... Aside from a single spot aired in the spring by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, not one personal positive ad has been aired on Romney's behalf."
Mobutu Sese Seko of Gawker really likes the new Obama ad featuring Romney singing "America the Beautiful" while "the quotes about him highlight the shallowness of his patriotism and national benefit of his business expertise." Seko makes a good argument for why Romney's whiney response to questions about when he left Bain really isn't working.
Nia-Malika Henderson & David Nakamura of the Washington Post: "President Obama used an hour-long town hall event [in Cincinnati, Ohio] Monday to mock Republican Mitt Romney's economic plan as one that would create jobs only overseas":
AND, the word from ...
Right Wing World
Robert Mackey of the New York Times: "The news that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's motorcade was pelted with shoes and tomatoes by Egyptian protesters ... as she left the U.S. consulate in Alexandria on Sunday, delighted conservative bloggers in the United States.... The extent to which the Egyptians who vented their rage ... appear to have been inspired by fears that the Obama administration harbors a secret, pro-Islamist agenda which originated with American conservatives." CW: Michele Bachmann is laughable, but she can do real harm to U.S. international relations, and that ain't so funny.
Fed Chair Ben Bernanke urges Congress to get off the "fiscal cliff":
The Do-Nothing Fed Urges the Do-Nothing Congress to Do Something. New York Times: "The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said Tuesday that the Fed was seeking greater clarity about the health of the recovery, suggesting that officials were not ready to approve another round of stimulus." ...
... New York Times: "Senate Democrats -- holding firm against extending tax cuts for the rich -- are proposing a novel way to circumvent the Republican pledge not to vote for any tax increase: Allow all the tax cuts to expire Jan. 1, then vote on a tax cut for the middle class shortly thereafter."
Washington Post: "William Raspberry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post whose fiercely independent views illuminated conflicts concerning education, poverty, crime and race, and who was one of the first black journalists to gain a wide following in the mainstream press, died July 17 at his home in Washington. He was 76."
Daily Beast: "The DISCLOSE Act was summarily executed via filibuster in the Senate last night. But this is one symbolic vote that mattered, because it offered at least an attempt to address the flow of hidden money into our elections."
Washington Post: "A drought gripping the Corn Belt and more than half the United States has reached proportions not seen in more than 50 years, the government reported Monday, jacking up crop prices and threatening to drive up the cost of food. Though agriculture is a small part of the U.S. economy, the shortfall comes as the nation struggles to regain its economic footing. Last week, the Agriculture Department declared more than 1,000 counties in 26 states as natural-disaster areas."
NBC News: "A 'pervasively polluted' culture at HSBC allowed the bank to act as financier to clients moving shadowy funds from the world's most dangerous and secretive corners, including Mexico, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria, according to a scathing U.S. Senate report issued on Monday. The report [link to PDF here] which comes ahead of a Senate hearing on Tuesday, said large amounts of Mexican drug money was likely to have passed through the bank."
Washington Post: "Congressional investigators said Monday that the chief counsel's office at the Food and Drug Administration authorized wide-ranging surveillance of a group of the agency's scientists, the first indication that the effort was sanctioned at the highest levels. In a letter to the FDA, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said that his staff had learned that the spying was 'explicitly authorized, in writing' by the agency's top legal office."
Reuters: "Retail sales fell in June for the third straight month, the longest run of consecutive drops since 2008 when the country was mired in recession."