Mary Walsh & Michael Cooper of the New York Times: "The fiscal crisis for states will persist long after the economy rebounds as they confront rising health care costs, underfunded pensions, ignored infrastructure needs, eroding revenues and expected federal budget cuts, according to a report issued here Tuesday by a task force of respected budget experts." ...
... New York Times Editors: "Around the country..., states continue to face a fiscal crisis because of rising costs and Republican-driven cuts in federal aid. While some governors and lawmakers are searching for new revenue sources, others are using the downturn as an excuse to end a long tradition of states being the final backstop for society's neediest."
Matt Bai in a New York Times Magazine piece on why the Citizens United decision probably didn't make much difference. CW: it's a point of view, and some of Bai's POV might be right. ...
... For an excellent view to the contrary, Bill Moyers & Michael Winship outline some of the bad effects of Citizens United & tie those bad effects, not surprisingly, to the demise of the DISCLOSE Act this week (not a single GOP Senator voted for it). "... at the time of the ruling..., eight of the nine justices also made it clear that key to the decision was the importance of transparency. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, 'The First Amendment protects political speech and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way.'"; Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.
Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post: "New laws in 10 states requiring voters to show IDs could present serious challenges to voters without financial resources and transportation, according to a report released Wednesday. The study by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, which opposes the new laws, found several obstacles that could keep voters from being able to cast ballots, including limited access to offices that issue the IDs required under the new measures."
Steve Kornacki: "... just because a president does what voters tell pollsters they want him to do on taxes doesn't guarantee voters will understand it that way -- especially if one of the two major parties is loudly and unanimously arguing that the president has done something completely and totally different from what he says he did." CW: the bottom line here is that Republicans lie a lot & Democrats don't defend themselves against the lies. And goobers are goobers.
Ta-Nehesi Coates in the New York Times: "The problem here is not that [Joe] Paterno shamed Happy Valley, but that Happy Valley, through its broad blindness, has shamed itself."
Lisa Rein of the Washington Post: "The acting chief of the General Services Administration will announce Tuesday that he is canceling almost all bonuses for executives this year and freezing hiring after a spending scandal that prompted a major shake-up at the agency.... Of 75 career senior executives, 67 received bonuses in the last fiscal year.... The average was $9,600, the same award given to Jeffrey Neely, the organizer of the now-famous Western Regions conference. Neely got his bonus even after the inspector general" had briefed GSA leaders "on the excessive spending." CW: Um, why are bureaucrats getting bonuses anyway?
Sally McGrane of the New York Times: Denmark's "cycle superhighway, which opened in April, is the first of 26 routes scheduled to be built to encourage more people to commute to and from Copenhagen by bicycle. More bike path than the Interstate its name suggests, it is the brainchild of city planners who were looking for ways to increase bicycle use in a place where half of the residents already bike to work or to school every day." ...
... AND, by contrast, Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times on couch spuds: "... a group of groundbreaking new reports ... suggest that voluntary physical inactivity, a practice once confined mostly to North America and parts of Europe, is spreading rapidly to the rest of the world and likely contributing materially to global gains in tonnage and declines in health." CW: it isn't just a greater level of income equality that makes Danes the happiest people in the world.
So, okay, I didn't watch this hour-long interview:
... But here's a typical quote, courtesy of Taegan Goddard:
Eight years was awesome and I was famous and I was powerful. But I have no desire for fame and power anymore.... I crawled out of the swamp and I'm not crawling back in. -- George W. Bush
Charles Pierce on "David Brooks, Joe Klein & the Courtier Press."
Maureen Dowd: "Campaigning Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Romney called Obama's course as president 'extraordinarily foreign.' But it is the Mitt-bot who keeps getting caught doing things that seem strangely outside the norm to most Americans."
Alex Altman of Time on Romney's Olympic Games credentials. Even they are not as impressive as Mitt would have you believe.
Felicia Sonmez & Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "The political pressure on Mitt Romney to release more of his personal income tax returns is causing some divisions inside the GOP presidential candidate's camp, according to a Republican strategist close to the campaign. Although some advisers are arguing privately that Romney needs to release additional filings to curb the political fallout, others are resisting that suggestion...." ...
... A Helpful Rebuttal. Manu Raju of Politico: "Mitt Romney's tax returns had nothing to do with Sen. John McCain's decision to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, according to the Arizona Republican, saying he chose the former Alaska governor because she was a 'better candidate.' McCain received more than two decades worth of Romney's tax returns as the former Massachusetts governor was undergoing the vetting process four years ago, far more than Romney has released publicly in the 2012 campaign. Democrats have questioned whether McCain saw something untoward in those tax returns and decided to choose Palin instead." ...
... Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: "Yesterday, former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt rebutted the insinuation that Mitt Romney's tax returns cost him the vice presidential selection by saying that it was Romney's wealth, not his tax returns, that cost him the job. But while Schmidt was clearly trying to suggest that Romney's returns are clean, by the end of the day, he acknowledged that he'd never actually seen them." With video. ...
... Brett LoGiurato of Business Insider: "Fifty-six percent of Americans think Mitt Romney should release his tax returns from the last 12 years while 34 percent think he should not, according to a new poll from Public Policy Polling. Among Independent voters,61 percent want Romney to release his returns, while just 27 percent say he shouldn't." ...
... Several tax experts tell Greg Sargent it's very likely the Romneys paid very low taxes in the years Romney is refusing to release his returns. ...
... Joshua Green of Business Week on why the theory that Romney paid no taxes in 2008 and/or 2009 is plausible. ...
... AND Matt Yglesias has another plausible theory: in 2009, perhaps Romney took advantage of an amnesty that the IRS offered Americans who evaded taxes by holding secret Swiss bank accounts. Switzerland's largest bank, UBS, had cut a deal with the IRS to disclose 4,000 accounts held by Americans. Yglesias' reasoning is solid: "Romney might well have thought in 2007 and 2008 that there was nothing to fear about a non-disclosed offshore account ... precisely because it wasn't disclosed. But then came the [UBS] settlement.... Failing to apply for the amnesty and then getting charged by the IRS would have been both financially and politically disastrous.... But even though the amnesty would eliminate any legal or financial liability for past acts, it would hardly eliminate political liability."
Garrett Haake & Michael O'Brien of NBC News: "The Romney campaign ratcheted up its language on Tuesday in a conference call on which former New Hampshire governor and White House chief of staff John Sununu said he wished President Obama 'would learn how to be an American.' Sununu led a series of Romney surrogates in questioning the president's commitment to economic freedom, dredging up the president's ties to Tony Rezko; another speaker on the conference call said Obama's policies were akin to 'socialism'":
... As McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed writes, "Earlier Tuesday, Sununu made several of the charges in an interview with Fox News, suggesting that his words on the conference call were part of a new Romney campaign effort to turn the focus of the race away from questions about his time at Bain Capitol":
Obama has no idea how the American system functions. And we shouldn't be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia, another set of years in Indonesia, and, frankly, when he came to the U.S., he worked as a community organizer, which is a socialized structure, and then got into politics in Chicago. -- John Sununu, former New Hampshire governor & Romney surrogate on Fox "News" Tuesday. Coppins has the video.
... Update: A Romney adviser said, "'I mean, [Obama] is a guy who admitted to cocaine use, had a sweetheart deal with his house in Chicago, and was associated and worked with Rod Blagojevich to get Valerie Jarrett 'appointed to the Senate.... The bottom line is there'll be counterattacks.' The reference to Obama's past drug use seems to suggest that ... John Sununu wasn't going off-script after all when he dinged the president for spending 'his early years in Hawaii smoking something' during a Tuesday morning Fox News appearance."
... Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon has as excellent post on why John Sununu , of all people, should know better than to attack President Obama's ethnic & cultural heritage.
Kevin Robillard of Politico: "A day after forcing YouTube to pull a Mitt Romney campaign ad featuring a snippet of Barack Obama singing Al Green's 'Let's Stay Together,' a major music publisher is doing likewise with videos of the president's crooning. Romney's ad disappeared Monday, and the Obama clips — shot at a January fundraiser at the Apollo Theater in Harlem -- began coming down Tuesday."
Andy Borowitz: "Manufacturing workers from across China flooded downtown Beijing to show their gratitude for Mr. Romney's robust record of job creation in China while at the helm of the private equity firm Bain Capital. While Mr. Romney's feats of outsourcing have taken a political toll at home, they have made him a national hero in China, according to workers like Qiu Huang, who attended the rally."
Right Wing World
Still at It. AP: "Investigators for an Arizona sheriff's [Joe Arpaio] volunteer posse say President Barack Obama's birth certificate is definitely fraudulent." CW: I have serious bad news for the birthers: even if the certificate were fraudulent -- which it is not -- Sheriff Joe's volunteer posse would have to prove that Obama's mother was not a natural-born citizen, as her American nationality grants Obama automatic citizenship.
New York Times: "A Senate committee advanced a measure on Wednesday to normalize trade relations with Russia for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union while also sanctioning officials implicated in human rights abuses."
New York Times: "The nation's consumer watchdog on Wednesday delivered its first enforcement action against the financial industry, fining Capital One for pressuring and misleading more than two million credit card customers. Capital One, one of the nation's biggest banks and credit card lenders, agreed to pay $210 million to resolve a pair of regulatory cases, the latest legal setback for the financial industry."
Washington Post: "Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told lawmakers Tuesday that the central bank did all it was required to do after learning in 2008 of the manipulation of the Libor interest rate, including notifying counterparts in Britain. But Bank of England Governor Mervyn King, addressing Parliament earlier in the day, said ... 'The New York Fed did not raise any evidence of wrongdoing with regards to Libor.' ... King said that he received only a memo of suggestions from then-New York Fed President Timothy F. Geithner...." CW: ah, the "all that was required" defense. A little like "just following orders." Fire 'em all.
Washington Post: "Syrian state television said Wednesday that a bombing in Damascus killed Defense Minister Daoud Rajha, the latest and most dramatic sign of upheaval in more than 16 months of civil revolt." ...
... New York Times Update: "A suicide bomber attacked a meeting of the most senior ministers and security chiefs in central Damascus on Wednesday, according to state television, killing both the defense minister and President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law who is the deputy chief of staff of the Syrian military." ...
... Story has been updated. New lede: "A lethal bomb attack in Damascus struck at the heart of President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle Wednesday, killing at least three of his most senior aides, including his minister of defense and brother-in-law, in the most audacious challenge to the government's grip on power since the Syria uprising began 17 months ago."
Washington Post: "A chunk of ice twice the size of Manhattan has parted from Greenland's Petermann glacier, a break researchers at the University of Delaware and Canadian Ice Service attributed to warmer ocean temperatures."
Reuters: "Days after a blistering report accused [Joe] Paterno of covering up the child sex abuse of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky to shield Penn State's reputation, Paterno's alma mater, Brown University in Providence, R.I., said it stripped his name from an annual athletic award."