Friday, August 31, 2012

Mitt Romney's Plans to Strengthen the Middle Class

The Obama campaigns newest ad taking on the plan Romney outlined last night in Tampa to strengthen the middle class.

Mitt Romney's bio video from GOP Convention

Here is the video played in the Tampa Convention Hall in advance of Romney's acceptance speech.  Unfortunately, this was bumped from prime-time by Clint Eastwood's remarkable appearance.

NY Times shines a light on Republican obstruction

In today's lead editorial the New York Times in uncommonly blunt terms calls out the Republican party for sacrificing the American economy and security to destroy the Obama presidency.  I've never read such a harshly worded editorial in a major publican.

The Times editors took exception to Romney's claim, "that his party rallied behind President Obama when he won in 2008, hoping that he would succeed.."
The truth, rarely heard this week in Tampa, Fla., is that the Republicans charted a course of denial and obstruction from the day Mr. Obama was inaugurated, determined to deny him a second term by denying him any achievement, no matter the cost to the economy or American security — even if it meant holding the nation’s credit rating hostage to a narrow partisan agenda.

Mr. Romney’s big speech, delivered in a treacly tone with a strange misty smile on his face suggesting he was always about to burst into tears, was of a piece with the rest of the convention. Republicans have offered precious little of substance but a lot of bromides (“A free world is a more peaceful world!”) meant to convey profundity and take passive-aggressive digs at President Obama. But no subjects have received less attention, or been treated with less honesty, than foreign affairs and national security — and Mr. Romney’s banal speech was no exception.
To the extent that any Republicans ever see this editorial,they will write if off as liberal bias, but the editors are right and the GOP guilty has charged. So why has the Gray Lady taken so long to take a stand?

Federal Judge restores Ohio early voting for all

Via Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog, U.S District Court Judge Judge Peter Economus has ruled for Obama for America and granted a preliminary injunction enjoining Ohio from enforcing a new Republican law barring early voting on the weekend before election day.

The law in question would only allow early voting for military service members on the rational that they are subject to deployment without notice.  The law did not mandate that election boards provide military voters an opportunity to vote early but instead left it to local election boards. Also, the elections boards could decide to allow early voting for all voters or just military voters.  Republicans control the election boards throughout the state so they were voting to allow early voting for military voters in every county but only allowing non-military voters to vote early in Republican counties.

Judge Economus held that taking away early voting for all voters except (possibly) the military voters violated the equal protection clause and ordered early voting restored for all eligible Ohio voters:
From the onset of this litigation, Defendants have pointed to special concerns for the military—concerns all parties share—and the military’s need to maintain additional access to in-person early voting. But for UOCAVA voters, what is left is, potentially, one day: Monday. Defendants have presented no evidence to sustain the inference that in-person early voting on Monday—one day—will burden county boards of elections to the extent that the injury to Plaintiffs is justified. Moreover, Defendants undercut the virtue of their support of military voters by failing to protect any significant measure of UOCAVA voting. Unless a serviceperson is “suddenly deployed” at exactly the right time—enabling in-person voting on Monday—he or she will likely be unable to vote, depending on the local elections board’s “discretion.” That the State cannot justify its interest in foreclosing Ohio voters for one day emphasizes the arbitrary nature of its action.

Finally, this Court notes that restoring in-person early voting to all Ohio voters through the Monday before Election Day does not deprive UOCAVA voters from early voting. Instead, and more importantly, it places all Ohio voters on equal standing. The only hindrance to UOCAVA early voting is the Secretary of State’s failure to set uniform hours at elections boards during the last three days before Election Day. On balance, the right of Ohio voters to vote in person during the last three days prior to Election Day—a right previously conferred to all voters by the State—outweighs the State’s interest in setting the 6 p.m. Friday deadline. The burden on Ohio voters’ right to participate in the national and statewide election is great, as evidenced by the statistical analysis offered by Plaintiffs and not disputed by Defendants. Moreover, the State fails to articulate a precise, compelling interest in establishing the 6 p.m. Friday deadline as applied to non-UOCAVA voters and has failed to evidence any commitment to the “exception” it rhetorically extended to UOCAVA voters. Therefore, the State’s interests are insufficiently weighty to justify the injury to Plaintiffs. See Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780, 798 (1983). The issue here is not the right to absentee voting, which, as the Supreme Court has already clarified, is not a “fundamental right.” McDonald v. Bd. of Election Commissioners, 394 U.S. 802, 807 (1969). The issue presented is the State’s redefinition of in-person early voting and the resultant restriction of the right of Ohio voters to cast their votes in person through the Monday before Election Day. This Court stresses that where the State has authorized in-person early voting through the Monday before Election Day for all voters, “the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person’s vote over that of another.” Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 104-05 (2000). Here, that is precisely what the State has done.
You can read the opinion here.

Jon Huntsman on Colbert

Great interview last night with Jon Huntsman -- seriously, it was really good.  That Jon Huntsman had no place in Tampa this week tells you all you need to know about how fucked up the Republican Party is in 2012.

If Jon Huntsman were the nominee, he would have cleaned Obama's clock.

Paul Ryan is a liar -- BusinessWeek Edition

The Affordable Care Act doesn't steal from Medicare,
“The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it,” Ryan told the crowd. He went on: “Even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health-care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama....The problem is, the claim is flat-out wrong. “The Affordable Care Act doesn’t steal anything from Medicare,” Henry Aaron, a health-care expert at the Brookings Institution, tells me. “It actually improves Medicare’s finances. No matter how you slice it, the Affordable Care Act strengthens medical hospital insurance.” Here’s how:

Businessweek gets inside Rove's Billionaire Fundraiser breakfast

Businessweek had a seat inside Karl Rove's fundraising breakfast for billionaire donors.
On the final morning of the Republican National Convention, Karl Rove took the stage at The Tampa Club to provide an exclusive breakfast briefing to about 70 of the Republican party’s highest-earning and most powerful donors. ... Rove explained to an audience dotted with hedge fund billionaires ... how his super PAC, American Crossroads, will persuade undecided voters in crucial swing states to vote against Barack Obama. He also detailed plans for Senate and House races, and joked, ‘We should sink Todd Akin. If he’s found mysteriously murdered, don't look for my whereabouts!’
...American Crossroads’ total budget, Rove said, was $300 million, with $200 million of it for the presidential race, $70 million for the Senate, and $32 million for the house. ... CEO [Steven] Law said that ... Crossroads is two thirds of the way toward reaching its $300 million goal. ... With advertising rates going up, and the necessity of ‘dealing with the gender gap issue,’ they could easily spend more than $300 million.
The Republican party is going to do everything they can to win back control of the Federal Government and don't think for a moment that they can't buy this election.  Their plan is exactly that. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paul Ryan is a liar -- GM Edition

As nearly everyone has pointed out today, Ryan lied in last night's speech when he held Obama responsible for the closing of the Janesville GM plant.

GM made the decision to close the plant during the Bush administration nearly a year before Obama took office. Ryan knows that his accusation was a lie, because Ryan and both Wisconsin Senators, Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl, wrote GM Chairman and CEO Richard Wagoner on June 3, 2008, pleading with him to keep the plant open.

Barack Obama became President as of January 20, 2009.

As of this writing, that letter is available on Paul Ryan's House website.

In the event Ryan's staff decides the letter being on his office site could be inconvenient for the Congressman, I have embedded it here.

 Ryan ltr GM

Paul Ryan is a liar -- Business Insider Edition

"Paul Ryan's Speech Proves The New Political Truth: It's Fine To Lie",
There was once a time when lying in a political speech--and getting called out on it by the media--was shameful or embarrassing.

Not anymore.

Now, says Jeff Greenfield, the veteran political analyst and Yahoo News columnist, the media is held in such low regard by Americans that getting called out for lying merely serves to confirm a widespread belief that the "liberal media" has an axe to grind against conservative politicians.

Paul Ryan is a liar -- New York Times Edition

"Paul Ryan's Speech, Factually and Intellectually Dishonest,"
An army of fact-checkers swarmed around Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech last night, and the verdict was swift and unanimous: lies, omissions, a sweeping rewrite of recent history. But there’s one question no checker can answer: Why was it necessary to lie in the first place?
Mr. Ryan could have made a sharp critique of the Obama years without changing the underlying facts. That he chose not to do so suggests he isn’t sure the facts are on his side.

Paul Ryan is a liar -- Washington Post Edition

"Paul Ryan's breathtakingly dishonest speech",
Set aside the fact that Paul Ryan, in a fit of anti-Randianism, asked for government funds to save the plant. Set aside that he voted for the big-government auto bailout. Ryan also conveniently forgot to mention that GM announced the closure of the plant in early June 2008. In fact, Ryan and then-Wisconsin Sens. Russ Feingold (D) and Herb Kohl (D) sent a letter that month to GM CEO Rick Wagoner asking him to reconsider. This was not just before Barack Obama was inaugurated or even elected; it was the same day he won his own party’s nomination. There was no way Obama could have saved that auto plant without also discovering time travel.
There is more, if you're interested.

Paul Ryan is a liar -- AP Edition

The Associate Press also took exception to Ryan's speech,
WASHINGTON (AP) — GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took some factual shortcuts during the Republican convention when he attacked President Barack Obama's policies on Medicare, the economic stimulus and the budget deficit.

A closer look at some of Ryan's remarks Wednesday at the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla.:

Paul Ryan is a liar -- David Gregory / Tom Brokaw Edition

David Gregory said Paul Ryan suffers from "ideological amnesia",
“There is a kind of ideological amnesia here on the part of Paul Ryan,... He represents this new generation, a new strain of the Republican Party which at its core is about fiscal rectitude and responsibility, and yet he did not stand up to the Bush administration on two wars, on major areas of entitlements, as Tom [Brokaw] suggested, on the prescription drug benefit.”
Tom Brokaw, a life long Republican and Bush's favorite anchorman,
“He is a man — as I know that you’ve all referred to this — who did vote for the auto bailout, he did vote for TARP, he did vote as well for both wars that were not funded, and he voted for Part D of Medicare, and he’s spent his entire life in government,” he said. “And tomorrow night, Gov. Romney will come here and talk about bringing a new presidential ethos to the Oval Office that is based on his business experience, on his private-sector experience, and a man who lit up this room tonight has spent his entire adult life in government.”

Paul Ryan is a liar -- Fox News Edition

There is no point in sugarcoating it. All politicians cherry pick data and hedge, often times heavily, in support of their positions and goals. But outright lies -- and there is no other word for them -- are not nearly as common as cynical voters like to believe.

Sally Kohn at Fox News described Ryans speech thusly,
On the other hand, to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.

The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth. Said fact checkers have already condemned certain arguments that Ryan still irresponsibly repeated.
These are the lies documented at Fox:

Federal court strikes down Texas Voter ID law

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for he DC Circuit voided the Texas voter ID law as violating the Voting Rights Act.

Rick Hasen at his Election Law Blog,
This is a careful, unanimous opinion from a three-judge court which rejects most of the social science evidence submitted by both sides on whether Texas’s voter id law imposes greater burdens on minority voters. Instead, the court bases its analysis on three basically uncontested facts: (1) Minority voters are at least proportionately as likely as white voters in Texas to lack the documents needed for Texas’s new id law (which the Court calls perhaps the most “stringent” in the nation; (2) the new i.d. law will put high burdens on poor people who lack id (many of whom would have to travel up to 200 or 250 miles at their own expense to get the i.d. as well as pay at least $22 for the documents needed to get the i.d.; and (3) minority voters in Texas are more likely to be poor. Using this simple structure, the court concludes that Texas, which bears the burden of proof in a section 5 case, cannot prove its law won’t make the position of protected minorities worse off. And the court suggests this was a problem of its own making: Texas could have made the i.d. law less onerous (as in Georgia, which the court suggests DOJ was probably right to preclear) and Texas could have done more to produce evidence supporting its side at trial, but it engaged in bad trial tactics.
Hasen expects Texas to seek an emergency injunction from the Supreme Court seeking to enjoin enforcement of this decision so Texas can use the new ID law in the November election.  The Roberts' Court is the most conservative court in nearly 100 years, and they have shown a willingness to play politics, but this voter ID law is likey a bridge too far.  I will be surprised if court agrees to hear argument or grant an injunction.  Texas cannot show any harm, much less "irreparable harm" which would be a necessary precursor to an injunction.

Texas is also challenging the Constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  Had the Court upheld the Texas law, the Constitutionality issues would be moot, so those issues have not yet been heard by the Court.

You can read the unanimous 56-page opinion by Judge Tatel at this link.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jason Kander for Missouri Secretary of State

 Arguable, it's more important for a political party to control the Secretary of State's office than it is the Governor's office.

The reason George W. Bush was elected President in 2004 was because Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell engaged in truly egregious voter suppression.

After 8 years, Robin Carnahan is leaving her position as MO Secretary of State and Jason Kander won the primary to succeed her.

As a Missouri Democrat I'm thrilled that we have Jason in our party and seeking state-wide office.  Jason was in college on September 11th, 2001, and joined the Army Reserve in response.  He served in an army infantry unit before receiving his commission and being promoted to Military Intelligence.  In 2006 Jason volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan.  When he came home he knocked on 20,000 doors running successfully to become a Missouri State Representative.  

I can't say enough good things about Jason. Please consider helping his campaign with a donation.  No amount is too small.  If can't spare any money, visit his sight and sign up as a supporter.  You can visit his website here.

The CNN camera woman assault at RNC Convention

By now you have probably heard what little is known about this incident. Yesterday 2 people attending the RNC Convention threw nuts at a black CNN camera woman  and said "this is how we feed animals". Many witnesses observed this reprehensible and ugly act.  The people who did this, were immediately ejected from the Convention hall by police and Convention security.  No one is offering much in the way of further comment including CNN.

Ultimately, and I'm sure after proding by journalist, RNC Convention officials released the following statement:
"Yesterday two attendees exhibited deplorable behavior. Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable.  This kind of behavior will not be tolerated."
In my mind, that's the end of it, and it's not a story. Many people are ejected from every major sporting even held in the U.S.  The conduct of those ejected is never imputed to the host team and the incidents are never reported as news.  So why is this any different?

The bloggosphere has been pushing this story all day.  My friends at TPM are the ones who basically broke the story after seeing the incident twitted by David Shuster.

This afternoon Josh Marshall posed some basic questions that I do think should be answered by the RNC.  Were the two offending attendees delegates and if so, from which state? Finally, and most important in my mind, were their credentials revoked or are they back at the convention today?

If their credentials were not revoked, I do think it is a news story.

Republicans: We Won’t Build That

Mark Thoma scratches his head at the Republicans' ideological hostility to building infrastructure.
If there’s any policy Republicans ought to be able to support, it’s infrastructure spending. It’s inherently a supply-side policy, it helps to promote future economic growth, and it’s an investment with large, positive net benefits. But Republicans see a “we won’t build that” approach to infrastructure spending, an approach that is harmful to our prospects for recovery and to our prospects for future economic growth, as a way to reclaim the presidency.
The Republican party really is nuts, and increasingly, serious people like Thoma just can't take anymore of it. Why now? Maybe because they finally realize it's not just a phase and the consequences for the global economy are so enormous.

'We're Not Going to Let Our Campaign Be Dictated by Fact-Checkers'

Atlantic editor-in-chief James Bennet asks: What if the press calls out the lies and nobody cares,
Critics have for many years inveighed against "false equivalence" or "false balance" in the mainstream press. This long crusade has finally achieved its grail, or at least a version of it: In this campaign season, political reporters have been shucking the old he-said-she-said formulation and directly declaring that certain claims are false. This new approach was signaled on Sunday, when, as James Fallows has noted, The New York Times, in a front-page story, flatly stated that a Romney ad was "falsely charging that Mr. Obama has 'quietly announced' plans to eliminate work and job training requirements for welfare beneficiaries."

But what if it turns out that when the press calls a lie a lie, nobody cares?
Why should Bennet or any other journalist care if the truth has an impact?  Isn't getting to the actual truth of the the matter the very point of journalism? 

Bennet notes that the now infamous Romney ad falsely accusing the Obama administration of gutting work requirements for welfare recipients has been universally called out and yet Romney still runs the ad. So why should respectable journalists report on what is factual and what is not?

Bennet concludes "Instead of being able to stand above the fray as some sort of neutral arbiter of the truth, the press may be finding that it is winding up on one side of a new kind of he-said-she-said argument."

How exactly is a journalist who knowingly ignores or reports false claims standing "above the fray"?

Isn't the side of truth the side of the argument serious journalist want to find themselves? 

If the public cannot pick up the Atlantic or the New York Times or the Springfield Whatever to learn what is fact and what is fantasy than why do they even exists?  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mental health break

NightFall from Colin Rich on Vimeo.

The last stand for the GOP’s White Base

I have said for 10 years that changing demographics will end the Republican party as we know it. I've taken a lot of grief for this from Republican friends but even Republican leaders get it now. It's all Jeb Bush wants to talk about. Rove got it in 2004 but just couldn't stop race baiting long enough to devise a real plan to bring in non-whites.

And here we are in 2012 and Romney makes a big push for white voters at the expense of all other (non-white) voters. 

Chait thinks this is the last time anyone will try to win a national election on the white vote.
A Republican strategist said something interesting and revealing on Friday, though it largely escaped attention in the howling gusts of punditry over Mitt Romney’s birth certificate crack and a potential convention-altering hurricane. The subject was a Ron Brownstein story outlining the demographic hit rates each party requires to win in November. To squeak out a majority, Mitt Romney probably needs to win at least 61 percent of the white vote — a figure exceeding what George H.W. Bush commanded over Michael Dukakis in 1988. The Republican strategist told Brownstein, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this” — “this” being a near total reliance on white votes to win a presidential election.

Should Matthews' Smackdown of Priebus Should Be Taught in J School?

Huffington Post media blogger Andy Ostroy loved Chris Matthews' smackdown of Reince Priebus on Morning Joe Monday.

Ostroy wants Matthews' cross-examination of Priebus taught in journalism school.
Bravo to Matthews. His cross-examination of an obnoxious, defiant Priebus was unrelenting. Like O'Brien last week, he had the balls to challenge the lies and rebuke the liar. Unfortunately though, he didn't get any support from Brzezinski or Scarborough who, rather than applaud their colleague for doing his job in seeking the truth, seemed horrified at his behavior...more worried that Priebus might never want to bring his lying, smarmy self back on the show again. They scoffed at Matthews' allegations and appeared annoyed and defensive of Priebus. When the segment was over they seemed utterly shocked, as if something strange and unacceptable had just happened.

When did television news people become so horribly afraid to demand honesty and truth from their guests? Instead, they roll over like sheep, allowing these propagandists free, unchallenged airtime to spew their dishonest, divisive rhetoric. When someone finally steps up and holds them accountable it is they who are viewed as being out of line.
I'm not so sure Matthews' smackdown merits a seminar in journalism school, but Ostroy has a point.  TV journalism has become a joke.  Talking heads from both parties simply repeating talking points with little to no challenge from the supposed journalist on the set.  Even once venerable Meet the Press has become a joke.

Imagine a world in which outright lies were actually called out?  Imagine how this would change the tone of the debate.

But journalist don't do this for the very reason Ostroy suspects, they won't do the show again, and too many hosts crave the approval of the political guests. 

Scarborough and Brzezinski should be embarrassed.

Ronald Reagan the Compromiser couldn't surive in this GOP

Bloomberg Insider has a cover story this week offering a retrospective of Ronald Reagan's presidency contrasting his style and rhetoric with his record. A record of compromise that would make him unelectable in the GOP of 2012:
Bloomberg Insider cover Tuesday, August 28, 2011

"During Reagan’s eight years in the White House, the federal payroll grew by more than 300,000 workers. Although he was a net tax cutter who slashed individual income-tax rates, Reagan raised taxes about a dozen times. His rhetoric matched that of many of today’s most ardent Christian conservatives, yet he proved to be a reluctant warrior on abortion and other social issues. Perhaps most tellingly, he was willing to cut deals, working closely with Democratic leaders such as House Speaker Tip O’Neill of Massachusetts to overhaul Social Security and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois to revamp the tax code."

Reagan didn't just cut deals with Tip O'Neal, he respected Tip O'Neal. And while Reagan drove Tip crazy, Tip O'Neal actually repected Ronald Reagan and his 1980 victory mandate. Compare this with the treatment Obama got from Republicans upon taking the oath of office.

O'Neal spoke about his feelings for Reagan in his memoir, Man of the House. It's an easy read and very entertaining for a political memoir.

For a shorter version, Gloria Borger wrote a piece in 2004 about Reagan and O'Neal for U.S. News.

Priorities USA $30M ad buy

Pro-Obama super-PAC Priorities USA has announced a $30 million ad buy, which I believe is their largest buy to day -- by a wide margin.

Their first ad, "Olive", will run in Florida during the convention as well as Colorado, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia.

From The Hill quoting the Priorities USA Press Release,
“Americans are going to hear a lot about Mitt Romney this week. These new ads are designed to make sure voters hear the whole story,” Bill Burton, senior strategist for Priorities USA Action, said in a release. “Looking back to his record in Massachusetts, Mitt Romney failed the people who made him governor, leaving the Bay State 47th in the nation in job creation. At issue now is that Romney wants to bring those same failed policies to the White House.” Tuesday's ad, titled "Olive," introduces Massachusetts small-business owner Olive Chase, who says in the video, "I feel like I was duped by Mitt Romney. I'm going to vote for President Obama."

Romney executes power grab "for political survival of the party"

In the ordinary course of things, it's routine for the party nominee -- Democrat or Republican -- to take control of the party at the convention and make such rules necessary to effect the candidate's agenda. The delegates at the convention are counted on to rubber stamp the candidates proposed rules, platform planks, etc.and always do.

For the Republican party, these are not normal times. They are in the troughs of a radical takeover of an already radical base. The Republican base doesn't like Romney and doesn't trust him. 

So, Romney has been forced to extraordinary and unprecedented steps to take control of the party from the delegates in the hall. At the insistence of the Romney campaign, the RNC Rules committee voted 63-38 to approve a new rule granting the RNC and Mitt Romney sweeping new powers to amend the governing rules of the Republican party without a vote of the delegates.
The rule allows the RNC to amend the party's rules without a vote by the full Republican National Convention. And it offers the Republican Establishment a new tool to keep at by [sic] Tea Party initiatives that threaten to embarrass or contradict party leadership and stray from a planned message...."This is necessary for the world in which we find ourselves in," [Romney campaign lawyer] Ginsberg told the committee, adding that it is "important for the political survival of the party in the electoral context," for the committee to be able to change the rules as it sees fit in the intervening four years between conventions.
The GOP has been increasingly radicalizing (is that a word?) since Gingrich rose to power in 1994 (I've written about this here and here) Since 2008 Republican leadership has thrown gasoline on the fire laughing it up as they radicalized the Tea Party to go after Democrats.  Now the Tea Party is after the Republican leadership and they are in full blown panic. 

It's hard to imagine the delegates are going to take this well, or quietly. 

What does it say about the Democratic party that they have to struggle (and often lose) so hard to win elections from these fools?

Chris Matthews isn't backing down on GOP race baiting

Yesterday on Morning Joe, Chris Matthews jumped GOP chair Reince Priebus for race baiting with false GOP allegations that Obama is gutting welfare work requirements. 

In a Politico interview last night Matthews wouldn't back down,
"It is obvious that this is something I care passionately about: race was abused by white politicians in my lifetime, including Reagan. For someone to come on the program and deny that this is part of their process, I couldn't take that....This is something I really, deeply believe in. We grew up in a country where appeals to race have been awful, terrible. This language -- we are beyond this. It had to be called out....There are a couple issues like peace and war, and race relations -- this is, deeply, not something we should be revisiting in the 21st century,....It isn't even covert any more, its overt. Race is the San Andreas Fault in this country, and this is dividing this country along racial lines."
It's long past time that the Republican party should get a pass on race-baiting. The crime is not that Matthews called out Herr Priebus, the crime is that other journalist are not doing the same.

PolitiFact says Romney's welfare claims are 'pants on fire' lies. 

The WaPo fact checker awarded four Pinocchios for a whooper lie.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center's more dignified also said the allegations are false.

Race is the only reason these are coming up. 

I wrote about the code used by Republicans to play to racism in every election here.

Christie doesn't think Romney can win.

Under a breathless headline: EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Chris Christie's reasons for refusing to quit post to join Mitt Romney ticket, Murdoch's NY Post is reporting that Chris Christie wasn't interested in VEEP because he doesn't think Romney can win, with or without him.

Christie isn't exactly the only one to hold this view, especially in the GOP.

According to the Post,  Romney insisted Christie resign his governorship to join the ticket.  So called 'pay to play' laws limit donations to $250 for every Wall Street donor that does business in NJ, if the sitting Governor is on the ticket. Romney wasn't will to give up that cash and Christie wasn't willing to give up his day job and risk being unemployed come November.

It's often lost in political reporting that politicians with families who are not independently wealthy need to work to support their family.  Leaving a paying job to run for office with nothing lined up should the election fail, is very hard to do.   Maybe I'm wrong but I don't have the impression Christie, with children infamously in private schools, is independently wealthy.  No doubt he would quickly find work if the campaign were a bust, but the interim could be a real hardship on his family.

MItt Romney: You Didn't Build That -- You Destroyed it

New DNC Web video portrays Romney has the vampire capitalist.

What GOP really thinks about Romney

Democratic Super PAC American Bridge has a new web video up highlighting past criticisms Republican leaders have for Mitt Romney.

David Brooks finds the Real Romney

John Harris reports this morning that the GOP is still fretting that the Romney campaign has not been able to counter Obama's portrayal of Romney "as an out-of-touch elitist who got rich through predatory business practices."  What these GOP leaders don't understand is that it's Romney who portrays himself that way, each and every day.

 Assuming someone didn't hack David Brooks NYT OP/ED account, Brooks explains the real Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney was born ... in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Virginia and several other swing states. He emerged, hair first, believing in America, and especially its national parks. He was given the name Mitt, after the Roman god of mutual funds ... He uttered his first words (‘I like to fire people’) at age 14 months, made his first gaffe at 15 months and purchased his first nursery school at 24 months. The school, highly leveraged, went under, but Romney made 24 million Jujubes on the deal. Mitt grew up in a modest family. His father had an auto body shop called the American Motors Corporation, and his mother owned a small piece of land, Brazil. ...

He was sent to a private school, where he was saddened to find there are people in America who summer where they winter. He developed a lifelong concern for the second homeless ... After streamlining his wife’s pregnancies down to six months each, Mitt helped Ann raise five perfect sons — Bip, Chip, Rip, Skip and Dip — who married identically tanned wives. ... Romney owns many homes without garage elevators and the cars have to take the stairs. ... Romney was lured away to run the Winter Olympics, the second most Caucasian institution on earth, after the G.O.P. ... At the convention, where his Secret Service nickname is Mannequin, Romney will talk about his real-life record: successful business leader, superb family man, effective governor, devoted community leader and prudent decision-maker. If elected, he promises to bring all Americans together and make them feel inferior.
There is much more, and it's pretty funny, especially when you consider that it's from David Brooks.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Economist: So, Mitt, what do you really believe?

The Economist has taken a look at Mitt Romney, and come away unimpressed.

Concerned by his hard turn Right, in an editorial from this weeks edition,  The Economist editors find Romney strangely "mysterious" and inconsistent.

They begin,
WHEN Mitt Romney was governor of liberal Massachusetts, he supported abortion, gun control, tackling climate change and a requirement that everyone should buy health insurance, backed up with generous subsidies for those who could not afford it. Now, as he prepares to fly to Tampa to accept the Republican Party’s nomination for president on August 30th, he opposes all those things. A year ago he favoured keeping income taxes at their current levels; now he wants to slash them for everybody, with the rate falling from 35% to 28% for the richest Americans.
and conclude,
Mr Romney may calculate that it is best to keep quiet: the faltering economy will drive voters towards him. It is more likely, however, that his evasiveness will erode his main competitive advantage. A businessman without a credible plan to fix a problem stops being a credible businessman. So does a businessman who tells you one thing at breakfast and the opposite at supper. Indeed, all this underlines the main doubt: nobody knows who this strange man really is. It is half a decade since he ran something. Why won’t he talk about his business career openly? Why has he been so reluctant to disclose his tax returns? How can a leader change tack so often? Where does he really want to take the world’s most powerful country?

It is not too late for Mr Romney to show America’s voters that he is a man who can lead his party rather than be led by it. But he has a lot of questions to answer in Tampa.

Follow the link to read all the parts in between.

The Republican Party is intellectually dead.

Chris Matthews Calls out GOP and Romney for playing the race card

This morning, Chris Matthews lit into Herr Priebus on the GOP and Romney campaign's use of coded racism in this campaign.
“You can play your games and giggle about it but the fact is your side playing that card. When you start talking about work requirements, you know what game you’re playing and everybody knows what game you’re playing. It’s a race card and yeah, if your name’s Romney, yeah you were well born, you went to prep school, yeah, brag about it. This guy has an African name and he’s got to live with it. Look who’s gone further in their life. Who was born on third base? Making fun of the guy’s birth certificate issue when it was never a real issue except for the right wing.”


Saturday, August 25, 2012

RIP Neil Armstrong

The first man to set foot on the moon died today at the age of 82.  The Apollo missions to the moon defined my earlier childhood.  Unless you lived through it, I think it's hard to understand how these moon landings captivated the entire world.  I've never experienced anything like it since, and cannot imagine I ever will. 

It likely never occurs to those who grew up in the post Apollo world, that these moon missions could have ended in disaster.   As a small child, it certainly never occurred to me that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin could have been stranded on the moon.  But it occurred to the astronauts, all the adults around the world watching on TV and it occurred to NASA and the Nixon White House.  The technology was so primitive (our smart phones have exponentially more computing power than anything in their space craft) that any number of easily imagined mishaps could have left both men abandoned on the moon forever.  There was no way to rescue them.

Nixon had a speech prepared in the event that LEM rocket didn't fire.  You can read the speech never given here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

'The Misogynist Elephant in the Convention Room'

I raised this issue earlier in the week, but Steve Erickson has hit the nail on the head calling out the ugly misogyny that has always ran under the surface of the anti-abortion movement. 
Be all that as it is, what’s characterized significant segments of the pro-life movement since it began 40 years ago is a hostility to sex itself, namely sexual behavior that isn’t strictly reproductive. What characterizes much of the pro-life movement is a hostility to sexual fulfillment, namely a women’s sexual fulfillment, which warrants punishment by maternity—a head-spinning concept of righteousness. If the designation of Sandra Fluke as a slut on the airwaves some months back by Rush Limbaugh wasn’t a tip-off, the Akin Manifesto of this past weekend is; thus the premise that not only is rape a phony excuse used by women to terminate unwanted pregnancies and that a “legitimate” rape inevitably triggers a bodily rejection of pregnancy, but its more important corollary: If you were raped and got pregnant, then you were never really raped at all. This invokes the logic of medieval witch trials, whereby the accused is thrown into the middle of a lake and only proves her innocence by drowning.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Akin needs campaign cash, ctd.

I stand corrected.

It seems the tide has turned for Todd Akin and the anti-abortion world has found the courage of their convictions.  At least at the grass roots level, money is finally coming in.

Instead of looking for fundraising info on Google, I should have just checked Akin's Twitter page. Akins needs to raise $50k a day to remain competitive, but this will at least keep him in the race. Maybe I should be careful what I wish for.

Mitt's Romney Girl

This is the political parody the Swiss government doesn't want you to see.

The Agenda Project Action Fund, a self-described progressive nonprofit presents The Romney Girl

I don't think there are any plans to run this on TV.  Just the hope that it goes viral. 

Check out her website:
Follow her on Twitter:
Like her on Facebook:

GOP Senate canidate Michael Baumgartner is a flake

WA state Sen Michael Baumgartner
Washington state Senator Michael Baumgartner is the Republican nominee for US Senate who will challenge Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell.

He also appears to be emotionally unstable with or without a substance abuse problem.

As is so often the case these days, It all started with Todd Akin.  Baumgartner is on record opposing abortion in cases of rape.  Baumgartner harshly condemned Akin, joining a chorus of Republicans condemning Akin despite the fact that they share Akin's view.

Seattle Met magazine reporter Josh Feit has a regular feature called "One Question" that - predictably - asks public figures one question.  Feit asked Baumgartner how his position on abortion differed from that of Akin.  In the story Feit wrote, he quoted Baumgartner extensively,
“I have empathy for the victims of rape. Rape is a tragedy. It’s a terrible thing. Certainly, we need to give victims all the help we can. There is no place in politics for uttering something so ignorant about pregnancy and rape.”

As for Baumgartner’s own position: “”I am still a Catholic. I still believe life begins at conception. That is consistent with my Catholic beliefs. And I believe we must protect life.”  Concluding that he wanted a truce in the culture wars and his campaign was about jobs and ending the war in Afghanistan, he said: “The culture wars are not why I’m in the state senate or running against my opponent. I’m pragmatic. I objected to the expansion of abortion services, but I voted for two budgets that funded [family planning] services.”
Despite the fact that Baumgartner never in fact answered the question, Feit allowed him to get in a dig, “Whenever abortion comes up, we get questioned about the exceptions, but no one ever questions the extreme positions on the other side, late-term abortions, no on parental notification.”

In the story, Feit did point out that Baumgartner did not answer the question and reported  Baumgartner's position opposing abortion in cases of rape.

This is when it get's interesting, and maybe a little creepy.   Late Monday night Feit received an email from Baumgartner's personal email account forwarding a photo of an armed Baumgartner and another very heavily armed man.  The email in its entirety read: "Josh, this is Pat Feeks, a Navy SEAL killed last week in Afghanistan. Take a good look and then go fuck yourself."

Feit responded to the email, "Is this really Sen. Baumgartner?"   Baumgartner did not reply but later acknowledged that he did send the email but thought it was "a private conversation".  Baumgartner apologized and said he was frustrated because his platform of ending the war in Afghanistan was not getting attention.  Except that as you can see from the above quote, Feit did include Baumgatner's Afghan position as well as his frustration with the culture war, neither of which had anything to do with the question put to Baumgartner -- the question Baumgartner never answered.

This doesn't speak well of the character and emotional maturity of someone who wants to be promoted to the U.S. Senate. Even assuming Baumgartner was mourning the loss of a friend, that loss had nothing to do with the story written by Josh Feit.  The story that allowed Baumgartner to duck the question, restate what he wanted to talk about and take a culture war shot at Democrats while decrying the culture war.

Baumgartner's acknowledgment of the email came only after he tried to duck responsibility and even hung up the phone on Feit when he called Tuesday for comment.  Baumgartner only acknowledged the email after Feit published it on Tuesday.  Baumgartner then falsely suggested that the email was a part of some private conversation suggesting that Feit had violated an 'off the record' agreement. Lastly, Feit had to read about the apology -- such that it was -- in the newspaper because Baumgartner wouldn't speak to him.

This is an unstable and childish man who has no business in the U.S. Senate.  Sadly, he will fit right into the Republican caucus.

On Baumgartner's suggestion that his email to Feit was "private" Politico's Dylan Byers offers some advice:
An important note to political candidates everywhere: When you email a reporter out of the blue in response to his article, that is on the record unless otherwise stated. Especially if you tell the reporter to "go f--k yourself."
All of this, by the way, could have been avoided if Baumgartner had not taken a gratuitous and hypocritical shot at Todd Akin.   

NOTE: The original title to this post called Baumgartner  "unhinged".  That was too strong.

Akin needs campaign cash, ctd.

Kevin McDermott of the St Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the finance numbers for the Akin campaign going forward and sees a problem,
Money will be an immediate and lasting problem. Two financial wellsprings that had promised to turn the McCaskill-Akin race into one of the highest-dollar contests in the nation — [RNSC and Crossroads GPS] both now say they won't spend money in the race if Akin is on the ballot. Before Sunday, the two behemoth fundraisers had been poised to pump more than $5 million each into the race on Akin's behalf. Other money sources are shutting down as well. They include Akin's biggest primary-sector financial backer, St. Louis-based Emerson Electric, which has donated some $36,000 to him through its PAC and employees....Akin already has started ramping up his appeals for small-dollar donations via Facebook and Twitter. Akin's website on Wednesday set a fundraising goal for the day of $24,000. But even if he achieved that goal every day from now until the election, that would total only about $1.8 million — compared with the $10 million he lost from GOP sources this week, and against the millions more that McCaskill has at her disposal. With no realistic way to get anywhere near those numbers on the backs of small individual donors, Akin will have to run a lean campaign.
With Akin's family running his campaign, no one is better equipped to run a lean statewide campaign than Todd Akin. It's my impression that every Akin campaign has been a lean operation.  But the problem remains the he does not appear to be raising anything near $24,000 a day. If national anti-abortion groups and groups like Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum (Schlafly has been one of the few vocal supporters of Akin) don't step up in a really big way, he's going to run out of money. And with no money, he won't have any choice but to step aside.

Bill Clinton make first appearance in Obama Ad

Bill Clinton has cut his first TV ad for Obama, "Clear Choice," that will air in New Hampshire, Virgina, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.

This is why the Romney campaign's invocation of Bill Clinton in a TV ad earlier this month was such a bad idea.  Romney built up the credibility of a man who was certain to slam him.

I think the ad is pretty good and I think we will see two or three more.  Bill's still got game!

Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Apple v. Samsung goes to the jury

Closing arguments have ended and this huge lawsuit goes to the jury with 109 pages of jury instructions and a 20 page detailed verdict form.

No idea how it will come out but it's going to require many days (weeks?) of deliberations would be my guess.  It seems obvious that Samsung stole Apple designs on their phones and pads (Google emails tell Samsung to stop mimicking Apple products)

If Apple has to prove actual damages, that could be a problem.  Apple is now the biggest US company ever reports the Wall Street Journal. 

Steve Lohr at the NYTs think Apple might be better off losing.

Ryan has a new position on abortion

Earlier I mentioned that Romney Spokesperson Andrea Saul had changed Ryan's position on abortion in a public statement she made this past Sunday.  I promised we would be hearing more about Ryan's position and today, we are hearing more.

Paul Ryan's position on abortion has been solid and unwavering for his entire political career. A human being exists at conception and abortion must be banned in absolute terms with no exceptions.

This is not a position from the distant past by a youthful Paul Ryan. Via John McCormick of the Weekly Standard Sept 22, 2010,
In February, Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin wrote a paper for the Heritage Foundation titled "The Cause of Life Can’t be Severed from the Cause of Freedom," and in July, he took issue with Mitch Daniels' call for a "truce" on social issues. But Ryan hasn't gotten on board with the idea of a truce on social issues. "I’m as pro-life as a person gets," Ryan told me in July. "You’re not going to have a truce. Judges are going to come up. Issues come up, they’re unavoidable, and I’m never going to not vote pro-life."

"Never" it turns out, isn't as long as it sounds.  Today, Paul Ryan's position on abortion, changed:
"Look, I'm proud of my record," Ryan said at a brief news conference on his plane. "I'm proud of my record. Mitt Romney is going to be president and the president sets policy. His policy is exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. I'm comfortable with it because it's a good step in the right direction."
The cause of life can't be severed from the cause of freedom, but it can be severed from the cause of Paul Ryan getting a better job.

To state the obvious, if Ryan honestly believed human life begins at conception he could not abruptly change his position to support some abortions (murders?) for no greater reason than his own ambition and political expediency.

Now before you send me a wrath of hateful and very un-Christian emails, let me state that people of good will can oppose on moral and ethical grounds 'at will' abortions except in limited cases such as rape, incest and the life of the mother.  I personally believe every abortion is a heart-breaking tragedy. But one cannot believe a human being is formed at conception and then support any exceptions to the rule.

For Akins in comes down to money

Todd Akin is an earnest man of principle and faith.  I mean that sincerely.  I believe he is ignorant and horribly misguided, but he means what he says, and says what he means, and he is entitled to respect.

Akin should be taken at his word that he has no intention of dropping out.

Following Akin's unfortunate reproductive biology 'misspeak', all major national funding has been pulled out of his campaign in hopes for forcing him to step aside. Romney publicly called on him to withdraw, and now we know Paul Ryan in a private phone call begged Akin with withdraw. To all of them Akin has said, "no, I'm in it to win it"

But money, or a lack thereof might force his hand.  No one believes, least of all Todd Akin, that if he's within a few points of McCaskill come October, money from the RNC/RNSC and Cross Roads will come pouring into Akin's campaign.  But Akin has to make it to October. reports that Akin had $531K on hand as of July 18, 2012.  That was 3 weeks before the primary when he was likely spending heavily but also taking in cash. For the cycle to that date he had raised $2,229,189 and spent $2,229,755.  Not a lot of money for a Senate campaign. to put this in some perspective, McCaskill spent $2M of her campaign money in the primary just on TV ads in support of Akin.

Claire McCaskill is well funded for a big fight.  Akin needs cash to stay in business.  I heard a report (which I can't confirm) that Akin has raised $11,000 since this story broke.  That is chump change and doesn't speak well of his ability to raise grassroots money.  He should have raised $200k or more.

Not everyone thinks Akin should step aside. For instance, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins is a long time Akin supporter who quickly shot back at MA Sen Scott Brown when Brown called on Akin to step down. "He should be careful because based on some of his statements there may be some call for him to get out of his race,"Perkins said on Monday.

But talk, as they say, is cheap.  Akin needs cash and lots of it.  If groups like Perkins' and large anti-abortion groups don't show up for Akin, to the tune of $2M to $3M it's hard to see Akin holding on no matter how badly he wants to stay in the race.

If Akin runs out of cash, he's done.   And if Akin runs out of cash, maybe those of you who donate to these national anti-abortion organizations might want to start asking some questions. One question might be: why are you taking my money if you are not going to support anti-abortion true believers like Todd Akin? 

Akin speaks for the GOP on abortion, ctd.

Ezra Klein this morning rounding up news about the GOP platform heading into the convention:
"The Republican platform will continue to contain language endorsing a new constitutional amendment protecting ‘human life’…The GOP’s platform has been unchanged on the issue for more than two decades. But the issue has received new attention after comments from Rep. Todd Akin (R) of Missouri on abortion and rape….That language would seem to be incompatible with laws allowing abortion in any instances except if the life of the mother was endangered, but the platform does not specifically address the issue.”

But the GOP has added more intensely anti-abortion language this time around. ”[T]hey’ve endorsed language saying that opposing abortion upholds the dignity of women. And they’ve also included language asking that drugs that end pregnancy after conception, including RU-486, not be allowed.” Rosalind S. Helderman in The Washington Post. (emphasis in the original)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On abortion, Todd Akin speaks for the Republican Party

Paul Ryan and Todd Akin working on H.B. 3 to redefine rape

 The reason there was a national Republican freak-out over Todd Akin's recent comments on female reproductive biology is not that he's off the reservation -- It's that Akin raised the veil on the GOP position on abortion and rape.

When Akin got into trouble he was explaining why he opposes abortion even in cases of rape, the majority position in the Republican House caucus.  

The Republican National Convention
Platform Committee has adopted a plank calling for a constitution amendment banning all abortions even in cases of rape and incest.
"Faithful to the 'self-evident' truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed," the draft platform declares. "We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children."
It's entirely possible that this plank will get derailed before it's presented at the convention for adoption (you can believe Rove and the money guys are working to pull it), but I promise you that this amendment comes out of the committee it will be approved in a huge wave or raptured agreement.

Mike Huckabee thinks rape gets a bad name

Janet and Mike Huckabee with Mitt and Ann Romney
Todd Akin and Mitt Romney supporter and fellow Republican Mike Huckabee wants to help out both campaigns by putting a positive face on "forcible rape" and the GOP position that abortion services for victims of rape should be criminalized.

Sure, "forcible rape" is horrible and indefensible and all that but rapes have produced some great people.
“Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape,” Huckabee said of the late American gospel singer. One-time presidential candidate Huckabee added: “I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.”

Todd Akin meant to say 'forcible rape'

Yesterday in an interview with Mike Huckabee, Todd Akin clarified his position on real rapes. He didn't mean to say "legitimate rape" but "forcible rape".

All rapes are forcible by definition, you ask?  Here is an explanation. 

Todd Akin asks for your Forgiveness

The Akin campaign has a new ad out seeking forgiveness.

Akin says he chose the wrong words, but he hasn't changed his position on abortion including his belief that abortion services for rape victims should not only be denied federal funds but should be criminalized.

I haven't seen the ad run on local TV yet. Have you?

Monday, August 20, 2012

'legitmate rape' is a worldview, not a gaffe

It wasn't a gaffe when Todd Akin explained to Charles Jaco yesterday that an exception for rape is unnecessary.  "From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

That a woman cannot become pregnant from a true rape has been the stock in trade of the anti-abortion movement for years.   TPM reader 'SR' wrote in to explain:
Growing up, my political affiliations were tied to the political views of my parents, as they are for most people. My dad was apolitical, while my mom was a single-issue voter: Pro-Life. St. Louis is a very Catholic, very Pro-Life town, or at least it was in the 80s and 90s, when we lived there and participated in all of the marches and pickets. So, I grew up awash in the Pro-Life reasoning, and this idea of “real rape” (typically defined as the stranger assaulting the victim in a violent manner) preventing pregnancy was the standard response to the Pro-Choice argument about making exceptions for rape and incest.
This morning the TPM staff started doing some digging and discovered that in fact, this has standard response for victims of rape going back to at least 1988. 
In 1988, Stephen Freind, a state representative in Pennsylvania, defended his no-exceptions anti-abortion stance — as Akin was doing Sunday — by claiming that it was virtually impossible for a woman who is raped to become pregnant. “The odds are one in millions and millions and millions,” Freind said in a debate in March of that year. “And there is a physical reason for that.” Freind said that women possess a “certain secretion” that kills sperm. “Rape, obviously, is a traumatic experience. When that traumatic experience is undergone, a woman secretes a certain secretion, which has a tendency to kill sperm.” Freind promised to provide scientific documentation of his theory and told a cheering crowd later that month, “If you’re expecting me to back off, the answer is no.”
Still waiting on that scientific documentation.

And in case you have not figured it out, the core of this argument is incredibly misogynistic.  A woman could only get pregnant, if she wanted it, so don't concern yourself with any crys of 'rape'.  The only rape this movement acknowledges is the kind of violent rape that happens at the hand of a stranger.  If your daddy gets you pregnant? Well, you clearly wanted it or it wouldn't have happened.

And this is not an antiquated view either. As recently as last year Paul Ryan teamed up with Todd Akin to redefine rape as what Akin called "legitimate rape" and what he and Ryan called "forcible rape".  The 'she wanted it' misogynistic view was at the very core of that legislation.

This gets to the heart of what I've always found so offensive about the anti-abortion movement.  Far too many view an unwanted baby as a Scarlet Letter -- God's punishment for a sinful life. I understand that there are people of good will within the anti-abortion movement, but we never seem to hear from them.

This is the Republican party in 2012.  How much longer can people of good will continue to make excuses for this party so steeped in ignorance and ugliness?  You either oppose them, or you are part of the problem. 

Skinny dipping in Sea of Galiliee on the taxpayers' dime

I find this story really funny, but then I never took these people seriously.

Politico has the scoop of the morning. A large group of Republican freshmen (only Republicans, no 'heathens' allowed) went on a taxpayer funded junket to the Holy Land last summer. This is an obligatory trip for all elected Republicans so they can meet the Israeli government and swear allegiance and promise to put the interest of the Likud party above that of the United States. Eric Cantor acts as the Likud enforcer in the US.

Anyway, Politico reports that after a long day of touring, and a long night of drinking at a Sea of Galilee cookout, the GOP freshman and their families decided to go skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee.  The house freshmen defend themselves by saying that only Kansas Republican Kevin Yoder was totally naked.  The rest were just swimming in their underwear.

As the Republican party has become a Christianist party,  they wear their Christianity on their sleeves and their moral superiority on their chest as a badge of honor.  They are very quick to judge the actions of all non-Republican and once again they demonstrate their hypocrisy.   Religious frauds playing on the gullibility of their audience.

But some people have taken the Christianist GOP seriously and they are very concerned this might be damaging. 

Mike Allen in this morning's Playbook quotes Joe Scarborough, forever losing his innocence,
"This is SO bad for the Republican Party. ... They Republican brand, it's been really hurt over the past five, 10 years. The conservative brand, still pretty darned good. ... Here you have a group of Republicans ... going to a sacred religious site for evangelicals ... That reverberates from church to church, from pew to pew, from family to family, from preacher to preacher. ... Republicans: I guess I'll vote for 'em, but they don't BELIEVE in anything. ... It's ... an internal crisis [for House Republicans]. Forget the news coverage. And Eric Cantor knows this. You're going to have to talk to Republicans in synagogues, and talk to Republicans in Pentecostal churches. This is an internal problem. This isn't a media problem. This is a BASE problem They have offended their base. ... Eric Cantor ... needs to SCALD these people politically."
Mark Halperin speaking to Joe thinks that if Democrats press this, it could play into the fall election.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Todd Akin And Paul Ryan Partnered To Redefine Rape

Todd Akin explained today that women who have been raped don't need abortions because when there is a "legitimate rape" a woman is biologically incapable of conception.

Some have taken exception to this comment and Romney/Ryan have sought to distance their campaign from Akin's comments.

Romney/Ryan spokesperson Andrea Saul said "Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape."

Romney's position on abortion has always been to agree with whoever he was speaking too on the subject.

But Ryan, heretofore, was more principled.  He has always held the most conservative of positions on abortions.

“I’m as pro-life as a person gets,” he told the Weekly Standard in 2010. “You’re not going to have a truce.”

Last year Ryan teamed up with Todd Akin and other House Republicans to introduce the country to the concept of "forcible rape." Federal law prevents federal funds to be used to pay for abortions with the exception for rape victims.  The bill co-sponsored by Ryan and Akin targeted Medicaid recipients (the only ones who need federal funds for abortion services) and would have narrowed the definition of rape to only include violent rape.

Michelle Goldberg explains who the Ryan/Atkin bill targeted:
Under H.R. 3, ...Victims of statutory rape—say, a 13-year-old girl impregnated by a 30-year-old man—would be on their own. So would victims of incest if they’re over 18. And while “forcible rape” isn’t defined in the criminal code, the addition of the adjective seems certain to exclude acts of rape that don’t involve overt violence—say, cases where a woman is drugged or has a limited mental capacity. “It’s basically putting more restrictions on what was defined historically as rape,” says Keenan.
The jist was that any woman who knew her rapist would not qualify for a Medicaid funded abortion.

But that was last year.  This year Ryan supports a woman who is rapped being allowed to terminate her pregnancy.

I think we will be hearing more this week on Ryan's new abortion position. 

Ryan was for stimulus spending (under Bush) before he was against it

Earlier this week Ryan told a local Ohio ABC affiliate that he never sought any stimulus money from the program he railed against.   That was not true.  Ryan sought more than $20M in stimulus money for his district and after having been confronted with the letters from his own office, he conceded it was true.

But it gets better.  The hypocracy runs deep with Ryan.

Chris Hayes as dug up some video from 2002 of Ryan making a full-throated endorsement of deficit stimulus spending in 2002 during the Bush administration.

What the hell was Akin thinking?

So I go to a Cards game this afternoon and come home to find out that Todd Akin has come out of the bat-shit crazy closet? 

Todd Akin opposed abortion even in the case of rape.  In an interview released today with Charles Jaco from KTVI Fox St Louis, Akin explained that in the event that a rape is "legitimate" the woman's body has a means of preventing conception, and therefore would not be in need of an abortion.  Women only become pregnant, it seems, if they really wanted it.

Listen for yourself,

As Josh Marshall observed, as important as consent is, it's not a biological prerequisite to conception.

I knew Akin was extremely conservative but had no idea he was a complete idiot.

Friday, August 17, 2012

"Facts" New Medicare ad from Obama Campaign

Citing AARP analysis of Obama's ACA plan and Ryan's plan based by the House and endorsed by Romney.

Currently running in New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

For a discussions of the issues, listen to the candidates

Sadly, this has become counter intuitive, but Ezra says the candidates are having a ‘serious conversation’ over the issues.
In my experience, you’re actually getting a more serious conversation over the issues if you listen directly to the two campaigns than if you’re reading about the campaign as filtered through much of the media. I mean, here’s the most recent speech Obama gave. It’s almost all policy. And here’s the most recent speech on Mitt Romney’s Web site. It, too, is mostly policy. Even the attack ads are about Medicare!
 Kevin Drum explains that it's tough for reporters to limit coverage to substance because the substance doesn't change.  Once both campaigns position on a given issue is reported, the topic is done.  The positions don't change but every day a new story has to be written or time has to be filled on the news show.

Tappin' out the code - The GOP and the Southern Strategy

There is a whole generation of young Republicans raised on the coded racism of the Southern Strategy who have no idea that what they are hearing, and often repeating, is in fact coded racism.

Atwater with Pres George HW Bush at a 1989 inaugural party
I asked a young Republican friend in deep denial (and not a racist by any measure) why he thought Ronald Reagan launched his 1980 general election campaign from Philadelphia, Mississippi, a small farming town of about 5000 people in the middle of nowhere. Philadelphia Mississippi is famous for two things: the 1964 murders of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman (the subject of the 1988 film, "Mississippi Burning"), and Reagan's 1980 speech that offered a ringing endorsement of states rights.  Tappin' out the code,....

Lee Atwater spent his life in Republican politics using the Southern Strategy to play on the racist sentiments of white voters in and out of the South. Lee Atwater was the father of 'push polling' used to smear an opponent under the guise of an 'independent pollster'. For instance, In a 1980 SC congressional campaign, Atwater used a push poll to inform white voters that his Democratic opponent was a member of the NAACP.  One of Atwater's most despicable acts also came in this race and has come to be known as the 'jumper cable' episode.

Immediately after the 1980 SC congressional campaign, Atwater joined the Reagan Administration under political director Ed Rollins.

In 1981, then Reagan political aid Lee Atwater gave an interview to political scientist Alexander Lamis who was researching his book, "The Two Party South." Atwater, quoted anonymously,  explained the Southern Strategy in blunt terms,   
LEE ATWATER: As to the whole Southern strategy that [Nixon political strategist] Harry S. Dent, Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn’t have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he’s campaigned on since 1964 and that’s fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.

QUESTIONER: But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

ATWATER: You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
Lamis identified Atwater as the source of the above quote in his follow-up book, "Southern Politics in the 1990s" published after Atwater's death in 1991 from brain cancer.

Atwater was a Republican hit in the 1980's.  He was the campaign manager of George H.W. Bush in 88 and the mastermind behind the Willie Horton' attack

Karl Rove was an acolyte of Lee Atwater and used what he leaned from Atwater to effectively end McCain's 2000 campaign by push polling McCain in South Carolina by asking white voters "Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain...if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?" The McCains adopted daughter, Bridgette, 8 years old at the time, is from Bangladesh.

It's fair to say that with time the Southern Strategy might be less important to the GOP, but it's no coincidence that the GOP is now a captive party of the South.  And if you listen with an honest ear, you can hear Romney tappin'out the code in 2012.