Thursday, September 27, 2012

Republicans did this to themselves, David Brooks edition

I try to always read David Brooks because he's thoughtful.

Brooks takes a look at The Conservative Mind,
It’s not so much that today’s Republican politicians reject traditional, one-nation conservatism. They don’t even know it exists. There are few people on the conservative side who’d be willing to raise taxes on the affluent to fund mobility programs for the working class. There are very few willing to use government to actively intervene in chaotic neighborhoods, even when 40 percent of American kids are born out of wedlock. There are very few Republicans who protest against a House Republican budget proposal that cuts domestic discretionary spending to absurdly low levels.

The results have been unfortunate. Since they no longer speak in the language of social order, Republicans have very little to offer the less educated half of this country. Republicans have very little to say to Hispanic voters, who often come from cultures that place high value on communal solidarity.

Some people blame bad campaign managers for Romney’s underperforming campaign, but the problem is deeper. Conservatism has lost the balance between economic and traditional conservatism. The Republican Party has abandoned half of its intellectual ammunition. It appeals to people as potential business owners, but not as parents, neighbors and citizens.
It's not just the GOP 'has very little to offer' the less affluent, or Hispanics, but they are openly hostile to them in an angry and bitter way.

Romney is losing the Catholic vote

For a couple generations after the New Deal, Catholic voters overwhelmingly favored Democrats. As Republicans began pushing social issues and the Church began pushing abortion politics above all else, Republicans started chipping away at this bloc of voters.

The current GOPs right-wing swing is costing them, again, with Catholic voters.  Andrew provides analysis and details.  In short, Obama is even with white Catholics (a block he lost in 2008) and wins the block with overwhelming Latin support.

Mark Lilla looks at The Great Disconnect between us and Republicans

In a clever and entertaining book review, Mark Lilla struggles to understand Republicans problem with Obama, and in doing so explains to Republicans why Obama is winning,
Whenever conservatives talk to me about Barack Obama, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. But what exactly? The anger, the suspicion, the freestyle fantasizing have no perceptible object in the space-time continuum that centrist Democrats like me inhabit. What are we missing? Seen from our perspective, the country elected a moderate and cautious straight shooter committed to getting things right and giving the United States its self-­respect back after the Bush-Cheney years. Unlike the crybabies at MSNBC and Harper’s Magazine, we never bought into the campaign’s hollow “hope and change” rhetoric, so aren’t crushed that, well, life got in the way. At most we hoped for a sensible health care program to end the scandal of America’s uninsured, and were relieved that Obama proposed no other grand schemes of Nixonian scale. We liked him for his political liberalism and instinctual conservatism. And we still like him.

Rove's American Crossroads says Obama want's to dismantle the American Economy

But Rove never really explains why or what's in it for Obama. We left to conclude Obama just hates us. All of us, and our children. And he really hates our grandmother because he wanted to kill her but she's still alive.

As I said before, Republicans have done this to themselves.

Republican party did this to themselves, ctd.

Republican President Ronald Reagan and Tory Prime Minister Margret Thatcher were like two sides of the same coin.

Now compare Tory Prime Minister David Cameron to Mitt Romney and Republican Party.  I can't think of a better illustration how completely intellectually bankrupt and radicalized the Republican Party has become in the last 20 years.

If Mitt Romney had modeled himself after David Cameron and ran a campaign based upon intellectual vigor, core competence and fiscal conservatism sans the religious fanatics, supply-side and neo-con foreign policy fantasists, he'd have a 20 point lead in the polls with the GOP having no choice but to follow him or be left out.  Romney wouldn't have to endlessly pander to the lunatic base because he wouldn't need them. 

How much better would we all sleep at night knowing that David Cameron were the worst we could do? 

Imagine being able to have a national debate about the most efficient and effective ways to deal with climate change?

Image having a national debate about an effective and comprehensive energy policy that could go beyond simply building taxpayer funded refineries and pipelines through national parks and wasn't interrupted with screams of 'drill baby drill'.

Imagine a national conversation on effective and economically efficient environmental policies that takes as a given that poisoning our air and water is not conducive to our long term survival.

Business and Industry would be at the table because they wouldn't have a choice -- participate or watch the policy be made without your impute. 

We had a national conversation about welfare reform in the 1990s and Republicans won.  It's time for more, but we can't move on until the extremist that now control the Republican Party are defeated once and of all.

Republicans have done this to themselves

The Romney campaign is in serious trouble and Republicans are starting to freak out in very public ways.  Andrew Sullivan did a little run down last night.

Many in the Republican establishment are already starting to dumb all their problems on Romney and those who "forced" him (Erick Erickson here) on the GOP.  As if Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, or Herman Cain were perfectly acceptable choices any one of whom would be currently cleaning Obama's clock.

Last week Kevin Drum confronted these Republican revisionists by reminding them that Mitt Romney was by a wide margin agreed to be their best candidate seeking the nomination,
He was, without much question, the most electable of the primary bunch and the toughest opponent for Barack Obama. He was disciplined, well-funded, and had a moderate background that appealed to independents. He was, in short, the very best the Republicans had to offer in the year 2012.This was not a fantasy, either. It was an accurate assessment. Romney was the best they had. The very best.

Let that sink in for a bit.
The Republican party has done this to themselves by allowing a take over of their party by Southern political extremists and fostering an intellectual closed loop that filters out all facts that don't support their position.

If you want one person to blame, blame Karl Rove.  It actually started with Newt Gingrich, but Rove took it nationwide.  With a page from his mentor's playbook, Rove has been the biggest Republican figure of the last 12 years who made a conscious choice not run on issues and to demonize and ridicule opponents so that voters found them unacceptable. 

The Republican party has spent the last 12 years denying science, demonizing their opponents as people who "hate" America, want to "destroy" America and/or "destroy" our American way of life.  Democrats are Godless traitors who want to turn the country into a communist or Muslim state and kill grandma for using too much health care but give free health care to all non-whites all of whom are in this country illegally.

A steady and endless diet of hate-mongering, environmental denialism and anti-intellectualism has driven young voters, college educated voters, moderate conservative voters and non-white voters from the party leaving only an angry, bitter and uneducated white base who honestly believe the very survival of America is at stake in every election and who demand extreme positions from their candidates which in turn makes them unelectable outside of carefully gerrymandered congressional districts.  

The fear of Sharia law is a perfect example.   The Republican legislature and Governor of Oklahoma have passed a law banning Sharia law while Republican legislatures in Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, S Carolina, Tennessee and Utah (notice a pattern?) have proposed Sharia bans pending.  They are fringe figures you say?  Speaker Newt Gingrich (one of the GOP luminaries who would be killing Obama right now)  has demanded a Federal ban of Sharia, "I believe Shariah is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.”

Karl Rove loves to call himself 'the architect' and this is what he has spent the last 12 years building.  A radicalized GOP that doesn't understand that they are on the wrong side of the real issues mainstream voters care about.

Paul Ryan's acceptance speech at the GOP Convention is a perfect example of a party intellectually barren.  Ryan has spent his entire adult life in an ideological cocoon where 'facts' are simply made up out of whole cloth and any dissent is beat into silence.  Then Ryan gives his first national speech containing one lie after another and is stunned when a national media confronts him for the first time in his political life with reality.  

Just like 2008, the Republican party is already learning the wrong lessons from this election cycle setting the groundwork for yet another defeat in 2016.

It was all fun and games when this angry mob was attacking Democrats --when American hero and civil rights legend John Lewis was spit on by tea party protesters as they screamed 'nigger' at him.

Now this angry mob is turning on the GOP and here we are.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Romney completely humiliates himself in Vandalia Ohio

Romney suffers utter humiliation in Vandalia, Ohio at a September 25, 2012 rally with Paul Ryan.

Joe Scarborough feels like Fredo in the fishing boat.

In 30 plus years of being a political junkie, I've never seen a candidate humiliate himself like this. I'm sincerely starting to feel sorry for Mitt Romney and have to keep reminding myself that he has done this to himself.

God forbid he should be his own man, and tell Republican extremist to piss up a rope.

To set the scene, As Romney begins to speak, the crowd is chanting "Ryan! Ryan! Ryan!"

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Absent something cataclysmic, the Romney campaign is over

Of course Barack Obama can lose in November, but if you are being honest, you have to admit that Romney winning this election at this point has become very hard to imagine.

Undecided and independent voters have been breaking for Obama for 3 weeks giving him an ever growing lead in every swing state.  Last Friday we looked at the status of the swing states and the Obama trend continues.  A WaPo poll released today gives Obama an 8 point lead in Ohio. 

Think about this:  Romney has NEVER led in a head to head versus Obama in Virgina, Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin or Colorado and in every one of these states Obama's lead is growing.  Romney has been trailing Obama in Florida since May with Obama's lead widening.  North Carolina is certainly competitive for Romney but he's not leading and the trend is Obama.

Bad economic numbers aren't new and are already built into Obama's poll numbers. The fact is that the voters know Obama well at this point, and have decided they would prefer him, warts and all, to Romney.  And with every move Romney makes, voters seem only more convinced to stay with Obama .   This is pretty typical for presidential re-election campaigns. 

Hope's spring is eternal.  I know because I've backed my share of losers.  Romney dead-enders look to the debates for a glimmer of hope, but who are they kidding?  Neither candidate is an especially strong debater, and neither is going to score a knock-out blow against the other.   It's just not happening.  Debates just don't move voters.  As I mentioned here before, Mondale beat Reagan up pretty good in the 1984 debates (one memorable moment here) and come election day, Reagan unleashed a beating the likes of which I don't think any of us will every see again in our lifetimes. George Bush certainly didn't perform well in 2004 debates but in the end, it didn't matter.

And Romney won't find any quarter in getting more specific because the fact is that none of his positions have majority support among voters:  Not tax cuts for top earners, not war with Iran, not increased defense spending, not privatizing Medicare or Social Security.  That Romney's numbers don't add up is something talking heads mention nearly every time they discuss Romney policy.  Republicans have been pushing these issues for the last 10 years and despite getting no traction with independent voters, they keep coming back for more.  Even repealing the Affordable Care Act is a misfire because Republicans keep misreading the public's mood.  The ACA is not the most popular bill to come out of Congress, but many of it's key provisions are popular and a substantial number of those who oppose the act do so because it doesn't go far enough. 

So let's be honest, and admit Romney doesn't have a path to victory barring some sort of improbable cataclysmic event.  

So what do groups like Crossroads do?  They have to either go nuclear with an all out brutally ugly non-stop assault on Obama in hopes of turning Ohio, Florida, Virgina, Colorado, etc. or giving up on Romney and move all assets to encircling Obama with a Republican House and Senate.  

As the name implies, going nuclear is a very high risk bet because if it doesn't work, the down side could be losing House seats you would otherwise win and making the GOP brand so toxic that they lose an entire generation of voters.  Republicans hate Obama, but no one else does and at least Karl Rove knows this.

Bailing on Romney to concentrate fire on the House and Senate seems the smarter move.  And bailing on Romney doesn't necessarily mean cutting him off completely, but rather just spending the bare minimum in his support so as to answer critics that you have not given up.

Feel free to tell me why I'm full of it and outline Romney's path to victory.  What am I missing? 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Obama Biden has some fun with Romney out of context

Obama Biden has a new web ad having some fun with the Romney campaign that likes to quote the President out of context.

Peggy Noonan doubles down and hit's Romney with a second barrel

If you are a Republican, don't piss off Peggy Noonan.  Not only will she compare you unfavorably to Ronald Reagan (did you know Noonan used to work for Reagan?) she might use her column to brutally bludgeon you day after day.

In Noonah's Sept 18 WSJ column she called the Romney campaign "incompetent" and called for an intervention.   This column got a lot of play, but it was on a day with a lot of conservative writers were piling on.   Here was the crux on Noonan's column,
It’s time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one. It’s not big, it’s not brave, it’s not thoughtfully tackling great issues. It’s always been too small for the moment. All the activists, party supporters and big donors should be pushing for change. People want to focus on who at the top is least constructive and most responsible. Fine, but Mitt Romney is no puppet: He chooses who to listen to. An intervention is in order. “Mitt, this isn’t working.”
Noonan didn't pull any punches and proceeded to outline Romney's incompetence item by item for the benefit of anyone who might not have been paying attention.  Some might of thought this was just some tough love, but it now appears that Noonan has no love for Romney.

In her Friday column, Noonan comes back for a second pound of flesh, evidently out of fear that her earlier column was too subtle.
It is true that a good debate, especially a good first one, can invigorate a candidate and lead to increased confidence, which can prompt good decisions and sensible statements. There is more than a month between the first debate and the voting: That's enough time for a healthy spiral to begin.

But: The Romney campaign has to get turned around. This week I called it incompetent, but only because I was being polite. I really meant "rolling calamity." A lot of people weighed in, in I suppose expected ways: "Glad you said this," "Mad you said this." But, some surprises. No one that I know of defended the campaign or argued "you're missing some of its quiet excellence."
I've followed, supported and volunteered (at very low levels) for my share of losing campaigns, and I've done the same for some winning campaigns. I'm 3 for 7.

When a campaign is winning, everything seems to go their way and the gaffe's melt away if they are ever actually noticed. Winning begets winning. If things start breaking your way, you can even stand in front of a large crowd in St Charles MO with all the media present and out of pure ignorance and stupidity yell into a microphone that the fools you are running against are so dumb they think Social Security is a Federal program and no one will even notice.  And if the other side dares to mention the remark and suggest that it might call into question the candidate, everyone will rush to brush it off as just a minor misstatement.

The same in true for losing too. When a campaign gets the Loser stink, it seems that nothing can turn the tide. The press notices every little thing, and one dumb comment begets a second, and a third and then suddenly the campaign falls into a panic and a seeming bright and articulate candidate with a heretofore promising political career starts to look like a buffoon.  The losing snowballs and then not even a debate performance that would have shamed Socrates is enough to get everyone to stop smirking at the candidate.    

Peggy Noonan thinks Romney has the Loser stink.

Romney Campaign has money problems

It has been noticed that Romney is being badly outspent in the swing states which raised obvious questions since Romney has been reporting $100M+ fundraising all summer.

Well, it turns out, they have been cooking the books a little. Nick Confessore reports in today's NY Times,
Much of the more than $300 million the campaign reported raising this summer is earmarked for the Republican National Committee, state Republican organizations and Congressional races, limiting the money Mr. Romney’s own campaign has to spend....the campaign’s cash flow became so slow over the summer that it was forced to borrow $20 million to carry it through the [RNC Convention], when his formal nomination freed up tens of millions of dollars for the general election. Yet at the same time Romney aides worked hard to project the image of a fund-raising machine far outpacing the president’s.
Romney aides released informal dollar figures that lumped several pools of money — some available for his use, others not — into a single figure, providing a perception greater than reality: $106 million in June and $101 million in July, far more than Mr. Obama and the Democrats. Yet those figures obscured the fact that most of the money Mr. Romney was raising was reserved for those other political entities like the Republican National Committee.
I'm really surprised by this. I've always assumed Romney could always turn to fellow LDS members to provide enough small donations to prevent him from having any money issues.

Apparently not.

Have you seen the tea party ad running on TV now making a desperate call to 'fellow patriots'  to raise emergency money for Romney.

Here's a snapshot of swing states as of today






North Carolina


It's not even close in Pennsylvania which is why Romney and Crossroads have pulled out.

The rats are fleeing the sinking SS Romney

Gov Pawlenty sporting his trademark mullet
Former MN Gov Tim Pawlenty has resigned as National Co-Chair of the Romney campaign to take a Wall Street job.

Pawlenty was the first former opponent to exit the primaries and endorse Mitt Romney.

Pawlenty's abrupt departure is significant because it means Pawlenty had given up any hope that he would be a cabinet secretary in a new Romney administration.

He could have just as easily started the new job on November 7th.

No mullet's on Wall Street, Governor.  Time to get a big boy haircut.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Romney shamelessly edit Obama 'redistribution' clip to create a false impression

Time and again the Romney campaign reminds us that they are morally bankrupt and govern by Machiavellian ambition to justify any lie or misrepresentation.  Torture?

This is exactly how the GW Bush administration operated and it's sickening to think we could go back to his.

Frankly, I really am surprised to find Romney so completely lacking in virtue.  I really did think that whatever we disagreed on, unlike those running the Bush administration, Romney would be guided by a moral compass.

I was wrong.

The Romney campaign has found a 1998 video of  Obama speaking at a Chicago Conference saying he's in favor of redistribution of wealth.  We all are, by the way, most people just don't know it (Social Security? Student Loans? Pell Grants, etc.) But for Republicans, this is commie talk.

NBC has obtained the full video of Obama's remarks, and surprise surprise surprise.  Romney had edited the video to create a false impression.   Romney edited out "competition" and "marketplace"

Here is the whole clip:
I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot.  How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities.
Would any Republican, save the most extreme, disagree with this?

NBC has the entire video clip posted here. 

By the way, there is no better example of how completely fucked up and out of touch Romney and the GOP are in 2012.  They're trying to win an election 'red baiting' their opponent 20 years after the fall of the USSR.  Hardly anyone under 50 even understands what red baiting is much less why they should care.

Obama v Romney as compared to Bush v Kerry

Andrew Sullivan put up this handy comparison that I'm shamelessly copying here.

Andrew observes:
Bush was further ahead after his convention, and you can see his lead narrowed dramatically thereafter. You'll also see that Kerry led Bush slightly for a long period in the summer. Romney has never managed to get a point above Obama in the RCP polls ever.

Obama for America hits Romney's 47% in a web ad

Priorities USA takes on Romney's 47%

Pro Obama PAC Priorities USA is up with an ad hitting Romney on his 47% nonsense.

This will run in swing states and is a part of their previously announced $30M ad buy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Romney's 47% line was simply another coded race reference

Mitt's 47% remarked to donors that is now so much in the news was simply another example of Mitt Romney taping out the coded reference to race.

I'll let David Frum explain,
When you ask white Americans to estimate the black population of the United States, the answer averages out at nearly 30%. Ask them to estimate the Hispanic population, and the answer averages out at 22%. So when a politician or a broadcaster talks about 47% in "dependency," the image that swims into many white voters' minds is not their mother in Florida, her Social Security untaxed, receiving Medicare benefits vastly greater than her lifetime tax contributions; it is not their uncle, laid off after 30 years and now too old to start over. No, the image that comes into mind is minorities on welfare.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Republican's shouldn't blame Romney, he's the very imbodiement of the 21st Century GOP

Or at least, he's trying to be.

Romney's campaign has been a series of blunders the likes of which we've not seen since John McCain ran for President in 2008.

 In just the last week, the Romney campaign and GOP Chair Reince Priebus jumped on the opportunity to exploit the murder of Americans in terrorist attacks for political gain.  Herr Preibus took 12 hours after calling the President of the United States a traitor to offer condolences to the families of those murdered while serving our country.  This is what passes for patriotism in the 21st Century GOP.

Sunday night, 7 weeks from the election, Politico published a scoop with several Romney campaign insiders describing their campaign in shambles and directly backstabbing top strategist Stuart Stevens and indirectly, Romney himself.

On Monday, when Romney promised a fresh new campaign about ideas, Mothers Jones had secret video from a recent Romney fundraiser wherein Mitt described all Obama supporters as tax dodging moochers dependent on government for their survival.  It's ugly and condescending and reveals Romney to be a real jerk.  But let's not forget that Obama had a similar issue in the last campaign. 

Mark Kleiman observes that Obama has the luck of the Irish, for "his talent for finding self-destructing opponents – or perhaps for inducing otherwise sane opponents to self-destruct,.."

It not so much the good luck of Obama but the sorry state of the GOP in the 21st century.

McCain and Romney came undone because Obama did not. Obama’s refusal to self destruct forced McCain in 2008 and now Romney to run on nonexistent GOP ideas.

Since Ronald Reagan, GOP economic policy is a tax cut for top earners, more defense spending (seriously, no amount is too much), cut any and every government program that doesn’t transfer tax dollars to Republican donors (GOP’s Medicare Part D only makes since when viewed as a multiBillion dollar transfer to big Pharma) and remove has many banking/finance and environmental regulations as they can get away with. It’s a party dedicated to raping and pillaging the Federal government until it is bankrupted.

If the GOP nominee can’t run on his support for the pledge of allegiance, God in schools, blind patriotism and must actually defend Republican policies, they come undone because it's an impossible task.   In 2000, John McCain ran a mostly honorable campaign.  In 2005, then Governor Mitt Romney was a health care policy savant who worked across the isle to create a universal coverage healh care system in MA that included the individual mandate of the Heritage Foundation brought health insurance to millions of uninsured and stabilized health care cost in his state.  But that was 2005 and that Romney no longer exists.  I'll let Joe Klein explain what we have today,
Romney has dumbed himself down to fit a Republican Party that has become anachronistic, hateful and foolish. He has never once stood up to the party's extremist base in this campaign--not even when asked whether he would accept a deficit deal with $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in new revenues,..

Fortunately for the GOP, and sadly for the Nation, Democrats only rarely force them to substance.

Ironically, the states that pay least taxes are the most conservative/Republican

The 10 most conservative and Republican states are also the 10 states that pay the least amount of Federal income taxes. Ironic, isn't it?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Obama campaign takes on the `are you better off’ question

Via Greg Sargent, Obama for America answers the question, are you better off in this new add running in the seven battleground states: Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado and Wisconsin (I think).

Hillary Clinton's couragous leadership

As Americans in the Middle East came under deadly attack, Mitt Romney and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus rushed to exploit the American deaths for political gain and called the President of the United States a traitor, Hillary Clinton was demonstrating stoic and courageous leadership.

Daniel Klaidman has a feature looking inside the State Department during the Benghazi attacks.
Through it all, Hillary Clinton was a source of strength for her wounded department, employees say. She moved back and forth between public appearances and private internal diplomacy, showing her trademark combination of resolve, empathy, and hyper-competence. She began at State, looking drawn but determined, calling the events in Benghazi “an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world.” Later that morning she stood by President Obama at the White House, looking alternately stoic and stricken. Then the president and his secretary of state traveled to Foggy Bottom where they met with shocked employees. Those who saw Clinton in action this week say it was in the more private, intimate moments where she was at her best.

That day, Clinton called to console the grieving relatives of the victims, including Stevens’s sister and Smith’s wife. Later she held a video conference with the shell-shocked staff of the embassy in Tripoli. “It was tearful and incredibly moving,” according to one source who declined to provide further details out of respect for those who were still absorbing the trauma that had befallen their embassy. “But it was an inspirational moment that made me, once again, proud to work for Hillary.”
I was a Hillary skeptic for many years and wrote about it often on this blog (example).  I never disliked Hillary and never understood Republican hatred of her.  I know Hillary personally and was just unconvinced that she could be an effective leader.   Well, once again, I was wrong and happily stand corrected.

During the Bush years, when Democrats criticized Republican leadership, it always sounded like sour grapes.  Now, with Democrats in charge, Americans can see Democratic leadership -- in the case of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton -- and it really does draw a stark contrast to the Bush administration.  This week we saw what it means to be "presidential" and Mitt Romney has never looked so small or wanting.
Hillary and I in happier times
Below the fold is the full video of the ceremony at Andrews AFB bringing home the remains of those brave American diplomats killed in Libya.

The problem with Rasmussen

Andrew Sullivan, like The Ward Report, does not include Rasmussen polling in his polling snapshots.  Today Andrew looked back at the last week to show graphically why he doesn't include them.

Andrew: "I'm not saying they rig anything. Or that they did not have a good record in the last election cycle,..."

But Rasmussen DID NOT have a good record last election cycle. In fact, as Nate Silver explained in 2010, Rasmussen had the worst record of the major polling outfits during that cycle.

Joe Klein wants to know what happened to Mitt Romney

In the September 24, 2012, Time Magazine, Joe Klein tries to make sense of what happened to Mitt Romney,
I first met Mitt Romney in 2005. I was very impressed. I described him in this magazine as "informal, conversational, enthusiastic and speedy." Mitt Romney? Yes, indeed. But then, we were talking about something he really believed in, or seemed to: his universal health care plan for Massachusetts, which included an individual mandate--an idea I'd admired since it was proposed by Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation in 1989. Romney's plan wasn't the Full Butler, which would eliminate the deductibility of employer-donated health care benefits. But it was a huge step in the right direction, and Romney had mastered every detail of it. He seemed a near Clintonian policy wonk, a guy who certainly wouldn't have offered the disingenuous comments about health care that Romney did Sept. 9 on Meet the Press. In an attempt to sidle toward the center, Romney said he would embrace aspects of the Obama health care plan, like the mandate for insurance companies to cover all comers, including those with pre-existing conditions.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Joe Scarborough sees through Romney

In a Politico column, Joe Scarborough perfectly describes Mitt Romney:
If we want to win the battle of ideas in the long term, we should be willing to face the fact that Mitt Romney is likely to lose — and should, given that he’s neither a true conservative nor a courageous moderate. He’s just an ambitious man. Nothing wrong with that, except when you want to be president. Great leaders combine ambition and ideas and conviction.
Make no mistake, Joe is a died-in-the-wool Republican and is perfectly capable of self delusion. But he hit the bulls eye on Mitt.  Mitt just wants to be president and everything else is just details. 

Romney is a bright and talented man who has been running for President for at least the last 6 years.  He's been unemployed for the last 4 years.  He had all the time in the world to go to school on foreign policy and develop some expertise.  But he apparently couldn't be bothered.  Details. 

George W Bush was also a man uninterested in governing and lacked intellectual curiosity, and we all know how that worked out.

The Republican Party wasn't always dominated by foreign policy buffoons

It wasn't that long ago the the Republican Party was widely understood to be the home of the smartest foreign policy thinkers in the country.  No more.

Sophie Quinton writing in the Atlantic paints a vivid picture of how far off course the Republican party veered by doing nothing more than looking back to 1980, and a different international crises.

In 1980, while Jimmy Carter was running for re-election, 53 Americans were being held hostage in Tehran.  It was a very dark time for Americans that is hard to describe today, to those who didn't live through it.

Carter was being challenged by George Bush, the Elder, and a right-wing conservative and former governor of California, Ronald Reagan.  Carter was also facing a primary challenge by Ted Kennedy.  Many people believed in 1980, as they did in 1976, that Ronald Reagan was just too conservative to win the White House.

Overview of the wreckage in the Iranian desert
In April, 1980, Carter signed off on Operation Eagle Claw which was an attempt by the U.S. military to rescue the hostages held in Iran.  The plan was incredibly complicated and ended in disaster in the Iranian desert when one of the helicopters colided with one of the support aircraft.  It was humiliating to Americans in a way that those younger than me cannot understand.  I will never forget waking up that morning with my mother siting at the kitchen table telling me the president was about to speak because a secret rescue mission had failed.  8 military personal were killed in the crash, and 5 helicopters were abandoned in the desert and captured by the Iranian government.  Jimmy Carter's presidency ended that day.

Candidate Ronald Reagan, when asked to respond, told reporters, "This is the time for us as a nation and a people to stand united." Reagan would not criticize Carter.

Candidate George H.W. Bush went further: "I unequivocally support the president of the United States -- no ifs, ands or buts -- and it certainly is not a time to try to go one-up politically. He made a difficult, courageous decision."

Now try and think of Mitt Romney without laughing. 

To paraphrase Andrew Sullivan, don't tell me the Republican Party hasn't changed.   It really is astounding to see a political party go from foreign dominance to being internationally mocked buffoons in just one generation.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

RNC Already Politicizing Anti-American Rioting

The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldbergon RNC Chairman's rush to politicize American deaths abroad,
There's no proof for this assertion, of course -- the mealy-mouthed tweets coming from the Cairo (the ones seemingly sympathizing with the pre-enlightenment types who believe that blasphemers deserve to be murdered) were written by embassy staff and were disavowed by the Obama Administration.

More to the point: Really? The President who is waging war against Islamist extremists in six or seven countries "sympathizes" with their fellow travelers in Egypt? Please provide proof, Mr. Priebus. Otherwise this is slander. And also, a question: Will Reince Priebus say anything in order to gain a moment's political advantage?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Romney and RNC offer aid and comfort to those who killed an American diplomat

Protestors attacked United States diplomatic compounds in Egypt and Libya on Tuesday, killing one State Department officer.

In a coordinated attack on the President, Reince Priebus tweets this,

And in the midst of crises, the Romney campaign put out this statement,
“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”


Monday, September 10, 2012

Priorities USA new ad hit's Romney on taxes

Pro Obama super PAC Priorities USA has a new ad up using the Tax Policy Center analysis to hit Romney for middle class tax increases.

 The ad is set to run this week in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

I think it's pretty tepid.  What do you think?

Obama Campaign beats Romney in fundraising first time since April

For the first time since April, the Obama campaign claims that it has raised more money than the Romney campaign for August.

A surprise to no one who receives the 3 to 4 emails a day from Team Obama seeking a donation.

But what about the Super PACs?

These figures do not include the money going to outside groups like Karl Rove's CrossRoads GPS.  How many big GOP donors are just bypassing the party altogether and giving directly to Super PACs?  A lot, and when you count in that money, Romney is probably out-raising Obama by a very wide margin.  Maybe even 2 to 1.

Joe Biden at home in Cruisers Diner, Seaman OH

Vice President Joe Biden visiting Cruisers Diner in Seaman, OH AP Photo
Can you imagine Mitt Romney in this photo?  Now that would be funny.

Do bikers vote?

Sunday, September 09, 2012

This morning on MTP Romney would maintain coverage for pre-existing conditions

But a lot can happen in the hours after Romney says something.

This morning on Meet the Press Romney surprised everyone when he said,
“I’m not getting rid of all of health care reform. Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place,” he said on NBC’s “Meet The Press. “One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like.”
But don't worry because that was this morning and by lunch everything had changed.
Eliana, I reached out to the Romney campaign for clarification about Mitt Romney’s remarks this morning about liking some parts of Obamacare. An aide pointed out that Romney first said on Meet the Press that “I say we are going to replace Obamacare. And I am replacing it with my own plan.”

In reference to how Romney would deal with those with preexisting conditions and young adults who want to remain on their parents’ plans, a Romney aide responded that there had been no change in Romney’s position and that “in a competitive environment, the marketplace will make available plans that include coverage for what there is demand for. He was not proposing a federal mandate to require insurance plans to offer those particular features.”
Without question, this is the most fucked up candidate and campaign ever.

Romney keeps blowing every chance to get the troops question right

Seriously, Romney may be the worst politician to run for President in modern history.

AS you may have heard or subsequently read, in Romney's acceptance speech, Romney made no mention at all of American troops serving in harms way.   Does anyone doubt that had Obama made such an error that Romney and every Republican who could get in front of a mic would be loudly and repeatedly demanding he withdraw from the race?

Romney's first lifeline came on Friday, when Fox's Bret Baier offered him a chance to clear the matter up with sweeping full-throated praise of our troops.   Responding to Baier's question,  Romney smug response, "I only regret you repeating it day to day." followed by a forced laugh.

In Mike Allen's Politico Playbook this morning, he gives us a sneak peak of Romney's Meet the Press appearance wherein Gregory throws Romney a second lifeline on the omission and gives him a chance to set the record straight. 
ROMNEY: “You know, I find it interesting that people are curious about mentioning words in a speech as opposed to policy. And so I went to the American Legion the day before I gave that speech.”

GREGORY: “You weren't talking to tens of millions of people, Governor, when you went to the American Legion.”

ROMNEY: “You know, what I've found is that wherever I go, I am speaking to tens of millions of people. Everything I say is picked up by you and by others, and that's the way it ought to be. So I went to the American Legion and spoke with our veterans there, and described my policy as it relates to Afghanistan and other foreign policy and our military....
Mike Allen, unable to contain his frustration in the face of utter political incompetence, call Romney to task,
PLAYBOOK FACTS OF LIFE: Gov. Romney has now whiffed on two chances to try to get on the right side of a vulnerability that Team Obama will continue to try to exploit. What we would have said, rather than quibbling with the question or coverage: “Nothing is more important than our troops.” That’s it. Just keep sayin’ it, and folks will quit asking. Also, if you want to be commander-in-chief, it’s not “their effort,” it’s “our effort.”
And this incompetence is not just with Romney but a campaign that can't shoot straight and apparently can't be direct with Romney on a simple fix an inexcusable blunder .

Is this really who we want leading the free world?  Serious question.

Obama flashes gang signs to Hawaiian boy in Orlando bar

POTUS at unscheduled appearance at Orlando sports bar September 9, 2012. AP Photo
and ask the boy for a copy of his birth certificate.

Sorry, just trolling for Republicans.

At an unscheduled stop today in an Orlando Sports Bar (imagine the surprise of everyone when the POTUS walks in) Obama stopped at a table full to chat.

Politico's Reid Epstein fills us in:
One of the adult women pointed out a blond boy, Andre Wupperman of Orlando, to Obama and said, “He was born in Hawaii.”

Obama and the boy then each made the international sign for “hang loose” with one hand.

Obama then asked Wupperman, who will turn 7 years old next week, the question that was so often asked of him: “You were born in Hawaii? You have a birth certificate?"

The table laughed. The pool was led out of the bar.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Mental Health Break: Here is St. Louis

Here is St. Louis from Anastasis Films on Vimeo.

Barack Obama's nomination acceptance speech

The full text of the President's address to the Democratic National Convention can be found here.

My favorite passage, that hasn't gotten much play:
We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense. 
What the president did tonight was remind the American people that Republicans offer a very different future than that offered by Democrats.  The overriding them was that the Democrats are in this with you, and the Republicans would cast you adrift to fend for yourself.   That this election is a referendum on the America you want to live in.

Frankly, this is the message he should have been delivering in 2010.

It wasn't Clinton's speech but then it wasn't intended to be.  Had the President delivered Clinton's speech he would have sounded defensive. 

Barack Obama delivered a home run tonight.  Now we get to see if he gets a pounce.

Friedman engages in magical thinking to make Romney reasonable.

Thomas Friedman, in his September 4th column engages in some magical thinking. Friedman explains that without the magical thinking, Mitt Romney comes off as a foreign policy extremist. Just a nice way of saying he's a kook.
Mitt Romney has ...a big stick, and he is going to use it on Day 1. Or as he put it: “If I’m president of the United States ... on Day 1, I will declare China a currency manipulator, allowing me to put tariffs on products where they are stealing American jobs unfairly.

That is really cool. Smack China on Day 1. I just wonder what happens on Day 2 when China, the biggest foreign buyer of U.S. debt securities, announces that it will not participate in the next Treasury auction, sending our interest rates soaring. That will make Day 3 really, really cool. Welcome to the Romney foreign policy, which I’d call: “George W. Bush abroad — the cartoon version.

I know Romney doesn’t believe a word he’s saying on foreign policy and that it’s all aimed at ginning up votes: there’s some China-bashing to help in the Midwest, some Arab-bashing to win over the Jews, some Russia-bashing (our “No. 1 geopolitical foe”) to bring in the Polish vote, plus a dash of testosterone to keep the neocons off his back.
Nothing Romney has said to anyone would support Friedman's theory that Romney doesn't mean what he says. Romney's views are consistent with the advisers he surrounds himself with -- neocons who worked for George W.   It's absurd for intelligent people to project onto political figures their own view of reasonableness that is contrary to everything the candidate has actually said.

Daniel Larison sees no reason to believe Romney has a secrete plan for anything:
This is a common interpretation of Romney’s foreign policy views. It relies on the belief that Romney’s stated positions are so foolish that no one would ever follow through on them. This requires us to believe that Romney will suddenly cease pandering to national security hawks once he takes office despite being surrounded by them, and that he will start off his administration by backtracking on most or all of his foreign policy commitments. Romney doesn’t seem inclined to roil his hawkish supporters on purpose, and he has so far demonstrated no hint of independent thought on these issues. If Romney has campaigned for “omni-directional belligerence,” I don’t see how we can assume that he doesn’t intend at least to try to carry it out on a few issues.

The “secret economic plan” part of this argument is new. It holds that Romney wouldn’t want to jeopardize an economic agenda that may not exist by following through on a foreign policy agenda that does. So we not only have to believe that Romney has a “secret economic plan” for which there is no evidence, but we then have to conclude that this secret economic plan will dictate his equally secret foreign policy. Given the most recent Republican track record on foreign policy, one wouldn’t think that “assume the best” is the right way to make sense of what Romney would do once in office.
(H/T to Andrew)

Romney, GOP Groups are pulling out of MI and PA

This is big news.  The Romney campaign and Cross Roads are pulling out of Michigan and Pennsylvania, after 5 months of big spends with no results.

Remember that Romney has two home states:  Massachusetts, where he never even tried to compete and Michigan, where he has spent big and is now abandoning.  You can't win the presidency without winning your home state.  Ask Al Gore.  Had Gore won Tennessee, Florida would have been irrelevant.

I'm guessing both groups will focus spending on Ohio and Florida. Romney has been even further behind in Ohio than in Michigan, but if they abandon Ohio, they concede the contest and that's not happening.

Romney's lastest ad is a fraud

Romney's latest ad purports to present a former Obama supporter now disillusioned. The problem is that they chose a very well know long time Republican staffer, Bettina Inclan, to the play the roll of disillusioned voter.

Once again, TPM has the scope.
RNC staffer Bettina Inclan pretending to be former Obama supporter
The new ad features Republican National Committee Director of Hispanic Outreach Bettina Inclan, who in the ad purports to be an average woman voter who supported Obama in 2008. She describes her disillusionment with the president in the ad as a romantic relationship gone awry....

Inclan began her current RNC post in January 2012, and has worked in Republican politics since well before Obama’s 2008 election. She did Hispanic outreach for Rick Scott’s 2010 Florida gubernatorial race worked on Capitol Hill for Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) and as national executive director of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly.

“I was never pressured to be a Republican, but I am very much a fiscal conservative,” Inclan told Business Insider in May. “It might be because we were always on a very tight budget growing up. Or maybe my views of the world fall in line with the Republican Party.”
Have you ever seen a more poorly run campaign?  They could have hired an unknown actress and no one would have ever founder her to prove the lie.

Time and again, they get caught manufacturing evidence to not give Obama a second term. Time and again, they are exposed, and yet they don't stop.  I've seen poorly run campaigns in both parties, but nothing like this. 

What does this say about the substance of the Romney campaign?

Bill Clinton's Epic Convention Speech

Last night at the Democratic Convention President Bill Clinton delivered a 49 minute tour de force that was instantly iconic and will be talked about for many years to come.  To believers, it was the political equivalent of a Bruce Springsteen concert: A marathon performance you don't want to end. 

Were undecided voters watching last night?  Who knows, but Bill's star power had to bring in some independent voters out of curiosity, if nothing else.

What we do know is that the entire U.S. political press corps was watching last night, and Bill's speech will make a difference in their coverage.  Complicated issues lend themselves well to lying and no one understands this better than the GOP.  If the response to the lie is complicated, the liar wins simply be forcing the other side to explain why it's a lie.  Paul Ryan  is a perfect example of this kind of lying.  He's been making up "facts" his entire political career.  He probably even believes most of them, and he's certainly gotten away with years of lies because of the ideological cocoon in which he has lived and thrived.  But now, he's on the national stage in a way he's never been before, and that is bringing scrutiny that he has never had to face.  With Bills' explanations, the press understands  Romney's deceptions with a clarity they did not have before and they are going to be tougher on the Romney campaign because of it.   The Romney campaign might even  drop some of the lines of attack. 

This will also lead to tougher coverage of the Obama campaign if for no other reason that to appear balanced.  We've already seen this in a comical AP story this morning that struggles to the point of absurdity to find fault with Bill's speech.

For those who missed it, here is Bill Clinton's address, in it's entirety, to the Democratic National Convention on September 5, 2012.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Monday, September 03, 2012

Paul Ryan Gives Detailed Account of Day He Killed Osama Bin Laden

Follow @Lyin_Ryan on Twitter
The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz has the details,
In a dramatic narrative that could upstage this week’s Democratic National Convention, Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) gave reporters today a detailed account of the fateful day he killed Osama bin Laden.

Mr. Ryan said that he was revealing his role as the triggerman who felled the Al Qaeda leader to “set the record straight,” explaining that he had remained silent about his mission until now, because “I don’t like to brag.” The Republican Vice-Presidential nominee painted a portrait of a Paul Ryan few know, a man who trained for missions with SEAL Team Six while somehow finding time to cut key provisions of Medicare.

The Wisconsin Congressman said he was doing sit-ups in the House of Representatives cloakroom when he got the call to deploy for his mission to Abbottabad, and hours later found himself face to face with the world’s most wanted man.

“Osama got one look at me and he ran like a bat out of hell,” he said. “It’s times like that that I’m glad I can run a hundred meters in 9.58 seconds.”
There's more.

Ryan is a compulsive liar -- seriously, he can't stop lying

I find Paul Ryan's daily glaring lies to be astounding.

Today in Greenville NC Paul Ryan told a crowd,“Last year, under President Obama’s failed leadership, 1.4 million businesses filed for bankruptcy.”

The truth? 43,694 businesses filed bankruptcy in 2011.  1.356 million fewer businesses than Ryan claimed.  Ryan exaggerated the number by 97%.

He's a dirty fucking liar.  What else do you call him?  It's truly shocking.  His lies are endless and his lies are so frequent that the MSM seem to be already bored with the story.

The only explanation I can come up with is that Ryan has come of age inside an ideological world that simply makes up it's own reality -- literally.  They say outrageous lies and no one calls them on it, and so in time, they stop thinking about.  Ryan thinks that if he says 1.4M businesses filed bankruptcy in 2011 than that is true and no one is going to say otherwise.  Except now he's not on the stump in Appleass Wisconsin, he's on a national stage and his lies are getting noticed.

Gallup: Romney's speech worst received in recorded history

In fairness to Mitt, Gallup has only been tracking nominee convention speeches for 16 years.

But in those 16 years, no nominee of either party has given an acceptance speech so poorly received. And this list includes Bob Dole's angry acceptance speech from 1996 and McCain's bizarre speech in front of the green screen version of a middle school.

Romney and the GOP have sold their sole to Billionaire Donors

And good government and clean streams is not what they expect for their money.

I'm late to this article.  Tim Dickinson published an excellent article in Rolling Stone last may outlining the Republican parties billionaire donors and what they want for their money.

There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Presidential politics has always been a rich man's game. But now, thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United that upended decades of limits on campaign donations, financing a presidential race is the exclusive domain of the kind of megadonor whose portfolios make Mitt Romney look middle-class. "I have lots of money, and can give it legally now," Texas billionaire and top GOP moneyman Harold Simmons recently bragged to The Wall Street Journal. "Just never to Democrats"....

The undisputed master of Super PAC money is Mitt Romney. In the primary season alone, Romney's rich friends invested $52 million in his Super PAC, Restore Our Future – a number that's expected to more than double in the coming months. This unprecedented infusion of money from America's monied elites underscores the radical transformation of the Republican Party, which has made defending the interests of 0.0001 percent the basis of its entire platform.... In short, the political polarization and gridlock in Washington are a direct result of the GOP's capitulation to Big Money.

That capitulation is evident in Romney's campaign. Most of the megadonors backing his candidacy are elderly billionaires: Their median age is 66, and their median wealth is $1 billion. Each is looking for a payoff that will benefit his business interests, and they will all profit from Romney's pledge to eliminate inheritance taxes, extend the Bush tax cuts for the superwealthy – and then slash the top tax rate by another 20 percent. Romney has firmly joined the ranks of the economic nutcases who spout the lie of trickle-down economics. "Support from billionaires has always been the main thing keeping those charlatans and cranks in business," [Paul] Krugman noted. "And now the same people effectively own a whole political party."
Dickinson goes on to report on 16 megadonors and what they want for their money. These men are investors who expect a financial return on all their investments.   Mitt Romney is no exception.

Romney's Latino supporters warn fellow Latinos on Immigration

Don't vote for Mitt Romney on the hopes that he will be a secret moderate on immigration.

Congresswoman and Romney supporter Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) disagrees with Romney on his opposition to immigration reform.

Miami Herald columnist Adres Oppenheimer spoke with Rep Ros-Lehtinen on Romney's opposition to immigration reform and she warned fellow Latinos not to assume Romney's mind can be changed on immigration.
In an interview last week, I asked Ros-Lehtinen how can she, as a Hispanic, support Romney’s “horrendous” — my word — stands on immigration.

I was referring to Romney’s opposition to the Dream Act that would grant a path to legal residence to up to 1.8 million students who were brought to this country as infants by their parents and were raised as Americans, or his call for seeking the “self-deportation” of 11 million undocumented immigrants, which many of us fear would amount to making life impossible for all Hispanics regardless of their legal status.

To my surprise, Ros-Lehtinen, a conservative Republican who supports Romney, told me: “I agree with you. I am in a position that is opposite to that of Mitt Romney on immigration, totally. But I think that, in this election, the most important issues will be first the economy, then creating jobs, and third, the economy and creating jobs.”

Asked whether she believes Romney adopted hard-line positions to win over the ultra-conservative wing of his party, and that he will shift to the center if elected president, Ros-Lehtinen said, “Nobody should vote for Mitt Romney thinking that he will change his positions.” She added that nobody should cast a vote for Romney thinking that “he says x, but he will do y.”

“He says he does not support the Dream Act, and I wouldn’t want somebody to vote for Mitt Romney [thinking] that I and Mario Diaz-Balart [R-Miami], and others will make Mitt Romney change his mind. It’s not possible,” she said.

“Mitt Romney says he does not support the Dream Act, and I think he is a person who stands by what he says, and won’t change his mind,” she said.
This sort of thing should be obvious but voters seem endlessly capable of believing that no matter how many times a candidate lays out his position on a given issue, what he will really do is honor that voters unspoken position on the issue.

Romney's bigest liability is,....Romney

Behind the New Yorker paywall, James Surowiecki explains how the Romney campaign is struggling because they have been forced to run on Mitt Romney.
Romney hasn't been able to convince people that the weak economy is Obama's fault. ... [A] majority of voters still blame George W. Bush ... Romney's strategy was predicated on the idea that, as long as he appeared competent, all he had to do to win was be the not-Obama. But the inability to pin the weak economy on Obama has forced Romney to make a case for himself ... And this has proved more difficult than anticipated. Though Romney is arguably the most successful businessman ever to run for President , his career at Bain Capital does not inspire faith in him as a job creator, since private equity has always been more about efficiency and financial engineering than about creating jobs. ...

Romney's specific policies haven't helped him much, either, partly because his economic speeches have been light on detail, and partly because his party's ideology limits the kinds of solutions he can offer ... And, while even a conservative could go after the Federal Reserve for doing too little to boost economic growth, Romney has made exactly the opposite argument. He has said that he would replace Ben Bernanke with someone who would support a 'strong dollar'-which means tighter monetary policy, fewer exports, and fewer jobs. ...

The economy isn't ... enough of a winning issue to allow him to run the kind of successful clarifying campaign that Reagan and Clinton ran. This may help explain why ... Romney and his surrogates have abandoned their single-minded economic focus and begun attacking Obama on issues like welfare reform [and] cuts to Medicare.

Barack Obama and Bill Clinton become friends

Ryan Lizza has a must read in The New Yorker for political junkies.

Bill Clinton has the sharpest political mind of his generation, and probably the sharpest political mind of anyone who was president.  Republicans let ideology prevent them from seeing the obviousness of this statement.  The good news for Obama is that Bill is also a political addict and can't stand to be on the sidelines for national election. 

How Barack Obama and Bill Clinton became friends just in time for the campaign,
The reconciliation began in earnest late last summer. Patrick Gaspard, the former White House political director, who has moved to the Democratic National Committee, approached Douglas Band, Clinton's closest political adviser and longtime gatekeeper, with some suggestions about how the former President might help with Obama's 2012 reelection campaign. Band, who, by reputation, has an acute sense for moments of political advantage, tried to explain that you don't just call up Bill Clinton and tell him to raise money and campaign for you. Band recommended that the two Presidents begin by playing golf.

The next day, Obama phone Clinton and invited him out for a round. Several Clinton associates say that this was the moment they realized that Obama truly wanted to win in 2012. Why else would he spend hours on a golf course being lectured by Clinton?

The Presidential round was played at Andrews Air Force Base on September 24, 2011, and since then Clinton has become a visible and vigorous champion of Obama's reelection. ... Now that Obama has turned the campaign into something of a referendum on Clinton's sterling record on the economy, Clinton can hardly complain. That may be part of Obama's strategy, too. Flattered by the attention, Clinton now has an incentive to work hard for Obama, who seems to have learned how to tame the former president.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

NY AG cracking down on private equity tax scams

The New York Attorney General has issued subpoenas to several private equity firms, including Romney's Bain Capital, investigating strategies used by these firms to avoid hundreds of millions in taxes.

One of the ways private equity firms, including Bain capital, suck the live blood out of firms they aquire is through management fees. The NY AG is investigating whether these firms are illegally converting this management fees to investment income so that they are taxed at 15% as opposed to being taxed as ordinary income -- the way you and I are taxed.

From the New York Times,
Schneiderman’s investigation will intensify scrutiny of an industry already bruised by the campaign season, … Some executives at the firms said they feared that Mr. Schneiderman, a first-term Democrat with ties to the Obama administration, was seeking to embarrass the industry because of Mr. Romney’s roots at Bain. Others suggested that the subpoenas, which were issued by the attorney general’s Taxpayer Protection Bureau, might be part of an effort to recover more revenue for New York under state tax law. … The tax strategy … came to light last month when hundreds of pages of Bain’s internal financial documents were made available online.

Schneiderman, who is also co-chairman of a mortgage fraud task force appointed by Mr. Obama, has made cracking down on large-scale tax evasion a priority of his first term. … Romney continues to receive profits from Bain Capital and has had investments in some of the funds that … used the tax strategy. The campaign issued a statement saying that Mr. Romney did not, however, benefit from the practice. ‘Investing fee income is a common, accepted and totally legal practice,’ said R. Bradford Malt, a lawyer for Mr. Romney who manages his family’s investments and trusts. ‘However, … I can confirm that neither he nor the trust has ever done this, whether before or after he retired from Bain Capital.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Paul Ryan lied about his personal best marathon time?

In a interview last week on Hugh Hewitt's national radio show, Paul Ryan claimed to have run a sub three hour marathon. Runner's World was excited about this news until they discovered it was yet another lie. This is now becoming bizarre.

James Fallows at The Atlantic pulls it all together nicely,
- Now we have the odd fact that last week -- when he was already the VP choice, when everything he said was being watched and recorded, when he knew he was in the national eye -- he said on a national radio show that his best marathon time was under three hours, "I had a two hour and fifty-something." When in fact, thanks to Scott Douglas of Runner's World, it appears that his "personal best" was in fact more than an hour slower, 4:01.* Interestingly, Runner's World seems to have come up with this info not in an effort to expose Ryan but to celebrate his athleticism....We've all exaggerated to make ourselves look better. ...But out of prudent self-protection, most people have a sense of "situational awareness" when it comes to self-burnishment. Somebody you're talking to in a bar, and you're never likely to see again, is in one category. Somebody interviewing you for national broadcast is in another. That is what I'm having a hard time fully understanding.
It was a Ryan spokesman who clarified that Ryan has only run one marathon in his life and confirmed that the time was in excess of 4 hours.

Nick Thompson at The New Yorker is an avid runner and  follows up here, and comes back to consider why Ryan lied.