A ton of attention is being devoted to the Romney campaign's bodaciously dshonest ads in critical Ohio, notably his mendacious advertising about Jeep leaving Ohio for China.
But what if they're right? What if, with enough money and enough lies, the Romney campaign can fool enough of the people enough of the time?
I'm already profoundly disconsolate that a tax-evading multi-millionaire who pays a lower income tax rate than I do has said directly and unequivocally on national television that he favors an end to taxation on unearned income — dividends and interest. Third-generation Waltons and fifth-generation Rockfellers, in Romneyworld, would pay NO income tax on monumental income from inherited wealth, much of it paid on appreciated assets like stock in Walmart on which no taxes have ever been paid. Estate taxes would end, too.
"Tax work, not wealth" was the snarky joke punchline of the Billionaires for Bush, a street theater parody troupe from the bad old days. Satire is now official Republican policy. And it is so unremarkable that it passes almost without comment. Of course Republicans want to end taxes on everybody but the poor and middle class moochers.
AND GO AHEAD AND MAKE THIS THE OPEN LINE, IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY
NEWS UPDATE: West Memphis judge has ruled that physical evidence isn't subject to the Freedom of Information Act in considering a case from parents of children slain in West Memphis who want to see the evidence in the closed case. No word yet if an appeal will be filed.
Mitt Romney is doing a Hurricane Sandy flipperoo today. His campaign is saying he didn't propose to abolish the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
But that sure sounds like what he was suggesting on national television, during a debate. Do direct quotes and a film clip count? From Huffington Post:
During a CNN debate at the height of the GOP primary, Mitt Romney was asked, in the context of the Joplin disaster and FEMA's cash crunch, whether the agency should be shuttered so that states can individually take over responsibility for disaster response.
"Absolutely," he said. "Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that's even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?"
"Including disaster relief, though?" debate moderator John King asked Romney.
"We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids," Romney replied. "It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we'll all be dead and gone before it's paid off. It makes no sense at all."
Check back tomorrow for a new Romney position.
Paul Krugman writes on the devastation that Mitt Romney will bring to Medicaid if elected.
Arkansas Republican advertising is trying to blunt this clear outcome by talking about attacking waste and being smarter with dollars. This is sheer nonsensical trivia against the sums involved. Voucherizing Medicaid to the states — after stopping the planned Medicaid expansion of the Obama administration — will require enormous cuts in poor states like Arkansas that receive huge benefits from Medicaid.
And, contrary to what Republicans want you to believe — that Medicaid is nothing but a program for a bunch of 47 percenter parasites — these cuts will deprive health care to children of working families (destruction of Mike Huckabee's great achievement) and end nursing home care for tens of thousands of parents of working Arkansans who'll suddenly find themselves the new caretakers of infirm relatives. Any Republican who tells you otherwise is not telling the truth. Krugman:
So, about coverage: most Medicaid beneficiaries are indeed relatively young (because older people are covered by Medicare) and relatively poor (because eligibility for Medicaid, unlike Medicare, is determined by need). But more than nine million Americans benefit from both Medicare and Medicaid, and elderly or disabled beneficiaries account for the majority of Medicaid’s costs. And contrary to what you may have heard, the great majority of Medicaid beneficiaries are in working families.
For those who get coverage through the program, Medicaid is a much-needed form of financial aid. It is also, quite literally, a lifesaver. Mr. Romney has said that a lack of health insurance doesn’t kill people in America; oh yes, it does, and states that expand Medicaid coverage show striking drops in mortality.
So Medicaid does a vast amount of good. But at what cost? There’s a widespread perception, gleefully fed by right-wing politicians and propagandists, that Medicaid has “runaway” costs. But the truth is just the opposite. While costs grew rapidly in 2009-10, as a depressed economy made more Americans eligible for the program, the longer-term reality is that Medicaid is significantly better at controlling costs than the rest of our health care system.
Ernie Dumas explained this in detail on the Arkansas level this week.
Medicaid, which serves 800,000 Arkansans and affects that many more family members, faces two big questions when the legislature gathers: (1) Can the state make up a $350 million to $400 million shortfall in state Medicaid match? (2) What will happen when Republicans block the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which carries some relief for the state's Medicaid crisis as well as insurance for the largest share of the state's uninsured?
Because the state has fared a little better than much of the country since 2006, lowering its poverty rate against the country as a whole, its matching share for Medicaid has risen from 25 to about 30 percent, but only theoretically. President Obama's stimulus act pumped $750 million into the state's coffers for Medicaid from 2009 through 2011, reducing the state's match to 20 percent. It produced state budget surpluses and let the state's Medicaid trust fund grow for two years. Now the trust fund is vanishing and the state will enter the 2013 fiscal year next July needing an extra $350 million or more to maintain nursing home care, the institutions and community services for disabled children and adults and hospital and physician care for low-income children.
The teabaggers vow to end this socialism. The human cost will be staggering against the dollars "saved."
A new wrinkle of corporate personhood, thanks to the Republican Supreme Court bloc's Citizens United decision, is this, as reported in the New York Times:
Until 2010, federal law barred companies from using corporate money to endorse and campaign for political candidates — and that included urging employees to support specific politicians.
But the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has freed companies from those restrictions, and now several major companies, including Georgia-Pacific and Cintas, have sent letters or information packets to their employees suggesting — and sometimes explicitly recommending — how they should vote this fall.
What about it Arkansas? Are you getting electioneering at work? Threats of job loss? We know the Koch Brothers have already been at it here in Crossett and elsewhere.
Dave Robertson, the president of Koch Industries, sent an information packet and letter this month to more than 30,000 employees of a subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific, a paper and pulp company. The letter attacked government subsidies for “a few favored cronies” as well as “unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses.”
The letter added, “Many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation and other ills.”
The Georgia-Pacific letter, first reported by In These Times, included a flier listing several candidates endorsed by the Koch brothers, the conservative billionaires, beginning with Mitt Romney, as well as opinion articles that the brothers had written.
Anybody else? I'd love to see any memos, e-mails, flyers, etc., you might have received. I'll protect your identity. The corporate politicking is, of course, intended to have a chilling effect, if not on votes themselves, on speech about the election.
The article mentions that the National Federation of Independent Business, a Republican front group, is also helping get the word out to businesses on influencing employees. If you're an Arkansas member, you can get your voter guide here.
Which reminds me, while watching TV last night, I saw that Arkansas NFIB Director Sylvester Smith, a former Huckabee staff member and still part-time media consultant to the former governor, now is host of a public affairs program on AETN. There's a public TV program even the DOG editorial page could love.
The choice is clear. The Romney-Ryan ticket represents a constricted and backward-looking vision of America: the privatization of the public good. In contrast, the sort of public investment championed by Obama—and exemplified by both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Care Act—takes to heart the old civil-rights motto “Lifting as we climb.” That effort cannot, by itself, reverse the rise of inequality that has been under way for at least three decades. But we’ve already seen the future that Romney represents, and it doesn’t work.
The reëlection of Barack Obama is a matter of great urgency. Not only are we in broad agreement with his policy directions; we also see in him what is absent in Mitt Romney—a first-rate political temperament and a deep sense of fairness and integrity. A two-term Obama Administration will leave an enduringly positive imprint on political life. It will bolster the ideal of good governance and a social vision that tempers individualism with a concern for community.
Every Presidential election involves a contest over the idea of America. Obama’s America—one that progresses, however falteringly, toward social justice, tolerance, and equality—represents the future that this country deserves.
* PUBLIC POLICY POLLING: Obama won 53-42.
* CNN: Obama won 48-40.
* CBS: "Decisive" win for Obama, CBS says, and this one is significant in that it theoretically tests only uncommitted voters. Obama won 53-23, with others putting it at a tie.
ALSO: Nate Silver says Obama unlikely to get big debate bounce, but even a small one would be important.
If Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, were to win next month’s election, the harm to women’s reproductive rights would extend far beyond the borders of the United States.
In this country, they would support the recriminalization of abortion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and they would limit access to contraception and other services. But they have also promised to promote policies abroad that would affect millions of women in the world’s poorest countries, where lack of access to contraception, prenatal care and competent help at childbirth often results in serious illness and thousands of deaths yearly. And the wreckage would begin on Day 1 of a Romney administration.
Mr. Romney has pledged that, on his first day in the White House, he would reinstate the “global gag rule,” the odious restriction that has been used to deny federal money for family-planning work abroad to any organization that provided information, advice, referrals or services for legal abortion or supported the legalization of abortion, even using its own money.
Merely talking about abortion could cost groups not only federal money, but also useful technical support and American-donated supplies of contraceptives, including condoms for distribution in the communities they serve.
There's more. It is worth noting, to the extent possible, a Republican legislative majority in Arkansas would do every bit of the same sorts of things in Arkansas. Refusal of expanded Medicaid — which in turn would mean a drastic reduction in the existing Medicaid program and likely a reduction in the current health coverage for children (Mike Huckabee's great positive legacy, now in grave danger) — will be every bit as damaging and anti-woman and anti-mother. Among many others, Jason Rapert, if elected, will be back with his mandatory ultrasound bill for women seeking abortions. Health professionals have said it would require mandatory transvaginal probes in the earliest stages of pregnancy. Spread 'em, ladies.
Even Republican-friendly Larry Sabato, political quotomatic, says the latest Gallup poll with a 7-point Romney lead is an outlier.
Ezra Klein digs into it a little bit. It might be that in the popular vote Romney REALLY IS ahead 7 points among likely voters. That doesn't mean an electoral college win, however. You know it. It's on account of a crazy huge margin in the South, where none dare speak the name of race in evaluating the difference. Unfortunately, the wash-off down the ballot is going to put that crowd in charge, with all the baggage that entails. Writes Klein:
I think it’s fair to say that the election is, for the moment, close.
But not according to Gallup. Their seven-day tracking poll shows Romney up by seven points — yes, seven — with likely voters. But he’s only up by one point with registered voters.
It gets weirder: Dig into the poll, and you’ll find that in the most recent internals they’ve put on their Web site — which track from 10/9-10/15 — Obama is winning the West (+6), the East (+4), and the Midwest (+4). The only region he’s losing is the South. But he’s losing the South, among likely voters, by 22 points. That’s enough, in Gallup’s poll, for him to be behind in the national vote. But it’s hard to see how that puts him behind in the electoral college.
UPDATE: Nate Silver Twitter comment at 10:30 a.m.
National polls published in past 24 hours: Obama +3.2, Obama +3, Obama +3, Obama +1, Obama +0.6, Obama +0.5, TIE, Romney +7.
Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight gives a good analysis of swings in poll numbers, post-debate bounce and the like.
It seems safe, if obvious, to conclude that the electorate is almost evenly split. Also: A popular vote win powered by overwhelming Obama hatred in Dixie doesn't necessarily mean an electoral vote win.
Despite what the headline writer at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette might seem to indicate, polls of undecided voters and comment from all but the blindest Republican partisans indicate that President Barack Obama won Tuesday's night presidential debate. The margin was not as decisive as Mitt Romney's triumph in Round One but it was a triumph all the same.
Debate odds and ends:
Another complication is that it is possible — although by no means guaranteed — that there will be some reversion to the mean because of the first presidential debate, meaning that Mr. Obama will benefit from memories of Denver fading as much as any new ones that were forged in New York.
But if you want my best guess: Throughout this election cycle, you would have done very well by predicting that the polls would eventually settle in at an overall lead for Mr. Obama of about two percentage points. Whenever his lead has been larger than that, it has come back to earth. But Mr. Obama has also rebounded at moments when the polls seemed to suggest an even closer race.
* WHICH ROMNEY DO YOU BELIEVE?: Mitt Romney tried again last night, as the president pasted him on women's issues, notably Romney's failure to endorse the Ledbetter Equal Pay Act, to paint himself as a moderate on contraception. He's all for it, as long as women's insurance doesn't pay for it. With the anti-abortion Republican base demanding utter devotion to its no-abortion, no-birth control dictates, Romney is now trying to disinegenuously identify himself in advertising as somewhat moderate on the issue, even as his campaign is assuring the radicals that he's with them.
* ROMNEY: WRONG ON BENGHAZI: Republican apologists, unbelievably, are trying to defend Romney's meltdown on the question of what the president said the day after the attack on the Libyan
consulate mission in Benghazi. In Fox Land, plain language doesn't mean what it says. Romney was simply and completely wrong about what the president said in the Rose Garden, whatever continuing confusion existed about the nature of the attack. The president's words:
‘‘No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. ... We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.’’
* WOMEN IN BINDERS: Romney's remark about women "in binders," a reference to his supposed effort to recruit women for jobs in Massachusetts when he was governor was another Romney lie. The Boston Phoenix explains:
What actually happened was that in 2002 — prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration — a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.
I have written about this before, in various contexts; tonight I've checked with several people directly involved in the MassGAP effort who confirm that this history as I've just presented it is correct — and that Romney's claim tonight, that he asked for such a study, is false.
I will write more about this later, but for tonight let me just make a few quick additional points. First of all, according to MassGAP and MWPC, Romney did appoint 14 women out of his first 33 senior-level appointments, which is a reasonably impressive 42 percent. However, as I have reported before, those were almost all to head departments and agencies that he didn't care about — and in some cases, that he quite specifically wanted to not really do anything. None of the senior positions Romney cared about — budget, business development, etc. — went to women.
Secondly, a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office.)
Third, note that in Romney's story as he tells it, this man who had led and consulted for businesses for 25 years didn't know any qualified women, or know where to find any qualified women. So what does that say?
Things have come a long way from the uncomfortable 2008 campaign, the article notes.
Today, Hillary Clinton is the most popular member of Obama’s Cabinet, and her husband is not only his greatest but most tireless political ally. This past September 11, the Y-chromosome Clinton was in Miami, ripping Mitt Romney a new one over Medicare. Since then, Clinton has campaigned for Obama in New Hampshire and Nevada, raised money for him in Boston and with him in Los Angeles—and there is more to come. A TV ad with Clinton making the case for Obama’s reelection has run 16,000 times in swing states across the country. Another, featuring a clip of Clinton’s address at the Democratic convention, almost gives the impression that he is Obama’s running mate. Then there is that speech itself, which another top Obama adviser tells me flatly is “the most important moment of the campaign so far.”
The Barack-and-Bill double act on display this fall marks a new and intriguing phase in a psychological entanglement so rich that if Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were alive, they would surely be squabbling over it instead of Sabina Spielrein’s hysteria. No one close to Obama or Clinton even bothers with the pretense that there is any real affection between them. But most concur with the assessment of a Democratic operative with tentacles deep in both worlds: that “the relationship today is totally transactional—and highly functional.”
What Obama stands to gain from the transaction is plain enough to see. The support of the political figure with the highest approval rating, 69 percent, of any in America. The suasive services of a surrogate who can talk the owls down from the trees. The imprimatur of a former president associated with a period of broad and deep prosperity, imbued with unparalleled credibility on matters economic, and possessing special traction with the white working- and middle-class voters whom Obama has always had a hard time reaching. What Obama stands to gain, in other words, is a healthy boost in his quest for reelection—one all the more invaluable in the wake of his dismal performance in the first debate.
Can we get real for a minute and talk about facts rather than style points?
From Talking Points Memo, quoting Jonathan Chait:
Let’s first imagine that, on January 20, Romney takes the oath of office. Of the many secret post-victory plans floating around in the inner circles of the campaigns, the least secret is Romney’s intention to implement Paul Ryan’s budget. The Ryan budget has come to be almost synonymous with the Republican Party agenda, and Romney has embraced it with only slight variations. It would repeal Obamacare, cut income-tax rates, turn Medicare for people under 55 years old into subsidized private insurance, increase defense spending, and cut domestic spending, with especially large cuts for Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs targeted to the very poor. Few voters understand just how rapidly Romney could achieve this, rewriting the American social compact in one swift stroke.
Oh, and seniors. Please note a new study from Kaiser says the Romney Medicare plan will likely increase seniors' premiums.
Oh, and does it matter to you that Romney has been lying about his tax plan — how he can reduce taxes without reducing revenue and without making the middle class pay for the additional sop for the wealthy? Of course not. It's style that's important, not substance. Don't interrupt the lying liars with reality-based comment.
The Republican Party, fearful of a Ralph Nader effect, are working to keep Libertarian Gary Johnson off the ballot. The GOP moves ever more inexorably to a world in which only their kind of people can either run for office or vote.
The Republican Party, with little else with which to work and preferring not to answer questions about its tax/budget/safety net destruction plans, is working hard to make death of Americans in Libya and State Department security in general a defining campaign issue. It's a fair topic. But it doesn't readily reduce itself to yes/no, right/wrong answers, the sort of which the Republican Party is so fond of declaring.
Good illustration of that this morning in the New York Times.
Lost amid the election-year wrangling over the militants’ attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya, is a complex back story involving growing regional resentment against heavily armed American private security contractors, increased demands on State Department resources and mounting frustration among diplomats over ever-tighter protections that they say make it more difficult to do their jobs.
Add to this sovereignty of the nations that open doors to our embassies. We are not free to place unlimited numbers of troops, even if we could afford security worthy of, say, a U.S. airport.
We also have multiple locations in volatile countries. In Libya, for example, the requests for additional security focused mostly on Tripoli, not the Benghazi diplomatic compound 400 miles away where Americans were killed.
While it is unclear what impact a handful of highly trained additional guards might have had in Benghazi were they able to deploy there, some State Department officials said it would probably not have made any difference in blunting the Sept. 11 assault from several dozen heavily armed militants.
“An attack of that kind of lethality, we’re never going to have enough guns,” Patrick F. Kennedy, under secretary of state for management, said at Wednesday’s hearing. “We are not an armed camp ready to fight it out.”
A senior administration official said that the military team, which was authorized by a directive from Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, was never intended to have an open-ended or Libya-wide mission.
“This was not a SWAT team with a DC-3 on alert to jet them off to other cities in Libya to respond to security issues,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter.
Let the investigations continue. Does the U.S. provide enough security? How much security can it provide, both in terms of host countries' sovereignty and cost? What does creation of an armed camp signal host citizens? How high up the chain of command must staffing at the hundreds of U.S. installations worldwide be considered — mid-level State Department, secretary of state, vice president, White House?
The conclusion might be that the Libyan deaths resulted from clear shortcomings in threat assessment and staffing. Or it might be more complicated. Facts don't matter here to Republicans any more than they ever do. They have already decided that whatever the U.S. did abroad must be wrong and must be criticized — instantly, even, in the fog of confusion hours after a lethal attack in a country in turmoil. Our country — wrong or wrong. (If a Republican had been president, it would have been traitorous to do or say anything that wasn't construed as rallying around our leader and the flag.)
Please note that House Republicans, led by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, have pushed for cuts in embassy security spending to pay for their tax cuts for the wealthy.
I was among the small but devoted following of "Friday Night Lights," the TV series that captured Texas high school football culture and lifestyle about as well as anything I've ever seen. (It also introduced me to lovely Connie Britton, now starring in "Nashville.")
So I was dismayed when I read and heard Republican Mitt Romney had cadged Coach Eric Taylor's motto for the fictional Dillon Panthers — clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose — for campaign purposes. Smash, Landry, Matt, Julie, Riggins or Tyra on Romney's team? Not likely.
I was not so dismayed as Peter Berg, creator of the TV series.
Peter Berg, the creator of the TV series "Friday Night Lights," sent Mitt Romney a letter on Friday expressing his displeasure with the Republican presidential candidate for co-opting the show's slogan, "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose."
"Your politics and campaign are clearly not aligned with the themes we portrayed in our series," Berg wrote to Romney. "The only relevant comparison that I see between your campaign and 'Friday Night Lights' is the character of Buddy Garrity — who turned his back on American car manufactures selling imported cars from Japan."
crypto, and you think the alternative is better? And not voting is a vote for…
. Insanity is believing your hallucinations are real. Religion is believing that other peoples' hallucinations…
Instead of developing a project in the middle of Little Rock that could have been…
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