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Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have lost their main argument against it. So, naturally, they?ve switched arguments?and they are now calling the healthcare mandate the biggest tax hike in the history of the world. It?s not. And people who understand the massive upside of the [...]Related posts:
We beat the odds and made it to Friday! Woot-woot!
Juanita Jean's has something to say in the most polished and professional way to NY State Senator Marty Golden
Manboobs has no patience--none--for people who say "I don't hate women, but?"
The Friendly Atheist finds the upside to the down economy.
Little Bang Theory reminds us that we don't need fireworks in July.
A variety of links to articles/interviews/speeches on current issues that may be of interest.[...]
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The plan to keep Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shielded from the press to prevent him from taking any firm position on a wide range of critical issues and the choice to instead pander with bland talking points to right-wing entertainment outlets like Drudge Report, Brietbart and Fox "News" in the hopes that an outsourcing vulture capitalist could waltz incognito into the White House under the assumed and ill-fitting identity of a compassionate fighter for the middle class has failed.
Who would have thought that trying to run your campaign like a business micro-targeted to two tiny and distinct consumer groups -- tricorne hat purchasers and sports team owners -- would hamper your prospects?
Elites in the GOP base are sounding the fire alarm.
The Associated Press analyzes the general discontent:
A chorus of prominent conservative voices is worrying aloud that Republican candidate Mitt Romney?s play-it-safe strategy is jeopardizing his chance to win the presidency.Brian Montpoli at CBS News:
As President Barack Obama?s campaign intensifies criticism of Romney?s background, influential Republicans ? right-leaning leaders in business and the media ? charge that Romney?s message on the economy and other issues is short on detail and muddled at best.
On Thursday, the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page ripped the Romney campaign for its fumbling of the debate over the health care law signed by President Obama includes a tax.Matt Viser at The Boston Globe:
"This latest mistake is of a piece with the campaign's insular staff and strategy that are slowly squandering an historic opportunity," the Journal wrote. "...Mr. Romney promised Republicans he was the best man to make the case against President Obama, whom they desperately want to defeat. So far Mr. Romney is letting them down."
Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor at the conservative National Review, told CBS News that the criticism and others like it is "reflective of real conservative unease about the Romney campaign strategy, and also about the campaign's at least perceived insularity."
The intraparty dissent has been simmering for several weeks, but the presumptive nominee?s struggle to articulate a response to last week?s Supreme Court ruling on health care inflamed critics. Specifically, the conservatives called on the campaign to start articulating a broader vision for what Romney would do as president, speak about something else besides the economy, and forcefully counter the Obama campaign?s attacks.So now, as Philip Rucker at The Washington Post reports, Romney may be changing course...sort of:
Mitt Romney is planning to fortify his communications and messaging team by adding seasoned operatives, advisers close to the campaign said Thursday, after withering criticism from prominent conservative voices that his insular team has fumbled recent opportunities.No matter how many new communications folks Romney brings on board, it will only mask -- not cure -- the flaw of his candidacy that Eugene Robinson sums up in three sentences:
Romney?s advisers insisted that he would keep his inner circle intact amid growing concerns about the Republican presidential candidate and his campaign. The tempest began with a weekend tweet from media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and burst Thursday onto the pages of his newspaper the Wall Street Journal, as its conservative editorial board opined that Romney?s advisers were ?slowly squandering an historic opportunity? to beat President Obama. [...] One GOP strategist not working for Romney said, ?The campaign needs to show the GOP elite world and the media a lot of competence going forward or this shake-up talk will only get louder and continue.?
There are no plans, however, to alter Romney?s core team of advisers, most of whom have worked for the former Massachusetts governor for years, and campaign officials said it was highly unlikely that Romney would demote or fire any of his senior staffers.
You can conduct byzantine transactions through opaque investment accounts and private corporations in offshore tax havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Or you can credibly run for president at a time of great economic distress.Jonathan Capehart at The Washington Post:
I don?t think you can do both.
Mitt Romney clinched the Republican nomination on May 29. Yet he is still trying to convince conservatives that he is one of them. [...] Romney will accept his party?s nomination for president in Tampa in 55 days. That?s nearly eight weeks to convince conservatives he can be trusted. But at the rate things are going, I?m convinced there?s not enough time in the world to make that happen.The New York Times editorial board:
As he has on so many issues, Mr. Romney caved to Republican conservatives who want him to campaign on the falsehood that the mandate is a vast tax increase on the middle class. The Supreme Court?s decision that the law is constitutional was disastrous to their cause, so they distorted its basic reasoning. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote that the mandate is legal under the Congressional taxing power, which Republicans took a step further, saying the mandate must now be a tax. And not just a tax, but a huge, oppressive tax, one of the largest in history.Paul Krugman at The New York Times:
It is, of course, no such thing.
Two weeks ago, The Washington Post reported that Bain had invested in companies whose specialty was helping other companies move jobs overseas. The Romney campaign went ballistic, demanding ? unsuccessfully ? that The Post retract the report on the basis of an unconvincing ?fact sheet? consisting largely of executive testimonials.
What was more interesting was the campaign?s insistence that The Post had misled readers by failing to distinguish between ?offshoring? ? moving jobs abroad ? and ?outsourcing,? which simply means having an external contractor perform services that could have been performed in-house.
Now, if the Romney campaign really believed in its own alleged free-market principles, it would have defended the right of corporations to do whatever maximizes their profits, even if that means shipping jobs overseas. Instead, however, the campaign effectively conceded that offshoring is bad but insisted that outsourcing is O.K. as long as the contractor is another American firm.
That is, however, a very dubious assertion.
From the July 6 edition of Fox News' The Five:
Pulitzer-prize winning columnist Clarence Page, who earlier this week got in hot water with his bosses at The Chicago Tribune for his appearance at a pro-MEK rally in Paris last month, told TPM on Thursday that his job "is safe for now."
The MEK, an exiled Iranian opposition group, is on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations, but is engaged in a multi-faceted push to be removed from the list. In recent years, the group's supporters have recruited high-profile former lawmakers and officials from both major U.S. political parties to speak at events on the group's behalf in both the U.S. and Europe. Many of these advocates have received thousands of dollars in exchange for their support. On Monday, ProPublica's Justin Elliott reported that Page had received $20,000 and travel expenses for his speech at a large rally in Paris on June 23. Page, who said he had not known beforehand that the event was in support of the MEK, said he planned to return the money, and the Tribune later said it was reviewing the unauthorized speaking engagement.
On Thursday, Page said he was being "given another chance" by the Tribune.
"I have been informed by my editors that my job is safe for now," Page said in an email. "A letter of reprimand will be placed in my personnel file but after some four decades of scandal-free work at the Tribune as a reporter and, since 1984, a columnist, my superiors are properly viewing this incident as an aberration. Essentially I am being given another chance and I am pleased with that. I have submitted my upcoming speeches, paid and unpaid, for approval and I shall continue to do so."
In a subsequent interview with TPM, Page, who said he'd "much rather cover scandals than be in the middle of one," described how he came to speak at the event, and why he decided to return the money. (He said ProPublica called him the morning he returned from vacation, before he had informed his editors about "this potential dust up.") According to Page, the invitation to speak at the event did not come from the MEK directly, but instead from an agent for a group called the Organizing Committee for Convention for Democracy in Iran (OCCDI).
"It was described as an invitation to me and to others who have expressed a desire to defend the Iran community -- or the exile community, rather -- and regime change in Iran," Page said. "That was basically how it was pitched. There was no mention of MEK, just the OCCDI. And I asked my agent to see if we [could] get some more information as to why me, what do they want me to talk about. What angle and all. And they really left it open."
In the past, Page said, he has called for regime change in Iran, but he has never mentioned the MEK in his work. He imagined the event would be like past events he had attended with Cuban-Americans who support regime change in Cuba. Plus, Page said, the other high-profile attendees going to the event and affiliated with the OCCDI impressed him. (Other attendees at the June event included former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, and former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.)
"I Googled up OCCDI... I saw all these names," Page said. "They also did tell me other people who had committed to coming. Rudy Guiliani, etc., etc., etc. You see that list of names and you say -- you know, my reaction was, as my daddy used to say, 'woah, I'm walking in tall cotton now.'"
Page said he knew about the MEK before making the trip, but that he hadn't been aware that earlier this year the Treasury Department sent subpoenas to speaking firms that represent several of the MEK's big backers.
"When I saw the way it was geared, I thought, 'I'm getting into something I really shouldn't be getting into here,'" he said. "Because it was obviously more explicitly political than I had thought before."
The event on June 23 ran for much of the day that Saturday, and Page said he had time to talk to various attendees, including Guiliani and Rendell, plus former State Department and Defense Department staff -- "a lot of brass," he said.
"It's very impressive, it was also surreal," Page said of the event, overall. (The OCCDI has claimed that 100,000 people attended the event. That number could not be independently verified by TPM.)
"I personally compare it to, in my experience, to the build up of support for the Contra movement, the Nicaraguan Contras," Page said. "A lot of the same neocons and others who say, 'no, this is a viable alternative government,' etc. There's that same kind of fervor here."
In Page's opinion, the MEK has done a better job than the Contras did getting more Democrats on their side, but Page described the MEK supporters he met as "predominantly Republican."
Still, Page would not call the rally "partisan," instead saying that it was politically oriented, in that it was "really advancing one particular political movement." Even so, Page said he thinks "the MEK should be dealt with fairly."
Page also compared the MEK to Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress, who remained on a U.S. terrorism watch list until 2008.
"It's harder to get off that list than it should be," Page said. "I still think [the MEK is] going to get off... I didn't say anything [at the event] I didn't believe. It's just that I should have run this past my superiors."
Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that it will order the MEK off the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations if the Department doesn't make a decision to keep or remove the terrorist designation within the next four months.
The MEK disagrees with many of the charges leveled against it by the State Department and critics, and the group says it has renounced violence. (NBC News, meanwhile, has reported that the MEK has been involved in recent attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists.) The MEK's opponents say that the group has little support within Iran itself, where people remember that the group sided with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and some have even described the MEK as a cult-like organization.
There's a lot of bad news brewing and it's not just in Europe. Even the BRICs are showing signs of trouble these days. The big banks in Brazil have just been downgraded, China is slowing down and Russia has the issue of being too reliant on a changing oil economy. Those looking for good news are likely to be disappointed.As the bad news continues to come in, the global banks are likely to...
My religion is very simple.
My religion is kindness.
Born July 6, 1935
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What?s going on in this election is bigger than just a choice between two candidates or between two parties. It?s about two fundamentally different visions of where we go as a country. – President Barack Obama
WHO IS this guy? I can’t believe my ears.
The man who took a bus to Ohio on Thursday was someone we haven’t heard from in a– have we ever heard from this guy? Not lately like this on the economy, that’s for sure, which is why James Carville told Democrats to “panic” back in 2011 and his group sounded the alarm once again back in June and I wrote about it here.
It is elites who are creating a conventional wisdom that an incumbent president must run on his economic performance ? and therefore must convince voters that things are moving in the right direction. They are wrong, and that will fail. [...] They want to know the plans for making things better in a serious way ? not just focused on finishing up the work of the recovery. ? Democracy Corps
Could it be that something has shifted inside Obamaworld, with Carville’s message finally making a dent? I went searching to see if anyone else had noticed to see Josh Marshall had written something similar on the subject, so it clearly isn’t just me.
Pres. Obama’s remarks were completely different from what has been putting everyone to sleep for months on end.
See, I believe in an America where no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, you can make it if you try. (Applause.)
We?ve never been a country that — we’ve never been a country looking for handouts. We?re a nation of strivers and risk-takers and entrepreneurs, workers. (Applause.) But what we ask for is that hard work pays off, that responsibility is rewarded. The idea is if you take responsibility for your life, if you put in the effort, if you do the responsible thing, then you can find a job that pays a living wage, that you can look after your family, that you can buy a home, that you can retire with some dignity and some respect, that you won’t go bankrupt when you get sick — (applause) — that you have that core, middle-class security that built this country, and that you can pass that on to your kids so they can do things that you never even imagined. That’s the essence of America.
And I believe in that basic promise of America because I lived it. That’s my biography. I had grandparents whose service at World War II was rewarded by them having a chance to go to college and buying their first house — because I had a hardworking mother who raised me and my sister right, but also had some help so that we could end up going to the best schools in the country even though we didn’t have a lot of money.
I got involved in politics. I ran for President in 2008, and some of you joined me in 2008 — (applause) — because we believed in that basic bargain that built the largest middle class in history and the strongest economy in the world. And we felt like that basic bargain was slipping away, that hard work wasn?t always rewarded, that being responsible didn’t always get you ahead, that folks who acted irresponsibly sometimes were making out like bandits while ordinary folks were having a tougher and tougher time.
So we came together in that election — Democrats, but also independents and, yes, some Republicans — to restore that basic bargain that built this country. And we knew at the time it wouldn?t be easy. We knew it would take more than one year or one term or maybe even one President. But what we didn?t realize at the time was we were going to be hit by the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes.
And that’s been tough on a lot of folks, including people here in Ohio. It robbed millions of people of their jobs and their homes and their savings. And it pushed the American Dream even further from reach for a lot of people.
But you know what, this crisis has not changed the fundamental character of America. It hasn?t changed the fundamental character of this town, or this state, or this part of the country. We’ve still got people who are working hard. We’ve still got people who are acting responsibly. (Applause.) It hasn’t diminished our belief in those ideals we were fighting for in 2008. (Applause.)
And our mission right now isn?t just to recover from this economic crisis, although that’s job one. Our mission is to give back to America, to Americans all across the country, what’s been lost — that sense of security. Our goal isn?t just to put people back to work tomorrow; it?s also to build for the long haul an economy where hard work pays off — (applause) — an economy where everybody, whether you’re starting a business or punching a clock, has confidence that if you work hard, you will get ahead. That’s what America is about. That’s what Ohio is about. (Applause.) [...]
…and he just kept going.
THE PRESIDENT: What’s holding us back from meeting our challenges — it?s not a lack of ideas, it?s not a lack of solutions. What?s holding us back is we?ve got a stalemate in Washington between these two visions of where the country needs to go. And this election is all about breaking that stalemate. The outcome of this election will determine our economic future not just for the next year or the next two years, but maybe for the next decade or the next two.
And I want everybody to be clear about what this choice is. My opponent and his allies in Congress, they believe prosperity comes from the top down. They believe if we eliminate most regulations and we cut taxes for the wealthy by trillions of dollars, that somehow our whole economy will benefit, and all of you will benefit, and there?s going to be more jobs and better security for everybody. That?s their basic economic plan.
THE PRESIDENT: …The lack of regulation on Wall Street, the kind of thing that they?re prescribing, that?s exactly what allowed people to game the system that caused this whole mess in the first place.
So, no, I don?t think that Mr. Romney?s plan to spend trillions of dollars more on tax cuts for folks who don?t need them and aren?t even asking for them is the right way to grow our economy — (applause) — especially since they want to pay for it by cutting education spending and cutting job training programs and raising middle-class taxes…
[...] Governor Romney?s experience has been in owning companies that were called “pioneers” of outsourcing. That’s not my phrase — “pioneers” of outsourcing. My experience has been in saving the American auto industry. And as long as I?m President, that’s what I’m going to be doing — waking up every single day thinking about how we can create more jobs for your families and more security for your communities. (Applause.)
That?s why my administration brought trade cases against China at a faster pace than the previous administration — and we?ve won those cases. Just this morning, my administration took a new action to hold China accountable for unfair trade practices that harm American automakers. (Applause.)
And let me tell you something. Americans aren?t afraid to compete. We believe in competition. I believe in trade. And I know this: Americans and American workers build better products than anybody else — (applause) — so as long as we’re competing on a fair playing field instead of an unfair playing field, we’ll do just fine. But we’re going to make sure that competition is fair. That’s what I believe. That’s part of our vision for America.
It’s a start in the right direction, at least as campaign rhetoric goes and beats the message that hasn’t been working so far.