Ralph Reed baits the trap for Mitt Romney with a Washington Post opinion piece in which he warns Mittens he has to channel Little Ricky Santorum to win. (He does very little to address the point that Little Ricky himself couldn't win, but whatever.) It's pretty clear that he's trying to get some cash out of the Romney campaign to do his manipulative thing:
Santorum has been denounced as a sore loser, a religious extremist, a crank. MSNBC host Martin Bashir referred to him as a theocratic version of Stalin. One columnist alleged in the Daily Beast that Santorum would use the power of the presidency to impose ?his ideal of a Christian America? on the nation. The New Yorker compared him to Islamic extremists who seek to execute their opponents, adding that we need separation of church and state so that ?Santorum and his party can?t impose dominion of one narrow, sectarian, Bible-based idea of the public good.?
But Santorum and his supporters may have the last laugh. From John C. Fremont to William Jennings Bryan in the 19th century to Barry Goldwater, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern and Ronald Reagan in our time, losing presidential candidates have previewed the ideological trajectory of their parties ? and often of the nation.
Romney would be wise to remember this in his general-election campaign. Of course he can?t neglect independents, or women, or Hispanics, or other nontraditional Republican constituencies. But his immediate task is to consolidate conservative support and unify the party. The best way to do that is to appropriate the best parts of Santorum?s message.
I wonder who would be best suited to help Mittens do that? Hmm, let me think a minute. Oh yeah, the most weaselly unindicted Abramoff co-conspirator of them all!
Reed has been renting out his services to various Republicans for a while. His specialty? Riling up the fundie base to get the troops out there and vote against whichever Godless heathen the Democrats are running, just on general principles. (Would it be rude to point out that Ralphie couldn't get his own self elected to the Georgia state legislature?)
So if Mittens wants to play that same old game, I'm sure Ralph is just the right man. Assuming Jack Abramoff doesn't decide to give a tell-all interview, that is.
The TheoCons have hauled out their cannons to fire warning shots at Mitt Romney. Ralph Reed, Richard Land, Tony Perkins, and a host of others are all pointing to Teh Awesome Power of the Religious Right, and warning Romney not to ignore them or tick them[...]
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I am so excited to announce to you Americans United's fun, new outreach project!
On September 28-29, 2012, we are planning to raise awareness and funds during a weekend of country-wide benefit events under the rubric Voices United for Separation of Church and State. Friday, September 28, we will hold house or club concerts, at least one in every state, to introduce musicians who share our progressive values to new audiences. We are planning several major concerts in different cities on Saturday, September 29: each to feature a main presenter, well-known opening acts, and a young performer who is just starting to mix her/his politics with music.
Since the founding of America, singers, songwriters and performers have been a powerful force for social justice. Through wars, strikes, natural disasters, depression and political campaigns, this unique American voice has a proud tradition of empowering the disenfranchised, aiding the suffering and moving our society closer to the place where we want it to be. It would be hard to think of the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war effort or the vibrant pursuit of women?s equality without recalling the music that played ? and continues to play ? such an important role.
As you well know, social justice is the work that Americans United is all about. And we are asking you to step up once again, as supporters of church-state separation, and join us in a time when so much of what we all love about America is in peril.
We need your help.
We have enlisted the assistance of musician/producer, John Jennings, and singer/songwriter, Catie Curtis, to help produce the concerts, but this is truly a grassroots venture and we need you! Here are some things you can do to make Voices United a success:
Of course it’s popular.
In asking the question, Gallup did not actually use the term “Buffett Rule.” Here’s how the question was asked: “Would you favor or oppose Congress passing a new law that would require households earning $1 million a year or more to pay a minimum of 30 percent of their income in taxes?”
That conforms to the way President Obama has been describing the proposal, though the version of the bill set for a Senate vote on Monday is slightly more complicated. It would mandate that income above $2 million would be taxed at least at a 30 percent rate, with a graduated boost in the minimum marginal rates for income between $1 million and $2 million. The GOP-led House is not expected to take up the bill, and it is thus not expected to become law.
What needs to happen is repealing all of the Bush tax cuts across the board, while raising taxes on the top 2%, and lifting the cap on income that could be taxed for Social Security. Consider that a little Harry Truman truth from a liberal not supporting or campaigning for either candidate.
Republicans don’t want to tax the wealthy, even if the Buffet Rule is only expected to produce $47 billion in ten years and is only a beginning of what’s needed. Who can blame voters for siding with Pres. Obama and the Democrats over it?
While partisans bend over backwards to GOTV, the election will be decided by nonpartisans who get a gut feeling about Obama and Romney, with their own pet policy or prejudice weighing the scale down, and then will vote on emotion. The rest will be about whether the race to the bottom on all sides will depress turnout, because the negative ads just sicken everyone to the point of checking out. Young, single, nonpartisan women are particular impacted by ads and pitches that they feel sound biased.
Raising taxes on the wealthiest has been popular for years. It’s just Barack Obama wouldn’t do it without Buffet as his beard, which is meant as a hit on Romney.
Politically, however, it’s the perfect move.
It comes at the same time the New York Times reports the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will not “put up a fight” over credit card fees, which provides the perfect political bookend. Obama giveth and he taketh away.
The agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, introduced a proposal that would make it easier for credit card issuers to charge fees before borrowers? accounts were officially open.
The Buffet Rule, meant to be seen as the Romney Rule, has been Pres. Obama’s pitch line all week and good for him. It’s about time. But then it’s time for reelection, so of course he’s in fighting mode. Self-preservation does that to politicians.
Who doesn’t remember the lack of economic message during Obama’s entire first term? Until he went populist in Kansas hoping to wake up the base, he was absent on the economy. Obama’s message malaise of the 2010 midterms and the shellacking led him to sign the extension of the Bush tax cuts, adding to an uninspiring economic message from the Democrats.
I also wonder what might have happened if Pres. Obama would have put his bully pulpit behind empowering judges to help homeowners against foreclosure attacks. Eliot Spitzer interviewed Paul Kiel of Propublica on this story this week. Kiel’s incredible reporting on the foreclosure crisis will either make you mad or break your heart, maybe both.
The industry developed tactics of dubious legality ? not just robo-signing, which most Americans have heard of by now, but an array of business practices, some dating to the 1990s, that were designed to skirt the law and fatten profits. The federal and state governments largely tolerated these practices until they pushed Ramos into a tent and all of us into the Great Recession.
Even then, the federal government, facing an electorate bitterly divided over how and even whether to help “irresponsible” homeowners, responded in ways that proved ineffective. To be sure, the government’s efforts were unprecedented, as Obama administration officials have repeatedly insisted. But those efforts were also halfhearted. Only recently, after the banks admitted to widespread law-breaking, did the government launch a response that might prove commensurate with the calamity.
This grandmother’s story ? outrageous and complex ? is our story, the American foreclosure story.
Pres. Obama and his administration deserve a lot of credit for saving this country from true financial calamity. Considering what could have happened, when you look at your average voter peering in at both candidates, it’s hard to blame anyone for thinking Obama did more than Romney would have, because he was against bailing out GM. Mitt Romney’s austerity mindset would be a killer for our economy, the poor and the middle class. (We haven’t even gotten to foreign policy and the gulf between Obama and Romney on the details, which we’ll discuss at another time.) What Obama did for the car industry, complete with feel good ending, is an American success story. The contraceptive mandate for women showed the man has a pulse on what’s important to we girls, though coming after the Stupak Amendment and his cave on Plan B, he owed us, even if it was all about shoring up the women’s vote. How the Republicans explain their opposition to the Ledbetter Act and the fair pay issue, I have no idea. Again, to average voters this makes no sense.
However, the looming possibility of a grand bargain on entitlements, Obama’s deficit talk and tepidness on progressive economics through a rightward leaning economic conservatism has led our country further right and it didn’t have to happen. Considering Barack Obama is a self-described Blue Dog Democrat, which I’ve been writing since 2007, though in different language, no one who’s been reading around here should be surprised.
It’s why for many people who care less about rabid partisanship, most of America, the Obama vs. Romney contest is not one of vast differences. It’s why Obama reelect using the Buffet (Romney) Rule to frame the election could be effective to frame things early, though something in the wider world always knocks our elections for a loop and this year won’t be any different. The Buffet (Romney) Rule sets the candidates in different camps, as does the contraceptive mandate for women, though that is not an issue on which many people will pin their vote. The economy is.
The American foreclosure story further illustrates the paucity of political courage in the face of great need that reveals efforts from our leaders that always resound toward what’s good for the political future of Pres. Obama or Mitt Romney, seen through his never ending pandering, over what’s actually required or needed, even if by doing your job or proposing policies that actually work, it costs you your job.
It’s always about them, the politician and their own self-preservation, election or reelection. They preen that it’s about you, but there’s been no evidence from either Obama or Romney that they’d be willing to put themselves on the line for something they believe in. This cowardice is the cancer on American politics, which money metastasizes.
So, at this point, the only character that needs casting is Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate. To properly fill out the roster, even though I believe Chris Christie would be Romney’s best call, I can’t help but sense the moment is ripe for Paul Ryan. A Romney-Ryan ticket would send the perfect Republican message and set up November just right.
Syrian forces shelled two central districts in the battered city of Homs throughout the night and into Saturday morning, a resident activist and a human rights group said, the first bombings since a ceasefire took hold on Thursday.
"There was shelling last night in the old part of the city, in Jouret al-Shiyah and al-Qaradis. And I have heard eight shells fall in the past hour," Karm Abu Rabea, a resident activist who lives in an adjacent neighbourhood, said on Saturday morning.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said shelling had wounded several people overnight.
(S)ome guy whose name I didn't catch gave an astonishingly simple-minded lecture on the history of American radicalism since the populists...."And then in the 50s, we had the civil right movement..." the guy droned."Uh, I think we should conclude the[...]
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Former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin says that comments made by a CNN Democratic pundit about Ann Romney will inspire "mama grizzlies" to stand up against "the divisiveness that is President Obama."
During an interview with Fox New host Sean Hannity on Thursday, Palin declared that Hillary Rosen's claim that Ann Romney had ?never worked a day in her life" was just another example of "class warfare" on the part of Democrats.
"The comments that Hillary Rosen made today certainly have awakened many mama grizzlies across the nation," the former Alaska governor asserted. "And I know that because I got a lot of emails today ? a lot of text messages from apolitical girlfriends, some who have chosen to stay home over the years."
"The message seems to be that why is it that some on the left choose to divide, to incite with comments with comments like that instead of just respecting women's choices and what they want to do with the gifts that God has given them, how they want to contribute," she added.
President Barack Obama on Thursday spoke out in Ann Romney's defense by calling Rosen's comments "the wrong thing to say."
But Hannity wondered why the president had never called Palin to apologize after HBO comedian Bill Maher, who has contributed to a pro-Obama super PAC, used offensive language to describe the former governor.
"[Obama] is confronted with a quandary and a moral dilemma, and that dilemma is Bill Maher who called you very offensive names, attacked your family and children, attacked Rick Santorum's children," Hannity explained. "He donates a million dollars to the president. Now, they don't return the money. Have you ever received a phone call? Has your daughter ever received a phone call from the president?"
"Never received a phone call," Palin replied. "But I think, again, that's more of the same, of the inconsistencies, the double standards, the divisiveness that is kind of represented by President Obama and the people that he surrounds himself with."
"So, we don't look for our president to speak for us," she said. "We will be silent no more on an issue like this. Really it is, as I say, a sad commentary though on this attempt to invalidate a woman for the choices that she's making when really we should be unified. All women should be standing up for each other when you consider what's going on in this country. All women and all races and all ages, we are all suffering under Obama's economy."
"I thought liberals were pro-choice," Hannity quipped. "So you got to make their choice?"
"Here's the hypocrisy: They are not for women's choices and equality and respecting a woman's personal values or choices she wants to make unless it has to do with that woman embracing their radical left agenda," Palin concluded.
by Kaid Benfield, via NRDC’s Switchboard
We expect forward-looking sustainability planning from places like Portland, Vancouver and Copenhagen. Los Angeles? Not so much. Southern California is a region much better known for environmental problems than solutions, which is precisely why its new, 25-year Sustainable Communities Strategy, adopted unanimously last week by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), is so significant.
SCAG is the nation’s largest metropolitan planning organization, representing six counties: Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura and Imperial. Its planning area covers an astounding 38,000 square miles, including 191 cities and more than 18 million residents. If southern California were a state, it would be the 5th most populous in the nation. If it were a country, it would have the world?s 16th largest economy.
In an area renowned for clogged freeways and sprawl, the region?s sustainability challenges are immense. Riverside-San Bernadino, for example, claimed the number one spot as the nation?s most sprawling metro area in Smart Growth America?s definitive 2002 study, Measuring Sprawl and its Impact. In a separate index, the southern California area was identified by the Brookings Institution (using 2006 data) as having the nation?s highest rate of driving per person. The transportation analysis firm INRIX, which issues an annual ?National Traffic Scorecard,? ranks the region as also having the nation?s worst traffic congestion, based on sophisticated measurements of travel delays. Indeed, five of the nation?s ten most congested freeway corridors, INRIX reports, are located in Southern California.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the region?s air quality is notorious: it is the worst in the country for pollution by ozone smog, which can impair breathing function, according to the American Lung Association. It is the second worst for particle pollution, which causes heart and lung disease and premature death. In addition, two southern California counties ? Los Angeles and Orange ? are among the nation?s 20 riskiest for developing cancer from breathing toxic air pollution, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The region is fifth worst for per capita carbon emissions from transportation (though its mild climate and resulting low residential energy demands help keep overall emissions relatively low).
While the environmental facts are daunting, the good news is that the region is doing something about it.
Last week, after years of preparation, SCAG adopted its first-ever Sustainable Communities Strategy. The new plan is impressive, relying on increased investment in public transit and more walkable, transit-accessible land use patterns to reduce pollution while conserving farmland and natural areas. Indeed, the strategy has been hailed by my California-based colleague (and NRDC?s deputy director for sustainable communities) Amanda Eaken as a ?roadmap to cleaner air and a healthier economy? for the region?s residents and visitors. These are some of its highlights:
For all the details, go here.
Amanda?s blog entry quotes Jane Warner, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California, as calling the new plan ?the best prescription for improving the health of all Southern California residents.? That?s a pretty significant endorsement from a pretty significant source.
SCAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata told Andrew Dalton of the Associated Press that ?this plan looked at land use for the first time since we started doing planning.? That?s fairly amazing for the largest metro planning agency in the country, but Ikhrata and his colleagues deserve our praise and thanks for doing so now. Dalton summarized the moment:
?The government group that oversees transportation for Southern California voted Wednesday to approve a $524 billion agreement that aims to make train tracks, bike lanes and clear skies as much a part of the region’s image as boulevards and freeways.
?The unanimous vote from the Southern California Association for the 25-year Regional Transportation Plan provided a moment of consensus and celebration for the government officials and advocates who worked on it for four years, a feeling that could fade as it now needs to be put into play by local agencies and paid for by citizens.
?Still, the plan, a blueprint of priorities created by the group’s 191 cities based on the federal, state and local funding the region expects to see, represents a huge shift in emphasis.?
Dalton?s story was reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The new plan, which will be updated every four years, was required by California?s landmark planning law, Senate Bill 375, passed and signed into law in 2008. SB 375 requires that a Sustainable Communities Strategy to reduce carbon pollution be incorporated into regional transportation planning. NRDC strongly supported the law and has been working on its implementation.
Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment. For more posts, see his blog’s home page. This piece was originally published at NRDC’s Switchboard and re-printed with permission.
The government of Pakistan has presented the United States government with a list of demands that includes ending CIA drone strikes in the country immediately. The New York Times reports the government has also called on the Obama administration to[...]
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