Click here to view this media
Paul Krugman's take on Romney's choice of Paul Ryan is, I think, spot on. He thinks Romney is relying on the politerati to just hunker down in their false equivalence bunker and treat Ryan as some kind of Very Legitimate Serious Guy.
What Ryan is good at is exploiting the willful gullibility of the Beltway media, using a soft-focus style to play into their desire to have a conservative wonk they can say nice things about. And apparently the trick still works.
With that in mind, I give CNN's Soledad O'Brien some serious props for staying right on the truth and not letting Romney spokesperson Barbara Comstock do her best impression of Reince Preibus and most of the Republican Party. This nonsense lie that $700 billion has somehow been "stolen" from Medicare played in 2010 when no one really knew what the Affordable Care Act would do. Two years later, senior citizens aren't "losing" anything. They've actually saved lots of money just on the prescription benefit itself.
Of course, that didn't stop Comstock from trying. And when O'Brien wouldn't let her go there, she fell back on the old "death panel" routine, hoping that would somehow leave viewers all shivery and afraid. It's pretty pathetic. Here's the actual exchange:
O'BRIEN: The budget, as I put it out earlier, was passed. That $700 billion was -- what Republicans, virtually every Republican agreed to that twice, twice in 2011 and 2012. So to say that it's -- the money is being stolen I think is the word that you used, that has been debunked.
COMSTOCK: That has taken -- that's taken --
O'BRIEN: That's factually not true.
COMSTOCK: No, that is taken from current seniors and our plan --
O'BRIEN: It is not. It is not taken from current seniors. It is not affecting the benefits.
COMSTOCK: Well, you have to look --
O'BRIEN: I am telling you, it has been -- the CBO and others have done a breakdown of it. And as you know this, they're not cutting the benefits to the elderly. They are cutting the benefit in fact --
COMSTOCK: We aren't, we aren't -- what about the 15-member board that can decide what procedure, whether my dad can get, you know, ablation again because he's 77.
O'BRIEN: Let's go --
COMSTOCK: And if this 15-member board decides that you can't get a treatment, that's how they plan on controlling the spending, is by having a 15-person on elected board decide what kind of treatment seniors can get.
O'BRIEN: So you're conceding --
COMSTOCK: We don't have 15-person board.
O'BRIEN: You're conceding that the $715 billion is not stolen.
COMSTOCK: No, that's -- they're -- whether cutting the $700 billion by having this 15-person --
The value of this exchange is less in the facts and more an exposé of Republican strategy. As soon as Comstock was confronted with the fact that Republicans have not only agreed to the same cuts, but also that Rock Star Ryan blessed them, suddenly she had to fall back on the old, tired 'death panel' canard, long debunked.
This was a rare "CNN forces the truth" moment, thanks to Soledad O'Brien. I'll bet they won't promote it on their home page, but she deserves recognition for actually acting like a journalist.
NBC’s Stars Earn Stripes, a reality competition show in which “stars” ranging from Todd Palin to Nick Lachey complete challenges theoretically drawn from military missions and raise money for military charities when they win, was always going to attract some raised eyebrows. Whether it was the show’s contribution to the growing Palin family reality empire, the involvement of an apparently severely underly-employed Gen. Wesley Clark, or the late-summer cheesiness of the concept, Stars Earn Stripes is perfectly engineered to win news cycles if not fans. But I don’t think NBC anticipated this latest twist: Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a number of other Nobel Laureates have published an open letter to NBC president Bob Greenblatt (who in between this and Sharon Osbourn’s accusations of discrimination is not having a great start to this season) and other executives involved with the show, calling Stars Earn Stripes an ugly glorification of war.
I don’t entirely agree with Tutu and his esteemed company: Stars Earn Stripes doesn’t make it look exciting or fun to fire on live targets, or to expose yourself to real risk. The show is marked by a patent phoniness, whether it’s the cheerful blue and red plastic targets and paint used to mark competitors’ courses, the hay bales that simulate houses, the command center General Clark hosts from that looks like it was sold off the lot of a canceled science fiction show, and the corny, B-movie explosions. This is a rich man’s paintball course, not an effective tool for convincing people to kill in their country’s service. The signatories are right when they say that “Real war is down in the dirt deadly. People?military and civilians?die in ways that are anything but entertaining.” And the show doesn’t actually make entertainment out of those deaths.
But Stars Earn Stripes is a perfect illustration of a deeply pernicious problem: it severs the concept of supporting the troops from any other meaning than praising their competence. “This is a show to say thank you to the people who are in uniform now, who have been in uniform, and the people who protect us 24/7, 365 and do things that you can?t pay people to do,” Dick Wolf, who is executive producing the show, said at the Television Critics Association Press Tour And what I hope, if there was one sentence that comes out of the show at the end of it, it?s going up to people in the military and just simply saying thank you for your service, because they don?t mind hearing it.” Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the idea that we should thank members of the military for their service. But reducing support for the troops to the sum of thank-yous and viewing them like action movie stars is the equivalent of President Bush suggesting that American families hit up Disney World as a way of affirming the goodness of life in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
Saying thank you, or appreciating military service as a particularized skill set that not all of us have the physical or mental fortitude to perform, is the easy part of the equation, in part because those are sentiments that are broadly applicable, and don’t require an acknowledgement that sometimes, the best thing we could do to support the troops is to call for internal reform of the armed forces. The “troops” are not a monolith with undifferentiated needs. Gay service members can’t access all of the family support programs the military provides for their straight counterparts. If married gay couples have children from previous marriages, those children can’t be covered under military benefits programs, and married gay couples don’t have the same housing and movie benefits, nor the legal protections available to heterosexual married couples. Similarly, supporting female service members means a serious examination of the factors that have made sexual assault so widely prevalent in the military. And supporting troops wounded in overseas action means a commitment to get them excellent treatment all the way through their recovery. American service members have material needs, not simply emotional ones, and there’s something glib and facile about suggesting that the priority in supporting them is simply affirming the coolness of the deeds they perform.
Part of the reason this bifurcation is troubling is that Stars Earn Stripes is helping raise money for some organizations that provide those kinds of material support, including the Armed Services YMCA of Alaska, a state that is home to a disproportionate number of military families, the Wounded Warrior Project, the USO, and the Pat Tillman Foundation, which provides educational scholarships to service members and their families. But in its first episode, at least, the emphasis is more squarely on the competition aspect of the program, the sight of Terry Crews talking about how awesome it is to have figured out a sniper challenge, seeing Picabo Street kick in a door, than on the charities their efforts benefit, and the reason those charities need public support so badly.
Awesome and staged explosions are easier for a reality show to pull off than building long-term support for efforts to fill in the holes in our official support systems for service members and military families. But it would be nice if Stars Earn Stripes embraced a deeper and more nuanced sense of what it means to support the troops. The stories behind the charities the show supports are a lot richer than the sight of celebrities running around an obstacle course playing with military hardware.
Our guest blogger is Joanna Venator, an intern with the economic policy team at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
In its latest unemployment release, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the national unemployment rate remained ?essentially unchanged? at 8.3 percent. Twenty-seven states reported unemployment rate increases.
Though job creation remains sluggish, the federal government has been phasing out unemployment benefits since the beginning of 2012. Since January, thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have aged out of the Extended Benefits (EB) program, a federal program which provides aid for unemployed workers in states with extended periods of unemployment.
This has resulted in more than half a million people losing benefits. The last state to receive these benefits, Idaho, was phased out of the system last Saturday.
Why are these states no longer eligible for extended benefits? Is it because they no longer have high unemployment? Unfortunately, no. Many of these states have unemployment rates even higher than the national average, including some with rates over 10.0 percent.
But eligibility for EB is determined both by a state?s unemployment rate and a comparison of the unemployment rate during the past three years. States are falling out of the program not due to significantly lower unemployment rates, but instead because unemployment has been consistently high since 2009, with today’s rate an “improvement” by comparison.
The loss of Extended Benefits is a huge blow to unemployed workers. Losing 13 to 20 weeks of UI benefits is the equivalent of losing $3900 to $6000 of income on average.
Based on U.S. Census estimates of income for unemployed workers and the federal poverty level for a four-person family, a loss of $6000 for unemployed workers would push around 1.4 million people into poverty. U.S. Census data shows that UI benefits (federal and state combined) kept 3.2 million people above the poverty line in 2010.
I have a piece at Time.com comparing the speechmaking of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.
I use the three criteria for a good speech based on my review of the greatest speeches in history in my book, Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln and Lady Gaga. The most memorable and effective speeches make use of:
As I note in the article and my book, a 2005 study examined the use of metaphors in inaugural addresses of three dozen presidents who had been independently rated for charisma. The conclusion: ?Charismatic presidents used nearly twice as many metaphors (adjusted for speech length) than non-charismatic presidents.? When students were asked to read a random group of addresses and highlight passages they viewed as most inspiring, ?even those presidents who did not appear to be charismatic were still perceived to be more inspiring when they used metaphors.?
You?d need Superman?s ears to hear either Obama or Romney use an inspirational metaphor, let alone repeat it. This may be the single biggest failing in Obama?s campaign. His recent slogans, ?winning the future? and ?forward? are blandly literal and literally bland. Romney is no better.
The bottom line:
Obama may be credited as being a great speechmaker, but for most of his first term, he apparently left much of his speech-writing to people who aren?t very good at it. Fortunately for Obama, presidential elections are graded on a curve, and he just needs to have superior language intelligence to Romney, who could use a serious lesson in language arts.
You can read the whole thing here.
In a bid to get the federal deficit under control, the Obama administration proposed cutting the bloated defense budget by nearly $500 billion. But the Repbulican presidential ticket — while sharing the goal of reducing the national debt — wants to keep military spending high. Mitt Romney , for his part, wants to boost spening by $2 trillion over the next decade, without explaining how he would trim the debt while doing so. Romney’s vice presidential pick, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who has a reputation for being an even bigger fiscal hawk than the candidate himself, also plans to reduce the size of the obama administration’s military budget cuts.
But one of the country’s top conservative icons, who has, like Ryan, made reducing government spending his top goal, doesn’t have much faith that the vice presidential pick would do much to trim bloated defense spending. That’s what Grover Norquist, the head of American’s for Tax Reform, told an audience at the Center for the National Interest on Monday. Norquist was clear that, contra claims by Republican hakws and some in the defense industry, that national security would not be jeopardized by significantly reducing military budgets. He told the crowd:
We can afford to have an adequate national defense which keeps us free and safe and keeps everybody afraid to throw a punch at us, as long as we don’t make some of the decisions that previous administrations have, which is to over extend ourselves overseas and think we can run foreign governments….
Other people need to lead the argument on how can conservatives lead a fight to have a serious national defense without wasting money. I wouldn’t ask Ryan to be the reformer of the defense establishment.
Many Republicans agree with Norquist that fears about budget cuts to the military often amount to “hysteria.” But Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are not among them.
The GOP ticket has instead sought to make reversing Obamna administration cuts the centerpiece of their national security platform, including the further automatic cuts known as “sequestration” that will come into effect if Congress can’t agree to other ways to trim the budget. Combining Romney’s plan to peg defense spending at 4 percent of GDP, and Ryan’s plan to cap all government discreationary spending at 4 percent of GDP, the military could be about the only thing thing the government spends money on, a potnetial “radical remaking of the federal government.”
But even sequestration wouldn’t be as devastating as it seems. The Congressional Budget Office found that, after the automatic cuts, military spending would still be at 2006 levels.
The Arkansas Chapter of the Commission on Religion and Racism (CORR) is calling for the resignation of Jonesboro Police Chief Michael Yates in light of the death of 21-year-old Chavis Carter, who police said shot himself in the head while handcuffed in the back of a squad car. CORR is leading a protest at the Jonesboro City Hall today at 11:30 am.
Yates, who recently claimed it would have been “quite easy” for Carter to shoot himself with his hands double-locked behind his back, has a murky history in race relations. Yates came to the Jonesboro Police Department after his controversial resignation as police chief in Americus, Georgia. The local NAACP chapter launched a campaign to get Yates fired after he conducted an illegal background check on the NAACP vice president, who publicly complained about Americus police brutality at city council meetings. Yates stepped down voluntarily in 2004.
But Yates continued to stir up controversy upon moving to Arkansas. He made headlines again during the “Obama Riot” of 2008, an altercation between police and a predominantly black crowd of students celebrating Obama’s election at Arkansas State University. According to two female witnesses, about 30 officers arrested several of the 60 or 70 celebrating students, threw them to the ground, and repeatedly kicked one man in the stomach and head. Yates told a different version of events, in which there were 200-250 students who set fire to a fence, fired weapons and attacked officers.
Scrutiny on the Jonesboro Police Department, which is 98 percent white, has grown as the investigation into Carter’s death has remained underwraps. Yates has said the dashboard camera and eyewitness accounts back up the officers’ claims that Carter shot himself, though the camera did not capture the moment of the shooting. Black community leaders have urged patience, but the lack of information has tensions running high.
Despite the repeated mantra from the Romney-Ryan campaign that “hard-working Americans are what create jobs, not government,” Paul Ryan’s family business — for whom he briefly worked as a “marketing consultant” — was built in large part on government contracts. Salon reports Ryan Incorporated Central began in 1884 doing government-subsidized railroad construction, then moved into building federal interstate highways, and helped build O’Hare Airport.
The story notes:
A current search of Defense Department contracts suggests that ?Ryan Incorporated Central? has had at least 22 defense contracts with the federal government since 1996, including one from 1996 worth $5.6 million. … Mr. Anti-Spending secured millions in earmarks for his home state of Wisconsin, including, among other things, $3.3 million for highway projects. And Ryan voted to preserve $40 billion in special subsidies for big oil, an industry in which, it so happens, Ryan and his wife hold ownership stakes.
Yet in his first speech as Romney’s running-mate, Ryan joined in on the attacks on President Obama for believing that those whose businesses are successful, in part succeed because “somebody invested in roads and bridges.” Ryan proclaimed that he was “proud to stand with a man who understands what it takes to foster job creation in our economy, someone who knows from experience, that if you have a small business?you did build that.”
Last month, ThinkProgress noted the irony that a Romney campaign ad hitting President Obama for his argument that government investment plays a part in business success starred a small businessman who benefited from millions of dollars of government loans and contracts to get his business on its feet. It is more ironic still that his campaign now stars a running mate demonstrating the same kind of hypocrisy.
The adult obesity rate has swelled past 30 percent in 12 states, led by Mississippi, according to a new analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health. Mississippi has the highest rate at 34.9 percent, while Colorado was lowest at 20.7 percent. Twenty-six of the 30 states with the highest obesity rates are in the Midwest and South, with Louisiana, West Virginia, and Alabama trailing Mississippi. About 80 percent of Americans think obesity is a serious problem, according to a recent Gallup poll. A report will be released later this summer projecting the likely rise in obesity-related disease rates and health care costs down the road.
Cybercrime is a global epidemic that is costing individuals and companies billions of dollars. Cyber-attacks are causing "the greatest transfer of wealth in history," according to Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National . . . → Read More: Buy the Stock Every Cyber Criminal Hates
Read The Full Article:
After a rocky start to the summer, stocks have trended higher over the past few weeks. That much is fact. So why do I remain leery of the market? What are MY indicators . . . → Read More: 3 Key Reasons I Remain Leery of This Market!
Read The Full Article: