Most of the Village thought Romney had a pretty easy time at the CNN debate because none of the other candidates would attack Mittens for his years of flip flopping positions.
No one attacked Romney. Surprisingly, Mitt Romney?s position as putative GOP front runner was not directly attacked or challenged by anyone. CNN?s moderator John King tried to goad Pawlenty into explaining why he characterized the Obama healthcare law as ?Obamaneycare? and Pawlenty was not eager to take the bait. There were also no direct attacks on Romney?s abortion record. Perhaps the candidates think its too early to go negative.
It's too early for the game show candidates to go on the offensive this early in the game. However, the niceties of these early stages do not extend to the rest of the GOP players.
They really dislike Romney as much as we do. Goober Graham is in a huff over Mittens position on the Afghanistan war and called him Jimmy Carter, which is a slur in Republicanese..
A leading Republican voice on national security said Tuesday that presidential contender Mitt Romney risks looking like Jimmy Carter if he doesn?t take a stronger stance on Afghanistan.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who supported Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) against Romney in the 2008 presidential primary, leveled one of his party?s most stinging insults at the 2012 front-runner in response to Romney?s statements in Monday?s New Hampshire debate. He directly challenged Romney?s suggestion that the conflict in Afghanistan was a war of independence, and added: ?From the party?s point of view, the biggest disaster would be to let Barack Obama become Ronald Reagan and our people become Jimmy Carter.?
Graham was not alone in his skepticism about Romney. Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), a senior Republican member of the Armed Services Committee, also voiced dismay with the former Massachusetts governor?s characterization of the Afghan war.
In the debate, Romney said he believes the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan should be based on security conditions there instead of political or fiscal considerations. But he also appeared to undercut the rationale for U.S. involvement by suggesting that American troops are fighting a war for Afghan independence against Taliban influence.
Romney said: ?Our troops shouldn?t go off and try to fight a war of independence for another nation. Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan?s independence from the Taliban.?
Graham retorted on Tuesday, saying this is not a war of independence, this is a war to protect America?s national vital security interests.?
Predictably the Neocons are up in arms over this because they need war to survive. Mitt Romney's Afghanistan remark stuns GOP pals
Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said her inbox was flooded Tuesday morning with emails calling Romney?s comments a ?disaster.?
?I?d thought of Romney as a mainstream Republican ? supporting American strength and American leadership, but this doesn?t reflect that,? she said. ?Romney has proven himself a little bit of a weathervane and I guess he senses that positioning himself in this place is good for his campaign ? attempting to appease Ron Paul?s constituents without actually being Ron Paul.?
?You can?t really triangulate on these issues. Either you think we?re fighting a war we need to win or you think we ought to bring all the troops home, but he said it all there,? Pletka said.
Other Republicans did not want to be quoted out of party loyalty and fear of the front runner.
Many other Conservative groups are lining up against Romney in a big way.
For several conservative organizations, antagonism toward Romney runs so deep that they are actually gearing up to wage campaigns against him.
Probably the most prominent group targeting Romney is FreedomWorks, the Dick Armey-led conservative organization. The group has been increasingly vocal about its opposition to the former governor of Massachusetts. ?Romney has a record and we don?t really like it that much,? Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks? communications director, recently told The Huffington Post. Now the group is threatening to unleash part of its $25 million treasure trove in an attempt to sink his candidacy.
Working parallel to Steinhauser and FreedomWorks is Alaskan Joe Miller, the Tea Party favorite who won his state?s Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2010 before losing to Lisa Murkowski in the general election. Miller has taken it upon himself to launch a new ?Stop Romney? campaign that?s hoping to raise and spend as much as $500,000 on television and radio ads attacking Romney as an unscrupulous opportunist?all of which will be funneled into his most critical early primary state. ?We?re going to put all our focus on New Hampshire,? says Bryan Shroyer, executive director of Miller?s Western Representation PAC, which has over 250,000 supporters and spent heavily to back conservatives in 2010. ?
Finally, social conservatives are rejuvenating their battle against Romney. Last time around, the religious group American Right To Life ran ads in key primary states decrying Romney?s pro-life conversion as a ?fairy tale.? This cycle, the group intends to run ads in Iowa and South Carolina in a self-proclaimed effort to ?decimate? Romney?s campaign early on. ?We plan to repeat our strategy that worked in 2008, which was to blanket those states with TV ads letting the conservative Christian base know that Mitt Romney supports the killing of unborn children,? American Right To Life spokesman Bob Enyart told me.
Romney has Dick Armey, psycho like Joe Miller and the Religious Right out to dirty him up. Most Liberals want out of Afghanistan and so did Romney. Now he's changing his tune to calm the waters, but the attacks will continue to go on against him. I've said since 2008 that Romney was the natural GOP choice in 2012, but he's going to be roughed up by his own people for a long, long time.
This morning, Politico's Mike Allen moderated a really interesting encounter with Democratic National Committee Chair and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. These Playbook Breakfasts, the last of which was with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, cover a ton of policy territory, are well attended, and Mike Allen -- in a genteel, polite way -- is quite tenacious.
Allen was kind enough to build me into his program today, asking me to pose a question, which I did on the foreign policy front, asking Rep. Wasserman Schultz where she and her fellow Democrats were on Afghanistan, particularly as some Jacksonian Southern conservative traditional hawks like Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) were calling for a significant pivot away from the current heavy deployment strategy to a much smaller US military footprint in Afghanistan.
For days I had been chasing down a rumor that Wasserman Schultz had told some folks that their agitation to start a new course reducing US forces in Afghanistan could result in many Dems losing their Congressional races and perhaps Obama losing the White House. If true, this would have been a terrible posture for the new DNC chair because it would have implied that political calculations were governing questions about the deployment of American men and women in combat vs. US national security interests. Turned out that this rumor was wrong -- and to my delight, Wasserman Shultz opened her response to me by saying that in considering which way to go on Afghanistan, politics had to be the last of our concerns -- and that on the ground realities and America's strategic interests had to inform those judgment calls.
That was the right answer from Wasserman Schultz -- and it impressed me. She is not where I am on Afghanistan and defers to much in my view to the Executive Branch, equating her support of the US military surge into Afghanistan with her vote supporting the surge of US forces into Iraq during the Bush administration. She said that her support was not unconditional, that if circumstances changed or objectives not achieved, her support would be withdrawn.
She acknowledged that while there were many in the US weary of the Afghanistan War, she didn't feel that her constituents were ready to withdraw support for President Obama's course -- but their patience was not infinite.
In a response to ABC's Jonathan Karl, she said that Democratic Members of Congress were not "whipped" or pushed or nudged this way or that on matters of war and military deployments -- which was something I had not realized.
I was more impressed with Wasserman Schultz this morning than I had thought I'd be -- as I differ from her substantially on her views toward the Israel/Palestine conflict and also on US-Cuba relations, where she swims in sync with Republican House Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
But she was substantive and impressive on a broad set of fronts. One thing though. Former Clinton White House spokesman Joe Lockhart, who is leaving Glover Park Group to become VP for Communications for Facebook, already has his first political bridge re-building task. Wasserman Schultz confided that she had deactivated her daughter's facebook page -- stating that she didn't think she could buffer her from harmful influences out there vis-a-vis that platform.
Interesting session -- particularly the comment that the Girl Scouts of America is out of sync with modern young women and needs to get "more hip."
-- Steve Clemons
This is a guest post by Caroline Esser, a research associate with the New America Foundation's Bernard L. Schwartz Fellows Program.
At the same time that Steve was streaming a live video of Monday's New America event with Eli Pariser, the author of The Filter Bubble, we were pondering similar questions to those raised in Pariser's book at the Center for Social Cohesion's event, "Can the United States Remain United?"
In his recently published book, Praiser discusses the dangers of the filter bubble, or the "personal ecosystem of information that's been catered by" the algorithms of companies like Google, Facebook, or Yahoo to match users' individual interests. Instead of exposing users to new ideas and connecting diverse people from around the world, Praiser fears that the internet is instead "connecting us back to ourselves," serving as a powerful reinforcement of our previously held beliefs.
According to Bill Bishop, the filter bubble phenomenon is occurring not just within digital media but also on a much broader scale in American society. Bishop, the author of The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart and a panelist at the Social Cohesion event, found that despite the unprecedented numbers of immigrants arriving in the United States and the increasing diversity of the population, individual communities are themselves becoming more and more homogenous. Simultaneously, the differences between communities are become greater and greater. Income differentials are rising and partisan alliances are polarizing between communities--each bastion of American society is falling away from the mean. Why is this occurring? According to Bishop it is because of the unique freedom (and burden) each American has to create his or her own identity. In a society that glorifies the individual, each citizen has the ability to choose where to live and what type of people to surround him/herself with. As a result, like the web searches that simply connect us back to ourselves, Bishop argues that Americans are seeking out communities that constantly reinforce their lifestyles and beliefs. Cross-cutting relations with people of diverse opinions and ways of living are becoming increasingly rare.
Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who opened the conference with a short speech, quipped that the best way to overcome divisions within the U.S. is to "get everybody together...and sit around outside and eat Mexican food and drink beer and make friends with each other. That worked." Despite the refreshing honesty and simplicity of O'Connor's advice, I left feeling that Bill Bishop and Eli Pariser's work has called into question whether or not it is still possible to get a group of diverse Americans together in Justice O'Connor's backyard for a friendly, open-minded conversation. Is there enough binding each American together--a greater set of shared American values grounded in the country's founding documents--for Justice O'Connor's plan to work? Or is all that unites us now the freedom to choose our lifestyle and a tolerance of those who have chosen differently?
-- Caroline Esser
Turns out that one of the most inconspicuous home fixtures is one of the biggest energy hogs — even when they aren’t recording or replaying programs!
Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) allow users to record television programs to a storage device (hard drive, memory card, etc.). They also use more electricity than a refrigerator! (albeit, an energy efficient one.)
The startling state of DVR efficiency was brought to light by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The report finds:
In 2010, set-top boxes in the United States consumed approximately 27 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is equivalent to the annual output of nine average (500 MW) coal-fired power plants. The electricity required to operate all U.S. boxes is equal to the annual household electricity consumption of the entire state of Maryland, results in 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and costs households more than $3 billion each year.
Remarkably, “U.S. set-top boxes continue to use almost as much power when not in use as they do when in use. However, leading European service providers have begun to solve this problem in their newest boxes”:
According to NRDC, there is much that can be done to improve DVR efficiency including:
Meeting ENERGY STAR requirements
Manufacturers are strongly encouraged to design products that meet or surpass ENERGY STAR Version 4.0 requirements as soon as possible.
Employing Automatic Low-Power States
Future products should automatically enter a low power state when the user is neither watching nor recording or downloading a show, and should wake up in a sufficiently short period of time to prevent customer dissatisfaction.
Replacing Outdated and Inefficient Set-Top Boxes
Service providers should accelerate deployment of new energy-efficient set-top boxes and make any needed changes in their ?upstream? equipment to ensure the energy saving features are successfully utilized. Service providers are encouraged to shift to multi-room solutions that require only one main box and employ much lower power boxes (thin clients) to view content on other televisions in the home.
Spurring Technological Innovation
Service providers should work with their supply chain and industry groups to accelerate adoption of standards that enable:
- Multi-room clients to achieve deep sleep with short wake time
- Connected consumer electronics devices such as the television, set-top box, and DVD player to share power state information in support of more effective power management
- Data connections should operate at lower power levels when not in use
- Service providers to wake set-top boxes from deep sleep
With a little commonsense and ingenuity, your favorite television program can be enjoyed anytime of the day ? without burning up your money and the planet.
– Tyce Herrman
Attempting to get ourselves some culture, my girlfriend and I watched the 1944 film noir classic Double Indemnity last night. It’s a great film and very much worth your time, but cinematic qualities aside watching an old movie like that is a fascinating window into daily life at a time of much lower labor productivity than you have today.
The protagonist of the film is an insurance salesman, and it’s striking to think about a time when it made sense to do that job by actually traveling door-to-door to have in-person conversations with people about how they should buy insurance. Similarly it’s taken for granted that you might make a separate trip to pick up an insurance check in person. And that’s to say nothing of the basic office functions of an insurance agency. In a couple of shots you get a glimpse at the vast quantity of dudes at desks who’d need to sit around with papers and pens shuffling documents around in a world without computer filing systems. Then you can think about needing to consult actuarial tables rather than being able to plug numbers into a computer. The flipside of all that manpower being necessary to perform that kind of work is that the apartment building where the salesman lives manages to employ a full-time garage attendant who’ll hand wash your car for you.
It’s interesting, in part, because when we talk about technology displacing workers from jobs we normally do that with a manufacturing frame in mind. Fewer workers, more robots. But the displacement of office workers from routine tasks must be an equally big story. And in some ways it seems like the reverse of the usual “skill-biased technological change” story. Computers are quite good at replicated large segments of office work (basic record keeping, arithmetic, data retrieval, message taking, etc.) that require a modicum of math and literacy skills but thus far haven’t made much progress at refolding sweaters or pouring cups of coffee.
Via RightWingWatch: The Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg thinks that federal funding for gay-straight alliances (GSAs) will be a detriment to the health of LGBT youth. While research shows that GSAs have a very positive effect on youth health by reducing stigma, Sprigg is adamant that health risks are a direct result of a gay identity (which he thinks should be changed).
ThinkProgress filed this report from the Netroots Nation convention in Minneapolis, MN.
The United States is less than seven weeks away from defaulting on our debt and sending the country into an economic crisis worse than the Great Recession. Brushing off the impending consequences, Republicans are continuing to hold the debt ceiling vote hostage to their various demands, including a balanced budget amendment, Social Security cuts, and a 44-percent reduction to every government program.
One of the leading voices urging Republicans not to raise the debt ceiling has been leading presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty. On multiple occasions, Pawlenty advised the GOP to stand firm and not allow a debt ceiling increase, regardless of the economic consequences, even saying at one point that failing to raise the debt ceiling would be good for the economy. ?If the Congress moves in that direction at present,” said Pawlenty, “they better get something really good for it ? it better be permanent, and it better be structural.”
ThinkProgress ran into Pawlenty in the Minneapolis airport today and asked whether as president he could imagine asking Congress to raise the debt ceiling. The former Minnesota governor was evasive. He reiterated his opposition to raising the current debt limit, but despite being asked three times whether he would ever request an increase as president, Pawlenty was unwilling to rule it out:
KEYES: You’ve obviously made a big deal out of telling Congress not to raise the debt ceiling, to stay firm on this. Can you envision a scenario where you’re president that you would ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling?
PAWLENTY: I don’t think they should raise the debt ceiling. And if they even consider it, they should make sure that they get real, permanent, meaningful structural reform in spending, including things like a constitutional amendment to balance the budget, or specific long-term reforms and changes in the structural spending of the federal budget. It’s out of control and it’s reckless.
KEYES: But if you were president, do you think you would ask Congress ever to be raising it?
PAWLENTY: I don’t think we should raise the debt ceiling, but if they feel that they have to because it’s mathematically impossible not to, then I think you have to make sure that you get real, permanent structural reforms. The thing I would shoot for is a constitutional amendment to balance the budget
KEYES: But not willing to write it off?
PAWLENTY: That’s good. Thanks.
The TV show The West Wing wisely characterized debt ceiling negotiations as an opportunity for the opposition party to grandstand “about how awful it is that we maxed out the national credit card.” For example, despite his current opposition to raising the debt ceiling, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) supported an increase in 2002 because, “I truly believe if you owe debts, you pay debts.”
Indeed, Pawlenty’s refusal to rule out future increases in the debt ceiling if he’s elected president demonstrates that his current opposition to raising the debt limit is likely no more than an exercise in demagoguery.
You know where you picked up that flu that knocked you flat for two weeks this winter? At a restaurant or retail store that forces its sick workers to work if they want to get paid.
This isn't an issue of entitlements or even workers' rights; it's an issue of public health.
Let's work to make this happen nationwide. From Civil Rights.orgIn a victory for workers and labor advocates, the Connecticut legislature recently became the first in the nation to pass a statewide mandate for paid sick days.
Eighty percent of low-wage workers in the United States do not have any paid sick days, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families. S.B. 913 will require employers with fifty or more employees to provide paid sick leave when workers are ill or need to care for their families. With the implementation of this bill, workers in Connecticut will no longer have to decide between feeding their families and staying home from work due to illness.
The really good news about this is that it applies to PART-TIME employees, as well. Too many companies avoid paying benefits to their employees by insisting on a part-time work force.
You should have heard the whining and moaning from Connecticut Republican legislators about how this bill was a...wait for it...."job killer."
You know what hurts a business? I stop shopping at stores when I see an obviously sick employee running a cash register. I can shop at home and not catch something. Shopping does not have to cost me days of being ill myself, let alone facing the misery of passing something on to my three kids.
There is national legislation on this, called The Healthy Families Act, that would enable all workers in the United States to earn up to seven paid sick days a year. Just one more reason we need to kick out the Republicans in the House and remove Blue Dogs from the Senate.
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There's even more to be infuriated over regarding the House Republicans' efforts to decimate food aid in order to give defense contractors even more money. As Think Progress's Pat Garofalo writes, the cuts to food aid for hundreds of thousands of amount to one day of Bush tax cuts for millionaires.
The CSFP provides food assistance to 600,000 low-income families every month, 96 percent of whom are seniors, while the TEFAP [Emergency Food Assistance Program] ?provides our nation?s emergency food bank network with food commodities and storage and distribution support.? We previously noted that the cuts to WIC [Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children] are roughly equivalent to the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires alone for just one week.
As it turns out, the cuts to CSIP and TEFAB, according to Half in Ten?s Melissa Boteach, are equivalent to the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires alone for just one day.
These aren't the "hard choices" of "shared sacrifice" the deficit peacocks love to harp on about. It's about people, maybe as many as 1.1 million people, going hungry so the millionaires can keep their tax breaks.