Marco Rubio: It won't be me!Marco Rubio once again says he won't be Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate:
Beginning on Friday, as he sat down with CNN en Espanol's Ismael Cala, the tea party favorite denied that he would be riding shotgun on the Republican ticket.But Mitt Romney, who just tapped long-time aide Beth Myers to run his vice presidential selection process, is still bullish on the 40-year Floridian:
"I?m not going to be the vice president. I?m not," he said, the second such announcement this month.
"Marco has said repeatedly that he's not going to be vice president, and all of the speculation in the world isn't going to change that fact,? senior Rubio advisor Todd Harris added.
When asked about Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Romney said "he's one of the terrific leaders in our party."If Rubio's name comes up during Myers' search, former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez has some advice for Myers:
"Rubio's resume does not reflect someone prepared to confront serious and dangerous issues that our country faces as president," he said.Ouch. But if not Marco, then who?
Gonzales also rejected the possibility that bringing Rubio onto the GOP ticket could bring sought-after Latino voters to the Republican Party, saying Rubio would help "for the first 12 hours if selected for the No. 2 spot, but that won't last."
Ann Romney clutches pearls, pretends to be outraged (Jeff Haynes/Reuters)Remember that time someone you'd never heard of said the most offensive thing you could ever say about Ann Romney? It was so offensive that Ann had to start a Twitter account, just to express her offendedness. That's how offended she was. In fact, it was so offensive that her kids had to take time out of whatever the hell it is they do with their various degrees from Harvard (yup, Harvard) to express their offendedness on Twitter. We're talking DEFCON 1 offensive.
Yeah. About that:
"It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother," [Ann] said. "That was a really defining moment, and I loved it."She loved it? Being viciously attacked with a factual statement about how she's never had a job, and she loved it? So, in other words, all the foot-stomping and pearl-clutching and salt-smelling and fundraising emails about poor Ann being attacked (with the truth), and all along, she loved it?
So all that outrage was a cynical act to try to stem the bleeding that is the 20-point gender gap. Team Romney shoved her in front of the cameras, schooled her in appearing appropriately offended, and kept their fingers crossed that it would somehow win them some lady points. All the while, she's laughing and loving it.
There's a long and growing list of evidence that Mitt Romney is the weakest presidential candidate since pretty much forever. He's the least popular Republican nominee in modern history?and that's just within his own party. He's incapable of opening his mouth without letting the stupid out, unless he has a teleprompter in front of him. (Oh, the irony.)
But the fact that Romney's campaign thinks his wife is "one of its greatest assets" has to be somewhere near the top of the list. Because the truth is, Ann Romney running around this country claiming to understand the economic struggles women face because she too, as the wife of a multimillionaire, has struggled and doesn't even consider herself wealthy is about as tone-deaf as you can get. Ann may seem human and likable compared with Mitt, but that's really not saying much.
The Secret Service prostitution scandal that overshadowed President Barack Obama's trip to the Summit of the Americas began two days before he arrived in Columbia last week.
The scandal has initially ensnared 11 Secret Service agents and five members of the military, though it is unclear how many of them actually hired prostitutes or how closely involved they were in the alleged activities. All 11 of the Secret Service agents were summoned back to Washington, D.C., and were interviewed at the agency's headquarters over the weekend while the members of the military were confined to their hotel rooms over the weekend.
The group was on the ground to prepare security for Obama's trip and were staying at the Hotel Caribe, which has a policy of having visitors of hotel guests leave by 7 a.m. When one woman stayed in an agent's room past that time, the hotel manager showed up at the door, according to an account relayed to reporters by Rep. Peter King (R-NY). King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he was told in a briefing Saturday by the Secret Service that all 11 were suspected of bringing women back to their rooms.
The agent confronted by the hotel manager reportedly initially refused to open the door to his room, and the hotel called the local police on Thursday morning, King said, according to MSNBC. Once they showed up, the woman said she wouldn't leave until she was paid. The unidentified agent allegedly said he didn't owe any money but ended up paying her. Columbian law enforcement officials subsequently notified the U.S. embassy.
The Secret Service said the group of 11 was "comprised of both special agents and Uniformed Division officers, none of whom are assigned to the Presidential Protective Division." The 11 members of the team were replaced by agents from Puerto Rico and Florida before the President arrived in Columbia on Friday.
The five members of the military were assigned to Joint Task Force Summit of the Americas and "violated the curfew established by the United States Senior Defense Official in Colombia and may have been involved in inappropriate conduct," according to the Pentagon.
While prostitution is generally illegal in Columbia, there are "tolerance zones" where such activity is ignored. Hiring hookers is against Secret Service rules and any married agents who hired prostitutes would have violated their top-secret security clearance by engaging in an extra-marital affair.
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This week, Mitt Romney's former Lieutenant Governor and current adviser Kerry Healy nonchalantly acknowledged the yawning chasm separating her candidate from American women; "There's always going to be a gender gap between Republicans and Democrats."
She should know. After all, she was by Mitt's side as he made ? and broke ? a bevy of promises to women voters during his days in Massachusetts. And as it turns out, that long list doesn't only include his gymnastic reversal on abortion rights and shocking betrayal of Planned Parenthood. As we now know, Mitt's belief that "now mom and dad both have to work" and "I want the individuals to have the dignity of work" don't apply to well-off households like his own.
Seeking to capitalize on the manufactured flap over Hilary Rosen's offhand remark that Ann Romney "has actually never worked a day in her life," Mitt proclaimed that "all mothers are working mothers." As it turns out, Romney's Rule is means-tested. Put another way, on Mitt's Animal Farm, some mothers are more equal than others. As he explained during his 1994 Senate run against Ted Kennedy:
"This is a different world than it was in the 1960s when I was growing up, when you used to be able to have mom at home and dad at work. Now mom and dad both have to work."
Now, as the severely conservative and severely condescending Romney insisted in January, women who receive welfare must work outside the home, even if their children are very young:
"I wanted to increase the work requirement," said Romney. "I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, 'Well that's heartless.' And I said, 'No, no, I'm willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It'll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work."
Just not if the individual is his wife.
As Ann Romney explained in an October 1994 interview, their dignity was provided by Mitt's father George:
"Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time."
"The stock came from Mitt's father. When he took over American Motors, the stock was worth nothing. But he invested Mitt's birthday money year to year -- it wasn't much, a few thousand, but he put it into American Motors because he believed in himself. Five years later, stock that had been $6 a share was $96 and Mitt cashed it so we could live and pay for education."
$250 million dollars later, the dignified Mrs. Romney now claims their wealth can't be quantified. As she lectured voters in January:
"I understand Mitt's going to release his tax forms this week. I want to remind you where our riches are: our riches are with our families," Ann Romney said. "Our riches, you can value them, in the children we have and in the grandchildren we have. So that's where our values are and that's where our heart is -- and that's where we measure our wealth."
As Rosengate reached its crescendo last week, Ann Romney explained, "My career choice was to be a mother." She then added:
"We have to respect women in all those choices that they make."
Just not when those choices involve their own bodies and their own health. And that message to the women of America is the exact opposite of the one Mr. and Mrs. Romney sold to the women of Massachusetts.
In March, Governor Romney caused a firestorm when he casually announced, "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that." While he later clarified that "what I want to get rid of is the federal funding of Planned Parenthood," he shouldn't have stopped there. After all, Mitt Romney wants to end all funding for Title X ? the only federal program devoted to family planning. But as Ruth Marcus documented last year, that's only a small part of the health care services Title X provides for lower-income American women:
The inevitable result of eliminating Title X funding would not only be more abortions - it would also be higher bills for taxpayers footing Medicaid and welfare costs for poor children. Guttmacher found that every public dollar invested in family planning care saves $3.74 in Medicaid expenditures for pregnant women and their babies during the first year of care. Imagine the lifetime savings.
And then there is the other "important work" that Pence cited: 2.2 million Pap smears, 2.3 million breast exams, nearly 6 million tests for sexually transmitted infections.
Mitt's positions on Planned Parenthood, women's health care, and reproductive rights have always depended on whether he was running for office inside or outside of liberal Massachusetts.
During his 2002 race for governor, Ann assured Massachusetts voters they need not worry about moderate Mitt protecting the right to choose:
ANN ROMNEY: I think women also recognize that they want someone who is going to manage the state well. I think they may be more nervous about him on social issues. They shouldn't be, because he's going to be just fine. But the perception is that he won't be. That's an incorrect perception.
MITT ROMNEY: So when asked will I preserve and protect a woman's right to choose, I make an unequivocal answer: yes.
(Just five years later, Ann Romney announced that Mitt "has always personally been pro-life." She added that "he did change his mind. It took courage" and claimed, "hasn't changed his position on anything except choice." So much for her claim Thursday that "we need to respect the choices that women make.")
During the '94 Senate campaign when her husband declared the death of a "dear, close family relative" from an illegal abortion inspired his formerly "unwavering" pro-choice position, Ann Romney put her money where Mitt's mouth was. That fall of 1994, Ann and Mitt attended a Planned Parenthood event. During a time when he was trying to establish his pro-choice bona fides with liberal Massachusetts voters, Ann wrote a check for $150 to the organization. When presidential candidate Romney said in 2007 that he had "no recollection" of the fundraiser, Nichols Gamble, then president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, seemed surprised:
"I can understand that he might not remember the check ? it's surprising to me that he would not remember the event. His main motivation for being there was a political motivation."
For her part, Ann Romney gave away the game during a January 2008 interview in Florida (around the 3:10 mark). A clearly irked Mrs. Romney brushed off a question about the contribution to Planned Parenthood, before walking away:
"That was 14 years ago and $100. Do you really think I'd remember?"
Of course, the good people of Planned Parenthood remember not only Ann Romney's check, but Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's support for their agenda. In an April 2002 questionnaire he completed for the group, Mitt Romney put his mouth where his wife's money was:
Do you support the substance of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade? YES
Do you support state funding of abortion services through Medicaid for low-income women? YES
In 1998 the FDA approved the first packaging of emergency contraception, also known as the "morning after pill." Emergency contraception is a high dose combination of oral contraceptives that if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, can safely prevent a pregnancy from occurring. Do you support efforts to increase access to emergency contraception? YES
Of course, that was then and this is now. And in order to win over his party's evangelical base, Mitt Romney adopted a new anti-woman agenda in his 2011 "Pro-Life Pledge":
I support the reversal of Roe v. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine. Roe was a misguided ruling that was a result of a small group of activist federal judges legislating from the bench.
I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. And as president, I will support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood, which primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services.
Now, CEO Mitt Romney shows his commitment to female voters by casually announcing that his wife "reports to me regularly" on what women care about. Of course, during the flap five years ago over Ann's Planned Parenthood contribution, Mitt had a different view about the value of her input:
"Her positions are not terribly relevant for my campaign."
That helps explain why Romney's surrogate Kerry Healy is so fatalistic:
There is always a gender gap with women voters between the Republican and the Democratic Party. There are more women in the Democratic Party to begin with. They are Democrats and they are always going to vote Democratic. We're hoping to win a few of those over, but there's always going to be a gender gap between Republicans and Democrats.
Especially if President Romney has his way.
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)
Gawker's Fox News mole speaks. [...]
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What we know about the Secret Service hooker scandal. [...]
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by Greg Rucks and Jessie Morris, via Rocky Mountain Institute
Last week, the NY Times invited readers to discuss our addiction to cars. RMI’s Rucks and Morris weighed in.
Greg Rucks: Consider Alternative Rational Pricing Approaches
In spirit, a gasoline ?user fee? charges drivers in proportion to the benefit they receive?the revenues are used to build and improve the nation?s roadways through the Highway Trust Fund. In reality, however, a large portion of gasoline tax revenues have historically been diverted away from general road use and used instead for infrastructure improvements?often unrelated to roads?that benefit a select few. Mr. Salzman?s proposal of a ?rational gas user fee? thus hinges largely on the ?rational? part.
An alternative rational pricing approach promises to deliver proportional benefit to users that is directly linked?and proportional to?the extent of their contribution: a VMT (vehicle miles traveled) tax by which drivers are charged by the mile, not by the gallon. As the Oregon Department of Transportation found in 2005, this approach can also help de-congest roadways since rates can be adjusted to reduce driving during peak times (thus reducing traffic), avoiding the need for costly new infrastructure so we can focus on fixing the roads we already have.
Another benefit of a VMT tax is that it provides a pathway to a future where gasoline no longer fuels U.S. transportation. As the U.S. adopts increasingly efficient?and ultimately electrified?vehicles, gasoline revenues will dwindle and infrastructure funding will need an alternative source. Why not lay the groundwork for that future by establishing that source now?
Jesse Morris: Make Better Use of Our Existing Infrastructure
?Stop pedaling … start driving”?that’s the headline from a recent ad by a major U.S. auto manufacturer trying to convince college students to get off of their bikes and into new cars. Although the company quickly backtracked on the message due to widespread criticism, it did highlight a reality: a majority of Americans are more accustomed to driving from point A to point B than using other means. As a whole we are slaves to our cars, and, as suggested by Mr. Salzman, an additional user fee or tax on gasoline could be one way to start changing this dynamic.
But policy-oriented changes aren’t the only way to get people out of their cars. As highlighted by MIT professor Donald Sadoway in a recent talk on energy storage, when presented with resource-oriented challenges, our society has solved problems the good old fashioned American way: by inventing our way out. Business-led innovation can help to transform our transportation system by making better use of existing infrastructure?including our cars?without the need for all-encompassing federal policies.
For example, right now, most urban dwellers (80 percent of the U.S. population) can use their own car, hop on a bus, walk, take a train or subway, use a vehicle in a carshare program, carpool, or pedal a bike in a bikesharing program to get around. But there’s really no way to take advantage of all these mobility options as a whole, integrated service. People have to call a cab, use a computer to sign up for a carshare program, buy a ticket for public transportation, and?importantly?pay to use all these different conveyances separately.
Enter the innovators: forward-thinking companies, progressive local governments, and even car manufacturers who recognize that driving may not always be the best way to get around. Many are stepping into this space to develop integrated applications that let individuals plan their trip from point A to point B by selecting one or many of the options above and paying for the whole trip in a single transaction. If executed successfully, an innovative approach that utilizes existing transportation infrastructure could negate the need for personal car ownership and sidestep politically charged battles over federal transportation spending and taxes.
Simply encouraging politicians to have an “adult” conversation with Americans about our unsustainable use of oil, as Mr. Salzman writes, won’t move the needle in the near term. Instead, its time for enterprising, innovative businesses and organizations to step up to the plate and start capturing the dozens, if not hundreds, of transportation-related business opportunities available today.
Greg Rucks is a consultant and Jesse Morris is an analyst with the Rocky Mountain Institute. This piece was originally published at RMI’s blog and was re-printed with permission.
Last week, I noted Glenn Greenwald’s piece on the ongoing troubles that Laura Poitras, a documentarian who’s chronicled the lives of people impacted by the American War on Terror, has had with Homeland Security, which has repeatedly detained her and confiscated her equipment on her return to the U.S. after reporting trips. But she’s not alone. Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan was just detained for the second time by immigration officials on his way into the United States, this time to give a lecture at Yale:
Khan’s arrival for his Yale lecture – preceded by a brief press conference – was delayed by over three hours. The actor did not comment as to why he was detained but before he began his Yale address, Khan smiled and took a witty dig at the incident, ?It was nice, as it always happens… Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself I always take a trip to America. The immigration guys kick the star out of stardom.? Known for his characteristic humor, Khan further added, ?They (immigration officials) always ask me how tall I am and I always lie and say 5 feet 10 inches. Next time I am going to get more adventurous. (If they ask me) what colour are you, I am going to say white.?
You might think that one of the advantages of integrating all of the government’s security functions into a single bureaucracy with unified databases might be that, when you wrongly detain and question someone, you could put a note in their file to so immigration officials who deal with this person in the future know to be polite and careful, and try not to repeat those same mistakes. Hassling artists because they’re brown, or because they question the outcomes of U.S. policy is not an efficient and effective way to ensure the security of America, or to win supporters for American policy.
As the presidential campaign has become embroiled in “mommy wars,” a passage from Mitt Romney’s autobiography sheds more light on what seems to be his bifurcated prescription for mothers.
For most women, Romney maintains that a choice to work or to stay at home with the kids should be regarded as equally valid, his campaign made clear last week. But for poor women who receive government assistance, staying home is not an option — they should work. Video recovered yesterday shows that Romney said in January that he wants to “increase the work requirement” for mothers who receive welfare. “Those parents [need] to go back to work,” he explained.
A passage from Romney’s book, No Apology: The Case For American Greatness, elaborates on this. In it, he argues that children of “nonworking parents” will be conditioned to have “an indolent and unproductive life:”
In some quarters, however, the American work ethic is waning. Some people devote themselves to find ways not to work. Some seem to take a perverse kind of pride in being slipshod or lackadaisical. In many cases, where our work culture has deteriorated, shortsighted government policies share a good part of the blame.
Welfare without work erodes the spirit and the sense of self-worth of the recipient. And it conditions the children of nonworking parents to an indolent and unproductive life. Hardworking parents raise hardworking kids; we should recognize that the opposite is also true. The influence of the work habits of our parents and other adults around us as we grow up has lasting impact.
While Romney’s sentiment is understandable and common among conservatives, it doesn’t fit easily with his view that all ?all moms are working moms.” He’s quoted in Michael Kranish and Scott Helman’s book The Real Romney as saying motherhood is its own profession. ?It?s one which is challenging, it?s demanding,? he said. ?It requires being a psychologist, a psychoanalyst, an engineer, a teacher,? he added.
If nonworking mothers on welfare produce “indolent and unproductive” children, then why doesn’t the same hold true for other women?
No one is questioning the difficulty or value of motherhood, but many critics have pointed out that while Romney’s wife was able to devote herself full time to the work of the house, other women must juggle both home life and a job to supplement their partners’ incoming. Meanwhile, millions of other mothers — including a disproportionate number on welfare — have to do all of this on their own, without a partner.