I challenge you, dear reader, to go over this NYT hit piece on Julian Assange and see if any mention is made of the following key and pertinent facts.[...]
Read The Full Article:
Who else could be Mitt Romney's running mate?Earlier this week the Boston Globe detailed Paul Ryan's efforts to get funding for his district from President Obama's stimulus program. He voted against the stimulus, and called it a "wasteful spending spree," but ended up getting millions for Wisconsin organizations and businesses after sending multiple letters to the administration appealing for the money.
But it gets so much better. Just months after he sent all those letters and secured that funding, Ryan said it never happened.
On October 28, 2010, after the Wisconsin Republican penned at least five letters to two federal departments seeking grants under the Obama administration?s economic recovery package, Ryan responded to a caller on WBZ?s Nightside with Dan Rea who asked if he sought any of the money. Ryan said that he would not vote against something ?then write to the government to ask them to send us money.? [...]It was destiny. Mitt Romney has found the perfect match for his Etch A Sketch campaign.
?I assume you voted against the stimulus,? caller began. ?I?m just curious if you accepted any money in your district.?
?No, I'm not gonna vote [against] something then write letters to the government to send us money,? Ryan responded. ?I did not request any stimulus money.?
Setting the tone. (Bush Sr. and Lee Atwater)Dana Milbank:
Forgive me, but I?m not prepared to join this walk down Great Umbrage Street just yet. Yes, it?s ugly out there. But is this worse than four years ago, when Obama was accused by the GOP vice presidential nominee of ?palling around with terrorists?? Or eight years ago, when Democratic nominee John Kerry was accused of falsifying his Vietnam War record?Bullies don't like it when their targets punch back, which is why the GOP is apoplectic right now. I mean, their reaction to Biden's "chains" thing is comically hysterical. And Mitt Romney is genuinely unhinged.
What?s different this time is that the Democrats are employing the same harsh tactics that have been used against them for so long, with so much success. They have ceased their traditional response of assuming the fetal position when attacked, and Obama?s campaign is giving as good as it gets ? and then some.
I'm not sure why Republicans think that crying and whining about the big bad meanie Democrats is such a political winner. It never worked when Democrats tried it (just ask John Kerry).
Of course, the media punditry getting the vapors was nowhere to be found when Romney systematically mowed down his primary opposition. Or, for that matter, for decades of GOP smear campaigning. It wasn't the media who called out Lee Atwater for his "naked cruelty" against Michael Dukakis in 1988. It was Lee Atwater himself.
But let them kvetch on their fainting couches. We finally have Democrats who have learned from a long line of Republican no-holds-barred strategists?from Atwater to Karl Rove. And if there's one thing that bullies hate most, it's being on the receiving end of their own tactics.
It?s hard to overstate the muddled message Republicans have had on Medicare since Paul Ryan joined the ticket last weekend. As soon as the announcement was official, Team Romney issued talking points distancing their nominee from Ryan?s budget, including his plan for Medicare. On Monday, however, Romnney took the opposite approach, telling crowds in Miami he was on the ?same page? as Ryan.
The next day, Romney changed course again with an ad that hit Obama for Medicare cuts in the Affordable Care Act. The health care bill reduces Medicare spending by $700 billion, which is used to bolster prescription drug coverage, provide preventative care for seniors, and extend Medicare's solvency. The problem: Those cuts are also included in the Ryan budget?though they're used to pay for upper-income tax cuts, and not better care for seniors. If Romney is on the same page as his running mate, then he has to embrace the cuts. If he doesn't, then there?s an area of real disagreement.
Today, the message shifted yet again. Romney appeared to accept the cuts, telling a local news interviewer that his plan for Medicare is nearly identical to Ryan?s:
Team Romney is trying to turn Medicare into an advantage for the GOP, but it?s hard to imagine a way that can work. If they continue on the current route and attack Obama for his Medicare cuts, they open themselves to the fact that?by returning to the pre-Obamacare status quo?they will reduce Medicare?s solvency by eight years. Under Romney?s plan, the trust fund would go dry in 2016, instead of the current date of 2024.
On the other hand, if Romney doubles-down on Ryan?s plan, he opens himself to the accurate charge that he?s cutting benefits for seniors. Yes, the Ryan plan preserves traditional Medicare for anyone 55 or older, and keeps it alive as a public alternative to purchasing insurance on a private market (akin to the ?public option? that failed to survive the fight over health care reform). But by repealing Obamacare, Ryan raises costs for prescription drugs, and ends preventative care for seniors.
The public option for Medicare sounds like a sensible idea until you consider the prospect of an adverse selection problem: Healthy seniors opt for cheaper private plans, and the sickest stick with traditional Medicare. Eventually, the public option would collapse under the weight of the high costs generated by its small pool of sick beneficiaries.
Thanks to Ryan, Team Romney is stuck talking about Medicare. But they don?t have a winning message, or any way to change the subject for more than a few days at a time. Indeed, the more they talk about it, the worse they sound. In what could become a John Kerry-esque ?I was for it before I was against it? moment, Paul Ryan argued today that he only supported Medicare cuts because they were already in the budget:
First of all, those are in the baseline, he put those cuts in. Second of all, we voted to repeal Obamacare repeatedly, including those cuts. I voted that way before the budget, I voted that way after the budget. So when you repeal all of Obamacare what you end up doing is that repeals that as well. In our budget we?ve restored a lot of that. It gets a little wonky but it was already in the baseline. We would never have done it in the first place. We voted to repeal the whole bill. I just don?t think the president?s going to be able to get out of the fact that he took $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare."
As is often said in politics, if you?re explaining, you?re losing.
Of course, it could be worse. We could be grilling Romney on Medicare and talking about his tax returns, or lack thereof.Healthcare reform in the United StatesHealthGovernmentMedicareUnited States National Health Care ActMedicare Prescription DrugImprovementand Modernization ActMedicare+ChoiceSocial Issues
Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
The Family Research Council shooting story, in which a guard was wounded while he and others stopped the shooter continues to develop. Not surprisingly, a part of the focus from some on the Religious Right has been pointing the accusatory finger at the Southern Poverty Law Center and LGBT organizations for naming FRC a ?hate group.?
Floyd Lee Corkins of Herndon, VA., 28 years old, was arrested at the scene. To this point, the only indication of motive provided by authorities are comments Corkins allegedly made against FRC?s anti-LGBT positions. There has been no indication of his own sexual orientation.
First and foremost: violence is wrong.
As Alvin McEwen writes at Pam?s Houseblend:
Shooting at the Family Research Council ? ALL violence (physical and spiritual) must be condemned
… a 28-year-old man came in pretending to be an intern. On his person, he had two guns. The security guard fought him and kept him from fully using these guns, at the expense of getting wounded.
According to reports, the young man committed this act because he disagreed with the Family Research Council?s anti-gay stance.
First of all, let me say that I totally condemn what this young man did. Violence is never the answer. The security guard, who is in stable condition, is also in my prayers. He is a hero for what he did. Finally, I am glad that the situation did not get worse.
However, let me also say that while I condemn physical violence, I also condemn spiritual violence.
And in that respect, something must be said about the Family Research Council.
This is a very unusual position for the LGBT communities, to have someone use violence as a way of, supposedly, condemning the FRC?s anti-LGBT policies. Everything I?ve read is similar to what McEwen writes: the violence is condemned. But the actions of this one man are no more representative of the vast majority of LGBT people than are the actions of any one of the heterosexual men who have committed mass shootings representative of all heterosexuals. And as McEwen mentions, as wrong as Corkin?s actions were, they don?t remove the judgmental, and yes, hateful, words that routinely come from FRC, National Organization for Marriage, and others.
Zack Ford, at Think Progress:
Understanding ?Hate? In The Wake Of The Family Research Council Shooting
Wednesday?s shooting at the Family Research Council was a tragedy, and the wounded security guard and others who put themselves in harm?s way to overpower the shooter are indeed heroes. But how conservatives have responded in the shooting?s wake is incredibly disconcerting, an attempt to appropriate a tragedy to cover up the harm caused by their anti-gay views. As FRC readies its ?Religious Liberty Under Fire? campaign, the National Organization for Marriage?s Brian Brown has offered the most flagrant response, claiming that the use of the term ?hate group? is an invitation to violence:
BROWN: ?… For too long national gay rights groups have intentionally marginalized and ostracized pro-marriage groups and individuals by labeling them as ?hateful? and ?bigoted? ? such harmful and dangerous labels deserve no place in our civil society and NOM renews its call today for gay rights groups and the Southern Poverty Law Center to withdraw such incendiary rhetoric from a debate that involves millions of good Americans.?
As Ford points out, if Corkins attacked FRC based on their religious beliefs, or on the basis of their ?heterosexuality,? then that could be a hate crime, and should be investigated as such. But even then, FRC?s history is such that the ?hate group? designation is well earned. Ford:
The Southern Poverty Law Center defines ?hate groups? as those organizations whose beliefs or practices ?attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.? Groups like FRC do just that, spreading lies to the public about the supposed harms of homosexuality and lobbying against LGBT equality. In fact, members of FRC have publicly supported ?criminal sanctions? against people just for being gay. By advocating for hetero-supremacy in society, groups like FRC own the identity of ?bigot? through their outspoken intolerance and the classification of ?hate group? through their actions.
At AmericaBlogGay, John Aravosis, writes:
Does the shooting at the Family Research Council exonerate the group?s 20 years of hate?
… Conservatives, such as CNN?s Erick Erickson, are already trying to tie Democrats to the attack. Why? Because people on the left had the audacity to challenge the Family Research Council?s decades of hateful and bigoted attacks against gay and lesbian Americans. And other conservatives are calling for the Southern Poverty Law Center to no longer list the FRC as a hate group because of today?s violence. That would be wrong.
Because of conservatives trying to take political advantage of the shooting I?m now forced to recap just how hateful and bigoted an organization the Family Research Council really is. I?d have preferred to have avoided that this so soon after the attack, but conservatives leave us no choice.
Aravosis provides an overview of some of the reasons the ?hate group? designation is appropriate, including: endorsing imprisonment of LGBTs; stating that LGBT children are ?abnormal,? and LGBTs are ?destructive to society,? and are ?pedophiles.?
Go here for the SPLC report on FRC.
About FRC?s actions since the shooting, this from Good As You:
FRC readying a ?Religious Liberty Under Fire? campaign
The campaign has not been launched, but the stand-in page (with mostly dummy text and dead links) went up on FRC?s domain over night. I really hope the ?under fire? language is not a veiled reference to anything … .
Here?s a link to FRC?s Religious Liberty Under Fire Campaign.
Finally, here?s something I very much appreciate, and encourage you to check out. Via Box Turtle Bulletin, ?41 LGBT Advocacy Groups Jointly Condemn FRC Shooting.?
Click here to view this media
Fox News co-host Eric Bolling on Wednesday asserted that President Barack Obama's health care reform law could "literally" kill people.
During a segment about Medicare on Fox News' The Five, co-host Dana Perino asked Bolling if Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan should do more interviews to explain that GOP hopeful Mitt Romney's plan would give seniors a choice of using private insurance.
"Absolutely not," Bolling insisted. "I spent the better part of all day trying to figure out the [Romney] plan and I'll tell you, here's what I found out. I'm not sure it's going to work. I'm not sure because it's not a mandatory switch over from the defined benefits to the defined contributions."
But the conservative Fox News co-host did have some advice for how Romney and Ryan could push back against the Obama campaign's argument that the GOP hopeful's plan would end Medicare as it exists today.
"It has to be laid out this way: Either you have Obamacare or you don't," Bolling explained. "Because Obamacare literally may kill you."
"I mean, you can say Mitt Romney did kill [people with layoffs by Bain Capital] -- this could kill you because of the independent panel," he added. "That board is going to be a big problem. We have bureaucrats deciding what's fiscally is responsible, which operations you can [have]."
"That's not true," liberal co-host Bob Beckel argued.
"Yes, they are," Bolling replied. "When you're sick, there is no amount of money that you wouldn't be willing to pay to feel better. Now, you're going to have someone else deciding what's good or not good, and whether it's worth the money for them to spend."
In 2009, PolitiFact awarded former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) the the "lie of the year" for her claim that the Affordable Care Act would establish so-called "death panels."
A fact check by The Associated Press determined that "Palin and other critics are wrong" that the health care bill would create a "death panel."
"Nothing in the legislation would carry out such a bleak vision," the AP wrote. "The provision that has caused the uproar would instead authorize Medicare to pay doctors for counseling patients about end-of-life care, if the patient wishes."
Mitt Romney offered a white board presentation during a news briefing in South Carolina on Thursday morning that sought to untangle the campaign’s contradictory message about Medicare. Over the last week, Romney and Ryan have twisted themselves into a pretzel to attack President Obama for ?stealing? $716 billion from Medicare, while trying to explain why Paul Ryan included the savings in his FY 2013 budget. Romney had previously pledged to sign the document into law.
During the presentation, Romney tried to lay out the differences. Obama takes the money out of seniors’ Medicare Advantage plans and cuts payments to providers, causing some to lose his coverage, he argued. The program’s trust fund would go bankrupt by 2024, under Obama, and seniors would lose access to the care they need. His plan, alternatively, would preserve the program for current retirees and keep it solvent indefinitely.
ThinkProgress explains why this is wrong:
The Obamacare savings slow the growth of Medicare over the next decade by, in part: eliminating overpayments to private insurers in Medicare Advantage, reforming provider payments to encourage greater efficiency, tying reimbursements to improvements in economic productivity, and reducing fraud and abuse. The law does not impact patient benefits.
As a result of these savings, ?growth in spending will be restrained” and the life of the Medicare trust fund is expanded by eight years, the government estimates. Sixteen million seniors are also benefiting from the savings by receiving preventive benefits without deductibles or co-pays and saving more than $3.9 billion on prescription drugs.
Should Romney restore the $716 billion — and unless he institutes other yet to be specified reforms — we would move back to the old system of overpaying private insurers and providers. He’d be re-inserting inefficiency back into the system, jeopardizing the benefits that seniors are currently enjoying, and shrinking the solvency of the Medicare trust fund from 2024 under current law to 2016.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Wednesday that all 88 boards of election in the state must restrict early voting hours to weekdays. The uniform hours were decided in the wake of outcry over the disparity between restricted hours in Democratic-leaning counties and expanded hours in Republican-leaning counties.
All early voting locations will now be open Tuesday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm through October 12th, then Monday through Friday from 8 am to 7 pm through November 1st. Because weekend voting hours have been eliminated, all voting must end Friday, November 2nd at 6 pm.
By decreeing this new rule, Husted complicates the Obama campaign’s lawsuit over a new law barring all but military families the right to vote in the three days leading up to the election. While the Obama campaign wanted to restore that right to everyone, Husted’s decision means no one, including military voters, can vote during this period.
Husted, a Republican, scoffed at the “political hysteria” and “partisan controversy” surrounding the differing schedules, saying, “It has been in law and in tradition in Ohio that local Boards of Elections have established their own voting hours.”
But the break with tradition was of Husted’s own making; when the local committees in Cuyahoga, Summit, Lucas, and Franklin counties gridlocked over expanding hours, the Secretary of State stepped in to deny the expansion. These counties contain Ohio’s most populous and diverse cities: Cleveland, Toledo, Akron, and Columbus, which all went to Obama in 2008. 82% of early voters in Franklin County and 50% of Cuyahoga County voters voted on nights or weekends. Republican territories Warren and Butler Counties, meanwhile, approved expanded hours, as they had in the 2008 election.
Lynn Kinkaid, Director of the Butler County Board of Elections, told ThinkProgress they expanded hours “to give every citizen the ability to vote” and recalled long lines of voters on weekends during the 2008 election. But he personally agreed with Husted’s directive to limit hours, noting the strain on staff and county budgets that can’t afford to pay overtime for weekend pollworkers. However, the county has asked the Secretary of State’s office to allow them to stay open on Columbus Day, which the new directive prohibits.
The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office is threatening local medical marijuana dispensaries with steep fines and potential jail time unless they close their doors by September 6. City officials recently sent a letter to over 1,000 locations where they believe medical marijuana shops are operating, as well as over 700 landlords who own the properties, to inform them they will incur a $2,500 fine for each day they remain open past the September deadline.
Although California passed a ballot initiative in 1996 allowing physicians to recommend and patients to possess marijuana, the L.A. City Council voted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries last month. This letter is an early step in the city’s attempt to enforce the ban and close down nearly 800 dispensaries that are currently operating in Los Angeles.
Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, noted that since there are already several measures in the works to overturn the city ban on medical marijuana facilities — collecting enough signatures would force a referendum, and the state Supreme Court may take up the issue — it is hard to know how to respond to the city’s harsh crackdown:
But the city’s effort places the dispensary operators in an uncomfortable position, Hermes said.
“We don’t have a clear-cut response for them on what’s going on,” Hermes said. “It would be imprudent to tell them to stay open. But at the same time, there is all this other activity going on that could change the situation in a matter of weeks.”
Medical marijuana shops are struggling to remain open in other California cities as well. The world’s largest medical marijuana dispensary, Harborside Health Center, is facing pressure from the Justice Department to close its Oakland and San Jose facilities amid a federal crackdown against state-based marijuana shops.
Although marijuana is prohibited under federal law, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, and nine additional states are considering legalizing it by the end of this year. An unprecedented majority of Americans now support marijuana legalization, and a bipartisan bill was recently introduced in the House to protect medical marijuana operations that are abiding by state law from federal interference.
In just three decades, the price of a college degree has skyrocketed 1,120 percent, according to a report from Bloomberg News. That rate of change is higher than medical care, food, and shelter:
As costs for college rise, the number of people dropping out before they receive a degree grows, even as many of those dropouts have already accrued debt. And the problem will likely get worse, since all indications are that the cost of college will continue to climb. Indeed, a degree would cost around $422,000 for children born today, if current trends hold.