With Republicans across the country pushing new photo ID requirements to vote this November, the Brennan Center for Justice has put out a new report that highlights the problems many low income Americans could face simply trying to obtain an ID to[...]
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Inside Romney's decision to go Full Breitbart on Obama....[...]
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By happenstance, Sens Durbin and Levin are pushing a new bill to force candidates to disclose their offshore tax havens....[...]
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While Alaska consistently votes Republican in presidential elections, the state's political instincts are more idiosyncratic than the hyperpartisan image of its most famous governor.
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The legislation would require certain tax-exempt groups involved in political advertising — which currently are not required to disclose the names of their donors — to release the names of those who give donations of $10,000 or more. A similar vote Monday ended with the same result. – Senate Republicans block DISCLOSE Act for second straight day
THE DISCLOSE ACT is something on which everyone should agree, especially in the post Citizens United era. That it received a majority in the Senate, 51-44, but didn’t pass, is par for the filibuster course.
It goes to the heart of the column I did last week on the “social welfare” scam by Karl Rove, the Koch Bros, and groups like 60 Plus. These groups operating what amounts to slush funds of millionaire donations, who can remain anonymous, is why the Obama administration, and Democrats, separately, have filed complaints against them.
?What really frightens me is not just the disastrous nature of Citizens United, but the whole trend that we are seeing lately, economically etc., of moving this country toward an oligarchic form of government. What you have right now is incredibly unequal distribution of wealth and income,? Sanders says, going on to note that ?the Walton family of Walmart itself owns more wealth ? one family ? than the bottom 40 percent of the American people.? He continues, ?You?ve got that reality out there, and then what?s happening now ? what Citizens United is about ? is these guys are not content to own the economy, to own the wealth of America, they now want to own lock, stock and barrel the political process as well.? – “Viewpoint,” with Eliot Spitzer [Current TV]
What Sen. Sanders reports about the health of the Walton Family of Wal-Mart (see video) will leave your jaw on the floor.
Statement on Republicans blocking the DISCLOSE Act from the League of Women Voters:
Voters deserve to know origins of secret money in elections
Washington, DC (July 17, 2012) ? Twice this week, the U.S. Senate refused to allow full debate on the DISCLOSE Act, which would require complete disclosure of spending on big-money advertising in candidate elections. Twice, the Senate failed to invoke cloture, the procedural motion that requires 60 votes before the Senate can even consider legislation.
?Huge sums of secret money are flooding into our elections, and without full disclosure the voters won?t know who is trying to buy influence,? said Elisabeth MacNamara, national President of the League of Women Voters. ?Secret money should have no place in our elections, but we all know it is there, drowning out the voices of everyday Americans.?
?Twice this week, our elected leaders in Washington, the men and women who had the power and opportunity to help, failed to take up the DISCLOSE Act. They decided that they didn?t even want to debate this important issue,? MacNamara said. ?Instead of talking about how they could help voters understand where all of this secret money is coming from, they decided to kill the bill without any debate. This is a sad day for voters and America?s democracy.?
?The League supports the DISCLOSE Act of 2012 because we believe that Americans deserve all the information they can get before they vote,? said MacNamara. ?The DISCLOSE Act builds on disclosure requirements already approved by the Supreme Court in Citizens United when it said that disclosure is important to ?providing the electorate with information.??
?The League and its partners in the voting rights community will continue to push for passage of DISCLOSE because secret campaign money undermines the role of the voter and corrupts the election process. Tell us where the money is coming from and let the voters decide. The DISCLOSE Act is an important step towards eliminating secret money,? concluded MacNamara.
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In a recent interview, George W. Bush fondly recalled his eight-year presidency as "awesome," but said he wasn't eager to get back into public life.
"I really don't want to be in the public eye anymore," the former president told the Hoover Institute?s Peter Robinson in an interview posted to YouTube on Tuesday.
"Look, eight years was awesome," Bush explained. "You know, I was famous and I was powerful, but I have no desire for fame and power anymore."
"I don't want to undermine our president -- whoever is president," he added. "And a former president can do that. And I think it's bad for the presidency itself."
"I have found that life after the presidency is awesome."
Bush left office in 2009 with a 22 percent approval rate, making him one of history's least-liked presidents, according to CBS News. In all, 73 percent said they did not approve of the way he ran the country for eight years.
(h/t: Political Wire)
Few people with any sense have spent much time in the last decade or two looking for political acumen from Monday morning political quarterback Charlie Cook. But if you happen to pass it at just the right time even a stopped clock can tell you what time it is a couple times a day. And this week Charlie had one of those moments, confused as usual, but successfully explaining to National Journal readers how badly Romney has already botched his campaign by letting Obama define him. Americans see Romney as a thoroughly untrustworthy, two-dimensional cartoon character, a cross between a Dickens villain and Thurston Howell III... and, more recently (and unforgivably) a wimp, a crybaby and completely ineffectual. As Josh Marshall notes, ?the Obama camp has backed Romney into a position in which he looks ridiculous--something much more lethal for presidential candidates than most people appreciate.? David Frum adds that on policy matters, ?at every point, Romney has surrendered to the fringe of his party.? The danger for Romney is that voters won?t parse these episodes but will instead conclude, based on their overall impression of his squealing and inability to get results, that Romney is a wimp.
Voters seem perfectly open to the option of firing the president, but the Obama camp has given voters-- specifically in swing states where wall-to-wall advertising is running-- reason to hesitate about hiring Romney. Puzzlingly, the Romney campaign has offered very little to build up its candidate as a real human being, someone of character who?s worthy of being entrusted with the Oval Office.
The strategic decision by the Romney campaign not to define him personally-- not to inoculate him from inevitable attacks-- seems a perverse one. Given his campaign?s ample financial resources, the decision not to run biographical or testimonial ads, in effect to do nothing to establish him as a three-dimensional person, has left him open to the inevitable attacks for his work at Bain Capital, on outsourcing, and on his investments. It?s all rather inexplicable. Aside from a single spot aired in the spring by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, not one personal positive ad has been aired on Romney?s behalf. The view that any day or dollar spent on talking about anything other than the economy is a waste has been taken to such an extreme that Romney has no positive definition other than that of being a rich, successful, and presumably smart businessman. People see and feel the reasons for firing Obama every day in the economic statistics and the struggle that so many Americans face daily. The Romney campaign seems focused on reinforcing a message that hardly needs reinforcing, while ignoring a clear and immediate danger to its own candidate?s electability.
The attacks on Bain, outsourcing, and his investments are sticking to Romney like Velcro, and it?s hard to see how that will change until he picks his running mate. Romney has lost control of the debate and the dialogue. Instead of voters focusing on the economy, they are now hearing about investments and accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, as well as about outsourcing and layoffs.
...It would appear that a certain overconfidence has built up in the Romney camp, a smugness that would appear to come from beating an incredibly weak group of underfinanced, poorly organized rivals. In a couple of cases, these included candidates whose campaigns couldn?t even manage to get their names on the ballot in the state in which they were legal residents (Virginia). Maybe it won?t matter, maybe the economy is so lousy and unlikely to improve that voters will opt to fire Obama after all. But this election is starting to look enough like 2004 that Karl Rove should be demanding royalties from the Obama campaign, and others may conclude that no presidential campaign should ever again be based in Boston.
Even before his choice of VP, GOP strategists have their Great White Hope in modified crouch, a version of the 2008 Sarah Palin strategy: keeping him under cover while furors over Bain Capital and his tax returns have Mitt Romney reeling on the defensive.
He surfaces this week only twice, in Ohio and New Hampshire, then goes into hiding before a trip to Israel, England and Poland, where he can blame Obama for worldwide economic woes while ducking questions about his own.
All this recalls what Joe Louis, the fabled Brown Bomber of the 1930s, said about one of his nimble foes while defending his title against bum-of-the-month contenders, ?He can run, but he can?t hide.?
As Romney?s campaign falters and tries to run out the long clock, it becomes clear that withholding his tax returns beyond the most recent two years will cut into their man?s credibility both ways.
If he refuses to reveal more, some voters will assume the worst. If he caves in and finally agrees, the opposition will be able to pick apart his doublespeak about blind trusts.
Back when Joe Louis was being patronized as ?a credit to his race,? some admirers were insisting that it was more about the human race.
Will it be again this year?
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GOP ad grants voters permission
to vote against President ObamaThis is a pretty interesting contrast: On the one hand you've got the RNC's new independent expenditure unit putting up a new ad granting voters permission to vote against President Obama ...
In a campaign fast growing nasty, the Republican National Committee is trying a gentler approach. President Barack Obama tried to fix the economy, says an ad running in seven battleground states, then tells viewers: "It's OK to make a change." [...]... and on the other hand you have the Romney campaign itself promising a nastier tone:
The RNC ad is "geared to independent voters, especially women, who are disappointed in Obama and about the economy, but who still like him and are sort of pulling for him," said Charlie Black, an informal adviser to the Romney campaign who was not involved with the commercial.
It lacks a "mean tone," he said, yet focuses on Obama's economic record, which is at the core of the GOP attempt to defeat him.
In speeches from Des Moines to Dallas, Romney has always been careful to hedge his tough digs at Obama with a civil nod toward the president's moral character: "He's a nice guy," the Republican has often said. "He just has no idea how the private economy works." But Tuesday's speech included no such hedge ? and one campaign adviser said there's a reason for that.And with that promise to be nastier, Mean Mitt emerged in fine form yesterday. The day started with Romney surrogate John Sununu calling the president a pothead socialist foreigner who needs to "learn how to be an American" and ended with Romney making up something that the president said in order to accuse him of being against Steve Jobs. This isn't entirely new, though: Last week, a new Romney ad declared the president to be a liar.
"[Romney] has said Obama's a nice fellow, he's just in over his head," the adviser said.
"But I think the governor himself believes this latest round of attacks that have impugned his integrity and accused him of being a felon go so far beyond that pale that he's really disappointed. He believes it's time to vet the president. He really hasn't been vetted; McCain didn't do it."
Whatever you think about the relative merits of each approach, the Mean Mitt message is obviously at odds with the softer tone of the RNC's new ad?and it turns out the gap between the two messages illustrates why Mitt Romney's financial edge won't be as big an advantage as pundits initially thought.
The key thing here is that both Romney's campaign and the RNC's independent unit are funded by the same source, the Romney Victory Fund. When you hear that Romney raised $100 million in a month, that's not his campaign, it's the victory fund. Individuals are allowed to give up to $75,000 each to the fund, but only $5,000 of that can go directly to the Romney campaign itself. The rest of the money goes to the RNC and affiliated committees. Because Romney's fundraising is so top heavy, coming from donors contributing more than $5,000 each, that's where much of his money goes. (We won't have current figures on the precise allocations until Friday.)
So how does the money that goes to the RNC and its affiliated campaigns get spent? Well, it turns out that Romney is allowed to directly coordinate with the RNC on some of that spending, but the limit is $21 million. Anything above that level needs to be run through an independent expenditure committee which is not legally allowed to coordinate with Romneyland. The RNC announced the independent unit last week, and that's the entity responsible for the "softer touch" ad.
Assuming that they actually follow the law, the implication of this is that while Romney may be able to outraise President Obama from here on out, the money he gets will be less useful on a dollar for dollar basis. In theory, it's better to have a $10 million ad buy than a $7 million ad buy, but if your ad buy is split into two $5 million campaigns with conflicting messages, you're probably going to be worse off than if you'd just spent less on a coordinated campaign.
Moreover, candidate committees qualify for lower ad rates than party committees. So not only will Obama have a more coordinated message than Romney, every dollar he spends will buy more in advertising than Romney. In the end, Romney will certainly outspend Obama. But he probably won't get more value.
Scotland recently held a public comment period of the issue of same-sex marriage, and one of the conclusions from that consultation is that the country will not hold a referendum limiting marriage to heterosexual couples, disappointing anti-gay activists. However, the government also continues to stall on whether it will actually pursue marriage equality, as it has suggested. First Minister Alex Salmond maintains his support for the freedom to marry, as do 64 person of all Scots, as two separate polls found last month.