Since the Todd Akin affair entered the national conversation, many commentators?myself included?have noted the extent to which Akin?s views are in line with the mainstream of the Republican Party, and nearly identical to ones held by Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential nominee. This video, unearthed by Buzzfeed?s Andrew Kaczynski, illustrates the point. In it, a younger Ryan denounces a women?s health provision that was included in a bill to ban ?partial-birth? abortion. Exceptions to the ban, he argues, would make it ?meaningless?:
If you live in a swing state, don?t be surprised if this video appears with a short endorsement from President Obama.
More seriously, if there?s anything that places you on the radical end of the abortion debate, it?s opposition to measures meant to save mothers from dying as a result of pregnancies gone wrong. Indeed, this is actually the least of Ryan?s anti-abortion extremism. During his 12-year career in the House of Representatives, Ryan has endorsed several measures that would ban abortion and greatly restrict women?s access to reproductive health care, even if their health is in immediate danger. At Mother Jones, Kate Sheppard provides a helpful list. Here are the more egregious examples:
The Sanctity of Human Life Act: This bill would have written into law that zygotes are legal people from the moment of conception. Like other, similar bills, it grants fertilized eggs the same rights as adult humans, and would make in-vitro fertilization and some forms of contraception the legal equivalents of murder.
The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act: This 2012 bill would ban abortions in the capital after 20 weeks gestation. It failed in the House on July 31.
Ryan also voted for the ?Protect Life Act,? which would have allowed hospitals receiving federal funds to deny abortions to women?or withhold referrals to other hospitals?even if doing so would jeopardize their lives.
It?s almost unfair that Todd Akin is the new national symbol of anti-abortion extremism; compared to Ryan, he?s almost a squish. Akin received a 90 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee during one of his six terms. Ryan has maintained a 100 percent rating throughout the same period.
I said this yesterday, and it?s worth repeating: there is no daylight between Todd Akin and anyone within the Republican Party leadership. The GOP?s clear aim is to outlaw abortion, and it will do as much as possible to move the country to that point. If you want to know what that world looks like, it?s not hard to find examples.Human rightsAbortionPro-life movementFertilityGynecologyAbortion in the United StatesPro-choiceSocial IssuesPolitics
Yesterday I laid out how Richard Miniter, author of the new anti-Obama book Leading From Behind, mixes up dates to allege that President Obama was slow to act on intelligence regarding Osama bin Laden's whereabouts. Today we'll look at how Miniter lies about the president's legislative successes during the 2010 lame-duck session, claiming that Obama's agenda for that period (the vast majority of which was approved) failed in Congress.
On pages 84-85, Miniter writes about the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections and faults Obama for presenting an "ambitious" and "unrealistic" legislative agenda for the lame-duck session. Miniter says Obama's "timing and strategy were ill-considered" and that his legislative proposals were "dead on arrival" with the "exhausted" Congress:
Obama seemed strangely upbeat. The day after the midterm elections, the president convened a meeting with his senior staff.
While they saw clouds, he saw the sun through them. Democrats still ran both houses of Congress until January 3, 2011, when the new session convened. To the surprise of some staffers present, he enumerated an ambitious list of measures that he would like to see made law in the next sixty days: "a tax deal, extending unemployment benefits, ratification of New START treaty reducing nuclear arms, repeal of the Pentagon's Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy preventing gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military, passage of the DREAM Act (which would grant citizenship to undocumented young adults who met certain requirements), and a children's nutrition bill advocated by Michelle Obama."
The list was unrealistic. It would have been a demanding agenda for Congress to accomplish over two years, let alone two months.
Still, Obama was keen to proceed as planned. He was finally going to lead, but the timing and strategy were ill-considered.
"Obama didn't care about the criticism that he was too insular," a White House aide said. "He didn't give a shit."
Obama's proposals were dutifully sent to Capitol Hill, but most were essentially dead on arrival. Congress was exhausted and didn't want to take any more political risks.
A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court, voting 2-1 on partisan lines, has struck down the EPA’s “good neighbor” air pollution rule, which attempted to protect Eastern states from upwind pollution from Midwest and Southern states[...]
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Ryan and Romney launch the USS DisinformationThis is as close as the AP is going to get to calling Mitt Romney a liar and race-baiter, but while it doesn't go there, it sure lays out a good case.
MIDLAND, Texas (AP) - Mitt Romney claims he's got a winner with his criticism that President Barack Obama is giving welfare recipients a free ride. Never mind that aspects of his argument against the Democrat are factually inaccurate. [...]Republican strategist Greg Mueller certainly lays out the strategy that way: "It's a huge advantage issue for Romney. [...] It cuts right through, beyond the Republican base, to independents and blue-collar Democrats." In other words, to white, working-class voters whom they want to convince Obama is stealing something from in order to redistribute it to the "welfare queens" and "young bucks." It's a strategy as old as Ronald Reagan's and Richard Nixon's mouldering remains.
[...] Numerous independent fact-checkers, including The Associated Press, have determined that Romney and his surrogates are distorting the facts. [...]
But that criticism has done little to persuade Romney and his aides to abandon the welfare issue or even tweak its assertions. [...]
It could open Romney up to criticism that he is injecting race into the campaign and seeking to boost support among white, working-class voters by charging that the nation's first black president is offering a free pass to recipients of a program stereotypically associated with poor African-Americans.
There's a reason Romney is going to stick with this strategy, no matter how many fact-checkers and news organizations all but call him a liar. He needs white voters and isn't getting enough of them. From the new NBC/WSJ poll:
Romney is underperforming with white voters. According to the survey, Romney leads Obama among this demographic group by 13 points (53%-40%), but that isn?t much different than McCain?s 12-point edge in 2008 per the exit polls (55%-43%) -- and McCain decisively lost the election. [...] If Romney is going to win in November, he needs to EXPAND those margins. And here?s why: If you assume that whites make up 74% of the electorate like they did in ?08 (and there?s a good argument to make that, because of the Latino growth, it will be less than that), then Obama winning 90%-plus of the black vote, 67% of the Latino vote, and 40% of the white vote gets him past 50%.The big issues this campaign is boiling down to are, as Markos wrote, sex and Medicare. Romney has a slight advantage with white women?eight points?that is likely to keep shrinking. Ditto Romney's core of support among older whites on Medicare. Romney's VP selection of zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan assured that granny starving is going to be front and center between now and November.
Romney's big hope, his only hope, is angry and fearful working-class whites. And he's going to do his damnedest to make them even angrier and more fearful. He's not going to let a little thing like the truth get in his way.
Fox's Bolling Shouldn't Be Surprised That Obama Officials Haven't Appeared On His Shows
Fox News host Eric Bolling complained today that members of the Obama White House have not appeared on any of his shows -- despite the fact that he has been responsible for several vicious, racially charged, and evidence-free attacks on President Obama.
On the August 22 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Eric Bolling complained that he has tried to book "anybody from the White House" on his shows to "explain the economic numbers" but has never been successful. Perhaps Bolling shouldn't be surprised: He has consistently been at the forefront of Fox's most vicious attacks on the president.
On May 2011, Bolling claimed President Obama was "chugging a few 40's" instead of responding to a tornado that had devastated Joplin, Missouri. Bolling's attack echoed one he made the day before on Twitter when he accused the president of "chugging 40's in IRE while tornadoes ravage MO":
On the June 11, 2011, edition of his former Fox Business show, Bolling teased a segment about a White House visit by the president of Gabon, Ali Bongo, by saying "Guess who's coming to dinner? A dictator. Mr. Obama shares a laugh with one of Africa's kleptocrats. It's not the first time he's had a hoodlum in the hizzouse." Bolling later asked, "So what's with all the hoods in the hizzy?" referring to a visit the month before by rapper Common.
Bolling was also at the forefront of Fox News' birther obsession. In April 2011, Bolling hosted anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller on his Fox Business show and attempted to find flaws with the long-form birth certificate Obama had recently released. During the segment, Bolling claimed "there is a legitimate question as to whether or not the president of the United States is allowed to be president of the United States."
Bolling has peddled other Obama conspiracy theories, suggesting that Obama is trying to "bring people closer to the cities" so the government can keep an eye on them and pondering whether Obama let an oil rig leak so he "could renege on his promise" to "allow some offshore drilling."
The Romney-Ryan Medicare Fraud is backfiringThe centerpiece of Mitt Romney's Medicare strategy is his claim that President Barack Obama "raided" $716 billion from the Medicare trust fund to pay for Obamacare. But that's not true: the Medicare savings achieved by President Obama actually protect the trust fund, extending its solvency by eight years without impacting the quality of care offered to seniors. And as the New York Times' Jackie Calmes reports, Mitt Romney's pledge to repeal those cuts means he would break another Medicare promise: that he won't touch Medicare for people 55 or older.
The 2010 health care law cut Medicare reimbursements to hospitals and insurers, not benefits for older Americans, by that amount over the coming decade. But repealing the savings, policy analysts say, would hasten the insolvency of Medicare by eight years ? to 2016, the final year of the next presidential term, from 2024.How much would those costs go up?
While Republicans have raised legitimate questions about the long-term feasibility of the reimbursement cuts, analysts say, to restore them in the short term would immediately add hundreds of dollars a year to out-of-pocket Medicare expenses for beneficiaries.
Marilyn Moon, vice president and director of the health program at the American Institutes for Research, calculated that restoring the $716 billion in Medicare savings would increase premiums and co-payments for beneficiaries by $342 a year on average over the next decade; in 2022, the average increase would be $577.The reason why premiums and co-payments would go up under Romney's plan is common sense: by increasing payments to providers, Romney's plan drains the Medicare trust fund more quickly than the president's plan (which also has the virtue of already being law). That money needs to be made up somehow, so to keep the same level of coverage, Medicare beneficiaries would be on the hook for the difference.
But as obvious as this is, Romneyland professes ignorance:
?The idea that restoring funding to Medicare could somehow hasten its bankruptcy is on its face absurd,? said Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign.As is so often the case with Romneyland, that is exactly wrong: reducing spending on Medicare extends its solvency. To suggest otherwise is on its face absurd.
So far in his campaign for the presidency, Mitt Romney has had four big chances to move the needle in his direction. At the beginning, when he won the Republican nomination; during June, when it became clear that the economy was slowing down; last month, when he went abroad; and two weekends ago, when he chose Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate.
In no case did he see a meaningful boost. Consolidating Republicans behind his candidacy garnered him a 45 percent vote share?the floor for either the Democratic or Republican nominee?and choosing Ryan as his running mate gave him a boost of one percentage point?four points below the median vice-presidential bump. Here is what the race has looked like since April, when the general election began in earnest:
For all the gaffes and controversies, nothing has changed. President Obama continues to hold a small but steady lead over Romney, and Romney remains unable to break past the 45-percent threshold.
The latest poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal is another data point that confirms this hypothesis. In it, Barack Obama takes 48 percent among registered voters to Mitt Romney?s 44 percent. Obama?s popularity is in line with his performance in the head-to-head match-up: 48 percent of Americans hold a positive view of him; 43 percent hold a negative one. Mitt Romney, by contrast, is still disliked by a significant chunk of Americans: only 38 percent hold a positive view of him; 44 percent hold a negative one.
The good news for Romney is that Americans trust him to fix the economy?44 percent of voters say he has good ideas for how to improve the economy, compared with 38 percent for Obama.
As for everything else? Only 23 percent say Romney is easy-going and likeable, compared with 58 percent for Obama. Only 24 percent trust him to deal effectively with women?s issues; 30 percent say he cares about average people; and 34 percent say he would be good at dealing with issues of concern to seniors. A solid majority of respondents?51 percent?say Romney is ?out-of-step? with the mainstream and 44 percent disagree. By contrast, 54 percent say that Obama is in step with the thinking of most Americans.
This isn?t good news for Romney, but none of it answers the core question: Given the poor economy, why can?t Romney establish a lead in the race? Americans are apt to dismiss incumbents when economic conditions are poor, and we are entering our third year of mass unemployment.
Buried in the poll results are a few possible answers.
First, Americans are more hopeful than not about where the economy is going; 36 percent say the economy will get better in the next 12 months, compared with 18 percent who say it will get worse. Fifty percent say the economy is recovering compared with the 46 percent who say its stagnant, and when asked if they are optimistic, Americans are split: 46 percent say yes, and 46 percent say no.
What?s more, 34 percent are ?extremely? or ?quite? confident that Obama has the right set of goals and policies to improve the economy. Only 27 percent say the same for Romney.
In short, the public isn?t as down on the economy as we might think, and because of this, voters aren?t ready to dump Obama.
Romney has less than three months to convince them otherwise, and it?s still possible. But the window is closing?fast. Challengers rarely overtake incumbents in the fall?the 1980 presidential election is widely cited as an important exception, but even then, Ronald Reagan?s lead over Jimmy Carter was well-established going into the last leg of the campaign.
Romney needs to recover soon, or on November 7, he?ll be heading back to Massachusetts.
For more polling information, go to the Prospect?s 2012 election map.Mitt RomneyThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsLatter Day Saint movementPolitics of the United StatesRomneyPublic image of Mitt RomneyGeorge W. RomneyPolitics
Well, I lost one Christian fundamentalist in-law who defriended me on Facebook after telling her that her anti-gay crusade was not about religious freedom, or liberal censorship of conservative free speech, but a demand for conformity to right wing ideas without complaint or contradiction instead -- as evidenced by how I was shut off once I disagreed with her. But then I gained another - in this case my first cousin, Mike Cockrill, the crazy New York City painter who lives in a converted Civil War munitions factory in Brooklyn.
I think this is going to be a much better fit after reading Mike's first posting this morning on Facebook: "If the Republican Party wants to focus on the "real issues" like the economy and "getting American going again." etc. then why are they putting into office the I-got-my-gun crazies who just rail against gay marriage and a women's right to choose, insist that global warming is a hoax and evolution is a lie? If Mitt wants the election to be about the economy - then he shouldn't be playing house with the current brand of Republicans. They're nuts - and it's all coming out."
My own comment to Mike was as follows:
"Michael, what you are seeing in the 'current brand of Republicans' as you put it, is evidence that the half century long (at least) civil war within the GOP coalition between "regular" Republicans and "movement conservatives" is now over and the far right won.
"I like to think of the current rightest political coalition as a fusion between Plutocrats and Populists -- two factions whose joint disdain for the American nation-state feeds off itself from opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum.
"The wealthy Plutocrats pouring billions into this campaign and working actively to suppress the minority vote are actively working to dismantle the USA because they do not want a strong state trimming their profits or regulating their behavior -- though they do love to loot its wealth whenever they can. The red neck, John Birch Society, religious fundamentalist Populists loath the nation because the price of having one is co-habitating with all of "those people" that Rand Paul, Barry Goldwater and other assorted neo-Confederates think God-fearing, white Christian Americans have a constitutional right (through the First Amendment's supposed guarantee of freedom of non-association) to avoid.
"Right wing politics is tribal by nature and so consumed with using politics to build walls, not bridges
"This union of finance and industry together with right wing populist nationalism is a combination with disturbing historical echoes, as goes without saying, in the illiberal and anti-democratic right wing fascist movements of the 20th century and beyond."
Mike's the guy whose controversial figurative work in the 1980s was described by Contemporary Magazine as "one of the most interesting representatives of the contemporary American pictorial wave."
I think I remember once calling it - to show my age -- "far out."
According to his website, Mike first gained notoriety in the early 1980s for the "bitingly satirical" cartoon paintings he and his collaborator made that were included in all of the early Brooklyn "mega shows," such as "The Monumental Show" (1981), The "All-Fools Show" (1982), and "Terminal New York" (1983).
Mike's "The White Papers" in 1982 used black and white cartoons that "traced a ruthlessly sexual and brutally satirical lineage through the murders of JFK, Sharon Tate and John Lennon."
By 1988, Mike had begun painting large cartoon portraits of pubescent girls "looking for a zone between the erotic and the sentimental." This isn't the sort of stuff that's in my strike zone, but Mike's paintings apparently "anticipated the sexually loaded figuration that would emerge in the early 1990s' paintings of younger artists like Liza Yuskavage, Nicole Eisenmann and John Currin."
Mike's "little girl paintings" were later included in an exhibition entitled "Discontents and Debutantes at the University Galleries at Illinois State University, inciting "a firestorm of controversy" on campus and in the local press through the duration of the show. Well, duh!
It wasn't until Cockrill armed his little girls with rifles, knives and pistols, however, and had them torment terrified circus clowns "that viewers and critics began to come around to his work."
He began his "Baby Doll/Clown Killer" series in 1995 and had solo shows of the series in New York, Philadelphia, Milan (Italy) and Los Angeles.
The New Art Examiner wrote that Mike's paintings "achieve a shockingly layered profusion of meaning. Absurd and tongue-in-cheek on the surface, the works are underneath, dark and psychologically loaded with scenes of humiliation and trauma."
Five years after he began the clown-killer series, Cockrill changed his work again. Borrowing from the magazines and Little Golden Books of his early childhood, Cockrill "began weaving together coming-of-age narratives that included overtones of his own Catholic upbringing in suburban Northern Virginia."
Art in America praised this work for its "smart painterly skills and wicked nostalgia for the Camelot years."
Mike has described his paintings as efforts to "closely detail the rich transition from the world of childhood fantasy to adult awareness in a manner that is both playfully innocent and sexually charged."
Characterized by an interest in nostalgic figuration, Mike says his paintings "balance the sacred and profane as well as issues of sex, politics and the suburban family."
Recently, a relative gave me the link to a YouTube interview with Mike where he says he is facing "an artistic crisis." As the site describes it, after nearly 40 years working as a figurative painter, "and battling notions of aesthetic good taste with his own weird version of 'bad painting', the unexpected has happened: Cockrill has begun a series of semi-abstract works."
"I was tired and sick of my own work," Mike told arts reporter James Kalm by way of explaining why he was turning to classic Modernism in an effort to help him overcome his "breakdown."
You can understand why I like the guy and I've got to say I like his "new direction" a whole lot more than the old. But I'd love to introduce him (and his old work) to my idiot Christian fundamentalist in-law just to see the reaction! I'm hoping to see Mike again this weekend if he's able to come up from New York to join us at the family reunion in Connecticut.
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One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross released the following statements upon news Republican Attorney General JB Van Hollen would petition the state Supreme Court to overturn, in advance of the November elections, Circuit Court rulings that the state?s anti-democratic voter identification bill is unconstitutional.
"JB Van Hollen has spent years, and untold tax dollars, unsuccessfully chasing phantom vote impropriety allegations to justify his support for disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of legal voters. He?s either lying about rampant ?voter fraud? or he is incompetent at his job. Van Hollen announced he was going to do this at a Romney-Ryan campaign rally and now he?s using his taxpayer financed office to convince the partisan, conservative Supreme Court majority to do the political thing, not the right thing."
In 2008 as GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain?s state chair, in coordination with the Republican Party, he used his office to try to purge hundreds of thousands of legal voters from the rolls. And after a six-year partisan witchhunt, Van Hollen has found no instances of voter impropriety that would have been thwarted by voter identification.
Earlier this summer, it was revealed the Republican National Committee was behind anonymous legal efforts to enact the law. A complaint related to state Rep. Robin Vos (R-Burlington) and his participation in the suit, filed by One Wisconsin Now, is before the state?s Government Accountability Board.