Obama campaign launches TV ad in Michigan going after all the GOP candidates -- but especially Mitt -- who "turned their back" on the auto industry. [...]
Read The Full Article:
So the eleventy-billionth -- and presumably final -- GOP candidate debate was held in Mesa, Arizona last night, six days before the critical Michigan and Arizona primaries and thirteen days before the all-important Super Tuesday elections on March 6.
I didn't see it, thankfully, but reading about it and watching Lawrence O'Donnell afterward, I came to the conclusion that I was never so happy to be sitting through an hour-long Analytical Chemistry exam in my life as I was last night.
Roger Simon (I know, Politico, right-wing hackery, yadda yadda...just let me say this...exactly) summed it up better than anyone yet..."One word sums it up: desultory. Which Google tells us means "lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm."" He goes on to say that he would have been thrilled with any one of the three, but sadly, none ever surfaced.
Now, I could go find all sorts of "insightful analysis" and waste a whole bunch of electrons quoting multiple sources, but why bother? It was the twentieth one of these god-damned things and nothing new was said. Not during the freakshow, and not afterward either. It has literally all been said before. Ad nauseum.
The whole republican enterprise at this time boils down to one central tenet, and beyond that they got nuthin'...they hate President Obama, and they want to defeat him in November at any cost. That's it. That's their beginning and their end and there is no middle.
And that's what puts the GOP squarely on the horns of a dilemma. The rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth hatred of President Obama that they have to put on display for the base to get their votes in the primaries is exactly what they have to avoid to keep from alienating the wide middle that is horrified by that sort of over-the-top rhetoric and tell pollsters over and over again that they hate politics because of behavior like that.
When the dust settles, the American people know that they have one hope and one hope only for victory in November: The economy has to tank. Catastrophically. They won't come right out and say that, but it's common knowledge to everyone watching that has more than two active neurons to rub together. They know that some of the things that the GOP is screaming about and calling tyranny and socialism have delivered direct benefits, if not to themselves to someone they know.
The one bright spot was Rick Santorum and his dominionist, authoritarian threat to the very fabric of our republic, getting set back on his heels a little bit, because that guy scares me witless.
Read The Full Article:
I've written, with a great deal of trepidation, about an apparent run-up to war with Iran, and the steady beat of scary articles ? first here, then here. There's an even later article in the New York Times (discussed below) with the same drum-beat sounds in it.
Is a "new product" being rolled out? Is the battlefield of public opinion being "prepared"?
(If you don't know, the phrase "preparing the battlefield" is mil-speak (heh) for carpet-bombing the enemy prior to sending in ground troops. That enemy, in this case, is U.S. public opinion.)
Now comes Taibbi fils (yes, there's a Taibbi père, also a journalist). Writing in his Rolling Stone blog, Matt has this to say (my emphasis and some reparagraphing throughout):
You can just feel it: many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms.Note: Erin's only a blockhead if she believes her own spill; if she doesn't, she's a media-based operative. Big difference.
CNN?s house blockhead, the Goldman-trained ex-finance professional Erin Burnett, came out with a doozie of a broadcast yesterday, a Rumsfeldian jeremiad against the Iranian threat would have fit beautifully in the Saddam?s-sending-drones-at-New-York halcyon days of late 2002.
It?s the sort of thing you would produce if you set out to create a mean-spirited parody of mindless, war-hungry, fear-mongering media stars, but you wouldn?t dare go this far because you?d want the parody to have a feel of realism to it, and this would be way too extreme to be believable.As Count Floyd would say, "Oooh, scary."
She really hauled it all out: WMDs! Terrorist sleeper cells in the U.S. controlled by Tehran! Iran?s long-range nuclear missiles reaching our homeland!!!! She almost made the anti-Muslim war-mongering fanatic she brought on to interview, Rep. Peter King, appear sober and reasonable by comparison.
In other words, ?If Iran were to decide to be capable of making nuclear weapons, it would be capable of making nuclear weapons.? Unless I'm missing something, that?s a statement that would be true of almost any industrialized country, wouldn't it?The fog in this case is the word "capability." The U.S. position has gone from opposing "nukes" for Iran, to opposing "nuke capability."
The news ?hook? in most all of these stories is that intelligence reports reveal Iran is ?willing? to attack us or go to war ? but then there?s usually an asterisk next to the headline, and when you follow the asterisk, it reads something like, ?In the event that we attack Iran first.?He quotes this NBC report as an example (Taibbi's emphasis): ?Within just the past few days, Iranian leaders have threatened that if attacked, they would launch those missiles at U.S. targets.?
Israel worries that it could lose its military option, and it may be reluctant to wait for diplomacy to bear fruit. That said, Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have consistently called for ?crippling sanctions,? reflecting a belief that Iran?s behavior could be changed with sufficient pressure. The fact that crippling sanctions have finally been applied means that Israel is more likely to give these sanctions and the related diplomatic offensive a chance to work. And it should."Crippling sanctions" means just that; think I was joking with my "punishing the downer bull" metaphor?
He is now a counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.And who is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy? An AIPAC think tank:
Martin Indyk, an Australian-trained academic and former deputy director of research for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), helped found WINEP in 1985. ... Because of his affiliation with AIPAC, Indyk felt his research wasn't being taken seriously and so started WINEP to convey an image that was "friendly to Israel but doing credible research on the Middle East in a realistic and balanced way." ...Don't forget that word "image" ? it's the second-most important word in the description, after "AIPAC". It's always about manipulation of images, isn't it.
WINEP is focused on influencing the media and U.S. executive branch; this is unlike AIPAC, which attempts to influence the U.S. Congress.
– The “friends of Syria” international conference will consider issuing an ultimatum to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad amid his continuing crackdown on popular protests against his government. The group would threaten additional sanctions if Assad doesn’t end his shelling of towns in 72 hours.
– U.S. military sources told CNN that securing Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles would require putting some 75,000 troops on the ground.
– The United Nations said today that Syrian forces have shot dead unarmed women and children, shelled residential areas and tortured wounded protesters in hospital under orders from the “highest level” of army and government officials.
– Assistant secretary of state Andrew Shapiro said the Obama administration may be compelled to withhold $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt if it prosecutes U.S. NGO workers.
– Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) broke ranks with many Republicans and urged the Pentagon to allow women to serve in combat. His Democratic opponent Elizabeth Warren believes women should be allowed to serve in all military positions.
– As fallout from the international forces’ improper Koran disposal continued to roil the Afghan public, with at least six dead and many injured, President Hamid Karzai said he received a letter of apology from President Obama stating that the U.S. “will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.”
– In an apparent first, a high-level Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee, former CIA prisoner Majid Khan, reportedly orchestrated a plea deal to testify against fellow detainees in order to receive a lessened sentence that will see him eventually released.
– The U.N., the U.S. and the Palestinians condemned Israeli government plans to authorize new settlement construction in the West Bank. ?We don?t believe [settlement activity is] in any way constructive to getting both sides back to the negotiating table,? U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
No stranger to ethics controversies, Newt Gingrich’s campaign was warned for a second time about “widespread financial irregularities.” The Federal Election Commission says the campaign must explain why almost $1 million has been paid to Gingrich, his staff, and his fundraising consultants for questionable reimbursements.
With few rules governing their spending, Super PAC leaders are finding ways to profit from the organizations. A Los Angeles Times investigation found that, for instance, the Rick Santorum-allied Red White and Blue Fund super PAC “paid more than half a million dollars last month to a newly formed direct mail firm” owned by the PAC’s founder.
Another poll finds that a majority of Americans approve of President Obama’s contraception accommodation, suggesting that Republicans’ focus on the issue may backfire. The Quinnipiac survey found 54 percent approved, and only 38 percent disapproved. Meanwhile, 55 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood.
The Detroit News criticized Mitt Romney for selectively editing the paper’s endorsement of him in a press release. The Romney campaign edited out the paper’s criticism of his stance on the auto rescue before circulating its release. “They should have run the complete, original version,? an editor said. “It?s a bit inappropriate to edit out the mild criticism.”
The White House has proposed an online “bill of rights” that would give Internet users more online privacy protection and could give the government more authority to enforce the rules in large companies like Google and Facebook. President Obama said, “American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online.”
An Indiana union has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) over the state?s new right to work law that Daniels signed last month. The suit alleges that the law contains several provisions that violate both the state and federal constitution.
Warren Buffett has voiced his support for the eponymous Buffett Rule, which has been introduced in Congress by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). ?I have no problem endorsing any large step in the direction of greater fairness in the tax code,? Buffett wrote in a letter to senators.
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that BP and one of its partners are liable for civil penalties under the Clean Water Act for their roles in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The judge said the oil rig’s owner Transocean also may be liable as an “operator” of the well. The move could make them subject to millions in lawsuits.
And finally: Finally appearing on The Colbert Report last night, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) struck a deal with Colbert, securing his endorsement for the DISCLOSE Act, which would increase campaign finance transparency. Pelosi had released a spoof ad earlier this month attacking Colbert’s super PAC.
Already, three states have announced plans to divert some of their share of the $26 billion foreclosure fraud settlement with the nation’s five biggest banks away from helping homeowners (which is the money’s intended purpose), and towards other parts of their respective budgets. Wisconsin and Missouri are planning to use the money to plug budget holes, while Ohio wants to use the funding to demolish vacant homes.
And those states are evidently not the only ones planning to use the settlement funds for something other than helping troubled homeowners, as the Associated Press noted:
In Pennsylvania, where a fourth straight budget deficit is projected, Democrats are pressing the Republican-run attorney general’s office to use some of its $69 million payment to offset $2 billion in cuts to programs that benefit education, the elderly, disabled or poor. [...]
Vermont plans to use $2.4 million from the settlement to help balance its budget. Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler said about 10 percent of his state’s $62.5 million payment will be made available for the governor and lawmakers to spend as they choose.
It’s understandable, given the massive budget cuts that states have had to implement in the last few years to comply with balanced budget requirements during a recession, that there is a temptation for state lawmakers to use an unexpected windfall to plug budget holes. But as good as their intentions are, that is not the purpose of the settlement. Settlement money is meant to make up for bank malfeasance by reducing loan principal for underwater homeowners or to compensate families to lost their homes due to potentially wrongful foreclosure.
Member of the Florida congressional delegation have already penned a letter to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) in an attempt to head off a similar effort to siphon away funds, writing, “given the ongoing state of Florida’s housing crisis, we strongly urge you to use these settlement funds for housing relief, and resist any effort to divert the funds to close shortfalls in the state budget.” Hopefully more states don’t go down the road of the six listed above, and actually use the settlement money to alleviate the ongoing pain of the housing crisis.
At last night’s GOP presidential candidates debate, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) was asked why he’s promised to address “the dangers of contraception in this country? if elected president. In response, he cited a particularly unfortunate author:
What I was talking about is, we have a society — Charles Murray just wrote a book about this and it’s on the front page of the New York Times two days ago — which is the increasing number of children being born out of wedlock in America, teens who are sexually active. What we’re seeing is a problem in our culture with respect the children being raised by children, children being raised out of wedlock, and the impact on society economically, the impact on society with respect to drug use and a host of other things, when children have children. And so, yes, I was talking about these very serious issues. and, in fact, as I mentioned before, two days ago on the front page of the New York Times, they’re talking about the same thing.
First of all, Santorum’s decision to justify his skepticism of contraception by citing the problem of unwed mothers is like something out of the Bizarro Planet. Here in the actual world, contraception is the solution to the problem of unplanned pregnancies, not the cause.
Likewise, Santourm’s decision to rely on Charles Murray is no less distressing. Murray co-authored The Bell Curve, which argues that black people score lower on IQ tests because they are genetically inferior to whites. To reach this conclusion, Murray relied on studies backed by the Pioneer Fund, whose original mission was to pursue ?race betterment? for people ?deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution.?
Murray’s latest book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, is a similarly rigorous work of scholarship. In the words of former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, Murray’s latest opus proves that the racially-challenged author is unwilling “to submit his politics to the check of uncongenial evidence” and instead would “prefer to avoid encountering the evidence that might shake his politics.” Sadly, this description also applies to Santorum.
Mitt Romney channeled the social conservative positions of Rick Santorum during last night’s GOP presidential debate in Arizona, arguing that religious organizations should be allowed to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples in the adoption process and claiming that children deserve a home “with a mother and a father”:
ROMNEY: And when we have programs that say we’re going to teach abstinence in schools, the liberals go crazy and try and stop us from doing that. We have to have a president who’s willing to say that the best opportunity an individual can give to their unborn child is an opportunity to be born in a home with a mother and a father. [...]
We battled, for instance, to help the Catholic Church stay in the adoption business. The amazing thing was that while the Catholic Church was responsible for half the adoptions in my state — half the adoptions — they had to get out of that business because the legislature wouldn’t support me and give them an exemption from having to place children in homes where there was a mom and a dad on a preferential basis.
In 2006, however, Romney seemed to accept the idea that same-sex couples can adopt a child. “They are able to adopt children…And I’m not going to change that,” he said, noting that same-sex couples have “a legitimate interest” in adoption. “Obviously, that’s their right,” he explained in 2007.
But in aiming to secure the GOP presidential nomination for 2012, the former Massachusetts governor has walked back his support for gay and lesbian families and has adopted a more nuanced position on same-sex adoption. During an August GOP debate, Romney pledged to institute a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as a between a man and a woman “because I believe the ideal place to raise a child is in a home with a mom and dad.” He doubled down on that position during a town hall in New Hampshire in October, arguing that while he would support “partnership agreements” for same-sex couples, “the ideal setting to raise a child for a society like ours is where there is a man and a woman.”
Ultimately, the Romney campaign maintains that same-sex adoption ?should be assessed on a state-by-state basis,? a point the candidate himself failed to make in trying to close the gap between himself and Santorum at Wednesday night’s debate.
But after 187,000 documents, 10 hearings, and multiple independent media investigations concluding there was no evidence of political “pressure” to approve the loan guarantee, Republicans show no signs of ending the political games around Solyndra. In response to the RNC, Climate Progress created its own infographic that puts the politics-infused investigation into perspective:
When Chris Brown, who in 2009 beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna on the way to a Grammys pre-party, got two performing slots at this year’s awards show, objecting to his presence there was relatively uncomplicated. His crime was relatively recent, and Brown seemed to have little sense that he’d done something wrong, throwing temper tantrums when asked about his assault in interviews and acting as if his Grammy win was a rebuke to the people who were unfairly judging him. And suggesting that he shouldn’t be given a high-profile spot, much less two, at the Grammys was a way of rooting for, or siding with, Rihanna. But in the time since, events have guaranteed that the state of their relationship will be a continued story?and suggested how complicated it’s going to be to find a way to talk about it productively.
First, the news broke that Rihanna had asked Brown to her birthday party. Then, she released a remix of her latest song, “Birthday Cake,” featuring Brown. If the pair aren’t dating again, it’s clear that Brown is back in Rihanna’s life. Which puts those of us who would rather not see folks in his industry bestowing their most advantageous opportunities on Brown rather than someone who didn’t beat a fellow artist so badly she couldn’t perform when she was allotted one of those slots, in a position of not being on the same page as the woman we’d really like to be supporting.
This is not an uncommon dynamic, of course. As Jaclyn Friedman points out, women who are trying to leave their abusers tend to go back, a lot, before they finally decide to either stay or leave for good. The dilemma between wanting to respect a woman as an independent agent while also being worried for her is not one that’s unique to celebrities. And it’s not a problem that anyone’s come up with a fool-proof solution for, or we’d be a lot better at helping women leave the men who abuse them, be they famous or simply our friends.
One sure way not to move the conversation in anything like a productive direction, though, is to challenge Chris Brown to a fight. Which is what C.M. Punk, a professional wrestler, decided it would be a productive thing to do. There’s really no circumstance in which a white man talking about curb stomping a black man is an elevating threat. And whatever Chris Brown needs, it’s emphatically not a beating. Punk could take a note from retired pro wrestler Mick Foley, who’s become an amazing advocate for victims of sexual assault. This isn’t about completing a cycle of retribution. And it’s not about teaching people about who it is or isn’t honorable to fight.