The motion hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, is set to conclude today. A number of motions, such as one to dismiss all charges with prejudice and one to dismiss the ?aiding the enemy?[...]
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Let the general-election fun begin. Less than 24 hours after Mitt Romney rebooted for the umpteenth time, the Obama campaign announced the official start of rally season. The campaign announced an impromptu press conference call Wednesday evening to announce campaign swings through Ohio and Virginia by the president and first lady on May 5. "We understand we've pulled one or two of you out of the bar and we apologize for that," said campaign Press Secretary Ben LaBolt. "I want to go on record: I was opposed to pulling you guys out of the saloons, I didn't think that was the right thing to do," echoed senior advisor David Axelrod, who was joined by campaign manager Jim Messina.
Once they finished pandering to reporters' alcoholic tendencies, the two ripped into Mitt Romney, laying the groundwork for the next six months of talking points. "Welcome to the general election," Messina opened. "As you've all been reporting today the Republicans have settled on their candidate, or should I say settled for their candidate." Their message throughout the call accused Romney of seeking to return to a previous era. "Mitt Romney wants to go back to the future," Messina said. "Mitt Romney's economic scheme is familiar and troubling: more budget busting tax cuts for the wealthy, fewer rules for Wall Street, the same formula that benefited a few but that crashed our economy and punished the middle class."
Axelrod pushed those points even further, questioning Romney's stump resume. "What was most striking about his speech [Tuesday] night: He ... neglected to mention that he was once governor of Massachusetts," Axelrod said, "which seems like a pretty relevant point. Why?" He then listed negative facts from Romney's tenure in charge of that state, including a drop from 37th to 47th in job creation. Yet more than any damning statistics, Romney's silence about his Massachusetts record is largely a byproduct of his recent primary campaign. Most of the policies that caused conservatives to label him a Republican apostate come from his tenure as governor, forcing Romney to push aside that experience over the past year. It will likely enter the spotlight once again now that he is in the general election, though he'll have to walk a fine line as his primary accomplishment?passing a universal health care program?is now a feat he would rather forget.
The attacks weren't limited to Romney; they've clearly been prepping dossiers on possible Republican vice presidential candidates. When a reporter asked how selecting Senator Rob Portman?the new favorite choice of the Washington chattering class?might swing Ohio, Axelrod jumped in swinging. "I think ultimately this will be a contest between the two men at the top of the ticket and their competing philosophies," he said. Yet only a few moments later he added, "The challenge for him with Senator Portman is Senator Portman was one of the architects, as the budget director, of the last administration's economic policies. It's just one more sign if he does that that he wants to go back to those policies."
The specter of the Bush years hovers over Romney's potential running mates. Broadly speaking, there are two groups of VP contenders. On one side, nearly every possibility with extensive Washington experience has some ties to the Bush era, whether that's Portman's stint at the Office of Management and Budget, Bobby Jindal's experience at Health and Human Services, or a former Florida Governor whose last name will instantly propel the Bush years into the spotlight. On the other hand, the second set of options carry their own liabilities. These are the young fresh-faced politicians from the class of 2010, Marco Rubio or Nikki Haley, for example. They don't carry as much baggage, but they also lack experience and vetting, a prime consideration among Republicans as the memory of the Sarah Palin debacle casts a pale over the decision.
When Barack Obama appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon the other night, he walked on stage and gave Fallon a quick pound hug, that handshake/one-arm hug that we cool guys do these days to express a sentiment something like, "It is good to see you again, my friend; we know and like each other, but are not so intimate, nor have been apart so long, that a full two-arm hug is warranted." When I watched it, the first thought that came into my head was, "Mitt Romney has never done that with another man in his life." Which is fine, of course?Romney is 65 years old, and the pound hug really only came along only about 10 or 15 years or so ago. And let's face it, even if he was a lot younger, it's just not his style.
Mitt Romney is many things, but "cool" is not one of them. Barack Obama, on the other hand, is pretty cool. He has the ability to move easily among people of varied generations and backgrounds, without doing awkward things like blurting out "Who let the dogs out? Woof, woof!" when he finds himself amidst a group of black teenagers. Women find him appealing. He has a grasp of contemporary popular culture. And most appallingly, he sometimes engages in activities that could be considered "fun" or "light-hearted," particularly with people who are considered cool by many other people (i.e. musicians, actors, comedians, etc.) and this is plainly evidence that he does not take the responsibilities of the presidency seriously. Thankfully, Karl Rove is on the case. Here's a new ad from Rove's American Crossroads, featuring that pound hug, among other things:
So once again, we have to wage a campaign of the cool kids versus the squares. This all started in the 1960s, when people like Rove and Romney watched their contemporaries smoking grass, listening to music with electric guitars, and dancing wildly about with adventurous girls in sheer peasant blouses, and thought to themselves, "Gosh darn it, I hate those guys!"
It may take a little different form today, but have no doubt, Republicans going after Obama for being "cool" is the same conflict, just updated to 2012. So if you're a Baby Boomer, and you recall vividly how you watched Woodstock on TV and thought to yourself that somebody ought to drop a bomb on all those hippies and fornicators and wipe them out once and for all, Mitt Romney is the candidate for you. Not that you didn't know that already.
(White House photo, Rebecca Cook/Reuters)Merrill/Morrison Institute. Arizona RVs. April 10-14, 16-20. ±4.4%.
Romney: 42Behavior Research Centers/Rocky Mountain Poll. Arizona RVs. April 7-19. ±4.4%. (Jan results)
Obama: 42 (37)Arizona has 11 electoral votes, so it's a big prize?and not the kind of state that Mitt Romney wants to be in play. It seems that while his embrace of SB 1070 might have helped him in the primary, it's not giving him a boost in the general.
Romney: 40 (43)
The Violence Against Women Act is expected, though not actually scheduled, as of the writing of Today in Congress, to be voted on in the Senate today. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday morning that Republicans would not filibuster the bill?awfully big of them, considering it has 61 cosponsors.
Republicans were planning to offer their own version of the bill as an amendment; it's not clear whether forgoing attempts to block the bipartisan VAWA means they will also drop this amendment:
Their alternative would cap visas available to legal and illegal immigrants who suffer abuse at 10,000 a year, compared to 15,000 proposed by the Democratic bill offered by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. It does not specify, as the Democratic bill does, that violence against gays, lesbians and transgenders are part of the act. The Leahy bill expands the authority of Native American officials to handle cases of abuse of Indian women by non-Indians. The Republican substitute permits tribal authorities to go to federal court for protective orders on behalf of abused Native American women.In any case, those provisions are important, since House Republicans don't yet have a complete bill, but it's expected to be similar to the Senate Republican plan?in other words, responding to violence against women is all very well as long as they're straight, citizens or legal residents, and not Native American. The House Republican effort is led by Sandy Adams of Florida, one of about a dozen friendly female faces of how this is totally not a war on women.
Since the original Senate bill, including LGBT, Native American, and undocumented immigrant protections, is clearly expected to pass, focus is shifting to the House. Send an email to your member of the U.S. House of Representatives, telling him or her to pass the expanded, bipartisan Senate reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
Here we go again with the right to internet privacy and security for the individual being threatened by the government on behalf of corporations. On November 11 last year, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act was introduced in the House by[...]
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The sun "sheds" its magnetic field on a fairly regular 11-year cycle, during which north and south polarity swap places. But this time around the reorientation is happening at different rates, with one pole reemerging faster than the other, and[...]
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David Taintor put together for us this amazing slideshow on early mobile phones. But what we planned as a reasonably authoritative history -- with a few pics of the gargantuan devices we once considered "mobile" thrown in for fun -- quickly turned into[...]
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Yes, you read that right. Seems really stupid doesn't it, that something so ... stupid ... could suck all the air out of an election campaign. Yet that's exactly what happened in 2004, with the swiftboatage of John Kerry. Stupid; and so very effective.
For Perlstein, the Kerry part of the story ? the analogy that sets up the Romney prediction ? started with a stupid little self-published booklet he discovered in 2004 floating around the fringes of a right-wing event.
Here's his intro (my emphasis and paragraphing):
Once upon a time, in early 2004, I attended one of hundreds of "Parties for the President" organized nationwide for grassroots volunteers who wanted to help reelected George W. Bush, at a modest middle class home in Portland, Oregon.Presto; yet this is not magic, but art. These are professionals. Watch and learn ? here's how the process breaks down. They:
At one point, a nice old lady politely pressed into my hand a grubby little self-published pamphlet she had come upon, purporting to prove that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had faked the heroics that had won him three purple hearts in Vietnam. I added it to my mental store of the night's absurdities that I expected to hear rattling across the wingnutosphere the entire fall: "I still believe there are weapons of mass destruction"; "There is an agenda?to get rid of God in this country"; "John Kerry attended a party in which there was bad language!"
What I didn't expect was to see Kerry's war-hero cred earnestly debated night after night on CNN. Then came August and "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ? and that little old lady's fever dream began dominating the media discussion of the campaign, and the rest, as they say, is history.
That's the way, in my experience, the ecology of right-wing smears works: Insane horror stories ? Clinton is running cocaine out of an Arkansas airport! Barack Obama had gay sex in the back of a limo! ? bubble up from the collective conservative Id at the outset of an election year; professional conservatives in Washington identify the ones that seem most promising and launder them through the suckers in the "balance"-hungry mainstream media; and presto, before you know it, it's death-panel-palooza, 24/7.
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Earlier in the day on MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell allowed Sen. Roy Blunt to come on the air and tell this whopper:
If Congress doesn?t act, the interest rates on government-backed student loan will jump in July, so President Obama has made a big push this week to prevent that from happening. Republicans have thus far held up the extension, though presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney called for preserving the lower rates Monday.
But Romney?s ?man in Congress,? Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), seems to misunderstand the issue. In an interview on MSNBC this afternoon, Blunt blamed high student loan rates on the Affordable Care Act [...]
In fact, the rate was set back in 2007, when President Bush signed a Democratic-backed law to lower the rate from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. That law expires on July 1 of this year, and the lower rates end along with it. The Affordable Care Act and President Obama are entirely irrelevant.
Blunt is likely thinking of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), a bill that was attached to the Affordable Care Act. And while it did not affect loan rates, it did remove banker middlemen from the student loan process, which will save taxpayers millions of dollars.
Mitchell gave Blunt a complete pass when he made that statement during her show, and Ed Schultz was ready to call him out for lying before he even got on the air this evening on MSNBC. He played part of the interview on his radio show shortly after it aired and vowed to do more reporting on it during the evening, which is exactly what he did in the segment above. Rep. George Miller joined Ed to discuss Blunt's statement to Andrea Mitchell and how the Republicans are proposing to pay for the reduced interest rates now.
Here's more on that from Ed Kilgore -- House GOP Tries New Gambit on Student Loans:
Given today?s publicity over student loan indebtedness reaching a cool trillion dollars (see Daniel Luzer?s post on this at College Guide), and Mitt Romney?s earlier undercutting of their position, it?s not surprising that House Republicans are signalling that they, too, will support extending current interest rates for student loans.
But there is, of course, a wrinkle, per Politico?s Jake Sherman:
To avoid adding to the debt, Republicans will try to take money from a public health prevention fund in the Democrats? 2010 health care law. Senate Democrats are aiming for a separate mechanism to offset the price tag of the extension. And that could set up a showdown between the two bodies and the president during this hotly contested election year.
In their usual hammer-headed way, House Republicans will try to combine one popular position (extending current student loan interest rates) with another (gutting ObamaCare). They are counting on no one much noticing that the element of ObamaCare they are raiding in this particular maneuver is funding for the one health care reform everyone claims to support: a stronger focus on preventive health care.