So, that’s a harsh title and this is a harsh post. The American Taliban were on Meet the Press today in full force. The topic was the War on Women and the War on Gays. It was the usual combination of spewing outright lies and insisting every one agrees with them. They’re beginning to look outnumbered on the War against Gays and Marriage Equality. I wish I could say the same on the War on Women. Rachel Maddow had adequate time to skewer Ralph Reed and Jim DeMint on their marriage equality lies. Even Dancing Dave headed for the door labelled popular opinion and right direction.
Social conservatives came out in full force on NBC’s Meet The Press on the Sunday after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) of the Heritage Foundation and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) both claimed the court’s decision to recognize same-sex marriages sacrificed children’s wellbeing — only to have their arguments promptly slapped down by MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and David Gregory.
DeMint said the court had privileged “the desires of adults” over “the best environment for children,” arguing that heterosexual marriage is “the environment where children can thrive and succeed.” Maddow immediately pointed out that this argument ignores the children of same-sex couples, who have up til now been treated as second-class citizens under the law:
Justice Kennedy addressed that issue specifically in his ruling. He says that by denying marriage rights to same-sex couples who have kids, you’re humiliating and demeaning those kids. By denying their families equal protection under the law by the parents who are raising them and who love them and who make their family. So we can put it in the interests of children, but I think that cuts both ways. And the ruling cuts against that argument. I mean, gay people exist. There’s nothing we can do in public policy can do to make more of us exist or less of us exist. And you guys for a generation have argued that public policy ought to demean gay people as a way of expressing disapproval of the fact that we exist. But you don’t make any less of us exist, you are just arguing for more discrimination. And more discrimination doesn’t make straight people’s lives any better.
Rachel really slammed them but time ran short when they insisted that most people are behind stopping abortions as early as 20 weeks in all instances, that women really want unnecessary ultrasounds using vaginal probes, and that the grizzled, unlicensed Philadelphia Doctor just convicted of murder of babies and women is equivalent to Planned Parenthood. No one had the time to challenge their unscientific facts or their false assertions about what women what and what medical science says.
Some women like being forced to have an ultrasound before receiving an abortion, according to former Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC).
Republicans in state legislatures across the country have pushed legislation that requires women to undergo an ultrasound procedure 24 hours before terminating their pregnancy. The so-called “informed consent” laws usually require women to be given a picture of the fetus and be shown a fetal heartbeat, along with general information about abortion.
“The more the ultrasounds have become part of the law, where a woman gets the opportunity to see that there’s a real child, it’s beginning to change minds, and I think that’s a good thing,” DeMint said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “It’s time that the 3,000 babies we lose every day have some people speaking up for them.”
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow pointed out that women weren’t given the opportunity to have an ultrasound, they were forced to have a medically unnecessary ultrasound by the state. She added that in many cases women were subjected to trans-vaginal ultrasounds.
“So it’s an invasive vaginal forced procedure that a woman cannot say no to by order of the state government,” Maddow continued. “And that is all right with you. I understand that. You feel that you’ve got an interest strong enough to override a woman’s desire to not have that happen to her that you can insist that it does as a legislator. But most American women I think are going to balk at that.”
DeMint, however, insisted that some women wanted the state to force them to have an ultrasound.
“She’s forgetting about the thousands of women who want an informed choice, who want the opportunity to get a free ultrasound, which they can get not from Planned Parenthood but from a lot of these pregnancy centers.”
The outrage and the war continue. I really have to say that I don’t want to even been in the same room as the likes of Ralph Reed who should be in jail for his Indian Casino scam and DeMint who belongs in a mental health facility. This isn’t religious expression. It is a well funded and organized witch hunt. They were equally bad trying to explain why minorities don’t really need their voting rights protected. It’s a damn shame David Gregory gives them a platform for their extremism.
I have a nasty cold, so if I don’t make a lot of sense this morning, please try to make allowances. I just hope I don’t get the flu. Mayor Menino declared a public health emergency in Boston yesterday because there have been 700 confirmed cases of flu in the city. This morning The Daily Beast reports that there is a “major influenza epidemic taking hold across the country.”
New York City and much of the U.S. are a week or two into a major influenza epidemic. Boston declared a public-health emergency Wednesday after reporting four deaths, and North Carolina is seeing its biggest number of cases in a decade. To place the problem into graphic, corporate terms, the charts sent around to compare this year’s activity against that of other years have required re-scaling to accommodate the scary red line going up and up.
Public health officials are telling people it’s not too late to get a flu shot, but according to this article, this year’s vaccine may not be working so well.
One alarming possibility is that this year’s vaccine against influenza is not well-matched to the current disease-causing strains. This exposes a significant problem in the modus operandi of influenza vaccine production—it’s mired in techniques and approaches developed before World War II; in fact soldiers from that war were among the first to get this brand of vaccine. Here’s how it works: each year, around February, world experts select from a menu of dozens just three influenza strains—two of flu A andone of flu B—to place into the coming season’s vaccine. More than three would require a shot with too large a volume and might blunt the body’s immune response. Once selected, the three viruses are grown painstakingly, on hen’s eggs (what year is this?) then, after a big enough crop has been raised, the virus is killed and stabilized and sent around for injections—all on the hope that the experts guessed right.
To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found strong agreement between the vaccine strains and the current clinical strains, suggesting the vaccine ought to work just fine. But some clinicians have their doubts. This much activity, is the thinking, can only be due to extremely limited protection from vaccine. For some, it feels like 2009 all over again, when the novel flu strain, so-called because it had never previously been seen in people or animals, appeared. That was the year that spring-break revelers from Queens who had gone south of the border brought back an altogether new strain. Because of its novelty, no vaccine was active against it (at least at the start), so we saw the unchecked spread of influenza zipping across the country in no time flat.
So is that happening again? We won’t know until there is more testing of this year’s strains.
President Obama is getting a lot of criticism for turning his “inner circle” into a “boy’s club.” From Tuesday’s NYT:
In an Oval Office meeting on Dec. 29, 11 of President Obama’s top advisers stood before him discussing the heated fiscal negotiations. The 10 visible in a White House photo are men.
In the days since, Mr. Obama has put together a national security team dominated by men, with Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts nominated to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as the secretary of state, Chuck Hagel chosen to be the defense secretary and John O. Brennan nominated as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Given the leading contenders for other top jobs, including chief of staff and Treasury secretary, Mr. Obama’s inner circle will continue to be dominated by men well into his second term.
From the White House down the ranks, the Obama administration has compiled a broad appointment record that has significantly exceeded the Bush administration in appointing women but has done no better than the Clinton administration, according to an analysis of personnel data by The New York Times. About 43 percent of Mr. Obama’s appointees have been women, about the same proportion as in the Clinton administration, but up from the roughly one-third appointed by George W. Bush.
The skew was widespread: male appointees under Mr. Obama outnumbered female appointees at 11 of the 15 federal departments, for instance. In some cases, the skew was also deep. At the Departments of Justice, Defense, Veterans Affairs and Energy, male appointees outnumbered female appointees by about two to one.
At Salon, Irin Carmon writes:
Diversity in any sense is something that doesn’t really happen unless you try, and if the Obama administration is trying with its top-level appointments, other priorities have clearly trumped it. This doesn’t have to be because of a conspiracy: A lifetime of seeing almost exclusively white men as authority figures has a way of perpetuating itself, and without much self-examination or effort, people tend to go with a certain comfortable framework. (This is true despite the president being a black man; as anyone who has worked for a woman or a person of color who was the first to stake out a spot on hostile turf can tell you, racism and sexism aren’t exclusively white male phenomena.) But it’s still a problem that needs to be talked about, over and over again, until something changes.
Carmon concludes her post with some excellent questions:
…leadership matters, and here we are with this top-level lineup of too-familiar faces. Hillary Clinton is gone, and we don’t have Sheila Bair, Michele Flournoy or Susan Rice (a pretty good selection given that “pipeline problem”) and another white man is expected to succeed Jack Lew as chief of staff should be become the treasury secretary. The numbers look even worse now that Hilda Solis, a Latina woman, has resigned as secretary of labor.
So here are some follow-up questions: Will John Kerry carry on the legacy of Hillary Clinton in encouraging female leadership and entrepreneurship around the world? Will Chuck Hagel, if confirmed as secretary of defense, fully and fairly implement the progressive changes in the military the administration supports, including the partial expansion of abortion access for service-members and dependents, despite his past opposition? How independent will Lew be from the Wall Street boys’ club’s values and logic? And how will the administration do better on this stuff next time, if it does indeed care about it?
At least Eric Holder’s announcement that he is staying on at Attorney General will keep Obama’s cabinet from being made up of only white men.
The Presidential Inauguration Committee announced Tuesday that the President Obama has selected Pastor Louie Giglio of the Georgia-based Passion City Church to deliver the benediction for his second inauguration. In a mid-1990s sermon identified as Giglio’s, available online on a Christian training Web site, he preached rabidly anti-LGBT views. The 54-minute sermon, entitled “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality,” advocates for dangerous “ex-gay” therapy for gay and lesbian people, references a biblical passage often interpreted to require gay people be executed, and impels Christians to “firmly respond to the aggressive agenda” and prevent the “homosexual lifestyle” from becoming accepted in society.
Read quotes from Giglio’s sermon at the Alternet link.
Buzzfeed notes that the White House hasn’t yet responded to the criticism of the Gigio choice.
The White House on Wednesday was refusing to address comments critical of gay and lesbian people made by Rev. Louie Giglio, who was tapped by President Barack Obama to deliver the benediction prayer at the Jan. 21 inaugural ceremony….
The inaugural invitation is not Giglio’s first interaction with Obama. He also was one of the president’s guests at the White House’s 2012 Easter prayer breakfast, according to the White House pool report from the April 4, 2012 event.
This past November, Giglio served as the convocation speaker at the Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University. Although he did not address homosexuality in the speech, he did strongly urge visiting high-school students to attend the college known for its strict policies against homosexual behavior and spoke about the positive influence Falwell has had on his life.
While Giglio did not talk about gay issues directly, he did reference gender roles in a striking way, speaking of a time he started crying very hard. He explained, “I started bawling, I mean, sobbing. Not crying like men cry. I started crying like women cry.” Continuing, he explained what he called the unwritten rules for men who cry, telling the students, “A man never looks at another man that’s crying. That’s the rule.”
If you’ve been watching the Rachel Maddow show recently, you’ve heard about the Shell Oil rig that went aground in Alaska last week. Connie from Orlando sent me a couple of links on Rachel’s interview with Rep. Ed Markey last night on Shell’s lies. From the Maddow Blog: One man’s near miss ecological disaster is another man’s swells. Watch the video here.
Paul Ryan is up to his old tricks. From Laura Bassett at HuffPo: Paul Ryan Cosponsors New Fetal Personhood Bill.
Despite the deep unpopularity of fetal personhood bills in 2012, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has again decided to cosponsor the Sanctity of Human Life Act, a bill that gives full legal rights to human zygotes from the moment of fertilization.
Ryan, who reportedly has 2016 presidential ambitions, had to de-emphasize his opposition to abortion without exceptions during the 2012 election to align his position with presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But this year, Ryan has been tapped as a keynote speaker for the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List’s sixth annual Campaign for Life Gala, and he is re-upping his support for the most extreme anti-abortion legislation in the country.
The personhood bill, first introduced in 2011 by Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and reintroduced by Broun last week, specifies that a “one-celled human embryo,” even before it implants in the uterus to create a pregnancy, should be granted “all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” Similar legislation has been rejected by voters in multiple states, including the socially conservative Mississippi, because legal experts have pointed out that it could outlaw some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization as well as criminalize abortion at all stages.
Broun said in a statement that a zygote’s right to life should be “defended vigorously and at all costs.”
“As a physician, I know that human life begins with fertilization, and I remain committed to ending abortion in all stages of pregnancy,” he said. “I will continue to fight this atrocity on behalf of the unborn, and I hope my colleagues will support me in doing so.”
Of course Republican governors are still trying to limit access to abortion, and the Center for Reproductive Rights has designed a “monitoring tool” that can be downloaded to track what’s happening in the states.
The tool outlines State obligations under international and regional human rights law on a range of reproductive rights issues—freedom from discrimination, contraceptive information and services, safe pregnancy and childbirth, abortion and post-abortion care, comprehensive sexuality education, freedom from violence against women, and HIV/AIDS. The tool then identifies key questions that human rights experts, monitoring bodies, and civil society can use to assess to what extent a State is in compliance with its obligations.
I want to end with something more positive from Emily Esfahani-Smith at The Atlantic about the differences between the pursuit of happiness and the search for meaning: There’s More to Life Than Being Happy. It’s about Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning. I highly recommend it.
And here’s something nice: and unreleased track from Jimi Hendrix, recorded in the late 1960s.
Have a great day, and please share your recommended reads in the comments!
We’ve been moaning around here about how so many right wingers get to go on the Fox Right Wing Propaganda Network and spew lies with impunity. In fact, the hosts themselves spew things that just aren’t factual. CNN’s Soledad O’Brien is being attacked by Rush Limbaugh and other angry righties for calling shenanigans on John Sununu . It’s a continuing saga now with Limbaugh stirring up the angry racist and sexist mob. O’Brien has now responded to his attacks that she might as well wear an Obama Campaign sticker on her forehead because she chose not to accept his taking a CBO report sentence completely out of context. O’Brien shot back with a video that documented her statements and questions using the research of independent fact check groups.
CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien struck back at critics who objected to her reading from a document printed from what they called a liberal website — yet not citing her source — while interviewing an operative for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the topic of Medicare.
O’Brien was substitute-hosting on Anderson Cooper 360 on Monday when she was seen flipping through a story from the website Talking Points Memo during a segment with Romney campaign adviser Barbara Comstock. Conservative media, most notably Rush Limbaugh, mocked the news anchor for what they perceived to be a journalistic transgression.
“She never cited it. She just used its contents,” Limbaugh fumed Tuesday. “When she talks to a Democrat, she has no pieces of paper, she needs no guidance.”
O’Brien didn’t deny referring to a TPM document during the show but said she only did so in order to read a quote from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, a perfectly benign journalistic practice. She also gets information from conservative sources, like RedState.com, she said.
“Editorially, I was not reading off the Talking Points Memo,” she told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday. “The memo had an accurate, verbatim quote of what Sen. Wyden said, and when I was talking to Ms. Comstock, she was saying something that was patently untrue.”
O’Brien also answered critics who complain about what they perceive to be a left-wing bias in her reporting.
“I don’t think I show bias in my TV show. I think I am aggressive with people about trying to find the facts behind what they say,” O’Brien said. “Am I a liberal or conservative? I’m neither. Like most Americans, I find politics very frustrating. Like most Americans, I’d like to hear from politicians the facts. That is what drives me.”
Yesterday on “Starting Point”, former New Hampshire Governor and senior Romney Campaign advisor John Sununu said this: “When Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it…It’s a reduction in services a reduction in support for Medicare Advantage. That is taking money from the program.”
He added his voice to a growing chorus of Romney supporters, and the candidate himself, making similar claims against President Obama on Medicare.
* RNC Chairman Reince Priebus on “Meet the Press” last Sunday says President Obama “stole $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare. If any person in this entire debate has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it’s Barack Obama. He is the one that’s destroying Medicare.”
* On AC36, Senior Romney adviser Barbara Comstock says “We are not stealing the $719 billion that Barack Obama took away from Medicare, from current seniors, from my parents who are retired.”
* And yesterday, Governor Romney says “He cuts the payments that go to Medicare by $700 billion and he uses that to pay for Obamacare.”
But where is this idea that the president’s health care plan guts billions of dollars from Medicare coming from?
A Congressional Budget Office report says “If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, “[s]pending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013-2022 period.”
But that same CBO report says keeping “Obamacare” would not mean a $716 billion decrease in Medicare funding. The cost of Medicare would continue to rise, just not as rapidly. The CBO says this money – Democrats call it savings, Republicans call it cuts – would be achieved mostly through cutbacks in payments to providers and by changes to payment rates in private Medicare plans.
The Romney campaign argues all of this will ultimately lead to reduced access to health care.
“The fact is that he reduces services to Medicare beneficiaries currently on the package,” Gov. Sununu claims in my interview with him yesterday on “Starting Point.”
Independent fact checker Factcheck.org says that’s not true. The site says:
“The law stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits won’t be reduced, and it adds some new benefits, such as improved coverage for pharmaceuticals.”
Senior citizen advocacy group AARP, which generally opposes any policies that would negatively affect seniors, tells its members this:
“The health care law strengthens Medicare by protecting and improving your guaranteed benefits and cracking down on waste, fraud and inefficiency. “
And we have the health care law itself, which clearly states this:
“Nothing in the provisions of, or amendments made by, this Act shall result in a reduction of guaranteed benefits under title XVIII of the Social Security Act.”
Chuck Todd also caught the Romney Camp in another lie on so-called cuts to welfare to work provisions. This time it’s Iowa Governor Terry Branstad doing the lying.
MSNBC host Chuck Todd and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) butted heads on Wednesday after Branstad accused President Barack Obama of undermining welfare reform.
“The biggest problem I think a lot of people have is the massive expansion of the food stamp program,” Branstad said. “We have more people on food stamps than ever before. They’ve liberalized the rules and a lot of people think they need to tighten that up — just like we reformed welfare in the 1990s, now the Obama administration is trying to undo the work requirement. We think that we need to, instead of trying to put more people on –”
“Well, wait a minute,” Todd interrupted. “Gov. Branstad, I can’t let that go. They haven’t done that. They haven’t undone the work requirements… Where did you get your information?”
But Branstad insisted it was “absolutely true” that the Obama administration had waived the work requirement in the Temporary Assistant for Needy Families (TANF) program. He said liberals and President Barack Obama had “always hated” the work requirement in the law.
“Every charge that has been leveled about this welfare reform order that this President signed — every accusation that has been leveled by some Republicans have been proven to be not true,” Todd said.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last month encouraged states to experiment with better ways to administer the TANF program, informing state officials that the department was willing to grant waivers to states that wished to opt-out of provisions of the welfare law.
Romney and other Republicans have claimed that the waivers were an attempt to undermine the welfare program’s work requirement. But PolitiFact rated those claims “Pants on Fire,” noting that the waivers were actually “designed to improve employment outcomes.”
Dave Johnson at Alternet suggests that the Romney Campaign actually has a strategy of lying that relies on the press just letting them say what they want to. Read: “Romney’s Campaign Strategy: Lie, Lie, and Lie Some More — Can Democracy Survive with 0% Media Accountability?”.
The Romney campaign has turned to a strategy of swamping the public with flat-out, blatant lies, one after another, again and again, endlessly and lavishly repeated. They do this because they are making a calculation that it will work! So what is going on? And can democracy survive this assault?The Growing List Of Lies
This week’s lie is the “Obama gutted welfare reform” nonsense. See Bill Scher’s must-read response, Romney’s Welfare Lie: A Betrayal Of Conservatism . The reporting conveys the Romney message, like this: Romney accuses Obama of dismantling welfare reform . The lie is driven home by a massive $$-driven carpet bombing of ads.
The next-most recent lies was the “Obama is trying to keep military families from voting” lie . This lie, repeated over and over, coordinated with outside groups, reinforces the “Democrats are anti-military” narrative.
Before that was the “You didn’t build that” lie , where the Romney campaign doctored audio to make it sound as though President Obama said something he didn’t say. (And got away with it .) This lie, repeated over and over, reinforces the “Democrats are anti-business” narrative.
This one on welfare reinforces the “Democrats take your money and give it to black people” narrative. “We will end a culture of dependency and restore a culture of good, hard work,” said Romney , promising to make them work good and hard.
Rachel Maddow’s blog has been keeping track of the Romney lies , and it is a loooooong list.
They’ve gone less after Todd however since the race-baiting and misogyny strategy is clearly enhanced through picking on woman and minority O’Brien. That’s why Limbaugh is having a total hate-filled hey day with what’s clearly a distortion and lie on Sununu’s part. They love hating on the gay and well educated Rachel Maddow.
Ryan Cooper–writing at Washington Monthly–-takes note of Romney’s lies and the press response.
On the one hand, the political media has been remarkably susceptible to bullying from the right. Ginned-up hysteria and a gullible, cowardly, lazy press has gotten enormous mileage from the right.
But as I was saying this morning, the Romney camp has been caught somewhat flatfooted already by the newly minted power of the left to influence the discourse. Watch Anderson Cooper pin down Newt Gingrich on this Romney ad. Gingrich does the usual squirming, subject changing, and putting forth a squid-ink fog of misdirection, but when Cooper just keeps bearing down on the fact that the ad is blatantly lying, even Newt is forced to say that the ad is okay because, as Paul says, “Barack Obama and those who work for him are, in Newt’s opinion, the kind of people who would gut work requirements if they could, so therefore it’s OK to say that they are actually doing it, even though they aren’t.” Gingrich ends up sounding like a snake.
In politics, moral arguments are powerful, and true moral arguments even more so. The left will be at their strongest handed this sort of red meat on a platter. And Romney’s straight-up bald-faced lying pushes the Republican ability to strong-arm mainstream journalists to the very limit. It’s a slap in the face whose arrogant contempt couldn’t be more obvious. Romney is saying to the press, “You’re stupid, and gullible, and I dare you to call a spade a spade.”
Now, someone betting on journalistic integrity in this country would lose a lot of money. But a lot of people watch Anderson Cooper. Even Brian Williams couldn’t stomach the ad which edited out the part where Obama was quoting a McCain staffer.
Seems to me that we have a decent shot of getting these lies covered for what they are. Worth a shot, anyway.
Access to information is essential to the health of democracy for at least two reasons. First, it ensures that citizens make responsible, informed choices rather than acting out of ignorance or misinformation. Second, information serves a “checking function” by ensuring that elected representatives uphold their oaths of office and carry out the wishes of those who elected them.
In the United States, the media is often called the fourth branch of government (or “fourth estate”). That’s because it monitors the political process in order to ensure that political players don’t abuse the democratic process.
Others call the media the fourth branch of government because it plays such an important role in the fortunes of political candidates and issues. This is where the role of the media can become controversial.
In particular, Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” The positive relationship between the growth of the free press and the process of democratization is thought to be reciprocal. The core claim is that, in the first stage, the initial transition from autocracy opens up the state control of the media to private ownership, diffuses access, and reduces official censorship and government control of information. The public thereby receives greater exposure to a wider variety of cultural products and ideas through access to multiple radio and TV channels, as well as the diffusion of new technologies such as the Internet and mobile telephones. Once media liberalization has commenced, in the second stage democratic consolidation is strengthened where journalists in
independent newspapers, radio and television stations facilitate greater transparency and accountability in governance, by serving in their watch-dog roles to deter corruption and malfeasance, as well as providing a civic forum for multiple voices.
In other words, O’Brien, Todd, and Maddow are all doing their jobs which is basically the function of a healthy democracy. The tools of right wing propaganda can spew whatever they want and have the right to do so. However, it is the roll of a journalist in democracy to call a misstatement of fact what it is; a lie in servitude to a growing and dangerous plutocracy.
I thought I’d put up an open thread to discuss the ongoing Mitt Shady meltdown–or anything else on your mind. I’m gearing up to listen to Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell and I’ll post anything interesting they have to say. If you’re watching or listening too, please join in.
I know you’re already aware that Romney demanded a retraction from The Boston Globe, and they informed him that their story is solid and they’re not backing down. Of course the Obama campaign laughed their asses off at Romney’s demand for an apology from them. Here are some of the latest headlines on the Mitt Shady meldown.
I really like this post by Brian Beutler: Cutting Through The Bain Bamboozlement
Technical questions are, for the moment, dominating the dispute over when Mitt Romney really left Bain Capital. But from my point of view, on the sidelines of this particular story, it all seems much, much simpler.
The reason this issue is in dispute at all is because Mitt Romney wants full political inoculation from anything Bain did between early 1999 and 2002, when he definitely truly left the company. He wasn’t in charge, except in a narrow, technical sense; he’d delegated his duties; Bain’s business practices from that period can’t be hung around his neck.
If you’re not already belly-laughing think about it this way.
For Romney to be truly off the hook politically for the stuff Bain was doing, he’d have to claim not lack of control, but lack of knowledge. And that’s just not going to wash with anyone. He could try going the “I didn’t have even the slightest idea what the company I technically still owned was doing” route, but he’d be marking himself as either dishonest or incompetent.
The Romney campaign did not dispute the contents of the documents reviewed by the Globe but insisted Romney had nothing to do with Bain Capital’s operations after he became chief executive of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.
“The article is not accurate,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “As Bain Capital has said, as Governor Romney has said, and as has been confirmed by independent fact checkers multiple times, Governor Romney left Bain Capital in February of 1999 to run the Olympics and had no input on investments or management of companies after that point.” [….]
But a former SEC commissioner told the Globe that even if Romney did not have his hand in Bain Capital’s day-to-day operations, he was still responsible for them, as the firm’s boss.
“It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to say he was technically in charge on paper but he had nothing to do with Bain’s operations,” said Roberta S. Karmel, now a professor at Brooklyn Law School. “Was he getting paid? He’s the sole stockholder. Are you telling me he owned the company but had no say in its investments?”
The Romney campaign claimed Karmel is biased, noting that she was appointed by Democratic President Jimmy Carter. Karmel did not donate to Obama in 2008 and has not given to the president’s campaign this year, either.
Romney has consistently insisted that he was too busy organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics to take part in Bain business between 1999 and that event. But in the testimony, which was provided to The Huffington Post, Romney noted that he regularly traveled back to Massachusetts. “[T]here were a number of social trips and business trips that brought me back to Massachusetts, board meetings, Thanksgiving and so forth,” he said.
Romney’s sworn testimony was given as part of a hearing to determine whether he had sufficient residency status in Massachusetts to run for governor.
Romney testified that he “remained on the board of the Staples Corporation and Marriott International, the Life Like Corporation” at the time.
Yet in the Aug. 12, 2011, federal disclosure form filed as part of his presidential bid, he said, “Mr. Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999 to head the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Since February 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way.”
Bain, a private equity firm, held a stake in the Lifelike Co. until the end of 2001, including during the period in which Romney claimed to have no business involvement with Bain entities. Bain had heavily invested in Lifelike, a company that Romney identified personally as an opportunity, in 1996 and sold its shares in late 2001. His involvement with Lifelike contradicts his assertion that he had no involvement with Bain business. His testimony is supported by his 2001 Massachusetts State Ethics Commission filing, in which he lists himself as a member of Lifelike’s board.
For the Romney campaign, the calculation is complex, as his advisers are weighing the benefits of transparency against the potential problems he could face should the documents reveal — or even appear to reveal — that he has gamed the tax code.
For now, Romney’s advisers said that the candidate has been sufficiently transparent and that he has no plans to disclose additional tax filings. But with four months left until Election Day — and the near-certainty that Romney will face questions about his finances in any interviews and in the fall debates — his advisers might be forced to reevaluate their strategy if the issue damages his standing in the polls.
Even some Republicans are describing the Romney position as problematic. Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, a onetime party chairman, said this week that he would provide more than two years’ worth of documents if he were in Romney’s shoes.
Strategist Mark McKinnon said the candidate’s reluctance to release his taxes feeds into the Obama campaign’s argument that Romney is hiding something and taking advantage of the system to enrich himself.
The longer Romney stalls, the worse this is going to get. He’s starting to sound like Nixon claiming “I am not a crook.”
Herman Cain made another wacky comment about Libya yesterday. First up, he tried to “clarify” his recent brain freeze on Libya at a press conference in Florida. Think Progress has the transcript.
Do I agree with siding with the opposition? Do I agree with saying that Qadhafi should go? Do I agree that they now have a country where you’ve got Taliban and Al Qaeda that’s going to be part of the government? … Do I agree with not knowing the government was going to — which part was he asking me about? I was trying to get him to be specific and he wouldn’t be specific.
And then there’s this from the same Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel interview in which Cain appeared not to know anything about Libya, also from Think Progress:
JOURNAL SENTINEL: Would you favor a military strike against Iran to stop that country from developing a nuclear capability?
CAIN: That is not a practical, top-tier alternative and here’s why. If you look at the topography of Iran. Where are you going to strike? It’s very mountainous. That’s what makes it very difficult. Secondly, that would be a decision that would need to be coordinated and discussed with our friends in that part of the world like Israel. But for the United States to unilaterally go in and attack Iran to try and stop them, I would want to consult with the intelligence community, the commanders on the ground in that part of the world, which I have stated before. But we should — I don’t have all the information necessary to make that decision.
Mountains? As Think Progress explains,
But yes, Iran does have mountains. However, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta noted the other day, the principle reason that an attack on Iran would be a bad idea is not because it is mountainous, but because it won’t achieve the objective of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In addition to that, a strike would all but end the reform movement in Iran, spark a wider regional war and incentivize the regime to weaponize its nuclear program.
As everyone knows by now, Cain has been provided with Secret Service protection, and he’s been telling audiences that he got it because of his high poll ratings and because he’s being “hounded” by the press. From the NY Daily News:
The media horde hounding Herman Cain was not the reason the U.S. Secret Service gave him a security detail, a federal official said Friday.
“Media coverage or the number of media covering is not a factor in the decision of whether or not a candidate needs USSS protection,” a Department of Homeland Security official told the Daily News.
The GOP presidential hopeful — who has been a walking headline in recent weeks due largely to claims he sexually harassed at least four women — has faced threats and racially-fueled rhetoric, The Associated Press reported.
Cain refused to answer questions about the threats.
“The thing about Secret Service is ‘secret,’ so it would not be appropriate to discuss anything about it,” Cain said. “We wanted to move to that next level because of my ranking in the polls and the additional scrutiny I’ve been getting.”
“We’re not scared of you guys…and gals,” an exuberant Cain told reporters.
Is it just me, or are other people beginning to feel like they’ve gone down the rabbit hole and smoked some of whatever that caterpillar was smoking?
There was that recent recent remark from Cain, “We need a leader, not a reader.” It turns out that was a quote from The Simpsons movie. And what about the quote he used at the end of a debate in August:
“A poet once said, ‘Life can be a challenge, life can seem impossible, but it’s never easy when there’s so much on the line.'” (Aug. 11 Republican debate)
That was a direct quote from the Pokemon theme song, sung by Donna Summer!
Well, I guess I’m going to have to start watching more TV, because apparently Rachel Maddow explained the whole thing to her audience about a week ago. She says it’s performance art.
Is is possible that Cain could really be scamming the Republicans just to show how stupid they are? Exactly what’s going on here anyway? Actually even some Republicans are getting confused by Cain’s antics. (Warning: link goes to Hot Air)
I can’t tell if he’s joking or not, which is a recurring theme lately in some of his pronouncements about foreign policy. He was joking, I think, when he said he’d offered to make Kissinger secretary of state again. He wasn’t joking, I thought, when he answered a question about whether his grasp of foreign policy is too slight with “9-9-9,” although the Standard’s John McCormack theorized last night on Twitter that maybe he was actually saying, “Nein, nein, nein,” in which case he was joking. The fact that we’ve reached the point where no answer is too goofy to be instantly ruled out as non-serious seems … problematic.
Cain brought up the GOP debate on foreign policy two days earlier.
“That’s a tough subject. You don’t want to get your facts mixed up,” he said.
He defended his view that presidents and presidential candidates don’t need to be immersed in the fine print of world affairs – they simply need to be leaders who can surround themselves with the right people and sift through their advice.
“I’m not supposed to know anything about foreign policy. Just thought I’d throw that out,” he said, a dig at his critics.
“I want to talk to commanders on the ground. Because you run for president (people say) you need to have the answer. No, you don’t! No, you don’t! That’s not good decision-making,” said Cain.
Mitt Romney isn’t as practiced a joker as Herman Cain, but some very weird stuff has been coming out about him. The Boston Globe had an article that I’m not allowed to read, because they’ve locked everything behind a pay wall worse that the one at the NYT. Luckily, some other sites did get access to the article, so I’ll link to them. From Alternet:
On their way out of the governor’s office and onto the presidential campaign trail, aides to Mitt Romney almost completely obliterated their electronic records, deleting emails, purchasing hard drives, and replacing computers, a investigation by the Boston Globe found. “The governor’s office has found no e-mails from 2002-2006 in our possession,’’ an aide to the current governor, Deval Patrick, told the Globe. Meanwhile, 11 Romney aides — many of whom went on to work on Romney’s 2008 campaign — purchased their state-issued computer hard drives as they left state employment.
Like other states and the federal government, Massachusetts has a law that requires such files be preserved for the state archives. Moreover, Secretary of State William Galvin, who oversees the state Public Records Law, “said it appeared odd” that aides could purchases state property. “I don’t sell things to people who work for me,’’ Galvin said.
WTF?! Okay, my guess is they didn’t want the citizens of Massachusetts to find out that they did nothing while Romney was Governor except work on their boss’s future presidential campaign. Plenty of people are trying to find out what they’re covering up though. Romney and his aides claim everything they did was legal–although they haven’t provided any evidence that’s true.
Next to these two nutcases, Newt Gingrich just looks like a normal corrupt politician.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A confident and at times defiant Newt Gingrich defended himself Friday against growing questions about his lucrative consulting career, and he acknowledged that how he handles the vetting process will determine whether he can be “a legitimate front-runner” for the Republican presidential nomination.
Calling his recent surge toward the top of the polls “almost disorienting,” Gingrich fielded questions at a news conference here about his myriad money-making ventures in the decade since his tenure as House speaker ended. They include consulting contracts with Freddie Mac, the quasi-public mortgage company, and millions of dollars from health-care corporations seeking access to him.
“Somebody who’s a front-runner for the presidency of the United States should get a full vetting,” Gingrich said. “It’s the nature of the process. If I’m able to answer them [questions] in a way that the American people feel comfortable, then I’ll be a legitimate front-runner.”
Enjoy it while you can, Newt. It won’t last. But for now, the other four crazies in the clown car–Bachmann, Perry, Paul, Santorum–have been virtually eclipsed, and of course Huntsman was never even in the car.
And then there are those jokers on the so-called Super Committee. According to The New York Times, they’re still at a “deep impasse.”
Just 72 hours before a deadline to present Congress with a plan to cut $1.2 trillion from the nation’s deficit, members of a joint Congressional committee remained at a deep impasse on Friday after Democrats rejected a new Republican proposal devised with the help of Speaker John A. Boehner.
Pessimism mounted among members of the committee about their ability to strike a deal by Monday and avert a high-profile failure that would demonstrate anew the inability of the two parties on Capitol Hill to reach consensus about how to attack the nation’s mounting public debt. The partisan divide was also showcased Friday by a vote in the House to reject a Republican-backed constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.
Despite time running out on the committee created by the summer agreement to raise the federal debt limit, negotiations were in disarray, with Republicans and Democrats even disputing what precisely divided them. One panel member said that he still had slim hope for a deal but that it would take an extraordinary development to end the stalemate and avoid a series of automatic cuts in 2013 that would reduce federal services and make substantial reductions in Pentagon spending.
Whatever. I hope they fail and have to explain to the American people why they’re drastically cutting Medicare and Medicaid.
And now for some real earthshaking news. I don’t have the ability to explain it to you, but even I know it’s big. From the Journal Nature:
At the heart of the weirdness for which the field of quantum mechanics is famous is the wavefunction, a powerful but mysterious entity that is used to determine the probabilities that quantum particles will have certain properties. Now, a preprint posted online on 14 November1 reopens the question of what the wavefunction represents — with an answer that could rock quantum theory to its core. Whereas many physicists have generally interpreted the wavefunction as a statistical tool that reflects our ignorance of the particles being measured, the authors of the latest paper argue that, instead, it is physically real.
“I don’t like to sound hyperbolic, but I think the word ‘seismic’ is likely to apply to this paper,” says Antony Valentini, a theoretical physicist specializing in quantum foundations at Clemson University in South Carolina.
Go read it. I’m sure we’ll be hearing much much more about this once the paper is published. That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?
Good morning, Minx here…yeah…y’all are stuck with me today! I am covering for Dakinikat who is enjoying room service in the mile high city. So let’s get the TGIFriday post off with a bang…well let’s make that a whimper.
First thing, the CDC came out with some new statistics on Antidepressant use…and I just can’t imagine how the results seem so shocking. It isn’t like we are all experiencing a 1% life. CDC: Antidepressant use skyrockets 400% in past 20 years
Use of antidepressant drugs has soared nearly 400% since 1988, making the medication the most frequently used by people ages 18-44, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.
No shit? As someone who has been on Zoloft aka “happy pill” for the last 12 years…I can honestly say there is no way I could handle the misery index…which seems to have hit epic proportions. U.S. misery index rises to highest since 1983
An unofficial gauge of human misery in the United States rose last month to a 28-year high as Americans struggled with rising inflation and high unemployment.
The misery index — which is simply the sum of the country’s inflation and unemployment rates — rose to 13.0, pushed up by higher price data the government reported on Wednesday.
Is it a joke that these two reports were released within hours of each other? What timing!
Ya, want misery? I’ll give you misery…think of what the occupy folks will be dealing with in the coming months. Freezing temps.
Down here in Banjoland we have our first frost warning. A friend of mine headed up to Franklin, NC Thursday morning and said she saw a big dusting of snow on the mountains. The cold is coming…What does that mean for the Occupy Protesters? At some point, it is going to get so cold in some Occupy cities that safety issues become a factor.
I found this photo on the OccupyBoston Facebook page…and I had to share it with you. Isn’t it great? BTW, it looks like that picture was taking in Time Square, NYC…
The rest of my post is going to focus on jobs…I don’t know where to begin. You may have heard that Obama got another no answer today from Congress on his jobs bill. New Senate Battle Over Obama’s Jobs Bill, Now Piecemeal – NYTimes.com
For the second time in 10 days, the Senate on Thursday rejected Democratic efforts to take up a jobs bill championed by President Obama.
The vote to advance the bill was 50 to 50. Democrats needed 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.
This time, the bill was narrowed to provide $35 billion to state and local governments to prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers and firefighters. To offset the cost, the bill would impose a surtax of 0.5 percent, starting in 2013, on income in excess of $1 million.
Yet while this is going on, ABC News is reporting on a big US Dept. of Energy loan given to a company that builds electric cars. Sounds good huh? But get this: Car Company Gets U.S. Loan, Builds Cars In Finland – ABC News
With the approval of the Obama administration, an electric car company that received a $529 million federal government loan guarantee is assembling its first line of cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work.
Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department’s $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the job of assembling the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car has been outsourced to Finland.
Sad, isn’t it…
“There was no contract manufacturer in the U.S. that could actually produce our vehicle,” the car company’s founder and namesake told ABC News. “They don’t exist here.”
The article goes on to say the company has spent some of the money here in the US on design…but the new 500 jobs are going to be outsourced out of the US.
I know that I have been very redundant on the recent Alabama immigration law, but this next article makes a huge point. Few Americans Take Immigrants’ Jobs in Alabama – ABC News
Potato farmer Keith Smith saw most of his immigrant workers leave after Alabama’s tough immigration law took effect, so he hired Americans. It hasn’t worked out: Most show up late, work slower than seasoned farm hands and are ready to call it a day after lunch or by midafternoon. Some quit after a single day.
In Alabama and other parts of the country, farmers must look beyond the nation’s borders for labor because many Americans simply don’t want the backbreaking, low-paying jobs immigrants are willing to take. Politicians who support the law say over time more unemployed Americans will fill these jobs. They insist it’s too early to consider the law a failure, yet numbers from the governor’s office show only nominal interest.
“I’ve had people calling me wanting to work,” Smith said. “I haven’t turned any of them down, but they’re not any good. It’s hard work, they just don’t work like the Hispanics with experience.”
The law makers who pass things like this immigration law in Alabama and Georgia say it is to save the American jobs the “illegals” are taking from Americans. That is quite a statement. Your average American is not going to do the work because it is just above slave labor wages…and it is too damn hard…they can’t do it.
Sen. Scott Beason, a Republican, said he has received several emails and phone calls from people thanking him for helping them get jobs. He described one getting promoted from a part-time job with no benefits to a full-time job with benefits because some other immigrant workers left. He said none of the workers who thanked him have wanted to talk to the media.
Sounds like a bunch of B.S. to me….my guess is the Republican is stretching the spin just a bit…Especially when you see things like this: Wal-Mart Cuts Some Health Care Benefits – NYTimes.com
After trying to mollify its critics in recent years by offering better health care benefits to its employees, Wal-Mart is substantially rolling back coverage for part-time workers and significantly raising premiums for many full-time staff.
How can small businesses and farms hire someone to replace an immigrant worker, give the person a promotion and benefits when profitable companies are cutting healthcare benefits and raising the cost of insurance premiums for the employees who get to keep their benefits?
In Georgia, you know the state that Obama has so much praise for its Georgia Works Slavery program: Georgia may cut jobless benefits to pay off federal loan | ajc.com
Georgia will consider cutting back weekly unemployment checks by $30 next year to help pay off a federal loan the state assumed to maintain benefits for hundreds of thousands of jobless workers.
That is 10 percent of the average unemployment check Georgians get…if it was hard to survive at 300 a month, what the hell can someone do with 270 a month? (The article states top unemployment checks are 330 a week…but everyone I know on unemployment gets just 300 bucks. So I believe those numbers are just an estimate.)
Georgia owes the federal government $721 million in loans it took out to maintain its unemployment benefit fund. There are 487,471 Georgians drawing unemployment checks, according to a state report released Thursday. The Great Recession has created a pool of long-term jobless — about 256,900 in Georgia — who have been out of work at least 27 weeks.
There are many other states struggling to pay back loans to the federal government. It would not surprise me if other states are looking to cut unemployment benefits too. And today Georgia’s unemployment numbers were released.
The number of jobless rose to 10.3, the highest in Georgia since January.
What a coincidence…See what I mean about the perfect timing?
And if all that isn’t depressing enough, this will be the icing on the misery cake: First look at US pay data, it’s awful | David Cay Johnston
Anyone who wants to understand the enduring nature of Occupy Wall Street and similar protests across the country need only look at the first official data on 2010 paychecks, which the U.S. government posted on the Internet on Wednesday.
The figures from payroll taxes reported to the Social Security Administration on jobs and pay are, in a word, awful.
These are important and powerful figures. Maybe the reason the government does not announce their release — and so far I am the only journalist who writes about them each year — is the data show how the United States smolders while Washington fiddles.
With an opener like that, you know its bad numbers…
There were fewer jobs and they paid less last year, except at the very top where, the number of people making more than $1 million increased by 20 percent over 2009.
The median paycheck — half made more, half less — fell again in 2010, down 1.2 percent to $26,364. That works out to $507 a week, the lowest level, after adjusting for inflation, since 1999.
The number of Americans with any work fell again last year, down by more than a half million from 2009 to less than 150.4 million.
Check out the nifty graph on that link.
More significantly, the number of people with any work has fallen by 5.2 million since 2007, when the worst recession since the Great Depression began, with a massive taxpayer bailout of Wall Street following in late 2008.
This means 3.3 percent of people who had a job in 2007, or one in every
3330, went all of 2010 without earning a dollar. (Update: the original version of this column used the wrong ratio.)
In addition to the 5.2 million people who no longer have any work add roughly 4.5 million people who, due to population growth, would normally join the workforce in three years and you have close to 10 million workers who did not find even an hour of paid work in 2010.
Quick, somebody get me my happy pill!
I don’t want to leave y’all with a downer story, so here is a link to lighten the mood.
Granted, the subject is not funny…that being the personhood bills and life begins at conception/fertilization bills floating about, but the way Maddow approaches the subject is funny. Damn funny.
This evening on her show, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow focused on a question recently posed to Mitt Romney during a town hall gathering. This question, as Maddow put it, seemed to “stump” the GOP candidate, which she found to be curious given that many shows — including her own — have been emailing Romney’s campaign people for an answer to this very same question, so Romney must have at least some awareness that this issue is out there and on people’s minds. What question, you ask?
“You were on Governor Huckabee’s show a few weeks ago, and one of the things that you folks talked about was that you would support a ‘life begins at conception’ amendment. Now, that would essentially mean banning most forms of birth control. Ninety-eight percent of American women — including me — use birth control. So could you help me understand why you oppose the use of birth control?”
Romney’s answer? “I don’t.” [Laughter] “I’m sorry. Life begins at conception; birth control prevents conception.”
What an answer right? Typical of an uneducated GOP Presidential candidate. So Maddow took the time to “school” Romney on the uterus and its eccentricities.
But, Maddow said, the “Life Begins at Conception” / “Mississippi Personhood” amendment that Romney supports does not only aim to ban abortion. Since any fertilized egg would be considered a person, “a miscarriage would be cause for a criminal investigation.” In addition, it would indeed potentially outlaw certain forms of birth control. So it would seem, Maddow continued, that Romney doesn’t seem to fully understand the amendment he professes to support.
Going back to that town hall meeting in Sioux City, then, Maddow showed footage of that same young woman informing Romney that some forms of hormonal birth control actually prevent implantation (when an already fertilized egg, or blastocyst, becomes attached to the uterine wall) rather than conception (which is when sperm fertilizes an egg). “The pill” is an example of hormonal birth control, by the way, and is quite popular and widely-used.
Maddow then shared the sort of “light bulb moment” she had while watching and re-watching Romney’s interaction with that young woman: Politics? “Mostly guys.” And the media? “REALLY mostly guys.”
So why not try and drop a lil’ uterus knowledge, if you will, on dudes who might not really know how lady parts work? Time for…. The man cave! Beer included. (If the term “lady cave” didn’t sound so… completely vaginal…
So check out the link and watch the segment entitled, “Dude! Where’s my uterus!”
That will do it for today’s reads, what are you up to this October Friday morning?