Thursday Reads: Demographics, Anti-Science Republicans, and Biblical Views of Rape

Good Morning!!

The meme of the day yesterday was that Latino voters reelected President Obama. As usual, the role of women in the election is getting short shrift. In fact, the gender gap this year was even bigger than in 2008. At HuffPo, Laura Bassett writes:

According to CNN’s exit polls, 55 percent of women voted for Obama, while only 44 percent voted for Mitt Romney. Men preferred Romney by a margin of 52 to 45 percent, and women made up about 54 percent of the electorate. In total, the gender gap on Tuesday added up to 18 percent — a significantly wider margin than the 12-point gender gap in the 2008 election.

Women’s strong support in the swing states gave Obama a significant advantage over Romney, despite his losses among men and independents. While Obama lost by 10 percentage points among independents in Ohio, he won by 12 points among women in the state. In New Hampshire, women voted for Obama over Romney by a margin of 58 to 42 percent, while men preferred Romney by a narrow 4-point gap. Pennsylvania showed a 16-point gender gap that tipped the scale toward Obama.

Yes, Latinos voted for Obama by a wide margin, but guess what? There was a gender gap there too.

Overall Obama won three out of every four votes (75%) cast by Hispanic women and 63% of Hispanic men, a 12-point gender gap. Four years ago the gap was only four points as Obama won 64% of men and 68% of Latino women. Romney won 35% of Latino men and 24% of women.

Here’s another interesting demographic factoid: there isn’t much of a gender gap when it comes to voters wanting to keep abortion legal, and that holds true with Latinos as well as voters overall.

Exit poll results found that about two-thirds of Hispanics (66%) said that abortion should be legal while 28% disagreed. Among all voters, a somewhat smaller majority (59%) would allow legal abortions while 37% were opposed.

There is no gender gap on views on abortion among Hispanics or among all voters, according to national exit polling. About two-thirds of men (64%) and Latino women (67%) would permit legal abortion, as would 58% of all male voters nationally and 60% of women.

As Dakinikat noted yesterday, Republicans are busy trying to figure out how to attract Latino voters, who represent about 10% of the U.S. population. But they refuse to recognize the power of women voters, and they apparently haven’t noticed that overall, the majority of both men and women disapprove of Republicans using the government to control women’s bodies.

If the anti-science-and-math Republicans hadn’t disdained Nate Silver’s predictions, they could have been forewarned. On October 21, Silver wrote about the “historically” huge gender gap in 2012.

If only women voted, President Obama would be on track for a landslide re-election, equaling or exceeding his margin of victory over John McCain in 2008. Mr. Obama would be an overwhelming favorite in Ohio, Florida, Virginia and most every other place that is conventionally considered a swing state. The only question would be whether he could forge ahead into traditionally red states, like Georgia, Montana and Arizona.

If only men voted, Mr. Obama would be biding his time until a crushing defeat at the hands of Mitt Romney, who might win by a similar margin to the one Ronald Reagan realized over Jimmy Carter in 1980. Only California, Illinois, Hawaii and a few states in the Northeast could be considered safely Democratic. Every other state would lean red, or would at least be a toss-up.

IMHO, it would behoove both Democrats and Republicans to keep in mind that women are more than half of the electorate, and we are sick and tired of being pushed around.

In other news,

it came out yesterday that Mitch McConnell offered Marco Rubio the opportunity to run the NRSC for the midterm elections in 2014, but Rubio turned the job down. From Real Clear Politics:

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has been courted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to take over the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2014 midterm season, but the freshman lawmaker declined the entreaty, sources told RCP.

It might seem early to think about the next campaign cycle, but Senate leadership elections will take place in short order. And given the GOP’s losses in Senate races Tuesday night, the party is looking to make some changes.

McConnell probably hoped that Rubio could help the party with it’s diversity issues.

Rubio, a rapidly rising star in the party after his huge but unlikely victory in the 2010 election, is a favorite of McConnell’s. And as a 41-year-old Cuban-American capable of delivering some of the party’s best speeches, he’s someone the GOP brass likes to put in front of the cameras. Not only is he inspirational, but he helps the diversity-challenged party bridge several divides with voters.

What’s more, Rubio is a star fundraiser who was able to pull in hundreds of thousands of dollars for Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid, a skill that would be a boon to the Senate campaign committee. Of course, he can still be used by the NRSC to raise money, but he wouldn’t have to deal with the party’s divisive primaries as one of its leading strategists.

Much to McConnell’s chagrin — and for the second time in several months — Rubio’s career will not go in the direction that the Kentucky senator had been hoping for: When Romney was poring over running-mate prospects, McConnell was pining for Rubio, and he made his preference well known.

I just had to share this:

Dick Morris’ attempt to explain why he was so wrong in his prediction that Romney would win the election in a landslide, taking 325 electoral votes.

I’ve got egg on my face. I predicted a Romney landslide and, instead, we ended up with an Obama squeaker.

According to Morris, if Romney had won with 325 electoral votes it would have been a landslide. If Obama wins Florida, he’ll get 335 electoral votes, and it won’t be a landslide–it’ll be a “squeaker.”

The key reason for my bum prediction is that I mistakenly believed that the 2008 surge in black, Latino, and young voter turnout would recede in 2012 to “normal” levels. Didn’t happen. These high levels of minority and young voter participation are here to stay. And, with them, a permanent reshaping of our nation’s politics.

In 2012, 13% of the vote was cast by blacks. In 04, it was 11%. This year, 10% was Latino. In ’04 it was 8%. This time, 19% was cast by voters under 30 years of age. In ’04 it was 17%. Taken together, these results swelled the ranks of Obama’s three-tiered base by five to six points, accounting fully for his victory.

Morris could have done what the Obama campaign did and looked at the latest census numbers, but right wingers don’t believe in empirical evidence. But the real cause of Morris’ failure to make the correct prediction was Sandy and Chris Christie.

But the more proximate cause of my error was that I did not take full account of the impact of hurricane Sandy and of Governor Chris Christie’s bipartisan march through New Jersey arm in arm with President Obama. Not to mention Christe’s fawning promotion of Obama’s presidential leadership.

It made all the difference.

See? Morris’ mistaken prediction had nothing to do with Morris’ stupidity and the fact that he lives in the Fox News right wing bubble.

Harry Reid says he will take action to reform the filibuster rules.

From HuffPo:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledged on Wednesday to change the rules of the Senate so that the minority party has fewer tools to obstruct legislative business….

“I want to work together, but I also want everyone to also understand, you cannot push us around. We want to work together,” Reid said.

“I do” have plans to change the Senate rules, he added. “I have said so publicly and I continue to feel that way … I think the rules have been abused, and we are going to work to change them. We will not do away with the filibuster, but we will make the senate a more meaningful place. We are going to make it so we can get things done.”

I sure do hope he means that.

Finally, a longer read.

I think we all agree that the Republican Party has been taken over by right wing religious nuts who claim to take the bible literally–even though they tend to pick and choose which parts of the Bible to pay attention to and which parts to ignore.

During the past couple of years, we watched Republicans in statehouses around the the country do their darnedest to take away women’s access to abortion and even contraception.

Mitt Romney chose as his VP a man who tried to change the definition of rape and who believes that rape is just another method of conception.

A string of Republican officeholders and candidates unself-consciously revealed themselves to be utter troglodytes who had bizarre notions about rape and who were quite willing to force victims of rape and incest who were impregnated to bear their perpetrators’ offspring.

If anyone thinks Republican crazies will change their minds just because women successfully voted down Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock and Rick Berg, I think they’d be sadly mistaken. I want to recommend an article I read at Alternet a few days ago: What the Bible Says About Rape. It’s long, but a very important read. Here are the opening paragraphs:

Christians of many stripes are scrambling to distance themselves, their religion, or their God from Republican comments about rape . The latest furor is about Washington State congressional candidate John Koster, who opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest and added for good measure that “incest is so rare, I mean it’s so rare.” Before that, it was Indiana candidate Richard Mourdock, who said, “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen” backed up by Texas senator John Cornyn insisting that “life is a gift from God.” These men share the January sentiment of Rick Santorum: “the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you.”

Those Christians who see the Bible as a human, historical document have the right to distance themselves. Those who see the Bible as the unique and perfect revelation of the Divine, essentially dictated by God to the writers, do not. The fact is, the perspective that God intends rape babies and that such pregnancies should be allowed to run their course is perfectly biblical.

I am not going to argue here that the Bible teaches that life begins at conception. It doesn’t. The Bible writers had no concept of conception, and no Bible writer values the life of a fetus on par with the life of an infant or an older child. One does say that God knows us while we are developing in the womb, but another says he knows us even before . Levitical law prescribes a fine for a man who accidentally triggers a miscarriage . It is not the same as the penalty for manslaughter. Therapeutic abortion is never mentioned, nor is the status of the fetus that spontaneously aborts. Under Jewish law, a newborn isn’t circumcised and blessed until he is eight days old, having clearly survived the high mortality peri-natal period. For centuries the Catholic Church believed that “ensoulment” occurred and a fetus became a person at the time of quickening or first movement, sometime during the second trimester.

However, if we take the viewpoint of biblical literalists and treat the Good Book as if it were authored by a single perfect, unchanging Deity, then a man is on solid ground thinking that rape babies are part of God’s intentions.

As long as the Republican Party is controlled by “christians” who take the bible literally, women’s rights to autonomy are threatened. No woman should vote for any Republican as long as this state of affairs continues.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

I have a potpourri of great reads for you this morning, so let’s get started.

First up, people in the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy have barely begun to recover. CBS News/AP report that: The scale of post-Sandy challenge in NY, NJ is unprecedented.

Two major airports reopened and the New York Stock Exchange got back to business Wednesday, while across the river in New Jersey, National Guardsmen rushed to feed and rescue flood victims two days aftersuperstorm Sandy struck.

For the first time since the storm slammed the Northeast, killing at least 63 people and inflicting billions of dollars in damage, brilliant sunshine washed over the nation’s largest city — a striking sight after days of gray skies, rain and wind. The light gave officials and residents a true glimpse of destruction on a scale that the region has never seen before.

At the stock exchange, running on generator power, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a thumbs-up and rang the opening bell to whoops from traders on the floor. Trading resumed after the first two-day weather shutdown since the Blizzard of 1888.

New York’s subway system was still down, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said parts of it will begin running again on Thursday. And he said some commuter rail service between the city and its suburbs would resume on Wednesday afternoon.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie and his new BFF Barack Obama toured the devastation. From The New York Times: An Unlikely Political Pair, United by a Disaster.

President Obama toured the storm-tossed boardwalks of New Jersey’s ravaged coastline on Wednesday, in a vivid display of big-government muscle and bipartisan harmony that confronted Mitt Romney with a vexing challenge just as he returned to the campaign trail in Florida.

The scene of Mr. Obama greeting his onetime political antagonist Gov. Chris Christie in Atlantic City was a striking departure from what has become an increasingly bitter campaign, marked by sharp divisions between Mr. Romney’s more limited view of the federal role and Mr. Obama’s more expansive vision. The president placed a hand on Mr. Christie’s back and guided him to Marine One, where the two men shared a grim flight over shattered sea walls, burning houses and a submerged roller coaster.

Speaking to storm victims at a community center in the hard-hit town of Brigantine, Mr. Obama said, “We are going to be here for the long haul.” Mr. Christie thanked the president for his visit, saying, “It’s really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that’s going on here in New Jersey.”

The tableau of bipartisan cooperation, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s highly visible role in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, has put Mr. Romney in an awkward position…

As for Mitt Romney, he was getting hammered by the media in Ohio for two ads in which he falsely implied that Chrysler and GM were planning to ship American jobs to China. It looks to me as if Romney has given up the ghost in Ohio, because he headed to Florida yesterday, where a new Quinnipiac poll shows Obama leading by one point.

And last night the NYT editorial board slammed Romney for “cross[ing] a red line.”

When General Motors tells a presidential campaign that it is engaging in “cynical campaign politics at its worst,” that’s a pretty good signal that the campaign has crossed a red line and ought to pull back. Not Mitt Romney’s campaign. Having broadcast an outrageously deceitful ad attacking the auto bailout, the campaign ignored the howls from carmakers and came back with more.

Mr. Romney apparently plans to end his race as he began it: playing lowest-common-denominator politics, saying anything necessary to achieve power and blithely deceiving voters desperate for clarity and truth.

I think Romney may have finally sunk his campaign with those lying ads about the auto bailout. I wonder if that has contributed to polls that show Obama widening his leads in Michigan and Wisconsin?

In the Nebraska Senate Race, Bob Kerrey has been moving up in the polls, and last night Omaha.com broke some exciting news that could put him over the top: Chuck Hagel to endorse Bob Kerrey.

A spokesman with Kerrey’s campaign says Hagel – a former Nebraska U.S. Senator and a Republican – will back Kerrey in his race against Republican Deb Fischer.

Hagel’s endorsement comes as polls have shown the race between Kerrey and Fischer tightening down the home stretch.

Hagel’s backing could go a long way with independents. And, it clearly underscores Kerrey’s contention that he is the person in the race who can win Republican and Democratic support.

If Kerry, Claire McCaskill, Tammy Baldwin, and Elizabeth Warren, and perhaps Joe Donnelly can win their races, the Democrats should at least hold their majority in the Senate.

In Massachusetts, Liz Warren began making her final arguments.

As both Massachusetts Senate candidates deliver their final messages to voters, Warren is drawing on one major advantage she has in the state: demographics. According to the Secretary of State, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in Massachusetts by a more than a three to one margin. As the race remains close, Warren and her supporters are using a partisan argument to rally the Democratic base, and encourage activists to turn out the vote on Warren’s behalf. Elect Brown, Warren and her supporters argue, and Republicans will control the U.S. Senate.

Introducing Warren to a crowd of volunteers and activists at Warren’s Haverhill field office on Wednesday, Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said he came from a Halloween party. “Everyone was dressed up in really scary costumes, so I was going to dress up as (Republican Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell,” he said, to laughter. “Because can you think of anything scarier than (Republican House Speaker) John Boehner in the House of Representatives or Mitch McConnell in the Senate?”

“There’s only one vote that counts and that’s the vote about which party is going to control the United States Senate,” Fiorentini continued. “We know which way Scott Brown is going to vote.”

Warren also released a great new ad that may serve as a closing argument: For All Our Families.

Right now in Indiana Joe Donnelly is leading Richard Mourdock by 7 percentage points.

I’ll end with a couple of powerful long reads.

From Truthout: What Does Romney’s Campaign of Lies Say About Our Country? Here’s the first paragraph:

Last week Mitt Romney delivered possibly the most dishonest presidential campaign speech in American history. It contains lie after lie, distortion after distortion, and trick after trick. The fact that a person capable of giving such a speech has reached this level suggests that it may be too late to salvage the country. Our institutions may be corrupted beyond repair.

Please check it out.

At Alternet, Matthew Fleisher writes: Why I Infiltrated One of the Most Secretive and Powerful Republican Organizations in the Country. This one is really long, but well worth reading. Here’s the teaser:

The Lincoln Club is the real deal. And if they have their way, Citizens United is just the beginning of their political ambitions for the country.

That’s it for me. I hope you found something to your liking. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Indiana Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock: Pregnancies from Rape are “God’s Will”

In a debate with his two rivals tonight Tea Party Senate candidate Richard Mourdock stated that he believes life begins at conception, and the only cases in which abortion should be legal are when it is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life.

Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said Tuesday that sometimes God intends for babies to result from rape.

“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said at a debate (video, which was posted by the state Democratic Party, is below). “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Mourdock appeared to be choking up as he made the comments. He also noted that, while he doesn’t believe in abortion in the case of rape and incest, he does believe it should be used to save the life of the mother.

“God” intends for rapes to happen? Wow. And Hoosiers voted for this creep over Richard Lugar?

Mourdock either has no idea what happens to victims of rape and incest, which are violent criminal acts that can lead to years of psychological suffering for victims. Where do these people come from? They never express the slightest concern for the women involved in these horrendous situations or for the lifelong effects on the mother, the child, and other people close to them. Do men like Mourdock (and Todd Akin, Paul Ryan, and Rick Santorum) even believe than women are human beings?

This is an open thread.


Saturday Morning Reads

Good Morning!!

Let’s see what’s going on out there in the world today. It looks like the Salt Lake Tribune endorsement of President Obama for a second term has shocked right-wing world a bit, because it’s the top story this morning at right leaning Memeorandum.

The endorsement is especially noteworthy for its assessment of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. The editors begin by saying that Romney’s run for president had been “warmly welcomed” in Utah, especially because of “Romney’s singular role in rescuing Utah’s organization of the 2002 Olympics from a cesspool of scandal, and his oversight of the most successful Winter Games on record.” But now, the editors say, they barely recognize what their “favorite adopted son” has become:

Sadly, it is not the only Romney, as his campaign for the White House has made abundantly clear, first in his servile courtship of the tea party in order to win the nomination, and now as the party’s shape-shifting nominee. From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: “Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?”

The evidence suggests no clear answer, or at least one that would survive Romney’s next speech or sound bite. Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.

More troubling, Romney has repeatedly refused to share specifics of his radical plan to simultaneously reduce the debt, get rid of Obamacare (or, as he now says, only part of it), make a voucher program of Medicare, slash taxes and spending, and thereby create millions of new jobs. To claim, as Romney does, that he would offset his tax and spending cuts (except for billions more for the military) by doing away with tax deductions and exemptions is utterly meaningless without identifying which and how many would get the ax. Absent those specifics, his promise of a balanced budget simply does not pencil out.

If this portrait of a Romney willing to say anything to get elected seems harsh, we need only revisit his branding of 47 percent of Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, yet feel victimized and entitled to government assistance. His job, he told a group of wealthy donors, “is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

More than half of the editorial is devoted to explaining why Romney doesn’t deserve to win the election, and although the editors praise Obama’s first term achievements–the auto industry bailout, health care reform, and foreign policy successes–it is clear that the editorial board would have preferred to endorse the Mitt Romney they once admired.

The Tampa Bay Times endorsement of Obama is also near the top of Memeorandum this morning. Theirs contains much more full-throated praise of the president’s first term achievements, but they also condemn Mitt Romney’s vague and negative agenda.

The economic stimulus package, which Mitt Romney and his Republican allies deride as a failure, had its flaws but stopped the collapse. It preserved or created up to 3 million jobs, and it invested in smart projects such as expanding U.S. 19 in Pinellas County and connecting the Port of Tampa with Interstate 4 in Hillsborough County. The auto company bailout, which Romney opposed, preserved jobs and rejuvenated the industry. The Dodd-Frank financial regulations, which Romney would repeal, protect consumers and force banks to act more responsibly. Undoing those reforms would be a mistake and invite the abuses that contributed to the economic crisis.

The Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature legislative achievement, offers sweeping health care reform that presidents from both political parties unsuccessfully pursued for decades. More than 30 million uninsured Americans will get health coverage. Millions of young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance policies, and insurers no longer can refuse to cover children with pre-existing conditions. In 2014, insurers also will have to accept adults with pre-existing conditions, and most people will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty. This is a historic step toward universal health care and a fairer sharing of costs, and it should be improved upon rather than repealed as Romney promises. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the guts of the law, and it is time to work as hard on containing health care costs as on providing access to care.

Although he came to the job with limited foreign policy experience, Obama has been reasonably sure-footed. His appointment of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state reflected the Democrat’s self-confidence to invite a former rival and wife of a former president to join his administration. Obama followed through on his promise to withdraw troops from Iraq, which Romney called a mistake. The president’s temporary troop surge in Afghanistan stabilized the country and checked the Taliban’s momentum. Yet the president recognizes Americans have no appetite for a never-ending war for diminishing returns. He pledges to pull combat forces out of Afghanistan in 2014, while Romney remains fuzzy about his intentions.

There’s an interesting drama playing out in Indiana between far right Senate candidate Richard Mourdock and the man he defeated, long-time Republican Senator Richard Lugar.

The Boston Globe reported last week that Lugar was angered when Mourdock sent out a campaign mailer claiming that Lugar was supporting Mourdock.

Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said Wednesday the piece was ‘‘clearly unauthorized’’ and comes from a group that spent $100,000 against Lugar in the primary. Conservative lawyer Jim Bopp’s super PAC sent the mailer to Hoosier voters this week.

Mourdock has continued to try and win Lugar’s mantle in the general election — claiming in Monday’s debate that he had been endorsed by the senator — but Lugar has kept him at arms-length throughout the campaign. Mourdock said Wednesday he’s not responsible for messages sent by outside group’s like Bopp’s.

From the South Bend Tribune:

Retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar reiterated Wednesday that he will not campaign for Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock after a mailer from a longtime conservative opponent claimed Lugar’s “torch has been passed” to the tea-party hero who beat him in the primary.

The mailer comes as both Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly fight desperately for the “Lugar Republicans,” or moderate voters, who appear likely to swing Indiana’s tight Senate battle.
Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said Wednesday the piece was “clearly unauthorized” and said Lugar’s refusal to campaign for Mourdock has not changed.

“During the primary, Mourdock and his supporters perpetuated misleading statements about Sen. Lugar. Unfortunately, that has continued with this mailer funded by a committee that spent over $100,000 to defeat Sen. Lugar. It was clearly unauthorized and done without consultation with us,” Fisher said in a statement.

WISH TV in Indianapolis notes that Lugar is campaigning for another Republican.

Senator Richard Lugar won’t campaign for Richard Mourdock, yet he is campaigning for another Republican, Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Lugar is staying out of the Senate race but he’s clearly not quitting politics. It helps make the point that his refusal to campaign for Mourdock is personal and intentional.

Just last Thursday, Dick Lugar hosted a fundraiser at the Conrad Hotel for Greg Zoeller. Zoeller has distributed photos of it on his website and his Facebook page, showing Lugar delivering remarks, posing for pictures and working the crowd.

24-Hour News 8 caught up with Zoeller by phone in Washington, DC.

“I’ve supported him over the years,” said Zoeller, “so I was glad to have his help and would accept it again.”

For Lugar, it’s the return of a favor. Zoeller appeared in one of his ads before the May primary. But it comes at a time when others are trying to convince voters that Lugar and Mourdock hold similar views without the benefit of a Lugar campaign appearance.

“Richard Mourdock is so much closer to Richard Lugar than the other gentleman,” said South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham at a Mourdock event Wednesday.

The Washington Post headline calls this “sour grapes.” Really? Lugar is an old-style moderate Republican who worked with Democrats in the Senate. Donnelly might be a moderate Republican if he lived in a more liberal state. Anyway, I hope this helps Donnelly. Mourdock would be a disaster for Indiana and for the country.

Here are a few more suggested reads, link dump style.

The New York Times: Romney as a Manager: Unhurried and Socratic.

Jonathan Bernstein at Salon: Fox News cost Mitt the debate

Laura Gottesdiener, Alternet: Ann: Mormon missions are just like military service!

Amanda Marcotte on the ugly right wing response to Katherine Fentons’s equal pay question at the second presidential debate: You Don’t React Like This to a Simple Question Without Being an Outrageous Misogynist

David Ignatius at the Washington Post: CIA documents supported Susan Rice’s description of Benghazi attacks

That ought to be enough to get you started. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

I have a mix of news for you today. Let’s start with the “serious” stuff. Supposedly the CIA has thwarted another potential terrorist attack, conveniently revealed at the end of a week of discussion of Osama bin Laden’s life and death. There have been so many of these–please forgive me for my cynical attitude. The Boston Globe reports:

WASHINGTON—The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials said Monday.

The plot involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. This new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but this time al-Qaida developed a more refined detonation system, U.S. officials said.

The FBI is examining the latest bomb to see whether it could have passed through airport security and brought down an airplane, officials said. They said the device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it.

Maybe this is the preamble to a rollout of even more ghastly TSA practices–or perhaps more invasive machines?

Few people are paying attention to the primaries anymore, now that Republicans have grudgingly begun to accept Mitt Romney as their standard bearer. But there is a big primary tomorrow in Indiana that could have a big impact on which party controls the Senate next year. Sen. Richard Lugar is facing an ultra-conservative Tea Party challenger with lots of superpac support, and it looks like the six-term Senator could lose tomorrow, and that could possibly mean a Democrat will win Lugar’s seat.

Lugar, 80, will face Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, a career politician whose staunch conservatism could make him a more beatable opponent for the presumptive Democratic nominee, Rep. Joe Donnelly.

An independent bipartisan poll, conducted late last week, gave Mourdock a 10-point edge heading into the final days before the primary, and many insiders think that Lugar’s only chance for survival is by generating a large turnout of independent and Democratic voters in the Hoosier State’s open contest.

Mourdock has been painting Lugar as a Washngton insider who is sometimes polite to Democrats and didn’t always vote the party line.

In Indiana, the campaign has turned into a referendum on Lugar’s career as a bipartisan lawmaker at the top of the Foreign Relations and Agriculture committees. His opponent has focused, in part, on trips to overseas hot spots with Barack Obama when he was still in the Senate and served on the committee with Lugar.

“It’s time to retire Richard Lugar,” says the narrator of a Mourdock ad, which ends with a picture of Obama and Lugar acting chummy together at a Senate hearing, with the former fake punching the latter.

For the past few weeks Joe Donnelly has been directing his efforts toward Mourdock, assuming the challenger will win the Republican primary.

You may have heard about this one already: Romney Silent As Woman Says Obama Should Be Tried For Treason. Romney called on a woman at a Euclid, Ohio town hall meeting who

expressed dismay that Obama was “operating outside the Constitution,” then said Obama should be tried for treason for violating separation of powers.

“I do believe he should be tried for treason,” she said to applause from the audience.

Romney responded with some pious remarks about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence being “inspired.” He didn’t say who or what inspired them.

He then allowed her to clarify what specifically she thought Obama had violated, and the woman proceeded to spout references to Executive Orders, including one that she said involved the Secret Service restricting the rights of citizens to protest.

Romney, who is protected by a detail of Secret Service agents, said “I will be happy to look at what he has done about the Secret Service with respect to protests.”

Romney’s failure to say that the President shouldn’t be tried for treason resulted in a barrage of attacks from Obama and his supporters as well as questions from the media and discussions on nightly talk shows. Romney later admitted that he doesn’t think Obama should be tried for treason, but he once again showed himself to be living in cowering fear of the the Republican base. At HuffPo, Mitchell Bard wrote that Romney “blew his chance at a ‘no ma’am moment” like McCain’s in 2008.

On October 10, 2008, less than a month before the presidential election, and with his standing falling in the polls in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, John McCain fielded a question at a town hall meeting in Minnesota from a woman who said, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s not, he’s not uh — he’s an Arab.”

McCain didn’t hesitate. He politely but firmly took the microphone from the woman and said, shaking his head, “No, ma’am. No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have
disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign’s all about.”

At that same town hall meeting, another audience member asked him why he pays taxes to foreign governments.

“I don’t think I paid any foreign income taxes, but I’ll look at it,” Romney replied over the boos of the audience for the hostile questioner.

But in fact, Romney has paid over $1.2 million in foreign taxes for “passive category income” since 2000, according to his 2010 income tax return.

Additionally he has paid over $800,000 in foreign taxes for “general category income” according to the same filing.

The income was probably from foreign investments. You’d think Romney would have at least read the tax returns he released!

Buzzfeed had another funny Romney story yesterday–they discovered he had been arrested for disorderly conduct back in 1981.

According to what Romney told the Boston Globe in 1994, he had taken his family off to Wayland, Mass.’s Lake Cochituate, about an hour outside Boston, for a summer excursion. As Romney prepared to put his family boat into the water, a park officer told Romney not to launch because his license appeared to have been painted over. The officer told Romney if he put his boat into the water he would face a $50 fine.

Romney felt that his license was still visible and decided to ignore the order from the officer and pay the fine.

“I figured I was at the state park with my kids. My five kids were in the car wondering why we weren’t going out in the boat, so I said I’d launch and pay the fine,” Romney said in 1994.

So he went ahead and launched the boat, and the cop handcuffed him and took him into town. Book ‘em, Dano! Romney appeared before a judge in a bathing suit and was released on his own recognizance. When he later went to court to defend himself, he threatened the cop with a lawsuit, and the charges were dropped. This guy thinks he can buy his way out of anything, and he probably can.

Yes, Romney’s a cowardly con-man, but according to Bloomberg, senior citizens love him even though he wants to give their Social Security funds to Wall Street.

The master-gardener meeting, the bridge tournament, and a heated match of seven-card draw poker leave little time for politics at the Via Linda senior citizens’ center in Scottsdale, Arizona. Yet ask about President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and it doesn’t take long to determine the preferred candidate.

“He has some very socialistic leanings and believes in big government,” Lu Ittner, 86, a retired surgical nurse, said of Obama. “He is destroying our economy with his policies.”

While Obama so far dominates Romney among many demographic groups — women, younger voters, middle-aged voters, blacks and Hispanics — the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has a solid lead among the nation’s senior citizens. Some of the most reliable voters, those 65 and older represented 16 percent of the electorate in the 2008 election, exit polls show.

A CNN/ORC International poll taken April 13-15 showed Romney led Obama, 54 percent to 39 percent, with seniors. Among those supporting Romney, 58 percent said their vote would be more against Obama than for Romney.

Well, I will officially be a senior on Dec. 1, and I do not like Romney. Not all seniors are stupid or rich and greedy.

Just a couple more links. Actor John Travolta is being sued for sexual battery by a masseur.

According to court documents, the events in question unfolded on Jan. 16, when Travolta allegedly asked the masseur to meet him on a street corner and then fetched Doe in a black SUV. Condoms, as well as scattered chocolate cake wrappers, were said to have littered the car’s center console and floor.

It was back to the Beverly Hills Hotel, to a private bungalow, where Travolta stripped immediately and was “semi-erect,” the suit claims, and Travolta then proceeded to suggestively remove a towel covering his buttocks, touched the masseur’s genitals repeatedly and tried to coax John Doe into a reverse massage.

Then, according to John Doe’s recollection (TMZ has the full suit here (PDF)), when Travolta got the message that no mutual play would go down, he became erratic and verbally abusive, calling Doe a “loser.”

The most troubling nugget in Doe’s account claims that Travolta went on a rant that “Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men who expect favors in return for sexual activity” and that his habit of making such trades began in his “Welcome Back Kotter” days.

Of course Travolta denies everything and says he out of the state that day. If so, he probably has proof–like plane tickets or hotel receipts–and the suit will be thrown out. Or maybe all those rumors about Travolta were true. The part about being abused when he was younger, I can believe (not the antisemitic part though).

The Daily Beast has the “13 naughtiest bits from the Masseur Lawsuit Against John Travolta.” I couldn’t bring myself to read it yet–maybe later.

HuffPo has a huge collection of supermoon photos from the weekend. They are gorgeous.

How would you like to live in the “house that Ruth built?” No, not the old Yankee Stadium. The house the Babe lived in when he played for the Red Sox.

Known as “Home Plate Farm,” the spacious antique colonial located at 558 Dutton Road was occupied by famed Boston Red Sox [team stats] and New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth from 1922 to 1926.

The asking price for the property that’s going, going, soon-to-be gone — $1.65 million.

Is that all?

Along with boasting 5,124 square feet on more than two acres of land, five bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms, the property also has a 5,000-square-foot barn zoned for residential and commercial use with horse stables, sub-divided office space, working garage bays, and a top-floor apartment with skylights, and full kitchen, bathroom and bedroom….

Though the home has been “meticulously renovated throughout,” Adamson said, touches of the Sultan of Swat can still be found, including burn marks from Ruth’s cigar ashes in the wooden floor of the living room, and a third-floor memorabilia room containing several photographs of the Hall of Fame slugger who played 22 seasons in the Major Leagues.

It probably won’t be on the market long with that history.