Thursday Reads

Einstein reading

Good Morning!

The New York Times has added more fodder for the Republicans’ Benghazi attacks. James Risen Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt report that: U.S.-Approved Arms for Libya Rebels Fell Into Jihadis’ Hands.

The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats.

Of course there’s no evidence that this had anything to do with the Benghazi attacks, but I’m sure that won’t stop Senators McNasty, Huckleberry Closetcase, and their new pal Senator Kelley Ayotte from pretending otherwise.

No evidence has emerged linking the weapons provided by the Qataris during the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to the attack that killed four Americans at the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in September.

But in the months before, the Obama administration clearly was worried about the consequences of its hidden hand in helping arm Libyan militants, concerns that have not previously been reported. The weapons and money from Qatar strengthened militant groups in Libya, allowing them to become a destabilizing force since the fall of the Qaddafi government.

Also at the NYT, Jared Bernstein once again explains why politicians (and the media) in the Village need to stop obsessing on taxes and start focusing in increasing employment and, along with it, consumer demand.

WITH the budget-and-tax showdown dominating headlines, most Americans probably missed an even more ominous story: according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office, America’s underlying growth rate — that is, the best the economy could do, under optimal conditions, without driving up inflation — has slowed from just under 4 percent a year in 2000 to just under 2 percent today.

Why does this matter? For one thing, the combination of a lower underlying growth rate, which you could think of as the economy’s speed limit, and a less equitable distribution of that growth was a reason middle-income households did so badly and poverty went up in the 2000s.

During the 1990s, in contrast, stronger demand for goods and services led to much faster job growth and the last real gains experienced by middle- and lower-income households. Faster growth in those years also spun off a lot more government revenues, which interacted with slightly higher tax rates to take the budget from deficit to surplus.

Read the whole thing and fantasize what we could be doing if we had smarter leadership in DC.

Back in Republican la-la land, Joel Kotkin at Forbes claims that blue states are committing suicide by supporting raising tax rates on the rich.

With their enthusiastic backing of President Obama and the Democratic Party on Election Day, the bluest parts of America may have embraced a program utterly at odds with their economic self-interest. The almost uniform support of blue states’ congressional representatives for the administration’s campaign for tax “fairness” represents a kind of bizarre economic suicide pact.

Any move to raise taxes on the rich — defined as households making over $250,000 annually — strikes directly at the economies of these states, which depend heavily on the earnings of high-income professionals, entrepreneurs and technical workers. In fact, when you examine which states, and metropolitan areas, have the highest concentrations of such people, it turns out they are overwhelmingly located in the bluest states and regions.

Really? Then how come we did so much better under the Clinton tax rates in the ’90s? After all, that’s all that is happening–except that the first $250,000 of these poor rich people’s money will still be taxed at the Bush rates. But that’s not how Kotkin sees it.

The people whose wallets will be drained in the new war on “the rich” are high-earning, but hardly plutocratic professionals like engineers, doctors, lawyers, small business owners and the like. Once seen as the bastion of the middle class, and exemplars of upward mobility, these people are emerging as the modern day “kulaks,” the affluent peasants ruthlessly targeted by Stalin in the early 1930s.

OMB!! “Wallets…drained!” “Stalin!” Let’s all freak out!

The ironic geography of the Democratic drive can be seen most clearly by examining the distribution of the classes now targeted by the coming purge. The top 10 states with the largest percentage of “rich” households under the Obama formula include true blue bastions Washington, D.C., which has the highest concentration of big earners, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, California and Hawaii. The only historic “swing state” in the top six is Virginia, due largely to the presence of the affluent suburbs of the capital. These same states, according to the Tax Foundation, would benefit the most from an extension of the much-lambasted Bush tax cuts.

Hey Joel, maybe it’s not all about taxes, even though that’s all that seems to matter to you. Maybe some blue state folks think the whole economy would benefit if more people got back to work, earned some money and spent it–as suggested by Jared Bernstein in yesterday’s NYT (see above).

As Zandar notes, Kotkin then goes on to show how Republicans can use the home mortgage deduction and other methods to punish the blue state richies for voting for Obama.

– Keep the tax rate on capital gains the same.

– Raise income taxes on the top income bracket for 2013, those making $398,350 and up (single filers, married joint filers, or head of household).

– Means-test, or eliminate entirely, the mortgage interest deduction (which benefits taxpayers in areas with the highest real estate values and mortgages – i.e., Hawaii, D.C., New York, California and Connecticut).

– Means-test or eliminate entirely the federal deduction of state and local taxes, which is disproportionately utilized by those in high-tax blue states: “In 2005, taxpayers in California and New York together made up 20 percent of those claiming the deduction and accounted for 30 percent of its value. Itemizers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California claimed on average over $12,000 per household.”

Talk about a sore loser! Kotkin must be really bitter about Romney’s failure to get those blue state dopes to vote for him.

Meanwhile all those Romney voters in the red states are dreaming about seceding from the union. But if they did, asks The Nation, “Who’d Pay for Their Massive Government Handouts?”

In the wake of Obama’s victory, citizens in several states submitted petitions to secede from the United States. It is something of an irony that the very states seeking secession from “big government”—like Louisiana and Alabama—have been among the top beneficiaries of that selfsame government. Put bluntly, the government would be far smaller without them, and they would seriously struggle far more without it. Indeed, were they to become independent, most would be failed states in need of a bailout. Only this time their benefactor would be not the federal government but the International Monetary Fund, of which the United States is the principal donor. Louisiana and Alabama would go the way of Greece and Spain.

Oh, the irony of it all! And here’s another irony for Republicans to chew on. From TPM: Why Insurers Are Wary Of Raising The Medicare Age

House Republican leaders want to avoid the fiscal cliff with a proposal that would gradually raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67. Democrats are broadly reluctant to cut benefits, but President Obama was willing to accept the policy last year in failed deficit reduction talks with House Speaker John Boehner, and top Democrats have left the door open to including that measure in a grand budget bargain.

It may seem counter-intuitive: why would an industry threatened by government insurance not want it to shrink?

The reason: hiking the Medicare eligibility age would throw seniors aged 65 and 66 off Medicare and into the private market, forcing insurers, who will soon be required to cover all consumers regardless of health status, to care for a sicker, more expensive crop of patients.

“The risk pool issue is important,” the insurance industry source said. “[I]f you add more older and sicker people to the pool, that’s definitely going to have any impact on premiums.”

The policy would save the federal government $113 billion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But it achieves that by raising the cost of private insurance: the Kaiser Family Foundation projected that a Medicare age of 67 would raise costs for under-65 patients by an average of $141 in 2014. (In practice it would be phased in.)

Duh!

And even more Republican stupidity: Right wing nutcases are all bent out of shape because their favorite crazy propaganda movie didn’t get any Oscar nominations.

Gerald Molan, the director of the extremely anti-Obama movie, 2016: Obama’s America , is mad that his and Dinesh D’Souza’s film [“2016”] wasn’t on the shortlist of documentaries nominated for an Academy Award.

“The action confirms my opinion that the bias against anything from a conservative point of view is dead on arrival in Hollywood circles,” he complained to the Hollywood Reporter.

It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that the movie is based on a pack of lies and right wing conspiracy theories, could it?

To cleanse your palate of right wing and DC craziness, try watching this video from NASA that show views of the Earth from space. Here’s a still shot:

new-view-earth-at-night-usa_62009_600x450

So what are you reading and blogging about today? I’ve been a little out of the loop for the past couple of days, so I look forward to clicking on your links!


Petraeus Absolves Rice on Benghazi; Republicans Still Obsessively Nitpicking

Disgraced General and former CIA Chief David Petraeus testified on the Benghazi attacks in a closed Congressional hearing early this morning. Unsurprisingly, Republicans remain unsatisfied, and Rep. Peter King (D-NY) is running around suggesting that for some bizarre, unknown reason, the White House conspired to hide any terrorist involvement in the Benghazi attacks.

From The Washington Post:

After avoiding a swarm of awaiting reporters and photographers, former CIA director David Petraeus testified behind closed doors Friday that he believes the Sept. 11 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya was an act of terrorism that did not arise out of a spontaneous demonstration, according to a lawmaker who heard the testimony.

“He now clearly believes that it [the Sept. 11 attacks] did not arise out of a demonstration, that it was not spontaneous and it was clear terrorist involvement,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said.

Of course that is what everyone now believes, but Republicans seem determined to find some way to impeach President Obama over Benghazi regardless of what actually happened.

Petraeus gave a 20-minute opening statement to the House panel and took about 70 minutes of questions, according to King, who said that Petraeus testified Friday that the CIA gave the White House and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice information on the Benghazi attack that differed from Rice’s public comments on the incident….

Apparently the talking points were vetted by a number of agencies and at some point a line referring to a group associated with al Qaeda was removed. Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have spent the past couple of days attacking U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for comments she made on Sunday shows soon after the attacks. Her comments were based on the final talking points she, the White House, and Congress received from intelligence community.

Feinstein also rose to Rice’s defense, saying that the ambassador was using talking points based on the best available intelligence just days after the attack.

“They were unclassified talking points at a very early stage,” Feinstein said. “I don’t think she should be pilloried for this. She did what I would have done, or anyone else would have done that was going on a weekend show. We would have said, ‘What talking points can I use?’ and you’d get an unclassified version.”

The WaPo story quotes several Republican Congressmen, including John McCain, who

…called the former general’s testimony “comprehensive, I think it was important, it added to our ability to make judgments about what is clearly a failure of intelligence. He described his actions and that of his agency, their interaction with other agencies and I appreciate his service and his candor.”

The AP managed to find some Democrats to talk to.

After the hearings, lawmakers said Petraeus testified that the CIA’s draft talking points written in response to the assault on the diplomat post in Benghazi that killed four Americans referred to it as a terrorist attack. But Petraeus told the lawmakers that reference was removed from the final version, although he wasn’t sure which federal agency deleted it.

Democrats said Petraeus made it clear the change was not made for political reasons during President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

“The general was adamant there was no politicization of the process, no White House interference or political agenda,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. “He completely debunked that idea.”

Schiff said Petraeus said Rice’s comments in the television interviews “reflected the best intelligence at the time that could be released publicly.”

In addition, Petraeus made it clear that he and others at the CIA approved the final draft of the talking points that were given to Susan Rice.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said Petraeus explained that the CIA’s draft points were sent to other intelligence agencies and to some federal agencies for review. Udall said Petraeus told them the final document was put in front of all the senior agency leaders, including Petraeus, and everyone signed off on it.

“The assessment that was publicly shared in unclassified talking points went through a process of editing,” Udall said. “The extremist description was put in because in an unclassified document you want to be careful who you identify as being involved.”

….

Schiff said Petraeus said Rice’s comments in the television interviews “reflected the best intelligence at the time that could be released publicly.”

“There was an interagency process to draft it, not a political process,” Schiff said. “They came up with the best assessment without compromising classified information or source or methods. So changes were made to protect classified information.”

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said it’s clear that Rice “used the unclassified talking points that the entire intelligence community signed off on, so she did completely the appropriate thing.” He said the changes made to the draft accounts for the discrepancies with some of the reports that were made public showing that the intelligence community knew it was a terrorist attack all along.

And, as we all know, the day after the attacks President Obama referred to them as terrorist acts.

So that’s where it stands for now–until the next press conference by John McCain and his sidekicks Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte.


Thursday Reads: Bitter White Men, the Petraeus Affair, and GOP Cluelessness

Good Morning!!

Following on Dakinikat’s post about the bitter old white men who can’t handle four more years with a black president, I recommend you read a scary article by J.M. Berger at Foreign Policy on “Why white nationalists are thrilled with Obama’s victory.” Several white supremacist leaders are quoted in the piece; I’ll just give you a couple of examples.

Kevin MacDonald, a professor of psychology whose anti-Semitic writings make him a favorite of Neo-Nazis, penned a pro-secession piece for a prominent white identity site, The Occidental Observer, that might finally get him fired from California State University, where he inexplicably still works.

White males constituted only 34% of the electorate and this will continue to decline. It’s no accident that stocks of gun companies soared after the election, even though the stock market as a whole took a dive. What we have here is a situation in which around 70% of traditional American White men (correcting for the overly inclusive White’ category used by the media) are now pretty much officially disenfranchised in a country where they see themselves as the founding population. That’s a lot of angry White men….

It may take a while for this 70% to wake up to the reality that they are politically impotent. But it will happen. Separatist movements in the many states that are deeply red are certainly a possibility. … Is there any other realistic alternative? Apart from futile violence against the Leviathan, do White men really have any other choice?

The concept of a wake-up call articulated by MacDonald was widely echoed in posts on white nationalist blogs and forums. Some thought it would come sooner, others thought it might come later, but many agreed the writing was on the wall.

Then there’s John Derbyshire, who was fired from National Review earlier this year.

When you look at the overall picture, however, we are still fighting the Civil War. That is to say, the contest was mainly between two huge groups of white people who don’t much like each other, with the colored folk playing a marginal role. That’s how it was in the War Between the States, and that’s how it still is today.

He went on to suggest whites will ultimately have no choice but to unite as a race-based voting bloc. The current problem, Derbyshire explained, was that “Republicans are white, sure enough, but whites are not Republican.”

Berger concludes that when these groups finally realize that history and demographics are leaving them behind, they will have no choice but to turn to violence. I just hope the Secret Service and FBI are aware of and ready to deal with this threat from the right.

Disgraced General David Petraeus will testify before Congress on Benghazi today “behind closed doors,” according to the Washington Post.

He is likely to be asked — both by reporters on his way in and by lawmakers — about any possible intelligence breaches involving his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Law enforcement officials said Broadwell is the woman with whom the retired general has acknowledged having an affair….

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday that Petraeus has agreed to testify. After his sudden resignation, acting CIA Director Michael Morell had been tapped to appear in Petreaus’s place.

“Gen. Petraeus is willing to come before the committee and the details will be worked out,” Feinstein said.

Noam Scheiber has an interesting and thoughtful piece about the relationship between Paula Broadstone and David Petraeus: Paula Broadwell, a Hanger-On in King Petraeus’s Court. According to Scheiber, the people around Petraeus could not understand how Broadwell managed to get so close to this supposedly “intellectual” general.

Petraeus wasn’t just the Army’s most famous general. He was the military’s best-known and most accomplished intellectual. If he wanted an official biography, he could have had his pick of dozens of scholars and writers. “My gosh, if you are going to have someone interview everyone who has ever touched you in your life, choose someone who has written a biography or at least a history book,” Peter Mansoor, one of the general’s top aides, told The Washington Post.

Scheiber describes Petraeus as the “ultimate meritocrat–with his Ph.D. from Princeton and his reputation as a “brainiac.”

[T]he term “meritocracy”—a bit like its cousin, “the best and the brightest”—wasn’t actually intended to be complimentary. It entered the lexicon through a book, “The Rise of the Meritocracy,” by the British social thinker Michael Young, who imagined a dystopian world in which a small group of highly educated elites controls society. The meritocrats persuade themselves that, unlike the ruling classes that came before them, they are uniquely deserving of power because they earned it rather than inherited it. (And they have the SAT scores to prove it, by God!) And yet, over time, they somehow manage to become just as inbred, self-serving, and corrupt.

Over time, Petraeus went through that same transformation, surrounding himself with

…growing hoards of groupies who descended on his command posts, including conservative think-tankers from Washington, for whom he arranged office space and aircraft….Paula Broadwell, it turns out, was the kind of hanger-on whose arrival heralds a meritocracy in decline. Outwardly, she checked all the right sociological boxes: High school valedictorian, all-state basketball player, West Point alum, Harvard master’s degree. But, up close, she could be remarkably shallow. “There was no room for a conversation of shortcomings of the Petraeus theology. She wasn’t a reporter. She struck me as an acolyte,” a wonk who met her told the Post. “I was underwhelmed….

What Broadwell excelled at instead was leveraging credentials to impress fellow achievers. She didn’t stop at her own. When my friend met her, she was fond of pointing out that her husband was no mere radiologist but a special breed known as an “interventional radiologist.” (She would draw out the word “interventional” for emphasis.) Later, she would boast about hanging out with the glitterati on the panel-discussion circuit—“Heading 2 @AspenInstitute 4 the Security Forum tomorrow! Panel (media & terrorism) followed by a 1v1 run with Lance Armstrong,” she recently tweeted, according to the Times. She was a kind of successful-person trophy collector who made no apologies for her ambitions. (My friend remembers the Facebook appeal in which she asked, “Can anyone introduce me to Lance Armstrong?”)

It’s a fascinating article, and an antidote to all the trashy coverage of the Petraeus-Broadwell scandal in much of the corporate media.

Rosa Brooks has written another serious article on the Petraeus affair at Foreign Policy: Sex and the Modern Soldier. Brooks asks:

Does the U.S. military have an adultery problem? A woman problem? A generic, all-purpose craziness, sleaze, and corruption problem? A public-image problem?

Answering these questions in order, I can offer a definitive “sort of,” “kind of, “maybe,” and “very possibly.”

The article is too long and detailed to sum up quickly, but here’s an excerpt from the section on the military’s “woman problem.”

The military remains plagued by allegations of sexual harassment and assault, and a number of studies by the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs have concluded that women in the military face higher rates of sexual assault than do civilian women. Here again, no big surprise: The military remains an overwhelmingly male — and overwhelmingly macho — institution. Women are outnumbered and often rendered nearly invisible in a culture in which nearly all senior officers are male.

This extends to the home front, as well. In certain ways, the informal culture of military officers resembles the 1950s more than the 21st century. Military life isn’t just hard on marriage — it’s also hard on the careers of the (mostly female) civilian spouses of military personnel. Rising up the career ladder isn’t easy when you move from one military base to another every few years. One military friend of mine recalls a general telling junior officers — in a recent lecture at an official Army command training event — that they should actively discourage their wives from pursuing careers, because career women would be less supportive and flexible military wives. And though official publications now speak of officers’ “spouses” rather than “wives,” the military still produces etiquette guides for spouses, with a rather gendered focus on appropriate forms of address at social functions and the proper pouring of tea and coffee.

Yuck. Read all about it at the link.

Frederick Humphries, FBI agent

Last link on the Petraeus clusterfu&ck: The NYT has learned the name of the mystery FBI agent who sent shirtless photos to Jill Kelley and disrupted the investigation by contacting Rep. Eric Cantor.

The F.B.I. agent who spurred the investigation that led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus as C.I.A. director is a “hard-charging” veteran who helped investigate the foiled millennium terrorist plot in 1999, colleagues said on Wednesday.

The agent, Frederick W. Humphries II, 47, is also described by former colleagues as relentless in his pursuit of what he sees as wrongdoing, which appears to describe his role in the F.B.I. investigation involving Mr. Petraeus. Suspecting that the case involved serious security issues and was being stalled, possibly for political reasons — a suspicion his superiors say was unjustified — he took his concerns to Congressional Republicans.

“Fred is a passionate kind of guy,” one former colleague said. “He’s kind of an obsessive type. If he locked his teeth onto something, he’d be a bulldog.”

Humphries says that the shirtless photos were sent to Jill Kelley long before the Petraeus investigation and were simply a “joke.”

I know everyone has probably heard already about how Mitt Romney spoke to donors yesterday on a conference call and insulted women, African Americans, Latinos, and young people by claiming that these groups voted to reelect Barack Obama because he <a showered them with “gifts” during his first term. But I can’t help including it, because it’s so typical of the cluelessness that Romney and his supporters showed throughout his campaign.  Here’s how the NYT Caucus Blog reported on the call:

In a conference call with fund-raisers and donors to his campaign, Mr. Romney said Wednesday afternoon that the president had followed the “old playbook” of using targeted initiatives to woo specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”

“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.” ….

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.

“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

Breathtaking, isn’t it? This man really needs to go away and never be heard from again. I certainly hope Obama won’t consult him on anything, including what the weather is like outside his window. Goodbye, Mitt. Please don’t ever come back.

Finally, this one is for JJ. Check out this article at Mother Jones: Top Georgia GOP Lawmakers Host Briefing on Secret Obama Mind-Control Plot.

President Obama is using a Cold War-era mind-control technique known as “Delphi” to coerce Americans into accepting his plan for a United Nations-run communist dictatorship in which suburbanites will be forcibly relocated to cities. That’s according to a four-hour briefing delivered to Republican state senators at the Georgia state Capitol last month.

On October 11, at a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus convened by the body’s majority leader, Chip Rogers, a tea party activist told Republican lawmakers that Obama was mounting this most diabolical conspiracy. The event—captured on tape by a member of the Athens-based watchdog Better Georgia (who was removed from the room after 52 minutes)—had been billed as an information session on Agenda 21, a nonbinding UN agreement that commits member nations to promote sustainable development. In the eyes of conservative activists, Agenda 21 is a nefarious plot that includes forcibly relocating non-urban-dwellers and prescribing mandatory contraception as a means of curbing population growth. The invitation to the Georgia state Senate event noted the presentation would explain: “How pleasant sounding names are fostering a Socialist plan to change the way we live, eat, learn, and communicate to ‘save the earth.'”

There’s much much more insanity at the link.

Now what’s on your reading and blogging list for today?


Saturday Reads: Petraeus and Broadwell, Romney’s “Concession,” and the Race-Based Campaign

Good Morning!!

I guess the biggest story of the day is the resignation of General David Petraeus as head of the CIA, although the aftermath of the election is still my main focus–yes, I’m still wallowing in it! Anyway, on Petraeus, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that:

CIA Director David H. Petraeus, the retired four-star general widely commended for his oversight of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigned after an FBI investigation uncovered evidence of an extramarital affair.

The affair was discovered during an unrelated Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into whether one of Petraeus’s computers was compromised by someone else using his e-mail account, according to three U.S. officials who asked not to be named because the matter involves classified information.

Like Petraeus, the woman in question, Paula Broadwell (am I the only one who can’t help smirking a little at that name?), is married–to Scott Broadwell,

For the record, Petraeus has been married to a woman named Holly Petraeus for over three decades, while Broadwell is married and has two kids with Scott Broadwell. He’s a specialist in interventional radiology in Charlotte, N.C. The couple has two sons, Lucien and Landon. They met in Germany while training to become ski patrollers and are “adventure junkies,” according to Paula.

Newsweek/The Daily Beast published a piece by Broadwell just last week called General David Petraeus’s Rules for Living. There isn’t anything on the list specifically about cheating on your spouse, but there is this:

5. We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear­ view mirrors—drive on and avoid making them again.

In today’s The Daily Beast, Isabel Wilkinson called the book “glowing” and “fawning.”

Broadwell is the author, with Vernon Loeb, of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, a glowing 400-page biography of Petraeus, for which she was granted almost total access. After it was published in January, some said it read more like a love letter to the general than a biography. In a review for Rolling Stone, Michael Hastings called the book “a work of fan fiction so fawning that not even Max Boot—a Petraeus buddy and Pentagon sock puppet—could bring himself to rave about it.”

Ugh. She also provides more background on Broadwell.

Broadwell, 40, is a research associate at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership–as well as a PhD. candidate in the department of war studies at King’s College in London. She is married to Scott Broadwell, an interventional radiologist. They live in the upper middle class Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte, N.C., with their two sons, Landon and Lucien. She grew up in North Dakota, and attended West Point, the general’s alma mater, where she graduated with honors. She has worked for the U.S. Special Operations Command and an FBI joint terrorism task force. Beyond that, her list of accomplishments is long: she earned an MA from The University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies; an MPA from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and served as the deputy director of the Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts.

Physically, Broadwell is tall and stunning, with long dark hair and green eyes. According to her biography, she has been a “sponsored ½ Ironman triathlete” as well as a “female model/ demonstrator” for KRISS, a manufacturer of .45-caliber machine guns. (On LinkedIn, she lists her current employer as Equipe Broadwell, LLC, seemingly a part of the Carolinas Freedom Foundation, a veteran’s organization in Charlotte.

Broadwell first crossed paths with Petraeus in 2006, when he gave a lecture at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she was pursuing her master’s degree. According to the preface of All In, she introduced herself after that lecture and told him about her academic research. He gave her his business card and offered to help. “I took full advantage of his open-door policy to seek insight and share perspectives,” she writes in the book. And so began an alleged relationship, which, if sources are to be believed, eventually led to the general’s resignation from the CIA on Friday.

Petraeus is 60. I guess that’s enough about the tawdry affair. We’ll probably find out a lot more than we ever wanted to know in the days in weeks to come. This will all be tied in with the right wing nutters’ endless Beghazi conspiracy theories too. Sigh…

According to Politico, acting CIA chief Michael J. Morrell will testify in place of Petraeus next week.

The resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus came less than a week before he was scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

A spokesman for the committee said acting CIA Director Mike Morell would testify Thursday in place of Petraeus, who resigned Friday after admitting to an extramarital affair.

Now I’d like to return to something that has been bothering me post election: Mitt Romney’s pathetic concession speech. I thought it was utterly classless. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, since Romney’s entire campaign was awful–filled with lies, race-baiting, and embarrassing gaffes from beginning to end.

Fortunately, I wasn’t alone in my reaction to the brief speech that Romney hadn’t even bothered to write until after the election was declared for President Obama. Mary Elizabeth Williams’ piece about it at Salon speaks for me: Romney’s concession speech was not gracious. No, it was not at all gracious, but many writers said it was anyway. Williams:

It is a venerable tradition in American politics that no matter how ugly a bloodbath the campaign that preceded it may have been, on election night, the defeated candidate steps up and gives an elegant concession speech, thanking his supporters and pledging his loyalty to the victor. In return, the winning side politely vows to reach across the aisle, and lauds the loser’s “graciousness,” thereby assuring that no one can accuse the victorious side of anything resembling gloating.

Sure enough, after Mitt Romney’s five-minute parting words Tuesday evening – which actually came in the early hours of Wednesday morning – the governor was perfunctorily summed up in the punditsphere by the adjective of choice: The “Today” show declared that Romney’s speech was a “short but gracious” end to his six-year quest for the White House. Our own Salon staff called it a “gracious” speech. Even BuzzFeed called it “gracious,” pointing out its most “conciliatory and statesmanlike moments.” New York magazine, meanwhile, said that Romney “concedes with class.” Now, it may seem nitpicky to mention this while the door is still hitting the guy’s ass on his way out, but are you kidding me?

Here’s a bit of Williams’ reaction to the “speech” itself:

It’s true that when Romney took to the stage at last in Boston, right before 1 a.m., he didn’t kick over the podium, rip off his shirt and throw a chair into the audience. He didn’t spend the long minutes between victory being called for Obama and his acquiescence of the race hopping on a plane to Chicago so he could bum-rush the president’s victory speech. And he may not have spent that time holed up in a bunker with his advisers, making women cry.

Instead, he came out before the nation, put on his game face, and expressed his gratitude. He said, “We can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing.” Good for him. He also sighed that his wife, Ann, “would have been a wonderful first lady,” and, in a statement that would not have been out of place coming from a partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, thanked his “sons for their tireless work on behalf of the campaign, and … their wives and children for taking up their slack as their husbands and dads have spent so many weeks away from home.” Seriously.

She then contrasts Romney’s concession to Obama with McCain’s graceful one in 2008. Please go read the whole thing.

The Washington Post’s David Beard talked to historian and author Scott Farris about Romney’s concession. Farris, the author of Almost President: The Men Who Lost The Race But Changed The Nation, said it barely “cleared the bar.”

Farris said Romney’s speech didn’t reflect the urgency of healing a divided nation: “While he congratulated Obama, he never really validated the result by saying ‘the people have spoken’ … Praying for the president is nice, but it is not the same as validating the election.”

Farris added that Romney did not expressly address unity. “He talked about putting aside partisanship, but he also said he had hoped to lead the nation in a different direction and remained concerned about the nation’s future. He also did not define what his campaign was about, except for a vague reference to “principles,” though he didn’t fully identify what those were. The reflections on the importance of teachers, pastors and parents hinted at something, but it was all implied, not explicitly stated.

“It was a speech that sounded as if he did not emerge from the election with much respect, let alone affection, for the president. He sounded as if he really expected to win and was immensely disappointed in the result — even more so than usual.”

And that’s exactly the case. Romney expected to win, despite the hundreds of polls that showed he was losing to a man that he sees as just one of “the help.”

I want to end with the most horrifying part of this election for me: the return of blatant, overt, up-front, out-in-the-open racism to the political sphere. Has it been there all along, and I just didn’t notice it? In 2008 I was shocked by the open misogyny that was unleashed against Hillary Clinton. This year, we’ve had both the Republican war on women and blatant race-baiting from the Republican nominee and his surrogates–most of all the detestable and repulsive John Sununu.

At DailyKos, David Atkins (AKA thereisnospoon) wrote a wonderful post about the racism, titled “Did they really think only old white men would hear the dogwhistles?”

Atkins suggests that racism is exactly the reason why Mitt Romney and his advisers didn’t believe that Barack Obama would win reelection, why they didn’t believe Democratic voters would be enthusiastic about going to the polls or that African Americans and young people would vote in the numbers they did in 2008. And I would add–the reason Romney didn’t bother to write a decent concession speech or show any respect for the man who soundly beat him. Atkins writes:

The question is, why did they believe this?

Despite the craziness of Sarah Palin, it’s important to remember that John McCain and most of the GOP establishment didn’t go hard after the Nixonland race card in 2008. Sure, there was some of that. But they knew that if they pushed it too hard, it would backfire on them.

In the intervening four years, the Republican message against Obama has been nothing but one long racist tirade.

Muslim. Kenyan. Foreign. Hussein. Doesn’t share our values. Not Christian. Wants to cut the work requirement in welfare. Obamaphones. “Holder’s People.” Black Panthers. “Moochelle Chewbacca Obama.” “The White Hut.” “Entitlement society.” “Makers versus takers.” Recovery, not dependency. Parasites….

Did they think African-Americans wouldn’t notice? Did they think only white people could hear those dogwhistles and outright racist primal screams?

Did they think Latinos wouldn’t hear the last four years of vitriol thrown at them and their families by Fox News and the fever swamps on the AM dial? That they could celebrate Jan Brewer’s and Joe Arpaio’s sick sadism and that Latinos wouldn’t take heed?

He includes visual aids too. I hope you’ll click the link to see and read the whole thing.

I want to end on a happier note, so I’ll return to Mary Elizabeth Williams’ blog at Salon: Let the post-Sandy election gloating continue!

Yes, you’re right, we’re gloating. You caught us. Maybe you’ve noticed it from our unstoppably gleeful tweets about what Christopher Hayes calls “overdosing on Schadenfreude” or the way we might have let it slip that, as Lindy West admits, “I am just 99 percent completely fucking delighted by every single weepy right-wing temper tantrum.” Perhaps you find it unseemly – you, the defeated but dignified Republican, or you, the Democrat who thinks this kind of whoop-whooping is beneath our kind. Bur bear with us. You see, some of us recently had a hurricane blow through our lives.

This election was nail-biting enough when it was just about Obama vs. Romney. But then it became more than just a big fat “Oh, phew!” regarding having a president who won’t actively try to sabotage our reproductive rights or marriage equality or the middle class. It became about not getting a guy who was pretty gung-ho on cutting federal funding for disaster relief. It became about simply not being able to bear another blow.

Again, Williams speaks for me. I intend to keep gloating as long as I possibly can.

Now it’s your turn. What are you reading on this fine Saturday morning?


So, who is really Scapegoating Hillary??

I’ve been pretty chagrined at blog and media responses to some  Daily Mail Gossip article suggesting that there was some kind of finger-pointing binge between SOS Clinton and POTUS on the Benghazi tragedy. It features the side show of a cat fight between UN ambassador Rice and Secretary Clinton just for that added dash of NeoCon porn fantasies.  It also smacks of right wing tropes and sexism.  Already, we discovered the WSJ sat on an interview–later to be ‘scooped’ by CNN–where Hillary clearly stated she was taking full responsibility for any lax in security and for any mistakes in conveying information made by the State Department.  So much for that right wing vision of Clinton as victimized and disgruntled!  Ever the team player, Clinton had already fallen on the sword when the WSJ let the tropes be flung. Last night, the President took responsibility saying that as Commander in Chief he was ultimately responsible.  Does this sound like the behavior of two people trying to shift blame to each other or bristling at the other’s attempts to shrug responsibility?

We didn’t write about the Daily Mail article here because it smacked of speculation and right wing wishful thinking. Today, Salon‘s Joan Walsh writes “How Hillary Clinton Is Sending the GOP to New Heights of Psycho-Sexual Rage“. Her thesis is this that “right wingers can’t appraise our first black president and his female former rival in anything other than the most degrading gender stereotypes”. I agree.  Just as the right wingers were gleefully shouting that Obama and Rice were throwing Hillary under the bus and that Hillary was not going to stand for it, Clinton had given that WSJ that interview that they sat on that would’ve basically put that entire canard to rest.  So much for the complete Foxification of the WSJ.  It’s no longer just the editorial page that can’t be trusted.  I’m also glad to see Walsh take on Jennifer Rubin who should be swiftly fired from WAPO for perverse tweets that are essentially slut slamming.

It turns out Clinton had already told the Wall Street Journal that she took responsibility for the security problems exposed in the attack almost a week ago – but the paper declined to share that information with the world, saving it instead for a forthcoming profile. Proving that was terrible news judgment, if not a deliberate effort to withhold information that might undermine the right-wing story line that Obama and Joe Biden were scapegoating Clinton, the WSJ published the remarks last night, after CNN’s interview ran.

“I take responsibility,” Clinton told the Journal’s Monica Langley. “I’m the Secretary of State with 60,000-plus employees around the world. This is like a big family … It’s painful, absolutely painful.”

As clear as Clinton’s statements were,  the right immediately used them to bash Obama . Fox’s Steve Doocy claimed Clinton was “falling on her sword for the administration,” while Laura Ingraham insisted she jumped “on the grenade the day before the debate.” CNN contributor Erick Erickson wrote on his RedState blog: “Doesn’t the buck stop with Barack Obama?”

But the award for most unhinged reaction goes to  the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin , who took to Twitter to unleash a psycho-sexual tirade against Clinton, Obama and even the former President Clinton. “First Bill humiliates her and now Obama does.. Hillary no feminist, more like doormat,” Rubin wrote. She went on: “yeah once you take your Yale law degree and go to Arkansas you basically are putting your career in the hands of others.” When Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted in reply: “Sick. Mitt mouthpiece jumps shark,” Rubin shot back: “so is Obama going to hide behind her skirt Tuesday night? Why would the president let Hillary end her career in disgrace?”

It’s been clear for a while that the Clintons and the Obamas drive the right to surreal heights of psycho-sexual anxiety. They can’t decide whether, with her Benghazi statement, Clinton is somehow emasculating Obama by taking responsibility that should be his, or being abused by him.

I would like to add that some of the worst offenders of these tropes are also supposed Hillary supporters who are featured in this Buzz Feed article today on Dead-Enders.  You’ll recognize a lot names–many that I’ve been purging from my tweeter and face book stream for some time–because the hatred of Obama and nearly rabid dog hatred of anything related to Islam. It  has spilled into some pretty revealing sexist slurs of Hillary and racist slurs of Obama.  Thankfully, our past associations with people that I full admit to personally, severely misjudging is no where to be seen in the article.

But, back to how banging this drum on Hillary and Benghazi is really, really sexist.  Jennifer Rubin is an angry hack who has no place in mainstream journalism.

Let’s unpack the assumptions here.

  1. If your husband cheats on you it makes you less of a feminist.
  2. Hillary Clinton obviously doesn’t bear responsibility for ensuring that ambassadors have sufficient security despite being secretary of state — it’s safe to assume that she didn’t mess up somehow.
  3. She was just covering for Obama, who actually bears responsibility.
  4. Covering for him makes her less of a feminist, and akin to a doormat (even though she’d have obvious selfish and ideological motives for doing so).
  5. Bill Clinton’s actions toward his wife and Obama’s behavior toward his subordinate are analogous.

Rubin managed to pack a lot of inane assumptions into that one tweet! In doing so, she demonstrated the very double standard that ought to call her feminist credentials into question. In every presidential administration, appointees “fall on their swords” in ways large and small. Male appointees are described as good soldiers when they do this for the president they serve.

But a female appointee? For Rubin, a woman doing the same thing is a weak doormat who forfeits the title of feminist. It’s a charge Rubin breezily makes while dredging up the fact that, years ago, Clinton got cheated on, itself a cheap shot that is irrelevant to the controversy at hand. Rubin’s been defending her tweet. She ought to accept censure for her mistake and move on.

So, again, let’s look at what was said last night at the political debate.

President Barack Obama assumed responsibility Tuesday for the deadly terror attack in Libya last month that killed four Americans just hours after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to shoulder the blame for any mistakes the administration made.

“She works for me,” the president said in New York in his second presidential debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney. “I’m the president and I’m always responsible, and that’s why nobody’s more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do.”

So, again, what do you believe?   The latest right wing conspiracy theory featuring harridans Rice and Clinton?

 The Mail piece features the delicious but extremely dubious claim that Clinton is still gunning for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who backed Obama over Clinton in 2008, and is thus making clear to reporters that the White House, not the State Department, was the source of Rice’s early claim that the attack was inspired by the same anti-Islam movie that was driving protests elsewhere in the region.

“State Department sources have said that Clinton has never forgotten that Rice, who served in her husband Bill’s administration, was an early supporter of Obama,” Harnden reports breathlessly. “Rice has ambitions to take over from Clinton if Obama is re-elected but the Benghazi debacle could scupper her chances.” In fact, the two women became allies on the decision to intervene in Libya, and the idea that Hillary Clinton would talk directly to Toby Hernden to settle an old score with Susan Rice is straight out of the fervid fantasies of Clinton-haters everywhere.  Harnden claims that Clinton’s supposed “announcement of State Department dissent” from Rice and the rest of the Obama administration “could help protect Clinton during 2016 presidential run.” In the end, for the right wing, it all comes back to the Clintons and their ambition.

Is any one besides me getting tired of the never-ending CDS and hyped-up ODS now being turned into kind of supposed  pantomime “October Surprise”? It’s like some kind of hyper-sick form of disco dancing on the graves of four American public servants.  The Romney campaign is so freaking desperate they’ve got surrogates out spouting some of the worst stuff I’ve ever heard. But, remember, it’s all the fault of those grudge-holding, ambitious Clintons and the impossibly incompetent,lazy, and “foreign” Obama.  Who can be so stupid not to see this stuff for what it is?  It’s fricking right wing jerk-off porn for Neo Con Tools.  Any supposed Clinton fan that falls for this is pretty stupid, imho.


Saturday Reads

Good Morning!!

I’ve been pretty sanguine about the chances of President Obama being reelected, but I have to admit I’m getting to the point that I could start panicking. I can’t understand why Mitt Romney seems to be doing so well in the polls right now. Seriously? Just because he managed to roll over Jim Lehrer and lie his ass off in a debate? I simply cannot understand why anyone would vote for the policies that Romney and Ryan are running on or why there would be such a sudden reversal in the polls based on outright lies and deception. What exactly is going on here?

Nate Silver, who throughout the campaign has been forecasting an Obama victory, is beginning to reverse course. Yesterday afternoon Silver wrote: Obama’s Swing State ‘Firewall’ Has Brittle Foundation.

President Obama’s position has been stronger in state polls than in national surveys on recent days, a streak that extended itself in Thursday’s polling.

Although Mr. Obama got a distinctly poor poll in Florida, which showed him seven points behind there, the rest of Thursday’s state-level data, like a series of polls by Quinnipiac University and Marist College, were reasonably good for him. In surveys of competitive states that were released over the course of the day, he held the lead with 11 polls to Mitt Romney’s 6.

However, four of the six national tracking polls moved toward Mr. Romney, who also led by one point in a national poll published by Monmouth University.

The case that Mr. Romney’s bounce is evaporating after his debate last week in Denver continues to look a bit thin. The tracking polls aren’t perfect by any means. Some are better than others, but they are a below-average group of polls on the whole. But they do provide useful information about the day-to-day trend in the race, and so far they haven’t shown the sort of reversal that Democrats might have hoped for.

What the hell is going on here? Then last night Silver published another piece: Romney Debate Gains Show Staying Power

Mitt Romney continues to surge in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, and Friday may have featured his best set of polls all year.

The best way to track a change in the polls is to look for instances in which the same firm has surveyed the same state (or the national race) multiple times. The FiveThirtyEight forecast model relies on a procedure very much like this to calculate the overall trend in the race.

Fifteen polls were released on Friday that provided a comparison with another survey conducted between the Democratic convention and last week’s debate in Denver. Mr. Romney gained an average of 4.6 percentage points in these surveys.

The scariest thing is that Romney is gaining in the swing states. Silver admits that many of the polls released on Friday were from Republican leaning firms, but still, it’s frightening.

The only really good news for Democrats is that Mr. Obama had built up a large enough cushion that he could withstand a lot of damage without becoming the underdog. The forecast model still has him clinging to narrow leads in Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin and Nevada, states that in some combination would give him 270 electoral votes.

Mr. Obama may also be just slightly underperforming the fundamentals in the election. His approval ratings remain near 50 percent, which would ordinarily predict a narrow re-election victory.

But for the first time, it’s really looking like Romney/Ryan could win. For those of us who believe that there will be a gigantic difference in outcomes–especially for women–if Romney becomes president, that is a terrifying prospect. Some liberals have argued that there is little difference between these two candidates. I simply can’t agree. I think the only hope for democracy is to get Obama reelected and then push him to enact policies that will reduce economic inequality and increase individual rights.

Can Obama turn this around? I have to believe he can, but it will obviously take a dramatic improvement in his performance in next Tuesday’s debate. Both candidates are prepping for the debate over the next three days.

In other news, Think Progress pushes back on Paul Ryan’s lies about the Libya situation during the vice presidential debate Thursday night. Ryan claimed that embassy officials had requested increased security for the Benghazi consulate, but that was not true. The requests were for security at the embassy in Tripoli.

Ryan also claimed there were requests for Marines to protect the ambassador, but that is not true either. TP quotes Foreign Policy:

At Thursday night’s debate, Rep. Paul Ryan seemed to suggest that the requests were for Marines to go to Libya, which was not the case. The requests were to extend the tours of a Mobile Security Detachments [MSD] and the Site Security Team [SST] at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, which are teams of military personnel, not Marines, who can help protect an embassy and its personnel.

There’s more at the link, but pretty much everything Ryan said about Libya during the debate was a lie. So why was it wrong for Biden to laugh at him again?

At HuffPo, Sam Stein writes that Ryan actually requested more stimulus funds from the Obama administration that has previously been known.

During Thursday night’s vice presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden attacked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for criticizing the president’s stimulus act despite having sent two separate requests for stimulus funds for his district.

Biden was wrong. Ryan sent at least four requests.

A Freedom of Information Act request for correspondence between Ryan’s office and the Environmental Protection Agency, filed by The Huffington Post, unearthed two additional instances in which the Wisconsin Republican petitioned for American Recovery Act funds. In addition, there were many other occasions in which the GOP vice presidential nominee asked the EPA for grant money for projects in Wisconsin’s 1st District, which encompasses Ryan’s hometown of Janesville and has a slight Democratic lean. Combined, the letters muddy Ryan’s claim that the stimulus wasn’t helpful and that government spending, more broadly, doesn’t assist small businesses.

Stein notes that the EPA request could be embarrassing for Republicans:

…the letters’ language reveals a congressman who was involved in reviewing the applications and determining that taxpayer money could be useful economically. Moreover, the direct petitioning of the EPA could prove awkward for the Republican ticket, owing to the insistence among many in the GOP that the agency is a hindrance and should be eliminated.

You can see the original letters at the link.

Horrible, ugly troll and Romney surrogate John Sununu has struck again: Sununu Says Obama Imitating Biden Would Fail. From the Bloomberg TV unofficial transcript:

AL HUNT: Welcome back. We are now joined by former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, a top Romney surrogate. John, let me ask you. Last night, the Democrats were ecstatic. They say Joe Biden energized us again. Give me your take on the VP debate.

JOHN SUNUNU: If they’re energized by that grotesque display, all the better for it. I thought Joe Biden was on steroids last night. He looked like the Cheshire cat at times and then he looked like the gawker and the stalker. But worse than that was his substance.

“Grotesque display?” Well, I guess it takes one to know one.

HUNT: John, second presidential debate next Tuesday in Hofstra. Do you expect a different Barack Obama, a different Mitt Romney?

SUNUNU: I expect the same Mitt Romney. Mitt is pretty consistent. But I think you’ll probably see a different Barack Obama. They’re probably showing him tapes of Biden’s disgraceful performance and suggesting to him he ought to get wired like that. So I suspect you’ll see a little bit of Joe Biden not only in Joe Biden, as we saw last night, but a little Joe Biden in Barack Obama.

Well that was insightful.

Sorry I don’t have more positive news. I guess we have to hang on until Tuesday night while the media continues to fawn over Romney and Ryan.

What are you reading and blogging about today?


Wednesday Reads: Running Late?

Good Morning!

Hope this is not too late, I was falling asleep last night as I started to write this morning’s post.

In Greece, this image is a disturbing greeting to Merkel…Greek police fire tear gas as 40,000 vent a nation’s anger during Merkel’s visit

Getty Images 

From high-school students to pensioners, tens of thousands of Greek demonstrators swarmed into Athens yesterday to show the visiting German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, their indignation at their country’s continued austerity measures.

Flouting the government’s ban on protests, an estimated 40,000 people – many carrying posters depicting Ms Merkel as a Nazi – descended on Syntagma Square near the parliament building. Masked youths pelted riot police with rocks as the officers responded with tear gas.

Austerity…it is driving the people to desperation.

Crisis-stricken Spaniards turn to Red Cross for help

Spain’s Red Cross has launched its first campaign specifically designed to help the hundreds of thousands of Spaniards living in poverty as a result of the country’s economic crisis.

The charity already helps two million people in Spain each year, around 80 per cent of whom live below the poverty line, earning a monthly income of €628 (£506) or less.

But in a sign of the harsh times besieging the country, the “Now More Than Ever” appeal aims to widen the charity’s assistance to a further 300,000.

The campaign begins today, on Little Flag Day, traditionally the date when small armies of tin-rattling Red Cross volunteers descend on the streets of Spanish cities in the charity’s most high-profile annual drive to replenish its coffers.

Meanwhile, further economic storm clouds gathered yesterday as the International Monetary Fund provided the latest sign that there will be no let-up in the gloom surrounding the Spanish economy, predicting the country will miss its deficit targets for both 2012 and 2013.

The IMF also forecast that the Spanish economy will shrink by 1.3 per cent in 2013, more than double the government’s prediction of 0.5 per cent. Worldwide, only Greece has a bleaker economic outlook.

This cartoon caught my eye last night as well:

Austerity Rations © Martyn Turner,The Irish Times, Dublin,spain,austerity,rations,pigs,imf,ireland,portugal

Cagle Post » Austerity Rations

More information is coming out of the Obama Administration over Benghazi. State Department: No video protest at the Benghazi consulate

Prior to the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi late in the evening on Sept. 11, there was no protest outside the compound, a senior State Department official confirmed today, contradicting initial administration statements suggesting that the attack was an opportunistic reaction to unrest caused by an anti-Islam video.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, two senior State Department officials gave a detailed accounting of the events that lead to the death of Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The officials said that prior to the massive attack on the Benghazi compound by dozens of militants carrying heavy weaponry, there was no unrest outside the walls of the compound and no protest that anyone inside the compound was aware of.

In fact, Stevens hosted a series of meetings on the compound throughout the day, ending with a meeting with a Turkish diplomat that began at 7:30 in the evening, and all was quiet in the area.

“The ambassador walked guests out at 8:30 or so; there was nobody on the street. Then at 9:40 they saw on the security cameras that there were armed men invading the compound,” a senior State Department official said. “Everything is calm at 8:30 pm, there is nothing unusual. There had been nothing unusual during the day outside.”

I don’t know why the Obama people are mucking this up…it seems to me they are playing into Romney’s hands.

Romney has changed his position once again on abortion. Romney says abortion legislation isn’t part of his agenda | Des Moines Register Staff Blogs

Mitt Romney today said no abortion legislation is part of his agenda, but he would prohibit federally-funded international nonprofits from providing abortions in other countries.

“There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” the GOP presidential candidate told The Des Moines Register’s editorial board during a meeting today before his campaign rally at a Van Meter farm.

But by executive order, not by legislation, he would reinstate the so-called Mexico City policy that bans U.S. foreign aid dollars from being used to do abortions, he said.

President Barack Obama dropped the policy on his tenth day in office, Romney said.

Romney has said he opposes abortion, except in instances of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is threatened.

The Obama campaign quickly seized on Romney’s abortion comments Tuesday, sending out a news release accusing Romney of contradicting himself because he has said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Obama’s Iowa spokeswoman, Erin Seidler argued that Romney contradicted himself because has said he supports the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions.

However, the Hyde Amendment is already part of current law. And Romney has said he would appoint justices who are not activist judges.

Romney aides rejected the idea that he contradicted himself.

Spokeswoman Andrea Saul said: “Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life and will be a pro-life president.”

All the while, Ann Romney is accusing Obama of showing ‘poor sportsmanship’

Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, equated President Obama’s campaign to a petulant child during an interview Tuesday after being asked about charges from the president’s campaign that her husband had “lied” during last week’s debate.

“I mean, lied about what? This is something he’s been saying all along. This is what he believes.  This is his policy, these are his statements,” Ann Romney said in an interview set to air Wednesday on Fox News. “I mean, lie — it’s sort of like someone that’s, you know, in the sandbox that like lost the game and they’re just going to kick sand in someone’s face and say, ‘you liar.’ I mean, it’s like they lost, and so now they just are going to say, OK, the game, we didn’t like the game. So to me, it’s poor sportsmanship.”

Geez, she is worried about his mental health and then calling Romney out on his lies is “poor sportsmanship.”

I will end with this nugget from Fox’s Crowley: Paul Ryan Is The “Author” Of GOP’s “Entire Intellectual Framework” And “A Borderline Professional Athlete”

Sorry for the sparse links and commentary. I am still in a semi-awake state this morning.