Someone Needs to Remind President Obama Who Won the Election

Barack Obama's inner child?

Barack Obama’s inner child?

In November, President Obama won reelection cleanly and decisively–it was a landslide. Immediately after his victory, Obama appeared determined to stand up to Republican intransigence in the battle over the “fiscal cliff” and the debt ceiling. He “assured a gathering of progressive and labor leaders…”

“I am not going to budge,” he told the group, according to an attendee who relayed material from the meeting on condition of anonymity. “I said in 2010 that I’m going to do this once, and I meant it.”

….two other sources who attended the meeting confirmed the quote. The administration seems to have staked out a firmer position than during the first stand-off over the Bush-era tax cuts, in November and December of 2010, leaving the impression that it won’t sign off on a compromise that doesn’t increase the tax burden on the wealthy as a means of paying down the deficit….

Top Democrats in the Senate have said they would be comfortable letting all the tax rates expire — as they are scheduled to do — at the end of the year, after which they will put together a tax cut bill that would re-establish the Bush-era rates for incomes below $250,000.

As the talks began, the White House emphatically stated that Social Security was not part of the deficit and that cuts in this important program were off the table. But just a few weeks later, the odious New York Post is laughing at Obama for “caving” on Social Security. Why should Boehner negotiate in earnest when he knows his opponent–one of the most powerful men in the world–will eventually give in because of some perverse need to demonstrate “bipartisanship?”

A short time ago Obama gave a press conference in which he admitted,

“I have gone at least half way” to meet Republican concerns, Obama told reporters at the White House after he announced the formation of a special panel to recommend steps to prevent gun violence. “The fact that they haven’t taken it yet is puzzling.”

Obama’s offer includes raising tax rates on income above $400,000; increasing rates on capital gains and dividends to 20% from 15% for incomes above $250,000; and billions of dollars in cuts to health care and other programs.

While Obama has backed off on earlier proposals — including a $250,000 threshold for higher income taxes — Republicans continue to say that the president’s fiscal-cliff plan is flawed.

“It is not ‘puzzling’ to reject an agreement that…fails to remotely meet the test of balance [the president] himself has promised,” said Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, in a post on Twitter.

He’s sounding whiny again. Why is he so surprised? He’s like Charlie Brown with the football. Obama never seems to finally learn that if he stands strong against Boehner, he not only will defeat the Republicans but also he’ll earn the respect and support of the American people.

Markos has an interesting post at Dailykos that demonstrates this: It wasn’t Obama’s negotiating style that won him reelection. It almost cost him. Markos demonstrates with a chart and timeline that Obama’s approval rating rose and fell dramatically during his negotiations with Boehner over the debt ceiling last year.

President Barack Obama entered the debt ceiling negotiations with a net-negative approval rating. As House Speaker John Boehner became more belligerent and confrontational, Obama soared. The people were firmly behind him! But then he began offering concession after concession, hoping to seem “reasonable” and look like the “adult in the room,” and his numbers simply tanked. That’s a mathematical fact, not opinion.

He didn’t return to net-positive approvals until the Democratic convention this September. People didn’t reward Obama’s conciliatory approach to the negotiations. Rather, they saw it (rightly) as weakness, and reacted accordingly. No one likes a weak president.

Then Markos uses the 2012 exit polls to show that Obama was reelected despite his “leadership style,” because people sensed that the President really cared about their problems.

For those who based their choice on leadership, Obama got killed 61-38. And the president lost the “vision” and “values” questions handily as well. So how did he win? He cleaned up 81-18 with people who voted on which candidate cared about them the most. In other words, voters thought Mitt Romney was an aloof dick and trusted Obama most to look out for them. So maybe he should validate that trust.

Obama isn’t doing himself any favors by drawing lines in the sand and then inevitably capitulating.

Republicans have learned that there isn’t a negotiating stance that Obama won’t compromise. That doesn’t lend itself to smart negotiations. Rather, it creates unbalanced ones, as Republicans simply wait for Obama to cave on his demands. They’ve learned that for Obama, making a deal is more important than what’s in the deal.

Obama with dad

Why does Obama repeatedly do this? I can’t possibly know for sure, but I think he has inner child issues. We all have times when we regress back to a time in childhood when we were weak and had few options. It’s important to learn how to deal with that when it happens.

Obama needs to learn to remind himself that he’s no longer a small child abandoned first by his father and then by his mother–sent away to be raised by his grandparents. That must have been very difficult for him, but he’s not that sad, lonely little boy anymore. He’s the President of the United States, and those of us who voted for him need him to act like it.

Cutting Social Security and backing off the $250,000 income level for those who must pay more taxes is unacceptable. Not only will caving on these issues hurt seniors, disabled people, and force middle class and working class Americans to pay more than their share, but also giving in to Boehner’s demands will hurt Obama’s legacy and the Democratic Party as a whole. As David Johnson of The Campaign for America’s Future points out, “Social Security is Still the Third Rail,” and cutting it would be “political suicide.”

We JUST had an election where the public (not to mention Every. Single. Poll.) overwhelmingly said no cuts to Social Security or Medicare, and raise taxes on income over $250K. That ought to mean something. But the “word” out of DC is that a deal is underway that cuts the Social Security COLA and increases the income level subject to a higher tax from $250K to $400K.

Senators and Representatives who are thinking of touching the “third rail:” How many constituents are calling your office today to say, “Yes, I want you to cut the Social Security COLA”?
Cutting Social Security makes no sense, and is bad politics because it hurts people. Old people depend on this meager benefit and by law Social Security can not contribute to deficits. But never mind the numbers, look at the social and political effects of a deal that cuts the Social Security cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) immediately after the public voted not to do this.

The social effect: Does our society care about people, or just about money? Cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security hurt PEOPLE. Raising tax rates on the wealthy is just money. What does it tell the public about our society if their government cuts Social Security benefits immediately after we have an election in which the public overwhelmingly votes against cuts in Social Security or Medicare, and to increase taxes on $250K and up? This reported deal raises that $250K to $400K, reduces military cuts, and ignores that the same amount of money could be raised in ways that actually help the country and economy, like a Financial Transaction Tax.

The AARP has come out strongly against applying the chained CPI to Social Security.

“Adopting the chained consumer price index for Social Security benefits will take $112 billion out of the pockets of current Social Security beneficiaries in the next 10 years alone, and is neither fair nor warranted.

“Social Security is currently the principal source of income for nearly two-thirds of older American households, and roughly one third of those households depend on Social Security for nearly all of their income. Half of those 65 and older have annual incomes below $18,500. Every dollar of the average Social Security retirement benefit of about $14,800 is absolutely critical to the typical beneficiary.

“The Chained CPI is a stealth benefit reduction that will compound over time and cut thousands of dollars in retirement income for current beneficiaries. A typical 80-year-old woman will lose the equivalent of 3 months worth of food annually. The greatest impact of Chained CPI would fall on the oldest, eventually resulting in a cut of one full month’s benefit annually. This dramatic benefit cut would push thousands more into poverty and result in increased economic hardship for those trying desperately to keep up with rising prices.”

Labor unions are also warning Obama to “Back off Social Security.”

The AFL-CIO is pushing President Obama to back off from Social Security benefit cuts in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

The nation’s largest labor federation sent an email Tuesday to activists asking them to email the White House and lawmakers and oppose the changes to Social Security that the president has offered to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in deficit-reduction package.

“Boehner has been talking to President Obama about cutting Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs), which are especially important to keep inflation from eating away the benefits that seniors and people with disabilities depend on,” said the email, signed by Damon Silvers, the AFL-CIO’s director of policy.

“Email President Obama, your member of the House of Representatives and your senators to demand they reject House Speaker Boehner’s proposal to extend tax cuts for the rich and that they oppose COLA cuts and any other cuts to Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare benefits, regardless of who proposes them.”

These are the people who worked in the trenches to get out the vote and get Obama reelected despite the weak economy and high unemployment. But Obama the people-pleaser only seems to care about what the Republicans think of him. He probably knows intellectually that he’ll never get them to like him, but he just can’t help it. It’s as if Boehner somehow represents Barack Obama, Sr., the man who abandoned a little boy decades ago.

Obama needs to listen to the people who got him where he is and stop worrying about pleasing the people who hate him. He needs to listen to the AARP, Labor, and other progressive groups. It’s not too late to withdraw his latest offer–after all, Boehner has already rejected it and moved on to “Plan B.”

Take Social Security off the table, Mr. President.  Go back to your original stand on taxing incomes over $250,000. Your place in history and the well being of the American people depend on it.


Was I Dreaming? Did Mitt Romney Really Lose the Election?

Which of these guys really won the election?

Is Mitt Romney the President-elect or what? For the past several days, the media and the Republicans have acted as if they won.

In fact, President Obama won in the Electoral College by 126 votes and the popular vote by 3.3 million votes (so far). Democrats added 2  seats in the Senate and are likely to have a 55-45 majority if both independent Senators caucus with them. Democrats also increased their numbers in the House by 7. By any measure Democrats won a huge victory on November 6.

Is it just me, or are the corporate media and Republican leaders continuing to act under the assumption that Republicans will still be in full control of the nation’s destiny going forward and that Obama’s reelection means nothing?

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Bob Woodward produced a document that he described as follows:

MR. WOODWARD: Well, this is the confidential doc last offer the president, the White House made last year to Speaker Boehner to try to reach this four trillion dollar grand bargain. And it’s long and it’s tedious and it’s got budget jargon in it. But what it shows is a willingness to cut all kinds of things, like TRICARE, which is the sacred health insurance program for the military for military retirees; to cut Social Security; to cut Medicare, and there are– there are some lines in there about we want to get tax rates down, not only for individuals but for businesses. So Obama and the White House were willing to go quite far, in a sense this is the starting point

Dancin’ Dave Gregory says he’ll put it up on the MTP website so the “budget wonks” can see it. I can almost see his gleeful expression as he turns to newly elected Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro.

GREGORY: Right, we just got it here and we’ll– we’ll put it on the web [read it here]. But that’s the point. And congressman, I guess the– the question that Bob and I talked about is, there’s a lot of spending pain in there that Democrats are going to have to go back to their folks and say, hey, this is the pain you’re going to have to suffer. Are you prepared to do that?

REP. CASTRO: Oh, look, there’s no question. I mean, these are tough issues and that’s why there’s been a lot of hand-wringing and wrangling over them. But, yeah, I believe so. I believe you’ve got a Democratic Congress, especially in the House and in the Senate that are willing to make those tough choices, that know that in the long term that we’ve got to reform entitlements.

So these guys (including Democratic Rep Castro) are assuming that this same “grand bargain” will be the starting point for new negotiations? WTF?! From Lucas Kawa at Business Insider:

Yesterday on “Meet the Press,” Bob Woodward of the Washington Post displayed documents that outline a “Grand Bargain” the White House offered during debt ceiling negotiations in 2011.
The document in question appears to have been drafted by White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors, and includes the annotation ‘Post Gang of 6′ which suggests it was created as Supercommittee talks broke down.

Woodward describes the three-page document as “confidential” and points out Obama’s apparent willingness to take on sacred cows such as Medicare and Social Security. Specifically, the president was open to increasing the minimum age for Medicare recipients.

I assume Woodward would not have this “confidential document” and be handing it over to MTP if the White House didn’t want him to. The White House offer included cuts to veterans health benefits (Tricare), civilian and military retirement plans, social security, the Post Office, and Pell Grants. So it appears the White House is floating this idea to see what the public reaction will be.

This morning, I clicked around to a number of morning TV shows, and the meme I saw most often was that Obama and Congressional Democrats need to accept the reality that Obama’s supposed drop dead insistence on raising taxes on the top 2% is suddenly dead in the water and the only increased revenue will have to come from closing tax loopholes. There was much talk of enacting “Simpson-Bowles.”  I even saw Grover Norquist being asked whether he’d agree to raising some revenue in this way–but of course not by raising taxes on the wealthy!

The only tax loopholes that could be eliminated to raise significant revenue are the mortgage tax deduction and the charity deduction–and those would primarily affect middle class taxpayers.

Here’s Richard Escow at HuffPo, using a Veteran’s Day theme:

Every year our leaders honor our nation’s veterans with flags and parades. Are they also about to betray them this year with a backroom deal? Words won’t be enough this time. Our returning warriors need — and deserve — jobs, opportunity, and a thriving Social Security system that protects them and their families.

Bob Woodward obtained a copy of the deal the White House offered to Speaker of the House John Boehner last year. That proposal asked our nation’s vets to sacrifice for the luxuries of others once again It included cuts to TRICARE, the military health insurance program, which would have meant higher out-of-pocket medical costs for active and retired military personnel and their families.

The secret White House offer would have also cut Social Security payments for anyone receiving benefits today, along with everyone who’ll ever receive them in the future.

But Americans didn’t vote for a “grand bargain.” If Obama ran on anything, it was letting the Bush tax cuts expire on incomes over $250,000. He said it again and again on the campaign trail and he said it in a speech just a few days ago:

President Barack Obama on Friday signaled willingness to compromise with Republicans, declaring he was not “wedded to every detail” of his tax-and-spending approach to prevent deep and widespread pain in the new year. But he insisted his re-election gave him a mandate to raise taxes on wealthier Americans.

“The majority of Americans agree with my approach,” said Obama, brimming with apparent confidence in his first White House statement since securing a second term.

Finally, Josh Barro at Bloomberg writes that the Bush tax cuts for the rich aren’t going anywhere, “for now.”

Conservatives have taken a lot of well-deserved mockery about their overconfidence in last week’s election. But this week, I am seeing overconfidence from liberals that they are about to win the coming tax fight in Congress. They’re not.

On Dec. 31, all of the Bush tax cuts are set to expire, and, just like two years ago, Republicans want to extend them all while Democrats only want to extend about 80 percent of them, applying them to taxpayers making less than $250,000 a year….

If the fiscal cliff isn’t resolved before the end of the year, House Republicans will pass a tax cut in January — a tax cut that extends the Bush tax cuts in their entirety, including the part for people with high incomes. The Senate will pass one that excludes the high income tax cuts. Then both parties will say they have passed a tax cut bill and are just waiting for the other side to agree to it.

Democrats cannot force Republicans’ hand unless they are more willing than Republicans to let all the Bush tax cuts expire. And they won’t be. A full expiration might well cause a new recession, which would be even more politically damaging for the Barack Obama administration than for congressional Republicans. Congress is already about as unpopular as it can become, and Republicans know they are not going to get their legislative agenda enacted in the next two years anyway. But a new recession would greatly interfere with Obama’s second-term plans.

Obviously, I’m not Sky Dancing’s economist, so I’ll leave it to Dakinikat to tell me whether to freak out about this or not. But it isn’t sounding good to me so far.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Last night, Reuters reported that President Obama has authorized “secret support for Syrian rebels.”

President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, sources familiar with the matter said.

Obama’s order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence “finding,” broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.

This and other developments signal a shift toward growing, albeit still circumscribed, support for Assad’s armed opponents – a shift that intensified following last month’s failure of the U.N. Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government.

The White House is for now apparently stopping short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some U.S. allies do just that.

There’s much more at the link.

Yesterday, the House responded to the Senate’s passage of a bill to extend the Bush tax cuts for incomes of $250,000 or less by passing their own bill to extend all of the cuts, including those for the super-rich.

The Republican-led House of Representatives voted Wednesday to extend expiring George W. Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels for another year, a pre-election statement of the GOP’s unyielding opposition to raising taxes for any taxpayer.

Th 256 to 171 vote to preserve tax cuts first enacted during the Bush administration and renewed in 2010 since then fell largely along party lines, though 19 Democrats voted with Republicans to extend the tax cuts. One Republican was opposed.

It came after the House rejected a Democratic alternative, also largely on a partisan 170 to 257 vote, that would have preserve tax cuts for income up to $250,000 but allowed them to expire for the wealthy.

You probably heard that Fed Chair Ben Bernanke once again has refused to do anything new to stimulate employment.

According to its statement, the Fed won’t take any additional steps at the moment to boost the economy. No quantitative easing. No bold nwe statements. No trying to reduce mortgage rates further. The central bank’s forecast of “exceptionally low” interest rates through 2014 remains unchanged from its last report in June….

On the other hand, the committee’s statement does note that Fed officials are still poring over recent (and troubling) economic data. Growth has “decelerated” of late, with the U.S. economy expanding at a mere 1.5 percent pace in the second quarter of 2012. And the unemployment rate remains stuck at 8.2 percent. Meanwhile, inflation is expected to remain “at or below” the Fed’s target over the medium term. So is that enough to warrant more stimulus? The FOMC statement says, basically, ask us when we meet again in September:

The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments and will provide additional accommodation as needed to promote a stronger economic recovery and sustained improvement in labor market conditions in a context of price stability.

There’s an interesting article at Bloomberg Businessweek about Bernanke and the Fed: Bernanke, the Reluctant Revolutionary. The article makes a point that Dakinikat has often expressed:

Because of its demonstrated competence in crisis management, Bernanke’s Fed is being pulled into solving problems that the White House and Congress should be dealing with but aren’t. Housing? Under Bernanke the Fed has bought mortgage-backed securities to make loans cheaper and boost home sales. The fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax hikes that threatens the economy at the start of 2013? The Fed’s loose money policies, by stimulating growth, are compensating at least partially for the chilling effect on hiring and investment that fears of the cliff are already causing.

It’s a lot, and Bernanke argues that too much is being put on the Fed’s shoulders. “Monetary policy is not a panacea,” he told the Joint Economic Committee of Congress on June 7. “It would be much better to have a broad-based policy effort addressing a whole variety of issues. I leave the details to Congress, which has considered many of these issues. I’d feel much more comfortable if Congress would take some of this burden from us and address those issues.”

It’s a lengthy piece, so if you’re interested do read the whole thing.

Early yesterday, the judge in the George Zimmerman case, Kenneth Lester, denied the defense motion that he “disqualify” himself “because of alleged bias.”

In the motion asking George Zimmerman’s judge to step down, Florida’s rules required Judge Lester to “determine only the legal sufficiency of the motion.” Zimmerman’s motion failed that test, Judge Lester wrote in his ruling.

But the judge did not further explain why he found the motion insufficient. That’s likely because Florida’s rules explicitly state: “No other reason for denial shall be stated, and an order of denial shall not take issue with the motion.”

Zimmerman’s motion had accused Judge Lester of making opinionated remarks about evidence and “advocat[ing] for Mr. Zimmerman to be prosecuted for additional crimes” in his July 5 order setting bail.

Poor George.

There’s quite a bit of news about Mitt Romney, but for some reason I’m resistant to writing about him at the moment. Amazing, huh? So I’m just going to quickly list some articles that you may want to take a look at.

You probably heard about the Brookings report that gives the kiss of death to Romney’s tax plan. The Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery (who leans right) covered it yesterday, and even she couldn’t sugarcoat it. Study: Romney tax plan would result in cuts for rich, higher burden for others

The study was conducted by researchers at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, who seem to bend over backward to be fair to the Republican presidential candidate. To cover the cost of his plan — which would reduce tax rates by 20 percent, repeal the estate tax and eliminate taxes on investment income for middle-class taxpayers — the researchers assume that Romney would go after breaks for the richest taxpayers first.

They even look at what would happen if Republicans’ dreams for tax reform came true and the proposal generated significant revenue through economic growth.

None of it helped Romney. His rate-cutting plan for individuals would reduce tax collections by about $360 billion in 2015, the study says. To avoid increasing deficits — as Romney has pledged — the plan would have to generate an equivalent amount of revenue by slashing tax breaks for mortgage interest, employer-provided health care, education, medical expenses, state and local taxes, and child care — all breaks that benefit the middle class.

“It is not mathematically possible to design a revenue-neutral plan that preserves current incentives for savings and investment and that does not result in a net tax cut for high-income taxpayers and a net tax increase for lower- and/or middle-income taxpayers,” the study concludes.

That should be the end of it, but of course many Americans don’t care about facts. Naturally, the Romney campaign says the study is “biased.”

There’s a very harsh assessment of Team Romney at Foreign Policy. Too Much Baggage: Mitt Romney needs to fire his foreign-policy team. Yesterday. I’m not going to excerpt from the piece, because it’s important to read the whole thing. I highly recommend it!

Michael Kinsley has a very good piece on Romney’s endless complaints about the supposed lack of respect President Obama (and by extension other liberals) for his supposed “success.”

Jared Diamond, the author of one of the books Romney referenced in his speech in Israel, says he was misquoted: Romney Hasn’t Done His Homework.

MITT ROMNEY’S latest controversial remark, about the role of culture in explaining why some countries are rich and powerful while others are poor and weak, has attracted much comment. I was especially interested in his remark because he misrepresented my views and, in contrasting them with another scholar’s arguments, oversimplified the issue.

It is not true that my book “Guns, Germs and Steel,” as Mr. Romney described it in a speech in Jerusalem, “basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth.”

That is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it. My focus was mostly on biological features, like plant and animal species, and among physical characteristics, the ones I mentioned were continents’ sizes and shapes and relative isolation. I said nothing about iron ore, which is so widespread that its distribution has had little effect on the different successes of different peoples. (As I learned this week, Mr. Romney also mischaracterized my book in his memoir, “No Apology: Believe in America.”)

And here’s the closing paragraph:

Mitt Romney may become our next president. Will he continue to espouse one-factor explanations for multicausal problems, and fail to understand history and the modern world? If so, he will preside over a declining nation squandering its advantages of location and history.

Please go read it. There’s much much more excoriation of Willard’s lies. Bwaaaaaahahahahahahaha!

Michael Kinsley has a great piece on Romney’s endless complaints about Americans who supposedly don’t respect his supposed “success.”

Romney’s ‘success’ problem: Is getting ahead in the U.S. simply a matter of brainpower and hard work, as the GOP candidate says? And if so, is everyone else stupid and lazy? Here’s just a bit of it:

Romney worries that Americans are losing their appreciation of success, as evidenced by President Obama’s desire to reduce the rewards of success by raising taxes on high incomes. He sees in this not just a bigger tax bill for successful people but an insult as well. An alternative perspective is that any successful person who feels personally insulted by a request from the president to share a bit of it is, in the immortal words of Liberace, crying “all the way to the bank” (or, to quote someone else, “a master of the fancied slight”).

You might also ask yourself: If Obama is insulting successful people by suggesting that their success doesn’t necessarily result entirely from their own hard work and brainpower, doesn’t that mean that Romney is insulting the vast majority of folks who are unsuccessful (by Romney’s exalted standard) by implying that they are lazy and stupid? If your success is entirely your own achievement, then your lack of success is entirely your own fault.

Finally, Haaretz is basically saying that Romney is Netanyahu’s puppet. Most of the article is for subscribers only, but here’s a screenshot of the page.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Wednesday Reads: Power Outage Quickie and Mitt the Twit, Take Three

Good Morning,

I completely forgot that I had a post to write this morning, and then we had a huge storm here in Banjoville, and the power went out. So this post will be a quick one.

Tennessee is getting quite a reputation these days. Kelly Keisling, Tennessee Legislator, Mass Emailed Obama ‘Staged Assassination’ Rumor

A Republican member of the Tennessee state legislature emailed constituents Tuesday morning with a rumor circulating in conservative circles that President Barack Obama is planning to stage a fake assassination attempt in an effort to stop the 2012 election from happening.

Rep. Kelly Keisling (R-Byrdstown) sent an email from his state email account to constituents containing a rumor that Obama and the Department of Homeland Security are planning a series of events that could lead to the imposition of “martial law” and delay the election. Among the events hypothesized in the email is a staged assassination attempt on the president that would lead to civil unrest in urban areas and martial law.

Ugh…surprise his source is not Michele Bachmann…

Keisling appears to have forwarded a more widely circulated email from Joe Angione, a Florida-based conservative blogger. Angione prefaces the rumor by saying it has not been confirmed but likewise notes it has not been denied. Angione also writes that people need to work to prevent the rumor from becoming reality.

The conspiracy theory started with an article written by Doug Hammon and posted on CanadaFreePress.com, which he said arose from conversations he had with an informant within the Department of Homeland Security.

The Constitution Party of Florida posted the same Angione story on their website this week. Party chairman Mark Pilling wrote a note saying that he believes some sort of unrest will occur this year.

Geez.

And just when you think Romney can’t flip any more, he writes an op/ed for the National Review: Culture Does Matter – By Mitt Romney – The Corner – National Review Online

TPM takes a look at it here: Take Three: Mitt Romney Now Says He Stands By Palestinian ‘Culture’ Comments | TPM2012

On Sunday, Mitt Romney boldly declared that Israel’s economic superiority over the Palestinians was due to its culture. On Tuesday morning, he dismissed any notion that he had even discussed Palestinian culture. On Tuesday night, Romney reversed himself yet again, in an op-ed entitled “Culture Does Matter.”

“During my recent trip to Israel, I had suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity, and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it,” Romney wrote in the National Review. “In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy. But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture?”

In an interview earlier the very same day with FOX News, Romney told interviewer Carl Cameron that he “did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy” and that he “certainly [doesn’t] intend to address that during my campaign.”

That interview appeared to be directly at odds with Romney’s original speech, in which he directly compared the per capita GDP of Israel and the Palestinian territories and attributed Israel’s comparative strength to “culture” and the “hand of providence.” It also directly contradicts the first paragraph of his National Review op-ed, in which he explicitly says he was comparing the two economies and cultures.

I think this is the kind of cultural differences Romney is making:  Cagle Post » Rich Culture of Romney

Rich Culture of Romney © Adam Zyglis,The Buffalo News,mitt, romney, culture, dressage, horse, olympics, culture, israel, palistine, racism, wealthy, 1, 99, percent, rich, wealthy, gaffes, overseas

Or was Romney talking about this kind of cultural differences:  Jon Stewart Mocks Romney Campaign For Gaffes In Poland And Israel | Mediaite

He observed that Romney faced “trouble in England for answering questions [and] trouble in Poland for ignoring questions,” and prayed that the third country Romney visited was not a place where people are easily “prone to complaining.” Naturally, it was Israel, and Stewart’s hopes were dashed once again.

Stewart sat with baited breath, wondering how Romney would mess up in Israel, and while at first he was relieved that Romney was overly complimentary of the Israeli people in his speech, he then brought up the controversy over Romney’s remarks about the Palestinians that did not go over well. As Stewart observed:

“Romney appears to be saying that the Palestinians are purely the architects of their own poverty, or, if you prefer to look at the converse, that Jews are culturally some money-making motherfuckers. Either way…”

Video at the link…

Updates on the DC fetal pain crap….I mean proposed bill. House Fails to Pass D.C. 20-Week Abortion Ban | RH Reality Check

And about that PLUB law in Arizona? Goodbye, Trimesters: How The Arizona Court Ruling May Turn Roe On Its Head | RH Reality Check

They are both long links so please go and read them in full.

Meanwhile: House GOP Tax Plan Raises Taxes On 10 Times As Many People As Democratic Proposal | ThinkProgress

Senate Republicans last week proposed a plan that would raise taxes on more than 20 million Americans, while maintaining the high-end Bush tax cuts. Letting those tax cuts on income in excess of $250,000 expire would affect just two million wealthy taxpayers, by comparison.

Now, House Republicans have adopted the same plan, and the effect is the same: roughly 24 million middle- and lower-class Americans will see their taxes raised so that roughly two million of the richest taxpayers can maintain a tax cut, as this chart from the Center for American Progress’ Seth Hanlon and Sarah Ayres illustrate:

More nifty graphs at that link…it shows us who are the ones that will be getting hit with these increases…

Even worse, more than a third of families with children — a total of 18.6 million households, including 9.2 million single parents — would see a tax increase, according to Hanlon and Ayres’ analysis:

According to the analysis, roughly 11 million American families would lose some or all of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides a tax break on college tuition payments, at an average cost of $1,100 each. About 12 million would lose part or all of the Child Tax Credit, costing them an average of $800, and about 6 million would lose all or part of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which saves each recipient an average of $500.

One thing I find interesting is this(Oh, it is a good one, you betcha!): Dishonest Fox Chart: Bush Tax Cut Edition | Blog | Media Matters for America

Fox Business used a graphic with a badly distorted scale to exaggerate the effect that the expiration of the Bush tax cuts would have on the rich.

Here’s how Fox Business’ Cavuto presented a return to the Clinton-era tax rate of 39.6 percent on the top income bracket, from the Bush-era rate of 35 percent:

Here’s what that increase of 4.6 percentage points looks like on a more realistic scale:

Fox has a lot of trouble making charts that are accurate and fair, having aired misleading graphics on gas taxes and statistics about unemployment, among other subjects.

Heh…heh…heh. I quoted the whole post there, because I had to. Look at it! Look at it!

And what about those Voter ID laws? ugh…Pa. Top Election Official Disputes Negative Impact of New Voter ID Law « CBS Philly

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth was on the witness stand today, during day five of the court hearing on Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law.

And her testimony just added to the confusion over exactly how many voters need ID.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichele is the top state official in charge of implementing the voter ID.  But when she took the stand she was cagey, even making jokes in some instances in her response to plaintiffs’ attorneys.

At one point, when lawyers asked her about the details of the voter ID law, Aichele responded, “I don’t know what the law says.”

I can show you what it means…after this continuation of the story:

Plaintiffs’ attorney David Gersch (of Arnold and Porter) says the secretary is not the only one confused about what the law requires.

“The law is very technical — that’s another problem with it,” he tells KYW Newsraadio.   “Earlier in the trial we had testimony from lawyers who are advocates for poor people and homeless people trying to get identification, and those lawyers said they didn’t understand all apects of the law!”

When lawyers questioned Aichele today about the number of  Pennsylvanians who need ID, Aichele was adamant that 99 percent of voters had valid ID.

When plaintiffs’ attorneys cited earlier Department of State testimony that the number is likely inaccurate, Aichele said simply, “I disagree.”

She later admitted that the state does not know the real number of voters who need ID.

Voter ID laws = Voter Suppression – Truthdig

And one more goodbye, this time to Writer Gore Vidal, 86, has died – latimes.com

Gore Vidal, the iconoclastic writer, savvy analyst and imperious gadfly on the national conscience, has died. He was 86.

Vidal died Tuesday at his home in the Hollywood Hills of complications of pneumonia, said nephew Burr Steers.

Vidal was a literary juggernaut who wrote 25 novels, including historical works such as “Lincoln” and “Burr” and satires such as “Myra Breckinridge” and “Duluth.” He was also a prolific essayist whose pieces on politics, sexuality, religion and literature — once described as “elegantly sustained demolition derbies” — both delighted and inflamed and in 1993 earned him a National Book Award for his massive “United States Essays, 1952-1992.”

[…]

He also wrote Broadway hits, screenplays, television dramas and a trio of mysteries under a pseudonym that remain in print after 50 years.

When he wasn’t writing, he was popping up in movies, playing himself in “Fellini’s Roma,” a sinister plotter in sci-fi thriller “Gattaca” and a U.S. senator in “Bob Roberts.” In other spare moments, he made two entertaining but unsuccessful forays into politics, running for the Senate from California and Congress in New York, and established himself as a master of talk-show punditry who demolished intellectual rivals like Norman Mailer and William F. Buckley with acidic one-liners.

“Style,” Vidal once said, “is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” By that definition, he was an emperor of style, sophisticated and cantankerous in his prophesies of America’s fate and refusal to let others define him.

Dakinikat put up a post in tribute of Vidal late last night. Goodbye Mr. Vidal.

That was a whirlwind of a post…woosh.

So, what are you all reading and thinking about this first day of August!


Sunday Reads: Memorial Days and One Hot Summer Ahead

Memorial Day 1909, click image to see more vintage postcards.

Morning all!

This is a long weekend for many of you, and I hope that you all are enjoying it! Take care because it is during these weekends that bring about travel and water related fatalities.

Earlier this week, Boston Boomer mentioned something in a comment about the origin of Memorial Day. So I thought this link from the New York Times was interesting… Many Claim to Be Memorial Day Birthplace

James Rajotte for The New York Times

WATERLOO, N.Y.: OFFICIAL RECOGNITION Col. Lars Braun, who had just returned from 14 months in Iraq, in a Memorial Day parade in 2008 with his daughter, Rachel. In 1966, a presidential proclamation designated the town, in the Finger Lakes area, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.

Right on either side of Alabama, there are two places with the same name.

Like the one over in Mississippi, this Columbus was founded in the 1820s and sits just a few minutes from countryside in almost any way you drive.

Residents say it was here, in the years after the Civil War, that Memorial Day was born.

They say that in the other Columbus, too.

It does not take much for the historically curious in either town — like Richard Gardiner, a professor of teacher education at Columbus State University here — to explain why theirs is the true originator of a revered American holiday and why the other is well-meaning but simply misguided.

“I’m going to blame Memphis to some degree,” Professor Gardiner said, about which more later.

Oh boy, there is nothing like a good old-fashioned squabble about something that dates back to the Civil War.

The custom of strewing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers has innumerable founders, going back perhaps beyond the horizon of recorded history, perhaps as far as war itself. But there is the ancient practice and there is Memorial Day, the specific holiday, arising from an order for the annual decoration of graves that was delivered in 1868 by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a group made up of Union veterans of the Civil War.

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, roughly two dozen places claim to be the primary source of the holiday, an assertion found on plaques, on Web sites and in the dogged avowals of local historians across the country.

Yet each town seems to have different criteria: whether its ceremony was in fact the earliest to honor Civil War dead, or the first one that General Logan heard about, or the first one that conceived of a national, recurring day.

The article mentions several of the towns that claim being the first, but it focuses on two specific towns.

the claims of the two Columbuses, eyeing each other across Alabama, are among the more nuanced and possibly the most intertwined.

[…]

Columbus, Miss., was a hospital town, and in many cases a burial site, for both Union and Confederate casualties of Shiloh, brought in by the trainload. And it was in that Columbus where, at the initiation of four women who met in a 12-gabled house on North Fourth Street, a solemn procession was made to Friendship Cemetery on April 25, 1866.

As the story goes, one of the women spontaneously suggested that they decorate the graves of the Union as well as the Confederate dead, as each grave contained someone’s father, brother or son. A lawyer in Ithaca, N.Y., named Francis Miles Finch read about this reconciliatory gesture and wrote a poem about the ceremony in Columbus, “The Blue and the Gray,” which The Atlantic Monthly published in 1867.

“My view is it’s really the poem that inspired the nation,” said Rufus Ward, a retired district attorney, sitting in his basement and sipping a mint julep (his grandmother’s recipe, he said, the one she shared with Eudora Welty).

The Georgians dispute little of this. But they argue that the procession in the other Columbus was actually inspired by the events in their Columbus.

And what about Georgia’s Columbus?

…Professor Gardiner points to a local woman named Mary Ann Williams, who in the spring of 1866 wrote an open letter suggesting “a day be set apart annually” and become a “custom of the country” to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers.

That day, described as a national day, was chosen to be April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender in North Carolina to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army. The letter, or a summary of it, ran in newspapers all over the South, and as far west as St. Louis and as far north as New Hampshire, leading to widespread ceremonies on that day.

It also ran in the The Memphis Daily Avalanche on March 27, 1866. But the paper had the wrong date — April 25.

“This misprint right here is the difference between what you’ll hear in Columbus, Mississippi, and here,” Professor Gardiner said, concluding that the Memphis misprint traveled to the other Columbus. The Mississippi commemoration did take place a day earlier, he admitted, but they go too far in claiming they came up with it independently. “I just can’t — I don’t buy it.”

But this day set by Mary Ann Williams was only for the Confederate dead. And still to this day the south celebrates Confederate Day, our Banjoville courthouse is closed on that day.

However, according to Professor of History David W. Blight, Yale University…the event that brought about Memorial Day is…

…a mostly forgotten — or possibly suppressed — event in Charleston, S.C., in 1865 at a racetrack turned war prison. Black workmen properly reburied the Union dead that were found there, and on May 1, a cemetery dedication was held, attended by thousands of freed blacks who marched in procession around the track.

He has called that the first Memorial Day, as it predated most of the other contenders, though he said he has no evidence that it led to General Logan’s call for a national holiday.

“I’m much more interested in the meaning that’s being conveyed in that incredible ritual than who’s first,” he said.

I agree with Blight’s assessment too. The meaning of the day is what is most important.

So with that in mind, please take a moment today and remember all the soldiers who have died in the service of their country.

More news links after the jump.

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