Saturday Late Morning Reads

groucho reading newspaper

Good Morning!!

Last night I watched an old Marx Brothers movie–Monkey Business. It’s been years since I’ve watched one of their movies, and I’d forgotten how much fun it can be. Laughter really is the best medicine. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see a movie with the Marx Brothers making people like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and David Gregory look like complete idiots?

Not that Republicans need Groucho, Chico, or Harpo to highlight their idiocy, as you can see from this story at TPM: CPAC Event On Racial Tolerance Turns To Chaos As ‘Disenfranchised’ Whites Arrive

The session, entitled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” was led by K. Carl Smith, a black conservative who mostly urged attendees to deflect racism charges by calling themselves “Frederick Douglass Republicans.”

Disruptions began when he started accusing Democrats of still being the party of the Confederacy — a common talking point on the right….Disruptions began when he started accusing Democrats of still being the party of the Confederacy — a common talking point on the right.

But “things really went off the rails” in the question and answer session.

Scott Terry of North Carolina, accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, Matthew Heimbach, rose to say he took offense to the event’s take on slavery. (Heimbach founded the White Students Union at Towson University and is described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)

“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” Terry said, adding he “came to love my people and culture” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”

Smith responded that Douglass forgave his slavemaster.

“For giving him shelter? And food?” Terry said.

At this point the event devolved into a mess of shouting.

It sounds just like a Marx Brothers movie, without the jokes. There’s much more at the link–you have to read it to believe it.

More on CPAC from Gay activist and talk radio host Michaelangelo Signorile: Brian Brown, NOM Leader, At CPAC: Prop 8 Challenge Is ‘Biggest Strategic Mistake’ of Gay Rights Movement

A day before GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio reversed his position and came out for marriage equality, Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), insisted conservatives are rallying against gay marriage and that “if the Republican Party abandons traditional marriage, there is no Republican Party.” He also predicted that California’s Proposition 8 will be upheld by the Supreme Court, which is hearing arguments on the case later this month, calling the decision by gay advocates to challenge Prop 8 “the biggest strategic mistake the supporters of same-sex marriage ever have made.”

“I think people are excited [about traditional marriage],” Brown said in an interview on my SiriusXM OutQ radio program, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Thursday. “[Florida Senator] Marco Rubio just stood up there and said, ‘Just because I’m for traditional marriage doesn’t make me a bigot.’ And everyone stood up and cheered. The grass roots of conservatism are absolutely united behind traditional marriage. Folks I’m seeing here are absolutely committed.”

You can listen to the whole interview at the HuffPo link.

marx bros reading1

I liked TBogg’s rude comment on Portman’s overnight conversion: Honey, I’m Homo.

If you think the rapidity with which a Republican politician, who was previously against equal rights for gays, suddenly switches sides once he discovers that Teh Ghey has invaded his happy All-American home is impressive, you should see how quickly they embrace abortion as a God-given right the moment their daughter announces that she has been knocked up.

By a black guy.

Jonathan Chait has a longer, more carefully reasoned discussion of Portman’s hypocrisy. Here’s the conclusion:

It’s pretty simple. Portman went along with his party’s opposition to gay marriage because it didn’t affect him. He thought about gay rights the way Paul Ryan thinks about health care. And he still obviously thinks about most issues the way Paul Ryan thinks about health care.

That Portman turns out to have a gay son is convenient for the gay-rights cause. But why should any of us come away from his conversion trusting that Portman is thinking on any issue about what’s good for all of us, rather than what’s good for himself and the people he knows?

Exactly.

As for Paul Ryan, he claims that “Democrats’ budget puts US on path ‘straight into debt crisis.'” From The Hill:

Ryan used the weekly GOP address to promote the budget plan bearing his name, saying it will benefit Americans worried about jobs and the cost of living, those trying to keep up with the cost of healthcare and younger workers hoping for a secure retirement. “And for taxpayers fed up with the status quo, we will cut wasteful spending,” he said….

Ryan took aim at President Obama and Senate Democrats, saying the tax increases in a proposal from Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) only “fuel more spending.”

“We know where this path leads—straight into a debt crisis, and along the way, fewer jobs, fewer opportunities, and less security,” Ryan said, painting a desperate image of rising interest rates and inflating debt payments.

“Our finances will collapse,” he warned. “You think this can’t happen here? Just look at Europe.”

harpo-gookie

WTF?! Europe’s problems are being exacerbated by austerity! Is this guy for real? Here’s what the Tax Policy Center has to say about Mr. Ryan’s “budget.”

House GOP Would Need $5.7 Trillion in Tax Hikes to Offset Ryan Rate Cuts

House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) fiscal plan promises to balance the federal budget in 10 years, make major cuts in income tax rates for both individuals and corporations, and raise the same amount of revenue as current law. If House Republicans want to do all three, they will have to eliminate trillions of dollars in popular tax preferences.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that cutting individual rates to 10 percent and 25 percent, repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax and the tax increases included in the Affordable Care Act, and cutting the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent would add $5.7 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. Thus, if House Republicans want to cut these taxes and still collect the revenues they promise, they’d have to raise other taxes by $5.7 trillion.

The tax cuts described in Ryan’s budget would generate a huge windfall for high-income taxpayers. On average, households would get a cut of $3,000. But those in the top 0.1 percent of income, who make $3.3 million or more, would get a whopping $1.2 million on average–a 20 percent increase in their after-tax income.

By contrast, middle-income households would get an average tax cut of about $900. Those in the bottom 20 percent (who make $22,000 or less) would get $40 and one-third of them would get no tax cut at all.

Some important caveats here: TPC did not estimate the revenue effects of a Ryan tax proposal since the budget does not include an actual plan. Rather, it modeled generic tax cuts that follow the outline of what his budget describes. And because his plan does not identify any tax increases, TPC modeled only the tax cuts.

Some budget. Here’s Matthew O’Brien at The Atlantic: Paul Ryan’s $5.7 Trillion Magic Trick

I’m not really a fan of magic, but I’m even less of one when it’s politicians doing the tricks.

That’s why I’ve had some less-than-nice things to say about Paul Ryan’s latest budget. Like its previous iterations, it explicitly says how he wants to cut taxes, but says nothing about how he wants to pay for it. Instead, Ryan uses a magic asterisk. He merely waves his hand, and says he’ll cut enough tax expenditures to pay for all of his tax cuts. He just can’t tell us what any of these tax expenditures are. Not a single one.

This is some pretty expensive hand-waving….this magic asterisk is worth about $1 trillion more than before. Ryan keeps the same tax cuts he had last year, but he assumes these same cuts will raise an extra 0.5 percent of GDP in revenue. In other words, it’s the same magical budgeting we’ve come to know from Ryan — but now with even more magic!

It’s particularly magical for the top 1 percent of households. The chart below from the Tax Policy Center shows the percent change in after-tax incomes for each income group from Ryan’s tax cuts. That’s what comforting the comfortable looks like.

There’s much more (with charts) at the link.

Now here’s some good news–if it holds up: Federal Judge Finds National Security Letters Unconstitutional, Bans Them. From Wired:

Ultra-secret national security letters that come with a gag order on the recipient are an unconstitutional impingement on free speech, a federal judge in California ruled in a decision released Friday.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered the government to stop issuing so-called NSLs across the board, in a stunning defeat for the Obama administration’s surveillance practices. She also ordered the government to cease enforcing the gag provision in any other cases. However, she stayed her order for 90 days to give the government a chance to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We are very pleased that the Court recognized the fatal constitutional shortcomings of the NSL statute,” said Matt Zimmerman, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed a challenge to NSLs on behalf of an unknown telecom that received an NSL in 2011. “The government’s gags have truncated the public debate on these controversial surveillance tools. Our client looks forward to the day when it can publicly discuss its experience.”

The telecommunications company received the ultra-secret demand letter in 2011 from the FBI seeking information about a customer or customers. The company took the extraordinary and rare step of challenging the underlying authority of the National Security Letter, as well as the legitimacy of the gag order that came with it.

The national security letters are one of those holdovers from Bush that the Obama administration has defended in court. Please read the whole article if you have time–there’s a lot of good background info. Here’s the press release from the EFF. Who knows what will happen on appeal or if the case makes it to the Supreme Court, but this is very good news.

chico marx reading

Finally, we can look forward to some more insanity from the CPAC crowd today–Ted Cruz will be closing out the conference with his keynote speech–and before that there’ll be a whole assortment of mixed Republican nuts. From NPR:

It’s the last day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, which will culminate in a keynote address by up-and-coming Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. As NPR’s David Welna reports,

“Though he’s only been a senator since January, this will be the third year Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is addressing CPAC. This former Texas solicitor general and Tea Party favorite got top billing at the conference after aggressively questioning former GOP senator Chuck Hagel during Hagel’s confirmation hearing to be secretary of defense.”

Also scheduled to speak are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. (CPAC has the full schedule on its website.)

Sorry this post is so late–I hope everyone hasn’t given up on me already. If anyone is out there, please share your recommended links in the comments. I look forward to clicking on them!

Have a great weekend!


Oh, so NOWWWWwww You suddenly get it?

mirror-on-the-wall snow whiteSome times people are so transparent that you wonder why you can’t literally see through them. Rob Portman’s conversion to a born gain PFLAG member just strikes me as a bit shallow. I’m not the only one who finds his sudden change of heart about marriage equality to be more about him than about actually recognizing that civil rights under the law should apply to every one. This bit is from Matt Ygleisas at Slate.

I’m glad that Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio has reconsidered his view on gay marriage upon realization that his son is gay, but I also find this particular window into moderation—memorably dubbed Miss America conservatism by Mark Schmitt—to be the most annoying form

Remember when Sarah Palin was running for vice president on a platform of tax cuts and reduced spending? But there was one form of domestic social spending she liked to champion? Spending on disabled children? Because she had a disabled child personally? Yet somehow her personal experience with disability didn’t lead her to any conclusions about the millions of mothers simply struggling to raise children in conditions of general poorness. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son with a pre-existing medical condition who’s locked out of the health insurance market. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son engaged in peasant agriculture whose livelihood is likely to be wiped out by climate change. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son who’ll be malnourished if SNAP benefits are cut. So Rob Portman doesn’t care.

It’s a great strength of the movement for gay political equality that lots of important and influential people happen to have gay children. That obviously does change people’s thinking. And good for them.

Why is it that some people only seem to do the seemingly right thing only when it impacts them?

Krugman has similar thoughts on the topic.  Why is it these folks can’t empathize with  situations involving other people’s children?  Is it really that far of stretch to say his conversion is nice but hardly praiseworthy given the circumstance that he was a rigid homophobe until it impacted him?

But while enlightenment is good, wouldn’t it have been a lot more praiseworthy if he had shown some flexibility on the issue before he knew that his own family would benefit?

I’ve noticed this thing quite a lot in American life lately — this sort of cramped vision of altruism in which it’s considered perfectly acceptable to support only those causes that are directly good for you and yours. We even have a tendency to view it as “inauthentic” when people support policies that aren’t in their self-interest — when a rich man supports higher taxes on the rich, he’s somehow seen as strange, and probably a hypocrite.

Needless to say, this is all wrong. Political virtue consists in standing for what’s right, even — or indeed especially — when it doesn’t redound to your own benefit. Someone should ask Portman why he didn’t take a stand for, you know, other people’s children.

So, here’s another weird thing.  All the folks talking about this particular angle seem to be in the economics business.  Is it because we’re intrigued by what motivates people to choose one thing over any other thing?

I think we should have compassion for all peaceful people. Yglesias and I would express our compassion in pretty different ways: he would have a powerful government use force to grab people’s wealth and give it to others and I wouldn’t. But where we agree is that you shouldn’t have to wait until the state interferes with your peaceful son before you start advocating that the state not interfere with other people. So, for example, maybe Portman’s son doesn’t smoke marijuana or snort cocaine. But if he did, it would be admirable for Portman to come out in favor of legalizing marijuana and cocaine. It would be even more admirable if he came out in favor of legalizing them absent any evidence that his son uses them.

I guess we have to leave it to the psychologists to tell us why some people just don’t come around to the compassionate, wise, and just thing to do until it gores their ox. I wish I could be a bit more bottom-lined about this and just be glad there’s another vote out there for marriage equality.  Still, the entire circumstance and now the media adoration pouring all over Portman just doesn’t have that fresh sanctified smell to me.  It does seem that  I may be suffering a symptom of my career choice which again, studies how people make choices.


Mitt Romney Treats Media to Delusional Pity Party

Mitt Romney with Rob Portman, speaking to reporters on flight to Denver, 9/23/12. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Yesterday, on the way from Los Angeles to Denver aboard his private campaign plane, Mitt Romney commiserated with reporters about the way his presidential run is going.

Recently fellow Republicans have been critical of him for spending so much time fund-raising when he should be campaigning in swing states. Yesterday, Romney explained to reporters on his campaign plane why he has had to spend so much time raising money–it’s all President Obama’s fault. According to NBC News, Romney

addressed his languid public campaign schedule of late, which has focused largely on fundraising and debate prep, by again blaming the president for disregarding federal campaign matching funds in 2008 and again this presidential cycle, forcing him to do the same.

“He’s doing it again this time, so to be competitive it means a lot more fundraising than I think I would like,” Romney said. “I’d far rather be spending my time out in the key swing states campaigning, door-to-door if necessary, but in rallies and various meetings, but fundraising is a part of politics when you’re opponent decides not to live by the federal spending limits.”

See, if poor Mitt had had his druthers, he’d have taken federal matching funds instead of raising unlimited campaign money from millionaires and billionaires. But that mean old Barack Obama forced him to turn to mega-rich donors. It wasn’t what Mitt really wanted.

Frankly, I think Romney must be so anxious about the situation he’s in that he is getting slightly delusional. He’s clearly in deep denial about his standing against Obama in the polls. He told Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes that his campaign “doesn’t need a turnaround” because “We’ve got a campaign which is tied with an incumbent President to the United States.”

Really? When you’re behind by about 3 points nationally and trailing in every swing state, I don’t call that tied.

Back to the pity party. Romney told reporters that

“I don’t pay a lot of attention to the day-to-day polls. They change a great deal,” Romney said. “I know in the coming six weeks they’re very unlikely to remain where they are today. I’ll either go up or I’ll go down. It’s unlikely that we’ll just stay the same.”

But when he was asked why he’s behind in swing states, Romney again blamed President Obama. The New York Times Caucus Blog has details on Romney’s complaints about the Obama campaign’s ads:

“I think that the president’s campaign has focused its advertising in many cases on very inaccurate portrayals of my positions,” he said. “They’ve been very aggressive in their attacks both on a personal basis and on a policy basis. I think as time goes on, people will realize that those attacks are not accurate and we’ll be able to have a choice which is based upon each other’s accurate views for the future of country” ….

“When he says I was in favor of liquidating the automobile industry, nothing could be further from the truth,” Mr. Romney said. “My plan was to rebuild the auto industry and take it through bankruptcy so that could happen, and by the way he doesn’t mention he took them through bankruptcy.”

Mr. Romney did oppose the auto industry bailout, instead lobbying for a process of “managed bankruptcy,” which he said would have allowed the car companies to restructure and emerge stronger than before. Though Mr. Obama did ultimately take General Motors and Chrysler through managed bankruptcies, the president argues that the process would not have been possible without his decision to inject the companies with billions in taxpayer money — an intervention Mr. Romney opposed.

Romney also expressed dismay that the Obama campaign has claimed that he is against abortion “even in cases of rape and incest and the life of the mother….That’s wrong.” It’s true that Romney has said he believes that rape and incest victims and mothers whose physical health is threatened should be excepted from abortion bans;  but at the same time he chose Paul Ryan–who doesn’t support any exceptions–as his running mate and before that he told Mike Huckabee that he supports state constitutional amendments to establish “personhood” for fertilized eggs. So why should voters trust him?

On his tax plan, according to The National Journal, Romney

accused his rival of inaccurately saying he favors lowering taxes on the wealthy while raising them on middle-income people. He was apparently referring to Democrats’ use of a study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center that found Romney’s tax plan would require households with incomes under $200,000 to pay higher taxes, on average, to help finance tax cuts for the rich. Romney has dismissed the study’s assumptions as “garbage.”

Back to the Caucus Blog:

Standing in the back of his plane, and pressed by reporters to explain his lagging position in many polls, Mr. Romney — whose campaign recently said that they would not allow fact-checkers to dictate their campaign — found himself calling for fact-checkers.

“I understand that politics is politics but in the past, when you’ve had an ad which has been roundly pointed out to be wrong, you take it out and you correct it and you put something back on,” Mr. Romney said.

“He keeps running these things even though he knows they’re wrong and saying them in rallies even though he knows they’re wrong.”

Talk about projection. I’d even call it delusional projection. This is from the guy whose top pollster Neil Newhouse famously said “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” In fact, (via Americablog) a recent study by

the self-proclaimed non-partisan “Center for Media and Public Affairs” – which has been accused of conservative ties in the past – finds that media fact-checkers found Mitt Romney and the GOP lied twice as much as Democrats. It’s some coincidence that the study came out just a few weeks after the Republican party collectively decided that it’s time to start tearing down fact-checkers.

Note that (see above) in the midst of his many complaints, Romney even indulged in the somewhat delusional fantasy that voters would somehow suddenly wake up and recognize President Obama’s despicable treachery:

I think as time goes on, people will realize that those attacks are not accurate and we’ll be able to have a choice which is based upon each other’s accurate views for the future of country.

It’s difficult to see how that could happen as long as Romney himself keeps repeating lies about President Obama and shifting his own positions at the drop of a hat. But Romney apparently believes the voters’ epiphany will come during the debates, when he will magically be able to express himself clearly at last. From The National Journal:

“I think the president will not be able to continue to mischaracterize my pathway, and so I’ll continue to describe mine, he will describe his, and people will make a choice,” he said. “That’s the great thing about democracy. I’m not going to try to fool people into thinking he believes things he doesn’t. He’s trying to fool people into thinking that I think things that I don’t. And that ends at the debates.”

But he said that he couldn’t guarantee a debate win. “I can’t tell you winning and losing,” he said. “I mean, he’s president of the United States, he’s a very effective speaker. I hope I’ll be able to describe my positions in a way that is accurate and the people will make a choice as to which path they want to choose. I happen to believe that if we each do our job relatively well, I will be able to convince people that our pathway forward will be more prosperous and more secure and more confident if we choose the path I describe.”

I really think Mitt Romney is so anxious and stressed that he’s losing it–he seems completely unaware of how his own behavior looks to others. He has begun deluding himself in order to hide his failures from himself.  I don’t think he has ever faced such a difficult challenge in his life until now. He has always been the guy on top–the one who could get away with anything.

In high school, Romney could pin down a classmate and cut his hair without being charged with assault; he could lead an elderly professor into a glass door an not be disciplined, he could make fun of a classmate’s speech patterns and get away with it. He could even pose as a highway patrolman and stop a car on the highway as a “prank” with no repercussions whatsoever. As a young man, his father helped him obtain four draft deferrals so he could be protected from being sent to Vietnam like so many others his age. As an adult, he was a CEO whose every order must be obeyed and whose whims were catered to.

Finally at age 65, Romney is facing a real test of character, and I don’t think he’s up to it. He’s self-destructing in a very public way. It will be very interesting to watch his behavior in the debates and his other appearances during the last few weeks of the campaign.


Saturday Morning Reads

Good Morning!!

The political news this past week has been so strange and disturbing that I’ve begun to feel as if I’ve gone through the looking glass into some alternate reality. For years we’ve dealt with a press corps that refuses to deal in facts and will only report what one group of politicians say on the one hand, and contrast it with what another group of politicians say on the other hand, refusing to evaluate the truth value of what they are reporting.

But suddenly in 2012, we are dealing with a presidential candidate who seemingly has no scruples whatsoever. Mitt Romney lies blatantly and constantly, believing that he can get away with it in this media culture of false equivalency. And his running mate, Paul Ryan, also has a troubled relationship with the truth, although he isn’t quite as practiced a liar as Romney is.

James Fallows has been chronicling the way the media deals with what he calls the “post truth” era in politics. A few mainstream reporters have also begun trying to confront the blatant lying head on. Surprisingly, Norah O’Donnell, whom lefties have often mocked in the past, has been a standout. She successfully confronted Paul Ryan on blaming President Obama for spending cuts that Ryan voted for. And yesterday, she did it again with Romney surrogate Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

Tommy Christopher of Mediaite: Norah O’Donnell Teaches TV Journos Another Lesson With Rob Portman Stuffage

Former Chief White House Correspondent and newly-minted CBS This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell has been on fire lately, holding a veritable clinic on how to interview dishonest politicians that her mainstream media colleagues would do well to study. In the latest example of this, O’Donnell abandoned the current media fashion of ignoring lies (or presenting the truth as just another counter-argument), and pursued Sen. Rob Portman‘s (R-OH) disinformation on the recent violence in Libya like a Terminator with OCD.

What O’Donnell has been doing recently shouldn’t seem as remarkable as it is, but good old-fashioned feet to the fire followup is a sadly dying art, especially in television news. Interviewers either let lies and misinformation slip by because they need to hit all their prepared questions before time’s up, or because they’re numb to post-truth politics, or they present the facts in asterisk fashion before moving on to allow more lies to spew forth.

Portman completely twisted the timeline of events surrounding attacks on the embassy in Cairo and on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He actually claimed that Romney had made his statement the U.S. embassy in Cairo had issued a statement after the attacks saying “We apologize,” and that Romney’s Tuesday night statement had been made before the violent attacks in Libya. O’Donnell point out the falsehoods, and Portman attempted to continue lying. O’Donnell kept at it, and Portman came out looking the fool. You can watch the video at the link.

After describing O’Donnell’s performance, Christopher concludes:

O’Donnell’s performance here should be in network news training videos, because the only way to get these people to stop lying is to put up a lie stop sign. For awhile, of course, every interview would look like this one, with the subject being stuck on the one lie for the whole interview, but eventually, they’d have to either start fessing up when they’re busted, or (heaven forbid) just start telling the truth.

Clearly, Republicans have learned they can blatantly lie to the media a get away with it; now Romney and Ryan have raised the lying to a new level. Will other reporters begin to point it out, as O’Donnell has? For the sake of our democracy, I hope so.

In contrast, I urge you to read the full transcript of George Stephanopoulos’ interview with Mitt Romney yesterday. Stephanopoulos half-heartedly pushed back on some of Romney’s lies, Romney just ran right over Stephanopoulos’ weak protests. There are points in this interview where Romney makes long rambling statements that make absolutely no sense, and gets away with it!

Romney actually claims that the White House agreed with his his initial statement on Tuesday night, that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo had apologized to terrorists for a muslim-bashing internet video!

Here is the Embassy’s statement, posted on its website hours before any protests began.

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

Now Romney’s Tuesday night statement, released after it was known that there was an ongoing violent attack on the Consulate in Benghazi with one American death already reported.

“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” Romney said in the statement. “It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

And of course Romney doubled down the next day at his infamous smirk-filled Wednesday morning press conference, by attacking and lying about President Obama even after it was known that four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stephens, had been murdered. Now let’s look at how Romney tried to wriggle out of responsibility for his ugly remarks in his ABC interview:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, there has been quite a controversy in the last couple of days, since those killings in Libya, the chaos in the Middle East. And we heard some of that at your event today. President Obama has stepped in as well. He said your comments on Tuesday night displayed a tendency of yours to “shoot first and aim later.” What’s your response?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, early on, with the developments in Egypt, the embassy there put out a statement which stayed up on their website for, I think, 14-15 hours.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But before the protestors had breached the wall.

MITT ROMNEY: Well, it first went up before they breached the wall. But it stayed up. And they reiterated the statement after they breached the wall, even after some of the tragedy in Libya, the statement stayed up. And I thought the statement was inappropriate and pointed that out. And of course, the White House also thought it was inappropriate. But of course, now our attention is focused on the loss of life and the tragedy of having a remarkable ambassador and diplomatic members, have their lives taken. This is a great sadness and tragedy for America.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You said the statement showed a tendency to sympathize with those who waged the attacks. And what the statement seems to be is condemning the continuing efforts of individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims. Where do they show sympathy for those who waged the attacks? It was done before the attacks happened.

MITT ROMNEY: Well, the statement as I indicated stayed on the website for some 14-15 hours. The statement was reiterated after they had breached the sovereignty of the embassy.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Coupled with a condemnation–

MITT ROMNEY: Even– and even–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: –of the attacks, though.
MITT ROMNEY: And even after the killing in Libya. And by the way what I said was exactly the same conclusion the White House reached, which was that the statement was inappropriate. That’s why they backed away from it as well.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: They didn’t say that it was showing sympathy for the attackers.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I think the statement was an inappropriate statement. I think it was not directly applicable and appropriate for the setting. I think it should have been taken down. And apparently the White House felt the same way.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So no regrets?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I indicated, at the time, and continue to that what was said at that time was not appropriate, that they continued to have that. They reiterated the statement after the then breaching of the grounds. And I think that was wrong. And by the way my statement was the same point, which was that the White House said they distanced themself from the statement. I also thought it was an inappropriate statement. I made the statement– my point at the same time, I think, the White House did. So I think we said about the same thing there. I just thought the statement was wrong.

Is it just me, or does Mitt Romney sound like a gibbering idiot? Yet the Stephanopoulos allows him to spew his nonsense at will after a few weak efforts to point out fallacies. Seriously, does Romney expect people to believe this garbage?  Stephanopoulos should have said something like that–slightly more tactfully, of course, but emphatically.  Please read the entire disgusting thing, if you can stand it. And then cleanse your palate with this hilarious post by Sarah Proud and Tall at Balloon Juice.

Here are a few more links to get you started on your weekend reading:

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Judge throws out Walker’s union bargaining law.

LA Times: Christian charity, ex-con linked to film on Islam

BBC News: Seven dead as anti-Islam film protests widen

Danger Room: ‘Muslims’ Movie Producer Was Arrested for PCP, Snitched for Feds

Smoking Gun: Producer Of Anti-Islam Film Was Fed Snitch

Houston Chronicle: US scrambles to rush spies, drones to Libya

Don’t miss this one! Wayne Barrett at The Nation: Mitt Romney, Monsanto Man

Politico: Pennsylvania poll: Obama up by 11

ABC News: The Early Voting Factor: Mitt Better Hurry

ABC News: Jennifer Granholm, DNC Firebrand, ‘Cute’ on ’78 ‘Dating Game’

Now what are you reading and blogging about this fine Saturday morning?


Ohio Coal Miners Forced to Attend Romney Speech while Losing a Day’s Pay

Century Mine workers and families waiting in line to see Mitt Romney (photo by Scott McClosky)

Conservative values on display: Via Mother Jones, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported today that employees of the Century Mine in Ohio were told that attendance at an August 14 speech by Mitt Romney was “mandatory.” They couldn’t work that day because the mine shut down to accommodate the Romney campaign’s “safety and security” concerns.

The Pepper Pike company that owns the Century Mine told workers that attending the Aug. 14 Romney event would be both mandatory and unpaid, a top company official said Monday morning in a West Virginia radio interview.

A group of employees who feared they’d be fired if they didn’t attend the campaign rally in Beallsville, Ohio, complained about it to WWVA radio station talk show host David Blomquist. Blomquist discussed their beefs on the air Monday with Murray Energy Chief Financial Officer Rob Moore.

Moore told Blomquist that managers “communicated to our workforce that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend.” He said the company did not penalize no-shows.

Maybe not, but workers who were there said that managers called the roll and noted who attended and who did not.

Moore said he didn’t see anything negative in attending Romney’s campaign appearance with U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.

“We are talking about an event that was in the best interest of anyone that’s related to the coal industry in this area or the entire country,” Moore said in the radio interview.

Murray Energy is owned by Robert Murray, one of Romney’s high dollar donors. From Wikipedia:

Murray and his companies received national attention in August 2007 when six miners were trapped at the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah, of which Murray Energy independent operating subsidiary UtahAmerican Energy had been a part-owner for 12 months. Prior to the collapse, the Crandall Canyon Mine had received only 64 violations and $12,000 in fines, magnitudes similar to other mines of this size in the United States. He says that the safety violations were trivial and included violations such as not having enough toilet paper in the restroom.  However, some news agencies reported troubling violations at other of Murray’s operations; CNN, for example, found that seven of Murray’s 19 mines were underground and 4 of them had accident rates above the national average. CNN specifically cited Murray’s Illinois Galatia mine, which had almost 3,500 safety citations in the prior two and a half years

The Plain Dealer also noted that according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the coal mining industry has donated more than $900,000 to Republicans in the past two years.

According to John McCormick at Bloomberg Business Week, as Massachusetts governor, Romney denounced coal energy, saying “it kills people,” but now that Murray is funding his presidential campaign, Romney has changed his tune.

Romney, who as Massachusetts governor vowed to close an aging coal-fired power plant because it “kills people,” has embraced the coal industry in his presidential bid, with Murray proving a key ally. He touts coal development as central to his aim of achieving “North American energy independence” at the end of a second term in office…

He also highlights the issue as defining a major difference between himself and President Barack Obama. At an Aug. 14 speech at a mine in Ohio owned by a Murray subsidiary — and with the energy executive again joining him — Romney said Obama is “waging war on coal” through over-regulation and that the president has broken promises he made to the industry to aid its transition to newer, cleaner technologies.

“If you don’t believe in coal, if you don’t believe in energy independence for America, then say it,” Romney said of Obama.

Here’s a clip from Romney’s remarks on August 14.

After the Plain Dealer story appeared, Robert Murray defended the “no pay” day to a Plain Dealer reporter. Murray was in Tampa, naturally.

We caught up with Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray a little while ago, after he exchanged pleasantries and small talk with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine before breakfast was served. Murray is a substantial Republican donor. Asked about the claim that workers feared for their jobs if they didn’t attend, a claim that President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign has seized on, Murray said, “I think that is a lot of ridiculous nonsense.”

He added:

“What you people are suggesting is that I pay somebody to attend a political function that they attended voluntarily. You don’t pay somebody to attend a political function, and that is what you are advocating by making an issue out of this.

“I had 3,000 coal miners there – wives, children. They enjoyed it very much. It was a great day. And you people in the media are trying to make something negative out of it because some radio personality tried to make an issue out of it. Would you rather I paid people to attend a political event, because that is what you are saying. The answer is you don’t.

“My people have their own minds. They have their own desires. Nobody was ordered to attend. Nobody knows who attended and who didn’t. But I can tell you this: We had 3,000 people there, it was a great day, our people enjoyed it. Barack Obama is destroying their lives, their livelihoods. These people ae scared, and they came out in droves to see Mitt Romney and that’s what it was all about. A great day.”

Wow. Two “you people” references! That even tops Ann Romney’s defense of Mitt’s secret tax returns.