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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sport for the Republican Party-- demonizing the government’s ability to assist ordinary Americans

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Republicans Voted Repeatedly To Slash Disaster Relief Funds
By Zaid Jilani, October 30, 2012

The right has made a religion out of bashing the federal government’s ability to help ordinary people and make America prosperous. But “Frankenstorm” Hurricane Sandy shows that the ability for the government to have the funding it needs to tackle challenges like a major natural disaster is crucial.

Americans who live in the northeast of all political stripes are recovering for the storm’s impact, but it was one political party in particular who decided to repeatedly threaten the government’s ability to respond to hurricanes.

In March 2011, the House Republicans passed a continuing resolution that included a cut of $450.3 million to the NOAA as compared to President Obama’s requested budget. It also cut the National Weather Service by $126 million and reduced “funding for FEMA management by $24.3 million off of the FY2010 budget, and [reduced]  that appropriation by $783.3 million for FEMA state and local programs.” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) also famously threatened to delay disaster relief for Hurricane Irene until certain budget cuts were put in place.

The budget pressure resulting from wrangling over funding for FEMA has taken a real toll on the agency. Last August, FEMA cut back on tornado assistance to Alabama, for instance, which was hit by a spree of killer storms the previous April.

On “state and local levels, these are devastating, to-the-bone cuts that erode the basic capacity of communities to fulfill their basic responsibilities when disaster strikes,” wrote Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, in response to the cuts that disaster detection, preparedness, and recovery have faced over the past few years.

Demonizing the government’s ability to assist ordinary Americans has become a sport for the Republican Party in recent years. But as Americans on the east coast scramble to recover from Sandy, they should all remember that the government’s ability to respond to these sort of disasters should never be undermined by ideologues and extremists like those in the Republican Party.
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Mud slinging

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Comments posted to an article in today's on-line Olympian, Video fallout shows there’s no mud too dirty to sling, must have perfectly illustrated the mud slinging because the existing comments (70 some?) have been removed, and posting ability has been closed.  It's really too bad that people can't control themselves.

I'll lay odds that the right wingers were the worst offenders.
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Monday, October 29, 2012

Thanks to the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Well, It Seems Like She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named ...

... has finally gone off the deep end. And is bringing others with her. The latest: S0NDRA_KOVACIO: "In case sphincter misses it buried in his numerous personal and inappropriate comments... When a woman makes it explicitly clear that your inappropriate and relentless personal attention is extremely off putting and couldn't be any more undesired and she finds you repulsive yet you continuously insist on making everything personal in a clearly unpersonal place...well...there's a word for that. The irony of your ridiculous and inappropriate comments in light of all that is beyond demented. No. means. No. Let's make sure this is clear to you, sphincter...your inappropriate personal attention is not in any way shape or form wanted and I find you repulsive and vile. Stick to the topics and stop attempting to drag me personally into your life." Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/2012/10/26/2299097/ramtha-school-review-reveals-no.html#storylink=cpy There are over 500 comments here, and our favorite commenter jumped in the middle out of nowhere to make her usual outrageous claims. It was a lot like watching a train wreck -- you want to turn away, but ... http://www.theolympian.com/2012/10/26/2299097/ramtha-school-review-reveals-no.html

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Most Americans don't want important social policy to be decided by the religious beliefs of a few

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What the men of the GOP don't get about rape and abortion
By Mary Sanchez, October 26, 2012

If women are such a coveted voting demographic, why are so many male politicians hell bent on offending us? Senate candidate Richard Mourdock of Indiana is the latest office seeker to rankle when discussing rape, pregnancy and abortion. Mourdock's remarks on the subject didn't quite sink to idiocy of Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri, who baffled the scientifically literate by asserting that women's bodies can spontaneously block conception after "legitimate rape." Mourdock sought to make a different point but ended up mangling it all the same.

In a debate with two opponents who also oppose abortion, Mourdock attempted to explain his position that rape does not merit an exception to the ban he would enact on abortion. "Life is that gift from God," he said. "I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen." Anticipating a replay of the hullabaloo Akin kicked up weeks before, some Republicans repudiated Mourdock's gaffe, while others circled the wagons, complaining that his words were being absurdly twisted. The candidate later clarified his thoughts, noting in a press release, "God creates life, and that was my point." Sure, let's grant that Mourdock never meant to suggest that rape was endorsed by God; clearly, the "it" in his statement referred to the pregnancy. That doesn't mean that his words weren't troubling.

Note that Mourdock was advocating a specific and very intrusive public policy--a ban on abortion even in cases of rape--because each act of conception, no matter if a violent assault, is part of God's plan. Yes, it's a horrible crime. Yes, the pregnancy will likely extend and intensify the victim's suffering. But we must enshrine this martyr's burden in law because it is God's will that we do so.

Why do these men fumble so badly when discussing this most grim topic? Because they see no problem legislating a religious agenda. Usually, there's no cost in doing so and plenty to gain-until they wander into a minefield that makes their ignorance plain. These men don't understand what it's like to become pregnant from rape-what it's like for that to be a possibility-and they betray no desire to become enlightened.

Akin's distinction between "legitimate" rape and-what? pseudo-rape? - is fairly common in the Christian anti-abortion movement. It partakes of the old superstition that a woman can't get pregnant unless she enjoyed the sex act. It's a nonsensical belief, but one that conveniently undercuts the notion that abortion, though horrible, must sometimes be permitted. (Another right-wing candidate, Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, opined that "advances in science and technology" mean that abortions to save the life of a mother are no longer needed. That's news to the obstetrics field.) From a similar religious standpoint, Mourdock followed a more logical path. He believes that life begins at conception, and that life is the most sacred gift of the Creator; therefore, life created by violent means is just as sacred as a life conceived through wedded bliss, and that life must be protected starting at the very moment of the rape.

Even if you believe that life begins at conception, and that human zygotes, blastocysts, embryos and fetuses merit the same rights and consideration as you and me, you still might disagree with Mourdock. Most Americans do disagree, including many who accept their church's teaching that abortion is wrong.

One person's convictions, when they stem from faith, inevitably will conflict with another's. When notions of justice and compassion are brought into an issue like abortion, it only complicates the dilemma (compassion for whom, the mother or the child?).

It's fitting for candidates' religious beliefs to inform their positions on important political issues, and it's laudable when they make those beliefs known to voters.

They may discover, however, that most Americans don't want important social policy to be decided by the religious beliefs of a few. Rather than invoking God to validate their positions, or citing the pseudo-science that all too often backs up their faith, conservative politicians need to reflect.

Just what are they trying to legislate: morality, metaphysics or human rights? Just answering that question would cut through so much nonsense in these debates over abortion. And it would save a lot of male candidates from having to apologize to women voters later on.
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Sununu: Romney's bad company?

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The Company Romney Keeps
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Friday, October 26, 2012

An offer to Donald Trump

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Romney the not-Obama

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Romney v. Romney
By Tina Dupuy, October 26, 2012

There’s a myth in the right-wing-o-sphere that President Obama was never fully vetted. “We don’t know ANYTHING about this guy!” they’ll say, and in the same breath make fun of the fact he wrote two autobiographies. My answer to this is always: “He ran against a Clinton.” Any skeletons, dirt, deal killers or weaknesses were dug up, dragged out and made public during their exhaustive primary. In spite of all of this Obama still won the nomination of his party. He won against a Clinton; a distinction not too many people have.

You’ll still hear Obama detractors say they don’t know him. “The president still doesn’t have an agenda for a second term,” said Mitt Romney last week. The president has laid out his plan for a second term during his convention speech, stump speeches, interviews — there’s even a brochure. But the Right claims it’s Obama who’s being cryptic. Secretive. There’s a scandal-obsessed media — an entire industry ready to pounce on the slightest misstep of any notable but somehow they’ve all conspired to protect Obama from scrutiny.

Sure.

But as far as Romney goes, I really don’t know who this dude is: I’ve watched dozens of speeches, read hundreds of articles and sat through 23 national debates and I can’t tell you where Romney stands on any issue. And it’s not for lack of trying or just general contempt (which I suspect is the reason some on the right feign ignorance of Obama’s positions), it’s from too many answers to every question. I had assumed Romney was just going to sell himself as the opposite of Obama. I based this on his odd claim that he will repeal ObamaCare, the health care law modeled after the reforms Romney implemented while governor of Massachusetts. That seems arbitrary rather than reasoned policy, so I expected that would be the theme: Romney the not-Obama.

“The president has communicated weakness,” says Romney on Obama’s foreign policy. But then during the foreign policy debate-in-name-only Romney happily agreed with Obama on everything from the withdrawal date in Afghanistan to drone strikes. On Egypt: “I believe, as the president indicated, and said at the time that I supported his — his action there,” relayed Romney.

Romney has mainly been running against himself on YouTube. For every position he’s held, he’s also fervently held the opposite — effortlessly switching sans explanation. He’s a candidate who was for the Lilly Ledbetter Act, then against it, then neutral. He’s been both for and against minimum wage increases; for and against the auto bail out; for and against gun control; for and against the Bush Tax Cuts; for and against a woman’s right to choose; for and against more tax cuts; for and against Reagan.

I was asked to speak at a high school a few weeks ago and the civics students earnestly wanted to know where Romney stood on the issues and I really wanted to help them. One of the teachers asked if it’s more instructive to look at what Romney says when he thinks there’s no camera or when he knows there is one. I told him it might be the former. But I’m not sure. Mainly I just threw my hands up and said, “Look, I’m not a spokesperson for his campaign.”

You can’t go by what Romney has said because he’s said a lot of things … most of which contradict each other. You can’t go by his record because it’s even further from what he’s said (he never raised taxes while governor just tons of “fees”). What’s left is a debate over what you think he might mean versus what he really might mean. If you value evidence at all — this is “sketchy” territory. It’s all speculation and reading between the lies.

Yet everyone seems to have their theory as to who the real Romney is: He’s a moderate — he’s a hard-line right-winger — he’s a vulture capitalist — peacenik, etc. But who is he really? What would he actually do as president? He’s untethered from all his former statements (including ones made minutes ago) so it’s anyone’s guess.

Because Romney has been on all sides of every issue, he’s lined up perfectly with his opponent at one time or another. The only way Romney has been clear is by diluting his positions beyond recognition. Just by continuing to say inconsistent things (and plenty of them) the only thing we can all be certain of is he’s not Obama.

It’s an intellectual impossibility to vote for Romney because there’s no telling what he’s actually for. He really is just a not-Obama.
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Romney's tax plan: "not mathematically possible"

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Tax Policy Center in Spotlight for Its Romney Study
By Annie Lowrey, October 25, 2012

A small nonpartisan research center operated by professed “geeks” has found itself at the center of a rancorous $5 trillion debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

No white paper or policy manifesto put out during the presidential campaign has proved more controversial than an August study by the Washington-based Tax Policy Center, a respected nonprofit that issues studiously detailed tax analyses.

That study found, in short, that Mr. Romney could not keep all of the promises he had made on individual tax reform: including cutting marginal tax rates by 20 percent, keeping protections for investment income, not widening the deficit and not increasing the tax burden on the poor or middle class. It concluded that Mr. Romney’s plan, on its face, would cut taxes for rich families and raise them for everyone else.

The detailed paper proved kindling for a political firestorm. Mr. Romney criticized the center as performing a “garbage-in, garbage-out” analysis and his campaign accused it of partisan bias. The Obama campaign used the center’s numbers to argue that Mr. Romney had proposed a $5 trillion tax cut. Economists jumped on the bandwagon too, flinging analyses back and forth and picking apart the projections and assumptions in the report.

At the Tax Policy Center itself, responses ranged from irritation at the partisan nature of some attacks to incredulity over the political hysteria. “There was this résumé-hunting, White-House-visitor-log” searching feel to the response, said the center’s director, Donald Marron, a former Bush administration economist. “That was unanticipated,” he added dryly.

In many ways the report did just what the center was created to do: inject some solid numbers into a shifty, accusatory, raucous political debate. The decade-old center — a joint project of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, two nonpartisan grandes dames of the Washington world — was founded precisely to “fill that niche,” Mr. Marron said.

“A lot of tax policy discussions are — how to describe them? — people yelling at each other,” he said. “We believe that good information leads to better policy discussions and ultimately better policy outcomes.”

The center’s claim to provide reliable, nonpartisan information comes in part from its staff makeup. It has about four dozen affiliated staff members and scholars — most are economists, several are considered top experts in their fields, and a number have experience in either Republican or Democratic administrations.

It also is derived by virtue of its ownership of a highly sophisticated tax modeling system, one that took about two years to build and has a small coterie of specialists to tend it. The model resembles those used by government offices to forecast the effect of changes to the tax code, and it relies on about 150,000 anonymous tax returns and a wealth of data on pensions, education, consumer expenditures and economic growth.

“They’re one of the few groups that have this very big, very accurate model,” said Martin A. Sullivan, the chief economist and a contributing editor at Tax Analysts, a specialty publisher. “What they’re doing is just making the best computations available” for others to interpret, he said.

That includes so-called distributional analyses that show how changes to the tax code would change the relative burden on high-income and low-income families — a dry tax topic yet one of the most politically potent ones of the campaign, given the broader debate about tax fairness and inequality.

The analysis of the Romney proposal has proved highly controversial not just among politicians, but also among some economists.

Researchers including Martin Feldstein of Harvard and Harvey S. Rosen of Princeton have argued that Mr. Romney’s tax math might work if he raised taxes on families making more than $100,000 a year — not $200,000 to $250,000 a year, as he currently promises — or if his plan gave a strong jolt to economic growth.
“Reasonable economists disagree on” the growth effects of plans like Mr. Romney’s, said Alan J. Auerbach, a tax expert at the University of California, Berkeley, who added that he did not see the math working out as currently described. “It matters a lot what kind of reductions you’re making or how you’re paying for tax cuts.”

Others have argued that the Tax Policy Center filled in too many of the holes in Mr. Romney’s light-on-detail proposal — making a full analysis impossible and skewing the center’s paper’s results.

“It is not an analysis of Governor Romney’s plan,” said Scott A. Hodge, the president of the Tax Foundation. a nonprofit research group also based in Washington.

“It has been, I think, mislabeled as such and misinterpreted as such. We don’t think there are enough details to analyze,” he said, adding that he believed that it was possible to devise a distributionally neutral, revenue neutral tax reform that cut rates in the way Mr. Romney described.

The Tax Policy Center said that it had sought as many details as possible from the Romney campaign. (Its economists said it has a cordial back-and-forth with the economic policy teams in both campaigns, as it did in 2008.) Given the numbers available, it had tried to perform the analysis in the most generous way possible, and still did not see how Mr. Romney’s rate cuts could square with his other goals.

“We wrote a technical, accurate paper given the available information,” said William G. Gale of the Brookings Institution, one of the paper’s main authors, in a recent interview. “The criticism that you can’t analyze the Romney tax plan because there isn’t one? That hasn’t stopped other economists from analyzing its growth effects. I like to have substantive discussions about tax policy. The uproar about the paper has not been substantive.”

Many economists across the political spectrum have said they found the report’s conclusions convincing, like Alan D. Viard, a tax expert at the right-of-center American Enterprise Institute.

Mr. Sullivan of Tax Analysts said: “I like tax reform. I want to broaden the base. It’s something I’ve devoted my life to. And I welcome Governor Romney and the Republicans’ strong push, but the plan doesn’t work out. It’s not mathematically possible.” 
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Trump the Irrelevant

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Trump’s ‘big’ announcement: $5 million in exchange for Obama’s college records
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Obama campaign: Romney bears ‘some responsibility’ for Trump stunt
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Donald Trump's 'announcement?' One big Fffftttttzzzzzz
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Donald Trump Announcement Not 'Devastating'; Makes Trumpster Look Like A Fool
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OH, DONNY! Donald Trump's Most Absurd WTF Moments (LIST)
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Donald Trump’s ‘Announcement’ Trumps His Relevancy
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"@AnnCoulter You disgust me" -- that's for sure!

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Ann Coulter's Barack Obama "Retard" Comment Draws Fire After Presidential Debate
By Peter Gicas, October 23, 2012

In the wake of conservative pundit Ann Coulter's tweet , "I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard," following Monday night's presidential debate, several famous faces have voiced their feelings on such a remark and Coulter.

"@AnnCoulter You disgust me," tweeted Sophia Bush. "That man is the president of this country. (& I'm sure all of the disabled children in America appreciate you.)"

Comedian Patton Oswalt also responded, posting , "Ann Coulter died of prostate cancer in 2002. Her Twitter account's a sentient emu skeleton with a swatch of eyelid skin stretched over it." He later added : "If Ann Coulter's calling the President a 'retard' it means he won/is going to win. She's our un-pettable Punxsutawney Phil."

Holly Robinson Peete also spoke up, writing : "As a mom of a son with autism the words Retard or retarded are like nails on a chalkboard. A lot of people say it benignly esp kids...So when a grown woman deliberately uses it publicly over and over you just have to wonder if there is a chip missing ya know?"

Singer Michelle Branch tweeted as well, saying, "I don't care who you are. The "R" word is so absolutely disgusting ," and Oscar winner Marlee Matlin noted , "Despite our differences, it's NOT ok to use the "R" word. Consider millions of developmentally challenged Americans. It's just UNBELIEVABLE."

Glee star Lauren Potter, who, like her character on the hit FOX show, also has Down Syndrome, tweeted, "Thank you to everyone who has taken a stand against the R word tonight!"

Even Coulter's fellow conservative commentator, Michelle Malkin, expressed outrage, tweeting, "What a stupid, shallow thing to say, Ann."

Meanwhile, the Special Olympics told E! News: "We are disappointed in her [Coulter] regular use of the word despite our constituents regular appeals to her for compassion, and welcome an open invitation for her to be involved in an educational meeting with our athletes to understand the demeaning use of the R-word in everday speech."

And the R-word campaign, which encourages people to stop using the word "retarded," tweeted , "It's very disappointing that Ann Coulter continues to choose hateful and disrespectful language in her discourse."
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Romney-- what a reasonable guy! [sarcasm off]

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2012: Year of the Low Information Voter
By Jan Ting, October 23, 2012

In an exciting and issues-rich election year, polls find us evenly divided between President Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney.  Swing states are being subjected to an unprecedented assault of political advertising, enabled by the Supreme Court’s opinion in Citizens United treating unlimited political spending as the equivalent of free speech.

To whom is all this advertising directed, since nearly all of us have already made up our minds?  Is anyone reading this, for example, likely to change his or her vote because of a TV commercial?

All that expensive advertising is directed at the very small number of voters whose votes are susceptible to being changed by advertising.  Who are those voters?  They are voters who haven’t been paying attention to the campaign, don’t know much about the issues or the candidates, but who will cast a vote anyway.  This plays to the advantage of Mitt Romney, who is trying to recast himself as a reasonable moderate, after declaring himself “severely conservative” throughout the primary campaign.

Although he repeatedly pledged to repeal all of Obamacare, Romney now declares his intention to preserve all the popular parts of Obamacare, and get rid of only the bad parts.  Although he condemned the entire Dodd-Frank law placing restrictions on Wall Street, he now says he will keep the reasonable parts of that law, too.  What a reasonable guy!

Having signed the Republican pledge to never, ever raise taxes by even a penny, Romney promised during the primary campaign that he would reject a deficit-cutting deal that cut spending by $10 for every $1 in new taxes.  But now he criticizes President Obama for failing to enact the proposals of the Simpson-Bowles commission on the deficit, which called for big spending cuts together with big tax increases.  New, more reasonable Romney can ignore Paul Ryan’s vote, as a member of the commission, against the proposals.

As top Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom predicted in response to a question whether Romney had tacked too far to the right to re-position himself as a moderate in the general election, “I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign.   Everything changes.   It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch.  You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”

That turns out to be a good strategy to reach the undecided low-information voter.  And as a result, the race is a dead heat in both the popular vote and the more important Electoral College.

I hope I’m wrong, but if the outcome turns out to be as close as the polls are predicting, we can expect a re-play of the 2000 Florida recount battle, but on a larger scale, in multiple states, that could last as long, or even longer than the 2000 litigation.

Both campaigns have studied and learned from what happened in 2000.  Both campaigns have lawyers ready in every swing state to file lawsuits demanding recounts and citing voting irregularities if a close vote turns against them.

And don’t think this could have been avoided by switching to a simple popular vote to decide the presidency.  In a close election, that would trigger election challenges in every jurisdiction where any allegation of voting irregularity could be made, including absentee, military and overseas voting.  That could mean high-stakes lawsuits in all 50 states and even the District of Columbia!

So we should be grateful to still have the Electoral College written into the Constitution by the founding fathers.  And I’m sure all the candidates agree, whatever the result, we should be grateful this long political campaign is finally coming to an end!
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Women are in the driver's seat

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Voting is a right, not a crime

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Anonymous98507 says:

First, this "private family foundation" is a lily-livered piece of garbage that hides behind anonymity rather than standing up to be counted!  

Second, this violates Clear Channel's policy?  Then why did they put the billboards up in the first place?  Didn't they read the content?  Sounds like the almighty dollar covered their eyes!

Third, 10 donated billboards aren't enough to make up for the sins of the 30 original billboards.  It should have been an equal number placed in the same locations as the offending billboards.
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Ohio voter fraud billboards to come down, sponsor stays unnamed
By Kim Palmer, October 21, 2012

More than 140 billboards in Ohio and Wisconsin warning of the criminal consequences of voter fraud will be taken down starting on Monday after the sponsor chose to remove them rather than reveal its identity, the billboard owner said.

 The billboards, which show a large judge's gavel and read "Voter Fraud is a felony - up to 3 ½ years and a $10,000 fine," went up primarily in low-income minority neighborhoods in early October, just weeks before the November 6 elections, and were immediately criticized by voter rights groups as an attempt to intimidate minority voters.

 The sponsor was not identified on the billboards owned by Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc. The company said this was a violation of its policy against anonymous political ads.

 After discussions, the sponsor, whom Clear Channel Outdoor has called a "private family foundation" but declined to name, "thought the best solution was to take the boards down, so we are in the process of removing them," the company said in a statement.

 Crews on Monday will begin taking down 30 billboards in Cleveland, 30 in Columbus and 85 in Milwaukee, Jim Cullinan, vice president of corporate communications for Clear Channel Outdoor, told Reuters.

 Cleveland City Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland, one of the most vocal critics of the billboards, told Reuters on Sunday: "Needless to say I'm happy they will be taken down but I want to know who was behind this in the first place."

 In response to the outcry, Clear Channel Outdoor donated 10 billboards around the Cleveland area that read "Voting Is a Right. Not a Crime!"
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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Moan and groan

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nope-- Romney is staying the course on immigration

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Has Romney moved to the center on immigration?
By Liz Goodwin, October 19, 2012

As Mitt Romney continues to climb in the polls, some campaign watchers are crediting his momentum to a shift to the center on key issues. Former President Bill Clinton even joked about the supposed move last week at a Democratic rally for President Barack Obama in Las Vegas.

"I thought, 'Wow, here's old Moderate Mitt,'" Clinton said, referencing Romney's performance in the first presidential debate, where the former governor of Massachusetts said he was against tax cuts for the wealthy. "'Where ya been, boy?'"

On Thursday, two days after the second presidential debate, the Associated Press chimed in, writing that Romney has moved to the center on a range of issues in a bid to win over on-the-fence voters in swing states. (Just last February, while battling through a hard-fought Republican primary, Romney described himself as a "severely conservative" politician.) And it noted the same areas in which other media outlets and pundits have said the shift is taking place: taxes, women's issues—and immigration.

But there's a hole in the argument: Immigration stakeholders on both the right and left say they have yet to see "Moderate Mitt" appear on this particular issue. In fact, Romney's immigration policies are regarded as some of the most conservative of the last half-dozen presidential cycles.

"If you're someone who favors robust enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, Romney is the best presidential candidate that you've had in decades," Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies told Yahoo News. (The center is a conservative think tank that advocates for reduced legal immigration and an end to illegal immigration.) "I would say that he has generally not etch-a-sketched [on the issue]," Camarota added.

Frank Sharry, the executive director of the liberal immigrant advocacy group America's Voice, tweeted after the second debate that Romney is "the most anti-immigrant candidate ever."

While Romney has shifted slightly away from the days of the primary—when he touted the endorsement of Kris Kobach, who drafted Arizona's law targeting illegal immigrants, and recalled firing "illegals" who had worked in his yard, through a contractor, in Belmont, Mass.—his comments on immigration during the town hall debate differed more in tone than substance.

On Tuesday night, Americans heard the candidates discuss their visions for the country's immigration system for the first time when an undecided voter asked what Romney would do "with immigrants without their green cards that are currently living here as productive members of society."

Romney first responded by slamming President Obama for failing to keep his promise to pass his version of immigration reform, which would have included a path to citizenship for many of the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants. The governor also praised America as a "nation of immigrants" and said he wants to increase high-skilled legal immigration.

But Romney went on to espouse views seen as anathema to earlier Republican presidential candidates, who were eager not to alienate Hispanic voters by seeming unwilling to even consider a path to citizenship.

"There are 4 million people who are waiting in line to get here legally. Those who've come here illegally take their place. So I will not grant amnesty to those who have come here illegally," Romney said, a position he also held in the primary.

The GOP challenger also defended his "self-deportation" policy that he introduced in the primary. It proposes that many of the nation's illegal immigrants will voluntarily leave the country if employers are forced to check immigration status, making mass deportations unnecessary. (At the debate, Obama characterized Romney's self-deportation policy as "making life so miserable on folks that they'll leave.")

The sole point that Romney appeared to drift center-ward on immigration turned out to be a case of misinterpreted wording. Romney said that military service should be "one way" for young illegal immigrants who were brought to the country by their parents to gain legal residency. This suggested that Romney was open to creating more routes to legal residency for these young people, such as attending college.

Such a position would put Romney closer in line with the Democrat-backed Dream Act, which would give citizenship to people under 30 who join the military or attend college, and which Romney has vowed to veto.

But a Romney aide told Yahoo News that the candidate still thinks military service should be the only route to permanent residency.

Romney's decision to stay the course on immigration is an interesting one, as top Republicans—including Romney—have warned that the party is "doomed" if it cannot attract the fast-growing demographic of Hispanic voters, who will make up 9 percent of the electorate this year.

The Romney campaign is betting, then, that his economic message will be more important to this block of voters than its immigration one. Hispanic voters are by no means a homogenous or single-issue group, and polls show that, like most voters, they care most about the economy and jobs, with immigration trailing behind.

But Republican strategists stress that a hostile-sounding tone on immigration issues can alienate many Latino voters, no matter the candidate's economic platform. And a Latino Decisions poll shows that more than half of all Hispanic voters know at least one person who is undocumented, meaning the issue is personal.

The most recent Pew Hispanic Center poll has Romney picking up just 21 percent of the Hispanic vote, compared with 69 percent for Obama. (Romney is polling much better among Latinos in the swing state of Florida, however, where a strong Cuban-American presence tends to boost Republican candidates.)

George W. Bush picked up more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, while John McCain slipped to 31 percent in 2008. The downward trend is not good news for the GOP. But some conservatives argue that embracing legalization measures will not necessarily help Republicans reverse the downward slide. The New York Times' Ross Douthat writes that "a party's overall brand matters more than its stance on a single issue", and that embracing restrictionist policies doesn't mean forfeiting the Hispanic vote.

Romney seems willing to break from tradition. Republican President Ronald Reagan signed the first immigration reform bill in 1986, offering legalization to nearly 3 million people in the country. George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and John McCain—as well as their Democratic rivals—all supported legalization measures to some degree either while running for president or in office. Bob Dole, however, ran on a platform in 1996 that would have allowed public schools to deny entrance to children who couldn't prove their citizenship. (Dole voted for Reagan's legalization 10 years earlier.)

Matt Barreto, a pollster with Latino Decisions and a political science professor at the University of Washington, said he thinks Romney's performance in the debate is unlikely to gain him any ground with Latino voters.

"I thought with his answers on immigration he continued to dig himself into a hole," Baretto said. "He had a chance there to perhaps make some overtures." Barreto added that Romney's use of the phrase "undocumented illegals" to refer to young illegal immigrants "certainly isn't going to help him."
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If you're a victim, then Romney is your man

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Abortion: Why I’m Against Exceptions for Rape and Incest
By Tina Dupuy, October 19, 2012

Politicians hone the art of the non-answer. The stock—often flippant—thing they say when asked a direct question; their go-to platitudes. For example: “What would you do about the war in Afghanistan?” Answer: “Listen to the commanders on the ground.” Translation: I wouldn't DO anything. Another fave is saying, “I’d leave it up to the states.” It’s a way to not give your opinion and display a basic knowledge of civics. Slavery, segregation and later miscegenation were all state laws—but the “up to the states” verbal tic still sounds reasonable when said by a name on a yard sign.

But perhaps the worst, due to its lack of challenge in the stenographic media, is the answer on any abortion question: “I’m against it except for instances of rape, incest or the life of the mother.”

This (at least sometimes) is Mitt Romney’s stance on abortion. It wasn't his running mate, Paul Ryan’s, until he joined the ticket. But Romney, after being staunchly pro-choice disclosing his family friend, Ann Keenan, died of an illegal abortion in 1963, now says he’d like to see it illegal once again. Except, he says, for women who are victims.

Romney and victims: It’s becoming a theme. If you worked at one of the companies Romney took over at Bain, Texas Governor Rick Perry called you a victim of “vulture capitalism.” Romney assesses a whopping “47 percent of Americans see themselves as victims” and the only way to get a medical procedure legally in Romney’s America is, yes, to be a victim.

What sounds like a not-so-extreme position on abortion rights is actually much worse than an outright ban.

If there are exceptions for ending a pregnancy requiring the recipient prove she was raped, two things happen: 1) Just as with total criminalization—abortion goes back underground. 2) Rape is trivialized.

The accusation of rape has always been plagued by the counter-accusation of an ulterior motive. “She’s trying to destroy a good man.” “It’s just the remorse talking!” “This is blackmail.”

Or as Paul Ryan-endorsed Wisconsin State Rep. Roger Rivard put it last week, “Some girls rape so easily.”

To put this into perspective, think of what Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's victims had to endure to get justice: Sports fans rioted on campus after they came forward.

In order to terminate a pregnancy women who are raped will have to defend themselves against yet another charge: She just wants to get an abortion.

An exception for rape means not only ending legal abortions, it means profoundly changing rape.

As with anything, if abortion moves out of the light, it will find its place in the shadows, and then we’re back to where Mitt Romney’s family friend, Ann Keenan, found herself in 1963: bleeding to death from a botched back alley abortion.

Abortion rates don’t change with legality. A 2007 study by the World Health Organization found the same number of women who want abortions get abortions regardless of whether or not they’re legal. What changes is the numbers of women who die of unsafe procedures. In fact, the study noted, in Ethiopia abortion was completely illegal and also the second leading cause of death among women in that country. If you want to save lives—you want legal abortions, sex education and widely available birth control.

This rape clause is horrible public policy. This is not anything remotely resembling how a free country functions. This is not valuing life. It’s valuing easy answers to viscerally complicated issues.

If you morally disagree with abortion, then I suggest you don’t get one. But to nationalize women, to make their bodies legally akin to public incubators, is not the kind of country we want to live in.

It’s a country we should keep in our rearview. Abortion needs to stay legal, and most importantly—private.
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Romney won't talk about half of the country

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Lack of answer did reveal Romney's stance on equality
By Jason Stanford, October 19, 2012

Mitt Romney launched a memorable meme when he said he had "binders full of women," but his amusing turn of phrase shined a light on a horrible answer and a big problem. He doesn't support equal pay for women, and, gosh, he's trying so hard not to admit it. When it comes to women's issues, Barack Obama is only too happy to force Romney into contortions and distortions to change the subject.

Let's go back to the debate exchange:

"Governor Romney, pay equity for women?" asked Candy Crowley.

In a perfect world, Romney would have answered the question, but instead, Mitt happened.

"An important topic," began Romney, "and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.

"And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, 'How come all the people for these jobs are-are all men.' They said, 'Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.' And I said, 'Well, gosh, can't we — can't we find some-some women that are also qualified?'"

Instead of taking a position on whether women should be paid as much as men — and really, is that so difficult? — Romney accidentally revealed two things: 1) He had no women in his inner circle, and 2) the men in his inner circle imagined a world in which no women in Massachusetts were qualified to serve in his cabinet. Since when did politics in Massachusetts become a sexist backwater? Even George W. Bush had Karen Hughes in his inner circle as Texas governor a decade earlier.

What Romney said next has since been proven as balderdash. He never instigated the creation of binders full of resumes of qualified women (a women's group did that during the 2002 campaign), and the number of women in high-level positions declined during Romney's term as governor.

At this point in Romney's decline into historical revisionism, we still don't know where he stands on pay equity for women. But that's not important, Romney says, because he knows what the ladies really want: To be with their children.

"I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school," said Romney. "She said, 'I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school.' So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you."

"If you're going to have women in the workplace"? It's a wonder there's a gender gap at all.

Romney ran out the clock on his answer by pivoting to job growth without ever saying whether he thinks women are worth as much as men in the workplace, something Obama was only too happy to point out.

"I just want to point out that when Gov. Romney's campaign was asked about the Lilly Ledbetter bill, whether he supported it? He said, 'I'll get back to you.' And that's not the kind of advocacy that women need in any economy," said Obama.

In the spin room after the debate, Romney's surrogates tried to say that it didn't matter whether Romney supported the Lilly Ledbetter Act, but Ed Gillespie gave new meaning to the room's name when he said that Romney didn't support the equal pay law in 2009 but that he wouldn't oppose it as president.

You can't get elected president if you need to pivot away from talking about half of the country. When women make up half our workforce, it's really hard to imagine a politician who's not eager to tell them that they deserve to make as much as men, unless, of course, that's not what Romney believes.
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SLC Tribune: Romney is the GOP "shape-shifting nominee"

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Utah Newspaper Endorsement Slams Mitt Romney
By ABBY D. PHILLIP, Oct. 19, 2012
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"Romnesia"-- fortunately Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions!

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Obama says his rival suffers from 'Romnesia'
By Christi Parsons and Seema Mehta, October 19, 2012

Pressing his case that his Republican challenger is untrustworthy, President Obama diagnosed him with a case of "Romnesia" on Friday but pledged to stop it from spreading by reminding voters of Mitt Romney's past conservative positions.

The jocular argument had a serious intent: convincing voters in this key state — particularly women — that Romney's effort to move from the positions he took in the GOP primaries to those with appeal to the more moderate general election audience represented "backtracking and sidestepping."

"If you come down with a case of 'Romnesia' and you can't seem to remember the policies that are still on your website," Obama said, "here's the good news.... We can fix you up! We've got a cure!"

The Romney campaign fired back quickly that Americans had perfect recall of the last four years and of the economic hardship that Republicans blame on the president.

"Have you been watching the Obama campaign lately? It's absolutely remarkable," Romney said shortly after taking the stage Friday night at a huge rally in Daytona Beach, Fla. "They have no agenda for the future, no agenda for America, no agenda for a second term. It's a good thing they won't have a second term. They've been reduced to petty attacks and silly word games. Just watch it."

Calling Obama's effort the "incredible shrinking campaign," he added: "This is a big country with big opportunities and great challenges, and they keep talking about smaller and smaller things."

The back-and-forth came as the two candidates prepared to retreat over the weekend for two days of preparation for their final debate, scheduled Monday night in Boca Raton, Fla. The subject will be foreign policy, and each candidate will be drawing a contrast in substance and in style.

Since his weak performance in the first debate, Obama has taken to heart the need to contrast himself with Romney. The "Romnesia" riff he debuted Friday was a device for pointing out differences to a crowd of suburban women he was trying to fire up for election day. He ran through a laundry list of conservative positions from which, he said, Romney was trying to escape.

Romney is also drawing contrasts in Virginia, where, as in a host of battleground states, the race is a statistical tie. In a state heavy with veterans and defense contractors, Romney has been hitting hard on the Pentagon cuts scheduled to set in at the end of the year if Republicans and Democrats in Congress cannot agree on a plan to avert them.

His ads tie Obama to the pending reductions, put in place as part of a bipartisan agreement. Obama aides this week were floating the possibility that the president would veto legislation to block the automatic cuts if Republicans refused to raise taxes on the wealthy to help keep deficit spending in check.

Responding to the "Romnesia" joke, Romney supporters pivoted straight back to their economic argument — and to the potential defense cuts.

"What is really frightening is that we know a second term for President Obama will bring devastating defense cuts that will cost Virginia over 130,000 jobs, more burdensome regulations, and the biggest tax increase in history on our small businesses and families," said Virginia state Delegate Barbara Comstock, a senior advisor to Romney.

At this point in the campaign, the two sides are shifting into voter-turnout mode, trying to get volunteers and supporters out to vote early — hopefully with their friends and neighbors in tow. The ground game is already in high gear; Obama's campaign has 60 offices in Virginia, while Romney's campaign has 30.

The point of Obama's visit Friday was to drive up the excitement. At George Mason University, the president reminded listeners that Romney has opposed the Lilly Ledbetter law, which makes it easier to sue for pay inequality, and has promised to rescind Obama's 2010 healthcare law and other administration initiatives.

"Now, anybody who thinks that this election doesn't matter, know this: My opponent has promised to repeal all of the things we just talked about as soon as he takes office — says he'd do it on Day One," Obama said. "We know full well that if he gets the chance, he'll rubber-stamp the agenda of this Republican Congress the second he takes office. Virginia, we can't give him that chance."

Romney has pledged to take away federal funding for Planned Parenthood and supports the overturning of the Roe vs. Wade decision that made abortion legal. He also opposes the Obama healthcare overhaul's requirement that insurance companies provide contraceptive coverage.
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Friday, October 19, 2012

No, Mr. Romney, the President doesn't control the price of gasoline

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No president can dictate the market price of oil
By The Philadelphia Inquirer
The following editorial appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday, Oct. 19:
Again and again, Americans have been given tutorials on the price of gasoline, but the lessons don't stick because self-serving politicians keep distorting the facts.
So, once again, class, repeat after me: The president of the United States does not determine the pump price of gasoline.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney suggested in Tuesday night's debate that had President Obama done more to tap the oil in this country, gas prices wouldn't be around $4 a gallon. But Canada certainly isn't dependent on any other country for its oil, and gasoline prices have gone up there, too.
People need to understand that the pump price of gas is determined by the price of oil on the world market, which no president can really influence.
In fact, U.S. crude oil production is expected to increase 12 percent this year and an additional 8 percent next year, but America's relatively small amount of crude is sold into the massive world oil market, where the demand for the fuel has increased oil's price by about 7 percent. Thus the nearly four bucks per gallon being paid for gas in this country.
Meanwhile, the U.S. refineries handling more oil are raking in the cash. HollyFrontier Corp., which owns refineries in Oklahoma and Kansas, saw its second-quarter net income grow 149 percent compared with a year ago, to $502 million. Suffice it to say, the oil business is very complex. And politicians shouldn't use that complexity to try to snooker voters.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/10/19/171991/no-president-can-dictate-the-market.html#storylink=cpy
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Empty binder, empty mind?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What more can we say?

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Romney-- gone wrong

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The feedback loop catches up with Romney
By Jonathan Bernstein, October 16, 2012

This was the night in which the conservative closed information feedback loop and its close cousin, lazy mendacity, caught up with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney — in a big way.

The topic was Libya. It’s an issue that should work well for the challenger; surely at the very least, Barack Obama’s administration had a tragedy on its hands, one that might have been preventable, and one that most seem to think Obama and his administration have handled poorly after the fact. There would seem to be a variety of attacks available. Was Obama’s Libya intervention a mistake? Was there something about the Libya attacks that undermined Obama’s claim of policy competency? Obama’s handling of the Arab Spring? Romney had to think himself lucky when the only foreign policy question of the night was on this topic, teed up perfectly for him.

Yet Romney drifted first to an attack on Obama for going to a fundraiser, and then wandered around the Middle East to little effect, then finished his first pass at the question with the mythical “apology tour” and his recent empty rhetoric about an “unraveling” policy.

And then it got worse. Obama lectured Romney for daring to accuse him of playing politics with the issue. The truth is, he supplied an opening for Romney; a candidate who knew what he was talking about could have pointed out that of course in the United States, these things become political issues.

Instead, Romney ignored that part of it, and clung to — and repeated — a conservative talking point about just exactly when Obama had called the attacks “terrorism,” a talking point that has the twin advantages of being both pointless and factually incorrect.

As Candy Crowley broke in and confirmed. Or at least the factually incorrect part of it. The exchange, as a whole, just seemed awful for the challenger.

The question is: Why did this portion of the debate go wrong for Romney?

Romney has been doing this for, literally, years now. His main platform on foreign policy, after all, is to reject an “apology tour” that never happened and that people have been correcting him on for years. He’s come up with the new one, “unraveling,” recently, but hasn't bothered to fill in anything — at all — about what is unraveling, or how. Nor is it just foreign policy. His tax plan doesn't come close to adding up, and his jobs plan doesn't, either. He repeats flat-out lies again and again, no matter how many times they've been shot down. As I said, lazy mendacity — even where the facts would do well for him, as in trillion-dollar deficits, he chooses instead to constantly claim that Obama doubled the deficit, which isn't true. Sure, every candidate exaggerates and stretches and spins, but Romney’s complete apparent indifference to bother to get things right is unusual.

The question is: Why shouldn't he do it? Republican-aligned media surely aren't going to call him on it. Indeed, within the GOP political loop, there’s no one who is even going to realize that they have a basic factual thing wrong; that’s what happens when you convince yourself that the neutral press is out to get you, and you've trained your supporters to only pay attention to what they hear on Fox News and the Rush Limbaugh program, so you had better stay tuned to them yourself or else you won’t be able to talk the way you need to. Of course, that’s how a candidate winds up insulting half of America, because that's what high-level party donors expect to hear.

And as I've argued, that’s also how a campaign winds up with lazy mendacity; if all it cares about is a thoroughly uncritical press, then why should it bother to back up assertions that will never, within the loop, be challenged?

Now: I have no idea what effect, if any, tonight’s debate will have on undecided voters (which, to be sure, depends to a great deal on how the press scores it, which clips get replayed, which headlines are deployed). So I don’t want to claim that Romney’s problems with the Libya question will “matter” in that sense. But I’ll say what I always say about it: The closed information loop leaves conservatives vulnerable, and it makes it very difficult for them to govern effectively when they are in office. I think anyone watching tonight saw why.
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