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How Political is Religion These Days? on The Middle Ground - Aug 22,2012

How Political is Religion These Days? on The Middle Ground - Aug 22,2012 | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Religion is a political force with real impact on elections. Recently the Catholic Church released a short video suggesting that Catholics should vote for candidates with certain views on marriage and faith, otherwise God will judge them. Is this the role we want religion to play in 21st century America? What about abroad?


Join us for The Middle Ground

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An Unserious Man

An Unserious Man | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Excerpt from column by PAUL KRUGMAN, NY Times


Let’s talk about what’s actually in the Ryan plan, and let’s distinguish in particular between actual, specific policy proposals and unsupported assertions. To focus things a bit more, let’s talk — as most budget discussions do — about what’s supposed to happen over the next 10 years.


On the tax side, Mr. Ryan proposes big cuts in tax rates on top income brackets and corporations. He has tried to dodge the normal process in which tax proposals are “scored” by independent auditors, but the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math, and the revenue loss from these cuts comes to $4.3 trillion over the next decade.


On the spending side, Mr. Ryan proposes huge cuts in Medicaid, turning it over to the states while sharply reducing funding relative to projections under current policy. That saves around $800 billion. He proposes similar harsh cuts in food stamps, saving a further $130 billion or so, plus a grab-bag of other cuts, such as reduced aid to college students. Let’s be generous and say that all these cuts would save $1 trillion.


On top of this, Mr. Ryan includes the $716 billion in Medicare savings that are part of Obamacare, even though he wants to scrap everything else in that act. Despite this, Mr. Ryan has now joined Mr. Romney in denouncing President Obama for “cutting Medicare”; more on that in a minute.


So if we add up Mr. Ryan’s specific proposals, we have $4.3 trillion in tax cuts, partially offset by around $1.7 trillion in spending cuts — with the tax cuts, surprise, disproportionately benefiting the top 1 percent, while the spending cuts would primarily come at the expense of low-income families. Over all, the effect would be to increase the deficit by around two and a half trillion dollars.


Yet Mr. Ryan claims to be a deficit hawk. What’s the basis for that claim?


Well, he says that he would offset his tax cuts by “base broadening,” eliminating enough tax deductions to make up the lost revenue. Which deductions would he eliminate? He refuses to say — and realistically, revenue gain on the scale he claims would be virtually impossible.


At the same time, he asserts that he would make huge further cuts in spending. What would he cut? He refuses to say.


What Mr. Ryan actually offers, then, are specific proposals that would sharply increase the deficit, plus an assertion that he has secret tax and spending plans that he refuses to share with us, but which will turn his overall plan into deficit reduction.


If this sounds like a joke, that’s because it is. Yet Mr. Ryan’s “plan” has been treated with great respect in Washington. He even received an award for fiscal responsibility from three of the leading deficit-scold pressure groups. What’s going on?


The answer, basically, is a triumph of style over substance. Over the longer term, the Ryan plan would end Medicare as we know it — and in Washington, “fiscal responsibility” is often equated with willingness to slash Medicare and Social Security, even if the purported savings would be used to cut taxes on the rich rather than to reduce deficits. Also, self-proclaimed centrists are always looking for conservatives they can praise to showcase their centrism, and Mr. Ryan has skillfully played into that weakness, talking a good game even if his numbers don’t add up.


The question now is whether Mr. Ryan’s undeserved reputation for honesty and fiscal responsibility can survive his participation in a deeply dishonest and irresponsible presidential campaign.


The first sign of trouble has already surfaced over the issue of Medicare. Mr. Romney, in an attempt to repeat the G.O.P.’s successful “death panels” strategy of the 2010 midterms, has been busily attacking the president for the same Medicare savings that are part of the Ryan plan. And Mr. Ryan’s response when this was pointed out was incredibly lame: he only included those cuts, he says, because the president put them “in the baseline,” whatever that means. Of course, whatever Mr. Ryan’s excuse, the fact is that without those savings his budget becomes even more of a plan to increase, not reduce, the deficit.


So will the choice of Mr. Ryan mean a serious campaign? No, because Mr. Ryan isn’t a serious man — he just plays one on TV.  [Read full article]

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Fouled Waters: Woodlands residents search for ways to survive without clean water

Fouled Waters: Woodlands residents search for ways to survive without clean water | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

By Erich Schwartzel / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


If Janet McIntyre needs to shower and can't drive the 11 miles to her son's house, she steps outside and undresses. Her husband puts on a rain poncho and pours three gallons of water over her as she hides behind a shower curtain hanging between two cars that sit in their yard.


Before Kim McEvoy watched her home value plummet and moved to one with public water, she went behind rhododendron plants to urinate. Her fiance used bushes along the other side of the house -- the "men's room."

And when the time comes to refill the tank that provides clean water to her home, Barb Romito waits to see if her anonymous donor has pulled through once again and paid the $125 fee needed twice a month to keep her faucets flowing.


These and other lifestyle adjustments started in the Woodlands neighborhood about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh after January 2011, when residents started calling each other with the same story: Water from their wells was running brown or black with floating pieces of solid material in it, and it smelled awful. When they showered, they got rashes. When they drank, they threw up. The farm show rabbits Russ Kelly keeps behind his house even stopped drinking the water.


It was a major disruption in a quiet neighborhood. The community of homes sits several miles off the main drag of Zelienople in Butler County, a grouping of trailers and ranch houses that share bumpy, dirt roads and large yards that sometimes look more like campsites.


Gas drilling had begun near the Woodlands, though some originally thought the tall rigs built to access Marcellus Shale gas thousands of feet below the ground were cell phone towers. They called Rex Energy, the gas company that had drilled at least 15 new wells in the Zelienople area from July to December 2010, and they called the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.


"Next thing you know, the water buffaloes are sprouting up like mushrooms" across the neighborhood, said Ms. McEvoy's fiance, Peter Sowatsky.


If a resident contacts a gas company with suspicions of water contamination, it is typically company practice that an alternate source of water -- usually in the form of a large tank called a "buffalo" -- must be provided within 48 hours. Many residents used the water buffaloes provided by Rex, replacing the private wells they'd depended on for decades, while Rex and the DEP conducted tests.


But when both test results came back, the Woodlands neighborhood residents who'd noticed unmistakable changes in the look and taste of their water were told nothing was wrong.


[Read more.]

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Tom Coburn, The Most Frustrated Man In Washington

Tom Coburn, The Most Frustrated Man In Washington | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

By Jon Ward, The Huffington Post

...


"I think I'm probably at the highest level of frustration I've ever been since I've been in Washington," said the two-term senator, who plans to leave Congress in 2016, under a self-imposed term limit.


"Everybody says we can't do anything before the election, we might not get reelected. Well why the heck did we come here if it wasn't to fix problems?" Coburn demanded.


Coburn may be one of the few people in Washington -- in all of American politics -- who refuses to accept the status quo in an election year.


When he points out that "the problems are obvious," he's obviously correct. The national debt is approaching $16 trillion, the government has run four straight trillion-dollar deficits, the economy is stalled again and the tax code has become so unpredictable due to short-term fixes that the expiration of multiple patch-like measures at the end of the year has come to be known as "the fiscal cliff."

...


"The election's hurting the country," he said. "I'm almost to the point where I think we should have one six-year term of a president so they'd never run for reelection. Because for the last year and a half he's been running for reelection rather than running the country."


The "he" that Coburn referred to, of course, is Obama, the target of much of Coburn's criticism these days. But Obama is also Coburn's personal friend, going back to when both entered the Senate in 2004 as freshman and formed a quick bond.

...

Coburn regularly sends handwritten notes to Obama. "I wrote one last week," he said.


But his bond with the president is fraying a bit as the national debt -- Coburn's top concern - heads skyward, with no sign of an agreement in sight to slow it down.


Coburn wrote in his recent book, "The Debt Bomb," that Obama's refusal to engage with the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction commission in 2010, and his rejection of their recommendations, "will be remembered as one of the greatest failures of presidential leadership in American history."


Harsh.


"Look, I love the guy personally. We just -- we're not the same politically," Coburn said.

....


And in fact, while Coburn has rebuked Obama and Reid, his most bitter foe in Washington is Grover Norquist, the conservative power broker and anti-tax crusader who runs Americans for Tax Reform.

Coburn and Norquist have battled for over a year now, largely fighting over whether closing tax loopholes and eliminating deductions qualifies as a tax increase. In addition, Coburn voted for the Bowles-Simpson plan, even though it included tax increases.

...

But Coburn, while he would like to see spending and the deficit reduced without taxes going up, believes the country is in too serious a situation to put purity ahead of a compromise solution. He is a bridge between the Republicans and Democrats.


[Read more.]

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New York to Repeat Chicagos Parking Meter Catastrophe | | Rolling Stone

New York to Repeat Chicagos Parking Meter Catastrophe |  | Rolling Stone | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Readers of my last book, Griftopia, might recall a chapter about the city of Chicago leasing 75 years of its parking meter revenue to a coterie of private investors, some of them from the Middle East. The end result was and is a political obscenity: Native Chicagoans are now completely at the mercy of private interests when it comes to parking rates, collections, even holidays. When elected officials in Illinois can’t shut off the parking meters on Abe Lincoln’s birthday because a bunch of sheiks in Dubai don’t want the revenue stream turned off even for a day, you know something has gone seriously sideways in the national body politic.

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Norquist: Ryan to Romney as Cheney was to Bush

Norquist: Ryan to Romney as Cheney was to Bush | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by TOMER OVADIA, Politico


Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist says that although he didn't want Paul Ryan to be the GOP vice presidential nominee at first, he is now pleased with the pick and predicts that he will do for domestic policy what Dick Cheney did for national security.


Norquist made the comments in an interview with Bloomberg TV set to air Friday night, in which he was asked if Ryan’s economic experience would make him a domestic policy equivalent to Cheney’s major national security role as vice president under George W. Bush.


“Absent Gitmo, yes,” Norquist replied. “I think that he would certainly have a large footprint. I was actually publicly an advocate of not having Ryan be the vice presidential nominee, not because I don’t think Ryan’s key or important, but because I think he’s so key and important.”


He later clarified: “I wanted him to stay in the House and run the Romney-Ryan plan through the House and the Senate, because I thought that was so important.”


Norquist told Bloomberg TV that Ryan’s budget plan has the advantage of having “been scored by CBO,” “written down” and vetted by the Republican in Congress, but that he expects Romney to embrace Ryan’s plan “with rough edges taken off and changes here and there.” [Read more.]

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The ugly presidential campaign

The ugly presidential campaign | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Excerpt from column by Dana Milbank, Washington Post


Forgive me, but I’m not prepared to join this walk down Great Umbrage Street just yet. Yes, it’s ugly out there. But is this worse than four years ago, when Obama was accused by the GOP vice presidential nominee of “palling around with terrorists”? Or eight years ago, when Democratic nominee John Kerry was accused of falsifying his Vietnam War record?


What’s different this time is that the Democrats are employing the same harsh tactics that have been used against them for so long, with so much success. They have ceased their traditional response of assuming the fetal position when attacked, and Obama’s campaign is giving as good as it gets — and then some.


Balz is correct when he observes that the “most striking” element of the campaign is “the sense that all restraints are gone, the guardrails have disappeared and there is no incentive for anyone to hold back.” In large part, this is because the Democrats are no longer simply whining about the other side being reckless and unfair: They are being reckless and unfair themselves.


The starkest example of this was an ad by Priorities USA, a pro-Obama super PAC, that implied that Romney was to blame for a woman’s death because her husband lost his job and health insurance when Bain Capital took over his steel mill. After an initial attempt to distance themselves from the super PAC — Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz comically claimed that she had “no idea” about the political affiliation of the group, which is run by two former Obama staffers — Democratic officials defended the ad’s accusation.


David Axelrod said Sunday on “Meet the Press” that the ad “doesn’t cross the line” and then pivoted to declare that Romney “ought to be ashamed of himself” for running a false ad about Obama’s welfare policy.


It’s true that Romney is in a weak position to be complaining that the other side has been mean and nasty. He won the nomination by eviscerating his rivals with negative ads and accusations, and an ad his team aired last week that falsely claimed Obama was gutting welfare-to-work requirements injected racial politics into the campaign.


Also, many of the things Romney complains about are not unusual. Asked Wednesday morning by CBS News to explain why he thinks Obama has brought hatred into the campaign, Romney mentioned “the divisiveness based upon income, age, ethnicity and so forth. It’s designed to bring a sense of enmity and jealousy and anger.” But that’s standard fare for a presidential campaign. [MORE]

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Catch-22 at the Pennsylvania ballot box

Catch-22 at the Pennsylvania ballot box | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by The Washington Post Editorial Board


ON WEDNESDAY, a Pennsylvania judge upheld the state's voter ID law, which requires residents to present photo identification at the polls. It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania voters - especially minority voters - lack the type of ID the law demands.


Of all the Republican-backed voter ID laws proposed since 2010, Pennsylvania’s is the one with the most demonstrable partisan motivation. All of these laws are bound to have a disproportionate effect on the poor and minorities, groups that contributed to President Obama’s victory in 2008. In Pennsylvania, this partisan advantage was boastfully acknowledged by Mike Turzai, the state's House Republican leader: "Voter ID," he said in June, "which is going to allow Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania - done."


This unapologetically partisan legislation now has been legitimized in court. The result of Judge Robert Simpson's ruling will be the disenfranchisement of some voters, though how many is a matter that can still be affected. Although he condemned the partisan noise around the law as "disturbing" and "tendentious," Judge Simpson - echoing the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling on a similar case in Indiana - said these concerns had little to do with the substance of the law. "The Commonwealth’s asserted interest in protecting public confidence in elections," he wrote, "is a relevant and legitimate state interest sufficiently weighty to justify the burden."  [Read more.]

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Tom Morello: 'Paul Ryan Is the Embodiment of the Machine Our Music Rages Against'

Tom Morello: 'Paul Ryan Is the Embodiment of the Machine Our Music Rages Against' | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Last week, Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan, the Republican architect of Congress's radical right-wing budget plan, as his running mate. Ryan has previously cited Rage Against the Machine as one of his favorite bands. Rage guitarist Tom Morello responds in this exclusive op-ed.


by TOM MORELLO, Rolling Stone 

 

Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. Charles Manson loved the Beatles but didn't understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn't understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine.


Ryan claims that he likes Rage's sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don't care for Paul Ryan's sound or his lyrics. He can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage.


I wonder what Ryan's favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of "Fuck the Police"? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!


Don't mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta "rage" in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he's not raging against is the privileged elite he's groveling in front of for campaign contributions.


You see, the super rich must rationalize having more than they could ever spend while millions of children in the U.S. go to bed hungry every night. So, when they look themselves in the mirror, they convince themselves that "Those people are undeserving. They're . . . lesser." Some of these guys on the extreme right are more cynical than Paul Ryan, but he seems to really believe in this stuff. This unbridled rage against those who have the least is a cornerstone of the Romney-Ryan ticket. [MORE]

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Bill Moyers Wants Your Help in Documenting the Voter Suppression Campaign of 2012

Bill Moyers Wants Your Help in Documenting the Voter Suppression Campaign of 2012 | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Bill wants your help building awareness about obstacles placed in front of valid voters across the country.  WATCH VIDEO


by BILL MOYERS, BillMoyers.com


In ten states so far — some of them swing states — voter ID laws make it prohibitively difficult for some voters, particularly the elderly, poor and minorities, to get required photo identification. Besides requiring voter ID, other laws have decreased the number of early voting days, made it harder for nonprofit groups to register new voters, and repealed election day voter registration.


Rather than throw your hands up in desperation at the powerful political steamroller smashing our democracy, Bill encourages you to re-double your efforts to make a difference, as others have. He offers some real-life, real-people examples, and asks you to share your encounters with politically-motivated rules that make it harder to register or vote, as well as stories of your efforts to overcome them.

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Ethics Watchdogs Planning to Crash Convention Parties

Ethics Watchdogs Planning to Crash Convention Parties | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by ELIZABETH FLOCK, US News


For decades, a large part of the allure of political conventions was the parties. In recent years, that's gotten complicated. The economy is bad, but more than that, the optics are bad. A lobbyist and congressman cozying up over a martini can be recorded on an iPhone and uploaded to the Internet within seconds.


At this year's conventions, two nonprofits say they're making it their goal to catch those in bed together who shouldn't be.


Armed with cameras and the press, the Sunlight Foundation and Public Citizen plan to crash convention parties in a double-teaming effort.


The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to increasing transparency and accountability in politics, will focus on discovering instances of corporate influence peddling, and will be tracking the convention parties at its site Political Party Time.


Public Citizen, a consumer rights advocacy group, will focus on violators of an ethics rule put in place in 2007 that prevents lobbying organizations from hosting an event honoring a lawmaker.


Together, the groups plan to "bird-dog" partygoers, a term used to mean forcing politicians to address an issue instead of running from it, just as a bird dog persistently hunts and retrieves a bird.


In 2008, a similar effort at the conventions successfully shut down a party of House freshman Democrats. "They were just elected on the ethics platform," Craig Holman of Public Citizen tells Whispers. "And then they had a party in violation of ethics rules. It was sponsored by a lobbying entity, and honoring the freshman Democrats." [MORE]

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Become a Coffee Party Member

The Coffee Party is crowd-funded and we're proud of it!  By having thousands of small donors (avg. $28) instead of a handful of SuperPAC sized donors, we are free to follow the truth wherever it leads us. The Coffee Party brings you media content of, by, and for the People.

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Ryan Pick Solidifies Competing Visions in Federal Budget Debate

Ryan Pick Solidifies Competing Visions in Federal Budget Debate | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by JO COMERFORD, National Priorities Project

 

If there was ever any doubt that the U.S. federal budget would claim center-stage in the 2012 presidential race, it vanished with Mitt Romney's selection of House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) as the GOP Vice Presidential nominee.

 

Although Mitt Romney has emphasized he will run on a Romney budget, not a Ryan budget, he has already endorsed central elements of Ryan's plan – such as significant cuts to Medicaid and education – and has indicated that the Congressman will play a lead role in shaping the Romney/Ryan platform.

 

Paul Ryan's federal budget proposal includes sweeping changes that supporters say are necessary to shrink bloated government and balance the federal budget, but opponents believe would be draconian in their impact on the American people and the economy. [MORE]

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From GOP County Chair to Coffee Party Radio Host and Advocate for the Poor

Join Jessica in the Coffee Party's Active Citizen campaign: http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/volunteer

Hear Jessica's latest radio show: http://ow.ly/d4KvN 

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Executive Excess 2012: The CEO Hands in Uncle Sam's Pocket

Executive Excess 2012: The CEO Hands in Uncle Sam's Pocket | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

How our tax dollars subsidize exorbitant executive pay...


by Sarah Anderson, Chuck Collins, Scott Klinger, Sam Pizzigati, of Institute for Policy Studies


Nationwide, budget cuts have axed 627,000 public service jobs just since June 2009. Schools, health clinics, fire stations, parks, and recreation facilities—virtually no public service has gone unsqueezed. Tax dollars haven’t seemed this scarce in generations.


Yet tens of billions of these scarce tax dollars are getting diverted. These tax dollars are flowing from average Americans who depend on public services to the kingpins of America’s private sector. They’re subsidizing, directly and indirectly, the mega-million paychecks that go to the top executives at our nation’s biggest banks and corporations.


Exorbitant CEO pay packages have, of course, been outraging Americans for quite some time now. Every new annual CEO pay report seems to bring a rash of predictably angry editorials and calls for reform. But little overall has changed. Wages for average Americans continue to stagnate. Pay for top executives continues to soar.


One key reason why: Our nation’s tax code has become a powerful enabler of bloated CEO pay. Some tax rules on the books today essentially encourage corporations to compensate their executives at unconscionably higher multiples of what their average workers are paid.


Other rules let executives who run major corporations routinely reduce their corporate tax bills. The fewer dollars these corporations pay in taxes, the more robust their eventual earnings and the higher the “performance-based” pay for the CEOs who produce them.


In effect, we’re rewarding corporate executives for gaming the tax system. Our tax code is helping the CEOs of our nation’s most prosperous corporations pick Uncle Sam’s pocket.


In this latest Institute for Policy Studies Executive Excess annual report, our 19th consecutive, we take a close look at the most lucrative tax incentives and subsidies behind bloated CEO pay and highlight those executives who have reaped the highest rewards from tax code provisions that actively encourage outrageously disproportionate executive pay. [MORE]

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Mitt Romney's Latest Headache: Rep.Todd Akin’s Rape/Abortion Remarks | Nomadic Politics

Mitt Romney's Latest Headache: Rep.Todd Akin’s Rape/Abortion Remarks | Nomadic Politics | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Just when you may have thought the Republican party couldn’t get any more ignorant and hypocritical, in one fell swoop, a remark by the Tea Party nominee in the Senate race for the state of Missouri has demonstrated that the party has untapped reserves of both.

On a recent St. Louis TV program Rep. Todd Akins was asked about women’s reproductive health issues, and whether his anti-abortion stand included an exemption for rape. He replied that it did not. Why? Because in those cases, he claimed, a woman’s body will somehow know to end the pregnancy itself. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
There was immediate outrage by women’s groups, which is a fairly predictable result whenever a politician- especially a male one- is foolish enough to put the words “legitimate” and “rape” together in the same sentence. (It's also an effective way to isolate yourself at a cocktail party, I might add.)
Apologists for the Congressman- where they could be found- shrugged off the remarks as just a poor choice of words and (c'mon guys!) an artificial controversy.

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Romney campaign tripped by Biden’s ‘chains’

Romney campaign tripped by Biden’s ‘chains’ | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post | Opinion


So much for the selection of Paul Ryan as the veep nominee as the end of the petty bickering and the start of the campaign of “big ideas.” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul claims that “President Obama’s campaign keeps sinking lower.” What was the offense? Vice President Biden said the word “chains.”


In tone and bite, Biden is to the Obama campaign what John Sununu is to the Romney campaign. Only the vice president is polished and likeable. Biden was speaking at a Virginia rally that the Associated Press reports “included hundreds of black people,” and he warned the assembled that Romney wanted to do away with the post-2008 regulations on Wall Street. “Unchain Wall Street,” Biden said. “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.” Yeah, that was wince-worthy. It shall join all the others on the Biden blooper reel. But the high dudgeon of the Romney campaign is rather precious.


This is the campaign that seemed perfectly fine with Sununu saying he wished the president “would learn to be an American.”

This is the campaign that continues to be a-okay with supporter Donald Trump’s racist birtherism.


This is the campaign that has been mute in the face of Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) hyperbolic assertion that Obama would “rather you be his slave.”


This is the campaign that is allowing Newt Gingrich to host “Newt University” at the Tampa convention this month. The former House speaker is fond of calling Obama a “food stamp president.”A wicked phrase that has more racial baggage than a klansman’s El Camino.


This is the campaign of the candidate who uttered the equally racially fraught “if they want more stuff from government ... more free stuff” when talking to supporters in Montana about what he told the NAACP about his desire to repeal Obamacare.


This is the campaign that is running a completely dishonest ad about the Obama administration’s welfare policy. “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and you wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check,” the narrator says before the obligatory “I’m Mitt Romney and I approve this message” sign-off. [MORE]

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When Cruelty Is Cute

When Cruelty Is Cute | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Excerpt from column by Maureen Dowd, NY Times


Rush Limbaugh hails Ryan as “the last Boy Scout,” noting that the tall, slender 42-year-old is a true believer: “We now have somebody on the ticket who’s us.”


For the rest of us, at least, Ryan is not going to raise our hopes only to dash them. Unlike W., he’s not even going to make a feint at “compassionate conservatism.” Why bother with some silly scruple or toehold of conscience?


Unlike some of the right-wing ayatollahs, Ryan doesn’t threaten with moral and cultural gusts of sulfur. He seems more like a friendly guidance counselor who wants to teach us how to live, get us in shape, PowerPoint away the social safety net to make the less advantaged more self-reliant, as he makes the rich richer. Burning the village it takes to save it, so we can avoid the fiscal cliff, or as he and his fellow conservative Cassandras ominously call it, “the debt bomb.”


Like Mitt Romney, Ryan truly believes he made it on his own, so everyone else can, too. He shrugs off the advantage of starting as the white guy from an affluent family, able to breeze into a summer internship for a Wisconsin Republican senator as a college student.


Only 16 and the youngest of four when he discovered his lawyer dad dead in bed from a heart attack at 55, Ryan had to grow up fast.


The Midwestern kid was guided by what David Stockman calls “Irving Kristol’s ex-Trotskyites” turned neo-cons; Jack Kemp, the cheery supply-sider who actually cared about the disadvantaged, and by one of Kemp’s favorite authors, Russian émigré and cult leader Ayn (pronounced like swine, as she used to say) Rand.


“And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism,” Ryan said in a 2005 speech to the Atlas Society. He even gave copies of “Atlas Shrugged” to staffers at Christmas. He did not emulate Rand on everything, given that she adamantly opposed Ronald Reagan, saying, “Since he denies the right to abortion, he cannot be a defender of any rights.”


Ryan co-sponsored the Sanctity of Life Act enshrining a fertilized egg with the definition of “personhood” and supported a bill Democrats nicknamed the “Let Women Die Act,” which would have let hospitals that get federal money deny women abortions even in life-threatening circumstances.


And Rand would not have approved of Ryan’s votes in the House backing W.’s profligate spending on unwinnable wars, a bank bailout and a Medicare expansion. She would no doubt have been thrilled, however, that under the Ryan budget plan, the megarich Romney would go from paying shamefully as little as possible in taxes to virtually no taxes.


Ryan was drawn to Rand’s novels, with their rejection of “the altruist morality,” making narcissism a social virtue; her exhortation that man must not only strive for “physical values” — her heroes were hot — and self-made wealth, but a “self-made soul.” Like John Galt, who traces a dollar sign “over the desolate earth” at the end of “Atlas Shrugged,” Rand idolized the dollar. She wore a brooch shaped like a dollar sign, and a 6-foot dollar sign stood beside her coffin at her wake.


Although the Catholic Ryan told Fox News’s Brit Hume in an interview that aired Tuesday night that he “completely disagreed” with Rand’s “atheistic philosophy,” he said his interest in economics was “triggered” by her.


His long infatuation with her makes him seem even younger than he looks with his cowlick because Randism is a state of arrested adolescence, making its disciples feel like heroic teenagers atop a lofty mountain peak.


The secretive, ambiguous Romney was desperate for ideological clarity, so he outsourced his political identity to Ryan, a numbers guy whose numbers don’t add up.


This just proves that Romney will never get over his anxiety about not being conservative enough. As president, he’d still feel the need to prove himself with right-wing Supreme Court picks.


Ryan should stop being so lovable. People who intend to hurt other people should wipe the smile off their faces. [MORE]

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The ugly presidential campaign

The ugly presidential campaign | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

Excerpt from column by Dana Milbank, Washington Post


Forgive me, but I’m not prepared to join this walk down Great Umbrage Street just yet. Yes, it’s ugly out there. But is this worse than four years ago, when Obama was accused by the GOP vice presidential nominee of “palling around with terrorists”? Or eight years ago, when Democratic nominee John Kerry was accused of falsifying his Vietnam War record?


What’s different this time is that the Democrats are employing the same harsh tactics that have been used against them for so long, with so much success. They have ceased their traditional response of assuming the fetal position when attacked, and Obama’s campaign is giving as good as it gets — and then some.


Balz is correct when he observes that the “most striking” element of the campaign is “the sense that all restraints are gone, the guardrails have disappeared and there is no incentive for anyone to hold back.” In large part, this is because the Democrats are no longer simply whining about the other side being reckless and unfair: They are being reckless and unfair themselves.


The starkest example of this was an ad by Priorities USA, a pro-Obama super PAC, that implied that Romney was to blame for a woman’s death because her husband lost his job and health insurance when Bain Capital took over his steel mill. After an initial attempt to distance themselves from the super PAC — Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz comically claimed that she had “no idea” about the political affiliation of the group, which is run by two former Obama staffers — Democratic officials defended the ad’s accusation.


David Axelrod said Sunday on “Meet the Press” that the ad “doesn’t cross the line” and then pivoted to declare that Romney “ought to be ashamed of himself” for running a false ad about Obama’s welfare policy.


It’s true that Romney is in a weak position to be complaining that the other side has been mean and nasty. He won the nomination by eviscerating his rivals with negative ads and accusations, and an ad his team aired last week that falsely claimed Obama was gutting welfare-to-work requirements injected racial politics into the campaign.


Also, many of the things Romney complains about are not unusual. Asked Wednesday morning by CBS News to explain why he thinks Obama has brought hatred into the campaign, Romney mentioned “the divisiveness based upon income, age, ethnicity and so forth. It’s designed to bring a sense of enmity and jealousy and anger.” But that’s standard fare for a presidential campaign. [MORE]

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Rick Scott Strikes Out Again: Federal Court Blocks Florida Attack On Early Voting

Rick Scott Strikes Out Again: Federal Court Blocks Florida Attack On Early Voting | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

By Tara Culp-Ressler, Think Progress


Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) has been relentless in his push to restrict the right to vote. He's advanced an illegal voter purge that would have disproportionately impacted the minority citizens in his state. And a federal court blocked his effort to suppress voter registration last May. On Thursday, a federal court in Washington, DC concluded that another part of Scott’s anti-voting agenda cannot take effect because the state’s new restrictions on early voting negatively impact minority communities.


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Be the Media w/ Coffee Party USA

Be the Media w/ Coffee Party USA | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

CLICK HERE and get connected to a network of half a million people that reaches 2 million people every week. 

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Romney's link to union suppression ruling

Romney's link to union suppression ruling | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

by Robin Harding, Financial Times


A company controlled by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital ran an unlawful campaign to suppress a potential union in the 1980s, according to US court and federal agency documents.


Key Airlines, an early investment for the private equity firm founded by a young Mitt Romney and two associates, broke the law by attempting to coerce and then dismiss two pilots who tried to organise a union. Two months after a union vote failed, Bain agreed to sell Key Airlines at a large profit.


"The anti-union activities in this case are not merely unfair labour practices as Key argues, but blatant, grievous, wilful, deliberate and repeated violations of the Railway Labour Act," Roger Foley, federal judge for the District of Nevada, wrote in 1992, in a case brought by two Key pilots.


The case illustrates an episode in Mr Romney’s business career and raises questions about how it has prepared him to manage the US economy. [Read more.]

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Gore Vidal » Gore Vidal on Ayn Rand in 1961: ‘She Has a Great Attraction for Simple People’

Gore Vidal » Gore Vidal on Ayn Rand in 1961: ‘She Has a Great Attraction for Simple People’ | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

"This odd little woman is attempting to give a moral sanction to greed and self interest," Gore Vidal said of Ayn Rand, writing for Esquire in July 1961, "and to pull it off she must at times indulge in purest Orwellian newspeak of the 'freedom is slavery' sort."


The mindset of Rand’s followers has not changed over the decades. "She has a great attraction for simple people" Vidal said then, "who are puzzled by organized society, who object to paying taxes, who dislike the 'welfare' state, who feel guilt at the thought of the suffering of others but who would like to harden their hearts. For them, she has an enticing prescription: altruism is the root of all evil, self-interest is the only good, and if you're dumb or incompetent that's your lookout."


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james's comment, August 17, 2012 7:00 PM
Ayn Rand didn't write for the simple-minded; she offered a simple solution. So the moral of this story is if you are trying to sell a point of charity rather than greed, use the KISS approach. So far compassion seems to have a convoluted message compared to the over-simplified "greed is good" mantra. We need to change the dialogue from greed vs charity and move it to sustainability and viability for the sake not only of the rich and poor of today, but of those we have put into economic slavery that have not yet been born.
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John Bogle, Vanguard’s Founder, Is Too Worried to Rest

John Bogle, Vanguard’s Founder, Is Too Worried to Rest | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

By JEFF SOMMER, NY Times


At 83, John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, says he’s never seen a market as treacherous as this one. But he still sees buying and holding index funds as the best option.


He is still preaching the gospel of long-term, low-cost investing. “My ideas are very simple,” he says: “In investing, you get what you don’t pay for. Costs matter. So intelligent investors will use low-cost index funds to build a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, and they will stay the course. And they won’t be foolish enough to think that they can consistently outsmart the market.”


Still, because the market and the economy are deeply troubled, it’s time for action on many fronts, he says: “We’ve really got no choice. We’ve got to fix this system. All of us, as individuals, need to do it.”

That’s the message of his latest and 11th book, “The Clash of the Cultures: Investment vs. Speculation” (Wiley & Sons, $29.95). It offers a scathing critique of the financial services industry and updated guidance for investors. “A culture of short-term speculation has run rampant,” he writes, “superseding the culture of long-term investment that was dominant earlier in the post-World War II era.”


Too much money is aimed at short-term speculation — the seeking of quick profit with little concern for the future. The financial system has been wounded by a flood of so-called innovations that merely promote hyper-rapid trading, market timing and shortsighted corporate maneuvering. Individual investors are being shortchanged, he writes.


Corporate money is flooding into political campaigns. The American retirement system faces a train wreck. America’s fundamental values are threatened. Mr. Bogle remains a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist but says the system has “gotten out of balance,” threatening our entire society. “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else,” he says, quoting Winston Churchill. Now, he says, it’s time to try something else.


He advocates taxes to discourage short-term speculation. He wants limits on leverage, transparency for financial derivatives, stricter punishments for financial crimes and, perhaps most urgently, a unified fiduciary standard for all money managers: “A fiduciary standard means, basically, put the interests of the client first. No excuses. Period.”


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If political lies are going to be repeated, the truth needs to be, too.

If political lies are going to be repeated, the truth needs to be, too. | Coffee Party News | Scoop.it

What to do with political lies.  Fact-checkers are no longer enough.


by GARANCE FRANKE-RUTA, The Atlantic


My former Washington Post colleague Alec MacGillis has a thought-provoking piece in The New Republic today about "The Welfare Card and the Post-Truth Campaign," lamenting the lies he's heard from Mitt Romney on the stump in Ohio and how little covered they are. Romney, writes MacGillis:


...got his biggest applause during this riff:


I want you to know I heard something the other day that really surprised me... What I heard is that the president is taking the work requirement out of welfare. (Boos.) Yeah. We value work, our society which celebrates hard work, we look to a government to make it easier for jobs to be created and people to go to work. We do not look for a government that tries to find ways to provide for people who are not willing to work. And so I'm gonna put work back into welfare and make sure able-bodied people can get jobs.


....After the speech, several in the audience told me that their favorite part had been Romney's calling out Obama for weakening welfare work requirements. Yes, one of the more depressing parts of the job of being a political reporter is watching an audience fully absorb a blatant and knowing lie. Which is, of course, what this is....


Romney just keeps using it, at stop after stop, in ad after ad. How can this be possible? Well, maybe because very few of my colleagues in the press seem all that troubled by it. Unless I've missed it, none of the national papers or networks or Buzzfeeders have done a comprehensive report on Romney's persistence in playing the welfare card. It's as if it was enough to have the factcheckers offer their initial scolding, but after that, hey, anything goes. I saw no mention in dispatches from yesterday of Romney's successful use of the welfare line in Beallsville -- instead, the stories were dominated by Romney's declaration of outrage, later in the day, over Obama's campaign of "anger and hate."


One person who is troubled by it is the Post's Dan Balz, who also lamented the ineffectiveness of the fact-checking process today in a piece on how poisonous the 2012 campaign has become.


News organizations instituted fact-checking and ad watches in reaction to earlier campaigns, when candidates were getting away with half-truths and worse, with little accountability. These have become robust and increasingly comprehensive. But they are not providing much of a check on the behavior of the campaigns.


Fact-checking was a great development in accountability journalism -- but perhaps it's time for a new approach. It's no longer enough to outsource the fact-checking to the fact-checkers in a news environment where every story lives an independent life on the social Web and there's no guarantee the reader of any given report will ever see a bundled version of the news or the relevant fact-checking column, which could have been published months earlier. One-off fact-checking is no match for the repeated lie.


Objective news outlets had to deal with this last cycle, too. Remember the huge controversy over how to cover the allegations that Obama was a Muslim without just publicizing the smear -- or suggesting that there is anything wrong with being Muslim?


The solution now as then lies in repeated boilerplate, either inserted by editors who back-stop their writers, or by writers who save it as B-matter (background or pre-written text) so they don't have to come up with a new way of saying something every single time they file. Basic, simple, brief factual boilerplate can save an article from becoming a crutch for one campaign or the other; can save time; and can give readers a fuller understanding of the campaigns, even if they haven't had time to read deep dives on complex topics.


"Obama, who is a Christian" was the macro of the 2008 cycle in reporting on the "Barack Obama is a Muslim" smears. Also widely used: "the false allegation that Obama is Muslim." Such careful writing may not have done much to disabuse nearly a fifth of Americans of the idea that Obama is a Muslim -- national newspaper stories can influence elite opinion while barely making a dent on widely held views in a nation of more than 300 million -- but they provided readers with an accurate sense of the facts while learning about a politically significant campaign development. [MORE]

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