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In the past week or two, there's been crowing on the left about anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist's slipping influence, as a small—emphasis on small—number of congressional Republicans murmur that they might accept a tax/spending deal that includes a hike in rates for the wealthy. For years, Norquist has been the whip of the conservative movement, leaning on GOP candidates and legislators to commit to and stand by a no-tax pledge and acting as prosecutor, judge, and jury whenever any Republican considered any initiative that might possibly be characterized as a tax increase. But as President Barack Obama bargains (toughly) with House Speaker John Boehner as the fiscal cliff (or bump) nears, Norquist, his cachet waning or not, is not Boehner's problem. He is not the force that is preventing the speaker from striking a deal with an electorally energized Obama. The true obstacle is Boehner's own comrades: those scores of tea partiers in the House Republican caucus who detest compromise—especially with the president. As Boehner tries to forge an accord with Obama, he has to watch carefully his colleagues and his back.
This has been the challenge for Boehner for the past two years. There's not much doubt that in the summer of 2011 he sincerely desired attaining the so-called grand bargain Obama offered: spending cuts and Medicare and Medicaid reductions (that were harder on providers than beneficiaries) in return for greater tax revenues squeezed from the wealthy and corporations and a hike in the debt ceiling. And Boehner presumably would fancy producing such a mighty deal now. But two summers ago Boehner was warned by moderate Republicans in his caucus that if he accepted anything resembling the package Obama was offering he would face a rebellion, perhaps a mutiny, within his own caucus that might be led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. That could have led to his demise as speaker.
This basic dynamic—Boehner cannot haggle freely with the president due to the intense opposition to a deal within his own ranks—has not fundamentally changed. What has changed is the president's hand. According to senior administration officials, Obama is not eager to go over the cliff, but he is willing. If no deal is reached by the end of the month, all the Bush tax cuts—for the rich and not rich—will evaporate. Obama would then demand in early January that the new Congress immediately pass legislation to reinstate the lower tax rates for the bottom 98 percent. Boehner and the Republicans presumably will find it difficult to say no and insist they will only vote for such tax relief if it includes breaks for the wealthy or cuts in Medicare and other government spending. As a Democratic strategist close to the White House says, "For years we've tried to make the case that the Republicans are willing to hold up tax cuts for 98 percent to help the guys at the top. This is the cleanest shot we've gotten at this." [MORE]
Mitt Romney’s campaign has been training poll watchers in Wisconsin with highly misleading — and sometimes downright false — information about voters’ rights.
Documents from a recent Romney poll watcher training obtained by ThinkProgress contain several misleading or untrue claims about the rights of Wisconsin voters. A source passed along the following packet of documents, which was distributed to volunteers at a Romney campaign training in Racine on October 25th. In total, six such trainings were held across the state in the past two weeks.
One blatant falsehood occurs on page 16 of the training packet, which informed poll watchers that any identification cards from a voter “must include a photo”, despite the fact that Wisconsin’s voter ID law has been blocked by multiple state judges for this election.
The training also encouraged volunteers to deceive election workers and the public about who they were associated with. On page 5 of the packet, Romney poll workers were instructed to hide their affiliation with the campaign and told to sign in at the polls as a “concerned citizen” instead. As Kristina Sesek, Romney’s legal counsel who just graduated from Marquette Law School last year, explained, “We’re going to have you sign in this election cycle as a ‘concerned citizen.’ We’re just trying to alleviate some of the animosity of being a Republican observer up front.”
This packet could cause major problems if Republican observers across the state try to enforce such wrong and misleading information on Election Day. Even if they simply slow the voting process down, this could discourage voters waiting in line and drive drown turnout.
Here are five misleading or incorrect pieces of information disbursed by the Romney campaign: [MORE]
Of the many critical moments in American history, the year 1963 stands out as one of the most climactic. Perhaps it was mainly because that year culminated, as we all know, with the shocking murder of a president in Dallas.
Yet there was so many things going on and so many stories being told just before that awful moment that were lost in the shadow that fell over the nation after the assassination. In this post, I'd like to follow a chain of change that was taking place in that year and why the events of that particular year still reverberate today
The Mount Pleasant Journal is one of several newspapers run by Trib Total Media, a media conglomerate owned by billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. Scaife’s foundation donated hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative organizations ranging from the American Enterprise Institution to the Federalist Society, and he currently serves as vice-chairman of the right-wing Heritage Foundation’s board of trustees.
Last Thursday, at least one of Scaife’s newspapers printed an inaccurate story headlined “Photo ID required for November election,” when, in reality, a court order suspended the requirement that Pennsylvania voters show an ID or lose their right to vote. The following piece appeared in Scaife’s Mount Pleasant Journal: [MORE]
The debate was intense. President Obama was much more assertive and commanding than I expected. However, true to form many of the commentators at CNN initially called the President’s intensity angry and aggressive. Note that Romney’s behavior in the first debate was described as assertive and commanding. When I wrote the blog post “President Obama’s Fear of the Angry Black Man Label Loses the Debate On Style But Wins On Facts” I got some push back. CNN proved the point in real time. I immediately started tweeting both Wolf Blitzer and Jessica Yellin about it and I sent them a link to the blog post. It is essential that when the mainstream media is distorting the narrative that they get real time pushback.
Let us discuss the debate, the polls, and the dangers that are looming with this election.
Opening disclaimer: Tonight, I expected a much better performance from Barack Obama, even though, earlier this week, I was hugged by Michelle Obama, and she thanked me for all my hard work, while I thanked her and her husband for helping me get an education. I don’t know if it was her hugs and encouragement, but Barack Obama got it together, tonight. Yet, I still wish Joe Biden had been there when Romney, a war supporter, blamed America's culture of violence and guns on single parents, like me.
So, while the pundits talk about the extra 4 minutes and Lybia, I’ve got some pointers for Romney, a man who’s path to citizenship is to become a soldier. Poor kids do more than tote guns, sell drugs and kill one another. They also babysit so their single moms can work more for his one percenter poverty wages. Poor kids make good grades to get scholarships and make their parents proud. Some poor kids are like I was, going to high school and working three jobs. Others have given up because they’re going hungry, suffering from untreated illness – mental illness for one, and yes, they are missing out on the benefits of good parenting. Why are they poor, Romney? Because of hardworking poverty wage earning, single women? Or the assholes, who turn a blind eye when filling out our paychecks?
I’ve got a 5 point plan for Romney if he and his war mongering oil friends want to blame a culture of violence on me! Think Lucy in Charlie Brown and count to five! My response is just my first piece of evidence proving that the policies and ideals Romney stands for are what lead to violence. Supporting policies and CEO’s of companies who starve people who work forty hours per week by not paying a living wage; making it harder for people to get good paying jobs here in America by, not only supporting moving US jobs overseas, but actually doing it; perpetuating the idea of white entitlement; and allowing insurance companies to deny children with pre-existing conditions (in order to benefit rich people) is what is creating a culture that devalues the citizens of this country and leads to violence. If you don’t want violence, don’t you DARE BLAME ME OR MY KIDS for culture of violence or war, so you’re white huntin’ buddies will vote for you!
Yes! I admit that my kids have suffered negative consequences of poverty, both while I was single AND married! My question after this debate: Whatchya’ gonna do about the negative effects of poverty Governor? Let me be the first to tell you that providing flexible schedules for a few successful, educated women in Massachusetts isn’t making up for the thousands of young women in China, working 7 days a week to make you richer! Glad you can recognize the importance of parenting when it comes to your friends, but wake up! Maybe if more moms were paid equitable wages (something Obama advocates) instead of the 72 cents for every dollar men make, we’d at least be able to put food in our children’s bellies at the same rate as single dads.
Also, giving me access to lower taxes on my capital gains is offensive, Governor. Not only is your idea an insult to me, it is the perfect example of how ignorant you are of the economic facts of American families. Afterall, Romney, Americans have a very low savings rate. Mostly, because what we used to have left over to invest and save, the wealthy have taken, by our lowering wages and shipping jobs overseas.
I’d love to comment on more aspects of this debate, but all I can do after Romney’s performance, is come to the defense of FAMILIES EXACTLYY LIKE MINE! Romney, at least when Obama loses a debate, he does it on his own merits, not by defaming the hardest working, poorest, most disadvantaged women in the country! It is becoming more and more obvious during this campaign that you, Romney, are incapable of representing a large portion of this country, starting with the 1 in 5 Americans, who are earning poverty level wages!
In polls measuring voter sentiment after last night's vice presidential debate, two polls yielded two very different results.
by LUCY MADISON, CBS NEWS
Shortly after last night's spirited vice presidential debate, CBS News and CNN released instant poll results providing some insight into who voters thought won the evening's showdown - Vice President Joe Biden or Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. Both polls were conducted shortly after the end of the debate, but they told two very different stories.
According to the CBS poll, Biden delivered a decisive victory, with 50 percent of respondents electing him as the winner and 31 choosing Ryan.
CNN's poll, however, showed a much closer contest -- with Ryan leading by four points, at 48 percent to Biden's 44 percent. So what accounts for the difference?
"The CNN and CBS News post-debate polls were conducted among two different samples of voters so different results are not that surprising," said Jen De Pinto, manager of surveys for CBS News' polling unit. "The CBS News Poll interviewed uncommitted voters who watched the debate -voters who are undecided in this election or pick a candidate but say they could change their minds."
Uncommitted voters represent about 15 to 20 percent of the electorate and are potentially up for grabs, according to De Pinto, as most do not align themselves with a political party. In fact, more than half identify as independents. [MORE]
Augustine Carter, an 85-year-old voter in Richmond, Virginia, tells her story of the trouble she went through to vote in 2012. Born in 1928, she never had a birth certificate and she never got a driver's license because she decided years ago that driving wasn't for her. Her baptism certificate was sufficient for all identification purposes until the 2012 election. She had to go through a Kafka-esque bureaucracy including being told by someone at the Motor Vehicle Administration that she couldn't prove that she was not a terrorist. [MORE]
Watch out for the coming hysteria on the so-called “fiscal cliff.” In the post-election commentary, you will hear numerous voices – definitely on...the right but also on the left – arguing that we could not possibly increase taxes this year or next, as this will push our economy back into recession. Do not believe them – this is just the latest disinformation put out by people who agree with Grover Norquist that the real goal of politics should always and everywhere be to reduce taxes and shrink the size of government. It is exactly such policies that have brought us to our current economic predicament.
Mitt Romney’s best argument on the campaign trail has been simple: Under President Obama, the American economy has remained excruciatingly weak, far underperforming the White House’s own projections.
That’s a fair criticism.
But Obama’s best response could be this: If you want to see how Romney’s economic policies would work out, take a look at Europe. And weep.
In the last few years, Germany and Britain, in particular, have implemented precisely the policies that Romney favors, and they have been richly praised by Republicans here as a result. Yet these days those economies seem, to use a German technical term, kaput.
Is Europe a fair comparison? Well, Republicans seem to think so, because they came up with it. In the last few years, they’ve repeatedly cited Republican-style austerity in places like Germany and Britain as a model for America.
Let’s dial back the time machine and listen up:
“Europe is already setting an example for the U.S.,” Representative Kenny Marchant, a Texas Republican, said in 2010. (You know things are bad when a Texas Republican is calling for Americans to study at the feet of those socialist Europeans.)
The same year, Karl Rove praised European austerity as a model for America and approvingly quoted the leader of the European Central Bank as saying: “The idea that austerity measures could trigger stagnation is incorrect.” [MORE]
Teresa Sharp is fifty-three years old and has lived in a modest single-family house on Millsdale Street, in a suburb of Cincinnati, for nearly thirty-three years. A lifelong Democrat, she has voted in every Presidential election since she turned eighteen. So she was agitated when an official summons from the Hamilton County Board of Elections arrived in the mail last month. Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, is one of the most populous regions of the most fiercely contested state in the 2012 election. No Republican candidate has ever won the Presidency without carrying Ohio, and recent polls show Barack Obama and Mitt Romney almost even in the state. Every vote may matter, including those cast by the seven members of the Sharp family—Teresa, her husband, four grown children, and an elderly aunt—living in the Millsdale Street house.
The letter, which cited arcane legal statutes and was printed on government letterhead, was dated September 4th. “You are hereby notified that your right to vote has been challenged by a qualified elector,” it said. “The Hamilton County Board of Elections has scheduled a hearing regarding your right to vote on Monday, September 10th, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. . . . You have the right to appear and testify, call witnesses and be represented by counsel.”
“My first thought was, Oh, no!” Sharp, who is African-American, said. “They ain’t messing with us poor black folks! Who is challenging my right to vote?”
The answer to Sharp’s question is that a new watchdog group, the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, which polices voter-registration rolls in search of “electoral irregularities,” raised questions about her eligibility after consulting a government-compiled list of local properties and mistakenly identifying her house as a vacant lot. The Sharp household had first been identified as suspicious by computer software that had been provided to the Ohio Voter Integrity Project by a national organization called True the Vote. The software, which has been distributed to similar groups around the country, is used to flag certain households, including those with six or more registered voters. This approach inevitably pinpoints many lower-income residents, students, and extended families. [MORE]
Please stop financing private prison corporations that corrupt our governments and extract wealth from taxpayers. It is in your interest as a brand and as a bank to divorce yourself from greed-based profiteers who exploit racial resentment and use secretive corporate lobbying bodies to put in place laws that hurt state economies, hurt public safety, and hurt the fiscal solvency of state governments.
It is in no one's interest, other than ruthless profiteers, when out-of-state tycoons pocket taxpayer money that could otherwise go to education, infrastructure, and public safety. Taxpayers are your customers. Your customers are taxpayers. We should not be forced to pay for private prison industry wealth extraction. We do not wish to pay for the feeding, clothing, housing and medical care for incarcerated workers who would otherwise be productive contributors to a state's economy. We do not wish to see our elected officials corrupted by "donations" and other gifts. This not only harms the economies of states whose governments have been infiltrated by the private prison lobby, it hurts our national economy as well.
Please clear your name, and stop funding the private prison industry. Lawmaking and profiteering simply should not mix. The same should be true for customer relations and the financing of the systematic corruption of our government.
Mitt Romney's story is a case study: Movement publications and think-tanks put electoral victories before principles.
In the conventional telling, Mitt Romney started out as a Massachusetts moderate, failed to win the 2008 GOP primary, watched as the Republican Party took a sharp right turn, and refashioned himself as "severely conservative," permitting himself to be co-opted by the conservative movement. Versions of this story are repeated both by Romney's champions on the right, who want to make sure he retains the support of the conservative base, and by liberals and progressives, who want voters to believe that Romney will govern as a right-wing extremist. Perhaps there is something to this analysis -- it's impossible to say for certain without observing an actual Romney Administration. A conservative gambler wouldn't wager on its contours.
But I think there's an alternative story about Romney that's more plausible. What I think is that Romney won the GOP nomination, despite the misgivings of so many movement conservatives, because of his weak opponents and the fact that the median GOP voter isn't nearly as conservative as Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and RedState would lead everyone to believe. He moved right during the GOP primary and at the beginning of the general election for purely strategic reasons. And if elected, he'll shape-shift as he always does, pursuing "severely conservative" policies only when it is in his political interest, and abandoning conservative principles whenever he thinks it'll help him to up his approval rating, raise money, or win reelection votes.
Movement conservatives probably haven't actually succeeded at guarding against that scenario. Based on the 2008 and 2012 cycles, they put a lot of emphasis on vice-presidential selection, though the VP has little ability to guide policy. They also demand red-meat rhetoric as if it's binding. They ought to worry more about are the tradeoffs Romney is likely to make if elected.
But they are too invested in his getting elected to pin him down.
Their difficult spot is illustrated nicely by the recent kerfuffle over Romney's tax and spending promises. Presidential candidates "lie about each other, they lie about themselves, they lie about issues they know intimately, and they lie about issues they barely understand," Jack Shafer recently wrote in his Reuters column. "If either presidential candidate met you, he'd tell you a lie within 15 seconds of shaking your hand, and if he knew he were going to meet your mother, he'd invent a special set of lies for her. Politicians lie not because they're wicked -- though some are -- but because they've learned that political markets rarely reward honest campaigners."
While politicians and pundits like to characterize presidential debates as election game-changers, years of polling data show that they have mattered only a handful of times over the past 50 years. [MORE]
I’ve said on Facebook that I’m tempted to cut out the middleman this November and write in a vote for Goldman Sachs. But if you’re a traditionalist conservative and you want to accept one of the offerings officially on your ballot, which do you choose?
For partisans, this is a no-brainer. For conservatives in the vein of, say, Russell Kirk, it’s anything but. Faced with the non-choice between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Thomas Dewey in 1944, Kirk said no to empire and voted for Norman Thomas, the Socialist Party candidate. There was no Fox News to tell him a conservative couldn’t do that.
For all that Kirk didn’t like libertarians — “chirping sectaries,” he called them — if he were in search of a peace candidate today he might well consider the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson. Or, closer to Norman Thomas, the Green Party’s Jill Stein.
There’s even an anti-empire case — not a strong one, but one outlined by Justin Raimondo here — for Barack Obama. The incumbent is at least incrementally better than his Republican rival on foreign policy. It’s impossible to imagine Romney not having done every bellicose thing that Obama that did in his first term (from ramping up the drone war in Pakistan to participating in the Libya attack), and Romney has promised a great deal more: more brinksmanship with Iran, more baiting of Russian bears and Chinese dragons, more taxpayer dollars for Pentagon pork. For a smaller military budget and the prospect of fewer wars — according to both candidates themselves — a pragmatic anti-empire conservative might lean toward Obama.
A traditionalist who prioritizes the Supreme Court and the possibility of eventually overturning Roe v. Wade will lean the other way. Romney may or may not appoint reliably right-wing justices, but Obama would invariably appoint more justices like Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Just as there’s a chance of less war with Obama, there’s a chance of ending Roe — or moving in that direction — with Romney. Weigh the prospects.
Economically speaking, both major-party candidates are prisoners of outmoded ideologies. Obama, a Keynesian without gusto, has been remarkably short on proposals for reviving the economy: he offers just more of the same. Romney pins his hopes to “growth” stimulated by low taxes and lower interest rates, a recipe that notably failed to cook up a solution to the impending crisis during the Bush years. Where the economy is concerned, Obama has had basically nothing to say, and nothing Romney says can be trusted. [MORE]
ATLANTA — Less than a year after Occupy Atlanta members clashed with police in riot gear in a downtown park, they're now protesting alongside officers to help a retired detective avoid losing her home to foreclosure.